Rev. Kenneth and Lydia Meshoe: Celebrate 25 Years in Ministry

Together with my wife, we started Hope of Glory Tabernacle in March 1988 after more than ten years of working at Christ For All Nations under the leadership of Rev. Reinhard Bonnke.

The importance of prayer
We continue to serve as the senior pastors and since we started the church, prayer (particularly for the nation) has been central to everything we have done. Besides the salvation of souls and healing of the sick, the Lord has manifested His presence and glory in remarkable ways.
In 1990, the area in which our church is situated was engulfed in serious political violence that even local politicians could not stop. After much prayer, the Lord spoke to me from Psalm 44:5 which says: “Through You, we will push back our enemies…”
As I read this verse, the Holy Spirit told me to declare ‘Operation Push Back’. The Sunday morning after receiving this revelation from God, we implemented the project with amazing results. The spirit of violence and death was pushed out of our community and peace was restored in answer to our prayer and obedience to the Holy Spirit.
By the grace of God, we were able to, among other things, shut down a brothel and an abortion clinic in Boksburg in the mid-90s simply by using weapons of warfare and strategies given by the Holy Spirit.

Vessels of honour
We have youth arts ministry in the church called Vessels of Honour (VOH) that has, over the years, put on productions such as ‘The Power of Prayer’, ‘King of Kings’ and ‘Oh Happy Day’ through which have ministered the truths of God’s Word in a manner that is direct yet humorous, empowering and life-changing. VOH is often invited to minister at conferences and other Christ­ian related events, and regularly hosts out-reach ministries at schools and old age homes.

Proclaiming Christ’s Lordship
To date, their most prominent ministry has been ‘All Hail’. Following an instruction the Lord gave me to proclaim the Lordship of Jesus Christ in every province of South Africa, VOH travelled to seven of the nine provinces of South Africa in 2012 to present this production. Performed to the hymn ‘All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name’, the show compromises a military themed dance and flag presentation in which nations of the world salute and submit themselves to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

Laying a Godly foundation
Our church runs a crèche for children between the ages of two and six, at which not only the physical, emotional and developmental needs of children are attended to, but values from the Word of God are instilled into the hearts and minds of the young ones. 
Year after year, we are encouraged to receive reports from parents of these children that their children are excelling in primary schools and are examples of Godly behaviour in their neighbourhoods because of the foundation we laid.

Reaching out
Regarding practical community work, we have been involved in projects such as feeding and clothing the poor, running a clinic that is visited by a medical doctor who gives free service to our community, visiting the sick in hospitals and old age homes, and adopting abandoned and unwanted babies.

A women’s help centre
We have also established a centre called Tshepo Women Help Centre, which community members say is a model of Christian faith in action. Although based in a small four-roomed township house and often held back by a lack of resources, the Centre has impacted the community both with the love of Jesus and professional practice methods in health-care and social development. Fifteen years of faith, hard work and selfless dedication from our staff (many of whom have been unpaid volunteers) have earned them the trust of the community they serve.
Our trained and professional staff conduct education campaigns at shopping malls and taxi ranks on general health issues that include sugar diabetes, hypertension and TB. Our staff also makes home visits which enables them to provide discreet HIV counselling and testing. If their patients test positive for HIV, they refer them to their local clinics for treatment.
When unmarried pregnant women and girls come to Tshepo Women Help Centre for counselling, they are told of all the risks of undergoing an abortion. After hearing about all the psychological and physical risks, 99% choose to give birth to their babies and either to keep them or to put them up for adoption through the Centre’s adoption programme.
The Centre also caters for the needs of many school-children who return to vacant homes in the afternoons with empty stomachs. About 170 of these children are given food on a daily basis.
In addition, the Centre runs various support groups for elderly care and stand alongside the HIV/Aids infected and affected, and orphans and those who care for them. A co-operative has been formed to teach unemployed women from the community skills to enable them to support themselves and their families. Dress-making, the sewing of aprons, bead-work and shoe-making are all done.

Please pray for us!
Please pray for our family, church and for larger premises so that our community work can be extended and more people reached.   
By: Kenneth Meshoe
For more information on the church, or to assist please see:

In Defence of Chrisitian Clinical Hypnosis

Many a Christian writer has condemned all forms of hypnosis as demonic and/or doorways to the demonic spiritual realm (see JOY! article on ‘Yoga and Hypnosis Open Hidden Spiritual Doors, Nov Issue). This article seeks to offer a counter argument based on Scripture, science and rationality. 
I agree with most Christian theologians that things such as New Age healing methodologies and Eastern Spirituality, including transcendental meditation are demonic. However, many Christian writers have made some negative declarations without much thought or Biblical backing; for example declaring that hypnosis is: “mystical and spiritual.” This simply is not true – hypnosis is a natural phenomena…
Everyone on this planet is actually under hypnosis at least twice a day. Being under hypnosis is simply an alpha brainwave state, which can be measured with an electroencephalography (EEG) machine.
There are four natural levels of cognitive arousal, which all people experience throughout the day and night. The alpha brain-state is one of them, found on the continuum of arousal whereby a person is not quite awake and not fully asleep. You are mostly in this state just before waking up in the morning and just before falling asleep at night. You can also go into the alpha brainwave state, while day dreaming, at the movies, while driving long distances on the road and even at church!

Hypnosis in nature
Hypnosis is also found in nature, sometimes for survival, reproduction, or to just get a meal. Consider the common Cuttlefish: it hypnotises its prey (with stunning light displays) to subdue it. If all hypnotists are new age mystics headed for judgement and hell, then there must be many Cuttlefish going in that direction as well!
God, being the author of the mind, gave man the capacity for hypnosis even before The Fall. “So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep and while he was sleeping, He took one of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with flesh.” Gen 2:21.

Hypnosis is natural…
Even Peter was in a trance. “He (Peter) became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance:” Paul too was put into a trance, “When I returned to Jerusalem and was praying at the temple, I fell into a trance and saw the Lord speaking.” Acts 22:17.
Some writers have erroneously equated a, ‘charmer’ in the Bible, to a ‘hypno­therapist.’ Charming refers to making spells and blessing or cursing objects or people (binding them) and sometimes the word is associated with speaking to the dead. The spirit behind charming and witchcraft is the Jezebel spirit. Hypnosis is natural and neutral (it can be used for good or evil) and it is not forbidden in the Word.

Beware of satan’s versions
I have seen people being ‘slain in the spirit’ in both mainline and Pentecostal churches. What is going on here? Who is putting the people to sleep? Who is doing the therapeutic work? And most importantly, why do you have to be ‘open’ to it like you have to be ‘open’ in order to be hypnotised? When true long-term emotional healing happens as a result of supernatural sleep, I believe the greatest hypnotherapist in the universe has been at work: the Holy Spirit, the Counsellor of counsellors.
Hypnosis, like sex, has been made by God, however satan has perverted this with his demonic alternatives. Shall the Church ban music and candles, because they are also used by satanists? Shall I stop cooking chicken chow-mien (Chinese food) and curry because they originate from Buddhists and Hindu countries?

Myths about  hypnosis:
• “Under hypnosis someone can put (and make you act upon) suggestions into your mind that you do not want”.  False: Nothing in this world can turn off your conscience (your knowledge of right and wrong). Only you cauterise your own conscience
• “Hypnosis, like Eastern meditation, requires you to completely clear your mind, opening a door to the demonic.” False: hypnosis turns down the voice of your conscious mind and helps you to access your sub-conscious mind, which is found in the more powerful right hemisphere of your brain. Your conscious mind is always present during a hypnotherapy session and more importantly your conscience is always there too
• “Hypnosis is the same as Eastern meditation, magic, charming, martial arts, yoga, channelling, etc”. False: It is reductionist to generalise completely different things and give them negative labels unless you really know your topic
• “Hypnosis comes from the Eastern religions.” False: it has always been in man’s capacity to be hypnotised. Even if in some form it is present in these religions, you can separate some Eastern practices from Eastern spirituality. 

Hypnosis can be used for evil
Can hypnosis be misused or even used for evil as some suggest? The answer is: “Of course.” All our gifts from God can be tainted, misused and even exploited for pure evil. Sex is neutral and is a sacred gift from God, to be enjoyed by a husband and his wife. However, it can obviously be abused and perverted. Unfortunately alternative New Age healers have hijacked clinical hypnosis from the professionals (psychologists and psychiatrists) who should be the only ones to use it.
The pattern with demonic healing is that the devil may heal you, but in time you, the practitioner, or even your children will pay the price. With professional clinical hypnosis, there are never any negative consequences for the practitioner or the patient.  You know treatments in the same way you know people: by their fruits.
That being said the following applications of hypnosis are not acceptable:
• Amateur, stage and street hypnosis. (Besides, it’s fake)
• New Age Past-Life Regression Hypnosis (very evil).

Who is the best type of hypnotherapist?
• Someone who is a Christian Psychologist or Psychiatrist, with training in hypno­therapy, who pleads the Blood of Jesus over the sessions and asks the Father to bring the mind of the hypnotist and patient (both conscious and sub-conscious) into total obedience to the Holy Spirit
• One who practices Christian Medical Hypnoanalysis 
• One who truly believes and confesses that Jesus Christ is Lord and the only way to God.
Sometimes Christians persecute their own brothers and sisters! Just because you do not understand something, do not label it as ‘demonic’ or a ‘spiritual door’. 
By: James B Munnik Jr (MA Psych) is a second generation Christian mental health professional.  For a free copy of his full article, email him at:
JOY! Magazine seeks to educate and equip Christians with a Biblical worldview. We also serve as a platform for debate and discussion on contentious (and sometimes confusing) issues. We encourage Christians to engage in helpful dialogue and Bible study that will lead to a Scriptural understanding of the matter at hand.
Having published an article on the spiritual doors that Yoga and Hypnosis open, we also acknowledge that some Christians hold a different view. Let us know your thoughts on this controversial subject. Email

Werner & Michelle Links: Full of the Love of Jesus

Michelle and Werner Links are a wonderful couple with a passion for the Gospel, as well as a rich revelation of the love of God in their lives. After receiving a word from the Lord, The Love Church (TLC) was born. This couple desires to share the divine love of the Father and manage to do so with a powerful outreach team and a deep conviction of their task.
We interviewed Werner and Michelle to find out when their paths crossed and how God brought them into ministry.
Becoming a man of God
Werner grew up in a humble home, in a poverty-stricken area. At the age of twelve, he boldly assumed the task of breadwinner through casual work when his father passed away. Through this struggle he managed to matriculate and continued to apply himself in a stable job. Three years later, burdened by the suicide of a friend, Werner happened to come across an open-air church meeting. He accepted salvation that day and grew from faith to faith with the guidance of Christian mentors.
Desperate for something more
Years later, Werner met his wife, Michelle, a beautiful godly woman. She had come to faith after many years of rebellion, triggered by unresolved childhood issues. Eventually the day came when she was no longer interested in meaningless parties and relationships. She cried out to God, desperate for a change in her lifestyle. “I longed for something more. There was a void in my life and I decided to give Jesus a chance.”
Michelle retells her memory of the night she got saved: “I believe my mother played a pivotal role in my salvation. She prayed for me and loved me unconditionally in the midst of my rebellious behaviour. She never gave up on me.”
Hearing the Lord’s voice
Werner and Michelle have now been married for eight years. They felt the urgency to start a church in Cape Town after God spoke to them through supernatural confirmations, dreams and visions. In March 2011, with the help of the Lord and a great team of co-workers, The Love Church was launched and their incredible journey started.
Werner shares how they decided on the name: “The instruction from Scripture was to build a house for God and therefore God’s name had to be placed on the house. I searched the Bible. The Old Testament there are many covenant names for God, yet in the New Testament in 1 John 4:8 the Word declares that “God is Love.” Therefore the name means ‘The Lord’s Church.”
Big dreams
Every task comes with its own set of challenges and Werner and Michelle experienced trials when they launched TLC. “My greatest challenge was that when we started the church, we had many who questioned the Word God gave us and even criticised us. We have learned that when you have God’s approval on a matter and a Word from Him, it is important to obey the Lord and not people.”
Werner goes on to share the Bible story of Joseph and how even when his brothers tried to kill him, (because they thought his dream was ridiculous) God saved him. “People can never kill the dream that God has for you. “
“The way I stay focused is to remind myself that Jesus saved my soul and that what I am doing is not for people but for Him. I must be driven by eternity and not just the temporary things.”

The vision to love
The vision of TLC is based on Matthew 22:36-40: “Love the Lord with all your heart…and love your neighbour as yourself.” The church therefore strives to take the love of God they have experienced and demonstrate it to every person they meet.  When one looks at TLC, you can definitely see the fruits of their labour.
Michelle’s conviction is that: “every person longs for the touch of God’s divine love, even those who don’t know or believe in Him. God sees that need and deeply loves each and every one, but He needs us (the Church) to be His hands, feet and voice to convey His love and concern. That is the role that we have adopted at The Love Church.”

A demonstration of His love
TLC currently run a feeding programme called ‘Demonstrate His Love’ based on Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Through this project they feed people inside the church as well as outside in the community.
Werner elaborates: “We have also adopted two orphanages in the Eersteriver area. As a congregation families have cared for children through paying their school fees, purchasing stationery, toiletries and clothing.
We have also embraced an Old Age Home in the Bellville area where we minister on a regular basis and help provide them with a few
essential items.

Caring for the destitute
Their work into the community doesn’t end there and if you visit a primary school in Parow, you are likely to find TLC members feeding the children. The teachers have testified as to how the feeding project has helped in improving the concentration of the students.
TLC is involved in regular outreaches, ministry at the local night-shelter, praying with those in hospital as well as being prepared to pray with people and share God’s love at any possible opportunity.

Remaining relevant
Werner and Michelle voice their passion for helping the community: “We believe that God has anointed the Church to bring answers and direction to communities in desperate need. We remain relevant in society by staying practical in demonstrating the love of Jesus so that the world cannot deny that God is real and alive.”
Their goal is to be able to give people a solution rather than just fixing the problem temporarily. We’ve all heard the saying: “Give a man a fish and you’ll feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and you’ll feed him for a lifetime.”
This genuine and lasting ministry into the community is selfless and evident of the Father’s unconditional love.
Standing together
Michelle shared with us some of the pressures of being a in ministry: “I’ve learnt to cope with people’s expectations by filtering it through the Word of God. In Genesis 2:18 God makes a helper for man. My aim is to do just that, to help and support my husband and together make an impact in our community, city and nation.
We have the same vision and our hearts desire is to see lives changed and to demonstrate the love of God at any cost.”
What next?
“Passive” is not a word used to describe Michelle and Werner. In them we see leaders that are active and compassionate. They have a heart to branch their church into different communities and  their impact will surely cultivate more followers of Jesus! 
The Love Church is based in Bellville, Cape Town and from the 10th of March, in Parow Valley.
By- Jenna-lea Kelland

Ghosts, Hauntings & the Supernatural

According to those who believe in ghosts, there are various kinds of hauntings:
1. Hauntings by human spirits, whose natures are a combination of good and bad (but not evil). Such spirits may simply want to get a person’s attention; others may be pranksters, but, in either case, they do not truly harm people
2. Interaction with non-human spirits or demons. These entities can masquerade as human spirits, but they are harmful and dangerous.

When reading about ghosts and hauntings from non-Biblical sources, remember that, just because an author may refer to the Bible or to Bible characters (such as Michael the archangel), it does not mean he approaches the subject from a Biblical perspective.
For example, how does an author know that demons masquerade as human spirits? Ultimately, those who address such subjects from non-Biblical sources must base their understanding on their own thoughts, the thoughts of others, or the experiences of the past.
However, based on their own admission that demons are deceiving and can imitate benevolent human spirits, experiences can be deceiving! If one is to have a right understanding on this subject, he must go to a source that has shown itself to be accurate 100% of the time – God’s Word, the Bible.

Does the Bible talk about ghosts / hauntings?
The answer to this question depends on what precisely is meant by the term ‘ghosts.’ If the term means ‘spirit beings,’ the answer is a qualified “yes.” If the term means ‘spirits of people who have died’, the answer is “no.” The Bible makes it abundantly clear that there are spirit beings, both good and evil. But the Bible negates the idea that the spirits of deceased humans can remain on earth and ‘haunt’ the living.

Heaven or hell?
The Bible never speaks of hauntings. Rather, it teaches that when a person dies, the spirit of that person goes to one of two places. If the person is a believer in Jesus Christ, his spirit is ushered into the presence of the Lord in Heaven (Phil 1:21-23; 2 Cor 5:8). Later, he will be reunited with his body at the Resurrection (1 Thess 4:13-18).
If the person is not a believer in Christ, his spirit is put in a place of torment called Hell (Luke 16:23-24). Hebrews 9:27 declares: “Man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgement.” That is what happens to a person’s soul-spirit after death: judgement.

Incidents of ‘hauntings’ in Bible
Whether a person is a believer or an unbeliever, there is no returning to our world to communicate or interact with people, even for the purpose of warning people to flee from the judgement to come (Luke 16:27-31). There are only two recorded incidents in which a dead person interacted with the living.
The first is when King Saul of Israel tried contacting the deceased prophet Samuel through a medium. God allowed Samuel to be disturbed long enough to pronounce judgement upon Saul for his repeated disobedience (1 Sam 28:6-19). The second incident is when Moses and Elijah interacted with Jesus when He was transfigured (Matt 17:1-8). There was nothing ‘ghostly’ about the appearance of Moses and Elijah, however.
Demon possession
Scripture speaks repeatedly of angels moving about unseen (Dan 10:1-21). Sometimes, these angels have interaction with living people. Evil spirits, or demons, can actually possess people, dwelling within them and controlling them (Mark 5:1-20). The four Gospels and the Book of Acts record several instances of demon possession and of good angels appearing to and aiding believers. Angels, both good and bad, can cause supernatural phenomena to occur. (Job 1–2; Rev 7:1; 8:5; 15:1;16).

What do demons know?
Scripture shows that demons know things of which people are unaware (Acts 16:16-18; Luke 4:41). Because these evil angels have been around a long time, they would naturally know things that those living limited life-spans would not. Because satan currently has access to God’s presence (Job 1–2), demons might also be able to question some things about the future, but this is speculation.

Do not be deceived
Satan is the father of lies and a deceiver (John 8:44; 2 Thess 2:9) and he disguises himself as an ‘angel of light.’ Those who follow him, human or otherwise, practice the same deceit (2 Cor 11:13-15).
Satan and demons have great power (compared to humans). Even Michael the archangel trusts only God’s power when dealing with satan (Jude 1:9). But satan’s power is nothing compared to God’s (Acts 19:11-12; Mark 5:1-20).
Demons only seek to “kill, steal, and destroy” (John 10:10). They will do anything within their power to deceive people, to lead people away from God. This is very likely the explanation of ‘ghostly’ activity today. Whether it is called a ghost, a ghoul, or a poltergeist, if there is genuine evil spiritual activity occurring, it is the work of demons.
God commands us to have nothing to do with the occult, devil worship, or the unclean spirit-world. This would include the use of mediums, séances, Ouija boards, horoscopes, tarot cards, channelling, etc. God considers these practices an abomination (Deut 18:9-12; Isa 8:19-20; Gal 5:20; Rev 21:8), and those who involve themselves in such things invite disaster (Acts 19:13-16).

Only Jesus can cleanse you
The Ephesian believers set an example in dealing with occult items (books, music, jewellery, games, etc.). They confessed their involvement with such as sin and burned the items publicly (Acts 19:17-19).Release from satan’s power is achieved through God’s salvation. Salvation comes through believing in the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Acts 19:18; 26:16-18). Attempts to disentangle oneself from demonic involvement without salvation are futile.
Jesus warned of a heart devoid of the Holy Spirit’s presence: such a heart is merely an empty dwelling place ready for even worse demons to inhabit (Luke 11:24-26). But when a person comes to Christ for the forgiveness of sin, the Holy Spirit comes to abide until the day of redemption (Eph 4:30).

What about instances in which ghosts act in positive ways? What about psychics who claim to summon the deceased and gain true and useful information from them? Again, it is crucial to remember that the intent of demon is to deceive.
If the result is that people trust in a psychic instead of God, a demon will be more than willing to reveal true information. Even good and true information, if from a source with evil motives, can be used to mislead and destroy.

Some paranormal activity can be attributed to the work of charlatans. It would seem best to understand other reports of ghosts and hauntings as the work of demons. Sometimes these demons may make no attempt to conceal their nature, and at other times they may use deception, appearing as disembodied human spirits. Such deception leads to more lies and confusion.

What about psychics?
The Bible strongly condemns mediums, the occult, and psychics (Lev 20:27; Deut 18:10-13). Horoscopes, tarot cards, astrology, fortune tellers, palm readings, and séances fall into this category as well. These practices are based on the concept that there are gods, spirits, or deceased loved ones that can give advice and guidance. These gods or spirits are demons (2 Cor 11:14-15).
The Bible gives us no reason to believe that deceased loved ones can contact us. So, if our loved ones cannot contact us, how do mediums, spiritists, and psychics get such accurate information? There have been many exposures of psychics as frauds. It has been proven that psychics can gain immense amounts of information on someone through ordinary means.
Sometimes by just using a telephone number through caller ID and an internet search, a psychic can get names, addresses, dates of birth, dates of marriage, family members, etc. However, it is undeniable that psychics sometimes know things that should be impossible for them to know. Where do they get this information?
The answer is from satan and his demons. Acts 16:16-18 describes a fortune teller who was able to predict the future until the Apostle Paul rebuked a demon out of her.
Pray for wisdom
Satan pretends to be kind and helpful. He tries to appear as something good. Satan and his demons will give psychic information about a person in order to get that person hooked into spiritism, something that God forbids. It appears innocent at first, but soon people can find themselves addicted to psychics and unwittingly allow satan to control and destroy their lives.
Peter proclaimed: “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” 1 Pet 5:8. In some cases, the psychics themselves are deceived, not knowing the true source of the information they receive. Whatever the case and wherever the source of the information, nothing connected to spiritism, witchcraft, or astrology is a godly means of discovering information.
How does God want us to discern His will for our life? God’s plan is simple, yet powerful: study the Bible (2 Tim 3:16-17) and pray for wisdom (James 1:5).

What about Palm-reading?
Palm-reading, also known as ‘palmistry’ or ‘chiromancy,’ has its roots in Greek mythology. Chiromancy, from the Greek kheiro, meaning ‘hand,’ and mantia, meaning ‘divination,’ essentially means “divination from the palm of the hand.”  Practitioners believe they can interpret one’s character, fortunes and possible future events by reading the lines, marks and bumps on the palm of a person’s hand.
Although ‘palm-reading’ is not mentioned in the Bible, divination is, and it was specifically forbidden by the Mosaic Law (Lev 19:26). Moses warned his people before entering the Promised Land against divination and other practices: “Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord.” Deut 18: 10-12.
The Israelites were also forbidden to look for help from those engaging in divination: “I will set My face against the person who turns to mediums and spiritists to prostitute himself by following them, and I will cut him off from his people.” Lev 20:6.
Place your future in God’s Hands
Divination was also condemned by the prophets (Isa 44:25; Jer 27:9; 29:8; Eze 13:9). Such occult practices were very common among the pagan nations of the ancient world. And it was, in part, because of these detestable practices that God threw out the people of Canaan and replaced them with the Israelites (Deut 18:12, 14).
Christians can be confident in the knowledge that our sovereign God is in control of our unseen future. The answers we seek are not in our hands but in God’s. Anyone who is anxious about the future need only hear the words of our Lord: “Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear…for the pagans run after all these things, and your Heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow…” Matt 6:25, 32-34.

What are spirit-guides?
If you do an internet search for ‘spirit-guides,’ you get a variety of responses:
“Spirit-guides are incorporeal beings that are assigned to us before we are born that help nudge and guide us through life.”
“An ancestral guide is one who can claim some sort of kinship with you, such as your dear Aunt Tillie who died when you were ten.”
The general idea is that there exist benevolent spirits who desire to help people, or guide them through life. Belief in spirit-guides is commonly associated with New Age, pagan, and spiritualistic belief systems. Automatic writing, dream states, trances and meditation are all practices related to spirit-guides.
Also terms such as ‘magic circles,’ centring, iridology, crystals, self-actualisation, and positive affirmation are often associated with spirit-guides. The goal of contacting a spirit-guide is usually to discover some secret wisdom and rise to a higher level of consciousness.

Despite the claims of New Age practitioners, spirit-guides are anything but benevolent. They are not the spirits of dear, departed loved ones, nor are they ascended masters who have crossed over some mystical plane. They are what the Bible calls “familiar spirits” (Lev 20:27). They don’t announce their evil nature but portray themselves as beneficial. Spirit-guides are actually demonic spirits who masquerade as helpers in order to trap and destroy people with false teachings and occult practices.
According to spirit-guides, man’s purpose is to be transformed through spiritual awareness, realise his inner divinity, and connect with the cosmos. According to the Bible, man’s purpose is to glorify God and be conformed to His image. Spiritualism teaches that man is inherently good, with unlimited potential for power and advancement.
The Bible says that man is inherently sinful, and no-one is truly good. Spirit-guides assert that truth is relative and there are many paths to God. The Bible declares that God is truth, and Jesus Christ is the only way to a right relationship with Him. Spirit-guides represent a worldview that is diametrically opposed to what the Bible says.

Freedom at last!
In the Bible, God warned His people repeatedly about the dangers of dabbling in the spirit-world. Leviticus 19:31 says: “Give no regard to mediums and familiar spirits; do not seek after them, to be defiled by them.” In 1 Chronicles 10:13 we read that King Saul died because he “asked counsel of one that had a familiar spirit, to enquire of it; and enquired not of the Lord.” We are told in 1 John 4:1: “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.”
How do you escape these spiritual enemies? By resisting them through faith in God (James 4:7). God is greater than any spirit (1 John 4:4), and He alone is able to deliver from their power. Jesus exercised authority over unclean spirits, commanding them to come out of people (Matt 17:18; Mark 5:8-9), and they had to obey.
Paul wrote in Ephesians 6:10-18 that we must put on God’s armour and use His strength to battle our spiritual enemies. This can only be done by someone who has received God’s salvation through Jesus Christ. Confession and repentance is the starting point (1 John 1:9).

Should a Christian consult horoscopes?
The purpose of a horoscope is to gain insight into a person’s character and foretell the future. The basic belief of astrology is that planets and stars exert an influence upon our lives. Those with special know-ledge (astrologers) can predict events in a person’s life. It is disturbing that most major newspapers have a horoscope column, and even more distressing that many Christians read their horoscopes.
The Bible expressly forbids divination, sorcery, and hidden arts (Deut 18:10-14). God’s people are to heed God only (Deut 18:15). Any other source of guidance, information, or revelation is to be rejected outright. (Acts 16:16-18.) The Bible points to Jesus Christ as the only proper focus of faith (Acts 4:12; Heb 12:2). Our trust is in God alone, and we know that He will direct our paths (Prov 3:5-6). Faith in anything besides God is misplaced.

Communicate with God
Astrology, then, opposes Biblical teaching in at least two ways: it advocates faith in something other than God, and it is a form of divination. We cannot determine God’s will for our lives through horoscopes. As Christians, we are to read the Bible and pray to God in order to gain guidance. Consulting a horoscope is a violation of God’s means of communicating with  us.

What does the Bible say about energy-healing?
In a world where people are constantly grasping for deeper meaning, deeper spirituality, and a higher purpose, energy-healing is one more New Age philosophy which presents itself as very desirable to human beings. Born with sin, we all come into the world with the strong belief that we are the centre of the universe; that we are in control of our health, our bodies, our lives, our circumstances, and our destinies. Those who have not turned to God for truth have no choice but to search for it within themselves.
The practice of energy-healing is not in itself a religion, but it is a pathway to one’s own spirituality. It leads us on a personal journey that encourages us to focus on ourselves and how our energy is in synch with the energies of the cosmos, the earth, and all other life. Through this, one can supposedly be taught to heal ourselves by using clairvoyance to ‘visualise’ where the negative energy is in order
to determine the cause of the problem.

What about reiki?
Reiki, a widely used energy-healing technique, was said to have been developed by a Buddhist monk who used cosmic symbols for healing. Reiki claims to work by removing obstructions to the flow of life and force energy throughout the body.
These obstructions are allegedly caused by negative thoughts, actions or feelings, which some believe are the fundamental cause of illness. The use of energy-healing encourages us to put our full trust in ourselves and our own bodies, which is a form of worship. For most who participate in energy-healing, no recognition is given to the one true God, nor does He receive any praise for healing. The person using these methods of healing has made himself into his own god. Getting involved in energy-healing is spiritually dangerous.

Only Jesus brings healing
The Bible tells us that Jesus is the One who came to heal. “Then Jesus said: ‘Come to Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest’” Matt 11:28. God does not want or expect us to help ourselves. He is the source of life, of all that is good and true. Those who refuse to acknowledge Jesus will never come to a place of spiritual healing.
“For these peoples hearts have become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them” Matt 13:15. 
By: Got Questions
Got questions seeks to glorify God by providing Biblical answers to spiritually related questions.
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Vincent van Gogh: His Unappreciated Journey with Christ

A record 1.2 million visitors came to the giant retrospective of van Gogh’s work in Amsterdam in 1990, which coincided with the 100th anniversary of the Dutch post-Impressionist’s death. What visitors did not see at that major exhibition were van Gogh’s Christian-themed paintings, which were left in the basement of the museum.
“None of the religious imagery was in the show. It was deliberately kept in the basement,” says Dr William Havlicek, author of ‘van Gogh’s Untold Journey’. “In Western art there has been a move toward secularisation through existential thinking,” he notes, which followed the disillusionment of many artists after two world wars.

A Christian heritage
Havlicek spent fifteen years researching and studying more than 900 of van Gogh’s letters. His revealing book dispels many of the myths that surround the painter’s tumultuous life. “Vincent’s letters portray a very different story than the popular tale of the mad artist who cuts off his ear,” Havlicek notes.
“What emerges instead is a story of selfless loyalty, the epitome of the Gospel’s sacred counsel: “love one another.” Many of Vincent’s religious letters were held back and only released in the last five or six years.”
Vincent’s father and grandfather were pastors and it seems many in the van Gogh family gravitated toward religion or art. His father Theodorus, a Dutch Reformed minister, was not known as a compelling preacher, but a ‘welfare pastor’ who distributed food and clothing to the poor.
As Vincent’s zeal for Christ grew in his early twenties, he wanted to study theology, but failed his entrance exam for seminary. Instead, he went off to serve as a missionary to coal miners in the Borinage district of Belgium.
He found miners who were sick and starving, living a bleak existence, without adequate food, water or warm clothing. A mining explosion had left many in a horrible condition. Fighting for survival, they apparently had little interest in his evangelistic appeals.

Hurt by the church…
In response to their plight, Vincent gave away everything he owned, including most of his clothing. To tend to their medical needs, he ripped up his own bed sheets for bandages, and slept on straw on the ground. “By such actions he won the admiration and respect of the workers, and was able to convert some of them,” Havlicek notes.
“Vincent was a very generous man. He understood that the unconditional love of God extended to unconditional love for others. He would never recognise love that was not an action.” Van Gogh was also inspired by the writings of Charles Dickens in his compassionate response to human suffering.
Sadly, a church committee overseeing Vincent thought he suffered from excessive zeal and fired him because he did not dress or preach eloquently. “It did not seem to matter to them that he literally poured out his life in sacrifice and service on behalf of the diseased and destitute,” Havlicek laments.
Vincent went home to his parents, but the physical and emotional ordeal of caring for the miners and the rejection by the church hierarchy had taken its toll. He appeared to suffer a nervous breakdown, which caused his father to make his first quiet enquiries about committing Vincent to an asylum.

Serving God with his art
At the same time, the drawings Vincent had made of miners and others captured his brother Theo’s interest. He persuaded Vincent to begin formal art studies at the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts in Brussels. Van Gogh wanted to continue to serve God with his art, stating: “…to try to understand the real significance of what the great artists, the serious masters, tell us in their masterpieces, that leads to God. One man wrote or told it in a book, another in a picture.”
In 1881, he fell in love and proposed marriage to a woman who was seven years older. She turned him down, but his advances persisted in a clumsy manner. Exasperated, the woman and her parents forcibly rejected Vincent, partly due to the struggling artist’s inability to support himself.
During the time Vincent lived with his family, Vincent and his father got into heated arguments. After one particular violent exchange on Christmas day when Vincent refused to go to church, Vincent left to live on his own in The Hague.

A compassion for others
The following year Vincent attempted to rescue a prostitute, Sien Hoornik. He wrote of his unusual relationship with Hoornik in his letters: “I met a pregnant woman, deserted by the man whose child she carried. A pregnant woman who had to walk the streets in winter, had to earn her bread, you understand how, I took this woman for a model and have worked with her all winter. I could not pay her the full wages of a model, but that did not prevent my paying her rent, and, thank God, so far I have been able to protect her and her child from hunger and cold by sharing my own bread with her.”
As one might imagine, his family was shocked he had taken in a prostitute and pressured him to alter his living arrangement. His parents continued to explore the idea of committing Vincent to an asylum due to his errant behaviour.
Family tragedy
Vincent’s father died of a stroke in 1885 and Vincent’s sisters blamed him for ‘murdering’ his father, due to the emotional fallout from their intense discussions and unresolved conflict.
After his father’s death, Vincent went into a tailspin. “Vincent embarked on a three-year drinking binge in Paris,” Havlicek notes. “This was the most destructive period of his life. Even so, he continued to produce some remarkable work inspired by the Impressionists who exhibited in the great city.”
He experimented with absinthe, which was a highly popular drink in some circles made from unstable wormwood alcohol. The unpredictable side effects for many users included nerve damage, blindness, and insanity. Absinthe may have triggered the epileptic seizures that began to plague Vincent during this period.

Alcohol abuse and seizures
“After drinking a large quantity of absinthe, Vincent slashed off a portion of his ear,” Havlicek recounts.
Most art critics and historians believe Vincent lost his faith sometime between 1882 and 1885. Yet Havlicek found abundant evidence in Vincent’s letters and his art that an abiding faith remained, even as his health and behaviour deteriorated. Surprisingly, most of the Christian-themed paintings appeared in the last three years of his life.
For the sake of self-preservation, Vincent moved to Arles in Southern France, where he had an unusual meeting one day in a café he frequented. A local peasant walked in who bore a striking resemblance to his deceased father. This chance meeting led to some of the most emotionally wrought portraits in the history of art – a father’s posthumous portrait painted vicariously using the face of another. Vincent painted the man’s hands clasped as if in prayer, holding a shepherd’s staff. “He surrounded his father in a gold light, which is always a symbol of the divine,” Havlicek notes. “It’s a sacred work; Vincent loved sacred references.”

Paintings of the divine…
Havlicek made the significant discovery that a saintly bishop’s ruminations on the cosmos in Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables inspired one of Vincent’s most famous works, The Starry Night. Havlicek notes  that “the theme of Les Miserables is redemption,” Havlicek observes. In van Gogh’s painting, “the stars are painted like flowers. There is an interaction between the earth and Heaven. It is as if Heaven is reaching down. Starlight implies in Vincent’s view that the darkness of sin, guilt, and death are overcome by divinely mediated grace.”

A tragic end
Van Gogh died under unusual circumstances in what most label a suicide, but Havlicek has some doubts. “No gun was ever found,” he says, and there were no powder burns near the fatal wound to his abdomen.”
Two boys admitted they were target shooting near van Gogh and had an encounter with him that appears suspicious. One wrote a confessional letter years later saying they were harassing van Gogh. He didn’t admit he shot him, but he said there were things he did to van Gogh he wish he’d never done.”
Vincent lingered for two days after the fatal shot. When he was interviewed by police, Vincent said, “I’m hurt, but don’t blame anybody else.”
Havlicek believes that if he was shot accidentally by the boys, it was consistent with Vincent’s character to withhold that information. “He had a very sacrificial aspect to his personality. There were several times in his life when he took the blame for someone else,” he says.
“He loved Christ enormously at the end of his life,” Havlicek maintains. “He said Christ alone  offered men eternal life. In spite of a broken life, something glorious emerged. Van Gogh surely suffered much as a result of his misunderstanding of God’s grace.
Vincent was tormented by a form of legalism that meant he tried to win God’s approval. When he failed to convince himself that he had succeeded (of course no one can do this) he felt rejected. When at the end of his life he could do nothing to save himself, he likely experienced God’s unmerited grace for the very first time.”
By: Mark Ellis is a senior correspondent for ASSIST News Service. For more info: