Saturday, October 16, 2010

Reasons for Going to Church

On my trip to Charleston, SC, my family decided to go worship at the church I grew up in.  Shamefully, I admit, I wanted to go there because I wanted to #1 see people and #2 be seen.  Yes, I did want to worship but the reasons I just mentioned were in the forefront of my mind.  Previously, when I had been "home" I had attended the later service and had been told that most of the people my age go to the earlier contemporary service, so this time I told my husband we should go to the earlier service.  He wasn't thrilled with the idea of getting up early after we had been driving all day Sat., but he did want to go to church so he said okay.  As it turned out, there was hardly anybody there at the early service and they didn't have a nursery so we didn't really get to worship or get "fed" because we were too focused on keeping our 2 year old occupied and quiet. 

 I am reminded of John, who in the book of Revelation, was worshipping God by himself on the day set aside for that purpose - he didn't postpone his worship b/c there wasn't anybody with him and b/c he was on an island with no other believers he wasn't worshipping to be seen either. 

The lesson I learned from this is: the point of going to church is never to see people or be seen but to worship our Heavenly Father who has given his one and only Son as a sacrifice for us - so that we may have eternal life! 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Faith Being Tested

Recently, we took a trip to visit some family and some friends on the east coast.  There are many we were going to see whom I am pretty sure aren't living their lives for Christ.  Before we left, I prayed that God would use me as a tool to witness to them about the amazing things He has done in my life (see my testimony here): about the peace I feel even in stressful situations because I know He is in control, about how since my relationship with Him has grown my relationship with my husband has also grown, and how He's answered all my prayers (maybe not exactly the way I was expecting) in a way that was far better than I could ever imagine. 

While in the moment of visiting with all these people, I never felt really led to say anything specific about my faith and because of the change of schedule I didn't spend time in The Word like I normally do.  I was really disappointed about this upon returning home - why didn't God use me like I wanted Him too?  why didn't I speak up and talk about Christ around them?  why didn't I spend time reading my Bible like I normally do, that would have been somewhat of a witness to them? 

I don't really know any of the answers to those questions, but I do know that God's plans are perfect, so I must not have been the one He wanted to use to witness to them or maybe it wasn't the right time.  Also, I know that my actions were still the same as they would have been at home - I didn't do anything on our vacation that I felt went against God's will or anything I know to be against the Word of God so I guess my life was sort of a witness in itself, just not what I was counting on.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Why we don't "do" halloween

In Oct 2007, my husband and I were working with the youth group on Misawa Air Base.  We were supposed to do a lesson with the students and decided on one that dealt with the "holiday" coming up - Halloween.  Being fairly new Christians, we knew there seemed to be something a little ungodly about the holiday but we didn't know where all the customs stemmed from so we did some research.

We found these things:
* Some Halloween traditions, for example, the Jack-O-Lantern, come from Irish legend. The story behind this sinisterly-smiling vegetable tells of a man stuck between heaven and hell as a result of a bargain with the devil. The turnip was the original hollow, candle-lit head of choice, but when the Irish immigrants came to America, they traded their tiny turnips for giant pumpkins.

*Most sources agree that the modern holiday of Halloween finds its origins in the Celtic and Druid festival of the dead, “Samhain.” This festival marks the Celtic New Year. It encompasses the eve of October 31st and the day of November 1st. Common Halloween practices point directly to the pagan festival of Samhain.

* Bobbing for apples on this supposedly “hallowed eve” served as a popular means of fortune-telling and the length of an apple-peel was considered an indicator of one’s life span.
* During the Samhain festival the Celts believed the physical and spiritual world interacted like at no other time of the year. They thought "souls" of the dead would visit the living. People offered sacrifices of animals, plants, and, some speculate, even humans, to those of the spirit world for a bountiful harvest.
* As Christianity began spreading in Europe, November 1st became known as “All Saints’ Day,” with the preceding evening having the name of "All Hollow’s Eve.” This holiday actually came about in hopes of suppressing the non-Christian holiday of the Samhain. Soon the mixing of the traditions of the Celts’ "Samhain" festival with "All Saints Day" produced a holiday we know as Halloween.
After doing this research, Mark and I felt very convicted about participating in any part of the Halloween festivities.  We honestly couldn't find any part of it that seemed to stem from the Bible or that seemed like it would be glorifying to Our Lord and Savior.  As a result, we have chosen to not participate in this holiday, except for the passing out of gospel tracts to the children who come to our door.
We know there is no where in the Bible that specifically says "Do not celebrate Halloween" and as Christians we are given freedom to do many things b/c the blood of Jesus has saved us, but what kind of witness is it to unbelievers or new Christians if we participate in these celebrations - and really how does God get the glory by us dressing up to go collect candy? 
So, when people ask what my daughter is going to "be" for Halloween, I say, "Herself, we don't do Halloween." and no I don't think I am depriving her of anything by this.  She can dress up on any other day of the year and candy is available year round, but even if it weren't - we are Christians and we are not supposed to be like the rest of the world, we are supposed to be set apart, show that there is something different about us.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Making Your Home a Haven Challenge

I'm  starting another challenge with Courtney over at Women Living Well blog.  This is what she writes as the challenge for week 1:

It is week 1 of the Making Your Home a Haven Fall Challenge. Here is this week's challenge: Go buy an extra large candle and light a candle everyday in your home. I will be starting mine in the morning! But you can start yours at dinner time. Do what makes sense for your family. I will be placing mine in the kitchen - the main hub of my home. Each time the candle catches your eye, say a prayer for peace in your home.

Women Living Well
For the past 3 days, I have been lighting a pumpkin spice candle in our kitchen.  The light and the smell has reminded me to slow down and focus on the important things going on around me - my daughter playing, giving my husband the attention he needs when he comes home, and catching up with friends who I know are struggling.  I plan to continue to do this and let the light from the candle remind me to just take things one step at a time and not try to cram all these things into one day - isn't there a saying about "Just do the first thing first"