I was just thinking about something my dad, Matthew Jackson, used to tell me and my siblings when we were kids. If we were sick, or had a stomachache, we would complain, "Daddy, my tummy hurts!" and on most occasions he would reply, "Well, tell it to stop!"
At the time I viewed this as my dad being unconcerned with my impending illness (when really it's just his smart-ass way of speaking, and is not out of the norm). But thinking about that today, as an adult, I see it as a very powerful encouragement.
Not to say that all parents should start disregarding their children's symptoms, but, I when I analyze that phrase, "tell it to stop", I realize that even though it wasn't my dad's intention at the time, the very idea of what he is suggesting is very empowering.
Now, when I think back on his "medical advice", I realize just how applicable this command is my life in the matter of spiritual warfare. Many of you reading this may not believe in the idea of spiritual warfare (the forces of heaven and hell battling and thus affecting our physical world), but I believe very strongly in it. I am aware that the devil moves and plots and schemes constantly, looking for ways to corrupt us, bring us down, shatter our faith. Due to that fact, it is essential and imperative that I also believe that God works, encourages and plans constantly, to build us up in our faith, bring us closer to him, and to protect and empower us with his Holy Spirit.
Recently in my life I have been blessed to be empowered and encouraged in my beliefs by using my faith as a weapon against the enemy in everyday life. This may seem odd to some of you, the idea of verbally commanding evil spirits to quit interfering with my life. But honestly, it is real, and it works.
One example of a situation like this happened several months ago one day when I could not find my ID, I had looked absolutely everywhere, torn my apartment apart, searched in my truck, retraced my steps from my truck to my apartment. I prayed, "Please, God, help me find it, please!" I looked everywhere I could think to look, but it was nowhere to be found. I felt distressed, hopeless, and extremely frustrated, and finally I broke down crying on the floor of my closet. I felt like God was not helping me, that he didn't want to help me. I felt helpless. But then an idea came upon me, and I thought, "What if this is exactly what Satan wants? What if he wants me to feel helpless and abandoned, like God doesn't care for me?" and then I got angry, and I literally shouted out in the middle of my closet, "You have no authority here! I bind you in the name of Christ, you may not take my things! You have no authority to steal my property, Satan. In the name of Jesus Christ, give it back!" I know it sounds silly. and I'm sure would have been even sillier to see, but after a few moments I suddenly thought of one more place to look. In my yoga pants. And there it was! I immediately thanked God for helping me, and I knew, that even though it seemed like he wasn't there, that he had helped me after all by making me realize the power of his Holy name, and recognizing when Satan is at work.
Now, I can understand how some people may think, "What's the big deal? she lost her ID, and then she found it, isn't it all just coincidence? Isn't it kind of eccentric to believe that Satan could be behind something as insignificant as losing an ID??" and I used to believe the same thing. But let me share another instance with you where I spoke against the Devil at work.
I was driving home from the chiropractor one late afternoon, and it was a mild, but sunny day in San Diego, and I was in the middle of stop-and-go traffic, when my truck started to overheat. I'd had issues with it overheating before, as I may have told some of my friends who may be reading this, even though the radiator had been replaced immediately after I bought the truck, anyway, the mechanic details aren't entirely revelant so I'm not going to elaborate on them. Anyway, I immediately turned my heat on full blast to try to reduce the heat from the engine, but the temperature didn't go down, so I started to try to get off of the freeway, so that I could pull my truck over and let it cool down, but, in stop-and-go traffic, this was very difficult and I was worried that every second I had the engine on with the temperature gauge nearing the "H" that my engine was closer to melting or being ruined or something. When I was finally able to get off the freeway I pulled over and parked my truck and turned the engine off and let the heat keep blowing, but even after 15 minutes of this the temperature still wouldn't go down. And then I was reminded of part of a book I read, "This Present Darkness" by Frank Peretti, where one of the main characters is driving, on her way to something extremely urgent, and suddenly her engine fails for no reason, while at the same time, although invisible to her, a demon had thrust it's sword into her car's engine, but after being defeated by an angel, her car returns to normal and works again.
And so, I prayed. I prayed for God to help me. and then I exclaimed "In the name of the Holy Spirit of God, I command any evil spirit away from my truck! You are not allowed to tamper with my truck! In the name of Christ, begone!" and sure enough, after about 30 seconds, my temperature gauge dropped suddenly back to the middle.
God gives us authority to defend ourselves against the enemy. The more we use that authority, the stronger our faith grows, and the less fear we have of evil. :]
Now, I know what some of you might think, "It's crazy to think that the devil is behind every little bad thing that happens to you". But, why is that crazy? What is so crazy about recognizing that evil is at work in the world? What is crazy about believing that, yes, the Devil is out to get you?
I think it is difficult for some people to realize this, because it is scary. It really is. It's scary to think about. But once you accept it, and have faith that God is sovereign, and good prevails, it's not so scary after all. I find it empowering, actually. Because I know that God has my back.
I refer to Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Growing up, my parents didn't like me reading these books because they contained witchcraft. Although that is true, I have found that I grow more knowledgeable and more strong in my relationship with God because of these books and movies. To me, they examplify many valuable theological beliefs. In "the Order of the Phoenix" there are two very important themes that are played out that I will bring up here.
First, is that throughout the movie, Harry's mind is being frequently riddled with disturbing dreams and eventually visions. After bringing this up to Dumbledore, he begins taking lessons with Professor Snape on training his mind, and strengthening it to protect himself from Voldemort infiltrating his thoughts. Unfortunately, Harry does not succeed in this and Voldemort does, at the end of the movie, use his evil powers to get into Harry's head and set a trap. But, during his training, Professor Snape tells Harry over and over, "Strengthen your mind, guard your emotions! Any memory that the Dark Lork has access to he will use as a weapon against you!" And, isn't that exactly what Satan does? He will use any bad memory, any insecurity, any weakness in our heart that he can find to take us down, to break our spirit, to shatter our faith.
The other point I want to bring up, is that, throughout the movie, the Ministry of Magic (their government, basically) keeps trying to cover up the fact that Voldemort has returned. The Minister of Magic, Cornelius Fudge, goes to ridiculous lengths to quash any leak of the truth. He insists that Harry and Dumbledore are both crazy and that it's all some sort of notorious scheme to bring him down, his fear makes him paranoid. He is so afraid to accept the truth that he ostracizes both Harry and Dumbledore, and anyone else who tries to convince him. But that is exactly what Voldemort wants. Voldemort wants everyone to deny his return, that way his only enemies are isolated, cast out, he wants them to be seen as the threat, not him. Here is one of my favorite quotes from the movie:
Luna Lovegood: [about her father] We believe you, by the way. That He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named is back, and you fought him, and the Ministry and the Prophet are conspiring against you and Dumbledore.
Harry Potter: Thanks. Seems you're about the only ones that do.
Luna Lovegood: I don't think that's true. But I suppose that's how he wants you to feel.
Harry Potter: What do you mean?
Luna Lovegood: Well if I were You-Know-Who, I'd want you to feel cut off from everyone else. Because if it's just you alone you're not as much of a threat.
That is exactly why Satan does not want people to believe that he is at work, he wants to keep the truth hidden.
Anyway, those are just a few of the things I think about, and that I love about the movie, and thoughts and ideas and experiences that I wanted to share with you all.
I hope that some of what I've written will help someone, somehow, in their walk with God. :]
And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; 18 they[b] will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.
for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night.
Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 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.