Sunday, March 18, 2018

A Lesson on Violence in the World

"And when He had come out of the boat, immediately there met Him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no one could bind him, not even with chains, because he had often been bound with shackles and chains. And the chains had been pulled apart by him, and the shackles broken in pieces; neither could anyone tame him. And always, night and day, he was in the mountains and in the tombs, crying out and cutting himself with stones. When he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and worshiped Him. And he cried out with a loud voice and said, “What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore You by God that You do not torment me.” - Mark 5:2-6

If you are concerned with the violence in this world, you should be concerned with the spirituality of this world. Take a lesson from this man whom no chains could bind. He was evil unleashed on the world. There was nothing and no one that could stop him. School shootings? He could have done it. Abusive to children? All within his capabilities. Murderous, deceitful, thievery, there was nothing that he would not do that was evil.

He was also suffering within who he was. He would cut himself and abuse himself, cry out in misery and pain. He lived among the tombs, probably wishing his own death would take him from his pain. And yet, no one could, or would, help him.


At the first sight of Jesus, the man didn't run away. He ran TO Jesus. He worshipped him. And not understanding the love within Jesus for him, he first thought Jesus was there, as the demons were, to torment him.

Yet, Jesus didn't do that. Jesus freed him! He sent the demons into a herd of pigs and they ran off a cliff to death.

Friends, if we want to do ANYTHING to make a lasting effect on the violence in our world now, we have to start with the hearts of those who are violent. We have to start with the children in preschool who will slap another child, the children in 3rd grade who will steal from another and deny it, the children who live on the streets, the children who find their happiness in drugs. We have to seek out those that are hurting and help them find Jesus and find freedom from the chains within them that bind them to the evil in their hearts.

The hands do not craft evil, so removing weapons doesn't fix it. Another weapon will come along.

The brain does not craft evil. All the gun safety, bullying prevention classes, equal rights messages, and etc. will not fix it.

The heart is where evil begins. A heart that does not love itself can never love another. A heart that does not love itself has never found the joy of Christ, and learned their self-value to the One who made Heaven and Earth. Change the heart - and you've stopped evil.

I'd like you to consider this from now on when confronted with someone who you find even a spec of evil in. Think about what they're missing and get them there. "Love one another even as I have loved you" was the message of Christ. Instead of showing anger, show love. Instead of turning your back in disgust, show love. Instead of condemning them to a life of self-hate, self-harm, bullying, violence, and worse - LOVE THEM. Show them Christ. His Love can change the world.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Four Men in the Fire


“So these men, wearing their robes, trousers, turbans and other clothes, were bound and thrown into the blazing furnace.  The king’s command was so urgent and the furnace so hot that the flames of the fire killed the soldiers who took up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, 23 and these three men, firmly tied, fell into the blazing furnace.

Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, “Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?”  They replied, “Certainly, Your Majesty.”He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.” 

Nebuchadnezzar then approached the opening of the blazing furnace and shouted, “Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!”

So Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire,  and the satraps, prefects, governors and royal advisers crowded around them. They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them.

Then Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God.  Therefore I decree that the people of any nation or language who say anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego be cut into pieces and their houses be turned into piles of rubble, for no other god can save in this way.” – Daniel 3:21-29


I believe God is in control of everything.  I believe He is almighty.  I believe He keeps all kinds of evil on a short leash.  I believe that the things that happen in this world are either ordained by Him, or allowed by Him, as in the life of Job.    

He could have easily saved Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego from the fire.  He could have put out the fire, but He didn’t.  He could have pulled them up into a chariot as He did Elijah.  He could have sent an army of angels to close up the furnace. But He did not.

Instead, He allowed those that threw them into the fire to die from the flames, proving it was hot enough to kill, and then let His three children be thrown into the fire like yesterday’s trash.    

Instead of preventing the fire, which would not have even made the Babylonian Times paper of the day, He chose to go through it with them. There were four men, walking around in the fire. FOUR!  Think about that. 

What did it do for the faith of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego?  They had tremendous faith already.  They told Nebuchadnezzar that even if God did not deliver them from the fire, they would not serve his gods or worship his images of gold.  How do you think they responded when they saw the Son of God, man number four, in the fire with them?  Friends, I doubt anything later on in their life could have caused their faith to be diminished.  In fact, I think it grew even greater. 

What did that do to the faith of Nebuchadnezzar?  I can tell you what it did!  It converted him!  He became a believer!

Friends, struggles and trials are meant to draw us to Him, and draw others.  If live was a cakewalk, we’d never pray, never cry out, never see our need for a Father that will go through the fire with us.  And no, God doesn’t give the toughest struggles to the toughest of His children.  He treats us all equally.  It’s not about you and what you can take, it’s about you reaching out to Him.    

The struggle isn’t about our persecution.  It’s about how we walk through them.  It’s about a God that wants us to draw closer and closer and closer to Him until we can see Him in the fire.  It’s about who learns from our struggles what a great God we serve.  It’s about Him.  It’s about His love for mankind.

God still walks through the fires with us.  Sometimes He pulls us through without even the smell of smoke. Sometimes He chooses to let us bear a burden to show others how strong our faith is. 

If you’re in the fire, look around.  He is there.  He will never forsake His children (Joshua 1:5).  He is always there.