More from Tapescrew

The Second of Three Letters

This is the second of three letters from Tapescrew to his nephew Woodworm, in which he delights in the human tendency to resist dependence on “the Enemy.”

My dear Woodworm,

On earth, people are presently in what I like to call the “Do It Yourself” age. Everywhere you look, men and women are in relentless pursuit of independence: financial independence, political independence, independence from responsibility, independence from objective standards of behavior, independence from marriage vows, independence from unwanted pregnancies, independence from all restraints and limitations to their so-called “self-fulfillment” and “self-expression.”

Their singers sing, “I did it my way”; their poets proclaim, “I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul”; their business tycoons boast of being “self-made men”; their authors write “self-help” books by the truckload; their commercials insist, “Have it your way . . . you’re worth it.”

Of course, “DIY” is the foundation of religion, and as such it has been an effective tool for blinding earthly creatures to the Enemy’s efforts to buy their release. The root of all sin is independence—independence from the Enemy’s claim to our sole allegiance—and this is, of course, the way our Father in Hell charted for us so long ago.

Naturally we cringe and grieve when any of the miserable creatures actually takes the step of acknowledging ultimate dependence on the Enemy and becomes a Christian. But even then, all is not lost. We can still wreak such havoc as to make them largely ineffective. The spirit of the age, which we have so skillfully woven through the very fabric of their society, can infect them and derail them from being constructive agents for the Enemy.

You see, no sooner do these creatures cast their loyalty upon Him than we are right back on the job, clogging their minds with the nagging question, “What should I do?” In their compulsion to “get busy for God,” they forget (or rather, we drown out) their just-learned dependence on the Enemy and assume that they need to take it from there. And so they do their best to live what they call “the Christian life” in their own strength. It’s rather fun to watch them scurry about like ants at a picnic. We are delighted to let them make this futile attempt at self-determination, because they run out of steam pretty quickly. Then they wonder why they sense no victory, why it seems so hard, why they can’t get it together. And we gloat, knowing that we have fogged their minds and avoided that dependence on the Enemy’s power which is our only true fear.

In a subtle way their worship is similarly infected by the “DIY” mentality. When worship is merely an exercise of self-effort it is, of course, doomed to failure. As long as we keep them trying to impress each other or the Enemy Himself with the size, quality, or enthusiasm of their worship activities, there’s no real danger of anything profound or eternally significant happening.

It’s amusing to sit back and watch the little vermin struggling to “make worship happen,” trying to force their way into the Enemy’s presence, as though He had to be cajoled into giving them an audience! If they only knew the truth about the power of true worship, we’d be running for cover! But as long as we can keep their focus on what they do rather than on what the Enemy has done, they’ll be left in a constant state of wondering whether their efforts are good enough.

Having been “saved by grace” as they call it (and how we shudder at those words!), they revert to religion and try to reach the Enemy without ever being quite certain that they will “make the cut.” “DIY” worship keeps them guessing, which is the surest way to keep them off-balance—which is, of course, right where we want them! As long as they resist full dependence on God in their worship, and in their walk, they will spin their wheels without making much progress. Exactly what our Father in Hell has in mind.

Affectionately yours,

Uncle Tapescrew

Rev. Dr. Ron Man is missionary-in-residence at First Evangelical Church in Memphis, Tennessee, and director of Worship Resources International (

Reformed Worship 97 © September 2010, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship. Used by permission.