A Slight Interruption of Faith

Sometimes we need a little shaking—something that interrupts a sleepy faith marinading in the idea that the church exists to feed, coddle and satisfy our appetite for wonder, when in fact it does’t exist for us at all. The church is Jesus living through His followers (herein is the wonder) and His followers living for Him and for each other. In fact the church is the only entity on earth that lives solely for the benefit of others…

“It may be possible for each to think too much of his own potential glory hereafter; [yet] it is hardly possible for him to think too often or too deeply about that of his neighbor. The load, or weight, or burden of my neighbor’s glory should be laid daily on my back, a load so heavy that only humility can carry it, and the backs of the proud will be broken. It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilization—these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit—immortal horrors or everlasting splendors. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously—no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption. And our charity must be a real and costly love, with deep feeling for the sins in spite of which we love the sinner—no mere tolerance or indulgence that parodies love as flippancy parodies merriment. Next to [the elements of communion] itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses. If he is your Christian neighbor he is holy in almost the same way, for in him also Christ vere latitat—the glorifier and the glorified—Glory Himself, is truly hidden.” —C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory

Blessings,
—j

No Trivial Pursuit

Following Jesus is no trivial pursuit; neither is it a religious duty reserved for the devout. Following Jesus is capitulating (in ashes) to who He really is and doing what He said to do. Christians may find this somewhat optional (if we’re honest) or even imposing, but followers of Jesus follow because they came to the shattering realization of just Who—and What—they are following…

“To follow Jesus is to pay the cost of discipleship, and then to die to ourselves, to our own interests, our own agendas and reputations. It is to pick up our crosses and count the cost of losing all that contradicts his will and his way—including our reputations before the world, and our standing with the people and in the communities that we once held dear. It is to live before one audience, the audience of One, and therefore to die to all other conflicting opinions and assessments. There is no room here for such contemporary ideas as the looking-glass self, and no consideration here for trivial contemporary obsessions such as one’s legacy.” —Os Guinness

Blessings,
—j

The Clout of Christian Nobodies

The success of the Gospel isn’t measured by the popularity of its people or it’s appeal to the world, but by the obedience of simple folks to the Holy Spirit. The cost is often high, but the results are beyond measure. Think you need a big name to shake the world? Think again. The Holy Spirit and a bunch of nobodies—nameless people who were frequently abused—were a staggering combination…

“The early church didn’t have a Graham, a Finney, or a Moody. It didn’t have Promise Keepers, a Great Awakening, or User Friendly Churches. Furthermore it had no concise spiritual laws to share, no explosive method for talking to the unconverted. What it had seems quite paltry: it had unspectacular people with a hodgepodge of methods—so hodgepodge that they can hardly be called methods, and rarely a gathering of more than a handful of people. The paltry seems to have been enough, however, to make an emperor or two stop and take notice…nameless Christians [who brought] the Name of Jesus Christ to the attention of pagans—not a phenomenon that filled stadiums; just enough to begin converting the whole known world…” —Mark Galli

Blessings,
—j

A Rock for Your Soul

What is a soul and why do you have one? Here’s a short answer. Enjoy. Really.

Hello Facebook Christians

Hello Facebook Christians,

People are reading your posts. So as you write, paste, tag and share—remember.

Remember that followers of Jesus are not fearful people. Followers of Jesus are not angry people. Followers of Jesus are the least offendable people in the world because they are not of the world.

Jesus said His followers were refreshing to others.
Christ is who we stand for.
Righteousness is the good we do for others.
Holy is what God made us.
Love keeps no record of wrongs.
This world is not our home.

Remember?

Keep the faith.

Re-Reading Screwtape

It had been a few years since I last read C.S. Lewis’ “The Screwtape Letters”, so I decided to listen to the audio book to take the edge off a long drive to southern California. I had read the book over twenty times, and my dull journey seemed a good time for a refresher of this great Christian classic.

If you’re not familiar with “The Screwtape Letters”, it was Lewis’ clever expose of the devil’s tactics to destroy devoted Christians. His approach was unique: Lewis devised thirty-one “letters” allegedly composed by a senior level demon, Uncle Screwtape, who was tasked with advising a novice, Wormwood, on how to neutralize a “patient”. The book is like reading the devil’s training manual. The letters are eerie, often hilarious and a devious revelation of hell’s tactics in a spiritual war.

But this time I found it a very different book. As Screwtape scrawled his usual poisonous counsel to Wormwood, I was stunned by something in the content I never noticed. It seemed prophetic. I always viewed Lewis’ book as a whimsical, practical warning about the machinations of The Enemy. This time it was more of a lens—a tingling revelation of the power and malice behind today’s mindless cultural upheaval that mocks truth and cultural mutilates logic, nature and science.

I was even more startled to discover a postscript that I somehow missed, “Screwtape Proposes a Toast”. It was longer than the other “letters” and a bit tedious—until Screwtape enlightened his graduates to a subtle counterattack whereby they could lead the whole of human society by the nose. Stunned. It’s us. We’ve become that society, nose and all, without ever knowing we were being led, much less how we got that way. What was this “counterattack”? I guarantee it’s not what you think. Now you’ll have to read the book…

The world was a different place when Lewis died in 1963—today it looks like the Letters. Are they prophetic? Perhaps. They are certainly enlightened, and the devil hates the light. But he doesn’t sleep in the dark, he just sings lullabies. Then he goes to work. Perhaps “The Screwtape Letters” is a hearing aid—a device that amplifies the dark whispers of a patient, deadly enemy. But it is also a sudden flash—a bolt from Heaven and a thunderclap that knocks us out of our beds. The world has changed—God warned us and Lewis reminds us.

Time to take the battle to the Enemy.

Read this book…

 

“…do not ever forget, when you hear the progress of lights praised, that the loveliest trick of the Devil is to persuade you that he does not exist.” —Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867)

In the Headlines: What Have Astronomers Really Discovered?

I love the universe. I was an astronomy minor at university, and like a bug to light I’m drawn to all the latest star-science. And as you can guess, this is a dilemma. I’m a follower of Jesus—I love cosmology and believe in the most grandiose terms that God made the universe to declare His glory to anyone who can perceive it.

But astronomy is also a desperate science—one that seeks the eternal origin and fate of everything temporal. And that’s a room with no doors. God is an affront to science, but kill him and the only solution to the problem of “life, the universe and everything” is that it all burst from nothing and is hurtling into infinite discontinuity. From nothing to nothingness. At least for the moment we have ashes and dust. In the end, science says, there won’t even be dust. That dark conclusion means humanity is far more meaningless than it ever imagined.

But the show must go on, because humanity, scientists tell us, must discover life off the earth, and the non-science of God interferes with their enormous view of the universe. So they turn their desperate search toward new, potentially habitable worlds in the hope of staving off inevitable extinction, validating humanity’s existence and pinpointing our true bio-evolutionary origin. And perhaps along the way they will even meet intelligent life, which, if discovered, they believe, will render Jesus and the Bible obsolete. Happy day. There’s just one question left: And then?

No doors.

With the discovery of yet another “earth-like” planet in the habitable zone of a neighboring star, another journalist has hailed the death-knell of Christianity (other religions seem to be meritless targets to critics).

But no one found a habitable planet. What we’re hearing is common, frequent, journalistic embellishment based on wishful thinking. A planet was detected—in the habitable zone—of a star so distant it would take several hundred thousand years to travel there at our best achievable speed (aside from the innumerable and deadly challenges of theoretical interstellar space travel).

Are our telescopes that good? Yes. So is it possible the planet is earth-like? Yes. Are scientists sure of this? No. It’s a heavy world, meaning rocky like earth, not gaseous like Jupiter, and it’s in the “habitable zone”, orbiting its parent star about the same distance as earth does from the sun. Does it have oceans, an atmosphere or life? No one knows. Everything outside the mass of the planet and the orbital location is a best guess. Is it possible they found another earth? Yes. Is it probable? No. Just because Carl Sagan mused that if no other life existed in the universe it would amount to “an awful waste of space” doesn’t make it so. That was his wish, not his understanding.

The data tells us there are innumerable planets out there; it can even tell us their approximate mass, size and makeup—but little else—including the possibility of life. In the scientific community there’s a gross assumption that the biological evolution presumed to have occurred on earth also occurred elsewhere by the same mechanisms and for the same reasons. But in fact they have no idea—and until they can discern bugs or structures on a distant world, they have no way of knowing (aside from radio signals, which are so far entirely absent).

Journalistic embellishment is designed to sell news, and journalists also know that headlines alone can indoctrinate the masses, especially those who take no time to read the article (which is most people).

Is life “out there” possible? Why not. Is it probable? Who knows. And don’t forget—the same questions confront those who declare new evolutionary discoveries as though they had completely nailed down a nearly opaque past. While reported as fact, they are only expressing a best guess. Possible? Within the realm of scientific theory, yes. Probable? Impossible to say. Destructive to faith? Not at all—in fact there’s an almost comical irony here: to search for human meaning in a doomed universe is to demonstrate greater faith and hope than the religious people who offend their scientific sensibilities with their faith and hope.

Those people say there is a door—that the Landlord installed it a while back, and though most have tried to ignore it or block it up, and though few use it, it remains stubbornly wedged open.

Hope will not vanish as long as there’s a Door in the universe.

Which is why I love the Landlord.

—j