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 Letters, and 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. . .