For "Scripture Sunday";
Should Christians Celebrate Halloween?
Halloween is a major holiday in the Western world for people of various backgrounds. Can Halloween celebrations be reconciled with a Christian worldview and lifestyle? The Bible holds the answer.
Source: Wikimedia Commons
"Friday night, the 30th. Oct. 2014 millions of children around the nation will be donning costumes, ringing doorbells and uttering the traditional "trick or treat" Halloween greeting. Most people consider this a harmless, fun activity for children. Others condemn the entire occasion because of the pagan origin of the day and connect it with demonism and the occult.
An article from a prominent Christian magazine suggested that "Christians should embrace the 'devilish' holiday with gusto—and laughter." The author suggests that Halloween presents us with an opportunity to "mock" and "laugh at" Satan and "the forces of evil."
A local pastor, writing wistfully of his past childhood Halloween celebration, said, "I enjoyed being a devil." He asserted that "a child doesn’t think of a red devil as an enemy of God or the apostle of hate and destruction." He went on to defend wearing costumes as merely superficial, and suggested that opposition to celebrating Halloween stems from lack of confidence in Christian beliefs.
Really only harmless fun?
Wait a minute! Is it unchristian for parents not to want their children to dress up as the Devil? Or does Satan the Devil even exist? According to a recent Barna survey, nearly 50 percent of professing Christians do not believe that Satan is a living being. For these folks, the whole question must be a moot point. But perhaps the rest of us ought to reconsider our perspective regarding Halloween.
Would anyone dare to suggest applying this reasoning to Hitler? Would wearing Hitler masks and swastikas and dressing like the skeletal remains of his victims be an appropriate way to "laugh at" Hitler and "mock" the diabolical evils of Nazism?
Is Satan a laughing matter? Does God want our children to associate fun and treats with the forces of evil?
I am not implying that a child who puts on a Halloween mask is dabbling in the occult or is in danger of demon possession. I am simply questioning the suggestion that Halloween serves a positive Christian purpose.
According to Deuteronomy:12:31-32
God does not approve of recycling, reconstituting and relabeling pagan customs to celebrate Christian events.
Carnal holidays trumped by God's Holy Days
My wife and I just finished celebrating eight fun-filled days of the Feast of Tabernacles with more than 700 men, women and children here in Central Oregon. I so much wish all of Christianity could share the joy of this meaningful occasion. Here is a God-ordained festival that was observed by Jesus, Paul and the apostolic Church and is still celebrated today by many Christians. It is one of seven annual Holy Days that foreshadow future events in God's plan (Colossians:2:16-17 ) rather than focusing on the powers of darkness that form the legacy of Halloween.
Anyone who dares express objections to Halloween has two strikes against him: 1. It is fun for the kids, and 2. It is a long-standing, firmly entrenched custom in our culture.
But the Feast of Tabernacles has Halloween beat in both categories: 1. It is fun for kids and the whole family and is eight days long, and 2. It was established thousands of years ago by God Himself. And most importantly, it and all of Holy Days of the Bible teach valuable lessons about the plan of God.
For more information, I invite you to read our free booklets, Holidays or Holy Days: Does It Matter Which Days We Observe? and Is There Really a Devil?
How Can You Know?
"A viewer writes that it is easy to spot which religions are among the "false religions" of the Bible. Here is one Bible method you can use to spot the true from the false."
(Transcript): [Darris McNeely] "We're going through a series of questions that have come in from some of our Beyond Today viewers through the weeks and past months as they view these Dailies and watch Beyond Today on television.
We on Beyond Today look at the Bible as our source of authority, as a source of truth that we use for whatever program and topic we cover. One of our viewers wrote recently about how the program was leading them to crucially examine what religions, other churches, say about the Bible.
Here's what she said. She said,
"Your program is very true. When we really look at the Bible, many Christ-based religions are exposed as veering away from or contorting what the Bible actually says. That, and also studying world history and doctrines of a number of today's prominent religions, it then is easy to spot which are among the false religions that the Bible mentions." End of quote.
It's a very astute comment that this viewer makes. There is a lot of false teaching out there, as the Bible calls it, that has crept into much of religious teaching today that doesn't square with the Bible. This person is looking at Beyond Today and the United Church of God, the church behind this program – they're looking at us and they're also examining what we say, what we teach, about the Scripture. And so they should. Every one of us should examine our beliefs that we hold, should examine whatever church or religion of our youth or your present attendance might be teaching you, to make sure that it squares with the Bible. Again, on Beyond Today , we believe that the Bible is the word of God, and that that word is also an essential guide for life, a source of absolute truth and teaching for our lives today. If we look at the Bible as indeed a holy book, given to us by God our Maker and our Creator, and study it and believe it, then we have a solid foundation upon which to build our lives and to study. And we can do that, and we should. In fact, we should be like a group of people that are mentioned in the Bible, called Bereans.
The Bereans were a group of people that the apostle Paul came in contact with in Acts chapter 17, in one of his journeys, beginning in verse 10 through verse 12 of chapter 17 of Acts (Acts:17:10-12 ). In that passage, we find a group of people that Paul begins to teach, and what is recorded about them is rather interesting – because he goes and meets these people, in a setting there in the city of Berea, and it says of them that "they 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. And therefore, many of them believed, and also not a few of the Greeks and prominent women as well as men." They searched the Scriptures daily, regularly, to see if what the apostle Paul, or anyone else who was teaching Scripture, was actually staying true to what the word that they had at that time said and taught. And that's what we should be doing today.
We should be examining what we believe, what may be taught to us, or have been taught in our past. If in some cases, that belief has been found to be untrue, it's not square with the Bible, then hopefully can lead us on a search for what is true.
How we determine what and which religion teaches errors, and the ones as opposed to what Jesus Christ taught, is a fascinating process. And we can find out exactly what is the truth if we study the Scriptures daily, if we look into them for the stories of wisdom from men and women who were people of faith, who believed God, knew God, and sought to walk with God – they form examples, and there is a great deal of teaching there for us. But once we do that, what will we do? That's the big question.
What are we going to do with what we read or with what we study? You can read the Bible. You can study it. But eventually, we have to live it, and act on what we come to know and to understand. And that will take us to an even greater level of understanding and success and contentment in our life, in helping us to know God. It can be known. We can know God in that way, and we can know the Scriptures. Prove what is there."
From me: I blogged about this a couple of years ago, now it's done!
THE ELWHA RIVER, UNDAMMED AT LAST
"Last month, park officials blasted out the last 30 feet of concrete from the Glines Canyon Dam, restoring the Elwha River to a free-flowing waterway. Photo © Kati Schmidt/NPCA.
"There’s plenty I could say about my recent rafting trip down the newly restored Elwha River, but sometimes a simple “Wooohoooo!” says it all.
That was my natural reaction to more than a decade of work by NPCA and its partners to remove two antiquated dams from this spectacular northwestern river, restoring it to a splendor not seen in over a century. Last month, the National Park Service officially completed the largest dam removal in U.S. history, tearing down the Elwha and Glines Canyon Dams and expanding the river’s five miles of free-flowing waters to over 70 miles of unfettered fish habitat and paddling bliss." More at: http://parkadvocate.org/the-elwha-river-undammed-at-last/
In the Animal Kingdom:
Cygnet rescue - Simon beaten up by an angry swan
"Swans are very protective parents. The male swan, called the ‘cob’, can be very aggressive in order to protect his young.
A swan Cygnet got himself caught up while trying to sneak through a fence — not only does Simon need to save this baby swan from a fenceful life, he also needs to fend off the poor baby’s father, who gets pretty riled up about the whole situation!
Have a look at the touching, yet hilarious video below.
On Tuesday, I went to court to get a squatter evicted. Ray had let her stay in his spare bedroom in my guest house 'for a few days' when she got out of prison, but after a year Ray couldn't get her to leave. She an ex-relative of Ray's, but she is a contentious person, and it is stressful to be around her. The judge gave her 30 days to move out, and everyone's lives will be better once she leaves. I have known her for 19 years, and she wasn't this mean and explosive until this last stint in prison for drugs. We, and the neighbors can't wait, as no one likes the company that she keeps. We prayed for her in church.
On Thursday, I was getting a board for Jay to nail up in the storeroom extension, and another board fell on my foot. Ray and I were working on the back hatch of my minivan so I couldn't get off my feet until 2.00pm. I tried to lie down but the pain got worse. I had broken the other foot in the 1990's, and it felt the same. Ray drove me to the Emergency Room, so it was x-rayed. It didn't show a break, but they said that a hairline crack could show up. But as soon as the nurse put a support and Ace bandage on it, I could put my foot on the floor without pain. That was wonderful, and I just have a blue foot now.
At the church, Jeff and some of the elders took care of everything as the pastor and his wife were out of town for The Feast of Tabernacles. It was a great service and three new people came, so it was good getting to know them.
The readings were Gen.1:1-6:8 and Isa.42. The message was that God's yearly festivals for this year are all over, even The Eighth Day. Also, how we should get back to the Jewish roots, teachings and festivals as God commanded. http://www.gotquestions.org/Hebrew-roots.html We need to have a direct relationship with Jesus (Yeshua) and follow his teachings and observe his ways, which included celebrating God's Holy Days.
"God's Festivals in the New Testament
The New Testament records Jesus Christ, the Apostles and the Church keeping the Holy Days.
This is the sukkah that Jeff made for a table decoration, representing 'a booth' for The Feast of Tabernacles.
The potluck wasn't a large varied spread like it usually is, with the pastor and his wife being away. The pastor's wife, Eunice, loves to cook so she usually serves a lot of food, but we had enough for everybody, even the three newcomers, and others who haven't been there for a while. Some members work all over, and they came whenever they are in the area. It's always good to see them, too. We all had a great day.