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Archive for October, 2009

wolf and bat

By: Shannon Hanson

As a Christian, I have always debated over whether or not it is okay, or even right, to celebrate Halloween.  My parents raised me to believe that it was okay to participate in the holiday as long as I didn’t dress up as anything evil or scary, or support the dark side of the holiday in any way.  Many Christians go much farther, claiming that any participation in the holiday what so ever endorses satanic worship and invites demons into your life.

With Halloween candy by our door and jack-o-lanterns on our porch, I was a little troubled to log onto my computer this morning and see an article stating why Christians shouldn’t celebrate Halloween.  I decided to Google the topic, and I found hundreds of thousands of articles supporting this statement.  Most stated that traditions such as carving pumpkins stem from pagan worship.  However, there seemed to be little consistency concerning these facts.  One author even claimed that witches pray over Halloween candy so it is wrong to buy it.  (I’m not kidding – here is the article: http://www.charismamag.com/index.php/newsletters/spiritled-woman-emagazine/23749-the-danger-of-celebrating-halloween)

But articles opposing the boycott of Halloween also existed.  Ken Eastburn, the leader of the house-church movement, believes that “Christians have every reason to take part in a holiday that brings communities together.”
(http://www.opposingviews.com/articles/opinion-no-reason-christians-can-t-celebrate-halloween)  On his website, www.leavethebuilding.com, he listed five ways in which we can show Christ’s love this Halloween:

5 WAYS TO SHOW THE LOVE OF CHRIST THIS HALLOWEEN

As Christians, we can respond to Halloween in one of two ways: stay as far away from anything that even resembles the holiday or engage in healthy, Christian ways to show the love of Christ to our neighbors. The following are ideas to get you started on the latter:

1. Reverse Trick-or-Treating – Instead of waiting for knocks on your door, why not go and knock on your neighbors’ doors and offer them a treat? We suggest a gift basket of sorts with items that are either tasty or useful or both.

2. Serve Warm Beverages – Chances are, no matter where you live, Halloween night is bound to be at least a little chilly. Offering warm apple cider or hot chocolate to children and/or their chaperone adults is a simple way to show you care.

3. Offer to Help Take Down Decorations – Decorations, no matter how few, are a pain to take down. Serving your neighbors by offering to help them take down those decorations would speak volumes. We suggest a note placed in your reverse trick-or-treat basket to get the word out.

4. Give Away Pumpkins – Are there families in your area struggling to make ends meet? Spread some joy by delivering a few pumpkins.

5. Collect and Dispose of Pumpkins – While everyone loves to carve pumpkins, nobody really likes to deal with them after the fact. With just an hour or two, you can collect all of the unwanted pumpkins in your neighborhood and take care of disposing them. Not sure how to dispose of pumpkins? A quick Google search should help. Personally, we like the idea of blowing them up!

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So what is your opinion?  Is it okay to let your little ones carve pumpkins  and go trick-or-treating?  How do you feel about churches hosting haunted houses and Halloween parties?  Is it simply best to avoid a holiday which has dark ties?  Please share your thoughts!

However you choose to spend Halloween tomorrow night, please be safe and have fun! By the way the picture for today’s blog is of the pumpkins Chad and I carved.

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A Virtual Time Capsule

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http://www.time.com/time/business/article/0,8599,1916317,00.html

By: Shannon Hanson

Have you ever wondered what happens to your Facebook account when you die?  I mean, think about it.  In today’s society it is more common to connect with people over the internet than in any other way.  As mentioned in the article by Time magazine (link above), “As people spend more time at keyboards, there’s less being stored away in dusty attics for family and friends to hang on to. Letters have become e-mails. Diaries have morphed into blogs. Photo albums have turned virtual. The pieces of our lives that we put online can feel as eternal as the Internet itself, but what happens to our virtual identity after we die?

When internet communication became prevalent, many people feared that traditional keepsakes would be lost.  No longer would hand written letters and traditional scrapbooks be treasured.  However, others feel that Facebook and Myspace accounts, along with blog sites such as this one, actually make memories available to more people.  If this blog were simply a diary, it would only be available in one physical copy. If my photo albums on my Facebook account were made the good old fashioned way, nobody would see my pictures except perhaps close family and friends who visited my house.  True, the personal touch of one’s handwriting and creativity is eliminated, but it is replaced with widespread availability to others.  In addition, when you preserve your memories virtually, other people have the chance to make comments on your pictures and blogs, which can add deeper insight and help create a richer memory.

So, back to the topic of what happens to your Facebook account when you die.  If you want to read the logistics, go to http://news.yahoo.com/s/time/20091028/us_time/08599193280300.  For those of you who actually have other things to do, I’ll break it down quickly.  For family and friends who have lost a loved one, that person’s online presence becomes extremely valuable.  Not only is it a place to read the thoughts of that person and reminisce over photos, but it becomes a memorial to that person.  Grieving friends can write messages to the person and leave them on their profile.  The account creates a place for people to come together and share their emotions.

Now, you may be thinking, isn’t it a little weird to write a message to a dead person?  Would people really do this?  Well, in today’s fast-paced world, not many people have time to go visit a grave, especially if it isn’t close by.  Just as people bring flowers to a grave and often leave a message or speak out to the deceased person, the internet now provides the opportunity to do the same thing from the comfort of your own home.  I myself have witnessed this several times, as I have had peers or acquaintances who passed.  Within hours, messages flooded their Facebook profile about how much they were loved and will be missed.

For the family and friends of the deceased, it can be comforting to see all these messages of love.  If the family prefers to keep the profile as a memorial, they can have it officially memorialized by contacting Facebook.  This means that the person’s profile will no longer show up in news feed suggestions saying “You should contact this person” or “It is this person’s birthday”, things which could stir up sadness and grief.  However, if a family wishes, they can also have the profile removed.

In order to make sure that people don’t contact Facebook saying their friend died as a prank, you do have to provide proof such as a death certificate or obituary before the site will be memorialized or closed, so if you were thinking of bookmarking this page for April Fool’s Day, you may want to change your mind.

What is your opinion on all of this?  What would you want for your page, or for your kid’s page? Or do you think this kind of memorial might make it hard for someone to move on?

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bigmac1

And on the sixth day, God made the animals and said it was good. Could he have been particularly pointing out the cow? After all, “Mmm mm, beef.  Its what’s for dinner!” But not so much in Iceland.  What a sad day for them, and how sad that the economy is so bad that not every country can have a small piece of America within it. You may be saying to yourself, “Chad, what are you talking about?”  Well, earlier this week it was announced that the McDonald’s in Reykjavik, Iceland is saying goodbye to the “Big Mac” and McDonalds in general.  Iceland claims the economic crisis to be the main reason for the cancellation of the Golden Arches. Do not fret, the American and fatty staple known as the “Big Mac” will be here for a long time to raise our cholesterol and produce cellulite thighs. I wonder if the “Big Mac” downsize suddenly put Iceland in the front runners for healthy kids?  Because we know our glutton, fat filled, cholesterol driven, arteries clogged, waddle to the bus stop society will not be moving to the top anytime soon. Why are we so fat? When did the game of tag get replaced with a video game tag?

Our culture has become overweight and lazy. We take advice on weight loss from fatter-than-us talk show hosts who just want us to like ourselves.  Don’t you think we would like ourselves more if we respected ourselves enough to put down the donuts? Or we can continue to allow our advice to come from sources such as Dr. Phil. In the words of Denis Leary in his comedic approach at this cultural crisis, “Welcome to America; I am not fat, I am not stupid, I am not the problem – you are.”  We have been so isolated geographically and financially for so long that we don’t even recognize the truth that stands before us in the mirror. I can’t be overweight because I am not nearly as large as the person sitting next to me. The food I eat can’t be bad for me because the commercial on TV says it’s healthy. I can’t be addicted to these pills because the bottle says I can’t. Responsibility, research, and actual fact based thinking has gone out the window. If it’s on TV it must be real/true/important/news/ factual.

It says a lot about the amount of responsibility that people are willing to take for themselves when there have been actual lawsuits against McDonald’s concerning their food. “My kid is the size of an out of shape NFL offensive linemen and has a full blown Fu-Manchu mustache even though he is only 12 years old.  Do I put him on a diet and make him start working out?  No!  I sue McDonald’s for making fatty chemical filled food that he eats every day. Three times a day, because I am very busy living my selfish extended life and don’t have time to cook him normal food or moderate his free time.”  (Denis Leary) Let me make it clear, this is not an “I hate fat people” rant. It’s taking responsibility rather than blaming it on the foods, companies, schools, and other industries like most of America does. Our culture, and I say ours because it’s mine too, wants to blame the media for teen violence, or McDonald’s for our obesity issues, or celebrities for teen pregnancy. We can’t keep blaming everyone except for ourselves. It will take more than the boycotting of Big Macs and Whoppers to help this American crisis. It will actually require some thinking and personal responsibility. For now Iceland’s better off without the Big Mac and the cellulite thighs.

Thoughts?

Excerpts and stories were taken from “Why We Suck” By Dr. Denis Leary

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Wake Up from this Routine

routine

Beep, Beep!  My alarm clock reads 4:00 am.  My wife, Shannon, tells me to wake up.  I climb out of bed, undress, turn on the tub, and sleep in the bath till 4:20.  Go back to bed till 4:50.  The alarm goes off again. Shoot, I better hustle!  Get dressed, kiss my wife, drive to Tacoma, get on Interstate 5, get in the HOV lane, and arrive at work.  My alarm on my iPhone goes off – time to pray, and then read my Bible.  That’s Monday.

I wish I could say the morning/afternoon differs depending on the day; however that’s not the case.  It’s a daily routine; I hate daily routines.  I almost joined the military at one point just to get away from routines.  I obviously wasn’t thinking, considering the military is full of routines.  

The last part of my morning is what I struggle with the most. I need a routine so I will pray and read my Bible.  Something’s wrong with that picture in my head. I love Bible study, preaching, teaching, and learning the background and history to the scriptures.  I don’t make it a routine because it’s something dreaded that I must force myself to do.  On the contrary, I love it – but I just get so busy.  The sad truth is that, if I don’t set an alarm, more than likely God will get the leftovers of my day.   But shouldn’t he deserve more than that?  I mean, how much time in the day do I spend doing so many other things?  I struggle with two facts:  1) If I don’t make my quiet time a routine, then He will get the leftovers of my day. 2) However, if everything is a routine, I am afraid it might take the passion out of my worship with Him.  I seriously feel torn between the two.  40 million minutes in my life, and I want to spend as much as humanly possible with my Savior, but I want the passion to be there.  So tomorrow I will wake up and pray God uses passion to inspire my routine.

Any thoughts?

The video relates, please watch it.

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Earlier this week a woman found herself held up with a loaded gun.  Unlike everyone else she decided to drop to her knees and pray, even though a gun was pointed at her head.  Long story short she talked the gunmen down and he even knelt down and prayed with her.   Their truly is power in prayer.

This week, the weekend question is: What have you seen the power of prayer do?  Please answer with your stories!

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True Forgiveness

forgiveness_[1]By: Shannon Hanson

Each morning, (usually during first recess or my planning period, depending on where I am teaching for the day) I sit down with my devotions journal, “Everyday Blessings for Women”.  It is fantastic; each day you can pick a new topic to think about, and it doesn’t take too long so you can fit it in without an excuse every day.  Today I was perusing the list of topics in the index, and for some reason “forgiveness” caught my eye.  Now, if any of you know my husband, you will know that he is one of the most forgiving people on the planet.  Within two seconds of making a mistake he is ready to forgive you.  This is an amazing quality of which I am incredibly jealous (except those times when I still want to be mad, just for a little bit longer…).  I, on the other hand, like many others, struggle with forgiveness.  To truly forgive means also to forget, and that can be incredibly difficult. 

I often say I forgive people, but is that really true?  In college my roommate once borrowed one of my shirts without asking.  She spilled on it and stained it, and had to admit her mistake to me.  I said that I forgave her, but whenever I was riffling through my closet looking for that one item of clothing I couldn’t find, I would immediately wonder if she had taken it without asking.  If I had really forgiven her, then I wouldn’t be falsely accusing her.  But it is so hard to regain that trust once it has been broken.

We often take for granted how lucky we are to have a God who knows how to truly forgive.  The moment we acknowledge our sin and ask for forgiveness, it’s done.  God doesn’t have to think about it and wait to see if we will mess up again.  And he doesn’t think the worst of us and expect us to fail due to our previous mistakes which we have admitted and apologized for.  So why is it so hard for us to realize the intensity of true forgiveness and practice it with others?

One reason is that we struggle to practice true forgiveness with ourselves.  There are countless sins which I have asked God to forgive me for, but they still haunt me.  I may have asked for God’s forgiveness, but I haven’t asked myself for the same grace.  We hold such high expectations for ourselves, and for others, that it can be seemingly impossible to really forgive.

But if anyone is going to hold high standards, shouldn’t it be God?  Jesus faced every kind of temptation yet never sinned, but He is the one who forgives us.  Think about that.  None of us are perfect.  We strive to be like Christ every day, and that is why it is so disappointing when we mess up.  But if we really want to be like Him, that means practicing forgiveness for ourselves and others.  Colossians 3:13 says, “Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.”

I was so grateful that I chose to pray and write about forgiveness this morning.  There are people in my life that I need to forgive, and there are also many things which I need to forgive myself about.

Please leave your thoughts and comments.

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Here is the link for my devotions journal.  Ladies, it is really worth taking a look!

http://www.amazon.com/EVERYDAY-BLESSINGS-Spiritual-Refreshment-Women/dp/1597896608/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1256248822&sr=8-3

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The Figure in the Mirror

Man_in_Mirror

My wife and I have returned from our journey to the Midwest.  Now I am back to the original routine of eating breakfast and typing the blog.  The downside is that my Honey Combs are stale, no bonus points for my wife.  Yes, that is correct; I blame even my stale cereal on her.  Relax, she knows I am joking.

If you missed us the last couple days, I apologize. We have been in and out of airports and recovering from the time difference of the Midwest.  But as promised, I am back.  So many things to choose to write on, I will give my thoughts and experiences of the Midwest but not today.

At some point along this journey of life, people decide they are unhappy with their life and they want what they can’t have; therefore they go great lengths to get it.  If you were out of town the past five days, here’s a short recap of what you missed.  Former reality television show participants (Trading Spouses) six-year-old boy Falcon released a weather balloon off into the sky and for the majority of the day; everyone thought little Falcon was in it. (Yes, that’s his name; I couldn’t make this up if I tried.) Needless to say, when the balloon landed and no Falcon, everyone (media) went into a panic thinking he may of fell out or may not have been there at all.  The truth comes out later that Falcon was hiding and this was a ploy to gain fame.  It certainly worked; they are plastered across the television, magazines, internet, and newspapers.  “Balloon Boy” is not alone in parents using their kids to receive fame.  Octo-mom gained fame with children fresh out of the womb and inked a deal to be on a reality show; and then of course the most famous is Jon & Kate Plus Eight.  The beginning of their reality deal marked the dismantlement of their happy marriage.  They begin to tear each other apart; sarcastically at first but then purposefully, eventually forcing the eight to choose a side.

Do these parents not see what degradation they are causing their kids, to have everyone single moment of their lives on camera?  I would become very volatile if I could never have a personal moment to myself.  The better question is, did parenting go out the window for fame?  Sadly to say, the answer is yes. Have they looked in the mirror lately to see if they still recognize themselves, is this what they sought out to be?  Believe it or not, biblical times weren’t much different.  I have been reading 1 Samuel in my quiet times and today I read 1 Samuel 18-20.  For those familiar with the story of David and his father in-law Saul, there is no argument that he must have lost his mind.  But what made him lose his mind?  One word – jealousy.  One can read about it through 1 Samuel hearing the chants of the crowd saying “Saul slayed thousands, David ten-thousands”.  Saul at one point becomes so jealous, or tormented by a jealous spirit, that he tries to kill his son Jonathan for defending David.  (1 Samuel 20:30-34).

What is it within us that wants what we can’t have?   Why is it that we are willing to go to such great lengths to get it?  Whether it is fame, money, power, or love, we often live vicariously through others always saying “If I only had _____, then I be happy.”  Trust me friends, jealousy feeds more jealousy.  If we continue to follow that pattern, in time we look in the mirror we won’t even recognize the figure before us.

Please leave thoughts, stories, and comments.

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