Carrier, Politics, and Screwtape

I was on a roll and then I quit posting. Why don’t we get this thing going again with some miscellaneous items? Did anyone else watch Carrier? I gave you a heads up about it last month. If you missed it you can watch a lot of clips at the website. A film crew embedded on the USS Nimitz for a full deployment. I have been enthralled. I’d love to hear from those of you who can speak with experience. How fair of a representation is it? I find it convincing, but what do I know? I love that you get a glimpse of all the different types of people who live on this floating city. It really shows how different people experience Navy life differently. Seems like so much depends on where you’re coming from and what your attitude is. So did you watch it? Maybe you’re thinking to yourself, “Why would I want to watch what I do at work?” Rachel feels that way about watching medical shows. I’ve never seen a reality show based on a minister’s life. Because, well, how fun could it be to watch a minister write a sermon? Not exactly a ratings bonanza. Anyhow, let me hear from you if you’ve been watching. Also, for all of you current issues/politics folks, I just listened to an episode of Speaking of Faith that features a discussion between three very different evangelical leaders about faith and politics. How should we as Christians engage in the political arena? Chuck Colson, Greg Boyd and Shane Claiborne have their disagreements (one is a pacifist, another worked in the Nixon administration), but they manage to have a very considerate and thoughtful discussion. Give it a listen. You can download the podcast, listen to, or watch their discussion at the Speaking of Faith website. I’ll probably talk more about it at a later date. And I’m probably going to share one of Shane Claiborne’s anecdotes from the discussion on Sunday morning. Finally, I just rediscovered this quote from C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters. You’ll recall it’s a fictional (of course) correspondence between an older managing demon and his apprentice/nephew demon about how to best tempt a man to stray. Here he is talking about how useful it is to tempt humans to spend a lot of time worrying about the future or the past and very little time living in the present:
He (God) does not want men to give the Future their hearts, to place their treasure in it. We do. His ideal is a man who, having worked all day for the good of posterity…washes his mind of the whole subject, commits the issue to Heaven and returns at once to the patience or gratitude determined by the moment that is passing over him. But we want a man hagridden by the Future—haunted by visions of an imminent heaven or hell upon earth—ready to break the Enemy’s (God’s) commands in the Present if by so doing we make him think he can attain the one or avert the other.
May God give us this day our daily bread. And may we see what a blessing it is.

Spare Some Change?

This Sunday I’m beginning a series on our theme/mission: “Changing Lives Through Jesus.” And, once again, I find myself frustrated with the concept of preaching. Every once in a while I think about it and it strikes me as bizarre that I stand in front of you for twenty or so minutes and tell you what I think. Refresh my memory, why do we care what I think again?

I’m especially feeling it with this theme. It just seems like, in my life, this idea of “Changing lives” is in real danger of being little more than a slogan. Every advertiser in the world says that their product is life-changing. Certainly Jesus changes lives on a deeper level than, say, shampoo or floor cleaner or power tools. So help me think about this. Here are some questions I want you to think about and answer.

  • How has Jesus changed your life? Really, how has knowing Jesus made a difference to you? What are you today that you would not have been had you not come to know Jesus?
  • How is Jesus changing your life today? Where are you feeling the call to “higher ground” in your life? What aspects do you feel Jesus challenging you to change?
  • How do you resist this change? This one is for the courageous of heart. How do you dig in your heels with Jesus? How do you resist making your life different? Why?
  • What gives you the courage to let Jesus change your life? What is it that finally brings you around?
  • How do you feel God calling this church to change? Is there some place you feel that he’s leading us?
  • What ways can we be sharing this with each other? What forums can we be using? This blog has great potential, but what other media could we be using?

I just want to have an authentic conversation about what we really mean when we talk about “Changing Lives Through Jesus.” So help me out! I talk to myself enough as it is. Throw in your 2 bits. Actually, it’s most important that you ask the questions for yourself. Then if you choose to share what you come up with that would be even better. I hope to hear from a lot of you.  You can post a comment here.  You can send an email to  You can just tell me about it.  As always, anything you email me or tell me will not be used in a public arena unless I get your permission first.

On a totally unrelated subject: I’ve been telling some of you about “Carrier,” a documentary airing on PBS at the end of the month. Basically a film crew embeds on the USS Nimitz for a full deployment, and we get to follow various people and hear their stories. The reason I’m talking it up is because I want to hear from those of you who have first hand experience. How close are they? Where do they miss it?

If you have some free time next week, there will be two free screenings of it here in Hampton Roads. The producers will be there. You can go here for more information on the screenings.  For a preview of the show, click here.