This last weekend was quite an interesting one for me and my wife. I thought I share it with you guys for fun… To start off, my wife had been watching TV earlier in the week and there was an advertisement for a local “Holistic Living Expo” at the convention center in town… She saw the pretty hand-made jewelry and natural soaps and other pretty things in the ad and wanted to go… So, we went. I knew, before arriving, that this would not just be a “pretty things” expo, but rather (what I call) a juju-fest. In other words, this is where all the new age knuckleheads pop out from under their rocks. Well, I was up for a little dose of crazy so we went. On the way in to the conference hall, I put my arm around my wife and just asked the Lord to keep His hand on us and protect us from anything the devil might intend for our deception or destructive influence. Though it’s rare that I ever even get near one of these kinds of events, I always seem to get a splitting headache from it. This day was no different. In case anyone is wondering, no, I didn’t go to a Sozo session or a certified TheoPhostic counselor to get relief (although they probably had their own table here too – hehe). It cleared up as soon as we got clear of the building. (ha!) Must have been a natural result of no longer inhaling the second hand marijuana smoke.
I can already imagine that I’m making some of my friends who are really into deliverance ministry cringe at the thought that we walked into a new age circus and, let me tell you, indeed it was a bit of a circus. The expo itself wasn’t very large, but they had plenty of “juju” to go around. In fact, truth be told, the guy we bought our ticket from at the door, told us to hurry up and get in there so we could get all “jujued” up. No kidding!
They had a few “green” cars positioned around the auditorium. By “green” I mean “full electric vehicles”. Save the planet, buy a car! Okie dokie… Sorry, I don’t have $40,000 right now to blow on a green machine. My trusty $700 heap needs an oil change first.
One of the first booths we saw had some Chakra healing guru who was selling his services for $30 bucks a session. There was a middle-aged woman laying on a massage table and he was waving his arms over her like a magician. (cue Twilight Zone music)… I thought about sneaking up behind him to flick his ear, but didn’t want him to get spooked and accidentally slap his patient… Although, his patient probably needed a good slap.
The next table had some lady named Reverend Marian Jujubee or something like that (ok… I made up the name Jujubee… You’ll find I use the word “juju” quite a lot when talking about this stuff – haha). She was nicknamed “The Prayer Lady”. She could pray for you, give you a life reading and help you tap into the revelations of your angels….. for $30 bucks. I laughed and said, “Hey, I’ll pray for anyone here for free!”
The next booth had this lady all dressed in frilly clothes of bright pink and yellow with pink ribbons in her blonde hair (while wearing granny glasses). She had this big silly grin on her face and was telling some other lady a story about how the faeries revealed their glorious presence to her and bla bla bla… She was selling little crystal necklaces and pendants she made…. They were basically shiny rocks tied together with wire. My wife noticed that the cheapest item started at $48 bucks. Everywhere we looked it seemed like everything was about $30 bucks or more.
Of course there was also a large selection of hippie tie-dye dresses, blouses and scarves. There were new age books everywhere with pentagrams and dragons and a couple tables even had (ahem) “Christian” items; little prayer books with Scriptures on them and crosses made out of crystals… and faeries and angels… Ok, maybe “Christian” is not the right term, but it was certainly one of the flavors of new age heartily present here. There was a little bit of deception for everyone, depending on your individual taste.
All of these people were so serious about all of this too. Table after table had various spiritual healers who offered to pray for people, read their palms, tell them about past lives, examine the tarot cards for guidance, or connect them with ancient spirits, etc… and, of course, for various fees (again, usually not less than $30 bucks a pop). As we walked down one isle the lady sitting at the hypnosis table happily greeted me and started the conversation as though it was obvious we had met before. She said, “Oh hello, how is the store going? You know, I just really appreciated all those wonderful books on crystals and things you had down there.” Now, my wife is used to people recognizing me around town because I know a lot of real estate agents in my profession, but I’m sure she wondered if this lady was talking about some new “ministry” aspect of TruthForFree that I hadn’t told her about yet (hahaha – I’m teasing). I politely told the lady that I’m sorry but she must have me mixed up with a familiar face. She didn’t seem to mind and continued to tell me about all the wonderful new age books that I sold at my store downtown. We just smiled and continued walking. A lot of these folks seriously were in an obvious spiritual fog. It really was like they were being manipulated by an other-worldly force. Obviously I think we can conclude that’s exactly what was happening.
Perhaps needless to say, we left empty handed (no juju jewelry – and just try to say that three times fast). I will say that I’m glad for the experience though. It was certainly interesting to become re-acquainted with a very significant part of the population that takes this stuff very seriously. All of these people were extremely serious about their “spirituality”, but all of them were so evidently caught up in this ridiculous mist of deception. I saw many people who were on the receiving end of these prayer gurus and palm readers, all promising them answers for a buck. Despite their error in choosing such losers to give them spiritual advice, my heart couldn’t help but feel compassion and I saw the hunger in their eyes for something more; real answers (answers that they certainly weren’t going to get here – although the devil will deceive many of them to believe they did). I was vividly reminded of the great need for Christ that is all around us. I was talking with my wife about this after we left. So many people seeking what they call “truth”, yet rejecting every ounce of it. I thought again about how wonderful and simple the Gospel of Jesus is; how free and liberating it is… and how so many people still refuse it for these worthless and deceptive (not to mention totally insane) counterfeits that occasionally mystify the mind and tingle the senses but place the soul in heavy bondage, cloud the mind with confusion, and rob them of true joy, freedom and truth. With most things in life, simple is usually preferred, but it seems so many people are not content to embrace such a simple Gospel… and it is that simple Gospel that is the only thing that will really bring true freedom, inner peace and spiritual healing.
I hate to say it, but even though this was a blatant smorgasbord of Occultism, what I viewed was not all that different from some of the haze that clouds the minds of many of the religious among us. So many Christians gum up their lives with another brand of hyper-religious “juju” in the form of various kinds of church services, conferences, the latest popular pastor author, deliverance ministry programs, prosperity gospels, phony prophetic leaders, televangelists, and the like. So many of them are seeking signs (just like those lost in these new age fascinations), but seem oblivious, ignorant and uninterested in the truth right in front of them. They opt for spooky-spiritual alternatives to simple truth and flock toward whatever religious activity presents the most excitement and emotional stimulation or anything that is touted as “deeper revelation”. These same people shake their heads at the new agers out there, but don’t even recognize their own deception and their utter need for Christ to set them truly free.
I guess I don’t have anything very profound to say about all this except that my heart was touched with compassion and my eyes were open to a number of the things the Lord was bringing to my attention. I know it offends some people to hear me compare a new age philosophy and activity to religion, but I’m sorry, there are some sad similarities. Earlier I talked about getting a headache whenever I’m around this kind of junk… I get headaches around the Christian junk too. In fact, just before I left church world (almost 10 years ago now), I would often leave services early, feeling physically ill. I don’t want to sound weird about anything, but it was a spiritual reaction. I used to leave service early and while driving home in my car, the tears would be running down my face and I’d be praying asking the Lord, “What’s wrong with me God? Why am I reacting like this? Why can’t I even just sit and enjoy a service anymore?” All at once, my eyes were opening to all kinds of things I never recognized before and everything in church seemed so plastic/artificial. I began to notice all the discrepancies with the doctrine being taught, the twisted forms of religious manipulation in play, and the way everyone just blindly played along. It really did make me ill and my physical reaction seemed to match my spiritual reaction (that’s the only way I can describe it).
When a person truly becomes free of religion, they begin to understand what I’m talking about and soon wonder why they ever thought it was better to be so burdened with all that old nonsense for so long. May God bring more people to freedom and may He continue to change my heart and make me an instrument for His truth. I love being free in Jesus! I so desire that others be free as well.
Now, if that little story wasn’t enough bizarrity for one weekend, there’s a little more… The next day was Sunday and my wife and I were invited to the Mormon church by our landlords, one of which was going to be singing a solo and she wanted us to come and hear her sing. We had been invited before, but this time we decided to go. Our landlords have been such great neighbors and we really like them, so we showed some love and went to cheer her on. She was very nervous about singing so I graciously offered to stand in the back and do the motions to the Y.M.C.A. song to help… For some reason, she didn’t think that would help.
I had never been to a Mormon service, though I have studied what they believe quite a bit over the years and my old roommate and I used to invite the missionaries in when they’d stop by the house just so we could sharpen our skills and argue doctrine… Plus, it was just fun. Everyone else slams the door on these guys -especially church folks- and we were always told by church leaders not to welcome a Mormon in your home lest we invite a curse… Bah! We did it anyway because that’s what Jesus does. We’d have them come in, order pizza, and enjoy the conversation. We had some really interesting discussions at times, and I think the Lord used us in those encounters. On one occasion, the guy confessed that he did not expect to be treated the way we Christians treated him and it opened his heart to examining things further. Despite their doctrine, there is nothing freaky about Mormons; They are folks just like the rest of us… and just like a lot of non-Mormon church folks, they’ve gotten mixed up in a mess of religion that has tainted how they understand God. One thing I love about being free from religion is that being non-affiliated enables me to share my testimony about my relationship with Christ without getting into arguments about the right church or the right denomination. The Mormons don’t have to convert me from Christian churchianity because I already left it and the reasons why I left it can prove to be just as legitimate for them to consider. The bottom line is, I don’t care what religion we’re talking about, they all muck up the waters and cloud our sight concerning who the Lord really is and how amazing His grace and truth is. Mormons don’t have to worry that I’m going to talk them into going to my church and they don’t have to try and talk me out of leaving mine. That pretty much levels the playing field because suddenly “church doctrine” is no longer at the center of the conversation, while the reality of a living God just entered the room. This is where so many Christian evangelism tactics miss the mark; They treat God like an argument that others need to be convinced of, rather than operating from the very real awareness that HE IS REAL and that HE IS FULLY PRESENT WITH US! Also, when we accept the fact that God is sovereign and chooses those in whom He will implant faith and that He is fully able to draw them to Himself in His own way and His own timing, it takes the pressure off me to run some kind of evangelistic performance, other than to simply be available to Him. I can then genuinely enjoy the company of another person and love them as Christ does, knowing that it is not any power I have that draws them to Jesus, but it is Jesus Himself. And therefore, if Christ in me is truly evident, then how can that reality not affect the people around me in some way? At least it should right? What this means (from my perspective) is that it’s more important for me to engage my relationship with Jesus and be genuine about it, than to treat my faith as though it’s something I have to try and manipulate others to buy into.
Ok, that was a bit of a tangent… Getting back to my “Sunday go to Mormon meeting”… I knew that Mormon folks are very religious so we made sure we wore our Sunday best in an attempt not to stand out too much and not cause our friends any embarrassment. When we arrived, it was instantly apparent that, despite our noble efforts to not stand out, stand out we did. The first thing I noticed was that every man in the congregation wore a white dress shirt and tie. I was the only guy there in a colored dress shirt and without a tie. Furthermore, I was the only guy present with long hair, a pony tail and a beard, a midst a sea of short-haired and close-shaven faces. Yup, I stood out. Tammy did too, although I always think she pulls it off better than me anyway.
While we were standing in the hallway, waiting to go into the sanctuary (we had to wait because it was so full inside), we were standing among a lot of other people, which our friends began introducing us too. I said to the guys present there, “Wow, I feel a bit under-dressed… Here I am, no white shirt, no tie… oops.” They laughed politely and then the guy next to me said, “Well, at least you didn’t wear shorts and a tank top.” I didn’t let him know that the thought did cross my mind. 😉
We finally all headed into the sanctuary (I guess that’s what you call it). It looked pretty much like any other church. We found a seat and settled in for the show, which was already going on and apparently had been going on for some time. I guess the Mormons do this pretty much all day on Sunday. We were there for about an hour and a half and it continued after we left with more classes and meetings. We were invited to attend those too but politely said, “No thanks.”
Our friend sang her song, which was beautiful… and the words were also surprisingly good. It was about Jesus and the nails that pierced His hands. I could see that singing about this also evoked emotion in our friend. She appeared to be very moved by the thought of Jesus’ sacrifice.
Don’t worry folks, I’m not converting to Mormonism and I’m not endorsing what they believe in any way; However, I do believe that the folks I observed were very sincere, even if sincerely deceived. There was a very apparent hunger for a relationship with God, although I don’t see that it is actually realized by any of them. They use a lot of the right words, but fail when it comes to substance.
I continually heard those who got up to speak at the meeting talk about their desire to please God by attending church, paying their tithes and keeping the Commandments (geesh, they sound like a lot of church-going Christians I know). It was clear that their lives are completely tied up in this pattern. While they refer to “the atonement” and even God’s grace, what they actually demonstrate is a total lack of revelation concerning either – and this brought me a lot of sorrow. I watched these nice folks getting emotional about realizing how they need to keep church laws and follow their prophets, but seemingly unaware that when Jesus said, “It is FINISHED!” that’s what He meant. All things have been summed up in Him. He is the total and complete fulfillment!
Their understanding of God is that they measure up by way of service, sacrifice, obedience to church laws, tithing, attending church, etc. The Mormon women believe that God will be pleased with them only if they are good wives who obey their husbands and follow all the church’s expectations… and that’s just scratching the surface. The appeal of this religion seems to be its strong emphasis on family, morality and service (which, on the external, they appear to deliver on) – but they are lacking the very relationship with and revelation of Christ that they are actually doing all these things in hopes to find. It’s a very sorrowful thing to behold and my heart was breaking for them… just as it breaks for everyone who is blinded by religion of any form.
My heart felt as though Jesus was standing right there with His arms open wide, desiring to embrace them all, without concern for their church or their religious legalities, but they were completely blind to this revelation though it struck me they actually desire it very much. How evil religion can be; to put obstacles so great in the way of something so essential to the freedom, love and fulfillment they seek. I believe I was sensing this desire of heart in my friend as she sang her solo. I will be praying for both her and her husband even more now. They are such awesome people and I want them to know Jesus… really know Him!
I love how Paul said about Christ, that at one time we knew Him from merely a human point of view, but now we really know Him. I think this is true of how those that are yet slaves of a religious mindset still view Christ; They know Him only from an observing point of view. They don’t really know Him yet. Oh that the Gospel of Jesus would be truly revealed to every lost soul desiring to be made free and may God help all of us who have been set free, stop evaluating others from a mere human point of view. May we learn to see people through different eyes!
2 Corinthians 5:16-21 – So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know Him now! This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to Himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to Him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And He gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making His appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.
So, that’s about it… My wild weekend at the Holistic Living Expo and the Mormon Church. I’d love to hear some of your stories if you relate to any of what I’ve shared. And please, if you think about it, pray for my Mormon friends. Thanks all!
In His grip,