"Struck by a Demon"
Rev. Ronald L. Fair
March 4th, 2000
Good afternoon, my dearest church family, the family of God, friends of import, community leaders, Kappa Sigma Fraternity, and Greek Sorority friends, personal friends of Mark and special young people.
Marcia, Alison and I express our deepest thankfulness for your love and prayers, and expressed sympathies in this our darkest, saddest, and most painful hour of bleakness, to ever strike our lives. Third was a dear and loving son caught in a sea of despair, we did not cause. I have on the platform with me some of the most elegant and powerful clerics that I know. All are capable and have great skill of giving words of comfort, using scripture to lift our spirits with words of impression. My associate Rev. Richard Basinger, is a skilled public speaker, as ism our District Superintendent of the Arizona Conference Rev. Gilbert Ablard. Rev. Claude Phillips and I have been associated for many years. All would have been honored to share today. However, today I must take this traumatic moment to share with you personally. Although services are normally brief, I have informed Mr. Sutton that today we will show the realities of life, with the real consequences. Many of you have driven many miles and that being true, Marcia and I want to share the realities of life with you. As a good free Methodist Minister, I would not want to disappoint you with Brevity.
Mark was born in Tuscon, Arizona on April 12th 1978 and passed into the arms of Jesus February 26, 2000.
I want to share with our wonderful community of Kingsman, from midst great personal pain and Heartache, a story of a brilliant young man, full of love, liberal compassion and a horrid affliction in the last several months with a "Demon of Depression". Marcia and Alison, who is our beautiful 12 year old, as well as Mark's brother Carl, and his many friends must experience the effect of this horrendous demon that attacks the family of God more than any other oppression of the evil one, I believe.
There are also other items that generate reactions to depression these items are relationships, sex, and alcohol. There is far too much alcohol and careless sex in our schools, among young Christian friends everywhere. This is a tragedy- terrible in form for a lifetime of damage it inflicts on family and friends.
Mark knew and loved Jesus, he had high grades, he was popular as your presence, shows among men and women of all ages. He had been elected president of his Kappa Sigma Fraternity. He was skilled in computer knowledge and yet those evil tools of depression which involved relationships, sex, and alcohol, overwhelmed him in a dark moment at the age of 21.
Marcia and I hope that in this our greatest hour of pain, heartache, tragedy, despair, dismay and emptiness, we might bring you and your family to the brink of watching, looking, and expecting that this horrid demon of Satan, could without warning strike your beautiful children.
In the midst of pain, we pause to remember those who found Jesus far off at the hour of Lazarus death.
Now a man need Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha.
This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair. So the sisters sent word to Jesus, "Lord, the one you love is sick."
When he heard this, Jesus said, "The sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God's glory so that God's son may be glorified through it."
Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. Yet when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed were he was two more days. Then he said to his disciples, "Let us go back to Judea." "But Rabi," they said "a short while ago the Jews tried to stone you, and yet you are going back there?" Jesus answered, "Are there not twelve hours of daylight? A man who walks by day will not stumble, for he sees by this world's light.
It is when he walks by night that he stumbles, for he has no light." After he had said this, he went on to tell them " Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep but I am going there to wake him up." His disciples replied, "Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better."
On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem, and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. When Martha heard Jesus was coming, she went to meet him, but Mary stayed at home.
"Lord," Martha said to Jesus, "If you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask."
Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise again"
Martha answered " I know he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day." Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live even though he dies and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?"
We find ourselves saying if only-if only. Mark was in serious emotional pain for several months and we knew it. We offered professional and spiritual counsel of our own and of others. Being 21 years old, Mark had come of age. He was influenced by the modem world, the good and the evil. Alcohol, bad decisions, relationships that were not grounded in faith, ever increase the powers of that 'Demon of Depression'. It overwhelmed him and destroyed him, destroyed his future, and destroyed finding a marriage of permanent love, thereby inflicting the honest pain and sorrow, we bear today. Mark loved Jesus, in a state of mental illness; he went to sleep without violence, but in reality inflicted great violence upon his family and you his dear friends.
The Apostle Paul, like Mark, struggled within his life and questioned the direction that God had for him as reflected in the passage of Philippians 1:20-24.
To paraphrase this Scripture, Paul said that now as always, Christ will be exalted in my body whether by life or by death. For to him, to live is Christ and to die is gain. Paul struggled as Mark did with what he desired more. That being to remain here on earth or be with his Creator. Paul once asked, what shall I choose? I do not know! I am tom between continuing my life in this world, yet desiring to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far. On that fateful evening, Mark truly understood
Paul's struggle on a very personal level and found himself asking the same question.
What drives our society of young, brilliant, junior high school, high school and college students to the shadows of depression, at an alarming rate? It is not the lack of money-all have money, it seems. Let me explain it to you my dear friends and young people, it is peace and happiness. Real honest peace and happiness.
Cars don't seem to do it Mark had had eight or nine. Computers don't do it Mark had the best there was. Friends don't do it, he always had friends. Compassion doesn't do it. Mark was full of liberal compassion. For example, in my hand, I have a receipt for $590.00 where Mark bailed a friend out of jail. He always brought home someone in need, someone lost, someone hurting, someone hungry, someone broke. Sex doesn't do it, as this is a common weekend activity on l,OOO's of campuses across America. That which is sacred and beautiful has become anemic in
meaning. Recreational sex doesn't do it. Material and social things do not do it. Prestige and honor doesn't do it. Mark had a wall full of honors and certificates. Clothes do not do itMark had and bought the best. What does do it? I ask you.
Jesus said, "seek ye first the kingdom of God and all of these things will be added unto you". Mathew 6:33
So you can understand it, life is a jigsaw puzzle--Mark did not always have the pieces in order. Many of us, in reality, misplace the pieces. We are not good at puzzle solving.
What does the Bible say about peace and happiness?
Psalms 4: 7,8
You have filled my heart with greater joy than when their grain and new wine abound. ·
I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, 0 LORD, make me dwell in safety.
"l Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it"
"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."
"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."
There are more of you here today who have been struck and are now struck with this 'Demon of Depression', when the evil one has seeded in your thinking that no one loves you, that no will miss you, that there is no way out. My young friends paint this on the palate of your mind, there is always a way out, always! There is no one woman or man worth killing yourself for. Jesus said; "come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest". Mathew 11:28
The 'Demon of Depression' so attacked Mark that these verses became shrunken in his thinking abilities.
Alcohol is a product worth chatting about. It produces heartache, remorse, worry, confusion, unplanned sex, and lack of clear thinking. Saturday
night was a party night, (no blame whatsoever) but some would admit, had they not been drinking they would have insisted on taking Mark to the store and evaluated the situation more clearly. There's too much! The young ladies know it, the young men know it, I know it and Mark knew it.
The Bible says, "be drunk ii.t the spirit". Get high on Jesus. That will not produce unwanted babies, a waking moment of saying, "My God who was I sleeping with?"
The soothing comfort of alcohol is only temporary. Real relief comes from dealing with the cause of the anguish and sorrow and turning to God for peace. Don't lose yourself in alcoholfind yourself in God.
(Application Bible page 1116)
If we become truly drunk in the Spirit we will be full of joy and peace. We will have a full cup unable to sustain even an ounce of demonic depression.A footnote, my dear friends, some of you who are concerned about alcoholism with your children, have far too much alcohol available in your homes.
RELATIONSHIPS-relationships must be cultivated. Love need be real. Love need be deep.
The word of God says,
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I
am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
If l give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease;
where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is
I knowledge, it will pass away.
For we know in part and we prophesy in part,
but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears.
When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.
Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
If you mess up here young people, the 'Demon of Depression' will attack with the efficiency of war and will destroy the very fibers of your sanity. It can and will suggest no way out-other than tools of personal destruction. Those tools being alcohol, faulty relationships and careless sex.
Pain-Pain-Pain-sorrow-tears--weeping-reflection-lack of esteem and even earthly destruction. God help us.
This is the result-a brilliant young mind in his last year of college lying prostrate in a casket just days before his 22nd birthday, before our very eyes. Mark as far as we knew, never ventured into the drug world. But this is something that has brought many to the brink of disaster. As Nancy Reagan said, "just say no"! For Jesus sake, say no!