Captured – Part 2

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In last week’s post I discussed the Devil, who he is and why he has a problem with humans. As a reminder, this is based on Father John Riccardo’s book Rescued, which I highly recommend that you read or listen to for yourself. This week I am going to do my best to discuss the Devil’s game plan and what his tactics are that he uses pretty successfully.

We know that the Devil HATES us. His ultimate goal is to enslave and degrade us. He wants to DESTROY us. How does he do this? We know that the greatest thing in life is love, and most especially the love of God. To deprive us of love the Devil tells us that we’re not worth loving; that if we were lovable then bad things wouldn’t happen to us; that people who supposedly love us wouldn’t let us get hurt. He’s the one who whispers, “If there really is a loving God then why is there such suffering and tragedy in this world? Why would a loving God let that happen?” And we fall for these lies! There is such suffering and tragedy in the world because this is the Devil’s kingdom and he reigns supreme. Adam and Eve fell for his lies and we’ve inherited that trait from them. They didn’t have any reason to distrust God and yet Satan was able to get them to disobey God’s only rule in the garden.

Due to the fall of Adam and Eve, Death and Sin entered the world. These aren’t just things or states of being. Death and Sin have tremendous power over all of us. No matter what you do you are going to die. No matter how much money you make or how much time you spend volunteering, at some point you are going to die. There is nothing that will stop this from happening. We are doomed, right? So why bother going on. Why bother trying to resist? Because there is hope!

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believed in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him will not be condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”

John 3:16-18 (NABRE)

Jesus came to earth to save us from the clutches of Death and Sin. Are we still going to die? Yes, BUT we will be raised with Christ! What does that mean? It means that when the day of judgement comes those who have believed will be welcomed into God’s presence with open arms while hearing, “Well done good and faithful servant!” That’s what we want to hear, right? We don’t want to hear Jesus tell us that we didn’t make it and we are banished to hell. Where does that leave us? That leaves us in the grip of the Devil to do with us as he pleases. Keep in mind that Newton’s third law says that for every action there is an opposite and equal reaction. Who was the one who designed all laws of physics and science? God. So, Kerry’s First Law (that’s me… I’m claiming this as my own) states that for as much love as God has for us, the Devil has the opposite and equal hatred for us. Think about that for a minute. In the ‘Created’ section we discussed how each of us is God’s most precious and beloved creation above all else. That means that we are also the Devil’s most hated, most loathed and most despised creation. The worst tortures and sufferings that we humans have created have NOTHING on what the Devil can inflict upon us. That is what Death does to us… consigns us to the Devil’s power. Thus, we needed somebody to save us from this power.

“How can we who died in sin yet live in it? Or are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life.

For if we have grown into union with him through a death like his, we shall also be united with him in the resurrection. We know that our old self was crucified with him, so that our sinful body might be done away with, that we might no longer be in slavery to sin. For a dead person has been absolved from sin. If, then, we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him. We know that Christ, raised from the dead, dies no more; death no longer has power over him. As to his death, he died to sin once and for all; as to his life, he lives for God. Consequently, you too must think of yourselves as [being] dead to sin and living for God in Christ Jesus.”

Romans 6:2-11 (NABRE)

Sin. Paul makes it sound so simple that you either sin or you don’t. I wish it was that simple! It’s not like black licorice where it seems like you either like it or you don’t. There aren’t too many people who are indifferent to this candy; either you passionately love it or you hate it with every fiber of your being. If people could walk away from sin as easily as they can walk away from black licorice, this world would be a much better place. But it’s very difficult! Why? Because the Devil is right there whispering in our ears. First he tells us that we’re not worth anything better. He accuses… He accuses God because God didn’t stop the suffering when he so easily could have done so. Then he accuses us that it’s our fault that something bad happened. Think of the child who thinks it’s their fault when their parents fight. Then he accuses others, that they could have stopped the bad thing from happening. As he’s doing all of this, and it’s working, he is slowly encircling you with chains to enslave you and keep you under his power. He also divides, lies, flatters, tempts and discourages.

The best example I can think of when it comes to how the Devil works is by taking a look at the girls who often end up in the Adult Entertainment industry. What happens? First, Mr/Ms Smooth comes up and tells the girl how beautiful she is, that she would make a billion dollars as a model and they can help her get those kinds of jobs. (Flattery) They set up a “photo shoot” or fly her out to a big city where she can meet the people who are going to throw cash her way. (Lies/Divides) When she is separated from family or people who actually care about her, they show her the life that she wants to live (tempts). However they finally get her to perform whatever act they have in mind, they have usually spent enough time discouraging her and accusing her of being an embarassment to her family, that she feels she has no power and can’t leave these people who have ruined her life. Can you imagine that kind of life? You used to be happy and proud of yourself. Now you hate the very things you are doing, but you feel that you really are worthless and that your parents or friends would be so ashamed of you that they would never want you back in their lives. You are all alone and completely at the power of these dispicable people. You are degraded and enslaved. You are unloved, unwanted, and completely devoid of all hope.

I’m going to leave you with that thought. Spend some time thinking about being in that pit of despair, abused and controlled by people who don’t care about you. You are trapped without hope of rescue.

Destiny of Glory

“I consider that the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us. For creation awaits with eager expectation the revelation of the children of God; for creation was made subject to futility, not of its own accord

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but because of the one who subjected it, in hope that creation itself would be set free from slavery to corruption and share in the glorious freedom of the children of God. We know that all creation is groaning in labor pains even until now; and not only that, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, we also groan within ourselves as we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. For in hope we were saved. Now hope that sees for itself is not hope. For who hopes for what one sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait with endurance.

In the same way, the Spirit too comes to the aid of our weekness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit itself intercedes with inexpressible groanings. And the one who searches hearts knows what is the intention of the Spirit, because it intercedes for the holy ones according to God’s will.” ~ Romans 8:18-27 (NABRE)

I seem to be drawn to the passages of the Bible that mention hope in the face of darkness. I’m not sure if that’s a message meant for me or for somebody who may be reading this post. Either way, it’s not a bad message to ponder. So, let’s sit and ponder it for a moment.

This passage actually reminds me of what my mother-in-law is going through right now. Just when she thinks that she has managed to overcome an obstacle, another one pops up to smack her in the face. My husband is getting frustrated because he doesn’t understand why all of this is happening. To be fair, a lot of it is due to negligence on her late husband’s part. He let the house run down and now she’s having to fix things that she didn’t realize were bad. My husband is wondering where God is in all of this and why isn’t He giving her a little bit of a break before He tosses another obstacle in her way. I’ve been pondering this all week.

First off, I know that God is with her always and He wouldn’t give her anything that she can’t handle. Secondly, it may be that God is showing her that she’s way stronger than she ever thought possible. I know that’s not how she wants to learn it, but he’s guiding her down this path for a reason. I’m not sure what it is. Maybe it’s to put her to the test. Or maybe it’s to bring somebody else into her path who needs her in their life. We may never know. All we can do is continue to do our best and give praise for what He has already given to us.

That’s the thing that we need to keep in mind. No matter what our struggles are right now, they are nothing in comparison to the glory and love that awaits us. If you’ve ever had children (and I haven’t so I’m taking their word for it), many mothers will say that the pain and suffering through pregnancy and labor were well worth it for their child. In fact, many don’t let the pain and suffering from one baby stop them and they have multiple children. So all of this pain and suffering that we are going through here will be completely forgotten when we are in His presence.

We cannot see what awaits us, but that’s okay. “For in hope we were saved. Now hope that sees for itself is not hope. For who hopes for what one sees? But if we hope for wat we do not see, we wait with endurance.” (Romans 8:24-25)

Hope. Endure. Love. It will all come out right in the end.

Many Parts in One Body

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“For by the grace given to me I tell everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than one ought to think, but to think soberly, each according to the measure of faith that God has apportioned. For as in one body we have many parts, and all the parts do not have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ and individually parts of one another. Since we have

gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us exercise them: if prophecy, in proportion to the faith; if ministry, in ministering; if one is a teacher, in teaching; if one exhorts, in exhortation; if one contributes, in generosity; if one is over others, with diligence; if one does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.” ~Romans 12: 3c-8 (NABRE)

In school you often hear the term ‘student body’ to refer to the entire group of students. We were all one group, though that group was made up of many different people with different interests and different gifts. Collectively we referred to ourselves as “The <insert school’s mascot here>”. Yet, when you walked into the cafeteria at lunch time you would see many different groups that had formed. Did you sit with the athletes? Maybe you were part of the Popular group. Then there were the farm kids, the goths, the science nerds, the band geeks, and I could go on and on… The point is that even though you all identified as one Body, you were also MANY different parts.

I was thinking about this as I sat through a medical test my husband was undergoing. He had to have a cardiac stress test with an echocardiagram. As the tech placed the wand against my husband’s chest I could see the image of his heart beating on the screen in front of her. I watched the valves open and close with each beat. I could hear the sound of the blood pulsing through those valves as they did their jobs. Maybe it was just me, but not only was I fascinated by the fact that we have the technology to be able to do this, I also marvelled at the fact that SOMEBODY has to invent this machine and this process. I was never good in science because I can’t quite wrap my head around a lot of it. When it comes to calculating the distance between the Earth and the Moon you might as well be speaking a foreign language as you explain it to me because I will understand it just as much.

My husband and I were sitting through this test (well, technically at this time he was laying on his side) because he is going through the process to be evaluated as a living liver donor. Did you know that you can remove over half of your liver and it will regenerate itself in about 6-8 weeks? Due to this they can take a healthy part of a liver and give it to somebody who is in need of one, but not at the point of needing an ENTIRE liver (which can only be procured through donations when somebody has died). First off, whoever discovered this fact was either VERY twisted or a genius. However, I started thinking about how God made us in His image. Then how we are His design. The idea that He created us in such a way that we can donate blood, platelets, antibodies, and even organs to each other is amazing. How many things has God created us to do that we have yet to discover??

This brings me back to Romans 12. Not only are we all humans who can share literal pieces of ourselves with others, but all of the talents and gifts that God has entrusted to us have allowed us to discover these processes, technologies, and procedures. He gave somebody the talent and intelligence to create imaging machines so that we can look inside our bodies to see what’s going on without having to undergo exploratory surgery. Yet he also gave somebody the talent to be able to machine the tools needed to perform the surgery once the problem has been detected. You need a place to perform the surgery, so he gave some people the talent to be able to design structurally sound buildings in which the doctors can work. I could go on and on…

Next time you put yourself down for not being able to do something that another person is good at doing, take stock of what YOU are good at doing. In order to function as a body or a society you need a variety of skills and talents to make everything work smoothly. What part do you play in the functioning of the body? What are your talents and gifts?

Faith and Hope

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Since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access [by faith] to this grace in which we stand, and we boast in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we even boast of our afflictions, knowing that affliction produces endurance, and endurance, proven character,

and proven character, hope, and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the holy Spirit that has been given to us. For Christ, while we were still helpless, yet died at the appointed time for the ungodly. Indeed, only with difficulty does one die for a just person, though perhaps for a good person one might even find courage to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us. How much more then, since we are now justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath. Indeed, if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, how much more, once reconciled, will we be saved by his life. Not only that, but we also boast of God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. ~ Romans 5:1-11 (NABRE)

The Greatest Generation. What comes to mind when you hear that phrase? Take a moment to roll through the images that pop into your head. In my mind I see dirty, skinny little kids wearing rags, surrounded by dry dusty ground in a photograph showing the Dust Bowl. I then see the black and white news reel images of WWII airplanes engaged in battle, images of sailors scrambling for their posts as their ships come under attack, and bombers dropping their cargo on the enemy below. I see the women working in factories to keep the war effort going at home.

This generation of people was known as the “greatest” because of what they endured and how they overcame it. They started out life by surviving the Great Depression and then they headed off to war to fight the terrible evil that was spreading across Europe (and would eventually include South East Asia). This generation of people had grit, power and determination. They saw an evil being committed so they attacked it head on. When the war was over they went back home and got back to living life. They didn’t ask for recognition, awards or compensation. In fact, if you’ve ever known a WWII veteran they often won’t talk about what happened during the war. They did what they had to do and then they came home to get on with life.

… affliction produces endurance, and endurance, proven character, and proven character, hope…

Romans 5:3-4

Most of our greatest successes come after we’ve slogged through a lot of hard work, turmoil and trouble. It is only by facing problems, figuring out how to surmount them and then actually conquering them that we can learn from them. We take that knowledge and we build upon it when we hit the next obstacle. Every time you overcome an obstacle it builds confidence in yourself. Take a moment to think about this statement. Think of the last time that you overcame some kind of problem that required you to dig down deep and find the resources to get past it. How did you feel when you realized that the problem was behind you? Doesn’t that knowledge give you courage and confidence to confront the next one that pops up?

Parents and mentors refer to this kind of gained knowledge as Tough Love. Could they tell their children how to overcome the problem? Could they get in there and possibly help their children through it, or solve it themselves so that the children don’t have to even deal with it? Of course, but that doesn’t really help that child in the long run. They don’t learn how to endure or suffer through an issue. They don’t even learn how to approach a problem and solve it on their own. You do a huge disservice to a child by making their life so easy that they never have to learn how to do anything themselves. They grow into young adults who are “triggered” and easily offended, so they need “safe spaces” in order to cope. Seriously? Jesus’ entire ministry was a new movement and new way of thinking that offended the religious leaders at that time. Jesus even told his disciples that they would be hated in Jesus’ name, but I can’t find anywhere in the Bible where it says that he provided them with “safe spaces.” There’s only one safe space and none of us will get there until we’ve walked through the trial and tribulations of this world and are welcomed into the next. When we are in His presence, then we will know that we’ve reached the ultimate safe space.