The anticipation has been mounting for weeks! Matthew is turning six and he can hardly wait for his birthday! He loves to call Grandma on the telephone, and each time he’s called these last few weeks his little voice just exuded excitement for the upcoming event. Birthdays are a HUGE deal at that age!
Finally one day, “Grandma! Guess what? I decided what kind of birthday party I want!”
“You did! What kind of party do you want?”
“I’m going to have a pirate party! Just like Petey Pickle! Mommy read me the Petey Pickle’s Pirate Party book and I decided to have a party like Petey’s!”
The “grandma” heart in me was getting a kick out of Matthew’s excitement, but the “author” heart was just tickled pink! I had written Petey Pickle’s Pirate Party for Matthew’s fourth birthday. Seeing the inspiration for his own pirate party coming from my book was a little boost to my ego.
“Well, that sounds exciting! I want to hear all about it!”
Matthew’s birthday isn’t until Tuesday but they had his party on Friday night with the Naranjo grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins all in attendance. They quickly Skyped with me before the guests arrived. Matthew was dressed in his pirate costume. He looked so cute! He had a red bandana tied around his head and a pirate hat on top of that. Of course he wore an eye patch and a hook over his hand. A hoop earring hung from one ear. Katie and Mandy had pirate hats, as well. Pirate decorations decorated the table, complete with little treasure chests filled with chocolate gold coins and other candy. Laurie had found a pirate face and Jolly Roger flag to decorate the two pans of tiramisu Matthew had requested for his birthday cake. It sure looked like fun to me!
What is the fascination little boys have with pirates, anyway? Or people of any age, for that matter? Look at the popularity of Pirates of the Caribbean. Matthew insisted he wanted to be called Captain Jack Sparrow at his party. Before Pirates of the Caribbean was Errol Flynn playing the swashbuckling Captain Blood, and Robert Louis Stevenson’s Long John Silver in Treasure Island. And most famous of them all, perhaps, at least to a little kid—Peter Pan’s Captain Hook! Real pirates, such as Blackbeard and Captain Kidd have captured the imagination and become legends. There is even an annual international “Talk Like a Pirate Day!” (In case you’d like to join in this year, it is on September 19th. Aargh!)
Yo ho! Yo ho! A pirate’s life for me! So, was it all that it’s cracked up to be? Piracy has been glamorized and glorified by Hollywood and books. In reality, a pirate’s life was terribly hard, often boring as they waited for something “exciting” to happen, and most pirates died young and virtually penniless. Whether it was from a storm at sea, hanging from the end of a rope, abandonment on a deserted island, torture, or at the point of a cutlass, death often came violently.
Pirates were not the romantic swashbucklers they were once portrayed to be. They were evil criminals, thieves, and plunderers who murdered, tortured and raped. Even those who were commissioned by their governments to commit acts of piracy (called privateers) against their enemies’ ships and ports were not above pillaging their own country’s ships or keeping back the ill-gotten loot they were supposed to turn over to the government. A little boy dressed up like a pirate is cute—the real bandits of the sea were anything but.
The Bible tells us that evil often disguises itself as something attractive and to be desired. Satan and his servants try to appear as “light.” For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds. (II Corinthians 11:13-15)
Jesus Himself gave us a warning in His sermon on the mount. Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. (Matthew 7:15-23)
Pirate ships usually flew the Jolly Roger in one form or another as a means of frightening their prey into surrender. Often though, they did not show their true colors at first. They would fly the flag of one nation or another until they had their unsuspecting victims within firing range, and then down would come the false colors and the Jolly Roger was hoisted to the top of the mast.
We must be on guard. Do not be deceived. The angel of light tries to turn good to evil and evil to good. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh. (Luke 6:45) Throughout the ages, from the Garden of Eden until now, Satan has tried to deceive men into foolishness and rebellion against God by making false teachings sound virtuous and right. The apostle Paul warned in Romans 16:17-18, Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them. For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting. Today we have not only false teachers of doctrine taking Scripture out of context and twisting it to suit their own purposes, but even society itself is turning on its head Biblical principles and the truths of God’s Word, calling those opposed to sin and an abomination to God bigots and haters, and proponents of unrighteousness living “politically correct.” The Bible says, Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; who substitute bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and clever in their own sight! (Isaiah 5:20-21).
We must not be deceived but discerning good from evil. When false teachings are disguised as good, and evil values are put forth as normal and right, if we know God’s Word and seek His wisdom, we will not be easily fooled. For the LORD gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding. He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk in integrity, Guarding the paths of justice, and He preserves the way of His godly ones. Then you will discern righteousness and justice and equity and every good course. For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul; Discretion will guard you, understanding will watch over you, To deliver you from the way of evil, from the man who speaks perverse things; From those who leave the paths of uprightness, to walk in the ways of darkness; (Proverbs 2:6-13) We are constantly battered today with evil ideology, philosophies and morality disguised as reasonable, just and good. We must be on guard with the wisdom and discernment of God’s Word.
Six-year-old Matthew’s imagination may be fascinated with Captain Hook, Jack Sparrow and Petey Pickle’s pirate party. Let us as mature believers, however, face the reality of evil and its never-ending assault by any means on good.