24 October 2011

A Great Time to SHINE

"The light of the righteous shines brightly,
but the lamp of the wicked is snuffed out."
- Proverbs 13:9

We’ve been talking about October and all the activities it has to offer, and this week is no exception. With autumn in full swing – cooler temperatures, leaves changing colors and falling to the ground, and pumpkins everywhere you look, I am reminded of carving jack-o-lanterns, bobbing for apples, watching the Peanuts gang as they prepared for Halloween, attending costume parties, visiting haunted houses, and going trick-or treating.  Innocent fun – or is it?

Many Christians treat Halloween as a time devoted to handing out goodies, and dressing up in costumes with no threat to their spiritual well-being. The celebration of Halloween itself has no Christian spiritual or religious significance (and should not be confused with celebrating the lives of faithful Christian saints on All Saints Day, November 1). Other Christians have concerns that Halloween celebrates paganism and other activities that compromise their beliefs.

I recently read an article entitled What does the Bible say about Halloween? The article stated, “The dilemma over Halloween may fall under the category of a Romans 14 issue.” What the writer was referring to is that there are matters that lack clear and specific direction from the Bible. Sometimes our decisions must be based on our own convictions. Romans 14:5 says, “One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind.” We should never judge others, because someday each of us will have to give an account of our own actions to God.

According to the article, when we answer the question ... Should we be involved in the celebration of Halloween, there are 3 things we need to consider first:

1) Let your heart and your conscience before God alone tell you what is right and wrong on matters that are not clear in the Bible. Do you have freedom in Christ and a clear conscience before the Lord to do whatever is in question? Or, does the area weaken your Christian walk?

2) Don't pass judgment on your brother or sister if they have freedom that you don't have in an area (Romans 14:10-12).

3) If you are strong in an area and have freedom in Christ in that area, never let your freedom cause someone else to stumble (Romans 14:13, 1 Corinthians 10:32).

When my children were young, they looked forward to dressing up in their costumes. We would enjoy an evening walking around the neighborhood, gathering yummy treats, visiting with neighbors, and having a fun time creating family memories. It really was a time of innocent fun!

It’s not Friday, but we’re gonna “sparkle” anyway ... Many Christians see Halloween as an opportunity to witness for Christ. It’s a great time to S H I N E (Share His Incredible News Everywhere). Local churches have gotten involved in providing safe alternatives to the usual trick or treat activities. Some of those alternatives include: fall harvest festivals, youth group pumpkin patch fundraiser, neighborhood block party, family hayride and pumpkin carving, or an evangelism outreach such as Trunk or Treat in the church parking lot – it’s just like a neighborhood tailgating party. Check out churches in your community to see what activities might be planned.

Another activity (started by a Pennsylvania minister and his wife) has become a common sight during Halloween - it is Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF. Started as a local event in a Northeast Philadelphia neighborhood in 1950, the program involves trick-or-treaters taking small boxes door to door so they can collect small-change donations from the houses they visit. It is estimated that children have collected more than $118 million for UNICEF since the program started. Kids and adults alike are making a different in the lives of other kids around the world.

You can order your collections boxes by phone at 1-800-FOR-KIDS, or pick up UNICEF collection boxes at Crocs stores nationwide from September 22 through October 31, while supplies last. To find a participating Crocs store location near you check out:  http://youth.unicefusa.org/trickortreat/participate/

No matter what choice we make in regards to celebrating or not celebrating Halloween, it is important that we not hide in the face of evil. We will have peace with our decision if we remember that God wants us to boldly celebrate good over evil and His ultimate triumph over Satan, each and every day as we continue our spiritual journey.

Be sure to check back on Wednesday when our discussion on Halloween Evangelism will continue with some great outreach ideas for kidz!

God’s Peace, Donna Weaver

Pumpkin Prayer ... Dear Jesus, as I carve my pumpkin help me pray this prayer: Open my mind so I can learn about you (cut the top off pumpkin). Take all of my sin and forgive my wrongs (clean out the insides). Open my eyes to your love (cut out eyes). I'm sorry for turning my nose up at times (cut out nose). Open my mouth to tell others about you (cut out mouth). And let your light shine in my heart always (light candle inside pumpkin). In Jesus' name ... Amen.

REFERENCE: Fairchild, Mary (n.d.). What Does the Bible Say About Halloween? Retrieved October 19, 2011 from http://christianity.about.com/od/holidaytips/i/biblehalloween.htm

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