Saturday, September 29, 2012

Driving Out Demons

John interrupted Jesus in Mark 9: 38. I imagine this to be one of the reasons the disciples had to be told stuff over and over. All of the disciples seemed excited and enthusiastic and talkative. But John’s statement here revealed his opinion and maybe a little about his indignation toward an outsider. This outsider was driving out demons in Jesus’ name. Hmm. Earlier in this chapter (vs. 18) the other disciples had been unable to cast out a demon; Jesus stepped in and solved the problem (see previous post). The disciples couldn’t do it and now they were complaining about this other person who IS successful. Why? Because “he’s not one of us”, said John. “We told him to stop.”

John seemed to conclude that they had done right by telling someone who wasn't a disciple to quit using the name of Jesus to cast out demons.

There were exorcists casting out demons before Jesus came on the scene and for centuries after. But they weren't always successful. Justin Martyr, a 2nd century Christian apologist, recorded that Jewish exorcisms failed when the exorcist tried to cast out a demon by commanding it in the name of "the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob." However, they were very successful when they commanded it under "the name of the Son of God, who was born of a virgin, and crucified under Pontius Pilate."

In verse 39 Jesus told John that it was wrong to stop the outsider. “For whoever is not against us is for us.” We need to keep that in mind and not bicker among ourselves. No particular Christian denomination has exclusive rights to Christianity. We may differ in points of doctrine, but we belief in the same Savior.
Clearly, Jesus' words here convey a rebuke against sectarianism and vanity. What do you think?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Demon or Epilepsy?

That poor father. He must have been beside himself with grief and worry and frustration. Imagine having a son who is unable to speak and then, from time to time, the boy falls down, foams at the mouth, grinds his teeth, and becomes rigid. Sounds like epilepsy, doesn’t it?
This man brought his son for healing, thoroughly convinced that it was a demon that possessed his son. Nine men, disciples of Christ, could not cast out the demon. Finally, Jesus himself arrives, having come from the mount where he was transfigured in front of Peter, James, and John. The father recounts how the disciples failed and Jesus asks the father to bring the boy to him.
The same episode of falling and having a seizure occurs right at Jesus’ feet and the distraught father relates how this has been happening since childhood and that sometimes the demon casts the boy into the fire or the water intent on destroying him. “If you are able, have pity on us and help us,” the father pleads to Jesus.

IF, he said.


And Jesus is perhaps somewhat scornful of that word in his reply: “If you are able! – All things can be done for the one who believes.”

The father answers in a heart-wrenching cry, “I believe; help my unbelief!” (Isn’t that where most of us are?)

Now, if it was epilepsy (as skeptics like to say), then Jesus would have just healed the boy as he did with the blind, the lame, and the sick. But that’s not the case here. Jesus rebukes the unclean spirit and speaks to it: “You spirit that keeps this boy from speaking and hearing, I command you, come out of him, and never enter him again!”

That’s an exorcism, folks. What do you think?

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Who Is The Greatest? An Embarrassing Debate

Mark 9: 33-34: They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the road?” But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest.

Peter, James, and John had just been at the Transfiguration. The other disciples hadn’t been able to cast out a demon while they were gone. Now they’re on the road traveling by foot and Jesus is out of  earshot. Among themselves they argue about who is the greatest. What was that argument like?

Peter, James, and John have a secret to keep. Jesus told them not to reveal the marvel they saw yet, but it was so incredible that they must have been brimming with excitement. Perhaps James said something like, “Man, we are so much more in the loop than you guys. You couldn’t even cast out that demon. We’re better than you guys.”

And then maybe Peter said, “Right, and of the three of us I am the leader. After all, I was the first to proclaim Jesus as the Messiah.”

Maybe Judas says, “No way, I’m the most important one. He trusts me to take care of the money.”

And then Simon the Zealot might have said, “Yeah, well, money’s not as important as politics and I understand this whole political situation better than you all.”

 Maybe Nathaniel (Bartholomew) says, “Hey, hey, wait a minute, let’s not get political. If you want to name names then I’m the greatest. After all I’m the only one of us who is descended from royal blood as my name indicates: Bar-talmei, son of Talmei, king of Geshur.”

Then perhaps John says, “Hold it right there! We were among the first to follow Him. We have been with Him longer than the rest.”

And Peter agrees, “Right, and he got in my boat first.”

Then Andrew interrupts with, “Uh, hold on, brother! I introduced you to Jesus. If it weren’t for me, you’d still be fishing.”

“Yeah, well,” Peter says, “why didn’t he give you a new name? I’m obviously his favorite.”

And so the argument may have gone with Philip and Matthew and Thomas and the others joining in, too, but later, when Jesus asked them what they had been arguing about they got very quiet. Embarrassed, no doubt.

Mark 9: 35: Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.”

Wow! He did not rebuke them for their desire to be first. Success is a good thing, but to be first you must be last and the servant of all. What does that mean to you?

Friday, September 21, 2012

1 Man vs. 2000 Demons, the rest of the story

In the last post we left the demon possessed man exorcised, free, and sane. The townsfolk should have been happy about that, but they lost a whole herd of swine which drowned because Jesus sent the 2000 demons into them. They pleaded for Jesus to leave their region. Boy, did they miss out on healings and miracles. But wait, they’re going to get a second chance.

The man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with Jesus, but Jesus wouldn’t let him. He told him to go home and tell his family how much the Lord had done for him and how he had had mercy on him. The man did more than that – he went to ten cities and told everyone how much Jesus had done for him. The people were amazed. The man was a marvelous evangelist because months later, when Jesus and his disciples returned to the area, the people were ready to receive him (Mark 7: 31 – 37).

I’m not obsessed with demon-possession, but I’ll be posting more about it for a while. It’s the basis for my latest novel after all, so I’m sure you’ll understand. I’ve studied the scriptures for all it says on the subject and kept my novel within those parameters as much as possible. It is fiction nevertheless.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

1 Man vs. 2000 Demons

The man lived in the tombs. The townsfolk couldn’t control him; their chains no longer would hold him. Yup, that’s right, they often bound him hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. The strength he had was supernatural. Really. No one was able to subdue him and his tormented cries could be heard all day and all night as he roamed among the tombs. He would take sharp rocks and mutilate himself. Can you imagine?

The document I’m reading (Mark 5) says he was demon-possessed. And there was not just one demon, but two thousand!

One day he saw Jesus from a distance and ran to him, falling on his knees. The demons spoke through the man, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Swear to God that you won’t torture me!” Aha! Right there you can see that it is the lying, deceitful demon who speaks. As if Jesus would torture the man.

Jesus calls out the demon whose name was “Legion” because there were actually many demons, so many that when Jesus agreed to send them into a herd of pigs, the 2000 pigs rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned.

Do you think the town’s people were happy to see the man dressed and in his right mind? Nope, they were angry and afraid and they begged Jesus to leave their region. Do you know what happened to the man? The next post will reveal an even greater miracle about his life.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

In Harm's Way

I bent down to take a closer look at the strange plastic-like caterpillar or beetle or whatever it was that was in the middle of my path. I’m not fond of creepy crawlies, but I’d never seen anything like this before. I took a stick and gently (I thought) coaxed him to the side of the road. He curled up in defense, didn’t want to move, but hey, I was doing this for his own good. He resisted; I insisted. By getting him off the driveway he was no longer in danger of getting run over by a bike or a car or stomped under my foot on my return trek.
I thought how much he was like us: unwilling to accept God’s prodding, guiding, coaxing which is ALWAYS for our own good. Sometimes we wonder why bad things happen in our lives, why something is blocking our path, or why our plans are thwarted. Maybe God is just keeping us out of harm’s way. What do you think?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Sheltered: The Prologue

Next Wednesday

Emily knew the precise moment that Ben returned, she felt him in her scars. She watched him carry some things to the house, heard the door close; she smiled when she heard him call out that Santa was here. He did that once before, in early December, insisting that she accept the gift he held out, not wanting her to wait until Christmas to use the mittens he knew she needed.

She went toward her door now, wondered what he had brought, and then heard Megan’s voice below. Oh no, he probably brought something for her. She scuttled back to her nest by the window and stared outside, was still staring fifteen minutes later when she saw them walk down the street, Ben shouldering a shovel, his other hand knotted with Megan’s.

She touched the skin on her arms, lightly at first, making it tingle. The image of Ben with Megan multiplied across her mind in broken mirrors, a repugnant picture that reflected her own self-loathing. She scratched at her scabs, felt the pricks of pain force away the ticklish sensations. She closed her eyes.

When she opened them she saw a figure standing at her door.

“Who–?” she started, but the figment waned to less than a shadow. Still, though, there was something at her door.

She rose slowly and held her hand out.

Its face was more womanly now, friendly, motherly. Yes, she knew this face. Its pearly white skin so shocking against the ruby lips, the stringy hair a match to her own. Her mother.

She stretched her fingers toward the face. The hallucination faded then sharpened. The eyes began to blaze. She drew her hands back to her own face. What’s wrong with me?  The delusion grieved Emily; all around her fluttered a longing.

And a deadly fear.
(SHELTERED will be released in October. The NOOK and KINDLE versions are out now.)

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Coming Soon: Sheltered

It's not the prettiest cover, but it fits the story.
Living together unsupervised, five troubled teens confront demonic forces and are compelled to deal with their problems in distinctly different ways. Paranormal meets psycho meets Goth in this story of a supernatural haunting and budding love. 
High school junior, Ben, hacks into his step-father's real estate holdings and provides rooms in an old two-story house to various outcasts: the schizophrenic kid, the angry Goth girl, and the homeless girl who worships him. When Megan needs a place to live she comes to the rooming house with a different set of problems and the ability to confuse and attract Ben.
One by one strange and mysterious occurrences stretch the teens’ beliefs in the supernatural. How they deal with demons, real and imagined, has tragic as well as redeeming consequences.

The paperback of SHELTERED will be out in less than a month, but the Kindle and Nook versions are available now for $3.99.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

New Cover Reveal

It was time for a new "edgier" and creepier cover for EDGE OF ESCAPE.

Emotionally impaired yet clever, Eddie obsesses over the most popular girl. He drugs her, abducts her and locks her away. She escapes, but that is part of his plan as he pretends to be her knight in shining armor. Will she accept his special devotion or reject his fragile love? Stalking gets a sympathetic twist in this story of fixation and fear.
A young adult psychological thriller: PAPERBACK $11.99 and KINDLE or NOOK just $3.50.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Building a Log Home, Final Pictures

Whew, what a wonderful time we had building our dream home. We are so happy here and contented that we can’t imagine living in a house with flat, painted walls ever again. The logs are more than comforting – they exude life and warmth and calmness. It seems as if we are on a never-ending vacation, too.

Some final pictures:

Big Pine Lodge - ta da

A view from the back in the winter- which no one ever sees because we're in the middle of the woods.

This was taken in the winter with no flash. South facing windows are important.

Having glass front doors allows the light to stream through, too, even though that's north.

Looking down from the loft you can appreciate the 6 tons of rocks we gathered from the property.

I scrunched down on the floor to try to capture the high-ceiling lofty feel of the kitchen.

See how closely the logs fit together.
I'm standing in the sunroom looking through the kitchen and into the great room through that archway. For some reason blogger won't upload the pictures of the sunroom or the bedroom, but there are more pictures in the little slideshow bar on the left margin.
Thanks for coming along on the journey with me. It was fun to organize a few of the hundreds of pictures we took of the year-long building process into these 30 or so blog posts (which allowed me to schedule all these posts and free me up for the summer).

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Building a Log Home, chapter 30

Our goal was to be in the house by Christmas and though we hosted Christmas dinner here we didn’t actually move in until the day after Christmas. There was still work to do, though. Some of the plumbing wasn’t finished until January and caulking the home had to wait a year until a lot of the settling had tightened the logs.

It took an enormous amount of caulk and weeks and weeks of work for the guys from North Arrow Log Homes to laboriously channel thick beads of the stretchy stuff between every single log. There was much more work on the inside because of all of the interior walls. They had five gallon buckets, but they had to fill their caulk guns continually. They went up and down the ladders like mountain goats. This picture shows Alex Rivers, the owner of North Arrow Log Homes, balancing on the very top of the ladder. I was afraid to use a flash when I took the picture.