Things just aren’t coming together the way you’d planned

Things just aren’t coming together the way you’d planned.

This was the road you felt sure God led you to take. You’re no day-tripper with God. You’ve signed on for life. The eternal kind.

And you’re not one to go off-roading. No. You take the directions seriously. You keep your eyes on those Jesus tracks in the sand. You pray. You obey. The best you can for someone relying on grace. You avoid the shadowlands and live in the light – even when it reveals your failings.

Maybe that’s what’s getting to you. The glare. Continue Reading →

Next Time Satan Calls . . .

Today my mom was targeted by a telephone scam.
She realized it was a scam
but not before it raised her blood pressure and sent her blood cold.
The voice at the other end of the line spoke with authority,
seemed to know things about her,
and had just enough fake information involving a possible scenario to sound convincing.
(He identified himself as a member of law enforcement informing her she had failed to appear for jury duty and was facing a $2000. fine and possible legal arrest.)
Fortunately, mom kept her head about her,
took notes,
asked questions,
refused to be bullied or threatened into giving out information or committing to any action,
and immediately contacted my father and the local police.
But before the day was out, she spoke with another woman who’d fallen prey to the same scam and had nearly given the callers the money they were demanding.
Satan doesn’t have the creative power to devise new tricks
and humans don’t catch on quick enough for him to have to most of the time.
We fall for the same scheme again and again.
Take the scam above, for instance,
it’s been around since around 2006 and works because it’s simple – it preys on law-abiding people, using people who utilize a voice of authority and have just enough truth to confuse the victim.
Satan does that with Christians.
Sometimes, he uses God’s own word against us.
You’ve had it happen to you, right?
You read a passage of scripture or have one pop into your mind that suddenly places you under a dark cloud.  You’re not really guilty of anything so there’s nothing to confess or repent but it’s God’s word so  you have this vague feeling you must be in trouble for something. You know you’re a sinner. You know you’re imperfect.  You feel weighted down and almost as though there is no escape from just feeling awful.
That’s not conviction. That’s accusation.
That’s Satan imitating the voice of Godly authority, using just enough facts to convince us he knows us, and hijacking enough truth from God’s word to confuse us.
Think this doesn’t happen?
Read the story of Jesus being tempted by Satan in the desert (Matthew 4:1-11).
At one point, Satan uses a passage of scripture to tempt Jesus to action. THAT’s the epitome of arrogance!
Jesus counters with an accurate scriptural answer to the temptation and prevails.
So, how do we know the difference between conviction and accusation and what is our defense?
My mom presented a good example –
take a breath,
take notes,
ask questions,
refuse to be bullied or coerced into action,
consult with others (and, like my mom did, warn the bully she plans to consult with the actual authorities).
When a passage of scripture comes to mind that causes you guilt or that “black cloud” of bad feeling,
take a breath,
write down the passage and the feelings or thoughts it’s evoking,
pray – asking Jesus if this is from Him or from a counterfeit source,
speak to the thought or feeling that you won’t be bullied into action but will only take action if you confirm this is from God,
consult with others – speak with close believing friends or a spiritual leader about the feelings evoked by the scriptures.
And, do what Jesus did. Respond to the counterfeit thought with the truth of scripture.
I find Romans 8 to be especially helpful:
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:1-2
and
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?  As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,  neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,  neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:35-39
Conviction of sin can be painful but it’s usually clear and leads to confession, repentance, and forgiveness.
Conviction is clean, straightforward, and often a relief when dealt with properly.
Accusation is a messy affair often resulting in depression, confusion, and fatigue.
And it’s a scam.
Once you recognize the scam – next time Satan calls, you’ll hang up fast.
The truth sets you free, loved ones. If you’re not free, it’s not the truth.