We use this "blog" to stay in touch with our friends and supporters while we serve the Lord and wait on Him here at The Kilns, the home of C. S. Lewis.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Packing Up

The saying that "all good things come to an end" is true only to a certain point.  It is true about the good things that we experience in this life, for this world is passing away, along with all its desires and pursuits.  But Jesus has risen from the dead and secured the life and world to come for all his people, for all who will bow to his rule and receive his love in this life.

And, if you will, since all good things in this life are known by God as one eternal present, to him no good ever passes away.  That means that any circumstance, event, person or any other thing we know in this life that is good, in one real sense, never absolutely and completely passes away.  Whatever exists in the mind of God exists, though we human beings, who experience everything chronologically, may not re-live those things that have flowed into our past.

England will continue to exist, though we must leave her on Friday.  We are sad to leave so much good and beauty.  But we will be thankful.  The word "England" will never mean the same thing to us again.  It will remind us of our friends we have left behind, of the many good things we have seen and done, of opportunities for service, and of good friends back home who have helped us along the way.

But in those immortal words of that great philosopher, Scarlett O'Hara: "Fiddle-dee-dee.  Tomorrow is another day!"  Our Lord is also already in the future, isn't he.  Jeremiah 29:11: "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope."  We're glad the Lord knows what's ahead, because we sure don't!  But a main ingredient in walking "by faith" is believing that God is good and he loves us.  He who has faithfully lead us through what has passed is going to faithfully carry us through what is ahead.  As David says, "He will be our guide, even unto death."

Lastly, it is also true that all good things are only beginning.  Through Christ's redeeming and creating work in his cross and resurrection, all the good of this world is but a hint, a foretaste, of the world to come.  And it is ultimately for that world that Jesus has rescued us and made us anew.  The joy of that world is the hope of Jesus (Hebrews 12:2).  Let's keep it our hope, as we continue our brief time in this life.

I could keep going on, but this post must end, too.  And we've got to pack!  Cheers!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Coming to the end

As we continue to walk through the changing scenes of life, Sheila and I find ourselves coming to the end of our time at The Kilns.  We fly out on the 21st and arrive in Chattanooga on the 22nd.  We aren't packing yet, however.  We've got a full house right now and odds and ends to take care of.

The group here is pretty interesting.  There's a young couple, both working on Ph.D.'s.  The husband is just getting started, studying the relationship between religious belief and warfare.  He hangs out with British generals.  Very interesting.  Then there's an English teacher from California, who made us a terrific supper night before last!  Glad to have him around. :-)  There's a N.T. professor from a college in Michigan; she keeps visiting her family here.  Last, there's an English professor from New Zealand who is in town for a conference at Pembroke on Samuel Johnson and Shakespeare - wish I could go with him!  A great bunch of folks, and we are glad to serve them.

I think we have taken care of the last item of business related to the summer seminars.  We had originally planned to leave Oxford at the end of last week.  We are so glad we gave ourselves more time!  There was no way! Plus, we are going to be able to spend a few days with an old friend of ours from our Cayman Islands days.  Her name is Arthurlyn.  Arthurlyn married a British fellow named Phillip, who had come to work on Grand Cayman.  They had two sons.  When we lived on Grand Cayman, they became very good friends; indeed, Phillip was one of the best friends I ever had.  After we returned to the States, however, Phillip suddenly died of cancer.  Arthurlyn is over here in England visiting Phillip's family.  This will be the first time we've been able to see her since we lost Phillip.  We are so, so thankful that the Lord has given us this opportunity to see her again.

We are also thankful for recent providences related to fellow clergy.  This past Sunday, we were able to say good-bye to the pastors at St. Ebbe's Headington, which was a big blessing because  - unbeknown to us - they are leaving this week on holiday.  The President of Pusey House - another friend - took time to chat with me the day before he went on holiday and he happened to recommend me to a physical therapist about my injured foot.  I went to the therapist yesterday and got just the help I have been needing.  Thank the Lord!

And thanks to all of you who encouraged us to undertake this "adventure" - as you called it - and have also helped us financially to be able to do it.  From what we hear, a lot of people have been blessed by our work and we remember that we could not have done it without you.  Can't wait to see you again in a few weeks. 

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Socrates in the City - Oxford version

Sheila and I had a bit of time during this 2nd seminar week to head into town for one of the Socrates in the City events being held by Eric Metaxas.  Info is here.  We attended the conversation with Peter Hitchins, which was pretty fun.  At one point, Eric said, "You are a contrarian."  Peter's answer: "No I'm not."  :-)

At the end, Eric asked the audience how they had found out about the event.  Sheila raised her hand and said that her husband brought her, because she had been wanting him to take her to a Socrates in the City event in New York.  :-)

This is the sanctuary of St. Aldate's set up for the Socrates in the City event.  Sheila is the lady in the hat in the third row from the front.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Summer Seminars are upon us!

The two weeks of summer seminars, held here almost every summer by the Foundation, begin this Saturday, the 11th.  You can read about them here.  Sheila and I have been getting ready for them, while still tending to scholars-in-residence and tours.  We've been very busy, arranging transportation, planning entertainment, and getting the house ready.  

We've had a lot of interesting visitors lately.  Logan Sekulow and his father, Jay Sekulow, with family and friends visited.  Logan is working on a movie about C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien.  We had a group from the C. S. Lewis Institute to visit - mostly from the D.C. area - and they had Michael Ward over to the house for a lecture.  Then there have been college groups from different places.  

One fellow was by here this week with his wife, who grew up on Signal Mountain and went to Red Bank.  In fact, he was the captain of their football team in 1971, when my highshool team, Brainerd, was State Champs!  Got to rub that in a little. :-)  Such a small world.  

In two weeks we've got a big group coming from the C. S. Lewis Society in Florida, and Douglas Gresham is going to be here as well.  That should be fun.  Towards the end of the month, we're having a dinner here with Eric Metaxas and friends.  We are going to order take-out Indian food!

Speaking of Indian food, my stomach has been better.  As I mentioned before, I'm taking a PPI to see if that helps, and so far so good.  I went to a men's retreat in a little village north of here this morning, called Horton-cum-Studley.  Don't you love these English village names!  It was a group of guys from St. Ebbe's, Headington, where we attend Sunday evenings.  It was such a blessing.  We had a British army general talk to us about King David.  Anyhow, they fixed us the "full English breakfast" and I took a bold step and ate it.  No problems!  So glad! 

There is no news about the immigration situation, and there probably won't be for a while.  We'll see how that goes.  We hope to be home the next-to-last weekend of August.  Initially we will stay with our friends Tom and Linda Waddell, and then move to a house a friend is loaning us that is only 5 minutes from Paul and Rachel.  That will be nice!  We'll fill you all in on what's going on when we see you.

In the meantime, we need strength and the grace to keep all the things to be done in the Lord's hands.  I've been thinking a lot lately of how important it is to have the graces of faith, hope, and love evident in our lives.  As Paul tells us at the end of I Corinthians 13, these are the chief virtues for believers - love being the greatest, of course.  There is a sense in which the Christian life can be viewed in a very simple fashion: keeping our eyes on the Faithful Shepherd, taking up our daily cross, trust and obey, be thankful, have faith-hope-and-love.  But the simple things of God are the most profound for us; they reach far and wide.  Thankfully, the Lord has given us His Spirit to guide us in these things - and to bring us safely home in the end.

Not sure I'll be able to post much here over the next few weeks, but be sure to check out our Twitter feed: @TheKilnsOxford for quick updates on what's going on over here.  

The Lord be with you!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Prayer request

Certain issues have arisen with the local immigration department that may affect our future ministry.  Please pray for a quick resolution so that our ministry here may continue.  Thank you!

Trying to catch up here

Hey, folks: it's been ages since I posted anything - been really busy.  

I wrote the following on the 8th of this month (!), so I'll paste this up now and post more recent news directly.
Tours, tours, tours!  We heard June is a busy month.  We must have a 100 people coming through here every week now.  They sure do enjoy themselves, so that's great.

We've been attending the Sunday morning services at Pusey House.  It's a bastion of high church Anglo-Catholicism, so there are some things we just put up with.  The folks are great; some are fellow Wycliffe Hall students.  I got to read the OT lesson recently, which was the first time I'd been able to do anything in a service since I got here.  I really appreciated being able to do that.  Yesterday they had a dinner in the "quad" after the service and I wound up having a conversation with two people who do not appear to know the Lord - one definitely does not.  It just underlined for me how important it is in these churches that they not get so philosophical and academic in their homilies that they fail to make the gospel call clear: repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  There are going to be people in those congregations who are there because of the beauty of the building and the music who really do not understand Christianity or their need of a personal Saviour.  Of course that's obvious, but the fact was so plainly there before me yesterday.

We are excited that our friend, The Rev. Victor Morgan, of St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Blue Ridge, GA, is going to be in town next week.  Victor is an American representative of Wycliffe Hall, and every year he comes over here for the last week of Trinity term.  I have often wished I could come over to Oxford with him for a trip, but it never worked out.  Now I get to welcome him here instead.  

We've had to spend a lot of time recently learning how to deal with gallstones.  Yes, gallstones.  Two weeks ago yesterday, I had a classic, full-blown gallstone attack, spending a night in the emergency room.  I had been having symptoms for some time; I just didnt' know what they were.  Now we have to watch what I eat.  Of course, Sheila is enjoying fixing me all these salads she has been wishing I would eat for a long time!  :-)  We've got the symptoms under control and I will have an ultrasound tomorrow to have a look to see what's going on.  Once this confirms the diagnosis, we'll get rid of them. [update: the test did not reveal gallstones so we are quite puzzled about my symptoms. I'm taking a PPI for my stomach for a few weeks to see if that helps.  We'll go from there.]

The C. S. Lewis Foundation will be holding their two-week summer seminar in July.  We've been helping them get ready for that.  I've spent a lot of time this past week finding some mini-buses to rent.  Those will be two busy weeks.

Sheila's also been trying to make a few improvements.  She's getting some new door mats and she has been working on freshening up the linens in the house.  She is also planning a house dinner for our current scholars.  We are so happy that Dr. Laura Smit of Calvin College is back with us for a month.  We also have Jacob Imam, who is translating some ancient Greek papyri.  He's a godson of Walter Hooper and a really great guy.  I'm especially glad to have him around because he likes to help with the tours! [update: we now also have a lady from France who is a Thomas Hardy expert, working on C. S. Lewis.]

A great way to keep up with what's going on at The Kilns is to follow our twitter feed.  It's been dormant since 2012, but I've started it back up.  Search for @TheKilnsOxford.  I do "retweet" some of my posts to my Facebook page, but not all.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Called for another year

It has become plain that the Lord would have us accept the Foundation's invitation to come back to The Kilns for another year.  We will be home in Chattanooga for August and September.  We should be back in Oxford by 1 October at the latest.  We'll be home this summer visiting family and friends, raising support, and getting ready for a much broader ministry here in Oxford.  Details to follow.  Do pray for us.