CTT | Abominable Practices Still…

CTTSo, last Friday’s post was a departure from my usual anti-halloween posting. With most of what I post here on Faithful Stewardship, there is a battle of sorts, a grappling with the text and with my opinions and biases that rarely makes it into a post. The episode of IssuesETC shared last Friday was good for those seeking to refute the notion that October 31st somehow belonged to pagans and that the Church tried to baptize the date to make it holy. The post points out that the Church already had a holiday on that date (well, the eve of OCT 31 and the day of NOV 01). So, if the goal is to rightly understand the history of the observances of men, then I recommend treating the Church’s observances as separate from whatever pagan/occult customs happen to be at play. However, once we step out of our academic bubble, we have to deal with a real and fallen world that HATES Christ.

Halloween in American Culture

The historicity of All Saint’s Day (or Feast of the Martyrs) is completely foreign to the majority of American Evangelicals. I was clueless, and by evangelical standards, I grew up in the church. We don’t go to Church on Halloween, we go to haunted houses, costume parties, or door-to-door asking for treats (for our kids, naturally). Sadly, our culture is one that doesn’t go door-to-door for anything other than halloween and/or fundraisers. Despite the sizable representation of American adherents to the Roman Catholic Church, very few venerate the saints of old, much less of recent times past. Airborne troops may wear a medallion of the patron saint of Paratroopers, but for the most part we in the US are completely removed from a Christian observance of Oct 31/Nov 1. I think there is plenty of room to discuss the merits of observing All Saint’s Day or Reformation Day as a holiday, that is a conversation that must take place completely separate from Halloween as it is observed in American Culture.

Things that don’t matter. Seriously.

The day. Whatever day is showing on the calendar is irrelevant in the big picture. God is still in charge, Christ still died for our sins, the Holy Spirit still draws us to Him, and Enemy is still defeated. There is no point on any calendar that is any more or less holy than the next. Demons and unclean spirits are no more or less troublesome on any day of any calendar. What matters is whether or not we walk according to the flesh or according to the Spirit by Faith.

Romans 14:5-9 (ESV)

One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.

The Food. Again, from the same chapter in Romans, whatever we eat on whichever day is irrelevant in light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Whether candy, pumpkin-spice whatever, or cookies, apples, bacon… chocolate, or bacon (worth mentioning twice), what we eat or abstain from isn’t nearly as important as how we eat or abstain from it.

Romans 14:17 (ESV)

17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

The Party. As Christians, we don’t mourn like the world does, nor do we “party” like the world does. That doesn’t mean we do nothing. We observe funerals and memorial services and we enjoy a wedding reception and feasts. I know it must seem odd that I include funerals in this, but I wanted to cover the whole experience… having a party is fine. NOT having a party is fine. In this sense, the issue of having a party or not having a party is irrelevant as far as the Faith is concerned. Bridal showers, baby showers, bachelor parties, funerals, wakes, birthday’s, harvest, planting, mortgage burning,… if there is a cause for celebration, then have the party… or don’t… totally up to you. Now, having said that, how the party is conducted is still a matter of Law and Gospel. A bachelor party done in celebration of lust of the eyes, lust of the flesh, sexual immorality, and debauchery is an abomination.

Costumes. I love a good costume party. I love seeing my kids play “make believe” around the house… but there’s something really cool that happens when you give them a costume that sparks their imagination. That’s why we give them toy weapons, tea party kits, play kitchens, and jungle gyms. Watch and listen to them play… you think that’s a slide? No, it’s a mountain. Costumes are also a great way for adults to set aside the anxieties and frustrations of “everyday life” and just enjoy some good fun. We  wear uniforms when we engage in team sports, some fans go a bit crazy with costumes to cheer on their favorite teams. Even at home sometimes we have set “work clothes” for disconnecting and just doing some gardening/lawn care to forget the weekly 9-to-5. Or maybe it’s our favorite bath robe and fuzzy bunny slippers to let everyone else know “I’m chillin’ for a bit today”. It can be good fun, it can be great for breaking the ice between professionals so they can just be themselves for a bit. But, these can be abused, and generally are abused during Mardi Gras and Halloween. It should come as no surprise that the spirit of Halloween (and Mardi Gras) in America is Lust of the flesh. Recently there was a story on a mom who was upset by the sexualized costumes at Party City… for her 3 year old (NBC’s Today Show). We’ll address this more in a bit. As a fan of costumes and costume parties, I’d like to see more costume parties throughout the year so that it can be further divorced from halloween. My kids don’t need halloween to look forward to a costume party.

What Really Matters… Seriously.

The god of Halloween in America is Self-Gratification. Lust of the eyes, lust of the flesh, and the pride of life. Our culture seeks to pleasure itself in whichever way it wills in the moment, and demands that everyone not only allow it, but celebrate it with them. Everything is about sex and pleasure. Halloween (and Mardi Gras) are the pinnacle of the self-indulgence when it comes to the spirit of Lust. Gluttony has largely been normalized in our culture, so the diabetic nightmare that is Halloween is generally limited to children and their parents. Once the kids are tweens, they are encouraged to explore every imaginable sexual immorality and blood lust imaginable in the name of “harmless fun”. I’ve known many who look to Halloween to play out their cross-dressing fantasies long before “coming out” as homosexual, or suffering from gender dysphoria. Vampires and even zombies have become sexualized in our culture. Mysticism has taken on a very sensual and even sexual nature in stuff we sell year-round in so-called Christian book stores (Theological Erotica).

Even if we manage to strip away the eroticism and sexual immorality, there is the issue of practices that were Abominable to God in the Old Testament… and remain so today (yes, even in 2015).

Deuteronomy 18:9-12 (ESV) | Abominable Practices

“When you come into the land that the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominable practices of those nations. 10 There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer 11 or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer or one who inquires of the dead, 12 for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord. And because of these abominations the Lord your God is driving them out before you.

Acts 19:11-20 (ESV) | The Sons of Sceva

11 And God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, 12 so that even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were carried away to the sick, and their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them.13 Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims.” 14 Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this. 15 But the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?” 16 And the man in whom was the evil spirit leaped on them, mastered all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. 17 And this became known to all the residents of Ephesus, both Jews and Greeks. And fear fell upon them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was extolled. 18 Also many of those who were now believers came, confessing and divulging their practices. 19 And a number of those who had practiced magic arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted the value of them and found it came to fifty thousand pieces of silver. 20 So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily.

I decided to include the reference to the Sons of Sceva to indicate that the practice of magic arts is something to be repented from and gotten rid of. What these believers turned in and burned was valued at 50,000 pieces of silver. If the reference to “piece of silver” is a denarius, we know from the New Testament that a denarius was a day’s wage for laborers. That should help approximate the monetary value of what was collected, repented of, and burned. My point here is that whatever Scripture declares to be an abomination, doesn’t stop being an abomination simply because we are under a New Covenant. Throughout the Scriptures sexual immorality and idolatry are tied together. So, when we have modern-day evangelicals participating in a unholiday that is rife with both idolatry (witchcraft, spiritism, sorcery, divination, etc.) and sexual immorality intertwined there is much cause for concern and a need for repentance. I don’t care about what day any of this activity falls on a calendar (whether Halloween, Mardi Gras, or April 25th), where there is sin it must be rebuked and the sinner called to repentance.


If you choose to celebrate All Hallow’s Eve, or Reformation Day, or even American Halloween, be very careful about what it is you are honoring and for what reasons. The concern isn’t a day on the calendar, nor is it some over-realized sense of “spiritual warfare”; rather, it is about how we are living out our lives as Christians. We are encouraged to walk according to the Spirit, no matter the day, or the hour, or the social environment.

Galatians 5:13-26 (ESV) | Keep in Step with the Spirit

13 For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another. 16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

I highlighted those works of the flesh that reign over American observances of Halloween. In the Spiritual, these things are no more or less destructive on Halloween or Mardi Gras , but in the natural, they tend to take more Christian casualties because the worldly society actively seeks out the pure and innocent to engage in these activities on these days.

Therefore, let us encourage one another in Christ to walk in a manner worthy of Him and His Gospel. Let us build each other up in the faith and inspire one another to keep step with the Spirit.

Jude 24-25 (ESV) | Doxology

24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

In Christ Jesus,

CTT | Christmas Pitfalls

The “Christmas Season” is a great way to liven up an otherwise dreary time of the year. Since so much time will be spent indoors, it serves as a good time to gather together friends and family for feasts and merriment. Since it comes at the end of the year, it’s a good time to reflect on the year in much the same way as we in the U.S. do for Thanksgiving. Not everyone has the means for festivities and merriment, especially during this harsh time of the year, so Charity is often promoted heavily during this time of year with food drives and gift-giving. All of these things are “good” things. I enjoy Thanksgiving-style festivals. As Christians, we know that for Thanksgiving, all praise and glory and honor and thanks go to God the Father. Unbelievers talk about “being thankful” but to whom and for what remains undefined… because they lack faith. They are lost and have rejected God by suppressing the Truth in their unrighteousness, knowing God but refusing to worship Him as God (Romans 1)… but they still observe the feast of Thanksgiving without acknowledging the Creator. Essentially, we observe the same festival in two distinctly different ways… Christians thank God the Father for all He has done, while unbelievers focus on mankind and “being thankful” in a general sense.

Christmas and Thanksgiving are Man-made Feasts

In fact, when we look at these two modern-day holidays as feasts or festivals, we see that they are not all that different from feasts and festivals around the world. Sure the trappings and the details change, but all of the “good things” in these festivals are the food, family, and fellowship. These are man-made feasts. Neither of these feasts is intrinsically Holy, for neither of them were instituted by God in Scripture. That doesn’t make them evil, it only means they are man-made customs. That they are both nationally recognized means that they are extremely popular, but that doesn’t mean everyone is celebrating the same thing. Just as we discussed the difference between how unbelievers and believers honor Thanksgiving, there are major differences in what the world celebrates and what Christians celebrate for Christmas. At least, there should be. The problem is that we’ve allowed the world to set up some rather perilous pitfalls with the season.

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

In truth, it isn’t. This time of year is hard, difficult, cold, and depressive. The world turns to a lot of legends, folklore, romance, and alcohol to pass the time and look out for each other to make the most of this time of year. Jack Frost, Old Man Winter, Santa Clause, elves, fairies, Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, ghosts of Christmas past/present/future,… these are all folklore and pagan legends.  None of them are Christ-affirming, and that is to be expected from a world that Hates Jesus.

John 15:18-25 (ESV) | The Hatred of the World

18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. 21 But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Whoever hates me hates my Father also. 24 If I had not done among them the works that no one else did,they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. 25 But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’

So then, the first pitfall I want to make clear is that the world that Hates Jesus, is NOT celebrating Him. When the world gathers together for Thanksgiving, it isn’t to thank God… they find their own things to thank: themselves, humanity, or nature in general. They tend to celebrate the food, the Football, the Parade, the time away from work… anything but God. Similarly, when the world celebrates Christmas, they celebrate Santa, Gifts, Romance, Time off from work, the food. If there is a spiritual element to their celebration, it’s usually a spirit of humanism, or some sort of pantheism. The world has constructed a malleable idol of “the christmas spirit” which compels them to do good works in hopes of a reward from Santa. If you listen to the songs that play in the stores and on the radio, you’ll quickly recognize that they are honoring the feast, the parties, the traditions of the season, not the birth of the Savior. That’s what the world celebrates. And as the world celebrates their thing, they demonstrate their benevolence toward Christians by allowing us our nativity scenes. The world isn’t intimidated by “Baby Jesus”, or “Christmas Jesus” as was demonstrated so horribly in the Thanksgiving Dinner scene of Talladega Nights (ref scene here). The world doesn’t bow the knee to a Lord and Savior Jesus Christ… yet. When Christ returns, every knee will bow… and tongue confess… but for many it will be too late to escape judgement.

When the Church Conforms to the World’s Version

A common refrain within the visible church is, “Jesus is the Reason for the Season”. If that is the case, why are so many Christians offended by those who reject the Santa lie? Why do we bring Santa into churches? Why do Christians take part in “Elf on the Shelf” nonsense? Probably for the same reason that so many popular pastors have deemed it appropriate to preach sermons based on blockbuster movies rather than the Word of God. They’ll preach their own experiences or a recent Christian self-help book from a best-selling author (who may have bought that title) rather than the Word of God. Here is the second pitfall I’d like to point out, that simply including some mention of Jesus or insisting on “keeping the ‘Christ’ in Christmas”, doesn’t somehow make everything associated with Christmas sacred. If the Christmas tree in the foyer is just a decoration, fine… it’s a decoration no more/less holy than a welcome mat. Just don’t fall into the trap that somehow it needs to be there or the holiday is ruined.

Christmas Songs

Few Christmas songs actually point to Christ. Of those, not many convey the full Gospel. Of those, few are played on the airwaves and in the stores. What does get played a lot are the songs glorifying “the Christmas season” or various cultural traditions “at this time of year”. We actually have songs singing to the Christmas Tree, to Santa Clause, and songs about other fantasy creatures such as Rudolph or Frosty. My blood flash-boils whenever I hear one of these songs sung in a Church during Praise and Worship. Who are these songs praising and worshiping? Let that sink in a moment…

Christmas Movies

To date, the only decent one is A Charlie Brown Christmas, because of the scene where Linus recites the Luke 2:8-14 Narrative.

[youtube http://youtu.be/pn10FF-FQfs]

There are a lot of entertaining movies that are released at this time of year, but none of them convey the Gospel message. And that leads me to the next pitfall, there is no way of ‘Saving Christmas’ so that it becomes an institutional Gospel message. Do not expect the world, to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ, that is the Great Commission for Believers. Don’t expect the world to keep this holiday sacred, that’s patently absurd.

So is Christmas okay or wrong?

Neither. There is nothing intrinsically Holy about Christmas. The Gospel isn’t Christmas, it’s Jesus Christ. I pray you understand the distinction I’m making. The Christmas Holiday is a great festival, but completely disposable… the Biblical account of the Virgin Birth is indispensable and is part of our faith and Gospel year-round. Avoid the pitfalls of making more of the wrong things than we ought. Don’t lie to your kids about Santa… he’s no more necessary for their upbringing than my-little-pony and he’s potentially far more dangerous for their faith. This culture pushes kids to believe in what they KNOW to be a lie, harder than they push for them to know their Savior Jesus Christ. God forgive us. But more importantly, don’t conflate what is essentially a Thanksgiving festival with the Gospel Message of the virgin birth of the Messiah, Son of the Living God. In all things, even in this rebuke/warning, we are to walk in love and in thanksgiving to God. For our final pitfall, let us open our Bibles to Romans 14.

Romans 14 (ESV)

Do Not Pass Judgment on One Another

14 As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.

10 Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; 11 for it is written,

“As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me,
    and every tongue shall confess to God.”

12 So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.

Do Not Cause Another to Stumble

13 Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. 14 I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. 15 For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died. 16 So do not let what you regard as good be spoken of as evil. 17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. 19 So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual up building.

20 Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble by what he eats.21 It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble. 22 The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God.Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves. 23 But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.

The biggest pitfall of this season, is in casting judgment upon our brother/sister over how they choose to celebrate (or abstain) this man-made festival. We will continue studying God’s Word and what is Written our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and how the Word became flesh and walked among us. It is always a good thing to everything you do to the honor and Glory of God, and Christmas can be such an occasion, just like Thanksgiving, New Years, Easter, the 4th of July… that’s why we are called to walk in Him. We walk everywhere we go, thus wherever and whenever we are walking we are to do so in Him. Now there is one holy occasion in Scripture that we are told to observe in Christ’s honor. In fact, He instituted it Himself. Let’s look at that before we close.

Luke 22:14-20 (ESV)

14 And when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him.15 And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16 For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” 17 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves. 18 For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” 19 And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying,“This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me. 20 And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.

The Apostle Paul also received these instructions and relayed them to the Corinthians who were making a mockery of Communion (some were getting drunk and eating for their fill).

1 Corinthians 11:23-26 (ESV)

23 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

May the Lord Bless you and keep you until the Great Day of His Return.
In Christ Jesus,