The Riches of Peace ~ Jesus Calling: February 25-March 3

I realized recently that I spend a great deal of time walking circles around my house, trying to figure out the next thing I need to do, trying to plan ahead to save time, trying to remember something that I’m sure I’ve forgotten. Basically, trying to figure out the future. And this is not a peaceful place to be.

The author of Jesus Calling tells us that trying to figure out the future is grasping at things that belong to God. The “secret things” — and this, like all forms of worry, is an act of rebellion. Doubting God’s promise that He will care for us. “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.” (Deuteronomy 29:29)

In short, we should repent about worrying about the future. Jesus tells us very clearly, “Do not be anxious about your life…” (Luke 12:22) What do we think is going to happen? Do we really believe that at some point God will show us the future? If He did, what would be our need for Him? God is not in the business of showing us the future, but He is in the business of guiding us step by step and opening up the way before us as we go. “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.” (Psalm 32:8)

God is fully aware of all aspects of our situation. We don’t need to “carry tomorrow’s burdens today” — we need to discipline ourselves to live within the boundaries of today. Receive the peace of knowing that God walks with us in the present moment, helping us to carry the burdens of the present moment. “I am continually with you; you hold my right hand.” (Psalm 73:23) Do you doubt that God has you on the right path? Receive the peace of knowing that when Jesus gave the command “You follow me!” (John 21:22) that He also promised to be a lamp to our feet and a light to our path (Psalm 119:105).

The riches of God’s peace are the abundant joy and life that we receive by restoring our focus on Jesus and simply trusting. “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” (Isaiah 26:3) Be bold enough to refuse to worry. Instead, bring the riches of the Peace of Jesus into your life: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (I Thessalonians 5:16-18)

Rejoice in the riches of peace.

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Practicing Peace ~ Jesus Calling: February 11-24

How do we “practice” peace?

In a previous post, I described the practice of thankfulness as being a discipline in one’s life. And as with any discipline, you only become more familiar with what you are practicing the more that you practice. As with thankfulness, I believe that practicing peace will not only bring Jesus into our daily lives, but it will also bring us closer to the mind of God.

The first element of practicing peace is believing that Jesus is who He says He is. There was much told to us about Jesus long before He was born — 700 years before the birth of Christ, Isaiah prophesied that “a virgin will conceive and bear a son, and he will be called Immanuel (Isaiah 7:14) and “…his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6) The exact meaning of Immanuel — God With Us — was then shared by the angel who appeared to Jesus’ earthly father, Joseph, in a dream to comfort and encourage him as well as remind him that Isaiah’s prophecy would be fulfilled (Matthew 1:20-23).

When we practice peace, we must understand that peace is not something that can be attained by delving more and more into ourselves, but by delving more and more into the person of Jesus. In the man of Jesus we not only have God With Us, but also the Prince of Peace and the source of all peace. “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” (John 14:27) We can dwell in this Peace, we can clothe ourselves in this Peace, we can abide and rest in this Peace. 

The second element of practicing peace is understanding that our thoughts are precious to God. We have to believe that He has an interest in how we choose to go about our day in terms of where our thoughts lead. Not only must we “take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5) but we must also trust that the Holy Spirit that lives within us will help us to think the thoughts of God. Practicing peace means choosing to spend our time focusing on God’s presence — a choice that we may need to make thousands of times each day — instead of choosing to focus on our problems and limitations.

Practicing peace means abandoning yourself to His will, tackling fear, and relinquishing control. Facing problems as they come instead of anticipating them. Exercising trust and being thankful in all circumstances. Focusing on what He is already doing in your life instead of striving to imagine what you wish He would do. Laying our weaknesses before Him with the assurance that He knows us intimately and that he accepts us completely.

I know, it sounds difficult if not impossible. But we take courage in God’s abundant promises: If you are in Christ you are a new creation — the old has passed away and the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17). Not only is nothing impossible with God (Luke 1:37), but He is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think (Ephesians 3:20-21). And, thankfully, His grace is sufficient for us and, mercifully, His power is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Friends, enjoy the practice of peace.

Whispering His Name ~ Jesus Calling: January 21-27, 2013

So much of the Christian life is learning to let go. We are always hanging on to things, people, circumstances, habits — even if we know that these things hinder us from having true peace. In many ways we are dependent on (or even addicted to) these things because they make us feel a certain way, even if that feeling is negative. Reinforcement isn’t always positive.

I think the key to all of this is learning that letting go means living in the present and not the past. We hang on to feelings that do not serve us in the present moment, which is where God desires for us to exist. In the present moment, God can begin to wean us from these dependencies and effectively bring us into His living, vibrant, and eternal presence. “The eternal God is your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms.” (Deuteronomy 33:27)

Starting in the present moment means accepting things exactly as they are, here and now. Not how they were in the past or may be in the future — not how you wish they would have been or would like for them to be. I’m not saying this is easy. Accepting the here and now can cause a great deal of anxiety and can lead us to focus on problems instead of hope. As the author of Jesus Calling says, give up the illusion that you deserve a problem-free life! Jesus promised “in this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

Jesus is not asking us to create different circumstances in our lives. He asks us to have the right response to the circumstances He has given us. When we glorify God in the midst of adverse circumstances, the world is in disbelief. We are given countless ways to gain the world’s peace — the self-help sections of bookstores are overflowing — but have you ever noticed that the self-help books continue to be written while the message of God stays the same? “Neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:39) The source of our peace is knowing that His peace never changes, regardless of our circumstances.

How can we live in the here and now? The author of Jesus Calling encourages us to make a practice of “whispering” the name of Jesus. I love this idea because it accomplishes, in a very simple way, a return of our focus back to a single point: Jesus, the One who never changes. Whispering His name in the midst of chaos and anxiety can calm the storm with the same power that Jesus used to calm the furious squall: “He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Quiet! Be still!’ Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.” (Mark 4:39) Whispering the name of Jesus generates peace and enables us to develop “a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” (I Peter 3:4)

Practice whispering the name of Jesus today. Let the sound of His name on your lips remind you of His promise and perfection.

 

Fully Understood ~ Jesus Calling: January 14-20

We all have a deep desire to be fully understood by the people we love. This is our life search — understanding from our parents, our spouse, our children. We pursue this understanding relentlessly, forgetting that we are already fully understood by Jesus. The Lord ensured Samuel that “The LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.” (I Samuel 16:7). When we are in the middle of sadness, we are sure our hearts are empty and no one can understand our despair. Is it possible to rest in knowing that Jesus looks on your heart, sees you, and offers you the peace of being fully understood? As the author of Jesus Calling says, “Do not be ashamed of your emptiness.” You are a vessel waiting to be filled.

We are offered “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding.” (Philippians 4:7) Jesus is this Peace, offered to us moment by moment. We spend so much of our time rehearsing our troubles and multiplying our suffering. Our human nature propels us to try to figure out what will happen next, how we can prepare, how we can avoid trouble. Our first parents desired this knowledge and it led to the fall of humanity. It was then that the Enemy promised the first and greatest lie: “…your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:5) The peace that God offered to our first parents — the peace of simply being in His presence and being fully understood — was the peace that we rejected then and continue to reject today.

God promises that “you will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13) Seeking His peace moment by moment is probably one of the most difficult things we can do. But we can do it, knowing that we are fully saturated in His grace and fully understood.

The Discipline of Thankfulness ~ Jesus Calling: January 7-13, 2013

Thankfulness. Help. Trust.

Have you ever considered thankfulness as an act of discipline in your life? We tend to think of thankfulness as an emotion that arises when things are going well, when something great has happened, when we feel a prayer has been answered, and we break out in spontaneous praises of thankfulness to God. But what about the times of struggle? Disappointment? Loneliness? Depression? Self-pity? Are we praising God during these times as well? God asks us to develop a discipline of thankfulness in our lives — thankfulness as an act of will.  We do all kinds of things in our lives as an act of will — we go to work each day, we exercise, we pay the bills, we buy the groceries, and…we give thanks?

God wants us to give thanks in all circumstances, for this is His will in Christ Jesus (I Thessalonians 5:18). He ensures us that He is our refuge and strength, an ever-present Help in trouble (Psalm 46:1), giving us reason to then rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, and be constant in prayer (Romans 12:12). In other words, at the very moment that you don’t feel you have any reason to be thankful, get down on your knees and praise the One who says that “nothing will be impossible with God.” (Luke 1:37)

As with any discipline, you only become more familiar with what you are practicing the more that you practice. Any athlete, dancer, artist, or yoga practitioner can tell you this. But as Christians, we have a promise that goes along with the discipline of thankfulness — we are promised the presence of God! As we draw near to God in the discipline of thankfulness, He draws near to us because He literally inhabits our praises (“Yet you are holy, dwelling in the praises of Israel” [Psalm 22:3]).

Thankfulness is an investment in our relationship with God. This is the investment that Jesus was referring to when he told us to “lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:20-21) We respond to His presence with praise and thankfulness, the relationship is strengthened, trust is gained, and we deepen our familiarity with our Creator.

Jesus Calling: January 1-6, 2013

As I move into 2013, I find myself seeking and anticipating a time of renewal. My daughter is finally getting to an age where I don’t feel that she demands all of my attention and I can return to some of the things in my life that have been put on the back burner. One of the tools of renewal is the Word of God, and I love that Jesus Calling begins with the encouragement “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind…” (Romans 12:2) We cannot truly have a renewal of the mind without regular time spent in the Presence of Jesus.

A consistent theme in the first week of Jesus Calling is the presence of God. Throughout the week, the author chooses beautiful phrases and scriptural references to remind us about the attentiveness of His presence, His healing presence, the light of His presence, the peace of His presence, and His universal presence. It is one thing to understand that Jesus said He will never leave us or forsake us. But do you also realize that this means His presence is constantly with you? That in the here and now He is fully and universally attentive to you?

Don’t get me wrong — this is not an “all about me” idea. Many believers make the mistake that everything Jesus did and said was all about them and now they just need to figure out how to squeeze the blessings out of this salvation thing. Wrong. Everything that Jesus did and said was because He was carrying out His father’s plan to reconcile the world to Himself. We are part of that plan. God has desired relationship with His creation (including us) from the beginning, but it took the sacrifice of Jesus to bring that relationship back to fullness.

Relationship requires the presence of both individuals. As many people in broken relationships know, it doesn’t work if only one person is present. Jesus offers us His constant presence and in return He asks us for our attentiveness to that presence. He asks for trust, deep dependence, and profound reliance. His presence is our constant companion and place of refuge. The author of Jesus Calling encourages us to hide in the secret of His presence, knowing that we are in the Presence of the One “who can do infinitely more than all we can ask or imagine…” (Ephesians 3:20)

Enter into His presence today.

Follow-up thoughts on head coverings…

I feel blessed to have a pastor who occasionally visits my blog! Mike recently read my post on head coverings and I Corinthians 11. I thought he had really good feedback and caused me to think about some new aspects of the issue. For example, I now feel more comfortable viewing my long hair as a covering and may choose to wrap my hair up on my head if I don’t feel like wearing my scarf (although I love my scarf – lovely light blue embroidered silk from Vietnam). I definitely agree that the focus is on a woman developing a submissive spirit and the demeanor of servanthood.

Here is some of what he had to say:

I am so grateful that it is your heart’s desire to submit yourself to all that the Lord has in His Word…. that being said the idea of the head covering has been read in a few different ways (you may know the discussion).  The covering of the head and the length of the hair seems to me to have been invariably tied together as referenced by the “cutting off of the hair” comments for a woman who prays or prophesies without a covering.  V. 15 goes so far as to say that the long hair is given the woman “as a covering.”

Therefore, my best reading of the text is that the “covering of the head” was a reference to the way in which the hair would be wrapped back over the top of the head as a certain kind of covering.  A couple of examples of this kind of impropriety that was perceived to accompany a “nonsubmissive woman” might be the woman in Numbers 5:18 who has her hair “loosened” as part of the test of her fidelity to her husband as well as what was culturally perceived to be the scandalous activity of the “woman with a sinful past” in Luke 7 who “let down her hair” and wiped Jesus’ feet with her hair and tears.

I think the point for me is that there is a universal principle of a submissive spirit that is a beautiful thing for women in light of God’s economy of servanthood, being highly cherished in a community where sin is truly put off and greatness reserved for those who love and cherish servanthood and submission.  That being said, in our world these days, … there are very few, if any, cultural markers that actually work to indicate this sort of beauty.  In our day, the broader culture just doesn’t understand the value of submission from a Kingdom perspective.  In  a word, wearing the hair in a certain way does nothing more than communicate “hairstyle,” unlike the 1st century world.  It seems to me the very closest equivalent to a “submissive spirit” for our day must be primarily demeanor-driven.  I wish it were more concrete than that; however, I find the pluralistic world in which we live and the confluence of the multiple symbols and icons that convey multiple meanings to us in our day make it very difficult for us to ask women of Christ to: 1) wear their hair in a certain way or 2) if one concludes this to be some sort of covering (which I don’t), to wear a covering as a mark of obedience to the text of 1Cor. 11.

Head Coverings Links

Thanks to the Those Headcoverings blog for linking to my most recent post. Those Headcoverings is a blog discussing headcoverings of all kinds: Christian, Jewish, Islamic, and nonreligious. For those interested, there is also a link on that blog to the Called to Cover webring for Christian women who have felt the Holy Spirit’s leading to cover their head.

As women created in His image, may we continue to be led by the Holy Spirit in all that we do!

Head Coverings: Taking I Corinthians 11 Seriously

For those who have known me for awhile, this may be a surprise…

I have recently started covering my head during prayer at church.

This decision came after looking closely at Scripture, a lot of prayer, and many discussions with my husband. I feel like writing about this because I am interested in what other women have to say – women who are already covering their heads, women who would never even consider covering their heads, and women who are just interested in engaging in the conversation with me.

I should preface by saying that I grew up in a family with a very strong “female” presence and I learned feminism from my mother. She grew up in the 1950s, got married and had children early, and looked on as women across the country burned their bras, marched for the Equal Rights Amendment, and fought for reproductive choice. I know that she has always wondered what her life would have been like if she would have grown up in a big city, gone to college, and been part of the feminist movement. But in her own small way she instilled feminist ideals in me. I remained a feminist activist well into adulthood, taking classes in Women’s Studies in college, marching for choice, working for Planned Parenthood, etc. But things have slowly been changing since my relationship with Christ was reconciled about 8 years ago.

I believe that there is the world’s definition of feminism, and there is God’s definition of feminism. I believe that if we claim that God’s word contains everything we need to know about living in this world according to God’s will and God’s design, then He has everything to say about who women are, our nature, our role and place in the world, and how He plans to bless us as His unique creatures. But that’s the subject of another post…

What does I Corinthians 11 have to say about women covering their heads? It says this:

(3) But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.
(4) Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head, (5) but every wife who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, since it is the same as if her head were shaven.
(6) For if a wife will not cover her head, then she should cut her hair short. But since it is disgraceful for a wife to cut off her hair or shave her head, let her cover her head.
(7) For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man.
(8) For man was not made from woman, but woman from man.
(9) Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man.
(10) That is why a wife ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels.
(11) Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman; (12) for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God.
(13) Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a wife to pray to God with her head uncovered? (14) Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears long hair it is a disgrace for him, (15) but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For her hair is given to her for a covering.

The Greek word for “head” used in all of these verses is kephale, literally meaning a person or animal’s head and metaphorically meaning anything supreme, chief, or prominent (a husband in relation to his wife; Christ as Lord of the husband and the church). (Thayer’s)  God is the head of Christ, Christ is the head of man, and the husband is the head of the wife. The Greek word for “cover” is katakalupto, meaning to cover up or to veil or cover oneself wholly. (Thayer’s)

Men should not cover their heads, since they are the image and glory of God and covering their heads would dishonor the One who is supreme over them (God). Women are called upon to cover their heads because they are under the authority of man, and to have their heads uncovered would dishonor the one who is supreme over them (husband). The head covering is the symbol of this authority.

So why am I choosing to cover my head during prayer? I believe that no part of God’s Word is void of meaning or significance. I don’t believe that this part of the Word is simply “cultural” or has been over-ruled by the modern feminist movement. I believe that there is blessing in this practice.

Will I forever continue to cover my head during prayer? Not sure yet. But I am confident of this: God is aware of what we do and the intention of our hearts. My only goal is to learn more about Him and thereby learn more about myself as a woman created in his image. I hope that by choosing to walk with God in a certain manner, even for a season, I will receive His blessing and experience His majesty.

“Dealing With the Easter Dilemma”

David and I are big fans of Chuck Missler, author and founder of Koinonia House. His thoughts on Easter (below) should challenge all Christians to closely examine the way we choose to celebrate this holiday and to be sure that our manner of celebration does not cause our brothers to stumble. (Also check out his super-interesting article “What Really Happened at “Easter”?)

May we rejoice in the resurrection of our Savior!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Easter Season is here, complete with baskets and cellophane grass and chocolate bunnies in every store. While we enjoy the chocolate bunnies and malted eggs, it’s pretty obvious that cellophane grass has absolutely nothing to do with the Resurrection of our Lord. This time of year brings with it the annual uncomfortable question; what should we – as Christians – celebrate?

The term “Easter” itself alludes to the pagan roots of the holiday. The name comes from the Babylonian goddess, Ishtar (also, Astarte). It was the pagan preoccupation with fertility that linked rabbits’ rapid breeding with the golden egg of Astarte. Passover, and therefore the Resurrection of Jesus, occur in the springtime. As Christianity spread, the celebration that Christ had conquered death came neatly at a time when the pagan world was celebrating the renewal of nature after the death of winter. And so, today we have Easter egg hunts at churches across America on Resurrection Sunday.

Is that good? Should we, as Christians, allow remnants of pagan celebrations into our celebration of Christ? For those who understand that Easter’s fuzzy bunnies are really the residue of ancient Babylonian fertility religions, there seems to be two choices.

1. Reject Easter Traditions: Some Christians separate themselves from the remnants of those old fertility religions. They remember Christ’s Resurrection and forgo all the chocolate and hard boiled eggs. They may even celebrate Passover, and Jesus as the Passover Lamb. They rejoice that he was raised again as the Firstborn from the dead (Col 1:18) on Sunday, the Feast of Firstfruits.

2: Make Use Of Easter Traditions: Some Christians, on the other hand, see the Easter traditions as another opportunity to spread the Gospel and use the eggs as teaching tools.  Some take 12 plastic eggs, for example, and fill each one with one object from the story of Jesus’ betrayal and death and his raising from the dead. The eggs contain things like coins, a sponge, nails, and a cross while the last one is empty, representing the empty tomb. Other people dye eggs, using each color to symbolize a different aspect of Christ’s death and resurrection (red stands for his blood, etc). There are dozens of ways that Sunday School teachers and parents have incorporated the current Easter traditions into the celebration of Jesus Christ’s resurrection.

Which is the better way?

We do not face this issue only at Easter. Most Christian holidays have leftover pagan traditions mixed into their celebrations. Do we stop giving out Valentines because boys and girls paired up for the (loosely connected) Roman festival of Lupercalia? Do we stop hanging mistletoe because it was once a part of fertility rights – or throw out Christmas altogether because the Romans celebrated Saturnalia in late December? Are those things unholy because they were once connected to paganism? Or can we use them as opportunities to spread the Gospel to our secular culture? How do we deal with these things according to the Word of God?

To The Jews First:
God gave Israel a law and a sacrificial system that would help them understand how the death of the Messiah could pay for sins. He gave them the Passover so they could understand that the blood of the Lamb would protect them from the wrath of God. God gave Israel feasts that stood as prophetic symbols, as types, of His plan for redemption. The Jews were primed to understand the purpose and mission of the Messiah, and while the eyes of many were blinded for a time, Jesus clearly stated that he came to the lost sheep of the House of Israel (Matt. 15:24).

Yet, Jesus came to save the whole world. The Gospel was for the Jews first, but also for the Gentiles according to the Scriptures (Isaiah 49:6, Acts 10:45, Rom. 1:16). The purpose of Israel was to be a light that shined the truth of God to all peoples.

And Also to the Gentiles:
When evangelists in the Early Church went out to preach to the world, though, the pagan nations did not have the same background that the Jews had. They had sacrificial systems as well, but without the precious subtleties provided by the Law. They did not have the same feasts and laws to give them a cultural understanding of the messages they were being given. The missionaries had to find ways within the existing pagan cultures to help the gentiles appreciate who Jesus was. St. Patrick in Ireland was not alone. Many early Church evangelists incorporated Christian teachings into existing celebrations, “Christianizing” those traditions.

Whether that was a good or bad thing has long been the subject of debate.  Some argue that those celebrations are not in the Bible and that mixing Christian beliefs with pagan traditions is at best distracting and is at worst a form of bowing the knee to those false gods.

“Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,” (2 Cor. 6:17)

Others argue that Christianity has sanctified those celebrations, making the unholy holy.

“Unto the pure all things are pure:” (Titus 1:15)

Paul and Plato:
The Apostle Paul, sent by God to minister to the gentiles, believed in making the most of every opportunity (1 Cor. 9:18-23). Paul is famous for his use of Greek culture to get ideas across to his Greek audience. He constantly makes allusions to Plato with statements like, “…which are a shadow of things to come,” (Col. 2:17) and “For now we see through a glass, darkly,” (1 Cor. 13:10). Do Paul’s frequent allusions to Plato indicate that Plato himself was inspired by God? No. Rather, Paul made use of Plato because his Greek audience understood Plato, and he could use Plato’s ideas as tools to help gentile minds understand the truth about our lives in Jesus Christ.

Was he right to do this? Didn’t he run the risk of making people think he was legitimizing the many unbiblical ideas Plato had? That’s a good question.

Yet, Jesus appears to have done the exact same thing. Jesus makes a puzzling statement in Acts when he knocks Paul (still “Saul” at that time) off his donkey on the road to Damascus. He says, “I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks,” (Acts 9:5).

“Kick against the pricks” is a phrase used multiple times in Greek plays, including in Prometheus Bound by Aeschylus, and The Bacchae by Euripides. In both cases it has to do with a mortal’s stubborn defiance. In The Bacchae, the mortal Pentheus has the god Dionysus bound, refusing to believe that he’s a god. Dionysus tells Pentheus, “Better to yield [me] prayer and sacrifice than kick against the pricks…”

Does this reference mean that Jesus himself was anything like the god Dionysus? Of course not. It also does not indicate that Paul would suffer Pentheus’ fate of being torn apart by wild women   Yet, the idiom would have instant meaning for Saul of Tarsus with his education in Greek literature.   It would also have had meaning to those in the Greek culture to whom Paul told his conversion story.

Tripping Our Brothers:
What do we do today? Hunting Easter eggs hardly makes children think of Babylonian fertility goddesses, and there is nothing intrinsically evil in eggs or chocolate rabbits. At the same time, we do have knowledge of the Feasts of Israel, the original celebrations meant to point the way to Christ. How should we behave?

Here is what Paul says on the matter. “I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean,” (Romans 14:14).

If you believe it is wrong to give your children Easter baskets, then it is wrong for you to do so. If, however, you are fully persuaded in your conscience that it’s harmless fun, then rejoice in your liberty. Paul says about these sorts of things, “Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind,” (Romans 14:5).

And yet, we have a responsibility to not cause our brothers to stumble. “But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock…” (1 Cor. 8:9, 11).

We should do nothing that could harm our fellow Christians or cause them to do something against their own consciences. We need to do everything we do with the heart of Christ, with love, and not out of pride or selfishness or judgmentalism. After all, the whole point of any Christian celebration is to bring glory to God. Let’s make sure every decision we make it focused on that goal.  [And if we can enjoy some chocolate at the same time, then may God be glorified in that as well!]