Sunday, October 15, 2017

Should a Christian celebrate Halloween? What about Christmas? And if you do, does that make you less of a Christian?

So recently I became involved in a discussion on whether Christians should celebrate Halloween or not.

Without the usual mud-slinging you find on these types of social media discussions (thank you!!) it’s been rather enlightening to find out what other Christians believe on this subject. So much so, that I did something I normally do not do, I joined in the conversation!

My response was short, and simply mentioned that we don’t celebrate Halloween because it doesn’t glorify God. What we do instead is put up our Christmas decorations on October 1st, and celebrate Christmas for 3 months. That’s right, even now, as I write, my lights are twinkling on my Christmas tree in the living room…and it’s only October 15th!

When I logged back in the response I got to my comment suggested that I look up the history and origins of Christmas. On the surface the comment was benign and even helpful, but if you dig a little deeper the meaning was clear. How can I NOT celebrate Halloween and YET celebrate Christmas, knowing that they BOTH started from pagan holidays?

This, of course, is always the traditional response to someone declaring their intent to not celebrate one holiday for religious/spiritual reasons. Let’s face it, almost ALL holidays evolved from pagan festivals and celebrations, so what’s a Christian to do? Stick their head in the sand and refuse to do anything lest they face censure from other Christians? Or do we do the opposite, throw all caution to the wind and get our party hats on?

Well, here is my response…

The simple fact is that while Christmas has some associations with a secular holiday, I choose to celebrate it to remember the birth of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

To be honest, while most holidays do have their root in ancient pagan festivals, such as Easter and Christmas, these two no longer are associated with those pagan practices. The Roman church, in the 4th century, absorbed these practices and remade them to celebrate Christ. It was their answer to the dilemma of getting new believers to focus on Christ, not the pagan beliefs that were deeply entrenched in the traditions of their families and culture.

And for the most part, it worked. Oh sure, we still have to deal with Santa, but truthfully he does not have to be involved in Christmas if you don’t want him to. We raised our son without the ‘jolly old elf’ and he grew up just fine. Instead, we focused on baby Jesus. And who doesn’t love to walk into a secular store and hear music that glorifies and worships our Lord and Savior??

Halloween, however, has NOT undergone any such change. Instead, this holiday has encouraged and exploited the celebration of death, chaos, and satanic activity for centuries, simply sugarcoating it for easier consumption. But in essence, Halloween is, and has always been, and always will be, a demonically inspired pagan festival. There simply is NO redeeming quality in this holiday.

I can’t help but think of 1 Corinthians 10:31…“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” 

I can find the glory of God in Christmas, but NOT in Halloween.

Of course, this is my opinion, and people are free to agree or disagree. I am at peace with celebrating Jesus’ birth through the Christmas holiday. I am also at peace with not celebrating Halloween. And here’s the best part, if you don’t agree with me, I’m at peace with that too!

I’m not the boss of you. And you’re not the boss of me. Every one of us has our own set of convictions, shaped and molded by God, our circumstances, and the interactions we daily come in contact with. As long as we agree on the basic tenets of Christianity, everything else is just fluff.

Whether you celebrate Halloween or not…whether you celebrate Christmas or not…that’s not my business, it’s a choice between you and God alone. It doesn’t make you less of a Christian, it just makes you accountable for your own decisions and choices.  

We are all members of the body of Christ. Each one of us has our own function and job to do, and yet, we all need each other to keep the body healthy. Our subtle differences and unique perspectives should strengthen the body of Christ, not tear it apart. Instead of attacking our differences, we should be embracing them, encouraging each other in our Faith walk.

God is okay with our differences, and to be honest, so should we.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Day Trippin with the Werebs...Kartchner Caverns, Bisbee and Tombstone.

Once in a while my Hubby gets the traveling bug, and it usually takes me a bit longer to catch it, but when he came to me on August 2 and said, "Let's take a road trip!" I actually did something surprising...I said YES! want Big-Mac.
So we packed up our little car and headed south.

I want to say that our first stop was Kartchner Caverns, but to be honest, after driving for a few hours we did have to make a pit stop.

So we stopped at the McDonald's on Highway 90, just as you turn towards the Caverns. Apparently we aren't the only ones who enjoy a bite of burgers while travelling because this guy was hanging around outside.

After a brief rest we were back on the road again, and headed to our first ever cave tour!

I've got to say, Kartchner Caverns was amazing! We bought our tickets, and waited with a group of people for the short tram ride up to the cave.

Just a few things you need to be aware of if you decide to visit the cave yourself...

Purses, backpacks, cameras, phones, candy, gum, water bottles, sunglasses and anything else that might fall out of your pocket, or your mouth, or off your head are not allowed inside. You are allowed to wear eyeglasses, but you must be careful not to let them fall. Either leave your stuff in the trunk of your car or rent the little storage locker they provide, it's just 4 quarters.

Be prepared to come out with frizzy hair. I'm not kidding, it's HUMID in the cave! Pretty much, consider your hairstyle a complete loss.

The last thing to remember, is DO NOT TOUCH anything in the cave. Nothing. Touching will leave oils, which will breed germs, and cause little moldy stuff to grow.

Since we couldn't take pictures in the cave, I don't have any to show you. However, do a random search for images of Kartchner Caverns and you will be delighted by what's inside, including CAVE BACON!!!  ha ha - We did take a few outside...

Bryan hard at work!

This was taken BEFORE the cave. Notice how smooth and beautiful my hair was! LOL

After-cave-hair.  Not a pretty sight!  ha ha This was part of the 'museum' located in the lobby.

The next set of pictures are from our drive to, and of, the town of Bisbee. I had heard that Bisbee was a really fun place to visit, but both my Hubby and I agreed it was a bit of a 'dud'. We probably, most definitely, came at the wrong time of the season, and most of the shops were closed, and very few people were around. But it certainly was lovely to look at.

Lots of clouds! It was rainy off and on all day.

My Hubby, bless him, didn't hesitate when I asked him to pull off to the side of the road and take pictures! Love him!

Just a clock tower. I thought it was pretty.

The Jailhouse, which was turned into a hotel!

Giant flies on buildings.
 I did a little google search on the Giant Flies of Bisbee. It seems that Bisbee suffered from frequent epidemics of typhoid and other diseases. Instead of cleaning up the sanitation and refuse from the mining town, which was the likely cause, in 1912 the town began a 'swat the most flies' campaign. One boy killed nearly 500,000 flies and won $10, but obviously the efforts of the children involved did not reduce the diseases plaguing the community. The next year the flies were back in double the amount, and the city finally forked out the money to fix their sanitation problems. As part of their history, someone decided to put these giant flies up on a lot of the buildings.

Hello. I am a giant fly.

A final view of Bisbee, Arizona.

After our sadly disappointing visit to Bisbee, we turned around and made our way back to Tombstone. We stayed at the Larian Motel. Not too bad, the staff was friendly, and we stayed in the Luke Short room, who was an Old-West gunslinger, gambler, U.S. scout, boxing promoter, saloon owner and dispatch rider.

Don't be fooled, the 'free wi-fi' was spotty. ;)

Again, we came at the wrong time, because apparently that's what we Wereb's do...LOL. The town was a ghost town, very few people there. And we we missed Val Kilmer, who showed up almost two weeks after we were there for their Doc Holidays.

And there was no internet. Zero. Zilch. Nada. I mean, literally, the entire town of Tombstone was wifi free. So don't get into an accident. or lost, or need any type of assistance that requires the internet because getting a signal is a no-can-do. Not even our hotel, which assured us that we had 'free wifi', had much of it. It was enough to check our email, but not much else.

But we loved it. It was fun to browse the shops and wander the town without a crowd of people bumping into us. We did one tour, The Birdcage Theatre, and the rest was just spending time together.

Which, of course, was the entire point of our spur-of-the-moment trip!

This was a couple shot, but we didn't have anyone to take our picture. So with a bit of editing, we are a couple!

Poor Hubby...Looks pretty good despite being 'killed' in 1881. ;)

A Tombstone Mini Golf course. Pretty cool.

Where the gunfights happen. We didn't opt to pay to watch one, but we loved the background!

This is the Bird Cage Theater. It's the only building that has survived, complete with furnishings, since it was built in 1881. It survived two fires, and when the mines flooded they boarded it up and it sat for 50 years untouched. We were surprised at just how small the building was. When you see 'houses of ill repute' or saloons, in Old-West movies, they always look so huge! But this was small.

This building was open 24 hours a day, every day of the year. It soon gained the reputation of the wickedest saloon in the west. They were a saloon, a poker room and a theater. Obviously, they did a lot of business. It was also home to an almost 9 year long poker game that cost $1,000 to buy in.

This bar was built in 1881, and it still houses several bullets from various fights.

The stairs that lead to the 'cat walk', where the soiled doves would lead their 'customers' to their rooms.

The painting above of "The Human Fly" depicts an actual performance at the theatre. A couple of women would don scanty clothes and 'walk' across the ceiling above the stage. When one of the clamps that secured their feet to the ceiling failed and a girl plummeted to her death, the act was abandoned.

The original Bird Cage Polyphone...basically, an old timey jukebox.

The reason the Bird Cage Theater got it's name. These rooms are suspended independently from the ceiling, like bird cages.
These are the rooms where the ladies plied their trade. The velvet drapes are original.

Behold...the Merman!!! This little guy was donated to the museum in 1934, after the building had been reopened.

Some old-timey stuff.

"The first organ used in the St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Tombstone. This was the first Protestant Episcopal Church in Arizona. The Church was built through the contributions from the respectable, and not so respectable citizens of Tombstone. Endicott Peabody was the Rector of the Church when it held its first service in June 1882."

"The original grand piano has sat on this spot since 1881. It furnished music for the shows and dances, it is built out of solid rose wood and is hand carved. This piano was the first to arrive in Tombstone. It was shipped around the Horn of South America to San Francisco by boat and brought from there to Tombstone by mule train. It was part of a five piece band that played the Bird Cage Theatre from 1881 through 1889."

The stage! Incredibly small, isn't it???
This theatre was originally intended to be used for respectable shows, however, the mining camp was rather rough, and it quickly turned into a house of prostitutes and drunken men. While it did attract a few 'respectable' shows, the large majority appealed to the baser nature of the miners.

The Black Moriah, the original horse-drawn hearse, and first vehicle with curved glass. 

We didn't opt for the Stagecoach Ride. But it sure was fun to see the horses.

And that's about it. After a few days we decided to head home, fully relaxed.

The best part is that all of these sites were less than 3 hours away from Phoenix, and not a whole lotta cash. The only thing we paid entrance for was the Caverns, and that was $48 ($24 each) well spent, and the Bird Cage Tour, $20 ($10 each). We spent more money on the food than anything else, and we happened to pick up an authentic Wagon Wheel and a Lasso for our front yard. (Will post pics when it's all set up).

We are already looking forward to our next trip! Thanks for joining us on this little mini-view of the vacation.

If you know of any other cool spots to visit, please post a comment. I'd love to find out what you do in Arizona.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Sometimes Seeing God in the Details of a Decision Can be Hard When a Blessing Stands in His Way

Something happened recently that renewed my faith in just how closely God is concerned with the little details of my life.

About a week and a half ago I received a rather unexpected job offer. I mean, it was totally off my radar. You see, months ago, I had given a friend of mine my resume. She is one of the higher ups in a brand new Memory Care Center being built, and while it wasn’t complete yet, she offered to pass along my resume for a receptionist position once they reached the hiring stage. Of course, as the months went by, I totally forgot about it.

Until an email popped up without warning and asked if I would be interested in a receptionist position.

It’s a good job. Full time, with benefits, including paid vacations, everything that I want in a job. I’d be a fool to pass it up, right? Let me just say, I was excited, I thought “How cool that God blessed me with this opportunity without me even trying!” So I went to the interview, met the people I’d be working with, was told that I would be an integral part of the team. It was great! Until they told me the hours I would be working…Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. until 7 p.m.

It’s those little details that trip us up, right?

I asked them if they would be flexible with the hours so that I could attend church. They said no, the hours are set. So Bryan and I discussed it, and we decided that I could use my lunch hour to attend church. Not the best compromise, but workable, after all I would only be missing the beginning and the end of service. No big deal, right? So I accepted the position and was scheduled to begin training this week, starting full time on the 18th.

Let’s get real for a moment. This decision was a difficult one for me. I’d have to say in the 30 years of my salvation I have never taken a job that so directly conflicted with church attendance. And while it may not seem like a big deal to a lot of people, to me, it is. Since I first received Jesus as my Savior church has always been a fixture in my life. I made a decision early on that I wanted to be faithful, and unless I was dying I was going to church, no matter what.

So I made this decision…but as the days passed I began to question it. But we had already rearranged our life, bought a second vehicle, just to accommodate it. I passed my qualms off as ‘new job jitters’ and resolved to push the worry from my mind.

We went to church Saturday night, and the sermon was all about making great decisions. God began to nudge me about the job. Something the pastor said stuck with me…he said that sometimes we make decisions without thinking about the long term effects, the consequences. Sometimes we decide to do something because it looks good, or is based on our feelings, or it looks harmless at first. Just because something looks good, doesn’t necessarily mean it is good in the long run.

I gotta be honest here. When I made the decision to accept the job I never once prayed over it, I never once thought about what this would mean for us, for me, a year from now. I assumed this opportunity was a blessing, but God used this sermon to show me that the little decision of ‘squeezing’ my church attendance into my lunch hour will have far-reaching consequences that I’d rather not think about.

I don’t want to lose that connection with God.

So on the way home Bryan asked me, “Is there something you want to tell me?”  I brushed him off and said no. How could I tell him that I didn’t want to take the job because I would be missing church, especially since we just spent part of our savings to buy a second vehicle???

But he persisted and asked again. I started to say no, but then it spilled out. And you know what he said?

He said that God had spoken to him clearly during service. God told him that I didn’t want to take the job because I’d be missing church and I was afraid to tell him. God told him to ask me that question.  He also told me not to worry, that the job doesn’t matter, that buying the second vehicle doesn’t matter, what matters is me being able to attend church.

My husband said he has never had God speak so clearly to him, and he felt compelled to ask me that question.  We are both in awe of God’s timing, and the fact that God is so intimately concerned with the decisions we make. God used a church service to speak into my life at a time when I needed clarity and direction.

Just think, if I had been working, I would’ve missed it.