In the previous blog I was fondly remembering Col and Bertie (not their real names to avoid small town reprisals) who used to come in the evening but never know that it was time to leave. I used it as a metaphor of the way we are often troubled by thoughts and patterns of thinking that come visiting and then outstay their welcome. These kinds of thoughts can bring great pain and do great damage if they we allow them to take up bed and board in our minds.
When I have found myself in a sinking hole of unwelcome thoughts and patterns of thought I have needed to develop strategies to deal with them. This particular strategy is for those times when everything else seems to have failed. It might be useful to think of another metaphor. Sometimes forms of darkness that have authority in your life need to be treated like defiant little boys.
I remember a boy who used to be part of my Scripture class in a primary school near Balmain in Sydney. From the outset it was his unspoken goal to do the opposite of everything we were doing in the class. It became apparent after one or two times. When I showed up in the classroom the third time I waited for his first attack. I then told him to come with me outside into the corridor. I then told him to stand in a certain spot. When he had done that I told him to stand in a different spot. By the third time he was refusing. So I told him we would eat our lunch in the classroom together and I would give him today’s lesson one to one. It took just two weeks to get the message. If there was going to be a challenge between my will in the classroom and his, it was going to by “my will be done in the classroom…” or we would be spending our lunch times together on our own. In a few more weeks this attention seeking behaviour was overcome and we had a good understanding. A few more weeks and he was participating in most of the things we were doing. It was a clash of wills and his was going to wreck it for everyone. It had to be dealt with as a matter of importance.
The same is true for thought patterns and attitudes that are allowed to stay, take up residence, or even take over the whole ‘household. ‘ For myself, there have been times when this has become chronic. What I decided to do in those times was to develop a war cry – really a few war cries. Have you heard people doing a war cry? We used to have one at boarding school. The All Blacks have the haka. That is definitely a war cry. It is designed to do two things. First of all it defines the identity of those on our side of the battle. Secondly it is designed to send a clear message to the opposing side that they are about to be routed. Jesus ‘sort of’ did this when Satan attacked his identity in the wilderness. He raised a war cry using the words of Scripture.
To give an example, I used the Apostles’ Creed at one time as a war cry. I was in a battle and some people were saying all sorts of rubbish about me. Someone in another church in Canberra had employed a partner in a law firm to dig up evidence to have me sued for libel. It wasn’t based on something I had actually said but on what a person in our congregation had said. They even had someone break into our offices and go through out filing system to get the evidence they thought they needed. The whole idea of this appalled me and it began to get me down. So I decided that every time I got battered by this situation, I would go up on the highest hill near where I lived (Ngunnawal at the time) and use the words of the Apostles’ Creed to let the enemy know whose side I was on and what I was putting my trust in. I personalized the words to make it more specific.
I am trusting the God who is my Father
I and trusting the God who made the heavens and the earth
I am only going to serve Jesus Christ, God’s Son.
I will walk in the place of suffering and persecution like my master, Jesus.
I am trusting in the Jesus gift of righteousness to me more than any human opinion of me.
No action done by any human will stop me from doing his will.
The Cross of Christ declares forgiveness and rescue for myself and those who seek to do me harm.
And so on.
I must have yelled that war cry up on the hill beside the big gum tree twenty or thirty times over six or seven occasions. It became my immediate response. When I found myself under the pressure of this rubbish I simply used to say to God and to the powers of darkness that I was going to the tree on the hill and would give him my message then.
I can’t fully express how much peace of mind and heart I was given by God. I was also given opportunity to preach the gospel to people I never knew because of that person trying to attack me. Think how great that was. If you want to know the full story you’ll have to ask me sometime.
I have used the words of Psalm 23 as a war cry. I would advise you against just using the words of the text of Scripture. They are good words of course. The problem is that we are too prone to just say words and it becomes nothing more than a religious ritual. It wasn’t a problem for Jesus because he wasn’t really interested in being religious in the way we are. I would advise you to work up your own version of a Psalm 23 Haka. Make the statements personal and punchy. When you find yourself being bombarded with thought patterns that are destructive treat them like that little boy in the Scripture class. He would have wrecked everything. So we needed to sort the matter out. You need to sort out those things that influence the way you think about yourself and about certain other persons and situations. Go get yourself a haka and then find somewhere to go and shout it. Make an appointment with the powers of darkness so that you can tell them exactly the way things are. You can choose any Scripture reference you like – as long as what it says is your heart felt belief and not just some words in the Bible that you know. Religious activity is no threat to the enemy. Our faith in Jesus is. Testifying about the Word of God is.
Don’t be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. That’s the wisdom of the Bible. It’s good to get yourself a Biblical haka and then go poke your tongue out at the enemy.