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Should Christians Celebrate Halloween…

     It’s not a question. I’m not asking if Christians should celebrate it. I’m making a conditional charge: should you do x, y will happen. How often do we seriously consider the ramifications of our ways? I have often been very much like Peter – act first, think later. As time has gone by and God has begun shifting my focus from playing to an audience of men to playing to an audience of Him, I’ve also begun learning restraint, prudence, and consequence: I’m considering my ways and how they impact His bigger picture.

     Should we celebrate Halloween, something will result. Bottom line, is that something “Glory to God” or “Not glory to God”?


     I, being so very ADD, get off task often. On track or off track has everything to do with purpose: “What is your purpose on this earth?” If you believe that Christ is Lord and God sent Him to save sinners bound for hell, it’s not a big leap to assume you believe God’s purpose for man is to love God and to worship and enjoy Him forever. This is called a “doxological” statement, meaning – it’s about God’s glory. Are we here to glorify God or not? If so, then anything we do that doesn’t point toward the glory of God is a rabbit trail, resulting in either sin or error. By the grace and power of God, He can and will redeem it, regardless. (Another story for another time.)

     I’m reading Justin Holcomb’s post, a guy that I like and genuinely believe to be a clear thinker, but I think he’s just wrong on this one. He quotes Nicholas Roger’s book, which charges that the Celtic Samhain was not a holiday based on human sacrifice. Holcomb seems to dismiss the argument against the pagan roots of Halloween in favor of the early church celebration of the martyrs of the Roman persecutions. But, he agrees with Rogers that about 500 years later it had become “a holiday that affirmed the collective claims that the dead had on the living.” So, let’s throw out the most common objection to celebrating Halloween “it’s rooted in pagan tradition”. No problem, we won’t cavel over that one.

     With that point off the table, can I just play the village idiot and ask a question: “If a holiday started out as a Holy Day dedicated to honoring the saints persecuted by the Romans but took on an alternative meaning linked to “claims the dead had on the living”, has the holiday been hijacked? If so, how do we reclaim its original meaning without getting knocked off our own course? More to my opening point: “How does wearing a costume, indulging ourselves with more candy anyone can safely metabolize in a year, and decorating our homes with pagan symbolism (ghosts, which are not departed loved ones, rather demons impersonating loved ones, witches – which we’re clearly forbidden from emulating, bats, black cats, and other symbols which point only toward a culture of darkness), bring glory to God?”

     I’m not being a smarty-pants. I’m sincerely trying to advance my own understanding of this issue. I agree with Holcomb and guys like Mark Driscoll who try to fit culture into the 3r’s receive, reject, and redeem. If we decide not to reject Halloween outright, my only practical question is this: “Does redeeming it mean participating in it? Is it possible to mock a pagan ritual without glorifying it in some way? Or, does ‘redeeming’ it mean a flat out return to the original intent for the Holy Day with a no-apologies approach, wherein the martyrs of the faith are celebrated and the name of Jesus Christ is lifted high, worshipped with no pretense, superfluous flow of chocolate, nor costume of any kind?”

     Doesn’t that return us to our purpose and turn the water cooler conversation abruptly back to the gospel?

     “Hey, Jim, you coming to the Halloween party on Monday?”
     “No, I’m heading over to XYZ Church for a big celebration.”
     “Really? What do they have going on, a Halloween party or a ‘Fall Festival‘?”
     “Neither. It’s actually a celebration for a bunch of people who lived and died for a guy named Jesus who lived, died, and was resurrected so you and I could spend eternity with our Father in heaven. Ever heard of Him?”

     Albert Mohler stated regarding this matter about four years ago:
     “The complications of Halloween go far beyond its pagan roots, however. In modern culture, Halloween has become not only a commercial holiday, but a season of cultural fascination with evil and the demonic…


     On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther began the Reformation with a declaration that the church must be recalled to the authority of God’s Word and the purity of biblical doctrine. With this in mind, the best Christian response to Halloween might be to scorn the Devil and then pray for the Reformation of Christ’s church on earth. Let’s put the dark side on the defensive.”

     If living for a Man who is both fully man and fully God and died for me is my express purpose in life, when I do something, I want it to reflect Him. Shouldn’t we all? So, why do we invest so much money, time, energy, excitement, and anticipation in partaking in traditions that fail outright to reflect how great He is and what He has done for us? Should you do one, you cannot do the other. Or, am I completely “narrow minded”?

    As my friend Dan Diaddigo said to me yesterday:

“At it’s best, Halloween is a secular expression of community… But, community is about something; it circles a center. And the center of Halloween is darkness.” Well spoke, Dan.

     This is a discipleship issue. How we live is an overflow of how we believe. If the church is to be a community that circles a center, how we circle will show the world our center. Should we celebrate Halloween, there is a spot of darkness emulated somewhere at the center to be seen by those looking in. Should we celebrate Jesus, there isn’t a spot of darkness that will not be lit up by the light that shines from within. How, then, should we shine?

Happy Reformation Day.

to God be the glory.

AP

Who Are You? – Ron Dunn

This Friday morning, a lot of you will still be in bed at 6:30 AM. Good for you.

Ron Dunn runs the nationally successful “Carpets
Plus” corporation and leads ONE TH1NG on Friday
mornings at Alpharetta’s Cabernet Steakhouse on
Windward Parkway at GA400.

     However, if you’re in the Alpharetta area (or can find a way to get there), Ron Dunn will open up a conversation (more like 15 or 20 of them) with about 40 to 60 men who show up early at The Cabernet Steakhouse to think out loud about issues of life and truth. Here’s a heads up email from Ron about Chapter 6 of Daniel and a question every guy has to wrestle with at some defining moment or another:

Who Are You?

     As a kid when I first heard the story of Daniel in the Lions Den I wondered what it was that this man did wrong and what I needed to be aware of to assure that nothing like this ever happened to me. 

     
What initiated this well-known event is as important as the event itself.

     Daniel had an extraordinary spirit in him (6:3). The new king recognized this and was about to promote him above all the presidents and governors. Not everyone was in favor of the move.

There were a group of guys who wanted Daniel out and tried to find something that would result in an indictment.  His character stood their exam and close scrutiny. In the end they surmised that the only way to take him down would have to revolve around his close relationship with and allegiance to the God he served. 

     They devised a plan and needed to sell it to the King.  Great selling is an art.  

Let’s talk about selling for a minute.

     Some would say success is in the pitch. Others argue that product knowledge is the key.  Many trainers say great selling is timing…the rhythm of listening well, progressing with the right questions, adding just enough information and then knowing when to ask for the order. 

     My observation is that in order to initiate movement with a decision-maker you need first to get an appointment. To get an appointment with really busy brass you must grab their attention.  The most effective way to capture attention is to make it about them. Identify a problem, introduce a solution that answers their need…and chances are you will close a sale. 

Simply said: if you want to get my attention, make it about me.


     This group of guys back in 5th century B.C. had this dynamic down.  The Babylonian Empire was defeated. There was a new sheriff in town. The Medo-Persian Empire had begun. Achieving loyalty from the 1.2 million people living in Babylon was high on King Darius’ needs, goals and to-do list. 

These men devised a plan and drew King Darius in by making it about him. Worship Darius and him only for 30 days or be fed to the lions.  The edict was signed, sealed and delivered…a new Law of the Medes and Persians…irrevocable.  

     After realizing what he had set in motion, Darius said whoa…and spent a day trying to undo it, but couldn’t. He signed the law.  Daniel was going to the lion’s den, not for what he did wrong, but because of what he did right.
     Note: Take a close look at Daniel. He never paused, never altered and didn’t blink. He did not change a thing about his personal life and devotion to God.  

     Character is tested and grows through trials. Deep down we know our character.  It is revealed when we are alone.  Daniel knew who he was. What he did when he was alone did not change.  No outside circumstance changed him…including a 30-day law that set him up as dinner for a pack of hungry lions.  



     Join us at the tables this Friday as we look into character, consistency, trustworthiness, dependence on and relationship with a great God…and how these play out in the life of men, revealing who we are.

– Ron Dunn

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Recovery Road

     Recently, North Point Community Church featured a sermon series called “Recovery Road”. It was, of course, timely considering what our family and this ministry is experiencing. For those who don’t know, the vision of Seasons of Life Ministries has always been to see those who follow Christ reach maximum devotion to Him in their day to day life, not out of striving and effort but by seeing the roadblocks of their faith removed by His strength, power, and grace. This comes not as we “submit to His will for our life”, rather as we submit to His will for our “now”.

     I hope you all get to see this series – it is available for viewing online through NP’s website at this link.

     Much of it hit me right between the eyes – personal responsibility, etc. The more recent series is called “When God?”, or possibly more appropriately “When, God?”. It’s about when God seems to be inattentive, uncooperative, or late. At times, don’t we all wrestle with God’s timing and/or response? “Did you hear that prayer, exactly as I prayed it?” Trying to learn what it means to recover from the burnout, wounding, and depression that can so easily befall us in pastoral care ministry, on top of the clinical PTSD diagnosis for Cristine, have forced us both to look at what the word has to say about sabbath rest. We’re often in the business of putting out fires in other peoples work, marriages, relationships, yet we’re called to be available only as and when God would have us. Ultimately, it’s up to the individual/couple to do business with God in the area(s) that’s troubling them.

     Would you believe it if Cristine were doing better than I am in entering into that rest? Alright, cat’s out of the bag, right? We spent an entire Sunday at home – watched two church services online, but did everything we could not to “work”. By the end of that day, Cristine was tired, but peaceful. I, on the other hand, looked like a truck had run me over. When she looked at me and said “Are you comfortable just not doing anything, ever?” it pierced my heart. I know mentally I’m comfortable with it, but at a heart level I was challenged in a Holy Spirit get off my chest I can’t breathe kind of way. Challenged to truly ask and answer the questions: “Can you walk through a messy garage the day after the garage sale and not put anything away?” “Can you not look at Facebook, Outlook, or your cell phone for a day?” “Can you trust that all the work you think just has to be done yesterday will still be there for you tomorrow?” and the biggie – “Can you trust God to remind you of that thing you just have to write down, tomorrow and rest?”

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Tullian Tchividjian Guest Blog? No. But, Great Link

     Tullian Tchividjian (just call him “Tull”) is one of my favorite writers over at The Gospel Coalition and an excellent thought leader and communicator. He’s Billy Graham’s grandson, so no wonder, right?

     One of the things that remains front and center in disciplship conversations every week, month, and quarter is “saving the saved”. Often, as followers of Christ, we forget the gospel is what both saves and sanctifies us, falling into the trap of performance. The good news is… the Good News. It’s also good news that getting back on the log of grace is just as easy as falling off. Abiding in Christ – “you’re never more than one prayer away from grace. You’re never more than one prayer away from access to the full resources of Heaven.”

     Take a click over to Tullian’s article: http://theresurgence.com/2011/09/29/did-you-forget-youre-saved. Clear thinking, simple application, a lifetime to practice. Abide, gang.