Deliverance (Luke 8:26-39)

 

Charles Spurgeon (d. 1892), known as the “Prince of Preachers,” pastored Metropolitan Tabernacle in London, England for 38 years. As a master communicator, Spurgeon told many modern day parables. One of his parables was about a tyrant and a blacksmith. It went like this:

There was once a tyrant who ordered one of his subjects into his presence, and ordered him to make a chain. The poor blacksmith—that was his occupation—had to go to work and forge the chain. When it was done he brought it into the presence of the tyrant, and he was ordered to take it away and make it twice the length. He brought it again to the tyrant, and again he was ordered to double it. Back he came when he had obeyed the order, and the tyrant looked at it, and then commanded the servants to bind the man hand and foot with the chain he had made and cast him into prison.

Pastor Spurgeon would tell this story and then say, “This is what the devil does with man. He makes them forge their own chain, and then binds them hand and foot with it, and casts them into outer darkness.”[1]
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What if…

I think I am going to write a series of short posts called “What if…” By “series” I mean this could be the only article, or I might write more. It really depends on how I feel. That’s the cool thing about blogging. You only write when you want write. The idea behind this series (if I decide to right it) is to take verses from the Bible and ask the question, “What if the bible really meant what it said,” and then apply that verse to topics that are going on in society.

So, let’s try it out: The Apostle Paul wrote, “(Do you not realize that) God’s kindness leads you to repentance? (Romans 2:4, the parenthesis is added to help with context). What if Paul really meant that God’s kindness leads to repentance?

I guess we should back up and put this verse in context. Beginning in Romans 1:18, Paul talks about the wrath of God being revealed because of people’s wickedness. (Since we are people, Paul is talking about our wickedness.) He states that our wickedness leads us to suppress the truth. He goes on to state that no one has an excuse for not acknowledging God because God has revealed Himself through creation. Yet, even though God tried to make Himself known, our pride has caused us to rebel against Him, and as a result, God has given us over to our own sinful desires, shameful lusts, and depraved minds. Part of this wickedness, Paul says, is homosexuality. But part of this wickedness is also envy and slander and arrogance. (If you read the entire context you will find a wickedness that you have been a part of, thus, “all have sinned,” Rom. 3:23.) Because of our wickedness (all of us are equally wicked), God has every right to pass judgment on us, and His judgment is “based on truth” (Rom. 2:2). On the other hand, our judgment of others is not based on truth, regardless of how religious we think you are! Paul writes, “So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment?” (Rom. 2:3). In other words, when you condemn homosexuality, or judge people who struggle with sexual identity, while at the same time being guilty of strife, deceit, malice, gossip (ouch!), slander, arrogance, and pride, you are showing “contempt for the richest of (God’s) kindness, tolerance and patience” (Rom. 2:4). (Again, if you have not, go back and read Romans 1:18-32, especially vv. 28-32.)

God has every right to judge you! God has every right to judge me. God would be just in sending you and me to hell, right now! We are without excuse! But instead of judging us, God has shown us grace and patience and tolerance and kindness. It was God’s kindness, not His wrath, that brought you and me to a place of repentance! Likewise, His kindness, not His wrath (nor our judgmental attitudes) is what will lead others to repentance.

Now, let’s be honest with ourselves. Over the last several days, has the world seen kindness, or venom, expressed toward Target and people who are truly struggling with sexual identity? Has the world seen kindness or bigotry spewed by people, who themselves, have been saved by the kindness of God?

If we really believed that Paul really meant what he said about God’s kindness, should we not also be kind? If we truly believe the Bible to be God’s Word, should we not allow it to dictate how we act and react in a secular/humanistic society?

What if Paul really meant it when he said God’s kindness leads to repentance?

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Loneliness

“Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted” (Psalm 25:16).

By nature, I am an introvert. I can spend large amounts of time alone, lost (yet content) in my own thoughts. One of the advantages of being introverted is that your self-image is not dependent on the applause or apathy of others. Introverts tend to be self-motivated. In other words, introverts do what they want to do regardless of what others are doing or what others say they should do. This can be positive when the introvert is also self-disciplined. But it has negative consequences if the introvert lacks discipline and is lazy. Also, introverts are not afraid to think outside the box. Introverts can be great problem solvers. Introverts can have incredible imaginations and can be extremely creative. But often, introverts are afraid to share their thoughts and ideas and creativity with other people, opting instead, to keep to themselves. Continue reading

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It’s a Wrestling Match, Not a Tea Party (Ephesians 6:12)

Martin Luther was a Catholic priest and German theologian who died in 1546. Before his death, he challenged the extravagances, indulgences,[1] and corruptions of Catholicism, becoming a seminal figure in the Protestant Reformation.[2] Since childhood, by his own admission, Luther was pestered by demons. Later in his life, these attacks increased. Luther believed it was evil spirits that caused him to struggle with depression and wild mood swings. According to legend, late one evening (or early one morning) as Luther was in his study translating the Bible into the German language, the devil visited him and harassed him. In righteous indignation, Luther took his ink well and threw it at Satan. Luther’s study is now part of a museum. For hundreds of years the ink stain remained visible. Now, the stain is marked by a hole in the wall. Continue reading

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Mental Illness is Real, But So is Demonic Activity (Luke 8:26-29)

It’s been more than twenty-years, but I remember it like it was yesterday.

Unannounced, she walked into my office after being awake for more than 72-hours and binging on an assortment of drugs. She was in her late twenties. She came to church sporadically. Members of her family attended regularly. She looked a mess. Now, coming down from her high, she wanted to chat. I invited her in and we sat around a table to talk.

At first her thoughts were scattered and I had a hard time keeping up. She told me about her difficult upbringing. An upbringing that included sexual abuse as a child and dabbling’s in the occult as a teenager. She started drinking in Junior High and started doing drugs in High School. Growing up she attended church occasionally, mainly with her grandparents. Her grandfather was a pastor and had baptized her as a child. As an adult she struggled with depression, anorexia, self-esteem, and addictions. She was ready for a change but did not know what to do. Continue reading

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Some Storms are Worse than Others (Luke 8:22-25)

It’s springtime in Middle Tennessee. A time of beautiful flowers, budding trees, fresh grass shavings, wonderful weather, and allergies. Oh! The allergies!

Spring is also a time for thunderstorms and tornadoes. According to the Tornado Project website, Tennessee ranks number one in the United States for the percentage of “killer tornadoes.” Texas leads the nation in the shear number of deadly tornadoes, but Tennessee, based on percentages, has a higher likelihood of having deadly tornadoes.

You are welcome.

Sleep well tonight. Continue reading

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It’s a Matter of the Heart (Luke 8:1-15)

Rumors about a miracle worker from Nazareth have been swirling around the city for weeks. Some said He was crazy. Others believed He was the Messiah. The religious leaders claimed He was possessed by a demon. But no one doubted the miracles He performed. A paralyzed man was able to walk, insane people were cured of their evil spirits, the blind received their site, and all kinds of sick people were made well.

All that He did verified His message that the kingdom of God was at hand. While everyone was welcome to listen and respond to His teachings, Jesus’ target audience was the poor and the marginalized. One thing that made Him different from the other prophets of the day was His respect for women, and their respect for Him. Among His followers were “women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; Joanna the wife of Cuza, the manger of Herod’s household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means(Luke 8:2-3). Rabbis usually didn’t even talk to women. Yet, this Rabbi has women as some of His closest followers. Continue reading

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