Is fear fun?
I vividly recall when The Exorcist hit the movie screen. Watching scenes where a young girl became possessed by demonic spirits seemed outrageous and in far left-field. Of course, nothing like that could happen in real life. It’s only at the movies where the producers are paid well to scare you out of your wits.
But I paid a price for feeding my fun-loving fear. For weeks after seeing that movie, I was scared of the dark and had to sleep with a light on.
My fascination with “fun fear” began when I was a child. As soon as I could read and browse in bookstores, I discovered there was more than just The Bobbsey Twins series. Nancy Drew Mysteries developed my love of suspense, and I later grew into a fan of everything Agatha Christie. My eye was also drawn to books with ghosts and haunted houses on the cover. The author? None other than the wonderful master of horror and suspense himself.
Could it get even better? You bet it did. Alfred Hitchcock Presents became my weekly TV haunt. I have no idea why, but it aired quite late at night, around ten. I lay under the covers in my dark bedroom, clutching my pillow and burying my face in it at the spookiest parts. As I turned off the TV at eleven, I took all that fun fear with me into my sleep. Needless to say, my dreams were not peaceful, and some nights I even had nightmares.
Back in the ‘60s, Christians weren’t as spiritually knowledgeable as today. Then, we flirted with fear which seemed thrilling, fun, and pretty tame. No one realized at that time how real the evil world of the enemy is, except for missionaries in third world countries where Satan worship prevailed. These missionaries would visit our church once or twice a year, and when they spoke at a Sunday service, we would hear all kinds of true stories that would make our hair stand up. Our solace was in the fact that America is a Christian nation, and Satanic activity is thereby limited from manifesting here.
Well, for a while, anyway.
Then, as I’ve already mentioned, The Exorcist was born on the big screen, and our innocence began to fade. As illegal drugs made the scene, free love in all its forms manifested. Rebellion and flower children blossomed. The Ten Commandments and prayer disappeared from public schools as rock bands with hellish music pounded their anti-Christian message into teens. Wholesome movies and TV shows were sidelined. Now TV shows became less moral and movie producers experimented with racier visions within inane storylines rated R and X.
Did they make mega-bucks doing that? You know it.
Like a lullaby sung over a sleepy giant, this great Christian nation was lulled to sleep. Churches began to dwindle as members became fascinated with worldly pleasures, and ministries worried about their financial future. How could they once again pack their churches and their offering plates to capacity? Thus, they re-invented and molded themselves to attract modern-day society.
How so? Here are some of the ploys:
- Make the church a welcoming, comfortable place—more like a club where you are encouraged to pay your monthly dues in the offering plate, or better yet, online.
- Lure with rock band music containing Christian lyrics, and feature a coffee bar or restaurant on the premises. (I understand some are now even serving wine and beer.)
- Do away with the true gospel, watering it down so that there’s no cross to convict, no call to repentance, and no mention of the word “sin.” Replace those terms with psychology, and help people reason away their guilt. Tell them, “After all, if God is a loving God, how could He send anyone to hell?”
- No convicting sermons—just pleasant ear-tickling stories to entertain and keep everyone coming back next week.
- Have lots of fun group activities for athletics and hobbies, or study books that sound religious, but really have no gospel message.
- Give everyone a job in the church, so they feel included and important. Tell them “it’s all about you” instead of being all about Jesus.
- Instead of spiritual milk and meat, feed the flock gobs of cotton candy—and remember the good news: sugar is addictive!
Now for the present moment.
Our innocent, precious children are weaned onto their first series of books as soon as they have learned to read. The title of the most popular one, in my opinion? Why, Harry Potter, naturally! The world of witches and spells teaches them fear, rebellion, and the ABC’s of Satanic worship. Right away their minds are receptive to witchcraft and closed to Christianity. (Some good parents and Christians alike scoff at the warnings that Harry Potter could in any way be dangerous.)
I remember hearing nuns say, “Let me train a child until he’s five, and by then he will be a Catholic his whole life.” Reminds me of the verse, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and even when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6, NASB). So, these early childhood years matter very much.
How about public school curricula?
They now endorse soft education, meaning there is no discipline, no character training, lax patriotism, and little, if any, true learning. The consequences are lots of kids stoned on drugs, disrespectful, lazy, and with time wasted on technology (which is only a robotic substitute teacher). Schools have shut down over Covid, and mask-wearing became mandatory after re-opening. Currently, children as young as kindergarten are being taught to question their biological sex and are encouraged to assign themselves new gender pronouns, in addition to sexual grooming.
No wonder American education, no longer able to boast being number one in the world, has, in 2022, plummeted to 14th out of 37 OECD and G20 nations. What an educational failure we have become!
So, what is the church’s role in this present age, and what are God’s expectations?
The answer may surprise you, as it did me. In studying the book of Revelation, the beginning of John’s letter is to the seven churches. In my Bible studies spanning nearly five decades, I was taught that those letters were just for that day and time, or that there have been seven dispensational ages—one message for each church—and the last is for our present day.
I clearly see in my present studies that these messages are eternally pertinent for today, no matter the age or year. There is no perfect church outside of heaven’s—and we have to die to get there. On the earth, all of our churches have some commendations, but according to Jesus, there is always something in need of correction.
I plan to take each church and examine what Christ said to each one through John. Let’s agree to establish our hope in God and let Him establish our future.
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.Jeremiah 29:11 NKJV
What we may learn about the church could be startling. Please join me on this fascinating journey.
Our first stop? Ephesus.
Dear Father, instruct us through Your words of warning and encouragement to John. May our hearts and minds be open to Your truths, for Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. May we all come to You through Your Son. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.
Introduction to a Survey of Revelation by Karen Jurgens, copyright 2023 All rights reserved