Things That Go Bump in the Night

Hebrews 9: 24 – 28                             

Jesus believed in the devil, demons, and evil spirits. Do you?

The outcome of Christ’s encounters with demonic powers is summed up in Colossians 2: 15, “Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.” There is victory in Jesus.

In America today there is a celebration of the spiritual underworld lifestyle called Halloween. That holiday isn’t what it was when many of us adults were children, and it isn’t what it was long before that.

Fear sells. A recent survey among teens showed more of them know who Freddy Kruger is than Abraham Lincoln.

What a couple of decades ago was a fun filled night of collecting goodies has changed. Today more personal property is destroyed on this day than any. Costly vandalism reaches a peak on this night. Razor blades and needles are buried in fruit. Hallucinogens are put in candy. It is not simply the scary night it used to be. It is now a frightening night.

The word Halloween comes from the event called “All Hallows Eve.” It is now the evening before All Saints Day.

Even before the time of Jesus, the ancient Druids had a holiday honoring their lord of the dead, Samhain. It was on the last day of October, the Celtic new year.

Druids believed that on this night Samhain called forth the souls of all who had died during the last twelve months and had during the time following their death been inhabiting animal bodies. These spirits returned to their former homes where the occupants were to treat them by providing food and entertainment for them. If it wasn’t acceptable, these spirits played tricks on the residents. From this emerged our Trick or Treat.

Legend says a man named Jack tricked the devil into not bothering him during his life. At death, Jack was denied both heaven and hell. He groped his way through the dark by carrying a glowing coal in a carved out turnip. From this came our Jack-o-lantern.

Halloween is one of the highest and holiest days of the occult year. Though witchcraft and Satanism are separate, both celebrate this day.

Children should be taught it is at best a fun day, not a fright day. Remove the supernatural fear factor from the celebration. It is a good occasion to focus on the fact “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and of a sound mind” (II Timothy 1: 7).

The Roots of War

Having visited Israel 44 times and four Arab countries. I have friends there about whom I am concerned. Last Saturday I talked with two of them. One is a delightful lady who lives in Jerusalem. Jokingly she said there is a lot of talk about the Iron Dome Israel has. However, persons living in Jerusalem have a better dome of protection, the Dome of the Rock. No terrorist would dare to fire a rocket near it.

The other friend is a Christian Palestinian from Beit Jala, a tiny village near Bethlehem. I have a number of friends in Israel of both extractions and love them all.

Both I talked with expressed concern for all innocent people on both sides and requested prayer.

Within the borders of Israel lives a complex citizenry. Consider just two classifications: Jews and Arabs. A Racial Jew can be a religious Jew or a racial Jew who is a Christian. An Arab can be a Palestinian who is a religious Muslim or Christian. That is an oversimplification of life in Israel.

What Israel is doing is an effort to prevent it happening to themselves. It is stated in the Hamas Covenant: “Israel exists and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it.”

Article eight of the Covenant serves as a slogan for Hamas, “Jihad is its path.” Further resolve is contained in the Covenant: “Initiatives, proposals, international conferences, are all a waste of time, and vain effort.”

“Obliterate” is the operative word. Consider this historical root of the war.

During the 1967 Arab–Israeli Six Day War Israel conquered territory occupied by the Arabs. Our former General Patton got it right when he said, “War is Hell.” In this war, as with all, neither side is perfectly innocent, only one side is right. Part of what Israel did was indeed bad. We first visited Israel shortly after the war and had people tell us of some of the things Israel did in the war. They followed by saying often before the outbreak they heard Arabs talking on the street about what they were going to do to the Jews when they defeated them. In light of that they conceded things would have been much worse if the Arabs had won.

Displaced Palestinians fled territory conquered by the Jews and went into Jordan, taking much of their war machinery with them. An intolerable conflict between them and the Jordanians broke out with Jordan driving them out into South Lebanon where they developed into Hezbollah. Today’s Hezbollah fighters are embittered children and grandchildren of persons displaced by the Six Day War. They have never conceded that to the victor goes the spoils.

With Hezbollah now poised in Lebanon on the border with Israel there is a need for prayer. Little known is the fact many Hezbollah fighters fought against American forces in Afghanistan. They are battle hardened. When America pulled out of Afghanistan they went home taking unimaginable amounts of American war equipment with them into Lebanon. This has greatly strengthened Hezbollah.

Here in our community, America, all of the racial complexities noted above exist. Americans in general have long been pro-Israel. Those anti-Semites opposing such a view need to understand and accept the fact. In America we need to love one another and pray especially for the innocent Palestinians. “Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me” Psalm 50: 15. Glorify Him.

Who Defeats Your Best Ideas?

It’s not what you know, it is what you do with what you know that matters. Information is good, but information alone is sterile. What matters is what you do with what you know.

Strange isn’t it, many seek more knowledge while not utilizing what is known. That is true in business, sports, family life, religion, and every area of life. As in algebra, to find the unknown start with the known.

Three hundred years before Christ, Erathosthenes conducted a significant experiment. He discovered that in the city of Syene at high noon a stick standing perfectly vertical cast no shadow.  Later, he also discovered that 500 miles away, at the exact same moment, a vertical stick cast a shadow of 7 degrees. This led to the following conclusion. 7 degrees is approximately 1/50 of the 360 degrees in a circle. If every 500 miles is 7 degrees, then the full circle of the earth would be 25,000 miles. Erathosthenes had calculated the earth’s circumference to within a few miles. From this he concluded the earth is round. 

Eighteen hundred years later Christopher Columbus sailed out of a safe harbor into an uncharted and foreboding sea. His intent was to sail to India. He, too, believed the earth was round. However, his calculations were off by 7,000 miles. It took weeks longer than anticipated to reach an unknown destination. He returned to this hemisphere four times and died in 1506 having no idea where he had been.

Today we pay tribute to Columbus, but few know the name Erathosthenes. Both had faith. One acted on his faith and the other didn’t. Erathosthenes did nothing with what he knew. Columbus had limited knowledge, but in faith he acted on that in which he had faith.

Is there some good adventure, project, or action you have the knowledge to achieve, but haven’t? Don’t let your song go unsung; your deed undone. Don’t succumb to been-gonna-itus.

Who defeats your best ideas? Who holds you back from what might be or you might become? Be honest. Our own worst inhibitor is ourselves.

As in algebra, to find the unknown start with the known. What part of God’s will do you know to do, and aren’t doing it?

In professional and spiritual matters this admonition is still valid: “Be doers of the word and not hearers only.”

Are you a spiritual Columbus or an Erathosthenes?

Four Cardinal Virtues – Part Three

Ancient Greek culture passed on to us what were considered four vital virtues: PRUDENCE, JUSTICE, COURAGE, and TEMPERANCE.

Consider now the last two of these.

Courage is essential for the implementation of the other three. What good are they if we don’t have the courage of our convictions? Courage, holy boldness, amalgamated with grace is the spine of the other three.

Courage is always an act of faith, because the courageous person acts on what he believes, not necessarily on what he sees.

When all the things we could be afraid of are noted, it is easy to see why “don’t be afraid,” in one form or another, is one of the most repeated commands in Scripture. Put positively, God calls us like He did Daniel to “be strong and of good courage” (Daniel 10:19).

The same charge given the church at Corinth is relevant to us today.

“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:58)

The same assurance our Lord gave His disciples immediately before His exodus is ours, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27) Buckle your seatbelt and get ready for the ride regardless of how hard. Apart from the Lord we have cause to be shaking in our boots. With Him there is reason for courage.

Temperance, the fourth Greek virtue, means self-control. In the New Testament self-control is spoken of as one of the fruit of the Spirit. Meaning with the aid of the Holy Spirit we can control ourselves. We all have appetites. You can run through an inventory of them starting with an appetite for good food. Controlling them is our responsibility. Self-control is a primary factor in success.

The Greek root for the word self-control means “to get a hold of” or “to get a grip on”. It literally means to get your hands on something until you are in control of it.

You can’t control the fact people will annoy you, but what you can control is your reaction. If a person angers you, they control you. Don’t give a person that chance.

Self-control is simply that important, and nearly impossible practice of learning to maintain control of the beast of your own passions. It means remaining master of your own domain not only when things are hunky-dory, but also when they are topsy-turvy.

Self-control implies that our self produces desires that need controlling. The Lord wants to help us with this. Therefore, “… the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love, and self-discipline.” (II Timothy 1:7)

Self-control is something God will help us with, but He won’t do it for us. The “self” must do it. It is our personal challenge.

Psalm 15 began with a question and ends with a promise: “He who does these things shall never be moved.”

The four cardinal virtues make an admirable quartet. Hear them again: PRUDENCE, JUSTICE, COURAGE, and TEMPERANCE.

Four Cardinal Virtues – Part Two

The ancient Greeks considered there to be four vital virtues. They are:


Prudence is practical wisdom that leads to good choices and results in successful living. Consider the A, B, Cs of these self-imposed tests of your decisions. Acceptability: Will this decision please the Lord?

Benefit: If this is exposed will it cause embarrassment?

Consequence: Am I prepared to live with the consequence?

In our feel good selfie society, persons often give primary consideration to feelings, emotions rein in making decisions. In making decisions it is imperative to reverse those roles. We must think first, then consider feelings.

Every path has a puddle. Everyone is a test of our character. How we respond to them is a revelation of who we are. “The integrity of the upright will guide them…” (Proverbs 11:3)

Temptation awaits our responsibility. Counsel that is applicable to all is specifically addressed to youth: “Flee… youthful lusts” (II Timothy 2:22).

The word “flee” means to run so fast as to kick up dust.

Flee and don’t leave a forwarding address.

Psalm 15 notes that in the eyes of a person of character “a vile person is despised”(Vs. 4). That is, there is no playful tolerance with evil. They do not develop friends of base, crude, evil, foul or gross persons.

Conversely a prudent person “honors those who fear the Lord” (Psalm 15: 4b).

Justice is the second of the four vital virtues. Justice centers on acts of fairness, honesty, and the rules of law.

Psalm 15: 2 gives three descriptive terms for such a person:

First: “He walks uprightly…” This is one translation of the Hebrew word for “integrity.” (vs. 2a). He leads an uncorrupted life.

Second: “And works righteousness…” (Vs. 2b). He does what is right.

Third: “He speaks truth from his heart…” (Vs. 2c).

This type of person tells the truth plain and simple. He doesn’t have a personal glossary of terms as defined by himself.  He doesn’t play word games. He avoids semantical sand traps.

An old Hebrew translation of this is: “One who doesn’t trip over his own tongue.”

An iconic person of justice who embodies those traits is to be admired. Reflect on them and objectively evaluate how well you consistently embody them.