Digging in Deeper: Mark 9:29

“And he told them, ‘This kind can come out by nothing but prayer.'” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Are you a sudoku fan? I’m a word and numbers puzzle guy. You pick the puzzle. Crossword, sudoku, or something else doesn’t really matter. I don’t get to do them as often as I’d like, but I enjoy doing them. I maintained a USA Today subscription for a few months mostly so I could do the puzzles in them. The thing about these kinds of puzzles, though, is that there’s only one solution to the problem. You can try everything in the world, but if it’s not the right way, it won’t work. Well, sometimes life is a bit like a sudoku puzzle. You can try every way imaginable to overcome some challenge, but there is only one way that will ever positively move you forward. Jesus tells the disciples what it is here. Let’s learn with them.

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Morning Musing: Mark 2:6-8

“When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and knelt down before him. And he cried out with a loud voice, ‘What do you have to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you before God, don’t torment me!’ For he had told him, ‘Come out of the man, you unclean spirit.'” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Everybody has somebody they respect. We all have heroes. We all have people to whom we look up with admiration and imitation. We all have people whose authority we acknowledge. Now, some folks are genuine egoists who truly don’t do any of that, but those are the exceptions to the rule. For most of us, though, we have people under whose authority we are comfortable sitting. The thing is, though, that’s a personal designation. My recognized authorities aren’t the same as yours. But there are some people in positions whose authority is pretty much universally acknowledged; people who command respect from everybody. Jesus is one of those people. And His authority isn’t simply recognized by every person, but by all of creation. That’s a very good thing and Mark gives us a reason why here.

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Digging in Deeper: Mark 5:2-5

“As soon as he got out of the boat, a man with an unclean spirit came out of the tombs and met him. He lived in the tombs, and no one was able to restrain him anymore–not even with a chain–because he often had been bound with shackles and chains, but had torn the chains apart and smashed the shackles. No one was strong enough to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains, he was always crying out and cutting himself with stones.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

We’ve talked before about the interest people have long had in the spiritual world and specifically the demonic. There is enough out there that is nothing more than wishful thinking and unhelpful. When we encounter real information in the Scriptures, then, it is worth our time to try and learn what we can from it. When Jesus and the disciples arrived in Gentile territory they were met by a demon-possessed man. Let’s talk about how Mark describes this scene.

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Digging in Deeper: Mark 1:23-26

“Just then a man with an unclean spirit was in their synagogue. He cried out, ‘What do you have to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are–the Holy One of God!’ Jesus rebuked him saying, ‘Be silent, and come out of him!’ And the unclean spirit threw him into convulsions, shouted with a loud voice, and came out of him.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Exorcisms make for a popular subject within the horror genre. Beyond the obvious horror elements, I think there’s a reason for this. Good horror movies (and by that, I mean ones that go beyond simple gore and cheap scares) explore the human psyche in ways that few other films really do. They allow filmmakers and moviegoers to examine what it is that scares us and why. And one of the things that frightens many people is the unknown, especially when it comes to the spiritual world. People have always had a sense that there is a world beyond what we can see and that it isn’t necessarily all sunshine and roses. Stories like this one in Mark confirm that notion, but in ways that should give us confidence, not fear. Let’s talk about it.

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Digging in Deeper: 2 Kings 6:17

“Then Elisha prayed and said, ‘O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.’  So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.”  (ESV – Read the chapter)

There are two ways to understand what’s going on here (assuming on the credibility of the text).  The first is that Elisha was delusional and somehow brought this poor servant into his delusions.  That would not only be a pretty disappointing interpretation, it doesn’t fit the context of the story itself or the broader context of Elisha’s life and ministry very well.  The second understanding is that every word here is true and happened just exactly like the text says. Read the rest…