Monthly Archives: October 2017

A Christian Response to Halloween

2nd Corinthians 6:15

“And what concord hath Christ with Belial? Or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?”

Here in America at least, you can’t go into a store without being confronted with Halloween decorations and costumes, and an amazing number of adults are excited about this event. But what should a Christian’s response to this pagan holiday, revered by many modern witches as the holiest day of the year, be? Is it wrong to mix our Christian faith with an occultic celebration? My personal feeling is that we should not as believers take part in this celebration; I’m not even very comfortable with having a harvest type festival as an alternative, a position thankfully echoed in my church. But I found a good article on the subject of Halloween written in 2009 by Hank Hanegraff, President of Christian Research Institute, and I think that Mr. Hanegraff explains it better than I ever could. So I hope you enjoy this article and that it helps clarify your own position:

Halloween for Christians: Oppression or Opportunity

A myriad of questions have been raised about Halloween. Should Christians participate in Halloween? What should our attitude be towards Halloween? Should we simply ignore it? Should we vigorously attack it? Or should we, as Christians, find ways in which to accommodate it?

Before offering some suggestions on how we as Christians might best relate to Halloween, I think it would be appropriate to first consider the pagan origin of Halloween.

The celebration of Halloween, also known as the witches’ new year, is rooted in the ancient pagan calendar which divided the year into Summer and Winter by two fire festivals. Before the birth of Christ, the day we know as Halloween was part of the Celtic Feast of Samhain (sah–ween). This feast was a celebration of Druid priests from Britain and France and commemorated the beginning of Winter. It was a night on which the veil between the present world and the world beyond was pierced. The festivals were marked by animal sacrifices, offerings to the dead, and bonfires in recognition of departed souls. It was believed that on this night demons, witches, hobgoblins, and elves were released en masse to harass and to oppress the living. For self-preservation many Druids would dress up as witches, devils, and ghouls, and would even involve themselves in demonic activities and thus make themselves immune from attack.

In direct response to this pagan tradition, the early Christian church moved a festive celebration called All Saints’ Day from May to November 1st and renamed October 31st All Hallows’ Eve, from which we get the word Halloween. This was an overt attempt on the part of believers to infiltrate pagan tradition with the truth of the gospel.

It was a bold evangelistic move designed to demonstrate that only the power of the resurrected Christ could protect men and women from the destructive ploys of Satan and his minions. This was a time in which they boldly proclaimed the marvelous fact of the resurrection and the lordship of Jesus Christ.

Believers in post-Christian America today should do no less. Halloween can be for us, like the early Christian church, an open door for evangelism. The deception of Halloween, with its witches, demons, skeletons, and allusions to death, can become a powerful springboard to demonstrate the dramatic power of Christ to redeem us from death, to fill us with His Spirit, and to give our lives meaning, purpose, and direction.

There are three specific things which I would suggest that you and your family plan for next Halloween: First of all, I would use Halloween as an opportunity to communicate to your children, your family members, and your friends that although death and the grave are very real, we are more than conquerors over the powers of darkness through Jesus Christ.

Second, this is an appropriate time to consider the saints who have gone on before us — those loved ones who make the thought of heaven sweet. Even now my mind goes back to precious moments of days spent with Walter Martin. When I think of heaven, I think not only of what it will be like to meet Jesus Christ, but I think of what it will be like to be reunited with this marvelous saint who has had such a significant impact not only on my life but the lives of countless others as well. This is also a great opportunity to share with my children the life of a saintly grandmother who prayed earnestly for me night after night while I was engulfed in a life of sin. Although she is no longer with us, the answers to her prayers live on.

Christians, this is not a time to look the other way as we do so often when passing by a graveyard. Halloween is not a time for avoidance; this is an opportunity, so seize the moment! Death, demons, pain, and suffering are real in a cursed creation. All of us have to struggle with it, and so will our children. This is not a time for glib and superficial answers — this is a time to build intimate and lasting relationships with those whom God has entrusted to our care. This is the time to reach them and to nurture them in the rich traditions of the Christian faith. Let your children know that Satan is not a character dressed in a red union suit with horns and a pitchfork; instead, he is a very real and powerful adversary whose goal is to steal, kill, and destroy.

Finally, let me suggest that this would be a time to share some of the great classics of the Christian faith with your children. Perhaps you could curl up on the floor with them before a roaring fire and read to them from Pilgrim’s Progress, or from C. S. Lewis’s masterful work The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe.

Yes, this is not a time to curse the darkness, but a time to light a candle. If we are indeed serious about making an impact on a lost and dying world, Halloween represents not just satanic oppression but a strategic opportunity.

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The Importance of Finding the Right Church

Hebrews 10:24-25

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

Today I’m led to speak about churches in general. When Jesus called us all to follow Him we became one flock under Him, one family of believers, His brothers and sisters in grace. While some are led to lead lives of isolation, they are very few. But just as wolves will try to separate a sheep from the flock to have a more vulnerable prey, I believe that when Christians allow themselves to be separated from the Body of Christ they become more vulnerable in many ways. We are meant to be a part of a group of fellow believers, brothers and sisters in the Lord, so that we can encourage each other and help each other and hold each other accountable. But this isn’t always easy for some of us. While humans are hardwired to be social, to be a part of a group, be it a family or a clan or a tribe or a nation, for some of us it can be challenging. For instance, due to issues I’ve struggled with all of my life I find it hard to be among large groups of people; I’ve never been comfortable in social settings, except of course in years long past when various substances were involved, and so when a part of a larger group my defenses tend to go up and I remain amazingly isolated in the midst of a crowd. The Lord has brought me a long way with this, and now I’m fairly comfortable being in the midst of a crowd of people at church on Sundays. So sometimes people have issues that tend to separate them from the Body of Christ. Many times the isuue is not so much being in a large group of people as it is an issue with some teaching or practice of a certain church. This is very understandable; there are a number of churches that I would not attend because they promote false teachings or they have practices I disagree with (and I’m not even including cults or pseudo-Christian groups). Fair enough. We are warned repeatedly to watch out for false prophets and teachers of lies. As our dear brother Paul wrote, we are to test everything against the Word of God, and that should include churches too. We should avoid places where they teach anti-Biblical doctrines or practice things that aren’t right. But then, at the same time, what does that leave us? No church or denomination is 100% correct all of the time; after all, every Christian who has ever lived has been a flawed, fallible, mortal being who can make mistakes no matter how faithful they may be. I think that one of the great sadnesses in Christianity today is the fact that so many denominations and churches avoid or even revile everyone else instead of accepting our differences and learning from each other. Now do not make the mistake of thinking that I am promoting the modern ecumenical push to unite all churches and reconcile with other religions such as Islam. I am not. A truly Christian church should teach the whole Word of God and teach a Biblical Christ, God in human flesh, Who died on the Cross for our sins, rose physically from the dead and ascended into heaven and is returning soon in power and glory to claim His throne over the nations. I will not participate in a church that practices the worship of anyone but the Lord, for instance. But I do not hate or revile those who do, I merely present the truth in a spirit of love and humility and practice Christ’s love for others. Jesus said we would be known by the love we have for one another and we should always keep that in mind when dealing with people who fellowship differently. So what should we look for in a church? First, it should be a church that teaches the entire Word of God without avoiding the parts that might make someone uncomfortable; it’s ok to have differences of interpretation regarding peripheral issues, but the core truths such as what is contained in the Apostles’ Creed need to be present. Second, that body of believers should live the Word they teach. They should be committed to lives of discipleship for Jesus, which means obedience to God instead of living in any way we please. Third, it should be a church that is committed to reaching out to the billions of lost souls around us; this can be done in a variety of ways, not just in traditional missionary work. And fourth, it should be a church that is not focused on fundraising and building big, beautiful places to worship; I know of churches overseas that meet in what most Americans would consider a cow shed. The early church was at its best meeting in humble places before it became obsessed with gathering wealth and power. You may not find a church that meets every criteria you have chosen perfectly, but find one that at least gets the essentials right, that lives by the Word of God. Then join the family under Christ and love each other with a holy love, not condemning each other because you disagree about small things like someone’s appearance or how they word something. My pastor has often referred to Christianity as a team sport and he has it right. We can still be a child of God and have salvation in Jesus when on our own, but it is a lonely path that cannot compare with being a part of a body of believers who are of like mind. I know, for I have walked that path before.

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.

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Whose Side are You On?

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Rejoicing in Affliction

Romans 5:1-5

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.”

Rejoicing in the midst of suffering seems so unnatural to us; how can we rejoice when we are afflicted with illness, with calamity or with persecution? Yet, as counter-intuitive as it seems, we can rejoice in our sufferings. Paul wrote a lot about suffering, particularly suffering for the Gospel of Christ. Jesus Himself told us that we would suffer in this world and face many trials. When faced with suffering of any kind we must remember that we live in a fallen, corrupted world, and that suffering through various trials is a part of life. It is our response to it that we have some measure of control over, and our response will be determined by the amount of our faith and our closeness to the Lord. Once when presented with a blind man (who Jesus healed), the religious authorities asked Him who sinned, the man or his parents, that resulted in the man’s blindness. Jesus answer was very revealing: neither’s sins caused the blindness. Illness can be used by God as a means of chastising us or training us in faithfulness, but it is also a natural result of living in weak, mortal, sinful bodies in the present age. Illness is NOT a sign of a lack of faith as some teach; if a believer suffers through illness due to a lack of faith, what does that say about Paul and his thorn in the flesh? I have seen the faith of some destroyed because people erroneously teach that a believer should never be sick. Our bodies age and are attacked by illness due to our own mortality. As we age we develop aches and pains, and frequently our aches become chronic pain that in some cases can really interfere with our activities. We get cancer, we get diabetes, we get any number of diseases and medical afflictions. But even though we get hit with such things, we can still have an attitude of joy and even thankfulness. Not at the fact that we are sick, but in the knowledge that in Christ we have Salvation and eternal life. The sufferings of this present life are as nothing compared to an eternity of joy and peace and health with Jesus; our lives may seem long, but compared to eternity they go by like the blink of an eye. So when you wake up in the morning stiff and sore and having a hard time moving, be at peace and joyful in the Lord. Give thanks because you woke up and draw breath and are able to feel that pain. Give thanks to God for His mercy and love in giving us eternal life through Jesus Christ. Just don’t fall for the lie that you are sick or in pain because you lack faith.

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.

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