IRS Kerfuffles and the Leading of the Holy Spirit

irs

I’m in the process of trying to close escrow on a house. But it has not been easy.

While getting our loan, we found out So Cal Edison had mistakenly opened a claim against us for a bill we had actually paid. This happened almost a year ago, but we didn’t find out until this last month. I called So Cal Edison and they agreed that a mistake had been made, but that there was nothing they could do. They advised I call the collection agency to clear it up. I called the collection agency, and they informed me that, unfortunately, there was nothing they could do, and advised I call So Cal Edison to clear it up.

It took a week of kind, harsh, understanding, and irate calls and hours on hold to finally resolve the situation.

Then things progressed. Until…

Our lender called me to say they had not received 2017 transcripts from the IRS. They told me to call the IRS and have them fax the transcripts over. I called, and after several calls were dropped, I finally made it to an agent appropriately named “Mr. Smith.”

After several hours on hold, Mr. Smith finally informed me that, while the IRS had received, processed, and cashed the check we sent, they had accidentally misplaced our tax return. On behalf of the IRS, Mr. Smith was very sorry, but informed me there was nothing he could do to correct this mistake, as there was no protocol to handle these sorts of situations (which happen more often than you’d think, he told me). My best bet was to send them everything again (sans the check), and wait (and hope) for the trusted IRS to process everything correctly this time.

Through this (and many other unforeseen issues), it became apparent: the devil was trying to prevent us from closing escrow. God must really want us to buy this house.

But what if, instead…

* * *

I’m in the process of trying to close escrow on a house. But it has not been easy.

While getting our loan, we found out So Cal Edison had mistakenly opened a claim…

… My best bet was to send them everything again (sans the check), and wait (and hope) for the trusted IRS to process everything correctly this time.

Through this (and many other unforeseen issues), it became apparent: God was trying to prevent us from closing escrow. God must really want us to NOT buy this house.

* * *

In the bible, Gideon wasn’t sure if God would save Israel. So he decided to look for a sign: he would leave a cloth out on the ground, and if the cloth was wet in the morning, Gideon would know that God would save them.

Morning came, and the cloth was wet. But then Gideon realized, “This could just be a coincidence.” So he decided: he would leave a cloth out on the ground, and if the cloth was dry in the morning, Gideon would know that God would save them.

Morning came, and the cloth was dry. At this point, Gideon stopped asking for signs, and believed what God had actually said a few verses earlier: “Go in this might of yours, and you shall save Israel from the hand of the Midianites. Have I not sent you? Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat the Midianites as one man” (Judges 6:14, 16).

* * *

It’s easy to look for signs… until you realize that signs aren’t usually very clear. The IRS lost my tax return. That could mean God doesn’t want me to buy this house… or it could mean that God does want me to buy this house… or it could mean that government agencies are not very efficient. Who knows? (Probably the third one.)

My point is this: God doesn’t lead through circumstance. If He doesn’t want you to do something, He’s not going to send the IRS after you; He’ll just say, “Hey, don’t do that” (Acts 13:2). Better yet, chances are He has already told you what you should and shouldn’t do in scripture.

So rather than make your decisions based on esoteric signs and circumstances that could be interpreted in any number of ways, make your decisions the way God intended: based on the revealed Word of God and the leading of the Holy Spirit.

Anything else is just chance.

50 practical things Jesus did with His disciples

disciple

  1. He taught them (Matthew 4:23)
  2. He ate with them (Matthew 26:26)
  3. He traveled with them (Mark 6:1)
  4. He went camping with them (Matthew 8:20)
  5. He went to church with them (Mark 1:21)
  6. He worshipped with them (Matthew 26:30)
  7. He prayed with them (Matthew 26:36)
  8. He prayed for them (John 17:9)
  9. He spent time with them doing regular things (see below)
  10. He fished with them (Luke 5:4)
  11. He hiked with them (Mark 3:13)
  12. He barbequed with them (John 21:9)
  13. He hung out at their place (Mark 1:29, Matthew 9:10)
  14. He invited them over to His place (Mark 2:1, Mark 3:20)
  15. He stayed up late to help them (Mark 1:32)
  16. He met their families (Mark 1:30)
  17. He gave them nicknames (Mark 3:17 & Luke 9:54, Matthew 16:18)
  18. He allowed them to be them (as evidenced by Peter’s entire existence)
  19. He called them out when they were sucking (Luke 9:55)
  20. He encouraged them when they were on track (John 1:47, Matthew 16:17)
  21. He joked around with them (Luke 24:13-36; great 15-minute sermon about it here)
  22. He cared deeply about them (John 17:12)
  23. He talked theology with them (Matthew 13:24)
  24. He talked politics with them (Matthew 22:21, ; Matthew 20:25)
  25. He talked business with them (Matthew 20:15)
  26. He made them uncomfortable (John 6:60-61)
  27. He explained things to them (Matthew 13:11)
  28. He used words they could understand (Matthew 13:47, Matthew 4:19)
  29. And when they still didn’t understand, He slowed down (Matthew 15:16)
  30. He gave them advice (Luke 10:25-37)
  31. He helped their businesses (Luke 5:6-7)
  32. He defended them (Mark 9:18-19)
  33. He fought for them (Mark 2:25-7, Luke 22:31-32, 1 John 3:8)
  34. He served them (John 13:5)
  35. He served with them (Matthew 14:19)
  36. He sacrificed for them (Matthew 17:12)
  37. He corrected them (Luke 9:50)
  38. He challenged them (Luke 10:8-9)
  39. He expected more from them than they expected from themselves (Luke 9:13)
  40. He trusted them (Matthew 21:1-3, John 19:26-27)
  41. He gently rebuked them when necessary (Mark 10:38)
  42. He harshly rebuked them when necessary (Matthew 16:23)
  43. He forgave them and gave them second and third and twentieth chances (John 21:15-17)
  44. He was patient with them (Luke 9:46-48)
  45. He never left them, but He allowed them to leave Him (John 6:66)
  46. He invested in them, even when there seemed to be little to no results (Luke 9:43-56)
  47. He was human with them (John 11:35)
  48. He lived with them (John 1:14)
  49. He showed them how to live (John 10:10)
  50. Essentially, He did life with them. Every. Single. Day.

Don’t Go, and Make Disciples

go

We all know the great commission: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations…” (Matthew 28:19)

Now here’s my question: What is the first thing Jesus commanded in this verse?

You probably said “go,” right? And… you’d be wrong.

You see, the word “go” in this verse (the Greek πορεύω) is in the passive tense, meaning He’s not actually commanding us to go. A more accurate translation would be, “As you go, make disciples of all the nations.” [1]

Most of us think our commission is to go somewhere (preferably some country far, far away) and get people saved. But that’s not what Jesus is saying. He isn’t telling us to go somewhere; He’s simply acknowledging that we all will inevitably go somewhere. And whenever we go somewhere, what are we supposed to do? Make disciples.

When you go to school, make disciples.

When you go to work, make disciples.

When you go to the grocery store, or soccer practice, or the neighborhood barbeque, make disciples.

No matter where you go, your commission is to make disciples.

So what are you waiting for? People are waiting. Get going!


 

[1] A few versions translate this passage accordingly:

  • Having gone, then, disciple all the nations (Young’s Literal Translation)
  • Therefore having gone, disciple all the nations (Berean Literal Bible)
  • Therefore, as you go, disciple people of all nations (International Standard Version)
  • So wherever you go, make disciples of all nations (God’s Word Translation)

Does God Work in Mysterious Ways?

Mystery Machine

 

When something bad happens in a believer’s life, people will often attribute it to God, saying, “God works in mysterious ways.” Though this phrase does not appear in scripture, the idea is prevalent in the church.

But is it true?

The Greek word μυστήριον (mysterion), translated “mystery,” appears 27 times in the New Testament.

Nine times, God is saying “Christians know the mysteries of God”:

  • He answered and said to them, “Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. (Matthew 13:11)
  • And He said to them, “To you it has been given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God; but to those who are outside, all things come in parables. (Mark 4:11)
  • And He said, “To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is given in parables, that ‘Seeing they may not see, And hearing they may not understand.’ (Luke 8:10)
  • But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory… but God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. (1 Corinthians 2:7-10)
  • Having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself. (Ephesians 1:9)
  • How that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already). (Ephesians 3:3)
  • The mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints. (Colossians 1:26)
  • To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. (Colossians 1:27)
  • That their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ. (Colossians 2:2)

Six times, the bible is explaining what the apparent mystery is:

  • Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed. (1 Corinthians 15:51)
  • This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. (Ephesians 5:32)
  • And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh, Justified in the Spirit, Seen by angels, Preached among the Gentiles, Believed on in the world, Received up in glory. (1 Timothy 3:16)
  • “The mystery of the seven stars which you saw in My right hand, and the seven golden lampstands: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands which you saw are the seven churches. (Revelation 1:20)
  • And on her forehead a name was written: MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. (Revelation 17:5)
  • But the angel said to me, “Why did you marvel? I will tell you the mystery of the woman and of the beast that carries her, which has the seven heads and the ten horns. (Revelation 17:7)

Five times, Paul is saying his ministry and letters explain the mysteries of God:

  • For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. (Romans 11:25)
  • Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. (1 Corinthians 4:1)
  • And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:2)
  • And for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel. (Ephesians 6:19)
  • Meanwhile praying also for us, that God would open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in chains. (Colossians 4:3)

Twice, God is saying you can learn the mysteries of God by reading the bible:

  • Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began but now made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith. (Romans 16:25-26)
  • By which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ. (Ephesians 3:4)

And twice, God says it’s the job of the Church to reveal mysteries:

  • And to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ, to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 3:9-10)
  • Holding the mystery of the faith with a pure conscience. (1 Timothy 3:9)

Of the remaining three, one is saying that the devil (not God) works in mysterious ways (ways that have been trumped by God, circa John 10:10 and 1 John 3:8):

  • For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way. (2 Thessalonians 2:7)

One comments on the “mystery of God” being completed, a direct tie in to 1 Timothy 3:16:

  • But in the days of the sounding of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound, the mystery of God would be finished, as He declared to His servants the prophets. (Revelation 10:7)

And the final one is explaining what those who speak in tongues speak mysteries to God, which can be interpreted if need be according to 1 Corinthians 12:10:

  • For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries. (1 Corinthians 14:2)

The idea that God works in mysterious ways, which seemingly bring harm to us, is entirely unfounded in scripture. In fact, Amos 3:7 says, “Surely the Lord God does nothing, unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets.” The New Testament confirms this, stating that God delights to reveal his secrets and mysterious ways to us through His Spirit, through Scripture, and through the Church.

The mysterious ways of God can be summed up in a passage found in Colossians 1:

“To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

The mystery of God is why He is so good to us, why He cares so deeply for us, why He wants to know us and has united Himself with us and lives in us. It’s a mystery of exceedingly good news, of joy, and hope and comfort. And it is revealed in the pages of scripture.

Is It Wrong to Help People in Order to Spread the Gospel?

use meI’ve heard non-Christians levy this accusation at helpful believers several times:

You’re only helping that person so you can tell them about Jesus!”

Is this a genuine concern? If even part of our motivation in serving others is to preach the gospel, does that make it wrong?

As always, let’s look at the scriptures:

But when Jesus saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd.” (Matthew 9:36)

In this passage, Jesus is moved with compassion for two reasons. First, He noticed their physical condition. They were weary and scattered. The NLT uses the words “confused and helpless” to describe their condition. Jesus certainly was aware of their problems, and wanted to free them of their distress.

Secondly, Jesus was concerned because of their spiritual condition. They were like sheep having no shepherd. They weren’t a part of God’s flock (John 10). They were separated from God (Eph. 2). And not only that, but Jesus identified that the reason they were weary and scattered was because of their spiritual condition. In other words, their utter separation from God resulted in their physical plight.

In Genesis 3, after Adam and Eve sinned against God, they died spiritually, which led to death in every area of life. Separation from God resulted in all sorts of bad stuff, including sin, sickness, poverty, and strife. And we can work hard to battle sin, sickness, and poverty, but at the end of the day, all that is doing is attacking the symptoms rather than the source. Spiritual death is the problem; everything else is just a side effect.

That’s why Jesus said to John’s disciples,

The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised and the poor have the gospel preached to them.” (Matthew 11:5)

Jesus offers help to people in need, but ultimately, He offers the gospel to them, because the gospel is what will actually fix their problems.

Is it wrong to help people in order to spread the gospel? Certainly not! If you’re not preaching the gospel, you’re not really helping. You’re just covering up a wound that’ll get worse and worse.

* * * * *

I wrote a book. It’ll change your life. Buy it here. Enjoy.

Do Apostles Still Exist?

do apostles still existMost of us Christians have a man or woman we consider our pastor. But what about the other four ministry offices?

And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers.” (Ephesians 4:11)

We’re all familiar with pastors, and probably even teachers and evangelists. However, there are many who would say there are no longer apostles or prophets. Just today, I was listening to a sermon by a pastor I highly respect, and he said in passing that the office of the apostle no longer exists. He held the common view that there were only twelve “apostles,” and that they were the men whom Jesus had appointed in the first century to spread the gospel and write the New Testament.

I quickly flipped open my bible and looked up a few scriptures, and quickly confirmed that this pastor (while mostly brilliant) was wrong.

Here are a few things the New Testament says about apostles.

  1. There are thirteen men appointed as “apostles” specifically by Jesus in the bible

Now the names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus; Simon the Cananite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed Him.” (Matthew 10:2-4)

Paul, an apostle (not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Him from the dead).” (Galatians 1:1)

Generally, those who believe there are no more apostles say that Paul is the twelfth and final apostle, having replaced Judas, who sucked. But consider this for a second: Judas did miracles. Yes, the guy who was stealing from Jesus’ treasury (meaning Jesus had treasure) healed the sick and raised the dead. Take that how you will.

  1. Four other men are called “apostles” in the bible

Barnabas

But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard this, they tore their clothes and ran in among the multitude, crying out.” (Acts 14:14)

Luke the physician, a companion of Paul (2 Timothy 4:11; Acts 28:16), clearly states that Barnabas was an apostle. Not only that, the narratives in Acts seem to indicate that he was in charge and that Paul was his disciple. Barnabas is usually listed first, and the men of Lystra called Barnabas “Zeus” (the chief God) but Paul “Hermes” (the messenger of Zeus) (Acts 14:12). It seems Barnabas was an apostle who discipled Paul.

Andronicus

Greet Andronicus and Junia, my countrymen and my fellow prisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.” (Romans 16:7)

The NIV reads that Andronicus was “outstanding among the apostles.”

James, the Lord’s Brother

But I saw none of the other apostles except James, the Lord’s brother.” (Galatians 1:19)

Not to be confused with James the son of Zebedee or James the son of Alphaeus, this was James the son of Mary and Joseph, the half-brother of Jesus, and author of the Epistle of James.

Worth noting is that he is clearly distinguished from the twelve apostles.

After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles.” (1 Corinthians 15:7)

Epaphroditus

And I thought it necessary Epaphroditus – my brother, and fellow-workman, and fellow-soldier, and your apostle and servant to my need – to send unto you.” (Philippians 2:25)

He is only mentioned twice in scripture, so we don’t know much about him, but from Paul’s epistle to the Philippians we know that he was an apostle (Greek “apostolos”) to the church in Philippi.

(I chose not to include Matthias on my list, because the argument could be made that he was “numbered with the apostles” rather than being considered an apostle [Acts 1:26]. Also, he never shows up again.)

  1. One woman is called an “apostle” in the bible

You may have noticed I skipped over a name earlier.

Greet Andronicus and Junia, my countrymen and my fellow prisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.” (Romans 16:7)

Junia’s example demonstrates that woman can not only function in ministry positions (at least according to Paul), but can be outstanding at it.

  1. Jesus’ twelve apostles didn’t have universal jurisdiction

And as they went through the cities, they delivered to them the decrees to keep, which were determined by the apostles and elders at Jerusalem.” (Acts 16:4)

Chapter 15 of Acts tells us of the Jerusalem Council, where the church leaders basically confirmed that you didn’t have to convert to Judaism to become a Christian. What is interesting is that it wasn’t just the apostles who decided this. It was a meeting of apostles and elders. The authority of the twelve disciples didn’t override everyone else. They still needed to discuss matters with church leaders. That rule still applies today.

  1. There is something special about the twelve

Now the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.” (Revelation 21:14)

The twelve apostles of Jesus do hold a special position in heaven (Matthias is easily the luckiest guy there). Let’s face it. They spent those three and a half pivotal years with Jesus, and we have Christianity today because of them.

  1. Apostles are necessary in the church today

And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:12)

Look at some of the things apostles (along with the other four ministry offices) do for the church. They equip us for ministry, they edify us, they unify us and teach us to know God. As the scriptures plainly state, all of these ministry offices are absolutely vital for the church experiencing the fullness of Christ today.

And if we’d stop denying the necessity of modern day apostles, maybe we’d see a more equipped and unified church.

Two Things God Taught Me about Marriage

Milovich We

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord… Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.” (Eph. 5:22, 25)

Lesson #1: Paul doesn’t say, “Husbands, tell your wives to submit.”

This seems fairly obvious, and  yet, many husbands and wives completely miss the point of this verse. The bible tells husbands and wives what they are each responsible to do. At no point does it tell husbands and wives that they are responsible for the actions of the other.

As a husband, it is not my job to tell my wife to submit. That’s God’s job. My job is to love. Whether or not I feel she is submitting correctly, that doesn’t change the fact that God told me to love her as Christ has loved me.

Lesson #2: God’s command is impossibly high.

Not only does God tell me that it’s my job to love my wife (whether or not she is submitting); but He also gives me a standard to live up to:

Even as Christ loved the church.”

So, according to a biblical model of marriage, I’m supposed to love my wife in the same way that Christ loves me. Now, forgive me for asking, but that seems… just a little bit… entirely ludicrous, right? And yet, that is God’s command. Which means it’s entirely within my reach. I am biblically mandated to love my wife an impossible amount. Fortunately, nothing is impossible for him that believes.

I’d like to point out that the husband’s commission is much higher than the wife’s. She is commanded to love me like the church has loved Christ. And historically, the church hasn’t always set the bar so high. So if I feel my wife isn’t living up to her end of the deal, what is my response? To love her an impossible amount in response.

Challenge accepted.


I wrote a book! It’s amazing. You should buy it.

Teaching My Son the Definition of Bravery

Inigo MontoyaAs some of you know, I have a six month old son. His name is Jack. And he’s awesome.

He’s just on the verge of talking. In fact, his mother is convinced he’s started saying “mama,” but since there’s no video confirmation, his first words are still up for grabs.

But soon he’ll be talking and learning new words.

That’s where you come in. There are several words you’ve been using incorrectly this week, and it’s going to confuse my son. So my request is that, regardless of your political or religious affiliations, that you would make an attempt to use these words the way the dictionary says they should be used.

The words in question are “brave” and “dignity.”

This week, a woman committed suicide. Many people are calling it a “brave” and “dignified” way to die. Now I’m not looking to discuss whether doctor-assisted suicide is a good or bad thing. I’m mainly concerned with the language we’re using to describe it.

“Bravery,” as I understand it, is putting yourself in danger or harm for the sake of others. Most dictionaries agree, saying that it is the ability to face danger, fear, and pain.

The soldiers defending our country are brave. They put themselves in harm’s way every single day to assure that you and I are safe. Many of them will die protecting us. They face danger, fear, and pain so you don’t have to. They are brave.

Christians who are being beheaded as we speak are brave. Terrorists are threatening to murder them in grisly ways unless they renounce their faith and embrace Allah. They have held to their convictions, and have been slaughtered as a result. They are brave.

Brittany Maynard didn’t want to fight. She didn’t face pain. She chose to bow out early, to die of a drug overdose in her bed rather than survive as long as possible for the sake of her husband, mother, and friends. That is not brave.

In any other context, we would call that cowardice. But at any rate, no one in their right mind would call that bravery.

But we didn’t stop there. Not only are we trying to confuse my son with nonsensical definitions of “bravery,” but we are also calling the way she died a “death with dignity.”

The implication is that those who have chosen to fight their illness rather than give up early have not died with dignity.

My grandmother died seventeen years ago fighting cancer. She lost all her hair, lost significant amounts of weight, and was bedridden in her last days, before dying a few days after Christmas. To say Brittany Maynard died with dignity is to say my grandmother died in an undignified fashion.

One was a fighter. The other was too afraid to fight.

One thought of her family. The other thought of herself.

One ended up losing the battle. The other gave up with a bottle of pills in her hand.

My purpose is not to criticize Brittany Maynard. Really, I just want my children to know what words actually mean.

We don’t need to call Brittany Maynard’s actions cowardly. That’s unnecessary, and will just make people mad. But please, for the sake of my son and his developing mind, let’s give up this ruse of calling her actions “brave” and “dignified.” Because her death was neither brave nor dignified.

Halloween

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“)