Luke 24:13-32
This is Jesus heartburn(I have to credit Dallas Willard for this term!)...31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 32 They asked each other, "Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?"

Saturday, April 23, 2011

I will boast in Jesus Christ

I ate a hershey bar for breakfast…it was supposed to be my Easter treat…but this morning I needed it. 

In every culture, every nation, and every family there are stories and beliefs that bring life…that encourage us to persevere, to show love, to serve others and live without selfishness, and to "be a good citizen"…and then there are the stories that bring death and confusion…the superstitions, the stories that encourage us to but others down so that we can be elevated, to fear other people, and its all fate or its all me. 

I am speaking of things that I don't really understand and I am not sure if my interpretation of them is correct but I have made some observations this week. Early in the week there was a gathering of important people in Bo-Town and for entertainment they brought in several comedian groups and staged a competition. One group won, and the leader of the group died shortly after. My friends were sad about this death, lamenting that it wasn't right, all he did was make people laugh and now he's dead…how could they have done that?…I immediately thought he must have been murdered…so I asked, how did he die? I was told the occult men put a curse on him; they'd been asked by the group that lost to curse him for winning…is that murder? is that real? does it happen often?

This conversation lead to my understanding that some of my friends here believe that if they succeed the will be attacked, persecuted, and cursed. That getting good grades in school could mean the family of the other child seek to harm you spiritually. Then I was told that for them to spend time with "white people" (ME) and be known to be receiving support from us, then they are targeted even more. People want what they have. And I wonder why anyone would want to succeed if that means that those around you will seek your distraction. 

They go to the occult men or a family member who is in a secret society and seek what someone else has…money, connections, power, etc…and are told to get that they must sacrifice something else. 

Christians pray and when God doesn't answer their prayers or give them what they ask for they look somewhere else…here it is acceptable to "trust" in Christ for healing and life AND to ask the witchdoctor for help too…(in America we don't turn to the occult for help BUT we have our stumbling blocks too…it is easy to trust in Christ AND_____ um, chocolate?!?)

All this has been rolling around in my head and then something terrible happened. One of my friends was attacked…not physically although there were signs of that too…but spiritually. She received what some here call a witch slap…and she suffered. She came home aggressive, speaking gibberish, and scared. She lost nearly 2 days of life that she cannot remember anything, we don't know where she was or what she did for 12 hours of that time….And we prayed and fought and prayed for hours…and when she was again able to speak the name of JESUS all she could tell us really was that she had been slapped…that someone wanted to control her, destroy her, take away her opportunity, or use her connection to the white people for their own. 

I don't understand all that has happened over the last week. Yesterday I saw the power of the name of Jesus; I felt the overwhelming love of a Father who would send his son to die so that we might be 
FREE of what torments us…
FREE of what brings us shame…
FREE from superstitions and stories that bring death not life…
FREE from the schemes of the enemy. 
But I also saw that freedom, belief in Jesus to SAVE, and LIFE come at a price…for us the price was sleep, saying NO to other ways of "salvation" and offending family members, and standing in the path of the enemy and receiving a few wounds of our own.

And Good Friday, for me, will always contain this story…of the power of the NAME OF JESUS to save…of the enemy believing that he had won and defeated Christ…of waiting and watching for Christ to triumph…and we still wait for final triumph in this battle too; my friend is sleeping a deep rest but when she is awake there is still confusion and lostness…but I believe in the power of not just the CROSS but also the RESURRECTION…and tomorrow as we celebrate the victory of Christ over the grave…I believe that we will also be celebrating the victory of Christ over the enemy and the schemes of those who seek to destroy…and this beautiful, young woman will be restored mind, body, and soul...that she will carry the scars of this battle BUT she will not carry ANY shame and through this what seemed like defeat, she will be TRANSFORMED and that which was meant for evil will ultimately be used for good.

Song has played a large part in this…every night we sing and pray together and the songs that we sing were the ones that we used as we prayed and fought and cried out to Jesus for rescue…they soothed and comforted, encouraged and bolstered, and gave hope…the words of this one came back to me yesterday…I learned this song 11 years ago on a trip that God used to change my life…they are still as powerful today as they were then…

How deep the Father's love for us 
How vast beyond all measure 
That He would give His only Son 
To make a wretch His treasure 

How great the pain of searing loss 
The Father turns His face away 
As wounds which mar the chosen One 
Bring many sons to glory 

Behold the Man upon a cross 
My guilt upon His shoulders 
Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice 
Call out among the scoffers 

It was my sin that held Him there 
Until it was accomplished 
His dying breath has brought me life 
I know that it is finished 

I will not boast in anything 
No gifts, no powr's, no wisdom 
But I will boast in Jesus Christ 
His death and resurrection 

Why should I gain from His reward? 
I cannot give an answer 
But this I know with all my heart 
His wounds have paid my ransom