Groundhog Day Musings

Today is Groundhog’s day. It is a day of superstitious tradition that the extension of winter occurs for six more weeks if the groundhog sees his shadow. For those curious about the history and foundation of the practice, it is connected primarily to ancient Celtic pagan practices. In particular it stems from a festival called Imbolc and is part of the pagan concept of Wheel of the Year. There was a Catholic syncretistic festival known as Candlemas and focused on being the time when Mary presented at temple for purification and when Simeon made his pronouncement. The main themes of both the pagan and Catholic tradition are of purification, initiation, and fire. It is seen as a time of light returning and overcoming darkness. This brief history examination is to really show the shaky foundation of Groundhogs day. As with most superstitious rights, the actual accuracy is poor. The Groundhog Day results have only been accurate about 39 percent of the time. It is interesting to examine why this ritual and superstition is held and remains a part of culture. Groundhogs day is really about looking to an early end to the winter season.

The winter season is generally one of trial. It is a time when darkness is greater than light. It is a time hoping for an end and release to what is seen as suffering and trial. In life, we often look for signs or hope that suffering will come to an end. We hope the course of any trial in life is short, or runs a shorter course. It is a focus on hoping that what is not liked ends quickly. Like winter, trials have a set course, they run only for a season. Granted some seasons last a lifetime, but it is always but a moment. Ultimately, the pain and suffering can be blinding. Pain can be all-consuming and the focus becomes on just quick release. Yet, everything serves a purpose. We all suffer, just as we all face winter. It is just a matter of the differences in perspective. No matter how severe the pain or trial it can be endured and transcended. It is all about focus. It is all about connecting to the true light, Jesus. It is about seeing the pains and suffering in this world from a different perspective. Suffering is not the greatest evil in the world. Our focus on self is. Often how we deal with the trials in our life really illuminate how self-focused we are.

Here is a challenge, face each day as it comes. Each day look to Jesus first and take eyes off the ebbs and flows of the seasons of life and the ongoing turning of time. Life is far more than the empty turning of a wheel found in paganistic views, but rather each day has meaning, even the trials and pain. All true meaning is illuminated in Jesus, who is the light of the world. It is Jesus who redeems the darkness and brings true newness. Jesus is the end and beginning of the true circle of life. He is the one who bring true hope, true peace, and true joy that enables standing in the midst.

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The Power of the Resurrection

Stumbled across a video by Muzacman17 on youtube who posted  a powerful video about the power of the Resurrection. Watch it and enjoy. His description of the video

The power of Jesus’ resurrection had such an effect on the world that it might be comparable to the atomic bomb. By conquering death, Christ set us free from the powers of evil in order to better glorify Him.

The song in video is Open Eyes by Snow Patrol

Lyrics:

 

All this feels strange and untrue
And I won't waste a minute without you
My bones ache my skin feels cold
And I'm getting so tired and so old
The anger swells in my guts
And I won't feel these slices and cuts
I want so much to open your eyes
Cause I need you to look into mine 

Tell me that you'll open your eyes
Tell me that you'll open your eyes
Tell me that you'll open your eyes
Tell me that you'll open your eyes 

Get up get out get away from these liars
Cause they don't get your soul or your fire
Take my hand knot your fingers trough mine
And we'll walk from this dark room for the last time
Every minute from this minute now
We can do what we like anywhere
I want so much to open your eyes
Cause I need you to look into mine 

Tell me that you'll open your eyes
Tell me that you'll open your eyes
Tell me that you'll open your eyes
Tell me that you'll open your eyes 

Tell me that you'll open your eyes
Tell me that you'll open your eyes
Tell me that you'll open your eyes
Tell me that you'll open your eyes 

All this feels strange and untrue
And I won't waste a minute without you

 

Blinded to Evil

Last week I had an experience that now in retrospect is worth drawing some meaning out of spiritually.  My wife, mother-in-law, and I went to a Minnesota suburb on the other side of town known for antique shops.  My wife and mother-in-law definitely enjoy shopping and have wanted to go visit this town for a few years.  Well, we visited the town last week and my wife and mother-in-law did some checking out assorted shops.  One shop the stopped by and found some cheap jewelry and assorted trinkets that caught their attention.  They spent a lot of time in the store, when I first entered the store nothing immediately caught my attention other then some unual odds and ends that definitely were of the world, like items with peace sign logos, but nothing that triggered immediate alarm bells. However, there was a downstairs portion to the store. In the downstairs section, I noticed some crystal necklaces that began to point me to reasons for concern. I started paying more attention to the items in the store. I noticed they were selling rune stones right night to the crystal necklaces.  I noticed a sign on the wall that stated “The witch is in.”  I began looking at that assorted stones and beads in the store and found that assorted beads or stones had directions as to things they can help or aide a person with.  The store additionally had a real musty smell and the music playing was clearly of new age/meditative variety.  I eventually had to get out of the store.  Now, sadly I should have informed my loved ones of my concerns, but rather I retreated and waited for them to conduct their business.  They had not noticed any of the things that I had become alerted to in that store.

     The point of this story is really an illustration for how we can fail to see the evil around us.  We can easily get distracted by our own interests or the attractive things around us that we fail to see what is right in front of us.  We often go about blinded to the evil.  And sometimes, even when we are aware, or become aware, we really do not want to believe it.  In the store, the first inclination was to dismiss various items as irrelevant, or inconsequential. However, that store was a place of deep darkness and even upon leaving the store felt overall concern related to spiritual roots of the town. 

     The lesson to be learned here, is we need to open our eyes, ears, and heart to God’s truth. We need to let God alert us to what is around.  Also we need to examine our-self to see if we are letting what we enjoy or are attracted to blind us to evil.  We also need not to be afraid of the evil and darkness, for it is all around us.  We simply become accustomed to the darkness that exists and forgot that we are the ones bringing light into the darkness.  And ultimately, we need to know that the kingdom of this world and the powers of darkness are defeated and their time is short.

     Jesus defeated the powers of darkness at the cross, and while darkness is all around us, the victory has been won.  Jesus is the way out of the darknes, He is the true light of the world.  Only Jesus can really open our eyes to see what we are blind to and take us out of the darkness which is energized by our own selfishness.

A picture of Apostasy: Candle snuffing self out.

Last night on New Year’s Eve my wife, mother and I spent some time in prayer. We used candles and lit them for varied prayer concerns. The candles were simple table candles, nothing special. During the course of prayer, one of the candles snuffed its flame out with its own wax. After thinking it over and discussing it, it seem clear that a candle snuffing itself out is a clear picture of apostasy. Once a candle drowns its own wick in wax and snuffs out the flame, it is beyond redemption. The candle can no longer be an instrument of light. The same with any believer, who having been light with God’s Holy fire and turns from God and snuffs the light with own concerns, the light cannot be relight and no redemption is further possible.

The question is when does someone cross the line into apostasy? Clearly it comes when someone turns to something other than God toward something of self. It is an active ongoing choice. It is more than just a willful denunciation of God, for I have heard of people who have perform magic rituals against God that had not yet crossed a line into apostasy to where they were beyond redemption. Apostasy comes when some desire of self and soulish ideas take precedence over the truth of the Gospel. It is when the truth of God is exchanged for a lie, which is twisted from the truth. Apostasy is a willful choice and is based in blatant rejection of the truth for a lie to the point that the whole of self is submitted no longer to God, but rather the lie. It is not just seeking after other gods and willfully turning to them, it is rather reaching a state of disconnect from God and willful abandonment of the truth. There is a point at which a line is crossed and one moves away from faithlessness and is at the point of full disownment.

In thinking further about the candles and the prayer last night, there were many candles on the verge of drowning themselves out, yet remained lit. In the same sense there are many who have accepted deceptions and our following after self or other gods yet, the wick remains lit. They have come close to apostasy but have not yet crossed the line where the light is extinguished. There were other candles as well, some that burned quick, some burned slow, some with evident impurity, some that seemed clear but all still burned bright. So it is with those who have accepted the Light of the Messiah. We all have differences, yet all still shine the light. Our lives even continually reflect the light of the truth of the Gospel. And light did once shine from those that become apostate. There is evidence in their lives of when the light of the Gospel shown bright and the truth was reflected. Yet now the light shines no more. It is sad. Yet, in that sadness I am struck that only one candle out of thirty became self-extinguished. So while the bible promises that there will be a great falling away, those that become apostate are small in comparison to those who continue to let the light of the true Gospel shine.

The question is then where is the reader today? Have you accepted the light of the Gospel and turned from self? Have you accepted the gift of your most vile and selfish actions being wiped clean by the Cross? Have you let Jesus take on the consequences of your selfishness? If you have not, you still can. It involves simple acceptance of the gift and surrender to Jesus. It is a simple thing, yet very tough to do.

For those who have accepted the light of the Gospel? Where are you in your walk today? Are you walking in faithlessness and ever flirting with the border of apostasy and self-extinguishing the light of the Gospel? Please I pray for each reader to examine themselves before God and let God shine His light and expose the lies and impurities and all that needs to be turned from and cleansed. For while it is still Today and the light still shines, it is not too late.

Halloween: Reflections on three foundational elements of the celebration

Today is Halloween, a day that many, both young and old,  look forward to celebrating.  For some, it is a day they look forward to above all others.  However, what does the day really celebrate.  There are three distinct elements the encompass the celebration.  The day celebrates fear, selfishness, and deception.  This article will examine each element of this celebration a little more closely. 

    Lets take a look at the first element fear.  Now fear in and of it self is not a bad thing.  We are created with emotions, and fear is one of them.  Halloween seems to be more about celebrating all that generate fear.  It is taking a look at all that moves about in the dark places and celebrating the power that generates fear.  Monsters, demons, serial killers, all that is dark and evil is celebrated.  Why do we celebrate these things.  Some may argue that ultimately it is to reduce the power these things have to generate fear. However, the exact opposite occurs.  The things of evil and darkness are given more power. The day actually minimizes the true power and reduces the evil and darkness to silly things that no one takes seriously. When we celebrate the dark things that ellict fear, as we ramp up exposure to them, these things seem less scary and ultimately seem less a threat.  So as the things that generate fear are celebrated, the power of evil to influence grows as the threats are minimized and reach a point where not taken seriously.

The other foundational element celebrated is selfishness.  Selfishness is a key element to the celebration.  Engaging in trick or treating is at is core celebrating selfishness. It is all about getting what you want and doing so with threat of harm if you do not get it.  It is a day when people feel comfortable pursuing base things and seeking after assorted pleasures that elevate self.  This should be no surprise because the religions that consider Halloween an important day have at the core of their religion elements of self-entitlement.  This can be seen in Wicca, the New Age Movement, Druidism, and any other pagan based religions.  So, Halloween in essence celebrates self-empowerment and teaches seeking after our own desires. 

The third element that is celebrated in Halloween is deception. This is seen in the use of costumes and masks.  It really celebrates pretense and masks. It really plays out the human propensity to hide and defend through what is seen to be harmless fun.  However, if examine closely it is a celebration of they way each of use deception and makes deception thought of as something “fun.”  It celebrates the ways we lie, hide, and protect.  Deception is the rule of the day.  There is little awareness that what is celebrated actually serves to spread being comfortable with deception as well as awareness of the damage all deception does.

So in essence Halloween celebrates darkness at the core through elevating fear, selfishness, and deception.  Ultimately such a celebration really simply results in making each of us more comfortable with the darkness around us and in our own lives. The truth is celebrating the darkness leads to destruction.  There is often great evil done on this day.  Ultimately the great evils done are not the worst. It is the simply minimization of evil and elevation of self that are the core elements that will lead to destruction.  The sources of fear, the selfishness, and deception is simply made to be non-threatening when they are the key elements that drive us from faith and away from God.   The truth is found in the light of Jesus the Messiah.  All the powers of darkness, sources of fear, selfishness, and deception have no power. They have all been defeated at the cross.  So on this day, I praise God for the work of the Cross.  I praise God for his setting me free from all that is dark. The things of darkness have no power in comparison to the light of Jesus. The things of darkness have been defeated and their time is short.  So while in these days and times the powers of darkness seem to have full sway and certainly manifest on these days of celebratory evil, it is but temporary.  All praise to the one true God who sent Jesus to cleanse us from selfishness. The things of this earth and flesh, like Halloween can bring momentary pleasure, but it is temporary and comes with a cost.