Archive for January, 2009

Coffee linked to lower dementia risk. This is such great news for me, I’ll put it first.  The study also links coffee to a decreased risk of Alzheimer’s.

Without a Better Vision This Administration Will Perish. An essay from John Mark Reynolds at The Scriptorium about the emminent failure of President Obama’s theology.

Jesus Sinned? New Barna Poll says 1 in 3 ‘Christians’ believe Jesus sinned.  Wow.

“Be Courageous, Mr. President.” A short video from John Piper’s sermon this week.

Panoramic image of President Obama’s Inaugural address.  The technology to take this photo was derived by NASA from Mars exploration.

10 most “redeeming movies” from Christianity Today.

Mark Driscoll on Nightline. The video segment from Tuesday’s broadcast.


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Some final words from Mere Christianity….

Anyone else that has read the book feel that the last chapter should have been severely rethought, revised, or even removed?  I felt as though he was just trying to squeeze in some random last thoughts as opposed to actually concluding his work.  Of course this could be due to it being derived from a radio broadcast rather then a full literary project.  Who knows…

Nonetheless, Lewis’ closing words:

Your real, new self (which is Christ’s and also yours, and yours just because it is His) will not come as long as you are looking for it. (p. 226)

The principle runs through all life from top to bottom.  Give up yourself, and you will find your real self.  Lose your life and you will save it.  Submit to death, death of your ambitions and favourite wishes every day and death of your whole body in the end: submit with every fibre of your being, and you will find eternal life.  Keep back nothing.  Nothing that you have not given away will really be yours.  Nothing in you that has not died will ever be raised from the dead.  Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay.  But look to Christ and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in. (p. 227)

That’s it!  I’m done!  I’ll can finally post about something else!

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Another great illustration from C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity, called “theology and maps.”

Here Lewis is trying to explain the practical importance of learning theology.  He says that although real experiences of God happen and are part of the daily life of Christians, they must be accompanied by propositions about God, i.e. doctrines.  These doctrines can be seen as a sort of map for guidance.  The map itself is not real, as theology and doctrine are not real in itself, but both are approved by those who have experienced them and affirmed their accuracy.  The church today would do well to take heed of this advice:

Theology is like a map.  Merely learning and thinking about the Christian doctrines, if you stop there, is less real and less exciting than the sort of thing my friend got in the desert [experienced the presence of God].  Doctrines are not God: they are only a kind of map.  But that map is based on the experience of hundreds of people who really were in touch with God – experiences compared with which any thrills or pious feelings you and are likely to get on our own are very elementary and very confused.  And secondly, if you want to get on any further, you must use the map. (p. 154)

On flip side, theology alone will not lead us into communion with God just as studying a map of the sea will not give me experience of the sea.  It takes both, concurrently, the action of navigating the sea and understanding the dynamics of the sea.  Lewis continues, when speaking of the vague religion that is all about feeling:

It is all thrills and no work: like watching the waves from the beach.  But you will not get to Newfoundland by studying the Atlantic that way, and you will not get eternal life by simply feeling the presence of God in flowers or music.  Neither will you get anywhere by looking at maps without going to sea.  Nor will you be very safe if you go to sea without a map.  (p. 155)

I’m probably not doing the illustration justice.  I suppose Lewis is best understood by his own words, so I’d recommend checking it out yourself in order to get the full breadth of it.  The illustration comes from the first chapter in Book IV called “Making and Begetting.”

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Echoes of Bable: Our New National Sin.  A convicting observation from Trevin Wax on our nation’s current position.

Ligon Duncan and Albert Mohler offer some excellent prayers for our new president.

Prosperity Gospel on Skid Row. Is the recession affecting the prosperity teachers?

Wireless Electricity.  I’m really excited for this…the efficiency and cleanliness of fewer cords and plugins! (HT: Matt Perman)

Life.  Please watch this video.  This is an ad airing in select markets on Black Entertainment Television.  (HT: JT)

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Stocks squeeze seminaries.  Read how the financial crisis is affecting seminaries.

The Pulpit Magazine is back.  Put this one back in the feeder…after a long time off, MacArthur and co. are back and begin with a series called “Clarifying Calvinism.”

D.A. Carson’s mp3’s are now free.  All 443 teachings of Carson are now available at the Gospel Coalition website.

Trying to avoid a cold? Studies show the effectiveness of sleep.  Should be old news, but interesting nonetheless.

Trying to read more and better? I always am, so thanks to Tony Reinke for his practical tips on being more efficient.  Tip 2. Tip 3

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I know, I’ve posted a couple times already about C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity.  Find some new material, right?  But it is just so good, I have to write about it some more.

I think what defines the brilliance of this book to me is Lewis’ use of illustrations.  I would love to compile every illustration he uses and attempt to memorize them in order to both better understand the topic he is speaking of and communicate it to others.  But that would be a serious undertaking because nearly every page, at least every chapter/topic, contains one or another.

There are three specifically that have really helped me thus far.  I’ll call them “Faith and anesthetics,” “Theology and maps,” and “Time and novels.”

Lewis, in the first of two chapters titled “Faith”, is here describing how faith is considered a virtue, which seemed quite “stupid” to him as an atheist.

I was assuming that if the human mind once accepts a thing as true it will automatically go on regarding it as true, until some real reason for reconsidering it turns up.  In fact, I was assuming that the human mind is completely ruled by reason.  But that is not so.  For example, my reason is perfectly convinced by good evidence that anesthetics do not smother me and that properly trained surgeons do not start operating until I am unconscious.  But that does not alter the fact that when they have me down on the table and clap their horrible mask over my face, a mere childish panic begins inside me.  I start thinking I am going to choke, and I am afraid they will start cutting me up before I am properly under.  In other words, I lose my faith in anesthetics.  It is not reason that is taking away my faith: on the contrary, my faith is based on reason.  It is my imagination and emotions.  The battle between faith and reason on one side and emotion and imagination on the other. (p. 139)

He continues:

Now Faith, in the sense in which I am here using the word, is the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted, in spite of your changing moods.  For moods will change, whatever view your reason takes. (p. 140)

That is why Faith is such a necessary virtue: unless you teach your moods ‘where they get off’, you can never be either a sound Christian or even a sound atheist, but just a creature dithering to and fro, with its beliefs really dependent on the weather and the state of its digestion.  Consequently one must train the habit of Faith. (p. 141)

This post is long enough already, I’ll write about the next two illustrations (and maybe more) in the next week or so.

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Lately I’ve been re-reading C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity along side super blogger Tim Challies and his readership.  As previously posted, some classic apologetic lines come from this book.  But what has most impacted me of late comes from the chapter titled “The Great Sin” in which he talks about pride.

Here are a few great lines:

If you want to find out how proud you are the easiest way is to ask yourself, ‘How much do I dislike it when other people snub me, or refuse to take any notice of me, or shove their oar in, or patronise me, or show off?’  The point is that each person’s pride is in competition with every one else’s pride.  It is because I wanted to be the big noise at the party that I am so annoyed at someone else being the big noise.  Two of a trade never agree.  Now what you want to get clear is that Pride is essentially competitive – is competitive by its very nature – while the other vices are competitive only, so to speak, by accident.  Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only having more than the next man. (122)

It is the comparison that makes you proud: the pleasure of being above the rest. (122)

Power is what Pride really enjoys: there is nothing makes a man feel so superior to others as being able to move the about like toy soldiers. (123)

One thing I deal with on a daily basis is insecurity.  It shows itself most clearly in my interactions with people.  For the most part, this insecurity is born out of a fear of people so I am constantly seeking for their approval.  But after processing these words from Lewis, I believe there is more to it than just fear.  It goes deeper than fear.  The real problem is pride.  Insecurity is a derivative of pride and sometimes even the most insecure person may also be the most prideful person.

How does this unravel?  As Lewis has pointed out, “pride is competitive by its very nature” and it is competition or comparison that leads to insecurity in the midst of other people.  This then leads to trying to perform for approval, which ends up in the endless cycle of successes and failures which perpetuates the competitive behavior.  Or the other way around,  seeking approval of man is driven by fear and fear of not living up to the rest is essentially comparison which is driven by pride.

I used to think that I was more innocent than this.  But I’m not,  it all goes back to my pride.  Just as the highly successful man who is out in front and thinks he is above the rest is proud, so are the insecure, whom are not living up to the rest, are feeling down and depressed.  They are both living on the same competitive value system, which is born out of pride.

I understand that this may be a bit beyond healthy introspection, but this is incredibly important

For Pride is spiritual cancer: it eats up the very possibility of love, or contentment, or even common sense. (125)

Unless you know God as that [immeasurably superior] – and, therefore, know yourself as nothing in comparison – you do not know God at all. (124)

Do you agree with these observations?  As Dallas Willard would ask: “Try it on.”

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