Monday, October 29, 2012

What are we to believe about psychics, the paranormal, ghosts, and hauntings?

Is there such a thing as ghosts? The answer to this question depends on what precisely is meant by the term “ghosts.” If the term means “spirit beings,” the answer is a qualified “yes.” If the term means “spirits of people who have died,” the answer is “no.” The Bible makes it abundantly clear that there are spirit beings, both good and evil. But the Bible negates the idea that the spirits of deceased human beings can remain on earth and “haunt” the living.

Hebrews 9:27 declares, “Man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment.” That is what happens to a person’s soul-spirit after death—judgment. The result of this judgment is heaven for the believer (2 Corinthians 5:6-8; Philippians 1:23) and hell for the unbeliever (Matthew 25:46; Luke 16:22-24). There is no in-between. There is no possibility of remaining on earth in spirit form as a “ghost.” If there are such things as ghosts, according to the Bible, they absolutely cannot be the disembodied spirits of deceased human beings.

The Bible teaches very clearly that there are indeed spirit beings who can connect with and appear in our physical world. The Bible identifies these beings as angels and demons. Angels are spirit beings who are faithful in serving God. Angels are righteous, good, and holy. Demons are fallen angels, angels who rebelled against God. Demons are evil, deceptive, and destructive. According to 2 Corinthians 11:14-15, demons masquerade as “angels of light” and as “servants of righteousness.” Appearing as a “ghost” and impersonating a deceased human being definitely seem to be within the power and abilities that demons possess.

The closest biblical example of a “haunting” is found in Mark 5:1-20. A legion of demons possessed a man and used the man to haunt a graveyard. There were no ghosts involved. It was a case of a normal person being controlled by demons to terrorize the people of that area. Demons only seek to “kill, steal, and destroy” (John 10:10). They will do anything within their power to deceive people, to lead people away from God. This is very likely the explanation of “ghostly” activity today. Whether it is called a ghost, a ghoul, or a poltergeist, if there is genuine evil spiritual activity occurring, it is the work of demons.

What about instances in which “ghosts” act in “positive” ways? What about psychics who claim to summon the deceased and gain true and useful information from them? Again, it is crucial to remember that the goal of demons is to deceive. If the result is that people trust in a psychic instead of God, a demon will be more than willing to reveal true information. Even good and true information, if from a source with evil motives, can be used to mislead, corrupt, and destroy.

Interest in the paranormal is becoming increasingly common. There are individuals and businesses that claim to be “ghost-hunters,” who for a price will rid your home of ghosts. Psychics, séances, tarot cards, and mediums are increasingly considered normal. Human beings are innately aware of the spiritual world. Sadly, instead of seeking the truth about the spirit world by communing with God and studying His Word, many people allow themselves to be led astray by the spirit world. The demons surely laugh at the spiritual mass-deception that exists in the world today.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Christian Persecution In America?

Over the past few weeks, I have been caught up in all the rhetoric of the debates, and all the lies going around, really from both sides. In the midst, I came across an article concerning religious persecution in America.

If you think these are just stories, you need to read on.

Throughout 2012, numerous incidents have been making headlines pertaining to the persecution of Christians in America. Some believe that persecution is on the rise, and that matters will only continue to get worse across the country on both the federal and local levels.

While circumstances have not escalated to the intensity taking place in countries such as Nigeria, where Christians are being mass murdered and their churches set on fire by the Islamic group Boko Haram, or North Korea, where thousands of believers are being held in prison camps for their faith in Christ, many note that persecution is here nonetheless.July of this year, Jesse Boyd of Full Proof Gospel Ministries, a missionary to Southeast Asia, was placed under arrest while witnessing at an Independence Day celebration in Holly Ridge, North Carolina. Ricky Springer, a friend of Boyd’s, had been preaching to attendees, while Boyd quietly distributed tracts and filmed Springer preaching. After an intoxicated crowd member began to take issue with the preaching, Officer Keith Whaley approached and demanded that Springer cease and desist his activities.

Boyd then attempted to assist Springer by asking Whaley what law was being violated, but Boyd stated that Whaley refused to provide an answer. When Chief John Maiorano returned with Whaley and still refused to provide answers, then walked away in a huff, Boyd called out to the officers, “This is the USA, not the Soviet Union. Shame on you, you need to repent . . . I am not disrespecting you; I respect your office, but not your manner. This is America.”

Upon uttering the word “repent,” Boyd was taken into custody and jailed. He was released on $500 bond and charged with disorderly conduct for using “abusive language” against police that “incites violence.”

Days later, the charge against Boyd was dismissed by District Attorney Ernie Lee, citing Boyd’s First Amendment right to free speech.

In August of this year, Mike Stockwell of Cross Country evangelism was cited in Philadelphia for disorderly conduct when a female heckler exposed her breasts as he was preaching.

Lieutenant Thomas McLean immediately grabbed into Stockwell to stop him from preaching. Officer Thomas Ohm concurred that Stockwell should be cited over the woman’s response to his message.

“You’re drawing a crowd, and that young lady exposing herself, that ended it. Once you cross that boundary of freedom of speech in drawing a malicious or out-of-order crowd, that’s when we have to stop it,” Ohm outlined.

The woman was the sole individual that interrupted Stockwell that night.

“I thought it was ridiculous,” Stockwell told Christian News Network. “What was I doing that was disorderly?”

Ohm informed Stockwell that if he continued in his activities, he would go to jail, at least for a few hours, if not the weekend.

In September, six Christians in New Orleans, Lousiana were arrested for violating a city ordinance that restricted them from preaching on the infamous Bourbon Street after sunset. The street is generally quiet during the day, and is the center of nightlife after dark.

Pastor Troy Bohn of RAVEN Ministries told Christian News Network that as one of the men were being placed in handcuffs, he heard a sergeant give the order, “Be sure to find out what church they are with because we are going to start going after these churches.”

“It kind of chilled me,” he stated. “Are we the threat preaching Jesus? No, I kind of like to think that we are holding back the darkness.”

Three of the six Christians were then cited with violating the ordinance, which carries a maximum penalty of a $500 fine and six months imprisonment.

While one of the Christians arrested, Kelsey Bohn, obtained a temporary restraining order against the ordinance, the three that were cited still face a court date on October 31st.

Earlier this month, six Christians in Jersey City, New Jersey all received citations for engaging in free speech activity without a permit. They were prohibited from preaching effectively or distributing tracts without first obtaining government permission.

The Jersey City Police Department also stated that because members of the public were upset with the message being proclaimed, the officers had a right to prevent potential violence. They stated that in such cases, police protocol is to disperse the crowd and silence the speaker.

All six Christians await a hearing on November 23rd.

In using Ordinances to stop house meetings, one of the largest and most noted cases this year was the imprisonment of Michael Salman of Phoenix, Arizona, for holding private worship services in a building that he constructed in his back yard.

Salman states that he was told by the city that he could not hold Bible studies in his home without converting it into an official church, which at first, he attempted to do.

“Bible studies are not allowed to be conducted in your residence or the barn on your property as these structures do not comply with the construction code for this use,” one letter from the city stated, which Salman presented in an online video. Another letter from Assistant Development Services Director Robert J. Goodhue, now retired, outlined, “…Bible studies are not allowed in the residence… The simple and direct answer [as to why] is that the Bible study use requires a change of occupancy.”

Salman spent sixty days in jail this summer, and was released last month after serving his sentence. At last report, he was serving house arrest for holding the worship services with family and friends on his 4.6 acre property without comporting with commercial standards.

In June, a couple in San Juan Capistrano, California had been fined $300 for violating the city’s zoning ordinance, which prohibits “religious, fraternal or non-profit [home] gatherings” of 4 or more people without a permit. However, due to the public outcry over the case, the city council changed its zoning code to remove penalties against those who host home Bible studies without government permission.

In July, the home of Keith Mason, president of Personhood USA was vandalized by pro-abortion protesters who despised his stand for life.

Profanity and images of coat hangers were spray painted all over the siding of the house, and a large rock was thrown at the front door, shattering glass onto the porch and throughout the living room. The children’s toys and items for the new baby were covered in shards of glass.

Two days later, Everett Stadig, a volunteer with Personhood USA, was attacked while collecting signatures for the pro-life organization outside of a local grocery store. Stadig, who suffered multiple injuries, was hurt so severely that he had to be hospitalized, including for a broken hip.

In August, Christian News Network reported on a street preacher named Gene Duffy, who was threatened with a knife and gun by two bystanders that despised his message.
Duffy, 67, said that he was singing Christian songs with his guitar on an outparcel near the Semmes, Alabama Wal-Mart when he was approached by Sandra Jarman, 53, who was wielding a knife, and Jesse Reid, 26, who was carrying a pistol. The two began to rail on Duffy that they did not like the message he was presenting.

“They hated it. They hated God,” Duffy told Christian News Network. “[They said] that I should be arrested for trying to put that stuff on people.”

These stories are just the tip of the iceberg of what has occurred throughout 2012 across the United States.

In these times, some may point to 2 Timothy 3:13 and Matthew 24:14: “But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse … And this Gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.”

For others, who are apprehensive about making any hasty statements regarding the signs of the times or the end of the age, they still agree that persecution is indeed here.