Tag Archives: CS Lewis

The battle for authority


Who has authority in your life? Are you in charge? Or does God have real authority over your problems and struggles? Or maybe someone else pulls the strings that make you feel like a marionette puppet.


Maybe you’ve asked for the Holy Spirit to fill your life. You’ve asked him to give you the eyes of Jesus so you can really notice the people around you and around the world. That sensitivity both empowers us through the Holy Spirit and sometimes can overwhelm us if we step away from the Spirit and try to do things on our own.  I think it is a daily battle for the best and strongest of us. Maybe it’s harder for the strongest of faith, because we start to believe that if we have strong faith it should be strong enough for every trial. But it occurs to me that while faith expressing itself through love IS the only thing that counts (Galatians 5:6) it is not just the faith, but the source and OBJECT of our faith that wins the battle. Scripture reminds us that God himself fights at our side. He has our back and he fights within us too if we let the Spirit do his part.


As for me, it’s often a daily battle because I so easily slip into the mode that says, “I’ve got this; I can do this on my own.” Or I see all the needs around me and begin thinking it’s my job to fix them all. Not so. Ask the Spirit, “what, if anything do you want me to do? The Spirit doesn’t call us to fix every need. Not every conversation is meant to be a gospel presentation. The Spirit also shows us how to be happy in the Lord, how to relax, how to “Let go and let God.” CS Lewis explains: “We must give our lives for others, but even while we’re doing it, I think we’re meant to enjoy our Lord and, in him, our friends, our food, our sleep, our jokes, the birds’ song and the frosty sunrise.” (CS Lewise, The Collected Letters)


I ask that Jesus remind you to let the joy of the Spirit wash over your mind (and mine) with the truth of how very much he loves you, how perfectly worthy and pleasing you are in his sight, because he sees the glory of God in your redeemed spirit. Jesus said, “ALL authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” And BECAUSE that same authority lives in your heart through the person of the Holy Spirit, THAT is precisely the authority that reigns over fear, anxiety, despair, loneliness, guilt, and everything else the enemy throws in our face every day. It is our faith in THAT authority that makes us more than overcomers when we FEEL overwhelmed. It is THAT authority that allows us to be hard pressed but not crushed, perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but NOT destroyed. It’s his authority that overcomes the so called authorities of this world.
Be blessed under and in the authority of Jesus Christ in your every battle and every joy.



Pain is real – So is hope

Pain is real but so is hope.


CS Lewis astutely observed, “Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” We can’t ignore it. It tortures us and crushes us. In its greatest trials it blinds us to everything else. Physical pain. Emotional pain. The pain of feeling lost and alone and without purpose. To deny it and paste on a silly grin is a foolish facade that accomplishes nothing.


Pain is real.

But so is hope.


Hope clings to the reality that what we see is not what God sees. We think there is only pain, uselessness, a wasted life of no value to anyone. We sit beneath the magnificent quilt spread across the loom and all we see are the tattered edges and loose threads. Nothing makes sense. But He sees the picture from above, the one that is completed by our faithfulness. Speaking of the great men and women of faith who suffered greatly, the author of the book of Hebrews wrote: “These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.” (Hebrews 11:39-40) He continues,”Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” (Hebrews 12:1-3)


That’s the masterpiece that our pain can’t perceive. Only faith, your great hope, can catch a glimpse of the beauty that is yet to be revealed.


Your faithfulness is accomplishing far more than what you and I can imagine. It’s quite possible we won’t know until we get to heaven how God uses your faithfulness to work good in all situations for all who are called according to his purpose. I know it doesn’t seem like enough. I write this as my own pain screams at me. Hope doesn’t seem like enough. But it is enough. Jesus has his loving eyes on you and your pain right now. You are not forgotten, not alone.


All that counts and all that remains in the end, is faith expressing itself in love. (Galatians 5:6) And faith keeps reaching out. When there is no strength or when your invitations to help and encourage others are ignored, faith prays. And persevering prayer accomplishes as much as any deeds we do. Marcia and I were recently talking about her parents’ lives, how their last years seemed so empty and wasted. Without our family there would have been just a few to remember them. But is the goal to be remembered? Perhaps the real point of life ultimately to bear witness to the transformational power of God’s love in a way that it impacts the life of at least one other person, who in turn bears testimony that impacts another?  In that sense, your faith – expressing itself in love – continues to live on, long after your name is forgotten.


Whatever level of pain you endure right now, I pray that you will see the goodness of the Lord here in the land of the living (Psalm 27:13). But even if that vision is clouded, there comes a time for all real believers when ALL his goodness will unfold in great abundance. We won’t be able to contain it.


That is our hope and it is as real as any pain that assaults us.


Your new house


Do you remember the excitement you once had in moving to a new house? There is the joyful anticipation of exploring new possibilities and making improvements. You know to repair the roof before decorating the inside. You change the locks to make it secure and clean the windows so you can enjoy a proper view of the world outside. We added an addition to our very first house that made it into a different house entirely. It’s quite a lot of work and it takes a long time if you do it yourself. But when you step back, you realize it’s worth it to create something better than you started with.


Remodeling a house is a metaphor for what God does when we ask Jesus to be the Lord of our life. Our bodies are God’s “temple” and are designed to be pleasing to him. When we invite Jesus into our lives (our house), he starts fixing things. He secures the roof over our heads to protect us. He has us clean the windows so we can see the world clearly through his eyes. He has us replace the books and magazines we read and the movies we watch. He might even tinker with some of our possessions and hobbies that we prize too much. He might have us expand the living and dining areas to make room for us to invite others into our home. The more he lives in our home, the more changes there are. C.S. Lewis observes: “You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace.”


God always has in mind something quite better than what we imagine for ourselves!


John 14:2-3 is a familiar passage to many of us:

“My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”


It tells of our true home, our heavenly home that he is preparing for us, and also the time when he will return for us. But there is another place he is busy preparing for us. It is his present place within us, the core of our life and being. At our invitation, Jesus is remodeling our “house.” He has on fact, already “come back” in the person of his Spirit who has made his home in us.


When I built a long patio area with an extended roof, I consulted an engineer so I would know how to design the load bearing beam. I could have built it according to a cheaper and inferior design. But I knew this cross beam had to support the weight of the roof and whatever loads it must bear during the snowy winter months, so I followed the designer’s “blueprint.” We certainly can build our life house according to our own choosing and our own comforts. But Jesus sends his Spirit who knows the blueprint for how our life is best designed. He provides the “cross” beam that carries our heaviest loads. He takes the shabbiest of shacks and converts them into masterpiece palaces that offer some reflection of the grandeur of his nature.


There are times when the remodeling of our lives is inconvenient, even tiresome and painful. Sometimes we feel like giving up. Truthfully, the job will not be fully completed until we move into our permanent home in heaven. But the remodeling process is why we are here. It is our purpose to be built up according to his plan and used according to his purpose and for his goodness. Today is a good day to look around your “house” and ask the master designer what is next on the remodeling list. Submit to his plan and enjoy the benefits of his design for you.



Whose will?


“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” Luke 22:42


On the eve of His crucifixion, Jesus modeled for us how we should pray. In fact, He lived that prayer, always appealing to His Father’s will. “The Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner.” (John 5:19)


But is that how we pray? Don’t we typically pray for OUR will to be done? Fix my problems. Heal my sickness. And quickly please. Too often, if we’re honest, we treat God like a fast food worker at a heavenly Burger King:


God:”How can I help you today?”
Me: “I’d like a deluxe meal with double portions of happiness, power, and prosperity. Heal me and make me happy. No suffering or pain or sorrow. And plenty of comfort and recognition on the side. And I’d like to king size everything. Oh wait, not like the King Jesus had it. I want only what tastes good, not what’s actually good for me. I know He prayed “Thy will be done” but honestly, I’d really like MY will be done, if it’s all the same. And can I get a ticket to heaven with that? It’s a free gift today, right?”


We want what we want, when we want it. And true, God wants us to pray for our needs. If we truly love Him, He will give us our desires, because the desires of the follower of Christ are the desires of Christ…to do what the Father is doing, to honor God.


“There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done’ and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done.’ CS Lewis, The Great Divorce


Humble yourself. Confess your sins. Draw close to God and ask Him for your needs. The prayers of a righteous man (and woman and child) are effective and accomplish much. (James 5) But let’s be the people who ask chiefly for God’s will to be done…in our work and our play, our banking, our striving and resting. Let our greatest prayers be for His name to be honored…in the world, in our country (regardless of your political leaning), in our town, our church, and our home. Let’s ask Him to reveal more of Himself to us and through us; to speak through our sorrow and our joy and to use our lives for the sole purpose of making Him known. . .

According to His will.



Recovering a sense of self


It’s not all about you – or me. In one sense becoming a follower of Christ means losing our sense of self. “Out of our selves, into Christ, we must go. His will is to become ours and we are to think His thoughts, to ‘have the mind of Christ’ as the Bible says.” C.S. Lewis


And yet our sense of self, even God’s Spirit in ourself, is how we interpret the world and how we relate to God. Your sense of self, either as feeling separated from God or of belonging to Him, probably vacillates throughout your day – and life.  At one moment you see yourself as standing on your own two feet, pulling yourself up by your bootstraps and the master of your own destiny. And then something happens to make you realize you are ultimately a child of God dependent on resting in His loving arms. Sudden loss cuts to the core of who we are and may cause us to question ‘who remains’ after surviving a tragic life event. Authors Sherri Magee and Kathy Scalzo describe recovering a sense of self as the first of four phases of transitioning from survival to living well.*


Stem cell transplant recipient Kristina says, “Cancer wasn’t supposed to happen to me.” She describes her vibrant life before cancer, living on the edge, “fiercely independent and passionate.” It was who she was ‘B.C.’ – Before Cancer. Determined not to let cancer keep her down, Kristina resolved to focus on recovering the quality of life she desired. Devastating setbacks with GVHD and long periods of fatigue led to isolation, inactivity, and feelings of self-pity.  But she continued her pursuit of recovering her sense of self. “As post-transplant survivors, we have to drag ourselves out of it,” she says. “The initial step of recovery is just to get moving. Whether you do this alone, with a caregiver, or through a program, little steps make a big impact.”


She describes her “new normal” as including her mindset, physical changes, how people react to her, and her emotional well being. “While I experienced many changes and realized new things about myself, I was able to get back the part of my life that I loved.” She discovered the path from surviving to thriving.


As for me, I’m still in process.  It often feels like I am balancing two lives: the one I have now and the one I had before cancer. How about you? Recovering your sense of who you are, especially who you are in God’s sight, isn’t a process unique to cancer survivors. It’s an essential journey we all face. As you look at the struggles in your own life ask yourself:

In what ways has my sense of self remained constant, and in what ways am I becoming someone new?

What have I gained and what have I lost along the way? (I urge you to focus on what you’ve gained!)

How do I let go of what must be left behind and move on to a better future? (… If not better than where you once were, but better than where now are now.)


You don’t have to figure it out today. And you don’t have to figure it out alone. Talk to a trusted friend. Grieve over your loss, but don’t stay there. Talk honestly with God about where you are and who you really are in His sight. There are more pieces of your puzzle yet to discover! Let God who designed your puzzle help you put all the pieces together.


* Picking Up the Pieces – Moving Forward After Surviving Cancer





CS Lewis wrote, “If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.” Randy Alcorn echoes this in his book, Heaven:

“You are made for a person and a place. Jesus is the person, and Heaven is the place.”


For the believer in Christ, heaven is “the best to come!”


Heaven is a place of hope fulfilled. There will be no disappointment, no tears or sorrows, no pain. No more anger or fear. No abuse and no neglect. No brokenness. No cancer or Alzheimer’s Disease or sickness of any kind! And no more dying!


Whatever bugs you today or makes you sad, you won’t experience that in heaven. No more bitterness, anger, resentment, or grudges. No political gridlock and NO MORE WARS! Sarcasm and divisive attacks will be exchanged for encouraging words and actions. (We should learn to do that now!) We’ll trade weakness for strength, sorrow for joy. Relationships will be restored. Broken bodies and minds will be glorified and made whole and perfect. We will be humbled but never humiliated or belittled. Your fight against selfishness and pride will be forever vanquished. You will be FREED from everything that keeps you from being who you were meant to be,  your internal struggles and everything that imprisons you.


Think of a place where everything is in perfect harmony filled with the most amazing music you have never heard on earth. Imagine the most beautiful places you’ve ever seen or visited. Heaven will be even more beautiful than that.


There will be a great reunion with the champions of faith, the ones we loved, and new friends we never met on earth. I think people will come up and thank you for being faithful, for giving, for encouraging, for promoting unity – not division – and for not being afraid to tell the truth about Jesus. What rejoicing there will be! If you think heaven might be boring, you’re in for a surprise. God describes it as a celebration!


And what words could describe meeting Almighty God? Some tell me they’re going to give God a piece of their mind when they meet Him. I think I will be compelled to fall on my face before Him. Whatever doubts and questions you have will be answered completely. Maybe your understanding will be made complete in an instant; maybe it will take an eternity to grasp how deep and wide and high is God’s love! Heaven is filled with God’s glory. It is our singular purpose on earth and will be for all eternity in heaven to proclaim His glory. (How easily we get distracted from our true calling!) And speaking of purpose, I believe the full meaning of God’s purpose in working all things together for good will be revealed. (Romans 8:28)


Are you going to heaven? You can know. (Read 1 John 5:10-15.) Doesn’t it make sense to live today with heaven in mind? I hope you find reasons to give thanks today and every day. I hope thinking about heaven deepens your desire to honor God in everything you do. I hope it compels you not to waste your life in frivolity. I hope you learn to rest from always striving to get better and instead, rest in the peace of what He has already accomplished in you when He said, “It is finished!” I hope you decide that being satisfied in God exceeds every other quest you might pursue. We were made for heaven, so I hope you determine to…

Live for heaven’s sake!



Death rehearsal


CS Lewis wrote a letter to a friend about pain, fear, and death:


“Pain is terrible, but surely you need not have fear as well? Can you not see death as the friend and deliverer? It means stripping off that body which is tormenting you: like taking off a shirt or getting out of a dungeon. What is there to be afraid of? You have long attempted (and none of us does more) a Christian life. Your sins are confessed and absolved. Has this world been so kind to you that you should leave it with regret? There are better things ahead than any we leave behind.


Remember, though we struggle against things because we are afraid of them, it is often the other way round – we get afraid because we struggle. Are you struggling, resisting? Don’t you think Our Lord says to you ‘Peace, child, peace. Relax. Let go. Underneath are the everlasting arms. Let go, I will catch you. Do you trust me so little?’


Of course, this may not be the end. Then make it a good rehearsal.


Yours (and like you a tired traveller near the journey’s end), Jack

From The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume III

Forgiveness is enough





Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Psalm 32:1


If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9


Our recent devotional scripture was on forgiveness. After the reading, Marcia said, “If we received nothing else in this life, only forgiveness, that would be enough wouldn’t it?”  I agreed. Do you? If you never got the job or house of your dreams, if your relationships never completely resolved to your satisfaction, if your health failed and your investments went south, when all the game playing is done… would God be enough? It is said that the richest person is not the one who has the most, but the one who needs the least. What do you need to be happy?


I wonder if we had only our health, wealth, and prosperous lives, but missed enjoying daily fellowship with God, would we be among the most wretched souls on earth.  C. S. Lewis once observed that the one who has God and everything else has no more than the one who has God only. And yet we long for more and more. Or maybe we long for so much that is actually less … less than what ALL of God’s best for us.


As you allow your mind to scan across the entirety of your life to its end, if you found yourself with God’s forgiveness and grace, would that be enough?


If you need forgiveness, ask God to forgive you.  He is waiting for you.


If you are forgiven, be thankful in all you have already been given!

Let your heart say, “It is enough.”



Do you have all you want?



C.S. Lewis observes in his book, The Problem Of Pain:
“We find God an interruption. As St Augustine says, ‘God wants to give us something, but cannot, because our hands are full — there’s nowhere for Him to put it.’ Or as a friend of mine said, ‘We regard God as an airman regards his parachute; it’s there for emergencies but he hopes he’ll never have to use it.’ ”


Do you have that feeling that your ‘hands are full’ and ‘busy’ is more a description of who you are than what you do? When pain and sorrow comes to live with you having “all you want” takes on new meaning, doesn’t it? No one cares about a new car or a cute house in times of deepest trouble. Suffering has a way of grabbing our attention and focusing our goals on what is truly important.
Lewis observes the role of pain and sorrow in getting our attention:

“If the first and lowest operation of pain shatters the illusion that all is well, the second shatters the illusion that what we have is our own and enough for us. Everyone has noticed how hard it is to turn our thoughts to God when everything is going well with us. We ‘have all we want’ is a terrible saying when ‘all’ does not include God. Now God, who has made us, knows what we are and that our happiness lies in Him. Yet we will not seek it in Him as long as he leaves us any other resort where it can even plausibly be looked for. While what we call ‘our own life’ remains agreeable we will not surrender it to Him. What then can God do in our interests but make ‘our own life’ less agreeable to us, and take away the plausible source of false happiness?”


Do you have all you want? I remember the wife of a former Maytag executive commenting how life was more fulfilling and exciting when they were less wealthy and striving to make ends meet. If all we want doesn’t include God it will never be enough. It’s like having an emergency parachute but not the ability to truly catch your breath and find peace.


Job 33:4
“The Spirit of God has made me, And the breath of the Almighty gives me life.”


Acts 17:25
“…nor is (God) served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things;”



The other side of the door

Have you ever watched an amazing nature scene on TV or in a movie and wished you could jump right into the picture? Or perhaps you’ve actually been in a marvelous place filled with wonder and beauty, but found that you wanted to interact with the environment in an even richer manner. We see the sunshine and feel its warmth and yet walk into the house and have lost it already. We revel in the beauty of the colors of the earth, their textures and sounds, yet we do not become entwined with them. We remain partly in and partly out of the scene.

That is a bit like our participation of so much of life.
“At present we are on the outside of the world, the wrong side of the door. We discern the freshness and purity of morning, but they do not make us fresh and pure. We cannot mingle with the splendours we see.” C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory

We experience some happiness but find lasting joy, that contentment with the fullness of life, so evasive. We work hard, enduring much drudgery and stress, so as to attain a few moments or a day of rest. We play hard when we have a chance but miss the power of quiet moments of celebration that restore us. It has been said that we worship our work, we work at our play, and we play at our worship, delegating the latter to an hour a week.

But be encouraged, there is an answer to our dilemma and faith is the key to opening the door so we can see the other side. We know that faith allows us to see the end of this life and at least a faint image of the next. That time when we will be filled with the glory of God to a degree not fully experienced here in these mortal and temporary bodies. We will not just be spectators, but will participate fully in the wonder of the glory of the Lord. What an eternal day of rejoicing that will be! Now we hurt and grieve but then there will be no more tears, no more sorrow. Now we play with childish games but then we will pick up joy that satisfies completely.

Can you allow this image to guard your heart and mind even now? Yes, we are perhaps on the ‘wrong’ side of the door to experience it fully. But a faith that grows such vision brings great hope for the present moment too. More on this, ‘heaven on earth,’ in tomorrow’s post. For the time being, reward yourself with a quiet moment to contemplate the wonder of being in the presence of God. He wills it and invites you to have such hope.