Breaking with Breaking Dawn – Should Christians Watch This Stuff?

     First off, I’m not here to judge you. I’m sincerely asking these questions for selfish reasons: for my own personal understanding and a better handle on why people do what they do. If you’re a disciple of Christ – a follower, a raving fan – then here’s what I want to know… 
     Why are you and I here? I already know what I believe. What do you believe?

     I believe you and I are here to let our names shrivel while magnifying the name of Christ. That means everything you and I do should point to Him. How we work, how we treat each other, spend our money, care for the less fortunate, treat the more fortunate, make our choices – in our strength & wisdom vs. by God’s Spirit and power… If the bible is true, all that we do should point to God.

     I struggle with this sometimes.

     Sometimes, I’m so busy building my kingdom that I let people who cut me off in traffic set me down a path of anger. Sometimes, I’m so busy working my agenda that when God asks me to do something, my mind is to cluttered with worldly noise, I don’t hear His voice. Sometimes, I raise my voice at my kids and treat my wife harshly because they don’t meet my needs or submit to my leadership.

     So, I get disobedience. But, planned and habitual disobedience? Ever read the story of King David and Bathsheba? Judas Iscariot? Recent resignation of General David Petraeus’ because of an extramarital affair?

    That’s why I don’t get Twilight. That’s why I don’t get Harry Potter. That’s why I don’t get Walking Dead. Everything we do reflects our hearts. Everything we do tells what we “stand” for. But, the “this”  we stand for – Nike, the Bulldogs, Pro-Life, Coke, etc. stands for something. And, every day, the things we spend our money, time, and effort on point to where our heart and our worship is. No, I’m not saying that we worship salad because we purchase one every day for lunch. I get that. But, there are things that seem “neutral”, things that are clearly good, and things that are obviously wicked.

     So, I don’t get why you’re so excited about the latest Harry Potter book, the latest episode of a TV show about the undead, and the latest movie about a vampire lusting after a young girl who lusts after him… How do these things celebrate Jesus? How do these things magnify the name of God? How can I sit in a movie theater, investing in a company that produces and promotes unholiness, lust, a culture of death, and other things my Savior clearly warned against and openly condemns, if I stand for the name of Christ?

     Yep, here’s the part where I whip out chapter and verse…
     One day, I’m going to come before the throne of Christ and give an account for my life. He’s going to present me to the Father. He’s great and He’s promised me He’d reward me eternally for everything good I’ve done here on earth, but that I’d experience loss for everything I did that was sinful, pointed away from Him, or was done in my own effort, solely for my own earthly reward. (See 2 Cor. 5.10 and Rev. Chapters 2&3) 

      With that in mind, how will I defend my choices to spend money, time, effort, and social media bandwidth on movies that “stand for” the kingdom of darkness and the culture of death and lust?

     We’ve been called to be “separate”, “holy”, “imitators of Christ”. How do we reconcile that against watching movies about vampires, demons, undead, death, lust, etc.? When Paul tells us:

whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” 

or David says:

“I will set before my eyes no vile thing. The deeds of faithless men I hate; 
they will not cling to me”, 

how do we handle these truths in one hand and Hogwort’s School or “Drive like a Cullen” in the other?

     I can’t figure this one out, gang – reading 759 pages is a premeditated act. It’s not the same as blurting our a 4 letter word upon stubbing one’s toe. No sin is worse than another under the blood of Christ, but when it comes to eternal reward… What do you think? Standing in line for hours with worshipful anticipation of a 2 hour movie, then sitting through the movie and telling everyone how great it was, while spending zero hours that same week (even month) telling people how great it is that while you were dead in your sin, Christ died for you and them… It’s not the same as cutting someone off on the I-285 on ramp.  

     How does that wash? How does this stuff pass as “witness”? Separateness? Holiness? Noble & pure? …crickets…

     Should Christians watch this stuff?  How would you feel if Christ returned while you were digging popcorn dust out of the bottom of the bucket halfway through Breaking Dawn? How much eternal reward will we receive for this willful, premeditated disobedience?


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.


Who’s Discipling Our Kids?

     The Bible teaches us a very simple truth which, in the natural is inescapable: “train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old he will not depart from it.”

     It’s so obvious that we don’t even really pay much attention to it sometimes. Then, our child repeats a phrase you know they must have heard from you. Or worse, they repeat something you shouldn’t have said around them, making you aware that you did in fact slip that time when you hit your thumb with the framing hammer, right? You didn’t want them to hear you say it, but you later thought “Ah, I only said it once. They’ll forget it…”

     What we often fail to heed in this warning is this: discipleship is always happening. My friend, John Ott once quoted to me “children may fail to obey, but the never fail to imitate”. That‘ll bug you, won’t it? Let me
say it again: discipleship is always happening… not only in what we intend to teach, but what we hope they didn’t hear. Not only is it happening in what we say, it’s happening in what others say.

     When I came to faith in Christ and He began to transform me by the renewing of my mind, I began to lose my taste for a lot of my favorite artists: Metallica, Papa Roach, Anthrax, Linkin Park… Let me be clear – I still like some of the music, a lot, really. But, the lyrics that used to resonate within my soul now grate against my spirit. I understand the struggle many of these guys are going through – they’re hurt, bitter, angered by injustice, and wounded by the world. Without Christ at their core, how could they possibly express their rage in a godly way? Read Romans 8.5-8they can’t.

     In my bitter, disillusioned teenage years, I had been discipled by James Hetfield and metal/rap rockstars that taking out my aggression in the flesh was the right way to go. I had allies who understood what it was like to dub someone “unforgiven”. Jesus would later begin to teach me otherwise. Or, should I say, unteach me what I knew and re-teach me what I needed, and still need today.

     The trouble is, just because we’re discipling our kids here and there doesn’t mean they’re immune to the principalities and powers of this world.

     Action items for today:

  • Pray that God protects their hearts from the lyrics that discipled me through my angst ridden teenage years. Watch who’s discipling them on the radio and YouTube. 
  • Pray for teachable moments when they do go off the right path and help them think critically about what God’s truth is versus what the culture is teaching them. We live in an economy of truth and lies. There is only One god who is the way, the truth, and the life. There is only one father of lies.
  • Read Dennis Prager’s article about “F-you from the music industry” and consider who is discpling your kids. If you don’t, someone else will.

in it with you,