When Satan Attacks

There is a simple reason why Satan is so good at what he does.  Lets be honest.  He is great at it.  He is the grand manipulator.  Weaving in and out of situations, circumstances, and even people.  He masterfully creates illusion, subterfuge, and outright lies to get us to a point where he can do his work.  How is he so successful?  What makes him so good?  Its quite simple.  We rarely ever see him coming.

We see our spouses.  We see our friends.  We catch glimpses of family and coworkers.  And then the damage begins.  Strained relationships, stress, duress, feelings of insignificance, misplaced blame.  The enemy sidesteps and all the blame goes to our loved ones.  It’s ‘their fault’.  ‘They said’.  ‘They thought’.  ‘They wanted’.  Meanwhile the enemy cackles as his schemes take root.

Have you ever played hide and go seek?  Most people like to be the hiders.  They are the ones holding all the cards.  They know exactly where the finder counts from.  They can hear the seeker coming down the hall.  Hiders have time to leave misdirects and seek cover in hard to think of places.  But every once in a while a bad hider will emerge.  Especially if you play with younger children.

Its so obvious.  A human sized indention rests behind the curtain.  Sunlight casts the perfect silhouette on the floor before the window.  The child hears you approach and begins to laugh.  Noise erupts and the curtain shakes.  ‘I wonder where they could be?’ the seeker says sarcastically.

Satan’s power is in mistaken identity.  Trickery.  He is your spouse.  He is your friend.  When you see HIM… he has no power.  God can show you him.  It’s like the monster under the bed.  Sleep Number sold a child’s bed with a monster detector in it.  When I asked the sale’s rep about it, I couldn’t help but chuckle at the thought of the bed actually telling the sleepy occupant that there was, in fact, a monster found.  He assured me that the bed was ALWAYS supposed to give an ‘all clear’, but there was one reported incident of the bed misbehaving and alerting a poor child to his worst nightmares coming true.

monster

But isn’t that most of the fear?  Wondering?  Is something in the closet?  Did something just move under the bed?  Fear is the unknown.  Once we know what we are facing, we operate on different emotions.  Adrenaline, survival, flight.  Healthy instincts kick in that allow us to navigate what our senses know and understand.  If we could see the monsters, we would know where to run.  If we could see the devil at work in us, not only would we not lose out on the blame game in our relationships… but he would lose all power.

It happens every time.  When you see the enemy at work in your family, your family can strengthen together, pray together, unite, and laugh at the shaking infant behind the curtain.  When you call him out to others and join in watching him ‘try’ to work, no one will buy his lies.  He is defeated when found.  While his tricks are many, and his power unfathomable, he can’t accomplish anything when we know what he is up to.

We don’t respect enough, how damaging he can be.  We don’t appreciate how irreparable his spite is.  And I’m not attempting to taunt him now as I know that is a mistake.  But with all his power, and all his ability, he is like a cartoon when Jesus shines the light on him.  The Bible tells us that God is our provider, our protector, and our deliverer…. but only when we live in Him and call on Him.  Even though the power comes from God, we have spiritual obligations to live out our lives in safety.

By putting God first in our life, Satan becomes much more detectable.  When you can find the devil, he has no power over you.  Victories are quick once his plans are ruined.  But so is his return.  Our biggest mistake can often be underestimating how quickly and how much better equipped he will return.  We have no time to gloat when his plans are foiled as he will be right back.  Better.  Stronger.  Darker.  More secretive.  More hidden in the last places we would ever look.  But if we are bought by the blood of Jesus, we will return prepared for his hidden attacks.  Our Father will join us in the search and help point him out.  We need only believe and ask.

In the song, You Never Run Dry, one of the lyrics is, “Valleys make room for the river of God.”

I love all of the many things this means for us.  First, it reminds me that if I don’t praise God sufficiently, the rocks and hills will cry out and do it for me.  And while I appreciate God’s creation singing back to him, I can’t let the rocks do a better job than me.  Call it pride, I want to praise God better than the trees.  But I also think about a valley growing and stretching in preparation of the Savior.  That is us.  We have to make room for God in our lives.  And if we make the room for Him, He will fill it.  A roaring and raging river will sooth and nurture everything prepared before it.

You may have noticed the other lyrics in that song mention the desert.  It does not matter the landscape that surrounds you.  If you prepare the way for the Lord, He will fill that space.  And this is so important to remember while you are constantly being attacked by the devil who wants nothing to do with that River.  He will lie, cheat, steal, and manipulate until you either give up or win.  You win… by digging that valley.  May you see the enemy in all of his schemes before you.  As you grow closer to God, the attacks will increase in severity and number.  But as you continue to dig, so the river will grow.  The world needs a healing savior.  May you dig very deep.

 

 

 

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You Weren’t Worth it!

What if you were the one:

The one that Christians saw and got cold feet.

The one that believers passed by because they were afraid.

The one that everyone thought was ok.

The one that people just assumed didn’t need anything.

The one were folks reasoned, “I’ll talk to the next one”.

The one the church forgot.

The one that disciples neglected.

The one that was just another one that will find God some other way.

The one whose eternal fate wasn’t worth stopping for.

The one the rest of the world just didn’t have time for.

The one that every one else avoided eye contact with.

What if that person were you?  Would you object?  Would you enjoy knowing that others believe in eternal Heaven and Hell and yet didn’t bother to speak to you?  Spend some time today, and instead of trying to motivate yourself to be the good person… think about what if you weren’t.  Consider the impact of NOT doing anything from the other direction.  Can you walk past a starving person and throw food in the trash?  Can you enjoy laughter around those grieving?  Can you truly carry the Joy of Christ Jesus around so many lost… and not say anything… or do anything?

What if you weren’t worth it?  What if Jesus was not in your life?  What if you had no hope?  What if you had no future?  What if you had no relationship with the Father?  You were worth it!  You were worth the life Jesus spent away from God.  You were worth His sacrifice.  You were worth His death.  And they are too.  They are worth some discomfort and potentially awkward conversations.  They are worth your time.  They are worth your prayers.  You were worth it… and so are they!

Disciple up!  It’s not called the optional task on Sundays.  It’s not called the mediocre commission.  It’s called the Great Commission!

Jesus Didn’t Come to Win

The world doesn’t understand how Jesus lost for us.

We understand victory.  Triumph.  Splendor.  The cross was a dirty mess and it’s not in our nature to know what to do with that.

If you were a movie producer, how would you tell the story?  Whether it includes explosions, great speeches, or slapstick comedy, most of us would put a happy ending on the matter.  Just before the whip was raised… right as the crown of barbed thorns was lifted up… before the first nail was struck…

Something would have happened.  This wouldn’t even constitute a plot twist, it’s only natural for things to work out in the end.  Killing an innocent man is not a generally accepted principal.  Soldiers would have rushed in.  Angels would have descended.  The earth would have shook.  Supernatural.  Massive.  Epic.  Awesome.  We would have easily accepted these things.  But this story isn’t a fairy tale.  It doesn’t compete with summer blockbusters.

In this story, the innocent is brutally murdered… but the target was us.  He didn’t sacrifice Himself and then pull off an amazing, out of no where, attack scheme that allowed Himself to live too.  This is where we break away from the movies.  We didn’t all meet up afterwards for celebration.  We all didn’t make it.

God’s triumphant plan was not to blow the enemy away.  He came to save the lost.  This was more of a search and rescue.  And as the dust settles, we learn that we are saved through Him.  We learn of His sacrifice  We learn of His love.  And then we realize, He wasn’t just tortured and killed… He took our place.

And so we are left in this moment of miserable joy.  So happy that we are saved, so devastated that our sin held such a cost.  So excited that we serve someone willing to pay this price and yet so mournful of the horrible events endured by the one so loving.  We cheer, we cry, we laugh, we surrender to our knees and tremble.  How could someone do this for me?  What value am I?  And this holy, loving, perfect, one-true-God, He says, ‘this is what I’m willing to do for you… to reach you… to get through to you… to have you near me’.

The world doesn’t understand it because although many have died at the hands of the enemy, the body count still remains at one.  Jesus’ death is the one that ‘counts’.  Our sins are on Him.  For everyone else the price has been paid.  Our death is where the victory occurs.  And we really struggle understanding that sometimes.  We are so used to the phrase, “and they all lived happily ever after…”.  That only works by ending the story before its all over.  For us… because of Jesus… our story starts to get really good in the ‘end’.

And so those that believe sing that God is a “good Father” and that we are “Loved by Him”… perfectly defining the relationship.  A protective Father that loves us and is willing to sacrifice greatly for us.  And we, those deserving of a horrible fate, bask in His love for us.  We are not any adjective.  We are not our professions.  We are not the sum of our status’.  We are defined by God’s love for us.  We are a character in a story told about this amazing triumphant victory.  But that victory has to be chosen by the recipients.

It’s difficult to explain this amazing story where the Savior came to lose.  It takes time to wrap our heads and hearts around the fact that He came to lose for us.  In our place.  Instead of us.  Because He is a good Father and He loves us.  And we are loved by Him.  For 3 days Satan celebrated a short lived and greatly misunderstood victory.  Every day since is a celebration for us.  I think the important take away is that we can’t simply explain this story to others and have them accept it.  We have to show it to them.

They need to see the Savior.  We need to live like Him.  It’s a love story.  For God so loved the world… It’s a story that doesn’t make sense and it greatly needs an interpreter.  We can live those words.  We can share that love.  We can choose to be thankful for God’s gift and respect him with our actions.  We can show love.  We can show sacrifice.  We can teach through our choices.  And when we look enough like our Savior, the world will rejoice in the gift they find in Him.  After all, Jesus didn’t win in the traditional sense.  He didn’t come to win.  He came to love.  He came to serve.  He came to sacrifice.  You could argue He won by defeating Satan, but technically we can still choose to side with either one.  Which means we still have work to do. And its imperative that we learn to love the way Christ taught us.