Mar 01

Let it Shine

Sad Pipe

Sad Pipe (Photo credit: Latente 囧 www.latente.it)

In Alaska the seasonal light and dark differences are tough on some people.  According to the Alaska Mental Health Association, as much as 20% of all Alaskans may suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD.  My family arrived in April 1970; I seem to recall it was a little hard to fall asleep at first, but after a few times of Mom chewing us out to get our butts in bed asleep or else we would be SAD, we figured it out.  It was just the way of life, light summers, dark winters.  In fact, when I am in the Lower 48, I am still a little startled how dark it gets there, and how fast.  One minute the sun starts going down, the next it is black dark.  Here, summer nights are only briefly dusky, and winter’s darkness is tempered by the moon’s reflection off the snow, so it just does not seem that dark to me.

As an adult, however, I have noticed the dark bothers me when I work long hours in windowless offices.  Unless I go out to lunch or search out a window every day, I will not see daylight at all.  That is bothersome.  Health professionals say too much darkness contributes to brain chemical imbalances and vitamin deficiencies.  Too little serotonin contributes to depressive moods, too much melatonin contributes to fatigue, as does too little vitamin D, which also compromises calcium absorption for bones and cellular health.  Without sunlight exposure alternative treatments are ‘happy’ lights, anti-depressants, and vitamin D supplements.  I have worked with people who use the happy lights – they are as bright as fog lamps!  Not good for migraineurs.  Looking out the window when there is daylight works for me; and it is always a relief to feel the warming sunshine as Winter gives way to Spring.

So the seasonal darkness does not bother me too much; it is the ever present dark melancholy within that seeks to dim my spirit.  The long standing stigma of depression prevents people from getting help because admitting the inner struggle may be interpreted as weak character or failure.  More often than not family and friends subscribe to the stigma, and quickly grow weary witnessing the inability to ‘pull yourself up by the bootstraps’ and get over it. The resulting guilt and shame of perceived defectiveness adds to the chronic depression’s downward spiral.   In the past few decades much progress has been made educating people that a diagnosis of depression is no less a neurological disease than Parkinson’s or Huntington’s.  While it may not shorten length of life as those terrible diseases do, depression has both psychiatric and biological components that can be debilitating.  Still, approximately half America’s population, including healthcare professionals, believe a depressed person is weak willed or perhaps plain unwilling to meet life’s challenges.   Frankly, I prefer to call it ‘dysthymia,’ which is essentially chronic depression, but it strikes as an authoritative medical term rather than just ‘depression.’ It makes it easier to accept I am not defective nor is it my fault I have the illness.

How does one conquer this internal darkness?  Thinking one can eliminate a chronic illness may be unrealistic, but it is possible to keep the symptoms at a minimum.  Just as a diabetic can successfully manage that illness, preventing ancillary body damage, a dysthymic person can challenge the untruths the black cloud forecasts.  By far, what helps me the most is my faith in the Lord.  John 8:12 says, ‘When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”’  This has proven true over and over again; no matter how black the darkness gets, there is always the Holy Spirit’s steady glow to lead me out again.    I have written the Devotional ‘Breadbox for the Broken’ to share Scriptural light that dispels darkness.  It is difficult admitting I struggle with chronic depression.  But more so, I am compelled to share with others similarly afflicted that there is hope for the journey.  The same as we steadily gain daylight, it is possible to gain ground against dark thoughts through prayer and the Scriptures. The Psalms are my favorite, such as Psalm 119:105 ‘Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.’ Avail yourself of spiritual, medical and emotional resources to brighten your world; then may you be a source of light and hope for others.  I liken the results of this path to the words of a well-loved Sunday School song: ‘This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine; This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine; Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.’

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Feb 01

Winter Races

Map of the historical Iditarod Trail and the c...

It’s obvious that Alaska is the largest state in the Union.  It also has other ‘largest’ characteristics.  The Trans-Alaska Pipeline is one of the largest pipeline systems in the world; it was a first for building structures on permafrost, conquering challenges of operating in the harsh, isolated arctic terrain.  At over 2,000 miles through the brutal Alaskan wilderness between Big Lake and Fairbanks, the Iron Dog is the longest snowmobile race and arguably one of the toughest competitions in the world.   February’s Fur Rondy has been around since the 1930s; it has grown in worldwide popularity to where in 2012 it was voted number one winter carnival by the National Geographic Traveler.  Probably Alaska’s most famous large event, however, is the Iditarod, the longest dogsled race in the world, also known as the ‘Last Great Race on Earth,’ and it is definitely one of the toughest competitions in the world.

While not necessarily stated by the founders of the Iditarod Sled Dog Race, the competition has a close resemblance to the 1925 ‘Great Race of Mercy.’  It was a relay race against time, run by 20 mushers and their sled dog teams in an effort to save Nome’s population from a deadly diphtheria outbreak.  Where today’s Iditarod Trail follows a historic winter trail used by mushers to haul freight from Seward to Nome, alternatively the Mercy Race began in Nenana, with the serum having been delivered from Seward by train.  Once it arrived, mushers raced towards Nome through fierce, record-breaking winter cold.  Planes could not fly in the blizzard conditions and hurricane force winds, but sled dogs could run through the storm.  The mushers had an incredible sense of urgency as children fell victim and died from the disease; they completed the usually 25 day trek in just 5 ½ days, at the cost of some of their dogs lives and they  themselves suffering severely frost bit faces, hands, and feet.  Temperatures dropped as low as -70 below.  Mushers had to drop down to frozen rivers because of too-deep snow drifts, risking falling through the ice; which one team did.  Though initially all got out, at least two dogs died later from exposure.  It is incredible that in white out conditions, when the musher could not see where they were going, his lead dog could still find the way.  In the end, not one of the serum ampules were broken despite the frantic ride.  Unbelievably, many of those same mushers made a second serum run through the unforgiving wilderness before ample supplies could be brought into Nome by air.

The Iditarod Sled Dog Race is the result of two people’s admiration for the role mushers and their sled dogs have played in Alaska’s history, as well as the desire to preserve the historic, once vital winter trail used for hauling freight between Seward and Nome.  The foundation for the Race was laid through the tireless efforts of Alaskan history buff Dorothy Page and homesteader Joe Redington Sr in the 1970s.  Though the National Historic Iditarod Trail runs from Seward to Nome, the Iditarod Sled Dog Race itself has a ceremonial start in Anchorage on the first Saturday in March and an actual start in Willow the next day.  To limit outsider impact and yet allow participation of several small communities in the exceptional event, the mushers alternate a north and south route, with the south route going through the race’s namesake, the ghost town of Iditarod.  Participating mushers come from all walks of life, from the expected outdoorsmen to an occasional doctor or lawyer.  The sport also runs in families, such as the Redingtons, Seaveys and Mackeys.   Mushers and dogs alike go through rigorous training for months, for years to become athletes capable of successfully surviving the unforgiving Alaskan outdoors.

In our personal lives one of the ‘largest’ characteristics is our spirituality; individual spiritual beliefs influence the way we each run the race of life.  My faith in God is my life’s foundation; because of His Great Mercy run from heaven into earthly form manifested in Jesus Christ, he has provided a dependable, sincere, righteous path for me to follow.  As in the Iditarod race, there are different weather challenges in the seasons of life that make following the path difficult.   Staying the course takes faith and perseverance, sometimes in the face of seemingly unsurmountable obstacles. I Corinthians 9:24-25 says ‘Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.  Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.’  Only one of the Iditarod competitors will win that race; my life’s race, however, is competing within myself to live a life pleasing to God.  I need to be prepared through Bible study and prayer, dependent on God’s strength and wisdom to win against the storms of this life.  When my way is tracking through white-out conditions, I have the Holy Spirit as my lead dog who knows the way.  To successfully survive the pitfalls of this world, I have the Lord’s moral compass and eternal hope in his forgiving grace imprinted on my heart.  So then, in the end, I can say with Apostle Paul in 2 Timothy 4:7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.’

Shooting over the hill near Goose Lake at the ...

Shooting over the hill near Goose Lake at the ceremonial start of the 37th Iditarod sled dog race, Anchorage, Alaska (Photo credit: Alaskan Dude)

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Jan 01

Bring it On

thO8E0YS5G

The beginning of a year is traditionally a time for New Year Resolutions, as well as hoping the year will bring improved quality of life, or dreading any upcoming adverse challenges.  Whatever happens, we know change is really the only constant.  Change can be stressful, whether it is good or bad.    We are challenged by the unknown and its uncertainty, and the way we respond will affect our ability to live life successfully and meaningfully.  The stress it causes can motivate or immobilize.  In my life I have had to work especially hard at not letting it immobilize me.

Over 25 years ago I experienced one of life’s most challenging changes; January 1987 I received final divorce papers, and there began the long journey of raising my 17 month old and my 4 year old by myself.  I felt immobilized, but giving in to it was not an option as I looked at those precious sleeping faces.  Rather the Lord showed me Isaiah 43:18-19, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.  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.”  It certainly felt like I was in a desolate wasteland.  However, I determined daily, many times moment by moment, to see the new things the Lord was doing in my life which would lead me through the wilderness of broken dreams. Ever since that long ago January, I try to look back at the year ending, see what he brought me through and blessed me with, and look to the new year with hope and assurance he is already there with a plan for my good, despite any adverse circumstances.

Though I look back knowing there is proof of his presence, and look forward knowing he is already there, I admit the unknown often unduly stresses me out.  That is why New Year Resolutions, daily resolutions, are important as they repeatedly remind me of what matters, what God’s purpose is, and what my resulting individual priorities need to be.  Am I living my life by my values and beliefs, or am I just talking about them?  Am I accomplishing the goals I have been called to complete, or just treading water in the daily drudgery?  Without a doubt I have long renewed the New Year Resolutions of being a devoted and faithful Christian, loving and caring mother, competent and hardworking employee.  I was not, however, establishing well-defined goals for how to achieve those resolutions.  I was not breaking them down into objectives or, in the words of business management, I was not thinking in terms of SMART Goals: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Reasonable, Time-bound.  Instead, though I am determined to ‘do better,’ I fret and worry and stress about how to do better, perhaps because I have not clearly defined what that looks like.

Case in point, after years of becoming more and more frustrated and discouraged over deteriorating health issues, all my strength (physically, spiritually, mentally) was finally depleted.  When I reached that lowest point a couple of years ago, I realized I needed to manage unwelcome changes differently, because resisting only made things worse. As Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, there is a time for everything.  While there are times to fight against unfavorable change, there are other times to accept and adapt to necessary change.  Accepting these changes meant an even deeper dependence on the Lord for the necessary transitions, i.e., becoming spiritually stronger while growing more physically restricted.  Having these restrictions requires being better organized than I have been, so this year I plan to write down New Year Resolutions and the realistic steps to accomplish specific objectives.  Further, I recognize the need for more thorough protection against stress and worry, which, for one, means being more deliberate about putting on the full Armor of God as described in Ephesians 6:14-18, Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.  In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.  Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.   And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.’  

How about you, do you make New Year Resolutions, are you successful in accomplishing them, or are you like me where the demands of day to day living make you soon forget what your resolutions were?  If so, join me by using a more mindful approach to setting goals and objectives for 2014, watch for the new things the Lord is doing in your life, and put on the full Armor of God.  Then we can stand firm on January 1, 2014 and say to the New Year ‘Bring It On,’ because we are ready!

  armour-of-god

Dec 01

QUIET CABIN OF REST

A quiet place somewhere

A quiet place somewhere (Photo credit: GabPRR)

When I was a teenager, my parents bought a motor home for fishing getaways.  When you are a teenager, you don’t necessarily like to get away with the family.  You want to hang out with your friends on the weekends.  So there were too many times I went begrudgingly as required.  Being a bookworm, I had plenty of reading materials with me as I was not going to touch those slimy, smelly fish.  So I spent most of the trips with one eye on the book page and the other on my younger siblings I was supposed to help out with.  Later, when I was a young adult, my parents bought a cabin in Seward and a boat for fishing in Resurrection Bay.  By then I realized maybe getting away to enjoy the Alaska wilderness with family had its merits.  I even occasionally tried my hand at fishing; of course I had my father or husband take the fish off the hook, but I did bravely wash off the scales and cook them.  My husband and his family enjoyed camping and fishing as well; I finally found myself enjoying the outdoors – in the summer.  The one time I was dragged out ice fishing (back to the reluctant teenage days) my Dad drove the motorhome out on lake ice, much to my terror.  It’s common practice with ice fishing to drive out on the ice once it reaches around a foot thick, though the risk of falling through is still a possibility, however remote.  I completely took I Thessalonians 5:16 to heart that day, praying continually for hours until the motorhome lumbered back on to shore.

In the mid-80s, my life crashed along with Alaska’s oil-based economy.  A devastating divorce furthered my own spiraling financial disaster, so after losing my husband, I lost my home and my job.  And while they did what they could to help, my parents had also lost everything – their businesses, motorhome, cabin, boat, and residential home.  Grateful I had uncontested full custody of my two small children, I knew I needed to improve my employment options for our livelihood.  With funds supplied by the grace of God, I earned a college degree during that troubled time.  As for enjoying the Alaskan outdoors, I wasn’t brave enough to go it alone, so those times were over.  I have been out on Resurrection Bay a time or two since for specific occasions though, and still enjoyed the quietness on the water, and the sheer massiveness of the wilderness.

Now that the difficult, rewarding job of raising my children is done and I have a well-established career in Finance, I am stepping up my efforts in pursuit of my long shelved writing goals.  Yet its proving more of a challenge than I thought; and the less time I have for it, the more I wish I could get away from the bustle of life like I did in those days of book reading in the motorhome while the younger kids fished the Little Su with Dad, or when I floated peacefully about Kepler Lake in the summer sun, trailing corn down into warm water and wondering if fish actually liked vegetables.  Now I would like to get away to a rustic cabin on a lake, or a luxury cabin on a leisure cruise, or an airline cabin on the way to Hawaii, temporarily leaving all the daily pressures and problems behind for some much needed rest, renewal and revelation.

However, since a cabin escape is currently not an option, I still need to obtain that place of quiet and rest.  God states many times in the Bible that this is necessary: after Creation He rested on the 7th day (Genesis 2:2), the 4th Commandment provides for Sabbath rest (Exodus 20:8), and Jesus often went to solitary places for quiet prayer, the most important time being in the garden of Gethsemane before his arrest (Matthew 26:36-46).  Additionally, he stressed this to his disciples.  In Mark 6:6-13, Jesus sent his disciples out to preach.  Upon their return, Mark 6:30-31 says ‘The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught.  Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”’   The Lord knows the hectic schedules we keep, and with the holidays upon us, the pace only increases.  Resist amping up the pace; instead find your quiet ‘cabin’ and go with Jesus for a time of rest, renewal and revelation.  And while you are there, I encourage you to reflect upon his birth, and let it affect you anew.

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Nov 28

Unwholesome Talk Grieves the Holy Spirit

Grieve not

EPHESIANS 4:29-32

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouth, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.  And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.  Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.  Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other just as in Christ God forgave you.

 

Dear Lord,

I do not want to grieve the Holy Spirit with my attitude.  I feel justified in my attitude when I have been wronged and feel I am owed reparation.  Despite difficult circumstances, please help me guard my tongue from unwholesome talk, my spirit from bitterness, my heart from malice.  Help me forgive as You have forgiven; thank you my fate is sealed with Your Holy Spirit.

Nov 15

Humble Servant

MARK 10:35-37, 41-45  

Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him.  “Teacher,” they said, “we want you to do for us whatever we ask.”  “What do you want me to do for you?” He asked.  They replied, “Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.” … When the ten heard about this, they became indignant with James and John.  Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them.  Not so with you.  Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.  For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

 

Dear Lord,

How could two disciples be so immodest as to ask You to sit on either side of You as rulers in heaven?!  How can they be so bold as to believe You would give them whatever they ask?  Yet sometimes my prayers must sound like theirs, “Lord, I need you to do this, this and that, and could You make sure it is done by the time I wake up in the morning?”  Forgive me for being so presumptuous; my assignment on earth is to follow your teachings.   I need a servant’s heart to do Your work.  If I am in authority over others, may I humbly fulfill the responsibility entrusted to me.  When I am tempted to be prideful in my own greatness, remind me that it is You who gave me abilities to share their fruits with others.  Thank you for the blessings You have bestowed on this humble servant.

Christ-Calling-the-Apostles-James-and-John--1869

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Nov 01

THANK YOU VETERANS

 At Mile 147.2 of the George Parks Highway between Anchorage and Fairbanks AK

Alaska Veterans Memorial, George Parks Hwy, Mile 147.2 (between Anchorage and Fairbanks)

War, what is it good for? Absolutely nothing.’  So says the lyrics of soul singer Edwin Starr.  I like the song’s explosive Motown sound, and have yet to tire of watching Jackie Chan and Chris Rock’s rendition on ‘Rush Hour.’  As far as the political statement it makes, I sadly cannot completely agree.  A quote from 18th century philosopher Edmund Burke comes to mind: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men should do nothing.”  War can tragically be a necessary evil.  What about the Revolutionary War, Civil War, World War I or World War II?    How can it be argued these catastrophic wars were good for nothing?  How worse off would the world be if these conflicts had turned out differently?  As for Alaska, its strategic military history began at the beginning.  In 1867 Secretary of State William Seward convinced Congress to purchase Alaska from Russia because he strongly believed its location was vital to our national defense.  Additionally, much of Alaska’s population growth through the decades can be attributed to military personnel. I want to bring two unsung veterans, each from an unpopular war, to your attention.

I do not know his name, the Vietnam Veteran I met in the late 1980s while I worked as a UAA tuition cashier.  He seemed tired and worn, commenting how he was training for a second career, obviously preferring to stay with his first choice.  I am not sure why Vietnam came up, but he made brief reference to it.  In my mind I flashed back to my 5th grade class at Rabbit Creek Elementary.  Mrs. Miller asked the class why we were fighting in Vietnam; I innocently, foolishly raised my hand, answering they were trying to take over America.  She and the class laughed at me…I did not offer an answer again until I was in college and forced to participate.  Remembering that shaming experience, absolutely insignificant when recalling the shameful way those veterans were treated when they came home, I impulsively stuck my hand through the cashier partition and asked to shake his hand.  I told him thank you so much for serving; tears filled his eyes as he looked at me gratefully. Talking with him, I realized I no longer felt ashamed of that child’s answer back in 1971.  Despite the dreadful political mismanagement of the conflict that caused it’s unconscionable failure, Vietnam was an attempt to hold the line against communism.  And the spread of communism was a threat to the freedoms Americans hold so dear.  I am so grateful I had the opportunity to thank that man.

The other Alaskan veteran I knew pretty well; he was my son’s best friend since we moved to Eagle River in 1994, until the young man’s death in 2005.  It was clear from the first introduction he loved Alaska and loved the Army.  His Dad, who was in the Alaska National Guard, inspired him.  They lived just around the corner from us, and my son and he were constant companions.  Being a single mom for years, I appreciated his Dad including my son in some of their father-son activities, such as fishing, camping, and the gun range.  The boy had a quick smile, polite mannerisms towards adults, yet a tendency to find trouble in his own age group.  My son was one of his few true friends, defending him frequently, both verbally and physically, because he did not always think before he spoke.  Despite his impetuous bend for trouble, he had a good heart, and loved the Lord.  He and my son, a grounded Christian himself, had many a conversation about being a believer.

Odd for a young man, he would frequent the local VFW, enjoying visits with the veterans.  It was no surprise he was in ROTC, and enlisted immediately after graduation.  He volunteered to go to Iraq in 2003.  Because he was easily misunderstood, he had mixed experiences with his fellow soldiers.  But because of his quick smile and respect for authority, his superiors could see his worth.  My son was glad to hear that he frequented Prayer Groups to refresh his spiritual strength.  He came home on furlough in August 2005, enjoying his friends and family one last time.  Within two weeks of his return to Iraq, on September 5, 2005, Sgt Matthew C. Bohling was killed by insurgents with an IED roadside bomb.  There are no words to describe the grief felt by my son, even more so by his parents.  Eight years later, I still think of his sacrifice every time I see a flag flying proudly.  We are free because of men like Matthew who have fought for our protection and way of life. I am thankful for him, the ones before and after him, for the impossible price they paid for my country.  John 15:13 says, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” I pray for the safety of those who continue to fight – I thank the Lord for their perseverance and strength under fire.  And I thank each one of our military personnel for serving.  Thank you so much.

 

Sgt Matthew C. Bohling

Sgt Matthew C. Bohling
2005

Memorial Day 2013

Memorial Day
2013

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Oct 01

Halloween – Just Costumes and Candy?

PumpkinPuppyHappyHalloween

It’s happening; the leaves are falling with the incessant rain, the faint smell of over-ripe currants hangs in the air, and the fireweed’s transformation from climbing blossoms into floating, weightless cotton is complete.  We have moved into Fall, with, at least for me, its accompanying dread of termination dust.  So what is there to celebrate about Fall?  I can almost hear children say Halloween!  Costumes and candy! But how did Halloween begin?

Originally it was a Celtic festival called Samhain which celebrated the end of summer, the end of their calendar year, and honored the dead.  The Celtics believed that those who died during the year went to the underworld on October 31st, the last day of their calendar.  This journey brought the dead, one last time, in close proximity to the living.  The living left out meat, fruits and vegetables, perhaps even set an extra dinner plate for their dead relatives.  People dressed up in costume to honor the friendly dead; and wore other costumes to hide from the malevolent spirits, hoping the food set outside would appease their evil intent or trickery.  With the arrival of missionaries came Christian celebrations to replace the pagan ones.  However, elements of this festival refused to fade away into history.  While Christians celebrated Hallowmas, a three day festival from October 31st to November 2nd honoring saints, martyrs and the dead, the superstitious still believed that on the first night of Hallowmas, All Hallow’s Eve (wherein the name ‘Halloween’ comes from), the dead wandered the earth.  It was meant to be a night set aside for prayer, worship and preparation for the next two days known as All Hallowed Day and All Souls Day.  Part of the preparations was baking small pastries called soul cakes.  Children and the poor went home to home offering prayers for dead loved ones in exchange for the treats.  Some believed this tradition released souls from Purgatory into Heaven. On All Hallowed Day saints and martyrs were celebrated for their exceptional holiness and courage even unto death, as well as other sanctified souls thought to have reached Heaven.  The next day, All Souls Day, was open to remember all the dearly departed.  Rituals included visiting graves, lighting candles, and praying for these souls’ sanctification so they may also leave Purgatory for Heaven.

These festivals explain Halloween’s elements of the underworld, wearing costumes, and providing treats to escape a trick.  Should a Christian participate given its origin?  Some say it celebrates evil, some say it is just for fun.  I think it is a mixture of both.  Dressing your kids up as a princess or a pumpkin for a Harvest/Halloween Carnival at a school or church is fun, not to mention parents letting kids eat candy!  However, I think it is inappropriate for a Christian to dress up as something unsavory as it appears to celebrate the evil those creatures represent.  People may think this opinion is too conservative; after all, it is only make-believe.  But the spiritual realm is not make-believe.  Ephesians 6:12 says ‘For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.’  Unless done properly, and even then, exposure to the dark spiritual world can harm you.  In Acts some Jews were impressed with Jesus and his disciples casting out demons; so they tried it themselves, in the name of Jesus.  Acts 19:13b-16 reads ‘They would say, “In the name of the Jesus whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.”  One day the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know about, but who are you?”  Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding.’  Why could the evil spirit overcome them?  Because they said, “In the name of the Jesus whom Paul preaches,” not “in the name of THE Jesus whom I believe.” They had no faith in Jesus themselves; they just wanted the power to cast out demons.  But the power of the Holy Spirit was not within them for the demon to recognize and obey; the Lord had not sent them on the mission.

As you celebrate Halloween with costumes and candy, also remember its ancient purpose.  Consider the faith of exemplary Christians whose lives demonstrate the power of the Holy Spirit and the humble nature of a servant of God.  Reminisce about the loved ones who are gone, and be sure to enjoy time with those still here.  Pray for them and yourself to see God’s Spirit manifest in your lives.   When deciding if something is part of your mission in life, determine how it contributes to you being transformed by the will of God, as Romans 12:2 says ‘Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.’ 

candycorn 

Sep 27

Forever and a Day

The Passage of Time

The Passage of Time (Photo credit: ToniVC)

II PETER 3:8-12A

But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.  The Lord is not slow in keeping His promises, as some understand slowness.  He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.  But the day of the Lord will come like a thief.  The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.  Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you be?  You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.

 

Dear Lord,

It does seem like forever and a day when I am waiting for my dreams to come true.  Thank you You explain in Your Word your days are not on my days’ time-line; it helps to know that.  Not only should I be living a godly life striving to follow Your plan for my life, more importantly I need to be watchful and ready for Your return so when heaven and earth are no more, I do not perish rather I will gratefully live on in Your eternal presence.

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Sep 12

God’s Rest

 

HEBREWS 4:9-13 

 

There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from His.  Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience.  For the Word of God is living and active.  Sharper than any double edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow, it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.  Nothing in creation is hidden from God’s sight.  Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to Whom we must give account.

 

GodRestingonthe7thDay

God resting

 

Dear Lord,

I must learn to rest from the busy-ness of life so I may be quiet enough for You to teach me how to enter into Your rest.  Help me get there, because I know it will protect me from falling away from fellowship with You.  I need to spend more time in Your Word to keep it living in me; it will adjust my heart’s thoughts and attitudes.  My soul is laid bare before You; I know I will have to give an account for all things I leave unresolved, unforgiven between You and me.  I pray You keep me obedient and renewed through resting on Your promises.

 

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