Science AND the Glory of God

Science and the Glory of God

(From Wallbuilders, March 27, 2015)
The heavens declare the glory of God;
And the firmament shows His handiwork.
(Psalm 19:1)
Several WallBuilders speakers just returned from engagements in Alaska, where they witnessed the incomprehensible wonder of the Northern Lights, the breathtaking beauty of the majestic mountain ranges, and the creative uniqueness of its wildlife. Throughout American history, those who believed Psalms 19 and explored God’s marvelous creation have had great impact on our science.
For example, U.S. Navy Commander Matthew Fontaine Maury became known as “Father of Oceanography” and  “Pathfinder of the Seas” because of what he discovered from reading Psalm 8 and Ecclesiastes 1. When criticized for his reliance on the Bible, Maury responded:

I have been blamed by men of science, both in this country and in England, for quoting the Bible in confirmation of the doctrines of physical geography. The Bible, they say, was not written for scientific purposes and is therefore of no authority in matters of science. I beg pardon! The Bible is authority for everything it touches. . . . The Bible is true, and science is true. . . . They are both true; and when your men of science, with vain and hasty conceit, announce the discovery of disagreement between them, rely upon it: the fault is not with the Witness or His records [that is, God], but with the “worm” [sinful human] who essays [attempts] to interpret evidence which he does not understand.


Thomas Jefferson, a diligent student of history, observed that:

The Christian religion…is a religion of all others most friendly to liberty, science, and the freest expansion of the human mind.

In fact, Jefferson said that  “Bacon, Newton and Locke . . . [are] my trinity of the three greatest men the world had ever produced.” While Locke was a Christian philosopher, both Bacon and Newton were Christian scientists. Notice the philosophy of these two.

Francis Bacon, known as the “Father of Modern Science,” developed the process of inductive thinking and created the scientific method. He also penned several books on religion, such as On the Unity in Religion (1612), On Atheism (1612), and Of Praise (1612), as well as a translation of Biblical psalms (1625).

 Sir Isaac Newton as an English mathematician and scientist credited with birthing modern calculus and discovering the laws of universal gravitation. But he actually wrote more on theology than he did on science!

There are many other examples, making clear that science as we know it today would not exist had it not been for those who used the Bible to lay the foundations of modern science.(For more information on the Bible and Science, see the commentary for Daniel 1 in The Founders’ Bible).
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Poking God in the Eyes

2c6fc1c50199e5cc206e1ade6cee3536Have you ever heard the phrase, “It’s not about you”? Have you ever responded with, “Oh, yes, it is!”?

I was thinking yesterday about how we have a tendency to make life about us. We are, after all, inherently selfish creatures. It started even before we were able to yell out “Mine!” for the first time in our lives.

As we grew older, most of us gained a little more control over our vocal responses, but what about on the inside? Even if we don’t actually believe life is all about us, we still wish it was.

This attitude about life being about us, whether as individuals or humanity as a whole, is something that we tend to carry over into all of our relationships, including the most important one that each of us is supposed to have. You know, that one we’re supposed to have with God.

Relationships. Interesting things, relationships. Surely we understand that in proper, loving relationships, we’re supposed to be spending our lives in the best interests of others.

Husbands and wives are supposed to love one another sacrificially, believing and hoping the best. We are supposed to develop trust — truthful trust.

Then there are parent-child relationships. Again, as parents it’s supposed to be a loving sacrifice to provide, protect, and teach.

Also, there are the friendship relationships. You know those, right? These are the ones in which we’re supposed to have each other’s backs, uplifting one another and defending one another’s reputations.

In other words … relationships are supposed to be about providing love while believing for it in return.

Okay. What about that relationship we’re supposed to have with God? Is it supposed to be any different?

Outside of “having God’s back,” which I’m pretty sure He doesn’t need, aren’t we supposed to be loving and respecting Him—treating Him as if life’s about Him and not us?

Some of you just got tripped up by that question. I can feel it. (I’m kidding. I can’t feel it, because you haven’t been reading silently as I type this out loud.)

We humans are an oddly-thinking bunch. We’ll make sacrifices for many other people, because we believe they need us or need what we have. But because God already has everything, we think His position is that of the guy we should run to with demands and dissatisfaction.

  • A friend gets cancer, and many times we blame God.
  • Someone’s marriage falls apart and we’re like, “Really, God? You couldn’t stop that?”
  • Death hits close to home and we demand answers. “Why?! You could have prevented that if you really cared!”

It’s easy to criticize God and even shake our fists at the sky, because there’s no retribution; He doesn’t argue back.

But why? Why do we blame God? Why do we try to make it painful for God, as if poking Him in the eye to express our irritation and trying to get a response? It’s at these times that I think we’ve forgotten a few things about who God is:

  • God’s heart toward us will only ever be good. (Romans 5:8)
  • We are the result of His craftsmanship; not the other way around. (Ephesians 2:10)
  • He’s got a firm grasp on what’s going on in the lives of those who love Him, and will even work things out for our good. (Romans 8:28)

And … there is something else that we need to keep in mind as believers in the One True God:

This life isn’t about us, even though it is for us.

God created us so that we would BE. He wanted each and every one of us to exist and know LIFE (and still does). He wants us to know joy and happiness and awesome relationships with Him. He wants us to know fulfillment through purpose-filled lives.

It was NOT in His plan to have us suffer in this life, including in our relationships. It’s actually against God’s plan for us to have bad experiences with one another, including our kids and parents. We weren’t supposed to know what it feels like to be stabbed in the back by a friend. None of the sorrows of life were supposed to be ours. We weren’t even supposed to die, for that matter.

All of the bad things that happen in our lives, and the lives of those around us, are all linked to two things: Our Enemy (Satan and his fallen demonic horde) and the Fall of Man. Satan rebelled and began attacking mankind and we, as mankind, rebelled, as well. So much for blaming Satan for everything. We blew it as a race. We brought misery upon ourselves because of the choice that we, as humanity, made to question the heart of God. Did we learn? Maybe a little bit. But we still do question the heart of God.

Here’s the problem we face today as humans: We want. We keep wanting. We will continue to want. And where are most of our wants directed? At God. Now, let me say this before I go any further. God has told us that it’s okay to come boldly into His throne room where we can find mercy and grace in our times of need. Jesus is the one who gave us that instruction, so I’m guessing it’s a good thing to do. But there’s still the problem of thinking improperly about our wants.

We continue to think life is about us.

Anything that is created, be it a refrigerator, a toaster, a car, toothpaste, or even shampoo has both a purpose/function and instructions for proper use. And the thing that is created gets its purpose from the one who created it.

Guess what, gang. We were created, as well.

We get our purpose for BEING from God, our Creator. All life is about Him and for Him. You can rebel against that idea all that you want, but you will never be able to make God submit to your will.

We must link this revelation together with the fact that God’s heart toward us will only ever be good. He will never be evil. He didn’t create you, or anyone that you know, to be His whipping boy (or girl). You were not created so that God can carry out His frustrations on you. That would be impossible, anyway, because God is Love.

God doesn’t have love. He is Love. He will not ever violate who He is.

It’s a great thing that the entire universe was created by someone who is Love. Had God been an evil being, a universe could have been created without any beauty. Imagine an Earth on which there was only pain, because God laughed at misery and created suffering for His entertainment. Imagine everyone always writhing in agony; billions of people who cannot function because He’s having fun ripping them apart or subjecting them to horrendous diseases.

Even at OUR worst, we humans have not subjected the entire world to such unimaginable horrors. Even tyrants like Adolf Hitler showed compassion where and when he wanted (as hard as that is to fathom). Thankfully, the One True God is a wholly good-hearted God!

That said, again, I’d like to touch on a something for which we most blame God: Death.

None of us wants death to approach and consume those for whom we care, let alone touch our own lives. We fight death tooth and nail, clawing at the ground to not be dragged to its door. But all must exit. Death wasn’t a part of the original plan. It came as a result of the Fall of Man (Romans 4:12). It’s something that we brought upon ourselves, and, yet, we poke God in the eye about it.

Death certainly isn’t convenient (for most people). Even in the minds of the most ardent of atheists, the looming event stirs up questions like: “Will this really be the end?” “Will I experience darkness?” “Will my thoughts really be extinguished?”

For those who don’t have a relationship with Jesus, yet believe in an afterlife, individuals may ask, “What is on the other side?” “Will I be reincarnated?” “Will I become part of the Universe?”

And for those who KNOW Christ: “What will the transition be like?” “Will I be escorted by an angel?” “Who will greet me first when I get to Heaven?” “I’m about to see Jesus face to face!”

Irrespective of the questions and who’s asking them, for most, death is the reason for ultimate blame. God gets the rap for the sickness or the car crash or the suicide attempts that lead many to death. God gets the criticism for the timing, because, obviously, death should, as a rule, be more convenient. God is the recipient of the troubled or sorrow-filled or angry question, “Why didn’t you prevent it?”

It all comes back to where this blog post stared. We want to believe that this life is about us. We want to believe that we are deserving of all of the answers. We want to believe that God is answerable to us—the created ones.

God’s heart is good. That won’t change. I’m thankful of that, as I’m sure you are (or will be, once you allow it to settle into your hearts and minds).

Something else that all of us should think about, as it pertains to this life and to death: Whatever type of death you and I face, it will become a distant memory as quickly as we find ourselves on the other side of life’s doorway. Friends, we overvalue the life we have on this old earth. That’s primarily because we don’t yet understand what awaits us as Christians in Heaven and on the New Earth that is to come.

One thing is for certain, though… One day, rather than seeing fingers poking in God’s eyes, we’re going to see love in His eyes instead.

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Is Our Protection God’s Responsibility?

Royalty-Free Stock Photography by Rubberball.comAre you aware of all of the terrible things that God has not allowed to happen to you?

Do you know about that car that was going to strike you while you were jogging, but swerved back to the left of the shoulder because the driver woke up just in the nick of time? How about the man with the gun that was going to rob the store that you were in, but was intercepted by a cop who saw something suspicious? What about the horrendous nightmare that was going to invade your peaceful sleep, but was warded off because of a “special agent”?

The fact of the matter is that we have absolutely no idea how many things have not happened in our lives that were going to happen without intervention from God—who is always paying attention. There are many—a countless number—of attacks by the Enemy that have never reached us.

We live in a world filled with evil forces—a spiritual enemy—that will do everything in its power—and within its rights—to defeat us, whether it’s physically, emotionally, mentally, and/or spiritually. Jesus said that the Enemy “has come to kill, to steal, and to destroy.”

However, God, who is infinite in knowledge and perfect in love, is also our Defender. If you know Jesus Christ as your Lord, you’ve got someone who is not just the lover of your soul, but is also the Commander-in-Chief of all of the forces of Heaven.

Our Father wants us dependent upon Him, not on ourselves. He wants to be where we turn when life gets overwhelming. He wants to be our Hero.

That said, nowhere in the Bible does it say that “God won’t allow more to happen to you than you can handle.” That’s a wrongful twisting of Scripture. People who believe that have been set up for a fall. What God actually promised was that there would be no temptations that would be greater than we could overcome.

For those of us who trust in Jesus, there are still going to be bad things that will happen. In fact, Jesus said, “In this life you will have troubles.”

But, you see … we have a Savior. And “we are more than conquerors through HIM who loved us.”

Our Savior gave us armor. He gave us weaponry. He gave us authority in His name.

These are no small things! Read Ephesians, chapter six, and find out exactly what you have your hands on and those things that are available for your protection. I say “available,” because it’s a decision—your decision—to go beyond what the Lord is already doing behind the scenes.

We are given responsibilities. We must participate. We must engage in Spiritual Warfare, especially when we are being assaulted. And, my friends, you know when you’re being assaulted. Most of the time, we in America, blame God for the bad things that happen to us or to those we love. But, He’s not the only being that we cannot see.

There are angels, and there are demons. Both are terrifying and powerful creatures, though only one side wishes us harm.

We must all learn how to fight. Learn how to protect. Both for ourselves and for those we love. There is a reason why the writers of the New Testament call us “soldiers.”

This world, with an evil behind the veil that we cannot see, is more dangerous than it appears, but most of us don’t act like it. We have a tendency to take the “ignorance is bliss” approach to life. But that is part of the Enemy’s plan: keep us blaming God when things go wrong and to not engage in the actual war that is going on all around us. This war involves reaching out to the lost who do not know Christ. It involves teaching our families the truths about the darkness that surrounds us. It involves understanding that this world we live in today is not our home.

Because we oftentimes choose ignorance instead of investigation, many of us live lives of mediocrity; lives that will not lead others to Christ; lives that will keep the people around us on a fast track to a very real Hell.

We’ve gone so far as to disbelieve in a real devil named Satan and the echelons of demons at his command. When difficulties come, we have a tendency to strike things up to “bad luck” or just an “unfortunate turn of events.” However, some of these things could have been—can be—prevented in our lives. Some of the attacks that we feel, that seem relentless, can be pushed back. How? By using our authority in Christ Jesus.

Another problem that we have in America is that we think that we can say just a quick prayer and, Voilà!, God’s going to do whatever we ask. Too often, we shun the idea of intercessory or travailing prayer—especially travailing prayer. But we are told by Jesus in Matthew 7:7-11 that we are to ask, and keep asking, seek, and keep seeking, knock, and keep knocking … pressing into that situation which needs remedied.

Adding to all of the above, is the incorrect assumption that prayer is the same as Spiritual Warfare.

Prayer is something that is directed to God. Spiritual Warfare is supposed to be directed toward our Enemy. These are two totally different things, except that in prayer we can request help in the midst of the battle. But God gave us His authority, in the name of Jesus Christ, to be warriors for the cause of Christ and to also protect us from our enemies. And—listen to me, now—Spiritual Warfare cannot be done silently! It must be done with an open mouth, with words being formed with tongue and lips.

To learn more about Spiritual Warfare, you can read some of my other blog posts, talk with your pastors, read up on it in your Bibles, or through books from a Christian bookstore. You can find a reputable website or two, and even read the books of the Otherealm Saga that I’ve written, beginning with Deliver Us from Darkness—a novel written to teach as much as to entertain.

One of my favorite authors, John Eldredge, wrote a prayer in one of his books that I love. It is a series of requests to God, based on the Ephesians 6 weaponry and armor. I would like to close with that.

“A Warrior’s Prayer”
from
Wild at Heart
By John Eldredge

Ephesians 6:13-18:

“Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.  Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist …”  Lord, I put on the belt of truth.  I choose a lifestyle of honesty and integrity.  Show me the truths I so desperately need today.  Expose the lies I’m not even aware that I’m believing.  “… with the breastplate of righteousness in place …” And yes, Lord, I wear Your righteousness today against all condemnation and corruption.  Fit me with Your holiness and purity – defend me from all assaults against my heart.  “… and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace …”  I do choose to live for the gospel at any moment.  Show me where the larger story is unfolding and keep me from being so lax that I think the most important thing today is the soap operas of this world.

“In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one …” Jesus, I lift against every lie and every assault the confidence that You are good and that You have good in store for me.  Nothing is coming today that can overcome me, because You are with me.  “… Take the helmet of salvation …” Thank you, Lord, for my salvation.  I receive it in a new and fresh way from You, and I declare that nothing can separate me now from the love of Christ and the place I shall ever have in Your kingdom.  “… and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God …” Holy Spirit, show me specifically today the truths of the Word of God that I will need to counter the assaults and the snares of the Enemy.  Bring them to mind throughout the day.  “… And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.  With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.”  Finally, Holy Spirit, I agree to walk in step with You in everything – in all prayer as my spirit communes with You throughout the day.

Amen.

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The Physical Feeling of Forgiveness

(I really wanted to title this post, “The Fysical Feeling of Forgiveness,” but I know a bunch of Grammar Nazis, so… )


thHave you felt the PHYSICAL feeling of forgiveness?
Or are you one who is weighed down with regret and guilt?

As an author I do my best to convey emotions in my characters and stories. Inducing tears into people’s eyes and developing happy feelings are some of the things in which I specialize. I can go so far as to try to provide a sense of well-being in you as a reader. These are things that I can do. However…

After the stories are done, whether they are mine or someone else’s, whether they are from a book or from movies or TV shows, one thing is certain; reality sets back in. You are always going to be faced with who you are. Who you have been. What has been done to you.

Reality isn’t always the place in which people want to live. Reality can be physically and emotionally painful, even devastating. People are grateful for those breaks—those diversions—in which they can experience fun, happy moments. But so often, these things are fleeting at best. Often, in the midst of happy moments, people have flashes of impending reality, and instantly the moment of elation is dulled or quenched. Back to who they are, where they live, what they do.

This is not the case with everybody, though. Some people have had burdens permanently lifted. Some have a pool—a wellspring—from which life and joy, hope and grace, mercy and purpose envelop their souls. This is not to say that life doesn’t still happen to them, it just means that the table has turned. Instead of guilt and fear and hopelessness and lack of purpose being the mainstay of their lives, they are merely the periodic interruptions. Instead, they can live with a constant sense of peace and joy in their lives, even in the midst of difficult times.

It sounds as though these people have encountered a miracle. Doesn’t it? And the truth of the matter is … they have.

Life wasn’t meant to be hated or avoided. Life was created to have lifelong purpose. It’s something that all people can have. It just takes a decision.

If your religion or atheism or life philosophy has not met you where you are and invited you into a life of forgiveness and peace, rather than you having to spend your life striving for it, then you have been believing or practicing something false. And that falseness can be revealed, as long as a person doesn’t decide to protect that falseness, by making it have an encounter with truth.

Some of you, right now, are wishing that what I’m saying could be true, that you could finally have peace of mind and heart—a life in which the striving to be something worthy can come to an end. If you are one of these individuals, I challenge you to do one or more of the following things to have that encounter with truth.

1. Break out a modern-English translation of the Bible. Go to the New Testament book of John, and begin to read. Just push through to the end of the Bible. Just allow the words of the book to speak to your life. There’s nothing harmful about the knowledge that you’ll receive.

2. Pray a simple prayer: “God? Jesus? If you are real, and you really want me to know you, please show me. I’m open to it.” An honest prayer will be the catalyst to some life-changing events.

3. Set aside all things religious. God isn’t looking for you to do anything to earn his approval. You don’t have to go try to become good enough for him. Instead, He came searching for you. He came and did all of the work required to bring YOU into relationship with HIM, not the other way around. You don’t have to go get cleaned up to approach Him. Approach Him, and allow Him to make you clean.

4. Allow yourself to be humble. Don’t let your pride stand in the way of asking God for His forgiveness and His help. He’s bigger than all of the “shtuff” in your life, and He knows how to bring things to pass in your life in the proper order to get rid of the wrong things … in his time and in a way that will be most beneficial to you, the one He loves.

Many people, like myself, remember what it felt like—the physical feeling that took place within their bodies—the moment that they asked Jesus Christ to be their Savior and Lord. It wasn’t just a mental release, it was the shedding of so much burden that our hearts felt like they could burst with joy! The only thing you have as a responsibility is to allow God to come inside your life to forgive all of your past and future sins, in one fell swoop. He’ll do it, and give you an awesome future home, to boot.

Consider what I’ve said. There’s a whole big family waiting for you to let them love you and join them in this adventure of knowing and following the Creator of the Universe. While life still happens, we have each other and we have the knowledge that God is both in us and at our sides, helping us to “do all things.”

Love You All,
Frank

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Agreements: The Bad Kind

Businessman making a pact with the devil

“I am not worthy of love or respect.”
“I deserve to feel hated, despised, rejected, used, abused.”
“I despise myself, because I am no good. I’m not worthy or deserving of anything good.”
“I am property to be used and abused and trampled on.”
“I’m a burden to everyone and always have been. I have always been an inconvenience.”
“I am not worthy to be fought for.”

Can you imagine saying these things about yourself as a woman? Men, how about these for yourself:

“I don’t match up to the other guys.”
“I’m a failure.”
“I don’t have what it takes”
“My best days are over.”
“I had my chance in this life, but blew it. No more chances.”
“The world (or my family) would be better off without me.”

All of these statements about oneself are called agreements. What are agreements? Let’s look at the definitions.

Definition of agreement (n)

Bing Dictionary

  • a·gree·ment
  • [ ə gréemənt ]
  1. formal contract: a contract or arrangement, either written or verbal and sometimes enforceable by law
  2. situation or act of consent: the state of having come to the same opinion or having made the same decision as somebody else, or an expression of this state
  3. consensus of opinion: a situation in which everyone accepts the same terms or has the same opinion

As you can tell by the language in the three points, a “formal contract” (which assumes another party), an “act of consent” (which assumes another party), and consensus of opinion (which assumes another party) are contracts held in mutual understanding by at least two parties.

If the personal phrases above have ever been said by you, about yourself, you’ve made an agreement. You might think that somehow that would mean you’ve made an agreement with yourself. But think about it logically. It is quite literally impossible to agree with yourself. You already have an internalized belief or stance on something that you believe, either about yourself, someone or something else. It is what you have already concluded (or working to conclude). Making an agreement means that you have taken something that you already believe about yourself and are concurring with an outside source … or … an outside source has convinced you of something that you hadn’t previously believed and are now accepting that thing as fact.

Now comes the question: Why do you believe the things about yourself that you do? Even if you believe that aren’t agreeing with someone on the outside, you still had to have come to agree about your self-concept from somewhere, initially. So, let’s take a look at who you are, what you believe about who you are, and where that came from.

All judgments about oneself must have a standard, something with which to compare oneself to in order to determine whether the information that you are believing is true. If you have a million dollars in your bank account and you have full access to it, you cannot say that you are financially poor like the beggar on the street. Saying, “I am financially struggling” when you have no debt, and plenty of money would be preposterous. But if someone came up to you person and said, with authority, “Sir (or ma’am), I’m afraid that your bank account was robbed. Someone took all of your money. There is no way to get it back, and it wasn’t insured. You are broke,” that would be something else altogether. Immediately you might start feeling devastated. The first words to escape your mouth might be, “I’m broke.” An agreement was just made. You have accepted the information as truth. But, the fact of the matter is that the person telling you that you have no money has an agenda. He wants to steal the money that is still safely locked up in the bank. It’s a ploy by an enemy.

So, allow me to reveal a set standard for you (that has nothing to do with money). Let’s talk something more significant.

You, my friend, were not an accidental occurrence on this planet. If your birth parents did not intend for you to be born, that doesn’t mean that God didn’t. In fact, according to Scripture, you were actually thought about by God before your conception took place. God also talks about knowing you in the womb. That means that something of great significance took place at conception. The you that God wanted to exist was purposely place within the fertilized egg at the moment the sperm penetrated the cell wall. You were intentioned by God to have life at this time and place on Earth. There is absolutely no possibility of you being an accident.

What else does God have to say about your existence prior to your birth? He said you are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” This is the first outside statement to which you should agree. But someone needs to tell you that first before you can agree with it. Consider that done now. You—yes, YOU—were fearfully and wonderfully made … on purpose!

This one statement should negate virtually all of those negative self-statements above. Why? Because if you are made for a purpose, and you are still alive, then you have not, yet, completely fulfilled that purpose. You still have purpose!

Now, here’s the very first purpose for which you were born: to have a relationship with the one who intentioned you. God. Once you have accepted a relationship with your Father, through Jesus Christ, you have accomplished the most crucial aspect of your purpose going forward.

The second thing that you need to know is that God says, “I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” That’s pretty huge, in my estimation. As a human being, especially as a Christian, you have a purpose going forward.

That said, if you are hearing in your head things like, “I’m worthless.” “I have no purpose.” or “There is no point to my life.” You are getting the information from a different source. It cannot be true if God is true! Anything that contradicts what God has to say about you has to be coming from someone else pretending to be an authority in order to steal from you.

Allow me to speak about the spiritual realm, and one of the main players in it, Satan. The Bible says that his chief aim is “to kill and to steal and to destroy.” It also says of Satan, “He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” Another translation states it this way: “He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

Let me make this very clear. Truth does not have to exist in a statement for an agreement to be made.

You have a mortal enemy. He hates you. He loathes you. Never will there be an ounce of compassion in his mind or heart for you. He will pretend to pick you up after he has knocked you down, just so that he will have the pleasure of causing more pain when he knocks you down again. Satan is hate in its purest form.

Anytime that you have thoughts that sound like your own, that tear you to shreds, they did not come from God and … listen to me, now … they did not originate in you! They came from an outside source. A liar. And by agreeing with them, by verbalizing them or writing them, all you are doing is reinforcing those agreements. You are placing those horrible agreements into lockboxes in your soul and securing them in cement. You have got to stop! There are major spiritual, mental, emotional, and sometimes physical implications at play here.

David Felts says in his blog, “As we hear those words in our minds, if we don’t pull them down immediately and take them captive like the Bible says in 2 Corinthians 10:5, we will begin to believe those thoughts and then we run the risk of giving voice to them. And it is in giving voice to the thoughts of the enemy that we make an agreement with him and allow those thoughts to become a reality. “

Please, my friends, take time to find out who you really are. Discover who it is that God says you are. Learn about what it means to be a Christian. Get to understand why the song calls GRACE amazing. Once you discover, through the Bible, that God identifies every single born-again Christian as RIGHTEOUS, you will begin to see the value God places on you. Never, ever, doubt your worth, your significance on this planet. You are here for a reason. You are not a mistake. And as you pursue your relationship with God the Father, God the Son (Jesus), and the God the Holy Spirit, you will discover not only your purpose, but fulfillment in the midst of accomplishing that purpose. It’s a great way to live.

Now, let’s make some agreements with God (out loud):

“I am not a mistake!”
“Jesus created me because He wants to have me as a forever-lifelong brother and friend.”
“I am ‘the righteousness of God in Christ.'”
“‘There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus!'”
“God has a plan for me. A good one!”
“God counts me worthy of His time and attention and love and acceptance and forgiveness.”

Good. Now these are just a start. Remember, your old agreements that don’t agree with what God has to say about you, have been reinforced for a long time, both by the Enemy and by you. It’s going to take a little while to chip those horrible lies out of the concrete. But, the good thing is, that the more you speak life to yourself, the less strong the concrete becomes. Create a habit over the next 21 days to deliberately and with focus and effort start speaking sentences—words—of life over yourself, cutting away the negative ones. When you hear words to the contrary, use some Spiritual Warfare to push the Enemy—harassing spirits—back and away from you. You can do it, because you’ve got the authority of Christ to back you up.

If you are not familiar with the blog posts that I’ve written in the past, the links below may be of some help in figuring out what the whole Spiritual Warfare thing is about. I also write novels, one of them now published, that are not just entertaining, they teach Spiritual Warfare. Learn your enemy’s tactics. Learn how to fight. Get good at shutting down the lies of your enemy—of God’s enemy—and you just might find yourself living a life beyond what you thought possible!

The Demonization of America
Is It True Just Because We Want It To Be So?
Toothless Lion?
Where We All Live, But Refuse To See

Posted in Christian Life, Christianity, Life Issues, Spiritual Warfare | Leave a comment

The Demonization of America ← That’s a play on words

Newspaper Headline:

America Losing War to Demonic Enemy

Oppression3Of course, we’ll never see such a headline in the mainstream press. But, unbelievably, we’re not seeing or hearing that message from our Christian periodicals or websites either. Why is that? For most American Christians, the demonic realm (to include demonic oppression and possession) has been relegated as a “third-world” problem. That is if the American church is willing to believe in these things at all.

Mostly because of secular science, Americans “intellectualize” away the subject—the teachings— of demonism and Spiritual Warfare. How many of our mainline churches do the same? Unfortunately, I’d say the majority.

When was the last time your church congregation was provided with in-depth specifics about Satan and demons, about who they are and how they operate?

We’re up to our eyeballs in teachings about angelic beings (mostly counter-biblical), and we’re even told that we have authority to “dispatch” angels, which is also, from my study of the Word, anti-biblical. And not a single denomination should be left off the hook.

Even churches whose official doctrines actually specify a belief in the personhood of Satan and the demonic realm have dropped the ball by making teachings of their existence and interactions with humans a lesser focus in the church.

If we Christians, according to the Bible, “wrestle not against flesh and blood,” then we do, in fact, war with demonic spirits. How can we not talk about this subject? How can walking the Christian walk not include immersive teachings on battling in the spirit realm? How many people today are being severely impacted by withdrawing this biblical doctrine?

In my view, if hospital mental wards permitted the Gospel to be preached within their walls, those who eventually accept Christ would be on their way to psychological healing. Now, undoubtedly, some would have further situations to be dealt with spiritually and mentally, but at least in many cases demonic “ownership” would be put down in their lives. Afterward it would just be a matter of continued love and mentoring (discipleship) to help steady the person’s thought life. But, alas, to secularists, Christianity is more harmful than the schizophrenic episodes, the manic depression, and the suicidal tendencies experienced by many whom are institutionalized.

We Americans have become too “smart”—too “intellectual”—for our own good. The Word of God says about such people, “Professing themselves to be wise, they have become fools instead.” We need to stop attributing psychological and physiological answers to everything. There are many people with true mental illnesses, of course, but there are also a lot of people that have been assigned mental diagnoses, who really suffer from forms of spiritual anguish instead.

Another misperception needs to be cleared up when it comes to demonization; this about Christians who are influenced by demons: Christians cannot be possessed.

Believers can, however, be oppressed. There is a monumental difference.

Possessed people have not only relinquished self-control to a spirit(s), but in most cases do not have the ability to wrest control back on their own. And, it is very difficult for one who is possessed to become a Christian (a lot of work, love, prayer, and dedication are needed for this end result). But, praise God, after a person accepts Christ, he or she has the power and authority to renounce the enemy and can then be relieved of further oppression. There are many oppressed Christians under continual assault, with the demonic purpose being that of subterfuge; the decimation of Christians’ walks and witnesses.

America, we’ve got to get back into firm, foundational teachings about what we are dealing with in the spiritual realm. What we do not see with physical eyes—what we wrestle with, whether we want to believe in it or not—truly affects many aspects of our lives.

Christians, it’s time to serve the demonic realm notice. It’s time to declare war against those fallen spirits who are out to destroy our friends, families, acquaintances, and those we’ve not yet met.

Shout it loud and make it clear. “Enough! In the name of Jesus, your works are coming to an end!”

Posted in Christian Life, Christianity, Life Issues, Spiritual Warfare | 1 Comment

The Long, Dark Ravine

Suicide LetterYou are walking along a road. It seems safe, though it doesn’t, anymore, seem to be heading in the direction you once thought it might. After a while you notice that it’s not so much a road any longer as it is a path. It’s become narrower and you are starting to have some twinges of despair. Turning around, though, doesn’t seem to be an option because you’ve been on this road for quite a while, and retracing it to find another route holds no appeal. Anyway, you don’t feel as though you’ve got the strength to find a new direction. So you persist.

The path is now strewn with rocks. At either side, boulders now create what you hope are really barriers that will provide some protection from the world. Maybe people won’t see that your life isn’t heading the direction that you had hoped. Best to keep others in the dark. Besides, you’ve got this. It’s just another of life’s detours, and you’ll make through to the other side.

Time progresses, and so does the path. You hadn’t realized the change, but the boulders have been replaced by low walls and the sunlight seems to no longer be landing upon you with its warmth. That’s okay, though. A little bit of darkness allows you to hide a little better, and the walls that you are beginning to notice will afford another layer of separation from those around you, especially those who are starting to intrude on your life-decisions with their words of caution and “support.”

And, yes, time goes on. The walls are high now. You cannot see over the top. There is no longer any sunshine falling upon you. There is enough light to see where to step, but the path ahead is un-seeable. You’re finally admitting something to yourself; you’re scared. Now you want to turn around. You do so. You peer down the path from whence you’ve come and see that the walls that were once low appear as high as those ahead of you. What’s the point of turning back? And asking for help? No one needs to know your business. Right? Why drag someone else down with you? Who wants words of “comfort” that fall flat? Yes, they will be well-meaning, but it will all sound so cliché. You turn around again and walk.

The cliff walls are extremely high. There appear to be no hand holds for which to climb and pull oneself out. Now you notice two more things about your path: it’s descending and it’s getting colder.

You wonder, again, if you should turn around. Maybe this is the right point at which to call out for help. The niggling scariness of your situation has turned into something more: deep-seated fear. It’s becoming more and more difficult to think clearly—to focus on potential answers. All you know is that you are scared, lonely, and without a destination that seems to lead to anything happy or fulfilling. The realization has struck. You are without help, hope, and a future. All you want now is an exit.

This is the path to suicide, and it’s a decision that has been whispering to your conscious mind for a little while, now. Maybe the darkness is actually providing a peaceful solution. Death sounds final and appealing; a loss of consciousness forever. If not oblivion, certainly a better experience than is being lived at the moment. Something better.

As I write these words, I remember my own journey into the long, dark ravine. I remember my desperation, my unspoken fears and secret tears. I remember calling into the darkness for relief, hoping that if there was a God he’d hear me and help me escape. I remember the whispers, voices assuring me that death just might be the best avenue for me. After all, it wouldn’t just fix my current situation, but it would also relieve others of the pressure of having to deal with me and my problems. It sounded so logical. Relieve multiple burdens from myself and others with one pull of the knife. But there was a problem. One that I hadn’t initially foreseen during my deliberations.

My grandmother—the only Christian that I knew—believed … actually believed in a place called Heaven. It was a place. A destination. A resting place. It was where, in my mind, “good people” went. But, if only good people went there, then …

Could there be a real place called Hell? If so, could it really be worse than the “hell” in which I currently found myself?

Fear on top of fear. More anguish. More reason for me to hate who and where I was. Misery.

Friend (please, allow me to call you that), I know where you are. I know the feelings. I know whispers. I know the darkness.

I know the way out.

As an author, I wrote a book called Deliver Us from Darkness. Toward the beginning of the book a desperate teenager named Brent is forced to look at his desperate situation honestly because of a man who stepped in; a man willing to enter into Brent’s dark place.

“Something’s wrong. And, while you may think of me as just another authority figure doing his job, I want you to know that I really do care. If I can, I want to help.” He paused to allow his last statement to have a little impact. “Can you tell me what’s going on? Does it have something to do with life at home? Here at school?”

Brent looked up at his coach, a wary look touching his eyes. Would it hurt to trust this man? Could he just lay things out and expect someone like him to understand? He looked down at his notebook again. He’d risk it. His pride was pretty much demolished anyway.

“Coach, it has to do with a lot of things. Home, school, you name it. But I don’t think you’ll understand. God sure doesn’t seem to.” He shook his head. “I’m into something that even I don’t understand; something that I can’t get out of.”

“I’m listening,” said Coach Chamberlin. He stood and pulled his chair out from behind the table. Placing it a couple of feet away from Brent, he straddled it and sat down, the back of the chair providing an arm rest.

“Coach, I really don’t want to talk about this.” Brent began to choke up, tears pooling in his eyes.

“Brent, it’s okay. You may not believe it, but you’re with a friend.”

Brent rubbed away the tears before they fell. “You’re going to think I’m crazy.” How he wanted to get up and run. The heel of his left foot began tapping the floor nervously.

“Try me.”

“Coach, I’m lost. I’m lost, and I don’t know what to do. I’m afraid … and …” Brent stopped. His tongue seized. He had actually believed he could follow through. He fought in his mind for clarity. I can’t, he thought to himself. I’ve still got too much to lose. This could get me cut from the team.

Brent looked up, his red eyes showing the stress behind the tears. “I’m sorry, Coach. I thought I could, but I can’t. I can’t tell you.” His eyes trailed downward again.

“Okay, Brent. Relax. I’m not going to force it.” He began to get up to move back to his work area, but paused and sat back down.

“Brent? You said something a minute ago. I’m going to ask about it because you brought it up. You mentioned God.”

“Oh … yeah … him. What about it?”

“Do you believe in him?”

“I’m forced to believe in him. I don’t really have the luxury of not believing.”

“What do you mean? Are your parents forcing their beliefs on you?”

Brent released a cynical laugh. “My parents? Nuh-uh. They could use some religion, if you ask me. Coach, the reason that I can’t explain what I’m going through is the same reason I can’t tell you how I know there’s a God.”

“Okay,” Coach Chamberlin continued, “Let me ask you this, then.” Again he paused, obviously making sure that he had Brent’s full attention. Brent’s eyes met his again. “If you were to die tonight, would you go to Heaven?”

Brent looked up into his coach’s eyes, stunned. “What?”

“Would you?”

“I … uhh …” How was he supposed to respond to this? He panicked, searching within himself for some way out. This was cutting too close. “Yeah … I mean … I don’t…” Brent looked down again, knowing the next words out of his mouth were going to be a lie. “Yes,” he said firmly. And seemingly without the ability to keep his mouth closed, he followed it up with, “I hope.”

“Let me ask it another way. If you were to die tonight and found yourself standing before the throne of God … If he were to look you in the eyes and ask, ‘Why should I let you into my Heaven?’ what would you say?”

What the… Brent was at a total loss. If he were standing on a log in the middle of a lake he couldn’t have been more off balance than he was now. “Coach, I …” He stopped. He took a deep breath and spoke the only truthful answer that he could manage. “I’ve … I’ve never killed anyone. I don’t mean to hurt people. I …” He couldn’t find any more words. I what? I … what? He was staggered by his inability to produce another sentence. That was his best argument? That was the single statement that he could give to God as his defense against Hell?

Brent looked up again into the eyes of his coach, his own registering fear. He could see that Coach Chamberlin recognized it.

“Brent, listen to me…”

“Coach … Coach, I…” Brent’s thoughts were a torrent of emotions, of horrified realization.

“Brent. Shhh…It’s okay.”

Brent looked back and forth in his coach’s eyes, looking for something—anything—that would steal his panic away. He wasn’t seeing it.

“Brent,” Coach Chamberlin said more insistently. “It’s okay. Focus on what I’m saying.”

The fog in Brent’s mind seemed to clear a little bit.

“Brent, what are you doing tonight?”

That evening Brent goes to a place with his coach that is nerve-wrecking. Not because it’s a place of danger, but because it’s a place that runs completely against the grain of everything in his life. What he doesn’t understand, initially, is that he’s in the midst of a bunch of people who have his back, who are rooting for him, though they don’t know him nor are they even paying any attention to him at this time of great apprehension. He’s in a building filled with a bunch of people who know what broken lives are all about. These are people who know what it feels like to be mentally and emotionally trapped. People who have found that freedom for which Brent is so desperately searching.

A man by the name of Bob Naze speaks:

“Now I’m going to ask that everyone hold still. It doesn’t matter where any of us have to be in the next few minutes when you compare it to making sure everyone in here knows where they’re going to be for eternity.

“There are a lot of Christians in here—most of you, in fact. Many of you came to know Christ by coming to these meetings over the years. It is for those who do not yet know our Savior that we dedicate the remainder of our time together this evening.”

Brent felt queasiness return, and perspiration began to form on his brow and in his hands. What’s going on?

Bob continued, “I’d like for everyone in this room to bow his or her head right now; eyes closed.”

Brent glanced quickly to his right to see Coach Chamberlin and his wife bow their heads. He did the same. He was getting increasingly nervous. And now he understood why.

He recognized the awful presence, and he heard a confirming whisper in his mind. “Brent, don’t listen to this. This is foolishness.”

Brent forced his mind to focus on what Bob Naze was saying.

“Christians, I want you to begin praying for those in this room who do not know Jesus. Pray for barriers to be broken through and lying tongues to be quieted, in the name of Jesus Christ.”

“All of you here who aren’t quite sure what all of this is about, it is you that we are here for. It is you that we are praying for right now. And we pray for you because we know what Jesus Christ has done for each of us.

“Some of you here tonight are caught up in drugs and alcohol. Others of you are stuck in a rut of sexual addictions and perversions. And others of you are involved in some form of the occult—demonism, witchcraft, sorcery, divination, and the like. And there are also some of you here who have been struggling with the idea of suicide.”

Brent’s eyes shot open. He stared straight down at his feet, then chanced a look to see if his coach was looking at him. He wasn’t. He and his wife were visibly praying, their lips moving silently. Had his coach told this preacher about what he’d been going through? No. How could he? He didn’t know.

“Many of you men and women all over this church building have been going through such private hells that you’re scared to reveal the darkness behind your torment. But, listen to me. Jesus knows. He knows!

“He knows … and … he loves you still. There is nothing that you have done, and there is nothing that has been done to you, that has stopped him from loving you and wanting you to be his brothers and sisters, not to mention his friend.

“Jesus, himself, said that those who ask him to come into their lives will have a Friend that sticks closer than a brother.”

Brent’s mind was trying to take this all in.

You want me? How could you? My life’s a mess!

“I’m going to extend to you an invitation in a moment. An invitation to ask Jesus Christ to come into your lives. But first, I want all of you to know what the Bible has to say about all of this. And to do that, we’ve got to start at the beginning.

“You see, the earth as we know it wasn’t always broken. When God first created it, it was utterly perfect. A perfect Adam & Eve had a perfect relationship with God. They all shared a perfect love. There was also no death, no sickness, and no sin.

“God had told Adam that if he ate the fruit of a certain tree that he would die. Later, Satan tempted Eve and told her that God was holding back on them and that if they would eat that fruit they wouldn’t die, but that their eyes would be opened and they would be like God. She fell for it and got her husband to fall for it, too.

“That first sin caused the whole of God’s perfect creation to shift. Death was introduced, both spiritual and physical. Chaos erupted in, and through, the first family. Every succeeding generation has perpetuated that chaos. Every murder, every misuse of sex, every false religion, every war, and disease … all of it … is a result of that original sin.

“Remember, I said that spiritual death was also introduced. You see, Hell was not created for man. It was created for the devil and his angels. However, God cannot allow sin to do to Heaven what it first did to Earth, so no man or woman, boy or girl, will ever be allowed to bring it in.

“After that original sin was committed, God took the life of a spotless animal, shedding its blood in order to cover the guilt of Adam and Eve. Scripture makes it clear; ‘without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sin.’ By doing that, God was showing Adam and Eve that he still cared about them; that they still mattered. He also showed that there was a high price to pay for sin: The blood of an innocent.

“For thousands of years, God accepted the blood of animals to cover the sins of people, but the sacrifices were only good for one year. Each year the people were again reminded of the high cost that had to be paid for what they had done. God, though, had a plan that would result in one final sacrifice; one last shedding of blood. This last sacrifice wouldn’t just cover sin for one year; it would wash it away forever.

“Listen to Romans, chapter three, verse twenty-three: ‘All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.’ Romans, chapter six, verse twenty-three says that ‘the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.’

“See? All of us—every single one of us—has fallen short. There is not one single person in this room, or on this earth, that deserves anything other than eternal punishment. No amount of doing good can save you. It is only through Christ, and the shedding of his perfect blood, that we can have salvation—the forgiveness of our sins that will allow us into God’s kingdom instead of Hell.

“Some of you have been beat over the head with religious dos and don’ts. You feel like God is up there on his throne with a big hammer just waiting for the next time you do something wrong so he can make an example of you. But, that’s not how it is!

“Listen to what Jesus, himself, said: ‘God loved the world so much, that he sent his one, and only, Son, so that whoever would believe in him would not know eternal punishment, but, instead, would know eternal life!’ He went on to say, ‘God did not send his Son into the world to condemn it, but that the world, through him, might be saved.’ Isn’t that great news?”

God, Brent asked, is this true? Really? A hope rose within him.

“Right now, those of you who want to know this God – this Jesus – I want you to raise your hands.”

Before Brent could give himself time to think, his hand was in the air. He was so shocked by his response that he actually looked up at it. He closed his eyes again, returning his attention to the preacher.

“That’s it. You, there, sir, God bless you. You can put your hand down.”

Did he mean me, Brent wondered? He began to lower his hand.

“And you, young man, you can put your hand down. Yes. God bless you. Young lady in the back, God bless. You can put your hand down.”

One after another after another, hands went up and were acknowledged, for what seemed like several minutes. Brent was stunned by the realization that he wasn’t the only one whose life was messed up. But, then, Bob Naze had said that everyone needed Jesus, right?

Finally, Bob continued. “I want all of you who raised hands to make a bold statement. I want each of you to slip out of your seat and come down here to the altar. Come on now, don’t be afraid. There’s nothing to fear from forgiveness and peace.”

And with that, the band began to softly sing.

 Just as I am, without one plea;
But that they blood was shed for me,
And that Thou bidd’st me come to Thee
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Brent couldn’t just stand there. He wanted to believe that all of this was true. But he was struck with a new fear: What if this didn’t work?

What if I go down there… Tears developed in his eyes. What if … Oh God … what if this doesn’t work? There’s nothing else.

I’ve got nothing else! God! I’m scared! Do you hear me? I am scared!

 Just as I am and waiting not
To rid my soul of one dark blot,
To thee, whose blood can cleanse each spot,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

With a resolve that came from desperation, Brent slipped out of the pew and walked the fifteen miles to the altar. He saw that others were kneeling, so he did the same. He looked down and saw a box of tissues sitting right in front of him. Good thing, he thought. But he was going to try not to cry.

 Just as I am, though tossed about
With many a conflict, many a doubt,
Fightings and fears within, without,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

The song—written just for Brent over a hundred years prior—came to an end. Dozens of people filled the front of the church. He could hear people, men and women alike, sobbing … just like he wanted to do.

Bob began to speak again. “I’d like for everyone down here at the altar to look at each other for a moment. Look the full length of the altar area. I want you all to see that you are not alone when it comes to trials and complications in your lives. Now look up at me. I’m going to lead all of you in a prayer. I’d like for all of you to repeat it, out loud, as I say it. But I don’t want you just saying it. I want you to pray it. Speak it to God. He’s listening. I promise you, He’s listening. You’re not joining a church tonight, or some organization. Rather, you are beginning a personal relationship with the Creator of the Universe who takes a personal interest in you.

“Now, pray this after me: Father, in Heaven … I come to you now … broken and defeated. … I know that I need you. … I know that I’m completely lost without you. … According to your Word … all I have to do is believe and receive. … Right now, I confess … that I believe that Jesus … was conceived in, and born of, a virgin, … that he led a sinless life, … and because of that sinless life … He was able to take my place in death, … suffering and dying for my sins, … to make me right with you, Father God. … Jesus, right now … I ask you to come into my heart, into my life. … Forgive me of all of my sins … Clean me up inside; … inside my heart, inside my spirit, inside my mind. … Tonight I give you my life. … I will serve you and love you for the remainder of my days. … In your name, the name of Jesus, I pray … Amen.

‘Amens’ sounded throughout the sanctuary. Brent found out that trying to keep back the flood of tears was futile. He grabbed at the box of tissues, buried his face in a handful, and he wept.

He wept because God had accomplished in him what he had thought impossible.
He wept because the fears and pains of his life were gently being washed away.
He wept because he knew, now, that God really was good.
He wept because he knew … he was free.

Is it possible that it’s really as simple as that? Just surrendering to an invisible person up there in the air somewhere?

Well, first, God is visible in his creation. He’s actually visible in you and me, as we were both created in His image. Second, as with Brent, it’s got to be more than looking at prayer as some sort of mantra or spell. You are not in charge of anything. God is. Therefore your freedom is a request to be made, not a command to be ushered forth. Just know, and be comforted by the fact, that God joins with the desperate in their places of darkness.

If you decide that you want to try this whole “God thing” to “see how it works,” you’re still not getting it. Jesus is real, He’s alive, and He really does care. It’s time to drop your pretentions, your guard, and your secular “reasoning” and take a step of faith. You do have enough faith to reach out, and God promises to be found by those who seek Him with all of their hearts. Not only did He say that, He also said, “Draw close to Me, and I will draw close to you.”

Should you make this most-important decision, follow it up by reaching out. While a relationship with Christ is most certainly deeply personal, it is certainly not meant to be private. If you know a Christian whom you respect, talk with him or her. Let that person know about your decision or that you want to make the decision to know Christ. Get into a solid, Bible-believing church. Ask for help in finding the right one. There are a lot of churches that are “Christian” in name only. And, yes, I know there are fakers and hypocrites in the church, but that’s primarily because churches aren’t for the perfect. True Jesus-loving, Bible-believing, Christian churches are places of healing for imperfect people. It’s okay. You’ll survive the experience and even become part of the solution. For me, it’s great being around a bunch of people who know they aren’t the answer to everything. We all still have challenges, but we’ve got each other’s backs.

If you need or want to talk further about the things contained herein, please feel free to contact me. Also, my novel, Deliver Us from Darkness, is available on the Amazon and Barnes & Noble websites. It’s not just an exciting story.

Deliver Us From Darkness - Front Cover

 

 

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