Creed Screed: Keep Life in Focus


By Paul Leavens 

Psalm 119:15  “I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways.”

I recently stumbled across a headline that stopped me in my tracks: “Man tries to take selfie with bear, gets mauled to death as friends watch.” Wow. 

As it turns out, a couple weeks ago in India, Prabhu Bhatara and some of his friends were returning from a wedding reception when the man, as CBS News put it, “needed to answer nature’s call.” 

I guess there wasn’t a truck stop or fast-food restaurant around, so he stopped near a forest. While en route to relief, Bhatara succumbed to curiosity. He stumbled across a wounded bear. Rather than slipping off in the other direction, his first inclination was to think: “Man, what an amazing selfie this is going to be! People are going to freak when they see this on Instagram!” 

I’ll take classic bad ideas for $1,600, Alex. 

As it turns out, the bear wasn’t playing possum, but he wasn’t dead, either. He was able to muster up just enough strength to do what bears do when their personal space is threatened. To add insult to fatal injury, as Bhatara was being mauled by the bear, some of his chums watched in horror while others made sure they kept their smartphone cameras rolling. Though, to their credit, an account in the UK’s Independent said “his fellow SUV passengers advised him against trying to take a picture with the creature.” 

His only defender was a stray dog who tried, to no avail, to intimidate the agitated predator. 

According to the Independent piece, Bhatara was far from alone in meeting his demise while trying to take a selfie in recent years. According to a collaborative study by researchers from Carnegie Mellon University and Indraprastha Institute of Information Delhi, India had the highest rate of deaths linked to selfies between March 2014 and September 2016. Of the 127 reported selfie deaths during that period, 76 of them (60 percent), happened in India.

According to a report released last August by Hootsuite and We Are Social, there were more than 3 billion active social media numbers around the world. That’s almost half the world’s population. 

A majority of those people find fulfillment in sharing glimpses into their lives, and that includes selfies. 

But what happens when our quest to be “social” goes awry and becomes an obsession? Well, let Prabhu Bhatara’s experience serve as a cautionary tale. 

When I read of his plight, I immediately thought of the words of the apostle Paul, found in Romans 12:2: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect Will.” 

There is nothing inherently wrong with being on social media. However, when it distracts you from being in God’s Word and causes you to deviate from living a life that is pleasing to Him, it can become a hindrance, or worse. Perhaps it isn’t social media, but a job, hobby or vice driving a wedge between you and God. 

When you find yourself in a position of distraction or impulsiveness (leave the bears alone), return to equilibrium by refocusing on living out Psalm 119:15.


  1. What is distracting you from having a deeper relationship with God?
  2. What steps can you take to limit those distractions?
  3. What do you want your relationship with God to look like?

Dr. Paul Leavens is minister of the Christian Church in Lindsay, 120 N. Frazier Ave. To contact him, call 559-562-3743 or visit

This column is not a news article but the opinion of the writer and does not reflect the views of The Foothills Sun-Gazette newspaper.

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