halloween-orange-moon-cemetry-31000Today is Halloween.

That means there are thousands of Christian families who aren’t sure what they are supposed to be feeling. Some feel it’s all fun and games, while others feel it’s an invitation to demon-possession and the occult.

Which inevitably leads most Christians to…

Fall Festival.

A safe, Christian alternative rife with candy and treats, but without the threat of Ouija boards and witches.

But here’s the thing: Halloween is already Fall Festival.

Let me explain.

Pagans had a number of festivals they celebrated throughout the year, one of which was Samhain, which means “Summer’s End.” Depending on who you ask, it was somewhere between a harvest celebration and a day to glorify satan and sacrifice your children to appease evil demon spirits.

As Christianity grew around the world, Christians found themselves in a predicament. The culture around them celebrated death and darkness, but they were children of light. They need a response. An alternative. A fall festival of sorts.

They called it “All Saints’ Day.”

Whereas the rest of the world was afraid of death, so they tried to appease it by glorifying it, the Christian had no fear of death.

O Death, where is your sting?

O Hades, where is your victory?” (1 Corinthians 15:55)

So rather than celebrate death, they mocked it. They laughed at it. They made a joke out of the power of the devil, because the devil had absolutely no power over them. He had been defeated, stripped of any and all authority, and was basically the laughingstock of the church. 

Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.” (Luke 10:19)

And on this “All Saints’ Day,” Christians were encouraged to remember and celebrate the lives of mighty men and women of God who had lived and died. They were celebrated because, although their physical bodies had died, they were alive in Christ, and thus were seated in heaven with Christ, alive as can be.

Death had absolutely no power over the church.

And that’s how the church took a day of celebrating darkness and death, and changed it into a day to mock darkness in death and instead celebrate light and life.

“All Saints’ Day” eventually became “All Hallows’ Day.” And historically, Christians have loved to party, so they’d start the celebration the night before: “All Hallows’ Eve.” And it eventually became “Halloween.”

Should you perform a séance on Halloween? No.

Should you glorify the Occult on Halloween? No.

Should you be afraid of October 31st? No.

For God has not given you a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7)

Halloween is just a day, one of 365 of ‘em. And just like every other day of the year, my family is going to give glory to the King of kings and the Lord of lords, the One who does all things well and has redeemed me from the power of death and given me eternal life.

He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love.” (Colossians 1:13)


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How to Pray for Missionaries

???????????????????????????????It’s important to pray for those in ministry. Paul commanded the church to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17); Jesus asked His closest friends to pray with Him on the eve of His death (Matthew 26:36); and we are told to pray, intercede, and give thanks for all men, especially those in authority (1 Timothy 2:1-4).

But we often don’t know exactly what we are supposed to pray. After all, most missionaries live thousands of miles away, don’t have regular access to Facebook, and may even speak entirely different languages.

But our prayers are required nonetheless. The Apostle Paul even went so far as to say that there were things he could not have accomplished had the church not been praying.

So here are FOUR THINGS you can pray for missionaries, both local and around the world.

  1. Colossians 4:3-4: “And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains.”
  1. Ephesians 6:19-20: “Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.”
  1. 2 Thessalonians 3:1-2: “Pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you. And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil people, for not everyone has faith.”
  1. Colossians 1:9: “We continually ask God to fill you with knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives.”

To summarize, here are the bullet points you can (and should) pray for missionaries on a daily basis:

  1. That God would open a door for their message
  2. That words would be given so that they would make known the gospel
  3. That they would declare the gospel fearlessly
  4. That they would declare the gospel the way it should be preached
  5. That the message of the Lord would spread rapidly
  6. That people would honor and receive the message
  7. That missionaries would be protected from evil men
  8. That God would fill them with the knowledge of His will

Pray these things daily for a dozen missionaries around the globe. And watch the world change.

(Related Post: “Two Ways to Evangelize the World“)

Three Important Lessons from Philippians 1

philippians_titleFor to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you. (Philippians 1:21-24)

  1. Death isn’t scary

Paul tells the church of Philippi that to die is far better than to live. Why would this be so? Because to die means to be with Christ. For a Christian, to be absent from the body means you are present with God (2 Corinthians 5:8).

There are (supposed to be) two kinds of people in the world: those who are afraid of death, and those who aren’t. Those who are afraid are afraid because they don’t know where they are going. The others aren’t afraid because they know exactly where they are going.

If you belong to Christ, then death has absolutely no hold on you. Death has no sting, no victory, no power (1 Corinthians 15:55, Romans 8:2).

Now as we shall see, we shouldn’t morbidly welcome death at every moment. But we also shouldn’t fear the day when we will finally go home many, many years from now.

  1. You choose when you die

Paul makes a statement that would probably be declared blasphemy if uttered by a Christian nowadays: “What I shall choose I cannot tell.”


Paul got to choose whether he’d die or not?

This stands in the face of today’s common belief that God might take your life at any moment (a view espoused in Francis Chan’s Crazy Love in Chapter 2, titled “You Might Not Finish This Chapter”). But the bible makes it clear that the man or woman of God gets a say about when they go.

Paul was told at the time of his conversion that he’d die a martyr (Acts 9:16). And yet through faith, he was repeatedly delivered from death. From his own lips he testified that he got to choose when he’d die. And when he finally did die, it was after he had told God he was ready to go (2 Timothy 4:6-8).

And Paul wasn’t the only one who had a say in the matter. Think back to Hezekiah. He was told by the prophet Isaiah to get his life in order, because he’d be dying soon. Hezekiah didn’t like that much, so he prayed a simple 27-word prayer, and God immediately healed him and extended his life.

Moses told the Israelites during his farewell address that God has “set before you death and life.” He then told them that the choice what theirs: “Therefore choose life” (Deuteronomy 30:19). Solomon confirmed this, teaching that “death and life are in the power of the tongue” (Proverbs 18:21).

Now obviously we can’t choose to live forever. Anyone who would want to live forever clearly doesn’t have a grasp on point one (“it’s far better to be with Christ”) and it motivated by fear. It would be unscriptural to desire to live away from heaven forever. But based on the entirety of scripture, we must conclude that long life is promised for God’s children. And any young person who has died prematurely has ultimately died because they didn’t choose life.

  1. You should choose to help others

Paul, talking about his impending choice, doesn’t say he is making his choice based on how much more money he can earn for himself. He doesn’t base it on his desire to see Avengers 2, or in hopes of being around when Firefly inevitably makes its return.

So how did Paul make the choice?

To remain in the flesh is more needful for you.”

He based his choice on the needs of the world around him. His life was poured out to bring the message of a saving Christ to a dark and dying world.

This should be a primary motivation for everything we’ve discussed.

Does God want you healthy? Yes. And as a healthy child of God, you are to go lay hands on the sick and see them recover (Mark 16:17). Does God meet all of your needs? Yes. And because you have freely received, freely give (Matthew 10:8). Did Jesus tell you to cast your cares on Him? Yes. Now bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2).

When talking about how abundantly God has blessed you, we often forget the third promise God made to Abraham:

  1. I will bless you.
  2. I will make your name great.
  3. You will be a blessing. (Genesis 12:2)

But a primary reason God has promised to bless us is so we can bless those around us.

And when talking about choosing to live a long life here on earth, the question you should be asking is:

“Do I have more to give to those around me?”

Once the answer is no, then it’s probably time to pack your bags and head on home to glory.

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