Kick Evil to the Curb

by Ronda Wells

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Ephesians 6:12 KJV

After the Columbine High School massacre in 1999, I became a hypervigilant news junkie, glued to the screen for every update. Having two school-aged children, my anxiety grew. I found relief when police began to wander the halls of their schools.

Two years later, 9/11 happened. I had walked into the hospital surgical waiting room to support a friend during her mom’s surgery and wondered why everyone was huddled around the TV. Then, along with millions around the world, I watched as the second plane hit the other tower, and as each tower fell.

One woman in the waiting room never looked up nor said a word. She knitted the entire time, seemingly oblivious to the disaster in view ten feet away. She never acknowledged it. I couldn’t believe her total lack of emotional response; and I judged her for it.

Mass shootings have become part of our collective consciousness as a country, a national PTSD of sorts. Every time one has happened, I have watched in anger, frustration, helplessness, and anxiety. And now that I have a young grandson, I wonder: What if it had been his elementary school?

Of course, I know God is in control. Of course, God is not the author of evil—we are, following our nature corrupted in the Garden. Of course, Satan is behind it all.

But then came the attack on schoolchildren in Uvalde, Texas. After a pandemic that took a terrible toll on us yet again. And I’d had enough.

I prayed for the victims and their families. I prayed for the family of the shooter. I prayed Jesus would again say, “It is finished” and descend through the heavens to end all this madness. Then I turned off the TV.

I realized all along I had been giving shooters and terrorists exactly what they wanted—my attention. I was also giving Satan what he wanted, too. I fell victim to his spirit of oppression after terrible evil happens in this world.

I’ve changed my mind about the lady who knitted through 9/11. For all I know, she was praying silently the entire time. She surely heard the news; but perhaps she recognized there was nothing she could do at that moment. She may have focused on her immediate concern for someone in surgery. Maybe she had the right focus.

We can’t control terrorists and sociopaths, but we can control our responses.

Will I still do what I can to spread the good news of the gospel? Certainly. Will I work for peace and health among those whose lives I touch? Absolutely. But from now on I will ban from my life any fear surrounding such evil events.

I urge everyone to put evil in its place and kick it to the curb—out of your life. The next time a mass casualty occurs, I will turn off the TV, pray to God Almighty, donate where I’m led, and move forward with my life.

Jesus already won our fight against Satan by dying on that cross. Our most powerful weapons are faith and prayer. Will you join me?

Do not fear, for I am with you. Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you. Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10 NASB

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the Author: Doctor by day, writer by night, Dr. Ronda Wells is an award-winning author who has written inspirational fiction for over twenty-five years. She has helped numerous other Christian writers with creating authentic medical scenes for their books. A lifelong Hoosier, Ronda is a wife, mother and grandmother who lives in Mooresville, Indiana, and loves to travel. She writes fiction and non-fiction stories that illustrate extraordinary faith among the conflicts of ordinary life. Her contemporary inspirational novel, Harvest of Hope, is currently under consideration with a publisher. Visit her website to read a bonus chapter at www.rondawellsbooks.com or connect with her via Linktree at https://linktr.ee/rondawellsbooks.

Join the conversation: How do you deal with the tragedies that have become all too common in the news?

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The Silent Warriors

by Terri Gillespie

“Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”  Matthew 5:10, TLV

Who are the silent warriors and what do they have to do with this verse? The definition of persecution is a program or campaign to exterminate, drive away, or subjugate people based on their membership in a religious, ethnic, social, or racial group: i.e., the persecutions of Christians by the Romans. That seems straightforward. I’m guessing most of us haven’t been subjected to campaigns to annihilate or subjugate us because of our faith.

“Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me.” (vs. 11, TLV)

This morning, I was thinking, persecutions are not limited to events — systematic though they may be. Persecution could also include illness, disabilities, and other physical and mental struggles. We have several examples of that in Scripture. Job, for one, was persecuted because his faith was exemplary (see Job 2). God allowed Satan to destroy what was Job’s, including his family, livestock, and eventually his health. But in the end, Job came through the trial giving glory to God.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the worldly forces of this darkness, and against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:12, TLV)

The enemy wants to rob, steal, and destroy (John 10:10), and this includes our bodies and our minds. He will use people, famine, war, disease, whatever he can. Whether we’re hit by a drunk driver to live a life in a wheelchair, or because of a fallen world we get cancer or some other disease, it may well be Satan robbing, stealing, and destroying. Isn’t that persecution?

What about believers with a chemical imbalance in the brain causing inappropriate behaviors that ostracize them from church? Aren’t these attempts to destroy? Or, at least, subjugate our bodies and minds to a life of trials and tribulations? To try to rob us of our peace and faith?

A few months ago, my mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease.

This woman taught believers about Jewish roots for over forty years in rural Missouri, mentored and discipled women who have gone on to do great exploits for the Lord. She worked with Dr. C. Everett Koop (America’s Surgeon General, 1982-1989) to get warning labels on smokeless tobacco because children were disfigured and dying of mouth cancer. She was even a spy for the Jewish Anti-Defamation League to identify white supremists who had infiltrated legitimate Christian organizations. But today, she now has difficulty reading her beloved, worn Bible. That’s robbing, stealing, and destroying — that’s persecution.

Many of the great men and women of faith, like Richard Wurmbrand and Corrie ten Boom, who were persecuted and tortured in their earlier years, were again persecuted and tortured in their mind and body in their later years. Dementia, strokes, Alzheimer —still on earth, but not really.

As I think about my mother, I try to reconcile the unreconcilable. I can’t go down the “Why” road — it goes nowhere. Her body and soul are becoming more and more confused. But does her spirit — that part of God’s Spirit inside her — rejoice and know she is blessed even in this reviling humiliation? I have to believe the answer to that question is, “Yes!”

Who is the one who condemns? It is Messiah, who died, and moreover was raised, and is now at the right hand of God and who also intercedes for us. (Romans 8:34 TLV)

Our Messiah condemns all spiritual powers and worldly forces of this darkness, and against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. He not only condemns them but intercedes on our behalf in heaven. The Holy Spirit within us connects with that intercession.

So, what does that mean to us? It means those sitting in care facilities after years of service for the Lord, are still silently serving as warriors for our Messiah. How? I don’t know how precisely, but I believe they are.

As my mother journeys this treacherous road, I need to remember that she was and still is a warrior. As her daughter I will continue to pray and speak the words of life she has spoken to others and to me, even when her mind doesn’t remember or understand. But her spirit will, her warrior spirit.

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Award-winning author and speaker, Terri Gillespie writes stories of faith and redemption to nurture souls. Her novels, devotionals, messages, and blogs have drawn readers to hunger for a deeper relationship with their Heavenly Father, because of His Son Jesus. Her newest novel, Sweet Rivalry, released in October. https://authorterrigillespie.com/terri-gillespie-books/sweet-rivalry/

Sweet Rivalry, the story of twins separated by a troubled mother. One twin is lovingly raised by her grandmother who owns a small-town bakery. The other sister is raised by an addict mother. They discover one another through a televised baking competition. But will rivalry break them apart again?

Join the conversation: Are you a caretaker for a silent warrior?

When There’s Contention

by Dr. Sharon Norris Elliott

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Matthew 5:9 NIV

Few things rattle me. In fact, the only thing that really upsets me is when there’s contention between me and someone I love. Especially hurtful is when I am falsely accused and my intentions and character are called into question. I literally do not function well physically until the matter is brought to a peaceful conclusion. I can’t eat or sleep, I get terrible back pain, and my stomach stays tied up in knots.

In Acts 15, Paul and Barnabas disagreed over whether or not to take John Mark with them on a missionary journey to check on the well-being of believers. Verse 39 says, “Then the contention became so sharp that they parted from one another” (NKJ). Get that. They were on their way to do God’s work but started out with contention and division. God’s work was still accomplished, but how much more joyous it would have been had they settled their difference and not had this negative incident to be recorded.

Only those closest to us can cause us emotional pain. The deeper the love, the deeper the hurt can be. We can only be betrayed by someone who knows us well enough to misuse the secret places of our heart. And we can rest assured that, just when we are on our way to do God’s work, Satan will slither in to scare up division—often initiated by a close loved one—in an ultimate effort to thwart the move of God’s hand.

Don’t fall for it. “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand” (Ephesians 6:12-13 NKJ).

When we are wearing the armor of God, we are looking through the eye shield, or visor. Let this visor represent God’s lens that allows us to see others from His perspective. We may not be able to prevent contentions from arising, but from inside the armor we can view loved ones as God sees them. Like you, they are precious in God’s sight even when they are being disagreeable. We can respond by doing our best to remain calm, speaking in a soothing tone, and communicating our desire for peace to prevail between us.

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

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About the author: “Live significantly!” That’s the inspiring message of Sharon Norris Elliott, award-winning author, editor, agent, engaging speaker, and licensed minister. Author of 12 books, and associated with several prestigious organizations such as AWSA, ACE, and HSBN.tv, Sharon is also co-director of the WCCW conference. She is founder/CEO of AuthorizeMe® Consulting, Coaching, & Editing Firm and Literary Agency. www.AuthorizeMe.net

Sharon’s latest release, A Woman God Can Bless, walks through the house of your life with you and Jesus. This book will help you ease open the doors of old patterns of behavior, ingrained habits, and accepted dispositions with which you’ve grown accustomed. Within these pages you will find gentle prompts that will help you let the Lord remodel those closed rooms by redesigning your thinking and behavior to line up with His will for how you should then live.

Join the conversation: How do you resolve contention?

Spiritual Truth at the Movies

by Elaine Helms

Recently we watched a really old, black and white, award-winning movie called Rebecca. It was about a young, immature woman who amazingly married a very wealthy widower and moved into his palatial home by the ocean. There were several spiritual analogies that came to mind as I reflected on this Alfred Hitchcock suspense tale.

First, the new wife reminded me of immature believers. She could not believe that this polished, successful man really loved her, since she was ordinary and not polished or glamorous at all. The matronly head housekeeper fueled this perception by telling her about how beautiful and brilliant the previous wife (Rebecca) was and how much her husband and everyone else loved her. This all added to her insecurity, making her think that she was unable to compete with this ghost of the past.

There is another spiritual analogy seen in a scene where the housekeeper whispers in her ear that she should just end the futility of it all by jumping from the window to her death. That housekeeper reminded me of the devil, the perpetual “accuser of the brethren” who is “prowling around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour” (Revelation 12:10, 1 Peter 5:8). He looks for weakness and pounces. Discouragement, defeat, and depression are just some of the flaming darts he throws at us. That is why we are told in Ephesians 6:11-12 (NASB) to take up the whole armor of God, especially the shield of faith, to be “able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.” Truly “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12 NASB).

The third parallel is to God’s love for us. The story had a dramatic climax when the new bride discovers that the widower had not loved his first wife at all. Apparently, Rebecca was an evil, vindictive woman who made his life nearly unbearable. They only kept up appearances for the family name’s sake.

This new knowledge of her husband’s genuine love for her, transformed the new bride into a much more confident and mature woman, who stood by her husband in the face of possible imprisonment. Their love was the key to both of them being transformed into the people they needed to be.

How often in our Christian walk are we like the insecure, immature new wife? Not really sure of God’s love for us and wooed by the devil into believing that we are worthless and unacceptable to God. We live defeated lives, maybe even thinking suicidal thoughts spurred on by the devil, until we finally hear the truth and believe what God says in His word, that He truly loves us (Jeremiah 31:3; 1 John 3:1, 4:16).

Like the bride in the story, we go through an amazing transformation when we live in God’s genuine, unconditional love. We can rise above the lies of the devil and stand on the promises of God. We can now step out in faith with confidence in Him. He will fill us with His power to do whatever He calls on us to do. We can now walk in the works he planned before the foundation of the world for us to do (Ephesians 2:10). We can now pray with new boldness because we know God hears our prayers. He delights in the prayers of the upright (Proverbs 15:8b).

Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask and you will receive . . .

For the Father Himself loves you.” John 16:24, 27 NASB

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: With her passion for God, humor, vulnerability and spiritual strength, Elaine Helms encourages audiences and readers to draw closer to God and live the abundant life Jesus came to give His followers. Prayer Coordinator for both the Southern Baptist Convention and My Hope America with Billy Graham, Elaine has 30 years of experience in church, national, and interdenominational prayer leadership.

Her book, Prayer 101, What Every Intercessor Needs to Know is used by thousands of leaders across the country and around the world to train and equip intercessors to pray personally and corporately. Journey through Scripture, find inspiration in stories of others, and learn simple yet effective strategies for prayer. www.ChurchPrayerMinistries.org.

March Madness

by Lori Altebaumer @Lori_Altebaumer

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.                                                                              Ephesians 6:12 NIV

Confession time. I’m a Texan, but basketball is my favorite sport. College basketball specifically, and that means March Madness as the NCAA Tournament takes center stage at our house (after God, of course).

My kids played basketball in school, and one thing that always amazed me was how passionate the fans could get. I don’t mean passionate as in “Go Team!” I mean outright nasty about the opposing team, players, and especially the referees.

These were often the same parents who didn’t have a clue about what was on the video games their kids played, or the music they listened to, or the content that came at their kids like water from a fire hydrant through the cell phones that were never far from their reach.

Eager to yell at the referees over a bad call, the players for a bad pass, or the coach for a bad play, but what about the real enemy in their kids’ lives? Where was the passion and righteous indignation then?

Satan is playing an even more important game with our children than anything that will ever take place on a court or field. One where a lot more than bragging rights or a possible scholarship are on the line. It’s a game for their very lives. He won’t play fair. To kill, steal, and destroy—that is his victory—and he plays to win.

The enemy prowls around seeking to devour our kids, and we give him a set of keys—social media accounts, cell phones, the internet—to their hearts and minds, turning a blind eye because…well, what can we do about it anyway. We don’t come out of seats, shaking our fist at the enemy, with veins popping from our foreheads, yelling at the top of our lungs for justice.

But let a referee make a bad call and we’re on our feet yelling every kind of derogatory statement we can think of.

Of course, Satan isn’t fazed by our ranting, yelling, and name calling. We aren’t going to hurt his feelings or shame him into leaving our kids alone. What he is fazed by, though, is the power of the name of Jesus Christ. And by our actions as Christians when we call on that power on behalf of our children. That is the first thing we need to do.

We yell at the players on our team to “D-up” meaning go into defensive position against their opponent. But are we teaching them how to D-up in their everyday life? Do we tell them to D-up on their way out the door to school or to watch a movie with their friends? Teaching them how to D-up for themselves is the second thing we need to do.

Then we need to constantly watch for wolves. In the basketball league our kids played in, a “wolf” was an opponent sneaking up in a player’s blind spot to steal the ball. In the game of life, Satan is a wolf lurking everywhere, eager to attack and cunning in the way he gets close.

When we yell at a referee over a call we don’t agree with, but look the other way at the lies the world is selling our kids…well, it feels a little like suiting up for the enemy’s team.

Instead of giving the game more importance than it should have, I think it may be time we get out of the stands and start channeling our anger at the real enemy who has the power and the desire to steal, kill, and destroy our children.

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March Madness and Preparing Our Kids to Face Life from @Lori_Altebaumer on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Lori AltebaumerAbout the author: Lori Altebaumer is a writer and editor who only half-jokingly tells others she lives with one foot in a parallel universe. She is a wandering soul with a home-keeping heart and a love of words and story. Lori loves sharing the joys of living a Christ-centered life with others through her writing. Now that her nest is empty, Lori enjoys traveling with her husband and visiting her adult children where she can rummage through their refrigerators and food pantries while complaining there’s nothing good to eat here (payback!). She blogs regularly from her website at www.lorialtebaumer.com, and can also be reached on her Facebook page @lorialtebaumerwrites.

Join the conversation: How do you help your children to D-up against the enemy?

How to Stop Negative Self-Talk

by Debbie W. Wilson

Who hasn’t experienced negative self-talk? Years ago, a knowledgeable guide delighted our group of moms and kids on a fieldtrip to a local historic site. But I sensed her emptiness and wanted to talk to her about the Lord. My conversation didn’t go as I’d hoped.

Accusations pelted me as I drove away, “Why did you say that? You really botched an opportunity. You’re a poor excuse for a Christian.”

Have you ever left a conversation where you wanted to help someone know God better and been besieged by negative thoughts? Or maybe you attended a Bible study and left feeling like you shouldn’t have opened your mouth.

Have you ever wondered what’s up with that?

The Bible says, “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against…the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephes. 6:12 NIV). We have an enemy who doesn’t want people to know the truth about God. When we try to grow closer to Him or tell others about Him we invite spiritual attacks. This knowledge shouldn’t scare us but prepare us.

Paul told us how to win the battle in our minds: “We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Cor. 10:3-5 NIV).

Here are two filters to help you recognize and defeat damaging self-talk.

Know the truth. Those trained to identify counterfeit money study real money. The better we know the truth the quicker we’ll discern lies. God’s Word is truth. Notice the difference between what Satan said to Jesus and what the Father said about Jesus.

Satan: “If you are the Son of God…” The Father: “This is my dearly loved Son.”

Do you know what the Father has said about you? Do you know the truth about how He sees you? When we know the truth we’ll recognize the lies.

Know the Shepherd’s Voice It’s not enough to know what the Bible says. We must know the character of the One who wrote it.

Satan knows the Bible better than we do. He quoted Psalm 91 to tempt Jesus. But Jesus knew Scripture was never intended to tempt, harm, or condemn God’s children. God’s word corrects, comforts, instructs, and strengthens us.

Do you hear a harsh tone when you read the Bible? Are your thoughts condemning and accusing? That is not the voice of our gentle Shepherd. The better we know our shepherd’s voice the quicker we’ll take every thought captive.

The better we know Jesus, the quicker we discern and defeat our enemy.

We must learn to filter our thoughts. Ideas that argue against the truth or don’t line up with our Shepherd’s voice must be captured and made to submit to Him.

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me” (Jn. 10:27 NIV).

debbie wilsonAbout the author: Drawing from her personal walk with Christ, twenty-four years as a Christian counselor, and decades as a Bible teacher, Debbie W. Wilson speaks, coaches, and writes to help others discover relevant faith. She is the author of Little Women, Big God and Give Yourself a Break. She and her husband, Larry, founded Lighthouse Ministries in 1991. Share her journey to refreshing faith at debbieWwilson.com.

Join the conversation: Have you ever engaged in negative self-talk after a conversation or contributing to a group discussion?

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Your Team Needs You!

by Sheri Schofield

“I am having insulin rushes in the middle of the night,” my husband said. “The doctor said it is not diabetes and won’t do any more testing for two months. She doesn’t have time. But I need to get this under control!”

All week long I had been directing Vacation Bible School at our church. Tim’s symptoms had started just before VBS began. Now his entire body was shaking most of the time. Tim is usually very calm, but now he was afraid.

I suspected that his symptoms had come to a head simply because I was involved in teaching children about the plan of salvation that week, and the devil wanted to distract me. So he was attacking my husband. This had happened before.

I called Tim’s mom, my best friend. “Dollie, will you please pray for Tim to get help for this medical problem, and for the devil’s schemes to be thwarted while I tell these children about Jesus?”

Dollie began praying immediately. Tim planned to go to the emergency room the next morning. Things were getting out of hand. But the next day, all the symptoms were gone! And they have not returned.

Ephesians 6 teaches us about a spiritual world that may be invisible but is alive and active. Paul writes, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12 NIV) We are mostly unaware of this reality until those deeds of darkness are aimed straight at us.

Over the years, I have learned that whenever I undertake a large outreach for Jesus, the devil attacks me where I am most vulnerable: my husband or my children have a crisis. So I am no longer surprised by the crisis when it comes. Instead, I call upon true prayer warriors to pray the crisis away. I keep my eyes on Jesus and He puts His peace in my heart while I continue on with the task. There’s no way I’m going to give Satan the victory!

Are there pastors or missionaries in your life, people who are serving God? Are there leaders who are always there for you in your time of need? They need your prayers! For everyone who ministers in the name of Jesus faces what I faced this past week. The devil is bent on distracting them from their work for Jesus.

Those who belong to Jesus are a team. Paul called those in supportive roles “partners in the gospel” (Philippians 1:5). We each have a part to play. Prayer warriors are valuable and essential assets to any leader. So join the spiritual battle these servants of Jesus face daily! Be part of their team by holding them up in prayer so that they may minister freely without personal crises to distract them. Your team needs you!

“The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” James 5:16 NIV

sheri schofieldAbout the author: Children’s ministry veteran Sheri Schofield was unexpectedly called on to save her husband’s life, a battle that took her to the Pentagon, Congress, National Security and the President of the United States. At her website, www.SheriSchofield.com, she shares this journey in her book One Step Ahead of the Devil. Sheri’s new book, The Prince And The Plan, will be launched June 1. It is designed to help parents lead their children into a saving relationship with Jesus.

Join the conversation: In what ways have you supported those in full-time ministry?

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