Journeying through ‘Mere Christianity’

P1050386editIt is a bumpy ( and slow!) road trying to read this ‘Mere Christianity’ book. A deep and critical way of thinking, that, as a non-educated (that is, no post secondary schooling) individual, I’m a little unaccustomed to. Maybe perhaps why, I am all the more determined to complete such a book.
Chapter 1 reveals that we think we, and others, ought to behave a particular way in particular situations, and that sometimes, we do not in fact, behave that way.
I have now finished chapters 2 and 3, in which C.S. Lewis spends most of the time making a case as to what the ‘Law of Human Nature’ – Or, the ‘Moral Law’ – is, and how it differs from things like, our instincts, or the Law of Nature.
“The Moral Law tells us the tune we have to play: our instincts are merely the keys.” ( C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity; pg.10)

“The law of gravity tells you what stones do if you drop them; but the Law of Human Nature tells you what human beings ought to do and do not. In other words, when you are dealing with humans, something else comes in above and beyond the actual facts…” ( pg. 17)

I look forward to seeing how C.S. Lewis develops his case for the Christian faith.
I may say (  or type, rather…) this repeatedly, but I know this book is not the be-all, and end-all to everything Christian. I’m just reading this book, like how I would read a college text-book; approaching openly, but cautiously; just hoping to gain a little insight, but knowing full-well that C.S. Lewis is just a man – not God.

Have you read any Christian books that are worth reading? (And are more than just a self-help book?)
(Have you read this one?)

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A Colossal Truth in Colossians

Verse of the Day

Colossians 2:6-8 ~
6So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.
See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces[a] of this world rather than on Christ. 

Being and Doing and Morning

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While doing my devotions this morning, included was this excerpt from The Community of the King By Howard A. Snyder;
” Truly Christian transformation of culture comes through Christ-like ( and hence sacrificial) love, community and being.
But this fact by no means cancels out the responsibility to do, to act, to walk in the words of God. Rather, the being and the doing go together. The being is fundamental, but the doing is a natural result. ”

Too easily I forget to live in faith; and what I do is no longer a result of a Christ-like life, but rather a forced task of my own efforts, in hopes of attaining Christ-likeness.
And doing things backwards can sure be draining.

My thoughts of the morning.

How Often We Forget…

A passage that was read in today’s sermon.

Matthew 6:25-34

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?[a] 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

I think I need this truth engraved onto my heart! O me of little faith.

When you wake up in the morning, what are the first concerns on your mind? What to wear? What to eat? Money? That meeting? Job? Interview? Dreams? Facebook updates?
Do you wake up and concern yourself with how to live kingdom first?

Galatians 2:16-21; Justified by Faith

“16 Know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.17 “If, while we seek to be justified in Christ, it becomes evident that we ourselves are sinners, does that mean that Christ promotes sin? Absolutely not! 18 If I rebuild what I destroyed, I prove that I am a law-breaker. 19 For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”
~~~~~~~~

Looking back, even as recent as a few years ago, I see how… naive I was in my faith. Like somehow, my heart remained oblivious to some of the fundamental truths that shape me today. The depth of understanding I had regarding God, and his love; the trinity, the crucifixion of Christ; The Holy Spirit and its fruits, etc, were memorized stories from years of attending Church, and a Catholic School. I never questioned it; I never dug deeper. I accepted these things, placed them high on the shelf, then committed myself to being “good”. And by my efforts, I could make it up there. Or so I thought.
Through God’s grace, time revealed how flawed my thinking was. How untrue, and uneducated my understanding was.
In the above scripture, it states we are not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ.”
What is ‘the Law’? Paul makes reference to it over and over again in the New Testament. I admit, in my early years of being a Christian this “law” thing completely baffled me. We are no longer slaves to the law? Huh?
I googled it, and this is what I found;

” When “the law” is mentioned in the Bible,  it harks back to the days of the Old Testament. There  are hundreds of commands given to the Israelites, but  the phrase “the law” refers specifically to  the compilation of decrees found in the first five books  of the Bible. This whole body of law was given the name  Torah. ”
( For the rest of this article, you can go to : http://www.biblica.com/bibles/faq/17/ )

Why the Law? Paul says in Romans 3:20 :
”  20 Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.”
We all sin and fall short of the glory of God. Some may find this almost devastating; ‘Has everything I have done been for nothing??’.
Rather it should be humbling, I think. To know that the God of the Universe sent his only Son as the final and Ultimate sacrifice for the atonement of our sins.
As I type all this, the hymn ” How deep the Father’s Love for us” starts playing in my head.
Once again, I am reminded that it is simply not about me. God is who he is; what I do, say or believe won’t change that. Despite my flaws, He loves me and invites me join in His kingdom work. To live by faith.

Blessings and Lessons

In recently becoming aware of my joy in writing, I was asked if I would consider writing a piece for our church’s monthly newsletter called “The Chronicle”, highlighting a few things we, as Young Adults, have been studying and learning these past few weeks. Of course, I happily agreed to this, and here is what I came up with!

Blessings and Lessons: My Young Adult Journey So Far

I’ve been blessed and challenged throughout the past few years, while attending the Young Adults group.  The past year – now going onto year two – my husband and I have had the pleasure of hosting the group at our home. Besides the occasional frantic cleanup before 7pm, ( How did the girl on ‘Big Comfy Couch’ do this in 10 seconds??) we really enjoy being able to serve in this way. Bake some goodies, meet new people, but best of all, have a time of prayer and fellowship.
Anyone who has attended Church of Christ more than – say, twice – would have perhaps noticed some emphasis on ‘kingdom-first living’; A way of living that I had thought about previously in its general concept, but never at any length until recent years, when I finally heard it put in to words.
Kingdom-first living? What does that look like? How do I know I’m on the right path?
And as I asked big questions, I expected to find big answers.
This past summer, I felt I was ready to do something bigger. Something grande. Maybe I could change lives! I started praying and seeking out new opportunities to serve.  I don’t know why I suddenly felt I was the judge on what was “more important” or “bigger” when it came to serving, but after a few months, I started to see that I was thinking about it all wrong. The things I thought I should be diving into and trying out, were not necessarily areas in which God had gifted me.
The young adults group has played an important role in my walk with Christ. It reminds me that kingdom-first living is a daily process, and really comes to a blossom, out of the little seeds we sow each day. Each week, I feel encouraged and challenged to continue seeking and growing.
We have already in these past few weeks, covered quite the range of subjects in such a short time. I will attempt to give a quick summary of each week thus far!

Week 1: ‘Top reasons why Young Adults leave the Church’. Though we came up with quite a list; from relevance, to judgement, to lack of scripture knowledge, etc; the top reason – to my surprise – was that the church was viewed as too overprotective. A Barna group survey said that many Young adults’ experiences of Christianity felt stifling. In the survey, about 23% expressed that “Christians demonize everything outside the church”; another 22% felt that “church (ignores) the problems of the real world”.
Young adult or not; would you agree or disagree?

Week 2: ‘So many religions, can they all be right?’ We watched a short DVD clip, where several young people shared a little bit about what they believed in. The young man leading the discussion, ( Unfortunately I cannot recall his name) pointed out some similarities, but also differences that directly contradicted each other. For example, how one belief may claim there to be no God; another, many gods; and still another, only One true God. I was reminded how important it is to really know what exactly it is we believe in, but to also take a little time to understand other religions. Perhaps so that, when we speak truth, it does not come across as arrogant or close-minded.

Week 3: ‘Whose name do you wear?’ This was a time of study and prayer. Anxious? Stressed? Jesus reminds us in Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

Week 4: ‘Simply Enough’; we watched a DVD discussion between Tony Campolo and Shane Claiborne. Are we living the life Jesus wants us to live?
Tony brought up 1 John 3:16-18 ~
“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” ( NIV)

I was challenged by this topic. I am a penny-pincher. I have trouble spending money, and am not ashamed to use coupons at the grocery store. But I have come to notice that such habits have also influenced how I give. I am capable of being so much more generous than I am, and hopefully will learn this in time. I am grateful for a husband who has a naturally generous heart. Perhaps I can learn from him!
On the last sunday of October, ( After some heavy snowfall postponed our original plan for a service night) we took some time for prayer and worship. I think it is in these moments I become most aware of God’s presence. It is in these moments, my heart becomes light and vulnerable. There is one verse that pops up repeatedly in my head, from the song “Jesus all for Jesus”;
“All of my / ambitions, hopes and plans… I surrender these / into your hands…”
Do I?
Do You?
As I continue on this walk, I look forward to learning more about who God is, and how he might use this Young Adults group to bless my husband and I, as well our fellow group attendees.~


*Spiritual High!* Then it Dies…

Thud – thud – thud – thud – thud – thud – thud.
The bass is cranked up. Drums playing so loud, your adrenalin starts to race. Pounding in your ears, your chest. Life, right now. Tens of thousands of people clapping, dancing, chanting, pumping their fists:
“Yes Lord! Yes Lord! Yes, Yes, Lord!”
Just thinking about it, gets my heart beating a little faster. I love concerts. Especially weekend-long gigs. Like YC, (Youth Conference) in Edmonton. Or Creation Fest in the States. It was a time to escape the normalities of life, and dive head first into a world of fellow believers; young people who seemed to be on fire for Jesus. The energy was contagious.
I have seen a few in my time. I loved dancing. I loved singing so loud my voice was hoarse the next day. There was nowhere I’d rather be.
And in between the heart-pounding concerts, would be speakers that would challenge us; Shake up our world a little bit, but also encourage. And I’m sure some of us must have been thinking, “Yes! This is what being a Christian is all about! I’m totally going to share this faith with everyone I know! My Life is totally changed! God is Awesome!”
And then we’d start jumping up and down to the next song.
The momentum could keep up like this all weekend. This… Spiritual High, I’ll call it.
And then…
It just dies.
And some cycles don’t cease with time, do they? Should they…?
There have been times, where I can come home from church on Sunday, refreshed and challenged on how I can better live for God’s kingdom. And often, I will share these ideas with my Husband.
Then Monday rolls in abruptly, scrapes me off the bed, and plunks me smack-dab in the middle of chaos. Or dullness. Either way, it seems everything from the day before is no longer relevant or even evident in my routine-programmed mind.
I hate this.
Don’t you?
It bothers and pains me to see how easy it is to get sucked back into ‘normal life’. Almost as if this chunk of our lives; family, jobs/school ( All blessed and given by God) is the main act, and Church and faith and devotions – well, that’s just kind of our go-to plan.
I guess what I’m getting at, is that I am guilty of saying ‘Yes Lord!’ with my lips, then turning around, and having my life and actions say ‘No, No, Nope!’
This may have some similarities to previous posts, but I think it’s because this idea of Kingdom Living has been placed heavily on my heart this past year.
And day by day, I’m just trying to figure out what that looks like.