Strongholds (by Max Lucado)

What are strongholds?   They are anything that holds us, keeps us, enslaves us to an attitude, behavior, action that is often detrimental to us.   However, a lot of times, we don’t originally view them as detrimental.  We see them at worst as maybe a distraction, and that’s how they become strongholds, they distract us, and when we continue to not pay attention, they gain more power over our lives until they become a stronghold that encapsulates our life. When we realize they have become a stronghold, many people just give up and surrender to it, other try, and try, and fail, and keep trying to let it go and many are able to, others struggle their whole life with the shame and are never able to shake it.   I like what Max Lucado has to say, Get drastic, try a fresh approach, ask for help.  We can’t do it alone, but most of all, go to the source of our strength, GOD.

Strongholds

Does one prevailing problem stalk your life? Where does Satan have a hook in you?

Some are prone to cheat. Others quick to doubt. Maybe you worry. Yes, everyone worries some – but you own the national distributorship of anxiety. Perhaps you are judgmental. Sure, everybody can be critical, but you pass more judgments than the Supreme Court.

What is that one weakness, bad habit, rotten attitude? Where does the devil have a stronghold on you? Ahh, there is the word that fits–stronghold–fortress, citadel, thick walls, tall gates. It’s as if the devil has fenced in one negative attribute, one bad habit, one weakness and constructed a rampart around it. “You ain’t touching this flaw,” he defies to heaven and he places himself squarely between God’s help and your:

–explosive temper

–fragile self-image

–voracious appetite

–distrust for authority

Seasons come and go and this Loch Ness monster still lurks in the watery lake bottom of your soul. He won’t go away. He lives up to both sides of his compound name: strong enough to grip like a vice and stubborn enough to hold on. He clings like a bear trap; the harder you shake, the more it hurts.

Strongholds: old, difficult, discouraging challenges.

The term stronghold appears at least fifty times in the Bible. It commonly referred to a fortress with a difficult access (see Judges 6:2; I Sam. 23:14). When King David first saw the city of Jerusalem, it was an old, ancient, cheerless fortress inhabited by enemies. No wonder it was twice called a stronghold (see II Sam. 5:7,9).

The Apostle Paul uses the term to describe a mindset or attitude.

“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh (for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but mighty before God to the casting down of strongholds), casting down imaginations, and every high thing that is exalted against the knowledge of God, and bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ; and being in readiness to avenge all disobedience, when your obedience shall be made full.” (2 Corinthians 10:3-6 ASV)

We do not grit our teeth and redouble our efforts. No, this is the way of the flesh. Our weapons are from God. They have divine power to demolish strongholds. Isn’t that what we want? We long to see our strongholds turned into rubble, once and for all, forever and ever, kaboom!

Maybe it’s time for a different strategy.

Have you asked others to help you? Everything inside you says: keep the struggle a secret. Wear a mask, hide the pain. God says just the opposite: “Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed” (James 5:16 MSG). Satan indwells the domain of shadows and secrets. God lives in the land of light and honesty. Bring your problem into the open.

I know a young couple who battled the stronghold of sexual temptation. They wanted to save sex for the honeymoon, but didn’t know if they could. So, they called for help. They enlisted the support of a mentoring, understanding married couple. They put the older couple’s phone number on speed dial and asked their permission to call them, regardless of the hour, when the temptation was severe. When the wall was too tall, they took the tunnel.

Maybe it is time to get drastic. I had a friend who battled the stronghold of alcohol. He tried a fresh approach. If I ever saw him drinking, he gave me, and a few choice people, permission to slug him in the nose. The wall was too tall, so he tried the tunnel.

One woman counters her anxiety by memorizing long sections of Scripture. A traveling salesman asks the hotels to remove the TV from his room so he won’t be tempted. Another man grew so weary of his prejudice toward non-whites, that he moved into an ethnically diverse neighborhood, made new friends and changed his attitude.

“God’s power is very great for us who believe. That power is the same as the great strength God used to raise Christ from the dead and put him at his right side in the heavenly world.” (Eph. 1:19, 20 NCV).

Ask for help. Get drastic. Try a fresh approach. Who knows, you may be a prayer away from a breakthrough.

©Max Lucado, September 2015

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