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Saturday, November 29, 2008

One Scary Dude

Luke 8:35  “…and the people came out to see what had happened.  When they came to Jesus, and found the man from whom the demons had gone out sitting at his feet clothed and in his right mind, they were afraid.”


What were the people afraid off?  Were they afraid of the site of the dead pigs?  Were they afraid of the Right Minded Mad Man?  Were they afraid of what they didn’t understand?  Were they afraid of being out of control?  Were they afraid of Jesus?


It could have been the dead pigs.  Luke 8:34 records that the men “…took to their heels and carried the news to the town and country side…”  However, they returned to see the spectacle.  When I’m afraid, I don’t come back to the thing that scares me, I try to put distance between me and it. I don’t think they were terribly afraid of the dead pigs.


It could have been the Right Minded Mad Man.  Luke records in 8:29 that the Towns’ people had tried to secure him with chains and fetters only to have the Mad Man break them.  That’s pretty scary.  But Luke goes on to say that the Mad Man ran away, not the people.  So I don’t think it was the Mad Man.


It could have been that they didn’t understand and were out of control.  They reviewed the eyewitness accounts of the encounter.  Luke says in 8:37, “Then the whole population of the Gerasene district was overcome by fear…”.  However, their next action I believe identifies the object of their fear.


Luke records in 8:37 that the people were “…overcome by fear…”.  I don’t know about you, but I try to get away from the things that make me afraid.  I think these people did too.  They “…asked Jesus to go away.”


What is scary about Jesus?  We see the renderings of him sitting with the children.  We see the pictures of him beaten and on a cross or with arms out stretched.  He sure doesn’t look scary in those pictures.  In Luke 8:28, the Mad Man cried out and fell at Jesus’ feet.  He shouted “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?...I implore you, do not torment me.”  As you read on in verse 30, Jesus asks “What is your name?”.  The demons reply “Legion.”  The text says that there were a large number of demons that had possessed the man.  It also says they “begged” Jesus not to banish them to the abyss.  Read in James 2:19, James talks about us having faith and believing that there is one God.  He goes on to say that even the demons have faith like that and it makes them tremble.  James could have been referring to this encounter or any number of other encounters between Jesus and demons.  They were afraid of Jesus because they know their fate and they know who will judge them.  Jesus.


I submit the thing that makes Jesus scary is the realization of who He is and the realization you, we, I may be at odds with Him.  That was the demons’ issue.  The Towns’ people didn’t want what Jesus had for them.  Portions of our governments, our education system, our social organizations don’t want Jesus anywhere near them.  They fight to ban Him, to bind Him, to bury Him.  If He (and the Gospel) weren’t scary, why fight it so hard?  Why “…ask Him to leave…”?


In the Gospel of John (3:16), it says that God was motivated by love for us in sending Jesus.  He (Jesus) came not to judge the world but to save it (John 3:17).  In 1st John 4, John tells us that God is the source of love.  Those who love God know Him.  Those who don’t know Him don’t love Him.  John goes on to say that in “…perfect love there is no fear.  For fear has to do with punishment…”.


If you find Jesus scary, if you find yourself trying to avoid Him, hide from Him, or from those who represent Him, ask yourself “Why?”.   The Bible says that it most likely is a reaction to knowledge, planted within you from your creation, that there is a God, that He is going to judge the world, and that at the moment, you are on the wrong side of the “court room”.  You can move from defendant to witness for the prosecution simply by accepting the who, what, and why of Jesus.  The who…Son of God.  The what…Savior of mankind.  The why…because of our sin and inevitable judgment to come.


I challenge you to change your relationship with Jesus from one of fear to one of love.  Those are the only two positions available.  I’ll be happy to interact with you if you have questions and will rejoice with you if you have moved from foe to friend of God through “one scary dude”…Jesus!


7:20 am est 

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Right Minded Mad Men

The Bible records the religious leaders of Jesus day and the people who were skeptical asking Jesus to perform a "sign", some miracle that will "prove" to them that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God.  Something like curing a deranged mad man who couldn't be controlled. 


This need for a “sign” is also evidence of our sinful nature (Refer to previous post-“Dead Pigs”).  It points to viewing ourselves as a god.  The basic assumption is that if we see some evidence, we will be able to understand and then can believe.  It assumes that God can be grasped by the human mind.  If God is infinite, all knowing, all powerful, ever present, and eternal, there is no way we can get our minds around Him.  That is why it requires faith.  That is why the skeptics remain skeptical and fear God and all He stands for.  They can't control him.


In the Luke passage (Luke 8:26-39), the demons (who were possessing and causing the madness in the man in the story) initiated contact with Jesus.  They knew who He was (Son of God).  They knew He loved man.  They knew their ultimate fate (destruction).  They knew His command meant they would have to comply.  It is interesting to me how much we have in common with these demons and how far ahead they are of us in some ways.  Follow me…  They initiated contact with Jesus.  They recognized Him for who He is.  Do we?  They knew He loved man.  Do you know Jesus loves you?  They knew their ultimate fate (destruction) and that it was inescapable for them.  Do you know your fate?  It could be destruction right along with the demons of Hell.  It could also be salvation and eternity with God if you (we) will recognize and accept Jesus as our Savior.  The demons know there was not alternative but to obey Jesus command.  I pray we would be as “compelled” to obey, that our faith would be great enough to not question but to comply.


Notice that as soon as the demons left the man, he was in his right mind.  Paul writes in Romans 12:2, that we are transformed by the renewing of our minds.  Once the lies of Satan were removed from the Mad Man, everything about him changed and he wanted to follow Jesus and willingly obeyed Jesus.


This is available for us.  If you have yet to acknowledge Jesus for who He is and accept Him as our Savior, you can.  It is a sincere conversation between you and God.  The Bible also tells us to confess Jesus with our mouth.  You need to tell someone when you accept Jesus. (It would be an honor to get your “confession” if you want to tell me.)  The Bible also says you need to be baptized as a symbol of what has taken place.  Here to, I’d be happy to help you.


If you are already a believer in Jesus and have accepted Him as your Savior, realize that the lies of Satan may still plague you.  Renewing our minds and purging ourselves of the lies of Satan is an ongoing effort.  He (Satan) doesn’t give up just because we believe in Jesus.  He (Satan) continues to plague us and lie to us.  Unfortunately, we have a tendency to listen as well.  This is why we need to maintain a spiritual hygiene.  Regular reading of God’s Word, praying, being in community with other believers is essential to the health of a disciple of Jesus Christ.  Forgiveness from God (through Jesus) gets us “in the door”.  Discipleship teaches us how to live in the Kingdom of Heaven.


I pray you will join me as a “Right Minded Mad Man” (or “Woman”).  Without Jesus, we’re all hopelessly lunatic and headed for destruction.  But (with thanks and praise to God) because of Jesus, we can be “righted” and reunited with God.

8:03 am est 

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Dead Pigs (Post 3 of 6 in a series)

The Bible calls Satan a destroyer, a murderer, and a liar.  This is part 3 of “What Did You Come To See”.  In Luke 8:26-39, we read about a legion of demons who had possessed a man.  These demons are to Satan what angels are to God.  They are the messengers.  They carry out the mission and messages of their master.  In this case, they were destroying, murdering, and lying to this man in the Gerasenes.  When the demons were confronted by Jesus, several things happened of note…

1.       They recognized Jesus;

2.       They asked not to be destroyed by Jesus (but asked to be sent into a herd of pigs);

3.       They obeyed Jesus (He gave them permission).

In giving the demons permission to go to a herd of pigs, they continued to carry out the mission of their master, Satan, and destroyed the herd of pigs.  After the herdsmen watched their pigs run into the lake and drown, they ran to town to tell the towns folk what had happened.  The people came running.


In observing human behavior, we like a tragedy.  We like the crash in auto racing.  We like to slow down and peer into the scene of an accident.  We will crowd around the scene of a disaster.  We like to SEE destruction.  This is a proof point of our human nature.  As Adam's off spring, we carry the seeds of sin and separation from God which means we are servants of the Ruler of this world... Satan.  We like to see his handiwork... destruction, death, deception (as long as it isn’t us).  We are like some of the people who ran out to see what had happened in the Gerasenes.  They weren’t interested in the right minded mad man.  They weren’t interested in Jesus.  They wanted to see the “train wreck”, the dead pigs.

One of the lies Satan tells us is that Jesus isn’t there and that He (Jesus) isn’t for us.  We see the “dead pigs” and look for someone to blame.  We are blinded by the lies of Satan and can’t even see what the demons saw,  Jesus, the Son of God.  Instead, we see on a physical plane and miss the spiritual realities.  Instead, we interpret from our perspective (deluded by the lies of Satan), and fear the One who can transform us and give us a “Right Mind” (more on that next week).


What are the “dead pigs” (the destruction and lies of Satan at work around you) in your life?  Can you see the spiritual realities or do you see just on the physical plane and only from your perspective?  Where are you missing the Son of God to watch the handiwork of Satan?

6:54 am est 

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Part 2: Setting the Stage

Luke records an event in the country of the Gerasenes.  We are told (Luke 8:26-39) that the Gerasenes are opposite from Galilee (Northeastern shore of Israel).  This is inland across Lake Gennesaret.  The north end of the Jordan basin.  It is an encounter Jesus had with a demon posessed mad man and the community he lived in.  Please feel free to read the story in Luke 8:26-39.

Jesus met the demons posessing this man.  In short they asked that Jesus not destroy them but send them into a herd of pigs.  Jesus did.  The pigs ran in the lake and drown.  As a result, the herdsmen went into town and told the people what they had witnessed.  Luke says "...the people came out to see what had happened."  He goes on to record what they saw.  They saw Jesus.  They saw a former mad man in his right mind seated by Jesus.  We're not told this but my guess is many of them came to see a bunch of dead pigs.

What do you see in the who of this story? 

I see in the "people" a picture of myself.  When the "events" happen in your life that draw you "our to see what had happened", I have a tendency to take inventory and intepret things in the context of my understanding (at least initially).  I want to define the motives of those involved.  I want to determine the value of what took place (labeling things "good" or "bad").  In some cases I want to jump in and "fix" things.  This is the point where I am challenged by this story.  I don't always see things "as they are".  I see what I see.  I don't see what God sees.  I sometimes don't see Jesus for who he is in the "event".  I see things and call them tragic when in fact they may be blessings.  I see things that defy reason and question the reality and sincerity of what ever it is.  This is me.

Jesus is who he is... always.  I wonder if we see him for who he is, as he is.  Do I (we) see him as Savior, Redeemer, Restorer, Sovereign Lord, Commander of all things, Lover of Man?  Do I (we) see him as a destoryer of "my posessions"?  Do I (we) see him as a disruption to "my life", "my day", "my plans"? 

The Right Minded Mad Man and the drowned pigs represent things that I can't explain.  There are events and circumstances that defy reason or at least defy my ability to explain them or interpret them.  That isn't to say that I don't try.  I do.  In fact, I'm arrogant enough to think I can interpret almost every event in my life.  In this, I am playing God and behaving as if I possess all the knowledge and power to control not only my life but the lives of all those connected to and through me.  Forgive me for saying so, but that is just ignorant.

I don't and can't understand enough of life. Let alone understand it from God's perspective.  Consequently, my interpretation of the "events" and the "players" is flawed.  This is why I need to spend time getting to know God, working to understand better what matters to Him, how He sees things, how He values things.  This is also why I need others around me who love God and whose objectivity help me see Jesus and the "events" as God intends them.

Whether it is an election, a "bad" day at the office, circumstances, or whatever, God is the only one who can truly understand them and put them in proper context.  Don't try to compete with God in being God, in interpreting life and the "events" of life.  Seek to understand it from God's perspective and when things don't make sense, trust that He is Sovereign, in control, and a Lover of Man... a lover of you!

11:25 am est 

Saturday, November 1, 2008

What Did You Come To See? (Part 1)
I asked a question of myself and our Home Church recently..."What did you see this week?".  We saw events, people, things, and emotions.  Jesus told his disciples (Matthew 6:22-23) that our eyes are the "lamp of the body".  If we see soundly, our whole body will have light.  If we see bad-ly (poorly), our whole body will be in darkness. 

My last post talked about how our perspective influences what we see.  This verse in Matthew tells us we can interpret what is on our inside by "what" we see.  If we "see" from God's perspective, if we see through the eyes of love, if we see in line with the truth of God's Word, our bodies will be in light (or enlightened).  If we "see" from this world's perspective, if we see in fear, if we try to be our own source of interpretation and understanding, if we are wise in our own eyes, we will be in the dark (darkened).  We will be groping about for meaning, for purpose, for methods, for anything and everything to fill the void in our lives.

If this doesn't define our present age, we arent' paying attention.
Over the next 5 posts, I want to unfold a passage found in the book of Luke (Chapter 8; Verses 26-39). These posts will help us understand "how" we see the world we live in and how we can move from darkness to light.  I pray you will follow along and share these posts with your friends and in group discussions.  Here is our outline...

1.  Setting the stage. 
The where, what, who of the story.  This will help us understand the roles at work in our lives and the roles that we can play in the lives of others.

2.  Dead Pigs.
A proof point of our nature and what it reveals about us.

3.  Right Minded Mad Men.
More insight into our nature and a glimpse into the nature of God.

4.  One Scary Dude.
How Jesus is seen and by whom.

5.  A Chance to Respond.
What are our likely responses when we encounter a God moment.

What do you see?  Feel free to write to me and share your insights, questions, and concerns.
8:36 am edt 

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