[shoulders] SHOULDER TO SHOULDER #354 ---- 9/20/04

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From: "Bob Tolliver" <lifeunlimited@...>
Date: Mon, 20 Sep 2004 18:22:45 +0300
Standing Shoulder To Shoulder Together As 
We Fight the Good Fight of Faith

A personal letter of encouragement to You, written solely to "lift up hands that hang down".

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SHOULDER TO SHOULDER #354 ---- 9.20/04

Title:  ""The March Into Battle -- (part Four)"
            "Warfare's Progressive Postures"


Dear Friend and Pilgrim Partner:

As you might expect, while our bodies are exhausted and our brains are drained, our hearts are flooded with joy, gratitude, and contentment over the celebrations of the week-end.  International Church celebrated its 10th anniversary on Saturday and Sunday, and it was quite a celebration as various ministry "dignitaries", former pastors, former members, and guests met to honor and praise the Lord for His steadfast faithfulness and provision.

The more I study the history of this church, the more amazed I am that it still exists.  If you were to have a church in America begin like this, it would probably have not survived.  But here, it did, and it is thriving with joy, enthusiasm, and growing maturity.

Consider this for a ministry opportunity.
    +  You go to a country where you don't know the language.
    +  You develop an interest in whether or not a church might be needed in your language, and not the national language.
    +  You start looking for people who speak you language to see if any of them might be interested in a church in your language.
    +  You also try to see if some of the native people might be interested in a church using your language instead of theirs.
    +  You try to figure out a way to begin a church that will be greatly affected by your way of doing things in your culture and also the way they do things in that country's culture, discovering along the way just how radically different the two are.
    +  You try to figure out a way to begin a church that will include people with great differences in their comprehension of the Bible and biblical doctrine.
    +  You have no place of your own to meet, so you always meet in rented facilities over which you have no control.
    +  Your congregation, except for a few nationals, pretty much changes every twelve to twenty-four months.
    +  Consequently, every six to twelve months you lose a large bulk of your lay leaders and a significant portion of your financial base.
    +  You have nine pastors in ten years, all of whom are appointed by an agency that is not officially the owner or sponsor of your church.

And you try to pull all that together, discovering one day that this group has managed to stay together as an entity under those circumstances for ten years.  The chances of a church being birthed and living under such circumstances surviving in America are slim to none, let alone the chances in Ukraine.  And yet, . . . . International Church is alive, well, excited, and motivated about the next ten years . . . or more.

Now you know why yesterday's anniversary celebration was so special to International Church.

And now you know why I am so grateful for so many people who prayed for us as we took two days to celebrate God's goodness.



WATCHFULNESS OF THE ENEMY'S HARASSMENTS;

It's almost 4:30 Monday afternoon as I write, and I find myself frustrated that I've been unable to write to you earlier.  My goal has been for readers in the U.S. to have the letter waiting for them when they either get home from church on Sunday night or when they awake on Monday.  It's part of my "lift up hands that hang down" philosophy.  Too many people in ministry are shot to pieces by the end of the day on Sunday, and I want to have something ready that might possibly encourage them a little.

But, that's not the case today.  An unbelievable week followed by the celebration and related obligations taking me past Midnight, then going first thing this morning for a major dental appointment followed by several stops along the way home, . . . and I'm just now getting my mind focused on what to share.

Actually the prep time for the anniversary celebration illustrated again the reality of the war . . . . it was clear that all three elements of warfare ---- the world, the flesh, and the devil himself ---- were upset with the amazing successes of the church.

The celebration plan included five basic things ---- return of former pastors and members to join us, words of greeting and encouragement from various "dignitaries" from other ministries, the creation and development of a small photo album highlighting major events in the life of the church and also the updating of the church's history, a Saturday picnic filled with recreation, remembering, and fellowship, and a Sunday service of great celebration, worship, preaching, and encouragement.

Well, . . . . it all happened.  But, it didn't happen.  

At every point, we faced opposition from one or more of the three elements of warfare.  For example,

>  Those responsible for creating the album got way behind so much so that I was giving my final read through and approval on Friday night.  The album was supposed to be printed for the Sunday service.

>  Then I discovered that no plans had even been started for its printing.  A printer hadn't even been secured.

>  Then we discovered that the cost was going to be over $600 instead of the $100 we anticipated.

>  The lady doing the church bulletin was being called out constantly for her job, limiting the time she had available to help us with the project.  Once she finally had time, the copy machine began doing crazy things, just as her home computer had two or three days earlier.  When the bulletin was finally printed, the pages were mixed up and the printing quality was one of the poorest we'd seen in many months.

>  I had major problems with my software as I finished preparing a PowerPoint presentation of photos taken the past ten years.

>  We never got a "peep" from several of the former pastors, lay leaders, and former members . . . a real disappointment to the people.

>:  Starting late, the services went later and later as some things took longer than arranged, so much so that we ran out of time on the use of our meeting room and had to terminate the service before the final sermon and four special musical numbers were performed.

And, . . . .

We had an absolutely fantastic time!



WARFARE'S PROGRESSIVE POSTURES:

Frankly, I don't do well when things don't go right.  I'm a perfectionist who is learning to be flexible and patient, . . . . but sometimes I can suck it up and hold it in only so long.  Fortunately, my carnal expressions are not as dramatic, idiotic, and amusing as they were in earlier days, but I still have really stupid responses to situations where things don't go as planned.

And that means that I have frequent episodes like that, since very few things go as planned in this part of the world.  Not only do I get stressed when there are glitches in the plans, but it infuriates me when local people calmly and casually walk around it by simply saying, "it's our culture".  These dear people have lived for generations with things going unfairly, incorrectly, and behind schedule.  And, . . . they are so gracious to me . . . . and probably amused at me . . . . when such things happen.  They have far more grace than I have.  I'm still trying to learn the most elementary steps of a missionary's first rule of ministry ---- "Be flexible!"  I'm willing to be flexible, but on my terms.

Fortunately, God's grace has made great progress in my life, though.  At least I don't explode and go off in a pouting fit of rage as in earlier days.  But, even my Ukrainian brothers and sister can probably tell when I'm not happy.  My gaze shifts away from them and downward, my jaws set like a crocodile's on a piece of meat, and . . . . I stop talking, or settle for nonsensical comments.

So, looking back on last week, I see two things . . . . first, the obvious attempts of the enemy through his various strategies to rob us of the ecstasy of rejoicing in God's faithfulness and goodness and, second, a reminder of what I see as a sequential process of the posture of warfare.

You and I are fully familiar with the usual scriptures on warfare out of Ephesians, Colossians, II Corinthians, Joshua, and others.  We see, for the most part, that we do spiritual warfare from an upright position of standing, marching, and fighting.

However, I propose to you that this perception is a highly dangerous one, and it will lead to unnecessary struggle, more unexpected battles, and less than satisfactory results.

In light of that, let me share something that will quickly become obvious to you as you read further . . . . warfare, if it is to be consistently won, is made up from beginning to end, with a progressive series of posturing.  I can promise you that you already know this and you may want to just stop reading here.  I'm sharing nothing that is new to you.

However, it may be that you haven't necessarily connected all the dots together and seen the importance of understanding warfare's posture as a single whole instead of unrelated and independently practiced spiritual exercises.

So, let's take it sequentially from the beginning.

+  The Power Of Prostration:  You and I would never consider lying flat on your face as a posture of battle, but it is actually the most important of all.  Consider Joshua, Gideon, or Hezekiah.  When they faced battles and overwhelming strongholds, their actual battles began with each of them flat on their faces.  True, they all surveyed the situation first.  Hezekiah knew the odds were against him.  Joshua took time to send spies to check out Jericho.  He himself took a look.

But, then he ended up flat on his face before God.  Notice, however, that it wasn't the size of the insurmountable walls that drove him to the ground; it was the enormity of the mighty Warrior that showed up.

It seems to me that perhaps the thing most often absent in our battle preparation is an awesome awareness of the power and majesty of our Lord God.  We still haven't figured it out . . . . the battle is not ours; it's the Lord's.  Before you can ever be sufficiently prepared for the battle, you must be summarily decked by the Commander of the hosts of the Lord.

In so doing, you will be reminded that you are absolutely nothing . . . and that He is everything.  And you'll be reminded that this thing is not about you after all, but only about Him.  Finding yourself face down in the mud with grit in your teeth is the beginning place for a great warrior.  If you don't start there, then don't go to war.

+  The Necessity of Kneeling:  We've both seen more than our share of pictures of kneeling soldiers . . . . whether they be images of Iraq or Vietnam, or of some artist's sketch of a biblical character or some Christian.  We're familiar with the "Kneeling Christian".  We know the famous quote, "He who fights best is he who fights on his knees".  We remember Corrie ten Boome's statement about prayer being the real battle and evangelism simply being picking up the spoils of warfare of a battle already fought and won.

If Hezekiah and Gideon thought it was important to hear from God, and if Paul concludes his summary of spiritual armor by reminding us to pray daily, then why should we not recognize that the next phase of warfare's posturing is to come before God in prayer.  Doing so allows you to confess your own inadequacies, cry out to Him for help, express your perspectives on the battle ahead, listen to His instructions, and be reassured of His presence and provision.  

Frankly, any type of spiritual warfare that sidesteps these first two things, is almost guaranteed to be a lost cause.  Prostration puts you in your place, and the Lord in His.  Kneeling puts your heart in the position of confessing and listening.

+  The Safety Of Sitting:  Much of modern warfare is actually fought from the safety of sitting.  High tech weapons make it possible for a soldier to sit in the safety of an armored personnel carrier or a mobile command center ten or fifteen miles away and still nail the target with a precision missile or heat seeking bullet.  A sailor can sit in a ship hundreds of miles away and program a missile to travel over hills and across valleys to a specific building in a specific city, fly untouched through a window and it a file cabinet in the corner of a room.

But, this type of resting response to the enemy began long before our generation.  Paul reminds us in Ephesians 1 and 2 that our Great Commander has been seated at the right hand of His Father in absolute victory.  He has been given both the right, the authority, and the power that has placed all things under His feet, whether on earth or in heaven . . . . whether celestial or terrestrial . . . . whether divine or demonic . . . . and has made Him Head . . . . king, ruler, victor . . . . over all things . . . . to the Church, which is His body.

We are also reminded that, following His victorious plunge from the Cross to the pits of hell, he captured captivity, bound it for eternity, set free the captives, and, for those of us who trust Him as Savior and King, He has seated us at His own right hand, also far above all rule, authority, principality, powers, and everything else, and the authority He has, He has delegated to us.

All because we choose the safety of sitting.

+  Stability in Standing:  In Ephesians 6, Paul reminds us of the importance of standing as a necessary posture of military strategy.  He reiterates this also in Colossians and II Corinthians.  

>  Stand Still.  One of the words Paul uses implies the element of occupation.  Jesus told His disciples to "occupy 'til I come".  Part of spiritual warfare is to claim the territory that the King has already claimed for Himself.  Anyone else on that spot is there illegally.  We must declare, "Sorry, but my Master said this belongs to Him, . . . so bug off!"

>  Stand Strong.  Several times Paul tells us to "stand firm".  The idea is that we not be weak knee'd or have uncertain footing.  No matter what the case may be, we are not to give ground and we are not to give up, give in, or give out.  Whereas occupation declares legal authority, standing strong in battle announces supernatural power.  Paul's use of the word means both occupation and engagement.  We have not only the responsibility to announce what belongs to our King, but to do whatever is necessary to enforce it.

+  The Warfare of Walking:  There is a volume of instruction given as to how we are to walk in this world, and most of it is nestled in the setting of spiritual warfare.  Eight times in Ephesians alone, Paul give instruction about how we are to walk ---- to regarding how we used to walk, and six about how we ought to walk.

Forward movement is necessary in spiritual warfare.  For the long haul, walking is the way it's done.  That's why our shoes are to be shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace.  All armies know that the soldier's greatest resource is his feet.  That's why so much attention is given to various diseases of the foot, why such care is taken to be sure the feet are clean, why socks provide both good cushion and insulation, and why shoes are called "combat boots".

Our engagement in battle in the heavenly realm requires that we be on our feet, ready to march, ready to climb, . . . ready to kick.  We march because we're in it for the long haul and not just a short week-end stint.  We climb because there are always more mountain tops to conquer for command centers, there are always walls to scale and strongholds to penetrate.  I know the idea sounds impossible, but while we're on our faces before God, on our knees listening, sitting in His presence, and occupying what He owns, we are to be constantly on the move, taking back more and more ground that the enemy has invaded and illegally stolen.  

If you ever stop moving forward, you will begin losing ground.

+  The Revelry of Running:  Armies run in only two circumstances.  One is if they are being defeated and are running away from the battle.  The other is when the enemy's line of defense has been broken and he has turned tail and begun running away.  In one case you are being pursued; in the other, your are the pursuer.

The pursuit of running is a strategic and vital part of spiritual warfare, because it's an indication that you have broken the hold of the enemy on territory he once occupied, you have demoralized him, and you are taking more and more ground in a manner so rapid that the enemy has no opportunity to regroup and reorganize.  This is what happened in Desert Storm several years ago.  This is what happened in the Six Day War back in around 1967.

Imagine in your mind the thrill . . . . the exuberant exhilaration . . . . of watching the enemies you have battled for such along time finally recognize their ultimate demise, and decide to run away and let you have the victory for which you have long fought.  

This is wonderfully pictured in the second chapter of Joel.  It's one of my favorite passages of victorious warfare.  I realize there is considerable debate as to whether this is referring to demonic hordes or the angelic warriors of the Most High God, or human army from the East or the North.  But, that isn't the point I want to make.

The fact remains that there are times when running is the most effective form of spiritual warfare, and we must be spiritually ready when we need to pursue the enemy after it has broken rank.  Frankly, if you want to know how to not fight a war with the hordes of hell, look at some of the tactics used by coalition forces in Iraq, learn from it, and leave it alone.  You'll never win a war in the heavenlies by giving them an inch of territory, an ounce of energy, or a moment of rest.  

Wars, if they are to be completely successful, must be decisive.  And, making them so requires that, when the enemy breaks ranks and runs, we're in shape to chase them until the last one is captured.  Isn't this what God instructed His people to do as they took the land of Canaan?

If you want to see the tragedy of incomplete victory, look at what happened when God's people didn't see the battle through to complete victory.  Look at what happened when they stopped along the way to gather up spoils of warfare.  Notice what happened with the let kings live.  Pay attention to the outcome when they tried to turn some of the enemy into their own household slaves.  Talk about sleeping with the enemy!



FINALLY:

I referred to Joel 2:1-11a moment ago.  As we review the Progressive Postures of Warfare, you can seem some of it illustrated in this passage.  Either implied or explicitly, you see these postures ---- prostrate, kneeling, sitting, standing, walking, running.  In closing, therefore, let's review this amazing operations manual for victory in spiritual warfare.

"Blow a trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm on My holy mountain! 

"Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, For the day of the Lord is coming; surely it is near, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness.  As the dawn is spread over the mountains, so there is a great and mighty people; there has never been anything like it, nor will there be again after it to the years of many generations.

"A fire consumes before them, and behind them a flame burns. The land is like the garden of Eden before them, but a desolate wilderness behind them, and nothing at all escapes them. 

"Their appearance is like the appearance of horses; and like war horses, so they run.  With a noise as of chariots they leap on the tops of the mountains, like the crackling of a flame of fire consuming the stubble, like a mighty people arranged for battle.  Before them the people are in anguish; All faces turn pale.

"They run like mighty men; they climb the wall like soldiers; and they each march in line, nor do they deviate from their paths. 

"They do not crowd each other; they march everyone in his path. When they burst through the defenses, they do not break ranks. 

"They rush on the city, they run on the wall; they climb into the houses, they enter through the windows like a thief.

"Before them the earth quakes, the heavens tremble, the sun and the moon grow dark,  and the stars lose their brightness.  

"And the Lord utters His voice before His army; surely His camp is very great, for strong is he who carries out His word. The day of the Lord is indeed great and very awesome, And who can endure it?"

Well, . . . there you have it.  Progressive Postures of Warfare.

Come on; . . . . let's go win a war.

In His Bond and For His Kingdom,

Bob Tolliver -- Psalm 2:8
Copyright September, 2004
Life Unlimited Ministries
  lifeunlimited@...
  http://www.hope4kiev.org/team/members.asp?ID=10 (Personal ministry)
  http://community.webshots.com/user/01lum for our pix albums.
  www.praykiev.org for our city-wide prayer movement.

If this letter has blessed you, feel free to forward it, with proper credits, to any and all you wish.

Please do NOT hit reply to this letter.  This is an automated unmanned system.  If you want to write Bob, send directly to lifeunlimited@.... Replying to "Shoulder To Shoulder" mailer gets you nowhere.


REMEMBER ---- "We will not Work where we have not prayed."  (Todd Golden)

May I Recommend . . . .

If you have a heart for God and would like to be encouraged in your life and ministry, 
    and you have a burden for your church, your community, and the world, 
    then you may want to receive . . .
http://frangipane.org ---- for excellent brief words of encouragement from 
    one of America's premier evangelical writers/thinkers.
www.jfloydministries.org ---- great website for dealing with hurts and wounds through forgiveness.
www.cnsnews.com for daily world news without a liberal, godless bias.
www.worldprayerteam.org ---- A world-wide network for praying together.
www.watchword.org ---- excellent resources on revival, prayer, missions.
www.waymakers.org ---- resources on prayer, evangelism, etc.
www.operationiraqcare.org ---- To adopt and pray for a special historic city in Iraq.
http://www.nppn.org ---- "National Pastors' Prayer Network" newsletter.  ~  
    email: phil@....  Register your PPG: http://www.nppn.org/ppg/ .
Usprayercenter@... ---- U. S. World Prayer Center.
www.LifeAction.org ---- "Life Action Outreach".
www.missionamerica.org ---- "Mission America" .

Other Great Resources Are:
www.sermonindex.net for access to over 3900 downloadable audio sermons.  Exceptional site.
www.biblemaster.com for great Bible resources and downloads.  Exceptional site.
www.e-sword.net (one of the best free download Bible study site I've ever seen!)
http://www.discipleshipdirect.com/ for new and fresh evangelism & discipleship materials.
http://associate.com/camsoc/ctt/"Christian Communications Toolkit" (using internet wisely) 
http://www.associate.com/camsoc/crop/software.html#freewin. Free software or shareware listings, 
www.associate.com/camsoc/crs/ for church related software from CAMSOC.
    To subscribe to CAMSOC update newsletter, go to grga@....
http://www.christiangraphicdesign.com/premierinfo.htm  Thousands of Free Christian graphics.

Online Resources on Ukraine are . . . .
   www.uazone.net
   www.relc.com/kiev/index.htm
   www.travel.kyiv.org/map/e_kyiv.htm
   www.mindspring.com/~goliath74/kiev.html
   www.ukraineinfo.us
  http://www1.excite.com/travel/travelguide/destination/0,20310,europe-550,00.html

Secular News on Kiev and Ukraine will give you interesting views at . . .
   www.kyivweekly.com
   www.kievpost.com
   www.ukrainenews.com 
   www.ukraine-observer.com
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