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Thursday, November 15, 2012

Vera Oliphant

Vera Oliphant is like most 16-year-olds; she spends a good bit of time on her
cell phone.  When she went to visit her uncle who lives in a desert area outside
of San Diego, she couldn't pick up a signal for her phone.  She began walking up
a hill in hopes of catching a signal at the higher elevation.

Vera said she heard the rattles before spotting the snakes.  She instinctively
began backing up, but that was the wrong move.  The mother rattlesnake, in
defense of her territory and her five babies, bit the teenager at least six
times.  After spending four days in intensive care and receiving 24 vials of
antivenom, Vera will be OK.  The nerves in her right leg will be affected for a
few years, but she has to count herself lucky to have escaped what could have
been a fatal incident.

The advent of smart phones has led to many accidents while the user is
distracted.  Driving an automobile demands full focus at all times, but many
believe they can text or surf safely while driving.  Others have learned that
even walking while texting can lead to serious consequences.  Vera's case,
however, is unique.  Who ever heard of walking into a den of snakes while using
a phone?

On second thought, maybe her case is not unique.  Thousands of others, I'm
confident, have been led into such a den while using new technologies.  No,
actual rattlesnakes are not what I have in mind, but a snake of a much more
sinister variety.

This "snake" has been around as long as people have populated the earth.  In the
Garden of Eden this serpent challenged the authority of the One who held the
title to the Garden.  Eventually he wore down the resistance of Eve, and she
broke the one law (that we know of) which God had given her and Adam to observe
(Genesis 3:1-6).  Soon she and her husband wished they had kept their focus!

David didn't have the technology we today enjoy, but he knew the dangers of
losing focus.  In Psalm 101:3,4 he shares this wisdom: "I will set nothing
wicked before my eyes; I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not
cling to me.  A perverse heart shall depart from me; I will not know
wickedness."  Those are words that need to be applied before I pick up my phone,
my mouse or my television remote.  So much wickedness to see; such a deadly
rattlesnake waiting to strike!

Christians are not immune to such temptations.  Paul's warnings to the
Christians at Corinth are still needed: "Flee sexual immorality. ... Or do you
not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you
have from God, and you are not your own?  For you were bought at a price;
therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's" (1
Corinthians 6:18-20).

The work of the serpent (Satan) goes on.  Those who walk upon this earth do well
to remain alert, taking care not to walk into his dens of activity.  The venom
he inflicts has lethal, eternal effects.

Can anyone deal with such a foe?  Yes: "So the great dragon was cast out, that
serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was
cast out to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him" (Revelation 12:9).
The One who cast him out of heaven will one day fling him completely out of the
paths of God's people (Revelation 20:10).  As long as we keep near the Lord we
are safe from this ancient foe (see James 4:7,8).

Timothy D. Hall

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