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Archive for September, 2008

An Interview with Christin Ditchfield

CHRISTIN DITCHFIELD has loved the Chronicles of Narnia since she was a child. She has authored more than fifty books including Crossway’s A Family Guide to Narnia and A Family Guide to “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.” She is also an accomplished educator and conference speaker and the host of the syndicated radio program, Take It to Heart!

We recently spoke to Christin about her latest book,  A Family Guide to “Prince Caspian”:

Most people today are at least a little familiar with C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia, thanks to the movie version of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Of course The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe is a kind of an allegory—it tells the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection. There’s now a new movie version of Prince Caspian. What’s the story? Are there biblical principles in this one, too?

When Prince Caspian begins, over a thousand years have passed since King Peter and King Edmund and Queen Susan and Queen Lucy ruled from the four thrones at Cair Paravel. Since then, a wicked race of men has conquered the land, silenced the rivers and trees, and killed off the Talking Beasts and Dwarves and Fauns and Giants. A tiny remnant remain in hiding, holding on to the faintest hope that somehow Narnia will be delivered from the oppression of the Telmarines—set free and restored to its former glory. But some creatures have grown bitter with centuries of suffering. They begin to doubt that Aslan, Narnia’s creator and savior, still exists—if he ever did—or that he cares about their plight. Skeptics say the old stories are nothing more than myths or fairy tales. But there are some who still believe, some who insist that the stories are true—that Aslan will come again and Narnia will see a new day.

We can relate to that, can’t we? Hebrews 11:1 tells us, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” In our world today we see that often the wicked flourish, and the righteous are oppressed. Scoffers and skeptics call our faith a fairy tale. Jesus said, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29). Just as the hope and faith and perseverance of the Talking Beasts of Narnia is rewarded, ours will be, too. Jesus will come again, in power and glory! His victory is sure. We just have to hang in there and fight the good fight until He gets here.

You’ve said that the some of the spiritual principles in Prince Caspian are particularly relevant or significant for Christians today. Explain this.

I think the most significant is the overall theme of persevering and holding onto our faith in dark times, but there are others. For Peter, Edmund, Susan, and Lucy, their second adventure in Narnia is a lesson in courage: “We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us” (Romans 5:3-5a). Lucy discovers the cost of discipleship (Matthew 16:24). She and Susan illustrate the story of Mary and Martha in Luke 10:38-42, as Susan allows practical concerns to keep her from experiencing Aslan’s presence while Lucy chooses to “sit at his feet.” Prince Caspian also includes powerful illustrations of the following truths: “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12) and “The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

Do you think the films by Disney and Walden Media have accurately captured the spirit—and the spiritual foundation—of Lewis’s books?

I think the film-makers certainly intended to stay true to Lewis’s vision. The first movie followed the book pretty closely, and the Scriptural principles shone through. However, many Narnia fans were disappointed by the movie version of Prince Caspian, because almost every scene was changed or rearranged to accommodate the unique challenges of translating this particular story from book to film. And frankly, in the translation, the biblical principles and parallels were lost. If you didn’t like the movie, don’t let it keep you from exploring the book. The original story is terrific and it brings so many significant spiritual truths to life. If you did like the movie, I think you’ll like the book even more!

At what age do you think it’s appropriate to introduce children to The Chronicles of Narnia?

Every child is different but, generally speaking, I think children as young as six or seven will enjoy hearing the stories read aloud and may even take turns reading along with you. Kids ages 8-12 can read the series on their own. Of course, there are Narnia fans of all ages. One grandmother told me, “I read these books to my own children years ago. Now I’m reading them with my grandchildren, and I’m getting so much more out of them this time around!”

As far as the movie versions go, again, each child is different. Each family’s standards are different. I always encourage parents to preview the films and make a determination as to whether or not they are appropriate for their family at this time.

You’ve written a number of guides to The Chronicles of Narnia. Can you share with us an anecdote or two about how your books have impacted readers?

I think one of my favorite stories was shared with me by a young woman who came to one of my book-signings. She told me that a year before, she had accidentally wandered into a Christian bookstore not knowing what it was. (Her son was drawn to all the cool toys in the window display!). As she looked around, she happened to see A Family Guide to Narnia, and she remembered reading The Chronicles of Narnia as a child. It was something familiar. So she decided to get a copy. She’d gone to church a few times when she was little, but she didn’t know much about the Bible or the Christian faith. She was intrigued to learn how the Narnia stories were all connected to the Scriptures. A few weeks later, she went back to the bookstore to get a Bible so she could look up the Scriptures for herself and really study them. Now she and her whole family attend a Bible-believing church! What a wonderful testimony of how God can use a fairy tale—and a guide to that fairy tale—to draw someone to the Greatest Story Ever Told.

If you’ve enjoyed Christin’s Family Guides, be sure to watch for her newest book, A Family Guide to the Bible, set to release in May 2009!

September 30, 2008 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Book News,Interview,News | Author: Crossway Staff @ 7:12 am | 0 Comments »

The Influence of Popular Culture

Next year marks the 20th anniversary of Ken Myers book, All God’s Children and Blue Suede Shoes: Christians & Popular Culture.  This book contains scads of insights that remain quite relevant today.

From the Introduction:

It might seem like an extreme assertion at first, but I believe that the challenge of living with popular culture may well be as serious for modern Christians as persecution and plagues were for the saints of earlier centuries.  Being thrown to the lions or living in the shadow of gruesome death are fairly straightforward if unattractive threats.  Enemies that come loudly and visibly are usually much easier to fight than those that are undetectable.  Physical affliction (even to the point of death) for the sake of Christ is a heavy cross, but at least it can be readily recognized at the time as a trial of faith.  But the erosion of character, the spoiling of innocent pleasures, and the cheapening of life itself that often accompany modern popular culture can occur so subtly that we believe nothing has happened.

Christian concern about popular culture should be as much about the sensibilities it encourages as about its content.  This book focuses on those sensibilities.  Many other studies look at the content of rock ‘n’ roll lyrics, of television programs, of movies, and of popular fiction…In this study, I have tried to make the case that popular culture’s greatest influence is in the way it shapes how we think and feel (more than what we think and feel) and how we think and feel about thinking and feeling.

| Posted in: Uncategorized | Author: James Kinnard @ 6:01 am | 0 Comments »

Author Offers Guidance for Christian Athletes, Fans, and Wannabes

Olympic medals, football championship rings, and Little League trophies teach us to associate athletic games with glory. But who are we glorifying, or what are we glorying in?

Scripture calls Christians to do everything for the glory of God. Every thought, every word, and every deed are to be done in a way that brings pleasure and honor to him, and this includes playing, watching, and talking sports.

Though many Christians fail to recognize how sports fit into the big picture of a God-glorifying life, author Stephen Altrogge contends that the God who created the universe actually cares about Little League games and Monday Night Football. In Game Day for the Glory of God, Altrogge provides practical guidance for all men and women who desire to serve God on game day. Readers will learn how to enjoy sports as a gift from God and to see them as a means of growing in godliness. Game Day for the Glory of God will encourage Christian athletes, fans, and wannabes to get in the game—all to the glory of God!

Here’s a great video about the book, featuring Stephen Altrogge:

If you enjoy this video, here are links for a few more:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z49uorM96_A (Defeat)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dgdc3aqxtuI (Victory)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A8Tsylytti4 (Baseball)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aguCHki3Z2M (Basketball)

September 29, 2008 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Book News,Children / Parenting,Life / Doctrine,Marriage / Family,News,Video | Author: Crossway Staff @ 7:36 am | 0 Comments »

Have you left Jesus behind?

In your pursuit of godliness, have you left Jesus behind?

This is one of the questions Elyse Fitzpatrick asks readers to consider throughout her excellent book, Because He Loves Me: How Christ Transforms Our Daily Life.

You can read the “must-read” introduction and first chapter here.

September 25, 2008 | Posted in: Uncategorized | Author: Crossway Staff @ 8:17 am | 0 Comments »

New from John Piper – “Spectacular Sins”

In light of the devastation caused by terrorists, dictators, murderers, cheats, and abusers, how are we to understand Jesus’ words: “All authority in heaven and earth belongs to me”?

When heart-rending news comes of the latest accident, illness, or natural disaster, can we truly believe that in Jesus “all things hold together”?

Though God has not answered all of our questions about sin and suffering, there are things he wants us to know, things he declares in his Word—such as what’s at stake in the “spectacular” sins of others and the horrible tragedies of this life; their global purpose, both historically and today; and how faith in God’s sovereign goodness reorients our thinking about these things.

Working with John Piper through these biblical truths, readers will be encouraged to trust in the complete sovereignty of God in a way that dispels fear and encourages faithful witness. Spectacular Sins will remind Christians that because everything occurs through Christ and for Christ and his glory, we are forever secure in him.

Endorsements for Spectacular Sins: And their Global Purpose in the Glory of Christ:

“When it comes to holocausts or other horrors, most of us assume God has his hands tied and his back to the wall. We figure the devil wreaks havoc when God’s not looking; we rationalize the Lord’s ‘mistakes,’ figuring he absentmindedly took his hands off the wheel when tragedies happen. But John Piper paints a different picture from the pages of Scripture that will strengthen your heart, bolster your faith, and deepen your understanding of the ‘largeness’ of God’s sovereignty.”

Joni Eareckson Tada, Joni and Friends International Disability Center

“I had to read this book twice. The weighty truths about the sovereign wisdom and power of God unpacked in these pages created in me an overwhelming feeling of gratitude and ultimate safety. To be reminded of his might over everything is priceless, and I don’t think I’ll ever be able to preach the same again.”

Matt Chandler, Lead Pastor, The Village Church, Highland Village, Texas

“Pastors, make sure your people read this book! I know of no one who has so clearly addressed the relationship of man’s sin and God’s sovereignty as John has done in Spectacular Sins.”

Randy Pope, Pastor, Perimeter Church, Duluth, GA

Spectacular Sins and Their Global Purpose in the Glory of Christ. Wow! Spectacular and sin! I’ve never seen those words together before. And who but John Piper could so brilliantly weave them into the same lyric as the global, purposeful glory of Christ! This man never ceases to inspire me to be more awestruck with the supremacy of Jesus.”

Chris Tomlin, Song-writer and lead worshiper

September 22, 2008 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Book News,News | Author: Crossway Staff @ 7:49 am | 0 Comments »