Tag Archives: christian life

how Christians can interact with Halloween

They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. John 17.16

Halloween

Images of trick-or-treaters dressed to the nines in Dorothy, princess, superhero and witch costumes, candy and carved pumpkins come to my mind.

And yet, I’m sure Christians around the world have heard it before:

“Don’t celebrate Halloween. It’s the Devil’s holiday…”

That thought never entered my mind until I got to college.

Just the other day, a friend said the same thing.

What happened? I mean, sure, there’s a lot of worldly things tied to the holiday itself, but where did the community aspect of it go? Is it even okay for us to have fun?

When I was a kid, my parents never taught me how to honor the “evil” side of Halloween. Sure, I knew about it, but we didn’t celebrate that. We celebrated community and shared relationships with one another. I have many good memories tied to this particular yearly event (outside of Christmas and Thanksgiving).

As a child, I remember dressing up as princesses, Raggedy Anne, Ariel (Disney’s Little Mermaid) and Belle (Beauty and the Beast) each year and going trick-or-treating in the small town where my family attended church.  It was harmless fun, plus, I got tons of candy, which went bad because I got sick of it after a while and probably led to all those pesky cavities…not to mention the inches on my adolescent waistline. But I digress…

A few years passed and somewhat similar costumes made their way back into my fall wardrobe, worn once a year, in the forms of witches, vampires and road kill during my high school and college years. I attended high school parties, held at school…I wasn’t the partying type although those occurred to, I’m sure, and festivities held at what will always be my first official home church when I moved to Brookings, SD. Trunk-or-Treat was the huge thing then…seemed fun, even though I never went.

And even now, as an adult, I do enjoy dressing up, for the fun of it, but opted not to today. I donned a simple, black turtleneck sweater and jeans this morning and chose one of the two pairs of “Halloween” earrings I own and dressed down. There’s still the office Halloween potluck, put on by the Team Member Engagement Committee, of which I’m very active in and a party with my church crew tomorrow evening…perhaps then I’ll don my Merida costume in every effort to live the life of a Scottish princess for a few hours.

One hot topic that is continuously brought to the table: Christians shouldn’t have anything to do with Halloween. I’ve taken part in conversations with friends who share what they’re doing instead, but, in thinking about my past experience with the day and the festivities our culture has around it, I discovered one common thread: relationships.

When I was a child, we went door to door. Even the cranky, old man living in the darkest house on the corner joined the world in handing out candy. We related.

In high school, college and today, those parties and festivities were held to connect with people.

Yes, God commands in his Word that we should be in the world, and not of it, but he doesn’t demand us to hide from it (John 15.19, 17.16, Romans 12.2).

I’m called to be involved.

To be interested in…

To reach out…

To relate…

To get my hands and feet dirty…

I stumbled on an article conveying just that thought this morning at Relevant Magazine, found here. David Valentine writes about his home state of Texas, how they observe Halloween and how other churches across the country view the holiday in general. He also makes a valid point that Christmas has its origins in pagan religions and how Christians don’t seem to shy away from that holiday.

He points out that while steering clear of the things of this world, we shouldn’t lock ourselves away and how we should instead get our hands dirty:

“In our increasingly fast paced society, we see less and less of our neighbors. Whether you live in a high-rise in the city or your closest neighbor is a mile down the dirt road on the left, we are more disengaged with society than ever before…it becomes increasingly difficult to take time to engage with our neighbors.

Halloween is a once-a-year opportunity where everyone is out and about. Children with parents in tow are running door to door (or trunk to trunk) for the next bit of free candy. The cranky old man turns his porch light on and gives out candy by the handful. Not to mention, someone in the neighborhood, there is a party happening…”

Valentine poses this question: What if the Church stopped being afraid of the world on Halloween and began to engage it?

What if?

What would that look like?

What if we allowed God to take something meant for evil iand spin it around for good?

What if?

We need to step up and redefine the way we interact with Halloween and we need to find a way to include the gospel in doing so. Could that mean handing out candy or other goodies, including healthy options? Sure.

We need to engage with our neighborhoods and surrounding community.

Our children get dressed up (because it’s fun) and go door to door asking for candy.

We choose to sit on our front lawns and talk with our neighbors.

We revamp the way we see Halloween and not view it as just another day, but rather one day a year when all of our neighbors are out in the streets. We have a unique opportunity to interact with everyone.

Here’s an idea: throw a Halloween block party every year for the kids in your community. People will show up to play games, get candy and hear the Gospel…just a thought.

Valentine closes with this thought and I couldn’t agree more:

“If you feel convicted that you shouldn’t celebrate Halloween, you certainly don’t have to. But perhaps you should reconsider how you can use the opportunities the holiday provides to reach other. If nothing else,  Halloween is a day designed by our culture to engage with our neighbors. Perhaps instead of condemning the “evils” of Halloween, or even simply turning off the front porch light on October 31, you should consider giving our candy and chatting with your neighbors or inviting everyone to a party…engage with your community. Who knows, you may have the joy of watching the resurrected Jesus bring those who are dead to life.”

And what greater joy is there than that?

Recommended further reading here.

my favorite mug

I recently stumbled on a beautiful metaphor that I, a regular coffee and cocoa drinker, could really relate to. Perhaps you can too:

“Maybe you have a favorite old mug. Into it you pour your morning coffee, your afternoon tea, or your bedtime cocoa. It might be stained, dulled by many washings, chipped, or cracked – but it still warms your hand as you enjoy its contents day by day.

That mug is like you. Outwardly we show the chips and cracks of everyday wear and tear, but inwardly we are renewed daily with the outpouring of the Spirit. Just before this promise of renewal, the apostle Paul described us as “jars of clay” (2 Corinthians 4.7), perhaps thinking about Adam being fashioned from the dust of the earth. We are indeed earthen vessels [much like that favorite mug], but don’t focus on the fading exterior. Feel the warmth of what God is pouring into you.”

What is he pouring into your life? There’s so much going on in my own that I don’t know where to start. I will share one day soon.

a foundational prayer life

Don’t pray when you feel like it. Have an appointment with the Lord and keep it. A man is powerful on his knees. – Corrie Ten Boom

I once had a Sunday school teacher equate prayer to an invisible phone line that went up to heaven. It was her cheesy explanation of how prayer works. The difference being that there were no busy signals and, with today’s technology, nor would there be warnings of a battery dying or calls dropping.

I can honestly say that I’ve since learned that prayer isn’t like that at all. God does not work that way. He longs for a relationship with each of His children; one where the child is changed.

We’re currently studying a portion of the life of Daniel at my church here in the Twin Cities (Daniel 6:1-17 if you’d like to check it out) and the idea of having a foundational prayer life (living in such a way that my relationship with God is the foundation, the rock, on which I stand) was brought to light for me this past Sunday through the gift God gave one of my closest friends. (Sermon can be heard here, located under “Heroes of Faith: Daniel”.) Through this study on this particular hero of faith, we were drawn to verse 10, which ends with “Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before.”

Did you catch that?

Just as he had done before…

Prayer wasn’t something new for Daniel. Prayer was an act he practiced each and every day.

Just as he had done before…

Prayer changed him from the inside out.

Just as he had done before…

Talk about commitment!

Daniel maintained a healthy fear of God, which kept his fear in the right place. He wasn’t afraid of what this world could do to him.

God never demanded that Daniel get on his knees three times a day. He didn’t have to – it was his delight. No government decree could keep him from praying to [God], loving Him, seeking Him, worshiping Him. He was much more committed to God’s eternal glory than to his personal survival.” – Scotty Smith

For Daniel, prayer wasn’t based on his situation; it was the foundation on which everything else was built. When the situations in his life changed, how he related to God remained constant. It never changed.

Being obedient to God also led to his safety in the lion’s den (punishment for going against the new rule King Darius put in writing). It was through his prayer life that Daniel’s faith was strengthened and he was able to face certain death to proclaim the name of His God. Oh, if I were to be that bold and daring!

Events, people and situations change, but our relationship with God stays the same. – Rick Wipf & Ben Gietzen

We live in a country where we can freely worship and pray. There are countless believers around the world who are persecuted for their faith, even to the point of death, and they never renounce the name of Jesus as Lord. I also know that we won’t have religious freedom forever…the Bible says so. We must understand that culture doesn’t dictate how we live out our faith. We live our faith out based on God. The rest is just the details.

I long for that in my own life: that consistency, both on my part and coming to the full knowledge of how constant and good God is.

Prior to my college career, I used to pray when I or someone else needed something. I also prayed out of habit before I went to bed and before each meal…that was what I was taught and I obeyed because it was expected. Now that I’ve been learning to move beyond the legality of religion and into the freedom of Jesus Christ, I still pray for blessing over my meals – but not all the time. The guilt that used to come with missing it faded away. Instead, prayer is now a constant in my everyday life. I’m constantly thinking about, focusing on and searching for God throughout most of my day. I say most because, yes, I do fall. I get distracted by the millions of things that bombard me: my responsibilities, that text message coming in, an email, the next phone call. Thing is, I get to choose to come back; to reel my focus back to Whom it belongs.

Prayer is of the utmost importance. It’s not an end even though we tend make it one. It’s the primary means by which we communicate to and relate with God. We cannot develop their spiritual life and grow in actually knowing Jesus Christ in a personal and intimate way if we don’t spend time with Him. We are given the ability to overcome temptation and grow in holiness when we continue to come before Him in prayer, day in and day out. And we become more like Him.

Have you ever heard the phrase “you become like those you spend time with”? It’s true. The more time you spend with God, the more you become like Him. Prayer allows Him to change you from the inside out.

Have you ever just hung out with Jesus?

What does that look like in your life?

For me, it’s a continuous conversation that gets picked up frequently throughout my day. It occurs when I first crawl out of bed in the morning and continues when I’m on my way to work. It happens when I’m talking to a distressed caller. I even carry that conversation when I’m at the gym. You get the idea.

Some may view this as a waste of time and would argue that you can’t “hear” God talk back to you. I’ve even been asked, “Why risk looking like a lunatic who talks to herself?”

I can’t help but laugh…and not this sarcastic laugh either. It’s the deep, joyous kind of laugh because I know His voice. I’ve heard it. I’ve felt His Spirit stir within my heart and soul.

I’ve leaned in.

Close.

I’ve discovered a thing or two about Him and how He relates to me. 

He greets me with the sunrise each morning, even on cloudy days.

He pours His love over me through His Word with each piece of scripture I meditate on to kick off my day.

He reminds of my purpose the minute I open the daily Scripture emails I receive.

He shows me glimpses of His glory when a cardinal or purple finch lands on my balcony.

He soothes my soul with the whisperings of His Spirit when I am at a loss for words. Have you ever sat in silence before God? Sure, it’s intimidating not knowing what He will do when we drop the walls on the box we tend to continuously put Him in, but in doing so, He moves in ways we cannot comprehend. It’s satisfying. It’s fulfilling.

And more often than not, He speaks to me through the music I choose to listen to; He always has. It’s through songs like “Unstoppable Love” by Kim Walker-Smith, “How He Loves” by David Crowder, “I Will Rise” by Chris Tomlin and more that make me stop and think. They set my emotions on ablaze; passions stir and the next I know, I’ve got “spirit-flesh” (a.k.a. goose bumps/chills).

And as for the lunatic thing: well, I wish I didn’t have to break it to you, but with the technology of the Bluetooth and smart phones, I’ve seen my fair share of people who look like they’re talking to themselves. I should be able to blend right in! Welcome to the twenty-first century. But then, most of my conversation with God occurs in my mind and in my heart.  And it is my hope that I will choose, starting today, to be more intentional when it comes to my prayer life; to delight in Him always.

How about you? Have you experienced God today? Have you simply knelt before Him in silence, allowing Him to speak into your life; into your heart?

Don’t simply base it on your situation, depending on where you are at in life and what you’re struggling/dealing with.  Actively seek to put prayer at the foundation of your relationship with God. Pray based on where you are in this moment, and the next. Be intentional about making the time to hang out with Him. Is life good? Thank and praise Him! Are things hard? Seek counsel, wisdom and comfort from Him. And sometimes, you may simply need to “be still and know that He is God.” Take delight in your God.

 If what God thinks matters most, then you consult Him most. If what God does matters most, then you ask Him to act first. In other words, you live your life by prayer. – Scotty Smith