Archive for October, 2012

The Top Three Dangerous Ways The Occult Influences Us Today

October 31, 2012

Title: The Top Three Dangerous Ways the Occult Influences Us Today

Text: 1 Timothy 4:1

Time: October 26th, 2012

I’ve been talking about the world of the occult, and warning everyone about the dangers therein. The word “occult” means “hidden or secret,” and so in conjunction with the world of the spirit, it means “hidden or secret spiritual reality.” And more and more people are fascinated with the secret world of the occult today, especially since more and more people are turning away from historic Christianity and the traditional church. In order to fill the spiritual vacuum left by their fleeing Christianity, more people turn to the world of the occult for answers. It’s hardly possible to live in modern, 21st century America and avoid the occult world. We’ll run into it in one form or another almost every day. Now that may be hard to believe for some people because they aren’t conscious of the hidden, spiritual world around them. But the occult is everywhere, literally, whether we know it or not, or whether we want to admit it or not. Take for example the perfectly harmless act of visiting the neighborhood Wal-Mart store. What could be as safe as going shopping in a national family discount chain? It’s as far away from the spiritual world of the occult as anything could be, right? Wrong. Walk past the Halloween costume aisle and observe all manner of occult objects, ranging from ghost and witch outfits, to crystal balls and other occult tools. The same things can be found in Target, K-Mart, and other stores. It’s hard to avoid the occult influence today. Or consider the many movies and television shows that deal with occult topics. You’d be surprised by how many television series devote at least some time to the world of the occult, especially around the season of Halloween. Of course, the movies theaters are filled with occult related themes – it seems that script writers, producers and directors are obsessed with the occult, based on the number of movies that come out on the various dark spiritual topics. And on and on we could go through our modern, contemporary world. It’s truly amazing how often our daily lives are touched by the world of the occult. Of course, someone might object and say, “Yes, I admit that occult themes are commonplace in the modern world, but it’s mostly the harmless kind, not the serious spiritual type.” That’s true, most of the occult encounters we have during our daily lives aren’t the heavy duty, serious type, but even the small, seemingly insignificant brushes with the world of the occult have influence on us, on all of us, on all of society. So today, as I continue in the series on the occult during the month of October, I’d like to simply review some of the top three ways the dark world of the occult influences us today, in order that we might be aware and beware. If we know how we are being influenced, then we don’t have to fall prey to the damaging spiritual effects. It’s when we aren’t aware of the dangers of the occult that we run the risk of getting injured. If we can stay aware of common occult influences around us, then we can resist them, and help others resist them as well. So with that, let’s review the top three ways the occult influences today. (more…)

Is The World of The Occult Real?

October 31, 2012

Title: Is The World of the Occult Real?

Text: 2 Samuel 28:3-20

Time: October 25th, 2012

 

I’m continuing in a Halloween series for 2012, and today I’m dealing further with the world of the occult. What do I mean by the occult world? Simply, everything connected with the world of the spirit outside legitimate Christian activity.  But to be more specific, things like ouija boards, tarot cards, fortune telling, séances, mind reading, ESP, levitation, astrology, black and white magic, witches, spirit mediums, table tipping, Satanism, crystal balls, haunted houses, poltergeists, parapsychology, spiritism, psychic surgery, water witching (dousing), demon possession, vampirism, trans-channeling, automatic writing – to name just a few topics. There are, of course, more themes I could mention in respect to occultism, but these few give you the idea. If we look through the short list I’ve outlined, I’m sure we’re all familiar with one or two of them, either we’ve heard or read about something, or we’ve personally experienced it before. The world of the occult is pretty big, because it covers so many things and so much territory.  I could mention Voodooism, the religion of Haiti, because of the occultism found in it, particularly spirit possession, evil curses, and zombies. Now what characterizes all occult activity is an attempt to communicate or gain power from the world of the spirit outside of the Bible or outside of legitimate Christian channels. For example, God speaks through his Word, the Bible, to reveal his will to Christians. He also speaks through the Holy Spirit, through the Christian church, and other legitimate biblical means. But occultism attempts to by-pass the Bible and Christianity in order to deal directly with the world of the spirit. The truth is, there is a spirit world, and spirits inhabit it – but not everything spiritual is good and right. From the Bible, we know that God and righteous angels exist in the spirit world, but they aren’t the only inhabitants of the world of the spirit. The devil and demons are also spirits who exist in this non-material world. Of course, departed souls of the dead live in the spiritual world, either in heaven or hell. So we see there are a number of living entities that exist in the world of the spirit. Now occult practices attempt to deal with the spirit world directly without going through means and methods approved by God in the Bible. But this is dangerous because there is no telling who or what one is dealing with in the world of the occult. Unfortunately, if someone isn’t communicating with God in prayer or the Holy Spirit, it’s probably the devil or demons with whom one is dealing. The bottom line is, the occult puts people in touch with the devil, either intentionally or unintentionally. That’s why as Christians we must warn people about the dangers of the occult, and also, keep ourselves as far away from it as possible. Let me explain further from a famous passage in the Old Testament dealing with the occult – 1 Samuel 28, Saul and the witch of Endor. (more…)

Is Halloween a Healthy Holiday?

October 31, 2012

Title: Is Halloween a Healthy Holiday?

Text: Philippians 4:8, Acts 19:18-20, 1 Timothy 4:1

Time: October 24th, 2012

 

I just read in Time magazine that spending for this year’s Halloween season is up one billion dollars over last year, from $7 billion in 2011 to $8 billion in 2012. I noticed over the last few years how Halloween has grown in popularity, from just my own observations. For example, I see more houses being decorated with scary decorations such as tombstones, skeletons, skulls, witches and ghosts, to name just a few. I’ve also seen stores selling more Halloween paraphernalia in recent years, although, strangely enough, I haven’t noticed any more kids going door-to-door lately; they may well be going door-to-door as much, it’s just I haven’t noticed it on the increase, like I’ve noticed the commercial aspects of Halloween increasing. Is the growth in Halloween the sole creation of big business trying to cash in on anything that has the potential for making them money? No doubt there is the profit motive for driving some of the popularity of Halloween, but I get the feeling there’s something more going on. It’s no news that traditional, historic Christianity is declining in our country, as well as all Western nations, particularly in Europe. That’s not to say that churches are not growing and that there isn’t activity in some quarters of Christianity still today; there is enthusiasm in some spots. But the general trend is a decline in conviction and commitment to historic Christian doctrine and morality all around. While at the same time there is an increase in the world of the occult, that is, in the world of spirituality outside the bounds of traditional religion, particularly Christianity. People are turning away, generally speaking, from historic Christianity, and turning towards other forms of spirituality, including the world of the occult. Halloween is exciting for many people today because it allows them to dabble in the occult without being labeled fanatical about it. To be interested and pursue knowledge of ghosts and witchcraft, for example, might quickly label one kooky, but to play around with these things at Halloween is perfectly acceptable in today’s society. One can even dress up like a witch today at Halloween and not raise any eyebrows, whereas as other times of the year it might make one appear fanatical or weird. So Halloween gives a population of people who are turning away from Christianity more or less an excuse to try out aspects of a different form of spirituality, namely, the occult. This, from a Christian perspective, is not a good thing; in fact, it’s pretty alarming. Chesterton was right when he said, “When people stop believing in God, they don’t stop believing in anything – they are likely to believe in just about everything.” That’s true. As a Christian pastor, I’m aware that Halloween, for some, can be just a little harmless fun. But I’m also aware that for others, for a growing number in our society, Halloween is not a healthy holiday at all. In fact, it’s becoming a very unhealthy holiday. Let me explain. (more…)

The Devil and Demons — Do We Have To Worry About Them?

October 31, 2012

Title: The Devil and Demons – Do We Have To Worry About Them?

Text: Matthew 16:21-23, 1 Peter 5:8, Luke 22:1-6

Time: October 22nd, 2012

 

We’re into October, which is traditionally the month of Halloween, a time when the occult world supposedly is energized and occultists come out of the shadows and celebrate October 31st openly. It used to be that kids would dress up in funny costumes and go trick or treating door-to-door in harmless fun. But I’ve seen the whole Halloween season grow proportionally over the last twenty or thirty years. Now, adults get into the season and dress up in costumes. Now all kinds of movies and television shows present scary and occultic scenes. It seems that Halloween is growing in popularity, not diminishing, and with it there is a growing fascination with the world of the occult – ghosts, spirit mediums, ouija boards, fortune telling, black magic, witchcraft, ESP, séances, Satanism and so forth. These are all different aspects of the occult. The word “occult” simply means “hidden or secret.” But in the phrase, “the world of the occult,” we mean all forms of secret or hidden power or knowledge that is obtained outside the approved Christian channels of prayer, Bible or church. In other words, Jews and Christians have been warned in the Old and New Testaments that it is forbidden to seek after or receive secret or hidden knowledge or power outside of the realm of God. There is a spirit or spiritual world. God dwells in the world of the spirit, but that doesn’t mean everything in the spiritual world is under the direct control of God. Satan or Lucifer, or as he’s most often called, the Devil, also inhabits the spirit world, in opposition to God. Satan and his demons, or fallen angels, war against God and God’s righteous angels, in the spiritual world. Unfortunately, earth is also battleground for good versus evil, and so men and women are caught up in the battle also. The devil and demons are trying to recruit men and women on their side against God, while God and angels are attempting to win over humans for the Kingdom of God. The Bible in both Old and New Testaments describes this warfare. Now the world of the occult is all power and knowledge in the spirit world outside of will of God. In other words, it’s source is the kingdom of the devil, not the kingdom of God. Many people are confused on this point because it’s a common false assumption that anything paranormal or supernatural is automatically from God. Well, it’s not. There is plenty of paranormal or supernatural activity that comes from the devil or demons. All occult activity is probably from either the devil himself or from demonic spirits. That’s why we must beware of the occult. I’ve given a message on the dangers of the occult world previously, but today I’d like to warn us once again to beware of the devil and demons. They are real, and they really can oppose us in life. Here are a few ways the devil and demons can oppose us, and how we can beware and be ready. (more…)

Is There Anything Wrong With Playing Ouija Board?

October 31, 2012

Title: Is There Anything Wrong With Playing Ouija Board?

Text: Deuteronomy 18:9-12, 1 Samuel 28:7-8, Philippians 4:19

Time: October 19th, 2012

 

I remember sitting in high school homeroom class one day and seeing a girl playing with a Ouija Board. She invited a few other students to join her in asking the board its name. I thought that was pretty strange, but continued to watch her and these other students work the plastic stylus and spell out different words and names. Was this a joke? Or were they for real, seriously? Fast forward a few years later, after high school. I was watching the horror movie The Exorcist and the main character, a little twelve year-old girl, was playing with a Ouija Board and as a result becomes possessed by the devil. The movie describes all the evil she went through in order to get free from the demonic possession. The movie was based on a true story. So when we come to the topic of the Ouija Board, we are dealing with something more than just a parlor game or board game, like, Monopoly, or some other form of entertainment. We are dealing with an occult object, a tool known about for hundreds of years as an instrument of divination, used by spirit mediums to talk to so-called departed spirits. It may be sold as a board game along games like Battleship, but it is anything but a harmless pastime. Have I ever worked a Ouija Board? Regretfully, I must admit that I have, before I became aware of how dangerous it is, before I became knowledgeable about its past use and history. Thirty or forty years ago, the last time I used a Ouija Board, I thought it was just an interesting thing, something that presented a curious topic of conversation. While in high school, I even did a report on activity related to the Ouija Board for psychology class, complete with pictures of a live session and explanations of what happened. Mysteriously, after receiving an “A” for the report, I couldn’t find the paper or the pictures. Somehow, accidentally or deliberately, the class project came up missing. To this day, all these years later, I still don’t know what happened to that report on occult activity related to the Ouija Board. Now the word “occult” means hidden or secret knowledge. The world of the occult is about obtaining secret or hidden knowledge through spiritual means outside of approved Christian or biblical channels. Or in other words, God has given us revelation through the Bible, through His Spirit, through prayer, through the church, and so forth. But the occult goes outside of God’s revelation and seeks to obtain secret knowledge directly through other spiritual means, such as séances, Ouija Boards, ghosts, medium trances, and other such ways. Not content to confine oneself with God’s revelation, many people today seek direct spiritual access to knowledge outside of God through different means. This is occult activity. And it’s popular today. Television and movies glorify mediums and other occult practitioners. But we shouldn’t think occultism is any less dangerous because it’s popular. It’s even more dangerous, especially with so many gullible people participating. Let me explain why we should never play around with the world of the occult, particularly the Ouija Board. (more…)

Who Wants To Live Forever?

October 30, 2012

Title: Who Wants To Live Forever?

Text: John 3:16, 5:24, 28; Ecclesiastes 3:21,

Time: October 15th, 2012

 

One of the most curious and odd developments in our modern age is the seemingly loss of interest and appeal in the promise of immortality. What I mean is, today, it would seem that living forever or obtaining eternal life isn’t such a prize after all – or so it seems by our contemporary casual attitude towards it. Now it has always been the case that most all of traditional religion in the past has held out the hope and promise of eternal life; and this hope and promise attracted people to it because of the great benefit that it held. Living forever is a good thing, right? Eternal life is a blessing, true? Well, that’s what people in the past always thought; that’s what traditional religions have always operated on. But this isn’t the case today – or it isn’t obviously true today. In our secular, modern era we find that people are more concerned about obtaining a good life in the here and now, and they leave the whole question of life after death in the category of “theoretical” or “speculative” at best. The truth is, most people today seem to be skeptical or even cynical of any claims of knowledge about life after death; and they are even more mistrustful of promises of securing eternal blessings in the next life. So as a result of this skepticism, they tend to ignore the whole topic as unknowable; besides, it’s possible today with our modern, secular and prosperous world, to keep ourselves busy securing money and material goods enough to occupy ourselves and not think about such other worldly things at all. So then the question we must ask our contemporary secular society is, “Who wants to live forever?” I get this question from the musical theme of the 80s movie, “The Highlander,” about a group of “immortals” who fight it out to the death until there’s only one left. Or as the movie puts it, “In the end, there can only be one,” in speaking of these so-called immortals. The movie describes a small number of members of the human race who find themselves incapable of dying, and so they live on and on, generation after generation, while the rest of humanity lives and dies normally. The main theme for the movie is the song, “Who Wants to Live Forever,” performed by the rock group Queen. And I bring up this movie and the theme song in order to raise the question again in our day and age, “Who really wants to live forever?” Or in other words, is there benefit in eternal life? Is life everlasting a blessing? Or is it a burden, as many today seem to see it? Or is it simply something impossible to determine, so we should ignore the question altogether and get on with living our lives in the here and now? I’d like to examine some of these questions today in light of what the Bible says. (more…)

UFOs — What Are They?

October 18, 2012

Title: UFOs – What Are They?

Text: Exodus 7:19, 22, Ezekiel 1:4, 15-16, Job 1:6-7

Time: October 17th, 2012

 

I’ve talked about the popularity in our culture of UFOs and aliens in past messages. I’ve talked about how it’s not just Hollywood that’s obsessed with the paranormal, but also now the scientific community is jumping on board the bandwagon as well. It’s not just movies such as Close Encounters of the Third Kind or E.T., but it’s now television documentary series on The History Channel. We’ve seen television specials on The Discovery Channel, National Geographic and PBS. There have been either mini-series or made-for-television dramas all dealing with UFOs or alien extra-terrestrials. The major bookstores have entire sections dealing with the subject. The Internet is full of websites devoted to these things as well. Why are people so fascinated with UFOs? Why are aliens and extra-terrestrials so popular in our culture? Isn’t it because of our culture’s loss of real faith in the real God, so it must find some other substitute faith – something more in keeping with our secular, scientific age, yet with enough mystery and awe to satisfy the soul? There is no question that citizens of traditional Christian societies, like Europe and America, are more or less moving away from historic, traditional Christianity. Some people become thoroughly secular, or non-religious, as they say. But most wouldn’t discard spiritual faith entirely, although they are open to changing it to fit their modern understanding of life. For many of these people, belief in some form of extra-terrestrial or alien existence meets their needs. Otherwise rational people seem willing to disbelieve in the existence of angels or demons, as historic Christianity teaches; yet they are perfectly willing to buy into the “little green men” belief. Otherwise level-headed individuals apparently aren’t willing to believe in an all-mighty God, yet they are able to believe in a race of superior aliens who exist somewhere “out there,” who may have visited our planet, or are visiting it, or may visit it sometime in the future. How can otherwise rational persons believe such things? They say there’s evidence. They say there’s proof. They point to the many UFO sightings and reports. They say something is going on. And we must agree with them, at least on the last point, that indeed, something is going on. But what is it that’s going on? How can we account for all these reports of UFO sightings? What causes ordinary people to claim to see and encounter UFOs? Are these all hoaxes? Or are these simply cases of misunderstandings that have perfectly natural explanations? How can we explain the modern phenomenon of UFOs? As Christians we must try to come to some understanding of these happenings. Let me say three things about UFO sightings by reviewing three possibilities. (more…)

If “Chariots of the Gods” is True, We’re in Big Trouble!

October 13, 2012

Title: If “Chariots of the Gods” is True, We’re in Big Trouble!
Text: Psalm 90:2, Hebrews 9:27, Romans 12:2
Time: October 6th, 2012

I’ve already talked a lot about the current UFO craze and the recent flurry of special documentaries on TV concerning extra-terrestrials. Almost all the major networks have run at least one special on UFOs recently; and a few have even presented more than one; and one network, the History Channel, is running a series on them. Of all the people whose name surfaces in relation to extra-terrestrials, one man’s comes up again and again – Eric Von Daniken. He’s the widely popular author of the best-selling book, Chariots of the Gods. His basic premise is that extra-terrestrials visited the earth in ancient times and influenced human culture. According to him the origins of the world’s major religions can be traced back to – you guessed it – extra-terrestrials. Now Von Daniken’s book came out about forty years ago and has sold an estimated sixty million copies worldwide. So he and his ideas have been around for quite a while. But a new generation of UFOlogists, as they are called, is promoting his same ideas now. These are the concepts explained in the History Channel’s series Ancient Aliens. Through the use of clever editing, stunning videography, special effects and expert interviews, the basic ideas of Von Daniken’s Chariots of the Gods are presented to a younger generation of viewers. The people interviewed and who comment throughout the documentary series are, what we might call, UFO evangelists. Meaning, they are not only convinced that our planet has been visited by aliens, they want everyone else to believe it too! They’re enthused, inspired and motivated to share the “good news” of extra-terrestrial visitation and intervention to citizens of the planet earth. But if we stop and think about what they are actually promoting, we quickly realize that there really isn’t anything good about the so-called news they are presenting. They are essentially trying to say that what, for example, Christianity teaches about belief in God is all wrong; God or gods are really extra-terrestrials or aliens. Supernatural miracles, as recorded in the Bible, for instance, aren’t really powerful acts of God; they are really advanced alien technology that we human interpret as spiritual. And so forth. In other words, the project is really an attempt to debunk Christianity and the Bible in order to preach the “gospel” of extra-terrestrials. But there’s nothing good about the so-called “good news” of ancient aliens. I’d like to explain why it’s not good news, but instead, it would be bad news. Because it would return us to square one in our search for the answers to the really big questions of life and existence. On the surface, an extra-terrestrial explanation might seem like an advancement in understanding who we are, where we came from and where we are going – but upon closer examination, it actually sets us back in answering these and other big questions. Let me explain. (more…)

What The Lunatic Fringe Got Right!

October 13, 2012

Title: What the Lunatic Fringe Got Right!
Text: Jeremiah 33:3, Colossians 1:16, John 1:14
Time: October 4th, 2012

Somebody once said that it’s hard, if not impossible, to be completely wrong about something. In other words, by sheer chance, even the farthest out, strangest, most lunatic fringe people do on occasion get some things right. Why am I talking about this? Where am I going in today’s message? Let me explain. For the last few years I’ve found it interesting to watch some of the documentaries shown on the History Channel, especially a series that’s been going for about three years called, “Ancient Aliens.” The basic premise of the documentary series is based on author Eric Von Daniken’s book “Chariots of the Gods,” where he basically argues that earth has been visited by extra-terrestrial aliens in the past who have shaped our religion and culture. The documentary series, now coming up on it’s fifth season, gathers together so-called experts in the field of UFO research and presents what they call evidence for alien intervention on earth. It’s pretty interesting because they try to explain some of the most mysterious questions that mainstream science can’t answer. For example, how were giant megalithic structures built by primitive civilizations using only Stone Age tools? How was the great pyramid in Egypt built? How was Stonehenge in England constructed? These and other ancient projects seemingly require advanced engineering and equipment not available to early man. The “Ancient Aliens” series tries to show that extra-terrestrials had a hand in building them. What about all the present day UFO sightings? How can these be explained? Mainstream science says that all apparent UFOs are naturally occurring phenomena, such as weather balloons or so-called “heat inversion,” for example. But the “Ancient Aliens” series tries to demonstrate that these are authentic visitations by extra-terrestrials. Even though I’m unconvinced that aliens have, are, or will visit planet earth, even though I’m unconvinced that there even are extra-terrestrials around anywhere, I’m still interested in seeing what the different arguments are for and against aliens. Now even though most of the so-called evidences and arguments for extra-terrestrials are so far out and so outlandish that it’s almost laughable, I find it interesting that on occasion, sometimes, these presenters actually get a few things right as far as the truth. As a Christian, I take as my starting place for truth the Bible, and I find it interesting that sometimes even these far out lunatic fringe presenters actually get it right. For example, in just three areas, they appear to get things right. First, they are correct that mainstream science doesn’t always have all the answers, that there is still a lot of mystery in the world that science cannot explain. Second, they get it right that evolution couldn’t have happened the way Charles Darwin described it as an all-natural process without any outside intervention. Third, they happen to speak the truth also when they argue for some outside intervention on planet earth, that human history cannot be explained entirely by looking to man himself, that something has influenced earth from outside earth. Let me explain what I mean. (more…)

Blurring The Line Between Science and Science Fiction

October 13, 2012

Title: Blurring the Line Between Science and Science Fiction
Text: Genesis 1:1, 26-27; Hebrews 11:3
Time: October 3rd, 2012

As some of you may know I’m somewhat of a documentary lover, meaning, I love to watch interesting documentary specials on various topics, such as science, religion and culture. That’s why I like watching documentaries on TV found on the Discovery Channel, History Channel, National Geographic, PBS and others, although these programs are usually heavily biased in the secular, non-Christian direction. Still, I enjoy watching them, if not only to compare with the truth of Christianity, and see where they agree and disagree with God’s Word. I’ve been noticing over the last few years how the line between science and science fiction has been blurring, to the point now where I’m often shocked how supposedly scientific documentaries are now full of science fiction speculation rather than hard facts. For example, I’ve mentioned before how the History Channel has been airing a series on “Ancient Aliens,” with the premise that aliens from outer space have visited our planet in the past and have influenced our history and culture on earth for thousands of years. I’ve never seen such an odd mixture of science and science fiction before given such a high profile treatment by a supposedly credible television network. But it’s not just the History Channel that is lowering its scientific standards in order to attract viewers; it’s the Discovery Channel, National Geographic, and PBS also. They have all run so-called scientific documentary specials on the possibility of alien life in the cosmos, and surprisingly, they’ve been very sympathetic to the idea – a bit too sympathetic, from a scientific standpoint. For example, on the History Channel’s documentary series on space entitled, “The Universe,” scientists discuss the possibility of life outside of planet earth, not as possible, but as probable. The same with other documentary series such as “Through the Wormhole,” “Curiosity,” and “Stephen Hawking’s Universe.” In fact, nearly all the most popular space documentary series found on television today express a positive or very sympathetic view towards the possibility of intelligent life beyond earth. Now why is that? Looking back just a few years ago, it was pretty much the scientific consensus that there was no credible evidence that life existed outside planet earth. Why the shift today? Is it just because today’s scientists were raised on Star Wars and Star Trek and have hyper-intensified imaginations? And what does all this have to do with our daily lives anyway? Why spend any time talking about it? Because we are all citizens of our modern, secular society. We all read the newspapers, watch television and surf the Internet. Ideas circulate and influence our thinking. The idea that life outside planet earth exists and that aliens have, are, or will visit earth is gaining credibility in popular thinking. Should we buy into this popular notion? Or should we be skeptical of it? We will have to decide, and how we think about this topic will influence how we see life and view our purpose in life. So let me point out a few important things to consider. (more…)