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Sunday, 20 January 2013

Devil studies and testimonials

Last Thursday night a group of us started a study on the book, The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis.  It's a book I've read more than once and in fact have had to read through it several times just to fully grasp everything Lewis is trying to say.  He's not like one of my other favorite authors, John Grisham, whose latest book I can read in about 3 days.  Lewis is deep, profound and intellectual beyond my capacity.  I was therefore very pleased when the others in my book study said they also had to read the first couple of chapters that we were studying this week several times before they fully grasped it all too.  At least I'm not alone. :))

It's always interesting doing a book study I think.  First, because it challenges you to really read. If only so you're not the only one in the room that hasn't done the reading and can't participate as a result.  It's an excuse for me to do something I've always wanted to do but been too lazy or to busy or to apathetic to put in the time.  Teaching makes you have to study to get the material deep in your head.  It makes you not just read the book but it requires reading about ten different study guides as well.  Well that's me.

This week we read the part of the preface of the book I have inserted below and then dove into Chapters 1 and 2.  Lewis and J.R.R Tolkien were good friends at Oxford. They were professors there and shared their unfinished novels with their colleagues in a book club called the Inklings.  Lewis dedicated Screwtape Letters to Tolkien who, a few years earlier, was instrumental in Lewis' conversion from atheism to Christianity.

Opening Quotes

"The best way to drive out the devil, if he will not yield to texts of Scripture, is to jeer and flout him, for he cannot bear scorn."-Luther

"The devill . . the prowde spirite . . cannot endure to be mocked."-Thomas More


I HAVE no intention of explaining how the correspondence which I now offer to the public fell into my hands.

There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight. The sort of script which is used in this book can be very easily obtained by anyone who has once learned the knack; but disposed or excitable people who might make a bad use of it shall not learn it from me.

Readers are advised to remember that the devil is a liar.

And so our study began...
First we discussed how culturally we see devils differently.  Miri and Jonas spoke from the German perspective, Wyn from the Phillipino and me from the American. We then briefly touched on materialism and atheism as both terms are used frequently throughout both C.S. Lewis' life and his writings.  I asked if they were aware that according to a research study by the Barna Research Group in 2008, an incredible 45% of those who profess to be “born again” actually deny Satan's existence.  That was down from 50% just 4 years earlier.  We weren't sure how you can claim to be born again and not recognize and openly acknowledge the existence of Satan.

Christ in you ministries shares this list of biblical references for Satan and how he is mentioned:


I. Representative Biblical references
Satan: Greek word Satanas - transliteration of Heb. (36 ref.) - adversary, opponent, to resist, oppose, counteract
  • Job 1:6-12; 2:1-6 - "Satan presented himself before the Lord"
  • Mk. 1:13 - Jesus "was in the wilderness forty days being tempted by Satan"
  • Acts 26:18 - "to turn from the dominion of Satan to God"
  • I Cor. 7:5 - "lest Satan tempt you"
  • II Cor. 11:14 - "Satan disguises himself as an angel of light"
  • Rev. 12:9; 20:2 - "the devil and Satan, deceive the whole world"
Devil: Greek word diabolos - dia=through; ballo=to throw (38 ref.) - slanderer,
misrepresenter, deceiver, divider, accuser, divider
  • Jn. 8:44 - "you are of your father, the devil"
  • Eph. 4:27 - "do not give the devil an opportunity"
  • II Tim. 2:26 - "the snare of the devil, having been held captive to do his will"
  • Heb. 2:14 - "the one having the power of death, that is, the devil"
  • I Jn. 3:8 - "the one doing sin is of the devil"
Evil One: Greek word ho poneros - the evil one
  • Matt. 13:38 - "the tares are the sons of the evil one"
  • II Thess. 3:3 - "the Lord will strengthen and protect you from the evil one"
  • I John 3:12 - "Cain was of the evil one, and slew his brother"
  • I John 5:18,19 - "whole world lies in the evil one"
Tempter: Greek word peirazo - to pierce in order to prove or examine
  • Matt. 4:3 - "the tempter came and said to Him (Jesus)..."
  • I Thess. 3:5 - "for fear that the tempter might have tempted you"
Adversary: Greek word antidikos - against right or justice
  • I Pet. 5:8 - "your adversary, the devil, prowls about like roaring lion"
Ruler of this world -
  • Jn. 12:31 - "the ruler of this world shall be cast out"
  • Jn. 14:30 - "the ruler of this world has nothing in Me"
  • Jn. 16:11 - "the ruler of this world has been judged"
God of this age
  • II Cor. 4:4 - "the god of this age has blinded the minds of the unbelieving"
Beelzebul, the ruler of the demons
  • Matt. 9:34 - "casts out demons by the ruler of the demons"
  • Matt. 12:24 - "cast out demons by Beelzebul, the ruler of the demons"
Belial - possibly "lord of flies, dung, or forest;" worthlessness
  • II Cor. 6:15 - "what harmony has Christ with Belial..."
Prince of the power of the air
  • Eph. 2:2 - "the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that works in the sons of disobedience"
Enemy: echthros, from echthos = hatred, hostile
  • Matt. 13:25,28,39 - "the enemy who sowed them is the devil"
  • Lk. 10:19 - "authority over all the power of the enemy"
  • Acts 13:10 - you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness"
Dragon, serpent; cf. Gen. 3; II Cor. 11:3
  • Rev. 12:9 - "the great dragon, the serpent of old called the devil and Satan"
  • Rev. 20:2 - "the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan"
Accuser - kategoreo
  • Zech. 3:1 - "Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him"
  • Rev. 12:10 - "the accuser of our brethren...who accuses them day and night"
Apollyon: from Greek apollumi = to destroy; destroyer
  • Rev. 9:11 - "the angel of the abyss...Apollyon"
Destroyer: Greek olothreutes
  • I Cor. 10:10 - "destroyed by the destroyer"

So let's say you are in the 50% that believe in the existence of Satan or that you are not yet a Christian and just want to find out more.  Well as Lewis warns - you don't want to have an unhealthy fascination with the devil but there is nothing wrong with reading up on what the Bible says about him, what great authors have written (Geothe, Dante, Lewis) and arming yourself appropriately.  This is what we are attempting to do through this study.

Chapter 1
Here we see Screwtape writing to his nephew Wormwood (ein unterteufel or junior tempter) and urging him to not use reason and argument for why his patient is not a materialist.  If he goes too far in this direction he might very well reason himself straight out of this thinking and into a direction where the enemy (God) wants him. 

You see God is not afraid of argument, questions, scrutiny.  His word and his character and the actions and life of His son have stood the test of time.  He WANTS us to question.  He welcomes it.  It is from Him that we have the very ability to reason at all so why wouldn't He?  This first chapter is all about Screwtape attempting to convince Wormwood that it's far better to distract, confuse or fuddle the patient than to allow him to think, be taught or to know truth. 

Chapter 2
Somewhere between chapters 1 and 2 the patient decides to become a Christian.  This at first greatly displeases Screwtape but not for long as he notes that many a soul "have been reclaimed after a brief sojourn in the Enemy's camp."  He is pleased to note that those that have been reclaimed are now "with us." Screwtape says they have allies in this battle of turning the soul back toward hell of which the church is their greatest.  You'll note here that Lewis believes and preaches that man can in fact lose their salvation.  This is not popular thinking across evangelical circles and yet if this weren't the case the Screwtape Letters would be a very short book indeed.  In fact it would be one chapter long as in the beginning of chapter two the patient is noted to now be Christian and the remaining 29 chapters are all attempts to win the soul back. 

Screwtape then goes on to describe how the church can be such a great ally though the hypocracy the patient will note (either imagined or real) within his fellow church goers.  He takes Wormwood through a series of ideas for distracting or otherwise preventing the patient from getting anything of the true fellowship or reason behind why God wants Him in the church in the first place.  His theory is to just keep him focused on what annoys, does not meet with his expectations or otherwise displeases him and "keep him in that state of mind for as long as you can."

As I asked my Facebook friends for their opinions of devils I was not surprised to see that very few responded.  In America as well as many places around the globe, Satan is not a topic many people want to discuss.  It makes them uneasy, fearful, sort of like they might be jinxing themselves or something to speak of him.  This is what one friend noted:

"I am aware of Satan's presence in my own life, and growing more aware. Fortunately, I am also growing in confidence in the power of prayer and the fact that God has my back. It's funny how hesitant I was to respond to your question. It reminded me of the characters in Harry Potter who wouldn't say the name Voldemort. Pretending we aren't being bit by a snake does not make the snake go away. The research from the Barna Group is very interesting and very sobering. I really struggled with the finding from Unchristian, but I am glad I read it."

Another friend who had a past with the occult but wanted to stay anonymous wrote: (personal references have been removed)

"Was clairvoyant since early childhood. Had the ability to see into the future, and the spiritual realm. This was before coming to Christ. After accepting Christ and going through deliverance myself, God has used me in the deliverance ministry for almost 30 years. I've met many of Satan's minions over the years... mostly in the deliverance ministry. God has even given me personal names of a couple of them. 

Satan works in our minds, thoughts and emotions. We can hear 3 "voices" in our heads (thoughts). You hear your own thoughts, you can hear God speak to you, and you can and will hear Satan speak to you. He (Satan) sounds like your own voice..... or thoughts. He knows everything about you, and how you react to circumstances, what your achilles heel is. His voice is very subtle in the beginning. Perhaps a quick thought. Then it grows a bit. If you don't pay attention and take the thought captive and submit it to Christ in the beginning, you will begin to entertain the thought, and it becomes more appealing or sucks you in. If it's lustful... it starts to appeal, and if you play with those thoughts long enough, Satan will arrange for an encounter... which gives birth to the sin. If it's fear, or rejection, or a thought that is negative, or unforgiveness, if you don't capture it, you become depressed, Satan begins to tell you, that you are unloved, or rejected and worthless. There are a host of other negative thoughts or lustful thoughts. Just using those two as examples. If you entertain ANY of them, or refuse to forgive, you put yourself in an invisible prison. You have opened the door not only for the original thought or action, but have "invited" other demonic influences into your thought pattern. 2 Corinthians 10: 3-5

This can all happen even in a Christian. Is a Christian possessed.... ABSOLUTELY NOT!!!! However, if you have "willfully" been living in some sort of sinful nature, some folks will APPEAR as though they are totally under the possession of Satan. At that point, many may develop physical ailments. It could be major depression, or anxiety... both of which people may seek medication for. It could be spirits of affliction that cause people to be ill. I am not saying that all illness is caused by a demon. It's not. We live in a fallen world, and if the flu is traveling through your area, and you are exposed, that does not mean Satan gave it to you.

Satan exists, he's alive and he prowls like a lion seeking to devour. He comes to steal, kill and destroy. We are told to stay alert, put on the amour of God, and take all thoughts that are sinful, or negative captive and submit them to Christ. You do that and rebuke the devil and he will flee. It's unfortunate that the church in general does not do teaching on this. I think many Christians live a defeated life as a result. I have heard pastors say they won't teach on this because it is paying too much attention to the devil. Trust me... Satan is overjoyed to see and hear that!"

If you also have a past in the occult and would like to share your story annonymously here then just send me a message. 

Looking forward to chapters 3 and 4 for next week.


Monday, 14 January 2013

Please more purple bible again

No this is not just a strange title to a blog.  These are actually five words that my daughter Chloe can say now! :)  I know I tricked you by making you think this blog entry was somehow about purple bibles but now that you're here... lol

Chloe loves new words.  She says a new word almost every day.  This list of words was from this week but next week who knows! :)  She's a very clever little girl I think for growing up without any siblings.  Her best friend is a green frog who she calls her baby.  She can now identify nearly every body part including tummy, cheeks, knees, toes, fingers, nose, hair, eyes, mouth, teeth, head, arms.  In other news... she loves getting her legs and feet tickled just like her mom and she loves cheese.  Must be genetic! :)

It's great to be back in Germany getting into the groove of things again and making plans for the year.  Alan started to school last Monday and has done really well so far although it is tough going to class four hours a day every day.  Last week Chloe and I stayed home while he went and played mainly but two days we went to MOPS related events.  I've decided she's just growing up too fast for me to care much about the housework and that I should instead just enjoy her destroying block castles and zoo's I build, savor the tea parties and absolutely eat up the cuddles, snuggles, kisses and belly laughs.  I wouldn't trade this time with her for anything. 

Every day I thank God for the blessing she is in our lives.  I'd love to have a little brother or sister for her to play with (well secretly I just want another girl so I can dress her up in all the clothes Chloe never got the chance to wear!) but we're trusting that Gods timing will be perfect or that He'll show us we should foster or adopt instead.  Several of our friends are pursuing adoptions right now.  Personally I'd love to just start our own orphanage for children that otherwise would have been aborted so if you're looking for something to pray about, pray about how I can better serve the ProLife cause.  There simply isn't enough work at die Birke to keep me going. 

Last Thursday night I started the Screwtape Letters book study at the CVJM.  It was an intro night just learning a bit about C.S. Lewis and only three of us were there but I'm hoping a couple more come when we actually start the book this Thursday.  I was sorry to see so many who had originally said they were interested pull out at the last minute because they were too busy.  Still, everything is in Gods hands and we'll see what He has in store. 

Other than school for Alan, gearing back into things and unpacking from our trips, sorting out finances, playing with Chloe and starting the book study I was able to go to MOPS last Tuesday and to the Faithbook Club last Friday.  I enjoy the fellowship at both meetings even though I wish it were in German instead of English.  It would kind'of be like killing two birds with one stone that way.  Going to the health club is one way I find to study my German but other than that I don't get a lot of opportunities.  I guess I just need more disciple to study on my own at home.  Another prayer request! :)

Haven't heard much about the teams coming this summer or next winter other than they are coming.  When we have a better idea of how many are signed up we can try to sort out accommodations and details.  If you know of folks looking to do a GAP year somewhere or wanting to go on Edge, tell them to consider Germany.  We can customize a program for them and put them straight to work! :) 

On a final note we just wanted to thank those of you that pray for us on a regular basis and those that support us financially as well.  In the middle of November we were facing a deficit in our support account for 2012 of over $7000 and today it's less than $500 and that it might be even less once the final figures from the UK support come in.  Our God is an amazing and faithful God and He is our true provider and friend even when we doubt Him.  May we all remember how many times He's come through for us in the past to fill our hearts with peace and joy about the future while we focus our energies on today.