Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Is Halloween Happy?

The Halloween Debate and where I stand as a pastor. 
(This post was written by my husband and appeared first on his facebook page. Copied here with permission.)

The following are my thoughts and not the ideas of my church, denomination or my leadership team.

Many people have asked me to tell them my thoughts on Halloween. At first I hesitate so that no one is offended but, for some reason, I decided to honestly write down my ideas and thoughts about Halloween.

"I do not actively take part in Halloween but I have never had an issue with dressing up and having fun." That may be a safe statement but it is truly how I feel.

When I was a child I did the whole trick or treat thing and really had a lot of fun. My costumes were homemade and I went out and begged for candy from our neighbors - with no reservation. I had no reason to think that Halloween was a holiday that should be avoided.

Fast-forward to my Bible School years and I was presented with some really interesting facts about Halloween. I discovered that this day has some roots that did not involve a dentist. It has a pagan history connected with the ancient Celtic holiday Samhain. You don't have to send me links to expound on the history because I have heard it all as I have done my homework. I know the roots and understand them fully. I also know that 700 years ago Christians tried to hijack this day and bring it back to Christ. This is a day, in my mind, that has a history. Good or evil, I am not scared of it nor am I an endorser of it. It is just another day.

As I ponder on this day, I can truly understand if you are against participating in anything associated with Halloween. I also fully understand if you want to have fun and send your kids out. It is really not that big of an issue for me.

Why is it not an issue? Because, "This is the day that the Lord made, let us rejoice and be glad in it." I choose to look at Halloween, not as a special day or a cursed day, but a day filled with opportunity. A day that Jesus can be lifted high, just like any other day.

I love that our Kids Club Leader and our Youth Pastor are planning a Harvest Carnival to give kids in our community the opportunity to have good, safe fun in an evil world. I love how families may choose to spend time together instead of embracing this holiday. I love how parents walk with their kids and spend time together - even as they are going door to door. What a great opportunity to speak into the lives of our families as questions are asked and answers are given. 

We live in a fallen world, not just on Halloween but every day of the year. My attitude will not change just because of a pumpkin. 

So I ask you this, what are you going to do on October 31, a day the Lord has given to you?

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Stay in the fight til the final round!

Mandisa sings it out with passion ... You're an Overcomer!

Have you ever felt like you were all alone while you stood staring down an overwhelming opponent?  Maybe your opponent is a co-worker, a spouse, a disease, an empty house, a wayward child, a floundering bank account???
I can't possibly know what you are facing but I have come to believe that you are facing something - just like I am.

Recently the DJ from our local Christian Radio Station introduced Mandisa's new song Overcomer, with this thought:
He said that in his many years as a radio DJ, he had never had ONE song requested as much as this one. Everybody is calling him asking for it.
That tells me, above all other things that we face as Christians, as parents, as lovers ... as created human beings the hardest to overcome is discouragement. We collectively feel like we might not get through this. We might not win this one.

I watched the music video from Mandisa's song and could barely see through my tears as it played. The stories are compelling and the people are real. They did it! They fought the fight and they won!

I can too.  (And YOU TOO!)

My Bible tells me "we are more than conquoerors..." (Romans 8:37)  We are going to get through our battles, climb our mountains and conquer our fears - if we just trust Him. He is holding us, leading us, protecting us, fighting alongside of us. And best of all HE IS ALREADY VICTORIOUS!

You Are An Overcomer.

Don't give up.

Hang on.

Don't quit. Don't give in. You're an overcomer. In Jesus' name.

Lyrics for Mandisa's New Hit song Overcomer.

Staring at a stop sign
Watching people drive by
T Mac on the radio
Got so much on your mind
Nothing's really going right
Looking for a ray of hope

Whatever it is you may be going through
I know He's not gonna let it get the best of you

You're an overcomer
Stay in the fight ‘til the final round
You're not going under
‘Cause God is holding you right now
You might be down for a moment
Feeling like it's hopeless
That's when He reminds You
That you're an overcomer
You're an overcomer

Everybody's been down
Hit the bottom, hit the ground
Oh, you're not alone
Just take a breath, don't forget
Hang on to His promises
He wants You to know

The same Man, the Great I am
The one who overcame death
Is living inside of You
So just hold tight, fix your eyes
On the one who holds your life
There's nothing He can't do
He's telling You

I am in the process of polishing up my latest manuscript. It is about a fighter - a man who fights in the ring but finds himself fighting for so much more. I wanted my character to feel discouraged and overwhelmed to the point of almost giving up. Then as he battled and struggled seemingly impossible odds, he would hit his knees and not give up the fight, but give into the fight. My character Daniel needed to go through the fight to see what was truly worth fighting for. Often it isn't what we picture or what we are hoping for. In the eyes of our loving Savior, the only thing worth fighting is who we are in Him. And how He will use our struggles, our mountains, our pain to make us more like HIM.

Please check out some scripture verses from Romans 8 in The Message. Let the words sink in and saturate your soul and all that it is longing for. Jesus loves you and you will overcome!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Book Review of Stranded by Dani Pettrey

Book 3 of the Alaskan Courage Series is a delightful read. Again Dani Pettrey creates a suspenseful story around strong and relevant characters. I enjoyed Gage and Darcy's story.

StrandedBook Blurb: When her friend vanishes from a cruise ship, reporter Darcy St. James isn’t satisfied with their explanation that she simply left her job of her own accord. Something isn’t lining up, and Darcy believes the only way to find the truth is to put herself in Abby’s position.
Within days, Darcy learns her friend wasn’t the only person to disappear mysteriously. Last summer, a woman vanished under almost identical circumstances.
Gage McKenna has taken a summer-long stint leading adventure excursions for the passengers of various cruise lines that dock for a few days of sightseeing. He’s surprised to find Darcy working aboard one of the ships, investigating a troubling report.
Something sinister is going on, and the deeper they dig, the more Gage fears they’ve only discovered the tip of the iceberg.

The character of Gage had interested me from the earlier stories. I thoroughly enjoyed him being flushed out even more in this exciting excursion through the Alaskan waters. If you aren't familiar with the first two books in this set then check them out on Dani Pettrey's website or find my reviews of Submerged and Shattered on my blog.

For those readers familiar with the previous books and with Dani's wonderfully simple and beautifully executed writing will be happy to know that the McKenna clan make an appearance through this story. The plot picks up about five months after the end of Shattered. Darcy and Gage haven't spoken since she left Alaska. But neither have missed counting a day since. And that's a great place for a romance to start.

If readers are looking for excitement and adventure, both within the story and the setting, they will love this new addition.  

As well, Dani invites us into the nagging secrets that surround secondary character Jake. It is a wonderfully intricate back story that brings so much to light about the quiet character. I really loved this part of the story. It added a whole thread that I wasn't expecting. And who knows ... maybe a fourth book about Kayden and Jake?

Visit Dani's website for more exciting news of upcoming things for the talented author. She even has a soundtrack, Pinterest boards and videos to augment the stories of the Alaskan Courage Series on her Reader Fun Page. Also, if you were following the Alaskan Adventure Sweepstakes, the winners are announced on her site.

Be sure to check Dani Pettrey out. And also go to your local store and buy her latest book.

Thanks to Baker Publishing and Dani Pettrey for the free review copy of this book. I was not required to give a positive review. This is my honest opinion.