Monthly Archives: February 2009

02-23-09 TRANSFIGURATION

TRANSFIGURATION

            Have you ever had one of those moments when you look at someone you have known for years and suddenly you see them in a completely different light? It’s like you’re suddenly seeing them as they really are for the first time, and although the intensity of that insight may only last a minute, you’ll never be able to see them in quite the same old way again. And sometimes you can never see anything else in quite the same old way again either.

Peter, James and John thought they knew Jesus. He was their rabbi after all, their friend. They had seen him cast out demons and heal the sick. They had traveled with him and eaten with him. They even knew Jesus wasn’t like other men. So when he brought them up to the mountain top, I bet Peter and the brothers thought they had some idea of what might happen. Jesus might tell them something new or show them another miracle. But nothing prepared them for what they did see.

They saw a glimpse of the divinity of Christ. This man that they had eaten with, traveled with and lived with became transformed into a being of shining light. And they are scared out of their wits. This isn’t the man they thought he was. This isn’t just their teacher. This isn’t just a prophet. Jesus is something else entirely.

Peter is so scared that he begins babbling. He offers to make dwellings, tabernacles to contain this glory for he doesn’t know what else to do. The text even says “He did not know what to say, for they were terrified.”

Terror isn’t something we associate with Christ very often. Goodness and kindness and gentleness yes. Scary no. So why are the disciples so afraid? Because they saw Jesus as God for a moment when before they only thought of Jesus as man.

            One of my favorite books as a child was The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. For those of you not familiar with Lewis’ work, the central figure is Aslan – the Christ figure for the world the children find themselves in. In it the Beaver family explains Aslan to the children.

“Is—is he a man?” asked Lucy.

Aslan a man!” Mr. Beaver said sternly. “Certainly not. I tell you he is the King of the wood and the son of the great Emperor-Beyond-the-Sea. Don’t you know who is the King of Beasts? Aslan is a lion—the Lion, the great Lion.”

“Ooh!” said Susan, “I’d thought he was a man. Is he—quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.”

“That you will, dearie, and no mistake,” said Mrs. Beaver; “if there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than most or else just silly.”

“Then he isn’t safe?” said Lucy.

“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

When we actually get down to it – on some level God is really scary. God is so much larger – so much more powerful than we can possibly understand. Peter, James and John get a glimpse of the otherness of God in this passage and they are terrified.

 Think of it like this. A group of ants get together and have decided that they understand humanity. They have it worked out that this big shoe thing is all that humanity is. And yeah, the shoe is something they respect because it is so much bigger than them, but they become accustomed to seeing feet. Then all of a sudden a hand shows up. Fear doesn’t really cover the mental shift that causes.

Deuteronomy 10.12 says So now, O Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you? Only to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.

            God requires fear from us. It is the first of the list we are given. Is this the cowering fear of the boogey man? The fear that we play with in movies and with scary stories? Is that why the disciples are terrified on the mountain top? That doesn’t make a whole lot of sense when we look at all of the passages where angels tell us “Do not be afraid, for God is with you.”

I think it is something different – something closer to the fear that comes with total awe. It’s hard for us to get real awe these days I think. We have become an embittered culture – used to not being shocked or startled by anything or anyone anymore. Our leaders, our celebrities, our priests have all been shown to be people – just like us. We don’t hold them in awe anymore, so it is hard for us to understand what awesome really is. It has become a trivial word.

A few years ago, I was privileged enough to go on a behind the scenes tour of the zoo, a great time for me, I can assure you. But the most amazing part of the night was when I had the chance to see the tigers in their back area. Because it was the end of the night and I was enjoying a long conversation with one of the keepers, I got to sit a foot and a half away from a full-grown male tiger. The eyes he looked at me with were large and golden and so other that it nearly took my breath away. This was a creature of power and might and beauty whose thoughts I could never understand, and I began to get a hint of what real Awe is like.

Awe is an overwhelming feeling of wonder or admiration; a feeling of fear and reverence. Awe is an entirely appropriate word for what the three on the mountain felt. Overpowering fear and reverence for this man who was their rabbi. Who was their friend. They hear the voice of God claiming Christ as the Son. They see long dead prophets speaking with Christ. They see him transformed. And they are filled with wonder and reverence and fear.

Then the moment passes. Jesus is all they see, standing on the mountain top just like he always was again. He is the rabbi and friend they thought they knew once more and he warns them not to tell anyone of what happened.

I wonder how their relationship changed after that mountain top moment. After all, Jesus told them not to speak about it. Did they try to go back to what it had been? Did they sometimes talk about it to each other?

See, I think it is important to remember Jesus as the man. As the teacher and healer and friend. As the good, kind and gentle person. That is an important part of our faith. Jesus was fully human.

But Jesus was fully God and it is important to remember the truly awesome part of the Christ. In previous centuries I think we focused too much on the divinity of Jesus and scorned all things human. This is a mistake because there is value in a God who has been fully human. Who has eaten with us, walked with us and laughed with us.

Now though, I think we have over corrected and focus on Jesus as a man to the exclusion of Jesus the divine. The Kevin Smith movie Dogma begins with the Catholic Church unveiling the Buddy Christ – a blue eyed smiling figure giving a thumbs-up to the world. While this may be a parody of real life I think there is a grain of truth to the image. We like to think about Christ as a smiling figure that approves of us whole heartedly.

But Jesus is so much more than a smiling, good natured friend. Jesus is divine, which means that Christ transcends the problems of this world. This means that God is bigger than all the troubles we lift up. Bigger than the global economy. Bigger than war and poverty and hatred. Jesus’ divinity, the Jesus of the mountain top means that we can come to Christ even at our darkest and be comforted.

What we are called to do as Christians is to hold both Christ as both human and divine in balance. One without the other is incomplete, but it is hard to balance them. Peter, James and John had to walk that tightrope. They walked with Jesus the man, but they remembered the Jesus on the mountaintop.

As we go out into the world, we need to remember that though Jesus is walking with us, and knows what we are going through, Jesus is also on the mountaintop, shining with the Glory of the Lord. Amen.

 

 

Rev. Cara Milne Gee

February 22, 2009

02-15-09 MAKING THE GOOD NEWS TRAVEL FASTER

MAKING THE GOOD NEWS TRAVEL FASTER

Mark 1: 40-45

 

There is a Swedish proverb that states: “Shared joy is double joy; and shared sorrow is half-sorrow.”  It has been said that “people share burdens to make them lighter and joys to make them greater.”  A pastor related the story of being called to a hospital in the middle of the night to visit someone who was very sick and in intensive care. It was after midnight so he had to enter through the ER. Most of the hall lights had been dimmed so patients could sleep. Everything was quiet and still as he headed down the hallway looking for a room number. Suddenly a woman darted out from behind the curtain that surrounded a patient and ran right into the minister. He had never met her before. She grabbed the lapels of his overcoat and said with a face that beamed with joy, “He’s going to make it! He’s so much better! The doctor says he’s going to make it!” With that she quickly headed down the hallway to make a phone call. The woman had good news, and she had to share it with someone … anyone! She did not think twice about protocol- what if the man himself is hurting, what if he’s offended that I grabbed him, does it matter that I don’t know him- no, she thought of none of those. She had good news to share! The best good news is like that!  The media likes to spread bad news because people cling to the details of horrific stories. But thankfully, good news stories, like the one about the man the country now knows as “Sulley,” landing a plane in the Hudson with no casualties, gives us a chance to bask in some good news.  The news that one among us is finished with radiation treatments is good news. The news that others have recovered from their illness, or gotten accepted to college, or received an award, that is good news. And today in our Mark passage we learned about a leper who, like the woman at the hospital, must have gone to friends, neighbors, and even strangers; shown himself to them and then proclaimed “The man called Jesus healed me!!” Verse 45: “He went out and began to proclaim it freely, and to spread the word.” That’s the nature of good news. 

 

In our Bibles, there are four books that are called “The Good News, which is the actually definition of gospel: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. What is the Christian message of good news? I included one good description in our affirmation of faith today and it is from Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians: “This is the Good News which we received, in which we stand, and by which we are saved: That Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day; and that he appeared to Peter, then to the Twelve, and to many faithful witnesses.”  In Jesus’ day the whole story had yet to unfold, so no one knew the whole good news story. But they had plenty of good news about being healed. In Paul’s day he proclaimed this good news! After his blinding-light experience on a Damascus road, he went out, not unlike the woman in the ER, and spread the gospel—that is, the good news—that Jesus was not only raised from the dead, but that he had personally saved him!  There are still people every day who are being saved, and on that day of good news, they may call, write, text, or tell it to any and everyone they know! After a week they still are telling others; after a month they are telling a few; and after a year or more they may just relay their story when asked.  The same can happen to each one of us, especially if you, like I, didn’t have an “I once was lost, but now I’m found, was blind but now I see” experience. I grew up believing Jesus loved me for the Bible told me so, and one day it hit me that I love Jesus too and I’ve been telling people about him ever since. I don’t always do it with the fervor of collaring strangers in hallways because … well, because why? Because they might think I’m crazy? They might think I’m a fanatic? They might be put off? But the woman with her good news didn’t let that stop her! But we let it stop us. We come to our senses and think, “What, after all, am I doing?”  It’s understandable in a way. But here’s what mostly happens: instead of stopping people and saying in their face that you are saved, or that you love Jesus, many just leave witnessing, evangelism, and sharing the gospel to someone else; to some like me, for instance. “I’ll let the Reverend do it; after all he’s a professional and he’s paid to do that!” Here’s an interesting fact for you: statistics have conclusively shown that if a pastor of a church tells people about their church, or about Jesus Christ, 10% will come some Sunday to try it out. But if someone who attends a church (like you) tell others about our church or about Jesus Christ- now get this number- 90% will try it! Ninety percent will come to that church to try it; 90% will perhaps remember the old song, “Jesus loves me” and perhaps decide that it applies to them. And of that 90%, how many may come to know Christ as Lord? You dear, friends, you who may be strangers to me or even to each other, you have the power to let others know the good news about this congregation or how Jesus is alive and the Spirit of the living God dwells here!  The good news will travel faster, more efficiently, and more completely when non-professionals do the carrying, the witnessing, and the living of it.  I deliberately added that last sentence: when you carry, witness to, and live the gospel, it will travel faster. Here’s how you can do it instead of leaving it to preachers whose effect is greatly diminished from your own.

 

The late Dr. Shirley Guthrie who was a theology professor at Columbia Seminary, once wrote these keys to the Reformed Tradition- which is the Presbyterian Tradition among others- regarding the “Good News of God’s Grace”:

First, God loved us before we ever thought of loving God back, and because we are saved by grace, we do good works in Jesus’ name, instead of doing good works in order to me saved. Technically God’s grace justifies and sanctifies us.  So the good news for us is not just the one event, it is the continuous contact with others who will see Jesus through us. Our work with others gives us even more experiences to share that fuel our passion for Christian ministry.  There are those who think that getting saved is the goal and that Heaven is the destination. Presbyterians think that salvation is God’s gift for us to realize, and when we do, to show and tell it to others.

 

Second, God’s grace is offered not only to put us in a right relationship with God, but also to put us in a right relationship with others. There are some who think that being right with God is the answer, but being right with God is challenging when God keeps sending us back to get right with others before we can experience “the peace that passes all understanding.” Jesus said, “Whoever says ‘I love God’ and hates his brother is a liar.” We cannot get right with, that is, be reconciled with God, before we get right with –that is get reconciled with- others.  I know that thinking it’s just about you and God is easier. We don’t want our salvation to hinge on loving people we don’t like. In THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO PEANUTS, Robert Short had Charlie Brown say in one cartoon what many people think: “I love mankind, its people I can’t stand!”  As much as we may wish that Jesus is fine with us just loving God but not our neighbor, he isn’t. It is recorded in Matthew, Mark, and Luke! So good news will travel faster when we are true to Jesus, showing the world how to love, not how to hate, ignore, or oppress.

 

Finally, God’s grace is for individual Christians in the church and for the world.  Many preach that God will save the faithful, and that to save ourselves is our goal. But we preach Christ to save the world. Jesus died for all sinners; we can be among the people who are faithful to him so that God will save the world.  For example: In Genesis 18, Abraham, the faithful man of God, talked God into not destroying the wicked city of Sodom if ten righteous people could be found. So God spared the city, even though there were plenty of evil ones. Our own day of reckoning can be a glorious day, not because everyone has turned to the Lord, but because we have fervently and joyously lived faithful lives, having gone out to spread the good news. Although some think “Did you lead a clean life and make Jesus your Lord?” is the main judgment day question, Presbyterians think another question is at least as important: “With how many people did you share the good news?” Changes from non-believers to believers happened most powerfully in the gospels when someone ran and told others how Jesus had healed them. They literally or figuratively grabbed their neighbor by the collar and said “I’m going to make it! I’m healed!!

 

Paul Harvey once said, “Too many Christians are no longer fishers of men, they are keepers of the aquarium.” Whether or not the good news about Jesus travels faster or not is in our hands. I’ll do my part, as ineffective as it may be. But if you decide to do your part, why … then,

then we can change the world.

Jeffrey Sumner                                                               February 15, 2009

 

02-08-09 A HEALTHY DOSE OF FAITH

A HEALTHY DOSE OF FAITH

Mark 2: 1-12

 

Did you hear about the farmer who had the brilliant dog? He had a neighbor who was absolutely the most cynical, faithless man you ever saw. The farmer couldn’t get him to see any of life’s blessings or miracles. It wasn’t because he did not try.  When it was raining, the farmer said to his neighbor “Boy, look at the rain! God’s sort of washing everything clean.” And his neighbor said “Yeah, but if it keeps up it’s gonna flood.” When the sun was out and the rain stopped, the neighbor said to the farmer “If this keeps up, it’s gonna scorch the crops.”  The farmer got tired of being brought down by his neighbor’s cynical comments. One day he was out hunting and he shot a duck; it fell into a pond and quick as a wink, his dog ran across the water, picked up the duck, and ran it back to the shore. The farmer was astounded. He had no idea how his dog didn’t sink, but it gave him an idea. “I’ll break my neighbor of all his attitude! I’ll show him! The next day he brought his neighbor out to the pond, waited for a duck to fly over, and bang, the duck fell into the water. “Watch this!” the farmer said smugly to his neighbor. As before, his dog ran across the water, grabbed the duck, and brought him safely ashore. “So,” the farmer said triumphantly, what do you think of that?” To which his neighbor replied, “He can’t swim, can he?”

 

Persons with no faith in people, in nature, in a plan, or in God can certainly be hard to be around. How difficult it is to be the President of the United States, not only now, but certainly in the last three decades: the leader of the free world has an idea, and hundreds of people in Congress say why it won’t work. Both parties have done that. Why, it can make a person get discouraged, can’t it?  What if a child is told over and over that he is no good at a particular sport, or a particular subject? Soon the child owns his failures. But an astute teacher or coach can light the light of encouragement in that child and change the outcome of his life. Having faith in someone else, like encouragement, goes a long way. A widow may listen to the voices in her head that she should not date again, and certainly not marry. She focuses on her own doubts, or the careless words of acquaintances or the voices of family. She cocoons herself up in her life, having lost faith in there being a mister right for her. But then a caring man says the words that others don’t, exhibits the kindness that she long has missed, and says the words she thought she’d never hear again: “I love you.” Faith believes that such stories are not just fantasy; experience lets me assure you that they are not. One more illustration: Christian singer and songwriter Amy Grant once wrote a song for a girlfriend of hers who became the victim of sexual abuse. Amy was devastated by how the event drained the life, joy, trust, and faith from her friend. She wrote about it in her song called “Ask Me.” In one verse she wrote about the result of her friend’s longsuffering recovery and therapy: “Now she’s looking in the mirror at a lovely woman’s face, no more frightened little girl like she’s gone without a trace, still she leaves the light burning in the hall, it’s hard to sleep at all. She crawls up in her bed acting quiet as a mouse, deep inside she’s listening for a creaking in the house, but no one’s left to harm her, she’s finally safe and sound, there’s a peace that she has found….Ask her how she knows there’s a God up in the Heavens, where did he go in the middle of her shame? Ask her how she knows there’s a God up in the Heavens, she said his mercy is bringer her life againit’s bringing her life again.”

 

What a gift it is to have faith restored when it has been shattered; to have it with you again when your heart had given up; to have faith return as a mighty army of heaven’s angels that lift you up when a barrage of voices around you that are negative and caustic want to hold you down?

 

In our Gospel situation today, Jesus was not at the far end of a stadium, but he might as well have been: he was far enough away in the house in Capernaum with a crowd pushing through and around the doors of the house that there was no way to get through. Have you ever tried to cut in line in front of desperate people? These four men tried a different approach. In a move that could have instigated riot, they made a choice that would certainly cost them a roof repair and possibly resentment from an angry crowd. They lift him, perhaps even using ladders typically near homes in that day to provide access to the flat roof where, on hot nights, people could sleep, or in the day time clothes could be dried. Four determined men lifted the dead weight of a paralyzed man onto that roof. We are told that the roof was more than just thatch because they had to dig through it, thereby leaving quite a hole to repair. What, do you imagine, the crowd was saying or thinking as they did that? Like the other negative voices we heard about earlier, surely those people did not just look on silently. What faith and resilience must it have taken to hold fast to their brazen move, believing with their hearts that Jesus could heal their friend? As in the other illustrations, there must have been resistance from those around them. Yet Jesus, it seems, perceived something that the others hadn’t: Jesus perceived faith. It was great faith in his healing abilities to have four men risk the crowds to get their paralyzed friend an audience with Jesus. The power of their faith in Jesus, which was stronger than repercussions of the negative crowds, became a two-way power:

1)     Their actions clearly told Jesus that they believed he could heal; and

2)     Jesus’ words gave them the assurance that their friend had been blessed by him. The compassionate eyes; the healing touch; and the reassuring words of the healer (Jesus) gave a man who had not walked the courage and ability to do so. 

What great things faith can do.

Certainly there are times when people have prayed for the healing or safety for a loved one and it has not happened. In the Bible, Lazarus actually died though his sisters certainly prayed to God for his recovery. Jesus himself under went anguish, as, perhaps, some of the faithful gave in to the caustic and negative crowds that chanted around him. Even Peter’s faith may have slipped. Faith plants its foot on assurances, but not on guarantees. At the cross of Jesus, even the prayers of his devoted mother Mary could not save Jesus from destiny and death. Sometimes things do not turn out the way we hope. But I believe this: faith and prayer has and still does change the outcome of countless situations. To have a world of people like the cynical neighbor or the angry crowds just turns civilization into bitter brawls and biting banter. Such an environment is the food on which cancer, stomach ulcers, and heart attacks thrive. There is, instead, the choice of four men, who counted the cost, were willing to pay the price, and stepped forward in faith. Their friend got the words he longed to hear: “Your sins are forgiven.” Certainly crowds of people had told him he could not walk because of his sins, as they believed in that day. Nobody had declared that he was forgiven, and the implication made the man believe he was bogged down in sin. It took the freeing words of Jesus to let him rise.

 

Let me leave you with one true story: When a man named John Paton was translating the Bible for a South Seas island tribe, he discovered that they had no word for faith. One day he watched one of the natives run along the beach, then turn and head straight toward Paton’s hut, enter, and flop in a chair. “It is good,” he said breathlessly, “to put all my weight in this chair.” “That’s it,” thought Paton. And he wrote his definition of faith: “resting ones’ whole weight on God.” Faith goes through the roof, if necessary, to get our Lord’s attention, while others shrink back, or shout, or cower. Through the noise of your crowds, whoever they may be, may you still make your way, to be touched by the hand of the Savior.

 

Jeffrey A. Sumner                                                                         February 8, 2009

02-01-09 REBUKING YOUR DEMONS

REBUKING YOUR DEMONS

Mark 1: 29-39

 

In a few minutes I have set myself up to cover what could-and has- taken hours by others: what do we make of the idea of demons as described in today’s Gospel text? Is it different from being possessed by the devil, or Satan? In a survey a number of years ago, 75% of those around the world believed that supernatural spirits could invade a body and cause it to be possessed. By the same token 25% or more did not believe that. Many Christian branches of the church spend sermon after sermon teaching people how to avoid the devil, and calling illnesses “possessions by demons.” Most Presbyterians join me in not giving anything evil or unexplained the name of the devil or a demon; our worship, prayers, and attention are on the glory of God Almighty. Even as it was once described, “if there is a watch, there must be a watch maker,” so if there is Creation, there must be a Creator.  Plenty of people want to avoid blame in all circumstances, so they say, when they do a crazy or destructive thing, that an “evil spirit” possessed them, or “the devil made them do it.” It is convenient to blame someone outside of ourselves thereby not having to account for one’s actions.

 

A mother is behind bars because of the suspicious murder of her child. Was it the devil that did that murder? Was it someone else? Was she possessed? Or did she want a life different from the responsibilities of motherhood, and just snapped? When I was in college, while we were in our fraternity house, one of the brothers, after a long day, fell to the ground, had his eyes roll back into his head, and he shook violently, almost biting off his own tongue. Would you say he got possessed by a demon? Many in the Bible, who had less access to medical knowledge, called mysterious convulsions demon possession. But in our fraternity we called paramedics to come to our fraternity house, not a priest, and they didn’t diagnose him as demon possessed. “Epileptic seizure” they said, and the brothers and I got an education about epilepsy. Our brother recovered. It is frightening to be sure, to encounter such seizures. But I know it is not the presence of evil, it is the acknowledgment and treatment of a condition. While our youth group visited a feeding ministry years ago, a man walked up to the center, walking erratically, with jerky motions, with a panicked look in his eyes, and with a dry and crusted mouth. An astute staff member there knew the man and upon seeing him, he ran in and came out with a glass of orange juice. It settled down his shakes, his eyes grew calmer, and he became limp. He had had a diabetic attack from too little sugar, a situation that I myself have felt more than once since I developed diabetes. He was not possessed by a demon any more than I was. How glad I am to not be living ages ago, but if I were, I’d be so grateful to a healer named Jesus. 

 

A dear woman who was in our church who cared deeply for our children was Trudy Jones. Trudy did not hear well because as a child, her parent’s branch of the Christian faith did not believe in medicine, just prayer. So they prayed for little Trudy when she had an ear infection, but gave her no medical treatment. The result was a dedicated Christian who was hard of hearing all her life, but she grew up believing in medicine and prayer. Dr. Larry Dossey does to, for in a blind study, he had half of his hospital receive excellent medical treatment alone, and the other half received excellent medical treatment and the fervent prayers of his staff. (He did not include a study with prayer alone since it was a hospital.) The side with prayer and medicine healed decidedly faster and more completely. Our Body, Mind, and Soul health ministries continue to convince me of the connections between the care we give our bodies, and our minds, and our souls (some say spirits). An illness in one area—like a sin-sick soul, or a burned out mind, or a body ravaged by too much or too little weight, too much smoke, too much drink, or too much drug, affects the other areas.

 

I am convinced that there are people who do evil things in the world, but it need not get blamed on the devil. John Dominic Crossen, in one of his books, noticed how many people were terrified by a vomiting adolescent in the film called THE EXORCIST. He said the scene bothered him for a different reason: it trivialized evil, for true evil is what is done to nations at the hands of brutal dictators, or to children in the hands of sexually or physically abusive parents, or to poor people by those who oppress them. The child tied up in the film was a victim; the evil in some children’s situations may have been an older male who sexually tortured them, or other children who tormented them with bullying, or authority figures who became mentally or physically abusive. There is evil in the world, but placing blame on its victims is what Jesus fought against. An uninformed or incompetent doctor or family member may not recognize schizophrenia, psychosis, or other difficult but treatable illnesses, but left untreated, victims can harm themselves and others.

 

Our text today shows Jesus healing the people who were brought to him. And although he wanted to primarily be their Savior, he first became their Healer because he was able, in his amazing ways, to make them well and to invite priests to pronounce them so. Today you may be a tormented person, by problems with your body, problems with your mind, or problems with your soul. In our day and age, in the name of Jesus, I would start a person who has physical ailments with prayer and a visit to a competent doctor. In our day and age I would start a person who has emotional turmoil with prayer and words of counseling, perhaps from me or a therapist at our Presbyterian Counseling Center. In our day and age I would start a person who exhibits a sin-sick soul with prayer, with counseling, with confession, and with repentance leading to reconciliation and peace. You can go to a faith healer if you believe in them; you can go to gatherings where crippled people cast their walkers aside when a preacher pushes them into the arms of “catchers” if you wish.  Or you could try to find priest to perform an exorcism although there a precious few of them. When it comes to rebuking your demons, you can do it! Let me reframe what that might look like: You might start by confronting tormenting people around you, or doctors who have misdiagnosed you, or even yourself for not taking medications that could have brought you healing or comfort. Those are places to start. But remember to always have Jesus, the healer, in the mix through your fervent prayers. God gave us the gifts of our bodies, minds, and souls so that, as Jesus said, “all may have life, and to have it abundantly.” Anything that holds you back from that goal, or deliberately deflects you from that goal, may be cast aside! Jesus had a big emphasis in healing others in Biblical times; he still does. Let the church’s healing ministry continue in this modern world, as prayer, medicine, and knowledge come together when needed, to heal hurting and misunderstood people. Let us remember all that Jesus did to cast out demons, and the power he gave his followers to do the same. May you never forget the power in Jesus’ name.

 

Jeffrey A. Sumner                                                               February 1, 2009