The message we heard on Thursday, I'm quite convinced of this, is the prevailing message that Pastor Adam was born to preach. And to summarize it for him, it's this: yes, there is a devil, and yes he opposes you, but there is a place in Christ where each and every wile of the enemy is beaten back because of the shield of faith, and the power of a transformed mind.
"We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." 2ND CORINTHIANS 10:5 - NIV
A piece of wisdom that not many Christians possess is the revelation that every thought you have is not your own. This truth, in many ways, was the foundation to our most recent i61 message, 'Stand Firm.' Every matter of psychology or wrong teaching, or even tradition, is brought into question after coming to this realization. And put against the very character of the devil: to deceive, devour, oppose, entice, divide, distract, etc. it's no wonder we have the thoughts we sometimes have. The obvious choice then, rather than own the bad thought or even worse, act on it, we should take it captive, resist it, and dispose of it. This transaction is what Adam was laying out for us on the 29th. (James 1)
As a spectator and a friend of Adam, it was made evident to me just five minutes into the sermon that he is anointed to preach this particular message. One can't lose sight of the grittiness of faith and the product of a renewed mind, and Adam is the best at shining light on it. As I spoke with a regular attendee after the service too, the nail in the coffin is that Adam lives the message, he doesn't just proclaim it from the pulpit.
But enough about Adam. How does one stand firm? Here are three mainstays for digging your heels in and throwing up that shield of faith. (Ephesians 6)
1. Graduating from thinking you have a problem to acknowledging that you have an adversary.
2. Realizing that fear (the driving force for many issues) is not a personality trait, nor a psychological characteristic, but rather a spirit.
3. Matching the devil's hypothetical "what if's?" with "so whats?"
But there's more, as Adam eluded to. It's not satisfactory to simply acknowledge that the devil is real and he likes to play with you; you can actually respond in a way that dismantles his kingdom. It starts with pursuing God's kingdom with full force, a whole heart, in the most intentional way possible. There's nothing casual about it.
"You can't casually have the things of the Kingdom"
Further, if you, through the intentional pursuit of God, actually draw closer to God each time the devil comes knocking, you're actively and purposefully resisting him, and when you resist him, he must flee. (JAMES 4:7)
Here is what that may look like:
a. a lustful thought pops into your head [hypothetically]
b. "God, I thank you that I'm not lustful, that you delivered me from the spirit of lust, and that I've been made clean and pure. I thank you for my spouse and I love them, and I thank you for gifting me with them. Every good and perfect gift is from you, the Father of lights. God, your word says that when I submit to you, I resist the devil, and he must flee. I submit to you right now Father, and I declare that you're Lord and it's you I follow, and you alone. Father, shine a light on any areas in my life where I'm not in full submission to you, because I desire to be humble..." [you're communing with God at this point]
Adam was thorough with these types of dialogue with God on Thursday, and I do believe these examples are effective for people, especially for beginners to the possibility of maturity and attaining the full stature of Christ. (Ephesians 4:13)
To round out the evening, Adam had people stand for certain ailments: fear of man, lust, anxiety, etc. It wasn't anything complex or wordy, and certainly not analytical, it was a simple yet profound call for freedom and discernment, in the name of Jesus. I think in these moments, in these exchanges, people's eyes were being opened and wisdom and faith were being established.
I talked with one man following the service who testified that he had kicked a long-standing habit of smoking cigarettes since meeting God in a new way at Restoration U. This alone is worth the time and the devotion on Thursday nights. And let it be the beginning of a wellspring of success stories and testimony. For it's not for our sake, or even your sake, but for freedom's sake that Christ set us free. Stand firm then, says Galatians 5:1, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by the yoke of slavery!
- J.F. D'Orsie