C.S. Lewis on Death

This seems like a supremely appropriate quote for Good Friday:

“On the one hand Death is the triumph of Satan, the punishment of the Fall, and the last enemy. Christ shed tears at the grave of Lazarus and sweated blood in Gethsemane: the Life of Lives that was in Him detested this penal obscenity not less than we do, but more.
On the other hand, only he who loses his life will save it. We are baptized into the death of Christ, and it is the remedy for the Fall. Death is, in fact, what some modern people call “ambivalent.” It is Satan’s great weapon and also God’s great weapon: it is holy and unholy; our supreme disgrace and our only hope; the thing Christ came to conquer and the means by which He conquered.”

– C.S. Lewis, Miracles

Jan_Boeckhorst_-_Christ_on_the_Cross_-_WGA02327

All men dream…

All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible.

T. E. Lawrence (aka Lawrence of Arabia)

E.M. Bounds on Faith

Faith is not an aimless act of the soul, but a looking to God and a resting upon His promises. Just as love and hope have always an objective so, also, has faith. Faith is not believing just anything; it is believing God, resting in Him, trusting His Word.

Edward M. Bounds, The Necessity of Prayer
(Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1999).

“I fear the Lord, the god of heaven…”

Fear_The_Lord

And they said to one another, “Come, let us cast lots, that we may know on whose account this evil has come upon us.” So they cast lots, and the lot fell on Jonah. Then they said to him, “Tell us on whose account this evil has come upon us. What is your occupation? And where do you come from? What is your country? And of what people are you?” And he said to them, “I am a Hebrew, and I fear the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.” (Jonah 1:7-9)

 I find Jonah’s response interesting: I fear The Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land. It seems like such a simple phrase that we could easily skim over it without appreciating its implication. But the way the sailors respond made me pay closer attention to this little gem: Then the men were exceedingly afraid and said to him, What is this that you have done! For the men knew that he was fleeing from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them. (Jonah 1:10)

 First, we need to note that both times we see the word Lord here it is the formal title for Yahweh. It’s not ‘lord,’ it’s Yahweh. Jonah had told them he was fleeing from Yahweh and they probably didn’t think anything of it at the time. Most ancient religions thought that gods were geographically limited; there was a god of the mountains, a god of the plains, a god in this desert, a god in that desert, etc. So when Jonah told them he was fleeing from Yahweh, they probably thought all he needed was a change of zip code. And then, something terrible happened

“The Lord hurled a great wind upon the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship threatened to break up. (Jonah 1:4)”

 Suddenly a routine trip was enveloped by a life-threatening tempest! So they cast lots to figure out whose god they had offended and it turned out that Yahweh was upset (Jonah 1:7). That’s when Jonah says that his GodYahwehcreated the air, land, and sea. This one phrase reveals that Jonah’s God made it all and controls it all. This is not a god, but The God. This god is not limited to a zip code, but is The God and creator of the entire earth. This God’s sovereignty is not limited to a specific region, but encompasses all regions. Uh-oh. Even if they are able to make it back to dry land, it doesn’t look like they’ll be able to escape this God. No wonder they asked Jonah what to do (Jonah 1:11), followed his advice to throw him overboard (Jonah 1:15), and then offered sacrifices to Yahweh (Jonah 1:16). (Fun little factoid: the crew aboard this ship were actually Jonah’s first converts!)

Do we ever think, like Jonah, that we can somehow run from God’s presence? As though we could possibly escape Him?

7 Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?
8 If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
9 If I take the wings of the morning
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light about me be night,”
12 even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is bright as the day,
for darkness is as light with you.

13 For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.

17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
I awake, and I am still with you. (Psalms 139:7-18)

All that we build is going to be inspected by God.

All that we build is going to be inspected by God. Is God going to detect in His searching fire that we have built on the foundation of Jesus some enterprise of our own? These are days of tremendous enterprises, days when we are trying to work for God, and therein is the snare. Profoundly speaking, we can never work for God. Jesus takes us over for His enterprises, His building schemes entirely, and no soul has any right to claim where he shall be put.

Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest : Selections for the Year (Grand Rapids: Discovery House Publishers, 1993) May 7th Entry.

4 Quick Thoughts on Marriage

One of the things I absolutely love about my seminary is that they truly value the marriages of their students. As a result they have a couple’s banquet every year where the married students are served dinner by the professors, child care is provided, and a miniature sermon about marriage is presented. This year one of my professors, Carl Laney, gave four reasons why marriage should be held in honor and I thought they were so great I’d share them here.

  1. God ordained it. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. (Genesis 2:24).” Marriage is the first institution created by God. Any other time God has made a covenant with man it has been regarded as something sacred and holy. In the same way, marriage should be viewed as a sacred institution that was created by God.
  2. Jesus blessed it. Jesus blessed marriage by turning water to wine at a wedding feast (John 2:1-12). He did this because marriage is something that deserves to be celebrated. Furthermore, Jesus said that there is a supernatural element to marriage. God joins the husband and wife, and we ought not separate what God has joined (Matthew 19:4-6; Mark 10:6-9)
  3. Children illustrate it. From the beginning, the biblical view of children is that they are a blessing. When a child is born, they have DNA from both the mother and the father. This is an illustration of the bond that occurs at marriage. Children are a vivid reminder of that unity that God creates when he weds a man and a woman.
  4. Death alone ends it. Marriage is intended as a lifelong covenant between a man and a woman in the sight of God and their family. The Bible says that wives are bound to their husbands as long as he is alive (Romans 7:2; 1 Corinthians 7:39). It also says that men are to love their lives to the point of dying for her (Ephesians 5:25-30). This lifelong devotion is meant to serve as a picture of Christ’s devotion to the Church.

There you have it! May your marriage be blessed and may it be a blessing.