Halloween

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Spirit Halloween…. Who’s Spirit are they talking about?

by Mykel McElwee

(Sept. 21,2014)

In 2013 the National Retail Federation pegged Halloween spending at about $6.9 billion. Analysts expect 2014 to be a particularly strong Halloween sales holiday, with it falling on a Friday. Spirit Halloween, a seasonal chain owned by New Jersey-based mall retailer Spencer Gifts, has opened more than 1,000 stores nationwide this year. I can’t help but ask, “What ‘Spirit’ do they mean?” and “How many Christian parents will escort their children through the aisles of this retailer to pick out a Halloween custom?” It is expected that this year’s big seller will be “Game of Thrones” merchandise, from the adult-oriented fantasy TV series. One needs only to watch a few minutes of this HBO hit to be slathered with sex and violence. To put it mildly, Halloween is big business. With Spencer Gifts’ “Spirit” and HBO’sGame of Thrones” leading the way, it is important for the disciples of Christ to ask one another, How does this holiday glorify God? But, before I go any further, I must first confess that I have celebrated Halloween for most of my life. I have dressed up my children and myself to go door-to-door trick-or-treating. I have even hosted church “Harvest parties” in my home. All of which seemed innocent at the time but in hindsight I am sorry I did. I now repent of turning a blind eye to one of Satan’s best evangelism tools. Is it any surprise that Halloween is celebrated in our schools? Would it be as readily embraced if it glorified our Savior? I think we know that answer.

As believers our lives are to be ones dedicated to becoming obedient followers of Christ. To do so we must turn to Scripture to be our guide in all things. As we do, we will often come across many things that must die (“Then He said to them all, “If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me—Luke 9:23); things that bring back fond childhood memories. Memories we desire to share once again with our children. But we cannot confuse our desires with our Lord’s desire. Our heart attitude should not be one that tries to justify the secular tradition of Halloween. Instead, we should strive to glorify God in all that we do.
So, how does Halloween measure up to Scripture? “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for God’s glory”—1 Cor. 10:31(HCSB). “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil—1 Thess. 5:21-22 (KJV). “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things”—Phil. 4:8 (NIV). “Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.”—Rom. 12:9 (KJV). These verses combined with the many other verses that warn us to stay away from witchcraft and the occult leaves the believer with little room to participate in Halloween festivities. No matter how much we try to repurpose it for God’s glory. We must remember our battle, “war against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens”(Ephesian 6).

There is no reason to argue the roots of Halloween. There is nothing biblical about it. My intention in writing this article is not to point a finger but rather I write this out of remorse. I once embraced Halloween. I embraced a holiday that hates my Savior! I once was blind but now I see. Halloween is a holiday that entices young children with candy. Apostle Peter warns us, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” In Luke 6:45 Jesus tells us, A good man produces good out of the good storeroom of his heart. An evil man produces evil out of the evil storeroom, for his mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart.” After reading these words of Jesus how can I say out of the good storeroom of my own heart, “Happy Halloween!!” Halloween’s intention is neither fun nor innocent. It is bathed in blood, but not the blood of Jesus. Here’s a challenge: Send your child to school and dress them up like Jesus, or your favorite bible hero, or as one of my brothers in Christ suggested, a Christian martyr complete with burning flames. Have them carry their bible in one hand and a trick-or-treat bag in the other. When they come home ask them how much fun they had. They stumble because they disobey the message; they were destined for this. But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His possession, so that you may proclaim the praises of the One who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy”—1 Peter 2:9-10 (HCSB).

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Suicide: A reflection upon the death of Robin Williams

Suicide: A reflection upon the death of Robin Williams

By Mykel McElwee

I was brought up Catholic. I was taught that suicide was the “unforgivable sin”. I was taught that suicide secured a person going to hell. I’ve also been told that true believers don’t commit suicide. More often than not I hear individuals respond, “Suicide is the epitome of selfishness!” In the past, I have personally responded in like matter. Not the most loving thing to do. When I wield a sword with little concern of whom it might strike I am guilty of behavior that is not demonstrative of a disciple of Christ. In doing so, was I not guilty of judging others (Matt.7)? Is this not the kind of judgment only to be administered by God Himself? As I have matured in my walk with the Lord I am deeply saddened by the depth of deception that Satan can take a person. Suicide is never the answer. What lie brings a person to believe that taking their own life is the best option? In the case of Robin Williams one might fairly say that perhaps he made a deal with the devil and it was simply time to pay up. Maybe. I can certainly argue that nearly all the mega-successful in Hollywood have probably “made a deal with the devil”. Satan offered Jesus the same deal “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.”(Matt.4:9) But this “deal” doesn’t always end in suicide. More important: Did Mr. Williams place his faith in Jesus Christ? If not, as it is true for everyone, the final destination is Hell. But before we judge suicide as securing a person entrance into hell I offer the following perspective:

From Ray Comfort on the issue of suicide in light of Robin Williams:

If you believe that those who commit suicide go to Hell, I have a few questions for you. Is there such a thing as “slow” suicide—where someone takes poison over a period of time until it kills them? If you say that there is, then consider the fact that smokers and alcoholics commit suicide when they die because they continually consumed known toxins. What about the person who was told by the doctor to cut back on food or it would kill them, but they took no notice and died because of obesity?

Or how about those dear people who jumped off the World Trade Center? Their clothes caught fire, their flesh burned, and they deliberately leaned forward just a little. Or what about the brave soldier who takes cyanide to end his precious life, rather than be responsible for the deaths of his fellow soldiers by giving information under torture?

There are only a few suicides mentioned in the Bible. Only one makes a reference to his eternal destination. So if we want to play God for a moment on this issue, we could probably do so for Judas. But when it comes to others, we should leave that judgment in the hands of our Creator, and use a little discretion rather than add to the grief of relatives.

So the question that remains: Are confessing Christians excluded from heaven if they commit suicide?

Let’s begin with the “unforgivable sin”: Jesus said, “Anyone who is not with Me is against Me, and anyone who does not gather with Me scatters. Because of this, I tell you, people will be forgiven every sin and blasphemy, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him. But whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the one to come.”(Matt.12:30-32). Suicide is not mention in this Scripture passage.

Jesus was talking specifically to the Pharisees who had personally witnessed his miracle (Matthew 12:22). Rather than acknowledging Jesus was exercising divine powers, the Pharisees attributed his power to Satan (v. 24). Their deliberate refusal to believe, even though knowing the truth, was what Jesus judged as unforgivable sin.

Suicide is murder! Yes, But the Bible is full of examples of murderers who were forgiven. Most notably, Paul and King David.

But a person who commits suicide can’t repent. True, but hasn’t Christ’s death on the cross paid for all of our sins—past, present, and future? If a faithful godly-man married for 40 year commits a grievous sin and cheats on his wife, has remorse, but then dies in a car wreck on his way home, is that sin not forgiven? Or is this man the adulterer who will not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6:9)?

A real Christian will never lose hope. Hope is always found in the Lord. Have you ever misplaced your hope? And, what about those suffering from clinical depression, schizophrenia, bipolarity and other mental illnesses? –excerpt from Ryan Sharp (Can People who commit suicide go to heaven? Holman Christian Study Bible pg.1339)

 

How quickly we judge the sin of suicide. Leave the judgment to God. Grieve your own sin. Comfort others. Look to the Lord in all you do. He comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction, through the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” 2 Cor. 1:4

2 additional Scripture passages to further reflect on:

“And you were dead in your trespasses and sins in which you previously walked according to the ways of this world, according to the ruler who exercises authority over the lower heavens, the spirit now working in the disobedient. We too all previously lived among them in our fleshly desires, carrying out the inclinations of our flesh and thoughts, and we were by nature children under wrath as the others were also. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love that He had for us, made us alive with the Messiah even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace! Together with Christ Jesus He also raised us up and seated us in the heavens, so that in the coming ages He might display the immeasurable riches of His grace through His kindness on us in Christ Jesus. For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift— not from works, so that no one can boast. For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:1-10

 

“Therefore, no condemnation now exists for those in Christ Jesus, because the Spirit’s law of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. What the law could not do since it was limited by the flesh, God did. He condemned sin in the flesh by sending His own Son in flesh like ours under sin’s domain, and as a sin offering, in order that the law’s requirement would be accomplished in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh think about the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, about the things of the Spirit.  For the mind-set of the flesh is death, but the mind-set of the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind-set of the flesh is hostile to God because it does not submit itself to God’s law, for it is unable to do so. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God lives in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. Now if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you, then He who raised Christ from the dead will also bring your mortal bodies to life through His Spirit who lives in you.” Romans 8:1-11