Archive for June, 2015

A Sinful Heart is No Surprise

June 5, 2015

Title: A Sinful Heart is No Surprise
Text: Jeremiah 17:9, Romans 3:10, 23, Numbers 32:23
Time: June 3rd, 2015

Last week I read that former House Speaker Dennis Hastert was charged with violating banking regulations in connection with his attempted cover-up of a sex scandal of thirty years ago. Now what’s sad about the whole situation is that Hastert has lived his entire public life as an honorable man, in fact, that’s why he was chosen as Speaker of the House by his colleagues, because the previous Speaker was involved in scandal and Republicans needed someone with an impeccable record. Hastert went on to be the longest serving House Speaker and then later sponsored a new center for economics and politics at my old alma mater Wheaton College. I’ve not seen the Hastert Center there but I’ve heard it’s impressive. So from the Wheaton connection and because I’ve heard Chuck Colson talk about him, I assume that he’s an evangelical Christian who cares about preserving biblical values and perspectives. But now he’s involved in this federal investigation with charges against him that might possibly lead to fines and/or jail time. Now first of all we need to make the fair presumption of innocence until proven guilty. So maybe, after all is said and done, he’ll be found innocent of all charges, including the sexual misconduct charges. According to the indictment Hastert was withdrawing money from his bank account in large amounts in a way to avoid federal law, and the reason he was doing so was in order to pay off someone in Illinois for some alleged misconduct offense. In other words, he was paying “hush money” to someone to keep them from telling the newspapers what they knew about Hastert from thirty years ago when he was a wrestling coach and teacher at a high school. The facts aren’t all known, so it might be someone wants to spread rumors falsely and Hastert agreed to pay them to not do so. More likely though is that Hastert is paying them to keep quiet about something real that happened thirty years ago, otherwise, why pay the money? Why not report it to the police as extortion? Unless, maybe, it involves something more sinister or dangerous like a murder threat or some potential hostage or kidnapping situation or a scandal involving a family member other than Dennis Hastert himself that he wants to keep quiet. We just don’t know. But when I heard the news and how people reacted to it I thought immediately of a couple of biblical passages that talk about the sinful human heart. Why are we shocked when sinners sin? Do we really think there are any real saints, in the strict sense of the word “saint?” Apart from Christ, we are sinners at heart. So this morning I wanted to spend some time talking about the human condition and the sinfulness of the human heart. We should be sad, but not shocked when we hear that sinners, all of us, have sinned. It only confirms the very reason Christ came and died on the cross – to save sinners like you and me. Let’s examine a few Bible passages that explain this. (more…)

Beware of the New Occultism: Charlie, Charlie Challenge

June 5, 2015

Title: Beware of the New Occultism: Charlie, Charlie Challenge
Text: 1 Samuel 28, Philippians 4:8-9, James
Time: June 2nd, 2015

During the past week I learned of an Internet craze sweeping the nation that teaches young people to try speaking to a supposed spirit of the dead in order to ask it questions and get answers. It’s called “The Charlie, Charlie Challenge” and it consists of taking two regular, ordinary pencils and stacking one upon the other in the form of a cross over a piece of paper with the words “Yes, No, Yes, No” written on it. Then the young people ask the so-called spirit a question and wait for the top pencil to rotate and point to either Yes or No. When I first heard about this I immediately, I mean immediately, recognized it as an instrument of the occult world. No question. It’s nothing but a modern day Ojai board stripped of all the additional add-on extras. But an even closer parallel is the old folk practice of using a whiskbroom straw piece for picking a watermelon at the fruit market. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen this, but in older days some people would pluck a straw strand from a whiskbroom and place it on top of a watermelon. If it moved, then it was thought the mellow was a good one. Now I never understood the principle behind the practice but I’ve seen it done a few times in my lifetime, although I’ve never done it myself. Now why are these examples of the occult? Because they purportedly work by means of an unknown power. It’s the same with the so-called water-witching practitioners who use a stick that’s supposed to lead them to water in order to show you where to dig a well. There are people who make a living finding a suitable place to dig a well using the water witch – they’re that good at it. So far, there is no known scientific reason why some kind of a stick should be able to point out a source of water. So then what force or power is behind it? It sounds like occultism to me, having researched the matter for a number of years now. What is occultism? It’s contacting or tapping into a secret, hidden spiritual reality that doesn’t originate from God through prayer or divine miracles, but instead comes from fallen spirits or otherwise known as demons. The Internet craze called “Charlie, Charlie Challenge” fits into the same pattern. It’s so blatantly and obviously occultic. For example, the Charlie Challenge plan says to speak to the so-called spirit – who by the way, as the story goes, is the departed soul of a little Mexican boy named Charlie, and ask questions. That’s clearly of the occult – asking questions of a “spirit.” But let me explain in a little more detail why playing the “Charlie Challenge” is a bad idea and what possibly could be going on with it by examining an Old Testament Bible passage, 1 Samuel 28. (more…)