Friday, October 31, 2014

King-Sized, Light-Shining Halloween!

Gabrielle singing worship songs at the door.


(This was originally posted in October 2010.  Sharing it again.  This year, we are playing Toby Mac and Jamie Grace from our front porch.)  



"Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil."  Ephesians 5:15-16
One day a year, all of the children in our neighborhood knock on our door.  Some children we know very well, others we are meeting for the first time.  But they come.  They come for a treat.  We give them even more...we give them the message of the Gospel. 

Halloween can be a touchy topic of conversation for Christians.  We respect however the Lord leads each family individually.  Recently, a friend shared a sermon that John MacArthur taught on 10-31-09 (click here).  His well-balanced sermon confirmed for us that we have indeed been honoring God in our family with what we do on Halloween.  In the part of MacArthur's sermon titled "The Christian Response to Halloween", he says this:  "Ultimately, Christian participation in Halloween is a matter of conscience before God. Whatever level of Halloween participation you choose, you must honor God by keeping yourself separate from the world and by showing mercy to those who are perishing. Halloween provides the Christian with the opportunity to accomplish both of those things in the gospel of Jesus Christ. It's a message that is holy, set apart from the world; it's a message that is the very mercy of a forgiving God. What better time of the year is there to share such a message than Halloween?"     

So, what does our family do on Halloween?  We redeem the day.  We shine our lights for Christ. We worship Him in song.  We share the Gospel of Salvation.

Here's what our family does on Halloween:  

All of the lights are ON in and outside of our house on Halloween.  Our house is LIT UP!  "The light of the righteous shines brightly, but the lamp of the wicked is snuffed out."  Proverbs 13:9

We play worship music from a CD player we put on our front porch.  This year, we will be playing the complete series of "Seed of Family Worship".  It's great!  "All the nations you have made will come and worship before you, O Lord; they will bring glory to your name."  Psalm 86:9

 


We give out King-Sized candy bars!  (Even John MacArthur said not to be stingy!)  We are known for giving out king-sized bars now.  In our hearts, we are giving to honor the King!  (We prepare enough of everything for 100 children, and we usually are visited by 80 or so.)  "...the righteous give generously."  Psalm 37:21


 

Best of all, we share the Gospel message.  Each child knocking at our door receives a tract sharing the Gospel.  This year, we are also giving out "Plan of Salvation Faith Bands"!!  We are very excited about this.  Each pack of Plan of Salvation Faith Bands contains the Gospel message and two sets of crosses in the Gospel colors!  They can then go and share the Gospel message, too! 


Halloween: Trick or Truth? Tracts, 25

 "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."  Matthew 5:14-16   


Joshua and Gabrielle with our King-Sized Candy Bars!
10-31-09

Joshua and Gabrielle dress up in bright, colorful, innocent costumes. 

 "There's nothing inherently evil about candy, costumes, or trick-or-treating in the neighborhood. In fact, all of that can provide a unique gospel opportunity with neighbors. Even handing out candy to neighborhood children--provided you're not stingy--can improve your reputation among the kids. As long as the costumes are innocent and the behavior does not dishonor Christ, trick-or-treating can be used to further gospel interests."  -- John MacArthur 

We pray that those precious children who knock on our door will ultimately knock on His door!  "For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened."  Matthew 7:8

"I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture."  John 10:9
  
"So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God."
1 Corinthians 10:31

Monday, October 6, 2014

Grace in the Nooks and Crannies


"But just as you excel in everything --
in faith, in speech, in knowledge,
in complete earnestness and in your love for us --
see that you also excel in this grace of giving."
2 Corinthians 8:7

One English muffin was remaining in the package. 

Two kids.  One English muffin. 

Joshua was in the basement family room completely unaware that there weren't enough muffins to go around should everyone want an English muffin for breakfast that morning.  Gabrielle came to me and said, "Mom, there is only one English muffin left and I really, really want it for breakfast.  But Joshua might want it, too.  And I have had more than my share already from this package.  I am going to ask Joshua if he would like to have it."

Feeling hopeful that she might get to have the last English muffin, but really wanting to do the honorable thing, Gabrielle went to Joshua and asked, "Joshua, do you want this last English muffin for your breakfast today?  There is only one left, and I wanted to see if you would like to have it."

Enthusiastically concentrating on his PlayStation Madden Football game more than realizing the love and honesty demonstrated to him by this invitation from his sister, he said, "Sure, I'll have it! Thanks!"  Gabrielle turned and made her way back up the stairs from the basement family room to the kitchen.  Seeing the disappointment on her face, I saw her put the package back on the kitchen counter.  

First Day of School 2014

As I sat in the dining room finishing my devotion time, I felt a twinge of sadness for my sweet girl who wanted that last English muffin.  Making a mental note to pick up more muffins the next time I was the store, I wondered what Gabrielle might choose for breakfast instead of the English muffin. Yogurt and fruit? Toast? Oatmeal? Cereal? 

Then I smelled the comforting aroma of something being toasted in the toaster.  Walking into the kitchen with curiosity, I asked Gabrielle what she was toasting.

"I am toasting the English muffin for Joshua, and I am going to serve it to him.  I am putting butter and grape jelly on it.  I know he likes it that way."

Wow.  

Not only did Gabrielle maturely handle the disappointment of not having the last English muffin, she prepared the English muffin for her brother just the way he likes it. She sincerely wanted him to have it and be blessed by a toasted English muffin.

Something she wanted for herself, Gabrielle lovingly prepared for her brother.

Wow.  Double wow.    


Excellence in the grace of giving.

"Josh-uuu-aaaa", she called to him from the kitchen, "Your English muffin is ready!"

Joshua bolted up the stairs.  As Gabrielle handed him his plate, he said, "Wow, thanks, Brie!"

Wanting to be sure he appreciated the significance of her sacrifice and love, I said, "Joshua, do you realize there was only one English muffin left and, even though Gabrielle was really hoping to have it for breakfast, she prepared it for you because you wanted to have it, too?"

"Really?  Thanks, Gabrielle.  Do you want half?  We can split it!"

"It's alright", Gabrielle responded.  "I really want you to enjoy the whole thing."

Grace and love in the nooks and crannies.

Our children teach me more about God's love than anyone else. 

I have thought about that English muffin a lot since that morning a few weeks ago.  The humility, the surrender, the love, the giving, the grace, the selflessness, the bittersweet sacrifice, the sincerity, the honesty, the sweetness, the kindness. And I want to capture, remember and be changed by these beautiful moments. (Lord knows so many moments are not like that!)

I want to show grace and love in the nooks and crannies of life.  In the small places where little blessings go a long way.  In the hard places where grace is spread out in the bittersweet sacrifice of surrendering and is perhaps only seen by God.  In the sweet places where God's grace toward me allows me to prepare a blessing for another who needs grace. 

So I am looking for those nooks and crannies where His love and grace are spread are like butter and grape jelly on a freshly toasted English muffin. Nooks and crannies that serve up an opportunity to bless another person with His refreshing and satisfying grace. Grace that soaks our hearts with His generous love.

Grace upon grace...for each nook and cranny of my heart and yours.


 Gabrielle in her cousin Stephanie's wedding ~ August 11, 2012



"And God is able to make all grace abound to you,
so that in all things at all times,
having all that you need,
you will abound in every good work."
2 Corinthians 9:8

"Do nothing out of selfish ambition
or vain conceit,
but in humility
consider others better than yourselves."
Philippians 2:3

[originally published 9/3/12]