Thursday, November 01, 2018

lighting up HALLOWEEN

yesterday was Halloween. we had such a fun night walking through the neighborhood with our friends and neighbors. it was chilly and it had rained earlier. most of the children were bundled in jackets and raincoats, costumes covered. clinging to their candy buckets, kids of all ages dodged puddles, going door to door in droves to meet friendly faces and get some chocolate. our kids are 10 and 13 now. they have outgrown a lot suddenly. but last night they were young. last night, we let them be little. chasing candy dressed as Spongebob characters with glow necklaces. midway through the night, i looked around at my neighborhood bustling with families and i thanked God that i get to be here and now. i thanked God for another fun Halloween for the collection of memories in my heart. 

i've shared my journey of navigating Halloween as a God-fearing, Christian family. i have absolutely struggled with the tension of the holiday. there were a few years when i was so confused and torn that we skipped Halloween altogether. my heart was broken for the lost and for those in darkness. now i know God used those years to convict me, and he has shown me that the way to respond with a broken heart to a lost and dark world is not to hide from it, but to light it up.

here is how we did Halloween in 20092010, and 2011. i was/am transparent in my struggle because i know i'm not the only one, and i believe there's freedom in bringing things into the light. 

ultimately, here is what October 31 actually is in my community in 2018: a night for children to dress in costumes, get together with friends and neighbors, collect buckets of candy, put candles in pumpkins with toothy grins, and pretend to be afraid of plastic spiders in cotton webs. i mean, let's just call it what it is, right?

but i still see so much tension surrounding October 31. especially, sadly, among Christians.

the week before Halloween i had a conversation with my kids about it. i wanted to know what they thought about Christ followers celebrating Halloween. do you ever do that? so often i think we (adult Christians) overthink things and make mountains out of molehills. my perception is so clouded because of my experiences and exposure to other people's opinions. i can always count on my kids for some grounded, simple, insight. their faith is so pure!

our Halloween vs Christians conversation was incredibly insightful. there's nothing like a Bible-believing child to offer an untainted perspective. they asked really good questions. they were mostly confused about why Christians wouldn't get out there among the unbelievers. why would anyone think that Christians are celebrating witchcraft? why wouldn't we want to invite our neighbors over? aren't we supposed to show the love of Jesus to everyone even if they practice witchcraft? is our faith so weak that it can't withstand fake skeleton decorations and sound effects CDs? are we only supposed to celebrate Christian holidays? why are Christians so small-minded sometimes? how do we show love in this situation? why is there division? what would Jesus do? 

they're all "who told you that you were naked?" and i'm like, oh snap.  

after we talked, i prayed, and was prompted to share some of our thoughts with others who might be feeling the tension and confused about Halloween. i put my thoughts in an Instagram story and was blown away by the responses. first, the struggle is real. Christians are trying to navigate this, and carefully, because there is so much tension and division over this issue. however, Christians are overwhelmingly burdened to love like Jesus and redeem October 31 for the glory of God. 

Pastor Dustin Bates says it like this:
when you walk into a dark room and you flip on the light switch, light overcomes the darkness. 
it's no longer dark. darkness doesn't prevent the light from lighting up the room. 
so turn on the light! God will turn the darkness in life into an opportunity for His light. 

i have come to believe Halloween is no different. as a Christian, regardless of the day of the year or the origins of a holiday, my obligation and burden and honor is to be light in the darkness to display the love of Christ to everyone. 

i have seen God work His redemption firsthand. 

i watched a close friend practice witchcraft at a party years ago. a few years after that, she needed a place to stay so we invited her to live with us. she went to church with me and my family during that time. even more years later, she is a completely new person.

another friend of mine was not a believer. a week before Halloween, her best friend tragically passed away. Halloween fell on a Sunday that year and it was her first time in church. she's been going ever since and she tells me it's changed her life. Halloween is her new birth-day.

God let me be an up close and personal witness in those situations so that i could live fearlessly. His redemption and love conquers all. nothing, no day, no darkness is out of His reach. 

these are the thoughts that i shared on Halloween, also available here:

i refuse to believe that the enemy of our souls thinks our gathering with friends and neighbors tonight for fun and fellowship is bringing us any closer to him and his evil ways. 

the enemy is a liar and would love to STEAL, KILL, and DESTROY our attempts to have a fun night with our neighbors. 

as for me and my household we will serve the Lord in all we do, on every day of the year. we will redeem the day. we will glorify God in all of it. 

this day might have origins in evil, but we serve a God who calls us to light and love, and can make all things new. beauty from ashes! redemption is His. 

we are not celebrating the origins of this day. we are celebrating victory in Christ.

we choose to reject the evil roots and aspects of today, and instead redeem it by loving our neighbors, practicing hospitality, and sharing the love of God with friends and family.

we teach our kids that god can be glorified in all things.  
everything can be redeemed. 
everything and all things. 
even a pagan holiday. 

i refuse to believe that my friends and neighbors and those little cuties coming to my door for candy are out celebrating witchcraft tonight. 

and if they are? come on over, sweetie, i'll show you the love of Christ.

living not of this world sometimes means taking the things of this world and turning them upside down for God's glory.

our neighbors might not be Christians. we might be the ones on the block who represent Christianity to them. you better believe we're prioritizing love.

we believe there's nothing and no one too far out of God's reach that He can't redeem. we will be the catalysts of change today.

once you witness redemption, you can't unsee it. 

the enemy wants me fearful today. he wants this day to be set aside for evil because after all that's how it originated. and he wants me to leave it alone. he wants to make me believe God doesn't have any power on October 31. the enemy celebrates when believers are divided and turned against one another. let's not give him that opportunity today. or tomorrow. or ever. 

perfect love casts out fear. nothing can separate us from the Love of God. don't lose consciousness of God's perfect love or our access to it today.

if the origins of Halloween are a stumbling block in your relationship with Jesus, or cause your faith to weaken, by all means skip it. 

pray about it. honor your convictions. don't judge others. (they have their own convictions). and stand firm in your faith. 

my conviction was this: the enemy doesn't care if it's 10/31 or 5/9 or 2/28. he just wants me isolated so he can shame and confuse me. he wants me to feel proud of myself and to judge others. he wants my doors locked, lights out, curtains drawn. he does not want me loving on my neighbors, enjoying family time, and being in community. 

God is sovereign. that doesn't change on Halloween.

i am called - and so are you - to light up Halloween.

"You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, 
that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven." 
-Matthew 5:14-16

"When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, 'I am the light of the world. 
Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.'"
-John 8:12

"You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. 
This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood." 
-1 John 4:4-6

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