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Words to Live By: A Guide for the Merely Christian

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C. S. Lewis is a beloved writer and thinker and arguably the most important Christian intellectual of the twentieth century. His groundbreaking children's series The Chronicles of Narnia, lucid nonfiction titles such as Mere Christianity and The Problem of Pain, and thought-provoking fiction, including The Screwtape Letters and The Great Divorce, have become trusted compan C. S. Lewis is a beloved writer and thinker and arguably the most important Christian intellectual of the twentieth century. His groundbreaking children's series The Chronicles of Narnia, lucid nonfiction titles such as Mere Christianity and The Problem of Pain, and thought-provoking fiction, including The Screwtape Letters and The Great Divorce, have become trusted companions for millions of readers. Here Lewis breathes new life into words and concepts that have dulled through time and familiarity, and his writings inevitably provoke deep thought and surprising revelations. Words to Live By contains an unprecedented selection of Lewis's writings, drawing from his most popular works, but also from his volumes of letters and his lesser-known essays and poems. His works are presented in accessible selections covering subjects from A to Z, including beauty, character, confession, doubt, family, holiness, and religion. Both a wonderful introduction to Lewis's thinking and a wise and insightful guide to key topics in the Christian life, these are truly words to live by.


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C. S. Lewis is a beloved writer and thinker and arguably the most important Christian intellectual of the twentieth century. His groundbreaking children's series The Chronicles of Narnia, lucid nonfiction titles such as Mere Christianity and The Problem of Pain, and thought-provoking fiction, including The Screwtape Letters and The Great Divorce, have become trusted compan C. S. Lewis is a beloved writer and thinker and arguably the most important Christian intellectual of the twentieth century. His groundbreaking children's series The Chronicles of Narnia, lucid nonfiction titles such as Mere Christianity and The Problem of Pain, and thought-provoking fiction, including The Screwtape Letters and The Great Divorce, have become trusted companions for millions of readers. Here Lewis breathes new life into words and concepts that have dulled through time and familiarity, and his writings inevitably provoke deep thought and surprising revelations. Words to Live By contains an unprecedented selection of Lewis's writings, drawing from his most popular works, but also from his volumes of letters and his lesser-known essays and poems. His works are presented in accessible selections covering subjects from A to Z, including beauty, character, confession, doubt, family, holiness, and religion. Both a wonderful introduction to Lewis's thinking and a wise and insightful guide to key topics in the Christian life, these are truly words to live by.

30 review for Words to Live By: A Guide for the Merely Christian

  1. 5 out of 5

    Heather

    This is a really neat book! I like C.S. Lewis a lot. It's interesting and thought-provoking to read some of his thoughts about some important Christian principles and ideas. Here are a few of my favorites: CONVERSION. "Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on: you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But prese This is a really neat book! I like C.S. Lewis a lot. It's interesting and thought-provoking to read some of his thoughts about some important Christian principles and ideas. Here are a few of my favorites: CONVERSION. "Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on: you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of--throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself." (p. 52) EDUCATION. "The student is half afraid to meet one of the great philosophers face to face. He feels himself inadequate and thinks he will not understand him. But if he only knew, the great man, just because of his greatness, is much more intelligible than his modern commentator. The simplest student will be able to understand, if not all, yet a very great deal of what Plato said; but hardly anyone can understand some modern books on Platoism. It has always therefore been one of my main endeavours as a teacher to persuade the young that first-hand knowledge is not only more worth acquiring than second-hand knowledge, but is usually much easier and more delightful to acquire." (p. 82) FAILURE. "No amount of falls will really undo us if we keep picking ourselves up each time. We shall of course be very muddy and tattered children by the time we reach home. But the bathrooms are all ready, the towels put out, and the clean clothes are in the airing cupboard. The only fatal thing is to lose one's temper and give it up. It is when we notice the dirt that God is most present in us; it is the very sign of His presence." (p. 101) LOVE. "There is no safe investment. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to 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. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell." (p. 195) PRESENT MOMENT. "God is hearing you now, just as simply as a mother hears a child. The difference His timelessness makes is that this now (which slips away from you even as you say the word now) is for Him infinite. If you must think of His timelessness at all, don't think of Him having looked forward to this moment for millions of years; think that to Him you are always praying this prayer." (p. 232) RICHES. "Christ said it was difficult for "the rich" to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, referring, no doubt, to "riches" in the ordinary sense. But I think it really covers riches in every sense--good fortune, health, popularity, and all the things one wants to have. All these things tend--just as money tends--to make you feel independent of God, because if you have them you are happy already and contented in this life." (p. 257) SELF. "The more we get what we now call "ourselves" out of the way and let Him take us over, the more truly ourselves we become....I am not, in my natural state, nearly so much of a person as I like to believe: most of what I call "me" can be very easily explained. It is when I turn to Christ, when I give myself up to His Personality that I first begin to have a real personality of my own." (p. 268) TRUST. "Relying on God has to begin all over again every day as if nothing had yet been done." (p. 291) TRUTH. "You sometimes hear people say, "Religion doesn't appeal to me," and I once knew a girl who said, "Religion's all right provided it doesn't go too far." People who talk that way think religion is a thing like football or music which may suit some of us and not others, or which you may be interested in up to a point and no further. The first step towards being grown up is to realise that this is balderdash. Christianity isn't a hobby, or even a patent medicine. It makes statements: God exists--man is broken--God became a man--that man can mend all other men--no one else can--those who are not mended go into the dustbin. If these statements are true, they concern everyone, and are of infinite importance. Either zero--or infinity. Either this wire is not a live wire or else it carries a current of infinite voltage. Christianity can't be moderately important." (p. 293) VALUES. "Let us get two propositions written into our minds with indelible ink. 1) The human mind has no more power of inventing a new value than of planting a new sun in the sky or a new primary colour in the spectrum. 2) Every attempt to do so consists in arbitrarily selecting some one maxim of traditional morality, isolating it from the rest, and erecting it into a unum neccessarium ["the one necessary thing"]." (p. 300)

  2. 4 out of 5

    Adrienna

    Mixture of scholarly notes blended with some knowledge/insight that you can gather in your walk as a Christian. The highlighted passages that rang in my soul and wowed me: "Real forgiveness means looking steadily at the sin, the sin that is left over without any excuse, after all allowances have been made, and seeing it in all its horror, dirt, meanness and malice, and nevertheless being wholly reconciled to the man who has done it." (C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory from Words to Live By p. 123). Mixture of scholarly notes blended with some knowledge/insight that you can gather in your walk as a Christian. The highlighted passages that rang in my soul and wowed me: "Real forgiveness means looking steadily at the sin, the sin that is left over without any excuse, after all allowances have been made, and seeing it in all its horror, dirt, meanness and malice, and nevertheless being wholly reconciled to the man who has done it." (C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory from Words to Live By p. 123). He speaks on difference between excuses vs. forgiveness. (It spoke to me and hope it does for you too). Forgiveness says, "Yes you have done this thing, but I accept your apology, I will never hold it against you and everything between us two will be exactly as it was before." But excusing says, "I see that you couldn't help it or didn't mean it, you weren't really to blame." "Christians say the Christ-life is in them, they don't mean simply something mental or moral. When they speak of being "in Christ" or of Christ being "in them," this is not simply a way of saying that they are thinking about Christ or copying Him. They mean that Christ is actually operating through them; that the whole mass of Christians are the physical organism through which Christ acts--that we are His fingers and muscles, the cells of His body." (C.S. Lewis, Words to Live By p. 30). "The three things that spread the Christ life to us: baptism, belief, and mysterious action which different Christians call by different names--Holy Communion, the Mass, and the Lord's Supper." (C.S. Lewis, Words to Live By, p. 32). "God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world. The voice of God indeed daily calls to us; calls to the world to abandon sins and seek the Kingdom of God wholeheartedly." (p. 139)

  3. 4 out of 5

    Daniela

    "Surely what a man does when he is taken off his guard is the best evidence for what sort of a man he is? Surely what pops out before the man has time to put on a disguise is the truth? If there are rats in a cellar you are most likely to see them if you go in very suddenly. But the suddenness does not create the rats: it only prevents them from hiding. In the same way the suddenness of the provocation does not make me an ill-tempered man: it only shows me what an ill-tempered man I am." --c.s. "Surely what a man does when he is taken off his guard is the best evidence for what sort of a man he is? Surely what pops out before the man has time to put on a disguise is the truth? If there are rats in a cellar you are most likely to see them if you go in very suddenly. But the suddenness does not create the rats: it only prevents them from hiding. In the same way the suddenness of the provocation does not make me an ill-tempered man: it only shows me what an ill-tempered man I am." --c.s. lewis

  4. 4 out of 5

    Faye

    Every Christian (and anyone interested in Christianity) should read this book. Period. It's a collection of quotes and passages from C.S. Lewis' novels, non-fiction, and letters arranged by subject, and it is AMAZING. He managed to explain so simply and concisely things that most people struggle to put into words. The man's wisdom and insight were incredible, and (fortunately for us) were perfectly matched by his literary genius. If you can't read all of Lewis' works, at least read this one. You Every Christian (and anyone interested in Christianity) should read this book. Period. It's a collection of quotes and passages from C.S. Lewis' novels, non-fiction, and letters arranged by subject, and it is AMAZING. He managed to explain so simply and concisely things that most people struggle to put into words. The man's wisdom and insight were incredible, and (fortunately for us) were perfectly matched by his literary genius. If you can't read all of Lewis' works, at least read this one. You'll get what you need.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    Whether writing for children or adults, Lewis is always thought provoking and enlightening. The time spent reading and struggling with some of his more weighty concepts is time invested - much like a good physical work out!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Dimmy-jimmy

    lewis doesn't disappoint,he taught us about god through his failings and shortcomings,what a wonderful mind ,I wish I could have had a conversation with him lewis doesn't disappoint,he taught us about god through his failings and shortcomings,what a wonderful mind ,I wish I could have had a conversation with him

  7. 5 out of 5

    Sharon Dorsen - Schulz

    A must have reference book for CS Lewis fans.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jeremy

    I've always enjoyed C.S. Lewis's tone, like a kindly old professor writing you a witty letter full of life advice. This book was a nice collection of quotes taken from his novels, essays, and personal correspondence. The quotes are organized under headings like: "Charity", "Faith", "Love", which makes it an ideal book to thumb through, and pick up intermittently. It was the perfect casual holiday read for me to carry around, since it didn't demand sustained attention, and though it was philosoph I've always enjoyed C.S. Lewis's tone, like a kindly old professor writing you a witty letter full of life advice. This book was a nice collection of quotes taken from his novels, essays, and personal correspondence. The quotes are organized under headings like: "Charity", "Faith", "Love", which makes it an ideal book to thumb through, and pick up intermittently. It was the perfect casual holiday read for me to carry around, since it didn't demand sustained attention, and though it was philosophical, it was quite still very readable. It would also make a good "daily reflection" sort of book for the spiritual set.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Janet

    I loved this book of quotes so much that I bought it. It's the kind of words that I read and have to comment on by writing in the margin; not something that I do often! There are plenty of sayings (categorized by topic/theme) for the various parts of life and its lessons. I suggest this book to anyone interested in a Christian spin on motivational/inspirational sayings. I loved this book of quotes so much that I bought it. It's the kind of words that I read and have to comment on by writing in the margin; not something that I do often! There are plenty of sayings (categorized by topic/theme) for the various parts of life and its lessons. I suggest this book to anyone interested in a Christian spin on motivational/inspirational sayings.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Hannah

    I love Lewis's writings, though he is a little off doctrinally in some areas. He is a very point blank, truthfull writer, who doesn't hold much of his opinion back andgives great allegories and descriptions. I love Lewis's writings, though he is a little off doctrinally in some areas. He is a very point blank, truthfull writer, who doesn't hold much of his opinion back andgives great allegories and descriptions.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Marie

    It's a great way to read C.S. Lewis and get a glimpse of what he believes. It's a great way to read C.S. Lewis and get a glimpse of what he believes.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Lu

    Author's guide for the merely christian Author's guide for the merely christian

  13. 5 out of 5

    Kerri

    This book is a collection of quotes from Lewis and it is a perfect "thought for the day" or journaling prompt. This book is a collection of quotes from Lewis and it is a perfect "thought for the day" or journaling prompt.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Debby Kean

    Awesome - still reading...

  15. 4 out of 5

    Dorene

    I just love the way C.S. Lewis writes! And to think he became a follower of Christ through trying to prove there was no God! Now he is a child of God! :)

  16. 4 out of 5

    Becky

  17. 4 out of 5

    Lacresha

  18. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

  19. 5 out of 5

    Hippie Gee

  20. 4 out of 5

    Ken Roebuck

  21. 5 out of 5

    Sydney

  22. 5 out of 5

    Matt Dickstein

  23. 4 out of 5

    Andie

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jasmine

  25. 4 out of 5

    Rick Faby

    An easy read with such good every day life advice. Good solid thoughts on just about every subject A-Z.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Deana

  27. 4 out of 5

    Angela

  28. 4 out of 5

    Veronica Harkless

  29. 5 out of 5

    Mary Barks

  30. 5 out of 5

    S.G. Dewey

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