Posts tagged C.S. Lewis

C.S. Lewis: A Life Remembered

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CS LewisThere are some events if your life that you are able to remember so vividly due to the pleasant emotions that surround the memories. When I was around the age of twenty-two, I received the box set of C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia. I had never been exposed to any of Lewis’ work. As I opened the first book in the series, The Magician’s Nephew, the Narnia magic grabbed my by the collar and pulled me deep into the book. I spent several days reading the entire series. As I remember that week of my life, I am flooded with pleasant memories. I had never read fiction that made me love Christ more. I was reminded of how majestic, holy, good, and terrifying God is. Many people view fiction as something people read to be merely entertained, but good fiction is so much more. We learn through the art of story. After all, didn’t Jesus often use story to give theology a face? Lewis was a master in carving out fiction that brings us focus. We are reminded that the majestic lion, Aslan, who is the Christ figure in Narnia isn’t safe. “But He’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

It wasn’t long after my journey through the wardrobe, that I met some demons, Screwtape and Wormwood. In his book, The Screwtape Letters, I was reminded how strident Satan is in the destruction of man. How we are often manipulated through suggestion by unseen forces bent on our demise, or at least to bring us pain, misery, and unhappiness. We are reminded of the subtlety of the enemy. “Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one–the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.”

A few years later I hailed a bus through heaven and hell in The Great Divorce. Everyone can take “the bus” to the destination of his or her choice. Some choose heaven, others hell, but all choose. As Lewis reminds us, “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, “Thy will be done,” and those to whom God says, in the end, “Thy will be done.” All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. Those who knock it is opened.”

Next, it was in the widely read Mere Christianity that I consumed from Lewis. A masterpiece in apologetics that should be required reading for every believer.  Here he gives us a powerful and rational defense for Christian belief, which at one point he rejected. Here we see the logical mind of a former atheist who assents to the truth, and then defends that truth passionately. He reminds us in Mere Christianity that he continued to have questions and struggles at times, which is a part if being intellectually honest and pursuing truth. He writes, “Now that I am a Christian I do have moods in which the whole thing looks improbable: but when I was an atheist I had moods in which Christianity looked terribly probable.”

We should remember that Lewis was happy in his atheism, as I would later find out when I read Surprised by Joy. Here is his account of when he bent his knee and will before God and accepted Christ. “You must picture me alone in that room in Magdalen, night after night, feeling, whenever my mind lifted even for a second from my work, the steady, unrelenting approach of Him whom I so earnestly desired not to meet. That which I greatly feared had at last come upon me. In the Trinity Term of 1929 I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England.” Lewis reached the point where he could not deny what was becoming increasingly apparent to both his intellect and his emotion, that God was real, came and dwelt among us, died for the sins of mankind, and had power over the grave.

Then it was earlier this year that I read Till We Have Faces. It is here that Lewis contrasts sacred and profane love. We are reminded that real love, correct love, does not consume, it gives.

I have now on my shelf, Lewis’ Space Trilogy. I have yet to read it. I am hesitant to take it off the shelf, but at the same time, I am incredibly ready to delve into more fiction conjured up by the mind of this tweedy, old Oxford don. I wait to read it only because I dread the day when I have no new books to read from this beloved author.

So why am I recounting with you the pleasant memories I have had with the works of Lewis? Simply because he passed from this world fifty years ago today. He is where he belongs. In his real country. He has journeyed “further up” and “further in.” We are blessed by his works. A life devoted to Christ is one to be celebrated.

Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
Josh

So, what is your favorite Lewis book? How has he impacted you?

Quotable Quotes

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Christians Quotes_C

Quotable Quotes

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Quotable Quotes

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Apologetic Wednesday: Jesus, Hugh Hefner, and the Heart

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Hugh Hefner is a name, regardless of one’s worldview, that the vast majority of people are familiar with. One might call him the quintessential playboy, despite the fact that he is in his mid 80’s. He has been selling sex, lust, and smut for over fifty years. At what cost has he built his pornographic empire? I would argue, along with many others, at the devaluing of women and a disregard for the sacredness of sexuality. He has done much to debase sexuality; reducing it to an act based simply on titillating the senses.

Last week Hefner’s son, Marston Hefner, pleaded no contest to charges of domestic violence against his girlfriend and playboy playmate, Claire Sinclair. It seems apparent that there is a logical connection between Marston’s actions and the environment he was immersed in. This is not to say that due to Marston’s environment he had no choice but to abuse or act violently against his girlfriend. Instead, it is an affirmation that one’s worldview, or outlook on life, lead to behavior. That is, our attitudes, beliefs, and thoughts eventually lead to actions.

Marston Hefner was taught to devalue women, so should one be incredibly shocked when he does just that? Ideas have consequences. Worldview always leads to action. Thoughts and behaviors are inextricably linked. Why is there surprise when sex is desacralized, women are devalued, and violence results? Marston was just living out the tenets of his worldview, though this was not necessarily cognitively.

This axiom is not simply limited to just this specific incident. There is a bigger principle here. The worldview one espouses leads to certain behaviors. It is the simple law of cause and effect. The troubling part is many are surprised when a+b=c. What should we expect? As C.S. Lewis put it, “In a sort of ghastly simplicity we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.”

Whatever resides in the hearts of men always results in behavior to accompany those beliefs, attitudes, or thoughts. So if we encourage certain ideas or beliefs, such as desacralizing sexuality or reducing women to objects to gratify men, there is no reason to be surprised when these beliefs are acted upon.

Jesus put it this way in Mark 7. “For from within, out of people’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immoralities, thefts, murders, adulteries, greed, evil actions, deceit, promiscuity, stinginess, blasphemy, pride, and foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a person.”

Thoughts lead to actions. What goes on inside will come out. We cannot escape the logical outworking of our worldview.

Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
Josh

My Prayer Is Better Than Your Prayer!

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Prayer is such a curious thing to examine and ponder. I have so many questions about how it works, considering God’s foreknowledge, sovereignty, and man’s free will. It is one of the more perplexing and fascinating aspects of the faith. It is incredibly complex, yet wonderfully simple. I do know that it works, though not always with the results I might have liked.

We are reminded in scripture to “pray without ceasing”, “let our requests be made known to God”, and that “we have not because we ask not.” Prayer is an important part of the Christian life and can be discussed from many different angles. In the future, I would like to explore the topic in greater detail, but for now let’s focus on a single aspect.

Have you ever examined your prayer life? What are you asking God for? I think sometimes I get it all wrong. I know God wants me to pour out my heart. I understand that nothing is off limits, but sometimes I think I approach prayer incorrectly.

If multitudes of people are praying for their favorite team in the World Series to win, whose prayer does God answer? Is it the team with the most advocates? What about the teen who is praying he gets accepted in a college out of state while his mother prays for him to remain at the local college? Who wins that prayer skirmish? Who wins when one job position is available and several people are all praying to land the job? Does God simply Eeny, meeny, miny, moe it?

Sometimes I pray the opposite of what other people pray. Is my prayer better than your prayer? Is there a hierarchy? Does God pick up the phone quicker and respond in a more expedient manner for some than others? I don’t think so. I know God hears everyone. I know God loves for us to speak with Him regularly. I also know that at times God loves to answer prayers with a resounding yes, and at other times deems it best to say no.

So who does God hear when people pray for different things? Why does He say yes and at times say no? Does God already know the answer before we ask Him? Sometimes it can all seem very confusing.

This is where I think we get confused and misunderstand much of the purpose behind prayer. Sure, God wants us to ask for things and tell Him our needs. But often, I think we approach God with a wish list and that is that. We call on Him as if He is some celestial genie ready to respond to our whims. Seems sort of narcissistic doesn’t it?

What if one of the biggest reasons for prayer were to get our wants, wishes, and desires in line with His own? What if prayer were more about affecting who we are than getting God to intervene? Perhaps approaching prayer that way would change the way we pray. Maybe then who wins the game wouldn’t matter so much. Maybe then Mom and Son would ask what God wants instead of what they want. Maybe then, we would consider whether taking a job pleases God and is beneficial in Him using our lives than simply gratifying for ourselves.

What if a big aspect of prayer were simply having a conversation and pouring out our hearts, and less about our wish list? Prayer is personal. When I talk to my wife, I don’t assail her with everything I want or things I need her to do. Much of the time I talk to her about my dreams, hopes, fears, wishes, happiness, sadness, regrets, concerns, etc. I talk to her about life and our closeness and intimacy grows. Maybe that is what prayer is supposed to be about more than anything else.

I am not saying we should stop asking God for things. I don’t feel like anything is off limits when it comes to talking with God. Yet, I think we would do well to remember that He is the all-powerful Creator of the universe and already knows ahead of time what we will be discussing with Him. Perhaps a large part of prayer is simply relational, just us spending some time talking to the One that loves us deeply. Also, just maybe, prayer has a lot to do with changing ourselves.

“I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I’m helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time- waking and sleeping. It doesn’t change God- it changes me.” –C.S. Lewis

Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
Josh

What have you learned about prayer? Please share.

10 People I Would Love To Have Coffee With

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Recently, I was thinking about interesting or intellectual people, living or dead, who I would love to share a conversation with over a cup of coffee. This was a difficult task because there are so many different people I would be elated to meet at the local Starbucks, but I decided to narrow it down to ten. You will notice Jesus is not on this list. It seems obvious that he would be the first choice, so I did not add Him. Besides, I do talk with Him on a daily basis. My list of ten people I would love to have coffee with follows in no particular order.

  1. The Apostle Paul
  2. C.S. Lewis
  3. The All State Mayhem Guy
  4.  Moses
  5. Abraham Lincoln
  6. Ravi Zacharias
  7. Ted Dekker
  8. Norman Geisler
  9. Thomas Aquinas
  10. Jon Acuff

If by some chance, I were to be able to meet the Apostle Paul down at Hebrews coffee shop, here is what our conversation might be like:

Me: So, what are you drinking?

Paul: Coffee. I take it black as Tar…sus. That is a hometown joke. What are you having?

Me: A White Chocolate Mocha with extra whip.

Paul: That sounds like some sort of sissy drink.

Me: Nervous chuckle…So, tell me about your experience coming to know Christ.

Paul: Haven’t you read my writings? Well, it was pretty intense. I was walking down the Damascus road, and all of the sudden this blinding light practically knocks me on my rear, and I hear this booming voice. I have no idea what is happening, so I cry out, who are you? And the voice answers, “I am Jesus, who you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.”

Me: What’s a goad?

Paul: An epic word for a cattle prod.

Me: Oh, neat.

Paul: Yea, so I knew in that moment my life was changed. I felt instant remorse for all of my prior actions. Everything was different from that day on. I was a changed man. I felt free.

Me: Some people wonder if it was a hallucination or something you had.

Paul: Seriously? Me? With no previous history of mental illness? No, I know what I saw. You don’t lay your life down over some hallucination that you might question. Trust me, when you see Christ, you know you just had an experience with the transcendent.

Me: That is some story. Speaking of you dying, you sure suffered a lot for your faith.

Paul: Yea, but I counted it as a privilege. I was beaten within an inch of my life. Shipwrecked once, that was sort of fun. People were stuck listening to me preach. I was also imprisoned for preaching the Gospel. I just couldn’t stop sharing it. Everything goes back to when I met Christ. When you experience Him, everything changes.

Me: Your determination and love for God are so inspiring to millions of people.

Paul: So what persecution have you had to endure for Christ?

Me: Well, sometimes people talk about me and give me snarky looks.

Paul: …

Me: Yea, plus church is really early. We have to be up around 8:00 AM to go sit in a padded pew for a couple of hours.

Paul:…

Me: Finding the time to read the Bible and pray can be difficult as well. There is only so much time in a day. Then there are people always judging your motives and saying that you’re hypocritical these days. Yea, in todays times being a Christian and sharing your faith is hard.

Paul: Uh…yea. Sounds like it.

Me: So what do you think are some of the largest problems facing Christianity today?

Paul: People not engaging their minds in regards to their faith, along with a lack of discipline. It is really hard for me to understand how people can be lazy when they have experienced the Christ.

Me: That sounds exactly on the mark. You have really challenged me.

Paul: Glad to hear it! Well, I have to run now. It was good having a cup of Josephus with you.

Me: Josephus?

Paul: Yes, Josephus. Aka. Cup of Joe. Sorry, that was another ancient joke.

Me: Awkward chuckle. Thanks Paul. So great to have met you!

Paul: You too. See that you walk circumspectly. The days are evil you know. Make sure you are redeeming the time. Blessings friend.

Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
Josh

If you could have coffee with anyone, living or dead, who would it be?

Hell? Yes!

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Surely, a loving God would not send a person to hell, would He? The answer to this question is a resounding no. On the converse, a loving God would not send a person to heaven, either. Then where would a loving God send someone? The truth is, God gives us all a choice. We get to pick our own eternal destination.

When God created mankind, He had two options. He could force everyone to embrace Him as God. He could have essentially made us automaton (I try to work that word into conversation every chance I get) robots with no choice but to love Him. This really isn’t love at all. Love comes from a choice. God’s other option was to enable us with the ability to choose to accept or reject Him, which He did.

God has clearly communicated that He is perfect. His standard is perfection. All of mankind has fallen dreadfully short of God’s standard. Count the times we do wrong in a day. Think about the thoughts we have in a day. I would be embarrassed if someone camped out in my mind for a day. We are fallen and in need of redemption. God knew we would be in this predicament so He sent Christ to die in our place. All we have to do is accept the fact that we are fallen, believe what Christ did for us, ask to be forgiven, trust and accept Him. Done. Do this and you have chosen Heaven.

When you get down to it, some people don’t want anything to do with Christ. To this, God says okay. It is not what He wants for anyone, but He loves us enough to let us choose. For God to send a person to Heaven to dwell with Him, when that person wants nothing to do with God, would be hell for that individual. God will not go against our will. He will not force a person who rejects Him into heaven to be with Him anymore than He will force a person who accepts Him into Hell.

So, will a loving God send a person to hell? Absolutely not, we choose where we want to spend eternity.

“There are only two kids of people in the end: those who say to God, “Thy will be done” and those to whom God says, in the end, “Thy will be done.” All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self choice there could be no hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. To those who knock it is opened.”
-C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce

Thanks for tuning in to Apologetic Wednesday.

Walk Good. Live Wise. Be Blessed.
Josh

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