Friday, October 26, 2012

Ghouls and Goblins and Ghosts, Oh My!

              I don’t think you’d have to think too hard to know what’s coming up soon: Halloween.  The decorations have been up for the whole month – ghosts, witches, Jack-o-lanterns, etc.  Halloween can be a touchy subject to some Christians.  I know some who celebrate it and some who don’t.  Personally, I don’t celebrate Halloween.  I’ve never gone Trick-or-Treating, nor have we decorated our home with the holiday d├ęcor.  With this in mind, I’m not going to go spouting off all kinds of Halloween history and stories involving witches to try to “scare” you away from celebrating Halloween.  I think most everyone knows what the holiday is about.  I don’t believe that’s the point.  You can decide whether or not you will celebrate an occasion or participate in activities even if the holiday isn’t Christian.  What I think is necessary, however, is to know how celebrating things like this impact our walk with Christ.

                First of all, is participating in Halloween or decorating for it a sin?  No, it’s not.  But simply because something isn’t a sin doesn’t mean we should do it.  Celebrating Halloween may not put us in the wrong place with God, but it can make it very difficult to stay in His footsteps.  Think about this: how easy is it to separate Halloween from death?  If you were to decorate your house for Halloween, could you do it in such a way to not make people think of death and darkness?  That’s not as easy.  As Christians, our goal is to proclaim life to those who need it.  Christ wants us to not focus on the death -on the darkness.  He wants us to focus on Him and His glory.  We put Christmas decorations outside in December proclaiming our Christianity and showing the wonder of Christ’s birth so that others see them and think of our Lord.  Would someone look at a house on Halloween and see the beauty of Christ portrayed?  I doubt it.

                So decorating a house for Halloween might not be Christ-like, but what’s wrong with Trick-or-Treating?  This one is a little tougher.  This yearly event seems innocent enough, so what could possibly be wrong with it? (Other than the cavities, of course.)  Actually, there are a few things wrong with Trick-or-Treating.  One of the worst things is that it teaches kids selfishness.  Not that they have big signs saying “Selfishness rocks!” or “Be greedy and you won’t be needy!”  It teaches selfishness subtly.  Selfishness is naturally ingrained in us.  We teach it to others by simply feeding the desire.  Think about it.  A Trick-or-Treater goes door to door simply accepting gifts wherever they go.  No work.  Nothing is given.  Many times, not even a thank you.  It’s important to remember that there is nothing in the world that does not teach something.  And if it doesn’t teach a good virtue, it’s teaching a bad one.  If Trick-or-Treating involved giving, I would have a lot less of a problem with it.  But the point is: it doesn’t

                 As I said before, many of my friends celebrate Halloween.  It’s sometimes hard to be one of the only people to find something wrong with it.  Spending a night dressed up as someone different and getting a whole lot of candy sounds like a lot of fun – but it just doesn’t sit right with me.  I don’t want to spend a day celebrating death.  I’d rather just wait a month and spend a day in thanksgiving to God for all that he’s done for me.  Celebration was a gift given to us by our Creator.  Let’s not waste it on death and darkness – the very thing from which Christ saved us.

                 This can be a very differential topic.  What are your thoughts?  Do you agree or disagree with a point that I made?  Please leave a comment below!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Mejores Amigos

                The past few days I have been reading in the book of Ecclesiastes for my Bible study time in the mornings.  Yesterday, I came across a quite familiar passage, but a powerful one nonetheless:
“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor.  For if they fall, one will lift up his companion.  But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up.  Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; but how can one be warm alone?  Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, ESV
                Most people would say they have a best friend, and some are even gifted with more than one.  This kind of friend will stick with you when you’re going through a hard time and will listen to anything you need to say.  Understandably, a friend like this is hard to find!  Perhaps you have a friend whom you've known since your childhood.  I've known my best friend for almost all of my life.  In fact, I don’t remember a time when I didn’t know him!  Going to the same church and being close in age, we hang out together all the time.  More recently, we’ve even started doing skits at our church every so often that we’ve seen from the Skit Guys.  (If you haven’t seen the Skit Guys, you should really check them out!)  Over the years, we’ve made fun of each other and laughed like crazy, but we’ve also talked about the things that really matter to us.  We’ve talked about scripture, what we’ve learned at church, and even how we can learn better.  Our pastor has even called us “David and Jonathan” because of how great of friends we are.  No matter who you are, I believe you need a friend who you can talk to about anything.
                There are also some of us who have more than one great friend.  That’s where the last part of Ecclesiastes 4:12 comes in: “a threefold cord is not quickly broken”.  Have you ever tried to tear apart a string?  Alone, it can be fairly easy.  If you braid three strings together, however, it’s much more difficult.  If you’re so daring as to braid four strings, it becomes even more difficult!  In other words, the more the merrier!  The body of Christ was meant to be like this.  In their book, “Do Hard Things” (One of my favorite books of all time) Alex and Brett Harris give the example of horses to demonstrate the importance of companionship.  Alone, a horse can pull 2,500 pounds.  So if you put two horses together they can pull twice that, right?  Wrong!  That’s what’s so cool about friendship!  If you put two horses together, then can pull not five thousand, not ten thousand, but over twelve thousand pounds!!!  Best friends are extremely important to have.  We weren’t made to follow Christ on our own. 
Do you have a best friend?  How have they helped you?  Leave a comment below about your friendship!

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Rebellion: Not the Way They Tell it in Star Wars...

              For the past few months, I’ve been studying my Pennsylvania Driver’s Manual in order to get my permit when I turn 16 at the end of the month.  Prior to turning 15, I hadn’t even given a thought to the fact that I’d be driving soon.  It was actually my friend who got me excited about driving and motivated me to study my manual.  While reading more of the manual recently, I came across some fascinating statistics.  Not all of them were surprising, but one hit me a little differently:
“Recent Pennsylvania statistics show that 30 percent of drivers ages 16 to 20 who died in motor vehicle crashes had been drinking.  This is despite the fact that here in Pennsylvania, as well as in every other state in the U.S., there are zero tolerance laws, meaning you may not drink if you are under age 21.”
                This statement bothers me.  The fact that almost a third of crashes in my age group involved blatant disregard of authority is horrifying!  Knowing that drivers 16-25 years old have the highest rate of unbuckled seat-belts is not encouraging either.  I mean, how desperate to defy authority must you be in order to ignore something as simple as buckling a seat belt?!  The amount of rebellion in my generation today is staggering.  But it’s not just the unsaved.  I’ve seen this open defiance in places where I’m surrounded by those who claim to know Christ – in my homeschool group, and even in my church.  This kind of behavior honestly scares me.  We get so many examples of the consequences of rebellion in the Bible.  One such example is when King Saul wants to consult Samuel the prophet, who was dead.  He decides to talk to a medium (someone who uses witchcraft to bring up the dead) who lived in En-dor.

                                                      (Probably not the medium Saul talked to...)

                 Saul was already in trouble because he disobeyed God and spared some of the Amalekites and their animals against God’s command.  Trying to avoid God, he tries another route – bad idea.  His thoughtless decisions cost him his throne and eventually his life.  That story is just one of many in the Bible about rebellion; there are many others to go along with it.
                What frustrates me the most about the rebellion in my generation, however, is how many of the teens today use it as a separator between them and others – namely their parents.  Each new teen generation seems to have this crazy idea that they know more than the ones before them; that they have all the answers and everyone who believes differently is wrong.  What kind of insane idea is that?!  Ahem, ahem…
“The glory of young men is their strength, but the splendor of old men is their gray hair.” 

Sure, not too many people want grey hair nowadays, but back in Bible times it was a sign of wisdom.  Those who were older had a lot more experience and were much more knowledgeable than the younger men.  Sound a little familiar?  No matter how much it might disappoint, we as teens aren’t the wisest of the bunch.  Find some Yoda-type figure, and learn from the grey-headed!

I’m interested to hear your thoughts.  Post a comment below!