When my fiancé and I first attended Chico State University in north-central California in the fall of 1973, we desired to get involved with one of the Christian groups on campus. At that time InterVarsity Christian Fellowship had a big presence there and we naturally gravitated to their meetings. But I was still pretty new to this whole Protestant Christian experience and was a little uncomfortable there, so we decided to also check out the Catholic on-campus ministry, The Newman Club. Piper never pushed in either direction… I think she was just happy to see my growing interest and was inquisitive as to see where it would lead me or better yet, in what direction the Lord had planned for the two of us, for we were solidly committed to each other by that time… after all, she was wearing the diamond ring I had given her the month before!
As it turns out, we actually ended up going to both of the campus clubs during our stay in Chico. We normally attended Sunday services with the Newman Club that not only met in their on-campus building, but also held services in local parks and other venues in the area. I recall one particularly funny incident when we were going to celebrate Mass on the banks of Big Chico Creek on the outskirts of the college town. I can still picture the young priest sliding down the side of the rocky, grassy slope with his Bible in one hand and a small jug of Earnest and Julio Gallo Hearty Burgundy in the other! We attended the InterVarsity mid-week meetings for Bible Study and fellowship. I think that is where I attended my first serious Bible Study on the book of Romans!
The one thing that Piper and I still laugh about is how the student leaders at InterVarsity greeted us for the first few months of that year. It seemed like every time we walked in the door one of them would approach us with a big smile and out-stretched hand, looking first at Piper and saying: “Oh, Hi Piper!” Then they would glance my way, pause and say: “And what was your name again?” I guess if I was in their shoes, I would have made a point to remember her name over mine as well… I did think she was the most beautiful gal on campus!
In reality though, most folks tended to remember her name before mine because up to a few years ago, it was a quite unusual name! I saw a recent survey that now lists “Piper” as one of the most up and coming popular girls name in our country! According to statistics from the Social Security Administration that keeps data on names that have more than five occurrences by gender, there were 40 girls named Piper the year she was born, as compared to 2014 with 3,840 occurrences! It has actually become a lot more common to hear someone we introduce ourselves to nowadays, reply that they have a daughter or granddaughter named Piper.
I thought about our experiences with Piper’s name this morning as I read the story of the seven sons of Sceva in Acts chapter nineteen. It would seem that there were some traveling Jews who went around the countryside attempting to mimic the miracles of Jesus by using His name to cast out demonic powers from various individuals. The sons of this chief priest were among them. But they ran into a little problem one day during their short lived ministry.
I can just imagine the look of shock on their smug faces when the voice of the demon in the person they were working with spoke to them saying, “Jesus I know, Paul I know, but who are ye?” (Acts 19:15 KJV) Then the man possessed with supernatural strength by the presence of the demon jumped on all seven of the boys and beat them up to the point that they ran screaming and naked out of the house!
I immediately thought, after reading this story, that it was interesting that the demon not only knew Jesus and Paul and the power, authority and anointing that is inherent in Jesus’ name… but also recognized that that the sons of the Priest did NOT know anything about it! The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges explains this by interpreting the demon’s words as “I recognize that Jesus has power over evil spirits, and I know that Paul is a true servant of Jesus, through whom Jesus manifests His power.” Then the commentary continues saying that the others were but “mere pretenders in the use of His name.”
It turns out that the words translated “know” are actually two different words in the original language. The demon was really saying that he was intimately knowledgeable of Jesus and His powers over demonic influences (I’m sure they have a pretty vivid recollection of Jesus’ victory parade over the Devil himself as He paraded him through the very streets of hell - See: Colossians 2:15) and that he recognized that Paul knew of his legal rights as a Christian and actively pursued the power delegated to His followers on this earth.
That statement made me pause and consider what the demons would say about me! Do they recognize me as one who KNOWS and ACTIVATES the power at my disposal that was delegated by Jesus in the Great Commission to believers before He left this earth? Am I feared by the very demonic powers that come against believers on a daily basis… or am I more afraid of them than they are of me? What about you? Have you ever REALLY considered that thought? I don’t believe that Papa God desires His family members to be weak, sickly and an easily defeated people… do you? Isn’t that what He gave us His Word for… as well as the living presence of the Holy Spirit in us?
Wow! What do you think about that? Have a great week. Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “In What or In Whom am I expecting to walk in victory with today?”