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Tradition says the Halloween “Jack-o-Lantern” gets it’s name from an old Irish story about a drunkard called “Stingy Jack.”

According to one version of the story, which has many variations, on October 31st, Stingy Jack was being chased by some villagers for stealing. It was his time to die and because of his wicked life he was going to hell. But he offered the devil an opportunity to create chaos and distrust in the whole village if the devil would free him for a year. The devil, gleeful at any opportunity to cause conflict and destroy relationships, agreed to hear Stingy Jack’s plan.

You want to know what his plan was?

Since the devil could turn into any shape, the devil would turn himself into a coin and Stingy Jack would use the coin to pay for the things he had stolen. Later the devil could change back to his original shape and the villagers would accuse each other and fight over who had stolen the coin.

The devil agreed to the plan, but when he changed into the coin, Stingy Jack dropped the coin into his pocket next to a cross he had stolen from the village. The devil was powerless next to the cross and couldn’t change back into his original form. Stingy jack eventually freed the devil, but only after the devil agreed not to bother him for a whole year.

The next year, the Devil met Stingy Jack walking on a country road and told him that he was there to collect his soul. Jack, pretended he was ready to go, but asked the Devil if he would grant him one last wish. Would he climb an apple tree and get him an apple? The Devil, thinking it was a small request in exchange for Stingy Jack’s soul agreed.

Jack pointed to an apple at the top of the tree and the devil began to climb. But just as he reached for the apple, Stingy Jack pulled out his knife and quickly carved the sign of the cross in the tree’s trunk. Again, powerless before the cross, the Devil was unable to come back down from the tree. Stingy Jack, very proud of himself made the Devil promise to never again ask him for his soul. Seeing no other choice the Devil reluctantly agreed.

Later, Stingy Jack died. But when he knocked on the heavenly gates he was not allowed inside because of his wicked life. But the devil, because of his promise not to take his soul, also refused to let Stingy Jack enter hell.

Being unable to go to heaven or hell Jack asked the Devil where he should go. The Devil only replied, “Back where you came from!” The way back was very dark so Jack begged the Devil to at least give him a light to find his way. So the Devil tossed Jack a hot burning coal from the fires of hell to light his way.

Jack put the coal into a carved-out turnip and has been roaming the earth ever since.

The Irish referred to him as “Jack of the Lantern,” and later, just “Jack O’ Lantern.” After a while, the Irish began to carve scary faces into potatoes and turnips and place them in windows and doorways to frighten away Stingy Jack and other roaming spirits. When they came to the United States, they discovered pumpkins were much more suitable for jack-O-lanterns since they were softer and easier to carve than the turnips and potatoes of their Irish homeland.

You don’t need a pumpkin to scare away evil spirits. And you don’t need the light of a jack-o-lantern to light your way. Jesus the light of the world has come to you!

Your name might not be Stingy Jack, but the Bible tells us that no one is worthy to get into heaven. (Romans 3:23)

And while you can’t make a deal with the devil, Jesus has already made a deal on your behalf. He exchanged his life for yours that you might receive eternal life. (Romans 6:23) And the devil is still powerless next to the cross where Jesus gave his life for yours!

You don’t need to wander the earth, fearful about whether or not you will get into heaven or afraid the devil will get your soul. You can know for certain you will go to heaven. (1 John 5:12-13, John 14:6)

All you need to do is confess your sin, believe in Jesus, and trust him with your life. (Romans 10:9)

Looking for some icebreakers? My eBook, “IceBreakers Ahead: Take It to the Next Level” found at
not only provides 52 of the most world’s popular group icebreaker activities, but also includes life changing lesson ideas and questions to smoothly transition into discussions about issues common to most groups.


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