Monday, August 30, 2010

"I had to exorcise a few!" a Southern Baptist missionary told me

In the novel I'm writing, my heroine stands at a tomb and makes up a charm. Her husband warns her not to.

She protests. "But God is love. He won't let anything happen to us."

He shakes his head and pulls her close. "It's not that simple."

And a lot happens, both funny and tragic.

At a church meeting, after others had left, I  asked a Southern Baptist missionary back from Indonesia if he'd ever had to "have deliverance" for those involved with witch doctors. I didn't want to use the more dramatic e-word. He used it: "I had to exorcise a few!"

He added that his generator wouldn't work under the "demons' tree." He had to move it. "If you'd told me this in seminary, I wouldn't have believed it!"

What an indictment of the seminaries. My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge, Hosea 4:6.

One of my Facebook friends said the missionary probably could have solved that problem without moving it, just using the name of Jesus. I agree.

Anyway, you may have to ask when everyone else isn't around, but missionaries will tell you some interesting things.

Some people say that unbelief here in the West hides demonic activity from view. Imagine what things must have been like before Jesus disarmed the enemy!

 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. Colossians 2:15

What a wonderful LORD. Many Christians, especially here in the West, have discounted and ignored this and other key principles and replaced them with a socialized, humanized gospel--to the detriment of ourselves and the world. We have a valid concern--we don't want to attribute every head cold or bad habit to demons, obviously.

But we also overlook the "all things whatsoever." that Jesus mentioned in Matthew 28, which refers back to Matthew 10--"Heal the sick...cast out devils...." Details.

And when we do read it, we don't expect it.

It's a vicious cycle. And God misses out on a lot of credit and glory when we don't see Him in action the way we could.

On the other hand, amusement in the occult is rising, even among Christians. This is sad.

If God hates something--such as sorcery and witchcraft, and He says He does in Deuteronomy 18 and Galatians 5--should we who love Him and took advantage of His wonderful, terrible sacrifice be entertained even with stories about what our Creator and Savior hates?

See "Twilight of Loyalty?" if you like.

And why should the enemy heed our rebuking him when we've chosen to climb into his occult playpen with him like old friends? 

As the husband in my story tells his wife, Get into a playpen with serpents and sooner or later, you're going to get bitten.

Now, we believe a Christian can't be possessed by a demon because the Christian is indwelt by the Holy Spirit.

The president of the Southern Baptist Convention just stated this in an article in response to a growing interest in the rite of exorcism.

But that doesn't mean demons can't hassle us, especially if we makes them feel at home.

Jesus wasn't joking around when He cast out devils. I figure He could have taught the people, "This is a sickness of the heart," or "This is a sickness of the way a man thinks." People would have understood that. But He didn't. He cast'em out.

The day I started writing this post, the daily Bible verse in the margin on my Facebook page said:

"I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe." Ephesians 1:18-19a - NIV

This prophet expresses the most heart-felt longing:

God, I've heard what our ancestors say about you,
   and I'm stopped in my tracks, down on my knees.
Do among us what you did among them.
   Work among us as you worked among them.
And as you bring judgment, as you surely must,
   remember mercy. Habakkuk 3:2

Yes, Lord, as with Paul's and Habakkuk's prayers, let us see your incomparably great power and do all things whatsoever you taught the apostles. Forgive us for climbing into a playpen with serpents. In the awesome, wonderful, mighty name of Jesus!


Here's a true story about a priest who went to Rome to learn to be an exorcist, The Rite.

And a great novel about this subject is the classic, This Present Darkness. 
Just pray for protection against fear before reading either one of them.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Fear of Rejection at Church

"They want to save me, give me tracts, and preach about the love of Christ, but they are not willing to sit down with me for an hour to find out who I am." My friend wrote that in her powerful Note on Facebook. Wow, what an indictment.

Yes, fear of rejection hurts at both ends. The one ignored, and the one longing to be brave enough to approach another and failing to do this daunting task.

I've moved several times over the years and have had to change churches, and when I first started at one church, I went to a woman's class hardly knowing a soul. The room was over half full, some people sitting with empty chairs beside them. I could have asked if the seats were taken, but I figured they'd rather have their good friends sit beside them than a new stranger.

Maybe I didn't give them enough credit.

And I knew they were big on Outreach. Surely, they'd be big on, shall we say, Within-reach. I decided to start a new table and let some friendly Christian woman come sit by me.

Well, no one did.

A high-ranking staff member entered the room behind me, passed me, and sat at another table.

So I sat at that table alone in the U-shaped arrangement, facing everyone else and feeling less than welcome or happy.

Not like I was an acre away from everyone, and not ignored all night, either. And I did take part in the discussions.

But if it weren't for my husband enjoying that church, I would not have gone back.

I have taken several psychology and counseling courses and recently read about ACOAs, Adult Children of Alcoholics ("And other dysfunctional families.") 

Fear of rejection is huge in this group. They feel different and they feel shame.

And with so many divorces among Christians, I imagine there are a lot of dysfunctional families out there.

These offspring might find it helpful to Google ACOA Laundry List. There are traits there they may recognize. And books, like those by Janet Woititz.

Not to pigeonhole themselves, not to put themselves under some condemnation.

But to see that they are not alone and that they were trained by the situation they grew up in to act and feel certain ways.

Then they can be less hard on themselves.

And recognizing certain actions, they can begin to heal, with God's help, and try to choose not to act and feel that way.

And choose to forgive in the name of Jesus those who hurt them. And in the same way, forgive themselves for traits they hate and for resulting bad choices.

Hurting people hurt people, we've all heard that. We are to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.  

So, Lord, please help us to love ourselves as people created in your wonderful image and with great potential you give us. May we invite you into our hearts now to heal us, to shed Your love in us through the Holy Spirit and give us courage and good manners and graciousness to sit by a stranger or phone an absent member and say, "I was thinking about you. We missed you." How hard is that? Forgive us our sins, help us to turn away from them, and save us forever, for your glory and our joy, in the mighty name of Jesus. Amen.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Our Roman Catholic friends have interesting ideas here.

This articles asks, HOW CAN THE CHURCH REVIVE?  Imagine the scene. A little boy has seemingly just died and is placed by a distraught mother before a bishop, who lays healing hands upon him. The boy remains limp -- but during Mass, a few minutes later, revives.

The author says, now there is the glaring need to return to the Church's incredible charisms -- the charisms granted by Jesus, (read more by clicking on title above.)

Yes, I agree. I just hate the word incredible, though, which literally means not believable.

I've blogged about my friend Bob Turner who was healed of CP in a home group meeting. The Great Commission of Matthew refers back to Matthew 10. The GC of Mark spells it out. "Signs will follow those who believe." "Until the end of the age/world/cosmos."

Then what happened? The Dark Ages. Laodicea--today? Maybe. The world, the flesh and the devil? Fer sher. Other than that, it's a mystery to me. I long to see God being God as the First Century church must have. I've seen a few things but not enough to satisfy me.

Jesus said when He came back, would He find faith on the earth? Do I have enough faith? Am I blind and too blind to know it? This passage appeared on my Facebook page today, and I didn't see it until after posting this blog. What a coincidence???

Today's Bible Verse
You say, 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. - Revelation 3:17-18 - NIV

You probably know that passage refers to what we were just discussing--the powerless Laodicean Church.

Is most of the Western Church too busy trying to do good things and not enough into just being in Christ?

He goes on,  the charisms that can be released by the Eucharist, the deliverance that can come from Confession, from exorcism, from the Rosary....

We differ there. Salvation, yes, obviously. Confession, yes, exorcism, sometimes. I've mentioned on FaceBook the Southern Baptist missionary who told me he was surprised he had to use exorcism, saying, If you had told me that in seminary, I wouldn't have believed it.

The article mentions the charisms that will draw disaffected Catholics back into the fold -- and eventually, evangelicals and Protestants, once they see testimony to power.

Well, Evangelicals and Protestants have shown me that power. It's here. I was instantaneously healed of a damaged nerve in the arm in a Presbyterian healing seminar. And instantaneously healed of tension headaches in a healing crusade. Weeks went by, then five-plus years--no more tension headaches.

He mentions seeing a leg grow out. Yes, I saw that in a living room full of believers. And more. These things can happen where people pray and believe. Sometimes. Sometimes not.

But the point is, it didn't end with the last apostle. We're in agreement there. Here's Biblical proof that it's for today, until the Second Coming, after which we won't need healings, yay:

Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
I Corinthians 1:7,8 (After the Resurrection, obviously. So, a future event.)

What has changed in the human condition over 2000 years? Nothing. We still need the gifts in order to be strong to the end.

We've all known situations where we need a message of knowledge and a message of wisdom from the Holy Spirit. We've all wanted to see a loved one or ourselves healed. We've all experienced these needs--not to mention the boldness to witness.

He concludes, When clergy have a deep prayer life, miracles result and problems are solved. It is the heart, not the head, that will revive us, and the solution to many current and seemingly insurmountable woes (falling attendance, abuse, modernism, aridity) is so simple: imitate Jesus.

Mmm, yes, but so many clergy do have a deep prayer life. And they're in the Word, they're on missions, they're in the community spreading the Gospel. They're wonderful, deep, sincere, spiritual people full of love of the Lord, love of people, and full of the Word of God.

But they're up against the Laodicean, I believe, trend today of not emphasizing this minor detail:

How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed of the devil for God was with Him.  Acts 10:38, my life verse.

If we are to imitate Jesus as the author suggests--and it's a fine suggestion--we must be (continually) filled and anointed with the Holy Spirit. 

Yes, we receive Him with salvation. And He promises never to leave us or forsake us.

But we quench Him and grieve Him.

We need to make Him feel welcome, I guess, by obedience and confession of our shortcomings before a holy and perfect and compassionate and just God.

And maybe by inviting Him to fill us again?

If God in the flesh needed to be filled and anointed with the Holy Spirit, can we need any less?

Habakkuk 3:2 LORD, I have heard of your fame. I stand in awe of your deeds, O LORD. Renew them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy.

"Holy Spirit, Come and Fill this Place" by CeCe Winans