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"Now in our 23nd year of standing for truth!"

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Eric & Melanie Barger

End-of-the-Year Update

 
Melanie and I pray that you are experiencing the peace and joy that this special time of the year symbolizes!

It has been a very busy year, one that has provided many open doors of ministry and opportunities to reach the lost for Jesus Christ. Praise the Lord!

The seminar ministry continues to be the capstone of our work as I traveled across the entire continent this year several times over. Hundreds came to Christ and multiple thousands found answers, challenge and hope through thye meetings in churches, conferences and Christian schools.

Our website continues to record many thousands of visitors each month. From around the world people are seeking answers concerning spiritual warfare, the cults, the occult and apologetics. Below you'll find a few of the latest emails we've received on issues such as Christian Apathy, End-Time Deception and of course, Harry Potter.

Also in this year-end update you'll find a new article I've written entitled "The Price of Being a Witness." I believe it will challenge you as you reflect on exactly what the Bible means when God's Word speaks of being a "witness" for Him. I hope you'll take a few minutes and read this piece.

Where we are and where we need to be...

It would be wonderful for the ministry to finish the year completely debt free. However, to do this it will take some substancial giving by many of you who read our updates and appreciate our ministry for the Lord. Its no secret that each year during December and January we especially need your finiancial help. Will you pray about supporting our outreach? We're making a difference in a dark world! Your gifts are planted in good soil.

Please consider making a year-end gift to this time.  To donate with a check or by using PayPal or your debit or credit card please click here. Thanks so much!

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LULLED TO SLEEP

Attended your seminar at "The Gathering", Brandon FL (in October)

Thanks so much for sharing (ON THE OCCULT). I see where I have been lulled to sleep...NO LONGER. Look forward to searching your website and the Scriptures for more insight.

Susan

 

YET MORE ON POTTER

I came by your site via a post at Comparative-Religion.com in a discussion thread about Harry Potter. The link was to your response to Mallory here: (http://www.ericbarger.com/potter-christians.htm)

I'm familiar with your line of thinking, and thought I'd share a quote from our discussion.
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It is noble, but somewhat misguided to believe one can separate oneself and one's loved ones completely from influences that contradict or threaten one's own beliefs.

In my opinion, it is far wiser to teach how to sustain one's beliefs while interacting with the world. In Christian terms, "to be in the world, but not of the world."
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Wouldn't the logical extension of your argument lead one to exclude most of Disney's productions? Here's another quote from our discussion.
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Bedknobs and Broomsticks, is that not "magic?" How about Mary Poppins? Or Darby O'Gill and the little people? Or Escape from Witch Mountain (parts 1 and 2)? Or goodness me, Aladdin? (remember the fuss over the smoke? but not the "magic?") How about Mickey Mouse as the Sorceror's Apprentice in the original Fantasia? Disney is rife with pagan symbolism, back to Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Snow White and before. Disney made pagan "cool" in America.
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I'm not writing to stir things up with you, Mr. Barger. But I do wonder where you draw the line. Should I not eat at McDonalds because some they employ Islamic people? Refuse to read The New York Times because they once published ads for cigarettes?

Obviously there are things that Christians shouldn't participate in. But being in yet not of the world means engaging the world with confidence in God's work in one's life, as Jesus did.

Thanks for taking the time to read my comments. I look forward to hearing what you have to say in response.

peace,

Gregg

(ERIC RESPONDS...)

Gregg,

Thanks for writing.

Frankly, I have answered this same line of thinking so much I'm not sure I have a fresh answer in me. I'll try.

You said:
"It is noble, but somewhat misguided to believe one can separate oneself and one's loved ones completely from influences that contradict or threaten one's own beliefs.

In my opinion, it is far wiser to teach how to sustain one's beliefs while interacting with the world. In Christian terms, 'to be in the world, but not of the world.'


We're talking about rejecting entertainment that glorifies witchcraft. Is that so much to ask? No one is being forced into participating. Anything Potter is a pure volitional choice. I guess people have a rough time understanding how serious this is in God's sight. (See the Deuteronomy 18 passage and the Hebrew word studies in the Mallory piece http://www.ericbarger.com/potter-christians.htm)

You said:
"Wouldn't the logical extension of your argument lead one to exclude most of Disney's productions? Here's another quote from our discussion.
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Bedknobs and Broomsticks, is that not 'magic?' How about Mary Poppins? Or Darby O'Gill and the little people? Or Escape from Witch Mountain (parts 1 and 2)? Or goodness me, Aladdin? (remember the fuss over the smoke? but not the 'magic?') How about Mickey Mouse as the Sorceror's Apprentice in the original Fantasia? Disney is rife with pagan symbolism, back to Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Snow White and before. Disney made pagan 'cool' in America."
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Exactly. You have made my case for me. Just because a book, movie, TV show, cartoon, etc exists, does this mean that we have to participate? If they oppose God's Word the fact is we should endeavor to abstain.

You said:
"I'm not writing to stir things up with you, Mr. Barger. But I do wonder where you draw the line. Should I not eat at McDonalds because some they employ Islamic people? Refuse to read The New York Times because they once published ads for cigarettes?"

Not at all the same thing and its a bit of a silly argument. However, I always try and spend my money in establishments owned by Christians.

You said:
"Obviously there are things that Christians shouldn't participate in. But being in yet not of the world means engaging the world with confidence in God's work in one's life, as Jesus did."

Do you suppose Jesus would entertain Himself with images and stories that His Father's Word directly forbids? I'm all for and encourage engaging the world head on. This doesn't mean however that we need to bathe in their sess pool. Harry Potter is akin to spiritual pornography and certainly constitutes spiritual adultery when consumed by Christians.

Bless you and thanks for the civil exchange.

Eric

(GREGG WRITES AGAIN...)

Eric,

I also thank you for the civil exchange. Many of my brothers in the faith are willing only to shout, "You're wrong!"

Would you be willing to dialog on this subject? I would find it helpful and instructive. But I'd certainly understand if you don't have the time or inclination.

I appreciate the bit about answering a question repeatedly. I work for a sacred music publishing company, as an editor, and have to do that regularly.

Peace to you today,

Gregg

(ERIC RESPONDS AGAIN...)

Gregg,

I will gladly answer questions and dialog as time permits, But brother, first we need to agree that the Scriptures must be our only guide. The Bible is God's complete and infallible Word to us. If we are to avoid the traps of the world we must agree to the absolute standard of the Bible as sole arbiter.

This being the case and given that the Bible leaves no wiggle room concerning false teaching, witchcraft, sorcery, etc., shouldn't the discussion end right here? Sorcery and witchcraft are not issues that God was mute about. The standard He left us is very understandable.

For the dedicated, bible believing Christian whose sole wish is to please the Father and not jeopardize fellowship with Him the standard is clear - stay clear of witchcraft. Period. Fantasy or real life...it makes no matter. It's not that we shouldn't be aware of what the world is doing. Its just that to be entertained by it is one of the ultimate traps.

The editors of Zondervan's Full Life Study Bible point out a very important and overlooked point concerning the Christian's perception of entertainment.

Romans 1:27 and following deals with sexual immorality, in particular homosexuality but it holds a key insight on the issue we are dealing with here.

27 "And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. 28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; 29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, 30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: 32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them."

Note that ending statement: "but have pleasure in them that do them."

Study Notes for Romans 1:32

“Paul’s last word on human sinfulness is God’s condemnation of a condition even more damning than the practice itself, i.e., supporting and encouraging evil by taking pleasure in the immoral actions of others. This is the ultimate in depravity – vicarious enjoyment of lust and evil. Sin becomes entertainment. Being entertained by watching other people sin and engage in ungodly actions, even while you yourself abstain, brings you under the same divine condemnation as those engaging in such evil practices.” (The Full Life Study Bible, p. 1712)

Certainly this passage and the study notes coincide with lustful sin, pornography, etc. But the strongest condemnation by God of any practice in the entire Bible is the warning given to His people against the "Nine Forbidden Practices" of the occult listed in Deuteronomy 18: 9-12. (Again, see my response to Mallary at http://www.ericbarger.com/potter-christians.htm.)

To view the occult as entertainment is to view sin for pleasure.

We have been systematically conditioned to accept "white" witchcraft. Clearly, the Bible makes not distinction between so called "white" and "black" witchcraft. Being that there are only two sources of spiritual power in the Universe - God, who holds complete power and Satan, who God has delegated certain powers to - it is clear that the trap that countless Christians have fallen into is to believe that because perceived evil is defeated by perceived good then it any given story that contains these elements must be a virtuous story of right triumphing over wrong, God over Lucifer. This is an outright lie of the Enemy to deceive us into accepting his standards (relativism) instead of God's (absolutism).

Satan uses our lack of knowledge and nonchalant attitude against us by slowly bringing us into what I call "The Lot Syndrome." We have chosen the "lesser" of evils to be entertained by instead of no evil at all. Thus, we become accustomed to evil, being slowly desensitized to the place where we no longer hold disdain for it and while we may not embrace the practices ourselves, we either rationalize some facet of evil or just look the other way with making any statement of truth to oppose evil in the lives of others.

In this so called post modern era it is we who have changed yet God's standards for us to follow remain changeless. So, understanding this, why would we, who've been bought with the price of His Son's blood ever want to be entertained by images or stories the likes of which end up in the Lake of Fire? Revelation 21:8 tells us:

"But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death"

Gregg, I have been over this literally hundred's of times with folks having answered many emails, letters and calls and after ministering and speaking on the topic of the occult for 20+ years. I hope my position (and I believe the Bible's position) is clear. However, if you can help me articulate it clearer I would appreciate your input brother.

Many blessings as you search for His truth today,

Eric

 

ON THE END-TIME APOSTACY

Hello Bargers,

I have been reading some of the material posted at your site. Came across this article about Catholoscism (pun intended). I fully support and advocate what you said. All of it concerning the catholic heresy, and truly felt you could have said more. Much more. I myself feel a bit of righteous indignation is in order because they will lead the world into such disasters. There is no stopping that, but, the ol' fashioned fire and brimstone is lacking, and the cold hard fact is that they will be the cause of our being "delivered up". We will refuse to accept their offer of solidifying the worlds religions. To our deaths.

As you said in so few words, they're not the only bad apples in the body. We're being force out of the churched because the basket is rotten. We're in each others homes now...and finally learning to be in each others hearts. I guess we owe that to the "falling away" from scriptures.

I have noticed that God is working mightily in bringing His children to connect as a "body". I can tell that the parts are connected via prayers, and that when we lift holy hands I feel the weight of more than my prayers. I feel the lifting of prayer itself as a whole of the body of Christ.

The closeness of His coming (our catching away) is a sweetness on my tongue, but as long as I'm here, the sadness of the lost is immeasurable. It seems as all have stopped hearing, and that no eyes are opened anymore. It feels like the time to be sly as foxes and as innocent as doves.

Your writings and your faith, this web site, gives me cause to thank my King Yeshua, and give Him the Glory for you and yours.

Peace my friends, see you soon!
Adrian, the Sword Swinging Servant

 

We welcome your comments and ideas. Please write Eric here.


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I have been thinking a great deal about the toll that witnessing for Christ has taken upon Believers throughout the ages. For many years I have written about and taught on witnessing techniques to help Christians win those lost in the cults. But in studying out the Greek word most commonly translated into “witness” I recently came to a whole new perspective on what it actually means to be a witness.

If one was to survey evangelicals most would define witnessing as telling someone about and/or “winning” them to the Lord. Most Bible-believers would correlate Matthew 28:19-20 (the passage which is often referred to as the “Great Commission”) with this. And most assuredly this is a valid aspect of being a witness. However, to accurately define what a witness is according to Scripture we’ll need to go deeper.

Though most evangelicals would give a hardy amen to anyone exhorting them to be a witness for Jesus, when it comes to actually carrying out this activity themselves there is a large disparity in numbers between the “sayers” and the “doers.” We all agree it should be done but then attempt to excuse away why it’s not “our ministry.”

Not only are Christians at odds as to what it means to be a witness but we are also in conflict about what to convey when we do seize the opportunity to witness to others! There indeed exists an ever widening chasm that separates Christians (evangelicals included) on what actually constitutes salvation. Some would say “just believe” while a markedly smaller number would respond “repent and believe.” (Jesus taught the latter.) These disagreements of doctrine and practice should come as no surprise when one considers many of the accepted popular trends in the Church today. More on this at a later time.

What is a “witness”?

The biblical definition of the word “witness” may surprise you. You won’t hear any of the preachers from what is today commonly referred to as the “feel good” church movement mention it. But you need to understand what God is asking of every one of us who name the name of Christ.

- We are all obligated to be witnesses for Jesus Christ.

- We need to be missionary minded wherever we are.

- Witnesses focus on the meaning of Christ’s life, His death, His resurrection, His saving power and on the promise of the Holy Spirit.

- Our witness to others should avoid being ultra condemnatory but should bring conviction of sin, righteousness and judgment and be aimed at seeing people brought to authentic saving faith and repentance.

- Christian witnessing must be escorted by a holy lifestyle.

- Our witnessing must be completely controlled and dependant on the leading and power of the Holy Spirit.

- And lastly, we must be aware that being a witness for Jesus Christ may be accompanied by a price.

Now let’s examine the word “witness”

The word “witness” in English comes from the Greek word martureo. It appears 64 times in the King James Version of the New Testament and is defined:

  1. to be a witness, to bear witness, i.e. to affirm that one has seen or heard or experienced something, or that he knows it because taught by divine revelation or inspiration
    1. to give (not to keep back) testimony
    2. to utter honourable testimony, give a good report

“Witnesses” appears 24 times in the King James, comes from the Greek word martus and is defined:

  1. a witness
    1. in a legal sense
    2. an historical sense
      1. one who is a spectator of anything, e.g. of a contest
    3. in an ethical sense
      1. those who after his example have proved the strength and genuineness of their faith in Christ by undergoing a violent death

Did you catch that last part? To be a witness is to be a willing martyr for Jesus Christ! This is the depth our witness must take on to be worthy of the biblical definition. Witness is what we are to do and witnesses is what we are to become – regardless of the outcome. It is certainly not that we must die to be a faithful witness, only that we are completely willing if need be.

To explain how totally intertwined being a witness and a martyr are consider that five times in the book of Revelation the word martus appears in the Greek. Three times it is translated “witness” (1:5, 3:14, 11:3). However, in Revelation 2:13 and 17:6 this same word martus is translated “martyr” implicating the death of His Saints for the name and cause of Jesus.

When one considers the correlation of witnessing for Jesus Christ and losing your life for doing so it is no wonder that martus translates to both witness and martyr. Here is a short list of early Christians, including some of the Twelve, who died martyr’s deaths because of their faithful witness for Him.

Paul – beheaded

Peter – crucified upside down

Stephen – stoned

John the Baptist – beheaded

James, the brother of John – killed by sword

Philip – crucified

Matthew – killed with a halberd (ax)

Matthias – stoned

Andrew – crucified

John – died of old age but was exiled to Patmos, imprisoned for his faith and likely tortured. John is the only Apostle who did not suffer death for Jesus Christ.

Most of us will probably never experience intense persecution let alone martyrdom because of our faith yet martyrdom is anything but extinct. Estimates are that more people died for the cause of Christ in the last century then in the preceding nineteen centuries combined. One reliable estimate indicates that currently a minimum of one thousand Christians lose their lives in martyrdom each day. Some estimates are considerably higher. However, without a powerful spiritual awakening it is clear that should persecution break out in North America (such as being experienced by our brothers and sisters in China, Sudan or Iran) the majority of Christians here would never dare witness to anyone again. How can I be so sure? The fact is that the number one reason that Christians in the west do not witness to the lost today is that we are concerned about our social standing and how others will view us if we tell them about Jesus! Do you think we’d stand up for Christ if prison or a guillotine might be the end result?

Most American Christians simply cannot relate to the test of martyrdom. We don’t want to believe that our prosperity and safety could come to an end. We seem to be of the opinion that God would never require us to give our lives for Him by boldly witnessing that He alone is Lord of all. We perversely believe that we are somehow special. No, the word anemic actually fits far too many western Christians today. Imagine telling the freshly martyred saints who today died for their faith somewhere in the world that if they would have just gone through the “40 Days of Purpose” they could have avoided such a death. Will the amoral, here-and-now, do-anything-to-attract-a-crowd pragmatism of the modern church growth gurus somehow spare the martyrs spoken of in the book of Revelation? Will all of our great success in finding earthly purpose or building worldly kingdoms induce a Holy rewrite of history eliminating the need for future judgments? I think not. Instead, the response of the martyrs to all such ideas might be that our foolish pride and unscriptural ideas have convoluted our thinking and our faith. The martyr’s ability to first be a witness and then to be able stand for the Lord in the face of death comes only from the power of His Spirit and the strength of His Word. They read their Bibles and had faith firmly grounded in God. They were found unshakable and were thus spared the worst fate eternally.

And they (Saints) overcame him (Satan) by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.
– Revelation 12:11

Comforted to Silence

Don’t misunderstand me. I am a generally positive, joyful person who is enjoying life and is grateful for the peace and freedom that living in America provides. But I detest the spiritually bankrupt “psychology of self” that now permeates many of our most influential pulpits disguised as the message of Christianity. This fixation on us by us is assisting the enemy in making an already rather gluttonous generation even more self-indulgent.

Because of the current preoccupation with self in today’s Church most Christians don’t engage in witnessing because it takes them outside their comfort zone. Though few would admit it, witnessing is just plain too uncomfortable and inconvenient. Shouldn’t those who operate their lives in this manner be concerned with the reality that someday they will each stand before God knowing they have traded away the blessing and privilege of proclaiming His truth in hopes of acquiring acceptance among men instead?

I suspect the reason we often fail when it comes to witnessing is because (1) we haven’t really considered or have simply taken for granted the complete sacrifice Jesus Christ made for us and (2) we want all of the benefits of salvation but without the cost of crucifying the flesh. Truly without an abiding awe and respect for what He endured on the Cross and the determination to deny sin a place in us we’d never be able to stare down death for His name’s sake.

Amazingly, Christians who do make the effort to witness are often subtly pressured by other Christians who don’t share their faith because the one who witnesses makes the slackers around he or she feel uncomfortable! The truth is that if we really care about the eternity of others we’ll be constantly talking the talk and walking the walk of Christianity in hopes that they might be saved too.

Dear friend, I know these have been strong words, perhaps even harsh to many ears. To unmistakably equate martyrdom with witnessing certainly does not resemble the way most modern Christians define the terms. Nevertheless, I pray that those who are genuine in their desire to serve and glorify the Lord will take this as instruction and not rebuke. We should each regularly examine our faith and this study certainly made me probe, inspect and yes, repent of what has previously been a fairly shallow view of what witnessing is and what it may cost.

As I close I pray that it is certain that our witness needs to be more than a bumper ornament or a Scripture printed on our checks. Our witness needs to be more than just occasional as well. It must be a lifestyle of word and deed that together presents Christ to a lost and confused world. I encourage you, let’s be about our Father’s business and together work for as Jesus warned “the night cometh, when no man can work.” (John 9:4)

2005, Eric Barger

For more on witnessing to the Cults please see “Jesus Paid the Cost...So We Could Reach the Lost! - How to win the Cults for Christ” (by Ed Decker & Eric Barger) 

Also, “Breaking the Seductions of Satan” (Winning the Cults for Christ) – seminar video presentation by Eric Barger


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