Posts Tagged ‘Satan

16
Sep
08

Two-fer Tuesday: Sorcery by Deacon Blue

I don’t believe in the ability of a rabbit’s severed limb to increase my good fortune. Nor a horseshoe. I will quite happily walk under a ladder, as long as it isn’t a rickety one with someone on it. I don’t believe in monsters in my closet or vampires and werewolves camping out near my window at night just waiting for me to leave it open just a little too wide.

This is the 21st century after all. And I didn’t hold truck with such things in the 20th century either.

But still…

I’m not exactly willing to be so arrogantly cocky as to say that things like magic, possession, hauntings and the like are pure superstitious nonsense. I’m sure some people will say, “Of course, not Deacon, you already believe in a 2,000-year-old superstition called Christianity, which was based on a previous superstition called Judaism that started six or seven thousand years ago.”

But I digress.

It’s easy to say that something like sorcery just doesn’t exist. But science hasn’t locked down all the mysteries of the universe. Because I do operate from a position that there is an unseen God at work and a nasty piece of work named Satan working against him, I already believe that there are entities engaged in activities either outside the realm of physics or at such a high level of physics that it’s something we can only comprehend as “magic.”

I don’t think that sorcery per se is usually real. I think it’s something that is pretty rare and not something dramatic like in the movies or in “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” on TV. But I’m not willing to dismiss it, and I think there are people who are able to draw resources from wells that they shouldn’t be.

I try to remember the biblical precepts that tell us not to dabble in sorcery. I take that advice in the same vein I took a lot of my mom’s rules. There were some things I was willing to break rule-wise and other things I didn’t see the profit in. For example, I might grab myself a cookie when I shouldn’t or go play someplace dangerous but cool that I was barred from. But I didn’t play with matches and I didn’t take up bad habits like smoking. Because, frankly, the rules I followed to the letter all the time every time were things that didn’t strike me as fun to begin with. I didn’t see the appeal, for example, in possibly burning myself or burning down my home just to see a flame up close. The cookies had value to me, though.

I don’t see any attraction in palm readings, Ouija boards, seances or casting spells. That makes it easy for me to obey that biblical rule because I don’t see the profit in it. It doesn’t appeal to me to begin with, and I’m supposed to avoid it. Done deal. But there are other people who would see the allure or fun in such things and they risk being drawn into areas they shouldn’t, not unlike a husband who starts flirting with a co-worker and after weeks or months suddenly realizes he’s having an affair that he doesn’t much want to stop having.

Many of you will say, “OK, fair enough. You avoid it just in case. Still silly to believe in it to begin with.” Maybe. Maybe not.

I had a good friend in grad school who once told us of an experience he had in an apartment he lived in where items would go missing, and then turn up someplace else entirely. He started keeping track of items religiously to make sure it wasn’t something he was doing. Still kept happening, typically with the same items. Finally, one day, he said to the open air, “OK, I get it. You’re here. You want to be acknowledged. Whoever you are. I’ll give you some recognition and acknowledgement, and you stop taking my stuff.” He never had a problem again.

And before you tell me he was just telling us a story that he made up, this is a guy I trusted; someone who never showed anything but honesty. He was personable, popular and respected. He had a truckload of funny and entertaining anecdotes about his family and growing up in a little New Hampshire town. Am I supposed to believe that he felt the need to make up a ghost story on top of all that because that would give him some extra edge?  It’s possible, but oh so unlikely.

In my own experience, I have almost never had any signs, visions, visitations, psychic events or anything else. Whatever I have experienced has been so vanishingly infrequent or so minor it doesn’t bear mentioning. Except one thing. A few years back, my wife needed some essential oils for some aromatherapy stuff she was doing, and we went to “New Age” kind of shop in the city. I’ve been to a lot of alternative spirituality, New Age, Wiccan and other similar types of stores in my life. I actually like the places. They’re usually interesting, they have some cool stuff and there are some good books I can pick up to learn more about other belief systems.

But not this place.

My wife admitted later she felt a little weird too, but I felt more than weird in that place. I had an overwhelming sense of evil. That something had happened or regularly happened there that didn’t bear mentioning. Something spiritually wrong with the whole place. From the point at which I entered the door, all my internal alarm systems were going off. No, I didn’t fear that a demon would pop out from behind a bookcase or that I would be possessed or that the walls would begin to bleed and a hole open up beneath my feet to drop me into hell.

But all the same, what I felt was awful. A sense that I wasn’t welcome and didn’t belong. A sense that something wished it could hurt me. I don’t know what, if anything, that the shop owner dabbled in, but I never set foot in that store again and although he’s moved locations a couple times, I will not set foot in any of his other shops either.

(Come to think of it, my wife and I get a pretty funky feeling if we stay too long in the Wal-Mart. I wonder if the Walton family is using dark sorcery to keep its empire together. Hey, just throwing out theories. These are Sam Walton’s uber-greedy heartless kin, after all.)

In the end, I have to believe that forces exist that I don’t understand. The universe is a huge place and the workings of it are beyond the ability of the greatest minds on this planet to unravel. No matter how much science advances, or even spirituality for that matter, we will not know all the answers down here. I think that it is dangerous for any of us to assume an air of intellectual superiority that sorcery and the like are pure hogwash. Take a healthy grain of salt and be dubious, certainly. But don’t dismiss. It’s the purview of adolescents  and GOP presidential/vice presidential candidates for the past several election cycles to be arrogant, shallow know-it-alls.

If you feel comfortable staying just in the realm of the provable and rational, I’m not going to argue with you. But just be careful about assuming that just because you don’t believe in it, that means it doesn’t exist.

30
Jun
08

Choosing Satan

I seem to be stuck on Satan and Hell a lot lately and I’m not trying to be; much like my streak of posts about speaking in tongues not so long ago, I guess the Holy Spirit is pushing me in a certain direction. Anyway, many of my posts about Hell (and more recently my father-in-law’s stuff about Satan, which I posted) have discussed the fact that many people will choose Satan and choose Hell rather than select God’s way. I’m sure many readers have thought me crazy to think that anyone would choose Hell.

But consider this image:

 

In a post at The Jesus Gang that features this graph, the author says simply:

Whose team would you want to be on? I’m just sayin’.

I know the graph is likely meant in humor. And I’m twisted enough to see the joke, despite being a child of God and a follower of Jesus Christ. But it points to a larger issue here. People don’t get it. Satan is a liar and a deceiver. Truth be told, Satan’s devices have led to far more death and suffering in the world. Has God been responsible for some killing? Sure. And there have been reasons for it. But most deaths are not at God’s hands; only a miniscule percentage in the history of humanity have been. Yet, too many people think that disasters are sent from God, that God is to blame when people kill each other over religion, that human illness in this world is a creation of God’s.

Nothing could be farther from the truth but still, people cling to that notion. Some even preach from the pulpit (or just on their media-based religious soapboxes) about how God sent the floods to punish wickedness in New Orleans or sent HIV/AIDS to punish gays or whatever else. Bullshit bullshit bullshit.

The world and the mess it’s in is a joint creation by Satan and humans. God didn’t create a world of suffering; we have repeatedly rejected His way though to follow our own. And when we follow our own way, we are all too often taking Satan’s path.

You think Satan won’t be telling folks in Hell: “God sent you here. He doesn’t want you. Look, I never smote the first-born of every Egyptian. I never declared war on any people who were in the way of the Hebrews. Stick with me and you’ll be better off.” I can almost gol-damn-guarantee he will. And if not that track or those words, some other form of misdirection. Satan isn’t going to reveal how he’s moved people and races and nations through his tricks. He’s not going to call attention to his evil. Shit, in this world he tries hard to give the impression to most folks that he doesn’t exist at all or that he’s just a comical guy with red skin and a Snidely Whiplash mustache and a pointy tail.

But God gives us honesty and truth, and we can’t handle it. We’d rather be stroked by Satan than to be held by God. We’d rather have transient pleasures than long-range salvation.

People choose Satan all the time. And many will choose him even when they have a clear chance to choose something better.

And that’s a fact.

For the record, here are most of my recent (and not-so-recent) other posts on Hell and Satan:

25
Jun
08

That Ole Devil

Being sick meant a backlog of work that I spent all day slogging through, and now I have an hour before midnight to make sure I get a post in. So I’m going to cheat a little. My father-in-law is having me transcribe some tapes he recorded as part of the process of him writing a book about one of the more famous—or, more accurately, infamous—characters in the Bible: Satan.

I thought it might be interesting for me to share a little of the first chapter of his four-chapter work, which talks about the origin and nature of Satan. To avoid too long a post, what I will do is post a little now and then over the course of several days (yes, I’ll make original posts too during this time) add more as comments to this post. So, if you want too see more, just tune in the next day to see when I’ve added a comment to it. Here we go:

The church today—the church universal or the earthly church—has failed to set forth Satan as a real and formidable adversary. The church has done well in lifting up Jesus Christ, but it has failed to make known the evil one called Satan. If we will consider the model prayer that our lord and savior Jesus Christ gave the apostles, gave the disciples—and instructed them to give us—what we call today the Lord’s Prayer, we are usually very attentive in reading and praying this prayer. Again, these are words from the mouth of the Lord Jesus himself. Are we ignorant of that phrase in the Lord’s Prayer? Where Jesus clearly tells us to ask God our Father to deliver us from the evil one—that, of course, being Satan.

When we take an impartial and even a historical view of Jesus—and when I say historical writers I refer to Josephus, Origen and several other fathers of the church—we see that a vast majority of Jesus’ earthly ministry was rebuking the devil and his agents—what we would call today exorcisms.

Our Lord and savior Jesus Christ was well aware of the creature called Satan.

The purpose of this chapter is to set forth undeniable proof from the Word of God, as well as living experiences, testifying to the existence of our adversary Satan.

If we fail to comprehend, if we fail to acknowledge the realness of Satan, we will never understand the nature of the Christian ministry. We will never fully understand the ferocity of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Now, without being technical, what am I saying? We need to understand why the child of God suffers so very much in this Christian life. Satan, according to the writings of Paul in the book of Corinthians, both 1 and 2, clearly tells us that Satan has placed his agents in the pulpit of many churches today. We read in the second book of Corinthians, chapter two, where Paul tells us that we shouldn’t be surprised that Satan has placed his ministers in the pulpit, for he says, “has not Satan himself transformed himself on occasion into ministers of light?” We read in the book of Revelation where it tells us that Satan has deceived this whole world.

My brothers and sisters in Christ, Satan has deceived the earthly church.

We are in a battle. And to understand that battle, we must understand the enemy. Even nature—and Paul told us to look to nature, the visible world of nature, to see the invisible God—even nature and perhaps this most common phenomenon of night and day, darkness and light, testifies of the struggle of good and evil in this present-day world.

On this present Earth, why must we know Satan? Because if we don’t know him, we will not resist him. If we do no understand Satan, we will not understand the nature of our misfortune as children of God. Hence, we will not resist.

(You want to know something really weird? As of reaching the word “resist” above, my intro and this excerpt together totaled 666 words…LOL)

10
Apr
08

It’s a trap!

OK, time to put yesterday’s post, The Party That Never Ends?, into some perspective. In writing that possible scenario of what Hell might be like, I was inspired by the classic “Be Careful What You Wish For” philosophy. Or, perhaps, the “If It Sounds Too Good to Be True, It Probably Is” adage. Also, inspired by any number of TV episodes, short stories and the like where the protagonist desperately wants something to be one way but finds the reality isn’t so great after all. Let’s take a few plots from the original “Twilight Zone” TV series as examples:

  • Aliens visit Earth and offer to begin taking people to their planet. Everyone is happy about this, all the more so because the aliens are carrying around a book titled “To Serve Man.” Great, they want to help us! The first batch of humans goes on their merry way and one of them, after a friendly alien urges him to eat more during the voyage, realizes that the book “To Serve Man” isn’t a philosophical treatise or mission statement. Instead, it’s a cookbook on how best to prepare humans to eat them.
  • A very farsighted, introverted guy wishes people would just disappear so that he could be alone to enjoy his books. He finds one day that everyone is indeed gone and goes to the library, whereupon he stumbles on a step, his eyeglasses shatter, and he realizes he won’t be able to read a single word of any books now.
  • A man makes a deal with Satan for eternal life and indestructibility, thinking, “Hey, if I can’t die, he can’t claim my soul…ever.” Satan makes his life so miserable, making the indestructibility such a strain and a curse on the man, that he simply gives up and asks Satan to kill him, thus forfeiting his soul.

See a trend?

What looks really good on the surface may not be so good over the long run, or even the short run sometimes. Now, yesterday’s post may seem to put Hell is a potentially positive light. Big Man of Raving Black Lunatic suggested as much in the comments, saying that it makes Satan look like a nice guy. Big Man is right to a large degree (and thanks for pointing out the fact I didn’t make the bad implications clear enough), because I was making a subtle point and trying not to write an even longer post than I already had, and my overriding point may have gotten missed. So, let me clarify, because you definitely don’t want to go to Hell.

Let’s assume my musings yesterday are on the money and Satan has made Hell into party central for many (maybe even most) folks. If so, he ain’t doing it for your benefit. His sole mission is to oppose God, and taking souls away from God is only the first step. Satan hates humans because God set them up to be His children and to be set above the angels, including the demon formerly known as the covering cherub Lucifer. Because God loves us and wants us to choose Him, it hurts Him when we don’t. I imagine it hurts Him a lot more to know what Satan has in store for us when we choose to reject Heaven. If there’s a party in Hell right now, it’s going to end at some point, and rudely.

Satan is a liar of the worst kind. And if what he’s offering looks good, it’s only to mask something much worse down the the line.

And even if there’s a party and Satan doesn’t stop it and suddenly reveal all the demonic torturers he’s had hiding in the shadows, believe you me that he will find a way to make sure you get so sick of that endless party that you will wish you never had to party again. I mean, you might like to sit at your XBox 360 till all hours of the night, and if someone told you you could do nothing but play it and they’d make sure all your other shit got taken care of and send food into you, that might sound great. Up until the point you’ve played all your games several times, get up to head out, and realize the door is locked and it’s going to stay that way forever.

Satan wants you in Hell, and he wants to keep you there. As I theorized in an earlier post, End of the Line?, Hell might not be the end of every damned person’s story. I won’t go into the details of why I think that there’s still a chance even then…so just read the old post…but there is a point of no return eventually, and it’s called the Lake of Fire. So think about it. If Satan wants to keep you from getting to Heaven, and if there is still a chance even in Hell to redeem yourself by the time Judgment Day rolls around, what’s the best way to keep you from choosing Jesus even in Hell?

Give you what you think you want. Wouldn’t that be the nastiest trick ever?

As Big Man points out, the Bible does refer to Hell as place of torment and punishment at times, and the guy in Hell wishing for a drink of water from the guy over in Heaven is one example. But I still think a lot of talk about Hell in the Bible is symbolic because it is so vague on particulars. I believe it is meant to convey that Hell is a bad place to go, but doesn’t necessarily tell you all the reasons why. But maybe it was fire and brimstone and pitchforks back in Jesus’ time…after all let’s remember that prior to Jesus’ crucifixion, there were a lot of people in Hell because there hadn’t been a savior and most people didn’t meet God’s criteria for salvation. All that time Jesus was dead and before he rose back up, he wasn’t resting, folks. Most likely, he was in Hell spreading the Word of God and letting the damned know that it was time to choose a side on their own: Him and salvation, or Satan. Jesus didn’t die and go to Heaven. He didn’t finally get to Heaven until he rose from the dead and tied up some loose ends on Earth.

As my End of the Line? post suggests, I suspect many would still have rejected God’s way out of spite, even with Jesus there teaching them there was a better way and a better place to go if they would accept him as lord and savior.

It’s entirely possible Satan has changed up Hell a bit since then. In the Old Testament times and during Jesus’ lifetime, Satan wouldn’t have any reason to make Hell look good. As far as he could tell, he had it made. He wasn’t expecting Jesus. He didn’t realize what God had up His sleeve.

Now that Satan does know, it seems entirely possible (though certainly not definite) that he might make Hell seem a lot more attractive now. At least for as long as it takes to get the souls in his grasp so twisted up that they never look toward God at all, or to keep them distracted until everything foul gets tossed into the Lake of Fire and thus the ultimate damnation…the truly eternal separation from God.

That party doesn’t look so fun now, does it?

20
Mar
08

To arms

armor-of-god01.jpgWe’re at war. And I’m not talking about Iraq, folks.

Satan is alive and well and still pissing in God’s general direction, and he isn’t interested in taking prisoners.

If you don’t have Christ as your lord and savior, Satan wants you to stay that way and die that way and never find salvation. If you do have Christ, he wants to render you impotent to bring another single soul to God. Spiritual though it may be, it is war all the same.

I believe in seeking God’s blessings and graces. I believe in the fact that God comforts us and strengthens us. I believe many good things can come to us. But I worry when churches and individuals lead people to Jesus simply by talking about all the good stuff. They promise a bed of roses and tell people to roll around in it, but they forget to mention all the thorns.

My Shit List post ranted a bit about the Word of Faith movement and that should tell you how much I value ministries that focus only on prosperity or health.  The cool-sounding stuff. No ministry, either within the church walls or without, should ever get tunnel vision. And that means the other side of the debate needs to watch out, too. Preaching only salvation, for example, is nearly as bad as going the Word of Faith route because it means you may prepare people poorly to deal with the challenges of being born again. You may lose them before they accept Christ or you may get them to salvation only to have them go limping into Heaven.

Giving your soul to God pisses Satan off to no end. And he’s not going to let your ass get away with that and not hurt you for it. And he’ll hurt you not only out of revenge but to wear you down so that you either seem so pathetic that no one will want to give your path of Jesus a try or so that you are too damned tired to do anything for God.

As a Christian, if you know you are at war, though, you can prepare yourself. If you know you have an enemy who’s out to get you, you can keep an eye out for him. And if you’re going to be going into battle, you need to do so with intelligence. That means in prayer. Lean on God to give you strength and give you victory. You’ll have challenges, but you cannot be utterly torn down unless you leave God out of the equation.

Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints. Ephesians 6:10-18

So, what’s the message if you haven’t accepted Jesus as lord and savior?

Wake the hell up.

Look at this world and see what a mess we’ve made of it. Look inside yourselves and realize there is something more in there than viscera and bones. You have more even than a complex mind. You have a soul. You aren’t a random collection of atoms and molecules. You aren’t an accident.

There is a war on for your soul, and the sooner you realize it, the sooner you can decide to choose a side or simply give up and hope for the best. But wandering through the battleground and being ignorant of what is going on is even worse than accepting God’s way and thinking it will all be sunshine and good times.

War isn’t just hell, folks. Hell is at war with us.

(Image from Hellgate: London video game from Flagship Studios)

18
Mar
08

Hands

hands01.jpgWell, I couldn’t come up with a list of things I like that I thought was (a) connected enough to my faith and (b) would be interesting enough to y’all to warrant a post. So, instead of a “Hit List” today (I’ll keep plugging away at it sometime), I’m going to give you a little original poetry. Hope you like.

Hands 

The Wounded Hands uplift and heal
their grip is sure and strong.
They do no harm, they never steal
they’ll guide your soul along.

The Foul Hands, like puppeteers,
manipulate and bind
will help you sin and help you err
and wrongful deeds help find.

The Wounded Hands are scraped and raw
they do what work needs done.
The Foul Hands, unmarred they are
they maim and think it fun.

Grasp the Wounded Hands and feel
a love that’s freely given.
Take the Foul Hands and reel
by hatefulness they’re driven.

When times are ill, call to the Lord
the Wounded Hands will save.
But if to Foul Hands you turn
you’ll find yourself a slave.

Be not dismayed by bleeding hands
their blood was shed for us.
Pierced on behalf of sinful man
and yet, we do not trust.

Beware seducing hands that stroke,
but leave you when you cry.
Those hands will scratch and strike and choke
… once they’ve drained you dry.

The Wounded Hands, the Savior’s hands,
are open to us all.
The Foul Hands are Satan’s hands
they beckon; shun their call.




Deacon Blue is the blogging persona of editor and writer Jeffrey Bouley. The opinions of Jeff himself on this blog, and those expressed as Deacon Blue, in NO WAY should be construed as the opinions of anyone with whom he has worked, currently works, or will work with in the future. They are personal opinions and views, and are sometimes, frankly, expressed in more outrageous terms than I truly feel most days.

Jeff Bouley

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To find out more about me professionally, click here. To find out more about me generally, click here.

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You can reach Deacon Blue/Jeff Bouley at deaconbluemail@gmail.com.

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