Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Celebrating Thanksgiving In America

Celebrating Thanksgiving in America
By David Barton

The tradition introduced by European Americans of Thanksgiving as a time to focus on God and His blessings dates back well over four centuries in America. For example, such thanksgivings occurred in 1541 at Palo Duro Canyon, Texas with Coronado and 1,500 of his men; 1 in 1564 at St. Augustine, Florida with French Huguenot (Protestant) colonists; 2 in 1598 at El Paso, Texas with Juan de Oñate and his expedition; 3 in 1607 at Cape Henry, Virginia with the landing of the Jamestown settlers; 4 in 1619 at Berkeley Plantation, Virginia; 5 (and many other such celebrations). But it is primarily from the Pilgrim’s Thanksgiving celebration of 1621 that we derive the current tradition of Thanksgiving Day.
The Pilgrims set sail for America on September 6, 1620, and for two months braved the harsh elements of a storm-tossed sea. Upon disembarking at Plymouth Rock, they held a prayer service and then hastily began building shelters; however, unprepared for such a harsh New England winter, nearly half of them died before spring. 6Emerging from that grueling winter, the Pilgrims were surprised when an Indian named Samoset approached them and greeted them in their own language, explaining to them that he had learned English from fishermen and traders. A week later, Samoset returned with a friend named Squanto, who lived with the Pilgrims and accepted their Christian faith. Squanto taught the Pilgrims much about how to live in the New World, and he and Samoset helped forge a long-lasting peace treaty between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Indians. Pilgrim Governor William Bradford described Squanto as “a special instrument sent of God for [our] good . . . and never left [us] till he died.” 7
That summer, the Pilgrims, still persevering in prayer and assisted by helpful Indians, 8 reaped a bountiful harvest. 9 As Pilgrim Edward Winslow (later to become the Governor) affirmed, “God be praised, we had a good increase of Indian corn”; “by the goodness of God, we are...far from want.” 10 The grateful Pilgrims therefore declared a three-day feast in December 1621 to thank God and to celebrate with their Indian friends 11 – America’s first Thanksgiving Festival. Ninety Wampanoag Indians joined the fifty Pilgrims for three days of feasting (which included shellfish, lobsters, turkey, corn bread, berries, deer, and other foods), of play (the young Pilgrim and Wampanoag men engaged in races, wrestling matches, and athletic events), and of prayer. This celebration and its accompanying activities were the origin of the holiday that Americans now celebrate each November.
However, while the Pilgrims enjoyed times of prosperity for which they thanked God, they also suffered extreme hardships. In fact, in 1623 they experienced an extended and prolonged drought. Knowing that without a change in the weather there would be no harvest and the winter would be filled with death and starvation, Governor Bradford called the Pilgrims to a time of prayer and fasting to seek God’s direct intervention. Significantly, shortly after that time of prayer – and to the great amazement of the Indian who witnessed the scene – clouds appeared in the sky and a gentle and steady rain began to fall. As Governor Bradford explained:
It came without either wind or thunder or any violence, and by degrees in abundance, as that ye earth was thoroughly wet and soaked therewith, which did so apparently revive and quicken ye decayed corn and other fruits as was wonderful to see, and made ye Indians astonished to behold; and afterwards the Lord sent them such seasonable showers, with interchange of fair warm weather as, through His blessing, caused a fruitful and liberal harvest, to their no small comfort and rejoicing. 12
The drought had been broken; the fall therefore produced an abundant harvest; there was cause for another thanksgiving. The Pilgrim practice of designating an official time of Thanksgiving spread into neighboring colonies and became an annual tradition. 13And just as those neighboring colonies followed the Pilgrims’ example of calling for days of thanksgiving, so, too, did they adopt their practice of calling for a time of prayer and fasting. The New England Colonies therefore developed a practice of calling for a day of prayer and fasting in the spring, and a day of prayer and thanksgiving in the fall.
The Thanksgiving celebrations so common throughout New England did not begin to spread southward until the American Revolution, when Congress issued eight separate national Thanksgiving Proclamations. (Congress also issued seven separate proclamations for times of fasting and prayer, for a total of 15 official prayer proclamations during the American Revolution. 14)
America’s first national Thanksgiving occurred in 1789 with the commencement of the federal government. According to the Congressional Record for September 25 of that year, the first act after the Framers completed the framing of the Bill of Rights was that:
Mr. [Elias] Boudinot said he could not think of letting the session pass without offering an opportunity to all the citizens of the United States of joining with one voice in returning to Almighty God their sincere thanks for the many blessings He had poured down upon them. With this view, therefore, he would move the following resolution:
Resolved, That a joint committee of both Houses be directed to wait upon the President of the United States to request that he would recommend to the people of the United States a Day of Public Thanksgiving and Prayer. . . .
Mr. Roger Sherman justified the practice of thanksgiving on any single event not only as a laudable one in itself but also as warranted by a number of precedents in Holy Writ. . . . This example he thought worthy of a Christian imitation on the present occasion. 15
That congressional resolution was delivered to President George Washington, who heartily concurred with the request and issued the first federal Thanksgiving proclamation, declaring in part:
Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor. . . . Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November [1789] . . . that we may all unite to render unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection. 16
That same year, the Protestant Episcopal Church (of which President Washington was a member) announced that the first Thursday in November would become its regular day for giving thanks, “unless another day be appointed by the civil authorities.” 17 Following President Washington’s initial proclamation, national Thanksgiving Proclamations occurred only sporadically (another by President Washington in 1795, one by John Adams in 1798 and again in 1799, one by James Madison in 1814 and again in 1815, etc.); 18 most official Thanksgiving observances occurred at the state level. In fact, by 1815, the various state governments had issued at least 1,400 official prayer proclamations, almost half for times of thanksgiving and prayer and the other half for times of fasting and prayer. 19
Much of the credit for the adoption of Thanksgiving as an annual national holiday may be attributed to Mrs. Sarah Josepha Hale, the editor of Godey’s Lady’s Book, a popular lady’s books containing poetry, art work, and articles by America’s leading authors. For two decades, she promoted the idea of a national Thanksgiving Day, 20contacting president after president until Abraham Lincoln responded in 1863 by setting aside the last Thursday of that November. The Thanksgiving proclamation issued by Lincoln was remarkable not only for its strong religious content but also for its timing, for it was delivered in the midst of the darkest days of the Civil War, with the Union having lost battle after battle throughout the first three years of that conflict. Yet, despite those dark circumstances, Lincoln nevertheless called Americans to prayer with an air of positive optimism and genuine thankfulness, noting that:
The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the Source from which they come, others have been added which are of so extraordinary a nature that they can not fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever-watchful providence of Almighty God. . . . No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, Who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. 21
That remarkable Thanksgiving Proclamation came at a pivotal point in Lincoln’s spiritual life. Three months earlier, the Battle of Gettysburg had occurred, resulting in the loss of some 60,000 American lives. It had been while Lincoln was walking among the thousands of graves there at Gettysburg that he first committed his life to Christ. As he later explained to a clergyman:
When I left Springfield [Illinois, to assume the Presidency], I asked the people to pray for me. I was not a Christian. When I buried my son, the severest trial of my life, I was not a Christian. But when I went to Gettysburg and saw the graves of thousands of our soldiers, I then and there consecrated myself to Christ. 22
The dramatic spiritual impact resulting from that experience was not only visible in Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Day proclamation (and also his 1864 call for a day of prayer and fasting) but especially in his 1865 Second Inaugural Address.
Over the seventy-five years following Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Proclamation, presidents faithfully followed Lincoln’s precedent, annually declaring a national Thanksgiving Day (but the date of the celebrations varied widely from proclamation to proclamation). In 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt began celebrating Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday of each November, and in 1941, Congress permanently established that day as the national Thanksgiving holiday. 23
As you celebrate Thanksgiving this year, remember to retain the original gratefulness to God that has always been the spirit of this – the oldest of all American holidays. (Below are representative examples of the scores of Thanksgiving proclamations penned by various Founding Fathers.)
[Congress] recommended [a day of] . . . thanksgiving and praise [so] that . . . the good people may express the grateful feelings of their hearts and . . . join . . . their humble and earnest supplication that it may please God, through the merits of Jesus Christ, mercifully to forgive [our sins] and . . . [to] enlarge [His] kingdom which consisteth in righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost. 24 Continental Congress, 1777 – written by SIGNERS OF THE DECLARATION SAMUEL ADAMS AND RICHARD HENRY LEE

[I] appoint . . . a day of public Thanksgiving to Almighty God . . . to [ask] Him that He would . . . pour out His Holy Spirit on all ministers of the Gospel; that He would . . . spread the light of Christian knowledge through the remotest corners of the earth; . . . and that He would establish these United States upon the basis of religion and virtue. 25 GOVERNOR THOMAS JEFFERSON, 1779

[I] appoint . . . a day of public thanksgiving and praise . . . to render to God the tribute of praise for His unmerited goodness towards us . . . [by giving to] us . . . the Holy Scriptures which are able to enlighten and make us wise to eternal salvation. And [to] present our supplications...that He would forgive our manifold sins and . . . cause the benign religion of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to be known, understood, and practiced among all the inhabitants of the earth. 26 GOVERNOR JOHN HANCOCK, 1790


1. Library of Congress, “Thanksgiving Timeline, 1541-2001” (at:

2. Library of Congress, “Thanksgiving Timeline, 1541-2001” (at

3. Texas Almanac, “The First Thanksgiving?” (at

4. Benson Lossing, Our Country. A Household History of the United States (New York: James A. Bailey, 1895), Vol. 1, pp. 181-182; see also National Park Service, “The Reverend Robert Hunt: The First Chaplain at Jamestown” (at

5. “Berkeley Plantation,” Berkeley Plantation, (at: (accessed November 17, 2008).(Return)

6. William Bradford, History of Plymouth Plantation (Boston: Little, Brown & Co, 1856), pp. 74, 78, 80, 91.(Return)

7. William Bradford, History of Plymouth Plantation (Boston: Little, Brown & Co, 1856), p. 95.(Return)

8. William Bradford, History of Plymouth Plantation (Boston: Little, Brown & Co, 1856), p. 100.(Return)

9. William Bradford, History of Plymouth Plantation (Boston: Little, Brown & Co, 1856), p. 105.(Return)

10. Mourt's Relation or Journal of the Plantation at Plymouth, Henry Martyn Dexter, editor (Boston: Jim Kimball Wiggin, 1865; reprint of 1622 original), p. 133. See also William S. Russell, Guide to Plymouth and Recollections of the Pilgrims (Boston: George Coolidge, 1846), p. 95, quoting from a letter of Pilgrim Edward Winslow to George Morton of London, written on December 21, 1621.(Return)

11. Mourt's Relation or Journal of the Plantation at Plymouth, Henry Martyn Dexter, editor (Boston: Jim Kimball Wiggin, 1865; reprint of 1622 original), p. 133. See also Ashbel Steele, Chief of the Pilgrims: Or the Life and Time of William Brewster (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott & Co, 1857), pp. 269-270.(Return)

12. William Bradford, History of Plymouth Plantation (Boston: Little, Brown & Co, 1856), p. 142.(Return)

13. DeLoss Love, Jr, The Fast and Thanksgiving Days of New England(Boston: Houghton,, Mifflin & Co, 1895), pp. 87-90.(Return)

14. See the Journals of the Continental Congress (1905) for June 12, 1775; March 16, 1776; December 11, 1776; November 1, 1777; March 7, 1778; November 17, 1778; March 20, 1779; October 20, 1779; March 11, 1780; October 18, 1780; March 20, 1781; October 26, 1781; March 19, 1782; October 11, 1782; October 18, 1783.(Return)

15. The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States (Washington: Gales & Seaton, 1834), Vol. I, pp. 949-950.(Return)

16. George Washington, Writings of George Washington, Jared Sparks, editor ((Boston: Russell, Odiorne and Metcalf, 1838), Vol. XII, p. 119, Proclamation for a National Thanksgiving on October 3, 1789.(Return)

17. The American Cyclopaedia, A Popular Dictionary of General Knowledge, George Ripley and Charles A. Dana, editors (New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1876), Vol. XV, p. 684, s.v., “Thanksgiving Day.”(Return)

18. See, for example, H. S. J. Sickel, Thanksgiving: Its Source, Philosophy and History With All National Proclamations (Philadelphia: International Printing Co, 1940), pp. 154-155, “Thanksgiving Day- 1795” by George Washington, pp. 156-157, “Thanksgiving Day – 1798” by John Adams, pp. 158-159, “Thanksgiving Day – 1799” by John Adams, p. 160, “Thanksgiving Day – 1814” by James Madison, p. 161, “Thanksgiving Day – 1815” by James Madison, etc.(Return)

19. Deloss Love, in his work The Fast and Thanksgiving Days of New England, lists some 1,735 proclamations issued between 1620 and 1820, in a non-exclusive list. Of those, 284 were issued by churches and 1,451 by civil authorities. Of the civil proclamations, 1,028 were issued prior to July 4, 1776, and 413 from July 4, 1776 to 1820. Of the church issued proclamations, 278 were issued before July 4, 1776, and six afterwards. These, however, are only a portion of what were issued; for example, the author personally owns hundreds of additional proclamations not listed in Love’s work. While the exact number of government-issued prayer proclamations is unknown, it is certain that they certainly number in the thousands.(Return)

20. Appleton’s Cyclopedia of American Biography, James Grant Wilson & John Fiske, editors (New York: D. Appleton & Co, 1888), Vol. III, p. 35.(Return)

21. Abraham Lincoln, The Works of Abraham Lincoln, John H. Clifford & Marion M. Miller, editors (New York: University Society Inc, 1908), Vol. VI, pp. 160-161, Proclamation for Thanksgiving, October 3, 1863. See also, The American Presidency Project, “Abraham Lincoln: Proclamation – Thanksgiving Day, 1863” (at:

22. Abraham Lincoln, The Lincoln Memorial: Album-Immortelles. Osborn H. Oldroyd, editor (New York: G.W. Carleton & Co, 1882) p. 366, Reply to an Illinois Clergyman.(Return)

23. The National Archives, “Congress Establishes Thanksgiving” (at:; see also Pilgrim Hall Museum, “Presidential Thanksgiving Proclamations 1940-1949: Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman” (at:, Proclamation 2571: Days of Prayer: Thanksgiving Day and New Year’s Day, November 11, 1942, referring to a “joint resolution of Congress approved December 26, 1941, which designates the fourth Thursday in November of each year as Thanksgiving Day.”(Return)

24. Journals of the Continental Congress (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1907), Vol. IX, p. 855, November 1, 1777.(Return)

25. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Julian P. Boyd, editor (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1951), Vol. 3, p. 178, Proclamation Appointing a Day of Thanksgiving and Prayer, November 11, 1779.(Return)

26. John Hancock, Proclamation for a Day of Public Thanksgiving(Boston, 1790), from an original broadside in possession of the author.(Return)

Sunday, October 25, 2015

10 Reasons I Kissed Halloween Goodbye

michelle-blake2I used to have a love affair with Halloween. In fact, you might have called it an obsession. Even several years after I gave my heart to Jesus, I still harbored a pretty decent crush on costume shops, individually wrapped miniature candies, and “good” spookiness, all in the name of fun. 
Even when I started to feel a little uncomfortable with it, I purposed that I would simply tone it down a little and not let it consume too big a part of my heart. Just a little flirting once a year, because surely my one true Love knew my heart belonged to Him. Just like my husband wouldn’t mind at all if I spent a little time with old boyfriends once a year — you know, just for old times’ sake. After all, he wants me to be happy and would never want me to miss out on any fun.
You know I’m kidding, of course. My husband would have nothing to do with that sort of thinking. And neither did the Holy Spirit. After a few years of ignoring His gentle tugging on my heart, I finally decided to prayerfully consider giving up Halloween.
The more I learned, the more I became convinced that this “holiday” (a word that means “holy day,” by the way) was not honoring to God in any way. I began to see that my refusal to give up Halloween was evidence of a divided heart — but Jesus wants my whole heart.
Ever since deciding to “just say no” to Halloween, I can honestly tell you that the blessings and joy of obedience are far greater than any fun I ever had “celebrating.” 
And since many people, even Christians, think my decision is odd or even legalistic, I finally decided to put together a list of the top ten reasons I kissed Halloween goodbye.
1. Halloween glorifies evil, not God.
It’s no secret that Halloween is all about witches and ghosts and fear and death. Haunted houses, Hollywood movies, even neighborhood patios are graced with blood and dead bodies and axe murderers … giant replicas of poisonous spider and cobwebs … scary organ music, skeletons, and gravestones. Can anyone deny that this holiday glorifies Satan and every evil thing?
“Oh, but our family only dresses in good costumes,” we are quick to point out, as if somehow sugarcoating the evil with smiling pumpkins and sparkly Disney princess costumes somehow changes the meaning of the celebration. 
I too continued to dress up for several years, but no matter what creative spin I put on it, eventually I could no longer justify that anything I was doing in respect to this holiday was honoring to God. Sure, my costumes were cute. Sometimes they were even sophisticated, clever, funny, or smart. But none of those things changed the fact that the holiday itself glorified evil, and I could no longer lend my talents and attention to remain part of it.
Most of us know that Halloween is one of the highest, most holy days for witches and Satanists. Even though we ourselves may not be involved in the practice of witchcraft, we give credence to the holiday by celebrating it. If we abhor evil, should we not also abhor any day designated to celebrate it? The Bible says to avoid even the appearance of evil.
“Test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil.” —1 Thessalonians 5:21-22
It also doesn’t take a rocket scientist to discern that the Halloween is all about fear. Scary costumes, haunted houses, and horror movies are designed for no other purpose than to frighten us. Seeking out opportunities to be scared is, on this day at least, the highest form of entertainment. If we do not have a spirit of fear, should we even acknowledge a day whose purpose is to invoke a spirit of fear in us?
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of love, and of power, and of a sound mind.” —2 Timothy 1:7
2. If the seed is bad, the fruit will be bad.
Halloween has never been a Christian holiday. The foundations of Halloween are occultic, and the symbols and traditions we continue today all have roots in pagan practices. God tells His people over and over again to avoid all pagan rituals and traditions.
Halloween derives in part from the occult traditions of the Druids, the pagan priests of the Celts, whose fall festival was the precursor to Halloween as we know it. “To ancient Druids, the end of October commemorated the festival of the waning year, when the sun began his downward course and ripened grain was garnered from the fields. Samhain … was celebrated with human sacrifice, augury and prayers; for at this season spirits walked, and evil had power over souls of men.”1
When the first Christians came to America, they knew of Halloween’s occult beginnings and banned its celebration.2
“[B]ecause of Christianity among so many of the settlers, Halloween celebrations were not celebrated until the 1800’s when several immigrants from Ireland and Scotland introduced their Halloween customs. They brought various beliefs about ghosts and witches with them. Other groups added their own cultural influences to Halloween customs. German immigrants brought a vivid witchcraft lore, and Haitian and African peoples brought their native voodoo beliefs about black cats, fire, and witchcraft.”3
Today, we have become so accustomed to the traditions of men that we refuse to question them. Even Christian families have been honoring this holiday for generations. But doing so ignores the fact that this festival in no way honors God, and in fact celebrates the very practices God abhors:
“When you come into the land which the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominations of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer [pharmakeia], or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead.” —Deuteronomy 18:9-11
Putting a Christian label over the top of a pagan practice does not make it pleasing to God. In fact, we are to get rid of all pagan practices and have no part of them:
“These are the statutes and judgments which you shall be careful to observe in the land which the Lord God of your fathers is giving you to possess, all the days that you live on the earth. You shall utterly destroy all the places where the nations which you shall dispossess served their gods, on the high mountains and on the hills and under every green tree. And you shall destroy their altars, break their sacred pillars, and burn their wooden images with fire; you shall cut down the carved images of their gods and destroy their names from that place. You shall not worship the Lord your God with such things.” —Deuteronomy 12:1-4
God doesn't want us to keep the ways of the world and sprinkle Christianity on top. He wants us to elevate Him alone: His ways, His philosophies, His deliverance, His celebrations. Any other practice is sin and eventually bears bad fruit.
3. Don’t dine with demons.
Samhain was the one day of the year when the dead were allowed to come back into the world and commune with the living. People traditionally set a spot for the dead at their table, inviting them in. Since there was also the possibility that evil spirits would come looking for them, people took to “guising” themselves for protection. In other words, it’s okay to dine with demons — as long as you wear a costume to protect yourself.
“You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons.” —1 Corinthians 10:21
So are we really supping with demons? Sharing food with someone represents a sacred connection. Adam and Eve first ate with God in the garden, but then chose to share an apple without God in the presence of Satan. Jesus spent much of his time on earth dining with sinners, because that is who He came to save. The last thing Jesus did before He was crucified was to share a meal with His disciples, and He commands us to continue remembering Him in that way until He comes again. When we see Him in heaven, it will be at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb! 
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” — Revelation 3:20
Satan is the world’s greatest counterfeiter, so he tempts us to sit at his table and join his feast (festival, festivity) by making it as attractive as he can. He knows we won’t say no if his festival looks like pure evil, so he’s let us create our own G-rated version that we aren’t as likely to resist.
But God says, “For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? … And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God.” —2 Corinthians 6:14-16
4. Halloween is an excuse to flaunt sexuality.
It’s true. Halloween is becoming more risqué every year. In fact, sometimes I think its real name is “Dress Like a Porn Star” Day. Girls dress more provocatively, and at much younger ages, on this day than any other. There seems to be an unwritten competition to have the raciest costume. For those passing on ghoul or gore, the only other worthy goals seem to be shock and immodesty. 
“But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord.” —Ephesians 5:3-8
I can vouch from personal experience that when we put on a costume, we often detach ourselves, sometimes ever so slightly, from our inhibitions. After all, it is much easier to act a tad bit naughty when our real identity is hidden. It’s almost as if bad behavior is somehow excused when we are in costume — and it’s much easier to explain in the morning: “I wasn’t actually sinning; I was just staying in character.”
Even though we are not to have fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, we prefer to emulate them and parade them on our Facebook pages as if they are somehow deserving of honor. 
“And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret.” —Ephesians 5:11-12
5. We play how we practice.
This is one of my husband’s favorite sayings. He is usually referring to table manners with our sons: If you use a knife and fork correctly at the kitchen table, then you won’t have any problems when it counts — when you’re at a nice restaurant with your employer or meeting your future wife’s parents for the first time. How we practice spills over into real life.
The same applies to Halloween. We think we can entertain the macabre, erect gravestones in our front yards, and prop dead “bodies” on our front porches. “Oh, but they’re not real,” we demur. Then we are appalled when a 17-year-old has a fascination with dead bodies and decides to act on his morbid desires. 
Do we really have any right to be shocked or even surprised when some among us decide to act out in real life the fascination with evil we insist on holding dear? We can't have it both ways: if we choose to be entertained by evil, we should be prepared for the time when it becomes reality.
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of darkness of this work, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” —Ephesians 6:12
Let us not drop our guard for a moment, or even camp out one night a year “for fun” on the side of the enemy.
6. Are we causing others to stumble?
Even if we don’t believe it’s dangerous to dabble in the ancient pagan practices of Druid priests, have we given any thought to the impact our actions might have on others? 
The Bible tells us just how important it is that we not lead His children astray (Matthew 18:6) or cause them to stumble (Mark 9:42). If we present witchcraft, promiscuity, and the occult in a fun and seductive manner now, are we opening the door to involvement in those practices in the future?
Will our children learn values we want them to learn by participating in this “holy day,” or would they learn better values, perhaps even courage, from seeing us stand up against evil even when our culture says it’s fine? It probably goes without saying, but what values are we impressing on our children when we send them trick-or-treating? Is the lie “give me your candy or I’ll play a trick” really becoming of anyone? 
If we forego Halloween but give our children a substitute celebration instead, are we sending the message that “I am trying to compensate because I think you’re missing out on something really amazing”? I want my children to believe what I myself believe: that we have been given something so much better than this! No more bobbing for apples in the church basement (a pagan fertility ritual, by the way) when I have true joy in knowing God’s true Son!
7. Be faithful in the small things.
For many Christians, the thought of whether to celebrate Halloween is a small issue, maybe even a non-issue. After all, it’s only one day a year. And what harm is there really in a handful of Snickers miniatures and a pillowy pumpkin costume?
Let me answer that this way: 
First, our character, integrity, and devotion to God is evident in the small things. If we can't be faithful in the small things, how will our hearts be faithful in the big things?
“He that is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much: and he that is unrighteous in a very little is unrighteous also in much.” —Luke 16:10
So, yes, even something as seemingly small as how we handle Halloween is important. 
Second, God has told us to focus on what is pure, noble, right, lovely, and admirable (Philippians 4:8). Is Halloween any of these things? No, and therefore it is unworthy of any of our time or thoughts.
Third, “the Son of God appeared for this purpose, that He might destroy the works of the devil.” —1 John 3:8 
If God came for the purpose of destroying the works of Satan, why do we then try remember, imitate, and even elevate those very things? 
How do we expect we will be able to keep ourselves faithful when the big temptations come alone when we can't even say no to glorifying evil in what we do for fun?
“Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.” —James 1:27
But we've joined forces with the world. In fact, instead of keeping ourselves unspotted, we have become one giant spot with it — we are so much alike no one can tell where the world ends and the Church begins.
We need to start keeping ourselves pure in the small things, so that we will be able to stay pure and undefiled in the big things. 
8. God wants to bless us — but not in the way the world blesses.
For those of us who love Jesus, why is it so important to entertain the macabre and flirt with the dark side for one day, one week, or one month out of the year, instead of delighting in the joy the Lord Himself has set before us? 
“Thus says the Lord, ‘Do not learn the way of the Gentiles; Do not be dismayed at the signs of heaven, for the Gentiles are dismayed at them. For the customs of the peoples are futile....’” —Jeremiah 10:2
We often say we don't want to deprive our children of candy, of dressing up, of the "fun" they have by participating in this holiday. But God has already told us the customs of the world are futile! 
Is this is the kind of happiness we want for our children, we are clearly setting our standards too low. Seek first God's kingdom and His righteousness, and He will provide all of the other things we need. 
“Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.” —Psalm 37:3-4
God in His divine sovereignty did not give us Halloween for our entertainment. Instead, we thought we were missing something and we hijacked it! Just like Eve in the garden, we believed Satan’s lie that God was withholding something good from us. God, however, has far better things in store for us than candy corn and parlor games. Why do we continue to grovel in the plastic sandbox when God has given us the entire beach?4
We continue pouring time and money into what is overall something that has no lasting fruit and does not in any way glorify God. Would our time be better spent in prayer, teaching our children about the real dangers their friends face by dabbling in the occult? As a Christian, I don't want to spend even a penny of my money on a $7-billion-a-year event that is so dishonoring to God. As a nation, it is painfully evident where our hearts are. 
“Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” —Luke 12:34
9. There is sin in the camp.
Even if we think our costumes are not sinful (as if it’s the costume that’s the problem and not the fact that we are still giving reverence to the holiday itself), what about others who have decided that there is nothing wrong with their costumes either? After all, they aren’t really practicing witchcraft, just dressing up as witches. So do we excuse the dressing up but draw the line at Ouija boards? What about pretending to cast spells? We have made ourselves the judges of what is good and evil instead of following God’s command to avoid even the spoils of the enemy.
I have two words to say to that kind of thinking: Remember Achan. 
In Joshua 7, Israel was accursed and could not even stand before its enemies because just one man, Achan, had taken the spoils of Jericho, when God had said no one was to touch them. By the sin of one man, the entire nation was judged.
“Stand up! What are you doing down on your face? Israel has sinned; they have violated my covenant, which I commanded them to keep. They have taken some of the devoted things; they have stolen, they have lied, they have put them with their own possessions. That is why the Israelites cannot stand against their enemies; they turn their backs and run because they have been made liable to destruction. I will not be with you anymore unless you destroy whatever among you is devoted to destruction.” —Joshua 7:8-12
It's just a holiday — what’s the big deal? The darkness of Halloween is devoted to destruction and is in no way honoring to our Father of lights (James 1:17) — and no orange and black sugar coating will make it so. God is a jealous God, and all pagan beliefs are sinful in God’s eyes. We can’t choose how much or even how nicely we want to celebrate. 
And we need to help hold each other accountable because we may all bear the judgment for sin in the camp.
At this time in history more than ever, we are in great need of God’s mercy on our land:
“If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” —2 Chronicles 7:14
Yet how many of us are truly humbling ourselves and turning from wickedness? We say we are followers of Christ, but we refuse to surrender in complete obedience to His Word in even the simple act of turning from a holiday that glorifies evil.
If still we refuse to repent and seek God’s wisdom in every aspect of our lives, we should not be surprised when God further removes His hand of blessing and protection from this great land. 
10. Come out from them and be separate.
Perhaps the reason I finally let go of Halloween was precisely because I didn’t want to. 
If that sounds like a contradiction, let me explain. You see, the very fact that I kept coming up with reasons and excuses so I could continue celebrating eventually led me to question my motives. Why was I hanging on so tightly? Was it possible that my celebration of Halloween had become an idol to me? Certainly it appeared so, because still I embraced the traditions of men even when I knew God’s heart on the matter. 
“Therefore come out from them and be separate from them, says the Lord.” —2 Corinthians 6:17
God wants His people to be holy, which means to be set apart. If everyone else is doing something, and I’m doing it too, that is a good time to examine myself to see if I’m really in the faith. If people don’t look at me and think I am peculiar (1 Peter 2:9) — if I fit right in with our culture and no one can tell I am any different — then I am probably doing something wrong. 
The Bible doesn’t say that we should have less up do with darkness than other people do; it says have nothing to do with evil. By even acknowledging and associating with the holiday, I was giving credence to it in my life and opening myself to deception. 
It is my prayer that everyone who follows Christ will be open to prayerfully seeking God’s wisdom about the traditions of man.
“Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them. For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord.” —Ephesians 5:6-10
Here are additional Bible verses you can review as you prayerfully seek God’s wisdom regarding whether your family should continue to celebrate Halloween:

Monday, August 24, 2015

Love Wins, but Also Warns

Love wins is a glorious truth, but it may not have the connotations many expect. (Reuters)

"Love wins."
It was the name of Rob Bell's poorly conceived book about hell and future judgment, and it was the content of President Obama's tweet after the Supreme Court ruled to redefined marriage.
Love wins.
Understood rightly, it is gloriously true.
Love won on the cross, when God sent His Son to die for the sins of the world, repaying our evil deeds with the supreme act of sacrificial love.
Love wins every hour of every day, as that same divine love breaks hard hearts and melts cold hearts and transforms the worst of sinners into the best of saints.
Love will win in the end, as forever and ever, the Father's family will enjoy His incredible goodness in a world without sin and suffering.
But love also warns. In fact, love that does not warn is not love at all.
The parent who doesn't warn a chain-smoking child about the dangers of nicotine is not a loving parent.
The doctor who doesn't warn a morbidly obese patient about the dangers of overeating is not a loving doctor.
The preacher who doesn't warn his straying flock about the dangers of spiritual compromise is not a loving pastor.
Love warns, and it warns loudly and clearly—but that does not mean harshly or with an angry, self-righteous spirit.
Love warns with tears.
Love warns with brokenness.
Love warns with longsuffering.
Love warns.
That's why Jesus wept in public as He warned Jerusalem about the terrible judgment that was at the door (Luke 19:41-45).
That's why Jeremiah wept in secret when the nation refused to hear his warnings of impending disaster (Jer. 13:17).
That's why Paul said to the elders of Ephesus, "For I know that after my departure, dreadful wolves will enter among you, not sparing the flock. Even from among you men will arise speaking perverse things, to draw the disciples away after them. Therefore watch, remembering that for three years night and day I did not cease to warn everyone with tears" (Acts 20:29-31).
When is the last time we warned someone with tears? When is the last time we cared enough to weep for them in private?
May God break our hearts with the things that break His heart. May the Lord shatter our indifference.
In the words of the book of Proverbs, "Open rebuke is better than secret love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful. ... He who rebukes a man will find more favor afterward than he who flatters with the tongue" (Prov. 27:5-6; 28:23).
We are not called to tickle people's ears and make them feel good. We are called to speak the truth in love, to have hearts of compassion and backbones of steel, to emulate the true prophets not the false prophets, to do the right thing rather than the convenient thing.
Oh that God would deliver us from a crippling, compromising, man-pleasing mentality!
In your life or ministry, do you really want to be surrounded by a bunch of Yes-men who tell you what you want to hear rather than what you need to hear? Do you really want to work with a bunch of carnal prophets who say, "All is well, all is well," when nothing is well (Jer. 6:14)? Then do the same for others and save them from disaster and self-destruction by warning them when they are on the wrong path.
Paul's final exhortation to Timothy rings as true today as—if not even more true than—the day it was written: "Preach the word, be ready in season and out of season, reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with all patience and teaching. For the time will come when people will not endure sound doctrine, but they will gather to themselves teachers in accordance with their own desires, having itching ears, and they will turn their ears away from the truth and turn to myths" (2 Tim. 4:2-4).
As Richard Baxter said many years ago, "If their houses were on fire, thou wouldst run and help them; and wilt thou not help them when their souls are almost at the fire of hell?"
That's why the saintly Robert Murray M'Cheyne exclaimed, "Oh! If we had more love to you, we would tell you more about hell. They do not love you who do not warn you, poor hell-deserving sinners. Oh! Remember that love warns."
It is true that love is patient and kind and is not irritable or rude (1 Cor. 13:4-7).
It is true that love does no harm to its neighbor (Rom. 13:10).
And it is true that, rightly understood, love wins.
But love wins because love warns, and if we walk in true love for God and our neighbor, we will warn.
Michael Brown is the host of the nationally syndicated talk radio show "The Line of Fire" and is the president of FIRE School of Ministry. His newest book is Outlasting the Gay Revolution: Where Homosexual Activism Is Really Going and How to Turn the Tide. Connect with him on Facebook at AskDrBrown or on Twitter @drmichaellbrown

Monday, April 27, 2015

Created to Praise

Psalm 102:16–18
[When] the Lord shall build up Zion; He shall appear in His glory. He shall regard the prayer of the destitute, and shall not despise their prayer. This will be written for the generation to come, and the people yet to be created may praise the Lord.     NKJV

     One of the great signs that the Lord’s coming is near at hand is stated there, “When the Lord shall build up Zion; He shall appear in His glory.” He’s coming back in glory. What’s going to precede that? The rebuilding of Zion. And today we see that taking place. The Lord is building up Zion. He’s building up and restoring the people of Israel. He’s also building up and restoring the Church of Jesus Christ. This is one great evidence among many that the Lord is ready to appear in His glory.

     It says then “He shall regard the prayer of the destitute.” There are so many prayers that have been offered and it seems they haven’t been answered. But there’s a day coming when millions and millions of prayers will be answered in a very short space of time by the personal return of the Lord Jesus Christ.

     And then the psalmist says that people shall be created to praise the Lord. This is written for that generation. I believe we’re in that generation. I believe God’s people have been so slack to praise Him for so many centuries that God is actually creating a people today for one specific purpose: that they may praise Him. And as we praise Him we, too, are preparing the way for the return of the Lord in His glory.

—Derek Prince

To listen to Derek's original audio on our website click here.

Monday, April 06, 2015

What Is Your Expectation

For he was [waiting expectantly and confidently] looking forward to the city which has fixed and firm foundations, whose Architect and Builder is God, as am I.Hebrews 11:10 Amplified Bible (AMP)

Friday, April 03, 2015

Three Questions Jesus Might Ask

1. Why do you spend so much time Criticizing other Christians Teachings and ways instead of reading my Word and seeking my Transformation in your own Life? Romans 14:4

2. Why do you Mistreat people who serve you in fast-food, retail, grocery stores and Church by complaining about them instead of praying for and honoring them? Romans 12:10

3. Why do you get offended so easily and freakout when others do or say things about you or your friends? 119:165

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Becoming an Intercessor

Becoming an Intercessor

Most believers are very much familiar with the term "intercession." But recently I've been asking the Lord, "What is the true meaning of intercession? What does it mean to be an intercessor?"

The Roots of Intercession

In the Old Testament, righteous kings, leaders and priests desired to know God’s statutes. Poets, psalmists and prophets all pleaded with the Lord to understand His ways.
When Jesus came, He made a powerful and controversial statement by declaring that He was the Way. The knowledge those of the Old Testament longed for was fulfilled in Christ—God in the flesh. The desire to know things that were previously beyond understanding was satisfied once Jesus came and shattered all cultural and personal paradigms of who God was and what His ways were.
The ways of God are expressed in the person of Christ the Messiah. Jesus brought the reality of heaven to earth when He descended, and He never did a single thing that contradicted the nature of the Father. He even said in John 10:31, "I and My Father are one."

Abiding in Christ

So what does this have to do with intercession? After all, isn't intercessory prayer just praying as hard as we can, striving to break demonic strongholds and principalities, and asking the Lord to do what is impossible for man to do on his own? Well, that's a part of it. But what are the origins of this? What takes us to that place? 
Here is the answer: powerful and effective intercession always has its roots planted in the rich soil of intimacy with Christ and the Holy Spirit. The relationship aspect cannot be neglected.
Jesus and other New Testament writers taught a recurring theme of "abiding" in Christ and in His words. To abide means “to remain or hold fast.” To remain or hold fast, in this case, means to share in a holy, passionate and ongoing relationship with the Lord and His Word. 
When we abide in Him, a powerful transaction occurs—we take on the Spirit and nature of Christ (1 John 4:13). As He is, so we become in this world (1 John 2:17). 
As we walk in intimacy, there is a transformation from the Spirit Himself, wherein we take on the powerful mind of Christ, the healing heart of the Holy Spirit and the perfect will of the Father (see 1 Cor. 2:16; Ps. 147:3; Rom. 12:2). 
As a result of this impartation, we align ourselves with God's purposes and carry the burdens of Christ for the world, for those who don't know Him. Jesus told His disciples in John 15:7, "If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you."
So why is it that if I ask God to give me a brand-new BMW, it probably won't happen? Because I'm praying from a heart of flesh, not from a heart that's been intertwined with God's. I'm not saying that it isn't God's desire to bless us, but we must remember that intercession is not about us at all. It's all about God—His plans, His purposes, and Hispeople. Intercession is a partnership with God.
It's from this understanding that we pray. Out of intimate relationship with Christ and the willingness to partner with Him, the basic nature of an intercessor is formed.


Consider the nature and content of your prayers. Are you praying from your own flesh or are you partnering with God through prayer? Perhaps He is calling you to a new level of growth and intimacy with Him. 
Spend some time alone with Him today, and ask Him to help you align your prayers with His heart, mind and will.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

The Cambridge Clarion ESV Reference Bible

We recommend the Cambridge Clarion ESV Reference Bible

Study requires an accurate translation if we are to get the clearest understanding possible. Among current translations the English Standard Version offers a clear accurate translation. Bible study also requires a quality Bible that is of the Highest quality for it is to last years of rigorous of daily use. We have received an exam copy from Cambridge and after several months of use Highly recommend it.
Cambridge publishes Bibles and prayer books in several Bible versions or translations, in a variety of styles and bindings, from practical hardback to top-quality calfskin and goatskin. Our leather Bibles are printed on paper with silver, gilt or art-gilt edges, have one or more ribbon markers and are packaged in a presentation box or slipcase.
Cambridge Clarion Bibles present the text in a single column, with the cross-references in the outer margin, giving the page a very well laid out appearance. The type size is just under 9 point with generous line spacing and is set in Lexicon No.1, a modern digital font that is extremely readable even in small type. Now the English Standard Version comes in this format.
These are Bibles of the highest quality, printed on India paper and Smyth-sewn for flexibility and endurance. They come in a range of superior binding styles: calf split leather, top-grain calfskin, and edge-lined goatskin, all with two ribbons. There are 15 maps and a concordance.
paragraph format, superb readability
text runs across the page like an ordinary book
India paper, black-letter text, cross-references
concordance, 15 colour maps, two ribbons, gilt or art-gilt edges
Typography: 8.75/10.25 pt Lexicon, Page size: 180 x 131 mm
Page extent: 2080pp., Spine width: 40mm.
English Standard Version (ESV) stands in the classic mainstream of English Bible translations over the past half-millennium. The fountainhead of that stream was William Tyndale's New Testament of 1526; marking its course were the King James Version of 1611 (KJV), the English Revised Version of 1885 (RV), the American Standard Version of 1901 (ASV), and the Revised Standard Version of 1952 and 1971 (RSV). In that stream, faithfulness to the text and vigorous pursuit of accuracy were combined with simplicity, beauty, and dignity of expression. Our goal has been to carry forward this legacy for a new century.
To this end each word and phrase in the ESV has been carefully weighed against the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, to ensure the fullest accuracy and clarity and to avoid under-translating or overlooking any nuance of the original text. The words and phrases themselves grow out of the Tyndale-King James legacy, and most recently out of the RSV, with the 1971 RSV text providing the starting point for our work. Archaic language has been brought to current usage and significant corrections have been made in the translation of key texts. But throughout, our goal has been to retain the depth of meaning and enduring language that have made their indelible mark on the English-speaking world and have defined the life and doctrine of the church over the last four centuries.
 The ESV is an "essentially literal" translation that seeks as far as possible to capture the precise wording of the original text and the personal style of each Bible writer. It seeks to be transparent to the original text, letting the reader see as directly as possible the structure and meaning of the original.