Story by Rick Vacek via GCU News Bureau

Visiting Chapel speakers tend to bring a mix of knowledge and humor to Grand Canyon University Arena. They are storytellers who can make the Bible seem as if it was written precisely for the troubles of the world today.

And, certainly, Beth Guckenberger can tell a story with wit and wisdom. But her message also contains a feisty amount of the tenacity you would expect of someone who has devoted her life to managing orphanages with her mission, Back2Back Ministries.

She returned Monday to remind students that the devil is hard at work every day, and they must not just run and hide. They must fight back.

Guckenberger began by telling how she filled in as a pastor in her hometown, Cincinnati, for eight months in 2020. It didn’t go well. Exasperated, she finally challenged her staff of 80 to list the ways the devil was dividing them. It began with a simple word: distrust.

It is the antithesis of our relationship with God, she noted, and pointed to Ephesians 6:13:

Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

She linked that with 1 Peter 5:8-9:

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.

Then her natural feistiness took over. She talked of how the devil has been doing the same thing over and over for thousands of years. We know his tricks.


“When I sow those two passages together,” she said, “it makes me feel like I’m supposed to put on my armor and wait for the lion to come get me. But that makes me feel like I’m on defense. And if he just does the same thing over and over again and we know exactly what it is he’s going to do, why does he get to go first?

“Actually, I would like to throw the first punch. I want to go after him. I want us to be on spiritual offense because there’s darkness around us.”

She has built a whole book around that idea – “Throw the First Punch: Defeating the Enemy Hell-Bent on Your Destruction” – and has written eight others. Her attitude extends through the name of her website,  

Guckenberger cited Chapter 10 of Exodus, which talks of how the darkness over the land was so thick, it could be felt – not unlike what is happening across the world today.

To watch the full Chapel service, including the music of the Worship team, the announcements for the week and Beth Guckenberger’s talk, click here.

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