GLEANINGS (October 28, 2106):
- MANDAN, USA – Be neighbourhood carriers of the light this Halloween
- GROVE, Oklahoma – Let your light shine!
- ERBIL, NORTHERN IRAQ – Run over by a tank, this monk now ministers to refugees
Halloween – Light a candle or curse the darkness!
For years I was one of those Christians who hid in the basement and turned off my lights to avoid participating. Or I joined my church with sanitised ‘Christian alternatives’ … ‘Halloween’ became Harvest Parties.
In a brief post like this, it’s hard to say everything I believe about Halloween. Just be assured I despise it. I have done several blogs on the topic and have come out strong against Christians participating with it. (Go to my website and search for ‘Halloween’ to see them.)
Time to shatter the darkness!
So, while some Christians still may not agree, a few years ago I thought why do we let the world spit out its demonic messages unchallenged to our kids? Why are we not telling the truth to kids in an age-appropriate way that they can grasp – both Christian kids and unsaved kids? I’m not looking for a ‘sticky lolly’ way to participate to be ‘religiously politically correct.’ I wanted to shatter the darkness and get in the face of evil with the truth!
So I started putting signs together with the truth of the gospel – things like
- ‘Demons tremble at the name of Jesus’ and
- ‘Magic and witchcraft has no power over the name of Jesus.’
Below is a sample of the signs I put in my yard. You still may not agree, and that’s okay. But this is my way of confronting the evil, not cowering under it.
The decades-old dilemma
During this time of year parents in the body of Christ are at times filled with anger, confusion, and perplexity on how to react or not to react to the obsession with Halloween. In general, it seems as though each family has been left to make its own decision on this subject based on personal convictions. Families have been ignored or left alone within the main walls of the corporate church.
For the most part, senior pastors have stopped addressing this subject and have left it to the children and youth ministers assuming that this is a ‘children’s issue’ and not worth spending time addressing this with the parents during the main service.
For some children leaders their answer to Halloween has simply been to ignore it and do nothing. But to the honour of many children there are ministers who have picked up the passed-on baton of addressing this dreadful day of the year. They have tried their best to address Halloween, a day that can’t be ignored.
Do we make an exception one time a year?
Do we make an exception to this scripture once a year? The word says in Ephesians 4:27 is that we are not to give place to the devil.
Does this mean that we are not to participate in demonic motivated haunted houses and parties on Halloween? Absolutely!
We know that according to the word we are living in the last days, our children and our children’s children can’t afford to dabble and flirt in any way with the devil and his underworld of darkness. It is time that pastors take on their role of teaching and exhorting parents to raise up the next generation and to allow no compromise in their life.
This role can only be successful if pastors, children’s pastors, and parents start raising their children to allow no room for compromise. I can’t tell you how many times a parent has come to me when I was an active children’s pastor and ask me what the senior pastor thought about the participation of this holiday.
Parents are looking to their pastors to help them find the truth and walk in it. I challenge senior pastors specifically, but Christians in general, to speak up. Do not allow your silence to remain the answer of approval to the parents of your congregation.
Become a Halloween carrier of the light
Lastly, let’s consider how we answer the darkness by becoming carriers of light on this holiday. Years ago when I was placed in a position of ministering to children I had to decide how I was going to answer the issue of Halloween.
As I prayed, I heard a clear word from the Lord. He said to me that the churches answer to Halloween has been to hide their light under a bushel and surrender this day of the year to the devil. We have either ignored it, given our approval with silence, or found ourselves hiding behind the four walls of the church, refusing to make a stand for truth. We have allowed Satan to have his day when everyday belongs to the Lord!
So, while some Christians still may not agree, as mentioned above, my way is still to confront evil, not cower under it. I have 15 similar posters like the one above that I encourage people to print out and post in their yards.
Your thoughts? Please comment and share. Many blessings and thanks for all you do for the children!
Becky Fischer founder of Kids in Ministry International is always eager to encourage children’s ministry leaders and workers. Links: email@example.com / www.kidsinministry.org / Kids in Ministry International, PO Box 549, Mandan, ND 58554, USA
Don’t hide your light!
‘Don’t hide your light! Let it shine for all; let your good deeds glow for all to see, so that they will praise your heavenly Father’ (Matthew 5:16 TLB).
Turn on the television or pick up a newspaper and the headlines scream with the negative, evil and dark happenings in our world today. It can be depressing.
A different question needs asking …
Recently, the author of a daily devotional said, ‘Sometimes we see the evil in this world and wonder how a loving God could let it go unchecked. Perhaps we should be asking a different question. Is not goodness, love, and care evidence of the presence of God in our midst?’
The writer went on to relate the goodness he experienced firsthand while recovering from knee-replacement surgery in a rehab clinic. His recovery team and the staff members he met were from Russia, India, the Philippines, Albania and Romania. He writes, ‘These caregivers from all over the world were like ministers to me. They all had one purpose in mind: to provide for my recovery needs with compassion. I experienced God’s presence in every caring act.’
His words reminded me of a contemporary Christian song titled Mighty to Save. Part of the lyrics are as follows:
Everyone needs compassion, a love that’s never failing
Let mercy fall on me.
Everyone needs forgiveness, a kindness of a Saviour, the hope of nations…
Jesus is our hope in a world filled with darkness
We can lament the evil around us or we can do as he says in the Sermon on the Mount. In Matthew 5:14-16, Jesus tells his disciples, along with the crowds that had gathered: ‘You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.’
Our daily lives should be a reflection of Jesus’ love. In Philippians 2:14-15, Paul writes, ‘Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky…’
Is it really that simple? The key is remembering that when we’re overwhelmed with the negativity and darkness around us, we must look to the source of our light – Jesus. We can’t conquer all of the world’s evils. However, we can check our own attitude and actions. Avoid complaining and negative people. Walk away from petty arguments that bring division. Basically, it boils down to our attitude.
It might be easier to give in and just complain with everyone else, venting our frustrations to anyone who is willing to listen. But if we want to be a shining light in this dark time, we have to look past that and speak words of grace. Only then can we shine.
Special to ASSIST News Service, Carol Round is an author, columnist, lover of people, grandmother of five, encourager and obedient owner of a spoiled-rotten dog called Taco. We recommend Carol’s A Matter of Faith weekly column – Links: http://carolaround.com / firstname.lastname@example.org / Twitter: http://twitter.com/carolaround
Recommended: Carol Round’s Nana’s 3 Jars – a great children’s book on faith and generosity – Amazon link http://ow.ly/HQcua.
Run over by US tank, then attacked by ISIS, monk now ministers to refugees
First he was run over by a US tank, then ISIS forced him to flee his monastery in northern Iraq. But Raeed, a monk from Qaraqosh, eventually established a temporary monastery in a refugee camp in Erbil, where he has become an inspiration to many, according to a report by World Watch Monitor (WWM – https://www.worldwatchmonitor.org/).
In 2001, he answered a call from God to become a monk and joined four others in a small monastery. But life changed dramatically after the US-led coalition moved into Iraq. He was in a taxi with another monk on his way to Baghdad, when they unexpectedly collided with a US tank.
There was a horrible crash and the awful sound of crunching metal as the tank seemed to come out of nowhere and drive over part of the taxi, according to WWM. Tragically, the accident killed the other monk in the car and left Raeed in a coma.
Faith challenged, then deepened
When he emerged from the coma and realised he was the only survivor from the accident, it challenged his faith as never before. He didn’t understand why God would allow such a thing to happen after he dedicated his life to ministry.
‘But what happened [in the end] deepened my faith. It brought me back to my calling. I’d promised to obey Jesus, and he said ‘Whoever follows Jesus should not look back,”’he told WWM.
On August 6, 2014, Raeed found himself caught up in the invasion of Qaraqosh by ISIS. On the morning of the invasion, he and several others were gathered for silent prayer.
Raeed at temporary church in Erbil refugee camp (WWM)
Suddenly the sound of honking horns and explosions shattered the silence. He ran to the window and was startled to see cars lining up to evacuate the city. What many feared had come true: ISIS was invading. Raeed quickly gathered his belongings and prepared to abandon the monastery.
He and the other monks found themselves in a long line of traffic as most of the city fled in panic. The drive to Erbil, which under normal conditions would take two hours by car, took them all night.
A new calling – all about Jesus
Over the next several months Erbil became a safe haven for thousands of refugees fleeing ISIS, including many Christians also escaping ISIS atrocities. Raeed found a new calling in crisis atmosphere. He established a monastery in the middle of a refugee camp for Christians, on the outskirts of Erbil.
Church filled to capacity
The temporary church is usually filled to capacity on Sunday mornings, with people standing in the doorway overflowing the service. Raeed never imagined God would place him in a refugee camp to serve, but he has gladly accepted this new calling.
‘I don’t have to be anything supernatural,’ he told WWM, ‘I just have to be here with the people in the church because God needs me to be here…It is all about Jesus. Jesus is the core, He is the Rock we build on. And whatever might happen, our Rock will never disappear. He will always be here.’
Mark Ellis is a seasoned senior correspondent for the ASSIST News Service (www.assistnews.net), and founder of the acclaimed www.GodReports.com a website that shares stories, testimonies and videos from the church around the world. For more from World Watch Monitor, go here
Disclaimer: Articles, as well as the sources linked to, do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ConnectingwithYou! Our thanks mainly to Dan Wooding, ASSIST (www.assistnews.net) and other news sources for timely gleanings