Monday, October 27, 2014

Happy Halloween?

Growing up, I always wanted to go trick-or-treating (hey, free candy’s hard to pass up). But my parents, being the God-fearing, God-serving people they are, never took us. 

Finally, though, after much asking, one year they did let us go…to our own house. Seriously. My brother, sister, and I went out our back door, and walked around to the front to ring the door bell and get candy thrown into pillowcases by our own parents.

Yeah. One of those childhood cringe moments. Made even more cringe-worthy by my “awesome” ghost costume of a pink blanket thrown over my head while I wore a nightgown. One of many for me, but that’s another story.

And although it stunk then, not being able to go and do something which seemed so fun… I’m really grateful they didn’t let us.

Because then I started thinking.

Halloween’s origins are disputed. Some say it started out as a Roman Catholic holiday. Others say it’s leftover from the old Celtic holiday of Sanhaim. But despite the origins, the emphasis is pretty much the same.

Halloween celebrates death.

Lighting candles for the dead…praying for the dead…putting offerings of food on graves…this is what  Halloween was birthed on.

Even trick-or-treating is thought to be based on a practice of exchanging food for praying for souls in purgatory.

Why are we celebrating death? God has made us alive again through our Savior Jesus Christ. All the dead who accepted His sacrifice aren’t dead: they’re alive.

Jesus Himself declares that death isn’t the end. In one of His many showdowns with the Sadducees, He says how, even in the times of the Old Testament, those who knew the truth realized there is a life beyond death:

“But in the account of the burning bush, even Moses showed that the dead rise, for he calls the Lord ‘the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to Him all are alive. (Luke 20:37-38, NIV)

Let’s leave the celebration of death to those who have no hope, who reject their Only Hope. Instead, let’s celebrate life. Both what we have to serve Him now, and what we’ll have to praise Him in eternity.

Much better than some bag of candy.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Don't get it?

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” ~ Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV

There’s a whole lot of things I don’t get.

Like math. I’m pretty good at it, but when it comes to stuff like sine, cosine, and tangent, my mind just shuts down like a stubborn child (for some reason, even the creepy little rhyme “Oscar had a hold on Arthur” or whatever it was didn’t exactly make it any easier).

I also don’t get why my grandmother died of colon cancer when I was thirteen.

Or why some of my friends suffer with health issues when they try so desperately to eat right and take care of themselves.

Or why I couldn’t have some of the opportunities I so desperately wanted.

Or why…

Or why…

The good thing is, we don’t need to.

God’s plans are so much better than our own.

And even though He closes one door that we wanted to run through, He always opens another that will lead us down an even better path.

The thing is, we’ve got to take it on faith.

Think of it kind of like a GPS. We type in the address, and we trust that it’ll get us where we need to go (well, some of us have had better luck than others with those things, but that’s another story).

And when we’re driving along, we don’t get every single little step on that screen we’re following. We just get one step at a time.

And if you’re not willing to follow the GPS because you think you know a better way…well I know from experience that isn’t always such a good idea.

God has preprogrammed the GPS. He knows exactly where He wants us to get to. But we need to be willing to follow Him. We need to trust that He knows better than we do, even when it seems totally flying-pigs insane.

Because if we follow His guidance, we’ll get to exactly where He wants us to be. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Don't believe me

“Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.” ~ Acts 17:10-11 NKJV

Any of you who know me personally probably think I’m a person who can be trusted, who knows what she’s talking about. But I’ll warn you right now, don’t believe a word I say.

Without checking it against what God says first, of course.

I think we can learn a thing or two from those people in Berea. They listened eagerly to Paul and Silas, but instead of letting it go in one ear and out the other, they actually took the time and went back to the Scriptures to make sure those guys were getting it right.

Because, let’s face it, we’re all human.

We all make mistakes.

It’s too easy to just let pastors and teachers and other people tell us what the Bible says, instead of actually checking it out ourselves. Some of those people distort God’s Word on purpose to deceive us. But others get it wrong because, like the rest of us, they don’t know it all. No one does except for God. And while the big slips might be obvious (after all, it’s in the Ten Commandments not to lie), other times someone in their sermon or presentation or blog post could make a mistake that’s a lot harder to catch, unless we check what they’re saying against God’s Word.

But don’t take my word on this. Grab your Bible and check it out for yourself; see if I’m right. After all, I know how many times I’ve messed up. And even though I try to be extremely careful, I’m bound to get something wrong (I sure don’t understand everything, and I hope I’m not deluded enough to think it’s impossible for me to mess up).

By the way, if you do find something I got wrong, let me know.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Never alone

“Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we may boldly say: ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?’” ~ Hebrews 13:5-6

It's pretty easy to feel alone.

I'm not even going to say how easy it is to feel forsaken, forgotten, left out.

I think you have a pretty good idea already.

And when you feel alone, it's easy to start doubting God's goodness, to start wanting the blessings He's given someone else. To start wanting the life, the mission He's given someone else.

It's the old "The grass is greener..." phenomena. We don't like our classes, so we start envying our friends who are already graduated and working. We don't like our jobs, so we envy those "kids" who are still living it up in high school and college. Or we start wondering why we didn't get so-and-so's career, or we wonder why God is using Person Y over in Ireland while we're stuck here waiting tables and applying to jobs, hoping we'll get something soon which allows us to have more than ramen on the weekends.

Although at first the pieces of Hebrews 13:5-6 don't seem to quite fit together, if you take another look, you start to see how God put the pieces together.

It's when we're discontent that God feels distant.

It's when we're caught up in lusting after others' belongings/experiences/lives that we feel God must have left us.

Because if He really loved us, why wouldn't He give us what we want so badly?

Why would He make Lady Z's life so much more spetacular?

And we begin to doubt that He cares.

We begin to doubt that He can provide after all, that He actually is looking out for us.

We begin to believe the devil's lie. We begin to think God's deserted us.

Comparing ourselves to others is a dangerous trap.

When we compare, we never feel good about ourselves for long.

But when we stop, when we realize how much God has done for us, and that, no matter what situation we're in, He's watching over us, those feelings of abandonment disperse.

Because we realize the truth.

God will never leave us or forsake us.

He will work it all out.

He will make our lives into what best serves His purpose.

And of course that's going to look different from Person Y. Chances are we have different purposes.*

Kind of silly to think God's abandoned us because our lives are different, don't you think?

*Of course, every Christian has the same core purpose to serve and glorify God (this technically is every bit of creation's purpose). But how it will be manifested in our lives will differ. Some will glorify God through the sciences, others by staying at home and raising godly children, etc.