September 2017

The Captive Set Free, Part 1
/I want to share a true account of a series of events.  The events are recorded by the person who experienced them.  We are told in Scripture that Jesus came to set the captive free.  We will often relate this to the forgiveness of sins that He so graciously extends to us.  And while this is true, Jesus came to set some people free from another type of bondage.  I would like to share a testimony with you.  It is not a smooth and polished writing, it is just a simple testimony of someone here who was freed by Jesus Christ.  Here is that narrative:/
Hi, I was possessed by a demon which showed itself on December 2, 2011.  And, I was delivered from it December 4th.  I was delivered from it by God through my Pastor, his wife, and the congregation of the Church of the Nazarene.
I started attending the Church of the Nazarene when I was six. However, I drifted away when I was about sixteen years old.  I have always had anxiety since a young age, and especially for the last seventeen years.
I started having uncontrollable kicking and jerking of my legs, arms, and body.  So in 1995 I went to the emergency room at the hospital.  Having told them my symptoms, they gave me a blood test for drugs.  But of course, I was not on drugs.  They did not know what was wrong with me and so prescribed me Ativan to calm my nerves, and sent me home.
I continued to have the jerks of my arms, legs, head, and shoulders.  This continued for years, only to worsen.  Many times I went to the [several] hospitals only to be given more Ativan and be sent home.  I was told to go and see a neurologist.  I went to the clinic in [my town] and the doctor thought that I was having seizures and gave me Dilantin, which never helped. I felt more depressed.  With no insurance I could not get in to see a neurologist.  I even tried to pay cash, to no avail.
A couple of years ago I had two events occur where I had sever pain in my chest.  The pain was so sever and lasted so long that I started to roll on the floor, vomit and urinate on myself.  I realize now that it was demonic, however, I did not realize it at the time.  I continued to have the spells which increased in frequency and were now coming upon me daily, sometimes as many as six times a day.  I started going back to church thinking that God could help me.  While at church on a Wednesday evening, I had one of those spells/seizures in the pew.  The pastor, his wife, and the congregation prayed for me.  And, the pastor’s wife, Hilda, asked my mom if this could be demonic.  My mother said, “no,” because I never felt evil in these spells or seizures. I continued to try to attend church but I would have to leave because I would feel a seizure coming on.  By now we were asking the people of the Church to pray for me.  I continued to go to church when I felt like it, but I never felt good.
No matter where I was at; doctors office, store, home, at my mother’s, work, in my car, restaurants, I would often have a spell or seizure.  The body movements got worse, with my body twisting every which way and also at times I would become stiff as a board.  I would also have horrible smells come in my nose, my eyes would begin to flicker and then roll back into my head just before I would have a “seizure.”  My fingers would begin to hit the table furiously when my seizures would start.  While I was certain that loud noises, such as children playing, would trigger my seizures. I could not control any of this, but I was conscience of everything.  I could not stop it.  Sometimes I felt so strong I could almost climb the walls when I would have a seizure.
My family would pray for me and tell me that Jesus loved me.
I finally managed to get an appointment with a neurologist.  She diagnosed me as having pseudo seizures and told me it was not epilepsy, as this was not generating from my brain.  This was coming from within myself and that I should see a psychiatrist or counselor. At my first meeting with the counselor I became very nervous and starting looking around nervously as well as looking at the floor.  I had a “seizure.”  The counselor immediately made an appointment for me to see a psychiatrist the next day.
The next day I went to see the psychiatrist and had a difficult time talking as I was trembling and was experiencing the ticks that would come upon me before I would have a seizure.  He decided to give me sleeping pills and medication for depression and anxiety.  The medications did not seem to help much.
At this point I began to believe it was much worse than just seizures.  I realized this when I began to see black shadows at work and at home.  I saw the shadows mostly when I was alone.  I would also hear my name being called.  At first it was very soft then would get louder.  It always called my name three times.  I would walk though the house to find no one there.  And, a few times my bed would shake enough to get my attention and scare me.
As time progressed, my “seizures,” got so bad that my family knew that there was something terribly wrong.  My family and I were overwhelmed with what was happening. At times my mouth would open wide and make horrible sounds.  I would also make the craziest facies, noises and jesters with my hands and would just about climb the walls with an un-natural strength when I would have the “seizures.”  People around me would have to move everything out of my way when a “seizure” would come upon me. / //We will pick up the testimony from this point in the next newsletter./
James Craig Lead Pastor

August 2017

The Pig of Sin I would like to explore a spiritual truth with you through a true story about my son, Canaan, and myself. The concept that I would like to portray it that sin must be removed completely. We are not saved from sin to continue to wallow in it. Rather, Jesus Christ suffered upon the cross of Calvary to save us from sin. He paid the price of death so that we would not die the second death. He paid the price of death so that we could be freed from the clutches of sin. Not sin covered by the Blood, but sin washed away by the Blood. One day Canaan and I went to a certain persons home to pick up a pig that we were going to take it to the butcher. When we got to the location of the pig there remained a question of transportation for the pig, and with great counsel from the homeowner we decided on our course of action. We would barrow the small pickup truck from the homeowner and “hog tie” the pig into the back of the pickup. Once that was decided upon it was time to put our plan into action. So, off we went to the pig pin to catch the pig. Have you ever tried to rope a pig? If you have ever thought of the way that God designed the pig you will know that it is very, very difficult. The pig is most often able to slip the noose and run free, and to make the pig roping even more interesting – there were numerous pigs in the pin, and we were after one particular sow. After an extended period of roping we knew that it was going to take a little more involvement. Have I told you about the pin? You see, the pin was full of pigs and the byproducts of pigs. And while it had rained, the heavenly moisture had not washed away the muck of the pig pin. Rather, it had made it very squishy and slippery. This is why Canaan had borrowed a pair of gum boots from the homeowner. And the boots were doing a fine job up to this point of our story. It was time to rethink our strategy, and without the aid of gum boots – I joined Canaan and the homeowner in the pig pin, and immediately remembered how slippery pig mire can be. The thought was that with three people we could more easily separate the sow from the herd, and with her separated we could hopefully corner her and then it would be possible to rope her. We were still holding on to that hope. Around and around we went – all three of us. Again and again and again, until Canaan reached the point of desperation. As the pig rushed past me one more time Canaan executed a move that would have made any NFL player proud. At just the right moment Canaan launched himself into the air with great force and agility. And before that pig knew what was coming… Canaan executed the most perfect of tackles, the sow was down. And not only down, but Canaan had also launched himself with rope in hand, and as he tackled the pig, the noose was slipped over its head. What a marvelous tribute to youth and agility. The pig was caught. But at a price, Canaan was covered with the pig pin mire. With the pig subdued we hoisted her into the back of the truck with the help of a tractor. With great “skill” we tied that sow diagonally across the bed of the pickup. Her front feet tied together and then secured to the front corner of the bed, her back feet tied together and secured to the opposite rear corner of the truck. It was a sight to behold. It was amazing. We had a pig tied up in the back of the truck. And when you stood back you couldn’t even see it. So off to town we headed – to take the pig to the butcher. Inside the truck we quickly opened the windows. Canaan was COVERED with mire, and oh what a smell. The pig barely moved on the trip into town. That is until we came to the stop sign where she decided it was time to try the ropes. That sow could really shake that little truck. I quickly began moving again and the sow relaxed a little, but she was no longer laying on her side. She was now on her stomach, legs stretched out fore and aft. And wouldn’t you know it, we came to the next stop light and it was red. As I came to a stop the sow decided to make her move for freedom. She began to thrash in an attempt to free her feet and legs. And as she thrashed the little truck shook violently. And as the truck shook I noticed the police car. And the policeman looking right at us. I began to pray. What else could I do? I knew that she would settle down if I began to move, but my light was red, and the police officer was looking right at us. “God please help us – do not let this pig escape.” With the prayer I caught a vision of our pig running the streets of town, a vision which caused me to pray with more fervency. How would I explain to that policeman why my pig was running on his streets? God was merciful. The light changed to green and we started to move, and our friend the pig settled down. We arrived at the butcher without further incidence. I did laugh, however. When Canaan got out of the truck to walk into the butcher, he was a sight to behold. Gum boots filled to capacity, and he was covered with pig mire. And when he walked in to asked them where to off load the pig, they looked at the truck and asked where the pig was. All they could see was me. And all Canaan said was “In the truck.” I sure hope that they didn’t think he was talking about me. When we drove around the back of the building to off load the pig, we were met by two workers. And when I backed the truck up to the dock they caught sight of the pig, and with laughter from the workers on the dock – Canaan and I slid our pig out of the truck and departed. And as we drove away we could still hear the workers laughing. The pig in the pin has some spiritual significance. When we were in the home of the pig we were contaminated by the mire. I was not as bad as Canaan, but I smelled just like him. Hilda would not have allowed me to enjoy the comforts of our home until I did something about the mire that was upon me. I could argue with her; “I am not covered like Canaan, I did not wrestle the pig like Canaan, Compared to Canaan I am “clean.’” And while that was true… I still had the filth and stench. The truth is that sin is not quantitative. It does not matter how much is there. It only matters that it is there. And the wages of Sin is death – Romans 6:23 The pig in the truck contains another spiritual truth. Even though it seemed that we had the pig under control – it was not going to stay under control. When we stopped in town and the pig began to thrash around it was only a matter of time before it would get loose. Even though no one knew the pig was in the back of the truck – it was there. Even though it did not get loose “that time”” it would get loose. And when it did get loose – the mess we would be in. Try to explain to the police why there is a pig running free in his town. Try to explain to God on the day of judgement why you have sin in your life. And how silly others thought the pig tied in a truck was. It made sense to us – and it did work, but how silly is it when you think of the sin you are concealing in your life. Something that is so deadly as sin and we conceal it out of shame. The same as Adam and Eve trying to conceal their nakedness with a few fig leaves. Ever try to sew leaves together? How long do you think that is going to last? Yet, many try all sorts of feeble methods to conceal their sin, all sorts of way to control their sin. And yet there is only one way to deal with sin. Sin must be eradicated. Eradicate means: To remove or destroy completely. Jesus says to go and sin not more. The only way to fulfill Jesus words in John 8:11 is to be done with sin – “Go and Sin no More” As long as the pig was in the truck it had to potential of escape. And the longer the pig stayed in the truck – the dirtier and smellier it got. Others would eventually notice, the smell , the sound. You cannot continue to hide sin. It will eventually overcome you. Sin must be done away with – eradicated. We eradicated the pig. We dropped it off at the butcher. And when we dropped it off we no longer had to worry about it. We could once again be clean. We could drive through any town with ease. Our pig could never escape. Our pig could never embarrass. Our pig could never again cover us in filth. Jesus Christ makes it possible to be done with sin. This is the only way we can fulfill what Scripture tells us in 1 John 5:18(NIV) We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin… It is by the power of the Blood of Jesus Christ that we can be done with sin. Washed clean. Sanctified through and through.
This leaves us with a question: “Will we be done with sin?”
James Craig Lead Pastor

July 2017

Consuming Fire
Here is a statement that I found intriguing: “A call from God to Christianity is a call to Holiness”
In other words, we are not just called to be forgiven, we are called to righteousness. We are called to be Godly people. Godly in all situations, in our speech, in our attitudes, in our responses, in our entertainments, Godly in our relationships, Godly in our employment, Godly… etc.
Think for a moment of the work of the Holy Spirit Acts 2:1-4 (NKJV) “When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, a”s the Spirit gave them utterance.
Fire is a symbol of cleansing. In ancient times a worker of gold would need to refine it, to remove the impurities. Those things that were foreign to the gold – that did not belong. Like sin in our lives. We were not created with sin – it does not belong. God has a greater design for you than that.
To remove the impurities, the refiner would put a small amount of gold into a container and put the container over the fire. As the heat would intensify the gold would melt. Heating the gold to a high temperature would allow the impurities to rise to the surface. Just the way that hard times reveal who and what we truly are. Reveal what attitude of heart we have, sinful or pure. The refiner would skim off the impurities and discard them. Notice that the refiner did not retain the impurities even though the impurities would have a gold covering when it was cooled. It would look ok – maybe even nice, but it is discarded for it is impure. Like many who will be discarded into the everlasting lake of fire because of the sin in their life covered by a false religiosity.
The heating and skimming process would be repeated until the gold was pure and the refiner would know that the gold was pure when he could see is face reflected in the molten gold. Just as we are pure when we reflect our Savior’s face, His attributes, His character.
With this in mind let us turn our attention to a familiar Bible narrative, Moses and the burning bush. Exodus 3:1-5(NKJV) “Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian. And he led the flock to the back of the desert, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. And the Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush. So he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, but the bush was not consumed. Then Moses said, “I will now turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush does not burn.” So when the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” Then He said, “Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.” We do well to notice that the bush is not consumed. And we would do even better to ask why. Why is it that the bush was not consumed? Why is it that the bush was not burned up?
Remember that fire is representative of God’s holiness. It was God’s holiness that was upon the bush. This is why Moses is told to take off his shoes because the place was holy. It was God’s presence that made it holy, not the bush, not the fire, it was God.
Why was the bush not consumed? Because there was nothing impure in the bush. God’s holiness only consumes that which is impure. But within Moses there was impurity – sin. Remember the cry of Isaiah? “In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one cried to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!” And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke. So I said: “Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, The Lord of hosts.” Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar.” Isaiah 6:1-6(NKJV)
The hot coal – fire – from the alter of God cleansed Isaiah. Furthermore, God does not cover up impurities, sin. God removes sin. It cannot be covered up, it must be removed from the life of the believer. However, sin resists this. I do not see Moses or Isaiah rushing onto the presence of God, nor do I see too many “Christians” rushing into holiness. People resist it, why? Because a sinful person cowers in the presence of a Holy God. There is fear, and there should be – for the penalty of sin is sever. Sin brings the wrath of God upon itself, judgement, penalty.
For the true seeker of God – the consuming fire is desired because it removes that which separates us from God, regardless of the cost, regardless of what we give up. It is worth it, the holiness, the relationship, the freedom to approach God. Not standing and looking from afar, but to run to and embrace a loving Father.

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