Tag Archives: Ghosts

A LOOK BACK: Haunted

bflw-devotional-800x490Writing the Life-Giving Water devotionals is not only an important ministry, but is a deeply rewarding spiritual discipline for me as well. With that said, observing Sabbath (aka rest) is an important spiritual discipline as well. So here is a LOOK BACK to a devotion I wrote in the past. Read it, reflect on it, be challenged by it. Who knows how God will speak to you through it and how it will bear relevance in your life today? May the Holy Spirit guide you as you read the suggested Scripture and subsequent devotion.

Beyond Our Ghosts

Read John 14:1-7

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in Me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NLT)

poltergeistFollowing suit with the previous devotional, I just recently watched another horror movie that is actually a remake of an older, yet still popular film by the name of “Poltergeist”. While the original, written by Steven Spielberg and directed by Tobe Hooper, will always be the favorite of the two versions, it is safe to say that this new film definitely delivers. Besides, who doesn’t love a good ghost story, even if retold, to send chills up and down one’s spine.

In case you are unfamiliar with the film Poltergeist, I will give you the gist of the plot. I will be referring to the 2015 remake, since it is the one I have seen most recently. Though the characters have different names, the plot is basically the same. Poltergeist is a film that follows a family that is moving into a new home in a development somewhere out in suburbia. Following their arrival, things start to get weird. The youngest daughter, Madison, starts talking to “imaginary friends” and their son, Griff, hears the tree growling at him. All of the family members, in different ways, come across seemingly random static electricity in certain spots of the house.

While at first the weird occurances are kind of fun and intriguing, they start to become more and more vicious and scary. Little Madison, begins having nightly conversations with “the lost people” in the television set, and eventually gets lured into the closet by mysterious lights, only to disappear. Following her disappearances, her frantic family starts to hear her talking through the static-laden television set. As it turns out, she had been kidnapped by the poltergeists who are trapped in the house in a world that between this life and the next. They are desperate to find a way out of the hellish purgatory they are in, and Madison’s innocence draws them to her, thinking that she can lead them to the light (aka to rest in peace on the other side).

Without giving anymore details away, or spoiling the rest of the story, I think it is fair to say that this film is full of thrills and twists that keep you at the edge of your seat throughout. What I have noticed in this film, as well as all films about paranormal hauntings, is that while the families being affected seem to be normal, average, everyday families, there is always something dark lying under the surface.

Again, without giving away too much of the story, it becomes clear fairly early on that the Bowen family in Poltergeist is a family that is struggling to remain together. Mom is an aspiring author who cannot find the time or energy to write because of the responsibilities of motherhood. Dad is unemployed and desperately seeking employment. My guess is that they have moved to this location because they could no longer afford to live where they were. To make matters worse, dad tries to calm the stress by spending money on his kids and wife. But that only adds to the stress, because every dollar is precious.

Griff, their son, has a tremendous amount of anxiety that goes unexplained throughout the film. One can imagine that much of it is caused by the uncertainty of their family situation, but there could be more to it than that. And their eldest daughter, Kendra, is a rebellious teen who is resentful of the family situation and their move. What’s more, she is a bad influence on her younger sister, Madison, who imitates all of the things she does.

As I mentioned above, it seems that this is a prominent theme in many cases of paranormal activity, and especially in films about “hauntings”. As I sit here reflecting on that, I think that is true even beyond hauntings and other tales dealing with the world of the hereafter. We as people invite the kinds of things we project into this world. What I mean by that is this is that if we are constantly surrounding ourselves with negativity and constantly have a negative outlook, chances are we will be tormented, or “haunted” if you will, by that negative outlook. What’s more, if we allow our faith and our spiritual disicipline erode, we become even more susceptible to succumbing to hopelessness and despair.

Today’s challenge is to be a people of light, a people of joy, and a people of hope. While life in this broken world will present us its challenges, Christ has overcome the world and we can too if we rest our faith and our trust solely in Christ. If we do so, if we move from our fears, our anxieties, our trials, and the negativity we surround ourselves with to FAITH IN CHRIST, we will be set free and rise above the negativity that can seep into our lives. I pray that we all can make the move byond our ghosts to the hopeful light and love of Christ.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY
“Monsters are real, and ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win.” – Stephen King

PRAYER
Lord, I cast all my fears upon you. I give to you the ghosts that haunt me. Fill me with your light so that you, and not my ghosts, will win. Amen.

Believed

Read 2 Corinthians 1:3-5

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“I will comfort you there in Jerusalem as a mother comforts her child.” (Isaiah 66:13)

conjuring2I used to faithfully watch the show, “Ghost Adventures.” The show aired on the Travel Channel, and it followed these three independent paranormal investigators who would lock themselves into a supposedly haunted building and try to agitate any spirits who might be there and waiting. I always found it fascinating because they were exploring the unknown and some of the evidence they would find, so far as I could tell, was quite compelling.

I just recently watched “The Conjuring 2”, which follows Ed and Loraine Warren as they investigate the Enfield House. For those of you not already aware, the Enfield House is one of the most documented “hauntings” ever. Located in the London area, Enfield was called “the Amittyville of England”, because of some similarities between the two cases and also the fact that the two hauntings happened in the late ‘70s, around the same time as each other.

Needless to say, tales about hauntings and possessions have always intrigued me because they seem so out there, and fanciful, that one is left wondering if they are ACTUALLY true. On the other hand, so many people throughout history have had some sort of paranormal experience that there must be some nugget of truth, right? Whether that is right or wrong, these films certainly capture the imaginiation and cause one’s skin to crawl when watching them.

As I was watching the Conjuring 2, I also picked up on something equally as intriguing. The story is about a girl and her family who live in a house that increasingly becomes an inhospitable place to live. To start out, we find out that the dad has bailed on the family and left them to fend for themselves. We don’t ever find out why; however, we see the results of his decision to abandon his family. The mother is left to figure out how to support her children and pay the bills. The daughters are each struggling to deal with the loss of their father.

The youngest daughter, Janet, is being bullied by other kids, who are calling her vulgar names and tormenting her. To add insult to injury, when the haunting begins to take place the mom calls the police come to investigate as she believes someone could be in the house. After witnessing paranormal activity, they report the “haunting” to the media who then interview the family and put it all over the tele (aka TV). Fojllowing that, all of Janet’s remaining friends abandon her, join in making fun of her and/or totally avoid her.

In other words, Janet’s life was HELL! The Catholic Church ended up sending Ed and Lorraine Warren to investigate because they did not want to risk their reputation on a potential hoax. While that is both understandable and a theological travesty at the same time, Ed and Lorraine do show up and they DO believe this girl and her family. That’s enough of the back story without giving anything else away.

The point of this is that, what ultimately ended up bringing healing to this girl and her family was the fact that someone ACTUALLY believed them. Someone took the time to listen to them, empathize with them, and not dismiss what they were going through. There is nothing worse than suffering through something and no one truly caring enough to understand or believe.

The challenge for us all is to be more empathetic and compassionate with others. We should believe them when they say their struggling. Even if it becomes discerned that they are not struggling in the ways they have expressed, it does not mean they are not struggling at all. We never truly know what they are going through and Christ calls us to witness to the compassionate, healing presence of God in the lives of others. We are not their judges, we are their servants. We should be open and willing to be present in the lives of those who are down and out.  We would want no less for ourselves and we should be willing to do to others as we would have them do to us.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY
The purpose of human life is to serve, and to show compassion and the will to help others.”  – Albert Schweitzer

PRAYER
Lord, guide to those who need help and grow a more compassionate and empathetic spirit within me. Amen.

A LOOK BACK: Haunted

bflw-devotional-800x490Writing the Life-Giving Water devotionals is not only an important ministry, but is a deeply rewarding spiritual discipline for me as well. While I know we are in the midst of an on going series, “The Sermon”, I am in the midst of important paperwork this week, which is keeping me from writing my devotions. I thank you for your prayers. Please know that I will be diving back into that series next week. In the meantime, here is a LOOK BACK to a devotion I wrote in the past. Read it, reflect on it, be challenged by it. Who knows how God will speak to you through it and how it will bear relevance in your life today? May the Holy Spirit guide you as you read the suggested Scripture and subsequent devotion.

Grim Grinning Ghosts

Read 1 Samuel 28:7-20

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant.” (Galatians 6:7 NLT)

clare-kramer-grave-dancers-movie-stills-mq-07 “When the crypt doors creak and the tombstones quake, spooks come out for a singing wake. Happy haunts materialize and begin to vocalize. Grim grinning ghosts come out to socialize.” Thus the song, “Grim Grinning Ghosts”, kicks off as one is winding down from the roof of Walt Disney World’s “The Haunted Mansion”, to the graveyard below, filled with ghostly ghouls and whisping spirits flying through the night sky. As a huge Disney fan, who will be at the parks this summer as well, “The Haunted Mansion” is without doubt my all-time favorite ride.

As most people know, I love horror movies and, in particular, I love a good ghost tale. One of my more favorite ghost movies is an independent film called, “Gravedancers”. I am not sure how many people realize this or not, but it is a fact that this film was inspired by Disney’s “The Haunted Mansion”, which is the favorite ride of the director/writer of the film. He has loved that ride since he was a child and the frightful fancies it induced.

In fact, it is the song from the famous ride, “Grim Grinning Ghosts” that the director drew the most inspiration from when coming up with the ghosts that were going to be haunting his film. Perhaps, the word “haunt” is an understatement when it comes to these ghosts. Take a long, uncomfortable look at the ghost pictured above. They go beyond creepy, to downright making your skin crawl at first sight.

Like all horror films, there is a certainly immorality present in all of the characters that causes the horror they go through to manifest in their lives. The ghosts that haunt them, no doubt, do so because they disregard their own moral compasses and act selfishly, with little regard to others (including the dead) in the process. Their sins literally come back to haunt them in ways that are both horrifying and unforgettable. Like, the images literally are etched into one’s mind after seeing this film.

One of the main moral failures that he characters display in this film, is the utter and total disregard of others. The story starts off with a group of college friends reuniting years after they had graduated in order to attend the funeral of one of their former friends. Following the funeral, they all go out drinking and end up taking their party to a cemetery because, well, excessive alcohol intake leads to some pretty nonsensical and irrational decisions and deeds.

At the cemetery, they open up a letter in a black envelope that has a poem in it, which beckons them to dance on the graves of the dead. To most sober people, this would sound like a bad idea just out of respect for the dead and their living, grieving, loved ones. But these characters (to avoid using a more pejorative word) think this would be a great way to celebrate their lives. So they dance and, in doing so, desecrate the graves of the dead, awakening the rage of some pretty vengeful and malicious spirits.

There’s something in this story for us to pull from. How often do we go about our lives, merely thinking of ourselves and our own. We call ourselves Godly people because we, typically, care for those we love and those who love us back. We call ourselves “good” people because there are “far worse” people than us out there; however, we are, admittedly, “not as good” as we could be. We measure the merit of our lifestyles by how much gratification it gives us, with often little to no regard for whether our lifestyles are impedeing and/or harming others, and we fight to keep the status quo so that the powers that be, so-to-speak, favor us over and above others.

While we may not be dancing on the graves of the dead, we are often living our lives in a way that dances on the lives of others, thus sealing their fate in terms of their suffering. We often are dancing on the living graves of the oppressed in order to enjoy the benefits that are afforded to us but not to others. In doing so, we are also simultaneously conjuring up grim grinning ghosts that come to haunt us in ways we could have never imagined.

Just take a look at all of the chaos and woes of society, and you will see the grim grinning ghosts that have been unearthed by the sins of a people who have forgotten to live justly, love mercy and walk humbly with God. What can we do about it? We can choose to begin to fight for justice, for equality, and for the peaceable Kingdom of God in our households, our communities, and our world. Through standing up for such ideals, and through self-reflection and contemplation, we can be holy agents of change.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY
“The more enlightened our houses are, the more their walls ooze ghosts.” – Italo Calvino

PRAYER
Lord, empower me to recognize the ghosts I have unleashed in my life, and in the lives of others. Help me to stand true in your light in order to remove them once and for all. Amen.

Haunted

Read 1 Samuel 28:7-20

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light. And for those who lived in the land where death casts its shadow, a light has shined.” (Matthew 4:16, NLT)

Crimson-Peak-photo-600x400As a fan of Gothic Romance, Horror, and Ghost stories, I was super excited to see Guillermo Del Torro’s latest film, “Crimson Peak.” It is a film about an aspiring author falling in love with an obscure Baronet who lives in a remote Gothic mansion in the English hills. Following a very tragic event, Edith marries that Sir Thomas Sharpe (aka the Baronet) and moves with him to his remote mansion and begin a new life with him and his sister, Lady Lucille. While, I am not one to do spoilers, it would hardly spoil the fun of the film by saying that the move to England doesn’t end up as romantic or happily-ever-after as she would’ve hoped. It turns out that the mansion has a long, bloody, and terrible past that is literally haunting Edith at every turn. The ghosts of the past lurk in the halls, the walls and the floor boards of a house that is relentless in bringing the past to life to the horror of everyone involved.

What I loved about this film is that it is a ghost tale of the classic order. It doesn’t set out to give the audience cheap thrills and “gotcha” pop-out scares. While there is a little bit of that, this film seeks to get under one’s skin and haunt them in ways more profound than anything cheap could possibly accomplish. If Edgar Allan Poe were a film writer/director, then this is the film he would have come up with. As a result, I think that this film not only haunts us with the ghosts we see on the screen, but also gives us a glimpse at the ghosts that haunt us from within as well.

Each and everyone of us are haunted by ghosts of one form or the other. Each of us carries around with us things from the past that linger within us and haunt us like spooks in a boarded up abandoned house. Some of us carry around the things we’ve done in the past, similar to what I wrote about regarding skeletons in our closet. For some, there ghosts are there as a reminder of the foul play we’ve participated in. Perhaps we have hurt someone, perhaps we have harbored ill will toward people, perhaps we have harbored grudges, taken part in gossip, slandered those we don’t like, or perhaps we done things that we fear will expose us in ways that will be less than flattering.

On the other hand, many of us carry around ghosts of a different kind. We have endured hurts and been weighed down by the hangups that come from them. Perhaps we’ve been bullied, been abused, been mistreated, been cheated, or been burned in one way or the other. Perhaps we have been the victim of cruelty, victims of a weakened and demoralized self-esteem, victims of hatred and bigotry, or perhaps we have been beaten down by depression and other paralyzing diseases. Whatever we’ve been scarred by, we are haunted by the ghosts that remind us of the thorny and twisted path our lives have been journeying on.

What is important to note is that, whatever our ghosts are, they will not go away until we address the warnings they bear us. If your ghosts are closeted skeletons, address the ills you have done and sincerely reconcile yourself with your past and those you have brought harm to. If your ghosts are the kind that have been brought on by others and/or circumstances, then you need to address the warnings they bring you. Whatever you are demoralized from, whatever is casting a haunting, shadowy stain on your soul, these ghosts are serving to let you know that something is NOT right with how you currently view yourself. You are a beautiful person, a child of God, worthwhile, and valuable. Until you seek help and get past your ghosts, you will continue to head down the corridor of foreboding. I pray that you put your ghosts to rest and step out into the light where you belong.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY
“Monsters are real, and ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win.” – Stephen King

PRAYER
Lord, help me to understand that the ghosts that haunt me are angels warning me that something needs to change. Help me, also to discover what that “something” is, and empower me to change it. Amen.