STRONGHOLD STORIES

Verna is disappointed. Her husband broke their date because of an emergency meeting at work. It’s happened before. Martin is pursuing her less and less. She wants to trust in God, but that confidence eludes her. She calls Nancy and shares her woe. Nancy says that men are like that.

Verna finds a strange solace. When it occurs a month later, she again calls her confidant and finds a receptive ear. She begins to call her more often–and pray less. What started as an occasional call becomes a mindset, then a stronghold. She now spends more time talking with Nancy than with Martin. He wonders what happened. Separation comes six months later.

Merv can’t handle the stress of work. At a weak moment, this church elder goes online and watches a porn video. He feels a tinge of guilt but also relief from the craziness of work. He finds relaxation in what becomes an addiction. Shame increases, and so does imprisonment. He shudders at the thought of telling anyone. He couldn’t break free if he wanted to–and he’s not sure if he does. It has become his drug of choice, and he is going deeper into his private world of entertainment. His marriage weakens through this substitute sex, the convenient provision of the enemy to keep him from his wife.

Jerry was in graduate school. He began taking a glass of wine before bed. It helped him deal with his anxiety. Some people can drink, but not Jerry, with his addictive personality. He had to drop out of school because of alcohol. It broke his heart, because he was counting on the promised job when he finished. He now doubts if he ever will. He found his alcohol and lost his dream. What he thought was a friend destroyed him.

In each story, lies keep them in bondage. The truth could bring them to freedom, but it either seems unreachable or too scary. When the bondage includes a demonic component, deliverance prayer is often needed to break the power of darkness. “If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin” (I John 1:7). Light connects us to others and lifts the shame by bringing forgiveness. Staying in the darkness separates us from people and keeps us in fear.

Some prefer the silent guilt to exposure and what that could mean. “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (8). Jesus said that “the truth will make you free” (John 8:32). Lies keep us in bondage, where we are partnering with the devil, whom Jesus called a liar and the father of lies (John 8:44). Satan keeps us in his territory by feeding us lies that are believable in our weakness. He uses lies to separate us from the Father. As long as we are believing the lies, we are in fellowship with him. And he tells us that coming into the light would be too great a risk. It would expose us, condemn us, isolate us–just the opposite of the Scripture that tells us walking in the light brings connections and frees us from shame. Take your pick!

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