How Do You (Christians) Approach Halloween?

Halloween… you think it is good, bad, or you just don’t know?  My family has always taken the approach that we avoid Halloween completely.  We want to abstain from all appearances of evil.  We have always participated in our church’s (Mt. Gilead Baptist Church) Fall Festival.  But as far as at home, we would be the family on the block that turns out all the lights ‘inside and out’ because we do not want to participate.  However, I am currently struggling with the best way to handle this day.  Our desire as a family is to live out the gospel of Jesus Christ.  So that creates the question, “How is turning off our lights and “hiding our light” being gospel centered?  Hmm…good question.  I do not have all of this figured out right now in my mind and heart.  I do know that there will be people out and about tonight that need Jesus.  The question is what can our family do to impact them and bring the greatest glory to our Lord?

I read this post from Keith Sewell’s Blog and with his permission I am re-posting it here for your review.  Keith originally got permission from Jeff Vanderstelt to post it on his blog.  I would love your interaction concerning this matter.  Your input will help me work through this in my own mind.

The following was originally posted by Jeff Vanderstelt on October 27, 2011.

Halloween offers a great opportunity for many to engage in new relationships with those around us or to revisit some old relationships with new missional intentionality. Regardless of what you think of the holiday and it’s roots, the culture we have been sent by Jesus to reach is going to celebrate Halloween this Monday. We all have in front of us a wide open door for missionary engagement in our neighborhoods. I want to encourage you not to miss out on the opportunity.

If you are looking to be more intentionally engaged this year, I want to present you with a few ideas for how you can more effectively walk through the open door that Halloween presents to us as Jesus’ missionaries.

BE HOSPITABLE…Don’t just give out candy

  1. Give out the best Candy. Please, don’t give out tracks or toothbrushes or pennies…kids are looking for the master loot of candy. Put yourself in their shoes.
  2. Think of the Parents. Consider having some Hot Apple Cider and pumpkin bread or muffins out for the parents who are bringing their little kiddos around the block. Make your entry-way inviting so they want to come closer and hang for a bit if possible.
  3. Be Present. Don’t hide out all night. Come out to the door or hang out on the porch and if they stop to have some cider, get to know their names and where they live in the neighborhood.
  4. Be Encouraging. Tell the kids you love their costumes and to have a great night. Practice building others up with words.
  5. Party. If you’re really into it, you may want to throw a pre-Trick or Treating party. Provide dinner and drinks. Then, send the dads out trick or treating with the kids while the moms continue hanging with some hot apple cider, coffee or tea. Then reconvene with the parents and kids together to examine all of the loot (kids love to show their parents and other kids the loot).
  6. Learn the Stories. If you are out T or Ting with the kiddos or staying back with the other parents, ask questions…get to know their stories. Pay attention to their hearts and their felt needs. Look for opportunities to serve them later. This is how I first got to know Clay (while Jayne was hanging with Kristi and the other moms). I learned his story while we were with the kids and Jayne got to know hers. This led to both of them eventually coming to faith in Jesus.

GO TO THEIR PLACE…Join what is happening elsewhere

  1. Attend the Party. If others are throwing parties, you may want to join them. If so, bring drinks, food or whatever is needed. Then, serve by helping to clean up.
  2. Join the Community. If your community has key events, join them and invite some neighbors to go with you (then get to know their stories along the way). Our area has a trick or treating event on a main street where all the businesses give out candy, the firemen give tours of the fire engines, etc… We go with a group of friends to this each year and consistently meet more people to reach out to.
  3. Head to the “Watering Holes”. If you do not have kids or are not going to engage in the Trick or Treating activities or events, consider going to the local pubs, restaurants or clubs near you for their events and get to know the people there. Make it your goal to learn the story of at least one person who needs Jesus and walk away with some next steps on how to serve them. You will want to do this with others so that you don’t go it alone.

BE PRAYERFUL…Ask for the Spirit to led, guide and work

  1. Pay Attention. Ask the Spirit to open your eyes and ears to the real needs around you.
  2. Stay Dependent. Ask the Spirit to help you listen, care and serve those around you.
  3. Open Doors. Ask the Spirit for open doors for new relationships and gospel conversations

For further reading about Halloween check out this post by Winfield Bevins – What to Do with Halloween


I need You Lord!  I desperately need YOU!


My Children: Their Hearts vs My Heart

This post comes from the heart of a daddy that struggles at being a daddy.  Maybe some of you can relate and maybe some of you can add comments of instruction or encouragement.  Most of the time, when it comes to parenting, I feel like Paul…”the things I desire to do I do not do and the things I do not desire to do I do”.  Quite honestly, this leaves me frustrated.  I understand the responsibility and the honor to disciple my children.  And I truly want to be as effective at this as I possibly can.  But you know what….I mess it up.  Can you relate?

Let me give one case in point.  I made a commitment to my children, my wife, and myself many years ago that I would pray with my children every night before bed.  I want to lift them up to the Throne Room of Grace…praying for their souls, for their walk, for their actions, for their future, for their husbands to be, for their hearts to be utterly surrendered to the Lord, that they would fall deeply in love with Christ, etc.  I understand the weight of this responsibility.  I am their spiritual leader.  I am the priest of my home.  I have a responsibility to intercede for them.  But, even when this understanding I find it a struggle to be consistent.  There seems to be so many things warring against this time of deep intimacy with my children.  Actually, there is probably only one thing warring against this time….self.

My girls will ask me every night before they go upstairs to go to bed, like they did last night,  “Are you coming up tonight, daddy?”  Translation….”Daddy, we desire that time of intimacy with you…daddy, we need you to pray for us…..daddy, you speak value into our lives when you come up at night…..daddy, you tell us you love us by this action….daddy, it means something to us….daddy, you win our hearts when you pray with us”!  Yet when I am asked this question, many times, a struggle begins inside of me that goes something like this….”this is my time of the day….this is when I get to wind down….I have already mapped out my time for this part of the day.”  Obviously, you see the struggle.  In an instant I am faced with a decision, “Will I think of myself or will I think of others?”  I would love to be able to say I think of others every time.  But, you already know from the previous words that this is not true.

How in the world can I fight this battle.  My only hope is to live out Rom. 6, 7, and 8….die daily….die daily!  This thing called parenthood cannot be done in my own strength.  I must fall before my Lord in utter surrender asking for Him to do in me what I cannot do!  My decisions will be a direct result of my relationship with Christ.  Am I walking in the flesh or am I walking in the Spirit?  Which one is stronger?  Well….the one I feed the most!  As I….”seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness….then…”all these things will be added unto me”.  I want to live so close and clean with my Lord that it shows not only in my relationship with my children, but in all of my relationships.  I am desperate for the fruit of the Spirit to be ripened in my life!

I need YOU Lord!  I desperately need YOU!

I feel rather vulnerable with this post, but I will trust the Lord to use it.  Those of you that read this post….would you please pray for this struggling daddy that so often is consumed with himself?  I would greatly appreciate it!



Lindsey’s School Project


Great Job Lindsey Blue!!!!!


Lindsey had to do a project for co-op where she picked a state, studied it, and then did a work up on the state.  Well this is the product of her hard work.  She decided to make a map of Michigan with Play Dough.  I think she did a very good job.  She did this by her self…with very little help from mommy.  I am so proud of her.  She gets her creative side from her mommy….definately not from daddy!  Good job Blue Bird!


Overflowing Grace

 But to each one of us grace has been given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.  Eph. 4:7 (NKJ)

In 2008, I sat on the rocks of False Bay in Capetown, South Africa studying this scripture when the Lord spoke a huge truth into my life concerning His abounding grace.  When you look at this scripture the Lord tells us, through the pen of Paul, that “to each one of us grace was given according to the ‘measure of Christ’s gift.’ (emphasis mine)  The measure of Christ’s gift?  How do we measure Christ’s gift?  Well, Christ gave His all or His fullness.  But, our understanding of fullness is limited.  Fullness to us would be demonstrated by taking a glass and placing it under a water fountain filling it to the very rim of the glass until nothing else could be added.  This is full, right?  Maybe to us, but not to a God that is limitless.

The fullness that we understand carries with it an idea of ‘enough’.  But, when you remove the limiting factor of fullness there now becomes no boundary….no end….no limit.  If we were to look at ‘fullness’ from the perspective of limitlessness (my word) we would have to modify our demonstrating picture.  Let’s take the same glass and let’s place it under a water fountain, but this ‘Fountain’ has no limits.  This Fountain never get’s turned off.  This Fountain has a limitless supply of ‘water’.  So, as our glass sits under this Fountain, the water fills to the very rim and then begins to flow over the side.  And it flows…and it flows….and it flows….and it flows….and it flows….and it flows….you get the point.

How exciting!  Hallelujah!  Our Loving, Wonderful, Giving, Overflowing God has given to us an overflowing grace that never ends!  Do you understand what this means?  You and I have been given the all-sufficient grace that we need to live this life we have been called to live!  No matter our circumstances, no matter the trials, no matter what questions we have, no matter the answers we do not have, no matter the challenges that lie ahead….we already have the grace we need!  I am having a difficult time containing myself!  How exciting is this?!  Our God is FAITHFUL and BOUNTIFUL!

Since that morning on the rocks of False Bay my prayers have changed somewhat.  My prayers now concerning God’s overflowing grace have been….”Lord, teach me now to live in the grace that you have already given me and continue to give.  This is huge for believers.  We do not need to “clean up our act” and live better.  We just need to “live out” the grace that has been given!  Praise the Lord!

I need YOU Lord!  I desperately need YOU!

Shane Black


When People Are No Longer People

Are we living with our eyes covered?

The other day I had to spend much of my lunch time running errands.  I had to go see the “guy at the bank” to sign papers.  I had to go see the “lady at the drive through” of another bank to make a deposit.  I had to go see the “lady behind the counter” at the dry cleaners to pick up my clothes.  I had to call the “guy at the gas place” about work that needed to be done.  Well, you get my point….I had a lot of people to see and talk to.  But were they really “people”?  Let me explain……

On this particular day of errand running I was listening to Paul Tripp’s series, “Forever”.  In this series Paul Tripp addresses our need for an eternal perspective as we live out our lives as believers.  God took an ordinary, busy, activity filled, me driven day and spoke into my heart creating great shame (well the shame was self-created) and conviction (God-created).

Paul told the story of a conversation that he had with the previous manager of the restaurant on the top floor of the World Trade Center…”Top Of The World” (the name being rather ironic).  This conversation took place approximately three weeks after the tragedy of 9/11.  Paul related how this man could barely speak through the sobs as he shared with Paul.  On the morning of 9/11 the restaurant held a corporate breakfast with over 200 employees in attendance, but, the manager was unable to attend because he had a doctor’s appointment.  The manager shared how, in a moment of time, he lost all of his employees.  He went on to share that he had spent the last few weeks attending the funerals of his employees.  He spoke of the mom that told him about how smart and sweet her son was, the wives that spoke of their husbands, husbands that spoke of their wives, children that spoke of their parents…..and on and on….people sharing about the people in their lives that had great meaning to them and are now gone.  Through the sobbing the man went on to confess the reality of the situation to Paul.  The manager told Paul that to him these “people” were nothing more than dishwashers, cooks, hosts, waiters and waitresses, bus-boys….etc.  He did not really know them at all!

Paul used this story as an illustration of how many of us go through our busy lives interacting with “people who are no longer people” to us.  You see these “people” have become the “guy at the bank”, the “lady at the drive through”, the “lady behind the counter”, and the “guy at the gas place”…..rather that a person with a story.  All of us have a story that we are living and all of us live our story in the perspective of eternity, though we may not realize it.  Our lives here on earth “are but a vapor” and then we will spend an eternity either in misery and damnation in Hell or in great joy and celebration with Jesus.

Here lies the great problem…..many of us live our lives never engaging in the lives of the people God has divinely put into our path.  Wait, stop a minute!  Do not read through the last sentence quickly…read it again.  No really, read it again…..”many of us live our lives never engaging in the lives of the people God has divinely put into our path.”  Does that not grip your heart?  There are men, women, boys, girls, moms, dads, grandmas, and granddads, everywhere, that God has placed in our lives for the purpose of  becoming involved in their story.  Yet, we are so consumed with our story that their story does not matter.  Think for a moment of all of the “people” you come in contact with every day, but you do not really know them.  What is their name?  Do they have family close by?  Are they married/single?  What are their interest?  Are they happy/sad?  Do they have needs?  What is their story?  And here is the big one….Does this person have a personal relationship with Jesus?  This is what life is all about.  No one will experience true life without Christ.  God has given you and me an opportunity to share true life with people.  What a privilege!  Guys, we have the opportunity to be salt and light.  We can impact the world for the cause of Christ.  We can impact people for the cause of Christ!  If we have the greatest news ever, how is it that we are living out our (God-given) story with our eyes covered to the stories being lived out all around us?  When will it not be all about me?

Jesus said to him, ” ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind’.  This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’  (emphasis mine) Matthew 22:37-39

 Here is the good news….God desires us to live out these commandments.  He desires that we impact the lives of others.  He desires that we glorify Him as we become intimately involved in the lives of others.  So guess what…He will produce this fruit in us as we surrender our all to Him!  We cannot do this in our strength.  We must be utterly dependent.  God-dependence begins only when self-dependence ends.-Manley Beasley

We need YOU Lord!  We desperately need YOU!



Do I Need Revival?

Revelation 2:1-5

In Revelation 2 we see our Lord taking a journey through the church of Ephesus.  This church had once been a vibrant group of believers deeply in love with Jesus.  They had maintained doctrinal purity, they had kept themselves from the practices of the world, and they had a great enthusiasm for service.  However, over the years that had abandoned their first love.

Jesus says in vs. 1 that “he walks in the midst of the seven lampstands” or churches.  Can you imagine, with me, this picture….our Lord slowly making His way through the churches and he stops, He looks intently and he takes notice.  Jesus observes each church and he evaluates their walk and their life.  Jesus looks past all their wonderful programs….all the activities….all the ministries….the great buildings….the great pastor….He looks past their church face.  Jesus evaluates their heart!  You see, the church of Ephesus had gotten so caught up in doing the good things that they had taken their focus off of the Great Jesus Christ.  They were not guilty of spiritual immaturity they were guilty of spiritual infidelity.

Let me ask you….what if Jesus were to take a journey through your church or your home and evaluate your life?  What would He find?  Have you abandoned your first love?  Let us look at five warning signs that you or I have abandoned our first love and are in need of revival:

1.  I no longer love reading the Word of God

Is the Word of God alive to you and powerful? Heb. 4:12

Do you read and meditate on the Word of God? Ps. 119:9-16

Are you having personal times of devotion? 2 Tim. 3:16-17

Do you crave God’s living Word? 1 Pt. 2:2-3

Are you as much in love with the Word of God as you once were before?  Are you willing to drive across town to sit under the preaching of the Word of God, but you will not walk across the living room to pick up the Word of God to read it?

2.  I no longer enjoy going to church and serving God

You remember it so well…..there was a time in your life when you could not wait to get to church, but slowly you have began to go less and less.  Now it has become easier to come up with an excuse not to go.  Or maybe you have began to eliminate Sunday nights or Wednesday night prayer meetings from your schedule of worship.

Is it necessary for you to be entertained in order to be drawn to church?

Do you long for the fellowship and company of God’s people?

Does going to church still create in you a sense of excitement and joy?

3.  I have started being entertained by sin

We must be willing to admit that we have abandoned our first love when the things that used to be blatant sins to us are gradually becoming ‘not so bad’.  This can happen so gradual that we do not take notice of it initially.  The things that used to be black and white have slowly faded into grey.  Does this describe you?

Do you keep your mind free from books, magazines, or entertainment that could stimulate fantasizing thoughts that are not morally pure?

Are you continually engaging in gossip?

Are you conversations and behaviors pure and above reproach?

Is there any relationship, practice, or habit in your life that you would be ashamed to have publicly exposed?

Is your private life consistent with what others think of you?

Has it become difficult for you to confess sin?

4.  I have developed an unforgiving heart

All of us have been victim to some type of hurt at one point or another in our life.  Maybe you have been lied to, a promise has been broken, you have been neglected by someone, a violent crime has been committed against you, you have been falsely accused, you have been cheated or stolen from, you have an alcoholic family member, you have been publicly humiliated, you have been abused….and the list could go on and on.  Does this describe you?  Sure it does.  We have all been victims.  As you reflect on the ways you have been hurt do you find that each time you think of the person involved you are still angry?

Do you have a secret desire to have this person pay for what they did?

Do you find yourself telling others what this person did to you?

Are you unable to thank God for this person?

These are all symptoms in the life of a person that is unwilling to forgive the hurts committed against them.  As Jesus examines your heart, does He find unforgiveness?

5.  I am no longer burdened for the lost

Do you remember a time in your life when you prayed fervently for your lost friends and family members?  A time when you cried out to God that He would save them?  When was the last time you went to the Throne of Grace on behalf of a lost soul?  In Exodus 32 when the people of Israel made for themselves a god of gold God was going to destroy the people because of their sinful and rebellious hearts.  However, one man (Moses) was willing to intercede on their behalf.  In vs. 32 Moses prays this to God, “Yet now, if You will forgive their sins — but if not, I pray, blot me out of Your book which you have written.”  Moses was saying, in essence,….”God if you are going to send any of these people to hell….save them and send me instead.”  WOW!  What a heart for the lost!  Does this describe your heart?  Anything less is an indication that your heart needs a revived love for the lost.

Do any of these “five warning signs” describe you?  Well there is good news coming….Jesus gives us the solution.  Look at vs. 5….

We must remember: Remember what it was like when you first trusted Christ and your love for Him was fresh, pure, and unrivaled.

We must repent: Agree with God that your love for Jesus is not as warm as it once was, and that other loves have taken His rightful place in your life.

We must return: Invest the time and effort necessary to re-establish an intimate, loving relationship with your Lord.  Then you can respond to Him in loving adoration and obedience.

Are you all together right with God?  Has there ever been a time in your life when you were closer to Jesus than you are now?  Do you need revival?  Let us be a people that allows the Lord to examine our hearts and then respond to Him in obedience.

Lord we need You!  We desperately need You!