Monday, May 26, 2014

Mark 5:18-20

This commentary or exposition (I don't know the better word to use... Simply Google-ing might work, but its VERY late. Ha!) really made broadcasting the following important to me because of the powerful description and deconstruction of what was a confusing passage. I had always know this story, but when I slowed myself down in reading the verses of "Jesus Heals a Man with a Demon, Mark 5:1-20" some of it didn't seem to flow with how Jesus had worked previously in Mark. Like I said, I've read this passage before and reading back over it didn't change what I originally thought about it in my heart and head.

What it did for me was paint an even grander, beautiful picture of this miracle. Jesus worked such an amazing thing here that Mark took more time describing this one exorcism than usual. This commentary/exposition was a reminder to myself that what I can't comprehend or understand about my own life and its direction doesn't always need my own understanding. Its a reminder to trust God and to trust His plans for my life. God's in control and that's an awesome thing! Furthermore, God desires me, wants a relationship with me and always loves me! I am going to continue to stumble and struggle with life's temptations and my own desires, but God always loves me and always will. He's going to be with me even when he seems to be "on the other side of the lake"and I'm sometimes left in places that "begged him to depart." He is with me (you) always.

Below is copy and pasted from - Reference:

MacLaren's Exposition of Mark 5:18-20




Mark 5:18 - Mark 5:19.

There are three requests, singularly contrasted with each other, made to Christ in the course of this miracle of healing the Gadarene demoniac. The evil spirits ask to be permitted to go into the swine; the men of the country, caring more for their swine than their Saviour, beg Him to take Himself away, and relieve them of His unwelcome presence; the demoniac beseeches Him to be allowed to stop beside Him. Two of the requests are granted; one is refused. The one that was refused is the one that we might have expected to be granted.
Christ forces Himself upon no man, and so, when they besought Him to go, He went, and took salvation with Him in the boat. Christ withdraws Himself from no man who desires Him. ‘Howbeit Jesus suffered him not, and said, Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee.’
Now, do you not think that if we put these three petitions and their diverse answers together, and look especially at this last one, where the natural wish was refused, we ought to be able to learn some lessons? The first thing I would notice is, the clinging of the healed man to his Healer.
Think of him half an hour before, a raging maniac; now all at once conscious of a strange new sanity and calmness; instead of lashing himself about, and cutting himself with stones, and rending his chains and fetters, ‘sitting clothed, and in his right mind,’ at the feet of Jesus. No wonder that he feared that when the Healer went the demons would come back-no wonder that he besought Him that he might still keep within that quiet sacred circle of light which streamed from His presence, across the border of which no evil thing could pass. Love bound him to his Benefactor; dread made him shudder at the thought of losing his sole Protector, and being again left, in that partly heathen land, solitary, to battle with the strong foes that had so long rioted in his house of life. And so ‘he begged that he might be with Him.’
That poor heathen man-for you must remember that this miracle was not wrought on the sacred soil of Palestine-that poor heathen man, just having caught a glimpse of how calm and blessed life might be, is the type of us all. And there is something wrong with us if our love does not, like his, desire above all things the presence of Jesus Christ; and if our consciousness of impotence does not, in like manner, drive us to long that our sole Deliverer shall not be far away from us. Merchant-ships in time of war, like a flock of timid birds, keep as near as they can to the armed convoy, for the only safety from the guns of the enemy’s cruisers is in keeping close to their strong protector. The traveler upon some rough, unknown road, in the dark, holds on by his guide’s skirts or hand, and feels that if he loses touch he loses the possibility of safety. A child clings to his parent when dangers are round him. The convalescent patient does not like to part with his doctor. And if we rightly learned who it is that has cured us, and what is the condition of our continuing whole and sound, like this man we shall pray that He may suffer us to be with Him. Fill the heart with Christ, and there is no room for the many evil spirits that make up the legion that torments it The empty heart invites the devils, and they come back, Even if it is ‘swept and garnished,’ and brought into respectability, propriety, and morality, they come back, There is only one way to keep them out; when the ark is in the Temple, Dagon will be lying, like the brute form that he is, a stump upon the threshold. The condition of our security is close contact with Jesus Christ. If we know the facts of life, the temptations that ring us round, the weakness of these wayward wills of ours, and the strength of this intrusive and masterful flesh and sense that we have to rule, we shall know and feel that our only safety is our Master’s presence.
Further, note the strange refusal.
Jesus Christ went through the world, or at least the little corner of it which His earthly career occupied, seeking for men that desired to have Him, and it is impossible that He should have put away any soul that desired to be present with Him. Yet, though His one aim was to draw men to Him, and the prospect that He should be able to exercise a stronger attraction over a wider area reconciled Him to the prospect of the Cross, so that He said in triumph, ‘I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me,’ he meets this heathen man, feeble in his crude and recent sanity, with a flat refusal. ‘He suffered him not.’ Most probably the reason for the strange and apparently anomalous dealing with such a desire was to be found in the man’s temperament. Most likely it was the best thing for him that he should stop quietly in his own house, and have no continuance of the excitement and perpetual change which would have necessarily been his lot if he had been allowed to go with Jesus Christ. We may be quite sure that when the Lord with one hand seemed to put him away, He was really, with a stronger attraction, drawing him to Himself; and that the peculiarity of the method of treatment was determined with exclusive reference to the real necessities of the person who was subject to it.
But yet, underlying the special case, and capable of being stated in the most general terms, lies this thought, that Jesus Christ’s presence, the substance of the demoniac’s desire, may be as completely, and, in some cases, will be more completely, realised amongst the secularities of ordinary life than amidst the sanctities of outward communion and companionship with Him. Jesus was beginning here to wean the man from his sensuous dependence upon His localized and material presence. It was good for him, and it is good for us all, to ‘feel our feet,’ so to speak. Responsibility laid, and felt to be laid, upon us is a steadying and ennobling influence. And it was better that the demoniac should learn to stand calmly, when apparently alone, than that he should childishly be relying on the mere external presence of his Deliverer.
Be sure of this, that when the Lord went away across the lake, He left His heart and His thoughts, and His care and His power over there, on the heathen side of the sea; and that when ‘the people thronged Him’ on the other side, and the poor woman pressed through the crowd, that virtue might come to her by her touch, virtue was at the same time raying out across the water to the solitary newly healed demoniac, to sustain him too.
And so we may all learn that we may have, and it depends upon ourselves whether we do or do not have, all protection all companionship, and all the sweetness of Christ’s companionship and the security of Christ’s protection just as completely when we are at home amongst our friends-that is to say, when we are about our daily work, and in the secularities of our calling or profession-as when we are in the ‘secret place of the Most High’ and holding fellowship with a present Christ. Oh, to carry Him with us into every duty, to realize Him in all circumstances, to see the light of His face shine amidst the darkness of calamity, and the pointing of His directing finger showing us our road amidst all perplexities of life! Brethren, that is possible. When Jesus Christ ‘suffered him not to go with Him,’ Jesus Christ stayed behind with the man.
Lastly, we have here the duty enjoined.
‘Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee.’ The man went home and translated the injunction into word and deed. As I said, the reason for the peculiarity of his treatment, in his request being refused, was probably his peculiar temperament. So again I would say the reason for the commandment laid upon him, which is also anomalous, was probably the peculiarity of his disposition. Usually our Lord was careful to enjoin silence upon those whom He benefited by His miraculous cures. That injunction of silence was largely owing to His desire not to create or fan the flame of popular excitement. But that risk was chiefly to be guarded against in the land of Israel, and here, where we have a miracle upon Gentile soil, there was not the same occasion for avoiding talk and notoriety.
But probably the main reason for the exceptional commandment to go and publish abroad what the Lord had done was to be found in the simple fact that this man’s malady and his disposition were such that external work of some sort was the best thing to prevent him from relapsing into his former condition. His declaration to everybody of his cure would help to confirm his cure; and whilst he was speaking about being healed, he would more and more realise to himself that he was healed. Having work to do would take him out of himself, which no doubt was a great security against the recurrence of the evil from which he had been delivered. But however that may be, look at the plain lesson that lies here. Every healed man should be a witness to his Healer; and there is no better way of witnessing than by our lives, by the elevation manifested in our aims, by our aversion from all low, earthly, gross things, by the conspicuous-not made conspicuous by us, conspicuous because it cannot be hid-concentration and devotion, and unselfishness and Christ-likeness of our daily lives to show that we are really healed. If we manifest these things in our conduct, then, when we say ‘it was Jesus Christ that healed me,’ people will be apt to believe us. But if this man had gone away into the mountains and amongst the tombs as he used to do, and had continued all the former characteristics of his devil-ridden life, who would have believed him when he talked about being healed? And who ought to believe you when you say, ‘Christ is my Saviour,’ if your lives are, to all outward seeming, exactly what they were before? The sphere in which the healed man’s witness was to be borne tested the reality of his healing. ‘Go home to thy friends, and tell them.’ I wonder how many Christian professors there are who would be least easily believed by those who live in the same house with them, if they said that Jesus had cast their devils out of them. It is a great mistake to take recent converts, especially if they have been very profligate beforehand, and to hawk them about the country as trophies of God’s converting power. Let them stop at home, and bethink themselves, and get sober and confirmed, and let their changed lives prove the reality of Christ’s healing power. They can speak to some purpose after that.
Further, remember that there is no better way for keeping out devils than working for Jesus Christ. Many a man finds that the true cure-say, for instance, of doubts that buzz about him and disturb him, is to go away and talk to some one about his Saviour. Work for Jesus amongst people that do not know Him is a wonderful sieve for sifting out the fundamental articles of the Christian faith. And when we go to other people, and tell them of that Lord, and see how the message is sometimes received, and what it sometimes does, we come away with confirmed faith.
But, in any case, it is better to work for Him than to sit alone, thinking about Him. The two things have to go together; and I know very well that there is a great danger, in the present day, of exaggeration, and insisting too exclusively upon the duty of Christian work whilst neglecting to insist upon the duty of Christian meditation. But, on the other hand, it blows the cobwebs out of a man’s brain; it puts vigour into him, it releases him from himself, and gives him something better to think about, when he listens to the Master’s voice, ‘Go home to thy friends, and tell them what great things the Lord hath done for thee.’
‘Master! it is good for us to be here. Let us make three tabernacles. Stay here; let us enjoy ourselves up in the clouds, with Moses and Elias; and never mind about what goes on below.’ But there was a demoniac boy down there that needed to be healed; and the father was at his wits’ end, and the disciples were at theirs because they could not heal him. And so Jesus Christ turned His back upon the Mount of Transfiguration, and the company of the blessed two, and the Voice that said, ‘This is My beloved Son,’ and hurried down where human woes called Him, and found that He was as near God, and so did Peter and James and John, as when up there amid the glory.
‘Go home to thy friends, and tell them’; and you will find that to do that is the best way to realize the desire which seemed to be put aside, the desire for the presence of Christ. For be sure that wherever He may not be, He always is where a man, in obedience to Him, is doing His commandments. So when He said, ‘Go home to thy friends,’ He was answering the request that He seamed to reject, and when the Gadarene obeyed, he would find, to his astonishment and his grateful wonder, that the Lord had not gone away in the boat, but was with him still. ‘Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel. Lo! I am with you always.’

Monday, November 18, 2013

Gospel for Asia

Gospel for Asia ministries has produced "Forgotten Christmas."  Take a moment to view the video, then let's continue our conversation.

It's estimated that Americans will spend $400 billion on Christmas this year.  Forty percent of the toys given in December will be broken by March.  Fifty percent of us will spend more than we can afford.  A third of us will take six months to pay off our Christmas spending.  And 20 percent will have trouble making their mortgage or rent payment in January because of Christmas spending.

The commercialism of Christmas continues apace.  Kmart aired its first Christmas ad last September.  More than a dozen major retailers will be open all day Thanksgiving for Christmas shopping, rendering Abraham Lincoln's vision of "a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father" less relevant than ever.

How do we balance the holiday of Christmas with the holy day of Christ's birth?

Paul instructed Timothy: "As for those who in the present age are rich, command them not to be haughty, or to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but rather on God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment" (1 Timothy 6:17, NRSV).  Here we find two truths in apparent conflict.

On one hand, we are not to confuse prosperity with purpose.  Paul warns that riches are "uncertain"—the Greek word describes a foundation that could crumble and cause the house to collapse.  Hebrews 13:5 warns us to "keep your life free from the love of money, and be content with what you have."  1 Timothy 6:10 adds that "the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils."  Ecclesiastes 5:10 predicts, "He who loves money will not be satisfied with money."

On the other hand, God "richly" (plousios, abundantly, extremely) gives us what we have for our "enjoyment" (apolausis, pleasure, profit, advantage, joyfulness).  Our Father has "plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope" (Jeremiah 29:11).

A way to harmonize these truths is to use our material possessions for eternal purposes.  From Abraham and Barnabas to today, the Lord uses wealth for his glory and our good.  According to the Gospel for Asia video, one percent of what we spend on Christmas gifts would provide clean water to over a billion people in South Asia and a Bible to everyone in the world.  By giving that amount to ministries, millions could hear about the first Christmas for the first time this year.

How can we make Christmas less commercial and more spiritual?  Please share your thoughts in our comments section.  And ask the Lord how he wants the holidays to be holy days for you and your family.  Mother Teresa was right: "It is Christmas every time you let God love others through you."

- Written by Jim Denison

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Personal Testimony to Baseball Turmoil

 Recently, the original organization I was going to join up with and I split ways.  I'm not writing this blog post to recount the events in which that all occurred, but to share with you how God is presently at work through all of this.  The cutting of ties with that organization and the feelings I felt at are certainly important, but their importance is resigned to the fact that because of them, the absolute devestation that seemed invevitable, are proving to be the source of another one of God's unpredictable and astonishing way of working in my life as well as every life of my teams and their families.

I have shared with my Bible study that I am leaving for Arizona tomorrow night to have surgery on Tuesday and I got an email tonight from on of my friends in it.  They know I coach baseball and I have shared with them my request to pray for the team and I  every week it seems before the split ever happened.  He wrote tonight to tell me that the group was praying for me.  I was planning on writing back a short thank you, but instead I shared with him what I can attest to being God's work in the team and I's lives.

Thank You Brother.

Your words mean a lot to me and I'm blessed to have so many people praying for us!  I'm sorry I wasn't there Wednesday and hope y'all still were able to make it without me - ha!  Thank you for your prayers for my baseball team as well.  I'll tell you more about it when I see you again but in short, I am no longer with the organization I had expecting to be joining.  This is with complete support of every parent and baseball associate from my two teams.  It was an unexpected and very unfortunate turn of events that came with what seemed to be devastating consequences to me, my teams and my players.
I am going to be completely honest with anyone that asks... God is taking care of us!  The 14U team will no longer be playing together and being this late in the game with tryouts for all organizations almost over, I was fearful that these amazing young men would have a hard time finding a team that they could continue to develop with, that suited their skill levels and actually cared about them.  God has found them all (but one) a team.  The one kid who doesn't, I'm confident will have a team yet will next weekend when he's back in town from boy scouts.
The 11U team was in the same boat but not to as great an extent.  Returning from my original team will be my two best players.  The talent level aside, those two kids also have exceptional parents and families that I have wonderful relationships with.  Two is not an insignificant number, because really only five were going to move on to a more competitive schedule and commitment which was the direction I was planning on taking my teams.  I was only going into the spring season with the expectation of keeping only four players.  When the kids are this age, I would say this is generally the case when making a decision whether they really want to pursue playing a sport or if they just want to play rec.
The 11U team is already at 8 and from meeting with and evaluating the players (and parents) coming to the team, we actually have a really strong bunch!  The parents I have met aren't crazy and are so supportive!  The kids are talented and I see a lot of potential in them.  They are just the kind of kids I want to coach - good kids and good players.
God has blessed us and is working His plan throughout all of this.  Yes, it hurt a ton but I already see Him at work.  The 14U team and I had developed a very special relationship and established almost a family-like culture.  Since the move away from the organization, it has only gotten stronger.  I can't wait to see the kids continue playing baseball and to see them around.  I was with a couple 11U's yesterday and saw the 14U's fishing at the same park.  One by one they showed up.  I didn't realize it until after practice, but every single one of the core members of that team were there!  It was a very heartfelt moment for me and I still feel the happiness I got from seeing them all together still.  We all had burgers tonight before my trip which they organized.
God is doing amazing things in my life and I know He is as well in the rest of the Dallas Shooters' lives.
Thank you for your prayers and I can't wait to see you guys again!
- Rob

Friday, November 15, 2013

Story: The Grace of Christianity

An elderly professor of world religions surprised his colleagues
by declaring his commitment to Christ.

He explained: 

"It was as if I had fallen into a deep, abandoned well.

Muhammad came by and told me it was the will of
Allah that I be in this well, then he left.

The Buddha came by and told me if I would cease desire
I would cease to suffer in the well, then he left.

A Hindu teacher came by and told me if I was faithful in the well
I would escape through reincarnation, then he left.

Confucius came by and told me if I'd not tripped
I would not be in the well, then he left.

Jesus came by, saw me, and got into the well with me.  

That is why I am a Christian."