Tuesday, February 26, 2008

still giving me food for thought: my favorite C.S. Lewis quote

"If you asked twenty good men today what they thought the highest of the virtues, nineteen of them would reply, Unselfishness. But if you asked almost any of the great Christians of old he would have replied, Love. You see what has happend? A negative term has been substituted for a positive, and this is of more than philological importance. The negative ideal of Unselfishness carries with it the suggestion not primarilly of securing for good things for others, but of going without them ourselves, as if our abstinence and not their happiness was the important point. I do not think this is the Christian virtue of Love. The New Testament has lots to say about self-denial, but not about self-denial as an end in itself. We are told to deny ourselves and to take up our crosses in order that we might follow Christ; and nearly every description of what we shall ultimately find if we do so contains an appeal to desire.

"If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith. Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased."

[from The Weight of Glory, p. 113]

Saturday, February 16, 2008

thinking about: heaven (and the ugliness of me)

I think about heaven a lot. As in daily; sometimes even hour by hour. It's safe to say that it's a life motivator for me. Please believe me, I don't say that pridefully--I think it's a wise investment of anyone's time! After all, it lasts a whole lot longer than this short span I'm in, than this "light momentary affliction," which "is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal" (2 Corinthians 4:17-18).

Plus, I continue to digest this whole concept of an upside-down kingdom: that the first are last, the last are first, the greatest is your servant; this place where we must be like a child to come in, an entity so valuable that it's like a pearl worth selling everything else for. That baffles me, woos me, and requires me to subvert everything I'm surrounded with: Beauty is vain. Fame is nothing. Power requires that I serve. Money is for saving up treasures there. Amazing.

And if I make the ultimate sacrifice here of death--if my family is called to stand in front of our little green trilevel and choose to deny Christ or die--I can tell my children to hold their breath and we'll see each other in Paradise in a few minutes. Huh.

But I realize that for me right now, the line is thin between building up treasures and crowns for God, or to do that for me. John Piper talks extensively about rewards and how God motivates with them. I agree with this. God repeatedly gives us promises, calling us with love toward the right.

But, as I heard so poignantly in a sermon a decade ago, "Heaven is not about the glory of Christians." I find myself sometimes working for heavenly rewards for my own glory, vacillating between the satisfaction of doing the right thing, and pride in the wonderfulness of me! (--aka idolatry. Is there any place in me that sin hasn't infected?! For the love of Mike.) Somehow I want to be motivated by rewards, but realize that how I'm getting those rewards is God's grace. That's why people are casting crowns in heaven.

Maybe it's like a mom helping her child tie his shoe: The mom essentially holds his hands and verbally guides him, but gives him a huge "Good job!" for his perseverance and allowing her to help him learn something.

Obviously I'm still muddling through this. What do you think?

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Latest little family news, week 2

John actually preached at a local congregation this week, pinch-hitting for an out-of-town pastor. I really thought he did a wonderful job (thank you, God!). He is a gifted speaker and teacher (and may make me remove that once he has read it).

Will is calling Baden "young man", though on the other hand, Baden is calling Will "Buddy", as in, "We already ate lunch, Buddy." It's really funny to hear how I sound through their voices (most of the time). Corinne is giggling when the dog licks her face.

The Black Death (aka YUCK stomach flu) passed through our home this week, missing Will and Corinne by a great deal of prayer.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Help me out, Week 1

Okay, here's where I want to take advantage of the blog thing: An open-forum question of the week. This week I want to know--

What do you appreciate about the way your parents raised you?

Gracias for all feedback.