pray for Sam

I hope you are still praying for Sam. I am.

He is getting help, and he seems better. But I’m sure he still need help–and prayer.

There were no drugs in his system. And they even tested for synthetic drugs.

Just a few days after the event at my house, Same sent me an apology. Here it is:

“Dear Mr. Hemphill,

First of all, I want to express how deeply sorry I am over the events which occurred at your home on Friday. I honestly do not remember most of what happened or why it happened. I know it sounds strange but I truly believe that some invisible force overpowered me to the point that I had zero ability to resist the power which led to major damage to your beautiful home.

The last few days have been extremely confusing and scary for me as I am sure they have been for you but I humbly ask for your forgiveness in this matter. I totally understand if you wish to never see me or speak to me again because I would feel that way if the roles were reversed. However, I truly want to continue being mentored by you. You helped ignite a passion for Christ inside my soul and for that I am eternally grateful. You, Steve, are the godliest man I have ever known and everyone who comes in contact with you feels the same way. I hope we can put this behind us and if there is anything you ever need from me, I am at your service. I can never repay or atone for the sins I committed against you last week.

In closing, please accept my apology and please don’t forsake me as your pupil in Christ. That is too difficult for me to bear because I truly love you as a brother in Christ.

Humbly your friend,

Sam”

I forgave him. And have been at Bible studies with him since that time. I have hugged him. And I have prayed for him.

But don’t think for a minute that this is not a real war; that Satan and his angels are real; and that they aren’t after you and me.

It’s probably not best for me to be too close to him, since he has a tendency to think too highly of me. I’m just a servant of Jesus who is trying to act like Jesus and bring others to Jesus.

One of my favorite quotes from Charles Spurgeon is a little know one: “If you are a Christian, you are either a missionary or an impostor.”

How about you? I HOPE you are a missionary. And I hope you are helping fund the mission. One day at a time.

Steve Hemphill, author / inspirational speaker
“My Search for the Real Heaven”
(Also Available In Spanish)
“My Search for the Real Heaven Workbook”
“My Search for Prayers Satan Hates”
“What Are The Stakes?”

Screen Shot 2016-05-11 at 8.53.15 AM

I have been putting off writing this story. I had lots of other stories to share–exciting successes of folks all over the country who have shared their fears and problems with me and applied my biblical concepts in their lives. It’s really fun to feel like you are truly helping people.

This is different. Personal. Sobering. Please bear with me as I do my best to share this. I see it as a wake up call for me–and for you.

Sam (not his real name) grew up in a good Christian home with love and family. He had a successful father, a loving mother, and a sister. They went to church and did good things in their home town. The perfect American childhood, wanting for nothing, enjoying the love of family, and being actively involved in community.

Like most kids, Sam questioned some of the concepts his Pastor taught and recognized the hypocrites sitting near them in church. But he went to a good, Christian college and focused on his major–and the parties on campus. All this to say that he was a very typical millennial.

More and more, Sam became disjointed from church life. And more and more he saw discrepancies between the “Christian” lifestyle and the double-standard that seem to constantly rear it’s ugly head. One friend told him she was in her church choir and attended church services three times a week.

“So you are a Christian?” Sam asked her.

“No,” was the girl’s response. “I just go to church and sing in the choir.”

Sam was more confused than ever.

Then one of his favorite fishing buddies told him on one of their regular bass runs, “I’m gay.” This buddy of Sam’s was a very active Christian in his denomination.

Sam’s confusion escalated. “I’m not a Bible scholar,” he began, “but that’s just not right.”

These conversations–and others like them–caused Sam to think all Christians are a strange mixture of weirdness and confusion; laking focus, purpose, or even the ability to be in touch with the real world today.

This was where Sam was in his life when we met and began to study the Bible together. The first session was over four hours long. He felt so encouraged and changed. But he was fighting a past and a long list of connections to sin–including porn and other things. We must always remember that those things give Satan a right to be in your life.

We had studied together and texted back and forth for weeks. He had been to my home for a Bible study more than once. But this time he snapped.

His anger erupted, and he came at me, wrapping his arms around me in a tight squeeze. I have never felt that kind up strength up close. Although he was about my size (I’m 5′ 9″), he felt superhuman. As he wrapped his arms around me, I said out loud, “Get back in the Name of Jesus; leave me alone by the blood of Jesus.”

He let me go and went to the kitchen sink. He turned on the water and started throwing handfuls at me. But then he began to grab pots and pans and kitchen utensils, hurling them right at me–and I was only 10 feet away. Nothing at all ever hit me. Things flew by me on both sides, but I didn’t get a scratch. I picked up my cell phone and walked outside, dialing 911 for the first time in my life. As I talked to the 911 operator, I heard crash after crash inside my home. He flipped a baby grand piano by himself–it has taken about seven of us to set it up. He threw my furniture through large windows along the back of my home, he smashed our furniture. Glass was broken into such small pieces that it was a fine white powdery dust on the mantle and in the fabric of the carpet and couches.

Words can’t describe the scene when he was done. It was like living a nightmare. Family photos smashed and torn, keepsakes and nicknacks in pieces around the room. Memories seems to lie there among the ruins. But I was safe and “stuff” can be replaced. My worry was Sam. He needed prayers and help.

I looked at the timer on the phone call to 911 later. He did all that destruction in less than five minutes.

One of the police officers saw the mess and asked, “He did all this?”

“Yes.”

“What were you doing?”

“We were having a Bible study.”

Lord, please bless Sam with what he needs most of all. Help his family through the difficult task of helping Sam get better. Give them the professional help they need. And give Sam a heart willing to do what’s necessary to change and become more like Jesus. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Please pray for Sam. And please pray for me. In the war against Satan, ALL Christians are participants. Some are active; some are dormant. Everyone is supposed to be a missionary, sharing Jesus with those we meet. C.S. Lewis once said, “Every Christian is a missionary or an impostor.” Are you a missionary or an impostor?

Steve Hemphill, author / inspirational speaker
“My Search for the Real Heaven”
(Also Available In Spanish)
“My Search for the Real Heaven Workbook”
“My Search for Prayers Satan Hates”
“What Are The Stakes?”

Covenant Crossing

What Might Be – Being In Covenant With God

“Welcome, Jamie. Are you ready for your training today?” 

“Yes, absolutely! I am amazed at how my new understanding of Scripture is making all of history come to life in new and wonderful ways. And I am overwhelmed at how this knowledge enhances my real life here with all of you and the King.” 

“You have only just begun, but I admit that I am pleased at your progress and at your interest in learning. The King blesses you image-bearers in a special way with his nature, his creativity, his power, and his love, and we in the host never tire of witnessing the excitement in your face or the thrill in your voice. We were created to witness and serve, both the King and the saved, but you were created in his likeness. 

“Today’s lesson concerns prophecy.” 

“Prophecy? Okay, but why should I be concerned about that now? I never really studied much in that area on earth. It never really seemed relevant. It seemed useless, a waste of time, almost fictional, or at the very least, so confusing that it wasn’t really valuable.” 
“Yes, we watched how you focused on many other areas of Scripture. And you weren’t the only one. Few Christians, less than 5 percent in fact, realize the tremendous value that the King places on this vital subject. 

“Prophecy is extremely important in the opinion of the King. In fact, the Bible is almost forty percent prophetic in nature, and few notice that they are literally discounting or minimizing this all-important topic by taking the attitude you just described. Only the King knows the future, and prophecy is his method of validating the truth of the Bible. By discounting prophecy, you were unknowingly causing a significant part of the Scripture to be devalued. We have watched this cause him sadness many times over the centuries. 

“As Revelation 19 states, the essence of prophecy is witnessing for Jesus Christ as Messiah and Savior and for convincing the world of his true identity. Although you were completely unaware of its power, prophecy is actually the reason for the conversion of many souls. God knows the future in detail and he uses all things to reveal himself. Part of that revelation is how we join the kingdom and walk in his power. This reality brought many people to faith, the cause of what has mushroomed into an uncountable multitude of people who will live forever in this world, the real world. ” 

“I preached baptism! I believe in the vital importance of it and was disappointed that many good, religious people I knew minimized the importance of it.” 

“Yes, Jamie, I know. And baptism is important, even necessary, but you never truly understood why.”

“What do you mean?” 

“In order to help you understand why it was included, you need to have a more complete understanding of how the Father always chose to work in a covenant relationship. It was his way, his law, his method of forming alliance, friendship, and relationship. 

“When God told Abraham about all the blessings he would receive through his descendants, Abraham had no descendants. So he turned to God and asked him how he could know that God would do all he said he would. The Father simply instructed him to go get a heifer. 

“The ancient ritual of the covenant had a series of steps that were required. They were non-negotiable, known to all, and specific. The details were very similar to, but much more binding, than your understanding of contracts from your post-flood time period. Pay close attention as I explain the steps involved and as I review the significance of each requirement. 

“First, there was an exchange of robes. The outer robe was seen as part of a man’s identity. They would exchange robes to signify a confusion of identity. When men exchanged their robes and others saw them coming from afar, they would be confused about who was coming, because they first recognized the person by their unique outer garment. The New Testament equivalent of this act was similar, yet unique. Notice this passage from the New Covenant in Galatians: 

“You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” Galatians 3:26-29 (NIV)

“Galatians teaches that baptism was the covenant act of putting on Christ, or clothing yourselves with Christ. Faith is the prerequisite that leads to baptism into Christ. Then they were to act like Christ would act in everything they did. If a doctor became a Christian, he was to act as Christ would act if he were a doctor. If a teacher, they were to show the world how Christ would act if he were a teacher. If a lawyer, a merchant, a magistrate, or any other professional became a Christian, they were to bring the fragrance of Christ to every situation, every circumstance, every difficulty. The world is always watching to see how Christians react to daily life. And the enemy is quick to point out the discrepancies when they occur. Your influence is more far reaching than any of you realize. And when your actions misrepresent the King, the clothing you are wearing—your identity as a follower of Christ—reflects poorly the King’s intentions, disappointing him greatly. But when your responses are appropriate, this confusion of identity by the exchanging of your robes brings glory to the kingdom and joy to the King. As Galatians teaches, baptism is the identifying mark required for this identity exchange. 

“The second requirement to being in covenant was the exchange of belts. Weapons were attached to the belt, so the belt itself was a symbol of strength. God pledged to provide his power and strength to overcome:

“Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.” Ephesians 6:10 (NLT)

“He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)

“And, again, notice that baptism is connected to the power of being “in covenant” and having access to the power of God, the strength of wearing his belt: 

“You were placed in the tomb with Christ through baptism. In baptism you were also brought back to life with Christ through faith in the power of God, who brought him back to life.” Colossians 2:12 (God’s Word Translation)

“We died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.” Romans 6:4 (NLT)

“The third step to being in covenant with God was the exchange of weapons. The exchange of weapons symbolized the exchang of enemies. His enemy became our enemy, and our enemy became his. In the covenant relationship, covenant partners came to the aid of each other in the event of an attack. Who was God’s enemy? Satan. Who was mankind’s enemy? After the sin in the garden of God, it was death. So now mankind must defeat Satan, and God must defeat death. Notice these passages from the Guidebook: 

“Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8 (NIV)

“Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6:12 (NIV)

“God sent Jesus down to defeat our enemy, death. Notice the Christians’ eventual victory over death is the resurrection: 

“Since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.” 1 Corinthians 15:21-22 (NIV)

“When the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed. For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies. Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled: “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 15:52-57 (NLT)

“And notice that baptism is the first step in our resurrection:

“‘Have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death? For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives. Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised to life as he was.’” (Romans 6:3-5, NLT).

“The fourth step required to be “in covenant” with God was a sacrifice. The heifer died, and its blood was sacrificed as a part of the covenant. God has always required blood to cover sin and re-establish relationship. In Abraham’s case, it was animal blood, but in the Christian’s case, it’s the blood of the Savior on the cross. Blood is needed to cover sin and be ‘in covenant.’ Keep in mind that Jesus was sinless, but still needed baptism. His cousin, John, performed the act, though reluctantly. Then the King freely gave His blood, as the Holy Spirit testifies:

“‘This is the one who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ. He did not come by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth’”  (1 John 5:6, NIV).

“So in order to be in covenant, God required a sacrifice and submission to water baptism. Since Jesus himself performed the covenant act of baptism before beginning his ministry, so should we. As water and blood flowed from the side of the Savior, water and blood makes us clean in God’s sight and gives us the right to enter into his presence with a heart of faith:

“‘Let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water.’” (Hebrews 10:22, NLT).

“The fifth step needed for a covenant relationship was called the walk of death. After the heifer was cut into two halves, the covenant partners had to walk through the blood together. Baptism is the New Covenant walk of death:

“‘God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him’”  (1 Peter 3:20-22, NIV).

“The same floodwaters that purged the evil saved the good. Baptism is a copy of this unearthly event. It takes faith to be baptized, but one without the other is incomplete, as a covenant without the walk of death is incomplete. Man cannot live underwater, so the King chose to use this truth, this covenant act, done in faith, to seal our covenant relationship with him. It was always meant to be a symbolic act of relationship, not a point of contention. But, as you are well aware, Satan has nurtured and encouraged much hotheaded turmoil over this simple covenant act of submission. 

“God has always chosen to reveal his purpose to those with childlike faith and hide the same truths from the spiritually arrogant. For those willing to accept it, Jesus placed the final nail in the coffin of the idea that baptism was irrelevant when he told Nicodemus that no one could enter heaven without being born of water and the Spirit. God sees this spiritual change in the heart of faith, and the water requirement is fulfilled in believer’s baptism. 

“The sixth covenant step was the mark on the body. This was usually done on the wrist. In some cultures today, some call themselves blood brothers after having gone through this ritual. In Africa and South America, some tribes added the practice of putting a dark substance to dye the cut into a permanent mark. The dye caused a permanent stain in the exact shape of the cut. This could be easily seen when they greeted each other with a wave. The wave was meant to reveal that they were in a covenant relationship and communicate the reality that if the other man chose to attack the man waving, he would also have to deal with those in covenant with him. Covenant partners shared enemies and were required to defend each other. 

“In Abraham’s case, the bodily mark that signified the covenant was the mark of circumcision. Without this covenant mark, Abraham would not have been in covenant with God. When Moses failed to circumcise his sons, God was so angry that he started to kill him, so his wife quickly performed circumcision on the boys, quelling God’s anger. And in the case of the New Covenant, as Romans explains, a pure heart is seen as a circumcised heart in God’s sight:

“‘True circumcision is not merely obeying the letter of the law; rather, it is a change of heart produced by God’s Spirit. And a person with a changed heart seeks praise from God, not from people’”  (Romans 2:29, NLT).

And remember, God took a mark on his own wrists by dying on a cross on a hill called Calvary. 

“The seventh covenant step was a pronouncement of blessings and curses. The tradition was for the covenant partners to face each other and pronounce a blessing on the partner if they kept the covenant and a curse on them if they did not. They would be blessed as they came out, as they went in, as they rose up each day, and as they lay down each night. Their wives would be blessed with children, the work of their hands would be blessed, and all their oxen, donkeys, crops, and fields would also be blessed with abundance. In short, if they kept the covenant, their whole life would be blessed. 

“But woe to the man who broke the covenant in any way. If he did not come to the aid of his covenant partner or violated the pact in any manner, a curse would be on him. He would be cursed as he came out, as he went in, as he rose up, and as he lay down. His wife would be cursed, her womb would be cursed, his work would be cursed, and all his possessions would be cursed. It was a fearful thing to break the covenant, for then all the covenant blessings would be gone, and all hope would be lost for that man’s future. 
“The New Covenant equivalent is found in several places: 

“Why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we wear?” For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:28-33 (NIV)

“And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19 (NLT)

“And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering.” Romans 8:17 (NLT)

“But Christ has rescued us from the curse pronounced by the law. When he was hung on the cross, he took upon himself the curse for our wrongdoing. For it is written in the Scriptures, “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.” Through Christ Jesus, God has blessed the Gentiles with the same blessing he promised to Abraham, so that we who are believers might receive the promised Holy Spirit through faith.” Galatians 3:13-14 (NLT)

“The eighth step was the covenant meal. In this part of the ritual, the covenant partners sat at a table with witnesses present and shared the meal, but the most significant part was when the covenant partners fed each other the first few bites. This ritual continued in many Western-culture weddings in your time, Jamie. Your marriage tradition had the bride and groom feed each other the first bite of wedding cake after the marriage covenant vows were taken. But in the ancient culture of Abraham, certain words were repeated by each covenant partner during this process. As they fed their new partner those first few morsels, they would say, ‘As you take this sustenance into your body, so you are taking in our covenant to be a permanent part of your nature from now until the day you perish.’ 

“Jamie, since you were from a church family who practiced the weekly observance of the Lord’s Supper, you will easily relate to and appreciate that the Supper of the Lord is the New Covenant equivalent:

“‘As they were eating, Jesus took some bread and blessed it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “Take this and eat it, for this is my body.” And he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. He gave it to them and said, “Each of you drink from it, for this is my blood, which confirms the covenant between God and his people. It is poured out as a sacrifice to forgive the sins of many. Mark my words—I will not drink wine again until the day I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom” (Matthew 26:26-29, NLT).

“Although most earthlings overlooked the significance of this ritual and its connection to God by way of a covenant relationship, the host of heaven was well aware of it, and his last phrase didn’t go unnoticed in our realm. 

“After his resurrection and ascension, he took up his rightful position at the right hand of the Father on high. He is to remain there until the time of the final restoration of all things, according to Acts 3. His return to earth at the second coming will conquer death and assure that God’s will, will be done on earth as it is now done in heaven. Then he will drink again with the disciples and all of his resurrected followers. What a feast that will be!” 

“Wait, I’m confused. I taught my sons to change the words of that prayer from ‘Thy kingdom come’ to ‘thy kingdom has come.’” 

“Yes, Jamie, you did. Those of us involved in assuring your safety noticed that as we were standing watch over you. But your teachers did not understand completely, and their limited understanding kept you from making the best choice on this issue. You believed that the church was the complete fulfillment of that prayer. You weren’t completely incorrect, but the church was only a flicker, only the beginning of the explosion of reality that the kingdom will bring with it. It was a charcoal sketch of the final masterpiece, a pen-and-ink of the full-color print. The church was the beginning, the mechanism used by the King to begin to re-conquer the domain stolen by Satan. Let me back up and explain the scope of the plan the King is in the process of executing. 

“As you have taught from Ephesians 6 about the principalities and powers of the unseen world, we in the host have lived and breathed this reality. At creation, Satan, then called Lucifer, was part of the host. This was before he led the rebellion against the Father. A member of the host was stationed as protector over every region of the earth. Then when the rebellion exploded in our realm and one third of the host followed Lucifer’s twisted and prideful scheme, some of these rebels were in charge of regions on the planet. Their desire to rule and be worshiped led to blood sacrifice, ritualistic devotion, and animistic blasphemy that the faithful host could not believe. Demons, or fallen angels, were present at the worship of every idol, accepting every blood sacrifice, reveling in and accepting the worship of the deceived humans. In fact, we didn’t understand why the King would tolerate it rather than obliterate their kind from existence. But the King used their rebellion, used sin itself to reveal the true-hearted, those destined for salvation. 

“Satan thought he had won a great victory, but the King was planning all along to use deception against the chief deceiver and offer all mankind a choice: good or evil. We finally realized that the choice was a necessary part of the process that separates the good from evil. Would you want a wife who had no choice but to marry you, or would you rather have a wife who chose you when she could have chosen anyone? True love sets the object of that love free, free to stay or to go. Otherwise, love is not present. It took us decades, centuries to finally understand it. But once we did, it all made sense. It was also true of our own race, the host. God didn’t make us a robotic mass of unthinking puppets. He gave us a free will and a chance to choose. Most of us chose faithfulness to the King, but some chose Satan’s way of rebellion. The King wanted us all to stay, but it was up to each individual. When Satan rebelled, each member of the host had to choose. Would they stay with the King or follow the silver-tongued leader of the rebellion? 

“Again, Satan thought he was winning ground, but in this he was also deceived. Those of us in the host only understood bits and pieces of the King’s overall plan at first, much like your thinking that the church was the ultimate fulfillment of the kingdom on earth. Then we started to put the pieces together and get the big picture. 

“God’s plans included letting Satan’s rebellion occur, unsuppressed. This gave all mankind the chance to make a choice and reveal his position in relation to the King. Would they follow Satan, or would they stand with the faithful host and the Triune King? God was content to let Lucifer’s deception deepen and allow much time to pass before the great restoration would begin. Acts 3 reveals that Jesus was to remain in heaven until the time for the final restoration of all things, and that is what he will do. He will restore all things. Complete restoration, worldwide perfection, it will be beautiful beyond description. Unless you have seen the original, perfect earth with your own eyes as we have, it is impossible to imagine. Eden. 

“It is just as easy, perhaps easier, for the King to recreate what he once created, and that’s exactly what he plans to do. He wants to walk with you, talk with you, and have continual, ongoing daily interaction. The King is all about relationship. And this goes far beyond what you know even now. As the Triune King has three unique parts, you are created in his image. You have three parts, too. You are body, soul, and spirit—uniquely so. Nothing else in all the rest of creation is so created. Although you are in a temporary body wearing temporary garments, your new body will integrate your original DNA at the great resurrection. Otherwise, there would be no need for the graves to open and the sea to give up their dead. And your new garments will adorn that body with perfection. You will wear your good deeds, your rewards for willingly choosing to serve the King of kings when you had a choice. You will reign with him on new earth for eternity. But that’s a lesson for another day. Let me finish the covenant requirements for now. We still lack two steps. 

“The ninth step required the exchange of names. I believe you remember this step, don’t you, Jamie?” 

“Yes. Abram became Abraham. And Sarai became Sarah.” 

“Correct, but do you know why?” 

“I didn’t know there had to be a reason.” 

“With the King, there is a reason for everything. Let me explain how it worked by giving you an example from your post-flood world that will enable you to understand. 

“You normally signed your name ‘Jamie Hemphill.’ If you made a covenant with someone named ‘Bill Smith,’ your new name would be ‘Jamie Smith Hemphill,’ and his new name would be ‘Bill Hemphill Smith.’ And this would be permanent. A covenant relationship cannot be rescinded. This is what God did for Abram. 

“God’s name in the Hebrew is Yahweh. So he took the ‘ah’ from his own name and inserted it into Abram’s and Sarai’s. Now Abram was Abraham, and Sarai was Sarah. Then God took on Abraham’s name by being called from then on in Scripture, ‘The God of Abraham.’ 
“The New Covenant equivalent is quite simple in this case. When you gained enough faith to repent of your sins, confess Jesus as your Lord, and submit to baptism, you were called Christian. ‘The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch’ (Acts 11:26, NIV).

“But we in the host were surprised again when the Word—who became flesh to dwell on earth—used a special name for himself that also signified the covenant relationship: When he could have claimed relation to the deity he was by calling himself the Son of God, Jesus—in complete submission to covenant requirements—called himself the Son of Man. ‘As Jonah was in the belly of the great fish for three days and three nights, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights.’ (Matthew 12:40, NLT).

“Now we’re ready for the final, and perhaps the most monumental step in the covenant relationship, the exchange of the oldest male child. In all ancient covenants, although foreign to your way of thinking, the covenant partners exchanged oldest male sons. Your son would go to live with your covenant partner as his son, and his son will become yours. Permanently. What a great sacrifice of commitment to the covenant it was to give up your first-born son for your covenant partner. In like manner, God asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, the son of promise, and then offered his own Son, Jesus, to die on the cross. 

“The culmination was extravagant, but necessary, according to the King. Although we were allowed to stay the hand of Abraham as he wielded the knife to kill his son Isaac, we learned it was only because God knew that in his heart, Abraham had already killed the boy. Our confusion turned to joy. 

“But when Jesus carried the cross to Golgotha, we were all close by, at the ready, prepared to stay the hands of the Roman soldiers in like manner, but we were prevented. Only then did we realize that the Son would actually be required to give up his physical life, if only temporarily. Only then did we understand the full impact of the prophecies. They were all completely literal. They were there to testify to the world for all the centuries to come that the King loves his people and that he means every word he says. 

“Understanding flooded us, and excitement followed. If these predictions were so precise as to fulfill every one literally for the first coming, the same would be true for the second. Complete, planet-wide restoration for all creation was inevitable. Not only would mankind be resurrected and transformed into an eternal being, earth would be restored to its original beauty before finally being replaced with the permanent new earth. 

“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him.” John 3:16-18 (The Message)

“And then he told them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone. Anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved. But anyone who refuses to believe will be condemned.'” Mark 16:15-16 (NLT)

“So now I hope you can see, Jamie, that baptism is an integral part of covenant relationship that must not be left out. It is no more important or less important than any other step in the covenant. In ancient covenants, all these steps were required, but in the New Covenant Jesus reduced the requirements to only two: faith and baptism. But just as leaving out any step in the ancient covenant was unacceptable, leaving out either of the two steps in the New Covenant is just as deadly. In fact, as the King told Nicodemus, in order to enter the kingdom of heaven, all must be born of water and the spirit. They need a heart change, but that’s not all. The heart change produces the faith required to obey the command and example of water baptism. Although there are many Scriptures that say you must believe and then you will be saved, these Scriptures all assume that this belief will result in obedient submission to water baptism.

Baptism is irrelevant and pointless without faith, but faith is incomplete without baptism.” 

“I see. Now I think I understand!”

“My Search for the Real Heaven,” by Steve Hemphill – Pages 69 – 85

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“A Gentile woman who lived there came to him, pleading, ‘Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! For my daughter is possessed by a demon that torments her severely.’” Matthew 15:22 NLT

I was recently invited to speak at a men’s conference designed to encourage those dedicated to serving in church leadership. There were about two hundred in attendance from two states and about fifty churches. It was a great honor. I was one of only two speakers on the program of this all-day event. I spent the first session sharing the exciting things I found in the Bible about heaven, which led to my first book, “My Search for the Real Heaven,” and the second on thoughts from my newest release, “ My Search for Prayers Satan Hates.”

In all my travels I have never charged anyone a speaking fee. Don’t get me wrong—I don’t turn down money. I have bills like everyone else. But I have never charged, and I never know when I accept an invitation to come speak whether they are going to pay me or not, or even whether they will help with expenses. I just made the decision long ago to simply trust that God will take care of that stuff. I just ask if I can set up a table with my resource materials in the back and make them available to anyone interested. It always seems to work out. It’s all about faith, right?

It was no different at this event. I had a small table set up in the foyer, and went there to greet folks after I was finished. I love people, and was busy meeting many of them in the lobby when a tall, shy-acting man slipped up quietly and stood patiently nearby. When I had a short break he slipped up and introduced himself, asking to speak privately when the event was over. I readily agreed, and instructed him to hang around so we could be alone for a visit. He did.

“I need to tell you about my daughter,” he began. “We have three children that we home school, and she is the oldest. She is ten years old now, but she was only seven when her personality suddenly changed—for the worse. She started saying things that were mean, ugly, even sinister. She might say to her brother, ‘I’m going to take a knife and cut you,’ and to her sister, ‘I’m going to burn you.’ She even said, “I’m going to kill you.” We were all shocked since she had never talked like that. And where were these evil ideas coming from? We home school!”

“We sat her down and began to question her,” he continued. “It took time, patience, and focused questioning, but she finally said something about those words coming from ‘Legba.’ Who is ‘Legba,’ we asked, and she finally explained that Legba was the one who came and sat at the foot of her bed every night, watching her while she slept. Obviously, we were shocked and terrified to hear this. It was demonic. We didn’t know who to tell—or much less—what to do. Would people think we were crazy?”

They were desperate. And they felt infinitely unqualified to remedy the situation. They finally decided to share the problem with their minister. He was very kind and understanding, and had just read my book on demons, prayer, and spiritual warfare, “My Search for Prayers Satan Hates.” So they laid hands on the girl and prayed about this whole situation.

“Things definitely got better,” he told me. That had been three years ago when the little girl was about seven. “But there still times we have been worried.”

“How are things now,” I asked. “OK,” he said, but there are still problems, and it seems to have been getting a little worse lately. I love your idea of staking out the property with tent stakes covered in Bible verses, but I don’t have any money to buy them.”

“Here,” I said handing him a set, “they are free to you. Let me know how it goes.”

He thanked me and we parted.

The next morning after I spoke in a Bible class and in their worship service I met his wife and the little girl. The girl came up while her mother and I were talking and rudely interrupted with some petty complaint. Her mother—in a rather irritated fashion—reminded her that she was the mom and that she was busy talking. The girl obeyed, but was obviously angry about something.

I thought a lot about this girl and Legba on my return home. Children are innocent. Children trust. And children are inquisitive. I wondered what the girl thought when she saw someone (or something) at the foot of her bed the first time. How do children usually respond? She might sit up and say, “What’s your name?” And she probably did. And how might the demons respond in an effort to gain her trust? “My name is Legba, what’s your name?”

I went on home Sunday afternoon, and went to bed early after such an eventful weekend. I was very tired.

But I awoke suddenly in the middle of the night and sat up in bed. I had been dreaming and realized that I needed to call the little girl’s father and get him to ask her three questions. I didn’t hear an audible voice, and I wasn’t at all afraid. I can’t explain it. I just knew I had to get him to do that.

The one other time this had happened in my life I had been praying about how to put my heaven book together, deciding on the chapter titles and the order the information should be presented in. I felt completely unqualified to organize and write a book, so I prayed for God to help me get things in the right order. One night at three in the morning I woke up. It was like I was listening to a recording of a long list of very specific things. I listened, it finished, and I started to doze off. It started over. I listened again, it finished again, and I started to doze again. When it began the third time, I realized I needed to get up and write it down. It was a list of the titles of the chapters and the order I needed to put them.

I realized in this case that I needed to call the man the next day and get him to ask his daughter three specific questions. But I was very sleepy and very tired from the weekend trip, so, although I had never done this before, I said, “Lord, I’m really tired. I promise I’ll do this tomorrow if you will just remind me, OK?” Looking back, I can’t believe I did that to the Lord of the universe, but I did. I talk to Him now like He’s my best friend. Then I lay back down in the bed and went to sleep.

The next morning when I awoke, I had no memory of the dream. I ate breakfast and went straight to the hospital because a friend was having surgery. I prayed with them and then sat in the waiting room with the family and friends waiting for the report from the doctor. I was there most of the morning, and my friend’s prognosis was excellent. (Prayer still works.)

When I finally sat down at my computer it was about noon. I had no sooner sat down before I remembered my dream and felt a sense of urgency to call the father and get him to ask the girl three questions. I reached for a blank piece of paper and said out loud, “What were the questions?”

I had just gotten my pen and paper ready and uttered those words and the three questions immediately came to me:

1. Did Legba touch her?
2. Did Legba give her anything?
3. Did Legba introduce her to anyone?

I got the father’s number from the minister at his church. It was a little after noon when I dialed their home phone number. He picked up on the first ring.

“I had a dream last night,” I quickly explained. “God gave me three very specific questions you need to ask your daughter. Please get a pen to write them down word for word.” He did, and said they would ask her immediately and call me right back.

Five minutes later my phone rang and it was the dad. “We asked her the questions just as you instructed,” he began. “Legba didn’t ever touch her or give her anything, but when we asked if he introduced to her anyone she said, ‘Yes. All his friends.’”

“That’s not good,” I said, “she’s talking about other demons.”

“That’s not all,” the father continued, “she also said that Legba invited her to go with him to ‘Funland.’”

“What’s ‘Funland,’” we asked.

“I don’t know,” the girl responded, “I never went. But I thought it was something like an amusement park.”

Then we asked her, “Honey, do you remember when the preacher came over and prayed with you about all this?”

“Yes,” she quickly said, “And after that prayer Legba couldn’t talk anymore. He still came and sat at the foot of my bed every night to watch me sleep, but he couldn’t speak.”

“Did he ever leave?,” the dad asked.

“Yes,” answered the girl. “One night I realized that since he couldn’t talk to me anymore he was going to start talking to my little sister in the other bed. That made me mad, so I sat up and said, ‘No. Leave my sister alone. You need to go now.’ And that’s when he finally left.”

Notice that the demon left when the little girl got angry and told him to go.

After hearing this additional information, I knew they needed to ask the girl one more question. “Write this down,” I told the father. “There’s one more question you need to ask her. Be sure to word it exactly as I relate it to you: Is there a magic word or secret way she can always go to Funland?”

“I’ll call you right back,” came the fatherly reply.

Five minutes later he called right back.

“We asked her exactly as you instructed: ‘Is there a magic word or secret way you can always go to Funland?’”

When we asked her this question she looked down at the floor for a very long time. We waited patiently, giving her space, but determined to get the answer. Finally she looked up and said with fear on her face, “Yes, Daddy, but I’m not allowed to tell you.”

Why would a 10-year-old girl tell her own parents she was “Not allowed” to tell them something. I realized immediately that the demon had threatened her in some specific way. He instructed her that it was a well-guarded secret and that if she revealed it he would do something harmful to her, her sister, or her family. It was the only thing that made sense.

Somewhere in this discussion the father let me know that the girl had become interested in being baptized.

“Good,” I said. “Tell her you can’t be baptized and hold one hand up out of the water. It’s all or nothing with God. If you don’t get this out of her now, it could haunt her for the rest of her life.”

At last report, their preacher had helped this family by meeting with the little girl and trying to get her to come clean so to speak. Whatever the demon had threatened was causing this girl to hide something from her own parents.

As a follow up note, I shared this story with a pastor I knew well. The next day he texted me the link to a web site dedicated to the worship of Legba. It stated that Legba was a demon in charge of “openings, doorways, communication, and tricks.” It also said he, “Makes things happen in all sorts of humorous, unexpected, impossible sorts of ways.” It informed of his “colors:” “white in Rada and red in Petro.” It invited you to decorate his altar with red and white candles. It went on to describe specific acts of worship to Legba that involved pennies and chicken sacrifices. Let me tell you, folks: evil is real. Very real. And evil is after our children.

Lord, I praise You as the giver of dreams and solver of problems and lover of little of children. Please deliver this girl and her family from evil. Help her family and support group have the right things to say at the right moment so this won’t haunt her the rest of her life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Bible-Based Thoughts Based On This Event:
Demons can invade a Christian’s own home.
Demons can sometimes target innocent children.
Demons can communicate with innocent children.
Demons can use threats to control innocent children.
Demons strategize, leaving a way allowing their return.
Innocent children can effectively command a demon to leave.
Demons can have their communication bound through prayer.

“What Are The Stakes?” by Steve Hemphill – Pages 127 – 136

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I was speaking to a non-denominational church in Oklahoma. I taught on spiritual warfare and the Spiritual Warfare Stakes.

During my lesson, I noticed an older woman (perhaps in her 70s) softly crying on the second row. There were tears running down her cheeks.

I expressed to the group that I was uncomfortable sharing these stories, since they didn’t jive well with my very conservative background. I’m the LAST guy they should be hearing miracle stories from.

After the lesson, this lady came straight up to me.

“Thank you for having the courage to share this,” she began. “This is real. The enemy is real. Over 40 years ago, when my son was only 11, he started having night terrors, bad dreams, or demonic dreams, whatever you want to call them. They went on for weeks. It was at the same time every night. The procedure was the exact same every single night. He would wake up at the exact same time on the clock screaming and crying out for me. I would jump up, run to his room, scoop him into my arms, and–though he was already 11 years old and his feet almost drug the floor, I would rock him and softly sing church music.”

This reminded me immediately of Saul’s harassment from evil spirits. When they would come on him, David would be called to come and sing praise songs–some of the psalms–until the evil spirits departed.

“When the evil spirit from God troubled Saul, David would take his harp and play. Then the evil spirit would leave him, and Saul would feel better.” 1 Samuel 16:23 NCV

“Once my son settled down and began to relax in my arms,” the woman continued, “I would take him back to his bed to tuck him in, and then return to my bed.”

“This went on for weeks, and he began to be afraid to go to sleep. So one night, after I had him settled him down and tucked in, instead of returning to my own bed, I went back to the rocker to pray.”

“Lord,” I began, “We can’t keep this up. Please tell me what to do. …”

“After saying these words,” she said, “I looked up from my rocker and saw a large, black demon with piercing red eyes sitting on our dining table staring right at me, and I immediately knew what to do. I went and got some oil, and I put it on every entrance to our home–every window and every door–praying as I went for the protection I knew we needed from God against the enemy and his forces.”

“My son never had another bad dream.”

Steve Hemphill, author / inspirational speaker
“My Search for the Real Heaven”
(Also Available In Spanish)
“My Search for the Real Heaven Workbook”
“My Search for Prayers Satan Hates”
“What Are The Stakes?” (God Markers On the Land)

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A friend of mine told a former witch about my Spiritual Warfare Stakes.

This woman had practiced witchcraft for many years. Her children were raised and reared during the time she was casting spells as a witch deeply involved in the occult–a demonic liaison. After the kids were grown and gone from home, now living their own confused and messed-up lives, she and her husband found Jesus Christ. They had walked away from that evil life and all it’s demonic practices. They had named Jesus as their Lord and Savior, been baptized, and were regularly and actively involved in a non-denominational church only about 45 minutes from my house.

This lady understood the importance of prayer, the Word of God, and protection from demons. She got the stakes and, working together, installed them deep in the ground on the four corners of her property with her husband’s help. Satan hates it when you leave his domain (darkness) and turn to God’s (light and truth). Little did she know that this would stir up evil against her.

The very night after placing the stakes around her home, as the clock stuck midnight, strange things began to happen. Angry noises and banging from the attic above their bed and on the roof caused her and her husband to awake in a start.

“I knew what it was,” she explained soberly, “I had been involved in the occult for many years. It was demonic. But that didn’t make it any less scary.”

She and her husband knew they were under attack, so their hit their knees in prayer together by the side of their bed. They prayed through the night, seeking God’s supernatural protection and deliverance from the evil they knew had them surrounded.

She was thoughtful of me, waiting until seven a.m. the next morning to give me a call seeking advice.

“I’m sorry for calling so early, but I need your help,” she began, “we installed the stakes yesterday and then had a problem in the night.”

She explained the strange occurrences.

“Did we do something wrong?” she inquired?

“No,” I quickly responded. “That happens when there is something somewhere on the property that dishonors God, honors Satan, or gives allegiance to some foreign God. Can you think of anything like that you have in your home?”

“Oh my goodness,” came her answer, “I still have all my books of spells and witchcraft!”

“You need to burn those,” I instructed.

“You are right,” she readily responded, “I didn’t even think of that.”

They did. They burned all her occult materials. And for two weeks, everything was fine all through each night.

I’m beginning to learn that demons don’t always come back to the same homes on their route every single night. It can often be days, weeks, or even months between visits or manifestations.

So it happened again about two weeks later. Same attacks, same sounds, same noises, and same responsive prayers by the edge of the bed with her husband on his knees at her side.

Again, she was kind enough to wait until about seven a.m. the next morning rather than calling me in the middle of the night. (I am a sound sleeper, and even though I might talk and respond in the night, I won’t remember the event the next morning.)

“What’s the next step?,” she asked urgently. “We burned all my books on witchcraft just as you instructed. Though they were paper, certain pages wouldn’t burn, so we chopped those up into small pieces, and buried them far away from our property. But the noises and attacks came again last night. So what is the next step?” she asked again?

“The next step,” I replied, “is to pray to God that He will reveal to you what it is that dishonors Him that is still on the property somewhere. It might be something you forgot about, something buried on the property, or even something hidden somewhere in the house that is evil, giving demons the right to be there. Tell God that you will destroy it if He will only reveal it to You, and He WILL show you what it is.”

“OK,” she answered. Then she hung up the phone.

That evening before bed, she prayed with her husband asking God to reveal the item or items dishonoring Him, promising to remove and destroy it if He would. Then they went to bed.

And she had a dream.

In the dream, there was another book on witchcraft that she had forgotten she had. It was under a couch in a guest bedroom. In the dream, the couch would fly up off the floor several feet in the air, and then come crashing down, only to repeat this procedure over and over.

Many times we dream, but have no memory of the details of the dream when we awake. But she woke up and remembered every detail. She hurried into that bedroom and bent to look underneath. Sure enough, there was another book of witchcraft there that she had forgotten she had.

She burned it, and the strange nocturnal happenings stopped for God.

Never forget, God is still on the throne, He still uses dreams when He wants to, prayer still works, and He is willing to reveal evil objects around your home if you are willing to destroy them to honor Him.

Steve Hemphill, author / inspirational speaker
“My Search for the Real Heaven”
(Also Available In Spanish)
“My Search for the Real Heaven Workbook”
“My Search for Prayers Satan Hates”
“What Are The Stakes?”