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Random Church Signs

April 4, 2008

For the last week or so, I have seen this sign at a church on my way home. 

April Fool’s Day

Okay, okay, I really generated THIS one online, but only because I wanted to make a photo of the actual one yesterday and they had changed it.


Faith & Failure: More Thoughts from the Mind of C.S. Lewis

April 3, 2008

The final selection of quotes in a series of three posts from Mere Christianity: 

On faith:

When you come to knowing God, the initiative lies on His side.  If He does not show Himself, nothing you can do will enable you to find Him.

After the first few steps in the Christian life we realise that everything which really needs to be done in our souls can only be done by God.

Thus if you have really handed yourself over to Him, it must follow that you are trying to obey Him.  But trying in a new way, a less worried way.  Not doing these things in order to be saved, but because He has begun to save you already.  Not hoping to get to Heaven as a reward for your actions, but inevitably wanting to act in a certain way because a first faint gleam of Heaven is already inside you.

On giving: 

If our expenditure on comforts, luxuries, amusements, etc., is up to the standard common among those with the same income as our own, we are probably giving away too little.  If our charities do not at all pinch or hamper us, I should say they are too small.  There ought to be things we should like to do and cannot do because our charitable expenditure excludes them. (Lewis denotes charities as particular cases of distress among your own relatives, friends, neighbors or employees to which God forces your attention.)

On failure: 

After each failure, ask forgiveness, pick yourself up, and try again…(from them) we learn, on the one hand, that we cannot trust ourselves even in our best moments, and, on the other, that we need not despair even in our worst, for our failures are forgiven.  The only fatal thing is to sit down content with anything less than perfection…Virtue–even attempted virtue–brings light; indulgence brings fog.”

On pride: 

Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only of having more of it than the next man.

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

In God you come up against something which is in every respect immeasurably superior to yourself.  Unless you know God as that–and therefore, know yourself as nothing in comparison–you do not know God at all.

That raises a terrible question.  How is it that people who are quite obviously eaten up with Pride can say they believe in God and appear to themselves very religious?  I am afraid it means they are worshipping an imaginary God.

Pleasure in being praised is not Pride…The trouble begins when you pass from thinking, “I have pleased him [him being someone you rightly wanted to please]; all is well,” to thinking, “What a fine person I must be to have done it.”

A Look at Love From the Mind of C.S. lewis

April 2, 2008

More to think about from C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity 

On marriage:

The idea that “being in love” is the only reason for remaining married really leaves no room for marriage as a contract or promise at all.

A promise must be about things that I can do, about actions:  no one can promise to go on feeling in a certain way.

Being in love is a good thing, but it is not the best thing.  There are many things below it, but there are also things above it.  You cannot make it the basis of a whole life.  It is a noble feeling, but it is still a feeling.

But of course, ceasing to be “in love” need not mean ceasing to love.  Love in this second sense–love as distinct from “being in love” is not merely a feeling.  It is a deep unity, maintained by the will and deliberately strengthened by habit; reinforced by…the grace which both…ask, and receive, from God.

On loving others:

That is what is meant in the Bible by loving [someone]:  wishing his good, not feeling fond of him or saying he is nice when he is not.

I admit that this means loving people who have nothing lovable about them…perhaps it makes it easier if we remember that that is how He loves us.  Not for any nice, attractive qualities we think we have, but just because we are the things called selves.  For really there is nothing else in us to love:  creatures like us who actually find hatred such a pleasure that to give it up is like giving up beer or tobacco.

The rule for all of us is perfectly simple.  Do not waste time bothering whether you “love” your neighbour; act as if you did.

On His love for us:

But the great thing to remember is that, though our feelings come and go, His love for us does not.  It is not wearied by our sins, or our indifference; and, therefore, it is quite relentless in its determination that we shall be cured of those sins, at whatever cost to us, at whatever cost to Him.

A Sinner, a Savior, & a Saint…Thoughts from Mere Christianity

March 31, 2008

A friend and I read C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity recently, and I have been meaning to organize my thoughts about it.  As it has been several weeks since I finished reading it, I am not sure how organized they are, but I will make an attempt.  🙂 

This was actually my second time reading this book, and it did not have the same impact as it did 14 years ago when I was a new believer.  Still, Lewis’ mind was brilliant, and there were things worth deeper reflection.  In the coming days, I will share a few of the statements he made.  Any categories I include are my own divisions and not necessarily how Lewis organized his material.  I begin below:

Lewis discusses in the first chapter the Law of Human Nature.  He points out that all men have a general understanding of decent human behavior which is why throughout culture and civilizations men have, for the most part been similar in what they consider an offense to society.  In other words, as Lewis puts it

Men have differed as regards what people you ought to be unselfish to–whether it was only your own family, or your fellow countrymen, or everyone.  But they have always agreed that you ought not to put yourself first.  Selfishness has never been admired.  Men have differed as to whether you should have one wife or four.  But they have always agreed that you must not simply have any woman you liked.

From this Lewis concludes that “we are forced to believe in a real Right and Wrong.”  He further states that the “foundation of all clear thinking about ourselves and the universe we live in” is that we “know the Law of Nature” and we “break it.”

Later in the book, after Lewis has laid the groundwork for a Somebody or Something behind the Moral Law (the Moral Law which he established does in fact exist in previous chapters), he has this to say:

[This] is the terrible fix we are in.  If the universe is not governed by absolute goodness, then all our efforts are in the long run hopeless.  But if it is, then we are making ourselves enemies to that goodness every day, and are not in the least likely to do better tomorrow, and so our case is hopeless again.  We cannot do without it, and we cannot do with it.  God is the only comfort, He is also the supreme terror:  the thing we most need and the thing we most want to hide from.  He is our only possible ally, and we have made ourselves His enemies.  Some people talk as if meeting the gaze of absolute goodness would be fun.  They need to think again.  They are still only playing with religion.  Goodness is either the great safety or the great danger–according to the way you react to it.  And we have reacted the wrong way.

And of Christianity, he says,

Of course, I quite agree that the Christian religion is, in the long run, a thing of unspeakable comfort.  But it does not begin in comfort; it begins in the dismay I have been describing…In religion, as in war and everything else, comfort is the one thing you cannot get by looking for it.  If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end:  if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth–only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin with and, in the end, despair. 

Of his own experience with God, Lewis reveals “My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust.  But how had I got this idea of just and unjust?  A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line.”

Other statements to unpack:

About who man is:

Now God designed the human machine to run on Himself.  He Himself is the fuel our bodies were designed to burn, or the food our spirits were designed to feed on.

God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there.

No man knows how bad he is till he has tried very hard to be good.

To love and admire anything outside yourself is to take one step away from utter spiritual ruin; though we shall not be well so long as we love and admire anything more than we love and admire God. 

About Jesus:

A man who was merely a man and said the things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher.  He would either be a lunatic…or else he would be the Devil of Hell…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 patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher.  He has not left that open to us.  He did not intend to. 

We never find out the strength of the evil impulse inside us until we try to fight it:  and Christ, because He was the only man who never yielded to temptation, is also the only man who knows to the full what temptation means–the only complete realist.

The Second Person in God, the Son, became human Himself…The Eternal Being, who knows everything and who created the whole universe, became not only a man but (before that) a baby, and before that a fetus inside a Woman’s body.  If you want to get the hang of it, think how you would like to become a slug or a crab. 

About Christians: 

That is why the Christian is in a different position from other people who are trying to be good.  They [other people] hope, by being good, to please God if there is one; or–if they think there is not–at least they hope to deserve approval from good men.  But the Christian thinks any good he does comes from the Christ-life inside him.  He does not think God will love us because we are good, but that God will make us good because he loves us; just as the roof of a greenhouse does not attract the sun because it is bright, but becomes bright because the sun shines on it.

God is no fonder of intellectual slackers than any other slackers.

About denominations:

In regards to joining with a particular “communion” by which it seems he means denomination, Lewis make the analogy of Christendom being a “hall out of which doors open into several rooms.”  He states:

And above all you must be asking which door is the true one; not which one pleases you most by its paint and panelling.  In plain language, the question should never be:  “Do I like that kind of service?” but “Are these doctrines true:  Is holiness here?  Does my conscience move me towards this?  Is my reluctance to knock at this door due to my pride, or my mere taste, or my personal dislike of this particular doorkeeper?”

Menu Plan Monday: March 31 – April 6, 2008

March 31, 2008

Menu Plan Monday 

Several recipes listed this week are holdovers from last week as we went to a friend’s house one night, ate out on Sunday, had a vegetable night ( I got a little over excited at the local fruit & veggie stand) etc.  We did try the Tuna Cakes and Roasted Red Potatoes with Bacon & Cheese last week.  Everyone liked the tuna cakes.  The potatoes were good also, but I would give one caution.  If they are larger new potatoes, then cut them smaller than quarters.  It took forever to get them soft, and I cooked them 20 minutes longer than the recipe called for, with at least half of the overall cooking time at a higher temperature than called for.  We also made the Creamed Spinach Ravioli and the Easy Creamy Baked Asparagus.  The ravioli was just okay to me, but the asparagus were a BIG hit.  My daughter absolutely loved them!  We will definitely make these again.  Best of all, they were EASY to make, and QUICK, to boot.

Here is the menu for this week:

Monday:  Pulled Chicken Sandwiches (I am substituting chicken breast for the thighs since I already have it), fruit (holdover from last week)

Tuesday:  Teriyaki Pork Chops, Crunchy Asian Broccoli Coleslaw, Dessert (The coleslaw is a new recipe we’re trying that was a holdover from last week.)

Wednesday:  Leftovers

Thursday:  Cheddar Baked Chicken, Steamed Broccoli, Seasoned Rice

Friday:  Dinner with friends…I am making an ice cream dessert and if it’s good, I’ll let you know next week!

Saturday:  We may not be home for dinner, so I am leaving it unplanned.

Sunday:  Leftovers

For more menu planning ideas, click on the banner above.  Have a great week in the kitchen!

Menu Plan Monday: March 24 – 30, 2008

March 24, 2008

Menu Plan Monday 

Well, after a wonderful and much needed weekend away with my husband, I am back to the routine (and hence, back to cooking, but, hey, I enjoy it).  I am trying to get a little more variety, vegetables, and healthiness in our menu.  We’ll see how that goes over with the family.

If you notice that I have gone wild with recipes from a certain source, just know that their newest free magazine came in, and I decided to try a bunch of the recipes.

Monday:  Tuna Cakes, Roasted Red Potatoes with Bacon & Cheese, and a salad

Tuesday:  Creamed Spinach Ravioli (I am using the healthy living version), Easy Creamy Baked Asparagus

Wednesday:  sandwiches, soup, or leftovers

Thursday:  Grilled Chicken and Bacon Spinach Salad, fruit, bread

Friday:  Teriyaki Chicken, Crunchy Asian Broccoli Coleslaw

Saturday:  Pulled Chicken Sandwiches (I am substituting chicken breast for the thighs since I already have it and hope to use a lower sodium BBQ sauce), fruit

Sunday:  Leftovers

To join Menu Plan Monday or to see other menu ideas, click on the banner above.  Happy Cooking!

On Being Kinder to My Children

March 20, 2008

The school our children attend had this printed in one of the folders we received at the beginning of the year.  Recently, as I sat and looked at it, I was convicted that I need, even in discipline, to speak in a much kinder tone to my children.  Indeed, I have a duty to display kindness to them in my actions and words.  These words were so good that I thought I would share them with others. 

O Heavenly Father, make me a better parent.  Teach me to understand my children, to listen patiently to what they have to say, and to answer all their questions kindly.  Keep me from interrupting them or contradicting them.  Make me as courteous to them as I would have them be to me. 

Forbid that I should ever laugh at their mistakes, or resort to shame or ridicule when they displease me.  May I never punish them for my own selfish satisfaction or to show my power.  Let me not tempt my child to lie or steal.  And guide me hour by hour that I may demonstrate by all I say and do that honesty produces happiness. 

Reduce, I pray, the meanness in me.  And when I am out of sorts, help me, O Lord, to hold my tongue.  May I ever be mindful that my children are children and I should not expect of them the judgement of adults.  Let me not rob them of the opportunity to wait on themselves and to make decisions.  Bless me with the bigness to grant them all their reasonable requests and the courage to deny them privileges I know will do them harm. 

Make me fair and just and kind.  And fit me, O Lord, to be loved and respected and imitated by my children.

Compliments Webster’s International, Inc. “The Parent Involvement Specialists”