A dear friend of mine recently lost his young daughter in a horrific tragedy. I wanted to comfort him, but the gravity of his loss, and the manner in which it occurred, left me speechless. I had no words that could erase his bitter heartache - even my prayers seemed to fall flat. For months I sought to find understanding, purpose, or hope in her passing . . . but how could there be a divine plan to such an atrocity? Whoever said God would not give us more than we can handle was flat wrong – this was way too much for anyone. Sure God’s Word promises that His grace will be sufficient for us in our time of need, and that His power is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9) . . . but how do we acquire this grace in our darkest nights, when there simply is no answer to the question “why?” And how do we reconcile the apparent contradiction of a loving and faithful God who could . . .

I was taught from a young age that Jesus was the only way to God, and that if I accepted Him as my Savior then I would go to heaven. Seemed like a no-brainer to me. All I had to do was believe that Jesus died on the cross to pay the price for my sins, ask God’s forgiveness, and then accept His free gift of salvation. I believed what my parents told me . . . and what child wouldn’t do that in order to spend eternity in paradise instead of hell? With my child-like faith, I said the prayer and sealed the deal. However, I remember even then thinking how fortunate I was to be born into a Christian family. I wondered about people raised in other cultures or religions, and how a loving God could send them to hell. I mean what if my parents were Muslim or Jewish or Hindu and had a different understanding of “truth” – I am guessing I would have just followed their lead into a different faith . . . and with no less sincerity! So due to mere chance (or God’s "cruel" election), I would have gone to hell for believing the wrong thing. But I know for certain that God is good, so something does not . . .

I exercise almost every day and have maintained a healthy weight for most of my life, and yet still, I still have issues with food. I began to realize this a few years ago when I was reading a book called “The Heavenly Man.” In the book, Brother Yun shares the details of his experiences in China when he was imprisoned for sharing his faith. The prisoners were fed a bowl of “mush” once a day, and he said that the men would ravenously fight over this food. He quoted Philippians 3:19 and wrote, “Their god was their stomach.” I immediately stopped when I read those words - surely that Scripture just applies to people who chronically overeat, not to starved prisoners! Suddenly, my inner cravings were exposed. I never thought I had a problem with food, but in reality, if you had asked me to give up my sweets . . .

I had only been working as a physician assistant for a year or two. There were several medical assistants at the practice, but for some reason, one of them was consistently rude to me. When I asked her to do anything for my patients (like draw blood or run a strept screen), she would roll her eyes or huff and then take her own sweet time to get it done. She did not treat the other employees like this, so clearly her issue was with me, but I had no idea why she disliked me. Since this girl was only a couple of years younger than me, I thought that if I reached out in friendship, maybe she would soften towards me . . . so I invited her over to my house to hang out with me and my roommate. The look on her face clearly communicated she was not . . .

I used to think witches, demons, and magic spells were just fantasy, something made up for entertainment . . . but by the time I was in Middle School, I knew otherwise. My dad was a Baptist pastor, and even he did not grasp the reality of demonic oppression until tormented people started coming to him for help. Some of these individuals had even been victims of satanic ritual abuse, the worst kind of evil you can imagine. This certainly was not something he learned about in seminary, but my dad was determined to help these people find freedom . . . so he went searching for understanding. Because there were few pastors who knew how to navigate such situations, my dad became the local expert in deliverance ministry, and this ended up becoming a large part of my dad’s passion and calling. This is why I learned about Halloween at a young age. I learned that it is the highest “holy” night for Wiccans and Satanists, a time for ritual sacrifices and ceremonies, and for the worship and invocation of evil. But we did not just read about these things in a book, we learned about them from people who had lived through the unfathomable atrocities that occur on this day. This insight forever changed my view of Halloween, and I could no longer . . .

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