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Archive for the ‘C.S. Lewis’ Category

doorway to heaven…

From my reading for today – with apologies to the author:

I give you hope — hope that the best part of your life is not behind you.  Rather, it stretches out before you gloriously: into an eternity of experiences that will get better and better and better.  For now, though, you inhabit a world of death, sorrow, crying, and pain.  Let the hope of heaven empower you to live well in this broken world that is passing away.  In heaven I will wipe away every tear from your eyes — permanently!

If this world were all there is, it would be tragic beyond description.  When the day of the Lord comes, I will destroy the entire universe as you know it.  And I will replace it with a new universe where My followers will live forever in ceaseless ecstasy.  Let this hope give you courage to keep holding your head up high as you endure suffering and sorrow.

The best part of your life lies ahead — stored up for you in heaven, awaiting your arrival.  This is true for all Christians, both young and old.  As you grow older and deal with infirmities, you may feel as if your life is closing in on you.  Physically, your limitations do increase with age and illness.  However, your spiritual life can open up ever wider as your soul grows strong in the nourishing Light of My Presence.  When you “graduate” to heaven, your soul-Joy will instantly expand — exponentially!  Blessed is the one who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.

–from 40 Days with Jesus by Sarah Young

The best is yet to come.  No matter how sad, or happy, I am here, heaven will be so good it will wipe everything else away.  That’s hard to think about.  Sometimes I’m very happy!  But when I think about all those happy times, they are a little poignant, because I know they are short-lived, or there’s something physical or mental that is keeping me from fully enjoying the time.

Like when we backpacked in Banff — the scenery was glorious, and the weather (for the most part) was great, but the packs were heavy (especially at 7500-8000 feet!), my friend was petrified of bears, we got sore and mosquito-bitten, we didn’t see any animals really, and we got cold or sweaty by turns, depending on the time of day and the altitude.  We got caught in the thunderstorm, and when we made it to Mt. Assiniboine, we couldn’t really even see the mountain because of the weather!  We had to leave without seeing what we came to see.  When I think of all that, it sounds terrible, but it wasn’t; it was a wonderful trip!  I think the scenery made up for everything, even the bad knot in my calf so I had to turn around and walk backwards down every hill.  I remember all those things, but I would go back again in a second.  And stay longer!

Mt. Assiniboine

Heaven will be that glorious, with the things that bothered us (pain, fear, discomfort, hunger, physical weakness) gone and the things we wished for (animals, view of the mountain, more of our friends there, good weather) all there, and perfectly too!  And the back-of-the-mind worries Kent and I had, like worry about money, whether our car was safe where we’d parked it, and whether I would get a job for the upcoming school year when we got back from playing around in Banff (I did), will all be gone too — we can enjoy heaven with our whole hearts, with no reservations or niggling worries. I’ll be in perfect shape — no muscle soreness, extreme fatigue, or little injuries — pain-free and able to do anything with ease and joy!  All of my family and friends will be there and doing wonderful things with me too, and everyone I meet will be a potential friend.  There’s no ‘kindred spirit’ here on earth like the kinship all of us who make it to heaven will feel — a soul-deep connection because of our love for God, who will have changed our hearts to be like His.

And over all that wonderfulness will be that feeling I get only sometimes; the overwhelming, irrepressible presence of God.  So full that I can’t contain it in this human form, but must cry for excess of space to feel such a thing in my humanity.  In heaven it will be more, immediate and always there.  Now on earth I must exercise my soul — like drinking the light in C.S. Lewis’ Dawn Treader — so I can get more and more accustomed to glory in my heart…and then, then He will make me immortal.  And the inexpressible love of God will fill me to overflowing, and life will truly begin!

The King took the bucket [of water] in both hands, raised it to his lips, sipped, then drank deeply and raised his head.  His face was changed.  Not only his eyes but everything about him seemed to be brighter.

“Yes,” he said, “it is sweet.  That’s real water, that.  I’m not sure that it isn’t going to kill me.  But it is the death I would have chosen — if I’d known about it till now.”

“What do you mean?” asked Edmund.

“It — it’s like light more than anything else,” said Caspian.

“That is what it is,” said Reepicheep.  “Drinkable light.  We must be very near the end of the world now.”

There was a moment’s silence and then Lucy knelt down on the deck and drank from the bucket.

“It’s the loveliest thing I have ever tasted,” she said with a kind of gasp.  “But oh — it’s strong.  We shan’t need to eat anything now.”

And one by one everybody on board drank.  And for a long time they were all silent.  They felt almost too well and strong to bear it; and presently they began to notice another result.  As I have said before, there had been too much light ever since they left the island of Ramandu — the sun too large (though not too hot), the sea too bright, the air too shining.  Now, the light grew no less — if anything, it increased — but they could bear it.  They could see more light than they had ever seen before.  And the deck and the sail and their own faces and bodies became brighter and brighter and every rope shone.  And next morning, when the sun rose, now five or six times its old size, they stared hard into it and could see the very feathers of the birds that came flying from it.

— from The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.  For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.

Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.

–2 Peter 1:5-11, 19 (italics added)

Then Aslan turned to them and said: “You do not yet look so happy as I mean you to be.”

Lucy said, “We’re so afraid of being sent away, Aslan.  And you have sent us back into our own world so often.”

“No fear of that,” said Aslan. “Have you not guessed?”

Their hearts leaped and a wild hope rose within them.

“There was a real railway accident,” said Aslan softly.  “Your father and mother and all of you are — as you used to call it in the Shadowlands — dead.  The term is over: the holidays have begun.  The dream is ended: this is the morning.”

And as He spoke He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them.  And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after.  But for them it was only the beginning of the real story.  All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth had read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.

— from The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis (italics added)

However, as it is written:

“What no eye has seen,
what no ear has heard,
and what no human mind has conceived”—
the things God has prepared for those who love him—

–1 Corinthians 2:9

And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying.  There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.

–Revelation 21:4

“The dream is ended: this is the morning.”

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It seems like someone is conspiring to make me realize how selfish I am.  A blog I subscribe to, Becoming Minimalist, recently had a post I wanted to reblog, called The Antidote to Selfishness is You.  I’m including it below, with my comments.

“Selfishness is that detestable vice which no one will forgive in others, and no one is without himself.” – Henry Ward Beecher

We live in a world of unquenchable greed and selfishness. We see it all around us. And often lament its existence:

  • We lash out against the greed of politicians.
  • We despise the self-serving culture of corporate greed.
  • We argue against those who spend massive resources pushing their agenda.
  • We protest the selfish motives of many wars and ruling parties.
  • We cry out against the injustice of unnecessary poverty and hunger.

With little or no effort, we recognize the ugly effects of greed and selfishness on our society, culture, and nations. The greed of others makes this world a less pleasurable place to live for all of us. We wish they would change for the sake of everyone. In some cases, we even unify and protest to pressure them to change.

All the while, our personal greed rarely goes challenged. Recognizing the negative effects of corporate selfishness is easy. But identifying our own selfish motivation is more difficult to accomplish. It is, after all, far more painful to discover and admit.

As a result, we rarely recognize how selfishness within us is…

  • contributing to the feelings of jealousy we experience.
  • causing strife in our relationships with others.
  • negatively impacting our relationship with our spouse.
  • motivating so many of the unhealthy decisions we make with our money.
  • preventing us from meeting the apparent needs of others.
  • keeping us from experiencing love, joy, hope, gratitude, generosity.
  • hindering us from finding true contentment.

It is healthy and wise to recognize the greed of our society in which we live. We need voices speaking out against it… loudly. And history will continue to recognize and praise the heroes who took a stand against it. May each of us be bold as we champion society’s selfless pursuits.

But as we do, may we begin in our own hearts. May we never neglect the pursuit of removing selfishness from our own affections. May we strive to consider not only our own interests, but also the interests of others. May we routinely place ourselves in the plight of others. And may we seek to meet their needs with the same effort we seek to meet our own.

The antidote for selfishness is you. And the battle has to begin there.

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It’s very easy to condemn selfishness in others, and very hard to battle it in oneself.  As if that post weren’t enough (it probably wasn’t, obviously), last night my chapter in the book I’m reading, Daughters of God, was about self-centeredness.  Here are some of the quotes I found especially striking:

You must have things your own way, and unless you do, you are perfectly miserable…you have…but little self-control and do not exercise the strong will you possess to hold in control your own thoughts and your own feelings…you cannot enjoy wholeness of character, which is true sanctification, unless you steadily and earnestly discipline yourself…Get your mind off yourself; be uncomplaining; be cheerful…I entreat of you to hide in Jesus, to be His own true child, walking in love and and obedience to all His requirements, exemplifying in your life the character of Jesus — tender and thoughtful of others, considering them just as good and just as deserving as yourself of conveniences and comforts and happiness…You will never perfect Christian character until you think less of self and have a better opinion of others…Religion ever imparts power to its possessor to restrain, control, and balance the character and intellect and emotions…Every act of ours has its influence on others, therefore every thought and every motive is to be under the control of the Spirit of God…Self is to be crucified, not now and then, but daily, and the physical, mental, and spiritual must be subordinate to the will of God…All the peculiarities given us as an inheritance or acquired by indulgence or through erroneous education must be thoroughly overcome, decidedly resisted…The religion of Christ will bind and restrain every unholy pasison, will stimulate to energy, to self-discipline and industry even in the matters of homely, everyday life…Jesus wants you to be happy, but you cannot be happy in having your own way and following the impulse of your own heart. 

–Ellen G.  White, Daughters of God, pp.165-170

And to bring it home, I had just read the above selection for my daily devotions and then got angry at something and took it out on Kent.  It in no way was his fault, and I was petty and mean, and he called me on it.  I spent the day feeling really bad about myself and asking him to forgive me every time I thought of it (which was often).  You would think I would have been able to think of the reading and do better — the worst part was that I did think of it, and thought that I shouldn’t take it out on Kent, and then I did anyway.  I feel like a really horrible person.  I suppose deep down, we all are — the “rats in the cellar” thing from C.S. Lewis — but I guess I usually feel pretty good about myself.  I will have to spend a lot of time praying for help to control my temper and my habit of lashing out verbally.

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In the midst of a life of active labor, Enoch steadfastly maintained his communion with God.  The greater and more pressing his labors, the more constant and earnest were his prayers…Communing thus with God, Enoch came more and more to reflect the divine image.  His face was radiant with a holy light, even the light that shineth in the face of Jesus…We, too, are to walk with God.  When we do this, our faces will be lighted up by the brightness of His presence…And those who will be translated at the close of time, will be those who commune with God on earth.

—E.G. White, from Sons and Daughters of God

I read that last night, thinking how much easier it must have been during Enoch’s day.  No money, no computers, out in nature all the time — it must have been so much better then.  Just step out of your door into still-pristine creation and talk to the Creator.  But people were very wicked then, so I’m sure there must have been some sort of similar tugs from ungodly activities.  Enoch was somehow untouched by that.  Maybe because he spent more time with Someone who was more Real than the manufactured happiness we are always looking for.  But the key word there was commune.  That is my biggest problem with having devotions every day.  I read the Bible or other books and pray — at some point, I feel like I’m talking to myself.  Not that I don’t think God listens.  But that I don’t hear Him respond.  It doesn’t seem fair — Enoch, by all accounts, actually talked with God.  I don’t like having a seemingly one-way conversation, so I stop.  Maybe I stop too soon.

When you come to knowing God, the initiative lies on His side.  If He does not show Himself, nothing you can do will enable you to find Him.  And, in fact, He shows much more of Himself to some people than to others — not because He has favourites, but because it is impossible for Him to show Himself to a man whose whole mind and character are in the wrong condition.  Just as sunlight, though it has no favourites, cannot be reflected in a dusty mirror as clearly as in a clean one.

You can put this another way by saying that while in other sciences the instruments you use are things external to yourself (things like microscopes and telescopes), the instrument through which you see God is your whole self.  And if a man’s self is not kept clean and bright, his glimpse of God will be blurred — like the Moon seen through a dirty telescope.  That is why horrible nations have horrible religions: they have been looking at God through a dirty lens.

—C.S. Lewis, from Mere Christianity

This was the second selection I read last night and the juxtaposition of the two was quite interesting.  I had just been thinking that I couldn’t commune with God because I didn’t hear Him talk to me, and so I quit talking to Him.  But then C.S. Lewis said, “Excuse me, but you are not letting Him talk to you!”  It’s true.  I put in the time at my devotions, but I’m checking the clock because I need to go to work or to bed, or maybe I have another book I want to read before I go to sleep.  I don’t spend time thinking about what I read or praying and waiting for an answer, I just go right on doing something else.  Talk about a one-way conversation — it’s one-sided because I don’t let Him get a word in edgewise!  My mind is not in the ‘condition’ to listen to God, so I never hear Him.  Not sure how to get it in the right condition, but starting to listen would be a good beginning.

One last quote to leave you (and me) with:

“God will be to us everything we will let Him be.” — E.G. White, from Our High Calling

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BBC book list

Apparently the BBC reckons most people will have only read 6 of the 100 books here.

Instructions:
1) Look at the list and put an ‘x’ after those you have read.
2) Add a ‘+’ to the ones you LOVE.
3) Star (*) those you plan on reading.
4) Add a ‘/’ next to the ones you’ve seen as a movie
5) Tally your total at the bottom.

1. The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien x + /
2. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen x /
3. His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman x
4. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams x
5. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, JK Rowling x /
6. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee *
7. Winnie the Pooh, AA Milne x +
8. Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell x
9. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, CS Lewis x + /
10. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë x
11. Catch-22, Joseph Heller *
12. Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë x
13. Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks
14. Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier
15. The Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger x
16. The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame x /
17. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens x
18. Little Women, Louisa May Alcott x /
19. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, Louis de Bernieres
20. War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy
21. Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell *
22. Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone, JK Rowling x /
23. Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets, JK Rowling x /
24. Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban, JK Rowling x /
25. The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien x +
26. Tess Of The D’Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy *
27. Middlemarch, George Eliot *
28. A Prayer For Owen Meany, John Irving
29. The Grapes Of Wrath, John Steinbeck x
30. Alice‘s Adventures In Wonderland, Lewis Carroll x
31. The Story Of Tracy Beaker, Jacqueline Wilson
32. One Hundred Years Of Solitude, Gabriel García Márquez
33. The Pillars Of The Earth, Ken Follett
34. David Copperfield, Charles Dickens x
35. Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl x /
36. Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson x /
37. A Town Like Alice, Nevil Shute x +
38. Persuasion, Jane Austen *
39. Dune, Frank Herbert x
40. Emma, Jane Austen x
41. Anne Of Green Gables, LM Montgomery x /
42. Watership Down, Richard Adams x
43. The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald x
44. The Count Of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas x + /
45. Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh
46. Animal Farm, George Orwell x
47. A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens x /
48. Far From The Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy
49. Goodnight Mister Tom, Michelle Magorian
50. The Shell Seekers, Rosamunde Pilcher

51. The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett x + /
52. Of Mice And Men, John Steinbeck x
53. The Stand, Stephen King
54. Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy *
55. A Suitable Boy, Vikram Seth
56. The BFG, Roald Dahl x
57. Swallows And Amazons, Arthur Ransome
58. Black Beauty, Anna Sewell x /
59. Artemis Fowl, Eoin Colfer x
60. Crime And Punishment, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
61. Noughts And Crosses, Malorie Blackman
62. Memoirs Of A Geisha, Arthur Golden x + /
63. A Tale Of Two Cities, Charles Dickens x
64. The Thorn Birds, Colleen McCollough
65. Mort, Terry Pratchett
66. The Magic Faraway Tree, Enid Blyton
67. The Magus, John Fowles
68. Good Omens, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
69. Guards! Guards!, Terry Pratchett
70. Lord Of The Flies, William Golding x
71. Perfume, Patrick Süskind
72. The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, Robert Tressell
73. Night Watch, Terry Pratchett
74. Matilda, Roald Dahl x +
75. Bridget Jones’s Diary, Helen Fielding *
76. The Secret History, Donna Tartt
77. The Woman In White, Wilkie Collins
78. Ulysses, James Joyce
79. Bleak House, Charles Dickens *
80. Double Act, Jacqueline Wilson
81. The Twits, Roald Dahl x
82. I Capture The Castle, Dodie Smith
83. Holes, Louis Sachar x
84. Gormenghast, Mervyn Peake
85. The God Of Small Things, Arundhati Roy
86. Vicky Angel, Jacqueline Wilson
87. Brave New World, Aldous Huxley *
88. Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons
89. Magician, Raymond E Feist
90. On The Road, Jack Kerouac
91. The Godfather, Mario Puzo
92. The Clan Of The Cave Bear, Jean M Auel x +
93. The Colour Of Magic, Terry Pratchett
94. The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho x
95. Katherine, Anya Seton
96. Kane And Abel, Jeffrey Archer
97. Love In The Time Of Cholera, Gabriel García Márquez x
98. Girls In Love, Jacqueline Wilson
99. The Princess Diaries, Meg Cabot x
100. Midnight’s Children, Salman Rushdie

I have read 45 books.

I have seen 17 of them as movies.

I LOVE 10 of them.

I plan to read 10 of the ones I haven’t yet.

It’s a little weird because some series books are in there separately and some are in as a series. Whatever.

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