Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Dialogue With The Devil Or Dialogue With Deity?

Some days, I talk to so many people, I could not begin to tell you or remember myself. I am sure you are the same way on any given day. Some conversations are just a few words; others are paragraphs, and others maybe hours long. It just depends on our time, the circumstances, and the choices we make; those dialogues whether short or long can impact us greatly. A few words “fitly spoken” (as the Bible puts it) can be like apples of gold; they can set us on track for a day that is terrific or tumultuous. Conversations can build and encourage or wreck and destroy.

Many times, I have shared the conversations of my childhood and how tormenting they have been in my head and heart. Those foul lies carved canyons of pain through the bedrock of my soul. It was not the people that meant to cause the hurt; it was the devil and his desire to permanently alter who God had intended me to be. Satan’s desire was for me to live in shadowed gullies of guilt and ravines of refuse. I had believed those lies far too long; I lived without inner joy.

As we were studying Genesis 3 in a recent Bible study, my friend, Donna, taught about Eve “dialoguing with Satan”. Eve’s doubts grew larger and larger until what she believed caused her to act out the lie she was caught up in. From that study, the Holy Spirit took those thoughts and expounded upon them until I was overflowing with truth. I had only known in word, but not in the “love that surpasses knowledge” part that grips your innermost being and rocks your world permanently. It happens when Buddy teaches or at times when I’m listening to my iPod—the Holy Spirit catapults me beyond what is said to what God wants me to know.

I am sure it is the way I was created—I have to tell the wonderful things I find, see, or am blessed with. I can’t help it! So here it goes, I must share it with you…it’s been brewing in my heart for weeks. I pray this is the time to share it, and that the Holy Spirit would have it resonate deeply within your core, that it will ring forth with truth, and that it will shake your world and clang the truth so loudly from the tower of influence you have been placed that everyone you know will know it too. It has been hidden far too long; we have been deceived for too many decades.

In the story of Genesis 3, Satan comes to Eve and speaks in such a way that causes Eve to doubt God’s goodness. Satan “acts” like he cares more for her than God did. Eve hears Satan say that she can be like God, which is a great desire, but how she goes about it shows what she really believes: she has to get it on her own—she has to figure out how to get what she wants—God won’t give it to her; she has to solve her own problems. That was a lie. The truth is, God had already made her in His image; she just wasn’t living in the truth of her own identity. So she jumped ahead to her own solutions—never even asking God what He said or what He wanted her to know! She ate the fruit. She thought she had successfully dealt with her problem, but the real problem wasn’t eating the fruit, it was doubting God and not talking it over with Him but “solving” it on her own. The mess was catastrophic. Sound like anything you do? Yeah, me too.

Sometimes, when I see or feel a problem, I then listen to Satan whisper doubts about God’s caring, providing, protecting, or loving me. I subconsciously talk it over with Satan – unaware that it’s his voice of fake care that I hear. Then I, like Eve, jump to my own solutions and make a bigger mess of it. It affects me, those around me, and for that matter all those who will come after me. It’s much easier to see the lies in Eve’s situation than in my own. I hear her wrong dialogue, yet sometimes I don’t hear my own. I get caught up in it all never realizing I shouldn’t even talk to him in the first place! He is a master at this—Jesus referred to him as the Father of lies. So what do you do?

What did Jesus do? Lets look to where He deals with Satan himself. Matthew 3 ends with this: “This is my Son, chosen and marked by my love, delight of my life.” (The Message) This is what God spoke it was His true identity. Next chapter is Matthew 4, the next thing that happens, Jesus is taken to the wilderness to face the temptation of Satan. Does Jesus doubt God or dialogue with Satan?
No, look what He does. Satan says three times “if you are the son of God, then…” His first attempt is to get Jesus to doubt His own identity. If he gets Him snagged there, then there’s no need for any further discussion. He would win. But Jesus is not snookered, He does not dialogue with the devil— instead Jesus chooses to dialogue with Deity and said what God said—He quoted God. Satan continues trying to get Jesus to doubt; he questions God’s provision—then offers his own solution, “Turn these rocks into bread.” He tries to get Jesus to question God’s protection; he tries to make Jesus doubt if God really will protect Him, Satan’s solution— “Jump off here and the angels will protect you.” Satan twists the truth casting shadows on the character of God. Jesus still doesn’t waver. So, once more Satan comes at Him to question God’s position “fall down and worship me and I will give you…” These lies are woven together so tightly they blend to fabricate lies so close to truth it is hard to separate. Jesus has no trouble, unlike Eve, He always and only did the will of the Father—He never jumped to any solutions of His own or came to the wrong conclusions of His Father’s character.

We, on the other hand, can be clueless and wonder why we are in such a mess. We dialogue away with the devil, digging ourselves deeper and deeper into the pit where Satan has lured us. He gets us on his turf of slime, and we are stuck in the quagmire. We have such problems with our identity that we usually are sidelined and out of the game right there.

If we somehow pull ourselves together enough to remember there is a game again, the devil causes us to doubt God’s provision. So we run ahead and try to provide for ourselves, which only results in trouble and plenty of it. Weaving along in with provision there is another thread of doubt: it’s the doubt of believing God’s protection and all that goes with that—fear, worry, stress, anxiety the whole range of emotions —we try to solve it with all sorts of distorted ways out.

The next thread he tried there in the wilderness was position. Whom do we bow before, whom or what are we worshipping? We bow ourselves to what others think of us and not see it is only God to Whom we answer; it only His opinion that ultimately matters. It is why the Lord said not to have any gods before Him –He knew it would only ruin us. When we please Him, and do His will, He gives us grace and strength to face giants, or He makes even our enemies to be at peace with us. We do not have to exalt ourselves or worry if we are heard or noticed, if we are recognized or valued and all the lies stuck to that way of thinking.

What if of all the conversations we had with people we became most aware of the conversations that were really with the culprit of lies, our dialogue with the devil. And what if we became committed to not talking with him? That every time his breath came our way we could smell the pollution, and our solution was what God meant for us to do—not talk to the devil but dialogue with Deity! When doubts of provision, protection, or position drifted our way, we would ask, “God what do You want us to know?” Imagine the difference it would have made for Eve. Imagine the difference it would make with us. Chatter matters—what you believe affects how you behave.

Thursday, February 18, 2010


As I saw the children giving Sunday, I could not help but remember a little girl I once knew...

There once was a little girl that had long brown pony tailed hair and bangs so short it was humiliating to even a four year olds self image. Her freckles smattered across her nose, and filled her face like stars do in the night. She wore hand-me-down dresses and old shoes passed down from older friends. This little girl had a birthday coming, and she knew what she wanted weeks in advance. She wanted her very own new doll. Not the plastic face, plastic molded hair dolls like the other dolls in her room; this was a special doll. She had a name-- Chatty Cathy. She had long brown hair that you could pull into a
ponytail, and she had freckles on her face and a beautiful dress with matching shoes but that wasn’t all-- she talked. She said things such as,”Please be my friend", and "Let's have a party", and “I love you", and "Please take me with you".
This little doll was the sort of doll she wanted to look like and have for a friend. The little girl was lonely; her brother and sister were much older and did not want to play with her.

It was soon to be the little girl’s birthday, but her mother and father were poor. Her father had an injury at work so he had to have surgery leaving them with no money. It was not the sort of thing that four year old little girls understand fully. She hoped and prayed for the doll to be hers for her birthday. But as the birthday neared, the mother feared that she would not have the resources for the doll. In addition, the little girl’s birthday was at the beginning of December - just twenty days before Christmas. The mother gently tried to help her understand the disappointment that may lie ahead.
"The very special doll is very expensive, and she may be your only present for both occasions. It would be only one present. Are you sure you want her?"
"Oh, that's okay, I know she will be very special and worth it", said the little girl, reassuring her mother eagerly.
The days came closer, and the anticipation rose higher each day.

On the Sunday before her birthday, she went with her mother to church as usual. She loved to sit with her mother; she felt comfort snuggled by her mother as if she had wings that nestled her close. She listened to the pastor. This week he was talking about needing money for the new pews. He said if everyone would give $20.00 for each person in their family, they could get new pews. The others were worn, torn, and falling down. The room bustled as fathers took out their wallets and mothers pulled out their check books from their big purses. But the little girl’s mother sat still.
"Mama," whispered the little girl, "aren't we going to give?"
"No," said the mother disappointingly, we don't have any money to give”.
"Oh," said the girl and settled back down.
Her heart was not settled though; she churned the problem over in her head as the pastor spoke.
After a long while she whispered excitedly, "Mama, we could give my money for Chatty Cathy. She's exactly $20.00!"

She was so pleased to have come up with a solution to the dilemma that had swirled in her little head. Her mother’s eyes filled with tears as the little girl spoke to her in her quiet voice. The mother’s eyes and heart were filled as she remembered the little girl’s delight as she spoke of the doll and the burst of glee when the commercials would come on the television. "That’s Chatty Cathy! Look! That’s my doll. Oh, can I have her, Mama?”
“How could she give up that doll?" the mother wondered and wisely suggested that they talk after the service was over.
"That would be a big decision," she said to the eager child. “That
would mean no birthday present and no Christmas present--no doll”.
The little girl knew her mother would not understand her choice, but she was sure that she wanted to give to God whatever it was that He needed.

Soon the services ended and they talked as the mother had suggested. "Do you understand that if you give this, there will be no doll?" After much discussion and hugs the mother let the little girl give the pastor the twenty dollars. She understood it was not for him--it was for God. The day came for her birthday and sure enough, there was no present. The little girl was satisfied with her decision and did not lose any joy in her birthday. The days ticked closer to Christmas, the commercials increased in frequency of the sweet little doll that she had desired. But no regrets were ever spoken: the decision stood firm. Christmas came with no expectations.

But word must have traveled through the tiny church or community, because somehow there was a present under that tree for the little girl--not just any present - but the doll she had wanted. She hugged the doll over and over whispering, "I got you, and I got you! You are the very one I wanted”.

Now she saw beyond the long dark hair, the freckled face and the prettiest pink striped dress with matching shoes to the greater gift, a gift from God. She knew it was a gift given up but given back by Him. It was a lesson she never forgot. The satisfaction and joy of giving all you have and shear delight of a God that gives it all back.

God didn't forget either...

He has blessed my life abundantly over the years. It is fifty years later, and I remember it like it was just this past December 5th. The joy of giving has never left me in regrets. May we never rob the joy of giving and the precious lessons that come along with it and the memories that last fifty years later.

Thursday, February 11, 2010


I have been thinking about time lately–I suppose it’s because I always run short on it no matter what I do! Not only am I short on time, but what little I do have I want to spend three ways - at the same time! I want to be in more than one place at a time; I want to be with more than one person at a time – fully attentive to them, and at the same time, I want to be doing other things. I want to multi-layer time. And the more help I have - the more time I think I have to spend. Yet I still come up short by the end of the day, and I fail to get everything finished. About the time I think I have it all in and done–time is out and then I have to start all over again the next day!

As I think about the scope of this problem, the only solution seems to be heaven. There are so many things that make heaven sound so heavenly, but lately this time thing has me just aching to be there with the Lord. Then it dawns on me–perhaps we were not made for time but for eternity–thus the difficulty with it. Some have more difficulty than others. I’m severely challenged by time and find myself almost incapacitated by it on a regular basis. I don’t understand why–I just don’t function well within its confines. I know there are those that “get it’ and “do it” well, but I am remarkably disabled by it.

I wish there were self-help programs for time-challenged individuals who see their need for reform. We could have weekly meetings, synchronize our watches, and encourage each other with our motto of “Time is like money. Spend it wisely”! Seriously though, I believe we were made to operate on “Garden” time. Do you think God put clocks in the Garden of Eden? Nope, no mention of them! I think some sadistic person with legalistic tendencies must have invented time keeping pieces. What easier way to hold fellow humans to such an inhumane standard. So, I think maybe instead of feeling badly about this condition I have, I need to feel more in tune with heaven and maybe even allow myself and others to be on garden time–especially at times when it probably doesn’t matter quite so much. I think the devil himself pushes that clock hand around faster and faster everyday, leading us to fear that we are more and more behind and ineffective until we throw our hands up in despair being totally disabled and defeated.

However, if I look at the situation through my new “Garden time” glasses, I believe the important thing is to take time to walk with God, hear His voice, and enjoy what He has made. Perhaps that is where I find I am whole and discover the peace He gives that makes operating in a fallen world a little more doable; maybe that’s why we started in a Garden. Maybe along with the sinful Adam part, we have just enough of Adam left in us that aches for the Garden, and there is a hint of memory left in us that knows we need that walk and talk of Garden days. And perhaps instead of thinking that it’s Satan pushing the clock–it’s really God hurrying it along. The sooner we are with Him, the sooner things and people will be what they were meant to be! Maybe it’s His love and desire for us that is rushing this time along so swiftly. Maybe as we ache to be in the Garden–He is aching for us, as well. Do you feel it, too? Or is it this new “age of old” that is cranking the time by at breakneck speed and I have not adjusted yet? One day I will hear “…and time shall be no more” and I will have all the time I need–I will finally be in sync with what I was made to be and where I was made to live. In the mean time, I am working on it and looking for the book Time for Dummies - has anyone seen it? Let me know……