Prince Caspian

Ever since college days Christy and I have been fans of the “Chronicles of Narnia” by C. S. Lewis. We read them to our children when they were young, literally wearing out two sets of paper backs before we bought them in hard-cover. It should be no surprise, then, that we went to see “Prince Caspian” when the movie was released a couple of weeks ago. There were some deviations from the book (as expected), but it followed the story fairly well, and one could clearly see the spiritual lessons that Lewis communicated in his book. It was also just a well-done enjoyable movie. Let me share a few truths the movie reminded me of.

As the four main characters; Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy abruptly return to Narnia, they find themselves in a much later time period than when they had been there before. The situation is that Narnia is soon to be destroyed and controlled by a group of people called the Telmarines. Something needs to be done quickly, and they are viewed as the answer to Narnia’s woes. Very quickley an army is formed to follow them. The problem is that Aslan (a lion who is a type of Jesus) seemly has been silent. They are faced with that difficult situation of waiting on a God who does not seem to be responding. The questions arise: “Doesn’t He care?” “Is He still even alive?” “Why would He allow such evil to occur?” “How long do we just wait?”

Peter decides that he can’t wait, He takes things into his own hands, devises a plan, and attacks the Telmarines. There is great loss of life and great shame. Those who had looked to him to save them, now had great doubts. Just like us, after failure there was blame shifting, and refusal to recognize that the issue was a spiritual one. How often have we taken matters into our own hands instead of believing God, and then been frustrated when things didn’t go well? How often do we blame others for our failures?

Lucy is the youngest, and even though her faith is the strongest, she is ignored. She keeps seeing Aslan at a distance, but the others don’t see him and don’t believe her. She becomes frustrated with them and views their lack of faith as the reason for many of the problems they face. In the end, when disaster is imminent, they send her to get Aslan. When she sees him she begins to complain about their lack of faith, but is stopped by his question, “but why didn’t you come to me?” How often have we let someone else’s lack of faith control our actions? It was a good reminder that we all individually answer to the Lord for the things we do (Romans 14).

Edmund is an example of a person whose faith has grown. In an earlier book he was the one deceived by the witch (portraying Satan). She had tempted him with Turkish delights – his weakness being sweets. In this story she tempts Peter with a promise of power (Satan always matches temptation to an individual’s personal desire). Edmund is now the one who is able to help his brother by defeating her. That is an important reminder of how we need each other. When we have learned lessons about life, temptation, failure, and faith, we are then in a position to help others, even if their area of temptation is not the same as ours!

It’s a good story. Not the place where we ultimately learn truth (that is always the Bible), but a good reminder of the truths that we should be applying to life. It always helps to see things expressed in other ways. I highly recommend the story in book or movie form. Oh, by the way, in the end Aslan is there just in time, just like our Lord!

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Animal Rights vs. Human Rights

It is clear that our creator has instructed us to care for His creation. That He cares about the animals is born out by His concern for the Animals in Genesis 9:8-10 where His covenant with Noah is extended to the animals as well. We are reminded in Matthew 6 that He cares for the birds of the air and the flowers of the field. We should take seriously our responsibility towards all life as God is the source of that life. There is however, something that separates humanity from all the other living beings. We are created in God’s image and thus have the unique ability to glorify Him by fellowshipping with Him (through His son) and by imitating Him in our actions. There is a wide gulf between humanity and the animal and plant world, but many are trying hard to erase that distinction.

I received an email yesterday from Focus on the Family’s “The Pastor’s Weekly Briefing” that stated:

Swiss Government Grants Rights to Animals and Plants
Under a new law passed by the Swiss parliament last week, dog owners will be required to complete a canine treatment course, anglers must take classes on humane fishing and goldfish may no longer be flushed down the toilet. The government’s ethics committee is also considering “plant dignity” rights to protect plant life — all of this from the same country that violates human dignity with legalized physician-assisted suicide and abortion, according to CitizenLink.org.

Wesley Smith, a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute, said this is what happens when people lose their understanding of the sanctity of human life. “This is the same country that has a constitutional right to assisted suicide for the mentally ill. Where is the ‘creature dignity’ in that?”

I did some brief research to verify those statements. You can read more about it here: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/europe/article3818457.ece

How can human life be devalued, and yet animal life be so elevated? Perhaps we have begun to worship the creation instead of the creator.

In Him,

Nord

Pastor’s Perspective May 2008

This is a monthly article I write for our church newsletter

I had an interesting discussion with a group of local pastor’s yesterday. We had met as we do every Wednesday morning to pray together for our community, and were reminded by pastor Dan Herendeen of the account in 1 Kings 18:26 where Elijah confronted the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel. Perhaps you remember that account as Elijah with great confidence, first taunted the prophets of the false god, and then as he poured water over the sacrifice he had prepared until it was drenched. After that he prayed, “O LORD, God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. Answer me, O LORD, answer me, so these people will know that you, O LORD, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.”” (1Ki 18:36-37 NIV).

The discussion centered around the fact that Elijah clearly knew what God wanted him to do. As pastors we often counsel people who struggle with knowing the will of the Lord. They may have some fuzzy ideas of God’s will in general, but struggle making specific application to their lives. It was a longer discussion than I can share here, and we certainly did not cover the topic in great depth in the time we had, but I would like to share some observations.

First, there are a lot of people who seem to feel they can’t do anything unless they know precisely what God is going to do. They are afraid to act, fearing they might make a mistake, yet God often calls us to action without giving us the details – Abraham being called to go to a country God would show him is a prime example of that. We can’t always sit and wait, we must follow what we know and walk by faith not by sight!

Some people want to know the specifics, so that they can decide whether or not they will obey. They have it reversed. If we do what we know to do, we will always know the next step. I’m writing this on the national day of prayer. It’s obvious that they we should pray. If we are not obedient in that area, we can’t expect God to give us further instruction. Elijah did all that the Lord had instructed Him to do!

One of my favorite verses is “Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.” (Ps 37:4 NIV) We will know that will of God when we enjoy Him and plants His desires into our hearts. If we simply run to Him for quick instruction, we will never know and delight in Him on that level.

One last observation I would make is that we know God’s will because we are in the word. One of the pastors mentioned a person he heard on the radio. He had no trouble recognizing that the man was speaking error because he had been in the word of God, and there was a clear discrepancy between what the speaker was saying and God’s word. The group of pastors I was with would not all agree on a number of theological issues, but we were all very much in agreement in the truth that God does not contradict Himself. If something is not in agreement with His word – it is not the will of God. The Bible is always the foundation for understanding what God would have us do. If we obey what we know – He will help us to know more.

In Him,
Pastor Nord