Friday, October 29, 2010

Halloween for Christians: Oppression or Opportunity
Hank Hanegraaff

A myriad of questions have been raised about Halloween. Should Christians participate in Halloween? What should our attitude be towards Halloween? Should we simply ignore it? Should we vigorously attack it? Or should we, as Christians, find ways in which to accommodate it?

Before offering some suggestions on how we as Christians might best relate to Halloween, I think it would be appropriate to first consider the pagan origin of Halloween.

The celebration of Halloween, also known as the witches’ new year, is rooted in the ancient pagan calendar which divided the year into Summer and Winter by two fire festivals. Before the birth of Christ, the day we know as Halloween was part of the Celtic Feast of Samhain (sah–ween). This feast was a celebration of Druid priests from Britain and France and commemorated the beginning of Winter. It was a night on which the veil between the present world and the world beyond was pierced. The festivals were marked by animal sacrifices, offerings to the dead, and bonfires in recognition of departed souls. It was believed that on this night demons, witches, hobgoblins, and elves were released en masse to harass and to oppress the living. For self-preservation many Druids would dress up as witches, devils, and ghouls, and would even involve themselves in demonic activities and thus make themselves immune from attack.
To read more on this topic click here

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Ways to Get Closer to God

So far we have read 10 ways to get closer to God, here are 10 more ways....

11. Go to church once a week
12. Read the Bible daily
13. Read through Bible in a year
14. Join a weekly Bible study
15. Read Christian books
16. Read biographies of the saints
17. Memorize key verses
18. Surround yourself with godly friends
19. Unplug the phone and turn off email during your devotions
20. Set aside a special place to meet with God that doesn’t overlook any
mess or undone work

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Ways to Get Closer to God- Continued

6. Sing praise songs
7. Sing hymns
8. Eliminate distractions in your life
9. Reduce busyness
10. Listen to worship music while exercising or driving in the car

Monday, October 18, 2010

Ways to Get Closer to God

1. Pray and commit your day to Him before you get out of bed in the morning
2. Study and meditate on the names of God
3. Study and meditate on the names of Jesus
4. Study and meditate on the names of Holy Spirit
5. Set an appointment time to meet with Him daily

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Could it be You?

Rachel Olsen

"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives." 1 John 1:9-10 (NIV)


I remember the day I realized I have Adam's Disease. It took me awhile to notice—in fact, most people with this debilitating condition don't ever recognize it. But the best doctor I know pointed out its symptoms, and though I hated to admit it, I've frequently displayed them.

Could it possibly affect you as well? Maybe so.

Adam's Disease is an insidious condition that interferes with the patient's ability to grow. It does this by preventing the patient from admitting and taking responsibility for their sin. Take a look at the first confirmed case:

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man, "Where are you?"

He answered, "I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid."

And he said, "Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?"

The man said, "The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it." (Genesis 3:8-12, NIV)

What we have here is a textbook case of acknowledgement-avoidance and blame-shifting. Classic traits of Adam's Disease.

Adam hid because he sinned—he did the very thing God personally commanded him not to, and he knew it. He ate the fruit. He held it to his mouth, bit in, chewed, felt the juice dripping from his chin—and then his eyes were opened. Opened to what he had done, and opened to how miserable it feels to disconnect from God.

Trying to change the subject and avoid talking about his sin, Adam said he was hiding because he was naked. Nakedness … a lesser offense. A problem, not a sin. A state that wasn't really his fault. After all, he didn't make himself naked. God did.

And that's where the second most prominent feature of Adam's Disease kicks in: blame-shifting. After trying to minimize the severity of their sin, the patient enters a frenzied state of denial and begins casting blame. He searches for a scapegoat. God will do; other people work even better, particularly those who are not without sin either. So the patient turns the attention away from themselves, leveling accusations (no matter how old) to shift focus and blame on others.

If we are skilled orators or experienced arguers, this often works for us in our relationships. The problem is, we walk away from the confrontation feeling victorious rather than convicted. We actually talk ourselves into feeling self-righteous after sinning.

Without conviction, however, there is no repentance. Without repentance, there is no grace to change. Without change there is no growth. Only future sins to be committed, glossed over, denied and forgotten. And in the process, we don't realize how miserable we truly are - how sick our souls become.

The doctor that pointed all this out to me, the Great Physician, said He could heal me of this disease if I would come to Him with a humble heart, confess and be cleansed. He showed me that confessing my sin, rather than concealing it, would set me free. And He showed me it won't not hurt to say, "I'm sorry."

For those outside the faith, Adam's Disease is fatal. For followers of Christ, it is completely curable. So, could it be you? Could you suffer with this tendency too? My best girlfriend advice - make an appointment with your Great Physician today.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Makeover Bread Pudding.... submitted by Vicki Birch

8 cups cubed day old bread
4 eggs
1 cup egg substitute
2 1/4 cups fat-free milk
1 3/4 cups half-and-half cream
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter, melted
3 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Carmel Sauce:
1 cup packed brown sugar
3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 cup fat-free milk
2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
2 Tbsp butter

1. Place bread cubes in 13X9 baking dish coated with cooking spray. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, egg substitute, milk, cream, sugar, butter, and cinnamon. Pour evenly over bread.
2. Bake, uncovered, at 350 for 40-45 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.
3. Meanwhile, for caramel sauce, in a small saucepan, combine brown sugar and flour. Stir in milk until smooth. Cook and stir over medium-high heat until thickened and bubbly. Reduce heat; cook and stir for 2 minutes.
4. Remove from the heat. Stir a small amount of hot mixture into egg yolks; return all to pan, stirring constantly. Bring to a gentle boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat; gently stir in butter. Serve with pudding. Refrigerate leftovers.

Nutrition Facts: 1 piece with about 2 Tbsp. sauce equals 278 calories

Friday, October 1, 2010

Telling God What to Do

By Jan Johnson

I’ve had great ideas over the years of how God could solve my problems. I listed solutions for Him: Change my grouchy neighbor’s heart; cure my friend of cancer; make my spouse as devoted as the ones described in the how-to books on marriage. Some of these things happened and some of them didn’t. I felt that God disappointed me too many times.

I see now that I have been using prayer as a weapon of control. I have tried to control God-as if that were possible!

With a surrendered attitude, I can bring my requests to God in a different way. I’m still fervent and consistent, but I don’t have to tell God what to do. Instead, I watch, wait and cooperate.

To accept God’s sovereignty is one more necessary surrender.

Passage Romans 9:1-29

VERSE: Romans 9:21 “Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?”
Measure Up?

Have you ever had a day that you felt nothing you did worked out the way you planned it? We often start our days with preconceived ideas of how the day is going to be or even wake up in a great mood to find that for some reason it drastically changes. When having a day that is challenging, learn to ask yourself, am I measuring up? Not measuring up to the world’s expectations but to what God has planned for you that day.
Often we use our friends, co-workers or relatives as a measuring stick. Proverbs 29:25 says, “The fear of human opinion disables; trusting in God protects you from that (The Message)”. Today’s challenge is this: “Will I seek God first?” He wants us to pour out our energy on Him. It is that very trust in Him that will keep you connected and aware of His presence throughout the day. Every step you take today will build faith if you surrender to God. Take time this day to read your Bible because that is how God primarily speaks to us. Then ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you how what you have read applies to your life or what He wants you to focus on in the passage. Then, if you’re like me, right it down so you won’t forget. Carry it with you throughout the day and glance at it whenever you have a chance.
As we walk in faith it will be easy to look around to see what others are doing. Be keenly aware we are all in different places in our life, and what is easy for you may be a great challenge to someone else. It is easy to criticize others but God wants us to focus on him. Matthew 7:1-5 says, “Don't pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It's easy to see a smudge on your neighbor's face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, 'Let me wash your face for you,' when your own face is distorted by contempt? It's this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor (The Message).” We may have people in our life who struggle every day fighting additions, have a loved one dying, or are new to the faith. We may be going through what seem to be insurmountable difficulties in our own life. Because of this we must seek Him first to strengthen us internally and soften us externally.
God gifts all his children differently so let’s find our own strengths and use them to help others. Then when we look at others, look for their gifting, so that you may direct people to their path if they have a need in that area. Now that is using your mind to measure up the right way!
By- Vicki Birch