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Building a Legacy of Faith ~ Halloween — A Mixed Bag

Halloween – A Mixed Bag

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“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21).

Personal Reflection: A couple of days ago my oldest granddaughter asked me where Halloween originated.

I’ve enjoyed helping create some of her costumes over the past few years. One year, she dressed up as a scarecrow (but the straw was too “scratchy”); and our favorite costume was Annie. I also have fond memories of making my own children’s costumes (a pumpkin, leopard, and a crayon).

So, where do you stand on Halloween, to celebrate or not? It’s definitely a mixed bag.                                                              

I first faced this dilemma when our children were in elementary school.  I had recently learned that some modern-day Halloween practices were associated with pagan roots. My initial reaction was one of fear. So my husband and I quickly decided to “opt out” of Halloween. Since my memory seems to fade with years, I asked our oldest daughter if she remembered how we handled Halloween “back in the day.” Her text read: “I remember at some point you stopped letting us dress up.”

(The history of Halloween below is very brief, so I urge parents to do more extensive research.)

History of Halloween

Some of today’s popular celebrations associated with Halloween have pagan roots originating from the ancient Celtic festival, Samhain. This harvest festival of the Druids escorted in the New Year, starting on the evening of October 31, with the lighting of bonfires and the offering of sacrifices. As the Druids danced around the fires, they celebrated the ending of the summer season and the beginning of the season of darkness. It was also believed that at this time of year the invisible “gates” between the natural world and the spirit world would open, allowing free movement between the two worlds.

During the 8th century in the diocese of Rome, Pope Gregory III moved All Saints Day to November 1, officially making October 31 “All Hallows Eve,” with some believing this was a way of claiming the celebration for Christians. However, this feast commemorating the martyrdom of the saints had already been celebrated by Christians for many centuries prior to this time. Pope Gregory IV broadened the feast to include the entire Church. Inevitably, some of the pagan practices associated with the season persisted and have been mixed into modern celebrations of Halloween.  

Fast forward nearly thirty years, I am once again faced with the same dilemma–to celebrate Halloween or not. The answer to my granddaughter’s question, why do we have Halloween, was simple and to the point. I told her that a long time ago there were a group of people who did not follow God, but rather, worshiped other gods, by practicing evil rituals, and unfortunately, some of these rituals still occur on Halloween. I went on to tell her the meaning of the word Halloween. Hallow is to make or to declare something or someone to be holy. And Halloween is a form of All Hallows Evening, or All Hallows Eve; Hallowe-‘en, which is the evening before All Saint’s Day, typically observed on November 1.

Speaking to a nine-year old, and wanting her to grasp the truer meaning behind my somewhat vague answer, I left her with this statement. “We don’t celebrate evil or anything to do with pagan beliefs, but rather, we celebrate God and His Holiness, lived out through His holy people, who are called Saints.”

I love this quote, popularized by Eleanor Roosevelt. “It’s better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.”

Parent Challenge: Please don’t take every tradition at face value. Educate yourself first, by researching traditions/holidays such as Halloween, to learn the history (past and present) behind them. Also, make it a matter of prayer, study God’s Word, and at times, seek wise counsel from a trusted Christian advisor about any tradition or holiday that you have little or no knowledge of.

Faith Forward: Teach your children clearly, the distinct differences of good and evil. Do a word search as a family, looking for the words good and evil. Use individual Bibles or use an online Bible program such as Bible Gateway. This is also an opportune time (if age and maturity warrant) to discuss the meaning of sin, and God’s wonderful remedy for sin. See suggested resource below.

Here are a few suggestions for families who choose to observe some form of Hallows Eve.

         —  Always give careful guidance by helping your child select friendly type costumes. Absolutely no costumes that would signify evil in any way.

          — Rather than participating in scary haunted houses or other like events, choose a family friendly fall festival or other Halloween alternatives, that many churches offer their communities.

         —  Use the month of October/November, to read together as a family, about one or more heroes of the faith from the Bible. (Joseph, Moses, Joshua, David, Esther, Daniel, Jesus, Paul) Others may also include: Susanna Wesley, John Wesley, Jim Elliot, Corrie Ten Boom, Mother Theresa, etc.

Suggested Resources:

Torchlighters® are animated DVDs, true-life stories of Christian heroes retold for young people. (Adults are also inspired by them.) Each Torchlighter® episode comes with a documentary and other features. May be purchased through Nest Learning: http://www.nestlearning.com/torchlighters-faith-heroes_s221.aspx

“My Best Friend, Jesus” Booklet (Leading a child to Christ) published by Word Action.

http://www.nph.com/nphweb/html/waol/itempage.jsp?itemId=JFSB-3000

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Posted by on October 31, 2013 8: 26 am - in Building a Legacy of Faith, Seasonal Celebrations

 

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Building a Legacy of Faith ~ Beauty Is in the Eye of the Beholder

Volume 1, Issue 5 (October 24, 2013)

Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Philippians 4:8).

Personal Reflection: Girls like to look “pretty.” As little girls, our moms dressed us up and did our hair so that we would look pretty. There’s something ingrained in us to look pretty, even at a very early age. 

Julia & Foot stoolWhile watching our 2-year-old granddaughter, Julia, for the day, she decided to follow me all around our home. Being on the petite side, Julia grabbed a little step stool and toted it around with her, so she could climb up to “see what I was doing,” as she put it. Coming a little early that morning, Julia followed me into the bathroom and watched me as I got ready for our day. She climbed up on the step stool and watched as I brushed my teeth and fixed my hair. During this time, she began to rummage through my vanity draw (now that should tell you something right there—“vanity” drawer). In an instant, Julia pulled out a bright pink polish from the drawer and asked me to paint her nails. Amazingly, she sat very still as we both enjoyed every minute of painting her tiny toe nails a pretty shiny pink! She then followed me (step stool in hand) to the Powder Room, where I keep all my makeup. Sure enough, she climbed up on the step stool next to me, and watched my every move, from foundation to mascara. Every step of the way, Julia wanted to try some of each. Obliging just a little, I let her try out some foundation, some blush, and a little lip gloss. She was so proud of herself, as she carefully smeared the gloss across her lips and under her nose and across her chin! She was so cute. In fact, in my eyes, she was (is) beautiful, in her sweet innocence…..“just because” she’s my granddaughter.

Here are a few thoughts to ponder as we raise little ones to know and love Jesus.

  1. The world shouts loudly that beauty is measured by outward appearance. (The Hardy’s commercials that are supposedly advertising hamburgers, offer women revealing way too much. This not only degrades the true beauty of women, but also attempts to rob young boys of their innocence.) The so-called beauty industry is a multi-billion dollar business, with a large marketing campaign targeted toward young teen girls.

  2. God measures “true and lasting beauty” by what’s in our hearts. 

The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7b).

  1. As mothers, we need to ask ourselves. Are we modeling modesty and other godly characteristics before our children?  We all have eyes that are watching us (just like my Julia).

This simple example of my granddaughter wanting to “follow” and “watch” Nana throughout our day together has a far greater message than just a little girl wanting to wear some makeup and look pretty. It signifies the awesome responsibility we have as moms/parents, to intentionally train our children to live a life that is pleasing to the Lord. One of the best ways we can do this is to set Christlike examples before them.

Parent Challenge: Training young boys and girls the importance of purity begins early. Set the example in your own life by keeping your mind free from impure thoughts, images, and any other source that are unpleasing to the Lord. Also, model modesty in the clothing you wear. Listen to Casting Crowns’ Slow Fade, their version of “Be Careful Little Eyes…” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QASREBVDsLk

 Faith Forward: Monitor every bit of media that your child has access to, starting with the TV (Disney is not your grandmother’s or even your mother’s Disney!). Beware of the Internet. What God can and does use for good, the devil will attempt his best to use for evil. Tell your sons and daughters every day how beautiful/handsome they are…just because they are your kids…and because God created them in His image.

“So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27).

“I will be careful to lead a blameless life—
    when will you come to me?

I will conduct the affairs of my house
    with a blameless heart.
I will not look with approval
    on anything that is vile.

I hate what faithless people do;
    I will have no part in it.
The perverse of heart shall be far from me;
    I will have nothing to do with what is evil” (Psalm 101:2-4).

Suggested Resources:

Passport 2 Purity: The Passport2Purity Getaway Kit helps build heart-to-heart communication between you and your pre-teen while laying a foundation of purity that will prepare them for the turbulent years ahead. (For preteen girls and boys)

http://www.familylife.com/find-help/key-resources/passport2purity#.UmgMaoIo6mQ

Pure Freedom (the ministry of Dannah Gresh): An online ministry for parents of pre-teen and teenage girls. They also offer Secret Keeper Girl Tours. www.purefreedom.org

Net Nanny: Net Nanny® is the #1-rated parental controls software that protects families from pornography, online predators, cyberbullying, and much more, keeping your family safe online. http://www.netnanny.com

Tried & True Ideas from Others:

Two of our grandkids live 2 1/2 hours away.  We meet half way to bring them home with us. Our grandson loves What’s in the Bible DVDs. We have a DVD player in the van so this makes a great time for him to watch these from time to time. Literally this is “on the go.” These DVDs are a great way to teach your children and grandchildren about the Bible!  http://whatsinthebible.com/

I researched this resource online, and it looks like a fun way for the whole family to learn the Bible together. What’s in the Bible? is a 13-DVD series from VeggieTales® creator Phil Vischer. In his first new project since VeggieTales, Vischer has set out to teach kids (and parents!) the story of the Bible.

 

 
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Posted by on October 24, 2013 8: 59 pm - in Building a Legacy of Faith, Faith At Home, Holy Living

 

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Building a Legacy of Faith ~ God’s Word Top Priority!

Volume 1, Issue 4 (October 17, 2013)

God’s Word Top Priority!

“I have hidden your Word in my heart that I might not sin against you”          (Psalm 119:11).

Psalm 119, the longest psalm and the longest chapter in the Bible, beautifully exclaims the top priority of God’s Word.

Personal Reflection:  I am thankful God directed me as a young Christian and young mom, to read His Word daily. It didn’t start out this way though; initially I was a “hit or miss” Bible reader. It wasn’t until I experienced an extremely difficult time in my life that I realized my deepest need, to hear from God every single day. Thankfully, from that day forward, reading God’s Word has been my first priority of each new day.

I recently gave my nine-year-old granddaughter a New Living Translation (NLT) Hands-on Bible (New Testament) and challenged her to read it every day. The children’s Bible features many ideas for helping children grow in their faith daily, including hands-on activities, family devotions, and a reading plan. I also gave her a journal, to record personal thoughts and answers to the questions after each Scripture reading. Since my granddaughter loves a good challenge, I wrote out several reading goals that offer some fun rewards when achieved. Example: After completing fourteen suggested Scripture passages she gives herself a star. After completing the first fourteen, she gets to choose a fun reward: $5, pizza with friends, or a new CD. And after completing seventy readings: $20, bowling or other activity with a friend, slumber party at our home! Of course the greatest reward is growing closer to God each day.

Parent Challenge:  Set the example by reading the Bible daily. If you don’t already do so, I urge you to make this a high priority—for yourself and your family. Find a time that best fits your schedule.

Faith-Forward:  Purchase an age-appropriate Bible for your child, along with a journal or notebook. Provide a specific reading plan for your child, and if you like, include a faith-forward challenge similar to the one described above. Be creative and personalize it to your own child’s personality and interests.

Suggested Resources: 

NLT Hands-On-Bible: for children ages 6 – 12

NIrV The Adventure Bible: NIV revised for children ages 6 – 10

Jesus Storybook Bible: for children ages 4 – 8

My First Message: A devotional Bible for younger children

These along with many others may be purchased through http://www.Christianbooks.com

Because the Bible is God’s authoritative, reliable, and powerful Word, we should make it a top priority in our lives. For more about Psalm 119, check out this article, Psalm 119: The Priority of God’s Word, written by: Steven J. Cole. Go to: https://bible.org/seriespage/psalm-119-priority-god’s-word

 
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Posted by on October 17, 2013 9: 31 pm - in Building a Legacy of Faith, Faith At Home, God's Word

 

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Building a Legacy of Faith ~ Praise God Always!

The purpose of this weekly blog entry, titled: Building a Legacy of Faith, is to share practical and biblical ideas with parents/grandparents who are passionate about intentionally passing down their faith in Christ to their children/grandchildren. I would also like to receive other tried and true spiritual formation ideas from parents and grandparents. These may be sent to my email address at: covenantheirs@gmail.com and from time to time, I will publish some. Please mention in your email, consent to publish (with potential edits) of your submission.

Volume 1, Issue 3 (October 10, 2013)

Praise God Always!

“I will extol the LORD at all times; his praise will always be on my lips” (Psalm 34:1).

“Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name. And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.…” (Hebrews 13:15).

When everything is going well in life, its easy to give God praise. Or at least it should be, right? I think most people, me included, probably find it more difficult to offer God praise when we find ourselves in the midst of hardships or suffering. But I truly believe this is when our praises are needed most. First, and foremost, our praises demonstrate a need to express genuine love and gratitude to our Heavenly Father. Secondly, it gives us an opportunity to demonstrate a genuine faith in God. “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (Hebrews 11:6).

Parent Challenge:  Set an example to your children, by praising God always—in the good times, and the not so good. This teaches children to keep their eyes on Jesus no matter what comes their way (nice friends, getting good grades…..bullies on the playground, loss of a parent through death or divorce, etc.). 

Speaking from experience, “When Jesus is the main focus of our praise, God  embraces his children with love, inner peace, strength, and hope.”

Faith-Forward: (Simple ideas for passing down faith in Christ.)

mason jarsPraise Jar.  Decorate two glass jars (Mason Jars). In the middle of one glass Jar, write the words: Praise God Always! Psalm 34:1. On the other one, write the words:  JESUS. Prepare (cut) a large amount of blank strips of paper (use a variety of sizes and colors) and put the strips of paper into the JESUS jar. Place jars in a room that is used daily (kitchen, dining room, family (TV) room, etc.). Explain to the children that everyone will be encouraged to give God praise every day; and as a family, you will be writing praises to God on the strips of paper, and then placing them in the Praise God Always! Jar. Share suggestions: I praise God for my best friend. God, you are awesome! Thank you for protecting our family from the storm. Dear Jesus, I’m really sad right now, but I want to praise you for always being here for me.

When the Praise jar is full, set aside a special family time to read (pray) through all the praises.

Prayers of Praise. Spend time praying prayers of praise each day. This can be a separate prayer, or it can be integrated into other daily prayers (mealtime, bedtime, etc.). Begin by sharing your own prayer of praise to God during a family prayer time. 

Here’s a beautiful Psalm of praise to read together as a family.

Psalm 145

A psalm of praise. Of David.

I will exalt you, my God the King;
    I will praise your name for ever and ever.
Every day I will praise you
    and extol your name for ever and ever.

Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise;
    his greatness no one can fathom.
One generation commends your works to another;
    they tell of your mighty acts.
They speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty—
    and I will meditate on your wonderful works.[b]
They tell of the power of your awesome works—
    and I will proclaim your great deeds.
They celebrate your abundant goodness
    and joyfully sing of your righteousness.

The Lord is gracious and compassionate,
    slow to anger and rich in love.

The Lord is good to all;
    he has compassion on all he has made.
10 All your works praise you, Lord;
    your faithful people extol you.
11 They tell of the glory of your kingdom
    and speak of your might,
12 so that all people may know of your mighty acts
    and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
    and your dominion endures through all generations.

The Lord is trustworthy in all he promises
    and faithful in all he does.[c]
14 The Lord upholds all who fall
     and lifts up all who are bowed down.
15 The eyes of all look to you,
    and you give them their food at the proper time.
16 You open your hand
    and satisfy the desires of every living thing.

17 The Lord is righteous in all his ways
    and faithful in all he does.
18 The Lord is near to all who call on him,
    to all who call on him in truth.
19 He fulfills the desires of those who fear him;
    he hears their cry and saves them.
20 The Lord watches over all who love him,
    but all the wicked he will destroy.

21 My mouth will speak in praise of the Lord.
     Let every creature praise his holy name
    for ever and ever.

 
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Posted by on October 10, 2013 8: 35 pm - in Building a Legacy of Faith, Faith At Home

 

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Building a Legacy of Faith ~ Autumn Leaves — Jesus Never Does!

The purpose of this weekly blog entry, titled: Building a Legacy of Faith, is to share practical and biblical ideas with parents/grandparents who are passionate about intentionally passing down their faith in Christ to their children/grandchildren. I would also like to receive other tried and true spiritual formation ideas from parents and grandparents. These may be sent to my email address at: covenantheirs@gmail.com, and from time to time, I will publish some. Please mention in your email, consent to publish (with potential edits) of your submission.

Volume 1, Issue 2 (October 3, 2013)

Building a Legacy of Faith

2 Timothy 1:5

For parents who are passionate about passing down their faith in Christ to their children.

Autumn Leaves — Jesus Never Does!

falling leaves   Summer has come to an end, but thankfully, here in the Mid-West, we are continuing to enjoy picture-perfect warm sunny days. The cooling off at dusk as daylight quickly dwindles, tells me that autumn has arrived. Even though I am more of a summer person, there’s something very captivating about fall. For me, it’s the changing colors of the leaves and bright orange pumpkins arriving on neighbors’ doorsteps, that draws me into the pleasantry of the season. Whether you have toddlers or teens, this is a great time of year to experience God’s amazing creation together as a family. Here are few suggestions:

♦  Take a Sunday afternoon drive into the country. Have everyone point out the “colors of fall” ranging from freshly cut cornstalks to blazing burnt-orange leaves. End up at a pumpkin patch or an apple orchard.

♦  Choose a day that offers a little breeze. Provide small containers for each family member. Find a location (a park, backyard), where there are plenty of trees. And as the breeze blows, chase the falling leaves, catching as many as possible. Award a small prize to the one who catches the most leaves. (Little ones can simply collect leaves from the ground.)

♦  Bake pumpkin pies or cookies and deliver them to someone who could use a sweet treat (a lonely neighbor, your pastor, a friend, a shut-in). Make a leaf-shaped card from construction paper and attach it to the treat.

After experiencing these intentional family fall moments, build in some extra time to discuss the process of dying and new life. Begin by talking about the changing seasons. For instance, summer is a time of vibrancy and life, which then surrenders itself to fall, when leaves on the trees die and fall away and many plants appear to die. Winter arrives and with it the frost and chill seem to halt all growth and life. Following winter, when it seemed as if everything had died away, spring comes forth. New life surrounds us. Daffodils, crocuses, and tulips begin to push through the once-frozen ground. The bare tree branches begin to show signs of new leaves. Talk about the New Life that is found in Jesus alone. Use these Scriptures, along with others to describe our new life in Christ. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” 2 Corinthians 5:17; 1 Corinthians 15:22; Ephesians 2:4-5; Colossians 2:13-14; 1 Peter 3:18; (Romans 3:23 & Romans 6:23); John 12:24; John 14:6

Recommended book for toddlers and preschoolers:  The Pumpkin Patch Parable, by Liz Curtis Higgs

Covenant Heirs 10/03/2013

 

 

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