Sunday, January 19, 2014

Youth and family thought: Discipling through disappointment

If you are alive, have a family it is likely that you have experienced disappointment together....
Gill Briggs is a worshiper of Jesus, a mother, a wife and drinker of great tea and coffee and shares an insight into what it means to disciple our children through disappointment....visit

Devotional: 40 day journey with Dietrich Bonhoeffer

This devotional takes you on a 40 day journey through the writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer.  

Biblical Wisdom
Questions to Ponder
What is Jesus’ “commandment” that we are to follow?
Psalm snippet
Journal Reflections
Prayer for Today

Article: The conversion of CS Lewis by Steen Olsen

The Conversion of CS Lewis - A Thinker's Journey to Faith
During the Christmas break I read three novels and Alister McGrath’s new biography of C.S. Lewis. [C.S. Lewis : A Life – Eccentric Genius. Reluctant Prophet. Hodder & Stoughton, 2013.]. While I have read a considerable amount of Lewis over the years I had never read his story before.
In these few lines I do not want to attempt a review or even a summary of the book. I just want to pick up a few of McGrath’s comments about Lewis’s journey to faith that got me into some New Year thinking about the work of the Spirit in bringing Jesus into the lives of thinking people. He draws in particular on Mere Christianity and Surprised by Joy. I was struck by how this story speaks to the children of post-modernism and not just to those caught up in the fundamentalism and rationalism of modernism. Therein lies its relevance for us today.
Lewis was an avowed atheist (before his journey to belief in God and finally coming to faith in Jesus Christ over 1929-31) who in addition to his speciality in English literature lectured on philosophy at Oxford. Quoting Evelyn Waugh, McGrath draws attention to “the remarkable capacity of the Christian faith to make sense of the world in general and human nature in particular. It provided a lens which brought the distorted world around [Lewis] into sharp focus, allowing him to understand it properly for the first time. … Lewis comments on his discovery in the early 1920s of the surprising depth of the literature shaped by and grounded in the Christian faith. … [These writers] did not persuade Lewis to believe in God; rather, they led him to think that such a belief offered a rich and robust vision of human life, making him wonder whether there might, after all, be something to be said for their way of thinking.” [p133f]
“Lewis’s literary reflections … resonate with his own inner personal quest for truth and meaning. In part, Lewis’s deep love for the best literature of the Middle Ages reflects his belief that it had found something that modernity had lost – and that he himself yearned to recover.” [135]
“Gradually, the pieces of the jigsaw began to fall into place…. In Surprised by Joy, Lewis sets out the series of moves which led him to faith in God, using a chessboard analogy. None of these is logically or philosophically decisive; all are at best suggestive. Yet their force lies not in their individual importance, but in their cumulative weight. Lewis portrays these, not as moves which he made, but moves that were made against him. The narrative of Surprised by Joy is not that of Lewis’s discovery of God, but of God’s patient approach to Lewis.
What Lewis describes … is not a process of logical deduction … but much more like a process of crystallisation, by which things that were hitherto disconnected and unrelated are suddenly seen to fit into a greater scheme of things, which both affirms their validity and indicates their interconnectedness. Things fall into place.” [136]
McGrath quotes the French physicist Henri PoincarĂ©: “It is by logic that we prove, but by intuition that we discover.” “Lewis found himself compelled to accept a vision of reality that he did not really wish to be true, and certainly did not cause to be true.” [136]
Lewis comes to a point where he “describes an assertive, active, and questing God, not simply a mental construct or philosophical game. God was pounding on the door of Lewis’s mind and life. Reality was imposing itself upon him, vigorously and aggressively demanding a response.” Lewis said, “Amiable Agnostics will talk cheerfully about ‘man’s search for God.’ To me, as I then was, they might as well have talked about the mouse’s search for the cat.” [138] “What Lewis discovered was that he could no longer domesticate reality. Like a tiger, it refused to be constrained by its artificial cage. It broke free, and overwhelmed its former captor.
Lewis finally bowed to what he now recognised as inevitable. … ‘I gave in, and admitted God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England.’ Lewis now believed in God; he was not yet a Christian.” [139]
On 19 September 1931 Lewis spent an evening with Hugo Dyson a lecturer in English at Reading University and JRR Tolkien of Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit fame, who also taught at Oxford. On 1st October Lewis wrote to his friend Arthur Grieves saying, “I have just passed from believing in God to definitely believing in Christ – in Christianity. I will try to explain this another time. My long night talk with Dyson and Tolkien had a good deal to do with it.” He further explained this in his next letter dated 18th October. He said that he had difficulty understanding how the life and death or someone a long time ago could help us here and now.
It was Tolkien, more than anyone else, who helped Lewis along this final road to faith. “Tolkien helped Lewis to realise that the problem lay not in Lewis’s rational failure to understand the theory, but in his imaginative failure to grasp its significance. The issue was not primarily about truth, but about meaning. When engaging the Christian narrative, Lewis was limiting himself to his reason when he ought to be opening himself to the deepest intuitions of his imagination.” [149]
“Tolkien’s way of thinking clearly spoke deeply to Lewis. It answered a question that had troubled Lewis since his teenage years: how could Christianity alone be true, and everything else be false. Lewis now realised that he did not have to declare that the great myths of the pagan age were totally false; they were echoes or anticipations of the full truth, which was made known only in and through the Christian faith. Christianity brings to fulfilment and completion imperfect and partial insights about reality, scattered abroad in human culture. … Perhaps more important, Tolkien allowed Lewis to connect the worlds of reason and imagination. … Reason and imagination alike were … affirmed and reconciled by the Christian view of reality. Tolkien thus helped Lewis to realise that a ‘rational’ faith was not necessarily imaginatively and emotionally barren. When rightly understood, the Christian faith could integrate reason, longing, and imagination.” [150f]
…and if you have read this far, you should probably consider reading the whole biography!

New Year’s blessings!
Pastor Steen Olsen
LCA SANT Mission Update

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Evangelism involves......sharing what is good about God's church (His people)

Take some time to think about your conversations about God and the church over the last week or two.  Have they been dominated by positive, good news or negative, bad news?
One day two brothers Mark and Matthew who went to the same church left church and went to visit their mother who was sick in bed.  When they arrived their mother asked, how was church?   To which Mark replied…. not good…the sermon went for too long, the singing was dreadful, someone forgot to put on the heaters, there were some strange people there who sat in the Jones’ pew which upset them and the coffee was terrible…She then turned to Matthew who replied…..ahh the sermon was spot on Pastor made some great points and I was able to understand something a bit clearer I had been struggling with, it was great to have a couple of new songs, there were four new families and two of them said they would be joining us, Mr Rupert who hadn’t been at church since he had the argument with Joshua was back and I had a great conversation with your friend Ida over coffee.   Their mother said “did you both go to the same church?….Matthew can you pick me up next week and take me to your church?”
The reality is in church many things are happening….some good and some not so good…at times even the one event can be seen as good by some but not good by others.   God encourages us to speak what is good about His church, which means talking what is good about His people to others, because that is part of sharing God’s good news.