Warriors for Christ Church Says If You Participate in Halloween “You’re a Compromiser and Carnal Minded”

In his live video on October 14th, Rich Penkoski from Warriors for Christ church went on an hour-long rant about why Christians should not celebrate Halloween, during which he banned at least a couple of viewers from his page for arguing against his position. To one commenter he said, “I can’t stand uneducated Christians!” To another, “You might want to go study before you go running your mouth, because you have no idea what you’re talking about.” I’m not sure exactly what the comments entailed because after the person was banned the comment was unavailable, but that didn’t sound like the loving, caring pastor I expected to hear when I started the video. I will now list five statements made in the video and then explain why they are completely preposterous.

1. “[You’re] introducing your children to the occult as early as one year old.”

If you have ever read your horoscope or watched Bewitched then you have been introduced to the occult. Anything relating to witchcraft and astrology are occult practices. Other practices that are included in the term “occult” today include ESP, the belief of reincarnation, and faith healing. Faith healing is a big part of Charismatic churches, including Warriors for Christ. Therefore, if you attend a charismatic church, such as Warriors for Christ, you are being exposed to occult practices.

2. “Do you know where the jack-o-lanterns origins came from? It derives from the Druids ghastly remnants of the severed human head. They probably decorated their houses and temples with bloody severed heads.”

There is no proof that these things actually occurred. His use of the word “probably,” indicates this as well. The Druids did celebrate Samhain “summer’s end,” which marks the end of the Pagan sacred year; and they did slaughter animals based on what they needed to survive winter and what they had to feed the animals from their spring harvest. Pagans today do still celebrate the end of the harvest and honor their ancestors who have passed. Some Christians today use this time to honor the martyrs of the Christian faith. Personally, I like to use this time to remember Martin Luther and the reformation, which just so happens to have fallen on October 31st five hundred years ago.

3. “Dressing your kids in Halloween costumes is indeed participating in a Satanic festival.”

There are some festivals around the world that are pagan or even Satanic in nature and some do involve the wearing of costumes. However, to say that putting a three-year-old in a superman costume and letting them in a bounce house on the church lawn is participating in a Satanic festival, is quite a stretch.

4. “You cannot claim to be a Christian and want to do these things.”

Scriptures are quoted throughout the video and their posts to support this claim, but they have all been taken out of context to suit their own agenda. Here are some of the verses and what they actually mean:

• Matthew 9:4 “But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts?”

In this verse, Jesus was replying to the men that were accusing Him of blasphemy because He said that He could forgive sins. The evil in their hearts was that they did not see Him as God but as a mere man.

• Romans 12:21 “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

This verse is about keeping peace in your heart, even when people are trying to persecute you. While you may be tempted to get sweet revenge on your adversary, you should “not be overcome by evil.”

• 1 Thess. 5:21-22 “but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.”

This verse is referring to false doctrine. “Test[ing] everything” is the measuring of what is being taught in the Name of God to the Word of God. “Hold fast to what is good [teaching]. Abstain from false prophets and false teachers.

5. “If you are doing this year after year you are practicing sin and you need to stop.”

I have just demonstrated how the scriptures being used to support their claims were taken out of context and I have yet to see any scripture that even remotely indicates that dressing in costume and eating candy with your neighborhood friends, is a sin. “Where there is no law there is no transgression” (Romans 4:15). Opinion is one thing, but something like Halloween falls under religious liberty.

I would like to also point out that self-righteousness IS a sin. Self-righteous by definition is “convinced of one’s own righteousness especially in contrast with the action and beliefs of others” (Merriam-Webster). In the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector, Jesus told the story of “some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt” (Luke 18: 9-14). The treatment given to people who disagree with Pastor Rich Penkoski’s stance on Halloween is appalling. It is self-righteous behavior and is not becoming of someone who calls them self a church leader.

Conclusion

There is nothing wrong with being cognitive about how you approach Halloween, in fact I strongly encourage it. Even during Christmas, while my kids are staring at the Wal-Mart gift catalog with their eyes bulging out, I have to stop and remind them that Jesus is the reason that we are celebrating. Many churches use Halloween as a chance for a community outreach and if we can be the light on the darkest of days, that is a good thing. There is no compromise here if our focus is still on Christ. Just imagine what would happen if we did heed the advice of Warriors for Christ church. If all of the Christians were to suddenly shut their doors and hide away on October 31st, then it could indeed become Satan’s holiday.

Resources Used

Higginbotham, Joyce & River. Paganism: An Introduction to Earth-Centered Religions. Llewellyn Publications, 2002.

McDowell, Josh & Stewart, Don. Handbook of Today’s Religions: Understanding the Occult. Here’s Life Publishers, Inc., 1982

Pelayo, Cina. (2015, August 4). 10 Satanic Celebrations Held Around the World. Retrieved from http://www.therichest.com

Is Trusting God an Option? Book review

Being taught how to trust God by someone who believes trusting God is optional might sound a little kooky (because it is), but that is exactly what Joyce Meyer fans are doing when they read her newest book, Unshakeable Trust.  In the second paragraph of her introduction she states, “. . . trust is not an obligation that we owe God; it is a privilege that He makes available to us.” (p. vii) That one statement makes me want to fill this page with reasons why we should trust God, why it is imperative to the Christian faith that we trust God, but there are a few more contentions that I have with this book that need to be pointed out.

The first couple of pages of the first chapter didn’t send up any major red flags but by the third page she again asserts that, “there is no reason to be condemned if your trust in God is not perfected yet.” (p.3) While I can agree that trusting God isn’t easy, I don’t think it is wise to imply that it isn’t a big deal if you’re not trusting God.  Jesus commands that we trust Him. “. . . Do not fear, only believe” Mark 5:36.  It is not optional.  If ever you find yourself not trusting God to take care of you, then you should open your bible or pray, or do both.

The second contention I have with Meyer’s teaching is when she is talking about God’s character. She states, “. . . He works in our behalf and brings justice in our situation.” (p.4) This is how she interprets Hebrews 10:30, and after reading this verse I failed to see God talking about bringing justice to my situation.  What it is actually talking about is salvation and the assurance of it.  Again, we have an example of changing the context by only quoting one verse.  If you read Hebrews 10:30, then back up to verse 19 and read to the end of the chapter, you’ll see what I mean.

The last thing that I take issue with is Meyer’s belief that faith is what you have while you wait for God to give you what you want, which is the whole premise of the Word of Faith movement.  She states, “One of the reasons why trusting God can be challenging is because He doesn’t always immediately give us what we ask for.” (p.5) She also says, “God is waiting to help you and me, and all we need to do is trust Him to do so.” (ibid) Basically, people are having “faith” because they have gotten and/or will get something in return.   This is made evident in her story about dishtowels.

“Anytime I am having difficulty trusting God, I remember things He has done for me in the past and I am reassured that He will do it again.  I have kept journals for forty years, and I ran across one recently from the 1970’s, when I asked God to provide me with a dozen new dishtowels.  Dave and I had no money to purchase them, and since I was just beginning my journey of trusting God, I approached Him as a little child and asked for them.  Imagine my elation when a few weeks later, a woman I was barely acquainted with showed up at my door and said, ‘I hope you don’t think I’m crazy, but I kept feeling that God wanted me to bring you some new dishtowels!’ I got so excited that she was shocked until I explained to her that I had asked God to provide them.  That is one of my vivid experiences with the faithfulness of God, and there have been many others through the years.” (p.5)

While I like to give credit to God for everything that I have, I do not base my faith in what I have received.  God has done so much more than provide Joyce Meyer with dishtowels.  He is so much bigger than my little problems, He has overcome the world (John 16:33).  I don’t really need to look back at my own life to see what God has done, He already gave His son so that I can live (1 John 4:9).  Also, not all prayers are answered in the way we might expect.  God is sovereign and will act in accordance with His own plan, not ours.

The book is entitled Unshakeable Trust, but Meyer’s definition of faith seems to fit more in with the WOF movement and prosperity gospel than what real faith is.  “When Job’s wife said Curse God and die” (Job 2:9), Job rebuked her saying, “You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” (Job 2:10).  This foolish woman, and I’m speaking about Meyer now, spends a lot of time talking about good reasons to trust God and all of the wonderful things that will come of it.  However real trust and faith in God happens when you praise Him in the troubled times as much as the good times.  “The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” (Job 1:21)

I would love to see more examples of true faith.  I want to see examples of people who praise His name during the storms.  I once went on a mission trip to help rebuild houses after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans.  I remember vividly when one of my group members asked a woman how she was doing.  Her response was, “I’m too blessed to be stressed.”  Her house had been ruined by the floods but she had friends and she had skills and most importantly, she had faith that God was in control.  Faith isn’t waiting for something, it’s seeing God in every aspect of your life right now.

Book Review: Anxious For Nothing: God’s Cure For The Cares Of Your Soul by John MacArthur 

In my previous post, I gave you just a few reasons why you should not look to Max Lucado for answers in dealing with anxiety.  This post will give you a few reasons why you should read John MacArthur’s book Anxious For Nothing: God’s Cure For The Cares Of Your Soul.

A Contrast of Theory About The Bible and What it Says About Anxiety

In Max Lucado’s book Anxious For Nothing: Finding Calm in a Chaotic World, he makes the claim that “anxiety is not a sin; it is an emotion.”  However, MacArthur states, “Worry at any time is a sin because it violates the clear biblical command.” (p. 10)  He further clarifies this statement in the first chapter.

“Jesus commands us not to do it, thus making it clear that worry is a sin. . . Anxiety is blatant distrust of the power and love of God.” (p. 18)

Not only does MacArthur argue that anxiety is a sin, but he also explains why it is not a trivial sin.

“Worry is devastating.  But more important than what worry does to you is what it does to God.  When you worry, you are saying in effect, ‘God, I just don’t think I can trust You.’  Worry strikes a blow at the person and character of God.” (p. 38)

An Explanation of Faith

The word of faith movement has made many believe that they can change their circumstances by just speaking it in God’s name, otherwise known as “name it, claim it”, but that isn’t the biblical definition of faith at all. MacArthur gives a wonderful explanation of biblical faith in chapter 2.

“Faith isn’t psychological self-hypnosis or wishful thinking, but a reasoned response to revealed truth. When we in faith embrace Christ as our Lord and Savior, our minds are transformed. The Holy Spirit is at work in us, renewing us; and we receive a new mind or way of thinking. Divine and supernatural thoughts inject our human thought patterns.” (p. 45)

Why We Need Humility

MacArthur starts chapter 3 talking about the worrying Peter, because “Peter had ongoing trouble with anxiety.” (p. 51)  The topic of this chapter is humility because “only from humility comes the ability to truly hand over all our cares to God.” (p. 52) He also explores the topic of pride. Opposite of humility, pride prevents us experiencing the grace God offers when you “cast your anxieties on Him.” (1 Peter 5:7)

“I mourn to see people stumbling around trying to fix their lives, to find some kind of solution, some kind of book or therapy that will solve their problems, but who find no deliverance.  Instead of experiencing the grace of God, they experience the correcting hand of God because they are proud.” (p. 56)

Conclusion

In all, this book has nine chapters of biblical teaching that points to the main source of our anxiety alleviation, the Bible.  When questions are presented, an answer from the Word of God is given. Just as the title points out, we need to look at God’s cure, rather than ideas made by man.