The Serpent and Latter Day Saints

I’ve been having a discussion on my previous post with Eugene/Jordan who has been attempting to convert me, and I would suppose also other readers of this blog, to Mormonism. I don’t blame him in the least as I think anyone who truly holds a faith should share their faith provided that they are willing to listen as much as they talk.

As some of you know, I have some very good friends who are former Mormons. It has been a joy to watch them get the gospel and thrill over its transcendence. They truly desire to see others get set free from the confines and controls of The Church and have frequent conversations with those who are still trapped therein.

Maybe you know someone who’s stuck in Mormonism. I would ask that you please don’t just leave them to their religion. Mormonism is not healthy, benign or in any way Christian. The more I’ve learned about it the more convinced I am that it is nothing less than a Satanic counterfeit to the truth of God. You might think that assessment to be mean or judgmental but in their own Fall 2014 study guide on the Old Testament, Lesson Four, they teach that the woman eating the fruit in the Garden of Eden was a good thing because it gave us the knowledge of good and evil. It goes on to make the application that in the same way, Mormonism gives us the knowledge of good and evil so that we can become like God. Now, I ask you, who does that sound like?

So, if you’d like to start a conversation with your Mormon friend or family member, you might want to get some information. Here is a great place to start:

Blame You

Christ’s commands us to love each other. It’s such a simple rule and yet we can’t do it without him. This is why he calls it a new command even though it was the one the Jews had heard from the beginning. Christ came to love and he left a community of love which he expected to remain and spread. Praise the Lord it has! On the night of his betrayal, Christ prayed that we would be one so that the Father would be glorified in the Son.

Conversely, this world and its Prince continue to conspire against God’s project by sowing bitterness among God’s people. In Ephesians 4:26, Paul warns his audience to forgive quickly lest they give the devil (blamer) a foothold among them. Nothing arrests our progress toward oneness like bitterness. When a fellow believer does something careless or even malicious (as will inevitably happen), we must at the foot of the cross offer them forgiveness. Why? Because mercy lives at the foot of the cross. In order to harbor bitterness, we must abandon the hope of our own forgiveness and flee the cross for exile in the solitary seat of judgment. In that realm “they” come to offer us aid and comfort as they help us build our case against our offenders and eventually the entire world.

Though this demonic program carries especially grievous implications for the believing community, every person on the planet has encountered it. The animated feature, “Meet the Robinsons,” offers one of the most poignant examples of the dynamics of bitterness and its power to ruin lives. At the end of the clip, the advice, “Let it go and keep moving forward,” is useful if we can understand where we can let it go to and which direction is “forward.” Those answers have been released in the gospel of Christ.

Poker Face

“Something’s wrong with me?”, Jamie, my wife, said over the phone.  “I can’t straighten my legs.  What am I going to do?”

What was she going to do?  What was I going to do?  I was out on my route.  I couldn’t leave.  I felt helpless.  She was at home taking care of our two young children and she could barely walk.  Besides, I could hear the fear in her voice.  I worked extra hard to get home as quickly as possible.

When I got there, my concern turned to alarm.  Both of her legs were bent at a 75 degree angle.  She could neither sit nor stand comfortably.  I’ll never forget the sight of her hobbling up the five stairs ascending from our den into our kitchen.  As she ascended those stairs, I descended into despair.  “What could this be?  Some degenerative disease?  Why would it come on so suddenly?”  All of these questions raced through my mind.  I considered taking her to the doctor, but I had absolutely no faith that they would be able to help with such a strange problem.

We had plans that evening to eat at the home of our close friends and fellow believers, so I gingerly loaded her into the van and away we went.  After dinner, I related to my friend that I had been reading a book by Smith Wigglesworth on divine healing and I suggested that he and his wife join me in praying for Jamie.  We put her on the couch and I prayed like I had never prayed before.  Instead of asking that she would be comforted in this difficult time or that the doctors would discover the cause of the problem or even asking if God might be willing to heal her, I said, “We speak to these knees and in Jesus name we command them to be healed.”  When she stood up, she announced, “I’m better!”  The next day my family went for a hike at a local state park.  She’s not had any trouble in the eleven years since that evening.

That day I got to peer behind the veil of the material world to see what’s going on when we pray.  We’re involved in a high stakes poker game with the “father of lies.”  Jesus has told us that we have a winning hand, but as we look across the table at those mirrored glasses and that look of derision, our nerves can get rattled.  We push a few chips to the middle of the table – a five minute request qualified by lots of “if it be thy will.”

Satan responds, “It will take more than that if you want to see my cards.”

Our palms begin to sweat.  We wonder, “What if I stake all my faith on this hand and I’m beaten?  What will happen to all that I claim to believe?  What will happen to the faith of other people if they observe God’s promises fail?  Do I dare to stand?  Wouldn’t it just be safer to fold and cut my losses?”  So, we fold.  We walk away from the table with slightly less faith than we came with but at least we didn’t risk it all.  Meanwhile Satan sits at the table with a smug smile, holding a pair of deuces.

To all of us who too often fold in prayer, I commend the words of the apostle Paul, “Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of his might.  Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.”  (Eph. 6:10-11 ASV)

King of Pain

Remember the song, “Doctor My Eyes” by Jackson Browne? For you younger folks, here is a link to his performance of it:

http://youtu.be/pCTYxIsLThA

I believe this song accurately describes life in a fallen kingdom.

I’ve been thinking today about our amazing capacity for denial. Somehow we’re able to hurt, be hurt, or see hurt and just go on with life. Maybe we do this because grieving takes too much time. Or perhaps we fear that should be begin to mourn we will never stop. So, we “pinch it off.” We justify harmful actions, minimize them, or just ignore them. We do this but not without cost. When we bury hurt or regret, a part us gets suffocated. The shell which protects our vulnerability also imprisons our sympathy. We find that when we want to cry or at least should cry, we can’t.

Sadly, the one negative emotion which continues to seep out is anger. Because we’ve buried the hurt itself, the anger which seeps out manifests itself in ways which are disassociated from the original event. Subtle digs on others, quiet disdain, and outright abuse all perpetuate pain as anger widens its influence through others who will then deny their hurt. Can we really believe that the prevalence and predictability of this dynamic is attributable solely to psychological factors? I would like to suggest an alternate theory.

I believe that a malevolent spiritual entity insinuated pain into the stream of human society and that through denial he continues to proliferate it. Why? Because he exerts control through extortion and blackmail. To borrow now from an eighties’ song, Satan is the “King of Pain.” Every repressed hurt becomes a handle by which the devil and his agents can lead people around. By participating in denial, people unwittingly submit to Satan’s control in their lives.

For support of this idea, consider Jesus’ words from John 14:30 regarding Satan’s influence, “I will not speak with you much longer, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold on me (literally, he has nothing in me).” Jesus never sinned therefore he had no secret shame or repressed guilt. When wronged, Jesus readily confronted and/or forgave therefore he carried no repressed offense. The life of Jesus was the “in-breaking” of the kingdom of God.

So how do we check out of the kingdom of pain and into the kingdom of the Son once we’ve yielded to our enemy? In the second sentence of his great sermon on the nature of his kingdom, Jesus spoke these words, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” With all of the pain in our fallen world, there is a danger that mourning could consume us. We don’t have to be afraid. Jesus promises comfort. We can talk with him and each other about the ways we’ve been hurt and caused hurt. In this way, will we overcome the King of Pain.