Hangin’ with The Magician’s Nephew

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Some people like to spend their annual vacation in Panama City or Savannah or Gatlinburg. I myself like to visit Narnia on a yearly basis. So it’s that time again when I pick up The Magician’s Nephew and commence on re-reading The Chronicles of Narnia.

Back in the day, the series started with The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe and went in the order in which C. S. Lewis wrote them. Now, the series starts with The Magician’s Nephew, which involves the creation of Narnia, and progresses chronologically in terms of the story line rather than in the order in which the books were published. Is that clear as mud?

Either way, they’re great books. They always encourage me and reaffirm my faith without being overly preachy. Even those who don’t care much for Christianity can read these books and find much to like. Or so I would imagine.

I highly recommend these books to anyone who likes allegorical fiction (even though these books aren’t really allegories in the strictest sense) or just good literature. They were written for children but anyone who is young at heart will love them.

I will keep you updated as I move through the seven books in the series.

 

House Hunters International: Narnia

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I recently watched an episode of House Hunters International on HGTV, where a couple was looking to move to Scotland. I was sold after hearing the real estate agent’s accent, as I am a sucker for a good Scottish accent.

It got me thinking. What if they did an episode of House Hunters International set in Narnia? I do know that Narnia isn’t real in the same sense as Scotland or Germany or any of the other countries that you can actually find on a world atlas.

But just the thought of choosing a home in Narnia would be a cool concept. Maybe Mr. Tumnus could be the real estate agent. And the biggest selling point? A chance to meet Aslan.

In case you’ve ever wondered who Aslan really is, C.S. Lewis once received such a letter from a young fan. He responded thus:

“As to Aslan’s other name, well I want you to guess. Has there never been anyone in this world who (1.) Arrived at the same time as Father Christmas. (2.) Said he was the son of the great Emperor. (3.) gave himself up for someone else’s fault to be jeered at and killed by wicked people. (4.) Came to life again. (5.) Is sometimes spoken of as a Lamb…. Don’t you really know His name in this world. Think it over and let me know your answer!”

I’ve said it before, but I really believe Heaven will be a lot like Narnia. Or maybe I should say that Narnia is the best representation of what Heaven will be like that I’ve seen (or read). And the idea of it being like the first day of summer after the school term has ended perfectly captures that overwhelming feeling of joy.

So I think House Hunters International: Narnia is a winner, followed possibly by House Hunters International: Hobbiton.

 

A Narnia Moment Brought to You by the Good Folks at WordPress

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“It isn’t Narnia, you know,” sobbed Lucy. “It’s you. We shan’t meet you there. And how can we live, never meeting you?”

“But you shall meet me, dear one,” said Aslan.

“Are—are you there too, Sir?” said Edmund.

“I am,” said Aslan. “But there I have another name. You must learn to know me by that name. This was the very reason why you were brought to Narnia, that by knowing me here for a little, you may know me better there.”

From The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
Compiled in A Year with Aslan

If you’ve read the Narnia books, you can already guess what that name is. If you haven’t, I won’t spoil it for you. If you want the answer without having to read the books then too bad, so sad, your momma wears plaid. Or something like that.

PS I’m already anticipating re-reading these books in 2015.

Revisiting the Shire

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I’m re-reading The Lord of the Rings. I’ve actually lost count of how many times I’ve read this book (side note: there are not three books, but one book in three parts).

It’s like going back to a familiar vacation spot. I get to revisit places like Bag End, where Bilbo Baggins lives, and The Shire. I can go back to the Prancing Pony or even climb Weathertop again. I wish there really was a Rivendell or Lothlorien to visit for an extended period of time.

If you don’t know what any of these places are, I recommend reading Lord of the Rings. Start with The Hobbit. If you’re feeling really brave, pick up The Silmarillion.

I have so many books on my to-read list that I’ll have to live to be 200 to get them all read. And I keep adding more books to that list. I read one and buy three, which even according to my own math skills doesn’t add up. So why do I keep reading the same books over and over?

Because some are just that good. I get my Narnia fix and go back to Middle Earth to check out those wacky hobbits because those books stir up feelings and desires in me that make me want to be a better person.

Plus, every time I read them, I pick up something new that I’ve missed before. Plus, I get the thrill of anticipating what I know is about to happen next.

They do make pills for this.

If you re-read certain books every year, I’d like to know. It would be nice knowing I’m not the only one who does this.

Plus, I can add even MORE books to my to-read list. Yay.

PS I’ve seen the movies and it helps me visualize the characters and places in the book. Just thought I’d thrown that one in for free.

I like the movies, but I much prefer the books. You can’t really do justice to this book unless you make ridiculously long movies that almost no one would go see. Plus, who would they get to play the part of Tom Bombadil?

Eschatology and All That

I have a new view about the millennium and the tribulation. You’ve heard of amillennialism and postmillennialism and premillennialism. I dare say you’re either on the pre-trib or post-trib side of the fence.

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Well, I am a panmillennialist. That means I believe it will all pan out in the end.

I do believe Jesus is coming back. I’m not sure when and I’m not sure if it will be before or after the dreaded tribulation. I don’t know what the millennium will look like or even if it will be a literal 1,000 years or not.

I do know there will be a new heaven and a new earth. I do know God will wipe away every tear from our eyes and there will be no more pain or sorrow anymore.

I like to think it will be like Narnia in The Last Battle. I like to think all the best parts of this life will be there. Maybe all those pets we’ve loved and lost will be there. Whatever it looks like it will be like those dreams we have that we can’t remember but are always trying to get back to when we sleep.

I used to not be all that keen on heaven. I suppose it’s because I had the idea that heaven would involve sitting on clouds playing harps or sitting on wooden pews for an eternally long church service. Neither of those particularly appealed to me.

Then I read The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis. It talked about heaven like that feeling on the first day of summer after school has ended. I could relate to that. I still can. It’s like that first day of vacation when you realize you don’t have to be anywhere or do anything by any certain time.

That feeling. Only better. Like a million, gazillon times better.

So yeah, that’s what I believe.

Leave It to Mr. Lewis

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Tonight in my Life Group, we were discussing how to explain to a nonbeliever why a Christian would want to be obedient to Jesus. Ok, that’s simplifying it a bit. It was a 30 minute discussion.

Basically, the question was this: if we’re truly free in Christ, why do we still feel compelled to do what He tells us to do instead of what we want to do. In all the discussion, I had a lightbulb moment. Why not google C. S. Lewis and find out what he had to say on the subject of obedience? After all, he was a smaht man (said in my best Forrest Gump voice).

Here’s what I found:

[To have Faith in Christ] means, of course, trying to do all that He says. There would be no sense in saying you trusted a person if you would not take his advice. Thus if you have really handed yourself over to Him, it must follow that you are trying to obey Him. But trying in a new way, a less worried way. Not doing these things in order to be saved, but because He has begun to save you already. Not hoping to get to Heaven as a reward for your actions, but inevitably wanting to act in a certain way because a first faint gleam of Heaven is already inside you.” 

Yep. There’s a reason why I’ve liked this guy all these years. It turns out he said some fairly astute things during his time. Who knew?

For real, if I had to pick the most influential believers of the 20th century, I’d start with Billy Graham and C. S. Lewis. If for nothing more than those Chronicles of Narnia, Lewis deserves the honor. But he wrote so many classics. I’d go so far as to say that I don’t know of a book of his that I don’t consider a classic.

What was my point? I think it was obedience. To me, obedience is not a “have to” but a “get to”. It’s not like we’re burdened with all these heavy burdens and restrictions and commandments that strangle and restrict. No. Love fulfills the law. These burdens of Jesus are light and a joy to bear. And the obedience is the fruit of a life spent close to Jesus.

Just as you and I become most like the people we spend the most time with, so believers become more like Jesus when they spend time with Him and end up doing what He did and living like He lived. They end up looking and sounding and acting just like Jesus. That to me is obedience.

 

Why I Call Myself Blessed

“One word, Ma’am,” he said, coming back from the fire; limping, because of the pain. “One word. All you’ve been saying is quite right, I shouldn’t wonder. I’m a chap who always liked to know the worst and then put the best face I can on it. So I won’t deny any of what you said. But there’s one more thing to be said, even so. Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all those things-trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself. Suppose we have. Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones. Suppose this black pit of a kingdom of yours is the only world. Well, it strikes me as a pretty poor one. And that’s a funny thing, when you come to think of it. We’re just babies making up a game, if you’re right. But four babies playing a game can make a play-world which licks your real world hollow. That’s why I’m going to stand by the play world. I’m on Aslan’s side even if there isn’t any Aslan to lead it. I’m going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn’t any Narnia. So, thanking you kindly for our supper, if these two gentlemen and the young lady are ready, we’re leaving your court at once and setting out in the dark to spend our lives looking for Overland. Not that our lives will be very long, I should think; but that’s a small loss if the world’s as dull a place as you say” (C.S. Lewis, The Silver Chair).

Good ol’ Puddleglum. For those not familiar with Narnia, that’s the character speaking these words. And I like them.

I am currently jobless. Again. But I still consider myself blessed.

I’d rather be where I am right now with God than in my dream job, making ridiculous amounts of money, without Him.

I’ve found out this simple equation:

Me + God > Me + Everything Else – God

I don’t know if that’s grammatically or mathematically correct, but it’s right as far as I’m concerned.

I’m blessed because I have God. I’m blessed because this God promises not to give me what I need or lead me to it, but because He’s promised that HE HIMSELF will be my provision.

Even if God never did another blessed thing for me, if God never gave me another sign or another visible reminder of His prescence, He would still have been better to me that I deserve for saving my soul.

So if I wake up tomorrow and draw breath, if I get out of bed and live through the next 24 hours, I’m blessed because God is with me. If I don’t wake up tomorrow, I’m still blessed because then I’ll be with God.

I call that a win-win.

Going Back to Narnia

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Once again, I’m heading back to the wonderful land of Narnia.

For those who either a) live under a rock and haven’t heard of Narnia or b) aren’t as into books and reading as me, here’s what I mean. I’m rereading The Chronicles of Narnia, making it the 15th year running that I have read through these books. Maybe more than that. I haven’t exactly kept a precise count.

For me, it’s like going back to a familiar vacation spot or visiting old friends you haven’t seen in a while. It’s very much like going to a favorite restaurant or shop or location that you haven’t been to in a while.

I’ll get to meet up with Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy (the inspiration for my cat’s name, in case you were wondering) as well as all the Narnian characters such as Mr. Tumnus, Puddleglum, Glimfeather, Prince Rilian and others. Especially Aslan. And if you don’t know who these people are, I highly recommend finding out by picking up these books. You won’t regret it.

I have the full-color collector’s editions with illustrations by Pauline Baynes. Those are the best, in my opinion, but any way you read them– in dusty old books or on a Kindle or some other electronic reading device– the stories are always captivating and charming and exciting and endearing. Even if you’ve read them as many times as I have.

Old books are the best, I think. Particularly the ones that have a bit of a musty, used smell and a worn, loved feel about the cover and pages. I’m all for Kindles and iPads, but the reading experience just isn’t the same. Call me old-fashioned.

Well, I suppose that if I want to get to Narnia, I should probably wrap this little blog up. Maybe I’ll see you there.

Takeaways from the Winter Olympics Opening Ceremonies

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My favorite part of the opening ceremonies of the 2014 Winter Olympics by far was seeing the athletes march in by countries.

There were a few countries I had never heard of. Some countries have less people than some of the towns I’ve lived in.

Many countries only had one athlete representing them. But every country, no matter how big or small, had its chance to be represented and to showcase their very best.

I imagine Heaven will be like that. The Book of Revelation says that at the throne of the Lamb there will be people from every tribe, tongue, and nation present. I doubt that they’ll be separated by nationality. In Heaven, they will be one people finally united in Christ.

I can however imagine a similar entrance to the one I saw tonight. Maybe it will start off with those first century believers, with the twelve apostles leading the way. Then believers from the following 20 centuries will follow, with this century’s believers being the last in the parade.

That is purely my own imagination at work. But I do know for certain that heaven will be a grand spectacle that will be bigger and better than the most lavish production or ceremony down here.

And it will go on throughout eternity. Like C. S. Lewis wrote in The Last Battle, Heaven will be like a great novel where the story never ends and each succeeding chapter is better than the one before. It will be like that book you just couldn’t put down.

Best of all, Jesus will be there. More than all the streets of gold and gates with precious stones and mansions, Heaven will be Heaven because Jesus is there.

And maybe Mr. Tumnus will be there, too. You never know.

Things I Love 25: I Feel Like I Should Celebrate With Some Grape Juice or Something

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I read something that actually made me laugh out loud. It said something to the effect that if life doesn’t hand you water and sugar to go along with your lemons, your lemonade is really going to suck. Literally. As far as this whole series of things I love, hopefully I’m taking the proverbial lemons of life and adding the sweetness of grace to make yet again proverbial lemonade. Which tastes much better than Country Time Lemonade, by the way. So I’m starting up again at #691.

691) The Red Hot Chili Peppers.

692) Actually looking forward to my Brentwood Baptist Church Life Group (or Sunday School class if you’re over 30 and don’t quite get the hipper church lingo yet).

693) All the waiters and waitresses at McCreary’s Irish Pub who always make me feel so very welcome and at home.

694) My sister’s dog Ellie who is the sweetest and friendliest dog on the planet.

695) Not tossing and turning half the night.

696) The comfy leather chairs at Starbucks.

697) Rainbows after a thunderstorm.

698) Hearing chirping birds again after a long rainy spell.

699) Catching old episodes of Family Ties.

700) Feeling welcomed in a group.

701) Making others feel welcome in a group.

702) Being able to play the music on my iPhone through my car and charge my phone at the same time.

703) That I’m reading The Chronicles of Narnia again for about the 15th year in a row.

704) Being able to plug in my iPhone and hear GPS directions through those same car speakers.

705) Those cheezy episodes of 21 Jump Street.

706) Eric Metaxas’ amazing biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

707) The way my cat Lucy often poses like a supermodel.

708) Wondering about things like if animals could talk before the Fall.

709) Revolutionary War-era biographies.

710) Lawn darts.

711) My never-ending hunt for bowling shoes at thrift stores.

712) Badminton and my awesome badminton racquet.

713) Jesus.

714) The times when I trust in the Lord with all my heart instead of leaning on my own understanding.

715) Chocolate covered raisins.

716) Bond. James Bond.

717) The godly example my brother-in-law Steve is setting for his family.

718) When people talk about turning 30 like it’s the end of the world and I feel like I’m really starting to come alive at age 41.

719) Old people who don’t act their age.

720) That time a friend of mine walked all the way over from Chipotle to where I was sitting at Starbucks to talk to me.

721) Caramelized onions.

722) Knowing the difference between to, two, and too.

723) My fantastic Glenn Miller collection.

724) When I talk to myself and grin like an idiot because I’m so spectacularly funny.

725) Passing that BMW SUV tonight in my vintage ’95 Jeep Cherokee.