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May 4, 2016, 12:00 PM

The Gadarenes

by Haley MaKenna Hardman



          Have you ever been afraid of something? Not just slightly afraid, but so afraid that you lose all reasoning when it comes to this thing. Because you're afraid of it, you can more than likely explain why, right? For example, I am deathly afraid of spiders because they are mean and scary looking (nothing should have eight legs and not be feared, okay?). If you look up the definition of fear, you find that it means: an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat. Most of the time, we have reasons for our fear. Someone is afraid of a snake because some types of snakes can potentially kill you. Now, there are some fears that just do not make sense to me. For example, anablephobia: the fear of looking up, or melophobia: the fear or hatred of music. The people that have these fears, though, could probably explain to me why they are afraid. It still may never make sense to me because I don't have the same fear, but in their mind they have a logical reason. Anyways, back to the point...  In the Bible, there is a passage about a man who has a demon- actually several. He lived in a region called the Gadarenes (in some translations it is Gerasenes or Gergesenes). At the end of this passage, it is mentioned that the Gadarene people were afraid of Jesus and asked him to leave them alone... Yet another fear that I do not understand.


Luke 8:26-27, 32-37 (NLT)

So they arrived in the region of the Gadarenes, across the lake from Galilee. As Jesus was climbing out of the boat, a man who was possessed by demons came out to meet him. For a long time he had been homeless and naked, living in a cemetery outside the town... There happened to be a large herd of pigs feeding on the hillside nearby, and the demons begged him to let them enter into the pigs. So Jesus gave them permission. Then the demons came out of the man and entered the pigs, and the entire herd plunged down the steep hillside into the lake and drowned. When the herdsmen saw it, they fled to the nearby town and the surrounding countryside, spreading the news as they ran. People rushed out to see what had happened. A crowd soon gathered around Jesus, and they saw the man who had been freed from the demons. He was sitting at Jesus’ feet, fully clothed and perfectly sane, and they were all afraid. Then those who had seen what happened told the others how the demon-possessed man had been healed. And all the people in the region of the Gadarenes begged Jesus to go away and leave them alone, for a great wave of fear swept over them. So Jesus returned to the boat and left, crossing back to the other side of the lake.


          These people just witnessed something incredible. This man had literally been insane for years, and now Jesus had flipped his life completely around and all these people could say was, "Leave us alone." Excuse me, but I do not understand. God was literally standing there waiting to free them from their bondage, and they sent Him away with no reason as to why except that they were afraid. Afraid of what, you may ask? Well, I wasn't there, so I don't exactly know, but there are some clues and I think I may know one of the reasons: they had herds of pigs that they were shepherding. In Deuteronomy 14:8, God told the people that pigs were an unclean meat and they were not to eat them. Why would someone be shepherding a pig unless they were planning on eating it later? I mean, they wouldn't be riding them or getting milk from them any time soon, so why have them watched over? These people flaked out on that law that God had set in place, so there's no telling what else they had brushed off. So, when God came around to free them of their bondage that they didn't want exposed, they couldn't seem to let it go. Jentzen Franklin says it like this:

"You want to know why people don't want to come close into the place of worship? Because you can't get close to the presence of God and live like you want to live and do what you want to do. Because when you really get close to the presence of God, you begin to act like He acts and live like He lives. You begin to take on His nature, His character, and His appetites... There comes a point when you have to walk it and live it, or you're simply not in a relationship with Him." -Jentzen Franklin, The Spirit of Python


          Maybe they had been keeping up the act of being a righteous people. In Mark 5 it talks about how they had tried to chain this man up because he was so violent, but nothing had worked. They at least knew that something was off with him, yet we don't read that they sought God about him. Maybe they were like the people that are described in Isaiah 58...


Isaiah 58:2-4 (NLT)

  Yet they act so pious! They come to the Temple every day and seem delighted to learn all about me. They act like a righteous nation that would never abandon the laws of its God. They ask me to take action on their behalf, pretending they want to be near me. 'We have fasted before you!' they say. 'Why aren't you impressed? We have been very hard on ourselves, and you don't even notice it!' "I will tell you why!" I respond. "It's because you are fasting to please yourselves..."


          You see, these people let Jesus close enough to take care of "the issues" that invaded their land, but as soon as He took a step closer, they sent Him away. They were satisfied with trading stories back and forth and watching the man that had a life changing experience, but anything more wasn't as pleasing... I guess they could’ve given reasons to their fears and then justified them by putting their fears on a pedestal, but they didn’t. Even if they had done that, they would’ve been exposing the sin in their camp. They just didn’t understand what they missed out on.

          I guess my question is: are you acting as the Gadarene people? Are you allowing God to take care of your issues, but not allowing Him to free you completely? God is standing there just waiting for you to accept Him. It's your choice. There is absolutely no reason to be afraid, so do not try and justify them.


- Haley MaKenna Hardman

May 3, 2016, 12:00 PM


by Greg Higgins


I often think about something Jesus said while He was on the cross. Think about it. The Lord of glory is hanging on a piece of wood. He's bleeding profusely and on the verge of death. His friends have almost all abandoned Him and He is being mocked by those around.

It's in this moment In which 10,000 angels could have been called. He could have demanded them to take Him back to heaven. He could have killed every one of them too. Instead, He said something. A simple utterance of words. Those words were simply this:

"Father forgive them. They know not what they do."

Those set of words don't mean too much coming from you or I. But coming out of mouth of Jesus makes them carry more weight. They carry the weight of the world.

See, not only was Jesus saying to forgive those present that day. Not only was he saying forgive them that killed Him. Yes that was part of it. However I believe that He saw a glimpse of everyone who lived. From Adam to you and me. Every person that would walk the earth. That's the person Jesus wanted forgiveness for. Forgiveness has been offered. It's just up to you and I to receive it. 

May 2, 2016, 11:00 PM


by Brenda Farmer



2 Samuel 7:28

For you are God, O Sovereign Lord. Your words are truth, and you have promised these good things to your servant.


Proverbs 3:3

Do not let kindness and truth leave you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart.


John 8:31

32 And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”


THE TRUTH…To tell the truth is something we learn from parents and teachers early in life. 


“Brush your teeth and go to bed, I’ll come tuck you in shortly!”  Can’t you just hear the words of Mom as the memory flows through your mind?  As you snuggle into bed, here she comes…”Did you brush your teeth?”  You respond, “yes, I did”…she didn’t buy it.  Instead, she wants to inspect your teeth!  Then the redundant discourse begins about “always tell the truth”.  Thank Goodness for the precious parents, teachers, preachers, Sunday School teachers and others who continue to instill the necessity of truth in this world!


Today, I want to talk to you about the Truth of God’s Word, and how we can be empowered by His Truth.  How we can quote and stand on the Truth of God’s Word when we pray.  I encourage you to find scriptures on the subject of your prayer needs, and pray what God’s Word says about it.  Jesus did this very thing.  Prime example is when He was tempted after 40 days of fasting and praying in the wilderness before He began His Ministry.  When He was tempted by Satan, Jesus quoted God’s Word and rebuked him.  There was VICTORY over evil!


Not long ago, a friend shared with me about the torment of “negative” unwanted thoughts and bitter memories that continued to circle through the mind due to issues in life.  Some call those thoughts “self-talk” because we talk to ourselves...come on, admit it, we all do it…sometimes it’s healthy, but sometimes it’s not.  Some people call the recurrent negative thoughts “toxic thinking”, and some call them “stinking thinking”.  For the purpose of this writing today, I will refer to the “negative” unwanted thoughts and bitter memories as “toxic thinking” because they poison our thought life, our bodies, and our relationships.


To be descriptive, “toxic thinking”can roll through the mind like a long train rolling down the tracks.  The thoughts keep circling over and over in your head.  They drag up all kinds of ugly emotion. You can be distracted for a little while, but then you see an object, a person, a truck, a car, a picture, a movie, etc., and sure enough, here comes the train!  Maybe, you are trying to go to sleep, or you wake up in the night, and then…THE WHISTLE IS BLOWING AGAIN!


It can be frustrating and exhausting!


Sometime ago, I went through a very difficult season in my life.  I had issues with trust, rejection, insecurity, unforgiveness, bitterness, and anger…to mention a few.  Technically, I had forgiven the villain, but my self-talk of negative thoughts and bitter memories was unhealthy and destructive.  I suffered from “toxic thinking”.  Quite honestly, it made me act a little crazy at times…well, some might say the “little” is underrated.  But, to say the least, I had to learn to do spiritual battle.  I learned some things that I would like to share with you.


One of the most powerful things that I learned is to “pray God’s Word”.  I had repeatedly cried out to God to stop the “toxic thinking”.  But after some time, through God’s Word and much prayer, I learned to focus my prayer while utilizing The Truth in His Word.


A powerful and effective prayer that I learned to repeat when I had “toxic thinking” is based on 2 Cor. 10:3-5:

3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:

4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)

5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;


My prayer would be something like this:
"Dear God, I take these thoughts captive, in the Name of Jesus, and I submit these thoughts to You, Jesus." 

I would picture myself cupping these thoughts with my hands and laying them at the feet of Jesus.  Then, I would let go of them (very important step). I also asked Him to remove the bad emotions attached to these thoughts.


Other scriptures that I frequently prayed, and still pray:

Psalms 51:10:  Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.

Psalms 19:14: Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.


Truly, I want God to renew, restore and shape me into the person that He wants me to be.  Frequently, I pray that God would purge out of me the things that do not please Him…Let me just say, this is a prayer that He will, indeed, answer…


Another great scriptural truth is Isaiah 59:19:  …When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him.


Praying Isaiah 59:19, can be very powerful and effective.  Many times when I felt powerless and overwhelmed, I have prayed that God would lift up a standard against evil who seeks to bring harm to me and my family.  Recurrent “toxic thinking” can bring harm to us; they can damage health and destroy relationships.  I respectfully remind God that His Word states that He will come against evil in my behalf.  God honors His Word, He cannot lie. (Titus 1:2)   He is rich in grace, mercy, patience, unfailing love and faithfulness. (Exodus 34:6)  God loves us as much as He loves His Son, Jesus! (John 17:23)  He wants to take care of us.  He wants us to prosper, be safe, to have hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11)  God wants us to have peace.  One of my favorite scriptures about peace is “And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7) This scripture reassures me that God’s peace will protect my body, my mind and my soul.


Even though I have victory over a disturbing thought life from the past, I still have to pray these scriptures and take thoughts captive at times.  Also, I try to always end my prayers with “according to the will of The Father” …because Jesus said so.  (Mathew 6:10)


May these words help you or someone you know.  May God richly Bless you and yours with The Truth and The Power of His Word!

April 29, 2016, 12:00 PM

Integrity Seeds

By Sandy Holt



God established the family by bringing a man and a woman together in marriage. Then the children and grandchildren were added.  That is His order.


 Just like God has an order in establishing the family, He has an order in parenting our children.  Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”  We hear this scripture quoted a lot especially when a child goes astray from their teaching.  But what this scripture means is, “raise your children from infancy to know and honor God and to have a personal relationship with Him.”


 There are lots of ways this can be accomplished but the most effective is to live a Godly life in front of your children.  Be someone you want them to imitate!  Teach your children to develop an awareness of God’s heart, the things He loves and the things that grieve Him.  Teach them integrity.  Even though we live in a world where integrity has been pushed aside, if we plant “integrity seeds” in them, those seeds will take root and grow as our children grow.  We must teach them that doing the right thing may not always be the easiest or most popular, but those right decisions will water those “integrity seeds” making good choices easier.


Parenting is, at best, challenging yet one of the most rewarding aspects of living. Take your job as a parent seriously and lean on the Lord for guidance.  He will help you in ALL your parenting decisions.

April 28, 2016, 12:00 PM

The Burning Hut

Author unknown


The only survivor of a shipwreck was washed up on a small, uninhabited island. He prayed feverishly for God to rescue him and every day he scanned the horizon for help, but none seemed forthcoming. Exhausted, he eventually managed to build a little hut out of driftwood to protect himself from the elements, and to store his few possessions. But then one day, after scavenging for food, he arrived home to find his little hut was in flames, the smoke rolling up to the sky! The worst had happened; everything was lost! He was stunned with grief and anger. "God, how could You do this to me?" he cried. Early the next day, however, he was awakened by the sound of a ship that was approaching the island. It had come to rescue him. "How did you know I was here?" asked the weary man of his rescuers. "We saw your smoke signal," they replied.


This is one of my favorite stories. It shows that we sometimes miss how God works in our lives. The man prayed feverishly, but when his answer came, he could not see God for the flames, when in reality, God was in the flames. It is easy to praise God during good times, but the true test of our faith is when we can praise God during the hard times as well. My wife Cindy's favorite scripture is Jeremiah 29:11, 


For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (NIV)


God has a plan for our lives and his plan is to prosper us, not to harm us. What stands in the way of that plan? We do. Our own plans stand in the way. Like little children, we want to have our own way, while the Father is trying to show us His way, but we are so adamant that it has to be our way that we miss what God would have for us. Then, when we fail, we want to know why God didn't bless us. Why didn't He come to our aid to fulfill our plan? 


I believe there are two kinds of atheist, those who think they are too smart to believe in God, and those who are angry at God. The first kind has faith only in their own intelligence, therefore, cannot comprehend a higher intelligence. The other kind has had some event in their lives that caused them to cry out to God and when He did not answer the way they thought He should, they got angry and bitter toward God to the point of denying His existence. 


Unfortunately, even believers can act this way sometimes. When things don't go our way, we question God, we wonder why He's not hearing our prayers. God always hears our prayers, but our plans are not His plans, our schedule is not His schedule. When we truly seek the will of the Father, we are thankful and we praise God, no matter what is going on in our lives and the challenges we face. 


No, it's not easy to be thankful when things are bad, but remember the story. God's blessing came from a fire that destroyed everything the man owned, everything he had worked so hard to achieve. We have to learn to praise God when the sun is shining and when the rain is falling. 


And yes, we need to praise God even while our hut is burning. 



By Steve Reese


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