Archive for October, 2012

In Mark 5 we read a narrative that is perhaps one of the best stories in Scripture to tell right near Halloween.  It is about a man that is certifiably nuts.  This guy lives in a graveyard among the tombs and is completely out of control.

We are told that this man ran around screaming day and night.  In fact he was such a disturbance that the people from the village nearby sought to chain him up.  They were even successful at times.  They placed chains on him and with incredible strength this man just destroyed the chains.  He snapped them off and ran away.  Nobody could control him.  He was in a fact a lost cause.  I believe, after a while the people gave up on the man.  They realized that he could not be controlled.  He was violent, strong and scary.  They just left him alone.  He was destined to die alone in his home by the tombs.

Then Jesus showed up.  He saw this man not as a lost cause.  He saw this man who had real issues.  He saw this man as someone that had real concerns.  He saw this as a man that did not need to be chained up but needed to be released from his own personal bondage.  He saw a man that needed someone to look at him and recognize him as a person who had real value rather than someone that was just a bother.  He was not screaming just to annoy but was screaming out of a very real agony from internal torment that could not be seen.  Jesus saw the real story.  The story that others had failed to see.

We find a very odd thing occur when Jesus entered into conversation with this man.  The man was demon possessed and the demons had a conversation with Jesus.  They made a request of Jesus and Jesus agreed to their request.  These demons asked that Jesus upon casting them out of the crazy man, would allow them to go into a local herd of pigs.

Well, Jesus said, be my guest.  At that moment the demons that indwelt the man left.  They entered into the pigs.  Immediately a stampede occurred.  The pigs ran off the edge of a cliff and fell to their death.  We are told that the total number of pigs that fell of the cliff and died numbered 2,000.  This is often the part of the story that confuses me.  I understand Jesus freeing a man from demon possession but why follow requests from demons?  How does this glorify God?

Something happened after the pigs all died.  The man who was supposed to be watching the herd of pigs panics.  He ran as fast as he could to the nearby village and tells them what has occurred.  The villagers cannot believe their ears.  We are told the entire village showed up to the scene of this mass pig tragedy (no they didn’t bring a hambulance).  They showed up to see the pig carnage.  They showed up to see a calm man that was known for screaming and intense strength.  Even more importantly, they showed up to see Jesus; the man responsible.  So why did Jesus agree to the request of demons?  Well, I think that the demons may have viewed it as an opportunity to ruin the livelihood of some (the pig farmers).  Yet Jesus saw it as an opportunity for free press.  If the pigs had never died.  The entire village never would have showed up to to witness the power of Jesus.  Unbeknownst to him, the caretaker of the herd became a missionary.

While, I would love to say that the villagers encounter with Jesus led to a hillside revival, I cannot.  The people actually begged Jesus to leave.  Yet this was not until after some witnesses told them how Jesus had rescued the demon possessed man.

Well, once again, Jesus agreed.  He did not stay to preach.  He decided to leave.  Before he left the man he had freed begged Jesus to let him go with him.  Jesus told him no.  He wanted him to go back to the village and tell people how his life had been changed.

I imagine this must have been a frustrating moment for the man.  Jesus had freed him from internal chains and the people he had been told to go home to had put real chains on him.  They had viewed him as a man who had no value and had given up on him.  Yet Jesus said, that is your mission field.  Why?  Because a changed life demands attention!  This man had the opportunity to use his changed life as a platform to proclaim the grace of Christ!

Let us not forget, that man represents us.  We had nothing to offer but Christ freely extended His grace and changed our lives.  Now we have a story.  The power of a changed life is undeniable.  Yet as a believer my message is not to be, look how I changed but rather look what Christ did for me!

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I wish I was more like my son Daniel. Daniel is my 3, soon to be 4, year old son. He is a one of the great joys of my life. He has an infectious smile and shares my bizarre sense of humor. We spend many hours laughing and playing together.

Because Daniel is my youngest child (and our last), I look at him much differently. I do little kid things with him that I will never again do with his older siblings. It would be a bold faced lie to say that I am not going to greatly miss having a young child in my house when they are all grown up. You just can’t beat the hugs, the I love you’s and the sticky peanut butter kisses of a young child.
Now that Daniel is getting bigger, he desires to be more independent. Even when I desire that he still act like my baby. There are times when we are out running errands that I will reach down and pick him up only to be told, “I am a big boy, I want to walk.” So I let him walk. What I have found though is that if this occurs in a large facility such as the local Walmart, he will eventually hit his limit. His short legs tire out quicker than the other four members of his family and usually at some point he will stop, look up at me, reach out his arms and say, “Daddy can you carry me?”

Do you know what I do, I pick him up. The result of me picking him up are obvious, but I will state them nonetheless: When I pick them up, he is able to rest. When I pick him up, he is able to go further than he could ever go on his own. When I pick him up, he is safer in daddy’s arms than he is by himself (some of those people in Walmart are scary). When I pick him up, I am able to help him see things he would otherwise miss on his own.

At home my children seem to have an obsession of touching the ceiling in the kitchen. Yet, they cannot do it without daddy picking them up and holding them up in the air. They then experience the blessing of doing something they cannot do on their own.

In one of my favorite verses in the Bible Jesus says, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11.28). Perhaps you to should be more like Daniel. Recognize what your limits are and learn to ask the Lord for His help so you can go further, so you can rest, so you can be safer and so you can do things that are not even possible on your own.