Monthly Archives: September 2015
I’ve seen it happen more times than I can remember. Parents who did everything “correctly” to the best of their ability. Took their kids to church and Christian camp, practiced daily Bible readings in the home, laid down clear principles of right and wrong and adjusted them to accommodate as the child got older. And when the child matured, he wanted nothing to do with it.
On the other hand, I’ve seen parents with absolutely no interest in any of the above. Sunday is just the second half of the weekend. It was a day for sports or working around the house. Church was for people who needed a crutch. And when their child matured, they went into the ministry, missions, or were active in their local church.
Far better minds than mine have tried to resolve this enigma; all to no avail. Continue reading
As heartbreaking and devastating as global tragedies are, for most of us they are out there somewhere. It’s the house or car or child on TV, not mine. Our challenges are far more trivial, but still challenges. It’s not the tsunami, forest fire, or oil spill. It’s the neighbor’s party, the kids hanging around, the employee who insists on having everything his way.
In early March of 1954, Mary Willis Shelburne shared with C. S. Lewis a difficulty she was having with a fellow worker. The problem wasn’t serious, but that was part of the problem. The other person was just being nasty. What to do?
Lewis responds, Continue reading
It’s easy to dive into the deep end of the pool of prayer and drown. We read, “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17), and yet “your Father knows what you need before you ask him” (Matthew 6:8). Elsewhere we are told, “Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether” (Psalm 139:4), and yet “And being in an agony [Jesus] prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:44).
But in the shallow end, prayer can be exciting. To have a prayer answered, be it simple or complex, surprises and encourages even the most elderly saint. And when you begin to think of everything that had to happen in eternity past for that prayer to be answered, is to drift out to the deep end.
In a letter to Mary Willis Shelburne, dated November 6, 1953, C. S. Lewis cannot contain his joy. He opens his letter, Continue reading
There’s a fine line between concern and worry. The parent who worries because their child is two minutes late needs to relax. The parent not concerned for the child who did not come home at all isn’t much of a parent.
It can be hard to see worry as sin. It’s so common. Everyone has worries; they seem so, I don’t know, so ordinary. But the thing about worry is its inward focus, it prefers self-protection over trust. The best way to understand it may be by meeting someone who doesn’t do it.
In a letter to Mary Willis Shelburne, dated August 10, 1953, C. S. Lewis responds to a concern raised by Ms. Shelburne. Circumstances have turned and she finds herself needing help from her daughter and son-in-law. Lewis counsels, Continue reading
It’s a pretty sure bet that if you hear someone questioning the existence of God, it’s going to be because of some tragedy. Almost every tsunami, tornado, or massacre prompts the question, “If there is a good and sovereign God, why did this happen?”
The question is both understandable and reasonable. A catastrophe forces one to question either God’s goodness or sovereignty.
But it’s not a bad idea, though it is a more difficult one, to see difficulties, and even tragedy, as having a good purpose behind them; even if we don’t understand it at the moment. Continue reading
I confess to never quite understanding the obsession of some people with angels. It’s not so much their appearance in art or ceramic. They do convey a certain beauty and majesty. I’m more confused about the relationship people think they have with them. The “good luck charm” aspect of angels; the Facebook and Twitter admonitions to seek their guidance and protection.
Where does this stuff come from? Continue reading
I had a professor in Bible college who suggested we be neither optimists are pessimists. His approach was to be “optimistically realistic.” He thought this nicely combined the truths of sin and evil (realistic) along with God and grace (optimistically).
We all know the danger of trying to be optimistic or pessimistic without letting the other balance it out. To be overly optimistic is to live in denial; to be overly pessimistic is to be depressed.
I suppose it is easier to argue for optimism than for pessimism. Goodness, there is so much bad news in the world, let’s give a shout out for the silver lining. But something positive can be said for pessimism as well. Columnist George F. Will put it nicely, “The nice part about being a pessimist is that you are constantly being either proven right or pleasantly surprised.” Sounds like a win-win to me. Continue reading
In ministry, doing your “best” is annoying and elusive. How do you know you did your best? Is it a matter of self-evaluation? But every pastor knows the feeling of thinking he did a great job and finding out he is the only one.
Is it based on what others tell you? But in this case, who do you listen to? Are the complements sincere or could the lone critic be the person you should listen to?
Should you even listen to anyone? Continue reading
When people say they don’t like change, I no longer believe them. If they were more precise, they would say they don’t like negative changes. Even the most hardhearted traditionalist doesn’t mind improving his lot in life. A raise in pay, a windfall, a completed project, are all changes but they are ones everyone enjoys.
It’s the negatives that we dread. After spending all day putting it back together, you turn the key and . . . . nothing. After a routine yearly checkup, you expect the usual “Just keep doing what you’re doing,” but instead are told, “When you get a minute can you stop in?” Instead of a paycheck you get a pink slip. These are the kinds of surprises no one wants to experience.
And then there’s the one at the end of life. Continue reading
Ever notice how some people are old when they are young, while others are young when they are old? Such people cause you to pause after meeting them. By looking at them you anticipated what they would be like. Once they got talking, you had to adjust.
What we make of aging is what we make of ourselves. I enjoy listening to people who, though older than me, make me feel younger than either one of us. Continue reading