• Book Reviews,  Resources

    The Unrelenting Approach

    On the last Sunday worship of summer camp I spoke to our Michigan overnight staff on Luke 15:1-10 focusing on the parables about the lost sheep and the lost coin. We talked specifically about the “unrelenting approach” of God when we’re lost.

    I ended the message with one of my favorite CS Lewis quotes found in his book Surprised by Joy, the story of his spiritual journey and his conversion to Christianity. It captures well this “unrelenting approach” of God.

    “You must picture me alone in that room in Magdalen, night after night, feeling, whenever my mind lifted even for a second from my work, the steady, unrelenting approach of Him whom I so earnestly desired not to meet. That which I greatly feared had at last come upon me. In the Trinity Term of 1929 I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all of England. I did not then see what is now the most shining and obvious thing; the Divine humility which will accept a convert even on such terms. The Prodigal Son at least walked home on his own feet. But who can duly adore that Love which will open the high gates to a prodigal who is brought in kicking, struggling, resentful, and darting his eyes in every direction for a chance to escape?….The hardness of God is kinder than the softness of men, and His compulsion is our liberation.”

  • Book Reviews,  Growing as a Leader

    C.S. Lewis on Reading Old Books

    C.S. Lewis got it right in his assessment of benefits and the necessity of reading old books. Now I just need to do a better job of following his advice.

    “There is a strange idea abroad that in every subject the ancient books should be read only by the professionals, and that the amateur should be content himself with the modern books….This mistaken preference for the modern books and this shyness of the old ones is nowhere more rampant than in theology….Now this seems to me to be topsy-turvy. Naturally, since I myself am a writer, I do not wish the ordinary reader to read no modern books. But if he must read only the new or only the old, I would advise him to read the old….it is a good rule, after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between. If that is too much for you, you should at least read on old one to every three new ones….We all…need the books that will correct the characteristic mistakes of our own period. And that means the old books….We may be sure that the characteristic blindness of the twentieth century…lies where we have never suspected it….None of us can fully escape this blindness….The only palliative is to keep the clean sea breeze of the centuries blowing through our minds, and this can be done only by reading old books.”

    Quoted by John Piper in God’s Passion for His Glory, from C.S. Lewis’ “On Reading of Old Books” in God in the Dock

  • Book Reviews

    Rereading The Lord of the Rings

    “I can’t imagine a man really enjoying a book and reading it only once.” C.S. Lewis

    I’ve just finished reading J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings for maybe the 10th time. I’ve read it so many times because it moves me like no other book (besides the Bible). I actually want to be in the story.

    And here’s what moves me and draws me back every few years.

    First I love the characters. They are noble, humble, live sacrificially and fun-loving. We, however, live in a cynical and jaded world where we’ve come to believe that no one is capable of living for something greater than themselves. Even Peter Jackson’s movie version affirms this view by his portrayal of some of the characters. But Tolkien’s characters provide us hope that it’s possible that the world and Jackson are wrong and we can live above the cynicism that surrounds us.

    Speaking of worlds, I also love the world in which the story takes place. I want to live in a world, like the Shire and Middle Earth, where the love of family, friends and the land seem so rooted and intertwined. Instead we live in a transient world where we’re disconnected from each other and creation. To believe a different life’s possible, one as Tolkien created, has a powerful draw.

    Finally it has one of the elements I love in any story – a grand adventure. I’m an adventurer at heart and this story has the ultimate adventure – to do the impossible, at any cost, for the sake of others and the world.

    So I know I’ll read The Lord of the Rings again someday because I’ll want the old magic to once again rekindle within me the desire for a different world, Tolkien’s, and ours.

    In my next post I’ll share some of my favorite quotes from The Lord of the Rings.

  • Book Reviews,  SpringHill Experiences

    The Weight of Glory

    It’s SpringHill’s Labor Day Family Camp weekend at our two overnight camps. There are nearly 300 families and 1500 people enjoying family time, pursuing fun and adventure and worshipping together with great music and inspiring speakers.

    Our Michigan camp speaker is Clint Dupin, a Teaching Pastor for Kensington Community Church in Troy, Michigan. His theme for the weekend is the “weight of God’s glory and its significance in our lives”.

    As he was speaking on Saturday morning I couldn’t help but think about some of my favorite words from a sermon from one of my favorite authors, C.S. Lewis, titled “The Weight of Glory“.

    Since you might not be listening to Clint this weekend I thought you might be blessed and challenged instead by C.S. Lewis’ words.

    “The load, or weight, or burden of my neighbors’ glory should be laid on my back, a load so heavy that only humility can carry it, and the backs of the proud will be broken. It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare.

    All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics.

    There are no ordinary people.

    You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendours….

    Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses.”

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