The Gates Are Open

December 2016

Spirit of the Joy Robber

Last Friday night, my wife and I attended a banquet as guests of a close friend. The speaker for the evening was a man I had met almost 20 years before when we lived in Montana and I was excited to hear and meet him again. His name is George Otis, Jr., President of the Sentinel Group and a man who studies spiritual revivals as they are happening around the world. His message that night was riveting–as always–but that is not the point of this article.

I had an unusual encounter with the spirit realm years ago. It was through reading one of George’s books I was armed for the battle.

In 1997, I read Otis’ book “The Twilight Labyrinth: Why Does Spiritual Darkness Linger Where it Does?”  George and his company, the Sentinel group,  are researchers. They explore the stories and statistics behind trends and happenings around the world. For years, their business was to help entities understand markets and market trends. But George himself became fascinated with trends in the spirit realm. He conjectured that some geographical areas see positive spiritual things happening and other places mostly negative spiritual results. In this book, he categorized his findings and theorized on why this might be.

He spends several chapters writing about a particular area of the world which seems to have more demonic, satanic, and shamanistic practitioners than anywhere else. For this article, I will not mention the name of the place, but you can certainly buy the book and find out where it is. I read the entire book in one day; it was that fascinating. I have had encounters with unclean and dangerous spirits over my years in counseling and pastoring and I wanted to know more about that realm.

In the book, George relates how shamans in this particular place would occasionally give spirits an assignment to rob joy out of their enemies. It is thought in that culture if a person has no joy left they will die. This may or may not be true, but I have seen what it is like when people have no joy, and it is certainly ugly and life-threatening. I had no trouble believing this is sometimes the result of the occult. The Twilight Labyrinth claims this is a common practice in this part of the world. I mentally noted all of this and went on with my life.

Two weeks later, a group of cowboy evangelists, known as “Cowboys With A Mission” asked me to do a debriefing weekend with them at a ranch north of our town in Montana. Their team of about 20 people had just returned from spending several months overseas and they would soon be returning home. During their time away, they had done preaching and rodeo demonstrations on another continent. When I agreed to speak, I had no idea where they had been.

On the Friday night, I did my first debriefing talk. The second I began to teach, I felt a spiritual storm start. I am sometimes aware when things change in the spirit realm, but this was too obvious to miss. Both my wife and I knew we were fighting something at a deep spiritual level. The students literally looked and sounded like they were dying. I am not exaggerating. Even their pallor was deathly. No one asked any questions and their vacant stares were as creepy as a horror movie. What had I stepped into?

After the evening was over, I asked to meet with the five leaders of the team. I told them about my spiritual discernment and they were not surprised. That’s when they casually told me where they had been living the previous few months. It was that exact place mentioned in the Twilight Labyrinth. When I heard this, I asked a simple question: “Does it feel like someone has sucked all the joy out of you?” I had no idea the response would be that dramatic.

The wife of the key leader began sobbing. Within 30 seconds, all the other leaders were crying as well. Something had beat up these people. I quickly explained what George Otis had written in his book about a joy-robbing spirit, and asked if I could employ the power and name of Jesus to help them. They agreed between tears. Very simply, I took authority over any spirit which had been sent on assignment to bother them. Instantly, they all settled down. Then Kathy and I laid hands on them one by one and asked God to fill them again with joy. I won’t go into great detail what happened next. But we spent two hours seeing the fruit of joy flowing into them and out of them as well. It reminded me of what can happen when a lot of people get into a keg of beer. Only in this case, no one lost their mind or said regrettable things.

The next morning, I invited the leaders to come and together we did the same thing for all the students. We commanded the joy-robbing spirit–I have no idea if it had a name or if that is what it is, but it is certainly what it did to them–to leave them all alone. That entity, that unclean spirit, left immediately. The name of Jesus Christ is more powerful than any spirit on this planet and they must obey Him.

Then the leaders laid hands upon the students and they were all filled again with joy. For the rest of the weekend, we mixed in simple teaching on demonic realities with more mundane instructions on how to get re-integrated into their home life and culture. I have kept up on the Internet with several of those students and they continue to tell me about the dramatic change that weekend wrought in their lives. One of the men is now the CEO of a company and he told me God is using him to pray protection over several branch offices. He was never a believer in spirits, but he now believes they exist after what he experienced.

Last Friday, as George spoke, I was reminded of the Cowboys weekend and thought to myself, “I wonder, with all the shamanistic practices people are now toying with in our nation, if people really know what they’re fooling around with?”

My answer is “probably not”. I have talked with people recently who have cursed family members and they have no idea there are opportunistic spirits who love to take people seriously when they curse others. A curse is simple. If you utter a desire or wish that someone else be harmed or attacked, that wish becomes a spiritual curse. Let everyone reading this be aware that these things work. But they often backfire and create much more damage than people realize.

Bless you George Otis for your faithful speaking and writing. It has helped so many more than you will ever know.

Making Sense of Glennon Doyle Melton and Elizabeth Gilbert

melton-and-gilbertI prefer to be late to an opinion party. Rather than reacting when something newsworthy happens, I savor ideas and questions for a long time. When I get to writing, most ideas have already been launched by other writers and perhaps forgotten. Sometimes out of the ashes of burned ideas come deeper  questions. Hopefully this article contains a few of them. I’m sure it doesn’t contain any answers.

Earlier this year, Elizabeth Gilbert, bestselling author of “Eat, Pray, Love”, announced she was divorcing her husband because she was in love with a woman. Her husband is the man who appears at the end of “Eat, Pray, Love” and then is featured in the next memoir, “Committed: A Love Story.” She realized she loved her long-time best friend Rayya Elias, an artist and recovering cancer patient.

A month later, renowned Christian blogger Glennon Doyle Melton (known affectionately to her readers as “G”) announced she was divorcing her husband. G’s announcement came just days before she was about to release her long-anticipated book “Love Warrior” which chronicles the four-year struggle she and her family went through to recover from her husband’s infidelity. G’s life has always been lived on the outside as she used her blog Momastery to show the world how God helped her recover from substance abuse and many other problems.

Though the timing of her announcement was inconvenient, coming days before she took her first victory lap for the publishing of this book about her marriage success, she realized she needed to tell the world about her divorce online.  She informed the world she had come to grips with not wanting to be married to her husband any longer.

They now live just a few houses down from each other. They make meals together and share the parenting duties. Other than a change of location, many things have stayed the same.
Except something has changed. A couple of weeks ago, G announced she is dating soccer star Abby Wombach and has fallen in love. She announced it on Facebook and then answered a few questions. Here is one of the quotes from that announcement:

Remember in Love Warrior how hard I struggled to understand what being in love meant?
I get it now.
I get it.
I am in love.
And I’m really, deeply happy.

Here are two seemingly straight women who have opted for a love relationship with another woman. Both of them are authors who have focused on their marriage relationships both in writing and speaking.
Both of them refused to identify if they are lesbian or bisexual, and have said the distinction is unimportant.

But is it? Oh, certainly they have a right to believe it is unimportant, and for them it is. They have the right to love whom they will. They also have the right not to over-analyze it. But I have the right to ask some questions about this trend. It is a trend for seemingly straight women to come out, admitting to being in love with a woman.

This is a trend you seldom see with men. Yes, there have been men who adopted women as “beards” (i.e. taking a straight partner so you appear straight yourself) in the days when homosexuality in the public eye was not contemplated or accepted.

But look at the roster of women who have been straight and then became bisexual: Katy Perry, Angelina Jolie, Drew Barrymore, Megan Fox, Anna Paquin, Megan Mulally, Evan Rachel Wood and many more. Most male celebrities who are bisexual have never been married, but almost all of these women have. So why are women seemingly more inclined to identify as bisexual than men?

There are many qualities which constitute some level of attraction in a woman’s sexual identity.  Respect, compassion, acceptance, safety, security, humor, kindness, and showing attention are all factors which help women feel more attraction. Some women endure marriages where these things are not given or shown. Is it possible some women eventually see beyond natural sexual barriers and desire some of these other qualities even if it is a woman who brings them?

On a physical level, women appreciate the beauty seen in other women. Observe when a woman posts a cute selfie on social media. All her female friends gush over it. I cannot imagine men doing that with another man. Is it possible women can be attracted to other women on a non-sexual level, and that given the right conditions this will translate to passion?

I wonder also how many women go through seasons of bisexuality after having years of difficult marriage relationships? There are no studies done to identify these, but several of my counseling clients who practice bisexuality certainly endured difficult marriages?

And how much do examples like Melton and Gilbert affect women who may be considering bisexuality?

These are trends to note and ponder. I am sure some of you will see spiritual forces at work here as well, and perhaps that is correct. Perhaps the spirit of this age is a “try new kinds of love out” type of spirit. I don’t know. Time will tell, but I wanted to pose a few questions. I’m not really looking for the definitive answer to all of this.

One final question. Gilbert and Melton have received a mostly warm reception to their announcements. I wonder if that would still be the case if they had left their husbands for men?

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