Learning How to Think

Hey TD!

Now that we are fully vested into the summer, I’d love to encourage you to brush up your mental game, so to speak.  The Apostle Paul exhorts us to not be conformed to the patterns of this world, but to be TRANSFORMED … how? … by the RENEWING OF OUR MINDS (Rom. 12).  In a culture that is increasingly thinking with its feelings, Ravi Zacharias cautions us to remember that our feelings ought to be connected to thinking, and our thinking ought to be right; if we don’t think rightly, we will feel the repercussions of whatever it is that we’re thinking.  As Proverbs 23:7 comments, “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.”

RZIM’s  Margaret Manning perceptively and honestly challenges us to work through the origins of our own thought patterns with the following contribution to RZIM’s A Slice of Infinity.  Think about it! – Arthur

Learning How to Think

by Margaret Manning Shull

There are patterns of thought that come as natural to us as our daily routines. These patterns of thought emerge from constructs and experiences that color and shape the way in which we view the world and they can emerge in the most unexpected ways. Sometimes we simply repeat what we have heard. Mindless phrases spill out of our mouths forming the patterns of response—even when the response is incongruent with the situation. “It is what it is,” we say, when compassionate silence is called for or “Everything has a reason” when faced with inexplicable chaos.

I recognize in my own life how these patterns of thought belie my true way of viewing the world, much to my chagrin. Oftentimes, they reveal callousness to the suffering of others. I’ll tell someone, “I’ll keep you in my thoughts and prayers” as a substitute for tangible assistance. Or my desire to fit every happening into a neat, understandable package compels me to speak when I first should listen.

Alexej von Jawlensky, The Thinking Woman, oil on canvas, 1912.Regardless of the situation, it seems a sad reality that so often these patterns of thought and action revolve around placing the self at the center of everything. Many function as if the world really does revolve around the immediate and urgent demands of living one’s own life. Everything is simply an incursion into the routine of putting me, myself, and I front and center. I automatically feel offended, for example, when cut off in traffic. I instinctively feel slighted or defensive that my very presence doesn’t delight and soothe the unhappy. I groan at the inconvenience of having to wait in another line and when I finally have my turn, I take offense at the clerk who doesn’t smile at me the way in which I think I deserve.

In his lauded address to graduates of Kenyon College, the late author David Foster Wallace exposed the routines of thought and action that place the self at the center.(1) In his remarks regarding the benefits of a liberal arts education in shaping one’s ability to think, he suggests that it is the “most obvious, important realities that are the hardest to talk about.”(2) In other words, one of those obvious realities is that when left to our own devices humans think and behave in self-centered ways. But it is one of those routines of thought that mostly goes unmentioned. He continues, “The choice is really about what to think about and how we think about it…to have just a little critical awareness….Because a huge percentage of the stuff that I tend to be automatically certain of is, it turns out, totally wrong and deluded.”(3) Rarely, Foster Wallace notes, do we think about how we think because what is revealed is that we are basically selfish in action and thought 99% of the time.

But what if we really made thinking about how we think the routine? Foster Wallace conducts a thought experiment to illustrate how this can be done. What if the car that cuts me off in traffic is not about being in my way or being rude to me, but is a father trying to rush his sick son to the hospital or the doctor and I am in his way? What if the person who is critical of me or sullen towards me has only known criticism and neglect her whole life? What if the grocery bagger is not without social skills, but someone who has had little opportunity, whose parents’ have recently split up, and whose general home life is nothing but misery? How different these situations might look if I took the time to think! Indeed, what if my routine became first thinking of the other person?

One of the beautiful aspects of the Christian story is that we really don’t have to live for ourselves in order to find the good life. In fact, the opposite is true: those who seek to save their lives will lose them. Jesus offered an alternative vision as the one who came to serve. As the apostle Paul encouraged the Philippian Christians to not merely look out for their own interests, but also to have the interests of others in mind, he looked to the life of Jesus. “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who although he existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself taking the form of a servant and made in the likeness of human beings.”(4) How different the world might look if each day we took time to think about the needs of someone else—even just once per day? In so doing, how might that change the very patterns of thought that conspire to keep us living at the center of our own universe, embittered by all the ways we’ve been slighted?

Foster Wallace concludes his address by telling the Kenyon graduates:

“Our own present culture has harnessed these forces in ways that have yielded extraordinary wealth and comfort and personal freedom. The freedom all to be lords of our tiny skull-sized kingdoms, alone at the center of all creation…. But of course there are all different kinds of freedom, and the kind that is most precious you will not hear much talk about in the great outside world of wanting and achieving. The really important kind of freedom involves attention and awareness and discipline, and being able to truly care about other people and to sacrifice for them over and over in myriad of petty and unsexy ways every day.”(3)

In a world that isn’t always sure what it thinks about Christianity, Jesus stands inviting us to encounter a very different kind of kingdom at the center of all creation, a kingdom in which he, the suffering servant, is Lord. In this kingdom marked by his living example of sacrifice and care, it is most freeing to discover you are far from alone.

Margaret Manning Shull is a member of the speaking and writing team at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Bellingham, Washington.

(1) David Foster Wallace, “This is Water,” Commencement Address, Kenyon College Graduation, Kenyon, Ohio, 2005.
(2) Ibid.
(3) Ibid.

 

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Summer Trips Deadlines Approaching

***TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE. INQUIRE VERY SOON!***

Hey TD!

One thing that made Los Angeles Lakers legend, Magic Johnson, one of the best basketball players of all time was his resolve to continue to get better each year; and the summer is when he went to work on adding new dimensions to his game before each new season.

Summer is an awesome opportunity to for you to “up your game” too. Whether it’s going overseas or staying in the US to serve others in Christ’s Name (and growing immensely in the process) or going to a special conference focused on helping to equip you better for the journey ahead, prayerfully consider how you can make the most of this summer to grow in honoring the Lord.

Here are some trips to consider that some fellow TD’ers and TD leaders will be participating in – Bring Me Hope’s Summer Camp, RZIM’s ReFresh Conference, and our very own Youth Summer Missions Project (YSMP). Check them out below:

Bring Me Hope Summer Camp 2019

Week 1: July 8 – 12 (Hsiehs, Calvin)

Week 2: July 15 – 19 (Calvin)

Week 3: July 22 – 26 (Megan, Calvin)

Week 4: July 29 – August 2 (Megan, Calvin)

TO LOVE

Our five day summer camps center around bringing forgotten children out of orphanages to experience a week of fun, love, and attention. This often includes many firsts for the kids—their first time swimming, eating ice cream and hearing “I love you”. Demonstrating God’s love in action is what camp is all about.

TO DEFEND

Most overseas trips end when you fly home, leaving you with only memories and pictures. However, our desire is for you to continue to have an impact long after you’ve left camp. Through our advocacy program, you can bring awareness to your child’s needs and even help find adoptive families. Our goal is to equip volunteers to defend vulnerable children.

DAY 1: The kids are coming! Today, you become a proud “parent” as you and your translator(s) are paired with 1-2 children to form a family group. Spend the day getting to know each other before you begin an amazing week of camp!

DAY 2-4: Let the fun begin! Camp is filled with activities for your family group to enjoy together. From arts & crafts to talent shows to dance parties, this is a week for your child to explore new experiences in a safe environment. You will have the unique opportunity to empower these children and show them unconditional love during camp. These are the moments that Bring Me Hope Camp was created for!

DAY 5: Today is the day that the children go home to the orphanage. It’s a bittersweet celebration of the relationships you’ve created and how far your family group has come in just 5 short days. It becomes more than just the last day of camp; You are left with memories and passion to do something about this orphan crisis.

AFTER CAMP: Bring Me Hope will provide you with the skills and training to make a greater impact on these children’s lives when you fly back home. You will be given the privilege to be an advocate for the children’s needs and help them find adoptive families!

If you have detailed questions about the camp, you can ask Megan, Calvin, Rebecca, Elissa, Sissi, or Abigail, who all have been.  Check out BMH Summer Camp and contact a TD leader if you have interest in going this summer.

If you are interested in doing the Bring Me Hope internship, ask Megan, Calvin, Angela, Sissi, or Aileen what they’ve been doing: BMH Internship

“ReFresh: Ready For College?” Conference for High School and College Students

Image result for refresh: ready for college?

Hosted by Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM)

July 18-21, 2019 @ The Zacharias Institute in Atlanta, GA

“I’m lost. I’ve gone to find myself. If I should turn up while I’m out, tell myself to wait here.” These words, written on a sign in a bookstore in downtown Atlanta, capture the feeling of displacement that High School and college students across America are struggling with today. We don’t know who we are anymore. In a world swept up in identity politics, our own identities, both as individuals and as Christians, can feel less secure than ever.

This summer, at our annual ReFresh: Ready for College? conference, we will be addressing the question that Jesus himself once asked his disciples: “Who do you say that I am?” This was the most important question that the disciples had to answer, and our response to this same question remains just as critical for our own lives. Truth, justice, morality, sexuality, freedom, meaning, love, identity: everything that we care about, everything that we live for, all of these are grounded by the answer to that one question. To know Jesus is to know ourselves. Only when we are confident of who he is can we be sure of who we are, and what he has called us to.

So if you’re a junior or senior in High School or a college freshman, then don’t miss the opportunity this coming June to get time away with each other, with members of the RZIM speaking team, and most importantly of all, with God.

 

Check out ReFresh: Ready For College for more info and contact a TD leader if you are interested.

YSMP 2019

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YSMP is our youth short-term mission trip to the Native American reservations in Arizona. The dates are July 5-13, 2019 and the cost is $170 per person. Our two-fold purpose and prayer for this mission trip is:

1) To participate in the proclamation of God’s glory in the gospel by bringing annual short-term support the local church pastors and congregations within the Native American Reservations in Arizona. Our aim is to hear the needs and vision of the local church pastor and assist the church with our team.

2) To provide a learning experience for our youth and other church members who want to explore cross-cultural missions. We desire for participants to get a sense of the devotion to Christ, training, focus, and flexibility it takes to be on mission, to be challenged to share their faith, and to have their eyes opened to the need for the gospel in less-reached areas.

Each year the YSMP coordinators touch base with each church in the reservation sites to see what kind of support they would like from the STM team. Generally, what that support takes form in:

1) VBS and Youth Camp

2) Visitations and Evangelism

3) Adult Bible Studies

4) Work Projects and Harvest Night

Prayerfully consider joining us on this short-term mission trip! If you have any questions, contact Robert at bobert.chan@gmail.com.

Easter Reflection from Ravi – “No More or Not Here?”

Hey TD!

The Apostle Paul said that if Christ has not risen from the dead, we (Christ followers) are to be most pitied.  He’s absolutely right.  Jesus’ bodily resurrection makes all the difference in this world and the next. That’s Easter hope.

World renowned apologist Ravi Zacharias shares some reflections on Easter hope, a hope I hope you’ll have soon.  Enjoy. – Arthur

 

No More or Not Here?

An Easter Reflection from Ravi Zacharias

There is a hotel where I have stayed frequently over the last thirty years. I know many of the staff and every time I return, they give me the best and kindest hospitality. I have found that when you talk to people, you learn so much about life at different economic levels, but all with the same challenges.

One of my favorite people was a bellman called Raj. He took particular care to make sure I never violated my doctor’s orders to not lift heavy suitcases. Whenever I checked in, he would bring my bags and set them up in my room. We often talked politics and spiritual issues. He was a very intelligent gentleman and a great conversationalist. I’ll never forget his statement on politics in his country. “They are not political parties, Sir. They are cartels scheming and manipulating. We pay the price for our foolishness,” he said. Fascinating take.

This time when I stayed there, I didn’t see him the first day so I assumed it was his day off. When I didn’t see him the second day, I asked one of the other bellman if Raj was on vacation.

“Oh no, Sir. He is no more,” came the reply.

Quite surprised at the phrase, I asked if he didn’t work there anymore. The reply came repeating the phrase: “No Sir. He is no more. He died last month.” I was shocked because the man was in his fifties. Evidently he had gone home one night after work, told his wife that he was not feeling well, and went to bed after a very light snack. When she tried to wake him up for breakfast, he had already breathed his last.

“He is no more.”

That phrase is pretty defining, isn’t it? The famed writer Nikos Kazantzakis, who had his run-ins with the church over his very controversial “The Last Temptation of Christ,” asked that the following words be put on his gravestone:

Den elpizo tipota.
Den fovumai tipota.
Elmai eleftheros.

I hope for nothing.
I fear nothing.
I am free.

Very cavalier statements, except that he is not there to defend those propositions. So it is much more meant to impress the reader than tell you anything about the departed one, whether he was justified in what he said or not. And as to his state of mind after death, all of those sentiments are an ultimate category mistake. If he doesn’t exist, attributing those sentiments brings to mind what Aristotle would have said in defining “nothing”: That which rocks dream about. A rock never hopes, fears, or seeks freedom. That is for the living.

The whole message of Easter defines this longing to be. After Jesus rose from the dead, the women went to visit where they had placed the body. The angel they met did not say, “He is no more!” He said, “Why are you looking for the living among the dead? He is not here: He is risen” (Luke 24:5-6).

That statement defines everything about who we are. For the one who has given his or her life to Jesus, we will never ever “Not be!” We are meant to be in his presence eternally. The very phrase “goodbye” is a contraction of “God be with you.” It is the same with “adios”: “Go with God.”

Our hearts long for intimacy. Heaven is the consummate intimacy of the spirit. That is not a category mistake; rather, it defines the ultimate expression of life in its essence. Our spirit in communion with his. The closest thing to a touch felt by the Spirit.

The time will come when we also will have to say goodbye or adios for the last time. When that happens, how wonderful to know that those who speak for us do not have to say, “He is no more.” They can victoriously say, “He is not here; he is risen.”

The gospel message from beginning to end is dependent on this promise of Jesus that he would rise again. That unsealed tomb is the seal of his promise as the giver of eternal life. Over the centuries, skeptics have gone to ludicrous lengths to try and explain why his enemies could not present his body. That would have been all they needed to quash this rumor of his resurrection. But it wasn’t a rumor. It was a fulfilled promise seen by vast numbers, and it changed the course of history.

Luke was a physician. He knew what happened to a body when it died. He writes of the resurrection and the work of the early church. The resurrection was seen and lived out. It was the event that told the world that ultimately history is His Story of what life was meant to be.

The noted writer and atheist turned follower of Jesus A.N. Wilson said that he was at an Easter service when he saw the sham and the hollowness of his life without God. He described his conversion to atheism as “a Damascus road experience” and his return to Jesus as a slow arduous process through doubt and struggle. Part of that struggle made him see the difference of the logic that drove Hitler to his mission and Bonhoeffer to his. The belief and its consequences were worlds apart. He clearly saw the value of life in keeping with the message of Jesus and the hope and the joy of the Christian message. The faith that he once attacked, he now embraced. It all happened in a small church as he heard the message and listened to the hymns. Death was no longer to be feared, not because we are brilliant or daring or write prize-winning books as Kazantzakis did, but because Jesus lives to give us life everlasting. Even the atheist Anthony Flew granted that this was the litmus test of the Christian faith, and if true would define life.

Billy Graham tells the story of German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer looking at the ruins of war and saying to Mr. Graham, “Outside of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, I know of no other hope for mankind.”

The conversion of Saul to Paul and the skeptic Thomas showed how two of the finest thinkers of their time were willing to pay with their lives after seeing the risen Jesus. One went east and the other went west. Today, more bend their knees to Jesus than to any other name.

This same trip that began in one country for me ended in Bangkok, Thailand, two weeks later. Every day as I looked outside my window, I would look scrutinizingly across the Chao Phraya River, because it looked to me like a cemetery on the other side. So I inquired of the bellman if indeed there was a cemetery on the other side of the river. He said he thought so. I hailed a ride and went over there. The main reason was to see perchance if my dear friend Koos Fietje, who was murdered in Thailand in 1981 at the age of 38, could be buried there. Bangkok is a massive city. But I was sure the Christian burial sites would not be many. As I entered, I noticed there were gravestones going back to the 1800s. I walked through the cemetery looking in every direction. Suddenly I came upon the stone you see here in the United States. I was shocked. Koos and I were very close in our undergraduate days. He paid with his life for the gospel. The last time we met was in Bangkok in 1974. He died in 1981. This was 2019. He died at the age of 38. I was standing by his grave 38 years later. Koos served as a missionary with Overseas Missionary Fellowship.

I placed some flowers at his grave and thought back on what a powerful life he had lived. Yes, there were tears.  When I went back, the bellman asked me if I found it. I showed him the picture. He looked at it and said, “What this means?” He was pointing to the verse on the stone, “For me to live is Christ but to die is gain.” I did my best to explain it to him. I saw a tear in his eye.

Two bellmen. Two weeks apart, two countries apart. Both had a tear. One because of a loss. The other because of a gain. The resurrection of Jesus makes the difference.

The hymn writer said it triumphantly:

Up from the grave He arose,
With a mighty triumph o’er His foes
He arose a Victor from the dark domain,
And he lives forever with his saints to reign.
He arose! He arose!
Hallelujah! Christ arose!

That is why the Easter greeting is not, “He is no more.” Rather it is, “He is risen!”

And the joyful reply, “He is risen indeed.”

Happy Easter!

Ravi, on behalf of all of us at RZIM

‘When You Feel Like a (Christian) Imposter’

Hey TD,
Do you feel like a “Christian” imposter? You know the Christian life is meant to be lived much differently than the way you’re living your life, but you don’t really know where to start in beginning to change.  You’re in a comfortable routine (aka a rut) that doesn’t really require much thought or active Christian love; but it looks “Christian” enough.  On the inside, though, you know there’s no transformation taking place.  What to do?
If this sounds like you, please read on and then reach out to your small group leader, who will discuss it with you and help walk you through the rut.  What is there to lose? – Arthur

What if you feel out of place among Christians or in church? What if we feel we don’t belong?

Article By

This piece originally appeared on The Gospel Coalition on October 27.

 

It’s called Imposter Syndrome, and while the name might not be familiar to you, the concept behind it is sure to be. Imposter Syndrome is the haunting feeling that you can’t really do what everyone expects you to be able to do. It assumes any success you’ve experienced was an unrepeatable fluke. You’re a fraud, and any moment now everyone is going to realize that.

It’s common to experience this in our work contexts. I’m actually experiencing it right now. I’ve just been speaking at a conference where all the other speakers are people I deeply admire, people unusually gifted and able. So what am I doing here? Surely there must have been some mistake.

There’s a similar feeling that easily creeps into our Christian lives as well. We walk into church on Sunday and look around. Everyone else looks as though they belong here. They seem to have the Christian life figured out (or so we think). But Christianity doesn’t feel so natural to us. It feels far from second nature.

Holy Is Who You Are

Perhaps this applies most when we think of holiness. We hear the commands to “be holy, as your Father is holy.” We know we’re meant to live in a way that’s worthy of the gospel. Yet it feels so alien to do so. All our default settings seem lined up in the other direction. And in the fatigue we can start to think, There’s no point. This isn’t me. I’m just trying to be someone I’m not.

But natural though it might seem to think this way, it’s actually completely untrue. The Bible is, of course, deeply realistic about the continuing presence of sinful tendencies in our lives. We aren’t yet rid of our sinful nature. But that’s not all there is to say on this point. Yes, the sinful nature is still kicking around, but it’s not who we now truly are.

The key to all this is understanding our union with Christ. Being a Christian doesn’t just mean that we’ve decided to “vote Jesus” or that we admire him from afar. The most common way the New Testament describes believers is as those who are “in Christ.” We’re united to him, like a branch to a tree (John 15:1) or a body to its head (Eph. 4) or a husband to his wife (1 Cor. 6).

One of the glorious implications is that who we are now is who we are in Jesus. Listen to these startling words from Paul:

It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. The life I live I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Gal. 2:20)

If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. (2 Cor. 5:17)

This means our relationship to our old self, our sinful nature, has decisively and dramatically changed—forever. So Paul can say:

Consider yourselves dead to sin and alive in Christ. (Rom. 6:11)

Sin is no longer our master. This doesn’t mean it exerts no influence over us, but that it has no authority over us. We never have to do what it says. This doesn’t mean we won’t ever sin. But it does mean that every time we do, we didn’t have to.

Sin Is Not Who You Are

Grasping this point is life-changing. Most of us will have particular besetting sins that seem so established we can’t imagine them ever going away. So when temptation comes, it says, This is who you are. This is how we roll. Stop pretending to be something you’re not. It can sound so compelling, and we can easily give up.

But here the message of the gospel is wonderfully liberating. This or that sin may well have defined our lives. Perhaps it was who we were. Even so, it’s no longer who we are.

Paul makes this point to the Christians in Corinth:

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Cor. 6:9–11, emphasis added)

This or that sin may well have defined our lives. Perhaps it was who we were. Even so, it’s no longer who we are.

When the New Testament calls us to holiness, it’s calling us to be who we now are. If I am who I am in Christ, then holiness—not sinfulness—is truest to who I am in the deepest core of my being. However deep sinful feelings may go, the new love and life I have in Christ goes deeper still. Sin goes against the grain of my true self; therefore, pursuing Christ is the most “true to self” I can ever be.

I write this as someone who has wrestled with homosexual temptation his whole Christian life. It defined my affections and feelings for so many years. At times it still exerts a powerful gravitational pull on my life. But while it may describe some of my temptations, it isn’t who I am. Indulging such feelings is never being true to myself as I now am in Christ.

Danger of Getting It Backward

What is most true of believers is never going to be an aspect of our sinful natures. If we get this backward, though, we’ll never feel that we have the power to live like Christ.

Attempting Christian ethics with an unchristian identity produces an unstable compound. We need to reform our identity in order to live out our ethics, or else we will give up the fight for holiness as we cling, well-meaning but deceived, to “who we really are.”

TD Fri. – Look What We’re Doing This Friday! (video)

Video featuring art project with Anabell and Michelle at RZIM’s Refresh ’18

Anabell and Michelle2 (2) Anabell and Michelle1

Anabell’s finished portrait of Michelle/Other portraits hung at RZIM’s Stillpoint Gallery

Hey TD!

We’ve got a great Friday planned at TD as we continue our theme, “Engage: Living Life in HD”!

First, we’re going to engage in a unique way, as we paint portraits of one another.  Not an artist? No worries, neither am I! This art project is imbecile proof. If you know how to trace, you’re good.  More than painting cool portraits, it will be a very neat time of engagement.

Second, we’re going to continue our forum on “Can You Really Know God Personally?” Last week, we had an organic, unscripted, and intimate time of exploring how some of our leaders engage with God through the Scriptures.  This week, we’ll get a raw look at how people engage with God through prayer.

Perhaps you feel like nothing happens when you pray; or you feel like you’re just talking to yourself.  You may be asking if you’re doing it right, or whether God is actually actively listening, etc.  You try to do what you’re supposed to when you pray, but you don’t really feel any different. Through our dialogue, we hope to let the Spirit lead us and minister to us in the way He wants to.

If you’re in need of engaging with God in a deeper, more personal way, you’ll want to be at TD this Friday! – Arthur

 

 

“We Must Play” (a must read)

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Chloe closely guarding her mom while Elijah tries to help – 2018 TD Ultimate Tourney

Hey TD!

One of the virtues of our Asian heritage is the valuing of hard work.  And yet, like anything else in life, a virtue can become a vice if emphasized too heavily.  In this humorous and compelling Slice of Infinity, dear friend, Jill Carattini, draws upon the mischievous side of CS Lewis to highlight our God-given need to play; and play we must.  Looking forward to playing with you more in the months ahead! – Arthur

We Must Play 

In August of 1963, due to his ailing health and increasing responsibilities, C.S. Lewis announced his retirement from Cambridge. His stepson Douglas Gresham and friend Walter Hooper were sent to the university to sort out his affairs and bring home the two thousand or so books that lined the walls of his Magdalene College office. Knowing the house was already filled to its bursting point with books, the pair wondered all the way home where on earth they would find the space to put them. But Lewis had already contrived an intricate plan for their use.

A nurse named Alec had been hired to stay up nights in case Lewis fell ill and needed his assistance. As the men returned with the enormous load of books, Alec was asleep in his room on the ground floor. As the truck pulled into the driveway, Lewis appeared, cautioning them to silence. “Where’ll we store the books?” Hooper whispered, to which Lewis responded with a wink. Carrying each stack with tedious concern so as not to wake the sleeping victim, the three men piled the works around the nurse’s bed, sealing him in a cocoon of manuscript and literature. When they were finished, the books were stacked nearly to the ceiling, filling every square inch of the room where the snoring nurse still slept.

Much to the relief of the anxious culprits who were waiting outside, Alex finally awoke. From within the insulated tomb, first came sounds of bellowing, and finally the tumbling of the great literary wall. An amused nurse emerged from within the wreckage.

The characters in this story are every bit as spirited as some of the playful personalities from Lewis’s imaginary worlds. These are the whimsical scenes—fiction and non-fiction—that seal in my mind the many weighty lessons I have wrought from him. But perhaps namely: Christianity is a religion with room—and reason—for life and laughter.

Henry Ossawa Tanner, The Banjo Lesson, oil on canvas, 1893, Hampton University Museum.(2)

Much of the thought and work of C.S. Lewis wrestles with the existential evidences of the life-giving presence of God and the winsome invitations around us that beckon us to participate in this life. I am not alone in saying it was Lewis who first taught me to move toward the questions that reappear though we bury them and to at least be honest about the logical outworkings of the philosophies we hold, even loosely. It was Lewis who taught me to search after God with both heart and mind and energy, but with the wonder and imagination of a child who is able to be startled by the very thing she is looking for. A former atheist, Lewis came to believe with everything in him that Christianity gives an explanation—and a face—to the joy we stumble across, joy that “flickers on the razor-edge of the present and is gone.”

On the one hand, if life is but time and happenstance, why do we laugh or wonder, or experience a desire to play, however fleetingly at all? Is the encounter of delight simply the mind’s attempt to distract us from pain? What good is joy, what purpose is humor or laughter or beauty, if life is but a series of instincts to survive and the universe at a cosmic level is meaningless? On the other hand, if we are made in the image of a holy, loving, imaginative God, how wonderful that God has made us with both logic and laughter, with intrinsic worth and immortal wonder.

Nearing the end of one of his most remarkable lectures, in which he spoke hauntingly of the glory of the God and the immortality of the soul made in God’s image, Lewis added a word of warning: “This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously.”(1)

The resurrected, vicariously human Son of God invites us in to such a story, a creator who made us to live fully, coming in person to confront our desolation and to be our consolation, that we might encounter what the very word means. What if the door on which we have been knocking all our lives will one day open at last? Seeking and playing, finding and living may well be among life’s greatest efforts.

Jill Carattini is managing editor of A Slice of Infinity at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.

TD Fri. – “A TD Thanksgiving feat. Offerings 8”!

Hey TD!

This Friday is “A TD Thanksgiving feat. Offerings 8”! Woohoo! It’s going to be great time of giving thanks to our ever-so-gracious God through food, fun, fellowship, and Offerings 8! We’ll meet at the Hsiehs’ home at 6:30 p.m. to begin the festivities.

Potluck

Each small group member will bring primarily main dishes and sides, while one person in each group will bring drinks and one person will bring dessert. Let your small group leaders know what you’ll be bringing.

Offerings 8

The theme is “Engage!” and is an invitation for us to engage with God and one another creatively and artistically by giving Him an offering of music, art, writing, reading, recitation, whatever.  You may be hesitant or nervous about giving Him a public offering, but we encourage you take a risk and go for it.  It will not only be a blessing to others, but to yourself as well.  If you haven’t signed up yet, sign up with your small group leaders today!

I posted this interview last with the one and only Jill Carattini month, but it’s a great reminder as to why the arts are an important component to the Christian life and the Christian community.  I’d encourage you to watch it again and respond:

 

See you Friday! – Arthur