Halloween…Innocent or Evil?

–bySharon Merhalski

[I went to a large fabric store the other day and saw Halloween decorations everywhere! Why was this unusual? Because it is the end of July! Normally I would not send you a devotion this long but today I am doing so. I send this with a prayer that you will consider it and ask God to give you His wisdom. And then I ask that you consider sending this to other Christians.]

I wish I could tell you how deeply I know the truth of what we are going to present to you today. I wish I could convey to each of you the depth of evil that surrounds Halloween…and the number of saved and unsaved people who have gotten sucked into Occult practices because they participated in the ‘innocent frivolity’ of this holiday…only to realize later that it was not innocent, rather, it was evil.

In 1967 while I was in college (through a horoscope booklet I purchased at a grocery check out line) I got sucked into the Occult. I had been saved as a bus kid and knew almost nothing about Christianity except that I was going to Heaven. So, when the book told me God made the planets and this was the truth about how He caused each of them to affect mankind…I believed it.

Satan made sure I had many contacts in college with people steeped in parapsychology, witchcraft, wiccan, transcendental meditation, channeling etc., and God made sure that I did not get more than a couple of toes over every threshold people tried to drag me into. But I learned so much, and often I think I learned far too much, about Satan and his high and holy day of All Hallows Eve…Halloween.

Deuteronomy 18:10 “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,
18:11 Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer.
18:12 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.”

I am not going to attempt to write what has already been well-documented and well-written. Rather, with his permission I am going to let Pastor David Brown of Oak Creek, Wisconsin teach you why Halloween is Harmful. In addition his book on Halloween Specifics can be read at
http://logosresourcepages.org/HalloweenBook/h_origins.htm
Halloween Is harmful…I will state boldly that Halloween is harmful! Here are the reasons why.

• Many are exposed to Witchcraft and occult practices at Halloween activities
Like many others, I got my first exposure to occult practices at Halloween parties. My first experience came at a church Halloween party at our youth sponsor’s house. A group of kids went to the basement began talking about contacting the spirits and asking them to show themselves by table levitation. I had not been exposed to anything like that before. Some of them claimed that it really worked. I became uneasy left the party. My second experience came when I attended the Halloween party of a classmate. When it came to “game” time, we went to the basement. Carol asked us all to be seated in a circle and then placed a candle in the middle. She told us to hold hands and then turned off the lights. I asked why we were doing that and she said we were going to have a seance and to call up the devil. Not me! The last person I wanted to communicate with was the Devil. I got out of there.

I can tell you that many children get their first exposure to occult activities at Halloween. I have received communications from all over the United States testifying to that fact. In one school district a “real” Witch was brought in and told the children of the wonderful world of witchcraft including teaching them how to cast a spell. Another group of teens went on a school sponsored Halloween field trip and visited a channeler, which is nothing but a spirit medium who practices necromancy. They had a seance with the intent of contacting (channeling) the spirit of a dead movie star.

Last year I got a call from an alarmed parent. They had discovered their daughter’s diary and what they read blew them out of the water. She and several of her teenage friends were planning on being baptized into witchcraft on Halloween of 1997. Obviously this was not her first contact with witchcraft, but she and her friends had been reading occult material from the school library and decided Halloween would be a good time to form their own coven. Let’s move on to the next reason Halloween is harmful. Halloween is harmful because…

• It provides “an acceptable” opportunity for witches and other occultists to promote pagan beliefs
From about October 1st until October 31st, witches, vampires, Satanists and other occult minions can be seen and heard on TV and radio talk shows. There will be special features on witchcraft. Newspapers and magazines with be packed with occult related articles. Americans have been receptive to this over the years. But, what happens? That brings me to my next point.

• Children and even adults are conditioned to be receptive to occult doctrines and practices and are desensitized by the violence and death associated with it’s celebration
I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me. Psalms 101:3

There is no better illustration of this fact than Ann Landers’ column that I came across while reading a newspaper in a restaurant one afternoon. The title of her column was Parents Must Tackle Violence. The parent wrote:
I heard something today that made my hair stand on end. I hope you will deal with it in your column because it is a symptom of a problem that warrants deep concern. Last October, the teacher of a fourth grade class asked her students to write a short essay on what they would like to do most to celebrate Halloween. Eighty percent of her 9 year-olds expressed the wish to “kill somebody”. Where do children get such ideas? I believe it is fair to say that they get them from movies on TV. What are we going to do about this love of violence among the young? Frankly, it scares me to death. I am – Concerned in California.

Now, I can almost hear some of my readers protesting, the kids were just kidding. You don’t actually believe that anyone would follow through on things like that do you? In fact there are some who do! Evangelist Dave Benoit tells of a mother finding a strange diary, called “The Book Of Shadows” in her son’s room. She, with fear and trembling, leafed through pages filled with satanic drawings. Then her eyes fell on these horrifying words, “Last year I stole a car at Halloween and ran over a kid and killed him. This year, at Halloween, I plan to do the same thing!” The words in his satanic diary proved to be true. He murdered a person the previous Halloween as a sacrifice to Satan.

All parents ought to be concerned. Halloween does desensitize our children by exposing them to violence, death, mutilation and gore. Not only do they expose them to it, they glorify it! I well remember the only haunted house that I have ever been in. I took a camera with me loaded with high speed film. I was shocked by what I saw. In one of the first rooms, there was a partially dismembered woman on an operating table. As I made my way along the darkened hallway a frightening mutilated man jumped out racing a electric saw and threatening to dismember me. And then, perhaps the most gruesome of all was a large lighted butcher’s meat case loaded with very real looking bloody body parts. Listen readers, I do not think that is funny at all. I spent several years on a fire department rescue squad and dismembered and mutilated people have never amused me. And why should it be acceptable at Halloween? Did you laugh and joke on July 22, 1991 when you heard the news t! hat police discovered 17 mutilated and dismembered bodies in apartment #213 which was occupied by Jeffery Dahmer? What are we telling our children if we accept that kind of scene on Halloween and yet gasp with true horror when murder-mutilations come to light on the news?

Halloween is desensitizing our children by its glorification of violence, death, mutilation and gore. Standard television and video viewing fare this Halloween will be slasher/horror movies like Dracula, Scream, “Nightmare on Elm Street”, “Halloween”, and “Friday the 13th” film series and others. Jeffery Dahmer’s favorite was the Exorsist II.

He “watched this movie on almost a weekly basis, for approximately six months, and sometimes 2 and 3 times a week. He identified with the main character in the movie because he appeared to be driven by evil. Tracy Edwards (one who escaped from Dahmer) testified that Dahmer forced him to watch this video. He said that Dahmer identified with the possessed former preacher and he wanted to be demonized. Edwards went on to say that Dahmer began to chant, rocking back and forth. While he did this, it seemed like he was not even there.”

Are you wondering why I am bringing Dahmer into this picture? I’ll tell you why. Many of the horror/slasher pictures are inspired by incidents like the Dahmer case and Dahmer was inspired by a demonic horror picture. I should say, that this is not just my “wild speculation.” Consider actor (and I use the term loosely) Robert Englund. He portrayed razor fingered, mass murderer Freddy Krueger in the “Nightmare on Elm Street” series. Where do you suppose he got his inspiration to play his part? He drew his inspiration from the late Ted Bundy, who raped, brutalized, mutilated and murdered more than 28 women. Englund told Slaughterhouse magazine, “I just read an article on Ted Bundy, so a lot of my imagery is based on him.”

I have had parents and media people tell me that TV does not have any influence on people. Do you believe that? In fact that’s bunk! Companies do not pay millions of dollars to air their commercials during Super Bowl Sunday or the Olympics because they do not influence anyone!

Syndicated columnist George Will does not believe that! He says that studies prove that “a 14-month-old infant can adopt behavior it has seen on television.” He goes on to say that young children are unable to distinguish fact from fantasy, and that they regard television as information about how the world works.

Harriet Kozkoff does not believe that either. This public TV producer told the press:
Entertainment is a powerful socializing agent in contemporary society. Slasher and horror movies…use violence and sexual arousal to maximize profits and are an inevitable prescription for conditioning sexual sadism into our pre-teen, teenage and young adult film fans.

Psychiatrist Dr. Thomas Radecki does not believe that television is neutral either. He said, “Every year film violence and real-life violence continues to get worse. We must protest and stop this growing sadism in our homes, schools, and on our streets.”

Obviously, the problem is wider than just on Halloween. But television programming and video rentals that feature gory, sadistic, demonic, bloody, violent themes are at their peak at Halloween.
Halloween conditions children and even adults to be receptive to occult doctrines and practices and desensitizes them by the display of violence and death.

• Fear can have detrimental affects on people –Fear hath torment 1John 4:18

Fear can have adverse affects. Sometimes the affects can be momentary and at other times they can be long lasting. Here are some examples.

A Christian organization, which works with young people, planned a haunted evening for teens. More than 550 attended. One woman sponsor became so frightened that she wet her pants. What was just as disgusting was that the organization’s newsletter even reported the embarrassing incident to all of its constituents. Let me quote directly:
Over 550 attended the event and there were over 45 salvation decisions. It has been reported to me by very reputable sources that one leader, who will remain nameless, was so scared by a certain individual with a chain saw that she had to endure wet pants the rest of the evening.

What’s going on? Wouldn’t you be frightened if, unexpectedly, a man came at you with a chain saw buzzing! I would. And if I wet my pants from the fright, I certainly would not want someone to publish it for all to read. My point is simply this, when it comes to Halloween, many Christians have set aside their discernment.

It gets worse. An article in the Milwaukee Journal, entitled “Haunted House Fun: It could become a nightmare for kids” stated, “It’s just for fun, you know that. But to a young child, a trip through a “haunted house” created for Halloween could be a nightmare.” Psychologist Marvin Berkowitz of Marquette University said, “Some haunted houses can frighten an adult.” He warned that a child must “go in with the right mental set.” He said, “Make sure they know it’s going to be a fun scare, not a real scare.” The article went on to say that even though you do your best to let the child know this, he still may be traumatized by such an experience.

I don’t believe children should be exposed to such manufactured traumas. Why? Because exposing a vulnerable child can have harmful consequences that run the spectrum from nightmares to emotional damage. In fact, Dr. Grace Ketterman, M.D. says in her book, You and Your Child’s Problems:

A tragic by-product of fear in the lives of children as early as preadolescence is the interest and involvement in supernatural occult phenomena.

I have been counseling in this area long enough to tell you that what Dr. Ketterman says is true! What kids need is not an exposure to horror and violence. What they need to experience is the love of Christ, the love of mom and dad. The apostle John wrote, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.” 1 John 4:18

The final reason that Halloween is harmful is because…
• It provides the opportunity to experiment with the occult to see if it works and an excuse to do evil
Many who are curious about the occult experiment with occult rituals and practices at Halloween. Some of those who were “just playing around” get hooked. Ouija boards, seances, casting spells and small animal sacrifices are among the most common avenues of experimentation.

Others cannot wait for Halloween. They believe it is the most powerful occult day of the year. Jack Roper, occult researcher with C.A.R.I.S. (Christian Apologetics: Research & Information Service) says “…the time of the year where you have the highest rate of satanic ritual crimes is Halloween.” He went on to say, “Around Halloween, one of the things you see is graveyard desecration.” Self-styled Satanists use human bones in their rituals. Graveyard vandalism is a common occurrence at Halloween.

A Milwaukee county parks and recreation employee contacted me several years back. He told me that he found the remains of small animals that had been sacrificed in area parks around Halloween. It was clear that these sacrifices were occult related because the remains were associated with either an altar inside a circle, triangle or pyramid structure.

Just last year a frightened woman called an associate of mine and asked us to come to her house. When we arrived she described an occult ritual that she and her daughter had seen from their upstairs window complete with hooded figures, fire, and an animal sacrifice. It took place in her neighbor’s yard.

While deer hunting in Marinette County, Wisconsin, I came across the remains of a bull that had been sacrificed within a stone circle. Most likely this was part of a Halloween ritual sacrifice performed by a satanic group.

I well remember the shock and trauma caused when a Christian care facility discovered that several of the residents had been ritually abused in occult rites two years in a row at Halloween. I counseled with one of those who had been sexually abused. How could such a hideous thing ever happen at a Christian facility you may ask? The occult group was able to infiltrate the organization when one or more of their members were hired as house parents. Through carefully planned deception, occult members slipped in and forced some residents to participate in their perverted Halloween demon worship rituals. Residents were threatened with horrible reprisals if they breathed a word of what happened to anyone. Thankfully, after a second year of Halloween ritual abuse someone talked. The Christian organization moved quickly and brought in the police. After a careful investigation only one was prosecuted, though several were fired. But there were no convictions. The occultists got off scot-free. Those that were abused were left to deal with their physical and mental scars.

In my efforts to expose the dangers of Halloween and the other occult holidays I have been asked to evaluate many ritual sites and evaluate photos to give my opinion as to whether they are occult related. I have envelopes full of pictures of animals that have been sacrificed, graves that have been desecrated, living persons whose bodies have been mutilated in occult rituals by tattooing, cutting, piercing, whipping and branding. And then there is the envelope marked pictures of human sacrifice. There is not the least little doubt in my mind that Halloween is the Devil’s celebration, packed with evil!

Let’s review. Halloween is harmful because…
1. Many kids are exposed to Witchcraft and occult practices at Halloween activities.
2. It provides “an acceptable” opportunity for witches and other occultists to promote pagan beliefs.
3. Children and even adults are conditioned to be receptive to occult doctrines and practices and are desensitized by the violence and death associated with it’s celebration.
4. Fear can have detrimental affects on people.
5. It provides the opportunity to experiment with the occult to see if it works and an excuse to do evil.

Ye that love the LORD, hate evil Psalms 97:10
Put Ephesians 5:11 into practice, “…have NO fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove (expose) them.”

Published in: on September 18, 2010 at 10:39 am  Leave a Comment  

October is Domestic Violence Prevention Month

We hope you will be praying for those Christians we cannot see, and who do not tell of the emotional and/or physical pain they suffer daily. Please consider wearing a purple awareness ribbon this month as a reminder to others that people are hurting because of domestic abuse…oftentimes the people you would least expect.

Ephesians 4:32 “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”
John 13:34 “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.”

Abuse and Domestic Violence
By Kirby Anderson

Introduction

Each year the lives of women (and men) are altered or destroyed by someone who abuses them. The resulting emotional scars, physical scars, and destruction are evident in social and crime statistics.

Although abuse is significantly under-reported, current crime statistics at least begin to tell the story. The FBI’s Uniform Crime Report routinely lists domestic violence as the leading cause of injury to women ages 15 to 44 in the United States. These injuries are more than those from car accidents, muggings, and rapes combined.

Abuse may be open, flagrant, and in-your-face. But abuse can also be subtle and devious. It may explode on the scene or gradually creep into a relationship. Although women are the primary victims of abuse, men may be victims, also, of abuse.

One of the first steps in dealing with abuse is to identify it. Identifying it is often difficult because it can manifest itself in different forms. Here is a brief survey of the different types of abuse.

1. Emotional abuse is the use of mental strategies or mind games. This would include such things as anger, aggression, humiliation, intimidation, stalking, fear, power, and control. The goal is to inflict emotional damage on the other person.
2. Physical abuse would include the use of body parts or weapons to threaten, punish, dominate, restrain, control, or injure another person.
3. Sexual abuse is the use of forced sexual actions which may dominate, manipulate, threaten, injure, corrupt, or control another person.
4. Social abuse involves other forms of abuse to dominate, manipulate or control another person’s social relationships.
5. Financial abuse is the use of money or financially-related matters to dominate, threaten or control. This may be done to inflict damage on another person or take financial advantage of that person.
6. Spiritual abuse is the controlling of another person’s religious interests or practices. Spiritual damage may be inflicted by criticizing a person’s religious convictions or misstating them for religious purposes.

Although abuse may take various forms, there are often common elements. For example, there often is the tendency to blame the victim of abuse. A woman may be told to “submit” or “pray harder for her marriage” by a pastor or church members. And often women go back into abusive relationships, leaving many to wonder.

In this article, we will try to provide some answers and perspective on this important issue.

Types of Abusers

Although abuse and domestic violence are one of the most pressing social problems of our time, most of society (including churches) still view the crisis as a private matter. Abused women are often advised by pastors and members of a congregation to “pray harder” or “try to become a better wife.”

Abuse has not only been ignored by the church but often by the medical profession. In their study of abuse, Evan Stark and Ann Flitcraft found that out of one million women who sought medical treatment for injuries sustained by husbands and boyfriends, doctors correctly identified the injuries as a result of battering only four percent of the time.

Frequently child abuse and domestic violence go hand in hand. Men who abuse their wives will often also abuse their children. Research shows that in homes where domestic violence occurs, children are abused at a rate 1500 percent higher than the normal average.

Often this abuse begins even before a child is born. One study of 1200 white, Latino, and African-American pregnant women, found that one in six reported physical abuse during pregnancy.

Researchers now conclude that there are two types of abusers. Neil Jacobson and John Gottman document this in their book, When Men Batter Women. Their study of more than 200 couples in dangerous relationships helped shatter myths and shed new light on abusive relationships.

They describe two types of batterers: Cobras and Pit Bulls. The Cobras are more severely violent of the two. They strike swiftly and ferociously, always remaining in control and feeling entitled to whatever they want.

Pit Bulls are violent because they are insecure. They are more likely to lose control, letting their emotions burn slowly until they explode in anger.

Jacobson and Gottman intensively studied about 60 of the 200 couples by watching videotapes of non-violent arguments of severe batterers and their spouses. To eliminate some of the subjectivity, they also monitored the vital signs (heart rate, sweat flow) of the couples.

They found that Cobras resemble the snake for which they are named. They become still and focused just before striking their victim. They become internally calm during abuse. While the heart rates of Pit Bulls increase during abuse, the Cobras’ heart rates actually decrease.

Pit Bulls are driven by deep insecurity and often have an unhealthy dependence on the mates they abuse. They are afraid of losing their wives and therefore try to control them through physical and emotional abuse. Cobras have often been physically or sexually abused themselves (frequently in childhood) and tend to see violence as an unavoidable part of life.

Boundaries

Often victims of abuse feel they deserve the abuse they receive. They have been convinced (by their partner or perhaps by society in general) that the abuse is their fault. It is not. To reinforce this claim, here are eight things that no one deserves:
1. No one deserves to be pushed, slapped, bruised, or kicked. No excuse makes such actions justifiable, whether drugs, alcohol, financial problems or family problems.
2. No one deserves to be verbally abused. No one should be called names or yelled at for no apparent reason.
3. No one deserves to have possessions damaged (dishes thrown, clothes torn) or gifts destroyed. These things don’t automatically become “his” just because he paid for them from a joint checking account.
4. No one deserves to be interfered with in coming and going. You do not need to be told when you can or cannot leave the house, go shopping, or go to school.
5. No one deserves to be followed, harassed, or spied upon. As an adult, you have the right to go where you want, and spend time the way you choose.
6. No one deserves to be ridiculed, put down, made fun of, or belittled. This applies both at home and in public.
7. No one deserves to be emotionally starved. Everyone has emotional needs: to love, to be loved, to care and be cared for, to need others and to be needed by others. This involves more than just one person who is demanding your time and attention.
8. No one deserves to be isolated. You deserve to have a community of people around you rather than just a spouse who dominates your life.

Each person has rights that should be asserted to prevent abuse from taking place. Here is a short list of those rights:
1. You have the right to be treated with respect. All are created in the image of God (Gen. 2:26-27) and have value and dignity. You deserve respect regardless of your economic status, race, religion, or sex.
2. You have the right to be heard. You have ideas and opinions and should be free to express them.
3. You have the right to have a support system. You shouldn’t have to depend on one person in your life to provide all your emotional needs and who cuts you off from the rest of society.
4. You have the right to come and go as you please. You should be able to make choices about what you do with your free time.
5. You have the right to have privacy and space of your own. You don’t give up those rights when you get married or when you begin to have children.
6. You have the right to maintain a separate identity.
Each of these rights are important in establishing boundaries in a relationship.

These are key components in preventing abuse.

Myths of Abuse

Let’s turn now to some of the myths of abuse.
One myth is that victims of abuse come from lower-income families with little education. In reality, victims of domestic violence come from all walks of life. Race, religion, socio-economic background are no predictor of abuse. Victims of abuse may be well-educated or uneducated, professionals or common laborers.
A second myth is that victims stay in abusive relationships because they like being abused. That is simply not true. Many have been conditioned to accept beatings because they are blamed by their abusers, but they do not like being beaten. Many victims actually “accept abuse as common in relationships.”

So, why don’t victims leave? The answer to that is often quite complex. Many women believe they cannot leave because “He can’t live without me.” They may fear he will have a nervous breakdown, commit suicide, or lose his job.

She may believe that the children need a father, rationalizing that an abusive father is better than no father at all. And she may think she cannot make it alone in the job market.

Many women fear they will be killed if they leave an abusive relationship. And that fear may be justified. Studies show that battered women are more likely to be killed after leaving an abusive relationship.

Abuse victims also convince themselves that things are going to get better. Hope springs eternal, and there is always the hope that with the right changes and hard work, abuse will go away. Sadly, it does not.

A third myth is that violence happens mostly between strangers. Contrary to popular belief, a woman’s greatest risk of assault is from an intimate partner. Statistics from the Department of Justice indicate that women are attacked seven times more often by offenders with whom they have an intimate relationship than are male victims of violence.

A fourth myth is that abuse is not a major problem. Domestic violence is one of the most serious health problems today. As we have mentioned, it affects every socioeconomic segment of society. “Federal officials estimate that domestic violence costs U.S. firms $4 billion a year in lower productivity, staff turnover, absenteeism, and excessive use of medical benefits.”

What the Church Can Do

Domestic violence is pervasive in our society and crosses all socioeconomic levels, religious belief, and cultural backgrounds. Abuse affects our lives, our homes, and our society. Is there anything the church can do to deal with this important issue? Here are a few suggestions.

First, pastors and church members should be aware of the extent of the problem. I have provided some social statistics to demonstrate how pervasive abuse is within our society. It isn’t a problem to be ignored or addressed through simple clichés.
Second, pastors and counselors need to help abuse victims set boundaries in their lives. Battered women often find it difficult to make choices because someone else has been making decisions for them. Many women who live in violent homes went from their father’s house straight to their abuser’s house. They never have had much experience in making their own personal choices.

If you are seeking to help an abuse victim, you should encourage her to make her own decisions. Resist the temptation to rescue and take over her life. She needs to feel empowered not helpless. At the same time, you can provide suggestions about finding a family counselor or a domestic violence agency.

Third, if you are a pastor, a counselor, or just a caring friend, you can provide counsel and comfort. She needs to hear from you that she doesn’t deserve to be abused. Acknowledge the seriousness of the situation, and don’t let her convince herself that the abuse will go away.

Fourth, be prepared for crisis intervention. Quick action may be necessary to protect her and her children. Ask her to describe the circumstances of the last two or three beatings. What preceded his attack (drugs, alcohol, argument)? Where is her relationship right now?

A pastor or counselor who receives a crisis call only has a few moments to discern the extent of the threat and appropriate actions that should be taken. Can she find her way to a safe place immediately? Do you have a place for her to go, if necessary?

Sometimes the crisis arrives at your office or home. A pastor, counselor, or caring friend may need to arrange for medical attention and a safe place away from the abuser.

If the couple is separated, she may be stalked by her abuser. She needs to know who can protect her and how to contact legal services.

Fifth, the church should address this important issue of domestic abuse. By speaking to this issue, we break the silence surrounding abuse and confront it with biblical principles. The church should hold batterers responsible for their actions. Intervention, confrontation, and tough love should be tools used to fight abuse in our communities.

If the batterer is a member of the church, then Matthew 18 provides a model for confronting “offenders” within the church. Galatians 5:22-25 talks about the fruit of the Spirit with includes kindness, gentleness, and self-control. These and many other verses provide a model for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16). Christians have an important role in dealing with abuse within our society.

Published in: on September 13, 2010 at 4:52 pm  Leave a Comment  

Please Help STOP Child Abuse

April is Child Abuse Prevention month

While the teal and royal blue ribbons will be a reminder to all of us in
April–a reminder of children being damaged or murdered–many people will feel helpless to make a difference in this growing evil in our society. We believe education for the awareness and prevention of child abuse is *THE* main component of making a real change for the safety of children.

We have researched countless materials looking for one resource that provides concise valuable information and we are pleased to recommend a valuable free booklet to you: 7 Steps to Protecting Our Children

You can go to http://www.darkness2light.org and download this booklet for *free*. You may also want to consider ordering some in print to give to your family and friends. They are very reasonably priced.

We ask you to consider sending this web site to your family and friends. Together we can make a difference to STOP child abuse!

Also, please visit our New Hope facebook page…and consider becoming our
friend:
http://www.facebook.com/pages/New-Hope-Outreach/72175813978

Sharon Merhalski
New Hope Outreach

Published in: on March 23, 2010 at 10:15 am  Leave a Comment  

Relationship or Religion

By Sharon Merhalski

Philippians 3:10 “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;
:11 If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.
:12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow (pursue; press toward) after, if that I may apprehend (take eagerly; seize; possess; obtain; perceive; overtake) that for which also I am apprehended (take eagerly; seize; possess; obtain; perceive; overtake) of Christ Jesus.
:13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,
:14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” (Word definitions in parenthesis from the Strong’s Concordance.)

About twelve years ago I came to the startling realization that I was a shallow Christian living mainly on my religion…basing my standing with God on do’s and don’ts and preferences/rules that are not mentioned in the Word of God. So I stopped and sat down in a dry desert place with my heart weeping for a deeper relationship with God.

Life for our family had grown complicated and one morning I realized all I knew about God–and my shallow connection/relationship with Him–was no longer sufficient to live victoriously above my situations. So I began a journey to know God intimately. Oh “That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection” became the consuming cry of my heart….full well knowing that “the fellowship of His sufferings” would make me conformable unto His death.

The first step of my journey required a renewing of my mind concerning religion vs. relationship with God. I had to come to the place where I realized that Jesus didn’t die so His children could be religious…He didn’t die so His children could each have their own brand of religion, be in our own cloistered denominations saturated with pride of thinking we are the only ones who are “right”. No, Jesus died to provide His children with intimate fellowship with Him. The veil of the temple was rent/torn from top to bottom so we could have access to the Holy of Holies…His presence 24/7. Jesus died to provide a deep personal connection with Him. He did not die to provide religion as a substitute for relationship.

In Philippians 3:10 Paul is talking about knowing Christ so we can live a resurrection life of victory over our sin and also over the trouble we will experience because we live in a sin-cursed world: The resurrection life is living a life where no matter what is going on around us we find the strength in Christ to live above it…not yielding to despair because of it.

Verse 12: We are to press on, not for what we want, but for the will of God. And we aren’t to follow after God pressing onward for prosperity, health, job promotion, personal promotion or other things ‘we’ want…we “follow after”/press on for the will of God, regardless of what His will may be for us.

Pressing on as we walk with God brings us to a place of needed surrender to God. (Romans 12:1-2) I had to come to the place in my life where I could trust all of God with all of me and tell Him that whatever His path and workings were for my life I would be okay with it…instead of squirming and working to change it to what I wanted and/or what was comfortable. Each of God’s children must come to the place where we are okay with His will because we trust Him…then we will begin to know Him and develop a very necessary intimate relationship with Him.
Getting to know God intimately requires an investment of time…an investment which will never bring regret. 2Timothy 2:15 “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” And as much as we need to study the Word of God for doctrine and truth we also need to study to be quiet (I Thessalonians 4:11) and listen for the still small voice of God as we seek a deep relationship with our Abba Father. Psalm 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God:” John 10:4 “And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.” God’s wants to fellowship with us…speak to our hearts as a parent does with their child and as friend does with friend. God created us to have fellowship with Him…to walk and talk with him in whatever garden His will creates for us.

May we all remember that Jesus didn’t die so we could be religious…He didn’t die so His children could each have our own brand of religion, be in our own little denominations touting our preferences as Biblical truth, with the pride of thinking we are the only ones who are “right”. No, Jesus died to provide His children with intimate fellowship with Him…the veil of the temple was rent/torn from top to bottom so we could have access to the Holy of Holies. Jesus died to provide a deep personal connection with Him. He did not die to provide religion as a substitute for relationship. I know from experience that religion will never enable us to live a victorious Christian life.

Published in: on January 20, 2010 at 9:30 am  Leave a Comment  

Jesus Christ — The Theme

by Sharon Merhalski

People send me a lot of forwards and articles. I don’t have time to read all of them but a statement in one article grabbed my total attention:

“Jesus Christ was the theme of their life.”

As I sat with God and mused on this statement I first thought of a themed birthday party and how obvious the theme is when a person enters the room. From the decorations in the house, the cake, the plates, napkins, cups and games…all will display the theme. And often the birthday person will even wear clothes displaying the theme of the party.

I then thought of Bronner’s, a Christmas store in Michigan where every single thing in the building portrays the Christmas theme…even the way the sales clerks dress. From the time a person gets the building in view until the time they leave and the building is out of sight, the theme of the establishment is unmistakable.
I did a word study to help me further understand the word “theme.”

Theme: a subject or topic of discourse or of artistic representation; a written exercise; a melodic subject of a musical composition or movement (Webster’s Dictionary)

Theme: the theme is not intended to teach or preach. In fact, it is not presented directly at all. You extract it from the characters, action, and setting that make up the story. (Learner.org)

Our person—our life—not just what we speak–is a message…an “epistle” which in the Strong’s Concordance means: written message; letter.

2Cointhians 3:2-3 “Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men: Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.”

2 Corinthians 3:3–Barnes Commentary: “They had been made manifest to be such by their conversion. The sense is, it is plain, or evident, that ye are the epistle of Christ.”

“Jesus Christ was the theme of their life.”

Philippians 2:12 “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”

Work out—Strong’s Concordance G2716 to work fully, that is, accomplish; by implication to finish, fashion: cause, do (deed), perform, work (out).

My heart is filled with questions: What theme have I worked out in my life–with the Holy Spirit–for others to see and not just to hear? How much of my epistle have I written in my own strength and wisdom? Does the theme I have worked to ‘write’ honor and glorify the Lord Jesus Christ and show—not just tell–the power of His resurrection?

I believe God makes it clear that we are responsible to author our lives: In the Old Testament He admonishes us to “up and sanctify yourselves” and in the New Testament He admonishes to “work out”/cause/fashion our “epistles”. We are responsible for writing our books that all men will read. The question is does that book we have chosen to write have the theme of Jesus Christ from the first word of chapter one to the last word of the last chapter?

We just loaded our new web magazine with articles, and we are continuing to do so. Some of the articles were moved over from the old web site…but not until each was read and often edited by the author. Some old articles were even discarded. Some may ask why they needed to be edited…or discarded? Because God continually works to mature/change His children, desiring to teach us Biblical truths, often dispelling things previously learned and believed. (I have grown to believe that all of us need to take inventory to see what we may be embracing that has sadly become the ‘norm’ instead of what the Word of God plainly says is absolute truth.)

The Bible says we need to “put off” and “put on.”

Ephesians 4:22-24 “That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old
man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the
spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in
righteousness and true holiness.”

As I sit here this morning I am asking God to show me where I need to use an editor’s pen. I am seeking the Holy Spirit, “the Spirit of the Living God” to re-set…where needed…the theme of my epistle that God may be totally glorified in every nook and cranny of the pages.

Lord, I so desire to be like the Christmas store in Michigan where my theme is plainly seen from the moment a person approaching gets me in view. I want the manifestations of the absolute truths of the Word of God and the power of the Spirit of God to consume the pages of my epistle for Your glory only and the power of Your might through the workings of Your Holy Spirit.

Published in: on August 20, 2009 at 11:47 am  Leave a Comment  
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