Monthly Archives: July 2015
One of the more difficult commands of Christ for his followers to get their heads around is Luke 6:27-29, “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either.”
Christ could not have meant what he said. At the very least, I don’t understand what he means. What if someone is threatening to harm my family or another innocent bystander? Am I to conclude their harm is God’s will? And what about the age-old dilemma of war? Continue reading
It’s not uncommon for me to be in a conversation with someone with a different belief system. Sometimes it’s just one person, sometimes it’s a classroom of people. When the conversation turns theological or philosophical, I take for granted we won’t start out at the same place.
I’m not bothered by such disagreements. I find them interesting. “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17). But what can be exasperating is their attempt to stay “above the fray.” Not only do they not believe what I believe, they don’t want to commit to believing anything. There was a day when such folks would be called naysayers: people who are skeptical or cynical without offering alternatives. Continue reading
A well-known cliché among both Christians and non-Christians is, “Love the sinner but hate the sin.” It’s easy to see why it’s well-known. It nicely seeks to separate the person (whom I should love) from the deed (which I should hate).
But as with most clichés, it poses challenges. How do we lock up a deed without incarcerating the individual? Drunkenness in the abstract doesn’t cause accidents. Drunk drivers do. But when the drunk driver is your parent, spouse, sibling, or child, you find yourself back on the horns of the dilemma. How do I love the sinner and hate the sin? Continue reading
Years ago a Christian magazine surveyed its readers by asking about the greatest challenge to their spiritual growth. In order of importance they listed:
- Anger/Bitterness (tied).
- Sexual lust
In one of his most popular books, The Screwtape Letters, C. S. Lewis lets the reader eavesdrop on correspondence between a senior and junior devil on the art of temptation. The temptations suggested by the older and more experienced devil are not blatant. One does not want to run the risk of offending and scaring off the “patient.” Screwtape instead suggests more subtle forms of misusing sex and love and indulging in pride, gluttony, and war. Every reader is somewhere in this book. Continue reading
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t hate them. I don’t even dislike them. You wouldn’t either if you got to know them. They are much like you. They have parents, siblings, and children. Many even have a dog. If you struck up a conversation with them in a line, you would be impressed with their education, attire, and sense of humor. After he places his order you might even say, “I’ll have the same.” They are very nice people. But they do very evil things.
C. S. Lewis’ book, The Screwtape Letters comprises 31 letters written by a senior demon named Screwtape to his nephew, Wormwood, a younger and less experienced demon, charged with guiding a man (called “the patient”) toward “Our Father Below” (Satan) from “the Enemy” (God). In the Preface to the 1961 edition, Lewis explains why he uses a business model as a backdrop for the forces of evil, Continue reading
C. S. Lewis’s mother, Flora, began to suffer with cancer in February 1908. Among the nurses who attended the family was A. M. Davison, known to the family as “Nurse Davison.” She was present when Flora passed away on August 23, 1908, and remained a friend of the family for many years.
On September 29, 1929, C. S. Lewis responds to a letter he received from Ms. Davison. Many years passed between them but now, September 25, Lewis’s father, Albert, has passed away. The nurse sends her condolences and wonders if one of her little charges still remembers her. Lewis writes, Continue reading
You don’t have to be a pastor long to realize the front door is something of a swinging door. People come and go for various reasons. For some longtime attendees, a time may come to move on to something different. Visitors attend churches knowing what they want and need: something for the children, something for their marriage, someone to marry. And there is always the permanent resident in any church, “Mr. Offended.” He’s caused more churched people to look for a new church than anyone. Continue reading
Unless you’ve been involved in putting together a worship service, you don’t know how challenging it is. What must be a part of the service? What do you want as part of the service? What do others think must be a part of a worship service?
Should there be singing? How much? Should there be a time opened for people to share? How much time? Should there be time for private prayer and/or corporate prayer? How much time? What about announcements? Greeting visitors? And the question that haunts the hallways of every church, how much time for the sermon? Continue reading
You might not want to try this experiment simply because the feeling it produces is not pleasant (and we try to avoid unpleasant feelings). The next time you want to use your feelings as an excuse, try using the same excuse in a different context.
For instance, instead of “I don’t feel like helping,” think, “I don’t feel like going to work.” Instead of “I don’t feel like getting up,” think, “I wonder what it feels like to be out of a job.” And instead of thinking “I don’t feel I love you,” think, “What’s that supposed to mean?” Continue reading