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It Doesn’t Make Sense!

Sometimes it’s hard to make sense of life. A terrorist plows a truck down a pedestrian lane in New York killing at least eight people. It doesn’t make sense.

I heard yesterday of the tragic death of a young father in a four-wheeling accident, leaving his wife, two-year old son, and newborn behind. It doesn’t make sense.

On the same day, I was told of a horrific farming accident that nearly claimed the life of a mother of one of our church members. It doesn’t make sense.

It doesn’t make sense when a husband walks out on his wife and children. It doesn’t make sense when someone takes his or her own life. It doesn’t make sense when a perfectly sane individual decides to steal from his company and winds up going to jail.

Without question, there are causes to these events. An ISIS extremist who becomes so warped in his pseudo-religious zeal that evil is morphed into good. Accidents that happen due to the laws of gravity, speed, and miscalculations. Hearts that grow cold and turn from love and loyalty to dishonor and disgrace.

Causes bring explanation, but they don’t make sense. Sense is to grasp the meaning of, to be reasonable or comprehensible. Explanations flow from facts. Meaning flows from purpose.

And herein lies an important distinction. Facts do not always reveal meaning. They reveal what happened, but they don’t bring meaning. Meaning comes from a higher source, an awareness of something greater than mere facts. Without any framework for evil in the world, terror can be explained by facts, but facts are interpreted and given meaning by one’s worldview.

To the follower of ISIS, the actions of suspected terrorist Sayfullo Saipov should be celebrated. To the rest of the world those actions are condemned. Same facts, but different meaning. “Sense” then comes from a higher plane of transcendent determination of truth, goodness and evil.

The reason we have a hard time of making sense of tragedy, accidents, and failures is because we have a “sense” that these events are not the way things are supposed to be. We have a higher understanding of a world of goodness gone bad, and we long for our return to Eden. As C. S. Lewis wrote, we hear “echoes of Eden” which stir our desires for “a better country, that is, a heavenly one” (Hebrews 11:16).

Until then, we comfort one another, and we live this life to the full with expectant hearts of what lies beyond the horizon. When tragedy strikes, we remind ourselves that the events of this world, though explainable, will one day be overshadowed by the meaning of the world to come.

“For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18).

Posted by Rick Grover, Lead Pastor with

Should Christians Celebrate Halloween?

Halloween… the holiday loved by children (and dentists), tolerated by most adults, and deplored by some Christians. As a pastor I get asked almost every year around this time, “Should Christians celebrate Halloween?”

In fact, I’ve been asked so many times that I actually wrote a sermon about it; but what I discovered after preaching it was that it only affirmed the view of some and ticked off the rest. I guess that happens with preaching.

Likewise, in about two minutes—should you continue reading—you will either be affirmed in your position or in your speculation that I’m a heretic. I guess that happens with writing, too.

Let me give you a hint of where I’m going with this, so you can stop reading if you so desire and go do something a little more productive. Hint: Our church just held a “Trunk or Treat” event for our community this past Saturday.

You may think I am unaware of the history of Halloween. But I’m not. I’m aware that Halloween has pagan roots in ancient Celtic harvest festivals, particularly the Gaelic festival called Samhain. Thus, it is still celebrated as the high day in the calendar year for Wiccans and other religious cults originating from paganism.

I’m also aware that this festival was Christianized and called “Hallowe’en” or “All Hallows’ Eve” as the night before “All Hallows’ Day” which is a remembrance and celebration of those who have gone before, especially the saints (hallows), martyrs, and the faithfully departed.

The pivotal question is: If you participate in Halloween, does that mean you are supporting its pagan roots? My answer to that is, “Well, it depends.” If in your mind, you cannot separate current activities from historic realities, then you should be a “conscientious objector.” If children dressing up in costumes and saying, “Trick or treat” crosses a line for you, then I encourage you to keep your lights turned off and pretend like you’re not home. If this is the conclusion you draw, here’s the only thing I ask: Don’t equate your conviction with the core of the Gospel. Don’t turn your opinion into a spiritual law that must be upheld by everyone.

Whether the issue is Halloween, eating meat, drinking alcohol, or honoring the Sabbath, we would do well to heed the words of Paul, “Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him” (Romans 14:3).

The path I have chosen is to be in the world but not of it. I don’t participate in any forms, signs, or activities of evil or spiritual darkness. But I do use Halloween as a way to connect with my neighbors and let them know that I am for them, and, more importantly, God is for them. That is why our church hosted Trunk or Treat for our community. Of the 4,200 people who came, 1,700 of them indicated they have no church home, and over 100 families told us they wanted to learn more about our church. Not a bad night, if you ask me. If God can redeem an ancient pagan festival by making it a hallowed evening to remember those who’ve gone before us, we can redeem cavity producing candy by building some bridges and helping people take their next steps with Jesus.

Posted by Rick Grover, Lead Pastor with

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