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Posts Tagged ‘demons’

my storyJesus rarely encouraged anyone to share their miracle stories, most likely to avoid the rumor mill and the masses looking to be healed physically but missing the spiritual context. And yet, specifically, the demon-possessed Gerasene, who wanted to become a disciple and follow Jesus was told to return home and tell his story.

The man from whom the demons had gone begged to come along with Jesus as one of his disciples. Jesus sent him away, saying,  “Return home and tell the story of what God has done for you.” [Luke 8:38-39a, CEB]

Apparently, Gerasa (although there is some controversy about the area where this exorcism took place), was a pagan region. When Jesus exorcised Legion (or the many demons), that evil entity asked to be sent into a herd of swine instead of directly into the Abyss. Although Jesus obliged, it is generally understood when the swine then raced over a cliff, that it represented the demon’s demise as well. They Abyss was their rightful “home.” At the same time, the swine herders raced back to the city to tell of of this event–not the wonder of the exorcism and the healing of the man, but the loss of their herds and their violent deaths. These men created an atmosphere of fear around the work of Jesus. When the crowd showed up, they came in dread, afraid of the next “miracle” and asked Jesus to leave them. They did not doubt that Jesus was powerful, they did not want to know how powerful.

And for this reason, I believe, the man who was healed was asked to stay and counter the stories. Only his own words would have the potential to influence others. His testimony could not be denied and the point of the miracle could be re-focused.

Each of us can only tell our own story.

There is an Australian comedian/musician and skeptic who has made quite a stir and made a lot of money mocking believers as well as “New Agers” but I think it’s primarily because of second, third and fourth hand stories (my cousin blah blah blah, etc.). He symbolizes many people in our world who see no reason for faith or the supernatural.

For this reason, I encourage each person to know and tell his/her own story, not the “teachings” or hearsay or Bible stories, just one’s own experience and how faith in God, in Christ, in Spirit manifested. In the end, that is all we have, this personal witness. It’s enough.

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miraclesA man in the crowd called out, “Teacher, I beg you to look at my son, for he is my only child ” . . . Even while the boy was coming [toward Jesus], the demon threw him to the ground in a convulsion. But Jesus rebuked the impure spirit, healed the boy and gave him back to his father. And they were all amazed at the greatness of God. [Luke 9:38; 42-43]

Oh, I know. It’s uncomfortable to talk about demons, the devil, miracles, and all that stuff outside our normal understanding of how stuff works. Some people can’t even stand the word “evil” as though excluding it from one’s vocabulary will make it non-existent.

And yet, I contend, if we have accepted any part of the Christ story, we must be willing to consider the reality of the other parts. In other words, there are ways that our lives can and are impacted outside of a three-dimensional world. There is a spirit world and within it, forces move in a way that we may not understand, but that does not mean they don’t exist.

In recent weeks, I was instructed by a doctor to read a book about the importance of the mind in regards to pain in my body. It’s not that the pain isn’t real, it’s that the pain is camouflage of other things going on and the mind, can indeed, intercept it. But I must be aware of this possibility before anything can happen differently. And I’m thinking miracles fall within this category, we have to have knowledge and acceptance of the possibility. This is the groundwork for healing. This is the groundwork for transformation.

It’s not important to know the “how,” but simply to surrender to the power of God to do.

What is even more interesting is that Christ empowers believers to do the same for others. Whoa! Prior to Jesus meeting up with the father and the demon-possessed boy, a few of the disciples had been given a crack at it. Nada. There was still a disconnect. This story is actually told in three of the gospels (Mark 9:37-45 and Matthew 17:14-23) and Jesus explains that both faith and prayer are the cornerstones of miracles. Not faith in ourselves, but faith in the God who has the power to do (or not do).

Of course, there is another truth I’m seeing in this passage. I know that miracles are wonderful, particularly for the suffering human. But I don’t believe that miracles happen for the sake of the person. They have to be within God’s purposes, God’s scope, God’s plan. That may sound harsh, but let’s be honest, if it were otherwise, ALL would be healed. We are not all healed. Sometimes the human journey is full of heartache, illness, poverty, and sorrow. I don’t understand that any more than the next person.

So, what is my role? Do I ask for the miracle or not? Do I ask for the demon to be cast out or not? Do I ask for the healing or not?

One mistake in this asking process is to add the little insurance statement at the end, “if it be your will.” Well, that covers all the bases then, doesn’t it? I have a little back door when the healing doesn’t happen: must not have been God’s will. Yada, yada, yada. It doesn’t, however, do much for the faith angle though, does it?

So here’s the bottom line for me: “Don’t ask if I don’t believe it IS God’s will.” And if I don’t know, then don’t pray, because honestly, that’s perverse. That’s so maybe. It’s a disservice to my God who can heal and cast out demons in a moment. Silence is better. Prayer is better in private then, asking God for clarity and faith, courage and heart, vision and transparency. These then, would set the stage for God to work through me (or you).

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Do I do this? Do I participate, even unknowingly, in the rituals of the demonic? In the same way that idols are temptations, then couldn’t the foods that fuel evil be equally prevalent. It’s a type of consumerism and an attitude of entitlement.

I Corinthians 10:20-21a
. . . the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too . . .

I am not alone. We live in a culture of wanting it all.

The other day, I heard a talk show on WYPR Baltimore about the world’s dependence on oil (these conversations abound in the shadow of the BP gulf oil disaster). In this interview with Robert Bryce, author of Power Hungry, they talked about the unwillingness of the world’s consumers to stop using oil, which is comparatively cheap, relatively plentiful, and has the best energy density.

There are alternative energy sources, but none of them are as easy to glean from the earth. There would be a huge sacrifice to make this change and basically, the world’s population is unwilling to do it. Even with the new “green” initiatives, the transition will always be a painful one and most will not make the change willingly.

This is a drink we take every day. We drive fuel-hungry cars, we use plastics without a thought, we consume oil like candy. This drink has crept steadily into our lives and many can’t even see it.

Over the years, many people have pointed out how missionaries of the past have ruined cultures by imposing their belief systems on various native people around the world. And I cannot disagree. But I say, culturally, we are doing the same thing. We are introducing consumerism and dependence on oil. We are teaching them to “be like us.”

Oh yes, there is a price to pay when drinking with the demons of today.

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Acts 16:16b
… we [Paul and Silas] were met by a slave girl who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling.

This is the part that people miss: there are lots of powers in the world and people who can tap into those sources of power and use them (or abuse them).

Why else would this situation with the fortune teller cause concern? Why does Paul “cast out” the divining spirit from the girl? She was actually proclaiming the truth…. but something was amiss.

When I was younger, before I stepped into the waiting arms of a loving God, I was intrigued by all things supernatural. I pursued the entire spectrum of “experiences” from astral projection to channeling to communicating with the dead. I read books about the “point of power” and “creating my own reality.” I practiced. I didn’t just want to use magic, I wanted to be magic.

I suppose it’s a blessing I wasn’t very good at any of these things. I had an insatiable interest but no natural talent. In the end, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have turned to Christ if I had been more successful… if I could have “done it all” on my own. If I could have manipulated the world around me to satisfy my own dreams and schemes.

The major mistake people make with supernatural power is thinking they have the wisdom to use it. Like “Bruce Almighty,” folks end up acting like a children in a candy shop…. and ultimately, they over-eat and over-indulge with little understanding of the repercussions. Power used only for selfish ends becomes self-destructive. But of course, any person with that kind of power doesn’t see or believe it.

Personal power is rarely used with others in mind. Whatever power I was seeking was for myself. I wanted to use it to direct and control my life. I was not interested in helping, loving, or transforming the world around me except for personal gain. It was all about me. I wanted to be the center of my universe.

It is those with power, whether supernatural or circumstantial, who must submit their power to God. The more powerful the person, the more difficult it is to let go.

Here’s another trap I fell into: once I became a follower of Jesus, I also discovered there was a “Christian” version of power…. acts such as casting out demons, healing with a touch or a word, or prophesying the future. Can God use a person to broker these things? Sure. Is it real? Absolutely. But it is not intended that we seek power for itself. My call is to seek a deeper and more intimate relationship with God and Christ Jesus … power becomes a by-product. Power used without the wisdom and direction of God is no different from all that other supernatural stuff.

Oh yes, it’s real. And so are miracles. Who is the giver?

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