Tuesday, October 31, 2006

A Closer Look: Halloween

Flood Zone Recap

If you weren't at the Flood Zone Sunday night then you missed an opportunity to talk about this question:

Is it OK for Christians to Celebrate Halloween?

While we may not have come to a final decision, we did discuss some points about Halloween's past and some truths from scripture about things we should avoid.

Here's a quick (controversial) history of Halloween. (You can find a more detailed version at www.jeremiahproject.com/halloween.html)

Halloween can be traced by to the Celtic (the Celts are a people group in England) holdiay called Samhain.

Their new year was celebrated on November 1. This marked the change in seasons from life (summer) to death (winter).

They believed that the dead from the previous year (and possibly other times) would wander from this life to the next.

As Christianity spread, they looked to put away the pagan practices of Samhain.

In 834 AD, Gregory III moved a Christian holidy, All Saint's Day (a time to honor all the Saint's that didn't have a day of their own...kind of like President's day) which was normally celebrated on May 13 to November 1.

This made October 31 All Hallow's Eve (Hallow means Saint), which was shortened to Hallow's Evening and then Halloween.

Some of our customs of Halloween can be possibly traced back to the traditions of Samhain:

Costumes-presumably, the celtic people, out of fear of what the bad spirit's would do to them, would dress as the spirits, demons, etc to keep the spirits from playing tricks on them.

Bonfires-comes from the phrase "bone fire" which represents the priestly sacrificial fires that the druids (the celtic priests) would burn to encourage the God's to bring back the light of the sun.

Handing out Candy-The people of the celtic villages would leave fruit, nuts, and meats out to appease the spirits that were coming to their houses (apparently dead people get hungry)

The actual american practice of Trick-or-Treating probably didn't start until the 1930's or 1940's as a response to all of the vandalism and mischief that was going on during Halloween night. Communities were looking for ways to get kids out of chaos and into organized clean fun, and halloween costume parties with trick-or-treating was the way they did it.

What does the Bible have to say about Halloween?

Since Halloween as we know it has not been around for very long, the Bible doesn't say anyting specific about it. But what it does talk about are specific practices that sometimes take place on Halloween.

Deuteronomy 18:9-13 warns us not to IMITATE the evil ways of the people, including but not limited to: human sacrifice, sorcery, witchcraft, mediums, calling on the dead, casting spells, etc. So, if this is a normal part of Halloween practice, Christians should not be a part of it...not even imitating it (with costumes or decorations of devils, demons, witches, etc.)

3 John 1:11 warns us not to imitate in action these evil things, but to seek to do good. This means that we should not be involved in the "mischief" that goes on during Halloween (egging, smashing pumpkins, bashing mailboxes, stealing candy, etc.)

2 Timothy 1:7 tells us that God has not given us a spirit of timid fear. We also should not be instilling in others a spirit of timid fear. So, if scary movies give you nightmares, or haunted houses make you scared to go into a dark room, stay away from it! Satan wants us to be afraid, but we have no reason to fear anything that he can do (because God is ultimately in control!)

So, the bottom line: Should Christians celebrate Halloween.

It depends. Halloween can be a night of great fun, great evil, or a mix of both. As Christians, we should be taking whatever opportunity there is to minister to our neighbors, and Halloween is one night we can do that. We must, however, be certain to present the light, love, and truth of Christ in the midst of this historically dark night. We should not be involved in anything that imitates evil or anything that instills fear. Those are definites...the rest, for now, is up to you.

I'll close with a quote from John Fischer, a Christian columnist. This is just food for thought...I am not taking sides!

"Why allow those [darker elements] to drive me away from my home on a night I am guaranteed to have visitors? Which is more of a victory for Satan, I wonder--a shinign Jack-o-lantern and five costumed kids at my door, or a dark house where the light should be?"

Wherever you come down on the halloween debate, know this: Satan wants us to hide from the culture so that we have no influence. God wants us engaged in the culture, WITHOUT COMPROMISE, leading them out of darkness and into the marvelous light of Christ.

Friday, October 27, 2006

What Does Gertrude Like?

Wednesday Night Bible Study Recap
1 Corinthians 9:19-23

Try to figure out the patter:

Gertrude likes the Mission Impossible, but hates Lord of the Rings.
Gertrude likes Days of Thunder, but hates Cars.
Gertrude likes Minority Report, but hates Lethal Weapon.

Figured it out yet? That's right! Gertrude likes movies with Tom Cruise (for some unknown reason) and hates movies without Tom Cruise.

But should we care what Gertrude likes if we were trying to witness to her? (If you find yourself asking, "who is Gertrude", she, or he, is whoever, whenever, and wherever you may be trying to reach someone with the Gospel.)

So, here's the question: To what extent should the way we try to witness to someone be influenced by their likes and dislikes? For instance, should we try to dress, act, and speak like a group of people we are trying to witness to, almost like an "undercover cop"?

In 1 Corinthians 9:22 Paul says that he has "become all things to all men, that I may by all means save some."

What does this mean? What lengths was Paul willing to go to to have his message heard? Would he ever allow his method of sharing Christ to cause him to cross over into sin? If Paul were trying to witness to a college fraternity in 2006, would he party with the best of them? If Paul were trying to witness to a homosexual, would he act as a homosexual? If he were trying to witness to a group of high school students, would he try to join in their innapropriate conversations, using the same innapropriate language?

It is important that we try to relate the Gospel to those we are speaking, but not at the price of the actual truthfulness of the message, or compromising our own position in Christ.

See, sometimes we can get so caught up in this idea that "people are only going to listen to me if I can show that I relate to them" that we end up becoming just like them, discarding the "new creation" that Christ has made us for the same old slavery to sin. This completely messes up the message. All this does is show those people that "Chrsitians are just like me and I have no need to change."

On the other hand, if we pay no attention to where someone is in their lives, the Gospel may seem irrelavent.

If the Gospel is relevant to your life, how you are living every day, then the difference that it makes in your life, and can make in other people's lives, will be seen by those who are around you.

I encourage you to find ways to relate the Gospel, the truth about a free life, free from sin, death and despair, the truth about being created brand new, to the people that are around you.


Don't compromise the message, the truth, or you own position as a new creature in Christ, for the sake of being accepted by a particular group of people.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Luther @ the Flood Zone

If you missed the last two Flood Zones then you missed the 2 parts of a great movie, Luther. If you came the first week and not the second week, then you missed the moving culmination of what Luther's work was all about.

We have the church and Bible we have today because of Luther and the reformers. These guys were willing to give their lives, not just for their faith, but literally for the Bible in a language that regular people could understand.

Do you enjoy reading the bible in english? If so, praise God for a man like Luther, who took on the established church and all its lies and translated the Bible into a language the people could understand so that they could know what the Gospel really says!

Luther, a man referred to by the Roman Catholic Church as a "drunken little monk", seemingly insignificant, turned the world upside down for TRUTH!

Are your schools full of Truth? Probably not! And here we stand, seemingly insignificant, but with the most important job in the world, as ministers of reconciliation, and here we stand, with numerous copies of the Bible in our houses, and yet our world is not being turned upside down for TRUTH! Why not?!? Because of what we might lose? Because of our fear? Because of our reputation? Because of our comfort?

We must take the example of men like Luther, willing to give everything for the sake of getting Truth in the hands of more and more people! There are hundreds...thousands...millions in our world that no nothing of Truth, and we have it. So let's give it to them!

Thursday, October 5, 2006

How to Overflow

So, the Flood Zone now exists, but for what point?

The point of The Flood Zone is to weekly give you guys an opportunity to dip into the wells of salvation, be filled, and then overflow all over your schools, friends, and families.

Yes, I do want you to picture yourself spewing water all over the people you see everyday! (That is spiritual water) You should be soaking the people around you with the overflow of the work of God in your life. But you have to be filled first.

If you want to know the how and they why of the Flood Zone, check out Isaiah 12.

So, How are We Filled?

1. By Having a Heart of Gratitude (v1)
But what do we have to be thankful for? If nothing else, salvation and Jesus should keep us saying "thank you" through this life and all eternity. God was angry with us, but his anger has turned to comfort!

2. By Trusting God and Not Fearing (v2)

3. By Remembering What God Has Done for Us. (v3)

So, How do we Overflow?

1. Praise God in Front of Other People (v4)

2. Have a Song of Praise on Your Lips & In Your Mind. (v5)

3. Don't Touch the Glory! Don't Keep Your Praise Silent! (v6)

But, WHY do we Overflow?

Because Great in Your Midst is the Holy One of Israel!

Only He can fill us! Only He is worthy of praise! Only He can give hope to your school, your friends, and your family! Only He!

So, go ahead, spew all over them!

Remembering Momentum...Again

So, here we are 3 1/2 months removed from Momentum '06. Does it still linger in your thoughts? Do you still long for the hours of Bible study? Do you still chuckle at the thought of a flaming puppet named Mo?

How has Momentum affected you for the long run? This summer was probably easy to hold up what God taught you at Momentum, but now the school year has started. How have things changed? What are you struggling with? What is God challenging you to remember and apply to your life from that week in Tennessee?

Let's not let the spiritual momentum that we gained for that week in TN slow to a crawl, or even a stop, just because we are now in the very place where we need to DAILY live it out!

We can encourage each other to continue to press forward, remembering that we are in the Far Country and need to tell as many people about home as possible!

Post your thoughts, your memories, your struggles, you victories resulting from momentum here.

The Flood Zone: The Beginning

Man, what a great first night! It was everything I hoped it would be! It was great to see all of you guys come out and get excited about the new things going on with H2O. Don't forget, this Sunday is the Unbirthday Party, but also an invite night for your friends at the Flood Zone. We will be watching the first half of Luther, and it's a unique way for your friends to hear the truth about Jesus!

See you guys this weekend!

Here are some pics from the first night at The Flood Zone. Thanks, Courtney, for taking a lot of them!