STRONGHOLDS: THE 40-DAY TREATMENT

Perhaps God has convicted you of double-mindedness. Now you are able to see the stronghold in your life, and you want to tear it down. Let me encourage you not to give up. Persistence is the opposite of instability. I suggest applying the 40-Day Treatment. Determine what the will of God is and begin to hammer away at your wall of arguments, for 40 days (the significance of this number is all throughout scripture)! If your children are not walking with the Lord, confess God’s promises regarding your children. If pastors in your city are divided, proclaim God’s view on the matter. If your marriage is on the rocks, confess God’s Word regarding marriage. Use God’s words like a sledgehammer, and hit those situations repeatedly (see Matt: 4:4,7,10; Eph. 6:17). Never give up. Do it, day in and day out. Memorize pertinent Scripture and quote it out loud!

A pastor friend of mine in the San Francisco Bay Area told a story that illustrates this point. He told how a friend of his who was remodeling his home hired a contractor to demolish a cement wall. He watched as the contractor hit the wall with a sledgehammer. One blow, 2 blows, 3 blows, nothing happened. Then 10 and 15 blows, and still nothing happened. He continued—30, 35 blows, and still nothing. Finally, on the 36th blow, the wall developed a horizontal crack. On the next one, a spiderweb pattern of cracks appeared. On the 38th blow, the wall cracked all over. At that point, the contractor put the sledgehammer down and picked up a small hammer and a chisel, and, little by little, he brought down the wall. This is also how a stronghold must be destroyed. That formidable stronghold you are looking at may seem to be made of solid granite. However, the Word of God is powerful. The gospel is the power of God (see 1 Cor. 1:18). Choose God’s Word over the circumstances. Confess the Word of God. Every time you do it, you are applying a sledgehammer blow to that granite wall. Keep doing it. Sooner or later, the first crack will appear. After that, it is only a matter of time before the whole thing crumbles. “For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses” (2 Cor. 10:4). Everything opposed to the will of God must come down.We must be set free, totally free, in Christ. Are you already destroying strongholds in the innermost part of your soul? Go for it!*

 

*Excerpt from That None Should Perish, pages 174-175.

For more on Strongholds go to the mentoring section at www.transformourworld.org.

 

YOU SHOULD SEE THE OTHER GUY!

A number of years ago, in a moment of unhealthy self-pity, I began to tell the Lord how badly wounded I was, how much our family and our team had suffered, how brutal the blows had been and how little return we had seen on our investment. The Lord’s reply shocked me: Ed, you should see the other guy! He is the one who looks really bad. You’re on the winning team! If you think you look pathetic, just imagine how awful the loser must look.

Just then, a scene from the movie Rocky II came to my mind. It happens toward the end of the climactic title fight. Rocky Balboa and Apollo Creed have slugged it out to the point of total exhaustion. Both of them are down, lying on the canvas, and the referee has begun the count. Rocky’s manager, crusty old Mickey, is frantically shouting in Rocky’s dull ears, “Get up, you bum. Get uuuup!” He keeps on screaming until Rocky, in obvious pain and with great difficulty, begins to pull himself up while the count continues. Under Mickey’s unrelenting verbal shoving, Rocky keeps riding waves of exhaustion on a raging sea of suffering. And when the referee cries, “. . . 9 . . . 10. You’re out!” Rocky is the one standing over the downed Apollo. Our hero stands for only a few moments, but he is on his feet long enough to be declared the winner and new champion.

As I reflected on this dramatic scene, I sensed the Lord saying to me, Get up and claim the prize! You are down but so is the devil. He does not want you to know it, but he is totally spent after such a fight. He has no more strength, and this is why he is so bent on keeping you focused on your own wounds. Both of you are down; but the one who gets up and claims the prize wins. Get up, you blessed one!

This experience enabled me to understand a powerful dynamic concerning trials: Trials require two fiercely opposing parties for its painful pressure to develop. Pressure, like a pincer, needs two anchor points to operate. We are one of the points; the devil is the other one. However, in the midst of these frays, we tend to focus exclusively on the damage done to us or to our loved ones. We seldom, if ever, realize what the trial has done to the opposition. Consider the way most Christians process Job’s tribulation. We concentrate almost exclusively on what Job lost and how much he suffered, and we fail to see the main point in this epic drama: The devil lost big to a mere human being. Satan ended up discredited and humiliated before his own demons. What the devil values the most, his pride, lay shattered at Job’s feet.

Take heart that even though we suffer, we always end up stronger than the devil. His scheme is to keep us focused on our pain rather than his. But remember…if you’re hurting, you should see the other guy!!

Excerpt taken from Prayer Evangelism, chapter 1.

 

Ed Silvoso: Wanted: Bond Servants.

One of the favorite expressions used by the apostles to describe themselves was “bond servant of our Lord.” A bond servant is one who sits at the door of his master, not even daring to look at him in the eyes. He watches his master’s hands. He never speaks unless first spoken to by the master. He always does what he is instructed to do—nothing less, nothing more. In light of this, I am appalled at the way we conduct our spiritual meetings. Many times we treat Jesus as if He were our bond servant. Our prayer meetings too often amount to nothing more than listing a set of errands for Him to carry out.

The thought of waiting on the Lord seldom occurs to us. We usually assume that we already know His will. There is no need to wait for Him to reveal it to us.

I remember a time when some Western visitors came to Argentina. I told them, “We are going to a prayer meeting where we will wait on God.”

As soon as we got there they asked, “How long must we wait?”

I said, “I do not know.”

“Why don’t you know?” they said sharply. “Are we going to stay here forever?”

“I honestly don’t know, and no one else here knows. This is Jesus’ meeting. We have gathered in His name, and, as such, we have come under His authority. When He moves, we move. If He does not move, we do not move.” Perplexity was the kindest response I got. Some of the visitors were visibly upset by this “waste of time.”

Have you ever wondered what the 120 disciples were doing when the Holy Spirit first came upon them on the Day of Pentecost? Because Pentecost (see Acts 2) represents the most dramatic display of God’s power on the Church, it would be interesting to find out what the disciples were doing when such

a phenomenon took place. Acts 2:2 says they were sitting. Sitting is always associated with waiting. We must adopt today the waiting attitude that permeated the Upper Room when the greatest outpouring of God’s power took place.*

 

*Excerpt from That None Should Perish, pages 225-226.

Ed Silvoso: My Commander In Chief…

General Jonathan Wainwright was the only U.S. general captured by the enemy during World War II. He was left in charge of Corregidor, Philippines, by his superior, General Douglas MacArthur, when he was forced to flee to Australia to organize the Allied forces’ massive counterpunch that eventually defeated Japan. MacArthur’s orders to Wainwright were very clear: Never surrender. Fight to the end.

Wainwright tried very hard to stick to the letter of that order. However, the massive, systematic, merciless destruction he saw around him finally forced him—against his convictions— to surrender. He, and what was left of his ragtag army, were shipped off to prisoners-of-war (POW) camps all over Asia. Thousands died while in transit. Wainwright himself ended up in a POW camp in Mongolia. The Japanese guarded him as a precious prize. After all, he was the only U.S. general they would ever capture. During those terrible years of captivity, Wainwright labored under tremendous guilt. As he saw his body deteriorate and came to depend on a cane to move around, he also saw his soul experience even greater deterioration. He felt like a total failure for having surrendered Corregidor. In due time, Douglas MacArthur led his troops to total victory. The Rising Sun became the Setting Sun as MacArthur and his troops evicted the Japanese from island after island all over the Pacific. He eventually occupied Japan and took up residence in Tokyo. The once-formidable Japanese empire finally surrendered to the “fugitive from Corregidor.” When this happened, POW camps were liberated all over Asia. Because Wainwright was held in Mongolia, far away from Tokyo, his camp commandant was able to keep the truth from him for a while. Consequently, Wainwright continued to behave like a POW. Can you picture the Japanese commandant watching Wainwright after Japan’s surrender? He knew they would soon switch places, and the commandant must have trembled at the possibility of facing a captive who would become his captor. Every time he saw him, the Japanese commandant must have felt tremendous uneasiness. A fully armed, properly fed commandant, with more than adequate military force at his disposal, was afraid of the weak, emaciated, dysentery-plagued remains of a ragtag army and its limping general. Why? Because the commandant’s power over them was based on a lie. I can picture him wondering, Has he found out the truth yet? If he has, what will happen to me? The only thing that enabled the Japanese commandant to keep up this fraud was Wainwright’s ignorance of the truth. Wainwright had been liberated, but he did not know it. Neither was he aware that, like every allied POW all over Asia, he had been ordered by his commander in chief to take charge of the camp. Because Wainwright did not know the truth, he continued to submit to the commands of his captor, even though his captor no longer had power over him. Eventually, an allied airplane landed near the POW camp where General Wainwright was imprisoned. An American officer walked up to the fence, saluted and announced: “General, Japan has surrendered.” Armed with that piece of truth, Wainwright limped all the way to the commandant’s office. He opened the door and, without even raising his voice, asserted, “My commander in chief has defeated your commander in chief. I am in control now. You must surrender.” Without firing a single shot, the emaciated, physically handicapped POW took over the camp from the well-fed, heavily armed commandant. How was he able to do it? Because the truth had set him free. He also knew how to use authority to control power. The Japanese commandant’s fear had finally materialized. His captives found out that they were mightier and decided to leave the land of captivity.

Satan’s greatest fear today is that the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ will realize that it is mightier than him! He is literally scared that every believer will fully understand the practical implications of the biblical truth that “greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4). He’s afraid the Church will discover a war is going on and will join it. His prisoners will leave the dungeons as they hear of their spiritual emancipation. His strongholds over our cities will be rapidly overtaken as angels are sent to assist a praying Church (see Heb. 1:14). To this end, the Church must learn how to pray with authority. Not as begging for crumbs from a cunning POW commandant but rather as an advancing army that knows it’s destined for victory. To do this effectively, the Church must understand and learn to use the authority delegated to it as it prays for all people. The normal state of affairs between the Church and Satan is war, all-out war. Praying with authority entails stating the truth (see Matt. 4:4,7,10; Eph. 6:17), demanding that the usurper leave (see Matt. 4:10; Jas. 4:7) and radioing for help to evict him (see Rom. 15:30; Eph. 6:18; Col. 4:12), if necessary. Angels will quickly oblige (see Acts 27:22ff). Angels are itching to be dispatched by God, not so much to comfort POW prisoners in Satan’s camp, but to aid them as they fulfill the Great Commission all over the world (see Acts 12:5; Heb. 1:14).

Perhaps you feel as Wainwright did because of a past failure. Maybe you are still living in a POW camp. The enemy has lied to you and has deprived you of everything. Maybe you have lost your command; you have surrendered. Since then you have been punishing yourself. You have been living in a cloud of hopelessness. I encourage you to look up to your Supreme Commander, Jesus Christ, the Lord of lords and the King of kings. He is saying to you, “I will never leave you nor forsake you. Even when you are

unfaithful, I remain faithful. I cannot deny myself. You may have surrendered a flag or two, but the war has been won. Be of good courage” (see Heb. 13:5-6). On that final day, when Satan will be forced to acknowledge the facts as described in Revelation 12:11 as final proof of his total defeat, you are going to stand next to your Commander. You will be part of His triumphal parade. Until then, pick yourself up and

charge against the strongholds of the enemy. Serve eviction notices and radio for help. Tell the enemy that “my Commander in Chief has defeated your commander in chief.” You are in charge now. Go and begin to set the captives free!*

 

*Excerpt from That None Should Perish, pages 177-179, 181-183, 197-198, 200-201.

 

Ed Silvoso: How Far Can You See?

When I was a brand-new believer, my pastor told me I should share Christ with everyone I came in touch with at all times. No exceptions. He emphasized that if I did not do it, I was responsible for their eternal demise. I believed my pastor, and I wanted to obey him, but during my first days as a Christian I was painfully shy. Shyness had been a problem since my childhood. I was so shy that I had to practice in front of the bathroom mirror before talking to my father about any serious matter. I would say, “Hello, Father. How are you?” Then, imitating my father, I would respond, “Fine. What is it, Son?” To this I would reply, “I was wondering if I could go to such and such place.” On and on it went. Everything was fine as long as I was in charge of the whole dialogue. But the minute I came out and faced him, if he failed to follow the script I had imagined, I would freeze and run back into the bathroom. Shyness was my greatest obstacle in trying to talk to strangers about Christ.

When I first got saved, I rode a public bus for about 20 minutes each day. Repeatedly, I was tormented by my inability to share Christ with the 30 passengers that rode the same bus. At the end of my daily ride, I would feel like a total failure, but not for lack of trying. I constantly tried to speak to strangers, but my mouth was welded shut. I used to have nightmares in which I saw myself approaching the Judgment Seat of Christ. While I stood before the Lord, some of my fellow bus riders would yell from hell to Jesus, saying, “Don’t let him in! He rode the bus with us, and he never told us about You or heaven or hell!” I felt as though I was in hell myself. What could I do? It was then that I came across Ephesians 2:10. I was impacted by the last part of the verse: “God prepared [good works] beforehand, that we should walk in them.” It was clear to me that sharing Christ with strangers was part of God’s list of good works for me. I already knew I had been called to evangelism, but I also knew that I was greatly handicapped by my shyness. So I asked the question: How far can I see? Could I preach the gospel to a busload of people? No! Could I pass out tracts to the people riding the bus? No! What could I do? How far could I see? I settled for the very minimum. I decided to silently pray every day for the person seated next to me. So for a number of weeks I quietly sat next to someone while silently praying for his or her salvation. After doing this for a season, it occurred to me that I could bring some gospel tracts from home and sneak them behind my back before I stood up. Like a terrorist trying to activate a bomb, I found myself surreptitiously sliding the gospel tracts between my back and my seat on the bus, hoping that my fellow riders would find them after I had left. After doing that for several weeks, I felt courageous enough to

give the tracts to my neighbors at precisely the moment I was getting off the bus. It was a very safe move. If he or she asked any questions, I could truthfully say, “I’m sorry. I am getting off here.”

A few weeks later, I felt confident enough to go a little further. Rather than handing out the tracts the moment I was ready to descend, I decided to do it one block before my destination. I still felt safe. If any question was asked, I could still excuse myself on account of my imminent descent. Before long, I began to feel more courageous and decided to give out the tracts five blocks before my final stop. Then I moved that up to 10 blocks. Later on, 15 blocks. Finally, the day arrived when I was able to distribute the tracts the moment I boarded the bus. “Here,” I would say, “this is for you. Please read it. If you have any questions, I will be glad to answer them.”

Today, I look at entire cities and nations and do not feel the least tinge of apprehension as I strategize how to bring transformation to them. By going as far as I was able to as I rode that bus, God enabled me to gradually increase the distance. This is also true for you. How far can you see? Go as far as you can, no matter how minuscule that first step appears to be.*

 

*Excerpt from That None Should Perish, pages 289-291.

CHILDREN ARE THE BEST RECORDERS BUT…

Children are the best recorders but the worst computers. Everything they hear, they remember. But they don’t have the maturity to process it.

One of the things I appreciate about my wife Ruth is that she set very high standards for the conversations we had when hosting guests in our home. Being into reconciliation and problem solving, it was very common early in our marriage for people to come to our house under a heavy burden and just blurt out everything that was bothering them—the problem they were having with this pastor or that preacher, the worship leader or the youth group… or with me for that matter. And my wife, who is very calm and very gentle, I never saw her more determined when she said, “You have to promise me that we will not allow any of our guests to criticize anybody here in our home while our children are around, and even when they aren’t around.”

That was an incredible blessing because, you see, children hear the problem but they can’t process it with the same maturity you do. They hear that somebody is criticizing you and they immediately get wounded but they don’t know how to heal that wound. They just know that somebody hates daddy, and there are plenty of people out there who think they are neurosurgeons when in reality they are butchers with an ax hacking the body of Christ. So, protect your kids. Don’t let people come and criticize anybody in your home. Don’t do it. It’s not worth it. Set the standards.

Forgiveness and Trials

When I was growing up in Argentina, and a brand new believer, we had living with us a relative who at the time we would have called a spinster, a woman who was quite old and single, and unfortunately, very bitter about it. Anything that reminded her of the marriage she didn’t have irritated her. She lived with us, and even though she was a relative she abused us seriously. So when I became a Christian, I was so blessed that Jesus came into my heart and forgave me that I began to forgive people. And I remember when the pastor preached one Sunday on loving your enemies, immediately I knew who my enemy was—my aunt. She was loaded for bear every time I came through the front door. So I forgave her. I went forward, knelt at the altar and said, “Lord, I forgive her.” Immediately I made a mistake. I said, “Okay, Lord. I have fulfilled the scriptures. I forgave her. Now I’ll go home and she’ll be waiting to greet me with my favorite dessert. She’ll welcome me and say, ‘Ed, what were you doing at 9:22?’”

“Oh, I was kneeling at the altar.”

“Well, at that moment an angel came and told me, ‘Love Ed!’”

Right? Wrong! I would go home and she’d be fully loaded for bear. And the devil would say, “You see, the Bible is a lie. It doesn’t work. You love your enemies and it only gets worse!”

The next Sunday I went forward again, did the same thing, and got the same reaction. What was happening is that I wasn’t welcoming the trial, so all I was left with was knowledge, and knowledge puffs us up. Until one day I understood that this would mean nothing until it was tested and approved by the test. So I said, “The promise of God is not that I can forgive those that hurt me, but that I can forgive them and love them even though they continue to hurt me. And that can only be tested in an adversarial relationship.”

Now I was loaded for bear! I was heading home, waiting for a big fight, and sure enough I got it. I walked through the door and she let me have it…but then I said, “Okay Lord, the Bible says I can love my enemies. The Bible says I can bless those that curse me and persecute me. I know it’s true.”

I went the extra mile, I did things for her, I blessed her, and you know what? It worked! From that moment on, my aunt was no longer a threat to me because the principle was tested and became a conviction. And today, what is my favorite subject to talk about? Forgiveness. It became part of my character, a principle got hold of me and God gave me the grace to go through the test and succeed. Now I can tell people that feel trapped, “Welcome the trial, let this thing test you and you too will succeed.”

For more on Forgiving the Unforgivable, watch the video on this topic in the mentoring section at www.transformourworld.org.

Intimacy in Marriage

Why is it that many marriages lack the spark they experienced during courtship?  Could it be that this most important of relationships is not working because you have violated the manufacturer’s guidelines?

When I was a teenager, at a time when movie projectors were very expensive, I saved enough money to buy one. I waited for it to be shipped to me because I wanted to show it off to my friends and show them some movies. When I got the projector, there was a label on top – WARNING: Do not use without first reading the manual. I looked at the manual—it was very thick and my friends were already there—so I said, “Well, what’s the risk? Just plug it in…” Two seconds later I burned the motor because it was a dual voltage plug. Upon closer scrutiny I saw that it said, Make sure this switch matches the power on the wall. It voided the warranty and what was supposed to be a very enjoyable thing was a very unfortunate thing. Why? Because I didn’t pay attention to the manufacturer’s instructions.

God has so much to say in His Word about marriages. He loves them. He’s partial to marriages. He officiated at the first marriage when Adam and Eve got married, and he will officiate at the last marriage when the church and Christ will become one. One of the first miracles that Jesus ever performed happened at a wedding party. And when the Holy Spirit was looking for an illustration of the relationship between the church and Christ, he used the symbolism of marriage and says that we are the Bride of Christ. So with all that on the scale, we know that God loves marriages.

Satan hates marriages. Everything God loves the devil hates. And one of his schemes is not so much to destroy a marriage through divorce (although he enjoys that), but to undermine the intimacy in marriage so that a couple remains married (because we are Christians, because of the kids, because we can’t afford to go through a messy lawsuit, or for whatever reason), but there is no intimacy. And the devil likes to do that because those marriages that lack intimacy are a good example in his portfolio of why Christians are lousy and they are hypocrites. But God not only loves marriage for the sake of marriage and for the sake of kids, but because in marriage we can experience the deepest relationship, the most intimate, most enveloping, most intense and uplifting feelings, that add to who we are and give us a sense of completeness.

For more on Intimacy in Marriage, watch the video on this topic in the mentoring section at www.transformourworld.org.

Your spouse is the only personal gift God will ever give to you.

He has given and will continue to give you many gifts; however, of those gifts, only your spouse is uniquely and exclusively designed for your personal enjoyment. Your salvation is the most precious present, but millions of people have it. Your job is another gift, but eventually someone else will pick up where you leave off. Your children have been entrusted to you for a season, but sooner or later they will leave the family nest.

However, when it comes to your spouse, God has created a person exclusively for you to enjoy in the context of marriage. He or she belongs to you and no one else until death do you part. He or she is a gift for life. No one else is entitled to that person but you.

When God created Ruth, my wife, He was thinking exclusively of me as far as marriage is concerned. Her sense of perfection is an ideal balance for my liberal visionary drive, and her eye for detail enriches and completes the ever-growing big picture I forever find myself drawing. It is incredible that God created and entrusted me with such a person for a lifetime. She is mine and no one else’s. I am hers and no one else’s. Your spouse deserves the best from you because no one can make you as happy as he or she can. Your spouse can give you sexual pleasure without guilt, understanding without patronizing, companionship without a price, children without shame.

Every time we love our spouses, God smiles on us. As a husband and wife lovingly embrace each other, the mystery of marriage with all its beauty adds another light to this dark planet.

Excerpt from Women God-s Secret Weapon by Ed Silvoso. www.transformourworld.org