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In 1849 a wagon train was traveling through Death Valley to follow the gold rush into California. As this particular wagon train trudged through Death Valley, the hottest place in California, they looked ahead and saw a sheet of water they all believed was Owen’s Lake. But it was just a mirage created by the intense heat, and the harder their pressed on to make it to the water, the more frustrated they became. The foundation for many people’s spiritual journey is no more real than that mirage. Some people base their entire spiritual lives on illusions whether it’s the psychic friends network or astrology, whether it’s some strange teacher like David Koresh or some new claim to have special insight into the future .
A HISTORY OF HALLOWEEN
The Celtic festival of Samhain is probably the source of the present-day Halloween celebration. The Celts new year began on November first. A festival that began the previous evening honored Samhain, the Celtic lord of death. The celebration marked the beginning of the season of cold, darkness, and decay. It naturally became associated with human death. The Celts believed that Samhain allowed the souls of the dead to return to their earthly homes for this evening. On the evening of the festival, the Druids, who were the priests and teachers of the Celts, ordered the people to put out their fires. The Druids built a huge new year’s bonfire of oak branches, which they considered sacred. They burned animals, crops, and human beings as sacrifices. Then each family relit its fire from the new year’s fire. During the celebration, people sometimes wore costumes made of animal heads and skins. They told fortunes about the coming year by examining the remains of the animals that had been sacrificed.
All Saints Day: Many of the customs of the Celts survived even after the people became Christians. During the 800’s, the church established All Saints’ Day on November first. They made the old pagan customs part of this Christian holy day.
The Catholic Church later began to honor the dead on November second. This day became known as All Soul’s Day. The Catholics believed that you could pray the dead out of purgatory.
The Jack-o-Lantern originated with an Irishman named Jack who loved to play pranks on the Devil. Legend is that he was made to wander the world carrying a lantern to show him the way, going to neither heaven nor hell. Hollowed out pumpkins with candles lighted inside were supposed to scare evil spirits away.
The Irish initiated “Trick-or-treating” when farmers would go from house to house to collect food for the village.
Costumes went from children dressing up like martyrs in celebration of All Saints Day to the modern day costumes of witches, etc…
SOURCE: Encyclopedia Britanica and others.
Norman Cousins was diagnosed as having an incurable disease. He was bedridden & the doctors gave him no hope at all. So he decided on his own treatment. His family got a movie projector & rented all the Charlie Chaplin & Abbott & Costello movies that they could find - movies where you just sit back & laugh because they are genuinely funny.
He ran one movie after another, & the more he watched the more he laughed. The more he laughed, the better he felt. First thing you know, the doctors could find no evidence of the incurable disease.
Last week, on the editorial page of the Valley Morning Star, Paul Harvey stated that for the last 10 years Norman Cousins has been on the staff of the UCLA School of Medicine & is pioneering a new medical discipline: "pyschoneuro-immunology."
The article states, "Carefully controlled experiments conducted by Cousins & his associates demonstrate that you - just by controlling your mind set - can alter your temperature, your blood pressure & your blood chemistry in a matter of minutes."
It goes on to say, "There is now evidence that cancer patients - liberated from depression - can actually activate the anti-cancer capability of the immune system. ’The human body,’ contends Cousins, ’is far more robust than people have been led to believe. A strong will to live, along with the other positive emotions - faith, love, purpose, determination, humor - boosts disease-fighting immune cells.’"
So the proverb is true. If you’re joyful in your heart, then that is good medicine. But if you’re not joyful, if your spirit is broken, then it dries up your bones. You become old & tired, & a person no one wants to be around.
In the film The Matrix, we are taken to the year 2199. The world has been taken over and is being run by AI: artificial intelligence. Harvested humans live in a computer generated dreamworld of artificial reality, never understanding that they are captives of an evil empire. But there are a few people still connected enough to reality who discover the Matrix. What they see is that there are two worlds now. One is evil, and it depends on control and deception. It is an unreal world. The other is the real world, even though it would not be seen as such by those caught up in the Matrix. There is a great deal of religious symbolism in the film, and it picks up on the biblical theme of the kingdom of God and its opposition to the kingdom of evil. In the movie, Morpheus tries to explain the Matrix and says to Neo: “Have you ever had a dream, Neo, that you were so sure was real? What if you were unable to wake from that dream? How would you know the difference between the dream world and the real world?”
In the same way, we live in the real world while so many around us are living in a world of deception. Unable to wake from the dream, they only know what they see. They have never known anything different. Our responsibility is to never forget which is the real world and which is fantasy. We are also respon...
Revelation vs. Lord of the Rings
Many, many people, Christians and non-Christians alike, say they find the Book of the Revelation ‘uncomfortable’. They find much of the imagery disturbing, and are put off by the concept of God’s judgement on the world. Yet in recent days millions of people have flocked to the cinema to see the film ‘Lord of the Rings’, in which state of the art special effects are used to bring to life J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth. Many of the images in the film are also quite frightening, but that does not seem to put people off.
Indeed much of the message of both books is the same, of an on-going war between the forces of good and evil. In both cases too evil is ultimately defeated, and destroyed, whilst the forces of good prevail. The difference of course is that ‘The Lord of the Rings’ is fiction, and will never come true, whilst the really disturbing thought for people about the Book of the Revelation is that it just might.
Revelation 1: 1 – 3; Revelation 4:1; Revelation 20: 18 - 20
Just out in this past Thursday’s USATODAY website (May 30,2002) – “Americans are increasingly pessimistic about the war against terrorism following weeks of revelations about missed clues and warnings of likely future attacks. Only four in 10 Americans believe the United States and its allies are winning the war against terrorism, according to a USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup poll. In January, when headlines focused on military successes on the battlefield in Afghanistan, two-thirds of those polled felt the nation was winning the war. The number has declined steadily since. Now, 35% say neither side is winning the war, and 15% say the terrorists are winning.” Wave after wave of reports of new terrorist threats, perhaps biological terrorism, nuclear arms at the hands of terrorist, and terrorist attack alerts/warnings I believe is wearing down on the nerves of the people.
I believe in the same way many Christians today too are sensing that they are not winning the battle against the enemy of our souls. Just like the Al Qeada terrorists, the devil’s demons appears hard to root out, and when they do strike, many Christians fall or fall far away from God’s purposes, just as we hear soldiers die or mistakes happen such as the “friendly fire” incident that caused Canadian lives. As a result, there is a sense of pessimism among many defeated Christians. Defeated perhaps by cares of this world, defeated by pressures that seem out of control, defeated by … If Jesus is victorious, as many claim, where then is that victory? Where then is the joy?
"My luck is so bad that if I bought a cemetery, people would stop dying."
A man stood on the side of the road hitch hiking on a very dark night in the middle of a storm. The night was rolling and no cars passed. The storm was so strong, he could hardly see a few feet ahead of him. Suddenly he saw a car come towards him and stop.
The guy, without thinking about it, got in the car and closed the door to realize that nobody was behind the wheel. The car started slowly. The guy looked at the road and saw a curve coming his way.
Scared, he started praying, and begged for his life. He hadn’t come out of shock, when just before he hit the curve, a hand appeared through the window and moved the wheel. The guy, paralyzed in terror, watched how the hand appeared every time before a curve.
The guy gathered strength, got out of the car and ran to the nearest town. Wet and in shock, he ran into a cantina and asked for two shots of tequila, and started telling everybody about the horrible experience he went through. A silence enveloped everybody...
One of the things about the planet earth is that she contains many interesting and mysterious places. One such place is the Bermuda Triangle.
The Bermuda Triangle is an area of the Atlantic Ocean that is bordered by the island of Bermuda on the north, the island of Puerto Rico on the south, and the city of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida on the west. It is a place into which ships, planes, and the people have vanished. It is one the earth’s mysterious places and spaces.
There have been many theories as to why this patch of earth has created such tragedy. Some say that there are magnetic currents that create problems with compasses and other navigational instruments that create confusion for pilots and captains. Others have suggested that human error is to blame for the loss of life in this area.
We must believe in luck. For how else can we explain the success of those we don't like?