Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Children of God

This week's book discussion focuses on Chapter 5, Book Two of Mere Christianity.

The passage which hit me right away, and my mind kept drifting back to while reading the rest, is this:

"In Christ, a new kind of man appeared: and the new kind of life which began in Him is to be put into us.

How is this to be done?  Now, please remember how we acquired the old, ordinary kind of life.  We derived it from others, from our father and mother and all our ancestors, without our consent- and by a very curious process involving pleasure, pain and danger.  A process you would never have guessed.  ... Now the God who arranged that process is the same God who arranged how the new kind of life- the Christ life- is to be spread.  We must be prepared for it being odd too.  He did not consult us when He invented sex: He has not consulted us when He invented this." (Mere Christianity, p.62)

 I must admit to being amused by how Lewis points out that God didn't ask our opinion on sex (which a majority of us seem to like just fine, I gather), which really is an odd process when you think about it, so the concept of new life in Christ really was no odder than that, and at least as beautiful.

But what I really love is how this paragraph points me back to my favorite verse in the whole Bible.  (I know it's supposed to be John 3:16, but I can't help it, this one makes my heart go pitter patter.)

John 1:12-13 But to those who did accept him he gave power to become children of God, to those who believe in his name, who were born not by natural generation nor by human choice nor by a man's decision but of God.

I just love how Jesus didn't just stop at saving me from destruction, but chose to make me a child of God.  How awesome is that?  That's what I call a new life!

I suppose there is a lot more "meat" to discuss in this chapter, but I can't think anymore.  I keep coming back to being a child of God, and just feel thankful and elated.  If you would like to read a deeper discussion of this Chapter, please click here. You will be transported to my friend Jason's blog, where you will find links to others posting on the same chapter.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Puddles on the Dance Floor

One of my favorite old songs growing up was "Sway" by Dean Martin.

The funny thing is, it was my mother's LEAST favorite Dean Martin song.   She misheard the lyrics as

Other dancers may pee on the floor
Dear but my eyes will see only you (kind of dangerous if they actually are peeing on the floor, no?)
Only you have the magic technique
When we sway I go wee (Great.  Now we are both really in danger of slipping.  Maybe we should just sit this one out...)

My mom knew that wasn't what he was singing, but somehow she couldn't get that picture out of her head during the song.

Much as I love the song, I like to kid people about the "violence" in it.
"I can hear the sound of violence long before it begins" (That would make you a great cop, but what does it have to do with dancing?  Are you expecting to have to fight over me?  Just let him cut in...)

My friend Katdish did an awesome post in January about misheard lyrics, with some hysterical comments.

If you are interested in what Dino is really singing, here it is..

When marimba rhythms start to play
Dance with me, make me sway
Like a lazy ocean hugs the shore
Hold me close, sway me more

Like a flower bending in the breeze
Bend with me, sway with ease
When we dance you have a way with me
Stay with me, sway with me

Other dancers may be on the floor
Dear, but my eyes will see only you
Only you have the magic technique
When we sway I go weak

I can hear the sounds of violins
Long before it begins
Make me thrill as only you know how
Sway me smooth, sway me now

Other dancers may be on the floor
Dear, but my eyes will see only you
Only you have the magic technique
When we sway I go weak

I can hear the sounds of violins
Long before it begins
Make me thrill as only you know howI'm labeling this as a "Life is Funny" post and linking this to my friend's blog to encourage her to bring the carnival back!
Sway me smooth, sway me now
You know how
Sway me smooth, sway me now

This video may be more to your taste.  It's not Dino, but I still like it!

I'm linking back to my friend here, and hoping she brings back the "Life is Funny" blog carnival.

Monday, May 23, 2011

My Prayer Today

My friend Jason hosts "Warrior Poet Circle" every other Monday.
I'm not sure which seems more convoluted, thinking of myself as a warrior or a poet, so though I admire both warriors and poets, I seldom participate.    Today, however, the "assignment" is to write a prayer.   That didn't seem so hard.  I think I pray every day.   So here it is.   Not quite warrior like, not quite poetry.   It is just my prayer today.

My Prayer Today

Thank you, Lord for loving me.
I often question why you do
When I myself would wipe me off my shoe if I could
I understand that Your Son washed me and dressed me in wedding clothes
But look at me!
I have gravy on my dress, my hair is a mess from dancing and my hands are sticky again!
If I could only stay clean and lovely
I'd understand that You love what He made me to become...
But how is it you can love me?
Because you made me in your image?
You mean I haven't rubbed that out?
I couldn't possibly rub that out?
Where is your image in me?
The ability to love?
Then help me to love more greatly and more purely.
Help me to love even those unlovely
like me...
Then draw us together close to You

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Accepting the Mystery

Such is my own way of looking at what  Christians call the Atonement.  But remember this is only one more picture.  Do not mistake it for the thing itself:  and if it does not help you, drop it.  (Mere Christianity, p. 61)

As I read the last paragraph of Chapter 4 Book Two of Mere Christianity, I was reminded of what Jesus said about one needing to be like a child to enter the kingdom of Heaven.   

 I have had the privilege of teaching the faith to children for seventeen years.  While it didn't start out so in the beginning, my favorite part of the whole year is that day when some brave child asks about the great mysteries of the faith.

How can God have no beginning?   Everything has a beginning!

How can God be three individual persons in one God?   Yes, we know about the shamrock and St. Pat, but aren't those leaves really just part of the shamrock?   So aren't Father, Son, and Holy Spirit just parts of God?

How can one man, no matter how good, pay for the sins of everyone in the whole world?

I can't pretend that any of those questions are easy.   Each time the questions are asked, I have to ask the Holy Spirit to help me.  Each time I have to ask the Holy Spirit to help my students accept.  You know what?  The Holy Spirit has not let me down ever!  

My favorite part is when I look at their faces after doing my best to answer them, and then admitting that these things are a mystery to me, too.  Indeed, great theologians have contemplated just such questions their whole lives long and come up with the answer "It really is a mystery."   Many times I have seen the faces of the children who ask the question relax when they get that answer.   They can accept a mystery.   Some ask "Will we know when we get to Heaven?"  My answer?  "We will see God in Heaven face to face, so we just might.  And if not, we can at least ask Him?"

Children are able to get the concept that if it doesn't help, they can drop it.   My students have taught me well.     

For more discussions about this Chapter of Mere Christianity, check out my friend Sarah's blog.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Road Trip

I have had roads I dreamed of opened up to me, paved, with flowers bordering the sides.  
I have had roads I hoped to travel blocked with impassable boulders and floods.
I have had roads I never wanted to walk along become the only one available to me.
I have roads I'm unsure of opened up before me, now.
But I have not traveled, nor will I ever travel, alone.

I have loved the following song from the first time I heard it, listening to the radio in my room as a teen.   I loved it even more when I heard it while driving on an actual road for the first time.  (I learned to drive when I was 23, after my daddy died.)   I love it even more now that I look back at roads I've been on as well as to those I still hope to travel.

On the roads we travel both together and apart, Kyrie Eleison.  Lord, have mercy!

The wind blows hard against this mountainside
Across the sea into my soul
It reaches in to where I cannot hide
Setting my feet upon the road
My heart is old it holds my memories
This heart it burns a gem like flame
Somewhere between the soul and soft machine
Is where I find myself again

Kyrie Elison down the road that I must travel
Kyrie Elison through the darkness of the night
Kyrie Elison where I go you will follow
Kyrie Elison on a highway in the light

When I was young I dreamed of growing old
Of what my life would mean to me
Would I have traveled down my chosen road
Or only wish that I could be

Kyrie Elison down the road that I must travel
Kyrie Elison through the darkness of the night
Kyrie Elison where I go you will follow
Kyrie Elison on a highway in the light

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Lewis's Trilemma : I Choose to Believe Jesus is God

"The better stuff a creature is made of-  the cleverer, stronger and freer it is- then the better it will be if it goes right, but also the worse it will be if it goes wrong."

That is Clive's explanation as to why free will requires that evil be possible.  For us to enjoy being with God forever in Heaven, there had to be another choice.   He wants us to want Him, but to build us so that we had no choice would make us His slaves instead of His children.  He created us to be His children.  (And my heart soars and I praise Him in my heart for this.)

Chapter three, book two of Mere Christianity ends with a quote I have often read in other Christian books.

"I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronising nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to."

The women's prayer group I attend every other Monday has been reading a discussing the Gospel of John. Jesus actually refers to Himself as "I Am" (the Jewish name for God) in this Gospel.  So yes, Lewis is right.   One can believe that Jesus is either really really good, because He is God, or really really bad (or at least messed up) because He claims to be God and isn't,  but "Great Moral Teacher" is an impossibility.  If He is God, and I believe He is, then He is better than that, and if He isn't, well, how can He be moral while claiming to be one with the almighty if He isn't.

On a personal note:  Why I believe Jesus is God, and not a madman.

Because He rose from the dead.   I'm sure that until He rose from the dead, the best I could have believed is that He was mad and should be prevented from speaking publicly for His own sake.  Sorry.   (I know that sounds blasphemous, but He knows my heart, so hiding this thought is pretty silly.)   Perhaps when He raised Lazarus, had I been around, I'd have allowed my heart to open a bit and allow for another possibility, as others did.  But today, now, I believe Jesus is God because He rose from the dead, and there were witnesses.   These witnesses did not live lives of comfort and luxury due to their testimony, but were beaten, burned, flayed, boiled and killed because of it.   And still, they didn't retract because they knew the truth.   There was no reward for them if they were lying, only pain and suffering.  What made the pain and suffering worthwhile to them?   The hope and belief in their own future resurrection.   Had they been lying, they wouldn't have had such hope, and would have had no reason to claim Jesus rose.
I thank God for providing faithful witnesses to His Son's  Resurrection so that I could and would believe.

May I be so bold as to ask you why you believe as you do?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Small Success Thursday on Tuesday!!!

For some reason, a blog I follow is doing "Small Success Thursday" on a Tuesday.   That's JUST random enough for me!  :-)

1)  I went to the gynecologist yesterday.   I can watch a needle go into my arm and draw blood, but the sight of a speculum lying on the counter in plastic makes me feel faint.  Really, it looks like it should be used to repair the exam table, when, in fact, it is a medieval torturing device.  You women know what I mean.   Gentlemen, I suggest you just nod your heads and move on to the next number.  Do not google speculum.  I repeat, gentlemen, do NOT google speculum.

2)  I mailed out a note to a lady from a Church group I belong to who has been sick for awhile.  We aren't close, so I didn't know what to write.   I ended up writing the minutes of our last meeting with get well wishes and blessings on a note card with my initial on the front.

3)  I have made arrangements to meet my husband's best friend's girlfriend.  They have only been going out for three years.   What's the rush, right?  ;-)

Go to "Chocolate for Your Brain" to see Sherri's successes and those of others who have linked up.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

My Strength is My Weakness

While this is not what the cover of my
copy looks like, I think it is prettier, and
that my blog deserves the prettier picture.
Today we are discussing Chapter two of Book Two in Mere Christianity.  I know that I missed last week's discussion.   My husband was on vacation and we spent so much time holding hands, that I wasn't able to type.   I need both hands to type.   That's just the way my mind works.  I learned using all my fingers (but not my thumbs, except on the space bar) to type, so now more than twenty years later, I must use all my fingers to type a blog post.   I imagine this generation feels that way about their thumbs for texting, but I digress.   We are supposed to be discussing Mere Christianity, not our thumbs, so quit distracting me and let's get down to discussing!

Clive explains in the chapter why Dualism proves false.   The gist of it is that evil is a perversion of what is good.   Evil can not exist without the good, so therefore the good not only had to have come first, and foremost, and evil has to be rebellion to that good.   It makes sense to me.

Years ago I remember reading a series in a Chicago paper about how to conduct oneself in a job interview.   I didn't like everything I read.   Come to think of it, all these years later, I don't even remember everything I read, but what I do remember quite well is the suggestion by the author that when the interviewer asks what our greatest weakness is, we should play it off of whatever our greatest strength is.   For example, my greatest strength is that if I really want to fix something, I will stay with it until it is fixed.   The weakness is that this determination can turn to a sort of stubbornness where I stay with something that can not be fixed and waste time and energy.   I have since worked on this weakness by giving myself time limits and learning to put a thing aside for a bit and reassess later.   Often after putting it aside, a solution will come to my mind.   Other times, whatever I distracted myself with will loom more important at that point, and I will decide to let it go.   My point is that I can see how something good can be turned into something bad.   I'm sure mine isn't the only strength which can be turned into a weakness.  My guess would be that the only strength that can't be twisted like that is love for the Lord.

While my example is merely small potatoes, Clive manages to describe how Christianity's position on the devil being an entity created by God for something good who then went into rebellion makes more logical sense than a belief that evil and good are equal and opposite forces, with evil being entirely independent of the good (Dualism).  

Please visit my friend Sarah, where you will find her take on Chapters 1 and 2 from Book Two of Mere Christianity, and links to more discussions of Chapter 2.

What do you think?  Are our weaknesses related to our strengths?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Crazy Eights

Today the one word blog carnival over on Peter Pollock's blog is about games.  I like games.   When I was growing up, my parents, grandma, uncles, and cousins played cards when we got together.   My favorites were Crazy Eights and Gin Rummy.   We used to play for points, lowest points win.   I can still see my cousin Diane's young face over my shoulder helping me keep score.  I didn't mind keeping score, though I would have balked at having to do half that amount of math work for homework!   Even if you weren't score keeper, you had to add your own hand, and yes, people were watching.   In Crazy Eights, eights (the free card for changing suits) and twos ("pick up two!") were worth more than their face value.   In our variation of the game, an eight was worth sixty-four points.  I forgot how much a two was worth, but it was more than itself squared, though still less than sixty four.  I remember eights being the worse thing to get stuck with in the end.  They were great to have in the beginning when dealt, but not so great if you were holding them when someone else won.
I suppose I should say something spiritual here, perhaps suggesting that we are eights because we are worth so much more than our "face value" to God, or that finishing the game with a special card still in hand is not a life well lived, or something like that.   But I'm not.  I'm just going to enjoy remembering the laughter of my parents and grandmother, and the smiling youthful faces of my cousins.  Or is that the other way around?  Maybe I should invite what's left of the family over for a game of Crazy Eights, so that we all can share the memory.
What about you?   What are the games you remember bonding over?   Care to share any memories with us?