Prince Caspian

On Friday we had the opportunity to take in the new movie in The Chronicles of Narnia series, Prince Caspian.  We all enjoyed the movie (I felt like the first half was slow, but the second half made up for it), however, I was a bit disappointed in how far it strayed from the book.  Going in, I was expecting some changes.  I didn’t feel like the book (which I had never read until just last week) would do well as a movie unchanged.  But the amount of change and the significance of the changes was, I feel, a bit much.

On the other hand, it still resulted in an entertaining movie that my family could enjoy together, and many of the messages and principles that C.S. Lewis brought out in the book still came through in the movie.  So while it wasn’t all I had hoped for, I would still recommend it (with the warning that this movie is a bit darker at times and more violent that its predecessor).

Unfortunately, the movie did not seem to do as well during the opening weekend as many had projected which makes me concerned that they may not follow through with the remaining five movies (although I understand the next one is already in production).  I hope that is not the case, despite its flaws, Prince Caspian is still the type of movie I’d like to see Hollywood produce more of.

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Here Comes the Sun!

This morning I read the following passage from “Zechariah’s Song” in Luke 1.  These were apparently some of Zechariah’s first words after regaining his speech after the birth of his son, John the Baptist (he was mute because he doubted the angel’s message that he would have a son).  The second half of the song speaks of John’s role in the coming of Jesus, but what stands out to me is the beautiful way that Jesus’ coming is described.

Luke 1:76-79 (NIV)

“And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High;
for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him,
to give his people the knowledge of salvation
through the forgiveness of their sins,
because of the tender mercy of our God,
by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven
to shine on those living in darkness
and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the path of peace.”

The picture of the Son as the sun was quite vivid with the light of the early morning sun streaming into my living room as I read this.  The image of the rising sun chasing away the darkness and shadow of the night is a great picture of God’s salvation through Jesus Christ lighting the dark corners of this world and of our individual lives.  Those that receive this great gift of salvation have the great privilege of walking along the “path of peace.”

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Search the Scriptures

searchthescriptures.jpgAnother “new start” I’ve made is to dive into Search the Scriptures.  This is a daily devotional guide that over the course of three years (at least) takes you through the entire Bible.  More than just a “read through the Bible” plan, each day includes some questions and encourages you to pray through what you’ve read.  It is amazing how many times you can read a passage yet you still find that there are always new things to pick up when you take the time to dwell on a small section of Scripture for a while.

I first learned about this book months ago on a different blog and immediately bought it, but I was unable to start with it right away.  Now seems to be the right time.

I’m sure there will be times when I need to take a break or go a different direction for a little while in my personal devotional time, but I hope to have this book be the primary ‘plan’ for my reading for the next four years or so.   I imagine I’ll post something I’ve learned through these readings from time to time.

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Brand New Start

Okay, I admit it. I’ve never been good at this blogging thing, but I’m going to keep trying!

Today is the start of a new phase of life for my family. Yesterday was my last day working for HP as I closed out almost 10 years there and over 16 years in the high tech industry. As of today, I am now full time with my church as a pastor.

Obviously this brings many changes, not the least of which is adjusting to a new daily routine! I view this blog as an important part of my new role. It may just be an ‘outlet’ that allows me to write even if no one reads it. Hopefully, over time, at least a few people will take a look at it from time to time. My intent is to make posts to this blog part of the new ‘routine’. Perhaps not daily, but at least regularly.

New starts are exciting and scary at the same time. I’m looking forward to the new responsibilities and opportunities that my new role will provide, but at the same time I know that there is a lot to be learned. I’m in a spot where I’m desperate before God for help, but really that is the best place to be.

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Don’t Blurt

Part of my daily time reading the Bible is spent reading the One Year Bible. A couple of days ago (April 7th), the Proverbs section included Proverbs 12:23

A prudent man keeps his knowledge to himself, but the heart of fools blurts out folly.

This one hit me hard. There have been a number of times in the past few weeks that I have found myself “blurting out folly”. I am, for the most part, fairly careful with my speech. But there are times, when conversation is flowing, that I say things and immediately think, “I shouldn’t have said that.” Whether it is a “morsel” of gossip, or an “I can top that” story, I often know right away that I should have kept my mouth shut. Sometimes I do the right thing and I immediately apologize and indicate that I should not have said what I did, but often I just let it pass.

I suppose the real lesson is to talk less and listen more, that would probably be better for both me and for those who are talking to me.

I always appreciate it when God “gets through to me” like that. Hopefully that verse will come to mind when I need it most.

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How easily we forget…

Mark 8:27-29 (NET) Then Jesus and his disciples went to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” They said, “John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and still others, one of the prophets.” He asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.”

Mark 14:27-31 (NET) Then Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away, for it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.But after I am raised, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.” Peter said to him, “Even if they all fall away, I will not!” Jesus said to him, “I tell you the truth, today – this very night – before a rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” But Peter insisted emphatically, “Even if I must die with you, I will never deny you.” And all of them said the same thing.

Mark 14:32-42 (NET) Then they went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” He took Peter, James, and John with him, and became very troubled and distressed. He said to them, “My soul is deeply grieved, even to the point of death. Remain here and stay alert.” Then he came and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “Simon, are you sleeping? Couldn’t you stay awake for one hour? Stay awake and pray that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” He went away again and prayed the same thing. When he came again he found them sleeping; they could not keep their eyes open. And they did not know what to tell him. He came a third time and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough of that! The hour has come. Look, the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Get up, let us go. Look! My betrayer is approaching!”

Mark 14:66-72 (NET) Now while Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the high priest’s slave girls came by. When she saw Peter warming himself, she looked directly at him and said, “You also were with that Nazarene, Jesus.” But he denied it: “I don’t even understand what you’re talking about!” Then he went out to the gateway, and a rooster crowed. When the slave girl saw him, she began again to say to the bystanders, “This man is one of them.” But he denied it again. A short time later the bystanders again said to Peter, “You must be one of them, because you are also a Galilean.” Then he began to curse, and he swore with an oath, “I do not know this man you are talking about!” Immediately a rooster crowed a second time. Then Peter remembered what Jesus had said to him: “Before a rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” And he broke down and wept.

As I read these passages in Mark, I was reminded of why the Lord’s Supper and this season of Easter are so important.

Here we see Peter correctly identify Jesus as the Christ. Then we see Peter tell Jesus that he will never deny him, even if it costs Peter his life!

Right after that Jesus, obviously troubled, asks Peter (along with James and John) to “remain here and stay alert” as he goes off to pray. But when he comes back, Peter and the others are all asleep. Two more times he leaves and comes back and every time they are unable to stay awake and “stay alert” as Jesus had asked.

A short time later that night, we see Peter’s denial of Jesus as he faces his accusers.

Peter knew exactly who Jesus was and he vowed to stand by him. But in the middle of the night, the demands of his flesh overcame the command of his Lord and he fell asleep. And when standing by Jesus meant possibly facing pain and death, Peter’s fear overcame his faith and his vow never to deny Jesus was found to be an empty promise.

Peter, the disciple who first identified Jesus for who he really was, forgot who he was dealing with.

I’m prone to forget who I’m dealing with in Jesus as well. Like Peter in Gethsemane, I give in to the demands of my flesh and forget the commands of my Lord. Like Peter’s denials of Jesus, I’m prone to put myself first when the going gets tough or I am “put on the spot”.

Peter was about to witness Jesus’ death and his resurrection, the most spectacular “reminders” of exactly who Jesus is. We have the privilege of looking back on those events and being continually reminded ourselves of what Jesus means to each of us.

As we partake of the Lord’s Supper to remember his death, and as we celebrate Easter to remember his new life, let’s remember exactly who Jesus is for us today, right now, and pray that this will be enough to overcome the weakness of our flesh and of our fear.

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A simple (and free!) safeguard

A few days ago I came across a lifehacker post on a service called ScrubIT. This service provides a simple way to provide some protection for your family from unacceptable web sites. The best part is that the basic service is free!

It is a pretty cool way to attack the problem. Whenever you type in a URL (like http://www.awebsite.com), your computer goes out to a Domain Name Server (DNS) to convert that name into an internet address (an IP address like 15.257.10.13 [yes, I know that IP address is invalid]). Normally your DNS servers are provided by your Internet Service Provider (ISP) and are configured automatically on your computer when it gets its own IP address (via DHCP).

ScrubIT provides their own DNS servers that check the URL your computer is trying to access before it gives you the destination’s IP address. If the URL is on their list of blocked sites, instead of displaying the destination, it will instead display a page indicating that the site you tried to go to is blocked. All you have to do is use the addresses of ScrubIT’s DNS servers instead of the ones supplied by your ISP. If you’re not comfortable doing this manually, they have a script on their web site that will do it for you (if you are running a Windows operating system).

Advantages:

  1. The price!
  2. There is no software to install on your computer.
  3. It works with all operating systems and web browsers.

Disadvantages:

  1. The list of blocked sites is fixed (but they are working on a configurable service that you can pay for).
  2. Anyone with some basic computer knowledge can work around it (although you can prevent this by not giving other people administrative privileges when they use your computers).

For our family, with fairly young kids, this is a great solution for now. It also prevents accidental visits to unwanted web sites. Just recently, I tried to go to a site related to a programming language, but when I accidentally typed .com on the end instead of .org, I found myself at a place that had nothing to do with computers!

Blocking schemes like this are only part of the solution. You can lock down computers in your house all you want, but your kids will have other opportunities outside your home to view sites that they should avoid. I’ll need to be sure to talk to my kids (at an appropriate age) about this problem, since the problem will only grow in our society. The real solution is self control and a desire for a pure heart before God. While the kids are in the house, another helpful strategy is to have the computers that the kids will be using (that are connected to the Internet) located in a very public place in the home.

That said, though, I think ScrubIT is a great tool to consider using in your home.

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