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Demons, Men, or Whatever

20070810p2_01A few nights ago I fell asleep on the couch in my office. When I awoke, I could not move. A sense of dread came over me. I felt invisible hands tighten around my throat and I could not breathe. A voice in my head whispered, “I hate you. I have always hated you. I’ve tried to kill you so many times. Tonight’s the night. Tonight you die.

“Now a few friends of mine would immediately leap to “It was a demon! You were under attack!” But of course I know better. First of all, I’m pretty much a strict cessationist and I don’t mind who knows that. Second of all, I’ve dealt with sleep paralysis most of my life and I can easily recognize it when it happens now.

Despite that, when the invisible hands tightened around my throat and the malign voice whispered deadly threats, I prayed silently but seriously that God my Father intervene and save me.

And He did. No sooner had I finished the prayer than did the hands release me, the voice was silenced, and I drifted back to sleep again. God heard my cry and rescued me from my peril, of that I have no doubt. It’s what He does. Rescue people.

Now my certain friends become puzzled. “If you do not believe in ongoing demonic possession or oppression or sign gifts, and were sure it was just sleep paralysis, why then did you pray?”

To answer this, I quote one of my all time favorite hymns, Master the Tempest is Raging:

Whether the wrath of the storm-tossed sea
Or demons or men or whatever it be,
No waters can swallow the ship where lies
The Master of ocean and earth and skies.
They all shall sweetly obey thy will.

The stage of the hymn is set when the disciples are out at sea in a storm while Jesus is sleeping. They awaken Him, begging that He calm the storm and save them. Many scholars have debated whether the storm was just a storm or whether it was really sent by “the prince of the air,” that is the Devil.

To the hymn writer, though, the source of the storm is irrelevant. What matters is that no matter what it’s source, it cannot destroy the Creator and it must obey His will.

So was I attacked by a demon a few nights ago? I seriously doubt it. Was I in danger? Possibly, we really don’t know a lot about sleep paralysis. Much of it is in a person’s head, but there are physiological responses to the stimuli and it is possible that an episode of sleep paralysis could trigger a secondary health episode of far greater consequence.

But rest assured, demons, men, or whatever it was, my God can handle it.

And that’s why I prayed.

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Posted by on October 1, 2015 in Theology

 

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A Genuine Prayer

This is a prayer that has challenged me ever since I heard it. It is a genuine prayer, full of the hard stuff every Christian should embrace, but we find so hard to do.

“May your heart break enough that compassion enters in
May your strength all be spent upon the weak
All the castles and crowns you build and place upon your head
May they all fall, come crashing down around your feet
May you find every step to be harder than the last
So your character grows greater every stride
May your company be of human insignificance
May your weakness be your only source of pride
What you do unto others, may it all be done to you
May you meet the One who made us
And see Him smile when life is through
May your blessings be many but not what you hoped they’d be
And when you look upon the broken
May mercy show you what you could not see
May you never be sure of any plans you desire
But you’d learn to trust the plan He has for you
May your passions be tried and tested in the holy fire
May you fight with all your life for what is true.”
(from Kendall Payne’s Pray)

Would you feel comfortable if someone prayed this over you? Would you pray this for others?

 
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Posted by on September 8, 2010 in Sanctification

 

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Easter 1951

I want to share this quote from America’s recent past:

“America without God is a body without breath; and a body without breath is a corpse. A selfish, rotten spirit has siezed too many of our people. America is called upon by God to fullfill a high destiny. A corrupt and Godless America cannot fullfil it. A Christ-redeemed, God-inspired America can. God grant that Christ’s Ressurection may so touch and change us this day that we live the rest of our lives in the unforgettable light of the miracle God performed in raising Jesus Christ from the dead.”

Dr. Samuel M. Shoemaker, rector of Calvary Protestant Episcopal Church, Easter 1951.(Source:New York Times)

I share this with you for two reasons. One, because I agree with Dr. Shoemaker, and two, because it is important to understand that Dr. Shoemaker recognized this cancer within America during the age which many today see as a golden and “Christian” one. Clearly the America of the 1950s was dealing with the same godlessness we face today.

 
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Posted by on September 2, 2010 in History

 

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Modern Idolatry

In ancient times, people bowed down to graven images, praised them and prayed to them. God told them to stop worshiping those no-gods and worship Him instead.

Today, He still calls us away from our idols. The idols may have changed form (today they are money, entertainment, illicit sex and so forth) but they are still idolotry.

The worship of idols has also changed. When I make something an idol, I don’t bow down and sing praises to it. Instead, I spend time with it, I think about it, and I look forward to enjoying it. It is first on my heart, first in my thoughts, and is what consumes my day to day meditations.

God doesn’t want just any kind of worship from us, he wants the worship we give to our idols. If I bow to God and sing his praises but spend all my time and thought on an idol like a video game, then the worship I am giving God is a sham and my real worship is going to worthless no-gods. Worthless no-gods that did not die for me, are not real, and will perish with time.

God doesn’t want your money, he doesn’t want a song, and he doesn’t want Sunday, he wants you, all of you.

 
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Posted by on August 18, 2010 in Theology

 

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Quiet Time

Meeting with God every day, consistently, is of utmost importance to every believer.

Many call this daily meeting “quiet time”. Quiet time is a period of the day, usually in the morning for most people, but it can be any time, that a believer sets aside (consecrates) for meeting with the Lord. During this time the believer prays and talks to God the Father and reads his Word.

This is not the only time a believer prays. We should pray all day, constantly conversing with our Father in Heaven. It is, however, a time when the believer gives to God his full attention. There are several things a believer will want to address in his conversation with God.

Admiration
God Almighty is worthy of praise for just being God. Take the time to reflect on who God really is and how awesome he is. Do not forget who you are and how you compare to the great I AM. This helps the believer keep proper perspective in life.

Gratitude
During this time, a believer should reflect on the things God has done for him, thanking God for each blessing. This helps the believer remember God’s faithfulness and helps him lean on God for aid in future struggles.

Forgiveness and Improvement
The believer should ask God’s assistance in searching his own soul for sin and areas where he can improve, asking God for forgiveness and help in becoming less like himself and more like Christ. If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us. (1 John 1:9) Every believer should desire to die to self and live in Christ. (John 3:30)

Protection
Make no mistake, Satan is out to destroy us all. It is vital to seek God’s help against all temptation, especially those you know you are weakest to. (Matthew 6:13)

Supplication for Oneself
Our help and our portion is from the Lord alone. (Psalm 142:5) He supplies us with all we need. (Matthew 6:25-34) So cast all your concerns and cares to the Lord, because he cares about you. (1 Peter 5:7)

Supplication for Others
Pray for others, because your prayers can help them more than you realize. (James 5:16)We should not look out only for us, but care for others also. (Philippians 2:4)

Take time to be Silent
Finally, remember that all prayer, but especially this one, should be a conversation, not a monologue. Take time to be silent as well as speak, allow the Spirit of God to work in you, and you might be surprised to find the Lord has things to reveal to you as well. At this time more than others, when you are at rest and quiet, God can call to your mind by his Spirit things you need to know. People you need to pray for, and convict you of things you are hiding. Allow the Lord time to speak.

Spend time in the Word
The other part of quiet time is spending time in the Word. From time to time, at church and other places, the believer may open his copy of the Bible for study or reference. But the Word is alive, and each believer should spend time each day simply reading from the Word, which God himself breathed into existence. (2 Timothy 3:16) The Word is the best way to know God’s will and it is how God chooses to communicate directly and clearly with you. Spending time in the Word is spending time with God.

Keep your Appointment
It does not matter what time you set for this, but you must keep your appointments. Delaying or putting off the time often leads to it disappearing all together, and even if you do succeed in delaying but still having it, you have insulted God by telling him he is not as important as your schedule. Meeting with God should be our top priority every day.

In my own life, I admit, my quiet time has had its ups and downs. There have been periods where I was consistently spending quality time with God every day, and my life was active and filled with joy. I had confidence the world could not explain. The times where I foolishly allowed that time to go by the wayside, my life became dull. I became fearful and inconsistent in my walk with Christ.

Recently, I have had a revival in my quiet time, and I do not intend to allow it to go by the wayside again. Once again, I have become more active, joyful, and confident because I meet with my Lord, Father, and best friend every day.

I encourage you to revive your quiet time if it is waning, and to start one if it is lacking. You will reap blessings if you do.

 
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Posted by on November 12, 2008 in Sanctification

 

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Flag Worship

Recently, I attended a Christian men’s conference. It was a wonderful experince that helped my Christian walk tremendously.

However, when the conference started, it opened not with a prayer, psalm or spiritual song, but the Star Spangled Banner, the United States’ National Anthem.

I will admit, I did not sing along or put my hand over my chest. I didn’t show any respect. I was too busy staring at everyone with my jaw on the floor. It would have been bad enough to venerate a nation when were supposed to be gathered to worship the Living God of all the earth, but to place such a thing before God? To have this before meeting with the Lord?

I am very grateful to God that He, in His mercy, arranged my dwelling place to be in this nation. For here there is always plenty to eat, and I am not physically abused or persecuted for my faith in Christ. I am obedient to my government only as much as commanded by the Lord, who says to obey the laws of the land, respect my leaders, and live in peace. I am a loyal citizen of only one Kingdom and one people, the Kingdom and people of God Most High. I am merely a pilgrim in America, pitching my tent here until the Lord bids me go elsewhere. I am a foriegner in a strange land no matter where I go on this earth.

It seems that there are many Christians living in the U.S. who believe the U.S. to be special, better than other lands in the eyes of God. Perhaps some believe it to be the “city on a hill” that many Puritan and Seperatists hoped it would be when they first settled in the New World. I am sad to say that none of this is true. The U.S. is not a “godly nation” and it never has been. Like every nation on the earth, it is filled with godless men who pervert the ways of righteousness and satisfy their evil desires, and only a small remnant have turned back to God and have been brought into the everlasting covenant with Christ Jesus.

Why do Christians in the U.S. believe it is good to glorify and honor America? Do we not say and sing “to God be the glory”, or “glory to God alone”? If so, why do we then give honor and praise to the United States, its leaders, its flag, or any such thing?

My church has a Fourth of July service each year. Every time we sing several songs in honor to the nation which do not mention the Lord our God. I feel grieved in my spirit every time it happens.

I see nothing wrong with thanking God for our country, or for placing us in it, or to pray for our leaders, that God would guide and handle them for His glory and His Kingdom. But to glorify the land itself, or the nation itself is little more than idolotry.

On a side note, I find it interesting that the National Anthem of the U.S. was once “America the Beautiful”, which not only mentions God but glorifies and thanks Him. Now it is replaced by a poem made song of an entierly secular nature. I wonder why there aren’t any Christian protests about that when there are so many over other things.

Bretheren, I am happy to be in the United States, but I would take up my house, as Abram did, and leave for foriegn lands should the Lord ask it. I would have trouble adjusting, I am certain, for I am still in the flesh, but I would be just as welcome and as foriegn there as here, for my God is King of Kings and is Lord of all the earth.

America exsits only because God wills it. For the time being, America serves the Lord’s purposes, willingly or unwillingly. The day may soon come however when the Lord no longer has need of America, and will bring it down just as He brought down all the nations and empires of old. America is not special, it is no different than Rome or Babylon or any other great empire or kingdom.

The only kingdom to be exalted is the Kingdom of God, which is not of this world. For if it had been, God would already have set it up here with power. (John 18:36) We are only pilgrims in this land, we are only passing through. Do not worship this land or the flag above it, for they shall pass.

 
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Posted by on August 12, 2008 in Sanctification

 

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Best Friends Forever?

Many of us who walk with the Lord Jesus Christ see Him as our kind and compassionate friend, among other things.

In many sermons of late, however, I have heard many preachers say something to the effect; “Too many Christians see God as a friend and buddy, and fail to treat Him with respect. They call on Him only when they need Him, and are quick to leave Him or deny Him when it is convenient.”

Because of this, some people say we should not view God as a friend, or we won’t treat Him with the proper love and respect, but I say what is your definition of a friend? Is a friend someone you only call upon to solve your problems? Is a friend someone you would walk away from or deny in a time of crisis or hardship? Perhaps our view of God as a friend is not the problem, but instead it is our idea of what friendship is that is flawed.

Our Lord said that there is no greater love than a man lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13)

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. (Proverbs 17:17)

Do not forsake your friend and the friend of your father, and do not go to your brother’s house when disaster strikes you— better a neighbor nearby than a brother far away. (Proverbs 27:10)

These are only a sample of what the Word has to tell us about true friendship and brotherhood. So I say yes, the Lord Christ is my good friend, my best friend, my everlasting friend, and at times, He has been my only friend. I will serve Him faithfully as a loyal friend and will lay down my life daily as a living sacrifice for Him. Blessed is the name of the Lord, who is my trusted friend.

 
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Posted by on August 8, 2008 in Christology

 

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