Prayer by Timothy Keller

I have always struggled with a consistent prayer life. I found the book “Prayer” by Timothy Keller to be extremely helpful in getting this part of my spiritual life on track. Specifically the two chapters I have outlined below. Using the Lord’s Prayer as a guide has really kept me from just using my prayer time as a “Santa Claus” list of wants. Also, dedicating myself to prayer time in the morning and a shorter prayer time as I go to bed (that includes a Psalm) has helped me to start and end my day well.

Two other things that have been helpful to me (and may or may not be to anyone else)…. The first is that when I am particularly tired, unfocused or have something heavy on my heart, I type out my prayers in a journal. It keeps me from becoming distracted or falling asleep and also I find that in the writing of the prayers I become aware of things I didn’t even know I was thinking. And the other goes back to C.S. Lewis (I know, imagine that). This is a quote from Screwtape Letters (whom was a senior demon telling a junior demon how to keep his human from grower closer to the Lord), “At the very least, they can be persuaded that the bodily position makes no difference to their prayers; for they constantly forget, what you must always remember, that they are animals and that whatever their bodies do affects their souls.” I have found that kneeling during my prayer time puts me and the Lord in our proper places. And in doing so with my body, helps me also get my mind to the proper place.

 

Chapter 8: The Prayer of Prayers

  • Augustine, Luther and Calvin all developed their instruction on how to pray mainly out of their understanding of the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13). This chapter goes into these three men’s insights line by line of the Lord’s prayer and how we can use the Lord’s prayer as a mode that will have all of the components that should always be a part of our prayer time with the Lord.
  • We must keep the Lord’s prayer from just becoming a ritual, by not simply just praying the words, but by understanding each part and praying each part’s truths through our our thoughts and what is actually going on in our lives.

 

  • “Our Father Who Art in Heaven”
    • This should cause us to be blown away by the fact that the God who could have justly judged us all severely, instead implants a comforting trust in our hearts through His fatherly love.
  • “Hallowed Be Thy Name”
    • This is a call that God’s Holy name be glorified among all nations. It is our time to praise God for who He is and thank him for his goodness in our life
  • “Thy Kingdom Come”
    • We are asking God to so fully rule us that we want to obey him with all our hearts and with joy. And we yearn for the day when God’s kingdom comes in full to make all things right.
  • “Thy Will be Done”
    • We ask God to grant us the grace to bear whatever it takes that we fully lie down our own will for our lives and take up the Lord’s will; acknowledging that the Lord knows best and we must trust him even when we don’t understand or like how he is bringing about his will in our lives. We echo Jesus’ words from the Garden of Gethsemane. It is an opportunity to give those things over to the Lord that we know we are hanging onto, that we are trying to accomplish on our own and our keeping us from falling submitting to God’s will.  
  • “Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread”
    • This is when we pray for the needs of ourself and others. We must be careful not to turn this into a list of wants. Augustine suggested we pray that God give us neither poverty or riches (Proverbs 30:8). It is also a time not to pray just for individuals, but for needs throughout the world; that the poor would have their daily bread, that those being exploited would be treated justly, etc.
  • “Forgive Us Our Debts as We Forgive Our Debtors”
    • This is the time when we search our hearts and lives in order to confess honestly before the Lord. Luther said this should not be a demeaning experience, but that if regular confession does not produce an increased confidence and joy in your life, then you do not truly understand salvation by grace. In addition, this is also a time to make sure there is no one we need to forgive, for it is hypocritical to seek the radical forgiveness of God, yet be unable to forgive those who have wronged us.
  • “Lead Us Not into Temptation”
    • This is not praying against being tempted, as this is inevitable and brings about spiritual growth. Instead, it is praying against “entering into temptation” (Matt 26:41), which means to entertain and consider the prospect of giving in to sin. Take time to pray against those things that you know are common temptations to you. While also considering those that might not be so obvious, like the temptation to be judgemental of co-workers or of the feeling self sufficiency in your wealth.
  • “Deliver Us from Evil” (or the evil one)
    • Luther said this is to pray against specific evils that come from the devil’s kingdom, while Augustine felt it was praying for deliverance against the remaining evils outside of us (as opposed to, “lead us not into temptation” being evils inside of us).

 

Chapter 15: Practice: Daily Prayer

A Pattern for Daily Prayer (This comes from Selwyn Hughes’ contribution to a book entitled My Path of Prayer, which contains short essays by Christian leaders on their main pattern of prayer)

  • Praying as soon as possible after waking
  • Read a passage of scripture to meditate on, including a Psalm
  • Take a moment to “still your mind” and remind yourself of God’s presence
  • Begin to pray
    • Start with adoration, praise and thanksgiving
    • Then, self-examination, confession and repentance
    • Lastly, Petitionary prayer for self, those he knew, the church and the world
  • End by stilling the mind again to be sure you have had heard from God what especially he wanted you to learn that morning

 

Praying the Psalms

 

  • There is more than one way to pray the Psalms
  • Verbatim prayer – pray the words of the Psalm back to the Lord as written
  • Paraphrase and personalize
  • “Deliver me from my enemies” turns into a prayer for the Lord to help you with temptations or spiritual traps you might fall into.
  • Responsive Praying  – Take themes and statements to stimulate adoration, confession and supplication

 

      • Psalm 116:7 – Return to your rest, my soul, for the Lord has been good to you — So, you pray, “O Lord, my heart does not rest in your goodness, it is never consoled as deeply as it should be by your grace. It is too restless. Help me to know you – – let your goodness be so real to my heart that it is completely at rest.
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Why Worry When You Have Jesus….Well, Do You Really Want to Hear My List?

If I were to catch you in a completely honest moment and ask you what you worried about right now; how would you answer? Maybe with a financial concern. Possibly you are worried about whether or not your rocky marriage is going to survive. Or maybe if you are ever going to find the right someone to marry. It might be that you are worried about your child who seems to be growing ever distant as they reach their teenage years. Or you might be concerned whether you are going to be stuck in a job you can’t stand for the rest of your life. 

Chances are, whether it made my list or not, if you were forthright there would be at least a few things in your life that you are worried about. But, wait. If we have entrusted our lives to Jesus, that shouldn’t be….Or should it? When you take a closer look, it seems there are times that Jesus gives us plenty of reasons to worry. Yet, there are other times when He tells to accept His peace and that we have no reason to worry. So let’s take a look at how Jesus turns an apparent contradiction into a comforting confirmation.

  • Just a few of the reasons Jesus gives us to worry

    • Matthew 8:18 – 22 (Cost of following Jesus)
      • No place to lay your head
      • Let the dead bury the dead
    • Matthew 10:37-39 (Love Him more than family)
      • Love Jesus more than mother, father, son and daughter
      • Lose your life to find it
      • Take up your cross
    • Matthew 16:24 – 27 (Take up your cross)
      • Deny self
      • Take up your cross
      • Lose your life
    • Luke 14:25-33(Count the cost, give up everything)
      • Hate your family
      • Carry Your Cross
      • If you do not give up everything, you cannot be His disciple
    • Matthew 19:16 – 30 (Sell everything)
      • Rich man asks what must be done to inherit eternal life and Jesus responds to SELL EVERYTHING.
  • Oh and by the way, No need to worry

    • Matthew 11:28-30 (Yoke is easy)
      • If you are weary, come to Jesus
      • He will provide rest for your soul
      • His yoke is easy and burden is light
    • Matthew 6:25-34 (Birds of the air, lilies of the field)
      • 25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? 28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendorwas dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
  • Okay, so….how does this all fit together?

    • Jesus doesn’t tell us that there won’t be worrisome things in our life. Just that we need not worry about them.
    • Interesting thing about birds and lilies. Let’s start with the lilies. They don’t have brains. They don’t think. They are not thinking about a drought. They are just soaking up the rain. Birds have extremely tiny brains and do not think ahead to the winter when food gets scarce. They are only concerned with finding their next worm….Jesus is telling us not to worry about our needs, one moment, one day at a time. He is not giving us long-term security. He is saying that if you are willing to put your trust in me so greatly to do the absolutely crazy things I call you to; If you are willing to not know how things are going to work out a year, a month, a week down the road; But if you are willing to simply trust me for today; For right now. To have that sort of absolute trust, then you have no need to worry. Cuz I got you. I got you in this moment. In this day. And that should be enough. Let’s talk about tomorrow, tomorrow.
  • A familiar passage…but how did it end?

    • Luke 21:1-4 (Poor widow’s offering)
      • 1 As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. “Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”
      • Ending 1 … God’s delight
        • You see, what Luke didn’t record is that after the woman put in her last 2 pennies, she found a quarter on the way home. God loves when we trust him beyond our own understanding and delights in meeting that need in a miraculous way. (Think of the widow who made bread for Elijah and God gave her never ending oil. 1 Kings 17:7-24).
      • Ending 2 … Love they neighbor
        • Or maybe Luke left out that when one of the synagogue congregants saw what she had done, God pricked her heart. She rushed to Giant Eagle, bought a bag full of groceries, and by the time the old woman had managed to shuffle home, they were there on her porch waiting for her. Easily enough food to feed her for the next 2 weeks. You see, God finds pleasure when we take the opportunity to see the need of another and meet it through the commandment of loving our neighbor as our self. This is a beautiful ending, because two are blessed: the giver and the recipient. Not to mention, our Heavenly Father who flashes one of His patented, “someone finally gets it” smiles.
      • Ending 3 … A quick exit
        • Also, I can envision the woman going home. And the nosey neighbor, who doesn’t really care about her, but does wonder what she is going to do now that the crazy old bag put her last 2 cents in the offering, comes peeking in the windows. And the widow isn’t there. Yep, that’s right, just not there anymore. Hey, it happened for Enoch, right? (Genesis 5:18-24). And Elijah went up in a whirlwind (2Kings 2:11-1). But for those of you a little more practical like myself, maybe she just died in her sleep. Before the prongs of hunger could reach her stomach. She passed away that night. And when they found her in the morning she wore a thin smile of contentment.
      • Ending 4 … Eternal perspective
        • So, when I was talking through this with my brother, he ruined the “happily ever after” endings with the reminder that Christians all over the world die of starvation, terrible disease, persecution, etc. With that thought in my mind, Luke may have finished the story like this: After the woman left that day the Pharisees were furious. This woman had upstaged them. So they riled up the synagogue members against her. They said that the only reason she no longer had any money was that she was a sinner from birth. And if she had a pure heart God would take care of her. Therefore, no one came to her aid and without any money left she slowly starved to death. She shrank away to nothing before her belly became bloated with the pains of one truly dying of hunger. And eventually she died in great agony….But the moment she breathed her last, she stood face to face with Jesus in eternal paradise….Sometimes, the only thing to keep us from worry is the eternal perspective. That what we face on this earth is momentary and temporary and compared to eternity is not even worth fretting over….I know this is an easy answer coming from people who live in a country where we will most likely never face many of terrible hardships many others around the world will face, such as lack of food; But, I also believe it is what Jesus teaches. 
  • A little more on the eternal perspective

    • Let’s take another look: Matthew 16:24-27; 19:16-30
      • 24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. 26 What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.
      • 16 Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”

17 “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”

18 “Which ones?” he inquired.

Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, 19 honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’”

20 “All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?”

21 Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

22 When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.

23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

25 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?”

26 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

27 Peter answered him, “We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?”

28 Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. 30 But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.

        • Focus on verse 26-27 and verses 27-30 – – Jesus says that the reward for doing the difficult things he calls us to are eternal, not earthly. Sometimes, the only thing we can hang onto in order not to worry is to (again do something completely contradictory) and focus on one moment, one day at a time, when it comes to the current difficult situation, while keeping an eternal perspective on the reward we will receive that will never end. C.S. Lewis puts this thought quite elegantly in Screwtape Letters when he says, “For the Present is the point at which time touches eternity.” 
  • How does an eternal perspective look in our daily life?

    • Measuring time in the light of eternity
      • We often say God’s time is different than ours and we can’t understand  the way He perceives and sees time…
        • So, what if our idea of time, we were able to push aside, and decide that each moment we have, the amount of time we give it will be based on eternal significance. So, instead of saying, when we see someone in need of help on the side of the road or In need of food holding up a cardboard sign, that we don’t have any extra money or we are going to be late…that we said to our self, Being late to my meeting isn’t as important as showing this person Christ’s love.
        • What if instead of getting the laundry done, when your kids are dying to spend time with you, put the laundry off till Friday this week. Because the relationship you build with them matters eternally. Because God showed that building a relationship with us mattered so much he sent His son….
        • If we measured time and the way we spend it by the eternal significance of what we’re taking part in, think of how greatly your daily activities would change. And as you became more and more other focused, how much less time you would have to worry about your own concerns…
  • For the super practical who like three easy steps to keep from worrying, here you go 🙂

    • 1 – Focus on one moment, one day at a time. Jesus does not provide long term security.
    • 2 – Focus on the eternal. Sometimes, the only way not to worry is to remember what is to come in the next life.
    • 3 – Focus on others. The more we are focused on others, the less time we will have for worrying about our own troubles

Why Will Tomorrow be Just Like Today? (The Answer)

It’s incomplete

It doesn’t fully satisfy

But I think God has started

To give me a reply

Yes, tomorrow will be much the same

But why is that so bad?

Look at the beauty in each day

See the loveliness all around

Feel life’s rhythm

There is beauty in repetition

 

Fulfillment in my work…

Well, at least most days

Growing daily in knowledge

And in my spirit too

Contentment at home

Beautiful wife, loving kids

 

May I recognize the beauty

The beauty in the routine

But may I not lose step

As the Spirit leads

May I not be afraid

To deviate from the path

As the Spirit leads

May I not refuse to follow

 

But why am I so damned complacent

So damned scared

To tell them of You

To share the good news

I’m messed up

So are you

But, God has a plan

His Son came to redeem

Trust in Him

Follow Him

And eternal life

Is promised to you

 

Cat’s got your tongue?

Devil’s got mine

Deceiving me

Telling Me Lies

They won’t listen

They won’t care

It will make things awkward

Why even try?

 

It’s not the whole answer

But it has to be part

Enjoy the sameness

That each day brings

But don’t be afraid

When the Spirit changes things

And stopping keeping to myself

The joy that Jesus brings

Why Will Tomorrow be Just Like Today? (The Question)

Roll out of bed

Stumble down the stairs

Hit my knees

Begin to pray

Eat a bowl of cereal,

Read the Word

Off to work

Listening to a book

Growing my mind

And hopefully my soul

 

Walk in my classroom

Prepare for my day

Students enter in

“Good morning DeAndre, Good Morning J’Ana”

Trying to teach them

Trying to love them

“Sit down in your seat!”

“Eli and Rileigh, are you serious? Stop talking!”

Trying to reach them

Trying to love them

“All car riders and walkers are dismissed”

What a relief, the day is done

 

Back in the car

Pop my CD book back in

Can’t focus, can’t concentrate

Put on Sports radio

Lebron’s still great, Browns still suck

My mind wanders still

Maybe a little Boys II Men

Takes me to a peaceful place

 

Walk into the house

“Daddy, daddy, daddy”

Hugs and kisses

“Pick me up,” says Aubs “Play with me,” says V

“Love you Sessa, how was your day?”

“Hey Jas, dance or the library today?”

Reading stories, tucking in

Lunch packed, trash taken out

Ride the exercise bike

Time with Sessa, but…

Have to go, dance is over

Pajamas on as I start to yawn

 

Lay down in bed, read a Psalm

Close my eyes, off to sleep

Tomorrow I will wake up

And do it all again….

Wait, is this it?

Is this all there is?

What did I do today?

Why am I not changing the world?

Why am I not bringing people to Jesus?

Why will tomorrow be just like today…..?

A Poem of Praise

“The Scotch catechism says that man’s chief end is ‘to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.’ But we shall then know that these are the same thing. Fully to enjoy is to glorify. In commanding us to glorify Him, God is inviting us to enjoy Him.” (C.S. Lewis, “Reflections on the Psalms”)

I have started to read a Psalm or two every night before bed and I have found what C.S. Lewis said to be very true. So, this is my first very feeble attempt to write a “Psalm-like” praise to the Lord.

 

I stumble in my walk with

You Yet You steady my step

I veer off the path of righteousness

And Your light guides me back

 

God, You are faithful beyond measure

You’re goodness is without limit

Your love endures through all eternity

And Your kindness never fails

 

My dedication to You is lacking

But You let me try again

My promise to You are not always kept

But I hear Your gentle whisper, “I forgive you”

 

God, You are faithful beyond measure

You’re goodness is without limit

Your love endures through all eternity

And Your kindness never fails

Mere Christianity Summarized, Part 10

Mere Christianity Summarized, Part 10

                           (Book 4 : Beyond Personality, The First Steps                                                      in the Doctrine of the Trinity, Chapters 9-11)

 

Chapter 9: Counting the Cost

People have been bothered by Lewis’ comments in the last chapter about being perfect. It doesn’t mean God won’t help you until your perfect. It means when you come to him you may think you want something less, but He says no the only help I will give is the help to become perfect. You may want something less, but I will give you nothing less.

Lewis says that when he was a child he knew if he went to his mom and his tooth hurt, she would give him some Tylenol and he would feel better. But sometimes he wouldn’t go and he’d hurt all night because he knew she’d also take him to the dentist. And he didn’t want to go to the dentist. Because once he got to the dentist, he wouldn’t just fix that one tooth, he’d find the other ones that were bad, but hadn’t started hurting yet and begin fiddling about.

Well, God is the same way.  People go to God to be cured of some one sin they’re ashamed of, like masturbation or physical cowardliness. Or something that is spoiling daily life like bad temper or drunkenness. Well, He will cure it alright. But, He won’t stop there. That may be all you ask, but once you call Him in , He will give you the full treatment.

That is why he warned people to count the costs before becoming Christians. If you let me I will make you perfect. But the moment you put yourself in my hands that is what you are in for, nothing else, nothing less. You have free will and if you choose you can push me away. But if you do not push me away, understand that I am going to see this job through. Whatever suffering it may cost you in your earthly life, whatever conceivable it may cost you after death, whatever it costs me, I will never rest, or let you rest, until you are literally perfect. So my Father can say without reservation he is well pleased with you, like he said he was well pleased with me. This I can do and will do. But, I will not do anything less.

This helper, who in the long run will be satisfied with nothing less than absolute perfection, will also be delighted with the first feeble, stumbling effort you make tomorrow to do the simplest duty.

You do need to get discouraged that you are not getting anywhere near perfection. Every time you fall, He will pick you up again. He knows that your own feeble efforts are going to bring you nowhere near perfection. On the other  hand, you must realize that the goal He is going to guide you to is perfection. And not power in this universe can keep Him from taking you to this goal. And that is what you’re in for.

If not we very likely to pull back and start resisting him after a certain point. Often we are inclined to think after he helps us with a sin or two, or the more obvious ones, that we are good enough. Now, that He has done all we would want him to do, we would be obliged if He would leave us alone.

See, we may say humbly, “Oh, I never thought I was going to be a saint. I just wanted to be a good ordinary chap. But it is not what we intended, it is what God intended. We don’t know his final intention. We can’t understand it. And it’s cowardliness, not humbleness to say I’m gonna stop here. Instead of to keep going to God’s final intention which is something so much greater than we can understand or imagine.

On one hand we must never imagine that our own unaided efforts can be relied on to carry us even through the next 24 hours as decent people. On, the other hand no possible degree of holiness or heroism which has ever been recorded in the greatest saints is beyond what he is determined to produce in everyone of us in the end. The job will not be completed in this life. But he means to get us as far as he can before death. That is why we must not be surprised if we are in for a rough time.

See we get rid of those first couple bad things that are noticeable and then think things should go on fine. Then when trouble comes along we want to know why. Well, because God is forcing us onward to continue growing. He is putting us in situations where we have to be braver or more patient or more loving than we ever dreamed we could be before. It seems to us all unnecessary. That is because we have not yet had the slightest notion of the tremendous thing he means to make of us.

The command be perfect is not idealistic gas. Nor is it a command to do the impossible. He is going to make us into creatures that can obey that command. He said in the Bible that we were gods and he is going to make good His word. If we let him, but we can prevent him if we choose. He will make the feeblest and filthiest of us into a god or goddess, a dazzling, radiant, immortal creature, pulsating all through with such energy and joy and wisdom and love as we cannot now imagine, a bright stainless mirror which reflects back God perfectly (though, of course on a smaller scale) His own boundless power and delight and goodness.

The process will be long and very painful; but that is what we are in for. Nothing less. He meant what he said.

 

Chapter 10: Nice People or New Men

Lewis  poses the question, “If Christianity is true, why are all Christians not nicer than all non-Christians? The first part of the answer is if a man’s conversion to Christianity makes no apparent difference in his outward actions, then we can assume that that conversion was largely imaginary. We must in one sense judge by results. Christ told us to. The tree is known by its fruit. Or the proof is in the pudding.

Christians who behave badly or refuse to behave well makes Christianity hard to believe for the outside world. But the outer world also makes an illogical demand, not only should individuals improve, but they should also see the whole world divided neatly into two camps, Christian and non-Christian. And that all the people in the Christian camp should be nicer at any given moment than all of the people in the non-Christian camp. This is unreasonable.

This is not that easy. There is no 100%Christian/non-Christian camp. For example, there are many people who are slowly ceasing to become Christians who still call themselves one. There are also many people who are slowly becoming Christians who don’t call themselves one yet. There are people who do not accept the full Christian doctrine about Christ, but are so strongly attracted to Him, that they are His in a much deeper sense than they understand.

There are people in other religions who are being led by God’s secret influence to concentrate on those parts of their religion that are in agreement with Christianity. And thus belong to Christ without knowing it. For example, a Buddhist might focus more and more on the Buddhist teaching of mercy while leaving others behind. Many of the good pagans before the time of Christ may have fallen into this category. Then, there are a lot of people who are just confused. Who have a lot of inconsistent beliefs all jumbled up together. Consequently, it is not of much use trying to make judgments of Christians and non-Christians in the mass.

Secondly, let’s talk about an actual Christian and an actual atheist in our own neighborhood, not imaginary. Not as a group, but actual. If Christianity is true, it ought to follow that, A: Any Christian would be nicer than HE would be if HE were not a Christian and, B: Any man who becomes a Christian should become nicer than he was before.

See, just because that Christian does not have as kind of a tongue as the atheist on the same block, does not mean that his Christianity is not true, the question is what that Christian’s tongue would be like if he were not a Christian. He must be compared to himself. What you do have the right to ask, is if that person is improving. Eventually, that Christian on the block is going to become much kinder if he is really in Christ.

However, is niceness the whole aim? Is it that nasty people need Christ and ones who are already nice do not?  In God’s eyes that kind atheist needs saving just as much as that nasty Christian who just started to clean up their act. The atheist was just naturally given as a gift from God a kinder temperament. Therefore, it was not his gift to God, but God’s gift to him.

In the same way, living in a world of sin, natural causes have produced this kind of sour Christian on your block. Who, yes, will become changed. But, there is a reason for her disposition as well. The Lord intends in His good timing to set that part of him right, but that is not the critical part for  God…. At the end of the day, it’s all about what they choose to do with their free will. Do they choose to turn to God? Do they choose Christ? See, the Lord can help them toward it, but at the end of they day He can’t make them. They have to choose it, choose Christ. That is the whole nature of free will.

The whole question is will that kind atheist, Dick, or that sour puss Christian, Jane, will offer their natures to God. Right now, what state their natures are in is of secondary importance. God created Dick’s sound nerves and good digestion, and there is plenty more where that came from. It costs God nothing, so far as we know, to create nice things: but to convert rebellious wills cost him crucifixion. And because they are wills they can – in nice people just as much as nasty ones – refuse His request. And then because that niceness in Dick was merely part of nature it will all go to pieces in the end. Nature itself will pass away.

There’s a paradox here. Along as Dick doesn’t turn to God. He thinks his niceness is his own. And as long as he is not offering to God it is not his own. It is only at the moment where he realizes his niceness is a gift from God and offers it back to God that it begins to become his own.

The only things we can keep are the things we freely give to God. What we try to keep for ourselves is what we are sure to lose. So you can follow that there will be nasty Christians because they are in the process of being changed. And you can even follow that thought through to say that nasty people are drawn to Christianity. That was people’s objection of Jesus and those he hung around. That will always be people’s objection to Christianity. Because those who are nasty come to realize they need Christ in greater number than those who are nice, well off and think they have it figured out on their own.

There is a silent warning or encouragement here for everyone of us. If you are a nice person – if virtues come easily to you – beware! Much is expected from those to who much is given. If you mistake for our own merits what are really God’s gifts to you through nature, and if you are contented with simply being nice, you are still a rebel: and all those gifts will only make you more terrible, your corruption more complicated, your bad example more disastrous. The Devil was an archangel once; his natural gifts were far above yours as yours are above those of a chimpanzee.

But if you are a poor creature – poisoned by a wretched upbringing in some house full of vulgar jealousies and senseless quarrels – saddled, by no choice of your own, with some loathsome sexual perversion – nagged day in and day out by an inferiority complex that makes you snap at your best friends – do not despair. He knows all about it. You are one of the poor whom He blessed. He knows what a wretched machine you are trying to drive. Keep on. Do what you can. One day (perhaps in another world, but perhaps far sooner than that) he will fling it on the scrap-heap and give you a new one. And then you may astonish us all – not least yourself: for you have learned your driving in a hard school. (Some of the last will be first and the first will be last.)

We must try to produce a world where as many people as possible are nice. But, we must now suppose that if we make everyone nice we have saved their souls. A world of nice people content in their own niceness, looking no further, turned away from God, would be just as desperately in need of salvation as a miserable world. And might even be more difficult to save. Mere improvement is not redemption; although redemption always improves people, even here and now. And in the end will improve them to a degree we can’t even imagine. God became man to turn creatures into sons. Not, to just simply produce better men of the old kind, but to produce a new kind of man.

It’s not like teaching a horse to jump better and better. It’s like turning a horse into a winged creature. Once it has got its wings it will soar over fences that it could’ve never jumped. It must beat the natural horse at its own game. But, there may be a period, when the wings are just beginning to grow when it cannot do so. And at that stage, the lumps on its shoulders, no one can tell by looking at them that they are going to be wings. It may even give it an awkward appearance.


Chapter 11: The New man

Lewis sets this up by saying, if you are a believer in evolution, thousands or millions of years ago when huge armored beasts roamed the Earth. The next natural steps in evolution would’ve been bigger, larger armored beasts. But, instead you end up with people, with brains, who think and reason and subdue the creatures. Well, that’s what Christianity is saying. We’re not going to go from brainy men to brainer men, but  off in a totally new direction. Change from being creatures of God to being sons of God. The first instance appeared in Palestine 2,000 years ago.

The steps in evolution before were centered around things that just happened, not in choices. But this is a choice. Not that we could’ve taken this step to become sons of God on our own, or that we in any way could finish the process or make ourselves into that. But, it’s voluntary in that we can reject it.

Lewis says he’s called Christ the first new man, but He’s not just the new man, he’s the origin, the creator the center of all new men. He brings with him the Zoe that he’s had forever and he transmits it, not be heredity, as evolution occurred through sexual reproduction and the next one taking on a litter different form, but he transmits it through what Lewis has called good infection.


So, in the scope of the universe, Christianity is still in its infancy, its still breaking teeth. The world sees it differently, though. The world things it’s on its way out. What it has thought so many times. Starting with the crucifixion of Jesus. Followed by other persecutions, followed by corruption within the church. This and that and Christianity’s dead. But, every time they think they have it buried and they’re patting down the Earth, it breaks out! And seems to have somehow spread to somewhere new.

The stakes could not be higher. For if you do not take this step from becoming a creature of God to a son of God the consequences are infinite and eternal. So think of it as childbirth. This is a new birth, but unlike childbirth we have a choice. Think of childbirth if the baby had a choice. They might well choose to stay in the womb where it seems warmer and safer. However, ultimately staying in the womb past when it should be would lead to death.

Same choice, we might choose to stay just a creature of God, but ultimately that choice keeps us from becoming a son of God and leads to death. See, these new births, these Zoe moments are happening in people all over the world. But, you must know what to look for. They will not be very like the idea of religious people, which you have formed from your general reading. They do not draw attention to themselves. They tend to think that you are being kind to them when they are really being kind to you. They love you more than other men do, but they need you less. We must get over wanting to be needed. They seem to have a lot of time and you are wondering where it comes from.

Once you recognize one, you’ll start to recognize more. And I think you’ll see that these people can recognize one another across color, class, creeds. So, becoming holy is sort of like becoming part of a secret society. To put it at the very lowest, it must be fun!

But, don’t think they’re all alike. Although to become new men, means losing ourselves, into Christ we must go. His will is to become ours. And we are to think his thoughts. To have the mind of Christ, as the Bible says.

Think of a person who never tasted salt and you have him taste salt. He tastes it by itself and gets that strong taste. You tell him that in most all dishes you use salt. He asks why would you want everything to taste the same. What we know is that the salt simply brings out the taste even more so of that dish. That illustration breaks down of course, because you can kill the flavor of the food by putting in too much salt. Where you cannot kill the taste of a human personality by putting in too much Christ.

It is something like that with Christ and us. The more we go of what we now call “ourselves” out of the way and let him take us over, the more truly ourselves we become. There is so much of Him that millions and millions of “little Christs,” all different, will still be too few to express Him fully. He made them all. He invented – as an author invents characters in a novel – all the different men that you and I were intended to be. In that sense our real selves are waiting for us in Him. The more I resist Him and try to live on my own, the more I become dominated by my own heredity and upbringing and surroundings and natural desires. All I am is a bunch of random events, and not so much really a person, as I like to believe, on my own. It is when I turn to Christ and give myself to His personality that I first begin to have a real personality of my own.

At the beginning I said there were personalities in God, I will go further now. There are no real personalities anywhere else. Until you have given up yourself, you will not have a real self. Sameness is to be found most among the most “natural” men, not among those who surrender to Christ.Think about who monotonously alike all the great tyrants and conquerors have been: how gloriously different are the saints.

But there must be a real giving up the self. You must throw it away “blindly” so to speak. Christ will indeed give you a real personality. But, you must not go to him for the sake of that. As long as your own personality is what you are bothering about you are not going to Him at all. The very first step is to try to forget about the self altogether. Your real, new self (which is Christ’s and also yours, and yours just because it is His) will not come as long as you are looking for it. It will come when you are looking for Him.

Submit to death, death of your ambitions and favorite wishes every day and death of your whole body in the end: submit with every fiber of your being, and you will find eternal life. Keep back nothing, nothing that you have not given away will ever really be yours. Nothing in your that has not died will never be raised from the dead. Look for your self, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ and you will find Him with everything else thrown in.

Mere Christianity Summarized, Part 9

Mere Christianity Summarized, Part 9

(Book 4 : Beyond Personality, The First Steps in the Doctrine of the Trinity, Chapters 7-8)

Lewis entitled chapter 7, Let’s Pretend. And he starts by asking the reader to think of two stories. The first is Beauty and the Best, where Beauty had to marry the Beast and she did. She kissed him as if he were a man and he turned into a man. The other is of a man who had to wear a mask that was much more handsome than he really was. And he wore it for years and he found that when he took it off, he now looked as he did with the mask. His disguise had become a reality.

We want to transition from talking about God and who He is and what He’s done to talking about practice. What do we do next? What difference does all of this theology make?

Think of when you say the Lord’s prayer and you say “Our Father” , Do you realize what you are doing? You’re putting yourself in the place of a Son of God. To put it another way you are dressing up like Christ. From the moment you realize what the words mean, you realize you are not a son of God. You’re not being like the Son of God whose will and interests are at one with the Father. You are a bundle of self-centered fears, hopes, greeds, jealousies, and self conceit. All doomed to death.

There is a time when pretending is good. That is when the pretense actually leads up to the real thing. For example, you’re not in a great mood, but you know you should be friendly toward others still. So, you pretend like you’re in a good mood and you are friendly toward others. And usually you find that in not too long, you’re really in a better mood.

Remember, as you pretend the real Son of God is at your side. And he is trying to turn you into the same thing as himself. He’s beginning to inject his Zoe into you to turn the tin soldier into a live man. And the part that doesn’t like it is the part that’s still tin. So, when you’re praying and you hear him telling you to go downstairs and help your wife with the dishes. You hear him telling you to apologize for harsh words you said earlier in the day. Stop and go do it. Because in that moment you are becoming more like him!

If I don’t hear the “whispering of God,” how else can I see Him working in my life? Some of us who have never had this experience of feeling as if an invisible Jesus is there helping us, but you’ve had others help you. But this is Christ working through others. He works through others, through nature, through our own bodies. Sometimes through experiences that don’t even seem Christian. Think of a woman who says when the bread shortage comes it won’t affect her family because they have toast. Well, there’s not toast without bread. All of these other things would not be happening without first, Christ.

When a young man who has been going to church in a routine way, honestly realizes he does not believe in Christianity and stops going, provided he does it for honesty sake and not just to annoy his parents, the spirit of Christ is probably nearer to him than it ever was before.

Above all, Christ works on us through each other. Men are mirrors. Carriers of Christ to other men. Sometimes, unconscious carriers. This good infection can be carried who have not go it themselves. People who are not Christians. Lewis says people who are not Christians helped him to reach Christianity. See, we are so important to each other. You might say that when two Christians are helping each other follow Christ, there is not twice as many Christianity but sixteen times as much Christianity.

So, who gets the credit when a person does something “good” for you?We must come to recognize the help we receive from other humans as Christ through them. If not, we come to rely on humans. When our reliance should be on Christ.We must be thankful and honor these human beings who have helped us. But, never pin our faith on them. We can never pin our faith on a human being.

We must come to have the mind of Christ. The New Testament talks about Christians being born again. Putting on Christ. About Christ being formed in us. About our coming to have the mind of Christ.

This is much more than reading what Christ says and carrying it out.  It means that a real person, Christ, here and now. In the very room where you are saying your prayers, is doing things to you. It is not a question of a good man who died 2,000 years ago. It is a living man, still as much a man and still as much God as when he created the world. Really coming and interfering with your very self. Killing the old natural self in you and replacing it with the kind of self he has. First for only moments, then for longer periods. Finally, if all goes well, turning you permanently into a different sort of thing. Into a new little Christ. A being which, in its own small way, has the same sort of life as God. Which shares in his power, joy, knowledge and eternity.

What should happen is we begin to notice not just our sinful acts, but our sinfulness. Not just about what we do that is wrong, but about who we are. For example, Lewis says when he asks for forgiveness in the evening, he often goes straight to his lack of charity (love). Where he snapped or snubbed or sneered at somebody. But, his quick excuse is that I was caught off guard in that situation. It happened in a split second. Well, the greatest picture of who we really are would have to be what we do when we are caught off guard and don’t have time to think it through. And he sees that who he is in those moments, is sinful. And does not choose right.

On the other  hand, how many of our good deeds are done out of bad motives, just to show off. Because you feel superior to someone, because we want people to look at us a certain way, because it will bring some sort of good back to us. So at the end of the day we can see that it is not just about changing what we do, but remember the most important thing is to change who we are on our deepest level.

The paradox…Only God can do it, but I need to keep pretending I can! But, I cannot just by direct moral effort, just give myself new motives. We must realize that everything that needs to be done in our souls can be done only by God.

Secondly, I’ve been talking as if we do everything, but it is God who does everything. We at most allow it to happen to us. God, the Great Pretender! See, God does much more pretending than us. He sees before him a grumbling, greedy, self-centered human being and says, “Let’s pretend this is just this type of creature. But let us pretend this a  Son of God.”

It is like Christ because it is a man and Christ also became a man. But, let us also pretend it is like Christ in spirit. Let us treat it as if it were, what it in fact is not. Let us pretend until we make the pretense into a reality. God looks at you as if you were a little Christ. Christ stands beside you in order to turn you into one. Isn’t this how it always works? A higher being pretending for a lower one? A mother pretends her baby understands her by talking to her until her baby really talks. We treat our dogs as if they were human until they almost are human to us.

In Chapter 8, Lewis moves on to answering the question “Is Christianity Hard or Easy?” We talked about sort of dressing up in the last chapter to be like Christ. This is not one of many exercises a Christian must do. Nor is it set aside for the top class of Christians. Being like Christ is the whole of what Christians must do.

Becoming like Christ is not the same as becoming good in how we think of it. How we think of it is saying there are things we know we want do but they’re wrong, so I am going to stop them. The things that we don’t want to do that we know are right for the good of others or the society, so we must do them. But, we still hope that there is time left for us to just do what we want to do. So, one of two things happens. Either we give up on wanting to be good and just be selfish or we become quite unhappy because what we are doing is things we don’t really want to be doing to be good.

The Christian way is different, harder and easier. “I have not come to torment your natural self, but to kill it. Hand over your whole natural self, things you think innocent, things you think wicked. I will give you a new self instead. In fact, I will give you myself.”Christ himself both describes the Christian way sometimes as very hard and sometimes as very easy. He says, “Take up your cross” but the next minute, “My yoke is easy and my burden light.”  He means both.

You can see how both are true. For example someone who just memorizes a math equation to solve just that one problem and it seems easier now. And the other person who takes the time to understand it. But later, on the test he flies through it because he really understands and the other one who is so labored because he doesn’t really understand the process. It was hard at first for the one who learned it, but easier now.

With Christ it’s the same way, because yes it’s hard to take up your cross and kill your whole self and take on Christ, but in the end it’s much easier than trying to remain yourself and be good in your own natural self, under your own power.

It starts each morning when you wake up and all the things you think you need and you want come rushing in and you stop and listen to that still voice to what He wants. And at first this is so difficult. But, then it becomes more and more who you are . It’s the difference between just putting on a layer of paint and using stain which seeps in and soaks through.

See, when Christ said Be perfect, he meant be perfect. Remember, in the Christian life there is nothing else. This is it. What is the sole purpose of the Church (and maybe the universe)? The church may think it exists for many reasons, but the only thing it exists for is draw men into Christ, to make them little Christs. If they are not doing that, all the cathedrals, clergy, missionaries and the Bible itself are just a waste of time. God became man for no other purpose. And it is doubtful whether the whole universe was created for any other purpose. 

It says in the Bible everything in the universe was made for Christ and everything is to be gathered together in him. It’s the only thing we were made for. And there are strange, exciting hints in the Bible, that when we are drawn in a great many other things in nature will begin to come right. The bad dream will be over. It will be morning.

Mere Christianity Summarized, Part 8

Mere Christianity Summarized, Part 8

(Book 4 : Beyond Personality, The First Steps in the Doctrine of the Trinity, Chapters 4-6)

In chapter 4, Lewis speaks of a Good Infection. He starts out with an example. Imagine two books lying on a table, one on top of the other. The bottom books is keeping the other one up, supporting it. It’s because of the underneath book that the top book is resting two inches from the surface of the table, instead of touching the table. The underneath book is A, the top book is B. The position of A is causing the position of B. Imagine that both books have been in that position forever and ever. In that case B’s position would always have been resulting from A’s position. But, all the same A’s position would not have existed before B’s position. In other words, the result does not come after the cause. Of course, results usually do.

But it’s not so with all causes and results. This is important that one thing can be the source or origin or cause of another without being there before it. If not, using a word like the Father begets the Son makes it sound as if the Farther was there first, but even thought He begets the Son, they both have always been.

The Son exists because the Father exists, but there never was a time before the Father produced the Son.While it is important to understand that they both have always been, you have to be careful not to go away from the picture the Bible paints for too long of the Father and Son. Because if that is how God felt was the best way to describe the relationship between He and Jesus, it’s a relation of love, the Father delights in His Son, the Son looks up to His Father.

God is love has no real meaning unless God contains at least 2 persons. Love is something that one person has for another person. So if God were a single person, then God would have had no love before the world was made. Christianity believes that God is not a static thing, not even a person, but a dynamic pulsating activity, a life, almost a kind of drama, almost a kind of dance. The union between the Father and the Son is such a live concrete thing that this union itself is almost a person.

What grows out of the joint life of the Father and Son is a real person, in fact is the third of the three person who are God, the Holy Spirit.Don’t worry that the Holy Spirit tends to be more vague or shadowy in your mind. In a Christian life, you are not usually looking act Him, he is usually acting through you. If you think of the Father as something out there in front of you and of the Son as someone standing at your side helping you to pray, trying to turn you into another Son; then you have to think of the third person then as something inside you or behind you.

The whole dance and drama of this Three Personal is to be played out in the life of each one of us. Each one of us has got to enter that pattern, take his place in the dance. There is no other way to the happiness for which we were made. Good things as well as bad you know are caught by infection. If you want to get warm you must stand by the fire. If you want to get wet, you must get in the water. If you want to have joy, peace, power and eternal life you must get close to or even into the thing that has it.

Christianity believes we can if we come to share in the life of Christ. Which takes us from being bios to Zoe. Which takes us from being created to sharing in the life of being begotten. Takes us from being statues to being Sons of God. Jesus came to this world and became a man in order to spread to other men the kind of life He has, what Lewis calls good infection. Every Christian is to become a little Christ, it is the whole purpose of becoming a Christian, there is simply nothing else.

Chapter 5 brings us the example of “The Obstinate Toy Soldier.” The Son of God became a man that man may become Sons of God. The natural life inside each of us is self-centered. It wants to be admired, to take advantage of other lives. It must be left to itself and kept away from anything better or higher or stronger than itself; anything that might make it feel small. It is afraid of the light and air of the spiritual world. It knows if the spiritual realm gets a hold of it, all of its self and will would be killed.

Imagine having a toy tin solder that you make into flesh. But it doesn’t want to be. It doesn’t see it that way. It only sees it as you killing the tin and will do anything it can to prevent it. Well, that’s what we did with God. And what God did about it, the second person of God, the Son, became human Himself.  Was born into the world an actual man. The eternal being, creator of the universe became a fetus, a baby. If you want to get the hang of it, think how you would like to become a slug or a crab.

Now, you have (in Jesus) the picture of what all men were intended to be. The difficulty in us is that our natural life has to be killed. So Jesus chose an earthly life, in which the killing of His desires was almost daily. Being disowned by his friends, ridiculed by his own family, arrested for no wrong doing, tortured and dying execution style. And then, the human creature in him, because it was united to the divine Son came to life again. The man in life rose again, not only the God. That is the whole point. For the first time we saw a real man, one tin soldier, real tin like the rest, become fully and splendidly alive.

If you could see humanity spread out in time as God sees it, it would not look like a bunch of separate dots as we see it, it would like one connected thing.  Sort of like a tree. Every individual would appear connected to every other. We are not really separate from God either, any more than we are separate from one another. Every man, woman and child is feel and breathing only because God is keeping him going. (My thought: If we are a tree, than God is the sun and the rain!)

So, when Jesus became man. It is not really as if he could become one particular tin soldier. It is as if something that is always affecting the whole human mass begins, at one point, to affect the whole human mass in a new way. From that point, the affect spreads to all mankind. It makes a difference to people who lived before Christ as well as to people who lived after. It makes a difference to people who have never heard of him. It is like dropping into a glass of water a drop of food coloring.

The business of becoming a son of God, changing from a natural to a spiritual being has been done for us. Of being turned from a created thing to a begotten thing. Humanity is already saved in principal. We individuals have to appropriate (seize) that salvation. The tough part we could not have done for ourselves has been done for us. We can not climb up into spiritual life by our own efforts; it has already come down for the human race.

If we only lay ourselves open to the one man in whom it was fully present; in whom in spite of being God was also a real man. He will do it in us and for us.Remember good infection. One of our own has this new life; if we get close to him we will catch it from him.

You can express this in all sorts of ways: Christ died for our sins. You can say God has forgiven us because of what Christ has done for us what we ought to have done. You may say we are washed in the blood of the Lamb. You may say that Christ has defeated death. They are all true. If any do not appeal to you, leave it alone and get on with a formula that does. And whatever you do, do not start quarreling with other people because they used a different formula from yours.

Chapter 6 is titled “Two Notes.” The question was asked, “Why did God not just beget many more sons, instead of having them go through the painful process of having them transformed from a creature to a son?Lewis replied, “First of all, had the process would not have been painful had the human race not turned away from God centuries ago. They were able to do this because He gave them free will. And he gave them free will because robotic humans can never love. Therefore, no happiness.

Secondly, the idea that the whole human race is one thing, one huge organism like the tree, must not be confused with the idea that individual difference do not matter. Or that individuals are less important that collective things such as classes, races and so forth. Christianity thinks of human individuals not as mere members of a group or items on a list, but organs in a body.  Different from one another and each contributing what no other could.

So, remember when you are wishing that someone would be a little more like you, they’re not supposed to be, they’re a different organ. But, when you’re choosing not to help or care for someone else because you’re more worried about yourself, you have to remember they’re part of the same organism.

So, which is more important, the individual organs, or the whole body?Satan would love to draw you toward one of these two errors; doesn’t mater which one. Either being Totalitarian (Dictatorial, One Party or Individualists. He does that so that when you think so poorly of the one that you move to the other and you’re still in error. However, as Christians we must go right in between both errors  to the actual goal.

Mere Christianity Summarized, Part 7

Mere Christianity Summarized, Part 7

(Book 4 : Beyond Personality, The First Steps in the Doctrine of the Trinity, Chapters 1-3)

Chapter 1 of Book 4 is called Making and Begetting. Lewis starts off by defining theology as the Science of God and I think any man who wants to think about God at all, would like to have the clearest and most accurate ideas about Him which are available.

Think of a man seeing the Atlantic Ocean from the beach and having an awe-inspiring experience. Then think of a map, just colored paper. However the map has been laid out by thousands of people’s experiences that make it authenticated. Now, looking at the Atlantic Ocean is one thing, but if you wanted to sail it, you would need the map. That’s what theology is, sating you’ve had these vague religious experiences, these emotional experiences is one thing, but if you want to go deeper, if you want to have a real experience with God, that what theology is. Because, it’s been laid out by thousands of people who have already trod the course and it’s our map of how to know God more deeply.

Popular theology would say Jesus is another great moral teacher and if we follow His teachings, the world sure would be a better place. However, (A) that’s a shallow view and (B) we never follow the great teachers. Or else there are lots of great teachers who could have come along and could’ve made the world a happier place. See, when you get into Christian theology, it says Jesus is the Son of God and we put our confidence in Him and we gain Sonship as well and that His death saved us from our sins. Becoming sons of God is more than just the general sense that God created us, loves us and takes care of us, which makes Him like a Father. It means before all time began, before anything was in existence as we know it, Christ was begotten, not made.

To beget is to become the Father of, to create is to make. The difference is this, when you beget, you beget something of the same kind as yourself. A man begets human babies. A beaver little beavers, etc. But, when you make, you make something of a different kind. A bird makes a nest, a beaver builds a dam, etc. What God begets is God, what God creates is not God. Man has a shape or likeness to God, but man does not have the same kind of life as God.  Every thing God has made has some likeness to himself.

Space is like God in its hugeness and greatness. The vegetable world is like him because it is a alive and He is a living God. But, it is only a kind of symbol or shadow of God. Man not only lives, but loves and reasons. Out of all creatures that we know of, we are the most like God; but what man in his natural condition has not got is spiritual life. The higher and different sort of life that exists in God.

The difference between biological life and spiritual life is so different. Biological life is Bios. Spiritual life is Zoe. The man who changed from having bios to Zoe would have gone through as big of a change as a stature carved in the shape of a man turning into a living, breathing man. This is precisely what Christianity is about. On Earth, we are just a great sculpture shop, but there is a rumor going around that one day these sculptures are going to come to life.

The Three Personal God is Chapter 2. There are many people who think of God as something more than personal. But, what they end up with an impersonal God. Christianity is the only religion on the market who looks as God as something Super-personal or more than personal.

God’s dimensions we find a being who is three person, while remaining one being. Just as a cube is six squares, while remaining one cube. Though we can’t firmly comprehend, we can get a faint notion of this. And when we do, we are getting a look at something Super personal, something more than personal. The important thing is not to be able to talk about it and explain it, because a way it’s unexplainable, but it is to be drawn into it.

When a Christian prays, he is trying to get in touch with God. But, if he is a Christian, he knows what is prompting him to pray is also God, God inside of him. But, he also know 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. God is the thing to which he is praying, the goal he is trying to reach. God is also the thing inside of him, pushing him on, the motive. God is also the road or bridge on which he is being pushed to that goal. So that the whole three-fold life of the personal being is actually going on in when an ordinary man is saying his prayers. The man is being called up into the higher kind of life, Zoe, the spiritual life. He is being pulled into God but God, while still remaining himself. Theology is somewhat like experimental Science If you want to get to know a person, that other person must let you get to know him. If he doesn’t want to, you can’t get to know him. It takes equal initiative to becomes friend. When it comes to knowing God the initiative lies on His side. If He doesn’t show Himself, nothing will enable you to find Him. And in fact He shows much more of himself to some people than to others. Not because He has favorites, but because it is impossible for Him to show Himself to a man whose whole mind and character are in the wrong condition. The instrument through which you see God is his whole self. And if a man’s self is not kept clean and bright a glimpse of himself will be blurred like a moon seen through a dirty telescope.

We need a community of believers to see who God really is. God can show himself as He really is only to real people. Not just individually good, but people who are united together in a body loving one another, helping one another, showing Him to one another. For that is what God meant humanity to be like; like players in one band or organs in one body. The one adequate instrument for learning about God is the whole Christian community. Christian brotherhood, is so to speak, the technical equipment for this science.

Now if we were making up our own religion, Christianity could be simpler. Anyone could make a simpler religion if they have no facts to deal with, but Christianity is based on facts.

Chapter 3, Time Beyond Time.

Often people have difficulty with God attending to several hundred million people at once as they pray. All in that one moment. The difficulty is of time and the thought of God being able to do all of that at once. However, almost certainly God is not in time. His life does not consist of moments following one another. If a million people are praying to Him at 10:30 tonight, He need not listen to all of them at that one little snit bit that we call 10:30. 10:30, and every other moment since the beginning of the world, is also the present to Him. Suppose I am writing a novel and write, “Mary laid down her work and the next moment a knock came at the door.” For Mary, who has to live in the imaginary time of my story, there is no interval between putting down the work and hearing that knock. But I who am Mary’s maker do not live in that imaginary time at all. Between writing the first half of that sentence and the second half I can sit down for three hours and think steadily about Mary. I can think about Mary as if she were the only character in the book for as long as I please. And the hours I spend doing so would not appear in Mary’s story, the time inside the story at all.

God is not hurried along by the time in this universe any more than an author is hurried along by the time in his own novel. He has infinite attention to spare fore each one of us. He does not have to deal with us in the mass. You are as much alone with Him as if you were the only being He had ever created. Just as when Christ died for you, He died for you individually as if you were the only man in the world.

God does not live in a time series at all. For Him, it is so to speak, 1950 still and already 2050 as well. For His life  is in Himself. If you picture life as a straight line along which you must travel, you must picture God as the whole page on which the line is drawn. To come to the parts of the line one by one we have to go from A to B to C, but God from above contains the whole line and sees it all.

Carry this thought of all time happening at once over to Jesus coming to Earth. It is really I suggest a timeless truth about God, that human nature and the human experience of weakness and sleep and ignorance are somehow included into His whole divine life. This human life in God, is from our point of view a particular period in the history of our world, from the year AD 1 to the crucifixion. We therefore imagine it is also a period in the history of God’s own, but God has not history. He is too completely and utterly real to have one. Because to have a history means losing part of reality, because it has already slipped away into the past. And not yet having another part, because it is still in the future. In fact, having nothing but the tiny little present which is gone before you can speak of it. God forbid we should think God is like that.

Now, carry this over into the free will argument. If God foresaw our acts, it would be very hard to say we had the freewill not to do them. But, if God is outside and above the timeline, in that case what we call tomorrow is visible to Him, in the same way as what we call today. All the days are now for him. He does not remember seeing you do things yesterday, he simply sees you doing them. It is though you have lost yesterday, He has not.

He does not foresee you doing things tomorrow, he simply sees you doing them. For although tomorrow is not yet there for you, it is for Him. In a sense, He does not see your action until you have done it, but then the moment in which you have done it is already now for him.It is a great Christian idea, but not Biblical and you can be a perfectly good Christian without accepting it.

Mere Christianity Summarized, Part 6

Mere Christianity Summarized, Part 6

(Book 3 : Christian Behavior, Chapters 10 – 12)

In Chapter 10, Lewis begins by telling us that hope is the eternal perspective. Now, that doesn’t mean not doing anything for this world, because you’ll find that throughout history Christians who have done the most for the present world are the ones who looked most toward the next.We will leave our mark on earth when our minds are occupied on heaven. It’s when Christians cease to think about the next world they have become so ineffective in this.

Lewis says that if you aim at heaven you will get earth thrown in. If you aim at earth you will get neither. Most people do not long for heaven if they’re honest with themselves for a couple reasons. First off, they’ve been trained to think about now and this world. And secondly, you don’t realize you’re longing for heaven. Most people want something beyond what they can have right now. Something they can’t even quite put their finger on. That longing is heaven.

Is there anything that lives up to the anticipation and initial excitement of something new in our life? The excitement of something new; a new marriage, a new vacation, a new job. Yet, the reality of that is even if its best marriage, the best job, the best vacation, something evades that initial excitement. There is something we grasp at in the first moment of longing and it just fades away in reality.

There are two wrong ways of dealing with this and one right way. The first way is the fool’s way. He puts the blame on the things himself. He thinks if only he found the right woman, vacation or job that would give him satisfaction. The second way is the way of the disillusioned sensible man. He decides its all rubbish. It’s all fantasies of youth. By the time you get older you realizes its not going to happen. He settles down and learns not expect too much and represses a part of himself that used to, as he would say, cry for the Lord. This is a better way than the first one.

The their way is the Christian way. It says creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists. If I found in myself a desire for which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation was that I was made for another world. Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing. If this is so, I must take care on one hand to never despise or be unthankful for these earthly blessings, and on the other never to mistake them for the something else which they are only a kind of copy or an echo. I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country which I will not find until after death. My main object of life must be to press on to this other country and to help others to do the same.

Lewis talks about how the music and crowns and gold are all imageries, not to be literal, but to show us that we have something extraordinary awaiting us. As each one represents something different. The music is something that a lot of people see as joyful and ecstasy. The crowns of sharing in God’s power when we get there.The gold, the endlessness of heaven, because it does not rust.These things are an attempt to express the inexpressible. People who take these things literally might as well thing that when Christ told us to be like doves, we were to lay eggs.

Chapter 11 focuses on the theological virtue of faith. Faith can be used in two senses. The first sense just meaning belief. Accepting the doctrines of Christianity.

Lewis discusses faith vs. reason, imagination vs emotion. Which part of why we come to believe, should be that when we reasoned it out faith and Christianity makes the most sense. But, we battle between faith and reason on one side and imagination and emotion on the other.  For example, a doctor lays a patient down to do the anesthesia the patient has faith and reason that it will work properly and that they won’t start the surgery till he’s numb. But, a child like panic takes over when he’s actually laying on that bad, because his imagination and emotion has taken over what he actually believes to be true with reason.

I am not asking anyone to accept Christianity if his best reason tells him that the weight of the evidence goes against it, that is not the point at which faith comes in. But supposes that a man’s reason decides that the weight of the evidence is for faith.

So, very soon after this there will come a moment when something bad happens or friends who are unbelievers he is surrounded by or a sinful opportunity presents itself, where his emotions will blitz him with the fact that maybe this Christianity thing isn’t right. Because it would be convenient if it wasn’t.

Faith is the art of holding on to things you reason has once accepted, in spite of your changing mood. For moods will change, whatever view your reason takes. Unless you teach your moods where they get off, you can neither be a sound Christian or even a sound atheist, but just a creature dithering to and fro with his beliefs really dependent upon his weather and the state of his digestion.

We must train ourselves to have faith. The first step is recognizing that your moods change. The next is once you’ve accepted Christianity is to make sure to hold these doctrines before yourself daily. We must continually remind our selves of our beliefs and faith through prayer, Bible reading and church,

There is faith in a second, higher sense. When we try to live out the Christian virtues, it might go swimmingly for a short time. But, very quickly, we see that we’ve fallen and messed up. And may even be back further than we were before. A bad man knows very little about temptation  because he gives in. It’s good man who starts to understand temptation, because after 5 minutes when he doesn’t give in and an hour later when the temptation is stronger and stronger, he begins to understand just how powerful the temptation is. And Christ is the only one who fully understands temptation, because He is the only one faced it in full and did not give in.

The main thing we learn when we try to practice the Christian virtues is that we fail. In other words, there’s not saying that we’re going to do this, that and the other thing to keep our side of the bargain with God and then we better keep his side. That’s wiped out when we try to be the good virtuous person that we know we ought. Accepting Christianity means blowing this thought to bugs, that there is anyway we are earning or bargaining or making ourselves right with God.

Then comes another discovery. Every faculty you have: The power of thinking or of moving your lips from moment to moment is given to you by God. If you devoted every moment of your whole life exclusively to His service, you could not give Him anything, that was in a sense, His already. 

So when we talk of a man doing anything for God or giving anything to God, I will tell you what it is really like: It is like a small child going  to his father and saying, “Daddy give me six pence to buy you a birthday present.” Of course the father does and he is pleased with the child’s present. It is all very nice and thoughtful, but only an idiot would think that the father is sixpence to the good on the transaction.

When a man has made these two discoveries, God can really get to work on Him. It is after this that real life begins. The man is awake now. We can now go on to talk of faith in the second sense.

In one sense the map to God is a rode of moral effort. Of trying harder and harder and harder. But in another sense, trying is never going to bring us home. All this trying leads to the vital moment when we turn to God and say, “You must do this, I can’t.”

Do not stop and try to think, Have I come to that moment? Am I close to that moment? When did the moment happen?

That’s not the way it happens. For most people, unlike Paul, it is not a flash moment. It happens gradually, over time. There may not even be a point in time you can point to. The important thing is that the change happens and is happening.

It is a change from being confident of own efforts to the state in which we despair in doing anything in our selves and leave it to God. Leaves it to God means that he puts all his trust in Christ. Trust that He will somehow share with him the perfect human obedience, which he carried out from birth with His crucifixion, and Christ will make the man more like Himself and in a sense make good his deficiencies.

In Christian language, He will share His Sonship with us and make him like Himself, sons of God.  Christ offers something, everything, for nothing. In a sense , the whole Christian life consists of accepting that `very remarkable offer. The difficulty is recognizing that all we have done and can do is nothing. What we should’ve liked is for God to keep our good points and ignore our bad points.  `

So, to trust Him does not mean to stop trying, because to trust Him means to try do everything that Christ says. But, trying  in a new way, a less worried way. Not doing those things 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 wanting to act in  a certain way because that first faint gleam of heaven is often inside you.

Christians have often disputed if what leads to the Christians home is good actions or faith in Christ. It seems to me like asking which blade in a pair of scissors is most necessary. If serious moral effort is the only thing it will bring you to the point where you thrown in the towel in despair. And if faith in Christ is the only thing to save you from despair at that point, then out of this faith good actions will inevitably come.

Lewis says the Bible puts both together in one sentence. Work out your salvation with fear and trembling. The second half says, for it is God who worth in You. So the first half as if we have to earn it. The second half as if God does it all. So, Lewis says although it’s puzzling, it’s not surprising. Because what we’re trying to do is separate in Christianity exactly what God does and exactly what m

My way of summing it up is that Works can not save us, but we cannot be saved without works!