For as long as I can remember, I was always afraid of the dark. Since I was the oldest in my family, I was the first child to have my own bedroom. But I was afraid when the lights were turned off. Even when I was a youth pastor, having to lock up the church late at night, I would run from the door to my car with my heart beating wildly. I would check the back seat just to make sure that Jack the Ripper wasn’t sitting there waiting to kill me.
After I got married, my wife and I moved into an apartment. Like any normal apartment, there was no ceiling light in the living room. One Saturday night as we were having dinner in the kitchen, I started to feel something was not right in the living room. In fact, I thought I saw a spirit-being quickly flashing in the dark, and it made the hair on the back of my neck stand up. As I turned away from looking into the living room to look at my wife, I squeezed her hand really tightly. Lana noticed something was not right. She asked me if everything was okay. Of course, I wasn’t about to admit that I just got scared of the dark.
When dinner was over, she turned off the kitchen light, and we went to the office where she would paint and I would finish the final touches on my sermon. Guess what my sermon was about? Victory over the devil! I was preparing a sermon on victory, and yet I was scared of the dark. This fear of the dark had been in my life for as long as I could remember. I even asked God to remove it, but it always seemed like God wanted me to resist it.
Suddenly out of nowhere, my wife asked me if I would go and bring her some water from the kitchen. Now keep in mind this meant that I would have to go down the hallway, through the living room, and then into the kitchen with all the lights off. This may sound funny to some, but I was scared to death. I felt that something creepy was in the living room, and it would kill me if I went in there. I tried to persuade my wife to get her own water, but she insisted that she couldn’t because she was painting. I should just go and bring her water.
I decided that, since there was no way I would tell Lana that I was afraid in my own apartment, I would go and get the water, even if I had to die in my living room. My plan was simple. I would run as fast as I could to reach the light switch in the kitchen, turn on the light, get the water, and then leave the lights on. She would later turn them off before we went to sleep. I was about to leave the room and race to the light switch when I heard the Holy Spirit say, “Do NOT turn on the light; you are the light.” I felt him speak loudly to my pounding heart, “I will not remove your fear of darkness because I have empowered YOU to resist it.” Yet in my mind, it was like, “that’s easy for you to say God, but here I am scared and I am going to die.” Well, I decided, enough is enough! My time had come. I had to face what I've been fleeing from all my life. With my heart thumping like crazy and feeling every ounce of fear, I walked into the living room. Without turning on the light, I positioned myself in the middle of the living room and this is what came out of my mouth: “Darkness or whatever you are, you have no place in this house anymore. I pay the bills here so get out now!” Faith was released in my spirit. Immediately, fear left and whatever demon was masquerading behind that endless fear was gone---forever. I have never had that kind of fear again. My fear of the dark has become a thing of the past.
I prayed for deliverance from fear, but God had another plan. He wanted me to exercise the undiscovered dominion over the fear that I already had in Jesus. I wanted freedom from fear; God wanted me to fight it. I wanted God to remove it; God wanted me to resist it.
This is an excerpt from "Fight Back" book.
Whether you’re in ministry or on a job, married or in school, you will always be around people. Learning to relate to people is one of the greatest skills you can develop in your lifetime. And, learning to deal with difficult people is one of the greatest secrets to lasting success and happiness. I know so many people who quit church and left their faith because they didn’t know how to handle difficult people. Some abandoned their divine calling when they were offended by toxic individuals.
Difficult people have a unique way of getting under your skin and playing on your nerves. Jesus went through much suffering from the hands of sinners, toxic people, religious people, and difficult people. His pain was caused primarily by people. This suffering created sorrow in His soul, even unto death. When He was in pain, those closest to Him didn’t support Him; they fell asleep. Jesus was betrayed by someone close to Him and forsaken by the others who claimed to be His disciples. He was falsely accused, mocked, and blasphemed. His only property - his clothing - was taken away from Him. On top of all this, He was spit on, blindfolded, and beaten. His accusers pulled His beard. All of this was done by people. Demons didn’t do it to Him. Satan didn’t do it to Him. People, yes people, did it to Him. As His followers, we might not go through all that Jesus suffered, but we should learn from Him how to handle these situations better.
1. Jesus prayed beforehand. Before being betrayed, forsaken, and beaten, Jesus went to pray three times for at least an hour each time (Reference Matthew 26:44). Living a lifestyle of prayer doesn’t remove “people-problems,” but it does give us the grace to deal with it in such a way that glorifies God and doesn’t destroy us. Those who don’t live in the presence of God before encountering difficult situations, tend to get bitter instead of better.
Does your heart have peace? Do you feel pain? Do you feel pleasure? Do you delight in His presence?
Solomon said, “Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life” (Proverbs 4:23 NKJV).
Life flows from the heart.
Leadership flows from the heart. The Bible says that David was a shepherd who led his people with the integrity of his heart (Psalm 78:72).
Love comes from the heart. “Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind’” (Matthew 22:37 NKJV).
The Lord looks at the heart (Isaiah 66:2; Matthew 5:4).
As our physical heart plays an essential role in our life, our inner heart plays a vital role in our life, leadership, and love. The enemy of our soul attacks our heart. He wants us to have a spiritual heart attack. If our heart becomes a stony heart, it can’t receive anything good. Or if it becomes full of thorns, it chokes the seed of God’s Word. A good heart is a key to fruitfulness and fulfillment.
Jesus is our best example of living a life that’s full and pleasing to God. Jesus was busy but not burned out. He was mistreated by people, yet He wasn’t bitter. Christ's task was huge, but He lived in a constant state of rest. He shares His secret with us:
“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:29 NIV).
The secret of Jesus’ idea of “rest” wasn’t going on vacations or taking days off, although those measures are good. It’s not His being tied down to disciplined routines but it is His heart. He promises us that if we study His heart, ours will be healthy, and it will bring rest to our whole being. There are many things to learn from Jesus, but one of the most important ones is how to have a healthy heart.
To have a healthy heart, we must have a humble heart.
To have a healthy heart, we must replace a hurry with holiness.
To have a healthy heart, we must prioritize peace over pressure.
Once our heart is healthy, burnout will be replaced with holy burning.