Monday, December 27, 2010
Monday, August 23, 2010
Halloween is a holiday that can provoke such emotions and argumentation, especially among Christians; to partake or not to partake. There are many who have strong opinions about this holiday. What is the right path to take, what should we do, should be participate and possibly feel like we are “selling out” on our faith or not participate and feel like we are the scrooge of this holiday.
When my husband and I first had our daughter it really wasn’t even a question or a concern because during the first four years of her life she was so sleep sensitive that she was in bed usually before all the hub-bub was even started. But as our child has gotten older trying to see eye to eye on the matter has been a challenge. Do we partake in a holiday we feel is rooted in darkness thus feeling like we are being unfaithful to our walk with Christ. Or do we ignore it like it doesn’t exist. Does ignoring it alienate the children in the neighborhood? Is it even more un-Christ-like to ignore the “pink elephant” in the room?
Thus the pursuit to guidance and some nitty-gritty research lead me to these three books. They opened my eyes to the history of Halloween. Gave us (our family) some definite ideas on how we want to approach Halloween in our future years of raising a child in this crazy world.
Why three books? They each give a slightly different approach and each very helpful. Now you may decide after reading the first book review/overlook because you agree totally with those authors or disagree vehemently and don’t want to proceed. I ask you to please read through all 3 discussions before you give way to any conclusions.
THE FACTS ON HALLOWEEN by John Ankerberg, John Weldon, and Dillon Burroughs
This book definitely approaches the topic with the sense that it is a holiday we should not participate in as Christians. It also gives some negative light to the Catholic faith; but it lays out the history and facts very well.
Thru this book you are able to understand it’s rooted by the Druids. The Druids were an ancient cult of the Celts. The Celts celebrated each year on October 31, the lord of the dead. This time of the year for them was the winter festival, the Samhain. This was a time for the dead to mingle with the living.
Halloween is rooted in paganism thus many of the traditions are also rooted in pagan rituals. The jack-o-lantern has many stories behind it. One of them is that witches would put candles in skulls to light the way to a coven meeting.
The authors ask: if Halloween today is truly an innocent practice for young children? It is pointed out on page 23 and 24 how even though churches of past have tried to Christianize Halloween it is still a very important day for witches, neo-pagans, and Satanists. This day is dripping with pagan occult practices of the past and the present.
CHAPTER 5 asks if Halloween can be entirely innocent and how does this holiday relate to the Bible? Some questions that need to be asked are:
1. Who might be influenced? Are we glorifying God thru this practice?
2. By participating are we mimicking evil practices?
3. Are we condoning evil practices just by participating?
4. Are we opening a door for our children to possibly want to dabble or experiment with darker elements when they get older?
5. Are we allowing our children to be involved in a night that some use as a way to cause fear or destruction?
The authors give many biblical references on pages 37-39 on why we shouldn’t participate; such as Deuteronomy 18:9, Romans 12:9, 3 John 11. These are naming just a few. The question is brought up on page 40 on how we can honor God if we are participating in this holiday.
The last section of this book goes into great detail on Halloween, haunted houses, poltergeists, and witches.
I think we can all agree these evils do exist. But let’s take a look at the next book to see a more tempered point of view. This author isn’t telling the reader to participate or to not participate; he is asking you to understand the grey area of this topic.
HALLOWEEN: WHAT’S A CHRISTIAN TO DO? By Steve Russo
This author also starts his book out with the history of Halloween to bring awareness and understanding of the past and present use of the holiday. He also discussed how faiths have tried to Christianize it over the years.
I want to skip ahead to chapter 5, Everybody’s Doing It. This chapter begins with a guest speaking on a radio show explaining that we as Christians need to be in this world but not of this world. And that if we ignore Halloween it will go away. But the reality is: Halloween is not going anywhere! Are we going to be ostriches and bury our heads in the sand?
Contemporary Halloween is really more about commercialism than anything else. What is the bottom dollar? How much can a business make on this one day a year?
To put it simply: SATAN IS EVERYWHERE. In Chapter 6, we are able to see that Satan doesn’t just exist on Halloween. He is actually much more cunning and alluring through everyday life activities. We must be on guard for the “beautiful” temptations because they are much more subtle and dangerous than the blatant scary ghosts of Halloween.
Satan wants us to not grow closer to Christ. He wants to weaken our armor. We must be prepared for spiritual warfare ALL year long, not just one night a year.
CHAPTER 7: A VIEW FROM THE BOOK
We can discern and turn to the Bible for guidance:
1. Not everything is constructive. 1 Corinthians 10:23
2. Guard against unholy practices. Deuteronomy 18:10-13
3. Stay focused on what is good and pure. Philippians 4:8
4. Sidestep all evil. 1 Thessalonians 5:22
5. Be aware of the battle. Ephesians 6:12, 1 Peter 5:8,9
An important thing to understand is that Halloween falls in the grey area of Christian living. It is not spoken about directly in the bible, thus there is a lot of room left for interpretation. What we as Christians need to be aware of is not compromising our biblical principles. We also need to practice one of our great commandments of loving one another as ourselves. Thus not judge someone who does practice or someone who doesn’t practice Halloween.
We as Christians try to live our lives in glory of God, so how can we glorify Him through this holiday?
Parents need to be very aware that the school systems have secularized this holiday so much that New Age and Occult teachings are being allowed to spill into some classrooms. Chapter 8 really goes into great detail on how to be careful of the influences the school systems can have on your children.
Chapter 9 brings out how we as Christians, if we want to participate in this holiday, can really make it more about our faith than about the pagan heritage of Halloween.
1. Reverse door to door evangelization.
2. Harvest Festival
3. Progressive dinner
These are just a few suggestions. We can create a light on a dark day if we use our imagination. Thus by turning on the light of Christ during Halloween we can overcome evil with our good actions and deeds on this day. And the best thing we can do as parents for our children is to ask God for guidance in how to guide and lead our children in this overly seductive world.
REDEEMING HALLOWEEN: CELEBRATING WITHOUT SELLING OUT by Kim Wier and Pam McCune
This book is definitely my favorite out the three. Which you may be asking why I even bothered writing about the other two then? I felt it was only fair to make sure and present all 3 points of view given each from Christian authors.
This book is sold through FOCUS ON THE FAMILY. I know this means something to many Christians. I know it does to me. When I see anything sold, endorsed, or published by Focus on the Family it gives me pause to pay attention.
This book not only goes into the history like the other two books but it spreads it out through each of the chapters as each mom shares their personal stories in how they try to be a beacon of light for their children and for other children during this holiday.
Some of the great things they share in this book is how we as Christians can celebrate this season without feeling like we are selling out. How we can create traditions with our children that are very Christ focused and not geared around the pagan traditions.
Something that they brought out that resonated through me was the fact that Christmas and Easter each have pagan origins as well, yet we as Christians wouldn’t dare abandon these holidays because we know the significance and importance of shining Christ’s light not only during each holiday but each day of the year.
Some of the fun traditions they share in this book are:
- Decorating with Light: how we can light up our houses to be beacons of light during this time of the year, whether with luminaries, white lights, even the pumpkins. There is a devotional to do while carving the pumpkin. The devotional is how to rid ourselves of the “yuck” and sin in our lives to make room for Christ’s light.
- Creating a movie night with the family where the focus is about faith heroes, missionary stories, or documentaries about martyrs.
- For your older kiddos an underground church party. Participants dress up as persecuted Christians and have reflection and game times sharing knowledge and a story about some the great Christians in history who sacrificed all for their faith.
- Fear not party is for the younger groups 7-12. It would consist of a scary story, but show how that Christian hero and took his/her faith to conquer their fears.
- Open your doors! Have it where your candy is wrapped with a biblical message that conveys Christ as the light of the world!
- Harvest baskets can be prepared and worked on during the month to then deliver to families from the church or community who are in need.
- And my all time favorite: build up to ALL SAINTS DAY! Use the month of October to not only share the history of Halloween with your kiddos but to also build up to the great saints who came before us and then commemorate them on November 1st, ALL SAINTS DAY!!!
I loved this book because it gives us as Christians the opportunity to spread the good news on a dark day, be a beacon of light, and most importantly it reminds us to be Christ-like in all we do, thus not judging those who do or don’t partake in this holiday.
No matter what you choose to do this Halloween season with your family remember to “walk by faith….”.
I leave you with some last lines from this book:
“As our families imitate the faith of those who kept their eyes on Christ, we can be assured that we are preparing our children to run with endurance no matter what challenges test their faith on the path of life. They, too, may be ‘hard pressed, perplexed, persecuted, or knocked down,’ but with our examples and the examples of those who went before, they will be able to get up again and keep going.”“As you step out to reclaim a season with such an amazing spiritual heritage, may you discover the redeeming power of our Savior, not just at Halloween, but in every season.”
Monday, August 9, 2010
What is fasting? I always believed fasting was basically starving yourself. Being a woman it meant I probably could lose some weight. I never truly made the spiritual connection behind fasting until I read this book. Maybe part of my willingness and openness to truly hear the message of this book was due to me finally being at a truly good place in my life where I WAS able to approach fasting for the right reasons: spiritually, a deeper connection with God.
This time around I have given you some quotes from each chapter but mostly summarized each chapter and given some personal reflection on how I interpreted what the author was trying to share with us.
SECTION 1 – THE PRIVATE DISCIPLINE THAT BRINGS PUBLIC REWARD
CHAPTER 1: Fasting for Your Break Through
This first chapter really helped open my eyes to see how truly beneficial fasting can be for my soul.
pg 11 – “The 3 duties of every Christian are giving, praying, and fasting.”
pg 14 – “When you faithfully follow the 3 duties of a Christian, God rewards you openly.”
CHAPTER 2: Dethroning King Stomach
pg 20: “You will have to choose to dethrone that ‘dictator within’.”
Oh, how I understand that statement! I love cheese, bread, wine and too many rich yummy foods to even list off. Through this chapter I learned it is okay to enjoy and partake in wonderful foods but we need to also not be indulgent on a regular basis. We need to keep our meals tasty, yes, but not over indulge on “fine” foods all the time. When we do, it numbs our senses in what is truly good for us and what we need to truly focus on.
pg 26 – “God knows there is never a convenient time to fast.”
I found this statement so true. We can always find an excuse on why we can’t fast right now. It’s the holidays; a birthday a vacation or I am just too busy with work. There is always an excuse on why to not make the sacrifice.
Job – 23:12 – I have not departed from the commandment of the lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food.
CHAPTER 3: - How Much? How Long? How Healthy?
pg 35 – “If it doesn’t mean anything to you it won’t mean anything to God.”
There are several different types of fasts. It is not an all or nothing mentality. The 3 types of fasts that are talked about in the bible are absolute, normal, and partial.
Absolute is no food and no water. Normal is usually without food of any kind for a certain number of days. Partial means giving up certain foods for a designated length of time. A very popular partial fast is called a Daniel fast, you can read more about it in the bible in the Book of Daniel.
pg 32 – “Fasting is like spring cleaning for your body.”
Fasting not only helps your soul, it puts into perspective what is important in your life. It also helps release you from any food or substance addiction or obsession.
It is a very freeing experience. It is important to always discuss with your doctor what you are wanting to do to ensure your safety. Some people with certain health condition need to be monitored closely by their doctor.
CHAPTER 4: Every Assignment Has a Birthplace
pg 47 - “Fasting keeps you sensitive to His spirit, enabling you to live holy.”
pg 48 – “Fasting is what prepares you for a new anointing.”
Fasting helps you hear what God is asking of you or telling you with greater clarity.
CHAPTER 5: Swatting Flies
Biblically speaking there is great significance in the number forty. It is peppered all throughout the bible. This cannot be by accident.
pg 61 – “There is a prophetic release that occurs in a church or an individual who fasts continually for forty days.”
pg 62 – “Devils will start – you guessed it –dropping like flies!”
Remember how the devil tempted Christ in the desert, but Jesus did not give in, he completed his 40 days!
A fascinating tidbit: to truly eradicate a family of flies is to diligently spray pesticides for forty days to wipe them out; otherwise you only destroy the current generation of flies.
Fasting for long periods of time is the same in the sense it cleans out the evil spirits, devils, in your life as well as help purify the future generations. This scriptural cleansing helps wipe out future generations of demons that would otherwise plague your children.
pg 64 – “His rewards are waiting to be released, so what are you waiting for?”
pg 66 – “Can you for-go that snickers bar in the afternoon to be delivered from recurring sin?”
CHAPTER 6: God’s coming to Dinner?
pg 72 – “Fasting is a constant means of renewing yourself spiritually.”
pg 75 – “When you worship, you magnify God.”
Do we just go about our everyday lives, hustling and bustling, saying our prayers, reading our bibles, doing all the “right” things but just going through the motions? Or are we really delving into making sacrifices, seeking a greater relationship, divine conversations, with God. Is our love for food more important than our desire to magnify the Lord? We should want to please Him with our worship and sacrifice.
CHAPTER 7: You Shall Be Filled
pg 80 – “When you hunger for God, He will fill you.”
pg 83 – “Fasting stirs a hunger in your spirit that goes deeper than the temporary hunger you experience in your flesh.”
CHAPTER 8: Rewarded Openly
Keeping it personal has a two-fold meaning to me. One: truly abandoning yourself to the fast, thus to the Lord, He will carry you when you feel weak if you just lean on him. Ask Him for help. Two: it is like in Matthew 6:1-4 – Don’t boast about what you are doing for the Lord. Keep it private. Public praise isn’t what we should be striving for.
Some amazing rewards are shared in this chapter of personal accounts from others.
pg 89 – “Fasting will break poverty form your life.”
Remember poverty is not just a monetary issue. A person can be ‘bankrupt’ spiritually, physically, mentally.
pg 90 – “Health and healing will follow fasting.”
CHAPTER 9: Nothing shall be Impossible – It Works!
pg 104 – “The Lord has assured me over the years that fasting will bring in the lost.”
“Fasting makes you more sensitive to the timing and voice of the Holy Spirit.”
SECTION 2 – OPENING A DOOR TO GOD’S PROMISES
INTRO: Why Is It So Hard?
Adam and Eve…temptation…they fell.
Jesus Fasted! Wow! Think, if He needed it, then we definitely need it!
We need to remember to do it for the right reasons. We aren’t collecting points with God, this isn’t a ‘Christian diet’, and we don’t do it to get others to notice how ‘good’ we are being.
We can make every excuse why not to do a fast but we need to just do it because God asked us to in chapter 6 of Matthew in the Bible.
CHAPTER 10: He Pleased God
pg 118 – “Hungering for God brings with it a greater reward than satisfying the temporary hunger in my body.”
pg 120 – “When the Holy Spirit calls you to fast, He is preparing you for what is ahead.”
pg 123 0 If you want to please God, believe God.
So many of us are starving in our faith but becoming ‘fat’ on the world, on society expectations, thus resulting in empty lives.
pg 125 – “We walk by faith. We don’t stay still, drowning in our misery.”
CHAPTER 11: Garments of Praise
pg 140 – “There is power in corporate fasting and power in corporate praise!”
This makes me thing of the bible verse…”where two or more are gathered in my name…” When we give praise to God together there is strength in those numbers. There is a fellowship, a support, a growth. When we fast together as a community the rewards are even greater.
CHAPTER 12: Fasting, Faith and Patience
pg 149 – “Faith and patience must go together.”
We can’t possibly understand what God already does know. What we have to learn is if we wait long enough through our prayer we will eventually see the dots connect. We can then look at the bright trail God has led us down. In this moment we can smile and say, “Oh that is why He had me do that!” But this is where patience is pivotal. If we can’t ‘sit still’ in his presence and let Him do his work through us then we are unable to see what He is doing all around us.
pg 152 – “we need to stop measuring our faith by the size of the problem.”
Remember Peter, he walked on water for a brief moment. Now imagine if his faith has been stronger. Wow, what could he have accomplished then!
pg 154 – “The Lord will reward your diligence.”
CHAPTER 13: God’s Priorities
pg 158 – “There is no higher authority then to know the heart of God for a situation you are facing.”
When you are fasting you are able to see clearer what God’s will is for you. Your ‘wants’ become less important. You are able to focus more on what you truly need. It is hard sometimes to decipher between the two, we may pray desperately for a want but through fasting, faith, and payer we can see clearer that sometimes the want isn’t what is NEEDED in our life.
pg 171 – “Do you remember the last time you were lovesick for God?
I like this quote. It makes it so clear to me just where our priorities should be. Think of the simplicity of saying grace before a meal. Do we rush through it or even skip it all together to just start shoveling food into our mouths? Or do we reflect on giving thanks not only for the food sitting before us, but for the fellowship of our family or friends who have gathered with us? Do we ever crave the companionship of God so much that food doesn’t even become important? If not, why not?
CHAPTER 14: For the Little Ones
pg 176 – “We fast because we need to know the right way for our lives.”
pg 180 –“We need to learn to trust the reliability of scripture when things get crazy.”
By making sacrifices and truly walking in our faith we are strengthening the path for our children and their children. In today’s crazy ‘disposable’ society we need to lean on the Lord even more.
pg 183 – “Anytime you fast it is a hunger strike against Hell.”
We need to stand up like Ezra did in the bible and fast. We need to do it for our children; they need us to seek God for guidance and protection.
CHAPTER 15: Is Your Blade Sharp Enough
pg 192 – “It is time we set ourselves apart to seek the Lord and find understanding.”
pg 196 – “When you fast and pray you sharpen the word of God in your mouth.”
Nineveh was in apparel. Yet they turned themselves around. America can be compared, in a way, as a modern day Nineveh. Can you imagine what an even greater nation we could be if we took to heart what is printed on our currency “In God We Trust”.
Pg 204 – “Keep your armor fit and your blade sharp!”
Fasts can be different; different levels, different types –short or long – partial or total – it is about what is in your heart. What is your intention behind it? Fasting isn’t about making ourselves front and center. It is about keeping God upfront. By doing this we keep our armor strong, fit, and able to withstand anything! Because…ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE WITH GOD!