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3 Ways a Star Wars Villain Points to a Greater Story

3 Ways a Star Wars Villain Points to a Greater Story

My husband and I counted down the days. On Friday, December 15, Lucasfilm released the eighth Star Wars movie, The Last Jedi. We were there. Early. My hubby is the kind of fan who already knew the first two words of the upcoming film (“We’re not . . .”).

So naturally, after we married a couple of years ago, Trevor and I had a Star Wars marathon. He introduced me to all I’d missed out on in my deprived life up until that point. Now, I have to say, I’m a fan. In fact, I agreed to let Trevor design Iren’s baby announcement around Star Wars.

Consequently, today I’m sharing three ways Star Wars villain Kylo Ren points to a greater story. Check it out, and be encouraged. If you’re in Christ—no matter how dark your world may look—the dark side will not win.

3 Ways a Star Wars Villain Points to a Greater Story

If you saw the last Star Wars movie, The Force Awakens, you’ll remember Han Solo talking about how a young boy who was once a Jedi apprentice turned to the dark side and destroyed Luke Skywalker’s fledgling Jedi academy.

When I saw who that boy became, I was reminded of a few ways the new Star Wars villain, Kylo Ren, parallels our actual enemy, Satan. (Spoiler alert for those who haven’t yet seen The Force Awakens!)

  1. Just as Kylo Ren was once a Jedi apprentice, Satan was once a good angel of light.

We know this because all God created was good, not evil. Genesis 1:31 shows God standing back, assessing His creation:

God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good (emphasis added).

  1. Both Kylo Ren and Satan rebelled against their former masters.

Just as Kylo destroyed Luke’s academy, at some point before Genesis 3:1, Satan rebels against God. Jude 1:6 fills us in on his journey to the “dark side”:

The angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day.

  1. Both Kylo and Satan were wounded but given more time to work their evil.

After Kylo was defeated and scarred by Rey, Kylo retreated to his dark master, Snoke. We’ll see his fight continue against “the light” in some shape in The Last Jedi.

Similarly, God cast Satan out of heaven, but he was allowed to continue his work on earth for a time:

The great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. And I heard a loud voice in heaven saying “Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!” (Revelation 12:9-12).

Satan was then crushed at the cross, as it had been foretold in Genesis 3:15:

“He [the offspring of the woman, Jesus] shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”

Hebrews 2:14 tells us:

Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself [Jesus] likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil (emphasis added).

Yet the devil still limps around, like the scarred Kylo.

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8).

Why didn’t God put a complete end to Satan long ago? Pastor John Piper explains it well in this excellent sermon:

Jesus Christ will be more highly honored in the end because he defeats Satan through longsuffering, patience, humility, servanthood, suffering, and death, rather than through raw power. And the more highly honored the Son is, the greater the joy of those who love him.

Ways This Star Wars Villain Does Not Point to the Greater Story

This is where the similarities between Kylo and Satan end. Because while Kylo and the other evil members of the First Order continue their terror in that galaxy far, far away, no one will ultimately continue Satan’s work.

Jesus Christ has risen to ensure that the darkness will not overcome the light. He is the stronger one! Soon Satan, sin, and death will be utterly and completely done away with. Revelation 20:10 gives us a glimpse into the future:

And the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

This is incredible reason to rejoice! As epic as the Star Wars movies are, they are just that . . . movies. But Satan’s final demise (and sin and death’s) is as sure as a Star Wars nerd cooking up a terrible Rey parentage or Snoke origin theory.

What does this mean for you? The end to all:

Praise God. No matter how dark your world may look, the dark side will not win.

The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you (Romans 16:20).

3 Ways a Star Wars Villain Points to a Greater Story was originally published on Patheos.com.

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Charlie, Charlie: Contacting a Demon or an Innocent Game?

Charlie, Charlie: Contacting a Demon or an Innocent Game?

What’s the big deal?

All my friends are playing it.

It’s just an innocent little game!

Maybe you’ve had some of these thoughts about the latest “game” that’s captured teens’ hearts around the world. The Internet is loaded with videos of teens running, screaming, after asking “Charlie, Charlie, are you there?” and then seeing the pencil move on its own. (For the record, I wouldn’t recommend this Google search. If you’re wondering why, keep reading.)

It’s no game to try to communicate with demons.

It’s no game to try to communicate with demons (some claim Charlie is a Mexican demon, while others chalk the whole thing up to psychological suggestion or to the precariousness of one pencil balancing on another).

Regardless of whether Charlie is indeed a demon or a just a scary game, God is very clear about steering clear of anything even remotely close to “Charlie, Charlie.” Check out God’s words to His people in Deuteronomy 18:9–12,

“When you come into the land that the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominable practices of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer or one who inquires of the dead, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the LORD.”

Regardless of whether a particular spirit named “Charlie” exists or not, this I do know:

    1. The spirit world is real, and demons are dangerous enough for me to want to stay as far away from them as possible (Eph. 6:12).
    2. God specifically commands us not to try to contact spirits (Deut. 18:10–12).
    3. Spirits like “Charlie” are not “innocent.” They have either chosen to follow God or to rebel against him and follow Satan. They all have an agenda: either to carry out Satan’s commands or to carry out God’s commands (Rev. 12:9).
    4. Satan’s mission is directly opposed to Jesus’ mission; Satan seeks to steal and kill (and scare!) and destroy, while Jesus came to give us life—vibrant, thriving life (John 10:10–11).
    5. Jesus has freed me from darkness. So why would I want to contact someone from the realm of darkness? (Col. 1:13).
    6. Jesus triumphed over evil at the cross, and Satan soon will be locked away forever (Col. 2:15, Rev. 20:10).

So while the rest of your friends are running, screaming in fear—from Charlie—see to it that evil spirits run from you. How? James 4:7 holds the key:

“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”

How cool is that?! Rather than fleeing in fear, you can actually cause the devil to flee from you, if you are resisting him, submitting to God, and full of Christ’s Spirit (which He freely gives you when you trust in Him and Him alone in order to be accepted by God).

So it’s up to you. Run in fear from Charlie, or have Charlie and his demons flee from you.

Me, I choose the later.

Oh, and I will not be playing “Charlie, Charlie” anytime soon.

Charlie, Charlie: Contacting a Demon or an Innocent Game? was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com. 

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Should You Try to Contact the Dead?

Should You Try to Contact the Dead?

Months ago, a girl asked me what God thinks of ghosts. I hemmed and hawed because . . . I had no earthly idea. But since Halloween is tomorrow, I thought it was as good a time as any to search God’s Word for an answer.

Do Ghosts Really Exist?

I’m sure you’ve heard talk of ghosts—maybe on a show like Ghost Whisperer, a movie like The Sixth Sense, a visit to a haunted house, or those chilling ghost stories your friends tell around the campfire.

But, do ghosts really exist? And what exactly does God think about ghosts?

First, a definition. According to Wikipedia,

“A ghost is the soul or spirit of a dead person or animal that can appear, in visible form or other manifestation, to the living.”

God’s Not a Fan

Ghosts don’t just roam around on the earth at their will. (Many believers point to verses like 2 Cor. 5:8 to indicate that spirits don’t “hang around” on earth after they die.) You don’t have to worry about bumping into one if you’re out walking through the cemetery on a damp, fall evening.

Ghosts (the spirits of the dead) have to be proactively contacted through a witch, medium, or spiritist. And God is super clear about what He thinks of that practice:

“Let no one be found among you who . . . is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD” (Deut. 18:10–12).

Even though King Saul knew this, he decided to consult the dead anyway. You can read all about it in 1 Samuel 28:3–19. He’s not the only one tempted to do this, though. Teens just like you try to contact the dead every day.

God doesn’t need to be contacted by a medium. Through Jesus you have direct access to Him anytime, any place.

Eight years ago, in 2006, the Barna Group surveyed 4,000 teens. The study found that three-quarters of U.S. teens had “engaged in at least one type of psychic or witchcraft-related activity, beyond mere media exposure or horoscope usage.” Ten percent had participated in séances, where they tried to contact the dead.

How about you? Have you ever tried to contact the spirit world? If so, what motivated you to do so? I’d love to hear about it.

Better Than Contacting the Dead . . .

If you’ve ever been tempted to contact the dead, consider this.

God doesn’t need to be contacted by a medium. Through Jesus you have direct access to Him anytime, any place,

“Since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near . . .” (Heb. 10:19–22).

The only way you and I can possibly have access to this holy, holy, holy God is by placing all our trust in His Son who died in our place in order to forgive and cleanse us from all our sin. After His death on the cross, Jesus was dead for a total of three days. But unlike all other dead people, He didn’t need a medium, spiritist, or witch to call Him up. He broke the chains of death and rose from the grave all by Himself—for good!

That said, here’s my question for you:

Why try to contact the dead when you can talk to the One who conquered death—the ever-living One who has the keys to death and the grave?

“I am the living one. I died, but look—I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and the grave” (—Jesus, Rev. 1:18, NLT).

Should You Try to Contact the Dead?” was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com.

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The Scoop on Self

 

The Scoop on Self

 

 

Not only are there enemies against you out there (Satan and the world), there’s an enemy within you—your very Self or “flesh.”

Self is made up of your passions and desires that are opposed to God and His ways. At one time, all of us were slaves to Self, willingly bowing to its every whim and demand:

We all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind (Eph. 2:3).

You can hear the defeat in this message I received from someone recently who’s experiencing slavery to Self:

I read some of your recent posts, and it sounds like you’re able to do the one thing I struggle with most—filling my time with heavenly thoughts instead of thinking of my sexual needs! The worst part about it is that I sometimes feed those needs! We’re all sinners! AAAAAGGGHHH!

What this person doesn’t realize is that they’re not sexual needs; they’re sexual desires. And Self’s desires can be beat. How? Not by self-effort! As Andrew Murray says, “Self can never cast out self.”

You can’t rescue yourself from Self, but there’s a Savior who can! God wants to save you—not only from His wrath against your sin—but from slavery to your sinful desires. If and when you put all your faith and trust and hope in Jesus’ sacrifice for your sin, your old self was put to death with Jesus:

We know that our old self was crucified with him [Jesus] in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin (Rom. 6:6).

Galatians 5:24 tells us,

Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

Do you belong to Jesus Christ? If so, consider yourself dead to sin and dead to Self. Then rely on the powerful Spirit of Jesus Christ who lives in you in order to defeat Self on a moment-by-moment basis.

Here’s how, from my book, Confessions of a Boy-Crazy Girl: On Her Journey from Neediness to Freedom:

You used to have just one way of living—it was always and only life in the flesh. Life controlled by your natural, sinful desires and drives. Now, though, if Jesus has made you a brand-new person with brand-new desires and power to do right, you can “walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh” (Gal. 5:16). Each day, each moment, you have two choices. You can either:

1. Operate in the flesh.

Or

2. Operate in the Spirit

At any given point, only the flesh or the Spirit will be in charge. Just as you can’t run backward and forward at the same time, you can’t live in the flesh and the Spirit. Galatians 5:17 says:

The desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other.

Until God gives you an eternal, sinless body, you are going to experience an ongoing fight between the flesh and the Spirit. You will decide whom you allow to gain the upper hand by the choices you make. Which is more evident in your life, the works of the flesh or the fruit of the Spirit?

The Scoop on Self” was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com.

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The Scoop on the World

 

The Scoop on the World

 

 

We’re profiling our enemies in this blog series (click here for your first enemy). Your next enemy might come as a surprise to you. It’s . . . the world.

When you think of the world, you might think of exploring Paris and New Zealand and the Ivory Coast (how exciting does that sound?!). The world seems like a neutral space full of endless possibilities for adventure. It is . . . right?

It all depends on what you mean by “world.”

The World as It First Was
I love the poem in Proverbs 8:22–31 where Wisdom is personified as a woman remembering the time long ago when she had a front-row seat as God handcrafted the physical world. I can just hear her excitement as she leans forward, a sparkle in her eye, and recounts,

“I was beside him, like a master workman, and I was daily his delight, rejoicing before him always, rejoicing in his inhabited world and delighting in the children of man” (v. 31).

After Wisdom watched God create the first dust of the world and the earth with its fields and the first man and the first woman, she saw Him put them in a beautiful garden. Then she watched as He talked and walked with the man and his wife (Gen. 3:8).

Unfortunately, she was also there when our first parents turned their backs on Wisdom and chose instead to rebel against God. The whole world was placed under a curse (Rom. 8:20–22).

The World as It Now Is
The sad fact is, you’re not living in an environment that’s for you, like a tomato plant in a sunny greenhouse. Your life in this world is more like a tomato plant that’s been thrown into a pitch-black furnace room in the bowels of a factory.

For now (but certainly not for forever!), Satan is the “god of this world” (2 Cor. 4:4) and the “ruler of this world” (John 12:31). What does that mean? S. Michael Houdmann explains:

Satan is the major influence on the ideals, opinions, goals, hopes, and views of the majority of people. His influence also encompasses the world’s philosophies, education, and commerce. The thoughts, ideas, speculations, and false religions of the world are under his control and have sprung from his lies and deceptions.

So while God’s created world is still good, the whole world system is not. First John 2:16 warns us,

All that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world.

If you want to learn more about what this means, check out John Piper’s sermon on this verse. Here’s a little taste:

Love for the world pushes out love for God, and love for God pushes out love for the world. . . . If your love for God is cool this morning it’s because love for the world has begun to take over your heart and choke your love for God. The love of the world and the love of the Father cannot coexist.

The World as It Soon Will Be
The next verse in 1 John gives us another reason not to love the world:

The world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever (2:17).

Did you catch that? This world that feels so solid is really just temporary. It’s going out of fashion. God is going to judge the world (Acts 17:31), and then He’s going to make it brand-sparkling new!

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Rev. 21:1–4).

How can you be sure that you won’t be judged with this present world but will live in the new world with God? John 1:9–13 explains:

The true light, which gives light to everyone [Jesus], was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

Have you “received” Jesus? Or is your love for this present world keeping you from loving Him? Will you repent and ask God to help you love Him more than this world system?

(Click here for the next post in this series.)

The Scoop on the World” was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com.

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The Scoop on Satan

 

The Scoop on Satan

 

 

Last week I shared how I was ever so careful not to be eaten by a shark on my recent vacation. It made me wonder if I take my everyday threats as seriously.

Over the next few weeks, I’d like to give you the scoop on your greatest enemies, beginning with Satan. I realize most people laugh at the idea that he even exists. Maybe they sport a pair of red horns and a tail for Halloween, but they certainly don’t take him seriously.

I hope you do.

Satan’s Backstory
To understand why Satan is such a threat to you today, you need to understand his backstory.

When God created Satan, he was one of God’s most beautiful angels. Outwardly, that is. Inwardly, he was far from content to worship and serve and enjoy God; he wanted to be God.

“You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created, till unrighteousness was found in you” (Ezek. 28:15).

When Satan’s beauty went to his head, he was intoxicated with pride and he schemed a revolt:

“‘I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high . . . I will make myself like the Most High'” (Isa. 14:13–14).

His rebellion against God’s authority didn’t go exactly as planned. Instead of kicking God off His throne, Satan was kicked out of heaven (Luke 10:18). And when he fell to earth, he brought his rebellion against God with him.

Satan’s First Appearance on the Scene
Satan sure didn’t waste any time. Open any Bible, turn just a few pages, and there he is, inviting the first woman who ever lived to join his rebellion against God. Oh, he didn’t put it in those words! He’s too crafty for that. He went about the whole ugly ordeal by doing what he does best: deceiving and tempting. Just as he’d experienced a great fall from heaven, he coaxed and pulled off the great “fall” of mankind.

While Satan played a crucial role in man’s fall, God played an even more crucial role in man’s rescue. In Genesis 3, as God is cursing Satan for his role in this rebellion, He offers this cryptic, hope-filled hint of what’s to come:

“I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel” (v. 15).

Satan’s Sure Defeat
And that’s just how it happened. Satan bruised Jesus’ heel when Jesus suffered and died on the cross. It looked like a victory for Satan, but not for long. Through His death and resurrection, Jesus crushed Satan’s head. Colossians 2:13–15 puts it this way:

And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him (emphasis added).

Satan knows he’s beat; he knows his time is short. In fact, God’s Word spells out his final demise in Revelation 20 for anyone to read:

The devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever (v. 10).

Satan’s Short-Lived But All-Out War
For now, Satan is busy making the most of his short-lived freedom. As “the god of this world,” he’s busy blinding the minds of unbelievers “to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Cor. 4:4).

He’s also relentless in targeting believers in Jesus. First Peter 5:8–9 warns us,

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.

If you’re anything like me, you don’t want to be in a war. But when does anyone ever want war? They just do their best when they face it to conquer rather than to be conquered.

How to Stand Against Satan
So how can we stand against Satan?

  1. Acknowledge his very real presence. (It’s hard to beat an enemy you don’t believe in or fear, don’t you think?)
  2. It’s impossible to conquer Satan if you still belong to his dark kingdom. (All of us did at one time, you know.) Pray that if Satan has blinded your eyes and deceived you, God would give you sight and transfer you from Satan’s kingdom of darkness to Jesus’ kingdom of light (Col. 1:13).
  3. Realize that Satan has already been defeated by Jesus on the cross. Don’t try to conquer Satan in your own strength; be strong in Jesus’ strength (Eph. 6:10).

Check back next week to learn more about your second enemy. And in the meantime, I’d love to hear from you. Have you considered Satan a serious threat in your life? Any new thoughts after reading this post?

The Scoop on Satan” was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com.

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