Monthly Archives: September 2015
I’ve heard a number of people say it. “I’ve been rich and I’ve been poor. Rich is better.” Makes sense. It’s challenging to argue the privilege of poverty. And as many have pointed out, money is not the root of all evil, the text says “the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs” (1 Timothy 6:10).
Another challenge related to money is when someone in need receives from someone who can help. It can be embarrassing. It gives a new appreciation of Jesus’s words, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).
On August 5, 1956, C. S. Lewis responded to a letter from Mary Willis Shelburne in which Ms. Shelburne admitted to some embarrassment for having received money from friends. Lewis understood the delicacy of the experience but reasoned to a different conclusion, Continue reading
I read a piece recently in which the author suggested that the best thing to do to improve one’s prayer life is to simply pray when you get the urge. His suggestion is both simple and profound.
He points out how often one gets such an urge: when speaking to a struggling friend, when about to go to sleep with one’s spouse, during a conversation when an opening to share the gospel presents itself. For some strange reason, at all these opportunities we fight a battle to say to the other person, “Let me pray for you.”
In a letter dated June 14, 1956, C. S. Lewis writes to encourage a friend undergoing great financial hardship. Lewis would send money but laws at the time forbid it. Instead, he sends along this encouraging advice, Continue reading
Following a helpful and encouraging message, I approached the speaker to express my appreciation. I thanked him for the practical application; to which he responded he sometimes finds it hard to distinguish where the Bible ends and common sense begins. I’ve often thought about that observation.
The Bible should never be thought of as a collection of clichés, positive thoughts, or old chestnuts handed down through the generations. The Bible speaks of a God who says of himself, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD” (Isaiah 55:8). Continue reading
In church services or home Bible studies, wherever prayer may be requested, it’s not uncommon to have somebody bring up an “unspoken request.” In circles familiar with the term, nothing more need be said. A nod of the head, a slight raising of the hand, and an “I have an unspoken request” is enough. Everyone understands.
To some outside of such circles, such an appeal is contradictory; bordering on the silly. If you want us to pray, give us some idea of what we’re praying about. Is it health? A relationship? A decision? We want to pray for you, but we want to pray intelligently. Help us out.
Such criticisms are made by people who think prayer should be either/or. Either tell us what you want us to pray for or don’t say anything. Continue reading
A passage I have often quoted to others, and to myself as well, is 1 Corinthians 4:6, “I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another.” I have memorized the middle section, “that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written.”
The application for this principle is almost limitless. Conversations abound with people speaking on behalf of God, Christ, or Christianity. Often, the conversations are fruitful. The speaker is articulate, his presentation clear, his reasoning well thought out.
But sometimes, and once is enough, the conversation is a verbal train wreck. The speaker is both confused and confusing. He mixes up intuition with inspiration and confuses his personal opinion with divine revelation. Continue reading
If you think about it, there are few things more difficult than living in the moment. Every present moment seems to be little more than the edge between the past and the future. Try living in the moment. It should only take a moment.
In C. S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters, the senior devil, Screwtape, passes along to the junior devil, Wormwood, some tricks of the trade on tempting and harassing a new believer. No surprise, keeping his mind off the moment is one of the more helpful techniques. In referring to God as the “Enemy,” Screwtape advises,
Experts in the field tell us that a time of crisis is the worst possible time to make a decision. Vowing to never drive again after an accident doesn’t make a lot of sense, and the widow should give it a little time before selling the home and everything in it. Calamity has a way of blurring one’s thinking.
This principle is true not only in the big decisions, it affects immediate impressions as well. When nerves are on edge, they are a lot more sensitive to inflections in the voice, body language, a perceived “look” in the eye. Continue reading
It’s nice when action and intention lineup. When big brother is nice to little sister because he cares for her. When a wife does something for her husband because she wants to. When someone does something nice to a total stranger simply to make their life better.
But the deed is not always indicative of the intention. Big brother may be nice because he doesn’t want to spend time in the corner. The wife may do it because she has her own favor to ask. The stranger may do it because everyone is watching.
The problem is, to the people looking on it all looks the same. Look at that considerate child, loving wife, good citizen. Continue reading
I believe it was Benjamin Franklin who said if you want something done, ask a busy person. Even though it sounds counterintuitive, we know it’s true. Busy people typically make getting things done a way of life. King Solomon learned the opposite of this truth the hard way and shares what it’s like, “Like vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the eyes, so is the sluggard to those who send him” (Proverbs 10:26). If you are busy, you are better off doing it yourself.
On January 29, 1955, C. S. Lewis opens a letter to Mary Willis Shelburne with something of an apology; or better, an explanation. His correspondence had dropped off significantly and he wanted to explain the reasons. He begins, Continue reading
A bit of advice. If you ever find yourself in an informal counseling situation, and the person blurts out something like, “I know God hates me,” don’t be too quick to disagree. I realize the default to such a statement is “No, that’s not true, don’t say that. God doesn’t hate you, He loves you.” I’m just suggesting you take a slow roll in getting there. Hear me out.
When you respond to someone this way you inadvertently commit two errors: (1) You convey to the person you know them better than they do. They may think to themselves that you evidently don’t want to hear what they have to say, and (2) you won’t be able to get to the root of the person’s problem. They may in fact be involved in something that God does hate, and they know it, and they were that close to telling you but you waved them off.
At first, just take them at their word. You can sort out the details after you get them. Continue reading