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Exposing Satan's Playbook

"Who do YOU say that I am?" Today's blog, brought to you by our very own Dave Glander, takes a deep dive into the root cause of what is troubling our teens today. We pray that you will take the time to read and consider the role you can play in being there for this younger generation.
As you may or may not know, Reasons for Hope works with the upcoming generation quite a bit.  We intentionally emphasize reaching them with the TRUTH of Jesus Christ.  It is such a blessing to see their lives completely transformed when exposed to rational information that gives them a “Why” behind the “What” they are trying to understand about the Christian worldview.  It is the “why” that substantiates the claims of Christianity and causes students and adults alike to truly stand bold in their faith.
Not only do we “destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God” (2 Corinthians 10:5) through the discipline of apologetics, but we also teach them critical thinking by taking “every thought captive” (2 Corinthians 10:5) to bring them into the light of God’s Word.  Though teaching apologetics has always been such a powerful way of accomplishing great results, we have noted a tremendous shift in the approach we need to take to reach this generation of young people.
Recently, I developed a talk to address this cultural shift I’m talking about; I call it the talk I never wanted to put together.  I would much rather talk about the truths of God’s Word and the application thereof―literally fuel for our spiritual journeys.  But to be a responsible teacher today, this talk has become an unavoidable subject and is entitled, “Who Do YOU Say I Am?”  It is a flipping of the question that Jesus asked Peter in Matthew 16:15. While it is of the utmost importance that students know how to answer the same question asked to Peter about who they say Jesus is to them, it has also become a stark necessity that they, in turn, ask Jesus who HE says they are!
I believe that this question about their identity in Christ has become the number one issue stealing a generation away from the faith, and this identity crisis is also why suicide rates among teenagers have now become the number one cause of death to their generation!  There are currently over 42 million doctor-written prescriptions of Adderall (a legal form of methamphetamine) to college-age students in this country,1 with a whopping 50.5 million cases of mental illness among students ages 6 to 17 years old.2 I realize this is a hard pill to swallow, and I wish I could say it’s not true. Through experience alone, however, I can attest to the mental condition of this generation. Please allow me to explain . . .

I believe that this question about their identity in Christ has become the number one issue stealing a generation away from the faith.

Carl Kerby, the founder of our ministry, is a big guy with a lot of presence.  Those who know him would say that while he is a very caring individual (which is why students gravitate towards him), he is also not a crier!  A few months back at Equip camp, he witnessed firsthand the end of my talk to the youth about identity―something I’ve seen at least 20 or more times when closing this particular session.  Throughout the talk, “Who Do YOU Say I Am?” I address the issues of anxiety, depression, and identity.
During this message, I will ask the students to write on a piece of paper how they view themselves in the mirror based on things that have been said to them by friends, family, and peers―things they hate to think about yet can’t escape when they break down their perceived identities.  I ask them to omit their names on the paper and, once they are done, to bring them up front and drop them on the altar.  (Sadly, because of the number of times I’ve given this talk across the country to every known demographic, I already know what those papers will say when I pick them up to read them.) Carl did not know what to expect at this point since it was his first time hearing this talk.  I can’t be certain that Carl cried that night, but I do know that for the next two weeks, he could not shake the statements I read from the students’ responses.
“It would be better for my family if I wasn’t here anymore.”  
“I should’ve never been born in the first place.”
 “I am fat, ugly, repulsive.”
 “I will never be good at anything.”
 “I am the reason my mom killed herself.”
 “I’m annoying and talk too much… people hate being around me.”  
“God cannot love me because of the things I’ve done.”
 “I’m addicted to porn.”
 “I’m unattractive and will never find someone to love me.”  
“I am a waste of time.”  
“I hate who I am.”
 “I just want to die instead of all of this.”  
“I’m not worth loving.”
I could go on and on with similar statements I’ve read from hundreds of students.  It tears my heart open and causes me to lose sleep as I pray that we can reach them through their identity crises and show them who Jesus says they are!
This is the most attacked generation when it comes to the concept of “identity” due to the range of voices from the “woke” agenda claiming that girls can be boys, boys can be girls, and if you think you are a dog, you can identify as a “furry” and be excused if you feel the need to bark at other children in school.3 
Things have gotten completely ludicrous and totally out of control.  But then it dawned on me as I put this talk together―Satan is not original!  I hate it when people say, “The devil is in the details.”  He’s too stupid to be in the details.  When Isaiah talks about the moment Satan is exposed, he says, “Those who see you will gaze at you.  They will consider you, saying, ‘Is this the man who made the earth tremble, who shook kingdoms?’” (Isaiah 12:7, Amplified Bible).
People will be shocked when they see the weakling in all his [lack of] glory and wonder how in the world this dummy was able to pull off such a feat.  God is the One in the details, for He even knows the number of hairs on each person’s head (Luke 12:7)!  With his inability to be original, Satan uses a repetitive plan that exposes his playbook and gives us the power to reject his efforts and turn this generation around!
To illustrate my point, I’d like to show you three times when Satan used his “big plan” to overcome things.  We will go in reverse order from the latest to the first.  Our first glimpse into Satan’s playbook is with our very Messiah Himself.  When Jesus went into the desert before He started His earthly ministry, we are told that Satan showed up to try and thwart the ultimate plans of God.  How he tried to do this will be very enlightening in this adventure to overturn his plans for this generation.  He tried to tempt Jesus by questioning him about something unique yet simple.  In his first attempt, Satan said to Jesus, IF YOU ARE THE SON OF GOD, command these stones to become loaves of bread” (Matthew 4:3, emphasis mine).  Did you catch it?  Satan planned to challenge the very identity of Jesus by asking Him “IF” you are…. Remember, I said Satan is not that original, so he tried the same tactic again.  IF YOU ARE THE SON OF GOD, throw yourself down…” Matthew 4:6, emphasis mine).  Twice, Satan attempted to CHANGE the identity of Jesus by challenging Him on who He really was.
Now, let’s go back to the beginning of man and see a repetitive plan by Satan.  When he was in the Garden of Eden, tempting Eve to eat of the fruit, he said to her, “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and YOU WILL BE LIKE GOD… (Genesis 3:5, emphasis mine).  Did you catch it again?  Same Satan, Same Playbook, Same Plan!  He tried to tell them that their identity would change from human to God.
Finally, let’s look at one last example to show just how unimaginative Satan really is.  We’re going back to the start of his demise, where he charged into the throne room and said, “I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I WILL MAKE MYSELF LIKE THE MOST HIGH (Isaiah 14:14, emphasis mine). Did you catch it that time?  Satan’s original downfall was that he thought he could change his own identity to become God, just like he tried to tell Eve she would become!  He didn’t tell Jesus He would become God because he already knew He was, so he tried to challenge that position by saying if you are the Son of God!  Satan is just not that original, period!  He has literally had the same plan out of the same playbook since he fell and hasn’t changed a bit.
Satan’s plan may not have worked on Jesus, but it did, in fact, get him thrown out of heaven and Adam and Eve thrown out of the garden.  However, what’s most troubling now is that this is precisely what I see around the country in 2023.  Satan’s plan to re-identify families first through gay marriage has now transpired into a mess for every individual.  I repeat, I believe people’s lack of identity in Christ has become the number one issue stealing a generation away from the faith.
Suppose Satan can make people question who they are. In that case, it leads people to a life of anxiety and depression because an identity crisis, no matter how small, is a disconnection from a person’s place in this world, ultimately leading to a question of value and purpose.  Even though this world has gotten to the point of sheer madness when it comes to gender identity and pronouns, that doesn’t touch the number of Christians who are also wrestling with their place in this world.
This CAN change.  We need to stop playing church, acting like things are always blessed and highly favored, and come to a point where honest discussions about mental health can be made out loud.  We need to set an environment where perception isn’t reality, and occasionally, it’s okay to have a bad day or attitude.  I, for one, would rather hear your audible voice complain now instead of learning that you needed to talk at your funeral.
As the church, we need to be REALLY asking how our students are doing.  We must stop sending text messages, call each other, and listen to voice inflections to determine the truth.  It’s too easy to look good on social media; we need to see each other, hug each other, and have the chance to tell somebody how you need prayers for specific issues.  We need to encourage one another, build each other up, and stop complaining about others.  You can complain about your life because you can also fix your life.  Stop picking on how someone else is living because you cannot fix them. That’s the job of the Holy Spirit at work in them.  Hold each other accountable, and yes, judge your fellow believers, but do so in the love of Christ because you genuinely care.
The real takeaway I wanted to leave you with is this: Exposing Satan’s playbook and seeing that it’s really simple to overcome his strategy.    What makes what we do at Reasons for Hope work so well is that the students (people) we get to influence have the absolute assurance that we genuinely care, and we love them.  They can spot a fraud from a mile away and will shut down completely, never revealing their struggles.  They want adults to stop playing church with them and just be real with them.
Satan is trying to mess with people’s identities, so let’s just throw a wrench in his game by continuing to lift each other with the TRUTH of who we are in Christ alone.

Acts 17:28
For in him we live and move and have our being; as even some of your own poets have said, “For we are indeed his offspring.”

 1Molly Norris, “Survey finds that 24 percent of University students use Adderall,” The Michigan Daily (March 26, 2018). Accessed 9/20/23, https://www.michigandaily.com/research/adderall-used-24-university-students/#:~:text=Of the over 1,300 respondents,by a physician or psychiatrist.
2NAMI Editors, “Mental Health By the Numbers,” National Alliance on Mental Illness. Accessed 9/20/23, https://www.nami.org/mhstats.
Laura Jackel, “Kids barking at each other and kitty litter in bathrooms? Exactly what’s going on with ‘furries’ at school,” Mamamia (July 8, 2023). Accessed 9/20/23, https://www.mamamia.com.au/what-are-furries/.
To learn more about Dave Glander, or to book him as a speaker, please click HERE.

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