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Monday, May 31, 2010

Dr. Richard Eby Visits Paradise

In his book Caught Up Into Paradise (1978), Dr. Richard Eby tells the true tale of what happened after he fell off a rotted balcony and landed on his head on cement. His skull was cracked open and blood gushed everywhere. He was told by doctors later that he actually bled out by the time he got to the hospital. The ER refused to waste blood on this dying 60-year-old man. They thought they could earn a few extra pennies by sewing the scalp back together and save the morgue from having to do it. Forty cents per stitch, is what they told Eby later, but they did a sloppy job of it because after all, the man was dead.

Meanwhile, Eby was in eternity, for just a while. He examined his robed, ghostly body. He smelled the air of Paradise, examined the flowers. They were all perfect, therefore all the same. His body was transparent. No genitals. There were no shadows because light was everywhere. Colors were brilliant, including the white of the little flowers.

To make a long story short, Eby's healing was nothing short of miraculous. The jagged gash on his head healed so quickly that the stitches were no longer needed. But his head and face were still out of kilter because no one bothered to put the skull back together right. When he got home from the hospital (way earlier than thought possible) a specialist physician made a special trip to his home to rearrange his skull.

During his early recovery, Eby had an encounter with a cloud that he recognized as Jesus Christ. It said twice, "My peace I leave with you. You will heal with your hands." He had one more encounter. After he was sufficiently recovered, he and his wife took a trip to Israel. It was 1977, and they were in what is called the Garden Tomb. Suddenly the lights went out, and all were plunged into total blackness. Suddenly Eby felt the presence of Christ beside him. He was told that he had been allowed to visit Paradise, but now he was to experience hell. Suddenly foul smells, demonic thoughts, and utter despair swept over Eby. He was alone in total darkness, but knew that he was in the presence of creepy Pit-mates. It only lasted a couple of minutes, but it was the worst thing he had ever experienced. Jesus commanded him to tell people the reality of both places. The book he wrote fulfills that command.

It's odd how hypnotherapists who regress their clients into past lives never hear reports of demons, dysfunctional ghosts, spiritual warfare, deception, or aliens--entities that are so real for so many. I think one of the reasons that many people hate Christianity is because Christians not only believe what the Bible says about hell being real, they temporarily experience it in the afterlife or in visions. Hell suggests to such critics that God is unforgiving and sadistic. I would far rather agree with the reincarnationists and believe that the afterlife is all therapy, therapy, therapy. But the reports of those who are regressed are somewhat contradictory, so there can't be one unified reincarnation machine running the whole world. Furthermore, as compelling as many such reports are, there are too many elements missing for me to believe everything I read about it. They never see anything genuinely dark, but I KNOW that such things exist. Eby's testimony about Paradise and hell, confirmed by his experience of the Presence of Jesus Christ, is worthy of serious consideration.

My next blog post will be about Richard Eby's father. The title will be, "What does Hoover Dam and the Wedding at Cana Have in Common?"

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Why We Should Dedicate Our Children

Exodus 20:4-6, NIV reads:
4 "You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing love to a thousand {generations} of those who love me and keep my commandments.

It sounds a little unfair for God to punish one generation for the sins of a former generation, but I think what is happening here is not an unfair dispersal of God's punishment but a cause and effect relationship of negative influences passed from one generation to another. That still isn't fair, but anyone with open eyes can see that the sins or indiscretions of one generation can cause tremendous despair, failure, and difficulties for the next, and that those influences can last for generations of dysfunctional families. Gods and devils don't need to have anything to do with it.

However, I do believe that they do have quite a lot to do with what happens in our families. When you take the Bible seriously, and even if you don't, if you study the occult or the paranormal long enough, you soon discover that spiritual influences follow family lines like velcro. People who believe that they are alien abductees declare that their children are taken even from the crib, and there is nothing they can do about it. People who are into spiritualism know that certain children are picked from a very early age to carry on the family occult activities. Ditto for people who believe in reincarnation. It is children from the ages of 2 to 6 who recall their former lives without hypnotic regression. It's not fair, but it's a fact. One way or another we often pass on to our children what we do and what we are. If that is negative, it will hurt generations of our descendants.

On the other hand, blessings can also be passed down. Charlie Shedd wrote a book about children and angels. He relates that when he was young, he fell into bad company. Bad deeds escalted among his pack of friends. Finally one declared on the phone that they were going to rob a trolly. Young Charlie felt a hand on his shoulder, and his grandfather's voice suggested that he not go, that he make some popcorn and watch a movie. Charlie's grandfather was deceased, but because of the hand and the voice, he declined to go. Two friends of his robbed the trolley. They were recognized by the aged driver, so one panicked and shot him. Both boys wound up in prison for life. Why did Charlie not suffer the same fate? It's not fair that a hand and a voice caused him to stay home that night while the other boys had no one to suggest they were making a huge mistake, but it happened anyway. His two friends regretted what they did, but it was too late.

The more I study the occult, the more I want to stay close to a church family. I think we should not only dedicate our young children, we should begin to pray for our children in the womb, and even before their conception. The best inheritance that we can offer them is the blessing and covering of God on their lives. Somewhere they have to make their own choices and live with the consequences, good or bad, but lucky is the child that has generations before them that understand the power of the blessing of God. Lucky are they who have loving parents to pray for them. Paul the Apostle wrote about one saved family member sanctifying other unbelieving members. It's true. Prayer and virtue are powerful treasures to pass on to our descendants. It's never too early to dedicate them to God.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Linette and the Little Black Blob

The little black blob appeared in the home of Ron and Linette shortly after a woman she knew dropped by the house for a visit. That woman had been playing with a Ouija Board in her former location. Linette knew that playing with the OB could open portals in the spirit world, so everyone who knew her knew that she wouldn't approve, including this lady. Linette is an evangelical Christian who has no interest in playing games with the spirit world.

Nevertheless, when the woman left, she left behind a 'hitchhiker,' a deposit of something spiritual, but not Christian. Linette began to notice that when she got up at night to get a drink or use the bathroom, a little black shadow would appear here and there. She ignored it, or told herself that it was her little black dog Boo Boo. Boo Boo used to follow her around at night.

One day Linette was dancing around the house singing a worship song that she had recently written. She was having a great time, totally focused on the Lord. Ron was in the other room and it was daylight, so lack of vision was not an issue, but perhaps it was lack of focus that made her think that Boo Boo was wanting to go out. The little dog would stand by the door and she would open it, so that's what she did. The little dark shadow went out, and she closed the door. The problem was that when she turned around, her dog and cat were sitting right behind her, looking at her intently. Stunned, she thought, 'What did I just let out the door?' Needless to say, she didn't see the little shadow after that. Her attempt to recall when she started noticing the shadow brought to mind the lady who came to visit after having played with the Ouija Board. Was there a connection? What was evident was that the shadow had never been Boo Boo, and furthermore, there was something about an atmosphere of genuine Christian worship that caused the presence to leave.

When I was in seminary, the Old Testament professor kept talking about 'crash helmet Christianity.' Wouldn't it be wonderful to experience it, he kept saying. About the third time he mentioned that phrase, I raised my hand and said, "If crash helmet Christianity came to your church, you would reject it. You'd throw it right out the window. The fact is, that kind of Christianity already exists and you don't want it." I reflected on the old Pentecostal church where the neighbors would occasionally call the fire department out to the church during a service, because they would see flames on the roof. The trucks would arrive only to see a bunch of crazy Pentecostal praising God. I thought about the stories of the Azuza Street Revival (They Told Me Their Stories, by Tommy Welchel) in which limbs grew out and the blind were made to see. There is Kaitee Lusk, who received a message from God to fly to the Philippines and lead Ferdinand Marcos to Christ. She did so (Eternal Makeovers) by pure faith. She found him on his death bed, with a breathing tube down his throat, but she led him to Christ shortly before he died. Members of the bodyguard and of the Marcos family followed suit. More recently, there are two DVD's made by Darren Wilson (Finger of God and Furious Love) that are so radical that even I am amazed.

I'm in a wonderful church right now that I really love, but it's not what you would call crash helmet Christianity because you always know what is going to happen next. Great worship songs, funny video, greeting, sermon, announcements, collection, all in an hour and 15 minutes.) There are major blessings here and there, but you don't need to fasten your seat belt when you sit down in the chairs. At least not yet.

Back in the seminary class, discussion arose about miracles and unexpected events occurring in church. One woman said that her father was a Methodist pastor. He didn't deny the possibility of miracles and deliverances in church, he just didn't want them to happen in his church. I assured her that he need have no fear, it will never happen in his church. It happens where people are desperate to see people saved and delivered, so much so that they want whatever it takes to make that happen... in their church and outside of it, too. That's what I long for, not because it brings attention to this person or that, but because the Holy Spirit can accomplish in 5 minutes what we could do in 5 years. Salvation, deliverance, discipleship, love, that is what it's all about.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Yahweh Rebukes the Fundamentalists

Fundamentalists love the Book of Job. Besides the fact that it's great literature, who can't empathize with Job's predicament? He is being tested by God. He has lost his children, his goods, and his health. His wife is shrieking at him and his supposed friends, those misguided comforters, are accusing him of being a sinner. Furthermore, Job doesn't understand what is happening with his God. God is behaving in ways that don't make sense. Something is terribly wrong, but what and why?

The fact is, Job's friends were standing on solid ground. They were standing on God's Holy, inerrant, unchanging Word. Deuteronomy 27 and 28 assure the reader that bad things happen to the disobedient sinners. Good things happened to the obedient. They had tradition on their side. "Ask the former generations and find out what their fathers learned, for we were born only yesterday and know nothing, and our days on earth are but a shadow. Will they not instruct you and tell you?" They had piety on their side. How could any sane person impugn God's holy and pure justice? The friends had an eloquent repertoire of speeches with which to defend God. How could they not be on perfectly safe ground, not only with God but with every man they knew on earth. Their argument was a sure thing, their reputations secure. The longer they pleaded with Job to mend his ways and confess his error, the holier these men felt.

As for Job, he was the miscreant. How dare he accuse God? What new idea is this, that a good man could suffer so? One thing fundamentalists know is that they know it all. They have the whole revelation and there will surely never be anything new. God must uphold all of the righteous revelations of the past. He cannot waver. Cannot change. That would be imperfect. Old is good. Formulations are safe and good. Job was calling for an arbiter, an advocate who had a foot in heaven and a foot on earth, one who could plead man's cause with God and explain the inscrutable deity to mankind. Job suggested that there were gray areas in this understanding of suffering. The old formulas don't always work.

And yet, when all of the speeches had been made, with Job crying out in confusion and doubt and the 3 friends laying out how things have always been, God rebuked the friends and defended Job. "After the LORD had said these things to Job, he said to Eliphaz the Temanite, 'I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.'" They had to sacrifice seven bulls and seven rams and Job had to pray for their atonement. Job became their priest in a sense. He also became an instrument of (gasp) a broader understanding of God. Good people can suffer! It's not all cut and dried. It's not that Deuteronomy was totally wrong--it's just that the problem is a little more complicated than those two chapters can resolve.

That's why Jesus warned against putting new wine in an old wineskin. Old skins are brittle and will crack. They can't take the pressure of new thoughts and new understandings. They are faithful stewards of all that is old and fixed, but anything new is dangerous and is a slippery slope that the truly pious will avoid at all cost. Furthermore, they rebuke, chasten, and persecute anything that isn't frozen in time, you know, like wives submitting to their husbands in all things. Like the priesthood. Liturgies. Formulas for baptisms. So many dogmas, quite a few of them very old. We stand guard with our swords at the ready to cut down any new thought or way of worship.

Well, some new things should be cut down, but there is no stop sign at the end of the apostolic era. The Holy Spirit blew right past it and is still at work in the world today. Our ears and eyes need to stay open. God is still afoot in the world and I don't ever want to miss what He is doing.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

You've Got to Show That There's a War Going On...

and you've got to show that the only way to win that war is through love.

Those are the words of God directly and clearly to Darren Wilson, the producer of a movie called The Finger of God. Darren was set on his course to make that movie from two spectacular circumstances. One was that his aunt Patsy and uncle Bob both got gold teeth set into their mouths while at a Pentecostal church service. The other is that an angel named Breakthrough confronted him directly and commanded him to make the movie he was contemplating. That first movie was about miracles, Christian miracles. They included things like gold dust appearing on people as they preached, gemstones appearing in church, and gold teeth appearing in people's mouths.

The second movie was first prophesied by Heidi Baker, who told him that God wanted him to go into the darkness to show the light. Later, in a service at the Toronto Airport church, he was shoved back into his seat and spoken to in no uncertain terms about the second movie, which would deal with the occult and paranormal. He called it Furious Love. He began that filming by going to a New Age convention to "pick a fight." God restrained those efforts and reminded him that it wasn't about fighting, but about love.

When I first heard that I thought two things. First, people don't want to admit that the spiritual realm is also a place of conflict where freewill, good, and evil clash. There is so much of that here in our physical plane, it just seems more that we can grasp that it all goes on there as well. We want to believe that the afterlife or the dimension beyond or physical realm is a place where all issues get resolved, all evil is reconciled with good, and everyone rests in peace. Kind of like Hollywood where improbable happy endings to severe conflicts in our movies make us feel good. Nice people require a nice, benevolent universe, and cannot accept that a God would allow a universe to harbor demons or evil spirits. But God says it isn't so, and so does the Bible, from Genesis 3 to Revelation. The Bible is full of spiritual conflict.

The second thought is that dang, I wish God had said that to Moses, you know, the part about love. Instead we have, "Show them no mercy," and "kill them all." Maybe that's why Jesus was never able to call God Yahweh. He always talked about Him as Father. What a concept! This mighty entity, with the power to nuke the entire globe if He wanted to, doesn't require the title of "Your Mighty, Holy, Highness God of the Universe." It seems the Pope demands more acknowledgement of holiness and authority than God does. God wants to be addressed by all of us as Father, and he doesn't care if we are men or women, slave or free, Canaanite or Israelite, black or white. We don't have to claim to be the dirt under His feet like the Canaanite mayors wrote to the Egyptian Pharaoh in the Amarna Letters. We are His children and He is our inheritance.

I'm not suggesting that the God of Moses isn't the same God that Jesus served. But I guess we have to acknowledge that God is so far above our own understanding that it takes generations and generations to fully grasp who He is and what He wants of us. Moses's job was to show that God is One and has much to offer us. Jesus's job was to show that He offers it because He loves us.

There are a few hints that the Israelites didn't really go in and "kill them all." The Amarna Letters would suggest that the invaders of Canaan made treaties with several cities. Also Joshua made his famous proclamation, "If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD." Joshua is not talking about a situation where the idol nazis are going to prowl the villages, pull out the offenders, and beat them to death on the spot. He is talking about choice. He is saying, "You can be stupid and wrong if you want, but I know which way is the right one and my family is going to follow me on that path. I know that it's the best inheritance I can give them."

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Ground Beneath Her Feet

In Jonathan Welton's book, The School of the Seers, he mentions a medley of passages that are theologically more important that they would seem at first glance. "The Word says that we move: from grace to grace (John 1:16) because grace and truth trump the law given through Moses; strength to strength (Ps. 84:7); Faith to faith (Rom. 1:17) because the righteous live by faith; glory to glory (2 Cor. 3:18) because it is the Spirit that forms the image of Christ in us. Last but not least, he cites Prov. 4:18 which reads "The path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, shining brighter and brighter until midday" (Holmans). He goes on to state, "The Kingdom of God is never stagnant; it is always progressing forward and taking ground" pp. 173-174.

And that is exactly why, in our day and age, when a church or a denomination continues to deny leadership and pastoral roles to women, they are falling prey to a false doctrine, the consequences of which become more serious as time goes by. The New Testament gives 3 justifications for denying women full leadership status. One is that she was created second, so she was created in the image of man rather than the image of God. Patriarchal men have long thought that men were more intelligent and competent than women. The second reason is that Eve was in the transgression, suggesting that women are morally and intellectually weaker than men. Reason 3 is that women were punished by being put under submission to men by God Himself. These are all seen as being timeless, unchangeable situations that not even the very grace of Christ's death on the cross can alter.

Leaving women in this stagnant, barren limbo ignores the authority that Deborah, Hannah, and Huldah exercised as prophetesses in the Old Testament. It ignores the promise of Joel 2:28, 29, in which God pours out His Spirit on all humanity, including male and female slaves. It bypasses the courage and insight of women like Ruth, Rahab, the New Testament heroines, and the woman at the well. Women showed their mettle in the Roman arenas where death was the result of refusing to deny Christ.

Quenching the Spirit of God is a serious matter, a sure-fire way to guarantee that God will stifle the ambitions and aspirations of those who participate in shutting off His work.

I had a discussion with a fellow Bible College student many years ago. Rueben came from Romania, a very patriarchal country. A woman in the congregation had a prophetic gift which the pastor resented because she was exercising too much influence and authority. He told her to stop using that gift. She complied for a year, but finally came to him with this message: God is very grieved because you have not just cut off this servant of God but have denied the work of the Holy Spirit. If you don't take back the ruling about the woman's gifting, God will take your life within two weeks and your brains will be smeared across the wall.

Talk about courage! I personally would be terrified to deliver such a message, even if Gabriel himself shook his fist at me and said deliver it. The pastor did not believe the warning. The church waited with bated breath to see what would happen. Ten days later the pastor was walking down a street lined by a wall. A car ran off the road and hit him pressing him against the wall and literally smearing his brains against it.

In Josh. 1:3 the Lord promised Joshua that he would give him every place where his foot treads. When Reuben was telling me his story, he suggested that maybe women were too sensitive to be pastors. I reminded him that even as we were speaking there was a female astronaut in outer space helping to fix the Hubble Telescope. I said, "Do you have any idea the competence and training it takes to be in that position? Do you know how much money the US invested in preparing her to be there? Why are we having this conversation?"

The feet of women have tread the halls of Congress and the White House. We have marched across the mission fields of the world. Women have been the presidents of nations. They are university professors and deans, including in conservative evangelical colleges. They have run charities, been spies, fought in wars. What will it take for evangelical men to realize that the first century view of the perfect woman is a repressive abomination in our day? How can we say that we are loving people when we insult and repress half of our own population, which includes our wives, mothers, and sisters?

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Robin H's Battle of the call

Robin Harfouche knew from the time she was little that she had a special gift. She could read people's minds and sometimes tell the future. On one side of her family she had relatives into witchcraft and esp. They called it 'the veil,' and Robin was told that she had it. All throughout her childhood and youth, she believed that it was a gift from God to do good things in the world.

On the other side of her family, she had Pentecostal Christians. She wasn't close to them at all and came to her adulthood without ever having gone to church. One day at college, she heard a whistle. She turned around to see a very tall angel who told her that she had been chosen to be a spokesperson for a new religion called New Age. She went on to become a dancer in Hollywood. She got hooked up with the man who managed several major actors, including Michael Jackson, Marilyn Monroe, and Shirley McClain. He pressed her to begin training for her call, so she wound up at a seminar to learn to channel spirits. When she heard a woman manifest a deep male voice, she was totally freaked out and left. She told the manager that she wasn't going to participate in the channeling business. He told her that she had no choice because it was her destiny.

She wound up as a waitress in Sonny Bono's restaurant in Hollywood. Some customers were disrespectful to her so she decided to let someone else wait on them. Her spirit guide, however, told her she had to stand up to them. She grabbed a tray of drinks. On her way out, a door slammed onto her head, putting her into a 6 week coma. When she awoke, she was told she would never walk again. She was in pain every day.

A friend invited her to church one day. The minute she passed through the doors, she was overwhelmed by the Presence of God. She wound up on the floor, physically and emotionally overcome. When she recovered, she was healed. Today, she walks normally. She wound up getting married to one of the evangelists there, Christian Harfouche. She now has a healing ministry of her own, but this time, all is done in the name of Jesus Christ. The miracles are often of the 'creative' kind, meaning that people are given limbs or organs that they didn't have before. She was taken to heaven by Jesus Christ the year after her healing. He told her that the enemy has managed to imitate the gifts that He has supplied for His people. He showed her worship in heaven on a grand scale and told her that the time has come when worship on earth and in heaven will bring the two realms together, allowing for spectacular healings and miracles. He said that one thing the adversary cannot do is create. They can only manipulate what is already there.

It is not at all uncommon for people in the occult to experience a calling to service. The same is true for alien abductees, journalists writing about the Virgin Mary, scientists writing about reincarnation, mediums, etc. Diverse spiritual realms have been vying for the loyalty and service of humans since the dawn of time. Genesis 3 is a perfect example. The testimonies of Christians called to service cannot even be quantified due to the vast amount of them. But all of these various spiritual callings are from different sources, with different messages. It's all very real, but it does not lead us all to the same end game or the same eternal destiny.