Peering into the Paranormal Part I

My mother brought her childhood curiosity about psychic phenomena into her Christian faith. She read Jean Dixon's books, consulted the Ouija Board, Tarot Cards, I Ching, and astrology.

It was not unusual for us to faithfully attend church AND read our astrological charts. As a result of being introduced to the occult at an early age, I turned my sites as a teenager toward a career in the pioneering field of parapsychology. I knew that manifestations of both the paranormal and preternatural were very real. Let me explain these terms:

1. Paranormal (beyond the "not normal", the unexplained; aside from typical or normal)

Such activity is not always "other worldly"...just currently unexplainable and yet to be fully understood. We once viewed sickness with superstition until the invention of the microscope and the discovery of germs. Mental illness was always attributed to demonic possession; certain birthmarks and warts were signs of witchcraft. Improperly shielded wiring is often to blame for the "being watched" feeling and heightened paranoia.

2. Preternatural (beyond natural and what God intended; twisted, deformed beyond natural laws and things.)

Fallen angels/demons are preternatural in their real appearance and missions.

3. Supernatural (ABOVE the natural)

God alone is supernatural. Demons are creatures--created beings; and therefore NOT above their Creator in rank or ability!)

In this article, however, I will often use the term paranormal as the public understands it to represent ghost-like activities and hauntings.

God definitely had other plans for my life. Once I began a genuine relationship with Jesus (not just continuing a formal confession or "lip service" to a set of religious principles), He corrected my understanding about many things--including paranormal phenomena.

I guess it was the era and denomination to which we belonged; Mother's beliefs, and those of her church friends who would regularly gather for psychic parlor parties, were never countered with clear, Biblical teachings.

In fact, when we began to discuss her practices after my conversion, Mother was surprised to discover that the Bible strongly addressed occult issues and a believer's involvement. At age seventy-two, she renounced them and rid her home of all paraphernalia.

Although my path was re-directed into other professional pursuits, I maintained interest in the paranormal, as well as a desire to help others understand its phenomena apart from the charlatan-like theatrics and taboos that often accompany it.

Other dimensions are real. Most of these realms are not to be engaged by us on earth; however, when a portal opens (usually through deception), it can be shut and sealed, but ONLY with the guidelines provided by the One who created the realm in the first place.

No Longer on the Once-Kooky Fring

If you want a hit TV show, then satisfy Americans' voyeuristic tendencies to peek into the raw, unedited lives of others. You know--the misfits, the spoiled. Somehow, it makes us feel better to see them living poorly in our airbrushed world.

Our curiosity is also at an all time high to peer into another world where we can sit down in front of the TV after a routine day at the office and emit a gasp or two--a significant achievement in our desensitized culture. TV networks are turning out more programs on paranormal investigations and the subject's rising popularity provides prime opportunities for Christians to get in on the discussions.

Having tuned in myself, I am puzzled by the religious mixture they bring to the supposed "cleansings", blending elements of Christianity, Indian rituals, and paganism.

On one show, the leader gathers everyone around to pray a traditional Christian prayer and ends it with "in the name of Jesus"--just before they head outside to perform a pagan ritual.

If you believe that all paths lead to God, then that formula seems just what you need to make sure all the bases are covered. But for the Christian, the obvious solution is clear: seek counsel from the One who created those realms in the first place.

Everyone loves to give us advice when we have a problem; some of it may prove profitable, but most of it is questionable. Depending on how many people you ask, that's about the number of conflicting answers you'll get.

I remember when my Mother was in the hospital and it was left up to me to make a critical decision regarding her care. Her opinionated brother was arguing with the doctor over the necessity of the procedure. Finally, Dr. Hodges looked at my uncle and said, "Evan, I can see there's a little doctor in you, but just keep in mind there's a LOT of doctor in me!"

If my car breaks down, I turn to the know-how of a trusted mechanic. If I have an invading tumor in my body, I defer to a skilled surgeon for its removal.

So, before you add salt and light to the topic that's all abuzz, get your worldview straight. What do you believe about ghosts, hauntings, and things that go BUMP in the night? Can you back it up Biblically? If not, then read on.

Pinch Your Spacesuit

 A human is a spiritual being with a soul. In order to live on earth, a spirit and soul must join to something that allows the human to express himself and live within earth's laws and limitations. Hence, the Bible says our bodies--originally made of earth--will decay to their original elements after death. (Psalm 103:14; Ecclesiastes 3:20)

Once we die, we MUST vacate our bodies and leave the earthly plane to go to one of two spiritual dimensions: either a rest in God's presence or a location separated from interaction with God-- depending on which one
we reserved by choice during our earthly life. The residents of both places await the resurrection of the body, the final Judgments, and the culmination of all things.

Each human is a never-to-be-repeated creation--unique in body and spirit, unique in soul. The soul houses the totality of one's personality--the mind, will, and emotions.

We're not here because God had to fill a quota. We're alive because He wanted to create us; then, He designed and outfitted us according to His foreknowledge of all details (Psalm 139: 13-16). Lastly, we were placed into a specific time and a particular family line. (Isaiah 41:4)

When my father suddenly died, I was hard pressed to convince my six-year-old of Poppy's sudden passing without evidence. Despite reservations from my family, I took Jeremy into the room where my father's body lay in a bag. The funeral director carefully unzipped it to reveal the face. My father had been dead only a few hours, but I had to look twice to make sure it was the same man. What made him "Poppy" was no longer there to energize and animate the earthen vessel.

I told Jeremy that living on earth is like going to the moon. We need a pretty good spacesuit in order to survive. But all spacesuits experience damage or wear out. When that happens, we have to leave. "For now," I explained, "we will carefully store Poppy's body*."

I continued to say that one day Jesus will come back with all the departed people who have chosen to spend eternity with Him and reunite them with their bodies--fixed and recharged to never wear out or get sick again. This will enable them to once again live on earth as before while Jesus sets up His everlasting Kingdom. At that time, the planet will be free of bad things that make us afraid and sad. The explanation made sense to Jeremy and he was able to let go of Poppy.

You're Already Immortal. Didn't You Know?

Those who reject God will also reunite with their bodies. Just as the redeemed on earth seek to express the indwelling presence of Christ and His will as part of their progressive growth as Christians, those apart from Jesus also express the only thing they can--the unregenerate, Adamic character and will. A person disconnected inwardly from God, despite living under bountiful and merciful Providence, can only avail themselves of the limited powers of human reasoning and achievement.

Eventually, those renewed in Christ will experience all the glories of Heaven through the five senses of regenerated, immortal bodies. They will fully retain their personalities, but with emotions free from the effects of sin and minds that focus only on good and function as God intended. Those who chose to remain in Adam will rejoin their bodies to fully experience the effects of the Fall and its consequences of determined independence from God.

Most people don't take time to reflect upon the fact that their Maker is also the constant Sustainer of creation. Simply ponder the precision of degrees upon which the earth rotates on its axis and revolves around the sun in order to provide the proper balance of light and heat. Any variance would mean sudden destruction. Think about the exact combination of breathable elements and atmospheric pressure.

Jesus is "...upholding all things by the word of His power..." (Hebrews 1:3)

Notice it's not the power of His word, but His word of power. If He were to remove His upholding word--from the micro to the macro--the cosmos would collapse. What He told to "be" has yet to hear a negating command.

For now, the steady abundance of daily grace we take for granted is meant to give all people space to repent (Romans 2:4). When man enters an eternal dimension that mirrors his final choice to be free from the nourishing grace of His Creator, that is Hell.

Every person will know his eternal destination immediately upon death (personal judgment). However, the rewards or punishments will be given only at the end of human history at the Resurrection when the consequences of our actions that have rippled through time can be fully and accurately weighed in God's balances.

Of course, God sees the end from the beginning (Isaiah 41:26). He observes the past, present and future simultaneously because He exists outside of and above time. Yet, He is waiting for US to see the evidence. Before His flawless justice, all dissenting voices will cease.

The Earth Is a Penal Colony

Lucifer and one-third of the angels led a rebellion in Heaven. As punishment, they were cast to earth--their penal colony--long before mankind ever arrived. (Luke 10:18-20)

Why was it a prison? Legal entrance into the earth for higher, ascending creatures is through the birth canal. Without such a pass, demons were doomed to crippling disembodiment.

God's plan was for the fallen angels to be ruled by creatures that bore the Divine's own likeness and image. Demons were to only watch in chains as Adam and his descendants walked in the glory they foolishly, eternally forfeited.

That's why from the beginning, God gave Adam dominion and authority over EVERYTHING that moved on the earth (Genesis 1:26). He warned his emissary there was an enemy already on the ground (Genesis 2:15); therefore, humanity's mission was to "tend and guard" the Garden, even SUBDUE it (verse 28).

Ideally, the earth was to be the devil's holding cell. Deemed the jailers, so to speak, men and women were to learn to responsibly steward and protect God's creation, starting with themselves.

The greatest gift God gives is free will; humans have it and so do the angels. Consequently, God's intent was to show the devil that a will can freely choose the highest good, not just evil.

The Authority Adam Surrendered, Jesus Regained

Nevertheless, humanity failed the test and the devil delighted in God's supposedly botched experiment. But Jesus legally arrived in the earth (through the birth canal) as Adam II. He passed the three tests the original Adam failed in the exercise of his free will: self-protection, self-gratification and self-empowerment.

In John 16:11, Jesus spoke--BEFORE Calvary--that judgment was already pronounced upon the enemy. How? Our omniscient (knowing all things at all times) God knew what would happen and He provided--ahead of time--a Ransom and Redeemer.

Jesus stepped into human history to provide empirical evidence of a Redemption secured and an enemy already judged from the foundation of the world! (Revelation 13:8)

Now, with the authority and power restored by Jesus that we forfeited to the devil, we are once again given the original mandate to "tend and guard" the earth.

So How Are We Doing?

Remember typical "cop and robber" movie scenes where the hero captures the bad guy, then tells his partner to watch the crook until he returns?

"Don't take your eyes off of him," he says. "And whatever you do, don't let him fool you into taking off the handcuffs. He's a tricky one!" You've seen it. The policeman tires, perhaps dozing a time or two. Next, he drops his weapon, only to have the enemy snatch it up and turn the tables.

In another scenario, the two get to talking and before you know it, the good guy lets down his guard. The villain convinces him to just let him go to the bathroom or perhaps loosen the cuffs a bit...

Satan has NEVER had legitimate authority in the earth. Whatever he gets, he steals. In order to fully use that authority, he desires to "inhabit" an earthly body (into the mind and thought processes) where entrance is gained by deceit or permission.

This verse is directed at Christians: (Be sober; be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, SEEKING whom he MAY devour, whom resist steadfast in the faith..." (I Peter 5:8,9a)

Law Enforcement agencies will tell you that most criminals do not break into homes and cars. They simply SEEK until they find one unlocked. Negligence is an open invitation--a way of granting indirect permission.

Modus Operandi

The only way satan can successfully get revenge is to attack what God loves the most--beings created in His own image and likeness. As we've seen from Scripture, the devil cannot do this indiscriminately--he must have permission. Persuading the wills of unbelievers is a piece of cake for satan. But Christians are not off limits to him, either. You may not be bound for Hell, but if he can find a way to give you hell on earth, he will.

He looks for open doors that come from outstanding injustices. As a child of God, you know words and their actions have creative power. Blessings and cursings carry enough force to empower a person to eventually succeed or fail, and they can endure to impact future generations for good or bad.

If a person leaves this earth with longstanding, unrepentant sins, it creates an entrance for the devil to get into the family line and follow through with generational curses. If the sins are particularly egregious, there may also be manifestations.

It all has to do with sin! Sin is the open door--period. If you think you're having "hauntings" just because you live on an Indian burial ground, think again. It's probably due to a broken covenant between the white man and the Indian tribe that ended in some sort of bloodshed or uprooting.

* I am not against cremation. Even a well-embalmed body eventually decomposes and becomes part of the earth's cycle of life and decay.

As we know, some bodies are torn, burned, and even vaporized in this world full of violence and tragedy; yet, the souls of these individuals remain completely intact and housed by God.

The day will come when He will resurrect and unite each body
with its existing, fully aware spirit/soul-- either unto everlasting glory or regret.

No body maintains its continuity, even in life. Every seven years we get a "new" body, as healthy cells regenerate and die.What IS constant, however, is our genetic coding. The grain of wheat in the ground looks different from what is harvested, but the DNA is exactly the same.

In your Resurrection, a fully physical body will rise--complete and precisely identical--but it will function differently, as Jesus demonstrated in His resurrected body prior to the Ascension.

Understanding this truth helps us realize that burial customs are therefore only for the benefit of those left behind for now...a comforting way to say good-bye while at the same time holding on to what remains of our loved ones. Embalmment, a grave, a headstone, an urn--these things help us stay tangibly connected until we are reunited.

Be comforted with these words from Tatian: 'I am laid up in the storehouse of a wealthy Lord."

Please continue with PART II

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