Peace of Mind Versus Chaos
What if there were terrorist attacks in America where bombs were detonated in strategic places all over our nation? Suppose power plants were sabotaged and we found ourselves without electricity for a long period of time. What would we do? They say some kind of attack is inevitable. Are we as individuals prepared?
Many Americans have purchased a year’s supply of food or at least have some stored up. Some families have an emergency backpack loaded with crucial supplies for every member of their family. Some people can’t afford to do much of anything, but there is something everyone can do and that is we can prepare spiritually. Whatever happens, you can be sure that our minds will become a battleground where the enemy will try to fill us with fear and despair until we find ourselves drowning in a flood of hopelessness.
One thing that concerns me greatly is the dependence of so many young people on electronics…cell phones, smart phones, computer games, X-boxes, TVs, etc. for keeping their minds active. If they suddenly found themselves without all these gadgets that fill their every waking moment, what would they do? For many it’s all they know. They’ve grown up with it and life without it would be unimaginable. And yet, the Lord tells me this is coming. We are going to experience major power outages for long periods of time in our nation. I live in western New York which is pretty far north. Our winter nights are very long, dark and cold. Not having electricity for months would be a nightmare. What will people do if they find themselves in the dark with no television to watch or the Internet to surf? How will we fill our minds with healthy activity so they won’t be overcome with fear or boredom?
I want to share in this article a way of keeping our mind active and close to Jesus that will be extremely valuable for those who decide to do it. I call this activity a “Living Parabolic Narrative” or “LPN.” This will be best explained by reading the LPN I wrote that begins a few paragraphs down. To make an “LPN” we take a passage of scripture, maybe even a whole chapter, that describes things Jesus did and we begin to imagine our self being there with him in the Scripture. We go over it many times in our mind over a period of several days or weeks. We try to visualize the scene as accurately as possible according to the scripture, and perhaps even do a little research to learn what houses looked like in Jesus’ day, for example, or what it was like to have a meal together with Jesus in someone’s home. We make it all as real as possible and see our self there in relationship with Jesus and let him teach us from the Word. In this way the Word becomes alive to us and fills our mind with faith-building wholesome thoughts that crowd out the negative thoughts as we focus the eyes of our heart on Jesus. We can teach our children to do this. We can share our scriptural narratives with each other when fear tries to creep in. It is a good way to remember large passages of scripture without literally memorizing them. When we see it all in our mind, we are more able to remember it.
There is more to these Living Parable Narratives than just controlling our mind and keeping it active in a healthy way. It actually brings the presence of Jesus into our life. As we focus on scripture and visualize our self in it with Jesus, he draws near to us in a powerful way. Sometimes we may even feel his presence with us. We know as Christians that Jesus lives inside us, but most of us don’t perceive this in a way that enables us to feel his nearness. Rehearsing the LPNs in our mind can open us to this awareness of his presence.
Another important aspect of faithfully exercising our mind by putting scripture into it pictorially is that it begins to activate our imagination in a powerful and important way. Many people don’t have much of an imagination for various reasons one being that technology keeps our minds focused outwardly on what other people have seen with their imagination. Children just naturally use their imagination but many of us lose this ability as we mature. There are many articles on this site about the imagination that I encourage you to read if you have not already done so.
A holy imagination was something that was lost from humankind at the time of the Fall. It is with a holy imagination that we are able to enter into a heavenly spiritual realm that bridges the gap between earth and heaven. This is only possible if we have a godly heart which is something we choose to develop over time. Satanic cults know about the imagination and they use it to contact the evil spirit realm and to send forth curses against other people. Christians have been taught not to use their imagination because there are some passages in the Bible that speak of the evil imagination of humankind. However, an imagination is only evil if there is evil in one’s heart. What we see with our imagination is determined by what is in our heart. There is nothing to fear from using our imagination if we have been developing a good heart.
As I said, this is a complex subject and one that is more thoroughly covered in some of my other articles. Let us proceed now by reading the Living Parabolic Narrative below. May it be an encouragement to you to try doing this spiritual activity.
Jesus Heals Many in Capernaum – Mark 1:21-34.
I had been meditating about the great healing ministry of Jesus. One passage that had caught my attention was from Mark 1 when Jesus was in Capernaum. While there he taught in the synagogue, cast a demon out of a man, healed Peter’s mother-in-law of a fever, and healed people from the town and surrounding area who gathered outside Peter’s house that evening. In other passages, we read that Jesus often healed ALL the people in the multitude who gathered for his ministry.
I wanted to be able to experience Jesus’ healing power in the same way. The Bible says he is the same yesterday, today and forever. Why don’t people who believe in him today experience the same miraculous healings those people received 2000 years ago? I see people all around me who are sick with various maladies. They believe in Jesus and they pray for healing but nothing happens. Oh, I’ve seen a few healings in the church, but they are certainly not frequent and more often than not our prayers for healing seemingly go unanswered, yet the New Testament says he healed all that came to him.
As I pondered this, I tried to imagine being with Jesus 2000 years ago. What was it like to be one of his disciples and witness all those miracles?
“Why don’t you go back there with me?” I heard a familiar voice asking me in my mind. I immediately began to visualize Jesus. At first all I could see was a cloud of dust. As the dust began to settle, I saw Jesus standing before me on a sandy road in the wilderness. As more dust cleared, I could see he was not alone. Looking around I saw a small group of men whom I assumed to be his disciples. The Lord held out his hand to me as he said, “Come with us and I will show you things you have longed to see and experience. I took his hand and walked over by his side.
As we walked down the road together, the Lord spoke again saying, “Even though you feel locked in time to the age in which you were born, you don’t have to remain there. My eternal life is within you. Most people think of eternal life as stretching out into their future, but they don’t realize that eternity also includes that which has been before. With my eternal life as your life, you can come back into biblical times with me anytime you so desire.
“This is really exciting,” I responded. “I would never have thought of doing this before you invited me.”
“Yes, my Beloved,” he answered, “You have been confined by your natural, earthly beliefs based on what you have been able to see and experience with your natural senses. I am going to be expanding your perceptions to see and experience more in the spiritual realm, but you must work at this with me. It does not come easily at first, but as you practice this, it will begin to flow with ease.”
The Lord had a way of looking into my eyes when he talked that made me feel as though I was more important to him than anyone or anything else on earth or in heaven. I also sensed that time was of no concern when we were together. As I thought about this I wondered if perhaps this is part of what it means to no longer be in the confines of time. There is no schedule and no “to do” list like I make every morning that needs to be done in an allotted space of time. It was so freeing to just “be” and know that Jesus was with me always and his face was always turned towards me with the same attention I was sensing now while looking into his face.
“What is it you want me to practice, Lord, that will help me think on a more spiritual level? I asked. “I do so want to transition from living according to my natural senses to a more spiritual outlook on all of life.”
“You are doing what will help this transition right now,” he responded. “You are meditating on scripture and putting yourself into it. Using your imagination in this way will help you focus on the unseen reality of spiritual truth and lessen your preoccupation with your natural surroundings. If you continue in this you will find that spiritual things will become more real to you than the things that are natural.”
One of my favorite passages of scripture came to mind. “This is like we read about in II Corinthians,” I said, “where we are told to look at the things that are not seen rather than the things that are seen. The things that we see are passing away, but things we don’t see are the eternal things that will always be with us.”
“Yes, exactly,” he responded with a serious look on his face. “You are now living in the time of the end where you will see the annihilation of all earthly things that have no foundation in me. Remember what I spoke to you all those years ago when you received the fresh infilling of my Spirit that completely changed your life? You are now going to experience these things. They are at the door.”
I thought back to those words spoken so long ago. The Lord had said he was going to shake everything that can be shaken and only those things that were rooted and grounded in him would remain.
“Things that people have believed in and based their lives upon are going to crumble and fall,” he continued. “They will be no more. You, my Beloved, will help them begin to focus the eyes of their hearts on that which is real and unseen. Only then will they find the foundation that will enable them to survive the great calamities that will soon engulf the entire world. It will be far worse for the people of your nation because of their great prosperity. Many Americans don’t know what it is to suffer loss because they have been able to buy anything they desired or escape into the fantasy of the electronic media.”
My attention returned to our surroundings there in the wilderness. The barrenness was a stark contrast to the lush greenness and vegetation of my home in the Finger Lakes of Western New York. This dry land was very rocky and brown although there were some dark green bushes or an occasional cactus. As we continued walking I noticed a change in the landscape. Green fields began to appear, along with some orchards and vineyards. In the distance, were some buildings. It looked as though we might be approaching a town. I could hear the disciples speaking about Capernaum, so I figured that might be what lay ahead. I started to ask one of them but before I could get the words out of my mouth, Jesus said, “They won’t hear you. I am the only one who sees and hears you. They are with us because they are part of the scripture on which you have been meditating, but your relationship is with me at this time, and not with them.”
“This must be Capernaum,” I suggested.
“Yes,” he said, “this was my home for awhile after I had to leave Nazareth.”
I thought about the conditions in Nazareth prior to his leaving. The people there could not receive him for who he was because they had seen him grow up there. He was just “Joseph’s son” to them. When he read from the Isaiah scroll one morning in the synagogue and told them the passage was about him, they responded with anger and attempted to kill him. I had never thought about it, but that must have been painful for him. He grew up there with those people and interacted with them for years. He undoubtedly made some of the furniture in their homes. He had so much to give them, but all they wanted was to throw him off a cliff.
Jesus, knowing my thoughts said, “Yes, I was saddened to see their response, but I also knew their hearts, so it was no surprise to me.”
As I looked again into his face, I saw great love and compassion there as he said, “I appreciate your insight into this scripture. Few people have lingered over this account long enough to think about what I was feeling at the time. Beloved, you understand because you have experienced similar betrayals yourself.”
“Yes, that’s true,” I responded as I thought back over our many years in ministry. In every church we served there had been faithful people whose lives changed as they matured in Christ, but there had also been people whom we had thought were loyal, true Christians who turned out to be wolves in sheep’s clothing. These evil people would try to drive us out of ministry by telling lies and inciting church people against us. In each case we stood to lose our home and our income. However, as much as these insurrections disrupted our lives, God was always faithful to provide for our needs. As we searched the scriptures, we could see ourselves walking in the footsteps of some of those who had gone before us. For example, Paul and Barnabus were expelled from Antioch because the Jews stirred up influential people against them. From there they went to Iconium where a similar thing happened and they had to flee to cities in the region of Lycaonia. In our situation, those who came against us had been our friends. We had worshipped together and shared meals in each others’ homes. That really hurt.
“You were experiencing the fellowship of my sufferings,” Jesus said.
I knew I felt much closer to him now than would have been possible had I not suffered betrayal and rejection. It had all been worth it to know him in this way.
By now we were walking past some of the houses and shops of Capernaum. On our right I noticed a large building that many people were entering. It looked to me like it might be a synagogue. Jesus slowed his pace, placed his hand on my arm and said, “Come, Beloved. It is the Sabbath day. I will be teaching this morning.”
I had never been in a synagogue, and certainly not one built 2000 years ago. It was important to me to be able to remember what I saw so I could come back here in my mind anytime I wanted. The building was made of stone. Inside at the front there was a slightly raised platform with a chest at the back of the platform that I instinctively knew must have contained the scrolls that were read at their Sabbath services. In front of the chest there was a reading desk from which I assumed the scrolls were read. Lamps were on the walls at the sides of the building and some were suspended from the ceiling. The women sat on one side of the room and the men on the other. Jesus indicated I was to stay by his side since no one could see me and he knew I wanted to be close to him. We sat down together just as the leader of the synagogue went up in front to lead the people in saying the Shema. I could hear their voices in unison saying, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.”
Some of the men spoke forth individual praises to God while the women, of course, remained silent. It was not long before it was time for the teaching of the scriptures from the scrolls. The synagogue leader looked at Jesus who was rising to his feet to go to the front. Jesus sat in the chair by the desk and began to teach. As one who has read his words countless times in the Scriptures, his teachings were familiar to me, but I could sense the authority and clarity with which he spoke.
Suddenly, there was a noise so unexpected and loud that I jumped in my seat where I had chosen to remain when Jesus ascended the platform. Someone near the back of the room was making strange, guttural noises. Then in a loud, gravelly voice I heard the words, “Leave us alone! Why are you bothering us, Jesus of Nazareth?” Then after uttering a loud moan, he continued, “I know who you are—the Holy One sent from God.”
Jesus, not wanting this display of demonic activity to continue, quickly responded by commanding, “Be silent! Come out of this man!” Immediately a loud shriek came forth from the man as the evil spirit threw his body into a convulsion and then left him.
All the people were absolutely astounded. They had never seen anything like this. They had known there was something very different about Jesus as he taught because he had such authority. Other men when teaching used a lot of references to what other men had said, but Jesus spoke as though he had direct knowledge from God. Such authority combined with the evil spirit’s reaction to Jesus, left the people amazed and stunned. I knew that news of this would spread all over the town and surrounding regions like wildfire.
My attention shifted from the people back to Jesus. Our eyes met and he motioned to me that it was time to leave. We quietly slipped out of the synagogue and turned down a little street off to the right. We were soon joined by the disciples.
Jesus turned to me and asked, “What do you think I wanted you to learn from seeing this today?”
I thought about it a minute and then replied, “I have seen demons act in this same way when I was ministering. Demons have cried out for me to shut up and stop teaching. They have even said, ‘I know who you are. You belong to HIM.’ Seeing this today in my meditation reinforces for me that although things in our natural life have changed greatly, things in the spiritual realm have remained exactly the same as they were 2000 years ago. All the accounts we read about your life and ministry are examples for us of what you will still do today if we will believe and yield ourselves to you. You will teach through us, cast out demons through us and even heal the sick through us. I know this in my intellect but there is still a part of me that doubts that you can do all this through me. Somehow seeing this today builds my faith.”
“That is exactly what I wanted you to see,” he affirmed. “You have had the faith to cast out evil spirits, and you understand that it is my life in you that they fear, not you. However, you have not had faith to believe that I can also heal the sick through you. As you meditate on the miracles I did in Capernaum, I will be building your faith to believe that I will heal you and I will heal others through you. I allowed your ministry to start by confronting the demonic realm so you could see the results of my power flowing through you. Now as you enter into the scriptures with me and see me heal the sick, your faith will be increasing to believe I will now heal you and heal others through you.”
I was thrilled to hear those words. I felt deep in my heart a resolve to spend as much time as possible meditating on Jesus’ ministry and seeing myself there with him. I had spent years digging through the Bible, writing out healing scriptures and memorizing them, but I always wanted a way to more fully enter into them. Jesus was showing me now how to do this.
Soon we stopped in front of a small house. One of the disciples (I knew it must be Peter) led the way up to the door and we all entered. It was a modest home made of stone and clay. Peter led us to a room just off the main room where his mother-in-law lay on a bed in one corner. Her face looked flushed as though she were burning up with fever. Peter was talking with Jesus about how ill she had been and how long the fever had been with her. At this time Peter had not known Jesus for long, but I could see by the look on his face he believed that Jesus could heal her.
The Lord didn’t hesitate. He walked over to her, and while rebuking the fever he reached down, took her by the hand and raised her up. Everyone was astounded and overwhelmed with joy! In an instant this woman who was obviously burning up with fever, lying weak and listless on her bed, had been transformed into a robust, energetic woman who wanted to fix us all a meal. Her servant heart and gratitude were obvious to all.
Jesus turned to me and said, “Beloved, I want you to picture this healing in your mind over and over again. Use the eyes of your heart to put in as many details as you possibly can until the scene becomes vivid in your mind. I want you to begin experiencing my Word on a whole new level. When you first began seeking me, all you knew to do was to read my Word. Then you learned to study and look up word meanings in the original languages. Much later you learned to interpret some passages using allegory. Now I want you to see
Jesus gently took my face in his hands and looked me in the eyes as he said, “This is very important. I want you to do this and teach others to do it.”
I was not sure I understood the urgency of his directive. “Why is this so important?” I asked.
“For several reasons,” he answered. “First, because of the great shaking that is beginning now all over the earth. Everything people have trusted in will crumble. There will be cataclysmic changes in nations, governments, religious systems and weather. There will come a day soon in America when having a Bible will be against the law and punishable by death. Many people have tried to memorize portions of my word, and this is a good thing, but if not rehearsed regularly, it can be forgotten. Also memorized verses are often taken out of context with no knowledge of the surrounding text. If my people will take a chapter or two of the gospel and visualize the story as it unfolds, they will have sealed it into their memory and heart where it will not be forgotten. Over time they will have stored up many long biblical narratives that can never be taken away from them.
“The second reason for doing this is that visualizing the message causes biblical truth to reach the deepest levels of your heart. As you continue doing this, your faith will increase. No matter where you are or what is transpiring around you, you can walk into the scriptures with me. In this way you will have peace when others hearts are failing them for fear. Not only will your emotions come under the true power of the scriptures, but also your body. Your physical body understands truth more readily as picture than as words.”
Jesus continued, “Learning to see with the eyes of your heart will help to awaken you to spiritual realities. Adam and Eve before they sinned were able to walk and talk with me in the garden. When they sinned and were cast out of the garden, they lost this ability to perceive my presence. I am restoring that to my people in these end times, but they must desire this and spend time with me so I can help them develop the parts of themselves that became inactive at the time of the fall. Visualizing the scriptures and putting themselves into them with me will begin to awaken these parts. The more you concentrate on my Word using all your faculties, the more you will begin to experience my presence in a very perceptible way.”
Time passed quickly in the little cottage talking with Jesus. The women had been busy with meal preparations and soon it was time to eat. On the floor was a mat used as a table. We were all bidden to sit around the mat in any way we deemed comfortable. Some reclined while others sat cross-legged or squatting on their haunches. There was a bowl of some sort of broth or soup in the center of the mat. Loaves of bread were at various places near the bowl.
(There are no details in the scripture about this meal, so for my meditation Jesus looked up to heaven and blessed the food.) Everyone was still quite joyful and filled with awe over the wonderful miracle of the fevered woman’s healing. I did as I observed those around me by tearing off pieces of bread and dipping them in the broth in the center of the table. There were also a few vegetables, cheese, and fruit consisting of figs and grapes. There were no plates. One used only their fingers to grasp and eat one bite at a time. We could certainly learn a few things from these old ways, I thought. No food wasted and no dishes to wash!
It was so pleasant being there with Jesus and his friends…peace and rest permeated the atmosphere. Time passed quickly and soon it was time to light the lamps as it was getting dark outside. I began to hear voices mumbling outside on the street. At times people called out loud but I couldn’t distinguish what they were saying. Peter opened the door and looked outside. He reported that a large crowd had gathered in the street and all eyes were on his house. It was obvious that word about Jesus’ miracles had spread throughout the town and many others were hoping that they or their loved ones would become recipients of his miraculous ministry. It seemed that the whole town was outside the door as the street was completely filled with people as far as one could see.
“Why did they wait until dark to come?” I asked Jesus. “I’m sure they were most anxious to be healed by you.”
“Because of the Sabbath,” Jesus explained. “According to the law of the scribes and Pharisees it is unlawful to carry anything heavier than two figs on the Sabbath day. People wanting to carry their sick to be healed had to wait until evening since the Sabbath officially ends when it is dark enough to see at least three stars in the sky. Come, my Beloved, let us go outside and I will begin ministering to the people.”
What a sight it was! The sky was indeed dark and star studded, but the street was well lit because of all the lanterns brought by the people. Their faces were filled with expressions of anticipation, hope and excitement. Some of the sick were carried on pallets; others were just leaning on someone for support. Jesus went right into the crowd and began touching people and healing them. There were shouts of joy and great excitement as person after person was touched. People rose up off their pallets and jumped for joy. Diseased, blotched skin became completely clear. Gaping wounds were healed. Swollen limbs were shrunk back to their normal size and tumors disappeared. The deaf heard their first words and blind eyes were opened.
The kingdom of darkness was most distressed by what was taking place. Demons came out of many people shrieking, “We know who you are. You are Christ! You are the Son of God!” Jesus rebuked them and commanded them to be silent. No person there was left out as Jesus healed all who came. No one wanted this time to end, but it grew late, everyone was tired and Jesus’ work had been done. It was time to go home. Jesus was also undoubtedly tired and needed rest also.
Jesus, Peter’s family and fellow disciples and I went back into the house.
“It is time for me to go home, too,” I said to Jesus. “Everyone needs rest after this exciting day.”
“Good night, my dear one,” Jesus said as he held my hand. “Now that you have been here, it will be in your mind forever and you can come back often.”
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Please see below some interesting historical facts I learned from the following website:
Food: The woman’s daily job included preparing food for her family – for example, they would grind grain, bake bread, milk the animals, and make cheese. Typically a family ate two meals: Breakfast – light or small amounts of food taken to work; and Dinner – A large meal with cheese, wine, vegetables and fruits, and eggs. As for meat, fish was most common, followed by chicken or fowl. Red meat (beef and lamb) was served only on special occasions, and pork and crustaceans were absolutely forbidden. Most foods were boiled or stewed in a big pot and seasoned with salt, onions, garlic, cumin, coriander, mint, dill, and mustard. Food was sweetened with wild honey or syrups from dates or grapes. Food was generally served in a common bowl and eaten by dipping in with the fingers.
Clothing: The undergarment was called a “tunic”. The outer garment was called a “mantle” – it was loose fitting with fringes, bound by blue ribbon. Men wore a belt – a four-inch wide leather belt or cloth “girdle.” If one was wearing only an undergarment, then he was said to be “naked” or “stripped.” If one was wearing only an undergarment (tunic) and belt, they were said to be wearing a “loincloth.” The phrase “to gird your loins” meant that the tunic was pulled up between the legs and tucked into the belt. People also wore sandals on their feet, and a white cloth over their head, hanging to their shoulders. This cloth protected them from the sun.
Housing: Houses were all purpose 1-2 room squares, with dirt floors, flat roofs, low and narrow doorways, and front wooden doors. Often people would sleep on flat roofs during hot nights. The houses were arranged around a central shared courtyard where neighbors performed daily chores (cooking, laundry, etc.) in each other’s company. Water was carried in from a public well and stored in a courtyard cistern. Lighting was provided by earthenware oil lamps. People slept on mats, and owned limited personal goods.