Archive for October, 2012

Disturbing Report Makes Legislators Rethink Abortion Limits.

There are disturbing reports coming from England and Wales as  national statistics show that more than a quarter of all deaths in the countries  are caused by abortions.

The numbers were released by the Office for National Statistics of the U.K. and offers a  complete accounting of the mortality statistics for all deaths that occurred in  2010.

The report was divided into two parts; major causes of death and death from  external causes. The report listed the total number of deaths and the resulting  cause or factor.

The report listed a total of 493,242 deaths in England and Wales from “all  causes” in 2010. This number includes 224 babies who died “before, during or  after birth.” However, the 224 babies who died were not represented in the  189,574 human deaths from abortion in England and Wales in 2010.

Adding the total number of pre-born babies who died as a result of abortion  in 2010 to the total number of human deaths in England and Wales for that same  year produces an overall total of 682,816 deaths.

This leads to 27 percent or 189,574 of the 682,816 deaths being caused by  abortion.

Recently, several top British government officials have proposed and endorsed  calls to lower the current abortion limit of 24 weeks to a new limit of 12  weeks.

Jeremy Hunt, Britain’s new health secretary, explained that while he  understands the seriousness concerning this debate, he feels that reducing the  time limit from 24 weeks to 12 weeks is the right point to start with when  considering the moment life starts.

“Everyone looks at the evidence and comes to a view about when they think  that moment is, and my own view is that 12 weeks is the right point for it … It  is just my view about that incredibly difficult question about the moment that  we should deem life to start,” Hunt told The Sunday Times U.K. during an  interview.

Hunt did not cite any specific scientific evidence to explain his position,  nor did he assume any religious motives for his statement.

“It’s just my view about that incredibly difficult question about the moment  that we should deem life to start. I don’t think the reason I have that view is  for religious reasons,” Hunt said.


(Photo: REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton)
A man, who asked not to be identified, stands with Lucille Dwyer on among the wreckage of their homes devastated by fire and the effects of Hurricane Sandy in the Breezy Point section of the Queens borough of New York October 31, 2012. The U.S. Northeast began crawling back to normal on Wednesday after monster storm Sandy crippled transportation, knocked out power for millions and killed at least 45 people in nine states with a massive storm surge and rain that caused epic flooding.

As Americans throughout the East Coast reel from the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, the question many victims and viewers are asking is “Where was God?”

It’s what many people ask in their hearts following a tragedy. Best-selling author Max Lucado sought to answer the question Tuesday as some 8 million people were left without power and at least 50 people were found dead.

“What we have seen off America’s eastern coast, the disciples saw on the Galilean Sea,” Lucado stated on his website.

An account in the Gospel of Matthew tells of Jesus‘ disciples facing a storm while on a boat in the middle of the sea. Jesus had told them to get into the boat and go ahead of him to the other side while he went up on a mountainside to pray.

Where was Jesus? “Praying,” Lucado wrote.

“Jesus made intercession His priority. Did He know about the storm? Could He feel the winds? And see the thunder? No doubt. When He sensed the danger, He chose to pray.

“He still does. He offers unending intercession on our behalf.”

Lucado quoted Romans 8:34 (in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us), saying, “He prays us through the storm.”

Also, just as Jesus walked on water to meet the disciples, Jesus also “meets us in the storm” at the right moment, said Lucado.

“He is doing the same at this very moment. Through the steady hands of first responders. The compassion of physicians. The kindness of neighbors. The generosity of people like you. We see only a small portion of His activity. But we know this: He still steps into the super-storms of life,” he wrote.

Sandy struck the East Coast Monday night, battering the Northeast with strong winds and flooding.

“We are in a state of crisis all across this state,” Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker told CNN on Wednesday. “It’s going to be a challenging time.”

Sandy is estimated to cost at least $20 billion in damage, though some place the estimate much higher.

President Obama approved major disaster declarations for New Jersey and New York, making additional federal support for state and local efforts available, as well as direct federal assistance to affected individuals in declared counties.

“All of us have been shocked by the force of mother nature,” said President Barack Obama on Wednesday.

“It is not going to be easy for these communities to recover.”

Halloween Season: Interview With a Former Witch – Part 1

Author S.A. (Seleah Ally) Tower shares her story of life as a  former witch who became a Christian in her book Taken from the Night – A  Witches Encounter With God.

The Christian Post interviewed her for an article shortly after her book was released earlier  this year. As Halloween approaches, and as the darker side of the holiday’s  history resurfaces every year, CP decided to take a closer look at the tradition  from the perspective of someone who was once immersed for 10 years in witchcraft  and the occult before fully accepting Jesus Christ into her life.

Tower, who grew up in a traditional Christian household, said she wants the  book and her testimony to help others who have experienced the same struggles in  the spiritual realm.

This is the first part of the two-part interview with The Christian Post.

CP: We’ve all heard many stories about the origins of Halloween. As  someone who has done a lot of research in this area can you give us a brief  summary of what you believe to be the origins of the holiday celebrated in the  U.S.?

Tower: Halloween as celebrated in the USA is a somewhat  diluted version of various traditions mostly stemming from medieval times. Kids  dressing in costume and going door to door looking for treats, which is one of  the main Halloween events, can be found in “souling” or dressing in rags. This  Dark Ages practice included going door to door in search for soul cakes in  return for prayers for the deceased or in “guising” where masqueraders carried  lanterns made of scooped-out turnips going door to door in hopes of being  rewarded with cakes, fruit and money.

Today, adults and even teenagers have taken another medieval time tradition  of demanding beer or ale while costumed in exchange for a performance as an  opportunity to party. During the Dark Ages, many actually feared encounters with  mischievous spirits and wore masks so that ghosts would mistake them for a  fellow spirit if they had to go out at night.

CP: What is it about witches in particular? You were drawn to a  witch’s “lifestyle” at one point in your life. Why the fascination from your  perspective and why do so many others hold, in some cases, a peculiar  obsession?

Tower: A witch has a certain mystique about her and for many the allure has  to do with both the unknown and the unthinkable. It’s our natural curiosity that  causes us to be fascinated with the unknown and the witch portrays this mystery  as well as the excitement of entertaining the unthinkable.

For me personally, the appeal was self-empowerment and the feminine aspect of  witchcraft. The lifestyle enabled me the freedom to make my own decisions  according to how I saw fit and gave me the ability to put those changes into  action through magic. I think a lot of people are looking for a hands-on  spirituality where they can incorporate their own will rather than God’s will.  We live in a “me” focused society that’s all about what “I” want. Part of it is  the fault of churches because Christianity should not be a spectator religion.  We are all part of the Body and each one of us has a significant part in the  whole Church.

CP: How prevalent is witchcraft in the U.S.? What would you warn  people who dabble in the occult and witchcraft?

Tower: Contrary to popular opinion, I don’t believe true  witchcraft is on the rise. Being a witch takes a lot of time and hard work,  something which is rare in today’s society where everything you want is at the  tip of your fingertips. I think the term “witch” is loosely used nowadays and  the rise is in paganism in general.

I would not encourage dabbling in witchcraft from either a Christian or  Wiccan point of view. Magic is real; witchcraft is not a fantasy and not  something to be toiled with. God, in love warns us against engaging in  witchcraft because His desire is to be in a relationship with us alone.

CP: As a Christian, how do you approach the Halloween “season,”  because it truly appears to have developed into at least a month-long  celebration?

I approach the season with prayer rather than paranoia. As Christians we  really have no reason to fear when the light of Jesus is within us. I don’t lock  my door and hide away on Halloween night … rather I see it as an opportunity to  shine the light of Jesus in the darkness. I also pray for those in spiritual  darkness to come to know the God of Abraham, that they would seek godly  knowledge, and for their revelation in Jesus’ death that conquered the grave.  Then when most other Christians have forgotten Halloween for another year I  continue to pray because Samhain is not necessarily October 31st. While all the  Halloween parties and public “Witch Balls” are over, the time in between  [Samhain] will come unnoticed. This year, it falls on Nov. 6 while most will be  distracted with the election for the next president.

CP: What is Samhain?

Tower: Witches and most neo-pagans celebrate Samhain. I am  unable to speak for the satanist but witches celebrate Samhain as the final  harvest celebration or summer’s end for the Celtic people. It is the Celtic New  Year and beginning of the dark half of the year. It’s considered a very magical  time when the veil between the worlds is thinnest and the dead walk among the  living. The Celts believed it was a time when the future could be most  effectively predicted and so it was a time for divination and prophecy.

CP: Do you suggest parents steer away from approving witch or  sorcerer costumes for their children?

Tower: Putting on a costume is like temporarily putting on the persona of the  costume so I would suggest using discernment in the costume choice. I would  certainly not encourage a witch or sorcerer costume, but I don’t think a parent  should overreact to a child’s choice of one either. It can be a great learning  experience and help the child make another choice on their own.


Halloween Season:  Former Witch on Breaking From the Coven – Part 2

In the final part of The Christian Post’s two-part interview with author S.A. (Seleah Ally) Tower, a former witch who became a Christian, she shares that it was her realization of how intensely God loves her that saved her from the life of a Wiccan practitioner.

Despite a Wiccan society that is mainly apart from mainstream America, Tower became a member of a coven (community of witches) 23 years ago. This coming Halloween she will be co-hosting a “Hallelujah Night” webcast to commemorate the day 13 years ago when she “walked into church a practicing witch and left rejoicing as a believer in Jesus.”

Tower grew up in a traditional Christian household and wants to continue sharing her life story so that others who are experiencing the same struggles in the spiritual realm can have hope.

This is the conclusion to the interview with The Christian Post.

CP: There are some people who are unaware that there are practicing witches in the U.S. How deep were you into witchcraft? How did you “blend into” society?

Tower: I personally embraced witchcraft as a lifestyle, became initiated and practiced within a coven. Aside from perhaps my choice of clothes, I blended in as your typical wife, “soccer mom” and school bus driver quite well. Even though I was “out of the broom closet” with my beliefs, the average person aside from close friends and family would have never known. There was really nothing about my demeanor that would have aroused suspicion in my neighborhood except perhaps my late night trips on full moon.

CP: Were there moments when you were scared? Was there a moment when you knew you could no longer be a witch?

Tower: I wouldn’t say I was actually scared … we were taught not to fear the “dark” but to respect it. Also working within a group we abided by so-called “perfect love” and “perfect trust” which basically meant you trusted your coven with your life so there was no need to be afraid.

For me, the moment came when I encountered the love of God with such intensity that I simply couldn’t deny nor reject Him any longer. It wasn’t as though I had some horrible experience with witchcraft, rather I couldn’t say no to the overwhelming, all-consuming love of God. At that point, I knew I could no longer continue living my life as a witch.

CP: Your book Taken from the Night – A Witches Encounter With God takes readers on your journey from the occult to Christianity – you becoming a born-again Christian – can you give us a brief summary as to your last days as a witch and how you came to know Jesus?

Tower: My former pastor invited me to church to speak with an ex-occultist who was visiting. I had been ex-communicated from the church so I accepted only out of spite. I was happy with my Wiccan lifestyle and had no desire for the Christian God. Despite the fact that the woman didn’t show, I found myself exhausted and overwhelmed in tears throughout the service. Perplexed by my reaction I asked if I could visit again not expecting I would be invited back the day after the Samhain Witch’s Ball. I almost didn’t get out of bed but was determined to prove the same thing wouldn’t happen again, especially since I was still charged with energy from the night before. Instead God had something to prove to me as He swept me off my feet and saturated me with love beyond words. That encounter was the beginning of my difficult journey back yet, His grace sustained me through it all.

CP: Since the book was released in May of this year, what have you learned in your speaking engagements and comments from readers?

Tower: It’s amazing to see the vast difference in the reactions and responses I’ve received but I think the most important thing I’ve learned is to keep my focus on pleasing God. While I have a God-given passion for sharing truth, what a person does with the truth is between them and God.

CP: One last question about Halloween. There are some Christians who say we shouldn’t be celebrating Halloween at all. What will you be doing this Wednesday evening?

Tower: This Wednesday I’ll be co-hosting a livestream Hallelujah Night celebrating the day 13 years ago that I walked into church a practicing witch and left rejoicing as a believer in Jesus. If you’re not sure what to do on October 31st, feel free to join me. For more information go to my Taken From the Night Facebook page and look for the Hallelujah Night post. We’ll even be giving away a few copies of the upcoming new release Insights From Hindsight – A 30-Day Companion Guide to Taken From The Night.


Posted: October 31, 2012 in Max Lucado


True Confessions

Posted: October 31, 2012 in Joe Stowell
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“Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me.” Psalm 51:5

I love coconut. I always have! So, after an exhausting day in second grade, I found a bag of shredded coconut in the cupboard and devoured the whole thing. When my mother went into the kitchen later to bake—you guessed it, a coconut cake—I heard, “Who ate the coconut?!”

I knew I was in trouble, but my escape plan was simple—a quick, easy lie: “Not me!”

She continued her inquiry with my sisters, but after they denied it, we all heard the familiar words: “Wait till your Dad comes home!” My cover-up plan was doomed to failure, and later that evening I finally confessed.

No one had to teach me to lie. As the psalmist David admits, “I was brought forth in iniquity” (Psalm 51:5). But in his sin David knew where to go—to the God of abundant mercy who will cleanse us from our sin (Psalm 51:1-2).

When we recognize the ongoing reality of sin in our lives, we are reminded of our ongoing need for the presence of God and the power of His Word to keep us safe and spiritually sane. He is waiting for us to confess our faults and embrace the forgiveness and cleansing that He readily offers.

Remember, a refreshing plunge into God’s mercy awaits you on the other side of confessed sin!

Out of my shameful failure and loss, Jesus, I come, Jesus, I come; Into the glorious gain of Thy cross, Jesus, I come to Thee. —Sleeper

Own up to your sin and experience the joy of confession.

If you have faith as a mustard seed . . . nothing will be impossible for you —Matthew 17:20

We have the idea that God rewards us for our faith, and it may be so in the initial stages. But we do not earn anything through faith— faith brings us into the right relationship with God and gives Him His opportunity to work. Yet God frequently has to knock the bottom out of your experience as His saint to get you in direct contact with Himself. God wants you to understand that it is a life of faith, not a life of emotional enjoyment of His blessings. The beginning of your life of faith was very narrow and intense, centered around a small amount of experience that had as much emotion as faith in it, and it was full of light and sweetness. Then God withdrew His conscious blessings to teach you to “walk by faith” (2 Corinthians 5:7). And you are worth much more to Him now than you were in your days of conscious delight with your thrilling testimony.

Faith by its very nature must be tested and tried. And the real trial of faith is not that we find it difficult to trust God, but that God’s character must be proven as trustworthy in our own minds. Faith being worked out into reality must experience times of unbroken isolation. Never confuse the trial of faith with the ordinary discipline of life, because a great deal of what we call the trial of faith is the inevitable result of being alive. Faith, as the Bible teaches it, is faith in God coming against everything that contradicts Him— a faith that says, “I will remain true to God’s character whatever He may do.” The highest and the greatest expression of faith in the whole Bible is— “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him” (Job 13:15).

“Then Abraham approached him and said: ‘Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked?’”—Genesis 18:23

The Torah portion for this week, Vayeira, is from Genesis 18:1—22:24 and 2 Kings 4:1–37.

When God decided to destroy the city of Sodom, He informed Abraham about His plan. After all, Abraham would be God’s partner in perfecting the world; he deserved to know. Abraham didn’t want to see the death of his fellow human beings, especially the good ones. So he prayed on their behalf and tried to bargain with God. The conversation went something like this:

Abraham: “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked?” What if there are 50 righteous people in Sodom? Will you save them all?

God: Yes.

Abraham: What if there are only 45?

God: Yes.

Abraham: How about 40?

God: Yes.

30? Yes. 20? Yes. Ten? Yes.

Abraham struck a deal. If there were only ten righteous individuals in Sodom, God would save the entire city. Unfortunately, even ten righteous people could not be found, and the city was destroyed anyway. So why are we given the details about Abraham’s attempt to save Sodom? Wouldn’t it have been enough to say that Abraham prayed on their behalf?

Like everywhere else in the Bible, every detail is provided for a reason. It has something to teach us about how we should live. In this case, Abraham’s conversation with God is a lesson on achieving goals.

Abraham approached God with great trepidation when he presented his request. He knows that he is asking a lot. But ultimately, Abraham was successful in achieving his goal. How did he do it? By breaking it down into smaller, bite-sized, mini-goals. First, Abraham’s goal was to have God agree to spare the city for the sake of 50 good men. Once he secured that agreement, he went to the next goal, 45 men. In small steps, he progressed toward his ultimate goal of ten men. Had he tried for ten in the beginning, Abraham probably thought he would not have succeeded.

Do you have a great goal that you want to achieve? Try to reach it the Abraham way. Don’t go for the whole goal right away. Instead, break it down into small, easy steps, and take the journey one step at a time. Celebrate each achievement and recognize every milestone along the way. Keep putting one foot in front of the other, and before you know it, you’ll arrive at the finish line!