Pursuing Answers to Questions of Faith & Life

Monday, June 30, 2008

Sermon--Mark 5:24-34--No Touch & Go Faith

Mark 5:24-34

There are some days that have too much to do and not enough time. I get frustrated at the rushed feeling when everything seems to take longer than it should, everyone seems to be moving slower than normal—it’s the old “a watched pot never boils” syndrome.

In the same way, when I’m in a hurry to do something, to be somewhere, to meet someone, that seems to be the greatest opportunity for the phone call, that is the greatest opportunity for flat tire, some kind of interruption to stop you from going on to something, somewhere else.

And I’ve learned over the years, that while annoying, at least when it’s the telemarketer, but those moments of interruption are many times a moment of great ministry. What is your interruption, is often God’s Redirection & Opportunity.

Jesus had one of those moments in Mark, as He was on His way with Jairus to see the man’s daughter who needed healing. They were in a hurry, time was short. To make matters worse, there was a crowd that slowed them down.

READ vs. 21-24

The way & streets were narrow so that the crowd was tightly bunched in. A celebrity was coming through, everyone had their camera, everyone wanted an autograph. Jesus’ entourage of body guards were trying to get Him through the crowd, hopefully gently pushing everyone aside because Jesus had something important to do. In a few verses, well get a sense of the exasperation of the disciples as they are trying to make their way through this crowd.

But in the midst of this slowdown, when nerves are getting frayed, another interruption occurred.

READ 25-28

The nerve of this lady—couldn’t she see that Jesus was busy, that He was in a hurry, that He shouldn’t be bothered? Yes, in many ways, she can see all of that. That’s one reason why she doesn’t want to make a big deal about it—she just wants to touch Jesus’ robe and be on her way. She believed, perhaps a bit superstitiously, that Jesus’ Power is great enough, that it would be transferred into His clothes—she doesn’t need a big miracle, she just needs a small dose of that power—she was after all desperate.

Look at the words used to describe her.

Suffering—for 12 years she had been bleeding—probably gynecological, enough to make her weak, uncertain of her future, but also unclean. She was embarrassed about her problem, she was shunned and looked down upon for her problem. If she didn’t think God was punishing her, then I’d expect many other people did think that.

Common attitudes would be: There must be some serious sin in her life for this to be happening to her. OR: She must not have very much faith to not experience healing for 12 years. To have a sickness, to have a disease that not only hurts, not only embarrasses, but cuts you off from the faith and from people and keeps them from getting close to you. Nothing has worked, nothing has cured--

Endured Much—even the kind of treatments that were given to her over the years did not produce healing, instead they produced more suffering. Rather than helping, they intensified the problem, increased the pain

Spent Everything—here was a woman, cut off in many ways, trying to support herself—spent everything she had, every penny she made assuming she could find any work, because everything she touched was considered unclean. But the money she spent was probably her own probably even her dowry for marriage. Because if she was married before this started, her husband probably got rid of her. She had laid aside any hope of her future, in order to try and get better. She spent it all—on doctors, sacrifices, on faith healers,—planting seeds in their ministry—with the promise of return. Rather than better, she was…

Worse, physically, emotionally, relationally, spiritually,—nothing has improved for this woman. Her pain and suffering are real. She was essentially stuck—her life was on hold until she could be restored. She was captive to her disease—she couldn’t work, she couldn’t get married, she was a burden to her family. She is in desperate need of a Redeemer. Someone who would purchase her freedom. That is a hope that carries through the Old Testament.

JOB 19:25 I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth.

ISA 54:5 For your Maker is your husband-- the LORD Almighty is his name-- the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth.

ISA 35:8 And a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness. The unclean will not journey on it; it will be for those who walk in that Way; wicked fools will not go about on it.
ISA 35:9 No lion will be there, nor will any ferocious beast get up on it; they will not be found there. But only the redeemed will walk there,

She Would be disqualified in her current state.

ISA 43:1 But now, this is what the LORD says-- he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.

To need Redemption means that you are trapped, held captive and enslaved—trapped as a prisoner of war, trapped in debt, trapped as a slave, and you are held against your will, a captive—and you are unable to Free yourself, unable to change your own condition—you don’t have enough, you have no hope—and you are being auctioned off to the highest bidder. To be Redeemed means that you have been bought off the auctioning block and you have been set free. That’s what Jesus promised to do in His first teaching at a synagogue.

LUKE 4:18-21—quoting Isaiah 61

He comes as our Redeemer—redeeming us from Sin & Death, Redeeming us from the Kingdom of Darkness—where we are captives and dead in our sin—He Redeems us to Life, Light & Holiness

Jesus is on His way to Redeem a young girl from the clutches of death—and He is passing another one in need of redemption.

Here she was, her life on hold and she hears about Jesus being nearby. She believes, has faith that Jesus can heal her.

But she’s not supposed to go near Him. She’s not supposed to mingle with the tight crowds—because of her bleeding—but if she can just get one touch—that will be enough—that One Touch won’t bother Him, won’t interrupt Him, won’t embarrass Him, He’ll never know. I’ll just touch and go—He’ll be on His way, and I’ll be restored.

If I just get to Jesus all my problems will be solved.

Vs. 28

He’ll Never Notice—I’ll come and go, zip in & zip out, Touch & GO--disappear with my healing, disappear with what God has done for me. No one ever has to know. Maybe I’ll send Him a thank you card.

READ vs. 29, 31

Even the Disciples were of the same attitude—there’s a big crowd—we’re pressed in here like sardines—You’re in a hurry to save this other little girl. I’ve got too many people touching me already and you’re worried about someone you don’t even know. there are more important things to be worrying about Jesus.

But Jesus disregards all of that in search of the one who drew Redeeming power from Him. READ 30, 32

Even though the disciples had asked Jesus to move on—and they had many good reasons, there are a lot of people, there are more pressing things—Jesus does not follow their words and insistence—instead, He stops, turns around and asks—“Who touched my robes?”

1. One principle I see in this is that No matter what is going on in the World—Jesus will never ignore you, dismiss you or be too busy for you.

This woman waited for 12 years, so it’s not like if you do something, pray something, confess something, plant some seed, God is then Obligated to jump at your command and do your bidding—heal you on the spot, give you that great new job, that money, or whatever else—despite what Joel Osteen says.

God is under no obligation to do anything—but don’t confuse a “Not Yet” or even a “No” with “I’m not paying attention” or “I don’t care”. People…

the world may be on the brink of falling apart, international leaders might be struggling with a decision, Billy Graham may be on the hotline—but every single one of the hairs on your head are still numbered and not one of them falls to the ground without His notice.

Jesus stops the world essentially to address this woman.

“Who touched my clothes?”

He asks not because He didn’t know, but b/c He wanted the woman to come forward on her own and take another step of faith.

READ vs. 33

It was a great step of faith for her to reach out and touch Jesus—Jesus calls her to even more—One Step was not enough—He didn’t want her to remain in anonymity, but to publically show herself and the answer to her desperation.

It would have been so easy for her to disappear, to blend back into the crowd—to look around and pretend to scan the crowd for the real perpetrator—but she did not—she knew she had been touched, knew she had been healed, knew she had been made whole, knew she had been Redeemed.

She came forward, even though she was afraid—afraid of what? A harsh word? Condemnation? A withdrawal of the miracle and a return to her suffering? Whatever was going through her mind, she took another step of faith and came forward, fell at His feet and spoke the Truth--And the truth set her free.

This is a second principle to take from this passage. When God works in your life, He does not want us to be ashamed of it, to conceal it, to Hide it—to fade into the background, to disappear or to downplay what He has done for us--we shouldn’t hide out on the back row when God has done something wonderful that needs to be shouted from the rooftops.

God doesn’t want just a Touch & GO faith—He wants a lifetime of touches and steps—the same kind of faith that gave her the courage to reach out and touch Jesus in the first place is the kind of faith that gave her courage to acknowledge it was her, to fall at his feet, to speak the truth.

There was a miracle of faith in her healing, but there was also a miracle of faith in her Testimony.

READ vs. 34

Jesus knew who it was--He wants courage and boldness, not just to reach out to Jesus for healing and forgiveness, but to acknowledge His work.

Daughter—the only time in the Gospels that Jesus calls a woman by this title—your faith has healed you—other translations say “saved”—the word is often interchangeable for Physical & Spiritual Healing. Your Faith has Freed You! This woman was Redeemed—the power went out from Jesus, but it was in response to her faith. Did she have that kind of faith all along? I don’t know, but the Faith to believe, combined with the Right Divine Moment to produce a powerful Testimony to the Healing, Redeeming Power of Christ.

It was exactly the kind of testimony—messy as it was—that Jesus was looking for. You and I have been touched by the Master—we have a Testimony, we have a story to tell—you may look at your s and think that yours is not as dramatic, not as powerful, not as wonderful as hers was—but the spiritual transaction that brought her out of the Kingdom of Darkness is the same one that Saved You.

It takes Faith to open our mouths—it takes faith to tell someone about the Power of Christ at work in our life. Faith to Believe and the Right Divine Moment—we will miss it if we hang back in the crowd.

Now, who do you think benefitted from this woman’s Healing & Testimony?

Jesus called her His daughter--
Jesus is moving from one daughter to another daughter— Jairus benefitted.

The text does not say, but I would not be surprised to find out in Eternity that Jairus knew this woman. That she had come to the synagogue for years seeking prayer and cleansing. That as a leader in town, he knew of her affliction, had recommended doctors, recommended treatment, prayed for her.

The testimony of the woman, acknowledging this healing that had plagued her for 12 years--as long as Jairus’ daughter had been alive—strengthened his resolve as well.

“Wow—if Jesus can heal her—and she’s been sick for 12 years, I know He can heal my daughter.” He would have said.

So as he was escorting Jesus back to his home and the people came up saying, “It’s too late, your daughter is dead! Don’t bother the teacher anymore.”

“Don’t be Afraid—Just Believe”

Hey if Jesus can heal her and she’s been bleeding for 12 years—I know He can heal, save, Redeem my daughter!”

Don’t you understand—so many people are out there hurting and in pain and they think their hurt, their sickness, their sin is so bad that not even Jesus can help them—they don’t believe it’s possible.

They need to hear from you the healing power—they need your courage of faith to not disappear into the crowd—not hole up on the back row—but hear of your Healing, Hear of your Restoration, Hear of Your Redeemer—they don’t believe because they’ve never seen it—they’ve not heard it from the Church—
we’re too afraid of our own sin, too embarrassed of our own past, too unwilling to step out of the crowd and say “Yes! I touched Him and He touched Me”

There is no sin that He cannot forgive—I doubt you will find many people in and on the streets of Macomb that has a sin in their life that is not somehow shared with people already here in this church. Sexual sin—hey come on in—we’re already here. Drug abuse—yeah, we tried that too—Jesus is helping us overcome that too. Financial failure—we’re here

Hey, God loves you and He can make you whole just like He did me. I Know My Redeemer Lives

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

SBC Convention - 08- Pictures

Sermon--Deliverance from Spiritual pain-- Mark 5

A man often walked through a cemetery on his way home. One night, though, unaware that a new grave had been dug in his path, he tumbled in. For some time he struggled to get out of the 7 foot deep grave, but finally gave up and settled down for the night.
An hour later, a farmer out possum hunting came walking through the cemetery and he too fell into the grave. He began a desperate attempt to get out, unaware that there was anyone else in the grave. The first man listened to him for a few minutes, then reached over in the pitch darkness and laid a hand on his shoulder. "You can’t get out of here,” the man said to the farmer. But the farmer did.

Now a cemetery is not a place I’d want to spend one night, but as we’ll see in a moment, one man was spending a lot of time there.

In looking back over Mark, we see Jesus attracting crowds, getting into a boat, then traveling across the lake. While enroute, a great storm blows up while Jesus is sleeping. The disciples lives are in jeopardy, and Jesus wakes up just in time to Calm the Storm. In escaping the crowd, Jesus leads His disciples into dangerous waters and across the lake to where there are mostly gentiles—certainly not the type of people the disciples were expecting. Over in Capernaum and the area controlled by Jews, it didn’t take long for Jesus’ Presence to draw a crowd of the curious, the desperate or the angry.

The Presence of Christ in the beginning of Mark 5 didn’t take long to draw attention of another sort.

READ 5:1-8

The presence of Christ draws us, but it also draws the attention of the demonic. This possessed man saw Jesus from a distance in vs. 6 and came running. The Presence of Jesus sent this unnaturally strong man to his knees before Jesus, begging for mercy. The man who was unrestrainable, cowered in fear before the Presence of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

But you know, looking at this man like this, made me wonder what he was like before the demonic got a hold of him.

Do you think he was on the front & leading edge of a radical new concept of cheap and affordable housing? Just testing out the product?
Do you think he was part of a Escape Artist Training School so that’s why he had so many chains and restraints about him?
Do you think he was a part of an early clothing optional time-share? After all you learn later in v. 15 that people were surprised to see him clothed.

All of these things we read about he became as a result of the evil, unclean and demonic spirits that dominated his life.

Satan’s Power & Influence
Preoccupation & Fascination with death—death was the only place the demonic were truly at home—and they wanted to take the man with them.
Cut off from Society—anti-social
Great despair
Unnatural strength—
Out of his mind—needed the renewing of his mind
Nakedness—no dignity, living more like an animal
Steal—this man’s life, family
kill & destroy him

that is the same goal that the demonic has for each one of our lives. To steal, kill & destroy. Sometimes we’ll never know we’re under attack. You may never feel it, hear it, see it, but Satan would love to have that kind of influence over you and have you live in and around death, rather than the life of Power and Promise that God has for you.

I do not say that so you will be afraid or in fear—In Christ we have Nothing to Fear. I am one who believes that the Believer in Jesus cannot be possessed by the demonic. We can be attacked, tempted, influenced, manipulated, but not controlled. Why? First and foremost because we have been marked and sealed with the Holy Spirit—God’s seal of ownership over our soul. Because our heart, our soul is the residence and temple of the Holy Spirit—and He will not allow any squatters to move into His house.

For the Christian, there are two extremes that must be avoided with reference to satanic activity. As C. S. Lewis aptly put it:
There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors,

The Presence of Christ reveals the spiritual enemies in our lives.

The Power of Christ

READ 5:7-13
Sees Jesus coming from a Distance—
Ran and fell on his knees—knows he cannot hide from Jesus
Knows Who Jesus is and Knows Jesus is more powerful—Son of the Most High God—the demons believe according to James and shudder—they know who He is, but they do not believe or trust in Him—the demons are in total rebellion to Jesus.

Demons fears torture—because that’s what it’s doing to the man—but also b/c if anyone combines both the power and the authority—it would be Jesus. The demonic is torturing this man b/c they know it hurts the heart of God. Now they fear torture from the Rightful Ruler, the All Powerful, Almighty, second Person of the Trinity, God in the Flesh, Savior of the world, Jesus.

This demon is totally submissive to Jesus, begging for his own existence

Jesus asks the demon his name?

Legion—Roman Legions were up to 6,000 men. I don’t believe it’s supposed to be an exact number, but it’s a large number. Just like Elijah v. the Prophets of Baal, Jesus stands alone--even though they are many—and He is but one—the Many cower before Him.

That’s who’s feet we walk behind—Has the Power to Control even a Legion of Demonic Spirits—and He does so with ease.

They ask; beg for permission—to not be sent into the Abyss—but instead to be sent into a herd of pigs the Decision belonged to Jesus

They cower for permission to go into the pigs—The decision belonged to Jesus
They feared being sent into the Abyss, b/c Jesus has the authority & power to send them there and eventually He will, but this moment was not the time.

Jesus Power—He has Power of Creation with the calming of the Storm—He has power over Sickness and Death as we looked at last week in the account of Jairus and his daughter—Jesus also proves to have power over the Spiritual—the Demonic.

And that Power is available to us—Ephesians 3:16-21—“ I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge--that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

EPH 3:20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

the Power of the Cross, The Power of the Blood of Christ, the Power of the Resurrection is what is ours as believers in Christ

the Power of Forgiveness and Reconciliation with God. The demonic has no place, and no authority, and no power of us—that’s why, when you or I submit ourselves to God, resist the devil, he will flea from us. Satan and the demonic world lives in fear of Believers who have submitted themselves to God.

That’s why we live in
The Promise of Christ

Matthew 9 & 10--37 Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field."

MT 10:1 He called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.

All authority has been given to Christ—and we are His ambassadorsThis is the reality of the world they lived in. but is it just them? Is it no longer our world?

Do we still live in that world? Do we still live in the world of demonic influence and possession? Does Satan still affect people’s lives emotionally, physically, spiritually?

If you want to believe it in the NT, if you want to hold the Bible high as the Reliable, Authoritative Word of God then you should believe that the world Jesus walked and lived in is not really much different than the world we live in. We haven’t changed all that much. Our spiritual enemy is not yet cast into the abyss.

Do not make the mistake of assuming that all NT claims of demonic influence or possession is merely due to the ignorance of the people of the day. Because you would be lowing Jesus into that category as well. He could rightly diagnose and cure all kinds of sicknesses and diseases, even reverse death itself.
He knew how to handle a sickness or injury. He also knew a demon when He saw one—in all cases, the demon or demons knew Him.

Are we better at figuring out what is a real medical condition than they were in NT times? Yep, you bet. Back then a lot of things were blamed on demons that would now be treated in hospitals. It is totally reasonable for Doctors and Hospitals to search out a physical, mental, medical condition to problems. It is totally appropriate for parents to seek that kind of treatment and to have their child receive such treatment.

There was a case just last week, among several in the last few months of parents in Oregon watching their child die from a treatable medical condition because they believed that if they just had enough faith, then God would heal them. No. do not believe such nonsense.

While many if not most cases today may be medically caused, don’t make the mistake of assuming that everything is physical—sometimes our conditions can be spiritual. The NT teaches that the demonic can make a person deaf or mute.

Can a demon possess a believer, No I do not believe so. I do not believe the Temple of the Holy Spirit can be overcome and evicted by a demon. Can a believer be attacked, can a believer be influenced by, can a demon mask his influence to appear like a medical condition? Yes.

You should also know that those kinds of attacks still happen—they happened to me last week, the night we got back from the SBC Convention.

What I’m going to tell you is not to boast or brag, not to draw attention to myself, but to let you know that something happened that Thursday that hasn’t happened in 12 years.


I say all this to let you know that this world is still a reality—and that if you are unaware of it, or if you scoff at it—you will be unaware of it’s affect on you and unprepared for when, if ever, the attack comes your way. It was not by my might, it was not by my power, but by His Spirit that this attack was fought off.

We live in the Promise of Christ so that we can truly live as His agents in this world dominated by sin, dominated and under the influence of the demonic. When we live in the Promise that He will be with us wherever we o we can do what Jesus asked of this man.


Greek literally .... "Go to your house to your own."
1) NIV ............. "Go home to your family."
2) KJV ............. "Go home to thy friends." Jesus is not asking man to open a scroll.
b. Asking him to open his heart to people who need to hear that God is at work in people's lives.

This is the second man Jesus told to Go and Tell—the first was back in Mark 1: 44 and the man with Leprosy—the unclean physical skin condition—a Jew. Now Jesus is telling a Gentile with an unclean spiritual condition to Go and Tell his friends and family. 2 men, outcasts to their society were the first ones Jesus sent out. They were both completely transformed by His Power.

You’ll notice that we skipped a segment of this story and I want you to see it and see it clearly in a way that I hadn’t noticed before. It describes the Passion of Christ.

READ 14-17

The Passion of Christ
Look at Jesus—The Storm on the Lake—the disciples lives at stake
Crossed over to Gentile territory—but in vs. 21—“Jesus had again crossed over by boat to the other side of the lake” He immediately came back across—

He would have known the storm was coming, He would have known the reaction of the people, known that He wouldn’t stay very long.

What was it that brought Jesus all the way across the lake, into gentile territory?

One man… a man who was so lost, so out of his mind, so hurt and in pain and possessed—that he couldn’t live around living people anymore.

He needed Freedom. He needed Deliverance. He needed the Power of Christ to Transform his life—and Jesus went all that way for him.

That is His Passion—to seek and to save that which was lost—those held in captivity to the Prince of Darkness-He wants to bring into the Kingdom of Light.

Do you realize that how many people around us every day are for all practical purposes in the same boat as this man? Sure, they’re not foaming at the mouth, running around naked, breaking chains—but they are just as lost, just as harassed, just as hurt and in pain, just as captive to the enemy—

You have the Presence of Christ

You Have the Power of Christ

You have the Promise of Christ

What we need more and more of, what we need to be filled with is the Passion of Christ

I don’t know where you are today…

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Sermon-- Father's Day-- A Father's Plea- Mark 5:21-43

This is a message that is better on audio, but it wasn't recorded. So the text may not flow as well, but it did in my head!

A Father’s Plea—Mark 5:21-43--Jairius’ daughter

By the time a man realizes that maybe his father was right, he usually has a son who thinks he is wrong.—Charles Wadsworth

Fatherhood, for me, has been less a job than an unstable and surprising combination of adventure, blindman’s bluff, guerrilla warfare, and a crossword puzzle

Billy Graham—A good father is one of the most unsung, unpraised, unnoticed, and yet one of the most valuable assets in our society.”

READ Mark 5:21-24a

He risked everything for her—a synagogue ruler—one who was in charge of the worship service or the building—Jairus was coming to Jesus under great stress and concern. Perhaps he had exhausted all other options—by coming to Jesus, he risked his reputation in the community, he risked losing that position, he risked being thrown out of the synagogue all together and being cut off form the Covenant People of God.

He showed His love for her—she was his only daughter and if there was a way to help her, he would find it
He was willing to humble himself for her—he fell at Jesus’ feet and plead earnestly for her—when it came to his daughter, his children—dignity goes out the window.
He was willing to go to Jesus Himself—he didn’t send someone else—he didn’t let his wife go and take the kids to church while he stayed home to watch TV.
He called to Jesus, begged Jesus on her behalf
He demonstrated faith—he believed, personally—that Jesus could heal her, that he could even help her to live—vs. 23

In 1882, J. R. Miller published a book called, Home-Making:

What we want to do with our children, is not merely to control them and keep them in order-but to implant true principles deep in their hearts which shall rule their whole lives; to shape their character from within into Christ-like beauty, and to make of them noble men and women, strong for battle of life. They are to be trained rather than governed. Growth of character, not merely good behavior-is the object of all home governing and teaching. Therefore the home influence is far more important than the home laws; and the parents' lives are of more significance than their teachings. Whatever may be done in the way of governing, teaching or training-theories are not half as important as the parents' lives. They may teach the most beautiful things-but if the child does not see these things modeled in the life of the parent, he will not consider them important enough to be adopted in his own life.

He held nothing back.

READ 5:35-43

I love the fact that Jesus didn’t listen to those voices telling Him to stop.

Even when others tried to discourage him, Jesus kept coming-even after the bad news, there is no record that Jairus tried to stop him, dissuade him—he believed, held on to desperation, held on to hope. As long as Jesus was coming, there was hope.
Upon his daughter being raised from the dead,
He was astonished—Ekstasis-Existemi –both words mean astonished or to throw out of position, off balance—instead of a double negative—it is a double positive to show the impact it had.
Praised her healing and her Healer—Jarius would have wanted to tell the whole world but Jesus said not to.

Jairus would have seen the power of Christ every morning when his daughter woke up. Many people knew about her death so it couldn’t have been kept totally private. But even though Jesus tokd them not to let anyone know about it—who do you think Jairus made sure never forgot about what had happened?

And when reports came back after the events in Jerusalem that Jesus had been crucified and that He had been raised from the dead, who would have been most likely to believe it?

What do you think is the likelihood that she grew up and became a believer in Jesus Christ?

There are no New Testament accounts that tells me that, but it does seem likely.

Maybe you’re past your child raising days—maybe you have the privilege of being a grandparent

This passage sets a good example--
Care Earnestly for them—Demonstrate your love for them—sacrifice to be with them—Be Willing to Pray on their behalf—abandon all self dignity—and bring them before the Lord Jesus

Here’s even more—I know this church is precious in your hearts. Treat your church like Jairius did his daughter.

Be Willing to Risk—everything on her behalf—don’t be so worried about people’s opinion, what they think of you, what they think of UBC or may think—what you could lose--risk—risk, risk more, risk it all—be more bold than ever before--

Be Willing to Humble yourself--—take the risk, risk embarrassment, discomfort in order to pray for, or invite?

Be willing to go to Jesus on behalf of the church, members and staff

Be willing to demonstrate Trust and Faith—sometimes it’s easy to read the accounts of the life of Christ and wonder—why haven’t I seen any of that kind of movement in my life?

Be willing to Praise Him & give Him all the glory for every miracle

Go to Jesus with all your concerns

Cry out for Jesus to do something on behalf of the church—for renewal, for unity

Demonstrate faith & hope for those things not yet seen—plan, prepare and live expecting them

Praise God for he victories you see

The greatest thing to keep in mind in all of this talk of Father’s Day is that we have a Father who loves us with all His heart.

Know that God is our Father, and the heart that we see in Jairus is but a reflection of the heart of God.

Psalm 84--PS 68:4 Sing to God, sing praise to his name, extol him who rides on the clouds-- his name is the LORD-- and rejoice before him.

PS 68:5 A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.

PS 103:13 As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him;
PS 103:14 for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.

Know that God took a Great Risk for His Children—He gave us the ability to choose evil instead of good. It affected all of creation.

Know that God Humbled Himself to reach you—humbled even unto death itself—He threw aside His dignity—to be beaten and whipped and naked before the whole world. He took on our infirmities, our sickness, our death—so that we may rise and live.

Know that God was willing to Die to save you and me

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Spiritual Attack after SBC Convention--part 2

Spritual attack after SBC Convention—part 2

It’s been over 10 years since I’ve faced the kind of direct attack mentioned in the previous post. I’ve wondered over those years what changed that I no longer received them. From 1991-1996 they only came while on the campus of the University of Texas at Austin; nowhere else. Was it just a matter of location? Was I on the front lines in Austin, but not in Ft. Worth at seminary or in the other ministries my wife and I were involved in?

Had I removed myself from the front lines? Was I not having significant impact for the Kingdom of God? Did Satan not think of me as a factor anymore thus leaving me alone? Was I falling for Satan’s deceptions and discouragements? I wondered those over the years.

I still don’t have good answers for those questions. I’m also wondering, what has changed to bring it back now? Why would this happen after so long? Is this going to be an isolated incident or will it be a recurring event?

Another set of questions: what does Satan hope to accomplish in this attack? Intimidation? Fear?

How would you answer those previous questions? Do you have any insights into what may have changed to bring it about just after the SBC convention?

Pursuing Him,


Oh, and just so you know... nothing has happened since.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Spiritual Attack after SBC Convention

The 2008 SBC convention in Indianapolis was a retreat for my wife and I. Two church members came with us and they enjoyed themselves greatly. We loved seeing good friends, talking to people, hearing great music and messages. It is typically a recharge for us. There were a few frustrating things that I'll get to in another post. I wanted to share what happened after we got home.

We got back yesterday about 4:30 and things were normal. But something unusual happened during the night. We had stayed up so late every night at the convention that I couldn't sleep. I stayed up to about 1:45 looking at and working on several things--several mental temptations came my way that God provided a way out for, but as I was going to sleep, I was spiritually attacked in a way that I had only heard about from a friend in college at UT-Austin.

I was in that semi-dream state where your still kinda controlling the direction of the dream but this time it was being pushed into a very dark direction which I was literally fighting to come out of. I was lying on my left side. As I was waking up, a presence and weight pushed my face and my right shoulder down into the pillow, trying to smother me. It was heavy, there was some semblance of a voice but it was very faint and I couldn't determine anything. I was startled immediately prayed, "get off of me in Jesus name! Get off of me in Jesus name!" It retreated down my body (I could feel it) and I began continued prayer for protection, for my wife and kids, for my house to be emptied of demonic presence.

I sat up, the hair on my neck and arms was standing up. This was not a dreamy confusion. I was confident in the blood of Christ. I was also confident this was real--I've experienced similar moments before, just not like this. (link to testimony)

In all honesty, I haven't experienced such an obvious & direct spiritual attack since I was in Austin going to college (1991-1996). There, it was while I was awake on campus. Not long before I graduated, a friend I was having lunch with reacted to something I was used to ignoring.

I woke Vicky up so we could pray together for our kids and house as well as those who had gone with us to Indianapolis. That was about 2:40 am after I had tried to go to sleep about 45 minutes earlier.

Like I said, that hasn't happened to me that strong in over 10 years. It makes me sure that that battle here is stronger than ever. I would appreciate your prayer.

Pursuing Answers to Questions of Faith & Life,


Sunday, June 01, 2008

Sermon--Sowing & Fruitfulness--Mark 4:1-20

Mark 4:1-20--Sowing & Fruitfulness

Read Vs. 10-11

God Has Entrusted You with a Secret, a Mystery—the Kingdom of God
• This Secret, this mystery is not supposed to stay that way
• This secret is not meant to be hoarded or locked away—it’s not supposed to stay unclear, hidden or obscure
• This secret is to be told to everyone possible
• They mystery revealed
• This secret will not be understood by everyone
• Only faith comprehends the secret

Sower & Soils—READ 4:1-9

The consistent thing in the whole parable is the fact that the Sower was busy about the work of Scattering the Seed—scattering the Word—leaving the results up to God—see vs. 26-29—The sower is not responsible for the growth of the seed—God is—

The sower is responsible to sow the seed. Just like a farmer has to prepare the ground and plant the seed in anticipation of the rains—he must be faithful to prepare, to plant before the rains come—believing that what is needed will come. He cannot wait until he sees the rain, then the ground will not be prepared, the crop not ready to receive the blessing.

It is my firm belief that Individuals are to be Sowers and Churches as a whole are to be Sowers.
But it is not always easy.

14-15—they hear, but Satan takes it away

We are responsible to sow the word, sow the gospel, sow Jesus—many times, over and over again.

In many cases, neither you nor the church will receive any direct benefit from it. Much of what we do will not return to us. The seed falls and it does not produce the fruit of a changed life.

But God still sees the Sower as Faithful—the growth is a factor of the Work of God and the condition of the Heart upon whom it lands. God will hold the sower responsible if he fails or is unwilling to sow the seed in the same way that a Watchman in Ezek. 33 is held responsible for the blood of those who die because they neglect their duty on the wall.

We must be about Sowing. Much of our efforts to share the secret, the mystery of the Kingdom of God will be like this—you throw it out there but it never takes root. It comes back without fruit—it is snatched away—the enemy keeps someone in chains.

We tend to look at that as a failure—as somehow a lack of faith—but it is not so.

Some may look at it as the foolishness of the sower to waste such seed on the path—he should be more careful and only put it in the places he knows it will take root. That’s “spending his money wisely”. But do not think for a moment that the Word is void even in this situation. It is by no means void—it will not return

Isaiah 55: ISA 55:10 As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
ISA 55:11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

Even the word on the path, accomplishes what He desires—it may be one step, one act of soil preparation in the path of the person hearing the word. It may be removing any excuse or defense—actually increasing the rightness of God’s judgment. But regardless of what happens with the one on whom the seed falls—
Sowing the Good News, sowing God’s Word changes the Sower—the more the Sower sows, the greater the closeness to, the dependence on, the trust and expectation from God.

He who sows little, harvests little. Those who sow sparingly are not trusting of the one who has called, hired, and told them to sow.

“Satan comes and takes away the word sown in them” Satan also uses that in the heart of the sower—to discourage you from sowing any more, to dissuade you from the hope of ever seeing a harvest.

How long has it been since you’ve been a part of a harvest? Have you forgotten the joy and thrill of seeing someone respond in faith—to see the light ignite in their hearts and eyes? Has it kept you from sharing your story, from inviting, from praying at all?

Satan comes to steal it away to keep faith from taking root, and also with the hope of stopping the sower.

READ vs. 16-17

There are many people that the church meets, speaks to, and shares Christ with and respond. There’s an excitement, there’s an expectation. Both the Sower and the Receiver are greatly encouraged. They respond to your invitation and come to try it out—but quickly conclude that it’s not for them—so they quickly disappear—we no longer see them. Often, they may stay for a while, but eventually they will move on to something new. Maybe they see difficulty and trouble and move on, maybe they will see strife, gossip and bickering, maybe they will get their feelings hurt.

That is the pattern of church shopping and hopping. “if you ever find the perfect church—don’t join it because you will instantly corrupt it.”

Fewer and fewer will stay in one church for their whole lives, very few who will be committed to one denomination over their lives. How many of you grew up SBC? Churches are constantly seeing people come in and leave—even in the best and most healthy churches this happens.

I just spoke to the minister who married Vicky and I—the pastor of a good and vibrant church and ministry, he’s been the pastor of the church for about 20 years. He told me his church is currently plateaued because they are losing (despite their best efforts) just as many new people they bring in.

70% of SBC churches are plateaued or declining. Worse, only 11% of SBC churches were experiencing healthy growth.

People leave and move on from churches regularly—it is not unusual— In part, this is what we’re seeing now—for various reasons people are moving on—you and I both know of those who have responded, visited, and left quickly. Some may have stayed for a while but were never planning on staying for long. Still others, as you know, are retiring and relocating.

Some of the causes for people leaving are recent, other causes have been simmering for years, some are the typical pattern of the church in America—especially here—as I was told when my family first moved here—the mobility of the university population has for many years been considered a hindrance to growth at UBC.

This situation—those who receive it—only for a short time—can again very discouraging for the Sower. Why bother to invest the seed, the time when it’s not going to last? Affliction and trouble is just going to undo what we’ve been trying to do.

That kind of discouragement—for the Sower, for those who stay is what contributes to the next: READ vs. 18-19

These are ones in which the faith has grown—they have had all the time to grow, they are in the time of harvest, but when checked for fruit, they have little to none. In relation to the church, these are the ones who have sat in the pew all their lives and never invited, never shared, never led anyone to Christ.

It is possible to hear the word, to receive it and still be Unfruitful. Because of discouragement, but also other things beside their walk with Christ become more important, become obstacles to true faithfulness—nothing happens in their life even though they’ve been sitting in the pews every Sunday and nothing happens—There is no Power, there is No sense of Victory, no Demonstration of the Work of the Spirit.

Sure they may be getting fed the word, some of the fruit of the Spirit grows in them, but it’s as if they are grain forever locked up in the storehouse—they never get out and contribute to a crop of their own.

Here is the cause—
• worries of life distract us from our true mission—
• the deceitfulness or seduction of wealth—get in the way, desires for other things—
• things less important keep us from doing what is truly important.

Every church has people drop out and disappear—we should never accept it or take it lightly, However, when people leave they typically have a reason. we should seek to be corrective when the church is or other members are at fault, forgiving, redeeming, reconciling and amiable.

However, the thing that will kill any church is not people who leave—the thing that kills a church is a
Failure to Sow and Sow a lot and Sow Generously, Lavishly.
Hoarding the Seed may allow you to eat for a little while, but your Future is Gone.
Not Reaching out to new people, not inviting, not sharing, not grabbing hold of the mission of Christ and taking it out to those who do not have a church home, who don’t want one. Having no love for the lost, no urgency to their salvation is a sign that the Weeds have come up and chocked out our Fruitfulness.

“Over time, most churches plateau, and most eventually decline. Typically, they start strong or experience periods of growth, but then they stagnate. Patterns and traditions that once seemed special eventually lose their meaning. Churches that were once outwardly focused eventually become worried about the wrong things. They become more concerned about a well used policy manual than a well used baptistery.”—pg 17

We must reconnect with our mission—the one Jesus gave to us as a reason for existence here on earth—we must recapture an urgency for sowing by awakening a true love and concern for the lost. Jesus outside of Jerusalem wept for those unwilling to embrace Him in faith. And our attitude according to Philippians 2 is to be the same as that of Christ Jesus.

It’s not going to be by memorizing a new outline though that may help you, but by continuing to fight, not losing hope, continuing to sow and trust the results to God—He makes it all grow.

A growing church requires each person using their gifts to serve and minister to others, sharing their life story, deliberately seeking out and praying for their friends, neighbors and co-workers, requires each person to be a growing and fruitful disciple. Fruitfulness is one way to measure growth. Fruitlessness is one way to measure distraction.

If you don’t ever share your story, if you don’t ever pray for another person in person, if you don’t ever invite anyone to church, or tell them of the life-changing power of Jesus Christ—then you are missing something as a disciple of Christ. And the church is missing something from it’s body—one thing that means is that we are unfruitful. Sowing People make a Sowing Church.

I’ve been asking around, asking previous members and ministers and observing and my fear is that we are not a sowing church. That’s why we can see almost a generation and a half missing from the church. We have children & youth and then roughly 45’s and up. The only ones in the 20-30’s range are on staff.

If our church were to close its doors today, would anyone besides our own member notice?
Would the city be saddened because such a great community-transformation partner—a missionary of impact was gone? Or would it even miss a beat?

Jesus is the Light of the World—but in Matt. 5:14 He calls us the light of the world—the light that should not be hidden,

The light we have is not meant to be hidden, the mystery and secret we have been given is not meant to be concealed.

Vs. 22, 24-25

We must hold on to the hope that is found in vs. 20—that those who receive and become fruitful will produce a wonderful harvest.

The Heart of a Sower—

I’ve got this seed—I’ve been saving it—it is precious—it is the future—it is the future of my family, it is the future of my people—only by scattering and being generous with this precious seed do any of us have any hope. I can’t guarantee the harvest, for each seed, I don’t know if it will produce anything, if I will see any harvest from it. I have faith & hope. The only thing I am certain of is that I don’t scatter it—there will be no harvest.

Individually, you must be a sower—scattering the seed of your faith at every possible moment. But even bigger than you individually—our family, our fellowship must be a sowing church.

Only if we are willing to sow will we ever see an increase. We need, I believe to repent of our unwillingness to sow.