When Anita and I began our family, we had to make a decision on Halloween with our children. We knew its dark history and wanted to raise our children with a spiritual emphasis and couldn’t reconcile ghosts and witches with our idealistic Christian faith.
Because our children socialized with other kids, we knew there would be pressure to join in the Trick or Treating. We were also well aware that it is normal childhood behavior for children to want to pretend to be someone else.
Our conclusion was to not openly ban dressing up and Trick or Treating, as that would likely cause a rebellion against our faith and standards, but to put a guiding hand to the make-believe. She we helped our children dress up like a princess or lumberjack. We rarely spent much money on costumes, but just used things we made or had around the house. We also guided the amount of candy gathering so as to not generate greed.
We felt this approach was relevant to the American culture and was not counter to our Christian faith or practice.
How do you deal with Halloween?
A young Catholic girl was dating a boy who was not the least bit interested in church. Her mother was very alarmed so she demanded that her daughter do everything possible to win the fellow over to the faith.
After the first date, the mom said, “How did it go?”
“Very well,” said the daughter. “I persuaded him to go to mass all next month.”
After the next date the mother persisted, “How is it going?” The daughter said, “Better, I convinced him to join the catechism class.”
Several days later and the mother knew that wedding bells were about to ring. But she insisted that the young man first join the church and be baptized. To her surprise he consented.
Then the day of the wedding arrived and the daughter rushed out of the bridal room in tears. The mother said, “Dear, what’s the matter?” She replied, “I think we oversold him on the church. He decided to become a priest!”
What do you think, is it possible to take one’s faith too far?
Tags: Catholic, dating, faith, Romance
Elmer Towns promoted an idea that many churches have built upon: Friendship Evangelism. He taught that before you had the right to talk to someone about their faith, you had to develop a friendship relationship with them. You do that by hanging out with them, playing with them, asking them questions about themselves that shows you care.
Our culture has made some negative turns in this area. The invention of the garage door opener has made it possible to drive out of your garage in the morning and drive into your garage in the evening, and never have to even see your neighbors. Some people moved into a new housing addition near my house named ‘Country Village’, and immediately put up a privacy fence to keep the country out.
Every house used to have a big front porch with a swing, now we build a back deck so we don’t have to meet people. Friendship is a dying art. You can’t go up to a stranger cold turkey and ask if they know Jesus. You must build a trust relationship with them. Once they believe you care about them, then they’ll let you into their real lives.
Tags: Caring, evangelism, friendship
The headline in the Grand Rapids Press wasn’t good news. Fifteen million gallons of partially treated waste water suddenly disappeared from a storage lagoon in a water treatment facility. Just outside the small town of Sand Lake, Michigan, a 500-by-500-foot pond disappeared into a sinkhole. The problem was that nobody knew where the wastewater went. According to a county spokesperson, “It will depend on where it went before we can say what happened.”
Imagine all the wrongs of your life being like that missing filthy lagoon. It was certainly there, yet its now gone. Where did that sin go? Its a mystery, but it’s gone!
Where did it go? Buried in the deepest sea (Micah 7:19), as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12), erased from the eternal books of heaven’s justice (Colossians 2:13-15). Think about that sinkhole and your sins today.
Tags: forgiveness, sin, sinkhole
When I was a child, a big circus came to town. They set up the big top on the site where the Butler Elementary School sits today. That was only a block away from where we lived, so us kids were fascinated sitting on our side of the street watching the elephants assist in the heavy work. When the big show opened, of course we didn’t want to miss a thing.
I remember watching the lions in the center ring with the lion tamer cracking his whip and holding those big cats at bay with only a stool. How did he do that, I wondered. The answer is an old lion-tamers trick. The stool has multiple legs. As the lion tamer holds those legs out to the lion, he focuses upon his enemy, and becomes so confused and disoriented by the multiple focus points that he can’t move. He won’t attack one leg without making himself vulnerable to the others. All his energy is neutralized. So he just sits there.
I think its possible for such a thing to happen in churches. If there are too many things for the church to focus upon, it can become disoriented and not know what to do. So it just sits there for fifty years doing nothing, because it can’t decide what to do. What is the primary focus of the Lord’s Church (any church)? Let’s stay focused.
Tags: circus, focus, vision
A South American minnow-like fish is called ‘Quatro-ojos’ (four-eyes), because it knows how to make the best of two worlds. The Creator designed its large bulging eyes with an air lens on the upper half and a water lens on the lower half. As it cruises along the surface of the water, it is able to look at the world above and the world below at the same time.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if God gave us humans the ability to see both into the heavenly, spiritual realm, as well as the physical, worldly realm, at the same time. There is good news: God has given us that very ability.
The heavenward look enables us to focus on what God says is true and right , and the “earthward” look helps us see opportunities to demonstrate Christlike compassion to people who are entangled in sin.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus talked about seeking righteousness and showing mercy (Matthew 5:6-7). The Apostle Paul reinforced these two concepts when he told the Corinthians to uphold God’s standards but also show mercy to a repentant brother (1 Corinthians 5:1-5 and 2 Corinthians 2:1-7).
That’s what Quatro-ojos Living is all about.
Tags: focus, vision
It was the last weekend of the 1964 baseball season. Bill Valentine was umpiring a game between the Detroit Tigers and the New York Yankees.
Dave Wickersham was pitching for Detroit, and he had 19 victories for the season. One more would be a sign of stardom. But it wasn’t to be.
After a close play, Wickersham tapped the umpire on the shoulder to ask for a time-out. Touching an umpire is against the rules, so Valentine tossed Wickersham from the game – depriving him of his chance for a 20-win season.
For the next 39 years, Valentine lived with a gnawing regret for booting the pitcher in that split-second decision. But he doesn’t carry that regret anymore. In 2002 Wickersham wrote the umpire a note, telling him he was right in his decision and that he held no hard feelings. That note lifted a weight from Valentine’s shoulders.
In Genesis 45, Joseph lifted a burden of guilt from his brothers, who had sold him into slavery – something far more serious than a simple misunderstanding. Yet he was willing to forgive them. Are you?