Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Occultism In The Schools

Dear Friends,

A frantic mother pulls up to the entrance at Olive View Hospital. Her son has just had a sudden and unexplainable psychotic episode and broke every window in their house. He’s in the car refusing to come out. His face is demonically contorted and he’s snarling and growling like a rabid dog. The mother says that he has taken no drugs or medication. The boy is nine years old but has the slightly-built physique of a six year old. The little boy is violently out of control. His body twisting and contorting as he fights off those trying to help him. He has almost super-human strength and it takes eight Sheriff deputies and security guards to restrain him and safely strap him in a wheelchair. A pastor stands nearby watching. He comes from the Caribbean area where Santería and Occultism are widely practiced and which often lead to demonic possession. This pastor has seen demons manifest themselves like this many times before but not typically in a child this young.

In our local schools, “Charlie Charlie” is the new fad as children and teens hunger for the supernatural. This is a Mexican occultist ritual where participants write “yes” and “no” in boxes and balance pencils on the paper. They summon a Mexican demon named “Charlie” by chanting “Charlie, Charlie are you there? Come to me.” They ask the demon yes or no questions and Charlie answers by moving the pencil. When they are finished, they must ask the Charlie demon if they can leave and Charlie dismisses them or requires them to stay by moving the pencil to one of the boxes. One participant described the experience as feeling as if they were surrounded by evil and being watched by demons. Our local schools have banned the reading of the Bible during recess while they’ve allowed students to freely engage in occultist practices. Instead of praying and asking Jesus to show them the right direction for their life, our youth are asking demons to give them direction on their life choices. 

Students at San Fernando High say that they are not allowed to take a Bible out of their backpack to read but they can take out a Ouija board to use. For many centuries, these were called “talking boards” and used by Spiritualists to communicate with the dead. Talking boards were handmade until 1890 when they were mass-produced. The first makers of the board asked it what to call it and the demon being contacted spelled out the name “Ouija.” Psychologists might not use the word “possessed” but are unable to ignore case histories showing that use of the Ouija board has directly caused mental health problems. 

In Tepoztlán, Mexico, a paramedic posted a video of a sixteen year old girl strapped to a gurney in an ambulance. She was manifesting a demonic spirit and was growling like an animal, thrashing, hysterical and laughing that she was going to die. The teenager had taken a “shamanic” drug to induce a spiritual trance and she then used her Ouija board to contact her dead parents. As she begin to talk to the spirits and use the board, she was immediately possessed by a demonic spirit who told her to hurt herself. The video is terrifying to watch.

Some people may scoff and disagree with the reality of evil and demonic forces that work thorough devices like Charlie Charlie and the Ouija board but the Bible takes the occult very seriously. “..do not let your people practice fortune-telling, or use sorcery, or interpret omens, or engage in witchcraft, or cast spells, or function as mediums or psychics, or call forth the spirits of the dead.” Deut 18:10-11 (NLT)

You don't need Charlie
when you have JESUS!

Christian parents need to protect their children and teens from anything that might bring them into contact with occult spiritual forces. If you have school-age children talk to them about the dangers of Charlie Charlie and the Ouija board. These are not “games.” Evil is real. Demonic spirits are real. Tools used to contact the dead are used as gate-ways by the spirit world. Children need to know that these tools actually work and they can have tragic consequences. Our kids have a built-in desire to spiritually connect with God and we must teach them how to do that. You don’t need Charlie when you have Jesus. If we don’t lead our children to Christ, the spiritual predators of this world are waiting to snatch them away. Our children need the super-power of the Holy Spirit. And once the Holy Spirit resides within, no evil can come near!  Amen?

If you are not sure if the Devil really exists or if you are not sure if Christians can be "possessed," please read Are Demons Real?

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Listening To The Other Side


Dear Friends,

Let’s look today at the difficult topic that’s dividing the church and causing the rapid decline of many mainline denominations. The Apostle Paul called homosexuality a sin. Or did he? Conservative Evangelical churches teach that the Bible condemns homosexuality as sin. But progressive liberal churches teach that Paul never considered same-sex relationships to be a sin and teach that nothing in the Bible condemns gay and lesbian relationships. They explain that Romans 1:24-32 only condemns those who have sex in idolatrous temples. They also teach that the words Paul uses translated into “homosexual” or “sodomite,” in 1 Cor 6:9-10 and 1 Tim 1:9-10, have nothing to do with loving same-sex relationships. What should we believe? Does the Bible condemn it or not?  

I admit to being a traditionalist in my personal beliefs when it comes to the issues of “marriage” and to what the Bible calls “sexual immorality,” but I was thinking lately that I may be too narrow-minded if my beliefs are based solely on the interpretations of conservative Bible scholars. So I decided that I would see what I could learn from the teachings of respected gay and lesbian Bible scholars. And now, as a conservative pastor, I’m going to do the unthinkable. I’m going to invite all my liberal and conservative friends to form (or reform) their theology based on the teachings of these learned Bible scholars who are all strong advocates for the gay agenda. Most of whom I quote are self-identified as gay or lesbian and all consider themselves to be liberal theologians. Let’s listen to them and learn from them...

Pim Pronk. Gay. Biologist. Ethicist. Liberal Theologian. Author of Against Nature? 
“To sum up: wherever homosexual intercourse is mentioned in Scripture, it is condemned. The New Testament adds no arguments to those in the Old. Rejection (of homosexuality) is a foregone conclusion.. It is never condemned in isolation but always in association with other major sins: unchastity, violence, moral corruption and idolatry.”1

Bernadette Brooten. Lesbian. New Testament Scholar and Professor. Author of Love Between Women. 
“I see Paul as condemning all forms of homoeroticism as the unnatural acts of people who had turned away from God.” 2

Louis Crompton. Gay Scholar. Principal Founder of Gay Rights Movement.  Author of Homosexuality and Civilization. 
“According to (one) interpretation, Paul’s words were not directed at “bona fide” homosexuals in committed relationships. But such a reading, however well-intentioned, seems strained and unhistorical. Nowhere does Paul or any other Jewish writer of this period imply the least acceptance of same-sex relations under any circumstance. The idea that homosexuals might be redeemed by mutual devotion would have been wholly foreign to Paul or any other Jew or early Christian.” 3
Walter Wink. Progressive Liberal Theologian. Bible Scholar. LGBT Activist. 
“The Bible is negative toward same-sex behavior and there is no getting around it. Paul wouldn’t accept a (homosexual) relationship for a minute.” 4

Dan O. Via. Liberal Bible Scholar, Professor and Gay Activist. Co-author of Homosexuality and the Bible: Two Views. 
“Homosexual practice (in the Bible) is forbidden at all times.” “There is no reason however why this unequivocal position cannot be overridden if our current cultural considerations have sufficient strength, which I believe they do.” 5

In forming our belief about whether or not homosexuality is a sin, we should balance out this brief study with quotes from the GLBTQ Online Encyclopedia that calls itself “the world’s largest encyclopedia of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer culture.” Regarding the Bible it says: “The bad news from the Christian Bible is that it condemns same-sex desire and same-sex acts without qualification. This may seem less drastic when we recall that Paul outlawed all sex except between married couples.”  In reference to Romans 1:26-27, the GLBTQ Encyclopedia writes: “Paul broadened the prohibitions of the Hebrew Bible to include same-sex acts of women. Paul meant to condemn female homosexuality along with male.”

And how about the words translated in the Bible as “homosexuals?” The GLBTQ Encyclopedia states: “The meanings of these Greek nouns have been the subject of lively debates, largely provoked by gay authors anxious to show that Paul and the early church had not intended to condemn homosexuality..but recent scholarship has shown conclusively that the traditional meanings assigned to these words stand.”

That’s why progressive churches and politicians who support same-sex relationships and same-gender marriage agree that the Bible must be changed. A gay Bible scholar said, “No serious Bible scholar can deny that Scripture condemns homosexuality as a sin. That’s why we have to change the scriptures.” 

Luke Timothy Johnson. New Testament Scholar. Theologian. Gay Activist. 
“The Bible nowhere speaks positively or even neutrally about same-sex love.. The situation is straight-forward, we know what the text says. I think it’s important to state clearly that we do, in fact, reject the straightforward commands of scripture and..declare that same-sex unions can be holy and good. We appeal to a (higher) authority which is our own experience and the experience that thousands of others have witnessed to, which tells us that we must explicitly reject the premises of the scriptural statements condemning homosexuality.” 6

Gene Robinson. Gay. Episcopal Bishop. 
“Just to say that (homosexuality) goes against tradition and the teaching of the church and of scripture does not necessarily make it wrong.” 7 (This is one of my favorite quotes from the liberal church!)

To my liberal friends who tell me that the Bible does not condemn homosexuality, I love you dearly but I continue to believe that it clearly does. And these respected, learned, pro-gay, liberal Bible scholars agree that it does. In fact, I’m even thinking that I need to start preaching the words of a gay atheist. After Ireland voted to redefine marriage to include same-sex unions, Matthew Parris wrote: “As a gay atheist, I wanted to see the church oppose same-sex marriage..When have the spiritual leaders been called to follow the crowd? I thought they were to lead the crowd. Can a preponderance of public opinion reverse the polarity between virtue and vice? Would it have occurred for a moment to Moses that he’d better defer to Moloch worship because that’s what most of the Israelites wanted to do?” Referring to the vote, Parris wrote: “62% percent in a referendum does not cause a sin in God’s eyes to cease to be a sin.”8  I never thought that I would see the day when I would read the words of a gay atheist and say, “Yes and Amen!”

_____________________________

1 Pim Pronk: AGAINST NATURE? TYPES OF MORAL ARGUMENTS REGARDING HOMOSEXUALITY (Eerdmans, 1993)

2 Bernadette Brooten: LOVE BETWEEN WOMEN: EARLY CHRISTIAN RESPONSES TO FEMALE HOMOEROTICISM (University of Chicago Press, 1996)

3 Louis Crompton: HOMOSEXUALITY AND CIVILIZATION (Harvard University Press 2003)

4 Walter Wink: TO HELL WITH GAYS (Christian Century Review 119)

5 Dan O. Via and Robert A.J. Gagnon: HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE BIBLE: TWO VIEWS (Fortress Press 2003)

6 Luke Timothy Johnson: HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE CHURCH (Commonwealth Magazine June 15, 2007)

7 Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson interview: LA TIMES 8/10/03

8 Matthew Parris blog: SPECTOR, May 7, 2015

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Are We Lost?


Dear Friends,

This is embarrassing to say but a certain loved one told me last week that she is coming “out of the closet” and self-identifying as “Feline.” I’ve always known that she was more attached to cats than humans but her announcement that she is now “trans-species” really stunned me. I’d suspected that something was not quite right when I first met her. Every time we’d go for a walk, she’d dart away to chase after and try to catch lizards. I didn’t mind when she grew long, sharp fingernails but I was very upset when she shredded the side of my couch. And I was really grossed out the one time when she invited me over for dinner and dropped that dead mouse on my plate. 

So it was no surprise when she told me that she has become more and more confused about her species identity and feels trapped in her human body. She believes now that God created her to be feline and she has already scheduled her species realignment surgery. She believes that she will feel more like her authentic self after the tail attachment surgery and the facial fur implants. She’s already taking a powerful drug that will alter her hormones and grow the long whiskers that she’s always wanted.

She’s also now having some troubles at work. While her boss is very appreciative of her personal efforts in keeping the building rodent-free, he has balked at allowing her to have a kitty litter box beside her desk. She feels very strongly about this issue of accommodation and has retained attorney, Gloria Allred, to sue the building owner for not having trans-species restrooms that would have a litter box in a private stall and a fire hydrant next to a floor drain to accommodate the needs of all trans-species.

I only ask that you respect her decision to become feline and call her by her new name, “Fluffy.” When you see her at church, please refrain from any insensitive, catty comments but if she jumps up on the hospitality table while we’re eating, please push her off and firmly tell her, “No Fluffy!!
________________________________________________

You may be surprised to know that people who believe that they are partially or entirely animals claim to number in the hundreds of thousands. It’s called “species dysphoria” meaning that one has the feeling that their body is the wrong species and they have a strong desire to become an animal. Psychological literature compares “species identity disorder” with “gender identity disorder” and finds that those who suffer from these disorders will describe similar perceptions of being inside a physical body that’s not their own. 

I don’t mean to ridicule or minimize the psychological suffering when people feel uncomfortable with their gender or species, but do wish to point out that much of society today is in agreement that reality is whatever one perceives it to be. We can only comprehend the rapid cultural changes in our Nation when we understand that relativism has replaced reality in the modern worldview. Relativism is the concept that points of view have no absolute truth or validity. There is no longer universal truth or absolutes. That’s why progressive liberal Christians believe that there are no longer absolute truths in the Bible, and why we see non-historic, unorthodox interpretations of scriptures that have been twisted and reshaped to fit more comfortably into the context of today’s culture.

Reality is defined as the state of things as they actually exist. Perception is defined as how you understand something to be, based upon your own feelings, ideas and beliefs. We’ve seen reality and perception collide in recent headline news. Bruce Jenner, Olympic decathlon men's event champion stunned his three ex-wives and six children by announcing that he’s really a woman. Rachel Dolezal was recently fired from her position as the head of a local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) after it was found that she’s a white woman pretending to be black. (Dolezal claims that she is really an African-American woman trapped in a white body.)

What does it mean when a person’s perception does not match reality? In the scientific world of psychology, that’s called a “psychosis” which is a mental disorder characterized by having delusionary perceptions that do not align with reality. Those who suffer from identity mental disorders need psychological and spiritual help, but in our "progressive," relativistic society, their disorder is normalized and celebrated.

There is no hope for the world when we cut ourselves off from God who is the ultimate source of all that is defined as “reality.” When we adhere to the worldview of “relativism” and allow our feelings and perceptions to shape-shift our reality, then we have a cultural mental illness, and have lost our way. We need to return to the divine Truth. Until we do, may God have mercy upon on us all.  Amen?

The AMEN Corner is a weekly devotional for the family and friends of New Hope Family Church. It is intended for this devotional to be strengthening, encouraging or comforting and your comments too should be for the glory of God and reflect the intended purpose of these posts.

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