Sacrifice

Of Demons and Daniel.

“I know your works, and where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is. “-Jesus, Revelation 2:12-13

 

If there is a throne, there’s also a kingdom. 

 

 

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I bet you’re like I was (before last Thursday). 

 

You don’t give much thought to Demons or the Kingdom of That Most Evil One, Satan. 

 

I didn’t either.  

 

In fact, I was so well distracted that I barely had time to really give God what He wanted from me. 

 

I believe there’s a natural sort of solution to solving the issue I presented above. The easiest way to get your spiritual butt in gear towards a deeper relationship with God, is to study our Enemy. 

 

Yes. I’m telling you to read up on Satan and His current, and very vast Kingdom.  

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2 Corinthians 2:11 ESV

So that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs.

 

Ephesians 6:12 ESV

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

 

2 Corinthians 11:3 ESV 

But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.

Powerful. Stealthy. Quiet. Patient. Camouflaged. Deadly. Yet, rendered helpless at just one five letter word:  Jesus.  

Powerful. Stealthy. Quiet. Patient. Camouflaged. Deadly. Yet, rendered helpless at just one five letter word: Jesus. 

The truth is, we need to study our Enemy.   

 

No great army of men goes into an impending battle without strategy; without studying; without purpose.  

 

All distractions are removed.  

 

Gear is carefully placed on the body.

 

Supplies and ammo are stocked. 

 

The drills and practices are recalled over and over again.

 

And most of the time, a battle begins with an air of confidence, on both sides, as the final exam is given.  

 

Can you imagine our U.S. Army going into battle and being caught off guard every single time? Casualties everywhere. Territory gained. Lives hanging in the balance. 

 

Look up! Fight!  

 

 

 

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Yet, this is what Christ-followers do all.the.time. 

 

We are more distracted than ever before. 

 

Satan and His minions are loving it. Our defenses are down. We have “no time” to dedicate to battle-readiness, and the gods of busyness and self-absorption rule and reign. 

 

 

1 Peter 5:8 ESV

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

 

Last Thursday, I was face-first with a few demons of my own. 

 

While Believers in Christ cannot be inhabited by Demons, don’t think for a second that we cannot be tormented and made into a rather comfy nest of sorts by these evil ones.  

 

I had two.  

 

One was named Bitterness. 

 

The other, Fear.  (Anxiety, Worry, Panic,etc)

 

As I literally gorged myself, for days, on all things about my Enemy, I began to feel terrified. More terrified than I have ever been in my life. 

 

ATTENTION:This is NOT a drill!

 

Satan and His Kingdom are wrecking true havoc on our brothers and sisters in Christ. And we need to be vocal about how to suit up and defeat this already defeated foe. 

 

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Step 1: Why did Jesus have to come? 

 

No, really.  

 

Think about why.  

 

Not only so we could become friends with God. But so that Satan and the stain of sin, itself, could be fully eradicated. So we could be free. So we could choose to live life without chains. 

 

I have this feeling that most Believers feel like the Gospel no longer applies to them.  

 

That this Gospel is just something we memorize to share with those we witness to. Right?  

 

Dead wrong. 

 

The Gospel is, I believe, more for the Believers, (than those who don’t). 

 

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You see, if we, as Believers, walk around, feeling defeated, addicted to mood-altering drugs, and chalking up our social media “friendships” as actively being a part of the body of Christ, who are we kidding?! 

 

How is that attractive?! Would you do a double-take for a person who lives without hope?! Those hopeless Christians. The great mystery of the universe. 

 

Most of us are neck-deep in unconfessed sin, grasping for pills or that drink, before we fall on our knees.  

 

We’ve forgotten that sin still exists because we go to churches that have completely omitted that word from their vocabulary. 

 

We’ve put ourselves in this sort of hypothetical “safe zone” just because we’ve been washed clean by the blood of the Lamb.  

 

Nobody mentions Satan anymore because, well, that’s just weird and makes people uncomfortable. And yet, we take no issue with indulging ourselves with the pleasures this world offers.

 

Maybe if I squint really hard, I can see the difference between us and them. Maybe.  

 

Maybe not-so-much. 

 

 

Sure, you may not be overtly sinning. 

 

You may stay away from gambling, sexual immorality, and gossip.

 

In fact, you may be immersed in ministry, somewhere, (somehow), and you really don’t have time for anything else.  

 

But, you see, Satan has deceived even you.  

 

For he knows that when a society, as blessed as ours, becomes used to a pattern of constant indulgence; self-control becomes nearly impossible.

 

He also knows constant distractions mean his job gets wayyyyy easier. 

 

So, why are you making it so easy for him to do his job?  

 

Sure, Jesus defeated him on the cross, but he’s still very much in power. He didn’t render him helpless on the cross, just hopeless. The helpless part comes later on.  

 

Until then... 

 

 

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Ask God to reveal to you specific sins you’ve been struggling with. Tell Him, no matter how uncomfortable it makes you, to put those sins on the forefront of your mind.

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Next, admit that, indeed, you are struggling with those sins. Don’t hide. What’s the point? God sees all.

Repent.

You may be saved by grace, through your faith, but that doesn’t mean we stop asking for forgiveness from God. 

Humble yourselves. Confess and repent.

Then, call Satan out on his ways. Tell him you know what he’s been up to and you have every intention of duking it out right then and there.

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This is the fun part: say the names of those sins/those demons out loud. Couple those words with “In the Name of Jesus, leave me!” and watch them scurry along leaving you free and warm from the Holy Spirits love.

 

But don’t even think about retreating just yet.  

 

This battle is ongoing and it won’t end until we see His face. 

 

So stay vigilant, friends. 

 

Ask God what you can give up for Him.  

 

Like Daniel, we too, can find freedom in sacrificing those daily distractions in exchange for a life full of victory. 

 

God delivered Daniel many times from the clutches of death, because He knew Daniel meant business with Him. He was about as unshakable as they come. Trusted far above most. And revered forever as one of the greatest bible “heroes” in history.  

 

It takes a man like Daniel to show us that a “take-no-crap-don’t-back-down-God’s-got-this” attitude is what saves us from our own self-destruction.

 

It also, boldly shows the world that “In Christ, we can truly do and face all things”. 

 

So let God try you.  

 

Strip down to nakedness.

 

Allow Him to expose where you’ve gotten it all wrong. Then, put on the armor of God. Praying every single piece over your body.

Ready.

Steady. 

Because the battle is going on right now. And Satan has studied you like a college final.  

 

Don’t let him ace this thing. Be ready. Send him running. Tail between legs and all.  

 

Back to the drawing board.  

 

Because he will keep coming back. And, with Christ, and some overnighters, you can meet him at the gate. Ready. 

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“But He knows the way that I take and when He has tried me, I shall come out as gold.” -Job 23:10

 

#yearofdenial2018  

(In Retrospect) Lessons Learned From My Brother's Wedding

My little (and only) brother got married this past weekend. 

He married an angel. Truly. A dream come true for our family. 

But...

I'll be honest. I didn't want to go. Well, the anxiety-ridden/extremely fatigued part of me didn't want to go. My heart, on the other hand, has been there since the day they became engaged. 

Here are just some things I took away from this whirlwind weekend of wedding.

First of all, I didn't want to go (really) 

Let me be real and raw here when I say that anticipating taking five children aged 8 and under on a 1000 mile round trip road trip is enough to make you wanna call off the whole idea. But, anticipating taking that 1000 mile round trip road trip while suffering with anxiety and extreme fatigue/thyroid issues plus having not driven much of anywhere in several months is beyond overwhelming.

One of those many "overwhelmed" kind of moments... 

One of those many "overwhelmed" kind of moments... 

I wanted to run far, far away from this event. I struggled with feeling like I had no choice BUT to be there and then thinking "what kind of horrible sister are you to not be at your brother's wedding?!"

Just one week prior, I had taken the liberty to push myself to drive fifteen minutes, behind our house, to a see a friend whom I had never previously gone to her house before. Upon my departure, I notice my phone is at 10%, and I have to use my map app that brutally drains my phone so I can even find her house. 

Long story short, my phone guided me to the middle-of-freaking-nowhere with 2% battery life and no sense of how to get back home, much less to actually finding my friend's house. Oh, and it was getting dark, too. And, I had my two-year-old with me. So my first trek out solo in months, was a semi-disaster and a prime breeding ground for panic. Of course, I didn't desire to venture out of town, much less four states away just seven days later.

But, I went.

My Children Can Travel

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I anticipated the ride to be something like a non-violent horror film. I mean, what else could I have expected having a ten-month-old that has never been more than an hour away from home, a two-year-old that is literally a firework of energy and demands held hostage for multiple hours, and a nearly four-year-old that "has to potty" every other hour?! Let's not forget the six and eight-year-olds that can tag-team the "are we there yet's?" and "how much longer's?" the entire time. 

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I apologize. My children were amazing. I don't know if it had something to do with our awesome parenting prior to this event, my best friend's generosity in the busy bag department, or just an overwhelming amount of God's grace and mercy falling from the prayers that were sent up for us. (I'm going with the latter two possibilities).

My only desperate time was about thirty minutes from our destination on the way up when I had to nurse our baby while she remained strapped into her carseat, so I could converse with my husband about our whereabouts. 

My Family is Amazing (and it just got more amazing)

Considering this wedding was in the bride's home state of Pennsylvania, and we have absolutely no family that lives within any sort of reasonable distance from the location, there were many of us there. 

We spent our 10 year anniversary driving, and took this pic upon arrival to our hotel room. Not romantic in the least, but blessed beyond measure.  

We spent our 10 year anniversary driving, and took this pic upon arrival to our hotel room. Not romantic in the least, but blessed beyond measure.  

Even my inlaws, who have been more like family to my parents and family for my whole life, came anyway when they couldn't find a flight. They drove all day long, helped with our children, took our boys into their hotel room to make more room for us left in that "too tiny for our family of seven" room, and even missed the entire ceremony to help with all of the flower girls. Amazing love. And they left just 24 hours after arriving to drive back to North Carolina.

My grandparents took that same drive on Friday, left on Saturday and drove all night until they got home. They even missed the rehearsal and most of the dinner, but they pushed through and came. 

My uncle and cousin, drove all day long just to attend the wedding on Saturday. Drove back to Indiana that afternoon. They were there just fifteen hours total.

Even one of the groomsman, one of my brothers closest friends, flew all the way from Japan, was a part of the wedding and left today to return to Japan. Incredible love. Incredible sacrifice. 

Hotel Life With Little Ones (or, can I go to the pool?)

It seems like upon every collision of vehicle to hotel parking lot pavement induces the most predictable inquiry from children: "does this hotel have a pool"? 

Which inevitably leads to the next exclamatory inquiry: "can we go swimming....RIGHT NOW?!?"

It doesn't matter if you roll up after dark, or if your parents are having a hard time keeping their eyes open after a long day of travel. The burst of energy children acquire upon learning that, indeed, this hotel does have a pool is further confirmed by the wafting chlorine high that nearly knocks you dead upon entry in to the lobby. It's like a cruel reminder of what is coming next. "OOOHHHH!!! I can smell the pool, mommy!! Can we get our swimming suits on RIGHT NOW?!"

So...we did. We went swimming during the first half hour of our arrival.  

So...we did. We went swimming during the first half hour of our arrival.  

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I recall being that child and saying such childish things during my own childhood. It's a different story, entirely, when you're the mother of five little children that rarely come into contact with giant holes of concrete, filled with chlorinated water. 

So, within the first thirty minutes of arrival, naturally, they (the children) will all immediately don their swimming attire and be clamoring for the exit as if the room was swarming with bees. 

There's also no rest for the weary. Parents, that is. Especially when the only option is to snuggle a wiggly, nursey ten-month-old in a bed that you must share with your husband. It was tight.

I Did It (for my dad)

We made it. We're home now, having brought home buckets full of memories and hearts full of love. 

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I was able to do this weekend because of prayer. I was able to do this weekend because of love, encouragement, and enormous amounts of help. I did it because I knew I would never regret going to my brother's wedding. 

Sure, there were moments when I sobbed from exhaustion, frustration for feeling badly again, and just purely being overwhelmed. I did have one almost panic attack and one full panic attack that I reigned under control rather quickly. 

At the end of the wedding, after the reception was over, people dispersed and clothes were changed for the road trips ahead, my dad told me he was so proud of me. "I did it for you, dad", was my response. You see, my dad understands what it's like to battle a world of "what if's". My anxiety and health issues may have followed me on this road trip, but it didn't defeat me. I still was able to enjoy and partake of almost every moment. I pushed myself and pushed some more. And I know I was able to do so because of my family, the prayers, and my Heavenly Father. 

My brother's wedding was beautiful. And I have pictures to prove it. 

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