Teaching Our Children to Imitate Good

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If you ask me the question, “Can Christians celebrate Halloween?”, my answer would be a resounding, ” Yes, of course they can.”  Growing up in Central Indiana in the 70’s, Halloween was one of the most fun times of the year.  My friends and I would rush home from our neighborhood school, Central Elementary (Go Stars!) and immediately  get dressed in our home-made costumes with the plastic character masks bought from K-Mart or the grocery store. The ones that had super tiny eye and nose holes you could hardly see through or breath out of.  I am sure we drove our parents nuts running around waiting for the street lights to pop on, signaling the start of “Trick-Or Treating”.  Now, back then it was all about the treating, because if we were ever caught tricking we were in big trouble.   We can teach our children to imitate good by following Jesus, and what better time to do that than Halloween.

My answer to celebrating Halloween as a Christian is a resounding yes is for a few reasons which are found in 3 John 1:11, “Beloved, do not imitate evil but imitate good. Whoever does good is from God; whoever does evil has not seen God.”

First of all, to throw in a little History lesson, Halloween started as a Christian holiday, the eve of All-Saints Day, November 1.It is also the celebration of The Reformation which is a specific time in history where Martin Luther is celebrated for winning religious freedom.  Both of these are truths, which I would have to say are good things. (And so did BillyGraham.org)

I also believe as a child of God, raised in a Christian home that celebrated Halloween, we might have said, “Trick-Or-Treat” as our neighbors answered the door, but we didn’t really mean the “trick” part.  I mentioned earlier that if we were ever caught “tricking” we were in big trouble.  That was a true statement. (And those of you that follow my blog regularly know so does my mom, she’ll vouch for that statement I am sure in the comments). Our parents just taught us this was a fun night, to go out with friends, get candy and treats from our neighbors, and stay up just a little later than usual.  It was safe. Everyone knew their neighbors.  Yes there were some stingy treat givers, but no one cared.  We were happy-go-lucky kids having fun.  Our neighbors were giving good candy with smiles on their faces.

I was taught to “imitate good”. And as a Christian parent I taught my son the same ways my parents taught me about Halloween.  When my son was growing up in the early 2000’s we lived in a great neighborhood in McKinney, TX.  with amazing neighbors.  We took our kids around the block, door to door in their cute costumes “trick-or-treating”. No mischief here.  Just lots of smiles, laughs, and fun.

I believe as Christian parents when it comes to deciding if you are going to celebrate Halloween with your children is obviously a personal decision.  If, like me you do choose to celebrate keep 3 John 1:11 in mind and teach our children and grandchildren to imitate good.

Imitate Good:  Teach your children there really are no tricks, it’s just a saying.

Imitate Good: You can choose costumes that are positive characters not evil ones.

Imitate Good: Get to know your neighbors, have a Halloween block party that is alcohol   free and safe and fun for everyone.

Imitate Good: This is a great time to share the Word of God, invite unchurched                    neighbors to visit your church, or hand out Christian coloring sheets with                            candy.

Whatever your family chooses to do tonight, be safe, imitate good and have fun!  And kids, share a little candy with mom and dad, and grandma and grandpa!

Love and Light,

Jane Ann

PS, I am adding this here because I do understand we are not living in a world like it was in the 70’s.  Please parents, I hate to say it, but check your kids candy before they take a bite.  It pains me that we have to do this, to think that there are people who would want to harm our precious children and grandchildren.  These are the ones that have not seen God, these are the people we need to reach.  Imitate good and pray for them.

Trusting God’s Plan When We Want Comfort

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Many people, myself included, turn to Jeremiah 29:11 during times of suffering.  It is a beautiful piece of God’s Word, filled with an amazing promise for our lives. But are we clinging to this verse, hoping that God will wave some sort of magic wand and instantly take away all or our pain and suffering?  I personally haven’t read anywhere in the Bible where God plays the part of magician, friend.

To really understand the beauty of the message, we need to look back  a few verses to see what was happening in sixth century B.C.

If we start back at Jeremiah 29 :4 -7 God is telling His people, whom He had exiled from Jerusalem to Babylon, make this place your home. Then in verse 7 He says, “ Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”

God is saying, trust me here folks, I know what I am doing? Stay put, make the best of it in this land by working hard, raising your families, worshiping me, and see what I can do.

Can you feel the frustration of God’s chosen people?  They want to go back to their “home” so desperately, but their Lord is saying, do not turn back to your comfort zone.  Believe in Me.  Have you ever been in this kind of situation?  Maybe not exiled to a foreign country, but a season in your life when you were trying something new, something out of your out of your comfort zone?  Or it could have been a big move across country to a new city like mine was ten years ago when God brought me kicking and screaming out of Texas to Kentucky!

Oh I was just like the Jews in Babylon, complaining how terrible the conditions were “out in the country” called Crestwood, KY. (It is actually very beautiful).  The house we rented didn’t have a disposal! What is a city girl to do!  Not to mention this house we rented was on something called a septic system?  What? I had to buy special toilet paper! Are you kidding me! The worst part, the closest mall was, at least, 20 miles or more away! “God get me out of the forsaken place!” (I actually said that out loud one day as I left a faculty meeting at the school where I was teaching. Not good.).  I wanted to run as fast as my short legs could take me back to Texas, my home for the past 20 years, my safe, familiar, home.  Not the plan, and I needed to find the real hope Jeremiah 29:11 was offering me.

Let’s get back to our story in Jeremiah 29, we left off at verse 8.

I love verses 8 and 9.  God tells His people,  these guys are coming around spreading lies about me.  They will call themselves “diviners” and “prophets”. What they will actually doing is tricking you into  believing  your hopes and desires are what God is calling you to do. However, the Lord says in verse 9, “I have not sent them.”  Basically, do not believe them, I am your God, trust me.

Even today in our lives, we have to watch out for these so-called “diviners”, telling us what we want to hear is God’s plan for us when in reality it just might be our own desires.  (More to come in January on knowing when we hear God’s calling).

Verse 10, “This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place.”  Did he just say 70 years?  Yes He most certainly did.  Even in Sixth Century B.C, my friend, it was God’s timing not the timing of the people.

God wasn’t and isn’t going to just say, okay my chosen people, you don’t like Babylon so I will move you back to Jerusalem. (okay Jane Ann you don’t like Kentucky so I am moving you and your family back to Texas.)   No, that is not what our loving God does.  This is what he does, read on.

Now Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Read that verse again, this time though, put your name in place of the word “you”.

For I know the plans I have for ________,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper _____and not to harm ______, plans to give _______ hope and a future.

As believers in Christ Jesus, whose plans are these friend, ours or our Saviors?  Now here is the hope to cling to:

Listen in verses 12-14. as our Heavenly Father directs His people and us today.  I love these verses and if I could read them aloud to you it with be with the biggest smile on my face.  I imagine God with a big smile on His face and loving arms opened as he speaks:

Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.” (Jeremiah 29: 12-14 NIV)

God was going to take his chosen people back to Jerusalem, but not until they learned to persevere through the tough seasons of change, a season out of their comfort zone that would last 70 years.

God wants the same for us today. We  can have the hope that God is always with us no matter what season we are going through here on Earth.  When we call to Him he hears us. It is our job to persevere, have faith in His plan and timing.  He will deliver us  out of the season when He sees fit. We are not going to live out this life perfectly, because if we did we wouldn’t need a Savior, now would we?

By persevering  we will find we have more Joy than we could have ever imagined.  We will have learned more about ourselves and grown exponentially.  We will be prepared to help others when it is their season.

One more thing, friend, God will deliver us from this world one day too, that is part of His plan too.  For it is written in the Gospel of John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

Believe with me today, friend.  If you haven’t accepted Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, say yes to Jesus today.

This is the hope of Jeremiah 29:11.

 

 

Why You Need a Savior in This Season

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Growing up in the Midwest, Autumn meant cooler temperatures, warm apple cider, leaves on the trees changing from green to vivid yellows, oranges and reds, and bonfires with friends.  It was also the time we “fall back” with day light savings.  Change those clocks back an hour.  Now recently, this doesn’t happen until later in the fall, around November, (thank you so much Jesus).  Autumn, a time of many changes.

I moved to Texas in August of 1989. I was curious to see what fall would be like in the coastal area of Houston.  Would the humidity drop?  Yeah, right.  Using “weatherunderground.com” I took a look back at today, October 3, 1989 and the humidity was a lovely 68%.  Not the usual 100%.  Change.  One thing I didn’t really notice much of a change in Houston, but when I moved North, to Dallas, was the leaves do change, but much later in the season than the Midwest, however there is change.

These are the only places I have lived, so I can’t give my personal experience on what meteorological changes take place in the rest of the U.S. or the world, I would love to know, so please share in the comments.  My point being,  changes take place in the Autumn season all over the country, in some areas earlier in the season and some places later.  As Ecclesiastes 3:1 instructs us,” There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens”

Besides the changes of fall, we are all going to go through seasons of change in our lives at different times and in different places. And it doesn’t matter what season of life you are in, new parent, empty nester, college senior, newly wed, recently widowed, new job, lost job,a season of waiting, whatever your season is, changing seasons require a constant savior.

Let me repeat that last statement, changing seasons require a constant savior.  Jesus is our constant everyday all day, friend.  We can count on his timing, discernment, love, and grace.  “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8)

You can count on it, change is going to happen.  You can choose to fight it alone, or accept to face it with Jesus.  For me, walking through the changes of my life with my savior have gone way smoother than the times I have tried to go it alone.  Notice I didn’t say it was a breeze.  Change is difficult, however it is through the digging deep with God, in scripture and prayer, and being honest with ourselves that we learn and come out of the changes new and improved.

Changing seasons require a constant savior.  Remember, Jesus is the constant, in His time, in His place. We need to do our part and remain constant with Him.  Having a constant savior means that WE remain constant with our Heavenly Father.  WE pray continually (1 Thessalonians 5:16), WE read His Word daily, and be still. God wants us to be active participants in the process of working through the changes we face.  When we seek Him he will come along side of us and lead us to the answers we are searching.  “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” (Isaiah 43:19)  

We need our Jesus daily, for all the seasons of our lives.

Heavenly Father,

Thank you for the changes in our lives.  I pray today that we will come to you, the constant savior in our lives, Lord, as we face the difficult challenges change brings. Father I pray that through your word and our honesty with ourselves we will accept your Will for us. And we know through your word that every good and perfect gift comes from you in your timing, not ours. Father I pray for those friends today who are in the midst of change that you will meet them where they are and fill them with peace and understanding that their questions will be answered when they stay constant with you. In your precious son’s name I pray, Amen.