Could you be letting the past control your present?
In this episode, we discuss how the Bible is a love letter from a loving Father and not an indictment from a harsh, disappointed deity. As we continue to navigate through the contrasting themes in C.S. Lewis’s book, The Screwtape Letters, we venture into an examination of God's love for us and how it is undeniably different from the demonic relationship between Uncle Screwtape and his nephew Wormwood. It's not about feeling guilty or inadequate; it's about embracing our identity as beloved children of 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 lovely and beautiful Sherry Swalla. How are you doing today, sherry?Speaker 2:
I am doing great, and you know what, kara? I've been thinking a lot about the screw tape letters, and this is coming from somebody who, like I said, grudgingly read them because I didn't think I would like them. And now it's coming like just part of my everyday thought process, and one of the things that I keep thinking about is screw tape and how he keeps talking to Wormward and I God kind of reminded me that for the longest time, I think that I considered my relationship with God to be like screw tape and Wormward, where God was always upset with me, he was always irritated with me. I couldn't do anything right. Even when I tried to please him, I failed miserably, and that is just so. The opposite of the way our God is, and I don't think that I'm the only one that has feelings like that or thoughts about God like that. But I guess I wanted to start our podcast this morning with a. You know we talked about the challenge last week of just asking God you know, what is it that you want to show me today? What is it that you want to tell me today? Well, I think that we can expand that challenge to say, god, do I have a wrong image of you, do I have a wrong perception of you? And if I do, I would like you to take the month of August to change that for me. And that's kind of just where my mind has been this morning. So I thought I would share that with everybody.Speaker 1:
And what a beautiful thing to do. Right, it's like you know we were talking in the okay. Well, first let me welcome to the chair of podcast, to all of our new listeners who just now be tuning, who may just now be tuning in, and you're like what in the world are these ladies talking about screw tape? Like what? This is my first time listening to the podcast. We are talking this this is the chair of podcast which is based on John 16, the scripture, john 1633, and Sherry will be mentioning more about that wonderful scripture at the end of this episode. But when she was mentioning screw tape this summer, for the past couple of months and all the way from for June, july, august and September, we are covering a book called the screw tape letters. It is a book written by author CS Lewis, l-e-w-i-s. Some of you may know him from the Lion and Witch and a Wardrobe or Mirror Christianity, or just two of his most well-known books. But he also has a book out there called the screw tape letters, which was written in the 1940s, and we have been talking about it for the past couple of months and we will be ending it in September. But and it is a book, it's called the screw tape letters because it is about Uncle Screwtape writing letters to his nephew Wormwood. Screwtape is a demon, a demon at a higher level than his nephew Wormwood. Wormwood is like a new demon. He's just very new on the scene, basically, and Uncle Screwtape is trying to show him the ropes by writing him letters, and so that's what the book is about and that's what she was referring to about Uncle's when she was talking about screwtape. The book the screw tape letters is about 31 letters and Uncle Screwtape is trying to talk to his nephew Wormwood about how to handle his assignment. His assignment is a new, is a human who is new to the faith of Christianity. It's a male and about his 30s or so and, as Sherry had just mentioned, it is just definitely, when you look at the dynamic between Uncle Demon and Nephew Demon, it is definitely not the same that we have with God, not at all. So thank you, sherry, for sharing that and I just love the challenge and something she mentioned about just having that ongoing dialogue with God just in the everyday and because our conversations with God, you know, and actually you know, as we're talking about letters, god has written us letters. We're talking about the screw tape letters to where a higher level demon is writing letters to a lower level demon. But that is so not the case in the letters that God has sent us, which is his word. We have wonderful, wonderful, wonderful, and we call it the Bible. It is his holy word. It is all these love letters to us, in a way, and just his way of just telling us hey, you may want to be aware of this, or you know, this is how much I love you, and these are some of the things that happen, and I'm telling you this for this reason and everything else. So it's kind of hard for us to forget, isn't it, sherry? That God has written us letters as well.Speaker 2:
Absolutely, and I'm reading this book right now. It's a book about friendship, but it keeps talking about and it keeps highlighting different stories in the Bible. It keeps talking about how pretty much well, everybody in the Bible, except for Jesus, everybody in the Bible is flawed, and it talks about how God uses the flawed and how God uses the imperfect. And again it's such a and I know that the screw tape letters is fiction and the Bible is real, but it is such a contrast between the way that screw tape and, even though the screw tape letters is fiction, you can read about the enemy in the Bible, and that is true and that is real, and it talks about how the enemy prowls around like a roaring lion seeking whom he can devour sorry, and so. So again it talks about the whole screw tape rumor thing where, where world could never please screw tape. We could never please the enemy. He could feed us all kinds of lies and he can pretend to make us. You know that we think that we're the next best thing to slice bread, but we will never, ever please him. The only way that he would be happy with us quote unquote happy is when we are miserable and when we have failed and when we have well taken abate. He said for us, right, taken abate and going to hell Like that. Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, that we would be that we would please him, and even then he's not going to be pleased forever. So when you, when you talk about the Bible and the letters, it's just like you said. I mean it's even more than love letters, If there's even anything more than a love letter. Like God, God accepts us for who we are. God wants to help us change. We don't have to change in order to be good enough to be with God, and God's love is all encompassing, and the Bible is just such a beautiful, beautiful depiction of that and it's just such a major contrast to what we're studying in the street.Speaker 1:
Take letters it is a very stark start, startling and stark. In contrast, you know, it's just very, very it's the same and it just shows you how when someone loves you and want the best for you, and when someone could really care less because you're doomed regardless and they just really want the worst for you, and the perfect example of that. Well, today, in today's episode, we are going to be discussing letters 14 and 15 in the book of the screw tape letters and previous episode.Speaker 2:
Before you jump into that, I just want to say one more thing, and that is the length that God goes to to save us and to show us how much he loves us. I, I just want everybody, all of our listeners, to be able to grasp that, and you will find that in the Bible.Speaker 1:
Oh, absolutely If you don't know the Lord, just give him a chance. Just reach out to him and say God, I heard on his podcast that you love me. Can you show me? I'm reaching out to you, tell me what I need to do, talk to me, show me your love and watch God answer and you will know exactly what Sherry was just talking about the depth of his love there and Sherry will be able to explain more about that, too at the end of this episode. And for those of you who are just tuning in, we have been covering we are calling this the Summer Series the book of the school tape letters. We've been covering for June, july, august and we'll go into September, and we're just calling it the Summer Series. But we have already went through previously letters 1 through 13,. Letters 1 through 13. So please go back and listen to those previous episodes about the different topics that we've covered. Regarding the school tape letters, again, we're not covering the entire reading the book per se. On the podcast. We're going over the major topics that are discussed in each letter, and so so many topics have already been we've covered about how the enemy likes to manipulate a person into doing things that they shouldn't do for the whole purpose of just going, of making sure that they go to hell, whether they're Christian or not. So if you would like to listen to all of those previous episodes, then please just go back and listen to those, but you really, really want to listen to the very first episode and that would be the first episode in June and I believe that episode was available on June 7th and it is entitled why Read the Screwtape Letters. But in that particular episode we went through a whole lot of scriptures in the Bible. In those love letters Sherry was just talking about, we went through all of that, tons of scriptures on demons, because the screw tape letters focuses on these two demons, uncle Screwtape and his nephew Wormwood and it's how we went through the scriptures that talked about the reality of demons, the hierarchy of demons, who demons are, what is their purpose and the biblical perspective on demons. And we gave all of those scripture references and we went into a little bit more in depth regarding that in the letters that God has given us in his Bible. So you definitely want to listen to the June 7th episode if you have questions and for those who would like to discuss this more in depth and you're like. Well, karen, sherry, I have things I want to add. I love the screw tape letters and there's things I'd like to share as well. Then let us know. You can use an email at the Cheer Up podcast at gmailcom and just let us know that. And if we get at least 10 people, we will start a live Twitter space to where we will be able to, all of us together, be able to discuss it in a live setting some of the topics that are discussed in the book. So, but we would like to receive at least 10 people that would want to be able to do that so we can open up a live Twitter space. We will show the date and time when we actually get those responses. So, like I said previously, we have went through letters 1 through 13. Today we are in this episode. We are going to cover letters 14 and 15 of the screw tape letters by CS Lewis, and the topics that pretty much are covered in this, in these episodes, are humility and the subject of the past, the present and the future and eternity. And letter 14, he's talking about humility. Uncle Screwtape is telling his nephew Wormwood how to turn the Christian that he's been assigned to new found humility into something bad. Right, humility is the opposite of pride and arrogance. And the Christian that his nephew Wormwood has been assigned to has found this new humility in his walk, his faith walk or his life walk and the things that he's learning on this new Christian journey. And Uncle Screwtape is not happy about that. He's like how in the world did you let this happen and everything else. But again, like I always tell you, nephew Wormwood, that all is not lost, we can somehow use this for our good. What we need to do is turn this new humility he has, this humbleness, this loneliness that he has, into something the opposite. So let him still be humble, but let him take pride in that humbleness and that humility. Does that make sense to you, sherry?Speaker 2:
Oh, absolutely. And it's so easy to do, especially if you're just not. If you're, if you're letting yourself be compliant or complacent, if you're letting yourself just get lazy instead of staying intentional, it's so easy to flip into that slippery slope. It's all it takes is a comment here. That isn't that you ignore the conviction of the Holy Spirit on. Or you're tired or you let your guard down and before you know it you can be in that judgmental phase or mindset instead of humility.Speaker 1:
Absolutely. You know, and one of the I'm going to sum up a quick quote that Uncle Scrutte wrote to his nephew Wormwood about humility. He pretty much is saying God wants to bring the man to a state of mind in which he could design the best cathedral in the world and know it to be the best cathedral in the world and rejoicing the fact that it is the best cathedral in the world. But God designs him to be able to do that and be able to know all of that without being any more or less or otherwise glad at having it done than if someone else did it, meaning we're like, wow, that is so cool, I just built that cathedral, that is so good. But then if it was just your neighbor who did it, you still be as excited, you still be as glad, right? Because you really know it's not you, they did it. It's the gift that God has given you to be able to do it right? So whether it's your neighbor who does it or a relative who does it, you'll be just as glad if you did it as if someone else did it. And, like you were saying, it's so easy to turn something like that on its head and when you're walking in that type of humility and, as a Christian, I think it becomes a little bit. It becomes natural, right, spiritually natural, the closer you have, a more deeper, intimate relationship with the Lord. But that doesn't mean that we are not going to be tempted for it to do exactly like, sherry, like you just said. For instance, humility, it's like, for instance, someone who's humble may be, someone who prays on their knees every morning before when they get up, and they pray on their knees every night before they go to bed. But then they could be talking to someone and they're just like oh, I pray before when I wake up in the morning and I pray, you know, when I go to bed too, but I just don't do it on my knees Now. And the enemy could turn that into something like oh, my goodness, they don't bow when they pray, they don't get on their knees, they don't put themselves low before the Lord. How dare they? Oh, and they call themselves a Christian. You see how easy that is, sherry, and that's kind of what you were talking about. Exactly, exactly it is, and it's like you take something that is right for you and then you try to be. It turns the enemy, it turns it into a self-righteousness, almost, or like an act of something, and you're just like, all of a sudden, you find yourself looking down on people instead of just being grateful that you're healthy enough and able still to be able to get down on your knees. You know what I'm saying and that is something that the Lord has laid you to do, but now, all of a sudden, you're judging other people by it. So if we're not careful and if we're not being intentional and I walk with the Lord on a daily basis it is so easy to fall into that false humility trap, right, and we don't even think anything of it. We just like well, I'm humble. Why can't they be humble? You know, but you're automatically producing like a judgment on them and you don't even realize that you're doing it. And I think so many times we just we don't realize that we're doing it without even knowing that we're doing it. And we just need to be very, very careful that we're not allowing a beautiful gift of humility that comes so naturally with Christians who, I believe, just have a wonderful relationship with the Lord. And you know, are certain points in a Christian walk. We don't want the enemy to turn it into something that it's not and I believe, and for those who would like to know more about the Bible, says about humility. Check out the scripture of Ephesians 4-2. Is that right, sherry? Was it Ephesians 4-2? Yep, where it talks more about humility. And I believe also in the book of Mark, chapter 12, verses 30 through 31, I believe also talks about humility. For those who would like to know how to recognize true humility, true humbleness, humility is like a derivative of the word humbleness or humble, and like true humbleness and lowliness and a false version of it, because we just have to always be careful that sometimes we need to walk that very fine line. In letters 15, excuse me, letter 15 of the school tape letters, the topic is pretty much talking about the past, present and future, the past, present, future and eternity and basically, in this case, school tape wants his nephew Wormwood to direct his human mind and attention to the past, which is gone. Of course the past has already happened or have an anxiety about the future. But he does not want him to let his patient focus on the present, because the strategy is to get him to be afraid of what's going to happen in the future or sad and mad and resentful of things that have happened in the past which he obviously cannot longer change. But he definitely doesn't want him to just focus on the future and he says something like Wormwood we want a man to be ridden by the future, haunted by visions of an imminent heaven or hell upon earth ready to break. And we need him ready to break God's command in the present If by doing so, we make him think he can attain one or the other dependent for his faith or on the success of his failures of schemes whom he will not live to see. So basically he's just kind of saying get him so we're afraid of the future, of what may happen on the future. What if? What if this happens? What if that happened? Oh, my goodness, what if that happens? And then what are we going to do? What am I going to do? What is the world going to do? Get him so focused and anxious on the future, or get him pretty just ridden with guilt about the past or regrets and everything else, anything and everything except getting him to focus on the present, because when he focuses on the present he may actually realize what a gift it is. So I can see that being a very, very subtle but yet very effective strategy. What are your thoughts on that, sherry?Speaker 2:
Oh, absolutely. And I think that that's one of the reasons why we have the challenge this month, because we're challenging people to be intentional about the here and now instead of living in the past or afraid of the future. And I know I myself just like having to take my thoughts captive, choosing worship music when I bake or when I'm doing. You know, if I'm not having a conversation with my family while we're painting our deck or something, having worship music on so that I'm focusing my attention on God or having a intentional conversation with him while I'm focusing on doing whatever you know mindless jobs that I'm doing. I think that, yes, I think that that's a very strong ploy of the enemy to get people to go down that rabbit trail and really it does not serve any purpose, any good purpose, to dwell on the past or to worry about the future, because more likely, 99% of what we worry about won't happen. Absolutely Right. And if you think about the past and if there's a way that you can then use it for good of how have I grown, how will I not make that mistake again? But most of the time when people talk about or think about the past, they're not thinking about it in that avenue. I know. Last year myself, god was really growing me in certain areas of my life, and so I was really struggling with the whole. Why didn't I know this 24 years ago? My life would have been so much better if God had woken me up 24 years ago, instead of when he woke me up now and I had to shift my thinking, because going down that thought process was not doing anything good for me. It was just putting me in a state of depression and instead I had to say thank you, lord, that you woke me up now, instead of 10 years from now or 20 years from now. Obviously, I wasn't ready to hear it. I wasn't ready to see it. Looking back, I could see where God had tried to show me earlier and I just didn't get it, and I had to resolve that within myself that you know what that's okay. I wasn't ready, but I'm ready now. I know how to do it now and the progress is going to go faster because I'm ready. So it's a journey. It's a journey, yes exactly. Yes, exactly, and so I think it's really important that, when we start to go down that rabbit trail, that we stop ourselves and we thank Him for the gift of now and of knowing better now, the maturity that comes with age and life experiences. And I think that we need to stick with being intentional about nowadays and the present and what God wants us to do from here on out, what you need to confess from the past and let it go. They say that the that's why the rear view mirror is so much smaller than the windshield in front of us, because we're supposed to focus on what we're doing right now and not focus so much on the past. There's nothing you can do to change the past unless you can apologize or make amends, and then you need to just let it go and you need to trust. I mean, I think of Paul Anytime I think about my past and I have regrets about my past. I think about the apostle Paul in the Bible and how he murdered people. He murdered Christians, and now he's a believer. And there's so many people that don't even want to believe that he's a real believer because they're scared of him. They're like, oh, he's just trying to infiltrate us so he can murder us. Well, sure, I would feel the exact same way, but he kept saying I know that I was bad, but you know what? I'm not going to focus on the fact of what I did before. I'm going to instead focus my attention on what I'm doing for God now, and that is what we need to focus on. What can I do for God now, instead of what did I do in the past that I hate about myself? What can I do for God now as a thank you, lord, for fixing me, for rescuing me, for redeeming me from the past that I used to have?Speaker 1:
Absolutely. And you know, I remember reading somewhere where someone had someone was accusing, reminding them of their past. You know, pretty much like, how dare you try to preach to me or do something like this? You think I don't know you, you think I don't know what you did, who you did it with and why you did it, and you know things like that. And the person, the thing was pretty much like well, yeah, but I am not that person anymore. I don't even know what you're talking about. Right, because when God forgives us, the East is as far as from the West. It is completely forgiven. In Paul's case, he got an actual new name, right, right, he was Saul and then he became Paul. Now, in today's society, we don't necessarily have that luxury to just be able to go and I'll change our name. I mean, we could, legally, if we wanted to, and actually probably wouldn't be a bad idea, to help us remind us of who we are in Christ. Right, but and you know, but most of the Christians today, we don't go and we don't necessarily change our name. You know when we be, you know, become a believer or whatnot, but it doesn't, it doesn't change the fact that it's still the same. We're not that person anymore. People would try to bring it back up and be like what do you mean? Yes, you were. You know, I was there. I got pictures of some video tape, you know. And you're like, I'm so not that person anymore. I don't even live there anymore. I don't know what you're talking about and and in a case and you're not trying to be a flippant You're just like I don't need that person you talk about, I don't even recognize them, right, because you know, if you've ever looked at past pictures and you see yourself and you're like who is that person? Like, was that me? Like I can't even recognize that. And so we just have to be careful that and, like Sherry said, if the past is Something that you're regretting or something like that, you know, make what should have been a tombstone in your life into a stepping stone and Use those things to help guide you in the future, to help you along your journey and help others along the way, because it could be such a huge blessing. And Sometimes we're like Paul and we're just like kept the constantly reminding people that I am not that person anymore, and we could say it all day long and twice on Sunday. But you know what's going to convince them your actions that you showing, that is showing you. The reason people came to trust Paul was because he no longer went around killing them, killing Christians. He wasn't there to do that. And as our actions is what eventually will show people, to get people to trust us again, especially if we were known for doing some very nefarious things. And and regarding the future, I think we all should be able to just ask God and say Lord, what is it that I'm afraid of? And help me with that fear? And In today's society, we have to be careful with that. I know a lot of Christians who just will not watch the news because it's just so dystopic in nature. You know, it's like the sky is falling, everything's gray, everything's. You know it's almost like you're watching life in black and white right, but a sad black and white film, you know, and it just looks like it's going to get worse and we just have to Be aware of what's going on With. I'll be an effect hit by what's going on. For instance, if the news is saying oh, my goodness, all these things are failing this bank, that bank, this bank, that bank, use golly wisdom and be like, wow, I'm glad I know that we have a lot of funds in that bank. Since it looked like it's not going to be a solvent Within the next year, it may, it's going to be wise for us to take our funds out of that bank and put it into another one. That is wisdom and Doing it and having guide, guide you the whole way. Fear is when it's like, oh, my goodness, it's all gonna fall, we're going to be broke, they're going to take all our money, we're. What are we going to do then? Where we go, how we're going to survive, where we're going to live, or we all going to end up homeless, you know, and things like that. They kind of attacks you, you know, and just makes you just fear everything. Oh, then if banks go down? And what about food? Is there gonna be a food source shortage, you know? Oh, what about medicines? Is there going to be a medicine shortage? Well, probably all those things are going to happen, but there's no need to be afraid and if you are sure those things with the Lord, we are to carry burdens to him. What are your thoughts on that? Sharing?Speaker 2:
Oh, absolutely. And you know, for me, absolutely meaning everything that you said for me. When I used to live in fear 24-7, I could tell, because I would get this pit in my stomach, and I am somebody who struggles with food issues, and so I always knew that I was really, really worried when I couldn't eat, when I lost my appetite. And the way that I can tell that God has really healed me and really worked with me in this area is that now, when I hear troubling news, yes, it might still bother me, I might be like, like you said, hmm, I need to be wise, I need to ask God what we need to do in this situation, but I don't get that Pit in my stomach anymore. I don't get that. I don't know what we're going to do. Type of a feeling anymore, and it's, it's huge, it's a wonderful, wonderful it's just. It's reinforcing to me that he's growing me in that area. Does it mean I'm never afraid? No, but I know, and I've learned to take it to him right away instead of Doing on it and thinking that I have to fix it or thinking that it's hopeless and nobody can fix it. I remind myself that none of this is new to him, that none of this is a surprise to him, and that he knew about this before I was even born. So he's got it and all I have to do is just wait, be wise, pay attention, and he'll tell me what to do. And on that note, I think that we I Think that we're going to wrap up today, because next week we're going to start talking about churches and gluttony, and those are the next two chapters and I'm really excited to delve into those as well. But John 1633 says these things I have spoken to you that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world. When we talk about fear and the fear of the future, that is such a good verse to have, because God doesn't just ideally say things. When he says something, he means it, and if Jesus says that In him we can have peace, then we can bank on the fact that in him we can have peace, and it doesn't matter if we were living in the Roman times, back when he was alive, or if we're living in 2050 or in 2023. God's got us and we can rest in that assurance. And, as we've been talking about the month of August, go to God. Like Kara said, he knows that you're scared already. He knows what you're scared of better than you do. You might just know that you're scared, but you might not have any idea of what exactly you're afraid of. Ask him. He'll tell you. God wants nothing more than to have that personal relationship with you and to have those conversations. He wants us to want him. If you are listening to the podcast and you don't really know what it means to have a relationship with God, but you want to there's something pulling at you saying I want what they have, but I don't even really completely know what that is, and I'm going to invite you to say this prayer along with me and ask Jesus to receive Jesus into your heart. Pray and receive Jesus into your heart. So if you pray this prayer and you believe in your heart what you're praying, then the Bible reassures us that you will be saved. So if that is you and you want to pray this with us, then I encourage you to pray this prayer right now. Oh heavenly Father, I come to you in Jesus' name. I believe you died on the cross and that you rose again and you're stated on the throne. Jesus, forgive me for all that I've done wrong, and I too to forgive all others. Come into my life today and forever. I am yours in Jesus' name. Amen, and I want to say welcome to the family. If you just prayed that prayer, please email us at pureuppodcastcom and let us know that you made that decision, that you are now a child of God. If you want to learn how to grow in your relationship with God, we encourage you to seek out a Bible-Blooming Church, or you can head over to my website and you can look at the Jesus in the Everyday, monthly Membership. It was created to help people grow their relationship with God, whether you've been a believer for 15 years, whether you just became a believer today. It was created with that in mind. So you can head over to Sherry Swalwell, c-h-e-r-i-s-w-a-l-w-e-l-lcom, and you can check that out as a resource. If that's something that you're interested in, head over to CARES website, also CAREAHUNTcom, and you can find out about the Habakkuk Series. If you like to read about real life things and if you like to grow in your faith through fiction, biblical fiction, check out the Habakkuk Series. It has won more awards than Well let me just put it this way it just keeps winning awards. That's probably the best way that I should say it is. Her books keep winning awards because they are that good. So I would encourage you to check them out. Have a great rest of your day today, have a wonderful August and keep up that conversation with God. We will talk to you next week as we continue the series on the screen-tape letters.