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Saturday, December 15, 2012

Random Stories of the Paranormal

These particular stories are ones that I have experienced myself or have heard from the people who experienced them. Of course one could say that any book written as a testimony of miracles, haunting, or alien abductions is a first hand account, but in this particular post I will deal only with unpublished anecdotes rather than books.

A Lutheran pastor confronts demons in a multiple personality client

This story was heard recently in an adult Sunday School class in our Lutheran church. Pastor Harry, who is retired now, found himself in an uncomfortable situation when some of the personalities in a woman with multiple personalities seemed to be demonic. He knew nothing of exorcism and little of Psychology so he tried to pass the woman onto the psychologist. That man, however, demurred, since the demons were more open with the minister. “What do I do with them?” asked the minister. “Talk to them,” said the psychologist. So he did his best, setting up a sort of code to tell who was who. He would ask them if Jesus Christ was Lord. He figured the demons couldn’t say that. He learned in the course of time that they actually could. After all, the Bible says that the demons believe and tremble. When Christ was on earth, they recognized him right away and pleaded for mercy. So Pastor Harry set up another code. “Can you say that Jesus is my Lord?” That the demons could not do. Harry claims that he did get rid of the personalities that could not make that claim, and the woman herself became a helper to him in dealing with other clients with mental problems.

Korean War troops saved from a cold, wet death

I heard this story in Lexington, Kentucky. It was the season of the horse races. Horsemen came into town from all over, living out of their trailers and mobile homes. Sitting in Jerry’s restaurant I heard one of them telling his tablemates that he was a soldier in the Korean War. When the men got bored, they had to find creative ways to entertain themselves. One favorite was to get a little drunk, climb into a jeep, and fly down a long, straight road as fast as they could go. One night several of them were doing just that. Suddenly they saw a swinging lantern directly in front of them. The road was pitch black and there was no time to stop or swerve. The jeep blew right through the swinging lantern. The men all screamed, certain that they had just killed someone. The jeep screeched to a stop. All the soldiers got out and looked for the person with the lantern. But there was no one to be seen. And it dawned on them that they had not felt a thud. They went forward on the road a bit where there was a bridge. Guess what they found there? The bridge was out. The jeep was feet away from plunging into the river in the black of night, miles away from human aid.

My one awful experience of discerning a demonic spirit

In the 1970’s I attended a Pentecostal church that ministered to young people, some of whom came from troubled backgrounds. I wound up spending the night at the apartment of one of these women. It wasn’t a particularly comfortable relationship for me, but I wanted to encourage her, so I was willing to be friendly and spend time with her. She went to bed earlier than I, so I spent some time in the living room in prayer. Suddenly I seemed to sense a spirit of suicide standing nearby, an actual specific presence with a purpose for being in the apartment. I had never had such an experience, so I thought/hoped it was my imagination. Just in case, I prayed against it. After a bit, I heard rustling about the apartment. The bathroom door was ajar. I got up to see what was going on. There was Linda, lying on the bathroom floor with a kitchen knife aimed at her stomach. I was horrified, but tried to not let it show. This was a woman who had been in 72 hour lock down more than once. I knew nothing about such things or about people who are that depressed. She kept mumbling that no one would care. I assured her that plenty of people would care if she took her life. I said, “Let’s call your mom right now and tell her your plan and we’ll see if she cares.” I got Linda back in bed, heaved a sigh of relief, and went back to prayers. More time passed, and I heard that rustling again. This time Linda had some rat spray and a plastic bag. I don’t recall how, but I talked that down and got her back to bed. I prayed all night until dawn, then left. I couldn’t get out of there fast enough. One lady asked me later, “Why didn’t you call for professional help?” She didn’t call me a boob, but it sounded like she thought I was one. I guess the answer to that is that I actually was kind of a boob, and had no idea what to do in such cases. I certainly at least should have called someone from the church, but I thought maybe she was just being a drama queen.

But it is amazing how the enemy of our souls can put ideas in our heads as if those thoughts are our own. The more we give in to such thoughts, the more power they have over us. At some point, the ability to resist is lost. That is why Jesus Christ warned us, “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” Resisting evil or destructive thoughts is our first line of defense. And if that doesn’t work, call on God for help. Next defense, turn to people who can help you, people who are not in the same pit as you are.

Claudia King’s encounter with the spiritual mafia

This story is just a segment from one of my previous blog posts. To see the whole post, put her name in the search box at the top of the blog.

Claudia’s father was in the mafia smuggling liquor. She wasn’t abused as a child, but she was sent away to a Catholic school for her own safety. Mention of religion was not allowed in her home. She was curious as a teenager to know if God was real. She decided that a quick way to find out was to call up Satan. If the devil was real, then maybe God was, too. She writes:

There was one book, in particular, to which I was drawn. It described a chant, with a diagram, and two candles -- simple enough. I repeated the words from that book in my room that night and did everything it instructed me to do. I rejected Jesus verbally and called upon spirits I knew nothing about for power. After a short time, it all seemed silly, so I went to bed.

After being asleep for a while, I woke up to an intense growling under my bed -- near my head. I sat up and listened, becoming more frightened. After a few minutes it went away. I laid back down on my side and fell asleep. I remember waking up to adjust my pillow. I could not find it. I opened my eyes to find I had levitated almost to the ceiling and my pillow was on my bed beneath me. I remember one of the books saying that you could ‘will’ things to happen to you – so I ‘willed’ myself to go down to my bed. At this point I turned my bedroom light on and kept it on for a long time.

I went to the kitchen and got a glass of juice. I returned to my room, not believing my own experience and went back to bed. Maybe the growling and the levitating was just some freaky dream! I convinced myself that it was just that I was tired -- and I settled into a comfortable position on my stomach when two very large demonic hands grabbed my ankles and proceeded to pull me off my bed. They didn’t feel like human hands -- but I have no way to describe how I knew that. I grabbed the top of my mattress and the force was so strong that the mattress bent in the direction I was being pulled. I don’t know why I said it, but I whispered, ‘Jesus’ and immediately the hands let go and like a vacuum, the evil presence was sucked from the room. I could hear it leave.

It took Claudia 17 years to divest herself of that evil presence, and that was only after a 6 hour exorcism in some Pentecostal lady’s kitchen. She is walking free and clear today, but can you imagine spending eternity with those growling creatures? We live in a spiritual war zone. The message of the Bible is that dying is no way to escape the stress and uncertainty of this world because there is plenty dark, creepy, terrifying stuff waiting for us on the other side if we do not avail ourselves of God’s protection and salvation. It will devour your grandma, ruin your health, and/or claim your kids if you don’t find a way to combat it.

That’s my word count for today. In my next post, I will discuss exorcism in more detail.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Hermeneutics of "All Truth."

Sometimes the evangelical doctrine of “inerrancy” (there are no errors in the Bible and all ideas presented reflect the thinking of God) snares the church in some sticky wickets. For example, the Christian church, the Body of Christ, the light on a hilltop, the salt of the earth, the purveyor of the love of God, finds that to be true to inerrant Scripture it must suppress women. Why? Because Adam was born first and Eve sinned first. That puts women beneath men forever, until the Second Coming. They must also bash gay people as sinners worse than any on earth . . . worse than the philandering minister, the heterosexual predator teaching Sunday School, and the lukewarm Church of Laodicea. It is not the lackadaisical believers that will bring a curse on the U.S., it is the gays getting married.

For many years Christians felt they had to burn blaspheming heretics at the stake. They all did it, Catholics, Lutherans, Reformed Protestants, the Puritans… If they couldn’t hang or drown or burn you, they would shun you.

They also had to mercilessly persecute scientists who believed that the earth went around the sun. After all Psalm 19:4-6 says that

In the heavens he has set a tent for the sun,
5 which comes out like a bridegroom from his wedding canopy,
and like a strong man runs its course with joy.
6 Its rising is from the end of the heavens,
and its circuit to the end of them;
and nothing is hid from its heat.

The sun is compared to a happy, virile ancient Middle Eastern bridegroom who leaves his tent after his wedding night, going forth in vigor and strength, joyfully circling the earth (or at least moving across it from horizon to horizon). The fact that this was poetry with quaint metaphors didn’t matter. It was holy writ. Today it’s the Evolutionists vs. the Creationists. Some of my good friends are stunned, shocked, dismayed, and even offended that I could believe that the earth was not created in 6 literal 24 hour days. I have been warned that I’m falling away from Jesus.

Some Christians used to believe that black skin was the “mark of Cain,” a sign of God’s curse. Some used the Bible to show that slavery was biblical or that plural marriage is God’s will. As long as the ethics of the world at large were mired in the same ethical swamps, the Christian church could follow horrific practices, behaving in ignorant and uncompassionate ways, and get away with it. The problem is that the concept of inalienable human rights arose to muck things up, and science leaped from the pages of myth to technological scientific experiments.

Some churches will not use musical instruments because there are none mentioned in the New Testament. A truly pious disciple will not make Eve’s dastardly mistake of adding to the Word of God. And here is the worst: to be a good evangelical Christian today, one must believe everything that comes from Fox News and Rush Limbaugh.

OK, just kidding. However, as the church looks more and more “Left Behind,” uncompassionate, and irrelevant to the world at large, the leaders close ranks, refusing to compromise their principals. They say we must agree with Jesus. And I agree. The question is, what exactly did Jesus say? As a Christian, I certainly want to agree with Jesus. For instance, I figure that Christ was extant from the beginning of time. He was there when “all the sons of God shouted with joy,” so he knows how old the earth is. And therefore he knows that it isn’t just 6,000 years old. So I am confident that I AM agreeing with Jesus on that issue.

A more serious point is this. Jesus promised that when he left, he would send a “paraclete” to walk beside us. That is what the word means in Greek. He actually said in John 16 that we would be better off for it. It was necessary for Jesus to leave us so that the “Advocate” could come (and for what purpose? To finish the work of forming us into proper representatives of the Father). The Holy Spirit of God, for Whom Christ had so much reverence, will comfort us, reprove the world of sin, and reveal future truth. John 16:12-15,

12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

Jesus perfectly represents the Father and the Holy Spirit perfectly represents the Son.

The word for Satan in Hebrew means “Adversary,” one who has no problem wrecking your home, destroying your health, and killing your children, as poor Job found out. The Holy Spirit, on the other hand, goes throughout the world bringing comfort, teaching, guidance, and defense against the accusation of the enemy. The Holy Spirit also comes with gifts of power for the edification of the Church and its members.

But this presents the Church with a terrifying conundrum. Could it be possible that when the last verse of the New Testament was written there was still some truth, some power out there that had not yet been revealed? New truths, new powers, new experiences are frightening because they are untested. We who so lack wisdom, can we actually discern whether something new is taking us closer to the heart of God or luring us away? It’s a legitimate question and a real fear. It lays a huge responsibility on our shoulders.

And yet, if “all truth” actually does suggest that there were truths yet to come, which the early New Testament church was not yet prepared to understand, how can we be sure that it is the Spirit leading us? Could it have something to do with releasing women from the curse of Patriarchy? Could it cause us to get along with each other instead of burying the heretic alive? Would Luther and Zwingli have to shake hands today and agree to disagree? Could it mean that the evangelicals should show more respect to scientists today?

It might mean all or none of those things. However, we cannot abandon the challenge to listen to the Spirit today. But we must ask ourselves, what is more precious to us, the doctrine of inerrancy and literalism or being the loving vessel that Jesus Christ challenged us to be? Is it really our main task to convict the world of sin or should we rather point to our Heavenly Father as inviting the sinner to wholeness? How can the Christian church beg God to help us to be all that we can be if we disallow women to be what God has called and equipped them to be?

There are no easy answers or solutions to the possibility that the “things to come” were truths rather than merely events to be survived. But if the Lord has challenged us in that way, he will not abandon us to our inherent propensity to be stupid. He will walk us through it. Perhaps we will dance-walk through it, perhaps we will crawl. But we will get through it.

We have two great sign posts to help us on our way. One is “Love your neighbor as yourself.” The other is the Golden Rule. I’m not saying that the Holy Spirit is an old sweetie who does not acknowledge sin. Far from it. But if we want to represent God, the conviction of sin must begin in the house of God, and it must be balanced with compassion.