The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis

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Screwtape is a demon and he is writing letters to his nephew, Wormwood.  The letters are meant to help Wormwood, who is fresh out of Tempter’s College, in his endeavors to prevent people from becoming Christians.  In the end Wormwood fails and is eaten by the more successful demons.

The advice given by Screwtape was potentially effective, but it was also subtle.

  • Church members can be used to keep people away from the Gospel, especially if they behave rudely or practice immorality.
  • Family discord, lack of self-examination, and critical thoughts toward others will promote a self-righteous attitude.
  • Keep people away from prayer or have them use memorized superficial prayers that can be repeated without meaning.
  • Keep people focused on themselves and their own problems to promote selfishness and prevent charitable behavior.
  • Keep people focused on personal feelings.
  • Teach people to reverence religious objects, so the object replaces God.
  • Teach people to view the past as happy and peaceful.  Teach them to view the future with dread and hopelessness, so they will believe not even God can save them from certain destruction.
  • Create anxiety to prevent people from focusing on God.
  • Promote hatred for those who are different from them and hatred for enemies.
  • Promote malice towards the people around them and keep benevolence out of their minds.
  • Increase temptation during times of struggle, so sin appears to be the best way to elevate depression and inner turmoil.
  • If people desire to attend church, help them find one that focuses solely on friendship and self-help topics.
  • Teach people to live two parallel lives.  Sunday is for church, but during the rest of the week there is no thought of God.  This will allow them to live in sin, but still feel self-righteous.
  • Lull people into the path of wickedness, “Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one – the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.”
  • Don’t allow people to be rooted in a church, “if a man can’t be cured of church going, the next best thing is to send him all over the neighborhood looking for the church that ‘suits’ him until he becomes a taster or connoisseur of churches.”
  • Promote discord in the church, so the members are arguing over petty things, then they will be unable to teach the gospel with any effectiveness.
  • Encourage false spirituality among the people.

 

The Walk by Stephen Smallman

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I just finished reading “The Walk” by Stephen Smallman.  The book was easy read, yet full of valuable information.  It is designed to help people learn how to be a disciple of Christ.

A few of the main points:

  • A disciple is a follower of Jesus, not just in word, but in action as well.
  • The local church is essential for spiritual support, education, and direction for serving others.
  • Salvation comes when we repent and have faith in Jesus.  We turn away from our sin and turn toward Jesus.
  • We are justified or declared righteous by God and our sins are forgiven.
  • Sanctification is the work of God in us.  We are renewed in the image of God and strive to reject sin in favor of righteousness.

This book is a great resources for new believers or those who want to know more about Christianity.

Sinners Wanted (Matthew 9:9-13)

Matthew was a corrupt tax collector and  Jesus called Matthew to follow him.  Matthew agreed, so they went to Matthew’s house.  Matthew invited other tax collectors and sinners to join him and Jesus for a meal.

When the Pharisees saw Jesus at Matthew’s house, they asked the disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”  (ESV)

Jesus answered their question by saying, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.  Go and learn what this means.  I desire mercy and not sacrifice.  For I come not to call the righteous, but sinners.” (ESV)

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Jesus was not impressed with the self-righteous attitude of the Pharisees.  He also had no desire to help them justify their feelings of superiority.

According to Jesus, he came to heal the sick and to save sinners.  I find a lot of comfort in this passage.  At times, I feel guilty for sins I committed.  However, I know Jesus will not forsake me.  Actually, I am the type of person he came to save.

Authority to Forgive (Matthew 9:1-8)

Matthew 9:1-8

And behold, some people brought to him a paralytic, lying on a bed.  And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.”  And behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.”  But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts?  For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’?  But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he then said to the paralytic—“Rise, pick up your bed and go home.”  And he rose and went home.  When the crowds saw it, they were afraid, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to men. (ESV)

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In this section of scripture we read about Jesus healing the paralytic and we also learn more about the mission of Jesus.

Jesus has the authority to forgive sins.  That means Jesus has the ability and the power to forgive our sins, to cancel out debts, and to pardon us for our transgressions.  We are released from the prison of sin.  We are set free by Jesus.

Crazy Bible Story

The story of Abram and Sarai in Egypt is found in Genesis 12:10-20.  Here is a quick summery.

Abram and Sarai went to Egypt to escape the famine in their home land.

Sarai was so beautiful, Abram was afraid Pharaoh would kill him and take Sarai to be his wife.  Abram decided to tell everyone Sarai was his sister, so he would be rewarded and given gifts from Pharaoh.  Sarai agreed and went along with the plan.

Pharaoh took Sarai as his wife, but God cursed Pharaoh for doing it.  When Pharaoh discovered Abraham had lied and Sarai was really Abram’s wife, he was angry and sent them away.  However, he let Abram keep the gifts and would not allow anyone to hurt them.

This story sounds a bit crazy.  Basically, you have a man agreeing to let another man take his wife, because he was afraid of being killed.  The wife agrees and leaves her husband for the other man.  God was angry about the situation, so God sent a curse on the house of Pharaoh.

Most would see Abram’s actions as evil, yet God was willing to forgive Abram and continued to bless him.

What are we to learn from such a crazy scenario?

I think we can learn:

  • Nobody is perfect, even those who follow God will behave in a sinful manner from time to time
  • God forgives those who continue to follow Him

What do you think about the story?