Halloween: Reflections on three foundational elements of the celebration

Today is Halloween, a day that many, both young and old,  look forward to celebrating.  For some, it is a day they look forward to above all others.  However, what does the day really celebrate.  There are three distinct elements the encompass the celebration.  The day celebrates fear, selfishness, and deception.  This article will examine each element of this celebration a little more closely. 

    Lets take a look at the first element fear.  Now fear in and of it self is not a bad thing.  We are created with emotions, and fear is one of them.  Halloween seems to be more about celebrating all that generate fear.  It is taking a look at all that moves about in the dark places and celebrating the power that generates fear.  Monsters, demons, serial killers, all that is dark and evil is celebrated.  Why do we celebrate these things.  Some may argue that ultimately it is to reduce the power these things have to generate fear. However, the exact opposite occurs.  The things of evil and darkness are given more power. The day actually minimizes the true power and reduces the evil and darkness to silly things that no one takes seriously. When we celebrate the dark things that ellict fear, as we ramp up exposure to them, these things seem less scary and ultimately seem less a threat.  So as the things that generate fear are celebrated, the power of evil to influence grows as the threats are minimized and reach a point where not taken seriously.

The other foundational element celebrated is selfishness.  Selfishness is a key element to the celebration.  Engaging in trick or treating is at is core celebrating selfishness. It is all about getting what you want and doing so with threat of harm if you do not get it.  It is a day when people feel comfortable pursuing base things and seeking after assorted pleasures that elevate self.  This should be no surprise because the religions that consider Halloween an important day have at the core of their religion elements of self-entitlement.  This can be seen in Wicca, the New Age Movement, Druidism, and any other pagan based religions.  So, Halloween in essence celebrates self-empowerment and teaches seeking after our own desires. 

The third element that is celebrated in Halloween is deception. This is seen in the use of costumes and masks.  It really celebrates pretense and masks. It really plays out the human propensity to hide and defend through what is seen to be harmless fun.  However, if examine closely it is a celebration of they way each of use deception and makes deception thought of as something “fun.”  It celebrates the ways we lie, hide, and protect.  Deception is the rule of the day.  There is little awareness that what is celebrated actually serves to spread being comfortable with deception as well as awareness of the damage all deception does.

So in essence Halloween celebrates darkness at the core through elevating fear, selfishness, and deception.  Ultimately such a celebration really simply results in making each of us more comfortable with the darkness around us and in our own lives. The truth is celebrating the darkness leads to destruction.  There is often great evil done on this day.  Ultimately the great evils done are not the worst. It is the simply minimization of evil and elevation of self that are the core elements that will lead to destruction.  The sources of fear, the selfishness, and deception is simply made to be non-threatening when they are the key elements that drive us from faith and away from God.   The truth is found in the light of Jesus the Messiah.  All the powers of darkness, sources of fear, selfishness, and deception have no power. They have all been defeated at the cross.  So on this day, I praise God for the work of the Cross.  I praise God for his setting me free from all that is dark. The things of darkness have no power in comparison to the light of Jesus. The things of darkness have been defeated and their time is short.  So while in these days and times the powers of darkness seem to have full sway and certainly manifest on these days of celebratory evil, it is but temporary.  All praise to the one true God who sent Jesus to cleanse us from selfishness. The things of this earth and flesh, like Halloween can bring momentary pleasure, but it is temporary and comes with a cost.

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News Commentary: Learning from the Fall of Jeff Dubay

     In the Twin Cities, news recently broke of sports radio personality Jeff Dubayrecent arrest for drug possession. Initially there was misunderstanding regarding which drug he was charged with possessing, it ulitemately ended up being crack cocaine.  Yesterday, Jeff Dubay was terminated from KFANand will no longer be heard on the airwaves.  This incident followed Jeff Dubay taking a leave during the summer. Upon return we learned his wife was divorcing him. Perhaps many suspected he had gone to treatment or a connection to drug or alcohol, but it was all speculation until recent events. 

       The story of the fall of Jeff Dubay is really no different then many other stories.  Jeff Dubay simply is a man whose profession was entertaining the public, and as such, his fall became public.  So the question is why, is there something inherently broken in Jeff Dubay?  He had everything and lost it all do to drugs, how could he have let that happen?  Well, Jeff is really no different than any of us.  Ultimately he found that upon getting all he wanted (the wife, the house, the boat, the cabin, Gopher’s Hockey championships) it in the end meant nothing.  At some point, be it triggered by stress at home or triggered by nothing Jeff Dubay turned to crack cocaine.  Again, no different then any of us. It is very common for people to turn to alcohol, nicotine, marijuana, sex, television and so on to cope.  We settle for something that medicates temporarily when what we wanted ends up not fulfilling the emptiness.  As it says over and over in Ecclesiastes, “All is vanity, a chasing after the wind.”  Mr. Dubay had expanded his kingdom and within the perspective of this world had set himself up to have a nice life complete with all the toys. 

      Some may point to and argue that some people just cannot handle stress.  Some people are just genetically predisposed toward addiction.  Jeff has let known on air that he has ADHD. So, Jeff clearly had to be a broken person in order to make these choices.  However, these choices are made frequently by people without any broken part.  It may be easy to focus on how Jeff’s brain might work differently as an excuse, but it really comes down to making a choice.  However, more and more in society, excuses are looked for regarding destructive choices.   Jeff Dubay is no different then many people and ultimately we all can easily make destructive choices when faced with meaninglessness or even a threat of losing part of our own kingdom. 

       Some may be thinking, how could Jeff Dubay have possibly returned to the drug after treatment or even put himself in such a position.  The fact is, once an addiction sets in, reason leaves the door.  The compulsive methods of coping are traps that once hooked, people have trouble getting free.  Actually, any sin, be it compulsive or not, is a trap.  It takes daily fighting the battle and resistance in order to become free.  And freedom apart from the grace of God comes very difficult indeed.

    Alcoholics Anonymous recognizes the role of faith in recovery, but falls short by relying solely on faith.  It doesn’t matter what you believe in, just believe in something outside yourself.  As long as you confess, repent, and reconcile it does not matter what Deity you have faith in.  However, there is really only one to truly have faith in,  Jesus the Messiah.  Faith in anything but Jesus will fall short and ultimately one form of false peace is traded for another.  True peace only comes through true reconciliation. True reconciliation only comes by turning to the one and true God.  Our sins and addictions have consequences not just in this life.  Jesus paid the dept.  He took the punishment.   He can set us truly free from all that ensnares.  However, we need to submit by an act of the will and accept Jesus covering for our imperfection and selfishness.

Now, it is public knowledge that Jeff Dubay is not religious. He has talked on error of his thoughts that it is all about individual strength.  His lack of religious belief was discuss many times in his buying his on air partner a Jesus bobble head doll.  So, given that Jeff Dubay doesn’t not yet know Jesus, I pray that God reveals himself to Jeff as he goes through this time of brokenness.  Jesus is the true answer for freedom and reconciliation.  Now, turning oneself over to Jesus and surrendering to the King of Kings does not mean that life will always be easy and there will be no suffering, rather it means that in spite of any storms around us, we have access to true peace.  True peace rests in being right with God and knowing that what lies ahead transcends any current circumstance.

Movie Commentary: Fireproof

          This movie is well worth seeing. The movie shows that a good movie can be written and made from a Christian perspective and not hit folks over the head with the Gospel. Many so-called Christian movies are poorly done and badly written, this movie is neither.  The movie has a broad appeal with the main core of the story being a struggling marriage and the central theme being reconciliation.

         The core principles used in the movie is that of following an outline toward loving unconditionally and moving beyond self. The focus is just not on unconditional love, but even showing the importance of recognizing our limitations and pointing to Jesus the Messiah. 

        The film is used to promote the concept of the Love Dare journal which is available in various assorted stores or websites.  They also have a website http://www.fireproofmymarriage.com/ emphasizing the concepts in the film. 

       Now while the movie is well done and certainly promotes marriage reconciliation there are some dangers as well. One danger is that what can happen as a result is a formulaic approach to marriage reconciliation.  There is an implicit promise that if you follow the principles shown in the film, that all will be well. The fact is, people can and do reject love.  As the movie draws the parallel between our rejecting Jesus love and the rejection of love in a marriage.  Yet, the truth remains that truely demonstrated love puts a person in the perspective of change.

      The important principle comes down to moving beyond ourselves and following the Biblical commands such as for a husband to love his wife as Jesus loves the Church, which is love regardless of response.  This love can either be accepted or rejected. Some will accept, some will reject but moving beyond self is the key. And no one can truely love unselfishly without Jesus at the center.  People can try, but usually the manipulative aspects of such falsely tried love can be observed.  It also points to giving all of yourself, setting aside all of what can easily ensnare.  Now the truth is, some of our snares are so engrained that it takes work to surrender and move out of the traps that ensnare us.  However, for those that follow what God set forth, there will be blessings.  The blessing are not always what we want, we have to be willing to lose all to gain what Jesus has for us ahead. Sometimes that means loss. 

     Another caution is that it could be tempting to use the movie to try and make a point to someone you know is stuggling.  Clearly, such an approach could serve as a barrier.  Certainly recommend the film  and the journal to others you know but do not do so with caution and respect.  Above all pray, pray that God uses the film and book to bring others unto him.  Pray for anyone you know who is in a struggling marriage.  Pray that God uses the film even to enhance marriages of those not struggling.  Pray above all that message of Jesus and the Gospel do not get lost and truth of the need to surrender to Jesus continues to shine. 

Prayer request update: Post mother’s vision test

Well my mother had her test on Monday and we are awaiting the results. She reported an awful time getting to the appointment, and whatever could go wrong seemed to do so. 

In terms of healing prayers and restoration of vision, mother commented that God’s healing and restoration doesn’t always happen ways we think.  This is very true, including the healing of death. 

Mother did seem to get perhaps an answer to something that may have been wrong with her and may contribute to vision problems.  The nurse performing the test asked her how long she had the “lupus butterfly” which is apparently a kind of blush or raise lupus sufferers exhibit.  My mother explained that in 1992 she had a really difficult time health-wise with severe pain in hands.  I always thought it just was figured to be fybromyalgia but this is not the case.  She was given a medication that also treats lupus.  Mother intends to seek out her rheumotologist (an appointment she also had yesterday and missed) and explore that possibility.   Above all continue praying and through this all may God shine light and glory to Him.

The Final Biblical Festival: Sukkot (The Feast of Tabernacles/Booths)

Yesterday was the start of Sukkot. Sukkot goes for seven days and is followed by a Holy Sabbath day (Shemini Atzeret) on the eight day.  This festival is one of celebration and rejoicing.  It is thought to serve even as a starting point for the Pilgrims celebration of Thanksgiving.

      This festival appears rich with meaning and points both back to Israel’s wandering in the desert and forward to Jesus return and establishing His kingdom on earth and the millennial reign.  It is the festival celebrating the final harvest. 

     The festival emphasizes temporary shelters which points to the temporariness of this life.  It points to far better things ahead. The festival is also one the requires a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.  This requirement is a reminder that this world is not our home, and there is greater things ahead. 

      Now according to several articles, the most likely time of Jesus birth was during Sukkot.  So in essence, the biblical festival of Sukkot is also the true celebration of the birth of Yeshua as well as the culmination of the second coming when the final harvest occurs and the marriage with the Bride occurs.  Those of us who have missed in learning and celebrating Sukkot and the other Biblical festivals miss out on a lot that God has designated to point to what is ahead as well as what he has done.  Another interesting not is that Jesus referring to himself being the living water and the light of the world points to ceremonies involved in Sukkot.

      Sukkot is also marked by the performance of seventy sacrifices. Articles point  out that seventy is the number of existing nations at the time of the foundation of Israel.  It is to point to people from all nations and tribes being part of the final harvest and entering into the Kingdom of God.

     There are many, many things to learn from Sukkot. The articles I have examined have been interesting.   Ultimately, we all should be celebrating God’s provision, our redemption, and the coming kingdom of God.  A study of Sukkot make very clear that any who preach the Church needing to take dominion before the return of Yeshua is preaching a different gospel because such a concept does not fit with the imagery God set forth in the Sukkot festival. 

     Also in examining this and the other fall festivals, it is clear that in the modern church with our Celebration of Christmas and Easter and ignorance of the Biblical festivals truly miss out on what God has for us. In this case, Sukkot is essentially a week long party celebrating what God has, is, and will do.

Reference articles:

http://www.bridgesforpeace.com/pics/_TeachSukkot.pdf

http://www.ourfathersfestival.net/about_the_festival

http://followingtheancientpaths.wordpress.com/2006/10/06/sukkot-aka-feast-of-tabernacles/

http://www.messianic.ws/sukkot.htm

http://www.tikkunministries.org/newsletters/mm-oct08.asp

http://www.localaccess.com/Pari/sukkot.htm

http://www.thewatchman.org/en/sukkot.php

http://www.bethhillel.com/sukkot.htm

Untimely Death: Former Minnesota Viking Fullback Chuck Evans, RIP

Well learned today that former Minnesota Viking Fullback Chuck Evans died on Sunday of a heart attack. The death was sudden and unexpected according to the Star Tribune article.  Anytime some dies unexpectedly it is a reminder that life is but a vapor.  We never know what tomorrow will bring.  Hearing about such death is a ready reminder of our mortality and a good time to reflect on our eternal condition as well as the condition of those around us. Ultimately the time for each of us is always short.  The end will always come soon.  Granted, some go through much pain and suffering before the end, but none the less, it is always just too soon for those left behind.  We know not what tomorrow will bring, death comes for us all. 

     I encourage each person reading this to consider your relationship with God and your eternal state.  There is a simple step to take to get right with God and have your eternal place secured. The simple step is easy, yet requires all. It is surrender to the King of Kings. It is accepting God’s give of the sacrifice of Jesus as a covering for all your selfishness.  I pray Chuck Evans was right before God. It is too late for him, it is not to late for anyone still alive.  In wrapping up this post, I pray the God gives Chuck Evans family comfort and peace and may they become more aware of God and His love, in spite of deep grief.

Frank Vennes commentary revisited: A needed apology

In a previous commentary, this writer referred to Mr. Frank Vennes Jr. as a potential wolf in sheep’s clothing.  I was wrong to have made such an assertion.  In looking back, the impetus for making such a comment stemmed from anger.  Anger at so many people being deceived and good ministries being put in harms way.  Now, I tried to temper my anger and recognized that what I was attending to is no different then the rest of us.  In my anger, I certainly jumped to conclusions based on a small report of the facts. My anger in turn minimized the importance of the points I was trying to make about things each of us need to examine.

The first point was about true repentance.  In reading the initial article about Mr. Vennes my attention was drawn toward and apparent lack of repentance.  Only God and Mr. Vennes know the truth of this matter. The way I commented about it was wrong.  We all need to constantly evaluate and recheck to see if we are holding on to things we should not be.   It really comes to a matter of forgiveness coupled with repentance.  We all need to forgive those who have wronged us. Only God knows for each of us if we reached that point.

My second point was about surrender to the King of Kings and not seeking own kingdom.  I saw within the story the ability to again make that point, however I did so while making a judgment again with a partial understanding of the facts and based on how things appear based on evidence.  Again, Mr. Vennes and God know where he is at in his life related to surrender and whether he is pursuing his own interests and wealth or not.  The point to me is we all at times invoke our own will and seek our own kingdom.  We often let stuff that is all ours get mixed in to what God may want to do. My errors in the commentary certainly are evidence of that, and as always I take all expressed concerns to heart. 

The third point was the need for discernment in the church. The overall anger was fueled by the overarching concern for the many ways deception is creeping into the church and the many ways the church does not see clearly and fails to exercise sound judgment or sound discernment. 

So in my anger and in haste to write something of interest to draw people into evaluating themselves, I wronged a brother.  No matter what my concerns are or the rightness of the points I feel led to make, the way I went about it is wrong.  I ask for Mr. Vennes and friends for their forgiveness in the matter and will remember the reactions when writing future commentary.   At some point soon there also will be commentary focusing on all of our tendencies to respond in anger, since there are many things many can get angry about these days, not just the Thomas Petters fraud and those used or conned in implementing it.