Using Jesus’ Name ( by Carley Evans )

John says to Jesus, “Teacher, we saw a man driving out demons in Your Name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.” (Mark 9:38, NIV) Jesus tells John not to stop the man. Jesus says, “No one who does a miracle in My Name can in the next moment say anything bad about Me, for whoever is not against us is for us.” (Mark 9:39-40)

Notice the man has been driving out demons in Jesus’ Name — not one demon, but many demons. He’s performed real miracles in the Name of the Lord, not once but many times. Yet, he does not belong to Christ, at least not according to the disciple, John.

Jesus says good performance doesn’t come from a man who sets himself against Him. If he is not against us, says Jesus, then he is for us.

“Whoever welcomes Me,” says Jesus, “does not welcome Me but the One who sent Me.” (Mark 9:37)

The Most Excellent Way ( by Carley Evans )

I’m always disturbed by Christians who denounce that God is primarily love — Christians who proclaim that God is primarily a being of wrath, retribution, punishment. God demands holiness, for sure. Our holiness, however, is due only to the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, who is, of course, God Himself. Without God within, we are not — in the least — holy.

Paul writes of “the most excellent way” in his letter to the church at Corinth. He says ultimately speaking in tongues, prophecy, generosity, even great faith and hope — if these exist in a vacuum devoid of love — then they are nothing; they gain nothing for us or for God.

The most excellent way is the way of love. Paul writes, “Follow the way of love.” (1 Corinthians 14:1, NIV)

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8, NIV)

To an Unknown God ( by Carley Evans )

“22And Paul stood in the middle of Areopagus, and said, Men of Athens, by all things I see you as vain worshippers.

23 For I passed, and saw your maumets [and saw your simulacra], and found an altar, in which was written, To the unknown God. Therefore which thing ye unknowing worship, this thing I show to you.” (Acts 17:22-23, WYC)

Paul calls the Athenians “vain worshippers.” He points out their “maumets [simulacra]” and the altar upon which is written: “To the unknown God.” Paul says God once overlooked the ignorance that allows men to worship things made by their own hands, things made of silver or stone or gold.

“But now He commands all people everywhere to repent. For He has set a day when He will judge the world with justice by the Man He has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising Him from the dead.” (Acts 17:30-31, NIV)

God calls us to repent of our ignorance, to set aside — nay, destroy — our idols. He commands us to align ourselves with His Son, Jesus Christ. When God judges the world with justice, His judgment will be “by the Man appointed” to satisfy His wrath. Proof of God’s satisfaction, of His acceptance of our repentance is the resurrection of His Son from the dead.


Self-flattery ( by Jonathan Edwards )

“All wicked men’s pains and contrivance which they use to escape hell, while they continue to reject Christ, and so remain wicked men, do not secure them from hell one moment. Almost every natural man that hears of hell, flatters himself that he shall escape it; he depends upon himself for his own security; he flatters himself in what he has done, in what he is now doing, or what he intends to do. Every one lays out matters in his own mind how he shall avoid damnation, and flatters himself that he contrives well for himself, and that his schemes will not fail.” (Jonathan Edwards, 1741)

Pure Joy ( by Carley Evans )

In my Life Application New International Version black leather Bible are many stickers such as the one above. Some are little stars; others are from the Hello Kitty collection of Sanrio characters. A few allow for a short comment, again as in the Badz-Maru angel you see here. My NIV Bible is full of colorful highlights and scribbles in the margins. Someone picking it up might believe I read this book; they’d be correct.

James speaks in his letter about considering trials of all kinds as “pure joy.”

Today, on NPR, I heard the story of a teenager in Tibet whose burnt body lay in the street while his family and friends cried aloud in the agony of the loss of a young loved one. This young man to protest — what? China’s ongoing oppression of his country — doused himself with fuel and set himself on fire. I wonder if he considered his suffering as “pure joy?” — if his family and friends considered their suffering as “pure joy?”

You protest, do you not? This young man and his loved ones, you say, are not Christian. Their suffering is different than ours — i.e. than those of us who call ourselves “born-again” believers in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. This young man, on the other hand, followed the teachings of the Dalai Lama as do his family and friends most likely.

Paul writes to the church in Corinth of his many trials. And he also says,

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-5, NIV)

After hearing of this teenager’s horrific death by his own hand in an effort to change a political system oppressing his people, I wished — prayed — that the comfort of the Lord Jesus might rain down on his loved ones whether or not they believe as I do.

Fairy Dust? ( by Carley Evans )

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Fairy dust? I would not recommend you look up the meaning of this phrase on Urban Dictionary, an online resource for slang. Slang meanings often have no relation to the original intent of the speaker. 

For example, I doubt the Republican gentleman who commented last evening that President Obama’s State of the Union address was nothing more than fairy dust meant for anyone to go beyond the denotative meaning to the less conventional and overtly nasty connotative meanings available at large.

Nevertheless, before using such a phrase to describe our president’s speech before the nation, an intelligent person might explore all the meanings attached to that phrase — especially since “fairy dust” is not a common description of State of the Union addresses.

Now, I realize the temptation to look up fairy dust in the Urban Dictionary is strong. Resist — the phrase as slang poisons the mind and depresses the heart.

Blogging is Bad for Your Health ( by Carley Evans )

Did you see that ‘sitting is the new smoking’ according to a recent AARP newsletter? Goodness then, I smoke a lot! Not cigarettes or cigars, mind you; but I spend a great deal of time sitting to blog.

So, I’m off to find myself a milk crate. I’m going to stand to blog!

Building a desk? Make it a bit taller than you planned, so you are able to stand at your computer. You’ll likely live longer and be healthier.

Show Me the Father ( by Carley Evans )

Philip, of Bethsaida, doesn’t hesitate when Jesus finds him, saying: “Follow Me.” (John 1:43, NIV) Philip even goes so far as to find Nathaniel. He says to Nathaniel, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote — Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” (John 1:45)

Nathaniel doubts anything good can come from Nazareth. He questions Jesus, yet quickly comes to recognize Jesus is “the Son of God; the King of Israel.” (John 1:49) While Nathaniel calls Jesus the Son of God, Philip calls Jesus “the son of Joseph.”

Later, as Jesus is preparing for His own suffering and death by crucifixion, He tells the disciples: “I Am the way and the truth and the life. If you really knew Me, you would know My Father as well. From now on, you do know Him and have seen Him.” (John 14:6-7)

Philip says, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” (John 14:8)

For three years, Philip follows Jesus of Nazareth on His many journeys, recognizing Him only partially. Jesus asks, “Don’t you know Me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time?” (John 14:9)

Father God, help us not to just follow along, a shadow in the crowd of true believers. Help us to really know You; open our eyes and our hearts to Your Majesty. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

The Work of God Displayed ( by Carley Evans )

Jesus comes upon a man blind from birth. He tells His disciples that no, the man is not blind because he sins or because his parents sin. Rather he is blind “so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.” (John 9:3, NIV)

Jesus spits on the ground to make a mud, which He places on the man’s eyes. Then He commands him to wash in the Pool of Siloam. The blind man obeys; he is healed, goes home seeing. His neighbors and other people say he’s the same man they’ve seen begging, but some say no, he just looks like that man. The man says, “I am the man.” (John 9:9) People want to know how he can see when he’s been blind his whole life. The man tells them about Jesus.

People take the man to the Pharisees, who demand to know how his eyes were opened. He tells them. Some of the Pharisees call Jesus a sinner, because He does not keep the Sabbath. They challenge the man, asking, “What do you say about Him? It is your eyes He opened.” (John 9:17) The man says, “He is a prophet.” (John 9:17)

The Pharisees doubt the man was actually born blind, so they send for his parents. “How is it that now he can see?” they ask. (John 9:18) Needless to say, his parents are terrified. They acknowledge the man is their son, and that he was born blind, but they deny knowing how he received his sight. They cop out. “He is of age; ask him.” (John 9:23)

The Pharisees demand the man “give glory to God.” Referring to Jesus, they spout, “We know this man is a sinner.” (John 9:24) The man says he doesn’t know if Jesus is a sinner or not; he only knows he was blind and now he sees. The Pharisees want to hear his story again. The man almost laughs, “Why? Do you want to become His disciples, too?” (John 9:27) In rage, the Pharisees boldly state they are “disciples of Moses” because they know God spoke to Moses.

Now the man challenges the Pharisees. He challenges their logic. “Nobody ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. If this man is not from God, He could do nothing.” (John 9:32) The Pharisees insult the man in a fit of great anger and frustration; they then throw him out.

Jesus finds the man. “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” (John 9:35) The man wants to know who the Son of Man is so he can believe in Him. Jesus tells him, “You have now seen Him; in fact, He is the one speaking with you.” (John 9:37) The man acknowledges his belief; and he worships Jesus.

Jesus says, “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.” (John 9:39)

The Pharisees, who hear, protest. “What? Are we blind too?” (John 9:40)

Jesus responds, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.” (John 9:41)

The disciples suspect the man is blind due to sin; the man’s neighbors and other people in his community think he might be an imposter of the man born blind; the Pharisees claim Jesus is a sinner because He heals on the Sabbath; the man born blind realizes Jesus must be from God because God only works through people who “do His will.” (John 9:31)

Jesus displays God. He shows mercy in the healing of the man born blind. He condemns the Pharisees who claim they are not blind when they obviously can not see the Truth standing right in front of their eyes.