Anger

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I’d just bought groceries and was heading to the car when I noticed a long line of traffic in the parking lot. A truck was stopped as the driver waited for a car to back out of a handicapped spot. Obviously, the driver of the truck couldn’t go anywhere unless he wanted to plow into the car.

But another truck behind that first truck, well, the driver was angry about the wait. He blew his horn, flailing his arms as if this were the most awful thing he’d ever had to endure. This only enraged the driver of the first truck.

Both drivers were now shouting obscenities at each other, loud enough to be heard even at the far end of the parking lot where my car waited.

I got to my car and turned to see what would happen when both men parked their trucks just a few feet away from each other.

There wasn’t a physical confrontation, at least outside the store. But the hateful words they continued to throw at each other like sharp stones sliced through the air as moms pushed their little ones in shopping carts.

My heart sank.  I mean, it really did. I refuse to be desensitized. I refuse to laugh it off as, “Well, that’s the world we live in today.” I refuse to let the violence and language so prevalent in society make me feel like this is the norm and that it’s okay to act this way or witness these things without being disturbed by them.

I refuse to be cold, hard-hearted when I see things like that. I refuse to find humor or any sort of thrill from it.

I think back to my grandpa, the shock on his face when he’d watch the evening news. He had been in WWII and witnessed awful things, and yet, he remained sensitive enough to find violence troubling when it showed up on his television set.

While I loaded groceries into my car, I prayed and asked God to help those men and to help me understand why they both got that angry.

God helped me to see that the enemy was behind it. If Satan can get us to bite and strike out at each other, tearing each other down, he doesn’t have to work as hard to destroy us. We destroy ourselves.

I mean, think about it. I just witnessed a man filled with venom striking out at another man because he had to wait to park his truck. The other man returned the same venom. Can’t you see the enemy in those vehicles, just egging them on to fits of rage, and laughing when they fall for it as he slinks away?

So my question for you is this: Are you letting Satan stir anger within your heart? Are you feeling justified by being angry, that those you’re angry with deserve your wrath?

Satan is on the prowl, my friends. Don’t let anger trip you and cause you to fall into his trap.

“If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.” (Galatians 5:15 NIV.)

“And ‘don’t sin by letting anger control you.’ Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil.” (Ephesians 4:26-27 NLT.)

 ”Don’t sin by letting anger control you. Think about it overnight and remain silent.” (Psalm 4:4 NLT.)

“Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.” (James 1:19-20 NLT.)

(Photo from Pexels.)

Waiting at the Screen Door

screen doorSometimes I build a wall of cement blocks around myself, keeping them at a comfortable height because I don’t want anyone to see me when I’m struggling, when I’m falling apart. I’d rather let you peek over the blocks to see my crazy curly hair or maybe I’ll give you a little wave to let you know I’m here.

The wall keeps me safe while I’m hurting. Without it, I’m completely vulnerable and that scares me.

But if you’re struggling, then staring at my cold wall with only a glimpse of curly locks or the palm of my hand isn’t going to do you any good. And I want to encourage you.

So today, I’ve hoisted the blocks aside. Please understand, those things are heavy and I certainly didn’t do it alone. I had to surrender the blocks to God. He is the only One who can really move them.

But that’s how much He loves you.

I believe He wants you to read something in my struggle, and I have no idea what that is but I’m trusting Him as I step beyond my protective pile of blocks to let you see me. The real, hurting me I usually hide:

Last week was a really rough one for me. I was beyond discouraged. I was severely depressed. I mean, a heavy darkness like I’ve never known before (and I’ve had some real doozies in the past). Oh sure, I reminded myself of the Scriptures I often share with others when they’re going through something similar. (Joshua 1:9 to be exact.) I put on a “happy face” when I needed to because it’s easier to do that than try to explain something like: “I hurt somewhere on the inside so deeply I can’t understand it. I know God is with me. I know the enemy is trying to steal my joy. But this is so heavy I can hardly move, can hardly take a deep breath. I can’t write. In fact, I don’t want to write. I can’t see clearly or hear God clearly. I’m crumbling, falling apart, crying myself to sleep etc. etc. etc.” Yes, it’s much easier to offer a little smile and retreat to my corner of the world behind my wall.

The discouragement came after I stepped out in faith and obeyed God by speaking to two different groups of women. I still smile when I think how God sometimes calls me to do that when He knows my heart and the fear I have of public speaking. I have a friend who laughed when I explained that to her. Her laughter still rings in my ears and brings a smile to my face. Only God can transform this little girl whimpering in the corner into a woman who can hold a microphone and speak of God without shaking. Only God can do that.

As I mentioned, the heaviness came after I obeyed God. My first thoughts were, I’m terrible at speaking. I didn’t do it right. I failed. I let God down. I let everyone down. (All of which came like flaming arrows, if you catch my drift.) My Father knows my heart and all my imperfections and He is the One who called me to speak, to tell His daughters how our struggles strengthen our faith. I’m sure He planned accordingly for my many shortcomings and stretched His strength to fill in my many, many weak spots.

But then came exhaustion; a total sense of feeling drained. Again, more thoughts like, See, you were just doing it in your own strength and you got it all wrong. If God called you to do it, He would have given you the strength to do it. You certainly failed Him. That was a whopper of a flaming arrow; a big fat lie. God did give me the strength to do it. There was no way I could have made it through that day of speaking without Him. Seriously. I had such peace all day long, even with arrows zooming by my head. It was days later when the exhaustion knocked me over.

Then FINALLY after days of falling asleep nearly every time I stopped moving, of trying to praise God in song, praying to Him and sobbing, breaking down and building a wall so high only God could see past it, God touched my broken heart, my wounded spirit while I rested. I woke up Saturday morning with a real smile and a song in my heart. Some of the words that beautifully played over and over in my heart: I press on.

But that’s not all. I saw something in my spirit: A screen door opening. I don’t know about you, but I often think (and write) about closed doors and waiting on God to open them. This screen door was exciting to see! And the more I thought about it, the more I began to praise God that it wasn’t a heavy, ironclad medieval contraption of a door like I often imaged. It was a screen door. You know, the kind that allows fresh air, the scent of lilacs, and the songs of the cutest little house wrens to flow right in.

While you and I have been waiting for God to open the door, His Holy Spirit has been flowing in to fill our spirits, overflowing and spilling into our hearts. The whole time! We’ve never been alone, just as God’s Word tells us.

So I learned when we’re waiting on God, we’re not staring at a rock solid door, our noses stuck to it as if we’re being punished. We’re staring through the mesh of a screen door at the horizon, getting glimpses of God and the wonderful promises He is working on for our lives. We get to smell the rain, hear the thunder, and appreciate His creativity blooming all around. We get every bit of that while the Holy Spirit, our wonderful Comforter, holds us and waits with us.

You see, God wants us to wait with Him while we’re waiting for Him. He wants us to talk to Him, cry out to Him, and REST with Him while He’s preparing to open that screen door for us.

That beautiful, creaking screen door that will open up our world to His will and His plan for our lives.

Can you see what’s out there? Can you look past the screen door, past the porch, beyond the horizon? Can you see all that God has for us?

Me neither! But I know my God, and I know it’s going to be jaw-dropping good.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9 NIV.)

“The Lord replied, ‘My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.’” (Exodus 33:14 NIV.)

“Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.” (Psalm 27:14 NLT.)

 

Your Shield

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Last week I watched our littlest fur baby suffer before passing away. It was just awful, and I cried out to God asking, “Why don’t you do something?” I realized I was mad at God all over again. (See more here.)

But before I could look back at the past and focus on the other times I’d watched loved ones suffer from cancer or the times we lost other fur babies to sickness and disease, before I could really start questioning God and start pointing my finger at Him (forgive me, Lord), I heard His still, small voice whisper:

“He’s after your faith.”

I’d heard God whisper those very words to me another time in my life when I had too many questions and not enough answers. And when those questions came fast, leaving holes of doubt burning in my heart with no answers to act as salve, I became an easy target.

Satan is after my faith. Perhaps he’s after yours too. He knows if he can get our faith, if he can take our shield of faith, then we’re open to whatever he throws at us. We’ll be exposed and he can pierce our lives with his lies, causing us to pull away from God.

That’s just what Satan wants to do and he will fight as dirty as he needs to so we will turn away from God.  He will attack us when we’re empathizing, when we’re in agony over someone else’s suffering. We feel helpless while we feel their pain. We hurt with them, crying out for mercy, and we wait for it to come. (It’s like holding your breath for too long while you’re under water and your chest starts to burn.)  We’re physically drained and mentally exhausted so we loosen our grip on our faith.  In that very moment Satan strikes with a fierce lie:  God doesn’t care. It’s a poisonous lie from the father of lies that will spread if you don’t see it for the deceptive trash that it is.

My friend, God DOES care. He knows when a sparrow falls. He created everything on this great big planet and knows their intricacies.  Those gossamer wings of a butterfly, the highest peak of a snowcapped mountain, they have His touch.  Your tender heart, the way things move you to tears and hurt you deeply, He created those fragile and delicate areas in you. He knows how to comfort you and love you when you agonize in those places.

I realized something when I fell apart last week: God strengthens our faith and protects us while we’re hurting. When we’re too weak to lift our shield or to carry our faith another step, He doesn’t just walk away, leaving us slumped on the floor alone and in tears.  He comes to us, meets us right there on the floor, and covers us with His arms and reminds us:

“I am your shield.”

“The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped.” (Psalm 28:7a NIV.)

 

 

Beware of the Maze

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Social media is like a maze. Before you go in, you think about what you’re looking for.  You want to see how your far-away family members are doing, who’s having a birthday today, and what time you’re meeting friends for coffee next week.  If you were a mouse, these things would be your cheese.

But what if while scurrying through the maze in search of your cheese you stumble on something else. You notice a few of your friends battling it out in the corner. So you stop and watch as they verbally bash each other.  While standing there, someone comes up behind you and bumps into you.  Then another.  And another.  Before long you’re all standing there gawking at this explosive disagreement in wonder, whispering opinions.  Maybe you even toss in your own word or two.  Before you know it, you’re in the battle and everyone is staring at you.

Or maybe you don’t see such a thing when you journey through the maze. Maybe you come across pictures on the walls; so many happy pictures of your “friends.” But instead of feeling happy for them, you feel a little sad.  Maybe you’re going through a difficult time in your life and you’re really struggling.  You feel pretty helpless and alone and seeing how everyone else’s lives seem to be on track, worry-free, and overflowing with friends and happy faces makes you sink even lower.  You plop down in the corner and cry, feeling worse than before.

Or maybe, just maybe you went into the maze with the intent to get back at someone who’s hurt you. You go in with the most powerful weapon you can bring into the maze, your words, and you’re ready to open fire.  So at the most opportune moment you plan to let ‘em have it.  Oh there are lots of ways to do it, you reason.  You’ve witnessed many battles like this before when you stood back and watched.  And if others do it, why can’t you?

So you enter the maze and see the one you’re after, the one you want to intentionally hurt.  Maybe you’ll throw some heavy words at him, bricks that will tarnish the wall behind him so everyone can see.  Or maybe you’ll be a little sneaky, really go in for the punch by purposely leaving him out of something.  How can you be sure he’ll find out?  By hanging a picture of course.  That should get everyone talking.  And that’s a more subtle way to hurt him so you’ll look totally innocent in the matter.

Yes. It probably will hurt him.  You’ll be able to snicker to yourself and keep moving on.

But while you’re carrying on, the same thing happens to you. Someone hits you with a heavy brick for all to see and someone else hangs up a picture and you feel deeply wounded that you weren’t included in it.  Now you’re hurt and anger begins to burn you from the inside out.

But even worse than that: When you entered the maze and became so distracted, you missed what you should have been doing with your valuable, limited time.  Perhaps there is someone who needs a physical hug today (not just a wink).  Maybe someone needs to hear your voice on the phone or desperately craves a handwritten card of encouragement from you.  But you never made that call and you never sent the card.  You were stuck in the maze.

And while you were lost wandering around and around looking at walls and trying to find your way out, you also failed to see how dark the maze became. It wasn’t the drama that blocked the light but the one who wants to stand between you and God.

Satan is lurking in the maze and has been whispering lies to distract you ever since you got here. He loves tricking you into staying just long enough that you lose your way and just long enough to do some damage.

That way you’re so busy doing his job that you fail to do the job God created you to do.

“Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” (1 Peter 5:8-9 NIV.)

Lose the Earbuds and Hear the Music

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Do you have a constant swarm of negative thoughts hitting you? Are you “hearing” over and over again what a failure you are?  Maybe the thoughts are more like:

You’re totally lost.

You’ve really blown it this time.

You can’t do anything right.

Do you really think you can do this?

Just who do you think you are?

You’re not good enough.

You’re not smart enough.

You are a failure and nothing is going to change that.

No one really cares about you.

You’re alone. Get used to it.

That ugly list could go on and on but I’m stopping there because I don’t want those lies to repeat any longer. That’s all they are.  Lies.

Satan is trying to poison your thoughts by lying to you. It’s as if while you weren’t looking he slipped a pair of earbuds into your ears so you can hear nothing BUT lies.

Why?

He wants to render you useless. He wants to hit you in such a sneaky way that you’ll feel deeply discouraged but not understand why.  You’ll lose your joy.  You’ll want to give up.  You’ll want to quit what God has called you to do.  That’s right.  The enemy of your soul is trying to lead you away from the path you’re on with God, so you’ll wander off thinking awful things about yourself and that God is far away and isn’t coming to look for you.

Again, more lies.

The truth is God cares for you more than you know. He is the only One who has been with you since day one and will be there when you take your final breath.  He loves you unconditionally.  You don’t have to be perfect or do or say all the right things all the time.  He knows you better than you know you.  He knows your heart.  He loves you inside and out.

God loves how you look in the morning when you crawl out of bed with a sleepy smile and hair all messy. He loves you before you put on your brave face, before you brush your teeth, and yes, even before your first cup of coffee.  (And for me that’s saying a lot!)

So lose the earbuds, my friends. How else will you hear your Heavenly Father singing over you?  That’s the music you don’t want to miss.

“The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.”  (Zephaniah 3:17 NIV.)

When Tragedy Strikes

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Mass shootings of innocent people. Horrific stabbings.  There is violence and death all around the world and for no known reason.  None of this makes any sense.  I hurt for the victims and their families.  I’ve only seen photographs, news reports.  I can’t even imagine the real pain they are going through.

Why did this happen? Why would a person do such a thing?  Why kill innocent people you don’t even know?

But this isn’t something we can understand with human reasoning. This is when we need God more than ever.  We need to lift up those in agony who’ve fallen to their knees, lift them up in prayer right into God’s arms.  And we need to run into His arms too and fall apart and cry.  We need His help to make sense out of all of this to avoid going crazy, to avoid losing hope, and to remind us that one day all of the ugliness, the cruelty, and the evil of this world will be gone.

There is something beautiful coming. Someone beautiful is coming soon.  Jesus.  We mustn’t lose hope.

Please, friends and neighbors, brothers and sisters in Christ, remember that evil is very real and roaming freely around the world. We are seeing it every day.  We must remember that a spiritual war is taking place all around us.  We must stand firm in the armor of God.  We must stand together as warriors, alert and praying.

And we must reach out in love and continue to pray for those who have been wounded by that evil.

Heavenly Father, we need You. We need You to help those we can’t reach from where we are, those who are suffering at the hands of evil all around the world, Lord.  You see them right now.  They are not alone.  You are with them, Lord, and we ask that You would comfort them.  Please Lord, meet them in their most painful moments and hold them in Your arms.  Make Your very presence known to them so they may cling to You.

And Lord, we pray that You would make us warriors, strong in the faith and ready to stand against all evil that attack the innocence of this world. Help us to know Your Word in our very hearts and to speak it out loud, boldly.  Lord, we rebuke Satan and all of his demons in the name of Your Son, Jesus Christ.  The enemy has no hold on us.  We are bought with the blood of Your Son, Jesus Christ.  Help us to remember who we are, Lord, and that we are Yours. Lord, we love You and we thank You for Your love and Your faithfulness and Your power.  It’s in the precious and holy name of Your Son, Jesus Christ we pray these things.  Amen.

“Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:11-12 NLT.)

“In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare.   Pray hard and long.  Pray for your brothers and sisters.  Keep your eyes open.  Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.” (Ephesians 6:18 MSG.)

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.  And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them.  They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.  He will wipe every tear from their eyes.  There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”  (Revelation 21:1-4 NIV.)

 

 

When Your Defenses Are Down

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If you’re fighting the flu, it’s hard to fight off other infections.  Your physical defenses are down.

The same is true when your spiritual defenses are down. You haven’t been praying, pushing God off to the side thinking you’ll talk to Him later, and reading the Bible?  Well you’re too busy for that.

Until something hits you hard. Maybe not a tragedy but something comes along and aggravates you and your patience melts like an ice cube on a hot sidewalk leaving you foaming at the mouth in anger and narrowing your focus to the problem and the impossibility of fixing it or figuring it out.

You’ve just been caught in a trap, my friend. Remember the cartoon where a loop of rope is hidden under a pile of leaves to catch the unsuspecting rabbit?

Well here you are, the rabbit, hanging upside down from a tree just kicking and flailing and totally stuck. Before long you run out of kick and you just dangle there.  You’re plumb tuckered out.  The blood is rushing to your head and now you’re forced to hang there and think about what just happened.  If you would have paid attention, you would have seen those sneaky eyes peeking out from behind the tree watching you and waiting in the darkness to pounce on you when your defenses were down.  But you were too busy.  Too busy for God and too busy to be alert.

Of course the enemy comes out from hiding, smiling at you and laughing this sickening laugh that makes your skin want to peel off and crumble. He’ll start talking to you while you’re hanging there, telling you you’re defeated, and he’s got you now.  He’ll remind you of the fit of rage you just had, and he’ll smirk when he tells you he caused that whole situation.  He’ll laugh when he tells you how this time, you really messed up and it’s too late to turn back to God now.  Yes, he’ll even remind you how you were pushing God away because you were too busy.  And he’ll ask you why you think God would want anything to do with you now.

My friend, it’s time to cut through those lies with the truth of God’s word that’s hidden in your heart:

“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”  (Hebrews 13:5 NIV.)

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”  (1 John 1:9 NIV.)

“I have loved you with an everlasting love…”  (Jeremiah 31:3 NIV.)

Speak His Word with authority from the core of your spirit and watch as those words slice right through that rope like the sword that it is. And don’t worry about the fall.  That pile of leaves?  Satan may have used them to disguise his trap, but God will use them to cushion your fall.

So stand up, brush those leaves off, and turn your back on that lying enemy, and press on. And after you thank God for that rescue, ask Him to forgive you for pushing Him aside and ask Him to help you make Him your number one priority.  When you do, everything else will fall into place.  And you’ll know the next time there’s a trap up ahead.

“Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” (Ephesians 6:11 NIV.)

 

That Night: A Spiritual Battle

A Spiritual Battle

What would you do if you overheard a thief making plans and knew which house he was going to hit and when? You would probably tell the owner of the house or notify the police; not only because it is the right thing to do, but because you have knowledge that others may not have.  And along with that comes the responsibility to act.

I have a similar responsibility to you, my friends; one that I’ve been aware of for a long time, but I’ve never known when and how to approach it. You see, I’ve been afraid that the world would think I’m nuts.  But I’ve decided I’d rather the world think I’m nuts than to disappoint God in my responsibility.

What in the world am I talking about?

I have seen evil. I have seen a demon.  Literally.

No, I wasn’t hallucinating or under the influence of some sort of drug or alcoholic binge. I was lying in my own bed, my husband sound asleep beside me and facing away from me, when I felt this heaviness on top of me.  When I went to move, I realized my arms were pinned, my mouth and eyes shut tight.  I tried to talk but all that came out were mumbles.  Finally, I was “allowed” to open my eyes.

That’s when I saw it: This evil “thing” in between us.  I saw its twisted and distorted face.  I heard its sickening laugh when I couldn’t reach my husband or speak.

I wanted it to just be a dream, but I was wide awake. I remember screaming to God in my mind to help me, to save me.  I was terrified!  Finally this evil thing got off of me but it was still in the room.

I could finally move, finally speak, so I grabbed my husband and just bawled. I told him something awful just happened to me.  I begged him to hold me.  He did, but it didn’t help.  I could tell that evil thing was still in our bedroom.  It was close.

That’s when I remembered to plead the blood of Jesus Christ over us, my husband and daughter and myself, our house…everything.

The blood of Jesus Christ is what drove that evil from me.

It was gone.

I pulled myself together and ran to check on our little girl. She was asleep.  She was fine.

I climbed back into bed, shaking and still terrified. My husband tried to comfort me, telling me everything was going to be okay.  I asked God, no, I begged Him to show me something beautiful.  I knew there was no way I would ever be able to sleep again after seeing something so horrific if God didn’t help me.

So I closed my eyes. I started to see things that first appeared like stars.  It was like being in the night sky and watching stars get really bright and then dim.  Only after a few moments I realized, they weren’t stars:  They were swords colliding.  There was a battle taking place.   Only later did I realize that battle was over me.

This happened to me in January of 2011, but I can still remember the relief, the peace I felt when I saw those swords colliding. And when I knew God was there, really there with me in that moment, I asked Him why He left me earlier with that evil thing.  He answered clearly, “I never left you.  I’ve been here all along.  Where is your faith?”

That night changed me. Things got real serious.  All of a sudden God became very real to me.  He was no longer Someone I could live without or Someone I took lightly.  I had literally seen the opposite of God and wanted no part of it.  And I saw the battle, the awesome way God fought for me before my very eyes.

This is why I am the way I am today. I don’t talk about God all the time because I’m a “Bible thumper” or a religious freak or fanatic.  I do it because I love Him.  Jesus saved me from an eternity of evil by dying on the cross for me and my Father battled evil for me that night.

You see, it really is a battle between good and evil. And that’s why I pray for people who don’t believe in God because I have seen the alternative.  You either choose God or evil chooses you in the end.

And I pray for people who don’t believe in Jesus, who think His name is just a name Christians throw around to show their “holiness.” His blood is what saved me.  I know it.  I lived it.  And I still whisper the name, “Jesus” when the enemy tries to come at me (and he does try).

And I pray for people who toy around with evil, finding it funny in any way. It’s not.  Trust me.

Well, you don’t have to trust me.

But I do hope you trust God and His Word. Satan went after Jesus in the wilderness (and Satan lost).  Satan sifted Peter, but Peter turned back to God.  Satan attacked all of Job’s belongings, his children, and his body, but God blessed Job later.  In the end, God always wins against Satan.  Always.  In my life and in yours, God will defeat evil.  Trust Him.  And trust in the blood of Jesus Christ.

Heavenly Father, thank you for your faithfulness and your love. Thank you for rescuing us time and time again.  And Lord, I plead the precious and powerful blood of your Son Jesus Christ over all who read this, especially their minds.  Lord, I pray you give them eyes that see and ears that hear so they may know Your truth.  Be with them, each one, Lord, and draw them closer to you.  Thank you, Lord.  I love you.  It’s in the name of your Son Jesus Christ I pray these things.  Amen.

“The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”  (Exodus 14:14 NIV.)

 

Discouragement and Guilt

discouragment and guilt

I’m so discouraged today.

I woke up feeling “off” like something is wrong or something is going to go wrong.  I prayed and cried and tried to listen for God’s leading through His Word.  He gave me: “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” (Exodus 14:14 NIV.)

I held onto that Scripture all morning and used it as a flashlight to shine it on what I was feeling.  I don’t live by my feelings, but I need to be aware of them, especially when they are so heavy and I’m hauling them around.

So I stopped and slipped off the “backpack” and unzipped it.  I used that flashlight to see inside; it was stuffed with discouragement and guilt. Bingo.

I know where that garbage is from and it’s not from God.  And now I understand why God gave me that Scripture:  I’m in the midst of another battle.  And more importantly, I know Who is fighting for me.

So I’ll take a minute, just now, to cry.  Not because I’m broken or I’ve lost the battle, but because the mighty hand of my Jesus has tenderly pulled me behind Him.  He is fighting for me right now.  I’m crying into the back of His robe.  I can feel His warmth as I press my face into Him.  I can feel and hear the vibrations of His voice as He speaks His truth at the father of lies.

I always pray to be closer to Jesus, to know Him more.  I know Him more today, in this very moment, as my Savior, my Warrior King, and my Hero Who fights for me.

He picks up the trash I was hauling around, like two rotten carcasses, and He hurls them at the enemy.  Satan slinks back into the shadows.

Jesus turns to me now and kneels down beside me as I’ve dropped to the ground to thank Him, and He lifts up my chin to see Him.

Oh, those eyes.

Those are the eyes I’m living for, to please, to stare into for all eternity.  There is such fire and strength and overwhelming love.  They burn into me, not in a painful way, but as a way for me to remember this moment.  It’s like lifting my face to the sun, closing my eyes, and still seeing the light with my eyes shut.

In all the darkness I will face, I will still see His light.  This moment will stay with me long past today.

I will remember, Lord, that your eyes are upon me, and you do fight for me.

“The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” (Exodus 14:14 NIV.)

Picking Up Arrows

arrow

If you were in a war and you saw an arrow stuck in the ground, would you pick it up and hand it to your fellow soldier to use? You wouldn’t if you knew the arrow itself was poisonous to touch.

The truth is, you are in a war, a spiritual war, and there will be flaming arrows coming at you from the enemy.  But God has provided you with the shield of faith to extinguish those arrows.

But what if you’ve lowered your shield because the arrow isn’t blazing at you from the enemy but is handed to you from someone on your side fighting with you?  You reach out, take the arrow, and realize only then that it was a trap.  You’ve been struck; the poison the enemy conjured up to specifically harm you has found its way directly to you.  No, it’s not the same as the enemy himself hitting you.  It’s much worse.  The enemy used someone you trust to inflict harm, and now the poison has entered your bloodstream.

And it hurts. You drop to your knees and wonder what in the world just happened?  Perhaps the one who handed it to you has already moved on in battle and didn’t realize you’ve hit the ground.  So you stop fighting, you stop gaining ground, and you stop obeying the command to press on because you’re hurt and confused.  You tend to your injury the best you can, unaware of what antidote to use because you’re not sure what poison has entered your system.  You just know the poison reached your heart the moment you realized it came from your own side.

Maybe you survive, take some time to recover, and return to fight the enemy. And maybe you don’t.  Maybe you spend the rest of your days a frail shell of the warrior you once were, wondering:  If only my fellow soldier wouldn’t have picked up that arrow. If only I wouldn’t have taken it.

 Satan shoots flaming arrows of doubt, worthlessness, and a number of lies at each one of us to destroy us, to annihilate our faith; hence the reason God provides the shield of faith. (Thank you, Lord.) But we can’t assume the arrows, the lies, have disappeared when we block them and they fall to the ground.  The lies are still there, waiting to inflict harm, waiting to poison someone’s faith.  And when it happens, the heart that once surged with total devotion to God now slows to a deadly beat.

The antidote?

For the injured soul who is battling against the enemy and has been handed an arrow and the poison is coursing through your veins and heading to your heart, God has provided a powerful antidote: His Word.  It is full of truth.  Drink it in deeply.  And remember if someone tries to hand you an arrow again, a lie, don’t touch it. Don’t let it enter your mind. Hold tight to every piece of your armor, especially the sword of the Spirit you carry, and press on.

And to those who may be unaware, if you see an arrow sticking out of the ground, a juicy piece of gossip, a morsel of a half-truth about someone, don’t pick it up. In fact, don’t even touch it.  You see, the poison may have been meant for another, but it will also hurt you:  You’ll be fighting on the wrong side.

“Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking lies.”  (Psalm 34:13 NIV.)