For how great is his goodness, and how great his beauty! Grain shall make the young men flourish, and new wine the young women.
Spring is in the air! Fall has always been my favorite time of the year, but spring is making a hard charge at displacing it as I grow older (especially this year with winter hanging with us through April!). There is something almost “biblical” in the air at this time of the year. In spring we see the promise of new life. It reminds us that death (winter) is not the end and that life will spring forth again. This is expressed beautifully in a stanza from a poem I love:
Brown is the color of the autumn leaves
When the winter comes to the barren trees
There is birth, there is death, there is a plan
And there’s just one God, and there’s just one Man
That can give us life, that can make us grow
That can make our sins as white as snow.
God is a good God, as the prophet Zechariah declared. When the granaries were full and the new wine was filling the vats, the people of Israel rejoiced in the providence of God. Rejoice in what God has done for you this spring. Although those of us who know Christ may experience the cold winter of death briefly, it will give way to the spring of resurrection and new life. This is our hope in Christ. Without it, we are to be pitied more than all men (1 Cor.15:19).
On a separate but vaguely related note, when I was a junior in college one of my good friends from Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship and I decided that we would meet one afternoon each week at a different residence hall on campus and find a quiet place in the lobby to pray for the students who lived there. After we prayed, we generally sat together for an hour or more talking. We usually talked about school, sports, and girls - typical stuff for 21-year-olds. However, we also spent time challenging one another in the faith. We attended a secular university, and the world and all of its temptations and challenges were right there for the taking. We prayed for one another, counseled one another, confessed to one another, and encouraged one another. It was a great year of fellowship.
This friend (Ben) was one of the first people in my life to encourage me to read books that were a stretch for me spiritually and intellectually. I am indebted to him for playing a big role in strengthening my Christian faith from an intellectual standpoint. One of the authors he recommended to me was C.S. Lewis, a professor at Oxford and Cambridge from the 1940’s–60’s and one of the great Christian apologists of that era. I started my reading journey with Lewis with his Mere Christianity. I loved it, but had to read it twice to get the gist. To be honest, I had to read it later, in my 30’s, to really get the gist. Lewis writes beautifully, but deeply. I have since read most of Lewis’s works and have benefited greatly from all of them.
Each spring/summer since I arrived at LifePoint I have taken a month or so to do a summer book study. So far those who have attended have studied J.I. Packer's Knowing God, C.S. Lewis's Screwtape Letters, John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, Dorothy Sayer’s Creed or Chaos, A.W. Tozer’s The Pursuit of God, G.K. Chesterton’s Orthodoxy, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s The Cost of Discipleship with me. This late spring we will tackle another of Lewis’s classics, The Problem of Pain. It is not for the faint of heart. The book is short, but solid and packed tightly, which makes for rich and lively discussion. As the title betrays, the book deals with the reality of pain and suffering in our world and helps us address the issue from a Christian perspective.
You can sign up for the book study by calling or stopping by the church office (317-881-4010). We start on Tuesday, May 8, and will meet on consecutive Tuesdays for four weeks through the month. We are out of books in the office, so please find a copy on Amazon or at a local bookstore. We will start on the 8th by discussing chapters 1 & 2. The book is worth the effort to read, and I hope you will join us as we learn from this man of God.
Enjoy spring, my friends. Enjoy good books! Enjoy new life!
Grace and peace,