Trick or Treat? The question of Halloween

Pumpkin Patch 2

 

I know this post is coming a bit late but with a cold/flu making the rounds in my home, yet again, I know you will forgive me!

How do you feel about Halloween?

I get asked this question a lot by friends and fellow parents and even by parents of the kids in our youth group. It’s a difficult question because of the polarized opinions. If people ask the question it usually means they feel strongly about it, for or against Christian family’s participation of anything Halloweenie.

Remember, I am not a scholar or a historian. Nor am I a noted theologian or pastor. I am a mom who lives life in ministry with my husband and we are doing our best to be Christ-like in our home and in ministry.

I grew up participating in Halloween. Cute costumes as a child, trick or treating and pumpkin carving. As I got older I went to high school events and the costumes were a little less cute and a little more flirtatious for the girls and a little more disgusting and gruesome for the boys. Then when costumes were deemed lame we just saw Halloween as a license to roam the streets while the boys did stupid things with eggs and firecrackers. We flirted, they ignored us. They flirted and we ignored them. Such is the life of the average 13-15 year old.

As my opposite in every way, my husband never dressed up and did not give out candy to cute kids dressed as pumpkins and princesses. He occasionally went to the church harvest party but doesn’t remember dressing up. But his parents never lectured about the occult or the dangers of a seemingly innocent pumpkin day.

Now as parents we are trying to define how we will handle such events in our life and for our kids. It’s a big decision that every family has to make for themselves and we do not condemn someone else who has prayerfully discerned a different path for their family.

I get the history of Halloween and its intrinsic roots in paganism and the occult. I don’t want to be a naïve parent and say that it’s just a cutesy hallmark-created occasion. I know that its roots are very dark and yet we choose participate in our own way.

I don’t ignore Halloween because of its history and original intention. If I did that, I wouldn’t celebrate the birth of Jesus on December 25 (not the day of Christ’s birth rather the day of the pagan winter solstice) nor would we put up a Christmas tree (another pagan ritual). We use our discernment and best judgment and take what could be negative and use it for the glory of God.

We participate in our churches autumn event and hundreds of non-church families from our community come in costume, play and laugh together. My husband does a big event for his youth as well. We celebrate that our kids invited their non-churched friends to an event (a very big deal for a kid in grade 6 or 7) and this year we know of 24 kids that indicated their response to the gospel message for the first time.

My wee ones dress up in sweet costumes but they are both too young to trick or treat so we haven’t made a decision on future participation. I don’t like the blood, the demons and the grotesque and it will have no place in our home. Although I think that’s inappropriate for all ages, I am especially sensitive to exposing my very young children to that world. I wish stores would get the message on that one and make sure there displays are G rated. But that’s a blog for another day….

Please hear me clearly: If you feel convicted about participating in anything to do with Halloween, then by all means don’t participate. That’s between you and the Spirit of Truth and no one can judge that. But also be careful not to judge those who choose utilize opportunities within our culture to bring light into the darkness. Instead, pray that God would move in a mighty way and that many would come to know Christ this Halloween.

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Rejoice in Gods Inability

When my 7 month old son was admitted to the hospital with a mysterious skin condition that left his skin scabbed, bleeding and blistering like he had been burned over 80% of his body, I cried out for God to heal him. My husband didn’t, instead he reminded me to rejoice in Gods inability.

When my 9 week old daughter was admitted to children’s hospital with what we were told was impending emergency surgery, I pleaded with God to keep her in my arms where I could ensure her safety. My husband didn’t. He trusted in Gods inability.

I know that sounds crazy but let me explain it to you in his words. This is part of a devotional he wrote:

There is comfort and security in all that we know God can do. Just take a look through the Old Testament and feel the joy of being an Israelite: miracles like the 10 plagues, walking between walls of water in the Red Sea, shouting as walls crumble, giants defeated, food from the sky, water from rocks and salvation from all kinds of disasters. We celebrate because we know our God is the creator of the miraculous.

As a new pastor, perhaps God was testing me to see how I would react or encourage others in a frightening hospital setting. It was my first experience of this kind of crisis and my baby was the patient. Courtney was obviously distraught and I began to think of ways to comfort her. I could have told her things that she already knew and had been thinking: God can do anything, He is a God of miracles, God knows how we feel. The problem was that I know that she knows those things, so what was left to say? I needed to get her attention and encourage her that while she was petitioning the Lord for the health of our child it had to come from a place of trust rather than fear. I told her that we should be rejoicing in God’s inability, what he CANNOT do!

She looked at me like I was crazy. She had not left our child’s bedside for anything but bathroom breaks. She had tried to sleep curled up in a chair but the worry and exhaustion was written all over her face. I could tell she was overwhelmed and afraid that the child we had prayed so long to have could be slipping away from us.

I reminded her of Malachi 3.6

 ‘I the Lord do not change’.

He won’t because he can’t. And this is worth rejoicing in.

We can rejoice in his inability to betray.

He gives good and perfect gifts and that won’t change like shadows move throughout the day.

                James 1.17

He will change the earth and the heavens like clothing but he remains the same.

                Psalm 102.25-27

We can rejoice in his inability to break a promise.

Politicians have a bad reputation but the Lord is not a man that he should lie or change his mind. Does he promise and not fulfill?

                Numbers 23.19

 I’ve known people who believe in and love our good and sovereign God until they’re shaken from their comfortable life and faced with a crisis. Perhaps it’s a prolonged safe and comfortable environment that begins to settle in our minds that easy is what God wants for us. The clay loves to submit to the potter until it finds out its being made into a dog dish or a leg for the back of the couch, or a shovel on the farm.

So it may have felt as though we were at the mercy of the doctors, waiting days to find out results. But ultimately we are at the mercy of our unchanging God – regardless of good news or bad. And this is what we clung to. It’s because God cannot change that we can completely trust him 100% no matter the situation. Even when we are faithless, he is faithful.

In crisis, my vulnerable faith was shaken. I had tried to build my house on a solid rock so that it would be anchored when the storm came. I learned that while my husband and I kept this house on the solid rock of our savior, I had kept a tree house in the backyard, and it was on sinking sand.

It wasn’t easy. In fact, surrendering my illusion of control was physically painful. And after many many sleepless days and nights I was battling for my sanity, exhaustion and concern overwhelming my body till it shook. But I had to rest in the peace that I worship a God who is good, all of the time. Even when it hurts. Even when I feel ill-equipped for his plans. Even when I want to run He will pursue me until I yield onto His loving path.

“I am the LORD, and I do not change. That is why you descendants of Jacob are not already destroyed.”

I rejoice in Gods inability.