Celebrating the Ween Christianly

When it comes to Halloween many in the church have adamantly opposed celebrating it. We keep the lights off and settle in as any good curmudgeon would. Or better yet, we rebrand the holiday for our own benefit. Much like Christian music we say “if you like the sugar rush and flavors of Halloween, you will love our Harvest Festival!” It always made me chuckle how we year after year coincidentally celebrate “the harvest season” on the same day that everyone else was doing Halloween!

The opinion of some and lots of experience aside, I think we can celebrate Halloween as those looking to be a redemptive influence in our culture and communities. So if you are going to jump in and hand out high-fructose corn syrup what should you do? Here are a few clues:

  • Meet as many people as you can. Chances are you barely know the people you live next to, let alone those down the street. If you have kids there is no better expected way to meet your neighbors. Go to every house, say hi and introduce yourself as your kids get handfuls of candy. Dare I say invite some people to church! At the least, try to remember their names so next time you see them you can start a conversation.
  • Give out the best candy. Of all the people on the block, the Christians should be the most generous. So if you don’t give out the full bars of king-sized candy then at least be engaging and kind when you give out what you have.
  • Enjoy the day. Just smile more, laugh at costumes, be thankful that your neighborhood is abuzz with joyful activity.
  • Don’t be evil. Leave the ghoulish to the strange neighbor. Reject the evil of Halloween and redeem what’s good. The community, the kids, and oh my goodness, the candy!

There you have it. Go for it. Celebrate Halloween Christianly. And if you aren’t convinced, that’s cool. Follow your conscience but don’t be surprised when others are getting a sugar high. And here is Matt Chandler making the point (if you need a pastor with more cred).

Whom we are meant to fight…

Especially in the blogosphere, Christians are more and more
confused as to whom they are in battle with. Sadly, we determine to
war with each other over issues not always essential and neglect
the war on sin in our own lives. If we are to be part of widespread
revival and renewal, we must be champions of stopping this trend.
“With whom is the Christian soldier meant to fight? Not with other
Christians. Wretched indeed is that man’s idea of religion who
fancies that it consists in perpetual controversy! He who is never
satisfied unless he is engaged in some strife between church and
church, chapel and chapel, sect and sect, faction and faction,
party and party, knows nothing yet as he ought to know… But as a
general rule, the cause of sin is never so much helped as when
Christians waste their strength in quarreling with one another and
spend their time in petty squabbles.” J.C. Ryle in
Holiness. The world, our flesh and Satan are
our true enemies. Let us remember this as we wage into the
theological fray…

Flaming Korans

I think the issue has been beat to death and no thoughtful or “actual” Christians thinks it is a good idea for the small Florida church led by Terry Jones to burn a Koran this Saturday on the nine-year anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks. Frankly it is impossible for the act to be expressing the Gospel in any way and brings disrepute to God’s people instead of glory to him.

Sadly however, whether the book is actually burned or not the damage is done. All concern from religious, political and military leaders has been over the fact that such an action will increase the danger for Americans serving or living in hostile regions, especially Christians. These hostile populations don’t really care if the Florida church burns the book, in their minds it has already happened. There is no 24-hour news to reveal a last-minute change of heart, or compassion for Islam… no to those with an inclination to harm Americans for their love of freedom and possibly religion, this is mere fuel to an existing rage.

My plea is for Christians to recognize the stupidity and disgrace in so many of the things we do. This book burning does nothing to elevate a conversation where muslims can hear and believe the Gospel, and unveil the areas in which Islam is deceitful and wrong (denial of deity of Christ, criticism of human authors of the bible, etc). But this book burning is like so many other things we do that evaporate our witness of the Gospel message – outcry over a Mosque being built among strip clubs; treating politics as our messiah; living lives as drunkards but claiming Christianity; having a bloated “media” budget when members of your congregation are starving; embracing “tolerance” for its own sake; the list could go on and on and honestly we all have an area in our lives that we recognize as fitting into this category.

I have always said that if I was surrounded by 50 fully committed people we could change the world. This Koran burning is a perfect example of how a 50 person church is shifting the conversation. sadly it is away from the Gospel instead of toward it. As this all plays out in the media and across the globe let us as Christians evaluate those things in our lives that must change in order for the Gospel – the sacrifice and redemption of Christ – to be heard.

Equipping

This morning I have been meditating on Ephesians 4: 11-16 as I am approaching the start of seminary and the realization of what it will mean to pursue vocational ministry. But apart from being paid to minister I am challenged by the call for unity and the ministry call of each of us in the passage.

And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. (Ephesians 4:11-16 ESV)

There is a lot here but for me I realized that I have been doing a poor job of equipping those around me for ministry. I talk an awful lot about it – how pastors should be equipping their congregation for ministry – but I believe there is a call of believers at all seasons of faith and life to be equipping other believers for ministry. This is done through discipleship/mentoring, counseling, prayer and example among others. This equipping continues until we “attain to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood.”  I have done some of this in community but under my own ability it has fallen short.

This equipping saves us from the winds of doctrine fads and deceit. This is done in community as we speak “truth in love” among each other in pursuit of God. I want to be better at equipping and my prayer is that I would daily grasp the truth that I am useless without the move of the Holy Spirit. I can teach, mentor or live with any number of people but if I am not making Christ my focus and purpose I am wasting an opportunity and bringing discredit to myself.

I am still figuring out where my ministry is and I think it is a meaningful process that we should be patient through. Where is your ministry supposed to be? How are you equipping?