Chasing Off Demon John

This is John, the resident guard mule at the farm where we board our horses, Gretchen & Scooby. Isn’t he gorgeous? His coat glistens; he lives at rapt attention; and he owns the space he occupies. He also detests being handled. John came to the farm that way. The Demon Johnowner tried simply sitting in the field with him, working to gain his trust. Eventually he allowed her to approach him without running away. He would let her get close enoughImage may contain: horse, tree, outdoor and nature that he could spin and wallop her with that strong hind-end. She tried getting a rope on him to have a vet check him…for which John dragged her through the field and woods. Bruised and sore, she resigned herself to letting John live in the fields free from human interaction. His beauty can only be admired at a distance because he is possessed by whatever his life once included.

I call him Demon John because he reminds me of the many people held captive by the evil one-those who resist all touches of love. This week when we arrived to work our horses, we found Demon John had taken up residence in their field. Observing his techniques and body language revealed clear parallels to the work of the enemy in lives all around me. I thought perhaps you would enjoy a glimpse of a principle Elaine Davis (Unbridled Faith) refers to as:

“If you read it in the Word and see it in the herd, you’ll believe it!”

The first thing we notice was how John had separated our usually inseparable horses. He proceeded to show us how he controlled their movements.  Gretchen was assigned the far corner of the field; Scooby had been placed in a wooded area near the barn. JohnDemon John my domain stood at attention between the two. He fixed his eyes on us as if to communicate, “This is my domain.”

Division is a tool of the enemy because unity is a passion of the Father.  Christ’s prayer in John 17 for his disciples (those of that time and those of us today!) was a plea for unity.  The enemy loves to step in-between us and our closest allies.  He controls our attention and prevents pro-active connections by forcing us to continually re-act to him.  In a masterful switch, we begin to believe the isolation is the fault of the other person.  We become blind to the work of the enemy.  The isolation deepens without intervention…without Jesus.

For our horses, we were the intervention that changed their reality.  As Riesa approached Scooby, John stepped in to place himself between them.  Scooby is never difficult to catch, but John moved him out into the field.  John kept himself on Scooby’s ‘dominant’ side…a few steps ahead but able to dive in and bite as needed.  He also moved him in a direction he really wanted to go–toward Gretchen.  The body language of Scooby shows him looking back to Riesa–and even listening to her call as John moves him away from her.  But John has convinced him he is more powerful and able to hurt him; Scooby has acquiesced to John as his leader.

The enemy uses a similar tactic on people.  He sees the Father approaching, calling to his precious creation.  The devil steps in to our dominant side–our strengths and our lusts–and bullies us away from the One who calls.  Like Scooby, we step toward what we want relying on our strengths (ie hard work, knowledge, skill).  We move away from the voice that calls us to relationship and connection.  We never even notice we fare ollowing one who cares nothing for us and will never give us what we long for.Gretchen I choose youAs John drove Scooby toward Gretchen, his attention was divided.  Gretchen, seeing an opportunity to be free of his domination moved toward me.  The bond Scooby has with Riesa was able to slip into the crack created by John’s loss of focus.  Riesa haltered her boy and kept John at bay while I haltered Gretchen.  Then began a fascinating glimpse of John’s impact on Scooby’s attitude and connection ability!

As children of God, we must maximize our connections with others.  There are opportunities where those we love are able to hear our call.  We must passionately pursue those in our lives with Gospel of Peace.  It must be what we are always prepared to do!  When the opportunity arises, we must be ready to connect and move our loved ones away from the pull of the enemy.

In our pasture, John’s presence remained and his impact seeped into the ‘working time’ we planned with our horses.  John maintained a close proximity to Scooby, and his Scooby you dont control mebehavior showed it.  His normally happy personality was irritable–he crow-hopped and resisted Riesa’s leadership.  Having lost his position in the herd, it seemed he was intent on establishing himself with Riesa.  Working with him, Riesa decided to help him drive Demon John out of the work area.  Watching him rise to the task and return with prancing joy at his victory will make your heart smile!

 

Consider where you have seen this with people.  Unhappiness comes out in resistance to the ones we are closest too. There are negative, unhealthy consequences to moving away from relationships.  Those who have lost control in one area often strive to take control in another.  Someones it is done in a positive way (eg a determination to exercise); other times it is a clearly destructive effort of control (eg bulimia).–always it falls short of the wholeness God desires. God’s desire is that we partner with Him to chase our enemy and march together in victory!

Scooby and Gretchen had a sit-com ending to their story.  It was resolved in a morning.  Life doesn’t have sit-com situations very often.  Life is messy and the after-effects of ‘demon johns’ needs commitment and love to resolve.  We need fellow believers to come along-side us and help us fight for the kingdom of God to reign in our lives.

If you would like to dig more deeply into the Word revealed in the herd, check out:

James 4:7

2 Corinthians 2:14

Deuteronomy 20:1-4

Victory as an Act of God

Family – training for relationship

God created us for relationship–and family is intended to be the safe place for learning and practicing relationship skills.  We become our very best…and relate our very best to others…when we know who we are designed to be and how to live fully in Christ!

What we learn only in our heads can be difficult to put into practice.  A.A.R.T. (animal-assisted relationship training) helps weave knowledge from head to heart to heels!

 

Riddles, unknown objects, observations, errors & blindfolded walking brought truths of our identity in Christ into the light.  AART isn’t a magical solution to building family relationships.  It is a tool to help each person grow more into the likeness of Christ and share more of the glory of God in their interactions with others.

Check out the ways Heartsong helps bring the wisdom of the word to individual walks.

Can you hear me now?

We all have those conversations with others that leave us feeling that nothing we thought we were saying was heard.  Whatever it is we intended to convey often takes a back seat to resentment and frustration.  Then, we assure that nothing is heard!

We live in a loud, loud world–where opinions are shouted as truth and personal preference is a god that divides and destroys.  Learning to hear and be heard is a vital pursuit.  We want our hearts to be intent on the cell phone slogan:  Can you hear me now?

A quiet heart resting in God is the key to hearing clearly.  It is also the key to speaking clearly.  When we have God in His rightful place, powering our lives, we will hear Him and heartothers will as well.

We intuitively understand the damage of speaking from a distressed heart.  ‘Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.’  When our heart is impure and filled with ‘us’ instead of Christ, the words we speak reflect that.

David–the man after God’s own heart–gives us insight into what happens when we relate to others with a disquieted heart.

When my heart was embittered
And I was pierced within,
Then I was senseless and ignorant;
I was like a beast before You.  Psalm 73:21,220227162151a

A heart that is pained and bitter makes us senseless and ignorant.  We can’t even think through what we are hearing or seeing. Our relationships with others are cut off.  We stand before God as a ‘beast’ instead of one made in His image.

The emotions God built into us are to alert us to the need to go for Him–for a clean-up, a restoration to what really matters.  We can’t simply acknowledge our unrest, we must confess it for the sin it is.  David didn’t dismiss his sin by excusing himself or accusing another…he said “I was senseless and ignorant.”  He owned his limitations and honored God.  Then, we see a beautiful picture of how God brings each of us into relationship with Him–and how we can restore relationships in our own lives.

Nevertheless I am continually with You;
You have taken hold of my right hand.
With Your counsel You will guide me,
And afterward receive me to glory. Psalm 73:23,24

God does not toss us aside or even turn His back on us when bitterness and pain causes us to be foolish and ignorant.  He holds us fast and guides us with kindness.  He refocuses on what really matters and leads us toward that.

My tendency in brick wall conversations is to drop the matter and move on.  Sometimes that is the right choice.  But always, loving others and leading them toward what really matters with kindness is the right choice. 

As Christians, we are called to make disciples of Christ.  We can only do that if we surrender our lives so Christ can be seen and felt.  Insisting on our opinion, requiring others to see things as we see them or feel about things as we do is not the way of Christ.   Through Jeremiah, God told His people, I have drawn you with cords of loving-kindness.  He is unchanging.  May we change into more of His likeness.

Lifemanship

It is my joy to share the excitement of our recent training on ‘Relationships.’  For three days, my daughter, Riesa and our friend Debbie invested our hearts and minds (and bodies) into understanding Relationship Principles that can be visibly demonstrated with horse and human interaction.  I am excited about the content and looking forward to building it into a discipleship model that helps Christians walk out Truths we believe.

In my delight, I wanted to share a teaser glimpse of Lifemanship and what you can expect to read more about in coming months.  As a curriculum/practice, Lifemanship weaves neuroscience, counseling theory, and equine science into the context of free will and building relationships.

Relationships are understood as the basis for whole and healthy living.  God, of course, is my role model for ‘doing life,’ so His way of doing relationship is the only one to emulate.  Lifemanship has captured that in a powerful way.  Every relationship is built on FREE WILL.  Both parties have to choose to be in relationship with one another.  Scripture is clear:  God invites us to connect with Him!

Another principle is that relationships involve give and take.  Committing to a relationship means committing to communication that shares and sticks with requests.  Lifemanship offers principles (tools) to make that happen.  One such principle is mutual benefit:  if something is good for me but not you–it is not good for our relationship!  The life of faith attests to this principle:  God never asks of us anything that is for less than our best…and it gives Him glory when we engage with Him.

Spirit Reins in Texas is a ministry that utilizes the curriculum in a powerful way.  I invite you to watch this little video…and as the Lord leads, please pray as we seek to understand more of this curriculum, practice its methodology and look for ways to share it with others!

Spirit Reins

Fresh Look at the Past is another page on this website that offers help today for those with relationships that hurt.

 

Guide and Guard

 

When we fix our eyes on God as our Guide and Guard, our life journeys fulfill His good purposes.  Throughout God’s Word, we find evidence of His desire to lead us out of the captivity of our sinful humanity to the freedom of living in Christ.  From eternity past to eternity future, God’s goal is close relationship with us. Seeking His guidance puts us on a pathway of fellowship with Him.  Surrounded by His presence, we enjoy Him as our Guide and our Guard.

God is a Guide and Guard who never sleeps.  Scriptures remind us that the eyes of the Lord are continually upon us.  The Psalmist says God guides us with His eye.  To know the direction He desires us to look, we must seek His face.  To remain in His presence and benefit from His guidance, we must give attention to His point of focus. God’s gaze always rests upon those things that hide His glory from others and us.  When we follow His eyes, we see ourselves as He sees us.   Even though the eyes of our Lord always overflow with love, seeing the truths about ourselves that He sees is most uncomfortable.  Only receiving His unconditional love allows us to accept that penetrating gaze from our Guide.  

God never forces us to accept His view; we can choose to focus our eyes as we wish.  His love will remain and His gaze stay fixed on the area of our soul that remains chained.  Rejecting Him as Guide puts us on a path that takes us away from His presence.  We become our own guide and guard.  Mark records the sad account of the rich, young man who sought Jesus, felt His loving gaze and chose to reject it. Christ desired for the young man to see the limits of his earthly treasures and choose to trust Him.  Preferring the comfort of his visible earthly treasures, the rich young man chose to be his own guide.  

The joyful truth we must never forget, though, is that when we choose to seek Him again as our Guide and Guard, He will be waiting to travel with us.  He will guide us into the transforming power of His truth and love!  He will guide us and guard us to the end.  Seeking God’s face and walking in His presence allows us to see more our awesome God more clearly.  When we accept Him as our Guide and Guard, our lives become a window for others to glimpse Him as well.