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User Archives: Family Christian

  • 2012 Grammy Nominations

    Posted on December 6, 2012 by Family Christian

    It's that time of year again - Grammytime.

    Best Gospel/Contemporary Christian Music Performance
    Jesus, Friend Of Sinners
    Casting Crowns
    Track from: Come To The Well
    [Beach Street/Reunion Records]
    Take Me To The King
    Tamela Mann
    [Tillymann Music Group]
    Go Get It
    Mary Mary
    [Columbia Records]
    10,000 Reasons (Bless The Lord)
    Matt Redman
    Track from: 10,000 Reasons
    [sixstepsrecords/Sparrow Records]
    My Testimony
    Marvin Sapp
    Track from: I Win
    [Verity Gospel Music Group]

     

    Best Gospel Song
    Go Get It
    Erica Campbell, Tina Campbell & Warryn Campbell, songwriters (Mary Mary)
    [Columbia; Publishers: EMI April Music, It's Tea Tyme, That's Plum Song, Wet Ink Red Music]
    Hold On
    Cheryl Fortune, James Fortune & Terence Vaughn, songwriters (James Fortune &

    FIYA, Monica & Fred Hammond)
    Track from: Identity
    [Light Records/eOne Music]
    I Feel Good
    Phillip Feaster, Fred Hammond, Jonathan Miller & Calvin Rodgers, songwriters
    (Fred Hammond)
    Track from: God, Love & Romance
    [Verity Gospel Music Group; Publishers: fHammond Music/Bridge Bldg Music/CJMS Music/Music Feast Productions/Jonathan Miller Publishing]
    My Testimony
    Aaron Lindsey & Marvin Sapp, songwriters (Marvin Sapp)
    Track from: I Win
    [Verity Gospel Music Group; Publishers: Universal Music-Brentwood Benson Songs/Marvin L. Sapp Music/Ardent Media]
    Released
    Donald Lawrence, songwriter (Bill Winston & Living Word Featuring Donald

    Lawrence)
    [Source Media; Publisher: Quiet Water Ent.]

     

    Best Contemporary Christian Music Song
    Jesus, Friend Of Sinners
    Mark Hall & Matthew West, songwriters (Casting Crowns)
    Track from: Come To The Well
    [Beach Street/Reunion Records]
    10,000 Reasons (Bless The Lord)
    Jonas Myrin & Matt Redman, songwriters (Matt Redman)
    Track from: 10,000 Reasons
    [sixstepsrecords/Sparrow Records; Publishers: Thankyou Music/sixsteps Music/worshiptogether.com Songs/Said And Done Music/Shout! Publishing]
    When Mercy Found Me
    Jeff Pardo & Rhett Walker, songwriters (Rhett Walker Band)
    Track from: Come To The River
    [Essential Records; Publishers: Sony ATV Music, Ships In A Bottle/Simple Tense Songs]
    White Flag
    Jason Ingram, Matt Maher, Matt Redman & Chris Tomlin, songwriters (Passion &
    Chris Tomlin)
    Track from: White Flag
    [sixstepsrecords/Sparrow Records; Publishers: sixsteps Music/worshiptogether.com Songs/Vamos Publishing/Said And Done Music/Valley of the Songs Music/Sony ATV Timber Publishing/West Main Music/Windsor Hill Music/Thankyou Music]
    Your Presence Is Heaven
    Israel Houghton & Micah Massey, songwriters (Israel & New Breed)
    Track from: Jesus At The Center Live
    [Integrity Music; Publishers: Integrity's Praise! Music/Sound of the New Breed, Regenerate Music]

     

    Best Gospel Album
    Identity
    James Fortune & FIYA
    [Light Records/eOne Music]
    Jesus At The Center Live
    Israel & New Breed
    [Integrity Music]
    Gravity
    Lecrae
    [Reach Records]
    I Win
    Marvin Sapp
    [Verity Gospel Music Group]
    Worship Soul
    Anita Wilson
    [EMI Gospel]

     

    Best Contemporary Christian Music Album
    Come To The Well
    Casting Crowns
    [Beach Street/Reunion Records]
    Where I Find You
    Kari Jobe
    [Sparrow Records]
    Gold
    Britt Nicole
    [Sparrow Records]
    Eye On It
    TobyMac
    [ForeFront Records]
    Into The Light
    Matthew West
    [Sparrow Records]

    This post was posted in Music and was tagged with Marvin Sapp, TobyMac, Lecrae, Chris Tomlin, Britt Nicole, Matthew West, Kari Jobe, Matt Redman, Casting Crowns, Grammy, Tamela Mann, Mary Mary, Fred Hammond, Donald Lawrence, Rhett Walker Band, Israel Houghton, James Fortune, Anita Wilson

  • Casting Crowns - The Acoustic Sessions

    Posted on December 4, 2012 by Family Christian

    Ever committed to the simple but profound story of truth, Casting Crowns has impacted millions with powerful songs like "East To West", "Who Am I", and "If We Are The Body". Now fans can experience these favorites and more on the new acoustic project The Acoustic Sessions: Volume 1. In times of difficulty and in moments of praise, these songs have provided the words so many hearts long to communicate. Including two BRAND NEW songs, Acoustic Sessions: Volume 1, is a must have for any Casting Crowns fan.

     

    Here is Praise You in the Storm - listen now.

     

    Prebuy their new album today. Click here for details.


    This post was posted in Music and was tagged with Casting Crowns

  • A Q&A With Chris Tomlin

    Posted on December 4, 2012 by Family Christian



    Family Christian: Chris, congratulations on your new album. What can people expect to hear on Burning Lights?

    Chris Tomlin: Hopefully, they will find songs that are more than just the latest flavor—but they will hear the heart, the passion, the fire, the joy, the majesty, the surrender, the truth, and the triumph in every listen.

    FC: The first single from the album draws from II Kings 6. Tell us a little about the connection between that story and the song, “Whom Shall I Fear (God of Angel Armies).”

    Chris: My friend Matt Redman says it best, "Worship is about seeing. We sing in response to what we see.”

    In II Kings 6, there is an enemy army surrounding the town of the prophet Elisha. Elisha proclaims to his servant, "Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them." He then prays for the eyes of his servant to be opened to truly see what is going on around them. The Lord opens the eyes of the servant and he sees the mountains filled with horses and chariots of fire (angel armies)! Truth is, we live in the same reality. There are enemy armies constantly at our doorstep, and many times, we live in a state of fear. I hope and pray this song can build faith in people to know the truth that "those who are with us are far more than those who are against us."

     

    FC: On that song, the lyrics, “The One who reigns forever, He is a friend of mine,” feel very personal. What inspired this line?

    Chris: I love this line. What a concept and truth to grasp. The creator of the heavens, the maker of every living thing, the One who sits on the throne of an everlasting kingdom calls us "friend."  Every time I sing this line, I can barely contain the thought of it.

    FC: What else would you like listeners to know about this album as they worship the Lord with these songs?

    Chris: In the end, it’s about the heart of the song. Does the song move people or not? "I'm just a shepherd boy, singing to a choir of burning lights.” And I’m asking everyone to sing along.

    FC: As you contemplate a new year, is there a passage from Scripture that the Lord has been speaking to you about lately?

    Chris: I would easily say the passage from II Kings 6 I referenced earlier. My prayer for my own life: "God open my eyes to see the true reality...give me a fearless heart."

    FC: In your travels around the world leading worship, can you recall a particular story that has really impacted your life or ministry?

    Chris: The ministries of Compassion International and Watoto have truly blown me away. So many people are doing amazing work for the kingdom of God. Sitting in the shanty of a little boy named Julius in Uganda—it was just him and his grandmother, everyone else in his family had died (mostly of HIV). He had the disease as well. Through Compassion, he was receiving the medicine to keep the deadly disease away. He was five years old and so full of life and hope. And to know he was just one of the countless that this ministry and others like it are touching.

    I have been humbled every time we have traveled around to these other nations and experienced the passionate worship of Jesus.

    FC: After the Passion Conference and release of Burning Lights, what’s next for you? Can you give us a glimpse of upcoming projects?

    Chris: I’m so looking forward to our spring 2013 BURNING LIGHTS tour. It’s going to be the best yet.  Louie Giglio and Kari Jobe are joining me and I have such huge expectations for these nights.

     

    Burning Lights


    This post was posted in Music, Interviews and was tagged with 2 Kings, Chris Tomlin, Kari Jobe, Matt Redman, Louie Giglio, Compassion International

  • Walk in Contentment

    Posted on November 30, 2012 by Family Christian

    "But as God has distributed to each one, as the Lord has called each one, so let him walk. And so I ordain in all the churches." 1 Corinthians 7:17 NJKV

     

    A walk in contentment learns how to stroll with its Savior Jesus. There is not a panicked rush to make things happen or to give up on God. Rather there is a quiet resolve that Christ can be trusted and there is no need to go anywhere else for assurance. Contentment wards off fear and replaces it with faith. It patiently waits out any unwanted influences.

    Moreover, contentment is not a call to abandon godly ambition. On the contrary, you are steadfast to persevere in your career or your current leadership role until the Lord transitions you in His timing. You walk by faith—focused. This protects you from running around in aimless activity. You can be satisfied where God has called you and still anticipate where He wants to take you. Contentment rests in doing the next right thing. 

    "For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you." Romans 12:3

    Your contented walk moves forward by faith not backward, second guessing God. You ask, why hasn't the Lord blessed me like some of the people I know? Wisdom avoids comparing children, homes, and wardrobes to a friend's. Their lifestyle may be temporary because it is artificially inflated by debt. Or, it may be legitimately the Lord's favor, but a contented walk doesn’t covet another's stuff or seek to impress others with its possessions.

    Yes, contentment comes with a growing relationship with Christ. As you continue on your contented walk with Jesus, you experience the joy and power of His presence. He is all you need—to be what you need to be. He slows you down to steady your relationships. He speeds you up to seize the moment for His purposes. Be content with the capacity God has given you to serve Him. Your contented soul receives grace to make you whole.

    “But godliness with contentment is great gain.” 1 Timothy 6:6

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, may I walk in contentment and move forward by faith.

    Related Readings: Ecclesiastes 4:8; Song of Songs 8:10; Luke 3:14; Hebrews 13:5

    Post/Tweet this today: Contentment rests in doing the next right thing. #content

    © 2012 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry

    info@mail.wisdomhuntersdevotional.com / www.wisdomhunters.com


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Wisdom Hunters and was tagged with 1 Corinthians, Romans, Contentment

  • We're Committing 100% of Profits to Faith-Based Charities

    Posted on November 29, 2012 by Family Christian

    Family Christian Management Team Partners with Christian Businessmen to Acquire National Retailer

    New Ownership Commits 100% of Profits to Faith-Based Charities.

    Family Christian, the nation's largest Christian retail chain with 280 stores in 36 states, announced today that its management team has partnered with a group of Atlanta-based Christian businessmen to acquire the company from its private equity owners. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

    Under the new ownership, Family Christian's pledge is to contribute 100% of its profits to Christian causes and, specifically, ministries serving widows and orphans both in the U.S. and abroad. Family Christian has always been committed to providing resources for the Christian community, but the new ownership structure will allow the organization to not only equip Christians in their daily walk, but to increase the organization's impact by providing substantial financial support to faith-based causes.

    "The management team and our investors are buying Family Christian because of our shared belief that the Company is uniquely positioned to be both a best-in-class Christian retailer and a significant source of financial support to help those in need,” said Cliff Bartow, President and CEO of Family Christian."While we have long been committed to giving to Christian causes, we felt called to multiply our impact. We have been on a journey for several years to find potential like-minded Christian owners who share our passion and calling, and believe it's the providence and sovereignty of God that we met and now partner with our new co-owners.”

    The investment group is comprised of three Atlanta-based Christian businessmen, each of whom give substantially of their time, talent and treasure to Christian ministries, including several focused on orphan, foster care and adoption causes. Richard L. Jackson is the founder and CEO of Jackson Healthcare, the nation's third largest healthcare staffing company, and is deeply committed to bringing hope and opportunity into the lives of undeserved children. Jackson serves in a number of ways including as the Chairman of FaithBridge Foster Care. Larry Powell is the president of Powell Family Enterprises, LLC, a private equity investment company and is actively involved in a number of ministries, including serving as Chairman of the Board of Generous Giving. Michael Kendrick has used his success in investment banking as a catalyst for founding, developing, and funding organizations dedicated to Christian service, including Blueprint for Life and Ministry Ventures, a non-profit organization dedicated to launching new ministries.

    "Each of these men have been blessed with professional success and share a mutual calling to give back to help those in need. This alignment of business acumen and Christian calling led them to the collective decision to join with us to acquire Family Christian and move it from an organization that contributes 10% of its profits, to one that contributes 100% of its profits to faith-based charities and ministries,” said Bartow."It is the hope of all involved that this transition can be a model of Christian business and ministry excellence that can be replicated by other organizations that wish to use their business resources to maximize Kingdom impact.”

    Family Christian reported that while its ownership structure and financial purpose has changed, there will be no impact on its core operations, stores or staff. The company has ambitious plans to grow its revenue and increase financial support for faith-based ministries around the world. This includes maintaining store update efforts and looking at new product assortments and resources to better meet the lifestyle needs of customers. Family Christian will continue to carry a wide assortment of Christian products ranging from Bibles, gifts and home décor to books, children's and family resources.

    "We are excited about what this ownership change means for our customers, staff and vendor partners who join us in the ongoing Christian pursuit of putting faith into action,” said Bartow."In many ways, we are returning to our roots as a Christian family-owned business focused on making a significant impact in helping those in need. Since our founding in 1932, we have established a relationship of trust and safety with our customers, while enjoying a reputation for providing great service and quality products. We intend to continue to uphold the high level of retail excellence, while applying the full operational and financial resources of the Company for the benefit of widows, orphans and foster children and Christian charities – all for God's glory.”

    William Blair & Company, LLC acted as exclusive financial advisor to the investors.


    This post was posted in Missions and was tagged with Featured, The James Fund, Orphans, Widows

  • Audio Adrenaline - Kevin in the Studio #2

    Posted on November 1, 2012 by Family Christian

    Audio Adrenaline has a new album releasing in March of next year.


    This post was posted in Music and was tagged with Kevin Max, Audio Adrenaline

  • A Busy Year - a Q&A with Francesca Battistelli

    Posted on October 30, 2012 by Family Christian

    A new baby (Audrey Jane), a gold album (My Paper Heart), a Dove Award (Artist of the Year) and a Christmas album: it's been a busy year for Francesca Battistelli!

    She recently took a few minutes to chat with us about the memories and moments that make Christmas the most wonderful time of the year.

    Family Christian: Tell us about one of your favorite Christmas memories.

    Francesca Battistelli: My mom set up a nativity scene every year at Christmas. She would hide the baby Jesus in an old Grandfather clock, and it was always my job to place him in the crèche on Christmas Eve. Such a fun and memorable tradition!

    FC: Are there any other Christmas traditions you love?

    FRANCESCA: Being with family, talking about Jesus, eating delicious food and sleeping under the Christmas tree!  

    FC: Music is such an important part of the season. So what Christmas songs or carols hold special meaning for you?


    FRANCESCA: I've always loved "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" and my favorite non-traditional Christmas song is "Breath of Heaven."

    FC: You have two little ones now. How have your children changed how you experience Christmas?

    FRANCESCA: I think this year will be the best yet, since our son is 2 now and really understands what a gift is. It's incredible to see this time of year through a child's eyes.

    FC: So what are you looking forward to celebrating this year with Eli and Audrey?
    FRANCESCA: We're going on tour with NewSong, and so there will be much Christmas cheer to be had with their "Poppa" (Billy from NewSong)!

    FC: 2013 isn't too far away. What does the new year hold for you?

    FRANCESCA: Watching my little ones grow, touring in the spring and starting to work on my third album!


    This post was posted in Music, Interviews and was tagged with Francesca Battistelli, Christmas, NewSong

  • Video Number 2 from Audio Adrenaline

    Posted on October 26, 2012 by Family Christian

    Audio Adrenaline - Prologue II: Return of the Singer

    For the previous episode from AA, click here.


    This post was posted in Music and was tagged with Kevin Max, Newsboys, Audio Adrenaline, Michael Tait

  • You Were Designed For More...

    Posted on October 22, 2012 by Family Christian

    The following is an excerpt taken from Surfing For God by Michael Cusick.

    Have you ever wondered what makes a certain act sinful and another not sinful? Why is it wrong to lie? Or kill? Or commit adultery? Who says viewing porn is wrong when our culture tries to reassure us that it’s natural and normal—in fact, based on popular consumption and the ten-billion-dollar industry it generates, you’re abnormal if you don’t view porn!

    One way of thinking about why something is sinful is to respond, “It says in the Bible that it’s wrong.” While true, God put dos and don’ts into the Bible because they reveal something much deeper about us. When God tells us not to commit adultery, He is telling us that doing this goes against our design. “Do not commit adultery” is God’s version of “Do not brush your teeth with a toaster” or “Do not grill steaks on a block of ice.” It just can’t accomplish what it was designed to do. Like sailing the seven seas in a Chevy pickup—it doesn’t get the job done, and you put yourself at great risk.

    Or consider porn this way. Wouldn’t it be rather odd if a trained fighter pilot never left the hangar for fear of not knowing how to fly the jet? Or consider a gifted sculptor who never picked up his hammer and chisel because he couldn’t find the perfect block of marble.

    What if a major-league baseball player didn’t show up for practice because he spent all his time playing baseball on his Xbox? Or a master shipbuilder never sailed the open waters because his fantasy of the perfect seaworthy vessel kept him on dry ground?

    This is what porn is like. It allures us with the image or fantasy of being with a woman, while preventing us from being able to actually engage with a real woman. Porn keeps us from flying the jet, getting in the game, or sailing the high seas. All because we settle for something that doesn’t exist and will never satisfy us.

    So how does porn go against our design as men and sabotage God’s dream for us to live out our true identities? C. S. Lewis spoke to the heart of this question when he wrote about the soul damage caused by sexual fantasy (whether through masturbation or pornography) and what he called “imaginary women.” Lewis described these imaginary women this way: “Always accessible, always subservient, calls for no sacrifices or adjustments, and can be endowed with erotic and psychological attractions which no real woman can rival. Among those shadow brides he is always adored, always the perfect lover; no demand is made on his unselfishness, no mortification ever imposed on his vanity.”

    Lewis began with the assumption that sex is good, not bad—a gift to be enjoyed within God-designed boundaries. He also framed his words against the backdrop that “the main work of life is to come up and out of ourselves.” Lewis assumed that God designed us to mature and become less focused on ourselves and more focused on loving others. When we fixate on porn, we choose to remain selfishly anchored to our own pleasure above all else. When we preoccupy ourselves with meeting our own needs and ignoring the needs of others—in this case, our wives, flesh-and-blood women, and not some Photoshopped model—then we stifle our spiritual growth. Lewis summed up the problem with pornography this way: “In the end, [imaginary women] become the medium through which he increasingly adores himself. After all, the main work of life is to come out of ourselves, out of the little, dark prison we are all born in. . . . All things are to be avoided which retard this process. The danger is that of coming to love the prison.”

    Lewis calls us to remember what a man is made for: our deepest longing is to know God in the center of our being, and out of that place to offer ourselves for the sake of others. Augustine taught about the theological idea of incurvatus se—a life turned in on itself. Porn successfully accomplishes this—it causes our soul to turn in on itself in self-absorbed isolation and shame. It diminishes our souls. It seduces a man to use women to meet a need in himself—without meeting any of her needs. And this act of “using” comes not only at her expense but also at the devastating cost of his own heart. We don’t realize the price we pay until we feel empty and bankrupt inside.

    You were created for something bigger than yourself.

    You were created for excurvatus se—a life lived outward. Not outward as in codependent or being a martyr. Not dying to self in a way where legitimate needs are neglected. But a life that flows from a deep source. A life that bears fruit. A life lived outwardly enhances, builds up, and causes the heart to flourish. Donald Miller has suggested that we are trees in the story of a forest. And that story of the forest is better than the story of the trees.5 Pornography perverts and upends this idea with titillating images that invite us to live as if the story of the trees were the only story, and the story of the forest doesn’t exist.

    The purpose of this book is to go beyond the common “Just don’t do it” strategy of sin management. Together, we will explore the truth of how you were meant to live and how you can get there so you can enjoy a new and better life in the forest. I invite you to stop looking at pictures of F-18s in combat and ships on the high seas, or playing baseball on your Xbox instead of eating the dust of a real baseball diamond. We’ll do much more than that. You’ll discover the thrill of getting into the game, flying the F-18, and sailing the ship so that pornography and lust lose their grip on your soul.

    Please read closely: the deepest truth about you is that you are the F-18 pilot, created for combat. God designed you to be a hero— to focus your strength and courage on behalf of something and someone bigger than yourself. You are the major-league ballplayer, created with the offensive and defensive abilities to get in the game with a team of others on a common mission. God uniquely fashioned you to win games. To hit home runs. To steal bases. God chose you to play on His team.

    Adapted from Surfing for God: Discovering the Divine Desire Beneath Sexual Struggle by Michael Cusick. Copyright ©2012. Used by permission of Thomas Nelson, Inc.

    This post was posted in Books and was tagged with Marriage, C.S. Lewis, Michael Cusick, Pornography, Donald Miller

  • Christians and Halloween

    Posted on October 18, 2012 by Family Christian

    The following post is from a Grace To You blog post. It was written by Travis Allen. Grace to you is a ministry of John MacArthur. John is the pastor-teacher of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California, as well as an author, conference speaker, president of The Master’s College and Seminary, and featured teacher with the Grace to You media ministry.

    Halloween. It's a time of year when the air gets crisper, the days get shorter, and for many young Americans the excitement grows in anticipation of the darkest, spookiest holiday of the year. Retailers also rejoice as they warm up their cash registers to receive an average of $41.77 per household in decorations, costumes, candy, and greeting cards. Halloween will bring in approximately $3.3 billion this year.

    It's a good bet retailers won't entertain high expectations of getting $41.77 per household from the Christian market. Many Christians refuse to participate in Halloween. Some are wary of its pagan origins; others of its dark, ghoulish imagery; still others are concerned for the safety of their children. But other Christians choose to partake of the festivities, whether participating in school activities, neighborhood trick-or-treating, or a Halloween alternative at their church.

    The question is, How should Christians respond to Halloween? Is it irresponsible for parents to let their children trick-or-treat? What about Christians who refuse any kind of celebration during the season--are they overreacting?

    The Pagan Origin of Halloween
    The name "Halloween" comes from the All Saints Day celebration of the early Christian church, a day set aside for the solemn remembrance of the martyrs. All Hallows Eve, the evening before All Saints Day, began the time of remembrance. "All Hallows Eve" was eventually contracted to "Hallow-e'en," which became "Halloween."

    As Christianity moved through Europe it collided with indigenous pagan cultures and confronted established customs. Pagan holidays and festivals were so entrenched that new converts found them to be a stumbling block to their faith. To deal with the problem, the organized church would commonly move a distinctively Christian holiday to a spot on the calendar that would directly challenge a pagan holiday. The intent was to counter pagan influences and provide a Christian alternative. But most often the church only succeeded in "Christianizing" a pagan ritual--the ritual was still pagan, but mixed with Christian symbolism. That's what happened to All Saints Eve--it was the original Halloween alternative!

    The Celtic people of Europe and Britain were pagan Druids whose major celebrations were marked by the seasons. At the end of the year in northern Europe, people made preparations to ensure winter survival by harvesting the crops and culling the herds, slaughtering animals that wouldn't make it. Life slowed down as winter brought darkness (shortened days and longer nights), fallow ground, and death. The imagery of death, symbolized by skeletons, skulls, and the color black, remains prominent in today's Halloween celebrations.

    The pagan Samhain festival (pronounced "sow" "en") celebrated the final harvest, death, and the onset of winter, for three days--October 31 to November 2. The Celts believed the curtain dividing the living and the dead lifted during Samhain to allow the spirits of the dead to walk among the living--ghosts haunting the earth.

    Some embraced the season of haunting by engaging in occult practices such as divination and communication with the dead. They sought "divine" spirits (demons) and the spirits of their ancestors regarding weather forecasts for the coming year, crop expectations, and even romantic prospects. Bobbing for apples was one practice the pagans used to divine the spiritual world's "blessings" on a couple's romance.

    For others the focus on death, occultism, divination, and the thought of spirits returning to haunt the living, fueled ignorant superstitions and fears. They believed spirits were earthbound until they received a proper sendoff with treats--possessions, wealth, food, and drink. Spirits who were not suitably "treated" would "trick" those who had neglected them. The fear of haunting only multiplied if that spirit had been offended during its natural lifetime.

    Trick-bent spirits were believed to assume grotesque appearances. Some traditions developed, which believed wearing a costume to look like a spirit would fool the wandering spirits. Others believed the spirits could be warded off by carving a grotesque face into a gourd or root vegetable (the Scottish used turnips) and setting a candle inside it--the jack-o-lantern.

    Into that dark, superstitious, pagan world, God mercifully shined the light of the gospel. Newly converted Christians armed themselves with the truth and no longer feared a haunting from departed spirits returning to earth. In fact, they denounced their former pagan spiritism in accord with Deuteronomy 18:

    There shall not be found among you anyone...who uses divination, one who practices witchcraft, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who casts a spell, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For whoever does these things is detestable to the Lord (vv. 10-13).

    Nonetheless, Christian converts found family and cultural influence hard to withstand; they were tempted to rejoin the pagan festivals, especially Samhain. Pope Gregory IV reacted to the pagan challenge by moving the celebration of All Saints Day in the ninth century--he set the date at November 1, right in the middle of Samhain.

    As the centuries passed, Samhain and All Hallows Eve mixed together. On the one hand, pagan superstitions gave way to "Christianized" superstitions and provided more fodder for fear. People began to understand that the pagan ancestral spirits were demons and the diviners were practicing witchcraft and necromancy. On the other hand, the festival time provided greater opportunity for revelry. Trick-or-treat became a time when roving bands of young hooligans would go house-to-house gathering food and drink for their parties. Stingy householders ran the risk of a "trick" being played on their property from drunken young people.

    Halloween didn't become an American holiday until the immigration of the working classes from the British Isles in the late nineteenth century. While early immigrants may have believed the superstitious traditions, it was the mischievous aspects of the holiday that attracted American young people. Younger generations borrowed or adapted many customs without reference to their pagan origins.

    Hollywood has added to the "fun" a wide assortment of fictional characters--demons, monsters, vampires, werewolves, mummies, and psychopaths. That certainly isn't improving the American mind, but it sure is making someone a lot of money.

    The Christian Response to Halloween
    Today Halloween is almost exclusively an American secular holiday, but many who celebrate have no concept of its religious origins or pagan heritage. That's not to say Halloween has become more wholesome. Children dress up in entertaining costumes, wander the neighborhood in search of candy, and tell each other scary ghost stories; but adults often engage in shameful acts of drunkenness and debauchery.

    So, how should Christians respond?

    First, Christians should not respond to Halloween like superstitious pagans. Pagans are superstitious; Christians are enlightened by the truth of God's Word. Evil spirits are no more active and sinister on Halloween than they are on any other day of the year; in fact, any day is a good day for Satan to prowl about seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8). But "greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world" (1 John 4:4). God has forever "disarmed principalities and powers" through the cross Christ and "made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them through [Christ]" (Colossians 2:15).

    Second, Christians should respond to Halloween with cautionary wisdom. Some people fear the activity of Satanists or pagan witches, but the actual incidents of satanic-associated crime are very low. The real threat on Halloween is from the social problems that attend sinful behavior--drunk driving, pranksters and vandals, and unsupervised children.

    Like any other day of the year, Christians should exercise caution as wise stewards of their possessions and protectors of their families. Christian young people should stay away from secular Halloween parties since those are breeding grounds for trouble. Christian parents can protect their children by keeping them well-supervised and restricting treat consumption to those goodies received from trusted sources.

    Third, Christians should respond to Halloween with gospel compassion. The unbelieving, Christ-rejecting world lives in perpetual fear of death. It isn't just the experience of death, but rather what the Bible calls "a certain terrifying expectation of judgment, and the fury of a fire which will consume [God's] adversaries" (Hebrews 10:27). Witches, ghosts, and evil spirits are not terrifying; God's wrath unleashed on the unforgiven sinner--now that is truly terrifying.

    Christians should use Halloween and all that it brings to the imagination--death imagery, superstition, expressions of debauched revelry--as an opportunity to engage the unbelieving world with the gospel of Jesus Christ. God has given everyone a conscience that responds to His truth (Romans 2:14-16), and the conscience is the Christian's ally in the evangelistic enterprise. Christians should take time to inform the consciences of friends and family with biblical truth regarding God, the Bible, sin, Christ, future judgment, and the hope of eternal life in Jesus Christ for the repentant sinner.

    There are several different ways Christians will engage in Halloween evangelism. Some will adopt a "No Participation" policy. As Christian parents, they don't want their kids participating in spiritually compromising activities--listening to ghost stories and coloring pictures of witches. They don't want their kids to dress up in costumes for trick-or-treating or even attending Halloween alternatives.

    That response naturally raises eyebrows and provides a good opportunity to share the gospel to those who ask. It's also important that parents explain their stand to their children and prepare them to face the teasing or ridicule of their peers and the disapproval or scorn of their teachers.

    Other Christians will opt for Halloween alternatives called "Harvest Festivals" or "Reformation Festivals"--the kids dress up as farmers, Bible characters, or Reformation heroes. It's ironic when you consider Halloween's beginning as an alternative, but it can be an effective means of reaching out to neighborhood families with the gospel. Some churches leave the church building behind and take acts of mercy into their community, "treating" needy families with food baskets, gift cards, and the gospel message.

    Those are good alternatives; there are others that are not so good. Some churches are using "Hell House" evangelism to shock young people and scare them into becoming Christians. They walk people through rooms patterned after carnival-style haunted houses and put sin on display--women undergoing abortions, people sacrificed in a satanic ritual, consequences of premarital sex, dangers of rave parties, demon possession, and other tragedies.

    Here's the problem with so-called Hell House evangelism: To shock an unshockable culture, you have to get pretty graphic. Graphic exhibits of sin and its consequences are unnecessary--unbelieving minds are already full of such images. What they need to see is a life truly transformed by the power of God, and what they need to hear is the truth of God in an accurate presentation of the gospel. Cheap gimmickry is unfitting for Christ's ambassadors.

    There's another option open to Christians: limited, non-compromising participation in Halloween. There's nothing inherently evil about candy, costumes, or trick-or-treating in the neighborhood. In fact, all of that can provide a unique gospel opportunity with neighbors. Even handing out candy to neighborhood children--provided you're not stingy--can improve your reputation among the kids. As long as the costumes are innocent and the behavior does not dishonor Christ, trick-or-treating can be used to further gospel interests.

    Ultimately, Christian participation in Halloween is a matter of conscience before God. Whatever level of Halloween participation you choose, you must honor God by keeping yourself separate from the world and by showing mercy to those who are perishing. Halloween provides the Christian with the opportunity to accomplish both of those things in the gospel of Jesus Christ. It's a message that is holy, set apart from the world; it's a message that is the very mercy of a forgiving God. What better time of the year is there to share such a message than Halloween?

    Travis Allen
    Managing Director


    This post was posted in Kids and was tagged with Featured, 1 Peter, Romans, Hebrews, Deuteronomy, Colossians, John MacArthur, Halloween, 1 John, Travis Allen, Grace To You

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