The Obligatory Halloween Post

Halloween is without a doubt the most controversial holiday among evangelicals.  Everyone has an opinion, and can back that opinion up with some biblical data.

 

Read my Halloween post from last year to get my take on the subject.  I think that one of the aspects of this discussion that we completely forget about during this holiday is the principle that Paul espouses in Romans 14 and 15, as well as 1 Corinthians 8.  In matters that are not cut and dried, please hear my heart: allow one another to live out our individual consciences within the bounds of morally upright behavior and with love for one another. 

 

In other words, dressing up like a zombie hooker is probably not okay.  Getting completely smashed drunk is not okay.  I can point out particular biblical mandates there.  Holding a séance is not okay.  But is trick or treating forbidden?  Is dressing up not alright?  Can I allow my daughters to play dress-up every day of the year EXCEPT October 31st? (or my son, who has several Jedi costumes)

 

Please, whatever your position on this issue treat one another well.  Remember the words of Jesus in John 13:35, “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”  When we treat each other poorly it does not show the love of God to the world but rather makes us look pretty pathetic.

 

So this Halloween, treat one another well.  No tricks!

Wow…a feedback barrage! And a clarification

Well that last post touched a nerve for sure.  I think some people wondered if I was despondent or contemplating quitting.  (NO.  Not in the slightest.  I am right where God wants me, without a doubt, and happy as a clam) Whatever, the outpouring of encouragement and support has been tremendous.  Thanks to everyone for lifting my spirits!

Also, I want to make sure I am really clear.  I wasn’t fishing for compliments or pats on the back with my previous post.  Seriously, I am in fantastic shape emotionally, psychologically, and mentally. (physically is getting better too!)  I wanted to share how God took some stuff that I originally really struggled with and turned it into some amazing personal growth in my walk with Christ.

See, I honestly can say now that I am not sad that those families left our church.  I miss them, I really do.  They are friends, and it is never easy when friends misunderstand your intentions and choose to leave.   But God’s kingdom is WAY bigger than my church.  If they can serve Christ better and grow in Him more elsewhere, then who am I to be upset about that?  That is good for them and their family, and more importantly good for the kingdom of God.  God has really, truly led me (back) to the place where I want to see His kingdom grow rather than mine.  And for that, I am really grateful.

I forgot to add some of the blessings, too.  The roof is being handled by a friend of the church who is an attorney.  So we won’t need to pay the goofy company their demand.  Yay!  God is at work in so many amazing ways at church too.  The boy who went to ICU on Monday will come home tomorrow.  The friend going in for a biopsy found out that it was benign.  We have an elder who we have really missed coming back onto the elder board.  Family night starts back up in two weeks!  We have a couple of people who responded to our missions outreach.  I have been witness to Him healing at least one marriage recently. (still in progress, so pray if you would for this couple)

So please don’t hear “woe is me” in my last post.  Hear the story of how God took the stuff that I saw as poo poo and used it to fertilize the soil of my soul.  I just wanted to share the process, let you “behind the curtain” to realize that pastors are normal people too.  We have bad days at work, make bad judgments and occasionally get petty. (okay, more than occasionally)  We can take stuff personally that is really not meant that way.  Every now and again someone uses the pastor as a surrogate because they are upset with God; when they do it hurts.

With that, though, most pastors I know are really good people who really feel called of God to do what they do.  They want to serve the Lord by serving His people.  And I am one of them.  I am so privileged to be invited into people’s lives at the best and worst moments.  I get to dedicate their children, pronounce them husband and wife, pray with them when they are buying a home, visit them in the hospital when they are sick.  I get the joy of baptizing them, of mentoring and helping them commit to holiness and overcome sin.  What a joy to be a pastor.

Sometimes the road is bumpy, and I wanted to share that with you all.  I want to share much more, though, how much I love this road.  I am joyful this week, resting in the grace of God and looking for ways to make His kingdom a higher priority.  Thanks for taking the journey with me.

Okay, okay…I started a blog!

I resisted starting a blog for a long time. I mean, really, does the world need another blog? Aren’t there enough voices ringing out in the ingeniously-named blogosphere? (and who decided it was a sphere? Why isn’t it the blogocube or the blogododecahedron?) Do I think that I am unique enough or interesting enough that it is worth it to spend the time and energy to write about life and everything that goes with it? I mean, I write notes on facebook and send status updates and all that jazz; isn’t that enough?

More importantly, is this a good use of my time? Will Laura freak out that I am adding another task every week? (under the assumption that I will blog on a regular basis…not necessarily a great assumption) Will this impact my ability to waste time playing Bejeweled on facebook? Will it make enough of a difference to justify the investment? And, yeah, the big one…will it honor God or waste my time and thereby dishonor Him?

In the end, I decided that I needed to go for it. My motivation is my friend Christie and her very funny and also poignant blog on being a mom and wife and Christian. I am also challenged regularly by a couple of theological blogs that I read (namely Michael Spencer’s Internet Monk, Michael Patton’s Parchment and Pen and the excellent writing of Kent DelHousaye).

So here we are…a blog that will touch on a lot. I pastor a great church in Glendale, AZ; I teach part time at a Christian college; I study Ed Parker American Kenpo; I enjoy firearms; I have an amazing wife who is a doula and a homeschooling mom; I have four fantastic kids from 3-12. I have a goofy view on life because I like to laugh and try REALLY hard not to take myself too seriously. I hope to bring to light important issues I am facing, funny stories I live through, and hopefully thoughtful interaction with the issues of the day. For instance, the CA Supreme Court decision that will come down today…yeah, that will be a live grenade!

Thanks for taking the journey with me. My prayer is that this blog may help you build a biblical framework for living in a crazy world. 🙂

John