More Borrowed Wisdom From One Mr. Lewis

I have the crud, so I invited a guest blogger to share his thoughts. Well, I copied and pasted from something C. S. Lewis wrote. It blew my fuzzy, hay-fevered mind. I hope it blows your mind as well.

“An ordinary simple Christian kneels down to say his prayers. He is trying to get into touch with God.

But if he is a Christian he knows that what is prompting him to pray is also God: God, so to speak, inside him.

But he also knows that all his real knowledge of God comes through Christ, the Man who was God—that Christ is standing beside him, helping him to pray, praying for him.

You see what is happening. God is the thing to which he is praying—the goal he is trying to reach. God is also the thing inside him which is pushing him on—the motive power. God is also the road or bridge along which he is being pushed to that goal.

So that the whole threefold life of the three-personal Being is actually going on in that ordinary little bedroom where an ordinary man is saying his prayers. The man is being caught up into the higher kinds of life—what I called Zoe or spiritual life: he is being pulled into God, by God, while still remaining himself” (C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity).

You’re welcome.

Praying starts and ends with God. Sure, I bring my needs and wants to God, but sometimes there are no words. Sometimes, I need to know that God inside of me is praying to the God above me through the God in Christ who is beside me.

That’s prayer.

 

Listening to Your Fears Again

“‘Hush!’ said the other four, for now Aslan had stopped and turned and stood facing them, looking so majestic that they felt as glad as anyone can who feels afraid, and as afraid as anyone can who feels glad. The boys strode forward: Lucy made way for them: Susan and the Dwarf shrank back.

‘Oh, Aslan,’ said King Peter, dropping on one knee and raising the Lion’s heavy paw to his face, ‘I’m so glad. And I’m so sorry. I’ve been leading them wrong ever since we started and especially yesterday morning.’

‘My dear son,’ said Aslan. Then he turned and welcomed Edmund. ‘Well done,” were his words. Then, after an awful pause, the deep voice said, ‘Susan.’ Susan made no answer but the others thought she was crying. ‘You have listened to fears, child,’ said Aslan. ‘Come, let me breathe on you. Forget them. Are you brave again?’

‘A little, Aslan,’ said Susan” (C. S. Lewis, Prince Caspian).

Everyone has fears.  Everyone.

Your fears may tell you that you’re not good enough– and never will be.

Your fears may tell you that people would never want to get to know the real you– and if they did, they wouldn’t like it.

Your fears may tell you that you can never change– and that it’s too late to try anyhow.

Everyone has different kinds of fears, but they all have one thing in common. All that fear is based on a lie. As a pastor once said, FEAR is False Evidence Appearing Real.

Fear leaves out Christ. Fear doesn’t add God into the equation. Fear says that it is totally and completely up to you and that you’re not adequate to the challenge.

That’s partially true. You by yourself are not adequate for the challenge. But the God in you is. And He hasn’t left you to face your fears alone. He has provided a way out and a way through.

Let your fears lead you to the faith that leads you to worship, remembering that God has been faithful in the past and will not fail to do so in the future.

 

I Will Be Telling You All the Time

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“But between them and the foot of the sky there was something so white on the green grass that even with their eagles’ eyes they could hardly look at it. They came on and saw that it was a Lamb.

‘Come and have breakfast,’ said the Lamb in its sweet milky voice.

Then they noticed for the first time that there was a fire lit on the grass and fish roasting on it. They sat down and ate the fish, hungry now for the first time for many days. And it was the most delicious food they had ever tasted.

‘Please, Lamb,” said Lucy, “is this the way to Aslan’s country?’

‘Not for you,’ said the Lamb. ‘For you the door into Aslan’s country is from your own world.’

‘What!’ said Edmund. ‘Is there a way into Aslan’s country from our world too?’

‘There is a way into my country from all the worlds,’ said the Lamb; but as he spoke, his snowy white flushed into tawny gold and his size changed and he was Aslan himself, towering above them and scattering light from his mane.

‘Oh, Aslan,’ said Lucy. ‘Will you tell us how to get into your country from our world?’

‘I shall be telling you all the time,’ said Aslan. ‘But I will not tell you how long or short the way will be; only that it lies across a river. But do not fear that, for I am the great Bridge Builder. And now come; I will open the door in the sky and send you to your own land.'” (C. S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader).

This is one of my favorite moments from my favorite book in The Chronicles of Narnia series, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.

I’m super glad that Aslan said to the children that He would be telling them all the time how to get into His country from their world.

I need constant reminding. I sometimes forget that this is not my home and that this is not how it will be forever.

All of live is just a heartbeat in heaven, according to Robin Williams’ character in What  Dreams May Come. All of history is just the title page and preface of what’s to come, when the real story begins.

Whatever I’ve imagined it to be like, it will be a thousand times better. All the comparisons I’ve made to the best moments of my life will fall far short of the reality, as far as shadows are from substance.

 

This Is It

“This is the testimony in essence: God gave us eternal life; the life is in his Son. So, whoever has the Son, has life; whoever rejects the Son, rejects life” (1 John 5:12).

The life is in Jesus.

When I was a kid, I thought eternal life was simply living forever. Not that anyone overtly told me this, but it’s what my kid brain grasped when anybody talked about how whosoever believeth in him shall not perish but have everlasting life. To me, that meant life that lasted a long time.

I think what I’m beginning to understand is that, while the forever part is right, there is more to it than that. It’s more than just quantity of life. It’s about a quality of life, too.

Eternal life is life with Jesus at the source. It’s where Jesus becomes my life. It’s where even my best days now are nothing compared to what my eternal future will be like.

As I’ve said before, I like to think of C.S. Lewis’ description of the New Narnia in his book, The Last Battle. It’s like everything you were always looking for but never knew it.

It’s like waking up on the first day of summer after school ends, knowing you have freedom up ahead. It’s like that first day of pure vacation bliss. Oh, and it doesn’t end in August or when you go back to work. It never ends.

It’s like that one book I read so long  ago. I can’t remember any of the detail, only that it was one of those books that I couldn’t put down and was sorry to see it end. Eternal life is the realization that this life now are like the title page and the introduction and the rest is the real beginning, a story where each chapter gets better than the last.

 

 

I Love Me a Good Quote

I love a good quote. I love the way someone can express a thought so succinctly. Better yet, I love how someone can take what I’ve been trying to say and state it in a way better than I ever could.

Here is a small sample of some of the quotes that I’ve run across recently that have impacted me.

“To clasp the hands in prayer is the beginning of an uprising against the disorder of the world” (Karl Barth).

“Let your religion be less of a theory and more of a love affair” (G. K. Chesterton).

“Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself” (Charlie Chaplin).

“Religion is what you are left with after the Holy Spirit has left the building” (Bono).

“See, I return good for evil, love for injuries, and for deeper wounds a deeper love” (Father Peter Chrysologus).

“Kind words do not cost much. Yet they accomplish much” (Blaise Pascal)

“The discipline of gratitude is the explicit effort to acknowledge that all I am and have is given to me as a gift of love, a gift to be celebrated with joy” (Henri Nouwen).

“The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians: who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, walk out the door, and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable” (Brennan Manning).

“Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons, for you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup” (Someone Wise).

“I want neither a terrorist spirituality that keeps me in a perpetual state of fright about being in right relationship with my heavenly Father nor a sappy spirituality that portrays God as such a benign teddy bear that there is no aberrant behavior or desire of mine that he will not condone. I want a relationship with the Abba of Jesus, who is infinitely compassionate with my brokenness and at the same time an awesome, incomprehensible, and unwieldy Mystery” (Brennan Manning).

Something That Spoke to Me

I read this yesterday and I’m still thinking about it. It’s what C. S. Lewis wrote after his wife died after battling cancer. What spoke to me so much wasn’t as much the grief (although I have known that all too well), but the part of not being able to hear God speak to you because you’re too frantic to listen. We’ve all at some point been stressed and overwhelmed to the point where we can’t hear what anybody else is saying to us, much less God.

Here’s what he said:

“Why has no one told me these things? How easily I might have misjudged another man in the same situation? I might have said, ‘He’s got over it. He’s forgotten his wife,’ when the truth was, ‘He remembers her better because he has partly got over it.’

Such was the fact. And I believe I can make sense out of it. You can’t see anything properly while your eyes are blurred with tears. You can’t, in most things, get what you want if you want it too desperately: anyway, you can’t get the best out of it. ‘Now! Let’s have a real good talk’ reduces everyone to silence. ‘I must get a good sleep tonight’ ushers in hours of wakefulness. Delicious drinks are wasted on a really ravenous thirst. Is it similarly the very intensity of the longing that draws the iron curtain, that makes us feel we are staring into a vacuum when we think about our dead? ‘Them as asks’ (at any rate ‘as asks too importunately’) don’t get. Perhaps can’t.

And so, perhaps, with God. I have gradually been coming to feel that the door is no longer shut and bolted. Was it my own frantic need that slammed it in my face? The time when there is nothing at all in your soul except a cry for help may be just the time when God can’t give it: you are like the drowning man who can’t be helped because he clutches and grabs. Perhaps your own reiterated cries deafen you to the voice you hoped to hear.”

Who Is This Jesus?

That’s the question of the night from speaker Tyler McKenzie.

Who else’s birthday do we still celebrate nearly 2,000 years later? Who else do we gather together– some risking their lives to do so–to honor, to celebrate, to sing songs about, to worship?

Who else has changed the way we look at history? Literally, there is a before and after centered around this Man.

Some want Jesus to be a nice guy, a great teacher, a grand example. But Jesus’ own words don’t allow that. The best explanation of Jesus comes from the pen of one Mr. C. S. Lewis, who said that Jesus was either crazy enough to be committed to an asylum, a pathological liar on a grand scale, or He was who He said He was. In other words, Jesus was either a lunatic, a liar, or He’s Lord.

I bet I got a chorus of “Amen”s on that, but how many of us actually live like Jesus is Lord? Like what He did and Who He was (and still is) matters more than anything or anyone else in history?

Jesus is not a board member in your life whose advice you take under consideration. He’s boss of your life. He’s in control. To use a very non-pc term, He’s your Master.

I heard it somewhere and thought it was worth sharing– if someone rejects Christianity, the question to ask is “What version of Jesus was presented to you?”

Was it meek-and-mild Jesus who seemed bored most of the time? Was it the Jesus who just wanted us to all get along and was completely passive? Was it the Jesus who was a white, middle-class Republican who lived in the suburbs and drove a minivan?

Or was it the Ultimate God-Man who beat death on its own terms and emerged from the grave victorious? Was it that Jesus who went through it all for love of you and me?

It’s not about sin management. It’s not about having your doctrines line up like ducks in a row. It’s not about being a good Christian who fastidiously keeps the list of things not to do. It’s about once being dead in sin and now being alive because Jesus died for me and gave me His life so that I could really and truly and finally live.

That’s it.

 

For Those Who Grieve

“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid. The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness, the yawning. I keep on swallowing.

At other times it feels like being mildly drunk, or concussed. There is a sort of invisible blanket between the world and me. I find it hard to take in what anyone says. Or perhaps, hard to want to take it in. It is so uninteresting. Yet I want the others to be about me. I dread the moments when the house is empty. If only they would talk to one another and not to me.

There are moments, most unexpectedly, when something inside me tries to assure me that I don’t really mind so much, not so very much, after all. Love is not the whole of a man’s life. I was happy before I ever met H. I’ve plenty of what are called ‘resources.’ People get over these things. Come, I shan’t do so badly. One is ashamed to listen to this voice but it seems for a little to be making out a good case. Then comes a sudden jab of red-hot memory and all this ‘commonsense’ vanishes like an ant in the mouth of a furnace” (C. S. Lewis, A Grief Observed).

C. S. Lewis wrote this after his wife passed away from cancer. It is the most brutally honest book on grief that I’ve ever read (not that I go around reading books on grief all the time).

“Then I heard a voice from heaven saying, ‘Write: The dead who die in the Lord from now on are blessed.’

‘Yes,” says the Spirit, ‘let them rest from their labors, for their works follow them!'” (Rev. 14:13, HCSB).

“I heard a voice out of Heaven, ‘Write this: Blessed are those who die in the Master from now on; how blessed to die that way!’

‘Yes,’ says the Spirit, ‘and blessed rest from their hard, hard work. None of what they’ve done is wasted; God blesses them for it all in the end’ (Rev. 14:13, The Message).

 

 

The Silver Chair

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So now I’m reading The Silver Chair. That means I only have one more Narnia book after this. Also, I believe there will be a movie hitting theaters in the next year or two based on this book (although I’m a bit skeptical as to how faithful the filmmakers will be to the original source material).

I do love this book.

I love how Eustace Scrubb and Jill Pole escape from their dreary clouded school day into bright and sunny Narnia. Well, technically they start out in Aslan’s country, but it’s in the same world.

I also love that ol’ Puddleglum, the Marsh-wiggle. He’s the pessimist of all pessimists, but he’s the one who keeps the other two grounded and who comes through grandly in the climactic scene (which I won’t divulge for those who haven’t read these books yet).

I especially love how the book’s theme is that you can make a royal mess at the start– to the point that it seems like you’ll never get back on track– and still at the end find a way to succeed. After all, it’s not how you start that matters, but how you finish.

More accurately in my experience, it’s not how many times you’ve screwed up or how big a fiasco you’ve made of your life up to this point, but how God can transform even that into good. Or better yet into something marvelous.

It’s funny how the evil scheme was to get one of the main characters, who had been bewitched, to steal what was already rightfully his. It’s funnier still how Satan did the same to Jesus, offering Him the world if He would only worship the prince of lies. Jesus knew that the world and everything in it was already His. Furthermore, He knew that all this world was not Satan’s to give in the first place.

Temptation is often the devil trying to get us to go after something good, but in the wrong way at the wrong time, like having premarital sex or having an affair instead of enjoying intimacy with the one God made especially for you. He offers what is not really his to give and what God alone can truly give, but often in a way that is different and much better than we would have chosen.

So I give the book 5 stars. Out of 5.

PS There is a BBC film version that is quite faithful to the book but looks as though it had a special effects budget of about $8. It’s good in a campy sort of way.

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

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“It isn’t Narnia, you know,” sobbed Lucy. “It’s you. We shan’t meet you there. And how can we live, never meeting you?”
“But you shall meet me, dear one,” said Aslan.
“Are -are you there too, Sir?” said Edmund.
“I am,” said Aslan. “But there I have another name. You must learn to know me by that name. This was the very reason why you were brought to Narnia, that by knowing me here for a little, you may know me better there” (C. S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader).

I’m now almost done with my favorite of all the Narnia books– The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. That means only two more to go after this one.

There’s so much to like in this book, but the best part is toward the end when they’re getting close to the end of the world, beyond which lies Aslan’s country. Spoiler alert.

The book reminds me that at some point, we have to say goodbye to the ones we love. That’s hard. But the key is in the perspective. That is, you focus on the time you had and the memories you made instead of the loss. Plus, God never takes anything away without giving something better in return. Usually, that something is God Himself. But I digress.

Even though I read these books through every year and I know I’ll read them again at some point in 2016, it still makes me a bit sad knowing that I’m nearing the end of these books.

I think my favorite character is that noble mouse Reepicheep. He’s the smallest of them all, yet he’s also the bravest and most daring. He’s the one who wants to head into the darkness and stay at Ramandu’s table for the adventure of it.

But I like Lucy, too. After all, I did name my cat after her.