LIAR, LIAR, PANTS ON FIRE!

That’s what we said as kids when we thought someone was not telling the truth. Then say it to Satan,  because as Jesus declared, “He is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44). As a father, he facilitates the birthing of lies–all over the planet.

 

Don’t know what we meant about the “pants on fire” part.  I do know that the devil will be “thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur” to be “tormented day and night forever and ever” (Revelation 20:10). Knowing that “his time is short” (Revelation 12:12), he wants to ruin as many Christians as he can with lies before he heads to the tank. He uses four primary weapons: accusation (bringing guilt and shame), intimidation (producing fear), temptation (luring in sin), and deception (replacing truth with lies). If we believe his lies, we come into his realm. He rules as prince of “this present darkness” (Ephesians 6:12). “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all” (I John 1:5).

 

Have you fellowshipped with Satan by believing lies?

“You don’t have what it takes.”

“You are not going to get victory over this.”

“You’re in financial trouble, and it doesn’t look good.”

“It wouldn’t hurt you–at least not that much. Just don’t tell anyone.”

“God seems to be blessing others more than you. What’s that about?”

 

Satan comes at us with the goal to change two pictures: how we view God and how we see ourselves. If he is successful, he keeps us from walking into our God-appointed destiny.

 

“Now the serpent was more crafty [read “sneaky, sinister, deceptive”] than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, ‘Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” Which interpreted means, “God sounds a bit immature, maybe even insecure. What’s he worried about? Why is he withholding from you?”

 

“And the woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die’” (3). Eve wrongly added the last phrase to the inhibition, maybe thinking God was a bit picky. So Satan went for it: “You will not surely die (in bold defiance). For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (5). He made it clear, at least to Eve, that God was withholding from them, not a kind thing. Why shouldn’t they be able to decide–like God? Buying the lie, they bit the fruit.

 

They were convinced that it would improve their condition in the garden–and it destroyed them. Satan was happy in a devilish sort of way. They were devastated. They gave up innocence, a great marriage, and number one son.

 

Arm yourself with the belt of truth. Men, expose your struggles. Only good things come from the truth: “If we walk in the light, we have fellowship with one another, the the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin” (I John 1:7). Two gifts: living connections with people so we are not isolated by Satan and the lifting of shame and guilt through forgiveness.

LIES I’VE HEARD SATAN TELL

The father of lies has an idea of which ones I might accept.  Some have enough truth to make a believer out of me.  He wants me to accept his lies, because he hates Christ with an unholy passion and doesn’t want me to find freedom in Christ and bring Him glory. This mental warfare is more about Christ than about me.

“Keep trying–but it probably won’t help.”

“You sure aren’t very talented. God passed you by in that department.”

“God has abandoned you.”

“The only thing to do now is to run.”

“You’re far better at that than he/she is.  Only problem is—people don’t know it.”

“You aren’t appreciated much.  You are being neglected.”

“God isn’t hearing your prayers.  And He doesn’t speak to you like He speaks to others.”

“You should probably tell Martha about that problem with Jane.”

“If you just tried a little harder, you would be more worthy of God’s grace.”

“You don’t fit in anywhere.  Why try?”

“You make people uncomfortable.”

“You’re demon-possessed.  You’re going crazy.  You’re getting more nervous.”

“You’re going to lose your job.  Just watch.”

“Your spouse is having an affair.”

“There’s no harm in it.  It won’t hurt you—at least not one time.”  “Everybody’s doing it.”

“You’ll never have a good devotional time with God.  You’ve tried before. It doesn’t work for you.”

“You are a failure and you’ll probably die that way.”

“People notice that there’s something wrong with you.  You’re just not like other people.”

“Church members sometimes talk about you—and it’s not complimentary.”

“God speaks to people.  He just doesn’t speak to you.”

“You’ll never get victory over that sin.”

“God is usually disappointed with your performance.”

“You’re too old.  Let the young people do it.”

“You’re the only one who can do this the right way.”  “If you don’t do this, no one will.”

WHY A HABIT-PATTERN IMPRISONS ME

.I get locked into a way of thinking and find it hard to break the mental cycle. (“I’ve always been afraid of heights”…”of getting up in front of people”…”of praying aloud.”)

.I often learn the habit early in life.  I may have been thinking this way or doing this for many years.  It seems so much a part of who I am that I feel helpless to change.

.I can trust God for many things, but I find it difficult to trust Him in the area of my stronghold.  I have little faith because I have experienced defeat so often.

.Demons sometimes attach themselves to strongholds, making me a prisoner to the enemy.

.Wounds from the past often accompany strongholds, which heighten the pain and the shame.

TRUTH SETS ME FREE

“If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free” (John 8:32).  “…be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God…” (Romans 12:2). Dear brother and sister, renounce the lies about you and about God and embrace truth! Take every thought captive to obey Christ!

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!

BREAKING MENTAL STRONGHOLDS

(HEY, I’ll be teaching this at a seminar this Saturday 9-12 at Redeemer Lutheran in Fridley. FREE–and FUN!)

“You should not be teaching Sunday School.  You’re not a good Christian.”  “You’re dumb.”  “You’re ugly.” “God is angry with you for what you did as a child.” “Most people have three times the talent you have.” “God has abandoned you.”

“For though we live in the world we are not carrying on a worldly war, for the weapons of our warfare are not worldly but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:3,4).

War is serious business. Paul uses the words “war” and “warfare” when speaking about coming against mental strongholds. This war has weapons, like any war. Thoughts from the enemy threaten to neutralize or eliminate us. The battle deals with eternal rather than temporal realities.

The power in this war is divine rather than human. People make atomic bombs, but only God can search the heart and mind and uncover the plan of our sinister enemy. We cannot fight this battle with human weapons. Paul uses the word “destroy” two times. We are encouraged to “destroy strongholds” erected in our minds, thoughts that turn to habits. Satan uses “arguments” and “lofty opinions.” He whispers to a young adult Christian woman, “You are not beautiful. You will never get married.” She fights to believe. If she doubts what God or her parents say about her identity, she may adopt the enemy’s lie. Strongholds are arguments allowed to stay uncontested. We must come against them aggressively.  Satan tries to take us out by messing with our picture of God and ourselves. He managed to derail Adam and Even by changing their outlook of God. “Did God really say?” It became a convincing argument. They bought the lie and bit the apple. Devastating!

We have weapons to come against “lofty opinions” and self-centered thoughts, ideas to contradict the truth of God. Thoughts need to be discerned and not received blindly. Satan’s battle plan is “to steal, kill, and destroy” (John 10:10a). Satan tells young men that video porn is not bad–not that bad. And he takes them out, sometimes for years, when they believe the lie and hide in the darkness. Satan has an army of demons with supernatural power and sinister intent like himself. Thoughts sent from the enemy and embraced have the power to demoralize us.

We must stay alert. We are in a war, not on a picnic. Paul writes, “We are not of the night or of darkness. So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober” (I Thess. 5:6).  Peter tells us, “Therefore gird up your minds, be sober” (I Peter 1:13).

And Paul says that “we are not contending against flesh and blood [normal warfare], but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). He urges us to arm ourselves with the armor of Christ’s righteousness so we don’t yield to the enemy. We need to learn how to “quench all the flaming darts of the evil one” (16), aimed at our minds. Our offensive weapon is “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (17). Use it, dear Christian friend!

3 TRUTHS FROM THE CARPENTER ANTS

I googled it. We had them in our kitchen–lots of them! Put out little bottle-cap mixtures of powdered sugar and boric acid. They are attracted to the sugar and contaminated by the acid. They carry it back to their village under the house. If we only kill the thirty that scurried to the darkness when I lifted the cutting board, we haven’t dealt with the other five hundred who are reproducing more ants. What they don’t know is that they spread the poison that eliminates the tribe.

So I told Joe, whom I mentor, about the ants. In his closing prayer he said, “Father, keep us from being lured by sugar and getting poisoned by a plan of the enemy, and not only endangering ourselves but those we connect with.” Amen, Joe!

My friend’s perceptive prayer revealed three lessons:

1. Satan operates through deception. He doesn’t tell us what he is doing. He hopes to trick us as I was tricking the ants. What he doesn’t want us to realize is that “the wages of sin is death”–every time. There are not some sins that are safe; sin is dangerous. Period. The father who wonders why his Christian daughter ran away from home with a creep was deceived into thinking that he was needed more at work in the evenings than eating and having fun with his family. The sin of neglect planted seeds of destruction that  shredded his family. Satan won.

2. Sin is pleasurable–for a moment.  Moses wisely chose “abuse with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin” (Hebrews 11:25). This Scripture says two things about sin: a) It is pleasurable, and b) the pleasure does not last. It “fleets.” Moses could have had his choice of any princess at the palace. He was the adopted grandson of the richest king in the world. He didn’t fall for the trap. It would have eliminated him from being one of the most powerful and influential people to ever walk the planet. The ability to entice the ants leads to their demise. Way to resist, Moses!

3. Winning means warring. “We wrestle not against flesh and blood,” but we wrestle. We put up a fight, and though it is not physical, it can be an all-out war. The minefield is the mind. The stronger we say “yes” to the love of God with consistency, the more convincing will be our “no” against the onslaught of the enemy, which often looks like immediate pleasure. Moses was given the lure, but he was able to say a convincing “no.” What a winner!

The plan worked. The carpenter ants are mostly gone. Yay! Dear young adult, dear retired man: do not let the strong attraction of sin take you out–and maybe others with you. Fight the fight of faith. Short-term pain means long-term gain. It was true for Moses–and it is true for you! A young Jim Elliot said, “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose!”

THE WRESTLING MATCH

I took on my friend Luthor. Once. He was youth pastor where I served. He had been wrestling some of the high schoolers and said to me, “Let’s go.” I was a decent athlete, so I figured I had a chance against this state champion. Wrong. When I was worn out after four minutes, he decided to pin me–and it was over.

The Bible says that “we wrestle not against flesh and blood,” but we do wrestle. I want say two things:  whom we wrestle and how. Important. Wrestle the wrong person and lose–like me. Wrestle the right person the wrong way–still lose. Wrestle the right person the right way–have fun winning!

WHOM?

Whom do you think? The pastor, the partner, the government, the boss? They can be used by the enemy–they are not the enemy. The more we fight peripheral battles, the more Satan wins. The reason the people of God are often ineffective against the darkness is because they are not engaged against the darkness. They think their biggest fight is next door, or the person at church who neglects them. Listen to yourself talk. That can tell you whom you are fighting.

Now listen to Jesus and the apostles: The “thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy” (John 10:10a). Sounds like the enemy to me. Peter wrote, “Be sober, be watchful. Your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (I Peter 5:8). He’s bent on devouring you. I’d call that an enemy. Let me say it plain: you are wrestling Satan, not saints.

HOW?

The mindfield. How you think determines winning or losing. “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” The mat is the mind. We are commanded to “take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).

So how does Satan wrestle? With accusation, intimidation, temptation, and deception.

He accuses us to make us feel guilty, so we hopefully get discouraged and lose the match. He’s so bold that he even accuses God. When going after Eve, he asked cynically, “Did God really say…?” When God bragged about Job to Satan, he responded with, “Does Job worship God for nothing?”

He intimidates us to make us run. He uses fear tactics: “You’ll never get over that problem.” “You’re a wimp, and everyone knows it.” When we agree, fear and guilt control our lives, and we are neutralized in the battle.

He tempts us like he tempted Jesus. He deceptively offers us pleasures that turn out to be prisons. Short-term gain means long-term pain. Notice that Satan does not use physical force. We are not coming against raw power; we are in a thought battle.

He deceives us by offering one thing and giving another, by telling us lies hoping we will believe him. He changes the price tags. Eve bought the lie and bit the apple. Disaster. Sin weakens us and brings us into Satan’s playground. When he deceives us into getting angry, it gives him a foothold (Eph. 4:27). When he deceives us into withholding forgiveness, we are tormented (Matt. 18:34) and rendered ineffective. He fights dirty and tricky, and the naive lose. Those who know who to fight and how will win! Be a winner!

HONEY, I SHRUNK THE DEVIL (part 2)

Part 1 tells us how to recognize the devil. Our second assignment is to…

Resist.   We refuse to accept his devilish ideas.  Peter wasn’t doing much resisting in the garden or later by the fire.  Those who recognize resist.  Paul suggests that our resistance takes the form of wrestling.  Spiritual and emotional energy is expended.  We resist, firm in our faith.  In the midst of Christ’s conflict, He “trusted in God that He would deliver Him.”  We do the same.    

Satan loves to see us in skirmishes with one another, because he can render us inoperative without lifting a finger.  We battle Satan, not saints. Our main problem is not the pastor, the president, the parent, the relative.  It is Satan who may use people like these, but is far more sinister and destructive.  Not to recognize him is to be duped by him.  Jesus said to a self-confident Simon, “Get behind me, Satan.”  Congratulations, Peter. You ended up on the wrong side.

Derek Prince, a gifted Bible teacher, once wrote, “I discovered that evil is not something, but someone.”  Evil is a person, and he IS out to get us.  People who think we are on a picnic rather than in a war will get eaten for lunch.

Resistance is effective where we have already submitted ourselves to God, so we are not tempted to think we are doing hand-to-hand combat with the devil.  We contend with his methods, not his muscles.  The battleground is the mind field (see 2 Cor. 10:5).  We need to carry every thought captive.  That is why James precedes the call to resist with the words, “Submit to God.”  Notice how Peter likewise exhorts us to humility before actively resisting the devil  (I Peter 5:5,6).  Submission is essential for spiritual power because authority does not come from shouting louder than our opponent.  

Three applications:  I once heard of a lady who got sicker every time she was prayed over for healing.  Sounds like she was subject to attack from the enemy because of a weakness in her armor.  Put on the armor, piece by piece, faith by faith.

I was attending two different prayer meetings where people were taking authority over Satan by saying “I bind you, devil.”  A formula like “I bind you, devil” with no authority behind the words will make Satan laugh.

Occasionally I hear of Christians who are being overrun by disasters.  We are expected to suffer, but we should not let Satan harass us. People who figure that life is being played out and that what is going to happen will happen are likely to be attacked.  Pray this way: “Father, I yield every area to You.  Show me any outlook where I am not following.  If Satan is the cause of these misfortunes, I resist Him.  I put on the armor so I can overcome the devil’s deception.  In the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.”

There’s no demilitarized zone in this war; we’re either for or against.  Fence-sitters fall off.  But those who stand in the authority they have as blood-bought saints filled with God’s Spirit will shrink the devil, as Jesus did.

HONEY, I SHRUNK THE DEVIL (part 1)

 

Satan is not convinced with words but with authority.  When Jesus came on the scene, He declared war on the devil and plundered his goods.  How?  First, He cast out demons.  Second, He lived a sinless life, giving Satan no room to attack Him.  Third, He died on the cross, devastating the powers of darkness.  

We bind him the same way.  First, we cast out demons. Second, we put on the righteousness of Christ. Deficiency in armor make us subject to an attack.  If we believe lies about ourselves or about God, we become vulnerable to Satan’s onslaught.  His weapons are deception, intimidation, accusation,condemnation, and temptation.  We are told: “Resist him, firm in your faith” (I Peter 5:9).   

Our most effective strategy is dying to self.  Satan was defeated at the cross (Colossians 2:15), and he is again disarmed as we die.  Jesus assaulted Satan most by doing what He came to do–die. We do the same.

To extremes when speaking of the devil.  Some never feel we talk about him enough and trace every problem to a demon.  On the other hand are those who don’t think we need to talk at all about him, some because all authority is in Christ, and others because you can’t get too serious about a sinister demon in pajamas. Peter presents a balance. In his naïve days, he was told that Satan was going after him.  He shrugged it off with an unrehearsed vow of allegiance.  Within four hours Satan worked him over.  Had not the Master counterattacked the devil’s onslaught with prayer, Peter would never have come through.  

Seasoned by service, he later gave the saints valuable information on the enemy’s tactics: “Be sober, be watchful.  Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.  Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experience of suffering is required of your brotherhood throughout the world” (I Peter 5:8,9). His two-point strategy is…

Recognize.  Sobriety enables us to see things as they are.  Watchfulness means our eyes stay open.  Peter gives us three enemy names. First: adversary.  We may think that our enemy is the person who gossips about us at church—or those secular humanists.  Paul reminds us that “we wrestle not against flesh and blood.”  One reason for weakness in the Church is that we wrestle more often with flesh and blood than with Satan.

The second designation is devil, meaning “slanderer.”  How freely he mocked the Almighty when talking with Eve:  “Has God really said?”  When God spoke favorably about Job, Satan responded,  “Does Job fear God for nothing?”  Satan likewise slings missiles of accusation at God’s children.

The third term is lion.  Peter says that the devil does not sit in a cave; he stalks about.  When God addressed Satan on Job’s behalf, He asked him where he had been.  The devil answered, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it” (Job 1:7).  As he roams, he roars.  God usually speaks in a still, small voice.  Satan tries to intimidate with his noisy growl.  Fearful saints cower before his onslaught, while intelligence forces realize that his growl gives him away.  Recognizing him prepares us to…get ready for part 2 in three days.

BREAKING FREE FROM STRONGHOLDS (part 2)

 

LIES I’VE HEARD SATAN TELL

Because Satan is the father of lies, he has an idea of which ones I may tend to believe.  Some of them have enough truth to make a believer out of me.

“You should not be teaching Sunday School.  You’re not a good Christian.”

“You’re not beautiful.”  “You’re dumb.”  “You’re ugly.”

“God is angry with you for what you did as a child.”

“Most people have three times the talent you have.”

“God has abandoned you.”

“The only thing to do now is to run,” (and a thousand more lies).

WHY A STRONGHOLD IMPRISONS ME

.I get locked into a way of thinking and find it hard to break the mental cycle. (“I’ve  always been afraid of heights”…”of getting up in front of people”…”of praying aloud.”)

.I often learn the habit early in life.  

.I can trust God for many things, but I find it difficult to trust Him in this area.

.Demons sometimes attach themselves to strongholds.

.Wounds from the past often accompany strongholds.

.FALSE ATTEMPTS TO BREAK FREE FROM A STRONGHOLD

.Resolutions. ”I should stop doing this.”  

.Extra effort, but often in an area where I don’t need deliverance.  

.Prayer, which often has little effect on a stronghold, but people may pray over their stronghold for a lifetime.  

.Religion.  I do something out of duty to earn points and convince God to bless me.  

.Criticism. I concentrate on the faults of others to deflect attention from myself.

.Self-punishment.  I get down on myself for being so stupid, for giving in to my addiction.

.Denial.  A stronghold brings so much shame that it sets me on a course of defensiveness, deception, denial, and darkness.

THE WAY TO FREEDOM    (done best with the help of a mature friend)

  1. I identify the stronghold. One way to identify a stronghold is to complete the sentence:  I’ll be okay if I ___________ (run and hide…pity myself  for my predicament…lash out in anger…
  2.  I confess my attachment to the stronghold.  I confess that I have run to this stronghold instead of to God. It has become my God-substitute, my choice, and it has ruined my life.
  3. 3.  I renounce the lies.  A baptismal liturgy reads, “I renounce the devil and all his works and all his ways.”  I declare boldly, “I renounce my dependency upon the stronghold of __________ in my life.”  The battlefield is the mind, the place where the enemy has taken me captive with lies.
  4.  I forgive others.  Because wounding often accompanies strongholds, I forgive those who have rejected, hurt, abused, or manipulated me.
  5.  I affirm the truth.  I cannot break free on my own.  I need the Strong Man to bring me into freedom. I place my trust in the love of the Father and the blood of Jesus.
  6.  I receive deliverance.   Christians can be oppressed by demons, especially when they habitually open themselves to attack by embracing lies, putting them in enemy territory.  
  7.  I am filled with the Holy Spirit.  I ask to be filled. I learn a new way of living. I discover that the Christian life is not about trying harder but trusting more. I rely on the power of the indwelling Spirit to obey God.  (pa@harvestcommunities.org to receive full message).

BREAKING FREE FROM STRONGHOLDS (part 1)

 

Most of my kids were afraid of dogs as toddlers.  Erikka was especially terrified by big barkers, and she would run to me for cover.  But on Daddy’s shoulders, she said in happy tone, “Hi, Doggy.”   Moms and dads are often safe places for children; so is God.  David wrote, “I love thee, O Lord, my strength.  The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge…my stronghold.  I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies” (Psalm 18:1,2).  

THE WAY TO BONDAGE

Unfortunately, we don’t always go to our Father.  We find other hiding places.  At first, they seem to be safe. Eventually, the “refuge” becomes a stronghold that imprisons us, and this is the way St. Paul uses the term “stronghold” (2 Cor. 10:4).

David went on to write, “In my distress I called upon the Lord; to my God I cried for help” (6).  What if he had chosen a stronghold other than God?  He might have been captured or killed. And David knew why God protected him:  “He delivered me, because he delighted in me” (18).  He embraced the truth, and the truth set him free.  Clinging to lies robs us of freedom.  They bring us into strongholds that look like safe places but are really prisons.

A STRONGHOLD IS…

.something I run to instead of God.  It is what I turn to when weak or in pain, a God-substitute, something I trust in for help. Anna learned to run to food.  Others may run to religion, sleep or alcohol.

.a lie I continue to believe.  Because I am vulnerable, I don’t realize that I am embracing a lie.  It worked once, so I continue to try it.

.something I don’t like talking about.  It shames and embarrasses me, so I hide.  A stronghold makes me feel like a powerless wimp.

.a secret, and sometimes I don’t even know the secret.  “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves…” (I John 1:8).  

.part of my identity.  “I am a worry-wart.”  “I am angry with life because of what my father did.” “I am the divorced person who is not loved.”  

.a prison that is difficult to get out of.  At first the stronghold seems like a safe place to hide from pain.

.a terrible place to run to.  It enslaves me, robbing me of peace, joy, and freedom.  

.a habit pattern of thinking that affects behavior.  The way I think is the way I live.

 

EXAMPLES OF STRONGHOLDS (and the destructive lies that can accompany them)

Perfectionism (I’ll be okay if I do everything right.  Then I will have earned my points).

Anger (People make me upset.  I have a right to get mad).

Self-pity (No one understands me; no one appreciates me).

Lust (I need a high right now, a moment of harmless pleasure).

Work (I am valuable because I am a hard worker).

Religion (I am a devout person.  I have value to God because I go to church and serve others).

Sickness (Now people will care about me and feel sorry for me.  See John 5:1-15).

Rejection (People always reject me. They don’t think I am worth anything, so I’ll reject them).

(Part 2 next. For full message: pa@harvestcommunities.org.)