Category Archives: Holidays

Something to Celebrate (This October)

The bright green of summer bursts into orange, red, yellow, and brown. Leaves whip in the wind and scatter on the ground, the fresh decay producing a spicy-sweet scent.  The harvest is being brought in from the fields and orchards—potatoes, corn, apples, pumpkins, and gourds of many kinds. Pumpkin spice is in-season, and soon will be the Thanksgiving feast for Americans. But, before this feast of mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, and cranberry sauce, parents and children and people of all ages are browsing the candy and the costume isles, preparing for a large celebration of horror, gluttony, and greed.

Can Halloween even be called a holiday? Doesn’t holiday mean “holy day”. No matter how many dress up as princesses, angels, priests, nuns, and monks, Halloween is anything but holy.

creepyterrifiedchild

What’s holy about murders, escaped convicts, wizards and witches, zombies (disgusting, rotting corpses that have returned from their graves to engage in disgusting acts of cannibalism), vampires (cursed, living corpses that drink the blood of other victims, spreading the curse like the rabies virus), ghosts, demons (evil spirits), and even portrayals of the devil himself (or what people may think he looks like), paying homage to these evils. Well, it’s his unholy day anyway.

Pranks will be played around and on this time. People will be terrified and children will be scarred for life, dragged through haunted houses or taken on a terrifying hayride where they may see a lifeless body hanging from a tree. All in the name of fun.

As a little child, I enjoyed hayrides, until strange figures began coming out at night, running after the unsuspecting victims trapped on the wagon. I even remember my first  pretend haunted house experience. I didn’t want to go in. It was dark and frightening enough outside, and it may not have even been Halloween yet. I was convinced to go with the offer of being carried through, or having my hand held, but whatever was offered was not truly given, and I found myself heart-racing, cautiously walking through the disturbing rooms. At first I might have thought I would be alright, until the individual dressed as a sleeping (or pretending to be dead) snorkeler or scuba diver reached out to grab me.

witch

“May the good spirits go with you, dearie.”

scaredkid

“No, no! No spirits! I don’t want any spirits!”

We made it to a room with a large bubbling cauldron, at which a witch greeted us with this blessing, “May the good spirits go with you.” Unable to tell the difference between the good spirits and the bad spirits, and being already terrified, I shook my head and cried, “I don’t want any spirits!” At least this witch seemed somewhat nice, but it seemed like we were almost out of the haunted house, and I wanted to get out as soon as possible. The worst terror was right ahead of us.  We stepped into a wide, dark room. I could see the exit on the other side, and we made our way to it. Suddenly, we heard a chainsaw roaring and I looked over to see a man in a hockey mask coming out of the shadows, coming at us with a chainsaw. “Run!” I heard shouted, perhaps by the adult who had convinced me to come on this horrifying adventure. I darted for the door, traumatized.

Another Halloween tradition, though enjoyed year-round, is horror movies. Yes, especially on Halloween, people love to watch movies full of darkness, sorcery, and spirits of the dead, demons, or even live people emotionally and mentally traumatizing and brutally murdering animals human beings and animals. Brutal is an understatement, considering the blood, gore, and merciless evil of it all. Sometimes it seems like more natural causes cause the deaths, but either way it centers around deaths in many of the most horrific ways possible. At least a few of the popular horror movies were also cursed, and the actors themselves and others involved in the production of the movies in the real world also died, having given themselves to the work of the devil.  Nothing scars a child for life quite like watching a man with long claws drag a woman across the ceiling, blood smearing all over the room. There are real evil forces at work behind these movies, and by watching them you invite these evil forces into your home.

By-the-way, the book of Rome is applicable to all Christians, but since Catholicism came out of Rome, should it not be even more applicable to Catholics, especially Roman Catholics? Paul warned us in his letter to the Christians at Rome, “And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet.

And even as they did not like to retain God in [their] knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;

Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness;

full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,

Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:

Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.”

(Romans 1: 27-32) If you are watching a horror movie for the fun of it, are you not taking pleasure in all the murder and other evils that are featured in the movie, though they be fiction, which are lies, of which Christ warned, that those who love and make a lie will not enter Heaven (see Revelation 21: 27 and 22: 15), so the fact that the stories are made up does not make it any better.

Autumn forest

“ God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (2nd Timothy 1:7, all but first word)

Even in my childhood, there was a risk of Halloween candy being poisoned. Mom would carefully inspect the candy for tampering, and candy wrapped in dark wrappers that could easily be opened were also discarded. My dad and stepmother at the time had a better solution, and would take us trick-or-treating to people who they knew and trusted (or so I understood it).  But candy itself is (at least in most cases), poison. Sugar weakens the immune system and the enamel on your teeth. It causes unnecessary excitement (attention disorders and difficulty sleeping) and irritability, and enough of it can even give you a hangover.

And let’s not forget the other pranks, toilet-papering and egging (vandalism) of other people’s property. And all in the name of “fun”? Really?

What else goes on and around the time of Halloween? Did you know that there are many who  actually take this time very seriously? Although celebrated at different times in different parts of the world (whenever it is autumn, between summer and winter, and in our part of the world being about October 31st to November 6th or later), real witches, wiccans, druids, and other pagans consider this time to be sacred (and perhaps less terrifying). They celebrate this time of year as a holiday called “Samhain” (originally the “celtic fire festival” in ancient Europe) and other names. Samhain has been celebrated in paganism for centuries, is not only a celebration of the harvest and the beginning of winter, but also a spiritual new year and a festival in honor of the dead.

halloween-symbol-1350554186KpH

Yes, Samhain to these pagan worshippers is a serious religious practice. They believe that there is a special connection or weakening of the barrier between this world and the spirit world on Samhain, and that the dead can freely travel between this world and the spirit world. They may collect objects from nature to decorate their homes, and/or yards. Samhain decorations include autumn-style wreaths, cornstalks, apples, pumpkins, or even cauldrons with candles lit inside them. In their homes, they build altars for the dead, light candles for them, and even set a place for them at the table and offer food to them. They meditate at the altars in hopes of gaining some experience from the dead, and use the day for calling upon their gods for guidance and comfort in the coming year. Samhain is also a day where they perform rituals (usually in private) to communicate with the dead, and use tarot, scrying, or other methods of divination for guidance for the future. Bonfires are also lit and magic is practiced around these fires.  Because they believe the laws of time and space were suspended during Samhain and spirits would wander the earth, people dressed up as ghosts or used other disguises to fool the spirits and keep themselves from being harmed by them. Turnips were carved much like pumpkins are today carved into jack-o-lanterns (which also have their roots in occult lore), to look like guardian or protective spirits, and apples were buried along the roadside for wandering spirits. Single candles were lit and placed in windows to guide the spirits.

Little children also participated in playing pranks around or during the time of Samhain. The biggest difference perhaps is that adherents to paganism take these days seriously.

Catholics (and some Lutherans and Anglicans) also take these days seriously. All Saint’s Day (or All Hallows) November 1st (also a day of Samhain), is a day declared “holy” by the Catholic church in honor of the dead saints they believe have gone to Heaven. Catholics are required to attend mass on All Hallows (unless they are very ill), if the day falls on a Sunday (which it does, this year), but the bishops of each conference can decide on the rules of obligation for the day. In Ireland, the day was celebrated on the 20th of April, to avoid association with the feast of Samhain. Today, it is celebrated largely on November 1st, one of the days of the feast of Samhain, and the next day (November 2nd) is All Soul’s Day (or “The Day of the Dead” in Mexico),  which is dedicated to prayer for the souls of the dead that have not yet, in Catholic view, made it to Heaven. All Saint’s Day in Mexico falls on the day of deceased children. Graves are visited and flowers are left on the graves of the dead and, candles are lit for the deceased (instead of flowers) in Eastern Europe. In the Phillipines, graves are repaired and painted by family members. In Mexico, the days dedicated to the dead start on October 31st and continue until after November 2nd. These practices for honoring the dead are also practiced by pagans and spirit-worshippers during Sahmhain, even if the form differs slightly.

The evening before All Saints’ Day or All Hallows was known as All Hallows Eve, shortened for our day to Halloween. This is what most of America recognizes and celebrates.

You can find nothing in Scripture can justify participation in or celebration of Samhain nor Halloween nor All Saints’ nor All Souls’ Day. In fact, Scripture supports the opposite view, comparing sleep to death (Daniel 12: 2, John 11: 11, 1 Thessalonians 4: 14, Ephesians 5: 14) Of death, the Bible also says:

“Behold, for peace I had great bitterness:  but thou hast in love to my soul [delivered it] from the pit of corruption: for thou hast cast all my sins behind  thy back.

For the grave cannot praise thee, death can [not] celebrate thee: they that go down into the pit cannot hope for thy truth.The living, the living, he shall praise thee, as I [do] this day: the father to the children shall make known thy truth.” (Isaiah 38:17-19) The dead do not praise nor celebrate God, so they cannot possibly be in Heaven, even if they are saints. There is also no hope for them after death, so to pray for them is a waste of time and breath.

The dead do not come to us and join us, not even during this time. “This [is] an evil among all  [things] that are done under the sun, that [there is] one event unto all: yea, also the heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness [is] in their heart while they  live, and after that [they go] to the dead.

For to him that is joined to all the living there is hope: for a living dog is better than a dead lion.  For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten.  Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any [thing] that is done under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 9:3-6) They don’t know anything anymore, nor love, nor hate anyone, and therefore they  do not come visiting their loved ones nor seeking vengeance on their enemies. Since they don’t know anything, it’s obvious that they can’t give advice for nor foretell the future.

And sorcery, divination, and communication with the dead is forbidden on pain of death.  In fact, God’s people are not even to associate themselves with those that do these things.

“There shall not be found among you [any one] that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, [or] that useth divination, [or] an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For all that do these things [are] an abomination unto the LORD: and because of these abominations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee.” (Deut 18:10-12)

“A man also or woman that hath a familiar spirit, or that is a wizard, shall surely be put to death: they shall stone them with stones: their blood [shall be] upon them.” (Leviticus 20: 27)

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In the Webster’s 1828 dictionary, written during a time in which the definitions of most of the words used in the King James Bible’s language still held mostly the same understanding, necromancer and necromancy are defined:

“NECROMANCER, n. [See Necromancy.] One who pretends to foretell future events by holding converse with departed spirits; a conjurer.

NECROMANCY, n. [Gr. Dead, and divination.]

  1. The art of revealing future events by means of a pretended communication with the dead. This imposture is prohibited. Deuteronomy 18:11.
  2. Enchantment; conjuration.”

Familiar is also defined:

“FAMILIAR, a. famil’yar. [L. familiaris, familia, family, which see.]

  1. Pertaining to a family; domestic.
  2. Accustomed by frequent converse; well acquainted with; intimate; close; as a familiar friend or companion.
  3. Affable; not formal or distant; easy in conversation.

Be thou familiar, but by no means vulgar.

  1. Well acquainted with; knowing by frequent use. Be familiar with the scriptures.
  2. Well known; learned or well understood by frequent use. Let the scriptures be familiar to us.
  3. Unceremonious; free; unconstrained; easy. The emperor conversed with the gentleman in the most familiar manner.
  4. Common; frequent and intimate. By familiar intercourse, strong attachments are soon formed.
  5. Easy; unconstrained; not formal. His letters are written in a familiar style.

He sports in loose familiar strains.

  1. Intimate in an unlawful degree.

A poor man found a priest familiar with his wife.

FAMILIAR, n.

  1. An intimate; a close companion; one long acquainted; one accustomed to another by free, unreserved converse.

All my familiars watched for my halting. Jeremiah 20:10.

  1. A demon or evil spirit supposed to attend at a call. But in general we say, a familiar spirit.
  2. In the court of Inquisition, a person who assists in apprehending and imprisoning the accused.”

The definition in bold is the one we can apply here to scripture. So what of Saul and his conversation with Samuel? Obviously, the spirit was not actually Samuel. Scripture is in harmony with itself. When so much Scripture says that the dead do not know anything, and not to consult a necromancer or one who uses a familiar spirit (a demon), it can be concluded that what Saul saw was actually a demon, posing as Samuel. But the Samuel and the Lazarus and the Rich man debate is another topic that has already been covered.

Christ’s beloved disciple, John, recorded this warning from his Master, “And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.

And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.  He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.

But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” (Revelation 21: 5-8)

Those who continue to persist in these sins will be forever lost. The lake of fire and brimstone is also associated with the second death, an eternal death, not an ever-burning hell, confirming the state of the dead as being dead/gone into oblivion (For the second death, the death of the lost. Those who die in Christ have hope in a resurrection.)

And God has declared through His Son, “But as touching the resurrection of thedead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac,

and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.” (Matthew 22: 31 and 32, and see also Mark 12: 26 & 27 and Luke 20: 37 & 28 for parallel verses)

God is the God of the living, not of the dead. There is nobody dead who praises or worships Him, but only those who are living, which makes a resurrection of the dead necessary, so that they can praise and worship Him in living bodies.

“And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that

peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead?” (Isaiah 8: 19)

“Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all [men].  See that none render evil for evil unto any [man]; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all [men].

Rejoice evermore.

Pray without ceasing.

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

Quench not the Spirit.

Despise not prophesyings.

Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.

Abstain from all appearance of evil. 

And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and [I pray God] your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

(1 Thessalonians: 5: 14-23)

“And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove [them].

For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret.”

(Ephesians 5: 11 & 12)

So what should we, as Christians, do? Let me share a story with you, a true story, and you may see that God has indeed given us something worth acknowledging.

“The festival of All-Saints was an important day for Wittenberg. The costly relics of the church were then displayed before the people, and a full remission of sin was granted to all who visited the church and made confession. Accordingly on this day the people in great numbers flocked to Wittenberg.

95 thesisOn the 31st of October, the day preceding the festival, a monk went boldly to the church, to which a crowd of worshipers was already repairing, and affixed to the door ninety-five propositions against the doctrine of indulgences. That monk was Martin Luther. He went alone; not one of his most intimate friends knew of his design. As he fastened his theses upon the door of the church, he proclaimed himself ready to defend them the next day at the university itself against all opposers.

These propositions attracted universal attention. They were read and re-read and repeated in every direction. Great excitement was created in the university and in the whole city.

By these theses the doctrine of indulgences was fearlessly opposed. It was shown that the power to grant the pardon of sin, and to remit its penalty, had never been committed to the pope, or to any other man. The whole scheme was a farce, an artifice to extort money by playing upon the superstitions of the people, a device of Satan to destroy the souls of all who should trust to its lying pretensions. It was also clearly shown that the gospel of Christ was the most valuable treasure of the church, and that the grace of God, therein revealed, was freely bestowed upon all who should seek it by repentance and faith.

God was directing the labors of this fearless builder, and the work he wrought was firm and sure. He had faithfully presented the doctrine of grace, which would destroy the assumptions of the pope as a mediator, and lead the people to Christ alone as the sinner’s sacrifice and intercessor. Thus was the elector’s dream already beginning to be fulfilled. The pen which wrote upon the church door extended to Rome, disturbing the lion in his lair, and jostling the pope’s diadem.

The sin-loving and superstitious multitudes were terrified as the sophistries that had soothed their fears were rudely swept away. Crafty ecclesiastics, interrupted in their hellish work of sanctioning crime, and seeing their gains endangered, were enraged, and rallied to uphold the pope.

Luther’s theses challenged discussion; but not one dared to accept the challenge. By the grace of God, the blow struck by the monk of Wittenberg shook the very foundation of the papacy, stunned and terrified its supporters, and awakened thousands from the slumber of error and superstition. The questions which he proposed in his theses had in a few days spread throughout Germany, and in a few weeks they had sounded throughout Christendom. Many devoted Romanists, who had seen and lamented the terrible iniquity prevailing in the church, but had not known how to arrest its progress, read the propositions with great joy, recognizing in them the voice of God. They felt that the Lord had graciously set his hand to arrest the rapidly swelling tide of corruption that was issuing from the see of Rome. Princes and magistrates secretly rejoiced that a check was to be put upon the arrogant power from which there was no appeal.

Yet there were some who doubted and feared. The prior of Luther’s order, frightened by Tetzel, came to the Reformer in great alarm, saying, “Pray do not bring disgrace upon your order.” Luther had great respect for this man, and was deeply affected by his words, but rallying he replied, “Dear father, if the thing is not of God, it will come to naught. If it is, let it go forward.”

But the Reformer had more bitter accusers to meet. Some charged him with acting hastily and from impulse. Others accused him of presumption, declaring that he was not directed of God, but was acting from pride and forwardness. “Who does not know,” he responds, “that we can seldom advance a new idea without an appearance of pride, and without being accused of seeking quarrels? Why were Christ and all the martyrs put to death? Because they appeared proud despisers of the wisdom of the times in which they lived, and because they brought forward new truths without having first consulted the oracles of the old opinions.”

Again he declares: “What I am doing will not be effected by the prudence of man, but by the counsel of God. If the work is of God, who shall stop it? If it is not, who can forward it? Not my will, not theirs, not ours; but thy will, thine, holy Father who art in Heaven.”

Luther had been urged on by the Spirit of God to begin his work; but he was not to carry it forward without severe conflicts. The reproaches of his enemies, their misrepresentation of his purposes, and their unjust and malicious reflections upon his character and motives, came in upon him like an overwhelming flood; and they were not without effect. He had felt confident that the leaders in the church, and the philosophers of the nation, would gladly unite with him in efforts for reform. Words of encouragement from those in high position had inspired him with joy and hope. Already in anticipation he saw a brighter day dawning for the church. But encouragement had turned to reproach and condemnation. Many of the dignitaries both of the church and of the State were convicted of the truthfulness of Luther’s theses; but they soon saw that the acceptance of these truths would involve great changes. To enlighten and reform the people would be virtually to undermine the papal authority, to stop millions of streams now flowing into her treasury, and thus greatly curtail the extravagance and luxury of the Romish leaders. Furthermore, to teach the people to think and act as responsible beings, looking to Christ alone for salvation, would overthrow the pontiff’s throne, and eventually destroy their own authority. For this reason they refused the knowledge tendered them of God, and arrayed themselves against Christ and the truth by their opposition to the man whom he had sent to enlighten them.

{ Signs of the Times, June 14, 1883 par. 11-ST, June 14, 1883 par. 21}

Martin Luther went on to be a champion of the doctrine of righteousness by faith, and not by works, and salvation through Christ alone, and not through works. Let’s not forget our protestant heritage, a heritage based in the truth. The truth is worth celebrating. And what is the truth? The Word of God!

And let’s not forget that October 31st this year is Sabbath. Let’s spend this Sabbath in sweet fellowship with other believers, in thanksgiving to God for His goodness, and in worship of our Creator. Let’s study righteousness by faith and the gift of Christ and salvation and righteousness through Christ. Let’s study the truth about the state of the dead, and let’s study the history of the protestant reformation and remember our roots in Scripture, persecution, and martyrdom. Some are trying to end the reformation, but this reformation day let’s reflect on the truth, and whether we will fight (and die, if necessary) for it as the reformers did in the past (and I am not only calling on protestants to study the truth, but all, including Catholics, athiests, Muslims, Jews, everybody, to study the truth).

“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also: and from henceforth you know him, and have seen him.” (John 14: 16 & 7)

“O give thanks unto the LORD, for he is good: for his mercy endures forever.” (Psalms 107: 1)

Other Sources:

https://www.circlesanctuary.org/index.php/celebrating-the-seasons/celebrating-samhain
https://wicca.com/celtic/akasha/samhainlore.htm
http://www.catholic.org/saints/allsaints/
http://www.history.com/topics/halloween/history-of-
http://www.christianity.com/christian-life/art-and-culture/the-connection-between-halloween-reformation-day.html
http://www.missionstclare.com/english/people/oct31.html
http://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2014/10/reformation-day
http://www.gotquestions.org/Reformation-Day.html
http://www.timeanddate.com/holidays/germany/reformation-daytimeanddate.com
http://www.ligonier.org/blog/what-reformation-day-all-about/Ligonier Ministries: The teaching fellowship of R.C. Sproul
http://www.the-athenaeum.org/art/detail.php?ID=132221

I think that not all were used, at least not the whole. Here are more for your own studies:

Martin Luther on Wikipedia

Martin Luther in Fox’s Book of Martyrs

History of the Jack-o-Lantern

The Witch of Endor

The Rich Man and Lazarus

The Rich Man and Lazarus (Video)

Rich Man and Lazarus and Hellfire (Video)

How Samuel’s Spirit Appeared to Saul (Video)

For additional information:

Google search & Wikipedia

Note: Dialogue is not exact, but based on what I remember or think I remember. It was many many years ago. Bible text is from the King James Version. The story of Martin Luther is not in my words, but you can see the source below the story to find out where it is from. Featured photo is from here. Anime/manga-style pictures are original characters assembled on Rinmaru’s mega anime-avatar creator. I do not own any of the pictures featured here, and they are from different sources. Click on the picture to go to the source where I obtained the picture. Aside from the ones from Rinmaru, they are all (to my knowledge) either in the public domain or creative commons (on an individual picture basis).. Please contact me if this is so, and if any copyright information, source, or any other information is incorrect with the correct information and source, and I will try to make the necessary changes. Thank you! (Copyright holders of the art and photos featured and the rinmaru game are not affiliated with and do not to my knowledge endorse this site or any of the views held). 

 

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