the bully

 have you ever been bullied?  does the word 'bully' conjure up visions of mean, leather-clad hoodlums skulking through high school hallways, intent on finding the nearest unsuspecting freshman to steal a lunch from? or toss into a dumpster? or shove head first into a toilet?  or, are your visions of bullies less movie-scene and more like, well, real-life experience?  maybe even current life-experience... adult life-experience.
i was bullied.  in high school.  it only lasted a couple of months, but those months would remain in my memory for years.  i was a likable kid. a cheerleader, a nice girl.  maybe that was why this other girl had a problem with me? i don't know, what i DO know is that she made my life a living hell for a while.  it wasn't that she ever did anything to me... there was never any food throwing or hitting.  it was as simple as a stare.  a mean look can go a long way!  she, along with her posse of persecutors, would walk by, say snide comments...which could almost be threats...a little shoulder bump perhaps, a dirty look.... and voila! fear successfully struck in the heart of a girl.
did you know that you and i are bullied by the devil every single day?  i would even go so far as to say every single minute of every single day.  the Bible says that "your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour" (1 Peter 5:8).  he is that mean, leather-clad hoodlum.  he wants to see you utterly humiliated, completely embarrassed, absolutely ashamed.
the other day i was feeling discouraged, and the enemy pounced on that opportunity, pulling me down into a state of self-pity.  "you're right, you're not good enough.  you shouldn't try, etc...".   then, a little later, i found myself thinking a little too much of myself..."you are SO good!  no one is better!! etc".  and therein my victory was found!!! because i recognized his attack!!! it was SO obvious.... discouragement then pride.  even my high school bully tried it... she had the audacity to invite me to a sleep-over/party 'some of the girls' were having.  please.  i may not have gotten an a in math, but i was smart enough to know what a dumb idea that would be! i knew it was a ploy, not an actual, sincere invitation.  and i'm fully aware of the enemy's tricks too.  the first part of that verse above says..."be self-controlled and alert".  be wise, stay attentive and aware.  the enemy lives in the halls of our lives, lurking and skulking at all times!  waiting until we are unsuspecting and then.... bam!!! he hits us right where he hit us last time! same thing every time.  so get hip to his schemes... learn to duck as he swings. anticipate his next move. it shouldn't be that hard, since he always uses the same tactics.  and then, take your sword and fight back!  hide the word in your heart so that as he attacks you can parry and return the blow with one far more debilitating! for the Word says "greater is HE that is in me, than he that is in the world!" (1 John 4:4)