A Poem of Praise 2

Lord Your goodness is beyond measure

Your love endures forever

Your kindness is bestowed upon me

And on to my children

Your hands reach down to touch me

And calm me from my fears

Your arms wrap lovingly around me

Like a Father holds His son

 

 

Your gaze sees straight through me

And knows my sin within

Yet You avert not you eyes from me

As you see my possibility

For you observe not my current state

But what I can become

 

 

Lord You should have given up on me so long ago

Yet You love me still

I am unworthy of these second chances

But Your mercy is so great

I should have been cast aside so many times

But Your grace endures

 

 

Take me, your humble servant

And use me for Your will

Take me, a broken vessel

And fill me to the brim

Take me, a wandering sheep

And lead me to the path

 

 

Lord Your goodness is beyond measure

Your love endures forever

Your kindness is bestowed upon me

And on to my children

Your hands reach down to touch me

And calm me from my fears

Your arms wrap lovingly around me

Like a Father holds His son

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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…..?

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 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 5

Mere Christianity Summarized, Part 5

(Book 3 : Christian Behavior, Chapters 7-9)

In Chapter 7, Lewis deals with forgiveness. He states that while he had said earlier that chastity was the most unpopular of the Christian virtues, he believed forgiveness may be more unpopular. See, Christianity says love you neighbor as yourself, but in Christianity your neighbor includes your enemy. Which means we come up against the fact we must forgive our enemy.

Lewis gives the extreme example of the Gestapo and thinking of an enemy in those terms. I thought in 2017, we could probably compare it to having a member of Isis murder one of your children. Lewis says that People get mad when they are told, “Well you need to forgive these people now.” And they answer, “Well, would you forgive if your family was killed by them?” Lewis responds that he’s not here to tell you what I could do in a certain situation. He’s here to tell you what Christianity is and forgiveness of enemies is one of the things Christianity is.

The Lord’s prayer states, “Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.” There is no suggestion that we offer forgiveness on any other terms.  It is made perfectly clear that if we do not forgive we shall not be forgiven. We sort of have to work our way to forgiving our enemies. We start out by forgiving our spouse or children. Someone close to you for something they have said or done in the last week.

We must also understand what love our neighbor as our self means. But, first me must look at what it doesn’t mean. Well, I don’t always have a fondness for myself. So, it doesn’t mean I have to be affectionate or fond toward them. Do I think myself a wonderful, nice person? Well sometimes, but not always. So, loving my neighbor does not necessarily mean thinking of them in that way.

It my  clear sighted moments, not only do I know that I’m not a very nice man, but I know that I’m quite a nasty one. I look at some of the things I’ve done before with loathing. So apparently I am allowed to loath and hate some of the things my enemies do.Remember we hate the bad action, not the person. This seemed like quite a silly thought to Lewis until he realized he had been doing this with himself for years. There are plenty of things that he has done that he wishes he wouldn’t have done and hates. But he still loves himself. The very reason why I hated these things is because I love myself. Because I love myself I was very sorry I did these things.

We aught to hate evil and the terrible things these people do. However we ought to hate it in the same way we hate those things in ourselves. Hoping that someway this person can be cured and made human again if that is possible.

Loving your enemy does not mean not punishing them. Lewis does not believe (like in war or when a judge sentences someone for a crime) that loving your enemy does not mean not killing the enemy soldier or sentencing the prisoner to death. It’s an interesting distinction that when Jesus quotes the command, “thou shall not murder,” there’s the distinction in Greek between kill and murder. And all three times not to murder. As opposed to not to kill.John the Baptist never suggested that the soldiers coming to be baptized should leave the army neither did Christ to the centurion who came.

We Christians think that man lives forever. Therefore what really matters is those little knots or twists in the central inside part of the soul  that will turn us in the long run to a heavenly or hellish creature. We may kill if necessary, but must not hate and enjoy hating. We may punish if necessary, but must not enjoy it. In other words, something inside us, the feeling of resentment, the feeling that want’s to get one’s own revenge must be killed. (my analogy) Not that this magically happens, but like the little Whack-a-mole things that pop up at the arcade, every time one pops up you have to bang it with a hammer. With this feeling of revenge or hate, every time it pops up we have to bang it with a hammer (namely prayer).

In our heart we must wish that our enemy were not bad. Wish that he were cured. Wish good for him. Remember God just loves us just because we’re human. Not because there is anything good inside of us. We love our self just because we’re our self, not because of good inside of us. We must then apply this rule to all others and we will be forgiving and loving our enemies.

Chapter 8 is entitled “Great Sin.” There is no sin that is seen in more men, except they don’t know they have it, however no sin that men find more deplorable in others, and that is pride or self conceit. The virtue opposite of it in Christian morals is called humility. This is where the center of Christian morals lies. The utmost evil is pride above all others.

Pride leads to every other vice. It is an anti-God state of mind. Pride is competitive and therefore the more fault you find with others pride, probably the more prideful you are, because you’re upset they’re getting the attention you wanted. Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man. It’s the comparison that makes you proud. The pleasure of being above the rest. The pleasure of being richer, better looking, cleverer than the next man.

Let’s look at an example of this competitiveness with money. What people call greed is often pride. Certainly a person cane be greedy and want a bigger house, more vacations….but what makes somebody who makes $10 million dollars a year want to make $20 million dollars a year? At the point of $10 million dollars a year, they can already do whatever they want. Well, it’s pride. It’s to be richer and have more than the next guy. 

Still, more the wish for power. Because power is really what pride is. Nothing makes a man feel so superior to others as being able to move them about like toy soldiers. Pride always means enmity because  as long as there is one person richer, better looking, etc than you, then you always have that enemy you are trying to outdo.

As long as you are proud, you can never really know God. Because you only really know God when you realize He is everything and you are nothing at all. How can people full of pride say that they are worshipping God? Well, they are really worshipping a phantom God because what they do all the time, while saying they are nothing and humble, is thinking the whole time that God approves of them for how great they are. Which of course, the God that approves of them is their make believe God. They pay a penny’s worth of humility to this imaginary God and get a dollar’s worth of pride toward their fellow man.

Lewis says he believes it’s these people that Christ is talking of when he said they would preach in His names and cast out demons and yet at the end of the world he did not know them.

Anytime you are thinking that you are better than someone else, remember it is not God making you act that way, but the devil. Remember, being around God will make you feel one of two ways. You will completely forget about self and focus on Him and others. Or you will see yourself as the dirty, sinful person that you are. The devil is perfectly happy to see people becoming brave and chaste and self controlled, as long as the whole time he is setting up in you to be proud of all these virtues and be prideful. Because, this then overrides all the good things that are happening. It’s like seeing your cold cured, while finding out your diagnosed with cancer.

There are some common misconceptions about pride. Pleasure in being praised is not pride. For the pleasure here does not lie in who you are, but that you have pleased someone you wanted and rightly wanted to please. The trouble is when the thinking passes from I have pleased him and that’s great to what a fine person I must have been to have done so. The more you delight in yourself and the less you delight the praise, the worse you are becoming.

While being vain and wanting is not good, it is almost a child like problem. It shows that you still don’t think so highly of yourself, because you want others to affirm you. However, the real black, dark diabolical pride comes when you down on other so much, you do not care what they think about you. This does not mean that when we have it right that we care so much about what God things, that we do not care what others think about us. This is when you think so highly of yourself that why would you even care whether or not people praise you because you already know you got it.

Is it bad when you’re proud of your son or your school or your father? Is pride in this sense a sin? Well, what do we mean by proud of? In often cases we just mean we have a warm hearted admiration for and this is of course not a sin. But, it would be sinful if you take so much pride in your father or child or college you attended that you have an arrogance about it. However, even this is not as bad as having pride in just our self, because at least it is having pride in someone or something else. Of course, the problem still being that our pride should only come from God.

God does not tell you not to be prideful because he needs you to humble yourself and be proud of Him, but God wants you to be in relationship with Him and when you truly are you’re so humbled in a good way that you get rid of all the nonsense and things you hold on to be right with him. This humility makes that relationship, where we are truly free, possible.

What you think of a humble person is probably not accurate. Someone walking around, “woe is me, I’m so humble.” A truly humble person would probably be a cheerful person, intelligent chap who took a fine interest in what you had to say and if you felt any contentment toward them it would only be because they seemed to enjoy life so much. The reason he would enjoy life so much is because he would not be thinking about humility because he would not be thinking about himself at all.

The first step if you want humility is admitting and realizing you are proud, because if you think you are not conceited you are quite conceited indeed.

In chapter 9, Lewis focuses on charity. Charity is one of the three theological virtues. In the modern sense, charity means giving to the poor. But, in the Christian sense, charity means love. Remember love in the Christian sense does not mean an emotion, it means a state of the will. Christian love or charity for our neighbors is quite a different thing  then liking or affection. Natural liking or fondness of someone is not a sin nor a virtue. Though, natural liking should typically be encouraged, it would be quite wrong to think that the way to begin to show charitable love would be to begin to manufacture unnatural likings to all. Don’t waste your time figuring out whether or not you love your neighbor, act as if you did. And you’ll learn a great secret. When you behave as if you love someone, you will really come to love them. If you injure someone you dislike, you will find yourself disliking them even more. If you do him a good turn, you will find yourself disliking him less.

The difference between a Christian and a worldly man is not that the worldly man has only affections and likings and that the Christian has only charity, but that the worldly man treats certain people kindly because he likes them and the Christian trying to treat everyone kindly finds himself liking more and more people as he goes on. Including people he could not even have imagined himself liking to begin with.

This same spiritual law works terribly in the opposite direction. The Germans perhaps at first ill-treated the Jews because they hatted them.  Afterwards they hated them much more because they had ill-treated them. The more cruel you are, the more you will hate and the more cruelly you will treat that person.

In other words, the goodness snowballs and so does the evil; the smallest good deed could snowball into something you never could have imagined being able to do, while the smallest evil doing the same.

We should have charity and love toward God. If we’re not feeling it, the same thing as with people, what would I do if I truly loved God? Think about it, go do it and you might find that you start truly loving God.

Remember Christian love is of the will. God is not judging us on feeling. We cannot create that. But, if we try to follow the commandment love God and love thy neighbor through acts of the will, that’s what God is looking for and he may or may not manufacture the love feeling for us. We can not control that.

The great thing to remember is that our feelings come and go, His love for us does not. It is not wearied by our sins or our indifference. And therefore it is quite relentless in its determination that we shall be cured of those sins, at whatever cost to us, at whatever cost to Him.

Mere Christianity Summarized, Part 4

Mere Christianity Summarized, Part 4

(Book 3: Christian Behavior, Chapters 4-6)

Lewis entitles chapter four of Book 3 Morality and Psychoanalysis. Lewis begins by stating that we must do two things at once. Apply, “do as you would want done to you” into all aspects of our society AND try to become the people who would apply it on the inside if we knew how.

Lewis goes on to explain that when a man makes a choice there are two things involved. One is the act of choosing. The second is the psychoanalysis process and the felling and impulses that come to him, which are the raw material of his choice.

In this process, there can be normal feelings or unnatural feelings. It may be normal and consist of the feelings that are common to all man or it might consist of quite unnatural feelings through the things that have gone wrong in his subconscious.

The first would be a fear of something dangerous that keeps you safe.The second would be a fear of cats or spiders.Psychoanalysis seeks to remove those subconscious things that have brought you to those unnatural fears and feelings.

Rarely does it start with that acts and choices itself, the psychoanalytical problem has to be cured, before the moral problem can begin. Because now that someone is cured, they have the choice to make the right moral decisions. Once the raw material is improved the man has the free choice to but himself first or to put others first. And that free choice is the only thing morality is really concerned with. 

Bad psychological material is not a sin, but a disease. It doesn’t need to be repented of, but cured.This is important, because as humans we judge one another by their external appearances, but God judges people by their moral choices.

Take the person who has an unnatural fear of cats and yet sees a cat in distress and helps it down. He may have done more than a typical person with a typical neurological makeup who showed bravery in war.

Flip this around, those of us with a normal heredity and makeup, seem outwardly like pretty nice people, may have used their typical makeup and good upbringing in such a small way, that God would view us in a worse light than those that we consider to be fiends.

Can we have be sure how we would have behaved had we been saddled with the bad psychological outfit and bad upbringing and with the power, say of Himmler?

That is why Christians are told not to judge. We see only the results of man’s choices. But, God does not judge them on the raw material, but what he has done with it.

Most of the man’s psychological make up is due to his body. When he dies, all of that will fall off. And the real central man, the thing that chose, the thing that made the best or worst out of this material will stand naked. All of the good things that we thought we did that were just because of a good upbringing will fall off of us. All of the bad things that someone did that were really just due to a psychological disorder will fall of them. And then we really see for the first time people as they really are.

People often think that God is making a deal. If you keep rules, I will reward you. If you don’t I will give you the other thing. But, think of it more as a central part of you, every time you make a choice, your turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different than it was before.  And taking your life as a whole, with all of your innumerable choices, you are slowing turning this thing into a heavenly creature or a hellish creature. Either into a creature that is harmony with God and other creatures and yourself. Or into one that is in a state of war and hatred with God, its fellow creatures and itself.

To be first kind of creature is heaven, joy, peace, knowledge, and power. To be the other is madness, horror, hideous, rage, impotence, and eternal loneliness. 

Each of is progressing to one state or the other.

Think of someone who murders and then think of someone who yells and spouts off mean words. You would think of course the murderer is worse. Except for, in his case that central part of the man, each time the murder murders and each time the second man rages, it distorts and twists the central part of their beings a little further, So, that each man, in this way is equal and the only thing that can straighten them out is for God to put them right. Each man moves equally far away from God with their rage, even though the outward looks very different.

One last point, the right direction leads not only to peace, but to knowledge. When the man is getting better, he understands more and more clearly the evil that is still left within him. As a man is getting worse, he understands his own badness less and less. Think of this, you understand the nature of drunkenness when you are sober, not when you are drunk. Good people know the nature of good and evil. Bad people know neither.

In Chapter 5, Lewis goes on to talk about sexuality morality and the Christian rule of chastity.

Chastity is not modesty, which is the amount of coverage a woman has in a particular society or a particular time, which can change. Chastity does not change.  An extreme modesty is not necessarily a sign of chastity.

Since this isn’t a firm standard, the elderly should not be so quick to judge the young for their new fashions, etc and the young should not be so quick to call their elders prudes and out of touch.

Chastity is the most unpopular of all of the Christian virtues. There is not getting around it. It’s sex within the confines of marriage and complete fidelity to your partner or complete abstinence.

Lewis asks the question of what has caused the overwhelming lack of respect for sex.Either Christianity has gone wrong or biological sexual desires have gone wrong.

The biological need for food is to give energy. The biological need for sex is to bare children. If we were all to just eat whatever we want, whenever we want, we would all eat too much. But, only to a certain extent, we might eat enough for 2 people, not for 10.

But if a healthy young man indulged his sexual appetite whenever he felt inclined and each escapade produced a baby, in 10 years he might easily populate a small village. This appetite is in ludicrous and preposterous excess of its function.

Think of this, there are large audiences at strip clubs all the time to watch women undress, but imagine if there was a society where you could get a large audience together to put a covered plate on stage and then to uncover it just to see what food was underneath. Wouldn’t you think in that country something had gone wrong in regards to their appetite for food?

Someone visiting us from another planet would probably think there was something equally odd with the sex instinct within our society. Sexually appetite, like our other appetites, grows by indulgence. You find very few people who use food for other things than to eat. Food perversion is rare. The perversion of sex is ramped.

Christianity never said sex in itself is bad. Christianity actually glorifies marriage, lifts up the body  – – Christ came down in a human body; we will have a new body in heaven – – Sex for reproduction and as a form of pleasure is true and Christianity uplifts this.

People say that sex is an instinct just like any other natural instinct like hunger or pain, but that is not true.When people say sex is not to be ashamed of, in the Christian sense of reproduction and pleasure that is true. In the sense of just being a natural instinct to do whatever you want, it is shameful. If people made food take up half of their life, just talking about it all day and looking at pictures of it, that would be quite odd.

Our society has put out the propaganda that sexual unchastity is the norm.There are people who want to keep our sex instincts inflamed in order to make money off of us.

Lewis says (regarding sexual temptation/sin) that God knows our situation and He will not judge us as if we had no difficulties to overcome. What matters is the sincerity and perseverance of our will to overcome them.

Chastity is very difficult to achieve and even to desire. Before we can be cured, we must want to be cured. Those who really wish for help will get it; but for many modern people even this wish is difficult. We can say with our lips, “Our Lord make me chaste,” but our hearts say, “but not yet.” (St. Augustine)

Three reasons why it is hard to desire, let alone achieve complete chastity.1 – Our warped nature. All of the temptation  and the contemporary propaganda for lust. It can make you feel that the desires you are trying to resists are natural, so why try to resist them?It has been propaganda that has told us every sexual desire at any time is healthy and natural and normal. But, take heart. There are many things including sexual restraint where we must restrain in order to have a happy, healthy and successful life.

2 – People often think that Christian chastity is impossibleBut that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. Just like  a very, very hard question on a test. You don’t leave it blank. You try it and you do your best. Just as you may get some credit for getting certain parts right and certain parts wrong. You will get no credit for not trying at all.   We must ask for God’s help. But after each failure, ask for forgiveness, pick yourself up and try again. Very often what God helps us to first is not the virtue itself, but to always try again. The only failure is to be content with anything less than perfection.

3 – People often misunderstand what psychologists teach about repression. It teaches us that repressed sex is dangerous, but that’s misusing the term suppression for repression. Your suppressing your desire and you are very conscience of your choice. Where, repression is something blocked because it has been so awful (since childhood or something).

While there was a lot to say about sex and Christian morality, it is not the center of Christian morality. The sins of flesh are bad, but they are the least bad of all the sins. All worst sins are purely spiritual: the pleasure of putting other people in the wrong, of bossing and patronizing and spoiling sport, and backbiting, the pleasure of power, of hatred. 

For there are two things inside me, competing with the human self which I must try to become. They are the Animal self, and the Diabolical self. That is why a cold. Self-righteous prig who goes regularly to church may be far nearer to hell than a prostitute. But, of course it s better to be neither.

Lewis follows up his chapter on sexual morality with Christian marriage.

Christina doctrine on marriage is based on Christ’s words that a man and a wife are to be regarded as a single organism. That is what the word “one flesh” would be in modern English. He was not given a sentiment, but a fact; just as a lock and a key are one mechanism. And a violin and a bow one instrument.

So, the Christian view is that the pleasure must be coupled within marriage. Just as with food you shouldn’t try to get the taste without digesting it. You don’t chew up your food and spit it out just for the taste.

Some churches won’t allow divorce under any circumstances. Some do very reluctantly under extreme circumstances. What churches agree on and are much  more in agreement with each other than with the outside world is that divorce is not a good thing and that it is more like cutting off a leg than just separating so easily as the world does when any little thing doesn’t go right.

Anyone who is married in a church makes the promise till death do you part, however this is often see as just a mere formality. But, why make the promise then? Who are they trying to trick? Often, it’s the public. They want the formality of a respectable wedding, without intending to pay the price of actually meaning what their marriage vows say. If people do not believe in the permanency of marriage, it would be better for them to live together unmarried, then to become married and make vows they do not intend to keep.

The idea that being in love is the only reason to remain married really leaves no room for marriage as a promise at all. If love the love is the whole thing, than the promise could add nothing. And if it adds nothing, then it should not be made.The promise is not to remain in love. You can’t promise to continue to feel a certain way. The promise is about what you can control, the actions, what you do, regardless of the feeling.

What’s the use of keeping two people together if they are no longer in love? There are several sound social reasons.First, to provide a home for their children.Second, to protect a woman, who has probably sacrificed her own career to get married, from being dropped whenever the man is tired of her.

Being in love is great in one way, no one would deny it is better than common sensuality or complete selfishness.  But the most dangerous thing you can do is take any one impulse of our nature and set it up as the thing you ought to follow at all costs.

Too often we want to say that something is just good or bad. But, there’s good, better, best. There’s bad, worse, worst. And being in love is a good thing, but it’s not the best thing. There are many things below it, but also many above it. It’s noble feeling, but just a feeling. No feeling can last in it’s full intensity or can even be relied on to last at all. Knowledge, principles and habits can last, but feelings come and go.

Ceasing to be in love, does not mean ceasing to love.  IN this sense, love is not merely a feeling, it is a deep unity maintained by the will and deliberately strengthened by habit; reinforced by the grace with which both parents ask for and receive from God. 

They can have this love for each other even in moments when they do not like each other. They can maintain this love, even when if each allowed themselves, they could easily be “in love” with someone else. Being in love first moved them to promise fidelity , this second quieter promise allows them to keep this fidelity . It is on this love that the engine of marriage runs. Being in love was the explosion which started it.

We must learn from our own marriage and those around us what is really true and not from movies and books. We must disentangle this and see what is reality and what is fantasies that have permeated through our brain through fiction.

Think of anything, anything that the first experience or thinking about it is so exciting, but the reality of it does not stay at that peak , but something lasting comes instead.  (this may apply to my teaching).

Often when we settle down and continue in that interest even after the initial excitement is over, we find a thrill in something new, For example, the one who goes off to live in “the perfect place,” the excitement died down, but then found a new thrill in gardening.

Lewis believes this is one of the things Christ meant when he said a man may not truly live until he dies. If all you try to do is live all off of thrills, they would get weaker and weaker. You would end up living as a delusioned person. You must settle into a quieter peace that comes from the ongoing fulfillment and take the new thrills as they come along away.

It’s also by movies, etc that falling in love seems so irresistible that you just can’t help it , but Lewis says that yes you meet someone whose beautiful and clever and witty, And in a certain sense we should love these qualities. But, don’t we have much more choice than we tend to say or believe in whether or not we fall in love with them?

A Christian doctrine on marriage even more unpopular than the permanence is that Christian wives promise to obey their husbands. The man is said to be the head.

The need for some head follows the thought that the marriage is permanent. Typically, the couple should agree, but when there is a real disagreement, what is to happen?Either they must separate and go their own ways or one must have the final decision.

Why should the head be the man?Does the woman really want to be the head of the house? Even a woman who says she wants to be the head of the house, does not see it the same when it’s her neighbor. “Poor Mr. Smith. Why does his wife boss him round like that? That’s just not right.” There must be something unnatural of the rule of wives over husbands because wives themselves are half ashamed of it and despise the husbands whom they rule.

Also, a woman is so focused on her family and fighting for their needs, she finds it hard to be just to those in the outside world when it comes to issues dealing with her family. Where a man tends to be more just to all involved.If your child had hit another child, who would you rather talk to about it? The dad or the mom next door?

Also, wives think of this. Don’t you think one of the failings of your husband is he seems to see the other person’s point of view too much. Is a bit of an appeaser. Doesn’t go all out to defend you and the kids.

Mere Christianity Summarized, Part 3

Mere Christianity Summarized, Part 3 (Book 3 : Christian Behavior, Chapters 1-3)

In chapter 1 of the third book, Lewis begins the by stating that moral rules are directions for running the human machine. Every rule is there to prevent a breakdown or a strain or a friction in the running of that machine. He points out that while perfect behavior is unobtainable, it is a necessary ideal for all men to have when talking about the human machine.

It’s nothing to brag about to say you have high ideals or high morals. It would be the same to say that when you are doing a math problem you are trying to get it right. It would be ridiculous to not try because every mistake you make will cause more troubles later. It’s the same with every moral rule you break. It causes troubles for yourself (and most likely others) along the way.

Lewis observes that morality seems to be concerned with three things. The first is the fair play and harmony between individuals. Secondly, with harmonizing things inside each individual. And thirdly, with a general purpose of a human life as a whole; what man was made for, what cost the whole fleet, and what the the conductor of the band wants to play.

Often people don’t think of morality beyond the first one. To be kind and good toward others. To make sure the things you do don’t harm others. Often it stops with just this first one. However, we have to make sure what’s inside of us is right. Nothing but the courage and selflessness of individuals is ever going to make the way that people interact and society better. People have to be right inside before those social interactions will really be right anyways.

Then, there is the third concern of morality. In which different beliefs about the universe lead to different behaviors. Use a fleet of ships as an example. If someone thinks that honestly all that matters is they don’t harm the other ships, but they can do whatever they want to their own ship. But doesn’t it matter if they believe they own their own ship or if it is owned by the fleet?

Think of yourself. If all your worried about is how you treat others and you are not worried about what you are like on the inside that would greatly depend on whether you own yourself, so to speak. Our bodies are only a tenant, responsible to the real landlord. If someone made me for his own purposes, I would have a lot of duties I would not have if I only belonged to myself.

It is the same thing with our view of eternity; there are lots of things that would not matter if  I was only going to live roughly 70 years. I would not bother about many things, but if I am going to live forever, there are things that become very important that I better take care of.

In the second chapter, Lewis goes on to talk about the Cardinal Virtues. He states that there are seven virtues and four of them are cardinal. The other three are theological. The Cardinal Virtues are recognized by all civilized people, while the theological ones are, as a rule, only recognized by Christians.

Cardinal means the hinge of a door, they are pivotal. They are prudence, temperance, justice and fortitude. Prudence means practical common sense. Taking the trouble to think out what you are doing and what will most likely come of it. This virtue is important to Christians because Jesus wants a child’s heart, but a grown ups head. Being a Christian is going to take the whole of you, brains and all.

Temperance means going the right length and no further when it comes to pleasures. Temperance is different than abstinence. There may be times when a Christi an completely obtains from something, because it is something they struggle to not go overboard with or to keep their witness or because they are going to use the money they would have spent on it for the poor, but the mark of a bad man is that he cannot give up a thing himself without wanting everyone else to give it up. That is not the Christian way.

Temperance is a very difficult virtue and it applies to much more than just alcohol. Someone who devotes all of their time to golf or to their job or to overspending and shopping. Those aren’t as easily seen on the outside as a drunk who falls down in the middle of the road. But, remember God is not easily tricked by outside appearance.

Justice is everything we should call fairness: honesty, give and take, truthfulness, keeping promises and all that side of life.

Fortitude includes both kinds of of courage. The kind that faces danger as well as the kind that sticks with it under pain. Guts is perhaps the nearest modern English.

There is a difference between just occasionally doing cardinal actions and actually having cardinal virtues. It is good to point out doing one, or some sort of just or temperate action and actually being a just or temperate person.

If you think about a tennis player, every now and again, anyone could hit a good shot right down the line. But, a good player is counted on to hit that good shot because they have done it time after time after time and been trained.

A person who becomes just not only does just actions, but they have a certain character about them that makes them a just person that goes beyond just the act now and again. This distinction is important because if it only mattered doing the action we would have some contradictions. 

One, it doesn’t matter why you do it. But, indeed it does. Right actions done for the wrong reason do not help to build the internal quality called virtue. Two, we might think that God simply wanted obedience to a set of rules. Where as he really wants people of a certain sort. Three, we might think that virtues were necessary only for this present life. That in the other world we could stop being just because there is nothing to quarrel about…etc. Without these types of internal qualities (not that you will need to be just or brave in heaven) that person would not be able to have the type of happiness that heaven is meant to bring because they won’t have the quality inside of them to accept it.

In the third chapter, Lewis focuses on Social Morality.  Something to understand about Christian morality, when it comes to man interacting with man, Is that Christ did not come to preach a new morality. He came with the golden rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” This is something that deep down everyone has known all along.

Really, great moral teachers never do introduce new morality. People new to be reminded more often than they need to be instructed. The real job of a moral teacher is to keep on bringing us back time after time to the old simple principals which we are all so anxious not to see.

Christianity has not and does not profess to have a political system to apply to a particular society in a particular moment with the “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” It is meant for all men at all moments.

Lewis says that in order for Christianity to make its biggest impact on society it is not tot take over one particular aspect of society, it is rather a director, which will set them all to the right job and a source of an energy that will give them all new life. For example, the human arts and science.

People often ask for a lead from the church. But they mean that they want the clergy to put out a particular political program, which is not what Christianity is. Now, if they mean to lead with the people God gifted in the right way and with the right talents to take on positions within politics and business and then to live out “do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” you would quickly have a society changed by Christians.

The New Testament gives us an idea of what the Christian society should look like. Every man should work or they will not eat. Every man should work to produce something good. There should be no showing off or bragging, but everyman doing his best at what he was meant to do. The society would also have obedience and respect to authority, leaders, officials, parents and from wives to husbands. It should also be a cheerful society with joy and signing; regarding anxiety as wrong.

The economic life would seem socialistic and in that way advanced. The family life would seem very old fashioned. Even, somewhat ritualistic. We probably wouldn’t even like all of the parts of it, because we have made our own plan that we say is the way the Christian plan is supposed to be. But, that’s because we have all departed from the Christian machine as it was meant to run. 

In Christianity, everyone is attracted to bits of it and want to leave out the rest.  Borrowing with interest is something the Christians, Jews and ancient Greeks have all spoken out against. Also, the passage that says that everyone must work, is in order that they may give to those in need. Charity is an essential part of the Christian Society. Think of the parable of the sheep and  the goat. I do not think we can settle how much one should give. I think the only safe rule is to give more than one can spare. There ought to be things we would like to do and cannot do because of our charitable giving. We must be careful we don’t try to make Christianity support the belief we already hold or political system we already support, but we must let Christianity speak for itself.

A Christian society is not going to arrive until most of us really want it. And we are not going to want it until we become fully Christian. I may repeat, “do as you would be done by” until I am blue in the face,  but I can not really carry it out until I learn to love my neighbor as myself and can not really love my neighbor as myself unit I learn to God and I cannot really love God except  by learning to obey Him.

So we are driven on to inward matters.