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Posts Tagged ‘C. S. Lewis’

The Word of the Lord tried him! (1)

Living on the promises of God is trying, especially when we have to wait years and decades for God to fulfill His promises.

Living in faithful obedience to God’s way is trying because the world wants us to fail this test.

Anyone who says, “Being a Christian is an easy escape from reality” has never tried living the Christian life.  I have found that choosing to be a faithful Christian is to choose the most difficult road to travel in life.

The world wants Christians to be nice, rather than faithful.  Niceness is defined by C. S. Lewis as having a “wholesome, integrated personality … a better man of the old kind.”  (2)

In contrast, God wants us to be a different person, to live His way, a way which much of the world despises.  This is why we will find God’s Word to be trying.

It does not bother me that the world expects less of me than God does.  What bothers me is when the Church expects less of us than God does. 

The Church is under constant pressure to make being a Christian an easy, nice, and comforting experience.  This may be why so many Christians whine when they endure inconvenience or minor sacrifices or discomfort.

Richard Blackaby warns:

Don’t ever try to ease the discomfort of someone whom the Holy Spirit is making uncomfortable! (3)

There is value in being tried by God’s Word.

Ask God to test you today.

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  1. Psalm 105:19 (King James version)
  2. Lewis, C. S. (2009-03-17). A Year with C. S. Lewis (p. 145). Harper Collins, Inc.. Kindle Edition.
  3. Blackaby, Richard (2006-12-01). Experiencing God Day By Day (p. 138). B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
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We live in a world starved for solitude, silence, and privacy, and 

therefore starved for meditation and true friendship. (1)

.

Surprisingly, the quote above does not come for a social scientist analyzing the culture of the 21st century.  The quote is from C. S. Lewis, written in before 1960, when very few people had a private telephone line, much less a television.

In a more sedate, slower paced society, finding a moment and place to reflect and to refuel was a challenge.  

In today’s world of hyper-connectivity and digital social networks most of us long to be left alone.  We never seem to have a genuine quiet moment to ourselves.  Thus we hunger for silence and solitude, both of which are foundational to being able to relate to others and to build community.

We hunger for silence, an opportunity to be alone, but we fear being disconnected.

In our busyness and fear, we separate ourselves from God.  In our frantic hyper-connectivity with the world, we drown out the voice of God and believe He is hard to find.  Thus, we neither find Him nor connect to Him.

My job requires me to be engaged with people on a regular and daily basis.  These individuals dictate the times and terms of our interaction, which is spurned by crisis in their lives.

Yet, in the expectation for me to be present and to respond to the needs of others, I must have fuel in my tank in order to provide spiritual nourishment and substance for them during their crisis.

Thus, I must carve out time in every day to be alone, to be silent, and to be unavailable to no one, except God. 

This professional necessity is also a personal blessing.

Only after I have been alone with God, am I able to truly engage with others and enjoy genuine friendship and find peace and happiness.

Smartphones, text messages, email, Facebook, and digital notifications of the score in the third inning of a Pirates-Cubs baseball game are not the source of our problem.  

We fear being disconnected, missing a piece of the action, not knowing what is going on in this temporal world.  

This fear drives us away from God, from ourselves, and from others.

Be still and know that I am God … I am with you always (2)

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  1. Lewis, C. S. (2009-03-17). A Year with C. S. Lewis (p. 126). Harper Collins, Inc.. Kindle Edition. 
  2. Psalm 46:10 and Matthew 28:20.

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Prosperity knits a man to the World. 

He feels that he is ‘finding his place in it’, 

while really it is finding its place in him. (1)

.

Prosperity does not have to ruin a person, but it frequently does.

Christians are called by God to be in the world, but not of the world.  The issue is neither our prosperity nor our poverty.  The issue is whether we absorb the world or transform the world.

C. S. Lewis is correct in noting that when most of us become prosperous, we absorb the world, her ways, values, desires, and choices.  We do this because we feel the world has done us well, while forgetting that God does us better.

Paul’s exhortation is: 

Do not be conformed to the ways of this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind (in Christ)!”  (Romans 12:2)

To be conformed is to let the world’s pressure mold you into her way.  

To be a transformer is to put pressure on the world to change to God’s way.

Conformity is the path of least resistance to worldly success.  Do it the world’s way.  Be popular.  Sacrifice your integrity.  Give a little here, yield a little there and before you know it you have made it from the mailroom to the penthouse. 

Conform and remain an insider for life.  Be a transformer and remain vulnerable to being cast out and rejected.  

Lose your way or make your way.  This is a reality within the world and within God’s Kingdom.  Thus, the issue is:

Where do you wish to lose your way?

Where do you wish to make your way?

When you reach the fork in the road, you cannot take both paths.  You cannot take the well-traveled road and the less traveled road.  You cannot take the easy wide road and the narrow hill climbing path.  

Whether you lose your way or know exactly where you are, you are on the road you choose.

Pick your paths carefully because the path will transform you.

Jesus said, “I am The Way!” (John 14:6)

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  1. Lewis, C. S. (2009-03-17). A Year with C. S. Lewis (p. 121). Harper Collins, Inc.. Kindle Edition. 

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Pride does not come before the fall. 

Pride is The Fall!

It is not my intent to dispute the truth of Proverbs 16:18: “Pride comes before destruction, an arrogant spirit before a fall!”

I simply want to make the case that pride is THE Fall.

Pride assumes that everything we have achieved is the result of our own efforts.  Pride forgets that all we have and all we achieve is a gift from God.

Pride forgets God! 

Pride denies God! 

Pride rejects God!

C. S. Lewis wrote:

As long as you are proud you cannot know God. A proud man is always looking down on things and people: and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you. (1)

Not only does a proud person reject God, he demeans the value of others.

A proud person does not see others as equals, he sees them as lessers.  

A proud person believes he is better, more significant, and of more value than others.

A proud person loves to lord it over others that he has more stuff, more titles, and more shekels.

The only thing a proud person does not have more of than others is friends!

The proud man might sing, “What a friend I have in Jesus” but he will never see Jesus because he assumes Jesus is below him.

Lift up your eyes and see your Savior whose throne is in the heavens! 

Psalm 123:1

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  1. Lewis, C. S. (2009-03-17). A Year with C. S. Lewis (p. 90). Harper Collins, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

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Whatever I love is my god.

 

This quote by St. Augustine frequently causes me to reflect on what are the things I love.

 

How do you know what you love?  I go by what I grieve losing.  If I am sad to have lost something, then I clearly had an affectionate attachment to it.  The extent of the grief measures the depth of the love.

 

Sunday afternoon I was thrilled that my favorite basketball team won a game to advance in the NCAA tournament.  Minutes after the game, I learned that our star point guard had broken a bone in his wrist.  His availability for the rest of the tournament is questionable.  Our chance of winning the prize is greatly diminished.

 

I was in a funk all night long and did not sleep well.

 

Is basketball my god, or perhaps one in a constellation of gods I adore?  I hope not, but I do orient my life and schedule, hopes and dreams around my team’s games.  

 

Another measure of whether something is your god is how much pride you take in it.  

 

Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man.”  (1)

 

My favorite team has had a great season and has provided me with much enjoyment, but the season will be incomplete if they do not win the NCAA title.  Winning allows me to boast, “My team won!” 

 

When my grief pulls me down and my pride puffs me up, God does me a favor and reminds me of His Word:

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize?  They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. (2)

 

Later in 1 Corinthians 13:13, God reminds us that there are three lasting things in life “faith, hope, and love.”  He concludes by teaching “The greatest of these is love!

 

Why do we place greater love in perishables, than in non-perishables?

 

Guard your heart.

 

Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, all of your soul,

all of your mind, and all of your strength. (3)

 

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  1. Lewis, C. S. (2009-03-17). A Year with C. S. Lewis (p. 88). Harper Collins, Inc.. Kindle Edition. 
  2. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), 1 Corinthians 9:24–25.
  3. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Mark 12:30

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We have a strange illusion that time cancels sin, 

but time does nothing either to the fact 

or to the guilt of a sin. (1)

.

The blessing of time is that it dulls and whitewashes the memory of many sins.

However, I have a few memorable sins which still haunt me:

  • The joke which crushed the spirit of a friend.
  • The prank which embarrassed a colleague.
  • The evasion which did not bring sanctuary.
  • The white lie dyed red in the blood of Jesus.

We all have sins which are hard to forget.  We have piles of guilt hidden in closets, under beds, and in the shed.  Piles which would cast a huge shadow if brought to light and stacked atop one another.  Our own shadow of shame.

While we forget our sins and flee pangs of guilt, hoping they vanish from our memory, we have to recognize that God never forgets our sins.  His omniscience, omnipotence, and omnipresence means His memory is not subject to corrosion.

C. S. Lewis writes:

God sees you forever in the nursery pulling the wings off a fly, forever toadying, lying, and lusting as a schoolboy, forever in that moment of cowardice or insolence as a subaltern? (1)

God if He choses to reminisce, can replay our sins in HD Retina Display quality on His big screen TV in heaven.

When Peter, James, and John fell asleep, for the third time, in The Garden of Gethsemane, surely Jesus remembered the impetuousness of their boasting of faithfulness in the past and their impending sin of denial and desertion coming before dawn.

Perhaps this is why, he exclaimed “Apechei” which is a a Greek utterance of exasperation, a sigh of disgust.  Translators trying to express this exasperation into English, have used phrases like enough or what’s the use.

It is the phrase used by a father when he realizes that his child is incapable of doing what needs to be done.

Caught again in the guilt of their sins, Jesus says:

“Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? It is enough! The hour has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.” (2)

Jesus, fully aware of the guilt of our sins past and future, stays the course.  While grieved, He is fully committed to His love for us.  He rises and heads to the cross, which is where the debt of our sin is washed in His blood.

The sins of my past still haunt me, even while they no longer are a burden to bear nor a debt to repaid.

Thanks be to God who never forgets, yet who is steadfast in His love!

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  1. Lewis, C. S. A Year with C. S. Lewis (p. 75). Harper Collins, Inc.. Kindle Edition.
  2. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Mark 14:41–42.

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May the LORD bless you and keep you; 

May the LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you;

May the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.”

Number 6:24-26

What God does for us, He does in us.

Lewis, C. S. (2009-03-17). A Year with C. S. Lewis (p. 40). Harper Collins, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

If you become bewildered by circumstances in your life.

Bring me your weakness and receive My Peace. Accept yourself and your circumstances just as they are, remembering that I am sovereign over everything. Do not wear yourself out with analyzing and planning. Instead, let thankfulness and trust be your guides through this day; they will keep you close to Me.

Young, Sarah (2004-10-12). Jesus Calling: Seeking Peace in His Presence (p. 38). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.

Flying Into the Winds of Danger

I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land. (Isaiah 58:14) … One of the first rules of aerodynamics is that flying into the wind quickly increases altitude. The wings of the airplane create more lift by flying against the wind. How was this lesson learned? It was learned by watching birds fly. If a bird is simply flying for pleasure, it flies with the wind. But if it senses danger, it turns into the wind to gain altitude, and flies up toward the sun. … The sufferings of life are God’s winds.  …  Human life works exactly on the same principle. When the storms of life appear, the atmosphere is changed, purified, filled with new life, and part of heaven is brought down to earth. … Facing obstacles should make us sing. The wind finds its voice not when rushing across an open sea but when it is hindered by the outstretched limbs of a pine tree

Reimann, Jim; Cowman, Mrs. Charles E. (2008-09-02). Streams in the Desert: 366 Daily Devotional Readings (p. 61). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

God’s Will in Times of Trouble

We have no need to trouble ourselves as to how God works. The realization of this will save us a lot of anxious questioning. Instead, in every moment, hang upon His leading, never stopping to reason as to why we should do this or that, never troubled if it seems to produce results, not even anxious if it seems to have been a mistake.

I do not believe that light is ever promised for a past step, nor for a future one; for God emphatically wants us to live in the present, moment by moment.

Hannah Whitall Smith and Melvin Easterday Dieter, The Christian’s Secret of a Holy Life : The Unpublished Personal Writings of Hannah Whitall Smith (Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997).

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