THIS IS MY 2010 BLOG... revisited 5 years later

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

January 27

In the earliest history of every rebellion there is a stage at which you do not yet attack the King in person. You say, 'The King is all right. It is his Ministers who are wrong. They misrepresent him and corrupt all his plans - which, I'm sure, are good plans if only the Ministers would let them take effect.' And the first victory consists in beheading a few Ministers: only at a later stage do you go on and behead the King himself. In the same way, the nineteenth-century attack on St. Paul was really only a stage in the revolt against Christ. Men were not ready in large numbers to attack Christ Himself. They made the normal first move - that of attacking one of His principal minsters. Everything they dislike in Christianity was therefore attributed to St. Paul. It was unfortunate their case could not impress anyone who had really read the Gospels and the Epistles with attention: but apparently few people had, and so the first victory was won. St. Paul was impeached and banished and the world went on to the next step - the attack on the King Himself.
-C.S. Lewis
The Business of Heaven


Sunday, June 28, 2015

January 26, We Continue to Debate

Looks as though I've fallen, eh hem, a few months behind. Oops
A most astonishing misconception has long dominated the modern mind on the subject of St. Paul. It is to this effect: that Jesus preached a kindly and simple religion (found in the Gospels) and that St. Paul afterwards corrupted it into a cruel and complicated religion (found in the Epistles). This is really quite untenable. All the most terrifying texts came from the mouth of Our Lord: all the texts on which we can base such warrant as we have for hoping that all men will be saved come from St. Paul. If it could be proved that St. Paul altered the teaching of his Master in any way, he altered it in exactly the opposite way to that which is popularly supposed. But there is no real evidence for a pre-Pauline doctrine different from St. Paul's. The Epistles are, for the most part, the earliest Christian documents we possess. The Gospels come later. They are not 'the Gospel', the statement of the Christian belief. They were written for those who had already been converted, who had already accepted 'The Gospel'. They leave out many of the 'complications' (that is, the theology) because they are intended for readers who have already been instructed in it. In that sense the Epistles are more primitive and more central than the Gospels - though not, of course, than the great events which the Gospels recount. God's act (the Incarnation, the Crucifixion, and the Resurrection) comes first: the earliest theological analysis of it comes in the Epistles: then, when the generation who had known the Lord was dying out, the Gospels were composed to provide for believers a record of the great Act and of some of the Lord's sayings.
-C.S. Lewis
The Business of Heaven

To start out I believe the Word of God is truth. I also believe, contrary to which many will argue today the God who created everything was fully capable of compiling a book for us all to read which would teach us of His will, His Spirit, His plans, and truth. All those books that have been found that are "missing" from the Holy Bible, I personally believe that my Lord didn't want them in the Holy Bible. All the talk of human error in compiling the scriptures, again, I'm pretty sure the Creator of countless galaxies, stars, planets, all life; I'm pretty sure He could circumvent human error.

Secondly the Word says:
the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him.
-1 John 2:27
God's Word is living. The Holy Spirit was sent from Christ to teach us, lead us, guide us, and so forth. To argue that anything in the Word of God, or for that matter anything which the Holy Spirit has convicted you of is false is flat out futile (if you're arguing with someone who believes the Holy Bible to be truth). That is unless your convictions are contrary to the Word. God does not ever work against Himself. God is never changing, always constant. His Word, His Holy Word has been given us by Him. He uses man to be His hands and feet, His instruments; He is still in control.

In short, it is my belief that if you study the scriptures, if you have a prayer closet that's in constant use and the Anointing which you have received from Him abides in you (which cannot be contrary to His Word) then, well I think then there would be considerably less debate in this amazing world, at least among fellow believers in Christ.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

January 25, Growing up

In one sense the road back to God is a road of moral effort, of trying harder and harder. But in another sense it is not trying that is ever going to bring us home. All this trying leads up to the vital moment at which you turn to God and say, 'You must do this. I can't.'
-C.S. Lewis
One thing I see that differs greatly between Christianity and other religions is that at the core of Christianity you have Christ: the Redeemer who came to cleanse humanity of their sins, and sinful nature because we, no human being will ever be good enough, or perfect enough, or righteous enough to bring themselves into right relationship with God. Other religions have people trying their very hardest to be good enough. And at the very start of Christianity you flat out declare, "I am not good enough nor will I ever be. I need Jesus." Christians cannot be good enough to get to God. I suppose that makes us all look pretty pathetic and maybe a tad bit lazy but I certainly am NOT good enough, nor will I ever be. Praise the Lord for Jesus.

Now that we've gotten that out of the way we begin the delicate dance of trying to balance two simple truths that don't seem to go together all that well.
1.) I am not good enough. I need Jesus.
2.) I love Jesus and I desire and intend to follow His commands. (Jn 14:15)

(continuation from quote above) Do not, I implore you, start asking yourselves, 'Have I reached that moment?' Do not sit down and start watching your own mind to see if it is coming along. That puts a man quite on the wrong track. When the most important thing in our life happens we quite often do not know, at the moment, what is going on. A man does not always say to himself, 'Hullo! I'm growing up now.' It is often only when he looks back that he realizes what has happened and recognizes it as what people call 'growing up.' You can see it even in simple matters. A man who starts anxiously watching to see whether he is going to sleep is very likely to remain wide awake. As well, the thing I am talking of now may not happen to every one in a sudden flash - as it did to St. Paul or Bunyan: It may be so gradual that no one could ever point to a particular hour or even a particular year. And what matters is the nature of the change in itself, not how we feel while it is happening. It is the change from being confident about our own efforts to the state in which we despair of doing anything for ourselves and leave it to God.
-C.S. Lewis
The Business of Heaven

Sunday, February 15, 2015

January 23, Thirsty

I'm falling significantly behind in this task I've undertaken. But as I said before, I'm really in no hurry.
If we had noticed that the young men of the present day found it harder and harder to get the right answers to sums, we should consider that this had been adequately explained the moment we discovered that schools had for some years ceased to teach arithmetic. After that discovery we should turn a deaf ear to people who offered explanations of a vaguer and larder kind - people who said that the influence of Einstein had sapped the ancestral belief in fixed numerical relations, or that gangster films had undermined the desire to get right answers, or that the evolution of consciousness was now entering on its post-arithmetical phase. Where a clear and simple explanation completely covers the facts no other explanation is in court. If the younger generation have never been told what the Christians say and never heard any arguments in defense of it, then their agnosticism or indifference is fully explained. There is no need to look any further: no need to talk about the general intellectual climate of the age, the influence of mechanistic civilization on the character of urban life. And having discovered that the cause of their ignorances is lack of instruction, we have also discovered the remedy. There is nothing in the nature of the younger generation which incapacitates them for receiving Christianity. If any one is prepared to tell them, they are apparently ready to hear.... The young people today are un-Christian because their teachers have been either unwilling or unable to transmit Christianity to them.... None can give to another what he does not possess himself.
-C.S. Lewis
The Business of Heaven

I find myself, especially as of late, feeling spiritually thirsty rather often. I like to think I'm a bit like David, the psalmist, in that he was constantly worshiping the Lord (or needing to worship the Lord). I can practically guarantee you that David's cup overfloweth-ed when he was meeting the Lord in praise and worship. For crying out loud his wife rebuked him at one point for praising the Lord in a way she believed to be unproper. And God rewarded her for looking out for David's propriety by closing her womb. Oops.

David could not help but cry out to God, to praise, and to worship our Lord. It's what fueled him. I'm fueled in this same way. I honestly believe that we all are, at our core, made to worship the Heavenly Father and spending time in His presence is the only way to feel really whole. My spiritual thirstiness, sadly, and I don't enjoy admitting it comes from not reading the Word, not praying, not seeking the Lord, and not worshiping as regularly as I should be. I truly feel a sense of thirst, a need that sits at the core of who I am to meet up with my Creator and have Him fill my cup back up.

Here's what I've been thinking a good deal lately as I've been thirsty and needing to carve out time to meet with Him: what about all the people out there who don't know how? I imagine, even of people who are confirmed believers there must be a good deal who don't know how to really seek Him and be re-fueled, have that inner thirst quenched. And for anyone who isn't even aware of His reality, oh my. No wonder people seek out all this other nonsense to fill themselves up, to try and get rid of that void. Yikes!

Do you know that I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Saviour when I was six years old? And I meant it. I've loved Him since before then. But I did not know what He meant by "the living water" until I was probably in my 20's, maybe just a little before that... I think I'm rambling now, but if nothing else I'd like to encourage you to seek Him. He'll meet you, fill you up, and wrap His arms around you no matter where you're at if you do like David did. Just tell Him what's on your heart and let Him know you want Him around.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

January 22, Who He is

Speak about beauty, truth and goodness, or about a God who is simply the indwelling principle of these three, speak about a great spiritual force pervading all things, a common mind of which we are all parts, a pool of generalized spirituality to which we can all flow, and you will command friendly interest. But the temperature drops as soon as you mention a God who has purposes and performs particular actions, who does one thing and not another, a concrete, choosing, commanding, prohibiting, God with a determinate character.
-C.S. Lewis

We are creatures of change even if we are creatures of habit. God is constant, always the same, never changing. He's so much larger, mightier, bigger; there aren't even words, God is beyond comprehension. We can't draw boundaries for Him to fit into. We see knew facets of Him regularly; His character, His presence, more of His will and plans are regularly revealed to each of us individually depending on our paths and certainly on our choices. But He does not change. And there are things about God that we'd all love to wax over, or erase: His passion, His jealousy, His fury, His wrath... "but God is 'love.' How could He..."

God is not simply a great spiritual force. He is the Author, the Creator, the Lord of all. There's a lot to that. I've a dear friend who believes God is something having to do with a strong force of light and love. But that's entirely how she sees Him. Her view of God takes His character away from Him. My God encompass absolute truth and power and beauty and perfection and wisdom. He has a character and is a Being, not just a spiritual force. Oh, He is a Spiritual force but He's not just this huge mighty spiritual force. He is God. I don't think anyone should even begin to narrow that down even if a God who is simply the indwelling principle of beauty, truth, and goodness sounds like such a grand thing. Let's not start trying to fit God in boxes we've made for Him.

I think my friend would say I'm the one who's shoved Him into a box by calling Him the "Christian" God. But identifying truths about Him, like how I believe He sent His Son to draw humanity back into right relationship with Him after they walked away, I don't see that as putting God into a box. I see that as seeking out who He is.

We who defend Christianity find ourselves constantly opposed not by the irreligion of our hearers but by their real religion. Speak about beauty, truth and goodness, or about a God who is simply the indwelling principle of these three, speak about a great spiritual force pervading all things, a common mind of which we are all parts, a pool of generalized spirituality to which we can all flow, and you will command friendly interest. But the temperature drops as soon as you mention a God who has purposes and performs particular actions, who does one thing and not another, a concrete, choosing, commanding, prohibiting, God with a determinate character. People become embarrassed or angry. Such a conception seems to them primitive and crude and even irreverent. The popular 'religion' excludes miracles because it excludes the 'living God' of Christianity and believes instead in a kind of God who obviously would not do miracles, or indeed anything else.
-C.S. Lewis
The Business of Heaven

January 21, My Religion

The great difficulty is to get modern audiences to realize that you are preaching Christianity solely and simply because you happen to think it true; they always suppose you are preaching it because you like it or think it is good for society or something of that sort.
-C.S. Lewis

I suppose you could say that I didn't choose Christianity. Christianity chose me. I've known it to be true ever since I was a child. At any point in time I could have made up my mind to the contrary but everything about the Holy Bible has always been truth to me and there's never been a single thing to sway me. I can re-count to you many moments in my life that solidify my belief in Jesus and the Christian God.

The same could be said about others born into other religions and I'm sure they feel the same way as I do. "This is my truth." But since it is my truth as far as I'm concerned it is thee truth. I can't be open minded enough to say or to think "well maybe your truth is true." If I were to even begin to think upon those lines then what truth would there be in anything I believe? Thus, I hold that Christianity is thee truth. I will profess this until the very end. I don't wish to offend anyone but I can't stand against what is at the very core of who I am.

It seems more and more we're being asked to do just that. There is much talk today about "accepting" other views, and about understanding where others are coming from, and about everyone having equal representation. I get it. Especially since Christ preached love and Paul preached against causing anyone to stumble but you can only go so far with your "acceptance." Truth is truth. I'll love you no matter what you believe but that does not mean that I will agree with you and acknowledge, "well, you could be right." I believe Christianity to be truth. I haven't chose "my" religion because I like it or because it appeared better to me than yours. Not at all. I've stuck with it because I believe it is true.
We are to defend Christianity itself - the faith preached by the Apostles, attested by the Martyrs, embodied in the Creeds, expounded by the Fathers. This must be clearly distinguished from the whole of what any one of us may think about God and Man. Each of us has his individual emphasis: each holds, in addition to the Faith, many opinions which seem to him to be consistent with it and true and important. And so perhaps they are. But as apologists it is not our business to defend them. We are defending Christianity: not 'my religion.' When we mention our personal opinions we must always make quite clear the difference between them and the Faith itself....
     This distinction, which is demanded by honesty, also gives the apologist a great tactical advantage. The great difficulty is to get modern audiences to realize that you are preaching Christianity solely and simply because you happen to think it true; they always suppose you are preaching it because you like it or think it is good for society or something of that sort.... This immediately helps them to realize that what is being discussed is a question about objective fact - not gas about ideals and points of view.... Do not attempt to water Christianity down. There must be no pretense that you can have it with the Supernatural left out. So far as I can see Christianity is precisely the one religion from which the miraculous cannot be separated. You must frankly argue for supernaturalism from the very outset.
-C.S. Lewis
The Business of Heaven

Saturday, January 31, 2015

January 20, Introduction to 365 Days "The Business of Heaven"

Originally I wrote this blog while exploring Erich Fromm's "To have or to be?" The blog was my first step in becoming a minimalist. I learned to stop buying excessive/ wasteful stuff while writing this blog in 2010. I explored a lot about myself and my relationship with Christ. I grew a lot while writing this blog and I'm still intrigued by my 2010 journey each time I look back at the posts from that year.

This past December, 2014, after reading through a few of the days towards the end of The Business of Heaven, a compilation of daily readings of C.S. Lewis' works done by Walter Hooper, I decided that I'd love to challenge myself to do a daily post surrounding that book this year. I love C.S. Lewis' writings. Reading little excerpts on a daily basis is proving to be wonderfully thought provoking, spiritually uplifting, and artistically inspiring. I hope you enjoy coming along for the journey with me. So far it's been much less personal that my 2010 blog, or even my $12 a day blog but I'm having fun with it for certain.

I will post each day's reading in it's entirety at first but after about a month I'll be going back and removing most of the excerpt due to copy right infringement possibilities. This means you'll need to keep up with me if you would like to read through all of The Business of Heaven with me this year.
One of the great difficulties is to keep before the audience's mind the question of Truth. They always think you are recommending Christianity not because it is true but because it is good. And in the discussion they will at every moment try to escape from the issue 'True - or False' into stuff about the Spanish Inquisition, or France, or Poland - or anything whatever. You have to keep forcing them back, and again back, to the real point. Only thus will you be able to undermine... their belief that a certain amount of 'religion' is desirable but one mustn't carry it too far. One must keep on pointing out that Christianity is a statement which, if false, is of no importance, and, if true, of infinite importance. The one thing it cannot be is moderately important.
C.S. Lewis
-The Business of Heaven

Monday, January 26, 2015

January 19, Truth and Politics

There is a danger... of the clergy developing a special professional conscience which obscures the very plain moral issue. Men who have passed beyond these boundary lines... are apt to protest that they have come by their unorthodox opinions honestly. In defense of those opinions they are prepared to suffer obloquy and to forfeit professional advancement. They thus come to feel like martyrs. But this simply misses the point which so gravely scandalizes the layman. We never doubted that the unorthodox opinions were honestly held; what we complained of is your continuing your ministry after you have come to hold them. We always knew that a man who makes his living as a paid agent of the Conservative party may honestly change his views and honestly become a Communist. what we deny is that he can honestly continue to be a Conservative agent and to receive money from one party while he supports the policy of another.
-C.S. Lewis
The Business of Heaven

Truth. Are we to respect our elders? Yes. Are we to learn from the teachers? Yes. But remember that scripture says to "test the spirits... because many false prophets have gone out into the world." It doesn't matter who anyone says they are from, or who they say they represent it matters what they say. I can remember sitting under a head pastor who was an incredible man of God but slowly over time the things he began to say did not line up with the Word of God. Each falsity would hit me like a daggar when I heard it being preached from the pulpit. I had no idea what was going on behind the scenes but I knew something had changed and I knew that what I was hearing, although it was coming from a very well respected man who I loved was not in line with God's word. Seek out truth. Recognize falsities. Read the Word and let the Holy Spirit write it upon your heart. People, sadly, and I pray less than often that not, can stray from the path they began upon.

But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him. And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming.
1 John 2: 27-28

January 18

There have been men... who got so interested in proving the existence of God that they came to care nothing for God Himself... as if the good Lord had nothing to do but exist! There have been some who were so occupied in spreading Christianity that they never gave a thought to Christ. Man! Ye see it in smaller matters. Did ye never know a lover of books that with all his first editions and signed copies had lost the power to read them? Or an organizer of charities that had lost all the love for the poor? It is the subtlest of snares.
-C.S. Lewis
The Business of Heaven

Do you love the religion or the Lord? Hmm...

Sunday, January 25, 2015

January 17, Christianity And

"Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the law?"
Jesus said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your soul, all your heart, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment."
Matt 22:30-38

I have a few note cards that I keep within the pages of my Bible. I've written on them answers I feel that I've heard while praying. On one of them I've written "I'll give you vision but don't try to figure out how to get to step 25 right now. Just start at step 1." I have to remind myself of this answer often as I'm trying to run the race all on my own. I'm very glad to have this notecard in my Bible. I find myself uttering under my breath on many an occasion, "start at step 1."

Step 1: love the Lord your God with all your heart... and seek first the kingdom of God. The funny thing is that I'm growing more and more certain that there really is only one step. I would love to take all 25 steps in the direction I'm going but I don't think God has planned it that way. No matter what circumstances I find myself in, no matter what journey I see lying before me, I think His plan is to carry my down the path, I must only take one step: Love the Lord your God with all your heart... In taking this first step He does all the rest. Then you step again: Love the Lord your God with all your heart... Then you step again: Love the Lord your God with all your heart.

Is loving God with all your heart so easy peasy, just do it and done? Oh no! The Bible says that "if you love Me, keep my commandments." Now that's truly a tall order and certainly makes me feel that I am incapable of honestly loving God but I can start at step 1 and I think that's the very best place to start.

Do we need more than that? Do we need Christianity And...?
The older I get, the less I seem to think so.

My dear Wormwood,
     The real trouble about the set your patient is living in is that it is merely Christian. They all have individual interests, of course, but the bond remains mere Christianity. What we want, if men become Christians at all, is to keep them in the state of mind I call 'Christianity And.' You know - Christianity and the Crisis, Christianity and the New Psychology, Christianity and the New Order, Christianity and Faith Healing, Christianity and Psychical Research, Christianity and Vegetarianism, Christianity and Spelling Reform. If they must be Christians let them at least be Christians with a difference. Substitute for the faith itself some Fashion with a Christian colouring. Work on their horror of the Same Old Thing.
    The horror of the Same Old Thing is one of the most valuable passions we have produced in the human heart - an endless source of heresies in religion, folly in counsel, infidelity in marriage, an inconstancy in friendship. The humans live in time, and experience reality successively. To experience much of it, therefore, they must experience many different things; in other words, they must experience change. And since they need change, the Enemy (being a hedonist at heart) has made change pleasurable to them, just as He has made eating pleasurable. But since He does not wish them to make change, any more than eating, an end to itself, He has balanced the love of change in them by a love of permanence. He has contrived to gratify both tastes together in the very world He has made, by that union of change and permanence which we call Rhythm. He gives them the seasons, each season different yet every year the same, so that spring is always felt as a novelty yet always as the recurrence of an immemorial theme. He gives them in His Church a spiritual year; they change from fast to a feast, but it is the same feast as before.... We pick out this natural pleasantness of change and twist it into a demand for absolute novelty.
-C.S. Lewis
The Business of Heaven

January 16

Today I will only post the quote, for I am falling rather behind and this is still in the same vein as the last two days.
Time is always ripe for reunion. Divisions between Christians are a sin and a scandal, and Christians ought at all times to be making contributions towards re-union, if it is only by their prayers. I am only a layman and a recent Christian, and I do not know much about these things, but in all the things which I have written and thought I have always stuck to traditional dogmatic positions. The result is that letters of agreement reach me from what are ordinarily regarded as the most different kinds of Christians; for instance, I get letters from Jesuits, monks, nuns, and also from Quakers and Welsh Dissenters, and so on. So it seems to me that the 'extremist' elements in every church are nearest one another and the liberal and 'broad-minded' people in each Body could never be united at all. The world of 'broad-mindedness' and watered-down 'religion' is a world where a small number of people (all the same type) say totally different things and change their minds every few minutes. We shall never get reunion from them.
C.S. Lewis
-The Business of Heaven

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

January 15, Unity again

It was never more needed. A united Christendom should be the answer to the new Paganism. But how reconciliation of the churches, as opposed to conversions of individuals from one church to another, is to come about, I confess I cannot see. I am inclined to think that the immediate task is vigorous co-operation on the basis of what even now is common - combined, of course, with full admission of the differences. An experienced unity on some things might then prove the prelude to a confessional unity on all things. Nothing would give such a strong support to the Papal claims as the spectacle of a Pope actually functioning as head of Christendom.
-C.S. Lewis
The Business of Heaven
He's at it again. Lewis writes more of unity in Christianity in today's excerpt. The line that made me chuckles was, "An experienced unity on some things might then prove the prelude to a confessional unity on all things." Sounds very much like what I was talking about yesterday. We do have similarities. We are united on many fronts. We need to acknowledge those things first and foremost. We need to look to unity and not purposefully point out divisions.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

January 14, Unity

We are all rightly distressed, and ashamed also, at the divisions of Christendom. But those who have always lived within the Christian fold may be too easily dispirited by them. They are bad, but such people do not know what it looks like from without. Seen from there, what is left intact, despite all the divisions, still appears (as it truly is) an immensely formidable unity.
-C.S. Lewis
Facebook seems to point out with the largest magnifying glass the divisions of Christendom. In that vein it points out our divisions on every level, political, cultural, ect; We are certainly divided. But our similarities, our unity (that we tend to not even notice) is present. If you look at the American political system in fact, often times a republican and democrat will argue with intense ferocity about an issue they wholly disagree on, but really they're only disagreeing on the means to reach the end. They will never acknowledge and probably never notice that they actually agree on a world of issues there are only details dividing them.

The details are what divide us. If we could take more time to just look at the bigger picture together we would be much better friends. I'm often frustrated beyond words while watching Christians indirectly attacking each other on social media, and for that matter friends of different political beliefs, when I know full well that beating each other down does no good for anyone. We should strive for unity, not run from it.

For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them. Matt 18:20

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is
For brethren to dwell together in unity! Ps. 133:1

If any man is tempted to think - as one might be tempted who read only contemporaries - that 'Christianity' is a word of so many meanings that it means nothing at all, he can learn beyond all doubt, by stepping out of his own century, that this is not so. Measured against the ages 'mere Christianity' turns out to be no insipid interdenominational transparency, but something positive, self-consistent, and inexhaustible. I know it, indeed, to my cost. In the days when I still hated Christianity, I learned to recognize, like some all too familiar smell, that almost unvarying something which met me, now in Puritan Bunyan, now in Anglican Hooker, now in Tomist Dante.... 
We are all rightly distressed, and ashamed also, at the divisions of Christendom. But those who have always lived within the Christian fold may be too easily dispirited by them. They are bad, but such people do not know what it looks like from without. Seen from there, what is left intact, despite all the divisions, still appears (as it truly is) an immensely formidable unity. I know, for I saw it; and well our enemies know it. That unity any of us can find by going out of his own age. It is not enough, but it is more than you had thought till then. Once you are well soaked in it, if you then venture to speak, you will have an amusing experience. You will be thought a Papist when you are actually reproducing Bunyan, a Pantheist when you are quoting Aquinas, and so forth. For you have now got on to the great level viaduct which crosses the ages and which looks so high from the valleys, so low from the mountains, so narrow compared with the swamps, and so broad compared with the sheeptracks.
-C.S. Lewis
The Business of Heaven

Monday, January 19, 2015

January 13, They saw Him

I believe that the glory, the majesty, the very presence of God is reflected not only in us, who've been created marvelously in His image, but in all of nature. He can be found when we look for Him. The mountains echo His name. The oceans dance at His presence. The creatures of the earth tell the story of His creativity. Our eyes are windows to heavenly places.

For years, since I first began reading of Irish pre-history I've felt very strongly that God can be found in strength reflected in our history books. Even those who knew nothing of Him personally knew He was there. I've felt this way for a long time, that I can see reflections of the Christian God on pages of books that in no way intend to hint at Him. But I don't hear others talk of this observation much, if at all. Lewis says "we may still most reasonably believe that we have...the God not only of the philosophers, but of mystics and savages, not only of the head and heart, but also of the primitive emotions and the spiritual heights beyond all emotion."

The men in our history books worshiping the gods of water, of the sun, of... you name it, and offering sacrifices to these gods for good growing seasons, for blessing and sometimes for cursing; I see so much truth in their stories, if only a distorted, veiled, missing a very important piece of the puzzle truth. This is one reason history fascinates me so very much. God was always there, always, even when practically no one could see him; and yet they saw him in the mountains, in the oceans, in the creatures; they saw Him.
If He can be known it will be by self-revelation on His part, not by speculation on ours. We, therefore, look for Him where it is claimed that He has revealed Himself by miracle, by inspired teachers, by enjoined ritual. The traditions conflict, yet the longer and more sympathetically we study them the more we become aware of that common element in many of them: the theme of sacrifice, of mystical communion through the shed blood, of death and rebirth, of redemption, is too clear to escape notice. We are fully entitled to use moral and intellectual criticism. What we are not, in my opinion, entitle to do is simply to abstract the ethical element and set that up as a religion on its own. Rather in that tradition which is at once more completely ethical and most transcends mere ethics... we may still most reasonably believe that we have the consummation of all religion, the fullest message from the wholly other, the living creator, who, if He is at all, must be the God not only of the philosophers, but of mystics and savages, not only of the head and heart, but also of the primitive emotions and the spiritual heights beyond all emotion. We may... attach ourselves to the Church, to the only concrete organization which has preserved down to this present time the core of all the messages, pagan and perhaps pre-pagan, that have ever come from beyond the world, and begin to practice the only religion which rests not upon some selection of certain supposedly 'higher' elements in our nature, but on the shattering and rebuilding, the death and rebirth, of that nature in every part: neither Greek nor Jew nor barbarian, but a new creation.
-C.S. Lewis
The Business of Heaven

Sunday, January 18, 2015

January 12, we are the objects of His love

We were made not primarily that we may love God (though we were made for that too) but that God may love us, that we may become objects in which the Divine love may rest 'well pleased'.
-C.S. Lewis
When the human race chose sin we became filthy creatures. Period. In our walk with God I think we, and maybe rightly so, see ourselves at almost all points in the road as filthy creatures who need cleansing, who need correcting, who need healing, who need... to not be filthy. Yes, this is absolute truth, we are filthy creatures. The cleansing blood of Christ is the only reason we are able to come before the Father; not because we have made ourselves clean but because Christ, Jesus has cleansed us.

But we are still here, still living on earth in the flesh, still battling our filth and at least, as far as I'm concerned, still consider ourselves horribly filthy on a daily basis. I'm afraid whenever I start feeling the least bit clean pride begins to creep in and I no longer attribute my cleanliness to the One who cleansed me but to my works. Yuck, that's about as filthy as we can get. "Not by works..." Titus 3:5

And now I do a 180 and say, but God created us so that He may love us. I know He loves me. I know that Christ gave His life up for me. I know that God created me. But I can't say that I often sit and think to myself, "God created me so that He might pour His love upon me." I think Lewis is correct in this statement. I can't come up with any argument against it but I certainly don't sit around thinking along these lines. Wow. How much more would we desire to bless Him if we did sit around and think, "I was created so that He may love me"?

God created you to love. Your weren't an accident. You weren't an experiment. You weren't made by your parents. God made you to be an object of His love; not simply a messenger, not simply someone to adore Him, not simply another gear in the machine, but so that He might love you.

Ah, but now we get to choose whether or not we want His love...
When Christianity says that God loves man, it means that God loves man: not that He has some 'disinterested', because really indifferent, concern for our welfare, but that, in awful and surprising truth, we are the objects of His love. You asked for a loving God: you have one. The great spirit you so lightly invoked, the 'lord of terrible aspect', is present: not a senile benevolence that drowsily wishes you to be happy in your own way, not the cold philanthropy of a conscientious magistrate, nor the care of a host who feels responsible for the comfort of his guests, but the consuming fire Himself, the Love that made the worlds, persistent as the artist's love for his work and despotic as man's love for a dog, provident and venerable as a father's love for a child, jealous, inexorable, exacting as love between the sexes. How this should be, I do know know.... We were made not primarily that we may love God (though we were made for that too) but that God may love us, that we may become objects in which the Divine love may rest 'well pleased'. To ask that God's love should be content with us as we are is to ask that God should cease to be God: because He is what He is, His love must, in the nature of things, be impeded and repelled, by certain stains in our present character, and because He already loves us He must labour to make us lovable. We cannot even wish, in our better moments, that He could reconcile Himself to our present impurities.
-C.S. Lewis
The Business of Heaven

Saturday, January 17, 2015

January 11

Today I will only post the quote. Enjoy.
There is kindness in Love: but Love and kindness are not coterminous, and when kindness... is separated from the other elements of Love, it involves a certain fundamental indifference to its object, and even something like contempt of it. Kindness consents very readily to the removal of it's object - we have all met people whose kindness to animals is constantly leading them to kill animals lest they should suffer. Kindness, merely as such, cares not whether its object becomes good or bad, provided only that it escapes suffering. As Scripture points out, it is bastards who are spoiled: the legitimate sons, who are to carry on the family tradition, are punished. It is for people whom we care nothing about that we demand happiness on any terms: with our friends, our lovers, our children, we are exacting and would rather see them suffer much than be happy in contemptible and estranging modes. If God is Love, He is, by definition something more than mere kindness. And it appears, from all the records, that though He has often rebuked us and condemned us, He has never regarded us with contempt. He has paid us the intolerable compliment of loving us, in the deepest, most tragic, most inexorable sense.
-C.S. Lewis

January 10, My conception of love and hapiness

*I've fallen rather behind, but I'm also in no hurry.
What would really satisfy us would be a God who said of anything we happened to like doing, 'What does it matter so long as they are contented?'
-C.S. Lewis
Don't our children desire most that we "make them happy?" Don't you wish most often of your spouse that he or she would "make you happy?" Aren't we inclined most often to pray to God for happiness sake? Maybe I'm wrong in this but I think it's pretty simple human nature to desire almost above all else, happiness. I don't have any doubt in my mind that God wants us to be happy; surely He desires that we be happy but that certainly isn't His main objective. He desires the best for us. Is being happy at all times and at any cost the best? Nope.

It's okay to not be happy sometimes. When walking through the refiners fire I doubt there's a good deal of happiness welling up inside of the vessel being refined.

I love the end of this quote, "my conception of love needs correction." I'm fully a culprit to this. I'm an enabler. I absolutely desire to make others happy and almost always at my own expense. My conception of love needs correction. Happiness is not the main objective in love. If my 'love' towards another is enabling them happiness but hurting them in some other way I'm not entirely loving them. "My conception of love needs correction." Lord I pray you show me truth.
By the goodness of God we mean nowadays almost exclusively His lovingness; and in this we may be right. And by Love, in this context, most of us mean kindness - the desire to see others than the self happy; not happy in this way or in that, but just happy. What would really satisfy us would be a God who said of anything we happened to like doing, 'What does it matter so long as they are contented?' We want, in fact, not so much a Father in Heaven as a grandfather in heaven - a senile benevolence who, as they say, 'liked to see young people enjoying themselves' and whose plan for the universe was simply that it might be truly said at the end of each day, 'a good time was had by all.' Not many people, I admit, would formulate a theology in precisely those terms: but a conception not very different lurks at the back of many minds. I do not claim to be an exception: I should very much like to love in a universe which was governed on such lines. But since it is abundantly clear that I don't, and since I have reason to believe, nevertheless, that God is Love, I conclude that my conception of love needs correction.
-C.S. Lewis
The Business of Heaven

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

January 9, We are far too easily pleased

The negative idea of Unselfishness carries with it the suggestion not primarily of securing good things for others, but of going without them ourselves, as if our abstinence and not their happiness was the important point.... We are told to deny ourselves and to take up our crosses in order that we may follow Christ; and nearly every description of what we shall ultimately find if we do so contains an appeal to desire.
-C.S. Lewis
I've read a good deal about the green martyrs of Ireland. I have a fascination with ideas of leaving everything to sit in the wilderness. Probably because I'm a bit of an introvert and I love the great outdoors but truly Christianity often times seems that it's all about self-denial. Don't do this and don't do that and don't be this way and don't be that way. If you would make a list of all the things you're supposed to give up... well I won't encourage anyone to do that.

Lewis makes an incredible point in this quote, if you would make a list of all the promises in scripture, shoot just start out with the fruits of the Spirit; sure there are a few self denial type ones but a person living with all the fruits of the spirit would certainly be a very happy individual. God has the absolute best for us, and nothing less. He desires to bless us, to pour upon us His love and His goodness. There can certainly be nothing of what looks like self-denial under a rain shower of that sort. "We are far too easily pleased," there are so many greater things that we don't even desire because we've our eyes set on simpler things, meaningless things, things we think we want or need that in reality are so far below the Lord's plan it's simply absurd, "like a child who wants to go on making mud pies..."

If you had asked twenty good men today what they thought the highest of the virtues, nineteen of them would reply, Unselfishness. But if you had asked almost any of the great Christians of old, he would have replied, Love. You see what has happened? A negative term has been substituted for a positive, an this is of more than philological importance. The negative idea of Unselfishness carries with it the suggestion not primarily of securing good things for others, but of going without them ourselves, as if our abstinence and not their happiness was the important point. I do not think this is the Christian virtue of Love. The New Testament has lots to say about self-denial, but not about self-denial as an end in itself. We are told to deny ourselves and to take up our crosses in order that we may follow Christ; and nearly every description of what we shall ultimately find if we do so contains an appeal to desire. If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith. Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the gospels, it would seem that Our Lord find our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at sea. We are far too easily pleased.
-C.S. Lewis
The Business of Heaven

Sunday, January 11, 2015

January 8, My Alibi

No possible complexity which we can give to our picture of the universe can hide us from God.
-C.S. Lewis
The chores, the lists, the to-dos, the wants, desires, and needs we all have in our every day life pale in comparison to the one thing that matters; when's the last time you drank from the living fountain; when's the last time you sat at the Father's feet; when's the last time you read from the scriptures and listened to the voice of the Holy Spirit illuminating the words from inside of you? I don't nearly often enough take time out to do what truly matters... to meet with our Father.

Lewis says that the first and greatest commandment is to learn to like being emptied, stripped to nothing in the presence of God (in different words). The Bible says that the first and greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your soul, all your spirit, and all your mind. I suppose its easiest to love Him with your all when you're stripped down to nothing. I guess the question is, since there is no hiding from God, do you choose to enter His presence so that you can be emptied, lay your crowns at His feet, and adore Him or not? That's really what it all boils down to.

One of my very favorite songs is by a Swedish band called Blindside. The song is titled "My Alibi." It begins with the lyrics:
My feet felt light for the first time in months
It was like you came walking across the room
Straight at me and then straight through me
And then stopped and stood still for awhile
I knew then that i'd been lonely for quite some time
And as we started to dance you gently took off my tear soaked coat
And let it fall heavy to the floor and then
We danced some more 
When all is said and done
When all is gone and still just begun
I will be asked what i did with my time and why
Can you be my alibi
Cause i know i spent it dancing with you
I can think of no better place to be when standing before the Lord and He begins to take account of what I've done then to be able to say to Him: I spent my time dancing with you. My heart throbs at the thought. Like Paul said, pray without ceasing (I'm pretty sure it was Paul). I've studied out the word "pray" in several locations in scripture and it often means something like, 'to drawn near to' the Lord. Pray without ceasing. Dance with the Holy Spirit/ with Jesus. Let God be your strong tower, hiding place, refuge from the storm (life). Once again I'm preaching to myself almost exclusively but this is my heart's desire. I want to be emptied before the Lord and to love being there.

It is religion itself - prayer and sacrament and repentance and adoration - which is here, in the long run, our sole avenue to the real. Like mathematics, religion can grow from within, or decay. The Jew knows more than the Pagan, the Christian more than the Jew, the modern vaguely religious man less than any of the three. But, like mathematics, it remains simply itself, capable of being applied to any new theory of the material universe and outmoded by none. 
When any man comes into the presence of God he will find, whether he wishes it or not, that all those things which seemed to make him so different from the men of other times, or even from his earlier self, have fallen off him. He is back where he always was, where every man always is.... No possible complexity which we can give to our picture of the universe can hide us from God; there is no copse, no forest, no jungle thick enough to provide cover.... In the twinkling of an eye, in a time too small to be measured, and in any place, all that seems to divide us from God can flee away, vanish, leaving us naked before Him, like the first man, like the only man, as if nothing but He and I existed. And since that contact cannot be avoided for long and since it means either bliss or horror, the business of life is to learn to like it. That is the first and greatest commandment.
-C.S. Lewis
The Business of Heaven

January 7, Nature

At present we are on the outside of the world, the wrong side of the door. We discern the freshness and purity of the morning but they do not make us fresh and pure. We cannot mingle with all the splendours we see. But all the leaves of the New Testament are rustling with the rumour that it will not always be so. Some day, God willing, we shall get in. When human souls have become as perfect in voluntary obedience as the inanimate creation is in its lifeless obedience, then they will put on its glory, or rather the greater glory of which Nature is only the first sketch. For you must not think that I am putting forward any heathen fancy of being absorbed into Nature. Nature is moral; we shall outlive her. When all the suns and nebulae have passed away, each one of you will still be alive. Nature is only the image, the symbol; but it is the symbol scripture invites me to use. We are summoned to pass in through Nature, beyond her, into that splendour which she fitfully reflects.
-C.S. Lewis
The Business of Heaven
Some of the most fabulous photography consists of unedited, unaltered, wilderness landscapes left alone by man. Just looking at such works of art captured on film moves something inside of us to feel completely in awe. We think to ourselves, "I need to go there." Even in the modern age of vast technological advances and sprawled out urban cities many a man feels the need to escape to the wilderness now and again, just to sit, just to be surrounded by it's serenity, peace, and beauty. To feel alive again. Writers from all times have gone on and on about "the wilderness," about "nature." There's something special out of doors, something I can't even begin to do justice to by assigning it words. I know exactly what C.S. Lewis is saying here, or rather my soul knows. I can feel the words resonating in my bones. Nature is a reflection of God's splendor; you can feel an inkling of His greatness when surrounded by her.

No doubt,"We are summoned to pass in through Nature, beyond her, into that splendour which she fitfully reflects," and I am giddy about it. Life in the spiritual realm where the reality which nature only reflects must be unfathomable. I will find a good bit of happiness however, right here and now, gazing at trees and clouds and beaches of sand being washed over by enormous waves... His blessings abound.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

January 6, But it is also a supreme burden

The people who are selected are, in a sense, unfairly selected for a supreme honour; but it is also a supreme burden. The People of Israel come to realize that it is their woes which are saving the world.
-C.S. Lewis
We aren't alike really. I can only ever be me and you can only ever be you. The path that God has placed before us is ours alone. Your path is as unique and special as you are but we get to choose whether or not we will walk the length of it (praise the lord for sign posts, eh). I often imagine though if you abandon your path, not the easiest road, not the most intriguing, but almost certainly the most difficult road, God won't stop the work He's doing. No way. I imagine He will pick a lesser person, someone who thinks very little of themselves to fulfill His plan, a plan you decided not to bother with. I don't think you'll necessarily not make it to your intended destination, that's the funny thing about free will, we get to choose detours and mess with the Lord's plan but He'll likely still let us make it home thanks to Jesus alone. Only we might not have done all that He'd hoped for us here.

What if Saul hadn't converted? Would we not have had the bulk of the New Testament? I think rather we'd have had the bulk of the New Testament written slightly different by someone with another name. What if Moses had said no... well, he kind of did. God was pretty secure in his choice for that journey. Would we not have had the 10 commandments and the parting of the red sea and the freeing of Israel? No. Aaron probably would have led them home and we would have never heard the story of the baby in the bulrushes. We would have heard Aaron's story instead. But thank the Lord that Saul/ Paul followed the path that God laid out before him. Thank the Lord that Moses finally agreed. Thank the Lord for His plan for your life (yes I'm preaching to myself right now) and Go! Stop and stare at the sign posts and then keep on following them home. The journey along the way is, I dare say, almost as important as the destination. I'd rather not make it home and have our Father say, "why didn't you stick to my plan? it was the perfect one, you know, even if it appeared the most difficult." Yikes.
We, with our modern democratic and arithmetical presuppositions would so have liked and expected all men to start equal in their search for God. One has the picture of great centripetal road coming from all directions, with well-disposed people, all meaning the same thing, and getting closer and closer together. How shockingly opposite to that is the Christian story! One people picked out of the whole earth; that people purged an proved again and again. Some are lost in the desert before they reach Palestine; some stay in Babylon; some becoming indifferent. The whole thing narrows and narrows, until at last it comes down to a little point, small as the point of a spear - a Jewish girl at her prayers. That is what the whole of human nature has narrowed down to before the Incarnation takes place. Very unlike what we expected, but, of course, not in the least unlike what seems, in general, as shown by Nature, to be God's way of working.... The people who are selected are, in a sense, unfairly selected for a supreme honour; but it is also a supreme burden. The People of Israel come to realize that it is their woes which are saving the world.
-C.S. Lewis
The Business of Heaven

Friday, January 9, 2015

January 5, we shall not stop and stare

When we are lost in the woods the sight of a sign post is a great matter. He who first sees it cries, "Look!" The whole party gathers round it and stares. But when we have found the road and are passing sign posts every few miles we shall not stop and stare. They will encourage us and we shall be grateful to the authority that set them up. But we shall not stop and stare or not much; not on this road, though their pillars are of silver and their lettering of gold. 'We would be at Jerusalem.'
-C.S. Lewis
The Business of Heaven
Oh how I wish that we all would stop and stare. Can you imagine the lost party looking for the way when suddenly they see the sign post? This vision brings me delight. How thrilling to have finally found the way. "We're not lost anymore!" And while I do understand that once you've found the way and I imagine you're concentrating on getting home the additional sign posts would lose the thrill that the first one brought, one of my hopes in life is that I would still notice all the sign posts and that I would still delight in them; that I would stop and stare. If we all noticed the lovely bits of the road more often; if we all saw the sign posts and said "Yes! I am on the right path still!"; if we all took delight in the little bits of the journey wouldn't the journey be so much more joyful? Please do stop and stare; slow your hurried pace, sit a minute, and be in awe.

Monday, January 5, 2015

January 4, Joy is the serious business of heaven

I was just reading Ecclesiastes the other night. It's such a sombre book, depressing in a way. "Vanity, vanity, all is vanity." This doesn't matter, and that doesn't matter, and everything you concentrate on and work after and put your mind to is just a big fat waste of time. I get it but it sure can be a downer.

I like the way C.S. Lewis says it better but he really is saying the same thing. All of the 'work, and toil, and anxieties' down here surely don't reflect the business of heaven. "Joy is the serious business of heaven." God is in control. God is the Creator, the Protector, the Provider; we really haven't any good reason for all this stress. In heaven I imagine we'd be wrapped up in sheer delight at His presence and absolute joy in life without sin.

I set out to make this a month of simplicity and clarity. And I love how the writings of Lewis are encouraging the plan. Simple, quite, focused, and yes joyful rest, this is heavenly. We are most alive in God's presence when we've separated ourselves from "our" work and are simply and perfectly in Him.

While we are in this 'valley of tears,' cursed  with labour, hemmed round with necessities, tripped up with frustrations, doomed to perpetual plannings, puzzlings, and anxieties, certain qualities that must belong to the celestial condition have no chance to get through, can project no image of themselves, except in activities which, for us here and now, are frivolous. For surely we must suppose the life of the blessed to be an end in itself, indeed The End: to be utterly spontaneous; to be the complete reconciliation of boundless freedom with order- with the most delicately adjusted, supple, intricate, and beautiful order? How can you find any image of this in the 'serious' activities either of our natural or of our (present) spiritual life? Either in our precarious and heartbroken affections or in the Way which is always, in some degree, a via crucis? No.... It is only in our "hours off," only in our moments of permitted festivity, that we find an analogy. Dance and game are frivolous, unimportant down here; for 'down here' is not their natural place. Here they are moment's rest from the life we were placed here to live. But in this world everything is upside down. That which, if it could be prolonged here, would be truancy, it is likest that which in a better country is the End of ends. Joy is the serious business of Heaven.
-C.S. Lewis
The Business of Heaven

Saturday, January 3, 2015

January 3, Home

Our Father refreshes us on the journey with some pleasant inns, but will not encourage us to mistake them for home.
-C.S. Lewis
There is beauty amongst the ashes. There are roses amongst the thorns. As long as you take time to look God has strewn our paths, however difficult or overwhelming they might be with bits of happiness, joy, and loveliness. We aren't home. Home lies at the end of this journey but He is here and as long as we look to Him through it all, here can be a very lovely inn for keeping us warm for the stay.

The Bible says that we should store up treasures in heaven, not earthly treasures. I think that the saying "home is where the heart is" (although meaning something very different originally) is just another way of saying this very thing. None of us are truly content because this isn't home. If we were content here then what would be keeping our eyes on the prize? The little joys, happy moments, absolute astonishingly beautiful things aren't meant to satisfy us but to draw us closer to the Creator. It's all His doing, all His blessing; it all comes from above, from home.
The settled happiness and security which we all desire, God withholds from us by the very nature of the world: but joy, pleasure, and merriment, He has scattered broadcast. We are never safe, but we have plenty of fun, and some ecstasy. It is not hard to see why. The security we crave would teach us to rest our hearts in this world and oppose an obstacle to our return to God: a few moments of happy love, a landscape, a symphony, a merry meeting with our friends, a bathe or football match, have no such tendency. Our Father refreshes us on the journey with some pleasant inns, but will not encourage us to mistake them for home.
-C.S. Lewis
The Business of Heaven

Friday, January 2, 2015

January 2, coming in out of the wind

It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird; it would be jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining in the egg. We are like eggs at present.
-C.S. Lewis
Last night I decided to start writing my second book. I never finished the first one. It started to lay itself out right before my eyes. "Perfect! This will be perfect!" What better time to start writing a book then January 1st? I began right away. I thought I could easily spend 30 to 45 minutes a day writing and editing and by the end of the year at least I'd have a masterpiece. "I'll finish this one for sure!"

Only after my grand plan was laid out did I have a tiny inkling of hesitation. Something inside of me was saying that this was not the time and that I should stop almost before I had even begun. I knew the something all to well. It didn't sound like fear or feelings of inadequacy. I was almost certain it was the Lord saying, "now is not the time." When you hear such words you have two choices before you. 1.) You can say, "no this is just fear telling me to stop. this is just my inability to complete anything rearing it's ugly head at onset. this is just me quitting before the start. I shall go on." or 2.) You can say, "yes Lord. I hear You." and then obey.

This morning as I read through today's C.S. Lewis excerpt in "The Business of Heaven" I could not help but smile and laugh and find complete reassurance that yes, it was Him speaking to me. I shall proceed with the original plan for this first month of 2015: simplicity. Beginning to write a book doesn't exactly fall into the parameters of simplicity. Uh huh, I will come in out of the wind. "Yes Lord. I hear You."
The real problem of the Christian life comes where people do not usually look for it. It comes the very moment you wake up each morning. All your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists simply in shoving them all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in. And so on, all day. Standing back from all your natural fussings and frettings; coming in out of the wind. 
We can only do it for moments at first. But from those moments the new sort of life will be spreading through our system: because now we are letting Him work at the right part of us. It is the difference between paint, which is merely laid on the new face, and a dye or stain which soaks right through. He never talked vague, idealistic gas. When He said, 'Be perfect,' He meant it. He meant that we must go in for the full treatment. It is hard; but the sort of compromise we are all hankering after is harder- in fact, it is impossible. It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird; it would be jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining in the egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.
-C.S. Lewis
The Business of Heaven

Thursday, January 1, 2015

January 1, it is when we notice the dirt that God is most present in us

No amount of falls will really undo us if we keep on picking ourselves up each time.
-C.S. Lewis
What an encouraging word to begin the new year with. I begin today with a new picking up of myself, dirt and dust and broken bits included. The fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. My daily walk is one of attempting to remember to seek God first and hoping to grow these fruits. Often times I feel completely barren, much like the fig tree that Jesus withered (oh what a dreadful thought). Thank the Lord that Jesus didn't come to earth to wither us but to sanctify us, bring us into right relationship with God, and grow the fruits in us that we on our own completely lack. Praise God that no matter how many times I fall He keeps picking me back up.

"It is when we notice the dirt that God is most present in us." Anger, laziness, gluttony, lack of self control, and a hint of bitterness; I'm very aware of a good deal of dirt within this jar of clay and I'm all the more thankful for the Lord's grace and mercy as the dirty spots come into light. Today is a new day.
I know all about the despair of overcoming chronic temptations. It is not serious, provided self-offended petulance, annoyance at breaking records, impatience, ect. don't get the upper hand. No amount of falls will really undo us if we keep on picking ourselves up each time. We shall of course be very muddy and tattered children by the time we reach home. but the bathrooms are all ready, the towels put out, and the clean clothes in the airing cupboard. The only fatal thing is to lose one's temper and give it up. It is when we notice the dirt that God is most present in us; it is the very sign of His presence.
C.S. Lewis
-The Business of Heaven

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Day 350, Three Years Later

My little sister has just blessed my socks off. That's a strange expression I've heard at church one too many times considering that I've just repeated it no matter how silly it sounds even to me. She's just returned home from a mission trip to Guatemala. Normally we send out support letters and the trips are paid for in full by supporters. I've gone on four trips with groups from my church that completely changed my life. I can honestly say that I wouldn't have been able to go on any of them if I had to pay for the trips on my own. For this trip my sister received very little financial support and paid most of the costs herself. I commend her for this because she does not have a lot of money and she willingly used much of her savings to go and work her butt off in the mountains of Guatemala for a week. She also chose to go with a group of total strangers from a church on the other side of the state as there were no teams from around here going right now. She believed that this was God's timing and that she was supposed to go now. Her trip was great and she is grateful that she followed her heart/ the Lord's leading. I cannot commend her enough for doing so.

Today I return to "Doors of Change: to have or to be" three years later to blog about not something I am but about something I have. I spent an entire year of my life writing and thinking about "being" as opposed to having. But today I have something that I am trying to not let go of, something that I'm hoping will cause me to be. (that paragraph was a fun read, eh?)

Starr has revived something in me like those shocky paddle things for a heart attack victim that I was slowly losing sight of. Thank-you little sister for following the Lord's leading. I don't think dreams often just die with a bang. I think they usually fade out of sight and then get lost forever. Sadly mine have been fading and then I search them out again, fading and then, "oh, there you are little bugger," fading and then... I'm not letting them go gosh darn it! If you've read from me for very long then you know I long to be a good mom, to adopt someday, to serve the Lord/ follow His plans for my life, and my heart resides in Guatemala.

I've wanted to adopt/ take care of children who've been orphaned for as far back as I can remember. The first year that I went to Guatemala I was changed. I became an entirely new person with new eyes and a new heart. The second year fell deeply in love with the country and with the people there. The third time I went I longed with every fiber of my being to adopt an orphaned child from that country. Eight years ago (wow, that was a long time) I sat in a church service never even thinking once about going on a mission trip. My one heart's desire was to be a mom. I wanted a child to care for. A video played at the front of the sanctuary. It spoke of orphans and widows, building homes, and feeding hungry children. At the end of the video I heard as clear as day spoken to my heart, "Go. Be a mom." I stood up, walked to the foyer, and wrote my name on the list for the mission trip. There was NO doubt in my mind that God wanted me to go to Guatemala and love the children there. He told me to go. We were supposed to go to an orphanage, according to the video but we never did. In fact we spent a ton of time playing with the children at the feeding programs and at the build sights, falling in love with them, and trying to share God's love with them but I always wondered a tiny bit about the word I heard, "be a mom."

I don't know if adoptions from Guatemala are still closed. Last time I was there they had recently been closed. I do however today, stronger than ever believe that it is God's plan for my and my husband's lives to adopt a child and I would be without faith if I left out "from Guatemala." I have a vision. I don't know when it will come to fruition. I did almost let it go. Right now my husband isn't super keen on adopting. Right now he has ZERO desire to ever visit Guatemala. Right now we don't have the financial means to accomplish anything out of the ordinary. But I have a vision. I do believe that one day my husband, myself, and my son will be together in Guatemala and we will bring back an orphan. I must believe this vision was given to me with purpose, that it is in the Lord's timeline to see this come to pass someday. I must stand on that. I had started to waver. I had started to think I would never return to that country (you do not know the ache in my heart that comes from this thought). I had started to consider maybe adopting from wherever. But I believe my child will be born in Guatemala.

I've seen lately, so many people abandon their dreams, let go, and chose alternate paths that just seem easier. I can't make anything happen right now but I'm not letting go. I need to take steps in the right direction (PRAY much MUCH more) and hold on to my vision. It's mine. I have it. I'm not letting go.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Day 349, I am More the More I Have

I shan't pretend that I can maintain two blogs BUT in an effort to regain some semblance of a normal life I've begun another read through "To have or to be?" I can't remember the last time I picked up a book. Oh, how I do love this one. I've read through only 4 pages and I think I've two pages of notes already. Ahh, literature, I feel a bit like a human again.

Every time I read this book I feel as though it's the first time. The words on each page jump out at me with new insight; new thought provoking delicacy. I'm pondering at present the discussion within the first four pages of pleasure. Epicurus believed that pleasure is the highest goal of life. BUT pleasure by his definition "equals the absence of pain and the stillness of the soul." To him and most others before the 17th century the factual existence of a desire did NOT constitute an ethical norm. In other words just because you desire to steal, for example, does not mean you should.

The 17th and 18th century philosophers differed greatly and believed that the aim of life was the fulfillment of EVERY desire. Thus negative driving forces were ok because as long as one felt that drive it was ok to fulfill it, and possibly encouraged that he should. After all, the aim of life is fulfillment of that/those desire(s).

I am in love with the phrase used to describe Epicurus' pleasure: the stillness of the soul. Just reading those words is comforting to me. I believe it's why minimalists seek refuge in less. There is such a sweet calm in uncluttered surroundings. I believe it's why we still escape to wilderness places to clear our minds. I believe it's why yoga and meditation are so craved. It's what makes jazz beautiful. It's why gazing at the stars is so soothing. It's why silence is golden. "The stillness of the soul" is SO pleasurable. There is truly stillness in simplicity, in less.

And one must acknowledge that acquiring every want does not grant this stillness. I'd argue to the contrary that acquiring more and more and more causes chaos in life. Especially if the desires you're fulfilling are harmful to yourself. MANY desires are harmful. But that is the argument of today. It seems to me that, and especially in the political arena, we're fighting with each other over which desires are just. Epicurus would say ones that bring about peace/ stillness are just. Modern society seems to differ. I feel the world in which I'm living believes that more often than not a desire deserves to be sought after. "I am more the more I have!"

I find a delight in pondering the opposite. Am I more when I have less, when I'm free to embrace the stillness of the soul?

Friday, January 14, 2011

Progress, Day 348

I've been focusing so hard core on not spending money, on budgeting, on trying to pay things off, on planning ahead; I have hardly been able to think about anything else. It's exhausting and at the same time exciting.

I'm beyond words thankful for this blog, for the change it's created in me, and for this next step towards freedom that I'm now able to take due to the growth that has come out of it. I would NEVER have been to stick to a super tight budget if it weren't for the last year. I know... I tried... I failed NUMEROUS times.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

"$12 a Day", Day 347

I'm stepping it up. In 2010 I purchased 57 things. Honestly I think that's amazing. I think that although I would have liked to do better that's a ridiculously low amount of stuff. I did struggle tremendously however with spending a lot of money on food and food and food.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Victory, Day 346

I genuinely do not want to buy stuff. 1 entire year of resistance and self discipline is over and I haven't one single urge to purchase one single thing.


This is my list for 2010 purchases:
Every single thing I bought (groceries aside)
1. Socks for Husband 1.28
2. Work pants and Blue jeans 2.4
3. B-day Balloons (for Annabelle) 2.6
4. stretchy pants 2.27
5. Weatherstripping (for my front window with lead all over it that my cat insists on sitting next to) 3.9
6. "The Rendition" CD at show 3.12
7. socks (finally) 3.31
8. Batman (easter gift for Husband) 4.3
9. Baby shower gifts 4.3
10. Tank Top ($4) 4.19
11. T-shirt 4.19
12. Shorts 4.19
13. thru 19. Husband's Birthday 4.20
20. thru 22. Headbands and hair clips (totally unnecessary) 4.24
23. Nylabones for the doggies
24. Pig pez dispenser for Starr
25 thru 27. Guatemala bag, bookmark and coin purse 6.17
28. Flatfoot 56 t-shirt 7.1
29. Shower Curtain 7.4
30. Shower mat (it was a necessity) 7.4
31. Coloring book for Lucy 7.10
32. A picture frame (for a Christmas gift) 7.16
33. A new work shirt 7.26
34. shower curtain rod holder($1.19) 8.15
35. Greeting cards at Craft show 8.21
36. Canon 450D EOS Rebel xsi 8.20
37. New work pants (again) 8.29
38. Nylons : ( 9.3
39. Blue Jeans 10.19
40. socks (1 really cool wintery pair) 10.21
41. a cami 10.21
42. tiny nail scissors (my nail practically ripped off) 11.04
43. Guat Photographs 11.19
44. stickers 12.8
45. Necklace 12.9
46. Little pewter figurines (etsy) 12.21
47. thru 57. Christmas 12.22

Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year New Blog, Day 344

Blogging virtually every day this year has been incredible. I've learned a lot about myself. I've changed in very positive ways. I've grown.

I appreciate beyond words those few individuals who've faithfully read each posting. Seeing that people do care, that people are interested makes me feel like I'm not living in a box talking to a wall (which sometimes feels like a reality, I believe in everyone's life).

thank-you for reading.


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Need, Day 343

I've been thinking lately about Need. (I have a feeling that I posted a very similar blog previously this year but I haven't the energy to search for it at present)

Essentially all we need is food, water, clothing (to protect against the elements), and shelter. But we believe so very differently. A very impoverished person, hungry and homeless on a stormy night would mostly have no other need than that of food and shelter. That individual would most likely not be concentrating on ideas of new shoes or luxurious foods like chocolate and sodas. The person accustomed to hunger and homelessness would be needing simply those things which he or she needs.

An individual who's used to consuming meager meals, but meals enough to satisfy their hunger; who lives in a ratty little building wouldn't be NEEDING food or shelter but that individual may feel they need new shoes, or better food, or more food, or better shelter.

An individual with access to any food they may want, with a luxurious home and everything imaginable (at least imaginable to the above mentioned first and second individuals) may still possibly need something. Maybe this individual is plagued by thoughts during every waking hour of their need for a new couch or a better television. Maybe this individual needs a new outfit in order to maintain sanity.

Is their an unwritten yet predetermined measurement for need existing somewhere? Does the second individual NEED better shelter? Does the third individual NEED a new couch? I don't think so. But if they think so does it become fact? Do each of us need only what we believe is necessity?

I think the world would have us believe so. As long as the truly impoverished people aren't knowingly dieing en mass then it's OK to focus on the hardly impoverished people closer to home. And if the hardly impoverished people closer to home are surviving OK then it's OK to focus on ourselves and our "needs."

But I don't think we have any need whatsoever that trumps the true needs out there. My husband did not need the PS3 Move which he truly believes he'd be unable to live without. The people in this world without food and without clean water they do need those necessities.

I don't want to circle back to shame here. I don't want to belittle the lives of others. I don't want to forget about the blessings that God has showered upon me and you and so forth. But I don't want to be foolish and ignorant and worse yet cold hearted (just pretending its not there because I can't see it).

Sick, Day 342

I've been negligent with blogging over the past few days. I've also been VERY sick and the computer has been utterly repulsive to me.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Jesse, Day 341

I love this man soooo much. He's one of the wonderful things about life, 
one of the many things I am thankful for.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Day 340

Well I'm up to 57 purchases now. Oh well. And Christmas is driving me CRAZY!!! I'm way WAY WAY to much of a procrastinator!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

2010 Purchases, Day 339

I'm up to 54 purchases for the year. That's 54 non food things that I've acquired... although the vast majority of those items were gifts for others (22 of them actually). If I can get through Christmas and the next two weeks with making only 2 more purchases that'll put me at an average of 1 thing a week.

Honestly, to me that sounds like a ridiculous amount of stuff. I'd planned to buy as little as possible but one item a week, 56 things this year, well that seems like a lot. The crazy thing is that I've avoided literally a countless number of purchases. My consuming life has dramatically changed since I began this blog. Clearance items used to be unavoidable for me. I'd bring home several different things each week. And trinkets, I don't even want to get started on trinkets. I used to buy little things for people regularly. At first it was virtually impossible to pull myself from sales that now I can walk past without even flinching.

54 items bought, 22 gifted, and not even one pair of new shoes; I'd say that I've been quite successful this year in terms not buying things. Yay! I wish there was a way to calculate all the money I've saved.

Hello Winter, Day 338

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Day 337

I'm trying to just relax and breath. Today I was overcome by all of my surroundings. As I drove to work the trees, cows... everything was amazing. I couldn't help thinking as I passed by hundreds and hundreds of naked trees how each one of them had survived so many winters, so many storms, they've each lived this long at least. Every single leafless branch from the largest to the tiniest twig had to have started out at one point as a simple little bud. The world is miraculous.

Every time that I started to feel emotionally overwhelmed today for whatever reason be it deep rooted wounds, foolish procrastination, obligation poking away at me, whatever; I decided to breath deep and let it go. Today life was ready to be lived and I was in no mood to let stupid nonsense stop me.

Well, thats my story.

Monday, December 20, 2010

A Prayer, Day 336

I lay my crowns at Your feet along side my brokenness. I trust that as You see me righteous and pure I too will soon be able to see. I lay aside my fear, anxiety, doubt, false truths and pride. I choose to cease waging war with myself. I've been bloodied and bruised for long enough. As I step forward and breath in deep a breath of appreciation and thanksgiving for the life that's been offered to me I choose the path which is most inviting to my feet. A path strewn with light and beauty. A path that leads to you only. Heavenly Father I look forward to being made new and to laying down my life so that I can know the truth. I realize now that every last bit of me, all of which I place at your feet is tattered and torn and in serious need of mending. I realize now that you've never asked me to let go of me but you've only ever offered to make me complete. Thank you for life.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

One of those, ahhhh moments, Day 335

Torches together. Let us burn brighter. Maybe in living, in growing, increasing, in being we might inspire, impact, fuel a fire that lights the world. Thankfulness could be the impact I make. Shining light on the beauty that so often goes unseen could be a very important part of living. After all what is an artist but one who shows and shares and ideally shines an interesting type light in this world. That's like a breath of clean air or a cool refreshing drink. It might just be ok for me to just be me... no what do you want to be's... I'm just gonna be me.

Yay for living!

Purpose part 2, Day 334

This entire first paragraph is a link to a blog I wrote earlier. That blog is basically the beginning to this blog if you feel inclined to read it. So this overwhelming emotional cloud of unknowing, maybe a cloud of doubt has been hovering over me. The question raining down from it's presence is one of destiny/ purpose. What's the point? I'm guessing that the clouds main purpose is to keep me from getting out of the matrix but none the less it's there. I can give the cookie cutter Christian answer to that question and I honestly believe it to be true. The point is to fall more in love with God, draw nearer to Him, hear Him more clearly; the purpose is to live for Him.

Most people's purpose is directed towards something more tangible. People find purpose in their careers, in their families and significant others. Well my job is dumb and I don't have kids and my husband and I have very strong identities of our own and although I am genuinely only half a person without him he's not my purpose in life and I'm not his. I can capture all the neat photographs imaginable. I can clean my house until the cows come home. I can be a hard diligent worker and I could possibly even pay off all my debt and get my life all in order but what's the purpose? 

After spending a year focused on "being" focused on not "having" I'm finding it difficult to even rationalize that one should "have" a purpose (even though the cloud of questioning refuses to budge). Does there always need to be a goal? Should conquest and victory and accomplishment play such huge roles in our lives? Isn't it ok to love life for what it is? Isn't it ok to exist to exist (that sounds dumb, but I mean it); to love, to appreciate, to see beauty and be moved by it, to be? Something within me says "no, it's not ok. You must strive for..." But you know what, I don't want to strive for... anymore. I LOVE the idea of living free from want, free from finish lines and on your mark get set... I love the idea of life being the point. 

And the inward battle continues. I believe that I should be ridiculously thankful for the air I breath, for the health in my body, for the overwhelming shower of blessings that rain down upon my life, for the family and loved ones that surround me... there should be NOTHING to strive for, to NEED... there shouldn't be a purpose. Okay, that sounds like a cop out. What I'm trying to say is that life is wonderful. This world is beyond amazing. There aren't words to describe it's beauty. One could spend every single moment of an entire lifetime simply appreciating this place. The people spanning the globe are incredible awesome little glimpses of our Creator and they're each so unique and wonderful. Why do we need more? That's my question. 

What is this inward itch that's pushing me to conquer; something, anything, it doesn't even matter what it is, my mind just tells me that I need to make an impact? But I want to be impacted. 

Here's the thing: I've identified that I believe inwardly and emphatically that I am a failure. I can work it over and over again in my head but my heart knows this (false) truth. When I type the above announcement, "I am a failure," when I say it my heart cries out a shout of relief. In the same moment is beats a schizophrenic rhythm of comfort from having been given the opportunity to release what's been held within for so very long and sadness from knowing the truth, the absoluteness, the certainty of failure. 

I'm guessing that my NEED to accomplish, to go out there and slay a dragon, my NEED to HAVE a purpose is in direct correlation to my belief that I am a failure. If I can overcome the (false) truth; if I can accomplish and conquer and be victorious THEN the I'm free. But that's stupid. I'm already free. I already know (in my head) that I'm not a failure. This thing called life is so messy and this is getting really long again.

The point is to follow Christ. I can think of no alternate purpose and thus I shall pray for sunshine and watch as the cloud of unknowing dissolves. Live. Love. Experience beauty. The truth: life is too precious to waste on false truths, insecurity, and chasing after the wind.  

Choose Life, 333

For what great nation is there that has God so near to it, as the LORD our God is to us, for whatever reason we may call upon Him? Only take heed to yourself, and diligently keep yourself, lest you forget the things your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. And teach them to your children and your grandchildren. I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; Set your hearts on all the words which I testify among you today, which you shall command your children to be careful to observe—all the words of this law. For it is not a futile thing for you, because it is your life, and by this word you shall prolong your days in the land which you cross over the Jordan to possess. Duet 4:7,9 30:19 32:46-47

God didn't want His children to stray from Him, from His Word (which is Life), from His path. Most of the Old Testament consists of God instructing His people how to LIVE and beseeching them to not stray from the path. Interestingly enough many and most of us are or have been perplexed by God's instructing the Israelites to annihilate every living creature they came upon in the land He was bringing them into. Today I see it a bit differently. God was instructing His children to destroy the lies, to destroy the falsity, to annihilate a plague that would destroy them (and that did destroy them) if they let it exist. 

We can listen to people, observe with our own eyes the supposed truth, and believe the false reality that's been woven into ourselves or we can listen to God and see the truth through spiritual eyes, through eyes of faith. All of the sudden I feel like the majority of the old testament was saying exactly what I've been seeing as of late. The impact this world has upon us is so harsh that God called it death. He instructed His children to eliminate the picture of false truth that was nothing but a curse to them. He was constantly beseeching them to not let society rule their lives. He taught them of life; He set the truth before them and asked that they gird themselves in it and pass it on to other generations the same way the Mayans have passed on their tribal clothing for centuries. God was begging them to not give in to the man made reality that we so often dwell in and He so very clearly explained that doing so would be the end of them (and it was). 

This still reigns just as true today. Although Christ has covered our mistakes and redeemed us from our foolishness we're asked to follow the straight and narrow, to carry our cross, to choose life and truth and follow Christ. I think following Christ is exactly the same thing as when God said to the Israelites, "Set your hearts on all the words which I testify among you today, which you shall command your children to be careful to observe," and so on and so forth. We aren't to follow this society which surrounds us. We're to "hate/ love less" those things (and people) which we cling to as truth. The only truth is in God, in His word. Get out of the matrix. Cling to what is true; Discover what is true. 

Or you can exist within the matrix if you want to. That's your choice. Even God said so very clearly that He's given us that choice. Do what you will. I'm clinging to what "I know," to what's comfortable (in my mind), to what experience has taught me BUT I am realizing that truth is separate from what I know. Life is far beyond what I've been living. 

Oh, my goodness, I'm a rambling fool this morning.