Happy Hal – I mean, Harvest Festival…

Spooky Spurgeon

The subject of Halloween is a touchy one for Christians. ?Some believe we shouldn?t celebrate it because it has demonic roots; others believe it?s just a cultural holiday like Thanksgiving or Elvis’s Birthday or The First Day of Buck Season.

At any rate, for years clever Christians have found ways to celebrate Halloween while technically not celebrating it. ?After all, it?s fun for kids to dress up and go around collecting candy. ?And if our kids are deprived of this childhood memory, they might grow up warped and depraved and steal pumpkins off their neighbors porches and smash them and run away laughing maniacally.

So we creative Christians solved the problem. ?We don?t celebrate Halloween. ?We celebrate Harvest. Or Autumn Leaves.? Or The Squash Festival.? We dress up and have parties and collect candy – we ?harvest? candy.? Get it?? We don?t say ?trick or treat? – we say, ?Happy Harvest to Ya! ?(wink, wink). ?Any candy we can reap??

Of course we won’t dress our kids up like witches and vampires and ghosts.? We dress them like cowboys and ballerinas, princesses, dinosaurs and C.S. Lewis. ?All ?nice? edifying costumes.

But what if your kids don?t want to be cowboys and princesses?? There?s plenty of blood, gore and scary stuff in the Bible. ?Here are a few suggestions for biblical Harvest costumes:

Goliath. He was pretty scary right? ?9 feet tall. ?Evil Philistine face.? 6 fingers on each hand.? Get a broom, stand it on end and mount an evil looking jack-o-lantern for Goliath?s head.? (Don’t worry, it’s ok to carve a jack-o-lantern for a biblical character).? For an extra creepy effect, include a stone sunk right into the center of his forehead and make his eyes slightly crossed, as they would have been the moment after impact. ?Be sure to paint some blood dripping from around the stone.

Revelation has a number of great costume possibilities, l
ike the “living creatures” in Rev. 4.? You have 4 kinds – a flying lion, a flying ox, a flying eagle, and a flying man-face. Each one has 6 wings covered with eyes.? Get some cardboard and foil for the wings and glue on about 3000 sets of doll eyes which can be purchased at your local craft store.

There are the Scary Riders from Revelation 6. Like the Rider on the Red horse with a great sword. ?Simply purchase a horse from your local equestrian club, and paint it red. ?Make a sword out of wood (if you can?t get a real one) and be sure to put plenty of red paint on it for blood.? The Black Horse Rider is scary too – though he carries a pair of scales. ?Not quite as exciting as a bloody sword, but how often have your neighbors had a kid come on Halloween carrying scales? ?Or you could go for the pale horse whose Rider is named Death.? Borrow a skull from your local college biology department, and paint the word “Death” across the forehead.? If that doesn?t capture the spirit of Harvest, I don?t know what does.

Perhaps the scariest Revelation costume is the Creepy Locusts. First, create a large grasshopper body out of paper mache (see an insect book for details). ?Give it a human face and put a crown on its head. ?Buy a wig because the creepy locusts have women?s hair. ?Then get some fake fangs like lion?s teeth (shame on you if thought of vampire teeth – remember it?s a Harvest festival – a Harvest Festival with man-sized locusts with men?s faces and women?s hair and lion?s teeth). ?Complete the outfit with a? breastplate of iron , and a large scorpion tail, which most people have laying around in their basements.

Finally nothing says ?Happy Harvest? like a kid dressed up like a church father. And to help you out, we give you 3 masks for you to print and cut out yourself – In addition to Spooky Spurgeon above, we give you Monstrous Martin (Luther) and Creepy Calvin.? Your 6-year old will love scaring the neighbors with them!

Happy Harvest Festival to ya!

Monstrous Martin

Creepy Calvin

My Book Now Available For .99 Cents

Several years ago I wrote a book about my dad entitled My Friend, My Hero, My Dad. The book is about all the different things that my dad did that made him an outstanding dad. I especially tried to highlight the things that he did which pointed me to the Lord. The book is intended to be an encouragement for parents, like myself, who are in the throes of parenting and are easily discouraged.

In Philippians 3:17 Paul says, ?Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.? I want to imitate my dad and walk in his example.

When I first released the book, it was only available as a PDF. As of today, it is finally available on Amazon Kindle for only 0.99 cents. I hope you find it helpful.


Last Day To Enter CD Sets Giveaway

Last week we said we’d like to give away 3 sets of 10 “Hide the Word” Scripture Memory CDs.? Thanks to everyone who shared on Facebook and Twitter.

If you haven’t done so yet, there’s still time to enter.? Just enter a comment below or at the original post, like “Enter me,” or “I’m sending you a check for $1000″ (just kidding) and if you’d like, share this with your friends.? Tomorrow I’m going to randomly select 3 winners.? I’ll then contact the winners and mail them each a set.

Thanks again!

UPDATE 11.1.11 – WE HAVE WINNERS!? Hey Everyone, I have selected the 3 winners of sets of Hide the Word CDs and notified them by email.? Thank you all for entering and sharing!

Pursue The Right Glory

I?ve been reading Steve Jobs’ biography, “Steve Jobs”.

I can?t shake the sense of tragedy I feel that though he was so incredibly gifted, he didn?t know the Lord (at least not that I know). ?It seems that he spent his whole life pursuing excellence, glory and greatness, yet not the right kind. ?I want to pursue the right kind of glory.

When we?re born again, God gives us an appetite and desire for glory – his glory. The Christian?s great hope is the hope of seeing and enjoying Jesus in all his glory, and being conformed to the likeness of his glory.

God orchestrates our lives to display his glory in countless ways. ?We display his glory by singing his praises. ?We show his glory by loving others. ?We glorify him by serving others, forgiving others, caring for the poor, teaching our children about God, and working heartily in our jobs and homes. ?We bring him glory by trusting him, hoping in him, and making him our great treasure in life.

When the goal of all we do is the glory of God it transforms how we think about every circumstance in our lives.

When we?re having a conflict in our marriage or with a roommate or another believer, instead of trying to ?win? or pursue our own happiness, we should ask what would bring God the most glory in this situation.? Puritan Thomas Manton says:

“We need to deal with God… that God may be glorified in our condition, whatever it is. If he wills for us to be rich and full, that he might be glorified in our bounty; if he wills us to be poor and low, that he may be glorified in our patience; if he will have us healthy, that he may be glorified in our labour; if he will have us sick, that he may be glorified in our pain; if he will have us live, that he may be glorified in our lives; if he will have us die, that he may be glorified in our deaths.?

I?m so grateful to have been part of a church of flawed saints for the past 38 years, as we?ve tried our best to glorify Jesus together. ?We?re definitely not slick or polished; most of us are just average in our gifts. ?Often it feels like we?re just muddling along, but we?re serving and caring for each other and seeking to reach people for Christ. Imperfectly. ?At times imperceptibly. ?In good times and bad. ?And we?re doing it all for the glory of Jesus.

I can?t wait to be there on that final day to watch Jesus reward my friends. ?To hear him say ?Well done, good and faithful servant? to the humble servants in our church. ?I?m so excited to see the rewards Jesus heaps on my brothers and sisters who have glorified him in their suffering.

O Lord, help us to live and die for your glory.

photo by Jacobo Garcia

Mike Bullmore, Pastor of Wizardy

This is Mike Bullmore. Mike Bullmore is a fantastic, gospel-centered preacher. Mike Bullmore also does strange things with his hands at times.

From the above photo, it would appear that Mike is either:

  • Summoning a large spiritual fireball to fling at an unruly member of his congregation.
  • Preparing to strangle / hug / horse collar tackle someone.
  • Doing some form of moose impersonation, probably as an illustration of some sort, but maybe just for fun.
  • Jumping out from behind his podium, either as a part of an elaborate game of tag, or, to scare someone into repentance.

Or maybe he’s just preaching. But I like the other choices better.

What do you think is happening?

The Attention and Acceptance I So Desperately Crave

Let me give you a little glimpse into my psychological weirdness.

I like to spend most of my days wearing a giant butterfly costume. Just kidding. Let’s try this again. What I was going to say is that I don’t like to be the center of attention. On my wedding day, I didn’t enjoy the fact that everyone was there just for me and Jen. I don’t like birthday parties in my honor. I would make a terrible politician. Mostly because I don’t know anything about politics, and because my campaign slogan would be: “I’ll get this figured out someday!”, but also because I don’t like being the center of attention. In all honestly, I’m kind of introverted, and I don’t need a whole lot of relational acceptance to be happy. As long as Jen, Charis, and Ella love me, I’m good.

Now here where’s the weird part comes in. In spite of my introverted personality, I crave respect, honor, and attention. I’m a pastor, which means I’m up in front of people a lot. I want people to think I’m a great speaker. I want people to want to listen to me. I want people to read my books and to tell me that, other than the Bible, they’ve never read such an incredibly profound piece of writing, and that, if I wouldn’t mind, please sign this 8.5 x 11 glossy photo. I don’t like to be the center of attention, but I desperately want attention!

I know, weird.

But I don’t think that I’m a total nut job. At least, I tell myself that. Because everybody falls into these categories in some way or another. Everyone wants to know that they are accepted and fit in and are not an outsider. Everyone wants to be noticed in one way or another. That’s why we buy the latest in fashion and get?tattoos?and join clubs. We want someone, anyone, to welcome us. To say that they accept us.

All these longings and desires, which will never really be fulfilled on this earth, point to a day when they shall be fulfilled. Not by other people, but by God himself.

It is written that we shall “stand before him”, shall appear, shall be inspected. The promise of glory is the promise, almost incredible and only possible by the work of Christ, that some of us, that any of us who really chooses, shall actually survive that examination, shall find approval, shall please God. To please God…to be a real ingredient in the divine happiness…to be loved by God, not merely pitied, but delighted in as an artist delights in his work or a father in a son – it seems impossible, a weight or burden of glory which our thoughts can hardly sustain. But so it is. (C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory, 38-39)

I want to labor and live for the day when I will hear the divine approval. No amount of acceptance or praise on earth will ever compare to hearing the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” I want my cravings and ambitions for acceptance and praise to point me to the day when those cravings will truly be satisfied by God himself.

Give me one pure and holy passion // give me one magnificent obsession // Jesus give me one glorious ambition for my life // to know and follow hard after you (One Pure and Holy Passion, Mark Altrogge)

+photo by lanier67

Scripture Memory Songs Full Set Giveaway

I’d like to give away 3 full sets of 10 Hide the Word Scripture Memory CDs.

Since 2000, I’ve been setting Scripture to music, word for word, to make it easier to memorize God’s word.

Here’s how you can get a full set for yourself, your friends, your church, your school or knitting club. All you need to do is enter in the comment section below.? Just say, “Enter me” or “I’d like a set” or whatever.? Then, if you’d like to, share this on Facebook or tweet it.? In a week I’ll do a random selection of all who enter.? Then I’ll mail each of the 3 winners a set.

If you’d like to listen to some of the songs you can hear them at forevergrateful.com.


Four Ways to Cultivate God?s Joy

These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. ?JN 15.11

It?s God?s will that his children experience his joy. ?Here are four ways we can cultivate the joy of Jesus in our lives.

Remember the gospel

?Spiritual depression or unhappiness in the Christian life is very often due to our failure to recognize the greatness of the gospel.? — Martyn Lloyd Jones

Regularly meditate on the incredible truth that when you were a God-hating sinner, he so loved you he sent his Son across the chasm your sins had created, to obey God for 33 years for you, then bear the horrific wrath of God in your place to make you God?s child.

Regularly meditate on God?s character.

Thinking about who our God is and what he?s like has the effect of producing joy in us, because all that God is, he is to his children.

You’re rich in love, and You’re slow to anger
Your name is great, and Your heart is kind
For all Your goodness I will keep on singing
Ten thousand reasons for my heart to find — Matt Redman

Remember your spiritual benefits and thank God for them constantly

Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. (Psalm 103:2-5)

Christians are the richest people on earth. ?Even if we lack in this world, if we know Christ, we?re rich.

Forget about whether you?re joyful and serve others

We Americans are way too concerned with whether we?re happy or not. ?I once saw a TV special in which John Stossel asked people in 3rd world countries whether they were happy or not. ?Most of them answered, ?I never think about it.? ?It wasn?t even a category for them.

One of the best ways to grow in joy is to forget about ourselves in the service of others. ?Not only will we find joy in serving, but God promises we?ll reap what we sow. ?I often find that the Lord fills me joy after I?ve looked to the interest of another.

Lord Jesus, fill us with your joy today. ?And may everyone we know see your joy in us.

photo by Pranav Prakash