On July 24th and 25th 2013, I took a bunch of mates into Peak Studios in Bradford, England, to record The Presence Project.
The project combines a beautiful worship song that will encourage you to treasure the presence of Jesus above everything else in life and a video inspiring you to pursue Him more than ever before.
The Presence Project will be available here to view for free at the beginning of September 2013.
Here’s the new, mid-September edit – Presenting the Presence Project:
Where Our Help Comes From
Sometimes, you’ve just got to…
Screwtape is a senior demon and his nephew, Wormwood, is a junior tempter. The Screwtape Letters by C S Lewis is an apologetic work that seeks to mock the devil by satirising his methods in tempting and limiting Christians in their relationship with God. It’s a series of letters between the two demons.
It’s an ingenious work from Lewis (1942) and, while I wouldn’t agree with his soteriology, (or at least some of that which is implied through Screwtape’s council to Wormwood about his ‘patient’), it is an amazingly insightful work, bristling with the electric juxtapositioning of the most laughable and the very darkest elements of human life, communicating to the reader the, perhaps, incognito principles of the spiritual battle we’re all in. I’ll mention just one…
In Screwtape’s 8th letter to Wormwood, he refers to the human ‘law of undulation’. This is what he says:-
“Humans are amphibians-half spirit and half animal (The Enemy’s determination to produce such a revolting hybrid was one of the things that determined Our Father to withdraw his support from Him.)…This means that while their spirit can be directed to an eternal object, their bodies, passions, and imaginations are in continual change, for to be in time means to change. Their nearest approach to constancy, therefore, is undulation-the repeated return to a level from which they repeatedly fall back, a series of troughs and peaks.” Letter 8
You might not like Screwtape’s summary of you as an amphibian, but it’s quite helpful if you think about it more. We are all constantly fighting for progress in life. Progress in finance, relationships, our health…whatever sphere it may be, we want to go forward. But as much as we want progress we are met with discouragement as we ebb and flow in vitality of faith and experiential victory over satan. Paul summed up the law of undulation in Romans 7 by not being able to follow through and do that which, in his inner-man, he most wanted to do. The war is between the flesh and the Spirit.
I was encouraged by a thought from John 1 this week. Towards the back end of the chapter Jesus describes Nathanael as a ‘true Israeite in whom there is nothing false’ (John 1:47). This commendation is despite Nathanael’s scepticism about ‘anything good coming out of Nazareth’. Jesus called this guy the real deal despite his undulating faith which one minute slated any thought of Jesus being the Christ and, the next, was bowing the knee in His presence. He ebbed and flowed big time (just like the Apostle Peter and you and I) and yet was announced as being true and without duplicity.
Proverbs 20 says: “The lamp of the LORD searches the spirit of a man; it searches out his inmost being” and David’s prayer in Psalm 139 was “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting”.
Despite Screwtape’s correct diagnosis of us being up and down, hot and cold, in and out, the main point is that he couldn’t possibly ever see your inmost being as God does. He sees you from completion, from eternity, and so doesn’t judge you based on your tendency, like mine, to undulate – to ebb and to flow. Nathanael was ebbing and Jesus was commending. I think that’s the point of the law of undualtion that Screwtape couldn’t see.
It was the end of his University life and Paul had decided that it didn’t matter if he got drunk tonight. He stood at the bar again waiting for more drink. Apathy, Deceit and Desire gripped hold of him like toxic leeches, writhing in pleasure as they controlled his mind. Their yellow, bulbous eyes flitted about continually, knowing that at any moment legions of angels could obliterate any attempt they could ever make to influence a human life. Kaalk had returned to the City’s demonic stronghold having achieved his goal, but with his swollen pride well and truly dented. He had a score to settle.
It wasn’t long before Pete and Adie had paired off with girls at the other end of the pub, leaving Paul on his own. He looked around and couldn’t see anyone else he knew, so just stayed by his new refuge at the bar. Paul felt his mind getting weary as he opened his throat and threw down the last of the shots. Looking up for a second, he caught the eye of a girl at the end of the bar near to Adie and Pete. He instinctively looked away back to his drink, but he knew she’d been looking at him. She was stunning. Desire shifted position and delved deeper into Paul’s mind. Paul suddenly felt more alert, more nervous again, and he was excited.
By flashing one of his last notes of the night, he motioned to the barman that he wanted serving again. He deliberately glanced back to where the girl had been standing as he exchanged his money for another drink, but was disappointed to find that she had gone. This beer seemed weaker than his earlier pints, like his tongue was numb; it was easier to drink and as he started to knock it back he thought how good it would be to have a girlfriend, not even a girlfriend, just a girl would do.
His thoughts were interrupted by a waft of perfume as he realised that the girl had come over to stand next to him. She was just standing there, leaning against the bar, playing with her long golden hair. As she turned to say goodbye to one of her friends, Paul’s eyes moved across her body as Desire burrowed deeper. Making sure not to slur, he leaned a little closer as she turned back and offered to buy her a drink.
They were soon sitting down holding each other with temporary confidence, not concerned about the public gaze or the fact that they couldn’t remember each other’s name. As the night drew to a close, Paul remained entirely oblivious to the hive of demonic activity that surrounded him. He had forgotten the boy who now lay in hospital and the Bible that sat by his bed. He had forgotten.
Kaalk sat on the dewy moss of the church steeple as the sun struggled through the clouds in the distance. He was motionless except for the rise and fall of his alien frame. Sulphurous breath streamed from his nostrils as he focused on the house, averting his gaze only in occasional reproach of the demonic minions that sat restlessly behind him. Guilt crouched subserviently next to Kaalk. He knew this was his chance to impress his master.
Aramouth and Guldin were standing once again as mighty warriors. Singing with voices like the sound of many waters they were spearheading the Lord’s army that was rapidly congregating in the heavenly places. They proudly looked across the horizon to see hundreds of thousands of angels covering each other in prayer as they prepared for battle.
Paul stirred groggily in his bed as the physical hangover began to gnaw at his consciousness. He opened his eyes to the world allowing the gradual trickle of fragmented memories to tumble through his damaged mind. Kaalk’s huge membranous wings unfurled as Paul reached for the light and the window became lit. A leathery canopy now surrounded the fiend as he waited for the moment to climb the air, glancing furtively around for any angelic intervention. Kaalk was nervous because this was important.
As though in perfect synchronisation, pairs of orange and green reptilian eyes emerged from the trees ahead and from the cars beneath Kallk – several more from within the bushes next to Paul’s window. They lit the area like flashing hazard lights from the scene of an accident. Kaalk was tense but he smirked with anticipation. The stench of acid rose from the sulfuric climate intensifying from his flaring nostrils as the demonic fellowship behind him also stood eagerly to attention.
Then came Kaalk’s call like the petrified screaming of lost children. In one blurred movement Guilt leapt with frightening agility and dived into the dome of the tree next to Paul’s house, passing into the roof space. He hurtled downwards at unearthly speeds towards Paul’s bedroom. The downcast child of God sat on the edge of his bed bathed in ice-cold perspiration. He felt sick in his stomach, weakly nauseous and giddy. He gagged at the rush of adrenalin with every hazy memory that returned, and, with them, Apathy, Deceit and Desire all moved to accommodate Guilt who entered the room with merciless force.
Paul instantly remembered his opportunity to leave the pub, the chance to go home. With immaculate precision Guilt sharpened his talons on his armoured back and sank them into his victim’s mind. Paul remembered the girl. Guilt withdrew his talons and began to swing back and forth with his barbed sword, hacking Paul’s heart with insatiable pleasure. Paul collapsed on the floor catching his head in his hands, weeping like a child. He was embarrassed by his fear though no-one was in the room with him, and yet, like the faint blowing of the wind he could hear outside, he recognised a still voice longing for him to call out the name of Jesus. Paul understood the voice instantly and with all the faith he had cried out to his Father in heaven.
A single trumpet sounded and the gates of heaven exploded open. Endless thousands of heavenly warriors raced in majestic silence to Paul’s defense as unimaginable fragrances and indescribable lights appeared in the train of radiance behind the heavenly host. With perfect timing, Guldin and Aramouth were fighting by Paul’s side and, like a spear through water, sent every demon sprawling to the floor. Paul lifted his head and remembered a verse from Romans, and then another from Philippians. Guldin stood before Paul like a mighty pillar of the finest gold while Aramouth prowled like a lion, skillfully disarming the injured demons.
Apathy, Deceit and Desire bowed briefly before the angels as they hissed and fled the room. Guilt had already maneuvered like a snake back behind Guldin who spun to see the spirit dig again into Paul’s heart. Once more Kaalk howled outside commanding the remaining demons to do their worst, and they moved together towards the bedroom like a black cloud.
Paul hesitantly got to his feet and sat again on his bed. He looked at his Bible as Guldin threw a massive blow to the back of Guilt’s deformed head. But Guilt braced himself and stuck obstinately to Paul’s heart. Kaalk’s filthy presence now filled the room as Aramouth turned to what appeared to be a different demon, transfigured. Kaalk had grown in stature and now towered above him filling the room with a putrid stench. Aramouth darted from one side of the room to the other to avoid the blur of Kaalk’s claws and fangs, failing to land any blows of his own attack.
But the demon lord hyper-extended his spine and screamed in horror amidst vomiting episodes as an explosion of pure light momentarily blinded him. Outside, the demonic cloud was seconds from entering Paul’s bedroom when it hit an impenetrable wall of heavenly authority. Demons were snatched and sent flailing into the abyss of hell; shattered wings and bodies showered the area like a grotesque spiritual deluge. Kaalk instinctively knew what had happened as he spat on the floor: his scheme was effectively over and that the Unmentionable’s army had conquered again. But Kaalk remained internally motivated with the prospect of his own glory, with his own triumph over these pathetic spirits that, on their own, were nothing.
The demon clawed at his bleeding eyes and grabbed Aramouth, tossing him aside like a rag doll. He pinned him to the floor with his muscular leg, but reached down too late to see Guilt being decapitated by Guldin and thrown out of the room with unquestionable authority.
Paul picked up his Bible and flicked the pages towards the back. He turned to the book of James and started reading at chapter four. Both angels were instantaneously transformed into figures of incomparable beauty: their faces became ruddy and their eyes burnt with cleansing fire. Guldin looked at Kaalk who now shook uncontrollably with fear as Aramouth snapped the demon’s leg with his mighty arm and stood upright. Without even so much as looking at each other, both angels sprang into glorious action. They circled the principality overhead and with a sovereign act of sword-drawn finality they thundered down through Kaalk’s very being.
Paul had reached verse seven.
Three weeks later Paul talked excitedly with Pete and Adie about his gap-year plans to travel to Africa to help with Christian missionaries there. Paul had seen his friends in the pub as he was passing outside and had decided to go in and join them. After an hour or so of catching up, a couple of beers and a bite to eat later, Paul shook their hands and wished them well for their futures. As Paul left, Pete and Adie talked of how good it was to see him, but couldn’t help but wonder why he hadn’t properly introduced them to his two friends.
© Nick Franks, 2002
These realities are so far from our experience as Christians in the UK that we forget they are happening every day for a sizeable chunk of our Christian family around the earth. We forget. We forget what it really costs some to stand for the gospel and to bear the Name.
Peter writes of trials that come to believers like this: “These have come so that your faith…may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor…” (1 Pet. 1:7)