October 30, 2014

Should Christians Participate in Halloween?

Every year at this time articles show up asking the question, "Should Christians Celebrate Halloween?"  And the authors usually come up with the same answer. "Yes."  Every year I think I should voice my opinion and I remain silent.  I am repenting of that.  My answer is, "No."

Thirty years ago the Holy Spirit convicted me to NOT participate in Halloween. My children have never participated and gone trick-or-treating, dressed in costumes, etc.

I feel that fact that the topic keeps coming up is because 'the church' is not completely comfortable with their participation and keeps trying to justify it. Several years ago, when my children were young, I was 'seduced' into participating in a "Harvest Party" held at our church.  I was uncomfortable the entire night thinking, "What is the difference?"

It's October 31st, every one is wearing a costume and getting candy.  What's the difference?  

The Christians argue that:
 a) the costumes are innocent or a Bible character
 b) they're not calling it a Halloween party
 c) they're hoping 'the lost' will come and they can share Jesus

Christian Broadcasting Network has a good article explaining all the origins of the Halloween traditions - all of which are pagan and having to do with the dead rising and communicating with us at this time.  This article also states that early in American history Halloween was not celebrated because of our strong Christian heritage.

Are the specific customs of Halloween related to pagan beliefs?
Since Halloween itself originated in paganism, it is not surprising that its customs are related to pagan belief. According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica,
In ancient Britain and Ireland, the Celtic Festival of Samhain was observed on October 31, at the end of summer…. The souls of the dead were supposed to revisit their homes on this day and the autumnal festival acquired sinister significance, with ghosts, witches, goblins, black cats, fairies and demons of all kinds said to be roaming about. It was the time to placate the supernatural powers controlling the processes of nature. In addition, Halloween was thought to be the most favorable time for divinations concerning marriage, luck, health, and death. It was the only day on which the help of the devil was invoked for such purposes.
Halloween symbols, customs, and practices undoubtedly have had a variety of influences upon Western culture throughout history. However, in early American history, Halloween was not celebrated due to America’s strong Christian heritage. It was not widely observed until the twentieth century. Initially, it was practiced only in small Irish Catholic settlements, until thousands of Irish migrated to America during the great potato famine and brought their customs with them. To some degree, our modern Halloween is an Irish holiday with early origins in the Celtic winter festival. Interestingly, in American culture, the rise in popularity of Halloween also coincides roughly with the national rise in spiritism that began in 1848.
Irish Holiday
Ireland is the only place in the world where Halloween is actually a national holiday (celebrated with fireworks); children are even released from school for the week.
Among the modern customs and practices of Halloween, we can note numerous probable or possible influences, some of which follow.
Where did the jack-o’-lantern originate?
The carved pumpkin may have originated with the witches’ use of a collection of skulls with a candle in each to light the way to coven meetings. But among the Irish, who, as noted, prompted the popularization of Halloween in America, the legend of “Irish Jack” explains the jack-o’-lantern. According to the legend, a stingy drunk named Jack tricked the devil into climbing an apple tree for an apple, but then cut the sign of a cross into the trunk of the tree to prevent the devil from coming down. Jack then forced the devil to swear he would never come after Jack’s soul. The devil reluctantly agreed.
Jack eventually died, but he was turned away at the gates of heaven because of his drunkenness and life of selfishness. He was sent to the devil, who also rejected him, keeping his promise. Since Jack had no place to go, he was condemned to wander the earth. As he was leaving hell (he happened to be eating a turnip), the devil threw a live coal at him. He put the coal inside the turnip and has since forever been roaming the earth with his “jack-o’-lantern” in search of a place to rest. Eventually, pumpkins replaced turnips since it was much easier to symbolize the devil’s coal inside a pumpkin.
How did the tradition of trick-or-treating begin?
There are several ancient practices that point to this tradition. One possibility is from the notion that ancient witches had to steal the materials needed for their festivals. The Druids may have believed that witches held this day to be special, something clearly true for modern witches.
The idea of trick-or-treating is further related to the ghosts of the dead in pagan, and even Catholic, history. For example, among the ancient Druids, “The ghosts that were thought to throng about the houses of the living were greeted with a banquet-laden table. At the end of the feast, masked and costumed villagers representing the souls of the dead paraded to the outskirts of town leading the ghosts away.”
As already noted, Halloween was thought to be a night when mischievous and evil spirits roamed freely. As in modern poltergeist lore, mischievous spirits could play tricks on the living—so it was advantageous to “hide” from them by wearing costumes. Masks and costumes were worn to either scare away the ghosts or to keep from being recognized by them:
In Ireland especially, people thought that ghosts and spirits roamed after dark on Halloween. They lit candles or lanterns to keep the spirits away, and if they had to go outside, they wore costumes and masks to frighten the spirits or to keep from being recognized by these unearthly beings.
Where did Halloween costumes originate?
Besides the reasons given above, Halloween masks and costumes were used to hide one’s attendance at pagan festivals or—as in traditional shamanism (mediated by a witch doctor or pagan priest) and other forms of animism—to change the personality of the wearer to allow for communication with the spirit world. Here, costumes could be worn to ward off evil spirits. On the other hand, the costume wearer might use a mask to try to attract and absorb the power of the animal represented by the mask and costume worn. According to this scenario, Halloween costumes may have originated with the Celtic Druid ceremonial participants, who wore animal heads and skins to acquire the strength of a particular animal.
An additional layer of tradition explaining the origin of Halloween costumes comes from the medieval Catholic practice of displaying the relics of saints on All Saints’ Day: “The poorer churches could not afford relics and so instituted a procession with parishioners dressed as the patron saints; the extras dressed as angels or devils and everyone paraded around the churchyard.”
Going from door to door seeking treats may result from the Druidic practice of begging material for the great bonfires. As we will see later, it is also related to the Catholic concept of purgatory and the custom of begging for a “soul cake.”
As for the “trick” custom of Halloween, this is related to the idea that ghosts and witches created mischief on this particular night. For example, if the living did not provide food, or “treats,” for the spirits, then the spirits would “trick” the living. People feared terrible things might happen to them if they did not honor the spirits. The Druids also believed that failure to worship their gods would bring dire consequences. If the gods were not treated properly in ritual, they would seek vengeance. This was therefore a day of fear. Further, some people soon realized that a mischievous sense of humor, or even malevolence, could be camouflaged—that they could perform practical jokes on or do harm to others and blame it on the ghosts or witches roaming about.
What’s the significance of fruits and nuts at Halloween?
Halloween traditions often involve fruit centerpieces, apples, and nuts. Three of the sacred fruits of the Celts were acorns, apples, and nuts, especially the hazelnut, considered a god, and the acorn, sacred from its association to the oak. Fruits and nuts also seem to be related to the Roman harvest feast of Pomona, apparently the goddess of fruit. For example, in ancient Rome, cider was drawn and the Romans bobbed for apples, which was part of a divination that supposedly helped a person discover their future marriage partner.
How did we get the tradition of telling ghost stories?
It became a natural expression of Halloween to tell ghost stories when dead souls were believed to be everywhere, and good, mischievous, and evil spirits roamed freely. These stories further originated as a personal expression of these beliefs.
Christ came to redeem His people.  Many might argue that we can 'redeem' Halloween.  But one of the meanings of the word 'redeem' is to restore to original purpose.  

The Bible warns: “There must never be anyone among you who . . . consults ghosts or spirits, or calls up the dead.” (Deuteronomy 18:10-12) While some view Halloween as harmless fun, the Bible indicates that the practices associated with it are not. 1 Corinthians 10:20, 21, the Bible says: “I do not want you to be participants with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too.”New International Version.

So the 'church' may have the attitude that they can 'clean up' the holiday but a "bad tree cannot bear good fruit." I feel the fact that the church participates shows how far we've come from God's command, "Be not conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind to prove what is that good and perfect, acceptable will of God."  Romans 12:2

My daughter is raising her children in the fear and admonition of the Lord.  My three year old grandson, Levi, is very spiritually sensitive.  He can't read and there was no picture identifying the 'Halloween Store' that opens every year in our city, but Levi was horrified the first time they passed it after it opened.  He's also horrified by all the Halloween decor in the stores.  Have we lost our spiritual sensitivity?

Many children during this season will experience an increase in nightmares and night terrors.  They are sensing the spirit realm.

Today, Halloween is the most popular holiday following a close second on Christmas!  The thing that saddens me is that the church could have turned it around.  They could have stayed quiet and just not participated. Pastors could have made their congregations aware of the roots of this.  We could have just abstained and that alone would have convicted the world. Supposedly we are a Christian nation.  

2 Chronicles 14 talks about Asa doing what was right in the sight of the Lord and he tore down the foreign altars and the pagan shrines. The point being that Asa being a follower of God did not participate in anything that was related to Pagan religion.  Instead he destroyed all traces of it.  

Demons are drawn to anything like this that celebrates their existence.  When we expose our children to this activity in any way, they will suffer the consequences.  Then the church will wonder why the Holy Spirit is not moving with more power on Sunday,  why they're not hearing God's voice as clearly as they like, why our country is becoming so ungodly.

We were attending a church several years ago and on October 1st they decorated their platform like a cemetery with giant spiders and webs and tomb stones.  During offering, I was shocked when they played, "The Monster Mash" during offering.  The Holy Spirit came on me and I sat through offering and wept.  

So for the record:  I disagree.  I am not telling anyone else what to do.  But I want to stand with the few that are following the conviction of the Holy Spirit and who have not been swayed by the majority.  

love and blessings~

October 9, 2014

How Our Emotions Affect Our Health

Jesus had a reason when He counseled us through His Word to "not let the sun go down on our anger." (Ephesians 4:26) One reason is that our emotions have a huge effect on our immune system.

We are exposed to illness and cancer-causing factors every day.  Our environment is literally toxic.  

If you research carcinogens in our world the list is endless:  flouride in our water, sugar, preservatives, pesticides, plastics, cosmetics, cleaners, etc, etc, etc.  The one that always makes me shake my head is that one of the common ingredients in sun blocks is a known carcinogen. 

After considering this list, it's more amazing that we ALL don't have cancer. Actually, our body has cancer cells in it right now.  The difference between those that "get cancer"  and those that don't is our immune system. 

God has given us an immune system to protect our health.  It's like a wall of protection for our body. When germs, infection and carcinogens enter our body it sends anti-bodies to fight against these and retain our good health.  We support our immune system with good nutrition and soul-health.  

III John 2 says, "Beloved, I desire that you be in good health and prosper, even as your soul prospers." Not only does God desire to always bless us with healing, He desires that we walk in good health and never need healing!  There is a direct correlation between our soul - our mind, will, and emotions - and our health.  Negative emotions and sin manifest in our bodies as illness.

A wounded heart will often result in a sick body.  When we are discouraged, sad, weary, rejected, angry, holding a grudge, resentful, vengeful, etc it can greatly weaken our immune system and leave us vulnerable to the germs and cancer cells in our bodies.  And we become sick.  

The first thing I do when I start not feeling well is seek God to see if there is sin in my life.  Maybe I was offended yesterday by something someone said, maybe I judged someone, maybe I did not obey God in something He directed me to do.  Sin gives the enemy legal license to attack us.  

But sometimes I realize that my feelings are hurt (offense), or that I'm discouraged (not resting in God) or I'm exhausted (not following the Holy Spirit).  As I repent of these things (change what I am doing) and ask God for forgiveness, I'll often see the sickness disappear immediately or within a few hours.  If I clearly realize where I've gone wrong I repent, ask God's forgiveness and then begin to bless my body, rebuke the sickness or headache, and begin to praise God for His healing and seek to receive it.  As my soul is healed, my body is healed.  

Job was a righteous man that stated, "the thing I have feared has come upon me."  'Fear' was the sin that gave Satan the legal right to attack him.  God would have never given His permission for Satan's attack unless there was an open door in Job's life.  As Job put his full trust in God, God restores everything to Job in a double portion.  

Several months ago I had an opportunity to pray for a lady who had suffered from a degenerative spinal condition for years.  She had multiple herniated discs in her back and was in constant pain and limited movement.  After talking to her for a few minutes and listening to what was wrong, I placed my hands on her back and prayed as the Holy Spirit directed.  

After a few minutes I paused and asked her if there was any change.  She answered that her upper back felt good but there was still pain her in lower back.  I moved my hands lower (with her permission) and prayed some more. When I finished I asked her to try to do something she'd not been able to do before.

She twisted around, swung her arms and bent down and touched her toes.  Her eyes became wide as she looked at me and told me that "nothing hurts!"  She moved all around again.   I gave glory to God and told her how much God loved her and wanted to her to be whole.  She exclaimed and marveled as she left that she was healed.   BUT...

Within the next few weeks her condition returned to a lesser degree.  I haven't heard but I suspect it may return completely.  

I believe that she has a very wounded soul.  I sensed bitterness and unforgiveness and many complicated emotions as I lay hands on her.  These negative emotions may very well be the cause for her body's deterioration and until she allows the Holy Spirit to soften her heart and bring repentance, she may battle this manifestation.

The Word tells us that  'Jesus bore our illness and our disease and by His stripes, we are healed."  (Isaiah 53:4) God has compassion on us and He is not without mercy and love for us and our wounded souls.  However, He knows that holding unforgiveness and anger will weaken us and allow sickness to dominate us.  In His compassion He sent Jesus to pay the price and provide salvation.   The very name "Jesus" mean "He heals/He saves"  Salvation and healing are synonymous. 

The Bible also tells us that "God sends His Word and He heals us." (Psalm 107:20)  The Word of God is healing to our soul and body.  When we are battling sickness it is so beneficial to us to spend large amounts of time reading, memorizing and meditating on God's Word.  

As we renew our minds in the Word, our soul is healed of hurts and of 'wrong thinking.' Romans 12:2 says, " And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect."  The Word teaches us to think like God and to know His will.

"For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, 4for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. 5We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,…" 2 Corinthians 10:3,4,5

As we draw near to God, we begin to realize His mercy and love for us and for others.  We are able to receive healing for our wounded souls and extended forgiveness to others.

Love and blessings!
Next post (God willing) - Healing and Good Nutrition