Why We Don’t Celebrate Halloween

This is a question I am asked often so I decided to share before feelings on this subject run high in the Fall. As Christians, there are reasons our family does not celebrate Halloween.

LIGHT AND DARKNESS

Every Fall I find myself sitting around a table discussing a shared love: God’s Word. New Christians and long time believers inevitably discuss Halloween. And always the new believer sits in shock as someone speaks about their Halloween plans. The question always arises: “You celebrate Halloween? I thought Christians didn’t do that?” Nervous looks pass around the table as people feel called out. It’s a perfectly viable question. What friendship does light have with darkness? Can light and darkness come together one day a year to celebrate evil? The new believer tries to reconcile Halloween: evil, death, fear, murder, mutilation and sexual perversion with their new faith: God’s love, truth, redemption, gentleness, peace and light.

For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Satan?

2 Corinthians 6:14-15

DISCERNMENT

Discerning truth is becoming harder in today’s world. We live in a culture that celebrates the many shades of grey. Yet, as a Christian I am called to discern light from darkness, truth from lie, good from evil and be the arrow that points people to God. Halloween asks me to build a friendship with the unholy that will hinder my discernment and befuddle my purpose.

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” – 1 Peter 2:9 …

“[Priests] are to teach my people the difference between the holy and the common and show them how to distinguish between the unclean and the clean.” – Ezekiel 44:23

FOOTHOLD OR STRANGLEHOLD?

Satan plays dirty. We are warned not to give him a foothold in our life. He kicks us when we are down and I have seen how ruthlessly he goes after our children. We know he will always steal, kill and/or destroy. No way will I throw open the door to my family with Halloween decorations and horror movies.  Fear is a high ranking spirit in the kingdom of darkness and the devastation is more subtle than most suspect. As Christians, Brian and I are charged to guard our hearts and minds. As parents we are on the front lines when it comes to protecting the lives, hearts and minds of our children.

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. – Proverbs 4:23

FOMO

Speaking of fear, many participate in Halloween because they fear their kids will rebel later if they miss out. First, I do not live by a spirit of fear nor do I make my decisions out of fear. Some of the worst decisions sprout from FOMO or the “fear of missing out.” It is my goal to teach my children how to overcome this weakness of human nature and not be a slave to fear – of any kind. My kids love dressing up in costume. We have a huge bin of costumes they wear routinely. No missing out there. They also receive inordinate amounts of candy at what seems like every holiday that rolls around (much to my chagrin). No missing out there either. My children are not missing out. And when they are old enough to make these choices for themselves, every child will have a spirit that is honed with the sensitivity they need to discern.

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ – Phillippians 1:9-10

A WITNESS FOR CHRIST

I have more honest conversations with people about why we do not celebrate Halloween than at any other time of year. It is the mark of Christ that separates us from the world. Frankly speaking, I find nothing in Halloween worthy of my time, honor, worship, attention, money or recognition. We believe in life, truth, hope, forgiveness, healing, deliverance and all things that are honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, and noble. We do things that ignite God’s love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness and self-control. Sometimes it is hard for children to miss  a party, but teaching them how to stand apart from the crowd is a powerful lesson I believe all children need. Christ will be their own decision, but in any circumstance they need not ever be a victim of group think. It is a powerful gift for a child to grow up knowing what it looks like to stand firm in convictions. If you seek an opportunity to be a witness to the love of God, I urge you to separate yourself from the world. Be ready with an answer when they ask why.

Honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.  – 1 Peter 3:15-17 (emphasis added)

Endurance

The stay at home order has us all going through the various stages. Shock. Adjustment. Rhythm. And now? Endurance. While the end of the tunnel can be seen for some, for others tensions continue to rise.

We are in a stage of endurance when we strain and feel the full weight of the burden and task at hand. The key is focus.

Plans change. Purpose doesn’t.

-Ted Cunningham

This pandemic has allowed us time to refocus and recalibrate. Now it’s time to get serious and endure. Operations may look different. Plans may have changed. But the call, the purpose does not.

I encourage you to endure. Focus. As strain becomes real, activate your faith and perseverance.

God does not change. The same expectations you had of Him before coronavirus should be the same now. He is still your only Provider. Your only Healer. Faithful. Trustworthy. He still equips those he has called. Even in the midst of pandemics.

Pray Isaiah 7:9

Father, your word says if I “do not stand firm in [my] faith, [I] will not stand at all.” I ask for your strength to endure. Grant me creativity to solve problems impacting this world for your kingdom and purposes.

Living Room Worship

What does it look like for a family to come together for worship in their living room? Is it possible? I would LOVE to hear what you are doing in your own home during this season of social distancing.

In the spirit of adjusting, my family and I changed things up a bit by holding our first “family worship” in our living room. It was bare boned and minimal in its simplicity. It was also the most special thing we have ever done as a family and I wanted to share it with you because you can do this too!

First, we turned off all the distractions and we each found a personal spot in the living room to give us some space. We chose two of our favorite worship songs and we sang them together as they played from my phone. We raised our hands and clapped along just like we do at church.

“Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands.”
-Psalm 63:3-4

At first, I could see the kids felt awkward. The close proximity of living room worship left us all feeling exposed. No darkened room, no fog machine, no stage lights. All the props we hide behind were gone and it was just us in a small circle. If I could sum it up in a word I would choose:

Vulnerable

After worship we read from Ephesians 1:3-14. Then we talked about it line by line. We asked and answered questions. We talked about grace and faith, the Holy Spirit and what it means to be a child of God and how we become one.

Then we circled up and talked about all the things we were worried about or needed God to do in our lives. We held hands and prayed. We prayed for the virus to stop, for God’s protection over our family, for our friends and community, for God’s provision and that everyone in our family would choose to love the Lord with all their heart, soul and mind.

And that was it. It probably took us less than 30 minutes, but I could feel the presence of God among us. Our kids need more of this. Our family needs more of this.

In a normal week we talk about God and we answer their questions, pray bedtime prayers and practice memory verses. They see us reading our Bibles and listening to worship. It sounds good, but is it enough? Or does God have more for us?

1 Corinthians 2:9

No eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what god has prepared for those who love him

The difference between life pre-coronavirus and now? Vulnerability. We came together as a family in praise, worship, teaching and prayer. We didn’t split a part for our own instruction, but became one.

God has used this social distancing to lead us as a family into a new level of faith and pursuit of his presence. By stripping away the distractions, bells and whistles we found a pearl of rare value right there in our living room.

Try it my friend. It is awesome.

Tell us what your family worship looks like now.

We Do Family Different: Sorry, I am Busy Resting

In a society that worships productivity and a church that values the tireless servant it is easy to find yourself entirely too busy. The spirit of busyness hails from a place of darkness that would keep you so consumed with the demands of life you have no time to spend in God’s Word or prayer, much less effectively pursuing His call. The spirit of busyness has a distinct purpose: to thwart you from doing God’s purpose and walking in His anointing.

It takes time to time to develop an attuned ear to the Holy Spirit’s prompting. The weekly schedule requires a healthy margin of unscheduled time to follow the detour of spontaneous ministry, especially ministry to your own family. When we are loaded down with a swamped schedule, often our own families suffer the greatest from our lack of ministry. Family tends to get the dregs of life.

Food for thought:

  1.  Do you better tolerate the inconvenience of helping a friend than your own family member?
  2. On that Family Time Chart, do you have a line dedicated to rest? How much time in your schedule have you set aside and protect for family rest? Nothing scheduled. No commitments.

Does it sound sacrilegious to you? Wasteful when the world needs saving? Actually, those are both lies from the spirit of Busyness. In contrast, God insisted we need at least 15% of our week dedicated to restorative rest.

Let’s not allow arrogance to mislead us nor Busyness deceive us. We need our rest. Our families need rest. If we want to do family God’s way, ministering to them in spirit and in truth we will want to remove “busy” from our schedules. Build into your schedule a margin of time for rest and being quiet before the Lord. Then encourage them to do it as well.

Personally, I like to have a minimum of 20% of my week free. Free to pursue daily time in the Word. Free to pursue my family. Free to bring dinner to a friend who needs a break. Time to encourage someone over a cup of coffee. Personally, I believe I am more able to lead, minister and disciple when I am not racing from one appointment to the next.

Take a look at your time this week and do a few calculations on your phone. If you get a minimum of 7 hours of sleep at night -no that’s not crazy- how much unscheduled time do you have left per day? Per week? What about your family? What adjustments do you need to make to your Family Time Chart?

Read Genesis 2:1-3, Exodus 35:2, Mark 2:23-28, Hebrews 4:1-13, Psalm 46:10

Psalm 46:10, Hebrews 4:11

Lord, thank you for inviting us into your rest. You have provided physical rest for our time and spiritual and mental rest from our burdens. Guide our family in your ways like how to ” Be still, and know that [You] are God.” Keep me from being legalistic, but rather helping my family to hear your voice and “strive to enter [Your] rest.”

We Do Family Different: The Working Life

Work is easily one of the largest Time consumers. The combinations of “Work” in the family today is endless, especially when you add in the jobs of teenagers. Before we know it, the family is going every which direction and it can be hard to align the schedule to accommodate that family dinner. The Word of God gives us perspective on work and provides guidelines on how to approach it.

The Hebrew word for work is ‘amal meaning “wearing effort; whether of body or mind.”[i] Work is a gift meant to bring us a purpose, provision, satisfying industry. We pour our mind and body into the effort. Sometimes the rewards of work are not immediate as God makes our work “beautiful in its time.”

While work comprises our daily efforts, God has also “put eternity into man’s heart.” While men, women and children all benefit from industry, we were never meant to be so consumed with it we forget our eternal calling. God placed that eternal perspective in our hearts to ensure a balance between the temporary and enduring.

While work is necessary and intended to be rewarding, we were made for so much more than this life. Work cannot be our sole focus – or soul focus. The family relationships God has entrusted to us should not suffer from a schedule weighted down by disproportional work.

When it comes to the years of raising teens, work is an excellent training ground for them as they step into adulthood and take on the mantle of providing for their needs. It changes the family picture of what time together looks like. As parents, we help them learn a healthy balance between rejoicing in the blessing of work while keeping that eternal perspective.

Should you make an adjustment to the column of Work? Only you can know. Maybe you already know what your family needs but the options are not available. Or maybe those decisions are not yours to make.

I encourage your to ask God about the role of Work in your family. Is He calling you to more of it? Less of it? A change of pace? A change of heart?

God moves and provides behind the scenes long before we see it. Prayer begins that process. As hard as we work, in the end God is our Provider and He opens the doors we need. If there is no door, He creates one. Remember our post on Hope? God’s answer to you is always: Yes, Not right now, or I have something better. Put your Hope in him and listen to His direction before you make adjustments to your Family Time Chart.

I want to hear from YOU! How do you define work? How has it differed from season to season in your life? What about your family’s work life? If you could encourage someone here about faith and work, what would you say?

Read Ecclesiastes 3:9-15,Matthew 6:24-34 and Proverbs 16:1-3.

Proverbs 16:1-3,9

Father, though I plan my career and seek to provide for my family I recognize “The plans of [my] heart belong to [me], but the answer of the tongue is from [You].” Though my ways seem pure to me, I will “commit [my] work to the LORD, and [hope that] your plans will be established.” Heavenly, Father, give me wisdom for healthy boundaries. As we make our plans for work, align us with your purposes and establish our steps. I submit our work to you in Jesus’ name, amen.

**Tip: Not sure how to hear God’s voice? Personally, I often ask for Him for an answer and then to give me confirmation. Usually I sense the answer through scripture reading and prayer, then I wait for that sacred echo. The random comments and phrases that pop up out of nowhere and confirm what He is speaking.


[i] Strongs Exhaustive Concordance

We Do Family Different: Family that Sticks Together

“Where does the time go?” Now you know! Take a good look at that family time chart again. Shifting your family compass from the here and now to doing things God’s way may feel overwhelming. Relax, God’s got this. You are after all, being led by the Holy Spirit or you would not be reading this post.

Now that you have mapped out your week as a family you have a better understanding of where the time really does go. Today, I encourage you to prayerfully consider each activity and decide whether the pursuit is led by God creating an enduring family bond that stands the test of time. Or, perhaps you will find some pursuits are not led by God and have only a temporary bond if at all.

As you wrestle with your time, put a star by those with the most potential to bind the family unit together. If there is any pursuit that fails to bind the family together it may need to be tweaked, rearranged, or considered for removal. For now, leave the Adjustments column blank. As you return to this chart throughout the study you can add adjustments on how to best use each activity to God’s purpose of binding your family together in unity.

Read 2 Corinthians 4:7-18. The stakes for our time is high. Paul describes us as jars of clay, meaning our life is fragile and fleeting. The shape of each family is beautiful and unique. Some have adult children while other’s young families, some are single parents others have a spouse. Each is beautiful, and only you can choose day to day activities that best serve a purpose beyond time.

2 Corinthians 4:18

Jesus, I need you to give me the eyes to see our time as a family. What has eternal value and impact? What is temporary and transient? Teach our family to value our time together serving you looking “not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” In your name I pray, amen. 

I love this topic because different families bond different ways! Comment below and share your ideas and activities that bring your family together!

We Do Family Different: Beating the Clock

Is there anything more earthly than time? Establishing a family foundation that endures is important since the framework of our lives is Time. Time is the most finite thing in life. While time can be utilized well, it cannot be stretched or multiplied. It is what it is and we must learn to live within its limitations. It is too easy to become lost in the day to day losing sight of that which binds. Before Jesus went to Heaven his final recorded prayer revealed our deep need for unity and love for each other. He knew the distractions of life can take root among members of a family, even His.

Without doubt, one of the largest obstacles to doing family God’s way is how we utilize His gift of time. Work, school, technology, sports, extracurricular activities, television and movies are just some of the pursuits families engage in today. Some of these activities are required for survival while others fill in the rest. The key to finding balance is to remember God has not called us to withdraw from the world we live in, but to shift the focus of our pursuits from temporary to eternal.

Read Psalm 37:23-24, Proverbs 16:9

Here’s a fun activity! In the space provided make a list of your family’s weekly activities and pursuits. Write an approximate amount of time spent on each activity. Begin with the activities that consume the most of your family’s week.  Once you have a better grasp on where your time is going, submit it to the Lord and ask Him about any adjustments you need to make.

Family Time Chart

ActivityTimeEnduring/TemporaryAdjustments
 i.e. Work   
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    

Psalms 37:23, John 17:15

Father, I lift up our family to you and submit our daily activities to you. Let our steps be “established by the LORD, [as we] delight in [Your] way.” Help me raise them up in You. “I do not ask that you take [us] out of the world, but that you keep [our family] from the evil one.” Do not let us be consumed with the pursuits of this world, just as Christ was “not of the world.” Rather, I ask you to “sanctify [our family] in the truth; your word is truth,” in Jesus’ name, Amen.

We Do Family Different: Speak or be Silent?

Years ago, I visited a very sick, pregnant woman in a Catholic hospital. There were verses all over the walls and a crucifix hanging above the bed. She wanted me to pray for her healing so she could go home and be with her family. Her mother was happy I had come as a friend from church to encourage her daughter. When I asked her if she wanted to join us in prayer, she backed away horrified that I would pray publicly. (As public as a private hospital room can be that is.) She told me she did not approve of forcing faith on others. What if the nurse walked in and overheard us? I looked again at the verses on the walls and the cross over the bed and told her the nurse was likely not going to be shocked, may even be encouraged by it. Besides, if we really did believe what we claimed, why wouldn’t we be bold for Christ? There she stood in front of me, wringing her hands terrified to pray in front of someone much less speak of her faith.

“Preach the gospel at all times. When necessary use words.” A common quote people reference to St. Francis of Assisi. Problem is, Francis of Assisi never said anything like these words. However, society has used them to train Christians to silence. We do not want to “push” our faith so we quietly live our lives hoping our family absorbs the truth through a process similar to osmosis.

Kids are quick. They pick up on far more than we give them credit for. However, wrestling through a matter of faith tends to be a private affair and kids do not get to see the whole picture, are not privy to the process. While observant they miss out on vital information and lack the ability to connect the dots. They need to know about about that process if they are to have Hope. Your testimony is their inheritance. Your ceiling, their floor.

I encourage you to talk to them about it. Tell them what wrestling through a hard season looks like for you. What it looks like for others. Your family needs to hear these words if Hope is to have a firm foundation in their hearts. Today, kids are drowning in hopelessness and its time we love them well by giving them a faith and hope to cling to.

You do not need to have “arrived” before you can speak to your kids about your hope in God. Neither do you need a Masters of Divinity from a seminary. As a parent, God ordained you and gave you the authority and the commission to teach your kids all about Him. He does his best work through average people like you and I. The prayers of a parent are precious to Him and he will guide you in what to say. Raising your family to have Hope goes beyond taking them to church and silently modeling a life of Christlike living. It takes a lot of intentional teaching and training.

Read: Deuteronomy 11:18-20, Proverbs 1:8, 3:1 and pray Psalm 78:5-7.

Psalm 78:5-7

Father, give me the wisdom to teach boldly my children your testimony, “that the next generation might know [Your power], the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in [You].”

What about you? Do you have a story about sharing your faith with your family? Family can sometimes be the more scary than a stranger because they see our every move.

We Do Family Different: Hope

In the United States over the last twenty years, according to the American Psychological Association, “Suicide… ranks as the second [leading cause of death] for 10- to 34-year-olds. It remains the 10th leading cause of death overall.” Hopelessness is a disease that has crept into the hearts of our young people. How sad.

Uniting Hope to Faith and Love creates an intrinsic powerhouse so that when trials come a person is trained to deal with that heartache. The men and women of Hebrews 11 saw and understood their earthly situation. But, they faced it with Hope for the promise and a Faith that forged new paths.

When kid’s grow up knowing God’s answers are either: “Yes, Not yet, or I have something better,” they are rooted in the strength of their Faith and their Hope for the things promised. That is what we want to see our children doing. We need to create a family environment founded upon a Hope that perseveres in the face of pain.

Read Hebrews 11 and pray 2 Corinthians 4:7-10.

2 Corinthians 4:7-10

Father, show me how to build this family upon the foundation of your Hope they can say, “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.”

We Do Family Different: Faith vs. Realism

We know from experience children believe anything is possible and anything can be accomplished. Their tender hearts are designed to dream, reach, explore and be groomed for their God-given purpose. God created family to be the place where a child grows and flourishes into the man or woman they are called to be.

Realism according to the Oxford Dictionary is “the attitude or practice of accepting a situation as it is and being prepared to deal with it accordingly.” Key words here are “being prepared.” However, in recent years Realism has morphed into something much different: a fear-driven attitude rejecting faith and hope in an effort to avoid disappointment and therefore avoiding action. What is supposed to be a useful attitude of resilience has become a negative attitude of fear-based impotency.

As a parent, you can teach your family to view and accept a situation for what it is then how to subject it to the power of faith. When the trials and struggles of life come, bind together in prayer and encourage each other. I cannot stress the importance of siblings doing this for one another.

With God all things are possible and without faith we cannot please God. If we want to see our children move through life’s struggles with support and resilience, we must teach them to see clearly, trust in the Lord and know that no matter what their family is there for them. It must become an unshakable foundation.

Read Romans 4:16-22.

Romans 4:16, 17

Father, I pray our family would live, “with faith like Abraham.” Teach us to see the reality of what we face and still choose to believe in You, “the God who gives life to the dead and decides that things will happen that have not yet happened.”