FROZEN MEMORIES

FROZEN MEMORIES                                                                                                                              Andy Hollifield 11-9-19
The cold, crisp, mountain air hit my lungs like a jackhammer on concrete as it took my breath away and left the inside of my nose burning as I inhaled. There is nothing quite like a Blue Ridge Mountain winter morning. After taking just a second to get used to the cold and put our gloves and bogans on, the four of us set out across the road headed to the woods to do a little squirrel hunting.

As we walk the long gravel driveway of old Mr. Capps’ place, we joke about how any self-respecting squirrel with any good sense would probably still be hunkered down in the nest like we should be. Nineteen degrees is so cold that it chills even teenage boys to the bone. At least the wind ain’t blowing we thought.

As we cross over the barbed wire gate, we look to make sure the old bull isn’t anywhere around. He’s never bothered us before but today wouldn’t be a good day for him to start. I didn’t say anything to the others but I was wondering if I could even move fast enough to get away. My young joints knew they should still be in the bed buried under a big pile of cover.

I wasn’t sure I could count on them but like the old joke says, I didn’t have to be faster than the bull, just faster than one of the others. I was pretty sure I could outrun Jim. I had done it plenty of times before when I would pester him in spite of his warnings for me to leave him alone. When he finally hit his breaking point and that redhead temper kicked in, he would chase me until he got tired of running. Relief set in as we neared the trail up the hill and cross back over the fence to finally head into the woods.

As we start up the hill it doesn’t take long for our lungs to be burning and for us to be sucking wind. That hill was steep on a warm summer day and seemingly straight up when it was cold and you’ve got on two layers of clothes, the thickest coat you own, and toting a shotgun. We never really gave it any thought back then and didn’t realize that we weren’t just going squirrel hunting but were making memories that would last a lifetime.

My brother Jim and I had met Stanley and Steve when we were probably about ten or eleven. Jim was fifteen months older than me and Steve was at least a year older than Stanley. We all became instant friends and have remained that way to this day.

As young boys, no one wants to be the first to give in to being out of breath so one of us decides to stop and discuss which direction we were going to go once we reached the top. The hill was probably no more than a hundred yards long if that much but on cold days you would swear it was half a mile at least. When we all got stopped and finished sucking wind, we decided whether we would turn left and go around the backside or go straight until we got to the lean-to. We had camped many times in the homemade structure and it was always a good resting place in a cleared patch of woods with a couple of fallen logs for seats. We always slept by the fire in our sleeping bags and kept what little clothes and food we took with us in the lean-to so it didn’t get wet with dew.

After we finished catching our breath, even though no one would admit that’s what we were doing, we decided to go on past the lean-to to where there was a stand of hardwoods that always provided us with a squirrel or two. To be honest, though, looking back it seems we did a lot more tromping through the woods most of the time than what we did hunting.

Now, forty-something years beyond those days, when I happen to think about some of my childhood, it always brings a smile to my face to remember those days of tromping through the woods with my brother and my two best friends. I can still almost feel the numbness in my toes from those cold hunting trips. I can also remember the excitement of waking up to a light dusting of snow during rabbit season, hoping to be able to track one down for lunch or supper. I still remember the nights spent at Stan and Steve’s house, sitting at the kitchen table playing poker till the wee hours of the morning. We didn’t play for money cause we didn’t usually have any, plus our folks would have killed us if they had caught us gambling. Besides, the satisfaction of being better than all the others at least for that one lucky night was a good enough prize for any of us.

I also have a memory of me and Stan sleeping in our vehicles one night in early April so we would be the first ones at that spot on Cane River for Opening Day of Trout Season. Then there was the time when Stan and I and our friend Jon were camping at the lean-to and Jon threw an empty bug spray can in the fire and didn’t bother telling us until a few seconds later. Then it was only because he mentioned, “I wonder how long it will take that can to blow up.” Talk about three kids making a run for it, we were about fifty feet from the lean-to when it blew and made a worse noise than a dangerous explosion. We spent the rest of the night telling our buddy what an idiot we thought he was. He just laughed it off and made fun of us for being chicken.

Those things and a lifetime full of others are only a few of the good times I remember as a kid growing up. It was a different day, a day when twelve-year-olds carried shotguns hunting because we had been taught by our dads how to use and respect them. A day when nearly every high school boy of driving age kept his shotgun or rifle in the trunk of his car or on the gun rack in the back window of his pick up to go hunting after school. Yet, there was never a school shooting. It was a time when most of us boys went hunting or to work after school to try and buy the things we needed so our parents didn’t have to.
In those days, the Russians were the enemy and we were all proud to be Americans and apologized to no one for it. Only three channels on TV yet all of us knew when the Americans beat the Russians in hockey in 1980. We lived to see not only the Miracle On Ice but also we all mourned when Elvis died. It was a time when our phones were only at home or in a phone booth and they were all attached to a cord and receiver. The idea of a mobile phone was one with a long cord. Those ancient, historic, good old days, when not only did our hands and feet get frozen on hunting trips; but all of those wonderful memories got frozen in time in our minds forever.

https://wordpress.com/post/morningmannaanddailygrace.com/2375

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KEEPING THE MAIN THING THE MAIN THING

KEEPING THE MAIN THING THE MAIN THING                                                                              Andy Hollifield 11-8-19
John 4:24 “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” (ALL SCRIPTURE USED IS KJV)
Isn’t it easy to get excited this time of year? Thanksgiving is right around the corner and then, less than four weeks later it is Christmas. I have mentioned before that when it comes to Christmas, I am still the little kid sitting at the top of the stairs before anyone else wakes up because I couldn’t sleep much anyway. I am decades older and don’t have the stairs but the little boy in me has never grown up. He still gets excited as ever albeit for different reasons than in my childhood.

I began to think about what these two holidays center around. Some would say time with family, some would say the food, others would say time off from work, and still, others would say all of the above. Those answers would all be incorrect. All of those are the things we enjoy during the holidays. But, worship is what both are centered around. Worshipping the Lord. That is the main thing. In order to be able to truly be thankful to the one who has given us all that we possess, we must humble ourselves in worship. On the first Christmas night, it wasn’t curiosity that brought the shepherds into town from the fields around Bethlehem. By the way, do you know what the name “Bethlehem” means? In Hebrew, it means “house of bread.” Jesus said in John 6:35 “…I am the bread of life…” Isn’t it interesting the very town he was born in bears the meaning of his name?

No, it wasn’t curiosity but worship that brought the shepherds to the manger that night. Sometime later, after Joseph had his family in a house, wise men came also to worship Christ. Herod may have been the one who sent them on a mission but they came to worship. For them, as well as the shepherds, they were keeping the main thing the main thing.

“Worship” means “reverent honor and homage paid to God.” I found that “worship” is only in scripture 108 times. That seems a little strange to me for a book that is all about worship. It is used 15 times in the book of Psalms and then 12 times in the book of Revelation. “Worshipped” is used only 70 times.

What I really found interesting was who worshipped the Lord and how. In Genesis 24:26 when the word is first used, it is when Abraham’s servant was seeking a wife for Isaac. It says that he “bowed down his head and worshipped the Lord.” Verse 27 is a prayer of thanksgiving to God for leading him right to Abraham’s people to find Isaac’s wife. In Exodus 33:10 all the people of Israel worshipped standing in their tent door when they saw the cloudy pillar stand at the tabernacle. In Judges 7:15 Gideon, upon hearing the telling of a dream of one of the enemy soldiers, worshipped right where he was before doing anything else. Why? Because he knew that worshipping and giving honor to the Lord was the only hope they had.

Even in 1 Samuel 1:19 Before leaving on their journey home, Elkanah got up early in the morning before heading back home after paying his taxes and worshipped the Lord. If I could just grasp the concept of starting my day in prayer before I do even the simplest of things, how much better off I would be.

In Matthew 2 when the wise men entered Joseph’s house, immediately upon seeing Mary and the baby, they fell down and worshipped the Lord. It is when we start reading about the miracles of Jesus that we see different activities taking place. In Matthew 8 a leper, knowing his life was essentially over and already banned from those he loved, upon seeing Jesus fell down and worshipped him. Truly if anyone had a good reason not to worship it would have been this leper. In Matthew 8:15 Peter’s mother in law rose and ministered after Jesus touched her and her fever left. In Matthew 14 after Peter walked on the water, when he and Jesus got back to the boat, those that were on the boat worshipped. In Matthew 25 the woman begging crumbs and crying after Jesus, worshipped before he had even done anything for her. In Mattew 28:9, the women in the garden upon seeing Jesus alive held him by his feet and worshipped him. Later that evening, the disciples worshipped him on sight when he met them in Galilee. Even the demonic of Gadara upon seeing Jesus step off of the boat ran and worshipped him. The desperate father of the demon-possessed son in John 9 worshipped Jesus before Jesus even helped his son. Hebrews 11:21 speaks about Joseph too weak to stand and leaning on his staff, still worshipped.

No matter what their need was, and they were all great needs, each person coming to Jesus realized the main thing was to worship him. I was impressed upon reading the references on “worshipped” If we ever want to see God move in our lives, we also will have to remember that worship is the main thing. It would be amazing what we would see God do if we worshipped him before he even did anything for us. Keep the main thing the main thing. Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!

https://wordpress.com/post/morningmannaanddailygrace.com/2373

 

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THOSE MOMENTS

THOSE MOMENTS                                                                                                                              Andy Hollifield 11-7-19

Matthew 21:16 “Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise?” (ALL SCRIPTURE IS KJV)
When it comes to honest and sincere worship, we have to look no further than the heart of a child. I have written before of Tyler’s experience with seeing a man in his room that I couldn’t see and was talking to him when he was still pretty much non-verbal. I have also written of the time he was in bed and I heard him talking. When I checked on him and asked who he was talking to he replied, “God.” He was still unable to talk for the most part but had been subjected to the Lord and the gospel enough that he had no trouble believing in him at an early age. I believe the first event was simply a visit from his guardian angel. Whoever it was, Tyler saw him and wasn’t the least bit afraid of him and was very comfortable talking to him.

There was also the Talent Show at the end of his first year of sixth grade. At Open House at the beginning of the year, his teacher told us Tyler was going to be in the talent show and sing with her. He wanted to sing “I’ll Fly Away.” The fact he picked a gospel song was a big blessing. The bad part was what I told his teacher. I said “good luck with that.” We had been to every school program that his teachers said he was in throughout elementary school. Time and time again we watched as he either refused to get on stage or just stood there with his class while they did all the work. Little did I know that the talent show was going to be different. Not only was his mom glowing when she related the details to me, but his teacher couldn’t wait to talk about it the next time she saw me. She said that not only was Diane and her crying, but there wasn’t a dry eye in the place. It isn’t every day you get to see an autistic kid step out of his comfort zone in such a dramatic fashion.

I have had some other instances where Tyler shocked me with something he said that I wouldn’t have thought about him saying. Once when we were delivering shoeboxes in McDowell County, we were stacking them on a hand truck and he suddenly grinned and said, “I love this stuff” referring to the work we were doing. Other times while listening to either preaching or gospel music, we would hear him singing along and sometimes even shouting. I know he may have been mimicking to a certain degree but even then you know it comes from his heart.

The best one of all was on a Saturday night in March a few years ago. He had just finished walking the treadmill and proudly got off and proclaimed to his mom that he had just been saved. He had been watching a Gaither Homecoming cd while he was exercising. After asking him all the usual questions you would ask a child, I was convinced that he knew exactly what he was talking about.

Just recently we were driving and out of the blue while listening to music he said, “I like that.” Today he gave me another one of “those moments.” We had just left the credit union and were talking about one of the young ladies there who plays gospel music in her office all the time. Neither of us could remember her name. He made the statement about her; “She’s a gospel music fanatic like I am.”

The reason I wrote this is for those parents, grandparents, or caretakers of children who aren’t behaving quite that way. We are having some issues with Tyler that we never thought we would have concerning church attendance. We have taken him to church all of his life only to have him get to the place where he refuses to go. Sometimes my mom reminds me that God knew about it when he gave him to us to raise.

I know there are a lot of other folks going through similar situations. You have been faithful, kept them in church, taught their memory verses, taught them to sing and love God, only to have them rebel years later for no good reason. As you have to answer endless questions from concerned folks, you are embarrassed and wonder where you failed as a parent. We beat ourselves up a lot with Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” We blame ourselves for their lack of faithfulness all the while taking the verse out of its context. It says when he is old he will not depart from it. It never said they wouldn’t stray and wander off at times. Some of the greatest folks in the bible wandered off but at some point but turned again to the Lord and did great things. Their experiences during that time may humble them and also teach them lessons God couldn’t teach them any other way.

You’re not alone! You hide the pain and doubt behind your best Sunday smile all the while slowly dying inside. What makes it worse is the Devil will call your attention to how bad you failed as a parent and how bad God has let you down. God hasn’t let you down and he will honor his word. You just keep training and doing the best you can to “bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4). They might ignore you but they can’t ignore God. So, when those hard times come, don’t give up on them because they might be able to get out of your sight, but they will never get so far that God can’t see them. That is the time you need to think back to easier times as a parent and seek comfort from the Lord and remember all of “Those Moments” from better times. Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!

https://wordpress.com/post/morningmannaanddailygrace.com/2371

 

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HIS GOOD HAND

HIS GOOD HAND                                                                                                                               Andy Hollifield 11-6-19

Jeremiah 26:14 “As for me, behold, I am in your hand: do with me as seemeth good and meet unto you.” (ALL SCRIPTURE USED IS KJV)

Sometimes, it’s easy to look at the pain and forget about the promises. When God’s wrath and judgment comes, it’s amazing how close we will try to draw to God or blame him. On the other hand, when things in our lives are turning out good, it’s also amazing how quickly we can forget the blessings of God.

Verse 14 of Jeremiah 26 is the statement Jeremiah made to the leaders of Judah when the priests and prophets sought for the princes of the people to put him to death. The only thing he did wrong was to prophesy of God’s coming judgment if they refused to turn back to the Lord. Looking at that verse in a different light, we should apply that principle to our service for the Lord. If we would just amend our ways and doings as verse 13 says, and obey God he will bring blessings instead of judgment to our lives.

We often face circumstances that we don’t understand no matter how hard we try. Joseph told his brothers concerning their evil treatment of him as a young man:
Genesis 50:20 “But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.”

He had a lifetime of circumstances that were against him even though he honored God in his life. He had done nothing to bring them on but it seemed every event in his life was worse than the one before. We say “I can’t win for losing” and it sure seems that way at times. In those times, we are afraid to say in frustration “What’s next?” because we are afraid we will find out. Paul told the people in Thessalonica:

1 Thessalonians 5:18 “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” In every thing, not just the good. Just like in the life of Joseph, God is using all of the events of our lives to get us molded into what he wants us to be. Jeremiah also expressed it another way:

Jeremiah 18:4 “And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it.”

Ephesians 2:10 says “We are his workmanship.” It is the Lord’s decision what he wants to make us and how he needs to do it for his glory. I am sure Joseph didn’t spend all of his years in Egypt excited about what God was doing in his life. I am also certain that he had no idea how God was getting ready to use him. I would be more inclined to think he probably thought a lot like you and I. He was hated and sold by his brothers into slavery, and endured false accusations from Potiphar’s wife that put him in prison. On top of that, he was forgotten by Pharoah’s butler who he had been in prison with after the butler’s release. I imagine Joseph probably came closer to thinking God had forgotten him rather than preparing him for greater things. God used him to preserve the nation of Israel before a nation was ever thought about.

Ezra and Nehemiah both mentioned repeatedly about the good hand of God being upon them. Ezra had to undergo some horrible demonstrations of God’s prophecies concerning Israel. Nehemiah was broken-hearted about his homeland and had a burden to rebuild it. He was ridiculed, mocked, and harassed the entire time he was working on the wall of Jerusalem. It became so bad they had to work with one hand and have a weapon ready in the other. Don’t you think Nehemiah might have wondered why God had given him that burden and then made his situation so hard to endure?

Stop and examine your life. The circumstances you’re in now may have you heart-broken or at your wit’s end. It’s easy to think in those times, “Where is God and why is he doing this?” Years after his being sold into slavery, Joseph wound up preserving his family and God’s chosen people. Nehemiah, when it was all said and done, built the wall of the city in only 52 days. You may not have to build a wall or preserve a nation but God is preparing you for what he needs to accomplish in your life. Things may be difficult, tiresome, and seem like they are neverending. Don’t try to cry and pray your way out of a blessing. Just like he did with Nehemiah, God is getting you ready to shine. He took a young man from obscurity and through his circumstances, we still read of his life to this day. God’s grace is always sufficient. Get ready for God to make you shine and put you on display with his good hand. Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!

https://wordpress.com/post/morningmannaanddailygrace.com/2360

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HERE’S LOOKIN’ AT YOU

HERE’S LOOKIN’ AT YOU                                                                                                             Andy Hollifield 11-4-19
Mat 5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

That makes no sense? In social circles, it is a toast made to friends or drinking buddies before drinking which practically means nothing except the person toasting is pleased with someone’s presence. It’s really just a famous quote from the 1942 Humphrey Bogart movie “Casablanca.” It’s also said to be Bogie’s unique way of flirting.
For Christians, it can be a warning or an encouragement. A warning because it should remind us that someone is always watching our life and how we conduct ourselves. We can turn them to the Lord or turn them away simply by how we interact with others. One mistake, one word spoken in a moment of anger or frustration, one word expressing disgust with something, a lack of interest in something important to the person watching, and the result is always the same. It results in a total loss of confidence that can likely never be restored to the point that it once was. And what makes it even worse is that we may never know that confidence has been shattered.

Paul said the following to Titus which is still sound advice for everyone in any generation:

Titus 2:7&8 In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, (8) Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.

He goes on in verse 14 that we should be “a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” Throughout Paul’s writings, he advises young preachers they should always live in a way that people can follow us as a good example of how to live. I like Paul’s use of the word “pattern” in Titus 2:7. For a pattern to produce a successful result, it implies that whatever is being done, from wood-working to mechanics or even cooking, it needs to be done pretty much the same way every time. We should live our lives in a way that what people see in our lives shouldn’t be an occasional occurrence but a pattern or how we live all the time.

That all sounds like a lot of heavy-duty responsibility for us as Christians and it is. We have a lost world without God looking at our lives every day waiting for us to mess up so they can use our mistake as a justification for the things they do regularly. To be honest; they are looking for an opportunity to pass judgment on us.

The encouraging part is because it should remind us that someone is always watching our life and how we conduct ourselves. The very same thing that makes it a warning also makes it an encouragement. Sometimes as God’s children, we may feel that what we do doesn’t make a difference. That isn’t the case at all. If we are living the way we should, we should be able to be like Paul and others should be able to follow us because our lives are a good representation of the Lord and his grace. Although it may be a heavy load to bear at times, we should be thankful that we are living in a way that anyone would be interested in looking at our life. Paul told the brethren and followers in Philippians 3:17 “…Ye have us for an ensample.” In 1 Timothy 4:12 Paul said:

“Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.”

In Acts 11:26 the bible tells us that “the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.” It was said in ridicule but worn as a badge of honor because they were living and acting just like Jesus.

You can think of all of this another way too. What if your life didn’t impress anyone enough to where they would want to be like you? We realize our kids and grandkids may follow in our footsteps but there are also folks we have no idea are paying any attention to us at all that are watching our every move. Some are not so much waiting for us to fail but are watching to see how we trust God in bad times as well as good. It’s easy to talk it when you’re tip-toeing through the tulips but it’s a lot harder when life’s circumstances have us fighting through the briar patch. They want to see if we believe enough to trust God then.

Some of those same people that are watching would like to see you not falter. They want to see something real. You are likely to be the one they come to when the Lord begins to deal with their hearts or when trouble invades their lives. You may be the one person they know that they have any confidence in. That is an awesome responsibility but we serve an awesome God. Aren’t you thankful that you look and act enough like him for folks to want to watch your life? Here’s looking at you! Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!

https://wordpress.com/post/morningmannaanddailygrace.com/2358

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THE DAY

THE DAY                                                                                                                                                Andy Hollifield 11-1-19
Psalms 118:24 “This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” (ALL SCRIPTURE USED IS KJV)

Have you ever noticed those two little words? I never had until I heard it mentioned in church. Today is not just any day but “the day.” A particular day. Do you realize what a privilege you have at this particular minute? If you are reading this, you survived through the night and woke to face another day. You still have a sound mind and no doubt have plans for the day.

The verse goes on to explain another truth to us. Where did this day come from? This is “the day” the Lord has made. Do you realize what that is saying to you? God made this day and not only kept you through the night but gave you and I the privilege to wake up and get to enjoy “the day” he has made. Like I always say, “It is a privilege denied to many.” A lot of folks didn’t get to wake up this morning in our presence. Most of them were probably planning on it but for them, it didn’t happen. The plans they had made have gone by the wayside and have been left undone. But we got to live to see another one of his days. The writer goes on to say, “…We will rejoice and be glad in it.” God didn’t have to allow us to wake up in his world and be a part of his day. Why should we not rejoice and be glad?

Another verse I like is 2 Corinthians 6:2 (For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted…” Do you realize that he is listening and paying attention to you? Psalms 18:6 says, “In my distress, I called upon the Lord, and cried unto my God:” A lot of people try to do that who don’t even know the Lord. The next part gets better. “He heard my voice out of his temple…” My voice! From his throne, he heard something and according to Psalms 40:1 “he inclined unto me.” When he hears my voice he leans over close to listen to me. Why? Because I am one of his children and I know him and he knows me. Picture this for a second; God is sitting on his throne with everyone around his feet worshipping him and the angels crying “Holy, Holy, Holy” but over all of that praise he hears a faint, weak, distressed voice.” He doesn’t ask anyone who it is because he already knows. His immediate response is to say, “Hold on a minute. Andy needs something and he is pretty distressed. I need to talk to him a minute,” and he leans over and hears my cry and says, “What’s wrong son, what do you need?” He already knows the answer because he knows all things but he just wants me to confess my needy condition to him. A lot of our friends and family may shy away from us in our times of distress but the Lord never does.

Do you know what “succor” means? It means to bring aid. Not only does he hear us in our distress but in the day of salvation, when nothing else will do; he brings aid. He goes on to tell us that “…Now is the accepted time…” when he hears us and “…Now is the day of salvation.” The definition on BlueLetterBibleClassic.org says; “deliverance from the molestation of enemies.” GOD TO THE RESCUE! He is on time every time!

He has let you wake up in his world and even promised that even in your distress he will not only hear you but also bring aid. The Lord said he succored us. To “bring” aid, he has to come where we are. We have never been to a place that was too distressing for God to show up. It may be a little out of context but in Matthew 28:20 he did say “…Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” Not just on mountain tops but especially when we are low. “To the end of the world.” If your world crumbles around you, he will be right there with you bringing you aid as only he can.

I know some who are reading this are facing trying times and carrying burdens that maybe no one knows about. You may have gotten good at hiding it behind a smile. You may even cry yourself to sleep at night. You don’t have to face it by yourself. God told Paul, “…My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness…” What you need is perfect strength and sufficient grace. Perfect means “without fault or shortcoming” and sufficient simply means “enough.” No matter what your load is, his grace is enough. Your strength may be gone but he is just getting started.

You may already know you have a rough day in-store but remember, this is “The day, which the Lord hath made…” You can rejoice and be glad because he allowed you to live to see it and he will never leave you. Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!

https://wordpress.com/post/morningmannaanddailygrace.com/2355

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THE ORIGIN OF HALLOWEEN

THE ORIGIN OF HALLOWEEN                                                                                                       Andy Hollifield 10-31-19

Col 2:8 “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.” (KJV)

A pagan religious holiday! That’s right. That is the origin of Halloween. It comes from an ancient Celtic spiritual tradition. Samhain was the actual name of the festival. It runs from October 31-November 1 to welcome in the harvest and also the dark half of the year. Celebrants believe the barriers between the spirit world and the physical world are also broken down at this time allowing interaction between the inhabitants of both worlds. If you remember in 1 Samuel 28 Saul got in trouble with the Lord for that reason. He had secretly hired a woman with a familiar spirit to summon the prophet Samuel from the dead. The festival also involved animal sacrifices, a headless woman named the Lady Gwyn who chased wanderers accompanied by a black pig, a creature called Pukah that could change its shape, and also fairies. Some even believed in headless horsemen who carried their heads riding flame-eyed horses that were a death omen to those who encountered them. A group of hunters known as the Faery Host haunted Samhain and kidnapped people. Then there was the Sluagh who came from the west to enter houses and steal souls. All of this information and more is easily found on the History.com website.

The way the festival got mainstreamed was through the compromise of church leaders, in particular, Pope Boniface in the fifth century. He tried to move it to May 13th to celebrate saints and martyrs but the fire festivals of the early centuries were kept. This was basically an attempt for the Catholic church to appeal to the lost world by allowing the keeping of their rituals. October 31st later became All Hallows Eve or Halloween and contained many pagan practices and was brought to the United States in the 19th century by Irish immigrants that brought their traditions with them.

Trick or treating is also said to be of Irish origin which included putting on costumes and going door to door singing songs to the dead. In the 1980’s Samhain was revived by being embraced by Wicca. The ancient Samhain traditions were kept as well as the fire ceremonies with music and dance called Witches’ balls. There is a lot more I could write but I don’t even like reading this stuff that pertains to the spirit world and pagan worship.

Before anyone decides to stone me, I did participate in Halloween festivities as a kid. As far as we knew then it was just a time to pretend you were something you were not and get a ton of free candy. One of my fondest memories of childhood involves a Halloween party that was thrown by my mom, aunts and uncle, and friends and attended by several cousins and friends. We had the dry ice and a paper skeleton that got jerked out from under a bunch of leaves in the barn and raised to the rafters right as we walked in. At seven or eight years old it scared the daylights out of us.

One of my scariest memories of Halloween involved my Aunt Vicki. She had told me for a few weeks that there was a witch that stayed at night around the building we called the little house. She told me when I came up the sidewalk trick or treating that witch was going to get me. Guess who the witch was. I don’t think I was even in school yet but I looked like a track star getting into the house to Uncle Bud. After all, I didn’t have to be faster than the witch but just faster than my brother Jim. I remember crying and being scared out of several year’s growth (that’s why I’m so short now) but I have been told that I wouldn’t hush until Uncle Bud spanked Aunt Vicki, and I mean for punishment. They still get a good laugh out of it 50 years later and I can still remember how scared I was 50 years later.

The sad part is that now in the modern church, we have started canceling Wednesday night services to give out candy. I can understand giving kids an alternative to the world and the devil but why do we have to do it on prayer meeting night? We have kept a lot of pagan traditions as well. Celebrating the dead and dressing like them just to name a couple.

I enjoyed Halloween as a kid but it was a lot different than it is now. Back then we could roam the entire village and come home with a paper grocery bag full of candy. Even then we were cautious about fruit and opened items but it was only because of stuff on the news from other places in the country. Stuff we thought would never happen here. Now we are in a day when kids can’t even go without parents and now can only go to relatives or people they know fairly well.

I read of a story in Vernon, NY where a mother was going through her 4-year-old kid’s bag of candy and found a sewing needle cleverly hidden inside a piece of licorice that was still in the pack. It had been inserted literally through a pinhole in the end of the pack. For years now, the city of Detroit, Michigan has had to deal with rampant vandalism and multiple arson fires throughout the city. It is so bad that it has come to be called “Hell Night.”

We constantly read about perverts following women and children through local stores and even into public restrooms. It is a regular occurrence to have child abductions and sex trafficking and assaults and murders and now it isn’t far off somewhere else but in our yard. We live in a day when folks no longer have a conscience or place any value on human life much less have a fear of the Lord.

I am not trying to be critical of anyone or mess up any plans you may have. I would, however, encourage you to be vigilant regardless of what activities you may have planned. I wrote once about how that we have come a long way backward in our society and Halloween is just one more example of it. Just like prayer in schools, removal of southern monuments, removal of everything pertaining to God from public property, the murder of unborn babies in the womb, child abuse, assault on females, and a million other things, Halloween has become what we have allowed it to become.

I know this hasn’t been very encouraging but it is very true. The one thing that is encouraging is what Jesus said in Luke 21:2 “And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.”(KJV) It won’t be long until all of this trouble and the devil will be left behind and Jesus will return for those who are watching and waiting and are prepared to meet him. Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!

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