Friday, July 18, 2014

Rats in the Cellar



"When I come to my evening prayers and try to reckon up the sins of the day, nine times out of ten the most obvious one is some sin against charity; I have sulked or snapped or sneered or snubbed or stormed. And the excuse that immediately springs to my mind is that the provocation was so sudden and unexpected; I was caught off my guard, I had not time to collect myself. Now that may be an extenuating circumstance as regards those particular acts: they would obviously be worse if they had been deliberate and premeditated. On the other hand, surely what a man does when he is taken off his guard is the best evidence for what sort of a man he is? Surely what pops out before the man has time to put on a disguise is the truth? If there are rats in a cellar you are most likely to see them if you go in very suddenly. But the suddenness does not create the rats: it only prevents them from hiding. In the same way the suddenness of the provocation does not make me an ill-tempered man; it only shows me what an ill-tempered man I am. The rats are always there in the cellar, but if you go in shouting and noisily they will have taken cover before you switch on the light."


- CS Lewis in Mere Christianity.


Sunday, June 22, 2014

For Whom Do You Work?

One day Jesus said to his disciplies: "I'd like you to carry a stone for me." He didn't give any explanation. So the disciples looked around for a stone to carry, and Peter, being the practical sort, sought out the smallest stone he could possibly find. After all, Jesus didn't give any regulations for weight and size! So he put it in his pocket. 

Jesus then said: "Follow me." He led them on a journey. About noontime Jesus had everyone sit down. He waved his hands and all the stones turned to bread. He said, "Now it's time for lunch." In a few seconds Peter's lunch was over. 

When lunch was done Jesus told them to stand up. He said again, "I'd like you to carry a stone for me." This time Peter said, "Aha! Now I get it!" So he looked and saw a boulder. He hoisted it on his back and it was painful, it made him stagger. But he said, "I can't wait for supper." 

Jesus then said: "Follow Me." He led them on a journey, with Peter barely being able to keep up. Around supper time Jesus led them to the side of the river. He said, "Now everyone throw your stones into the water." 

They did. 

Then he said, "Follow Me," and began to walk. Peter and the others looked at him dumbfounded. Jesus sighed and said, "Don't you remember what I asked you to do? Who were you carrying the stone for?"

- Elisabeth Elliot, These Strange Ashes. Pg. 132

Friday, June 13, 2014

Screwtape on God's Methods.

You must have often wondered why the enemy [God] does not make more use of his power to be sensibly present to human souls in any degree he chooses and at any moment. But you now see that the irresistible and the indisputable are the two weapons which the very nature of his scheme forbids him to use. Merely to over-ride a human will (as his felt presence in any but the faintest and most mitigated degree would certainly do) would be for him useless. He cannot ravish. He can only woo. For his ignoble idea is to eat the cake and have it; the creatures are to be one with him, but yet themselves; merely to cancel them, or assimilate them, will not serve…. Sooner or later he withdraws, if not in fact, at least from their conscious experience, all supports and incentives. He leaves the creature to stand up on its own legs—to carry out from the will alone duties which have lost all relish…. He cannot “tempt” to virtue as we do to vice. He wants them to learn to walk and must therefore take away his hand…. Our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending, to do our enemy’s will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys. - Uncle Screwtape
 
C. S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Dallas Willard on Contemporary Methodism

The Methodists were, of course, originally so called because they believed in methodical "godly exercise" as the sure route to spiritual maturity. John Wesley's writings and life spell out the "method" of the Methodists in detail. But almost nothing of it remains in current practice, and in this denomination we have one of the clearest illustrations of the tendency to admire a great Christian leader in words, but never to think of simply doing what he or she did in order to do the work of the Kingdom of God. 
- Dallas Willard. The Spirit of the Disciplines. pg. 146.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Beneath the Sun

I was in for quite a surprise as my curious hand hath slain the day

I would not alter all the time but proceeded with caution before it fell
With joy enthroned o'er all my life I cannot find repose there
Yes I am here by diligent work and seldom cease beneath the sun.
- Anonymous

Oswald Chambers on Habits and Redemption

The question of forming habits on the basis of the grace of God is a very vital one. To ignore it is to fall into the snare of the Pharisee--the grace of God is praised, Jesus Christ is praised, the Redemption is praised, but the practical everyday life evades working it out. If we refuse to practice, it is not God's grace that fails when a crisis comes, but our own nature. When the crisis comes, we ask God to help us, but He cannot if we have not made our nature our ally. The practicing is ours, not God's. God regenerates us and puts us in contact with all His divine resources, but He cannot make us walk according to His will.

From The Psychology of Redemption (p. 26-27) by Oswald Chambers

Saturday, May 17, 2014

I, too, will do it.

"While perusing the life of Our Lord and the saints, he began to reflect, saying to himself: "What if I should do what St. Francis did?" "What if I should act like St. Dominic?" He pondered over these things in his mind, and kept continually proposing to himself serious and difficult things. He seemed to feel a certain readiness for doing them, with no other reason except this thought: "St. Dominic did this; I, too, will do it." "St. Francis did this; therefore I will do it." 
- The Autobiography of St. Ignatius