Who Invented the Pleasure of Peanut Brittle & Stuff Like Sex?

I recall a humorous conversation we had at work a couple days back about peanut brittle, and all sorts of Christmas and holiday candies, cookies and seasonal delights, and of course spirits of sorts… all possibly being of Satanic origin, and likely concocted and manufactured by Lucifer himself in the bowels of hell itself. “No doubt he and his henchmen are working overtime turning out vats of elixirs and potions and notions, and boxcar loads of the sweet savory stuff in preparation for fattening up hordes of unsuspecting and nonresistant victims during this rapidly approaching holiday season…”

It is so blasted hard to “Just Say No!” to these simple tasty pleasures, and to be good and to do good when faced with such delectable delights, especially for me at this early time of the year… Great Horny Toads! I love the holidays! I am thankful! I love my childhood memories! My mother claimed she could not make candy but for some reason I remember her many valiant and successful attempts during my childhood. And here we are today, not even close to Thanksgiving, and SAMs, et al, are packed with shortbread cookies, and imported chocolates, and dainty morsels from places I cannot even pronounce. 

But then in great comfort to salve my guilty aching conscience (and swollen gut) over a weekend failure with my personal nemesis, peanut brittle, I recalled my friend CS Lewis, and the insightful wit and wisdom he gives us, as he draws back the curtain upon how the tempters of our flesh may really work in their diabolical ways of twisting and distorting that which is created “very good”. Below I quote Screwtape as he counsels his underling demon, Wormwood, of the dangers that lurk inherent when a fledging Christian begins to be “tempted” yet to know, to experience, to enjoy and to understand pleasure as a gift to be moderated, and not an affliction to be avoided. For true pleasure in its pure form and proper use can only originate from a good Creator God, and this Screwtape must acknowledge. Pleasure is a good gift which comes down from above, from the Father of lights.

As as sidebar illustration, one has well said, Adam and Eve are the only two individuals who have ever lived who knew unhindered, untainted marital bliss for they lived in union prior to the entry of sin’s blight of self-seeking misery after one’s own sinful pleasure. Go with that where you might, but it sounds reasonable to me. Sex “post-Fall” has always been tainted by sin, (I reference our natures and not the specific act in marriage), and could never be fully enjoyed to the complete God-given capacity as the gift was intended when first given. ( I know… this is deep water of a speculative sort, but it seems well founded to me.)

A believer armed with this knowledge of the enemy tactics is a threat to the tempter’s diabolical purposes of distortion, which has been the plan of the “father below” from time immortal. “Hath God said…” His perversion of true pleasures contrary to divine design is what is at stake. That is his game plan. It always has been. When believers begin to see and understand that joy is their right, and their Heavenly Father’s desire for His children, a new confidence and expectation of good from God becomes normative. We fear God, but we fear Him in love and hope with gladness of heart. All is lost to the tempters once true believers comprehend that in their Father’s “right hand are pleasures forever more.” 

Follow Lewis… and stand in the brilliance of his argument or the point he makes from the other side! Some folk we are reminded to continually thank God for, and I suppose almost daily. In some way I rejoice daily in what this Irishman did to change my world in the gospel as he enlarges my understanding of God in the world. 

Uncle Screwtape:

“Never forget that when we are dealing with any pleasure in its healthy and satisfying form, we are, in a sense, on the Enemy’s (God’s) ground. I know we have won many a soul through pleasure. All the same, it is His (God’s) invention, not ours. He made the pleasures: all our research so far has not enabled us to produce one. All we can do is encourage the humans to take the pleasures which our Enemy has produced, at times, or in ways, or in degrees, which he has forbidden…. An ever increasing craving for an ever diminishing pleasure is the formula…. To get a man’s soul and give him nothing in return—that’s what really gladdens Our Father’s heart.”

Uncle Screwtape to Wormwood in “The Screwtape Letters”

CS Lewis

For a day in Thy courts is better than a thousand outside…” Psalm 84

Sin’s Self-Imposed Blindness… Free of Charge?

Life experience, but much more authoritatively, the Word of God indicates that within the madness of any particular sin is a power by which that particular sin freely offers a self-imposed blindness to consequences beyond the immediate need to cover the deed from exposure. In the moment we think we can sin and survive the catastrophe of death by nondisclosure. (“The soul that sins must die…” yet we think we live as we hide our sin[s].) That is a lie that denies the Law of the Harvest… the principle of Sowing and Reaping. Life is only lived if we learn to confess and forsake. We all have need of confession. 

I was struck by this concept of sin’s madness by walking head long ONCE AGAIN into Proverbs 6 and 7 as I considered the folly of so many young and OLD men and women who tinker and toy with sins of their youth… sins of their flesh. Do these sins ever die? I think not.

Then I recalled my reading this morning in Psalm 44 of God seeing our secrets, our hearts when we forget, in particular, when we forget Him. I considered the madness of any attempt to hide sin from the eyes of the Almighty. Sin blinds. Sin lies. Sin eventually demands payment; it ever “crouches at the door.” Sin has a nonnegotiable small print contract that none of us would ever willingly sign if we could see the future havoc it promises to bring. But the flesh demands satisfaction. The flesh is weak. Do you chose life or death? It is the Spirit that gives life and makes us live. 

God’s gracious gospel call today is to confess and forsake. Get your eyes off of that one who is not yours! That is madness and you will pierce yourself with many a pang! That is a Road to Perdition… to Destruction. You will wander away from the Faith. Live for Jesus if you would know joy in this life! “Oh why will you die?”

All sin is a form of insanity and all sin has at its essence a terminal short-sightedness that “forgets God” in the moment as the glory of the Creator is exchanged for the pleasure of the fallen creature.

Psalms 44:20-21 (NASB)

If we had forgotten the name of our God

Or extended our hands to a strange god,

Would not God find this out?

For He knows the secrets of the heart.

That Most Awkward Moment of Birthing the Baby with No Brain

Years ago we often read to our boys from a Picture Bible Story Book. There were basic but vivid pictorial accounts of many common Bible stories. Blind Bartimaeus was a favorite and always gave pause as he was depicted to lack visible eyes. I still today recall his portrayal as our boys would often cry out in shocked wonder, “Look Mom! No eyes! Poor Bartimaeus, He has no eyes! He has no eyes!” We know it eventually ended quite well for Blind Bart as he cried to the passing King with increasing intensity and frequency, “Jesus, Thou Son of David! Have mercy on me!” It no small disturbance that arose as the crowd attempted to hush him to silence. (Ever noticed how often those who cry to the Lord tender an accusation of disruption?) We know in this case the passing Lord paused, called him over as He requested the manner of his petition, and of course Jesus subsequently granted his request by imparting sight to see what his faith already believed. And he followed Him to Jerusalem. (As a side… I am most thankful where intangible faith is visible to only His all seeing eyes, though scorned by others, His sensitivity to our needs never diminishes, and the King performs acts of tenderness where others only ridicule.)

And I was thinking and praying this morning for that young couple I was honored to care for some months back, as they carried for nine months, and then delivered a known anecephalic baby to love in this world for only an hour or perhaps two at most. They chose the joyful pain of a brief life but not a fruitless extra-ordinary life sustaining effort that would have yielded no final profit but perhaps a few more heart-wrenching hours. The indelible mark they made upon each of us by their life-choices made months previous swept over the C-Section operating room by a manifested weight of bonding, care and tenderness which was modeled in love before family, friends and staff. As the newly delivered baby boy struggled for breath and life, he seemed to know some degree of resolution and comfort as he was immediately taken from mom’s surgically opened uterus to her awaiting warm loving arms and breasts as she washed him in tears and comforted him in tender care. Maybe some tears were mine? I cannot be sure for the pain and weight of glory was very heavy on me that day as I fought the impossibility to retain my composure. 

A short time later in the post-op recovery room Mom, Dad and Brother each held and shared their brief gift of God-given bundle of painful joy. It was then I began to see more clearly the power of love modeled before their three year-old son, and the preeminent glory of God granted in this fleeting but eternal gift who struggled for life, all bundled and wrapped as he tarried but a few moments more… his angels, no doubt, patiently stood near by awaiting his final fleeting breath that they might gloriously usher him to a most Perfect Setting.

It was truly a moment of overwhelming consequence for me that was not without tears. But tears should always bring us to joy as now in reflection. I know Mom and Dad still have hearts that hurt, for mine afflicts me in this random Lord’s Day morning recollection. They chose life, if it was only for a few minutes or a couple of hours at the most. The strength required for mom to carry her baby for those nine months was remarkable. But the grace  demonstrated over the latter half of her pregnancy after she learned that she would only hold her terribly deformed son a few fleeting moments before he departed life, this grace rises to a level beyond description.

“Who sinned that he should be born this way…?” “It was neither that he nor his parents sinned, but for the glory of God.”

I don’t know guys. I don’t know but that is a different type of grace and love, that I can not fully know, but I see it and admire it. And I can thank God for the way He spoke to me that day. Love without the reality of pain is an illusion, and a counterfeit, don’t you think? Fundamentally, our hearts are dangerously exposed to pain when we love. All that we are must be layed upon the table to know love and to give love. Sacrifice of self for the good of others with a view of the glory of God defines love. “Here is love. Not that we loved God but that God loved us and gave…

“Let the little children come to Me.” (Jesus)

Below you will have opportunity to see again why I often point to Jack as one who easily articulates what I struggle to put into words. If you have never taken the time to listen to the audio version of CS Lewis reading from his hand written manuscript copy of “The Four Loves”, you have missed a lot. I can encourage you to consider trying  Audible.com then download the updated, Chuck Colson commentary version. At a minimum pick up a copy of the book at the local library. 

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”

CS Lewis

“The Four Loves”

The Murder of Orthopraxy by Orthodoxy

Orthodoxy kills Orthopraxy whenever and wherever absent the Spirit of Christ. The Spirit is given so the totality of our existence may become a sea of Life. “The Spirit gives life, the flesh profits nothing. The words I have spoken to you are Spirit and Life.” We must have both.

I believe a great void endangers much of the modern church. I fear this terminal cancer gains ground in many modern conservative evangelical circles. (But hey, who am I? Thankfully as one recently and most pointedly reminded me: I am a nobody. But as a nobody I do know a Somebody, and that is all the encouragement I need. I have no creds but those I present: I am attached to the Vine and the Vine gives glorious life to the branches as we abide in Him. Is there life in another? So whether you like it or not, that establishes my life and my credibility for His Name’s sake. That’s funny isn’t it? A nobody with creds… and some hate that, because I know the King and have an invitation to His wedding, the same as they do. “He has made us to be a kingdom, priests of our God…” (Damn Reformation!) 

It would seem the Spirit of Christ has been disinvited by many for fear of man’s (our) exposure of fraudulent practices of a cold heart often in light of right teachings, “But He when He comes will convict the world concerning sin, and concerning righteousness and concerning judgment…” Now who in their carnal mind wants that? To be exposed as a fraud? As a hypocrite? None but the truly penitent man who sees God high and lifted up as he is bent low in true worship. 

Yet we hear resounded in unison chorus, “Not me!” from the pastors of the First & Second & Third Church of  The Only-Most-Anointed Ones. “We are well content in our self-described-darkness, so please, leave us be!”

Ok. We can do that. But first a word of warning by perhaps only a poor attempt to clear up a thing or two…before I go.  “Even a bad shot is dignified when he accepts a duel.” GK Chesterton (Love me some GKC)

How can we tell this infection or condition exists? The fruits. It’s always the fruits. Fruits are EVER reflective of the good or ill condition of the inner heart or state of being of the body. “What’s in the heart comes out the mouth.” Squeeze a man by truth and the Spirit and see what eeks out of him, out of his character flaws, to get small clue what sort of wrath/anger/malice/ bitterness/vindictiveness/ lack of love/ jealousy/covetousness/ etc may be eating away at him, hidden from the eye of man, but known of God. Pressure and stress tell a true story of the soul’s actual state before the discerning eye of the Word of God. All things are open and laid bare to the Word. Pretense is only superficial and only skin deep. God annihilates it with a breath. 

Back on track…

So it’s the fruits beginning with the fruits of repentance brought forth by restoration from the scourge of religious hypocrisy. A hardened hypocrite hates exposure as such, and is blinded by his narrow perception of light to the reality of his deeds. Yet the gospel of grace enables each of us from our particular point of need and hypocrisy to turn from said hypocrisy by bringing forth the fruit of repentant deeds which are Spirit-born and that develop into the responsible actions fleshed out by demonstrable acts manifested by the Spirit-wrought fruits to His glory. We speak of gospel-empowered growth and gospel-driven progression over the long haul of our Christian walk before God. It’s a marathon race, remember? Fruit must grow and mature; or else it rots and falls to the ground. (Fruit must also be utilized in a timely manner or else it becomes rubbish for the swine.) “Against such things (good fruit of the Spirit) there is no law” or limitation. Make the tree good and the fruit good…” We know what happens to bad trees that produce no fruit or that make BAD fruit… (I just pushed up two in my back pasture last week. Why take up my space and ground? They are slated to be burned!)

Biblical Truth has always lived (or died) by recognition and responsive action to this threat or assault upon right living that desires to camp a mere 18 inches above the heart and between our ears only. This assault is relentless and ubiquitous on all fronts simultaneously. Its subtlety is its attractive inherent snare. Dry intellectualism or formalism and the knowledge of God without knowing God is fulfilling and ever present in some form in EVERY setting from the meekness prayer closet to the most prestigious seminary lecture hall with steps leading to the most popular pulpit in the land. None are exempt. All stations in life are called to answer the alarm to “watch and pray lest you enter into temptation.”

Faith only works through love. “But the greatest of these is love.”

“You will not come to Me that you may have life.”

(Jesus to the Religious elite of his time. Notice it’s not to the common man but to the religious hypocrite to whom He brings condemnation.)

“Take heed to your self and your doctrine… to ensure salvation…”

For me I think a regular reading of Bunyan and Ryle give help in preventing and treating this blindness. Lewis is always helpful for whatever ails me too. To say it isn’t happening to you without evaluating the fruit in your life and ministry is disingenuous and indicative of a potential problem. Coupled with a steady diet of Bunyan, Ryle, Lewis and the like, is the regular practice of acknowledging and confessing our sin of self-righteousness hypocrisy which we so easily fall prey to because of the absolute wealth of information we have literally at our fingertips at any time. This can subtly produce a calloused indifference to the plight of our fellow man as it breeds a smug satisfaction that they get what they deserve as we bask in the warmth of love and grace. We can become tunnel-visioned in our pursuit of the next spiritual nugget of wisdom which we hope to uncover by intellectual pursuits apart from heart surgery upon the idol of Self which becomes puffed up as we engorge him with more information yet devoid of required love.

Spiritual Life however is never by orthodoxy in vitro alone, but can live only in orthopraxy, which always must involve the death of Self in vivo, and that by the Spirit of God who both kills and brings life to light by the Word implanted. 

Prayer: The GOD-Required Original Persistent Irksomeness

“I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will get up and give him as much as he needs.
So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it will be opened.”

Luke 11:8-10

#PersistenceInPrayer is a primary point. God is there. God is faithful. God gives access. Men ought always to pray. Prayer is a chief evidence of saving faith. When Jesus returns He will search specifically for the Intercessors. “When the Son of Man comes shall He find faith in the earth?” On any given ordinary day could you produce enough evidence to convince the Court of Heaven?

There is an irritability component of prayer which cannot be ignored, if you have prayed, you know what I mean… That is, we become irritated by the required persistence demanded in all true prayer, for we know He has said, “He knows our needs before we ask.” Ok. Remind me again WHY we are asking, dear Lord? Well one reason: “To obey is better than to sacrifice.” Because He said so. It’s good to pray. Jesus modeled prayer for us. And who can recount the 10,000 or so other reasons we ought pray? It is the chief component of ANY day regardless of where the fire is or what needs are screaming or snapping at our heels. One too cannot help but ask, “Why so many times Lord?” Why so many tines must I repeat this same needed request? But our heart cries, “I come again Lord,” on this another day.

Below enjoy another #CSLewis quote on prayer in his masterful work, “Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer

“Well, let’s now at any rate come clean. Prayer is irksome. An excuse to omit it is never unwelcome. When it is over, this casts a feeling of relief and holiday over the rest of the day. We are reluctant to begin. We are delighted to finish. While we are at prayer, but not while we are reading a novel or solving a crossword puzzle, any trifle is enough to distract us…. Now the disquieting thing is not simply that we skimp and begrudge the duty of prayer. The really disquieting thing is it should be numbered among duties at all. For we believe that we were created ‘to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.’ And if the few, the very few, minutes we now spend on intercourse with God are a burden to us rather than a delight, what then?… The painful effort which prayer involves is not proof that we are doing something we were not created to do. If we were perfected, prayer would not be a duty, it would be a delight. Someday, please God, it will be.”

Lewis captures with beautiful poignant honesty that which many of us battle with: We struggle to discover Prayer as that which morphs into a delightful duty which grants us greater satisfaction in joy by seeing our Lord (our Friend) more than receiving the request for we asked.

Sweet Hour of Prayer by Casting Crowns