Monday, February 9, 2015

Valentine's Day - How does God view it?

A very sweet Christian mom said to me recently:  "We're celebrating Valentine's Day to the glory of God!"

That made me think..... Is it acceptable for a Christian to take aspects of a pagan practices, convert it to Christianity and use it to glorify God?

How does God view it?  

I have to admit that I used to have the same thought-process as this sweet lady.  As long as I'm doing it for God, it is acceptable. 

But then I started to get to know the Creator of the Universe better.  My relationship deepened and I developed a deeper desire to please Him - not out of fear of being lost, because my salvation is secure, based on Jesus Christ, and not of my own works.   No, my desire to please Him is rooted in the love I began to experience coming from Him.  It is rooted in the fact that He has called all believers to live holy lives, and I don't want to do anything that might grieve Him.  Most of all, it is rooted in the Holy Spirit's guidance on my life.  

God showed me Deuteronomy 12:1-4 where He expressly commands the Israelites to "utterly destroy" all the pagan altars and paraphenalia.  He further goes on to say in verse 4:  

"You shall not worship the Lord your God with such things"

I was stunned when I read that.  Is God saying that we shall not take images, items or any practice from a pagan practice (no matter how cute and innocent it may look to us) and glorify HIM with it?

I challenge you to prayerfully search the Scriptures and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal God's will to you.

Ask yourself:   Has God changed?  Is He less offended by His people embracing and "Christianizing" paganistic rituals today, as He was in Biblical times?  

We live in a culture that is immersed in festivals with pagan roots.  Unfortunately many Christians have become so entrenched in these festivals, that it is difficult for them to discern between godly and ungodly. 

It's a historical fact (just Google it if you're not sure) that cupids, hearts, exchanging of cards, and many other "traditions" surrounding Valentine's Day have their roots in pagan practices.   Is it OK to take these things, put a Jesus sticker on it and say: "I'm glorifying God with these things?"

Here's another rationalization that Christians use:  "Valentine's Day is an opportunity for us to share the Gospel and God's love!"

My question is this:  Hasn't God given us many other avenues of sharing the Gospel with the lost?  What fellowship does our light have with darkness?  (2 Corinthians 6:14) 

The problem is that when we start to compromise our faith by sugar-coating activities with ungodly roots, we begin the process of eroding our faith and character as Christians in such a way that others will no longer be able to distinguish us from the world, not to mention the damage that this compromise does to our spiritual strength and our relationship with the One True God. 

Every believer must decide for him-/herself whether they wish to participate in any pagan feast.  The challenge is to remove our own opinion and rationalizations, and ask ourselves:  "What does God say?  How does He view it?"   

2 Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them. 3 For the customs of the people are vain... (Jeremiah 10:2-3, KJV). 

We are called to be in the world, but not of it - not to be conformed to this world. (Romans 12:2)  We are instructed to NOT love the world or the things in the world (1 John 2:15).  We are admonished that friendship with this world is enmity with God. (James 4:4).

Is it possible to sugar-coat a paganistic event such as Valentine's day, by making it more socially acceptable, and think you can still remain faithful to God?  

Are you deluding yourself by thinking you can participate in a celebration by "cleaning it up" and by saying you are sharing "the love of Jesus"?

Is the so-called 'Christianization' of non-biblical, pagan celebrations an affront to God? 

Do these events cause His name to be blasphemed among the Gentiles? 
If you put a load of icing on a rotten potato, does it take away the rot?

With Valentine's Day quickly approaching, I urge all sincere believers in Christ who seek a spirit of discernment and intimate walk with the Lord, to investigate for themselves the horrific historic roots of Valentine's Day.  Look into the Roman festival of Lupercalia and how the Roman Catholic church attempted to replace this very popular pagan festival.  Today, even the Catholic Church recognizes the Roman and Catholic roots of Valentine's Day and has removed it from their official calendar. 

Consider, instead, to participate in a celebration that was instituted in Scripture, and is celebrated around the same time  -  Purim.

What do you think will please God more?   A celebration commemorating His Goodness in delivering His people and to honor His faithfulness throughout history and in the future?   Or..  a fun party that commemorates ritualistic animal sacrifices to a pagan god followed by a sexual lottery and debauchery?

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Scripture Memorization - James Chapter 1

I've been enthusiastic about Scripture memorization since my early teens, but lately I've become increasingly aware or the importance of being armed with the Sword of the Spirit - the Word of God - in my daily battle "against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places" (Ephesians 6:12).

I often get so caught up in the struggles and responsibilities of the day, that I forget that God has admonished us not to walk in the flesh, but in the spirit.  Although we walk in the flesh and in a material world, we are at war against a very evil spiritual world, and it is up to us to take authority over the situation and pick up our spiritual weapons of warfare, for they are "mighty in God" (2 Corinthians 10:3-6).

I've come to the realization that I'm not a very effective wielder of my spiritual Sword (the Word of God) if I don't KNOW it.  Hence, my endeavors in memorizing Scriptures.   Over the years, I've memorized quite a large selection of verses for various occasions and circumstances.   However, now I'm embarking on an even more challenging journey - that of memorizing an entire Book.   I've selected the Book of James, since the message contained therein has always been particularly inspiring to me.

I'm a very visual person and find it easier to memorize things if I can visualize it - with lots of color and pictures to help out.   So, my first step in tackling the first chapter of James, was to create a colorful Scripture Map of the entire chapter.    I printed it, placed the 2 pages in sheet protectors, and taped them to the cabinet doors in my kitchen.   

I invite you to download and print these pages here and join me in the challenging journey of Scripture memorization.   Let me know how you're doing, and feel free to share some tips and ideas to help anyone to memorize the wonderful Word of God!