Tag Archives: C. S. Lewis

Sorting it Out

I have been asked to tell you what Christians believe, and I am going to begin by telling you one thing that Christians do not need to believe. If you are a Christian you do not have to believe that all the other religions are simply wrong all through. If you are an atheist you do have to believe that the main point in all the religions of the whole world is simply one huge mistake. If you are a Christian, you are free to think that all these religions, even the queerest ones, contain at least some hint of the truth.

—- C. S.Lewis

In the past few years I have become a great fan of British television and movies.  In doing so, I have become aware of the different expressions that are used in the UK in the same manner that people from the UK become aware of American expressions when they view American television and movies. An expression I hear quite often is, “Let’s sort it out.” The expression clearly means that the truth is somewhere in the situation. The job of the detective or the teacher is to find it.

Our very diverse society offers many concepts of religion, God and truth. Lewis urges us not to curtly dismiss the ones who are not of our stripe but rather to engage them and even learn from them. Simply put, to sort them out. Unfortunately, we have a tendency to attempt to destroy those ideas that conflict with our own. Christians do not have to live and believe in a protective bubble. Such an attitude  makes us an isolated and judgmental group that spends its time fighting anyone who sees things differently. As Christians we are called to witness our faith, but that witness imperative requires that we do sort out some things.

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We must sort out truth from prejudice.

Many of us have grown  up in traditions that demand certainty of belief. Certainty does give us a level of comfort which we all desire. Comfort, certainty, in and of themselves, are good. However, when our certainty makes it necessary to condemn others we begin to walk on shaky ground. God never wanted us to go around judging the world and deciding who is worthy and unworthy. When we become judges we invariably have a set of prejudged standards that we impose on everyone. If we don’t watch ourselves we will begin to assess worthiness on sight based on some predetermined set of rules. There is never any search for real truth. Our only interest is if the person looks or sounds “right.” The search of the Christian is for truth.

We must sort out evangelism from crusade.

Evangelism is the sharing of the good news of the path to God. A crusade is organized campaign concerning a social, political, or religious issue. Your relationship to God is a gift,  not an issue. As Christians we share the good news as just that – GOOD NEWS! God’s message of peace and harmony is shared with love and kindness. The message is never to be shared in a semi military fashion. We share as we go. Sharing is done by multiple small acts of kindness. Evangelism is the giving of one’s self to the service of others. We are not on a crusade but a journey with the message of Christ. Make your journey count.

We must sort out our irreducible minimums.

I would be remiss if I did not point out some “I believe” statements.

  • I believe  that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world.
  • I believe that all salvation is through Him.
  • I believe that He is the son of God.
  • I believe that He had a special birth.
  • I believe that there is an afterlife.
  • I believe God’s kingdom will come on earth as it is in heaven.
  • I believe that God is still active in this world.

Those are the “irreducible minimums “ that guide my life. Far be it from me to force others to agree with me, but these are the basis of how I determine my walk with God. Once our minimums are thought out and established we are ready to share with others. We can be faith sharing Christians without being grand inquisitors of the world. Know what you think and be open to listen and share.


Prayer

Lord, help me to see the value in people who disagree with me about you. Let me see the light that you have given them. Teach me to go forward and make a difference with all people not just those who agree with me. Allow me to see your light in all that I encounter.

Amen

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The Spirit of Christ

It is not for us to say who, in the deepest sense, is or is not close to the spirit of Christ. We do not see into men’s hearts. We cannot judge, and are indeed forbidden to judge.

—- C S Lewis

How many times have you been confronted with the question, are you a Christian? Our first response is obvious, yes! For some, that response requires a great many qualifiers. Have you had a dramatic “born again” experience or , like John Wesley, has your heart been strangely warmed ? C S Lewis in his writing warns us of such qualifiers. He asserts that the spirit of Christ is far more powerful than our words and expressions. Our place as Christians is to share the love and freedom that comes from knowing that spirit to all who come our way. Anything other than that would be judging, and we are not to judge. That judging is, in my opinion, the unforgivable sin

Every Christian is called to ministry by their Baptism. Our Baptism is the coming of the spirit of Christ upon us by our personal affirmation of Christ or by the affirmation of our faith community. Through that we are called to share that faith and love to our community. Faith and love cannot be shared while we are judging others.

  • The spirit of Christ is a spirit of love.
  • The spirit of Christ is a spirit of forgiveness.
  • The spirit of Christ is a spirit of inclusion.
  • The spirit of Christ is a spirit of freedom.

When we allow His spirit to rule our lives, we possess those qualities and are equipped to share them with the world. Being Christ like is not a contest of holiness but a challenge to be the good news to those we encounter. Have you shared the true love of God with anyone lately? If you did then you saw the shear joy that appeared on their faces when they were touched by that love. We live in a world that is reeling with division and strife and seeking to find a peace that only God can offer. People who see and feel forgiveness, freedom and inclusion are changed in an instant. Let us offer that as often as we can.


Prayer

Lord, help me to truly live in the spirit of Christ. Allow me to see his love in me and share it with others. Take away my drive to judge and replace it with a drive to love and forgive. May that spirit be my way of living.

Amen


 

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Lent Day 20

March 8

Sing to the Lord

Psalm 95

O come, let us sing to the Lord;
let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!
O come, let us worship and bow down,
let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!
For he is our God,
and we are the people of his pasture,
and the sheep of his hand.

O that today you would listen to his voice!
Do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah,
as on the day at Massah in the wilderness,
when your ancestors tested me,
and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work.


Prayer Thought

Lord, help me to remember and not neglect praising your name every day of my existence.


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Lent Day 15

March 2

Raised to Lordship

Psalm 105:16-21

When he summoned famine against the land,
and broke every staff of bread,
he had sent a man ahead of them,
Joseph, who was sold as a slave.
His feet were hurt with fetters,
his neck was put in a collar of iron;
until what he had said came to pass,
the word of the Lord kept testing him.
The king sent and released him;
the ruler of the peoples set him free.
He made him lord of his house,
and ruler of all his possessions.

 


 

Prayer Thought

Lord, sometimes you have great plans for me that I fail to see. Please give me the courage to wait.


 

“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art…. It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.”

― C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

 

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Lent Day 14

March 1

Christ Will Rise

Luke 16:19-31

‘There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man’s table; even the dogs would come and lick his sores. The poor man died and was carried away by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was being tormented, he looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side. He called out, “Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in agony in these flames.” But Abraham said, “Child, remember that during your lifetime you received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in agony. Besides all this, between you and us a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who might want to pass from here to you cannot do so, and no one can cross from there to us.” He said, “Then, father, I beg you to send him to my father’s house— for I have five brothers—that he may warn them, so that they will not also come into this place of torment.” Abraham replied, “They have Moses and the prophets; they should listen to them.” He said, “No, father Abraham; but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.” He said to him, “If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.” ’


Prayer Thought

Lord, give me the commitment to live every day as if it were my last. Allow me to become the one who looks forward to your coming.


“I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”

― C.S. Lewis

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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.

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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.

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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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