Month: October 2014

Halloween

Think_Halloween_by_Zefhar

I have been involved in a discussion with other pastors on social media concerning Halloween and should we celebrate it or even allow our families to participate in it.

The answer is NO

and

YES.

It is true that Halloween is a spiritual holiday for Satanism.  Having “some” of its roots in the night before “All Saints Day” (and other pagan places) , it is the day of the year for unholy demonic celebration and we should stay away from any of those types of rituals or activities.

Here is what the Bible says….

Lev 19:26-31 – Do not eat blood, participate in divination, soothsaying, ritual mutilation, and consulting mediums or familiar spirits

Deut 18:10-11 – Do not participate in sacrificing a child, witchcraft, soothsayings, the interpretation of omens, sorcery, conjuring or spell casting, consulting mediums or spirits and seances

Jeremiah 27:9-10 – Do not listen to false prophets, diviners, people who interpret dreams, soothsayers or sorcerers

Gal 5:20 – Do not practice sorcery, which is in a list of  other evil behaviors that we should not do because they oppose the holy spirit.

Micah 5:12-14 – Says, one day God will destroy sorcerers, soothsayers, carved images, scared pillars – and other objects of devil worship. So it would be a good idea not to mess with or have any of those items in your home.

So if your participation in Halloween includes all, some or one of these items or activities that are listed above then…

the answer is NO…

In fact, you should not do those things ANY day of the year.

However,

Everything else – dressing up, getting candy by trick or treating or by going to a harvest blast, watching “It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown” etc… – GO and do those things and spread the gospel as you GO….

 

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Feelings – Nothing More

symbols emotions

Well, it feels like Monday but its really Tuesday.

Glad I didn’t trust my feelings today.

My daughter made All County Band – one of TWO 9th grade trumpet players to make it. Yesterday, I didn’t feel like she would make it. Not because I think she can’t play, but because she is a 9th grader in a High School World.

Glad the judges didn’t make that decision based on my feelings.

This morning my wife did something and I was a bit hurt when she did it.  I felt both hurt and frustrated and almost said something but retreated to our room to get ready to go to work.  While putting in my contacts she came and said something to me that brought clarity to the situation, though she did not realize it needed that clarity.

Glad I didn’t say what my feelings wanted me to say.

I was at the grocery store and in the check out line I was behind a man who did not have enough money to purchase the item he was trying to purchase.  I felt bad for him and almost said, just add it to mine but I didn’t do it.  After he left I inquired with the casher about what the man was trying to purchase.  It was a can of protein mix (like a weight lifter would use).  I had thought (felt) it was formula for his kid.

Glad I didn’t respond based on what I felt.

Sunday after the message I felt like ending the service not as planned but early which would have cut out the final song and we would have went home.  But I didn’t.  During that invitation (that would have been cut if I had went with what I felt) not only did a couple present themselves for membership but a young single mom received Christ as her Savior.

Glad I didn’t go with my feelings.

Feelings that you and I have are often very strong. So strong that we often allow them to supersede or blind us from facts and plans.  There are even times when our feelings are allowed to create a reality that doesn’t exist and then bring into existence conflicts that shouldn’t have ever been birthed.  It’s not that feelings aren’t important or shouldn’t be considered.  They are part of our existence for a reason.  But when we allow them guide how we respond or influence what we do,  we wind up in trouble.  Trouble that could have been avoided if we had just taken a moment to think and adjust our actions to the facts of the situation. Not the so called facts that come from our emotional response, but to the real ones, that have their roots in reality and not our emotions. For only then we will find ourselves in situations where we say…

Man, I’m glad I didn’t go with my feelings on that one!

And that line is worth its weight in gold.

 

Dark

These are truly dark times…

but that is how it has always been.

The fact that things are geting worse is not new.

We look back and remember better days.

The ones before us look back and see days that were better before our time.

The ones before the ones before us had the same point of view.

“Things are getting worse”

Why?

Just like them..

we live in a world of death..

and death is decay…

death is darkness.

In this darkness there exist flickers of something death does not like, that shows up from time to time, resisting the progression of destruction, pushing back the veil of darkness.

Flickers that cause inward pain to those who would rather not see the death and decay of their own soul.

Powerful rays that show the condition things are in for those who choose to adjust their eyes to the brightness. For those who choose to see the world through the eyes of the One that created them.

He died so people could see what is covered by the…

dark…

…unveiling the decay, and the worsening of society.

When our eyes adjust to the light, we find that the flicker was not really in the darkness at all. The flicker has a power of its own. A power that overcomes the dark.

Light and Darkness are not “in each other”. They are as different as night and day.

There is a future a head… a future for those who have become flickers themselves…

A future where there is no darkness…

for all who believe…

for all who have chosen to adjust their eyes…

to the light.

I am looking forward to that day.

Halloween on Mission

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Ran Across this Blog Post by David Mathis and wanted to share it with you…

What if a crisp October wind blew through “the way we’ve always done things” at Halloween? What if the Spirit stirred in us a new perspective on October 31? What if dads led their households in a fresh approach to Halloween as Christians on mission?

What if spreading a passion for God’s supremacy in all things included Halloween—that amalgamation of wickedness now the second-largest commercial holiday in the West?

Loving Others and Extending Grace

What if we didn’t think of ourselves as “in the world, but not of it,” but rather, as Jesus says in John 17, “not of the world, but sent into it”?

And what if that led us to move beyond our squabbles about whether or not we’re free to celebrate All Hallows’ Eve, and the main issue became whether our enjoyment of Jesus and his victory over Satan and the powers of darkness might incline us to think less about our private enjoyments and more about how we might love others? What if we took Halloween captive—along with “every thought” (2 Corinthians 10:5)—as an opportunity for gospel advance and bringing true joy to the unbelieving?

And what if those of us taking this fresh approach to Halloween recognized that Christians hold a variety of views about Halloween, and we gave grace to those who see the day differently than we do?

Without Naiveté or Retreat

What if we didn’t merely go with the societal flow and unwittingly float with the cultural tide into and out of yet another Halloween? What if we didn’t observe the day with the same naïveté as our unbelieving neighbors and coworkers?

And what if we didn’t overreact to such nonchalance by simply withdrawing? What if Halloween wasn’t a night when Christians retreated in disapproval, but an occasion for storming the gates of hell?

The Gospel Trick

What if we ran Halloween through the grid of the gospel and pondered whether there might be a third path beyond naïveté and retreat? What if we took the perspective that all of life, Halloween included, is an opportunity for gospel advance? What if we saw Halloween not as a retreat but as a kind of gospel trick—an occasion to extend Christ’s cause on precisely the night when Satan may feel his strongest?

What if we took to the offensive on Halloween? Isn’t this how our God loves to show himself mighty? Just when the devil has a good head of steam, God, like a skilled ninja, uses the adversary’s body weight against him. It’s Satan’s own inertia that drives the stake into his heart. Just like the cross. It’s a kind of divine “trick”: Precisely when the demonic community thinks for sure they have Jesus cornered, he delivers the deathblow. Wasn’t it a Halloween-like gathering of darkness and demonic festival at Golgotha, the place of the Skull, when the God-man “disarmed the powers and authorities [and] made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them” at the cross (Colossians 2:15)?

Marching on Hell

What if we were reminded that Jesus, our invincible hero, will soon crush Satan under our feet (Romans 16:20)? What if we really believed deep down that our Jesus has promised with absolute certainty, “I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). What if we realized that the gates-of-hell thing isn’t a picture of a defensive church straining to hold back the progressing Satanic legions, but rather an offensive church, on the move, advancing against the cowering, cornered kingdom of darkness? What if the church is the side building the siegeworks? What if the church is marching forward, and Jesus is leading his church on an aggressive campaign against the stationary and soon-to-collapse gates of hell? What if we didn’t let Halloween convince us for a minute that it’s otherwise?

What if Ephesians 6:12 reminded us that “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic power over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places”? What if we remembered that it’s not our increasingly post-Christian society’s Halloween revelers who are our enemies, but that our real adversary is the one who has blinded them, and that we spite Satan as we rescue unbelievers with the word of the cross?

Resisting the Devil

What posture would Jesus have us take when we are told that our “adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8)? Naïveté? Retreat? Rather: “Resist him, firm in your faith” (verse 9). What if we had the gospel gall to trust Jesus for this promise: “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7)? And what if resistance meant not only holding our ground, but taking his?

What if we hallowed Jesus at Halloween by pursuing gospel advance and going lovingly on the attack? What if, like Martin Luther, we didn’t cower in fear, but saw October 31 as a chance to serve notice to the threshold of evil? What if we didn’t turn out our lights as if hiding, but went pumpkin-smashing on the very doorstep of the King of Darkness himself?

Orienting on Others

What if we saw October 31 not merely as an occasion for asking self-oriented questions about our participation (whether we should or shouldn’t dress the kids up or carve pumpkins), but for pursuing others-oriented acts of love? What if we capitalized on the opportunity to take a step forward in an ongoing process of witnessing to our neighbors, co-workers, and extended families about who Jesus is and what he accomplished at Calvary for the wicked like us?

What if we resolved not to join the darkness by keeping our porch lights off? What if we didn’t deadbolt our doors, but handed out the best treats in the neighborhood as a faint echo of the kind of grace our Father extends to us sinners?

Giving the Good Candy

What if thinking evangelistically about Halloween didn’t mean just dropping tracts into children’s bags, but the good candy—and seeing the evening as an opportunity to cultivate relationships with the unbelieving as part of an ongoing process in which we plainly identify with Jesus, get to know them well, and personally speak the good news of our Savior into their lives?

And what if we made sure to keep reminding ourselves that our supreme treasure isn’t our subjective zeal for the mission, but our Jesus and his objective accomplishment for us?

The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.
– Jesus in Matthew 9:37–38

Help Me Jesus

prayer-surrender

I am half the man I think I am

One forth of the husband I should be

One tenth the pastor I should be

Five percent the leader I think I am

truth is

I’m sick

My heart dark and dirty

My mind uncontrolled and tormented

I wish my condition was better

that I could make it better

That the dirt of my everyday sinful existence would no longer cling to me like a spiderweb unexpectedly ran into.

Like superglue contacting skin

Like black mold.

Jesus, I need you

I need you

I need you

Jesus, I’m lost without you

Lost without you

lost without you.

Jesus, I need a savior

a savior

a savior

and you’re the One.

Take my nothingness

Take my nastiness

Take my stink

and wash me clean

wash me clean

wash me clean.

Help me Jesus

to be what I should be

in You

Whatever you ask…


Jesus says, “whatever you ask for in prayer, you will receive… if you have faith.”

Now I don’t know about you, but I have asked for plenty of things and did not get them. I have asked for outcomes to “outcome” a particular way and it didn’t happen the way I asked for it to.

Did I have faith during these times? Faith that God had the power to answer my prayers in particular way?

Yes… always.

In fact… the faith I have in God, (that He can accomplish anything we ask) is seen in conversations I have had with Him when prayers were not answered according to what I had asked.

Conversations that went somethign like this…

Lord, I know you are capable of doing/providing ___________________________ (fill in the blank). And I have asked for it, with faith knowing you can. The question I now have is why didn’t you answer the prayer in the way I asked for it? This is very disturbing to me. Please help me understand.

After all that fits the description of whatever… right?

(Now at this point if you haven’t listened to the sermon Truly 14 you may need to do that before you go any further in this post, you can down load it here)

Now I have a lot of “preacher” answers for this. In fact I am willing to bet that you have already thought of some of those “preacher” answers while reading this post.

Here’s the deal with those…

Do any of those really answer your question concerning unanswered prayer? Do they really bring you peace?

You have asked the “whatever”, your prayer was based ON faith in God, WITH faith in God, and you had NO doubt He was capable of accomplishing what you were asking… but He did not move the mountain. When He did not answer according to your “whatever” and you are left wondering why… do the “preacher” answers really square with with what you went through?

I will have to say… they don’t for me.

And I wish… deep inside… I had an answer to the why…

a real answer.

So, Here is the only thing I know.

I trust God and that is my motto.

Trust is not always knowing all the details and its not having all the answers.

In fact if you are trusting, it means you do not have all the answers, you just know that the one you are trusting will do the right thing. The one you are trusting in will come through for you. He is on your side. Even when things do not turn out the way you’ve asked them to.

I trust God,

He always does the right thing.

I think we have missed something when it comes to this verse because the “answers” we hear and read concerning it do not square with the way things happen in our lives. We may never know what it is we are missing in the interpretation of this verse and that is ok…

because here is what we know…

God is trustworthy…

and our motto needs to be

In God we trust.

Yes,

In God we Trust.

And trust exists in the realm of unanswered whys.