Friday, October 31, 2008

Like a Roaring Lion

Since its origins as a pagan religious festival in ancient Britain, Halloween has undergone more than one shift in its general reputation. The name itself comes from "All Hallow's Evening," a term which originated in the ninth century when--as happened with many ancient pagan celebrations--the old customs were Christianized. October 31 then changed from a night when the spirits of the dead were believed to walk the earth, into a holiday to honor the saints, or "hallowed ones."

By the mid-twentieth century, Halloween had lost most of its religious trimmings and--ghosts and witches being generally classified with fairies as things no one took seriously but which were fun to pretend to believe in--was considered mostly a night of harmless fun for children. In recent decades, as the real dangers implicit in occult activities have become more widely known, many Christians have opted to avoid the holiday altogether or to celebrate "All Saints' Evening" or "Harvest Festival" in non-spooky ways.

Whatever one's personal feelings about Halloween, no one who takes the Bible seriously can deny that evil spirits are real. 1 Peter 5:8 (NIV) says, "Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." The chapter from which this verse comes warns us also to beware of greed, pride, anxiety, and discouragement--all of which the devil will encourage in us to tempt us away from God's path. Whether our external circumstances are good or bad, Satan is constantly looking for any hint of wrong attitude within us--and if we fail to remain "self-controlled and alert," he may establish beachheads in our hearts before we know it.

No solidier in a war--especially a spiritual war--can afford to let his guard down.

When all life is a crush of frustration,
When success seems to give you the boot,
Beware of the tempter who lies in wait
To water each bitter root!

When all life is a string of successes,
When it seems everything's going well,
Beware of the tempter who lies in wait
To urge lazy heads to swell!

When all life is continual struggle,
When the challenge is getting you down,
Beware of the tempter who lies in wait
To lure you to Give-Up Ground!

When you sit down to rest from the battle,
As we all must at times now and then,
Beware of the tempter who lies in wait
And urges, "Don't go back in!"

All your life, through the sad times and happy,
He will stalk you to make you his prey;
But fear not: just trust in your mighty Lord
Who drives the tempter away!

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