Learning my lines . . .
. . . discovering what it means to follow Jesus, seeing my story swept up into his . . .

Thoughts Prompted By Halloween. . .

When I got up this morning I realized that today is Halloween. I thought back to our time living in the beautiful town of Salem, Massachusetts and how it came alive with crowds of visitors on this day every year. Yesterday, I was telling someone that much of one of the now-classic Halloween films, Hocus-Pocus, was filmed literally a few dozen steps from our front door. And so, I thought I would repost something I wrote about a year ago as I reflected theologically on our time living in Salem. . .

I think a lot about Satan. This morning was no exception. I’ve been rattled by the recent news of a discouraging medical diagnosis that’s changing the lives of some dear friends. Disease and everything else destructive in this world can be traced back to originating in that moment in time when Satan posed that question to our first parents. . . that question he still poses over and over again. . . “Did God really say. . . ???”

We talked about Satan yesterday as we recorded an upcoming episode of our Youth Culture Matters podcast with Dr. Stephen Nichols from Ligonier Ministries. I asked Steve about the most important doctrines we need to be learning and then teaching to our kids. Teaching them about the enemy of God was one necessary doctrine we broached. Makes sense, doesn’t it? If we are going to move forward spiritually, we need to know the character and strategies of the one who wants to send us backwards.

This morning, the discouraging medical diagnosis reminded me that not only did Satan lead our first parents into temptation and sin, but all of us continue to dabble with his first question as we try to navigate the fallout of our sin. A horrible diagnosis changes the trajectory of our lives, and we start to question God. We all do it, don’t we?

As I thought about the father of lies, I was reminded of the place where Lisa and I lived for the first three years of our marriage. . . Salem, Massachusetts. The beautiful little North Shore town serves as a reminder of opposing spiritual realities that we must always keep in the front of our mind. The town’s name is the English version of the Hebrew word Shalom. That word captures the reality of what existed in the Garden of Eden prior to sin entering the world. It was a place where things were as they were meant to be. It was a state of universal flourishing. And then came sin. Today’s Salem has become ground zero for witchcraft and those who have chosen not to follow God, but to follow the prince of this world. It’s actually now known as “Salem: The Witch City”. There’s a sad irony there. That little town is a reminder of the paradox that exists everywhere in our world.

I would encourage you to tap into the wisdom of those who have gone before us. . . thinking about Satan and his tactics. Take time to read and ponder C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Lettersand Thomas Brooks’ Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices

Pondering these things earlier today led to me penning this prayer. . . for my friends. . . for all of us. . .

Lord, the wrecker of this world continues to work diligently and overtime to undo and undermine all good things. He has never ceased working, but the evidence of his labors are more visible to us now in these difficult days. May that visible evidence we see and feel in this present hour not serve to undo us, but to remind us of the hope we have. . . causing us to lean into rather than away from that hope. It is clear that the wrecker of this world wins in momentary skirmishes from time to time. But we know that those momentary skirmish wins are opportunities given to us to run to You, our refuge and strength. May we embrace them as such. The deceiver consistently is self-deceived because skirmish wins mean nothing in a war that has already been lost! Thank you for the Cross! Amen.

 

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