A Parent’s Guide to Discussing Halloween

free-halloween-happy-halloween-clipart-free-large-images-clipartwiz“The test of the morality of a society is what it does for its children.” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Pastor, Theologian. 1906-1945)

It was a cool, dark Halloween evening in that small town in northern California. The group of friends accompanied by one parent was lagging far behind. At nine years old, I was in the lead, a few houses ahead of the others.  There a house was set off from the street, beyond the vacant lot and nearly covered by bushes and shrubs. I knew there was a prize to be had at the end of that long driveway. However, the prize would take risk. It was a dark, shadowy place with no streetlight to show the way. As a pirate, I was prepared.  A red bandana tied firmly on my head, a small dim flashlight in one hand, and a plastic pirate knife in the other, I set my sights on the glowing porch light of my targeted destination.

The journey started well, my band of brothers was still well behind me. Suddenly a shadow moved to my right.  I froze.  Out of the murky mist came a large imposing figure of a teenager.  Not fully recognizing the threat, I stood toe to toe with him, each of us sizing up the other.  He wore a zombie mask.  A quick mental inventory of my open options produced little. The group was behind me and a choice needed to be made.  It was him or me and I was not keen on relinquishing the candy bounty for which I had worked so hard.  My right hand slowly raised the plastic knife.  It was over as quickly as it started.  In a flash, the teenager grabbed the bag and was gone.  Completely stunned, I could not give chase, I did the only thing I could do.  My plastic knife dropped to the ground, and I started to cry.  My bounty of candy was gone, all gone.

Once home my Mother dried my tears and my friends shared their candy. The bitter memory of the Zombie Candy Thief slowly began to fade.  Everything was going to be fine, but at nine years old, something was lost.  On a small scale, I began to understand that there is evil in this world.  Who steals a child’s candy? From Mother’s point of view, the situation was much darker as she lamented about what the world was coming to and questioned her decision regarding her child’s participation in any further Halloween festivities.

While this true story ended well, it does raise important questions about how Christians should view the Halloween experience. Should we allow our children to participate in Halloween? Is Halloween appropriate?

This parent’s guide will not attempt to answer that question with a simple yes or no.  Rather, it will raise discussion points and topics for consideration.  Can Halloween be a part of a Christian life and walk? What can parents express to our children about the main theme of Halloween?

Parents, our first and foremost responsibility is to protect and guard our children’s hearts and minds. (Philippians 4:7)  The Bible states  that we are to take God’s words and “teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house…”(Deuteronomy 6:7) The traditions surrounding Halloween can be a teaching moment guiding what is providing influences into your child’s life. Additionally, non-Christian parents are observing our actions. They are watching to see how we react to this world, and how significantly our faith guides our own thoughts and actions. (Matthew 5:13)   As fall progresses, we challenge you take the opportunity to teach and instruct your children as to what is good, what you believe and how you view the world. (John 15:19) Acts 19 Apologetics provides this guide as a means to encourage you to seize this chance to speak truth and wisdom into your children.

Will you join us in completing this worthwhile task?

Deuteronomy 5-7: 5 “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”

Blessings,

Acts 19 Apologetics

An outline for discussing Halloween and God’s providence over creation with your family.

Step 1:  Set the Theme:

  • A contemporary celebration of Halloween can be non-demonic or a remembrance of evil spirits.  It should be a time to gather as a family, reach out to your neighbors, consume delicious candy, and have an entertaining evening.
  • As Christians, we believe that God’s providence over all creation directs everything to fulfill his purposes!

Step 2:  Read these Bible passages aloud:

*Consider having others in your family read the passages.*

  • Called according to God’s purpose: Romans 8:28
  • Do all to the glory of God: 1 Corinthians 10:23-24
  • God continually directs everything: Matthew 5:45
  • All actions are under God’s care: Acts 25:28
  • The Lord directs our steps: Proverbs 16:9
  • The Lord’s prayer: Matthew 6:9-13

Step 3: Address the points of discussion.

  1. First main point: Participating in Halloween is not necessarily a bad thing.
  • There are many reasons to gather as a family, a neighborhood, or a community of faith.  The modern Halloween celebration is a good reason to come together and rejoice with the people God has placed in our lives. (1 Corinthians 7:5) The important point to remember is to “do all for the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:23-24)
  • Jesus commands us in the book of Matthew 5:14 that we are to be the “light of the world”. Going to where people gather and spreading the gospel can accomplish this command. Whether the gathering is a Halloween celebration, or an office party at a pub we must be strong in our faith, and by doing this, we can prayerfully and responsibly take part. Romans (4:20 and Colossians 4:2)
  1. Second main point: Participating in Halloween should not degrade the Christian life or a spiritual walk with Christ if observed in moderation.
  2. Third main point: Although, Halloween can be frightening, God has provided this time to gather with our neighbors, share our lives with them and have fun.
  • Jesus Christ’s authoritative word abolishes the work of Satan and evil spirits. (Luke 4:31-37) This fact is our hope, joy and the cornerstone of the Christian faith! Therefore, we do not focus on the dark shadowy side of the holiday, but fashion our Halloween festivities to celebrate in a positive and uplifting manner.
  • Good and evil are real in this world, but all events are under God’s care.  (Acts 25:28) and God continually directs everything in this world. (Matthew 5:45)
  • God’s calls us to His purposes in this world.  God displays who he is, and what his intentions are in the proper time. (1 Timothy 6:15). When confronted with any situation, we are to rely on the Lord and continue to walk with him.  The celebration of Halloween is not different. Provide glory to the Lord in how we gather for a modern Halloween activity. Does this fulfill a part of God’s mission and purpose for us? Yes, if our focus is spreading the gospel of Jesus.  (1 Corinthians 10:23-24 and Matthew 28:19-20)
  • The Lord directs our steps in all that we do and where ever we may go. (Proverbs 16:9) When Jesus prayed for his disciples, he prayed to the Father that his disciples would be protected in this world after his ascension to heaven. (John 17:11) He prayed this to God the Father in verse fifteen, “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.” As followers of Christ we are to be “in this world”, but not “of this world.”  Whether we are faced with problems at school, or with friends, or tough choices we need to make, our Lord is walking with us, guiding our steps.  When the frightfulness of some Halloween celebrations comes in to question, we are sure that we should prayerfully consider the options and go on living out God’s purpose and plan for us.  Any Halloween festivities are an opportunity to provide fellowship and grace to believers and non-believers alike.
  1. Summary of Points:
  • The apostle Paul tells us, “all things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify.” (1 Corinthians 10:23 NASB)  A Halloween celebration should be worthwhile and beneficial to you and your family’s Christian life.
  • Jesus spent time going to where the people congregated to spread the good news.  Considering that, as followers of Christ our responsibility is to do the same.  Redeem the Halloween experience by spending time with people in your neighborhood. Provide them the opportunity to see the light and grace of our savior.
  • A modern Halloween celebration does not need to be frightening, dark and ghoulish for our children.  Small adjustments to any event can provide a positive and uplifting experience for the young and the “young at heart”.  Focus on the grace and providence of our Lord for he is in control, and that He sent His Son as an indication of his love for us. (John 3.16)

Who is framing your child’s faith?

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If you have their attention, if just for a moment, you have an opening.  If the opportunity is not taken, it could be lost forever.

This happened to me several weeks back with my early teenage son. What follows is a true story…

Me: “Hey, have any of your classes discussed evolution yet?”

Son: “Huh? Huh, no, I don’t think so?’

Me: “Really? Nothing huh? Maybe there calling it something else like, Creationism, maybe something like that?

Son: “Yea, I guess. I think, my science teacher spoke about that awhile back”

Me: (Internal thought) Bingo!

Me: “So, you’re in youth at the church, how did that make you feel when the Teacher was instructing something different than what the Bible teaches?”

Son: (Slowing opening up) “Well, I’m not sure. I don’t know what to think. I want to believe the Bible, but the evolution stuff in class sounds like it works”

Me: “So, what is your take on which one sounds right?”

Son: “Well, I think God did create man, animals and stuff, and then he let evolution do the rest.”

Me: “Really? Well, you know, that is great your thinking about this stuff and trying to make it work in your head. You know, there have been scientists that have argued about theories just like what you said.  One is called the “Watch Maker Theory”, due to how complex the human body is, it says God created it all. Kind of like how complex the inside of a watch is, something like that is to complicated to be created by chance.

There is also the “Blind Watchmaker Theory”, some have argued that God created everything and then evolution took over. God left his creation alone to work itself out into what we see in the present day. He kind of wound up the universe like a watch, and let it run. Of course, that would mean that God is impersonal and doesn’t interact with us. You think that is true?”

Son: “No. That doesn’t make any sense”

Me: “I don’t think so either. Who would we be praying to then, of God is not personal? Also, where does that leave Jesus? Because God is so personal and loves us so much, he came to be with us and reconcile us, with Jesus. Doesn’t sound like he wants to wind-up the world and let it run on its own. It sounds like He wants to be involved and have a relationship with us.”

Son: “Yea, I guess so. Cool.”

As in the situation I recounted above, someone was already is providing the framework that would have guided my child’s faith for possibly the rest of their lives.

Who is providing that framework for your child?

You better ask…

Hebrews 12:2 (NIV) “2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

A call for Christians to grow and teach each other in the faith-

Bible

Hebrews 5:11-14 (NIV)We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. 12 In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! 13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.”

Colossians 4:6 (NIV) “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”

Why Mormons Do Better Youth Ministry Than We Do

A insightful article.   I fully agree.  We MUST expect more from our teens and youth.

Unless the goal is no church affiliation and a incoherent worldview is the new standard of excellence for our kids, we must get better.

Why Mormons Do Better Youth Ministry Than We Do.

A Nonsensical Picture

A Nonsensical Picture

Found this gem at bottom of the internet. (Copyright unknown. If it is yours, I’m really sorry to you and for you.  Your in my prayers.)

It never ceases to astonish, the inadequate thinking that abounds. Reference the bible in hand and the context of the picture is that is faith passed down from generation to generation is bad. Oh, I get it. How clever, drawing the visual comparison as an ancestor crudely throwing-up into the brain of the younger generation.

How incredible arrogant to think that the older generation has nothing to offer the younger generation. Previous experience, history (personal or corporate) and stories from where one came from ought to be cherished. Why read a book about a past event, when you can speak directly with the person who lived it? It then goes from a static information exchange to a dynamic exchange. Questions are asked; conclusions are drawn and considered, with the whole process starting over as the conversation continues to evolve. It’s amazing what can be learned from a interaction with an elder.

This artist may never know how fallacious their thinking with this picture is. To assume that passing down faith from generation to generation is wrong, is deceptive. Any parent does this multiple times, with a multitude of subjects other than faith. Their definition of morality and worldview are two topics that are not to be omitted from the conversation. Not communicating your belief system is to your children is irresponsible, and will only hurt their development in the end. Objective truth of any subject matter should be sought after, not blind obedience. Of course, how can any domain of the sciences evolve with passing down learned knowledge from generation to generation? To disparage a generational communication of faith is the same as to ridicule the continued generational communication (progress) of a scientific discipline.

In the arena of competing worldview views, it is always appreciated when both sides come to the table ready to earnestly discuss the topic. In a culture that thrives on imagery, this “art” sanctifying the spirituality of naturalism does absolutely nothing to move the conversation forward.

Justice Divided Fairly, a Characterization of Heaven

Everyone is concerned with his or her future destiny. These infinite, open-ended questions of the afterlife appear to us at random times. A death of a beloved family member, an emotional television program or a story told by a friend may provide the mind cause to bring thoughts like these into focus. What happens to us when this life is over? Are Heaven angels bearing wings and harps, sitting on the clouds? Is there a final judgment for individuals, holding them accountable for their actions in this life? If there is a Heaven, does that mean there is Hell also? How can God send someone to Hell instead of Heaven? Is Heaven as great as a Christian believes? Both believers and unbelievers continually wrestle with the reality of an afterlife, heaven and causation’s for an eternal destiny. The questions are real, worthy of asking and insisting of solid answers.

What happens to us after this life is over has been fiercely debated by the science and philosophy disciplines for centuries. Science, while excellent with providing a hypothesis in this area can do little to provide concrete evidence. The existence of heaven cannot be tested evidentially by a designed experiment as with other areas of science. It would follow that since science has little to add, philosophy or more specifically the philosophy of religion is the discipline of choice. Well known Italian physicist and philosopher Galileo Galilei stated, “…the scriptures tell us how to go to heaven, but not how the heavens go.” (Groothuis, 2013) Depending on your beliefs, Jesus of Nazareth is the only one that has been to heaven and returned. An explanation of heaven, the nature of what heaven is, and well-defined directives to gain entrance are contained in the scriptural New Testament account of Jesus and his teachings. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (ESV) offers a sense of this life is not the end. “16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” This verse tells us that even with our earthly bodies “wasting away”, there is more. “The eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” describes heaven as a place where no association to anything in this life can be drawn too. Many have heard the stereotypical descriptions of heaven, and these thoughts come to mind; all white, with no distinguishing colors, drifting angels sitting of puffy clouds, softly playing harps and of course the “wings”. Verse 21:1 (ESV) in the book of Revelations offers insight as to how heaven will be upon the second coming of Christ. “1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.” This is a tremendous statement. The weight of this shatters the myth of a placid, color neutral heavenly world, while a brand new heaven and earth is established. This would point to a fully restored earth, with real ground for God’s children to dwell and live within the magnificence of Christ and not drifting around on free-floating clouds. Revelations 21:3 (ESV) affords the believer another reason for excitement, as God himself will live in his newly created heavenly earth among us. 3 “…Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” The claim of no pain and crying, all former problems of this life will be gone offers a fantastic argument for belief in heaven. When this life is completed a gift is given. The gift of heaven is one of a new earth, where we will live among our Lord. Consequently, if we are to interpret these biblical texts correctly, no white clouds, wings and harps will be available.

Life on earth can be difficult and unjust. Humanity continues to act selfishly towards one another letting our own self-centeredness wound people we do not know. Even the people we hold closest to our hearts are not immune to unjustifiable hurt and distress. The cries for justice and fairness are heard constantly. As a community, we incorrectly look to government at all levels to protect us from ourselves. This is a misplaced hope, as hope ought to be in the one who created the heavens and earth. Naturally, with God’s promise of heaven also comes with the price of hell. This justice will befall on both believers and skeptics at the Day of Judgment. Each of us will be held accountable for our actions. Actions directed toward others, but also actions imparted on ourselves will be scrutinized. This is true justice. Justice divided fairly and in equal measure from a God fully outside the limits of a finite morality. It follows then if our actions and thoughts are true to God, heaven will be the reward but the opposite hell needs to exist for those who choose a life apart from God. How can a just and loving God send someone to an eternity of hell? How could God not send the unrepentant and unrighteous to hell? For God to unequally measure out justice would make God less of the God he is. God is the quintessential characterization of fairness. In this life, we desperately need him to be God in all of his immensity.
Sin is so horrendous to God, take into account the verse of Matthew 18:9 (ESV) “And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the hell of fire.” The Apostle Matthew uses an incredibly strong analogy that if your eye sins, it would be better to remove the offending body part than continuing in that sin. In the book of James our spoken words are called into question, “And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell.” James 3:6 (ESV) These verses are two of many in the Gospels that repeat God’s command for belief in Him and requiring a change of your life for following the only sinless one, Jesus. These passages are direct calls to repent and do our very best to lead a sinless life. At this point, God has literally no choice but to disseminate judgments to hell, if after these declarations man still chooses to exercise his or her “free will” and live a life apart from Him. A one-dimensional definition of Heaven and Hell can be understood as follows:

  • Heaven, an everlasting life living with God’s greatness and glory in his predestined creation.
  • Hell is an interminable existence of deadness while living apart from God and all His creation.

Heaven is as great as a Christian believes! Luke 12:32 (ESV) 32 “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” God wants to invite us into the Kingdom of Heaven. “Good pleasure” is the phrasing used by the Apostle Luke. The Lord wants to offer us the pleasure of being in his sight. As discussed earlier, scripture does not give the impression of a heavenly space void of all color or a drifting space of clouds. Actually, scripture alludes to heaven as a great feast or party. Isaiah 25:6 (ESV) “6 On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined.” This verse is very powerful with its description of “great” wine and “rich” food alluding to a magnificent celebration. In addition, Revelations 21:18-21 describes, “walls built of Jasper and a city of pure Gold and Glass”. Other jewels are depicted as well, Sapphire, Emerald, Onyx, Carnelian, Beryl and Amethyst among others. All the colors, food and drink in their splendor are illustrated in these scriptural accounts of Heaven. What images come to mind? Perhaps this invokes a great earthly vastness, full of glory and significance grounded in a physical reality, with no pain and sorrow with endless amounts of hope. Contemplate the absolute greatest time ever in your life. Thoughtfully think about on how you felt inside. Now, wonder about what this feeling would be if it was momentously more than it was. The finite human mind can hardly conceive let alone dream of a “heaven” this tremendous.

All have been offered admittance to this heavenly world, whether is the offer is accepted is a choice everyone must make. Micah 6:8 (ESV) “8 He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you, but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God…”

The spark that ricochets in all directions

“ Doesn’t it bother you that God knows the answer to the problem you’re trying to solve?”  

   This question aired during a tense time of technological despair when attempting to reconfigure a HDTV and associated sound system with the countdown of a playoff football game looming. The innocence of the questioner not overlooked, though I was not completely sure if she was serious or if she was halfheartedly trying to clown on me just to see what would happen. Bless her heart; she and her family are my dearest friends. This young woman loves God, is a gifted student, and is going places. It will be a tremendous day to witness the work she will one day achieve for the Kingdom. Which makes this even more confusing to why at that particular time she felt this question was a good idea? Of course, being a fully certified, half-crazed Type ‘A’ personality, she gently received her answer while installing the last HDMI cable.  “Well, let us consider the man’s choice of free will in the context of God’s great providence. You see, God could install the TV, as he knows how it should be hooked up He designed it, but what fun would that be for us right now. I consider this as a task He has charged me to deal with.”   Ha! So there, off the cuff Christian apologetic at its finest. Next, let us talk about the Trinity during halftime! All joking aside and after the outstanding victory of our football team, it got the mind thinking.

The growth of a person’s Christian faith can come at any time. I strongly doubt my friend’s daughter was waiting patiently for the football game to start, while mulling over the idea of foreknowledge in Determinism and Predestination as it relates to the human choice of free will. Her well-timed and quite funny question led to another question, and then to another. This led to a recently purchased book to look up Predestination and to review its theory as provided by contemporary essayists. She could not have known the chain of events that occurred with a simple question. No one knows the small spark that one person provides to other. Small sparks of the Christian faith must be carefully fanned into a glowing flame for Jesus. That spark can ricochet in all directions. With my weak and off the cuff Christian apologetic reply, my hope is all within earshot took just a small moment to consider the thought, “Jesus really is in control of all this. The great friendship, the plentiful food, the warmth of a loving home, and even a football team to cheer for, it is all His.”
Go Hawks!


“but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,” 1 Peter 3:15 (NIV)

Living in isolation from faith

Many great thoughts were brought out in a discussion I recently had. I hope that this post will get my mind passed this.

Satan’s tool of isolation of us from our faith, is what happens when faith doesn’t provide the same “pop” or feeling it once did, and how the holy spirit always is walking with us, but what if we look at this a different way. Viewing this from “aligning our priorities” perspective.

I heard this from somewhere, so I cannot take credit for coming up with this. Our priority alignment should always be Jesus, Spouse, Children, and Work. Top down, left to right, nothing more, nothing less. When the one of the priorities start to falter, you press deeper into all priorities above it. When trouble comes at work, press into your family, (the reason why we work) and Jesus (the reason for everything). Trouble with the marriage, press into Jesus. Kids got you down? Press into your Wife and Jesus! Now, when trouble and/or doubt come into your faith, press in to Jesus as hard as you can. All too many times, we have the tendency to “fix” the wrong things, making a situation worse. Were Men, we have to fix something, but with Jesus always at the top of the priorities list everything else has is rightful place.

What do we do when faith is hard, don’t really have time to read the bible, and the last thing we want to do is lead the family in prayer? Remember the priorities structure. I would submit pressing into the top three, with the most pressure being applied to Jesus. With this pressure (continued search for), answers will come. When you submit yourself to the word of God, we allow Him to speak to us in ways our finite minds never thought possible.

Psalms 119:10- “I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands.” I see this as Gods command for a self-disciplined life. 2 Timothy 1:7 points to this: “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” As does Proverbs 10:17: “The road to life is a disciplined life; ignore correction and you’re lost for good.”

The 2 Timothy is passage is my favorite, as it calls us to power, love and self-discipline. No matter the problem, we have the POWER and SELF-DISCIPLINE to push through. Let is not forgot the LOVE in the process, as we cannot drive everyone in our lives crazy in the process…..