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Showing posts from April, 2015

Donegal

This is the view from our hotel window in Donegal, Ireland, today. The last time I was here was 33 years ago. I was nineteen then and questioning many things about Christianity. By the time I reached Donegal, on my four week solo tour of the British Isles, I had a powerful head cold and outside my tiny B&B the rain was pouring down. There was nothing for me to do but lie in bed and read. So I picked up Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis.

When I read these words, I found many of my questions answered....
Then comes the real shock. Among these Jews there suddenly turns up a man who goes about talking as if He was God. He claims to forgive sins. He says He has always existed. He says He is coming to judge the world at the end of time. Now let us get this clear. Among Pantheists, like the Indians, anyone might say that he was a part of God, or one with God: there would he nothing very odd about it. But this man, since He was a Jew, could not mean that kind of God. God, in their language, …

C. S. Lewis' Ireland

For the past several days my friend Russ Head and I  have been touring C. S. Lewis' Ireland, scouting locations for a future CSL educational tour. I will share here a few of the sites we have seen, following as much as possible the chronology of Lewis' life. Lewis was born at Dundela Villas in East Belfast, Northern Ireland, on November 29, 1898.
Lewis was baptized by his maternal grandfather, The Reverend Thomas Hamilton, in St. Mark's Dundela, in January 1899.
In 1905, the Lewis family moved to this house which Lewis' father had built in what was then the countryside on the outskirts of Belfast. They named it Little Lea. Here C. S. Lewis composed and illustrated his first stories about Boxen in the Little End Room on the third floor. The window to that room is just visible in the photo above.
Lewis' boyhood imagination must have been stirred by the Irish landscape filled with castles like Carrickfergus (above) and the beauty of places he saw along the Antrim Coast w…

Taking a Break

Since we have finished up our study of The Apostles' Creed, far quicker than I originally thought we would, I am going to take a break from blogging for the next ten days or so.

Then I hope to be back with some posts from Ireland and England where I will be from April 22-May 8, scouting locations for a future C. S. Lewis Tour.

The Last Battle

Reepicheep, the Valiant Mouse, in the New Narnia
To my mind, one of the most wonderful descriptions of everlasting life, outside of the Bible, is that written by C. S. Lewis in The Last Battle, the final book in the Chronicles of Narnia series. As most of my readers will remember, at the end of the book, Lucy, Edmund, and Peter, three children whom we first met in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, experience a railway accident in our world and suddenly find themselves in a strange land that is incredibly beautiful and breathtaking in its splendor. Within this land they discover many of the people whom they loved in their life on earth and in Narnia. While the children are still trying to figure out exactly where they are, they discover something even better about this special land; Aslan, the great Lion, the Lord of Narnia, is there.

Lewis writes,
The light ahead was growing stronger. Lucy saw that a great series of many-coloured cliffs led up in front of them like a giant's st…

The Life Everlasting

In The Apostles' Creed we confess not only belief in the resurrection of the body but also in the life everlasting What is that life going to be like? To get a glimpse, one place we can turn for answers is Revelation 21:1-5....Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,“See, the home of God is among mortals.He will dwell with them;they will be his peoples,and God himself will be with them; he will wipe every tear from their eyes.Death will be no more;mourning and crying and pain will be no more,for the first things have passed away.”And the one who was seated on the throne said, “See, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.”From this passage I think we can learn at least thr…

Robert Schuller (1926-2015)

I thank God for the life of Robert Schuller who passed away last week at the age of 88. Yes, I realize that his theology stirred up controversy for some. Others lament the way Crystal Cathedral Ministries ended. But I still thank God for Robert Schuller and here is the reason why....

When I was twelve years old, in 1975, living in Southern California, my family did not regularly attend worship services in any church. However, I did watch church on television with my mother. And one of the people we watched was Robert Schuller. I will never forget the Sunday he preached on forgiveness. Suddenly, I understood for the first time in my life that Jesus died on the cross for me so that I could be forgiven of my sin. I still remember some of Schuller's illustrations and sayings like: "When God buries the axe he doesn't leave the handle sticking above ground." I received Jesus into my life in a personal way that Sunday. I received God's love and forgiveness. Suddenly, I f…

Our Bodies will be like Jesus'

A third thing we learn from 1 Corinthians 15 is that our resurrection bodies will be like Christ's. Paul compared the natural, earthly body of the first man, Adam, with the spiritual, heavenly body of the last Adam, who is Christ. Paul said that we, who are believers in Jesus, will bear the likeness of Christ, just as we have borne the likeness of Adam. Therefore, if we want to know what our resurrection bodies will be like, then we must look to Jesus.

Jesus' resurrection body could be touched. (John 20:17) He was recognizable as the same Jesus who walked the shores of Galilee with his disciples. (John 21:12) In his resurrection body, Jesus was able to eat. (Luke 24:42-43) Jesus' resurrection body was similar to our earthly bodies in these ways, yet it was also different. Jesus was able to appear, vanish, and move unseen from one location to another. (Luke 24:31, 36)

E. Stanley Jones once told the story of a layman, a newspaper man, who was called upon to conduct the funeral…

Our Bodies, Present & Future

Yesterday, we learned from 1 Corinthians 15 that there is going to be a certain continuity between our present physical bodies and our future resurrection bodies. However, 1 Corinthians 15 also suggests a certain discontinuity. What we see here is continuity in one way, discontinuity in another. The discontinuity will simply be this: our future resurrection bodies will have greater splendour, power, glory, and durability than our present physical bodies. Paul talks about this in verses 39 to 44.

The point at which Paul's argument can get confusing is when he begins to talk about the natural and the spiritual body. It almost sounds like Paul is saying that the resurrection body will be immaterial. But I think this would be a misunderstanding of Paul's use of the word "spiritual" in this context. Here, I believe, spiritual means "created and sustained by the Holy Spirit," as in 1 Corinthians 2:13 where Paul says, "This is what we speak, not in words taugh…

The Resurrection of the Body

One helpful place to turn in order to understand the New Testament teaching about the resurrection of the body is 1 Corinthians 15:35-54. There Paul writes...But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?” Fool! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. And as for what you sow, you do not sow the body that is to be, but a bare seed, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body. Not all flesh is alike, but there is one flesh for human beings, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish. There are both heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is one thing, and that of the earthly is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; indeed, star differs from star in glory.So it is with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable.…

Golf in Heaven?

The story is told of a Scottish Presbyterian preacher who met an angel one day. The preacher had one very important question to ask: "Will there be golf in heaven?"

The angel replied, "I'll have to ask my superior and get back to you on that one."

So the angel went away and came back the next day and said, "I've got good news and bad news. The good news is: yes, there is golf in heaven. The bad news is that you are teeing off tomorrow morning at 9 o'clock."

I imagine many of us have heard that story at one time or another, in one form or another. One thing I find interesting about the story is that it is a "good news, bad news" story. For the Christian it really ought to be a "good news, better news" story. Because of the resurrection of Jesus which we celebrate on Easter, we need not fear death. Of course, dying and pain are fearful things. But we need not fear death. Because Jesus is risen, we too will rise, if we put our fa…

From Forgiven to Forgiving

Jesus has taught us to pray, in what we know as The Lord's Prayer: "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us." Immediately after teaching his disciples this prayer, Jesus adds:   
"For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." (Matthew 6:14-15)
The good news is that the Jesus who served and washed Judas' feet on Maundy Thursday, the Jesus who died on the cross on Good Friday and who prayed from that cross, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do," is also the Jesus who can enable us to forgive those who have sinned against us. 
Corrie ten Boom shares the following story in her book, The Hiding Place, that powerfully illustrates this truth....It was a church service in Munich that I saw him, the former S. S. man who had stood guard at the shower room door in the processing centre at R…

The Gift of Repentance

The Bible indicates that repentance is another key step we need to take along the road of life if we want to experience God's forgiveness. Repentance and forgiveness go together.
In Luke 24:47 we read that "repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem." In Acts 2:38 Peter says, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins." In Acts 5:31 we read that Jesus is the one who gives "repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel." And, as we saw yesterday, "He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy." (Proverbs 28:13)

But what is repentance? The Greek word, metanoia, means a "change of mind". Christian repentance is a change of mind that leads to a change in direction. Repentance is something we need to do when we first come to Christ and it is something we need to continue …