Sunday, October 23, 2011


"What are your children going to dress up as for Halloween?"  - Someone inevitably asks almost every day.
"Oh, we don't celebrate Halloween," I respond.
Awkward silence.
Why this has to be such an uncomfortable topic for people, I don't know. I am not a weirdo just because I don't celebrate Halloween. I just CHOOSE not to celebrate it now.
My husband and I use to have huge Halloween costume parties. Every year, we would make a big deal about it. We would give prizes for the best costumes. I would sew and sew and sew to make sure we had homemade costumes. I would cook, and buy alcohol and oh, was it a great chance to have a party! So what changed my mind? My faith.
I wasn't trying to impress fellow believers and I wasn't trying to feel better than those people who still celebrate Halloween. As I started to really learn the Word and work towards being closer to the Lord, I discovered that I wanted to please Him.  The more I worked on my spiritual journey, the more I wanted to do what was good in His eyes.
As I started to celebrate the biblical feast days of the Lord, I began to reevaluate the holidays I was already celebrating as a Christian. When I looked at Halloween, it just didn't line up with my faith. I say I believe in God and His son, but then I celebrate a day that is rooted in pagan worship? I started to feel uneasy and convicted.
What is pagan? The American Heritage Dictionary defines a pagan as 1. A person who is not a Christian, Muslim, or Jew; heathen 2. one who has no religion 3. Formerly, any non-Christian.  
Halloween has it's roots as a pagan holiday. It originates from a festival celebrated by the Celtics, who would observe the end of summer with sacrifices to Samhain (pronounced pronounced sow-in), "the lord of death and evil spirits". There are many websites, books and information out there to provide the background about Halloween and how it began. Below, I have sited a few websites if you want to read a more concise explanation.
So, since Halloween is a pagan holiday and is something that is rooted in and customary for non-Christians, then what was I doing celebrating it? How did that effect my witness to others as a believer? Obviously I needed to rethink my Halloween involvement. So I went to the Word of God to find what it says about celebrating pagan holidays.
"When you enter the land which the LORD your God gives you, you shall not learn to imitate the detestable things of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, one who uses divination, one who practices witchcraft, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who casts a spell, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For whoever does these things is detestable to the LORD; and because of these detestable things the LORD your God will drive them out before you." Deuteronomy 18:9-12
 Well, Halloween obviously focuses on witches, divination, magic, and the dead. You see that in the decorations alone. Is it okay to pretend that these things are okay even for one day, one hour, one minute?
"When the LORD your God cuts off before you the nations which you are going in to dispossess, and you dispossess them and dwell in their land, beware that you are not ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed before you, and that you do not inquire after their gods, saying, 'How do these nations serve their gods, that I also may do likewise?' You shall not behave thus toward the LORD your God, for every abominable act which the LORD hates they have done for their gods; for they even burn their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods." Deuteronomy 12:29-31
Carving pumpkins and wearing costumes on this night was part of a ritual for a Celtic god. It was adopted into an American pastime, yes, but it is rooted in pagan worship. If the latest American pastime was drinking blood from goats, would we succumb to that?
"What do I mean then? That a thing sacrificed to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? {No,} but {I say} that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons and not to God; and I do not want you to become sharers in demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. Or do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? We are not stronger than He, are we?" 1 Corinthians 10:19-22
To me, this verse says: You cannot be a follower of the Lord, a believer, and still celebrate a pagan holiday. No, you will not find the words "Thou shall not celebrate Halloween" in the bible. But you will also not find the words "Thou shall not commit tax evasion" or "Thou shall not smoke crack" or "Thou shall not put laxative in your brother's milk", but I think we can all agree that these things are against the basic commandments set out in scripture.
"...What commandment is the foremost of all?" Jesus answered, "The foremost is, 'HEAR, O ISRAEL! THE LORD OUR GOD IS ONE LORD; AND YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH.' "The second is this, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.' There is no other commandment greater than these." Mark 12:28-31
There is only one God and His Feasts are what we should follow, not that of another god. Are you showing your love for God and your neighbor as you celebrate Halloween? If you have been wondering how this "holiday" has or will effect your spiritual walk, please do the research into the background and reconsider opening this door to your family and teaching your children about a holiday that is not centered around the Lord, but actually ignores His sovereignty.
I am very grateful to the Lord that we stopped celebrating Halloween 10 years ago. My children have never celebrated it and it is not something we will teach them. I really believe that it will be easier to explain to them why we don't celebrate it, rather than why we do if we still had it as part of our family traditions. That is really what it comes down to: Family. Play dress up with your children to build their imagination, give them a lolly pop or their favorite candy every now and then, make apples with caramel on them for dessert; but it doesn't have to be connected to a pagan holiday. As I discovered, there are always better, even biblical reasons, to have a party!

For concise explanations about Halloween, it's practices, traditions and the rituals that started it all, please go to the following links. I found them to be very helpful in knowing the truth.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Good Deeds

I ran out of gas. It was so frustrating! I had just dropped off my eldest at preschool, but I still had my 2 year old with me. So here I was, 10 blocks from home, and I had ran out of gas. Since I happened to be talking to my husband at the time, and he is a "car guy", he headed to my rescue. As I sat in the vehicle, I was watching vehicles race up behind us, not even paying attention to my hazard lights. I know I was on the side of the road, blocking one lane, but drivers are suppose to be aware, right? Wrong! They were making me so nervous! I decided to get my son out of the car and he and I would wait outside of the vehicle on the sidewalk. This way if they hit the vehicle, we weren't in it. To my surprise, people stopped to try to help. One couple stopped and pulled in behind the van. The man asked me if I needed a ride and offered to push the van out of the way so it wouldn't get hit. I told him he really didn't need to go through the trouble since my husband was on the way and thanked them for stopping. Soon, another couple drove by, then doubled back, and then asked if someone was on the way. My husband arrived a minute after and filled the tank with a little gas and I was on my way to the gas station. Not before I thanked my husband for coming to the rescue when I was so negligent as to not watch the gas gauge. Unbelievable.
As the night progressed I started to wonder, why was I so surprised that people would stop to help? Is it because I wouldn't stop? Do I do good deeds? I began to evaluate myself. I can call someone when they are ill. Maybe even take some food over to them if they are sick or have just had a baby. But these instances are usually people in my congregation and it is normal for us as a body to help each other out. But do I do good deeds for complete strangers? Would I help out someone I don't know? Would I fix things that are not my doing?
The next day I was driving along, and some bagged trash had blown into the street. It was a typical windy Kansas day and a pretty busy street. Then I noticed a woman had pulled off on a side-street, waiting for traffic to break, she ran out into the street and grabbed the trash bag (which was pretty large) and moved it back to the side of the road. Then she got into her car and drove away. Now, that was a good deed. It wasn't her trash that blew into the street, but she took it upon herself to move it so others wouldn't have to dodge it and she may have even prevented an accident. That's nice.
I think that good deeds are different than just being polite. Getting up for an older person to sit down, holding a door open for a woman or your elder, letting a woman and her children go before you in the check-out line are all great things, but that is just being polite. It is still something that needs to happen more and we need to continue to teach it to our children. But a good deed, is something that takes a little more time and effort and you don't get anything in return. Imagine that. A selfless act. It is biblical to do a good deed.
"One who is gracious to a poor man lends to the LORD, And He will repay him for his good deed." Proverbs 19:17
I realized that I am so caught up in my own little world that I often don't pay attention to the opportunities right there in front of my face.
Several years ago, my husband and I visited a church in Alabama. They had this program they were promoting to their congregants called CSI:Huntsville. It was so inventive that it stayed with me. They had business cards with CSI:Huntsville printed on them and on the back they said, "You have just been served by a member of ________ church." I don't remember what the CSI stood for, maybe "Charitable Services Initiative" or something to that effect. The idea was for the congregants to use these cards and leave them behind when they would do a good deed. Some of the examples were: paying for the next person behind you at the drive-through, or leaving money with a cashier at the grocery store for a needy family that was shopping and about to check out, or offering food to a homeless person. It's a really good idea isn't it? They were doing something to encourage people to do good deeds to complete strangers. They kept it anonymous, but still let them know that it was a person from a Christian church.
I know the world we live in isn't the same as it use to be and certain people have to be careful to not put themselves into dangerous situations. Single women, children or youth and women with children who are alone should not approach people alone. Basic safety and awareness for you and your family should always be first. But there are effective ways to do good deeds without putting yourself in danger. Plan to work good deeds with groups of people, or just be in a public place where there isn't a chance of you being taken advantage of or harmed. I am going to try to keep my eyes open for safe opportunities to be a witness. Because when we do a good deed for a stranger, it is a witness to that person about the love of Yeshua and how they are just as important to Him.
Leading up to and during the days of awe, Jewish people are being nice to everyone they know, even people they don't know, to ensure that they are written in the Book of Life. As people of the Lord, who believe in His son Yeshua, we are already written in the Book of Life and don't need to fret about not making it to the kingdom. But this doesn't usurp our responsibility as believers to spread the love of Messiah. The Word says it best:

"Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it." Hebrews 13:2