A Spellbound Captive of the Night

 

“We are all infected and impure with sin.
      When we display our righteous deeds,
      they are nothing but filthy rags.
   Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall,
      and our sins sweep us away like the wind.”

Isaiah 64:6, NLT

There are bad things that happen to us— the ugly, awful and rigorous things, that only God himself can explain.  We read theology and we read our Bibles, we listen dutifully to preachers but we still approach the throne of Jesus more mystified than anything else.

We are seem to be playing ‘ping-pong’ with the most challenging  issues.  We come to Him, because there is no one left who can answer things that have perplexed everyone else.  Why do we suffer?  Why does evil exist?  Why do people who live in blatant sin, succeed?  Why am I sick all the time?

If God is really God, why doesn’t he just give us an explanation about these questions?  Our title talks about being “spellbound.”  Are we really that inured, or attached with a sinister evil?  To be spellbound means we are being confused, drugged or hypnotised by something quite awful.  A cobra rises up, and opens its “hood.”  Its victim is entranced by what it sees in front-of-it.  He soon becomes supper.

Being held captive is a ordinary occurance for human beings.  Captivity brings us imprisonment.  Usually in a dark, dirty and unpleasant place.  But yet, it intrigues us so much, and the “light” is such a boring and dull thing.  We feel great as we trade the truth for lies.  But what a deal we reason; “step right up, and exchange it for the lie!”

 “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.”

Ephesians 2:1-3, ESV

From this new and fresh influence we come under the control and will of ‘the dark side’.  (And this is not merely “Star Wars‘ mythos.  It is very much real.)  We gradually give ourselves over, in a reasonably predictable pattern.  We think we are pretty much unique in this, but the truth is that we are pretty much ordinary. Sin never enhances us. Don’t believe the lie.

And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.”

John 3:19

There comes a point when there is enough momentum and weight, that it creates an avalanche. At this point things have gotten desperately grim.  From a human standpoint, there will be no way to avert the inevitable.  Sin will roll over you, blasting into your life, and worst of all into the hearts of your family.  In a stark way— things get very dark, very fast.

Sin will always enslave.  It will turn on you and rock your world. 

But we are so entranced by what it wants to give us.  It looks so good…one could call it “self-actualizing.”  (Maybe even “liberating!”)  But in one of the many purposes of the Old Testament, is to clarify what happens in people’s hearts when we step down and let the sin and confusion take over.  You could say, that there will be pleasure for a brief season, but  it will always have a very savagely grim and a black conclusion. ”For the wages of sin is death.”

“If God thinks this state of war in the universe a price worth paying for free will then we may take that it is worth paying.”  

–C.S. Lewis

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Is it Wrong to Get Angry with God?

Evangelist Billy Graham

Interview with Dr. Billy Graham

Q: Is it wrong to get angry at God?

I’ve beten through some very hard times recently and I feel like God has let me down. I’d like to get past this, I guess, but right now I can’t help feeling angry at God.

A: The real question is this: Will God get angry at you if you get angry at Him, and refuse to have anything more to do with you?

The answer is “No”! Even when we’re angry at Him, He still loves us and yearns for us to turn to Him for the comfort and encouragement we need. And that’s what I pray you will do.

jonah-sulkingDo you remember the prophet Jonah in the Old Testament? Some have called him “the reluctant prophet,” because he tried to flee when God called him to preach to his enemies. Later (after God sent a large fish to stop his flight), he reluctantly obeyed God and preached to his enemies. To his surprise they repented and turned to God.

He should have rejoiced – but instead “Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry” (Jonah 4:1). Gently God explained to him that He loved even Jonah’s enemies – and so should Jonah. What is the point? Simply this: Jonah was angry at God – but God didn’t reject him. Instead, Jonah needed to learn to trust God, even if he didn’t like what was going on.

Perhaps this is one of the lessons God wants to teach you. Life doesn’t always go the way we want it to. But God still loves us; He loves us so much that He sent His only Son into the world to die for us. Put your life into Christ’s hands, and then ask God to help you begin to trust Him, no matter what happens to you.

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 Affectionately known as the “World’s Preacher” for more than 60 years, the Rev. Billy Graham is one of the most influential and respected spiritual leaders of the 20th century. He has been a friend and spiritual advisor to ten American presidents and has preached the Gospel to more people in live audiences than anyone else in history — nearly 215 million people in more than 185 countries and territories — through various meetings. Hundreds of millions more have been reached through television, video, film, and webcasts.

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Send your queries to “My Answer,” c/o Billy Graham, Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, 1 Billy Graham Parkway, Charlotte, N.C., 28201; call 1-(877) 2-GRAHAM, or visit the Web site for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association:  http://www.billygraham.org.

Anxiety: Strength Emptied

“Anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows, but only empties today of its strength.”

Charles Spurgeon

We wrestle with amazing issues, they parade like certainties.  That is part of their strength.  Anxiety over our future, is a very difficult thing to separate from.  The dictionary has a simple definition,  “distress or uneasiness of mind caused by fear of danger or misfortune. a state of uneasiness or tension caused by apprehension of possible future misfortune, danger, etc; worry.

We can define it in a sort of abstract form, but anxiety has a vicious bite.  I believe it is the most common enemy of our souls.  (Maybe “pride” would be the most challenging?)  However our anxiety affects our children, finances and our status in this world.  We are so edgy, and have been for so long that it seems very normal.

Quite expectedly, Wikipedia gives us this explanation.  “Worry is thoughts and images of a negative nature in which mental attempts are made to avoid anticipated potential threats.  As an emotion it is experienced as anxiety or concern about a real or imagined issue, usually personal issues such as health or finances or broader ones such as environmental pollution and social or technological change.” 

Ok, well, that quote is a bit intense and perhaps a bit complicated.  But as I read it, the phrase, “an anticipation of evil things”  pops into my mind.

I guess there is an effort on our part to somehow equalize the pressure.  But typically it’s only enough to make us “humanly” passable, and acceptable to our dear ones.  But the truth is, we fear way too much.  Our anxiety over the future has a corrosive effect, it just eats us up.  We are like ships, who periodically come into port to have our hulls cleaned.  Somehow, if we decide to forego this, we will find that it diminishes us, and often drastically.

Anxiety is a weight that pulls us down: spiritually, and emotionally and even physically. It is worry that has gone viral in our thinking. We can think of nothing else.  There exists something that our psychologists call an “anxiety disorder.”  To be blunt, today is the tomorrow we worried about yesterday. Worry, doubt, fear and despair are the enemies which slowly bring us down to the ground and turn us to dust before we die.

There is not much more I can say.  As we grow more and more anxious, we will drive a simple faith in Jesus away.  Simply put, worry, and the presence of Jesus can never truly agree.  They are on opposite sides of the spectrum.  One will rule, and the other won’t.

“Worrying is carrying tomorrow’s load with today’s strength, carrying two days at once. It is moving into tomorrow ahead of time. Worrying doesn’t empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.”

Corrie Ten Boom

Worry needs to be considered as if it were ‘armed and dangerous.’  Lust, pride, and apostasy are certainly thought of as dark, and evil. But worry has got to rank up there.

Our anxiety is a declaration of God’s unfaithfulness.  It is a “neon sign” that blinks out His perceived negligence and His ineptitude.

Please dear one, shake off this deep deceit.  Renounce your worry, your anxiety.  The One who feeds the sparrows, couldn’t forget you.  You are His, by blood.  He has gone far beyond the extra mile to obtain you to be His own.

“Don’t fear, little flock, because your Father wants to give you the kingdom.”

Luke 12:32, NCV

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