Pulling Down Strongholds
I live in Santa Cruz County, CA. Our church meets in Scotts Valley, less than fifteen minutes from Santa Cruz, the largest and most well known city in the county. Santa Cruz is known for being an extremely eclectic community, one that values diversity, embraces multiculturalism, and eschews absolutes. It’s a challenging place to minister, but still there are hungry souls in need of Christ.
Recently while reading in Proverbs I came across this passage:
Proverbs 21:22 A wise man scales the city of the mighty, and brings down the trusted stronghold. (NKJV)
Proverbs 21:22 A wise man attacks the city of the mighty and pulls down the stronghold in which they trust. (NIV)
I thought about the strongholds that exist here where we live. I reasoned that if we clearly understand what they are, we can more ably pull them down.
So I wrote to our church mailing list, asking them to respond to the following question:
“Re: the following verse, what do you think is the stronghold of the unconverted people of Santa Cruz? Send your responses to me at [my personal email address].
“A wise man scales the city of the mighty and brings down the stronghold in which they trust.” (Proverbs 21:22 ESV)
So the folks got busy thinking about the question. I’m listing the responses below. Some are very insightful, in my opinion. Perhaps this discussion will be of help to you in your communities. Jesus told us that the strongman must be bound in order to spoil his goods. That’s what is needed wherever we may minister.
Of course, we’re convinced that the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but mighty in God (for the pulling down of strongholds)—2 Corinthians 10:4. We use the weapons of believing prayer, the gospel of Jesus Christ, and the ministry of the Word of God directly aimed at human consciences (2 Corinthians 4:2).
God bless you.
The stronghold of the unconverted people of Santa Cruz is their Lack of Righteousness.
Proverbs 21:22 is telling me that wisdom is far better than Strength. The unconverted people of Santa Cruz are more interested in Pleasure than gaining wisdom.
Stronghold applied to David’s hiding places. While David had the anointing of God, he did not have a detailed map of his future. He had to trust in God for the things he could not do. The verse reminds me of the secret places with the Lord. He who sees you in secret will reward you openly. Go to the secret places with the Lord pray for the lost souls of Santa Cruz. Also we don’t battle with flesh and blood but with principalities against powers against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. The unsaved in Santa Cruz we need to pray fervently for their souls. Asking the Lord to save. The battle is the Lord’s. That is my answer.
It is easy to see the stronghold of Santa Cruz is evil, sin, blasphemy, witchcraft, Satanism. They are blinded to the Truth. They believe all ways lead to God, in fact most believe they are gods. How does one bring down that stronghold? Only by the Power of Jesus. As followers of Christ we can lift them up to the Lord God Almighty. I don’t even think Jonah could reach Santa Cruz. Am I missing something?
If a video of a fetus will keep (young) women from aborting their child, perhaps a radical explosion of the rapture might give insight to what really is to come. But God has tarried and nobody believes He will really come.
My husband & I are in agreement that the University is the stronghold of Santa Cruz. It teaches and promotes Socialism/Marxism. It is the power behind the government of Santa Cruz. Atheism is rampant there. I knew an Orthodox priest who once tried to teach a class on Christian theology and was all but run out. The old adage applies that “the inmates are running the asylum … i.e. Angela Davis was/is a professor among other extremists. Satan really has a hold on that place & it filters to all of Santa Cruz.
God is mocked in that place.
By my observations, the stronghold that keeps people from Christ is the same across America: self.
P.S. I should add the devil to that. “There is nothing new under the sun.”
Is the stronghold of our city (county) the lust of the will to be under the influence
of something that obfuscates reality (truth)!!!!???
Hmmm … Perhaps idolatry … e.g. of our SC subcultures: music, TV, Hollywood, pop culture, outer appearance…
Great question. I suppose in a physical sense you could consider UCSC a stronghold of the unconverted people of Santa Cruz. Although I don’t know if any residents of Santa Cruz (outside of those attending or affiliated with the university) consciously consider UCSC a stronghold for their belief system, I do think the philosophies, teachings and agenda of the faculty (example: Angela Davis) have filtered down to the community at large in the same way those areas surrounding the Cal Berkeley campus have been molded throughout the last 50 years. Truth is now relative and what was once considered extreme is now main stream. Sadly, the debate is not even about freedom of lifestyle choice, but instead has become a civil rights issue akin to the struggle of the African American community in the 50’s and 60’s. Those who dare hold a divergent viewpoint are closed minded at best, bigots at worst.
I pondered your question and I think that one of the strongholds for the unconverted of S.C. is that they pride themselves in their idea that they must have “tolerance.” They hold onto the idea that they must accept everyone and everything. However, they close themselves off to Christians and the gospel, never understanding that what they really need is Jesus.
Interesting question to ponder, Bill!
It is hard to narrow things down to one stronghold… but “self” comes right to mind– and all that “self” encompasses: pride; self interest; it’s own socio/political vision and culture (of individualism); … very narcissistic!
I think that the “stronghold of the unconverted people of Santa Cruz” is the thought (and actually the presence) of Santa Cruz’s diversity and multiculturalism. This person has this god, that person has that god, while this other person has no god at all … only himself to try and make it through this life. The person with this god says; “My god is a god of love, only love! Your God, the God of your bible was a cruel God, He was angry, mine is good and kind and allows me to be free!” And that person who has that god says; “My god is many many gods in one! He is everything to me, especially when I need him to be this or that. He is also in everything, he is in the tree so I worship the tree. He is in the moon, so I worship the moon. He tells me that if I don’t get this life right the first time, not to worry, I can do life again, and I don’t even have to do it in this body, I’ll have a new body to do it in. While yet the other person says; “I don’t believe in God! It’s just me, myself, and I, that is true freedom to me. I am my own god, I decide when and how I will live and die.” or they might say; “I’ve tried that Christian God thing! Too many rules, it was too hard to keep trying to be good, nope, it’s just me, I will determine my own destiny.” This person’s thinking is the saddest of all I think, he’s missed the truth about redemption and salvation, he’s missed the whole concept of surrender and that we can do nothing in and of ourselves.
The weapons used against such strongholds is The One true and living God, His Word which is sharper than a two edged sword, His Word which is the “sword of the Spirit”… His Gospel of peace that leads to life eternal. His Oneness! His message of love and protection, but also His message of righteousness and justice. His obvious history, tangible, provable, not only to those of us who believe, but also to those have no clue who He is, but have only heard stories of what He has done.
I am responding a little late but I just wanted to say that I think the stronghold of Santa Cruz is what was once the stronghold for all of us which was bondage to sin and blindness to the truth of the gospel. I believe as one person said that this stronghold can only be brought down by prayer. What God has shown me lately is that I have grown bitter and hard hearted towards the people of Santa Cruz. I ask that God would soften our hearts so that we would have compassion for these people so that we can pray effectively for their eyes and hearts to be open to receive the gospel message. We need to love these people as Christ has loved us and not give up hope. There are souls to be won in this city otherwise God would have not called us here.
It was interesting to read all the responses. I thought this was a great question to ask. I know I’m a little late to the game, but here’s my two cents. This may be more of a foothold than a stronghold. But, if I were the enemy, knowing that followers of Christ have the life changing message of the gospel – the power to free and save, I’d try to get them to keep it to themselves. I’d try to sow disunity in the church as a whole in Santa Cruz, I’d try to pervert the truth in the church, I’d try to keep the church frustrated with, and disconnected from, the culture rather than engaging it with the message of the gospel. I’d try to keep the church in it’s own little Christian-bubble subculture rather than on the front lines of the battle. I’d try to lull the church into a sense of apathy and hopelessness about reaching the community for Christ (I’ve seen this a lot). And maybe most importantly, I’d want them to be in a state of prayerlessness for the community. There’s power in the name of Jesus to break every chain. The “strongholds” of the enemy in Santa Cruz are nothing for Jesus…
Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14 NLT)
Great email, missed my chance to respond: “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.”
The stronghold is BLINDNESS. 2 Cor. 4:4 says. “. . the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ who is the image of God.”
The key to the blindness is the LIE which has not changed at all over time. Just as God is unchanging so is Satan and the earth that he dominates. The lie, of course, is that we can all be gods and that if there was a God he certainly is holding back on your JOY as evidenced by all the bad stuff going on in the world.
The god of this world works with the natural urges of men — natural things given by God for a purpose — and twists them for destruction and discouragement. I believe that the real stronghold today is found in our obsession with FREE SPEECH. I see speech as a gift from God given to us to build up and encourage others. Like God we have the power to create as well as destroy. Encourage or Discourage, our words are powerful and that is what we see being displayed in our media. Words used for evil, calling people names, demanding tolerance and speech that does not offend. The fact that we get offended at all is the problem. IF your purpose in life is to follow the will of God for your life then nothing that comes your way is outside of that plan for you and thus should be accepted with joy.
The problem is that Biblical thought has lost its original Hebrew nature that honored action and pursuit of godliness or righteousness powered by the provisions and purposes of God as the aim or purpose of Life. Life is 100% living for God and trusting that in every circumstance and in every relationship that He places us in is a way for us to grow. Our purpose is to bless others with the gifts that God has given us. The world has fallen for same Greek worldview that Jesus and Paul battled. This world view places knowledge above all else. It places SPEECH a right and not as a tool for blessing. It honors strength and beauty and seeks to find and control anything that causes discomfort in life. This world view leads to everyman doing what is right in his own eyes which is really just natural desires out of control in what we should call selfishness but the world defines as special interests.
So the stronghold is the LIE, just as it always has been. The lie has, like the way of Baalak, has overcome the church leading to arguments, selfishness, complaining, and division rather than unity in the faith. The world looks at the church and its history over thousands of years and sees nothing of interest. There is no difference between the church and the world because the glory of God is no longer seen in lives separated and dedicated to living fully with all of our heart, mind and strength (100%) living in the will of God.
A very interesting post, Bill. What a great way to get the people to think about their community. Besides the responses that referred to the university, all of those could apply to Fremont (and every other city in America, I’m sure). It’s always been an exercise in abstraction for me to think of community strongholds. It is easier for me to think of individual strongholds. What is a stronghold? Anything that has a strong hold on your life! And yet I can imagine a sense of pride in living in a place where there is a world renowned university that is known for pushing the envelope.
Yes, that pride definitely exists. And the lifestyle that goes along with it is particularly challenging.
Yet I keep hearing the Lord say to me (and to us), “I have many people in this city.”
I love that verse. As Tim said, that’s a great way of getting the church to think about walls that need breaching. Some walls seem impenetrable, but Joab climbed the water pipe to sack the Jebusite stronghold.
Everywhere the strongholds are ideological, and those ideas/thoughts resist God (Romans 1:18, 21). But God has given us such battering ram-like weaponry.
2 Cor 10:4-5, “4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,”
I like the strategy Bill, of asking the church what they see, learning from some of their perspectives, and maybe instructing others, but always knowing that there is a stronghold of thoughts that enthrone each man as his own god.