How Satan works.

How does Satan work?

Something I state fairly often is “I don’t know the technical interaction of how Satan, Demons, the sinful nature of man, fallen creation, free will and evil; I’m not sure how they work.” What I can say without a doubt is they do work. There is evil. Satan is a fallen angel who is condemned already to hell forever. He knows where he is going. So what does he want to do? How does he work? What’s his purpose? I’ve learned there are four things the enemy wants to do.

1. Satan the Separator – Judas Iscariot was able to be a part of The Twelve. He had he same power the other eleven had. He went out on the same mission trips the others did. He at some point chose to follow Jesus. He experienced Jesus healing, feeding 5000, teaching, and living out the gospel. Yet, at some point in time, Satan put it in Judas mind, his heart to live a life separated from God and the other eleven.

Scripture says, “Now by the time of supper, the Devil has already put it into the heart of Judas, Simon Iscariot’s son, to betray Him [Jesus] ~ John 13:2

We can be so close to the things of God and God Himself, yet we can live a compartmentalized life. We can all be Judas. Satan wants to separate us. Satan hates the people of God. Satan is evil because he chose to be and he cannot be changed now. It’s too late for him. So Satan’s one purpose is to work against God. Satan can’t touch God, so he often goes for the next best thing: God’s people.

Jesus prayed His desired purpose for unity because He knows the church is strongest when it’s together. Jesus said, “May they all be one, as You, Father, are in Me and I am in You. May they also be one is Us so the world may believe You sent Me” ~ John 17:21.

Satan is a separator. He wants to separate the people of God. If you see separation in the church where you live and serve, you can know Satan is behind it. He wants to separate your friends, family and faith family. If Satan can separate, he is well on his way to messing up our families, our churches.

Do you see God wants unity and Satan wants separation? The next time you have relational separation happening, remember Satan is behind it (Matt 16:23). And remember it may not just be you who are viewing the situation from the outside angle. Satan will use anyone to bring division in his people. I’ve learned to be careful at every angle. God deserves it.

2. Satan the Isolator – Peter the Son of Jonah became the mouthpiece of the church in Acts 1-12. He was a fisherman before Jesus called him to join up. Peter, never scared to jump up with a bold proclamation, said, ” …. I will lay my life down for You” (John 13:37). We all know Peter ended up denying Jesus around the fire barrel and left weeping and broken (Mark 14:72). Peter left disappointed and demoralized. That’s what happens when Satan isolates a Christian. He wants to isolate because he works in isolation. He will talk a person out of church, of out fellowship, away from accountability in community, away, away, away, from everything God, etc.

The next time you find yourself isolated? Remember who wants you there. It’s not God (Psalm 133)

3. Satan the Demoralizer – Judas. Peter. Both got demoralized after Satan worked in their lives. Once separated, then isolated, Satan works on our emotions. Our souls. He gets us alone and makes us forget God, forget Jesus work on the cross, he makes us have mental conversations that are time wasters and hate breeders. He gets us alone and make it rain. Judas committed suicide. Peter left weeping. Jesus knew Peter was hurting to the extent that He gave news of the resurrection specifically to Peter (Mark 16:5). Satan can depress us. He desires to suck the spiritual life from us like a new vacuum on a dusty floor. But Jesus, he restored Peter to the ministry as Peter repented and made himself available to God again (John 21).

The next time you feel demoralized, look back to see how Satan is working. Get your identity from the cross of Jesus Christ. Claim Gal 2:20 as you run forward for God.

4. Satan the Decimator – Peter knew this better than anyone.  He experienced the works of Satan, the influence of evil and the restoration and healing of God. Peter blew it, lived with it, came back from it and learned from it. He knew what Satan did to Judas. Satan decimated Judas life. Satan doesn’t just want to sideline or sidetrack God’s people . He want to take us out. That is scary, but it’s true. Peter said in his letter, “Be serious! Be alert! Your adversary the Devil  is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour” (1 Pet 5:8). He wants to take believers out of action. He wants to get us unprotected, separated, demoralized so he can decimate us in isolation.

Does seeing Satan’s activity as a decimator put urgency in you to walk close to Jesus?

What can we do to protect ourselves, our families and our church families?

  • Stay in the word and live from it; take a Bible everywhere you go – Matt 4:1-11
  • Pray at all times, especially with a few other passionate praying people – Acts 4:31;         1 Thess 5:17; Col 4:2
  • Remain humble no matter what – 1 Peter 5:6-7 

I heard a great quote somewhere. It this, “Obedience brings the presence of God; humility keeps the presence of God.” 

How to celebrate baptism in your church.

IMG_2476Every church is different. You need to come up with your own way of doing it, but the way a church celebrates baptism is important. It sends a message about values. I’ve not always done a great job at it. At times it should have been better, but here are some things you can do to make baptism a significant event. We baptize on Sunday mornings as it is a better witness to a broader crowd. Here’s what I suggest.

  1. Remember first it’s about following Jesus. I have a picture below of a Sudanese woman following Jesus in Baptism by Immersion in a mud pit. I remember that in all the celebration, it’s still first and foremost about following Jesus.
  2. Clean your baptism area. You need an area that is not junked up. When someone walks back there it should say “we value this.” A junked up dirty area speaks poorly of our commitment to baptism.
  3. Get a new baptistery. If you use an old, out dated baptistery that is dangerous to even get in, then spend some of the money your church has in savings to get a new baptistery. Build for intimacy , function, and experience. Don’t go cheap. Some baptisteries would be better of being a horse trough, which many churches are using now. They are actually not expensive and can be quality.
  4. Take pictures. We take pictures. A lot of pictures. We want people to remember the experience that they followed Jesus Christ. One thing I loathe are poor baptism pictures. You probably have someone who is a wanna be photographer who would do it. For pictures and videos, you may need to mount a camera or video. Scott Shelpman 2
  5. Share on social media. I share baptism experiences on media as it’s a witness to people about Jesus and what is happening in the church to community. I don’t just share our experiences, but also those of other churches. Celebrate everyone’s successes.
  6. Create a team. We have a few people who help out those being baptized as they change clothes, get towels, etc. It has become one of the hubs of the church. People hear about baptisms and they come behind the scenes to celebrate and watch. A good team helps the pastor not have to do all the details. I’m thankful for those who help us. They are amazing servants.
  7. Hang pictures. We put up the pictures of everyone being baptized on a wall in the prep area. People see them and are amazed. We baptize in the river some in the summer, so we put those up too as we bring it all together.
  8. Give T-Shirts. We give each person a “No Perfect People Allowed” t-shirt. It’s the icing on the cake, but it’s good icing.
  9. Video. We Skype the baptisms on the screen with a smart phone. You could do the same easily. If you have a baptistery that is high up out of sight of the crowd, you really need to get someone to Skype it to the crowd. It personalizes the baptism for the audience. IMG_2609
  10. Follow up. Before, during and after baptism, follow up is crucial. Make sure the person knows Jesus personally and has received Him as Lord and Savior. Get dates of salvation and baptism confirmed. Communicate with the person before baptism. Encourage the person after. Give the person a new believers bag that has a Bible, journal, pen, a new believers book for growth, etc. Make it good.

So there’s 10 things for making baptism a celebration. For small and mid size churches, the way you can make your church feel big or excellent is by the way you celebrate baptism. Larger churches usually don’t baptize weekly. They baptize larger numbers monthly or quarterly. It’s impressive. But it can be impersonal. because there are so many at one time. Of course we want many. There were 3000 at Pentecost. Have you ever considered that each of the 12 Apostles would have baptized 250 each in the Jordan River that day? That’s awesome! I’m not trying to advocate small versus large. I’m saying find a way that is appropriate for your context and celebrate. There’s no excuse for poor baptism experiences regardless the size of your church. Prepare now for the harvest to come. IMG_0066

Am I on target? How do you celebrate baptism? IMG_1821IMG_4684IMG_0652

Prayer – our danger close.

In the military there is an artillery mission called Final Protective Fire. It’s last ditch call for fire within 200 meters of your own position. When this FPF is called for, the enemy is close and is about to possibly overrun your own position. This FPF is only called as a last resort.

In our nation, we are at the FPF point. I want to call you to call an FPF for our nation. Our weapon is not of the flesh. It’s spiritual. It’s prayer. I want to call you to prayer for the New Year.

The first three months of the year at our church are going to look like this:

January

– Cast theme – “whatever it takes” – 1 Cor 9:22
– Cast mission – motto – mission – method

February

– Prepare for prayer
– Leaders pray more than they have together.
– Leaders pray more for the right things.
– Recruit host homes for a month of prayer in March.

March

– Prayer groups once a week.
– Pray as a family once a week.
– Attend Prayer Rally in Santa Fe – March 16.

Revival and renewal and mission engagement have the power of God on them when they are bathed in prayer (Acts 1:8).

What does your prayer strategy look like? Will you join me in this one? Begin praying today. Now. And in the days ahead.

We are in need of a Final Protective Fire. Why?

– Our government is leading us away from God.
– Christianity and Christians are being marginalized.
– Islam gets a better hearing in the court of public opinion than Christianity.
– New Mexico leads the nation in teenage pregnancies.
– Of the 2 million people in New Mexico, 80-90% are lost without Christ.
– Churches either live or die. Many are dying. We need to pray for living churches who reach their communities and the nation.

We need to pray. God wants us to pray. The enemy is getting close to us and wants to take us out. We cannot let the evil one have victory over us. He is defeated by Christ on the cross. He is defeated by us through Christ, in prayer.