Feb 18, 2014

Screwtape on Smart Phones - A Modern Attempt at a C.S. Lewis Classic

I am sure that most of you have heard of The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. The book is a series of letters written from the perspective of Screwtape, an officer of some sort in the army of the evil one, as he mentors another minion named Wormwood. If you haven’t read the book it is excellent and does a wonderful job of opening our eyes to the temptations that may come our way. 
I have been pondering for a year or so how to write about the subject of stewardship and finances in an interesting way. You may have read the series of articles from the perspective of a $100 bill. You can check those out here. After recently reading a few more letters from C.S. Lewis’s book I had to try my hand at his style using a modern day struggle as we steward our time and relationships.

You stated in your last letter that your patient has downloaded a Bible application on his smart phone.  I can understand your concern that the words of The Enemy are more accessible now than ever before.  You can imagine the fright that we had when the printing press came about in 1450 and Bibles began being scattered to the ends of the earth.  We had the same scare with the advent of the internet and mass digital printing.  You need not fret, Wormwood.  This new technology is no different from the old.  While the words of The Enemy are more accessible today than any other time in history, the distractions are greater than ever as well.  We have combatted the influence of the Bible with direct mailings, romance novels and monthly magazine subscriptions.  We infiltrated the internet with every sort of trap imaginable; some of our best work has been brought about through this technology.  Anything to distract the humans.  
Although the Bible application will be in the patient's hands at all times, we need only to encourage the constant distraction and his desire to put his new device to work in every way possible.  If the device is as handy as we have heard, your patient will have so many applications that he won’t be able to find the Bible in all the mess.  You may even be able to convince him that it is old fashioned and irrelevant in this modern age.
You also mentioned your troubles with his relationships on social media.  There is no need for concern here.  These are not real relationships but only surface connections.  You see, all humans are built to be connected--they thrive in real relationship.  The Enemy reveals all of those nasty habits--love, joy, peace and so on--when the humans are in relationships.  This device may be just the ticket we need to win the war for Our Father Below.  Encourage your subject to desire these surface relationships.  When he sees the pictures of other’s possessions, lifestyles or appearances he will covet them and feel inadequate and empty.  Encourage him to “pin” or to “like” all the earthly things he wants.  Even though your subject doesn’t have the resources to buy these things he will be pinning these temporal pleasures to his heart, planting the seed of discontentment.  Once the seed takes root, the device will provide everything it needs to flourish and grow.  We can use any distraction to conceal the danger of your subject reading the Word of the Enemy.  If we can keep him out of that book we can keep him from sanctification, from wisdom, and maybe even pull the subject’s heart and loyalty away from The Enemy.
Most importantly, encourage your subject to use his new smart phone regularly.  When he travels, make sure that it itches in his pocket to come out and be useful to him.  This will keep him from the divine appointments that The Enemy has for him.  When he has a free second, help him feel drawn to the device so that he may forget how to sit and be still.  When his family is present, divert his eyes to the screen thereby shutting them out as well.
You will recall that The Enemy has said, “Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring?  Can a fig tree bear olives or a grapevine bear figs?  Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.”  It won’t take much for us to ruin all of the redeeming qualities of this device for the Christian.  As long as you can keep the subject distracted with these temporal things you have no need to worry.  There is no age that can resist this device and while it is not evil in itself, we can use it as a weed to choke our patient.
The Enemy would have your subject refocus from the temporal things to eternal things.  Once that happens our cause is lost.  This device is your ticket.  Use every opportunity to choke out the Word of the Enemy and the love of others so that the patient remains fixated on the distractions.  This is your chance to fill his life up with enough temporal pleasure and longing that he will never see beyond the moment or ever be satisfied. 

Feb 14, 2014

“Miracle on the Hudson” Memories and a Challenge to Live Differently

Watch the video on Youtube here: http://youtu.be/8_zk2DpgLCs

It has been just over five years since “The Miracle on the Hudson.”  Flight 1549 lost power in both engines and was forced to make an emergency landing on the wintery waters of the Hudson River. Everyone survived the landing and I couldn’t help but share the story of one survivor and the things he learned from his experience.  What a great TED talk!

Ric Elias says, “I was given the gift of a miracle, of not dying that day.  I was given another gift which was to be able to see into the future and come back and live differently.”

Ric Elias says that everything was changed in an instant. “I collect bad wines ‘cause if the wine is ready and the person is there, I’m opening it.  I no longer want to postpone anything in life.”  I loved this comment.  It reminded me of the story in John 12 when Mary pours expensive perfume on Jesus feet.  The passage says that Judas, who carried the money bag, and took from it whenever he pleased, criticized Mary and suggested that the perfume could have been sold.  Mary knew how important her time was with Christ.  What a beautiful image Ric portrays, encouraging that we use what we have to build relationships now.

“I regretted the time I wasted in things that did not matter, with people that matter.”  Ric went on to talk about how he has worked to get rid of negative energy in his marriage and with his kids, and wraps up his brief talk by emphasizing the importance of being a good dad.

I have to admit, this video woke me up a bit.  I’m guilty of putting things that don’t matter in front of people that do.  I think we all are.  The Bible is pretty clear that there are a few things that are eternal, primarily the Word of God and people.  The Bible also warns us against getting too hung up on the temporal things that fade away.

It is easy for the worries of this world and the allure of more money and stuff to choke out what matters most.  What a blessing that Ric was willing to share his story and to challenge us to embrace what matters now, before it’s too late.

Ric wraps up with this challenge:

Imagine if this happened to you.

How would you change?

What would you get done that you are waiting to get done because you think you will be here forever?

How would you change your relationships and the negative energy in them?

More than anything, are you being the best parent you can?
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