Archives For October 2009

No More Halloween

October 28, 2009 — Leave a comment

At the risk of angering or offending many, many, many people, I post this article with a note at the beginning to you, the reader. Please don’t jump to conclusions until you finish. Then send me your objections. Realize that I am attempting to come at this issue with the utmost humility. I don’t have all the answers. But I pray this will help you think twice before you just head out and do what you’ve always done in the past.

Imagine a roller coaster. If you’re one of those that hates them just imagine with me for a second that you actually enjoy them. You’ve been waiting in line for an eternity, and finally you get the opportunity to hop on the ride. You buckle your seatbelt, exit the station, and begin the climb to the top of the hill. Clickety-clack, clickety-clack, clickety-clack…higher and higher.

Your heart is racing and knuckles white. You try not to look down at the diminishing size of the people below you. The girl behind you lets out a scream. Your friend sitting beside you puts his hands up in the air.

“No hands! Woo!” He screams then flashes you a smile.

Then it comes.

The top.

Time begins to slow as you peer over the precipice and begin to drop. You start racing down the hill.

But suddenly you see in the distance that there is no more track left. The only thing left is destruction.

You snap your head towards your friend in a panic.

“I thought you said everyone rode this ride!”

“Well, sure they do. It has the greatest drop in the world. What a rush!” He yells and smiles from ear to ear. You are not amused.

“We are going to die! This ride is suicide!”

“No, no, no! This ride is fun! I love it!”

Then there’s no more track.

Not Hopping On

I’d hate to be on a ride like that. There’s no way I’m hopping on a ride that is missing track.

The bottom line: we need to make sure we hop on rides that have tracks that lead somewhere. If that track leads to death, we had better not hop on. Certainly this example is extreme. However, it makes my point

I happen to see one of those particular “rides” is the ride of Halloween.

Tim, you ask, are you saying Halloween is a ride heading for a death? Not exactly. But it sure is a ride that celebrates death. And I don’t want to ride on that. And I don’t think you should hop on that ride without a second thought.

“The real danger for the majority of people,” a reader Andrew told me, “is not that [people] are going to turn into human sacrificing Satanists, but into apathetic followers of whatever comes along, believing it to be harmless.”

Just realize that passivity can mean death.

A Brief History

The history of Halloween is hard to trace, and is contested at all levels. It is a mix of many different traditions of the past, but one solid story seems to emerge from each account — a history of paganism, Christianity, and a fusion of the two that form one day at the end of October.

Halloween began with a Celtic festival of the dead. This festival was called Samhain (prounounced Sah-ween or Sow-in), that was a celebration of the beginning of winter. It was a time when the Celtic people believed that the ghosts of the dead were mingling amongst the living. The Celts gathered together to sacrifice their animals and their crops. They lit bonfires to honor the dead, to aid them on their journey and to make sure that the dead would not haunt the living. It was a time of great darkness.

Christian missionaries transformed this celebration to what we see today by combining the elements of pagan worship with that of Christian elements – perhaps attempting to be all things to all people. Yet were these missionaries doing the right thing by bringing together two completely opposing belief systems and smashing them together? One might wonder whether this would be equivalent to bringing two positively charged magnets together or attempting the old science experiment of mixing water and vegetable oil.

A Biblical Understanding

The Bible does not say much about Halloween – at least, not specifically. But many verses in Scripture teach us to avoid all evil. Psalm 101 has always stood out among many Scriptures as an example of this:

I will be careful to lead a blameless life?when will you come to me I will walk in my house with a blameless heart.

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

Men of perverse heart shall be far from me; I will have nothing to do with evil.

That last line is absolutely amazing, and utterly astounding. The Psalmist will have absolutely nothing to do with evil, no matter what. Never will he stoop to the level of faithless men. The standard is astounding and stunning—someone who is willing to have nothing to do with evil. How many of us can say that we have this pattern of thought? Instead, many of us today are seeing how close to the line they can get, instead of running as close to the holy throne of God as we can.

A Biblical Response

It is a tough situation. One might quickly respond to the idea that we should avoid “everything evil” with an argument just as strong. A reader has said, “We should not be distancing ourselves from a society that needs us more than ever.” Another said, “Atheists participate in Christmas, what’s the difference?” (To which I might reply, the difference is that we are not atheists).

“Jesus commands us to be in the world but not of it.” said another man, “To me, distancing ourselves from a holiday that demonstrates that people need God even more is not a good idea. We need to use this holiday as an example of what God’s love means –no death, no pain, no suffering in Heaven, but in Hell.”

Personally I see Halloween just like that roller coaster. It sure is a lot of fun. I get a rush out of the fear. But I see Halloween as a pathway to destruction. I do not want to celebrate destruction or death. I celebrate the gospel. There is no gospel in Halloween.

And please remember this doesn’t apply simply to Halloween. It applies to many more areas of life. Too many Christians are apathetically hopping on “rides” without a second thought of the repercussions of such actions. They take the word of their friends, and hop on, never checking out or perceiving what the ultimate outcome of their decisions leads to.

Music, movies, relationships, whatever.

John Piper reminds us in the book Worldliness “..we will never be useful to the world if we are being deeply shaped by the world. And we will be shaped by the world without intentional efforts not to be” (pg. 22).

You might still celebrate Halloween. That’s fine if you can do it in good conscience. However, I implore you not to apathetically jump on. Don’t do it in any area of life. Your decisions matter and they always lead to someplace. Be careful not to be shaped by the world. Be intentional about your decisions.

Don’t jump on a path that leads to destruction.

“The more the Church is distinct from the world in her acts and in her maxims,” said Spurgeon, “the more true is her testimony for Christ, and the more potent is her witness against sin” (Worldliness, pg. 23).

I wanted to take a moment to wish a special “Happy Birthday” to two young men who have not only impacted my life, but the lives of countless other young men and women around the globe. They are leaders and visionaries that have started an exciting movement among their generation.

Paul tells us clearly in 1 Corinthians 1:27 that “God chose the foolish things of world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things — and the things that are not — to nullify the things that are so that no one may boast before Him.”

Paul wraps up his thought by saying “let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

Happy Birthday, Alex and Brett.

May God continue to use you in powerful ways as you work to be lights to our generation that is so clouded by darkness. Boast only in the Lord.

Some might be interested in reading a short article about, well, myself. I was interviewed here on campus a few weeks back by Jeff Robinson about my blog and my story, and it was published today in the Towers Magazine. You can access that story here. The story is located on page 10 of the magazine. I had a great conversation with him that I wish you could have been a part of. However, only my words were published in this particular article and not Jeff’s excellent insights. But anyway – enjoy!

Octavius Winslow

October 9, 2009 — Leave a comment

Some may be interested in reading some more of Charles Spurgeon’s contemporary, Octavius Winslow (in light of my article “Loser Christian.”) I’m excited to let you know that most of his material is available online for free. Just check out Grace Gems. Here’s some more Winslow to warm your soul:

Is Jesus precious to your heart? Is He the object of your supreme admiration and delight? Does He have your warmest affection? Do you love Jesus? You must light your torch of affection for Christ, at the altar of Calvary. You must go there, and learn and believe what the love of Jesus is to you—the vastness of that love; the self sacrifice of that love; how that love of Christ labored and wept, bled, suffered, and died for you! Can you stand before this love; this love so precious, so great, so enduring, so self-consuming, so changeless; and know that for you was this offering—for you this cross—for you this agony—for you this scorn and insult—for you this death; and feel no sensibility, no emotion, no love to Jesus? Impossible!

Do not be cast down, then, in vain regrets that your love to Christ is so frigid, so fickle, so dubious. Go and muse upon the reality and the greatness of the Savior’s love to you, and if love can inspire love, while you muse, the fire will burn, and your soul shall be all in flame with love to God!

You can find a collection of his best quotes here. He has a Morning and Evening devotional, and quite a few other books available. Grace and Truth books also carries some of his books.

The latest from Boundless:

Day 4.

Missed my Bible study again. Yelled at the guy who cut me off on the road. Then whined and complained to God about my work situation. Still struggling with pride and tongue. The weight of all my responsibilities is piling up, developing into an out of control mass of tasks.

Man, I am the prime example of the ultimate Christian loser!

Some days, it seems that one moment I’m on top of the world. I’m leading worship. I’m writing articles. I’m studying my Bible (and haven’t missed a day in weeks).

Then it hits: Sin.

Before I know it, I’m four days in, losing the battle against the flesh.

//Read the Rest Here!//