~The views and opinions expressed here are of the blog author and not necessarily of CCAPSG as a whole~

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Witch of En Dor - Part 1: By Pastor Baz

I'm very excited about this topic, mainly because the Paranormal Pastor - Rev Robin Swope is going to do the main blog on this subject in a couple of weeks time. I will be looking forward to that as much as our readers because I am a huge fan of Robin, not just as a colleague, but I'm probably a bit of a Robin groupie as well. He has had a huge impact on me in my ministry which has enabled me to discuss the paranormal now with thousands and thousands of people in every forum from school classrooms, large auditoriums of Christians all over Sydney and now to cyberspace through the great work Bryony has done with the blog. I consider myself to be a novice in the industry and feel incredibly blessed by the experience of other ministers like Pastor Swope, Rev Dr Gladwyn Turner and the team at Ellell Ministries at Menangle in South Western Sydney who I have relied on for help, who have relayed experiences and real life stories and practical advice from a ministry and theological perspective.
The story of the witch (or a more appropriate term could be medium) of En Dor is interesting because it forces us to look at a subject that is very uncomfortable in evangelical circles and that is the whole issue of ghosts and those who have contact with them. There is a prevailing view in western evangelical Christianity that all ghosts are demons impersonating those who have died to lead them away from God in some way. Dove tailing into that view is the prevailing opinion that people who can contact the dead have a 'familiar spirit' like the fortune telling slave girl in the book of  Acts 16:16.
One of the verses used starts in Deuteronomy 18:9 in which the newly freed from Egypts children of Israel are warned "Not to consult a medium or spiritist..." because these are the very people who will lead them away from God. In fact, it basically implies that the Israelites will recieve the land from these people because their practices are an abomination to God.
The question is - what were the practices being conducted and what or who were they consulting? Were they demons or the 'spirits of the restless dead' the 'unclean spirits' as described by Professor of New Testament Studies at Moore College, Peter Bolt in his book "Living with the Underworld" (Matthias Media).
So it is an interesting tale in the book of Samuel, Chapter 28 when King Saul, Israels first King in the Old Testament, goes to consult the Medium of En Dor, after his own statutes and laws had them cast out of the land. Due to his disobedience to God, the Lord will no longer speak to Saul in dreams and visions, or using the Urim device or by prophets. God basically stops talking. So Saul breaks his own laws by disguising himself and taking a posse to consult a medium.
What happens in this confrontation needs to be discussed in a way that that combines great biblical and historical understanding, and then brings the answers into our time and space. What does Sauls interaction with a medium and conversation with the dead imply about where the dead go and those who claim to be able to contact them? Does a world post the ressurection of Jesus Christ interpret this verse differently. Who are the 'restless dead'? How could they not go straight to heaven, hell, paradise or hades.
This is where the theological meets the practical reality of what people are encountering all over the world. Ghosts? Demons? or both?
I look forward to Robin's blog next month and we would love to hear your comments:)
God bless you - Pastor Baz.

Sunday, April 17, 2011


You would have heard (or possibly experienced) the list of common phobias. Hardly anyone is thrilled about being stuck in an elevator, being in close proximity to a spider or standing on the edge of a cliff. But most of those are generally avoidable.
But it's the thing other than taxes that we can't avoid that has driven people to do all sorts of strange things to avoid it.
It's "Thanatophobia" - the fear of death.

Be totally honest with yourself - would you be lying if you said you had NO fear of death whatsoever?
 Death is a bit of a complex word. About.com explains that there would be many various reasons for fear of death. Fear of losing a loved one, fear of the unknown, religious reasons (eg I might not be religious enough to go to heaven), fear of pain and suffering, fear of a loss of dignity or control.
Is part of the reason we (both individually and in community) are so interested in the existence of ghosts and paranormal because we need to know what happens to us once we pass away?
There's got to be something else right? Surely our existence on this earth isn't just OVER when we die?
Do we descend into Hades? Do we ascend to 'Heaven'. Do you disappear into nothing? Do we become part of the force like Yoda, Obi Wan and Anakin when they carked it?
What are we scared of facing?
What creatures lurk there? Will it be like in the movie "Ghost" starring Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore, where good people met a ray of light and orbs of angelic love and bad people encounter poorly illustrated CGI hooded demons who grumble and groan as they drag you into the underworld. Will it be like Pastor Baz's friends dying mother, who when he visited her in hospital said "When I get out of here I'm going to Church, because I've seen those other things waiting for me in my room and I'm not going with them".
In Peter Bolts book "Living with the underworld" he talks about the "spiritual underworld and shows how Jesus came to reveal its true nature, neutralise its power, and liberate us to live without fear."
In the book he shows us the verses in the bible that reference the underworld and why we should not fear death.  Why and how Jesus has defeated death and the evil that lurks there. He points out the verse in Hebrews 2:14-15 "14 Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death."
As a Christian, I have a firm belief in the power of the blood of Jesus Christ and it's neutralising affect on fear, death and the power of the underworld that has gripped humans for millennia. This week remembers, reflects and in some cases re-enacts a huge event that tore a hole in and then embroided a new patch on the fabric of the universe and has affected it ever since.
As you know, Its nearing easter and although we are all about to hand out baskets of chocolate eggs and eat hot cross buns, the easter story has a huge impact in the universe that we miss in all our outrageous eating, drinking and being merry. That message is that Jesus was destined to die on a cross so that He could die for the sins of the world.  So that people would no longer have to sacrifice animals, or do other similar rituals for forgiveness of sins.  So, that we would no longer fear death, the devil and the things that lurk in the underworld would no longer have power.  Jesus was crucified and 3 days later he rose from the dead and was seen by His followers.  Whether you believe this or not there are historic records stating people did see this guy called Jesus after he'd been dead and buried. They touched him. Their hands did not pass through him as though he were a ghost. His flesh was not rotting away like a zombie Jesus. He was there. ALIVE and He had sacrificed His life for ours.  He had conquered DEATH and darkness. 
So yes, I'll admit I am scared of the process of dying, but I am not scared of what comes after because of God's amazing love and sacrifice for us ALL.  That is why its called "the good news" because that's what it is! Awesome huh?
Have a blessed Easter everyone.
Bryony and Baz

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Do animals have an afterlife?

Bryony's dog "Thea"
It's a question that a lot of people think about but rarely ask?

Do animals have an afterlife?

Many cultures revere animals, believe that we can become reincarnated as them or lift them up as gods.
What does the bible say on this subject?

Not a lot. But then again, an ancient middle eastern society didn't keep animals as pets in the same way we do, they either co-existed with them or used them as service providers, for food, hide or hair by products or as sacrificial offerings of atonement. It wasn't as up for disucssion or in the minds of the writers of the bible as it is for us today, in a country where our pets eat better than most families in Africa.

So how does God view animals?

The bible tells us in the stories of genesis of God creating animals and the first man naming them individually but not finding a suitable partner among them - hence the creation of the first woman!! After the animals were created, they were deemed 'good' just like the rest of creation.

It shows He saved them in the flood story, not just for food or burnt offerings but so they may live and multiply over the earth. Animals play a huge part in God's creation. Numerically a part far bigger and more expansive than ours.

God gave voice to a donkey so that it could rebuke the oracle Balaam, which saved him from being killed by an angel standing on the path. God uses animals in ways that we least expect. Ever hear the stories about animals sensing something and saving the life of a person from a house fire, accident, intruder or other animal? They truly have a 'sixth sense' whether that is purely practical (ie instinctive or functional) or partially 'spiritual' whether from God or part of their spiritual make up.

But what about when they die? Do animals go to heaven? Can their spirits roam the earth? What of stories like Black Shuck, the red eyed demon dog in the UK - is that the spirit of an animal?

It kind of depends on your theology of heaven. And according to most books by Fortean author Nick Redfern on the matter, Black Shuck is highly likely to be something other than the spirit of a mistreated hound - but that's for another blog and you can buy Mr Redferns books via Amazon (Three Men Seeking Monsters is the starter).

When we die, do we literally go to a place called heaven or hell, or is there a judgement day after which God makes a  literal new heaven and earth for those entering the kingdom? If it is the latter will there be animals in it like on earth? Will they be the same animals or will we get to ride dinosaurs and co-exist with creatures that we never got to see!!!

Check out this verse from Old Testament book of  Isaiah in chapter 11 as it speaks of the kingdom of God coming through Jesus. After it discusses the coming of the Lord in the flesh, the coming of the Lord in His Holy spirit and His justice and righteousness coming to all the earth it mentions "The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. The cow and the bear will graze, their young ones will lie down together; and the the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play by the cobras hole, and the weaned child shall put his hand in the vipers den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.

It then goes on to talk about the bringing in of the gentiles (non-Jews) to the Kingdom and the destruction of those who oppose His people.

So if we were going to look at that verse, we firstly understand it as a restorative process, which subverts all we know about death and hostility in Gods Kingdom. The whole chapter is about Gods plan to 'fix the earth' from all the evil that exists in it.

But it begs the question to be asked - is it indicative that in the coming of the completeness of Gods work at the end of the age as we know it, that there are literally animals and humans interacting in a new Kingdom, a restored heaven and earth and universe in a new way.

Personally I hope so, because we have lots of pets and those pets teach us a lot about Gods love and care. We learn about birth, life, death and love.

We also go hunting from time to time and experience Gods provision as food through animals. We would never consider taking the life of an animal for purely sport purposes. I believe this is abhorrent to God, even though it is mentioned in the Old Testament as part of what Kings did, we are clearly told that the earth is under our stewardship and we are to be good, merciful and loving custodians and not to bring cruelty or injustice or greed to any part of that creation.

So will Kokoe the wonderdog be in heaven, a new earth or walk the earth like Black Shuck, terrorising the local postmen for all eternity.

I can't say for sure. But I know God is good and I know He made the animals in all their forms and functions. They belong to Him and He has asked us to care for them and the planet they live on.
But if you have any thoughts, idea's or animal 'ghost stories' we'd love you to post them so we can discuss the subject in community.
God bless you this week - Pastor Baz.

From Bryony: Pastor Baz has written all the points I would have made regarding this subject. The bible doesn't have a yes/no answer regarding pets but I think there will be animals in heaven (the new earth), and that on this current earth we are living in right now we are to be the caretakers of animals and the earth. In regards to animals in heaven, In the book of revelation there is talk of horses in heaven. I personally can't imagine heaven without animals.  They are an AMAZING part of God's creation. So, if there are animals in heaven, why would they not be the animals we treasure so much on earth?

In regards to the spirits of animals haunting the earth, I have heard many stories of people who feel or have seen the presence of their deceased pet. What about you? What do you think?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Bizarre In The News - Aussie Senators Yowie Encounter


Politician’s yowie encounter
BILL O’Chee can remember it like it was yesterday. It was the day the former Queensland National Party senator came face to face with a creature straight out of a nightmare.
A young O’Chee was with a group of 20 fellow TSS students returning from a two-day camp near Springbrook when they saw what they described as a 3m tall hair-covered creature.
To this day, Mr O’Chee is certain what he saw was the mythical yowie.
He told The Gold Coast Bulletin on November 17, 1977 that the animal approached the boys’ camp on several occasions, at one stage coming within 10m of their cabins.
“About 20 of us saw it,” he said then.
“It was about 3m tall, covered in hair, had a flat face and walked to the side in a crab-like style.
“It smashed small saplings and trees like matchsticks as it careered through the bush, we spotted it several times and once watched it through binoculars. It definitely was there.
“We first saw it just before we returned back to Southport on the afternoon of October 23.”
Contacted this week, Mr O’Chee was happy to confirm the story and said his memory of what he saw was as clear to him today as it was 27 years ago.
Read more here

Monday, April 4, 2011

Are U.S. government microwave mind-control tests causing TV presenters' brains to melt down?

Ahhhh Daily Mail, another quality conspiracy theory ;-)...

A bizarre spate of television presenters dissolving into on-air gibberish has sparked claims that the U.S. military could be to blame. 
In four high-profile cases, the latest involving fast-talking Judge Judy, the presenters have started off speaking properly but have then descended into undecipherable nonsense - looking confused and unstable.  
The frequency of the 'attacks' - and the fact that recorded examples of the mental meltdowns have been popular on websites - has led to conspiracy theorists pointing the finger at shadowy government experiments.

A popular theory being circulated online blames the U.S. Military’s supposed research into using microwaves as a mind control weapon. 
America has never admitted conducting such research but proponents say the effects - produced by microwave signals stimulating the brain with fake images and voices - exactly mimic those displayed in the recent on-air breakdowns. 
As to why the Pentagon might be targeting U.S. television presenters, the microwave theorists are less clear.
The phenomenon, which has provided internet video sites with some of the oddest footage for months, has now claimed one of America’s most highly paid broadcasters.

Judith Sheindlin, the fast-talking judge on Judge Judy, was taken to hospital on Wednesday after she began speaking a nonsensical string of words during a live recording of her courtroom TV show. 
Studio insiders said Sheindlin, who earns £28 million a year for a show that is the most watched programme on American daytime TV, was sitting on camera and 'started saying things that didn’t make any sense'. 
Sheindlin then announced she needed to stop as she didn’t feel well and asked a crew member to call an ambulance. 
The 68-year-old lawyer was released from hospital the following day but a spokesman said medical tests had not revealed what caused her garbled speech and double vision.

Read the rest: here

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Birth Of Urban Myths

Image from Layout Sparks

Last week Unity in the Paranormal Community (UPC) asked the question "What's your favourite urban myth/legend". People responded with things like "Bloody Mary", "Magic Hill", "The Ghost of the one black eye" etc.
But what about the origins of more tangible urban myths - how do they start?
Some of the one's I can think of that have been debunked that really had people reeling were "Siberian Miners drill into hell and record screaming" and the photo's of the skeletal remains of giant humans, claiming them to be the "Nephilim". Both did the rounds on email and both were absolutely debunked.
Pastor Robin Swope "The Paranormal Pastor" gives us a great example of how they begin in "The Terror of the Omega Men" (Just google Paranormal Pastor Omega Men). In this thrillingly written story a tale is woven about a sophisticated and supernatural cults activities and how the town around some WW2 tunnels lived in fear of what went on there. The ending of that story (and I'll let you read it, I am not going to ruin the surprise) teaches us that things are not always what they seem. Yet if the truth never came out, the legend would still exist and a false reality about the situation would be the staple of campfire, sleep overs and late night bushwalks.
I have experienced the reality of this either starting from scratch or the hushed tones of one that has lain under the surface for many years.
The first one was when I was having a coffee with a member of a local Rugby League Club.
"You know that house on the water near the bridge, the big white one you see as you come into the Shire" He said, his steely gazed drawing me in.
"That house has never sold at auction. It is in one of the best spots in this area and yet it has never sold. And do you know why"?
"I've done some work there concreting and it's a spooky place....."
Pause - this bloke is the biggest, burliest, ex Kings Cross bouncer I have ever seen. He doesn't get spooked easily.
Play - "...spooky place, when you work there you get the chills, like someone is watching you and all the tradesmen say the same thing...it's haunted"!!!!!!
"Why is it haunted"?
"I knew the guy who owned it when I was a kid. He was a doctor" (Now he's really straring me down) "And..... (almost whispering) it was an illegal abortion clinic, that dealt specifically with Catholic School girls who....y'know....had gotten themselves into trouble.. He would take them out in a boat in front of his house, perform the abortions and then throw the babies overboard into the bay....and the ghosts are those of the murdered babies who were stuck here on earth"
And there you have it - an urban myth right in your own area.
Another one that I am giving genesis too is this tale. This is a true story from the weekend just gone.
For many years I have noticed a large grove of tree's, a pine forest, that was an anomaly in the landscape of North Caringbah. I have always wondered what such an acerage of tree's is doing in the middle of an industrial area. I have to admit, I have never had a good look but would often drive past and wonder who owned the land, whether it was private or crown, how big it was. The tree's were very tall, a dark and wispy pine, planted too close together. Even on a summer day it looked dark, cold and mysterious. So after twenty years, I grabbed my two youngest kids and decided to find out what was going on. As we walked up Captain Cook Drive, trucks rumbling toward Kurnell, it seemed even more out of place that such a cluster of forest could exist untouched. My first effort was thwarted as I walked down an industrial estate only to be stopped by a huge wire fence topped with barbed wire.
This is strange indeed. If it is crown land, why wouldn't you be allowed in? I walked another 500 metres into the next industrial estate that framed it. Again, high wire fences topped with barbed wire, but now I could see directly into the forest. It was approximately five acres, heavily wooded, with tree's seventy feet high. It looked dark and forboding in it's middle, but through it I could see the most magnificent glass framed factory - what could this be? It seemed like a multi million dollar complex by it's sheer magnitude. 
I had to go in. But there was no entrance. I kept walking and right at the very end.........a tiny hole in the fence.....but big enough for me and the kids to squeak through. 
A man walking his dog startled me. We exchanged pleasantries and I asked him 'do you have any idea what that forest is and why it is fenced off'?
He answered 'Many years ago I worked in there as a forklift driver. It is one of the largest drug companies in the world'.
Ahhhh....I exclaimed, so this land belongs to (company name deleted). It hit me then of the magnitude of land that they owned - I never would have connected this area with the front of the company that was streets away from here.
'That's right' he said.
'And what of the forest' I asked what is the purpose of that - that land would be worth tens of millions of dollars - it doesn't make any sense in an industrial area.
'They say 30 years ago that strange experiments were conducted in that forest. I was fired not long after finding that out - maybe my forklift skills were not up to scratch, I was very young and it was my first real job'.
'Strange experiments'? I asked.
"Strange experiments were conducted in there many years ago, by the company - right there in the forest" he said as he watched my children lob pine cones over the barbed wire.
Crank or not, that was enough for me, I was through the hole and into the forest to see for myself..............
And that, dear readers, is how urban myths begin. What shall I find as I continue to explore my new forest and it's history of strange experiments? That is all my new friend would tell me.
But....we did find a feral kitten that was left for dead in a pond and brought it home and named it Tiger, so our experience was not fruitless.
What urban myths have you encountered in your local area? Perhaps you have accidentally started one? Maybe you are investigating one right now? Are they fact or fiction?
Christian culture is full of myths ranging from satanic cults to creation science hoaxes to "drilling into hell". A famous and popular Christian tract producer (God bless him), still stands by a lot of the proven hoaxes that he unwittingly and well intentionedly used in his tracts on satanism and the Catholic Church. That came from interviewing people who turned out to be cranks, but by then it was too late, their stories had been published as fact. We need to be diligent about what information we take in, and send out via email. I've spent too much time correcting propaganda that due diligence would have fixed in a couple of minutes. I think Jesus expects more from us than perpetuating myths even if we feel it supports our belief's.
God bless you this week - Pastor Baz.

Dreams: A purely mental/emotional experience or a real interaction with the supernatural?

From Free Extras

After my Dad died when I was fifteen, I started having the most vivid dreams about him.
In those dreams we were always conversing about why he had died, and he would always act like he either didn't know he had passed or tried to convince me that he hadn't died. He always took me into his granny flat and spoke to me there in the dream. I would ask him questions and he would answer in great detail, without admitting he was dead.
After I awoke I always wondered - was that me just going through a process of emotional catharsis or were we actually speaking in some other place outside time?
When I was seven, I had a dream that we were searching a haunted house for the creature that lurked within it. I looked under a chair. This cat like beast flung the chair over and with it's talon forced into my back holding me down said "If you come looking for me, I will do this too you every week of your life boy". I awoke, curled backwards feeling the talon still stuck in my back. It is as vivid now as it was thirty one years ago.
Some people never claim to remember their dreams. Others live there lives as if their dreams guided them. Sometimes they are seen as omens, other times as an emotional response to anxiety and fear.
My mother in law has dreams of disasters, which then seemingly come true within 24 hours. It is hard to write off easily when you dream of a plane crash and it happens as you dreamed the next day.
In the Bible, dreams are taken seriously. In the old testament the dreams of Pharaoah and Nebuchanezzar were interpreted correctly by Joseph and Daniel and they implicated the outcomes for the greatest nations on earth at the time. Daniel himself had dreams that were of future kingdoms and empires. In the new testament Joseph was informed in a dream to marry Mary and also to flee from King Herod. These are quite directive dreams, which give instruction on which way to go and what to do - these dreams were to achieve outcomes that God was directing or aware of. 
I know of Muslims who dream of Jesus. Of whole tribes in far away lands who informed the missionaries when they arrived that they had been dreaming about Jesus for many years. In one dream, Jesus appeared as a giant Manta Ray that covered the whole sky and then revealed itself to be the Lord Himself. He speaks to people in ways they understand. 
In many ways, dreams are a time of connecting to a deeper realm, either within ourselves or perhaps with beings that are supernatural. Often when a house is haunted or experiencing strange and fearful activity, people have horrific dreams and night terrors. When I slept in a room with the Churinga Stone of the Aboriginal People of Bowen Mt (prior to knowing what it was) I had awful dreams about Aboriginal witchdoctors and Doolagahls (Yowies)..
There are hundreds of books on this subject, including guides to lucid dreaming (where you interact within the dream of your own free will) so it's a subject of incredible interest and appeal to people.
I have noticed when I dream that when the dream is in "Blue Ray DVD quality" it tends to be directive, as if it is not emanating from my subconscious but is being put there. I qualify that by saying these dreams often have a narrative quality to them where I am being instructed in some way or given information. Other dreams, where you can't run, can't punch, are falling, can see people about to be attacked by something but can't do anything, are in public naked, are about to sit an old exam etc etc - these tend to be built more around periods of stress and anxiety and are more "VHS quality" and don't seem to be directive in any way.
Then there are the "ex girlfriend dreams, ex job dreams, old house dreams" where you seem to be resolving an issue from the past. Have you ever had a dream where you go "Why am I going out with my ex girlfriend when I am now happily married" or "Why am I at the old job I hated when I have a job I now love"? Can you relate to that!! You are recapitulating to a set of circumstances where you may have felt trapped or perhaps you were wronged or wronged someone, only to come out released at the end to your new life.
Or sometimes, like in the dream where the demon cat's talon was tangibly shoved in my back, perhaps the source is not God or emotions, but possibly an unclean spirit.
On the day of Pentecost in the book of Acts in the New Testament, the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples of Jesus. They spoke in strange tongues that were understood by people who were in Jerusalem from all over the known world. And in his address to the crowd, St Peter quotes directly from the book of Joel and he states in part "....Your young men will see visions and your old men will dream dreams..". Visions and dreams have been part of Judeo-Christian stories for millennia and in all religions and cultures.
Most houses have a bible in them, whether you are a Christian or not. I'd encourage you to grab it and start making notes on the dreams in it, or just google 'dreams in the bible' and look at how many times dreams were directive, corrective, intructive or otherwise in that record of human-divine interaction.
Get a journal and start to make notes on your own dreams. Which ones do you class as "Inspired" and which ones do you class as "reactive" to life, love and labour. Pray and ask God to speak to you through dreams or to bring peace to the dreams you are having that are disturbing. It's just another way God has given us to process our lives and sometimes, to hear from Him.
God bless you this week, Pastor Baz.