“For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses…” (2nd Cor 10:4)
What does this mean?
Recently, SFC represented by myself and my 10-year-old daughter had the privilege to attend the Eastern Shoshone Nation Pow-Wow in Fort Washakie Wyoming. I wanted to to share a bit about the nature of the spiritual realities Christians operate in and in particular, share practically how we operate in the realm of the Spirit in relation to our 2 Corinthians verse. I hope to pass on enough of the experience as an encouragement. Those inclinations many of us have about the lack of power in the church will be evident by the end of this short message and some of us will face the question of whether or not we fight from the flesh, or from the Spirit.
Three months ago, I made a decision to attend this mission to support the efforts of a established ministry to First Nation Peoples called the “Pow Wow Trail,” where I recently did some outreach in Denver with. I have a habit prior to a mission of doing background research so I began researching about the people of the Shoshone Tribe at the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming in preparation for the trip as it’s pretty hard to pray for what we don’t understand. My research helped me appreciate the atmosphere these wonderful people lived in was affected by an issue of “dominion,” and when I use the word dominion, I am referring to a satanically assigned stronghold that has developed over a people or an area. Spiritual dominions exist in individuals, areas, and can even be as large as nations. Now some of you reading this are already saying “Yes!” I suspected this was the case!” No lets consider if we want to fight in this realm Biblically, we need to know the types of weapons we employ.
The Lord has chosen in my life, when the stakes are high, to use the method of dreams to convey spiritual priorities, particularly before a mission, where He conveys to me to pay attention to something spiritually significant. This is not some earned brilliance on my part as much as God knows how fallible and ridiculous I can be at times and how I often default to using the power of my flesh, (particularly the intellect) and the work of my own hands, to operate in an arena that calls for spiritual weapons. These messages from God may be personally encouraging or meant for a broader audience which determines whom I share it with. They are relatively infrequent. One thing is crystal clear, when God speaks I know it. Not all dreams are from God! Listen, if you have a dream you jumped off a diving board into a pool filled with tacos, please don’t spiritualize it! You probably have indigestion or recently ate at Taco Bell. I don’t know how many times I have heard folks claim they have “had a dream” from God when it was simply a dream. The Bible tells us the Holy Spirit “testifies with our Spirit” not only regarding if we are God’s children but implying we are “acting” or discerning as God’s children as well. The Spirit works with our minds separating out issues of the flesh, delusions or passions, as opposed to issue of the Spirit.Consider this our first take away, God is not a God of confusion.
So, in preparation for this mission to the Shoshone Nation at the Wind River Reservation about two months prior God provided the following dream:
I found myself walking with another team member into Native American of celebration after dark. There might have been 75-100 people, Native Americans, for the most part, in regalia. As me and my teammate walked through the crowd who were getting ready to start their celebration my teammate disappears into the throng, determined to get busy with the work of ministering. I find myself on the south side of the gathering maybe 30 to 40 yards from the crowd, I feel a strong drive to protect the place as I am aware God wants to change the balance of the place. I am aware there is something out of balance, or “not right.”
“I stoop to the ground and with my finger use the fire light to draw three interlocking circles in the dirt, evenly spread and sized together. In between the two circles on the top I draw a cross with the bottom touching the two circles where they intersect. I feel this is “necessary” to foster some sort of ownership to the area for Christ. While drawing this circle I am aware now there is something adversarial as opposed to simply “not feeling right” and more importantly in the dream, I am aware I am in a dream and God is communicating something.
As I stand from my squatted position I look towards the celebration going to my right, there is now a man standing between me and the group of people i.e. Native Americans, I immediately know he is some manifestation of the satanic. He is Caucasian, in slacks, wearing a button light colored shirt not tucked in, his eyes and face are semi hidden which confirms spiritual malice. We are standing facing each other at 10-15 yards and I see he has a rock in his right hand. I know it is his desire to kill me. He raises his hand and throws the rock directly towards my head! Right before the rock is about to impact it veers (supernaturally like hitting a shield) to the right where oddly I catch it little effort with my right hand, he is angry and throws another rock which now swerves off course.
When I awoke I knew God was communicating there was a dominion issue and that the enemy was aware God was coming to the Shoshone people and determined to oppose it fiercely. The rebel prince doesn’t give up territorial misery easily. The dream changed the way I approached preparing in prayer my spiritual focus, what to pray for, and what dialogues I had with others prior to the mission. God used the dream to dial in my prayer life and for two months, bring focused prayer against the principle demonic conveyance assigned against the Shoshone.
Tearing down a kingdom however, doesn’t rest on one “vision” any more than a healthy church rest solely on the pastor. Weeks prior, other team members were already fasting and praying. Our Boulder leadership was well connected to Wyoming and many local churches and ministries had already begun spiritually consolidating prayer and planning to attend the Pow Wow itself. Christians came from Thermopolis, Riverton, the Wind River Reservation, Casper, Sheridan and Boulder Colorado to converge upon a Spirit instigated movement. Our ministry team included four children and around 14 adults ranging from 9 to 70, semi diverse but just regular people with divorces, prodigal seasons, and mistakes under our belts, and to be frank about as unorthodox and unchurched as it could look. God had summoned a group of believers regionally to communicate His love to the Shoshone.
God passionately loves the Shoshone people, as He loves all of us regardless of character or background. When Jesus calls us to Kingdom work its clear what that involves. Whatever else we do, we better make sure “making disciples, and “baptizing them in the name of the Father Son and Holy Spirit” is in the forefront of our minds and follow up involves “teaching people all that Jesus commanded.” Everything else at best partners with that vision and in most cases falls second. The weapons of the Kingdom are not building projects. They are supernatural. I’m afraid it’s easier to confuse “acts of service” with acts of the Spirit then many of us realize. The secular world does considerable “acts of service,” their even good at it, often better than the church. What separates us is Christians bring the hope of the Gospel.
We arrived at Wind River Reservation on a Thursday and drove to our booth site. It wasn’t long before I realized the position and location of our booth was exactly as it appeared in the dream. Even the distance and angle to the parade area was identical. On location I realized God had shown me this to convey He had already gone before us in preparation for His work. I took my ten-year-old daughter out to roughly the same position as I had knelt down in the dream and drew the same three circles on the ground, I now understood they represented the Father, Son and Holy Spirit with the cross connecting them at the top. My daughter and I claimed the land and area for Jesus connected with some of our teammates and settled in for the beginning of the Pow Wow.
What happened over the next 54 plus hours was supernatural.
From about 3 pm Friday, through Sunday evening a steady flow of Native Americans bee lined, to the prayer tent. It was unlike anything I have experienced in four decades of faith. Repeatedly, groups of folks planted themselves in front of me eager to hear about God. So, with a pictorial presentation of the Gospel in hand I shared how much God loves us through Jesus, and how Jesus took our penalty upon himself on the cross. Time and time again, when I asked my listeners if they would say “yes to Jesus,” as their Lord, every time save one the answer was “yes.” It wasn’t just me. When I looked around at the other team members the same thing was occurring as the Holy Spirit had descended in the power of revival. I stopped counting how many I talked with as the folks just kept coming. By the end of the weekend 832 people accepted Jesus out of about 5000 Pow Wow attendees. Just to give you some idea of what transpired, in June 2018 in Scotland, the Billy Graham Association converged in a national outreach to Scotland at Falkirk. 9000 people attended to hear a similar message in a soccer stadium and over the weekend some 700 plus made decisions for Christ. This was with all the power and experience of the Billy Graham Evangelistic machine. They had a top rated Christian band in attendance and one of the best-known children’s ministries in the UK ministering. Hundreds of support staff, pre-media coverage and outreach personnel supported the effort. God showed up for sure I know, as I knew people involved with the campaign and folks who were there but….
God also showed up at the Wind River Reservation working out of two 20 x 20 canvas tents, a couple hundred dollars of supplies and a group of Christians (mostly lay people) who had never worked together as a whole ministry team. I could not help but recall the feelings of David Brainerd who in 1743 after revival broke out amongst the Native Americans at Crossweeksung under the most unlikely conditions remarked in his journal “This was the very season in which God saw fit to begin this glorious work!”
I’m thankful God was spontaneous, and way ahead of us at Wind River!
Kingdoms are not overcome by the will and wisdom of men, and God’s will doesn’t rely on professional or clever mechanisms that appeal to the human appetite. The Kingdom of God advances and territory is retained from the enemy by people believing the following the principle:
Reliance and Surrender….
That’s what it takes to ignite Kingdom power; not degrees, charisma or charm. Surrender and reliance to Jesus and the belief he empowers us by submission to the ministry he said he would provide to accomplish it. That is the ministry of the Holy Spirit which Jesus referenced frequently and his forerunner John testified to in all four Gospels. Jesus promised, not men, he would fill us; or immerse us; completely in the Holy Spirit which would then give us the resource and power to conduct Kingdom business on a supernatural level.
Was there a secret to the manifestation of God at Wind River Reservation? None I was aware of save the following. First God is true to His promises in Jesus Christ. Second, every member of our team was of one mind and spirit in their belief the advancement of the Kingdom of God occurs through the power and authority of the Holy Spirit whom Jesus declared was the “promise of the Father” (Luke 24: 49 Acts 1:5-8). This is how we conduct Kingdom warfare. You see Jesus, being God’s Son and divine, was pretty smart. He knew how quickly we would grab control and take credit for anything as part of being human. He knows the Father’s will doesn’t get accomplished this way. If we fail to understand this then we won’t understand the weapons of our warfare which the Bible teaches are the “spiritual gifts.” Spiritual meaning, they are governed, given and administered by Jesus and applied by a relational submission and worship of the Holy Spirit. Misunderstanding this may mean we are fighting a battle with the wrong weapons, most likely human intellect. Granted human effort can bring about some good things. However, human effort is not the model for spiritual success in the Bible and certainly not anything Jesus would have endorsed, in fact, He repeatedly railed against such thinking!
We have gotten very proficient in evangelicalism at coming up with ideas, forming strategic committees, developing vision statements, and building impressive churches, projects, and institutions. Its a potentially dangerous recipe we combine with “Just enough religion to make us safe”. Jesus church has become quite the business model over the last few decades. Practicality is fine provided it hasn’t replaced “Seeking first the Kingdom of God” (Matthew 6:33) which by the way achieved through the process of “asking, seeking, and knocking,” (Luke 11:9-13) which requires we are willing to wait! What’s the reward Jesus expects us to anticipate in this command? It’s in verse thirteen. Surprisingly it’s not answers to our own prayer requests, but on the contrary…..
The Holy Spirit.
Not impressive social projects, but something different, the unknown, the uncomfortable, the unfamiliar to most of us…the Spirit. Take note in Acts the first chapter, Jesus himself tells us how the Kingdom moves forward and what is its source of power and momentum.
“But you shall receive power from on high when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria and even to the remotest part of the earth.” (Acts 1:8).
This relatively simple formula rubs against everything in us which is human that desires control of our being. Control feels very comfortable that’s why we seek it, but all of us can relate to how elusive it actually is. Do we not deep down express more interest in the works of our own hands (which can be impressive) instead of waiting for something proven, confirmed and developed by the Spirit? Oh, if we would learn to wait on the Spirit! God regularly speaks attempting to reach us when we struggle through the frustration incurred by our own efforts! We struggle against the Holy Spirit and the conviction to surrender and capitulate to Him for the same reason our predecessors did. We want control and convenience. I’m afraid waiting has become a lost art in the church today which accounts for the lack of power to affect society as well as the lack of freedom we experience from the clutches of the “old man or woman” who opposes Christ.
We won’t make Kingdom impact of the kind that occurred at the Wind River Reservation or in our lives personally unless we get the message right about the Spirit.
Life in the Spirit requires a continual confrontation with who we are, what our priorities are and who’s in control; you or the Spirit, and…it’s supposed to accompanied with joy! (1 Peter 1:8). God’s not going to start something and not finish it! God desires to build this awesome, ongoing, intimate relationship with Him that penetrates our lives so deeply we become a walking empowerment of Spirit; the embodiment of Jesus and this is how we participate with God and his servants in “destroying the power and principalities of the enemy.” There is nothing more threatening to the enemy than a Christian who has learned this truth, understands their identity in Christ, and comprehends the authority that comes in the name of Jesus and those who bear his name because Christ is in us “the hope of glory” and we are “in Christ.”
Over the next several weeks myself, Andy Yang of Boulder Colorado and John Drummond of Edinburgh, Scotland will be looking at the life of Peter, and how the empowering of the Holy Spirit changed him and created in him a spiritual force to be reckoned with! There’s a harvest out there Jesus told us. It wasn’t resolved to the first century and Jesus needs workers to bring in the fruit of a harvest of reconciliation and “unspeakable joy!”
M.S. Counseling M.C.M. Pastoral Counseling
JP Grier is the founder and writer at SentinelforChrist.com – A network of Christians helping each other to press deeper in Christ.