We were missionaries in Guatemala where they don’t really celebrate Halloween. One year our annual Bible conference coincided with Halloween, so Rebekah, then 10, got to go door-to-door trick-or-treating for the first time. It happened to be immediately upon arrival. She was young enough to not remember the previous years.
The next day, she asked, “Can we go door-to-door again and get more candy?”
Rebekah thought that everyday in the United States, kids go door-to-door and gather candy. It’s just a normal part of everyday American life. Because she couldn’t remember the previous year’s experiences, she didn’t realize we didn’t do that the year before.
We ought to come to church expecting candy every time. God has a treat for us if we want it. If you come to church miserable, you’ll probably go home empty-handed. God wants to delight you every time.
What do Christians have to do with the “devil’s day?” More than you might think.
First of all, the devil has no day. Every day belongs to Jesus.
Second, Christians are told to crucify their flesh, to live spiritual, not carnal lives. The sinner gives free reign to his flesh. There’s no death going on as you’re getting drunk with plastic vampire teeth in your mouth. The blood is fake.
But what Christians are doing is real. These verses sounds pretty Halloweeny:
We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—
In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. — Ro. 6:4, 6, 11 NIV.
Do you think your party celebrating death-things is cool once a year? You should celebrate a real death 52 times a year (every Sunday).
… you should’ve seen the horror that every demon felt when Jesus rose from the dead.
It was over for them, and they knew it. If they couldn’t stop Jesus by killing Him, they couldn’t stop him anyway.
Personally, I don’t like horror movies. Even the picture I selected for this blog repels me. But there are people addicted to the adrenaline rush of scary.
Demons are supposed to be scary. But do you realize that they got scared the day their plan to eliminate Jesus collapsed? They had killed Him, but He resurrected. It was a devil’s day for the devil.
I guess I can’t say it scared the hell out of them, because they’re still hellish, and Hell’s their home eternally.
The unscary news is that YOU don’t have to go to Hell. You can go to Heaven. And pretty much all you have to do is ask for forgiveness for sins to Jesus. Receive Him in your heart. And start a new life with Him.
A different kind of zombie. This is the me, the man behind the Mustard Seed Budget.
Ummmm, I guess I shouldn’t loathe zombies so much.
In my generation, zombies were the bad guys. They were to be feared.
To my chagrin, when I come back 16 years after being on the mission field, and now zombies are good guys. Everybody is fascinated by them. They dress up like them for Halloween. Lots of movies and video games are about them.
So I’m trying to understand the cultural shift. And as I think about zombies, I realize they’re kind of Christian. I mean, what is Christianity about except coming back from the dead.
So… I’m going to be a zombie.
But unlike the zombies of popular culture, I’m not going to be bloodied and gored. In fact, I’m going to have the best most youthful version of my body, made of glorified matter, in Heaven.
As you celebrate Halloween, I invite you to think not on the fantasy but the reality of coming back from the dead. As you prepare for Halloween, why don’t you also prepare for the reality of the Judgement before Christ.
Accept Jesus into your heart today. Ask forgiveness of your sins. Begin to pursue God in your thoughts and actions. Be a real zombie.
When it comes to viewing God, some people are like the dog and others like the cat. The dog loves his master, waits patiently for him, serves him gladly. The cat thinks he is the master, that all the care and food that his owner lavishes on him means he is god.
Sadly, too much of American Christianity is self-serving. Now it’s true that God wants to bless his children. But sometimes He gives them trials. And ultimately, we are to serve Him, even sacrifice ourselves to get the gospel out.
I’m not talking about “losing yourself” in love. That’s easy.
I’m talking about getting rid of self-importance, putting others first, giving of yourself and not minding if no one takes note. Yeah, not standing up for your rights.
Perhaps this is the hardest. Satan’s temptation to Eve and Adam was to put themselves first: God was being a killjoy not letting them “become like Him knowing good and evil.” Wow, that’s alluring, to be like God!
Don’t degrade the human race’s father and mother though. We all do it every day.
from blog.adw.org. I don’t own the rights to this image, and I’m not making any money on it.
For God to get Jacob into right relationship with Him, He literally fights against the mortal.
Jacob was a acute and chronic bad boy. He took advantage of this brother, Esau, in a moment of weakness. He deceives his dad and steals his brother’s blessing. He’s the most unscrupulous conniver of the Old Testament.
God works on him. First, he sends him away from his family for 20 years. He can’t attend his mom’s funeral. Then he’s tricked by his uncle, for whom he worked seven years to marry Rachel. When he wakes up the morning after the wedding (lighting was bad in those days), it’s Leah, the ugly older sister. He must work another seven years for Rachel.
Then he’s cheated on wages. When he flees, his uncle comes after him and very nearly kills him.
Still, Jacob is unrepentant.
Then Jacob’s brother comes out with a small army to kill the defenseless Jacob. That night, it finally occurs to Jacob to pray. He literally wrestles with God, a symbol of how his relationship with God has been. God, obviously, wins, but not without some stubborn resistance from the stubborn man.
The next day, Esau’s 400-man army comes upon him — and God miraculously intervenes. Instead of killing him in short order, Esau breaks down and kisses him. It wasn’t the bonds of family that beat the bonds of bitterness. It was God.
How far will God have to go to get your attention?
Shakespeare’s MacBeth starts with good intentions. He defends the king from a traitor. When he’s promised the kingdom, he swears off procuring it himself. If it falls to him, he’ll take it.
But the good intentions soured. Dark ambition took over his heart. When the king visited his castle, MacBeth killed him and made it look like it had been the king’s own guards. As next in line to the throne, MacBeth got the crown.
All his bases were covered except his conscience. He hallucinates that his hands are covered with blood. Then he argues with the ghost of the king in front of his friends. His kingship was short. What’s ill-attained quickly will go up in smoke.
Pic from gratitude-alittlegoesalongway.blogspot.com. I don’t own the rights to this image, nor am I making any money on it.
No sooner was the cupbearer freed from jail than he forgot his promise to help Joseph, who had interpreted his dream. Joseph had been imprisoned under false accusation. God was with nevertheless, even though the cupbearer forgot his debt for Joseph’s interpretation of the dream that Pharaoh would free him.
TWO YEARS LATER, Pharaoh has a dream that none of his sorcerers can interpret. Only then does the cupbearer remember his faults and tells Pharaoh about Joseph, who is promptly freed, washed, shaved and ushered into Pharaoh’s presence. He interprets Pharaoh’s dream, and his fortunes are changed.
Sadly, most of us fall in with the cupbearer. God has given us so many good things, and we don’t want to remember or acknowledge our debt of gratitude to Him.
Hope your family. Chance to get married. Dismal finances. Failing health. Forgiveness.
You may feel its too far gone. Happy days or wonderful dreams now seem other-worldly.
Such was the case of Jacob. His favorite son, Joseph, disappeared years ago, apparently victim to a savage animal. His other sons brought him proof of the horrid incident: a bloodied garment.
FOURTEEN YEARS later, Joseph surfaces in Egypt. He never was killed. He was sold in slavery. He’s been promoted to prime minister of Egypt. Jacob simply can’t believe his ears. He gave up hope so long ago and resigned himself to bitterness that now he dares not believe the report.
God has a way of bringing back to you impossibly lost days and dreams. That’s why you need to keep believing.
Jepthah was run off by his brothers. He was an illegitimate son. When he became a man, he carried out great exploits, vanquishing Israel. But he never healed his hurting heart, and in consequence rejected his daughter. His lack of family love led him to a wrong-headed idea of an unloving God. He made a stupid vow (to sacrifice whatever came first out of his house to greet him when he returned victorious from battle) and instead of repenting and recanting his vow, he stupidly carried it out. He killed his daughter.
The greatest danger of rejection is NOT how lousy we feel. It is that we will do the same to others. As the saying goes, hurting people hurt people.
Supposedly, the church is a refuge for hurting people. Instead, it turns into a lair of cruel critics. I don’t leave the church because there is no where better to go. After all, Christ left His church. Nothing else.
I wish to be different: loving, accepting, patient, comprehending, optimistic with people, seeing the positive and not the negative.
Don’t think I’m touchy-feeling. The naked truth is I have rejected too many people in my time. God, forgive!
I am determined to change. I am determined to praise my children instead of criticizing them. I am decided to see good in everybody, to be patient with problems, to love the unlovable. It is not easy. I must pray every day before the day begins because, if not, bile flows from this wicked mouth of mine.
True change is not a glib meme or a mantra. It takes work and, I believe, divine assistance.
A jigsaw puzzle piece decided he didn’t want to hang out with his brothers. He wanted to go off and discover his destiny elsewhere. Things were too rigid in the jigsaw puzzle. He wanted freedom. He knew that in the world he would make a huge splash and he didn’t need his fellow pieces.
And so, the beautiful picture had a glaring omission. Fellowship was broken, and God’s anointing, which flows where there is unity, was blocked. And the puzzle piece never was beautiful anywhere else.
God designed you for a purpose. You may have other dreams that can draw you away. You are most beautiful where God has placed you. Don’t drop out of church.
I don’t own the rights to this image. I got it from http://mafietta.com. I’m not making money on it.
All over the blogosphere, and talking to people outside of church, I find people who have been hurt in the very place where they should’ve been helped.
Honestly, we look more like the Pharisees than Jesus, who ate with tax-collectors and stopped stone-throwing at prostitutes. Of course, the Bible points to a moral standard that must be upheld by the church, but many times it’s simply a pastor’s ego, a leader’s power trip, that offends.
If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea — Matt. 18:6 NIV.
I haven’t left the church. I wish and pray to see the church changed.
Expecting to get some money, the crippled temple beggar directed his attention to Peter and John. Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk, Peter said in Acts 3:6 NIV.
He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God — Acts 3:8 NIV.
He got MUCH more from God than he expected.
Why do we downsize our prayers? Why down scale down our faith?
God is NOT:
offended if we ask big.
unable to give.
displeased by too much faith.
upset by our audacity.
budgeting his company.
on a diet Himself.
scrimping to make ends meet.
To the contrary, we are ordered to move mountains, not molehills.
Slaves were expected to perform grudgingly, only under fear of whipping, so when Joseph showed up whistling at his work, his boss was taken aback. Joseph made all the other slaves look bad because he did more work, did a better job, got things cleaner, cooked better. Whatever task he was assigned, he outdid expectations.
Eventually, Potiphar promoted him to managing director, in charge of his entire household.
As Christians, we should exceed expectations regularly. In our service in church, on outreach in the field, taking care of the needy of the world, we must strive for excellence and not offer a second-best or good-enough “sacrifice with blemish.”
At the end of 13 years of this trial, Joseph went from slave to vice president. God saw his faithfulness and excellent service and promoted him. We can expect good things if we exceed expectations.
Cheryl Tormey (behind) and Dal Basile, Lighthouse Medical Missions volunteers, with food to be shipped out to Sierra Leone.
With Ebola on the one hand and beheadings on the other, Santa Monica-based Lighthouse Medical Missions cancelled its Fall trip and instead is sending a container of food and medical supplies to West Africa this week.
Dr. Robert Hamilton – a Santa Monica pediatrician who’s braved dangers since 1998 to provide care to some of the neediest people on the planet – was originally eying a trip to Lebanon to care for Syrian refugees. But then jihadists began killing Westerners in retaliation for the U.S.-led air war against the Islamic State.
On the other hand, the usual Fall trip to West Africa was also ruled out because of rampaging Ebola infections.
So Dr. Bob, as locals affectionately call him, figured he could do the most good by simply sending supplies to Sierra Leone, where he has contact with 100s of pastors and church members who virtually work as permanent Lighthouse staff to help local needs 365 days a year. Lighthouse Medical Missions has realized 20 clinics, almost all in Africa, at a total cost of $1.5 million, Dr. Bob said.
Read the rest of the article and find out how to pitch in: Help with Ebola.
Thanks to the producers of this TV series for the picture. I’m not making any money on it.
I would have been destroyed myriad times. But God has rescued me with his agents: Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit and His angels. It’s shocking how hell-bent and sin-prone I honestly am. I would have left the straight and narrow path many times. But I pray that God keeps me on track.
You through faith are SHIELDED by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. — 1 Peter 1:5 NIV my caps. More often than not, it is God who shields me from harm.
When you are a Christian, you come to depend on God’s loving protection, His grace, His conviction and re-orientation. We are not fighting alone. God is with us.
Flashy fashion or walk worn. What’s your ideal of beautiful feet?
How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of goodthings. — Rom. 10:15 KJV. Paul evokes the messenger of antiquity who came running with news of military victory. With the coming of his feet, anxiety gave way to exhilaration. Good news brought great joy.
The spreading of the gospel is like news of victory. We didn’t stand a military chance against Satan and sin, but Jesus intervened and won us the war. With the news, there is great rejoicing.
The first carriers of the gospel walked long distances to break pagans out of the ignorance. Instead of paparazzi, they were met with stone-throwers. They sacrificed because the bore good news and hungered to share it.
Even today, there is much sacrifice to do to get the good word out.
Luis Suarez is one of the strongest finishers in soccer.
Useless is the team that defends well, keeps possession, gets to goal, but then can’t put the ball in the net. Every team has the need for a strong finisher, someone who consistently strikes on target, someone who bamboozles the goalie.
The finisher may not dribble well, may not pass well, may not have great stamina. That’s not his job. His is to finish all the work up to the goal.
As Christians, we need to be strong finishers. It’s useless to a meteoric rise, a glorious carrying forth, only to die out at the end. God help me to be a strong finisher.
Larry Page, the leader of Google, tells his employees that every product they make must be 10X better than the competition. Next on the list of things for Google: self-driving cars, wearable computers, mapping the human race’s DNA code. He’s eternally dissatisfied, and that drives him to pursue greater heights. Mediocrity and modest gains be damned. Shoot for the moon.
As Christians, we should have vision and dream big. What is keeping us from bigger things? Many times our own scaled-down vision. Read more about Larry Page. It inspired me.
Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. — Mark 11:23 NIV.
As a sandanista, Alex had a super strict commander. Good thing too, because other platoons woke up to find two-thirds their throats slit. The contras in the Nicaraguan civil war of the 1980s took advantage of any platoon with sleeping guards. They slipped in, put one hand over the sleeper’s mouth and with the other cut his throat. It was a noiseless death that allowed them to move to the next and the next, killing 100s, and slink out before dawn. Because Alex’s commander maintained strict discipline, his platoon never fell victim. They were vigilant.
And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants. — Luke 12:38 NIV.
As a Christian, I feel like I’ve dropped my guard, eased off the gas pedal — now in the second watch of my life. I’m 47.
On my first watch, as pastor in Guatemala, I was diligent in prayer and the word. Forced to return to the United States four years ago, I don’t get much “playing time.” Consequently, I’ve toned down the regimen. And I feel bad.
We go through different seasons in life. In my “first watch,” the souls of Guatemala took priority. Now in my “second watch,” my kids get it. God is doing wonderful things in their lives. Can I keep following hard after the Lord?
When Henry got saved, he announced his intention to play football next year. I know football runs deep in our church and school since our head pastor was an NFL player, but is football part of conversion?
Not only did the 100-pound kid follow through, he also convinced three other Chinese students in our Santa Monica Christian school, the Lighthouse, to also play. At first these inexperienced players weren’t much help. They stood around and wondered what to do. Their limited English impeded their learning the game. Game after game, the Saints got overrun.
No more. In fact, it was the Chinese to tilted Saturday’s game. Raymond, a student I host, snagged not one but two late interceptions that helped the Saints overcome the deficit and win. Woohoo! This is the way to evangelize!
When three years ago, Ricky Rand got his shoulder dislocated and was writing on the ground in pain, I thought it would play into my hand. I was doing everything I could to dissuade Rob, my son, from playing football. After all, he’s a soccer player. Our small Christian school would just have to do without him. But Rob wanted to play.
As we walked back to the car, I leaned over to my son, then in the 8th grade, and asked if he still wanted to play, after seeing the upperclassman in excruciating pain.
“Yes. I’m going to do that to the other team.”
Rob won our standoff. I struck a deal with him. I would not sign the medical release form unless he worked out as hard as he could all summer long. I had the vague notion that muscle keeps bones and joints together.
Today Rob is a junior. In last night’s victory against La Verne Calvary Baptist, my son scored six touchdowns. While other kids played videogames, he ran. While other kids watched T.V., he pumped iron.
There is a principle here. Prepare, prepare, prepare if you want to prevail.
If you don’t want to be hurt by the devil, you have to hurt him.
She chooses poverty, discrimination and likely abuse all to be with her widowed mother-in-law, Naomi. What gets into Ruth to leave behind the connections and culture of Moab and go to Bethlehem, where she has no chances?
Without any job opportunities, she decides to “glean” behind the harvesters, a back-breaking sun-scorching 12 hours of picking up dropped grains in which you’d expect to get about one meal for one person. A panhandler in the U.S. fares far better.
Yet she was hot. Since she was a foreigner, someone could have taken advantage of her, and she couldn’t expect legal protections. Ruth opened herself to all these dangers and adversities to be loyal to her new family and serve God.
God has a way of honoring those who honor Him. Boaz takes note of her sacrifice and kindness rendered to her mother-in-law. Eventually he marries her. As a result, her finances and future are secured.
I want to thank whoever originated this image. It is stirring. I don’t own its rights, and I’m not making any money on it.
Two widely used Old Testament terms appear synonymous.
the Day of the Lord
the Day of His Visitation.
In fact, they are polar opposites. The first is for judgement, the second, mercy.
Why do you long for the day of the Lord? That day will be of darkness, not light — Amos 5:18 NIV. By contrast, Naomi fled famine in Bethlehem to Moab, but when she heard the Lord had “visited” her people by giving them rain (food), she returned (Ruth 1:6).
This is more than delving into Scripture deeper than most people care for because of the Day of our Lord Jesus. Was Jesus’ advent a “Day of the Lord” or a “Day of His Visitation?”
The answer is both. His incarnation, crucifixion and resurrection was God’s judgement on the world, diverted onto Christ. It was also God’s favor because we were lavished with His grace — His restoring forgiveness.
Such Bible study should stir us to praise as we marvel over the wonderful conclusion that Jesus Christ brought to the progressive revelation in the Old Testament.
Now that my eldest is 18, I don’t automatically get to spend time with her. I have to ask for time with her. I’m inviting her to coffee.
She’s in college, though still at home. But she has friends, new and old. She has homework. She has a job. It almost seems like she doesn’t have time for Dad.
No longer do I tell her what to do. She’s an adult. I ask her what she’s doing.
I just want to be with her, to listen to her, to joke with her. I don’t want to be shut out of Rebekah’s life. I long to be with her. This is teaching me about God.
God spent the afternoons walking around talking to Adam and Eve. Managing all the affairs of the universe probably took the morning. The afternoons He saved to be with His children. He yearned to spend time with them. This is not religion; it is relationship.
But Adam and Eve shut out God by sinning.
He still longs to be with us. Through the death and resurrection of Jesus, we are granted access to God, if we want it. Do we have time for Him?
>God is not a bunch of rules — He just wants to share a veinte java chip with you.
It almost seems like John the Baptist got it wrong.
Rattling off ominous predictions of imminent doom, John warned that Jesus’ advent would mark the end.
The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire — Matt. 3:10, 12 NIV.
Jesus failed to live up to his billing. The meanest thing he ever did was overturn the tables of the money changers in the temple. When it came to violent confrontation, he meekly handed himself over to death — hardly the expected judgement.
But no, John didn’t miss the mark. The threatened judgement DID fall, and the wrath of God DID execute implacable justice.
It’s just it didn’t fall on the guilty. It fell on Jesus.
That horrible death of Jesus. The ax fill on the root, on the root of Jesse. The burning scorched Jesus.
Jesus was the soldier who threw himself on the hand grenade to save his buddies, you and me.
Genuine yet regarded as an impostor — 2 Cor. 6:8 NIV
Despite your sincerest efforts, people will doubt you. It happened to the Apostle Paul. He was accused of being a false apostle because he didn’t want gentiles to get circumcised. (He was vindicated by the head honchos in Jerusalem, but still itinerant preachers cast doubt over his person.)
If it happened to Paul, to Job, to Jeremiah, to Daniel, to Amos, to David, to … to JESUS, why be surprised if it happens to you.
This is not to say that you, or anyone, is perfect. It is only to say that we live in a fallen world, and we are not the only ones to possess a cynical sin nature. Others can view us how they want.
In those moments, may our God strengthen us to keep fighting the fight of faith, to keep trying, to not give up.
It’s not just a matter of surviving but surviving well.
They didn’t even smell of smoke. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego had been thrown into the fire by the despot. While inside, they walked around with Jesus and suffered no harm. King Nebuchadnezzar beckoned them out. Astonished, he forgot all about their disobedience in not bowing to his idol. He recognized that Jehovah was the only true God.
They not only survived, but they survived well. No smell of smoke on them.
Joseph survived prison well. He didn’t execute bitter revenge on his brothers who sold him into slavery.
As the years pile up, we pass through evil, wrongs perpetrated by family or friends. The challenge is not go cynical. The challenge is have the light-hearted delight for life of a child still.
It’s one thing for young pups in love to send each other “forever” memes. We need to see older mature (?) married couples still in love. My wife and I celebrate 24 years this month. Praise God! It is not always easy but always worth it to work on it instead of throwing it away. My kids agree too.
Katy Faust, who valiantly reaches out to gays with compassion and truth, visited our school. It is the second time I’ve been blessed with a fellow blogger coming to talk to the Christian students. Raised by a lesbian mom, she has the credibility to bring some balance to the national maelstorm raging over “equality.”
On the one side, there are Christians who condemn gays and forget that we are all sinners needing forgiveness. On the other side, there are gays who say you are a hater if you believe the Bible. Increasingly in national media, the later dominant and the former are stereotyped. (Westboro does not represent Christianity.)
This blog has never touched the issue of homosexuality nor do I intend to treat it here, but I can recommend Katy’s blog, though its tongue-in-cheek title makes me cringe, here.
Thank you, Katy, for bringing balance and answering kids’ questions with empathy.
I’ve studied significantly the theme of the rapture in seminary, and I’m more a believer than ever in it. There’s just no other plausible interpretation of so many texts that talk about it, and it is consistent with the whole Bible (God removed Noah from his judgement).
There’s no need to fear if you fear God, but if you flout Him or defy Him, at least you know you had the chance to make a decision in favor of Christ.
They received a stern command. They were NOT to store manna for the next day. Nevertheless, some Israelites disobeyed, and the delightful food provided by God on one day was completely filled with maggots the next.
Herein lies a great Biblical truth. God has given you resources — money, talent, time, energy. Use it for God today. Don’t hold over for tomorrow because you might not get the chance. It might rot.
Too many Christians plan to give to God at some future date, whether their service or their offerings. Stop putting it off. Do it today. The suffering masses of humanity need to be reached today with the Good News. The need is not going to be more acute or chronic tomorrow (it will if you don’t give today what God has called you to give).