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Archive for the ‘Addiction’ Category

The Occult

I don’t know what it is, but I’ve started something. It started with last week’s Fall Festival at church where I talked about the origins of Halloween and how it has turned into a pagan holiday. Sunday I mentioned the same thing. Here’s some of the notes from my sermon text…

Tomorrow is Halloween…

…which is really a pagan holiday where, as a nation, we glorify ghouls and goblins and blood and gore, demons and witches, and such. We shouldn’t you know. The Bible teaches us that these things are pagan. I shared Wednesday night at our Fall Festival about the origins of Halloween and what the Bible says in Deuteronomy 18. Which is that: “there should not be anyone among you who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or is a sorcerer or a charmer or a medium or one that seeks to inquire of the dead.

The Bible says these are an abomination to the LORD. We must be very careful with our children when it comes to things of the occult and horror movies and things that seem innocent like “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Sabrina, the Teen Witch” and “Harry Potter” and “Paranormal Activity.” Next thing you know…it’s soothsayers, 1-900 psychic lines, tarot cards

 and Ouija boards.

and Horoscopes (that I call HORRORscopes)

Click to view

After all, Satan only needs a crack in the door to pull someone in to the occult and the spirit world that is unseen. Enjoy the candy and the princess and Spiderman costumes, but leave the celebration of blood, gore, witches, devils and demons at the curb, shall we?

After Sunday’s service I was stopped by a lady who said she wanted to talk about the occult. We talked and set up a time to talk again. In the meantime, Halloween has come and gone, but as the week had gone along, I have continued to be approached about things of the occult. It’s been amazing. So, I have this thought: Why do some many “Christians” dabble in the spiritual realm of overt evil and darkness? I don’t know that I have a single answer for that. Why would a “Christian” want to dabble with these things?

Tonight, on Facebook I saw where a college student said that they were really scared by a new horror movie that just came out. Seems innocent, right? I just want to offer this suggestion to anyone who will listen. Stay away from things that are full of evil. I could go deeper…but, I don’t think I really need to. You get the picture.

Parents, do you know what your kids are watching? I’ll say it again…it just takes a crack and the door can be shoved open into the unseen and dark spiritual world. The Bible says in Ephesians 6:12 “For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.

It’s important that we are aware of this unseen world. If you want to see it in action. Read Daniel, chapters 8 and 9. If you’ve never looked at these chapters in detail, you might miss the fact that the angel Gabriel and Michael are involved in spiritual warfare against demonic forces who are trying to thwart God’s plan for revealing a vision of the “end times” to Daniel. It’s amazing and awe-inspiring Scripture.

Here’s the gist of this post. When people talk about Halloween, they talk about ghosts and such. Read carefully here. GHOSTS DO NOT EXIST.

When a person dies, their spirit leaves their body and goes to Heaven or Hades. For the Christian, “to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.” That’s Heaven. Unbelievers, upon their death, go to Hades. Luke 16 gives an example of this from the lips of our Lord.

Therefore, there are no ghosts floating around on the earth. But, there are demons. How do they make themselves visible? Well, let’s look to Scripture, shall we? Isn’t that where we’re to turn? Please don’t go to Hollywood and the movies that have produced that are in most of our brains.

In Scripture we see that demons possess unbelievers. A believer can NOT be possessed by a demon, because we are sealed by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:14). Jesus cast out demons from men, women and children in Scripture and they recognized Him as the Son of God. Mark records this for us…

23 Suddenly, a man in the synagogue who was possessed by an evil spirit began shouting, 24“Why are you interfering with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One sent from God!” 25 Jesus cut him short. “Be quiet! Come out of the man,” he ordered. 26 At that, the evil spirit screamed, threw the man into a convulsion, and then came out of him.

As far as I can see in Scripture, demons only possess people. They don’t float around as ghosts (contrary to movies that depict ghosts and the sort, such as “Paranormal Activity.”). So, what powers do demons have? Great powers. Think back to Moses and the duels that he had with Pharaoh and his magicians. They could even make snakes out of wooden sticks, just like Aaron did with his rod. But, Aaron’s snake ate the magician’s snakes.

During the Tribulation period, the False Prophet and the Anti-Christ will do signs and wonders as well. Satan has power, no doubt. So, we should respect the spiritual world and not dabble in things that are supernatural. I pray that we will not be tricked by Satan in his subtle way of luring us into his world.

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Stop It!

Last night at church I taught from Hebrews chapter 9. As I was teaching, something came to mind that I didn’t have in my notes. The words, “stop it.” Stop it? Yes. You may ask, “Stop what?” Sinning.

Seem to simple? Is it? Let me ask you something. Do you like sinning? Well, the quick answer would be: “Of course not.” But, let’s probe deeper. Don’t we excuse our sin and say, “Well, nobody’s perfect.” Isn’t that our mantra in our culture and even in the Church? I believe it is. We say, “Well, I know that what I’m doing is probably not right (in a particular area of our lives), but I just can’t stop it…after all…nobody’s perfect.”

Let’s say you struggle with weight or smoking or chewing tobacco or over spending or using foul language or anger or pornography or neglect of your family or being hateful or mean in our attitude. We think that we can’t overcome these things because we don’t think we can. We’ve believed Satan’s lies. He whispers…”After all, nobody is perfect.” So, we excuse our sin and just sort of live with it. We get comfortable with the fact somehow we can live beneath this level of sin. But we can’t. Sin entangles. Sin corrupts and it eats away at our relationship with God.

I think about my own life. I want to be clean before the Lord. But, how clean? Mostly clean, 98% clean? 90% clean? When I think about it I really wrestle with this. Do I really want to be pure and righteous. If I do, then I must simply obey God’s commands. And here it comes… Are you ready? When it comes to sin…I must…drum roll please…

STOP IT!

That’s right! I must simply stop it. If it’s getting angry or frustrated…I must stop it. If it’s over-eating, or over-spending…I must stop it. If it’s neglect of my family from over work, I must…you guessed it…

STOP IT!

How? In the power of the Holy Spirit.

We say we are more than conquerors in Christ. We say that “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” We say, “Greater is He within me than he that’s in the world.” But, do we really believe it? If we did, then we would appropriate the power within us at our disposal via the Holy Spirit of God and STOP IT! Wouldn’t we? Shouldn’t we? Yes!

So what is it that needs to stop? Holding a grudge? Frustrated. Mad at your spouse. Estranged with someone at work? Struggling with an addiction? Read carefully so you don’t misunderstand.

YOU HAVE THE SAME POWER WITHIN YOU THAT RAISED JESUS CHRIST FROM THE DEAD.

Do you get that? The same Holy Spirit that brought Jesus Christ back to life lives within you if you are a follower of Christ. So, ask Him to help you and mean really dig deep into your soul and say, “Lord, I’m tired of making the excuses…I’m tired of failing…give me the desire to STOP IT!” He will. I promise you! He will if you sincerely ask Him. Will it be easy? Are you kidding? No way. But, that’s the point, it’s not you who will be doing the work. It’s Christ. And since He’ll be doing the work through you, when it’s all said and done, He’ll get the credit.

So, are you ready? Ok, I’m with you. So, all together now…

STOP IT!

By the way, if you want a good laugh and you’ve got about six minutes…take a look at what a church member sent me last night after I got home. They said, they thought I would like the title of it since it went along with what I was teaching last night. Appropriately enough…it’s called…

Yep…

Click here for: Stop it!

🙂

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I’m hopelessly addicted! I’ve got to come out and tell everyone that. It started about 4 years ago and it’s getting worse and worse. I have talked to Pam about it and even my children. The problem is now I’ve contaminated them. They’re addicted too. We just can’t get enough of this. We’re hopelessly addicted. It’s something that we can’t get out of our system and the truth is…I don’t want to…

My addiction?

MISSIONS

 

Yep…I’ve admitted it! It’s out in the open! I’m an addict. Hopelessly, wonderfully, inexorably and joyfully a missions addict. You know it’s been said that whatever you can’t get enough of is your god. I wish I could tell you that I’ve always had this desire. I haven’t. I caught the bug (the fever), whatever you want to call and Katy and Kandace have too. We are still recovering from Mexico and Texas last week, but it’s a good tired. We have Vacation Bible School

each night this week and so this tired 43-year-old “ain’t as young as he used to be.” I don’t bounce back as fast as I once did, but it’s a good tired! 🙂

I was thinking about addiction. Am I addicted to Jesus? Well let’s see:

Could I live without reading my Bible for 3 days?

Could I live without praying for 3 days?

Could I live without going to church for 3 months?

Could I live without talking to my Brothers and Sisters in Christ for 3 weeks?

Let me think about other addictions?

Could I do without my computer for 3 days? I’m having a problem with mine now and I’m trying to think (when can I give it up to get it in the shop and be without it for 3 days).

Could I go without my cell phone for 3 days? No scratch that…3 hours? Hmm…scratch that…3 minutes?

TV?

Favorite Soft Drink?

Coffee?

North Carolina Tar Heel Basketball

Boy…I know I’m “hoeing close to the corn” aren’t I? Well, sadly, I must admit that I think I’m addicted to many other things more deeply than to my Savior. I’m ashamed to say it, but it’s the truth. I say I love Jesus, but my actions often show something much different. I’m sorry Lord. Please forgive me. You are worthy of my best and often I give you leftovers. When I think of the amount of time I’ve wasted on that last list, it humbles me. I desire to do better and with God’s help I will.

It is true…whatever we can’t get enough of is our god. God help me to make it YOU!

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Recently I had this question posed to me and boy, it’s really caused me to have to dig and pray to find discernment and wisdom from the Lord to give an answer that I feel comfortable with for the blog.  But, I want to give you the bottom line at the beginning of this post.  Here it is:  There is no “cookie cutter,” “one-size fits all” answer for this question.  Why?  Because everyone’s situation is different and different people handle things in different ways.  And, yes, even the same person can be handled in different ways at different times to remedy a situation or hopefully help a situation.

Most people have someone in their family that is facing an addiction or is someone who is exasperating at best.  I read recently that the economic cost of addictions to the American workforce is nearing $500 billion a year.  Throughout America, weekend partying fills emergency rooms and morgues with drunk drivers, overdose victims, rape victims and the like.  Close to 25 percent of all Medicare and Medicaid expenses stem from substance abuse. 

So, do you have the exasperating family member that is addicted to one thing or another?  You may have that family member that constantly is asking for money.  Or perhaps the one that goes from one addiction to another (alcohol, drugs, porn, gambling, overwork, emotional addictions, etc).  Or you may have the family member that can never seem to get their “act together.”  Or maybe they bounce from relationship to relationship and can’t ever seem to settle down.  Or even worse, they are in and out of jail or detention centers or detox centers and seem almost “hopeless.”  So, what do you do?  Do you give them the “tough love treatment” and not speak to them?  Do you cut them off with no contact?  Or do you continue to coax and implore them to get it all “turned around” by pleading and begging them to change?  What should you do? 

As I pondered these questions over the last several days, I thought about Jesus and his “interactions” with other people and even some parables He told.   I thought about the “Prodigal Son.”  The father in the story let the young son walk.  He didn’t go chase him.  Luke 15 describes how the boy finally, “came to his senses.”  The father didn’t bring him to his senses.  The boy’s circumstances did.  He finally hit rock bottom.  But, is this the model we should use for our family members?  Your family member?  Maybe, maybe not. 

I thought about how Jesus dealt with the “woman at the well.”  He was very plain and honest with her (as he was with everyone).  He told her the truth and confronted her with the fact that she was living with a man and being dishonest.  I think of the experience He had with Zacchaeus.  He went to his house.  He was so gracious to go with this “sinner” to his house and spend time with Him to help him see the error in his ways.  Zacchaeus repented and was resolute in his desire to repay those he had stolen from in his tax collection business.  I think of the time Jesus was confronted with the woman caught in adultery and he was so kind to her.  Here was a lady “caught in the act” (she was “framed” if the whole truth be known).  Nonetheless, Jesus could have thrown the “book” at her.  The Old Testament law said she should be stoned.  Yet, Jesus said those now famous lines, “He that is without sin, let him cast the first stone.”  Amazing!  Are you seeing something interesting here?  Are you seeing that there is a pattern of “NO” patterns?   Everyone was treated specifically and uniquely for their situation.  Jesus handled each circumstance exactly in the way that “fit” that person for that situation.

Think about Jesus’ encounter with the “Rich Young Ruler.”  He again confronted this person with the truth.  He saw deep inside the young man’s heart and revealed to him his real problem.  The young man wanted to know how to get to heaven.  Jesus did not give him a direct answer.  He told him to sell all He had and give it to the poor.  Jesus knew his “stuff” was his god.  Again, Jesus just told the truth…the whole truth and nothing but the truth.  So, I believe we must be honest with family members about their own condition.  Not hateful!  Not mean-spirited.  Jesus was never this way.  Yet, He was forthright, firm and honest.  

So you may say, “Been there done that.  It doesn’t work.  They won’t listen.”  This may be true.  Sometimes they don’t.  What did the Rich Young Ruler do?  He walked off with his face downcast.  Did Jesus chase him down?  Nope.  He let him walk.  So, I believe there are times that perhaps we must let them walk.  Suffer their own miserable consequences for their own pitiful actions.  Yet, there is something critical that you and I must understand and this is what I’ve grappled with for a week.  We must pray and listen to the guidance of the Holy Spirit to make the right decision.  The cookie-cutter approach won’t work always work.   We can’t take one instance in Scripture and apply that to each and every situation.  Again, Jesus didn’t handle everyone the same way. 

Remember, He was so long suffering with the Apostles.  He continued to teach and train them even though they struggled mightily with stubborn unbelief.  Don’t we?  I do!  Remember on the cross He said, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.”   What compassion!  As Christians we must forgive and we must be willing to reach out and help as the Lord leads.  We must respond as Jesus did.  Faith isn’t about digging a moat around one’s own life. 

So, now you are thinking, “Wow!  Thanks for the double-talk Kevin!  You’ve sure been a lot of help!  UGH!!”  I don’t mean to give you the appearance that I’m talking out of both sides of my mouth.  Honest!!  I’m just trying to show you what the Lord has shown me.  We must seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit when dealing with people.  We must pray for discernment and ask for wisdom to know how to deal with that family member (or friend, or child or spouse or neighbor) that is an enigma to us.  You know the one that is absolutely the most frustrating person in the world and the one that makes us want to scream!  James tells us if we will simply ask for wisdom, God will freely give it to us.  We need wisdom!  If we have it…then, we’ll not what to do and make the right decision. 

Here’s what I believe…no…here is what I know that works.  If we would just read the Word of God and seek a “word” from the Word, then we would have much clearer direction in what to say or do, or what NOT to say or do in these difficult situations.  You see the Bible is a “lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.”  (Psalm 119:105).  God WILL show the way if we will seek Him in what to do.  Often we ask everyone else’s opinion and leave out the Lord.  Oh, I know we pray.  But so often we pray only to check off the fact that we have done our “Christian duty” and then go ahead with what our “gut” tells us or what someone else says to do (like Oprah or Dr. Phil).  We ultimately make decisions like the world and we stumble and fall in the process…right along with that exasperating family member. 

Do you ever think that you and I are an exasperating “family member” to the Lord?  Boy, I know I am.  I’m an exasperating “child” myself.   And I’m sorry Lord!  Forgive me for my cynical nature and my judgmental attitude and my lack of patience to wait on you for the answer and for wisdom to make a good decision in communicating with that family member.  May I remember that Jesus showed the way.  He is THE WAY after all.  He knows what we should do.  He’s not playing “hide and seek” with His will.  He still says, “Come, follow me.”  When we do, we’ll have the right approach and the right way of dealing with that wayward family member.  Try it!!

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