Halloween

Stop the Halloween Argument

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I've seen it again this year, all over my Facebook page, a near-constant stream of posts about the harmlessness or the harmfulness of Halloween. Many times these posts degenerate from a thoughtful conversation about the holiday to a judgmental argument, with neither side willing to grant the other side any grace.

And I have to tell you, it's getting old. The only thing this argument does, especially in as public a place as Facebook, is persuade people that Christ-followers are judgmental on both sides of the issue.

Here's the thing: The Bible does not clearly state one way or the other whether it's OK to dress up and take your kids out begging for candy from the neighbors one night a year. There is no eleventh commandment stating "Thou shalt not celebrate Halloween." There's also no clear direction stating that it's OK. It's a decision that each family has to make for themselves. It's really between each person and God.

Every family is different. Every kid is different. What influences my kid may not influence yours. What scares my kid may not scare yours. What my family sees as a fun, harmless activity, your family may see as a holiday with dark spiritual overtones.

I want to tell you that neither position is wrong. They're just different. And all the arguing and divisiveness, no matter which side of the issue you're on, is simply driving people away from Jesus. If we Christ-followers are so caught up in judging each other, imagine how that makes people who don't know Jesus feel. Imagine how they must wonder whether we're judging them, too.

While the Bible isn't super clear on Halloween, it is extremely clear about judging others. Romans 14:13 says, "Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way." This passage was talking about how the Christ-followers of the day were arguing about which foods were OK to eat, but the problem wasn't the food. The problem was that people on both sides of the argument were busy passing judgment on the others. The same is true today. All passing judgment on someone else's Halloween choices does is creates a stumbling block between our non-Christ-following friends and Jesus. And it teaches our kids that it's OK to judge others.

So, tomorrow night, whether you light up your house and hand out candy and take your kids door to door in their costumes or you choose to not participate in the holiday, don't judge the other side's choice. And let's stop passing judgment on each other on Facebook or  in the halls of the church. Instead, let's make our own decisions for our own families based on prayer and listening to what God has to say to us, and let's love on those who make different choices. Let's close the gap between our decisions with love instead of making it bigger with judgment. After all, that's what Jesus did.

 

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Revelations from a Halloween Costume

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My younger daughter finally decided on a Halloween costume yesterday. She wants to be Fozzie Bear from the Muppets. The costume is cute and age-appropriate (something difficult to find in this age of sexy teen and tween costumes), but it reminded me once again that this child, this daughter whom I love so much, is so very, very different from me.

There are days when I look at this 10-year-old child of mine, and I wonder if she really came from my gene pool. She looks nothing like me, and she thinks nothing like me. Every step she takes is marched to the beat of her own drum. And I have to tell you that as much as I love her, there are so many days that I don't understand her. I wish that for just one day, for just one hour even, I could get inside her head, so I can understand what makes her tick.

My older daughter is a lot like me in the way she thinks and the way she acts. I understand her. I understand what motivates her and what causes her pain. I understand why she gets upset and what makes her happy.

Not so with my younger daughter. So many times I'm left scratching my head wondering what is going on inside her brain and her heart.

And so, in the past 10 years, I've learned so much. I've learned that my expectations, all those dream castles I had built in the air when this younger daughter of mine was born, are the things that have to change. I've learned that while I don't always understand her, I can love her just the same. And I've learned that when we butt heads I may have as much compromising to do as she does.

Parenting a kid who is nothing like you, a kid who thinks differently, is motivated differently and has different ideas about the world, is a challenge. It's our tendency to be drawn to people who are most like us and to wonder why those who aren't can't be more like us. If you have more than one child, it's easy to begin to compare your child who is different to the others and wonder why that child can't be more like your others.

But trying to mold our kids into our own likeness or the likeness of one of our other children isn't fair. God created each one of our kids to fulfill a special purpose in His plan. He doesn't want them to be just like us because He doesn't need them to fill the same role as us. He doesn't need them to reach the same people as us. He doesn't have the same purpose for them as He has for us.

Sometimes, though, in the middle of a difficult day with our kids who don't fit the mold we imagined, we find ourselves longing for an easier task, maybe just one day where our child's drum stops beating and they can hear the beat that everyone else is marching to. But we're not called to change the beat of our child's drum. We're called to make sure that no matter what tempo they're marching to, they're marching on a path that leads to God.

Our kids aren't designed to be made in our image. They're designed in God's image, and we have to remember that. All those traits that are so different from our own are still part of God's image. They are fearfully and wonderfully made to be a reflection of Him.

So, this year, my daughter will be Fozzie Bear for Halloween. I'll smile and shake my head in wonder. And the next time my kids butt heads with me, I'll remember that those qualities that I don't understand, even the ones that drive me nuts, are gifts from God that will serve a purpose in her lives. And I'll remember that my kids don't have to live up to my expectations. They have to live up to God's.

Don't forget to enter our giveaway for a copy of Kids in the Word Be Thankful family Bible study. You can find the entry form here.

Debating Halloween Choices

Because I can't say it any better today than I said it when I first wrote this, enjoy this annual Halloween post.

There’s some strange-looking kids in the Fairchild house today. My youngest has been transformed into Cookie Monster and my oldest is looking like a hobo. Halloween is today, and we’ll be heading out to trick-or-treat.

It always seems when we hit this time of the year that divisions appear in the ranks of Christ followers. Some see nothing wrong with letting their kids trick or treat on Halloween while others want nothing to do with the holiday. Each side has good reasons for their decisions and can use scripture to back up those decisions.

The debate generally continues straight through Christmas with the discussions about whether including Santa Claus in your Christmas celebrations detracts from Jesus. Many times these divisions within the ranks of Christian parents can cause hurt feelings.

In our house, we trick or treat on Halloween, and Santa makes a visit to our home on Christmas Eve. But I have friends who do neither, and some who don’t trick or treat but think Santa is OK. So, who’s right and who’s wrong? In my opinion, no one.

The Bible is really clear about some things — murder is wrong, Christ is the only way to God, and Jesus died for our sins. However, it gives no clear direction on other things, like Santa and Halloween. In my opinion, you should do whatever you feel is best for your family, making sure you base your decisions on time spent in prayer and God’s word.

What we should not do, though, is judge others who may think differently. When Christ followers start judging each other on things on which there is no clear-cut answer, we break up the unity of the body of Christ.

Romans 14:13 speaks directly to that issue: “Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way.”  Our understanding of what causes a stumbling block to another person may differ, but if each of us is, to the best of our ability, trying to follow what God is telling us, then we have no right to judge one another.

This passage of scripture was addressing a difference of opinion over what foods to eat. Some people believed that Christians should only eat “clean” foods listed in the Law, while others believed that all food was permissible. The controversy was causing great division in the church. The problem was not the food, but the judgmental nature of the Christ-followers on each side of the issue.

While the points of division have changed, the problem remains among Christ-followers today. As we head toward the holiday season, starting with Halloween, keep this verse in your heart. Remember that while you may differ with another Christ-follower in how you approach the holidays, you are not to judge them. Instead, we are called to love each other.

Healthy debate of the issue is great and thought-provoking for all parties. Judgmental condemnation over an issue like this is hurtful and divisive. If you agree on the important stuff — Christ died to bridge the gap between our sinful selves and God, and He is the only way to God — then judging someone else on the small stuff serves no purpose.

So, whether you will have Sesame Street characters and hobos wandering your home or you will be ignoring the day altogether, be loving and respectful of those Christ-followers who make a different choice than you.

Linking up today with Women Living Well , A Wise Woman Builds Her Home and Word Filled Wednesday.

Memory Monday: Don't Judge (Romans 14:13)

My kids are out of school today, so I'm taking the day off from blogging. I'm re-running my Halloween post from last year because I think at this time of the year, it's important to keep our hearts from judging others. There's some strange-looking kids in the Fairchild house today. My youngest has been transformed into Alex Ovechkin (the hockey player) and my oldest is looking a bit like a Harry Potter character. Halloween is today, and we'll be heading out to trick-or-treat.

It always seems when we hit this time of the year that divisions appear in the ranks of Christ followers. Some see nothing wrong with letting their kids trick or treat on Halloween while others want nothing to do with the holiday. Each side has good reasons for their decisions and can use scripture to back up those decisions.

The debate generally continues straight through Christmas with the discussions about whether including Santa Claus in your Christmas celebrations detracts from Jesus. Many times these divisions within the ranks of Christian parents can cause hurt feelings.

In our house, we trick or treat on Halloween, and Santa makes a visit to our home on Christmas Eve. But I have friends who do neither, and some who don't trick or treat but think Santa is OK. So, who's right and who's wrong? In my opinion, no one.

The Bible is really clear about some things -- murder is wrong, Christ is the only way to God, and Jesus died for our sins. However, it gives no clear direction on other things, like Santa and Halloween. In my opinion, you should do whatever you feel is best for your family, making sure you base your decisions on time spent in prayer and God's word. What we should not do, though, is judge others who may think differently. When Christ followers start judging each other on things on which there is no clear-cut answer, we break up the unity of the body of Christ.

Today's verse speaks directly to that issue. "Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother's way" (Romans 14:13). Our understanding of what causes a stumbling block to another person may differ, but if each of us is, to the best of our ability, trying to follow what God is telling us, then we have no right to judge one another.

This passage of scripture was addressing a difference of opinion over what foods to eat. Some people believed that Christians should only eat "clean" foods listed in the Law, while others believed that all food was permissible. The controversy was causing great division in the church. The problem was not the food, but the judgmental nature of the Christ-followers on each side of the issue.

While the points of division have changed, the problem remains among Christ-followers today. As we head toward the holiday season, starting with Halloween, keep this verse in your heart. Remember that while you may differ with another Christ-follower in how you approach the holidays, you are not to judge them. Instead, we are called to love each other.

Healthy debate of the issue is great and thought-provoking for all parties. Judgmental condemnation over an issue like this is hurtful and divisive. If you agree on the important stuff -- Christ died to bridge the gap between our sinful selves and God, and He is the only way to God -- then judging someone else on the small stuff serves no purpose.

So, whether you will have hockey players and literary characters wandering your home or you will be ignoring the day altogether, be loving and respectful of those Christ-followers who make a different choice than you.