Selling Death To 4 Year Old Girls

It seems to be increasingly difficult to raise God honoring children in a culture that celebrates dishonoring the things of God. Halloween is a particularly frustrating time for me as a parent because every store I take my children in is filled with scary and creepy things.

I recently took my 7-year-old son and 4-year-old twin girls to get a happy meal at McDonalds. As you probably remember yourself this is quite a highlight for small children. Any time I ask my children where they want to get something to eat it is always McDonalds. It is not because of the salty fries, crusty cheeseburger or overly processed nuggets. It is always because they know they will get a toy. McDonalds is a genius at marketing to children. They usually put a toy in the box that is really popular in the culture. This particular trip my little girls got a toy from “Monster High.” I have never seen the show and I do not really plan on it, but the toy is a box filled with activities that feature teenage vampires and monster girls who are dressed like prostitutes. The activities on the inside are two sticker books filled with stickers of crossbones, skulls, vampire teeth, and hearts with teeth in them. Also in the activity box are pictures that teach you how to draw a skull with a bow on it.

The dictionary defines a vampire as “a preternatural being, commonly believed to be a reanimated corpse, that is said to suck the blood of sleeping persons at night.”

For our children the line of what is good and evil is becoming more elusive. Vampires are no longer evil. They now sparkle, fall in love with humans, and only suck the blood of deer…unless they get real hungry, then humans watch out.

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I took the toys from my girls and threw them in the trash. I was not cold hearted and I told them I would replace them with a more appropriate toys. I tried to use this moment as a teaching moment. I told my son and my girls that as followers of Jesus we do not celebrate death. I tell them that Jesus came and died the death we deserved so that we might have eternal life. (John 10:10)

Death is not our friend.
Sin brought death into the world.
We will not and cannot celebrate what sin brings.
We cannot celebrate that which separates us from our loved ones.
Death brings depression and despair.
We celebrate joy, hope and life.

I think there has been a not so subtle shift to an acceptance of satanic things and most parents have not even noticed. Horror movies, teen vampire romance novels, and a host of other things that focus on the occult, demons, monsters, evil spirits and witchcraft have been infused into the lives of our children. Is it any wonder that so many young people are taking their lives.

Children and teenagers are naturally drawn to spiritual things. Even if children are not brought up in church or have no religious affiliation they will seek out that which is spiritual, be it good or evil. There is an unseen battle going on for the hearts of my children and for the hearts of your children (if you have them).

With Halloween on its way if you are a Christian parent you should pause and think about how you want to direct your children to think about the Holiday.

In our culture Halloween is largely a celebration of fear and death. If you do not believe me then go to your local Wal-Mart or CVS and count the number of skeleton, witch, and zombie paraphernalia available. As a kid Halloween was one of my favorite Holidays. Cool weather, candy, and dressing up are fun for any kid.

Here are some ways I am going to enjoy October 31st with my family without embracing the culture of death.

1) Have Fun – Not every day do you have a chance to dress up with your kids and walk around and get free candy. I am going to take tons of pictures of my kids and let them be princesses, a flower and a super hero…heck I might even dress up myself.

2) Change the Focus – We celebrate Fall. We celebrate the cool weather. We celebrate dressing up as our favorite characters. We celebrate candy. We celebrate Reformation Day (October 31 is the day the Martin Luther nailed his 95 Thesis to the door of the church at Wittenberg. If you don’t know what that means then you should really Google “Martin Luther Reformer”…it’s kind of important)

3) Dress Up – Every child likes to dress up for Halloween. It is one of the highlights of their year. I can remember being a kid and all of the thrill and excitement that came with finding the perfect costume. I only allow my children to dress as something positive and not scary or evil.

4) Teach Your Children why you do not celebrate scary things at Halloween.

5) Use Halloween to the Glory of God – be kind to your neighbors. Do not hide in your basement or turn all the lights out in your home. This is the one time a year you actually have people coming to your home. Buy the best candy on the street. Be the house every kid wants to go to because you give out full candy bars. Have a block party in your yard. My Brother-in-law looks forward to Halloween every year. He gets to know his neighbors and grills hotdogs for everyone that comes by. He told me he gave out something like 200 hot dogs last year and all of the neighbors were so appreciative.

6) Love the Zombies – I have to be real honest, it bothers me when I see a cute 5 year old dressed as a zombie and he is holding a pretend severed head in his hand. I want to slap his parents for allowing him to dress like that. But I am not his parent so my job is just to love him and make sure I give him some good candy. He may come to my church one Sunday.

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Ebola May Be The Catalyst You Need

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Ebola! The word alone can strike terror into every person in the world. I mean, seriously, a deadly virus with a 70% mortality rate. That means that if you get it you have a 70% chance of dying…not cool. Right now the word on the Internet is that it’s not super easy to catch. You must come in contact with some form of body fluid in order to acquire this lethal disease. However, viruses are known to mutate and it could possibly change and become a virus that is more easily transmitted through the air (heaven forbid).

The question that we must think about is the same question we must always think about when news comes our way.

What should I do because of this?
What should I do because of Ebola?

How should I live my life now that this virus is on American soil and could potentially have an outbreak all over the country?

Don’t Panic!

Panic never helps anyone. Panic is an emotional reaction that keeps us from clearly thinking. Now is not the time to stop going to work, to buy years worth of canned goods, or go into your bunker. Fear is the most crippling emotion that robs your joy and paralyses you with inaction. Wash your hands, carry some hand sanitizer with you and stay away from places that may have Ebola (Unless you work in the healthcare industry…Praise God for you and your willingness to help people heal).

Ask The Big Question: Am I ready to die?

This is THE question.

One year ago before there was an outbreak of Ebola you were guaranteed that one day you would die. Today you have the same guarantee.

A deadly disease only makes what is imminent become more plausible.

We know we will die but we all believe it is in the distant future. Fear of a deadly virus articulates that our death could be soon. It might not be…but it could be. So now would be a good time to ask the “what happens when I die” question.

Is there a God?
If so who is it?
How do I know?
Will I just cease to exist or will there be a life after this in which my soul will continue?

Everyone has to answer these questions and if there is an afterlife your eternity hinges on how you answer them. I believe I have found the answer in History.   History shows us that something happened in Jerusalem about 2000 years ago that has completely altered the course of world events. It also seems quite obvious from history that mankind is sinful and wicked to the core.

If there were a God or a Divine Being the very fact that He is God would make Him perfect.

The Bible is a spiritual history book of the Jewish people in the first half (Old Testament) and a history of God stepping into the world to save the world in the second half (New Testament). It says that because the first man and woman disobeyed God, God punished their rebellion with death. Death and sin spread to all mankind. Death is THE ultimate deadly virus.

The Bible reveals God’s character as good, loving, just, and compassionate. He did not leave man to himself but chose to give man a chance at redemption.   God would empty Himself of His divine characteristics and become a man.

This man was known as Jesus Christ.
He lived 2000 years ago.
He did miracles, never sinned, and taught like no one else to confirm He was in fact God.
He was born in a very small town.
Thousands would come from all around to hear his teachings and see His miracles.
He made the most audacious claims of any man. He claimed to be God’s Son.
The claims of Jesus would make Him either a liar, a crazy man, or the actual Savior of the world.
He gave up His life in death at the hands of cruel and sinful men in order to pay the debt that man owed God.

In order to further prove He was God, He rose from death in resurrection and was seen by hundreds of people who attested to this fact. These “Christians” gave their lives for the belief that the Resurrection of Jesus did in fact take place.   Salvation, a relationship with God, and eternal life are offered to all men who put their faith in Jesus Christ.

While Ebola can surely cause death, Jesus brings life. He gives new and abundant life to those who will follow Him. He gives eternal life and a new body (after death) to those who will put their faith and trust in Him.

While all this may sound very fanciful the question every fearful person must ask is “could it be true?”

I have been a follower of Jesus Christ for around half of my life. I have found that what the Bible teaches is not only comforting when facing the prospect of impending death and zombie apocalypse, but it is incredibly practical in helping with all areas of day to day living.

I am a better worker, husband, father, and friend because I seek to follow what Jesus taught in all areas of life.

Following Jesus has simplified my life and taken away much of the fear and sting that comes with facing death. My life is filled with purpose and meaning. My goal in life is so simple. I try to honor and Glorify Jesus in all I do.

I no longer ask questions like, “If God is good then why would He allow a terrible virus like Ebola to kill so many.”

God has made Himself clear through the Bible. God is GOOD!   God has made a way for all to have eternal life through the Death and Resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ. He has allowed sin and evil to affect the world for a time but He will soon come again and judge the world and at that time He will end evil once and for all.

This is the hope of Glory.

Maybe you are not a religious person and have never really bought into the “Christian” thing. I implore to find a Bible and read the book of John.

Ask yourself if the words of Jesus are like the words of any other person who has ever lived?

Read the words that He spoke and see if they do not awaken something in your soul you did not know was there.

I have found every promise that Lord gives in His word to be true. I have experienced the peace of God in my life and I have witnessed the hand of God through my life.

All good things that I have are from above.

It is my hope that a fear of Ebola would send you to search for hope and purpose. If you are truly searching for those things they will take you on a collision course with Jesus.

Would William Wallace Drive A Minivan?

Just last week I was challenged to think of what it meant to be courageous.   The word courage evokes all kinds of emotion within a man.   When you say the word courage my mind begins to be flooded with images of Braveheart (William Wallace), The Gladiator, David fighting Goliath, or John Wayne saddling up to take on the bad guys.  There is a harsh reality that most men will never wield a sword and take on an enemy.   We will never fight in an arena with only our will to live keeping us from sure death.  We will never face a giant on the battlefield or even ride a horse for that matter.

Most of us are superheroes in our mind.

Most men, at some point in time in their life, dream up a thousand scenarios of the bad guy coming to hurt us or our family and we think of 27 ways were would disarm them and render them incapacitated.  With each news story about a mass shooting we play through our mind how we would have stopped it if we were there.  We think of ourselves as a combination of Jack Bauer with more of an Arnold (late 80’s Arnold) look.  We are the heroes of the day.   Then our daydream ends and we are back in our offices with our belly hanging over our belts or riding our zero point turn lawn mowers.  Reality hits that we have never been nor will most of us ever be the heroes in our minds.

Real courage is different than what we make up in our minds.

God made men with a desire to be courageous.  Men seem to be hard wired to want to kill something and drag it home.   From early on in the womb testosterone would singe the connections between the hemispheres of our brains.  This would allow us the gift and sometimes curse of being able to process a situation and take emotion out of the equation.   How can we use this desire within us to be courageous in the American suburban context?  What does courage look like for an American male today?

Courage is doing what is right even when it is not easy.  John Wayne would say, “Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway.”

Courage is showing up.

It seems the most glaring absence in American culture today is the father.  In some neighborhoods you would have more luck searching for Elvis then you would finding a father who is fulfilling his duty.  Men have become little more than sperm donors.   One of the most courageous acts of a man is simply taking responsibility for himself and for his family and not leaving because life gets difficult.  So many young men have grown up in the video game culture and when things become difficult they can just start over.  When a child is conceived you are not allowed a “do over.”  A courageous man leans in, not out when life becomes more difficult.  One word that best describes a man is the word responsible.  Men do not run from responsibility, they run to it.   Courage means each day your get up and show up to work and do your best.  Courage means you go to your children’s recitals and ball games.  Courage means you get up and get ready for church each Sunday, even during hunting season.  Courage means you work hard and bring home a paycheck no matter how small it may be.  Our families become infinitely stronger when they know that daddy is not going anywhere.

Courage is unloading the dishwasher.

The man of yesteryear would go to work and come home to “June Clever” who would have dinner ready for him.  Dad would relax after his hard day at work.   June died!  She is gone!  In most homes women work just has hard as their husbands.  When a man gets off work he clocks in at home.  It is not time for him to prop his feet up, it is time for him to serve his family.   There is no work at home that is beneath the leader of the home.  It takes a courageous man to change diapers, fix dinner, help the kids with their homework, unload the dishwasher, pay bills, fold clothes, and have a good attitude while doing it.

Courage is leading your family in fractured world.

Children need their father to be their rock.   A father that leads the way God intended provides a safety to the home.   He teaches his children what is right and what is wrong.  He models service in the home.  He points his children each night to the light of the world.  He tells his children about Jesus.  He models his faith in his interactions with his neighbors and with those who do not like him.  A courageous man speaks words of encouragement to his wife each day, he listens to her, he lets her cry on his shoulder, and he makes sure he holds her hand often.

You may never lead an army into battle like William Wallace but when you live each day with the courage to be the man God has called you to be you will be the hero of your home!

Maybe if William Wallace were alive today he would proudly drive a minivan with stickers of his children on the back.

 

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