A few months ago, author Kristine McGuire came and spoke to us at The Community Haus. Through her, I was introduced to fellow Charisma House author Jeff Harshbarger. Besides being an author of several books, Harshbarger is an ordained Calvary Chapel Minister, a Counselor and like Kristine McGuire, he is a Christian who left behind his years in the occult to now follow Jesus. Jeff started a organization known as Refuge Ministries, which is a ministry of counsel, prayer, encouragement and providing resources to those who are or were involved in the occult. During his involvement in the occult, Jeff saw the ill-experienced knowledge and response the church had in these matters, especially when it came to ministering to these people. Jeff draws on his experience and his new life in Christ to gently reach in with love, healing and hope to those involved in what we might refer to as Satanism, the Occult, Wicca, Witchcraft, New Age practices and Spiritualism.
When I first became acquainted with Jeff, he suggested I followed up reading Kristine McGuire's book (Escaping the Cauldron) with his own book called `Dancing with the Devil`. Dancing with the Devil is a compilation of personal stories and testimonies from individuals who were caught in the darkness of their mind and involvements. Each chapter is richly educational and a testimony to the power of the Holy Spirit's work in the hearts of these, now, brothers and sisters in Christ. To use the description on the cover, it is; "An honest look into the occult from it's former followers." It took me a few weeks to finally sit down and read it, but when I did I completed the read, on and off in one day.
Before Kristine's book, I haven't read much on this topic. With Kristine's book, I found that I could easily identify with it because I've known of some individuals who were and some that still are involved with similar spirits and things as she was. However, with Jeff's book, I found it as a look into some of the deeper and darker struggles of people in which I am not familiar with, but ones that are quickly rising and becoming more common in these next few generations and within our culture.
Each chapter (which is an individuals story) has it's strengths. However, there are always a way in which people that tell their story, that you may be able to latch on to more than others. The strongest chapters for me were; Chapter 5 `The Reality of Christian Witchcraft' by Kristine McGuire, Chapter 6 `From Spiritualism to Christ' by Laura Maxwell, Chapter 7 `Escaping The Vampire's Lair' by Brian Reed and the testimony of Jeff Harsbarger. However, for me, all the chapters were strong but two of them. The chapters that were not as strong for me were; Chapter 3 `Son of Sam, Son of Hope' by David Berkowitz and Chapter 8 `Freed From Satan's Grasp' by Vince McCann. I am in no way saying anything about the testimony or evidence of the Holy Spirit in the lives of these chapters authors.
Skillfully crafted in the beginning of the book is a introductory look at the occult and the book finishes with resources and help on how to reach out to those lost in the darkness of the occult. Boiled down simply, we find really the occult's main roots are a quest for self-worth, power and acceptance. However it eventually belittles it's victim and perfectly distracts them away from a creator God, from love, from others and from true worth. In the Chapter `Dabbling with Darkness', Greg Griffin shares that he has found that the majority of all occult followers live by two fundamental rules; (1) Do what thou wilt, for this is the whole of the law and (2) Say in your heart, I am my own redeemer. Like alcohol or a drug, the quest to experiment is tipped off through the hidden symbols and references in our culture, media, mindsets and movies. After a few gateway experiments, often the follower successfully becomes an `working alcoholic' able to dabble in the occult and live everyday life. However, eventually it's addiction takes it's follower to the status of victim and confuses, abuses and rapes their mind and stability mimicking psychiatric diagnosis, that are secretly and truly spiritual problems. The occultist is not a individual on the fringe. So many times they are the person next store and you would have no idea, including Teachers, Doctors and People in the Military. So often, they are common people, like you and me, on a quest to fill a void.
This book will help you in recognizing the real face of the occult, a religion which truly dominates the world's mindset. Each chapter features quick facts and guides to difference avenue's of the occult and how to confront it. It will make you sensitively aware to the symbols and references around us in our culture, media, mindsets and movies. I have been thoroughly convicted through both Kristine McGuire's book and Jeff Harsbarger's to make sure we as a family minimize the presence of these symbols and references, into our everyday life. More importantly, for those in the church, leadership and ministry positions - through hearing the stories of these witnesses of truth, you will be more informed on recognizing signs of those involved, the traps that welcome people into the occult and most importantly you will read what works and what does not as you read on how they were delivered from the occult. Many of these individuals had bad experiences with followers of Jesus, who tried to lead them out of the occult but often just victimizing them more. As this truly old religion, grows in popularity once again, we as a faith community must be prepared with the knowledge, evidence, truth, know-how and answers to this common threat. Each author also successfully not only shares how they became involved and how deep they got, but also they bear contagious witness to the spiritual truths that enabled them to break free.
I truly believe this book has the power to encourage and remind us as followers of Jesus to focus on the Kingdom of God, as well as aid us in bringing the truth to draw others to the saving power of Christ Jesus. The Church has been misinformed for years on what the Occult is, it's time to become informed.
I encourage you to read this book to know and see the power of God's love and Holy Spirit, a power that embraced each one of these individuals in some dark places.