The Struggle is Real

The Struggle is Real

When is the last time you had a good fight?

Not a fight with your spouse, or your kids, or even a friend, but against the forces of darkness? Wow, you weren’t expecting that, right?

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. Ephesians 6:12.

Over the last few months, I have heard from friends and family who were struggling with terrible dreams, difficulty sleeping, and noises in the house for no apparent reason. Now, I am not the kind of person who sees-a-demon-under-every-bush.

But….sometimes, the Holy Spirit just tells it like it is.

There are reasons evil spiritual forces are at work around us.

  • We can open the door for them to walk on through.
    • By what we watch on TV, take part in, or expose ourselves to gives satan the right to be in our lives or homes. Pornography opens a huge door into our lives—from magazines to movies to books we read, they can all contain different levels of porn.
  • Others can open the door, and as a result we will be attacked.
    • The people we surround ourselves with can have open doors in their lives. If they are our spouse or child, then we can protect ourselves with the Blood of Jesus.
  • Sometimes, the Lord allows spiritual warfare to teach us how to stand and pray against it.
    • We would not know how to fight if we were never in that situation.
  • Lack of unity.
    • Satan loves when we are against one another. He loves when we let our disagreements and passions turn us on each other.

Training

The military trains by running scenarios. Real life scenarios, so the soldier knows what to do if he or she is ever in a particular situation. On the TV show Seal Team, it often shows them going through simulations to rescue a hostage within a model of the building known to hold the person. The warriors practice “rescuing the hostage” until they can do it precisely and timely.

As Christians, we are warriors living where the Natural and Spiritual realms intersect. We can have interactions with the angelic or demonic realm whether or not we believe in them. We must know how to deal with the forces of evil. Jesus has given us the authority to act.

Satan loves ignorance. But God doesn’t want us to be unaware. He allows situations and battles with the enemy to prepare us and keep us spiritually sharp.

We must also be in His Word. It is our training manual. The word Torah (the word for the first 5 books of the Bible) is often interchanged for the word Law. But Torah, in Hebrew, means to teach or instruct. God gave us His Word so we can learn about the ways of satan, man, and God. So, we can become prepared for the life of a believer in Christ.

Jesus never promised it would be easy. But He will teach us, are you willing to learn?

Lack of Unity

We are also living in a period when time as we know it has never been closer to the Last Days.

A pandemic has overtaken our world, our country is divided over politics, and abortion has taken the lives of over 60 million babies.

Social media allows people to say things over the internet they would never say to your face.

Not to mention, you can get beaten up for supporting the wrong political candidate.

Satan is having a heyday!

He is pitting brothers and sisters, and husbands and wives against one another, church members are in opposition to one another, and even various church denominations contend against another over theology.

We aren’t even happy about the versions of the Bible some people read, for crying out loud.

Our country, our world, needs for the believers of Jesus to be united. Our President needs our prayers as well as our Representatives, Congress, and Governors.

Jesus calls us to be prayer warriors not pew warmers!

Jesus calls us to be warriors, not pew warmers! If we can’t stand up to satan for our family or ourselves, how will we ever stand up to him for our cities, states, country, and world?

Let’s not watch from the sidelines but get involved in the battle.

“You are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” 1 John 4:4, ESV.

Tribulation in the Lab

Tribulation in the Lab

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1 ESV

At twenty-five years old, I had a stomach ulcer from the unbearable stress of my job.

I had found a laboratory who would hire an inexperienced college graduate with a B.S. in biology. The VA hospital needed a histology technician, and they would train me to do the job.

Histologists make slides from the tissue removed from the body during surgery, which pathologists review to make a diagnosis for the patient.

My lab consisted of my supervisor and one other histology lab tech—I was the youngest. Both women had been working in this lab for years. I came in excited to learn. But I didn’t realize that I would learn more than histology…

God was about to throw me into the middle of a spiritual battle.

My supervisor, a Jamaican woman fond of talking about curses and voodoo dolls, did not like me from day one. I believed her goal was to make my life and job miserable.

She began by criticizing my work clothes, the way I styled my hair, and wearing my contact lenses. She demanded I pulled back my hair and wear glasses. Good thing I wasn’t there to find a boyfriend… it would’ve never happened. Although she thought I flirted with all the doctors who came into our lab because I acknowledged their presence.

It got worse. She didn’t allow me to take some of my breaks and if she decided she wanted me back in the lab before lunch was over, she would stage a mysterious phone call from a family member, who hung up before I got to the phone…

My supervisor criticized my work in every way and at times compared it to that of a five-year-old. Equipment from my locker disappeared after she watched me stow it away for the night. She even called my house to see if I was sick after I had called off.

I cried to the Lord every single day. I was too demoralized by her to complain and fear and intimidation held me hostage.

Even though it seemed like discouragement and hopelessness were my constant companions, I sensed God’s presence.  He met with me each morning as I worshipped and poured out my heart to Him; He filled my soul. I grew in faith and dependence on my Savior.

However, the more I matured in my faith, the worse the harassment got.

So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” Hebrews 13:6 ESV

After a year, I interviewed for a job on another floor of the hospital. They offered me the position, but I knew the Lord did not want me to take that job. As I turned it down, God gave me immediate peace.

Once I had endured that job for two years, the head lab manager gave me a significant pay raise and promotion because of my degree and two years on the job. My supervisor, who had no control over this, was furious. She increased the attacks, wanting to prove I was undeserving of this promotion.

I begged God to let me leave; He did.

If I had taken my eyes off Jesus and surrendered to the hopelessness of my circumstances, I would have missed out on a job I loved.

During those two years, the Lord surrounded me with praying friends and mentors who taught me how to pray against the spiritual darkness I faced. I had faith the Lord was with me.

After I quit, the Lord had an incredible job waiting for me in cancer research. They were looking for a histologist with two years of lab experience!

If I had taken my eyes off Jesus and surrendered to the hopelessness of my circumstances, I would have missed out on a job I loved.

No matter what situation you may find yourself in today, whether a bad relationship, a difficult job, or a health problem, don’t give up. Keep your eyes on Jesus and hold on to your faith.

 He has you in the palm of His hand. He will never leave you or forsake you.

In what way is the Lord teaching you to trust Him?

In what way is the Lord teaching you to trust Him?

More Than a Friend

More Than a Friend

The heartfelt counsel of a friend
    is as sweet as perfume and incense. Proverbs 27:9 NLT

I didn’t know I needed a friend like her, but God did.

I liked her as soon as I met her. Fifteen years older than me and married with children, Marilyn was a charming woman who smiled with her eyes, not just her mouth.

I was out of school, single, looking for a full-time job in biology, and trying to get involved in a new church. I wasn’t sure how well I knew who God was, even though my parents reared me in a Christian home. It was confusing being told most of my life to be good, wear the right clothes, act godly, go to church, and watch my language. None of these helped me have a relationship with Jesus.

God sent Marilyn into my life to show me who Jesus was and how much He loved me. She was an excellent teacher and godly woman. She loved Jesus, and her love for Him rubbed off on everyone she knew.

Her way of teaching drew me in when she and her husband began instructing our Young Adult Sunday school class. The old stories came to life as she gave me a new understanding of the book of Daniel and Isaiah, and her teaching on Spiritual Warfare showed me I could be victorious in this life.

Most of all, she opened my eyes to a Savior who wanted a personal relationship with me. His love for me was not based on my works, but on His. Jesus wanted to be my friend. No one had explained Jesus was interested in me—in my life. He wanted me to talk and walk with Him. Jesus really loved me!

Marilyn and I laughed, cried, and prayed together. She was always there for me and so patient when I showed up at her house unexpectedly during dinner.

Although Marilyn and I don’t live close anymore, she is still my spiritual mom and friend.

Have you had someone be like Jesus to you?

Today, more than ever before, our world needs men and women with the heart of Jesus. It’s what our teens, college kids, and young adults need. Like us, they desire to have someone love them for who they are, to come beside them, and walk out life with them.

No judgment, no criticism; just acceptance and love.

It’s what Jesus did.

Today, more than ever before, our world needs men and women with the heart of Jesus. #Disciplemakers #disciples #Friendship

I pray my children meet someone like Marilyn one day; someone who will model the character of Jesus to them.

This culture is so different from the one I grew up in during the late 70s and 80s. Our teens and college students need direction, love, and the truth of Jesus and His Word in their lives.

 Jesus’ desire is for us to do as He did; make disciples of all the nations.

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. Matthew 28:18-20 (ESV)

God may never call us to another country, but making disciples in our families and right in our own backyard is the perfect place to start. You may be the friend who is as sweet as perfume to someone in need.

Who are you discipling?

The heartfelt counsel of a friend
    is as sweet as perfume and incense. Proverbs 27:9 NLT

Will the Real Sabbath Please Stand up?

Will the Real Sabbath Please Stand up?

 “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore, the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” Exodus 20:8-11.

How do you view the Sabbath? Is it going to church on Sunday? On Saturday? Is it twenty-four hours of rest or just going to church in the morning?

Growing up, my family went to church on Sunday morning without fail. We went on Wednesday nights, revival weeks, missionary weeks, and when the Evangelists came to town.

But Sunday was special. We had a big meal in our home after church, most often with friends or family. We could not do laundry or clean, and we could do no yard work, either (we LOVED those rules).

But, it could be legalistic, too. Sometimes a girl needed to wash her favorite pants for school on Sunday night. Nope, not allowed. It was Sunday, we should’ve done that on Saturday.

Although, this seems extreme to some, I realized later, my parents were trying their best to remember the Sabbath and keep it holy.

My father loved sports. He watched all the games throughout the week and weekend, until one day…The Lord convicted him of spending too much time on Sunday in front of the TV, watching sports and ignoring Him and his family. From that day on until he was in a nursing home later in life, he never watched sports on Sunday.

God takes Sabbath rest seriously.

He set the example for us in Genesis 2:2-3:

“And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.”

Do you think God really needed to rest?

In Babylon, starting around 605 BCE, the evil king Nebuchadnezzar took the people of Judah captive three different times. God even called Nebuchadnezzar “His servant.” (Jeremiah 25:9.)

They stayed in Babylon for seventy years until king Cyrus allowed them to return to Jerusalem to repair the desolate city.

According to the Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary, the 70 years was “the exact number of years of Sabbaths in four hundred and ninety years, the period from Saul to the Babylonian captivity.” https://lifehopeandtruth.com/prophecy/understanding-the-book-of-daniel/daniel-9/

Not only were they to rest on the seventh day, but as a country, their land was to rest on the seventh year as well. They did not do this.

Why did God allow this exile and captivity to happen? Judah was disobedient and would not listen to the Lord. (Jeremiah 25:3-4.)

Bottom line, they did not keep the Sabbath for 490 years. So, God sent them to a pagan country where they might appreciate what they had, and have plenty of time to make up the Sabbaths they missed.

When I consider the time we are in with nearly every restaurant, park, movie theater, sports event, and anything fun closed indefinitely, I can’t help but consider how many Sabbaths have we missed?

Could the Lord be using this time to make up for our missed Sabbaths? Have we ever celebrated Sabbath like God wanted us to?

Rest.

Unless you are a healthcare worker or considered an essential business employee, we all have time to do that, right?

I wrote a post a while ago called Living out the Sabbath (Shabbat). I wrote about a time we visited Israel and ate a Shabbat meal with an Orthodox family. They explained the customs as we ate the meal and we watched them honor each member of the family. They wowed us the entire night.

There was not a dry eye.

Would it be so hard to carry out the real Sabbath, now? Can we enjoy the rest God has granted us once this is all over and (hopefully) things return to some normalcy?

God gave us the Sabbath for our rest—for our benefit. Rest allows our bodies to heal, our spirits to renew, and our minds to quiet down.

It’s God, family, and friends in that order on the Sabbath. It’s not a punishment, it’s a gift.

What changes can you make in your life, “To remember the Sabbath and keep it holy,”