Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Nov. 5, 2005
Mark 9:1-13
Refusing to be Taken In

In the book The Last Battle the dwarfs have been fooled by the Ape into believing that Alsan was living in the barn. When King Tirian tries to convince them to follow him they refused saying they would not be fooled again. In one of the final scenes, the King, along with Eustace and Pole meet Lucy and Peter in the barn. For them, the barn is a paradise. They see the dwarfs circled around and the dwarfs are not seeing the same thing as they are. The Dwarfs believe they are in the pitch black inside a smelly stable. When Lucy pleads with Alsan to do something for them, this is what happens.

Alsan raised his head and shook his mane. Instantly a glorious feast appeared in the Dwarf’s knees: pies and tongues and pigeons and trifles and ices, and each Dwarf had a goblet of good wine in his right hand. But it wasn’t much use. They began eating and drinking greedily enough, but it was clear that they couldn’t taste it properly. They thought they were eating and drinking only the sort of things you might find in a Stable…. “You see,” said Aslan. They will not let us help them. They have chosen cunning instead of belief. Their prison is only in their minds, yet they are in that prison; and so afraid of being taken in that they cannot be taken out.”

The reason this story reminds me so much of the transfiguration of Jesus is because on the mountain Peter, James, and John see the greatest sight of their lives. As they come down the mountain, they have the choice of either allowing this moment to shape them or they can shape the moment into what they want it to be.

This is true for all of us. God reaches out to us and we can allow those moments to define who we are or we can redefine the moment into what we want it to be. The dwarfs chose to take this moment and believe they were in a stable while the others took the moment as something marvelous. As we experience God, I hope we will allow God to shape our lives.

Nov. 4, 2005
Liar, Lunatic, or Lord
Mark 8:27-30

In the book, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Peter and Susan go to ask the professors advise about a troubling situation. Lucy has claimed to them that she went into a wardrobe that has led her into another world. The other children do not believe her so she becomes very upset. Then, her brother Edmund also finds the world of Narnia but tells the others that Lucy is making it all up. Peter and Susan go to ask the professor who they should believe. This is his answer.

There are only three possibilities. Either your sister is telling lies, or she is mad, or she is telling the truth. You know she doesn’t tell lies and it is obvious that she is not mad. For the moment then and unless further evidence turns up, we must assume that she is telling the truth.

This is the same type of logic Lewis uses to defend Jesus’ claims to be the Son of God. He says that Jesus claimed to be the Son of God, so he was either lying when he claimed it or mad when he said it, or else he was who he said he was. Lewis says this to point out that Jesus could not have been “just” a good moral teacher. He was either a devil or God.

In Mark 8, Jesus asks Peter who Peter thinks he is. Peter responds “the Christ”. Peter had been around Jesus enough and seen the things he had done to be convinced of this. Although I am sure Peter did not understand the full implications of this, Peter did believe it. The question we have to answer is “Who do we say Jesus is?” Is Jesus who he said he was? I certainly believe so.
Nov. 3, 2005
Rowing Into Darkness
Mark 4:34-41

As the ship battered crew near the end of their journey in The Voyage of the Dawn Trader they encounter The Dark Island. Their ship moves into total darkness which begins playing mind tricks with them. Just as they are beginning o go mad and give up on finding a way out of the darkness Lucy sees a sign of hope.

Lucy looked along the beam and presently saw something in it. At first it looked like a cross, then it looked like an aeroplane, then it looked like a kite, and at last with a whirring of wings it was right overhead and was an albatross. It circled three times round the mast and then perched for an instant on the crest of the gilded dragon at the prow. It called out in a strong sweet voice what seemed to be words though no one understood them…. But no one but Lucy knew that as it circled the mast it had whispered to her, “Courage, dear heart,” and the voice, she felt sure was Aslan’s, and with the voice a delicious smell breathed in her face. In a few moments the darkness turned into a grayness ahead, and then, almost before they dared to begin hoping, they had shot out into the sunlight and were in the warm blue world again.

Just as Aslan came and gave hope to Lucy and then lead the ship out of the darkness, Jesus in Mark 4 calms the storm when the disciples believe they are perishing. Jesus reminds the disciples to have faith, just as Aslan reminds Lucy to have courage.
The amazing thing about these stories is that we are reminded that although there are dark times and storms, Jesus is the one who will calm the storm and bring us into the sunshine again. Jesus is just asking us to have courage that he is in control. So, if you are in the midst of the storm, hold on and have faith.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Nov. 2, 2005
Heart Sinking Work
Mark 6:33-44

Just before the story I mention yesterday in Voyage of the Dawn Trader, Eustace had decided not to work when the ship needed to be repaired. Here is the story.

As Eustace lay under a tree and heard all these plans being discussed his heart sank. Was there going to be no rest? It looked as if their first day on the longed-for land was going to be quite as hard as a day at sea. Then a delightful idea occurred to him. Nobody was looking- they were all chattering about their ship as if they actually liked the beastly thing. Why shouldn’t he simply slip away? He would take a stroll inland, find a cool, airy place up in the mountains, have a good long sleep, and not rejoin the others till the day’s work was over.

In Mark 6:33-44, the disciples are confronted with a similar problem as Eustace, it was late for them and the place was barren. They told Jesus that he should send everyone home so they could bye themselves something to eat. Then, Jesus said, “You give them something to eat.” I am sure the disciples felt like Eustace. They probably wished they could have snuck off somewhere until the work was done.

Unfortunately sometimes, we are all called to “feed” people when they are hungry, both spiritually and physically. These stories remind me that there is no such thing as “my time.” It is all “God’s time” The sooner will all understand that the more effective our witness for God will be. I do think rest is important, but we are still resting on God’s time so that we can feed others.
Nov. 1, 2005
Being Stripped of Dragonish Ways
Mark 5:1-20

In the book Voyage of the Dawn Trader, Eustace makes his first trip to Narnia. He is a very selfish person. In one scene, he decides not to work and to take a nap. He sleeps in a dragon cave and finds that when he wakes up he has been turned into a dragon. It is during this time that Eustace realizes his own selfishness and relies on Aslan to transform him back. Here is the account of that transformation.

The very first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I’ve ever felt. The only thing that made me able to bear it was just the pleasure of feeling the stuff peel off… Well, he peeled the beastly stuff right off… and there I was as smooth and soft as a peeled switch and smaller than I had been.

In Mark 5, we meet a man who is demon possessed. Nothing he could do would get rid of the demons. Instead he had to rely on Jesus to cast the demons out of him. It was then that he became a new person. Afterward, the man was “clothed and in his right mind.”

Whether we are selfish like Eustace or have made major mistakes in our lives, Jesus is the one who can transform us and make us into a whole person again. The process my hurt some, but in the end the pleasure will be watching God peel off the ugly part of us and replace it with something nice. I hope we will all allow God to transform us.