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.
Then He said to them, “Take heed what you hear. With the same measure you use, it will be measured to you; and to you who hear, more will be given. Mark 4:24
There is a measure we get from the Lord. But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. (Ephesians 4:7) But Jesus tells us that we can get more than our measure. To you who hear, more will be given. The measure can lead to more.
The measure of grace can increase.
The measure of faith can increase.
The measure of anointing can increase.
The measure of power can increase.
The measure of fruitfulness can increase.
The measure of effectiveness can increase.
More will be given is the promise.
Take heed what you hear is the condition.
You would think that if you increase your prayer then more will be given. Perhaps if you increase your giving more will be given. Or maybe fasting then more will be given. But Christ said, to you who hear, more will be given.
Decide to hear what will yield more fruit to you!
My prayer is that you don’t just dream of walking in more but decide to obey the principle that promises more.
Take heed to what you hear and hear what is in line with your future goals and dreams.
Lana and I just celebrated 10 years of marriage. Reminiscing over the past 10 years, we want to share some of the lessons that we have learned.
The first lesson we learned is that FREEDOM IS THE FOUNDATION OF A LASTING MARRIAGE. Jesus came to give us life but the enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy. And one of the things he always seeks to destroy is marriage.
Thankfully, I walked into marriage already having experienced freedom from porn which I had conquered many years before that. My wife was battling with loneliness and spiritual depression. Through faith in Christ and God’s Word, she was delivered. I truly believe that freedom is the foundation of a lasting marriage.
Marriage is like a beautiful garden from which we need to pull WEEDS, plant SEEDS, and kill SNAKES. By snakes, I mean spiritual forces that hide behind a person’s behavior which cause pain in the relationship. Too many people, instead of fighting a SNAKE, fight their SPOUSE. Instead of doing SPIRITUAL warfare, they do SPOUSAL warfare. Attacking one’s spouse will not win spiritual warfare.
If you are dealing with the devil’s spiritual attacks in your marriage, remember to always AFFIRM THE PERSON and then ATTACK THE PROBLEM. Not the other way around. If we attack the person first, we will only affirm the problem.
Being in the shadow is being in the shade. Dwelling in God’s presence is living under God’s shadow. His presence provides protection. “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty” (Psalm 91:1). To live in this shadow, we have to be under God’s authority and guidance.
We are not only called to live in the shadow of God but also children are called to live in the shadow of their parents, wives in the shadow of their husbands, parishioners in the shadow of their pastor, etc. Living in someone’s shadow is seen as a negative concept, but it shouldn’t be. Moses and Aaron serve as good examples of this. God sent Moses to Egypt, but He sent Aaron to go to Moses. Moses was sent to a nation, but Aaron was sent to a man - Moses. Aaron lived in the shadow of Moses. That’s where he was safe - in that shadow. One time when Moses lingered on the mountain, Aaron took the lead position, and he didn’t do really well in that role. “Now when Moses saw that the people were unrestrained (for Aaron had not restrained them, to their shame among their enemies)” (Exodus 32:25). The pressure, the people, and the position were all too heavy for him. He pleased the people by permitting idolatry. In fact, it cost many people’s lives, including the displeasure from God.
We all have to be committed to what God called us to do, not try to climb the ladder of success to achieve visibility in the eyes of people. Many of us aren’t called to be in the spotlight, and that’s fine. All of us are called to be a light. Light doesn’t need a stage; it needs a dark space to shine.
If God called you to be in the spotlight, remember there are heat and light that comes from being in the spotlight. Develop strong mental resilience because being known, visible, and popular doesn’t come without criticism, pressure, and heavy responsibility. Make sure to spend quality time in the shadow of God and in the shadow of your mentors and pastors so that you don’t get sunburned. My reminder to you as I give it regularly to myself is not to let criticism get into your heart and not let compliments get into your head.
If God didn’t call you to be in a spotlight, don’t seek it. Be content in God. Remain complete in His love for you. Find comfort in your Comforter, the Holy Spirit. Most importantly, remember your value doesn’t come from your visibility. You are not less valuable in God because you are not visible by men. Some of our body organs such as our heart, liver, and kidneys, don’t get any attention from men. They are not seen in photos or videos, but they are almost more valuable than the parts that are visible. Those organs need to be where they are placed by God. If we remove them out to the front from their original place in order to give them “attention” or “recognition,” we will render our body lifeless.
If God called you to serve him in a shadow, find shade.
I am asked this question more than any other question from both guys and girls. I struggled with this myself, so I pray that God will use this to help you find freedom and hope.
A year before immigrating to the United States, when I was around twelve years of age, I was first exposed to pornography. I never thought about it again until one day while I was housesitting for the neighbors after having arrived in America, I was exposed to it again, but this time I became attracted to it and then enslaved by it. This bondage continued for a few years through my adolescence. We are exhorted to “lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us” (Hebrews 12:1). Pornography is one of those sins that so easily ensnares. Jesus said, “whoever commits sin is a slave of sin” (John 8:34).
Sometimes deliverance becomes a process in a person’s life that takes more than one quick prayer to rid the mind, body, and soul of all the toxicity that years of demonic influence and oppression may have caused.
Many times, there are particular traumatic events that may have catapulted a demonic power into a person’s life such as sexual abuse, rape, or molestation in the early years. These awful things may cause demons to enter right away, depending on the intentions of the person performing these malicious immoral acts, or in other cases, they can cause demons to enter gradually due to unforgiveness and bitterness in the victim’s heart.
"Should Christians stay away from yoga because of its demonic roots?" asked megachurch pastor Mark Driscoll. "Totally. Yoga is demonic. If you just sign up for a little yoga class, you're signing up for a little demon class."
The former Vatican chief exorcist agrees as well that yoga is demonic. "Practicing yoga is Satanic, it leads to evil just like reading Harry Potter," Father Gabriele Amorth said in 2011. His objection: Yoga derives from Hinduism, a heathen religion which teaches that there is reincarnation. Pope John Paul II in 1989 also warned against the dangers of yoga as a seduction of spiritual seekers that "can degenerate into a cult of the body." (1)
There are several different ways of receiving deliverance. Some people receive it instantly at one event and everything is cast out. Others go through a long process of deliverance as some people have more intricate demonic issues. You can liken it to a hospital visit. Someone who has appendicitis goes through a pretty straightforward surgical procedure while someone with a brain tumor would need a more intricate surgery and possibly more surgeries over a period of time to completely remove the cancerous mass. This is because the mass is intertwined with the person's body. In the same way, demons can also be intertwined with a person's mind, emotions, physical body, behavior, and attitudes.
Deliverance like healing can be experienced without someone praying for you individually. A person can even receive the most precious gift of salvation without a preacher. Though it’s very helpful to have someone minister to you, you can experience deliverance through someone praying for you over a video, telephone, or through a book. Deliverance from demonic powers happens through the Name of Jesus, the Blood of Jesus, the Word of God, and the Holy Spirit. These mighty weapons are available to all believers.
There are a few things we must keep in mind. In the Bible, we are commanded to cast out demons and that requires speaking to them. To be clear, we are not encouraged to have conversations with demons. But, during deliverance, at times we ask questions like, “Who are you?” “What have you done to this person?” “How did you enter this person?” These are not conversational questions, these are interrogation questions of inquiry.
Some have claimed that while doing public deliverance, interrogating a demon glorifies the devil and embarrasses the person. On the contrary, we have found that deliverance embarrasses the devil, builds people’s faith, and instills God’s fear in this new generation. Jesus did not exclude deliverances from any of the Gospels nor did He perform them privately. He did not do them for a show, but to glorify God and bring help to those who were struggling.
We must understand that we are fighting three enemies simultaneously: the devil (invisible enemy), the flesh (inward enemy), and the world (visible enemy). The spiritual enemy, the devil, is overcome by repentance, renouncing, resistance, and/or deliverance. The inward enemy, our flesh, is overcome by crucifixion, self-denial, or in other words personal discipline. The world is the ungodly organized system controlled by the devil which operates through people who are opposed to God. This enemy is overcome by fleeing. We are told not to love the world (1 John 2:15-17), or as the psalmist says, “...Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful” (Psalms 1:1).
The answer is yes and no. Many people who have demons usually have bad dreams and after deliverance, the attacks in the dreams disappear. The enemy loves to attack us while we sleep using nightmares, horror dreams, or snakes, and spiders appearing in dreams. It’s the work of Satan---his goal is to rob our peace and power. “But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way” (Matthew 13:25).
This is a very difficult topic. There is a theological debate about this subject, but the topic becomes different when someone in your family, who struggles with demonic torment, takes his own life or dies by overdose. There are cases of suicides in the Bible: Saul intentionally fell on his sword, Samson pulled the temple down on himself, Ahithophel strangled himself and Judas hung himself. All these people are seen in a very negative light in the Bible.
Prophet Elijah prayed "It is enough! Now, Lord, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!” (1 Kings 19:4). And the apostle Paul told the Corinthians that his trials were so difficult that he "despaired even of life" (2 Corinthians 1:8).
I believe a born again believer can have a demon but a demon can’t have him. Christians can be oppressed but not possessed by the devil. For example, my wife and I have had other people live with us in our home for as long as I can remember. These renters were not owners of my property. They had a room that they lived in and a common space we occupied. They also had a key which I gave them. And that’s how demonic oppression in a believer works. Certain demons that influenced either previous sins before we were saved, or else recent ones, acquired the key to certain parts of our life. Jesus is the owner. He occupies the master suite but they can still have access to some guest rooms. Unless you evict them and change the locks, they will continue to come and cause torment.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), 60 million Americans experience a mental health condition every year – that’s one in four adults and one in ten children. I want to hilight three mental cases in the Bible.
Mental Illness can be demonic.
Then they came to Jesus and saw the one who had been demon-possessed and had the legion, sitting and clothed and in his right mind. (Mark 5:15)
When demons were cast out, a man came back to his right mind. I don't believe that everyone who has mental illness has a demon the same way I don't beleive that everyone who is sick has a demon.
Mental illness can be as a result of sin.
That very hour the word was fulfilled concerning Nebuchadnezzar; he was driven from men and ate grass like oxen; his body was wet with the dew of heaven till his hair had grown like eagles’ feathers and his nails like birds’ claws. (Daniel 4:33)
Due to sin of pride, Nebuchadnezzar lost his mind. Similiar story happened to King Saul who had manic episodes after the Holy Spirit departed him. (Reference 1 Samuel 16:14). Though God used mental illness as a chastisement for Nebuchadnezzar, we must not generalize his example for everybody.
Mental illness can be a physical illness.
So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. (Luke 10:34)
Demons can cause those disorders, but sometimes it’s just a physical problem that needs healing and medical treatment. I have seen the deliverance of a man named John who had four mental disorders, and after deliverance, God healed him totally from all of them. We as a church shouldn’t abandon people with a mental illness by equating mental illness only with the work of demons, or suggesting that the mental disorder was the result of personal sin. Taking medicine shouldn't be viewed as a weakness of faith. God uses elements from the earth such as leaves and figs to assist in the healing process from physical problems (Ezekiel 47:12; 1 Timothy 5:23; Isaiah 38:21).
First of all, just because the church doesn’t do deliverance on the stage or post a video on YouTube, it doesn’t mean that deliverances don’t happen there.
I believe that every church has to be a 4x4 church. By 4x4, I refer to four main values that the church should have:
Passionate prayer: the church is a house of prayer. Prayer prepares the atmosphere for the anointing in which demons can’t stay. Churches that don’t see deliverances are usually churches not praying and fasting.
A heart for evangelism: this is huge because when lost people get saved, usually deliverance follows. Churches that don’t see deliverances might be those where no lost people are getting saved.
The expectation of the miraculous: we create services where miracles are expected, instead of creating sermons to explain a lack of miracles. We need to add to our services: praying for the sick, sharing testimonies, and coming with a mindset that the impossible will happen today.
A confrontation of the demonic causes deliverance to happen. Some are scared of doing spiritual warfare in the church service. I think prayers at church need to have a part where demons are confronted beforehand, and those who are designated to that specific prayer need to be trained and equipped.
Today we live in a world run by social media. Social media can be used as a tool when used correctly. We have seen people come to know Christ, be baptized, and join our team, only through interacting with our social media platforms. If our mission is to win the world for Jesus, we must start with where the world is. Soul-winning follows the principle of fishing. The first principle of fishing is "go where the fish are." People are on social media; that's where we should be. Here are few of my personal observations on the topic of using social media for the kingdom.
You are male by birth, but man by choice. The worse dilemma in our generation is that boys became husbands. And even worse, many boys became fathers. Just because a guy can get a woman pregnant, doesn’t mean he is a man, it only proves he is male. Women want men, not boys! Nations need men, not boys!
There are five stages of development of every man:
1. We are born MALE (it’s a gender issue)
2. We become BOYS (boys like toys)
3. We grow to become a MAN
4. We get married and become a HUSBAND
5. We graduate to becoming a FATHER
When I was a teenager, I was bombarded with thoughts to say something wrong about the Holy Spirit. These thoughts were intrusive and intense. By this time, I had already become a youth leader. The enemy used my fear and ignorance about this topic to fill my mind with no-good ideas so that, in return, I can commit an unforgivable sin. I did not know much about spiritual warfare at the time, nor did I have a greater understanding of the Holy Spirit as I have now, but I loved the Holy Spirit and knew that these thoughts were not mine.
There was this fear in me that if I were to say something against the Holy Spirit, I would be condemned for all eternity. I have committed the unpardonable sin. I was scared and lived in fear, making sure I would not say anything against the Holy Spirit. After some time, these thoughts subsided and then disappeared. As I read the Bible, I see that the devil plants some of these fears, but also ignorance can play a huge role in empowering the temptation.
Let’s dig deeper into this.
The Holy Spirit wants to have fellowship with you (2 Corinthians 13:14). God gives us love, Jesus gives us grace, and the Spirit gives us communion. Most of us think that the Spirit's gift is tongues or maybe power. But His primary gift is a relationship. He wants to have an ongoing relationship with you. You are fully qualified for that relationship, in the same way, you are qualified for the love of God and grace of Jesus. He desires intimacy with all of us, not just with certain special people.