Tearing his costume off!

costumeIt’s that time of year again… Halloween… with all the “Harvest Festivals” and “Trunk or Treat” alternatives.

But as Christians we have such a diversity of “views” regarding Satan, the Adversary, the Devil.

For some, there’s a casual nonchalance… like, “well, you know, life goes on and I don’t know how any of this religious stuff works so… whatever.” For others there’s a nearly unhealthy terror and fascination about darkness stuff, almost like the constant making of gestures to ward off the “evil eye” of the Enemy, lurking in every dark corner.

This Halloween, I just want to put something out there with which you are welcome to agree or disagree, embrace or cast away as you feel led…

If we accept that the scriptures of the Holy Bible are true, then we accept that “intelligent others” exist… including both angels and demons. We are told that Lucifer exists. We understand that creatures of darkness, demons, roam the world and seek our harm. All right then. That is a simple statement of fact, one fact of life, not to be focused upon to the exclusion of all else. In fact, a great deal of the impact of the Incarnation and coming of Jesus’ Kingdom has to do with His having freed us from that dominion and domination.

Nonetheless, we “deal with the devil” every day in some form or another. He seeks to rob us of our joy, our peace, our focus on love, light, and truth. THAT is his primary purpose. Not simply to “get us to do bad stuff of darkness”, but rather to “stop us from focus on light and good”.

I once had a pastor phone me and ask, “Is it necessary to name a demon in order to cast it out? Do you have to know its name?”

My immediate answer, thinking he was involved in some ministry of major occult deliverance, was, “Um, no. In fact, you seldom know the name, unless they reveal it. In general, we know the names of very few demons, and the studies needed to acquire that knowledge are not ones I recommend to anyone unless called to that type of ministry very specifically. Why do you ask? What is the need?”

And he went on, clarifying… He did not mean specific entity name, he meant things like,  lust, or greed, or covetousness, and so on.

Ah, I got it. Well, the answer, in my experience, was pretty much the same. When temptation is consistent and methodical, and a spirit is oppressing one’s soul, the real “power and authority” for its dismissal is that of Christ, of love, of light, and the power of the Cross. One releases one’s hold on the temptation, rebukes the darkness itself, and grasps Jesus instead. Often, one may not even recognize what the darkness was, until it is gone and light fills that part of the heart. There may simply be the sense of something being “off”… or the recognition that one’s heart and attitude is far from that of Christ within. Then, back away from that shadow, release it, rebuke it, and intentionally turn towards light, love, and Christ. When one is under the influence of the shadow itself, the discernment can be fuddled, and recognition impossible.

We deal with such mundane interactions with shadow all the time. We take them in stride.

But we seldom recognize them as “suits” or “costumes” worn by the Enemy, Satan, the Adversary, the Devil.

If we did, at least many of us, would run off screaming in terror. (Please note: the enemy certainly DOES do some more “dramatic manifestations”, especially when doors are opened through occult or arcane practices. Recommendation? Don’t do those things.)

But this Halloween I just wanted to take a moment and recognize that the pitchfork, horns, and pointy tail costume of the “scary Devil” is far less common than his ordinary business suit, flowered frock, or jeans and T-Shirt. We’re perfectly willing to recognize the Enemy in the dramatic, but far less likely to grant him the credit he deserves in the mundane. Even though it’s still well and truly him and his who are at work.

Here’s the Apostle Paul with some timely teaching to the Galatians…

For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another. But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another. [Galatians 5:13-26]

That’s not a bad list of “Devil Suits”. And we see them all the time, don’t we? In our homes, our communities, even our churches? Paul gives the antidote, even before naming the toxins…

Love your neighbor as yourself, and SERVE one another in that love. (Bear in mind, the Lord’s clarification of “who is my neighbor”.) Don’t freak out. Don’t get focused and fascinated. Just love, serve, and trust Jesus in both His authority and His love.

Let’s defrock the devil, and send him home!

Grace to you, Gentle Readers!

 

To What Shall I Liken the Kingdom? — The Faberge Egg

egginside I awoke this morning with this phrase ringing through my mind, “To what shall I liken the Kingdom?”…

And I remembered, when I was a little kid, the fabulous Easter Egg Dioramas. Remember them? They were made of sugar, spun sugar (the expensive real ones), and then when my daughter was a child they were often styrofoam. But there was a little window on the end, and you would look in and see this fabulous scene!

Maybe it was a circus, maybe Disneyland, maybe an airport. The “eggshell” was thin white, or decorated some, but light would show through at this wonderful magical scene inside…

I may be showing my age here, because I cannot find any images of exactly what I mean, so perhaps you’ve never gotten to see or hold one. If that’s the case, just imagine with me a moment then…

As I woke, it came to me… One could liken the Kingdom to holding this fabulous Faberge Egg in their hands, looking through the window at all the tremendous joy, blessing, and promise contained therein.

But wait, there’s more… It’s as if, when we looked inside, we were drawn within. That all that joy, blessing, and adventure were there… accessible to us… merely by prayer. That when we “look inside the egg”, when we “pray”, when we focus on the things of Kingdom rather than the mundane things of our lives… we got drawn INSIDE, and could spend the entire day in celebration, in joy, in loving abandonment of all worries, concerns, anxieties, simply safe and celebrating inside the safety of that Egg, securely held in the hands of our Love Father and Jesus.

But wait, there’s more… It’s as if, when we get the the end of this day of celebration within the Egg… when sadly we reflect that it is time to go… it’s time to return to the mundane world of our everyday lives… Our Father and Jesus and Their Breath tell us the Most Wondrous Part! We get to take ALL this BACK WITH US!

How incredible!

To find the Egg. To find the Treasure. To find the Pearl of Great Price… REALLY to FIND IT… is to realize that, however wondrous is our time INSIDE the Egg when we have the freedom to go and do that… We have the unutterable privilege, the unspeakable joy, to BRING ALL THAT OUT WITH US!

I woke this morning, laughing. Not derision, just pure joy.

We never have to “sadly return” from the Joy. We never HAVE to be “exiled to this valley of tears”. We have been given permission to BRING Kingdom here, into our days, into our homes, into our workplaces, among those we love, among family and friends, into the community among acquaintances and strangers… into our streets, among even the odd or the evil.

It’s an amazing truth of what Jesus did… But so many Christians… wondrous, loving, spirit-filled Christians, SEE the inside of that Egg and eagerly await being set free of this earthly tent and mortal frame of our bodies, that in heaven we may celebrate the fullness of Kingdom, once we die and go to heaven.

And yet… and yet… my heart so yearns. Jesus has brought it HERE. That we HAVE Life, and that more abundantly! That God so loved the ENTIRE WORLD that He gave Jesus to bring “the life of heaven itself”… HERE!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Where do you keep your Egg, Gentle Reader? Take a moment, get apart, go find it. Find the box, find the sock, find the old briefcase, find that hiding place in your heart where you hid the treasures “too good, too fragile, to share with anyone else… lest they get broken”. Go, just for a bit, and pull out your Egg. (I know you have one. Our Father has given each of us one.)

Go find your Egg for a bit. Stare in that little hole/window. Let Him pull you inside to play for as long as you need to. Laugh, play, be His child… no work, no worries, no hassles… (just for a little while).

And then, when He says, “It’s time to go  home now,” and stretches out His hand to leave for the day… When you feel that moment of childlike “heart sink”, thinking you have to leave all this and return to the drudgery of “the world”…

Watch Him turn and ask, “Would you like us to take all this back out with us?”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

What do you say?

Grace — LM