The Devil's in the Details
Wayne Martin tore through the woods near his home as if he were being chased by the devil himself. He cared not a whit that the brambles and branches were tearing at his body with every step. He didn't dare turn to look but knew it was in hot pursuit. The sound of branches snapping in two directly behind him as they were ripped from the trees in rage was all the proof he needed. That, and, the fact that even though it was January and he could hear the crusty, frozen snow crunching beneath their feet, he could feel the demon's breath burning the back of his neck—
That's the beginning of the prologue for my novel. It's titled Little Willow and it's loosely based on the lives of my parents. Historical Christian fiction is the genre that I'd place it in. Wayne Martin was my great, great grandpa on my Dad's side of the family. This is a little bit of backstory leading into meeting our main characters—Willow and Jack.
Are you intrigued?
I hope so—but don't bother searching for the title so you can grab a copy just yet because other than what you see right there—it's all in my head. 🤣
I was just getting ready to get serious about writing my first novel when our little girls came to us. I know they say we slow down as we age. I've discovered that's true, but still, it's insane to me how quickly time passes these days. Our babies have been with us for nearly 10 years now!
I'll get around to writing Willow's story one of these days. I know as the girls get older, I'll find myself with more and more free time. I'm not fretting about running out of it either because I'm here for the long haul! 👊😎
Are you wondering what Wayne Martin getting chased by "the devil, himself" has to do with the title of this post?
I'm giving you the "not pulling any punches" answer. It's because the devil has got nothing but time. And, he spends every second of it trying to throw a wedge between God and humanity. Once he wheedles his way into someone's heart and mind, he presses in. He instills himself deeper and deeper into the lives of families as generations pass if he can.
It's the truth behind the fiction
Not everyone in my family believes that story about the devil chasing Wayne Martin—I do though.
My Dad's family came from Arkansas. They lived in a region where a group—groups I hope—of people knew God—really knew him. But, it doesn't matter where his ancestors came from. What matters is that back then, in places all across America, a lot more people were aware of the supernatural—on both ends of the spectrum. There are stories of God doing mighty things through his people. In fact, I could share a story about an angelic encounter near a flooded creek too. 🙃
Or, my aunts, who remember everyone "getting happy at church" on the rare occasions when the family would visit relatives in Arkansas as children. I have no doubt that they were filled to bursting with the joy of the Lord!
Right now though, I'll skip up a few generations because otherwise, you'll be here all day!
When I was a child, I'd sit enraptured as I listened to the stories told in the Bible. I distinctly remember my Aunt Betty sharing the story of Elijah when he called out the prophets of Baal—all 400 of them—challenging them to a contest to reveal before all whose God was real.
Spoiler alert: Our God won. Hands down.
I remember telling God that day about my wish to have lived back then instead of now as I sat in my chair surrounded by cousins and friends. I told Him that I would have told everyone I met what I had witnessed because, then, they would know that He was real, too.
I was 9 or 10 years old.
Inserting a little Bible background
The condensed version of Elijah and the prophets of Baal goes like this:
The prophets accepted the challenge and spent hours working themselves into a literal frenzy trying to produce a visible result for everyone to witness, but nothing happened. Then, in front of the entire crowd gathered to watch this spectacular event unfold, Elijah took his place and cried out for God to send fire from the sky—and God did it!
In fact, the fire was so intense that it burnt the offered sacrifice to ashes, consumed the entire altar, and dried up the trench of water that Elijah had filled dousing his sacrifice beforehand to prove there was no way that any who witnessed it could say trickery had been involved.
The Old Testament is filled with amazing stories of God's power—and of His great love and mercy. You see, the Israelites—God's chosen people—kept incorporating the ways of the world into their lives when God had called them to be a people who were set apart. Worshipping false gods was a big draw though.
Sadly, aspects of the religion of Baal often appealed to them. They'd seemingly forget the all-important drawback every single time. That is that Baal worship—all religions which don't follow the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob actually—has Satan at its core. 🤔 And, the rituals of his people included acts of sexual perversion and child sacrifice.
Well, now, God's not ever gonna let that fly.
God would send His prophets to warn the people that they'd better straighten up or they would be punished. That being, God would remove His protection and let the chips fall where they may. They usually refused to listen and paid the price, being taken captive and enslaved by their enemies.
Finally, God had His fill and left them to their own devices. He stopped sending prophets for a time—a period of 400 years in fact—and while a few continued to follow God, many did not. And, as always happens when we turn away from our Creator, the world grew a little darker and, then, a little darker still as time passed.
The story gets brighter, of course, because God sends Jesus to be born as a man. Things changed forever when that day came. Immanuel. God with us. He lived a perfect life here on earth and then, laid it down when he died on that cross forever becoming a worthy sacrifice once for all. The bridge between us and God—if we but believe. He conquered death when He rose from the dead after three days. Now, He sits at the right hand of God waiting for the time that He is sent for us marking the beginning of the antichrist's true reign.
Still, centuries passed and many have chosen not to believe. Satan continues to make inroads pulling people away from the lives God has planned for them. The world got louder and more chaotic and... well... here we are.
His mode of operation
The reason the devil is bent on destroying lives and keeping us away from God during this lifetime isn't that he gives a care about having control of souls in the hereafter. Oh, he'd get some satisfaction mocking God for eternity. But I've come to believe over this past year that he is going to have no control there. And, if you can find something in the Bible that tells you that he reigns over hell, I need to know it, so, please reach out.
I believe the devil's fate is sealed and he knows it.
There will be no lording over tortured souls for eternity, laughing maniacally as he dances around them. He'll be doomed to the same fate as the rest. Locked away, separated from God and gnashing his teeth. He'll suffer right along with all of those that he took along with him.
Why do I think this way?
Because he got kicked out of heaven along with the band of angels that he had duped into following him. He was banished because he dared to wage war on God and he lost. Do you really think God's going to reward him for centuries of disobedience by allowing him to constantly torture souls?
Oh, I do believe those that find themselves in the pits of hell will suffer, but not at the devil's hand any longer. He could only wield that influence over humanity here on this earth.
Why does he do it then? Why does he hate mankind so much that he tries to lure our very souls away from God? I've learned—and believe God's revealed to me is true, so I repeat, please, reach out if you've got a scripture reference proving the contrary—it's because we're made in God's image.
God placed us even above the angels when he did that.
And, it really got the goat of one specifically—and it ate at him continuously. Why? Because he believed he was the apple of God's eye regarding creation. They called him Lucifer.
Got you in a stranglehold
You see, God realizes the importance of tough love. Boundaries are put in place for a reason. But the world—and the churches that have entwined themselves with it—are doing all they can to make what's wrong seem right. Some without even knowing they've fallen prey and others are down with squelching the truth.
Either way, a huge part of the problem is that teaching and preaching about the devil has become a taboo topic in many of today's churches. In this politically correct world, it's not a loving way to nudge people toward asking Jesus into their hearts because it "scares" them into making the most important decision of their lives.
"Stop it!" the world whined. Then, kicking and screaming, cried more loudly. "It's not fair! You're forcing us to acknowledge our fate if we keep on keeping on in the same vein."
It's not fair?
I beg to differ.
Being separated from God for eternity is something that everyone needs to think about very seriously. Lots of people want to believe there is a God but don't want to believe that He could actually send someone to hell.
What? Do you think He's just bluffing to try and force us to be good people while we're here on earth?
"Yes!" the world answers.
According to the young Christians who think I'm out to lunch for declaring Jesus' coming to earth didn't change God's opinion on sin, it's become quite popular to believe that in the end, as long as you profess Jesus as your Lord and Savior—although that word "Lord" is a little iffy because that means then they must adhere to all His rules. Either way, though, it's all good—you're in for sure!
Then, there are others—some professing believers mind you—who say things like, "Everybody goes to heaven when they die because, ultimately, God is love, right? All we have to do is be a relatively good person, let everybody live and let live, and we're in."
I wonder if any of those people ever think to consider the fact that that would make God a liar.
God's not a liar.
Remember who is though?
And his deceit is spreading as truth at a rapid pace.
The evidence is everywhere you look. I won't tick off a list because I believe with every fiber of my being that God is going to do that for us. I mean that literally, at any second.
God is getting ready to reintroduce himself to the world. Old Testament style! Hallelujah! I can not wait!
It's okay if your response to that last sentence was a fixed smile, an eye roll, snort, or guffaw... trust me. I get that a lot. 😉 You aren't changing my mind though and you'll be seeing for yourself soon enough.
You see, most of us have no idea the depth to which Satan has infiltrated our lives—and at an extremely rapid pace, I might add. The decline in our culture regarding morality and love of God and country from the time I was a child until the here and now is hard to fathom if you take a hard look at it.
The decline over the last 30 years alone is a head spinner. Here's an example for you. I was a bit concerned when our two older children were in school and teachers said things like, "Oh, we don't care about their spelling. We want them to express how they feel." But, that was easily reinforced at home, much to our kids' dismay. "But, Mom," they'd whine, "the teacher doesn't care about spelling!"
But, I could not believe the difference in the public school system from our older two children's days there and what the youngers started bringing home. Some learning content was beginning to raise our eyebrows to an even higher degree. And that new math concept—good heavens! I don't know what that is exactly, but it's not following a normal thought process as far as we're concerned. And, I was thinking that at the kindergarten level, oh by the way. Their brains just don't click like that yet.
We pulled them out and started homeschooling when school started up again after the virus scare. There were several reasons, but we'd bantered it back and forth from the time Cynthia started kindergarten.
I love many of the teachers and school board members of our district, but the push from the world to "woke" up was trickling into our children's lives even in our small rural community.
This is how you break a chokehold
Suffice it to say without jumping off into "conspiracy, not conspiracy" land, I am SO thankful that God is felling the tree of evil at its root. The intricate web of darkness is being exposed in totality because we were so betrayed... the evil runs so rampantly throughout everything... It's going to be really hard to take.
Worse yet, throughout the centuries, the church itself became infiltrated, separated, deceived. And because of it, we lost some very important gifts that Jesus left for us.
God's giving them back.
Prophetic ministry is one of them because it was never God's intent not to speak with his people. He longs to do that on an individual basis but, so far, we've been pretty hard of hearing as a rule. Some are not though and are tuned in. Fine-tuned. My Grandma Smithee was one of those people.
She just knew stuff... because God told her. There was no doubt in anyone's mind that knew her that she had a mighty connection with her Maker. People would call—lots of people if you tallied them up over the years—when they needed prayer because God listened to Grandma Smithee. She would always assure people that He listened to them as well, but I have no doubt she prayed for each and every one.
That's the kind of connection that God wants to have with each and every one of us. A mighty one. The problem is that most of us want to tweak the rules—or flat out bend them near to breaking.
You know the saying, "We want our cake and eat it too?" That's where a lot of people—a lot of Christians even—want to live.
So, in reality, we're no better than the Israelites, then, are we? I expect there may well have been a bit of sputtering going on when some read that. Was it you?
I'll try my best to explain what I mean by that statement.
We have Jesus to help us overcome sin in the world but instead, we'd rather just change Him up a bit so he fits in with the worldview. It feels better because we don't have to stand out or rain on anybody's moral parade. And, we tend to embrace our own sin as "not so bad."
How's that working out, though? Really? Because when I look around the world I live in now and think back to the world I lived in as a child, it's getting dark. The devil hopes we keep on in this vein until it gets too dark to see the light at all anymore.
That ending doesn't bode well at all.
The key to a happy ending
We don't know why the devil decided he was going to prove to Wayne Martin that a fence wouldn't keep him out. We do know that his attempt to keep him away from Christ failed miserably though. Wayne was tearing through the woods to get to his wife, Disa. She was at a church meeting. Wayne burst in the door and accepted Jesus into his life that night.
Part of the way the devil works as far as generations are concerned is easy to figure out.
It boils down to this, we pass along traits and have similarities in common with our ancestors that pass down through the generations. The devil knows that so uses the same tactics because odds are, they'll work on someone within the family, right? And, if the family is dysfunctional already—as in physical abuse is occurring or if someone suffers from an addiction—kids are apt to carry on in the same vein. It's a proven fact. We live what we learn. The same goes for bickering, whining, screaming... are you beginning to see a pattern here?
He gets in a little deeper and then, a little deeper still.
All of the above and any other negative forces and influences in your life or past have been tossed at you straight from the devil himself. He'll pursue you relentlessly. And if you don't know how to fight back, odds are he's going to overcome you before it's all over.
If we all knew about the importance of the armor of God, we'd find ourselves on a totally different path than the one we're on. Imagine if we instill these truths in the hearts of our children so they could repel the darkness from the get-go in a world that cries loudly to "Follow me!"
You can find the passage in Ephesians Chapter 6. Here it is:
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God;
See? With Jesus, we have power. You really can "Just Say No." So, let's do it! Let's boot the bad out of our lives because Jesus gives us the authority to do so.
Wayne was running toward his salvation that night. And, when he popped that helmet on his head, he never took it off. He spent the rest of his life trying to point others to the Lord whenever the opportunity arose.
I don't know much about my Grandpa's mom but I know she grew up knowing the Lord. I have no doubt that her mama, Disa, made certain of that. She died just two weeks after having my Grandpa. Her grieving husband had three young children and an infant son to care for. It was decided that my Grandpa would go to live with Wayne and Disa.
His father never took him home again. And, after a few years passed, he remarried and the family moved away. Even though my Grandpa was raised in a loving, Christian home, that fact made him sad. Abandonment is hard to take though. I know that's a fact—I see it come out of our girls now and again and they've been with us since they were babies as well.
I'm pretty sure the devil is going to try and use it for ammunition for a long time. Try being the keyword in that sentence. The cycle stops right here, Satan—standing on the promises of God! These girls are getting fitted for their armor every day. And, I want it to fit snugly!
When the "why's" and "how come's" come to the surface around here from time to time, we have to honestly say that we can't answer the question for sure because we don't know all the details. But, we know that it all boils down to that old devil and the part he played in the lives of their biological parents. Then, we pray for God to reach out to them because He's the one who can work all this mess together and get it straightened out.
What's the devil throwing at you?
Whatever it is, with the shield of faith going before you, you can deflect it. That's a promise that comes straight from the Word of God. It is never His intent that you suffer. God is absolutely good. When you're living your life for Him, your story is sure to be filled with adventure and amazing encounters. And—spoiler alert—your ending is most certainly going to read "happily ever after."
Have a great life but don't know Jesus? You might want to rethink part of your plan because whether you realize it or not, the devil's got you hooked too. Your soul is going to outlive your body. Choose to spend it with God not separated from Him.
We all need Jesus. We're in the midst of a spiritual battle here on the earth. God wants you armored up!
The world is so loud and chaotic. It seems as if things are spinning out of control. But they are NOT because, ultimately, it is YOUR will be done. Inspire our hearts to hold fast to that truth.
Keep our armor strapped on TIGHT. Keep your words at the ready in our hearts so our swords will be SHARP. Holy Spirit, burn in our hearts keeping our shields of faith held HIGH to deflect the darkness at every turn. Help us share the helmet of salvation WITH ALL WE MEET. May the belt of truth stay tightly around us as we STAND FOR JUSTICE. The breastplate of righteousness will PROTECT OUR HEARTS. And may we wear the shoes of peace as we proclaim your love for the world on our daily walk through life.
If there is one reading this now who doesn't know Jesus as Lord and Savior of their lives, I pray you stir their heart and soul this moment. Let them feel your presence. Let today be the day they turn to You.
I come before you boldly, Father, in the name of your one true Son, Jesus, and know I can trust that by His sacrifice I am made worthy of this request. And, I thank you. Thank you for all your doing for us.
Amen and amen
Drop a line over on the Facebook page if you want to get a conversation going. Like and share if you agree with my thoughts, will you? Thanks.
The world is getting pretty dark. We need to put the light on.
See you next time,