When I first went through an Encounter Retreat, Jesus set me free from bursts of anger, love of money, and way too much liberty in watching movies, etc. Up to that point, I really didn’t think I needed to go through an Encounter Retreat. Although I had studied Encounter Retreats in a wide variety of cell churches, I really didn’t think that our church (the Republic Church in Ecuador) needed Encounter Retreats because of the added administrative responsibilities. All that changed when I actually went through an Encounter retreat and Jesus set me free and gave me a new sense of holiness.
But why Encounters? Part of the reason is that Satan is alive and well and likes to gain ground in the lives of believers. John says, “We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one” (1 John 5:19). In Matthew chapter 4, Jesus took Jesus up to a high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. He then offered those kingdoms to Jesus in return for Christ’s worship. Satan had the power to give the kingdoms of this world to Jesus. He’s the prince of this world and controls those who don’t know Jesus. The reality is that he’s also ferociously attacking believers and looking for ways to make them stumble and fall.
And he has a hosts of helpers to do his dirty work. Scriptures indicate that when Satan was cast out of heaven, he took a myriad of fallen angels with him called “angels who abandoned their place of habitation” (Jude 6), demons (Mark 1:34), or unclean spirits (Mark 3:11). Ephesians 6:12-18 says, ” For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. ï»¿Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”
Yes, I believe that God is sovereignly in control–even over all demonic power. Scripture says that God in us is greater than the demonic powers in the world (1 John 4:4).Yet when believers live in unholiness and compromise with the world, they give the demonic forces entry points into their lives. And thus, I’ve come to believe that having regular Encounter Retreats is one essential component in maintaining a healthy, victorious church.
I’m only half way there! Come back for more on Wednesday’s blog.
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