The Power of Truth Destroying Lies

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{I encourage you to first read my previous post, I believe Jesus….but I really believe Satan.}

“Christina, look at me. Look at me!”

The shame I felt from believing lies is too much that I can’t hold Brett’s gaze.  He takes my face in his hands to force me not to look away.  His face is blurry since the tears can’t stop and I’m shaking.  I know what he’s about to do. Because the roles have been reversed in his moments of being overcome with lies and fear.  He drops his hands and opens his Bible and starts reading in Psalms.  He reads one chapter, then another. He doesn’t stop. My tears do. I take a deep breath. My body relaxes in his presence and my Father’s Words. Calmness. Peace. Brett finally stops after he senses an evident change in my demeanor from being free of the tormenting lies.    

He holds me. Prays. Then lets me rest. The Truth pushed out the lies that were swirling throughout my mind like Hurricane Irma on her way to destroy Florida.

When you are at the end of your own strength…when you are so low that you can’t do anything but look up…when you want to give up fighting…give into Satan’s temptations…you do the only thing you have the strength to do in that moment…cry out to Jesus. So I did. And because there is power in the name of Jesus, I said His name over and over and over again.

My strength starts to return as I whisper His name.  “I can’t do this anymore. I can’t live like this. Get up, Christina!  You know what Satan is doing!  You know these are lies!  Yes, I’m done with his games!”

And so I got up. There is one answer…Truth.  I have to start living out what God says to be true. Even if right now in this moment I don’t really believe it because my actions are not in sync with who God’s Word says I am. There came a turning point when I finally understood that my mind needed to be renewed or I would never change my behavior. Oh, I have Romans 12:2 memorized, “…be transformed by the renewing of your mind…,” but as I wrote in my previous post, my practical theology on this truth was not being applied. Then began my quest for really believing Truth. Being consumed with it. Hungering. Thirsting. More and more. The Word of God coming alive right off the pages of my Bible every time I opened it…

And here started my quest for  Truth…wait for it…reading the Bible every day. What? No way, Christina!?”  Ok…I’m being sarcastic but answer me this: Do you really believe that the Word of God has answers for every question? Circumstance? Problem? Temptation? Wound? Joy? Peace? Hope?  Because if we really believed it… we would be consumed daily, hourly with it.  No, we don’t really believe this to be true: 

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness.” 2 Timothy 3:16

AddictionsABnqtinGrvBook_1Remember what Edward T. Welch says in Addictions: A Banquet in the Grave“When our desires conflict with Scripture, human beings do not always live according to what we say we believe. We can say we believe one thing, but our lives betray other allegiances…It’s as if we practice two different religions. We believe one thing, but really believe another.”

We say the Bible has all the answers, but our second religion has become Google. Social Media. News. Pinterest. Friends. Celebrities. Health and wellness. Programs. Pastors. Literal Religion. Speakers. Bloggers. Books. Movies. Music. Coffee (yep for all you “I need Jesus and coffee” peeps 😉 ) …on and on…

Even if these mediums are saturated with the Word of God, they should only be supplemental, not our primary source to find Truth. Our actions reveal who we believe by who we choose to listen to first. And if opening up the Bible is not our first response, then we really don’t believe that it gives us “all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him” (1 Peter 1:3).  Many of the above have been an influence in my growth and learning more as I seek Truth (which you will see as you continue to read), but it can never replace the actual, literal words of God.  His words only have power, no other words.

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Also, if we believed this to be true, reading the Bible wouldn’t be on our daily to-do listAs my pastor recently said, “Duty is not delighting.” Before, I read it out of duty.  Now, I read it because I am convinced that I cannot live without it.  Because in order to overcome lies I have to know who Truth is… His character. The more I look at Him and know Him deeply and passionately, the more I can perceive the lies and deceptions…the distance between light and darkness…and the gray in-between that Satan uses to cause us to doubt. 

One way that has helped me is journaling.  At the start of the summer, my mentor challenged me to read through Psalms. I actually had already been reading a Psalm a day for a couple of years now.  However, she said to specifically journal what each Psalm says about who God is. Writing it down helps me comprehend and apply the practical theology of Truth instead of only reading and moving on. I pray over each Psalm, praising God for that specific character trait, thanking Him for what He has done, and applying the words to my own circumstance, temptation, fear, lie. 

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It’s easy to read, pray, and then rush on to the next thing in my day and fail to take the Truth of what I learned with me.  Therefore, if I need to soak in and be reminded of a particular passage, I leave my Bible open to that page on my bed.  If you are like me, my bedroom tends to be my escape room.  If I need to get away, take a deep breath, have a good cry, “hide” from my children (even for 1 minute!)…you will find me there.  And how much encouragement, hope, and refreshment I have found when I walk in my bedroom and see my Bible open. His words bring comfort and focus. I can walk out ready to fight again. 

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“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Psalm 119:105

IMG_4771I also set my phone lock screen to Scripture memes that I need to renew my mind with when I’m struggling with a specific lie and need reminded of the Truth.  

I previously wrote a post that we cannot do life alone.  When the lies become too much to bear, someone else comes to my rescue by speaking Truth over me and releasing me from the black mesh of darkness.  The example story of Brett at the beginning is real. And sadly has happened more than once. Yet, I have felt the power of God’s Word in my darkest and lowest moments as Scripture is being read over me. Light shows up more in darkness, and since Jesus is the Word (John 1:1), I have felt Him there with me.   

We need each other to be vessels of speaking Truth.  My relationship with my mentor has grown significantly as we have made it our goal to try to meet every other week.  I pour out my heart and share my struggles, temptations, sins, victories, lessons God is teaching me, etc.  And yes, as a more experienced woman who has walked in my shoes before me, she shares her own life lessons. But these times together are not a vent session and for her to pat my hand and tell me she understands. Her response is always first bringing me to what the Word says. She immediately opens the Bible to a passage, turns it around and tells me to read it out loud. This is what God says. Period. No ifs, ands, or buts. She knows it’s the Word that will change me. Not her words.  No matter what we talk about, she constantly brings me back to Truth. And I always leave her home with peace, hope, and confidence to keep up the good fight.

Not only having someone fight for me by speaking Truth over me, but turning around and speaking it back to someone else has tremendous power over lies. When I speak or write it out, I hear it again. It makes it more real and alive than keeping it only in my head. This is another reason I journal and even blog. Journaling is where you can be real and raw with God. No one reads it. Only Him and He listens. In fact, the Spirit speaks to me often as I’m journaling.  Many times my entry starts with frustrations, fear, struggles, confessing of sin, and ends with a revelation of truth, hope, peace, and thanking and praising God for who He is and what His Spirit is doing in my heart and life. This is how David wrote many of his Psalms. If you take a peek, you’d see that some of my journal entries look like modern day Psalms. (Read Psalm 22 as an example.)

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“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?” Psalm 22:1

And when I sit down to write a blog post, it brings so much healing to me because I’m recalling to mind the Truth of who God is and what He has done. This is why I write. I have thought of making something more of this blog, whether trying to monetize it, hone in on writing about something specific (I laugh because it’s called Varvelicious because my original plan was to write more about nutrition… for those of you wondering about the name!), promote myself, “sell” it to get more readers… ya know… make myself a “real” blogger.  But if you read my post, I’m Giving Up, God has told me no and to just write as He tells me to. And I know why. Because this is a crucial part of my sanctification process.  Yet, I am humbled with the response of those that read my posts and how God has used them. Therefore, my goal is for my writing to be saturated with Truth, and I pray that lives can be encouraged as I am a vessel to type out His Words on my laptop.

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“I will declare your name to my people; in the assembly I will praise you.” Psalm 22:22

Reading, writing, and speaking God’s Words has renewed my mind with Truth and ultimately changed my actions. Yet, when I’m lying in bed and can’t sleep, or I’m driving, or a child is throwing a fit, or a trigger of past pain hits in an unexpected way, or Satan is dangling temptation in an area of weakness, I may not always be able to get my Bible out and find the Truth that needs to attack the lie, fear, doubt, or temptation in that moment. This is why memorizing Scripture is crucial. Jesus is the ultimate example of recalling Scripture to mind when Satan tempted Him in the desert (Matthew 4:1-11).  The more we hide it in our hearts, the more we will be able to apply practical theology to our everyday lives, and therefore not sin (Psalm 119:11).   

Therefore, my mentor has inspired and challenged me to get back to memorizing.  I write passages on cards that I can take around with me to read over and over. Then, when I’m lying in bed beating myself up for the mistakes I made that day, or I’m driving and my mind can’t shut off from fear or doubt, or I want to…um….yell back and lose my temper at my child, or I’m about to give in to that temptation that I can easily justify, the Word of God comes to mind and fights for me! The power of Truth wipes away my guilt, chases away my fear, reminds me I have access to the fruit of patience, and gives me strength to violently say NO! and walk away from sin.   

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“I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” Psalm 119:11

My mentor’s example of memorizing and immediately speaking God’s Word to me is an example to follow.  Now, when I have a friend share her struggles, fears, temptations, or lies, I want to be able to do the same for her. Not a paraphrase of what I remember or think the Bible says, but “this is exactly what God says.” We can never argue with that.

FullSizeRenderAnd I have found this to be true when a dear friend recently asked for prayer over a situation. In the past, I know I have failed by initially responding with my own words, experience, and emotions (which can be helpful)! But now I first try to respond with Truth from God’s words, not my words.  Later, she told me how my text with Scripture influenced her to make right choices in a conflict she had to face that day, which she was extremely nervous about.  In fact, she screenshot my text to pull it up immediately when she needed it.  And I can walk away humbled that it is the power of Truth and praying Truth over her that won that battle!

These are only a few examples of the ways that I seek and thirst after Truth. I also read books that expound God’s Word, listen to worship music, play podcasts of sermons, worship dance to music that is speaking to me, and read inspiring blogs.

It’s more than listening. It’s more than duty.  It’s being consumed. A constant state of  hungering and thirsting. Not being satisfied with anything else except His Word. The more Truth I really believe, the less I believe lies because I can clearly decipher the deception from Satan that he is flooding my life with everywhere I turn.  The light of Truth shines out the darkness. It’s obvious. Not murky like Satan makes it to trap us.

And once Truth comes alive, you find yourself wanting nothing to do with darkness. You turn on the TV and instead of staying immune to it all, you find it hard to choose anything to watch that will bring life when it’s filled with sex, profanity, or glorifying lifestyles and behaviors that do not stand with Truth…

You are drawn to friendships where you spend more time talking about Jesus than the latest gossip…

You hear stories of another fetus aborted, a child sex-trafficked, porn statistics, poverty, orphans, abuse, murder, riots, souls in need of Jesus…and you can’t help but stop to cry out to God for justice and mercy and then go do something about it to show the love of Jesus…

Instead of being numb to the sin in your own life, repeating them over and over, you are weeping at Jesus’ feet over the things he hates and making decisions to do whatever is necessary to repent even if it hurts…

And the next time temptation knocks at your door, you are ready. In fact, you can already determine Satan’s next move. He’s been around since the beginning of mankind. Our struggles are nothing new to him. But now that I am committing to really believe Truth and understand Satan and his darkness better than ever up against the light, I’m ready for his next lie. His next beautiful enticement. I no longer want to be on the floor in defense mode with my arms over my head as he attacks.  My battle plan is standing  in offense with the Word of God in my mind, my heart, my hand, my home. 

This is evidence of the power of Truth attacking, fighting, destroying the black mesh of lies, deception, and fear with a vengeance. Violently. Fervently. Urgently. Warrior-minded.

So get up, friend, and stand with me. Because the devil then has nothing left to do but flee… when we have submitted ourselves to Truth (James 4:7).

“Then I can answer the one who taunts me, for I trust in Your word.”  Psalm 119:4

{Part 3 to come.}

 

 

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I believe Jesus…but I really believe Satan.

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I sat in my seat in the dark basement theater.  Three girls dressed in black walked out on the stage and it went quiet.  They lay down on the cold cement floor and covered themselves with a black mesh sheet.  I leaned forward in anticipation for the dance to start.  I whispered something to my friend sitting beside me, who co-choreographed the beautiful piece of art that I was about to see.  I smiled over at Brett, excited that he was with me.

We were in a theater on Mass Ave in downtown Indianapolis, for IndyFringe, a festival for theater arts. What may surprise you is that I actually considered auditioning to perform in this dance.  I wasn’t able to commit this summer, so here I was supporting my friend and thought it would be a fun and different date for Brett and me.

The music started. The dancers moved. And within minutes I was captivated.

This wasn’t just a dance. This wasn’t just art. This was spiritual.

The girls dressed in black were tormenting a girl while she slept. She dreamed of death. Fear gripped her. She was overcome by the black mesh that trapped her. She was almost paralyzed, tossed around as she was held captive by Death. Darkness. Defeat.

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The girl dreamed of other girls like herself. Lost. Dry bones dead (Ezekiel 37). No life.

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Then girls dressed in white appeared. They brought Life. Light. Hope to all the girls. Life wins over Death.

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I sat there mesmerized.  This was the gospel of Jesus Christ demonstrated through dance, which is the passion behind Elisha Movement Christian Dance Company (EMCDC). It was a reminder that I am alive in Christ. I am no longer dead in my sin, which separates me from God. Jesus died and then became alive again to conquer death, and because of that, I have life for all eternity with Him.

But since art is interpretive, I heard the Spirit speak to me in a more specific way than death coming to life through the love and sacrifice of Jesus Christ…

The black mesh was Lies. Deceptions. Doubt. Fear. The imagery of the mesh trying to hold the dancer captive hit me so hard.  As my eyes couldn’t look away for even a second in fear of missing a move, my mind was racing throughout the dance:

“That’s me. Yes, I know how that feels! The lies and the darkness are horrific. It’s suffocating. I have felt paralyzed by fear. Look at her face. If this was real life, she would be screaming right now. Because I have definitely screamed in my pillow.  She’s covering her head from the tormenters. The lies can be so loud sometimes it’s deafening and all you can do is try to hide. But they won’t go away. She’s not getting up! She’s not fighting. She’s being carried as almost dead. She’s lost hope because she’s been deceived.”

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I knew then why God told me to pass up the audition. He didn’t want me dancing on the black floor, He wanted me sitting in the red chair to speak to me.

The dance didn’t end there. If it did, we’d all be lost. I’d still be a heap on the floor where Brett has found me with my hands over my head overcome by the lies that are shouting so loud that I can’t hear anything else. And I can’t get up because I am believing lies about myself that are completely contrary to the truth of who I really am in Jesus Christ: Alive. Dead to my sin. Forgiven. Loved. Redeemed. God’s daughter. Accepted.

Oh! But here enters three dancers in white on the stage, representing the Trinity (Father God, Jesus, and Holy Spirit).  My own words stop in my head as the power of the Spirit speaks through the dancers moves to say, “Christina…this is Truth. Truth always defeats Lies. Truth sets you free from the mesh of darkness. Truth prevails against deception. Truth is louder than your fears. Truth helps you breathe. Truth raises you up. Truth fights for you!”

I held myself back from weeping from the Spirit’s refreshing voice.  I’m quite the emotional/sensitive type, but in this moment I didn’t want to miss anything by being clouded with tears.  By the end of that 45 minute performance, I felt different from when I first leaned forward in anticipation expecting to only watch the art of dance.

I stood up from my red chair. I hugged my friend. I left the basement theater. I walked along Mass Ave, passing people on this busy Saturday night as other IndyFringe performances were ending.  I sat in the car and the tears then came as I shared with Brett what the Spirit said to me through each movement.

You see, I know the Truth of who I am. I’ve been hearing the Truth of God’s Word since I was in the womb of my mother. I’ve heard all the Bible stories as a kid. I’ve memorized hundreds of verses for church programs and school assignments. I’ve read through the Bible several times. I have been going to church every Sunday since the first time my parents brought me as a newborn. I have heard sermon after sermon from a variety of pastors and teachers. I went to a Christian school from kindergarten to 12th grade where Truth was taught in Math as well as Bible class. Ok, you get my point.  But I need you to realize that God’s Word has saturated my entire life.

Then why? Tell me why do I sometimes reject the Truth of what God says about me and I find myself in such torment from lies like the dancer above? 

In his book, Addictions: A Banquet in the Grave, Edward T. Welch asks the same question regarding a friend, who like me is not living out what he believes:

“How, then, could he believe correct theology and at the same time not believe it? How could his everyday theology – his actual or practical theology – be so contrary to what he recited in church on Sunday?”   In my case, be so contrary to what I have heard and known to be true my whole life.

How then?  Edward T. Welch answers by saying I have “no practical theology.” Practical theology is “simply theology in action. It is the application of theological teaching to life. It is asking, ‘So what’ of our theological propositions. What difference does it make that I am united with Christ…What difference does it mean that I am created in God’s image? All theology is practical theology, but some theological statements are still waiting to have many of their applications unpacked.”

Christina’s layman terms: I know what the Bible says about me.  I choose not to believe what it says, and therefore, do not apply it to my daily life. 

And furthermore, he continues: “When our desires conflict with Scripture, human beings do not always live according to what we say we believe. We can say we believe one thing, but our lives betray other allegiances… It is as though we have partitions in our minds where contradictory beliefs and behaviors live in separate compartments and never meet…It’s as if we practice two different religions. We believe one thing, but really believe another.”

I believe the Truth. But in some moments, I really believe the lies.  And because I really believe the lies, my thoughts betray the Truth and my actions follow based on those lies.

And that’s when I find myself paralyzed, wanting to give up fighting this fight. Hide and not let people too close. Doubt what God has called me to do.  Stop loving when it’s hard.  Stuck in past sin and fearing the future which causes me to escape my present reality. Fallen, and truly cannot get up as Brett carries me.

Which then makes me ineffective. Apathetic. Lukewarm. Selfish. Exactly where Satan wants me. He and his rulers of evil are cheering, “Yes! Another one down for the count!!! Let’s keep it up. Don’t let her get up!”

I am not really believing Jesus who is…

Truth (John 8:3)

Creator of All (1 Cor 1:16-17)

Alpha and Omega (Rev 22:13)

Son of God (Matt 3:17)

Good Shepherd (John 10:11)

I Am (John 8:58)

Immanuel (Is 7:14)

Lion of the Tribe of Judah (Rev 5:5)

Mighty One (Is 60:16) 

Bread of Life (John 6:35)

Resurrection and the Life (John 11:25)

And when I am not believing Jesus, I am really believing Satan…

The father of lies (John 8:44)

A lion who is prowling around to devour (1 Peter 5:8)

A deceitful serpent (Genesis 3:1)

The god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4)

A murderer (Revelation 9:11)

An oppressor (Acts 10:38)

An accuser (Rev. 12:10)

That cuts me so deep. That I am willfully making the choice to believe Satan.

How does this happen? Why do I choose to believe a liar, murderer, oppressor? 

Because his weapon is to constantly be filling my mind with thoughts that are against the Truth.  Neil T. Anderson in his book, Victory Over the Darkness, says “Satan’s strategy is to introduce thoughts and ideas into your mind and deceive you into believing they are yours. If Satan can place a thought in your mind -and he can- it isn’t much more of a trick for him to make you think it is your idea. If you knew it was from Satan, you would reject the thought, wouldn’t you? When he disguises his suggestions as your thought and ideas, however, you are more likely to accept them. That is his primary deception.”   

Whoa. That should stop us in our tracks. If we were actually sitting across from Satan and hear him speak to us, we would run. Not even give what he says a second thought because we see in the Bible who he really is (listed above).  However, what an excellent war plan to subtly whisper a thought that I do believe comes from me. And since I struggle with pride and thinking of myself more highly than I ought to (Romans 12:3), of course I don’t think that my thoughts are initially that bad.  Usually the first thought seems “innocent” or at least I can justify it really well. It doesn’t look sinful. But whether it is a bold-faced lie or a twist on the truth…Satan’s already on his way to deceiving me.

“If Satan can get you to believe a lie, you can lose some element of control in your life. If you fail to keep every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Cor. 10:5), you may be allowing Satan to influence your life in a negative direction,” Neil T. Anderson continues to say.

When a thought comes into my head and I don’t immediately evaluate it but believe that thought, Satan then has power over me. And that’s when I am on a path of destruction. Like a snowball effect. 

One lie…

I am left out and alone…

That person rejected me and therefore I am a failure as a friend…

leads to more…   

My past sin defines me…

I’ll never overcome this sin. It has a hold on me…

I can handle this temptation… 

and even more…

I am not satisfied so I need more of ________

If only I had _______ I’d be happy…

I need to try harder, do more, be more for God…

…and before long there are so many lies that have built up that everything is dark and gloomy and my attitude and demeanor soon follow; I lose discernment and make wrong choices; I’m paralyzed, hiding, doubting, fearing….

because I’m believing a murderer whose one goal is to intimidate me and hinder any impact God can have through me.  That is the truth. And I better start really believing it, so that my action response is attacking these lies with a vengeance. Violently. Fervently. Urgently. Warrior-minded.

You wanna fight, Satan? Let’s go. Your battle weapon is deception…my weapon is gonna make you flee so fast you’re gonna wish you messed with someone else…

{Continue reading Part 2.}

*Pictures are from scenes in EMCDC’s debut show “Lilly of the Valley.” Photo credit: Charles Borowicz.