March 28 2016

Easter And Paganism

easterAs I write this, it is Easter 2016. I came into the Easter season with very little excitement this year. Before I was a Christian, I quite enjoyed Easter. I loved to hide plastic eggs filled with candy for my kids in our backyard. We would spend time the night before filling the eggs and hiding them for the kids, so they would believe the Easter bunny brought them. The kids were always so excited to wake up and see their Easter baskets waiting for them, filled with little goodies and candy. We also put out the night before so it would like as if the Easter bunny brought them. Then, later in the morning we would dye eggs and do yet another Easter egg hunt, this time the kids would hide them for each other. We would usually have family over for an early dinner, and then spend a relaxing evening at home, trying to wind the kids down from all the sugar.

There was no church service or talk of Jesus Christ or His resurrection during these years before we became Christian. We could care less about Jesus at that point really. During this time of year I also reflected on the spring festivals and holy days of witches, the Spring Equinox,  which reminded me of the Goddess and Mother Earth. I did not celebrate those things on Easter itself, because they were separate events.  Most of all, Easter has always been a time of family for me. I really enjoy family and spending time together, and that always makes a a holiday special for me.

This year there was nothing particularly special about Easter for me. Two years ago we ditched all of our Easter baskets, plastic eggs, bunny decorations and things of that nature. My husband and I decided that we did not want to teach the kids about the Easter bunny and celebrating with eggs and baskets and things of that nature anymore. The reason behind this is because those things have nothing to do with Jesus and do not glorify Him in any way. They are more about the pagan rituals of fertility and sexuality than Jesus, but we have adopted them and changed them to be cute and fun. I have nothing against these practices, we just don’t see the point in doing them anymore. It was fun for many years, but utterly meaningless. Coming into a relationship with Jesus Christ is what gave real meaning to Easter for us. Thinking about His sacrifice and His resurrection. That in itself was enough to throw out the baskets and eggs for us. Jesus is a far better trade off in my opinion.

Saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!”

Revelation 5:12-13

This year I have really lost all joy in Easter whatsoever. I just do not see Easter the same way anymore. I could try to view it with the same child like innocence that I always have before, but my life and the way I see the world is just not the same anymore. For one, I recently found out about severe abuse in my child hood, perpetrated by my family and the Mormon Church. This has completely rocked my world. A part of this abuse has been satanic rituals, done in the Mormon church. It has opened my eyes to a whole new understanding of our world and the spiritual realm, even greater than I had before. I am also living in a lot of pain on a day to day basis. Some days are not too bad, others are unbearable. I have learned more than I ever thought there was to know about witchcraft, and it’s effects in this world.

There is a pretty big movement of Christians who are completely against Easter. They say it is a pagan holiday and it is wrong for Christians to celebrate it. They say that we are doing something offensive to God and trying to take something wrong and put a Christian spin on it to make it right. I can understand the stance and where it came from, but I cannot agree with this movement at all. The problem is, the devil is having a field day distracting these Christians with the “evils of paganism” and then using them to turn other Christians away from Easter and Christmas. Christians who hate these so called pagan holy days are full of anger and make very negative statements in which they throw Bible verses at others, with their claims of righteousness in abstaining from them. This is not the work of God, who is not the author of confusion, nor division.

I have spent a lot of time going over the facts of what paganism is and what makes a pagan holy day, so I am not going to do that again. If you are interested in those, please read my post on paganism, and also on Christmas and paganism. I think that people have lost the real focus in their fight when they start to throw stones at paganism. Paganism is merely a distraction of the enemy to lead people astray from the real problem prevalent in our society. Witchcraft. Witchcraft is very dangerous and very real. It is seductive and has lasting effects that run deep on those who choose to participate in it. I know, because I am still removing the hooks, over 3 years after I gave my life to Christ. I too have been led down that rabbit trail of paganism, condemning everything that looked pagan to me, and feeling very self righteous in the process. It took me these 3 years to begin to see that paganism is simply a part of our society, ingrained in every part of it in ways we don’t even realize. That does not make paganism evil, nor does it make it inherently wrong either.

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

John 3:17

Can we glorify God through customs that are pagan in their roots? Can we take days that were once holy to the pagans in the ancient days of the Romans and Greeks, and recycle them into something for God? In a short answer, no. We as people cannot do take something as big as this and change it for good; but God can. Nothing is too big or great for God. Can we glorify God through practicing Easter customs of dying eggs and chocolate bunnies? Probably not. But God will be glorified regardless of these things, because He is much greater than the sum of our pagan parts, all mish-mashed together. It may not be through the eggs and bunnies, but it will be through us – His children, and through His Son, Jesus Christ.

I do not think Easter is wrong, nor do I think Christians should abstain from it. I certainly do not think that Easter offends God, nor does God get mad at Christians for celebrating it. I do not think it is wrong to not celebrate it either, if you choose not too. What I believe is wrong about Easter is those who decide that they should not celebrate it, and then use the Bible to condemn those who do. Or these same people who say they are trying to teach others about the truth. The truth is that Easter is not a pagan holiday, and that is a fact. It is a Catholic holiday, adopted by Christians and the U.S at large. It is derived from a pagan holiday and includes some customs that are based on pagan rites and rituals. To make it a pagan holy day, it would have to currently be a day set aside by witches or satanists to be used in observance to their gods and for rituals. This is simply not the case.

There are however, holy days for witches and satanists that are observed in this same season that we celebrate Lent and Easter. This does not make Easter pagan, and the fact that we focus on Easter and paganism is pretty ironic, considering at this very same time of year human lives are being sacrificed to Lucifer. I do not hear one single Christian standing up for the rights of the poor human beings who have their lives taken from them in the name of Lucifer and other gods. There are four different sacrificial rituals in April alone, in which human lives are used. Where is the outcry for these people? Who stands up to rally against satanism and rituals where witchcraft is being sent out everywhere? Who even realizes that the mass witchcraft done in rituals by people all over the world on the same days actually has a huge effect on the rest of us in this world? Not many. No, we are safe in our own little worlds, being distracted by bunnies and eggs, or the hatred of them.

Let me get back to my Easter day today. We slept in, as we decided to go to the late service at church. We picked up my father in law, who my husband is not close too, but lives in an assisted living place. We wanted to give him a nice time regardless of our own feelings. We got to church about 40 minutes before service for the deacons pancake breakfast. We ate and then moved into the worship center to get a seat. The worship service was nice – songs that glorified Jesus Christ and His resurrection on the cross. I always love worship, and love to sing to my Lord and God. Yet this year I could not bring myself to focus on the death and resurrection of Christ. I did not want to spend weeks or even the day reflecting on the work Jesus has done for us on the cross. Why? Because I have already spent a long season of my life doing so, and I believe that for me, it is time to move on.

Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God,  and of instruction about washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And this we will do if God permits.

Hebrews 6:1-2

I do not want to take time once a year to think about Jesus and His death and resurrection. I do not believe that it is effective in moving me closer to Jesus. I do believe for some people it is, and I think that is wonderful. I have no issues with that whatsoever. But for me, it is time to move forward. I do not believe life should be a circle that we keep going around and around again. That is actually a pagan idea in itself. The witches wheel of the year, in which they have their holy days they observe. Well we are living much in the same way. We go year in and year out, marking the seasons with holidays to remember and reflect. But I do not want to crucify Christ again, year after year. He is not a man living on earth, being beaten and murdered anymore. He is God in heaven, glorified and seated at the right hand of God the Father. That is how I want to think about Him, every day.

heart-on-doorIt is very important to know about and understand what Jesus has done. It is impossible to know Him and His amazing love for us without knowing about the crucifixion. But I believe in order to grow and to know who we are in Christ and what God has for us here during this time we have on earth, we need to move forward, away from the cross and into God’s plan. You see, I believe God has called each one of us, before the beginning of time. I believe we knew God before we were ever born, and that God gave us His plan for us; a plan that included us doing something amazing for His Kingdom here on earth. We should remember the cross, but that should be something that is a part of our hearts and who we are, not a holiday once a year. We need to stop going back over and over again, marveling at the empty grave, as if it is something new to be rejoiced about. Instead we need to take the work on the cross and let it shape and transform us as we move through this world, bringing His light into it.

I do not want to loose the wonder of who Jesus Christ is in my life, by relegating him to a couple of holidays every year, or even to once a week at church. Jesus Christ has given me something more wonderful than any person could give. It is something so amazing I could never portion it out to a single day or hour of my year. He has given me love. Not just any love, but true love. Unconditional love. Love that heals wounds, changes hearts, brings the dead back to life, and sets the world on fire. I have always wished for a love so pure and so deep that it would complete me. I have finally found it, in my wonderful savior. Are you ready to run after Him with that same passionate love, and see what more there is in your relationship?

And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.

Ephesians 2:6-7

 

February 1 2016

What Is Normal Christianity?

ChristianityAs a pagan I had many preconceived notions about what Christianity was or what it meant to be a Christian. I didn’t believe in Jesus Christ, and honestly He was never a thought in my mind. Jesus Christ was a swear word to me. Outside of that He was either a mythical figure or a historical figure. The guy with the long hair and white robes. I had nothing but disdain for Christians for as long as I can remember. Unfortunately part of that I was taught at the Mormon Church as a child. They do not hold the same beliefs as Christians, and I was taught away from the Truth of the Gospel message. I didn’t realize this though, being just a child, so I never questioned why I hated Christians.

As far as I was always concerned, Christians were a bunch of perfect people with no problems. At the same time I also thought Christianity was filled with hypocrites who thought they were better than everyone else and looked down on everyone from the pedestals they stood on. Admittedly there are people like that, but not all of them are Christians. As a pagan, I didn’t see it that way. I just hated Christianity and everything it stood for. Funny thing is, I didn’t actually know what Christianity was all about. I assumed it was about following rules and a God that was far away and judgmental, waiting to send you to hell. Another belief instilled by the Mormon Church. It wasn’t until I read the Bible for myself and encountered Jesus Christ, that I realize how very wrong I was all my life.

There is nothing perfect about Christianity. There is not perfect formula for getting saved and living a perfect life, free of problems. The only thing perfect in Christianity is Jesus Christ, perfect and sinless because He is God. Outside of that, we are all broken people, living in a very broken world. We are all hurting and lost in some way or another. We are all searching for the Truth and ultimately for perfect love, that only comes from God. There is not one certain way to be or act. We are all doing the best we can with what we know.

For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.

Hebrews 10:14

I have pondered the question many times, what does it really mean to be a Christian? Do any Christians really follow Jesus? Is the life of a true Christian, as modeled by the Bible even possible? It seems to me even now, in the midst of Christianity, that no one is even doing this walk right. No one is following Jesus with full surrender and abandon. Christianity is filled with paganism in every facet, and other Christians tear each other from limb to limb, using the very scripture we hold so dear. We sin, yet judge others for their sin. We go to church like it’s a social club. We do life like everyone else in the world, just going to work and taking care of our families. There is nothing special or out of the ordinary about us.

So what exactly is normal Christianity? Is it someone who strives to be as Christ like as possible, loving everyone completely, feeding the poor and devoting their time to ministry? Is Christianity about striving for a sinless life and being on a constant spiritual high? No. This is not what normal Christianity is. This is what we imagine we should be as Christians. This is what the world thinks Christianity should look like. This is not anywhere near the norm, for any of us.

I believed for a while that when I became Christian I was going to be perfect. I kept waiting for it to happen, and it didn’t. The Holy Spirit continued to convict me of things about myself and in my life that needed to be changed. I kept feeling better about myself as I made those changes, and I kept looking down on the other Christians around me. Why was I getting more Christ like while everyone around me had plateaued back in high school? No one was moving closer to Jesus, but instead staying where it was comfortable. Meanwhile I saw examples of other Christians who were out there healing the sick and casting out demons and praying the fire of God down on people so they could encounter the presence of the Holy Spirit. They were walking in selfless love and what I saw closely resembled the disciples and apostles in the Bible, rather than your average Joe.

So Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

Hebrews 9:28

What I didn’t understand is I was not seeing the whole picture of any one individual. The Christians who were stagnant were not wrong for staying where it was comfortable and the Christians who were out praying for the sick were not right because they were doing something extra ordinary. There is no right and wrong when it comes to Christianity. There is no set of rules on what Christianity needs to look like or feel like. God is much bigger than all the ideas that we could ever come up with, to limit Him and Christianity to a set of rules or behaviors or standards. Yet that is what I thoroughly believed in my walk into Christianity.

When we start to view Christianity through this strict confines, we are turning it into a religion instead of a relationship. Christianity started out very simply – a group of men and women who knew Jesus and spent their days with Him. They talked to Him, they told them their hopes and fears, they shared lives together. They broke bread together, traveled together, and they learned to trust Jesus with all their hearts. They learned to see that Jesus loved them unconditionally and that through them they could experience life with a new freedom they never knew was possible. Because of that they were willing to abandon what they had known and live unconventionally. Yet they never became perfect.

They argued, vied for the affections of Jesus, were competitive with each other for prominence, denied Jesus as God and even ran away when things got hard. That is just a small list of the mistakes the disciples made. They were only human – broken in a very broken world that has been ruled by the evil one, the devil. Jesus did not come here to start a religion or have us follow rules or standards. That was what the Pharisees were doing. No. Jesus came to love us, to heal our brokenness, to free us from the captivity that the devil has ensnared us in, and to show us that to Him, we are very worthy. God loves us so very much, enough that He would sacrifice everything for us. He did not give us the Bible as a set of rules to follow, but as a living testimony of His love!!

Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”

Matthew 16:22-23

The devil would love for us to turn Christianity into a religion. We have done a very good job with his help. We take up all the shame and fear and need for approval and turn our relationship with our Creator into great works to get us into heaven. That is one thing that is supposed to separate Christianity from all other religions. Every other religion ever is based on working your way into heaven, without any real relationship with the god figure. Only Christianity offers redemption through a relationship with a perfect and holy God. How can you beat that kind of gift? You don’t have to do anything, other than believe and have a relationship with Jesus? Amazing and simple! So why do we make it so complicated?

Are people just inherently complicated? I don’t believe so. I think that the world would have us believe that things are much more complicated than they are. And the world is owned by the devil. This is his domain, in which he is the prince of. The Bible makes that clear. The devil only has a few goals for us – steal us away from God, kill our souls so we go to hell, and destroy all of our hope. If he can do that, he has found success. Yes he wants us to die, but what better than to send us to hell to rot with him for all eternity? True hell is the absence of God. I should know, because I was there for most of my life.

So again, what is normal Christianity? Normal Christianity is someone who loves Jesus with all their heart. They are not perfect, but completely broken. They may be in denial that they are broken, or they may be in full surrender to God in their brokenness. Normal Christians are walking through life trying to do the best they can with what they have. They try the best they can to give their lives to God, but fail more often than not. They have good intentions and try to love others and give selflessly. Yet they fail often and feel disappointed or ashamed. They may grow spiritually in leaps or bounds, or may not grow at all preferring to stay where they think they are safe. There is always two things that are underlying our motives in life and how we behave and relate. 1) Our relationship with our Creator God, and 2) The pain and brokenness we have experienced through our lives. This is what shapes a normal Christian. This is what shapes every human being.

Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”

Galatians 4:6

jesus loveIf you have been beating yourself up because you don’t think you are a good Christian, or maybe not even a real Christian; or maybe you think God is angry at you; then I am telling you right now to stop. You are listening to the lies of the devil. He wants you to feel bad about yourself and to believe God is disappointed in you. He is not. He loves you, right here, right now, no matter what. You are good enough for God, imperfection and all. Whether or not you are stuck in sin, or feel far away from God, you are doing the best you can with what you know. It is OK. You just have to keep going, one step at a time, to move closer to God and closer to finding the healing He has for you. We are never going to have a perfect, sinless life, or be just like Jesus. We were not meant to be. We are meant to be His children and to be loved by God, and love Him back. Everything outside of that is just part of the details and circumstances of your life.

You are the Jewish man who was beaten and left to die by robbers. Jesus is the Good Samaritan. He is the one who you least expected to come rescue you, and saw the value in you. Jesus is the one who saw you broken and bandaged your wounds. Jesus is the one who cared enough to stop everything He was doing, and take you in so you could live.

It is time for you to come out of the darkness, brothers and sisters. It is time to stop hiding behind the lies that you need to be OK all the time, or that everyone needs to live up to some godly standards that are impossible. Let down your guard as you hide behind walls of fear and pain and move closer to the God who loves you with a never ending love. Let Jesus renew and strengthen you as you just sit quietly with Him. Believe He is right there, even if you can’t feel it. He is. Forever. You are His. He will never let you go. That is what normal Christianity is. It’s time to embrace it.

For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. 2 Timothy 4:6-8

January 25 2016

What Worship Means

handsMusic has always been a huge part of my life. As far back as I can remember I loved to listen to the radio and sing, or make up my own songs. I always participated in school Christmas programs where I would either sing or play bells or something cute when I was very young. As I got older I was in the orchestra at school for six years. Then I took a year of piano and two years of choir. After I graduated high school I bought myself a drum set and taught myself to play. I tried my hand at the acoustic guitar and bass also, not taking to them quite as well. I have always had at least one musical instrument in my house, even if I didn’t have time to play it much.

If I was too busy to play an instrument I would sing. All the time. In the car, in the shower, around the house. I love to sing. I even had a stint in a garage band for a bit after high school where I played drums and sang. Music has been a direct line to my heart and soul. Something strange happened about 9 years ago that put a huge interference with my singing. While I was pregnant with my third son, my voice just started to go out. I could not sing high notes or even scream for that matter. My voice would just disappear if I tried to go higher.

Not only were any high notes gone, but my voice became gravely and raspy. I should say my voice has always been a bit raspy, but now I was being asked if I was a smoker (which I wasn’t) or if I was a man over the phone. It was horrible. And embarrassing. I didn’t fancy myself some sort of great singer, but now I just sounded bad.

Praise the Lord, my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.

Psalm 103:1

When I became Christian I started listening to the Christian radio station. I was so moved by the music I heard and I didn’t think I could like Christian music. There is so much modern Christian music that it made it easy for me to transition from secular music. In church I heard modern worship music, which I began to love. The worship music would just touch my spirit in ways I had never experienced. One day while I was driving and singing to a worship song on the radio I prayed and asked God to heal my voice. I wanted more than anything to be able to sing the way I used to and to sing in the worship band at church. I didn’t have any confidence in myself unless God was to heal my voice.

A few weeks later worship band auditions were announced in the church bulletin. I knew it was a sign from God, but I was scared to death to even try. I knew I was not “good enough” to sing in the worship band, no matter how passionate I was about worship. Somehow I gathered just enough courage to try out, and was not given good news. I was told I had a good tone, but that my voice needed some work. I was not going to be able to sing in the worship band, but the worship leader was willing to work with me. Unfortunately that didn’t go as well as I hoped because it ended with being told I wasn’t improving enough to sing with a microphone.

I was absolutely devastated. I wanted desperately to sing in the worship band. I saw my dreams come crashing down before me. I don’t know if it was my perception, but all I heard was “you aren’t good enough and never will be”. It haunted me. Yet somehow he must have changed his mind because he asked me to sing in a vocal team (not with my own mic) a few months later, in the classic service. I had to learn hymns for this service, which I found were pretty difficult. I really did not like hymns at first, but soon grew to love them.

It probably took me a year to really get comfortable with worship. The church I belong to is a Presbyterian, and if you have ever heard the term “frozen chosen”, then you know exactly what a worship service is like at a Presbyterian church. No one raises there hands or shows emotion or anything like that. Very stiff. Well so was I at first. That is until my first women’s retreat. On Saturday night of the retreat, there was an extended worship session for whoever wanted to join. It was the longest I had ever been in a worship session. Before at church if I did not know the song, I would not sing, and I would be annoyed. I wanted to be comfortable to be able to participate. I certainly did not raise my hands. Well this extended worship session changed my life. I walked away with a new attitude towards worshiping God.

Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.

Psalm 73:25-26

I was really on a high from all the worship. I let go and closed my eyes and listened to the song if I didn’t know it, letting the words penetrate my soul. I told myself that from now on, no matter what, I was going to be an active participant in worship, not just a passive onlooker. So every Sunday I would lift my hands into a posture of submission, where my arms were about waist high and hands turned up. I was opening my arms to my Father, and opening my heart in the process.

Before I knew it, worship began to take on a whole new life for me. It was a deep connection with Father God. He moved me in new and amazing ways. It helped to grow my relationship with Him as I opened up to Him. My love only grew deeper and I would find myself raising both arms high as I could with tears streaming down my face. What a miracle to take this girl who hated God, and turn her into a passionate love of Jesus Christ! What a Redeemer He is!

During this time I was able to sing with the vocal team in the classic service about once a month. It was a wonderful opportunity for me, and I loved it. I brought my new found passion for worship with me, raising at least one hand high to praise my wonderful Jesus, Lord God of All. I was the only one ever raising any hands at any worship services at my church. I did not care. I closed my eyes, sang my heart out, and let God fill me with absolute joy! He is so very good.

You, God, are my God,
earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you,
my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land
where there is no water.

Psalm 63:1

worshipSlowly I began to see one or two others on the worship team raise a hand about midway. And then a couple of parishioners raising some hands part way. It was a beautiful thing. The glory of God is infectious! And to worship Him and feel His presence on you is spectacular! Over time I have seen more and more people in my church raising hands to praise and worship God.  I have had many more opportunities to sing in the classic service than I ever dreamed, and sometimes even with the microphone I thought I could never hold. God is so loving and wonderful. I have even seen some improvement on my voice, even though God has not healed it completely yet.

Our God is so very worthy and so very wonderful. He has done amazing things in your life, even if He hasn’t taken you out of darkness as He has me. You do not have to have some “big testimony” to see how mighty God is, or what miracles He has done in your life. The fact that you are in a relationship with Jesus Christ right now is a miracle in itself, because the devil wants to steal you away from God and has been trying to do so from day 1 of your life. But God sought you out in His great love for you. He has wooed you and drawn you nearer to Him, day by day. He has given you blessings and strength and love, even when you felt you were completely unworthy.

That is why we worship God. He deserves all honor and glory and praise, forever! Hallelujah! So I urge you, come to the altar of praise and worship your King for all that He is. Give Him all that you are, all your heart, mind and soul as you worship Him. Come before Him unhindered and unbound by what man thinks of you. See what blessings God will pour out on your life when you take that leap of faith to stop being a passive onlooker in worship, and start being a worshiper. God loves you so much! He is not upset with you, if you have not been truly engaging in worship. He loves you right where you are at, no judgement, no anger. Do not be afraid of your Father. He adores you. Come to Him dear children! Come to your Father and forget everything else around you, for that one small moment in time, and be with Him completely.

Sing to the Lord, all the earth;
    proclaim his salvation day after day.
 Declare his glory among the nations,
    his marvelous deeds among all peoples.

 For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise;
    he is to be feared above all gods.
 For all the gods of the nations are idols,
    but the Lord made the heavens.
 Splendor and majesty are before him;
    strength and joy are in his dwelling place.

 Ascribe to the Lord, all you families of nations,
    ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
 Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
    bring an offering and come before him.
Worship the Lord in the splendor of his[e] holiness.
     Tremble before him, all the earth!
    The world is firmly established; it cannot be moved.

 Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad;
    let them say among the nations, “The Lord reigns!”

1 Chronicles 16:23-31

 

Let us Worship our Lord right now – join Him!

 

January 18 2016

Paganism Is Not The Real Enemy

paganismWhen I first became a Christian I was walking away from a life of what I called paganism. To me, I identified as a pagan, because I worshiped the earth, was at one with the universe and practiced ‘magik’. I was also completely against organized religion, so I did not align myself to any one pagan religion, such as Wicca. So I was just a pagan, or a witch. I associated paganism with witchcraft, because to me it was one and the same. What I didn’t understand was that paganism and witchcraft were not the same thing. This is simply how I chose to identify myself so as not to be indoctrinated into a religion. The truth is not all pagans do witchcraft.

It is a common misconception that paganism is inherently evil. It actually is not. Let’s look at the definition of the word pagan, according to dictionary.com:

Pagan: 1) one of a people or community observing polytheistic religion, as the ancient Romans and Greeks. 2) a member of a religious, spiritual, or cultural community based on the worship of nature or the earth; neopagans. 3) a person who is not a Christian, Jew, or Muslim; a heathen.

So as you can see a pagan is not someone who practices witchcraft, but someone who subscribes to a religion that is polytheistic or don’t believe that Jesus Christ is God incarnate, who died to save the world from sin. Now let’s look at the definition of paganism:

Paganism: 1) pagan spirit or attitude in religious or moral questions. 2) the beliefs or practices of pagans.

Paganism is not related to witchcraft. I have researched what the Bible says about pagans or paganism, and these words are not found. The words commonly used are idolaters and unbelievers or gentiles. Let’s look at the definition of these words as well:

Idolaters: 1) a worshiper of idols:  2) a person that admires intensely and often blindly one that is not usually a subject of worship.

Unbeliever: a person who does not believe something; especially : a person who does not believe in a particular religious faith

Gentile: 1) a person of a non-Jewish nation or of non-Jewish faith; especially :  a Christian as distinguished from a Jew.  2) heathen, pagan

So a pagan is basically the same as someone who is not Christian, and who has other religious beliefs that include worship to gods other than the One True Living God. This does not mean that a pagan is practicing witchcraft. So this bears the question, why is paganism so wrong and bad in the eyes of so many Christians? The argument is that  paganism is a problem because it leads us away from the One True Living God. The problem with this argument is that our entire culture in America is pagan, even our Christianity. Christianity is rooted in Judaism, but then took on many pagan practices over time. Our society is filled with paganism, and incorporated into most everything there is. Let’s take a look at some of the examples of paganism in our society today:

The Church Building – There is nothing in scripture that tells us to create buildings for the purpose of meeting together and talking about God. The first Christians met together in homes. Churches began to be built during the reign of Constantine, and they were not called church, but temples. Temples were in all the big cities in that time, but they were dedicated to various gods and goddesses. People would go to meet and worship their gods and goddesses in their temples daily. The very idea of a church is pagan in origin.

Weddings – Almost every wedding practice we have today is based in pagan roots. There is no place weddings are commanded in scripture, nor the use of wedding rings. The bridal veil, flower bouquet, wedding cake, and much more are all practices from the Romans and Greeks and symbolic of their polytheistic beliefs and superstitions. None of these things is Biblical.

Makeup – Ancient Egyptians used makeup because they believed the powders contained magic powers and believed green paint around the eyes protected them from evil spirits. They also used the dark eyeliner to make the almond shape around their eye, because it represented the Eye of Horus. Horus was their patron god and his eye was a symbol of restoration and sacrifice.

Calendars – The Gregorian calendar that we typically use is completely pagan. It is based on the sun, not on the moon as the calendar of God and the Jews. The sun-god was one of the most important gods in Roman and Greek society, so their based their calendar on this, so it would revolve around their holy days. The names of the days of the week and the months are all based on gods and goddesses.

Thanksgiving – Celebration of the harvest has been around since ancient times, and is not something new created by Americans. While the first Thanksgiving was reportedly done by Puritans, it was a custom taken from pagan practices. Other religions commonly offer their first crops to their gods and goddesses in thanks, so as to assure continued prosperity. Thanksgiving is not in the Bible as a mandated festival, and neither are any holidays we celebrate for that matter.

Birthday Celebrations – There is no mention of celebrating your day of birth in the Bible. It is said that the first birthdays were celebrated by ancient kings, who executed people as part of the festivities, as well as drunken orgies and the like.  Did you know that the most important Satanic holy day is one’s own birthday?

This is just a short list of the many practices that are pagan in origin that we do or use on a regular basis. The bottom line is we live in a broken world full of sin, in which the devil has his playground. There has never been a time when paganism wasn’t predominant. If we try to escape paganism, we become legalistic, using the idea that paganism is evil to fight against people we see in the midst of practicing paganism. It become a vicious cycle, in which we lash out with hate and pride, instead of loving people into the arms of Jesus. Am I condoning paganism? No. What I am saying is, paganism is not the real problem or the enemy we should focus our fight against.

When I first began my research two years ago into Christmas and whether or not it was right to celebrate, I came to realize that not only is Christmas full of pagan roots and origins, but so are most things we incorporate into our daily existence. I became despondent, as all I wanted was to remove myself from paganism after coming out of it, and yet here I was still in the midst of it. It is true that other religious beliefs, practices and customs can lead us away from God, but more importantly it is witchcraft that leads us away from God, and into danger. Paganism in itself is not evil, and I propose to you that the real problem is witchcraft. What exactly is witchcraft?

Let’s look at what the Merriam-Webster has to say about witchcraft:

Witchcraft1)  the use of sorcery or magic 2)  communication with the devil or with a familiar (spirit)

Witchcraft by definition in the Bible: worshiping idols (demons), necromancy (contacting dead ancestors), mediums (contacting the dead, seances), divination or fortune-tellers or omen interpreters (predicting the future), human sacrifice, animal sacrifice to idols (demons) sorcerers, wise men, enchanters, magicians, astrologers, drinking blood, cutting your body for the dead or marking your body i.e. tattoos (blood rituals), curses, spells, magic charms (cursed items), soul selling.

And they burned their sons and their daughters as offerings and used divination and omens and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the Lord, provoking him to anger.

2 Kings 17:17

As you can see, this is quite a comprehensive list I have found, through researching scripture. The reason God hates witchcraft, is because it is the practice of using the power of demons to either harm others for self gain, or to seek to find power, blessing or fortune from demons by worshiping them and giving them rights into our bodies, souls and minds through blood covenants, etc. Opening yourself up to witchcraft can kill your spirit, destroy your relationship with God, and you can potentially give yourself to Satan for life. God does not want to see His children falling prey to the evil devices of the devil. The devil lures many, many people in with promises of fame, fortune, power and more, as they give over their lives, or even the lives of those they love in order to gain these things. In exchange for these things they give the devil the control of their free will and the keys to generations to come.

Magic or witchcraft is extremely dangerous, yet it is also very seductive and deceptive. It comes wrapped up in a pretty package as everything you ever wanted, and more. It comes in the form of music, tv shows, movies, religion, and charms (crystals and other new age trinkets). It draws you in pretending to know your future or give you insight into life or a higher spiritual awakening. It disguises itself as fun and games, and it is the most deadly weapon the enemy has in his hands right now. Witchcraft is everywhere in our society, and just about everyone I know enjoys it in one form or another. Yet they do not label it as witchcraft, but rather their favorite book or movie they love (are obsessed with). I have experienced the danger of witchcraft first hand, and I know how deadly it truly is.

God’s warnings to us in the Bible are not to stay away from paganism, but rather to stay away from magic in all of its forms. In ancient times it was quite common to sacrifice your child to your “god” which was really a demon. It was also quite common to perform sexual rituals or blood rituals to make a sacrifice to your “god”. It was also believed to be necessary in order to appease to gods and receive whatever gain you are hoping to achieve. These gods often were represented by idols or statues which made people feel that their gods were more tangible and real, while the One True Living God was inaccessible. These sacrifices and rituals are witchcraft. Practicing witchcraft is akin to selling your soul to the devil.

No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons.

1 Corinthians 10:20

The devil is very busy distracting many Christians with the bait of paganism. He tells us how evil paganism is, how much God hates it, and how we need to fight against it with all of our might. Meanwhile we are being completely blinded to the depth and level that witchcraft has pervaded the entire world. Take Christmas for example. There is a group of Christians who believe that God hates Christmas, the Christmas tree, and thinks the whole thing is evil and pagan. Yet the rest of the world is using this as a time of peace, joy, giving, and sharing Jesus Christ. These Christians are actually at war with other Christians yet they believe in their hearts they are being righteous. Pitting yourself against other Christians never brings righteousness. Human anger does not bring on righteousness. We are called to love one another and lift them up to the One who has the power to transform lives. Not condemn them for what we believe is wrong. The devil has a heyday watching Christians fight among each other, whether it be over Christmas, the rapture or whether or not you can lose your salvation.

That is why I say paganism is not the real enemy. We need to stop focusing on paganism because it is only causing us to judge and condemn others, spreading hate and self-righteousness. It is causing us to turn away from God, and make ourselves our own Gods. Paganism is a part of this world, and as long as Satan has free rein here, paganism will prevail. You cannot stop it, but you can love others right where they are, even in the midst of paganism. You can accept them for who they are and love them with the love of Christ. Only Christ can bring these people where He wants Him to be. We have no say in where people need to be with their walk with Christ and we cannot try to control them through our own beliefs. Focus yourself on Jesus Christ, and through Him alone great things will happen.

Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God;

Romans 14:10

I can say all this because I have spent the last two years judging everyone around me for their involvement in paganism. Everywhere I looked Christians were getting drunk, dressing provocatively, watching television shows about sex and drugs, watching movies about death and destruction, etc., etc. I was painfully aware of every single person being involved in things ungodly and unrighteous, meanwhile unknowingly lifting myself up onto a pedestal above them all. If God convicted me not to do any of those things, if He showed me the Truth of the wrong in those things, then they must be lying to themselves. I was on my way to becoming holy in my own mind, but in reality I was only becoming holier than thou. It was never my intention, nor my heart, but it was only a symptom of something greater.

What I failed to recognize is that people who are involved in paganism are doing so out of pain. Paganism at the core is all about pleasure and self fulfillment. It seems to be an instant remedy to pain, misguided as it may be. And while many people cannot even recognize nor admit their own pain, many are still operating out of it nonetheless. The devil has done a great work in this world to cause us more pain than we can even bear, and then try to numb ourselves to it as we bury it as deep as we can. Paganism is just another symptom of a broken world run by the devil. Witchcraft is the real enemy. Witchcraft will destroy your very soul. Witchcraft can take you straight to hell and you won’t even realize it until it’s far too late

God does not hate anyone who has been involved in paganism or witchcraft. He loves every single person that has ever been, or will ever be. He loves them no matter what – whether they are trying to find righteousness based on the law, or turning completely against Him. God’s love knows no bounds, no constraints, no matter what you have done. Even if you have knowingly chosen to practice witchcraft God does not hate you. He loves you more than you can ever know and wants to save you and bring you home with Him forever. We need to cast of our own constraints of religious thinking and find the truth in God’s own heart. His heart is for all of His people – to save them and bring them restoration. Come to Him now, and see what miracles He has waiting in His storehouse for you!

Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.

Romans 14:13

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

January 4 2016

My Journey Of Inner Healing

sadIf you have been following my blog at all, you know a little about my story and my testimony of how God brought me out of the occult and new age and into His saving Grace. It has been quite a journey for me these past two and a half years! I reached a point in life where I had grown tremendously and felt very happy with my relationship with Jesus. Yet I still had so much anger inside of me, and could not stop taking it out on my husband and children. I had no idea why. I knew I had a bad life but it didn’t seem to be enough to cause so much anger all of the time. I have experienced abuse, sexual abuse, and depression, but really, I knew that other people had it much worse than I had. My anger was plaguing me and I began to really feel hopeless to change it. No matter what I did I was always angry. I would always blow up over the slightest things. That is where my journey into inner healing began.

Not to mention the gaps in my memory of my childhood. From my earliest ages up to about late elementary I could not remember much at all. I thought it was normal though, being older and just forgetting things. I did have some memories, so I knew I could remember things. I remember going to my grandmothers to spend the night sometimes and what it was like there. I remembered the apartments I lived in when I was little and sliding down the stairs in my footsie pajamas. I remember playing with potato bugs and my first boyfriend (whom I didn’t even like!) And other little fun things like that. Starting at about age 13, I just remember my life very clearly. I remember all the major events in my life. If you read my story you will see that the story starts at about age 13, except for a little background on my childhood. From there on I could tell you most everything that has happened to me with no problems.

I have never thought twice about why I didn’t remember much of my childhood. I never even questioned why I was so depressed that I wanted to die at such a young age. I just knew it was because I felt my parents didn’t love me. My parents were emotionally unavailable and angry most of the time and I just assumed that was the reason I felt so unloved. I never questioned any of it; it just seemed normal to me. As my life kept going it just continued to spin out of control. This led me to believe I had good reasons to feel crazy, depressed and obsessed with death. I didn’t like it, I just accepted that there were valid reasons in place to cause these awful feelings inside me.

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.

Psalm 34:18

This never seemed to be a good enough explanation to my anger issues though. As bad as I thought my life was, I knew it was not so bad I should be so angry all of the time. I would blow up at the drop of a hat, and completely lose control to the point of screaming at the people I loved the most. It would usually be over something that seemed like no big deal to others, but to me it seemed like the end of the world. I was always so easily hurt or offended. I did make progress in these areas to some extent, through the work of God. I began to love others when I never could before, and forgive easier. More so with people outside of my family though.

I was desperate for change, but no matter how many people prayed for me or how many deliverance sessions I had, the anger would persist. Finally I decided it was time to do something about it, and so I sought out counseling. I excepted that there was something emotional driving this problem, not just spiritual. I found an amazing Christian counselor who was Holy Spirit led. It was very different from any counseling I had done before. More like an inner healing type of counseling that started with prayer and guidance of the Holy Spirit.

I learned during these sessions that anger is a secondary emotion being driven by pain. Pain was a deep root that have been driven into me from an early age. It seemed to come from rejection and abandonment issues with my parents. Instead of identifying myself as an angry person, I started to realize I was a very hurt person, carrying around a deep well of pain inside that had never been dealt with. I had only skimmed the surface so far, and the bottom was still bubbling up and coming out of me. Pain hurts others, when we don’t seek to heal it and stop letting it control our behaviors and beliefs. Signs you may need inner healing.

Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.

Psalm 34:19

After a couple of months of seeing this Holy Spirit led counselor, I had to end our sessions due to the lack of a baby sitter. I was absolutely crushed because I had begun to open up the wounds that I had tried so hard to push down for so long and the pain was now pushing up to the surface, ready to spill out and drown me. I wanted inner healing and peace for my family. God had another plan for me however. He led me to someone else, who was going to begin a journey of inner healing with me like I had never experienced before. She had been down the path of inner healing herself, and was able to use her knowledge to help guide me as well.

My inner healing could not have really made progress if I had not first started with a deliverance session. Deliverance is the beginning to healing and it is like a house cleaning. You get rid of layers of demonic oppression, often caused by generational and ancestral curses, sin and other opened gates. This allows you to make room to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit and His leading in your inner healing. Inner healing that is not done by Jesus Himself, is not true healing. Jesus has the power to destroy the bondage your past pain and trauma has over you, and to heal you completely. No one else on earth has that power. The devil wants to keep you broken and in bound to him, so that you cannot make progress in healing and in your relationships.

Before I go on I would like to talk about what inner healing is. Inner healing is completely Christ centered and Holy Spirit led. You always start with prayer and let the Holy Spirit led you in which direction He wants to go in. The purpose of inner healing is to heal your spirit and soul so you can grow closer to God and the freedom that He intended you to have. As you go through life, especially when you are young, you can have traumatic and abusive situations happen to you. These can lead to false belief systems that taint the way you see God, the world around you and other people. We behave through what our heart believes, not through what we actually know. Through inner healing the Holy Spirit guides you into memories of past events that have caused you trauma and pain. Through these you can find out what false belief systems have grown in you and then expose them to the Light of Christ to be revealed and replaced with His Truth. For some people this can open up very deep wounds that are very hard to deal with. Inner healing is something that you should not take lightly, and only accept working with someone in inner healing through prayer and the leading of God. Only God knows the perfect timing in which this should happen, and you must completely rely on Him to led you to the person He wants to use to help you through this.

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

Psalm 147:3

I first began inner healing sessions once every two weeks. It brought up memories of my childhood that I had already known about consciously. Memories that were painful and hard to deal with, but that also shed some light into the why of the pain. It was difficult, but not so difficult that I couldn’t deal with it. Soon enough the Holy Spirit began to led me into new directions in my memory recall. Memories that deeply buried and hidden, because the pain of the events was absolutely unbearable. Every week seemed to bring a new memory of horrible pain and abuse, each one related to or connected with the last.

As I started my journey of inner healing the pain and anger seemed to grow and I began to find life harder to navigate on a daily basis. To be honest with you, I had already been struggling a bit, not just with my anger, but with anxiety, stress and other things. It made daily life more difficult than it should have been and caused some bad days. I soon had to move up to a session once per week.  The pain that surfaced was so intense that some days it was all I could do to take care of myself, let alone make dinner for my family. Thank God that I had just enrolled my 3 youngest kids into part-time private school, because we had been homeschooling up until that point. God knew it was time for me to begin this inner healing, and that I was going to need help with the kids.

As the pain of the reality of my childhood began to be revealed my life came screeching to a stop. The world as I knew it was no longer the same. I began to understand the reason I was so angry and wanted so desperately to die at a young age. I had repressed memories so horrible that I really was unsure that they could have happened to me, because I did not want to believe that such horror could be true. It seemed like something from a movie that would happen to someone else, not to me. But the memories explained so much about who I was and what I believed. They explained why I was afraid of people and getting hurt, why I wanted to lash out at those I loved so easily. I knew they were real and not something forced or imagined because Jesus was right there in the middle of it, speaking truth into my heart, where it needed it the most. These memories were deeply repressed for a reason, but they were now coming out in God’s perfect timing for my inner healing.

And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

John 8:32

I have discovered many things about myself in these past 8 months of inner healing. It has been quite a journey for me. I am now coming into a place where I am finding hope and functioning normally again for the first time in months. I began to gain weight and feel physically awful because I eat nothing but junk because cooking or meal planning was not something I could handle. So we ate lots of fast food and dessert, because it felt good and was easy. I am not done excavating memories that horrify me and bring up deep pain, but the work Jesus has done inside of me is a miracle. I am able to keep moving forward towards the end goal of being whole and complete in Jesus Christ. He has a wonderful plan for me, and Satan has been unsuccessful in thwarting it.

I have discovered many things about myself, my family, and my views of the world and other people. Satan has done a great work at trying to beat me down and steal me from God. It worked for a long time, but those days are over. That is just what he does, and he will never stop trying to rip apart God’s children. There are many people out there who have suffered for so long in shame and silence because they were afraid to talk about the horrible things that had been done to them. There are others who have an inkling somewhere inside, that they have something horrible hidden inside of them, that has caused them suffering for far too long. Satan has kept them in the dark, and bound in pain, but I say no more. You were not meant to live that life. You were meant to live in the light of Jesus Christ, who has died to save you and has a wonderful plan for you. Are you ready to come closer to Him, and see what He has waiting for you?

I am here to tell you that it is OK, and you are not alone. God is here with you right now, and He loves you so much. He knows your pain, your suffering, your guilt and shame, your fears and betrayals, and has experienced them all right there with you. And even though you think He was never there, that you were all alone, that is a lie. He was there. He was protecting you in ways that you cannot even fathom at this moment. But one day you will see how amazing your God is, and how far He has gone to help you. And when that day comes you will fall down on your knees in tears thanking Him for His love because you will be so overwhelmed by the intense love God has for you. It may not seem possible right now, but He truly will redeem all the years the locusts ate, and turn them around to use them for your good, and to glorify Himself!

“I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten—the great locust and the young locust, the other locusts and the locust swarm—my great army that I sent among you.

Joel 2:25

I am not yet ready to publicly open up about the things I have learned during my inner healing. I am not yet done with my inner healing. I have just now come to a place where I can accept that this is who I am and this is my story. For me that is huge. I know that God will have me finish my testimony here on my blog, to share it with the world. For now it would be too painful, and I am waiting for His perfect timing. I can only tell you that I now understand why I was so obsessed with death and was so deep into witchcraft and the occult for most of my life. The devil tried hard to steal God’s purpose for my life, to kill me, and to destroy all my hope. But I am here to say that he failed completely. Sure I have bad days still. I even have days where I find it hard to function sometimes or feel far away from God, and even blame Him, but those days are getting less and less. The devil did not steal my purpose away, because here I am, telling you about it on this blog that God gave me, so that you too can have hope. I did lose my hope for a while, and I may have days where I find it failing, but I believe in God’s promises to me. He has begun to redeem the hell of my life, and He will finish His good work in me.

inner healingIn all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Philippians 1:4-6

Trust in your loving Father and know He will finish His work in you as well. Continue to seek His face and the freedom and healing that He created you for. God has a perfect plan to bring you that place, through deliverance, counseling, inner healing and prayer, He will give you the peace and victorious life you have been promised. Never give up, never stop praying for His help, and never stop searching for His truth. Be as persistent as the widow who continued to ask the judge for justice. God will prevail, you can count on it! Be blessed in His holy name brothers and sisters!!

O Lord my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me.

Psalm 30:2