Building Walls During VBS

Whenever people come together to accomplish something for the Lord but face opposition, if there’s a book of the Bible they should read for encouragement it’s Nehemiah. You’ve got the Jews returning from exile trying to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem but facing resistance on all sides. That’s sort of what it felt like this week, but instead of rebuilding walls, WCC was conducting VBS, and instead of facing Sanballat and Tobiah it was sewage. Tuesday is when it all started…

I was sitting in my office feeling thankful VBS was going so well when someone burst in: “You have to come to the nursery…it’s flooded!” While I’m in the nursery trying to figure out where the water is coming from someone else says, “The boys’ bathroom is flooded.” A third person arrives, “There’s water all over the floor of the girls’ bathroom” and finally to make the parallel with Job 1:13-19 complete a fourth person arrives, “The floor in the kitchen is flooded…and I alone have escaped to tell you!” I know you’re on the edge of your seats wondering how I’d handle such a disastrous situation, but I’m not a pastor for nothing…I knew what to do: call Dave Zumstein. He came over and in about three seconds said, “The sewer is backed up.” It took all Tuesday night, but we fixed the problem….until Wednesday evening, when we fixed the problem again…and then Thursday night we fixed it again.

Last Sunday I preached on the spiritual battle that takes place around us and that’s basically what the kids learned throughout VBS (the theme was Kingdom Chronicles). I’m not going to lie about this week: digging up a parking lot every night until a few hours within kids arriving for VBS isn’t how I wanted things to go; however, there was something cool about the whole situation: it really felt like there was a battle being fought to keep VBS from happening. When the kids left each day it was like we were in the middle of a fight to make sure they were able to return the next day. Nehemiah said, “When Sanballat, Tobiah and the rest of our enemies heard that I had rebuilt the wall, and that there were no breaks in it…they thought to do me harm” (Neh 6:1-2). They heard the work was going well…they heard it wasn’t interrupted…they heard there were no breaks in the wall, so they tried to mess it up. Nehemiah had a fantastic response for them: “I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down. Why should the work cease while I leave it because of you?” (Neh 6:3). Don’t let the opposition make you cease.

nehemiah-building-jerusalem

A Tale of Two Kingdoms

The greatest earthly kingdoms in history pale in comparison to the two greatest spiritual kingdoms in history: the world (the devil’s kingdom) and the Kingdom of God. The battle between them has been raging for thousands of years. Since the kingdoms are spiritual, the battle between them is also spiritual but no less militaristic than our wars as the occasional glimpses in Scripture reveal…

Elisha was one of the most amazing men in the Old Testament, given a real window into the spiritual realm and the conflict taking place around us. One time his servant thought the two of them were terribly outnumbered, but Elijah told him, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” And Elisha prayed, “LORD, open his eyes that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the eyes of the servant and he saw…the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha (2 Kin 6:16-17)

One of the most fascinating discussions of the battle occurs when an angel tells Daniel a demon known as the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood him in battle for 21 days until Michael the archangel arrived to help (Dan 10:13). The angel also said he had to return to continue the fight against the demon, because soon another demon called the prince of Greece would come and only Michael the prince or guardian of the Jews would assist him (Dan 10:20).

Revelation 12 describes a battle in heaven during the Great Tribulation between the devil and his equal, Michael the Archangel. Currently the devil has access to heaven (Job 1 & 2), but verse 7 says, War broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.” Within a few short years of this defeat the Second Coming takes place and the devil is imprisoned during Jesus’ thousand year reign. After the Millennium he’s released for a final rebellion that ends with his army being destroyed by fire from heaven, and him being cast into the lake of fire (20:9-10). Finally the conflict between the two kingdoms come to an end. The devil’s kingdom is completely destroyed and the Kingdom of God is completely victorious.

Which side are you on? In Matthew 12:30 Jesus said, “Whoever is not with Me is against Me.”

Here’s a sermon I preached on 8/11/13 discussing the two kingdoms in more detail as well as the greatest example of single combat that’s taken place between their captains: Jesus and the devil.

Aug 12, 2012

From the Pastor,

A friend of mine in public education sent me an e-mail about a student he’d be receiving in his class this year named Lucifer. That’s his first name and it’s not a nickname. The mom has an assortment of kids named Damion, Valeck (not sure of spelling), and a child named after a vampire character from some 80s book or TV show. The mother has a pentagram on her hand, and the child’s teacher the year before tried to talk to her about calling him anything other than Lucifer, but she insisted on that name. Obviously my friend didn’t want to be stuck using that name for nine months, so we’ve been e-mailing back-and-forth this week about the situation.

Our e-mails were taking place in the middle of VBS, which really had me thinking of the literal battle that’s going on. Here’s what I mean: in my opinion, VBS is about winning children to Christ, but at the same time Satan is looking for people to “take captive to do his will” (2 Tim 2:26); this woman, obviously being one of his victories, and her children unfortunately constituting some of the collateral damage.

My friend’s story helped remind me last week during VBS why we were doing what we were doing and why it was so important. We were trying to further the Kingdom of God, while Satan’s trying to thwart it. Satan’s trying to steal as many children as he can, while we’re trying to deliver them.

You could say God provided us with two awesome blessings last week during VBS in “the battle”:

  1. 80 children we had the privilege of serving and ministering to for His glory.
  2. A number of awesome servants willing to come out engage in the battle. For those of you involved in VBS (even those from the church who came out Friday night to support the kids), thank you all so much for all your effort!