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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Preaching to Myself: 99 Sheep Syndrome

sheepI memorized Psalm 23 in Vacation Bible School when I was seven. In the King James Version, of course–that’s all we knew. I earned a plaque of the psalm, but the gift I appreciated the most at the time was a Barbie doll! In high school, our choir learned an anthem called The New 23rd. It was based on the Living Bible version, and it’s beautiful. So is the classic Scottish hymn I discovered later.

My point? I’ve known this beautiful psalm most of my life–almost too well.

Psalm 23 was paired with Luke 15:3-7 in a reading this morning, and I almost opted for another passage because of their familiarity.

I’m glad I didn’t. The two passages stewed in my heart along with yesterday’s sermon.

I don’t know if I’m sheep number twelve, or number ninety-nine. But in the story in Luke reference is made to The Ninety and Nine, I’ve called the syndrome I suffer from “the 99th Sheep Syndrome.”

A not-too-recent Sunday sermon was a rousing reminder of our primary mission as Christians: seeking the lost sheep, aka number one hundred. The pastor admitted that the destiny of those who don’t know Christ is a hard truth to swallow, and he even reminded us of ways we cope with the truth that those without Christ will be separated from God eternally, in hell: we ignore the truth, we try to rewrite it, we believe it but do nothing–or we do something about it.

I wander between the do-nothing believers and the doers. I think part of the problem is the fact that I sometimes suffer from 99th Sheep Syndrome! Much of the herd is right there with me, scampering and bleating around the shepherd’s feet. “Baa! Baa! Look at me! Feed me! Listen to me! Hold me!”

Maybe we 99 Sheep Syndrome sufferers forget that we’re supposedly seasoned, mature believers. We like to ride on the shepherd’s shoulders and be coddled and celebrated. (Here’s where the sheep analogy breaks down a bit. Hopefully, we’re not quite as dumb as sheep are reputed to be.) The reality is, though, that we really (should?!) know how to feed and care for ourselves. We shouldn’t require the constant care of our leaders and our Shepherd. We have work to do.

The wonderful news is this: because of Who our Shepherd is, He doesn’t need to look at us, attend to us, or know us more. He already knows us fully, inside and out. Attending to the 100th sheep doesn’t diminish His attention to us one iota! He never fails to provide banquets, streams, fresh green grass, and healing oil.

Assured of his completely adequate protection, we can stop our bleating and look at Him, attend to Him, and learn to know Him more!

He’s chosen us to help search for the lost sheep! When we do bleat, may it be, “Baa! Use me!” 

Preaching to myself today!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Teacher’s Journey: Meet Cassie Franklin

Remember that old saw, “Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach”?

Chances are, you’ve been tempted to think that from time to time about a teacher, but probably not often enough to justify the saying. Cassie Franklin, the main character of The Substitute,  deserves a bumper sticker on her car proclaiming, “Those who can, teach.”

I’m proud to introduce Cassie and have you share in her professional and spiritual journey. Here’s a sneak peek at the back cover copy of my latest release, The Substitute.

 

She has a foolproof recipe for success and even shares it with others.

When her family moves, seasoned home economics teacher Cassie Franklin never dreams she won’t land a job in a school district known for hiring the crème de la crème. But when the first day of school rolls around without an interview, she begins to worry.

A call to substitute at Sully High School just might be her lucky break.

Or not. Sour staff members and a butchered budget sabotage her every move.

Under increasing pressure, Cassie fights to prove she’s still a professional. Can she tweak her cherished formula for success before becoming a total flop?

The Substitute is Book Two in the Sully Parkway series and is best enjoyed after reading Book One, The Jesus Car.

Now available on Amazon in Kindle and paperback versions!

The Substitute final ecover

The Dog Walker Sings for Joy

No, not “dings,” I wrote, “sing.” I started writing this post in my head, and when I hit the keyboard, auto-correct dictated my first line for me! But it couldn’t have been more appropriate…

I won’t start with the ding, though.

It’s been months since our Sunday service was snowed out and our pastor issued the #phil4challenge in his Facebook Live sermon. We had 21 days of devotions reminding us to: choose to be joyful, pray with thanksgiving, think on noble things, and repeat daily. Of course, the “repeat daily” meant the Lord would be assigning plenty of homework! “Anybody can grow in grace”–even me. Even you.

But first, we make mistakes–dings.

Last Sunday morning I had a lot on my plate and left Angie at the sitter’s house before going to church. After church, I wasn’t hungry, so I thought this might be a great time to strip the kitchen floor. Enough with the waxed-on dirt! It couldn’t take more than an hour, could it?

For inspiration, I started playing the long-time AWOL Young Messiah tape I found.  Great beat and immortal words. I opened the front, back, and deck doors and moved most of the stuff out of the kitchen and into the hall. I re-read the directions to the stripping product. Chemical-resistant shoes? Who knows? I ran upstairs and put on a pair of rubber-soled shoes I didn’t like. Mindy the cat was safely ensconced on my pillow. Goggles? I had some downstairs but didn’t want to bother. I needed my reading glasses, and they have big lenses. Good to go! Ding!

mop and bucketApply generously. I used dollar store mops suggested by the clerk at Home Depot.

Ding! Don’t allow to dry before mopping up. Or something like that. I minced over the floor and worked from windows to doorway, hoping I wasn’t leaving tracks with my Bigfoot shoes.

Whew! That smell is strong. Better turn on both ceiling fans. Upstairs, Mindy had left the pillow. Under the bed. Would the fumes be less toxic for her closer to the ground? Not sure.

Ding! Ding! Do not allow to dry before mopping up. The stuff sure was tacky. And the fumes were strong.

One of God’s growth lessons for me has been asking for help. Little 9-pound Mindy needed help even more than I did. I should get her out of the house asap. Remembering the time I’d mixed cleaning products when I cleaned the bathtub and felt mega-woozy, I realized I needed help too. I mopped a few more inches and caved in to the Lord.

I called three people and struck out. Mopped some more. Still tacky.

Call three, my RN friend with the chemistry teacher husband, finally called back. As they had done many times before, they changed the agenda for their day and came to my rescue. While I waited or their arrival, I called poison control. They could only help if something were wrong with me. Thank You, Lord, not yet.

What a relief to have someone else to help me. My nurse friend insisted that we work on opening the windows I was convinced were painted shut. Success. Much better for Mindy upstairs.

It turned out this speed reader had misread the directions! Do not allow to dry before rinsing two times with warm water. We headed out to Home Depot for advice. The flooring salesman, despite the fact we weren’t going to buy anything, listened to our tale patiently and that was about it. Nice guy, though.

My friends encouraged me to eat lunch. We stocked up on dollar store mops and rubber gloves. I sent them home. What amazing friends. Thank You, Lord! I hope I can return the favor someday.

Mopped some more.

Seeing the front door propped open and kitchen furnishings sitting in the foyer, a passing friend inquired if I was okay–or was I moving? Thank You, Lord, for surrounding me with concerned friends.

At least the stuff dries quickly, even if the yellow stains on my floor were still there! With just enough energy to put everything back in place and stumble to the car, I texted the long-suffering dog sitter again. “On my way. Finally.” Yet another friend. We’d shared about more than dogs. Thank You, Lord.

Thank You that I survived the fumes. Thank You that I have such great friends. Thank You that even I  can learn to reach out. 

I don’t think I walked Angie that afternoon, but I definitely sang in the car. Songs of thanksgiving. I’d been protected, and I’d learned to reach out for help.

Don’t wait as long as I often do to reach out for help! The results are worth singing about!

Anybody can grow–in grace!