Tag Archives: C. S. Lewis

Writer’s Rules

C.S. Lewis was a English scholar, writers and theologian. His many works and writings are still widely used today. He was not only a great writer of books but a caring man who answered his mail and never missed an opportunity to encourage young writers. In 1959 an American schoolgirl wrote to C. S. Lewis asking him for advice on the craft of writing. He sent her a list of eight rules.

1. Turn off the radio.

2. Read good books and avoid most magazines.

3. Write with the ear, not the eye. Make every sentence sound good.CS Lewis Writing

4. Write only about things that interest you. If you have no interests, you won’t ever be a writer.

5. Be clear. Remember that readers can’t know your mind. Don’t forget to tell them exactly what they need to know to understand you.

6. Save odds and ends of writing attempts, because you may be able to use them later.

7. You need a well-trained sense of word-rhythm, and the noise of a typewriter will interfere.

8. Know the meaning of every word you use.

Not many of us even think about typewriters and radios anymore but we are still surrounded by distractions that can blur our focus and rob us of some jewel that might have been. Lewis’s advice is just as alive today as it was nearly 60 years ago when he first penned this list. I past this along to all my fellow bloggers and readers.


Prayer

Lord help me to develop the talents that you have seen to bestow upon me. Guide me to use my time wisely and to continue to work on my gifts.

Amen

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One with God

But until I am made one with God in my very essence, I will never have complete rest or true peace; that is to say, until I am so fastened to Him that there is absolutely no created thing between my God and me.

—Julian of Norwich

The desire to be one with God is the ultimate aim of all believers. If we are one with God, our struggles are lessened, our understanding is infinite, our compassion is beyond belief and our motivation is always pure. John Wesley gave up on that possibility of perfection in later life. The scripture tell us, “Indeed, there is no one on earth who is righteous, no one who does what is right and never sins.” The simple fact that we cannot achieve perfection on this earth begs the question, why should the Julian-Quote-1believer seek oneness with God? Let’s use Julian’s three concepts (rest, peace & closeness) to unpack this question.

WE SEEK REST

We exist in a tumultuous, ever spinning world, of God’s own making. Julian asks for complete rest. In my assessment this is probably never going happen for us. Perhaps there may be an extremely rare, one in a billion, who experience true rest this side of heaven, but it should not be the goal that makes or breaks our walk with God. As we seek oneness we can fine joyous times of rest as we worship, pray and experience God’s spirit in our faith communities. If we expect perfect rest, we are like the people who used to tell me that “…if all of the bible is not true then none of it is.” Such an attitude lacks understanding of the Christian journey of renewal and redemption that we all travel. Seek rest in all ways possible, and God will give you wonderful times of rest and soul renewal.

WE SEEK PEACE

In this journey of oneness we find peace even in our failures, because we live in the hope of the better future. One who seeks this goal is a “never give up person.” No matter how difficult, how discouraging or impossible life seems, God is always near. This concept stirs in us a holy restlessness that steers our lives as surely as the currents of the ocean steer ocean liners. Our peace may not be the ultimate peace, but is an abiding sense of being on the journey with God. Peace is available to those who seek it.

CLOSENESS

Julian says,”… so fastened to Him that there is absolutely no created thing between my God and me.” I am going to use the word closeness to flesh out this idea. We experience closeness in many facets of our lives. We are close to our spouses, partners, children, parents and some special friends. In each of these relationships there are filters in place that determine how much we will give, share and trust one another. As our relationship grows stronger, the filters become lessened and we become “as one.” That is the closeness Julian refers to when she says that no created thing would be between her and God. We all know that until death there will be created things between us and God. Such reality does not preclude a closeness to our Creator that borders on supernatural. After all, He is our supernatural creator. The point here is not to hold back from our Creator. We must let Him into our dark places. Just as closeness is never achieved on earth until our significant others see us at our worst, the same is true with God. Let Him in and the results will be remarkable.

Keep these three things in mind and you may get closer to God than you ever dreamed.

CS-Lewis-Quote-1


A Prayer for Closeness

Dear Lord, Life has handed me my share of problems and distractions, but I know that you have it under control. I know that you love me in spite of who I am because that is what you do. My greatest desire is to focus on you in all that I do and say. Please give me that strength and desire to do so. May we grow closer from day to day.

Amen

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The Garment of Humility

There are certain kinds of trees which never bear any fruit as long as their branches stay up straight, but if stones are hung on the branches to bend them down they begin to bear fruit. So it is with the soul. When it is humbled it begins to bear fruit, and the more fruit it bears the lowlier it becomes. So also the saints; the nearer they get to God, the more they see themselves as sinners.

—–Dorotheos of Gaza

Paul called himself the chief, or first, of sinners. Isaiah said, “We are all sheep that have rebelled, and gone our own way, and God has laid our sin upon the shoulders of the messiah.” (My paraphrase) When we can come to grips with these three factors: we are all primarily sinners, we will go our way and Jesus took ours sins upon himself, we will begin the process of becoming humble. Without the humbling of our souls, we will never do the true work of God. On our own we can become legally righteous and live a “punch list” sort of Christianity, but the spirit of the ONE who went to the cross for us will never be the pervasive force in our lives.

Humility-MertonA great deal of energy is expended to avoid pain and difficulty in our lives. We shield our children and consequently ourselves from the reality of the world that surrounds us. These activities in and of themselves are not harmful or sinful. They can, however,r lead to a false sense of accomplishment and safety that does not challenge us to meet the powers of this world and find the victory that comes when we do. We are given battles, our souls are weighed down, our branches are pruned, but all of these things make us stronger in our reliance in God. Most importantly, we are reminded that we are fatally flawed without our reliance on Him.

Coming nearer to God, as the monk says, is a matter of acknowledging our sins and living with them and not being controlled by them. We will never know the true power of God until we recognize our weaknesses. If we are to bear fruit in this life we must don the garment of humility that weighs down the arms of self-sufficiency that so naturally dominate us. Such an action will bring humility to our souls and spiritual productivity to our lives.

Humility-CS-Lewis1

Prayer

Lord, give me the wisdom to know the need and marshal the courage to accept the garment of humility that my sinful soul so badly needs. By accepting the garment, I am allowing you to lead me in the direction of spiritual humility which blesses me and those I encounter. Lord, this day I ask my arms to be drawn down by confession of my sins, so I might be lifted by your grace.

Amen

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The Problem of Pain

In “The Problem of Pain,” published in 1940, Lewis offered the reader this overly humble confession: “You would like to know how I behave when I am experiencing pain, not writing books about it.  You need not guess for I will tell you; I am a great coward.”  In a letter to his brother Warnie, written while working on the book, he claimed: “If you are writing a book about pain and then Quote March 30you get some actual pain […] it does not either, as the cynic would expect, blow the doctrine to bits, nor, as a Christian would hope, turn into practice, but remains quite unconnected and irrelevant, just as any other bit of actual life does when you are reading or writing.” Neither the confession nor the claim stood the test of time.  In 1961, Lewis wrote about pain again, this time about his own.  In “A Grief Observed” he inadvertently satisfied the alleged curiosity of his readers.  But he did not come across as a coward; nor did his firm grasp of “a theory of suffering” prove altogether irrelevant.  True, his faith in God was challenged; he uttered blasphemies; he doubted God’s existence; he went through the very objections to God’s goodness which he had refuted in “The Problem of Pain”  All of those complaints seemed valid in the midst of his hurt.  But then, as a good southerner would say – he thought better of himself: “Why do I make room in my mind for such filth and nonsense? Do I hope that if feeling disguises itself as thought I shall feel less?”

When feeling disguises itself as intellect, nonsense is possible.  Nowhere is it truer than in the problem of pain.  Yet, from the Christian perspective, anything that can reasonably be said about suffering is only a feeble glimpse of  Paschal Mystery.  Lewis’s solution to “the problem of pain” prepares the intellect for a ponder the Mystery.

Prayer

Lord we feel pain in so many ways in this life and we fail understand why you don’t protect us more. Today, we pray, that you will give us a deeper understanding of this journey through life. Help us to see the way that our pain has , and continues, to make us who we are and who we hope to be. May God give us the handles we need to navigate the sometimes very difficult path that is set before us.

Amen

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C. S. Lewis Rules

C. S. Lewis was not only a great writer of books but a caring man who answered his mail and never missed an opportunity to encourage young writers. In 1959 an American schoolgirl wrote to C. S. Lewis asking him for advice on the craft of writing. He sent her a list of eight rules.

 

1. Turn off the radio.

2. Read good books and avoid most magazines.

3. Write with the ear, not the eye. Make every sentence sound good.CS Lewis Writing

4. Write only about things that interest you. If you have no interests, you won’t ever be a writer.

5. Be clear. Remember that readers can’t know your mind. Don’t forget to tell them exactly what they need to know to understand you.

6. Save odds and ends of writing attempts, because you may be able to use them later.

7. You need a well-trained sense of word-rhythm, and the noise of a typewriter will interfere.

8. Know the meaning of every word you use.

Not many of us even think about typewriters and radios anymore but we are still surrounded by distractions that can blur our focus and rob us of some jewel that might have been. Lewis’s advice is just as alive today as it was nearly 60 years ago when he first penned this list.

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Evil and Innocence

We spend an inordinate amount of time bemoaning the evils of our day. Each day brings a new political and social organization whose primary focus is to turn our country toward “Christianity.” There is a sense that the world has never been worse than is right now.

Nearly 60 years ago C. S. Lewis said:lewiscs34

“The practical problem of Christian politics is not that of drawing up schemes for a Christian society, but that of living as innocently as we can with unbelieving fellow-subjects under unbelieving rulers who will never be perfectly wise and good and who will sometimes be very wicked and very foolish.”

The problem then and now is not that the society is a failure, but that individuals fail to see the role of innocence in their lives. Innocence means believing and doing the “red letter” words of the Bible, and accepting that they are the words of Jesus.

Then we can believe:

  • Innocence is turning the other cheek even when we have the advantage.
  • Innocence is trusting in people that are not saints.
  • Innocence is giving a second chance, and the second, second chance.
  • Innocence is going tone more mile for someone who doesn’t deserve it.
  • Innocence is believing that God will win in the end, and we don’t have to make it happen.

When we can embody these principles and more, we become world changers. Our live and our influence become a great factor in the lives of others. Therefore, by our practice many others are led to a knowledge of the love of God and the reality of Jesus as Savior of the world

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Clement, Philosophy and Paganism

ClementIn the early stages of the development of Christian development it was ridiculed and refuted as too mysterious and not liable to be understood by the human mind. The Church father Clement and his followers had the challenge of presenting Christianity as a form of philosophy without ever compromising the essence of the Christian faith. These early defenders of the faith worked against a twofold danger. While they genuinely tried to resolve the pagan antagonisms they experienced because they were Christians, it was their own fellow believers who were also hostile for any sort of theological compromise. (sounds familiar )

One of these early church peers observed, it seemed that a chance of any peace between the Greeks and Christians was virtually impossible:

On the one hand, the completely negative attitude of many uneducated Christians towards Greek philosophy prevented Christianity from assuming a scientific and philosophical character, and thus limited greatly its chances of success; on the other hand, the pagan world did not refrain from attacking the new religion.

However, the Alexandrian fathers found a solution. It was contained in the mission of the Alexandrian school and its teachers to develop once and for all a coherent synthesis of Greek science and religion. The result was Christian philosophy, which, Clement realized, was the only hope of joining the pagan and Christian parties together under one rational and acceptable Christian religion. While those in the like of Tertullian renounced the remolding of Christian doctrine to fit philosophical ideals, the Alexandrian party became a pioneer in both its fresh theological endeavors and in its success to finally spread the Christian faith among the intellectual circles of imperial society. Clement of Alexandria, one of the most revered deans of the Catechetical School for his philosophical theology and intellectual acumen, was one of the foremost figures who succeeded in uniting the missions of religion and science.

Our 21st century challenge is to reignite the dynamic dialogue that existed at the time of Clement- a dialogue that brought all parties together to explore the great mysteries of life. Such a dialogue could transform the mission of the church and revitalize it as a bastion of thinking and enlightenment to the world. We must battle the same uneducated and fearful bias that existed in the time of Clement, for by doing so, we open up a great avenue of opportunity for the gospel.

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March 20–Day 14

Exodus 20:1-6

1Then God spoke all these words: 2I am the Lord your God, who brought you outLent_2011_40days of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery;3you shall have no other gods before me. 4You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 5You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me,6but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments.

“What Satan put into the heads of our remote ancestors was the idea that they could ‘be like gods’ – could set up on their own as if they had created themselves – be their own masters – invent some sort of happiness for themselves outside God, apart from God. And out of that hopeless attempt has come nearly all that we call human history – money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery – the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.”

—–C. S. Lewis

Prayer Starter — Lord we all seem to find gods to put ahead of You. Help me to serve YOU alone.

LENTEN PRAYER GUIDE

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Love Till the End

Radiant with Prayer

A long time ago there lived a little boy whose parents had died. He was taken in by an aunt who raised him as her own child. Many years later, after the boy had grown and become successful in business, he received a letter from his aunt. She was terminally ill and from the tone of her letter, quite afraid of death. Thus, the man who had been raised and strongly influenced by this woman decided to write her a letter in response.

 He began, “It is now 35 years since I, a little boy of six, was left quite alone in the world. You sent me word that you would give me a home and be mother to me. I have never forgotten the day when I made the long journey of ten miles to your home. I remember being disappointed that instead of coming yourself, you sent your servant, Caesar, to fetch me. I well remember my tears and anxiety as, perched atop your horse and clinging to Caesar, we rode off to your home. Night fell before we finished the journey and as it grew dark I became more afraid. ‘Do you think she will go to bed before we get there?’ I asked Caesar nervously. ‘Oh, no,’ Caesar replied, ‘she will certainly be up to stay with you. When we get through these woods you will see her light shining in the window.’

 “We made it to the clearing and there was the light as he promised. I remember that you were waiting in the doorway. You put your arms around me and lifted me, a tired and frightened little boy, and gently took me from the horse and safely placed me on the ground. You had a fire burning and a hot supper was waiting for me on the stove. After supper you took me to my new room. You listened to my prayers and then you waited until I fell asleep.

 “You probably know why I am retelling these events to you now. Very soon, God is going to send for you and take you to a new home. I am trying to tell you that you need not worry nor be afraid of the summons or of the strange journey or the dark messenger of death. God can be trusted to do as much for you as you did for me so many years ago. You can wait and not fear, for at the end of the road you will find love and welcome awaiting you, and you will be safe in God’s care. I will watch and pray for you until you are out of my sight. I shall also wait for the day when I will make the same journey and find you waiting for me to greet me at the end of the road.”

 —-Author Unknown

I share this story today in the hope that it may remind us of the great love that God has for us. He, in his heart of grace, is with us in our darkest hours. We are never alone, never abandoned, never forsaken, but are always resting in the bosom of his love. A love that defies description, or comparison to anything we possess. C. S. Lewis walked into the midst of a great argument about the love of God toward us and said, “Oh, that’s easy. It’s grace.” Yes, that is grace, and God has chosen us to be the recipients of His marvelous grace filled love.

  • Grace (fivesixteenforfaith.wordpress.com)

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To Have Faith in Christ

Christ icon in Taizé

“[To have Faith in Christ] means, of course, trying to do all that He says. There would be no sense in saying you trusted a person if you would not take his advice. Thus if you have really handed yourself over to Him, it must follow that you are trying to obey Him. But trying in a new way, a less worried way. Not doing these things in order to be saved, but because He has begun to save you already. Not hoping to get to Heaven as a reward for your actions, but inevitably wanting to act in a certain way because a first faint gleam of Heaven is already inside you.” 

—-C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity 

As Christians, Christ followers, we are called to be hands on radical servants. As Christ fed the hungry, clothed the naked , and consorted with all manner of persons, we too must be willing to go where the opportunity for ministry presents itself. Ministry is inconvenient, and doesn’t come wrapped in neat little packages. Lewis urges us to our surrender to Christ seriously. That level of seriousness requires discipline and action that come from within the center of the soul.

Prayer- Loving Christ help me to see the heart of being a Christian, and follow it wherever it leads.

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