The Battle Is Real

Satan is not only real, he is ruthless! He has co-laborers–demonic forces. I like to call them The Committee. The "roaring lion" metaphor in first Peter wasn't for dramatic effect. The Committee works fast and goes after those who are weak, alone or woefully unprotected. They spit, snarl, intimidate and they love the taste of Christ-follower. Satan clamors for strongholds and if he can't get that, a toehold will do. But don't look for blatant manifestations of Satan. He likes to stay low key. He's a stealth, serial killer. Satan's best work is done in the shadows, just on the edge of light. If Satan can find an angle to plant a little concoction of temptation, accusation, condemnation and intimidation he's got you where he wants you, neutralized!

This is why we're hit with a stern warning, "give no opportunity to the devil". This warning is for anyone who's passionate about taking hold of abundant living and spreading broadly the "good news". Here's a reality of war: The only way Satan won't target you is when you've given up the dream and settled for a "normal' life. Just look around, normal is not enough. 

But the real battle is in the way The Committee hammers our mind. Satan led Jesus on a temptation tour, enticing Him to sell-out cheap for something that looked very good. The Committee always uses tantalizing bait and will swap-out bait until we bite. And when we bite on a lie, we get dragged through desert valleys of shame until we're left for dead. Because of this a warning is critically important. Most of us have joked about "hearing voices" in our head. But it's no joke, it's very real! Our mind IS where Satan goes to work and he brings his friends. His aim is to shame us, blame us, tempt us, crush us and sometimes just discourage us. If it goes unchecked, Satan will reduce us to living in utter emotional squalor. The real danger is to live in this pitiful place so long that you can no longer imagine a different place. It's time to take the war to the enemy.

We have a weapon of war that's designed for hand to hand combat, the truth of God's word! We need to build our lives like Nehemiah rebuilt Jerusalem, a brick in one hand and a spear in the other. Deal with each wave of attack, one at a time. Tell the enemy that your identity is secure in Christ, you don't need the approval of man. Tell the accuser you're loved and useful, you're not taking the "loser" label another day. Tell The Committee you resist bitterness and tonight the sun won't go down on your anger. Tell those terrifying whispers coming from the shadows that "perfect love casts out fear". Tell the lion in the weeds that the depression you seem to battle is not to be mistaken for abandonment or weakness, you're still God's child and under the protection of the "good shepherd". Fight back now! Cry out to God. Reject and renounce lies. Come back tomorrow for another battle, it never ends. But here's the kicker, "the gates of hell will not prevail". Tune your ear to God's Word and His voice. Listen closely, that's the voice of truth, love and life, cheering for you! 

I Peter 5:8, Eph. 4:26-27, Matt. 4, I John 4:18, Matt. 16:18

Truth Kills Lies (share with a vet)

It's time to think like a winner! I'm not suggesting mind games, I'm championing God's truth that's marinating in our minds. Thinking on transcendent things isn't playing games, for God's kids it's our calling to think like a winner..."For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God". What a God, he's constantly coaching, directing, correcting and inspiring us to get our lives aligned with the spiritual reality that we are brand new in Christ and we GET to live like it. We can't afford to get sucked into a losing mindset because what rolls around in our brain in the morning will likely be rolled out in our life by evening. The cause and effect of our thoughts and it's direct impact on our life is undeniable. There is no time to waste on this one. It's time to think like a winner. Not to prop up our self-esteem, but to honor God and get in the streams of His life and our joy! 

You gotta get your head around this staggering vision from God: The direct impact of rehearsing God's truth over and over in your mind produces awesome results in your life..."like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers". This isn't a pipe dream or reserved for "super saints", this is God's unblushing promise for you! Please make a note: The flip side is ugly. Hang out with gossipers, mockers, small-thinkers, crass-jokers, downers or holier-than-thou'ers and life ain't gonna be pretty, because over time they get in your head. It's true...you'll start drinkin' and thinkin' from the same bath water..."futile thinking...darkens hearts". But note this little nuance: The absence of right thinking isn't necessarily neutral thinking. It can be setting us up for negative and destructive thinking. The Committee (Satan and demons) loves to fill empty spaces. So let's get our thinking aligned with God's winning truth.

Col. 3, Ps. 1:1-3, Rom. 1:21

Face Your Enemy (remix)

Satan is not only real, he is ruthless! He has co-laborers–demonic forces. I like to call them The Committee. The "roaring lion" metaphor in first Peter wasn't for dramatic effect. The Committee works fast and goes after those who are weak, alone or woefully unprotected. They spit, snarl, intimidate and they love the taste of Christ-follower. Satan clamors for strongholds and if he can't get that, a toehold will do. But don't look for blatant manifestations of Satan. He likes to stay low key. He's a stealth, serial killer. Satan's best work is done in the shadows, just on the edge of light. If Satan can find an angle to plant a little concoction of temptation, accusation, condemnation and intimidation he's got you where he wants you, neutralized!

This is why we're hit with a stern warning, "give no opportunity to the devil". This warning is for anyone who's passionate about taking hold of abundant living and spreading broadly the "good news". Here's a reality of war: The only way Satan won't target you is when you've given up the dream and settled for a "normal' life. Just look around, normal is not enough. 

But the real battle is in the way The Committee hammers our mind. Satan led Jesus on a temptation tour, enticing Him to sell-out cheap for something that looked very good. The Committee always uses tantalizing bait and will swap-out bait until we bite. And when we bite on a lie, we get dragged through desert valleys of shame until we're left for dead. Because of this a warning is critically important. Most of us have joked about "hearing voices" in our head. But it's no joke, it's very real! Our mind IS where Satan goes to work and he brings his friends. His aim is to shame us, blame us, tempt us, crush us and sometimes just discourage us. If it goes unchecked, Satan will reduce us to living in utter emotional squalor. The real danger is to live in this pitiful place so long that you can no longer imagine a different place. It's time to take the war to the enemy.

We have a weapon of war that's designed for hand to hand combat, the truth of God's word! We need to build our lives like Nehemiah rebuilt Jerusalem, a brick in one hand and a spear in the other. Deal with each wave of attack, one at a time. Tell the enemy that your identity is secure in Christ, you don't need the approval of man. Tell the accuser you're loved and useful, you're not taking the "loser" label another day. Tell The Committee you resist bitterness and tonight the sun won't go down on your anger. Tell those terrifying whispers coming from the shadows that "perfect love casts out fear". Tell the lion in the weeds that the depression you seem to battle is not to be mistaken for abandonment or weakness, you're still God's child and under the protection of the "good shepherd". Fight back now! Cry out to God. Reject and renounce lies. Come back tomorrow for another battle, it never ends. But here's the kicker, "the gates of hell will not prevail". Tune your ear to God's Word and His voice. Listen closely, that's the voice of truth, love and life, cheering for you! 

I Peter 5:8, Eph. 4:26-27, Matt. 4, I John 4:18, Matt. 16:18

Resistance Happens

Every positive resolution will face resistance, period! When we underestimate or diminish the strength and power of resistance, we do it to our own peril. We can’t saunter into life-change. It’s taken by force or it won’t happen. 

Maybe you think you’re not a fighter, well you better become one because we’re in a war. This war is unconventional and we can’t fight it in our own power. Resistance comes at us in varied and creative ways but all resistance can be put in a few simple categories:

  • Prideful Self-confidence - Yes, we can be our own worst enemy. Don’t blame on Satan what can only be explained by our own pride. Being unaware or unconvinced of our need for God can put us on our face faster than any demonic attack. Don’t “think you stand” or you’re set up to take a big fall. (I Cor. 10:12)
  • Strategic Satanic Attack - Satan is not a theory or a metaphor – Satan is real. Evil both exists and is strategic. There is an attempt to angle for our destruction and take us down at a point of weakness. This is why we can NEVER let down our spiritual guard. (Eph. 6:10)
  • Reckless People - Yep, people are a big source of resistance. Often they are enemies who want to harm us but at times they’re even friends who are speaking without thinking. Jesus indicted that it’s possible to be all-in with God and miss his will and way. Don’t take every word you hear as wise – always check it with the word.

Resistance with happen. It’s as certain as the rising sun. Knowing it’s coming is half the battle. 

 

Stay Alert

Just heard that a young man who surrendered to Jesus six weeks ago didn't make it. He was doing all the right things but got sucked into the vortex of darkness. His overdose is heartbreaking.

Please know this, evil plays for keeps. One of my hardest falls was six weeks after God saved me from myself but in 1984. By God's grace I'm alive today but the battle is real. 

This fine young man is in God's presence right now. Please pray for his family and friends - that God would use his story in ways that would shock the dark side and bring glory to God.

But resist the temptation to see Satan's work as best seen in these kind of dramatic ways. If evil can't kill us its content to leave us in a state of spiritual deadness. What angle of attack has Satan used against you in the past? How has evil angled to strangle the spiritual life out of you? Stay alert...Watch and pray!

Ephesians 6

South Carolina & Satan

We simply can't ignore it any longer. Our nation is in a spiritual war. The "prince and power of the air" is wrecking havoc on us. The horrendous murder of nine precious lives in South Carolina is evidence of unchecked sin that causes people to "steal, kill, and destroy".

Our hope is found in the "prince of peace". Only Jesus can still the raging seas of anger and fear in our land. Behind the cowardice and pride of man is the force of evil. We can't simply write off these events to pills and mental illness. This is a war for the souls of man. Turning the hearts of stone into flesh is a God sized job...and he can do it. Let us pray and be bold with the gospel.

Ephesians 2:2, John 10:10, Isaiah 9:6

BULLETPROOF

How great would it be to go through life unwounded and unfazed? What if, more than fending off physical threats, we could take direct emotional/spiritual hits and keep stepping forward? That's not a foolish dream. If we get wrapped up and armored up in God's soul suit, we'll undoubtedly flinch but we can keep moving with victory.

There's a few things we've gotta get branded into our thinking:

1. People are NEVER the enemy. "Our battle is not against flesh and blood". We can see people's actions and hear their words but the power behind every shot we take is from a force of darkness. We need to look through people, almost make them translucent to the minds eye, and see that they are only pawns of spiritual "principalities" (Ephesians 6:12)

2. We must remember that we have all been a pawn of darkness at some point in time. Jesus didn't tell Peter to "get behind me satan" because he was the devil. Peter, in a weak moment, was being driven by personal agenda. He was hasty and off the page of God's plan and God's agenda. (Matthew 16:23)

3. If we fight flesh and blood with our own wisdom and strength we're going to get beaten badly. Sceva's boys got rolled and bloodied because they came to a fight in their own prideful power. If we take on dark forces, even if there's 7 of us, we'll hear the words "who are you" right before we get our spiritual keister kicked. (Acts 19:15)

Within each of us is the capacity to hold deep reservoirs of rich and powerful faith. To be so filled with the power of God that we see things for what they are. To recognize that well meaning people can harness a personal agenda and ride right over the top of others. To respond, not just in the name of God, but also with the words that flow from the God who indwells us.

We will never be fully bulletproof. But we can suit up in armor from the inside out. Yes, we can fend off direct emotional/spiritual hits and keep stepping forward!

The FOUR Voices Of Satan

God can be seen every single day if we know what to look for. Satan can be seen and heard as well, but there is no spitting and snarling as we’ve imagined. Satan is too cunning and crafty to come straight at us as we might have thought him to be, that’s what makes Satan so creepy.

The Spirit of God is seen/heard in people who humbly surrender their lives to Jesus and keep in step with the Spirit. On the other hand, the spirit of Satan can be seen/heard in people who run counter to the Spirit of God. Even well-meaning people, who carry a personal agenda that may not be God’s, can fall under the influence of Satan.

Jesus said, “Get behind me, Satan” when Peter had a different agenda for the Christ’s work than that of God the Father. Now this in no way paves the way for us to ascribe to anyone the name of Satan. But it does raise an important point. Not all counsel is godly, not all words are holy and not all gestures are from above.

Some of our words/actions are just flesh and reveal the residual effects of our fallen old nature. But some words/actions can fly in the face of God’s glory and his will. Understanding this should lead us to do at least two things:

  1. Watch what we say. Don’t be paranoid but when asked for advice make certain it comports with scriptural truth.
  2. Check the counsel/advice/direction you receive against the word of God and gather wise counsel around you to keep life sorted out.

Opinions are a dime a dozen. People can get on bandwagons that are going nowhere. Truth Matters! John 14:7Matt. 16:23

 

The TEMPTATION Voice

The day will come when Satan will be “tormented day and night forever and ever.” Until that day, Satan will pull out all the stops to take down as many people as possible until his fate is sealed. Satan has several voices and he uses them with precision.

Temptation is the voice of Satan that baits us into getting ahead of God, or worse, playing god. The goal is rather simple but the effects are devastating. Satan sets a trap to convince us that radical independence is a good option. The bait on the trap is hand selected to match our current needs. Jesus was hammered by evil after a Spirit led fast (Matthew 5:1-11). Note: Some of our toughest battles come on the heels of deep spiritual adventures with God.

Jesus was hungry so Satan hung out the bait of instant bread. Satan also tempted Jesus to test God’s will to protect him. Then Satan came at Jesus with the bait of power. Each temptation of Jesus was an attempt to get our Lord to take a bite at something before it was time. Provision, protection and power are all ironclad promises, yes, even for you and me. But timing is everything in the Kingdom of God. Satan will often tempt us with the wrong things, but more often he tempts us with the good things, even God things, but it’s just the wrong time.

Satan doesn’t usually hold a gun to our head, he baits us into jumping the gun. Wait, wait, wait on God and soon you’ll experience the fruit of deliverance…“behold, angels came and were ministering”. Revelation 20:10Matthew 5:1-11

 

The DECEPTION Voice

Half-truths, twists, embellishments, and leaving out key details–It’s all just a thin veil for deception. Deception is a voice of Satan and he’s not only mastered it, he invented it.

The fall of mankind into sin, cited in the Genesis account, is more than just temptation. The temptation of Adam and Eve had a healthy dose of deception. Think about deception as the truth with a twist at the very end. What makes deception so lethal is that it’s laced with good amounts of truth. Satan simply said to Eve, “For God knows…”. Yes, God is all knowing but the deception was that God was somehow withholding what was good and keeping it for himself. Subtle twists and turns can actually be used by Satan to get us headed in the wrong direction. Every person who has a pulse has been sucked into Satan’s deception scheme.

To really understand deception we have to understand the mask of deception. Get this, “Satan disguises himself as an angel of light”. He plays himself off as an illuminator of truth and then slides in destructive lies from the shadows of utter darkness. This is serious and the solution required is the Holy Spirit. Deception can’t be sorted out on the fly. We can’t lean on man’s wisdom or hunches to separate out truth from lies. Jesus illustrated the need to sort out lies when he yielded to the Holy Spirit who will “guide you into all truth”.

A few thoughts on deception that can keep you out of the ditch and walking the high road with God:

  1. Watch your stories and story retelling. A story with 90% truth has too much lie for its own good.
  2. Tell a story straight and true to the end or don’t tell it at all.
  3. And when it’s a tale about someone else, it’s better left untold. Gossip is a breeding ground for twisted truth.

II Corinthians 11:14John 16:13

 

The ACCUSATION Voice

The voice of railing accusation rings out from the mouth of Satan every day and the intent is to distract, derail and defeat. Satan’s voice will one day be silenced and “the accuser of our brethren with be thrown down”. The constant, “day and night”, barrage of accusations must be dealt with, if the child of God is going to stay on track with Him.

Accusation left unattended becomes a pile of defeat and unnecessary shame. The relief from accusation won’t be fully resolved until Satan is “thrown down”, but until then we can do one powerful thing that will offload emotional burden that comes through accusation.

The best thing to do with accusation is to face it head on. Literally “take every thought captive”. When a thought of accusation hits us we have two healthy responses:

  1. Own and confess any aspect of the accusation that rings of truth. Unconfessed sin gives Satan’s chatter credibility and we need to strip him of that power. And gives us freedom.
  1. Throw the balance away and let God deal with it. Satan loves to badger God’s children and keep us in a state of emotional turmoil, confusion, and defeat, even when our victory has been sealed.

Revelation 12:10I Peter 5:8II Corinthians 10:5I John 1:9

 

The CONDEMNATION Voice

Every voice of Satan is a warm-up for his final act. Soul crushing condemnation is the end game of evil with temptation, deception, and accusation all being aimed at burying God’s children emotionally. We have to both face the battle and throw ourselves at the mercy of God.

Satan waits in the wings of our deepest personal battles to pounce on every loss or defeat. Satan loves to use his voice of condemnation. It’s his way of marring what can never be stolen from us–our salvation. So let’s take a look at the answer for our wrestling, so we can shut the mouth of evil with the voice of truth:

  1. We’re going to wrestle with sin. It’s true; there is a battle with “another law at work in our members”. This is the residual effect of being born in sin. It’s found in us and we have to own it. But it’s fueled by demonic deception and temptation.
  1. We can say with Paul, “who will deliver me from this body of death”? But just when we’re recovering from yet another blow of defeat, there is this, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord”! God lowers the boom on the voice of condemnation by hammering back at Satan with the power of the name of Jesus.
  1. This third reality is left untapped for too many. It’s time to leverage the voice of truth to shut down the lies of Satan. Six of the most liberating words spoken in all of scripture are these:“There is therefore now no condemnation…”. Not a little or just a bit, in Christ all condemnation is gone. 

 

Don’t let condemnation have the last word. Speak up and speak out just who you are–God’s prized child who is loved deeply and protected most carefully.

Romans 7:23Romans 7:24-25Romans 8:1Proverbs 29:18

 

Knowing the Four Voices of Satan is critical for overcoming waves of beat-downs. But knowing the truth is what will truly set us free!

Jesus is the Truth so it is the knowing of Jesus sets us free indeed.

Condemnation

Every voice of Satan is a warm-up for his final act. Soul crushing condemnation is the end game of evil with temptation, deception, and accusation all being aimed at burying God’s children emotionally. We have to both face the battle and throw ourselves at the mercy of God.

This is the scene playing out in Romans 7 and 8. The Apostle Paul is sharing his wrestling with sin and the massive spiritual conflict we all battle. To “do” what is honoring to God and fulfilling to us personally is a struggle that won’t ever end. And there he is…Satan waits in the wings of our deepest personal battles to pounce on every loss or defeat. Satan loves to use his voice of condemnation. It’s his way of marring what can never be stolen from us–our salvation. So let’s take a look at the answer for our wrestling, so we can shut the mouth of evil with the voice of truth!

1. We’re going to wrestle with sin. It’s true, there is a battle with “another law at work in our members”. This is the residual effect of being born in sin. It’s found in us and we have to own it. But it’s fueled by demonic deception and temptation. 

2. We can say with Paul, “who will deliver me from this body of death”? But just when we’re recovering from yet another blow of defeat, there is this, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord”! God lowers the boom on the voice of condemnation by hammering back at Satan with the power of the name of Jesus.

3. This third reality is left untapped for too many. It’s time to leverage the voice of truth to shut down the lies of Satan. Six of the most liberating words spoken in all of scripture are these, “There is therefore now no condemnation…”. Not a little or just a bit, in Christ all condemnation is gone. 

Don’t let condemnation have the last word. Speak up and speak out just who you are–God’s prized child who is loved deeply and protected completely. 

There is limitless vision that God has for his children. Opportunity is everywhere for us who are "in Christ”. Knowing the voices of Satan is a critical thing for overcoming waves of beat-downs. But knowing the truth is what will truly set us free!

Romans 7:23, Romans 7:24-25, Romans 8:1, Proverbs 29:18

Temptation

The day will come when Satan will be “tormented day and night forever and ever.” Until that day, Satan will pull out all the stops to take down as many people as possible until his fate is sealed. Satan has several voices and he uses them with precision.

Temptation is the voice of Satan that baits us into getting ahead of God, or worse, playing god. The goal is rather simple but the effects are devastating. Satan sets a trap to convince us that radical independence is a good option. The bait on the trap is hand selected to match our current needs. Jesus was hammered by evil after a Spirit led fast (Matthew 5:1-11). Note: Some of our toughest battles come on the heels of deep spiritual adventures with God.

Jesus was hungry so Satan hung out the bait of instant bread. Satan also tempted Jesus to test God’s will to protect him. Then Satan came at Jesus with the bait of power. Each temptation of Jesus was an attempt to get our Lord to take a bite at something before it was time. Provision, protection and power are all ironclad promises, yes, even for you and me. But timing is everything in the Kingdom of God. Satan will often tempt us with the wrong things, but more often he tempts us with the good things, even God things, but it’s just the wrong time. 

Sex is a good thing in God’s plan at the proper time. The business you’re passionate to launch may just require a little God delay before it's time to go. That move across the city might be a month away or possibly it’s another state or country away. It's all about God and his good timing.

Satan doesn’t usually hold a gun to our head, he baits us into jumping the gun. Wait, wait, wait on God and soon you’ll experience the fruit of deliverance...“behold, angels came and were ministering”.

Revelation 20:10, Matthew 5:1-11

Truth Matters

Satan can be seen every single day and yet he looks nothing like we'd expect. Satan can be heard as well, but there is no spitting and snarling as we've imagined. Satan is too cunning and crafty to come straight at us as we might have thought him to be, that's what makes Satan so scary to so many.

This is one of the most critical and defining truths for understanding the work of God and the work of Satan. The Spirit of God is seen/heard in people who humbly surrender their lives to Jesus and keep in step with the Spirit. In fact, Jesus said that God the Father could be seen clearly in himself. Jesus said, "you do know him, and have seen him." If you want a picture of God, just watch the life of Jesus.

On the other hand, the spirit of Satan can can be seen/heard in people who run counter to the Spirit of God. Even well meaning people, who carry a personal agenda that may not be God's, can fall under the influence of Satan. 

Jesus said, "get behind me, Satan" when Peter had a different agenda for the Christ's work than that of God the Father. Now this in no way paves the way for us to ascribe to anyone the name of Satan. But it does raise an important point. Not all counsel is godly, not all words are holy and not all gestures are from above. 

Some of our words/actions are just flesh and reveal the residual effects of our fallenness. But some words/actions can fly in the face of God's glory and his will. This should lead us to do at least two things: 1. Watch what we say. Don't be paranoid but when asked for advice make certain it comports with scriptural truth. 2. Check the counsel/advice/direction you receive against the word of God and gather wise counsel around you to keep life sorted out. Opinions are a dime a dozen. People can get on bandwagons that are going nowhere. Truth Matters!

John 14:7, Matt. 16:23

Think Like A Winner

It's time to think like a winner! I'm not suggesting mind games, I'm championing God's truth that's marinating in our minds. Thinking on transcendent things isn't playing games, for God's kids it's our calling to think like a winner..."For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God". What a God, he's constantly coaching, directing, correcting and inspiring us to get our lives aligned with the spiritual reality that we are brand new in Christ and we GET to live like it. We can't afford to get sucked into a losing mindset because what rolls around in our brain in the morning will likely be rolled out in our life by evening. The cause and effect of our thoughts and it's direct impact on our life is undeniable. There is no time to waste on this one. It's time to think like a winner. Not to prop up our self-esteem, but to honor God and get in the streams of His life and our joy! 

You gotta get your head around this staggering vision from God: The direct impact of rehearsing God's truth over and over in your mind produces awesome results in your life..."like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers". This isn't a pipe dream or reserved for "super saints", this is God's unblushing promise for you! Please make a note: The flip side is ugly. Hang out with gossipers, mockers, small-thinkers, crass-jokers, downers or holier-than-thou'ers and life ain't gonna be pretty, because over time they get in your head. It's true...you'll start drinkin' and thinkin' from the same bath water..."futile thinking...darkens hearts". But note this little nuance: The absence of right thinking isn't necessarily neutral thinking. It can be setting us up for negative and destructive thinking. The Committee (Satan and demons) loves to fill empty spaces. So let's get our thinking aligned with God's winning truth.

Col. 3, Ps. 1:1-3, Rom. 1:21

Death To Shame

Nothing is so widely experienced and so universally hidden as Shame. Shame stings from the shadows, it's like arsenic to our soul! The Committee (Satan and demons) has mastered the process of collecting and storing up our personal sins, feelings of always doing or saying the wrong things, painful labels pinned on us and unbearable events from our past. Then at the very moment that our soul flickers with sense of hope, The Committee opens that vial with our name on it and dispenses a small dose of shame. One strategically placed drop can dampen the beginnings of joy. Shame clouds God's vision for a richer future and hope is swallowed up by a sense of our failure or inadequacy. Here's some great news, all of this has God more than a little ticked off. God grieves over your shame...and He hates what it's doing to you. Hang on, how God deals with it is nothing less than wild and amazing!

Secrecy is shames strength and isolation is the cousin of secrecy. Shame may be impacting your entire life or just a particular area of your life but shame needs to be forced from the shadows. Get this in your hands: Shame can't hide if you refuse to participate! The greatest invitation of God is to "draw near", step out from the dark, drag shame with you, and give it to God. Now watch God work! He grabs a bucket of true Holy water. God "washes our body" and even does a deep cleanse or our "evil conscience". But he's not done. God ceremonially takes all that is impure and "treads it under His foot". There's more. He gathers up the crushed sin puts it in a sack, ties the sack to a large rock, and pitches it "into the depths of the sea". God then asks us "do you see that"...we say "NO, I can't see anything". Just then we look back over our shoulder to catch a glimpse of God–He's just smiling and nodding. What a mind blowing, soul liberating and deeply loving Father!

Take a risk. The moments of trembling with your first step into the light will be drowned out by waves of God's peace. Now your life is germinating in the soil of grace. Joy begins to grow and just when you see another threat coming your way, raise this shout at enemy armies, "I have set my face like a flint, and I know I will not be put to shame". Never underestimate two important things about God: How much he loves you and how much he grieves over your shame. There will be plenty of times when shame tries to return but God hoses us down with His cleansing yet again. Funny thing, God keeps repeating that sin stomp and sack toss into the deepest seas. If it seems like God gets a kick out of striking a death blow to shame it's because He really does. Step forward right now, "hold fast the confession of our hope", God's shower of grace is overwhelming!

Heb. 10:19-23, Micah 7:19, Is. 50:7

Face The Enemy

Satan is not only real, he is ruthless! He has co-laborers–demonic forces. I like to call them The Committee. The "roaring lion" metaphor in first Peter wasn't for dramatic effect. The Committee works fast and goes after those who are weak, alone or woefully unprotected. They spit, snarl, intimidate and they love the taste of Christ-follower. Satan clamors for strongholds and if he can't get that, a toehold will do. But don't look for blatant manifestations of Satan. He likes to stay low key. He's a stealth, serial killer. Satan's best work is done in the shadows, just on the edge of light. If Satan can find an angle to plant a little concoction of temptation, accusation, condemnation and intimidation he's got you where he wants you, neutralized!

This is why we're hit with a stern warning, "give no opportunity to the devil". This warning is for anyone who's passionate about taking hold of abundant living and spreading broadly the "good news". Here's a reality of war: The only way Satan won't target you is when you've given up the dream and settled for a "normal' life. Just look around, normal is not enough. 

But the real battle is in the way The Committee hammers our mind. Satan led Jesus on a temptation tour, enticing Him to sell-out cheap for something that looked very good. The Committee always uses tantalizing bait and will swap-out bait until we bite. And when we bite on a lie, we get dragged through desert valleys of shame until we're left for dead. Because of this a warning is critically important. Most of us have joked about "hearing voices" in our head. But it's no joke, it's very real! Our mind IS where Satan goes to work and he brings his friends. His aim is to shame us, blame us, tempt us, crush us and sometimes just discourage us. If it goes unchecked, Satan will reduce us to living in utter emotional squalor. The real danger is to live in this pitiful place so long that you can no longer imagine a different place. It's time to take the war to the enemy.

We have a weapon of war that's designed for hand to hand combat, the truth of God's word! We need to build our lives like Nehemiah rebuilt Jerusalem, a brick in one hand and a spear in the other. Deal with each wave of attack, one at a time. Tell the enemy that your identity is secure in Christ, you don't need the approval of man. Tell the accuser you're loved and useful, you're not taking the "loser" label another day. Tell The Committee you resist bitterness and tonight the sun won't go down on your anger. Tell those terrifying whispers coming from the shadows that "perfect love casts out fear". Tell the lion in the weeds that the depression you seem to battle is not to be mistaken for abandonment or weakness, you're still God's child and under the protection of the "good shepherd". Fight back now! Cry out to God. Reject and renounce lies. Come back tomorrow for another battle, it never ends. But here's the kicker, "the gates of hell will not prevail". Tune your ear to God's Word and His voice. Listen closely, that's the voice of truth, love and life, cheering for you! 

I Peter 5:8, Eph. 4:26-27, Matt. 4, I John 4:18, Matt. 16:18