The eclipse is over. Summer is over. School vacation is over and in fact vacation season is over. The old church year is over. And so we start over.
I have been thinking about this word “over” and all its derivatives. There is overwhelmed, overflow, overdue, overjoy, overlook, overturn, overtime, overworked, and so on and so on. My thoughts finally stuck on the word overcome because I sometimes have a feeling of being overcome by the circumstances of our times, by the things occurring around us, by the tragedies of everyday life. It is in times like this that only the words of Jesus are comforting. He simply said, 33 "........., in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33 (NIV)
Sir Edmund Hillary is famous for being the first man to climb Mount Everest. But what you may not know is that his first attempt to do so was a terrible disaster. Two men in his party perished on the attempt and in fact, Sir Edmund only barely got down the mountain alive. Upon returning to England following the disastrous try, Hillary was asked to speak before the Royal Society in London. As he walked on stage, there behind him was placed a huge picture of the mountain. As he approached center stage, Hillary turned his back on the audience and faced Mount Everest directly. In a voice, steady and strong he said, “Mount Everest, I'm coming back and I'm going to conquer you because you can't get any bigger but I can.”
Praise the Lord, we can get bigger than life, bigger than the problems of our society and bigger than the problems that come into all of our lives. With Jesus we become overcomers. With Jesus we have the VICTORY!!
I was abruptly reminded the other day of the holiday that is fast approaching at the end of this month. I needed a special battery for a tool that was needed to fix a garage door so I went into a home supply store and after entry, a large display of lawn and house decorations for Halloween greeted me.
It is a fact that Halloween is a religious holiday. Sure, most people don't consciously practice the religion associated with it, but it is one of the most important holidays to contemporary Wiccans (witches), Druids, other neo-Pagans, and some Satanists.
It seems to me that the American practice of this holiday has become bigger than most of our observance of our other holidays. We decorate more, we party more, we teach our children by observing this holiday in a bigger way than with other holidays. Now I don't hate, witches, Pagans, or Satanists. Whether they want to be or not, they're people included in John 3:16, "God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten (unique) Son, that whoever believes (trusts/has faith) in Him should not perish but have ever lasting life." But the spirits they associate with are in conflict with the God I worship. To participate in a holiday honoring those spirits would violate my relationship with my God, just as I would violate my relationship with my wife if I were disloyal to her.
And yet I agree with Dr. James Dobson who shares this opinion. “Even here, however, there is a place for some harmless fun. Kids love to dress up and pretend. If the Halloween experience is focused on fantasy rather than the occult, I see no harm in it. Make costumes for your children that represent fun characters, such as Mickey Mouse or an elderly grandmother, and then let them go door-to-door asking for treats. This side of Halloween can be thoroughly enjoyable for the little ones.”
I believe we can be Christians in our decorations, costumes, and things such as pumpkin carving. Pumpkin decoration can be like becoming a Christian. “God picks you from the patch, brings you in, and washes all the dirt off of you. Then he cuts off the top and scoops out all the yucky stuff. He removes the seeds of doubt, hate, greed, etc., and then He carves you a new smiling face and puts His light inside of you to shine for all the world to see.”
“In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16 (NIV)