October 17, 2017

tuesday-text-v2

Thought to share: your mind is constantly in motion, racing from one thing to the next. You’re always processing information and problem solving. This does not produce rest, give you peace or fill you with hope. Instead it creates stress, exhausting you both mentally and physically. You will only find rest as you fix your thoughts on ME. Learn how to keep ME in the center of your thoughts, regardless of what you’re thinking on, and I will help you navigate through every thought, giving you peace and filling you with hope in the process.

Isaiah 26:3 (NLT) You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in You, all whose thoughts are fixed on You!
Psalm 62:5 (NIV) Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hopes comes from Him. 
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It’s a touchy subject.

Ok. I’m about to wade into the fray. I don’t want to offend anyone, but, I’ve just got to talk about this for a minute. If you’re a follower of Jesus, I hope you won’t shut me down. I hope you’ll read to the end.

As a follower of Jesus, I am very uncomfortable with Halloween. I told you it was touchy.

Forget the history and origin of this event. I’m not sure what I can and can’t believe about this anymore. I just want to look at Halloween today. What does Halloween look like today?

Everywhere I look, I see skeletons, zombies, corpses, headless beings, mummies and ghosts – images of death. Haunted houses – houses inhabited by spirits of the dead. Rotting flesh. Dripping, smeared blood. Gory. Morbid. Macabre. The more gruesome, the better.

I also see characters of darkness in Halloween. Witches, warlocks, sorcerers, voodoo doctors and dolls, demons/fallen angels, fortune-tellers and mediums, vampires, grim reapers, satan, lucifer and devil are the roles we like to play at Halloween. We have costumes of these for both adults and children. (I won’t even get into the sexualized nature of Halloween or adult costumes. And, dare I say, even some children’s costumes have hints of sexuality.)

You also see the tools of Halloween. Knives. Meat cleavers. Machetes. Axes. Chainsaws. Rope. Scythes. Through the skull. In the heart. From the back. Sticking out of an eye. Around the neck. Carried in costume as one who uses these items as instruments of torture and death. All used to invoke terror.

And, speaking of terror, it’s the emotion of Halloween. How scary can we make it? How gross can it be? We want to frighten children and adults alike. We want to horrify, shock and terrify.

We dress our bodies in it. Paint and cover our faces with it. Decorate our homes with it. Cover our yards in it. Wrap the walls of our schools with it. Decorate our businesses in it. And – I’m heartbroken to say – we even garnish our churches with it. (yes, spider webs, ghosts and the like decorate children’s areas.)

What has happened to us as Believers, followers of Jesus, children of God? How have we come to the place that we are comfortable with this in our homes? Churches? With the whole idea?

If you are not in relationship with Abba through Jesus, I totally get why this would be normal. What’s not to like about dressing up, having a party and eating candy. It seems fun. Seems harmless. A nice diversion from everyday life.

But, as Believers, our perspective should be different. First Thessalonians 5:5 (NLT) says as followers of Jesus, we…are all children of the light and of the day; we don’t belong to darkness and night. We are children of Light because Jesus is the Light of the World. (John 8:12) And, Ephesians 5:11 (NLT) tells us to Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead, expose them.

I don’t know about you, but I just don’t see any “Light” in Halloween. I can’t see the fingerprints of God in this. I can’t see Jesus, the Light of the world, anywhere in all that.

What I do see is the glorification of death, the enemy of humanity, the one Jesus gave His life to conquer (1Corinthians 15:55-57). And, once our enemy was defeated, Colossians 1:13 (NLT) tells us that Abba rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of His dear Son,…. So, if death had to be defeated for us, and we had to be rescued from darkness, why do we want to go back there, and play with our enemy in his kingdom, even if for just a few hours?

I don’t see any Light in the characters of Halloween either. I listed some of them above; witches, warlocks, fortune-tellers, mediums, sorcerers, demons, etc. Galatians 5:19-21 (NIV) says that The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery, idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

As followers of Jesus, this passage tells us to avoid witchcraft and sorcery. So, why would we want to pretend we are those things – even for just a day? Why would we want to identify with/as something the Bible tells us to leave alone?

And, just think about it for a moment: as followers of Jesus, would we celebrate a day to promote sexual immorality and impurity? Would we condone a day for debauchery – extreme indulgence in sensual pleasures, usually involving sex, and/or mind altering substances? Would we approve a day that promotes hatred? Or fits of rage? Drunkenness? Certainly not. So, why are we ok with a day that features and encourages witchcraft and all its accessories?

Now, I can hear many of you say: “But, that stuff is not real. There aren’t real witches or warlocks. Or voodoo doctors. There’s not a real devil. he’s just symbolic or mythological creature created by religion to intimidate Christians. (yes, there are professing Christians who believe this) And, as for fortune-tellers, horoscopes and mediums, they are just entertainment. Gimmicks to amuse us. That stuff is make-believe. Fantasy. Imaginary.”

Really? Then, why would the Bible tell us to avoid it? If it’s not real, doesn’t affect us, harm us or create issues in our lives, why would the Bible tell us to stay away from it. Why would the Bible say that involvement in something imaginary will keep us from the Kingdom of God? It must be real if the Bible is addressing it. It must be real if it will keep us from the Kingdom.

The action of Halloween is murder. That sounds so harsh, doesn’t it? But, that’s what all the knives, hatchets and chainsaws are for. No one is trimming trees or cutting meat. They are used as instruments of death. How could we as followers of Jesus ever be comfortable with that idea? At the risk of sounding prudish, there’s no humor or fun in the idea of murder. Murder is horrible, devastating and heart-breaking. Ask anyone who’s had a loved one stolen from them. It’s amazing how hysterical society can be with violent video games, guns and bullying, but turns a blind eye to cleavers lodged in a chest or knife in the skull.

And, the goal of Halloween is fear – evoking fear. But, the problem here is fear is not an emotion. Terror, horror, anxiety, fright, distress – those are emotions. But, fear – that’s a spirit. (2Timothy 1:7) I do believe in spirits and I don’t think they are the remains of those who have died. Spirits are demonic forces with an agenda to steal, kill and destroy us. (John 10:10) And, the way fear steals from us is through terror. It paralyzes peace. Robs us of sleep through nightmares. It steals joy and produces the emotions of terror, horror, anxiety, freight and distress in us.

Fear does not come from God. First John 4:16 tells us that God is love and vs 18 says love has no fear.…. The word fear in the original Greek is phobos and it means terror, alarm, panic. God does not have or cause terror, alarm or panic. In fact, the rest of vs18 says ….perfect love expels all fear. Fear cannot co-exist with Him.

Jesus is not in the center of fear-based activity. He isn’t even on the fringes.  So, if Jesus isn’t in the center of something, as followers of Jesus, why would we want to be involved?

And, as we participate in fear based events, could it be possible that we open the door for fear to operate in our life? For other demonic forces to harass us as well? Could participation in this darkness open the door for witchcraft to operate in our life, creating chaos? It’s something to think about.

I’m not suggesting that dressing up as Robin Hood, a cow or a clown is evil. (though, some would disagree with the clown part). I’m not saying that having a costume party is wrong. I’m not insinuating that a costume party on October 31st will send you to hell. I’m not even saying that carved pumpkins are from the devil.

What I am saying is this: any activity, event or “day” that glorifies death, contains characters of darkness, makes light of murder and promotes fear can NOT be good for the spiritual health of a follower of Jesus. It is the opposite of everything Jesus is.

While I don’t think it is the intention of any follower of Jesus to do something that will damage their relationship with Him or damage their spiritual health, could it be that we’ve been negligent to investigate what we’re participating in? Have we taken society’s perspective and assumed it was ok for us as children of Light? Have we just followed the crowd?

I know this is a touchy subject for so many followers of Jesus. We are easily offended by the idea that Halloween is wrong. That witches exist and satan is real. But, if you are a follower of Jesus and have been participating in Halloween, can I challenge you to set aside our opinions and experiences and ask Jesus what He thinks about Halloween? Ask Him how He feels about our participation in it? Ask Him if it’s healthy for us? Our families? Our children?

And then, listen. Honestly listen.

By now, you obviously know my position of this subject. But, I’ll share what I discovered when I asked Him the question: 1Thessalonians 5:22(NLT) Stay away from every kind of evil. And when I look at Halloween, I saw (and still see) evil – dark, wicked, malicious, foul, nefarious, sinful.

 

NOTE: When I write, I always use lower case letters for the enemy’s name and the pronouns that refer to him – even if it’s the beginning of a sentence. I can’t bring myself to dignify his existence with a capital letter.

September 19, 2017

tuesday-text-v2

Thought to share: when I AM at the center of your life, there is balance. When you are at the center, there is chaos. When others are at the center, your world tilts on its axis. When things are at the center, there is confusion. Your world spins out of control when anyone, or anything but ME is your center. I AM the only One enough to hold it all together. I AM the only One who can establish and maintain order, so that you live in peace and stability. Place ME at the center of you and let your life flow from ME.

Colossians 1:17 (NLT) He existed before anything else, and He holds all creation together.
Romans 11:36 (Amp) For from Him [all things originate] and through Him [all things live and exist] and to Him are all things [directed]. To Him be glory and honor forever! Amen.
Colossians 3:17 (Amp) Whatever you do [no matter what it is] in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus [and in dependence on Him], giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

January 3, 2017

tuesday-text-v2

Thought: put the world on hold and come away with ME for awhile. Don’t push ME to the background with the promise to talk later, as you try to juggle your to-do list. Instead, place ME front and center. Give ME your undivided attention and let ME love on you, filling you with MY Presence. You won’t regret it. It’s never wasted time to be with ME.

Luke 10:38-42 (NLT) As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what He taught. But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.” But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”

December 20, 2016

tuesday text

Thought to share: Do not let your heart be stolen by circumstances you do not understand. Don’t allow your thoughts to be captured by your circumstances. If you allow this, your circumstances become your idol and your life will revolve around your circumstances. Instead, focus on ME. Let ME have your heart, your thoughts and your attention. As you choose this, I become the center of your focus and your world will revolve around ME. And then, you’ll have rest.

Micah 7:7 (NLT) As for me, I look to the LORD for help. I wait confidently for God to save me, and my God will certainly hear me.
Proverbs 23:26 (NLT) O my son, give Me your heart. May your eyes take delight in following My ways.