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  • Writer's pictureShelli Owen

Themes

Updated: Nov 4, 2021

“Who dares despise the day of small things,

since the seven eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth…”

(Zechariah 4:10)


Ornate silver-tipped ink pen, ink, and ink well

Not too long ago, I had a strange week. It has taken some time to process it; I am still processing it.


One of the ways that the Lord speaks to me is through what I will call “themes.”


A topic I haven’t been considering will come to my attention and repeat itself over and over in a relatively short space of time, and so I will begin to take notice and learn. Sometimes the Lord uses this “method” to prepare me for something that will happen later. Always, these themes help me deal with related issues or problems which arise.


A bronze short-sword pointing to the right

The theme that stood out at the beginning of what ended up being such a strange week, a theme of the reality of spiritual war, was introduced in this way:


I had finally begun a letter to a brother who is in prison. I believe he suffers from a fairly severe, unacknowledged (by himself), and undiagnosed mental illness. (In truth, we humans all suffer from some degree of mental imbalance and spiritual blindness—except Jesus.)


Though this brother has good intentions and is extremely intelligent, his conception of himself and of others has generally been terribly off the mark. This has always caused me concern.


Through intricate machinations of misapplied numerology and literary patterns, using the scriptures and a concordance, he has deluded himself into a thorough belief that he, himself, is highlighted in scripture as one who is going to save the world. He has told me that he lives for this paradigm — that it is what gives motivation and purpose to his life — a reason to get out of bed in the morning.


Meanwhile, the more I have learned from and about the Bible, the clearer it is that both the Old and New Testaments are meant to point to and testify of one thing: God’s work for us (past, present, and future) through Jesus Christ and of our need for a saving relationship with Him. (In this blog, I won’t go into the L.D.S. [Mormon] “scriptures” my brother also uses.)


I’d had the impression for some months that the Lord wanted me to write to my brother and to share scriptures highlighting the difference between the spirit of Lucifer (Satan or the Devil) and the Spirit of God.


Through the letter I showed things the Bible reveals about Lucifer and how he has come to see himself as being above God and how he has since sought to elevate himself and his own agenda above all created beings. How he now hates all living beings, but especially God’s people. How he and his disembodied followers (fallen angels or demons) seek to distract, derail, overcome, and destroy us through lies and accusations (half-truths). And how he hates even the name of God, especially the name of Jesus Christ.


In contrast, I also showed things from the Bible about the Spirit of God. How He always points to the hope we have through Jesus Christ — God’s only true representative on earth and in heaven. Jesus, who, because of His love to us, submitted Himself to God the Father, and with God, for our sakes, shed His own innocent blood for us through His death on a Roman cross. Jesus, who took our place and freed all who will repent (turn or return to God) and believe Him from the penalties or consequences of sin (wrongdoing against God’s standards). Consequences, which are death and separation from God. Until we accept and turn our lives over to Jesus, whose blood makes us worthy for the Spirit of God to come and dwell with, in, and among us; and who Helps us in ways only God can.


In the letter, I also emphasized the fruits of God’s Spirit being “…love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, [and] self-control” (Gal. 5:22-23).


The main intent of my letter was to show Jesus is our one and only true Savior. He has already saved everyone from permanent physical death (one day everyone will be bodily resurrected). And He is the only One with the ability—authority, power and love—to bring us back to also dwell eternally in the presence of God. Is there anything more important to our eternal souls than to be looking to and pointing others to Him?


My brother had recently called, and I had promised him I would write and send another letter to him. I finished and sent the letter that week.


A bronze short-sword pointing to the left

Also, toward the beginning of that week, I had been in the process of writing my spiritual journey blog. I had been working on describing my childhood and what it was like for me to grow up in Boulder, Colorado. This account included the fascination some of my peers had with spiritism and the occult, and my experiences with this beginning in the second grade. (If you want to read this account, I will be posting it in increments in my “Spiritual Journey” blogs.)


Anyway, these childhood and teenage experiences were also on my mind again that week.


A bronze short-sword pointing to the right

Then, by the Tuesday of that week, in my progress through a book I’ve been gradually reading, entitled, “People of the Lie: The Hope for Healing Human Evil,” by M. Scott Peck, M.D. (recommended by Eric Metaxas), I had begun chapter five.


This book was written by a psychologist trying to name and come at the reality of evil through a scientific approach. He was encouraging others in his field to do the same — for the benefit of clients, whether victims or perpetrators of evil. Chapter five is entitled, “Of Possession and Exorcism,” and covers topics beginning with, “Does the Devil Exist?” concluding with “The Father of Lies.”


The author concluded from evidence he’s seen that along with evil being real, the devil is also real. He affirmed his belief that demonic possession does exist and that ultimately only a possessed person’s being willing, and God’s power, can deliver a soul from demon possession. He proposed that psychology or psychiatry might be able to help bring a person to a point of recognition of being possessed and/or to a place of willingness to seek deliverance. He also hypothesized that appropriate therapy might be of help to a person recovering from demon possession.


This chapter was a main part of my lunchtime reading during that week.


A bronze short-sword pointing to the left

And then on Friday, in a phone conversation with a friend of mine, she asked me to be in prayer with her for a mother and child in her extended family who have become fascinated (through peer and social media influence) with witchcraft and Satan worship.


Her comments about it, including how it seems to have become a fad among young people, made me think of a young person in my own extended family, who seems to be growing more and more enthralled with wearing the colors black and red and with dark characters (empathy with evil), bloodiness, and power or “magic.” It is a phenomenon being fed through peers; many graphic novels, even ones for children, often using animal characters; and through social media, especially TikTok, where videos abound on the practice of Satanism, spiritism, witchcraft, “spells,” and such.


This conversation was concerning to me for a lot of different reasons (that I won’t go into here). This wasn’t the first time I have wondered: Why do people have such a fascination with Satan and evil spirits (demons), yet at the same time reject the possibility of the existence of God and Jesus and the Spirit of goodness and truth?


These were some prayer concerns and questions that came forward toward the end of that week.


A bronze short-sword pointing to the right

Then, on that Saturday, our church’s prayer ministry coordinator sent a prayer request by email asking for prayer support for our pastor and the message he was preparing for Sunday. His next message (in teaching through the Bible verse by verse) was going to be on Jesus casting out demons. There had been some demonic activity, which included the casting out of demons, during the church’s youth bike trip — a ministry which had been happening that week.


Now my spiritual antennae were fully up!


This theme, that had been appearing all during the week, was going to be the main topic of the pastor’s sermon on Sunday. I began praying for our pastor and his preparations for the Sunday message and for any who might specifically need to hear the message he would share.


A bronze short-sword pointing to the left

That Sunday morning, the pastor’s teaching was from Luke 8:26-39. It is an account of Jesus casting demons out of a man who was possessed. Several things stood out to me from his sermon.


First is the mistake we too often make of thinking spiritual (non-material) things aren’t real. In reality, they are more real than anything in the material world — especially in their long-term impact. Relationships, personal decisions and character (our thought life), emotions, the need for and development of self-control and social skills, and so on are all influenced and go on in the realm of the spirit in us. We are in an ongoing spiritual war between Satan and God being fought over the eternal souls of humankind. We are the main decision makers in how this war affects each of us personally.


Second, there are things that open doors to demonic possession. These include: mind-altering drugs, marijuana, sexual deviations, feeding an attraction to darkness (death, dying, and decomposition), nursing bitterness, and dabbling in the occult (for example: Ouija boards, tarot cards, pursuing information on Satanism, witchcraft, “spells,” etc.).


Third, what you are filled with, you are controlled by. The demon possessed man in the story could not be constrained with chains or shackles, went naked, and lived among the tombs. The demon-possessed pigs ran into the lake and were drowned, destroyed. Demons crave a body of any kind rather than being consigned to the abyss (in Greek: a bottomless pit). In contrast, the Christian believer filled with God’s Spirit cannot be possessed by demons, though they can be strongly influenced by them. This is reiterated in 1 John 4:1-4:


“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming, and now it is already in the world. You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.”


Fourth and finally, humans alone are no match for these evil spirits, but Jesus had (and has) total authority and power over them. Luke recounts how Jesus cast out “legions” (thousands) of demons that had possessed the man; and how the demons couldn’t even go into the pigs without His permission. The demons pleaded with Jesus to send them into the pigs rather than into the abyss. Satan and his demons can be cast out of a person through the power and authority of God in the name of Jesus Christ.


A bronze short-sword pointing to the right

Later that Sunday when I got on the internet with the intent to listen to a Christian speaker (my “Sunday School”) the video that came up at the top and center of my YouTube home page was one by Alisa Childers, someone I had previously subscribed to. Her videos usually address what is called “the progressive church” and teachings surrounding it. Her video that came up front and center on my YouTube home page that day was entitled, “From Darkness to Light: One Woman’s Journey out of the Occult, with Jac Marino.” (I don’t think He did here, but God can use Google and YouTube algorithms too.)


It was an interesting and eye-opening interview exploring the allure and power of spiritism, Satanism, and witchcraft—and how this young woman both became involved and untangled from its grasp. I am not going to go into detail here, but if you’d like to be more informed, I encourage you to watch the video yourself (later). *


A bronze short-sword pointing to the left

After that week, there was no question in my mind that God wanted me to be more awake to the spiritual warfare going on in our world. I know it was not to frighten me, or to cause me to dwell on it or become fixated, or to impel me into a bias of seeing this theme only and everywhere—which all can also become inroads for Satan’s deceits. But, I believe it was for the purpose of reminding me to be prepared and to be more actively engaged—especially through prayer.


Sometimes a theme will continue to repeat itself over a long period of time. Through the circumstances in my life, the Lord will cause a theme to prevail, and I will learn a closer walk with Him through it. One such theme for me in the past has been the importance and power of prayer. And through this, I know prayer is the most potent weapon we have in spiritual warfare.


As of now, nothing extraordinary has happened in my life that I’m aware of in regard to this theme God has more recently begun to insert into my life-curriculum. Since then, the theme has continued, but not as frequently as it did that first week.


The awareness is apparently all that is needed at this time. I believe God is simply calling me to be more faithful to “watch and pray” always (Matt. 26:41; Mark 14:38), and to keep my full armor on (Eph. 6:10-18) so that I can be on the offensive rather than on the defensive in the spiritual war that IS raging in our world.

The highlighted top of a bronze ink-dipping-pen on a black background

Lord, don’t let me despise or disregard these “small” things you are showing me—for the sake of my relationship with you and for the sake of those I love, who you have called me to be praying for.



*See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QgemABuo4Rc.


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