Tag Archives: spiritual warfare

What do we say to the parents?

Yesterday was a hard parenting day for me. In particular late last night I experienced something I’ve never dealt with before and hope to never deal with again. I won’t go into details, but suffice to say my son, who has depression and an anxiety disorder, went to a dark place and was almost swallowed up by it.

As I lay with him in my bed, helping him to calm his breathing and slow his tears, I whispered words of comfort and Truth in his ear. I told him because he had God in his heart, he would be protected. Then we prayed together. I prayed for God’s protection and strength to surround my son. Together we denounced any evil that might try to take over his thoughts or compromise his safety.

And friends, I believed — still believe — with my whole heart that those words I said, the prayer we prayed is true. I believe that God loves my son and will protect him and keep him safe.

But then this morning.

This morning I turn on the radio and hear the updated information from Florida. Seventeen dead.

And I think of the parents of those 17 children. Did they pray the same prayer?

Did they believe with all of their heart that God would protect their son or daughter and keep them safe?

I don’t know for sure, but I would bet some of them did, if not most. And I’m left wondering how we come to terms with the knowledge that 17 innocent lives, lives really just beginning, were taken?

I’ve grappled with that question all morning. Asking myself how I can have such great faith and trust that my son will be protected, while knowing children are dying every day in senseless, tragic ways.

I don’t really have an answer for that. You can call it blind faith. You can call it naivety. You can call it illogical or unfair. You can call it luck or privilege.

Call it what you will.

I guess if I had to choose one word to call it, it would be Hope.

I know deep down that every day is a gift. I have lost loved ones too soon. I have attended the funerals of children. I have sat in hospital rooms with my husband waiting for test results, wondering if we would both leave the hospital. I do know that we are not guaranteed tomorrow. None of us. Including my son or daughters.

I also know God loved us so very much He offered us free will and with that free will the devil schemes and takes advantage and sometimes, yes sometimes, he wins the battle. It can happen to any one of us. Any one of our children.

But yesterday I also watched friends and neighbors support my daughter and her efforts to raise money to go and do missions work in the Dominican Republic. I saw people loving on and caring for my Grandma. I had a conversation with a teacher who expressed such deep love for my child and my family it left me in tears. So while evil was attacking my son last night, hope was there, too.

While evil was taking lives in Florida and around the world, hope was there, too.

Hope sat with the teacher who hid students in a closet and kept them safe.

Hope sat with the police officers, first responders, and hospital staff that worked so diligently to evacuate and secure the school property, apprehend the gunman, and care for the wounded.

Hope sits with all of us who wipe our eyes, raise our fists, and shout “Enough!” While we rally together to stand-up and demand change from our elected officials.

Hope is there, even when we can’t see it or feel it.


For as much as I love words, I am surprisingly bad at knowing what to say in the face of tragedy, especially to those who have lost so deeply. I honestly don’t know what I could say to the parents of those 17 students or the 1,000s of other children who have lost their lives in senseless tragedies like this. I just don’t know that there is anything that could be said that would amount to more than wasted breath and empty words to their broken hearts.

But we can love them. We can hold in our arms the ones we know personally, and hold up the ones we don’t in prayer.

We can look at the photos and read the stories of their precious children and remember them.

We can refuse to forget, to move on, or to become numb.

We can demand change.

And yes, yes, I know it’s been said and heard so many times it’s beginning to sound trite. But I do believe in the power of prayer. And I believe we are not only fighting a physical war that requires more intervention, awareness, access to mental health care, and restricts access to firearms, but we are also fighting a spiritual battle. One that requires we get on our knees and pray for protection over our children, our neighbor’s children, our community’s children, our nation’s children. It requires we hold on to Hope and to each other.

Satan may have won the battle, but God will win the war.

For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.” (Romans 8:24-25)

If you are wanting to take action to stop the senseless violence in America, but don’t know where to start, I encourage you to check out this website: https://www.sandyhookpromise.org/ organized and run by parents who know too well what it means to lose a child to gun violence.




photo credit: BONA LUMA There is Always Light via photopin (license)


Finding protection against spiritual warfare

Humbling (verb) – 1. to make meek; ex. to humble one’s heart.
2. to destroy the independence, power or will of.


That’s the word that sums up the last three weeks of my life.

The interesting thing about being humbled is it can be both a positive feeling and an unfavorable one. I’ve had both.

God has done some amazingly big things in my life the last few weeks — guiding me through leading my first women’s retreat, my first public speaking opportunities, and calling me to travel half-way across the U.S. to serve a hurting, struggling population that our country has forgotten. The way God can use us for His purpose, the way He has used me the last few weeks has been humbling in a good way. A way that reminds me that He is omnipotent and worthy of the highest praise. Like the first definition, He has humbled my heart with gentility and meekness.

On the flip side, some pretty difficult things have happened the last few weeks. Challenges at work and with my kids; attacks on my marriage and on my health. It’s been humbling…but more in the sense of the second definition. A feeling that my independence and will have been destroyed.

While God will humble our hearts and make us meek, He does not set-out to destroy us. That is the work of the enemy; and it’s been abundantly clear that Satan has been on the attack in my life and some of those around me.

Spiritual warfare
Growing up in the church spiritual warfare was not a term I recall hearing, and even the concept of  “an enemy” was a bit abstract, to say the least. As I entered young adulthood conversations by other Christians referring to attacks from Satan made me a bit uncomfortable, as I wasn’t sure what I believed here. I put these thoughts away in a corner cabinet, along with topics like speaking in tongues, intercession, the entire book of Revelation, and anything else that my narrow Protestant view struggled to understand (and please know this is not a statement against the Protestant church, just that my exposure to these topics and ability to process them was limited).

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve seen first-hand that spiritual warfare is very real. It took me years to be able to identify this and understand the difference between normal every-day struggles and full-on attacks of the enemy. And it took even longer for me to feel comfortable speaking about this to others and learning how to identify when it was happening.

If you grew up in a more traditional or conservative church like I did, this may be an unfamiliar or uncomfortable topic…but it’s so important that as Christians we are able to identify when this is happening so we can strengthen our defenses and draw closer to God for help, instead of letting the enemy pull us further away with doubt and hurt.

One pattern I have identified is that when God is doing big work in your life or community, the enemy goes on the attack. Is your church having a season of growth and expansion? Don’t be surprised if conflict arises within your leadership team. Are you starting up a new ministry? Watch out for unexpected set-backs or opposition. Helping to lead people to Christ?  Be prepared for attacks in your personal life.

I don’t mean this to sound alarmist or to deter people from following God’s call in their life. In fact, quite the opposite. If we are able to identify spiritual warfare and call it out for what it is, then we are able to pray for God’s protection and not let the enemy’s attacks divide us from God or from each other.

Ephesians 6:10

I once heard a talk by author and speaker Lynn Cowell and she shared how every time she was about to speak in front of a big group, there was a guaranteed attack from the enemy on her family. Whether is was conflict in her house, gossip about her children, or other challenges, it had happened so many times she and her husband began to identify it for what it was. It didn’t necessarily make it less stressful or difficult to face these attacks, but at least by being able to identify and prepare for them, they were able to face them together as a family, instead of letting it divide them, or deter Lynn from her ministry.

I won’t lie, the last few weeks have been a challenge. I thought about cancelling my women’s retreat. I fought with my husband and my kids. I let stress from work tear me down emotionally, and I considered backing out of the mission trip I leave for tomorrow. But in my moments of weakness I was able to discern God’s voice and see what was really happening, and that enabled me to pray for protection and strength.

While the enemy may be capable of humbling me in all the wrong ways — to destroy my will and power — I must remember he does not have the authority over God’s will nor is he a match for the power of God’s protection.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against…the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms…Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (Ephesians 6:10-17)

God will call you to serve Him in mighty ways, and do things that will humble your heart.

The enemy will try to sabotage God’s plans. But if we remain watchful, remembering that our struggle is not against “flesh and blood, but against spiritual forces of evil,”  and put on God’s armor, the enemy will not prevail.

Are you feeling under attack from the enemy? I offer up this prayer for you:

Heavenly Father, no one knows the cunning, hateful ways of the enemy better than you. Satan despises all that you intend for good and he will use any means necessary to try and interrupt your good works. I feel his attack and it has weakened my resolve, brought chaos into my life, and at times caused me to turn away from You and those I love. But You are more powerful than anything he might throw at me. You will not be defeated by his evil schemes. God protect me. Arm me for this battle. Teach me to wear your Truth, Righteousness, Peace, Faith, and Salvation like armor. Show me how to fight, not with my own merits or strength, but with the power of your word and the protection of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Be still and let go of these things

This past Sunday my morning started like many Sunday mornings do for me. The alarm went off and I hit snooze because I was exhausted from the previous day’s activities. After sleeping a good 30 minutes later than I should have, I finally woke up and went to check on the kids. They were leaving right after church to spend a few days with my mom, so they had been given explicit instructions the night before that upon waking they were to start packing for their trip and once that was completed to start cleaning their rooms. Of course, none of this had happened. I was bombarded by whines and complaints the moment I opened my bedroom door. My eldest was completely outraged that her brother had just woken her up by bursting in her room and yelling “time to get up and pack!” My son  was running around in circles yelling “I have no clean clothes!” And my youngest daughter who, to her credit, had at least attempted to pack, showed me her packed bag which consisted of 5 shirts, one pair of leggings and a dirty pair of shorts. We had 50 minutes until we had to leave for church.

snooze button
Image source: Shenandoah Country Q102

In fairness to my kids, they had all gotten to bed late the night before because we’d been helping the school they attend pack and move equipment and only finished about 9:30 p.m. with the last load. And because I had spent my entire Saturday helping to move the school and running my kids to a birthday party, I had neglected to do any laundry. But at this point, all I could think was how I needed to be at church early today because it was my job to set-up for communion and if everyone didn’t hurry up and get their act in gear I would never get three kids dressed, fed, packed, and teeth brushed, let alone shower and dress myself in 50, no wait only 45 minutes now! I should mention at this point that my husband had already left for church because he’s in the praise band and has to be there 2-hours before service, so I was on my own with this one. The next hour was a blur of over-cooked frozen waffles, yelling “did you brush your teeth” 500 times, putting hair into ponytails, time-0uts, and pulling clothes out of the hamper that looked “clean enough” to be sent with them to Nana’s house (every mom out there knows, if it passes the sniff test and has no visible stains, it’s perfectly acceptable to dress your kids in dirty clothes).

We loaded into the car 10 minutes later than I wanted to and I felt every bit of tension and frustration that had built up that morning. I started to list in my head all the reasons I was stretched too thin and something had to give. I started to resent the school and my church for the time they were taking (for things I volunteered to do, mind you) and for turning me into crazy, grumpy mom. By the time we pulled into the parking lot I had reached the point where one side-ways glance from someone would have sent me into a full-blown emotional meltdown. Thank God I go to church with the most amazing people and when I walked in I was greeted only with smiles and hellos. No one commented on my being late, and in fact, as if they could sense my stress, two other friends said they’d been having a difficult morning.

Lake Holiday
The lake in our community where we live and worship.

Those of us on the worship team typically gather to go through the service plan and pray about 30 minutes before service starts. Usually we meet in a small boardroom, but this day our Pastor had us follow him outside. I live in a community that has a 240 acre lake nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains and we are blessed to be able to hold church service in the community club house which is situated right on the lake. So we walked down to the fishing pier and our Pastor told us he had called us outside so we could take a few moments to just be at peace and let go of whatever we were carrying that morning and have a moment with God. I stared into the clear ripples of the lake and felt the frustration of the morning come flooding back. My eyes welled-up as I was hit with guilty feelings. Guilt for having yelled at my kids, guilt for hitting the snooze button when I knew better, and guilt for feeling resentful of my commitments to serve the school and church when I knew I had asked to do those things. As the hot tears slid down my cheeks I heard God gently say to me “be still.” Two little words, but they washed over me completely. Then I heard it again “be still, my child. Let go of these things and just be in My presence.” I felt such an immediate rush of relief and release at that moment, and I almost laughed out loud because it was such a simple statement, but just the exact thing I needed to hear.

I realized how bringing all of my negative “stuff” in the door was a distraction and could have kept me from fully receiving the day’s message and feeling the presence of the Holy Spirit. And I wondered, how many Sunday mornings have I entered the doors like this? (too many) And how often was the enemy using these every-day stresses to get in the way and prevent me from just being still and being with God? (more than I realize, I’m sure)

That night I happened to see a blog post from Christian author Jon Acuff that humorously addressed the fact that right before church was the moment of the week he and his wife were most likely to get into a fight. As I read his blog post and then read through the comments I realized that I’m in good company and Sunday morning conflict and stress is a pretty common occurrence. Well, duh! Of course the enemy is going to try and get in our way and do whatever he can to muddle our hearts, cloud our perspective, and maybe even prevent us from going to worship.

Ephesians 6:12 says: “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.” But, as my Pastor reminded us during the sermon that day, God has already given us all the tools we need to fight and defeat the enemy; and I believe forewarned is forearmed. There are things we can do to impede spiritual warfare, or at least lessen the impact. For me, I know my number one issue is time. By cutting my time too short I’m giving the enemy more ammunition to use against me. I realize I must start getting up earlier on Sundays so I can ease into the day and allow time for all of the things that might go wrong. Then, maybe, just maybe I can walk through those doors and leave it all behind. I can come in and “be still” and be truly present.

What about you? Do you find yourself consistently stressed, frustrated, angry or in conflict on Sunday mornings? What is one area you can change and give the enemy less ammunition? I would love to hear your thoughts.