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Friday, October 7, 2022
I was pleased to show Brooksyne a new stand our neighbor had put up while we were away. We now have two Amish produce stands on Kraybill Church Road. It was a beautiful sight to see the family working together in the harvest but too far out in the field for a suitable photo.
"In His Right Mind"
Message summary: Today let's consider this marvelous deliverance of a formerly demon-possessed man "dressed and in his right mind". His upside down world had been turned right-side up!
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"When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid" (Mark 5:15).
Since we first started dating in 1973 Brooksyne has cut my hair. She studied cosmetology in her junior and senior years at Vo-tech in high school before getting her license as hairdresser in the state of Oklahoma. I figure she has saved our family tens of thousands of dollars in hair cutting fees, even more if I price it like those fancy haircuts people pay a fortune for! The other day I talked to a man whose daughter had some type of hair treatment that costs $700.00.
Well, while she was away this past week my hair was getting pretty wild looking so I scheduled an appointment at Great Clips, a hair-cutting chain in a neighboring town where I was going to make a chaplaincy visit.
I walked in at my appointed time and was greeted by... I'm really not sure. If you bought a monster Halloween mask it wouldn't look any more dreadful. The hair on the sides was shaved and covered with tattoos as was almost every part of exposed skin (probably unexposed as well). The face was covered with pins sticking out every which way.
I am actually not sure whether it was a man or a woman. My first inclination was to walk out but I didn't. I assumed he/she* would be capable of giving me a rather simple haircut and felt a small wisp of compassion (to my shame not as much as I should have). As he/she cut my hair I watched in the mirror and noted not only the appearance but very sad demeanor and considered the awful work of our ancient foe. It really seemed demonic.
Later when Brooksyne and I talked via telephone I told her about it and she asked me the convicting question, "Did you pray for that person?"
Musing on this experience the Bible text that came to mind was the encounter that Jesus had with the Gaderene demoniac in Mark 5. Jesus and the disciples had crossed the sea of Galilee to the region of the Gaderenes (some versions use Gerasenes).
"When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an impure spirit came from the tombs to meet him. This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain. For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones" (Mark 5).
What an incredibly horrible way to live. Studying the account from a variety of sources one pointed out his likely hideous appearance, another his separation from family and friends, a true outcast. In the other parallel accounts Matthew informs us there were two men so Mark apparently focuses on the dominant one. He records "They were so violent that no one could pass that way" (Matthew 8:28). This sounds like the violence we are now seeing in so many cities. Luke specifies that the man was naked, "For a long time this man had not worn clothes or lived in a house, but had lived in the tombs" (Luke 8:27), thus the significance of being clothed following the deliverance.
This increasingly describes so many in our world, exacerbated by alcohol, drugs, immorality, pornography and so many other vices that separate them from God and others. Just consider the awful plight of so many of the homeless in major cities. Several years ago we were visiting San Francisco and saw this up close and just recently witnessed it in the city park in Portland, Maine.
They are everywhere, lying beside the road, lying in the middle of an active parking lot. The photo to the left shows one lying up against the glass of an outdoor dining area of a swank restaurant on Fisherman's Wharf with diners eating at tables on the other side of the glass.
According to authorities the reasons for those being in this condition vary; alcohol and drug use and addiction, mental illness, the high cost of housing. My brother Mike, who has lived in that area for over 50 years, asserts that there are many young people who choose to live that way as a lifestyle, essentially forsaking and being "free" from the responsibilities of life. I wonder how many of them are actually demon-possessed.
We wonder what the disciples thought when they saw this? But the text doesn't tell us. The focus is merely on Jesus and the demoniac.
"When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of Him. He shouted at the top of his voice, 'What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? In God’s name don’t torture me!' For Jesus had said to him, 'Come out of this man, you impure spirit!' Then Jesus asked him, 'What is your name?' 'My name is Legion,' he replied, 'for we are many.' And he begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of the area. A large herd of pigs was feeding on the nearby hillside. The demons begged Jesus, 'Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them.' He gave them permission, and the impure spirits came out and went into the pigs. The herd, about two thousand in number, rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned.
So much for the demons! But what about the man?
"Those tending the pigs ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened. When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. Those who had seen it told the people what had happened to the demon-possessed man—and told about the pigs as well. Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region."
There's a lot we can glean from this (see additional notes below) but today let's just consider this marvelous evidence of deliverance: The man was with Jesus "dressed and in his right mind". His upside down world had been turned right-side up! He could have broken into song with the following words:
What a wonderful change in my life has been wrought
Since Jesus came into my heart!
Be encouraged today, (Hebrews 3:13)
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, the evidence is clear and widespread that this sin sick world is in not in its right mind. When You are the supreme authority in our lives our hearts and our minds are in the right place. As committed believers we pray for our upside down world, that we will use our voice for truth, for righteousness, and for the spreading of the gospel. We want You to turn this world right side up so that people will be changed for the better and for all eternity, to live their temporal existence here on earth in a positive way so that our journey here is filled with less strife, hatred, and only looking after one's own interests instead that of others. Being redeemed means our lives are changed from darkness to light and we will affect others as we share that light with them by word and example. Help us to do so, in Christ's name we pray. Amen.
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
"Man Of The Tombs" Video Bob Bennett Great teaching and perspective!
"Since Jesus Came Into My Heart" Video Collingsworth Family
"The Gadarene Demoniac" Audio sermon by RC Sproul
Other thoughts from the today's text:
1) "Those tending the pigs ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened" Curiosity can be a good thing and can lead to a pursuit of truth.
2) "they were afraid" When things get turned upside down from the familiar that can cause fear.
3) "Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region." What a strange reaction. Were they more concerned for the pigs and the economic implications or the broken man? Or did they just reject the truth that Jesus embodied? Both are still ways people use to ask Jesus to leave.
* Regarding using "he/she": I am not inventing a new gender but merely use this to express my uncertainty and I really didn't think it appropriate to ask.
While visiting Tulsa this past week I met with several from my childhood years, people I hadn't spoken to since I was a young child including this dear woman, Mary Ragsdale, a former neighbor to my parents and our pastor's wife when I was quite small. Mary is 99 years old and I surprised her with a visit. When I told her my name she paused a few moments and then responded, "You're Brooklyn's daughter!" She was right and we were both delighted to reacquaint ourselves! Mary went on to talk about my folks, we shared about our mutual love for the Lord, and ended our visit with prayer. She will turn 100 next month.
I met with childhood friends last week but also newer friends like Charlotte Gaunt who lives in Mannford, OK and works at CTC (Career Technology Center) in Drumright, OK. I became acquainted with her via Daily Encouragement and we've visited each time I've gone back to Tulsa the last three years. She loves the Lord and is active in Worship ministries, Prison ministries and Celebrate Recovery. She also enjoys glamping but has yet to persuade me to come along with her, though photos of her glamping makes camping look appealing even to one who feels too old to be comfortable in an overnight outdoor setting, no matter how glamorous the tent and furnishings may look. But one never knows......
Charlotte asked me a thought provoking question during our visit, "What do you think revival would look like if it took place today?" I thought about that quite a bit as the world has become filled with the kind of evil I never imagined just a few years ago. But I came across an article that I forwarded to her because I thought it really spoke to the very question that we contemplated about revival. It reminds me of the Bible message we shared today about the demon possessed man whose life was turned right side up. When it happens you just can't keep quiet about it and once you begin to share it turns other lives around as well. It was birthed in faithful and steadfast prayer.
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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.
Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."
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