A Contemporary Screwtape Letter (Part 1 of 3)

1467887167_bbf2bacf75_o*I recently took a doctoral seminar held at Oxford exploring the communication style of C.S. Lewis. This post, and the two following, are part of an assignment to create three contemporary Screwtape Letters. I would have liked more time, but such is the reality of homework deadlines. Gentle critiques are welcome, trolls will be sent to purgatory. 

Letter One

My dear Wormwood,

I am gratified to hear of your recent release after 75 years. No doubt decades submerged in the Stygian Marsh and a year spent in a flaming tomb have given you ample time to appreciate the gravity of your previous incompetence. I trust that you also found time to meditate on my previous lessons.

Much has changed since we last spoke and it has fallen unto me, your benevolent uncle, to enlighten you about our current work in the world. You will remember our discussion about how we confused humanity’s ability to discern truth with the bombardment of the weekly press? How your previous subject had been “accustomed” since childhood “to have a dozen incompatible philosophies dancing together inside his head?”  Well, we have since improved upon that approach…substantially.

We have a new ally called the Internet. Like the press, it serves the Enemy. Yet, through careful manipulations we have turned it to our advantage. It functions as an ether of information. It is a noosophere–an invisible cloud of humanity’s ideas that hovers around the subject at all times. The Internet is place (which is why we treat it a proper noun) where people deposit and access their knowledge through technological devices.

Like mediums searching their crystal balls, they look into their glass screens into a world of floating texts and images—searching for answers.  You are too young to remember, but in medieval times followers of the Enemy used to carry relics around with them as links to the transcendent. Through a careful application of pressure for continual connection, and a fear of silence and solitude, we have replicated this dynamic with mobile technology. They panic and are practically lost without their devices! They bypass contemplation, prayer, and conversation with one another for instant information. Their lives are bound to this ether of knowledge and it is this ether that we will use to undo their humanity and destroy the image of the Enemy.

I will write more later, but it would serve you well to spend time in Hell’s computer lab doing research. I am sure one of the other demons can help you send me your first email.

Your affectionate uncle


Photo credit: Martin Gommel via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND


PhD Pastors: An Interview with David Hamstra

This interview was conducted via email with my colleague and friend whom I’ve known since elementary school. Even during the early years of our education everybody knew David was smarter than than everybody else 😉  David is one of many pastors who hope to pursue advanced education and his conference’s approach to allowing him to do a PhD is rather innovative for Adventists. It’s also valuable for ministers and conferences wanting some idea of how approach the subject. Thanks to David and the Alberta Conference for allowing this interview to happen.

Okay, give me the biographical breakdown: How long have you pastored? Where have you pastored? How long have you been out of seminary?

I’ve been in full-time pastoral ministry for 10 years (if one year of volunteer youth work in Australia counts and seminary doesn’t). I’ve spent my entire professional career with the northernmost Adventist congregations of Alberta, Canada. I graduated from Andrews University with my MDiv in 2010.

2. The Dmin is the usual doctoral route for Adventist pastors, tell me a little about your decision to pursue a PhD instead.

I think of myself as a pastor whose ministry specialty is theology. My first call was to be a shepherd to the flock, and God hasn’t indicated that I should have any other carrier ambition. But in addition to that, during my MDiv, God also called me to work on a specific theological project. So for my advanced training, I knew that an academic doctorate would prepare me to make that theological contribution in a way that a DMin is simply not set up to do.

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Like most parents, freshly risen from a semi-restful night of slumber, I made my first stop the master bathroom to conduct my morning business.

Our spacious lavatory includes: a double-sink situation to minimize marital conflicts and a massive walk-in closet to contain piles of unwashed clothing. It also has a nice shower, with sliding glass door, to remove all hope of privacy when marauding children barge in and ask any number of questions vulnerable dads don’t feel like answering in the shower.

The most useful component of our master bath, however, has to be the commode with its own door. The commode not only contains our toilet, but the small room doubles as a library, reading nook, botanical garden (pending wife approval), and all purpose sanctuary/retreat center.

It was after a respite in our commode, still waking up, that I opened the door, stepped out into the commons area and beheld one of the most terrifying, panic-inducing, sights in all of parenting history: Continue reading


Awkward Girl Games

girlsFirst let me say that I appreciate the miracle of breastfeeding.

I support women who do it publicly (not in a creepy way) and give my wife the admiration she deserves for making that choice for our children–and even model it for our older girls in the hopes that, should they decide to be moms later in life (much much later), they will embrace the practice too.

So I shouldn’t have been as alarmed when my daughter and her friend began playing make-believe in the car on the way home from some church meetings. Continue reading


80% of Adventists Still Unsure When to Clap

clapWe’ve all been there. On a rare Sabbath morning a competent musician delivers an awe-inspiring rendition of a spiritual song ushering the congregation into the presence of God.

And upon their conclusion the congregation enters into the valley of wide-eyed uncertainty and indecision.

To clap or not to clap? THAT is the question.

Gratitude is not something commonly expressed in Adventist congregations. Taking a dutiful approach to ministry it is expected that you share your gifts on demand because God—or the Nominating Committee—says so.

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Reason for New Bible Translations #712: Unicorns


God brought them out of Egypt; he hath as it were the strength of an unicorn. Numbers 23v22, KJV


Canst thou bind the unicorn with his band in the furrow? or will he harrow the valleys after thee? Job 39v10, KJV

And the unicorns shall come down with them, and the bullocks with the bulls; and their land shall be soaked with blood, and their dust made fat with fatness. Is 34v7, KJV

See also KJV’s Deuteronomy 33v17, Numbers 24v8, Psalm 22v21, 29v6, 92v10


REASON: This isn’t Harry Potter. Scripture is powerful not magical.

Suggested Alternatives:

Why I Will stop Using Exclamation Points with “lol.”


Laugh out loud.

The excitement is implied in the text.

Laughing out loud is by definition an explosive expression of joy. It conjures up images of friends  reminicing on funny stories,  the newest Youtube video featuring someone injuring themselves in a stupid way, listening to a faux pas by the preacher and watching them scramble to recover, and reacting to funny posts I make on Facebook such as this:



So we laugh out loud.


Normal, healthy, boisterous expression of delight.

But then there are those who insist in placing a “!” after “lol”–and what was once a happy articulation of emotion, has now become the cry of the clinically insane.

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platform by michael hyatt

A Plug for “Platforming”

Hello everyone. I am teaching a class on writing this week and one of the subjects is “platforming.” This subject covers a range of concepts revolving around how to connect with people you want to experience your product. Michael Hyatt, former CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishing, left his job and began marketing himself online. As a result he now has a wider readership and a higher income. His book, Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World is a bestseller and has helped me start on my journey of connecting with people who read my books.


This book was recommended to me by my friend Lorilee at lovingsimpleliving.com. she has been able to build amazing online presence and I am grateful for her advice. Please go over and check out what she is doing to see what is possible with some time, patience, and a little starting capital.

Hyatt’s book covers everything from marketing principles to step-by-step instructions for social media and blogging. Even if you are not media savvy, Hyatt can help you become comfortable navigating the digital landscape. At times the book is almost hyper-detailed, but in the long run it is helpful to have all your questions–and questions you may never have considered–answered.

It is cheap on amazon.com and is well worth the purchase. Just click on any of the links, or the cover picture, and pick it up. I am an Amazon Affiliate–so when you buy through my website it helps me out a tiny bit.



Author Journal #2: Revelation, De-teening, Peter Paul

Its out!!!!

My new book on Revelation is making the rounds at campmeeting, already out of stock on Amazon.com but is still available through the ABC website. Click on the image for your copy!

Prophecies of Revelation for Teens

As for other news, I am working on chapter two of Peter Paul and trying to maintain continuity with the precious books. Its amazing how many little quirks, jokes, and even plot points you can forget–even for books you wrote! I have outlined most of the chapters. May has been such a mess with graduations, meetings and the like I have barely been able to write let alone post anything.

I just finished “de-teening” Daniel and Pacific Press hopes to release it this fall for adults. For some reason adults enjoy the content but feel sheepish buying a book that says “for teens” on it. So we have remedied that problem.

Stay tuned for more updates, and in the mean time, get your copy of Revelation!


Interview With My Mormon Student


One of the best parts about teaching Bible at Northwest Christian, is being able to interact with students with a wide variety of faith backgrounds.

One of my students this year, Brig Richards, is a Mormon. He is a very sincere and conscientious young man.

Brig is also very dedicated to his faith.

Throughout the year we have had several chats in my office about our two faith traditions–Adventism and Mormonism–and I thought it would be fun to interview him for my website.

This is an opportunity to learn a little about another faith tradition from the perspective of a non-Adventist–attending an Adventist institution. 

Q) To begin with, how old are you and what grade are you in?

A) I am 12 (13 in May) and am in 7th grade.

Q) Can you share a little of your faith background with the readers? 

A) I am part of a family that have been Latter-day Saints (LDS; aka Mormons) for many generations on both my mom’s & dad’s side of the family which means that naturally I was raised LDS, as were my parents and grandparents.

But each of us is encouraged to discover truth, individually.

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