Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Believer’s Guide to Spiritual Warfare

In the Believer’s Guide to Spiritual Warfare, Thomas B. White talks about how Satan deals with people in order to bring about the most damage he can with his limited resources and powers. White says that Satan pollutes the minds and perverts the will of people by using governments, schools, media, religious organizations, etc to influence the lives of believers. This is so true, it has been a very effective avenue for Satan to use. For example, the Bible clearly says that God created everything in 6 days (the Hebrew word “yom,” when modified by an ordinal, ALWAYS means a 24-hour period, so “first day,” “second day,” etc definitely means a 24-hour period), but many Christians have allowed themselves to be fooled by Satan into believing that creation took long periods of time. The schools, government, media, etc have done the job for Satan quite well.

In the section on demon possession, White claims that a Christian cannot be indwelt or possessed by devils, but they can be influenced and harassed by them. His list of ways to deal with the devil is popular with most Christians–prayer and the armor of God.

White gives five scenarios that are good examples of what is happening with Christians today. In the first scenario, the Erosion of Conscience, he talks about the movies Christians go to. I was thinking of movies as soon as I saw the title to this section. We Christians, myself included, think nothing of going to see our superheroes in the theater, knowing full well that there will be vulgar language, sexual innuendo, and nudity. Movies are a way for the devil to get a stronghold on us and we are allowing it to happen.

The other scenarios he mentions are interesting but seem like something that could be no influence from the devil at all. I guess that that is what he is trying to say, that these things can come by direct assault from Satan or from our own sin nature and flesh. A discerning spirit is needed to recognize what is going on when it comes to sin in our lives.

I liked that White put in the book a list of other than demonic causes for problems that people might have. I was a little surprised that he said that homosexuality is mostly a non-demonic influenced activity. I had though that most of these spiritual warfare guys put homosexuality definitely spirit caused category. But then he says that it’s the parent’s fault that a person is homosexual – someone other than the person himself is always at fault!

The chapter on discernment was interesting, I have always been “afraid” of Christians who claim to be able to discern the spirits because I think if I get near them they’ll start telling everyone about my past and present sins and embarrass me. I know this is probably a false impression of a discerning person, but it’s something I think of nonetheless.

The Chapter on protection contained a lot of information I learned while involved in the Pentecostal movement; but since I’ve been a Baptist, I’ve not heard anything on spiritual protection. The two churches on at opposite ends of the spectrum, it’d be nice to hear/read something that was in the middle of the road to get a different perspective on the subject.

Overall, this is a good book; White isn’t too “over the top” in his views. I like the Q&A in the back of the book because it gets right to the point. I’ll definitely keep this book in my library.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Looking for God in All the Wrong Places: My Visits to Non-Christian Places of Worship, Part V

A Sikh Worship Service

I attended a Sikh service that was held in what look like a renovated warehouse. The preacher and some people were inside the warehouse while most of the people were outside looking in though the loading door dock doors. Everything was nicely decorated inside and everyone inside sat on the floor, I didn’t see any chairs at all.

Sikh men wear a turban on their head. Right after 9/11, several Sikh men were killed or beaten because the attackers thought that the turban was a sigh of Islam. It is an 600-year-old religion founded in India.

During the service, the preacher read from one of their two holy books, the Gurū Granth Sāhib or the Dasam Granth, which was read in Sanskrit. Most, but not all of the attendees were Indian; a white woman, whom was a convert to the religion, was kind enough to explain what was happening to me as the service went along. She could not understand Sanskrit, but was taking lessons to learn it.

Right after the service, a bowl of bread dough was offered to their god (they believe in only one god) and then passed out to all the people. I and my group took some of the dough but we all discreetly held it until we could throw it away. The apostle Paul wrote in Corinthians that Christians could eat food that was offered to idols, unless a weaker Christian brother would be offended by it; so we, as a group in advance, decided not to eat it.

We did stay for the meal that is made after every service. It was a fantastic feast of traditional Indian food, which I love! They were very generous and wonderful people, open and willing to share all they had with strangers.


There, but for the grace of God, go I. So many people are seeking God, they just don’t know how to find Him! This is one of the many reasons I don’t believe in people being elected for salvation before the universe being created; most people are searching for the Creator but can’t find Him! If people were chosen and not chosen by God, then there’d not be any false religions full of people seeking His face. There’d be Christianity and atheist and nothing else.

I thank God that I was in a position to realize the truth about Him and His Son! The judgment throne of God will be such a terrible place for so many people! This course has been a blessing for me, it has helped me to see with clearer eyes.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Looking for God in All the Wrong Places: My Visits to Non-Christian Places of Worship, Part IV

Rukmini Dwarakadish Temple

The Hare Krishna temple was almost exactly what I expected it to be. Although, I was a little weary of the area as I was drove past the temple and past all the apartment buildings where the Hare Krishna adherents lived. The outside of the temple had a palace-like facade, but cheaper looking. The inside of the temple looked more like a Disneyland exhibit than a place of worship with colorful statues reminiscent of a grade-school art show. The museum I went through was cheaply put together and not only informed viewers of the history of Krishna, but made an overt attempt at persuading me to consider becoming a follower of Krishna as well.

The first person I spoke with was named Shiva Dev. He said that his name Shiva is also god’s name and that Dev was Sanskrit for god. He is a follower of Hinduism, but his wife is a devout follower of Krishna. He said that he has attended services at a church and a mosque before and felt that all religions were a way to get to god. Mr. Dev was the one who explained about the ones who wore the robes and the markings on their foreheads. He compared those who wore the robes and placed the marks on their foreheads to “Christian priest and nuns,” that they were very devout.

I also spoke with Mamabu, whose name means, “to study.” He said that he was originally a Buddhist, the religion of his parents, but he was comfortable in “an atheist religion.” His future desire is to become “initiated,” which is to become like what we’d call a minister. To do this, he must take a vow not to drink alcohol, or to gamble, or to have illicit sex, plus he must submit fully to a master. Once he has taken the vows and studied the scriptures, he will take a simple exam to become initiated.

The service has the worshippers standing facing a stage, on the stage is several statues and some devoted followers who ring bells and wave fans; on the walls of the temple are several paintings of Krishna and other people. A leader sings the Hare Krishna song and the worshippers repeat the song after him. There are some people out on the floor who have drums and cymbals keeping the beat so the worshippers can sway back and forth, clap and dance. The tempo of the singing and music went up and down in waves until finally toward the end people are jumping and yelling, and the music is loudly played. During all this, other people carry incense and fire through the crowd to let the worshippers wave their hands through the flames and smoke and then they rub their faces and heads with their hands. This is because the fire and smoke has been offered to, and accepted by, Krishna.

After the grand crescendo comes to a close, the people sit on the floor as the temple president and the worship leader make announcements. After this, the people went forward in a line to be blessed by the “monks” and to make donations.

After the service, I went to a yoga room and was able to ask one of the leaders, Prithu das Adhikary, some questions. Mr. Adhikary was a pleasant fellow who sincerely believed in his religion. He said that devout followers showered or bathed each morning and then placed on their bodies 12 marks with clay, one of the marks was the ‘V’ on their foreheads, which stood for “Vishnu,” one of the names for Krishna. He also told us that Hare Krishna followers knew of Jesus and considered him not to be an ordinary being, he came to from the spirit world to preach love, because love is the only true religion.

Mr. Adhikary said that Krishna means “all powerful,” and also that “Hare” is the female part and “Krishna” is the male part of god. He said several times that the main problem with people is that we build the “Berlin Wall” between god and us. He also told us that to know Jesus is to know Krishna, and to know Krishna is to know Jesus. As far as atoning for sin, one should realize they have sinned, then feel remorseful, then make an effort at reconciliation, and then reconciliation can occur. The main way to reconcile with god is by chanting his name over and over. Hare Krishna is a religion full of severely deceived people.

Surrounding the temple were apartment buildings own by the temple and where the adherents lived. It was sad to see all the innocent children being condemned to follow such an ungodly religion held by their parents. Hopefully many will be reached before it is too late.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Looking for God in All the Wrong Places: My Visits to Non-Christian Places of Worship, Part III

Temple Beth Ohr

My visit to this Jewish Synagogue was perhaps the most surprising visit of them all. I had forwarned what to expect by my professor and had been somewhat prepared for what I saw and what I heard, but Rabbi Goldmark’s description of Judaism, which I will describe later, was not what I expected.

The temple was an ordinary looking building with Jewish symbols decorating the inside and outside. We were told that Orthodox Jews called their buildings Synagogues because they believed that there was only one temple and it was in Jerusalem, but Reformed Jews called their places of worship temples. The actual service was somewhat like a very conservative Christian service: some singing (in Hebrew), some scripture reading (in Hebrew and English), and a sermon.

The sermon reminded me of the few Roman Catholic masses I have attended – very bland and almost godless. Rabbi Goldmark mentioned God only once during his 20-minute talk, the rest of the time it was just boring commentary. The congregation was somber and still, it reminded me of some of the Baptist churches I’ve attended where if anyone dared to break a smile, the roof would have caved in! The only person to regularly smile during the whole time was the Cantor, Shannon McGrady Bane – she led the singing and seemed to be happy doing so. This night was a special night because a young boy was having his bar mitzvah on Saturday, so he was doing all the Hebrew scripture reading.

After the service, there was a time of fellowship with coffee and cake; to start it off, everyone was given a shot glass of wine. This surprised me because all the churches I have attended used grape juice, so I assumed that was what I was getting. The back of my throat told me otherwise! Not only was it real wine, it had quiet a kick to it! Everyone I talked to, with one exception, was very friendly and helpful in answering questions. My group’s coffee time was cut short by Rabbi Goldmark as he impatiently beckoned us to himself so he could talk with us.

Rabbi Goldmark was one of the rudest people I have met; his attitude and demeanor were inexcusable for a “man of God.” Even though we were warned of his disposition, he was worse than I ever would have expected from a religious person. To start our session, he outlined the major Judaic beliefs about God and Jesus and a few other points. But then he asked if anyone had seen the movie The Passion of Christ. He then started tearing the movie apart (which did not bother me because I have not seen, nor plan to see, the movie), but he did not stop there. He started ranting about how ALL of the Jew’s problems were because of Christians! About how the Christians have been behind everything bad that has ever happened to the Jews and how what we call the New Testament is all wrong and full of fairy tales, and has intentional altered historical facts. He was putting down Jesus and our faith with such rage that he was almost out of control! If I had been there on my own, and not as part of a school project, I would have walked out.

Finally, he calmed down and we were allowed to ask questions. Rabbi Goldmark said that Judaism believes that God gave us a free will to choose to do good or evil, and that the people who choose to do good, regardless of their faith or religion, would be accepted into heaven. This is the part of Judaism that surprised me. Jews believe that you do not have to be a Jew to get to heaven, he said a person’s beliefs and good works is what gets them into heaven. Perhaps the Rabbi was saying this because he is very liberal and because he said that he does not believe everything in the Hebrew Scriptures is relevant for today. The Rabbi has no desire to convert anyone; he wants everyone to stay in the religion they are in, but just to be the best person they can be. But when asked, he admitted that he was really uncertain what actually happens after death.

Cantor Bane’s role is to lead the singing and to assist the Rabbi, although she said that she and the Rabbi were actually of equal rank in the temple. She said that women could become Rabbis if they want with no restrictions. It was interesting because she was not born a Jew; she converted in her early 20’s and then went to seminary. She was raised a Methodist, but was not fulfilled in the church. Her parents, although still Methodist, attend the Friday night services in support of her in her choice of religions.

Overall, this visit was bitter/sweet. I was glad to hear what some Jews actually believe, but the experience with the Rabbi tainted the whole visit. He is obviously filled with hatred toward Christians and therefore not an unbiased informant.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Looking for God in All the Wrong Places: My Visits to Non-Christian Places of Worship, Part II

Islamic Education Center

The Islamic Education Center is a mosque located in an office complex, not in a building of its own. Before arriving there, I pictured a grand building like the ones I saw during my stays in the Middle East, so I was a little dismayed by the mosque’s unbecoming appearance. But, a building is just a building and what really matters is what happens on the inside of it.

Inside, I met Dr. Sakr (pronounced like soccer), the leader of this mosque and a very popular and much sought-after defender of the Islamic faith. I was a bit surprised by his appearance; he had much lighter skin color for a Muslim than my limited experience had exposed me to before. Perhaps I was just being stereotypical minded, but I pictured all the Muslims as being on the darker side. When the rooms filled with worshippers, I noticed quite a few light-skinned adherents. I noticed at least three, probably more, obviously Anglo-Americans at the worship service.

Inside the mosque, the floors were carpeted and everyone was required to remove their shoes and sit on the floor. Dr. Sakr was kind enough to provide me with a chair for which my back and knees were very thankful! During the service, the men and women were in separate rooms with the women having a televised view of Dr. Sakr as he delivered his sermon. The women’s heads were covered but not their faces, and they appeared to be equal with the men when everyone was together for the meal. The walls were covered with ornate rugs, especially on the northeast side of the rooms because this is the direction of Mecca from here.

Dr. Sakr and the other Muslims were very accepting of me and they all were very friendly and quick to talk about their faith. The three people I spoke with all asserted that the god of Islam, Allah, is the same God of Christianity. They referred to our common beliefs – creation, Adam and Eve, Moses, Abraham, etc. Of course, even though I believe that Allah is not the God of the Bible, I allowed them to talk freely without trying to debate them. The main points of Islam, I was told, were to follow the five Pillars: believe that there is one god, Allah, and in Mohammad; pray five times a day at appointed times; fast during Ramadan; give alms to the needy; and make a pilgrimage to Mecca. Also, the highest calling is to always seek knowledge.

Each person was also adamant that Islam was a peaceful religion and that those who are violent are not following the Qur’an correctly. They insisted that Muslims, Christians, and Jews could live in harmony with each other. It’s difficult to know who is telling the truth in these matters. One of the men I spoke with told me that he was from Israel, but then later he said he was from Kuwait and fled the country when Iraq invaded. Another man said that he was from Bethlehem and that everyone there was either Muslim or Christian; but when Dr. Sakr made the introductions, I don’t remember him saying that anyone was from Israel.

One of the men I interviewed, Usman Ghani, told me that the only ways for a Muslim to reach Allah was through the five daily prayers, and at the Friday worship service. Plus, he said that Allah does not always hear their prayers. I asked Mr. Ghani why the prayers are in Arabic and not in English since they are in America, he said that prayers are kept in Arabic so that a Muslim will understand them no matter where he is in the world. (To me this is pretty silly, just like the Roman Catholic Church conducting mass in Latin when no one understands it and when Christians who speak normal English suddenly start saying “thee” and “thou” and “art”, etc when they pray, as if God can only understand 400 year English and nothing else!)

Perhaps the majority of Muslims are peaceful people, but the Qur’an does advocate violence against non-Muslims (ex. Surah 5:33 and 9:5), so perhaps it is they who are not truly following their scripture when they deny violence.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Looking for God in All the Wrong Places: My Visits to Non-Christian Places of Worship, Part I

While in grad school, I took a World Religions class (which turned out to be one of my favorite classes) in which I and the rest of the class had to visit worship centers of several other religions. My visit to these religious places of worship was an eye opening experience for me. Many years ago, I visited a Buddhist temple in South Korea and Mosques in Bahrain and Turkey, but until this class, I had not spoken to an adherent of these religions while in their place of worship. I’m not exactly sure what I had expected to feel as I visited these places, but the emotion that was at the forefront of my thoughts was sadness. Looking at the people as they came to worship, I could not help but to feel sorry for them and to wonder just how happy they really are with their god or gods.

What follows, in five parts, is the essay I wrote for the class, with some modifications for these postings here; included are my observations and thoughts as I visited these places. I have used some names within this report, they are real people I met on these visits, as far as I know, they are still active participants in the religions I have them in here.

All these sites are in southern California near the school I attended, Biola University. I started with a Buddhist temple called Hsi Lai Temple in Hacienda Heights, then I went to the Islamic Education Center in Walnut; followed by the Temple Beth Ohr in La Mirada, a Jewish Synagogue. Then came the Hare Krishna temple, Rukmini Dwarakadish Temple; and lastly I visited a Sikh service, which unfortunately, I didn’t record in my essay so I don’t remember name nor exact location that I attended.

Hsi Lai Temple

The Hsi Lai Temple is a beautiful Buddhist temple and compound set on a tree-covered hillside. Its buildings are colorfully painted with red and gold colors, and decorated with pictures and statues made of wood and stone. Walls and signs are written upon in both Chinese and English, pleasantly scripted and very attractive. The courtyard was interwoven grass and concrete, and richly adorned with two gardens decorated with statues and waterfalls. Beside the courtyard was a museum containing a variety of artwork that would attract both the religious minded and the post-modern agnostic alike.

Putting aside the physical beauty of the temple and surrounding grounds, Buddhism is a dark and hollow hole. Our guide, Mr. Al Duffy, did not appear to be a very happy person. Perhaps it was because he was trying to be “professional,” but I saw him smile very little. He claimed to have converted from Christianity to Buddhism, but he was a Roman Catholic, which is actually a pagan, or false Christian, religion, so he just went from one dark religion to another. He told us that Buddhist are not too concern with god, or who or what he/it is; they are concern with the here and now and making their lives and the world better.

Although Mr. Duffy was an Anglo, everyone else I saw at the temple was Asian. The followers of Buddha came into the temple, made an offering of fruit, flowers, or incense; they bowed three times to the statue they was in front of them. Some people would then move on to another statue and start the process all over again. Mr. Duffy said that the people were not worshipping the statues, but were meditating on the moral attributes and dedication of the person the statue is representing. It looked a great deal like worship to me though.

The adherents to Buddhism make four vows and then live their lives in fulfilling these vows; the four vows are: to save all beings, to cease all defilement, to continue to study dharma, and to attain Buddhahood. They follow five precepts: no killing, no lying, no sexual immorality, no stealing, and no intoxication. They find freedom from within themselves, and this freedom removes them from the cycle of rebirth, known as reincarnation.

Buddhists can receive training to become monks. Americans wishing to become monks must go overseas to places like Thailand for training. Mr. Duffy told us that he wanted to be a monk so he went to Thailand, but while there, he changed his mind and decided to stay laity. I saw a few monks at the temple, several males and at least one female. The males were very solemn as they went about their work; I noticed the female monk as she was passing through our group and she smiled as she did so. I also saw several laity workers and they did not appear very happy nor friendly.

As I did with all the visits we made, I felt sadness for the people involved in these other religions. Buddhist are trying so hard to make appeasement, even though they really have no god to appease. They are really just lost sheep being led by wolves.

Next is Islam.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Moving to Mexico

I teach online classes at Axia College of University of Phoenix, the following letter to Mr. Obama was posted by a student in one of my classes; I find it to be very funny and prophetic. The poster stated that she got it off of Craigslist, I’d be happy to give credit to the originator if only I knew who it was:

Dear Mr. Obama:

I'm planning to move my family and extended family into Mexico for my health, and I would like to ask you to assist me. We're planning to simply walk across the border from the U.S. into Mexico, and we'll need your help to make a few arrangements. We plan to skip all the legal stuff like visas, passports, immigration quotas and laws. I'm sure they handle those things the same way you do here. So, would you mind telling your buddy, President Calderon, that I'm on my way over? Please let him know that I will be expecting the following:

1. Free medical care for my entire family.

2. English-speaking government bureaucrats for all services I might need, whether I use them or not.

3. Please print all Mexican Government forms in English.

4. I want my grandkids to be taught Spanish by English-speaking (bi-lingual) teachers.

5. Tell their schools they need to include classes on American culture and history.

6. I want my grandkids to see the American flag on one of the flag poles at their school.

7. Please plan to feed my grandkids at school for both breakfast and lunch.

8. I will need a local Mexican driver's license so I can get easy access to government services.

9. I do plan to get a car and drive in Mexico, but I don't plan to purchase car insurance, and I probably won't make any special effort to learn local traffic laws.

10. In case one of the Mexican police officers does not get the memo from their president to leave me alone, please be sure that every patrol car has at least one English-speaking officer.

11. I plan to fly the U.S. flag from my housetop, put U.S. flag decals on my car, and have a gigantic celebration on July 4th. I do not want any complaints or negative comments from the locals.

12. I would also like to have a nice job without paying any taxes, or have any labor or tax laws enforced on any business I may start.

13. Please have the president tell all the Mexican people to be extremely nice and never say critical things about me or my family, or about the strain we might place on their economy.

14. I want to receive free food stamps.

15. Naturally, I'll expect free rent subsidies.

16. I'll need income tax credits so that although I don't pay Mexican taxes, I'll receive money from the government.

17. Please arrange it so that the Mexican Government pays $4,500.00 to help me buy a new car.

18. Oh yes, I almost forgot, please enroll me free into the Mexican Social Security program so that I'll get a monthly income in retirement.

I know this is an easy request because you already do all these things for all his people who walk over to the U.S. from Mexico . I am sure that President Calderon won't mind returning the favor if you ask him nicely.

Thank you so much for your kind help.