When Satan Tries to Lie: Part 3

One of Satan’s main tactics against those who follow Christ is distraction. He doesn’t have to tempt you into some “major” sin to be successful in his mission to steal, kill, and destroy. He simply needs to encourage you to take your eyes off God, to distract you from what God wants you to do.

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In the past few years, I’ve been learning how to catch the enemy at his game. It started a few years ago, when I realized he was trying to use the size of my t-shirt to distract me from worship and fellowship at a women’s retreat. Another time, I came to understand that the enemy was trying to overwhelm me with a to-do list. He wanted me to think I had too much to do and get overwhelmed so I wouldn’t start anything. More recently, I caught myself buying into the lie that I didn’t have time to complete short, simple tasks. Satan was encouraging me to procrastinate on things I needed to get done, to put them off until later.

And just the other day I caught the enemy planting seeds of discouragement and shame so I wouldn’t write this post.

For this week’s post, I planned to write about focusing on others. This topic is an important part of my writing focus; I seem to gravitate toward the idea of focusing on others in my own quiet time with God and to study scripture that encourages this when I read the Bible, so I was writing more and more around that theme.

I started working on this article, as I often do, by free-writing in my notebook about the topic for the week’s post. Suddenly, I remembered something: I don’t focus on others. I wrote in my journal, It’s hilarious that this has become one of the main “cogs” in the wheel of my writing because it isn’t something I do.

My pen kept going: I know I should. I see it in scripture. I just don’t follow through. I don’t live my life that way. I’m not even a social person! Ha! I’d rather not engage in too much conversation with people. I don’t know how to make small talk and get conversations going, so I just don’t – at least not as often as I probably should. I want so badly to be liked and to have friends and to be someone others want to be around, but I’m not. I’ve never been. My life is a testament to being unfriendly.

Whoa!

Thankfully, God opened my eyes to what was going on. I needed to take captive those thoughts because they were all from Satan. He was and is still telling me I can’t write about focusing on others because I don’t focus on others, and I was journaling those thoughts as fast as I could as if they were the gospel truth.

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I shifted my focus back to God. I acknowledged what was going on. That Satan was distracting me by feeding me the now-familiar mantra about me not being friendly and not wanting to engage with people. I began to pull back the curtain, so to speak, and see the mantra for what it was – a distraction. God sat me down to write this week’s article, and Satan immediately set out to derail me.

Once my focus was in the right place, God led me to write this: God made me who I am. He gave me the personality I have. He put me where I am. Obviously, He is going to work through me in spite of myself. I just need to move forward. I just need to act when He says to act. Not worry about my personality. Just follow Him. He’ll show me how to focus on others.

Just because I’m not the most outgoing, introverted person doesn’t mean I can’t focus on others.

I can give of my time, energy, and resources for other people.

I can serve others.

As I was freewriting, I came to understand that I’ve been focusing on the response from others, and that’s the wrong way to approach it. I want a large group of friends who think I’m totally awesome and want to hang out with me all the time. I want to be cheered and celebrated because I’m so great at putting others first and everyone knows it…but that is totally the wrong approach.

My reason for looking to the needs of others shouldn’t be what I stand to gain from it or how popular I’ll be if I do it. The point is God told me to do it. It doesn’t matter whether anyone else in the whole world knows what’s going on. I shouldn’t put others first in order to gain recognition or acclaim. I should put others needs first because the Lord of my life calls me to.

How does Satan try to distract you from what God calls you to do? How do you take captive your thoughts and refocus yourself on God?

How do you focus on others? In what ways do you serve? In what ways to do you offer your time and resources?

I’d love to hear from you.

When It All Changed (Repost)

(Author’s Note: August means school is right around the corner, and the kids start 4th grade and kindergarten in a few weeks.  Plus, I start a new job after Labor Day – will blog about that soon since I addressed it in an earlier post.  So, I am taking a short break from writing new posts this month so I can focus on time with the kids and getting ready for the new job. 

Have you ever been walking along through your life, happy in your own little bubble of comfort and familiarity, when all of a sudden – BAM – the bubble bursts, and you realize not everybody is like you?  Yep!  That’s exactly how I felt when I was 18 years old, and I stepped onto the campus of the University of North Carolina at Wilmington (UNCW).

The first 18 years of my life were fairly structured and sheltered.  I had a simple childhood.  Most of the people around me had grown up in a similar way.  Most of my friends were from middle-class, southern, Christian families, too.

My family went to church regularly, and I was saved sometime around 12-years-old.  To add to that, my parents were fairly strict, so I stayed out of trouble in high school.  I grew up in a small town anyway.  Everybody knew my parents and me, so it would have been challenging to get away with very much.  I was what you’d call a ‘good girl’, for the most part, but it wasn’t necessarily because I was convicted as a result of my relationship with God and wanted to bring Him glory.  It was mostly to avoid being grounded and having my car taken away. 🙂

But, when my parents cut me loose on the campus of UNCW in August of 1997, I took full advantage of the 150 miles between my hometown and the exciting new place to which I had moved.  I had my wild streak and made up for the lost time in high school.

(It is noteworthy to mention that, although they were a two-and-a-half-hours drive away from me, my parents and my upbringing still held pretty strong sway over much of my behavior.  I did what I wanted to an extent, but I still held it in check.  That distance didn’t mean they had no influence or power over me at all.  I didn’t want them to make me come home, so I took my rear end to class and made decent grades).

Although I got to exercise my freedom and experience some of the things my parents warned me about, the thing that was damaged most by my choices was my faith…and I didn’t even realize it was happening.

During my first semester as a college freshman, I took an elective called Introduction to Religion.  It was a survey of religion as a whole – more of a philosophical look at the institution of religion, if I remember correctly.  I have no idea why I took it though; I must have needed an elective, and it fit into my schedule.

I distinctly remember a lecture early in the semester when the teacher said that religion was man’s creation.  He explained that man-made religion was a way to answer life’s big questions: Why am I here?  How did I get here?  What happens when I die?

Those words stand out to me even now.  That was a pivotal moment for me.  I should have followed Paul’s warning to the Corinthian Christians in 2 Corinthians 10:5…”take captive every thought to obey Christ.”  But I didn’t do that. I highly doubt I even knew that was a thing.

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Instead, I remember thinking that my eyes were being opened.  I was excited!  I felt enlightened!  I felt as though I were figuring out some mystery all by myself.  This was an epiphany – an important revelation to which I was privy.  I thought, “Everyone is just trying to figure out life and make it in this world!  We just do it differently.”

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This enticed me further onto a path that I happily walked down.  I was willing.  I was discovering.  I was eager to uncover more of this new reality about which I was learning.  I didn’t see it at the time, but these patterns of thought were what led me to completely turn my back on Jesus and spend more than 10 years walking out on my own.  I thought I was liberated.  I thought I was so modern.  But I was heading toward a dangerous place, a place God doesn’t intend for His children to go.

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