The death of a Mom or Dad can be a difficult adjustment,even if this special person has enjoyed a long life and we have families of our own to comfort us in our time of grief.
But when a parent dies while his or her children are still young, those left behind may suffer financially as well as emotionally. Such was the case of Os Hillman, whose Dadwas killed in a plane crash when he was only 14.
"Our family had to make an adjustment in our standard of living," Os recalls. "When I heard my mother complain about finances in the home, I subconsciously said I never wanted to experience financial need again."
In 1984, Os began a full-service advertising agency in Atlanta known as the Aslan Group, named for the lion in C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia. The agency became extremely successful, and Os was determined to keep it that way.
Because he had such a strong motivation to succeed, Os felt the need to control employees who had authority to make decisions that might have a negative impact on his finances. "If they failed to live up to my expectations, I would put restrictions on them," he says. "I would instill
punitive actions that would make them pay for their actions if they failed."
Looking back on the situation, Os realizes he wasn't consciously trying to afflict his employees.Instead, his actions were subconscious, natural responses to the events taking place around him. And as he would later learn, there was a spiritual dimension to those responses. Satan had established a spiritual stronghold of fear and insecurity in his life, and the formation of this stronghold dated back to the lean times after his father's death. But it wasn't until God allowed his world to be shattered that Os came to grips with his problem.
In March of 1994, his wife of 15 years filed for divorce, and during that same week, he lost a major client who represented 80 percent of his business. In addition, Os learned that the Securities and Exchange Commission had seized the assets of an investment company in which the Aslan Group had put $100,000.
To make matters even worse, his company lost another major client due to what he calls "a comedy of errors by our staff and vendors." This string of events would be enough to test the mettle of even the strongest executives.
But Os' trial wasn't over.
The two clients he'd lost refused to pay their balances, which together exceeded $160,000. He lost his relationship with his only child for a period as a result of his separation. And another investment company called to report that some $200,000 of the Aslan Group's money and Os' personal money was being frozen due to embezzling by one of the investment company's partners.
Because the timing of these events was so unusual, Os knew beyond a doubt that God was trying to get his attention. Now, he was ready to listen. Through the influence of a Christian couple, Mike and Sue Dowgiewicz (pronounced Dog-i-witz), Os was able to see the source of
The Dowgiewiczs had served as administrators of a church retreat center in New England for 10 years. They'd taught more than 5,000 people from a variety of denominations and served as "pastors" to the pastors, who ministered to
their congregations but had no one to minister to them.
"Mike researched and wrote about the influence of spiritual strongholds during this period," Os says.
During those 10 years, he saw some interesting patterns. Without exception, when one individual discovered what strongholds were influencing them, they discovered their brothers, sisters, and parents had the same stronghold influence. He found that some churches often attracted people with the same stronghold. He also found that key employees in businesses, such as mine, often had the same strongholds.
Some other important points on this subject, found in the Dowgiewiczs' workbook Demolishing Strongholds, are as follows.
* People are comprised of body, soul, and spirit. Although the spirit world is hidden from our vision, it is very real, and it is the place where strongholds exist.
* Strongholds consist of a demonic fortress of thoughts housing evil spirits that:
(1) Control, dictate, and influence our attitudes and behavior; (2) Oppress and discourage us; and (3) Affect how we view or react to situations, circumstances, or people.
* We have seven basic needs, including security and intimate love and companionship, which should be met according to God's design. When we try to meet those needs in other ways, we make it possible for strongholds to develop in our spiritual lives. For example, strongholds are
formed when we "entertain thoughts and participate in activities that are contrary to the will of God," the Dowgiewiczs say. "When these thoughts and activities become habitual, we allow a spiritual fortification to be built around that spirit and its influence. We become so
accustomed to responding to the 'voice' of that spirit that its abode in us is secure."
The couple identify 15 strongholds and their symptoms. For example, the stronghold of fear and insecurity, which had affected Os' behavior for so many years, is evidenced by symptoms such as inferiority, lack of trust, perfectionism,
and dread of failure.
To conquer strongholds, Christians need spiritual weapons. "Each believer has the power of the Holy Spirit to renounce these strongholds with the authority of the name of Jesus our Lord," the Dowgiewiczs say.
As 2 Corinthians 10:4 points out, "For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses."
However, believers should remember that once a stronghold is conquered, it can be formed again. That's by they need accountability relationships with other believers who will help them see the outward symptoms of old strongholds
that may be in the process of rebuilding. In addition, other believers can help them avoid behavior that could start the rebuilding process or lead to the formation of an entirely different stronghold.
Meanwhile, believers need to keep a watch on themselves to help ensure that their victories over strongholds are maintained. After dealing with his stronghold, Os took the Dowgiewiczs' material to his four sisters in South
Carolina. Remembering that Mike Dowgiewicz had recorded the same strongholds in numerous families, he presented the list of strongholds to his sisters and asked them to choose any that might apply to them. All of them selected
fear and insecurity.
Learning about strongholds, as it did for Os, resulted in dramatic changes in his oldest sister's life. She had a history of severe clinical anxiety and depression and had been on prescription drugs for many years. He spent a few hours praying with his sister over each of the strongholds that had affected her life. "Many were the exact strongholds I had been influenced by," he says, noting that after their prayer, he saw an immediate change in her countenance."About three weeks went by. She called me one night and I asked her how things were going. 'Great!' she said. 'I am off prescription drugs completely!'
For Os, conquering his stronghold has changed his
relationship with God, his business, and the people who are close to him. He has a growing awareness of God's voice in his life; an increased ability to walk free of fear, even in the midst of financial difficulties; a greater level of peace and assurance that God is in control; and a new ability to relate to other people on a deeper, more caring, level.
But the Dowgiewiczs' teaching on strongholds isn't the only thing that's affected Os' life and business. He's also following the principles taught in another of the couple's books: Reclaiming the Early Church.
"Throughout the world today, God is calling the Jewish people to the land of Israel and restoring the Hebraic principles of the early church, which made it a powerful force during its time," Os says. Under Hebraic principles, the church relied on God's power to accomplish things that only God could do. As the Apostle Paul wrote, "And my
message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God" (1 Corinthians 2:4-5).
"This was a way of life for the early church," Os says. "But Mike and Sue's research shows that by the 3rd century, many anti-Semitic writings and practices had entered the church through the teachings and philosophical influences
of converted Greek philosophers."
"I realized I was a product of the Greek influenced church,"Os says. "I had gained a great deal of head knowledge but was bearing little fruit from that knowledge."
Os notes that today's churches are full of devoted
Christians who serve God but do not see Him at work in and around them. In the eyes of unbelievers, these Christians are living in their own strength. There is nothing about their lives that can only be explained in terms of the activity of God.
These Christians aren't undertaking anything that requires supernatural power. In contrast, the Apostles, though very small in number, set out to take the gospel to the ends of the earth. And through their success, as well as the
miraculous events that accompanied their work, God's supernatural power was evident in their lives. Furthermore, Os notes that caring also was a vital element of the early church. And, he adds, "Someone once said that 'nobody cares
what you know until they know that you care'."
Os has shared his testimony with other businessmen, and the result has been changed lives. "I've never been around anything that bore more positive fruit in helping relationships be rebuilt," he says. "God so very much wants
us to have a love relationship with Him. He wants to be first in our lives. If we will do that, He promises to give us a life that is full and rich in His blessings."
Marketplace Leaders offers a book to help you identify and remove spiritual strongholds. Go to
for more info.
Further reading: Demolishing Strongholds, Mike and Sue Dowgiewicz