Friday, October 29, 2010

Hallowed or Harmful?

A Christian Perspective on Halloween
By Katie Cochran Winter 2007

Hundreds of years before the birth of Christ, the Celts, inhabitants of Britain and Ireland, observed a festival on October 31. Unlike modern-day Halloween, theirs was no children's holiday. The Celts and their priests, the Druids, celebrated Samhain, a festival that marked the eve of the Celtic New Year, which began on November 1.
The fall harvest was complete and winter loomed ahead. The Celts believed the power of the sun was fading. For the next several months, darkness would prevail. The Celts also believed that during Samhain the veil separating the living from the dead was at its thinnest. They thought that on the evening of October 31, evil spirits and the souls of the dead passed through the barrier and entered the world of the living. Departed family members could revisit their earthly homes. The thought was frightening – and exciting!
These druids thought that dead souls could torment the living. Crops might be destroyed, babies stolen, farm animals killed. But this was also an opportunity to commune with the spirits -- and divine the future. The Devil, the lord of darkness, was ordinarily feared, but during Samhain, his power could be called on to foretell the future.
The Druids were charged with appeasing the goblins and preventing harm to the people. Huge Samhain bonfires were lit to guide the way of the spirits. Various sacrifices -- including human -- were performed to assure a good year. Several ancient authors comment on the gory religious rites of the Druids.
It is believed that, like many pagan cultures around the world, the Celts left out food for the spirits, hoping that a "treat" would prevent an evil "trick."
Centuries later, the descendants of the Celts continued to observe the Samhain festival by dressing as evil spirits. They roamed from house to house demanding food in exchange for the "spirits" leaving the home unharmed. They carved demon faces in hollowed-out turnips and lit them with candles. That night they also practiced many customs designed to foretell the future. Young people roasted nuts in Samhain fires to see which would crack first -- and tell them who they would marry. The person who retrieved an apple with his mouth from a tub of water assured himself of a lucky year. Obviously some of these customs (like "apple-bobbing") have remained with us, strictly as amusement.
When Christianity began to spread through Europe in the third and fourth centuries, the pagan temples were torn down. But pagan worship never completely disappeared. The festival of Samhain remained a primary pagan celebration.
Belief in spirits may have waned, but many of the old Samhain traditions continued to be practiced -- especially by the children. Primarily in Ireland, children dressed as spirits went from house to house demanding a treat. If they received none, they performed an unwelcomed trick. They were acting the part of evil spirits that had to be appeased, rather than trying to appease real spirits, as their fathers had done.
In the 700s AD the Church decided to combat this festival by replacing it with a celebration of the Lord of life. Instead of honoring evil spirits and the souls of the dead, the church chose to recognize the saints -- or hallowed ones -- who had lived godly lives. The Church seemed to be saying, "All right, if you must have a day to celebrate the dead, then celebrate those who died and are now with the Lord."
So November 1 came to be called All Saints' Day, also called All Hallows' Day. The evening before was called All Hallows' Evening. From this we get the modern name of Halloween. But pagan customs persisted. And with the growth of witchcraft in the Middle Ages, additional symbols became associated with Halloween -- black cats, witches, bats, and skulls.
Irish immigrants in the mid-1800s brought to America the Halloween customs we're familiar with -- costumes, trick-or-treat, and carved Jack-o-lanterns. Interestingly, the Jack-o-lantern is simply an American version of the hollowed-out turnip, mentioned earlier. The pumpkin did not grow in Ireland and Britain. Unfortunately, the madcap Irish also brought "tricks" with them -- which often involved breaking windows and over-turning sheds and outhouses.
Even though the practice of actually performing a trick if no treat is given has faded, the custom of children going "trick-or-treating" has become an established American tradition. Only in recent years have parents hesitated to send their children into the streets because of the increasing danger of accidents, poisoned food, and menacing strangers. Nonetheless, despite the dangers associated with trick-or-treating, Halloween is celebrated more than ever. In fact, the night is the second most popular party night of the year (after December 31) for "baby-boomer" adults. Many adults view Halloween as the one night of the year they can dress up and act foolish.
But while children and adults innocently imitate ancient Celtic customs, darker practices persist. Witches and Satanists still consider Halloween to be one of the strongest times during the year to cast a spell. On Halloween most witchcraft practitioners participate in a ritual called "drawing down the moon." In this the chief witch of the coven (group of witches) becomes, they believe, a channel for the moon goddess. During this ritual the participants, both male and female, are 'sky-clad" -- that is, naked. Stonehenge, the mysterious ancient stone formation in England, is often the site for bizarre gatherings of occultists, some of who believe they are modern-day Druids. Many scholars believe that Stonehenge was a Druid religious site. In horrible addition, some Satanist and voodoo groups offer sacrifices -- usually animals, but, possibly, human babies—in honor of death.
Witches and Satanists are, of course, a small minority. Few people who currently celebrate Halloween ever think about the darkness that underlies most October 31st practices. A beaming child dressed in a black pointed hat and matching gown -- with a wart carefully drawn on her nose and a trick-or-treat bag held tightly in her hand -- is hardly thinking of death or the spirits of departed relatives. Nor should she be. She's thinking of candy and fun. She's glowing because of her delight in her special costume. And she's anticipating the adventure of her house-to-house pilgrimage. Merchants also look forward to October 31. The sale of candy, costumes, decorations, and party goods make Halloween one of the major retail seasons of the year.
Surely, no one can deny children or adults all the Halloween fun simply because of its unsavory history. Can there really be anything wrong with this lighthearted revelry?
Does the Bible have anything to say about celebrating Halloween? In Corinth, meat that had been sacrificed to idols was sold on the market.  People would buy and eat the offered meat to honor whatever pagan god they favored.  Speaking of his freedom to eat food that a pagan had dedicated to an idol, the apostle Paul said, "Everything is permissible" (I Corinthians 10:23). After all, he didn't believe the pagan gods really existed. If we apply Paul's statement to the celebration of Halloween, then one could argue that Christians can dress in ghostly costumes and practice the traditions passed down from the ancient Celts. After all, the supernatural powers they tried to appease don't have power over those who belong to Christ.
The Bible says that Jesus destroyed the power of death when He went to the cross. By Jesus' death and resurrection, anyone who gives his or her life to Jesus doesn't need to fear evil. But Paul didn't stop with a statement of his freedom. He said, "'Everything is permissible -- but not everything is beneficial." It is in this light that Christians need to examine how to observe Halloween.
What may not hurt you may hurt others. Paul said that it wouldn't harm a Christian to eat meat sacrificed to an idol. After all, the pagan gods that the meat had been sacrificed to weren't real gods. In the same light, he probably would say that Christians are not prohibited from dressing in costumes and going trick-or-treating or attending Halloween parties. After all, "We know that an idol is nothing at all in the world and that there is no God but one" (I Corinthians 8:4).
But Paul went on to say that by doing what the believer was free in the Lord to do, said believer may be distressing another who doesn't realize he has this freedom. "Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak" (I Corinthians 8:9). The weak ones would be those who still had problems with the idea of eating the food sacrificed to idols. Little children in particular are the “weak” ones. On TV, in movies, in school, and with their playmates, many children today are exposed to occult influences. We may be opening our children to these influences if we approve of these things in Halloween fun. We adults may be fully aware that we are only spoofing witches and ghosts, but the young many not be so sure.
If we have given our lives to Jesus Christ, then our eternal destiny is safe in the hands of Almighty God. But that's not true of some or most of the people around us. There is a valid reason for individuals to fear a "lord of death" -- even if they don't take him seriously on Halloween. We who have found life in Jesus should be careful that our freedom doesn't hinder others from finding that same eternal life.
Some “permissible” things may hinder Christian growth. The Bible encourages us to "throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus" (Hebrews 12:1-2). This one night of the year, most eyes are fixed not on Jesus, but on a darker image. The Christian's "race of faith" leads him to eternal life, to a joy that has no shadow. Should we really be focusing on the devil, witches and other dark beings, even for one night?
God says, "When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there. Let no one be found among you who...practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium, or spiritist or who consults the dead. (Deuteronomy 18:9-11).
If our children dress as witches and sorcerers, if we hang cardboard ghosts in our windows, if we entertain with tales of ghouls and haunted houses -- what are we doing but imitating that which is evil? We need to make it clear as Christians that witches and evil spirits are not funny and are not harmless, even if the people in witch costumes are only play-acting.
Are There Alternatives? As Christians, we have plenty of reason to celebrate. While the world around us focuses on activities honoring fear and death, we can celebrate the One who brings life. The following ideas might help you celebrate October 31 in ways that are joyful for you and your family:
1. Celebrate All Saints' Day
Some Protestants shy away from honoring saints. Their reluctance generally is based on a fear that the honor will cross the line into worship or prayer to saints. We are to worship and pray to no one but God. However, there is a good biblical basis for looking to those who have faithfully followed God in the past: Hebrews 11 has a roll call of believers who have set examples for us. But in his Letters to the Corinthians, Paul makes it abundantly clear that he and other saints are only servants -- men and women like us who are following God. And it is God and God alone to whom we look in our worship and prayers. But with nearly 2000 years of church history, we can well remember many faithful believers whose lives can encourage us in our walk with the Lord. These can include not only famous figures from the church's history, but also the saints we have known personally -- people in our own family and church who are now with the lord. While the Celts trembled at the thought of their departed kin returning on Samhain, we can celebrate Halloween and All Saints Day by joyfully recalling our own departed saints. In addition, Christians from many Protestant traditions may want to recall that October 31 is also Reformation Day, celebrating Martin Luther's beginning the Reformation by posting his "Ninety-five Theses" on the church door.
2. Have a different kind of party.
You can have a fall harvest party, an All Saint's Day party, or simply a costume party. Have children (and maybe adults too) dress up as biblical characters and/or figures from Christian history. Or find some other positive theme. Some Christians plan a "Fools for Christ" party (see I Corinthians 4:10). This involves costumes and fun, but none of the traditional symbols of death and witchcraft. Whatever you choose, avoid the usual Halloween symbols in decorations and activities. The way to "celebrate the dead" is by honoring God's saints, already in heaven, part of the body of Christ of which the living saints are a part.
3. Hold a Bible study on what God says about the occult and witchcraft, and pray for those under the dominion of Satan. This might be especially good for teenagers, since they are probably coming into frequent contact with influences of this type. In recent years there has been an amazing growth of witchcraft and Satanism in the U.S.  Human kind want desperately to worship something; and we can pray that on Halloween, instead of the focus being on death and destruction, people everywhere will celebrate new life in Christ, and the honoring of victorious saints.

Thursday, October 28, 2010


Issues and Events Newsletter

The Five Scariest Things
You Can Do This Halloween

The fear of the Lord is to hate evil. (Proverbs 8:13)
By Doug Phillips
Our country is in the grip of a fear crisis. The tension because of this fear is almost palpable. There is fear over elections, fear over the economy, and fear over hundreds of other issues ranging from the environment to terrorism.
The one fear that America is missing is a fear of the Lord. As a people, we no longer fear God. Because we do not fear God, we no longer hate evil (Proverbs 8:13).
Instead of hating evil, Americans toy with it. We toy with holidays like Halloween that were conceived in evil and that promote the “cute-ification” of evil, whether that evil takes the form of witchcraft, sorcery, ghoulishness, or some other form of malevolent imagery paraded before our children. We laugh at the very things that the Lord describes as “abominations,” and we find ourselves obsessively fascinated by, and attracted to, all things dark.
Yet we do not fear the Lord.
Those who “hate evil” are very scary to a secular society that fears man more than God. They are scary because they dare to declare that there are absolute standards by which society must be governed. They are scary because, if they are successful, industries like Hollywood that make billions of dollars by promoting ungodly fear will lose their influence. They are scary because such people will not be swayed by political candidates who use fear as a tool for manipulation.
With this in mind, I offer you the five “scariest” things you can do this Halloween:
  1. The scariest thing you can do this Halloween is to not make light of evil. Halloween was conceived in evil and has remained a celebration that uses children to promote a fascination with darkness and superstitious fear. Simultaneously, it makes light of things that the Bible describes as evil. Stand against such things, and the world will find you very scary indeed. The fear of the Lord makes men turn from evil (Proverbs 16:6).
  2. The scariest thing you can do this Halloween is to not be fearful. The media wants you to be afraid of everything from overpopulation to global warming. The politicians want you to be afraid of the economy and political instability. God wants you to do what is morally right, trust Him completely, and never be gripped by an ungodly spirit of fear. You can place your trust and hope for this nation in the King of Kings. Jesus said: “And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him” (Luke 12:4-5). Believe this, and you will be light to the world.
  3. The scariest thing you can do this Halloween is to completely skip Halloween and remember Reformation Day. It was 493 years ago that Martin Luther nailed his world-changing 95 Theses to the door of the Wittenberg church. These theses included rebukes to ungodly fear and superstition. 501 years ago, sometime near October 31, a baby named John Calvin was conceived who would dedicate his life to eradicating an ungodly fear of superstitious beliefs and proclaiming the gospel of grace. His emphasis on reformation, revival, and the sufficiency of Scripture had such far-reaching implications for nations like the United States that he has been described by Christian and secular scholars alike as the true founding father of America. The Reformers did something that was very scary to the world of their day. They stood against all forms of dark superstitions which grip the minds and souls of men. It was their emphasis on the fear of the Lord and the wisdom of Holy Scripture that was used by God to liberate untold numbers of men and women. But to remember the Reformers instead of Halloween is very scary to the world. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 9:10).
  4. The scariest thing you can do this Halloween is to refuse to watch or allow your children to watch any of the toxic Halloween and horror films emerging from Hollywood. America’s fascination with ungodly fear has made horror the most popular and fastest-growing film genre amoung youth. When parents allow their children to toy with this genre, they promote ungodly fear, and they contribute to the fear-factories in Hollywood that prey upon the youth of our culture. Say “no” to Hollywood horror and you will be dangerously scary to the media elite. “Fear ye not me? saith the Lord: will ye not tremble at my presence....?” (Jeremiah 5:22).
  5. The scariest thing you can do this Halloween is to get on your knees as a mother and father and pray that the Lord will send you many, children who will fear God, not man — children who will especially shun the glorification of witchcraft, the bondage of ungodly fear, and the “cute-ification” of evil that is promoted through holidays like Halloween. Cultures that toy with evil end up being cultures of death. The Christian response is to be a people of life. That means babies. It means fearing God by honoring His command to “be fruitful and multiply.” It means remembering that the Scripture describes children as a “blessing” and a “reward.” Raise children that fear God more than man, and that will be answer enough to our Halloween- and darkness-obsessed culture; for if you trust God over your womb and commit your children to a holy education, you will be very scary to the modern world. “Come, my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord” (Psalm 34:11).
Taken from Doug Philips Web address

Monday, October 25, 2010

REALLY Smart Janitors and Waiters

Why Did 17 Million Students Go to College?

October 20, 2010, 9:53 am

By Richard Vedder

Two sets of information were presented to me in the last 24 hours that have dramatically reinforced my feeling that diminishing returns have set in to investments in higher education, with increasing evidence suggesting that we are in one respect “overinvesting” in the field. First, following up on information provided by former student Douglas Himes at the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), my sidekick Chris Matgouranis showed me the table reproduced below (And for more see this).

Over 317,000 waiters and waitresses have college degrees (over 8,000 of them have doctoral or professional degrees), along with over 80,000 bartenders, and over 18,000 parking lot attendants. All told, some 17,000,000 Americans with college degrees are doing jobs that the BLS says require less than the skill levels associated with a bachelor’s degree.

I have long been a proponent of Charles Murray’s thesis that an increasing number of people attending college do not have the cognitive abilities or other attributes usually necessary for success at higher levels of learning. As more and more try to attend colleges, either college degrees will be watered down (something already happening I suspect) or drop-out rates will rise.

The relentless claims of the Obama administration and others that having more college graduates is necessary for continued economic leadership is incompatible with this view. Putting issues of student abilities aside, the growing disconnect between labor market realities and the propaganda of higher-education apologists is causing more and more people to graduate and take menial jobs or no job at all. This is even true at the doctoral and professional level—there are 5,057 janitors in the U.S. with Ph.D.’s, other doctorates, or professional degrees.

This week an extraordinarily interesting new study was posted on the Web site of America’s most prestigious economic-research organization, the National Bureau of Economic Research. Three highly regarded economists (one of whom has won the Nobel Prize in Economic Science) have produced “Estimating Marginal Returns to Education,” Working Paper 16474 of the NBER. After very sophisticated and elaborate analysis, the authors conclude “In general, marginal and average returns to college are not the same.” (p. 28)

In other words, even if on average, an investment in higher education yields a good, say 10 percent, rate of return, it does not follow that adding to existing investments will yield that return, partly for reasons outlined above. The authors (Pedro Carneiro, James Heckman, and Edward Vytlacil) make that point explicitly, stating “Some marginal expansions of schooling produce gains that are well below average returns, in general agreement with the analysis of Charles Murray.”  (p.29)

Now it is true that college has a consumption as well as investment function. People often enjoy going to classes, just as they enjoy watching movies or taking trips. They love the socialization dimensions of schooling—particularly in this age of the country-clubization of American universities. They may improve their self-esteem by earning a college degree. Yet, at a time when resources are scarce, when American governments are running $1.3-trillion deficits, when we face huge unfunded liabilities associated with commitments made to our growing elderly population, should we be subsidizing increasingly problematic educational programs for students whose prior academic record would suggest little likelihood of academic, much less vocational, success?

I think the American people understand, albeit dimly, the logic above. Increasingly, state governments are cutting back  higher-education funding, thinking it is an activity that largely confers private benefits. The pleas of university leaders and governmental officials for more and more college attendance appear to be increasingly costly and unproductive forms of special pleading by a sector that abhors transparency and performance measures.

Higher education is on the brink of big change, like it or not.

Christopher Matgouranis helped enormously in preparing this posting.
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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Called to Sight

I was reading Mark 10 this morning in my quiet time, and tears came to my eyes as I read this section...

"...Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the roadside. And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, "Son of David, have mercy on me!" And Jesus stopped and said, "Call him." And they called the blind man, saying to him, "Take heart. Get up; he is calling you."

No matter what you're going through, what you've done, what rules you've broken; no matter how blind you may be, or how feeble--Jesus is calling you. He HAS indeed called his children! So take heart, get up, and live this life he has given us with a joyful heart for what Christ has done forever for our very souls--releasing us from our spiritual blindness and giving new life eternal.

Praise God!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

To Know

"All I once held dear, built my life upon
all this world revers, and wars to own
all I once thought gain, I have counted loss
spent and worthless now, compared to this...

Knowing you, Jesus, knowing you
there is no greater thing
You're my all, you're the best
You're my joy, my righteousness
and I love you Lord

Oh to know the power of your risen life
And to know you in your sufferings
To become like you, in your death my Lord
So with you to live, and never die!

Knowing you, Jesus, knowing you
there is no greater thing
You're my all, you're the best,
You're my joy, my righteousness
and I love you Lord

Now my heart's desire is to know you more
to be found in you, and known as yours
to possess by faith what I could not earn
all surpassing gift of righteousness!

Knowing you, Jesus, knowing you
there is no greater thing
You're my all, you're the best
You're my joy, my righteousness
And I love you Lord...."

Music and Words by Sovereign Grace Ministries

Thank you Jesus....

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


"For the Lord gives wisdom;
from his mouth come knowledge and understanding;
he stores up sound wisdom for the upright;
he is a shield to those who walk in integrity,
guarding the paths of justice
and watching over the way of his saints.
Then you will understand
righteousness and justice
and equity, every good path;
for wisdom will come into your heart,
and knowledge will be pleasant to
your soul;
discretion will watch over you,
understanding will guard you,
delivering you from the way of evil,
from men of perverted speech,
who forsake the paths of uprightness
to walk in the ways of darkness,
who rejoice in doing evil
and delight in the perverseness of evil,
men whose paths are crooked,
and who are devious in their ways."

Proverbs 2:6-16

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Studying Eschotology Part 2

Wow, this book just gets more and more interesting! I am thoroughly enjoying it. To clarify, the book is The Bible and the Future by Anthony Hoekema. OK let's dive right in... I will mention page numbers in the future to be more helpful in the event you own the book.

When Paul talks about the "old man" being renewed and becoming a "new man" (Romans 12:2) the author makes an interesting connection to "old age" and " new age." Before Jesus we were in the old age--dead and unable to live in Christ. Here in the "new age" and "last days" we are new people! I always took those verses to mean old = sinful life (before Jesus saved me) and new = new life (after being saved by Jesus' blood). But I suppose they are fundamentally the same thing--in fact, I am now convinced that they are precisely the same thing! Just as Jesus separates the old and new ages by his death and resurrection, so the old and new man is separated by what Christ did on the cross! This especially makes perfect sense for reformed/Calvinist thinkers who believe that the VERY SECOND Jesus died, all of his chosen people were made new and their sins were gone FOREVER. Cool!

"The world is often better than we expect it to be, where as the church is often worse than we expect it to be."
-Abraham Kuyper
God works ALL events in history together for the ultimate good because his plans are always and only GOOD.

The author makes rather a bold claim regarding John the Baptist and Jesus. In Matt. 3:12 John is preaching before Jesus comes, and says that the one to come will, "burn the chaff with fire and save sinners." Later in Matt. 11 John questions Jesus when he's in prison, saying "are you the one who was to come, or should we look for another?" The author chooses to interpret these passages as directly related. To paraphrase the author's own words, John was wondering why Jesus wasn't burning up the sinners (so fulfilling John's prophecy in Matt 3) and bringing a better life to the righteous. He wanted to see some blood, so to speak. And he was anxious for this to happen on this earth, and so sent Jesus a message wondering if he truly was the one whom John had spoken about in Matt. 3. While this interpretation is by no means out of the question, the author almost acts like there is no other interpretation to be considered, and uses his interpretation to deal with a seemingly positive assurance of judgment coming soon, so neutralizing it.
My personal opinion is that John was simply a little low in prison (who can blame him) and wondered why Jesus, his blood cousin, didn't help him out--start a little revolution or something against Herod. John always struck me as a marvelous DOER. Someone who knew the job and got it done with no dilly dallying or shenanigans. He just got in there and got the job done. I can relate because my personality is similar. But Jesus defied the "wisdom" of a revolution and came instead with love and worked on people's HEARTS rather than directly addressing their political condition. And this probably threw pragmatic John for a loop!
I also disagree with the author that Jesus did not fulfill John's prophecy by "saving sinners and burning the chaff." I believe the moment Jesus died, he saved every sinner who was his own, and condemned every person who was not his own to "unquenchable fire," just as John said he would in Matt 3. Another instance where one's denomination will heavily influence how one interprets a passage... 
Again, I am not saying the author is WRONG, just pointing out a concern that he seems to leave no room for debate and make a bold claim. Perhaps I misunderstood the author's paragraph on this topic. :)

The author does an excellent job here of explaining succinctly how the kingdom of God is HERE among us now, yet not fully "out in the open" so to speak. I agree!

I end with a wonderful quote by the author and Kuyper:
"As Abraham Kuyper once said, 'There is not a thumb-breadth of the universe about which Christ does not say, "It's mine."' This implies a Christian philosophy of history: all of history must be seen as the working out of God's eternal purpose. This kingdom vision includes a Christian philosophy of culture: art and science reflect the glory of God and are therefore to be pursued for his praise. It also includes a Christian view of vocation: all callings are from God and all that we do in everyday life is to be done to God's praise, whether this be study, teaching, preaching, business, industry, or housework."

Friday, October 8, 2010


“Throughout history you see families either bringing Christ, or bringing wickedness, wherever they go. Families, mind, NOT government, or even the church, but families… It starts with families.” –Marshall Foster

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Studying Eschotology Part 1

A good friend and I got into a discussion on eschatology and fulfillment of prophecies, etc. The end of it was, that he lent me this book called The Bible and the Future by Anthony Hoekema. Well, actually it was very far from the end of it; in fact, it was the beginning :) Anyway, I have been working my way through it, and decided that I'd blog my thoughts. Be warned, this is a deep subject. If I lose anyone, let me know, and I will try to simplify what I'm saying. As a farther disclaimer, I am not the most clever at writing about these deep subjects, so if I am not clear or seem to be presenting faulty ideas, just shoot me an email or leave me a comment (either one is fine) and ask me what I mean!! OK, let's dive in...

This book is meant to expound on what the Bible has to say about the future, and passages relating to the final coming of Christ. Which prophecies are already fulfilled and which ones have yet to be fulfilled. I will directly quote the author a lot of times (in italics), and then expound on what the author said in my own words.

Even as the Jews looked FORWARD to the coming of Jesus, his name was called "Immanuel" which means "God WITH us"! Despite the fact that Jesus had not yet been born, he is referred to as "God with us." To me that was profound. That as the Jews waited for the Messiah, God was already with them, even though Jesus had not yet come to earth... I thought that was cool!

The old covenant is "fading away" (Hebrews 8) BECAUSE the Israelites broke it! A covenant stands only so long as both parties keep it. If one party breaks covenant, the other party is no longer obligated to keep said covenant! So the old covenant was broken and is no more--but the new covenant, with God as one party, and us IN Christ Jesus as the other party, will never be broken because Christ makes intercession for us to the Father. Wow!! Praise God! Jeremiah 31:31-32 also speaks on this subject...

The author made a claim on page 9 about "prophetic perspective" that I found most interesting, and honestly am not sure I agree with... He says that "Prophetic perspective is a phenomenon where a prophet sees in a single vision events actually separated by thousands of years." The author didn't really give any proof for this opinion, so I am still waiting for some :)

"And I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke. The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the Lord has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the Lord calls." -Joel 2:30-32
The author takes this passage and applies it to the final day of God--where all men on earth are judged and a new earth takes place of the old one. But I think this could be referring to another event. According to the writings of Josephus and the Roman general Tacitus, these very things (bloody sky, smoke, sun darkened) happened in the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD. The reason I think this passage is referring to 70 AD and NOT the end of time, is because verse 32 refers directly to Mount Zion and Jerusalem. I believe they are referred to in a literal sense. If this is the "final day of the Lord"--the end of time, then it wouldn't say Mount Zion or Jerusalem, but simply the whole world, right? I do not agree with the author in his interpretation of this verse, but that's OK as I agree with him on many other matters :) And I also could be wrong, it is just my opinion! Interestingly enough, the same exact words are used in Matthew 24 where Jesus says that "this generation will not pass away before these things take place."

I was and still sort of am overall disturbed with the author's lack of mentioning Revelation, the Fall of Jerusalem, and 70 AD. He did not mention Revelation at all  until page 65! To me this is an interesting tactic. Revelation is the most eschotological book in the entire Bible (according to most people). If the author did not agree with this, he did not say so, but simply ignored it until page 65... Anyway, the author quotes many of the New Testament passages talking about the last days (Peter and Hebrews) and even says John must have been one of the later writers as he goes so far as to speak of a last hour. But the last days before what exactly, is my question for the author..? Surely they could not have been referring to the VERY END of the world as we know it, since that still hasn't happened, and the apostles were writing about it as if it was about to happen. And since Jesus had already come, my conclusion yet again is that they are speaking of 70 AD and the Fall of Jerusalem. For your information, there was a longish gap right after the fall of Jerusalem, and there are NO writings recorded from any godly person, which makes me believe the righteous were taken up to heaven, as Jesus said they would be after the tribulation (Matt 24).

I think that is enough for now. I hope I've given you some food for thought, and I also pray that I have glorified God through my typing. This is all for him and his glory--I TRULY want to know the RIGHT way and what God really meant when he inspired those men to write all those prophecies. I have tried to simply attribute all of the "day of the Lord" prophecies to the FINAL coming of Christ, but I cannot reconcile some of the wording--especially how Jesus says that certain things will take place SOON and within the generation he is speaking to.

God bless, and stay tuned, as I only reached page 20 through the above thoughts, and I am on like page 105, so I have some catching up to do!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

What is PLEASING to the Lord?

I have decided to go back and edit some of my old, short highschool papers, and then share them on this blog! I am starting with a subject I feel very strongly about: Courtship versus Dating. I won't say more, since my "persuasive" paper is supposed to outline my position. :) I welcome your feedback!

Courtship VS Dating
By Katie Cochran ~ September 13th 2007

            Dating or courtship, which course is more Biblical? The culture we live in promotes and even encourages dating, while courtship is a dying flame. In the 1800s, the accepted course for a man interested in a woman was to ask the woman’s father, get the okay from the woman herself as well, and then come and visit the house where she lived, getting to know her, seeing if she was “the one.” But the fore mentioned method has faded almost to non-existence, and if you say the word courtship many people, including Christians, will look at you like you are from another planet. The modern “thing” is definitely not courtship! It is considered “old-fashioned” and “primitive.” Despite courtship’s unpopularity, it is Biblical, and promotes a healthier marriage.
            Dating, according to the Webster online Dictionary, is “An appointment for a particular time. A social appointment, engagement, or occasion arranged with a [my emphasis] person of the opposite sex. To go out on usually romantic dates.” Dating occurs between two people only, and they are of the opposite sex. So what you essentially have in dating are two people going out, mostly at night, alone. 
            Courtship, from the same dictionary, is defined as this: “To seek the affections of. To seek to win a pledge of marriage from. To seek an alliance with. To engage in social activities leading to engagement and marriage.” Notice that the definition of dating never mentions marriage, while the definition for courtship most certainly does! When a Christian courtship is begun, the man and woman involved should have a mutual understanding that they are friends who like and have an interest in each other. The focus is that they get to know each other; becoming good friends and caring for one another as brother and sister in the Lord with purity, godliness, and kindness. These two should pray for and encourage one other to walk in the ways of God and pursue intimacy with Him to become the man and woman of God he created them to be. They are giving it a try; they are listening; they are yielding to Jesus Christ for the direction of their relationship. God may want them to marry; He may want them to each marry somebody else. And there is always the possibility that God would have them serve him as singles. Whatever life path has been appointed for them, the man and woman should be waiting patiently on God, aligning themselves with purity, holiness, and the Word of God. The man and woman should have a mature understanding that if the courtship does not work out, they should part as friends, without resentment and with all due respect for each other’s feelings. It’s all about God, not the individuals! The man and woman must put their hope in God and let go of their desires.
            Although it may not be “hip” and “cool”, courtship is Biblical. Would you say that God “dated” his people? Of course not! He didn’t try out the Assyrians, and then move on to the Egyptians (or any other group of people). From the first he chose a lowly tent-dweller named Abraham… And he’s pursued a people for himself ever since. Never has he dropped his people, or tired of them.
            And we see that repeated in the Bible over and over again. Despite his people’s ungratefulness, God continued to pursue the relationship all throughout the Old Testament. Look at Boaz and Ruth in the book of Ruth. Boaz was attracted to Ruth, but he didn’t ask her on a date! He went to Ruth’s nearest kinsman and proposed a marriage because he saw a woman he wanted to spend the rest of his life with, and accordingly got down to business to secure her—just like God did for us.
            It’s easy to get carried away while alone with another person, to let emotions rule over what is right. Dating can even become an emotional “fix”; an activity that people need in their lives to feel loved and secure. Oftentimes, purity is violated during and/or after a date. One or both people probably walk away fantasizing about the other person; again, I don’t know everyone’s thoughts, but thinking comes natural to the human brain. And even during the date, it’s easy to think, “one little kiss won’t hurt” but kissing was meant to awaken passion, not be an individual action. And think about this, you are most likely kissing someone else’s husband or wife. What if you’re happily married to someone else someday and you see this person again; wouldn’t it be hard to act natural around them? The bottom line is that being alone with someone from the opposite sex for romantic purposes (dates) invites thoughts and maybe even actions that aren’t pure. God made us this way, he wants us to have feelings for one of the opposite sex, but only in the context of marriage, as the Bible so clearly states. “Sadly, dating today directly leads—almost universally—to premarital relations. ‘Leads to’ is probably not even the right term, because ‘dates’ today often involve said ungodly behavior on the first date! Actually, more often than not, immorality is the expected norm as part of the first date, and most of the ‘dates’ that follow.”1
            The older, more proven Biblical model of courtship will lead to a healthier marriage, free from the guilt of the “break-up” mentality, and past emotional attachments of casual dating.
“For once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light. Live as children of light—for the fruit of the light is found in all that is good and right and true. Try to find out what is pleasing to the Lord.”
-Ephesians 5:8-10

Article on Dating and Courtship by David C. Pack

Monday, October 4, 2010


Want a Good Night's Sleep? Then Never Do These Things Before Bed

Posted By Dr. Mercola | October 02 2010 | 79,777 views

By Dr. Mercola
Sleep is one of the great mysteries of life. Like gravity or the quantum field, we still don’t understand exactly why we sleep—although we are learning more about it every day.
We do know, however, that good sleep is one of the cornerstones of health.
Six to eight hours per night seems to be the optimal amount of sleep for most adults, and too much or too little can have adverse effects on your health.
Sleep deprivation is such a chronic condition these days that you might not even realize you suffer from it. Science has now established that a sleep deficit can have serious, far reaching effects on your health.
For example, interrupted or impaired sleep can:
  • Dramatically weaken your immune system
  • Accelerate tumor growth—tumors grow two to three times faster in laboratory animals with severe sleep dysfunctions
  • Cause a pre-diabetic state, making you feel hungry even if you’ve already eaten, which can wreak havoc on your weight
  • Seriously impair your memory; even a single night of poor sleep—meaning sleeping only 4 to 6 hours—can impact your ability to think clearly the next day
  • Impair your performance on physical or mental tasks, and decrease your problem solving ability
When your circadian rhythms are disrupted, your body produces less melatonin (a hormone AND an antioxidant) and has less ability to fight cancer, since melatonin helps suppress free radicals that can lead to cancer. This is why tumors grow faster when you sleep poorly.
Impaired sleep can also increase stress-related disorders, including:
  • Heart disease
  • Stomach ulcers
  • Constipation
  • Mood disorders like depression
Sleep deprivation prematurely ages you by interfering with your growth hormone production, normally released by your pituitary gland during deep sleep (and during certain types of exercise, such as Peak Fitness Technique). Growth hormone helps you look and feel younger.
One study has even shown that people with chronic insomnia have a three times greater risk of dying from any cause.
Lost sleep is lost forever, and persistent lack of sleep has a cumulative effect when it comes to disrupting your health. Poor sleep can make your life miserable, as most of you probably know.
The good news is, there are many natural techniques you can learn to restore your “sleep health.”
Whether you have difficulty falling asleep, waking up too often, or feeling inadequately rested when you wake up in the morning—or maybe you simply want to improve the quality of your sleep—you are bound to find some relief from my tips and tricks below.
**If you are interested in more information about sleep or any of the 33 items listed, I invite you to delve into the links that follow, which are grouped by subject.

Optimizing Your Sleep Sanctuary

  1. Sleep in complete darkness, or as close to it as possible. Even the tiniest bit of light in the room can disrupt your internal clock and your pineal gland's production of melatonin and serotonin. Even the tiniest glow from your clock radio could be interfering with your sleep. This will help decrease your risk of cancer.  Close your bedroom door, and get rid of night-lights. Refrain from turning on any light at all during the night, even when getting up to go to the bathroom. Cover up your clock radio.
  2. Cover your windows—I recommend using blackout shades or drapes.
    All life evolved in response to predictable patterns of light and darkness, called circadian rhythms. Modern day electrical lighting has significantly betrayed your inner clock by disrupting your natural rhythms. Little bits of light pass directly through your optic nerve to your hypothalamus, which controls your biological clock.
    Light signals your brain that it’s time to wake up and starts preparing your body for ACTION.
  3. Keep the temperature in your bedroom no higher than 70 degrees F. Many people keep their homes and particularly their upstairs bedrooms too warm. Studies show that the optimal room temperature for sleep is quite cool, between 60 to 68 degrees. Keeping your room cooler or hotter can lead to restless sleep.
    When you sleep, your body’s internal temperature drops to its lowest level, generally about four hours after you fall asleep. Scientists believe a cooler bedroom may therefore be most conducive to sleep, since it mimics your body’s natural temperature drop.
  4. Check your bedroom for electro-magnetic fields (EMFs). These can disrupt the pineal gland and the production of melatonin and serotonin, and may have other negative effects as well.
    To do this, you need a gauss meter. You can find various models online, starting around $50 to $200. Some experts  even recommend pulling your circuit breaker before bed to kill all power in your house.
  5. Move alarm clocks and other electrical devices away from your bed. If these devices must be used, keep them as far away from your bed as possible, preferably at least 3 feet. Remove the clock from view. It will only add to your worry when you stare at it all night... 2 a.m. ...3 a.m. ... 4:30 a.m.
  6. Avoid using loud alarm clocks. It is very stressful on your body to be suddenly jolted awake. If you are regularly getting enough sleep, an alarm may even be unnecessary.
    I gave up my alarm clock years ago and now use a sun alarm clock. The Sun Alarm™ SA-2002 provides an ideal way to wake up each morning if you can't wake up with the REAL sun. Combining the features of a traditional alarm clock (digital display, AM/FM radio, beeper, snooze button, etc) with a special built-in light that gradually increases in intensity, this amazing clock simulates a natural sunrise. It also includes a sunset feature where the light fades to darkness over time, which is ideal for anyone who has trouble falling asleep.
  7. Reserve your bed for sleeping. If you are used to watching TV or doing work in bed, you may find it harder to relax and drift off to sleep, so avoid doing these activities in bed.
  8. Consider separate bedrooms. Recent studies suggest, for many people, sharing a bed with a partner (or pets) can significantly impair sleep, especially if the partner is a restless sleeper or snores. If bedfellows are consistently interfering with your sleep, you may want to consider a separate bedroom.

Preparing for Bed

  1. Get to bed as early as possible. Your body (particularly your adrenal system) does a majority of its recharging between the hours of 11 p.m. and 1 a.m. In addition, your gallbladder dumps toxins during this same period. If you are awake, the toxins back up into your liver, which can further disrupt your health.
    Prior to the widespread use of electricity, people would go to bed shortly after sundown, as most animals do, and which nature intended for humans as well.
  2. Don't change your bedtime. You should go to bed and wake up at the same times each day, even on the weekends. This will help your body to get into a sleep rhythm and make it easier to fall asleep and get up in the morning.
  3. Establish a bedtime routine. This could include meditation, deep breathing, using aromatherapy or essential oils or indulging in a massage from your partner. The key is to find something that makes you feel relaxed, then repeat it each night to help you release the tensions of the day.
  4. Don't drink any fluids within 2 hours of going to bed. This will reduce the likelihood of needing to get up and go to the bathroom, or at least minimize the frequency.
  5. Go to the bathroom right before bed. This will reduce the chances that you'll wake up to go in the middle of the night.
  6. Eat a high-protein snack several hours before bed. This can provide the L-tryptophan needed for your melatonin and serotonin production.
  7. Also eat a small piece of fruit. This can help the tryptophan cross your blood-brain barrier.
  8. Avoid before-bed snacks, particularly grains and sugars. These will raise your blood sugar and delay sleep. Later, when blood sugar drops too low (hypoglycemia), you may wake up and be unable to fall back asleep.
  9. Take a hot bath, shower or sauna before bed. When your body temperature is raised in the late evening, it will fall at bedtime, facilitating slumber. The temperature drop from getting out of the bath signals your body it’s time for bed.
  10. Wear socks to bed. Feet often feel cold before the rest of the body because they have the poorest circulation. A study has shown that wearing socks reduces night wakings. As an alternative, you could place a hot water bottle near your feet at night.
  11. Wear an eye mask to block out light. As discussed earlier, it is very important to sleep in as close to complete darkness as possible. That said, it's not always easy to block out every stream of light using curtains, blinds or drapes, particularly if you live in an urban area (or if your spouse has a different schedule than you do). In these cases, an eye mask can be helpful.
  12. Put your work away at least one hour before bed (preferably two hours or more). This will give your mind a chance to unwind so you can go to sleep feeling calm, not hyped up or anxious about tomorrow's deadlines.
  13. No TV right before bed. Even better, get the TV out of the bedroom or even completely out of the house. It’s too stimulating to the brain, preventing you from falling asleep quickly. TV disrupts your pineal gland function.
  14. Listen to relaxation CDs. Some people find the sound of white noise or nature sounds, such as the ocean or forest, to be soothing for sleep. An excellent relaxation/meditation option to listen to before bed is the Insight audio CD. Another favorite is the Sleep Harmony CD, which uses a combination of advanced vibrational technology and guided meditation to help you effortlessly fall into deep delta sleep within minutes. The CD works on the principle of “sleep wave entrainment” to assist your brain in gearing down for sleep.  
  15. Read something spiritual or uplifting. This may help you relax. Don't read anything stimulating, such as a mystery or suspense novel, which has the opposite effect. In addition, if you are really enjoying a suspenseful book, you might be tempted to go on reading for hours, instead of going to sleep!
  16. Journaling. If you often lay in bed with your mind racing, it might be helpful keep a journal and write down your thoughts before bed. Personally, I have been doing this for 15 years, but prefer to do it in the morning when my brain is functioning at its peak and my cortisol levels are high.

Lifestyle Suggestions That Enhance Sleep

  1. Reduce or avoid as many drugs as possibleMany drugs, both prescription and over-the-counter, may adversely effect sleep. In most cases, the condition causing the drugs to be taken in the first place can be addressed by following guidelines elsewhere on my web site.
  2. Avoid caffeine. At least one study has shown that, in some people, caffeine is not metabolized efficiently, leaving you feeling its effects long after consumption. So, an afternoon cup of coffee or tea will keep some people from falling asleep at night. Be aware that some medications contain caffeine (for example, diet pills).
  3. Avoid alcohol. Although alcohol will make you drowsy, the effect is short lived and you will often wake up several hours later, unable to fall back asleep. Alcohol will also keep you from entering the deeper stages of sleep, where your body does most of its healing.
  4. Make certain you are exercising regularly. Exercising for at least 30 minutes per day can improve your sleep. However, don't exercise too close to bedtime or it may keep you awake. Studies show exercising in the morning is the best if you can manage it.
  5. Lose excess weight. Being overweight can increase your risk of sleep apnea, which can seriously impair your sleep. (CLICK HEREfor my nutritional recommendations.)
  6. Avoid foods you may be sensitive to. This is particularly true for sugar, grains, and pasteurized dairy. Sensitivity reactions can cause excess congestion, gastrointestinal upset, bloating and gas, and other problems.
If you have already tried all these other things then:
Have your adrenals checked by a good natural medicine clinician
. Scientists have found that insomnia may be caused by adrenal stress.
If you are menopausal or perimenopausal, get checked out by a good natural medicine physician
. The hormonal changes at this time may cause sleep problems if not properly addressed.
Increase your melatonin
. Ideally it is best to increase levels naturally with exposure to bright sunlight in the daytime (along with full spectrum fluorescent bulbs in the winter) and absolute complete darkness at night.