Monday, October 27, 2014

Halloween: What Is it All About Anyway?

It is only a few days away.

It is a big money-maker for many retail stores and specialty party stores. It greatly increases the profit margins of those in the dental profession because of all the sweet treats that we consume. It is a delight to young ones except the minority who deal with developmental or sensory differences. It is tolerated by adults who only want to "make our children happy."

Yes, I mean Halloween.

At the same time that many of us are spending money on Halloween festivities, other things continue. Halloween may not be nearly as expensive Christmas if you celebrate as tradition dictates. But you know what continues to go on while so many of us enjoy this day's festivities?

In the US alone we have great need. We lose four children a day to child abuse. We lose some thirteen veterans a day to suicide. We just learned about another school shooting in Washington State; does this not point to the crying need to increase affordable mental health services to the general population? I can go on. If you think of yourself as a world citizen you are aware of the sea of need, especially all over Asia and Africa. From late October to the end of December, many dollars are lavished on festivities when so many in need are crying out for our help. Yes, I know this is not pleasant to think about. Reality often is not pleasant.

No, I'm not against anyone of any age having good, wholesome fun. This brings us to another point. Is Halloween fun actually good and wholesome? Even if we have our children wear wholesome costumes and observe child safety, such as never leaving children unattended and inspecting their candy, many children (and some playful adults) will dress up as witches or warlocks or some other unsavory or creepy character. I don't know about you but my Bible tells me that in this world we have a personal devil who hates humanity and is bent on destroying us. Halloween, with its overtones of occult and pagan roots, is an open invitation to this devil to wreak havoc upon us. This havoc can take many sickening forms such as child abductions, adult abductions (especially of women) shootings, knifings, gangs, rapes, human trafficking, and other horrific things that are blights on us and that break the heart of our Creator. And to some people who have suffered satanic ritual abuse or experienced satanic oppression, this time of the year can be upsetting and disturbing. To Christians who take Satan's existence seriously, Halloween is a real concern.

So what if you plan to participate in Halloween anyway? That is your choice. A local church in your area will offer Halloween events that will be far safer and more wholesome than the traditional trick or treating. If you decide to participate in traditional trick or treating this Friday, ask yourself what memories this will give your children of your involvement in their lives? What will it teach them? All of us who celebrate this day use it to have fun, or let our children have fun. I "get" that. There is a but. Can you be more creative in your family fun than observing a supposed "child-centered holiday"?

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Change the World by Changing It for A Few People

You probably are aware of the fact that none of us can change the whole world. You no doubt deal with many requests for charitable contributions, especially by mail or online. Many are for worthy causes or not so legitimate. We see the almost endless sea of human need and we can feel overwhelmed with it all. We are only one person, each of us. We have our own needs, our own families, our own limitations and our own commitments. What are we supposed to do about it anyway?

This is my very first time in my over four years of Facebook usage that I have ever set up an online fundraiser. Why do it now? you may wonder.

I learned about this nonprofit, Gospel for Asia, through reading a book by the person who founded it. Yes, it is a Christian nonprofit that makes sharing the love of Jesus with its clients central to its mission. Yet they do much to address the serious physical and material needs of so many of their seriously destitute people. They enable supporters to create fundraising campaigns through them and that go directly to the people they help. Gospel for Asia (GFA) has pledged to give 100 percent of all donations given to them directly to the people you want to see helped. They trust God to provide for the resources they need for their overhead. Wouldn't it be wonderful if more nonprofits operated in this way?

What campaign did I choose? I chose the Red Lights Ministries, a ministry through which GFA seeks to address human trafficking. Through Red Light Ministries, GFA rescues girls and women from human trafficking and in helping them rebuild their lives, share the love of Jesus with these girls and women. I know that human trafficking is a terrible evil that is epidemic here in the West including every state in the United States. We need to speak up for and try to help human trafficking victims among us. I know that. I know. But there human trafficking victims in developing countries have fewer advocates and fewer resources to help rescue them or help them rebuild their lives. Human trafficking is a worldwide evil and victims are typically (not always) girls and women. We are so often saying that we need to stop human trafficking. I'm giving you a practical opportunity to do just that.

If you are not a Christ-follower, you do not need to let the world Christian scare you. Helping suffering girls and women who are being trafficked, is a matter of human decency. Even if life circumstances keep you from financially contributing, you can still support this cause by reading this and sharing this post widely, especially with those whom you think are most likely will support it. Taking a few minutes to spread awareness mean a lot and show that you care enough to give up a little of your time to let others know of this need and of a way to address it! And if you have financial resources, you will not waste your donation dollars on this! All you dollars will go directly to these girls and women. As of present, I do not know of any other nonprofit that makes this promise to its donors. You can check out their site here.

Please check out my campaign! Go here.

Thank you!

Lisa DeSherlia

Friday, October 10, 2014

The Global War on Christians by John L. Allen Jr.

This book, organized into three parts, spotlights the global religious, severe persecution of Christians outside North America and Western Europe. The author writes for a Catholic publication and so this book has a strong Catholic flavor. Omitting footnotes because they would be "too cumbersome," he acknowledges that while 80 percent of persecution is directed at Christians, other religious minorities also suffer persecution for their beliefs. The first part of the book outlines the countries of persecution, the second part of the book outlines myths we often buy into about religious persecution. His last part of the book focuses on predictions on future trends as relating to persecution and what our response should look like. Also not overlooked are the instances when professing Christians have actually persecuted other Christians, abortion rights advocates, and homosexuals.

This book is not easy or fun reading. It a call to action. I found it uncomfortable and painful as Allen reminds the reader that we Christians have been guilty of persecuting, even if "Christian extremists" have not committed crimes as horrific as other extremists. As I have been well-informed about religious persecution of the world's Christians for years, I found little in the book that was news to me. What was news to me, and probably should not be, was that some persecution in certain instances have been of Christians persecuting other Christians. I fear that this is why people may not want to see Christians as victims but rather as victimizers. I get frustrated when religious persecution gets seen as a wedge issue and co-opted by the "religious right" and seen as a political issue as Allen points out. I understand why the author left out footnotes but without sources cited except in generalities, I feel uncomfortable giving this book five stars. I give it four and a half stars because it's so packed with info from what I know to be reliable sources.

I recommend this book for all adults age 18 and over. Every Christian ought to read this book and it can be ordered free of charge to you if you will, in exchange, give an honest review (if you blog). I will link to the site below where, if you blog, you can get this book for free. This book will give you all the tools you need to educate yourself and act on behalf of the persecuted. Non-Christians should read this as a matter of human decency. You need not be a Christian to advocate for Christians and other oppressed religious minorities.

I received this book free of charge from Blogging For Books, in exchange for an honest review.

Author's Website

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If you don't blog and cannot get this book free you can order another free book on global religious persecution here.

Monday, September 29, 2014

The Daring Heart of David Livingstone, by Jay Milbrandt

This is a biography about is historical figure who "wore many hats." David Livingstone was a missionary, an abolitionist of East African slavery, a scientific explorer, and an exile. Told in chronological order, each chapter contains maps charting where Livingstone was at the given time. Each chapter also starts out with a David Livingstone quote, a brief summary of that chapter plus statistics of slaves sold annually during the time period and the total victims of that trade. The biography ends with study guide questions based on the chapters and contains research footnotes.

Since this book is set in a different culture and time from my own, this affected my ability to follow its narrative. I reread parts of it to comprehend its content. Clearly, the author wanted to make sure that Livingstone is not unrealistically as a "super-holy" saint and missionary whose feet never touched the ground. In so many biographies, authors caricaturize their subjects, making us wonder if their subject was really that "perfect" in life, without any dark side or struggles that show their humanity. The author shows us Livingstone's passion for his mission of abolishing the East African slave trade and his deep love of God. He also reveals Livingstone's struggles with discouragement and depression. This book is realistic. The author's practice of using charts, timelines and maps made it easier for me to read it in its historical context. I won't give any details away but clearly Livingstone did not have an easy life.

I recommend this book for adults 18 and over. The content will probably be too hard to comprehend or appreciate by youth. When I had to do required reading of any historical material in school, it made little sense to me. Any history buff will enjoy this book, as will people who have a heart for missions, especially those in Africa. I recommend it for anyone who is considering becoming a missionary. Christian universities offering courses in church history may consider making this book required reading for their students.

I received a complimentary copy of this book by Booklook Bloggers. I was not required to give this book a positive review.

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