Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Perplexity of Halloween

I've never truly understood the fascination with Halloween. If you look at any polls asking people their greatest fear death is always high on the list, however we have this one day centered around a culture of death. It's a celebration of death and fear. The T.V. is constantly playing movies like "Nightmare On Elm Street" or "Friday the 13th", people are putting tombstones and zombies in their yard, and families are going to haunted houses. What is so attractive about these things?

Now don't get me wrong, I am not one to say that Christians should boycott Halloween. The point of this post is not to try and convince you to stay in your home, lock your doors, and turn out all the lights. That would simply be giving into the culture of fear. I am simply saying that I don't understand it... but I think it is an opportunity for us to embrace.

What does the Bible say counters fear?  1 John 4:18 says that "...perfect love casts out all fear..." So if we have a day that our culture has built on a foundation of fear the best thing to do to take out that foundation is to love. Halloween is a day where Christians should look to be even more adamant to show love to their neighbors. And you know what the greatest thing about it is? You don't even have to go out to do it, they'll come to you! Isn't that what the church has always wanted? People coming to their doors looking for you to love them, looking for something? Okay maybe we aren't envisioning them looking for candy when they come knocking on our doors but it is still an opportunity.

I actually read this point from a fellow blogger recently she made this statement:
"This is the only night through the entire year that most of your neighbors and mine are going to come knocking on our doors. The only night." - TroubleFace Mom 

If our neighbors are coming to our door one night a year don't we want to take advantage of that? If we want to show the love of Christ then this is the perfect opportunity. 

Now I know for me to write this on Halloween night it is kind of late for you to change your plans this year. I myself, am actually at work tonight (so I am doing my best to show love here), but we have a whole year to plan for this next opportunity. What can you do next year when neighbors are out on the streets and knocking on doors. 

I know of one friend that took the opportunity and set out chairs and a canopy in their driveway and served hot dogs to all the trick or treaters. 

Let's make a new Halloween competition. Instead of competing for the scariest costume, let's compete for the most creative idea to show love to our neighbors. That sounds like a Halloween culture changer right there!

If you've done something creative to reach out on Halloween or you know of someone who has feel free to share it in the comments as inspiration.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Kingdom of Heaven

And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.
Daniel 2:44

King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had a dream. His dream was of a large statue with a head of gold, chest and arms of silver, belly and thighs of bronze, legs of iron, and feet of iron mixed with clay. Then a large stone, which was cut without hands, struck the image, broke it, crushed it, and caused the wind to blow it away. In the end the stone became "a great mountain and filled the whole earth" (Dan. 2:35). Daniel subsequently explains how each metal represents a kingdom that takes over after the previous kingdom. He then makes this statement, saying that at the end God is the one that will establish a kingdom that will consume all of the previous kingdoms.

A quick look at history can match up various kingdoms with each part of the statue. As stated in the passage the gold head represents King Nebuchadnezzar and Babylon. Next came Persia, then Greece, and then Rome, and lastly Rome as it was divided. This brings us right up to Jesus's birth, life, death, and resurrection. 

Jesus constantly talked about the 'Kingdom of Heaven' and this is why. Jesus did not just come to forgive our sins, He came to establish "a kingdom which shall never be destroyed". A lot of Christians think of the kingdom of Heaven as something to look forward to after we die but it is so much more than that. Jesus said the kingdom is within us (Luke 17:21). At the start of His ministry he stated "the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand" (Matt. 4:17). I believe the kingdom of heaven began right here on earth with Jesus. He is calling us to live in His kingdom now, not later. We should be studying out what He said about the Kingdom and striving to live it out. Jesus even told us to seek the kingdom of heaven first (Matt. 6:33).

What are your thoughts on the Kingdom of Heaven?

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Jesus, Servants, and Beaver Football

Today, as I was perusing the sports section in the local newspaper the following opening sentence caught my eye:

"The story of Jesus kneeling to wash his disciples' feet has become a common theme among the Oregon State football team this season." (Connor Letourneau, The Oregonian)

Of course the writer is referencing the popular story in John chapter 13 in which Jesus kneels down before supper and washes each of his disciples feet. He does this as an example of the servant leadership that he wants his disciples to follow. In the above referenced article, Connor Letourneau, talks about the popularity of this passage among the Oregon State football team. He then goes on to focus on the story of one, underappreciated, member of the team: Tim McMullen.

Tim is OSU's placeholder, he's the guy who holds the ball for the field goal kicker. Everyone knows the kickers. Footballs kickers are either the heroes or the scapegoats. They could save the game with a good kick or they could let it slip away with a bad one, but no one ever pays attention to the guy holding the ball even though he's just as important to the kick's success. The story outlines the story of McMullen and how he gave up a chance to transfer, be the main punter for a team, and possibly gain a career in the NFL, in order to stay at OSU and push for his friend's success. This is a great example of a feet washer.

This story made me think about how many foot washers are around us in every career. How many people that do 'behind the scenes' jobs with a focus on making someone else successful. People who truly model the selfless attitude that Jesus represented to us in the act of washing His disciple's feet. Do you have anyone like that surrounding you? How often do you appreciate them for what they do? If they're a true foot washer they aren't doing it for recognition but they deserve it anyway. Look around you and determine who you need to appreciate today. Who is making sacrifices in order to make you look good? I know I have a few of them at my workplace.

To read the full article go here.