Ascending Home

By the middle of May, it seems that Easter was a long time ago.  But what we may have forgotten, is that the “Easter” story is not over.

I am always touched on Good Friday as I remember the agonizing way Jesus gave up His life to take my place.  I celebrate on Easter Sunday that He conquered death, because without that, we would have no hope for life.

But there’s a part of the story that is not finished, the part that leaves me speechless with excitement.  That’s the part of the story that I am celebrating today.  I’m closing down work and calling it a holiday today because that is what it truly is.

After Jesus’ resurrection, He spent a few weeks on earth spending time with those He loved and giving final encouragement and instructions to His disciples.  And then He ascended.  He left this pathetic earth to go back Home.

But the best part is- He didn’t forget about us.  The reason He went Home was to prepare welcome-home banners, blow up balloons, and get all ready for when He brings us Home too.

He didn’t ascend into Heaven to get away from us- quite the contrary.  He ascended to “prepare a place for us that where He is, there we may be also.”

Okay, if reading that didn’t want to make you jump up and down, try reading it again.  “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

My brother and I recently watched a movie called “The City of Ember”; although it was a strange movie, he pulled a beautiful analogy from it which I just had to share.  Without going into lengthy detail, I’ll try to explain the movie quickly.

People from earth had decided to make an underground world for people to live in so they would never have to know about our wars and unrest up here.  It would be a perfect place.

Well, the Law of Entropy still applied, even hundreds of feet under the ground, and the underground city started falling apart two-hundred years later.  Through a slightly heart-pounding race against time, two teenagers managed to find a way to escape back up to earth so they would not die with the collapse of their world.

When they reached earth, it was dark because it was nighttime.  The teenagers from the underground figured that earth was no different from the world in which they had lived.

But then morning burst forth.  Never before had they set eyes upon sky and sunrises and the beauty which surrounded them.  They could have not even begun to imagine what it would be like because their imagination was limited to the context of the world they had known.

We are the same way.  Our imaginations can only spin off of what we have seen or heard on this earth.  I’m pretty sure that it is safe to say that Heaven is gonna knock our socks off.  Jesus has been working on it for about two-thousand years (that’s some major renovating going on).  And He’s doing it because He just can’t wait until it’s time for Him to say to us, “Come Home!  I’ve been waiting for this moment ever since I ascended on the first Ascension Day.  This is the reason I allowed myself to be crucified.  This is the reason I conquered death.  And now, everything is finally made right.  Welcome Home, my Beautiful Bride!”

May you have a beautiful Ascension Day getting a little Homesick and celebrating the fact that one day, you will finally be able to ascend Home too.

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How To Celebrate On Halloween

pumpkin

It’s that time of year again- the time of year when stores are full of witches, monsters, and ghost costumes; houses are hung in spiderwebs; and skulls adorn every candy wrapper.  Have you ever noticed the suffocating darkness and heaviness that fills the air on Halloween night?

 

It’s no wonder, Halloween is a holiday dedicated to the evil.  It was a Celtic holiday and believed to be a time when the dead could come back into our world and destroy.  How did costumes get involved?  Well, the people would wear them to pacify the evil spirits.  Although a lot of society believes that Halloween is a harmless holiday in today’s world…it is still a night when the Dark Kingdom is honored and glorified.  Witches, demons, monsters, ghosts, and everything grotesque and opposite of pure and lovely is made to be harmless, imitated, and posted for all eyes to behold.  Those involved in occults use October 31 as a special time of worship.

It’s completely understandable why a lot of Christians stay away -as far as possible- from Halloween.  We lock ourselves up in our cozy little homes and pretend that it is just another normal evening.

 

BUT Ladies and Gentlemen- it is not another normal holiday!  And as unbelievable as it might sound, I wish Christians would celebrate on Halloween.

 

Before you send me away for Christian counseling since I obviously need it after that statement…let me explain.

When we, who are warriors of God’s Kingdom, look the other way on Halloween or ignore it; we are allowing the warriors of the Dark Kingdom to advance.  Maybe it does not seem like a big deal because we can’t always see physical and spiritual battles lost and what has been destroyed, but there is damage done nonetheless.

 

What can we do?

  • Well, first of all, we have to realize that Satan and his evil are truly a mighty force.  We do not have any idea how much power they have and use.

 

  • BUT- we need not despair or fear because God is ALWAYS and WILL ALWAYS be more powerful.  Without His protection and Spirit, we are helpless; but with His protection and Spirit, “we are more than conquerors”!

 

  • We need to explain to our children why we do not participate in Halloween traditions or decorate our houses in “harmless” black cats, skeletons, and bloody eyeballs.  Trying to ignore the issue will make our children all the more curious and may cause them to become involved in the evil because of where they received answers to their curiosity.

 

  • We can celebrate on Halloween that we have been saved and do not need to live in the darkness, fear, and evil that surrounds those on this night who do not know Jesus.

So how can we celebrate on Halloween, but yet, not celebrate Halloween?

  • For those who still trick or treat and come knocking at your door- have cute little bags of candy ready for them, but put a kid’s tract or Bible story book in along with the candy.  There are some amazing, powerful, yet fun little booklets that can speak God’s message into kiddos hearts.

 

  • Have a party at your house or church for the local neighbor children.  Tell them that you won’t be wearing costumes, but there will still be a lot of fun things to do anyways.  Have food, games, little favors/gifts for each child to take home, easy crafts (painting t-shirts is always fun), share why you don’t celebrate Halloween, and then before they leave pray and read a meaningful story or Bible lesson that captivates the kids.  You can even do bag skits on Bible stories from the Bible…that way the children can still get to dress up, but it is for God’s Kingdom instead of for the Dark Kingdom.  It will be a lot of work, but there will be amazing battles won in the lives of children who otherwise would have been on the side of the Evil One.  Our church did this one year, and the children loved it…but they also walked away with lessons engrained upon their hearts forever.  We also did something unusual and had two hallways- one was marked Heaven and the other was marked Hell.  The children could then choose which hallway to walk.  Heaven was bright and beautiful, but Hell was dark and ugly.  Those who reached the end of the Heaven hall received a lovely gift, but those who reached the end of the Hell hall either did not get a gift or were given a not-so-nice one.

 

  • Allow your children to decorate pumpkins with sayings like “Jesus Loves Me”, “Trust in the Lord”, “Jesus is the Light of the World”, “Your Word is a Lamp to my Feet”, “God is our Refuge and Strength”, “For God so Loved the World”….  Then fill your porches and doorways with your kiddos’ cute creations that shout out great messages to all who pass by.

 

  • Take time to kindly and sweetly tell those who wish you a “Happy Halloween” or wonder how you will be partying that you do not celebrate Halloween, but you do celebrate on Halloween that you are a child of God who has been saved from the Kingdom of Darkness into the Kingdom of Light.  If said without a condescending, self-righteous attitude, those simple words could leave a profound impact.

 

  • Do not think that by fighting the Darkness, you have to learn all about it.  You do not have to research the land of witchcraft and ouiji boards to properly combat Satan and his army.  Evil has a way of laying traps that can snare even the strongest soldier of Light when he starts treading upon their grounds.  All that you need as your weapons are God’s Holy Spirit, prayer, God’s Word, and The Armor of God!

 

  • Most importantly—–pray!  When the disciples tried to combat powerful evil, but could not, Jesus replied that it could only be done through much prayer and fasting. [20And they brought him unto him: and when he saw him, straightway the spirit tare him; and he fell on the ground, and wallowed foaming. 21And he asked his father, How long is it ago since this came unto him? And he said, Of a child. 22And ofttimes it hath cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him: but if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us. 23Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. 24And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief. 25When Jesus saw that the people came running together, he rebuked the foul spirit, saying unto him, Thou dumb and deaf spirit, I charge thee, come out of him, and enter no more into him. 26And the spirit cried, and rent him sore, and came out of him: and he was as one dead; insomuch that many said, He is dead. 27But Jesus took him by the hand, and lifted him up; and he arose. 28And when he was come into the house, his disciples asked him privately, Why could not we cast him out? 29And he said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.- Mark 9:20-29]
  • Ask God for spiritual, physical, and emotional protection for you, your family, and other Christians on a night when the Light is attacked by the Dark.  Ask God to show Himself powerful.  Ask Him to keep the innocent from falling prey to things that lead to only more and more evil.  Ask God how He wants you to share His light on one of the darkest nights.  Bring your family together in prayer as well.  Your children will always remember seeing the power in a warrior on his knees.

I would love to hear your ideas about how you celebrate as a Christian on Halloween!