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This illustration concerns an incident one day when C.S. Lewis was in the tool shed in his garden. He noticed a sunbeam shining across the shed. It was showing up the dust particles. He must have seen the same thing many times before, but this time he was captivated by it.
He traced the beam of light to the crack at the top of the closed door of the shed. But what struck him was that although it appeared to be coming from the crack, it was really coming from a blazing star 90 million miles away! Squinting up the beam carefully so as not to burn his eyes, he followed the beam through the crack in the door, through the leaves of a tree outside and beyond to its magnificent source. Lewis thought to himself how different it was looking along the beam to its source than it was looking at the beam in his tool shed.
As we join Lewis in his tool shed, in our mind’s eye, we cannot help but notice that the thin beam is so small and weak by comparison with that great burning nuclear fire that is the sun. Just looking at the beam alone tells us so little about its great source. You have to look along the beam to see that. The little beam is beautiful certainly, but it source is magnificent and awe-inspiring.
(Source: from a sermon by Will Langford, "How to Better Understand the Bible, Part 1" 7/16/08)
C. S. Lewis, “Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
ROBERT LEWIS WAS GEORGE WASHINGTON’S PRIVATE SECRETARY. DURING THE FIRST PART OF THE PRESIDENCY, HE SAID THAT HE ACCIDENTALLY WITNESSED WASHINGTON’S PRIVATE DEVOTIONS, BOTH MORNING AND EVENING. HE SAW HIM IN A KNEELING POSTURE, WITH AN OPEN BIBLE BEFORE HIM; AND HE SAID THAT HE BELIEVED SUCH WAS HIS DAILY PRACTICE. HIS CUSTOM WAS TO GO TO HIS LIBRARY AT 4 O’CLOCK IN THE MORNING FOR DEVOTIONS.
Story: At a comparative religions conference, the wise and the scholarly were in a spirited debate about what is unique about Christianity.
Someone suggested what set Christianity apart from other religions was the concept of incarnation, the idea that God took human form in Jesus. But someone quickly said, “Well, actually, other faiths believe that God appears in human form.”
Another suggestion was offered: what about resurrection? The belief that death is not the final word. That the tomb was found empty. Someone slowly shook his head. Other religions have accounts of people returning from the dead.
Then, as the story is told, C.S. Lewis walked into the room, tweed jacket, pipe, arm full of papers, a little early for his presentation. He sat down and took in the conversation, which had by now evolved into a fierce debate. Finally during a lull, he spoke saying, “what’s all this rumpus about?”
Everyone turned in his direction. Trying to explain themselves they said, “We’re debating what’s unique about Christianity.”
“Oh, that’s easy,” answered Lewis. “It’s grace.”
The room fell silent.
Lewis continued that Christianity uniquely claims God’s love comes free of charge, no strings attached. No other religion makes that claim.
After a moment someone commented that Lewis had a point, Buddhists, for example, follow an eight-fold path to enlightenment. It’s not a free ride.
Hindus believe in karma, that your actions continually affect the way the world will treat you; that there is nothing that comes to you not set in motion by your actions.
Someone else observed the Jewish code of the law implies God has requ...
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RUBY BRIDGES ON DOING WHAT'S RIGHT
"A federal judge had ordered New Orleans to open its public schools to African-American children, and the white parents decided that if they had to let black children in, they would keep their children out. They let it be known that any black children who came to school would be in for trouble. So the black children stayed home too.
"Except Ruby Bridges. Her parents sent her to school all by herself, six years old.
"Every morning she walked alone through a heckling crowd to an empty school. White people lined up on both sides of the way and shook their fists at her. They threatened to do terrible things to her if she kept coming to their school. But every morning at ten minutes to eight Ruby walked, head up, eyes ahead, straight through the mob; two U.S. marshals walked ahead of her and two walked behind her. Then she spent the day alone with her teachers inside that big silent school building.
"Harvard professor Robert Coles was curious about what went into the making of courageous children like Ruby Bridges. He talked to Ruby's mother and, in his book The Moral Life of Children, tells what she said: 'There's a lot of people who talk about doing good, and a lot of people who argue about what's good and what's not good,' but there are folks who 'just put their lives on the line for what's right'"
(Lewis Smedes, 1001 Quotes, Illustrations and Humorous Stories for Preachers, Teachers, and Writers, 221. From a sermon by Eric Lenhart, Thursday -- "Sleepy Heads" 8/13/2010)
C. Cs. Lewis "The Chronicles of Narnia"
"Are you not thirsty?" said the lion. "I’m dying of thirst," said Jill. "Then drink," said the lion. "May I- could I- would you mind going away while I do?" said Jill. The lion answered this only by a look and very low growl. As Jill gazed at its motionless bulk, she realized that she might as well have asked the whole mountain to move aside for her convenience. The delicious rippling noise of the stream was driving her nearly frantic. "Will you promise not to- do anything to me, if I do come?" said Jill. "I make no such promise," said the lion. Jill was so thirsty now that, without noticing it, she had come a step nearer the lion. "Do you eat girls?" she said. "I have swallowed up, consumed girls and boys, women and men, kings and emperors, cities and realms," said the lion. It didn’t say this as if it were boasting, nor as if it were sorry, nor as if it were angry. It just said it. "I daren’t come and drink," said Jill. "Then you will die of thirst," said the Lion. "Oh dear!" said Jill, coming another step nearer. "I suppose I must go and look for another stream then." The lion said, "There is no other stream."
This old world is full of those who are thirsty. Yes, if we go to the stream we will be devoured, consumed by the fire of the Holy Spirit, but I would rather be on fire now, consumed now, than forever on fire and never burned out.
One of the most memorable books I have ever read is A Severe Mercy. This is the story of Sheldon Vanauken and his wife Davy, who happened to be friends of C. S. Lewis. This couple was deeply in love and they sought to build the ideal marriage. They would only read books that the other wanted to read, and always tried to do everything together. But then a third person came along and interfered with this perfect relationship. That person was God. Davy began to get to know the Lord, and began to love Him. Sheldon became jealous, in his mind he didn’t want to share his wife with God. It was only after Davy’s premature death that Sheldon realized how foolish his attitude was. He also came to understand that the perfect marriage is not just when both partners love each other, but when both husband and wife love God even more than they love their spouse.
THEY PAID THE PRICE
Americans, you know the 56 men who signed our Declaration of Independence that first 4th of July--you know they were risking everything, don’t you? Because if they won the war with the British, there would be years of hardship as a struggling nation. If they lost they would face a hangman’s noose. And yet there where it says, "We herewith pledge, our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor," they did sign. But did you know that they paid the price?
When Carter Braxton of Virginia signed the Declaration of Independence, he was a wealthy planter and trader. But thereafter he saw his ships swepted from the seas and to pay his debts, he lost his home and all of his property. He died in rags.
Thomas Lynch, Jr., who signed that pledge, was a third generation rice grower and aristocrat--a large plantation owner--but after he signed his health failed. With his wife he set out for France to regain his failing health. Their ship never got to France; he was never heard from again.
Thomas McKean of Delaware was so harrassed by the enemy that he was forced to move his family five times in five months. He served in Congress without pay, his family in poverty and in hiding.
Vandals looted the properties of Ellery and Clymer and Hall and Gwinett and Walton and Heyward and Rutledge and Middleton. And Thomas Nelson, Jr. of Virginia raised two million dollars on his own signature to provision our allies, the French fleet. After the War he personally paid back the loans wiping out his entire estate; he was never reimbused by his government. And in the final battle for Yorktown, he, Nelson, urged General Washington to fire on his, Nelson’s own home, then occupied by Cornwallis. And he died bankrupt. Thomas Nelson, Jr. had pledged his life, his fortune, and his sacred honor.
The Hessians seized the home of Francis Hopkinson of New Jersey. Francis Lewis had his home and everything destroyed, his wife imprisoned--she died within a few months. Richard Stockton, who signed the Declaration of Independence, pledging his life and his fortune, was captured and mistreated, and his health broken to the extent that he died at 51. And his estate was pillaged.
Thomas Heyward, Jr. was captured when Charleston fell. John Hart was driven from his wife’s bedside while she was dying; their thirteen children fled in all directions for their lives. His fields and gristmill were laid waste. For more than a year he lived in forests and caves and returned home after the War to find his wife dead, his children gone, his properties gone. He died a few weeks later of exhaustion and a broken heart.
Lewis Morris saw his land destroyed, his family scattered. Philip Livingston died within a few months of hardships of the War.
John Hancock, history remembers best, due to a quirk of fate--that great sweeping signature attesting to his vanity, towers over the others. One of the wealthiest men in New England, he stood outside Boston one terrible night of the War and said, "Burn Boston, though it makes John Hancock a beggar, if the public good requires it." He, too, lived up to the pledge.
Of the 56 signers of the Declaration, few were long to survive. Five were captured by the British and tortured before they died. Twelve had their homes--from Rhode Island to Charles...
In 1899 four newspaper reporters from Denver, CO, set out to tear down the Great Wall of China. They almost succeeded. Literally.
The four met by chance one Saturday night, in a Denver railway depot. Al Stevens, Jack Tournay, John Lewis, Hal Wilshire. They represented the four Denver papers: the Times, the Post, the Republican, the Rocky Mountain News.
Each had been sent by his respective newspaper to dig up a story—any story—for the Sunday editions; so the reporters were in the railroad station, hoping to snag a visiting celebrity should one happen to arrive that evening by train.
None arrived that evening, by train or otherwise. The reporters started commiserating. For them, no news was bad news; all were facing empty-handed return trips to their city desks.
Al declared he was going to make up a story and hand it in. The other three laughed.
Someone suggested they all walk over to the Oxford Hotel and have a beer. They did.
Jack said he liked Al’s idea about faking a story. Why didn’t each of them fake a story and get off the hook?
John said Jack was thinking too small. Four half-baked fakes didn’t cut it. What they needed was one real whopper they could all use.
Another round of beers.
A phony domestic story would be too easy to check on, so they began discussing foreign angles that would be difficult to verify. And that is THE REST OF THE STORY.
China was distant enough, it was agreed. They would write about China.
John leaned forward, gesturing dramatically in the dim light of the barroom. Try this one on, he said: Group of American engineers, stopping over in Denver en route to China. The Chinese government is making plans to demolish the Great Wall; our engineers are bidding on the job.
Harold was skeptical. Why would the Chinese want to destroy the Great Wall of China?
John thought for a moment. They’re tearing down the ancient boundary to symbolize international good will, to welcome foreign trade! Another round of beers.
By 11:00 p.m. the four reporters had worked out the details of their preposterous story. After leaving the Oxford Bar, they would go over to the Windsor Hotel. They would sign four fictitious names to the hotel register. They would instruct the desk clerk to tell anyone why asked that four New Yorkers had arrived that evening, had been interviewed by reporters, had left early the next morning for California.
The Denver newspapers carried the story. All four of them. Front page. In fact, the Times headline that Sunday read: GREAT CHINESE WALL DOOMED! PEKING SEEKS WORLD TRADE!
Of course, the story was a phony, a ludicrous fabrication concocted by four capricious newsmen in a hotel bar.
But their story was taken seriously, was picked up and expanded by newspapers in the Eastern U.S. and then by newspapers abroad.
When the Chinese themselves learned that the Americans were sending a demolition crew to tear down their national monument, most were indignant; some were enraged!
Particularly incensed were the members of a secret society, a volatile group of Chinese patriots who were already wary of foreign intervention.
They, inspired by the story, exploded, rampaged against the foreign embassies in Peking, slaughtered hundreds of missionaries.
In two months, 12,000 troops from six countries joined forces, invaded China with the purpose of protecting their own countrymen.
The bloodshed which followed, sparked by a journalistic hoax invented in a barroom in Denver, became the white-hot international conflagration known to every high school history student . . . as the Boxer Rebellion. —Paul Harvey
During the war in Vietnam, a young West Point graduate was sent over to lead a group of new recruits into battle. He did his job well, trying his best to keep his from ambush and death. But one night when they had been under attack, he was unable to get just one of his men to safety.
The soldier left behind had been severely wounded. From their trenches, the young lieutenant and his men could hear him in his pain. They all knew any attempt to save him – even if it was successful -- would almost certainly mean death for the would-be rescuer.
Eventually the young lieutenant crawled out of hiding toward the dying man. He got to him safely but was killed before he could save himself.
After the rescued man returned to the States, the lieutenant’s parents heard that he was in their vicinity. Wanting to know this young man whose life was spared at such a great cost to them, they invited him to dinner.
When their honored guest arrived, he was obviously drunk. He was rowdy and obnoxious. He told off-color jokes and showed no gratitude for the sacrifice of the man who died to save him. The grieving parents did the best they could to make the man’s visit worthwhile, but their efforts went unrewarded.
Their guest finally left. As the dad closed the door behind him, the mother collapsed in tears and cried, "To think that our precious son had to die for somebody like that."
That’s what Jesus did.
That’s what it says right in these verses:
Christ died for us while we were still sinners