Seeing the Unseen

Seeing is never believing: we interpret what we see in the light of what we believe. Faith is confidence in God before you see God emerging, therefore the nature of faith is that it must be tried.Oswald Chambers (1874-1917) (Featured in: Oswald Chambers Quotes; quote source here.)

I read the above quote in a devotion this morning titled, Sight Unseen,” in Our Daily Bread, which led me on a Google search for other articles on the topic of being able to “see the unseen” (which is at the heart of believing faith). One of the links lead not only to the picture I have used at the top of this blog post, but also to an article that opens with a story that illustrates the nature of “seeing the unseen” through the eyes of a seven-year-old girl. The article was published on April 16, 2018, titled, Seeing the Unseen,” by Lynn M. Miller, minister of families and children for The Church at Liberty Square, and a contributor on Evangel Magazine. She writes:

Several years ago, a friend and I were chatting in a church lobby after morning worship. Her 7-year-old daughter, who had been quietly standing beside her, immediately took her hand as a man walked over to speak with us. The conversation with the man was short and pleasant as we discussed how anointed the service had been that day. He didn’t pay any attention to the girl nor glance in her direction.

As soon as the man walked away, the usually shy girl loudly said, “That is a bad man!”

Her mother and I were stunned, and she quickly chastised her daughter for saying such a thing. Two weeks later, that man was arrested on multiple counts of child molestation!

That was the first time I experienced the spiritual gift of discernment displayed so clearly. Since then, I have seen the “discerning of spirits” (1 Cor. 12:10) manifested through other children as well as through seasoned leaders, and I have learned two truths:

  1. Those who are entrusted with the gift of discernment must be bold enough to speak up in order for it to edify the body of Christ.
  2. It is imperative that those who hear the words of discernment heed the words and take the appropriate action.

The young girl in the church lobby was bold enough to speak up about what she knew to be true. But her mother and I were not willing to “hear” the words of discernment coming from her and take appropriate action. Instead, we corrected the very one who was speaking with the voice of the Father.

Both boldness on the discerner’s part and obedience on the hearers’ part is required for this gift to function in a manner that will help keep holiness as the standard in the church.

What would have occurred if, prior to the “bad man’s” arrest, I had recruited him for children’s ministry? Back in the early ’90s, most churches didn’t require background checks (like we do today) before placing people in ministry. However, even if we had checked this man’s background, it would have come back clear since he had not yet been arrested. But then came his first-time arrest on multiple charges of child abuse! I shudder to think of the outcome of that local church if we had placed that man in children’s ministry.

Seeing how critical the gift of discernment is within the body of Christ created a new course of action for me. I began recruiting individuals for ministry positions in a different way.  Although I did not have the gift of discernment working in my life like the young girl did, I wasn’t ignorant: I began praying for the gift. Until discernment was manifested in my life, each new ministry recruit was introduced to my favorite 7-year-old girl! We also immediately began doing background checks at the sheriff’s office.

Revealing the Hidden

The spiritual gift of discernment is different from the everyday action of discerning a matter. Normal discernment perceives the obscure elements of a situation and finds ways to resolve it. The gift of discernment reveals not only those elements that are obscure, but also those hidden from our natural viewpoint. The gift of discernment allows us to view a matter with supernatural ability and speak with authority concerning it. The God from whom “nothing in all creation is hidden” (Heb. 4:13 NIV) reveals unseen reality through this gift.

The gift of discernment can help the bride of Christ remain pure and ready for His coming. Discernment has been given for this very reason. It helps the church distinguish the demonic from the holy. Let’s consider two examples from the Scriptures.

  • In Matthew 16:21-23, Jesus discerned that Peter had worldly intentions in his heart rather than godly gain. When Peter reprimanded the Son of God for mentioning His forthcoming suffering and death, Jesus’ discernment prompted a stern rebuke. He called Peter “Satan” and instructed him to get out of the way so God’s will could be done.
  • In Acts 16:16-18, as a young girl was proclaiming loudly that Paul and Silas were sent from “the most high God,” Paul turned and spoke directly to the demon who possessed her, commanding it to come out of her. Why did Paul stop a young girl from speaking when she was telling the truth about his mission in her town? Because Paul discerned that the spirit in her was not of God. Her true words in this situation might cause others to believe the false words of fortune-telling.

Encouraging discernment as an active gift in the body of Christ is risky because our cultural norms do not allow us to identify an individual’s struggles as wrong. Yet, when one discerns a person’s motive is detrimental to the church, it is imperative that the person with discernment speak boldly. Then the church must listen and respond in a way that brings holiness into the situation. Doing so will set the church apart from the world and allow those who are speaking the truth (through the gifts of teaching, preaching, and prophecy) to be heard without the confusion of conflicting messages.

Seeing the Heart

Whether it’s being an usher or a greeter, singing on a praise team, or ministering in the nursery, every church needs members who will serve. When searching for the right church members to be released into ministry, the gift of discernment is a huge blessing.

Understanding the difference between discernment and the gift of discerning of spirits is key in ministry placement. For example: When you are speaking to a new church member who wants to become more involved in ministry and they begin describing issues of division they experienced at their previous church, you can use natural discernment to help you understand that this person is going to carry the repercussions (lack of trust, resentment, and misperceptions) of their previous issues into any new ministry placement. Thus, the new member should be placed with care and watched closely for signs of developing division.

However, if while speaking with a new member about their previous church involvement and they are only positive, never mentioning any struggles with their previous congregation, yet you are given a clear inclination that they are going to cause division at your church, that is likely the supernatural gift of discernment at work. Proverbs 6:16-19 reveals how God feels about dissension in the church, while Revelation 2:2 shows the good result of those who have discernment and put it into action.

Activating the Gift

In Matthew 7, Jesus speaks clearly about the gift of discernment. Jesus teaches us to ask the heavenly Father for help in understanding the difference between (a) being judgmental of those who are practicing God’s Word but sometimes struggle to do right and (b) taking action against those who are false prophets.

I can think of no better time for discerning of spirits to be fully functioning within our churches than now. Pray God will activate this gift in your church. Ask the Father to give boldness to those who possess it, no matter their age or status, and receptive hearts to those who hear it and need to act accordingly. (Quote source here.)

I read another article that is about a ten-minute read, and it’s too long to quote in my blog post, but I want to steer you to it in case you might be interested in reading it. This article was published on September 11, 2020, and it is titled, What is Spiritual Warfare and How Do I Do It?” by Steven Molloy, Onsite Groups Director at Crossroads Church, who describes himself as a “Jesus freak. Frequent Office quoter. Cheap beer enthusiast. Dad x five. Married to the best lady on earth.” He opens his article with the following:

Ever felt like no matter what you say or do—something is out to get you?

Yeah, me too. Well, I don’t know if this is comforting or not, but you’re not crazy. Something actually is out to get you.

Whether or not you believe in God, stick with me because this might explain a lot. There’s a concept in the Bible called spiritual warfare. No, it isn’t the horror section on Netflix. Spiritual warfare is something you bump into every day.

  • It’s the feeling of rejection you felt from your wife/girlfriend.
  • It’s grabbing the beer that was one too many.
  • It’s the pull to visit the porn site you promised yourself you’d never use again.
  • It’s the fear of something bad happening that wakes you up night after night.

The good news is that you aren’t helpless against it. With God, you can do something about it.

So, what is spiritual warfare? I know it sounds crazy, but the Bible tells us there is a cosmic war happening, and we are the battlefield.

God wants us to follow Him, but there is an enemy (the devil) who is doing everything he can to make us choose anything else but God. It goes so far as to say the enemy seeks to steal, kill, and destroy us (John 10:10). He’s got more than a few reps in and has a solid playbook.

Now let’s be clear, I’m not saying every bad thing happening in your life is a supernatural attack, but there is an enemy working against us (1 Peter 5:8). So, here’s a simple “Spiritual Warfare 101” to lean into God and the tools he gives us to know how to handle it when the enemy strikes…. (Quote source and the rest of his article are available at this link.)

Now would be a good time to mention that in case there are some folks reading this blog post who think that religious beliefs and this “spiritual warfare” stuff are the stuff of pathology, the American Psychological Association, in an article titled, A Reason to Believe,” by Beth Azar, a contributor, opens her article with the following:

Religion may fill the human need for finding meaning, sparing us from existential angst while also supporting social organization, researchers say.

Harking back to Sigmund Freud, some psychologists have characterized religious beliefs as pathological, seeing religion as a malignant social force that encourages irrational thoughts and ritualistic behaviors.

Of course, psychologists’ doubts—and those of countless others throughout history—haven’t curtailed religion’s powerful hold on humans. Religion has survived and thrived for more than 100,000 years. It exists in every culture, with more than 85 percent of the world’s population embracing some sort of religious belief.

Researchers who study the psychology and neuroscience of religion are helping to explain why such beliefs are so enduring. They’re finding that religion may, in fact, be a byproduct of the way our brains work, growing from cognitive tendencies to seek order from chaos, to anthropomorphize our environment and to believe the world around us was created for our use.

Religion has survived, they surmise, because it helped us form increasingly larger social groups, held together by common beliefs.

“If we’re on the right track with this byproduct idea—and the findings are really getting strong—it’s hard to then build the case that religion is a pathology,” says psychologist Justin Barrett, PhD, director of the cognition, religion and theology project in the Centre for Anthropology and Mind at Oxford University…. (Quote source and the rest of her article are available here.)

Back to the topic at hand. For those of us who adhere to a Christian worldview, spiritual warfare is a very real thing. So let’s take a look at what the Bible has to say about spiritual warfare. GotQuestions.org provides the following information:

There are two primary errors when it comes to spiritual warfare—over-emphasis and under-emphasis. Some blame every sin, every conflict, and every problem on demons that need to be cast out. Others completely ignore the spiritual realm and the fact that the Bible tells us our battle is against spiritual powers. The key to successful spiritual warfare is finding the biblical balance. Jesus sometimes cast demons out of people; other times He healed people with no mention of the demonic. The apostle Paul instructs Christians to wage war against the sin in themselves (Romans 6) and warns us to oppose the schemes of the devil (Ephesians 6:10–18).

Ephesians 6:10–12 says, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” This text teaches some crucial truths: we can only stand strong in the Lord’s power, it is God’s armor that protects us, and our battle is ultimately against spiritual forces of evil in the world.

Ephesians 6:13–18 is a description of the spiritual armor God gives us. We are to stand firm with the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, the sword of the Spirit, and by praying in the Spirit. What do these pieces of spiritual armor represent in spiritual warfare? We are to know the truth, believe the truth, and speak the truth. We are to rest in the fact that we are declared righteous because of Christ’s sacrifice for us. We are to proclaim the gospel no matter how much resistance we face. We are not to waver in our faith, trusting God’s promises no matter how strongly we are attacked. Our ultimate defense is the assurance we have of our salvation, an assurance that no spiritual force can take away. Our offensive weapon is the Word of God, not our own opinions and feelings. And we are to pray in the power and will of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus is our ultimate example of resisting temptation in spiritual warfare. Observe how Jesus handled direct attacks from Satan when He was tempted in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1–11). Each temptation was combatted with the words “it is written.” The Word of the living God is the most powerful weapon against the temptations of the devil. “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11).

A word of caution concerning spiritual warfare is in order. The name of Jesus is not a magic incantation that causes demons to flee from before us. The seven sons of Sceva are an example of what can happen when people presume an authority they have not been given (Acts 19:13–16). Even Michael the archangel did not rebuke Satan in his own power but said, “The Lord rebuke you!” (Jude 1:9). When we start talking to the devil, we run the risk of being led astray as Eve was (Genesis 3:1–7). Our focus should be on God, not demons; we speak to Him, not them.

In summary, what are the keys to success in spiritual warfare? We rely on God’s power, not our own. We put on the whole armor of God. We draw on the power of Scripture—the Word of God is the Spirit’s sword. We pray in perseverance and holiness, making our appeal to God. We stand firm (Ephesians 6:13–14); we submit to God; we resist the devil’s work (James 4:7), knowing that the Lord of hosts is our protector. “Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken” (Psalm 62:2). (Quote source here.)

I’ll end this post with the words found in Hebrews 11: 1-3, 6: Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible…. And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists…

And that he rewards those . . .

Who earnestly . . .

Seek him . . . .

YouTube Video: “What Faith Can Do” by Kutless:

Photo #1 credit here
Photo #2 credit here

Discerning the Times

Merriam-Webster defines discernment as “the quality of being able to grasp and comprehend what is obscure; skill in discerning; an act of perceiving or discerning something” (quote source here).

2020 has certainly been an interesting year so far–a year unlike any other in recent history thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic and everything else that has come from it. While pandemics are nothing new in the history of the World (see this link for the 20 top pandemics in history), most of us have never experienced a pandemic on the level of this particular pandemic known as Coronavirus or Covid-19.

And, in a few short days, another presidential election is taking place here in the USA, and it is one of the most fiercely contentious elections of our time, capable of fracturing friendships, relationships (social, church, familial, and work/business related), and every other social unit in our society. As volatile as it has been you might even be convinced that Armageddon (and no, not the 1998 movie starring Bruce Willis) is right around the corner.

However, in the midst of all of this “stuff” that 2020 has thrown our way, the good news is this: Stop watching the news on TV (I can almost guarantee that you’ll start feeling better), and wear a mask when around others at a close distance (whether you believe wearing a mask helps or not), and things will start looking brighter… I say that tongue in cheek as recently I went without a TV for almost three weeks after I moved from a hotel room that supplied a 42″ wall mounted TV in the room to an unfurnished apartment where I needed to buy my own TV, and it took almost three weeks before I got to the point where I bought a small 32″ flatscreen TV. And during those “no TV” three weeks I discovered a tranquility of sorts that I had not felt in a long time because I was no longer getting a daily dose of “news” from the TV.

The title of this post (it is not meant to sound ominous) has more to do with discerning the times in our own personal lives then in world events, so scratch off “Armageddon” as the main theme. It’s hard enough discerning our own place and time in history without taking it to a global level. What made me think about it is due to how suddenly my life changed back at the beginning of October when I found this apartment to rent after six years of hotel room living while trying to find an affordable income based senior apartment in a senior apartment complex. None ever opened up to me in all that time, and when I decided in late September that I was done searching for it, I found this apartment (not in a senior complex) practically “overnight.” I’m still shocked at just how fast it happened. I’m very happy about it, too. However, it has been an adjustment going from living in a hotel room to living back in an apartment after six plus years.

It also reminds me of something stated in James 4:13-14:

Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.

None of us knows what tomorrow will bring, even with all of our plans and assumptions. As I look back on my six years of hotel room living that I never thought would last so long, I’ve lost count of the number of times I prayed for God to open another door and provide me with an apartment in an income-based senior apartment complex, but it never happened. However, I never had a clue that I would end up finding an apartment where I am now living as it seemed out of the realm of possibility. It wasn’t even on my radar screen, but it feels exactly like this is where I am supposed to live for now. And after six very long years of looking, suddenly this opportunity opened up to me.

I’ve written previous blog posts on the topic of the bigger picture that is always going on all around us on a daily basis, and in God’s economy that “bigger picture” that He sees and orchestrates that we do not see is always at work (see Isaiah 55:8-9). He sees the entire tapestry of history in the making, and we are all pieces in it but we cannot see the whole picture.

In my last blog post published 12 days ago titled, Never Too Late,” in an article titled, God’s Waiting Room,” by Dr. Duane Durst, he stated, “Waiting on God requires us to put aside our way of doing things and trust His timing and plan.” While God is always working on the “bigger picture,” He is also always working on us individually and especially during prolonged times of waiting.

As I look back on my six years of hotel room living and even previous to that going back to when I lost my last job in my career field over 11 years ago that started me down this path I have taken for the past dozen years, I can look back on that time and see some major changes in my life that evolved over time–positive changes–and my whole world opened up in ways I never would have experienced or understood had my life kept going down the “status quo” career path it had been taking. I became aware of a lot of things going on in our society and around the world that I never would have known had it not been for these past 11 plus years. And in the process I’ve learned a lot about myself that has widened my world and given me some life experiences I never would have had, and yes, that includes hotel living. You’d be amazed at how many people in our society have no other housing option other then living in hotel rooms.

In an article titled, 5 Ways God Shapes You,” by Dr. Saundra Dalton, a Board Certified internal medicine physician, she writes:

Clay is not easy to work with. One day my son returned from school with a white substance on his clothes. When I asked about it he replied, “Sorry mom, my clay was too wet.” His class was attempting to make cups as gifts, but someone put too much water in the clay mixture. Instead of a firm sturdy, pliable clay that could molded, what they had to work with was a sticky, gooey, weak mixture that refused to conform to the desired shape.

Before clay can be put upon the wheel, it has to be properly prepared. It has to be supple enough to adapt to change, yet firm enough to not collapse under pressure. Just like clay, before God can begin remaking and changing us, there are some preparations that have to occur.

“Then I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was making something at the wheel. Yet the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter; so he made it again into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to make it” (Jer. 18:3-4).

God sent Jeremiah down to the potter’s house to reveal more of Himself in a very tangible way. God still uses life as a classroom, guiding us into His truths. Every event, hardship, failure, sin, and success is a part of our personalized lesson plan. Learning the lesson will require being able to see the situation through God’s eyes. His ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are not our thoughts (Isaiah 58:8). Seeing life through a heavenly lens puts it in a new perspective. Spending time in His presence can open the door to God revealing to you what type of vessel He wants to make you into. Once you get a glimpse of God’s vision for your life, you have to then be willing to go through His process for change. No vessel is so flawed that it cannot be made new. Each can be reworked into a useful vessel in the hands of the Potter.

The 5 Stages of Godly Change

Broken

Brokenness is a prerequisite for a life change. It is a state of complete yielding to doing things God’s way. You no longer desire for there to be any distance between you and God. You can feel the disconnection that comes from unconfessed sin in your life. Your desire is to turn away from whatever has marred you. You want nothing more than to be restored. I love how the Scripture states it “marred in the hand of the potter.” Even when you mess up the worst you can imagine, He still has not left you alone. Your life and destiny were always in the palm of His hands.

Crushed

Ironically, the journey to being remade, restored and renewed starts with being crushed. The NLT states, “But the jar he was making did not turn out as he had hoped, so he crushed it into a lump of clay again and started over.” Isaiah 53:5 (NLT) says, “He was crushed for our sins.” Jesus shows us that being crushed is not a sign of defeat, but a part of God’s plan for redemption. Accept God’s invitation to take all past sins to the cross, nail them there and leave them. Then allow him to place you on the potter’s wheel.

Molded

Once reduced to the point of wanting nothing more than the potter’s touch, you are ready to be molded. You have come to the end of yourself and what you feel you can do to change your situation. You now know that only His touch can mend the broken and crushed places in your life. “Yet you, LORD, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.” (Isaiah 64:8) He knows the right amount of pressure to apply to your life and when to loosen His grasp, as He molds you into a useable vessel.

Refined

Once your new characteristics begin to take form, you are moved into a season of intense heat. God’s loving fire comes to strengthen you leading to permanent change. This fire may not feel loving during the process, but as impurities are pushed out you are drawn closer and closer to God. “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) It is during this stage that God adorns you with the glaze of His glory, and you become a living reflection of Christ.

Filled

Once taken off the potter’s wheel, you are never alone. Rather than simply sending you off to fulfill your purpose, the potter deposits a part of Himself inside of you. “Be filled with the Spirit.” (Ephesians 5:18) He fills you with Living Water so that you may pour out His love and truth into the lives of others. It is not something that you can do on your own, but is a gift from the potter. It is a sign that He is ready for you to be put into service. It does not suggest that you have reached perfection, but rather that you are now useable for the purpose for which He created you. He has never been interested in perfect vessels, only usable vessels. Do not be afraid of failure. If you become marred, He can make you over again. (Quote source here.)

While my living situation dramatically and totally changed three weeks ago, I still take life one day at a time. There are new people to meet and encounter, and new things to learn, and I’m looking forward to seeing what each new day brings in my new surroundings.

I’ll end this post with the words from Proverbs 3:5-6 that have played a key role in my life (and they still do, too): Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him…

And He . . .

Shall direct . . .

Your paths . . . .

YouTube Video: “Canvas and Clay (Live)” by Pat Barrett ft. Ben Smith:

Photo #1 credit here
Photo #2 credit here

Satanic Rip-Off

I know, I know . . . you have visions of a devil in a red suit with a pitch fork, right? Now I know Halloween is just around the corner, but that’s not why I decided to write a post with this title. Actually, the title comes from a devotion I just read by Dr. Charles Swindoll titled, “Satanic Rip-Off” and I will get to it in a few minutes. But first I want to tell you something . . . .

Okay, are you listening?

A few days ago I wrote a blog post titled, That Dreaded ‘D’ Word, and used a couple of phrases that I had to chew on and swallow myself tonight. The blog post was on the topic of discipline (you can read it by clicking on this link) and included a description of how cows were quietly led onto a ramp at a slaughterhouse and treated with care all the way until the end when the cow didn’t even know what hit it right between the eyes and it was instantly transformed from livestock to meat. I used two phrases in that post that became a reality for me tonight: (1) that we need to “wake up and smell the coffee,” and (2) to not end up like the cows (in other words, no “mooing” allowed).

So, without further ado, let’s start off with the devotion from Dr. Charles Swindoll:

Satanic Rip-Off

I Peter 5:8-9

A basketball fan at the Portland airport awaited the arrival of the Trailblazers following a victory over the Lakers and attempted to scalp a couple of tickets to the nest game. As the shyster wormed through the crowd, he located a well-dressed man who listened to his offer.

“How much?” asked the gentleman.

“One hundred fifty bucks,” the scalper replied under his breath.

“Do you realize you’re talking to a plainclothes officer of the law?” the man asked. “I’m going to turn you in, fella.”

Suddenly the seller began to backpedal. He talked about how large a family he had . . . how much they needed him . . . how he’d never do it again.

“Just hand over the tickets and we’ll call it even,” said the well-dressed man. “And I’d better never catch you here again!”

But the worst was yet to come. The man was no officer at all. Just a quick-thinking guy who used a little ingenuity to rip off two choice seats to the next playoff game (as he anonymously admitted in the local newspaper several days later).

Satan’s strategy is just as ingenious and effective. For example, he hears what we hear from the pulpit on Sunday morning, and in the process he plans his approach. He baits the rip-off trap, then sets it up with just the right hair trigger:

~An argument in the car after church over where to go for dinner.
~Preoccupation with some worrisome problem during the message.
~A personality conflict with another church member.

Silently Satan prowls around, camouflaged in the garb of our physical habits and our mental laziness, seeking to devour. Then, at the precise moment when it will have it’s greatest impact, he snatches away the very truth we need the most.

Remember that next Sunday morning. Prepare your heart and mind before the service, girding yourself with the armor of God.

Don’t let Satan rip you off.

In case you question the effectiveness of Satan’s strategy,
think back just two or three weeks. Maybe even one will do.
Do you remember the sermon title? How about the outline?
Do you recall a couple of applicable principles?
You see, his plan is working brilliantly.

Source: Day by Day by Dr. Charles Swindoll, p. 115
Word Publishing, Thomas Nelson, 2000

You don’t even have to wait until next Sunday to prepare yourself for Satan’s onslaught. He’s prowling every single moment of every single day . . . .

At this point, before I tell you my story, I want to quote a paragraph from Dr. Russell Moores book titled, Tempted and Tried: Temptation and the Triumph of Christ,” (Crossway, 2011), at the end of a chapter titled, “Desert Reign,” which fits right in with this discussion:

“The satanic powers are watching you. They’re peering into your life to see what catches your attention, what puffs up your ego. They’re evaluating what kind of Babylon you want to build for yourself, and they’ll make sure you get it. Satan is as ambitious for your goals as you are, maybe more so. He’ll give you the power you want, the glory you crave, as long as you will fall down and obtain it his way. The powers don’t care if we are respected or influential or moral or conservative, as long as we’d rather be magnified then crucified. Satan doesn’t mind if our values are right side up, so long as our crosses are upside-down” (p. 161).

Now that paragraph should give us all pause for thought. As long as what we want and having things go our way is more important than finding out what Jesus wants for us and living His way, we are traveling the same path as those cows.

Okay, it’s “true confessions” time right now. (Don’t you just hate that–having to admit when you’ve really screwed up?) Well, I screwed up . . . big time!!! And I didn’t even realize it until tonight (and it’s midnight as I am writing this blog post). I discovered it when my crying turned into “mooing” earlier tonight.

I’m totally frustrated, folks. If you’ve been reading my blog posts you know I’ve been unemployed for three and a half years now with no end in sight. And, you know that at the end of August I took a little trip back to Houston–the city where I lost my job three and a half years ago. AND . . . you know that in a totally unexpected circumstance I met a man I’ve named “Red” (because I don’t know his real name and he has auburn hair). AND . . . I wrote several blog posts about him (which should have sent off alarm bells much earlier then it did considering my conversation with him maybe lasted all of ten minutes). Now, when I was talking with him I didn’t give it a lot of thought as I talk with a lot of folks, women and men, that I meet when I’m out and about and this was really no different. However, two days later when I was in Galveston I woke up and he was jammed in my thoughts (I didn’t expect that at all) and I started building a scenario out of it . . . you know . . . “What if?” (Well, I did write a little blog post about that just five days ago–see Expect the Unexpectednow didn’t I???) Do you see where this is going?

Now I know I’m enormously frustrated from being unemployed for so long, and the financial ramifications from being unemployed this long are enormous to say the least, so–to put it mildly–I was primed and ready to escape into some “fantasy” to make the ugly reality go away for a while. And “Red” did that for me (well, he has no idea he did that for me but I do).

Now, it’s not that he wasn’t a nice guy (he was) with the most beautiful blue eyes I’ve ever seen on a man (they were) and he did pull at my heartstrings like no man has in years and years, but folks, the conversation maybe lasted all of ten minutes!!! And I live in Florida and he lives in Louisiana!!! And we don’t even know each other’s name or any contact info!!! HELLO!!! Earth to Sara . . . .

And the reality of it all hit me tonight. I got caught up in a fantasy because I am, well, so incredibly sick of reality. I’ve had a huge dose of “Reality 101 for four years now (ever since I landed in Houston the first time which has left me unemployed for the past three and a half years with all of the ensuing ramifications that come from being unemployed long term). And just as that quote from Dr. Moore’s book stated, “The satanic powers are watching you. They’re peering into your life to see what catches your attention . . . .” And “Red” definitely caught my attention.

Now I have no idea why God has allowed this period of unemployment to last so incredibly long with still no end in sight (guess I’m still learning some hard lessons), and He heard from me about it at great length this evening (and that’s when I discovered the crying was turning into “mooing”). I wanted out of my current “situation” NOW even if I had to escape into a fantasy for a while. And escape I did . . . but it didn’t change my reality. It just made me very unhappy because it was all so incredibly futile.

So I’ve repented in sackcloth and ashes . . . . (and the “mooing” has stopped).

Because I believe God is sovereign and that He can do anything, even the miraculous (which He does all the time, we just don’t notice it half the time), if He wants me to meet “Red” again at some future point in time, that’s His business. But right now He wants me to get my head out of the clouds and keep my eyes focused on Him and leave the future in His hands.

So I’m taking my hands off and giving my heart back to Him . . . .

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths straight.

Do not be wise in your own eyes;
fear the Lord and shun evil.
This will bring health to your body
and nourishment to your bones.
~Prov. 3:5-8

YouTube Video: “What A Fool Believes” (1979) by the Doobie Brothers:

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