Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Halloween – to do or not to do, that is the question.

It’s that awkward time of year. Awkward because gazillions of Christians don’t know what to do with this very-Americanized fave holiday – Halloween.

Parents are especially perplexed. Those who know the roots are satanic (and they really are which I’ll tell you about further down) the big dilemma of, “How can we keep our kids from feeling deprived and not honor a satanic ritual?” arises. And for those who don’t have a clue about the meanings behind Halloween’s rituals, simply can’t imagine what all the fuss is about.

Living in France for so many years, I didn’t face this problem. Halloween was no more significant than a spider’s web – excuse the metaphor!

Coming to America, I was stunned. So much money, so much hype and effort and time – for a “satanic” holiday. Then I came to my senses a little and realized that Halloween is a great time to just honor God and do His work, or have harmless fun without magnifying the works of darkness. A lot of churches (at least where I live) have caught on to that. They present Harvest Parties on, or around, October 31st. And they are one heck of a load of fun.

I’ve volunteered to do kids’ games at some of those parties. You get kids turn up as ghosts, witches etc. And you get others turn up as Bible characters. I love all the kids however they look and let them enjoy the game and candy. Sometimes I have an opportunity to share something about Jesus. Either way, the kids are there, at church, not out knocking on doors. So it’s a safe place and a good alternative—and they’re surrounded by good vibes.

If you want to learn of creative, fun ways to teach children during Holiday seasons of any sort, check out my book, Heaven Help Me Raise These Children!—Biblical Direction for Practical Parenting Issues.

Let me also introduce you to two great resources on Halloween. First, check out the DVD by Chuck Smith and Don Stewart at The Word for Today (see sample clip below).

And for some well-balanced tips on how to celebrate Halloween, check out the Precious Holidays blog.

Finally, if you like to dress up at this time of year, or anytime, try a rad temporary hair color (it washes out) and help charities at the same time. Check out Zach’s Wax.

See you again soon. And Happy Harvest.

Janey L. DeMeo M.A.
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Monday, October 12, 2009

When God Turned Off The Lights by Cec Murphey

It's not often I get to present a book by someone who's impacted my life for years as a mentor and a friend--renowned author, Cec Murphey. Cec is a man of prayer, a realist and one of the finest writers I know. Before discussing his new book, When God Turned Off the Lights, here's some what you might want to know about the man behind the words.

Award-winning writer Cecil Murphey is the author or co-author of more than 100 books, including the "New York Times" bestseller 90 Minutes in Heaven (with Don Piper) and Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story (with Dr. Ben Carson). He's also the author of When Someone You Love Has Cancer and Christmas Miracles, both 2009 releases. Murphey's books have sold millions and have brought hope and encouragement to countless people around the world.

Is it possible that God would use a time of spiritual loneliness and isolation in our life as an answer to our prayer for "something more?" That's what happened with best-selling author Cecil Murphey. In When God Turned Off the Lights (Regal, September 2009), he openly shares from his journey that seemed to be stalled in darkness.

Murphey decided to write about his months of seeking God in the darkness because he suspected his situation wasn't unique. "If this happened to me, a rather ordinary believer, surely there are others out there who have wept in the isolated blackness of night and wondered if they would ever see God's smile again."

Murphey could have handled this topic as a theologian and given pages of heavy, hard-to-read advice, but he chose to write from his heart and expose it for the readers to see. He talks honestly and shares his skepticism and frustration. He asks hard questions. And he lays out the steps of healing that brought him back to the light.

When God Turned Off the Lights is a book for those of us who ask, "What's wrong with me? Why are others living in the sunlight while nothing but dark clouds and darkness envelop me?" Readers will learn:

* Why God turns off the lights
* Why we have to have dark nights
* Why asking "why" isn't the right question
* What's worse than going through the darkness
* How to feel worthwhile and accepted by God

Each chapter of When God Turned Off the Lights ends with an inspirational personal quote from Cec. Here's a sampling:

Although it may seem as if God is asleep when we go through deep darkness, could it be that God is most watchful in the moments of our despair?

Could it be that moving from why to what might take us one more step closer to the light?

Our task is to hang on. We wait until God takes us off hold and deals directly with us again.

God's provision is based on unconditional love - not on my faithfulness.

Here's more to whet your appetite for this great book.

What to Do When the Lights Go Out by Cec Murphey

If you sincerely desire to follow Jesus Christ, life won't always be easy. Many times the Bible promises victory, and you may need to remind yourself that there can be no victory without struggling and overcoming obstacles.

In my book, I used the image of God turning out the lights because that was how I perceived the situation. I felt as if I walked in darkness for 18 months. We all interact differently with God, and my experience won't be the same as yours. Even so, most serious Christians have times when God seems to turn away or stops listening. And we feel alone.

Perhaps it's like the time the Israelites cried out to God for many years because of the Egyptian oppression. "God heard their groaning, and he remembered his covenant promise...and knew it was time to act" (Exodus 2:24 NLT). God hadn't forgotten, of course, but from their perspective, that's how it must have seemed. It may seem like that to you if you're going through your own form of darkness.

Here are a few suggestions to help you:

1. Ask God this simple question: "Have I knocked out the lights by my failures? Have I sinned against you? After you ask the question, listen. Give God the opportunity to speak to you.

2. Don't see this as divine punishment (unless God shows you it is), but consider the silence an act of divine love to move you forward. This is God's method to teach you and stretch you.

3. Avoid asking why. You don't need reasons and explanations--and you probably won't get them anyway. Instead, remind yourself that this temporary darkness is to prepare you for greater light.

4. Say as little as possible to your friends. Most friends will want to "fix" you or heal you and they can't. They may offer advice (often not helpful) or make you feel worse ("Are you sure everything is right between you and God?").

5. Stay with the "means of grace." That is, don't neglect worship with other believers even if you feel empty. Read your Bible even if you can't find anything meaningful.

I chose to read Lamentations and Psalms (several times, especially Lamentations) because they expressed some of the pain and despair I felt.

6. If you don't have a daily prayer time, start one. Perhaps something as short as three minutes--and do it daily. Talk honestly to God. It's all right to get angry. (Read the Psalms if you're hesitant.)

7. Remind yourself, "I am in God's hands. This is where I belong and I'll stay in the blackout until I'm ready to move forward."

8. Pray these words daily: "But who can discern their own errors? Forgive my hidden faults" (Psalm 19:12 TNIV). Some versions say "secret sins." These are failures and sins of which you may not yet be aware. One of the purposes of your darkness may be to bring those hidden problems to light.

9. Ask God, "What do you want me to learn from this experience?" You may not get an answer, but it's still a good question. Continue to ask--even after the lights go back on again. If you're open, you will learn more about yourself and also about God.

10. As you receive "light" about yourself while walking in darkness, remind yourself, God has always known and still loves me.

When God Turned Off The Lights would made a great gift for anybody. Buy it now to add to your Christmas stockings.

Janey L. DeMeo M.A.
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Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Floods in India -- Pray for Orphans First in India

The floods in Andhra Pradesh, India are lethal. I've not heard news from our children in Grace Home India (details under our page on Guntur, India on Orphans First website). I'm concerned. Please pray. Here's an Indian news clipping showing the gravity of the floods.

My article on Muslims buying people into Islam will appear on CBN.com's front page on Wed. Oct. 7th (today for some of you reading this).

Janey DeMeo M.A.
Copyright © October 2009
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Monday, October 05, 2009

More about West Africa & the Islamic overtake -- & Orphans First

We are still working towards a new children's home in West Africa. This picture is of some precious slum children in Benin where Orphans First has a children's ministry -- but not yet a home. Details on the Orphans First website.

My article about how Muslims are buying people into Islam--something we discovered during our recent trip to Western Africa--has now been published as a reprint at CBN. Read it here.

As for the little deaf boy, Yohanes, he is now in school (not a school for the deaf, sadly, but a Christian school where he'll at least play with other children and eat once a day). I'll post pics of him soon.

Thanks for reading this blog and praying. I'll be posting some reflections and book reviews again soon also. If you want to be in the loop about Orphans First, my writing ministry or anything else that God has entrusted to me, follow me on Twitter.

Janey L. DeMeo
Copyright © October 2009