Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Returning to Narnia

It did over $744 million at the box office since it was released during the Christmas season of 2005, and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe became one of those classic movies, based on the book by C.S. Lewis. The film gave Christians the opportunity to not only be inspired in their own faith walk, but to engage in conversations that could arise from those Biblical themes that ran throughout the book and the film.

Now, the partnership of Walden Media and Walt Disney Pictures has teamed up yet again to bring the 2nd movie installment, Prince Caspian, which is based on the 4th book chronologically in the Narnia series. It's over a thousand years later in Narnia, but only a year hence for the Pevansee children, and things are a bit askew in the magical land. Aslan has been away, an evil king is reigning over Narnia, and the rightful heir, Prince Caspian, is having some trouble assuming his rightful place. Enter the 4 children, who are legendary in the realms of Narnia, but in archival history. So the stage is set, and Christians once again may find plenty to talk about, within their spheres of influence, and even within their families.

Recently on The Meeting House, I talked with author Christin Ditchfield, who has written a number of "family guides" related to Narnia, including her latest, A Family Guide to Prince Caspian. Here's a highlight from that conversation:


You can download the full interview from the Intersection Download Center at the Meeting House website at www.meetinghouseonline.info/download.

Christin's website is http://www.takeittoheartradio.com/. Her Guide is also available at Focus on the Family's website at http://www.family.org/.

The main Prince Caspian movie website is at http://www.narnia.com/.

You can also get some info. at http://www.narniaweb.com/.

For Christian resources, you can check out http://caspian.interlinc-online.com/ or http://www.outreach.com/.

In addition to Christin's Family Guide, there are some other books that have been released that are designed as companions to the book, and could be used with the movie:

Finding God in the Land of Narnia by Kurt Bruner and Jim Ware
The Keys to the Chronicles by Marvin Hinten
Finding Purpose in Narnia: A Journey with Prince Caspian by Gina Burkart
A Reader's Guide to Caspian: A Journey into C.S. Lewis's Narnia by Leland Ryken and Marjorie Lamp Mead

Here's some more stuff to help you get ready for Prince Caspian!!

River Region's Journey - Whatever Happened to Sin?

I do like to share my monthly column from River Region's (formerly Montgomery's) Journey magazine here on the blog. In May, I revisited a topic that I had explored here, in addition to giving a thumbnail sketch on how God is working around the world. Here is what I submitted for May:

In the 80’s, Christian musical artist and philosopher Steve Taylor gave this description of moral relativism:
Morality lies within
Consciences are restin'
Please repeat the question again
Whatever happened to sin?

Not only can we ask that question, “whatever happened to sin?” but we can also explore concepts such as, “What is sin?” and “What behaviors are defined as sin?” I have been a bit fascinated by a new study by Ellison Research that shows that a majority of Americans surveyed believe in a concept of sin, but differ widely on what activities actually can be defined as sinful. For the purposes of the study, sin was defined as "something that is almost always considered wrong, particularly from a religious or moral perspective".

So 87% of Americans believe in the concept of sin, and there were 30 behaviors that were listed for those taking the survey to give a "thumbs up" or "thumbs down" regarding whether they believe that behavior (or lack of behavior) was sinful. Only 7 out of 30 were described as sinful by a majority of those taking the survey. Among those making the cut were adultery (81%), racism (74%), using hard drugs (are you kidding? - 65%), having an abortion (56%), and homosexual activity or sex (52%).

The surprise comes as we look at some of the items that were classifed as sinful by 50% or less of those surveyed - reading or watching pornography (50%), sex before marriage (45%), getting drunk (41%), and gambling (30%). You can find the results at www.ellisonresearch.com.

I think as we look at the whole notion of sin, we see that while there still may be a sense of right and wrong generally in our culture about some things, what defines right and wrong is often up to the individual. As Christians, we can have moral clarity as a result of the teachings of the Scriptures - we have a bearing for our lives. And as Christians, we can bring the world an antidote to the problem of sin through a relationship with Jesus Christ.

I had a fabulous conversation the other day on The Meeting House with Dr. Mark Roberts, who serves now in leadership at Laity Lodge in Texas, after pastoring a Presbyterian church in California. He made the excellent point that, “We are in a place where increasingly people are going to define for themselves…right and wrong…even if they acknowledge God and even if they acknowledge that they’re Christians. And that is troubling, but I think it also gives us our marching orders – in the sense that we need to engage with people, not merely to just go out and say, ‘Hey, this is sinful’; that’s not going to get us very far. But to live our lives in such a way that people are drawn to Christ, to live both individually and in the world together as we’re God’s people.” You can read his blog at www.markdroberts.com. Certainly, God has a moral code by which we are to live, not just to be prevented from doing certain things that we may want to do, but to participate in the “divine nature”, walking in the very best way of living for us.

And people all over the world are experiencing this new and abundant life in Jesus Christ. One of the exciting aspects of hosting The Meeting House radio program on Faith Broadcasting each weekday afternoon is to trace the hand of God at work around the world. William and Amy Stearns, authors of the book, 20/20 Vision: Amazing Stories of What God is Doing Around the World, have joined me previously on the show, and they publish a “Global Report”, available on their website at www.billandamystearns.info. Citing the Generous Giving website (www.generousgiving.org), they report that each day 166,000 people hear the good news of Jesus Christ for the first time, and that each year, 27 million people profess faith in Christ as Savior for the first time. A great example of the church’s growth is that the current 81 million believers in China are expected to swell to 135 million by 2025. By the year 2050, the 50 million believers in India are expected to swell to 125 million. Recently, author Joel Rosenberg appeared on the show, and reported the dynamic spiritual growth taking place in the Middle East. You can read about his research at www.joshuafund.net.

The light of Christ is shining throughout the world, as the burning torch of God’s righteousness is illuminating the darkness. As we embrace the truth that God’s way is best, we find we have the power to turn away from sin, and we can have a penetrating influence in our culture.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Toward Higher Expectations

Recently on The Meeting House, I had the opportunity to interview brothers Alex and Brett Harris. These guys are the sons of Gregg Harris, who is known as a homeschooling pioneer and someone that brings challenging messages to families. Their brother is Josh Harris, author of I Kissed Dating Goodbye and now a pastor of a Sovereign Grace Ministries church in Maryland. So there is a great pedigree here.

I was thrilled to learn that the brothers Harris had served, at the age of 16, as interns in the office of Justice Tom Parker of the Alabama Supreme Court. They had attracted the attention of a staff member at Justice Parker's office as a result of the website they had launched called, "The Rebelution", and were brought on board. They made clear that no considerations were given to them based on their age - the expectation level was not compromised just because of their youth.

In their conversation with me, Alex and Brett recounted how their father had brought home some books, which helped to expand their horizons and begin to think about raising their level of expectation.


They learned quite a bit from their experience in Montgomery, Alabama, and teens are being impacted by the Rebelution website. They continue to challenge teenagers to make this time period known as adolescence a time to seize opportunities and "do hard things", and have written a book called, Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations. Here, Alex discusses what they term "the myth of adolescence".


Well, I'm on board with this one...I think parents can be motivated to help our teens live productive lives, even during the junior high and senior high school years. This is especially relevant with the summer months coming up - what grand opportunities young people to work on their spiritual lives and to allow God to use them doing acts of service - it sure develops their character and spirit much better than watching TV, playing video games, or catching rays by the pool all summer long.

So, it was a pleasure to talk with Alex and Brett and to be inspired by 2 young men who have definitely risen to a challenge and are working to motivate teens all across America to passionately serve God!

The full interview is available at the Intersection Download Center at the Meeting House website...check out www.meetinghouseonline.info/download.