Friday, January 06, 2012

How to stay alive to the beauty of God's world

In a 1976 lecture, English Literature Professor Clyde Kilby gave ten steps on how to stay alive to the beauty of God's world:

1.     At least once every day I shall look steadily up at the sky and remember that I, a consciousness with a conscience, am on a planet traveling in space with wonderfully mysterious things above me and about me.
2.     Instead of the accustomed idea of a mindless and endless evolutionary change to which we can neither add nor subtract, I shall suppose the universe guided by an Intelligence which, as Aristotle said of Greek drama, requires a beginning, a middle and an end. I think this will save me from the cynicism expressed by Bertrand Russell before his death, when he said: "There is darkness without and when I die there will be darkness within. There is no splendour, no vastness anywhere, only triviality for a moment, and then nothing."
3.     I shall not fall into the falsehood that this day, or any day, is merely another ambiguous and plodding twenty-four hours, but rather a unique event filled, if I so wish, with worthy potentialities. I shall not be fool enough to suppose that trouble and pain are wholly evil parentheses in my existence but just as likely ladders to be climbed toward moral and spiritual manhood.
4.     I shall not turn my life into a thin straight line which prefers abstractions to reality. I shall know what I am doing when I abstract, which of course I shall often have to do.
5.     I shall not demean my own uniqueness by envy of others. I shall stop boring into myself to discover what psychological or social categories I might belong to. Mostly I shall simply forget about myself and do my work.
6.     I shall open my eyes and ears. Once every day I shall simply stare at a tree, a flower, a cloud, or a person. I shall not then be concerned at all to ask what they are but simply be glad that they are. I shall joyfully allow them the mystery of what Lewis calls their "divine, magical, terrifying and ecstatic" existence.
7.     I shall sometimes look back at the freshness of vision I had in childhood and try, at least for a little while, to be, in the words of Lewis Carroll, the "child of the pure unclouded brow, and dreaming eyes of wonder."
8.     I shall follow Darwin's advice and turn frequently to imaginative things such as good literature and good music, preferably, as Lewis suggests, an old book and timeless music.
9.     I shall not allow the devilish onrush of this century to usurp all my energies but will instead, as Charles Williams suggested, "fulfill the moment as the moment." I shall try to live well just now because the only time that exists is just now.
10.  Even if I turn out to be wrong, I shall bet my life in the assumption that this world is not idiotic, neither run by an absentee landlord, but that today, this very day, some stroke is being added to the cosmic canvas that in due course I shall understand with joy as a stroke made by the architect who calls Himself Alpha and Omega.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Making The Most Of The Cross

When do you think is the most defining point in history? As a follower of Christ, my answer to this question undoubtedly is the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. 

John Chapman's recent book "Making the most of the Cross" explains a series of important truths which come out of the belief that Jesus did die and rise again. Chapman's argument through his book, is that if Jesus actually did die on the cross, and rise again from the dead, then His death and resurrection is the most important and most life changing event in the whole of history. 

I really enjoyed reading this book and being reminded of many truths that I hold firm to because I believe that Jesus is my Lord and Saviour. In particular, I was able to ponder and marvel at the fact that Jesus took my sins (rebellion against God the creator) away on the cross by dying in my place, and He rose again to prove that death had no hold of Him. I was also able to think through the whole concept of Jesus' substitutionary sacrifice and again praise God for His love and mercy. 

One thing that I found great about this book was that it seemed very sensitive to those who may be reading and learning about Jesus for the first time. The text in the book is written in a very simple manner, without much Christian jargon, but packed with many real life and personal illustrations, which allows it to be a good resource for those who may be new Christians or those trying to find out more about Jesus. The book is less than 100 pages long, which made it a very easy read.

If you're looking to be reminded of the importance of the Cross of Christ, or you are trying to find out more about this history changing event, or you want to give your friends who are interested in religion something to think about, I would very much recommend this book to you!