Preferences and their proper place…

Dear Brethren,

Why, oh why, do you persist in insisting all of us have the same preferences as you do?

I really do get it, that some of you find comfort in the liturgy and symbolism of the Catholic/Orthodox/Lutheran churches… and others…

I even understand that some of you find comfort within the structure of the Torah observant groups.

While I could thrive in those environments at need, that is not where God has placed me.  You remember Him, right?  The King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  He keeps sending me to fellowship with Indy Fundy Baptists and mildly charismatic non-denominational groups…

The only problems I really have with you folks is when the leaders of your respective movements start twisting scripture to try to make it seem as if your preferences are mandated and that all should abide in them.  If you choose to follow those branches of Christianity, you should at least be allowed to do so honestly, realizing that you are following a set of preferences. And that I don’t need to follow them…

If you don’t want to observe holidays, and I do.. that’s nothing more than a preference.   If you don’t want musical instruments used in church and I do… again, that’s a preference.   Or… how about this one?  traditional hymns vs contemporary…. preferences.

It’s does get more serious when your leading lights start rewriting the Bible to support their claims, but all in all… I would rather let God deal with them on that one. I will hold forth the Truth for people and pray that they let the Holy Spirit guide them out of those dangerous fellowships.

I will put forth the thought that when someone says that they have discovered biblical truth that has been lost for centuries, you should excuse yourself and depart for God has preserved His Word and made sure it is fairly easy to understand.  It is people that complicate it as they seek to build themselves up, rather than honor God.

Read your Bible, seek God’s face and let preferences be preferences, not doctrine.

Jeremiah 10: 1-5

This passage has been used for years in attempts to bully followers of Jesus into not putting up Christmas trees.  This tends to be part of a larger push towards convincing them that Christmas is a pagan holiday.  We’ll look at the verses cited first:

Jeremiah 10 King James Version (KJV)

Hear ye the word which the Lord speaketh unto you, O house of Israel:

Thus saith the Lord, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them.

For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe.

They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not.

They are upright as the palm tree, but speak not: they must needs be borne, because they cannot go. Be not afraid of them; for they cannot do evil, neither also is it in them to do good.

So far this can be convincing to someone who has only a cursory knowledge of the issues at hand.  Upon reflection though, one can see that what is being discussed here are idols crafted to be worshiped as ‘gods’, and that their shortcomings are many when compared to the Lord of Lords.  No matter what the craftsmanship, they are but created things.. even if a demon chooses to manifest in one of them, they are still created things.  This is in contrast to the Creator of the heavens and the earth.  Even those who have walked far different paths than I will understand as they read further into the passage….

Jeremiah 10 

6  Forasmuch as there is none like unto thee, O Lord; thou art great, and thy name is great in might.

7  Who would not fear thee, O King of nations? for to thee doth it appertain: forasmuch as among all the wise men of the nations, and in all their kingdoms, there is none like unto thee.

8  But they are altogether brutish and foolish: the stock is a doctrine of vanities.

Silver spread into plates is brought from Tarshish, and gold from Uphaz, the work of the workman, and of the hands of the founder: blue and purple is their clothing: they are all the work of cunning men.

10 But the Lord is the true God, he is the living God, and an everlasting king: at his wrath the earth shall tremble, and the nations shall not be able to abide his indignation.

11 Thus shall ye say unto them, The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth, even they shall perish from the earth, and from under these heavens.

12 He hath made the earth by his power, he hath established the world by his wisdom, and hath stretched out the heavens by his discretion.

13 When he uttereth his voice, there is a multitude of waters in the heavens, and he causeth the vapours to ascend from the ends of the earth; he maketh lightnings with rain, and bringeth forth the wind out of his treasures.

14 Every man is brutish in his knowledge: every founder is confounded by the graven image: for his molten image is falsehood, and there is no breath in them.

15 They are vanity, and the work of errors: in the time of their visitation they shall perish.

All of this in contrast to simple holiday decorations…. for I know of no one at all who worships their Christmas tree, or considers it a ‘god’.

Now, I want all who read this to think a moment the next time someone claims that Christmas is a pagan holiday… and ask them to explain exactly which of the pagan religions celebrate the birth of Jesus.  After all, for a follower of Jesus, that is what Christmas is all about.

The Church, a dysfunctional family…

To those who have known me from the ExWitch forum days… or from the days I spent time at Carm… what  you are about to read will not surprise you.  Except, of course, that I am choosing to write it at all.

Through the years I have been thrown into contact with people from various denominations and ‘movements’,  and I have tried to follow this rule:

If that is where you think you should be, and where you get closer to our Lord, then it’s cool with me.  Even if I disagree with you on various doctrinal issues.  Even if I think the ‘leading lights’ of your group are absolutely nuts.

If you have asked Jesus to be your Saviour, I will treat you as a follower of Jesus.    This has led to more than one online cage match as I would step in to defend Catholics, Eastern Orthodox… Charismatics.. etc.  Interestingly enough, several of the folks I would defend then later assured me that I was not actually a christian since I was not of their path.  Oh Well.

They also seemed to not quite understand why I would not be part of their particular movement, so I will explain that now.  I am not Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Charismatic, Pentecostal, Hebrew Roots, Emergent.. or any other than I am because God didn’t send me to gather with those fellowships.  Our Lord sent me to gather with a group of Independent Fundamental Baptists.   It was His choice, not mine, of where my household should have as a home church.

So to my friends that don’t quite get how I could be who I am and go to a Fundy church… That’s it in a nutshell.  Y’all go to wherever you want…. hopefully that lines up with where God wants you to go, and I will keep going where He wants me and mine to go.

The kicker to this is, whenever you start saying things that I hold to be erroneous I will eventually confront you on them.  Even if it is only to make you think.  That doesn’t mean I don’t like you or am picking on you.. it means I think you should take another look at whatever it is.

looking at a snippet from Pope Francis

Let me start with this:  I’m not a Catholic and really don’t care much for what any particular RCC official has to say, but since this showed up on a friend’s facebook wall, I thought I would look at it.

I haven’t verified the quote yet, so will address the points in and of themselves.  It goes like this:

It is not necessary to believe in God to be a good person.”   This part is certainly true by human standards.

In a way, the traditional notion of God is outdated.”    This may be a RCC thing.. because I don’t know what tradition he’s talking about.   I do know that the Biblical notion of God is by no means outdated.  :)

One can be spiritual but not religious.”   I hold that as correct, and strongly encourage it.  You do not have to be religious to go to be saved, you merely have to accept Jesus Christ as your Saviour.

It is not necessary to go to church and give money- for many, nature can be a church”  Bonus points on that one, for while we should go to church ( a Bible believing one), it is not a salvation issue.   As far as nature being a church well, yes, it can be and indeed it is;  for many spiritual paths. Only one of which (accepting Jesus) leads to God.

Some of the best people in history did not believe in God, while some of the worst deeds were done in His name”      Apples and oranges here.   He is okay on the first part.. and it is a tragedy that those good people are in hell today since they didn’t know God.    Now for those deeds… oh yeah.. they were done in His name alright.  From the best I have been able to ascertain though, they were done by folks who didn’t actually know Him, and definitely were not following the path of Jesus.

Prayer vs Magic

It seems to come up wherever Christians and Pagans dialogue.
Not that that’s a whole bunch of places mind you. :)
From my perspective this is contrasting apples and oranges. Let me tell you why.
As a former Occultist, I see this in a different light than most of the people I know, Pagans included.
> The categories would be better defined as:
* Prayer vs Prayer
* Magic vs Gifts of the Spirit
Lets take the first one first shall we? :)
As a Christian sees a need in life, their own or someone else’s, the natural thing to do is to talk to God about it. Coming by way of the Door made by accepting Jesus as their Savior.
The Christian’s prayers also consist of just talking (and listening) to God. To the Pagan, prayer can be many things, as there are many, many paths through their world. However for most it would consist of communing with the God/Goddess of their particular branch, or perhaps one of a pantheon or ‘family’ of beings. As with the Christian it would consist of either a request for help, or simply enjoying the presence thereof. Not terribly different in form, just in the Deity being communicated with. Keep in mind that some of the Pagans I know would disagree.

Now as to magic.. this is the working of one’s will on one’s surroundings. It is practiced with or without calling upon a God or Goddess, depending on ones spiritual path and what is being done. You will find various opinions within the Pagan community on that point. Which is only fair since the counterpart in the Christian world is equally disagreed upon. :) The Christian’s counterpart to magic would be found in the “Gifts of the Holy Spirit”. Many of these are listed in the Bible, some of them are in dispute as to whether or not they are in effect today. The big difference here would be as the ‘Gifts are God’ working through the Christian to affect their surroundings.

In both cases you will often find a blending with prayer, for what many don’t actually focus on, is that Wicca and other forms of Paganism are indeed religions. In a comparison of the two, magic would be seen as having more latitude for the wielder of it. With the Gifts of the Spirit being used to bring honor to Jesus.

What draws people to magic?

What draws people to magic?
|
Unfortunately there is no easy answer to this question.
For some, it is the need for knowledge and/or power.  For others, they are drawn towards them by various influences.
That list of influences just seems to keep growing, so I will take a look at some of the broad categories to start with.
Cultural influences are important here in drawing people towards this path.
Along those lines you have various movies and television shows which go to great lengths to portray magik as exciting and appealing.  Then, of course, you have an assortment of books that have been written specifically to lead young people towards one magik path or another.  With the most prolific authors along those lines being wiccan at the moment.   It remains to be seen if those of another path will catch up or not.
Those movies and books fit in with various fiction works in print that also make magik seem to be an appealing form of empowerment.
What can be done about these from a christian perspective?  As a parent you can and should be very aware of what your children are watching and reading.  You should also pray for your children.  Above and beyond that, there really is not much that you will be able to do about the various cultural influences, so lets look at the next item.
Peer pressure.
Think about it. Remember what it was like?
I thought you might.
When some of your friends seem to be involved in something ‘special’ or ‘cool’ and want you to join in. That can be hard to turn down at times.  And it is natural for those who have found answers to spiritual questions to want to share them with their friends.  So, people get introduced to the magik paths that way as well.
To be quite honest, there is really not much beyond prayer for you, as a christian, to do on that front either.  Again, as a parent, be AWARE of what your children are doing.   And don’t be afraid to discuss things with them.
The list goes on.. but as there is only one area that I can see for Christians to really affect, I will skip over to that part now.
Over these last few years, I have come to the conclusion that the largest contributor to the rise of neo-paganism and other magik paths in the Western world is really..
The Church.
How can this be?
It has to do with the ‘church’ losing it’s way.
Some of the issues that I have seen and heard of from others follow, in no particular order:
Extremely Liberal churches, Where the very power of God is shoved aside from thought and action, and God is thought of as not being interested in what is going on here on the earth. Where it almost seems as if they only exist as a social club that calls itself a church..
People there have a hard time finding answers to real spiritual issues.  So when a seeker goes there looking for those answers.. and looking for God, they tend to leave again without finding either.  So when they stumble across a magik path that has answers, they tend to follow it.
Word of Faith Churches, or, those churches that follow some form of those doctrines.
The farther they are from scripturally sound, the greater the damage potential. I have heard everything from ~you didn’t get healed because your faith is weak~ to ~if you give ‘x’ amount of money, God will do ‘y’~
and let me be real with y’all here….
If I wanted to do magik there are better ways than THAT to get it done.
People who escape from such places tend to view Christians as just out to part them from their money and time. To be avoided at all costs.  So they go elsewhere looking for answers to spiritual issues, and if they land on one of the magik paths, they run with it.
Legalistic churches,
Sometimes hiding behind the name of ‘fundamental’, these churches tend to focus almost exclusively on the theological do’s and dont’s.  You know the kind..  Christians behave thus and such…  Christians don’t do that…  etc..
What they forget, is to introduce people to our Saviour, Jesus. It seems that they have fallen into the trap of being to busy being correct all the time, and forgetting that they are also supposed to  be compassionate.  This also leaves people with a skewed view of Christianity.  I have found many that walk the magik paths that have attended, or even grew up in this type of church.  It seems that the very harshness of this type of fellowship drives them away even if they actually got introduced to Jesus while they were there.
Please understand that in each of those situations you may very well find some sincere, wonderful believers who are trying to do what they feel Jesus wants them to do. And what those people should be doing is praying for God to restore the fellowship that they are attending to a right perspective, and relationship with Him.
Even in churches that do not fall to those extremes, you will find a lack of understanding at times, and an unwillingness to dig for answers to inconvenient questions. This tends to drive away those who are curious about various things.  Any topic from spiritual issues to scientific ones… if they keep getting stepped on for asking questions they will wander off to find what answers they can elsewhere.
I am drawn back to this verse here:
2 Chronicles 7:14
If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways;  then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin,
and will heal their land.
Christians,
My brethren…
I implore you to act on that verse, for the only part of the equation we can fix here, is ourselves.

Halloween….. here we go again.

Well, I guess I will start with this.

My name is Mark Bishop.

As a former witch who is now involved in outreach to the folks walking in witchcraft’s many forms, I feel the need to respond to yet another article that has been brought to my attention dealing, erroneously, with the subject of Halloween.

As the author of a piece at Answers in Genesis, Paul S. Taylor has trotted out a few of the half-truths that have been running around the church for years and deserve to be looked at with a different light.  I have no issues at all with his assertion that this is one heavily debated topic in the western church.  His next paragraph contains some good and some bad.. :

“The history of Halloween should give cause for concern.”   Why?  I would think the present of Halloween would be of more concern.

“It was originally the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain. This was a night when the spirits of the dead allegedly walked abroad, and it was thought that they could be conjured to do the will of those who summoned them.”          Actually, not quite right here either. The Celts lived in many areas and had their harvest festivals roughly at that time of year.  Samhain is somewhat different as it is a season where the veil between the physical and spiritual worlds is thinner for some reason that I have never figured out.  It’s not actually tied to the man made calender that we use.

Rather than continue point by point, we’ll cut to the chase.

Halloween is not an ‘occult’ holiday.  If anything, it is the candy maker’s holiday.  Do some evil things happen then? yes. Sometimes even more than on other days.  October 31st is a day that the Lord has made, and we should rejoice in it too!  All the more since the local mission field will walk the path to our respective doors looking for treats, and getting prayer as well and maybe even age appropriate Gospel tracts to go with those treats.  No, the witches don’t really do much with Halloween except perhaps to make it a party, Any real work is done elsewhere, on a day usually not too far from it.

Are parents opening their children up to occult influences by letting them go ‘trick or treating’?  not really, but if the child goes, the parent better go since there are bad people in the world.  That is the real danger that is posed in the current times. A little different than in years gone by but not really different from any other day of the year when you shouldn’t let your children go wandering around unattended.

Yes, the culture is going downhill fast in many places, and this does have an effect on all days, including October 31st.  As with many things though, it is a matter of intent. You won’t be accidentally dabbling in the occult by celebrating Halloween, just don’t engage in some of the more ignorant things that go on… such as intentionally trying to contact the spirit world…

There is much more to the subject, but it will have to wait for another time.

An ExWitch’s Nightmare

Imagine, if you will, that you are in church.. in your usual seat.

The preacher is a guest evangelist, a Brother in the Lord that has been used to introduce many people to Jesus over the years.  Somehow he gets to the topic of Halloween and it’s associated evils…..

I know how it happens… He spoke of things that he learned back when even more of the church was in the thrall of Irvine, Brown and others with their tall tales about things they used to do.  Personally I tend to view their books as church horror novels, rather than non-fiction.

So…. come a little further with me and hear this dear man of God say that Halloween is Satan’s HIgh Holy day, and that the missing children on various signs won’t be seen again because they’ve been killed by satanists. Then there is the point about LaVey being active and recruiting in the military.

Now as you hear this, remember that you are hearing it with the understanding borne of many years in the occult.  After all, you are a Former Witch.  So you know that he’s wrong on these points, and you know that there is not one thing you can do to keep the rest of the brethren from hearing and believing these statements….. And wondering what they will inadvertently say to some witch or pagan to drive them further away from Jesus due to this night.

Thank you for walking with me through my Sunday evening service Nightmare.   Instead of just hoping no one paid attention to those points of the message, a little bit of education follows:

Halloween:  currently the Candy Maker’s holiday, with a little thrown  in for costume makers as well.   A day loosely corresponding with Samhain and various harvest festivals in the Northern hemisphere.  Another day that the Lord has made. :)  Rejoice and be glad in it, and pray for all the children that beat a path to your door that day.

Missing young folks:  I will give them this; there are people out there that kill.  Some for spiritual power.  Some of them might even be in this country. Maybe.    The vast majority of witches, satanists, wiccans, neo-pagans, satanists, neo-druids etc.. wouldn’t dream of such behavior.  Yes, I did list satanists twice. There are at least two main types… theistic (worship satan) and philosophical (worship self).

Think that’s confusing?  Wait!  there’s More!…. more flavors of witches than flavors of christians.  Lump them all together, you can not.

As for Lavey….  unimportant.   There have been atheists, witches, wiccans, healers, and satanists in the military since well before his arrival on the scene.   At least when they come out into the open, you can know who to pray for.

Mark Bishop

“From the Craft to Christ” by S.A. Tower

Well, it’s arrived. The newest ExWitch book is about to hit the stores..
My copy has come and been read already.

In this work, “From the Craft to Christ” By S.A. Tower, is an accounting of various former witches and their paths through life on their way to walking with Jesus.

It is straightforward in the beginning sections where the discussion trends to why people land on the magik paths and what the church should be doing in response to this trend. As well as discussing some of the newer fads in the church that smack of witchcraft, and some of the church myths are addressed as they pertain to what witches really do and are.

The work is written primarily from the perspective of Wicca, which makes sense as most of the folks involved, including the author were Wiccans.

As normal, I don’t fit the cookie mold. But Ms. Tower put my testimony as chapter number fifteen anyway. :)

Pre-ordering is done and they have shipped, but this book should be
available in the stores on Sept 14th.

I truly do recommend it as a sane, honest treatment of the subject of witches and the church.

http://fromthecrafttochrist.com/