Fight Like a Christian

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Many Conservative Christians I know are struggling with how to respond to what’s happening in our nation, especially these last few months. Do we fight – or do we passively submit?

I truly don’t know.

However, after weeks of prayer and searching, I have discovered some things and made some tentative conclusions.

These are my thoughts and I make no claim that God gave them to me. In fact, He seems pretty quiet on the subject. Maybe because He’s already told us.

Here’s what I found.

Almost all the scriptures that talk about fighting – meaning actual fighting with weapons and aggression – are in the Old Testament. And most of those seem to be when the Israelites entered the Promised Land. They fought to take possession of the land and to resist enemies that came against them. But here’s the interesting thing: they only fought when and where God said to fight. They attacked cities as God led them to, and left alone the cities God said were off limits (Deut 2). Here’s another thing: they were told to take possession of the land because of the evilness in that land (Deut 9:5), and not because of their self-serving ambition.

In the New Testament, the picture is not as clear. Jesus spoke of not resisting an evil person. Even if mistreated, His followers were not to resist. He said, do not “repay evil with evil” (Matt 5) and to “put your sword away for who takes the sword will perish by the sword” (Matt 26:52). He also said to do to others what we would want others to do to us (Matt 7:12). Paul and Peter both said to submit to authorities and governing bodies (Rom 13, 2 Peter 2). Nowhere in the Epistles could I find a reference telling us to fight other than spiritually.

And yet, Jesus told His disciples that if they didn’t have a sword, to sell their cloak and buy one (Luke 22:36). He said He didn’t come to bring peace to the world but a sword (Matt 10:34). He never told soldiers to stop being soldiers. Several soldiers are even described as devout and faithful men (Acts 10:7, Matt 8:5-13). Jesus also showed a bit of violence when He threw out the sellers and buyers and overturned tables in the temple (Matt 21). If He never sinned, then fighting and violence of itself can’t be a sin.

My tentative conclusion? Fighting as a Christian is not a black and white issue. There will be times that fighting is to be avoided, and other times when fighting is necessary. Romans 12:18 says “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” The word ‘if’ implies there will be times that it won’t be possible to live in peace. Eccl 3:8 says, “A time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.”

When would fighting not be appropriate?

When it’s all about us – our pride and desires. When we want our way over others for selfish or self-centered reasons. When we want to avenge ourselves (Rom 12:19), or when we want what others have (James 4:1-3). Paul calls that being in the flesh (1 Cor 3:3). When we accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we became spiritual beings. We are called to live as such. Our focus needs to be on Jesus and His kingdom, not on our earthly lives and possessions. He said in Matt 5:40 that “if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well.” Paul told the Corinthians (1 Cor 6:7) “to have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded?” That is a hard thing to do when we see life is all about us, or when we believe we are in charge of our lives. Jesus said the Father provides all we need if we seek His kingdom first (Matt 6:31-33), and that He will make “…all things work together for good for those who love Him and are called according to his purpose (Rom 8:28), which I interpret as living for His kingdom. Instead of fighting, we are called to trust God’s sovereignty and care. Micah 6:8 puts it this way: “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” Nothing is there says we are to fight to make others do this.

Fighting is also not appropriate when it’s focused on people instead of on evil. God loved and died for us while we were His enemies (Rom 5:10) – and He died for those we call our enemies too. He calls us to “… love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.” (Luke 6:27-28)  And in Matt 5:44-46, He says, “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”  We fight evil – not people – just like we love the sinner but not the sin. Anger directed at people, calling names and insulting our enemies are good indicators that we are focused on people, which is not right nor will it end well for us. Jesus said, “everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says ‘You fool!” will be liable to the hell of fire.” (Matt 5:22).

So when is fighting the right thing to do?

When it’s about oppression. God hates oppression. He freed the Israelites when they cried out from their oppression (Judges 6, 10); He used the Israelites to destroy nations for their oppression (Deut 9); and Jesus came to free the oppressed (Luke 4:18). In Is 58:6 God says, “Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?” Fighting to end evil strongholds and to free the oppressed are sometimes necessary. But we should not engage in such fighting unless and until God leads us. Moses found this out the hard way when he defended an oppressed man and avenged him by striking down the Egyptian. That man turned on him resulting in Moses fleeing. Due to his action, Moses couldn’t live with his people or with the Egyptians, and ended up living in exile (Acts 7:23-29).

Without God’s support, we will lose every battle. And just in case we believe God supports us because we think it’s the right thing to do, He has made it clear that His thoughts are not our thoughts and His ways are not our ways (Is 55:8). Sometimes He called the Israelites to fight, sometimes He called them to stand while He fought for them. I believe it’s the same way today. 1 Sam 15:23 says, “…presumption is as iniquity and idolatry.” We can’t presume to know what God wants because it’s what we want. And we can’t know what God wants in specific instances until we pray and ask Him.

So here’s my bottom line.

With evil advancing and causing oppression to increase, we need to humble ourselves before God, get on our knees and pray. Pray like David did. Pray like Jesus taught: “deliver us from evil”. Petition God to save us, fight for us, and free us.

And then we need to listen.

If He says fight, then we fight. But not like the evildoers do. According to the NT, we need to stay honorable so that the world “…will see our good deeds and glorify God…” (1 Peter 2:12), and correct our opponents with gentleness with the hope that “…God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil after being captured by him to do his will.” (2 Tim 2:24-26). God will give the battle plans and we need to stick to them whether they make sense to us or not. He is our Commander-in- Chief. We listen to Him and no one else. We need to do things His way and not the way of the enemy. Romans 12:2 says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” We won’t learn God’s mind by copying the enemy.

However, I don’t believe God is calling everyone to fight. I believe God is calling some of us to fight, and some of us to pray. Pray that all eyes remain steadfast on Him, that all Christians heed what God tells them, and that God protects us all as we follow His lead.

Whether or not called to fight, none of us should judge the other. “Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.” (Rom 14:4) That is not to say we shouldn’t call out when the fighting is not done honorably. I believe riots resulting in death and destruction are not honorable and completely detestable. I call that behavior sin and believe it should be judged. But protesting and resisting peacefully can be both honorable and gentle. Rallies, marches, and actions such as protesting censorship by deleting Big Tech are just a few examples.

On top of everything, I believe God has called ALL of us to fight spiritually because this is ultimately a spiritual battle manifesting itself in the natural. “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Eph 6:12). We ALL need to be on our knees daily, praying 24/7, and fasting if called to do so. God heard the cries of His people in the OT and delivered them. He can do the same today – if we let Him and not try to do it all ourselves.

If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. (2 Chron 7:14)

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,” (Eph 6:10-18)

If anyone sees anything unbiblical in what’s I’ve written, please let me know. Also, I welcome other opinions and thoughts. I’d love to hear what you believe and what God is telling you.

For more reading, see https://www.gotquestions.org/Bible-fighting.html

Part 8: Let’s Build a Bonfire (Christian But Not series)

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Ziv walked along the path as it wound through small campsites on its way up a mountain. It was just past midnight, and the darkness pressed in on him as he hurried along. The tiny individual lights of the camp fires he passed, those that were still lit, reassured him that he was not alone, but did little to chase away the darkness. Ziv tried not to breathe through his nose, for each breathe brought with it a nasty odor of decay that seemed to come from all around him. Covering his nose with the top of his shirt had only made breathing harder, so he had given up and was now rushing up the path heading toward an unknown destination. All he knew was that he had to somehow rise above this evil darkness.

As he walked, Ziv noticed that some of the campfires he passed, as small as they were, were slightly brighter than others. Were they larger fires? Were their fuel sources different than the smaller fires? Or were they being better maintained? Not only that, but the rotten odor seemed to disappear the closer he got to those fires. Ziv’s curiosity made him want to stop at the next bright fire to ask, but a particularly foul odor suddenly swirled out from the dark site he was just passing, overcoming all thoughts of the fires. He had to get out of this nastiness.

Slowly he climbed higher than the campfires, seeing less and less of them. The darkness was still pressing in, but not quite as strongly as earlier. He was relieved that the odor was also decreasing. When he could no longer smell the tainted air, he stopped and looked around. The path ahead of him, illuminated by the stars as they began to come out as clouds dissipated, continued up the mountain, disappearing around a curve about twenty feet from him. On both sides of him scraggly bushes filled the spaces between tall evergreen trees. Branches stuck out at every angle, as if to grab any passerby who carelessly got too close. Behind him was the path he had just climbed. Where should he go? Going down was out of the question, and he didn’t want to attempt pushing his way through the underbrush, so sighing, he turned back to the only option he felt he had. Forward. When he got to the curve, he took one last look back, then determinedly faced forward and continued walking, not knowing what he would find.

What he found was a rock. A very large rock. A rock so white it seemed to glow in the dark, making it stand out from everything else. Ziv followed the path as it circled the rock and returned to the curve from which he had just emerged. There were no side paths splintering off from this main one. Apparently, this was the final destination of this path.

Not wanting to go back down, he decided to climb atop the rock. It would provide a safe place to rest as he considered what to do next. Finding some foot and finger holds, he managed to pull himself up until he was sitting at the top of the rock. It was as hard as he had expected, but that gave him a sense of security. It would not be crumbling under his weight. What he hadn’t expected was its warmth. At this time of night, it should have been cold, having lost its daytime heat. Yet, here it was, well past midnight, and this rock felt as warm as if it were midday. Confused, but thankful, he settled down in delight, enjoying the clean fresh air and bright stars. His gaze eventually wandered down the slope of the mountain that lay before him. If he looked hard enough, he could just barely make out a few tiny sparks of light. Although most campfires apparently had gone out, a few were still burning. Feeling safe and cozy, he began to doze.

Suddenly a voice jarred him awake as it called from somewhere below him, “Hi, up there. Room for one more?”

Apprehensive about who this stranger might be, he called back, “Who are you?”

“A friend,” came the swift reply.

Had one of his friends followed him? Although the voice sounded somewhat familiar, he couldn’t place it with a face. Besides, he had not heard anyone approaching, neither while he was walking or while he was on top of this rock. If it was a friend, how did he find him? Ziv needed to take a look, but leaning over the edge of the rock was not an option, not if he wanted to keep his balance. And, in spite of the star light, he probably wouldn’t be able to see the guy well enough in the dark to identify him.  So instead, he asked another question. “What’s your name?”

“Ryder.”

“Where did you come from?”

“A long distance. Can I come up? It will make talking easier.”

Ziv frowned. Why was he being so mysterious? Was he was a thief? If so, he would be disappointed. Or was he friendly like he said? Something in his voice made Ziv want to believe the latter. He decided to trust his gut. “Sure, come on up,” he called back.

When the stranger came into view, Ziv scooted over making room for him to sit. Ryder quickly joined him, giving out a loud, relieved sigh as he stretched out his legs.

“Amazing how the warmth of this rock is so soothing after a long hike. Wouldn’t you say so?”

“Yeah, I guess so.” Ziv tried not to stare at the stranger’s appearance. His dark face seemed to be lit from the inside. He wasn’t exactly glowing, but there was definitely something there. His black curly hair framed his head and reflected the light from the stars that were still shining brightly. His long sleeve hoodie and denim jeans barely had a spot on them. No twigs, no layer of dust, not even a wrinkle. It was like he had just put them on. Even his hiking boots looked clean. Ziv looked down at his own dirt-coated pants and self-consciously picked off some hitchhiking seeds that had managed to attach themselves there. Wherever this guy had come from, it wasn’t from the same path Ziv had taken. Giving up on removing all the hitchhikers, and not wanting to rudely stare at his visitor, Ziv looked down the slope of the mountain at the tiny flickering fires.

After a few minutes, Ryder’s voice broke through the silence. “A penny for your thoughts.”

“Oh, I wasn’t really thinking about anything,” Ziv said without looking up. “I’m just kind of daydreaming I guess.”

“About what?”

“Those fires down there.”

“What about them?”

“Well, I know the people who are sitting by them are probably thinking they are a decent size, but all the darkness around them pretty much swallows them.”

“True, but the light is still there, no matter how small it appears.” Ryder said with a shrug.

“Yeah, but…”

“They don’t seem to matter much when compared to the amount of darkness that surrounds them, is that what you mean? That they don’t do much to drive away all the darkness?” Ryder looked at Ziv. “We both know that’s not their purpose. But let’s suppose for a moment that it was.”

“That campfires are supposed to provide light up an entire mountain? That’s crazy.”

“If we’re talking about campfires, then yes. But what if they are something more than just campfires. And the darkness is more than just the natural darkness of night on a mountain.”

Now it was Ziv’s turn to ask, “What do you mean?”

“Well, when I look out, it reminds me of the darkness that covers this world. Not a natural darkness, but a spiritual darkness. And those lights down there are like the prayers of the people as they pray against the darkness. Do you understand?”

Ziv nodded. “I can see that. As people pray, they light up their immediate areas.”

“Right. And the people down there who have  gone to sleep, letting their fires die out, are like the people who are no longer praying for one reason or another. What do you think would happen if everyone woke up and relit their fires?”

“Well, there would be a lot more light. But it still wouldn’t be enough. Those fires would still be very little.”

“What if groups of people decided to combine their fires?”

“You mean share a campfire?”

“No, I mean add their campfire to another campfire.”

“That would make it twice as big, giving it twice the light. I think I see where you’re going with this. People combining their prayers with the prayers of others would create a brighter light that would illuminate more of the darkness. But even if everyone got together and made one huge bonfire, there‘s still way too much darkness that wouldn’t be touched.”

“What if the bonfire drew others? Like those who, through their own choices, had walked away from the light? What if they saw it and turned back to the light? And what if those who never had a light were drawn to it and wanted to join in?”

“Then the large fires would spread and become even larger.” Ziv’s eyes lit up. “Eventually the darkness, including that evil smell, would be gone. Everyone would be in the light!”

“Well, almost everyone. There are always those who prefer the darkness.”

Ziv was disappointed. Then what would be the point? And then it hit him. He turned to Ryder. “But that wouldn’t matter as much because the light would be greater than the darkness. The world would still be a better place.”

“Exactly.” Ryder smiled and closed his eyes.

Not wanting to disturb Ryder’s rest, Ziv continued to stare at the fires. Could it be that simple? Everyone praying together against the darkness, adding their light to the light of others around them? Turning from their own evil deeds making sure their light was as bright as possible, and strengthening each other’s lights in the process? What would it take for everyone to come together like this?

I have the same question. What would it take for all of us who call ourselves Christians to join together as Christ’s disciples – fully committed to all His ways – in order to share the light of God with the whole nation? I think maybe we’re beginning to find out.

Ecclesiastes 4:12  And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him – a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

John 3:19-21  And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come into the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”

(Ziv as a boy’s name (also used as girl’s name Ziv), is pronounced zeev. It is of Hebrew origin, and the meaning of Ziv is “radiance, brilliance or light of God”. The name Ryder is a boy’s name of British origin meaning “cavalryman, messenger”.)

Part 7: Glowing Christians (Christian But Not series)

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” ( Matt 5:14-16)

Jesus said He is the light of the world, but He also said we are the light of the world. Knowing how much greater He is than the brightest of us, I wondered if He was talking about two different kinds of lights, so I looked it up.  Nope. The original Greek word for ‘light’ is the same in both verses.

Light 
φῶς (phōs)
Noun – Nominative Neuter Singular
Strong’s Greek 5457: Light, a source of light, radiance. From an obsolete phao; luminousness.

Luminous means emitting or reflecting light, startling bright.

Radiance means bright or glowing light

We Christians are glowing! And not just any glow, but a radiant, transparent and flawless glow. Turn to someone and say, “You’re glowing!” Just kidding. I hate it when pastors tell us to do that.  But the truth remains, we are all glowing – or should be glowing – whether we are aware of it or not.

Why do some of us seem to glow brighter than others?

Jesus gives us a hint in Matthew 5:15. He said that hiding a lamp under a bowl defeats the purpose of the lamp, and keeps everyone in the dark. How often do we do just that in our work places, in crowded stores, or when other drivers get in our way? It’s hard to shine when we’re angry or frustrated, or where it would make us conspicuous. I remember a time when my colleagues wanted us all to do something that I considered dishonest. They were all good people, so I was surprised at the animosity I received when I mustered my courage and told them that, based on my belief, I couldn’t participate with them. I found out the hard way that my light was not always welcomed nor tolerated even among friends, and its lasting effect caused me to think twice before allowing my light to peek out from under my bowl again.

Another way a Christian’s glow can be diminished is found in Luke 11:33-37. “No one lights a lamp and puts it away in a cellar nor under a basket, but on the lampstand so that those who enter may see the light. Your eye is the lamp of your body…

The same Greek word for ‘lamp’ is used both in Matthew and in Luke. It means an illuminator. Jesus is saying in Luke that our eyes are the illuminators for the light within us. Did He mean our physical eyes? That light should be shooting out of our eyes like the rays in a sci fi alien? Let’s keep reading and also look at the definitions of some of the original Greek words. (Some Bible translations use different words for a few of these. I will note those in parenthesis next to the applicable words.)

“…when your eye is clear, your whole body is also full of light; but when it is bad, your body is also full of darkness. So watch out that the light in you is not darkness. Therefore if your whole body is full of light, without any dark part, it will be wholly illuminated, as when the lamp illuminates you with its light. (NASB)

eye
ὀφθαλμός (ophthalmos)
Noun – Nominative Masculine Singular
Strong’s Greek 3788: The eye; fig: the mind’s eye. From optanomai; the eye; by implication, vision; figuratively, envy.

body.
σώματός (sōmatos)
Noun – Genitive Neuter Singular
Strong’s Greek 4983: Body, flesh; the body of the Church. From sozo; the body, used in a very wide application, literally or figuratively.

clear,  (also healthy, good, single)
ἁπλοῦς (haplous)
Adjective – Nominative Masculine Singular
Strong’s Greek 573: Single, simple, sound, perfect. Probably from a and the base of pleko; properly, folded together, i.e. Single.

full of light.
φωτεινόν (phōteinon)
Adjective – Nominative Neuter Singular
Strong’s Greek 5460: Bright, luminous, full of light. From phos; lustrous, i.e. Transparent or well-illuminated.

poor, (also unhealthy, bad, evil)
πονηρὸς (ponēros)
Adjective – Nominative Masculine Singular
Strong’s Greek 4190: Evil, bad, wicked, malicious, slothful.

[is] full of darkness.
σκοτεινόν (skoteinon)
Adjective – Nominative Neuter Singular
Strong’s Greek 4652: Full of darkness, dark. From skotos; opaque, i.e. benighted.

you
σοὶ (soi)
Personal / Possessive Pronoun – Dative 2nd Person Singular
Strong’s Greek 4771: You. The person pronoun of the second person singular; thou.

darkness.
σκότος (skotos)
Noun – Nominative Neuter Singular
Strong’s Greek 4655: Darkness, either physical or moral. From the base of skia; shadiness, i.e. Obscurity.

radiant, (also fully illuminated, wholly bright, fully light)
φωτεινὸν (phōteinon)
Adjective – Nominative Neuter Singular
Strong’s Greek 5460: Bright, luminous, full of light. From phos; lustrous, i.e. Transparent or well-illuminated.

were shining
ἀστραπῇ (astrapē)
Noun – Dative Feminine Singular
Strong’s Greek 796: A flash of lightning, brightness, luster. From astrapto; lightning; by analogy, glare.

Linda’s interpretation:  our eyes are the filter by which light enters and leaves our body, not in a physically sense but in a moral sense. If we look at life through the lens of goodness and perfection, and if we act in accord with that, doing good whenever we can, then we are filled with the light of Jesus which will also shine like a spotlight on us for the benefit of everyone around us. But if our lens is tainted with evil, then that light is cut off and we are left in darkness along with everyone around us.

God makes it very clear what evil is. Do a search for “evil” and you’ll find numerous lists throughout the Old and New Testaments including Is 5:2-23; Is 59;2-25; Ez 22:1-31; Rom 1:18-32; 1 Cor 6:9-11; Gal 5:16-24. Likewise, search “do good” and you’ll find enough scriptures, such as Isaiah 1:16-18 and Micah 6:8, to keep you reading for some time. Some places, such as Eph 5:1-17, describe both evil and doing good. Jesus gave us some additional ways to do good in His sermon on the mount (Luke 6:27-28). His ways are hard, and don’t make sense to our natural minds, yet that’s what we are called to do, regardless of how painful it might be, if we are to shine brightly.

So in a nutshell, what we do and don’t do controls the amount of light in us and coming from us, and thus impacts what others are able to see.

Why does it matter how bright we glow?

Two reasons. One reason is because we love God, want a relationship with Him, and want to go to heaven when we die. We want to see in the darkness, to have our path lit up. We understand the need for people to live good lives in order to benefit society. The problem is that although most of us Christians (Christian: a person who has anything to do with Christ) want God in our lives, we only want Him on our terms. We want to live with God. We don’t want to live for God. While we’re here on earth, we’d rather live in as much darkness as we can away with and still get to heaven. We don’t think of it in those terms, but that’s what our lives say nonetheless. Sometimes, though, we don’t shine as strongly as we think we do because of deception. We may think we’re living according to the Bible, but our interpretation – or the interpretation of those who taught us – is faulty. Others of us who have become disciples (disciple: a person who is totally committed to Jesus and all He said) work to shine as brightly as we can, willingly paying the price to do so, because that’s what Jesus wanted.

Paul gives us the second reason in 2 Cor 4:6 For God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. We want to glow brightly to reveal God through Jesus to those who don’t know Him. The problem we run into is stated in 2 Cor 4:4  In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers; to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.  It’s hard to keep shining brightly though when no one seems to understand, when people don’t want their deeds exposed to the light, or when it’s easier to conform than to stand out.

I discovered something else in these verses. The original Greek listeners/readers probably got it right away, but I missed it because I don’t read Greek. It wasn’t until I looked up the original Greek words and meanings that I made this discovery. In verse 34 “your eye is the lamp to your body”, the Greek word for ‘body’ is singular noun but is used in a very wide application, such as the body of the Church. Yet, the Greek word for ‘you’ is singular personal pronoun. That means how much each of us individually shines – or doesn’t shine – impacts the whole body of believers as a whole. That is definitely true in our country today. As Christians, we have earned ourselves a bad name because of our behavior. Paul had to address a similar issue with the Roman believers in Romans 2:17-24. But if you call yourself a Jew (think Christian) and rely on the law (think Bible) and boast in God and know his will and approve what is excellent, because you are instructed from the law; and if you are sure that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth – you then who teach others, do you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law. For, as it is written, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles (think non-Christian) because of you.’

When I look around America today, when I listen to both Christians and non-Christians, I am grieved at how God is blasphemed because of our actions. If what non-Christians see when they watch Christians (and yes, they are watching us) defines how they see God, no wonder they want no part of what we offer. We’re really no different than they are, and in some cases, even worse. If only more Christians would commit to being a disciple (a Christian-But-Not), then unbelievers could see God through clear lenses and be drawn to Him.

One more thing – maybe something a little more fun. Jesus mentioned a lamp because that’s pretty much all they had besides candles. However, we have many devises for light today: flashlight, nightlight, spotlight, lamp, lantern, Christmas lights, laser, glow in the dark light, etc. Each puts out a different amount of light for different purposes. Thinking about your life, which devise best fits you? Are you shining more like a nightlight (only seen in the dark) or a flashlight (pointing your light in only one direction at a time) or a lantern (shining your light everywhere at once)? Do you just glow softly, not really lighting up much of anything, or broadcast your light in intense ways? Is one way better than another? Are there times when different devises are needed? You might see all of these in the Christian body as a whole. Would the same hold true in a group of fully committed disciples?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. It’s been fun thinking about this but I haven’t drawn any conclusions yet.

You’re Being Watched

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Do you feel like you’re being watched sometimes?

That’s because you are.

There are people who watch to see how you handle things.

There are animals who watch to see if you drop a bit of food.

There is God, who is always watching.

And there are other things, not so pleasant, also watching you, looking for ways to mess up your day.

They look for ways to destroy you.

They invite you to come outside and play with them; to come outside of God’s light, and enter their dark games.

You need to be aware, watchful, so you can resist their temptations, and not fall for their deceptions.

But you don’t need to worry. Let them watch. Our God is greater than ALL things.

And that includes scary looking things that can’t actually harm you.

Like this mayfly.

 

 

 

1 Peter 5:8  Be sober minded, be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

James 4:7  Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

Psalm 37:32  The wicked watches for the righteous and seeks to put him to death.

Proverbs 15:3  The eyes of the LORD are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good.

1 Cor 16:13-14  Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.

Amusement Park: The Hat, part 2

Amusement Park: The Hat, part 2

Amalia looked at the dark entrance. “Are You sure we need to do this?” she asked Jesus as He settled down next to her in the small train car. “There are still other rides we could do.”

“Sooner or later you’re going to have to go through this room. It might as well be now. Remember what I told you the last time. Hold my hand and know that nothing can hurt you when I’m in the car with you. When you get nervous or feel lost, squeeze it and I’ll squeeze back reassuring you that I’m still with you.”

“Okay,” Amalia responded nervously. None of the rooms had been like the standard spooky rooms found in other haunted houses. This one problem wouldn’t be either. But what would it be like? What hadn’t she already seen on her last ride through this building?

The ride started with a jerk, and they slowly approached the door. Amalia reached up with her free hand to make sure her hat was on securely. The reassurance she felt when she touched it calmed her nerves, and she sat back. She was ready for whatever was on the other side.

The car bumped open the door, and they went in. There were people everywhere. Most were busy with their own affairs, but a few waved at the Amalia. It was the same room as the other time. Disappointed, she turned to Jesus. “I thought You said it would be different. This is the same room we went in the last time.”

“I said there was a room we skipped. You’ll see.”

Amalia watched the people, all busy with their lives, and wondered what it would feel like to live in a room like this. Did they know their world was just a huge room painted to look like the outdoors? Maybe her own world was an illusion too. Maybe there was more to life than what she saw.

As they came to the end of the room, Amalia noticed something she hadn’t the first time. The track had a split. The main track went to the door and into the next room. That’s the way they had gone before. The smaller track curved to the left and disappeared into darkness. That must be where the unexplored room was. Her thoughts were confirmed when the car went over a little bump, and headed left. This is it. Ready or not, here we come.

At first everything was dark. Almost everything. Down the track, she could see the faint outline of a door as light escaped through the edges. That must be the room. Good. At least she would be able to see whatever was in there. As they got closer to the door, the light transitioned from an early morning glow to the brightness of midday. Before she could shield her eyes, they bumped through the door and they were surrounded by light. A harsh light. Amalia squinted through her fingers and noticed the light was not empty. Ghostly beings were around the car. Beautiful, strong, and powerful beings. Were these angels?

“Where are we?” Amalia asked Jesus.

“We’re in a room in the haunted house.”

“I know that. I mean, what is this room?”

“It’s a room that enables you to see what you can’t normally see.”

“And what am I seeing?”

“Keep looking.”

Amalia tried, but the light was too bright. However, ever so slowly her eyes adjusted, and she made out some buildings, trees, cars… Wait! This was her street! That was her house! And that was her car! Was she back home? But no, she could still see and feel the train car. And Jesus was still holding her hand. So… if she wasn’t at home, this must be a replica. Why was it here? To show her that she was surrounded by invisible angels when at home? That made sense. The Bible said that God used angels to minister to His people. Then this was a good thing, and she relaxed. As she did so, she began to hear voices. The ghostly beings – the angels – began to call to her.

“We are here to serve you. What do you want? We can give you comfort when you’re troubled. We can protect you when you stumble. We can fill you with love. We accept you just as you are. You don’t need to change anything. Just reach out to us. We are here.”

She began to reach out, but Jesus stopped her. Confused, she asked, “Why can’t I reach out to them? They don’t seem evil. They actually look good. Aren’t they angels?”

He frowned in warning. “Don’t let their appearances fool you. They are not angels. They are 100% evil. They have only evil planned for you.”

“But how could something so beautiful be evil? How could love and acceptance be bad?”

“It’s all designed to take your eyes of Me, to deceive you, and then to destroy you. I can – and do – give you all those things. But not in the way or timing they do. You have the choice, though. You can choose them, or you can choose Me. You can’t have both.”

Put that way, Amalia had no trouble choosing. “Jesus, I want You.”

Suddenly the lights flickered, and in that flickering, all the beautiful creatures became hideous. Gaping mouths, grotesque features, screeching voices. Amalia shuddered.

“Now you see the ugliness inside them,” came a soft whisper.

Grateful for His warning, and even more grateful that she had heeded it, she squeezed His hand. The harsh light returned, and they continued going through the room. It became easier to ignore the calls as she knew them for what they really were, but still, Amalia was glad to see the end of the room approaching. Except there was no door in the wall. How would they get out of this room if there was no door?

As she tried to puzzle it out, a sound distracted her. A kind of like a roar, almost like a bear or lion or strong wind, was slowly growing stronger as if something was heading towards her. She looked around, trying to locate the source, but couldn’t see anything. She didn’t know why, but she knew she didn’t want to meet the cause of the roar. Door or no door, she had to leave. Now, before it got to her. She pulled on Jesus’ hand and said, “Jesus, get me out of here.”

“I will at the right time.”

As far as she was concerned, this was the right time. But she knew Jesus well enough to know He was going to do what He was going to do. She reached to her hat with her free hand, and focused on its comforting presence.

A few minutes later, the roar subsided, and she heard a high, squeaky voice calling to her. “Come here, Amalia. Let me show you something.”

Amalia shuddered. “No, I’m staying in the car.”

“I can come to you, if you want. All you have to do is ask.”

Amalia shook her head. “No, no, I don’t want you here. Go away.”

A deeper, colder voice broke in. “I told you she wouldn’t invite you in. You’re going to have to get her to come out.”

“How do I do that?”

“Oh, there are a number of ways. Confusion, fear, enticement, intimidation, and lies to name a few.”

“I’ve tried some of that. Why didn’t it work? I used my most enticing voice,” whined the squeaky voice.

The voices continued as if they didn’t realize she could hear them.

“Because she is holding on to Jesus, you fool. First you have to get her to let go.”

Amalia had no intention of doing that. She tightened her grip on Jesus’ hand as well as on her hat just as something flew past her face. She couldn’t see it, but felt the movement of the air and heard a soft buzz as it passed. A bee? In here?  Amalia had a fear of bees, especially angry ones, ever since she had been stung by one when she was a child. If this bee was lost, it was quite possible that it was angrily trying to find it way out using its sense of smell. Amalia grew cold as she realized that the closest smell to a flower in this room was the conditioner in her hair. That meant the bee would be circling around her, getting angrier by the moment for not finding what it sought. What if it landed on her head? Could it get under her cap? She quickly took her cap off and held it tightly to her chest. She shook her head softly, then more vigorously. She heard another buzz, and then another. More than one bee? That was more than she could stand. She let go of Jesus’ hand to swat the air around her, hoping to bother them enough that they would decide to move on.

A victorious chuckle came from the darkness to her left. “See, I told you it would work. Now watch me get her to leave the car.”

Amalia closed her eyes, willing this ride to be over. She didn’t want to face that deep voiced being. But then she remembered that there was no door. Was she stuck in this room forever? With that thing? At least if they kept moving, they were going to get to the end eventually. If only they could move faster. Amalia clung to her hat with both hands, pulling from it as much reassurance from it she could. Jesus would protect her if she held on tight enough.

But then the unthinkable happened. They stopped.

She opened one eye to see why. A glowing being stood before them. He smiled when it saw her looking.

“Hi, Amalia.”

She felt herself inexplicably drawn to him.

“That’s right. Come to me. I’m not evil, like the lies about me say. I have power, and I can give you power too.”

“I don’t want power.” Amalia managed to say, yet deep inside she knew that wasn’t true. She did want power. She wanted the power to make more money. Enough to buy all those snow globes. She wanted power to make people like her. She wanted the power to make all the fighting in the world stop. She wanted the power to heal diseases. She caressed her hat as she imagined all the good she could do if she had that much power.

“See? Power can be a good thing in the hands of someone as good as you. Come on, I’ll teach you.”

Amalia was tempted. Getting out of the car for a few minutes wouldn’t be such a bad thing, would it? She was doing it for a good reason. Besides, she had her hat – the hat that had come to symbolized Jesus – so she knew He would be with her. Hadn’t He said that He would no matter where she went?

Hesitating, she asked, “how do I know you won’t hurt me?’

“Look at me. Can something this beautiful be dangerous?”

Amalia had to agree. He was beautiful. Tall, strong, and glowing with vitality. But then she remembered the other glowing creatures earlier in this room. They had been beautiful too, until Jesus had revealed their real nature. She held her hat up to her mouth in both hands as she tried to discern the truth, but the hat gave her no answers. Maybe that meant it was okay to get out.

“Come on, Amalia. What do you say? Do you want to help the world be a better place?”

Deciding, she reached with one hand to unbuckle her seat belt.

“Stop.”

Startled, she looked up. Jesus was shaking His head at her. She had been so focused on her hat and that being that she had forgotten that He was sitting next to her. “Do not listen to him. He is deceiving you.”

“But isn’t what he offers a good thing?”

“Nothing he offers comes without strings. He will offer you the world, but take your soul.”

Amalia took her hand off the seat belt to clasp her hat to her chest again. Why hadn’t the hat warned her? Why was it still giving her peace?

“Because there’s nothing to be afraid of,” the glowing being said.

“Let go of the hat, Amalia.” Jesus said.

No! He couldn’t mean that! Didn’t He know how much she loved this hat? It made her feel connected to Him. It was a good thing. Why did He want her to remove it? It would be like removing God from her life. She shook her head and clasped the hat tighter.

“Let go of the hat, Amalia.” Jesus said again. “You have made it into something it is not.”

“What do You mean?”

“You have made it into Me.”

“That’s ridiculous,” laughed the glowing being. “It’s just a hat. You’re making too much of this.”

Amalia thought about that for a few minutes. Who was right? How could her hat be God? It was just a symbol. She looked down at it as she held it with both hands. Both hands. And then it hit her. Instead of holding on to Jesus, she was holding on to the hat. Somewhere along the way, she had started trusting the hat as if it was Jesus. Even though it had started off innocently enough, somehow the symbolic hat had become an idol. She had looked to it for peace and comfort and even guidance, instead of looking to the real Jesus. Guilt stricken, she admitted she had made her hat like a god.

“I’m sorry, Jesus. I don’t want A god. I want THE God. I want You.” She stretched out her 0711202130 (2)hand, intending to toss the hat away, but froze. She couldn’t make her fingers move. Her love for the hat made it too painful to let the hat go.  Wasn’t there a way to keep both God and the hat? She knew the difference now, so the hat wouldn’t be an idol anymore. Couldn’t she keep it just as a hat? It was so cute and comfortable.

“Sure, it’s just a hat. There’s nothing wrong with keeping it. Jesus is being too hard on you,” the being’s sugary voice washed over her.

“Amalia,” was all Jesus said.

Confused, she looked from one to the other. Why was this so hard? She knew she should be listening to Jesus. She wanted to obey Him. So why was she so tempted to listen to the other voices – both the one in front of her and the one inside her? And worse of all, the hat itself seemed to be pleading to stay as she gazed at it. Tormented by her indecision, she found she couldn’t move in either direction. She couldn’t drop the hat, nor could she pull in her arm.

“Keep the hat, Amalia,” the being whispered. “It’s okay. Jesus knows how much you love it. And He’s all about love, isn’t He?”

“Yes, I mean no.” Confusion and anxiety continued to grow until she thought she was going to break. “Jesus, help me!” she cried out.

“Jesus, help me,” the being mimicked in a sarcastic tone. “He’s not going to …”

“Amalia,” Jesus said. “Look at Me.”

As soon as she did, confusion melted away. She knew which voice to listen to. But the other voices were so loud, still drawing her attention.

“Resist them,” Jesus said, “and they will go away.”

Amalia closed her eyes and focused on Jesus’ words. As hard as it was, she refused to think about the other voices. She refused to give in to their demands. After a while, she found she didn’t have to try as hard. The voices were diminishing, making it easy to stay focused on what Jesus had said. When they had totally disappeared, she cautiously opened her eyes. The being was gone. And so was her attachment to her hat. Easily letting it fall over the side of the car, she smiled. Jesus was infinitely better than any hat, even a cute faded teal one.

She looked at Him, full of shame for what she had done. But instead of the chastisement she deserved, she found Him smiling at her with pleasure. “Well done,” He said. The car gave a lurch and they started moving again. “Time to move on.”

“Yes, let’s get out of here,” Amalia answered, grabbing His hand. “I don’t want to ever face that being again.”

“I know, but you will. He’s not limited to just this room, and he is not going to give up trying to get you away from Me. And neither are all those other beings. But now you know what to do whenever he comes around.”

“Will resisting him always work?”

“Yes. The amount of effort it will take may vary, but in the end, he must leave. The same is true for his servants.”

Amalia leaned against Jesus, both hands holding His. Eyes now fully focused on Him, she didn’t look back as the car went around a corner and through a door, leaving the harsh light and a small hat behind.

 

 


The story behind the story:

When I was a new Christian, I bought a silver cross to represent my new faith. I was so excited about Jesus that I wore that cross day and night, never taking it off. One day, about a year later, I looked at it with dismay. It had become so shapeless I could barely discern that it had ever been a cross. I couldn’t wear it like that, so I took it off. Soon I had numerous experiences with fear, such as hearing a noise and worrying about someone breaking into my house. Each time I reached for my cross, and felt unprotected when it wasn’t there.  It didn’t take long to realize that I was looking to the cross for proof of God’s presence and promise, instead of trusting His word. In a way, my cross had become an idol. It’s so easy rely on the tangible instead of the intangible, and the transfer of faith is so subtle we don’t always realize it’s happening. That must be one reason the Israelites had so much trouble staying away from idols. My experience with that small silver cross taught me a lesson and I have been careful ever since to make sure my faith remains where it should and not on any object.

As for the glowing beings in my story, I’m still learning.

 

Scriptures:

James 4:7  Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.

1 Peter 5:8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

2 Cor 11:14-15 And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.

Rev 12:9 The great dragon was hurled down – that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.

Exodus 34:17 Do not make any idols.

Lev 19:4  Do not turn to idols or make metal gods for yourselves. I am the LORD your God.

Only When You Move

She stood frozen in her spot. Not daring to move, she watched as the sharks swam lazily around her.

“Do you see them?” whispered Mike.

“Yes. Where did they come from?” she responded.

“I don’t know. They aren’t supposed to be around here.”

“What are we going to do?”

They were standing on a submerged sidewalk that edged a river. Nearby was a set of steps leading up into an upper room. The directions they had been given was to find and follow the sidewalk to the stairs, then climb up them to the room they would find up there.  No one had said anything about sharks.

“Let’s try to make a run for it to the stairs,” he suggested. “We’ll go on the count of three.”

“OK,” she said, trying to sound braver than she felt.

“One… two… THREE!”

They both ran for the stairs. But running in water doesn’t work too well. And the sharks had no trouble chasing them down, biting at their feet every step of the way. They gave up, knowing they wouldn’t make it to the stairs.

“What do we do now?” she asked, looking down at her bleeding feet.

“Hey,” he said, confused. “They’ve backed off.”

Sure enough, they were back to swimming their lazy patterns, keeping watch, but not biting.

“Maybe we spooked them,” she offered. “What if we move very slowly”

“Worth a try,” he said. “Ready?”IMG_20180501_204629540_HDR

They both took an extremely slow step. But before they could take a secon

 

d step, the sharks were back, nipping and biting their feet again.

They stopped.

“Have you noticed that they only bite when we move?” he said.

“Yeah, I’m starting to get that idea,” she answered.

They stood still for a few more moments.

“This is not getting us anywhere,” she finally said in frustration. “We need to get on those stairs.”

“And how are we going to do that?”

“I don’t know. Maybe we just need to get there as fast as we can and try to ignore the sharks as they bite.”

“And LET them bite us?” He shook his head. “No way!”

“Then what do you suggest?”

“We could just stand here. Maybe they’ll get tired of waiting for us to move and they’ll swim away.”

“And what if they don’t?

“Then we can try your plan.”

So they stood there for an hour. Each time they shifted their weight, sharks would perk up and head for them only to turn around at the last minute.

“This is ridiculous!” she finally exclaimed. “You can stand here all day if you want, but I’ve had enough. Bite or no bites, I’m getting off this sidewalk and on to those stairs.”

“It’s a three foot climb to get off this sidewalk. You’re going to need help. I’m coming with you.”

They both took a deep breath, then as quickly as they could, made their way to the wall. He gave her push up and when she was out, she reached down and took his hand to help pull him up. All the while the sharks were in a frenzy chasing them and biting at their feet.

Relieved to be out of the water, they hugged each other and checked their wounds.

“There’s a lot of blood, but the bites don’t seem to be serious,” he said.

“Maybe not,” she responded. “But they hurt.”

“Don’t mind the sharks,” a voice called to them. “As long as you don’t move, they’re actually quite friendly.”

Startled, they looked around for the source of the voice but didn’t see anyone.

“Who’s there?” he called out.

Not getting an answer, they decided to head for the stairs. They didn’t get too far when sounds of splashing came from behind them. Terrified, they looked back and saw the sharks climbing out of the water.

“What in the world??” she said, panic in her voice. “How are they doing that?”

“It doesn’t matter how they are doing it. They’re doing it! We need to run!”

So they did, as fast as they could until they reached the stairs. Breathing hard, more in panic than in exertion, they stopped to catch their breath. The sharks had reached them now and actually looked like they were swimming in the air about a foot off the ground.

She looked at him and said, “Do you think they can climb stairs, too?”

“Only one way to find out,” he answered grimly. “Let’s go.”

She didn’t want to move but saw no other choice if they were going to reach the top, so they began climbing.

She slowly woke up, the feelings of being chased by sharks lingering as she thought about her dream. She had had more than a few spiritual dreams since she had become a Christian, But nothing like this one. Usually her dreams were about being with Jesus and left her feeling good. This one was unsettling. What did it mean?

She asked the Lord to explain the dream to her.

“It’s about what happens in the spirit world when you walk the path I set before you.”

“But I thought walking with You was supposed to be wonderful. You take care of me and talk with me and it always fills me with joy and peace. This dream was nothing like that.”

“Walking with me is not always easy or comfortable.”

“Was that You walking with me in that dream?”

“No, that was another believer. As you saw, having other believers can help you on your journey.”

“And the sharks?”

“The enemy. He will send things into your life to hurt you when he can.”

“Why did they only bite when we moved?”

“It’s when you’re moving that you’re a threat to the Evil One. As long as you aren’t making any progress, they’ll leave you alone. Their goal is to keep you immobile in your walk with Me so that you are ineffective and powerless.”

“Who’s voice was that?”

“Someone who decided to avoid the shark bites by remaining still. Those who are not moving forward tend to try to discourage others from moving forward.”

She began to understand. She had entered a new stage in her Christian  walk. The enemy had taken notice. Her choices? Submit to the terror tactic and stop walking. Or chance the bites for the sake of the amazing joy she would have when she reached the top.

She chose to keep walking.

Of course.

Deep Inside a Flower

“There’s something very beautiful deep inside you,” her boyfriend told her.

“No, there isn’t,” she responded.

“Yes, there is. I can see God pouring His love all over you, watering you as if you were a flower. Only you can’t feel it.”

On the surface, she had come to know God’s love and presence, and to a degree could accept that, but deep down was a whole different story. She could feel the darkness that she believed was down there, and was afraid to find out that she was right.

“No,” she shook her head. “There’s nothing good in me.”

“I don’t believe that. I see you as a bud, closed up tightly around great beauty. And I see God slowly and gently opening your petals, one by one.”

Fear rose up in her. What if He really was doing that? What if He gets to the center of her IMG_20180416_204207978being and finds only darkness there? Maybe even evil. And demons.

“What if I’m afraid?”

“It’s OK. God knows that. And He will go only as fast as you are able. He won’t force you.”

“Maybe, but I can’t take the chance.” She really, really didn’t want to find out she had demons.  She had heard of plenty of people who had had demons cast out of them. She shuddered just thinking about it. What would that be like, having a demon cast out? Maybe like having a nasty worm in your stomach pulled out through your mouth. She had seen a video of that once. Or like having leprosy on the inside that would gross out anyone who saw it. She’d rather hide her darkness than subject others to it. Her petals would have to remain closed.

Later, they talked about it some more. She took in his words, hoping he was right, but knowing that he wasn’t.

The next night, they attended a prayer meeting together. She listened in amazement as the speaker for the night spoke about… she could hardly believe it… how God opens His people little by little, to reveal the beauty that is inside them.

No way, she thought. That has to be more than a coincidence. She got excited thinking that maybe… but no. That was true for other people but not for her. She knew there was nothing but darkness inside her. She could feel it.

The next night, she had an unexpected visit from a friend. This friend handed her a vase with a magnolia bud and a red rose in it. She thanked her friend and had a nice visit, but she didn’t think much about the flowers.

Until the next day.

The magnolia bud had opened during the night – and the flower was absolutely beautiful! Somehow she knew beyond a doubt that this flower was from the Lord. She could feel His love and presence and knew that He was doing something deep within her. As she yielded to Him, she began looking forward to finding out what that something was.

It would take years for her petals to fully open. But when they did, she found out she had been wrong all along. Instead of darkness, she found Light. Instead of evil and demons needing to be cast out, she found His great love for her. She realized  her fear had been lying to her all those years.

“There’s something very beautiful deep inside you,” her boyfriend, now husband, had told her those many years ago. Now she finally knew that it was true. There WAS something beautiful deep inside her. And that something was called Jesus.