Summary: Living without Jesus is the scariest experience that you will ever have.

Oct 22, 2000 Luke 8:27-39

“Nightmare on Johnson Ave.”


A very wealthy man bought a huge ranch in Arizona and he invited some of his closest associates in to see it. After touring some of the 1500 acres of mountains and rivers and grasslands, he took everybody to the house. The house was as spectacular as the scenery, and out back was the largest swimming pool you have ever seen. However, this gigantic swimming pool was filled with alligators. The rich owner explained this way: "I value courage more than anything else. Courage is what made me a billionaire. In fact, I think that courage is such a powerful virtue that if anybody is courageous enough to jump in that pool, swim through those alligators and make it to the other side, I’ll give them anything they want, anything--my house, my land, my money." Of course, everybody laughed at the absurd challenge and proceeded to follow the owner into the house for lunch. . . .when they suddenly heard a splash. Turning around they saw this guy swimming for his life across the pool, thrashing at the water, as the alligators swarmed after him. After several death defying seconds, the man made it, unharmed to the other side. Our rich host was absolutely amazed, but he stuck to his promise. He said, "You are indeed, a man of courage and I will stick to my word. What do you want? You can have anything--my house, my land, my money-just tell me what you want and it is yours." The swimmer, breathing heavily, looked up at the host and said, "I just want . . . one thing—[I want to know] who pushed me in that pool?" - Dr. Charles Garfield

We all have things that we fear, and there’s probably a name for each of our fears. Mysophobia is fear of "dirt." Hydrophobia is fear of "water." Nyclophobia is the fear of "darkness." Acrophobia is fear of "high places." Taxophobia is fear of being "buried alive." Xenophobia is fear of "strangers." Necrophobia is fear of the "dead." Claustrophobia is fear of "confined places." Triskaidekaphobia is fear of the "number 13." Or maybe your fear is something like one I heard of that even occurs in the animal kingdom. In the days of the Roman coliseum, a young Christian was thrown into the arena where the hungry lion was waiting. The lion pounced on the man, but instead of defending himself, the Christian whispered something in the lion’s ear. The lion immediately jumped back and wouldn’t go near the Christian. Overcome by his curiosity, the emperor had the young man brought to him and asked him what he whispered in the lion’s ear. Here’s what the man whispered, “After dinner, you will be required to say a few words.”

A little girl was in bed - scared of the dark. She went into her parent’s room and told her mother she was afraid. Her mother said, "It’s OK, sweetheart. There’s nothing to be afraid of, God is in there with you." The little girl went back to her bed and as she climbed into bed she said, "God, if you’re in here, don’t you say a word, you’ll scare me to death." - Charles Lowery, "Falling Isn’t That Bad," SBC Life, Sept. 1997, p. 15

When our family was in Virginia a couple of weeks ago, Victoria got to playing with her female cousins, and they were having a fantastic time scaring one another and making one another come screaming down the hall at the top of their lungs in those high pitched screams that only little girls have. There is something about fear that makes us run away from it, but then there is something about it that draws us closer. Monday night, someone in the church was gracious enough to watch our kids for a few hours so that Tammy and I could go on a date. We went out to eat, and then we went to a movie. Just behind us in line was a gentleman by himself. I overheard him request one ticket for the “Exorcist”. First of all, I would never go see the “Exorcist”. Secondly, even if I ever did, I would never go by myself! Hollywood continues to put out movies like “Friday the 13th”, “Scream”, “Nightmare on Elm Street”, “I know what you did last summer” and “Scary Movie” because of our desire to get scared at the movies. Maybe we figure that if we laugh at death, then we won’t have to admit that death really does scare us. It has been more than 35 years since Janet Leigh saw herself on the screen in Alfred Hitchcock’s classic horror film Psycho. After viewing the famous shower scene, in which she was repeatedly stabbed, Leigh was seized with an overwhelming and lasting terror. "I stopped taking showers, and even now I take baths," she says. In fact, when the actress stays in a hotel or at a friend’s home where only a shower is available, she panics. "I make sure the doors and windows of the house are locked," she says, "and I leave the bathroom door and shower curtain open. I’m always facing the door, watching, no matter where the shower head is." - Reader’s Digest, November, 1995, p. 7

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