In a bible study last year, we were talking about Ebenezers (or Remembrance Stones) and performed an exercise where we prayed, asking God to reveal to us a verse of Scripture that we could use on an Ebenezer . . . something He would like us to remember.
The Scripture the Lord impressed upon me was Titus 2:1 “But you must speak what is consistent with sound teaching. HCSB” This revelation made me sit up with a jolt. I had just finished telling a story to the group that was extra-biblical. The circumstances had happened to me and I identified them with God or being Godly, but there was no foundation for them in the Bible.
This was significant to me because I’m a true believer in the Bible. I have a friend who makes fun of me because I don’t believe everything she considers biblical when there just isn’t any basis for it in the Bible. It doesn’t bother me that she laughs at me, I decided a long time ago that I was only going to go toe to toe with people over salvation issues.
In Acts 17:11, when Paul and Silas had traveled to Berea, it says: “Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. NIV” We don’t seem to do this anymore. We listen to people say any such silly thing and we believe. If they say it, it must be true. Especially if the person is a pastor!
A friend of mine is in a Bible study group going through a book by a pastor from the Bethel church (Redding, CA). While he was telling me what he was learning, I thought I was listening to the writings of Shirley MacLaine. That’s how “out there” this pastor is … very new-agey. He didn’t call it the astral plane, but he has a notion that our spirits fly all over the place while we’re sleeping. I asked my friend to find biblical support for what the gentleman was teaching and he said he’d look into it. I’m fairly certain he won’t find any.
The writer of Hebrews said: “Do not be led astray by diverse and strange teachings … Heb 13:9a ESV.” Please be wary of what you’re hearing and reading. Regardless if it comes from a local bible study leader, a friend, or a well-known pastor … does it fit within the teachings of the Bible? That is the only question that must be answered.
Well, we’re in Romans at BSF this year. That’s Bible Study Fellowship for the uninitiated. Romans is a wonderful book full of the teaching of Christian doctrine and how to live a Christian life. However I’d completely missed Paul saying in Chapter 1 verse 18:
For God’s wrath is revealed from heaven against all godlessness and unrighteousness of people who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.
While I initially understood godlessness (or in some versions ungodliness) and unrighteousness as one in the same, Paul distinguishes between the two.
In his book, Respectable Sins, Jerry Bridges states that ungodliness is describes an attitude toward God, while unrighteousness refers to sinful actions in thought, word, or deed.
While I usually start chastising myself when I misread Scripture – or don’t read it well enough to begin with – I’m going to let myself slide in this instance. Let’s face it, in the beginning of Romans Paul has been hammering home the “wrath of God” on everyone because we are all sinners. The passage is uncomfortable to read because you know it’s true. But we have to know – must know – what we ought to receive at judgment because of our sinful nature before we can truly appreciate the saving grace of Christ. We deserve nothing short of God’s wrath.
So, am I ungodly? Are you?
Jerry Bridges goes on to define ungodliness as living one’s everyday life with little or no thought of God, or of God’s will, or of God’s glory, or one’s dependence on God.
I can see myself in that sentence. I may spend some quiet time in the morning with God but how often do I continue that conversation throughout the day? Some days are better than others. Some days I’m in communication with Him all day long; praying, worshiping, thanking, giving Him glory, talking, and trying to listen for His voice.
But not always and it’s definitely not often enough.
Jerry helps when he says:
Our goal in the pursuit of godliness should be to grow more in our conscious awareness that every moment of our lives is lived in the presence of God; that we are responsible to Him and dependent on Him. This goal would include a growing desire to please Him and glorify Him in the most ordinary activities of life.
After I finished this convicting chapter I knew I needed to seek God’s forgiveness at once. I squeezed my eyes shut, rolled over, and dug my head into my pillow in an attempt to shut out the world and be alone with Him.
Lord, help me to keep you forefront in my mind all day long. Allow your Holy Spirit to guide me, mark my steps, watch my words and actions, and do everything for your glory.
Immediately I received a vision I have not seen since 2008.
All I could “see” behind my shuttered eyes was a glorious swath of deep, rich purple. This has been an indicator that my Lord is with me. Non-condemning. Hearing my plea and cradling me. I was awash in His love.
How is it that we have the maker of the universe listen to and love us so?
His all-consuming love makes me want to not be quite so ungodly.
In His love,
PS: the book is almost ready to go to my beta readers and then to editing. Thank you all for being so patient with me. Keep your eye out for a chance to sign up for my email list and receive a couple of chapters – Free!
It’s hard to cry for departed Christian friends because I know where they are and am confident I’ll see them again. It’s much easier to weep for those they left behind. We must all await our time to enter the realm of God.
My friend Paula left us last month. Paula is a vivacious, generous, and gentle soul who God pulled into my life and became my friend just before I was diagnosed with cancer in 2015. (If you missed it, here are easy links to part one and part two.)
I originally assumed God had brought us together for me to help her with her cancer diagnosis; but in a short matter of time we could see that we were meant to lean on each other through the suffering of this disease. Two Christian women fighting shoulder to shoulder with the big C.
God’s plan in our friendship really became evident when Paula’s disease metastasized to bone and brain and her faith began to falter. (You can read that here with links to part one and part two.) It scared me because she was one of the most solid women I knew. If her faith could crumble so easily … could mine?
What I didn’t know until later was that her doctors had told her she was incurable from day one.
It’s a hideous word that should not have found its way into our lexicon. I wondered how having that word spoken over you could damage your psyche. Now I could really appreciate just how tough and resilient she was. She’d lasted almost two years with that label slapped on her and her faith had just now had begun to slip. I counted my blessings that no doctor has ever used that word or, the alternate, “terminal” with me. Of course we are all terminal in one way or another.
Determined to restore her faith, we embarked on a 28-day bible study by Kay and David Arthur called Lord, I Need Answers. I’m not sure if it was the weekly camaraderie or God working through the study itself (or both!), but we were equally refreshed and stronger by the time we completed that study. I cheered as Paula was able to say with confidence the ultimate statement, “I know I’m going to Heaven when I die.” Faith reestablished! Hallelujah!
It wasn’t long though before Paula’s body began to ignore her directives. Since the disease had begun ravishing her body, she slipped into hospice care and friend after friend came by to sit with her, offering their love and support, and praying over her and with her.
It was very tough to witness this vital, faithful, loving woman fade away and I was with her on what was to become her last day. That afternoon I prayed a couple of Psalms over her (something she liked me to do when I’d come over) but found it very difficult to get through Psalm 91, one of our favorites. I dissolved into tears as I prayed God’s undying love over her. I couldn’t be sure she had heard me at all but had her hand in mine and as I was saying goodbye with a promise of returning the next day, she squeezed. I reported it to her nurse as I burst into a fresh round of tears.
Her husband, Bob, let us all know that she passed into Jesus’ arms at about 10pm that evening. I can’t say enough about Bob. He’s a good, godly man and a verifiable rock. There’s no wonder that God brought Bob into Paula’s life for a time such as this. It’s never easy for a man to lose his wife, but really God? They just celebrated their third wedding anniversary in March.
I’m beyond grateful that God brought Paula and I together two years ago. I’m overjoyed that He was able to use her in my life and me in hers right until the end. I’m thankful she heard a few chapters of my book and never once laughed!
Farewell, my friend, I love you.
Me, Paula, and another friend at church.
“Don’t be dismayed at good-byes. A farewell is necessary before you can meet again. And meeting again, after moments or lifetimes, is certain for those who are friends.”
~ Richard Bach (Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah)
This is Part Three of a series. Please see Parts One and/or Two if you’re lost. We’ll be right here when you return.
The devotional was given to me some time ago. I’m pretty sure I asked for it for Christmas one year. Hey, all of my friends were reading and gushing over it, I had to have it too.
What a mistake. My unease began with the wording used in Jesus Calling by Sarah Young. Surely Jesus wouldn’t sound so slick and smarmy. I remember only reading through a couple of weeks before back-tracking to the Introduction to find out more about the author. What I found there solidified my distrust of the message.
When I began to point out the obvious weaknesses to my friends, I was met with an attitude of disdain and sometimes downright anger at my suggestion that their beloved book might not be all that it’s cracked up to be.
I was (and am) worried. Some Christians have become so attached to this book that I wonder if they unconsciously hold it more valuable than the Bible.
It’s my sincere belief that Satan is going to sway the elect with this type of carefully crafted pseudo-Christian rubbish. We can already see it all around us – pastors who water down the Gospel, churches that completely dismiss parts of the Bible, and writers who say they’re Christian but then don’t hold to a biblical standard. Regrettably, there are a lot these days … authors you may have come to trust and suddenly go high-right in their theology, walking away from the Truth.
I’m not going to bore you with everything that’s wrong with the book because there are other excellent writers that detail the issues (I’ve given a small list at the end). But I am going to bring up a couple significant issues that should stand out as red-flag warnings for Christians. When we read things that raise the hackles on our neck or give us pause – even for an instant – our discernment capabilities should raise up like the robot on Lost in Space flailing its arms, “Danger, Will Robinson! Danger!”
Let’s review a few of the facts:
Sarah Young says she is channeling Jesus.
When I’ve spoken to my friends and acquaintances who are readers (and lovers) of Jesus Calling, this is what I hear as push back:
But some of it is soooo gooooood.
It’s not all bad.
Oh, there are some parts that I gloss over but most of it is great.
These types of statements tell me that the reader has already realized there are issues with the book and yet, is unable to stop reading it. Doesn’t that sound like an addiction? “I know it’s not good for me but I still partake.” Who is the one who wants to keep us in chains?
You’re willing to listen to the devil’s lies because “the rest of it is so good?” Are you kidding me?
He is swaying … even the elect.
Sarah Young says she is channeling Jesus.
Yes, that was my first point but now the biblical side. Don’t we read in Deuteronomy 18:10-12a (emphasis mine):
“No one among you is to make his son or daughter pass through the fire, practice divination, tell fortunes, interpret omens, practice sorcery, cast spells, consult a medium or a familiar spirit, or inquire of the dead. Everyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD,”
Why would the LORD, break His own word and come to us through the medium Sarah Young? It’s absurd. You might as well just throw away the Bible because Sarah Young and Jesus just conspired to make the Bible what every atheist and unbeliever says it is – just a pretty good novel.
Let’s also remember Leviticus 20:27-28 (emphasis mine):
“You are to be holy to Me because I, Yahweh, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be Mine. A man or a woman who is a medium or a spiritist must be put to death. They are to be stoned; their blood is on their own hands.”
Again, why would Yahweh suddenly change His mind and decide mediums were acceptable? I thought He was unchangeable? (See Hebrews 6:17-18)
Sarah Young states she was inspired by the book God Calling.
Written in mid-1930, God Calling is a book by “Two Listeners” – unknown women who allegedly sat one day with paper and pen in hand and waited for God to speak to them. It’s a classic book in the New-Age arena and I stumbled across it in the early 1990’s. Even though I wasn’t yet born-again, it felt slimy to me and I didn’t read much of it. One listener writes on their website (emphasis mine):
“We felt all unworthy and overwhelmed by the wonder of it, and could hardly realize that we were being taught, trained and encouraged day by day by HIM personally, when millions of souls, far worthier, had to be content with guidance from the Bible, sermons, their Churches, books and other sources.
Oh, poor us. Forced to be content with guidance from the Bible. What humiliation!
While I’m not disapproving of devotionals, I’m also not critical of sitting in your quiet time with your journal recording the impressions you receive after bible study or prayer. But you still have to be cognizant of whom the impressions are coming from, because Satan will worm his way into your mind if he can. Put on the full armor daily and take every thought captive to Christ! (Ephesians 6:11 and 2 Corinthians 10:3-5)
I’ve told this story before but one day while living in Arizona, I came through an intense two-hour session of prayer and picked up my journal, chronicling my thoughts and emerged with a step-by-step plan of my future. Four of the five stages have happened and the last one will conclude soon. This was personal guidance from God. The kind of guidance you receive when you read your Bible and pray to your Creator, your Redeemer, your Lord.
I did not have any doubt that what I’d written in my journal was direction from our Lord. The first three phases were benign enough and I only started to receive pushback from the devil in steps four and five. If I’d had any doubt, it would have been dispelled then. Satan tried very hard (and almost succeeded) to end the fourth step before it ever began and has done his best to wreak havoc on the fifth and final step. To no avail. My God is stronger.
The main issue with Jesus Calling and God Calling is that I’m not quite sure what spirit is being channeled. It doesn’t sound like Jesus in the pages, He wouldn’t use a medium to bring His word to His followers, and if He did decide that this was the way to go now – He has just negated His entire WORD. You can’t just believe part of the Bible and dismiss the parts you don’t like.
Are you willing to continue to take the chance that who you’re reading is really Jesus?
Next week I’ll focus on how to become more discerning; because I believe that only a discerning mind is going to be able to see past the devil’s schemes in these last days.
In the meantime, check out these folks if you’re interested in a better and/or more complete reviews of the issues with this book:
You’ll notice in Part One that I called some of the books I received ‘purportedly’ Christian. Many were absolutely Christian, drawing from Scripture to impart strength and encouragement. Yet there were others that at first glance were going to convey a biblical message but seldom did. It’s in this manner that I believe Satan will sway the elect from God’s kingdom … at least one of his tools.
Those books spoke of Jesus and healing but only dappled in scripture. I use a small ‘s’ because the authors had so watered-down or poorly interpreted the true Word of God that it was almost unrecognizable. There was only one of those books that I actually appreciated – not because of what it stated – but because the author, a Reverend Capps, used disclaimers throughout his work. He fully informed the reader that he was rephrasing and summarizing Scripture and that if the reader wanted to know the true Word, they should look up the listed references. Hey, at least he was honest and didn’t try to make a pseudo-Christian book look legit.
There have only been a few books that I’ve come across in my life that were worse. If you’ve read me for a while, you’ve grown accustomed with my gift of Discernment. Over the years, it has only gotten stronger and when I begin to read a book or hear a message that isn’t authentic or that might be from an adversarial spirit my spiritual gifting kicks into high gear. I’ll either turn off the message, get away from the person, or close the book and throw it away and we’ll end this series by talking about ways to increase your ability to discern.
But the book that led me to write these posts is an especially good example of our adversary using a pseudo-Christian platform to sway followers. I was thinking about this devotional along with the other books I’d received that were either watered down Christianity or maybe not Christian at all.
Why is it that we (Christians) turn to the nonessential reading material to soothe our worries, fears, and anxieties and don’t just open and read the Bible? Honestly, isn’t that why God gave it to us?
When the Samaritan Women at Jacob’s Well doesn’t quite understand Jesus’ offer …
Jesus said, “Everyone who drinks from this water will get thirsty again. But whoever drinks from the water that I will give him will never get thirsty again – ever!” (John 4:13-14a)
she asked Him to give her the water He speaks of so she won’t have to keep coming to the well to draw water; she’s looking for Jesus to make her life easier, more convenient. (John 4:15)
She didn’t initially realize that He, His Spirit, and His Word is His life-giving water.
Like this woman, we want the convenience. When I was walking away from God I conveniently made up my own religion – for convenience. It suited me perfectly. I still carted my Bible around but was no longer “in it.” But through the years I’ve met people who choose to read a devotional instead of the Bible and others who don’t read the Bible or any Christian literature at all. Every decision is an act to give ourselves a convenience.
The fact is – we don’t need devotionals. We don’t need anything other than Jesus – His Spirit and His Word. I’ll never forget the story of the man who planted over 500 churches in India. A pastor from the States went to find out what kind of teaching material the man was using to grow and sustain these Christians. The man was confused by the question. “What material?” He asked. “We read the Bible and do what it says.”
How many of us read devotionals alongside the Bible? I do and am willing to bet that most of you do too. Please know that in no way am I damning devotional material. Devotionals make me think in different ways about the Scriptures (and some of my favorites are in the picture above). The Holy Spirit may use them to convict me of a sin, or Jesus might use them to get me to read the referenced scripture so He can go in deep and really teach me something. That’s actually one of my favorite uses of devotionals – to open up my heart and head to learn something new from my Savior.
Next up: I’ll discuss the devotional that may be on everyone’s bookshelf, but because of my background in New Age philosophies, shakes me to my spiritual core.
Ever since I learned in the Bible that during the end times Satan will use anything and anyone to sway believers to follow him, I’ve wondered how that might happen.
False messiahs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. ~ Matthew 24:24
“Even the elect.” That is us, Christ Follower.
It chills me to my bones.
As a born-again Christian I consider myself one of the “elect” [typically any gentile or Jew who believes in Jesus (Yahweh) as the Messiah]. I ‘grew up in the church’ (as they say) but as I got older I still attended Psychic Fairs with friends in Connecticut … having fun whilst paying good money to people we weren’t sure had any true skills. It was a lark but we loved it and only sometimes thought there might be some validity in what the seer said to us.
Yet, when I got to college in Colorado, I found myself in one of the New Age meccas of the US and slowly began to explore this strange world. I experimented with much of the New Age philosophies and found I enjoyed the use of and excelled in creative visualization, tarot card reading, eastern and western astrology, throwing runes, the I-Ching, meditation, and even feng shui; which is not technically New Age but an ancient Chinese system of thought connecting the placement of objects to affect the energy (chi) of the universe.
When Shirley MacLaine’s book Out on a Limb was published in 1983 I devoured it like it was candy and tried (unsuccessfully) to astral project. I stopped before too long because I became concerned that my soul might separate from my body.
As time went on I melded the New Age ideas I enjoyed with Native American beliefs I was learning, and my old friend, Christianity – rolling it all up into a great gooey ball of gobbledygook that served me just fine. Satisfied me. Played right into my hand. I didn’t have a god in charge of me – I was in charge and had supporting players … God, the universe, my spirit animal totem, the sun, moon, winds, etc.
What some may not know about New Age, is that its practitioners will dip into any theology, even the Bible, when it suits their purpose. No world religion or spiritual practice is untouchable. They take Scripture out of context and apply it to any situation they need … which is probably one reason why I’m now such a stickler for using the Word as it is intended by God.
In using scripture, for a New-Ager’s purpose, most of the time a word or two will be missing from the verse (or the whole verse might not be utilized) in order to make it more powerful for their use. One of the most often used verses is:
He [the Lord] says, “Be still, and know that I am God …” ~ Psalm 46:10a (NIV)
The context of this verse is God talking to nations who like to make war and the Holmen Christian Standard Bible actually translates it to: “Stop your fighting-and know that I am God, exalted among the nations, exalted on the earth.” ~ Psalm 46:10 HCSB)
However, when you take the first half of this verse out of context it becomes just words that are especially good when used as a chant during meditation.
Be still and know that I am God.
You see, New Agers believe that God is within every one of us. Not like the Holy Spirit residing within Christians, but that god is a universal life-force that anyone can call on. In using this verse New Agers cut off the first few words (they state that God is talking) and intone “Be still and know that I am God.” The “be still” part draws them into meditation … be still, be still, be still … and then the whammy – “Know that I am God.” “Know that I am God.” “Know that I am God.”
Do you catch what they are saying to themselves?
“I AM GOD.”
Once I gave my life fully to Christ and denounced all the other beliefs, I’ve walked the Christian road becoming stronger and stronger in the Lord. Many of my friends and other Christians are on the same course – striving to know God, to surrender daily, to walk in His will. Because I know the deep love and commitment I have for Jesus, I’m bewildered that Satan could sway me or any one of my friends. Preposterous! It couldn’t be done.
Or could it?
It may already be happening.
When I was diagnosed with cancer many friends and family gave me books to help pass the time and lift my spirits. Some books were secular and some books purportedly Christian and all givers were very well-meaning. I love and appreciate anyone who took the time to tell me they were thinking of, praying for, or loving me and/or my parents. Community coming together to aid in the care of the sick utterly warmed my heart and gave me immeasurable strength. I’ve said on numerous occasions during my recovery that I actually felt prayers. They curled around me like a soft warm blanket of love and gave me a reassuring sense of peace. Never doubt the power of prayer! But now I’m headed down a rabbit hole on prayer so I’ll stop now and see you on Wednesday.
In the next post I’ll talk about a book that has wormed it’s way into many Christian homes and is the basis for this series of posts. Afterward, some tips to grow your discernment. There has never been such a time to be strong, dear Christian. There is so much I want – need – to say about growing in your discernment and being able to accurately discern the spirits that are getting stronger and more insistent as the Lord tarries.
This is a post from my friend Ben Nelson, author and blogger, who writes almost daily on his blog Another Red Letter Day. Ben has this beautiful way of taking stories from the Bible and writing them in first person – becoming a character in the story – and this is one of my favorite stories. In fact, he has a book out the walks you through 40 days with Jesus. It’s remarkable. Please enjoy.
There is no way to get rid of this kind of
demon except by prayer.
Help My Doubts
Father of a Demon-Possessed Boy
I remember the doctor saying to us, years ago, “Keep a record of his bad days.” My son—my eight-year-old boy—Enoch and I visited the doctor often in those first days. It’s been another eight years since we stopped going to doctors. For seven of them, we’ve found it easier to record the good days than count the bad.
The first sign the demonic attack has begun—we now know it’s a demon—is Enoch’s eerie silence. His eyes glaze over and it seems like he has gone away. He can’t hear—or at least he doesn’t respond to sound—and never speaks.
In the beginning, we thought he was sick. My wife, Havah, and I took him to our family doctor in the village. At first, this demon did not awaken while we were with the doctor, so he didn’t know how to help. Enoch, couldn’t tell the doctor much. He couldn’t remember what happened during his episodes. He just fell—no—not fell—it was like being thrown to the floor. Then he rolled around the ground as stiff as a board, foaming at the mouth. If there was anything dangerous nearby, like fire, or water, or a steep drop, he’d head right for it.
Our third visit to the doctor was after a furious episode where Enoch found his way right into an open fire. It scorched more than half the skin on his left side. The doctor said he could treat the burn, but he told us we should see a priest or rabbi. He didn’t think Enoch had any disease.
“This boy is possessed by a devil, and I can’t help you,” he told us as he gave us some salve for his burns.
After that, we went from rabbi to rabbi, each one shrugged his shoulders and wished he could do more.
It’s been seven years of rabbis and priests. We’ve given special offerings at the temple and paid for professional intercessors. We’ve gone to every house of prayer in Judea. Once we even traveled up to the temple at Shechem in Samaria to see if they could help us.
About a year ago, I started hearing stories of a rabbi from Galilee who was casting out demons and healing the sick. At first, I didn’t want Enoch and Havah to get their expectations aroused, but as the stories multiplied my heart began to hope.
One of my neighbors returned from a visit with some family up north near Tiberius. He told me of a pair of Jesus’ disciples going through the town. They were healing the sick and casting out demons in the streets. I’ve know Ari for many years, and he wouldn’t repeat these stories if there were any doubt in his mind. He was there. He saw men and women healed before his eyes, even some possessed by demons like my boy.
That’s when I started planning. I didn’t tell my wife, or even my son, what I was really up to. I didn’t want to lie to either of them. I just told Havah I wanted some time alone with my boy. I started planning for a trip with Enoch to find this Healer. I would tell Him my boy’s story. If He refused or couldn’t help, the disappointment would only fall on me.
I learned that He had been seen teaching and healing near Cana up in Galilee, so I packed our things and Enoch and I headed north.
Traveling with Enoch is no holiday. Everywhere we go, we have to be prepared to deal with his oppressor. This trip was no exception. In fact, the spirit’s brutality the first night made me think we were might be headed in the right direction. The vile captor in Enoch’s young body protested more than ever. We didn’t sleep at all the first night we were on the road. Before I even had the fire burning hot enough to cook some dinner, he was flailing around and smothered it, at great cost to his own flesh. It was a grueling three days and two nights.
When we got close, someone told us the Teacher was on Mount Tabor. So we followed the road down from Cana to the east. As we approached the mountain, we found crowds at the base. I expected this. The accounts I’ve heard always have large crowds around this Healer.
It was nearly sundown when we came upon a few of the Healer’s disciples surrounded by dozens of on-lookers. They had just healed a couple of blind men. Next, they were laying hands on a lame woman lying on a sort of mat in the middle of the group. As we pressed our way into the center of the gathering, we saw this woman on the bed getting to her feet. Then she started jumping and running around the circle of spectators.
The disciples looked almost as stunned as the no-longer-bedridden woman. One of these men called out, “It’s the name of Jesus that heals the sick and delivers anyone in bondage.”
We had found Him.
I started waving frantically, crying out “My son, help my son!” I must have looked a little mad myself. I began to tell my son’s story to the one they were calling Andrew. There were three other groups like the one I was in, each surrounding what looked like a few disciples.
“I’m Andrew,” said the man who was speaking, “and this is Simon the Zealot.”
As soon as I began to describe Enoch’s condition, my son flew to the ground. I had my back to him, so I didn’t see the warning signs. I would have steered him away from the crowd before he went it to the full display of fury that is my son’s daily reality.
He was rocking back and forth, jerking up and down, six inches into the air and then slammed down again, rolling over so the foam covering his mouth was full of the Galilean dirt. Andrew and Simon hurried over to him and began to command the demon to come out.
“In the name of Jesus of Nazareth, come out,” they called.
Nothing changed. They said it a little louder. “In the name of Jesus, come out.”
They asked others in the crowd to hold him still while they prayed for him, laying their hands on his head and chest.
He thrashed and freed his arms. Then began slashing at them with his fists and scratching with his fingernails.
Andrew and Simon called two of the other disciples over to them and they started out the same way.
“In the name of Jesus of Nazareth, come out.”
I have to say, they didn’t give up. The sky grew fully dark and the air chilled as this failed exorcism went on into the night.
Finally, sometime after midnight, I took Enoch away from the crowd and we found a quiet place to get some rest. He had been in full manifestation for hours, and when he finally calmed, he was ready to sleep.
The sun was already well above the horizon when we awoke. The commotion that woke us was the arrival of Jesus and three more of his followers. They had apparently spent the night on the mountain. I’d never seen anything like Jesus. He was glowing—glowing! It wasn’t just the sun shimmering off his robes. The light emanated from Him.
As we approached Andrew called to Jesus, “Here they are Mater. We did everything you taught us and nothing changed.”
Once I realized that Jesus was right there, I said, “Teacher, I brought my mute son, made speechless by a demon, to you. Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, grinds his teeth, and goes stiff as a board. I told your disciples, hoping they could deliver him, but they couldn’t.”
Jesus said “What a generation! No sense of God! How many times do I have to go over these things? How much longer do I have to put up with this? Bring the boy here.”
Andrew took Enoch by the hand and led him to the Master.
The demon in my boy did his worst. He slammed him to the ground with no warning whatsoever. He pushed him right into a nearby fire. He convulsed and foamed and moaned, teeth grinding and eyes wild.
Jesus asked, “How long has this been going on?”
“Ever since he was a little boy,” I replied. “Many times it pitches him into fire or the river to do away with him. If you can do anything, do it. Have a heart and help us!”
Jesus’s eyes looked eager. “If?” He responded. “There are no ‘ifs’ among believers. Anything can happen.”
That brought me up short. “I do believe;” I blurted, but then I wondered if I did, so I added, “Help me with my doubts!”
I think the crowd knew something big was about to happen because they started to press in. Some just realizing that Jesus was back, others hearing the conversation. Everyone wanting to see what He would do.
“Dumb and deaf spirit, I command you—Out of him, and stay out!” Jesus spoke directly to the spirit who had tormented my son—my whole family—for the last eight years.
Enoch cried out, lifted off the ground and then fell back down with a thud. This time not rigid, as in times past, but more like a rag doll, begin tossed away. He lay there for what seemed an eternity. The crowd started murmuring.
“He killed the boy.”
Jesus walked over to Enoch, leaned down and grabbed his hand and pulled. At that moment, Enoch’s eyes opened, the color came back into his face. He nearly bounced up off the ground. With his hand in the hand of the Healer, he looked more alive than he had since the evil first took him. The joy was back in his eyes, the joy of a child with a future.
The two days traveling home seemed like a dream to both of us. In every village, at every meal, we shared our story with everyone we met. We were not just witnesses to a miracle. We were changed by our short visit with Jesus. His Words changed my boy and turned my hope into an unshakable faith.
My Havah could hardly believe her eyes. One look at Enoch’s countenance told the whole story. My son was bound, but now his chains are gone. His captivity is over. He’s free!
Messiah truly has come in our day.
To read the original story, see Mark 9:15-30. Quotes come from the Message Bible.
Back when I was in 5th or 6th grade the girls got pulled out of class to watch a movie called “It’s Fun Being a Woman,” or something like that. It’s a change-of-life movie about beginning menstruation. Oops. Should I have had a disclaimer for all of you eating breakfast? Sorry. It’s okay because this post isn’t about that movie – although I’m still trying to understand why that makes it fun to be a woman!
What we should consider making is a change-of-life movie about how fun it is to be a Christian. Seriously, we should make ourselves a movie to show the world how much fun we have.
Oh I see. It would be too boring, wouldn’t it?
There wouldn’t be any murder, there wouldn’t be any thievery, or any illicit love affairs. Heavens, we wouldn’t even spend the extra bucks to make it into 3-D ~ and that’s a real shame because I dig those glasses.
Instead we’d just show a big fat community of believers singing and dancing with indescribable joy! All that faith, gorgeous poignant times of prayer, all those blessings being poured out, scads of miracles happening everywhere you look, and a soundtrack featuring great worship music from a host of spirit-filled singers …
Hmm … Good times.
Wait a minute. That whole paragraph is just a fantasy, isn’t it?
Or is it?
Who’s in the cast? We have our hero in Jesus and our antagonist in Satan. The Father is the Director and we are the supporting cast.
Dang it. It’s already been done. We are living our movie.
But wait. The script’s not old, don’t we write new pages to this story every day?
Scene: Felecia sits down at her computer and prays briefly before typing.
It was a dark and stormy night …
We just need to make sure we’re writing the right story – making the best movie we can. Check out this Scripture from 1 Peter:
So then, since Christ suffered physical pain, you must arm yourselves with the same attitude he had, and be ready to suffer, too. For if you have suffered physically for Christ, you have finished with sin. You won’t spend the rest of your lives chasing your own desires, but you will be anxious to do the will of God. You have had enough in the past of the evil things that godless people enjoy – their immorality and lust, their feasting and drunkenness and wild parties, and their terrible worship of idols. Of course, your former friends are surprised when you no longer plunge into the flood of wild and destructive things they do. So they slander you. But remember that they will have to face God, who will judge everyone, both the living and the dead. ~ 1 Peter 4:1-5 (NLT)
Isn’t that wonderful? I know you don’t want to think about the suffering that Peter starts with but in verse 2 when he says: You won’t spend the rest of your lives chasing your own desires, but you will be anxious to do the will of God. Every time I read that line, I smile. It completely reminds me of where I was when Jesus captured me and made me His own. When I surrendered to Him I almost turned on a dime and stopped doing what I was doing because I’d read a lot of the Bible and already knew that God didn’t like it.
I immediately got anxious to do the will of God and I wanted to shake off the old me and put on the new me of Christ.
So what is to be our movie’s plot?
Let’s look to Peter’s first verse. I know he is talking about suffering persecution and we in America are beginning to get glimpses of what that might look like. But as a Christian, how can I feel like I’m suffering when I look at all those people who have not been born again in Christ and who are really, truly, suffering?
They fill their lives with alcohol and drugs trying to erase the pain they feel. They throw their bodies to anyone who shows a bit of interest trying desperately to find the love they are missing. They chase after false gods that epitomize their idea of being successful; trying to feel like they are someone, like they’ve made something of themselves, like they have a purpose in life . . . and missing the point of life entirely.
I know. I was there. I was empty and tried to fill myself up with whatever I could.
But we know that without Christ Jesus as their Savior they will never be able to do it. They will never find that peace and they will continue to agonize.
Now that’s sad. That’s pain. That is suffering.
Let’s live our Christianity out loud and in full view of everyone. Let’s tell someone about the Good News today. Let’s pray for those who don’t yet know Christ. Let’s show them the script that can help them on the road toward a life with Christ. Let’s fulfill our commission.