Tag Archives: hope

The Hunger Games meets Screwtape

Gratitude looks to the Past and love to the Present; fear… looks ahead.”  Screwtape

The Hunger Games and Screwtape

Max McLean as C.S. Lewis' "Screwtape"

Recently I saw an amazing performance of the classic C.S. Lewis novel, The Screwtape Letters. The play, brilliantly performed by award winning actor Max McLean, follows the schemes and thinking of a demon named Screwtape. The story is based on a view of spiritual warfare from a Hell’s point of view as told to a Junior Devil.

So, a few days later as I sat in the movie theater watching The Hunger Games, I was thinking of the psychology of evil. More particularly, the lies and temptations wrought by the Evil One.  I couldn’t help but view President Snow as the Devil himself, a schemer.

The strategy of Screwtape and the artfully manipulative plans of President Snow seemed eerily similar. Much as Screwtape offered careful advice to his protégé, Wormwood, so too we see President Snow mentoring his henchman, Seneca. In a scene that was particularly “Screwtape-ish” we hear the genius of evil:

“…why do we have a winner?” President Snow asks Seneca.  Then Snow answers his own question, “Hope.”

Hope?” Seneca replies slightly bewildered.

Hope, it is the only thing stronger than fear. A little hope is effective, a lot of hope is dangerous,” Snow declares.

Spark is fine, as long as it’s contained. So, contain it,” Snow warns.

I wanted to stand up during the movie and yell, “Did you hear that!”

I wanted to stop the movie and talk about hope and fear. Moreover, I wanted to yell at the Devil and say, “You can’t contain it!  You tried. You scattered the followers of Jesus Christ and watched them hide in fear on that dark Friday. You laughed when they brutally executed Him and put Him in a tomb. Ha! You thought you had contained Hope. You lose!” Continue reading The Hunger Games meets Screwtape

Simple Sabbath — Because We Fail

I fail. I have failed. I will fail.

 As people we fail; as friends we fail; as a spouse we fail. Failure is in us and all around us.

Phil Mickelson, golf

Misery loves company – – – Or so I’ve heard. I do know that I feel better about my shortcomings when I see others who struggle.  Just the other day I watched my favorite professional golfer, Phil Mickelson, miss a two-footer. TWO FEET!!!  Come on, man!!! Oh well, I understand. I miss plenty of the same kinds of putts.

I’m re-reading one of my favorite books, The Killer Angels, a Pultizer Prize winning historical novel by Michael Shaara. The book tells the story of four days of the Battle of Gettysburg. The first time I read the book it made me cry. I was sad for all parties involved.

I’m a huge fan of General R.E. Lee. Huge! (Lincoln too)

General Robert E. Lee

But as I read the story yet again, I find myself saying, “Please listen to Longstreet, and please don’t march those young men into the Union center.” But Mr. Lee is very stubborn and the carnage is nauseating. Following the frontal assault on the third day of Gettysburg Lee surveys his beaten army and say, “All this has been my fault.” The venerable Lee had failed*.

Do we know anyone else who has failed? How did Jesus’ students do at test time?  In Matthew 26:2 Jesus said, “You know that after two days the Passover is coming and the Son of Man is to be delivered up for crucifixion.”

He went on teaching them of things to come and we pick up this familiar story in the Garden.

Judas' symbol of failure

1. First we recount Judas’ betrayal. He rats Jesus out. We see this picture of a Benedict Arnold; he double-crosses Jesus; he is a snitch, a squealer, a two-faced friend. The term Judas’ Kiss is forever a despicable image.

  Consider all the ways we are unfaithful to Jesus in the same manner. When we allow our plan to supplant the purpose of Jesus Christ, we betray the Lord.

2. Jesus asks his disciples “keep watch” with Him in the Garden. They fall asleep. We see this picture of sloth, laziness and/or indifference. They must have really been tired, huh? Continue reading Simple Sabbath — Because We Fail

You Can’t Put A Price On Dreams

by Rob Loeber

What would you do for a dream?  How far would you go to achieve a lifelong goal?

Those are the questions thousands of athletes ask themselves every single day.  From Alaska to Maine and all points in between, minor league and semi-pro players are making enormous sacrifices to stay on the field, rink, or court.

It must be love for $400 a week. (courtesy urbantulsa.com)

This recession has hit America hard over the last few years, but economic struggles are nothing new for the players who toil in obscurity and put their bodies on the line for very little reward.

The Tulsa Talons play in the Arena Football League and the average Talons’ player takes home $400 per week.  That adds up to $7200 for a complete 18-game season.  These are men with college degrees.  Most of them have families but most of them don’t have second jobs because of the time required for practice, travel, and games.

What would you do for a dream?  Would you walk away from the cushy desk job and the 401k package to throw yourself full-speed at another human being for 400 bucks?

I asked one Talons player why he does it.  “I love football,” he told me.  “I can’t imagine giving this up.”

The Talons players have almost no chance of ever making an NFL roster, but out there on the practice field they were smiling and laughing throughout every drill and after every play.  They looked joyful.  They looked like kids.  How many of us can say our jobs make us feel like kids again?

Continue reading You Can’t Put A Price On Dreams

Simple Sabbath: Hope is in the Eye of the Needle

Mark 10:17-27

Maybe you’ve read this passage before, or perhaps a similar passage in Matthew or Luke.

The story is basically this: Jesus was ministering one day and a rich guy runs to him as Jesus is about to leave, falls on his knees and asks how he can inherit eternal life.  Jesus gives him the standard 10 commandment “don’ts” and the rich guy states he has kept all these commandments since his youth.  Then Jesus goes on to direct the guy to sell all his possessions, give the money to the poor and follow him.

At this, rich guy gets bummed out and leaves because he has a lot of stuff.  Jesus tells his disciples it’s easier for a camel to make its way through the eye of a needle than the rich to go to heaven but, that through God, “all things are possible”.

I love the reading of this passage in Mark, particularly, because it states that Jesus looked at him and loved him.  Won’t it be cool some day when Jesus looks at you that way?

This passage has given me a lot of reason to pause and think over the years because so many people like to write the end of the rich guy’s story in a negative frame.  But I’d caution you; the end of this particular story is not written in the Bible. So many folks just assume that the rich guy did not do as Jesus instructed him, but we don’t know whether he did or not.  I’ve heard people use this passage as New Testament justification for the death penalty.  But this passage ends with hope: “with God all things are possible.” In other words, rich guys getting into heaven and camels getting through needle eyes.

I encourage you to find the hope Jesus’ disciples were presented on that day.