In his highly recommended biography of C.S. Lewis, The Narnian: The Life and Imagination of C. S. Lewis, Alan Jacobs reflects on the change in Lewis’s life after he became a Christian. Jacobs says that in Lewis’s older writings he doesn’t sound like himself:

I first read a book by C.S. Lewis twenty-five years ago, and I have been reading his work consistently since then. I know his writerly voice quite well, as well as I know anyone’s; it is utterly distinctive. And the most dominant feeling I get when I read his early letters–that is, those written in his first thirty years of life – – is that in none of them does he sound like himself. The pre-conversion Lewis is, though obviously  highly intelligent, neither a particularly likable nor a particularly interesting person — at least in his letters. C.S. LewisHe may have been delightful to know, though I doubt it. But once he “admitted that God was God,” it is as though the key to his own hidden and locked-away personality was given to him. What appears almost immediately is a kind of gusto-(sheer, bold enthusiasm for what he loves) that is characteristic of him ever after (page 131).

See also:

C.S. Lewis: The Problem Isn’t That We Want Too Much, We Want Too Little

C.S. Lewis: We Make Men Without Chests and Expect of Them Virtue

Keller and Piper Talk C.S. Lewis

C.S. Lewis and One of His Last Hurdles to Belief

C.S. Lewis: The Possibility of Short Term Defeat Makes the Adventure

C.S. Lewis: Christianity is Not the Sort of Thing Anyone Would Have Made Up

Puddleglum’s Lesson

C.S. Lewis: Literature Enlarges Our Being

Make No Mistake: God is Not in the Dock

C.S. Lewis on Chivalry

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This Spring I will be speaking at the Church and Culture Conference in Wisconsin. This year’s topic is, “A Biblical Approach to Homosexuality.” A central part of my preparation is meditating on 1 Peter 3:13-17. You can watch a promo video for the conference below.

but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, [16] having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. 1 Peter 3:15-16

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It seemed more likely that Harper Lee would publish a sequel than that Rosario Butterfield would convert to Christianity, and yet . . . Below Rosario describes why her conversion could be described as particularly unlikely.

Why Rosaria Butterfield Calls Herself an "Unlikely Convert" from Radical on Vimeo.

For more, see Radical.Net.

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How Paul Identifies Himself

Chris —  January 30, 2015 — Leave a comment

It’s instructive to consider how Paul opens his letters. Titus is my favorite. Philemon is the only one where he refers to himself as a prisoner.

I’m going to wait in line to talk to Paul on the New Earth.


Paul’s Designation (ESV)

1 Corinthians Paul, called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus
2 Corinthians Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God
Galatians Paul, an apostle—not from men nor through man, but through God
Ephesians Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God
Philippians Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus
Colossians Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God
1 Thessalonians Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy
2 Thessalonians Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy
1 Timothy Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope
2 Timothy Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God according to the promise of the life that is in Christ Jesus
Titus Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and the knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness, in hope of eternal life, which God who never lies, promised before the ages began and at the proper time manifested in his word through preaching with which I have been entrusted by the command of God our Savior
Philemon Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus
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Unpacking Forgiveness in Cambodia

Chris —  January 29, 2015 — 1 Comment

christopher-lapelI highly recommend this story of forgiveness.

An estimated 1.4 million died at the hands of the Khmer Rouge in the Killing Fields of Cambodia. The film company Moving Works has produced a new movie that shows how the light of Christ can shine in the darkest places possible. This film is:

An astonishing story of God’s love and grace, The Foremost chronicles the journey of Christopher LaPel, a Cambodian pastor who escaped the clutches of the Khmer Rouge regime only to return and cross paths with one of the most feared men in the country’s dark history. It’s an honest and hope-filled film that will challenge your views on forgiveness and grace no matter what you believe.

The Foremost from Moving Works on Vimeo.


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HT: Challies

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Reminders from Our Church Children

Chris —  January 13, 2015 — 2 Comments

FullSizeRenderSunday I wasn’t preaching so I had the rare privilege of spending time with some of our church children. Here’s how they encouraged me (with some reminders too):

  • One little girl improvised her own songs during craft time. To an unknown melody she sang, “My mommy will like this picture . . . she will think it is beautiful.” One of the greatest compliments a little girl can give her parents is to be happy.
  • A little boy told me that his dad reads him the story about Jesus making a lame man walk. We need more dads  who read Bible stories! Deut 6:4-9. (Get this book!)
  • I learned new rules to “Duck, Duck, Goose.” I didn’t know that if you’re too slow you sit in the middle as “duck soup.” I like the rule because it meant I got to sit with a cute little girl. I hope mothers never stop buying black patent leather shoes.
  • Several of the children reminded me that I have been to their houses. I wish I could clone myself.
  • I wasn’t ready with any story in particular so we went over my favorites. One little boy predicted that the lions would eat Daniel. They knew most of the stories before I got to the end. The children especially remembered stories with songs (Luke 19:1-9, Matthew 7:24-27). Sing.
  • I’ve stayed in the valley that inspired Tolkein about Rivendell. I’ve been to the palace of Versailles. But it doesn’t matter where you go in the world, the most beautiful site is childrenChildren are an easy first. Nothing else comes close.
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I’m predicting that the book described in the below video will become a very significant resource for our church. And I hope the distinction between systematic theology and biblical theology is one that our leaders can learn now. When I saw this video I was planning to ask Chris to preach at our church. Then I figured out he is in Hawaii so I’m now trying to figure out how I can get him to ask me to preach . . .

Currently, I’m preparing to start a series on the Sermon on the Mount. But we’re already praying about our emphases in 2016 (if you can believe that) and our plan is to take our church through the Bible in a year (D.V.). It will take a lot of work to prepare for surveying the Bible in a year. One of our goals for the series will be to show how important it is to keep the big picture of Scripture in mind.

I think I’ve found a resource for seeing the big picture of the Bible. In the below video, Chris Bruno describes why he wrote a new book, “The Whole Story of the Bible in 16 Verses.” This book will help the average reader see the storyline of Scripture from a high altitude. I wouldn’t be surprised if we use this book as a church in 2016.

00:00 – How can you cover the whole story of the Bible in just 16 verses?
01:14 – Can you give us some examples from the book of how you do this?
04:22 – What is biblical theology and why is it important?
08:08 – How did your identity as a pastor, husband, and dad help you write this book?
12:15 – What do you hope the Lord accomplishes through this book?

Justin Taylor Interviews Chris Bruno, Co-author of “The Whole Story of the Bible in 16 Verses” from Crossway on Vimeo.

See also: The message of the Bible in 221 Words.

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MatthewstudyOn January 25, I will begin a preaching series, Astonished: A New Series on the Sermon on the Mount. Here are 7 reasons I am really excited for it to begin. Some of my enthusiasm is evident in my study notes and you can see a draft of them here.

1.  Jesus promised that in hearing his words and in following him we find rest for our souls (Matthew 11:28-30). So many people in our community are weighed down and worn out. I can’t wait to share how Christ offers rest.

2. The Sermon on the Mount includes some of the most famous truths ever proclaimed:

·      The Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13)

·      The Golden Rule (Matthew 7:12)

·      Judge Not Lest Ye Be Judged (Matthew 7:1)

·      The Beatitudes (Matthew 5:2-12)

·      A Major Section on Worry (Matthew 6:25-34)

There is a reason these paragraphs are famous! Let’s meditate on them together.

3.     The Sermon on the Mount changed the world.  This is no exaggeration. We will see how so much of the Sermon on the Mount has shaped our understanding of ethics and morality.

4.     The Sermon on the Mount is a manageable length. In my Bible, Matthew 5-7 is less than four pages long. These pages can be read over and over again. There is no reason everyone in our church can’t really get to know the greatest sermon every preached.

5.     Our church has made it possible for me to prepare. I’ve spent a lot of time prayerfully studying. I have some of the best resources in the history of the world.  The picture to the right is just a portion of my library. It’s a great day to meditate on and proclaim the Sermon on the Mount.  You can see a draft of some of my notes here. Keep in mind it’s a draft of my own study notes so there are lots of errors and things that need to be reworded.

6.     The Sermon on the Mount tells how we can be part of the Kingdom of God. Our joy is only as big as what we’re a part of. The Sermon on the Mount tells how we can be part of the biggest thing in the history of the universe.

7.     Most important, the Sermon on the Mount is the featured sermon of the Lord Jesus Christ. Could any sermon be more exciting to study and preach?

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Christ said his disciples are the "salt" of the world.Update: You can see how my study progressed here with a draft of sermon on the mount terms and definitions.

What did I miss?

January 25, I plan to begin a new preaching series on the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). Understanding key concepts is indispensable in seeing the rich beauty of the heart of Jesus’s message. So, one of the ways I prepare for series like this one is to make a glossary of terms that I make available to our people one way or another.

If you want to help, read through Matthew 5-7 and see if you can identify any terms or concepts that need to be defined not found on my list. Here is my list thus far.

What else would help you understand the Sermon on the Mount?

Working Glossary for the Sermon on the Mount

Beatitude –

Kingdom of Heaven / Kingdom of God –

Disciples / Disciple –

Fasting –

Gentiles –

Jews –

The Law –

Light –

Macarism –

Matthew’s Gospel –

Mountain / Mount –

Oath –

Pharisees –

Synagogue –

Salt –

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