Tag Archives: Satan

At the Cross

At the cross
At the cross
Satan thought he was boss

But he was defeated
Death was deftly cheated
Of its power over us

Jesus not forsaken
Our faith unshaken

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Lulled by Pride

Lulled by promises of reward
for all my good deeds
Satan seeks to get me onboard
by planting seeds of pride

‘Til I was startled awake
by the truth of my great need
for a substitute to earn my prize
by His loving sacrifice


It’s time for Quadrille Monday #2 at dVerse Poets Pub. Even on a busy day I can come up with 44 words to share. The only parameter (besides the word count) is that the poem must include the word “lull.”


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Darkness to Light – Take Two

The prompt over at dVerse Poets Pub today is to think of our words as seeds and to consider what we want to grow from what we write. I decided to share a revised version of a poem I wrote almost three years ago. I recently submitted the original version to a poetry contest, and although I did not make it into the final round I received some great feedback, so I decided to incorporate that feedback into this version.

What I hope will grow from these seeds are encouragement, hope, and faith for at least one person who is struggling today with the darkness of depression.

Darkness to Light—Take Two

Darkness surrounded me
Darkness invaded my mind
Darkness enveloped my barren soul

In the darkness
The evil one whispered
Thoughts that seemed my own
They’d be blessed without me
It would be better if I was dead

Tears drowned me
Tears flooded my mind
Tears drenched my barren soul

Through the tears
The evil one whispered
Thoughts I believed were true
I am broken beyond repair
These tears will never end

Pain ensnared me
Pain clouded my mind
Pain threatened my barren soul

Amplifying the pain
The evil one whispered
Thoughts I was powerless to deny
This pain will forever cripple me
I will never know joy

Then God’s Light
Pierced the darkness
Illuminating my soul
Revealing the sin in my mind
Proclaiming the way for me

Forgive Jesus whispered
As I’ve forgiven you
Your darkness will subside
His words are true

Then God’s Love
Dried all my tears
Infusing my soul with joy
Clarifying truth in my mind
Declaring healing for me

Live Jesus whispered
As I live in you
Your tears will be dried
His words are true

Then God’s Truth
Erased my pain
Protecting my soul
Clearing lies from my mind
Redeeming my life for me

Love Jesus whispered
As I forever love you
Your pain will be decried
His words are true

Darkness, tears, and pain
Replaced by my Savior’s
Light, Love, and Truth
Holding me forevermore
He is my Light


Filed under Blogging, Faith, Jesus, Life, Poetry

It Is Finished Even as It Begins

A new year begins today. It’s another year to live and work and play, and to make resolutions to be better than last year. It’s another year in which many will again strive to earn God’s grace and their own salvation by singing in the choir, volunteering for the altar guild, giving to the poor, attending church or mass each week, or any number of other good deeds.

But why do we work so hard to add to what Jesus has already done? Why do we try to earn what has been given as a gift from God? On Calvary Hill Jesus said, “It is finished.” John 19:30. Paul wrote that Jesus said to him, “My grace is sufficient for you.” 2 Corinthians 12:9. There is nothing more that we can or need to do for our salvation.

Even the act of believing in Jesus, the ability to have faith in His saving grace, is a gift from God: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV).

So as you begin 2013, rest in the grace of Jesus assured of His mercy and your salvation.

Go forth and sing in the choir out of gratitude for what He has done, but do not fret if you miss a practice or are unable to sing for a Sunday service.

Help out with the altar guild to share the blessing of God’s grace with others, but do not allow yourself to grow weary with the work.

Give to the poor out of thankfulness for the bounty God has bestowed on you, but do not give out of mere obligation and with resentment.

Attend church or mass because you desire to fellowship with God and other believers, and to worship the Lord in community, but not because you think you will lose points with God if you do not.

Perform good deeds as the Spirit leads, in the power of Jesus, so that God might be glorified, but don’t be deceived into thinking such deeds are necessary for your salvation.

For centuries Satan has tried to strip the children of God of the peace of knowing His love and grace. The Accuser engenders fear and doubt in the minds of believers, trying to deceive us into believing that God hates us and requires us to pay for our own sins and earn our own salvation.

But God’s Word is clear on this point: It is finished. The atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ is the embodiment of God’s love and mercy; His grace is sufficient to cover every sin and grant us eternal life with Him. Nothing Satan says or does can change this truth.

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8.


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We Were Gone Astray

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen was never one of my favorite Christmas songs, until a couple of years ago when Mercy Me came out with The Christmas Sessions album. Their rendition of this old classic is much more energetic than any I had ever heard before. I also love the back-up vocals that sound almost like a choir in the background.

As I listened to it this morning getting ready for work, I thought of one of my favorite verses from Isaiah:

Surely he took up our infirmities
and carried our sorrows,
yet we considered him stricken by God,
smitten by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to his own way
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
Isaiah 53:4-6 (NIV).

We all were gone astray and Satan had power over us. But then into the world came the Son of God, and the angels brought us tidings of comfort and joy. Now we are free from Satan’s power and can live instead in the power of the Holy Spirit. It is a Merry Christmas, indeed!

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In Need of a Mediator

I’ve just gotten to Job on my Bible reading schedule. The schedule I’m using places Job between Genesis 22 and 23, which is apparently where it is believed it occurred chronologically.

I still remember the first time I tried to read Job. I was 23, in my first year of law school, and had just been baptized in the Lutheran church. My husband gave me an NIV Study Bible as a baptismal gift. I don’t remember why I decided to start with Job as the first book I would read, but it wasn’t a good idea. Maybe I thought I knew enough about the Bible because I had attended two years of Sunday school in sixth and seventh grade and didn’t need to read the basics. At any rate, I would not recommend Job as a place to start for a new Christian.

Don’t get me wrong – I think Job is a great book. But for a new Christian, I think John, Romans, or Hebrews are all much better places to start. In terms of Old Testament, Genesis and Psalms are good places to start.

Job is one of those books of the Bible from which one must be careful not to pull verses out of context. The dialog between Job and his friends reveals how they saw the world and how they understood God. They didn’t necessarily have as much wisdom in this area as they thought they did.

But then again, we are often much like Job and his friends. We think we understand what God is up to, why He has done something or not done something. When things don’t go right we speculate that God is meting out punishment or teaching a lesson (especially if it is someone else’s trouble we are speculating about). And maybe He is, but maybe He’s just trying to show Satan that He knows us better than Satan does and that in spite of hardships we will maintain our attitude of worship towards God. (See Job 1-2). We really don’t know why a particular incident of suffering and hardship has befallen a good person.

What we do know is that God does what is just and right, and that His goal is the greatest good and the furtherance of His kingdom. He is faithful and trustworthy. His ways are not our ways, His thoughts are not our thoughts. But we are His children and He loves us. (He loved Job, too, only Job didn’t know it).

I had a nice block of quiet time to myself yesterday morning, and so I made it through chapter 16 of Job. I know I just said you have to be careful about taking verses out of context, but there were four verses that really jumped out at me. I don’t know if I’d ever really noticed them before. Chapter 9 is titled “Job’s Third Speech: A Response to Bildad.” At the end of this speech Job says:

32 “God is not a mortal like me,
      so I cannot argue with him or take him to trial.
 33 If only there were a mediator between us,
      someone who could bring us together.
 34 The mediator could make God stop beating me,
      and I would no longer live in terror of his punishment.
 35 Then I could speak to him without fear,
      but I cannot do that in my own strength.”

Did you catch that? Job thought he needed a mediator between him and God. Of all of Job’s prayers, God eventually answered this one.

We now do have a mediator between us and God, and that is Jesus Christ. Because of Jesus we no longer need to live in terror of God’s punishment – Jesus took the punishment for us. We can now approach the throne of God without fear because we can do so in the strength of Jesus and do not have to rely on our own strength. Because of Jesus we have a hope that Job lacked when he was in the midst of his greatest trials. When our hope is shattered by suffering and loss, Jesus gives us new hope and peace.

I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth. For there is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus. 1 Timothy 2:1-5 (NLT).


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Remembering Why Christ Came

I can’t believe it is the last Monday before Christmas! That means it is my last Music Monday before Christmas Day. I thought it was going to be hard to pick just one more Christmas song that is in my one of my favorites to post about today, but a clear front runner has emerged over the past two weeks, as I heard it on one of the few Christmas CDs I have in my car and we sung it in church. It is God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.

I love this song because not only does it tell of the Christ child coming into our midst, but it tells us why He came. He was born “to save us all from Satan’s power when we had gone astray.” It echoes one of my favorite passages in the book of Isaiah, one that we usually meditate on during the Easter season, but which is just as appropriate to consider during this season of Advent.

But he was pierced for our transgressions,
   he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
   and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
   each of us has turned to our own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
   the iniquity of us all.
Isaiah 53:5-6 (NIV).

We are very much like sheep. For those who don’t know much about sheep, let me just say that they are pretty stupid creatures. They will go their own way into harm’s way without a second thought. They need a shepherd to keep them safe. We are no different. Without our Good Shepherd, we will do things and go places that are not in our best interest, often into harm’s way. Obviously we are much more intelligent than sheep, and yet when it comes to choosing among multiple options, some of which are in our best interests and some of which are not, we often seem just as stupid as sheep.

Just as sheep are easily fooled by the lure of greener pastures away from the shepherd, so we can be easily fooled by Satan into what appear to be greener pastures. We are lured by wealth and fame, by fun and games, by the easy way out. The sheep venturing away from the shepherd is often eaten by wolves. When we venture away from the Shepherd we often find a similar fate of pain and sorrow.

But Jesus, our Good Shepherd, came so that we would be able to see through the lies of Satan and choose the better way, that we might know the comfort and joy of our Lord.

Here is a video of the MercyMe version of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen that I have been listening to in my car. It is accompanied by a cool light show with someone’s Christmas lights.

I also like this instrumental version played on violin, piano, and ocarina, because my son plays the ocarina. (In fact, don’t tell him but I got him a new clay ocarina for Christmas).

As you listen to these beautiful renditions of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, or hear it somewhere else, or sing it in church, remember why Christ came. Remember that because He came, those who trust in Him have the power to overcome the lies and tricks of the evil one. We have the power to live a life that glorifies God.


Filed under Faith, Jesus, Life, Music, postaday2011

The Cake Is a Lie

My son, the self-professed video game geek, has been playing a video game called Portal in which the player is trying to solve various puzzles to escape from a testing facility. Throughout the game there is a computer named Glados who talks to the player and tells him he is testing a portal gun, a device that creates a portal in a wall leading to another room somewhere else in the facility. Glados seems to be very friendly and promises that at the end of the tests there will be cake and a party in the player’s honor.

As play progresses, the player encounters rooms called the Ratman’s dens where there is written on the walls “The cake is a lie,” referring to the cake that Glados has promised. Eventually, the player discovers that Glados intends to kill him after the testing of the portal gun is complete and before he can escape from the facility. He discovers that the cake is, indeed, a lie, a false promise to try to prevent the player from realizing Glados’ real intentions.

My son and I were talking about this game the other day and he commented that “The cake is a lie” reminded him of Satan and his promises. Just as Glados promises cake at the end of the testing, Satan promises great things. But just as the cake is a lie, the promises of the devil are a lie. He promises that happiness is found in fame and fortune, in partying and drugs, in business success, or in any one of a number of worldly options. Satan makes promises to try to keep us from even trying to escape his grasp and to prevent us from realizing his real intentions of claiming our souls as his own. Just as Glados tries to distract the player from his true purpose of escaping the testing facility, Satan tries to distract us from our true purpose and goal in this life, which is to seek freedom in Christ.

As I thought about this, I realized that the apostles who came before us are like the Ratman who came before the current player in Portal and wrote the warning “The cake is a lie” on the wall. The apostles wrote the Gospels and epistles of the New Testament to warn us that “The cake is a lie.” 

Speaking of the devil, Jesus said, “He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies.” John 8:44 (NLT). As part of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus warned of liars who would come: “Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves.” Matthew 7:15 (NLT).

Paul warned that “Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness.” 2 Corinthians 11:14-15 (NIV). He also warned about those who had believed the devil. “They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator himself, who is worthy of eternal praise! Amen.” Romans 1:25 (NLT).

Peter also warned of false teachers. “These false teachers are like unthinking animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed. They scoff at things they do not understand, and like animals, they will be destroyed.”

John, the beloved disciple, warned that some who claim to speak for God would nonetheless be liars. “Dear friends, do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit. You must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God. For there are many false prophets in the world.” 1 John 4:1 (NLT).

Finally, Jude warned of those who would perpetrate a great lie upon the church itself, leading many astray:

Dear friends, I had been eagerly planning to write to you about the salvation we all share. But now I find that I must write about something else, urging you to defend the faith that God has entrusted once for all time to his holy people. I say this because some ungodly people have wormed their way into your churches, saying that God’s marvelous grace allows us to live immoral lives. The condemnation of such people was recorded long ago, for they have denied our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. Jude 1:3-4 (NLT).

We have seen the warnings. The cake that Satan and those who have been deceived by him offer is a lie. Just as the player of Portal would be well to heed the warnings of the Ratman and disbelieve anything Glados says, we would be well to heed the warnings of the apostles and disbelieve the lies of the devil.

It is possible to escape the Portal testing facility, though the player must dodge the attempts of Glados to kill them and must ultimately destroy Glados to do so. Thankfully, we do not have to destroy Satan in order to escape his grasp. Jesus has already done that for us when He died on the cross in full payment for our sins, and rose again defeating death. Once we understand that all Satan’s promises are lies, and trust in Jesus only, we are home free.


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Humbly Rejoicing in God-Given Talents

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post about The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis and what I had learned from that book about prayer habits. At that time I wrote that I had discovered a number of things in this book that would make great blog posts, and I am finally getting back to it to share some of Lewis’ wisdom.

If you haven’t read this book and don’t know what it is about, I recommend you check out my brief synopsis of it in my previous post titled “Prayer Habits Affect Prayer Quality.”

In the fourteenth letter of Screwtape to his nephew Wormwood, we learn a little something about humility. Scripture is clear that God hates pride and loves humility. We all want to be humble, but what exactly does that mean? Often we think that means we should think less of ourselves, not brag or boast about our talents to others. But the talents that each of us has are given to us by God for a reason. But the devil would like nothing better than for us to not use those talents for the good of our fellow man or for the glory of God. Screwtape writes:

To anticipate the Enemy’s strategy, we must consider His aims. The Enemy wants to bring the man to a state of mind in which he could design the best cathedral in the world, and know it to be the best, and rejoice in the fact, without being any more (or less) or otherwise glad at having done it than he would be if it had been done by another. The Enemy wants him, in the end, to be so free from any bias in his own favour that he can rejoice in his own talents as frankly and gratefully as in his neighbour’s talents — or in a sunrise, an elephant, or a waterfall. He wants each man, in the long run, to be able to recognise all creatures (even himself) as glorious and excellent things. Screwtape, pg. 71.

The “Enemy” of which he writes is, of course, God. And though this is a letter written from the perspective of a demon, it contains a wisdom about God’s desire for mankind, and each man individually, that we need to grasp hold of.

We are created in the image of God and have been blessed with skills and talents that come from Him alone. He has given us those talents not so that we can hide them under a rock of shame and humility, but that we should use them to boast in and glorify the Creator who gave them to us.

True humility comes not when we downplay our talents, but when we point to God as their source. And when we also point to God as the source of our neighbor’s talents and rejoice in the fruits of our neighbor’s labors in employing his own talents to glorify God.

An example that comes to mind is the new Christian literary journal that I contribute to at Idylls for the King. Currently this new blog has 10 contributing authors, of which I am just one. Each of us has been given a talent at writing poetry, fiction, or songs. Each of us uses that talent to glorify God and to share His love and mercy with the world. Each day when our “editor” Eden Ellis posts another one of our submissions I rejoice that the words of another are lifting up Jesus for the world to know.

Sometimes, as Christian bloggers, we second guess ourselves and minimize our own God-given talents to write to His glory. I’ve seen it time and time again, one of my fellow bloggers commenting that maybe they shouldn’t be doing this, maybe they aren’t writing the right thing. I’ve done it myself. It seems like we are trying to be humble, but is it a distorted humility, the type of humility the devil would love for us to embrace? If our humility leads to a criticism of the talent God has bestowed upon us, is it not in essence a criticism of God himself? Perhaps it amounts to a suggestion that He didn’t really know what He was doing when He gave each of us the ability to write clearly and concisely, or to understand and explain the scriptures and to share His truth.

I pray we, as Christian bloggers, would not succumb to the temptation to embrace this false humility. I pray we would instead embrace the blessed talent that God has given us, recognizing always the source of our talents as God himself, and rejoice in each other’s sharing of His truth with a world that needs to know Him.

We were created by God in His image to glorify Him. Let us reflect Him in all that we do, say, and write.


Filed under Blogging, Book Review, Faith, Jesus, Life, postaday2011

Prayer Habits Affect Prayer Quality

On the plane home from San Francisco this past Wednesday, I started rereading The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. The last time I read it was 8 or 9 years ago, and I thought it was time to see if there was something more I could learn from this classic work that I missed the first time through.

For those unfamiliar with this book, let me give you a brief synopsis. The entire books consists of a series of letters from Screwtape, a high-level department head in Hell, and his nephew Wormwood, a low-level tempter in England during the war. Wormwood is assigned to “the patient” and his task, as is the task of all demons, is to keep his patient from becoming a Christian. Wormwood fails in this initial task, and it them becomes his responsibility to deter the patient from becoming a useful and strong Christian, or to perhaps give up his faith altogether.

Throughout the letters, Screwtape refers to God as the Enemy, because, of course, God is the enemy of Satan and his followers. It seems odd that one could learn anything useful from this series of letters, but there is much wisdom regarding what to guard against when it comes to the temptations of the devil.

In the preface, C.S. Lewis makes a statement about demons that I think continues to be true today:

There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight. Screwtape, pg. IX.

As I am reading through these letters, I am noting some advice that I find particularly useful and relevant to remember. Each one could be developed into its own blog post. So for this blog post I am going to focus on just one of the letters and its advice. Then I will discuss others in future blog posts.

Screwtape’s fourth letter to Wormwood is on the subject of prayer. He first of all suggests that the patient should be persuaded to avoid the practice altogether, if at all possible. However, in the event that the patient does actually pray, Screwtape offers some advice as to how Wormwood can try to make that prayer less than useful to the patient.

One of their poets, Coleridge, has recorded that he did not pray ‘with moving lips and bended knees’ but merely ‘composed his spirit to love’ and indulged ‘a sense of supplication’. That is exactly the sort of prayer we want; and since it bears a superficial resemblance to the prayer of silence as practised by those who are very far advanced in the Enemy’s service, clever and lazy patients can be taken in by it for quite a long time. At the very least, they can be persuaded that the bodily position makes no difference to their prayers; for they constantly forget, what you must always remember, that they are animals and that whatever their bodies do affects their souls. Screwtape, pg. 16.

This passage reminded me of the many years I thought kneeling to pray was unimportant, so long as I was praying to God. Since I have started  praying on my knees each morning, I have come to realize how important this position of supplication is in bringing honor and glory to God, and in drawing me closer to Him because of the humility it requires.

Another thing about kneeling to pray is that it is easier to remain focused on God. When we pray standing or while we are driving or sitting in a chair where we frequently read or watch TV, it is much easier to become distracted or to be only half focused on the fact that we are trying to pray. Praying in any one of these positions sends the message to our own soul that communication with God is not a priority but a side thought. When we kneel, however, we are saying to God and to our own soul that we desire to give communication with God the priority it deserves.

I’m not saying that we never get distracted when we pray on our knees. I know that I certainly do, but it is easier to get back on track and return our focus to listening to our Lord. As the decision to kneel to pray is repeated regularly, it becomes a habit and then communication with God becomes a habit as well. As we put a priority on communicating with God, He is faithful to respond. Even Screwtape knew this and warns Wormwood of this fact.

But of course the Enemy will not meantime be idle. Whenever there is prayer, there is danger of His own immediate action. He is cynically indifferent to the dignity of His position, and ours, as pure spirits, and to human animals on their knees He pours out self-knowledge in a quite shameless fashion. Screwtape, pg. 17.

As Screwtape reveals, one of the most wonderful things about praying on our knees is the truth about our own condition and need for God that He reveals to us. For some, this revelation of their own sinfulness is too much and will result in less direct communication with God. But for those who truly love and appreciate our Lord, His revelation of wherein we need to rely on Him to overcome our selfish nature is a wonderful result of humble prayer.

Do you desire more direct and close communication with God? Have you nonetheless been avoiding literally getting on your knees to pray because you think you (and God) are happy with your current prayer habits? I challenge you to stop listening to the tempter’s suggestions that you do not need to humble yourself and bend your knee before God. Open your eyes and your heart to see the lie that how you pray is not relevant to the quality of your prayer life. If you consciously decide to kneel to pray each day, you will develop a wonderful habit that will draw you closer to your Creator and will cause Him to draw closer to you.


Filed under Book Review, Faith, Jesus, Life, postaday2011