The Scariest Verse In The Bible

The Gerasene Chamber of Commerce would not have been happy. A man named Jesus and a few of his followers had just sailed to their shores. But before Jesus could get out of the boat all of the way and put his feet on the ground, the craziest man in town runs up to greet him.

This wasn’t what typically comes to mind when you think of some guy who’s a little off. This man didn’t walk around pushing a shopping cart talking to himself. His condition was more severe. The gospel writer Mark lets us know pretty early on why the man was so crazy. He was demon-possessed (Mark 5:2).

Mark gives some frightening details about this man who came to meet Jesus.

He lived among the tombs. And no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain, for he had often been bound with shackles and chains, but he wrenched the chains apart, and he broke the shackles in pieces. No one had the strength to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying out and cutting himself with stones. Mark 5:3-5 (ESV)

Mark is very graphic. The man standing before Jesus lived in a graveyard. People tried to contain him with chains but he kept breaking them. No one in town had the power to control this man. All throughout the day and night, he would scream and cut himself. It sounds like something from a Stephen King novel.

But none of those verses are the scariest one in the Bible.

The man begged Jesus for mercy. Most likely, the request was one part the man wanting relief from Satan’s torment and one part the demon not wanting to face the power of God. And then Jesus asked a strange question.

And Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “My name is Legion, for we are many.” Mark 5:9 (ESV)

A legion was a group of 6,000 Roman soldiers. Mark is not necessarily saying that this man was possessed by 6,000 demons but we can be sure that it was more than one. The man’s reply was something similar to, “We don’t have a name. We have 6,000 names.” So whether it was 100 demons or 6,000, let’s be honest, this was a scary situation.

But it’s still not the scariest verse in the Bible.

The demons begged to stay in the community before being cast out of the man. Strangely enough, Jesus granted their request. I told you that the Chamber of Commerce wouldn’t like this. The demons were sent into 2,000 pigs which they forced to run off of a cliff and into the sea. If you were the guy in charge of looking after those pigs that day, you were scared. If you happened to be fishing in sea when you saw 2,000 pigs jump off of a cliff and into a watery grave, you would have been scared too.

But still, those aren’t the scariest verses in the Bible.

The pig farmers couldn’t keep this news to themselves. They told the city folks and the country folks about what the strange visitor did to the town lunatic and their pigs. Sure enough, everyone came to see for themselves. Mark’s description of the town’s reaction to the changed man is very peculiar.

And they came to Jesus and saw the demon-possessed man, the one who had had the legion, sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid. Mark 5:15 (ESV)

This was the first time that the people in the town were ever described as being afraid. Mark never said that they were afraid when the demon-possessed man cut himself, screamed or broke chains. Only when they witness the transforming power of Jesus are the described as being afraid.

Even still, that’s not the scariest verse in the Bible.

But Mark 5:17 is.

And they began to beg Jesus to depart from their region. 

These folks never seemed to have a problem with the evil of up to 6,000 demons possessing one man. They never cried out in protest at the fact that those demons wanted to stay in their town once Jesus evicted them from their host. No, but when they encountered the holiness of God, they just couldn’t take it. So they asked Jesus to leave.

It is possible to excuse evil, ignore evil and indulge in evil to such a degree that evil becomes comfortable. Yes, even the most horrific evil. And when that happens, the only thing left to frighten us is the pure holiness of God.

The Gerasenes decided that day to reject the one truly good thing they had ever seen. Six thousand demons were welcomed in their town. The one true God was not. And that’s frightening.

The church is surrounded by evil. We live in a culture that promotes evil, funds evil and even goes so far as to call evil good. God doesn’t keep us here to blend in. Rather, he keeps us here to resist and expose evil.

As Jesus was leaving, the formerly demon-possessed man had an obvious request. He waned to go with Jesus. Wouldn’t you? But Jesus didn’t allow him to. It’s funny. He granted permission to the demons when they asked to go into the pigs but not to this new follower when he apparently wanted to be the 13th disciple. Why?

Jesus had a mission for the man who had just been made new. He wanted the man to tell others about God’s mercy. And no one can tell a story better than the person who it happened to. No one can lead others to marvel at God quite like a man who himself marvels at God.

Mark 5:17 is the most frightening verse in the Bible because it reminds us of how comfortable we can become with evil. It confronts head on our tendency to settle for some of the devil and none of Jesus. It shows us how similar the American church is to the people in that town. We are okay with Jesus from afar. But when he starts to contradict the evil that has grown so dear to us, we kindly ask him to leave.

In a lot of ways, I’m afraid that he has granted that request.

And that’s really scary.

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Four Things To Remember Before Fear Consumes You

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Christians are not immune to frightening situations. But we do not have to be consumed with fear. If you are in Christ, here are four things that are true for you. They were true on the day that you became a Christian. They’ll be true the day after the elections.

Your reasons to trust in God are greater than your reasons to fear man. 

To the choirmaster: according to The Dove on Far-off Terebinths. A Miktam of David, when the Philistines seized him in Gath.

Be gracious to me, O God, for man tramples on me;
all day long an attacker oppresses me;
my enemies trample on me all day long,
for many attack me proudly.
When I am afraid,
I put my trust in you.
In God, whose word I praise,
in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.
What can flesh do to me?

Psalm 56:1-4 (ESV)

God’s justice is greater than man’s schemes.

All day long they injure my cause;
all their thoughts are against me for evil.
They stir up strife, they lurk;
they watch my steps,
as they have waited for my life.
For their crime will they escape?
In wrath cast down the peoples, O God!

Psalm 56:5-7 (ESV)

The one who is for you is greater than the one who is against you.

You have kept count of my tossings;
put my tears in your bottle.
Are they not in your book?
Then my enemies will turn back
in the day when I call.
This I know, that God is for me.
In God, whose word I praise,
in the LORD, whose word I praise,
in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.
What can man do to me?

Psalm 56:8-11 (ESV)

The God who lifts you up is greater than the grave that holds you down. 

I must perform my vows to you, O God;
I will render thank offerings to you.
For you have delivered my soul from death,
yes, my feet from falling,
that I may walk before God
in the light of life.

Psalm 56:12-13 (ESV)

When you feel overwhelmed by the evil schemes of man, just look to the character of God.

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School Isn’t The Only Place Where The Satanists Have A Club

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They say that they don’t really worship Satan. He is, they tell us, just a symbol for their rational thought and atheism. All of that is just another way to say that they really do worship Satan. And now, they want to start a club in public schools. We were all shocked when we heard reports of this earlier in the week. That’s natural. But a deeper look reveals that we really shouldn’t be surprised that Satanists want to meet in public schools.

They’ve been meeting in our churches for years.

Satanism isn’t what you think it is. Sure, there’s an element out there that likes to sacrifice goats and drink blood while sitting around and listening to Slayer in the graveyard. But there’s another faction of Satanism that’s much harder to spot. As is usually the case with the devil’s schemes, this particular brand looks really good on the outside. To understand it better, we have to trace it back to its New Testament roots.

Things were changing in Jesus’ ministry. He was switching gears by talking to his disciples more and more about his death. For a group of people who were expecting their Master to be a mighty warrior sent to wipe out the Romans, this was absurd. So Peter pulled the Sovereign King of kings and Lord of lords over to the side to explain a few things to him. There would be no cross, Peter told him. But he didn’t just tell Jesus. He rebuked Jesus. No cross!

Jesus’ response is one of the most cutting in all of Scripture.

But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” Matthew 16:23 (ESV)

It’s one thing for Jesus to tell you that you’re missing the point. It’s quite another for him to call you Satan. That’s precisely what Jesus did to Peter. But why? We know that Jesus, the perfect God Man, never sinned so this wasn’t the result of a bad temper. Jesus’ rebuke was righteous, not sinful. Satan was working through Peter to tempt Jesus to avoid the cross. He had attacked Jesus with the same temptation face to face at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry without success (Matthew 4:1-11). Now he was giving it a another shot by using one of Jesus’ closest friends. The last thing Satan wanted was the crucifixion because he knew that it meant the beginning of the end for him.

When I was growing up, my church was always having these rock music seminars where we were taught what rock and roll bands were saying backwards in their songs. It was terrifying. And, to be honest, quite entertaining. The speakers at these seminars would always devote some time to showing us Satanic art work and hand symbols, the most common ones being the pentagram and upside down cross.

If we understand our Bibles correctly, it will be obvious that the symbol which best represents Satan is the invisible cross, not the upside down one. He can work just as easily through the eager church-goer as he can through the devout graveyard dweller. Just ask Peter. And his ultimate goal for both is the same. No cross. Since the cross has already happened, he’s now doing everything he can to turn our attention from it. A quick look at many of our churches reveals that he has been quite successful.

All of those backward masking seminars and record burnings in the 1980s were no threat to Satan. He’s okay with us getting rid of pentagrams, just as long as we don’t replace them with talk of the cross where Christ was crucified in obedience to his Father for the salvation of his people.

And today, Satan is okay with our large, relevant churches and small traditional churches just so long as none of those churches spends anytime preaching about, singing of and trying to live out the cross.

They may not be wearing black, hooded robes and slaughtering goats, but the Satanists are already in the churches. And, like Peter, these proponents of the sneaky brand of Satanism probably don’t even know what they’re spreading. But it doesn’t matter. Every Sunday school or small group lesson about becoming a better person and every sermon about taking your life to the next level or getting more money are what we might call the sacrament of the Satanic church – no cross.

No doubt, Christian groups will do what they can to try to keep the Satanists out of the public schools. They’ll file petitions and contact school board members. Perhaps, before that happens, Christians should address the Satanism in their own churches. After all, it’s hard to stand victoriously against the obvious brand of Satanism on Monday when we embrace the more subtle variety on Sunday.

Our victory will not be found in a court room or a school board meeting. It is found rather at the cross where Jesus won an eternal victory for his people.

We are, be definition, a people of the cross.

Anything less is simply Satanic.

And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him. Colossians 2:13-15 (ESV)

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The Summer Of Rage And The Trembling Of Satan

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Three more police officers had been murdered. Details were still coming in. I turned off the television and loaded my family up in my truck. As we drove, I thought about all of the violence that we have seen in our country this summer. That violence was the reason why I was driving with my family.

Last week our church decided to do something about the division in our country. We knew that we needed to pray but we didn’t want prayer to be the crutch that kept us from actually engaging the community. And we didn’t want to fall into the trap of writing angry Facebook posts in ALL CAPS and then patting ourselves on the back for “telling it like it is” or for not being politically correct as if that’s all the world needs.

So we decided to have a cookout. I know. What a shock. Baptists planning something involving food. Don’t judge. We had our cookout in a community that is mostly black and we invited the police. I was afraid when all of this was being planned. I was afraid that people wouldn’t show up. On the way over, I was afraid that the latest shooting in Baton Rouge would keep people away.

It didn’t.

I don’t know how many people came to our cookout. I do know that we prepared for 400 people and there weren’t a whole lot of leftovers when it was all over. And, when it was all over, I knew that I had just experienced one of the highlights of my pastoral career.

There were old white men who listen to Willie Nelson talking and eating and laughing with old black men who like to listen to Al Green.

There were white police officers throwing footballs and racing with little black kids.

There were high ranking members of my community’s police force making themselves available to answer tough questions.

Never once did I hear the phrases Black Lives Matter or Blue Lives Matter or All Lives Matter. No one said anything about Sean Hannity or Al Sharpton. People just ate. And laughed. And talked.

 

You know, the stuff we used to do a lot before we started getting our tribal marching orders from Fox News and CNN and our favorite talk radio host or blogger.

The world is an angry place. Tensions are high. Blood is spilling. And people are looking for someone to lead. The words used to describe Israel in the final verse of the book of Judges could very easily apply to America today.

In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes. Judges 21:25 (ESV)

Some people’s eyes tell them that killing police officers is the right thing. For others, it’s more angry, divisive rants, sometimes in the name of Jesus.

If ever there was a time for the Church to be what Jesus called us to be, it’s now. If all we ever do is pick sides in a divisive culture, all we’ll ever bring the culture is sugar and more darkness. Jesus calls us to be salt and light. When we are obeying his command, we care less about proving a point or electing our guy than we do loving our neighbor. And if you really want to love your neighbor, you have to go to your neighbor. I think that the Church forgets that sometimes.

But when the Church remembers that, I believe that Satan trembles. I know that in our highly advanced day and age, talk of the devil is seen as silly. I’ll tell you what’s silly. Watching people who don’t believe in the devil, or even evil for that matter, trying to look smart while failing to come up with an explanation for all of the bloodshed during this summer of rage is what’s really silly.

When the Church forgets that we wrestle not against flesh and blood or budget plans or house bills or political opponents but against “cosmic powers over this present darkness” and “spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12) it’s no wonder that we fail to have any influence in the world. Forget about losing the culture wars, we often lose the spiritual wars because we don’t even know that we’re in one.

Church, you must remember that your primary enemy is not the Black Lives Matter protestor or the police officer. Your opponent is the Thief who aims to steal and kill and destroy. And lately, business has been pretty good for him.

It doesn’t have to be that way. But that means that we have to step away from our tribe, away from our keyboard activism and across the street or over the railroad tracks to our neighbor’s house. It’s been said that the journey of a thousand miles begins with one single step. Well, the journey of gospel-centered peacemaking begins the same way. People who live next door to each other but who in reality are a thousand miles apart from one another can come together when the Church takes the first step.

It may be a step with a Bible in hand or it may be a step that’s made while carrying hamburgers. But it’s a step that needs to be made.

There are people who are profiting off of the divisiveness in this country. Their book sales and Facebook likes and poll numbers reach new heights while we burn one another down. It’s up to the Church to put a stop to this. The Church should be the first to say to those who profit off of divisiveness that their business is not welcome in our communities.

Yesterday afternoon, while police officers in bulletproof vests raced barefoot kids, I got to see what happens when the Church takes the first step. It was a beautiful sight and I pray that there are many more steps to follow.

As we were cleaning up yesterday, I had several people come up to me and say that we need to do this kind of thing more often. I agree. Our communities need it.

The talking heads will always talk.

The social media activists will always ramble on.

And things will always be the same.

But when the Church acts like the Church, that’s when we begin to see things change.

That’s when people come together.

That’s when Satan trembles.

And that’s when Jesus Christ is glorified.

photo taken by Casey Harpe

Who Gets To Crush The Serpent?

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Here’s a question you’ve probably never considered before.

Who gets to crush Satan?

If you’ve grown up in the church or if you’re familiar with the Bible, your immediate response is Jesus. And that’s an accurate response.

After the Serpent deceived Adam and Eve, God handed down his punishment and it was more than simply having to slither on the ground from there on out.

“I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head,
and you shall bruise his heel.” Genesis 3:15 (ESV)

One day, Genesis tells us, Satan’s head will be crushed by the heel of a man. We know that man to be Jesus Christ. In the New Testament, Paul says of Jesus that God, “Put all things under his feet” (Ephesians 1:22). That would include Satan’s head. Paul gets more specific in 1 Corinthians.

Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 1 Corinthians 15:24-25 (ESV)

The Bible is clear. Satan will be crushed under the heel of Jesus. But then there’s this verse.

The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Romans 16:20 (ESV)

Paul is writing to Christians when he says, “your feet.” So which is it? Who gets to finally crush the head of Satan, Jesus or us?

When we put these passages together, they tell us that if we stand in Christ, we will stand over Satan.

We will crush the great accuser.

We will crush the thief.

We will crush the murderer and deceiver.

But before we get too excited about our supposed power, we must remember something. In Ephesians 6, Paul tells us to put on the full armor of God. The of God part is very important. He didn’t tell us to put on the full armor of self-determination, self-righteousness or religious effort. If that’s the only armor we have, Satan will surely stand over and crush us.

When we submit and obey Jesus Christ, living out his attributes while relying on his grace, we are living in his armor. Only by sharing in the identity of Christ can we share in the victory of Christ.

Satan is powerful.

He’s destructive.

But his days are numbered. The head of the old serpent already rests under the nail-scarred foot of our Savior. And soon, those of us who are in Christ will know the joy of crushing the serpent’s head finally and forever.

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Just Stand

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Stand.

That’s all it says. I’d like for it to say something more. Something more powerful. Something cooler. But it doesn’t. It just says stand.

Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. Ephesians 6:11 (ESV)

In the Robert Duval’s movie The Apostle, a character preaches a sermon about Jesus doing a backflip on the devil. Wouldn’t it sound better if Paul promised Christians that they would be able to do that or some other crazy move on the devil.

Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to do jiu-jitsu on the devil and fire off a few rounds from your rifle into his schemes. 

But the Bible doesn’t say that.

It just says stand.

Since when does standing give us that feeling of victory that all believers want in matters of spiritual warfare?

A closer look shows us that there is more than meets the eye to the type of standing Paul is referring to. We aren’t told to simply hang out against the devil like a bunch of kids standing outside of the laundromat. This type of standing has more to do with resistance than loitering.

As I write this I am looking at that iconic picture of a Chinese man standing alone in front of a column of tanks. He’s known as Tank Man or Unknown Rebel. Later on that day, if someone were to ask him what he did, he could have simply said, “Just stood around.” And he wouldn’t be lying. But he wouldn’t be telling the whole story. Standing doesn’t get enough credit.

Here’s what Paul is saying to us when he says that we can, “stand against the schemes of the devil.” Because of who we are in Christ, when Satan comes at us with every tactic, scheme, temptation and lie, we can remain standing. When all of his guns finally stop firing and he is left with no other fiery darts to throw our way, we will still be standing.

But it won’t be because of our strength or might. Only Christ’s strength gives us what we need in order to remain standing. Remember, we are told to put on the armor of God, not the armor of self-confidence.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Ephesians 6:10 (ESV)

If you devote your life to living in obedience to Jesus Christ you can be certain that Satan will send a column of tanks your way. For the most part, he’ll leave the porn addict, the gossiper and the self-righteous pew dweller alone. Most of his work on them has been done. It’s all just maintenance at this point. He’s saving the heavy duty weapons for the man who takes seriously his job of leading his family and serving his church. He’s coming with full force for the woman who spends more time serving than gossiping and complaining. Count on it.

But here’s something else that you can count on.

In Christ, you will not fall. In Christ, you will stand against your enemy the devil.

So leave the backflips and spiritual jiu-jitsu to Jesus. That was done at the cross and empty tomb. And because of that, your job is simple.

All you have to do is stand.

When you are tempted to look where you shouldn’t look, stand.

When you are tempted to say what you shouldn’t say, stand.

When you are tempted to believe what isn’t true, stand.

Just stand.

But remember this.

You do not stand alone. Your conquering Savior is holding you up the entire time.

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 1 Peter 5:8-10 (ESV)

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Is Satan Okay With Your Church’s Christmas Eve Candlelight Service?

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Matthew had himself a good government job and he was well compensated for what he did. His job with the government, however, did not win him any popularity contests.

Simon was completely different. He hated the very government that Matthew worked for. He even belonged to a group known to assassinate some of those government officials.

Despite their differences, Simon and Matthew got along just fine. But how? What was it that made a government man and an anti-government man live side by side as brothers and play a part in changing the world?

Please forgive me for the Sunday School answer but here it is.

Jesus.

When Jesus’ earthly ministry began, he hand picked the least likely men to be his disciples. To put it in today’s terms, Jesus selected some guys from the cast of The Deadliest Catch, a crooked IRS agent and a guy who had Don’t Tread On Me tattooed on his forehead to leave their old lives behind and follow him. As different as all of these men looked, they still had a few things in common.

They all sinned. That sin may have shown itself in different ways but it was still there.

And, with the exception of Judas, they were all saved by a gracious and loving God.

Your church would do well to remember this. It’s Christmas time. Many churches, the good ones at least, are looking for ways to help families and entire communities. That’s a good thing. But it is possible for all of that hard work, donating and volunteering to be a complete waste of time.

There were times when Jesus sent his disciples out on specific, short missionary efforts. He never sent them out as individuals. There is no biblical evidence that he divided them up according to their political views. Even if they went out in groups of two, they went as one.

No matter how much good your church does this Christmas, it will all be overshadowed if the people in your church don’t love each other. If the pastoral staff and the deacons are fighting with each other, all of the fruit baskets in the world won’t cover it up. If the group of people in charge of decorating has it out for the group of people in charge of cleaning, your church (the body, not the building) will always be ugly.

The Christian call to unity is not a call to place our doctrine to the side so that we can all get along. Instead, it is a reminder that all true believers share one thing in common.

Jesus.

When we get a grasp of that, it somehow makes the petty things that divide us seem, well, petty.

On Tuesday, I heard a woman talk about how she was brought up in a Satanic household. For a portion of her life, she would visit evangelical churches with her mother. They weren’t there out of curiosity. They were there to infiltrate the church. The girl, who is now a believer, said that they weren’t just there to bring in false doctrine. They wanted to create instability within the church. According to her, this was done most often through gossip.

Gossip.

Not goat sacrifices.

Not weird chanting.

Gossip.

It could be that your church doesn’t need to be infiltrated by some Satanic organization. The gossip being spread by the so-called believers who are in the church are already doing a fine job on their own of creating instability.

If a church is unified under Christ, they won’t throw their doctrine out the window. They will however throw gossip out. Along with bitterness. And envy. And anything else the is contrary to the fruit of the Holy Spirit.

Satan is not worried when your church serves soup to homeless people this Christmas. Your high dollar Christmas play does not give Satan a bit of concern. Neither does your Christmas Eve candlelight service.

Just as long as the people holding those candles, singing those songs and serving that soup do not get along with each other. Satan feels right at home in such a place.

But when your church carries out its ministries with a spirit of unity, even between the lady with the government job and the guy with the Come And Take It sticker on the back of his truck, all hell shudders in fear.

I think that’s because Christians working together for the glory of Jesus Christ remind Satan, ever so subtly, of the eternal terror that awaits him.

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Philippians 2:1-2 (ESV)

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Encouraging News About The End Of The World

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Somewhere along the way we missed the point. We got so caught up in the details that may or may not be true that we forgot about the most important part. Our ideas about that day have been shaped more by movies and novels than they have by the Bible. As a result, we have become like a bunch of Christmas carolers who are all caught up in the festivities of the season but have no idea what they’re singing about.

I started hearing about the return of Christ when I was a teenager. At least that’s when I started paying attention to what I was hearing. That’s because there were movies involved. The movies I saw about the return of Christ appeared to be filmed in the 1970s using video equipment from the early days of the Soviet Union. There were a lot of bell bottoms, feathered hairstyles and people screaming. A lot of people screaming. And that wasn’t just in the movie. After the showing was over, there were usually two or three of us who would run out of the building screaming.

That was the major impression that was left on me when it came to talks about the return of Christ.

Fear.

To be fair, there are plenty of people who should be afraid of the return of Christ. For nonbelievers, it will be a day of wrath. But for followers of Christ, it will be a day of hope realized.

That’s the part that we forget.

Hope.

Churches have split up over arguments about the end times. Legitimate Christians have lived in fear of the AntiChrist coming for them and all of their sins being displayed on a giant movie screen for the world to see.

There are good people who really love Jesus but who have differing views on how the end times will play out. It is not the purpose of this post to explain all of that. Instead, I would like to remind you of what Paul told the believers in Thessalonica after sharing only a few details about the return of Christ.

Therefore encourage one another with these words. 1 Thessalonians 4:18 (ESV)

Not scare one another.

Not debate one another. l

Just encourage one another.

Again, debate and fear do have their place in end times discussions but they are not the substance. Jesus is. And he is our hope. He is the reason for our encouragement.

If our end times discussions do not end in Christ, the conquering King who has come to make all things eternally right, we are missing the point. We are missing our real reason to be encouraged.

At the return of Christ, there will be no more school shootings, wars, car accidents, tumors or abortions. Death will be no more (Revelation 21:4). Be encouraged.

When Christ returns, there will no longer be a need for jails or those lawyers who advertise no fault divorces for $300 (Revelation 21:5-8). Be encouraged.

When Jesus comes back for his people, we will finally know what it’s like to live under the authority of a perfect and compassionate Ruler whose government knows no corruption (Revelation 21:22-27). Be encouraged.

When Christ returns, we will no longer have to fight against Satan’s schemes (Revelation 19:11-21). Be encouraged.

And best of all, when Jesus comes back, we will live with him.

Forever.

So be encouraged.

Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 1 Thessalonians 4:17 (ESV)

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How To Defeat The Demon That The United States Senate Cannot

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We don’t know the name of the demon.

Sometimes the Bible shares that information with us. Like when Jesus asked a demon possessed man for his name and got the creepy response of, “My name is Legion, for we are many” (Mark 5:9).

But this time, we don’t get a name. Another nameless demon. The lack of a name didn’t make this demon any less evil. Like all the others, he was bent on destruction. This time, it was a child who he had his sights set on.

The child was mute. And he had seizures. Horrific seizures. Is there any other kind? The demon would make the child foam at the mouth. He would grind his teeth. His body would lock up. On more than one occasion, the seizures would happen near fire or large bodies of water leaving the child on the verge of drowning or burning.

The child had a demon.

But the demon had no name.

Just an agenda to destroy a child.

Thankfully, the child had a father.

The father wasn’t known for his theology. He didn’t have all of the answers. But he thought that he had found a group of men who could help him.

He was wrong. In spite of their best efforts, these men could not save the boy. All seemed lost. It appeared as though the demon living inside of this boy would be a very much unwanted member of the family.

Dad.

Boy.

And the demon with no name.

There was one last hope for the boy. Jesus. Jesus asked to see him.

Jesus didn’t say a word to the demon at first. All it took was the presence of Jesus to send him, and of course, the boy, into another one of those terrible seizures. As the child rolled around on the ground, foaming at the mouth, Jesus finally said something to the demon without a name.

“You mute and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.” Mark 9:25 (ESV).

The demon obeyed.

But no one was celebrating just yet. It appeared that the demon was able to get in one final death blow before leaving the boy. His small body was laying, lifeless, on the ground. Everyone assumed the worst.

Jesus grabbed the hand of the motionless boy.

The boy was alive.

He stood up, for the first time in years, free of the demon with no name.

We don’t know the name of that demon who was hell-bent on destroying this child. We just know that he didn’t enter the child again.

But that doesn’t mean that his kind went away.

We see him at work today, busy killing more children. Only this time, he has federal backing, the approval of the United States Senate and a nice respectable name to work with.

Planned Parenthood.

This demon has a name. But his end will still be the same.

After Jesus healed the child, his disciples came to him, confused.

“Why couldn’t we get the demon out of that boy?” They were no help when they tried. But at least they tried. Could you imagine what would happen if this distressed father had gone to the more progressive members of the United States Senate for help.

“We don’t understand the problem. Your boy only falls in the fire three percent of the time. And besides, think of all the other services this demon provides for your son.”

Jesus gave a direct answer for his inquisitive and confused disciples.

“This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.”

When the history of Planned Parenthood is written, the organization will be remembered for having two very valuable friends. The first is the bloodthirsty United States government and the second is the apathetic American people who are more disturbed by the thought of losing free condoms than they are at babies being murdered and sold.

But Planned Parenthood will also be remembered for their three great enemies. Two of those enemies are natural. One is very much supernatural. In the natural, the sonogram and the hidden camera have worked beautifully together to prove that the practices of Planned Parenthood are anything but, “safe, legal and rare” and that an unborn child is obviously much, much more than a clump of cells.

There is another, more powerful enemy of the death industry in this country.

Prayer.

As Christians, we should keep fighting against abortion. We should watch and share the disturbing videos of Planned Parenthood workers treating babies like leftovers from one of their wine and salad meals. We should not give up holding our elected officials accountable, even when they have given up. Still, there are always those naysayers who say that it will never work. They tell us that Planned Parenthood can never be defeated. They were the first to tell us after Monday afternoon’s disappointing vote, “See, I told you so.”

I believe that Planned Parenthood can be defeated.

But it will take a much more powerful option than a Senator. Thankfully, Christians have one.

We have prayer.

It just might be that prayer is the only thing that will defeat this demon. If so, that’s okay. Because the One we pray to is infinitely more powerful than any demon Hell has to send our way. And make no mistake about it, the murder of babies is demonic. It is Satanism in its purest form. Just because someone wears a flag on his suit or says, “God bless America,” doesn’t mean that he can’t have a Legion or two pulling his strings behind the scenes.

But Jesus is greater than Legion.

Jesus is greater than that nameless demon who threw that little boy into the fire.

And Jesus is greater than that demon who is using the name of Planned Parenthood to legally throw more boys into more fires.

I can’t wait for the day when he commands this demon to leave our children alone.

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Before You Take The #CharlieCharlieChallenge

Well, that's not good.

There’s a new sensation among teenagers and young adults. I just found out about it earlier this week so that means it’s probably not really all that new. Tip: When you’re over 30 and you read about some new sensation among teenagers and young adults, they’ve probably been partaking in whatever sensation it is for a year or two by the time you find out about it.

This sensation has nothing to do with some drug named after a girl or games that involve knocking out unsuspecting women and elderly people.

This one is much more dangerous.

It’s called the Charlie Charlie Challenge.

In this challenge, participants make a cross out of two pencils on a sheet of paper. They then record themselves asking a Mexican demon named Charlie if he is present. The words yes and no are written in the four squares on the paper. If the pencil moves to the yes, the words are erased and more questions are asked. With this being recorded and everything, all of the world gets to watch the participants get freaked out when Charlie answers.

Think of it as this generation’s ouija board.

A quick word to this generation. You want nothing to do with Charlie.

I’ve been in the ministry for 15 years. I’m hardly an expert but I’ve seen a few things. I’ve experienced things that can only be attributed to demonic activity. Such occasions have been extremely rare. They have also been extremely frightening.

There is a more common way that I have seen the demonic at work.

I have seen it at work as seemingly healthy marriages fall apart.

I have seen it at work in churches where people fight for personal gain like they were in the WWE’s Royal Rumble.

I have seen it at work in addicts who know that they are killing themselves but just can’t stop it.

I don’t know where the name Charlie came from. I just know that you don’t want to play with him. There is nothing fun about this. The end game is only death and destruction.

“But,” you might say, “I’m a Christian. Charlie has no power over me. I can make him go away whenever I want.”

Sure thing. Just tell that to Sceva and his seven sons. But try not to let the nudity bother you.

And God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were carried away to the sick, and their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them. Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims.” Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this. But the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?” And the man in whom was the evil spirit leaped on them, mastered all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. And this became known to all the residents of Ephesus, both Jews and Greeks. And fear fell upon them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was extolled. Acts 19:11-17 (ESV)

Charlie might jump out of the computer and master you so that you run away naked and wounded. But more likely, if you continue to play with Charlie, you’ll just walk away wounded.

A few nights ago I watched a documentary about a guy who lived with bears. It ended the way all documentaries about guys who live with bears ends. Spoiler alert. He died. The bears killed him. It’s tragic but it’s not a surprise.

The same will be true of you if you continue to take the Charlie Charlie Challenge. Whether physically or spiritually, you will die. It will be tragic. But it won’t be a surprise.

Bears kill and eat men who try to live with them.

Demons devour people who try to play with them.

It’s just what they do.

In Christ, Christians have power over Satan (Colossians 2:15). But that power does not give us license to play with fire. Instead, it gives us confidence to fight our own sin and love our neighbor as we seek to glorify Jesus.

Without Christ, you are a slave to Satan. He has blinded you from seeing the futility of your ways (2 Corinthians 4:4). On your own, he has complete power over you.

And you can be sure of this. Call him Charlie if you want but he is listening. And whatever questions you ask, you’re not going to like the answers.

So instead of taking the Charlie Charlie Challenge, take time to humble yourself before Jesus, the real Master, and ask him to protect you.

Challenge or no challenge, you’re going to need it.

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