HALLOWEEN

The Day:  October 31. Most of the Western world (and some other parts) celebrate this day as evenfall comes. Homeowners prepare and decorate their house frontage with scary pumpkins, zombies, spiders & webs, skeletons & skulls, and other creepy props that one could muster up. Sweet treats of all kinds are hoarded and prepped by the front door for anyone who dares to knock.

Kids and adults alike don their most creative costumes then roam the neighborhood streets at the first sign of dusk—knocking on each door with a “trick or treat!” greeting.  And what do they get? Tons and tons of sweets!

On the surface one would consider this celebration as a harmless and festive one – especially when the whole neighborhood is at play. But for us Christians, it’s always been a controversial occasion that comes with that nagging question at the back of our heads: “should Christians even celebrate Halloween?” Is it irresponsible for parents to let their children trick-or-treat? What about Christians who refuse any kind of celebration during the season—are they legalistic or overreacting?

No matter how commercialized this October event is, Halloween has almost completely pagan origins. As innocent as it may seem to some, it is not something to be taken lightly. Christians need to practice discernment and do their part in developing their convictions on this matter, particularly one that has garnered a lot of concerns from well-meaning Christ-followers.

Its Origin: The name “Halloween” comes from the All Saints Day celebration of the early Christian church, a day set aside for the solemn remembrance of the martyrs. All Hallows Eve, the evening before All Saints Day, commenced the time of remembrance. “All Hallows Eve” was eventually contracted and became “Halloween”.

As Christianity spread through Europe, it intertwined with indigenous pagan cultures and encountered established customs. Pagan holidays and festivals were so deeply rooted that Christians had difficulty separating these traditional practices, which eventually became a hindrance to their spiritual growth.

To deal with this issue, the church would commonly move a Christian holiday to overrule a pagan holiday with the intention of countering all its practices and provide alternatives. Most often, however, the ritual remained pagan but had a Christian title. It was interwoven into Christian practice and eventually replaced the holiday entirely.

Scripture says: while we do not find anything specific within Scripture regarding Halloween, there are certain verses from which we can build our convictions on and gain principles from.

In the Old Testament, witchcraft and sorcery were considered an abomination by the Lord. It was so detestable to God that the crimes related to these acts were actually punishable by death. Here are some scriptural references:

  • “You shall not permit a sorceress to live” – Exodus 22:18
  • “Do not turn to mediums or necromancers; do not seek them out, and so make yourselves unclean by them: I am the Lord your God.” – Leviticus 19:31
  • “If a person turns to mediums and necromancers, whoring after them, I will set my face against that person and will cut him off from among his people.” – Leviticus 20:6
  • “There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer or one who inquires of the dead, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord. And because of these abominations the Lord your God is driving them out before you. You shall be blameless before the Lord your God,” – Deuteronomy 18:10-13

In the New Testament, the occult practices of pagan cultures and Biblical Christianity clearly don’t mix. We find certain portions of scripture that plainly show that dabbling in the occult practices were against Christian-living:

  • The story of Simon the Sorcerer in Acts 8:9-24
  • The account of Elymas the Magician – Acts 13:6-11
  • A fortune-telling girl lost her demon powers when Paul cast out the evil spirit – Acts 16.
  • New converts repenting from their occultism – Acts 19

In conclusion: while there is nothing evil about a Christian dressing up as a superhero, a cartoon character, or a princess—just to be able to ask for sweets, there are also things that need to be remembered:

  • There is a need for us Christians to stay away from participating in the darker aspects of Halloween or any holiday for that matter. In any occasion or event, there will always be some elements that are clearly against biblical truth, goodness, and wisdom that we should veer away from. We should not engage in superstitious practices as the pagans do nor should we allow ourselves to be influenced by these cultural norms.
  • As a Christ-follower, your attitude, costume, language, and behavior should still and always be reflective of Jesus Christ and not the world. For a lot of people, Halloween is a time to indulge in sinful behavior – vulgar costumes, drunkenness, pranks, vandalism, unsupervised children / teenagers, and a lot more questionable acts.

“Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel,” Philippians 1:27

  • For the unbeliever, witches, vampires, and zombies are in no way terrifying but one aspect of this holiday surely is: death (not to mention the fear of God’s holy judgment). As Christians, we are called to be counter-cultural especially in occasions like this; take advantage of this time to share the Gospel. One great idea to redeem this holiday is to give out Gospel tracts along with the sweets or talk to friends and relatives about the reality of death (which Halloween unfortunately portrays as something comical).

The decision is really ours to make and it is a matter of our own personal conviction before God. A Christ-follower must be willing to put in the proper study, reflective consideration, and utmost prayer on matters like this. We must remember that while we are to keep ourselves separate from the world, we also recall what the Apostle Paul taught us in Romans 14 – we must not use our freedom to cause others to stumble in their faith, nor should our own convictions cause division in the body of Christ. We are to do everything for the Lord—and that includes how you will go about Halloween on October 31.

So this Halloween, will you join the tricks as pagans do? Or will you treat others with the Good News of Jesus Christ? You decide.

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Be Still And Know He Is God

Stigmas will always be attached to a single mom.  There will always be prejudices.  There will always be a wonderment, spoken or silent, on how one came to be.  In the society and culture I grew up in (a somewhat conservative one), single moms have to work extra hard to earn back the trust they once betrayed.

Battles will always have to be fought – whether it be emotional, social, financial, or physical.  Emotionally, we need to be reassured and accepted after having been rejected or left out in the cold.  Socially, we need a place where we can belong and let out steam.  Financially, we need to be able to provide for our kids while wearing both hats of dad and mom.  Physically, we do need that extra rest from working doubly hard.

It is heartbreaking to know that there are very few Christian churches where I live that has an established ministry for single moms.  More than anything, we need the guidance and strength to keep ourselves grounded in the faith and walking forward.

Personally, I forget that I am weak.  Many times, I depend on my own strength to get through each day.  But God would always remind me of King Hezekiah’s story behind Psalm 46:

King Hezekiah of Judah was surrounded by the army of Sennacherib, King of Assyria. Forty‑six towns and villages in Judah had been sacked. Over 200,000 residents had been taken captive, along with much spoil. At least 185,000 troops surrounded Jerusalem, and it looked like only a matter of time before the city fell.

But proud Sennacherib did not reckon with the fact that Hezekiah’s God is the living God who will not be mocked. Hezekiah prayed, God spoke, and in one night the angel of the Lord defeated Sennacherib by killing 185,000 of his soldiers (2 Kings 18‑19; 2 Chronicles 32Isaiah 36‑37). 

– (bible.org)

Psalm 46 was written out of that situation.  God provided deliverance.

In most cases like mine, single moms are in the situation we’re at because of reckless acts of rebellion in the past.  And while our sins have been forgiven and paid for by the Lord Jesus Christ at the time of our salvation; while we must bear the consequences of our actions, God promises that He will provide deliverance for us.  Just as He has done so for every one of His children, God is faithful and sufficient to see us through.

No problem, whether emotional, physical, or spiritual, is too big for our God. If we will learn to take refuge in Him and lean on Him alone for strength, then with the psalmist we can face the most extreme crises with quiet confidence, because God is with us and He is sufficient. But we would be in error if we thought that God insulates us from problems.

(bible.org)

And that’s the pillow on which I sleep each night. I pray that you, my fellow single moms would, too.

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“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” (Psalm 46:10)

In The Meantime

I did not dare open my heart again,

I did not dare to care.

I did not dare to let myself dream of a once-upon-a-time dream that I though was never going to come true.

I did not dare go there.

But he came along.

He awakened love.

He broke my stupor, so I dared once again.

I dared to open my heart.

I dared to care.

I dared to dream the dream and go to a place I promised I would never tread on again.

I dared…and this time, I prayed.

Oh, but how I got it all wrong!

For this was not The Father’s will.

And much as I try to hide behind the mask of friendship, it will never be so.

For God is not glorified.

So now I will stop.

So now I will let go.

So now I will let the dream leave my heart once again.

So now I will close the door behind him.

In the meantime, I will trust.

In the meantime, I will hope.

In the meantime, I will pray.

 

Integrity – A Need For Resuscitation

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“Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us. “

(Titus 2:7-8)

Integrity, by definition, is the quality of being honest and fair; the state of being complete or whole.

In the condition that the world system is presently in, it would be nearly impossible for a Christian to stay afloat and survive – whether it be in school, work or even in ministry. And that’s a scary thought!

Integrity calls for one to be completely honest in all things. It’s one thing to be truthful in things we say, but do we manifest and exemplify this in our actions? The world dictates that white lies are harmless, but the Bible tells us that liars are just as deserving as a murderer to be thrown in the lake of fire. The world tells us it’s ok to alter information just to get away with things, but do we stop and think how that affects our testimony? It’s one thing to tell your parents or spouse about a mistake in the past, and it’s another to have really repented of it and truly avoid the same temptation or mistake. Integrity is telling the truth regardless of the consequences.

However, integrity is so much more than honesty and it’s so much more than just doing the right thing at the right time. Integrity also calls for one to have strong and unmoving moral principles; it is part of who you are. Integrity is that inherent desire and commitment to love God above all things, obey His commandments, and to love our neighbors and He loves us. It’s not an occasional act of kindness whenever you feel like it, nor is it a corrective measure to erase the guilt from doing something wrong.

Integrity is not something you do on the outside when the state of your heart is the direct opposite. It’s not praying only in Church,but not at home or anywhere else. It’s not advising others to do the right thing when you don’t practice what you preach. It’s not giving to charity and then refusing to pay your taxes. It’s not leading a small group but indulge in the flesh in secret. It’s not hurting someone’s feelings then not asking for forgiveness just because you know Christians will always forgive each other.

It is obeying authority even when it doesn’t make sense. It is respecting others by being on time at an agreed meeting. It is honoring others and being fair. It is being honest in school and work, even if and especially when no one is looking. It is giving your excellence in anything you do. It is doing what you would want others do to you.

Integrity, as the bible defines it, is doing and going beyond what any other person in this world system would do. It’s doing the right thing no matter how inconvenient it is, no matter what it will cost us, no matter the risks on our reputation or identity. Integrity is what the Good Samaritan did to help his neighbor. It is doing what Christ would have done.

So yes, I would say that our modern-day society is in dire need to have Integrity resuscitated. It’s time that Christians take a long and hard look at ourselves and go back to the word and think: What in my own personal walk do I need to change in order for me to regain Integrity.” And perhaps this line may have been overused, but we need to ask ourselves again: “What Would Jesus Do?” And as we come to Him to ask for His grace and mercies to abound in us, may He who is the Author and Perfector of our faith make us complete and whole.