Sat, Oct 29th - 11:14PM
I have been wrestling with this Halloween issue this year.
Yes, its roots are pagan. Most everyday's roots are pagan, including Christmas. And I refuse to give up on Christmas. For centuries we have taken pagan holidays and "improved" them by giving them real meaning. Jeasus wasn't really born anywhere near December. There was just a big pagan holiday then that needed some help.
Yes, it is usually centered on the violent, demonic, and supernatural. Some people probably are introduced to the occult through this holiday (although not nearly as many as we imagine, I think) But, in my experience, these things are scoffed at, not embraced. A Christianity Today article says "The one thing Satan cannot bear is to be a source of laughter. His pride is undermined by his own knowledge that his infernal rebellion against God is in reality an absurd farce. Hating laughter, he demands to be taken seriously. Indeed, I would say that those Christians who spend the night of October 31 filled with concern over what evils might be (and sometimes are) taking place are doing the very thing Lucifer wants them to do. By giving him this respect, such believers are giving his authority credence."
We could get back to the Catholic idea of All Saints Day, honoring the contributions of Christians who have died. Here is a suggestion from another CT article "Here is a unique opportunity for our churches. At the first news of a death, and during the first weeks of grief, the bereaved receive much attention. But how many widows ever hear their husband's name mentioned years later by fellow Christians? Persons who were once a major part of a church's life are forgotten."
Care should be taken to keep Haloween from becoming a hallmark day for evil. But do we accomplish that by ignoring the holiday? Haloween is the second biggest commercial holiday in America. If it would just go away, I think it would be great to ignore it. But since it won't, Maybe we should follow the original idea. Let's improve it. Richard Foster says, "Why allow Halloween to be a pagan holiday in commemoration of the powers of darkness? Fill the house or church with light; sing and celebrate the victory of Christ over darkness."
I could be way wrong on this (it wouldn't be the first time). Let me know what you think.
Fri, Oct 28th - 10:48PM
This lose to Halloween, let's talk abour something really scary. Satan. The two passages below are where we get most of our knowledge of Satan. The Ezekiel passage starts as a description of the king of Tyre but seems to move on to Satan. Certainly the king of Tyre was never in Eden.
Ezekiel 28:12 Son of man, take up a lamentation upon the king of Tyrus, and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty.
13 Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone [was] thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created.
14 Thou [art] the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee [so]: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire.
15 Thou [wast] perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee.
16 By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire.
17 Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee to the ground, I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee.
18 Thou hast defiled thy sanctuaries by the multitude of thine iniquities, by the iniquity of thy traffick; therefore will I bring forth a fire from the midst of thee, it shall devour thee, and I will bring thee to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all them that behold thee.
19 All they that know thee among the people shall be astonished at thee: thou shalt be a terror, and never [shalt] thou [be] any more.
Satan was apparently part of the holy Host around the throne of God but his pride and desire to be more than that ruined him.
Isaiah 14:12 How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! [how] art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! 13 For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: 14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. 15 Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit. 16 They that see thee shall narrowly look upon thee, [and] consider thee, [saying, Is] this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms;
It is important to see that both passages promise that Satan will not be, as we imagine, ruling in Hell. He will be the one suffering the most. Others in Hell will see him and be amazed how bad off he is. Satan is scary because we let him ruin us, but he has no power over us and his fate is certain.
Tue, Oct 25th - 8:26PM
We did a lesson a while back that used the game Jenga. I hope you know what it is, because that will make this a lot clearer (Basically, its a set of blocks that you stack and then see how many you can pull out of the stack before it falls over.)
We had a Jenga tournament. First I read Ephesians 4:16 "For Him,the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament,grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work." I talked about how our youth group is a church body, that it has to bond together, that every part contributes, and that we need to love each other. Then we played five rounds of Jenga. Each represented a principle of the body of Christ
First, we stacked the blocks and removed two of the bottom ones so that the stack was on a small, poor foundation. I talked about how the church had to be founded on Jesus, not on social events or fun or some leaders personality. Then I picked four volunteers and had them play against the handicap of having a bad foundation.
Second, we stacked the blocks very loosely and I talked about how we needed to bond to each other, not in cliques, to support each other. Then four more volunteers played under that handicap.
Third, we held the stack together and pulled out several blocks before we started the game. This illustrated what it was like when not everyone used their gifts to the building of the church. God has placed in a church all the gifts the church needs to thrive. Each one must use the gifts they were meant to contribute. The worst danger is when a pastor does all the ministry, and the people just watch. Four more volunteers played that game.
Finally we stacked it normally, and then blindfolded the four players. This one was especially fun to watch. It illustrated the importance of vision in the church, of following God's direction and seeking His will.
We went ahead and let the four winners play a normal game for the championship.
Wed, Oct 19th - 9:39AM
Report from the Pastor Search Committee:
We do not have a happy report to give. We have not been able to find a
suitable candidate for this church, though we have one promising prospect.
Thank you for your suggestions. We have followed up on each one with
interviews or by calling at least three references. The following is our
ADAM: Good man but has problems with his wife. One reference told us how he
and his wife enjoyed walking nude in the woods.
NOAH: Former pastorate of 120 years with no converts. Prone to unrealistic
JOSEPH: A big thinker, but a braggart; believes in dream interpreting and
has a prison record.
MOSES: A modest and meek man, but poor communicator; even stutters at times.
Sometimes blows his stack and acts rashly in business meetings. Some say he
left an earlier church over a murder charge.
DEBORAH: One word --- Female.
DAVID: The most promising leader of all until we discovered the affair he
had with his neighbor's wife.
SOLOMON: Great preacher, but serious woman problem.
ELIJAH: Prone to depression; collapses under pressure.
HOSEA: A tender and loving pastor, but our people could never handle his
JONAH: Told us he was swallowed up by a great fish. He said the fish later
spit him out on the shore near here. We hung up.
AMOS: Too much of a country hick. Backward and unpolished. With some
seminary training, he might have promise; but he has a hang-up against
JOHN: Says he is a Baptist, but doesn't dress like one. May be too
Pentecostal. Tends to lift both hands in the air to worship when he gets
excited. You know we limit to one hand. Sleeps in the outdoors, has a weird
diet, and provokes denominational leaders.
PETER: Too blue collar. Has a bad temper, even said to have cursed. He's a
PAUL: Powerful CEO type and fascinating preacher. However, he's short on
tact, unforgiving with young ministers, harsh, and has been known to preach
TIMOTHY: Too young.
JESUS: Has had popular times, but once when his church grew to 5000, He
managed to offend them all; and his church dwindled down to twelve people.
Seldom stays in one place very long. And, of course, he is single.
JUDAS: His references are solid. A steady plodder. Conservative. Good
connections. Knows how to handle money. We're inviting him to preach this
Sunday in view of a call.
Mon, Oct 17th - 7:22PM
We had a missionary from Mexico at church this week. He is one of our favorite people. We have been to his site a few times, usally with teens. He works just over the border with the very poor and focuses on building native churches.
He started out by saying that one of the main reasons for poverty near the border is Christian charity. The poor have learned over the years that the worse off that they are, the more some Christian group is likely to come and give them stuff. Since they don't have a lot of great options otherwise. poverty is a good bet. We give them things often to make ourselves feel better. But he works with these people to try to get them in positions to be able to give themselves. We know that we are blessed by giving more than receiving, but we often only consider ourselves.
We go down there and build them a little house, give them food. It makes us feel generous, superior. It fits so much better in God's Kingdon to let them give too. After all, that is how they would grow. Rick takes small groups of teens into their homes and they feed us. When we take a group down there, his church there sees it as a ministry. They host us, and show us that having possessions isn't a requirement to loving God.
I have sometimes wondered about helping people. Do we do it out of compassion, or because it makes us feel special, needed. Do we show off our wisdom, or do we point them to God? I don't mean to make anyone feel guilty for doing good. It may be only something that I sometimes loose track of. I think probably, most of the time we do it right, for the right reasons. Its just something we need to keep in mind. Who is getting the glory, me or God?
Mon, Oct 10th - 1:14PM
For yesterday's college group, bought Taryn two dozen roses of various colors and set them in the middle of the group.
[ I took the opportunity to explain to the guys in the room that flowers are perfect, even occasionally necessary, for almost every woman I know. That they are perfect because they aren't practical. Contrary to our manly logic, which demands things have some real purpose, flowers are romantic because they just look nice, can't be played with, and will soon die.]
But that wasn't the lesson. We admired the roses. Then I read Romans 1:20
"For since the creation of the world, God's invisible qualities - his eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen, being uderstood from what he has made, so that men are without excuse"
"What things can an unsaved person learn about God from the fact that he created these roses?" They answered that God is creative, likes color, variety, details and contrasts. That He loves us enough to create beauty, to amuse our senses. He wants our lives to be more than mundane, black and white. That even beautiful things come with a downside (thorns).
"What important things can't you learn form them?" They had a little trouble shifing from the deep, implied answers to the simple. But soon said that we are sinners. That Jesus came to make a way for our sins to be forgiven.
So, people are "without excuse" for not knowing from creation, that there is a God. And that he cares about us personally. Anyone who knows that there is a huge, powerful, loving creator of the universe is without excuse if he doesn't then seek that god.
Maybe not the greatest lesson, but an excuse to give Taryn flowers.
Net week I'm thinking of trying to do something on Pontius Pilate and ending with each person having a chance to "wash their hands" of something. What do you think?
Sun, Oct 9th - 12:52AM
I think its great that some of you have been touched by the lyrics that I've put here. They are all from Christian Rock. This one is by Superchick and has helped our family get through Sue's death.
Beauty From Pain
The lights go out all around me
One last candle to keep out the night
And then the darkness surrounds me
I know I'm alive
But I feel like I've died
And all that's left is to accept that it's over
My dreams ran like sand through the fists that I made
I try to keep warm but I just grow colder
I feel like I'm slipping away
After all this has passed
I still will remain
After I've cried my last
There'll be beauty from pain
Though it won't be today
Someday I'll hope again
And there'll be beauty from pain
You will bring beauty from my pain
My whole world is the pain inside me
The best I can do is just get through the day
When life before is only a memory
I wonder why God let me walk through this place
And though I can't understand why this happened
I know that I will when I look back someday
And see how You've brought beauty from ashes
And made me as gold purified through these flames
Here and I am at the end of me (at the end of me)
Trying to hold to what I can't see
I forgot how to hope
This night's been so long
I cling to your promise there will be a dawn
Wed, Oct 5th - 8:44PM
Did you guys notice that there's 100 of us members now? Happy century mark!
Lee's "boat post" the other day reminded me of this old song.
Steven Curtis Chapman and James Isaac Elliott)
[Luke 9:62, Philippians 3:12-14, John 10:10]
In the spring of 1519 a Spanish fleet set sail
Cortez told his sailors this mission must not fail
On the eastern shore of Mexico they landed with great dreams
But the hardships of the new world make them restless and weak
Quietly they whispered, "Let's sail back to the life we knew"
But the one who led them there was saying
Burn the ships, we're here to stay
There's no way we could go back
Now that we've come this far by faith
Burn the ships, we've passed the point of no return
Our life is here
So let the ships burn
In the spring of new beginnings a searching heart set sail
Looking for a new life and a love that would not fail
On the shores of grace and mercy we landed with great joy
But an enemy was waiting to steal, kill, and destroy
Quietly he whispers, "Go back to the life you know"
But the one who led us here is saying
Nobody said it would be easy
But the one who brought us here
Is never gonna leave us alone
Tue, Oct 4th - 7:55PM
2 Samuel 24:
18 On that day Gad went to David and said to him, "Go up and build an altar to the LORD on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite." 19 So David went up, as the LORD had commanded through Gad. 20 When Araunah looked and saw the king and his men coming toward him, he went out and bowed down before the king with his face to the ground.
21 Araunah said, "Why has my lord the king come to his servant?"
"To buy your threshing floor," David answered, "so I can build an altar to the LORD, that the plague on the people may be stopped."
22 Araunah said to David, "Let my lord the king take whatever pleases him and offer it up. Here are oxen for the burnt offering, and here are threshing sledges and ox yokes for the wood. 23 O king, Araunah gives all this to the king." Araunah also said to him, "May the LORD your God accept you."
24 But the king replied to Araunah, "No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing."
I always think of this passage as part of why God thought of David as "after God's own heart". He wants to make a sin offering to God because there is a plauge on Isreal because of his sin. He finds the perfect spot and asks "how much?" The owner, being a good subject of the king, says "just take it". But David knows that no offering means anything if sacrifice isn't part of it.
Most of us balk at doing something for Him if it starts to really cost us. "No, that would take too much of my time." "I'd have to pay out of my pocket to do that." "That would be degrading." Yet even our simple worship should cost us. The beginning of worship needs to be the realization of how awesome God is, and as a result how small we are. It starts by costing us our pride, our independence, our time, our rights.
But how wrong a cheap offering to God would be. Imagine giving someone important something that you got for free. Imagine saying, "Oh Lord, I found this on the sidewalk a few minutes ago. Here you can have it." There are many different ways to worship. With our voices, words, time, service, money etc. But if it comes too easily, if we do it only because it feels good to do, it's wrong. It's a missed opportunity.
Back to Blog Main Page