Encouragement From The Word

The Decade of the Internet Meme

We live in the Decade of the Internet Meme. You know what I mean: those little sayings and phrases that are superimposed over some funny or awe-inspiring photo, designed to make us angry, make us think, or make us snort whatever we’re drinking out of our noses upon reading. We went from fifteen minutes of fame to the thirty-second sound bite to the 140-character tweet to the internet meme. To what we’ll degenerate next, I’m not sure. Grunts, perhaps?

I shouldn’t be quite so hard on internet memes. Some of them are quite clever, and others really do make you think. I saw one 10409612_10152661367262263_1917381814540968253_nyesterday that falls in the category of the latter. It said, “The enemy will try to limit your praying because he knows your praying will limit him.


Whether young or mature followers of Jesus, we all have ‘dry seasons’ in our prayer lives. There are times when our conversations with God are rich and fruitful and totally energizing. There are other times when we wonder whether God is even listening – or why we wandered away from God while he was listening. And when those dry seasons come, you know that the author of lies is at work.

There is a fundamental belief inherent in that meme: a belief that there is an enemy. The enemy is the devil, Satan. We don’t know as much about the devil as we think we do, but this much we can determine: he is a spiritual being, with less power than the Holy Spirit, who seeks to keep God’s faithful from being all they can be in Christ. Sometimes, Satan gets blamed for things that are our own fault, but Jesus’ own experience with the devil (recorded for us in Matthew 4) suggests to us that there is a power that seeks to take us away from a single-mindedness oriented toward God’s glory and God’s kingdom.

And when we don’t pray, our orientation toward God’s glory and kingdom is diverted. Just as a lack of conversation with a spouse or a friend can lead to a lesser relationship, so a lack of conversation with God can lead to a relationship with the Lord that seems more distant…even though God has not moved.

There is another fundamental belief inherent in that meme, though, and that is that Satan’s power is really not that strong. Ordinary Christians can thwart the work of the enemy simply by praying. Our simple, child-like conversation with God can undo all manner of work that the devil has sought to do. That’s another reason why our prayers are so important. First, because they build our relationship with God and draw us closer to him; and second, because the work of evil in our lives and in the world is ruined by their simple utterance.

Didn’t know you had that kind of power, did you?

Of course, the power is God’s, but when we pray, God’s power works in and through us to deepen our walk with the Lord, and thereby to disarm Satan in his efforts to keep our relationship with God at the level of a casual acquaintance.

So keep on praying! Know that it encourages God, deepens us, and sends the enemy away with his (perhaps forked?) tail between his legs.

Next the devil took (Jesus) to the peak of a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.  ‘I will give it all to you,’ he said, ‘if you will kneel down and worship me.’ ‘Get out of here, Satan,’ Jesus told him. ‘For the Scriptures say, ‘You must worship the Lord your God and serve only him’” (Matthew 4.8-10, NLT).

Encouragement From The Word

Imitating Andrew

“There’s no Scot like a Scot abroad,” as the old saying goes, and there will be plenty of them sporting tweeds and tartans today.  Why?  Because it’s November 30:  St. Andrew’s Day.

Andrew is best known as the patron saint of Scotland, but there’s far more to him than that.  (He’s known as the patron saint of the Byzantine church, too, but we won’t tell our Scottish friends that, will we?)  If you look at the Scottish flag, it looks like a white X on a blue background.  But it’s not about “X marks the spot”.  Traditionally, it is believed that Andrew, one of Jesus’ first disciples, was crucified on a cross that looked like an X, rather than the traditional ‘t’ cross on which Jesus died.  Why?  Because, it is said, he didn’t feel worthy to be crucified on the same kind of cross as his Lord.

So even the national flag of Scotland gives us an indication that there must be more to Andrew than meets the eye.  What does the Bible say about him?

The short answer is, “not much.”  We know he was the brother of the more famous disciple, Peter.  We know he was a fisherman.  And we know that when Jesus called him, he responded without hesitation:  “One day as Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers—Simon, also called Peter, and Andrew—throwing a net into the water, for they fished for a living.  Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!”  And they left their nets at once and followed him” (Matthew 4.18-20, NLT).

Really, that is Andrew’s claim to fame (whatever the Scots may say!):  he followed Jesus without any reluctance whatsoever.  And, if tradition is correct and he was crucified for his faith in Christ, then he gave his all, to be sure.

How about us?  We can celebrate this day with neaps and tatties or haggis or tartans or tweeds, but let’s truly celebrate the day by offering our unwavering devotion to the Lord Jesus, who has called us out of darkness into his marvellous light.  Put Jesus first.  You won’t regret it.