Friday, November 22, 2013

Walking with God...

Walking with God through Pain and Suffering by Timothy Keller, available from Dutton at, includes a wealth of material important to any pastor, or to any kind person who wants to help a friend deal with suffering of one kind or another. Keller is pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan and he and his family have years of experience in that and other congregations as a kind of preparation for this book. It could be called “How to be a Pastor, 101” and should be required reading for anyone so engaged or interested in preparing for such a future. But there is also much good advice for friends who care for other friends.

If you read it, I think you will find, as I do, that you need to keep it nearby, because you will want to refer to it many times again. “Now what did Tim Keller say about that?” I find myself saying and I have to look it up again. It’s over 350 pages and crammed with concern, ideas, Scripture references, experiences of the Kellers, and personal stories from others who have suffered.

When you come right down to the basic thesis, I think he is saying that the person(s) who love, believe in, and trust  the Lord Jesus, God the Father, and the Holy Spirit, are really in better shape through any pain and suffering they may experience throughout their lives than are those who do not so believe. He’s probably right and we will be finding out, I’m sure.

Keller divides his book into three parts. In the first part he discusses the problem of evil and how different cultures, religions, times in history have coped with it. This part is more philosophical and Keller invites readers to begin with the second or third part, especially if they are in the midst of difficult trials at the moment they are reading his book.

Part two is descriptive of suffering and how people have coped with it from biblical times to current times. And part three is  practical and provides suggestions and strategies for coping with pain and suffering, ways to walk with God through it all. Some chapters conclude with a story of someone who has done that and their stories are reminders for us to look for God’s presence with us in the midst of suffering. I predict that many of us will be thanking Dr. Keller for his insights and encouragements as we continue our own walking with God.

—Lois Sibley

Friday, November 1, 2013

Genius, Prophet, Oxford Don

C. S. Lewis would be surprised at all the attention that continues to follow him. The newest book is perhaps C. S. Lewis, A Life by Alister McGrath, published by Tyndale. Find it at Now 50 years since Lewis was at the height of his popularity, information continues to be found and shared among those who appreciate Lewis and his writings. McGrath has gathered and analyzed a huge amount of research to help us understand Lewis and his ideas.  “How are these new facts to be woven together to make a pattern?” McGrath wonders, as he adds details now known about Lewis’s life, while he helps us understand the way it was.
Lewis was born in Ireland in 1898 though he spent much of his life in England. His mother died when he was young and that loss had a big impact on his life. His father insisted on sending him to school in England, which may not have been the best plan for such a shy, lonely boy. He had one brother, Warnie, and they were close and helpful to each other throughout their lives.

McGrath chose to divide his reporting on events in Lewis’s life into five parts. They are Prelude, Oxford, Narnia, Cambridge, and Afterlife, the latter meaning what happened after Lewis’s death in November 1963 and his continuing popularity, especially because of his Narnia books.

Yes, Narnia, a group of books about four children, a wardrobe (a door), an enchanted forest and a  mysterious land. That’s what keeps Lewis popular! He is like many an Irishman in that he tells wonderful stories. He taught English literature, first at Oxford, then at Cambridge, and he wrote many religious books, such as Mere Christianity. It’s like he had two writing lives and in each he was at the top of his profession. In one writing life he was an academic and sometimes a theologian, even an apologist at times; and in another he was a successful children’s book author. During World War II, he gave religious talks on the BBC,....there is much intriguing stuff in here. Go to the library and borrow this book, and give a hint as you put it on your gift list.

—Lois Sibley