Competition is one of my signature strengths. I don’t like losing or being wrong. By God’s grace I am mellowing with age. So, I can somewhat identify with John when he and his buddies were bothered that someone they didn’t know was taking on demons in the power of Jesus’ name yet wasn’t part of their signature team. I’m sure he felt that that it was completely inappropriate for one who was not spending time at the feet of the Master to minister as a supposed follower. But John and his fellow disciples were misguided in their thinking.
He had everything a man could want. Saul, son of Kish, was crowned by the prophet Samuel as the first king of Israel. Physically, he stood a head taller than his countrymen—they literally looked up to him. Initially, he seemed humble—recognizing that he had no right to be king–coming from the smallest tribe in his nation. But along came a sheep herder who pulverized Goliath the giant with a slingshot, led Saul’s troops to repeated victories against the Philistines and captured the heart of a nation in song and in fame. Saul saw that God favored David and his heart turned from admiration for Judah’s noble warrior to jealousy.
“A June 2013 Gallup poll revealed that 70% of Americans hate their jobs or have “checked out” of them.” According to Dr. Bruce Levine, young Americans especially are rebelling against an unpleasant life through what is termed mental illness. Depression is 10-20 times more common than it was 50 years ago and it has also become a young person’s setback. “Whereas 30 years ago the average age at which the first onset of depression occurred was 29.5, now the average age is between 14 and 15.”A New York Times report in 2007 discovered that the number of children and adolescents treated for bipolar disorder had increased 40-fold between 1994 and 2003. The Center for Disease Control shares the following: “A total of 13%–20% of children living in the United States experience a mental disorder in a given year, and surveillance during 1994–2011 has shown the prevalence of these conditions to be increasing.”
Do you ever wonder what the point is for reading books of the Bible that primarily contain prophecies of God’s impending judgment against certain people and nations? Jonah, Nahum and Zephaniah all prophesied against the Assyrian empire. When Nahum predicted the impending destruction of the capital city, Nineveh, Assur-bani-pal was its evil king. Nineveh was full of bloodshed, deceit, plundering and constant warring against others (3:1).
The telephone rang and it was Effron. Unfortunately, my suspicions were correct. He called to cancel what should have been our second meeting. He was exceedingly polite. I hoped to discuss his hang-ups concerning Jesus but he stated that he did not want me to be disappointed and that at this point in his life he really was not concerned with examining who Jesus is. “Effron, when you are ready to tackle tough issues, please call me.” “I will,” he said and parted with a final comment, “I love you.” That took me by surprise.
Most likely Effron and Ramona* will find a Justice of the Peace to seal their illicit union. Some day, Effron will face Jesus. I pray it will be from a position of faith. Will Ramona confess compromising truth to marry him? I pray she will turn back to the Lord and repent lest her walk be shelved on the altar of pleasure.