Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Ministering Like Jesus - with the Help of Demons?!

I was speaking at a friend's church in the Seattle area - Saturday night and Sunday morning. Saturday night was a primer on Neo-Paganism in America, and a little bit about our story in Salem Massachusetts.

On Saturday Night I told the story of our Halloween Outreach, and the tents of ministering Christians who offer "Psalm Readings," Dream Interpretation, and counsel people who sometimes wait in line for up to an hour. I described the people who make up this wildly divergent group categorized as Neo-Pagans. The Wiccans, Witches, Druids, Shaman, and assorted Pagan groups were loosely defined, and the incredible urban myths which grew out of the 1980's with the fear mongering-created by the likes of Mike Warnke was challenged.

A number of the people sat on the edge of their seats, and were deeply interested in a subject relevant to their children, and their children's friends at school. Their own kids were perhaps the most captivated by the teaching.

We entered a time of discussion and questions. Some people had questions which helped them further define this group called Neo-Pagans. Others were thankful for the teaching, and described people they knew who fit this people group called Neo-Pagans.

From the back of the room, a couple people had been stirring, and they came forward with some accusing questions about my allegiance to Jesus. Soon one lady, who was new to the fellowship began to describe the evil spirit I brought into the room, and said that if the leadership did not reject me fully, and throw me out, she would leave the church.

I sat down and gave her the platform, and established a dialogue with her. Some people sided with me, and others were now not sure what to think. One man began to side with her, under the belief that doing a "Psalm Reading" was a kind of compromising syncretistic action which would lead other Christians astray.

The evening did not end with any resolution in respect to this woman's concern that I was demonized, and bringing evil spirits into the church. She did not dialogue with those of us who were willing to talk through the issues, instead her pontificating remained a condemnation of my spiritual state, with no evidence but a subjective discernment of evil spirits filling the room, and swarming like gnats on a hot summer day all around me.

The following morning I spoke again, and this time I gave a simple testimony of my salvation, followed by how that experience influenced by missiology (although I did not use the word missiology for sake of keeping it simple.) My new-found buddy Jim Henderson from Off the Map was there.

He had a sense of the previous evening's difficulty, and grinned graciously, and understandingly in the back of the room. After the service, the youth and their parents gathered around to tell me how much the teachings had meant to them.

Later that day I was leaving for the airport to come home, and a young man who was a friend of the Pastor's son came out to tell me that he had understood Jesus for the first time during my teaching on Neo-Paganism the night before. He now wanted to be a follower of this Jesus.

I'm not sure which part of this surprised me the most: the lady who assumed I had devil's with me when I came to the church, or the kid who found Jesus in a primer for Christians on the subject of Neo-Paganism.

Is this how Jesus felt? He did good, and was accused simultaneously of doing his work under the power and influence of devils. I would enjoy following in the footsteps of Jesus the Heretic, and working under the power of the same Spirit.

These are the ongoing stories of previous experiences from the last two years. As I prepare a proposal to put our story onto the printed page, your input is deeply appreciated.

11 comments:

Agent B said...

More accusations huh? You must be doing something right.

Marieke said...

I love stories like this that show how Jesus works through us in ways we wouldn't expect...and it's an interesting object lesson in the dangers of becoming too "religious" and self-righteous.

As always, thanks for sharing :)

Webb Kline said...

Phil, there's that picture! I haven't seen it in years. Where did you find it? I want one.

Great meeting you Monday. I posted on our visit.

Pastor Phil said...

Are yiou talking about the Monty Python Brew or the saint being attcked by demons? Is that the same one you spoke aout yesterday?

I found it on a google image search for "demons."

Pastor Phil said...

Marieke,

Those object lessons happen around us, and sometimes in us everyday - don't they? I hope I can always see them. Sometimes I'm not sure how myopic I become.

Webb Kline said...

The saint. That's the one. I sent it to a friend of mine who said, "Now of he could have just been eating a ham sandwich..." :)

Cindy Harvey said...

You were all graciousness. You behaved as Jesus, and fruit certianly followed! I hope I'd be as humble in the face of accusations, but I'm just not there yet:o)

zaque said...

Nicely done.

I wrote yesterday that it's not the secular world who will make my upcoming book a success, but the Christians who disagree with it.

Why are our brothers and sisters the first to accuse us?

Pastor Phil said...

Hey Zach,

You've got more variations on your name than a rapper. ;-)

The nature of the world system appears to attack that which is closest first, and move in ever widening circles outward.

When Christians fall into the system they respond similarly. John MacArthur will write his next book about other Christians. I was kicked out of a denomination which still holds doctrinal beliefs closer to my own than to many who now embrace me. Insititutions which refuse to change drive out their reformers as heretics whose differences are often negligible. This is the nature of Leviathon.

Adam Gonnerman said...

Not being Pentecostal or Charismatic, the situation you describe in that church is a bit alien to me. The first thing that came to mind as I read it was "on what authority did that woman speak?" Again, I admit that the limitation in understanding fully is due to my theological perspective and experience. It is interesting how the believer attacks and the unbeliever on the edge is drawn in. A shame too. Very similar to experiences of Jesus.

Matt Stone said...

Amazing story Phil. Thanks for sharing.