Thursday, February 25, 2016

More on Piper

Forgive me.

This is harder than I thought, and I'm not done yet.  I plead the title and purpose of my blog: my memories and thoughts.  It's why have a tiny following.  I write for myself therapeutically, and today I need some extra therapy.

This morning I reread what I'd written yesterday.  It was a raw write, and I hadn't the heart to do much proofreading.  This morning I noticed that I'd mixed things up and scrambled my verb tenses something awful, and my first instinct was to go back and fix things, quickly.  But then I decided not to.  My mistakes are a reflection of the confusion I was feeling about how to write about Piper, my difficulty in placing him squarely into the past.  How can he be in the past?  Of course, he is.  But the dawning of the new life without him doesn't come as quickly as the breath left his little body.

For over sixteen years he was with me, next to me, under my bed, under the table, behind me in the study on the floor or (before it became uncomfortable for him) across my lap in my computer chair as I wrote.  He was at the door when I left, and there to greet me when I came home.  "Mommy be right back!" I said to him, over and over.  "Hello tiny puppy!  Are you happy to see your mommy?"  I ran a constant narration of what he was saying and thinking, often out-loud.  "Someday," he always said, "someday I will grow up and have a seat at the table and eat with the rest of the family."  Laura says this is what makes her saddest of all, that when he died he was still just a lowly pup.

He lay on the tub mat outside the shower while I showered, and then he tried to lick the coconut oil off my legs after I moisturized.

He loved bananas.  He always ate the end of my banana.

Yesterday I did not realize that we were still in the middle of it.

I got up after not sleeping, and we still had to deal with the body.  There was a sense of urgency and incompleteness.  An unrest.

Shawn donned his giant red down jacket and took a shovel, a tool for pinching roots, and a blue tarp out to the backyard.  In blowing snow, he dug a deep hole, deeper than his knees.  I watched from the kitchen window, that scene, weather in black and white, black tree trunks, horizontal blowing snow, and muffled by the snow, the red of Shawn's jacket and the folded blue tarp on which he heaped the dirt he was digging out of the hole.  He looked far away, out there beneath the pines with their long, faded green needles.  When Shawn finished digging, he headed back up to the house.  I met him in the garage where Piper's body lay shrouded in a cardboard box.  The commonness of the cardboard did not reflect the affection beneath the surface.  Shawn opened the box and gently pulled the white towel around Piper's head so he would not get dirt on his face.  He lifted the little towel-swaddled body out of the box and carried it out of the side door of the garage.  I offered to help, but he said he would do it alone.  I closed the door for him; his arms were full.

Back in the kitchen, I watched from the window as Shawn carried that bundle back to the hole.  From a distance, Piper looked like a baby in a blanket against Shawn's chest.  Shawn gently laid the bundle into the hole, then knelt at the side of it and reached down to make things straight and tidy.  He paused for a moment before proceeding.

I think I must have turned away while Shawn filled the hole.  It was instinctive, not a decision.  I didn't even realize until afterwards.  Then the snow continued to fall, and soon a fresh blanket of white covered the grave site, and you couldn't even see any signs of anything.

I thought I felt better then, and surely there was a sense of something finished.

We had a routine at bedtime.  Shawn would take the dogs out one last time, and I would prepare their medicine for them to take in cream cheese. Shawn would come in the front door with them, dry their feet, and call to me, "Are you ready for The Running Of The Doggies?"  When the meds were prepared in their cream-cheese-clumps, one on my left index finger for Piper, and one on my right index finger for Schu, I would say, "Yes!"  Then Shawn would release the dogs and they would come racing madly down the hall for their med-u-seen.  We always called it med-u-seen.  They liked that; it made it sound more like a tasty treat.  Last night, Schubert came for his medicine, but it was not the same.

When I went to mount the stairs to go up to bed last night, it hit me.  There was no featherweight dog to scoop into my right arm and carry up from the dark downstairs to the cozy bedroom.  I have done this every night.  Every single night.  Even on his last night, Tuesday night, I had carried his laboring body up to bed.  But last night, Wednesday night, there was no dog to carry up.  I could feel him anyway, the way he settled into my arms until we got to the top, and then he shifted his weight forward to jump to the carpet in the hall.  He had done this right up to the end, but last night he was gone.  It felt empty and off balance.

I hesitate to say this next piece, because it is a great secret, but I just want to remember it so badly:  I almost always go into my closet and pray before bed.  I did not like this about The War Room movie -- I felt that it violated my privacy and trivialized my secret practice.  But that is probably just pride in me anyway, that I should think I do something unique, so perhaps it is good that I talk about it.  Anyway, Piper routinely used to nose his way into my closet and lie on the floor behind me while I prayed, his quiet little comforting presence.  He was so there.  Just there.  Near.

The tears that tiny creature absorbed into his soft white fur.  His quiet little patience and animal way of knowing when I needed him.  His kisses that went on and on, licking and licking.  "I love my mommy.  I love to be with my mommy.  I love when my mommy holds me."

This morning it was the same.  I went to scoop him up and carry him down the stairs to breakfast, the way I always do, but he wasn't there.  I felt it all the way down, and the way he wasn't there to lean forward to leap to the rug in the foyer at the bottom.

It might be a sin to have a dog become such a part of you.  I am exceedingly grateful to God that Piper lived another almost three years after we moved here to Illinois.  It was so hard, the way I lost the kids in that move, so excruciatingly hard.  I cannot imagine how much I would have hurt if I had lost Piper at the same time.  God is gracious, God is good.  God must know that it was time for me to say good-bye.  God is my solace and my comfort, but He used Piper to console and comfort me through many years.  I used to stroke that little dog's head and be amazed that God made Piper.  God made Piper, and He gave him to me.  I still can't believe it.

Piper was minuscule when, at six weeks of age, he came into our home.  I remember holding that tiny bit of fluff in the palm of my hand on the drive back from the breeder's house in the country, trying to calculate the price we had paid per pound which, at that point, was rather astounding.  He used to levitate off his back feet when he was eating, and look anxiously over his shoulder to see if one of his brothers was trying to steal his food from him.  When he was very new and still missing his brothers, he used to see his reflection in the sliding glass door and try to play with himself.  He was always fastidious and neat.  He was extremely soft-mouthed when taking a treat from my hand, and felt terrible if his teeth even brushed my fingers.  He was a good, good dog, and we enjoyed him for more than 16 years.

(This is a picture that makes me laugh.  
Piper never was any good at keeping 
himself combobulated on a leash, 
and he would get awfully disgruntled 
when he was tangled up.)

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Piper. 9/10/1999 - 2/23/2016

It was hard to sleep last night, because Piper died last evening, around 10:20 p.m.

I knew it was coming.  I'd even made an appointment for the fateful event to take place this Friday at 11:30 a.m.  Besides Friday, the only other day this week that Shawn was expected to be in town was Wednesday, and our vet was not going to be in on Wednesday, so Friday it was.  But then it happened on Tuesday night.

Piper has been failing for a very long time.  I'd always say, "Piper's going to die soon," and the rest of them would laugh at me.  I guess soon is a relative term, but I knew what I meant.

It was surprising that he survived the move to Illinois from New York, but he handled that better than certain others (Schubert, for example).

Piper had a way of always being happy when he was with me.  Period.  Nothing else mattered very much.  He didn't much care where we were, or whether there was a thunderstorm, or anything, as long as he could be with me.  He'd hop up and scratch at my leg to be picked up, and I would scoop him into my arms, where he would melt against my body in a way he only did with me, and nobody else.  There he'd sit, in my arms, licking the back of my hand, looking around at everyone else with smug satisfaction.

He followed me everywhere.  My tiny white shadow.  As he got old and lost his reflexes, sometimes I tripped on him.  I'm so used to feeling for him with my feet as I walk around the house, it feels strange and empty to have him gone, like sticking your toe out to feel a river current that isn't there.

When I was sick in bed with the flu a couple of times, Piper would not leave my bedside, not even to eat or drink.  Laura had to bring his food and water up to my room and refresh him.

The first time my parents met him was one of the few times they came to visit us.  For some reason we were not able to be home at the time they arrived, but we had arranged a way for them to let themselves into the house.  They were concerned about how the dog would respond to them.  We told them not to worry.  When we caught up with them, Piper and my dad were fast friends, and my dad remarked on what a good bark Piper had for such a small dog, but also said, "When we came inside, he was so excited to see us, he practically licked us to death!"

Speaking of his bark, Piper was a particularly verbal dog, with a lovely melodic and surpisingly deep bark.  He both barked and talked (verbalized with funny little gutteral noises).  Actually, he growled a lot, too, especially at Shawn and Jonathan.  He could really let you know what he thought about things.  He lost his hearing many years ago, though, and stopped talking.  His bark became a low, harsh monotone and he couldn't hear us speak to him.  We figured he went around wondering, "Why doesn't anybody ever talk to me anymore?"  Once in awhile a sound would get through to him, and he would take note, sit up and look around.  I figured out that he could hear me if I clapped sharply, so we went to a system of clapping rather than calling, and he learned to come to me, sometimes quite eagerly, when I clapped for him.

He knew that water came from the kitchen faucet.  He knew all the kids' names and when they had been asked to do something (such as feed him).  He could hop across the room on his two hind feet, spin in circles and roll over.  He knew he got a puppy treat as a reward for going outside and relieving himself, so he learned to ask to go out about 12 times a day.  Shoot.  Those were the glory days.

Once we realized that Piper was missing from the house (this was back in New York).  I tore through the neighborhood, calling for him desperately.  At the intersection of Pinegate and the inner-more Choke Cherry, I saw four mini vans pulled over around all the corners.  I was sure he had been struck.  Forcing myself forward, I found all the vehicles sitting with their doors open, and a kind man out of his car, slowly trying to approach an intact Piper and help him to safety.  Piper was standing befuddled in the middle of the street, but then he saw me and ran to me, jumped into my arms, and all was well as I thanked all the kind and careful people for preserving his life.

That was one of his many escapes from death.  There was also the time he ate Shannon's entire Easter basket full of chocolate, foil and all, and survived about ten more years.

There was also the time he had to go to Cornell and almost have an amputation.  By the grace of God, the surgeons were off duty for the weekend, so they gave him an IV antibiotic to keep him alive despite the necrosis.  By the time the surgeons were back in the saddle, Piper's tissue had come back to life and the amputation was averted, saving us about $7000 that we were not convinced we were going to spend.

Piper wasn't the most kind or service oriented of dogs, but he was so endearing.  Most people who dog-sat him for us went out and got a little dog of their own shortly thereafter.  Finally we found a family that was happy to sit for him and not buy one of their own, and Piper had many happy spa trips to their beloved home while we went to the beach in NC.  They let him sleep in their waterbed with them!

His demise was slow and sad.  The glory days passed, and he lost confidence, coordination, hearing and sight.  At the end, he couldn't even really find a treat if it dropped to the floor when I gave it to him.  He had a little shaggy goat look about him, and he was thin, so thin and frail with fragile bones and heaving hips.  He was covered with bleeding warts and his hair was falling out.  But he still loved me, still knew when I was holding him, and that made him happy.  Also, until the very end, he enjoyed his breakfast with great delight.

Almost a week before he died, he fell down the stairs.  This was very odd, because he never even tried to go on the stairs.  And he was always happy to be on the same level that I was on.  (I spent a great deal of time carrying him to where I was, after he would awake in a different location and bark to be reunited.)  The day he fell, he was upstairs with me and I was working on my computer.  I heard a scuffle and a falling down the stairs.  I wondered if Schubert, who routinely goes up and down, had slipped, but then I heard Schubert barking and I knew it wasn't him.  I ran to see, afraid of what I would find.  But there was little Piper, at the bottom of the stairs on the foyer rug, standing, slowly walking in circles and gingerly shaking his head.

I had to leave that weekend for a retreat in St. Louis.  Piper was so small and wilted in the hallway as I carried out my baggage.  I went back and stroked him very gently.  He was so bony, you had to pet him very softly.  I stroked him and whispered to him, even though he could not hear me, and I left.

That little guy stuck it out and stayed alive until I got home.  Once I was home, he even rallied a bit.  After not eating while I was gone, he ate some scrambled eggs, bits of pot roast, and chicken scraps for me.  He was having trouble breathing; his lungs were congested.  I gave him a diuretic we had on hand but had not been using due to other previous factors.

Yesterday, his last day, he had a pretty good day.  I took him out many times, because the diuretic necessitated that.  It was a lovely springlike day, and Piper seemed to enjoy the sunshine and the grass beneath his feet.  Even on that last day, he had his graceful, prancing trot, and he lifted his feet high and turned his nose into the wind.

It was becoming a pattern, and I should maybe have been more aware of it, that he would get confused and incapacitated after the sun went down.  That was true yesterday as well.  The windows darkened and he became restless, uncomfortable, disoriented.  Little Piper, little disheveled, dirty-faced tiny man who used to be so pretty and fastidious.  He couldn't get comfortable.  I tried to keep him near me.  In the old days, he loved to sit in my lap, but lately he had been uncomfortable unless he could stretch out on a flat surface.  So recently Schubert has been sitting in my lap while Piper stretches out somewhere nearby.

Schu was in my lap, and Piper was trying to get comfortable on the floor.  Then Piper stood up and wet a little bit, and suddenly moved quickly to the back corner of the room where he never goes.  I picked him up and hurried him outdoors, not knowing what to expect.  He fell pitifully in the grass, struggled up, and stumbled around in confusion.  Shawn came out to watch him, and I went inside to clean the carpet.  I think Piper may have been having a seizure.  True to his always fastidious nature, he virtually emptied himself outdoors before coming back in to die.  Of course, it was totally after-hours for all vet services by then.

We set him in his crate in the family room with us and tried to watch a basketball game.  I think it was the Minnesota Gophers.  Shawn felt bad for Piper and lifted him out to join us on the sofa.  Piper was cognizant enough to lurch from Shawn's lap, across Schubert, to my lap.  I wrapped him back up in the towel and held him close while he gasped and struggled for breath as I tried to massage his chest gently and offer some relief.  Finally he lay down in my lap, exhausted, and fell asleep, breathing a little easier.

I sat still with him in my lap until I needed to get ready for bed.  Then I tried to rise as slowly and quietly as possible, but he woke up and looked around.  I carried him up to the hallway and saw myself holding him in the mirror of the half-bath.  He still looked very cute, that little white face with the dark eyes.  I was wearing a white fleece hoodie, and he was wrapped in a white towel, and it was quite a calm and soothing sight.  Shawn gave him his medicine one last time, and I carried him up to put him to bed in his crate in our room.

As I placed him into his crate, he resisted against me.  I let him go, and he struggled away, down the hall to our bathroom, lurching into my closet on the way.  He was flailing and falling, flopping in odd directions.  I scooped him back up, and he was quite limp.  Covering him with the towel, I put him back into the crate and called to Shawn, telling him that I was afraid Piper was really, truly, actually dying.

Beneath the towel, Piper twitched a few more times, but he seemed pretty peaceful.  Shawn came and checked him.  He was no longer breathing, but his heart continued to beat for a little while.  Then he was still.  It was the end.  So quiet.  Such a breathtaking empty void in the room.

We waited a bit, unsure what to do next, letting the strangeness in the room settle.

We cleaned Piper up, wrapped him back in the towel and placed him in a cardboard box.  After consideration, we determined that it would be best to keep the body in the cool garage overnight, rather than in the house.

We waited until morning to bury him deep beneath the pines out back.  Shawn had to dig the hole in a blizzard, and I thought how nice it was for Piper that he left while the weather was still warm, that his last memories were of sunshine and grass beneath his feet, that he didn't have to go out into the cold wet snow this morning.

It was hard to sleep last night.  It is a sad time.  Death is not pretty, no matter what, even when the time is right and the life has been long and good.

There is much to be thankful for.  He was a good dog.  He loved me.  I was his hero, and he thought I was perfect.  His adoration was constant and unconditional.  May his rest be peaceful and complete.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Scriptures that expose the devil's lies, part 4

This is the fifth and final post in a series about the deceptive techniques of the devil.  The devil routinely lies, deceiving people in order to lead them away from the Lord.  In my first post of this series, I identified 12 common lies which the deceiver tells over and over.  We are working through these lies, and placing the truth of scripture against them to expose them.  I've included links to the other posts at the end of this one.

The scriptures below are all from the NIV unless otherwise noted. 

Devil's lie #10.

It doesn't matter if you just sin a little bit.  You can always stop when you want to.

Truth:  Sin always hurts you, always robs you of something that would have been better.  Sin takes you farther than you planned to go, and costs you far more than you ever planned to pay. 


  • Proverbs 6:27-28Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned?  Can a man walk on hot coals without his feet being scorched?
  • Proverbs 7:6-23At the window of my house I looked down through the lattice.  I saw among the simple, I noticed among the young men, a youth who had no sense
    He was going down the street near her corner,
        walking along in the direction of her house at twilight, as the day was fading,
        as the dark of night set in. 
    Then out came a woman to meet him,
        dressed like a prostitute and with crafty intent. 
    (She is unruly and defiant,
        her feet never stay at home; 
    now in the street, now in the squares,
        at every corner she lurks.) 
    She took hold of him and kissed him
        and with a brazen face she said: 
    “Today I fulfilled my vows,
        and I have food from my fellowship offering at home. 
    So I came out to meet you;
        I looked for you and have found you! 
    I have covered my bed
        with colored linens from Egypt. 
    I have perfumed my bed
        with myrrh, aloes and cinnamon. 
    Come, let’s drink deeply of love till morning;
        let’s enjoy ourselves with love! 
    My husband is not at home;
        he has gone on a long journey. 
    He took his purse filled with money
        and will not be home till full moon.” 
    With persuasive words she led him astray;
        she seduced him with her smooth talk. 
    All at once he followed her
        like an ox going to the slaughter,
    like a deer stepping into a noose 
    till an arrow pierces his liver,
    like a bird darting into a snare,
        little knowing it will cost him his life.
  • Proverbs 7:24-27 ~ Now then, my sons, listen to me;
        pay attention to what I say.  Do not let your heart turn to her ways
        or stray into her paths.  Many are the victims she has brought down;
        her slain are a mighty throng.  Her house is a highway to the grave,
        leading down to the chambers of death.
  • Proverbs 9:13-18 ~ Folly is an unruly woman;
        she is simple and knows nothing.  She sits at the door of her house,
        on a seat at the highest point of the city, calling out to those who pass by,
        who go straight on their way, “Let all who are simple come to my house!”
    To those who have no sense she says, “Stolen water is sweet;
        food eaten in secret is delicious!”  But little do they know that the dead are there,
        that her guests are deep in the realm of the dead.
  • Ephesians 5:3-6But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.  Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.  For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.  Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient.

Devil's lie #11.

You have to take care of yourself and put yourself first, because nobody else cares about you.

Truth: God cares about you.  He works on your behalf, and He takes care of you, protects you.  When you trust God and die to selfishness, you will find that you are the most free you have ever been because you don't have to worry about yourself. 

  • Psalm 91:9-11 ~ If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
        and you make the Most High your dwelling, no harm will overtake you,
        no disaster will come near your tent.  For he will command his angels concerning you
        to guard you in all your ways.
  • Psalm 91:14-15 ~ “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
        I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.  He will call on me, and I will answer him;
        I will be with him in trouble,
        I will deliver him and honor him.
  • Psalm 31:14-16 ~ But I trust in you, Lord;
        I say, “You are my God.”  My times are in your hands;
        deliver me from the hands of my enemies,
        from those who pursue me.  Let your face shine on your servant;
        save me in your unfailing love.
  • Luke 9:23-25 ~ Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.  For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.  What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self?
  • Matthew 19:28-30 ~ Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.  And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.  But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first."
  • Philippians 2:3-9 ~ Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.  In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:  Who, being in very nature God,
        did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;  rather, he made himself nothing
        by taking the very nature of a servant,
        being made in human likeness.  And being found in appearance as a man,
        he humbled himself
        by becoming obedient to death—
            even death on a cross!  Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
        and gave him the name that is above every name.

Devil's lie #12.

This is way more fulfilling than anything God has to offer.

Truth: Although Satan works hard to convince you that he has something worthwhile to offer, it is all a sham.  Every good gift and every perfect gift comes from God.  Everything that has real value comes from God.  Everything that that lasts comes from God.  True fulfillment is only found in Christ.

  • Psalm 16:11 ~ You make known to me the path of life;
        you will fill me with joy in your presence,
        with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
  • Psalm 63:3-5 ~ Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.  I will praise you as long as I live and in your name I will lift up my hands.  I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you.
  • Psalm 73:23-26 ~ Yet I am always with you;
        you hold me by my right hand.  You guide me with your counsel,
        and afterward you will take me into glory.  Whom have I in heaven but you?
        And earth has nothing I desire besides you.  My flesh and my heart may fail,
        but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
  • John 10:10 ~ The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
  • John 17:13 ~ I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them.
  • 2 Corinthians 4:17-18For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
  • Ephesians 1:18-23 ~ I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.  And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.
  • Philippians 1:21-26For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.  If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know!  I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.  Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me.
  • Philippians 3:7-14But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.  What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.  I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.  Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.  Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
  • Hebrews 12:1-2 ~ Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
  • James 1:17Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

Obviously the devil uses more lies than these.  Also, I am only touching on some scriptures to counter these particular lies.  Depending on your specific situation, God may have many other things to say to you in other places in the Bible.

If you struggle with discerning truth, struggle to trust in the goodness of God, I encourage you to spend much time praying and reading Philippians, Psalms and Proverbs.  These are often easier to understand than some other parts of scripture.  Mark is the easiest gospel to understand, but John offers the most comfort (I think).  Isaiah is a very rich book, full of good thoughts and good promises, but it can be difficult to understand.   Pray whenever you read scripture.  If you haven't tried it before, you may be surprised at how powerfully God answers when He meets you in His word.

Other posts in this series:

The devil's schemes and the God of truth
Scriptures that expose the devil's lies.
Scriptures that expose the devil's lies, part 2.
Scriptures that expose the devil's lies, part 3.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Scriptures that expose the devil's lies, part 3

This is the fourth in a series of posts about the deceptive techniques of the devil.  He routinely lies, deceiving people in order to lead them away from the Lord.  In my first post of this series, I identified 12 common lies which the deceiver tells over and over.  We are working through these lies, and placing the truth of scripture against them to expose them.  I've included links to the other posts at the end of this one.

The scriptures below are all from the NIV unless otherwise noted. 

Devil's lie #7.

You are worthless.

Truth:  You are so valuable to God that Jesus was crucified to buy you back from the devil who temporarily owned you. 

  • Matthew 13:45-46Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls.  When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.
  • Luke 12:7 ~ Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
  • 1 Peter 1:18-19 ~ For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.
  • Revelation 5:9 ~ And they sang a new song, saying:
    “You are worthy to take the scroll
        and to open its seals,
    because You were slain,
        and with Your blood You purchased for God
        persons from every tribe and language and people and nation."

Devil's lie #8.

You are hopeless.

Truth: All things are possible for God.   Nothing is ever hopeless.  God has infinite power to restore and renew.  God has infinite grace to to pour out on you in forgiveness in response to repentance.  There is hope. 

  • Psalm 42:5 ~ Why, my soul, are you downcast?
        Why so disturbed within me?
    Put your hope in God,
        for I will yet praise him,
        my Savior and my God.
  • Psalm 103:1-5 ~ Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.  Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits—who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
  • Isaiah 57:18-19 ~ "I have seen their ways, but I will heal them;  I will guide them and restore comfort to Israel’s mourners, creating praise on their lips.  Peace, peace, to those far and near,” says the Lord. “And I will heal them.”
  • Matthew 19:26 ~ Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
  • Romans 5:8 ~ But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
  • Romans 15:13 ~ May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. 

Devil's lie #9.

It's too late.

Truth: Although there will be a point when it will be too late, it is not too late as long as you have life and breath.  Ask Jesus to heal everything that is amiss in you today, while you can.  If you can consider it, it is not too late .

  • Psalm 25:7 ~ Do not remember the sins of my youth
        and my rebellious ways;
    according to your love remember me,
        for you, Lord, are good.
  • Isaiah 55:6-7 ~ Seek the Lord while he may be found;
        call on him while he is near.  Let the wicked forsake their ways
        and the unrighteous their thoughts.
    Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them,
        and to our God, for he will freely pardon.
  • 1 John 1:9 ~ If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.  
  • Luke 23:39-43 ~ One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”  But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence?  We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”  Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom."  Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”   
  • John 6:37 ~ All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.

Other posts in this series:

The devil's schemes and the God of truth
Scriptures that expose the devil's lies.
Scriptures that expose the devil's lies, part 2.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Scriptures that expose the devil's lies, part 2

This is the third in a series of posts about the deceptive techniques of the devil.  He routinely lies, deceiving people in order to lead them away from the Lord.  In my first post of this series, I identified 12 common lies which he tells over and over.  Last time, we debunked three of these lies.  Today, we will debunk three more.

The scriptures below are all from the NIV unless otherwise noted. 

Devil's lie #4.

God doesn't care.

Truth:  God cares very much about his children.  He invites us to cast our cares on Him because He cares for us.  He is attentive to our prayers and zealous for our salvation.  He cares so much, He fights for us, on our side. 

  • 1 Peter 5:7 ~ Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
  • Psalm 55:22 ~ Cast your cares on the Lord
        and he will sustain you;
    he will never let
        the righteous be shaken.
  • Psalm 34:15The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
        and his ears are attentive to their cry;
  • Isaiah 26:11 ~ Lord, your hand is lifted high,
        but they do not see it.
    Let them see your zeal for your people and be put to shame;
        let the fire reserved for your enemies consume them.
  • Exodus 14:14 ~ The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.
  • Psalm 20:7 ~ Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
        but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.
  • Psalm 33:16-22
    No king is saved by the size of his army;
        no warrior escapes by his great strength.  A horse is a vain hope for deliverance;
        despite all its great strength it cannot save. 
    But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him,
        on those whose hope is in his unfailing love, 
    to deliver them from death
        and keep them alive in famine. 
    We wait in hope for the Lord;
        he is our help and our shield. 
    In him our hearts rejoice,
        for we trust in his holy name. 
    May your unfailing love be with us, Lord,
        even as we put our hope in you.

Devil's lie #5.

God won't (or can't) help you.

Truth: God is for us, so who can stand against us?  He comes to the aid of His people.  Nothing is impossible for God.  God is sovereign, omnipotent, almighty, attentive and kind.  He has delivered His people from sin, and ultimately He will deliver us from eternal death.  God can and will help His people. 

  • Exodus 14:14 ~ The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.  (~worth repeating!)
  • Psalm 3:8 ~ From the Lord comes deliverance.
        May your blessing be on your people.
  • Psalm 18:2 ~ The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
  • Psalm 32:7 ~ You are my hiding place;
        you will protect me from trouble
        and surround me with songs of deliverance.
  • Psalm 34:7 ~ The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him,
        and he delivers them.
  • Romans 8:31 ~ What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
  • Romans 8:32 ~ He who did not spare his own Son, but gave Him up for us all—how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?
  • Matthew 19:26 ~ Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
  • Luke 1:37For nothing will be impossible with God.   (ESV)

Devil's lie #6.

There is nothing to look forward to.

Truth:  There is everything to look forward to.  Home in heaven.  Restoration of everything that is good.  The end of everything that is bad.  A new heaven and a new earth.  A perfect relationship with God.  Perfect relationships with all others who, like you, will also have been perfected in eternity.   Eternal life in paradise.

  • Zephaniah 3:20 ~ At that time I will gather you;
        at that time I will bring you home.
    I will give you honor and praise
        among all the peoples of the earth
    when I restore your fortunes
        before your very eyes,”
    says the Lord.
  • Psalm 16:11 ~ You make known to me the path of life;
        you will fill me with joy in your presence,
        with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
  • John 14:1-3 ~ Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.  My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.
  • Romans 8:18-21 ~ I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.  For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed.  For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.
  • 1 Corinthians 15:51-53 ~ Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.  For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.
  • 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 ~ For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
  • Philippians 3:20-21 ~ But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.
  • Colossians 3:4 ~ When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
  • 2 Timothy 4:8 ~ Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.
  • 1 John 3:2 ~ Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.
  • Jude 24-25 ~ To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy—to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.
  • Revelation 21:1-4 ~ Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.  I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.  And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
  • Revelation 22:1-5 ~ Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.  No longer will there be any curse.  The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him.  They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.  There will be no more night.  They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light.  And they will reign for ever and ever.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Scriptures that expose the devil's lies

This is a follow-on from my last post, which discussed the deceptive techniques of the devil.  He routinely lies, deceiving people in order to lead them away from the Lord.  In my last post, I identified 12 common lies he tells over and over.  Below, I've begun debunking these lies, placing them against the truth that counters them, and scriptures to illustrate what is true.

These are dense, so I'm going to break them down and address three lies per post, over four posts.

The scriptures below are all from the NIV unless otherwise noted. 

Devil's lie #1.

God doesn't love you.

Truth:  God loves the world.  God loves all people.  
And God loves you, specifically, infinitely, unconditionally. 

  • Lamentations 3:22 ~ Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
        for his compassions never fail.
  • John 3:16 ~ For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
  • 1 Timothy 2:3-4This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.
  • 1 John 4:10 ~ This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
  • Luke 12:6-7 ~ Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God.  Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. 
  • Romans 5:8 ~ But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 

Devil's lie #2.

God isn't good.

Truth:  God is good.  He is the very essence of goodness, the definition.  
Everything good comes from God and from nowhere else.  God is good. 

  • Psalm 31:19 (ESV) ~ Oh, how abundant is your goodness,
        which you have stored up for those who fear you
    and worked for those who take refuge in you,
        in the sight of the children of mankind!
  • Psalm 86:5 ~ You, Lord, are forgiving and good,
        abounding in love to all who call to you.
  • Psalm 16:2 ~ I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
        apart from you I have no good thing.”
  • Deuteronomy 10:12-13 ~ And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the Lord’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?
  • James 1:17 ~ Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.   

Devil's lie #3.

There is no God.

Truth:  There is a God.  He made the Universe.  He reveals Himself through creation, scripture and Jesus Christ.

  • Isaiah 44:6 ~ This is what the Lord says—
        Israel’s King and Redeemer, the Lord Almighty:
    I am the first and I am the last;
        apart from me there is no God.
  • Isaiah 44:24 ~ This is what the Lord says—
        your Redeemer, who formed you in the womb:
      I am the Lord,
        the Maker of all things,
        who stretches out the heavens,
        who spreads out the earth by myself,
  • Isaiah 45:18 ~ For this is what the Lord says—
    he who created the heavens,
        he is God;
    he who fashioned and made the earth,
        he founded it;
    he did not create it to be empty,
        but formed it to be inhabited—
    he says:
    “I am the Lord,
        and there is no other."
  • Psalm 19:1 ~ The heavens declare the glory of God;
        the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
  • Romans 1:20 ~ For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
  • John 14:9 ~ Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.  How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?"
  • 2 Timothy 1:9-10 ~ He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.   
  • John 20:31 ~ But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
  • Genesis 1:1 ~ In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

For the next post in this series, click here.