Saturday, November 8, 2014

A Society of the Victim Mentality

Have you ever sat back and just took a long, hard look at our society and the decaying stench that it wreaks and wonder how we got to this place in society? Have you noticed how it's never anybody's fault for what they've done? Have you noticed how it's everyone else's fault for the way someone has turned out, for how they act, for who they become, for all of their problems? Have you noticed that the victimizers become the victims? Have you noticed that there's rarely real consequences for the actions of those that are actually the perpetrators, for those who have done wrong, or for those who walk around mistakenly believing they deserve it all with their hands out? Have you noticed the increasing amount of people who declare that they "deserve" everything because they are OWED it all? Well, I have and I'm saddened by what I've been seeing. It's progressively getting worse with each passing year. If you haven't taken notice, maybe now is a good time to start.

I want to start off by pointing out that we ALL are a VICTIM of something in our lives! This is one thing none of us can escape no matter how we try. Every single person in this fallen world has been hurt, oppressed, wronged, abused, used, sexually violated, abandoned, rejected, hated, battered, robbed, shunned, terrorized, and a number of other causes of victimization that labels us a victim. Some have been a victim to many things while others only a few but we ALL have been a victim. So then why do some people end up choosing to remain a victim? Why do some people end up victimizing others as a result of their own hardships? Why do some people end up living their lives AS a VICTIM rather than breaking free from the chains that bind them? It's important to note that no one escapes becoming a victim to "something" or OF "something" but we ALL can escape the chains that bind us and keep us in that place.

In John 5:6, Jesus says, "When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, ‘Do you want to be made well?" In the book of John chapter 5 it gives us a clear view about a place called Bethesda, a supernatural city where an angel would eventually come down and stir the waters. That has always fascinated my inquisitive mind to just imagine an angel coming down from heaven to literally stir up the waters is something of a beautiful picture that forever remains in my mind! This is where Jesus found a man laying by a pool, along with many others, sick and diseased in varying degrees and in various ways. When the angel would swoop down and touch the waters to stir them, the first person to jump in was healed of whatever disease or infirmity they had! Talk about an amazing opportunity for an instant healing!

In this chapter and verse, it shows how Jesus walked up to a man who had been afflicted with an infirmity for thirty eight years. This disease gripped this man for most of his life. One thing Jesus knew is how easy it was, is and could be, for someone who has a disease for a long time to end up wrapping their whole identity around their disease. It happened then and it is still happening today. What comes against us, and something will, or has, can easily end up becoming a part of our identity, a part of who we believe we are, if we are not discerning enough. By that, I mean, simply put, we become comfortable with the very thing that holds us down or back from what God wants us. We BECOME what our bondage is, we become our own victim.

Want to Be Healed?
As you can see, the question that Jesus asks confronts the victim mindset right from the start. When you read this account, it may seem like Jesus is being a little bit uncaring, or even indifferent to the plight of this man, or at least by our modern day standards with our modern day minds. He doesn't ask for the man’s story. No need for intake to be done regarding what kind of factors even got him to this place. His question hits to the core of the man’s heart and motivation, point blank. “Do you want to be made well?” He cuts right to the heart of the matter, Do you REALLY want to be healed? That, my dear readers, is the key question for ALL of us. Do we REALLY want to be healed of whatever is holding us captive in bondage and keeping us a victim? That takes a lot of soul searching, being brutally honest with yourself and digging deep into the recesses of our hearts for things that will answer that question.

Now from my point of view, when reading that one simple question that Jesus asked the man, "Do you want to be made well?" seemed like such a simple question to actually answer with an emphatic YES! YES! YES! I WANT TO BE MADE WELL! But, reality hits and it's not so easy. Jesus asked a CLOSED ENDED question. Yes or No. But that's not what kind of answer He received from this man. Instead, the man replied, in John 5:7, "The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; but while I am coming, another steps down before me." The sick man felt a need to EXPLAIN the "why" instead of just answering YES. This is what we all do from time to time. We explain instead of just answering. Some NEVER answer while others eventually do. Now by not answering Jesus with a resounding yes, what we hear instead, is victimization telling Jesus a STORY.

You see, Jesus just needed a yes or a no. If he wanted an explanation, He would have asked for one. But He didn't ask for an explanation, He just asked a simple closed ended yes or no question. Victimization doesn't answer those kinds of questions, because it draws a thick line in the sand of what would be a requirement from this day moving forward. If he says yes, well, then he is personally responsible, and accountable, from now on. If he says no, he'd look like a fool to everyone. So instead of either of those possibilities, he gives Jesus a list of reasons WHY he hasn't been able to get into the pool. Sounds a lot like our society today, doesn't it? Instead of just answering a "yes" or "no" to help that was offered, a story was offered in it's place by the "victim." All of us, if we aren't careful, can carry within us a story that isn't the story God has given us.

The story we carry could be sprinkled, or even littered, with soiled chapters of unhealed pain, unresolved brokenness, distorted perspectives and limited thinking. We can carry that story with us into many different situations, into many different kinds of relationships and, ultimately, projecting it onto future encounters. That "baggage" is a heavy load for us to carry, let alone projecting onto the innocent people we come into contact with and we shouldn't expect them to carry theirs AND ours too! Hurt people ALWAYS hurt others. The man had a chance to address his story and replace it with the story that Christ was bringing to him, a beautiful story of healing and wholeness instead of the illness and brokenness that he was carrying around with him most of his life. It's the same exact story that our God is bringing to all of us today, but we really have to ask ourselves the same question. Do I really want to be healed? It doesn't matter what the story is or how you got where you are today because we all have a story. What REALLY matters is if you WANT, if you DESIRE, to be HEALED.

The idea of a victim mentality first arose in Adam, perhaps being the best illustration, in the first ever sin, recorded in Genesis 3:12-13, "And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. v13) And the Lord God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat." Then Adam blames Eve and God, and essentially Eve blames the snake. The CLEAR Principle here is take responsibility for your actions! Before I move on, let's take a look at a few other relevant principles in the Bible.

Galatians 6:5, "For each one shall bear their own load." This principle is not to transfer your burdens onto others.
2 Thessalonians 3:10, "For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat." This principle is to not rely on the hard work of others but to earn your own way. If you're able to work, then you earn your keep.
Psalm 32:9, "Do not be like the horse or like the mule, Which have no understanding, Which must be harnessed with bit and bridle, Else they will not come near you." This principle is to think for yourself!
Matthew 25:14-30 (parable of the talents) in v 24-25, "“Then he who had received the one talent came and said, ‘Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25 And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours.’" One man just buried his talent instead of putting it to use, blaming God for it! The principle here is don't blame others, take responsibility yourself!

I think those examples are pretty clear on what principles have been set before us and how Jesus does not want us to be victims because He overcame the sin of this world through His voluntary sacrifice on the Cross! His shed blood is covering us. His shed blood makes us victors! He IS victorious! In 2 Samuel 9, we read the story of King David and Mephibosheth. Mephibosheth was the son of Jonathan and the grandson of the first king of Israel, King Saul. After Jonathan’s death, David went forward to show kindness to Saul’s house. At the tender age of 5, Mephibosheth became lame. He lived his entire life as a cripple. When David calls him forward, Mephibosheth says, “What is thy servant, that thou shouldest look upon such a dead dog as I am?” Why did he ask that? Why did he have such a response? Well, because his whole identity was completely based on his own disability, when in fact he was the grandson of a king! But because he was so wrapped up in his own disability, he'd forgotten his royal lineage and was wallowing in self pity. Yet David looked beyond his disability and recognized who he was, and offered him a place at the King’s table.

How much time do we spend wallowing in our own self pity, moaning and groaning about the things that we struggle with on a daily basis? For many, it's so much so that it becomes who they are! This is the plot of the enemy, who is our adversary. It's exactly what the enemy would love nothing more to do than to keep us focused on our disabilities, on our brokenness, on our "issues," on our baggage, so that we are distracted from the calling of God on our lives. See, when we focus on being a victim, then the enemy becomes the victor. He is NOT victorious! He has only the amount of power over us that WE ALLOW! He wants us to have a “victim mentality.” If he can keep us as a "victim" then he can control the reins of our daily distractions, making us weaker and weaker and more distant from the Lord's will for our lives. But let’s not lose focus of the reality of who we are. In Jesus, we are a chosen generation, we are part of a royal priesthood, and the King has offered us a place at His table! We are heirs of His great throne! We ARE royalty because we are HIS! Look FORWARD, NOT behind!

Responsibility and Accountability
Let's talk a minute about being "disabled." One's disability need not be just physical. It can be emotional, spiritual, mental and then the physical disability. MOST people tend to associate the word "disabled" with the physicality of it's meaning because, like many, people are visual creatures by nature. One's disability varies and we shouldn't focus on just the outside, on what we can visually see, but we also need to look at the others as well. Those are mainly the ones that predict the "victim mentality" outcome. I say that because blaming someone else for your actions is not a physical disability, it's an emotional one. Blaming God for something that you chose to do or chose to disobey Him, is not a physical disability, it's a spiritual disability. Blaming hearing voices telling someone to do something is not a physical disability, but a mental disability. You see my point and where I'm going with this? The emotional, spiritual and mental disabilities are harder to "see" or "recognize" in others and so labels get put on them, they fall victim to being a victim and learn how to use that to their advantage. It happens all the time.

Now don't get me wrong, I KNOW fully that there are some REAL disabilities and REAL disorders that need professional help and treatment. Real abuse/disabilities have existed, and will exist, until the end of time. There are abusers/victims/disabilities in every strata of society, church and family. I KNOW there are REAL physical disabilities that also require professional treatment and help. I am not speaking about those because there are just some things that are out of our control. This post is not in any way speaking of those kinds of disabilities. However, I would like to point out that even the people with THOSE disabilities, can, and have been, healed by the Grace of God! He IS the ultimate HEALER! But having a disability of any kind, doesn't need to be, and shouldn't, be a crutch for skirting one's own responsibilities and being held accountable for one's actions. For EVERY adverse action, there is a consequence.

Disabilities brings me to a term that I really, really feel great passion about....LABELS. I'm going to spend a little time on this because it really ties into the "victim mentality" and how society had, and still has, a major role to play in its conception. A dear friend of mine knows this passion of mine all too well! I will point out that there are good labels and bad labels that are put on others and ourselves. Sometimes, because of some of the labels and how they make us feel, we add our own labels to the mix and end up an emotional wreck. And the opposite of that is true as well. Sometimes we hone in on a specific "good" label and add our own narcissistic ones and become so seemingly overly "perfect" that we lose who we really are because of how we NEED others to see us. Perfectionists. My focus is on the damaging labels because we all like and need good ones in our lives! A warm fuzzy, if you will! But even "good" labeling sometimes is heavily burdensome. So, one's identity can also boil down to a SINGLE LABEL and not just to a "disability"! When that label is a hurtful label, then that identity is immersed in lies. Lies, you ask? Yes. Lies. The enemy at work yet again!

Let's take for an example someone being labeled "crazy." That label is carried throughout their whole lives. They hear it, they see how others react to them, they feel rejected. The label that has been given to them hinders them. It hurts them. It makes them feel "less than." It slows down their growth as a human being and as a spiritual being. They then become that very label, whether it's true or not. Whether it's a real disorder or just that they're unique in their own way. By them becoming the label they have been given, they fall into a cycle of being a victim. Why? Well, they don't need to take responsibility for their actions because all they have to say is, "It's not my fault because I'm crazy." They don't need to be held accountable, and most of the time aren't held accountable in the same manner that another one would be, because all the courts and lawyers and mental health professionals have to say is, "Well it's not their fault because they're crazy. Mentally ill. They aren't able to understand." It doesn't matter if they can, if they can't or if they are. What matters is that they are a now a "victim" in a society of victims. What matters is oftentimes, the victimizers become the victims by default. They become whatever label, or in MANY cases LABELS, they are given and in turn become victims with a victim mentality. Remember, I'm not talking about the genuine disorders and disabilities out there. A label is nothing more than a hindrance to the person it's attached to and ultimately to the society in which they are living in. A hindrance is a bad thing and it's sometimes extremely hard to leave behind.

In John 7:53–8:11, we meet an unnamed woman. In the Bible, this section might be titled "The Woman Caught in Adultery" or "The Adulterous Woman." That titling is an accurate reflection of how she was seen by others. When the crowd holding the rocks looked at her, they didn't see her, as the person. They saw adultery, full stop. They saw the ACTION. The SIN. The CHOICE. At this point, I'd like to mention that SIN is also a disability. It disables us spiritually because it holds us back from what Jesus wants for us. It disables us by shame. It disables us by guilt. It disables our spiritual discernment. It disables our love towards others. It disables our desire for cleansing. Spiritually, having a disability can cripple our walk with the Lord! Now we all know what this woman felt like to one degree or another. Being labeled something because of a sin, an ongoing sin struggle, an unwise choice, or a past mistake. All we think is "when people look at me, this is all they see." Well my friends, Jesus is in the business of dealing with our labels. He's in the business with dealing with our disabilities. The woman in the story DID sin and she was caught in the act red handed. She, nor anyone else, was denying her guilt in the matter. According to the Jewish law, the punishment she deserved was to be stoned, even if those "religious" leaders of her time, were a little out of whack spiritually.

Jesus was about to teach her all about grace, but in order to do that, He wanted to get to the heart of this issue. His grace was bigger than her sin because His grace IS bigger than any of our sins!! He overcame our sins with His blood! Most of us know that the punishment for sin is death as it is stated in Romans 6:23, "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." Life is His free GIFT. Instead of death, Jesus offered the adulterous woman forgiveness. In just this one offer of forgiveness, we see Jesus' compassion and love for the sinner. So did her sins go unpunished? Did He let her off the hook? After all, that's what the entire crowd of accusers was worried about because they wanted justice. However, it is good to point out that what OUR earthly ideas are of justice being done is not in comparison to what is just in the eyes of God's justice system! We know, and we see, God is both loving and just. He didn't let her off the hook. He offered to hang there on the Cross for her instead. The theological word for what Jesus offered her that day is propitiation. Which means . . . full payment. He paid her sin debt in FULL! 1 John 4:10 says it this way: "In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins." He MAKES the full payment for our sin-debt. He IS the sin-debt payment. That's why this encounter is so radical because Jesus is God and He was the only one within the crowd on that day with the authority to condemn her. He didn't though. Instead, He dealt with her labels. Ah those labels!

Labels can also become disabling. So you can see how they intertwine with each other. One is used for a crutch to the other. I mentioned above how disabilities of all kinds can easily turn someone into a victim with a victim mentality. The biggest reason is that it becomes easier to remain in their disability because it's comfortable and they sometimes fear change. CHANGE can be disabling as well because if one fears how their life will change drastically by becoming more responsible, then it can also keep them stagnant in their lives. Those are the types that I'm referencing to in this post. The ones who SAY they want healed of their disabilities, infirmities and the like BUT do they REALLY?

Let's take for instance someone who is on disability. Someone who significantly improved from their original problem. They haven't worked in maybe a few years or even more, but their condition isn't so disabling as it maybe once was but they always seem to state that they want to be freed from their disabilities or be healed. Maybe they even ask the Lord to be healed but don't recognize the improvements that He has ALREADY done, either that or they don't want to see it. So I've been in contact with people like this and the question I've posed to them is, "Do you really want to be healed?" Their immediate response was YES of course! Well, then came the difficult part of this story.....and example. "Well, are you truly willing to give up your disability check if you get healed and no longer have this disease? Or if you are significantly improved and your disabling condition is managed?” Someone's TRUE reaction to this question is indicative of whether they're living with the "victim mentality" or not. They may ponder how their disease/condition/disability has actually developed and grown into a whole world of its own of perceived needed provisions that may be challenging to let go of. They became comfortable in the place they were living at mentally, physically and spiritually.

I am not trying to knock getting financial or medical help. That is NOT the point here. I firmly believe there are serious conditions, disabilities and diseases that require financial assistance and medical help. Those are the people that need it and should receive all the resources available to them! My purpose of what I'm trying to do and accomplish is getting to the root of whether or not someone really wants to be healed, truly, because with healing comes a new lifestyle, new responsibilities and an entirely new way of living. It also requires an entirely new way of THINKING. A lot of times people want the healing, but don’t want to embrace what a healed life looks like. That's what a victim promotes. They promote their need for rescuing with very little personal participation. Some people find it much easier to be an invalid, to be labeled and to be disabled by a society because they get plenty of attention while shedding all their responsibilities. If God is healing you, or has significantly improved your condition, there is nothing to fear. Start out slowly if you must but know that you should help improve your ability to support yourself or your family with the help of the Lord. You may still require some assistance while getting back into the swing of things but it's much better to do the will of God and BE IN the will of God than it is to remain in a disabling state of being which is not where He wants to you stay especially if He's already healed you or is possibly healing you now.

Can you see how labeling someone and having a disability go hand in hand? How they are a compliment to one another? How they can debilitate one's sense of self worth? How they CHANGE one's ATTITUDE towards themselves and the society in general? Attitude plays a part in whether one chooses to remain a victim with a victim mentality or chooses to become the victor. Sometimes it really is a choice. If you give someone a label long enough, they become that label and in turn that label becomes their disability. Their crutch. Their rock. Let's look back at the man by the pool for a moment. Why did Jesus ask that most important question to this man of whether he wanted to be healed? Is it possible to be paralyzed for 38 years and not want to be well? ABSOLUTELY and here's a few reasons why that is possible. I'm not saying this is for everyone, but think about what I'm really saying here.
1) The man had got used to his way of life. He became comfortable with what he knew and his way of life. The poolside was a familiar environment to him because the people he knew best were there. The man was a fixture - even something of a what we would term a celebrity. He had been seen waiting for the moving of the waters for so long that others saw him in the way he was presenting himself.
2) The paralyzed man's disability was his livelihood. It stirred up the sympathy of others and drew attention to him, not just to his disability. It's even possible that some of the regular visitors to the pool to dispense charity even admired him for the length of time he'd been going there. I'm sure he had a group of loyal people around him.
3) It's highly unlikely that this disabled man was prepared to meet the new challenges of a new life. He would need to find a job and support himself. In some ways for him, this seemed harder and much more demanding, than begging. And so he found it easier to remain disabled.

I bring you to this connection of the attitude because you will soon see how that plays a part in breaking free from the "victim mentality." The disabled man didn't respond positively or enthusiastically to the question Jesus asked of him. He didn't cry out, "Yes! Yes! Yes! I would give anything to be better." His heart didn't have the thrill of anticipation of actually being healed. But, instead, he told Jesus his hard luck story. Now remember, we all have a hard luck story to tell! The man had it ready to go because he told it often. Keep in mind that it pretty much made him kind of a celebrity at the pool of Bethesda. For 38 years, he'd been unable to take advantage of the up welling and stirred waters of the thermal spring by the angel. He didn't have any friends to help and someone else always beat him to it. He tells his story this way because he SEES himself as a helpless victim of his handicap and isolation. He became comfortable in the story and became the storyline. He wasn't willing to acknowledge the help he had to have received along the way in order to survive for so long. Someone must have moved him to the toilet, to be bathed and got him food. Did he really try hard enough to get down into the healing water? See he hoped to arouse and stir up some pity in Jesus and get a generous donation. The man's attitude wasn't in line with what he desired or what he said he desired. His attitude was self pity and that others needed to feel the same.

It is easy to develop a victim mentality and to allow a mental, physical, emotional and spiritual disability to rule our lives. Individually or in combination, however, I would like to point out that if there's a disability in one area, you are sure to find a disability in another area. We can give in to that illness, weaknesses of disposition or to circumstances. Or we can overcome. We can choose not to be a statistic. There are an innumerable amount of people who rise above their circumstances and refuse to be victims. In some cases, one's disability stems directly from circumstances. Look at the apostle Paul and how he continued on in his missionary journeys in spite of his thorn in the flesh. God's grace was sufficient for him. And God's Grace is sufficient for you too! We can use a disability for an unworthy purpose by trying to arouse sympathy, shirk responsibility, shying away from being accountable and excuse unworthy behavior. There is a growing tendency for juvenile delinquents to cite child abuse in mitigation for their criminal behavior. There is a growing tendency for adult criminals to incite mental abuse, emotional abuse or any form of physical abuse to shirk their responsibilities for their criminal actions. It doesn't stop there though because this "victim mentality" in our society is growing exponentially. You ever hear of supply and demand? This theory could easily be applied to this topic of discussion.

The number of "disability" disorders, conditions and diseases keep increasing each year. With the number of new diagnosis' there has to be a number of people TO diagnose. Everywhere you look, every corner you turn, someone is being diagnosed with something. Once again, I'm NOT speaking of the known disabling disorders, diseases or disabilities. I have great compassion for those souls! And for their caretakers as well! I'm strictly speaking of all of the other degrees that fall under "titles" and "labels" and "disabilities." Mental illness and physical handicaps/disabilities are very REAL and they should be treated as such! But I've found that many of those who are "victim mentality" living, mainly just have "issues." We ALL have issues, unresolved, irritating, frustrating issues. They don't warrant becoming a victim nor do they warrant being disabled. And they certainly don't warrant a disability. I have seen and heard how many people "work the system" in order to get a check, food, or any number of assistance out there to help those in need, just so they don't have to work and provide for themselves. They want to ride on the backs of others' hard work instead of doing what they need to do for themselves. The same is true for some criminals who truly are shirking their responsibilities for their actions. They seek out a "mental diagnosis" and where there's a demand, there is a supply! I've also seen some who, as soon as they saw improvement in themselves, wanted to get up and get back into the workforce, supporting themselves and/or families. I've also seen how the system became cracked and eventually broke because of the number of people being diagnosed with something. Those who have taken advantage of the system and who worked the system made it, and still makes it today, DIFFICULT for those who are really in NEED to get that help they desperately need and deserve.

The society we live in has this crazy need to diagnose everyone for anything remotely matching what someone may be going through. I just told my friend that I could scan through a million diagnoses and eventually find and become one that I could fit into. We ALL would. Why is that? Why is it that I could become "labeled" when I'm NOT mentally or emotionally disabled? Well, we go back to supply and demand and the victim mentality. There has been so many that have been diagnosed with some form of an illness that wasn't warranted. Just looking through the DSM, which is basically the Psychiatry's bible, one would find just how this is doing more HARM than good! Each year it seems there's a "new" disorder, a new mental illness. If something is wrong, find a label, slap it on and become that disability. These people are then thrown into the same society that they were plucked out of and let loose to work the system as being labeled disabled. Then get medicated so you don't know if you really are disabled or healed.

Yes, I have  a passion for this part of society because in my years, I've seen how the LACK of accountability, and the lack of responsibility, has hurt our society. It's hurt groups of people. It's hurt nations. It's also gotten worse. Shirking responsibility and accountability for our own actions and conditions has nothing to do with God’s precepts for our lives, regardless of the form we may cling to! I've watched people with normal issues, with normal problems, crippled because they've been forced through a system they didn't need to be forced through. Sad. Very sad. By the time they did break through, it wasn't long before they fell back into their old "comfortable ways." I really saw a shift in this area in the mid to late '80's. People who had been arbitrarily slapped with a psychiatric label were, and are, struggling because of it. As of 2012, there were 374 psychiatric labels and I'm CERTAIN there are many more being added to that list as we speak and since that time. Receiving any of the those psychiatric labels, from nicotine dependence disorder to far end of the spectrum schizophrenia, can cost someone their health insurance, job, custody of their children, self-worth, self-esteem or their right to make their own medical and legal decisions. And if patients take psychiatric drugs, they also risk developing physical disorders as well, such as diabetes, heart problems, liver problems, weight gain and other serious conditions. Not to mention they can become addicted, and there's another label, and another disability. So, in light of the subjectivity of these diagnoses and the harm they can and do cause, we really should be extremely skeptical, and cautious, of them. Especially in the event of a misdiagnosis or just having issues because sometimes those are the very reasons one gets diagnosed with a mental disorder in the first place....issues. Some years ago, I did some extensive research on this topic and it was disheartening to say the least. It's becoming routine to classify almost everything aside from happiness, as a disorder. That's why it's possible for the entire population to be labeled.....and be victimized.

It would be less troubling if such diagnoses helped patients, if they helped in specific circumstances, but getting a label oftentimes hinders recovery. It can lead therapists to focus solely on narrow checklists of symptoms, giving little consideration for what is causing the patient’s suffering in the first place. I'm going to take a bold stand here and make this statement. Because of the DSM guide and checklist of symptoms and the lack of truly finding the underlying cause of one's suffering, the SAME patient diagnosed with, say bi-polar for example, by one doctor would be diagnosed with something totally different by another! That's why there seems to be so many "doctor" hoppers. However, by the time they've finished going from doctor to doctor, they've been labeled so much that it's inevitable that they will become at least one of them. Many therapists see patients through the DSM prism, trying to shoehorn a human being into a category. Interestingly, even the writers of psychology’s authoritative manual on mental illness, The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), cannot agree on what constitutes a mental illness. People have a need for categories and labels. As something of interest, I will share something written way back in 1994 as a way to gauge what things were already like in changing the face of mental illness diagnoses. Allen Frances, lead editor of the current 2012 DSM, defends his manual as grounded in science, but at times has even acknowledged its lack of scientific rigor and the over-diagnosing that has followed. He said, “Our net was cast too wide,” Frances wrote in a 2010 Los Angeles Times op-ed, referring to the EXPLOSION of diagnoses that led to “false ‘epidemics’ ” of attention deficit disorder, autism and childhood bipolar disorder. Then in the current manual, released in 1994, he wrote, “captured many ‘patients’ who might have been far better off never entering the mental health system.” Frances has even said that “there is no definition of a mental disorder. . . . These concepts are virtually impossible to define precisely.” 

Now let's get back to walking into WHOLENESS. Jesus heals the man by the pool, but the Bible doesn't say that He JUST healed him, but that Jesus makes him WHOLE. God is actually interested in all around wholeness. That's the COMPLETION of the healing! For most, we think the story is over and we move on to the next event. But Jesus actually runs into him at the temple and gives him a very interesting instruction. Afterward Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, “See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you.” John 5:14. Jesus was making sure he understood that he was healed despite his sin issues, but that if he didn't watch out his sin issue could easily rise up again, and this time he would be sicker than he was before. As I thought about that, I pondered "Is there anything WORSE than being an invalid for 38 YEARS?!" Well, apparently there IS. One of the sin issues this man carried was that he saw all portions of his life as a victim, and through a victim's eyes. This view didn't leave any room for love, hope and faith to operate fully in his life. It gave no room for Jesus. When we live as victims, we carry unbelief. Unbelief denies the real possibility of our own situation being able to be changed. We lose hope, we even lose sight of our purpose, and end up believing the lies that we don't have any more viable options available to us. Just like the man who was healed, we need to understand that we need to live as a victor, not as a victim. Oftentimes, part of our healing process involves renouncing the sin of a victim mindset.

Psychology is a secular practice. Psychology informs the construct of mental illness with a secular, materialistic worldview. Most secular clinicians don't even believe, or acknowledge, that people are spiritual beings who live all of their life under the authority of a God who created them and holds them accountable. Denying the Divine and the spiritual requires them to see all problems as physical and organic in nature. To them, worry isn't sinful; it is a proven organic mental illness that requires medical intervention. Sorrow isn't even spiritual; it's a simply a medical problem that ultimately requires a pharmacological solution. It's "science" and science is not an exact. It's a variable. Jesus is NOT a variable. I believe that as Christians, we must be responsible with who we choose to seek out IF we believe there are problems that are disabling us because seeking out a secular therapist will get you secular or worldly advice, counsel and help. Seeking out Christian therapists and counselors will get you Bible based, Scriptural counseling, advice and help because Jesus is the center and the focus.

Because of the victim mentality that has been ramping up in the past decade or more, it's been the cause of all kinds of laws being implemented, changed, enforced and created.  Since the beginning of time, Satan has used a deceitful and powerful weapon to catch people in a web of self-pity and "victim mentality".  It continues like gangrene through our present day and we are so tantalized by its "gentle force" that all of us are susceptible. It’s becoming increasingly frustrating listening to those who would choose victim-hood over freedom. It's a choice of attitude, and those who truly have been hurt, who are truly victims, who are truly living with disorders and who are legitimately offended are often the first ones to lead by example. By that I mean they are usually the one's expressing their choice to bypass victim-hood and to live in light. Meanwhile, a society often diminishes true suffering when it elevates simple childishness, hurt feelings and common unresolved issues to "victimization." The "victim mentality" has infected the entire culture because it's been left unchecked! See mental, emotional, and spiritual disorders/disabilities is in the realm of abuse and it's no longer clearly defined. It’s become quite arbitrary and severely subjective, even in the legal circles, and those who choose to see beyond their own offenses are belittled for not being a victim enough. Victim-hood, rather than victory, is what is encouraged. This is the society we live in and it's the culture that has been slowly cultivated to help with the supply and demand.

Your Ability Should be Your Response
When we view ourselves as a victim and operate in the "victim mentality" it ultimately allows us to excuse our behavior and it gives permission to let our society define who we are rather than being defined in Jesus! By viewing ourselves as a victim, as someone disabled by one thing or another, then everything can justified. Didn't Satan convince Eve she was a victim of God’s plan by disobeying making her feel a lack of privilege to eat the fruit? Eve blamed the snake and Adam blamed Eve and God. Thus both becoming victims.....we are NOT our labels! We are NOT our disabilities! We are NOT victims but rather victors! Our attitudes need to change. When attitudes change, so, too, does a society. When a society changes, the culture changes! Jesus really can heal all of these problems. In fact, His is the only healing available. Our culture believes that mental illnesses point to biology and require medical intervention. Those who are in the biblical counseling movement are really the only ones who know that the construct of mental illness actually has to do with the problems of the heart and require the gospel of God’s grace for healing. We need to further understand that it is Jesus alone who can deal with, and heal, all of these differing problems.  In a culture of mental illness we must be the people who point to Jesus "who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed." (1 Peter 2:24).

We all face choices, we can become victims and live in the misery of defeat and shame or we can
break free from the victim mentality and be overcomers. Galatians 4:3-6 says, "Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world. v4) But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born[a] of a woman, born under the law, v5) to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. v6) And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” As Christians, we don't have any business walking in a victim mentality because God has already delivered us from it through the power of Jesus Christ. Jesus broke those bondages for us. Those chains are gone. We don't have to be in bondage to this world because this world belongs to Satan. If we are to go forth as a conquering army then this means each and every single one of us has to walk in the victory that He has given to us. A victim mentality doesn't bring us to victory. If you maintain a victim mentality then guess what? You will remain a victim. God has something MUCH better for you than that. In order to break free from the victim mentality, we need the truth of God's word to set us free from the bondages of our past. The principles of God’s word must become the guiding principles of our lives if we are to truly break this bondage.

Here are just three key principles, even though there are many more, that I'd just like to touch on before I close this post.
1) We Must Face The Pain Of The Past And Deal With It. - We have to be willing to take a good, long, hard look at our lives and discern how much of a victim we have actually become. Then we need to be willing to see what it was that caused us to fall into the snare and begin to deal with it. Hebrews 12:12-15 - "Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, v13) and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed. v14) Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: v15) looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled;"

2) We Must Take Responsibility For Our Lives. -  Romans 14:12 - "So then each of us shall give account of himself to God." No matter who or what may have caused you to fall into a victim mentality, it's ultimately your responsibility to get out of it. You've got to quit blaming others and feeling sorry for yourself and take responsibility for your life. The prodigal son is an example of a person who fell into the trap of a victim, but his victory was predicated on the fact that he took responsibility for his actions. "Luke 15:17-18 - But when he came to himself, he said, 'How many of my father's hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! `I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you..." 

3) We Must Have Clearly Established Goals and Priorities. - Proverbs 21:5 - "The plans of the diligent lead surely to plenty, But those of everyone who is hasty, surely to poverty." If we don't take control of our lives by establishing goals and priorities, circumstances and others will do it for us. 

We live in a society that is producing an exorbitant amount of victims. Daily you hear about it on the news, in the papers, in studies, in churches, in businesses, in families and in courts. This is what the world wants us to be....victims. It's easier to label than it is to conquer! It's easier to remain disabled than it is to be set free into a new life. Jesus overcame! He is the ultimate VICTOR! God has something in store for all of us that is so much greater than succumbing to the elements of the world that already has fallen and belongs to the very one that wants us to become victims with a victim mentality!

Let's be diligent and walk in these Godly principles so that we can be victorious in all that we do. We are not alone. The Lord is right there with you, with us! 

What labels are you wearing today? What disabilities are crippling you mentally? Emotionally? Spiritually? Ask the Lord to reveal them to you so that you may seek His face in asking Him to help you overcome them. Ask the Lord for your victory. Remember don't let the poison of your past ruin the fruits of your future! And don't become another statistic....Satan doesn't need anymore.

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Saturday, October 25, 2014

Halloween and the Covenant with Death

1 Corinthians 10:21, "You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord’s table and of the table of demons."

Ephesians 5:11, "And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them."

I briefly wrote about Halloween a few years back but as each year passed, I noticed a shift in the evil that accompanied this “holiday” that is celebrated by believers and non-believers alike. I went shopping the other day and what smacked me right up side of my head and pushed right in front of my face was these horribly evil displays of Satanism. Yes, that is exactly what I said, Satanism, because that is exactly what it is celebrating! It's Satanic and it's all about the occult. This post may upset some people, it may anger some, but with prayers, it will enlighten more, but as a Christian who DOESN'T celebrate this day, or partake in the "Christian alternative Fall Festival" I feel overwhelmingly compelled to dig a little deeper into this dark pit to point out what this is all about. Clearly and precisely. I advise each of you to pray before continuing because this post will not be light. As a matter of fact, it will be going into places that not many want to go but ironically by attending Halloween events and trick or treat, they are participating and opening doors anyway!

I want to first begin by teaching briefly on the ornaments that are associated with Halloween. This will enlighten you as to the diabolical agenda this holiday has in store for our young ones. And keep in mind, the young ones are the very ones the Devil wants to corrupt, to condition and to steal. I will reference some of the info I will quote from but I will not promote or even give an idea to a curious mind. Where I do quote, and make clear reference to, are those who are NOT in the occult but who are either Christians exposing evil or journalists, historians or the like. I will paraphrase the few others so as not to give the "devil his due" if you will. It's important to hear some “truths” from the mouths of those who speak that language. Unfortunately, it is not the language of God.

Let's first start with the ornaments and then I'll give a little history of the origins of this diabolical celebration. The ornaments decorating Halloween came directly from the Druids and the occult. The popular associations of Halloween are ultimately derived from ancient Celtic and Druid pagan religious customs.
1) Witches - They are NOT harmless and there is NO such thing as a "good" witch. Witches are the queens of Halloween. ALL witches worship the devil. Although many vehemently deny this, it's been said by historians, and well documented in the witch's manual, that their "god" is the "lord of the underworld" (Satan), Baal, Baphomet and Lucifer. Lewis Spence was an author, journalist, anthropological scholar, and politician. He studied mythology and was well versed in the Druids and Celts. In one of his books he stated that some of the confessions of witches, besides their direct worship of the devil, they were obliged to show their abhorrence of the faith they had deserted by trampling on the cross, and blaspheming the saints, and by other profanations. The Lord God’s judgment upon witches should not be taken lightly! Exodus 22:18, "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live."

2) Jack-O-Lantern - These are the kings of Halloween with a very sinister origin dating back to the Druids once again. It arrives from the Druid’s ghastly reverence of the severed human head! They proudly decorated their houses and temples with severed heads and believed that the head housed the soul, hence the light, or candle, in the skull. The original jack-o’-lantern was not a pumpkin or turnip, but rather a severed human head! In the May 1977 issue of National Geographic, p. 603, it said, "Trophy, charm, or ornament, the human head figured prominently in Celtic life. Warriors hung enemy heads on their houses as a show of prowess, and Druids, believing that the head harbored the soul, placed skulls in sanctuaries to ward off evil." Carved and illuminated by a candle, they are symbolic of death and the spirit world. There was another purpose for Jack-O-Lanterns according to author Owen Rachleff. "The candlelit pumpkin or skull... served as a beacon for the sabbat and as a signal to mark those farms and homes that were sympathetic to the Satanists and thus deserving of mercy when the terror of the night (Halloween) began." (The Occult Conceit; page 190).

3) Masks and Costumes - These carry a long history of occult and demonic possession. Masks are specifically used as contacts to the spirit world in order to invite the spirit to "possess" them. In the World Book Encyclopedia, 2005 edition on page 263, it states, "In rituals, a person wearing a mask of a god or spirit often feels possessed by the supernatural being. . ." The early origin of costumes is repulsive. On the evening of October 31st, the Druids, who were the occultic priests and teachers of the Celts, ordered the people to put out their hearth fires. The Druids built a huge new year's bonfire of oak branches, which they considered sacred.  They burned animals, crops and human beings as sacrifices to their sun god Muck Olla and Samhain, their god of death. During this diabolical ceremony the PEOPLE WORE COSTUMES made of animal heads and skins. They then practiced divination, looked for omens in the struggle of the victims sacrificed in the fires, jumped over the flames or dashed through them, danced and sang. All of this was done to frighten the evil spirits away. In the 11th edition of Encyclopedia Britannica, volume 12, page 8578 it states, "It was the Druids belief that on the eve of this festival (November 1st, Celtic New Year) Saman, lord of death, called together the wicked souls (Spirits) that within the past twelve months had been condemned to inhabit the bodies of animals." Saman would then send these evil spirits to attack people on the eve before the November 1st celebration. The only way these people could escape was by assuming disguises and looking like evil spirits themselves. (See Christianity Today, October 22, 1982, p.32). Costumes and masks are getting generally more bloody, gory, and depraved each year. Unfortunately, the gruesome and grotesque and the occult are increasingly glorified in American society, not only on Halloween, but throughout the year. Costumes of ANY kind is still a representation of this original "sin."

4) Bats - One of the more prevalent animal shapes that are commonly used by these demons (or "familiars," as they are actually called) was the bat. Specifically the vampire bat when it was discovered in the 17th century. Bats and their blood were also used in the casting of spells (especially those of black magick). Tales of bats that drank blood circulated throughout Europe for centuries before the discovery of the vampire bat but it wasn't until the Spanish exploration of Central and South America that there was actual physical proof of their existence. So, it then became a natural association for a very dark holiday, a creature that lapse the life blood of it's prey in the dark of night.

5) Bobbing for Apples - This is also, not surprisingly, rooted in Pagan Druid and Celtic history. They valued highly, apple magick. According to the Atlanta Journal & Constitution, Associated Press quote, October 16, 1977, in A.D. 43 the Roman Empire was in solid control of the Celtic people. As a result of this control the idol worshipping Romans introduced another ceremony honoring their false gods to the already demoniacal Druid New Year's celebration. It was in honor of their goddess of fruit trees. They would try to grasp fruit, floating in water, without the use of their hands. This is the origin of BOBBING FOR APPLES. It also appears to have originated in the British Isles (Ireland and Scotland in particular), and that it originally had something to do with divination (fortune telling).

6) Owls - It's been historically documented that on Halloween night, the demons took the form of owls and were said to have traveled with Witches and their cats. Some were even believed to be Witches in disguise. Once again, this is referencing to some degree, familiar spirits which are NOT of the Lord God! An interest point to be noticed here is the owl was called a strix by the Romans. This word means "Witch." Ironically, or not, Bohemian Grove is a secret meeting place of "high elites" and their "mock" sacrifices and rituals are done around a huge giant OWL. Many a presidents and elite entertainers have said to have attended these meetings. One doesn't have to search too much to find this to be true.

7) Black Cats - In the 1959 edition of World Book Encyclopedia, under Halloween, it was noted that Druid priests believed that cats were once human beings but were reincarnated as punishment for evil deeds. Because of this they held cats sacred and involved them in their idol worship of October 31st and November 1st. Druids believed "the cat was sacred and...that cats had once been changed from being human & reincarnated into that form as a punishment for evil deeds."

8) Trick or Treat - If, for some reason, you'd forgotten to dress up or couldn't fool the demons by dressing in animal skins or other disguises, there was a sure way of exorcising them. You needed to set out a TREAT of food and fruit, and provide the wandering spirit with shelter for the night. Basically inviting a demon to reside for the night IN your HOME! If the demon was content and satisfied with the TREAT you offered, they would not TRICK you by casting an evil spell on you. In a shocking account of Trick or Treat written by a former witch, Irene Park,  she says, "...the Druids in Ireland would go through the neighborhoods and countryside on the eve of October 31st to collect offerings to Satan. They would carry lanterns, bags of money, and canes with very sharp points on the ends (currently known as leprechaun staffs, good luck horns, or fairies' wands). At each house, they would demand a specific amount. If the household would not or could not give the offering (penance or treat), the Druid would use the cane to castrate the male human or one of their prize animals." (From; Seven High Pagan Masses and Halloween by Irene A. Park; page 1) 

Jack Roper, occult researcher with C.A.R.I.S. (Christian Apologetics: Research & Information Service) says "...the time of the year where you have the highest rate of Satanic ritual crimes is Halloween. Around Halloween, one of the things you see are graveyard desecrations." And something else he said that put it very simply, "You would never see Jesus at a Halloween party. Halloween parties in churches are an abomination to the Lord." Halloween is an evil day. There is NO way around it! Halloween honors Satan, idol worship, immorality, demonic rituals and human/animal sacrifices. Halloween is not a day I want to celebrate because of what it has stood for and what it stands for today. I don't pass out candy. I don't participate in "Halloween" functions.  I Corinthians 10:20-21, "But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils. v21) 21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord's table and of the table of demons." Despite the public relations campaign to "sell" the public on the "virtues" of witchcraft, modern day witches and Satanists still worship demon gods & goddesses, practice bizarre & immoral sexual rituals, and certain groups offer animal and human sacrifices. Many animal adoption centers as well as the Humane Society will NOT adopt out ANY black cats for the month of October due to their fear of ritualistic abuse. More heinous is if you do a little research on missing children around this time of the year and you will find how those cases increase considerably as opposed to other times of the year. Children are Satan's target audience. PROTECT THEM FROM THIS DAY!

Owen Rachleff  wrote, "Halloween can be, and to many is, a deadly serious affair. [It] originated with pre-Christian Druids or Celts in Northern Europe, who marked the year by four seasonal festivals. The autumn feast took place on November 1st. Early Christians, desiring a part in the traditional festivities, created All Saints' Day to coincide with the pagan rites. Satanists--acting true to form--reversed the Christian procedure. Because November 1st was All Saints' Day (All Souls' Day, November 2nd, memorializes the dead), Satanists established October 31st as and "All Demon's Night." As surely as the Christian martyrs and saints dominated their own holiday, so did the demons permeate the preceding evening. All Hallows' Eve predictably became a time of spells, curses, and horrors for those who did not believe, but for the Satanists, particularly the witches, it was a joyous festival and major sabbat. So it remains in a diluted form, ironically celebrated by Christian society far more vigorously than All Saints' Day." (Quoted from The Occult Conceit - A New Look at Astrology, Witchcraft and Sorcery, by Owen S. Rachleff, from page 189-190.)

The original Halloween was a diabolical night of Baal worship and child sacrifice. And most of our current Halloween customs derived directly from Baal rituals! On November 1st was Samhain (Halloween) and fires were built as a thanksgiving to Baal. Baal is also a synonym for the devil. Halloween glorifies death in worship to Baal or the devil! The Druid festival of Samhain was a celebration of death. Plain and simple. The Druids were savage beasts to put it mildly. Strutting its evil death images of skulls, skeletons, ghosts, demons, devils and incarnate evil, today’s Halloween glorifies Death the same way the ancient times did. If one's eyes can't see this, I pray for the veil to be lifted because the darkness is extra dark on this ungodly holiday. The Samhain was an ancient Celtic harvest festival honoring and glorifying the Lord of the Dead. The May 1977 edition of National Geographic admitted that Samhain was a time when “firstborn children were sacrificed.” The Celts considered November 1st as being the day of death because the leaves were falling, it was getting darker sooner and temperatures were dropping. They believed that on October 31st Samhain assembled the spirits of all who had died during the previous year. They had been confined to inhabit animals' bodies for the past year as their punishment for evil deeds. Then on the eve of the feast of Samhain, October 31st, they were then given permission to return to their former homes to visit the living. Supposedly to protect these people, Druid priests led the people in diabolical worship ceremonies in which horses, cats, black sheep, oxen, human beings and other offerings were rounded up, stuffed into wicker cages and burned to death, hence the "burnt offering." This was done to appease Samhain and hopefully to keep the spirits from harming them. Nowhere in this do I find ANY THING to glorify the Lord! No matter how one tries to "replace" its meaning with a Christian "twist" it IS what it IS and ALWAYS WILL BE!

And at this part of the post, I want to point out the HARVEST FESTIVAL that was celebrated by these evil Baal worshipers, is what many Christian Churches TODAY try to REPLACE Halloween with as an "alternative" to trick or treat. It's the SAME thing! A Fall Festival is the same as the Harvest Festival. Please remember that GOD DOES NOT NEED TO BE AN ALTERNATIVE TO A SATANIC HOLIDAY!

The Devil glorifies death. Hebrews 2:14 says, "Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil,"

Proverbs 8:36 says, "But he who sins against me wrongs his own soul; All those who hate me love death.”

Revelation 6:8 says, "So I looked, and behold, a pale horse. And the name of him who sat on it was Death, and Hades followed with him. And power was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword, with hunger, with death, and by the beasts of the earth."

Now for a little more in depth study of the history of Halloween, some of which I just touched upon but will get into more detail. I want each and every reader to see, understand and have knowledge of this evil holiday and its roots. Our Pilgrim forefathers knew very well of the Halloween occultic roots. So much so that they banned celebrating Halloween in America at one point. Halloween wasn't celebrated in America until 1845. At that time, the multiplied thousands of Irish emigrants flooded into New York because of the Irish Potato Famine of 1845-46. And brought with them was the old Druid holiday of Halloween. Then gradually, the celebration of this day spread throughout the rest of the country. Halloween wasn't the original name of this Druid celebration, but rather, it began long before Christ among the ancient Celtic peoples (Britons, Gauls, Scots, Irish). They observed the end of summer with sacrifices to SAMAN (Shamhain). He was "the lord of death and evil spirits". This marked the beginning of the Celtic New Year. Before I continue, just a side note about the Saman. Depending on your source material, the Druid lord of death and evil spirits was called Saman, Samana, Shamhain or Samhain. All of these names referenced the SAME being. His particular "holiday" was called "The Vigil Of Saman" or Samhain (pronounced so-wein). Now what you probably don't know is that you have likely already seen a modern day version of SAMAN without even knowing it. This pagan god was shown as a ghostly, skeleton holding a sickle in his hand. He later became aptly known as THE GRIM REAPER. Coincidence? Doubtful!

Catholic missionaries swarmed Britain and Ireland seeking a mass conversion to Catholicism. Their orders in 601 A.D. were from Pope Gregory to cunningly and shrewdly convert the Druid rituals into Catholic rituals. The Catholics converted the ritual of Samhain into the festival of All Saint’s Day, a day of celebration and prayer to dead "Saints." Halloween begins well over 2,000 years ago in the British Isles. Here, we find the holiday stripped to its most essential element: a night when Celtic tribes communed with the spirits of the ancestral dead. These grand and glorious pagan celebrations were assimilated by the Catholic church. . . Rather than extinguish old customs, the church leaders provided Christian versions of them: from the Middles Ages on, All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day replaced the ancient Celtic celebrations of the dead. (Bannatyne, Lesley Pratt, Halloween: An American Holiday, an American History, Facts on File, Inc., New York, 1990 p. x) The Catholic festival of All Saints Day was also known as All Hallows Day, with the word "hallow" replacing "saints." We'll visit "hallow" again later in the next paragraph. The day before All Hallows Day (October 31) was recognized as All Hallows Eve. Eventually, All Hallows Eve became Hallows Eve; hallow’even; hallow’en and ultimately today’s Halloween. So, in 835, Pope Gregory IV "blessed" All Saint’s Day as a sacred "day of obligation," and consequently on that same day, the Catholic Church officially "ordained" Halloween. Yes, they "ordained" Halloween! The very life and breath Halloween has been given, is due to the "blessing" from the Catholic Church. Samhain would have died many years ago if it weren't for the "ordination" of the Catholic Church. I know many people that may be reading this may not want to believe the Catholic Church did such a thing, but they did! Truth is truth. And sometimes, the old adage is true....Truth is sometimes stranger than fiction!

Furthering our knowledge of this covenant with death, we find a perverse and blasphemous twist concerning the name "Halloween." The word "hallow" means "holy, sanctify or consecrate." The popular Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:9 begins with, ". . . Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. . ." The label "hallow" belongs to God the Father, Hallowed be thy name. Halloween was a night sacrificing young children to the worship of Baal. This practice goes on today! Satan doesn't change. It is no accident that the name of history’s most hellish and EVIL night that is glorifying "death and hell," happens to wear God the Father’s Holy name of "hallow." The blasphemous name of "Halloween" clearly bears the mocking fingerprints of Lucifer found in Isaiah 14:12, ". . . I will be like the most High." 

Dr. David Enoch, a former senior consultant psychiatrist at the Royal Liverpool Hospital and the University of Liverpool, states: "Halloween practices open the door to the occult and can introduce forces into people’s lives that they do not understand and often cannot combat. . . " This leads me to the dangers of the holiday. 1 Peter 5:8, "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour." On Halloween, he is seeking the weakest, the most vulnerable, the unwittingly, the distracted and the lost more heavily. I've heard many of people say this is just harmless fun, a night when children look forward to getting dressed up in their favorite "costume" and get as much candy as possible. Some people go as far as saying they don't allow their kids to dress up in "evil" costumes as a way to justify celebrating this death day. That never made any sense to me because even though they may not dress up like an evil person or character, the entire holiday is douses in evil starting with the decorations down to the begging.

Satan is "the god of this world" and 2 Corinthians 4:4 says, "whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them." And in 1 John 5:19 it says, "We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one" – not just the one night of Halloween! Our days of the week bear the names of pagan gods: Moon-day, Zues-day, Woden’s-day. Thor’s-day, Freyja-day, Saturn-day, Sun-day. Ever look on the back of the dollar bill? It clearly displays the satanic all-seeing "eye of Lucifer" in the pyramid. This earth is the devil’s playground as it is stated in John 14:30, "I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming, and he has nothing in Me." When Jesus Christ lived a perfect life and died for the sins of men, He qualified to dethrone Satan. The "god of this world" has been defeated! However, he remains active among us until the King of kings returns and sets up His government on earth. You can’t escape his wicked influence. But as David took Goliath’s own sword and cut his head off in 1 Sam. 17:51, we too can take one of Satan’s "swords" and cut some souls from hell. Knowledge is power and TRUTH sets us free!

The Satanic realm and the occult is very real and VERY dangerous! This celebrated death covenant day is no different! Before I outline the dangers of it, let me first remind you of all the marathons that show during this time of the year. The vampire shows, zombies, the occult movies, ghosts, death, dismemberment, blood and gore, not to mention all the other horrific shows and movies that are inundating the television and movie theaters. The supernatural movies lined up on display for "fright night" fun. These movies aren't the "King Kong" scary movies of old. These are all about demon possessions, eternal life giving vampires, ghosts and extremely graphic psychological "thrillers." Just some of the covers of the movies on sale during this time of the year and the commercial ads are enough to make the hairs on the back of my neck stand up! I can't even imagine what watching one of them would do to me, much less to a young, undeveloped mind! The haunted houses, haunted hay rides, and all of the "theater of blood, guts and gore" are so advanced now that they are nearly real. And that, in and of itself, is frightening. These things are NOT harmless fun! These horror films and slasher films and all things having to do with the supernatural is a conditioning tool, and a desensitizing mechanism aimed to make society colder, more distant, more complacent about reality and towards other human beings.

All the graphic violence involved in each of these types of movies if seen enough, will eventually have an impact on many impressionable young minds. Not all. But MANY. And the "many" is what Satan and his minions are after. Behind each of the macabre movies, is someone, or more like many, who are "inspired" to write the stories. It takes a certain mind, a certain person, a certain type of person to come up with something so evil and diabolical and demonic in the first place. Who influences their writings? Who do they "channel" in order to come up with these ideas? Robert Englund who famously plays the mass murderer Freddy Krueger in the "Nightmare on Elm Street" series said he drew his inspiration from the late Ted Bundy, who violently raped and murdered more than 28 women. Englund told Slaughterhouse magazine, "I just read an article on Ted Bundy, so a lot of my imagery is based on him."  These inspired "actors" and writers are getting their inspiration from the devil and other evil people. I assure you, it isn't our Lord Jesus Christ! None of this is pleasing to our Lord and Savior!

Now to the harmful and dangerous day of Halloween. Let me begin by its emphasis on death and violence. Halloween is desensitizing our children by its glorification of violence, death, mutilation and gore. Adults are behind the actions as well and they too are being led down a darkened path. At the least, exposure to sadism, sexual violence, satanism, torture, mutilation and bizarre murders causes our kids to become calloused, numbed and indifferent to these behaviors. But, Harriet Kozkoff, who is a public TV producer told the press, "Entertainment is a powerful socializing agent in contemporary society. Slasher and horror movies...use violence and sexual arousal to maximize profits and are an inevitable prescription for conditioning sexual sadism into our pre-teen, teenage and young adult film fans." The majority of those kind of movies are aimed AT pre-teen, teenager and young adult movie goers, film buffs. I've known SOME parents who not only allowed their under 10 years old kids (as young as 5 in one case) to view these disturbing images over and over, but also took them to see them or buy the movies. Psychiatrist Dr. Thomas Radecki said, "Every year film violence and real-life violence continues to get worse. We must protest and stop this growing sadism in our homes, schools, and on our streets." Obviously, the problem is wider than just on Halloween and goes deeper, but TV programming and video rentals of violent horror films is at its all time peak during Halloween. The advertising and marketing is through the roof pushing the occult on everyone who is willing to go along for the "thrill."

Halloween is harmful because it emphasizes horror and fear. These two are specifically targeted to the "haunted house/haunted adventure and haunted everything" crowd. These haunted places of "fun" (if that's what they want to call it) are basically manufactured "traumas" and "fears" that are more than realistic with our technology and special effects. This is aimed to pretty much terrorize adults much less a child....and remember, children are the target audience in ALL of this. Why? Because they are the innocent, pure and the influenced. The haunted houses and places can scare the daylights out of an adult, who is totally aware of the "fake" show, but nonetheless, it still plays on the part of our psyche that is wired to "fear" these things, those unknown hidden things. Imagine being a child who not only has an undeveloped brain and is emotionally immature being literally traumatized going through the same places!? I shudder to think what their little minds think and imagine!

I recently watched a documentary about the new haunted houses and was utterly disgusted with the "trauma based" scare tactics and special effects they are using in some of these places! One particular place, of which I REFUSE to mention by state and refuse to give details on what it entailed, was more of a psychological trauma based fear induced frenzy that bordered not only on the insane, but on harassment. It was SO bad that not only did you have to sign a waiver, but they offered your money back to you IF you could complete the "journey" without tapping out. UNBELIEVABLE! It blew my mind.  I don't believe children should be exposed to such manufactured traumas. By exposing a vulnerable child to these kinds of traumatic events can have harmful consequences that run the spectrum from nightmares to emotional damage. Dr. Grace Ketterman, M.D. says in her book, You and Your Child's Problems, "A tragic by- product of fear in the lives of children as early as preadolescence is the interest and involvement in supernatural occult phenomena." Just like Satan wants it to be!

Halloween emphasizes the Occult to a blinding degree. It's not subtle. It's not hinted at. IT'S BLATANT! It not only piques the interest of many about the supernatural and the occult, but it lures them into such a strong curiosity that they "dabble" in the occult thinking it's harmless and innocent and even not real. Oh, but my brothers and sisters, it IS very REAL! Many children are introduced to occultic practices at Halloween parties. I know it seems to look like I'm focusing on the children and how it influences them, and I agree that I AM! For good reason. Halloween is AIMED and MARKETED for kids. Not adults. Adults will and do participate in it and the parties, but it's mainly a child's "holiday." Many kids get their first exposure to occultic horror movies at Halloween parties. After the initial exposure to the occult some, not all, children are attracted to the occult because of the power it offers them. Keep in mind, Satan tricks the fallen world with "false" powers. And to those young ones who are the most impressionable, well, it appeals to some of them. For others, they see it as the ultimate means of rebelling against there parents. Other things that lure children, young adults and even some adults later in life, to the occult is Fantasy Role playing games like Dungeons and Dragons, Black and Heavy Metal music that is otherwise called "death metal" and more often than not has Satanic songs, inferences or blatant blasphemous writings, Reading occult & satanic literature like the Harry Potter and Twilight Series, and Slasher/horror movies & sadistic pornography. Some people, some predisposed to influences, who would never involve themselves with the occult at any other time or on any other level, will ultimately experiment at Halloween parties with seances, Ouija boards, levitation, rituals and ritual sex.

Did you know that Devil's Night (the night before Halloween) is the worst night of the year for ARSON FIRES? Add to the trauma, more personal property is defaced and public buildings damaged at this time than any other time of the year. Law enforcement across the country have documented and reported that there are more grave yard vandalism and desecration occur on Halloween. Trick or Treat has become a night of "fear" because of drugs, razor blades, and other foreign objects are being found in the "goodies" being given out to the kids and in many areas, there have been xray machines set up to xray the bags to detect any objects that might have been put in the candy. Malicious Halloween pranks even kill people. People, this is NOT a night that anyone should celebrate!

Galatians 4:8-11, "But then, indeed, when you did not know God, you served those which by nature are not gods. v9) But now after you have known God, or rather are known by God, how is it that you turn again to the weak and beggarly elements, to which you desire again to be in bondage? v10) You observe days and months and seasons and years. v11) I am afraid for you, lest I have labored for you in vain." 

The amount of money that is spent on Halloween is only second to Christmas! And some studies have shown it surpassed Christmas. Every dollar you spend for decorations, for costumes, for face paints and make-up, for candy to pass out, and for ANYTHING that is Halloween related, is another dollar given to the god of this world and another dollar STOLEN from our LORD who blessed us with that money to begin with! Every dollar spent on the movies that show this garbage, is another dollar given to Satan to further his "kingdom." If this covenant with death is celebrated with your money, it is your money that is supporting the occult, the Satanic agenda and the darkness that propagates this day. All of that money could be going to buying bibles for people who don't have access to them. It could be going to feed the hungry in your area, or areas far away. It could be going to ANYTHING to further the Kingdom of God because there still is much to do and every dollar counts!

Halloween? Isn't the whole theme one of darkness, death, fear, terror, threats, destruction and evil? Absolutely! There are witches, broomsticks, bats, owls, ghosts, skeletons, death, skulls, and monsters. At Halloween there will be apple bobbing, divination, fortune telling, haunted houses, candles lit and spirits called up. There will be seances and Ouija boards used in the name of fun and excitement. There will be sacrifices of dogs, cats, rats, chickens, goats and even humans! You might say, "Well, we don't take it seriously." Or maybe, "Well, it's just harmless fun and nothing is wrong with it." But the devil takes it seriously and so does God. God knows it's not harmless fun which is why He warned us against it. He wasn't quiet about it either! This is particularly true when the Church, which He purchased with His own precious blood, builds houses of horror in its fellowship halls so that the little lambs who have been entrusted to its care can be terrified and opened up to invading spirits of fear and torment and confusion. Yes, this happens too! The devil did a good job at convoluting the minds of many and what we're seeing today is the result of his wiles. You can call a duck a horse, cow, cat, etc., but it is still a duck. You can call what you do at your church or in your neighborhood a "fall festival", "trunk and treat," "alleluia party", etc., but the bottom line is that you are still observing Halloween, even if you dress up as bible characters. Just because the name has been changed to a more "Christian" acceptable name, it is still in celebration of Halloween. Halloween is the highest satanic holy day of the year! This is the truth! We need to stop being Worldly Christians and pay more attention to what He instructs us to do and what He tells us NOT to do!

No one can dabble in the occult and come away unscathed. Occult involvement and/or practices, whether done innocently or not, is in direct disobedience to God's Word. When people ignore God's warning and enter a forbidden realm such as the occult, they will witness spiritual phenomenons. These phenomenons are not for the good! They do NOT flow from the Lord Jesus Christ and they do NOT glorify Him in any way. The Devil does possess supernatural powers, however, everything he does for people, he requires payment. Hence selling your soul to the devil comes to mind! There is ALWAYS a price to pay for anything that he promises and it is here that I will emphasize that what he promises is temporary. It won't last, it can't last and it doesn't last. Its part of his lie. The result of occult involvement ultimately causes oppression, depression, confusion, delusion, and physical ailments of all sorts. We are warned not to be ignorant of Satan's devices in II Corinthians 2:11, "lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices." 

Playing with the occult, dabbling in it or practicing it as one's own "religion" has become very interesting to this country. Everywhere you go, you will witness occult activity, occult innuendos, occult references, occult themes. It is pretty blatant and no longer hidden as much as it used to be. Psychic and astrologers are a phone call away. Occult themes are being worked into many television programs and movies, games and applications. Talk shows are featuring, more and more, astrologers, divinatory, clairvoyants, scientologists, Satanists, witches, psychics, crystal gazers, dream analysis, yoga, reincarnations, hypnotists, fortune-tellers, spiritualists, parapsychologists, numerologists, mediums and New Agers. Even Disney World is deeply involved in the promotion of the occult. Yes Disney. It's no secret that Disney himself was a pedophile and his empire is steeped in controversy, hidden messages, occult practices and promoting the same ilk. Disney even "created" another empire called Pixar in order to show more "risque" shows. Why do you think SO many young Disney stars fall apart when they break from their shells? Look at who those child stars grew up to "worship" and promote themselves. The one eye pics tell it all.

2 John 7, "For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist." 

Halloween is the festival for the devil, it's the covenant with death, it's the occult drenched in Druid savagery. It is everything that is in opposition to the Lord Jesus Christ. Satan is in opposition to Jesus. He is so jealous still of God the Father that he still tries to emulate Him but on an evil level, mimicking His powers but failing in their deliveries. Many people celebrate Halloween without even knowing what they're celebrating. For many, it's just a day to dress up, go to parties, knock on doors and begging for candy and getting alot of it. But if you are going to celebrate something like a holiday, wouldn't you think it to be wise to at least know WHAT you're celebrating? That's the main reason for this particular post! I want you to be aware of what roots this holiday spouted from and for you to all be educated in its history. Your decision to participate is your decision. I will warn anyone and everyone not to celebrate this covenant with death based on the information I've provided along with Scripture. However, I can't tell you what to do. We all have a choice.....

Most people will never see it, because most of evil is hidden in the darkness, but in the dark corners, out of sight, and in the out of the way places, there will be some incredibly sinister things taking place in America on Halloween night. There are people out there that truly believe that this is a night to commune with the spirits and are ready to do so, much like the ancient Celts. Remember, this night is a night of evil. It's not a night for fun and games. There is an uncanny glorification and fixation on death and the macabre. Let me make this statement about the attractiveness of death the marketing department conjure up. It can be likened to a moth to the flame kind of attraction, that is true enough, but it is a strong and powerful attraction nonetheless. Prov. 8:36, "But he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate me love death." So a fascination with the things of death is hatred of wisdom. Folly is attracted to death. This death day brings out the worst in alot of people and helps them along to develop their own attraction to death. And loving this holiday is exactly like that....developing an attraction to death. Because, it is, my dear readers, once again, in direct opposition to the LIGHT of Jesus Christ!

Halloween is an excellent time and opportunity to remind our loved ones, our co-workers, our friends and neighbors that, as Christians, we are different, and not of this world. Let them know, but more important than that, let them SEE that you are set apart from the world. Romans 12:2, "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." 

In closing, Halloween is a day that honors false gods, demons and Satan. Put Ephesians 5:11 into practice, "And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them." And a perfect ending to this post would be in quoting James 4:7-8, "Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded." 

All things done in the dark places will be found out by the Light! For those who have made a decision NOT to CELEBRATE THE COVENANT WITH DEATH, may this time be used to glorify the Lord! For those who need a little more encouragement, SEEK THE LIGHT AND HE WILL SHINE UPON YOUR FACE! Honor the Creator God and flee from this dark night. Many prayers will be going out for all of those who will decide to participate in the "festival of death" because sometimes we are called to stand in the gap.....Let's make this a night of PRAYER!

May the Lord Bless You all in His Perfect Will!

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Sunday, October 12, 2014

Social ME-dia - Idolatry and The Tech Obsessed Christian

This post has been laying heavy on my heart for nearly 6 months. I've started and stopped this a dozen times, either because the enemy got in my way or in other incidences, the Lord redirected my attention to other topics that HE wanted me to write instead. I've mentioned a time or two that I pray for His guidance on what He will lead me to discuss so that I remain in His will for, not only myself, but, all of you readers who will visit this page. So I'll start by gently reminding us just how important it is to remain focused on our Lord and Savior by quoting Colossians 3:2, "Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth."

I want to first begin by giving an account of Jesus Christ's Imprint that is found in 1 Thessalonians 1:2-10 by Paul to the church of Thessalonica: "v2) We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers, v3) remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of our God and Father, v4) knowing, beloved brethren, your election by God. v5) For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance, as you know what kind of men we were among you for your sake. v6) And you became followers of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit, v7) so that you became examples to all in Macedonia and Achaia who believe. v8) For from you the word of the Lord has sounded forth, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place. Your faith toward God has gone out, so that we do not need to say anything. v9) For they themselves declare concerning us what manner of entry we had to you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, v10) and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He 
raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come." 

City of Thessalonica

Here's just a little cultural background on the city of Thessalonica for those who aren't familiar with it. It was a major city in Macedonia that became an important trade route in the Roman Empire during this time frame. The culture was undoubtedly pagan and downright immoral. And for those who claimed the resurrected Christ as their Lord and Savior, there was alot of persecution, some severe, that they had to contend with because of their belief. Paul didn't want to see these new believers get discouraged nor did he want to see them be deceived while they lived out their faith in this dark culture. So he wrote letters to keep them focused on the gospel message. The apostle Paul wrote this letter to a group of new believers in Thessalonica. It becomes very clear and evident that the Thessalonians held a very special place in Paul's heart. He uses such passionate and strong phrases throughout the passages like, "we were torn away from you in person, not in heart," and "we long to see you." Paul really had such a significant, powerful message to share with a group of people who had come to mean a great deal to him in a short amount of time. The words that Paul wrote could be compared to the time he spent with the Thessalonians to the equivalence of a short-term mission trip. Sadly, however, this particular “mission trip” abruptly ended with rioting by unbelievers who forced Paul and his companions out of town. The amount of time may have been short, but the impact of this particular ministry was huge. Though Paul was physically in another part of Greece, his love for the Thessalonians and his desire to see them grow spiritually weighed heavy on his heart.

The Apostle Peter’s letter was written to the “exiles,” those believers facing persecution far greater than any of us have ever seen, or may ever see. These Christians were living under a tyrannical government far worse than any bureaucrat in a D.C. office. Yet Peter graciously instructed believers to live honorably among others in 1 Peter 2:11-17. " Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, v12) having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation. v13) Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, v14) or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. v15) For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men v16) as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God. v17) Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king." The “others” refer to those who are not “in Christ.” In biblical times when the word idol was mentioned it was typically one made of stone, wood or sometimes precious metals. While these are still very real types of idols in other parts of the world today, an idol can be any person or thing regarded with blind admiration, adoration, or devotion and anything or anyone that we hold in higher regard than God. So you see, ANYTHING that's deemed more important to you than God, anything that absorbs your heart, thoughts and imagination more than God, or anything that you seek after to give you what only God can give you is really an idol. Some may argue that their "obsessions" aren't being deemed above God or they don't think they're putting their "obsessions" above God. Well, I would beg to differ and by the end of this post, you will find my reasons for this differing opinion.

C.S. Lewis makes the claim, in The Problem of Pain, that the greater potential something has for good, the greater potential it has for bad. I thought this was a good way to lead into this post. So let's start off by a getting a good, sound understanding of what idolatry actually is before we continue. In the online dictionary, it's described as such:
1. idol worshipping, fetishism;
2. adoration, adulation, hero worship, apotheosis, exaltation, glorification, idolizing, deification.
3. excessive admiration or devotion.
4. great devotion or reverence.

So what about the Scriptures? What do THEY say idolatry is from God's perspective? Well, let's take a look. Image-worship or divine honor that is paid to any created object. CREATED OBJECT. This means not only a physical object, but anything that has been or can be created. In Romans 1:21-25, Paul describes the origins of idolatry and then in Romans 1:28, he says, "And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;" Men forsook God and because of that, they sank deep into the pit of ignorance and moral corruption and decay. In Scripture, idolatry is regarded as being of a heathen origin, and also as being imported among the Hebrews through contact with those heathen nations. There are many varying forms of idolatry, some of them are, fetishism, the worship of trees, rivers, hills, stones, etc. nature worship, the worship of the sun, moon, and stars, as the supposed powers of nature. Hero worship, the worship of deceased ancestors, or of perceived living heroes. Here are just some of the Biblical references to idolatry:
1 Samuel 15:23, "For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, And stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He also has rejected you from being king.”
Ezekiel 8:5-6, "Then He said to me, “Son of man, lift your eyes now toward the north.” So I lifted my eyes toward the north, and there, north of the altar gate, was this image of jealousy in the entrance. v6) Furthermore He said to me, “Son of man, do you see what they are doing, the great abominations that the house of Israel commits here, to make Me go far away from My sanctuary? Now turn again, you will see greater abominations.”
Psalm 97:7, "Let all be put to shame who serve carved images, Who boast of idols. Worship Him, all you gods."
Exodus 20:3-4, "“You shall have no other gods before Me. v4) “You shall not make for yourself a carved image - any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth;"
1 Peter 4:3, "For we have spent enough of our past lifetime[a] in doing the will of the Gentiles—when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries."
1 Corinthians 10:14, "Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry."

Just to name a few! God takes idolatry VERY seriously! And so should we!

In Genesis 31:19 we find the first place idolatry was alluded to when Rachel stole her father's teraphim. The teraphim were the relics of the worship of other gods by Laban's progenitors "on the other side of the river in old time" Joshua 24:2. The first and second commandments are directed against idolatry of EVERY form. In the New Testament, the term idolatry is used to designate covetousness. These references are found in Matthew 6:24; Luke 16:13; Colossians 3:5; and Ephesians 5:5. Idolatry has a broad range, now doesn't it?! So much so that God emphasizes it's destructive ways more than once!

1 Peter 2:12, "having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation."

The word “conduct” appears thirteen times in the Bible, and eight of those times are in Peter’s letters. So I would venture to say it’s safe to assume, Peter cared about how our conduct was viewed by outsiders. Yes, by outsiders! The "outsiders" that are all around us watching our every move. watching what we do, how we behave, listening to what we say and how we say it. Those "outsiders" who don't have the light of the Lord within them but could if we'd conduct ourselves more Christ-like even if hiding behind a computer screen, tablet, cell phone or any other digital device. It's really our conduct anyway that people first look at and observe when we claim our Faith along with our words depending on the situation we're in at any given moment. Because there are so many forms of idolatry, I'm only choosing the social media for this post because as you will see, the idol worship of social media often leads to others. Much like a gateway drug leads to a heavier addiction into the hardcore drugs, so to can the social media be a gateway to other idol worship, or other hardcore obsessions/addictions.

Why am I focusing on social media? Because IT focuses on the "ME" and not the Kingdom of God. Not ALL people get hooked, if you will, but they are the minority. Social media has become the new drug of this age. It's sadly turned into the ME-dia of ISOLATION and has put a barrier up in the lines of communications. The REAL TIME communications. You know, like conversations and face to face contact?! There really isn't anything SOCIAL about "Social ME-dia" anyway. It doesn't REALLY connect you to anyone. Rather, it DISCONNECTS you from everyone ELSE in the real-time sense of the word. A connection is a personal thing. A real thing. It feeds off of reality and being and sharing the same AIR SPACE. So is it REALLY social? Not if you're honest with yourself.

Let me first say that I do not, will not, nor have I ever, had a Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Myspace, Tumblr, Reddit, or any other format deemed, and categorized under, Social ME-dia. First of all, I'm not a follower. I never have been. I remember as a young, impressionable girl, my mother would always tell us girls that it was better to LEAD than to follow and I took that to heart. Literally. I was never the one to follow all the fads, the newest crazes or the next fleeting fancy. Then again, I'm one of those people who listens to the WORDS that someone CHOOSES to speak and takes them at face value!!! Always! Anyway, aside from that, the main reason was that I saw quite a bit of spiritual danger in it when MySpace first hit the ground and began to take off. In combination with "chat rooms" and instant messengers, well, I could see where this would and COULD take a society. It was the GATEWAY to the drug of this decade for certain. The IDEA intrigued me at first. A way of expression, a way of artistic flair, and maybe even a way to connect with like-minded individuals. But that's all it was for me. Intrigue. It was almost like the "forbidden fruit" syndrome. Only I didn't take the bite of the deadly fruit. Why? I know myself. That's why. That's the simple answer. This blog is the closest thing to anything I've done on social media and this was solely directed and led by God Almighty. I finally obeyed. And to be clear, I was even a little skeptical doing this until I realized what impact being a vessel, a willing vessel, of Jesus could be for someone who happened upon the truths passed on from the Lord God. The Lord spoke it clearly and so I obliged.....and obeyed.

I sort of have an addictive personality to some degree, (but one that is definitely controlled now after some valuable lessons I've had to learn the hard way), a curious, inquisitive mind and an ongoing relationship with rejection! Those, in combination, could be a very deadly concoction for me if I were to have given in to my own desires and intrigue. In this area, it took everything out of me to not join in the reindeer games! I knew beforehand how dangerous this was going to be for people, for society, me included, and I was tested on my self control. Through prayer and obedience, I never gave into it though. I found out years ago just how damaging that combo can be for ME so in order to stay in close proximity of Jesus, and in order for Him to guide my steps, He had to teach me to let go of everything and learn to control myself. He knows me. He knows what I've struggled with in the days gone by. He's reminded me many times when that little "demon" wanted to tempt me into starting an account with MySpace, that I COULDN'T because it would hurt me instead of HELP me. The Lord won EVERY SINGLE TIME! I wanted to share that with you because, even though I'm writing on this subject without ever having joined the "craze," I am the outsider looking in at all the worldly upheaval this kind of "socializing ME-dia" has caused a whole generation! As a Christian, I feel I should point out some dangers.....

Before I go on, this post is for the OBSESSED and not the casual user. Social ME-dia can be used for the good IF it's used properly, with good intentions and isn't an obsession. I will caution here, IF you KNOW something like this would cause you to stumble, then you should steer clear of it period! If it begins to cause you to stumble, then leave it behind, deactivate yourself. I know some, although very FEW, who don't obsess over it, and use it rarely from time to time. I am not claiming ALL social media is bad or an obsession because in moderation, it all can be used for the good. The key word here is MODERATION. But it CAN be bad. It can BECOME an obsession and a bad thing. More often than not, it has already reached a level of obsession in your life that you may not even be aware of. If you are like me, MODERATION doesn't apply because to someone who has an addictive personality to ANY degree, or for that someone who lacks self control altogether, it's like an alcoholic saying they can drink in moderation. It DOESN'T work that way! This is when you should take notice of your "socializing ME-dia" habits and look at it honestly in the form of a question: Does this glorify God or has it actually already BECOME my god? Do I spend more time checking my status, feeds, likes and comments more than I spend doing things in the Kingdom or spending time in His word? Do I spend time constantly looking at my phone seeing what's going on in everyone else's life, while missing out on having a life of my own? Compared with many other potential idols, technology, in and of itself, has the greater idolatrous potential; not only because it can become an idol itself, but it can also serve as an enabler of other idols.

I think Christians mean well when they voice their "faith" and "opinions" and "engage" on Facebook. Intentions are fine from the onset but sooner than later, someone along the way will have something negative to say, or want to bait you into a debate, or even try to pull you into something that isn't even worth the time it took to read it. Therein lies another idol....anger. Most of the time you will end up angry or bitter or resentful by the time you're done "posting" something, debating something, arguing about something until you and the rest of the "eyes" are blue in the face and red in the eyes. But while doing so, I also believe Christians tend to do more harm than good because it soon becomes too easy to get into a "battle" with other brothers and sisters in Christ but also with the non-believers who may be challenging something that was said or posted or liked. Under the veil of “taking a stand” for Christian values, for the faith and for the love of Jesus, I fear we are letting loose all kinds of dishonoring, uncharitable, un-Christ-like and argumentative speech. I'm going to focus on Facebook for the sake of not having to continue naming all the other ME-dia formats, because this just happens to be the place where so many "gather." This technology has opened many doors, some to the dark side and some that can be used for the Light. It all depends on how YOU use it. How much time you GIVE it and how immersed in it you become! Technology can play the role of  an enabler because as I mentioned before, it is a gateway into other idols. Social ME-dia is ME oriented. Anytime we focus on the "ME" in any area of our lives, well, it usually doesn't end up so well. The thing about idolatry is that we all tend to spend time with others who worship the exact same idols, and that commonality always ends up blinding us from realizing it.

Let me point out the types of people who become tech obsessed with Facebook and see if you fall into any of these categories. Those with low self esteem so they post a gazillion "selfies" for affirmation of their beauty. They always need affirmed of something or they don't feel accepted or liked. The Fashionista's so they post "fashion selfies" of their new outfits, their outfit/shoes/purse of the day, or in outfits that many would consider inappropriate, all so that they’ll get more "likes" and their beauty will be affirmed. The Attention Seekers so they are often the ones posting things that are mainly for laughs or shock value. Anything for ATTENTION. The more they make jokes or shock, the more attention they will receive. The Rejected so they will do whatever they can to BECOME accepted by posting interesting, humorous, fun stuff. Depending on their audience. The Chameleon so they will post or comment or like based on the person they are viewing at the time. They tend to become like the other "friends" at any given moment. The Coveters so they secretly stalk others to see what they have, where they're going, who they're with, what they do. They're so jealous of others yet aren't content with what they have themselves. The Lonely ones so they try to fill that void with as many "friends" as they can get to validate their own existence. The Money-Status so they always "share" their newest high end purchases, showing all kinds of pictures of their "beautiful" THINGS they own, bragging about getting the newest technology when what they had was perfectly good enough! The Boyfriend/Girlfriend poster so they post all about how "in love" they are, how "happy" they are, always about one thing mainly, THEM. The Influenced so they follow the "crowd" and never really showing or embracing their own identity. The Intelligent/Knowledgeable so they often argue with alot of facts and challenge other people's intelligence to determine their worth and purpose rather than the one true God. The Men/women lovers so they troll all the "most beautiful/handsome" sexes and fulfill the lust of the eyes and heart also being validated of worthiness because it becomes a challenge to "like" or "friend" them. The Competitor so they see how many "friends" they can get and compete with others to get more. They will also poke fun of someone who has less which elevates their self worth and popularity in their own eyes. The competitor is usually combative and is always in competition with their "friends" for comments and so on.  Oh the list goes on and on but you get the point.

The "ME" in ME-dia
As you can see from above, the types of people who can become obsessed is ANYONE and EVERYONE. Why? Because we ALL have some form of insecurity or issue for a lack of a better word. If you look at each one objectively, you will see just how it can enable yet another idol to worship. Let's say someone baits you into a "discussion" about your Faith. They seem to appear to be questioning your Faith and they aren't so sure they even believe in God. You then try to engage in a loving manner but that loving demeanor becomes a little less loving as they continue to "bash" your faith and God. By the end of the banter back and forth, you end up angry. Ta Dah! Anger. And so it goes.....Social ME-dia is focused on the "ME" so that's ALL it boils down to at the end of the day. That's how the majority of the people use it anyway. Social ME-dia is an aggressive distraction that ends up demanding way too much of one's attention, and eventually one's response. It is the enemy of association and connection and it regularly, and aggressively, fosters a consistent  failure to connect to the REAL world. We ALL have idols in our lives, some more than others, and it's hard enough to deal with them when they creep up or when we recognize them much less spending an exorbitant amount of time on Social ME-dia furthering the problem! Our idolatry takes many shapes and different forms, but ALL of them have worship of self at the very core of each of them. Let's look at 4 of them before I continue.

1) Materialism – This is when we worship our stuff, our THINGS. It’s important to many people to have the newest clothes or the coolest gadgets or the top technology. Often this leads to debt, and even can lead some people to fall victim to a spending addiction. Stuff feeds our desire to acquire as many things as we can and at any cost, taking our focus off God.
2) Ego – We worship our own egos. Yes, that's right! Our own EGOS. This is also where the obsession with social ME-dia manifests itself. The worship of our own egos usually presents itself to look like an obsession with education or career. Anything that WE pat ourselves on the back with a self-centered love of ourselves. We think that the more successful we are in our career or the more education we have, the better. Career and educational status feed our ego and take our focus off God.
3) Mankind – This can take many forms, from idolizing celebrities to idolizing the scientific achievements of humanity. Some idolize their Pastors, people in authority, and of the opposite sex. This worship of mankind gives us the illusion that we’re the lords of our world and that we have no need for God.
4) Indulgence – This sort of worship generally takes the form of overeating, drug abuse, alcoholism, shopping, sex, sports, gambling and can even take on the opposite form, which is completely abstaining from certain things, including those mentioned above. It can also show up as obsession with exercise.

1 John 2:16, "For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world."

That’s the heart of idolatry, things that the self lusts after. It’s giving in to things that feed our own fleshly desires instead of letting God align our desires with His. In the case of the golden calf, the Israelites gave into self-lust for security. Instead of trusting in God for their security, they decided to trust their security to a non-living statue that their eyes could see. Idolatry often times comes from a desire to control our own circumstances. The problem with idolatry, however, is that it really isn't in our control.  No matter how much we want to think that our "idol" allows us some amount of control over our life, when it becomes an idol (and sometimes it does), it’s no longer under our control. It’s controlling US. When anything is in control of US, then it's an idol.

While doing my research for this post, I stumbled upon something by Tim Challies that I would like to share on this topic. He said, "[Technology] certainly delivers on its promise, allowing us to live longer and cleaner and healthier and more comfortable lives. But because it is so effective in meeting our needs, it can easily begin to replace the one true God. We begin to think that it is the doctor or surgeon who heals us rather than the God who gives men wisdom to understand the inner workings of the human body. We begin to think that it is the mobile phone company that provides us with the blessing of communication rather than God’s grace enabling families to stay in touch over long distances. We easily assume that technology has the power to grant us the benefits we desire, and we forget the Author of technology and the true purpose of our technologies—bringing glory to him. Technology becomes an idol when we start to believe that humanity’s hope, humanity’s future, will be found in more and better technology. It becomes an idol when we place greater hope in technology than in God and when we measure human progress, not by the state of our hearts, but by new innovations in technology…We can make an idol of technology as we flip through the weekly advertisements, looking for something, anything, that will make our lives just a little bit better and fill the void in our hearts."

Nobody talks to eachother any more. Or they do way less of it. Texting and Facebook has replaced so much human interaction that the new generation doesn't even know how to have a conversation in person! It's sad. At first it was truly frightening how this took off and how quickly everyone got so sucked into it's vacuum without even batting an eyelash. Now? Now it's just sad. The amount of time wasted on that ME-centered site is almost embarrassing. I sat one day, alone in a corner at a popular eatery around lunchtime, and decided to people watch more than have lunch myself. As the place began to fill up, I started to see more and more faces looking DOWN. Some were pulling out tablets, some had laptops and most of the remaining people had their phones out. Not everyone, but the majority. What hit my heart the most was that approximately 80% of these people were WITH someone sitting right there beside them or across from them!! I sat back in shock at how everyone was so immersed into their "tech gadgets" and not talking to eachother or spending time together. After all, they were out to lunch together. They were together but not together. They weren't speaking, and if they were, it was in brief shortened sentences. This is not healthy relationship building. There was a family of 5 not too far from myself and the mom and two of the kids were on their phones doing something, dad was gadget free, and the other one, who was around 16 had his notebook out. The dad, I observed eating quietly, occasionally glancing up and around, but rarely did any of his family members engage with him. I felt a sadness. Is this what life is coming to? Is this what family and relationships have become? The more I looked around, the more the answer appeared to be YES.

The enemy sure took this Social ME-dia to the far end of the dark side! He saw how it would feed on people's obsessions or addictions. He saw how it would be used and abused. He saw a way to make everyone's life a little more accessible. He found a way for the deviants to find their "fix" of choice, for theft, identity theft, home invasions, rape, perversions, pornography, child trolls, bullies, predators and he saw a way to break down the family unit even further than he did with his other devices. This has really become a tool of Satan for the most part. He's opened up so many forbidden channels through this media format that has tempted otherwise decent people to enter in through a door that only leads to darkness and emptiness. When the evil side is too easily accessible to everyone, it drops down people's guards and they become more and more conditioned to what's out there. Things don't always appear to be bad in the beginning but watch out! It's a subtle snare made to reel you in until you're hooked. The lines are being blurred and they have been for some time now. Christians of all levels, wouldn't openly and honestly say that they were an idolater. Yet many believers today are, in fact, blatant idol worshipers.  I believe part of our disconnect and blatant denial of our own idolatry is rooted in the fact that we seldom, if ever, think about the sin of idolatry, either because we're ignorant of its nature or still think of it as nothing more than worshiping carved images of old. But the truth is, idolatry is a very serious and frequent violation of God’s truth and love. Its allure, however, has become so sophisticated and subtle in our day and age that we tend to dismiss it, rationalize it, or even embrace it in ignorant bliss for lack of clear understanding and honest evaluation.

A.W. Tozer said, "The essence of idolatry is the entertainment of thoughts about God that are unworthy of Him.and also said, "An idol of the mind is as offensive to God as an idol of the hand.Psalm 115:4-8 describes the lifeless, powerless idols of man’s design with this conclusion: “Those who make them are like them; So is everyone who trusts in them.”  We all become like that which we worship. Either we will become a testament of the grace and truth of Christ or an empty shadow of a form of godliness without the power thereof. Facebook has made living life much like a carnival on display for everyone to see. Most of the topics are mundane, trivial, of little importance and surface. Rarely will you be able to engage in something more meaningful because, well, it really wasn't created for meaning.....anything. Facebook became a way for everyone to share snippets of bits and pieces of their lives in a few sentences or less. Or a few words or's so impersonal. Really. Without a doubt technology is idolatry for so many. Do you control it, and does it serve you? Or does it control you, and you serve it? Think about that for just a moment and reflect on how Facebook is managed into your daily life. In many ways, social ME-dia alienates others. Facebook was once just a tool to "reconnect, keep in touch and update pics" but it has turned into a weapon instead. Selfies included here! I've never seen a generation of people who took so many pictures of THEMSELVES as I'm seeing now. It's truly amazing at how self absorbed some people have become especially when technology has allowed it to happen so easily! Selfie refers to one thing, and one thing only.....the "ME."

Facebook has made people lazy too. They get most, if not all (for some people) of their information from feeds they receive, or information posted from others. They take that as the truth without ever confirming it or researching it or just questioning it. That really isn't where I would personally want to get all of my information from considering most are just being reposted to begin with from a chain of others. It's made people forgo phone calls, meeting for lunch, taking time with each other. It's made our youth focus way too much on themselves, and devoting too much time to the online world. A familiar sight for many of parents is teenagers checking in on Facebook on their smart phones or laptops at every chance they can get, becoming a process they'll painfully repeat at every opportunity throughout each and every single day. They habitually scrutinize or ‘face-stalk’ the profiles of others, check for responses to their own status updates or recent posts and chat with friends about the trivialities of life. Ah, but it isn't just the teenagers, now is it!? Is time THAT insignificant? Of course not! It's extremely valuable and precious. It's been given to us by God in order for His people to live to His praise and glory. LIVE not vegetate in cyberspace in a "fantasy" world.

Time is a Gift from God
There have been so many people that I've come across that have tried convincing me to join Facebook. People are actually shocked when I say I don't have an account. Of ANY social ME-dia. They tell me that I just don't know what I'm missing. Well, as I just repeated this to a friend of mine recently, I tell them, "I can't miss something I didn't have to begin with." I've gotten along just fine without any of it, and I guarantee you, I will continue to do just fine! The time that would be taken up maintaining it and obsessing over it, is time I could be spending elsewhere, with the Lord, with others, being in His Kingdom and serving Him. That time can't be relived. It's lost. And I don't want to lose any time that I've been blessed to live each day. I will continue to tell people the same thing over and over. I'm happy without it and since I know myself, actually, HAVING a Facebook account would depress me. Do I REALLY want "pretend" friends that I don't know, that I never talk to on the phone or go see or hang out with? Do I really want to share my every single waking moment with people I barely know? Not really. What purpose does that serve? The ONLY purpose that serves is ME. And I'm not inclined to make everything about me every waking moment. I prefer to interact, to see the expressions on someone's face, or to hear the tone of their voices instead of SEEING a little icon emoting their "feelings."

Everyone knows the good things that a Christian can do with Facebook and as long as they are keeping themselves in check and aren't obsessing over it, then use it for His glory! This post isn't for those who can control their time on Facebook, nor for those who can control their words. The Social ME-dia Facebook has LITTLE accountability and that's another topic for another day! People tend to get a little more "brave" behind the guise of a screen while typing words than they would normally be face to face. For instance, there has ALWAYS been bullying. But now with this avenue, it's more vicious, more hostile, and way more prevalent. Should teenagers, young people, be allowed to FREELY use the social networking sites without accountability when they still aren't fully mature enough to KNOW what the ramifications are from the things they post, what they say, pictures they post? There is an age limit to a Facebook user of 13. THIRTEEN! They aren't mature enough to be responsible in their lives much less on the internet! Whatever you do on the internet, it's always safe to assume it will ALWAYS remain to be seen SOMEWHERE! FOREVER.

Like with most things, if you spread something too wide, it loses its depth: if you speak too often, your words will lose their influence; if you divide your time between 20-30 people a day, your relationships will plateau; if you confess to the world wide web, and receive no accountability. There is something to be respected in those who can, or eventually, recognize that they have a social media addiction and/or obsession and take a proactive approach against it, whether it's permanent action or a temporary one. They have realized something many people don't.....God is more important and He is the giver of time. We are responsible for what we do with that time that He's given us, and we're responsible for HOW we spend it each day with Him! We are living in an identity obsessed culture, one that places way too much emphasis on the outside and by doing that, it feeds the EGO. The EGO is nothing more than focusing only on yourself, placing more importance on YOU than what's really important. Nobody's identity should be dependent upon, or determined, by a social networking site that only caters to self love. Our identity is in Jesus Christ! We need to clearly understand what it means to have our identity firmly and consistently rooted in Christ, so we may then live out of that identity, being totally confident in the saving work of Jesus Christ on the cross. We need to know our position and the promised inheritance as children of God in order to live lives that are concerned to glorify God rather than ourselves or others.

The only way I know of to defeat idolatry is through regular self-checks and prayer. Stop and ask the Lord to check your heart, to check your life and show you anything in your life that has taken His place. Then repent and put God back in His rightful place.

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