Tag Archives: Satan

Satan’s Masterpiece

Satan’s masterpiece is not the crack addict. Satan’s masterpiece is not the prostitute. Satan’s masterpiece is the person who is satisfied with this world. Satan’s masterpiece is the person who is untroubled by all that is in his Larry Crabb Captureor her interior world that’s opposed to God. He’s content with all the resources that he has to make his life work, and he’s enjoying respect and recognition and affection, and he’s never broken before God to the point where he lives for no one but God. That’s Satan’s masterpiece.

The Spirit’s masterpiece is someone who doesn’t look very mature sometimes. The Spirit’s masterpiece can be someone who is deeply troubled, someone who struggles a lot, someone who is aware of his or her own interior world and doesn’t like what’s there, someone who’s troubled by the world in which they live, someone who therefore cries out to God, “Reveal Yourself to me. You’re all that I want. There’s nothing in my perception that can satisfy me except You. I know it’s You.” That’s not foolishness. That’s wisdom, and the person who’s crying out to God for satisfaction may look very unstable, may not have a good job, may not have very much money. They may not be chipper and happy all the time, but if that person is in fact the Spirit’s masterpiece, all that may be going on… there’s still going to be a pattern of kindness, a pattern of movement toward other people, and a pattern of abiding trust in God through struggles along the way.
~ Dr. Larry Crabb in SoulCare 201, Lesson 7

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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2014. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Brokenness, Christianity, Holy Spirit, intimacy with the Lord, Relationship with God, Religion and Spirituality, Satan, Trusting God

God’s amazing judo move

This Beautiful Mess“The kingdom of God is the kingdom of life, health, beauty, salvation, and freedom (to name just a few of its qualities). The enemy of the kingdom, whom the Bible refers to as Satan, is always attacking that life, that health, that beauty. He attacks spiritual freedom. He wants us to be paralyzed. His relentless attacks are why things are not the way they are supposed to be—yet. But in the midst of all the tensions of life, the kingdom of God comes crashing in. It usually crashes in quietly, though.

…God has this amazing judo move that He uses to attack the kingdom of darkness. He causes all things to work for good to those who love Him, the Bible says. God takes what is meant for evil and turns it for good, if we trust Him at those times and embrace His sovereign goodness even in the midst of our pain and loss. The good He works for us will be a foretaste of the ultimate restoration that will occur when His kingdom comes in all its fullness. It doesn’t make the cost of death less real. But it shows a way through.”

~ Excerpted from This Beautiful Mess by Rick McKinley

The older I get the more I come to realize that every season of life is a new shade of learning to trust God’s “amazing judo move.”

What are you needing to trust Him with today?

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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2013. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Adversity, Christianity, Faith, God, Healing, Holy Spirit, Jesus, Kingdom of God, Religion and Spirituality, Satan, Trusting God

Don’t drop your guard!

They make it look easy. They’re not only having fun doing it but some how magically pull you into the story. They even take people from the audience to be part of it.

I’m talking about the stunt men and women at Disney World who seem to effortlessly fill their roles several times a day. Can you imagine getting paid to have fun like that? What a blast!

Sure they are careful to tell everyone not to try these stunts at home. But this is Disney. The place where wishes come true. What could go wrong?

Apparently, a lot!

About five years ago, according to Eli, the stunt man who plays Indiana Jones made a misstep while going through the spears that shoot up out of the ground. One of the spear tips injured him so severely that it cost him his life.

Others have died from simple tumbling routines that they’d performed hundreds of times.

No matter how routine it might seem to be or how practiced you are, losing your focus for even a moment can be deadly.

The same is true for those who have given themselves to follow after and serve Jesus. We have been called up into a grand story that is bigger than we can imagine. A battle for the very souls of people.

But we have an adversary!

Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your Christian brothers and sisters all over the world are going through the same kind of suffering you are. ~ 1 Peter 5:8-9 (NLT)

Satan is the epitome of stealth and cunning; a relentless enemy who knows exactly when to attack us. He knows our weaknesses and attacks when we least expect it or are most vulnerable.

After Paul lists the various pieces of the armor of God in Ephesians 6 he ties it all together with the admonition to “Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.” (Ephesians 6:18)

Prayer keeps us close to God and dependent on Him; sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s guidance in dealing with an enemy as crafty as Satan. And we need to be praying for each other.

I don’t know everyone who will read this blog but I am praying that everyone who reads it will take it to heart and draw close to God through prayer; as well as take time to pray for others.

No matter how routine or mundane your schedule may seem to be today…

Don’t drop your guard! 
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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Determination, Holy Spirit, intimacy with the Lord, Prayer, Satan, Sin, Temptation

An unnecessary pain in the butt!

“If I’m on mission for God and sold-out to serving Him, then He will remove anyone in opposition to me and make the journey smooth.”

I wish this were true because I hate conflict and turbulence of any shape, size or kind. But it’s not!

The older I get the more I recognize that those people who have been a source of friction for me have played an important role in shaping my journey with God.

Facing opposition has pushed me to trust God more, develop a more Christ-like character and served to sharpen my focus in regard to how God wants to use me for His kingdom purposes.

I have some important news for you: to fulfill your purpose and stay true to your calling, you’ll need to understand the reason for enemies. If you do that, then when they rise up against you, you will quickly recognize what’s happening.

The truth is, it’s not really them—it’s the ultimate enemy, Satan, who is using them to try to sabotage and abort your future.

As I was determining how to respond to the enemies coming against me from all sides, I found one scripture that I hung on to like a drowning man grasping a piece of wood: “Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (2 Corinthians 4:17).

What this means is that all our afflictions or problems in life, no matter how horrible they seem, are not a big deal compared to the payoff for facing and enduring them. And the results for us in heaven will be great and eternal.
~ Excerpted from The Necessity of an Enemy by Ron Carpenter, Jr.

Even Jesus, the very Son of God, endured conflict from others in every arena of life. The author of the Hebrew letter writes:

Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered. ~ Hebrews 5:8 (NASB)

From our Lower Story perspective conflict seems like an unnecessary pain in the butt! From God’s Upper Story perspective it can be a way of growing us and leading us to fulfill His kingdom objective.

All that we endure here and now will seem like a vapor compared to the “weight of glory” that will be ours when we stand face-to-face with our Lord!

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If you’re following along in The Story then read chapter(s) 9 for this week. If you’re unfamiliar with The Story you can check it out on the page tab above.

© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Conflict, God's Will, Kingdom of God, Morphing, The Story, Trusting God

Stealth Warfare and A Civil War Submarine

The Confederate Civil War vessel H.L. Hunley, the world’s first successful combat submarine, was unveiled in full and unobstructed view for the first time two weeks ago (Jan 12, 2012), capping a decade of careful preservation.

About 20 engineers and scientists applauded as they caught the first glimpse of the intact 42-foot-long narrow iron cylinder, which was raised from the ocean floor near Charleston, SC more than a decade ago.

In the summer of 2000, an expedition led by adventurer Clive Cussler raised the Hunley and delivered it to the conservatory on Charleston’s old Navy base, where it sat in a 90,000-gallon tank of fresh water to leech salt out of its iron hull.

The narrow, top-secret “torpedo fish,” built in Mobile, Alabama by Horace Hunley from cast iron and wrought iron with a hand-cranked propeller, arrived in Charleston in 1863 while the city was under siege by Union troops and ships.

In the ensuing few months, it sank twice after sea trial accidents, killing 13 crew members including Horace Hunley, who was steering.

On the night of February 17, 1864, its captain and seven crew left Sullivan’s Island near Charleston, and hand-powered the sub to the Union warship Housatonic four miles offshore. From a metal spar on its bow, the Hunley planted a 135-pound torpedo in the hull of the ship, which burned and sank. It then disappeared with all eight Confederate sailors inside.*

Stealth weapons and tactics have always been a part of warfare but no one is better at it than the devil. As Steven Furtick puts it:

The devil is a liar. That’s all he is, and he’s good at what he does.

In Ephesians 6:10-18 Paul reminds us to guard against the attacks of Satan. After listing various pieces of spiritual armor to put on Paul says:

In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil.

Why a shield of faith? Because the enemy’s favorite tactic is to tempt us into NOT trusting God; and he prefers stealth mode. He sneaks up when we least expect it to plant a seed of doubt. If undetected, it eventually grows until we turn from God and take matters into our own hands.

Whatever it is that you are facing today remember…

you can trust God!

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* Adapted from a report by Reuters

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Filed under Choices, Doubt, Faith, Satan, Sin, Temptation, Trusting God

Stay alert!

Last night a new season of Biggest Loser got under way. It’s inspiring to watch people who are slaves to unhealthy habits begin to get their lives back; to regain a sense of freedom.

Being the first show of the season there were plenty of breakaway segments delving into the contestants’ backgrounds. The list of reasons or circumstances that lead to folks getting so out of shape and unhealthy is enormous. And most have struggled with it their entire lives.

But last night I noticed something. For the last few seasons, the ones I can remember, there have been one or two people who were at one time very healthy and very much in shape. The story that jumped out at me last night was Kim’s.

Being active came easily as a child for Kim Nielsen; she played basketball and softball, and in high school, she was the MVP and an all-state athlete for both sports. She went on to compete as a professional wrestler and model for Natural Muscle magazine. At her peak, she had just 10% body fat!

Now a single mother of three at age 38, Kim weighs 252 pounds and says she is tired of hiding from fans, friends and family because of the way she looks. She wants to be around as long as possible for her children and have the energy to keep up with them.

Life threw Kim some curves and now she’s stuck inside a body big enough for two people. What’s my point?

Stay alert!

It doesn’t matter how well we’ve done in the past, as followers of Jesus we still have an enemy who is out to destroy us.

Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. ~ 1 Peter 5:8

Stay focused! Don’t drop your guard! Don’t be complacent but keep pursuing Jesus hard every day! In his letter to the believers at Ephesus Paul wrote:

 Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere. ~ Ephesians 6:18

One of the best ways to stay on track in our journey with God is by praying for other’s who are sharing the journey. I’ve prayed for everyone who will read this blog, God knows who you are.

Who will you pray for today?

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Filed under Choices, Determination, Encouragement, involvement with the church, Prayer, Satan

The Trouble with Invitations

Invitations come in all shapes and sizes today. By email or text message; through Facebook or a personal invite; some even come the old-fashioned way of snail mail. But no matter how they come, they can also cause a fair amount of trouble.

A lack of invitations can leave us feeling unloved, unimportant… even unwanted. None of this is true from God’s perspective. He values us enough to have sent Jesus to die for our sin. But the enemy will use a lack of invitations to try to get us down on ourselves.

Don’t go there! Find your identity first and foremost as a child of God. (1 John 3:1)

On the other end of the spectrum is the issue of too many invitations and this is a big problem today. For a variety of reason we are obsessed with overloading our calendars with activity after activity after activity…

We have somehow come to equate hyperactivity with an abundant life but something just isn’t adding up. We are doing more and more but we are statistically more miserable than ever. Why? Because we have substituted activities for genuine, deep relationships.

Therapist Will Miller, author of Refrigerator Rights, makes this observation.

“If you talk to any therapist today, the problems we see mostly are mood disorders: depression, anxiety, loneliness, and social detachment. As blessed as we are as Americans, as prosperous as we are, there’s all this depression. So where is it coming from? I’m convinced it’s rooted in the loss of ‘refrigerator rights’ relationships.”

A person with refrigerator rights is someone who can come into our home and feel comfortable going to our refrigerator to make a sandwich without our permission. Miller argues that too many Americans suffer mentally and emotionally because they have too few of these kinds of relationships.

No one had more demands on his time than Jesus. And while Jesus was always busy, He was never in a hurry. His discernment in saying “Yes” or “No” to people and their invitations came from first saying “Yes” to intimacy with the Father. (Mark 1:35 ff) It’s a way of life He’s willing to teach us.

Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. (Matthew 11:28-30 – The Message)

Are we willing to learn from Him?

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Filed under Children of God, Choices, God's Will, Grace, intimacy with the Lord, Jesus

Devil found in the details of some ancient art

I’m not much of an art enthusiast but I found the following story very interesting.

ROME (Reuters) – Art restorers have discovered the figure of a devil hidden in the clouds of one of the most famous frescos by Giotto in the Basilica of St Francis in Assisi, church officials said on Saturday.

The devil was hidden in the details of clouds at the top of fresco number 20 in the cycle of the scenes in the life and death of St Francis painted by Giotto in the 13th century.

The discovery was made by Italian art historian Chiara Frugone. It shows a profile of a figure with a hooked nose, a sly smile, and dark horns hidden among the clouds in the panel of the scene depicting the death of St Francis.

The figure is difficult to see from the floor of the basilica but emerges clearly in close-up photography.

Sergio Fusetti, the chief restorer of the basilica, said Giotto probably never wanted the image of the devil to be a main part of the fresco and may have painted it in among the clouds “to have a bit of fun.”

No one will ever know for sure why Giotto hid the image of the devil in the clouds but I think its very appropriate. Scripture tells us that the devil can disguise himself as an angel of light as he delights in making sneak attacks when we least expect it.

No one is more determined to wreak havoc and stir up trouble in our lives than Satan but God is fighting for us.

“…the Lord is faithful; he will strengthen you and guard you from the evil one.” ~ 2 Thessalonians 3:3

But we have a part to play as well.

So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. ~ James 4:7

Stay humble! Submit to God! And resist the devil!

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Filed under Satan, Surrender

Draw Close!

Do you remember playing with magnets as a kid? Do you remember the first time you discovered that two magnets can actually push each other away? No matter how hard you try they simply will not occupy the same space!

The very same dynamic works spiritually!

In John 10:10 Jesus states clearly that He came to bring us life, but just prior to that He makes reference to the thief that comes “to steal and kill and destroy.” There is debate about whether or not Jesus’ reference here to a thief is referring to Satan – the devil; but even if it’s not it is an apt description of his intentions.

It’s easy to forget that this life is also an ongoing spiritual battle zone and that Satan is actively working to attack and destroy us. He wants nothing more than to fill our heads and hearts with greed, unforgiveness, bitterness… all the things that can keep us apart from God and unable to experience His divine presence.

Satan is a formidable foe but the Hollywood version of him is misleading because his power is limited. While he may be stronger and craftier than you and me, his power is nothing compared to God’s.

Learning to embrace the full and satisfying life that Jesus came to make possible (John 10:10) will also require us to resist and repel Satan like the magnets we played with as kids. And James is very specific in how we do that.

So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.” ~ James 4:7-8 (NLT)

To humble ourselves is to submit to God’s authority in every area of life. When we do that daily, moment-by-moment, we are empowered to resist the devil and we are set free to draw close to God.

And when we draw close to God, He will draw close to us!

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Filed under Divine presence, Humility, intimacy with the Lord, Satan, Surrender

Two kinds of gratitude… one brings real peace!

A few years ago, university psychologists conducted a research project on gratitude and thanksgiving. They divided participants into three groups. People in the first group practiced daily exercises like writing in a gratitude journal. They reported higher levels of alertness, determination, optimism, energy, and less depression and stress than the control group. Not surprisingly, they were also a lot happier than the participants who were told to keep an account of all the bad things that happened each day.

The benefits of gratitude are enormous and obvious; but we need to understand that there are two kinds of gratitude. American preacher and theologian Jonathan Edwards identified them as Natural Gratitude and Gracious Gratitude.

Natural Gratitude, as its name implies, flows out of us effortlessly when good things happen to us. It could be something big like receiving an inheritance or as small as someone letting you go ahead of them in the checkout lane. But there’s nothing very hard or difficult about it.

Gracious Gratitude can be more challenging because it’s the gratitude we express for God and His goodness even when we are surrounded by difficult circumstances. It’s rejoicing in God’s character and love for us when the health report is negative, the bills outweigh the checkbook or a family member dies unexpectedly.

This gracious gratitude for who God is also goes to the heart of who we are in Christ. It is relational, rather than conditional. Even though our world may shatter, we are secure in Him. The source of our joy, the love of the God who made us and saved us, cannot be hindered by any power that exists (Romans 8:28-39). People who are filled with such radical gratitude are unstoppable, irrepressible, overflowing with what C. S. Lewis called “the good infection” – the supernatural, refreshing love of God that draws others to Him. The peace that passes understanding (Phil. 4:7).

There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit! ~ Romans 5:3-5 (The Message)

We need to be more intentional about Gracious Gratitude!

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Filed under Faith, Gratitude, influence with the world, Peace, Thankfulness, Trusting God