Trick or Treat! Are you Ready?

“Prior to October 31, in the western world, with great eagerness, shops, entertainment centers, restaurants, shopping centers and even schools are getting ready to celebrate appropriately the so-called Halloween.”

 

20161030_131414A few hours before the big celebration, where the renowned phrase “Trick or Treat?” has especially captivated thousands of children, precisely millions of children, adolescents and adults in several countries around the world are getting ready to celebrate, “innocently”, the “party of death.”

And I will not delve into the historical part and the origin of this celebration, because it has already been sufficiently researched and written about it. In fact, at the bottom of this article, I put into consideration a couple of resources for those interested in learning more in detail about this “innocent celebration.”

Prior to October 31, in the western world, with great eagerness, shops, entertainment centers, restaurants, shopping centers and even schools are getting ready to celebrate “appropriately” the so-called Halloween.
Then I wonder and I extend this question to all my readers, Is Halloween a party that we must celebrate, especially if we identify ourselves as followers of Christ or clearly, as Christians?

And to answer this, one must know its story (below / suggested resources) and analyze it from the perspective of the Bible.

For this purpose, I will briefly share at least three important aspects:

1. Halloween, a commercial party
In October 2015, Money reported that Americans spent USD 6.9 billion in

Halloween, an innocent party?

Halloween, an innocent party?

total on Halloween parties.[1] All this amount includes candy, costumes for children and adults, even pet costumes.

Perhaps as Christians, should not we think more responsibly in the “stewardship of the resources we have”? How is it possible that we waste so much money on irrelevant activities like these? Should not we invest all this money on more important causes and for instance, more aligned with our social responsibility?

We must not forget that we are all simple stewards of the resources and assets that God has given us while we are in this world.

Now, do not get me wrong! We all have the right to have fun and enjoy with family and friends. But, knowing the origin of this celebration, do you think it is wise to pursue and follow these customs?

2. Halloween –or party of death, a pagan celebration
20161030_132844According to an article published in History.com, “Halloween’s origins date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain. Celts believed that on the night before the new year [November 1], the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31 they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. In addition to causing trouble and damaging crops, Celts thought that the presence of the otherworldly spirits made it easier for the Druids, or Celtic priests, to make predictions about the future.” [2]

Against this, what does the Scripture tell us?, 10 “Let no one be found among you who sacrifices their son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, 11 or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. 12 Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD…” (Deuteronomy 18:10 -12)

If the origins of Halloween promote pagan customs like these and clearly enters the spiritual side of darkness, Should Christians participate in such celebrations? I believe that the Scripture is self-explanatory.

3. A celebration innocently dangerous and diabolic

October 31 is not only a customs, masks and sweets celebration, it is

Let us protect our children!

Let us protect our children!

tragically a celebration of diabolic rituals during which, animals and even children are sacrificed. These days I became acquainted with the testimony of Beth, who through her blog bravely confesses, “I cannot even say how many Halloweens I was forced to be involved in rituals on Halloween… I don’t think any person can truly fathom the reality and the evil of a satanic ritual…”[3]

If such actions are the outcome of the so popular Halloween each year, do we still want to participate in this “innocent party”? God, our creator, specifically tells us in His Word, 11 “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. (Ephesians 5:11).
And this is exactly what this blog intends to do -to expose the works of the biggest enemy of soul of the human beings, Satan. Certainly, the thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; but Jesus has come so we all may have life and life to the full.” (John 10:10).

Therefore, I invite you all to analyze more deeply this issue and decide for yourselves whether it is right that as followers of Jesus or clearly Christians, we should play along the game of “trick or treat” and be or not part of this dark celebration disguised as light and color.

“And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light.”       (2 Corinthians 11:14)

Recommended Sources:

. Passion for Truth /  Should Christians celebrate any version of Halloween?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AJtXWUPVwtY&list=PL17h3jSzhSTPid1w6lAi-cLD5cV_Tkike

Sources:

(1)  http://time.com/money/4069887/halloween-spending-costumes-candy/

(2) http://www.history.com/topics/halloween/history-of-halloween

(3) http://www.theothersideofdarkness.com/i-was-abused-in-a-satanic-halloween-ritual/

 

 

Greatness Starts with Small Beginnings

“Our sincere words and our honest attitudes will impact the life of a child forever.”

 

Throughout my journeys, this principle has become a reality. And in my encounter with the youngest children of various communities, I have been able to testify that wit, intelligence and creativity are a natural part of the human being, regardless of their ethnic group or origin.

Dany dusted off an old camera and started to dream of the magic world of photography!

Dany dusted off an old camera and started to dream of the magic world of photography!

Sometimes having a conversation with a child can often be more difficult than with an adult. That eagerness to learn more through countless questions – some are difficult to answer, by the way – is what allows children to expand their world, to grow, to develop an extraordinary intellect.

Of course, as we know, not all the children have these opportunities, many of them are limited and they come across major hurdles that hinder them to thrive in their learning and eventually become adults with great skills.

The environment of poverty and extreme poverty in which many children live around the world, is the biggest obstacle they face. An environment that represents not only the lack of financial resources and all that it entails, but especially the lack of a healthy and motivating atmosphere, an atmosphere that may push them to grow and explore a wider world, full of opportunities, the opportunities that their parents certainly, did not have.

However, and although this reality is the mark of countless communities, it is so rewarding to come

This little girl´s curiosity will surely help her to make her dreams come true

This little girl´s curiosity will surely help her to make her dreams come true

across little kids whose wit, intelligence and creativity still has much potential, which fortunately, has not yet been cut short. Yes! A lot of potential, for those who have the chance to interact with them and their families, we are instruments of transformation and we contribute, so that one day they will reach their full potential and make evident their greatness that already exists in them.

How? Very easy! Our sincere words and our honest attitudes will impact the life of a child forever. Wess Stafford, former CEO of Compassion International, states it this way: “The spirit of a little child is a lot like wet cement. When a child is young it takes little effort to make an impression that can last a lifetime.”

Sebas, a rebellious boy for some; for me, a clever boy who needs guidance and motivation in life

Sebas, a rebellious boy for some; for me, a clever boy who needs guidance and motivation in life

 

 

Let us remember! Our tongue has the power of life and death, to build and destroy… let us use it to sow life, and life in abundance. The next time you find a child, regardless of either their origin or their condition, speak to them words of life and encourage them to pursue their dreams through hard work, with honesty and passion. There is surely greatness in the heart of every little child!

 

 

Photography:  Cecilia Yépez & courtesy of Tim Neeves.

With Wings to Fly [Con alas pa´ volar]

“We all have a new opportunity. A healthy family represents a healthy nation.”

Katherine Palma & Fabio Nieves, protagonists

Katherine Palma & Fabio Nieves, protagonists

 

“Love never fails” is the phrase that identifies the contents of the new Ecuadorian film production “With Wings to Fly” [Con alas pa´ volar].

A dream come true is what the creators of this dramatic comedy genre work feel. After two years of hard work, Executive Producer Byron Liger and Director Alex Jácome along with a select group of producers and actors are now sharing with the Ecuadorian community this feature film, whose main purpose is to reach the heart of families, especially those who are experiencing such critical situations as separation or even divorce and as a consequence, their children are the ones who suffer most.

Current rates of divorce in the world are alarming. Just a few examples are 61% in Spain, 56% in Cuba, 53% in the United States, 27% in Panama, 20% in Ecuador and 36% in South Korea.[1] These rates are troubling and do not even take into account statistics regarding free unions which are also increasing. All of this is a reflection of a broken society and of families in which there is no commitment and where children suffer from a lack of emotional stability.

With the star participation of well-known Ecuadorian artists such as 11-year-old Felipe Centeno, Fabio

Arturo Allen & Alex Jácome - Premiere in Quito

Arturo Allen & Alex Jácome – Premiere in Quito

Nieves and Katherine Palma, and producer, scriptwriter and Mexican actor Arturo Allen plus a large group of Ecuadorian actors, the storyline of this film develops through the lens of 11-year-old Tito dealing with his parents’ separation. He desperately seeks refuge in his teacher, Mr. González, who does not hesitate to give him opportune advice. Nevertheless, in the imagination of this small boy, and as Arturo Allen who plays the part of Mr. González says, “He begins to twist what the teacher tells him and he starts getting crazy and mischievous ideas in order to try to keep his parents together.”

Amidst laughter, tears and suspense, the message of this film basically highlights three marvelous non-negotiable principles: love is not a feeling, it is necessary to forgive and know that God can restore a person, and especially that He can restore families. In Byron Liger’s view: “We all have a new opportunity. A healthy family represents a healthy nation.”

FB_IMG_1471480717003

 

“With Wings to Fly” [Con alas pa´ volar] will be released in Ecuador on August 19 nationwide. There is much expectation within the country, and that is not all. Its producers have an even greater dream of taking this feature film to the big screen of Latin American theaters and beyond. This is a film that entertains and will make you laugh and cry all at the same time, but most importantly, it is a film whose message will penetrate your heart no matter what your marital state is. “With Wings to Fly” [Con alas pa´ volar] is full of inspiration, hope and a promise of transformation.

 

 

Sources:

[1] http://records.com/countries-with-the-highest-divorce-rates

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Divorce_demography

Let´s get ready! _God is Speaking — [Towards Excellence]

By Anne Graham Lotz …Blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near. [Revelation 1:3] Do you long for revival? Not a tent meeting. Not a series of church meetings. But an outpouring of God’s Spirit that results in God’s people waking […]

a través de God is Speaking — Towards Excellence

God is Speaking

By Anne Graham Lotz

 

…Blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.

[Revelation 1:3]

 

Do you long for revival? Not a tent meeting. Not a series of church meetings.

But an outpouring of God’s Spirit that results in God’s people waking up…to God! I do! And as I have prayerfully pondered what more I can do to work for revival, God has reminded me of what took place in the beginning. Genesis 1 relates that God’s Spirit hovered over planet earth, preparing and energizing it to receive God’s Word. Then every day God’s Word went forth, a change took place, until in the end God blessed it, said it was very good, and saw His own image reflected there in man whom He had created.

What has impressed me is that from the beginning, God has used the combination of the preparation of the Spirit, which in application for us is prayer, and His Word to bring about change. For the last eighteen months, AnGeL Ministries has been calling people to prayer through various online initiatives such as 777: An Urgent Call to Prayer; Mayday! Mayday! A Distress Call for Prayer; and most recently, 111: PrePrayer for the New Year. And this May my new book, The Daniel Prayer, was released, which not only challenges people to pray as Daniel did, but helps to lead them in prayer that moves Heaven and changes nations. Now, after all of this preparation of the Spirit, I would like to see what would happen if together we listened to the Word of God.

In the Old Testament book of 2 Chronicles, when King Josiah rediscovered God’s Word and read it to the people, revival was the result. In Nehemiah 8, when God’s people returned to Jerusalem following their years of captivity in Babylon, Ezra read God’s Word to the people, and revival was the result. In Acts 2, after ten days of prayer in the upper room, the Spirit fell at Pentecost, Peter preached the Word, and 3000 people were saved!

In these days of chaos and confusion, hopelessness and helplessness, what would happen if everyone hit life’s pause button and made the time to listen to what God has to say? I want to find out.

So I am partnering with Faith Comes By Hearing in order to offer the audio of God’s Word in over 900 languages for one hour each day, for eight days, in the eighth month of August.

Please join me. Help pass the word to your family, friends, church, and online community. Catch the vision. Let’s not just long for revival. Let’s ignite revival!

God is speaking. Will you listen?

 

GodSpeaking(5x7)card_edited

 

Copyright © 2016 Anne Graham Lotz (AnGeL Ministries) Raleigh, North Carolina, USA. Used by permission. All rights reserved http://www.annegrahamlotz.org

 

Missions: Reaching out the World from Where You Are!

“This text [Acts 1:8] actually says that the thrust of mission is where people are they should have access to the Gospel.”

                                                                        Dr. Terry Casiño
TerryCasino-photo1Dr. Terry Casiño was born in the Philippines. He is a theologian, missiologist, educator, missions strategist, and catalyst for global diaspora missiology. He earned his Doctor of Theology (Systematic Theology & Philosophy of Religion) from Asia Baptist Graduate Theological Seminary in the Philippines and Doctor of Philosophy (Missiology & Contextualization) from ACTS, the international graduate school of Asia United Theological University in South Korea.

An international scholar, Dr. Casiño’s works have been published in the UK, South Korea, the Philippines, North America, India, and Australia.

He has served invariably as a minister, lecturer, conference speaker, missions consultant, or researcher across Asia, Europe, Africa, North America and Latin America.

-*-*-*-*-*-

The following is an excerpt of the Asomavisión TV interview with Dr. Terry Casiño. Courtesy of “De Sobremesa TV Program” and Pastor Pablo Gutiérrez, Producer / Interviewer [Quito, Ecuador].

 

What are your first thoughts about this biblical text (Acts 1:8)?

Acts 1:8 actually is very central to our theology of missions as Church. Because it was a text that was given to the disciples before Jesus ascended to heaven. And Jesus laid out a plan on how to change the world and how to spread the Gospel, using this text.

There are two things that I would like to share about this text.

The first is the scope of missions.

And Jesus said that it started in Jerusalem, then Judea and Samaria and the uttermost parts of the earth. So, mission in this particular text is basically universal. But this text does not talk about priority of mission.

Sometimes we think of Acts 1:8 as something that refers to priority in mission, but this text is not about priority. This text is about mission strategy.

In the original language, the word “ἔν τε” (en te) “both” in English, is crucial for understanding of this strategy. Because it actually says, “beginning both in Jerusalem, and Judea and Samaria.” So, the word “en te” is so important. It means simultaneous activities in Jerusalem and other parts of the world.

The second important thing about this text is the thrust of mission, the emphasis of mission.

Some church leaders, for example, would teach that for Acts 1:8 to be fulfilled, then we need to start this from Jerusalem and then move to Judea, and then move to Samaria and then to the uttermost parts of the Earth. But this text actually says that the thrust of mission is where people are they should have access to the Gospel.

In other words, it does not guarantee that if our Jerusalem Church is big that our vision for other nations will be big. Because when our Jerusalem Ministry sometimes gets bigger we get stuck within our Jerusalem and then we forget the other nations, the other people groups.

So, what this text is all about is very simple. That souls or individuals in Jerusalem are equally important with those who are outside Jerusalem, vice versa.

Why to begin in Jerusalem?

Well, Jerusalem is the hub for all this missionary work. Because if everyone goes out of Jerusalem, then there will be no one to support those who are going out.

So, there has to be a strong integration between ecclesiology -the doctrine of the Church-, as well as missiology, which is really the study and the practice of missional work.

And if I add one more…
The text says Jerusalem and all these geographical locations, right?

That is like linear… going in one direction. But today the nations have come to Jerusalem. They’re here in Quito [Ecuador]. The nations are here!

And because not every believer in Ecuador can go to the nations, so God sent the nations here. Then, it is important that we recognize the presence of the nations here, so that we can fulfill Acts 1:8.

You have done missions work in several parts of the world like Asia, Africa and in America, but let me ask you, what motivated you to get involved in missions?

I never thought of becoming an overseas missionary. Because I thought Filipinos, you know, are enough

Pastor Pablo Gutierrez interviews Dr. Terry Casiño. Translated by Cecilia Yepez [Asomavisión]

Pastor Pablo Gutierrez interviews Dr. Terry Casiño. Translated by Cecilia Yepez [De Sobremesa – Asomavisión]

for me. Plus Philippines is beautiful! Just like Ecuador!

But when I was 20 years old I attended a mission’s conference. And I was a very young pastor. It never done on me that there are people who need the Gospel outside my country.

It also never done on me that there are people who need the Gospel outside my own cultural community. But then God sent me to the mountain areas. So I served as a tribal missionary for some years.

So, I started with a tribal group and then God sent me to Japan in 1988. Then God sent me to South Korea in 1992. Then after that, you know 50 other countries more.

But the motivation is basically based on what I saw, you know, outside of my own community.

The hunger for meaning, the hunger for truth. The hunger for something deeper, although they’re professionals, although they’re medical doctors, or lawyers, or engineers, there’s this hunger for truth in their lives.

I’m so much interested in people moving from one place to another. We call it diaspora missions. There are one billion diaspora people in the world!

When you talk about missional diaspora, you are referring to people in general moving to different places for several reasons; you are not actually referring to people involved in missions, i.e. missionaries who are sent off and are financially supported. Could you explain more about that?

Well, the missionaries are part of the global diaspora. All kinds of people who move from one place to another are under diaspora.

There are almost 250 million international diaspora. And there are more than 700 million internal diaspora. Like in Ecuador, in South America, especially in Colombia, there are internal diasporas. People moving from one place to another because of so many factors.

In fact, Colombia has 15% of all these diasporas alone, internal diaspora. And there’re so many diasporas in Lima and also in Brazil, all kinds of parts of the world, especially Europe now.

So, one of my interests is this.
If I cannot go, for example to Peru to reach out to the Peruvians. I reach out to the Peruvians in Charlotte area [North Carolina].

So for example, if an Ecuadorian church cannot go to India. Then that church can reach out to the Indians here [in Ecuador].

Because diaspora means from everywhere to everywhere.

Thinking out loud, from mission perspective, one needs to train the workers who will travel overseas. It is also needed to raise funds and to take care of their emotional area. And this

Dr. Terry Casiño, during one of his conferences in Quito, Ecuador

Dr. Terry Casiño, during one of his conferences in Quito, Ecuador

process usually takes several years of preparation. Based on the Biblical Text (Acts 1:8) and on what you have mentioned on Missional Diaspora, we should not stop going into the world but we should also prioritize the outreach of those who are already in our nations. Is it so?

Exactly, we’re talking about strategy, not priority. Because it doesn’t make sense spending so much money going overseas and not being able to reach out to those people whom we are trying to reach overseas and they’re already here.

And we would always send missionaries overseas. We should! But we should also be good stewards of the funds and resources that God has given us as a church.

Just to give you an example, there are 30 million Chinese tourists at the western side of Europe every summer. And we spend so much money trying to teach our missionaries Chinese language or you know, training them in their culture. And yet, there are 30 million of them right there every summer.

It’s a mission’s strategy!

Your final words for our audience!

Well, it’s very simple. Know that the love of God and the forgiveness of God are offered to everyone.

If you are a child of God, God has called you to serve Him as a missionary. And you should fulfill that mandate.

And if you are still seeking for truth, and if you are not very sure about your salvation, come to Christ! Because Christ is the Salvation for this world. Not your works. But Christ’s grace!

God bless!

When the earth shakes, your whole being shakes as well!

Devastating earthquake of 7.8

Devastating earthquake of 7.8 struck Ecuador

It’s been two weeks since the Ecuadorian community experienced moments of anguish, terror and desolation. The ground shook hard for less than one minute, but for the entire population it seemed an eternity.

An earthquake with a magnitude of 7.8 on the Richter scale hit Ecuador, with its epicenter striking two small towns on the coast: Pedernales in the province of Manabi and Muisne in the province of Esmeraldas. However, almost every person felt this earthquake which shook the country of Ecuador its entire length and breadth.

Only rubbles and desolation

Only rubbles and desolation

The evening of April 16 turned into a night of

terror and outright tragedy for the entire population, but especially for the people directly affected, nearly 1,500,000 inhabitants. A labyrinth of no escape and a time of confusion as multiple aftershocks continued the shaking even until now as I write this article. Entire families continue sleeping outside because they are afraid to be trapped inside their houses or because some of their houses simply fell to the ground and were left in ruins.

As of today, the official number of causalities is over

Cleaning rubbles is only the beginning!

Cleaning rubbles is only the beginning!

650 and 30,000 persons have received medical attention. These statistics truly touch the hearts of the Ecuadorian people, but it is really terrible for the families of the victims. However, in the midst of so much pain, we rejoice to know that more than 22,000 are safe in shelters and 113 were rescued from the debris.

The entire nation has mobilized in order to help our brothers and sisters who have been affected by this

Rescue Teams in action

Rescue Teams in action

natural disaster. National and international friend organizations, the media, and neighboring countries as well as far-distant countries have all been present during this time of tears and desolation. Famous people and well-known organizations have come but there have also been many anonymous heroes.

Consequently, today I want to share about Juan Carlos and Sandra, a young couple of heroes from Manta, one of the cities most adversely hit. With a broken voice, they say, “The earthquake has hit us so tremendously, because people have lost their homes and their loved ones. The only thing you think at a time like this is that it must be the end of everything.”

Hundreds of hands ready to bless!

Hundreds of hands ready to bless!

Nevertheless, after that frightful experience, Juan Carlos and Sandra surmounted their own pain and fear, rolled up their sleeves and went out in faith to serve the people who were having an even worse time. “Just seeing people on the street who had lost everything was what motivated us to do something and somehow help these people and communities with our little grain of sand, because they have so many needs.”

Every morning they get up early and take food and

Team of vounteers who works alongside Juan Carlos & Sandra

Team of vounteers who works alongside Juan Carlos & Sandra

words of encouragement, advice and restoration to as many people as they can reach in different places. They even serve the volunteers who are there working in those areas in need.

Juan Carlos and Sandra alongside the members of their small “Family Home Church”, friends and people in general who are contributing anonymously to this cause, are the heroes who are carrying out and will make possible the reconstruction of these communities.

What’s going to happen later on? That’s what Juan

Physical and spiritual food is what our people need the most!

Physical and spiritual food is what our people need the most!

Carlos and Sandra and hundreds of affected people are asking. Perhaps right now there is no clear or specific answer humanly speaking. But this young couple states with conviction, “there is hope” because their hearts are totally trusting in the faithfulness of a good God and in His provision.

Therefore, Juan Carlos and Sandra are calling on the global community to unite in intercession and prayer for Manabi and for all of Ecuador, praying that God will fill the country with strength and that many more people will join in the rebuilding of these towns who “are in this process of change, because the best is yet to come,” as Juan Carlos states with conviction.

And you? Don’t you feel like joining this team of rebuilders?

“If God is not sending earthquakes, destroying economies and inflicting pain upon human beings, what is God doing? God works through people, calling them to help their neighbors in need. God comforts His people, walking with them even ‘through the valley of the shadow of death.'”

                                                                                        Adam Hamilton

 

*****

Photographs:
Courtesy of: Margarita del Mónaco, Teo Zamora and The Jarrin Family.

Statistics:

Source: http://www.gestionderiesgos.gob.ec/wp-content/uploads/downloads/2016/04/Informe-de-situaci%C3%B3n-51-29042016-08h00.pdf