Have you ever wondered how your friendships could be affecting your spiritual journey? On this episode of the Cheer UP! Podcast we embark on a thought-provoking exploration of toxic friendships and their detrimental effects on our spiritual growth. The enemy often leverages these negative relationships to create a divide between us and God. Together, we scrutinize the subtle ways the enemy lures us into nurturing these toxic relationships and how we can avoid falling into this trap.
We continue to dive into these discussions using CS Lewis’ insightful book - The Screwtape Letters, inviting you to join us on this intellectual journey.
The episode wouldn't be complete without touching upon the challenges we often face and how they can affect our relationship with God. We talk about the perilous slide into sin, the cunning deceits of Satan, and the utmost importance of placing our trust in God. In moments of temptation, we stress the importance of listening to the Holy Spirit and making Godly choices, encouraging you to prioritize your relationship with God above all else. As we conclude, we leave you with the comforting thought of how God can replace your worries with peace, joy, and hope even amidst trials and tribulations. Join us as we continue our conversation on finding fulfillment in God.
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Hi and welcome to the Cheer Up Podcast. I am your host, kara R Hunt, and with me is the beautifully talented and skilled and lovely author and speaker, sherry Swalwell. How are you doing today, sherry?Speaker 2:
I am doing great, except that I'm kind of sad that it's the end of July already. I keep telling myself I won't be and then I'm going to live intentionally. But as much as I love fall and I truly, truly, truly love fall there's just something about the end of summer that just makes me sad. And you know what, sometimes you just kind of embrace this bad, and that's okay.Speaker 1:
You know what, and I look forward to the end of July because, unlike you, who's an early summer baby, my birthday is in late summer, so that means August is my entire birthday month. So when I see it end of July, I'm like, yay, birthday month. So that is one thing I've always looked to about August, and when I was a kid it worked out great because we didn't start school back until September. But nowadays I understand, they're starting a lot earlier than that.Speaker 2:
You know, I think once we get past the school age, I think I'm going to love August and September even more. But right now it's just the dreading getting up early and I love pick up and drop off. Don't get me wrong, it's to me that's one of my favorite times of the day. I think I just need to figure out a different schedule so I have more wiggle room, and then I think that I will love every season just as much as the other seasons. So I just need to get wiggle room in my schedule.Speaker 1:
There we go. Oh yeah, I don't know what it's like. I'm just solving of my problems, right? So, and I don't know, and it's just various stages of life, right?Speaker 2:
It's just very stages.Speaker 1:
Yeah, you know, some have kids coming out of college, others going into, you know, some finishing high school, you're not going to do something else. And then there's those with the younger ones. You know where. You just have to be a lot more hands-on. So, but I thought I would dread the day my teens were sort of driving, but you know what. Oh, my goodness, it was such a blessing. It was such a blessing, yep.Speaker 2:
I love that I have adult children that still live, Some of them well. They live in the house part-time, not full-time, necessarily.Speaker 1:
And I love. I love being able to say, hey, can you help me out with this, because there's just too many things to do, too many, not enough hours in the day, and it's nice to be able to depend on somebody to just help out when I need to be four places at once and I just can't, right, yeah.Speaker 1:
And it just helps so much. And welcome to the Toronto Black Hat everyone. And I am sure that there are some of you out there in your nation who probably can really really connect with, like what Sherry is saying, like in her stage of life. Both of my sons are adults, so you know, I no longer have to, you know, deal with the school issue, but a lot of you might, and you may, I'm pretty sure you can connect with her so much on that level of how much, how consuming sometimes that can be, especially now where it seems like even nationwide, there's just such a shortage of bus drivers that a lot more parents are going to take their kids to school, and so if you'd like to chat with Sherry or talk with her more about that, just send an email to the CheerUp Podcast at gmailcom that's cheeruppodcastatgmailcom and also send us an email if you would like for us to start a Twitter space for the topics we have been discussing the past eight or nine weeks I believe so now, and we have been discussing the book CS Lewis, the school tape letters by CS Lewis, l-e-w-i-s. And if you have enjoyed it and you're like, hey, I got some insights and commentary, I really like to talk to you guys more about this, like live, then let us know. Also, send us an email at cheeruppodcast at gmailcom, and if we get at least 10 people that say yes, they would like to do a Twitter space and gather and talk you know everyone with Sherry and I, then that is definitely something that we will be able to do and that we will put on our schedule. So I just wanted to throw that out there. So, for those of you who may just not be joining for the first time, for the past couple of weeks and until the end of September, we are doing a summer series and it is called the school tape letters series. We are covering the topics slash letters that are covered in the book, excuse me, in the book, the book the school tape letters by CS Lewis. Cs Lewis, l-e-w-i-s is the author. The name of the book is the school tape letters. It is a piece of classic literature. It was written back in. I published, I think, in 1941. And we are just, but it covers so many topics that are so relevant to everything that is going on today in our world, in our society and in our culture. If you would like to listen to Our introduction to this book and all of the biblical foundations for the topics we are discussing, because the screw-taped letters deal with demons and demonic activity and how they affect the Christian, and if you want to know more information about demons, then please listen to the episode that was uploaded on June 7. That is when we discussed that and we gave tons of biblical scriptures and we answered questions about demons and everything else. More importantly, we gave you the scriptures for you to study and everything so that you will be able to delve more into the world about demons and the like. So, again, that was the June 7 episode, and then the weeks after that we covered letters 1 through 9, I believe, and so in this episode we are going to cover letters 10 and 11 and the screw-taped letters by C S Lewis. The book has 31 letters and so today we are covering letters 10 and 11. And the topics that screw-taped is talking about with his nephew Wormwood are bad friends and laughter With bad friends. His uncle's screw-taped is excited when his nephew Wormwood shares with him that there are some very crazy not crazy, but what's the word I want to use Immoral, ethical type people, but definitely not God-like people, that have entered his Christian life. Uncle Wormwood has been assigned a Christian who is a new believer, and uncle's screw-taped is mentoring him on how to manipulate that believer and deceive him to where he doesn't become a part of God's kingdom but a part of Satan's as well. What a part of Satan's is dead. And so when uncle's screw-taped finds out, oh wow, he has these new friends. Huh, wow, that could be very interesting. This could be effective, because this can help lead your new Christian into having a double life, you know, one at church and one with his new friends that are obviously not going to church. And he said this is great, because all mortals tend to turn into the thing that they are pretending to be. What is your experience of bad friends, sherry?Speaker 2:
Well, I am loving talking about this topic because I just was having a conversation with somebody the other day, so my son showed me. One of my sons showed me a video on YouTube or whatever, I don't know. I don't know where he found it, but anyway it was a clip from an old TV show called John and Kate Plus 8. I love anything to do with babies, anything to do with family, anything to do with any of that kind of stuff. And back when my kids were younger, I used to go work out downstairs in the basement and I would watch this show John and Kate Plus 8. Well, it was a great show. They had eight kids. Two were twins and six were sub-tuplets, and they were babies. And I thought, oh my gosh, I would love to have that challenge to be able to, you know, take care of all these babies all the time, blah, blah blah. But anyway, the point of the show, or one of the things I think that people were drawn into the show about, was Kate was horrible. She treated her husband terribly Well. This clip that my son showed me was her and him sitting on the couch being interviewed by the producers and she turned to him and she said will you stop breathing? You are breathing so loud. And then she like makes these facial grimaces and she like mocks him on TV. I remember way back when. I actually remember that episode. I remember her doing it. But I remember way back, when God, like, spoke to me. He convicted me and he said Sherry, you are starting to act like her. You can either continue to watch this show and become Kate to your family, or you can turn it off and say the person that you truly are. And it really, really shows me, highlighted to me in a very real way, how susceptible I am to outside influences. And ever since then I have used the scripture, philippians 418 or I believe it is, or 4-8,. Whatever is true, whatever is holy, whatever is just, whatever is admirable some these things and I therefore for myself. My rule for me is I am very careful about the music I listen to. The books that I read I will only read Christian books, true crime and memoirs and then Christian nonfiction, and I do that on purpose, because I need to guard my heart. So I'm very careful with what I watch, who I follow on social media I was following this. He was a pastor or is currently a pastor, I guess but he has been doing some very controversial things and I have had to check in my spirit that I need to distance myself from him. So I had to ask my kid how to unfollow, because I'm kind of dumb when it comes to social media, but I had to unfollow him in order to stay pure. I had to unfollow some other people that were more secular, but still they were touting messages that just were not lining up with what I wanted to live like, because I noticed that I am a very I'm influenced easily, more easily than I want to be, and I want to make sure that I am living a genuine, authentic life.Speaker 1:
Absolutely, and it's so funny when you were mentioning the Johnny and Kate issue because I remember too when it first came out, and I'm like this is so much fun, Like all those beautiful babies you know, and that's the draw, right, you're like, oh my goodness, but how in the world are you going to handle all those kids? So you tune in and you look and you're like doing it. But that relationship was very, very toxic. My reaction to her saying that is a little bit different than yours. I'm more of an inquisitor type person. So when she says something like I'm like oh, that was me, like that was hard, but what right? But what would make her say something like that? What is you know? And I'm saying my mind is like trying to self analyze or Kate analyze, kate right, like you know those types of things. This don't happen, right, those type of things built up over time for you to be able to say something like that. So there was obviously another story there and I think we need to be that way with our friends, because when you constantly have a friend and I think I remember someone, maybe a couple of years ago, mentioning something about a friend that just constantly, one way or another, put them down right, and it's like it wasn't one time, you know, it wasn't like a sub other tongue, even I don't think that really could happen in a lot of cases regarding friends, but it was just more of like, and I guess it was becoming more all the time type of thing. You know, and I'm saying to where it was just there, was I like had something negative to say, um, but something along those lines that I can't remember none of the exact details right now, which is probably a good thing, but we've all probably. Let me just sum it up by saying this way we probably all have had a friend like that to, where they were really good and brilliant first, but then maybe after a year or two, they start saying those night and mean things to us, you know, and we're like is that person good for me? Like, do they really have my best interest in mind? And we have to evaluate their relationship. And it's probably been friends that we've known for years that may come to you and you know they may be into something that may not necessarily be a sin, but it's too tempting for you, right? So it's, for instance, if I was a struggling alcoholic and I had friends who constantly loved beer and they brought beer around me and wine, and they not only brought it around me but they were tempting me to take part, okay, though that is kind of like what screw tape is talking about Friends to where you can be one place at church and you're just kind of like, oh hey, everything's good, everything's fine. Then you hang out with these friends and you're you're giving into the temptation to something that you know you have had strong problems within the past and have led you to do very ungodly and immoral and unethical and sinful things. And it is best for us to keep in mind that that is exactly what the enemy wants to do. He wants us to nourish those type of friendships, the bad type of friendships, so that we ourselves can get, can allow the enemy's claws to get deeper and deeper into our souls and our spirit. And letter 11 talks about laughter, which ties in with the bad friends part. But you know he says that there's a way. He just talks about laughter and he's talking about, you know, there's a way to where you can use this friend to have them, you know, laugh at people and or things and become a scoffer and become mocker and ridicule people and scorn people because of their beliefs, and which is something that Uncle Scrutate was pretty sure these new friends will be able to help nephew wormwood's new Christian patient do and he's like you know, yes, you know, we, you know, get him into looking down on people and having, um, uh, nose up in the air when it comes to like certain people. And you know they, just, you know, become scoffers and markers and ridiculers and scorners. And you know, because of someone's beliefs or the way they look, or because the way they don't look or they're not, they're not, um, wealthy enough or fashionable enough, or they're not as good looking, or you know they're too fat or too big or too tall or too small. And he's like, yes, encourage this relationship, have your, your Christian, human and uh, really fall in love with these new groups of friends because they are going to help us secure his path to hell. Basically is what it was talking about. So, um it it, sherry, what do you think about that? And what Uncle Scrutate was pretty much telling Uncle Wormwood is like keep those friends around. That that you know cause you to look down on others.Speaker 2:
I yeah, Um, one of the things that that I want to, that I'm wondering if people are when they listened to the, to our discussion. When we say on the path to hell, if you're a born again believer, then you're. And by born again believer, by Christ follower, true Christ follower, I mean someone who has prayed the prayer, who has submitted and surrendered their life to God and who wants to do life God's way. You have surrendered your will, your desires, your selfishness, and you're saying not my will but God's will. So if you are a true born again believer, then you are, you're saved and you are going to heaven. Can Satan still tempt you? Absolutely. Can Satan still cause you to sin? Can Satan still cause you to sin? He can sure do everything in his power to try to get you to sin. Are you going to be perfect? Absolutely not. But I just want to make sure that everybody understands that if you are a born again believer already, then your price has been paid by Jesus Christ and God sees our sin through the saved and redeemed blood of Jesus. So if you, if you pray that prayer, have the reassurance that you are going to heaven, but you also have the Holy Spirit living inside of you working, nudging, convicting you to work on those different areas of your life that need work, and this is one of those areas that needs work. If you are not, if you've never prayed that prayer and you've not surrendered your life to God, and you are on the path to hell. No matter how righteous or good, or how many great choices you make, you're still a sinner, and sinners go to hell if they don't submit and surrender their lives to God. So, having said all that, yes, I completely agree with you, Kara, that it just keeps going back to that slippery slope. He just keeps. I mean, we are going to be tempted and he, he has enough demons around us. They can't hear our thoughts, so when we're thinking something, he can't hear that. But we, as humans, we live a lifestyle that he can observe. The demons can observe us, they do observe us, and they're pretty darn smart. So they, they study us and they find our way.Speaker 1:
They've had thousands of years to perfect it.Speaker 2:
Absolutely. And they, they, they target our weaknesses and when we're weak and when we're emotionally depleted. And I mean society. Well, satan has, has used society for years and he has gotten us to the place where, like I said, we don't rest anymore. We are always on the go. So we're mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually exhausted, unless we are intentional to take care of our bodies, take care of our minds, take care of our souls, um and so, like you said, he's at thousands of years to perfect it, and humans are, are pretty predictable. So what, what? For what? He has like five different tricks, but and I don't know what they are, but he has like for me, my weaknesses are, um, my health, my family, Um, I used to be gripped in fear. He knew how to get me, and it's only through my relationship with God, trusting God, learning how to trust God, wanting to trust God. But he that that fear doesn't have a hold on me like it used to anymore. So it all goes back to God is greater. God is greater than anything that Satan can give us. But on our own, we will fail every single time. With God and his strengths, we will be more than conquerors. So I guess I just wanted to really encourage people along those lines today, that I just don't want anybody to think that that you're going to hell if you slip up, but you're a Christian.Speaker 1:
If you are a true Christ, you'll go to hell if you let him pull him away from the, from your relationship with God.Speaker 2:
Right, yes, but if you're a true not strengthening it, not strengthening it, but actually pull your weight from it I'm sorry, go ahead and share it.Speaker 2:
No, exactly. So if you, if you are a true Christ follower and you are listening to the Holy Spirit and you are keeping your, your heart, soft and you are keeping growing. If you because my pastor, he always says you are one step away from drawing closer to God and you're no sorry, you're one choice away from growing closer to God and you're one choice away from drifting further from God. Every day we need to wake up with the mindset of I am choosing Christ, I am choosing God, and I, this summer I don't know like God gives me different seasons and the season that I'm in right now there are so many things that I had been praying for and so many things that I am waiting to see God show up and show off in my life and I have faith that he's going to. When I don't know how it's going to look, I don't know, probably very different than what I'm imagining. But I have come to the conclusion this summer and it really brings me peace is that I have a choice, I can. So let's take the whole food thing, because that's an easy one for me. So well, I mean, it's a struggle for me, but it's an easy example. So I have let's just say I have a doughnut in front of me, I'm already full, I've already eaten. There's nothing wrong with eating a doughnut, except if I'm eating it for the wrong reasons. If I'm eating it to pacify myself or soothe myself instead of going to God, then yes, that's wrong. But if I'm eating it because I'm hungry and I'm celebrating something, there's nothing wrong with a doughnut. But I'm just using a doughnut as an example. I would much rather choose God's best for my life, even if that means saying no to that doughnut, which doughnuts for me are like the epitome. I love doughnuts. Knowing that I'm in God's will, knowing that that's the best for me, then choosing that doughnut and choosing what I know is not the best for me or not God's best for me, and I think I really had to grow as a Christian in order to get to that place. And so let me translate that to other things. Say I have a ministry opportunity and I am so excited about it and I think that it's going to be amazing. But God says, sherry, I don't want you to do that. That's not my heart for you. I want you to do this instead of focusing on green. I think that your ministry and your personality is going to be much better with black windows. I would much rather pursue the black windows, knowing that's God's best yes for me, than pursue the green windows, because that's what I want and I'm more comfortable with the color green than I am with the color black. Does that make sense? Like that is the kind of relationship that we should strive for to stay off of the pre-slope and to continue to grow our relationship closer to God so that we hear his voice louder than we hear the demon.Speaker 1:
Or the scoffers, or the mockers, or the lagers Agreed yes.Speaker 2:
Agreed, yep. Anything else that you want to say before we wrap it up, kara?Speaker 1:
No, just well, you know what I always say no, jess, right.Speaker 2:
So yeah, I guess I do.Speaker 1:
It just dawned on me how silly that sounded. But just echoing everything that you have said and then just adding on what Uncle Screwtape was telling nephew Wormwood you know, these friends are really bad for him and they're going to have him looking down on people and everything else. They're going to encourage him to do all these other things and mock people and stuff like that. It feels good sometimes to look down on other people and it gives you pleasure because you know why. Because you're not looking at yourself. You're so busy looking at the flaws of everyone else, you're not looking at yourself. And that is one of the slippery slopes that I really sure was talking about. We just got to be very, very careful to avoid that, because it can be slippery and it can be real slippery and it can slide you way down to a pit, to where you never, ever thought you'd be.Speaker 2:
Absolutely, absolutely, and I think that none of us really all who are Christ followers, all who truly love God and want to serve Him with our whole heart, none of us want to do that. So I think that's why we have to look at this, create a clean heart, oh God, and renew a right clear within me. I think we need to constantly search me, oh God, and know my ways, try me. I think we need to constantly have that attitude of okay, lord, what do you need to do today? What do you need to work at in my life? And help me to be vulnerable and soft enough so that I'm willing to do the work. I'm willing to do the 10 minutes of clean up and the 10 minutes of maintenance every day, instead of waiting until I need to rent that dumpster. It's more expensive, it's harder, and life is just so much better when we stay in tune with Him.Speaker 1:
It truly is.Speaker 2:
Next week we start August already. Which happy birthday to you. Not next week, but happy birthday August month.Speaker 1:
I'm going to stop this.Speaker 2:
Our oldest was born in August too, so I do have happy memories of August. I wish that it just didn't go so fast. It just seems to just fly. But next week we're going to talk about nothing and personal pleasure. So yes, I did say nothing. But then we're going to talk about something, the something of nothing and personal pleasure. So do you need prayer or encouragement? Head over to the Tira podcast at gmailcom and drop us an email. We love to pray with our listeners. We love to make new friends. We also head over to the Facebook group. I've been forgetting to talk about that. That is Tira podcast on Facebook. We love adding new members to that. You don't have to answer any questions. You don't have to be approved. Just jump on in and start talking. You can start your own discussions too. Peace out. We look forward to meeting you and getting to know you over there as well. Jesus told us these things. I have spoken to you that in me you may have to. In the world you will have tribulations, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world. You know, kara, I know that we started this podcast two and a half years ago to be an encouragement to other people, but I have to tell you, being reminded of that verse week after week after week is an encouragement to me. We can have good cheer, because he has already overcome the world. He has overcome each and every decision I mean, sorry each and every topic, each and every chapter that we've been talking about this summer and he's going to continue to overcome. We in ourselves are powerless, but in him he's already won as far as the any kind of superhero. When my kids were little, I used to always say don't worry, the bad guys always lose, the good guys always win. Well, that's the way it is in life too. It looks right now like the bad guys are winning, but the fight is not over. God wins in the end and we who are his children win with him, not in our own strength, definitely not in our own strength, but definitely in his strength. Head over to Kara's website, karaourfrontcom. Check out all the greatest and greatest new, wonderful things over there, and head over to my website, kariqwellwellcom. If you are interested in growing your relationship in your pace, your time, I would encourage you to check out the Jesus in the Everyday Membership $9.99 a month, nice and affordable, less than well, way less than a dollar a day. I don't even know what it is. I have to figure out my math. I'm horrible with math. I'll work on that, but check it out, because it's one way for you to stay off of that slippery slope. It's one way for you to stay submitted, have a soft heart and growing that relationship with God. Nice and easy 10 minutes a day but it keeps you in the Word, it keeps you with your focus on the Holy Spirit, on God, the Father, on Jesus Christ, and there's no place I would rather be than with him front and center in my thoughts, in my mind, and praising him throughout the day. And it doesn't have to get weird and it doesn't have to look weird. It's just natural and that's the cool thing about it is that a relationship with God is natural and it brings joy. It brings the joy and the peace and the hope that we're always talking about. Does that mean that every single day we feel it? When we're going through trials and tribulations, you're lying, yes, but there's also a time to grieve. There's also a time to give our cares over to God, and it's okay to feel heavy and oppressed every once in a while. Give it over to him and he will replace that with peace and joy and hope, because our God, the Creator of the universe, loves us so much he wants us to give him every single care that we have. Thank you for listening, thank you for being with us on this journey through the Screwtape letters, and again next week we're going to talk about Nothing and Personal Pleasure, and I cannot wait for Kara and I to continue that conversation next week. So have a great rest of your week. This week it's just the August ahead of time, and we will talk to you next week.