Saturday, February 28, 2009

Detestable Things...

I will begin today's entry with a confession. When I was very young, I was intrigued by dark things--one dark thing especially, a television show called "Dark Shadows". It was a Gothic soap opera that debuted in 1966 (when I was seven years old) and introduced the vampire Barnabas Collins and his werewolf friends, along with a cast of various other zombie-like cohorts who existed in a world that was very bizarre and very dead. I can first recall watching the show when I was about ten years old, so it had probably gotten progressively more convoluted by the time I discovered it, but the notion that there might be parallel universes and invisible dead people roaming around really captured my imagination.

I know that my mother will cringe when she reads this because I'm confident that any reminder that she allowed my sisters and me to watch the show will mortify her. In her defense, at the time it was all just considered a harmless form of entertainment not unlike a silly ghost story you'd tell around a camp fire, and up until those years, it had not been necessary to critically scrutinize the things that aired on television because every show was generally wholesome. Oh how times change, but I digress.

Often in my early years, I found myself daydreaming about things that I later learned were occult. For one of my birthdays as a preteen, a relative gave me a copy of a book called "Linda Goodman's Sun Signs" and I read it from cover to cover. It was a "how to" book for do it yourself astrologers. Later, someone put a copy of a book on well-known New Age/Reincarnation guru Edgar Cayce in my hands as a young teenager and I read it with great interest. Looking back on these and other things, I shudder to think of who I might have become if God hadn't relentlessly pursued me, and I will never be able to adequately thank him for what he protected me from becoming.

Deuteronomy chapters 17 through 20 were the passages I read today, another continuation of reminders, warnings and encouragement from Moses to God's children.

Here's a snippet from chapter 18 that really grabbed my attention as I read:

9 “When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you, be very careful not to imitate the detestable customs of the nations living there. 10 For example, never sacrifice your son or daughter as a burnt offering. And do not let your people practice fortune-telling, or use sorcery, or interpret omens, or engage in witchcraft, 11 or cast spells, or function as mediums or psychics, or call forth the spirits of the dead. 12 Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord. It is because the other nations have done these detestable things that the Lord your God will drive them out ahead of you. 13 But you must be blameless before the Lord your God. 14 The nations you are about to displace consult sorcerers and fortune-tellers, but the Lord your God forbids you to do such things.”

These warnings from God were very specific and very necessary--there was (and is)another realm--and it is a dark one. It is the place where deception reigns, depravity rules and the devil roams...not the place for any believer and follower of Christ to dabble--ever--at all.

I've had Christian friends who consult their horoscopes daily and blithely dismiss it as no big deal. But it is a big deal. Right here, in the earliest writings about such things, God warns his children that this is destestable to him.

So, what's the message for us? Just stay away from anything that seems remotely occult, potentially New Age, or witch-craft oriented. Those things are NOT of God and are prohibited if we call ourselves Christian.

Tonight, our Pastor hosted a spiritual question/answer time at church. One question that I found striking was something like this: "I want to become a Christian, but I'm really bothered by all the black and white of the religion." In other words, the person was concerned that Christianity narrowly defines things as right and wrong and excludes other possible pathways to salvation.

I love my Pastor's answer. "Would you prefer a God who is confused?" It's that simple really. God is not confused. He knows all things, is unfathomably merciful, and yet very serious about holiness. He is quite aware of the existence of "the dark side" and he wants his children to understand that we are to stay far, far away from even the slightest hint of association with things that he detests.

Thank you Father for relentlessly pursuing me, for lavishly loving me, for fully forgiving me, and for redeeming and rescuing me from evil. Please keep me from evil and keep my loved ones from evil forevermore. In Jesus' Name. Amen.

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