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Ghost Stories and Celebrating Halloween as Christians
Episode 426th October 2021 • Everyday Disciples • St Matthew, Grand Rapids
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Halloween and Reformation are coming up and we're tackling a few related topics!

In our first segment, Adam Vanderstelt and Pastor Matthew Starner talk about celebrating Halloween as Christians. A lot of Christians get hung up on whether or not it's okay to celebrate a holiday that seems to be about so much dark stuff. But the origins of Halloween are more Christian than we realize! (We also hear about their very different tastes in Halloween candy!)

In the second segment, Pastor Rob and Matthew talk about ghost stories and the Bible. Believe it or not, they've been asked about that topic many times and it's helpful to remember what God's Word says. And they look at a ghost story in the Bible that many aren't familiar with from 1 Samuel 28.

In the final segment, Pastor Matthew and Adam take a look at a song that's going to be sung in many churches around the world this coming Reformation day: A Mighty Fortress.

Have a question or a topic you'd like to hear from us about? Let us know at media@stmatthewgr.com.

Transcripts

Matthew Starner:

Well, hello, and welcome back to another

Matthew Starner:

episode of everyday disciples. I'm Pastor Matthew and today

Matthew Starner:

we're looking at some timely topics for this week, where the

Matthew Starner:

in the week leading up to Halloween and the Reformation so

Matthew Starner:

we're tackling some related topics to that. In our first

Matthew Starner:

segment, I sit down with Adam Vander stellt. And we talk about

Matthew Starner:

Christians celebrating Halloween. That can be a bit of

Matthew Starner:

a struggle for many Christians at this time of year. Is it? Is

Matthew Starner:

it right or is it okay to celebrate the holiday that seems

Matthew Starner:

so dark? We explore that a little bit. And in the second

Matthew Starner:

segment, I sit down with Pastor Rob Apple to talk about ghost

Matthew Starner:

stories. As pastors, we get asked about that a little more

Matthew Starner:

often than you'd think. And so we look at some of what the

Matthew Starner:

Bible says about it. And we look at a ghost story from the Bible

Matthew Starner:

that you might not even know is there in First Samuel. And

Matthew Starner:

finally, Adam and I take a look at a classic song that's going

Matthew Starner:

to be sung in a lot of churches this weekend. A Mighty Fortress,

Matthew Starner:

we see the message behind that classic song, their cue the

Matthew Starner:

spooky music, and let's dive in.

Matthew Starner:

Well, welcome once again, I'm sitting here with Adam Vander

Matthew Starner:

stellt. And today, you know, this, this being the week

Matthew Starner:

leading up to Halloween, I thought it'd be a good idea to

Matthew Starner:

kind of tackle a question that comes up in the hearts and the

Matthew Starner:

minds of a lot of Christians around this time of year is, is

Matthew Starner:

it okay, is it is it right for Christians to celebrate

Matthew Starner:

Halloween? Hmm. I don't know about you, Adam. But every once

Matthew Starner:

in a while I encounter that from from Christians. I see that

Matthew Starner:

online and lots of different places of Christians saying that

Matthew Starner:

it's wrong, right for us to celebrate Halloween. Mm hmm. If

Matthew Starner:

you encountered that before.

Adam VanderStelt:

So I do remember that actually being a

Adam VanderStelt:

kind of a thing. So I grew up in the like, mid 90s, early 2000s.

Adam VanderStelt:

This was around like the same time where like, a games like

Adam VanderStelt:

Dungeons and Dragons and magic cards, were getting kind of like

Adam VanderStelt:

attention by the Christian community, like are these things

Adam VanderStelt:

evil? And I think like Halloween kind of got wrapped into that

Adam VanderStelt:

was even

Matthew Starner:

around the time of like Harry Potter too, right?

Matthew Starner:

Well, the

Adam VanderStelt:

Harry Potter kind of later 2000s I think,

Adam VanderStelt:

yeah,

Matthew Starner:

somewhere around there. Because I remember

Matthew Starner:

a lot of the conversation of like, witchcraft and stuff

Matthew Starner:

associated with that. And Christians shouldn't read that

Matthew Starner:

either. Which I know I, I'm just not a big fiction fan. I haven't

Matthew Starner:

read Harry Potter. But I do know, like, it has an awful lot

Matthew Starner:

of Christian undertones in there of those themes of redemption

Matthew Starner:

and sacrifice and all that stuff. So yeah, that's a whole

Matthew Starner:

that's a whole nother podcast. But yeah, it seems like one of

Matthew Starner:

those things, to me, at least now, this wasn't the case in my

Matthew Starner:

family. We never really talked about like, the weather was

Matthew Starner:

right or wrong to celebrate Halloween. You know, my family

Matthew Starner:

didn't make a huge deal about it. But I think for a lot of

Matthew Starner:

Christians, it almost sort of feels like if they're going to

Matthew Starner:

celebrate it, they kind of have to celebrate it. You know, like,

Matthew Starner:

you know, in a restrained way, because we don't want to, we

Matthew Starner:

don't want to give the impression that we're just like,

Matthew Starner:

all in on this thing. Right. I think. I don't know. I think for

Matthew Starner:

some folks, it feels like it's a celebration of Satan of the

Matthew Starner:

occult. I think there's there's ideas that it comes from kind of

Matthew Starner:

a pagan background. And so it's a pagan thing. It's not a

Matthew Starner:

Christian thing. So should we do it or not? And I do you think is

Matthew Starner:

that kind of what you've seen to from people when they've Yeah,

Matthew Starner:

for sure. railed against him?

Adam VanderStelt:

Yeah. Yeah. I mean, so it falls around

Adam VanderStelt:

Reformation Day. So I think just, you know, a short answer

Adam VanderStelt:

solution is just dress like Martin Luther. Yeah. Right.

Matthew Starner:

Yeah. And for a lot of people, I think, in the

Matthew Starner:

church, it feels like well, you know, we should we should really

Matthew Starner:

focus on Reformation Day and Halloween is kind of like the,

Matthew Starner:

you know, the afterthought holiday that got thrown in

Matthew Starner:

there. But, but just you know, that's that's actually

Matthew Starner:

backwards.

Adam VanderStelt:

No, I didn't notice. Tell me this. Yeah. So

Matthew Starner:

to do a little bit of just I didn't do a real

Matthew Starner:

deep dive into this, but just sort of looking a little bit at

Matthew Starner:

the history of Halloween. Well, let me let's first just talk

Matthew Starner:

about reformation for a second, which is coming up on Sunday.

Matthew Starner:

That that was when Martin Luther nailed the 95 theses to the

Matthew Starner:

church door. Right. He did that on All Hallows Eve. Okay. Now

Matthew Starner:

Hallows is kind of an old way of saying like saints, saints, in

Matthew Starner:

the broad sense of like those who have died in the faith, not

Matthew Starner:

the people that we necessarily venerate, like the Catholic

Matthew Starner:

Church does, but just are our forefathers who have died in the

Matthew Starner:

faith, that cloud of witnesses that the book of Hebrews talks

Matthew Starner:

about. And it's a day when we remember that when we remember

Matthew Starner:

those who have died in the faith, we still celebrate All

Matthew Starner:

Saints Day, November 1, in the church every year, usually we

Matthew Starner:

recognize it the first Sunday in November. And so he chose the

Matthew Starner:

night before that, to nail that to the door. And I think he did

Matthew Starner:

that on purpose. Because it that All Saints Day. It's a day of

Matthew Starner:

remembering that, that even though we're remembering these

Matthew Starner:

loved ones who have died in the faith, we remember that death is

Matthew Starner:

defeated. We remember that darkness is over. It has been

Matthew Starner:

defeated by Jesus rise from the grave. And so he chose that day

Matthew Starner:

to nail those 95 theses to the door as a way of saying, like,

Matthew Starner:

we're not done cleaning up this darkness yet. There's darkness

Matthew Starner:

now that's crept into the church in the form of these abuses that

Matthew Starner:

have gone wrong. So let's, let's talk about these, which is what

Matthew Starner:

he was he was doing he was inviting a conversation. And,

Matthew Starner:

and let's, let's remember that the the work that we have to do

Matthew Starner:

now, because of Jesus, resurrection isn't done. Like we

Matthew Starner:

keep pushing back that darkness because it's defeated. Hmm.

Matthew Starner:

Which I thought was just really powerful that he chose that day.

Matthew Starner:

It wasn't just, he happened to do it. On the 31st, it wasn't a

Matthew Starner:

coin that was, that was an intentional choice to do it that

Matthew Starner:

day. And that, you know, like, like, like Christmas Eve is a

Matthew Starner:

celebration in and of itself, kind of apart from Christmas

Matthew Starner:

Day, the eve before a holiday, like a holy day is an important

Matthew Starner:

day to you know, we like to celebrate before those things

Matthew Starner:

get here. And now in modern days, it's certainly morphed

Matthew Starner:

into though, you know, we dress up in all sorts of costumes and

Matthew Starner:

go around trick or treating. But I think there's there's still

Matthew Starner:

vestiges of that. That triumph over evil that show up because

Matthew Starner:

you think of classic Halloween costumes. What do you think of?

Adam VanderStelt:

I always had to dress as a pirate. I think it

Adam VanderStelt:

was the only one we had. Or a ghost. Skeleton, those kinds of

Adam VanderStelt:

things. Uh huh. Yeah,

Matthew Starner:

those skeletons I pirate certainly probably rank

Matthew Starner:

up there. Maybe more in the modern age. Devils mm, which is,

Matthew Starner:

you know, those sorts of things, I think are common things that

Matthew Starner:

remind us of death, things that reminds us of that evil stuff.

Matthew Starner:

And I think it's important to recognize that Halloween

Matthew Starner:

actually, you know, originating as a Christian holiday, marking

Matthew Starner:

that, that triumph over death over evil. When we when kids are

Matthew Starner:

dressing up like a little devil with the pitchfork and in the

Matthew Starner:

red horns, which is not what the devil looks like. It's it's not

Matthew Starner:

a way of celebrating him. It's a way of poking fun at him.

Adam VanderStelt:

Right? Death is defeated. Yeah,

Matthew Starner:

yeah. You're You're, you're you're so

Matthew Starner:

defeated by Jesus that we're going to dress up our little,

Matthew Starner:

little kid, little Johnny, and send them around to collect

Matthew Starner:

candy looking like like you kind of thing. It's, it's a way of

Matthew Starner:

kind of thumbing our nose at Satan and saying, No, you're,

Matthew Starner:

you're defeated here. This is this is this is a joke. Now. We

Matthew Starner:

dress a little kids up like that, and we think they're cute.

Matthew Starner:

So I think it's, it's good for us to remember where these

Matthew Starner:

things came from. Now, now, certainly. Our culture wants to

Matthew Starner:

take things to extremes. And I think that sometimes Halloween

Matthew Starner:

can be a night for, for violence, for mischief for those

Matthew Starner:

sorts of things. But we don't want to we don't want to

Matthew Starner:

encourage that or celebrate that. But you know, kind of

Matthew Starner:

Christian celebrate Halloween with a clear conscience? I think

Matthew Starner:

so.

Adam VanderStelt:

Okay, I looked up the history of it sounds like

Adam VanderStelt:

you did some homework on Halloween, I just wanted to know

Adam VanderStelt:

about trick or treating, mostly because I missed out on a lot of

Adam VanderStelt:

trick or treating as a kid. And the the idea of the roots of

Adam VanderStelt:

trick or treating can actually be traced back to about the same

Adam VanderStelt:

time. And it was for people who were poor, and they would go

Adam VanderStelt:

around to different homes and offer prayers in exchange for

Adam VanderStelt:

food and beer. Wow. Yeah. So I thought that might be a cool

Adam VanderStelt:

thing that you and I could do. Maybe just go knock on doors and

Adam VanderStelt:

see if we can get some treats right for prayer. That's, that's

Adam VanderStelt:

what I learned to pray for

Matthew Starner:

you for a beer. That's, that's a new one. I have

Matthew Starner:

not encountered that before. So yeah, that's dry. Could be a

Matthew Starner:

great ministry opportunity there. Gotta be careful. If you

Matthew Starner:

get a lot of requests for prayers, you might need some

Matthew Starner:

help getting home right. Yeah, that's interesting. I had come

Matthew Starner:

across an article a long time ago, too. That was kind of

Matthew Starner:

making this argument. And I don't remember all the details

Matthew Starner:

of the of the article. But I do remember kind of the way that

Matthew Starner:

they framed the article the argument of why Christians

Matthew Starner:

should be able to celebrate Halloween with a clear

Matthew Starner:

conscience. It was they they made the argument that that

Matthew Starner:

Halloween has become more Christian than Christmas. And I

Matthew Starner:

really Like, there was even maybe the headline, I should

Matthew Starner:

have looked up the article, but I just have remembered it for so

Matthew Starner:

long. The argument that they made was that you know, you

Matthew Starner:

think of Christmas time, what's what is the message that we

Matthew Starner:

always hear given to kids? It's the Oh, you got to be good,

Matthew Starner:

right? You got to be good. Or Santa is not going to bring you

Matthew Starner:

in here. Right? That's the the message that that kids hear

Matthew Starner:

oftentimes at Christmas. You know, how's the song go? You

Matthew Starner:

better watch out. You better not cry. better not pout, I'm

Matthew Starner:

telling you why Santa is coming. And, you know, making that list

Matthew Starner:

and checking it twice. Yeah. And what's the message that we tell

Matthew Starner:

kids or that kids like, receive at Halloween? Right? It's it's

Matthew Starner:

no matter how much of a monster you are all the kids get candy.

Matthew Starner:

That sounds like Grace, right? Yeah, very much. So it's, it's

Matthew Starner:

It's Grace to all the little monsters out there that come to

Matthew Starner:

the door, they get candy, and but only the good kids get

Matthew Starner:

Christmas presents. And I'm like, yeah, that that just

Matthew Starner:

really resonated with me that yeah, it's it's a great way to

Matthew Starner:

talk about grace, no matter how scary of a creature we are, no

Matthew Starner:

matter how much of a monster we are. God's got grace for us.

Matthew Starner:

Yeah. And that grace never runs out. And it's not dependent on

Matthew Starner:

whether we're good enough, or whether we deserve it, like we

Matthew Starner:

often hear at Christmas time. And we were saying to just just

Matthew Starner:

before we started recording here that, you know, Christmas in, in

Matthew Starner:

many ways. It's a it's a pursuit of all the stuff, right? It's

Matthew Starner:

the pursuit of presence and things like that. And even even

Matthew Starner:

it can be in the minds of well intentioned Christians. It can

Matthew Starner:

be a pursuit of like, oh, nostalgia, right, trying to

Matthew Starner:

recapture that feeling we had as a child of the wonder of

Matthew Starner:

Christmas and the magic we felt as a child at when, you know,

Matthew Starner:

that's not really what Christmas is about either. Christmas is

Matthew Starner:

about Jesus. It's about His coming to earth for us. Yeah.

Matthew Starner:

And, and so we can take a holiday like Christmas that no

Matthew Starner:

Christian has any qualms about celebrating. And we can we can

Matthew Starner:

turn that into something that's very much not what it's supposed

Matthew Starner:

to be about. So I think it's something that as we talk about

Matthew Starner:

Christmas, we kind of wrap this up here or Halloween, that, you

Matthew Starner:

know, if it's something that's really heavy on your conscience,

Matthew Starner:

that it feels like this is a bad thing for you as a Christian to

Matthew Starner:

celebrate, then don't okay, you don't have to. But if you if

Matthew Starner:

it's something that you feel like you you can celebrate that

Matthew Starner:

you you want to be a part of. I think we can do that with a

Matthew Starner:

clear conscience. We don't have to feel like we're engaging in

Matthew Starner:

some sort of pagan activity. We just use it as an opportunity to

Matthew Starner:

remember what Jesus did that he conquered all those little

Matthew Starner:

devils and demons we're gonna see out there and, and that this

Matthew Starner:

is just an opportunity to poke fun at the devil and remember

Matthew Starner:

that Jesus one,

Adam VanderStelt:

yeah, yes, I like that. I got to ask pastor

Adam VanderStelt:

Matthew, what's your favorite Halloween candy?

Matthew Starner:

Oh, favorite Halloween candy. Gosh,

Adam VanderStelt:

I put you on the spot. Mine is good and

Adam VanderStelt:

plenty. I know. That's a terrible candy. I just love

Adam VanderStelt:

them. I just love them. Those

Matthew Starner:

are those are licorice ones.

Adam VanderStelt:

The the black licorice. Oh

Matthew Starner:

my gosh. Huh. delicious. Nope. Black licorice

Matthew Starner:

is like gross. Oh, absolutely. I would have to go with like,

Matthew Starner:

Reese's cups. I'm big chocolate peanut butter fan. Okay. Or like

Matthew Starner:

chocolate and caramel. Anything like Twix or anything like that.

Matthew Starner:

I like those. Okay, really? There's there's not a whole lot

Matthew Starner:

of Halloween candy. That I'll turned down.

Adam VanderStelt:

Alright. Equal Opportunity. Yep. Very good. All

Adam VanderStelt:

right, well, you can

Matthew Starner:

have all the good and planning. I'll take the

Matthew Starner:

Reese's. All right. All right. Well, good talking with you,

Matthew Starner:

Adam. And yeah, look forward to celebrating Halloween this

Matthew Starner:

weekend.

Matthew Starner:

While I'm sitting here with Pastor Rob and ready to do

Matthew Starner:

another deep dive, and we figured because this is the week

Matthew Starner:

leading up to Halloween. One of the things that might be kind of

Matthew Starner:

on people's mind is the this whole like, realm of like ghost

Matthew Starner:

stories and things like that. And Pastor Rob, I don't know

Matthew Starner:

about you, but I've been asked a number of times as a pastor, by

Matthew Starner:

folks about ghost story type things, people who've

Matthew Starner:

experienced things in their homes in their lives. They, you

Matthew Starner:

know, talk about like, I've got a ghost in my house or my, my

Matthew Starner:

great great great grandmother visits me in my home or

Matthew Starner:

something like that. And have you been asked those sorts of

Matthew Starner:

questions before

Rob Appold:

absolutely people more I would have to say

Rob Appold:

curiosity. I don't remember anybody thinking they had a

Rob Appold:

ghost in their own home. But we do have a member of our church

Rob Appold:

from horican, Wisconsin, which has a famous, I believe it's a

Rob Appold:

supposedly a haunted. Is it a Lutheran church even but there

Rob Appold:

was quite a quite a deal on Horicon, Wisconsin. spooked, I'd

Rob Appold:

have to look it up now that I've never

Matthew Starner:

heard of that. I, I know here in here in Ada,

Matthew Starner:

where we are there's there's talk of the ADA, which Oh, yeah.

Matthew Starner:

In the ADA cemetery here. I just recently encountered that

Matthew Starner:

online, somebody mentioning that. I don't know much about

Matthew Starner:

that one. I'll have to look that one up.

Rob Appold:

But certainly fascination with curiosity about

Rob Appold:

it can get into fearfulness. And unfortunately, it can lead in

Rob Appold:

some cases, you know, breaks through that firewall, where it

Rob Appold:

just becomes an obsession.

Matthew Starner:

Sure. Yeah. unhealthy? Absolutely. Yeah. And

Matthew Starner:

then folks have and so I thought like from, from a biblical

Matthew Starner:

perspective, how do we, how do we think about these sorts of

Matthew Starner:

things? When when whether it's curiosities or the stuff that

Matthew Starner:

goes bump in the night? from a biblical perspective? What

Matthew Starner:

what's going on?

Rob Appold:

Yeah. Yeah, great questions. And one of the things

Rob Appold:

that is a bit of a mystery. So you know, as you talked about,

Rob Appold:

he told me we were going to be speaking a little bit I just did

Rob Appold:

look up, you know, has what, Are there ghosts in the Bible, and

Rob Appold:

the only reference would be Jesus walking on the water both

Rob Appold:

in Matthew, I believe it's 14 and Mark seven. The disciples

Rob Appold:

say he's a ghost. And now he gets in the boat. He doesn't

Rob Appold:

say, Dude, there is no such thing as ghosts. Nor does He

Rob Appold:

say. Don't do he just says he doesn't correct them. Yeah, he

Rob Appold:

just says I am and waves and comes a storm or, or brings

Rob Appold:

peace climbs in the boat with him. So that's

Matthew Starner:

interesting, cuz I don't think I don't think

Matthew Starner:

I've heard anybody really kind of press into that aspect of it.

Matthew Starner:

You know, usually it's that we move so fast from from them

Matthew Starner:

thinking that it's a ghost to Oh, nope, it's really just

Matthew Starner:

Jesus. And we don't really think about well, why did they think

Matthew Starner:

it was a ghost? And I mean, that, that clearly, it's like

Matthew Starner:

that was part of what they believed about the universe,

Matthew Starner:

that there's there is a spiritual realm.

Rob Appold:

Absolutely. Yeah. And the word of fantasy.

Rob Appold:

Fantasma is where we get phantom from. But, and that's the only

Rob Appold:

two places that word is used. But if you're knowing Mark five,

Rob Appold:

I don't think there's any equivalent is it's the demoniac

Rob Appold:

that lives on the tombs step. And that was certainly a realm

Rob Appold:

of the dead, this disembodied spirit that's still alive,

Rob Appold:

roaming around on, you know, making contact with living the

Rob Appold:

living world. Now, there is the spiritual world. And there is

Rob Appold:

the physical world. And from a biblical point of view, there is

Rob Appold:

a divide between the two.

Matthew Starner:

My, my, kind of, I don't know, if I even call

Matthew Starner:

it wisdom, but just sort of like response to folks when they when

Matthew Starner:

they talk about like, because I've had a couple couple

Matthew Starner:

families mentioned that they think they've got a loved one

Matthew Starner:

who's passed on who visits them, sort of a thing. And my response

Matthew Starner:

to that is to usually go to Jesus story in the Gospel of

Matthew Starner:

Luke, of the rich man and Lazarus, okay, passing away. And

Matthew Starner:

just as a quick summary, you know, the rich man, Lazarus,

Matthew Starner:

they die, they both kind of go off to their respective

Matthew Starner:

destinations, the rich man basically goes to like hell, as

Matthew Starner:

we would say, and is in torment there and wants, like, send

Matthew Starner:

somebody back to warn my family about this. And Abraham, who's,

Matthew Starner:

who's with Lazarus, on the other side of this divide says, No,

Matthew Starner:

you know, there's that's not that's not possible. You know,

Matthew Starner:

so it's, is it a loved one that's there? My thought my

Matthew Starner:

reaction I think in from Scripture is No, I don't think

Matthew Starner:

we have any word of God that promises us that our loved ones

Matthew Starner:

can, can interact with us once they have passed away. They're

Matthew Starner:

with Jesus.

Rob Appold:

Absolutely. And

Matthew Starner:

and they wouldn't, they wouldn't

Matthew Starner:

necessarily want to come back either there with Jesus, why,

Matthew Starner:

what better place to be right. We'll be there soon enough. And

Matthew Starner:

they don't need to come back here to visit us.

Rob Appold:

Thanks. And I wanted to make clear that we do mention

Rob Appold:

what Scripture definitely says because We're entering into a

Rob Appold:

area that's a little mysterious. I mean, we don't know some of

Rob Appold:

this stuff. Scripture definitely tells us that after death, you

Rob Appold:

know, the body goes to the grave, and the soul returns to

Rob Appold:

the Lord who made it. That part we know, the whole grandmas in

Rob Appold:

heaven looking down, that would be non biblical. I mean, I know

Rob Appold:

it's a source of comfort for a lot of people. But that would

Rob Appold:

not be biblical.

Matthew Starner:

Even. It's maybe unrelated to the ghosts

Matthew Starner:

side of things. But like I hear people talk about this kind of a

Matthew Starner:

common cultural thing of like, when a cardinal shows up, it's a

Matthew Starner:

loved one. Yeah. You know, and that's, that's not any, you

Matthew Starner:

know, that's just a burden. Yep. It's just a bird that's there to

Matthew Starner:

visit. Yeah. If it reminds you of your loved one thing, right?

Matthew Starner:

If that brings comfort, great, but it's not. Our trust isn't in

Matthew Starner:

the fact that that burns out, right.

Rob Appold:

And thank you for bringing up the Lazarus. And the

Rob Appold:

man does even have a name.

Matthew Starner:

And he doesn't. And I think that's one of the

Matthew Starner:

most important parts of that story is this rich man is just

Matthew Starner:

called Son. Yeah, by Abraham, where the the poor guy is

Matthew Starner:

actually given a name.

Rob Appold:

And the whole point of that, and there's a little

Rob Appold:

ambiguity in that is a surreal event, or is this a parable?

Rob Appold:

It's not called a parable. But it certainly reads like a

Rob Appold:

parable. The whole point of that is, you have Moses and the

Rob Appold:

prophets, you have the word of God, that's your surety, not

Rob Appold:

your feelings, or your, you know, delving into, you know,

Rob Appold:

spirit. Spirit matters. Yep. on that. So we're, we're told our

Rob Appold:

loved ones are in the hands of the Lord. And we're told

Rob Appold:

scripturally, don't dive into that stuff, right, and all the

Rob Appold:

warnings to not go into that, and not even follow that stuff.

Rob Appold:

So while it's a matter of curiosity, I think we have to

Rob Appold:

keep those, those foundations in tandem,

Matthew Starner:

and probably good to, to think about like, so

Matthew Starner:

it's not your loved one that's coming to visit you. But maybe

Matthew Starner:

it is still something. And that the something that it could be,

Matthew Starner:

is we know, in that spiritual realm that's out there, there

Matthew Starner:

are fallen angels, you know, Satan and his minions, that what

Matthew Starner:

one, they've had all sorts of time to learn human behavior, to

Matthew Starner:

learn how to imitate people. And so I think they could certainly

Matthew Starner:

pretend to be your loved one. And, you know, for the purpose

Matthew Starner:

of distracting us of pulling us away from what God would have us

Matthew Starner:

to be about, and to cause us to put our hope into something

Matthew Starner:

else. That's not God. You know, this, this hope of contacting

Matthew Starner:

our loved one again. And so I think that's where, like, you

Matthew Starner:

know, in Deuteronomy and Leviticus, some of these

Matthew Starner:

prohibitions against contacting the dead, it's not that it's

Matthew Starner:

impossible to do. It's that it's, it's looking to somebody

Matthew Starner:

other than God, for, for hope, for trust for information,

Matthew Starner:

whatever it is. And that's not where our hope should go.

Rob Appold:

Or you Lutheran or something. I mean, I did look up

Rob Appold:

what Martin Luther would have to say. And he, he believed there

Rob Appold:

were ghosts, but he he believed they were aberrations of Satan.

Rob Appold:

Oh, yeah. They were there to deceive or to pull people away

Rob Appold:

from from the truth and exactly what you said faith in Jesus

Rob Appold:

Christ and His promises. Which is was kind of an interesting I,

Rob Appold:

you know, I just wondered what what would he have Satcher? And

Matthew Starner:

back in a time where maybe people were a little

Matthew Starner:

more open to write a spiritual and Mullaghmore aware of that

Matthew Starner:

when I day, it feels to most modern people like a

Matthew Starner:

superstition to think about that stuff. But, you know, Bible is

Matthew Starner:

clear, it's real. And speaking of that, that's maybe a good

Matthew Starner:

segue into, I wanted to just kind of touch on one kind of

Matthew Starner:

Bible ghost story that folks might not be familiar with. It's

Matthew Starner:

kind of buried deep in the Old Testament in the book of First

Matthew Starner:

Samuel in chapter 28. Where I saw that the caption in most

Matthew Starner:

Bibles is Sol and the Witch of Endor. Yeah, which which sounds

Matthew Starner:

like a great science fiction movie. Or like another chapter

Matthew Starner:

for Harry Potter or something. But just sort of summary in this

Matthew Starner:

this story. The prophet Samuel has died. And Saul is looking

Matthew Starner:

for a word from God. He's he has like expelled all of the the

Matthew Starner:

witches, all of the mediums and stuff out of the country,

Rob Appold:

and the Bible makes clear the necromancers that

Rob Appold:

those who not means those who conjure up the dead. So this was

Rob Appold:

part of their culture. This was part of their is the Israelites

Rob Appold:

were never supposed to delve into it, but that they were in

Rob Appold:

the land that they were this was a known thing. As you read the

Rob Appold:

story, literally wasn't all that hard. Although he expelled them.

Rob Appold:

It was pretty easy for well, and it's all defined this person,

Matthew Starner:

you know, in the in the Old Testament law in

Matthew Starner:

Deuteronomy and Leviticus, those people were supposed to be put

Matthew Starner:

to death. Exactly. And he does. He just goes halfway and just

Matthew Starner:

kicks them out. Right? Well, it comes time where he he's looking

Matthew Starner:

for this word from God, he wants to inquire of the Prophet,

Matthew Starner:

there's no prophet now. And so he goes to find this

Matthew Starner:

Necromancer, this medium who can bring back Samuel, And so Saul,

Matthew Starner:

he disguises himself, he goes to this lady by night, and I'm just

Matthew Starner:

going to read a couple of verses here. This is starting at verse

Matthew Starner:

eight of chapter 28 At First Samuel, so Saul disguised

Matthew Starner:

himself, and he says, divine for me a spirit and bring up for me

Matthew Starner:

whomever I shall name for you. And the woman said, Surely you

Matthew Starner:

know what Saul has done. So she doesn't know that this is saw

Matthew Starner:

how he has cut off the mediums and the Necromancer is from the

Matthew Starner:

land. Why are you laying this trap for me to bring about my

Matthew Starner:

death, but Saul swore to her by the Lord is the Lord lives. No

Matthew Starner:

punishment shall come upon you for this thing.

Rob Appold:

The woman I love that. Right? He invokes God,

Rob Appold:

right?

Matthew Starner:

I'm about to do this thing that God has told us

Matthew Starner:

not to do

Rob Appold:

right explicitly. But yeah, yeah. Always an

Rob Appold:

interesting cat. Yeah.

Matthew Starner:

So the woman said, Whom shall I bring up for

Matthew Starner:

you? And he said, bring up Samuel for me. When the woman

Matthew Starner:

saw Samuel, she cried out with a loud voice. And the woman said

Matthew Starner:

to Saul, why have You deceived me? You are Sol so she

Matthew Starner:

recognizes now that you're the cat.

Rob Appold:

I wonder if even in the beginning, she was like some

Rob Appold:

cheesy mask or whatever he had. She knew it was all the time,

Rob Appold:

but

Matthew Starner:

the the eyeglasses with the nose and the

Matthew Starner:

mustache. And the king said, were to not be afraid. What do

Matthew Starner:

you see the woman said to saw I see a God coming up out of the

Matthew Starner:

earth. He said to her says I see a god. That's how the ESB puts

Matthew Starner:

us here, contrasting the lowercase g coming up on the

Matthew Starner:

earth. He said to her, what is his appearance, and she said, an

Matthew Starner:

old man coming up. And he's wrapped in a robe. And Saul knew

Matthew Starner:

that it was Samuel, and he bowed his face to the ground and paid

Matthew Starner:

homage. And then it goes on. There's a message that, that

Matthew Starner:

Samuel brings. But this is a kind of a puzzling story here.

Matthew Starner:

It kind of leaves us going, what happened? what actually did

Matthew Starner:

happen here? Did did Samuel come back from the dead? To speak to

Matthew Starner:

Saul? Is this a spirit impersonating Saul? Right? What

Matthew Starner:

have you thought about this before?

Rob Appold:

Well, as I read that, again, I thought it was

Rob Appold:

interesting. Saul does not exactly see Samuel, he sees it.

Rob Appold:

I don't know if the witch, you know, to kind of different, you

Rob Appold:

know, trans more channeling Maria, how did that word I think

Rob Appold:

that whole like the Oracle of Delphi, you know, in Greek

Rob Appold:

mythology, or that was a real thing. But if she kind of

Rob Appold:

channeled and became a different persona, but Saul certainly

Rob Appold:

believes it to be Samuel ours, hearing from Sam and the robe.

Rob Appold:

If, again, the preceding thing is Samuel rips the robe from

Rob Appold:

Saul. And this whole robe thing would be a trigger for for

Rob Appold:

Samuel or for Saul to recognize that Samuel, but I do think

Rob Appold:

Samuel speaks to Saul later, doesn't he? Does he speak to

Rob Appold:

later on in the verses? Yep.

Matthew Starner:

Yeah, just right after that Samuels says to

Matthew Starner:

Saul, why did he Why did you disturb me by bringing me up?

Matthew Starner:

Leave me alone. Basic. Yeah, yeah. Yeah, certainly the Bible.

Matthew Starner:

The Bible doesn't say that. Give us any indication that it's not

Matthew Starner:

Samuel. It presents it as Samuel. I think the fact that

Matthew Starner:

the woman really freaks out about this, like it almost leads

Matthew Starner:

you to think that this doesn't normally happen. Maybe she's a

Matthew Starner:

bit of a charlatan most of the time and now it actually

Matthew Starner:

somebody is coming back. This was unexpected for her.

Rob Appold:

I read that as saying it's true, and it it did

Rob Appold:

happen. But we're told you don't want to get into this stuff

Rob Appold:

because you're conjuring up forces powers that you are

Rob Appold:

beyond your

Matthew Starner:

grade. The message that's that Samuel

Matthew Starner:

Wright gives is not a hopeful message here. Oh, yeah. Doom,

Matthew Starner:

this is you know, the your enemies are going to overtake

Matthew Starner:

you. Right. And you will be delivered into their hands. And

Matthew Starner:

so it is a it's a message of judgment that he gets. Yeah, is

Matthew Starner:

this is it's it is very much presented. I think, you know,

Matthew Starner:

the the commentators are kind of split on it. But most modern

Matthew Starner:

commentators take this at its word that This is Samuel that

Matthew Starner:

God has allowed to come Back to speak to Saul here to bring this

Matthew Starner:

message of judgment. So, you know, I just bring it up as it's

Matthew Starner:

one of those stories we don't get to very often maybe give it

Matthew Starner:

a read in your Bible. Maybe Maybe if you've got like a study

Matthew Starner:

Bible or something, look, look at the notes there, see what it

Matthew Starner:

says? And, and, you know, maybe think about this a little bit,

Matthew Starner:

but also not something that taken as a lesson that it's not

Matthew Starner:

something that we want to get into. On our

Rob Appold:

Absolutely. Yeah, and the other part, I was gonna

Rob Appold:

say it's, you know, tsunamis brings disorder and chaos. And I

Rob Appold:

think this is an example or another negative example of

Rob Appold:

saying, you know, when we seek our own, you know, trying to get

Rob Appold:

the future. And this is what saw, he wants to know, is he

Rob Appold:

going to win the battle? Well, that's not for you to know,

Rob Appold:

Saul. But he's gonna go not in prayer to God, he's going to try

Rob Appold:

to get an answer from below from the dark power of life. And I

Rob Appold:

would say the, yeah, the Bible tells us there is that realm and

Rob Appold:

there is that world, it prohibits us from from falling

Rob Appold:

for it or seeking it. And it does tell us be weary of it. So

Rob Appold:

two things that, I would say, it is a reality, the dark world,

Rob Appold:

and not for us to go into. But the other extreme would be at

Rob Appold:

doesn't really exist. Just make sure to have it. And now, you

Rob Appold:

know, in our modern, you know, scientific mindset, that's a

Rob Appold:

bunch of Hocus Hokulea hokey stuff.

Matthew Starner:

Yep. So don't ignore it. But don't obsess over

Matthew Starner:

it, you know that it's there. But no, it's place right now

Matthew Starner:

that that dark world is conquered by Jesus.

Rob Appold:

Absolutely. And is a present threat. I mean, Paul

Rob Appold:

tells us our battles not against flesh and blood, but against

Rob Appold:

principalities and powers and whatever else he mentions. I

Rob Appold:

think that's Ephesians. Six. Yep.

Matthew Starner:

Yeah. Well, great. This is I think, has been

Matthew Starner:

a good conversation. And certainly one that if you've

Matthew Starner:

got, as you're listening along, if you've got questions about

Matthew Starner:

this sort of stuff, I know Pastor Rob and I are always

Matthew Starner:

happy to talk about matters of faith and whatever they are. So

Matthew Starner:

be sure to hit us a message or catch us at church and we'd be

Matthew Starner:

happy to talk about it. Thanks, Pastor Rob.

Matthew Starner:

We're back again for another segment of why we sing what we

Matthew Starner:

sing sitting here with Adam Vander stellt, our worship

Matthew Starner:

leader. And this week, I thought since Sunday is reformation.

Matthew Starner:

What better song to talk about then the the theme song of the

Matthew Starner:

Reformation? A mighty fortress is our God. Certainly the, if

Matthew Starner:

you're a Lutheran or any part of the reformed tradition, in the

Matthew Starner:

broadest sense of all the churches that grew out of the

Matthew Starner:

Reformation, you're probably familiar with this song I grew

Matthew Starner:

up at home and thought this, this might be a good one for us

Matthew Starner:

to look at today, because it's one that I think a lot of

Matthew Starner:

Christians know. But maybe not one that we've necessarily

Matthew Starner:

stopped to really think about what these lyrics are. Now,

Matthew Starner:

Adam, you were just before we we started recording here, you're

Matthew Starner:

just flipping through the Bible over there. Well, I

Adam VanderStelt:

remembered that I had read a little piece

Adam VanderStelt:

of something about the history of the song, and how Martin

Adam VanderStelt:

Luther had derived much of it from Psalm 46, which of course,

Adam VanderStelt:

says, God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in

Adam VanderStelt:

trouble. Therefore, we will not fear though the earth gives way

Adam VanderStelt:

though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,

Adam VanderStelt:

though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble and

Adam VanderStelt:

it's swelling. So God is our refuge and strength. And I think

Adam VanderStelt:

that was the line that Luther started with, when he wrote this

Adam VanderStelt:

song.

Matthew Starner:

Yeah, and you definitely hear that come

Matthew Starner:

through that first phrase there now? No, we were talking just

Matthew Starner:

the other day about this song. That there's there are a number

Matthew Starner:

of different let's call them translations of this song from

Matthew Starner:

the original German that Martin Luther wrote it in. So there's

Matthew Starner:

some variation in the lyrics depending on what church you go

Matthew Starner:

to even which hymnal you use. That's true. And in the hymnal

Matthew Starner:

in front of me here. There's even a variation between two

Matthew Starner:

versions that are in this hymnal let's right Yeah, so we're

Matthew Starner:

looking at the one that St. Matthew usually sings here which

Matthew Starner:

which begins with a mighty fortress is our God a sword and

Matthew Starner:

shield victorious the older language if you grew up with it

Matthew Starner:

was a bulwark never ever

Adam VanderStelt:

failing. That's the one I sang. Yeah.

Matthew Starner:

The the other version in here has a trusty

Matthew Starner:

shield and weapons and all of those you really getting at like

Matthew Starner:

God is God is our protector or God is our defender. There is

Matthew Starner:

that immovable pneus to God there, nothing is going to knock

Matthew Starner:

him down, so to speak. And one of the things that is always

Matthew Starner:

interesting to me about this song, so like as a, as a

Matthew Starner:

traditional church musician, and someone who puts those services

Matthew Starner:

together, regularly has for quite a while, like one of the

Matthew Starner:

things that people will do sometimes is you get these

Matthew Starner:

hymns. Now, A Mighty Fortress isn't one of these hymns, but

Matthew Starner:

you get these like 1214 Verse hymns, and you think, Okay,

Matthew Starner:

well, we got it, we got to cut these down a little bit for

Matthew Starner:

time. Don't want to don't want to wear anybody out singing

Matthew Starner:

these songs. And so sometimes you just sing like a verse of a

Matthew Starner:

song, or a couple of verses. Mm hmm. And A Mighty Fortress is

Matthew Starner:

not one of those songs that you can do that with but no, because

Matthew Starner:

when you go through a mighty fortress, just if you just take

Matthew Starner:

verse one, a mighty fortress is our God a sword and shield

Matthew Starner:

victorious. He breaks the cruel oppressors rod and wins

Matthew Starner:

salvation glorious. So so the first couple phrases there, it's

Matthew Starner:

all about God. Then Then he shifts here, the old satanic foe

Matthew Starner:

has sworn to work as well. So he's our enemy now. With craft

Matthew Starner:

and dreadful might, he armed himself to fight and on earth,

Matthew Starner:

he has no equal. So if you end if you've only seen verse one,

Matthew Starner:

the devil wins. Right? I mean, that's true. Yeah. So God's

Matthew Starner:

great and Satan's out to get us. Uh huh. That's verse one. Uh

Matthew Starner:

huh. So it's like, oh, you can't just stop with verse one. You

Matthew Starner:

got to you got to do the whole thing. No. So verse to you know,

Matthew Starner:

kind of builds off of that. So no strength of ours can match

Matthew Starner:

his might talk about Satan, we would be lost and rejected but

Matthew Starner:

now, but now a champion comes to fight who God himself elected.

Matthew Starner:

You ask who this may be the Lord of hosts is he Christ Jesus,

Matthew Starner:

mighty Lord, God's only Son adored, he holds the field

Matthew Starner:

victorious.

Adam VanderStelt:

Mm hmm.

Matthew Starner:

And so So right there, you'll make that great

Matthew Starner:

pivot to from we're in trouble. to Jesus. Jesus

Adam VanderStelt:

is here. He's our champion, right? Yeah.

Matthew Starner:

And and you get a little bit of that more still

Matthew Starner:

in verse three and four, right. So so we'll just you know, this

Matthew Starner:

isn't a long game. We can read through these here. So, so the

Matthew Starner:

hordes of devils feel fill the land all threatening to devour

Matthew Starner:

us. So, hordes of devils, man, maybe it's no coincidence that

Matthew Starner:

reformation is Halloween day, you know, same day, devils here.

Matthew Starner:

Good. Good reminder. Yeah. We tremble not we're not afraid. We

Matthew Starner:

tremble not unmoved. We stand they cannot overpower us. Let

Matthew Starner:

the world's tyrant rage in battle will engage his might is

Matthew Starner:

doomed to fail. God's judgment must prevail. One little word

Matthew Starner:

subdues him. And I love that phrase there. And I don't you

Matthew Starner:

know, I, I took a little bit of German in high school, I don't

Matthew Starner:

have the German of this verse in front of me. So I would assume

Matthew Starner:

this is a pretty close translation of what Luther had

Matthew Starner:

and and I just love that phrase of one little word. Yeah. And

Matthew Starner:

you know, in John one, in the beginning was the Word. You know

Matthew Starner:

that that one little word is Jesus. Mm hmm. And he is the one

Matthew Starner:

who subdues him.

Adam VanderStelt:

Hmm. And it's the

Matthew Starner:

word of his victory, the Word of His

Matthew Starner:

resurrection. And so maybe I'll just finish it out with that

Matthew Starner:

final verse there. Yeah.

Adam VanderStelt:

God's word forever shall abide. No thanks

Adam VanderStelt:

to foes who fear it. For God Himself fights by our side with

Adam VanderStelt:

weapons of the spirit. Were they to take our house goods honor

Adam VanderStelt:

child or spouse? The life be wrenched away, they cannot win

Adam VanderStelt:

the day that kingdoms ours forever. Wow.

Matthew Starner:

Right. Just like man, it's no wonder this is

Matthew Starner:

one of those enduring hymns. Yeah, that's really stuck around

Matthew Starner:

with us. I mean, for one, it's it's a, you know, memorable and

Matthew Starner:

very singable melody, but also just words that are so powerful,

Matthew Starner:

something that we need to remember all the time. You know,

Matthew Starner:

for those of you who are going to be around St. Matthew this

Matthew Starner:

weekend, especially the traditional service where we'll

Matthew Starner:

be singing this hymn, or you hear it out in about in the the

Matthew Starner:

weekend of reformation here. Really think about these words,

Matthew Starner:

think about those words of Psalm 46. God is our refuge and

Matthew Starner:

strength. And man, let that truth comfort you this

Matthew Starner:

reformation weekend, so Alright. Thanks, Adam. Thank you. Hello.

Matthew Starner:

Look forward to doing this again.

Matthew Starner:

Thanks for listening in today on all these great conversations.

Matthew Starner:

We'd love to hear from you as we continue this journey together.

Matthew Starner:

If you could rate and review us on whatever platform you're

Matthew Starner:

listening to us on that would help us out and help others find

Matthew Starner:

us. And if there's a topic you'd like us to talk about, let us

Matthew Starner:

know. You can email us at Media at St. Matthew gr.com. Thanks

Matthew Starner:

for listening and keep following Jesus together as we become

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