|About four of us, two from MCOI and two from Haven Ministries attended Paganicon 2023 [in March]. After we returned, I emailed Twin Cities Pagan Pride and asked if they have an attendance count and was told 1,000 had registered. Carl Teichrib at Forcing Change attended Paganicon in the past and contributed two articles on the event, Journeys in Paganistan -Part 1 and Journeys in Paganistan – Part 2. In Carl’s first article, he described: “a reality beyond books and TV screens – a spiritual worldview that honors creation over the Creator. Is a new Pagan age dawning? It appears so.”|
What happens at Paganicon? Attendees gather to connect as a community with a shared spirituality. They participate in a variety of workshops to learn about paganism’s “ancient history,” how to better engage in ritual and worship – and how to connect with the deity or deities of their choosing. Many of them are looking to find a personalized faith – unlike their experience in Christian churches, which ideally still believe in and present “the faith once delivered to the saints.”…But some pagans just read a new and happier (in their thinking) understanding into the ancient book without throwing the whole thing out. There is a melding going on, as Carl points out: “This workshop reinforced something I would hear more than once; that many who formerly identified as Christians now follow Pagan paths….”
This is not only occurring within the pagan community but, as we already mentioned, Christians are embracing some pagan practices within the church as well. One of the workshops I attended was “Shamanic Journeying” and was led by Shaman Sherry L.M. Merriam, MA, LPCC, TCHI. She described the reason for these spiritual journeys:” Shamanistic journeying is to receive new personal revelation from spirit beings instead of information from an old religious book.”
As Shaman Sherry was preparing the group to enter into the spiritual realm for a short Shamanistic journey, she said that those who have practiced Contemplative Meditation will be familiar with these techniques….I raised my hand and asked Merriam what would happen if someone inadvertently encountered an evil spirit while on this “journey?” She assured the attendees this would never happen because each of us will have a “spirit guide.” I then asked how we would know our spirit guide is good, and she responded: “The spirit guide is always good and is your protector from evil spirits.”Even Rocky the flying squirrel knew to ask Bullwinkle if the spirits he was calling up were “friendly,” but perhaps that simple precaution is lost on people today.
I also want to give a word of precaution. In the silent contemplation of God we are entering deeply into the spiritual realm, and there is such a thing as supernatural guidance that is not divine guidance. While the Bible does not give us a lot of information on the nature of the spiritual world, we do know enough to recognize that there are various orders of spiritual beings, and some of them are definitely not in cooperation with God and his way!
I say these things not to make you fearful but to make you knowledgeable. You need to know that “like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour,” (1 Peter 5:8). You also need to know that “the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world,” (1 John 4:4).
We spent over an hour with Jean (Drum) Pagano, who is a member of the Reformed Druids of North America. He describes himself as a polytheistic pantheist, one who believes in many gods and believes that God is in the cosmos and all things. After our conversation, he presented his workshop, “An Introduction to Devotional Polytheism.” He described the various rituals he performs in his attempts to build relationships with deities. During our initial discussion, he explained that often when he teaches about Paganism, he takes along a box that is labeled “The History of Paganism.” At the beginning of his presentations, he lets the audience know that he is going to show them all the information we have about ancient paganism and ritual. He opens the box to reveal it is empty. There is, in fact, very little actual information about ancient Paganism passed down from ancient practitioners. Pagano and the other pagan groups are, in truth, creating their own traditions, deities, and practices today.
In another workshop, “Lessons from the Indigenous Pagan Survivals,” offered by Andras Corban-Arthen, Andras mentioned that he has traveled to 67 countries in search of information on ancient Pagan practices. His findings could not add anything to Jean Pagano’s empty box.
Not only is it the ancient history of paganism and its rituals that is an empty box, but the newly minted paganism itself is devoid of anything that can enrich one’s life or save a lost and seeking soul. As we met and spoke with a variety of Pagans, Wiccans, Witches, Druids, and Satanists, I noted that none of them understood Christianity in the least. They don’t see themselves as sinners needing salvation and assert that all religions are essentially the same at the core (perennialism).
We leave those with whom we shared the gospel with God. We clearly presented the gospel to many people and are praying for them. However, we are merely ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20). God may use us to plant the seed and others to water while He causes the increase (1 Corinthians 3:6-7).
From Demon Worshippers to Children of God
Following are testimonies from the Wa people of northern Myanmar concerning being animists and their conversion to evangelical Christianity. Reading on the internet about animists, some writers would lead you to believe that being an animist is a positive thing. The Christian Wa people would beg to differ as the following testimonies reveal:
“My name is Khuat, and I am a 53-year-old pastor.
My parents were animists who offered sacrifices
to the spirits every month, and our family was
plunged into poverty and bondage to cruel demons.
In 2001 I heard of God’s love and forgiveness, and I
committed my life to Jesus. We smashed all our
idols and the Lord blessed us in every way. I was
eager to read the Bible, but for years I could not
find even one for sale. Now you have brought many
Bibles to us, and we are overwhelmed with joy.
Thank you! You have done the greatest thing possible.
“My name is Nyi. Everyone in my family lived in fear
of the spirits for generations. We did all we could to
appease them, but in return we got death and suffering. My mother died when I was a baby, and my
father died when I was 8. Then when I was 13 my
brother died and there was no one to take care of
me. I started using drugs, and at my lowest point a
Christian told me about Jesus, and He changed my
life! I even graduated from Bible school, and now I
serve my Wa people, getting as many saved as I can.
The Word of God you gave us is so precious!“
“My name is Moe, and I am 19 years old. My family were animists, so we served the spirits and
had never heard about Jesus. My friend told me
the Good News, and I went to church with her.
The pastor gave me a Bible and I brought it home,
but my father was the village shaman so he didn’t
let me read the Bible. One day my mother fell ill,
and my father spent all our money to try to make
her well. He heard that Jesus could heal the sick,
so he let her go to the church with me. She was
healed that day, and now my whole family are
Christians! Thank you for the wonderful Bibles
you freely gave us.”
The anthropologist who say that these tribes should be left alone and not evangelized are deceived themselves by the powers of darkness and do not have the spiritual discernment to understand the great spiritual and physical deception that these people suffer under.
Lord Jesus understood it, that is why He said to go into all the earth and preach the gospel and set the captives (of the demons) free!
Has He set you free from the sins or idols that bind you up?
(The Bibles they refer to were printed and donated by the supporters of Asia Harvest.)
Oecolampadius -“The Light of The House”
This morning I read my devotion from The One Year Christian History by E. Michael and Sharon Rusten. The devotion spoke about how being “second fiddle” is a time-honored profession in God’s work.
Johann Hausschein was Ulrich Zwingli’s “wing man” or “second fiddle” during the Reformation in German-speaking Switzerland in the 1500s. He was very intelligent and Erasmus considered him the “foremost intellect of his day”. Johann was a theologian, preacher, a reformer of church practices and a defender of biblical truths.
Johann’s surname in German means “the light of the house”. At some point in his life he changed his surname to the Greek equivalent, “Oecolampadius”.
“Light of the house”. What a beautiful word-picture of what the biblical believer in Jesus Christ is to be. He is to be like a light shining in a home, repelling the darkness so that those living there can see their way. A light removing the mystery of what is around us, in the darkness.
If you have ever been through a hurricane, ice storm or tornado and lost your electric power, you were thankful for any source of light you had as the darkness enveloped your home. There was great rejoicing when the lights came back on.
I spent a considerable amount of my life working at a wood preserving manufacturing plant where we made wooden utility poles like you see along the highway. After an ice storm or hurricane destroyed the utility grid in an area, we would send hundreds or thousands of wooden utility poles, so the local utility could restore power. Our truck drivers said people would line the streets and applaud when they rolled into town with the utility poles.
Humans were not made to dwell in darkness.
Sadly, far too many today do dwell in spiritual “darkness”, a state of ignorance. Ignorant of the life changing love of God which He manifested by sending His Son Jesus to die for our sins. Ignorant of the resurrection of Christ, the born again experience, and the many other biblical truths that deliver man from evil and the evil one. As we will see later, we, as lost people separated from God by our sins, are described as being “darkness”.
The prophet Isaiah (9:2-4) prophesied by the Holy Spirit and said, concerning Jesus’ birth:
The people who walk in darkness will see a great light; Those who live in a dark land, The light will shine on them.
Jesus is the Light. What a beautiful metaphor and truth. Isaiah goes on to say there will be great joy and rejoicing because of this Light:
“… You shall increase their gladness; They will be glad in Your presence As with the gladness of harvest, As men rejoice when they divide the spoil.”
Why this rejoicing and gladness?
“For You shall break the yoke of their burden and the staff on their shoulders, The rod of their oppressor…”
Because Jesus will set people free from the oppressor of mankind, the evil one, satan.
We recently learned of the death of a young missionary who was trying to reach a government protected, unreached island tribe off the coast of India. The tribe killed him when he reached the shore. The world says “leave these people alone and let them live as they have for thousands of years.” But the reality is that the darkness they live in is full of fear and terror created by evil spirits that control and torment them. They are one of the “oppressors” that Jesus, The Light, came to expose and defeat in peoples lives. On my desk I have a DVD entitled “I Will Never Go Back! The Testimony of Chief Shoefoot, A Former Shaman.” This Amazon witchdoctor tells how he was possessed and controlled by demons and how Jesus Christ set him free from these evil spirits. He said he would never go back to living like his people had lived for thousands of years. Why? Through someone sharing Jesus Christ with him, he now knows the truth about God, man, sin, satan and freedom in Christ. He is walking in the Light.
May we be “the light of the house” wherever God puts us. May we reflect the light or knowledge of Jesus, in humility and wisdom, onto the people and circumstances around us.
People don’t like darkness and some people are just like outdoor moths. They will come to the Light!
Father God, Giver of all wisdom, thank you for sending the Light into the darkness and rescuing us when we were helpless. Help us to reflect Jesus, the true Light, into the darkness around us. In Jesus Name. Amen.
“For you were formerly darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth)…” Ephesians 5:8-9