Well, hello my friends! I hope everyone had a wonderful New Year celebration!
2023…. Yikes! I don’t know about you, but when I was a kid playing outside in the summer, Christmas seemed as though it was 5 years away…. Now 5 years seem like 5 months! Time is flying by!!
I am super excited about 2023 though, because I finally know that I am doing the very thing that I know God has asked me to do… There is honestly no better place to be in life than in the center of God’s plan. I’m not saying that there won’t be obstacles, that is expected… But I am fired up and so blessed to have you on this journey with me.
Okay….. SSSOOOOO…. Today we are talking about What You THINK About Satan.
As with the previous episode, my goal is simply to help you identify your thoughts about Satan… Demons… so you can determine whether or not those thoughts are serving you in your life.
When I researched this topic, I was surprised to find the statistics that indicate how many people do not believe Satan exists. Many of them, Christians!
In one Barna Research Group Survey, the question was posed: Do you believe that Satan “is not a living being but is a symbol of evil.”
Four out of ten Christians (40%) strongly agreed.
An additional two out of ten Christians (19%) said they “agree somewhat” with that perspective.
A minority of Christians indicated that they believe Satan is real by disagreeing with the statement:
one-quarter (26%) disagreed strongly and
about one-tenth (9%) disagreed somewhat.
The remaining 8% were not sure what they believe about the existence of Satan.
I find this surprising because Scripture has so much to say about Satan and his role on this earth.
1 John 5:19 says ‘the whole world is under the control of the evil one.”
How many times did Satan tempt Jesus?
In Matthew 4:8-9, we observe a conversation between Satan and Jesus, where in his last and most grand effort to tempt Jesus, Scripture tells us, “Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of this world and their splendor. “All of this I will give to you…” Let’s pause there… This entirely supports the passage in 1 John we just looked at that said, ‘the whole world is under the control of the evil one.”
His offer to ‘give it all to Him’ indicates that it is his to give!
His price tag was high…. “All of this I will give to you…. IF YOU WILL BOW DOWN AND WORSHIP ME.”
This is where we find Satan’s true motive. He thinks he has Jesus right where he wants Him… He knows Jesus is weak and tired from fasting for 40 days and 40 nights… WORSHIP ME!!! He is willing to exchange all the kingdoms of this world just to have Jesus bow down and worship him.
These are only two references of many references to Satan in Scripture…. Yet I do not want to make any assumptions here, so I am going to pause again, and ask you … YOU specifically…. DO YOU believe that Satan exists?
Is Satan real?
As this audience grows, and if the Barna survey is representative of the general population, it would stand to reason that only 25 – 30% of those listening, actually believe that it is true.
If that is you, please know I am not trying to convince you otherwise. Rather my role is to help you examine your thoughts. Why do you choose to think that? Is it perhaps that you would prefer to not think about the evil one, so it is easier to believe that he does not exist, or is it something else?
Here is why I ask… If he is real, and I personally do believe he is ….
The first step in overcoming the evil one is acknowledging his existence.
If he IS real, and there IS a very real spiritual battle all around us, my concern is that you will be left defenseless against him. He would LOVE for us to not believe he is real!
So please know my expressing my own belief is no way a judgment on others … Rather, it comes from a place of love and concern for you.
For the remainder of our time together today, I am going to work on the assumption that if you are still listening, you also agree that Satan.. The devil.. The prince of darkness, whatever you refer to him as, is real and wreaking havoc in this world.
So the question is….
Where is he wreaking havoc in your life?
While I don’t think anyone can definitively say HOW he gains access to our lives, he certainly does! There are plenty of Scripture references that demonstrate this. One of the most obvious ones is the story of Job… The fact that Satan can bring on physical illness…
Job 2:7 says that he infected Job with incurable boils from the sole of his feet to the top of his head.
He was able to remove all of Job’s prosperity… One day, many of Job’s animals were stolen… Then a fire ripped through and killed all of his servants and the remaining animals.
Satan was even remove Job’s family! A storm came through that knocked down one of Job’s sons’ houses.. All of Job’s children were in the house and they all perished.
If this is what Satan is capable of, then we would do best to be on the lookout for where he is actively interfering in our own lives.
Here’s the thing….. If Satan were to show up in obvious ways, we would be so well prepared and equipped to reject him immediately… A knock on the door, He announces himself and we respond, “Nope… You are not welcome here… Not today… Not my house! Find someone else.
Wouldn’t it be great if that is how it worked?
He is evil… and evil plots and schemes in the dark silence. We often don’t see it until the damage is done, and sadly…. for so many, they never see it. They don’t even recognize it as evil.
His native language, Scripture tells us, the language of lies. He has not one tidbit of truth in him. He can never be content to leave you alone if you are walking strong with the Lord!
He only seeks to destroy you.
But HE knows he can’t be obvious, so how does he show up?
- Creating havoc in your emotional world – I have to tell you, that as I have worked to prepare this podcast, I have FELT IT…. And I have had to deliberately remind myself what was happening. For example, last night… I suddenly had this awful feeling of sadness… Have you ever thought about why we call them ‘feelings’ …I would suggest it because we actually FEEL it in our bodies!
It took me a couple of hours of feeling that heaviness until I realized what was happening! … Friends… God’s Word is TRUE …. James 4:7 says, “Submit yourselves then, to God. RESIST the devil and he will flee from you.’
That is what I did! I prayed, I spoke out loud to Satan, that through the blood of Jesus, he needed to GET OUT! Out of my home, out of my head, and don’t even get near my heart, because I am armed and dangerous. I am a child of the King, and His power shows up in my weakness!!
- How about creating discord in your family… In your marriage?
- How about when he plants the seeds of doubt that God really cares about you, as you struggle with health issues… or finances?
- How about the seeds of doubt that you married the wrong person?
- Or the temptation to flirt with someone who is married?
These things are REAL, and ALL of these things take our mind in different directions, which of course, take our mind off of Jesus.
Now I am going to go a little sideways on blaming Satan for everything… WE TOO, are capable of creating these things, aren’t we?? We are not off the hook.
Very often these thoughts are our own! If we are not taking our thoughts captive to what we know to be true, we are capable of coming up with anything in our minds!!
Having been in real estate for so many years, I learned to just laugh when I would be showing homes to potential buyers…. Having NOTHING to do with the home itself… Nothing material to whether they would purchase it or not, buyers would come up with the craziest stories about the sellers…. WHOM THEY KNEW NOTHING ABOUT! 99% of the time, I knew nothing about the sellers!!
And I am not talking about the things that might affect the offer they make… The home is vacant, so the seller must be desperate… no one but the seller knows that. Money may not even be an issue… But I am not even talking about that…
I am talking about the buyer making up stories about the seller’s childhood because of the clutter… Or how the home must not be well cared for because of the old beater in the garage…. That car might be the sellers… It could a family members…. Who cares? It has nothing to do with the home!
My point is, our brains not only love to come up with stories, our brains also like to be right, so our brains look for supporting evidence! “See, I TOLD you it wasn’t well cared for! Look at this scratch in the granite!”
Knowing that our minds can create all kind of stories, we can literally fill our own lives with stress, fear, and discord based on nothing but what we have come up with… with ZERO evidence to support it!
Your husband has been working late a lot…. He must be having an affair
Your daughter hasn’t called you in a week, since she went back to college… Something must be wrong!
On a side note, I just love the saying, “See! I told you that worrying works, because 99% of what I worry about never happens!”
It might seem like I have gone down a bunny trail here, so allow me to pull it all together….
When we spend our thought life in these patterns, Satan doesn’t even have to get involved… We are actually doing his work FOR him.
Just like when we fill our schedules so chock full, with albeit sometimes worthwhile things, that we fall into bed night after night and realize that weeks… maybe even months, have gone by since we just sat with Jesus, read our Bible, intentionally prayed over our concerns and the concerns of others…. Let alone express our gratitude for all of our blessings.
Why is it that ‘busy’ has become some twisted badge of honor in our culture?
Yet….. If we are honest with ourselves, we all do leave some margin in our lives for a brain break… How are you using that time?
Social media…. THAT will certainly help you grow deeper, spiritually… Said no one ever!
Binge watching on Netflix?
Please know, I am not saying that there is anything inherently wrong with some no-brainer time, but if we are not using some of that time to intentionally spend time with Jesus, we are leaving ourselves wide open to our own personal discontent or worse, for the enemy to sneak in and whisper those lies into our minds while our guard is down.
What LIES have you allowed Satan to tell you?
What have you begun to believe about yourself that maybe on the surface, doesn’t seem like a big deal…but instead, it’s a small thing that is always in the background.
It might seem like a little thing right now, but as time goes on those neural pathways that we talked about in a previous episode, begin to take hold… creating those well worn tapes that begin to wear you down
- Are you believing that you will never that special person?
- Are you believing that because you have been hurt so many times, it is not worth taking the risk?
- Do you believe that if people knew the real you, they would abandon you?
- Are you buying into the lie called ‘shame’, that you cannot be forgiven, even by God?
As I was researching and developing my podcast and my Christian coaching business, a book came out by Jennie Allen. Some of you may be familiar with her. She is a teacher, speaker and author… She is just adorable!
Jennie has been deeply rooted in her faith for a very long time. Her ministry has been her vocation for years.
While I will give a summary of her story, I am sure I will not do it justice. If you are interested, I highly recommend her book, Get Out Of Your Head, or you can look her up on YouTube, as there are several interviews where she explains her journey.
Jennie was scheduled to speak in her hometown, Little Rock. As she made her way through the foyer, a woman in the crowd came toward her, specifically seeking her out. As she came close, the woman looked Jennie in the eyes and said, “We are coming for you. You need to quit talking about us… we are coming for you.” Stunned and confused, Jennie asked her for clarification…. The woman just repeated herself, so Jennie excused herself…. notified someone in security of the exchange and went into the sanctuary, where she was preparing to speak.
As Jennie began her message in this mega church, she suddenly heard the shrill screams of someone out in the foyer. She knew exactly who it was!
Many would chalk this up to what I believe is an overused and over-broad term, mental illness… There was certainly some truth to that, because if Satan has so infiltrated someone’s mind, they are indeed ill!
But if anyone had any doubt in this case…. what happened next, sealed the deal in terms of the source of this woman’s behavior!
While this woman was screaming at the top of her lungs in the foyer…. the power went out. All of it.
All of the lights… The entire sound system… The large stage screens.
This was a well staffed, mega church with all kind of back up systems in place… And it was a sunny day!!
She said everyone just sat there in silence… Listening to the horror of this woman’s evil misery.
As much as this experience rocked Jennie’s world, she had such a fascinating initial response!
The clarity of God’s Truth was Jennie’s initial reaction. It is one thing to know that there is a spiritual battle raging around us.
It is something entirely different to see it live and in person! She was on fire for the Lord!
Yet not realizing it, Satan had planted a seed of doubt in Jennie’s mind.
A seed of doubt in God.. A seed of doubt regarding everything that her faith was so deeply rooted in.
For eighteen months, she wrestled with it…. BY HERSELF! And guess what…. It grew… and grew… And GREW! It grew to the point where she finally felt so at the end of herself that she completely broke down with two of her friends in some remote area of Uganda!
Isn’t it fun ladies, how we can find the most inopportune moments to totally lose it?
Through her tears, she explained the sleepless nights, her doubts, the fear in unbelief …. and the fear of her unbelief!
18 months of pretending that nothing was wrong… she was finally so exhausted, that she just let it all come out, leaving her in a heap.
Her friends patiently let her pour her heart out… And then one of her friends simply spoke the light into the darkness… She spoke the TRUTH!
She said, “No! NO! I know you… None of this is from God… This isn’t who you are!”
Beat up…. worn out… exhausted… her friend’s words cut through the all of the enemy’s lies… All of the deception.. All of those sleepless nights, wondering if she was totally losing her mind.
Do you have friends like that in your life?
Are you trying to go it alone?
We are not meant to go it alone, my friends.
THIS IS HOW FAR DOWN THE WRONG ROAD we can get in our heads.
And when we isolate, we are opening the doors to our own temptation, Satan, and his army of demons.
I have to admit…. I have been guilty of this in the past. As I indicated in my first podcast, my life experience has been somewhat of a roller coaster… High highs… and low lows… Those that know me best know that when I have been on either end of that spectrum, I did not make myself all that available.
In the high highs, I would be so captivated by what was happening, that I spent all of my focus in one or two areas… When I was in the low lows, quite frankly, I didn’t want to see anyone. I didn’t want to explain to anyone… I isolated.
I do not recommend this as a pattern for life!
The evil one wants chaos in your life… He takes delight in messing with your head, creating confusion, stress, anxiety! Do not go it alone!
We are literally at war! Scripture is clear that we need to take up our armor! That is not passive language!!
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. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.
FRIENDS!!!! Them there are fightin’ words!
Are you prepared for battle? Are you putting on the armor of God every day?
Ladies….. We spend an inordinate amount of time getting ready to go out. It’s the hair… It’s the make-up… Its the outfit, we look in the full length mirror…. Then it’s the next outfit….
What if we made the same effort to get dressed in the armor of God…. We work so hard to look good on the outside…. What about the inside?
Do you feel empowered every single day, knowing that you are prepared for battle, because darlin’, the battle is there, ready or not!
He is prowling around, looking for ways to trip you up, to discourage you, to create trouble in your marriage. He has such a foothold on our culture that he sees our children as a delicacy that he is trying to mold into his image.
This is the time. My friends. Not tomorrow… Not next week… Not next year…
And you are NOT too busy! Satan loves your ‘busy’! It gives him all the freedom he wants to establish a foothold.
I want to end our time together on a positive note….. And with a suggestion or two that I know can help you.
The good news in all of this….. is that God brought Jennie …. And I… To the exact… same … place. And I want to offer that option to you as well….
Jennie and I each realized that we get to CHOOSE.
MY FRIENDS…. YOU… GET… TO… CHOOSE.
As time passed, after her friend had released the shackles of Jennie’s bondage with nothing but the simple truth…. Jennie discovered that, while Satan is very real and that we are in a very real battle, she was not alone and she CHOSE to put on the armor of God… She took her thoughts captive. IT WAS WORK. It took real intention and being purposeful in that… But she is a different person today. Better than before that entire experience. She is stronger… more deeply rooted in her faith and convictions, and through her book, she is helping others discover that they are empowered to do the same.
My own experience was very similar. I muddled through a very challenging relationship 5 years ago.
Have you ever been in a relationship with someone where you TRY SO HARD to make them happy, and the harder you try, the more dissatisfied they are? This was all before I understood that it’s not my job to make anyone happy and it is certainly not their job to make me happy! Every individual is responsible for their own happiness.
Suffice it to say, what began as a fairy tale dream come true, turned into an emotional nightmare…. It messed me up!! I emerged from that experience much like Jennie…. Exhausted… broken, feeling like I was losing my mind.
When my niece Alyssa, who had been in Spain for the previous couple of years came home, we went out to breakfast. In the middle of our conversation, she burst into tears and said, “What has happened to you? What has he done to your spirit? You are a mere shell of yourself!”
She was right.
Alyssa cut through all of the heaviness I was carrying and spoke the truth. On one hand, it was hard to hear, and on the other hand there was such clarity in her words… Essentially, she was saying the same thing as Jennie’s friend…. “No….NO… This is not who you are!”
That bad relationship was the beginning of my journey into Christian Life Coaching because I knew that I had a choice and that I needed the tools to do the hard things…. Get out of the chaos…. Get into God’s Word in a way that taught me to take my thoughts captive…. It was only then that I was able to stand against Satan and finally embrace what God had planned for my life.
Friends… I know it sounds so easy to say, ‘just choose to think differently’.
It is NOT easy. It IS simple… but definitely not easy!
Again, I HIGHLY recommend Jennie’s book. Another book on the topic that has since come out, is ‘Winning The War In Your Mind’, by Craig Groeshel. Great book as well.
That said, our lives don’t change by reading a book… even by doing exercises as part of a study. While these things help set us on the right course, REAL CHANGE is when we do the hard work of examining our thoughts… CHALLENGING our thoughts, and taking action by taking them captive to God’s Word. That is where real change has occurred in my life and in the lives of so many who have embraced coaching.
And here again, I personally do not recommend that you go it alone. Our brains have us so convinced that we are right, that we can be having thoughts that are completely undermining our faith. Having someone to skillfully hold up the mirror to those thoughts and question them, is where real growth happens.
I feel the need to say here that it is not my intention to minimize some very painful issues that need far greater exploration… Issues that would be best addressed by a therapist. Some may even thrive best under medical supervision with medication. There is no shame in medication if it is warranted!
The difference between therapy and coaching is that therapy’s primary focus is to take someone who is having a difficult time functioning, often looking in the past to discover what is keeping you from moving forward. A great therapist will get that person back to ground zero and even beyond. Therapy is much more clinical than coaching, addressing issues such as addictions or abuse. Often, coaching is the next step after having already done a ton of hard work in a therapeutic environment.
Coaching is much more “present & future’ focused. Coaching is held within the scope of someone who is functioning and sometimes highly functioning, who either have a specific issue or set of issues that they are having a hard time breaking through, or someone who really just wants to take their life to the next level… Seeking that abundant life… That life that includes peace and grace that is promised to us by God Himself.
I am not trying to sell you on the idea of coaching. I just know it changed me. It changed the entire trajectory of my life. I want to offer that possibility to you as well.
In the meantime, peace and grace to you, my friends. May you find joy in the journey!