Friday, October 29, 2010

My First Halloween at 30

I felt a little strange walking out of the house with my wife and a jack-o-lantern in one hand and my son dressed up as a St. Bernard in the other. It seemed as if as I was doing something wrong, almost unspiritual.

I am a Christian isn't Halloween the devil's holiday?

Our family waited at the stoop with our porch light on and two big bowls brimming with sweet tasty treats.

Nothing calls kids like candy.

Shortly after, families and kids started to stream to our door. It felt really good to hand out candy to the kids. I told them they can take a hand full. Hey, this is how Italians do Halloween! Mangia! (thats italian for eat more).

We met a really cool young family down the road with a six month old dressed up as Yoda. Needless to say I liked them immediately.

They introduced themselves and said how nice it was to see another young family in the neighborhood and that we should get together sometime. (we will.)

Then it hit me...why the in the world do Christians make such a big deal about Halloween?

You meet your neighbors.
You hand out candy.
You have friendly conversations with people who you would probably not have otherwise.

It's a can't miss opportunity to be a blessing, to be salt and light and maybe alittle milk chocolate thrown in too.

I grew up in that great 80s Christian tradition of locking your door shutting the lights and pretending that you are not home (when everyone knew you were anyway) so that God forbid you don't have talk to your neighbors or be nice to the kids, or "give the devil a foothold."

I think I would rather give the devil a double take to know that his holiday has been taking over by Christians who will use it to further God's Kingdom not his.

Walking around the neighborhood felt good, it felt like the first time we were part of our community. And to be honest the houses that were dark and locked seemed more scary than the ones with the orange decorations.

This may be backlash from days as a kid of not being able dress like Spider-Man and having bad memories from Hallelujah parties (its a christian alternative party in a church, I was a bible with two black poster boards and myself as the bookmark dressed in a yellow sweat suit. I did win a prize ha ha).

I have seen other Christians starting to cross over the Halloween party lines and dress up their kids too and get into on this "taboo" holiday.

I think Halloween is what you make it to be, much like anything else in this world.

If you want to make it about evil spirits and witchcraft and all that than I am not a fan.

If you make it about the kids, than I am a fan...

and from their perspective isn't it just about dressing up and getting candy?

Christians can we just stop overspiritualizing things and really be all things to all men and keep it about the kids.

You might just make a new friend.

You might just bring someone new to church.

And that would be pretty sweet.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Things Happen For A Reason & John Cusack

I don't like to gamble. Probably because I am bad at it.

Every time I change lanes in traffic to speed up I slow down. When I am in a rush and switch lines at the grocery store, you got it, the guy in front of me either has a million coupons or paying with a check. (and who pays with a check these days anyways.)

Even my fantasy football team (no money involved, just pride) is dreadful.

When it comes to chance, I am not a fan.

When it comes to fate. I am a believer.

I cry at sports movies that highlight the underdog. (Rudy & Field of Dreams 'nuff said...tear.)

I am a sucker for a good chick flick where two people who never should have met... do. (Serendipity or pretty much anything with John Cusack)

I was recently talking to a good friend of mine about how he meet his wife how it was a series of events that brought them together.

They met at a wedding.
They both were in the bridle party.
They both hit it off.

The interesting thing was that before the wedding he just declined a job position that would have landed him in Oklahoma.

Far away from the girl he just met at the wedding.
Far away from the girl that would become his wife.

I love stories like that, I believe in stories like that.

Even the story of how I met Marisa was anything but chance.

I recently had a week that changed my life.

It was a one of those weeks that can send your life into a different direction in an instant.

Planting a church is all about faith. I always thought as my self as a person that has alot of it. After all I believe that everything happens for a gotta have faith to believe that you can raise 30,000 in a year.

I had two big conversations with two pastors of two big churches, who I thought were going to be a big help to our church plant.

It was a big disappointment.

We got no help.

Needless to say I felt crushed.

One pastor I met even suggested I should put my resume out there, that maybe this church planting thing wasn't for me.

I did a lot of driving that day, I did a lot of praying.

And alot of venting...after all Im Italian. We love to vent.

The next morning was rainy and dreary, but it was a beautiful day.

After I dropped my wife off at work I had the Pandora Hillsong United station playing in the car, (by the way I love pandora who needs FM radio).

Seriously, every song that played was like a message from God.
Songs of God being in control, about not giving up, about hope.

I was balling.

If a car pulled beside me at a red-light, Im sure I would make for a good youtube video.

Then something inside just clicked.

I emailed my pastor saying I wanted to be more involved at church even though I am not a full-time staff member.

I called my brother, I said I was not about to give up on the dream to plant a church even though things have not gone the way I expected.

There was a feeling that I had that is hard to put into words, it was if I was on Holy Spirit Red Bull.

What happened next really gave me wings.

Upon returning home I checked the mailbox to find a letter from a friend. Enclosed was a note that read how his family has been praying for us, how he believes in our vision to reach the Towson/Baltimore area, and there was also a check for $5000.

I cried... again.

The timing was perfect.
The timing was God.

I can understand why the bible says "The God of your fathers and Abraham, Isaac and Jacob" a combination of 31 times throughout the OT and even the NT.

We need to be reminded of what God can do.
We need to be reminded what God has done.
We need to be reminded that God is our source.

I believe that everything happens for a reason.

This church plant is happening for a reason.