Battle of Loopy Lie Valley

 

peru-2287008_1920The Battle for Independence is probably tied with the Battle of Loopy Lie Valley in deadliness. As mentioned earlier, we actually need to lose the Battle for Independence. All our other spiritual battles must be won. The great news is, we are guaranteed ultimate victory–we are more than conquerors! (Romans 8:31-39).

Generals in the Pentagon name their “operations,” probably before they start. Some of the operations have cryptic names for obvious reasons. Others have names that hint at their purpose.

But what is Loopy Lie Valley, and why did I name this battle in the first place?

In a study on spiritual warfare, our pastor recommended naming our spiritual battles. I don’t recall that he explained why, but it didn’t take long for me to see the wisdom in this idea.

–The enemy (Satan) isn’t terribly creative and original. He tends to use the same deceptive tactics over and over.

–If something has a name, it’s been identified and it’s easier to fight.

(The pastor probably didn’t anticipate the fun I’d have making my different battle names sound like cheesy westerns. Here too, the more memorable the better.)

The action in Loopy Lie Valley has the potential to last for days, and often did, when I didn’t know it was happening!

So what are “loopy lies” anyway? They are those sudden negative, condemning thoughts that won’t let go–things you thought you’d dealt with long ago. Suddenly, there they are haunting and taunting you! Know them and call them out for the lies they are!

They thrive on endless loops. Don’t bother trying to analyze your way out. Applying logic to squelch them won’t work either, because another random lie will jump in and keep the loop going. The enemy will use anything in a pinch, and I’ve found he resorts to the same loopy lies or slight variations thereof.

The loop usually starts when I recall a past sin for which I’ve repented and received forgiveness. If I attempt to deal with this in my own strength (my flesh), I will get sidetracked by attempting some sort of cleanup operation (legalism)–trying again to do what I never could do outside of God’s grace–make myself acceptable to Him again. I will feel like an imposter and wnt to hide from other believers. (After all, they have it all together and I’m the only unworthy one, right?)

This lie sounds so spiritual. Don’t let the enemy fool you–it’s anything but! Remember how he quoted scripture when he tempted Jesus?

The specific weapons I use against this loopy lie are Romans 8:1 and I John 1:9. Shout them aloud if necessary and take that thought captive to the control of Christ. If legalism has crept in and I need to remind myself that I am free in Jesus, I wield Galatians 5:1.

Another lie I fight is the lack of assurance of salvation. It used to be way too easy for Satan to get me to question and worry about the fact that I was saved at age four after hearing a talk about hell in children’s church. What more vital weapon for the enemy to steal than my helmet of salvation? What better way to halt the progress of the gospel than to make a disciple apologetic about her own salvation experience?

Mentally, I put on that helmet of salvation every morning–thanking God aloud that he authored my faith (Hebrews 12:2) when I was four and had held onto me (John 10:27-29) through my ups, downs, rebellion, and repentance ever since. Lest I dare worry about the future, I often remind myself that my salvation is a done deal (Romans 8:29-30) and that God will keep me firm to the end (1 Corinthians 1:8-9).

Rehearsing the truth every morning as I don my “helmet” has made this loopy lie rare and almost laughable. If I need to use the weapon at other times, it’s close at hand. Although I’m not as outspoken a witness as I’d like to be, I am working on boldly sharing my faith journey with believers and unbelievers.

Don’t panic if the loopy lies hit!

–Know the most common ones the enemy uses on you.

–Counter them with the antidote–truth from God’s Word.

–Don’t become self-absorbed and indulge the lies–take them captive.

–If the loop doesn’t evaporate, don’t hide from fellow believers. Enlist their support through prayer.

Remember, God gives you the victory!

The War for Independence

independent-woman-3566942_1920“I REFUSE TO BE DEPENDENT,” proclaims an inspirational poster in the physical therapist’s office.

Amen. Why else would I be torturing myself twice a week and committing (more or less)to exercise at home?

Americans have always had a reputation for being fiercely independent. We celebrate the anniversary of our War for Independence from Great Britain every July. Much of our youth revolves around “growing up” and milestones such as getting our first job and our first car, then moving away from home.

That’s normal, right? Even preferable to being dependent on someone else.

We even let this attitude infect our spiritual lives: God helps those who help themselves. If you’re up for following a short rabbit trail, check out the discussion of this saying in Wikipedia. The final section, which covers how many people think this statement is in the Bible, and whether this idea is actually biblical, is fascinating!

In my life, the “War for Independence” is one of my primary spiritual battles. Winning this battle means I must lose my independence. Just as I rely on the Lord for salvation, I must learn to rely on Him for my other needs. Unfortunately, when my sin nature flares, I find that I don’t really like to be dependent on God. I want Him to be there when I need Him, yes, but I’m not wild about needing to need Him!

Does that make sense?

Adam and Eve apparently felt the same way. They opted for trying to become as wise as God. Abraham got tired to waiting for God to make Him the father of a great nation and took matters into his own hands. Satan may have been counting on Jesus to cease being dependent and submitting to His Father’s will when he tempted Jesus in the wilderness.

On my fleshly and feisty days, I dislike being a clay pot in the hands of the Potter. I’m like a terrible two-year-old, stomping my foot and saying, “No!”

But it’s the Potter’s job to make sure I learn to rely on Him and remember the good results when I do. Despite their Ebenezer stones, various festivals, and scriptural records, the Israelites struggled to remember and rely on God’s faithfulness. I journal and rely on scripture to remind me that God is always faithful and utterly reliable. As I review these and listen to fellow believers recount their own stories, the Holy Spirit strengthens me in my battle to depend on God.

I can adopt the posture of dependence more easily when I think of my relationship to God as a child to her Father. He invites us to bring our all anxieties to Him, which requires humbling ourselves under His mighty hand.

Why be dependent?

Only works done by the Spirit will last.

It glorifies God instead of ourselves.

It prevents lapsing into legalism and works-based religion.

We will grow in grace and become more like Jesus.

What better reason do we need?

Preaching to myself again!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two, Four, Six, Eight…

…who do we appreciate? If you can finish this rhyme and know the context for its use, you might be Holly Bush, but you’re definitely not Pam Green! I had no clue that it’s used by youth teams at the end of a game to cheer their opponents!

I was just looking for a clever way to approach Teacher Appreciation Week and introduce you to Holly Bush, the PE teacher heroine of The Jesus Car.

My dreams of writing mini-tributes to the teachers who encouraged my writing efforts fizzled as I wrestled my manuscript to the mat for submission on Amazon.

Why did I, named last for the team in a grudging tone, make my heroine into a PE teacher?

Holly Bush entered the world of Sully Parkway as a minor character in The Substitute, Book Two of the series, which I actually wrote first. Holly’s optimism, thoughtfulness, and enthusiasm charmed me so much that I wanted to know more about her. As I planned The Jesus Car, I “learned” that Holly was most at home on the volleyball court, and didn’t consider herself much of a scholar. She also wanted to grow closer to God and farther from the influence of a fellow named Frank. She came to Northern Virginia and landed her dream job teaching PE at Sully High School. The Lord began to refine her faith, because anybody can grow—in grace.

I survived those miserable years in PE class, bullied by classmates (and occasionally by teachers) and lived to tell a different tale. God used those tough experiences to teach me empathy and perseverance. When I became a teacher, I vowed to be like my many encouraging teachers and to watch out for the underdog.

What a blast to dredge up the once nauseating gym smells and routines and weave them into Holly’s day! Thank goodness I never had a class with  Holly’s colleagues Yolanda and Katrina! But there’s a story behind both these ladies, too. You’ll see!

The Jesus Car front cover

Meet Holly and her colleagues in The Jesus Car, now available in Kindle and paperback versions on Amazon! 

For those of you who’ve already met Holly, here’s a trivia question that you can prep in advance of my Facebook launch party in June (exact date TBA): Name at least one reason the lovely coach pictured above CAN’T be Holly Bush. 

Please don’t answer in the comments. Email your response to me at:

pam@pamgreenwrites.com

If you’d like to receive my newsletter, you can request it in your email!

 

 

 

Wringing out the Old Year

I went to bed before midnight on New Year’s Eve. I’m not into ringing in the New Year.

Lately, though, I “wring out” the old year. (No, I’m not alluding to the unusually wet year we’ve had here in Northern Virginia.)  I don’t evaluate the year as it ends and set perfectionistic goals for improvement. Been there, done that. No more.

Having a word or a scripture verse for the year–or both–is popular now. A writer could get behind that, right? Not when her internal editor transforms one word into three and insists on alliteration to boot. Imposing a verse on myself at the beginning of the year feels too much like a resolution and smacks of legalism.

Over the last three years, though, a wonderful verse has burst onto the scene of my life midway through the year. The concept would pop up in Bible study and in my quiet time, and then again in a book I was reading. What was the Holy Spirit up to?

With His help, the verse and theme of the year took hold of me in the spring or summer and ushered me straight into the New Year.  Whether  “official” or not, they were inescapable. God was working in this area of my life, and He was encouraging me to cooperate with Him so that I could grow in grace and in the knowledge of Him.

So, I am wringing the good stuff out of 2018.

Last year in Bible Study Fellowship we studied Romans. It’s a complex book, but I’d studied it before. Imagine my surprise when I stumbled across this glittering treasure in chapter 6:

We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. (Romans 6:6-7, New Living Translation, emphasis mine)

Wow! As a believer in Christ, sin has lost its power in my life! I don’t have to do what sin tells me to do. Revolutionary.

When Satan says, “You might as well give in. I won’t leave you alone until you do, but then I won’t bother you anymore,” he is lying. I don’t have to give in. Hallelujah! What freedom!

I can’t escape freedom. Sometimes God reminds me I’m free so I can simply enjoy my status, and sometimes He allows me to practice declaring my freedom by choosing to obey Him. There’s a clear purpose to my freedom, as it says in Galatians:

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1 NIV)

We are set free with the intention that we stay free. What grace! How can we not grow in it?

What word and/or verse have you wrung out of 2018? How do you ring in your New Year?

Happy New Year from Pam, Angie the dog, and Mindy the cat!

 

 

The Singing Dog Walker–Part 3

Have you missed the Singing Dog Walker? Little Angie has been sidelined over the last few weeks with another CCL tear–this time in her left hind leg. This is the most common orthopedic injury in dogs. She came through her TPLO surgery with flying colors, and today was her checkup and first rehab appointment. We did rehab before, and I was anticipating the royal welcome Angie would receive from the doctor and therapists there.

I wasn’t disappointed. As you can see, Angie rocked her “Doggles” prior to laser therapy. She did a doggie “clamshell” first thing, without being asked, in anticipation of the treat she’d get! (I would have enjoyed clamshells a lot more if I’d gotten treats with each one!)

We’ve taken short walks every day since Angie’s surgery. She attracted a lot of attention in her cone. When she started putting her foot down, her fans applauded her.

I’ve met so many nice people since I’ve become the Singing Dog Walker thanks to Angie. One lady always stops her car wherever she is and comes over to pet Angie and cradle her face in her hands. Today she crossed the street, balancing a boxed cake and a grocery bag. She petted Angie, then paused, looked at me with concern, and asked, “Are you going to have everything you need for the storm? You know where we live. Just come and get us if you need anything–anything at all.”

Angie may be a star, and I’m just her mom and dog walker. She attracts all the attention, but I often reflect on God’s goodness in giving this little star to me, and in planting me in such a wonderful neighborhood many years ago. Back then, only God knew what love and care I’d need over the last few years, and I’m still unpacking the little gifts He gives me every day. Thank You, Lord.

Angie in Doggles

 

Angie in Doggles 2