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Nov
01

The Day a Cat Took Away My Faith

Yesterday, October 31, I posted a picture of myself dressed up as a cat on Facebook and Twitter. Wow! I wasn’t prepared for what happened next!

First of all, let me say that this blog is not about whether Halloween should be celebrated as a Christian. There have been PLENTY of discussions about that. Let me also say that last night, October 31, I didn’t go trick-or-treating, nor did I dress up. I sat at home in my pajamas and watched The Sing Off (Go Afro Blue, Pentatonix & Delilah!), and the premiere of Rock Center. It was quite a night.

But in 1984, when I was 8, I DID go trick-or-treating and I DID dress up…as a cat. Hence the photo I posted…from 27 years ago. I found it in my old pictures. I thought it was cute. So I posted it. The end.

I thought I’d get comments like “Too cute”, “Meow” & “Adorable”. And I did! But I also got comments like this one, “We should NOT celebrate halloween. I now question Mandisa.”

What?! I stood on national television and forgave Simon Cowell citing that “Jesus died so that all of my sins could be forgiven so I can extend that same grace to you”. I boldly sang the gospel song “Shackles (Praise You)” in front of 30 million viewers! And every weekend I stand on a stage singing all about Jesus being my Lord and Savior before thousands of attendees! But in 1984 my mom dressed me up as a cat and we asked my neighbors for candy so THAT makes someone question my walk with God? Argggg!

It came to my attention that Mark Hall, of the Christian band Casting Crowns, posted a picture of himself as The Incredible Hulk on his Facebook yesterday and over 3,000 comments followed. One of the commenters said they would not be able to listen to his music anymore. Really? I wonder which lyric is being brought into question? Is it “Seek justice, love mercy, walk humbly with your God” or “Living He loved me, dying He saved me and buried He carried my sins far away. Rising He justified freely forever. One day He’s coming, oh, glorious day“! Or is the great offense of being a green comic book character really why this person cannot listen to such God-edifying music anymore? (It should also be noted that Mark later said that “[Hulk] was not a Halloween costume. I found it in storage today and put it on for this picture. Also we had fall festival at our church tonight and reached around 4000 people”…and then some people took issue with his church having a fall festival!

Again, I’ll remind you that this blog is not about whether or not Halloween should be celebrated as a Christian. This is a disputable matter among Christians…hence all the disputes.

What this blog IS about is how we as Christians treat our fellow Christians. It’s fine if you choose not to celebrate Halloween. But to question someone else’s faith because they do is exactly what Paul wrote of in Romans 14 (below). In that day, the disputable matters were whether or not to eat meat sacrificed to idols or to treat certain days as more sacred than others. But Paul knew that Christians would not always agree on some issues in life. With many different walks of life & backgrounds, it’s inevitable. However, the temptation to pass judgment upon the life or testimony of other individuals is clearly warned against. Not only does doing so break down unity among the body of Christ, it is also a bad witness to non-Christians. I shudder to think of what my non-Christian Facebook friends thought as they read some of the comments that were left. Ugh. I’m guessing they weren’t impressed by the kindness and respect 1 Peter 3 says we should display before non-believers.

There will always be things I disagree about with other believers. And that’s ok. But I will try to live my life in a way that shows respect to my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, presents a good witness to non-believers, and honors the Lord.

1Welcome all the Lord’s followers, even those whose faith is weak. Don’t criticize them for having beliefs that are different from yours. 2Some think it is all right to eat anything, while those whose faith is weak will eat only vegetables. 3But you should not criticize others for eating or for not eating. After all, God welcomes everyone. 4What right do you have to criticize someone else’s servants? Only their Lord can decide if they are doing right, and the Lord will make sure that they do right.5Some of the Lord’s followers think one day is more important than another. Others think all days are the same. But each of you should make up your own mind. 6Any followers who count one day more important than another day do it to honor their Lord. And any followers who eat meat give thanks to God, just like the ones who don’t eat meat.

7Whether we live or die, it must be for God, rather than for ourselves. 8Whether we live or die, it must be for the Lord. Alive or dead, we still belong to the Lord. 9This is because Christ died and rose to life, so that he would be the Lord of the dead and of the living. 10Why do you criticize other followers of the Lord? Why do you look down on them? The day is coming when God will judge all of us. 11In the Scriptures God says,

“I swear by my very life

that everyone will kneel down

and praise my name!”

12And so, each of us must give an account to God for what we do.

13We must stop judging others. We must also make up our minds not to upset anyone’s faith. 14The Lord Jesus has made it clear to me that God considers all foods fit to eat. But if you think some foods are unfit to eat, then for you they are not fit.

15If you are hurting others by the foods you eat, you are not guided by love. Don’t let your appetite destroy someone Christ died for. 16Don’t let your right to eat bring shame to Christ. 17God’s kingdom isn’t about eating and drinking. It is about pleasing God, about living in peace, and about true happiness. All this comes from the Holy Spirit. 18If you serve Christ in this way, you will please God and be respected by people. 19We should try [a] to live at peace and help each other have a strong faith. 20Don’t let your appetite destroy what God has done. All foods are fit to eat, but it is wrong to cause problems for others by what you eat. 21It is best not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything else that causes problems for other followers of the Lord. 22What you believe about these things should be kept between you and God. You are fortunate, if your actions don’t make you have doubts. 23But if you do have doubts about what you eat, you are going against your beliefs. And you know that is wrong, because anything you do against your beliefs is sin.

Romans 14 (CEV)

232 comments

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  1. Megan P says:

    You go girl! Don’t ever let anyone question your faith! Your faith is yours! No one can take that from you. It’s not up to someone else to dictate how you life your life. We serve a God who gave us freewill. With that freewill, we can choose to live our lives how we chose. The choices that you make are yours. YOU are the one, and only one, who has to deal with the rewards or repercussions of them. People shouldn’t condemn because they don’t agree with something.

  2. Jennifer says:

    You’re right, Mandisa. Unfortunately I’ve been one of those who has criticized other believers for participating in Halloween events. It’s been bothering me that we partake in such events, but I know I can only answer for my actions, not for others. I only hope to edify and encourage other believers to follow what Scripture says about such things.

  3. Jennifer Meyers says:

    Honestly, I just do not understand people like that. I am thankful that I serve a forgiving God who sees past stuff like this and sees my heart. You posted a pic dressed as a cat for Halloween as a child. I went trick-or-treating as a child–should that mean God loves me less–of course not that is just absurd.

    Mandisa, God is using you in a powerful way in a lot of Christians lives. i listen to your music everyday when I work out at the gym, and pray that I will have a successful weightloss journey as you have had through your hard work, determination and perserverence.

    Unfortunately, some people have to jump on a bandwagon and find faults. In my life I am sure it would not be too difficult for them to find something wrong. Please just focus on what God is doing in and through you, and know that you have fans who are so proud of the stands you have made and how God is using you.

  4. Alden says:

    Way to go Mandisa! vIt’s ridiculous that those who claim to live under grace are so quick to put others under their own judgment. And it’s ironic to me that these wolves in sheep’s clothing will mercilessly sink their teeth into one of God’s lambs because she dressed up like a cat.

  5. trinity says:

    what does Halloween mean anyway?we dont celebrate halloween in Africa but i ve heard alot about it. So clarify with me what its really abt. *jst wana know*

    1. Benjamin says:

      @Trinity. Its a pagan holiday. This breifly describes what Halloween is. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yKryRrx65sc

    2. Angela says:

      It USED to be a pagan holiday. Now it is a day where children dress up in costumes and walk around their neighborhood asking for candy.

      1. Chuck says:

        YES!!! It USED to be. Now it is a holiday that bonds neighborhods and lights up children’s faces

        1. Jennifer says:

          Exactly! As a Christian, I value the opportunity to love my neighbors! When I see the smiles it brings to their cute, little faces to dress up in costumes, it warms my heart. Nothing evil about wearing appropriate costumes and asking for candy! It’s good, clean fun. God is big enough to see past the origin of Halloween and judge each and every heart correctly.

      2. Deanna says:

        Actually, Halloween is from the mid-1700′s in Scotland and Ireland. It’s the eve of All Saints Day or All Hallows Eve (Hallowe’en). It never started out as a pagan holiday. Check it out on Wikipedia for the history.

    3. AmyW says:

      Or go here and decide for yourself.

      http://wilstar.com/holidays/hallown.htm

  6. Chococat says:

    Wow. I think you made a very graceful and explanatory response to what happened. :) I like the part in your song Stronger when it says, “Things can only get better.” Very uplifting and encouraging.

  7. Jody says:

    Thanks for sharing… I am so frustrated by the fact that we (meaning Christians) often judge and condemn others instead of living lives that lead others to Christ. Your life speaks volumes.

    By the way, you made a very cute cat when you were 8! :-)

  8. Amy K says:

    Well said Mandisa! You are a bright light to this world, don’t let the haters bring you down.

  9. Robin Warden says:

    Bless you! Thanks for sharing such a good Word about grace! I’m on the same page with ya! You keep on keepin’ on!

  10. Laurie says:

    Well said!

    I’ve noticed a lot of that judgement on Christian artists this season. Just let one dare to post anything about Halloween and whamo! Why do people do that? What are they thinking?

    I don’t know how artists such as yourself stay on Social Media sites with all that back lash. But thank you for sticking with it! It can be such an effective ministry tool. Plus, I love following you! :) Be encouraged, all your “followers” are that way.

    P.S. Mayim Bialik had the same trouble when she mentioned Halloween.

  11. Elaine says:

    Great job! Love it! Live it! That’s all we can do….

  12. Stacy Ward says:

    AMEN & A.M.E.N, well said Mandisa, well said!

  13. Liz says:

    Mandisa, thank you so much for this article! AMEN.
    We Christians get caught up in anything that isn’t Jesus SO easily. I find myself being judgmental toward judgmental people, angry toward angry people, etc. Whatever WE think, that should completely pale with our focus on Christ. How we Christians treat each other and non-believers matters SO much than our opinions. Anyway, you said it much better than me, so I just have to say Amen again! :)

  14. Donna Mahoney says:

    Dear Mandisa,

    YEA YOU! I love your music, and the message you sing! I love what you said as well! I didn’t happen to see either pictures, but that doesn’t matter. Just wanted to say CHEERS TO YOU! HUGS and love in Christ Jesus sent! Who died for my sins and set me free!
    Love,
    Donna in TN.

  15. Gail McWilliams says:

    Mandisa, I am not a fan of Christians participating in Halloween festivities, I do think we as Christians take it too lightly, but I would have never looked at your photo and thought “Oh no, I’ll never listen to her again”. RIDICULOUS!! I love you girl… keep on making music and praising the Lord!

    1. Shari says:

      Well said Gail…Mandisa, you are annointed of God and I appreciate your message, your music and the way you live out your faith.

  16. Roben says:

    You tell em….and shame on them!!

  17. Angie says:

    Amen to that!

  18. Kelly Evans says:

    Well said, Mandissa! I thought you looked cute!

  19. Renee Cantrell says:

    THIS is one of the many reasons I love you! I thought you were an ADORABLE cat. I always took my kids trick-or-treating, and I will take my grandkids if their parents want me to. I have never taken my kids to a virgin sacrifice on halloween. We never robbed graves. We never called up spirits. We had fun, and we still do. Tooooo many modern-day Scribes & Pharisees. Love you girl. You’re my favorite.

    1. Elise Weinberg says:

      Right on Renee! Awesome. I was cracking up reading this. Thanks for a jovial and funny tone on this response.

    2. AW says:

      “I have never taken my kids to a virgin sacrifice on halloween. We never robbed graves.”

      LOL! Love this.

      Mandisa, new fan of yours. Saw you at WoF in Dallas this summer for the first time and fell in love with your gifts. (I was harassed by my friends for being the only one that never saw you on AI.) I could not believe I’ve missed your testimony all these years.

      I grew up in a fundamental-legalistic religion. Even after I became a grace saved Christian at age 25, it’s still hard for me to let go of those habits in-grained at a young age. Judgementalism being one of the foremost. Thank you for reminding me that the grace that saved my behind from the fire is the same grace I need to be extending to those that might believe or live out their faith differently than I. While I DID take my children trick-or-treating last night, there is always something in our walks that someone (even believers) would not do in theirs. Perhaps my fellow Christ follower smokes, something I don’t do. Perhaps someone would take issue with my eating disorder and say I lack faith. Perhaps. Either way, your walk should not affect mine. And vice versa. My walk has to do with me and my Lord and the sanctification process I AM going through, not what you are going through. And thank GOODNESS, right?!

      You are a gifted daughter of the King and my sister in arms. I am proud of that and take comfort in other strong women fighting alongside me on this side of Heaven. This war is hard enough without other sisters and brothers tearing us down. Why not build up? With God behind us and our mother-bear mentalities, the Devil ain’t got nothing to hold us down successfully!

      Blessings on you and your journey! Keep up the fight.

      Love,
      AW

    3. Karin says:

      I love this response. It puts the whole Halloween issue in perspective to me and offers balance. Yes, we can celebrate Halloween in a fun fashion. Just because you dress up or go trick or treating doesn’t mean you are worshipping the devil!

  20. Alonna says:

    I am sorry to hear that you are going through this. It saddens my heart that we are not only persecuted by the world, but also our Christian brothers and sisters. As you said, this goes far deeper than the issue of Halloween, we really need to check our love walks and be supporters of fellow Christians.

  21. Casey says:

    Hated to see that your post was a victim of some fundamentalist anger, Mandisa. the sharper the divide becomes between Christians who want to be in on the “who’s in/who’s out” decision-making process and Christians who are more than willing to let that responsibility fall to God (and rightly so), the more anger and vitriol that’s going to begin flying around.

    Be well and keep the posts coming.

    peace

  22. Abby Anderson says:

    WELL SAID! I’ve been looking for all the right words to say to other Christians who condemn my family for trick-or-treating for years! Thanks for putting this so eloquently, Mandisa!

  23. Jennifer Womack Jones says:

    Good for you! It’s okay for Christians to have FUN! That’s why a lot of kids grow up and leave the church because “we” are so NOT FUN!! As long as it’s clean and appropriate, let’s have a good time in Jesus Christ!!!

  24. Gina says:

    Well put! I saw a lot of ugly comments yesterday from people.
    Very unfortunate.
    -G (@ginabob)

  25. Leah says:

    You rock. This post rocks. You dressed as a cat rocks. The end.

    1. Jacque says:

      Simply and well put, Leah!! Mandisa is awesome sauce!!!!

    2. Candi says:

      There is nothing wrong with celebrating Halloween as long as it is clean fun and non demonic. I would rather children attend Festivals hosted by church’s than be exposed to the demonic ways some people celebrate. Mandisa you ROCK and you do NOT have to explain yourself!!! We love you!!!

    3. Jenny says:

      Agreed x1000

    4. Karen says:

      I can’t wait to hear you sing in Sioux Falls, SD! I only have one question—will you be available for autographs? I hope so!!!! Thanks!

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