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7 Great Reasons Christians Can and Should Celebrate Hallowe’en

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We are getting to that stage of year where Christians suddenly turn into pagans.  Not because they are dressing up, getting some free sweets, and enjoying Hallowe’en – that’s not pagan.  But because some Christians actually believe that demons get more powerful based on a day of the year!  That’s paganism, not Christianity.  Being scared of demons is utterly incompatible with being a child of the living God.

So, in honour of the season, here are 7 great reasons Christians should celebration Hallowe’en:

1.  Hallowe’en has never been about evil.  In Victorian times, children dressed up as tramps, as burglars, as pirates.  It was creativity, it was escapism, it was using our imagination.  So much of success in life depends on our imagination, and our ability to conceive a future above and beyond what we are doing right now, realizing we have a God who is above and beyond anything we have right now and can conceive naturally.  Let your children practice and rehearse using theirs!  If you are uncomfortable with them going door to door alone that is nothing to do with Hallowe’en, that’s just good parenting.  Take your children out – spend some time with them!  Enjoy “guising” with them.  Or take them to a party.  Let this day be a day you invest in your children!

2.  Don’t let the pagan past of the day bother you.  Colossians 2.16 says not to let anyone judge you on the day you keep – we are free to observe or not observe days.  Both the dates of Easter and Christmas in this country are pagan in history – so are the days of the week: Thursday is Thor’s Day, Friday is Frei Day.  They are the names of pagan gods.  January is named after a two-faced god called Janus.  So – if you feel bad about celebrating Hallowe’en because it is “pagan” then don’t give anyone a Christmas card, don’t celebrate your pagan birthday in pagan January, and certainly don’t go to church on the day named by people who worship the Sun!

3.  Get a grip on rumours and conjecture.  Here is the truth: no one actually knows what Wiccans and pagans did during the ancient festival of Samhain.  What we do know is the Pope moved All Saint’s Day to November 1st so that people had something to celebrate at this time of year.  If that sounds familiar it should – that’s how we have the current dates for Christmas. 

4.  Realize that satan has been utterly and completely and totally and irreversibly defeated.  I mean seriously – if I dress up as a dog I am eating at the table of the devil, falling into the devil’s pit and walking into the devil’s trap?  Did you forget about Calvary?  Did you forget that the devil has a squished head.  Did you forget that Jesus beat him once and for all for all eternity?  If you think the devil is so powerful that he can demonize someone for dressing up or eating candy, or bob for apples, or carving a face into a pumpkin, then you don’t have a Biblical paradigm, you have a pagan one.

5. This wonderful quote from Martin Luther: The best way to drive out the devil, if he will not yield to texts of Scripture, is to jeer and flout him, for he cannot bear scorn.  Have a good laugh at the devil.  Here is this day that some Christians are scared of, some Christians will hate you for embracing, some Christians will not sleep at night because of the imaginary extra demon activity – you may even hear stories of witches praying and fasting – here is this scary, scary day and you are getting time with your children, you are getting free sweets, you are oblivious to him and his ridiculous fear-tactics.  Have a good laugh about now, because that’s awesome.   Don’t spend the night concerned and worried – that’s not the fruit of redemption.  Have some fun and have a laugh at the no-powered, flat-headed, wannabe that tried so hard to give you the heebie jeebies.

6. All Saint’s Day (November 1st) is a really important thing.  I know some people think that you have to be really really special to be a saint.  Nah!  Every single born again Christian is a saint – is a holy one.  You were made holy by Jesus the moment you accepted his life into yourself.  Your spirit was transformed into righteousness and your life changed so significantly Jesus called it being born again.  It’s great to take some time to remember all the saints who have influenced you, helped you, mentored you, inspired you with their books and biographies.  It’s important to remember that generation after generation the church has grown, survived and helped people and that you are currently where you are only because you are standing on the shoulders of giants.  Hallowe’en is from “Hallow’s eve” which is the night before All Hallow’s or All Saint’s day – the day of remembering the saints.

7.  Hallowe’en is a great day to smash a stereotype.  Some people think Christians are a bunch of frail-minded, superstitious fools who see a devil in every corner.  They think you are sitting under your covers rebuking the devil, warding them off with your HOLY Bible and separating yourself from people.  Get out there, smile at the neighbours as they go round the streets.  Get boxes full of sweets and hand them out.  Be the most generous giver of sweets on your street.  I would say don’t dare stick a tract in the bag unless you know that bag has the most sweets in it of anyone in your street.  Get yourself talked about – get the whole street talking about your generosity, which is spelled L O V E.   Then when someone asks why give an answer about the love and life of God inside you.

Romans 1.11

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For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established;

Here is a question for you: do you long to see the church? I mean do you long to be with the crowd of Christians, worshipping Jesus, living with the church, helping them in their problems, putting up with their carnality, helping them to grow up, laying down your life for them.

Listen the body of Christ is the church. If you don’t long to see the church, you don’t really love Jesus. You might have emotional feelings about Him, but love is expressing in how you treat someone.

Paul longed to see the Romans. In the midst of 2 Corinthians 11 when Paul is talking about some of the situations he went through in his life, he puts the burden of his love for the churches as being more difficult than being beaten with sticks or lashed with a whip!

How much do you long to be with the church?

And what was Paul’s motivation for being with other Christians? It was not to get.

I will say this, most Christians go to church to get. That is true. It is an absolute indictment on the church, its structure, its understanding of love, its understanding of the kingdom of God.

Most Christians leave church and they rate the service. They comment on what the worship was like (I won’t spend the time necessary to explain how you cannot rate worship!), they make their judgment on how anointed the preacher was, and they assess how good the offering was. They never came to give, they never came to offer.

Well, they came to offer some cash, to tip good and pay their protection money, and to sit on the seat. But that is not the offerings that God is looking for.

Paul longed to be with the church to offer (impart = Gk. metadidomi – to offer, cf. Luke 3.11) a spiritual gift to the church. Paul wanted to go to church to offer spiritual life to the church – to impart faith, to teach the Word, to inspire with His testimony, to give a message in tongues, to prophesy over people, to have a word of wisdom for someone, to help a sheep find their way.

Why do you go to church?

Are you imitating Paul the way he copied Jesus? (1 Cor. 11.1).

Are you longing to go to church to offer something?

Not for your glory, not so people write about you or praise you or thank you, not to establish your ministry – but to establish (Gk. sterizo – to make constant, to make strong or to make stable) the church.

Is your joy found in going to church?

Is your goal in going to church to strengthen the church and offer something?

Is your motive in giving and imparting spiritual wisdom and revelation and gifting, selfless and to make strong the church?

If so, you can say that you are copying Paul like he is copying Christ.

If not, you have some adjusting to do in the way you think about the church and about Christians!

Glory and freedom,
Benjamin

Three Waves – The Second Wave, a Wave of Financial Integrity

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As the people cast out demons, healed the sick and had the most phenomenally accurate words of knowledge and words of wisdom, two things happened

Firstly, there was a backlash of persecution from cessationist Christians.  Not from the world, not really – much more from Christians who denied the Scriptures and the power of God.  This persecution took the form of exclusion from meetings, people were forced to stand down from leadership positions.  Some pastors were removed from their churches, other pastors virtually expelled their entire churches for speaking in tongues and laying hands on the sick and seeing them healed.  This caused a few people to back off and stop their new life of faith and miracles and joy.  However, far more people were galvanised by this and it caused them to dig into the Word to understand the Biblical basis for seeing miracles and the gifts of the Holy Spirit.  It caused them to spend much more time with the Holy Spirit as their comforter and friend, and the wave of miracles grew more intense.
In the places where the persecution was strongest, often involving creative miracles of limbs re-growing and organs being restored.

The second thing that happened is that some people who had been involved in the most religious, non-charismatic churches realized that the grace and power of the Holy Spirit was free and completely by the grace of the Lord Jesus.  At the same time, many of the people moving in the gifts were very young Christians, some only being Christians for a few weeks or even days.

Some of these people started – or continued – in some of the vilest sins.  Some of these started to be exposed and revealed.  It threatened to derail the revival spreading through London and at this stage had started to affect churches in the home counties and in some areas in north England, Wales, France and eastern Europe.

Just at this time, several Christian ministers started to preach on purity and integrity in a powerful way.  Thousands flocked to hear sermons on holiness and purity throughout London.  People started to learn how to think on what is right, how to form pure and wise relationships and how to be honest in all their dealings.  It was a beautiful move and it dovetailed into the healing wave that had just past.  People started to learn how to live their life on the Word, not just on their gifting or anointing.  A small group went into an excess and said they could live how they like and started swapping partners, but this group stopped almost as soon as it started.

I have referred to this wave as a wave of financial integrity because that is how I saw it.  All the things I described above happened in my vision, but the crest of the wave was this: churches started to deal with money in an open and honest way.  I saw Christian leaders weeping before their churches because they had operated the church finances as an extension of their own bank accounts.  I saw elders apologize for manipulating people into giving to their causes.  Some people were repenting of making up causes to raise offerings and this was revealed.

Now, I know for a fact that there is excesses like this inside the charismatic church, but what surprised me when I saw this happen was that it was as much the traditional churches that had leaders repenting and making restitution as the charismatic churches.  Several pastors had raised money for an orphanage that did not even exist, and they were getting right with God and returning double the money to everyone who had given.

It was wonderful to watch.  And as it happened, as people – especially leaders – were honest, were owning up – there was a new level of trust across the body of Christ.  A Pentecostal minister would admit his folly, and instead of shooting him down, the local Anglican church would love him and reach out to him and restore him.  The Baptists were praying for the Assemblies of God, and the URC were praying for the Elim, and this opened up a number of joint meetings which led to many people being saved, healed and delivered.

The irony was that when this was dealt with, people actually became more generous with their money.  People who had never given more than a token amount to the church were giving 30-40% of their income into offerings for their churches.  Money was being distributed to the poor in London like never before.  A number of churches were getting together in different localities and buying buildings to use as shelters for the homeless and as soup kitchens, and places where people could be cared for and supported.  In many areas, one church was organising the whole project but would be amazed when other churches in the area would just send huge offerings with no strings attached.

As this wave started to subside – and I don’t mean that the integrity had ended, any more than the healings and miracles had ceased at this stage, but rather that this as a focus was ending – there were so many Christians who were fellowshipping with people they never thought they would fellowship with.
This is when the third wave I saw hit.

Three Waves – The First Wave, a Wave of the Gifts and Power of the Holy Spirit

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Two weeks ago, while I was praying for the future of Tree of Life Church, I saw three waves of the glory of the Lord flow across London.  It was not an open vision but it was as clear as any vision I have ever seen from the Lord.  This vision was not exclusively for Tree of Life Church at all, but for all Christians across London.

The first wave was a wave of the gifts and power ministries of the Holy Spirit.  I saw churches that were Pentecostal in theology but not in practise suddenly explode in their services with messages in tongues, interpretations, words of knowledge for healing, words of wisdom that lead to marriages being restored and people being released into prosperity and abundance.

I saw churches that have had great sermons, great truths suddenly have great manifestations that caught everyone by joyous surprise.

I saw Christians who had been opposed to the gifts of the Holy Spirit standing in the streets of London sharing prophetic words with complete strangers.  People were weeping and repenting and coming to faith in the street – the power of the Holy Spirit was leading people to be witnesses, as taught in Acts.  I saw backsliders suddenly get excited about their faith again.  I saw healing crusades with thousands in attendance, people being healed of cancer, people getting out of wheelchairs, I saw deaf ears open and blind eyes open.

I saw healing being like a dinner bell calling people from all walks of life in London to the Lord Jesus Christ.  Jesus said himself that Him healing the sick shows that He has the power to forgive sin.  And I see Him healing people and people realizing that He is the Lord over sin and sickness.

I see Muslims, Hindus, atheists, people from every creed and belief system becoming Christians as they see the healing power of the Lord.  I saw children being healed, I saw the Lord healing people.

What was most beautiful about this all is that this move of the Spirit was not focused around one pastor or one evangelist.  Every Christian, including day-old Christians, were laying hands on the sick and seeing them healed.  Every Christian was speaking words of faith and seeing those words materialize in the physical realm.  Every Christian was excited about the gifts and power of the Holy Spirit.  Five fold ministers were doing their real calling: the works of the believer and equipping the saints.

I know not every Christian will flow with the Holy Spirit, but when I saw this vision it was as if every Christian was.  Christians that no-one would have expected to step out in faith were jumping out of the boats of religion and walking out on the waters of the Spirit-led life.

Some churches were struggling to adapt to the power of the Lord and some Christians would step out in faith and then fall back to safe and routine as they started to grow in maturity.

As people started to realize the gifts were no substitute for maturity, and started to ask the Lord for an increase in wisdom and revelation, the second wave hit.

I will outline that in the second post, but I will end this post with this: there is coming to the church of the Lord Jesus Christ in London, England a move of the gifts and power of the Holy Spirit.  The Word of God says desire spiritual gifts – and I encourage everyone reading this to ask the Lord right now for the gifts of the Holy Spirit to operate fully in their life and in the life of every Christian in London and across the world.

This is such an exciting time to be a Christian, such a wonderful time to be alive.  Praise His name for ever!

Blears wants Christians to serve but not speak

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Blears wants Christians
to serve but not speak

Christian groups should only be able to access funding for social work if they promise not to evangelise, says communities secretary Hazel

Blears.

Speaking at an Evangelical Alliance (EA) conference on Christian debt-counselling services Mrs Blears spoke of a new charter for faith groups involved in social work.

Under the charter, developed with the help of the Faithworks group, religious organisations will be offered public funding for projects serving the community.

But this money will, Mrs Blears said, only be available to groups “promising not to use public money to proselytise”.

During a Commons debate on the charter last year Mrs Blears said “many people are motivated by faith of all kinds to do great acts of social good”.

“However,” she continued, “I am concerned to ensure that if faith groups become involved, they do so on a proper footing – not by evangelising or proselytising, but by providing services in a non-discriminatory way to the whole community”.

Her speech to the EA has been compared to a church sermon in some press reports, as Mrs Blears ‘preached’ to church leaders about how Jesus would have understood the pressures of the economic crisis.

She spoke of the “hope” which characterises the Christian life, adding that such hope could help society get through the “difficult path ahead”.

But Christian groups are concerned that the Government wants to use the services provided by Christian groups while preventing them from articulating their faith.

The speech comes in the wake of a spate of stories where Christians – often in caring professions – are facing opposition from local authorities over their beliefs.

These include a Christian nurse who was suspended for offering to pray for a patient, a Christian carer struck off after a Muslim girl in her care became a Christian, and a Christian care home which lost council funding over its beliefs about homosexuality.

A spokesman for the Evangelical Alliance, Dr R David Muir, said: “The Government wants the social action and welfare that faith groups provide, but there is a danger that they also want faith groups to leave their beliefs at the door.”

Mrs Blears said: “It’s not about trying to stop the people manning the soup kitchens, or making home visits, talking about their faith if people ask, or being open about what motivates them.”

She told the conference: “I don’t want to get to the place where the very thing that motivates you is stripped away. That’s self defeating.”

But Dr Muir said: “Our faith is what equips us as Christians to provide support and compassion to those who are spiritually and emotionally damaged by debt.”

The Bishop of Rochester recently wrote of the way the Christian foundations of much social care are being forgotten as Christianity is sidelined in many public services.

This is done under cover of concerns about offending people, he said, but was really driven by “secularist agendas which marginalise all faith but seem especially hostile to Christianity”.

Secularists have welcomed Mrs Blears’ plan to stop religious groups from evangelising if they are commissioned to carry out social work for the Government.

The National Secular Society commented that “hidden beneath the flattering and emolient words was a clear message: we need your help to run welfare services on the cheap.

“This message was also tempered by the announcement that public money would come with firm conditions attached”.

The Faithworks charter, which has influenced the Government’s plans, requires Christian groups who sign up to it to provide services to the community without “imposing our Christian faith or belief on others”.

(http://www.christian.org.uk/news/20090210/blears-wants-christians-to-serve-but-not-speak/)

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