We had an incredible trip. I had successfully undergone one of the most difficult, in terms of the preparation I sought to achieve, tasks of my life – preparing for the CSE- and was successful, as I would find out a few months later. But not only was the trip successful in that way, it was also successful in the time that I had with my family. Part of the underlying premise that my wife and I were testing in a ‘trial by fire’ method was: “can one successfully have something as potentially meaningful as a vacation and also do something as difficult as take the oral Architecture Exam” or in other words, “Does family always need to be put on the backburner in order to successfully focus and achieve professional goals?” The answer was a resounding ‘No’. In fact, during the trip, my family served as a helpful ‘distraction’ which allowed me the time to both study and let the study material sink in. Some of my kids even helped me study my flashcards, which was helpful for me and instructive toward them.
After the exam, there was a huge sense of relief. Our plan was to go north to Muir woods after spending the rest of the day touring San Francisco. Although logistically hurried at times, our day was fabulous and included such things as seeing the Golden Gate Bridge, ride a trolley car, and the like… totally fun and memorable. We finished the day at Lincoln Park, where we say an incredible view of the bridge and the bay leading to it. I was able to take a few photos from which I later made a painting. We left with happy and full hearts, rejoicing in God’s kindness to us and relieved that my own personal mental marathon was over. Or so I thought…
It was getting late, and we were driving north to stay at a hotel that wasn’t far, on the map, from Muir woods. We were running low on gas, and the children were starting to get irritable. When we finally got to the hotel, we discovered that it was closed and had been for some time. Keep in mind, our planning had all been ‘on the fly’ – so to speak, and had progressed with no real trouble up until this point.
Although late, we decided to turn around and go back to the only hotel we saw that looked like it would be sufficient. It was a Larkspur hotel. Incredibly nice – beautiful – a sight for sore eyes. We arrived around eleven o’clock and were able to check in and get settled, relieved that we now had a place to lay our heads. We had just enough gas at that point to make it to the hotel and to the gas station the next day.
Like clockwork, the next day was great, in getting up, getting everyone organized, getting food, and preparing for our little family excursion into Muir woods (which I also later made another painting of…)
The scenery was beautiful. However, some of the people weren’t.
There was one guy there who, upon seeing my family (then nine of us) got really hot under the collar. He was livid. Seeing a big family caused him to be filled with rage. I won’t here mention the things that he said… but his bent toward a so-called ‘progressive liberalism’ was evident. His comments were along the lines of – After all, the world is over populated… how could we in good conscience have so many children? Keep in mind, we just showed up. We did nothing to this man. We did nothing to provoke his anger and we certainly said nothing to him before his rant. We discreetly moved along, and thankfully, he was going in the opposite direction to our path of travel.
For me, this was another anecdotal evidence that we are living in a ‘post-Christian’ America. Not that everyone is Christian who claims it, nor that everyone who isn’t lives in ‘civil’ mode of interaction with the public. This real life example was of a classic ‘liberal’ person who has plenty of toleration for the perverse, but no toleration of what should be normal. He was being hypocritical to his views, but letting me and my family know in no uncertain terms that we were immoral for having (within marriage) such a large family. If this was an isolated case, I wouldn’t think that it was a general societal trend. We have encountered more subtle but worse from those who claim to be our ‘brothers and sisters’. He wasn’t discreet about his anger at all, but his discretion was understandable- after all, he is not redeemed, he is fleshly, worldly, and thereby demonic. This case wasn’t the only time we have had negative comments about our family size, although that has been the most memorable time outside of the church. And yes, we have had people make comments about our family size from the church. It’s not fun and it’s not encouraging.
Raising a family can be difficult enough, but to have people seeking to bring you down can be especially troubling. How do we deal with it? Well, the way that I see things is this:
The warfare we are in is spiritual, but that doesn’t mean it is without its pains in the physical world at times. If we look at the book of Job, we understand that Satan is an instrument in God’s hands useful in order to refine us. So, although the evil of Satan and his people is no less evil, having the understanding that God is allowing the evil for my benefit is actually encouraging. God has Satan under control. God has appointed trouble for our lives to transform us into the image of Jesus Christ… a totally worthy attainment.
Some of the most trying moments we have faced as a family have been from people who were alleged friends, but who were in reality substituting for the enemy. We know that people, made of flesh, are not the enemy, but they are at times used by him to try to either distract or destroy us. This ultimate enemy is Satan. But, he uses pawns of people at times to work his will.
We aren’t unaware of his tactics. Spiritually, this is the progression:
- Encourage people to doubt God.
- They then become willing to disobey Him.
- When they are rightfully punished for their disobedience, attribute it to something other than disobedience.
- Encourage them to suppress the truth about God.
- Encourage them to love and worship the creation over worshipping the Creator.
- God then gives them over to a warped mind.
- They become foolish and darkened in their hearts, to the point that they can no longer perceive spiritual light
- Enslave them through continued disobedience.
- They destroy themselves and those around them.
So, the interaction that people have today with satan and the demonic isn’t necessarily as much like a Hollywood spectacle as it is dealing with the effects of sin in one’s day-to-day life. My perspective is that demonic influence in today’s world is as common as the songs listened to on the radio (not necessarily O.O. Either), commercials, etc.
You can thereby see that evil must be contained. There is no solution for dealing with evil apart from its ultimate demise.
How can we tactically identify our enemy’s work so we won’t become his victims? Satan’s tactics include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Persuade people to take brain altering substances, such as alcohol and drugs. This partaking opens them up to what is called dissipation – a numbing of the conscience – that allows demonic influence to be possible.
- When under this state of influence, encourage people to violate God’s laws, especially those pertaining to sexual immorality. This encouragement is done through demonic influence of those who have been immoral. In fact, one could rightly say that to the degree one has been immoral, that is the degree to which the person has been influenced / dominated by things taught by demons,
- They then cultivate destructive habits and ways of relating to people, including strife, factions, divisions and warfare.
- Once people are divided and at war with each other it is easy to then pick them off and enslave them with greater sins… consequently removing their usefulness to God’s Kingdom…
- Which is the plan behind demonic influence It’s all about making sure that that people forget or don’t believe God’s judgment and His forgiveness of sins through Jesus’s work on the cross.
For Christians and those who have recently become Christians, there are still consequences to deal with from one’s previous way of life; part of that is the upbringing and social views of children. Often, those views get carried into church life, regardless of the actual Biblical teaching… some habits, especially those of thought, die hard. Much criticism is leveled at things that are not understood; part of this lack of understanding is ignorance of God’s word.