Hospitality

Disclaimer: I’ve never read John Calvin on…anything. (I struggle to read those guys who were alive more than a hundred years ago.)

BUT apparently he took a little rant on the increasing number of inns sprouting up in his day. He thought that inns “prove…that the principal duty of humanity has become obsolete among us.” In his mind, the Christian should open his home free of charge to welcome strangers, citing Genesis 18 where Abraham quickly welcomes his three guests without compunction.

Socially speaking, it sounds crazy that we would open our home to strangers to board for free. Crazy and stupid, probably. But most of the life Jesus calls us to sounds crazy and stupid. I wonder what it would be like to “assist strangers, from whom there is no hope of reward.” More than tossing some coins at the dude standing on the corner with a cup in his hand, could we welcome in a stranger? Could I welcome someone without hope of return?

Abraham rushed out to the three strangers, imploring them to be washed and to rest under the tree and eat his food. Love compelled him.

God in flesh—he rushed out to us as strangers, imploring us to be washed by his blood and to find rest from our tainted works and to live by eating his flesh. Love compelled him.

What exactly compels us?

HT: Aaron Denlinger

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Exhortations for Today

I’ve been working on some daily exhortations to have auto-sent to myself, with the hope of reminding myself of who I am in relation to my Dad and his son, King Jesus. Here’s a rough version of what I’m thinking about right now:

You, Bill, are a beloved son of God. Your very future has been secured. But that future isn’t here yet. Until then, you’ve been called to be like Jesus—be dying to find life. You live by faith and you die by faith—your faith is so small, even smaller than a mustard seed. Why don’t you believe? Why do you forsake your first love? Why do you forget everything I’ve done for you? So, choose this day whom you will serve. Do not forget my son, your first love. Don’t be lukewarm and be spit out. Instead, turn from your sins and set your eyes on my Son, of whom Aslan reminds you. And remember that your faith looks like this:

·         Love your wife as Christ loved the church and live with her in an understanding

·         Don’t frustrate your kids and drive them to anger

·         Don’t work for your boss—work for me instead

·         I am in the Light of the World, the light that makes you shine in this dark world

·         Remember who you are—and be that

I’ll be ready

I’m constantly baffled with the rise of sci-fi geekiness that in every TV show and movie, the characters are confused about how to handle time travel when it happens to them. Have you really never seen Back to the Future? Terminator? Bill and Ted’s? Star Trek IV? Doctor Who? Lost?

I mean, for real…

I figure if it happens (which seems highly likely), I’m just gonna think it’s awesome. And roll with it. The only thing that’s gonna be a question is which movie or TV show got the closest to whether you can ruin your own future or not.

(You can’t, by the way—there’s no such thing as time travel. Duh.)

From a Book: More Than I Ever Did Before

Quite a while back, I alluded to how Aslan in the Narnia books has helped me to see Jesus more clearly. I still hope to expand on that more once I finish my current rereading of the series. Until then, I thought I’d share an example of a little boy named Laurence who felt the same and had similar struggles to my own, wondering if affection for Aslan outweighed affection for Jesus. His mother wrote to Lewis about it and here’s his response:

1/Even if he was loving Aslan more than Jesus (I’ll explain in a moment why he can’t really be doing this) he would not be an idol-worshipper. If he was an idol-worshipper he’d be doing it on purpose, whereas he’s now doing it because he can’t help doing it, and trying hard not to do it. But God knows quite well how hard we find it to love Him more than anyone or anything else, and He won’t be angry with us as long as we are trying. And He will help us.
2/But Laurence can’t really love Aslan more than Jesus, even if he feels that’s what he is doing. For the things he loves Aslan for doing or saying are simply the things Jesus really did and said. So that when Laurence thinks he is loving Aslan, he is really loving Jesus: and perhaps loving Him more than he ever did before.

-from Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume 3, pages 602-603

At Least I’m Not the Only One

“Everything we do in the Christian life is easier than prayer.” -Martyn Lloyd-Jones

“There is nothing that we are so bad at all our days as prayer.” -Alexander Whyte

“There are times in my life when I would rather die than pray.” -Thomas Shepard

“May I but speak my own Experience, and from that tell you the difficulty of Praying to God as I ought; it is enough to make you poor, blind, carnal men, to entertain strange thoughts of me. For, as for my heart, when I go to pray, I find it so reluctant to go to God, and when it is with him, so reluctant to stay with him, that many times I am forced in my Prayers; first to beg God that he would take mine heart, and set it on himself in Christ, and when it is there, that he would keep it there. In fact, many times I know not what to pray for, I am so blind, nor how to pray I am so ignorant; only (blessed be Grace) the Spirit helps our infirmities.” -John Bunyan

Not that these quotations excuse my complete suckiness at prayer. But at least I’m not the only one. And these guys are the bee’s knees.
HT: Mark Jones

From a Book: The Cure Had Begun

It would be nice, and fairly nearly true, to say that “from that time forth Eustace was a different boy.” To be strictly accurate, he began to be a different boy. He had relapses. There were still many days when he could be very tiresome. But most of those I shall not notice. The cure had begun.

-from The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (Book 3 of the Chronicles of Narnia) by C.S. Lewis, Page 110

From a Book: Enchanted as Sin

For [the white witch] knew, though Edmund did not, that this was enchanted Turkish Delight and that anyone who had once tasted it would want more and more of it, and would even, if they were allowed, go on eating it till they killed themselves.

-from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (Book 1 of the Chronicles of Narnia) by C.S. Lewis, Loc 363

Form and Function

The architectural principle that form follows function (despite all the rhetoric about how it’s not really true, especially in an increasingly shrinking digital world) is a truism for a reason. Doors are just tall enough to go over the heads of 90% of the population because that’s their function. Bucket seats are shaped in that form because their function is to hold our bums. Earbuds have that form so that they can be used functionally in our ears.

Form ever follows function. And this is true even when the form can have all kinds of varieties and beauties within its function.

Stalwart traditionalism, on the other hand, is all about function following form. Sending paper invitations to a wedding when evites are faster and cheaper. Wearing a watch when you carry a more accurate time-keeping device in your pocket at all times. Preaching on a podium at the front of a room even though with amplification and wireless technology the speaker can stand (or sit!) anywhere.

We forget culturally and generationally that there was a reason for starting certain traditions. And there can also be good reasons for ending them.

There’s no need to change something just for the heck of changing it. But there’s plenty out there where the form has lasted longer than the function, especially in the church.

And I, for one, want to figure out what those are.

From a Book: Think How You’d Feel

“Does he know,” whispered Lucy to Susan, “what Aslan did for him? Does he know what the arrangement with the Witch really was?”

“Hush! No. Of course not,” said Susan.

“Oughtn’t he to be told?” said Lucy.

“Oh, surely not,” said Susan. “It would be too awful for him. Think how you’d feel if you were he.”

-from Prince Caspian (Book 2* of the Chronicles of Narnia) by C.S. Lewis, Loc 1798

*Yes, Book 2. Not Book 4. Don’t let some crazy publisher somewhere or an offhand comment by Lewis himself lead you down the path of death, destruction, and unending misery. Reading the books in quasi-chronological ruins the way stories unfold if you instead read them in publication order. Here’s a longer defense of why you should read the Narnia books in publication order.