Remember that you are baptized

 

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Do you renounce
the spiritual forces of wickedness,
reject the evil powers of this world,
and repent of your sin?

I do.

Do you accept
the freedom and power
God gives you
to resist evil, injustice,
and oppression
in whatever forms they present themselves?

I do.

Do you confess
Jesus Christ as your Savior,
put your whole trust in his grace,
and promise to serve him as your Lord,
in union with the Church which Christ has opened
to people of all ages, nations, and races?

I do.

According to the grace given to you,
will you remain faithful members
of Christ’s holy Church
and serve
as Christ’s representatives
in the world?

I will.

. . . . .

Remember your baptism
and be faithful.

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Will we ever be free of evil?

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You’ll never get to read the devotion I just wrote about evil.

Because I erased it.

I called out Isis.

I lamented the 939 hate groups in the U.S.

And the 747,000 registered sex offenders.

I listed all the evil I could think of, and then thought of more.

I made such a convincing case for the prevalence of evil in this world, that my insides turned cold.

I seized up, recognizing that there is evil, too, in my own heart.

And I held all of that evil in the palm of one hand,

and in the other hand, I held the Lord’s prayer.

Remember, the prayer Jesus taught us to say?

Phrases like, “Deliver us from evil”

and “Thy Kingdom Come, Thy Will Be Done”

and then I stopped writing.

3 questions entered my mind, at that point:

1.  Are we humans powerless over evil?
2.  Will this world ever truly be free from evil?
3.  What is God waiting for?

And I had a moment of doubt.

* * *

But not anymore.

That devotion you’ll never read?  It was missing something entirely crucial in a devotion.

Namely:  DEVOTION!

Once I realized that, everything inside me changed.

My devotion to Christ points to all the ways I have been “delivered from evil”.
My devotion to God reveals the promise of God’s Kingdom come, and God’s will being done.
My devotion to the Holy Spirit helps me respond to God’s invitation to put Love into action.

Devotion is not just a heady spiritual response.

It is a lived, passionate response.

And so, here’s my mine:

I do not doubt the presence of evil in this world, but I am a child of God.
I am tapped into a power greater than any evil could ever touch.
And I testify to that power, and rejoice over it, and strive to wield it on behalf of the God of Love who is coming into this world.

There. Yes.

That’s much better.

Now, my writing for this week is concluded…

but my devotion continues on.

Have a great week,

 

Mitch

 

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“COME AT ME!”

 

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I had a strange dream, night before last.

I was standing in my house, looking towards the guest bedroom down at the end of the hall.

The light was off, and I could just see the shadow of a chair in there. But there was something else.

Something evil.

I knew something was in that room.  Something invisible and dangerous.

And it was about to spring.

As this invisible evil thing rushed at me, I did the most surprising thing.

I planted my feet, stood my ground, and yelled, “COME AT ME! COME AT ME!”

And it did.

It was like 1000 volts of evil rushing through my body.  There was no avoiding it.

But I faced it head on.

And then Jan was shaking me awake.

I had called out “COME AT ME!” in my sleep.

You know, after you have a nightmare, that weird creeping feeling you get where you’re too scared to move, kind of frozen in place?

I didn’t feel that.

I woke up feeling an adrenaline rush.  I felt triumphant!

I had stared evil in the face, and lived to tell about it.

. . .

There are 11 times in the book of Deuteronomy that some version of the following phrase is uttered:

So you shall purge the evil from your midst”

Apparently, purging evil was a big deal back then.

Unfortunately, purging evil involved stoning people to death for things like being a stubborn son or committing adultery.

Hardly what we would call “hanging offenses”.

Our definition of evil might be different from folks back then, but I believe evil exists.

Most of the time, when I’m aware of evil, it’s been caused by human sinfulness.  Things like racism or poverty.

I don’t personally believe in a red horned, pitchfork-carrying guy named Satan, but I do believe that evil can take on a life and power of its own.

How have you encountered evil?

A person or group spewing hate?   Your own twisted thoughts?  A chaotic world?  A sudden, intense, negative feeling or emotion?

I’ve certainly experienced each of those.

Most of the time, when I catch a whiff of evil, I run away as fast as I can, like a kid running up the stairs from the scary basement.

Or, I’ll pretend like it doesn’t exist.  Do my best to put it out of my mind.  Focus on more wholesome thoughts.

. . .

But maybe there’s some value from standing to face evil head on.

To stare evil right in the eye and say,

“DO YOUR BEST, EVIL.  I’M NOT BUDGING.”

Now don’t get me wrong.  It will probably hurt like hell.

An encounter with evil can shake you to your roots.

But you are a child of God.

A child of Grace.

The same Grace that turned Jesus’ defeat into victory,

His crucifixion into resurrection.

. . .

Grace can purge evil in your life, too,

especially when you’re willing to face your demons head on.

We give evil more power when we turn in fear, or let it fester and mutate.

Try doing what Jesus did.

He never turned away.  Not even on the cross.

He held his arms out,

and stared evil in the eyes,

and I bet he even shouted,

“COME AT ME!”

 

Have a triumphant week,

 

Mitch

 

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