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Mattillo | Forum Activity | Posted: Fri, Dec 28 2018 1:16 PM

 3 titles 

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Myke Harbuck | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Dec 28 2018 1:35 PM

Cool. Got all three. Thanks!

Myke Harbuck
Lead Pastor, www.ByronCity.Church
Adjunct Professor, Georgia Military College
Mac OS 10.13.6 High Sierra, Mid 2015 iMac, 2.5GHz i7, 32 gbRAM, 1tbSSD

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Bruce Dunning | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Dec 28 2018 3:02 PM

Nice find. Thanks.

Using adventure and community to challenge young people to continually say "yes" to God

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GaoLu | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Dec 28 2018 6:37 PM

How good are they?

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Lee | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Dec 28 2018 7:12 PM

For the fee of $3.97, I'm about to find out! Smile

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Mattillo | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Dec 29 2018 10:34 AM


How good are they?

I wish I could give you a better answer but at this point I'm not quite sure.  The endorsements didn't impress me but I gave them a go anyway for $4.  Here is a sample chapter so you can get an idea.  Hope this helps...


Dead Pigs

Exorcising the Demoniac

    Mark 5:1–20

    “How can I be sure of what I believe?” is a question we all ask. Will God answer?

Does Jesus really answer our prayers for a good parking space? Or to find a “just right” dress on a 75-percent-off clearance rack? I’ve heard those kinds of testimonies—healing common headaches, car accidents that almost but didn’t happen—often with a twinge of skepticism and concern, because there are usually people listening in the same room who suffer with multiyear, unrelenting, debilitating headaches or whose son or daughter died in a car crash.
Don’t get me wrong. I want to give God all the credit He deserves. I have no doubt God wonderfully intervenes in answer to prayer and many times before we’ve even prayed. But, for example, does He really orchestrate our worship services in ways we sometimes claim? “Did you see how the last song fit the sermon perfectly? The song leader who picked it had no idea what the preacher was going to be preaching!”
Well, if we’re going to give God credit for those situations, then we had better go all the way and give Him credit for this one too . . .
I was preaching a sermon series on Galatians. One particular Sunday I planned to exposit the part where Paul was angry with the Judaizers for distorting the gospel of salvation by faith and insisting that Gentile converts be circumcised. My practice was to have a lay leader read aloud the upcoming sermon’s text. So I asked him to read up to the point where Paul shouts through his pen, “I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves!” (Gal. 5:12).
The lay leader hesitated. “You’re not serious?”
“Yes. In fact, read it like you’re angry. Really emphasize it.” He did not want to do it, but he was a team player.
In those days our practice was to insert a moment of special music—a solo, duet, or instrumental—between the Scripture reading and the sermon. So the time came for the Scripture reading. Nervously, the lay leader began, but he valiantly pressed on to the punch line, gave it everything he had, and rang out the “emasculate themselves!” beautifully.
Seamlessly the piano played the opening notes of the special music, and without introduction our soloist, a petite college girl who was the poster child of innocence, stepped to the microphone and sang the wistful opening line, “I’ll never be the same again . . .”
The sanctuary erupted in laughter. She didn’t get it and sang on. Someone explained it to her later.
Shouldn’t we credit God for that perfectly orchestrated serendipity too? Maybe it didn’t feed any souls, but if laughter is the best medicine, it certainly healed multitudes that morning.
Trying to figure why, when, and how God chooses to grant our prayers is more challenging than calculus. At least there we have equations. Has anyone ever discovered an elegant (as mathematicians say) prayer equation?
The answer is no. We are simply left in a conundrum. This story of the exorcising of the demoniac doesn’t appear to help either. For as we shall see, Jesus received two main requests in this episode: one from the emancipated demoniac who wanted to follow Jesus for the rest of his life, and one from the legion of tormenting demons. Guess whose request Jesus granted? Not his brand-new disciple’s but the demons’! See what I mean? A conundrum.

Exploring the Conundrum
Let’s review. Here is the former demoniac’s request: “As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him” (Mark 5:18).
He was pleading. I picture him at Jesus’ feet. “Please, please, please, let me go with You.” If that isn’t a heartfelt prayer, I don’t know what is. Prayer is often nothing more than presenting our requests with thanksgiving (Phil. 4:6), and what the man did definitely qualifies. True, Jesus stood right there with him in person and not “up in heaven” as we picture Him today when we pray. But in every respect the newly restored man’s words were a passionate prayer request—and one that came from a thankful convert. Why wouldn’t Jesus answer that prayer?
That’s a question made more troubling when contrasted with the request Jesus did answer. In similar fashion the demons threw the man at Jesus’ feet and cried, “Please, please, please, don’t torture us!” The heartfelt petition continued: “He begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of the area. A large herd of pigs was feeding on the nearby hillside. The demons begged Jesus, ‘Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them’” (Mark 5:10–12).
The Greek word for “beg” is parakaleo, from which we get one of our words for the Holy Spirit—the Paraclete—because He is the one whom we passionately seek and who lovingly helps in our time of need. Is that not the nature of prayer?
So the legion of demons voiced their “prayer request” through the enemy-occupied man’s larynx, pleading for Jesus’ mercy. Bible teachers offer various explanations for their desire not to be geographically displaced. Some assert that demons function within assigned regions and territories. That may or may not be the case. What is troubling, however, and further whirls the swirling conundrum, is the fact that Jesus not only said yes to this prayer but did so at the expense of two thousand pigs and the economic and emotional equilibrium of the pigs’ owners and townspeople. “He gave them permission, and the impure spirits came out and went into the pigs. The herd, about two thousand in number, rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned. Those tending the pigs ran off and reported this in the town and countryside. . . . Those who had seen it told the people what had happened to the demon-possessed man—and told about the pigs as well. Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region” (vv. 13–14, 16–17).
So why did Jesus deny the prayer of His new convert but grant the request of the demons?

Explaining the Conundrum
We find the answer by noting Jesus’ instruction to the former demoniac and empathizing with a handful of people we hardly notice but for whom Jesus showed special concern: the man’s family. “Jesus did not let him, but said, ‘Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.’ So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed” (vv. 19–20).
When Jesus refused to grant the man’s request to go with Him, He redirected the former demoniac’s attention homeward. We don’t know anything about the man’s family, but he probably had a wife and children. Why would this be significant?
Think about his wife. Put yourself in her position. Was he a demoniac when she originally married him? This chapter describes him as someone living among the tombs of the dead: “No one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain. For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones” (Mark 5:3–5).
Was he that kind of man when they married? Did she walk near the local cemetery one day, hear his insane screaming, find herself attracted, run home, buy a bride’s magazine, and start planning her wedding? “Oh, Mother, I’ve just met the most wonderful man! I can’t wait to marry him.” Of course not.
Even if her parents arranged the marriage, which is likely, they would not have chosen a crazy man for a son-in-law and the father of their grandchildren. Somewhere along the way in the marriage, something began to change in him. Perhaps one day he threw a fit. His irrational behavior escalated. His anger grew more and more frightening. Too often she had to gather the children together and run from the house. Her life had become a nightmare.
Nothing helped. Not trying to be a better wife. Love him more. Pray for him. Eventually her parents intervened. Took her and the kids back into the protection of their home. Perhaps that sent her husband over the edge. He went berserk, and the whole town had to step in to drive him away, or there was no telling what he might do.
Maybe it didn’t happen exactly that way. But something similar must have happened. Young girls don’t marry demoniacs or overt abusers who turn home into hell. Her life had become a story she never could have imagined. As much as it wounded her spirit to hear him screaming at night in the hollows of the tombs, she was glad to be out of danger. Out of that marriage.
So what was she supposed to do? What was she supposed to think when he showed up on her doorstep “dressed and in his right mind” (v. 15) after Jesus delivered him from evil? Just believe him? How was she supposed to know he’d really changed? How was she supposed to believe it wouldn’t come back—whatever it was? Her husband appeared normal at the time of their courtship and wedding. Then later, out of the blue, he became a monster. Something in him—a dark power that lay hidden—rose up unexpectedly and devoured him, her, and their home. How was she supposed to believe the same thing wouldn’t happen again?
It would take more than his words: “Sweetheart. I’m not the man I was. I promise you’ll never see me behave like that again. You don’t have to worry.” How many women have heard similar words over the centuries? How many women have felt like a fool when he lapsed into the same behavior a second, third . . . or tenth time?
What she needed was not words. She needed evidence. Evidence of finality. Actually, the newly restored man did too. They all—the man, the wife, the kids, the parents, the townspeople—needed something they could point to. “There. See that? It’s over. Everything’s going to be different now.” Enter—or I should say exit—two thousand squealing, frenzied pigs, bobbing and thrashing and growing silent in the churning waves, washing up waterlogged on shore. Heaps and heaps of useless pork. And Jesus said, “So does that help?” You better believe it helped! The conundrum is solved: the demons got what they wanted so the man and his family could get what they needed.

The Gift of Evidence
Perhaps the most fundamental doctrine of the Christian faith across the centuries is sola fide—faith alone. Salvation does not come by human effort. No number of good works can earn the gift of eternal life. But like a swollen river that breaches levies and floods towns, over the centuries the sola fide doctrine has overwhelmed conventional Christian thought. We think that everything is based only on faith and not just the gift of salvation. But nothing could be further from the truth.
Faith is a gift, and God is the giver. Often faith comes by hearing the Word of God, but most of the time He gives and strengthens faith through the presentation of evidence. From the skies above and the stars beyond that “pour forth speech” (Ps. 19:1–2) to an empty tomb and expired swine below, God reveals the glory of His holiness and handiwork through observable data.
God is in the business of making the incredible credible. Yes, He expects us to believe some unbelievable things, but the God who loves us supremely understands how the hardest things require the hardiest proof.
What could be harder to believe than the fact that you and I can be rescued from the power of sin and evil? While our plight might not be as graphic as the demoniac’s, it is just as grave. The power of sin and evil from within controls us, as it controlled him. Paul addressed this with blunt pessimism in Romans. He wrote, “I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing” (7:18–19).
We may not be bouncing off the walls of rough-hewn tombs, but we are just as helpless to cast out the domineering power of sin and enter spiritual freedom. According to Paul, only deliverance will do. And deliverance is precisely what Paul declared. “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! . . . Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death” (7:24—8:2).
The demoniac’s transformation was immediate. Mark offered this threefold description of his emancipated condition: “When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind” (Mark 5:15).
“Sitting there”—as opposed to writhing in inconsolable, self-mutilating torment. “Dressed”—as opposed to exhibiting shameful nakedness. “In his right mind”—as opposed to uttering bizarre rants. This threefold description parallels our spiritual change too closely for us to miss the correlation between what happened to him and what happens to us as we are transformed into people of peace, of righteousness, and with sound minds.
The point we must not miss, though, is that Jesus did not stop His transformative work. Even though profound initial evidence existed, that was not enough to reassure anyone—the man or his family—that the transformation was thorough and enduring. Everyone needed something more. Jesus graciously supplied that something more through the destruction of the pigs—undeniable evidence of evil power vanquished.
Evidence. This is what God loves to give.
By the time I was thirty-three, I had been preaching for nine years. All those years, I had to go through an informal ritual prior to every sermon. I reminded myself why I believed all this “Christianity stuff.” I rehearsed five points methodically, literally counting to five on my fingers: the reliability of Scripture, the classic arguments for God’s existence, the unquenchable witness of the early Christians in the face of persecution, the perseverance of the Christian witness across the centuries, and remarkable modern-day testimonies. Having reminded myself of my belief system’s validity, I could step behind the pulpit one more Sunday.
But my intellectual process was like the Old Testament sacrificial system—something I had to repeat week after week in order to hold my faith firmly. I longed for something more. A surer, more lasting confidence. I told myself, I shouldn’t have to face these same questions and go through this ritual week after week. So eventually I asked a small group of my congregation to pray for me as I went away to a ministry conference. “I need something to happen in my life to turn these question marks into exclamation points,” I explained.
What happened is a long story for another time, but suffice it to say I longed for something, something which at that time I did not know God loves to give. At the very end of a four-day conference, a man approached me in a crowd of people. “You are wanting someone to pray for you, aren’t you?” I said yes. Nothing else.
He laid his hand on my heart. When he did, my heart grew very warm, from the inside out. It was a strange sensation, not like the warmth of his hand on my chest. He said, “You’ve been desiring purity strongly.” He could not have known I had been memorizing Psalm 51:10: “Create in me a pure heart, O God . . .” My knees went weak. He continued, saying, “Sometime over the next two or three days the Lord will give you the desire of your heart, and you will begin to weep uncontrollably for several hours.” Then he simply prayed a prayer of blessing. That was it.
Sure enough, partway through my five-hour trip home the next morning, I began to weep just as I decided to recite my Psalm 51:10 memory verse. I could not stop crying for the remaining three hours of the trip, even though I had to drive through two tollbooths on the interstate!
There were no dead pigs after that event, but the experience was so profound I was forever changed and convinced. As I write this chapter, I am sixty-three years old. Over the past thirty years, I have preached another fifteen hundred times. Not once since that experience have I ever had to use my five-finger recital of “Why I believe . . .”
Since that moment, when I first understood God as the one who loves to give evidence to help us believe, I have had numerous opportunities to proclaim that fact and participate in evidentiary experiences that have reassured many others. (Although I am pleased to report that no animals have been harmed in the making of this testimony.)

20/20 Focus
  1.      1. Make a list of at least five biblical examples of what God did or does to help people believe something about Him or His promises.

  2.      2. A common saying is the only things certain in life are death and taxes. But is there anything else you would include in that list of things you are absolutely sure about? What enables you to be so convinced?

  3.      3. Many people struggle to believe in God’s goodness and their value in His sight. When has something happened that helped you become more confident in God’s love? How about in His acceptance? Or in your value?

  4.      4. The Bible does not continue the story, but in light of the way Jesus treated desperate people so compassionately in the gospel records, what might He have done for the poor herders who lost all their pigs?

 Lord, sometimes I think the things that are most real are the hardest things to believe. I need Your help. Plus, there are things I once found easy to believe, but now they’re not so easy. Would You help me believe? I will keep trying to believe what’s true based on Your Word alone, knowing You’ll give me the evidence I need in just the right way at just the right time as I stay focused on You. Amen.

Vision Check
It is common, when an author begins writing a novel, for him or her to develop the backstory. What led up to the point where the novel begins? How did the characters become who they are? What is the history of the place or situation they find themselves in? The full backstory, which never shows up in the novel, is important for everything that exists.
Similarly, all Bible miracles have a backstory, a real one. Sometimes the facts in the biblical account can help you imagine the backstory, which in turn helps you discover more truths in the miracle itself. For example, in John 9 the gospel writer offered several facts about a blind man and his parents that help us imagine their lives prior to the blind man’s healing. Craft a simple backstory based on those facts that helps you identify with their situation before and after the healing. Then go to or the Fresh Eyes app to compare your thoughts with mine.

Doug Newton, Fresh Eyes on Jesus’ Miracles: Discovering New Insights in Familiar Passages (Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 2018).

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GaoLu | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Dec 29 2018 2:06 PM

That excerpt is helpful.  Looks quite interesting!  Thanks.  $3.97 is good!

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David Owh | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Dec 29 2018 2:16 PM


I grab all three. Thank you Mattillo! Yes

Logos 8 Win 10

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Ted Hans | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Dec 29 2018 2:39 PM


Thanks Yes

Dell, studio XPS 7100, Ram 8GB, 64 - bit Operating System, AMD Phenom(mt) IIX6 1055T Processor 2.80 GHZ

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