Pastor's Blog

Entries in separation (4)

Saturday
Feb122011

Should Christians Practice Yoga?

This post is adapted from an article that originally appeared in our ladies publication, The Way of Holiness , February 2011, by Jackie Thorpe (Edited by Pastor Hammond). 

 

In recent decades, the world has seen vast progress toward it's goal of unifying and globizing much of our modern institutions.  We now have a world bank and international courts.  And we have a pan-european parliament.  So it comes as little surprise to see a movement that seeks to unify the world's faiths into a single worldwide church.   And, indeed, throughout much of the 20th century, the so-called Ecumenical Movement made much progress in it's effort to unify Christianity across the globe.  This effort has encouraged nominal Christians of various backgrounds to globalize their faith by minimizing their doctrinal distinctives.  

 

In a clear allusion to the one-world religious system of the coming Tribulation Period, the Ecumenical Movement has broadened to include many of the world's false faiths.  Today, many in the Ecumenical movement seek to encourage acceptance of the practices of false religious systems by "Christianizing" those practices.  And, there's little doubt that this has included efforts to encourage Christians to accept Yoga - a religious practice that Hindus claim is virtually inseparable from their faith.


Haven't we seen this sort of thing before?   

  

For centuries, The Roman Empire, was held together through Caesar worship.  The Roman one world government required a one world religion.  However, in 315 AD, the Roman Emperor, Constantine,  prayed for victory in the name of Jesus during a particularly difficult battle of war. So grateful was he to the Christian god for his victory that day, that he made the Imperial decision that all the Roman Empire must become Christian.    

  

Though the Roman Empire had worshiped the ruling Caesars as gods, they also worshipped lesser gods, which have become known down through the generations as the mythical gods of Rome.  In order to  make Christianity palatable to the empire, Emperor Constantine Christianized all Roman temples, statues, symbols, holidays and rituals. The pagan temples were now called churches, statues of male gods were now dubbed Peter or Paul, the wheel of life symbol eventually represented the Eucharistic host. 

  

Today, the Ecumenical Movement  seeks to employ the same tactic to  bring all religions into one worldwide faith. Terms like  communion, salvation, social justice, are being given new meanings for all to accept.   Many new age practices have been Christianized, causing unsuspecting Christians to enter into realms and practices that God forbids. Eastern meditation is now called contemplative prayer.  New Age prayer circles are now being practiced as Christian prayer circles. 

 

The Ecumenical Movement claims that it‘s goal is limited to the unification of only those religions and denominations that name the name of Jesus.  But their interfaith outreach to spiritist,  Hindus and other pagan religions challenges that assertion.   Some grave examples are the Christianizations of Hindu, Zen Buddha and Shinto practices.   Hinduism has entered Christian circles mainly through Yoga. Yogi Masters such as Baba Prem claim that it is impossible to separate Yoga from Hindu philosophy. Baba correctly asserts that the roots to modern day yoga come from Vedic Yoga -- the same Vedic Yoga that is the authority of Hinduism.  Yet, some Christians have wrongly choses to insist that Yoga is only exercise.

 

Since all reliable sources state that Yoga is first and foremost a philosophy, Christians who dabble in Yoga are at risk of direct disobedience to the Word of God. The apostle Paul warns,  "Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ, (Col 2:8).

 

Since any philosophy involves a set of basic principles or concepts underlying a particular sphere of knowledge, anyone practicing Yoga is essentially halting between two philosophies which  cannot be reconciled.  Elijah asks, "How long will you halt between two opinions..?" (1 Kings 18:21).  God also asks Christians to separate from the world. Yoga is of the world.

 

2 Corinthians 6:14-18  14 ¶ Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers...  17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,  18 And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

 

Hinduism and Christianity cannot be yoked.  As such, a choice  must be made. Yoga inherently asks for the yoking of practitioners to be one with the universe. The  Lord asks that we be submitted to Him. Only one master can be served.

 

When the Romans were presented with statues of Venus or Diana Christianized into the Virgin Mary they still saw them as Venus and Diana.  Similarly, when the ecumenists present Yoga as Christian exercise and mediation, God still sees it as Hindu. Yoga plays with the mind. One of its goals is to encourage relaxation, through both physical form and eastern style mediation. In contrast, Biblical meditation fills the mind with scripture and worship. Eastern forms of meditations require emptying the mind.  An empty mind is a play ground for demonic spirits. New Age channelers of angels and "spirit guides" begin by calling up the spirits that serve them by emptying their minds to allow the spirits to take over.  Is it any wonder that we are told to daily put on the helmet of salvation to protect our minds? (Eph 6:17). 

 

The heart of every Christian knows, through the workings of the Holy Spirit, when it is out of God‘s will. Beware of defensive phrases such as:   "it‘s only ..." or "what can it hurt?" or "it‘s just for fun", or "I don‘t see the harm" or "It‘s only exercise."  

Christians are called to lead a life that brings pleasure to the LORD.  In Rev. 4:11, John wrote, “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.”

Giving up those things which weigh us down and displease the Lord require such little sacrificing in return for the great sacrifice He made for us. If one wants exercise and chooses Yoga, something deeper is being sought.  Neither Ecumenism, New Age philosophy, Hinduism, nor Yoga can offer the rest of eternal salvation.  If you're practicing Yoga, please consider it's relationship to the false faith of Hinduism - and ask for the LORD's strength to separate from this practice. 

 


Tuesday
Nov302010

What Does it Mean to Be a Fan of Lady Gaga?

November 30, 2010
Pastor Hammond

This week, I took one of my occasional virtual tours of the musical performers that young people follow on Facebook.  Among those performers who young people follow is Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta -- better known as Lady Gaga.  

I first heard of Lady Gaga two years ago when I overheard teenagers speaking Italian at a local mall.  I was marveling at the beauty of their language when I heard them say just two words that were recognizable to me:  "Lady Gaga."  Clearly, Germanotta's influence had already started to spread around the world.

According to Wikipedia, as of August 2010, Germanotta has sold more than 15 million albums and 51 million singles worldwide.  Time magazine and Forbes included Germanotta in their annual lists of the 100 most influential people in the world.  Forbes also placed her at number seven on their annual list of the World's 100 Most Powerful Women.  

It’s no surprise that our young people are being influenced by this performer.   Still, it should be a concern that some who profess to be followers of Christ are among the nearly 30 Million who identify themselves as fans of Lady Gaga.  

So, what does it mean to be a fan of Lady Gaga? 

1. First, professing to be a fan of Lady Gaga means that you are choosing to identify with the themes of her music.  Her musical offering is a mix of contemporary pop and dance music that emphasize themes now typical of those genres, including: immodesty, vanity, sexual promiscuity, rebellion and profanity.  

Beautiful, dirty, rich is a relatively mild Lady Gaga song that celebrates vanity and "dirty" living:

Beautiful, dirty dirty, rich rich, dirty dirty |
Beautiful, dirty, rich |
Dirty dirty, rich, dirty dirty, rich, beautiful |
Beautiful and dirty, dirty rich, rich dirty |
We got a red light |
Pornographic dance fight |
Systematic, honey |
But we got no money.

Dance in the Dark is a tribute song that celebrates a variety of pop figures – and encourages listeners to both “find freedom (apparently from externally-imposed standards) in the music” and to find “your Jesus.”

Find your freedom in the music |
Find your Jesus, find your Kubrick |
You will never fall apart, Diana |
You’re still in our hearts | 
Never let you fall apart |
Together we’ll dance in the dark:

Lady Gaga fans should be reminded that Jesus is neither a pop figure nor a God who varies in His character, attributes or deity. There is no “your Jesus.” There is only the Jesus of the Bible.  Lady Gaga fans would also do well to consider the truth that true freedom is found only in the true Christ.  In 2 Corinthians 3:17, Paul writes, "Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty."  And in Galatians 5:13, he implores us to, "use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.

Born this Way is a new Lady Gaga song that both uses the “F-word” and encourages listeners to accept and celebrate the inclinations of their sin nature:

I'm beautiful in my way |
Cause God makes no mistakes |
I'm on the right track, |
baby I was born this way.

While it’s true that “God makes no mistakes,” Jesus died on the cross because we have made the mistake of sinning against our perfectly righteous, holy Creator. We are not called to accept ourselves as we were born. Rather, in John 3:7, we are called by Christ to "be born again."  We're called to be made new creatures in Christ! In 2 Corinthians 5:17, Paul writes, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”

2.  Professing to be a fan of Lady Gaga also means that you are choosing to identify with a pop figure who both endorses the homosexual agenda and who has identified herself as a bi-sexual. In fact, she has attributed much of her success to the support of the so-called GLBT (Gay, Lebian, Bi-sexual & Transsexual) community.

The Wikipedia entry for Lady Gaga describes her strong endorsement of homosexuality:

Gaga attributes much of her early success as a mainstream artist to her gay fans and is considered to be a rising gay icon. Early in her career she had difficulty getting radio airplay, and stated, "The turning point for me was the gay community. I've got so many gay fans and they're so loyal to me and they really lifted me up. They'll always stand by me and I'll always stand by them. It's not an easy thing to create a fanbase. She thanked FlyLife, a Manhattan-based LGBT marketing company with whom her label Interscope works, in the liner notes of The Fame, saying, "I love you so much. You were the first heartbeat in this project, and your support and brilliance means the world to me. I will always fight for the gay community hand in hand with this incredible team.”

Lady Gaga fan should be reminded that the LORD calls homosexuality sin. In Leviticus 18:22, God calls homosexuality an “abomination.” There, the Bible says, “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.” In 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Paul writes, “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.”

We must encourage our young people to take a Biblical stand against the GLBT agenda – while, at the same time, encouraging them to lovingly reach this community with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

3.  Professing to be a fan of Lady Gaga is to identify with her propensity to use nudity in her performances. Germanotta often performs with almost no clothing at all. In doing so, she’s encouraging both immodesty and lust for sinful physical relationships.  Bible-believing Christians should be reminded that the Bible defines even a bare thigh as nudity.  In Exodus 28:42,  Moses was commanded to cover the thighs of Aaron and his sons, the first priests of the Tabernacle.  "Make them linen breeches to cover their nakedness," commanded the LORD.  "From the loins even unto the thighs they shall reach."  Young people would do well to re-capture the LORD's definition of immodesty - and to turn away from those who shamelessly promote dress standards that fall unthinkably short of God's basic standard.

So, should professed Christians also profess to be fans of Lady Gaga?   No.  To do so is to align oneself with a performer who is promoting a decidedly anti-Christ agenda that includes: homosexuality, profanity, vanity, rebellion, sexual promiscuity, and abhorrent immodesty.   Further, professing to be a fan of Lady Gaga is to align oneself with a performer who shamefully invokes the names of Jesus and "God" to support her exaltation of sin.

Parents,  please be reminded that the LORD commands us to warn our children of the His judgment of sin. In Joel 1:3, the prophet calls us to "Tell ye your children of it, and let your children tell their children, and their children another generation."   I encourage you to remind our children that the Lord Jesus Christ “gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works (Titus 2:14). And I encourage you to remind them that believers are a “chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light (1 Peter 2:9).     

Pray for Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta.   And pray that our young people will find strength in Christ to turn away from Germanotta's influence.

Wednesday
Nov102010

It is Biblical for Christians to Undergo Hypnosis?

Pastor Hammond 

On November 10, 2010, the Connecticut Post published an article by Steve Slon, titled “Hypnosis:  Myths and truths.”  In this article, Slon argues that popular misconceptions of hypnosis in the media have clouded the potential value of hypnosis in the treatment of various medical problems including:  obesity, nicotine addiction, uncontrolled pain and ADHD. 

Slon explains that hypnosis involves placing a person into a “hypnotic trance” where “the mind drifts freely.”  He referenced the teaching of Milton Erickson, the so-called father of modern hypnosis. According to Slon, Erickson held that “our subconscious minds are most open to learning when in a trace state.” Erickson held that trance states are “the best condition for making positive changes in behavior.”

The American Society of Clinical Hypnosis defines hypnosis as “a state of inner absorption, concentration and focused attention ..."  They argue that "because hypnosis allows people to use more of their potential, learning self-hypnosis is the ultimate act of self-control," (asch.net, accessed November 10, 2010). 

Why Shouldn't Christians Undergo Hypnosis?

1.  Believers are called to be mentally alert and on guard against potentially improper influences.  Brother David Cloud notes that “the Bible exhorts the believer to be sober (1 Peter 5:8). To be sober means to be in control of one’s mind, to be spiritually and mentally alert. It means to be on guard against danger. It is the opposite of allowing oneself to be put into a trance. The Bible warns that demons transform themselves into angels of light (2 Cor. 11:13-15). Unless the believer remains sober and vigilant, he is in danger of being deceived. Thus, even a “mild” level of hypnotism can be spiritually dangerous,”  (WayofLife.org, accessed November 10, 2010).   Christians must understand that Biblical forms of meditation and prayer never involve relinquishing control of one’s mind to anyone or anything other than the LORD!     

2.  Believers are called to be yielded to the Holy Spirit rather than to self.  In Ephesians 5:18, Paul wrote, "...be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit." Paul was urging the believers at Ephesus to be controlled by the Holy Spirit.  In this verse, we see clearly that to be yielded to the Spirit is to be filled with the Spirit.  

3.  Believers are called to recognize that the Lord is the one who produces positive change in our lives.    Hypnotist Frayda Kafka argues that, in hypnosis, “the change always comes from the individual.”    However, in 2 Corinthians 5:17, Paul teaches that “if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”  It is Christ who produces positive change in our lives, not our own efforts.  When we place our faith in Christ, we become “…partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world…” (2 Peter 1:4) and we are “conformed to the image of his Son,” (Romans 8:29).  The Bible is clear that none of this is accomplished through our own strength - or through trance states!

 4.  Hypnotic trances can produce occult phenomena.  In his 2008 article on this topic, David Cloud noted that “the danger of hypnotism is evident from the fact that it can produce a wide variety of occult phenomena, including past life experiences, multiple personalities, speaking in unknown languages, automatic writing, clairvoyance, telepathy, seizures, spirit possession, astral projection, and psychic diagnosis,” (Encyclopedia of New Age Beliefs).   Christians are called to refrain from any association with the occult.

5. The end doesn’t justify the means.  The observation that hypnosis sometimes appears to be effective does not justify willful disobedience to the LORD.   “Many support hypnotic therapy because ‘it works,’ but just because something works does not mean it is right,” observes brother David Cloud.  “There are innate powers within man that can be manipulated and there are satanic powers. The magicians in Egypt were able to perform amazing feats and could even duplicate some of the divine miracles,” (Exodus 7:10-12, 19-22; 8:5-7). 

Summary

Christians should refrain from involvement in the hypnosis and other forms of contemplative mysticism.  Instead, we should (1) recognize that we have been made new creatures in Christ; (2) yield to the Holy Spirit to produce positive change in our lives; and (3) pray for the Lord’s strength to overcome unhealthy habits.

For more information:

  • David Cloud articles regarding Contemplative Mysticism.  view

Wednesday
Oct132010

Should Christians Participate in Halloween?

October 13, 2010
Pastor Hammond 

This season brings with it the annual debate about involvement in Halloween. Some hold that Halloween is a simply a harmless time of fun for young people. Others see great spiritual concerns for Christians.   As you may know, for years, our family has avoided participating in Halloween.  My decision was rooted neither in fear of the occult nor in legalism.  Rather, my decision was made in response to my understanding of what pleases God -- and what displeases Him.  

My decision was also rooted in my understanding that Christians are involved in a real spiritual battle "against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places" (Ephesians 6:12).  It is a fact that Halloween celebrates those things that we war against.

In Deuteronomy 18:9-12, the LORD told His people to avoid involvement in the occult practices of their Pagan neighbors.  "When thou art come into the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations.  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,  11 Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer.  12 For all that do these things are an abomination unto the LORD..."

In the New Testament, too, we find numerous imperatives to be separate from evil and the occult.   In Romans 12:9, Paul writes,  "Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good."  In 2 Corinthians 6:14, he wrote,  "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? ... 17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate."   And in Ephesians 5:11, we're reminded to "...have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them."  Recall, too, that in Romans 14:13, Paul urges "that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother's way." 

My desire is to make decisions that please the LORD.   I understand that any association with the occult displeases the LORD.  Despite the fact that retailers have trivialized the association of Halloween with the occult, it remains a fact that Halloween celebrates the occult.   These are the truths that led me to end my involvement in celebrating Halloween.   I urge you to prayerfully consider the same decision.