With thousands of people at the winter Olympics site and 20 million more watching on television, the 2006 winter games have been a fast-paced event not only for the fans but for the Christian community as well.
Already, local religious leaders in Turin, Italy, have more than 90 chaplains on call to assist the athletes and Christians are taking their faith to a city famed for the Shroud of Turin, what many believe is Jesus Christ's burial cloth.
"Turin is the second largest city for the occult in the world," said Freddie Harris of Greater Europe Mission, according to Mission Network News. "The Bible says to go into all the world and preach the Gospel. There are almost 190 countries represented in the Olympics right now. And of course, spectators come from all over the world to see them. It's like the world is coming to us and we're preaching the Gospel to the world just being here in Turin." more >>
Potter-mania is descending once again! Love 'em or hate 'em, Harry Potter is swooping in on his broomstick, returning to a theatre near you in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire . The first three Harry Potter films grossed $2.6 BILLION around the world! J.K. Rowling's young hero is a worldwide youth culture phenomenon that followers of Jesus should be prepared to discuss thoughtfully, as they seek to make a positive impact on the world around them.
Is Harry inappropriate entertainment for Christians? Does Rowling's fantasy world of wizards, witches and magic desensitize young people to the real world of the occult? Or does Hogwarts have more in common with the world of fairy tales and science fiction? Certainly sincere people can disagree, but regardless of where you personally draw the line on these issues, no one can deny that Harry Potter permeates the culture and provides opportunities for values-oriented discussions. If you choose not to see Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, you can still have a reasoned discussion with friends, explaining why you are uncomfortable with Harry and intelligently discussing wiccan beliefs.
For those comfortable with Harry as entertainment, this particular movie's overarching themes provide substantive spiritual discussion starters. In Goblet of Fire, many of the characters are blind to the reality that there is a battle being waged between the forces of good and the forces of evil. Harry is aware of the battle and consciously chooses to fight on the side of good. Others however, follow Lord Voldemort and the forces of evil, either willingly or by being placed under the Imperius curse which forces them to follow him against their will. As followers of Jesus, we may be aware that the evil one blinds and deceives people, making them oblivious to the reality that Ephesians 6:12 describes, "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." A battle is being waged in our world as well, though many around us may be blind to that reality! more >>
"Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret." (Ephesians 5:11-12 NIV)
Halloween is here again. What a fun night! Pumpkins and black cats and haunted houses. Children run from door to door, their Halloween bags held out in anticipation of the goodies they'll receive. Adults plan for weeks what they will wear, some paying more for a costume than they would for a good set of clothing for work. It's just a fun evening, isn't it? Let's take a closer look.
The first observance of October 31 as a holiday began well before the Christian era. This day marked the end of the Celtic (Irish, Scottish and English) calendar year. It was the festival of the dead, celebrated by the Celtic pagan cult called the DRUIDS in England who had the idea that people needed to be cleansed after they had died. The soul of the departed was transferred by magic to the body of an animal. During the night of October 31, the enchanted souls were freed by the Druid god and taken together into the Druid heaven. During the festival, the dead rose and wandered; divination and soothsaying were practiced; fairies, witches, and goblins harassed the people of the countryside; and Druids demanded contributions of food to support their special diet -- "Trick or Treat"! Pumpkins carved to show a face are related to the turnips carved into death masks, which were carried by the Druids during the Festival. more >>
Over a hundred years ago, the great Dutch theologian Hermann Bavinck predicted that the 20th century would "witness a gigantic conflict of spirits." His prediction turned out to be an understatement, and this great conflict continues into the 21st century.
The issue of Halloween presses itself annually upon the Christian conscience. Acutely aware of dangers new and old, many Christian parents choose to withdraw their children from the holiday altogether. Others choose to follow a strategic battle plan for engagement with the holiday. Still others have gone further, seeking to convert Halloween into an evangelistic opportunity. Is Halloween really that significant?
Well, Halloween is a big deal in the marketplace, surpassed only by Christmas in terms of economic activity. According to David J. Skal, "Precise figures are difficult to determine, but the annual economic impact of Halloween is now somewhere between 4 billion and 6 billion dollars depending on the number and kinds of industries one includes in the calculations." more >>
The church is faced in the postmodern age by several distinct apologetic challenges. Internally, the church must defend the faith against ignorance, against compromise, against doctrinal apathy, and against denial. The church now suffers from a breathtaking deficit of doctrinal instruction and biblical truth. In some churches, the great truths of the Christian faith are unknown, and in others, these truths are left dormant and untaught. Beyond this, the very real dangers of doctrinal corrosion and heresy threaten.
Externally, the Gospel must be defended against secular atheism, postmodern relativism, naturalistic scientism, materialism, and current syncretisms. The Gospel must be proclaimed in the face of rival systems of belief and alternative worldviews, new and old.
This is where the task of Christian apologetics begins. In the Apostle Paul we find a model of Great Commission proclamation matched to an apologetic argument--an argument in defense of Christian truth. In Acts 17:16-34, we find Paul standing at Ground Zero of apologetic ministry in the first century. more >>
In a culture where it is acceptable to watch movies about demon-possessions, witch hunts, and journeys into hell as entertainment, many times the reality of the spiritual world fades.
Pastor Joseph Thompson, founder of Light the Nation and associate pastor of the 11,000-membered New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colo., addresses the issue of the reality of spiritual warfare and discusses how the individual and church can overcome the battle and empower their church and nations.
Pastor Thompson helped form Light the Nations in Lagos, Nigeria in 1986 after experiencing first-hand the occult while he was a young adult and prior to becoming a Christian. His personal experience has led him to travel around the world to speak about leadership development, organizational movements, and networking with a focus on helping Christians escape from destructive habits that can lead to satanic bondage. more >>