Tuesday, May 31, 2011


"Love may forgive all infirmities and love still in spite of them: but Love cannot cease to will their removal."
I am going to commit a mortal sin when I write this, but I think that Lewis got this a little bit wrong.  It is not that as Christians we may forgive all infirmities, it is that we must always forgive. It is what love demands.  Yes, I agree, easier said than done.  Yet, that is our hallmark as Christians. We are to love the unlovely -- the prostitute, the drug addict, the homeless, or the... ex-wife (gulp!).

C.S. Lewis's main point, however, is that when we see flaws in others (it is so easy to find flaws in others, isn't it?), we are to love them anyway. But that love is not blind.  If we have taken the log out of our own eye, our duty becomes helping others remove the speck out of their eyes.  For example, I am to love my friend who complains a lot, as difficult as it is to be around him.  But my "job" as his Christian brother is to help him see that complaining makes his life miserable, not only mine.

Again, easier said than done.  When someone in our life hurts us or annoys us, what is our first instinct? Do we not tend to build walls, and say to ourselves, "I do not need that in my life."?  It is true.  We have to be careful being around toxic people who are very unhealthy or "dangerous."  At the same time, we need to still show them love and help them overcome whatever the issue is in their life.

A very tricky balance... 

What do you think?

Monday, May 30, 2011


"It was when I was happiest that I longed most...The sweetest thing in all my life has been the longing...to find the place where all the beauty came from."
What could C.S. Lewis mean by the above quote?  I think it is simply this.  When Lewis was an atheist, he was unhappy, but did not long for heaven or truly understand his deep desire to have an intimate relationship with his Creator.  Once Lewis became a Christian, he began to understand the ability and desire to have a relationship with the ultimate source of all beauty.  He also began to long for heaven.

This sense of longing is important. As Christians, our citizenship is elsewhere.  We are aliens here, and our values are at odds with the values of the world.  Although having a relationship with Christ brings us happiness right now ("It was when I was happiest I longed most"), that happiness is tempered by the realization that we will never be completely at peace until we see our Savior.

This sense of future fulfillment is also important to help us through times of difficulty.   When we are going through hard times, our vision tends to shrink and to focus on our current circumstances.  We will gain strength to endure as we remember the end prize.  Faith allows us to take our eyes off of our current circumstances and know that, despite the hard times now, the end will be glorious.

I think C.S. Lewis is echoing Paul's words in Philippians:
For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. 23But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better; 24 yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake. Philippians 1:21-24.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

"Whatever you do, He will make good of it. But not the good He had prepared for you if you had obeyed him."

"Whatever you do, He will make good of it. But not the good He had prepared for you if you had obeyed him."
What a fantastic truth this is!  C.S.. Lewis is restating the truth of Romans 8:28,
"And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those that love God, to those that are according to His purpose."
Sometimes, I have a hard time making decisions.  Should I do this?  Or is that better?  What if I make the wrong decision?  How do I know which is the right decision?  When I begin down this road of turmoil, I am not resting in this truth.  In a very real sense, it does not matter what I choose, God will work it out for good.

That does not mean I should purposefully make bad decisions.  There is always a negative consequence for making a poor decision.  This is the point of what C.S. Lewis is saying.  When I make a poor decision, even when I sin, God will redeem it.  Yet, if I had chosen to do the right thing, I would not have suffered the negative consequences of sin.  How true has this been in my life!

This idea should bring us a great deal of peace, however.  First, it frees me from the fear of making wrong decisions, especially when I am genuinely seeking to do His will.  Second, if I do choose to do wrong, He will redeem it and use it for my benefit.  Keep in mind though, that the redemption may be painful. Also, this idea is not license to do wrong.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Every sin is the distortion of an energy breathed into us...

Today's C.S. Lewis quote is:  
Every sin is the distortion of an energy breathed into us...
As the Creator and Sustainer of our lives, God "breathes" into us energy and life-sustaining power.
"For by Him all things were created,both in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible . . . all things have been created by Him and for Him.  And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together."  Colossians 1:16-17, see also, Romans 11:36, and John 1:3-4, 10.
God will only breathe into our lives good things, although at times it may seem like what is being breathed into our lives is not good.  We begin to doubt.  We begin to question God's fairness, justice, or goodness.  We wonder if God really has our best interests in mind.  Such thoughts are natural, but they are a distortion of God's character,  His goodness, and His love.  When we act on such thoughts, we are acting based on a distortion of our Creator and Sustainer, that is, the energy that breathes into us.

This is easy to intellectualize and comprehend. It is much more difficult to understand in such a way that it resonates deep into our souls.  If we truly were capable of never doubting God or distorting His character, we would not sin. True faith is when I do not completely understand our see what God is doing, yet I trust that He is working on my behalf.

I believe, however, that C.S. Lewis's point was that as we sin, it saps energy out of us. It does so on two levels.  First, the guilt from our conscience gnawing at us.  Second, there are always consequences to sin.  As we deal with the guilt and consequences, energy is sucked out of our lives, energy that God would rather use living "abundant lives."

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Today's C.S. Lewis quote is a little tongue-in-cheek:
Disobedience to conscience is voluntary; bad poetry, on the other hand, is usually not made on purpose.
I do not write poetry, because I am fairly certain that my poetry would be poor, even when I do not intend it to be bad.  However, this is an important subject.  When one begins to attempt to develop in an area, they tend to be bad when they first start.  For example,  I am certain that I am a bad poet, at least given my current abilities.  Should I then never embark on becoming a good poet?

Perhaps the solution is just never to let anyone see my poetry, or at least until it is decent.

I think, however, that we limit ourselves and God by refusing to take risks out of fear of rejection or failure -- out of fear of writing, "bad poetry."

This brings up, however, C.S. Lewis's true intent when he wrote the above quote.  We never intend bad consequences, e.g. bad poetry.  We do things because we think that it is good or better than not doing them.  When we ignore our conscience, it is because, for some warped reason deep in our soul, we think that ignoring our conscience will result in "good poetry."  We make a choice, therefore, to ignore our conscience, and end up with bad poetry, even though we did not intend to create bad poetry.

Another way of saying this is that, "the road to hell is paved with good intentions."

So write poetry in life and develop your skills so that you will eventually write good poetry.  But know that if your conscience is telling you not to write poetry and you do it anyway, the poetry you write will always be bad poetry.

Friday, May 20, 2011


"A man can no more diminish God's glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word 'darkness' on the walls of his cell." 

Why were we created?  Was it to worship God?  I was told that and used to believe that, however, now I do not think that is the case.  Simply put, God does not need to be worshiped.  That is to say, God is not some ego-maniac who is "unfulfilled" if we refuse to worship Him.  No, the importance of worship is for ourselves, not for Him.  What does worshiping God do for us?

1.  It helps us understand our position, that is, that He is God and we are not.  When we worship Him, we understand our place, that is, that there is Someone bigger than us, but not just bigger, Someone who loves us and cares for us.  

2.  It helps us take our minds of the here and now, and focus on God and the future He has for us.  It is a little bit of a sappy song, but I have always loved the Imperials song, Praise the Lord. The lyrics go like this,
"When you're up against a struggle That shatters all your dreams And your hope's been cruelly crushed By Satan's manifested scheme And you feel the urge within you To submit to earthly fears Don't let the faith your standing in Seem to disappearCHORUS:Praise the Lord He can work through those who praise Him Praise the Lord For our God inhabits praise Praise the Lord For the chains that seem to bind you Serve only to remind you That they drop powerless behind youWhen you praise Him
Worshiping our God, especially in difficult times, is a good way to become to begin to turn our mind outward from our misery.

3.  It will result in blessing.  I believe as we worship Him, He unleashes blessings on us.  "You inhabit the praises of your people."  Psalm 22:3.  Think of your children.  When they thank you and praise you, how do you respond to them?  Do you look for ways to bless them?  "If you, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give what is good to him who asks!"  I would simply substitute "asks" with "him who worships."  You will be richly rewarded as you worship Him.

God doesn't need us to worship Him; we need to worship Him for ourselves.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


Today's C.S. Lewis' quote is:
"Love is something more stern and splendid than mere kindness." 
Kindness is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to love.  Not that kindness is bad.  Kindness is certainly an element of love.  Yet, as C.S. Lewis points out, love is so much more serious, yet grand!  

Kindness is defined by Webster as, "the quality or state of being affectionate, sympathetic or helpful."  It is good to be affectionate, and sympathetic, and helpful. But love is so much deeper and multifaceted. The Bible defines love as, 
   Love never gives up. 
   Love cares more for others than for self. 
   Love doesn't want what it doesn't have. 
   Love doesn't strut, 
   Doesn't have a swelled head, 
   Doesn't force itself on others, 
   Isn't always "me first," 
   Doesn't fly off the handle, 
   Doesn't keep score of the sins of others, 
   Doesn't revel when others grovel, 
   Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, 
   Puts up with anything, 
   Trusts God always, 
   Always looks for the best, 
   Never looks back, 
   But keeps going to the end.
The fact of the matter is that love is not always kind, just like love is not always patient. Sometimes, love actually causes pain. This may best be illustrated by Proverbs 27:6:
Faithful are the wounds of a friend,
But deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.
How true this has been in my life!  In my life, when things have gotten messy, the people who have been kind to me and figuratively showered me with kisses have disappeared.  The people who truly love me, have endured the hard times alongside of me, and been willing to tell me the tough truths.  Although these people were technically less "kind", these friends were truly loving, and, oh how I am thankful for them!

As Christians, we are called to this stern but splendid love.  We are to grow deeper in that love, willing to go beyond mere kindness.  We do this because God is that way with us.  The simple truth is that God sometimes wounds us, but as the Proverb says, we can "trust" those wounds.  We can trust those wounds because He loves us so deeply and sternly and magnificently.

Monday, May 16, 2011


Today's C.S. Lewis quote is:
Everyone feels benevolent if nothing happens to be annoying him at the moment.
The true test of the kindness or love of a person is their reaction when the person who is the object of their kindness or love genuinely annoys them.  In other words, how does a person treat conflict is a true test of a person's love (C.S. Lewis used the word, "benevolent"; I am substituting "love" or "kindness").  The clearest example to me is children.  It is easy to love children when they are not annoying -- when they are not crying, or whining, or demanding much of my time. The true test of my love is how I react when they are hollering at the top of their lungs, when they are complaining, or when I am forced to stop what I am doing to help them.

In terms of an adult relationship, how do I respond to my significant other when there is conflict?  Do I respond with patience, kindness, and respect, putting the other person's needs ahead of my own?  Or do I lash out in anger, retreat into a protective shell, or disparage the other person?

Jesus put it this way,
"For if you love those who love you, what reward have you?  Do not even the tax-gatherers do the same?  And if you greet your brothers only, what do you do more than others?  Do not even the Gentiles do the same?"  Matthew 5:46-47.
Therefore, as Christians, we are to:
"[D]o good to those who hate you, bless  those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.?"  Luke 6:27-28.
Our distinguishing characteristic as Christians should be our love, not only for each other, but those who hate, persecute or annoy us (See John 13:35).  They shall know we are Christians by our doctrine?  By our churches?  By our clothes, or haircuts, or lack of tattoos?  Because we don't drink, don't smoke, don't gamble, and don't run with those who do?  No!  They shall know we are Christians by our love, and especially by how we treat those who annoy us.

I am not preaching at you; I am exhorting you and me at the same time.  I know how hard this is.  True love is difficult, likely the most difficult thing we can do.  It takes a lifetime to master, and even then, it is likely not perfect love. Nevertheless, as we allow God to work in our lives, He will "perfect us in love."  It is not easy, but it is worth it, and it is our mandate as Christians.

Saturday, May 14, 2011


An open mind, in questions that are not ultimate, is useful. But an open mind about the ultimate foundations either of Theoretical or of Practical Reason is idiocy.
An open mind is a wonderful character trait. Like any good thing, however, a person can take it too far.  As C.S. Lewis says int he quote above, an open mind about foundational issues is idiocy. 

Recently, the Presbyterian Church (PC USA) voted to amend its policy of requiring clergy to be faithful to the Biblical mandate of sex only within marriage between a man and woman.  In other words, each regional presbyteries can now decide upon the ordination of gay or outside-of-marriage sexually active clergy.  Here is an article talking about it: http://www.cbn.com/cbnnews/us/2011/May/Presbyterian-Church-Clears-Way-for-Gay-Clergy-/.

C.S. Lewis hits the nail on the head.  Tolerance and an open mind are generally wonderful traits, but they should never extend to foundational issues.  When it comes to foundational issues, we should be as stubborn as mules.  The Presbyterian Church folded on a foundational Biblical mandate.

I have to point out one thing, however.  I have gay friends and I am compelled to say that the church today does a horrible job of dealing with gay people who are genuinely searching and struggling.  Nevertheless, the solution is not to begin to allow gay people in leadership roles.  

Friday, May 13, 2011


"Of all bad men religious bad men are the worst."

Evil done in the name of religion is the worst kind of evil there is.  I believe this is what God meant by taking His name in vain, and I believe there is a special place reserved for people who commit evil in the name of religion.  In our day and age, the most obvious example is Muslim extremism which promotes terrorism, abuse of women, and intolerance to any who disagree with its radical ideology.

Not that we Christians are without blame.  Our memories are fresh with the abuse of children by Catholic priests.  Or the violence in Ireland between Protestants and Catholics.  And our history is scarred by the Crusades, or bombing abortion clinics, or the Salem witch trials, or...where does the list stop.

C.S. Lewis is right that religious bad men are the worst sort of evil there is.  Jesus said it this way, 
It is inevitable that stumbling blocks come, but woe to him through whom they come!It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea, than that he would cause one of these little ones to stumble.  Luke 17:1-2

The reason that religious evil men are the worst is two fold.  First, it allows fodder for those who hate religion.  Detractors of faith are always quick to point out the evils done in the name of religion.  Second, in a similar way, evil done in the name of God is a huge stumbling block to those who are already people of faith.  For example, can you imagine a child abused by a priest and what a hard time he would have with his faith?

The application is twofold.  First, let us condemn any act of evil done in the name of religion. Christianity, since the Reformation, has done a pretty good job of this, but we can always do better.  Muslims have a long way to go in this area.  Second, let us examine our own lives to be certain that we are not a stumbling block to other people of faith.   


Every day, I have a quote from C.S. Lewis sent to me.  In recent weeks, I have been struck by how those quotes have been directly related to either the news of the day or something that I am confronting in my own life. Other than Biblical authors, an argument could be made that C.S. Lewis is the greatest Christian author of any age.  His writings have influenced Christendom like few, if any, have been able to accomplish.  His words contain timeless truth that is unparalleled outside of the Word of God.

The goal of this blog is simply to provide a commentary on C.S. Lewis quotes and ideas.  If you are new to C.S. Lewis, you will find remarkable truths as you begin to explore his thoughts.  If C.S. Lewis is old hat to you, join me and let's start a conversation celebrating and evaluating his idea.