Friday, November 28, 2008

A Deadly Black Friday

This is sad. We are seeing more and more of this as a nation —people fighting each other on Black Friday; and now a man has died—trampled upon in a Walmart. *Over what? Junk. Stuff that will not amount to a hill of beans in Heaven or Hell. Most people ignored this man as he laid dying in Walmart; so intent to get something on sale, that people getting hurt did not matter. And I firmly believe as Americans lose sight of what the Christmas season is truly about—our Lord Jesus, our Savior---the more uglier it’s going to get. The Christmas season has become increasingly commercial, and I find even some of the decorations reflect the shallow mentality behind retail and consumerism. Today, this man went to his job, probably thinking it was going to be a fast-paced day for sure-—but will not be coming back to his family and friends again. The story below:

*November 29...Reports concerning a eight months pregnant woman losing a baby during the stampede has been changing. The woman was hospitalized after the incident.

*Update: Killings at Toys R Us are being deemed to be gang related... links below the following news story.

Worker dies at Long Island Wal-Mart after being trampled in Black Friday stampede

A worker died after being trampled and a woman miscarried when hundreds of shoppers smashed through the doors of a Long Island Wal-Mart Friday morning, witnesses said.

The unidentified worker, employed as an overnight stock clerk, tried to hold back the unruly crowds just after the Valley Stream store opened at 5 a.m.

Witnesses said the surging throngs of shoppers knocked the man down. He fell and was stepped on. As he gasped for air, shoppers ran over and around him.

"He was bum-rushed by 200 people," said Jimmy Overby, 43, a co-worker. "They took the doors off the hinges. He was trampled and killed in front of me. They took me down too...I literally had to fight people off my back."

Nassau County Police are still investigating and would not confirm the witness accounts. The Medical Examiner will determine the cause of death. Police did say there were several injuries but weren't more specific.

Jessica Keyes was among the shoppers. She told the Daily News she saw a woman knocked down just a few feet from the dying worker.

"When the paramedics came, she said 'I'm pregnant,'" Keyes said.

Paramedics treated the woman inside the store and then, according to Keys, told the woman:

"There's nothing we can do. The baby is gone."

Before police shut down the store, eager shoppers streamed past emergency crews as they worked furiously to save the store clerk's life.

"They were working on him, but you could see he was dead, said Halcyon Alexander, 29. "People were still coming through."

Only a few stopped.

"They're savages," said shopper Kimberly Cribbs, 27. "It's sad. It's terrible


UPDATE: Two people killed at Toys R Us. Click here to read news story. *New information--click here

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

I just want to wish those in the United States a Happy Thanksgiving holiday! Enjoy yourselves today! Most of you probably have the day off for time to visit with your family and friends. And to those celebrating this holiday alone, I have provided a "virtual feast" for you below; with all the fixings.

Sorry. Only one turkey leg at a time, please…As you can see this is rather informal, so why bother to plate up the corn…
Bon appétit!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Walking It and Not Just Talking It

James 1:27
Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.

My sister may be walking to her home from work this winter in inclement weather. But, should this be?

I have had my fill of fake Christianity, acting “Christian” on the outside—but filled with synthetic filler on the inside. Don’t tell me “You love ‘me’ with the love of the Lord” while you watch ‘me’ drown as ‘I’ extend ‘my’ hand out to you for help. Don’t try to impress ‘me’ with how ‘you’ can quote scripture, and who invited you to speak at their church when in ‘my’ darkest trials ‘I’ become a contagion to you. Don’t try to sale your wares to ‘me’ because you are a card carrying apostle more twisted than a pretzel as you pimp your manufactured anointings. You teach Sunday school to the people and last year you got a free toaster for your efforts. The toaster signifies how you done your part so you have met your “Christian quota”. Relax… ‘you’ look and smell good…and no one notices that flies are carefully considering ‘you’.

How many people look down upon the poor while helping them? Will they get five stars for good behavior as opposed to four? Will they get an extra room in their heavenly mansion for helping Mr. Nomad on the street while they secretly call him a bum before they even know his name or his story? Will they have to move because a black or Hispanic family bought a house next door to them? Will they pray "Lord help us find a house so…well You know...its time to move..."

James 1:22-24
22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.
23 For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass:
24 For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.

My sister lives in a fair size city (around 600,000 population) —but it lacks adequate bus transportation—it is way behind the times for a metropolitan area. She also lives 4 MINUTES by car from her work place, but 30 MINUTES by foot. Her neighborhood is a working class neighborhood, but not far from her house is an area infested with high crime. She has to walk strategically, not to mention a creek further prevents any shortcuts. She works for a “Christian company”, filled with “Christian workers”. She has no car, so at times these “Christian people” pick her up and bring her home. Her eyesight is not so good and this has been a real problem for her in driving. And she always recompenses their cost in gas above their actual expenditure.

However, at times no one sees to it she has a ride home—to her house FOUR MINUTES AWAY by car from the office. Nor do they inform her if someone decides not to bring her home--they leave without telling her, so she sits at her desk unsure and waiting for them. They are inconvenienced. After all, what would such lost time bring? Besides, if they pick her up, who will see or notice? Are there any cameras rolling? Will there be accolades for good behavior or their name listed in the church bulletin? Will there be time to create croûtons for dinner if they bring her home or what about losing a few minutes watching ESPN? Are these not more important than her making it home safely? Besides, she had two major operations and spent a month gravely ill in the hospital this past year, do she not need exercise? Maybe it's more than a question of who's responsibility is it.

We want a convenient Christianity. Yet sometimes it’s in the small and not so glamorous things. When no one sees but God. And there is no expectation of reward for it’s done from the heart. (I am not saying works justifies us, only Jesus can do that).

Maybe “missions” is not just in a far away country. Could it be something as simple as helping a neighbor out with a few things? Bringing someone to get groceries who has no car? Telling someone you cannot help them specifically with something, but that you do indeed care about their plight. Investing a few minutes a day to help a co-worker to and from work. As the Church we are not confined to a building of religious services and organized events. We should also be doing His will in one on one encounters, and not just putting on appearances in front of others. Yet thank our Lord Jesus Christ for those who do “walk their talk” and demonstrate true compassion.

1 John 3:16-17
16 Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.
17 But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?

Monday, November 24, 2008

NYC Enforce Shelter Rules On Churches

I do not understand the reasoning behind this at all. Certainly even a few days a week to provide shelter at these area churches is better than no days at all. And if the city officials are proclaiming they can readily meet the capacity to shelter NYC's homeless; why then force five days of shelter operation upon any church? All the more reason to not enforce such a requirement from where I am standing. I may be missing something here, but I sure cannot see it reading the story below.


NYC Churches Ordered Not To Shelter Homeless

NEW YORK (CBS) ― City officials have ordered 22 New York churches to stop providing beds to homeless people.

With temperatures well below freezing early Saturday, the churches must obey a city rule requiring faith-based shelters to be open at least five days a week -- or not at all.

Arnold Cohen, president of the Partnership for the Homeless, a nonprofit that serves as a link with the city, said he had to tell the churches they no longer qualify.

He said hundreds of people now won't have a place to sleep.

The Department of Homeless Services said the city offers other shelters with the capacity to accept all those who have been sleeping in the churches. The city had 8,000 beds waiting.

Last year, four unsheltered homeless people died in the city during cold weather, so three dozen emergency outreach teams were prepped to respond to reports of homeless people outdoors or in the subways.

"We really don't want people sleeping on the streets, on grates, on church steps. We want people sleeping in beds," said Homeless Commissioner Robert Hess.

The homeless can be coaxed indoors but not forced unless their life is in danger.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Lee Grady On Charismatic Mishaps

Interesting article from Lee Grady of Charisma. Although I differ with him on several things and particularly his ties to the NAR, he wrote well on this article. Hopefully, he will eventually take a hard look at NAR theology. The article below:


Preparing for a Charismatic Meltdown
by J.Lee Grady

Three prominent charismatic ministries have suffered huge setbacks this month. What does this mean for our movement?

Foreclosure. Eviction. Bailouts. We’re hearing those terms a lot these days, and not just in the newspaper’s business section. In the last two weeks three charismatic churches that once enjoyed huge popularity have fallen on hard times.

In Tampa, Florida, Without Walls International Church is facing foreclosure. The megachurch, which once attracted 23,000 worshipers and was heralded as one of the nation’s fastest-growing congregations, shrunk drastically after co-pastors Randy and Paula White announced in 2007 that they were divorcing. On Nov. 4 their bank filed foreclosure proceedings and demanded immediate repayment of a $12 million loan on the property.

In Duluth, Georgia—northeast of Atlanta—sheriff’s deputies arrived at Global Destiny Ministries and ordered Bishop Thomas Weeks II to leave the property. According to documents filed in state court, Weeks—who divorced popular preacher Juanita Bynum in June—owed more than $511,000 in back rent to the building’s owners. He was escorted out of the building on Nov. 14 while a church service was in progress.
"The wrecking ball of heaven is swinging. It has come to demolish any work that has not been built on the integrity of His Word."

In another part of the Atlanta area, leaders of the Cathedral at Chapel Hill announced that their church is officially for sale. The massive Gothic building—which at one time housed one of the nation’s most celebrated charismatic churches, with a membership of 10,000—has slipped into disrepair after lurid sex scandals triggered a mass exodus. The church’s founder, Bishop Earl Paulk, has turned the 6,000-seat church (valued at $24.5 million) over to his son, Donnie Earl, who in recent years has abandoned orthodox Christian doctrines and embraced universalism.

In addition, the bank that called the loan on Without Walls also began foreclosure proceedings on its satellite campus in Lakeland, Florida. That massive campus with its 10,000-seat sanctuary was once known as Carpenter’s Home Church. Under the leadership of Assemblies of God pastor Karl Strader it enjoyed huge success, but its membership dwindled in the 1990s, and it was sold to the Whites in 2005.

A crisis hit Without Walls two years later when the Whites announced from their pulpit that they were divorcing. They did not give specific reasons, but Randy said he took “100 percent responsibility” for the breakup. He later told Charisma: “This was a decision of last resort after years of prayer and counseling.”

In the case of the Cathedral at Chapel Hill, many parishioners walked out 16 years ago when it became known that Earl Paulk and other staff members were involved in wife-swapping. Paulk created a bizarre culture of secrecy to cover the immorality, which included his affair with a sister-in-law—and resulted in the birth of Donnie Earl (who thought he was Earl Paulk’s nephew until last year). The church has only had a few hundred members in recent years.

Today, Donnie Earl has embraced the inclusionist doctrines of Oklahoma pastor Carlton Pearson, who left the faith in 2003 and was labeled a heretic by a group of African-American bishops the following year. The younger Paulk now preaches that all people, not just Christians, are saved. He told Charisma last week that the Cathedral “has expanded to include all of God’s creation—Christian, Jew, Hindu, Buddhist, gay, straight, etc.” And this distorted message is broadcast from a pulpit that hosted the premier leaders of the charismatic movement during the 1970s and 1980s.

Even before Weeks was charged with assaulting Bynum in a hotel parking lot in August 2007, the pastor of Global Destiny Ministries defiled his pulpit during a “Teach Me to Love You” marriage conference. He told married men they should use profanity during sex to heighten their experience, and he brought couples on stage to play a game in which men were asked to name their favorite female body parts.

Lord, help us.

Was it supposed to end like this? How did a movement that was at one time focused on winning people to Christ and introducing them to the power of the Holy Spirit end in such disgrace?

I hear the sound of bricks and steel beams crashing to the ground. The wrecking ball of heaven is swinging. It has come to demolish any work that has not been built on the integrity of God’s Word.

All of us should be trembling. God requires holiness in His house and truth in the mouths of His servants. He is loving and patient with our mistakes and weaknesses, but eventually, if there is no repentance after continual correction, His discipline is severe. He will not be mocked.

Romans 11:22 says: “Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity, but to you, God's kindness, if you continue in His kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off” (NASB).

God is not married to our buildings. If He allowed foreign armies to burn Jerusalem and its glorious temple, He will also write “Ichabod” on the doors of churches where there is no repentance for compromise.

I pray the fear of God will grip our hearts until we cleanse our defiled pulpits. Let’s examine our hearts and our ministries. Let’s throw out the wood, hay and stubble and build on a sure and tested foundation. It is the only way to survive the meltdown.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Spared A Hospital Holiday!

My surgery has been delayed because my symptoms have virtually disappeared--hopefully for good!! I am still believing for healing, because God indeeds heal! This condition has plagued me for some years now, and one time I thought I was healed of it, but it came back and several times at that. I don't believe God does half-baked jobs, when He divinely heals, it's done! Today was the day my doctor intended to perform my surgery, so if I can avoid surgery, I will. My doctor has postponed it with observation. Then two days ago, the night I was taking an MRI a cold germ got hold of me, so I still feel under the weather...but better...Thank you for those out there who prayed for me. Your prayers are so greatly appreciated! I thank the Lord I will not spend this holiday in the hospital, with orange Jello squares and the ever open in the back hospital gown...And I can vouch that hospitals are one of the best places to get sick.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Unwanted Vacation Time

I just wanted to inform you all that due to a fairly rare medical condition and feeling like driftwood; I will not be able to blog for a while. I will need surgery—-but still hope for a miracle. I do believe in divine healing, but I also believe God heals through doctors and medicine as well. I’d rather He heal miraculously for He will do it right, without the negative side effects (or bills for that matter). Unfortunately this condition interferes with nearly every facet of my life, and it makes typing at a keyboard at times impossible. Not to mention getting virtually no sleep. I feel like complaining so I better stop now. I will be “gone” probably two to four weeks. Yuk. I hate hospitals, and doctors make me nauseous. Anyway, I anticipate to be back soon bringing "feigned relief" to the hopelessly bored and “fodder” to the religiously tired... And if not back blogging by Thanksgiving day, to those in the states, I wish you all a great Thanksgiving holiday!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A Veteran's Poetic Prayer

A Veterans Prayer

"Lord when I was a serviceman
I wore my uniform with pride
So I pray for those serving now
And for the families
Of those who've died
I always get a lump in my throat
When I see Old Glory wave
And I always shed a tear
When I stand by a veterans grave
So I come to you tonight
.................................... With bowed head on bended knee
.................................... Praying you'll keep
.................................... Our military safe
.................................... As they fight to keep us free
.................................... AMEN"

Written from the Heart by Joel T. Bailey
U.S. Navy veteran

Al-Qaeda Plotting Destruction

Well, no surprise here, as I firmly believe they will attempt another strike against the United States. According to other news reports; specific areas in the United Kingdom are also targeted. It has also been suggested the terrorists seek to strike at a vulnerable time as during the transition between the U.S. presidents (President George W. Bush and President-elect Barack Obama). As a nation we must never let our guard down. I do believe there are times the terrorists deliberately circulate rumors, but all of these threats have to be taken very seriously. Article directly below:


US Facing Second Wave Of 9/11 Attacks

Al-Qaeda is reportedly planning a terrorist attack against the United States which will "outdo by far" the attacks of September 11 in 2001.

Arab newspaper Al-Quds Al-Arabi in London reports a senior Yemen official close to Al-Qaeda as warning of a new wave of terror attacks against the western nation.

The source, who is not named, is quoted as being "very close to Al-Qaeda"

The newspaper is edited by Abdel al-Bari Atwan, who was the last journalist to edit Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in 1996.

The newspaper report, contained on the front page, suggests bin Laden has ordered a large scale attack against the United States which would "outdo by far" the attacks of September 11.

It comes as reports in Britain say there is clear evidence that thousands of extremists are living inside the United Kingdom.

In a message to loyalists, bin Laden is reported to have asked that his followers ignore all efforts to reconcile with Governments and other political parties - in effect keeping extremists isolated.

The newspaper's source said it was likely a sign of an imminent attack may be sent within the coming weeks.

The September 11 attacks against the United States killed nearly 3,000 people.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Bad Thoughts

Lately, it seems the enemy been assaulting me with thoughts from my past life along with other unfounded thoughts; but mostly related to when I was a non-believer. There was a time when I believed those thoughts were from God and I found myself constantly asking forgiveness for things I had long turned from. Later, I wondered if I was just feeling residual guilt over my past mistakes; and therefore questioned myself as to whether I had truly forgiven myself for past sins. Granted, there are things and events in my life I prefer not to contemplate upon, but I discovered just this year --I really have forgiven myself for sins long committed in my past! Yet Satan will hammer your mind with hundreds of thoughts; and we have to discern from where those thoughts come from. Sometimes such reasonings may only be in our heads, and not in our hearts. I think this surface level clutter can serve as a ruse to interfere with our personal relationship with God.

II Corinthians 10:3-5
3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:
4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds;
5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

Charles Spurgeon went through a time when the enemy dropped blasphemous thoughts upon his mind. He struggled as to why he thought such evil things, but soon came to the realization that these were not his thoughts afterall!

In his autobiography, Spurgeon wrote regarding such thoughts: "and when I was in prayer, or when I was reading the bible, these blasphemous thoughts would pour in upon me more than at any other time. I consulted with an aged godly man about it. He said to me, "Oh, all this many of the people of God have proved before you! But," he asked, "do you hate these thoughts?" "I do" I truly answered. "Then" said he, "they are not yours; serve them as the old parish officers used to do with vagrants, whip them, and send them on to their own parish. So," said he, "do with those evil thoughts. Groan over them, repent of them, and send them on to the devil, the father of them, to whom they belong, for they are not yours".

This also happened to me a few months after accepted Jesus as my Savior—and at first I went ballistic, apologizing to God over and over. I was in turmoil and felt wrecked inside—it germinated a major spiritual crisis in my life. I am talking about vile words against the Lord—-those type of blasphemous thoughts. Fear gripped me and the blasphemous thoughts became more frequent. In other words, at the risk of being redundant, the more I feared them, the more frequent the blasphemous thoughts. I went through a struggle with this off and on for several years. I strongly believe demonic activity came into play here. Yet I played right into the enemy’s hands, getting caught up in repetitiously confessing this sin to the Lord, but the thoughts were not mine! Guilt had consumed me, and I wondered if I hated God, but was not consciously aware of it. I was an atheist for many years, and it is very evident, many atheists hate God—the One they do not believe in. But when I read the above excerpt by Spurgeon, and saw in the Word of God that we can indeed entertain imaginations (II Corinthians 10:5); I begin to discount them, and I have had to do so hundreds, and I mean, literally hundreds of time. I would say to myself when this insidious muck attacked and mean it, “whatever —this devil is not going to get me to buy this trash as my thoughts.” I think the only reason it persisted so long was because I felt so much guilt, despite knowing the origin of the thoughts came from our enemy. Once in a while, such thoughts still come to me, but I realize I do not agree with them,-- that I hate them, and they are not mine. I know longer dwell on them—not even for analysis, and they dissipate.

1 Corinthians 10:13
There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

Bad thoughts--whether blasphemous lies, lustful temptations, hateful… etc.; can be “conquered”; for God can make a way of escape and tell you how to respond to it. We are instructed to cast down every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God. I remember a married friend of mine told me she was attracted to another person--besides her husband. I told her you must take it to God in prayer, repent, and whatever you do, don’t act on your feelings. About a month later, she called me and told me something similar to this , “Remember that problem we talked about?…I took it to God, and let me tell you, when you ask for help from Him for a problem like this, He will put an end to it!” Turns out, the guy receive a job promotion in the company he worked for, and was relocated to another city. This eliminated her problem because it made seeing him nearly impossible, and as her attraction was basically superficial -- she recovered fairly quickly. Pureed, obliterated and eliminated.

The enemy sends lying thoughts for us to accept as our own; so that we may “meditate” upon his evil suggestions. For several years, the blasphemous ruminations terribly effected my relationship with God, because I frequently wondered if my relationship with God was sincere, or was I just going through the motions. Well there has been a time I have gone through just motions, and got caught up in things because I thought I had to do it, or wanted to appear “spiritual”. That’s another story in itself. But these blasphemous thoughts were lies straight from the pit of Hell. If you hate what you are thinking, then think again. You need not succumb to such thoughts, reject them. Don’t claim ownership to something you do not even want—reject it; and should temptation come, prayer is an essential key to victory.

Hebrews 2:18
For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succor them that are tempted.

1 John 1:8-9
8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Barack Obama--The Nation's New President

As most of you know by now; yesterday we elected a new president in the United States. I never thought I would live to see a black person become president in this nation! Barack Obama won both the electoral votes and popular votes needed. We should all celebrate the fact that the color barrier on the presidency has been broken--whether you voted for Obama or McCain. And being some are already calling for his assassination just because of his skin color, we should keep him and his family in our prayers.

This is certainly a historic event to remember! There was a time in this country a black on a stage usually meant he or she was on a blockade up for sale as livestock, or tied to a whipping post. Now a black man will be on a stage as President of the United States; so we have made great strides as a nation in that regard. That's my sociological assessment. My political assessment is different, but despite that, there are some good points to Obama and I will choose to look at those. As a democracy, we have a system of "political checks and balances" in place; and Barack Obama like all presidents before him, will be subjected to this same system.

Concerning the civil rights movement in the sixties, I once read (and I forgot who wrote it, but it was a scholarly article from some academician) "the changing of laws concerning blacks helped changed attitudes". In other words, it was not just whites yielding new perspectives on blacks which promoted greater socio-economic equality in American society--but change facilitated by new laws. The passing of major civil rights legislation and the right for blacks to vote also served in a process of re-examination and a change in attitudes among non-blacks. I believe fear is a HUGE factor in racism and cultural misunderstandings. By just the process of interacting among different people, many came to see that various racial groups are more similar than they are different.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Harry Potter--A Bad Door To Enter

When reflecting upon Halloween and Christian participation; I ran across this article concerning "Harry Potter" which appears several years old; but offers some excellent points. Since the time this particular article was published, J.K. Rowling has written several more books in the Harry Potter series. Public schools routinely promote her books as part of their routine curriculum. Below is a segment of the article, you can click the title for the full article including proper citations and footnotes.

Harry Potter Lures Kids to Witchcraft
with Praise from Christian Leaders

Might Harry Potter seem as real as life to his young fans around the world? Do children accept Harry's lessons in practical witchcraft as an open door to an occult reality? Many Christian leaders have denied any such danger, but author J.K. Rowling admits that this happens. In an interview with Newsweek's Malcolm Jones, she said,
"I get letters from children addressed to Professor Dumbledore [headmaster at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, the books’ setting], and it’s not a joke, begging to be let into Hogwarts, and some of them are really sad. Because they want it to be true so badly they’ve convinced themselves it’s true."

While children everywhere crave supernatural thrills, Great Britain, the birthplace of Harry Potter, has been a wonderland of options for exploring practical witchcraft. And plenty of youth have caught Harry's vision. They want to learn his wizardly ways.

Two British reports on this phenomenon show us the obvious: popular forms of occult entertainment "have fueled a rapidly growing interest in witchcraft among children." Naturally, the island's Pagan Federation is pleased. Though it refuses to admit new members under age 18, "it deals with an average of 100 inquiries a month from youngsters who want to become witches, and claims it has occasionally been 'swamped' with calls."

"It is quite probably linked to things like Harry Potter, Sabrina The Teenage Witch and Buffy The Vampire Slayer," explains the Federation's media officer, Andy Norfolk. "Every time an article on witchcraft or paganism appears, we had a huge surge in calls, mostly from young girls."

This trend worries John Buckeridge, editor of Youthwork, a British Christian magazine. Unlike U.S. church-leaders who back Harry Potter, he spots danger ahead. "The growing number of books and TV shows like Harry Potter and Sabrina the Teenage Witch encourage an interest in magic as harmless fun," he warms. "However for some young people it could fuel a fascination that leads to dangerous dabbling with occult powers. So what starts out as spooks and spells can lead to psychological and spiritual damage."[3]

But Mr. Norfolk disagrees. His reasoning makes witchcraft sound both safe and responsible. "Our youth officer will explain things like the principle ethic of witchcraft," he assures skeptics, "that you should not cause harm to anyone - and that it's not just an easy way to get a new boyfriend!"

A more "noble" religion

It's not surprising that the timeless craving for power and magic has soared with the spread of pagan television shows and Harry Potter books. But today's pagan revival began years earlier.

Almost a decade ago, a Wiccan student wrote a promotional article for The Talon, her high school newspaper, about witchcraft. What happened shows both America's Cultural Shift and the growing preference for paganism. The student, Leah Mowry, based her conclusions on interviews with several other student witches at Los Altos High School in California.[5] In her article, she boasted that her religion
* was more tolerant than traditional beliefs
* taught people to take better care of the environment
* helped people to empower themselves
* and only used "good" magic.

Soon afterwards, a Christian student, also an editor for The Talon, asked if he could write about Young Life, a Christian group active on their campus.

"No," was the response, "because witchcraft is underexposed in our society and Christianity is overexposed." In other words, witches could give public testimonies about the benefits of their religion, but Christians were no longer allowed to express their faith and testimonies.

Christianity simply doesn't fit, and Mr. Norfolk of the Pagan Federation thinks he knows why. The Christian Church has failed to provide "the right degree of spirituality for young people," he explains. In contrast, paganism involves "direct communication with the divine."

From the Biblical perspective, he is tragically wrong. But that matters little to the masses that want spiritual power without Biblical accountability. With help from television, books, movies and other media, Christianity's reputation has been badly smeared. Blamed for hatred, conflict, wars and environmental abuse, it has inspired countless "Christian" leaders to re-imagine their faith and embrace a more "tolerant" view toward the world's fast-growing fascination with pagan practices.

Strange council from Christian leaders

Typical of our times, a recent report in Christianity Today seems to base its approval of Harry Potter, not on the Bible, but on popular consensus among admired Christian leaders.

"As far as I can tell," writes author Ted Olsen, "while no major Christian leader has come out to condemn J.K. Rowling's series, many have given it the thumbs-up. If our readers know of any major Christian leader who has actually told Christians not to read the books, I'd be happy to know about it; but in my research, even those Christians known for criticizing all that is popular culture have been pretty positive about Potter."

To prove his point, Mr. Olsen quotes seven Christian leaders and publications:

1. Chuck Colson, in his Breakpoint (11-2-1999) radio broadcast, commended Harry and his friends for their "courage, loyalty, and a willingness to sacrifice for one another—even at the risk of their lives." Colson dismissed the pagan practices as

"purely mechanical, as opposed to occultic. That is, Harry and his friends cast spells, read crystal balls, and turn themselves into animals—but they don't make contact with a supernatural world…. [It's not] the kind of real-life witchcraft the Bible condemns."

2. World Magazine (5-29-1999) praised Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone as

"a delight—with a surprising bit of depth." Author Roy Maynard assured World readers that "Rowling…keeps it safe, inoffensive, and non-occult. This is the realm of Gandalf and the Wizard of Id, not witchcraft. There is a fairy-tale order to it all in which, as Chesterton and Tolkien pointed out, magic must have rules, and good does not—cannot—mix with bad."

3. World's second article toned down the enthusiasm. "A reader drawn in would find that the real world of witchcraft is not Harry Potter's world. Neither attractive nor harmless, it is powerful and evil." (October 30, 1999)

4. The British Christianity magazine praised the series. In a issue, Mark Greene, Director of the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity, wrote a note of regret for not giving it to his god-daughter earlier:
"I wish I'd been the one to introduce her to Harry—fine lad you know, courageous, resourceful, humble, fun, good mind. Comes from good stock, you know. She could do worse, far worse. And, as far as literary companions go, frankly, not much better."

5. A Christian Century (12-1-99) editorial, "Wizards and Muggles," states,
"Rowling is not the first fantasy writer to be attacked by conservative Christians. Even the explicitly Christian writer Madeleine L'Engle has taken heat for the 'magic' elements in A Wrinkle in Time. Such critics are right in thinking that fantasy writing is powerful and needs to be taken seriously. But we strongly doubt that it fosters an attachment to evil powers. Harry's world, in any case, is a moral one."

6. Focus on the Family gave a mixed review. According to Ted Olsen, the advice offered by Focus's critic, Lindy Beam was simply, "Apart from the benefit of wise adult guidance in reading these books, it is best to leave Harry Potter on the shelf." ["Exploring Harry Potter's World," December, 1999]

7. Wheaton College professor Alan Jacobs concludes that Harry Potter stories promote "a kind of spiritual warfare…. A struggle between good and evil…. There is in books like this the possibility for serious moral reflection…[and] the question of what to do with magic powers is explored in an appropriate and morally serious way." (September/October, Mars Hill Audio Journal)[7]

Is it really? Take a look at the other side of this issue.

Biblical answers to occult seductions.

The mass media's promotion of contrary values have prompted even Christians to replace or distort the pursuit of God with the pursuit of pleasure. So God's standards would hardly win a popularity contest today. Popular versions of Christianity has wisely rejected some of the stiff legalism of the past, but it has also tossed out God's much-needed guidelines and warnings. The result is license to do almost anything that feels good. Christians who refuse to compromise are often demeaned as old-fashioned kill-joys who bring reproof and embarrassment to those who fear offending the world with the whole truth of the gospel. That's why Jesus warned us long ago,

"If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.... Remember the words I spoke to you: ... If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.... for they do not know the One who sent me." John 15:18-21

God gave us His Word that we might know Him. The Bible reveals His heart, will and ways. It alone can show us what is truth or error in those seven public responses to the Harry Potter phenomenon.

1. Chuck Colson praised Harry and his friends for their "courage, loyalty, and a willingness to sacrifice... for one another—even at the risk of their lives." Those qualities can be found in almost any culture. But, according to the Bible, a brave person is no more free to pursue paganism than a coward. Harry's occult skills -- witchcraft, sorcery, casting spells, spiritism, interpreting omens and "calling up the dead" fit into a category God tells us not even to discuss. "For all who do these things are an abomination to the Lord...." Eph. 5:10-12, Deut. 18:9-12

Colson's dismissal of the dangers of delighting in such evils as "purely mechanical," makes no sense from a Biblical perspective. He says that "Harry and his friends cast spells, read crystal balls, and turn themselves into animals—but they don't make contact with a supernatural world…." Where then does their power come from? Natural rather than supernatural forces?

Of course not. Rowling doesn't acknowledge the source, but anyone who has researched witchcraft and talked with contemporary pagans will see the alarming parallels between contemporary occultism and Rowling's seductive message to children. (If you find this hard to believe, please read chapters 4 and 8 of A Twist of Faith)

2. World Magazine (5-29-1999) made the same error. Calling Harry Potter's world "a delight... safe, inoffensive, and non-occult," is misleading assurance. True, "magic must have rules," but the primary rule of the occult is that Satan doesn't offer free and easy favors for long. He may indulge seekers in a free ride for a while, but as soon as his victims have been captivated by his lures -- all of which are counterfeits of what God offers those who follow Him -- he begins to demand his payoff. Suddenly the bright side of evil turns dark indeed. Attempts to resist or turn back usually lead to spiritual terrors and oppression.

As World indicated, "good does not—cannot—mix with bad" but not because "good" motives are always "good," even in a pagan context. God's good is corrupted when adapted to a pagan setting. In fact, God doesn't want what He considers good to be linked to the occult. He sends us out to pagans to share His love, but we cannot delight in what He calls evil. God shows us His reason in a most politically incorrect message:
"What fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?.... For we are the temple of the living God.... 'Therefore come out from them and be separate," says the Lord.'" 2 Cor. 6:14-17

3. World's second article maintained that "the real world of witchcraft is not Harry Potter's world. Neither attractive nor harmless, it is powerful and evil."

Actually, today's pagan movement is attractive to anyone disillusioned by unfriendly churches. It entices seekers by showing the "light" side of occultism. Contemporary witches -- both men and women -- that I have met are sincere, often compassionate, usually well educated and frustrated with today's rampant materialism. Few look evil. Instead, they demonstrate God's warning in 2 Cor. 11:14-15,
"For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness...."

The younger generation of pagans show another side. Many dabble in black magic and the other "dark arts" that are so seductively taught at Hogwart's School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.[9] Apart from the fantasy setting and dramatic demonstrations of magic, there is little difference between Harry's skills and the real world of the occult.

4. Mark Greene's endorsement in the British Christianity raises some serious questions. What does he mean by "Harry -- fine lad you know.... Comes from a good stock...." Is he referring to Harry's parents -- a witch and a wizard? Is he speaking as director of London Institute for Contemporary Christianity, or is this simply his personal opinion?

One thing is certain. This attitude is driving the current transformation of the Church. It's time for serious Christians to "count the cost" and be ready to stand uncompromisingly strong in the Truth God has given us.

5. The Christian Century denies that Harry Potter "fosters an attachment to evil powers." It calls Harry's world "a moral one." It's wrong on both points. Just review the testimony from the Pagan Federation, which reaps the fruit from the soaring interest in Witchraft.

Second, Harry and his friends may show loyalty to each other and courage in the face of danger. But they also lie and steal. Would you call that a moral world? Kenneth McCormick adds this insight:

"stealing, lies, hate, revenge, and even murder are presented in a complete absence of moral conflict. Lying exists, of course, in the plots of many children's books, but there is normally an at least tacit recognition that lying is a moral problem of some sort."

6. Focus on the Family critic, Lindy Beam came closest to the truth. The last part of her counsel is right: "Apart from the benefit of wise adult guidance in reading these books, it is best to leave Harry Potter on the shelf."

As for the first half of her counsel, it might be good to remember God's definition of wisdom: "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding."

The fear of the Lord involves a sober awareness of what He loves, of what He despises, and of the consequences of disobedience and rebellion against Him. It leads to a sincere desire to please Him, heartfelt gratefulness for His mercy, and unending delight in His loving presence. So when we choose to "fear the Lord" we will heed Romans 12:9, "Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good."

Among the obvious evils are the practices listed in Deuternomy 18:9-12: witchcraft, sorcery, spellcasting, divination, calling up the dead, etc. In other words, children who delight in Harry's occult world of spells and magic will naturally learn to enjoy evil and crave more. But they cannot "cling to what is good" while they love evil. The two are incompatible. (Click here to compare Deut. 28 with passages from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire)

In other words, "wise adult guidance" would most likely choose to "leave Harry Potter on the shelf."

7. Wheaton College professor Alan Jacobs suggests that the Harry Potter books offer "the possibility for serious moral reflection…[and] the question of what to do with magic powers is explored in an appropriate and morally serious way." His words make no sense from a Biblical perspective.

Since white magic, like black magic, is "an abomination" to God -- and since white magic is far more deceptive and seductive -- neither is good. Books written from an occult perspective cannot explore magic powers in "an appropriate and morally serious way" -- without redefining the word moral and rejecting the Bible. A context or setting that approves occultism will turn God's values upside down. Praising the practices God condemns, Professor Jacobs illustrates the timeless message of Isaiah 5:20:
"Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;
Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, And prudent in their own sight!"

Read the rest of the article here.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

More Video-NAR

Here's another video running on YouTube--fairly short --concerning the NAR (New Apostolic Reformation) and it briefly features some of its major "actors". Is the NAR coming to a theater near you and your church? Uh...hopefully not.