Monday, April 29, 2013

Divination and Control Issues



Control.  Why else would anyone want to know the future?  It's true.  That's the number one reason divination appeals to people.

Years ago, I used to supplement my income by participating in market research studies.  I allowed a market research firm to keep my name in their data base and whenever a study came up that required my demographics they would call me.

One study was a radio study in which we had to listen to songs played over a loud speaker and rate them.  It was a study that attracted a lot of "party" types - people who loved music and you could tell they liked to party. 

During the break I started making conversation with a long-haired guy who I was sure I'd have something in common with.  As we conversed he said something that offended me.  "I can tell by that crystal around your neck that you're a control freak."

That hit me like a left hook.  How could he say that?  He didn't know me.  He couldn't be more wrong.  He had no idea how relaxed and spontaneous and free and UN-controlling I was about my life - in my relationships, my schedule, my finances.  Why, I even liked to get on random buses to see where they would take me for adventure's sake sometimes.

I was about as "come-what-may" as you could get.  "Que sera sera."  That was my motto, wasn't it?

He must have issues with women, I thought. 

Can you say denial?  I had no idea how right he was or how deep-seated my control issues were, but his words gnawed at me for years.

I might have fooled myself with a facade of carefree behavior but spiritually, I had been a puppet master for years.

Recently I wrote about the temptation of power in occultism and it occurs to me as I write this that control is a counterpart to power.  It's the reason I fell in love with divination when I was young.

Power and control are not the same thing.  Power has to do with your ability to do a thing.  Control has more to do with how you exercise or direct that power.

In abuse recovery literature, there is a cycle called Power and Control.  Everything the abuser does is said to revolve around his or her attempts to gain or maintain power and control.  If you've been abused, you've had some of your innate power as a human being taken away from you.  Naturally you're going to want to get it back in some way or another, even if only a semblance of it.   And once we find that we have any kind of power, we seek to control it and to control with it. 

One of the most pronounced battles I struggled with in the first year of my walk with Jesus had to do with letting Him be in control.  I had to learn to depend on Him instead of on the manipulative methods I had learned in the occult.

I think most of us are drawn to things that give us control in life.  We tell ourselves (or demons tell us, sometimes) that it's the responsible thing to do, to plan ahead, to be prepared, to consider the possibilities before we make decisions.

We believe that if we know what's coming we'll have control over it.  It is commonly taught that the purpose of divination is so we can change the future. 

I learned the hard way that this is not true.  Just because we know the future doesn't mean we'll be able to control it or anything about it.  If something is in God's will, there's no stopping it, no matter what we do. 

The truth is, Jesus is in control. 

Not to mention, divination is an abomination to God. 

There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch.
Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer.
For all that do these things are an abomination unto the Lord: and because of these abominations the Lord thy God doth drive them out from before thee.  Deuteronomy 18:10-12

The problem is when we don't trust Him and we place our faith in how we can control things ourselves.  This is when divination starts looking like a viable option.  The key is trusting Him. 

For anyone who has made a habit of trusting in occult methods, this is not easy, but He commands it and He rewards us for it.

Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.  Psalm 37:5

Letting go of the puppet strings of divination sets us free to pay attention to the fact that our times are in God's hands.

My times are in thy hand: deliver me from the hand of mine enemies, and from them that persecute me.  Psalm 31:15

I didn't believe He cared that much about me.  I had to learn that all my life I'd been wrong about Him and I had to learn it over and over again. 

It's not about you," the elders at my church had to remind me again and again.

"It's not about me.  It's not about me," I would repeat.  

It's about Him.

I just didn't know God.  I didn't know His character.  I had to get out of the habit of thinking I had known Him all along and I had to truly get to know Him.  In time, as I read His word and spoke with Him in prayer daily, I got to know Him better.  As I got to know Him better I started seeing more and more clearly that I could trust Him.

God is true and just and faithful.  When we relinquish our desire for control (for after all, it's really the desire, not the control that we possess), His truth and justice and faithfulness become apparent.

The peace that comes from doing that is far greater than any that can come any other way.

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Role of Bitterness in Spiritual Deception



Before I started my private practice as a psychic, I worked for a couple of psychic lines.  One of them was located in an office where I met and worked with more than a hundred psychics, over a period of about two years.

It was a twenty-four hour hotline, which meant that your desk might be in use by other psychics on other shifts when you weren't there.  On my first day, I was assigned a desk.  When I got to my desk, I saw a candle on the floor next to it.  I knew it was customary not to touch people's tools of magick, so as not to taint the energies, so I ran to catch up with the woman who was leaving.  I said, "I think you might have left a candle behind.  I didn't want to touch it, so I thought I should let you know it's there."

She threw her head back and shouted, "Hallelujah, we have a REAL PSYCHIC HERE!  Someone who knows not to touch other people's things!"

I had just passed one of the toughest initiations of that place.  I had gained the respect of one of the most psychic women there.

I soon learned that gaining her respect was no easy task.  A legend in our office, she was known for her toughness and quick temper.  She never minced words with clients nor with co-workers.  It was not unusual to hear her telling people sharply, "Don't be pathetic!"  One psychic there angered her so severely, she threw a brick at him, so the story went, yet she managed to keep her job. 

In time I became close friends with her and found out what made her tick.  Like all the most successful psychics there, she was deeply wounded.  She had once been a duchess, married to a duke.  I don't know what went wrong in that marriage but she now lived in a small trailer alone. 

She had an adult son who visited her occasionally.  She once boasted to me that while driving one day, after he'd agitated her with whining in her car, she'd stopped the car and made him get out and walk the rest of the way home. 

As it turns out, that son was born of a rape.  He was her only child and their relationship had always been strained.

The success of the psychics there was easily measured by the length of their calls.  "Keep the caller on the phone" was the name of the game.  All the "money-makers" there all had stories full of pain and suffering.

One had been hit by a drunk driver and had been paralyzed from the waist down.  She had recovered but had lost her teaching license in the interim.  In the process of doing psychic work to pay for re-certification, she became dependent on the money, which couldn't be made at a teaching job.  After having been beaten by one husband after another, she was determined not to go back to being financially dependent on a man again.

Another woman had been raised by her grandmother while her mother ran around partying, doing drugs and ignoring her.

And one young man's life had been derailed when his father committed suicide.

Everyone has their story.  Everyone has suffered.  Everyone is wounded by painful experiences in life.  But with people who are drawn to the occult, there is one vital difference.  Bitterness.

In Acts 8, Simon the sorcerer attempts to purchase the gift of the Holy Spirit. Peter rebukes him and says, "For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity." (Acts 8:23)

There is a reason Simon's bitterness was mentioned in Peter's rebuke.  Peter was discerning a spirit in Simon.  When we allow bitterness to take root in our hearts, we leave ourselves open to spiritual deception.

When we become bitter, in time we begin to grow numb.  It's a defense mechanism designed to protect us against the things that might hurt our hearts.  Unfortunately, when we become numb to pain, we also become numb to the things that can bring us healing and we risk losing our distinctions between good and evil.

Isaiah 5:20 tells us, "Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!"

Then enters the teaching that truth is relative and contains no absolutes.  Once that teaching becomes a belief, spiritual deception follows.  You start believing lies and you start getting duped, not only in your spiritual life but also in your relationships.  That's the ugly side - the non-glamorous side of occultism.  The deception.  And the seething bitterness that's behind it. 

Hebrews 12:15 warns, "Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;"

Bitterness troubles us and defiles us, and it's been my observation that it makes us susceptible to occult deception. 

If anything makes us bitter, even in the least, we must seek God for help.  Sometimes we don't even know we have any bitterness.  When that's the case, sometimes it's because we've already begun to be deceived by the numbness of bitterness.  We need to ask God to search our hearts and show us if we have any bitterness to confess.

Even His own chosen people who were blessed with His presence in the Ark of the Covenant, who lived with the daily privilege of having him go before them each day in a pillar of cloud and fire by night - even they grumbled and complained with bitterness. 

Pray to know His love.  When we are overcome with His love, all complaints fall away. 

If you can't find it in your heart to forgive those who have hurt you, even if you hold something against God Himself, tell Him, and ask Him to help you forgive.  He will.  It's a promise

And read His word.  When you taste the sweetness of God's words, you will become a lot less vulnerable to occult deception, and you will find it much easier to remember to praise the Lord.  And the more you praise Him, the sweeter life will be!
Image courtesy of [Ambro] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Monday, April 15, 2013

The Temptation of Power





"Your fear is your power."  This was a popular mantra in certain pagan circles when I was attending rituals.  The idea was that we could draw from our fear to muster spiritual power within ourselves.  Incidentally, "Your fear is your power," is also a quote by Charles Manson.

It is also said that knowledge is power and in many cases, it is.  Why else did Adam and Eve desire the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil?  They were promised it would make them like God.  Power. 

Power assuages fear, or at least it promises to.

In my work as a new age spiritual counselor and life coach, I was all about "empowering" my clients.  It was clear to me that many people's "personal power" had been violated, and some had even given it away.

Politics are very much about power.  Nations rise and fall as the fruit of power plays in leadership. 

We can see Kim Jong Un abusing his power in North Korea.  We see him starving his people and dictating even how they wear their hair while he eats what he likes, keeps over 100,000 people in prison camps, and vies for rulership over South Korea.  The abuse of power in North Korea is so extreme, it has been reported that its citizens are one to three inches shorter than those residing in the south, due to nutritional deficiencies.

Usually, our initial desires for power are innocent.  We desire the power to have our physical needs met, to love and be loved, and to keep ourselves and others from being treated unjustly.  Even as adults, many times our desire for power is driven by a simple desire for the ability to do good.

Power is nearly always abused when humans have too much of it, even when intentions are "good."  Think of the crusades, the Spanish inquisitions, slavery in America.  Even Hitler believed his intentions were for the good of mankind.

Perhaps not everyone who gets involved with the occult is seeking power but I know that in retrospect, that was certainly a big motivator for me.

As people delve deeper into occultism, they are taught not to seek the reward of power.  Rather, occult adepts will generally redirect aspirants toward "higher" pursuits such as self-realization or oneness with all that is.  They are taught to seek to be more of who they already are.  They are taught, also, that what they are is love, and that the so-called "real" goal should be to become love. 

Nevertheless, no matter what they claim the goal is supposed to be, the desire for power is nearly always an initial temptation that leads people into the occult.  And one is always informed however inadvertently that occult powers will be a natural byproduct or benefit of seeking of the "right things."

Occultism promises many powers that tempt people to dip their toes into the pool of spiritual darkness.  You or someone you know might be tempted by one or more of the following:
  • The power of increased perception, such as telepathy or the ability to see spirits.
  • The power to know the future.
  • The power to prevent bad things from happening - to change the future.  
  • The power to heal and to raise the dead. 
  • The power to manifest or materialize objects, create things out of thin air.
  • The power to attract what you desire - love, money, health, success.
  • The power to bring peace and harmony to situations.
  • The power to get people to do what you want them to do.
  • The power to know God's will or to know His purpose for your life
  • The power to feel another person's feelings, to connect with another person, heart-to-heart.
  • The power to transcend the pain of life and to rise above the matters of the flesh (mind over matter)
People are attracted to horoscopes because they desire the power of knowing what the day holds and thereby ordering it accordingly.

People are attracted to yoga because they desire the power to overcome or prevent illness or injury.

People are attracted to labyrinths because they desire the power to obtain peace and a sense of purpose.

And these are just a few of the different types of power that tempt people into occultism.  People will do a lot of things to allay the feeling of powerlessness.

At one point in my years of occultism, I actually sought the power to become immortal.  I know that might sound absurd, but I was taught that not only was it possible, but also that it was wise to pursue it, and unwise not to.  To pursue it ultimately meant to attain all others powers in existence.

Fundamentally what all these powers mean is freedom from pain in one way or another.  We all want to escape or avoid pain, and many occult powers promise to alleviate that pain. 

Occultism can give us certain powers, but with power always comes responsibility, and we are not always mature enough for that responsibility.  I believe this is one of the reasons we are admonished in God's word against occult practices.  The responsibility of occult power is a burden that God never intended for us to carry.  We were not designed for it. 

Many sins are offshoots of the lust for power.  From disobeying parents to lying, from stealing to murder, countless sins are committed in efforts to preserve or attain power. 

Furthermore, when we are seeking our own power, we are not trusting in God's power.

What a liberating revelation it was for me to finally grasp that God is sovereign over all, that He holds us in His hand, that He is the only one who is all-powerful.

One of the most simultaneously challenging and amazing things to me about becoming a Christian was the idea of relinquishing all power over to God, dying to self and trusting Him to direct my steps.

A man's heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth his steps.  Proverbs 16:9

It's an exhilarating leap into the unknown, but the reward is eternal.  God is capable of carrying the weight of His power.  When we give up that burden and trust Him with it, our yoke becomes light.  And I believe that's the way it was always meant to be.
Image courtesy of [renjith krishnan] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Monday, April 8, 2013

The Spiritual Significance of the Tongue



In January, 2010, a man in India sliced off his tongue as an offering to a deity, in the hope of being blessed with a son.

In February, 2012, a seventeen-year-old boy in India chopped off his tongue to appease a goddess.

In yet another story, in April, 2012, a sixteen-year-old boy in India slit his tongue and offered it to a deity.

From an occult perspective, the tongue bears a great deal of significance.  It's associated with the element of fire as well as spiritual and sexual power. 

When I was training to become a Reiki master, I was taught to hold my tongue against the roof of my mouth.  This position of the tongue is believed to help the body complete a "circuit" through which the Chi energy would circulate, in order to transfer it to others.

In Aztec and Maya cultures, priests have a history of piercing their tongues to honor their gods.  And in Asia, tongue piercing has been done as proof of trance in mediums.

In the Buddhist religion there is a Tantric deity whose distinguishing feature is a forked tongue.  In artwork, she is portrayed as deadly, arrayed with human skulls and feet that dance on the corpse of a man.

In Hare Krsna temples, a rigorous daily practice of cleaning the tongue by scraping with a special tool is required of devotees.  Ayurvedic teachings claim that each region of the tongue is linked to a set of major organs.  And when I used to get acupuncture, my acupuncturist used to look at my tongue each week in order to diagnose my condition.

The protruding tongues of gargoyles represent the sexual principle, which is considered a highly potent force in occultism.  In fact, Satan himself is often depicted with a protruding tongue.  Even as children, when we wanted to express rudeness, we stuck out our tongues.

When a medium channels a spirit, the tongue is held loosely in order to yield it to the spirit that speaks.  This is a counterfeit of prophecy.  As we see in 2 Samuel 23:2, God's word was in David's tongue.

The Bible illustrates vividly the capabilities of the tongue.  According to Psalm 10:7, mischief and vanity can be found under the tongue.  In Psalm 50:19, the tongue frames deceit.  In Psalm 52:2 it's like a razor, in Psalm 57:4 it's a sharp sword, and in Jeremiah 9:8 it's as an arrow shot out.  In Jeremiah 9:3, it's bent like a bow for lies, and in James 3 it is a fire and full of deadly poison.  In Psalm 73:9 it's characterized as walking through the earth, in Proverbs 10:20 it's as choice silver, and in Proverbs 31:26 the law of kindness is in the tongue of a virtuous woman.

As followers of Jesus, we know that "Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof. "  Proverbs 18:21 

We also know that we will give account to God for every idle word

We know that lying is a form of hate

Likewise, controlling our tongues can help us avoid troubles

Many unbelievers have cited the hypocritical tongues of professing Christians as a reason for their disdain toward Jesus' followers, and by default sometimes, His teachings.  Indeed, God hates a lying tongue.

We have all made the mistake of speaking unwholesome, unedifying, and even untrue words.  Sadly, each of us is also aware of the harm and pain that can ensue when an unbridled tongue wags without regard for consequences. 

And when unwholesome speech comes out of our mouths, it often betrays our own secret motives and hidden sins of the heart.

The Bible also tells us the following about the tongue:

Proverbs 15:4
A wholesome tongue is a tree of life: but perverseness therein is a breach in the spirit.

Psalms 39:1
I said, I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue: I will keep my mouth with a bridle, while the wicked is before me.

James 1:26
If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain.

1 Peter 3:10
For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile:

So, how can we bridle our tongues?  How can we control what we say and keep our souls from the troubles that the tongue can bring?

When I first met Jesus, my language could have made a sailor blush so hard his eyes would water, and I wanted to change that.  I set out to discipline myself and started by applying the "what goes in must come out" rule.  Jesus did say it was what came out of our mouths rather than what went into them that made us impure

I determined that counting my blessings was a must.  David continually gave thanks to God, even in the midst of suffering.  I still try to make a practice of coming up with a different thing each day to give thanks for.  I even post this "thank you" on Facebook if I have time.

Praise is also a powerful weapon against any evil thing.  Its power in battle is demonstrated numerous times in scripture.  Glorifying God always helps break oppression from the enemy.

One preacher advised those struggling with an unruly tongue to read Psalms out loud, daily.  Psalm 71:24 says, "My tongue also shall talk of thy righteousness all the day long: for they are confounded, for they are brought unto shame, that seek my hurt."  Clearly, speaking of God's righteousness is good.  Reading Psalms out loud did help me a little.  Reading the whole Bible helped even more. 

As my mind was renewed by the word of God, I slowly started noticing something.  It was the profane attitudes in my heart that gave rise to the profane words I spoke.  The sins of the tongue originate within the heart.  It is what's in the heart that comes out of the mouth.  If we want to stop sinning with our tongues, we need to seek a change of heart. 

If you ask God to change your heart, He will.

I pray that the words of my tongue - the words of my heart - will make a difference in this world, for Jesus.
 

Monday, April 1, 2013

Do You Have a Golden Donkey?



God meets us where we are.  This is true.

Before I became a Christian, as those of you who have read my testimony know, I had an encounter with a rattlesnake.  Immediately upon arriving home afterward, I looked up "snake" in my power animal dictionaries.  Many of the entries I found spoke of things that made me think God might be speaking to me about turning my life over to Jesus Christ.

That may have been true.  I certainly took it as a sign at the time.  That was my language - the reading of signs.  The signs accumulated until I could no longer deny them.  I recall actually saying at one point, "I might not know that much about what Christianity is really supposed to be, but I know how to read the signs, and the signs are all pointing toward Christianity." 

While I was investigating Christianity I met a woman who was very kind to me, very Christ-like, in my opinion.  She drove me wherever I needed to go, bought me tons of groceries out of her own pocket, and never showed a trace of judgment toward me, even though she knew what I did for a living.  I was a professional psychic who also did healing, counseling, life-coaching and teaching on pagan and new age subjects, and she seemed to accept me completely. 

As the time neared that I would begin my new life with Jesus, I began collecting all my occult books and placing them in one area of my house to burn.  One day, the lady who was so kind to me was visiting me and saw all the books there, in my living room.

"What are these?" she asked.
"Those are the books I'm going to burn."
"Well, I've been wanting to read this one," she said, pulling one of them from a tall stack.
"I don't think you want to do that.  It's all deception.  Really," I said.

She threw me a veteran smile and said, "I can handle it.  I've been doing this a long time.  I've just been in fundamentalism for so long, I need to read something else for a change."  Then she proceeded to take several more.

Believing she was spiritually more mature than myself, I didn't know what else to say.  I had already warned her, and maybe she was right.  Maybe she could handle it.   

I eventually had to let her go as a friend because she started getting antagonistic with me every time we spoke, trying to convince me that I was wrong to turn to biblical ways and that I needed to return to some of the views I had renounced. 

It was like a delicate surgery for me to draw the distinction between this woman's godly kindness and her unbiblical acceptance of occult beliefs.  It was partly because of her that I had trusted the people at that church enough to let them help me through the transition into Christianity.  Shouldn't I revere her in some way?  Didn't God use her to help me become a Christian?  I believed He did.  I still believe that to this day.

In Numbers 22, God spoke through a donkey.  What if Baalam had clung too tightly to that donkey?  What if he had revered it above any further words from God?  Imagine Baalam casting a donkey of gold after the donkey's death, to commemorate its role in God's work.  God could have appeared before Him in the flesh and he might have disregarded such a manifestation because it was not from his donkey - especially if the God in the flesh told him the donkey was an abomination.  Would this degree of veneration be any less offensive to God than dancing around a golden calf?  

A power animal is a form of shamanic spirit guide - an idol, and in some cases, an actual demon spirit.  The teaching of power animals is spiritism, and spiritism is an abomination to God.  Power animal dictionaries are often used as divination.  The information in them is used to explain the spiritual reasons for encounters with animals. 

Had I revered my power animal dictionaries (or the message I got through them that day) above God's word, I might still be bound up in paganism, unable to move forward in my walk with Jesus.

Sometimes God uses people, things and situations to accomplish His work.  That doesn't mean that the things, people and situations He uses are necessarily righteous, holy or even acceptable in any way.

You might have experienced a "talking donkey moment" with regard to some thing, person or situation in your life as well.  It could have been a friend, a preacher, a church, a song, a book, a quote, a ritual, a symbol, or even a divinatory reading.  

Have you cast a golden idol of your donkey?  If God appeared before you and told you that the thing, person, or situation that brought you to Him was an abomination, would you be able to forsake it for Him? 

I challenge you to examine your heart and mind.  If there is any such golden donkey in your life, any thing which helped you come to Jesus that you hold so dear it's too sacred to consider expendable, I urge you to take it to God in prayer.  Ask Him to help you get free.  Ask Him to show you where to draw the distinctions, so you can move forward in your walk with Jesus and not be bound by the idolizing of something less than Him.

After all, what's more important?  The message or the messenger?  The donkey or the words of God?  I hope you'll agree that it's the message, the words.  Let God use what He uses, but don't cast a golden idol of a donkey.