by Donald Mehl
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Several years ago my wife, Carol, and I were driving on a road trip through a half dozen states south of Minnesota. Along the way, we often stopped at the roadside rest areas to stretch our legs and purchase a cold soft drink.
However, we had an interesting experience during one of those stops. I do not recall which state we were traveling at the time, but it was very likely either in Nebraska, Kansas, or Missouri. Although the specific location is not important, the memory of what we saw there was enough to give us nightmares.
As I was wandering around, I noticed a barbed wire fence separating the grounds of the rest area from a large field of native prairie grasses, dirt, rocks, and gravel. The un-kept area looked as though it had not been used for decades, or even longer. Then, I saw a sign nailed to one of the fence posts that read, “WARNING...SNAKE INFESTED AREA...KEEP OUT!”
Whoa! That sign quickly caught my attention. There were venomous snakes just beyond the fence that was only a few feet away! I thought, “Okay...I will not be going in there. But, why would the snakes not crawl under the fence to where I am standing...and beyond? How would they know to stay on their own side of the fence? Maybe they are all over the place...even in the parking lot!”
I turned around and slowly tip-toed through the lawn toward the direction of the car...carefully looking for any unusual movement under every blade of grass. Oh...did I mention that I was not particularly fond of snakes? Carol had already made fast tracks to the safety of the car, and had the door shut and windows rolled up tight.
Thankfully, we did not see any snakes, but they were probably nearby. We were very happy to be back on the road again.
That true story is a reminder that snakes of a different kind are poised and ready to strike our personal lives. Most of the time we do not even see them, but they are certainly there. They are quiet, subtle, and can move quickly to poison the heart and mind of folks who are unaware of the danger.
The snakes that invade our lives often appear as something good, but are evil. They will often masquerade as being fun and colorful, but will eventually bring heartache and pain. Deceit is one of their deadly trademarks, and can cause the most unsuspecting person to fall to temptation.
Churches are certainly not immune to an invasion of snakes, either. In fact, churches are prime targets for them. Every day we see more and more churches becoming mired down in pits of apostasy...the result of snakes being allowed to cross over the church’s threshold. Many of the snakes that enter there are false teachers promoting a watered-down gospel message, and the abandonment of sound Biblical principles.
Of course, the snakes to which I am referring are the schemes devised by the devil himself...who made his grand entrance disguised as a serpent to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. As explained in 1st Peter 5:8, "...your adversary the devil walks about...seeking whom he may devour.”
Victory over the snakes of this world can be achieved, but only if we have the strength and mighty power of the Lord God residing within us.
Ephesians 6:10-12 NKJV
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
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This is the writing I like best: a memorable true-life parable to illustrate a spiritual application. Good work, Don!