Archives for October 2012

My Halloween Love/Hate Relationship

Written By Amy

Welcome to Monday!  I don’t know about your family, but this morning was a little tougher than usual for us all to wake up.  Maybe it’s the dark dark morning that tricks our sleep clock, or the whirl wind weekend that we just came off of.  This week is full of anticipation for my kids…they love Halloween.  They love the costumes, the parties, and of course, the king-sized pillowcase full of candy they raise as their treasure after the trick-or-treating quest.

I, on the other hand, don’t love Halloween.  Motherhood has soured me.  Let’s start with the costumes.  It goes against every practical bone in my body to spend loads of money on something my kids will wear once, and is often from a cheesy Halloween store. I know, bah humbug!  I can’t help it.  I’ve tried….I’ve made costumes for my kids (not such a good idea–see last year’s Angry Bird costume below), I’ve borrowed costumes (somewhat appeases me), and of course I’ve bought costumes, sometimes too early and my child changes her mind the week before Halloween.  As you can probably guess, I won’t budge and buy another costume=unhappy child.  I try not to let my kids in on my inner thoughts.  I just smile and pay.

 

Last year’s costumes:

 

The candy is the other issue.  As I get older, those 5 tiny boxes of MilkDuds I ingest before and after Halloween (OK, 8….my husband is laughing here….fine, too many to count)  just don’t seem to disappear into the oblivion of high metabolism.  No, they hang around with me, for a good month.  As does all the other little deceiving packages of candy that are irresistible. Just in time for Thanksgiving.

I vowed that this year I would wait until the DAY OF Halloween to buy any candy.  I caved yesterday at King Soopers, justifying my “time” this week to be running back to the store (again, who am I kidding?  I always end up going to the store on Halloween to replace the candy I have eaten!) Two little opened boxes of Milk Duds stare at me right now, last night’s break down of willpower right before bed.  So, when my husband goes on a trip in a few hours, I will be sending the grocery bag full of candy with him to keep in his trunk until it gets back.

Finally, I tend to feel torn between the excitement my kids have over this holiday and being a Christian.  Where am I supposed to stand on this issue?  I have dear Christian friends who do not celebrate this holiday at all.  I also have dear Christian friends whom I respect and are working in ministry who go all out!  I found this wonderful piece of writing on this topic from another blog called:   http://www.reallifeblog.net.  Here’s what the author has to say:

DEVOTION: HOW IS A CHRISTIAN SUPPOSED TO CELEBRATE HALLOWEEN?

I used to be completely against acknowledging anything about Halloween. When I learned the true origins based in Paganism, I was convinced that by joining in any of the traditions, I would be condoning paganism, and opening myself to demonic activity. (I do feel that, at this time in my life, I gave way too much credit and attention to evil, even while praying about it)

Christian Pumpkin Devotions

Until I had children. Especially children who loved to dress up like princesses. I was torn about whether to let them take part in what they see as fun, dress-up, eating candy. Would we go to the church Fall Festival, or avoid it altogether? I decided that I would not let the enemy have the power to steal my daughters’ joy over something they didn’t understand. By giving him credit he does not deserve and making my girls feel left out, I may just be fueling the fire of rebellion later. Now, there is something to teaching them that we do not completely fit in this world. It’s true that we are in but not of the world. But I don’t know that my kids have the intellectual capacity to understand this yet.

So we don’t celebrate with witches, superstition, black cats, ghosts, etc. We do dress up in girly costumes, and go to the Fall Festival and get candy. I let them dress up at school and dance class, because that is really all it is to them~dressing up.

It’s an age-old question in the faith community: Should Christians celebrate Halloween? I found a great article dealing with the origins of Halloween and the issues of Christians celebrating it. They compare it to the issue in the Bible of eating meat sacrificed to idols. They also raise the question I was thinking about last week about Christmas trees. The Christmas Tree was originally part of a festival to a fertility god. Does this mean that if we have a Christmas Tree, we are worshiping the fertility god? No, because of it’s cultural context. That being said, I do know of Christians who don’t have Christmas Trees, for this reason. It is a matter of personal conviction.

______________________________________________________________________________________________

That last sentence said it all for me.  I am convicted to fall in the middle somewhere with my family.  Between the crazy costume stress, the extra pounds of love I carry after the wake of the 31st, I find joy in watching my children find joy.  We don’t do “dark” costumes, or celebrate anything tied to evil…but we do have a lot of fun.

 

What If, What Goes In Comes Out?

Written by Jen

There is a children’s song that says,

“Oh, be careful little ears, what you hear
Oh, be careful little eyes, what you see,
Oh, be careful little mouth, what you say,
Oh, be careful little hands, what you do,
Oh, be careful little feet where you go
Oh, be careful little mind what you think
Oh, be careful little heart what you love”

There is wisdom in this.

What does your mind dwell on?  Often we think about things a for long time before we act on them.  When you ask yourself that question, “What does my mind dwell on?”  or “Who does my mind dwell on?”, What is your answer?  Take a few days to notice what or who or when or where your minds dwells.  What if, what goes in comes out?  Your mind is a good place to take note of where your heart is and where your feet and hands may go.  Our mind is not always a good place and often needs to be redirected.  These are serious matters.  I am sure that Judas thought about betraying Jesus before he did.  Before a person has an affair, they have let their mind go there often.  Before a crime is committet it is plotted in one’s mind.  Your mind, your life, your heart and your skills can be used for good, not so good or even evil or greatness.  It is your choice.  What kind of mark will you leave on this world?  What kind of impact will you have on the people around you?  Who will you be?  What contribution will you give to society?  It is up to you.  Consider, where your mind dwells.  It is a good indication of where you will end up.  Does your mind need redirecting?  It all starts in your mind.

For me, what goes through my mind is a daily battle.  My thoughts swing like a ball on a pendulum from one side to the next.  Sometimes my mind rests on a person, a moment, a situation or an event.  It could be in the past or something I picture could be in the future.  Some of these places my mind rests are good and some are not helpful or healthy.  Some places could lead to good and others could lead to destruction.  Be aware.   Alert yourself of your thoughts.  You can control your mind!  Just as well as you can control your hands, your mouth, your eyes, your feet, what goes in your ears, and your heart.  Be wise, be careful.

What could happen when a person becomes associated or obsessed with say the Joker?  A dark character. Here is a link to a New York Times article addressing Jack Nicholson’s comment to Heath Ledger on the role of the ‘Joker’.   There are a lot of things that run through our minds.  We can try and say what is in my mind will stay there.  It won’t happen. Anything you are dwelling on and then justifying by saying it won’t happen to me, that thought is safe there in my mind.  Be careful! What is in your mind may lead other parts of you to follow, first your eyes may follow, then your ears, maybe your hands, your words, your feet and maybe even your heart.  Does it lead to who you want to be?  Do those thoughts lead to the kind of contribution you want to make in this world?  Will it make the people around you better?  Will it take you and the people around you that you on a path of destruction?

What if, what goes in comes out?

What does the Bible say?

Matthew 9:4
Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, “Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts?

Matthew 12:25
Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand.

Matthew 15:19 
For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.

How do we control our mind?

According to the Bible:

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthythink about such things.” Philippians 4:8

Take your thoughts captive, control and direct them.  2 Corinthians 10:5
“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

Know Good, Know God, Know Who Jesus is and His power.  Study on such matters.  Put them in your heart and in your mind.  For example, what can you learn in this verse about Jesus, the Son of Man?  Matthew 9:5-8 “Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But I want you to know that the Son of Man(I) has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man, “Get up, take your mat and go home.” Then the man got up and went home. When the crowd saw this, they were filled with awe; and they praised God,(J) who had given such authority to man.”

Read Matthew 15, Jesus warned that out of the heart the mouth flows.  In these two stories do you see what his, Jesus’s, mouth said and where his heart was?  Read it here.

Read Matthew 12:15-21 HERE.

This is a start.  Choose what goes in.

“Oh, be careful little ears, what you hear
Oh, be careful little eyes, what you see,
Oh, be careful little mouth, what you say,
Oh, be careful little hands, what you do,
Oh, be careful little feet where you go
Oh, be careful little mind what you think
Oh, be careful little heart what you love”

 

 

God and Pumpkins

Written By Amy

This has been shared to me several times, but I think it’s a great reminder this time of year of the simple truth of the Christian faith expressed through the carving of a pumpkin.  Share this with your friends, and with your children.

 

How becoming a Christian is like carving a pumpkin:

God picks you from the patch, brings you in, and washes all the dirt off of you.  Then he cuts the top off and scoops out all the yucky stuff.  He removes the seeds of fear, doubt, hate, impurity, and greed. Then he carves you a new smiling face and puts His light inside of you to shine for all the world to see.

The following is from a blogger named Liz Higgs that I stumbled upon.  You can check out her blog here…she has some great perspective on celebrating Halloween as Christians.

“You can also use this prayer with your children when you carve your pumpkins in conjunction with the story (above).

{cut off top of pumpkin} Lord, open my mind so I can learn new things about you.

{remove innards} Remove the things in my life that don’t please you. Forgive the wrong things I do and help me to forgive others.

{cut open eyes} Open my eyes to see the beauty you’ve made in the world around me.

{cut out nose} I’m sorry for the times I’ve turned my nose at the good food you provide.

{cut out mouth} Let everything I say please You.

{light the candle} Lord, help me show your light to others through the things I do. Amen”

By: Liz Curtis Higgs

 

 

 

 

What Do You Do With Fear?

Written By Jen

Colorado has had a strange 2012 filled with record-setting fires and destruction, the Aurora shootings and recently a 10-year-old girl abducted and gruesomely murdered.  The most recent tragedy has had powerful impact on our community.  Darkness, fear, anxiety, anger, sorrow, grief and unbelief at such evil around our homes has swayed the atmosphere.  There is also protectiveness, alertness, caution, communication, gratitude, and love that is coming from this tragedy.  Authorities believe the killer lives in this community and is at large.  There are a lot of mammas who just started sleeping a lot less around here.  A lot of fathers who have a renewed awareness of the burden to protecting their families, on their shoulders and a community aware of EVIL.  There is no other way to put it, you thought you lived in happy suburbia and suddenly you realize there is EVIL in this world.  Real dark, disturbing, grotesque EVIL.  When slammed with such a reality you begin to become immersed and wonder what is good?  Who is good?  How does good and light fit into this?  This is unbelievable.  I know from friends and Facebook that there are a lot of people who just got their foundation rocked.  Fear has laid its heavy cloak on them.  Anxiety is rattling the windows.  Kids and adults alike see the world around them through a new view.  I can identify and add in my personal, “Me too!”  I can NOT imagine what the family of this young girl is going through.  Our hearts go out to them.

 

So what do we do with all that?  What do you do?  My honest answer is I have no clue.  I still feel like I am in the after-shocks and trying to find my footing on the playground of life.  I wanted to share with you a few things that have helped.

1. I asked for prayer.  I am aware this rocked my world a little and I could use some friends.  I asked my Bible Study, my dear friends and family to pray for me, our family, our community, law enforcement and the family of the victim   I/we need the truth of God’s word.  Think of how many times Paul asked for people to pray for him…. LOTS.  I also have been praying with my husband and kids.

2.  Here is a good article that one of our pastors wrote.  It is called God Cares by Scott Nickel.  I read it, I encourage you to read it.  It has some great truths in there.  Ultimately, God is the final judge.

3. I am trying to gain wisdom.  How can I be wise and teach my family to be wise?  I am talking to my kids, husband, neighbors, police officers, officials and administrators.  In doing this I learned I can quickly become obsessed with the news and reports.  I think it is good to be informed  but be-careful that you are not consumed.  There is a balance between being informed and then being obsessed.  Guard your mind.

4.  Get into YOUR BIBLE.  It is so much easier to stock the news and Facebook, but you may be surprised that God just has something to say on the issue.

Here are a few things I have been learning when I have chosen to spend time with God.

 

ASK GOD FOR WISDOM. I want wisdom, on how to live in this crazy world, right?  Here is what I am studying in my Bible study.  James 1:5-7 “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.”

Beth Moore expands on this in our James study saying, “Look back at verse 7.  Isn’t it interesting that the person who doubts, waffles, and wavers “should not expect to receive anything from the Lord”?  Anything?  Wow.  That means that doubt not only robs us of the wisdom we requested but other priceless provisions as well.  Matthew 6:33 represents the reverse: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (KJV).  Do you see the concept of overflow coming from both directions?  Faith receives more than it asks   Doubt loses more than it disbelieved   Matthew 13:11-12 conveys a similar idea.  A lot is at stake here.  Let’s look at our options again.  What happens if we chuck all single-mindedness and whole-heartedness for the natural life of duplicity?  We get the grand prize: a life of instability.  A double-minded man “is unstable in all his ways” (Jas 1:8).  I don’t know if the word “unstable” makes you squirm, but it does me.  How may of us can truly say we don’t sometimes feel about a quarter of an inch form instability?  About an eighth of an inch form the edge?  One tiny crisis from breakdown?  Even a surge of imaginary harm can weaken our knees and quicken our pulse.  The NET Bible translation for Isaiah 33:6 has been in my memory verse spiral for years: “he is your constant source of stability.”  Yes, He is and when the Enemy threatens to send me reeling like a weak footed drunk on a slick sidewalk  I remind him of the One who is my constant source of stability.”  Beth More, James p.51.

God is your ROCK.  Okay so I needed to hear that.  James 1:5, ask God for wisdom, believing.  I need to remember Isaiah 33:6 “He is your constant source of stability.”

God and Jesus Get It! I felt comfort when I was reading John Eldredge’s book Beautiful Outlaw.  The 9th chapter is called Cunning.  Here is a quote from it pages 93-94, “In a piece of advice that could have been lifted from a CIA training manual or the whispered meetings of a revolutionary cell, Jesus tells his little platoon, “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves  therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16.)  We like the innocent as doves part; that sounds nice.  Very Sunday school.  But the first bit– hold on now.  Shrewd as snakes?   When you hear someone say, “He’s such a a snake,” do you think, Oh — what a fine Christian.   The things Jesus says.  Let’s get the religious drapery off this.  A dove and a snake.  Surely they remember the dove descending on Jesus.  As for the snake metaphor–these Jews would have connected that instantly to the serpent in the Garden.  Be as holy as the Spirit and be as cunning as Satan.  You want us to do what?!  Jesus is saying, “Look, this is a very dangerous world.”  The disciples glance at one another, thinking, Right.  We’ve got the Son of God our side.  “I mean it,” he continues “take this seriously.  I ‘m sending you into the Congo with a butter knife.  You are easy pickings.  You must be holy and you must be cunning.”  They’ve been watching Jesus for a few years now.  His way of maneuvering must have given this command a sober weightiness.  Let’s go back and pick up our earlier clarity (probably lost by now) regarding the context of Jesus’ life — those murdered little boys, their parents wiling, the angle in the night, Jesus bundled tight beneath a cloak as his parents fled the country.  Jesus is a hunted man.  Many times over these past three years he has ducked out-of-town because the thugs were waiting to take him.  He is not fool.  He knows full well he is operating behind enemy lines.  Oh, he intends a revolution, but he knows timing is essential.  He must outwit his enemy, circumvent the religious authorities without seeming to do so, and train hs followers to carry on afer his departure– despite the fact they appear to have the common sense of a three-year-old.”
From this Eldredge passage, I really like that Jesus gets it.  He is fully aware of the evil in this world and that we live all around it.  I think Jesus had some good advice for us in this Colorado situation.   “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves  therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16.)  I don’t know about you but I feel a bit like a sheep amongst wolves sometimes.  I am probably no match for a serial killer.  I think the whole idea of  not dwelling on the side of evil or helplessness, but resting on what you can do.  Be pure, be innocent, be holy as I am holy and by wise, cunning and shrewd.  It seems right in my soul.

Others have felt like this. I was reading and praying with my daughter the other night and she was full of questions and concern.  I flipped to Psalm 36 and this is what it says:

1 Sin whispers to the wicked, deep within their hearts.
They have no fear of God at all.
In their blind conceit,
they cannot see how wicked they really are.
Everything they say is crooked and deceitful.
They refuse to act wisely or do good.
They lie awake at night, hatching sinful plots.
Their actions are never good.
They make no attempt to turn from evil.

Your unfailing love, O Lord, is as vast as the heavens;
your faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds.
Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains,
your justice like the ocean depths.
You care for people and animals alike, O Lord.
 How precious is your unfailing love, O God!
All humanity finds shelter
in the shadow of your wings.
You feed them from the abundance of your own house,
letting them drink from your river of delights.
For you are the fountain of life,
the light by which we see.

10 Pour out your unfailing love on those who love you;
give justice to those with honest hearts.
11 Don’t let the proud trample me
or the wicked push me around.
12 Look! Those who do evil have fallen!
They are thrown down, never to rise again.
At first I was wondering just how Psalm 36:1-4 could even be encouraging.  That is exactly what is so FREAKY.  There are people in our community doing exactly that.  But again, I find comfort in knowing this is NO surprise to God.  He knows these people.  He knows what they are like.  He even understands how they have no idea how wicked they are.  He also states in verse 12 what happens to people like this.  They are thrown down, never to rise again.  I also LOVE everything in verses 5-11.  There is NO DARKNESS in God.  HE IS GOOD. HE IS LIGHT.  He is unfailing and faithful.  He is nothing like this evil.   I love this song by Thrid Day on Psalm 36.  ENJOY as you LISTEN!

Finally, my husband read Psalm 47 to us.  It is good.  Here is it for you to read.    I hope you are finding encouragement and refuge in God, in the face of this evil.  I also want to thank all the law enforcement and the good hearts in the community.  Thank you for doing your  job with excellence, diligently working on the case and thank you Colorado community caring for one-another.  Let us find ourselves in the shelter of the God Most High’s wings.  Let us carry on in love and good deeds.  Let us support one another and be as innocent as doves and as shrewd as snakes.  Let us ask God for wisdom. We, the people of Colorado, the people of God around the world let us join and support one another as we look to God as our source of LIGHT and our example of Love and wisdom.

Psalm 46

God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Come and see what the Lord has done,
the desolations he has brought on the earth.
He makes wars cease
to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the shields with fire.
10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”

11 The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Psalm 143:8

 

Cause me to hear Your loving-kindness in the morning, for on You do I lean and in You do I trust.   Cause me to know the way wherein I should walk, for I lift up my innerself to you.  Psalm 143:8

 Love and Kindness waiting for me when I wake

A Rock To Lean On

A Living God to Trust In

Wisdom Given When Sought

A Guide For My Feet

 

My soul, my innerself, I place in your loving hands today.

 

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