There are seriously more than 7 ways to kick satan’s butt, and I know I don’t often blog about him at all, but I’m feeling led, so here we go.
(know that if your marriage is hard, one of the best ways to boot satan is to join our Strength & Dignity eCourse – I kept it open for another week – hang with me to the end of the post and you can sign up there)
It’s like I woke up one morning a few weeks ago, and thought, “Bend over, bad guy.” I was so DONE with him messing with my family, my friends, our team, our facilitators…
I got a text from a friend of mine a few nights ago. Her marriage is coming out of a mess, and for two days, she’d approached her husband for sex… and he rejected her. He hadn’t even been speaking to her much – for nearly a year. She’s been working on following God, however, and she’s been changing. This night, he asked her to come upstairs. She was worried about him asking for a divorce.
The text conversation went like this:
He asked me to come upstairs.
NICE. Go have fun! 🙂
Might be divorce papers…
I asked if he was going to be nice and he said,
“guess you won’t know unless you come up here…???”
We’ll see. Should I really jump at his beck and call?
After he flat out rejected me so long?
Does this make me weak?
This is self-respecting?
Tell satan to go away. 🙂 Just 2 nights ago,
you were looking for the same thing – but from him…
Seriously…2 nights in a row… Go. Upstairs.
I shouldn’t play hard to get?
Tell satan to scram. and NO!!
Be clear. One sentence.
Receive what he’s offering…
And have an awesome time.
And yes, they made love.
So from this little dialogue we can learn a few things…
First, I don’t listen to directions very well. Second, satan is out to destroy our families – and the way he operates is evident in the discussion. In Western cultures, the battlefield between good and evil occurs in our minds…
So today, because I’ve been in ministry over a decade and have the scars to prove it, I’m going to shed some light on a topic that seems to either be ignored, or over-emphasized in the Christian culture.
I’m going to talk about evil. And some of the schemes of the devil.
If you don’t believe he is real, you might as well stop following me. Not kidding. I won’t be able to help you with your relationships unless you understand, acknowledge, and get some schooling on how to handle him.
I hate him.
I think that’s probably okay.
Here’s what the Word says about him in 1 Peter 5:8:
7 Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. 8 Be sober-minded and alert. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in your faith and in the knowledge that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering.…
And in this day and age, much of our suffering here in the Western world occurs within our relationships:
- Our relationship with God
- Our relationship with ourselves
- Our relationships with other believers
- Our relationships with those in the world
I’m not saying we don’t suffer in other ways, like health, finances, etc., but compared to the rest of the world, most of us have it pretty good. After talking frankly over the last year with a number of the women on our team, the common comment was, “Why isn’t anyone talking about this? Why is this the first I’m hearing about it??” That’s my fault. I didn’t know what I didn’t know.
I’ll tell you, when I started this ministry in 2005, it was only a few months in I was reeling from the onslaught. The numbers are not surprising, according to James Emery White, churches (and I’d assume ministries) fail at the same rate as businesses, which is about 40% within the first year, 80% in the first five years, and of the remaining 20%, 80% of them won’t hit the 10 year mark.
I looked for help.
I asked for help.
I didn’t get much.
The consensus from the people I asked was simply this: “Satan is formidable, yes, but we don’t pay much attention to him. You really just need to focus on the work God’s given you to do…”
Okay, so when I’m feeling discouraged to the point of not knowing why I quit my job and signed up for this, that comment is UBER NOT HELPFUL. If I COULD be focused on that at the moment, I seriously wouldn’t be discouraged.
There’s a myth in the Christian culture that spills over to ministry work – I’m on God’s team now, so my life looks like non-stop joy! The problem with that line of thought is simply this: we STILL suffer, we STILL get discouraged, even if we HAVE joy. And it takes a while to deeply have joy WHILE we have all that other stuff going on.
Something else was happening that I literally didn’t know what to do with. I started having what can only be described as “pit dwelling moments” that sometimes lasted for a few days. I’d had post partum depression before – been suicidal, actually – this was different.
Everything felt hard. Impossible.
I felt worthless.
Discouraged beyond belief.
When the suicidal thoughts became part of this pit experience, I became seriously afraid. I didn’t know what was happening to me or how to stop it. And I couldn’t find anyone to help me. People closest to me seemed to instigate the slide into the pit by misunderstanding or ascribing motives to me that were not true.
I would do something loving and it literally got twisted into something ugly. Heinous, even.
These things devastated me. I wondered how I could continue in ministry when those closest to me thought such horrible things about me. What I didn’t know at the time was that their thoughts weren’t really from them – but the enemy.
I lost several friends who believed things that weren’t true.
And finally, through the help of Erin Campbell Ministries, I learned what I was dealing with.
It wasn’t people.
It was satan.
They helped me learn – and I went through some prayer that set me free completely from my pit.
Another ministry, Open Heaven, provided some training.
And I started to get free from other things.
So while I don’t consider myself an expert, I have had a number of life-changing experiences getting set free from satan’s chains.
He will. not. destroy. me.
And a number of my closest friends have found freedom as well.
Someone needs to just acknowledge that following God puts a bulls-eye on your chest – one God allows, because He is going to grow us if we are going forward for Him. If we are teachers, we are held to a higher standard. We should expect more difficulties when we sign up for ministry – because we are signing up for growth as a part of the deal.
The growth is often done through the action of the enemy.
It can be terrifying.
Can I normalize this for us all, however? I have talked with many leaders of ministries. Those who are vulnerable and honest all say the same thing – there are times they wondered if they would live.
For those of you struggling with this, know you aren’t alone:
Jennifer LeClaire of Charisma News is also seriously concerned about the growing trend of pastoral suicide. She writes:
“Why the sudden rash of pastors committing suicide? Suicide is not a new problem among clergy, but three known suicides in less than two months begs a deeper look at the issue.
There is no lack of statistics about pastors and depression, burnout, health, low pay, spirituality, relationships and longevity—and none of them are good. According to the Schaeffer Institute, 70 percent of pastors constantly fight depression, and 71 percent are burned out. Meanwhile, 72 percent of pastors say they only study the Bible when they are preparing for sermons; 80 percent believe pastoral ministry has negatively affected their families; and 70 percent say they don’t have a close friend.”
Leadership in and of itself is lonely. When you are struggling, you can only be so transparent with those you lead – otherwise they lose respect for you, unless their identity is primarily wrapped up in Jesus Christ.
Leadership in ministry can be even lonelier, but if we can find other leaders as friends (a good solid 3-4 people – usually outside of our organization) we can more easily make it. I literally do not know of even one ministry leader whose original team is still intact. And through the tears and lessons learned by many, I’ve become wiser, stronger, and I am in for the long haul – I’m not going anywhere unless He tells me to do so.
I can’t tell you how excited I was when I read this in 2 Corinthians 1:8:
We do not want you to be unaware, brothers, about the hardships we encountered in the province of Asia. We were under a burden far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life.
Knowing full well that some of you are going to walk away from following me because of the raw and open information above, I’m doing what I feel called to do. I’m going to share with you what I’ve learned about dealing with satan.
And know I no longer fight discouragement to the point of death. I’ve been set free from that. 🙂
If you feel called by God to lead, whether it is in your family, or in ministry, it’s you I’m writing for – and these things apply whether you are discipling kids, part of a church, leading classes for us, or running your own ministry. I wish I would have known these things about ten years ago. I didn’t, and that’s okay.
- There are lies we believe when we are young that impact us later. When we are little, events happen that satan twists into lies that we believe. One of my kids, at age 3, felt like he was “whispered to” that I no longer loved him because I couldn’t pick him up when I was 9 months pregnant. I did everything “right” as a mom in that moment, squatted down, made eye contact, gave him a hug, told him I couldn’t wait to carry him again after the baby was born, empathized and validated, explained why I couldn’t… and he was much older when we realized what had happened. We ALL have lies we believe that we filter our current reality through – Christ offers us freedom from them, and that process is worth going through.
- We cannot trust our emotions – especially if they are negative about the motives of other people. I’m not exactly sure how it works, but satan can plant lies in our heads, and whisper things to us that distorts whatever is true, noble, right, pure, admirable, etc. I began to look at my negative feelings, my hurts, my anger, as CUES to figuring out what I didn’t know – and being suspect of my own interpretations, rather than being suspect of other people. This gives me an edge that helps me listen to God’s truth instead of mine or satan’s lies.
- We cannot trust our own thoughts – especially if they are blaming, accusatory, or judgmental about other people. These thoughts are useful to the enemy – and if we give voice to them, we are damaging ourselves and other believers. STOP. Don’t let them loose. Turn them over immediately to Jesus Christ for Him to take from you. Giving voice to these thoughts is sin – we breathe life into the enemy’s schemes. One of his roles is “the accuser.” If we are blaming or judgmental, or making accusations about someone’s motives, we are being useful to satan.
- He knows us well – and is good at targeting our weak spots. He can pick the ONE area where we are weak and use that to twist the knife. If you struggle with fear about one of your kids, for example, you’ll worry that something is going to happen to them – maybe even to the point of becoming controlling or stressed out.
- He hits when we’re preparing to do something “big” for God. He wants us to give up, to fail, so he tries to wear us out, throws up obstacles, starts dissension or disunity. He tries to steal our joy in serving by making it difficult. Sometimes he hits in our personal life, using the people closest to us to create conflict, planting thoughts in both our heads, to distract us from the work God is about to do.
- He hits AFTER we’ve had a breakthrough or had a “mountain-top” experience. After these, we feel comfortable, safe, and we let our guard down. We often are surprised by this action – and he catches us unawares. I’ve seen it over and over again – there’s a big thing that we’ve been through or done, and the next thing we know, the assault is on and we’re struggling to remember what God did.
- His goal is destruction – and he sometimes masquerades as an angel of light to lead us astray. He will do whatever he can to destroy our families, our marriages, our relationships, our ministries, our reputations, our physical health, our financial stability, the list goes on and on. The Bible tells us to “test the spirits” because the enemy can use the Word to lead us astray.
But there is GOOD NEWS, too:
- He can be overcome – if we learn to take our thoughts captive, and tame every thought to the Word and Jesus Christ – if we resist the devil, he will flee.
- We have the authority to tell him to buzz off – and he has to go. In the name and by the blood of Jesus Christ, we have been given the authority to make him leave.
- We can choose to put a “pause” into our dialogues before reacting – this gives us time to filter our thoughts through Philippians 4:8.
- We can ask God to fill us daily with His Holy Spirit – this will give us some ammunition in having NO SPACE for the enemy.
- We can obey God – in the smallest of things, even – and this obedience prevents satan from getting a foothold. We open doors for him to mess with us when we disobey God.
- We can know the Word – and then we have the means to obey God. I hated not knowing I was sinning because I didn’t know the Bible. While I don’t claim to know everything, and I still sin and so will you, it is easier to obey God when we know the Word, which equips us to fight the enemy.
- We choose good influences, good music, good dialogue, good relationships, and we grow the Spirit within us – and that helps us fight the enemy. Filling our minds with trash is not helpful.
I’m done now. I could go on, I suppose, but I’m done. It’s my hope nothing glorifies that other guy, and some of this helps you in the work God has YOU doing.
What do you think? What would you add, based on your experiences?
Can’t wait to visit in the comments today.
Love to you,
Here’s a few more articles you might find interesting:
Struggling with Life Balance? (aka, “How’d we get in THIS mess?”) *If you are chauffeuring kids everywhere all the times, you’ll want to check this out!
EXTENSION: If you are wondering what to do when nothing else has helped, our Strength & Dignity eCourse can help. It’s an ongoing community, which starts after 5 sessions via email. Sign up here. We only open it up twice a year, and it closes until January on October 14th, at midnight. Sign up by FRIDAY NOON!! 🙂