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In ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’ Edmund’s love for ‘Turkish Delight’ caused him to betray his family. He fell into the trap set by the Witch and since it tasted so good he became obsessed with getting more ‘Turkish Delight’. The temptation of luscious ‘Turkish Delight’ became stronger even than his family loyalty; (that’s often what happens when a marriage breaks down due to adultery). Later in the book as the Witch prepares to kill Edmund he is rescued by troops from Aslan’s army. Next morning Edmund comes face to face with his brother Peter and his sisters Lucy and Susan. At this point there could have been an almighty family brawl, the type of brawl which I hope and pray you do not experience this Christmas!
But there’s no brawl and no harsh words. After talking with Edmund Aslan says, “Here is your brother; and there is no need to talk to him about what is past.”
Edmund shook hands with each of the others and said to each of them in turn, “I’m sorry”.
Aslan rescued Edmund, and Edmund was restored to his brothers and sisters. That’s how God desires to be with us. God says, “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.”
A video clip from the movie "Dead Man Walking" might give us a better understanding of what mercy really is.
In the video, Sister Helen Prejean sits with convicted killer Matthew Poncelet in his cell. When he confesses that he has indeed killed a man, Sister Prejean teaches him that he can become a child of God by asking for forgiveness of his sins and owning up to his responsibility—which he does, realizing that confession doesn’t negate what he’s done. The best he can do is wish the families peace. Poncelet is grateful for Sister Prejean’s compassion and love.* The video concludes with Poncelet telling Sister Prejean, "Thank you for loving me." (* Source: Videos That Teach, by Doug Fields and Eddie James)
In the movie Brave Heart, Mel Gibson plays the role of a man from Scotland whose name was Wallace. It was a great movie - very graphic in the battle scenes, but it really gave you a feel of what battles were like back in those days.
Wallace was trying to win Scotland’s freedom from the cruel rule of England. The King of England at this time was a man named Longshanks. He was as cruel as he was wicked. Longshanks hatred for both Scotland and Wallace grew as the movie progressed and Wallace won many victories against England..
But in the end Wallace is betrayed by a friend and captured by Longshanks who is now older and very ill. It is Longshanks plan to not merely kill Wallace but to have him beg for mercy and a quick death.
As the movie ends Wallace is brought to the court yard before a jeering crowd - they mock him, spit at him, and throw things at him.Then the King's executioner begins to torture him,telling him that if he begs for mercy they will make the death quick.
Meanwhile Longshanks is up in his room - on his death bed - waiting to hear his enemy Wallace beg for mercy....
After not responding, Wallace tries to speak - though it is difficult because his throat is messed up from being tortured.The man in charge of the torture gets the crowd to be silent so they all can hear Wallace beg. But instead of begging for mercy, Wallace summons up what little strength he has left to scream with great force the word --FREEDOM!!!!
In Les Misérables the antagonist is a police man named Javert. He is a pitiful man who believes in judgment alone and not mercy. Last week we saw the clip from the movie where Jean Valjean receives mercy from the Bishop and I told you that he lives the rest of his life trying to give the same mercy he received. Javert, on the other hand tries to live his life on the basis of justice and the rule of law – he says things like “once a thief, always a thief.” At one point of the movie he makes a mistake and requires the mayor to punish him – his justice must even apply to himself – but the mayor (Valjean in disguise) has mercy on him, finally ordering him to forgive himself, because the chief of police must obey an order from the Mayor. He is forever in pursuit of Valjean to bring him to justice. At one point in the story Valjean is given the chance to kill Javert, and be rid of his pursuer forever. Instead, he has mercy on him and sets him free. In the final scene, Javert and Valjean meet up again
Javert cannot live with the reality that Valjean has been redeemed, and is a better man than he is, when he catches up with Valjean in the end, he sets him free and kills himself because he cannot live with the mercy that was shown him and th...
The following song by "Casting Crowns" illustrates the importance of praising God:
Praise You in This Storm
words by Mark Hall/music by Mark Hall and Bernie Herms
I was sure by now, God You would have reached down
and wiped our tears away,
stepped in and saved the day.
But once again, I say amen
and it’s still raining
as the thunder rolls
I barely hear You whisper through the rain,
"I’m with you"
and as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise
the God who gives and takes away.
And I’ll praise you in this storm
and I will lift my hands
for You are who You are
no matter where I am
and every tear I’ve cried
You hold in your hand
You never left my side
and though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm
I remember when I stumbled in the wind
You heard my cry to You
and raised me up again
my strength is almost gone, how can I carry on
if I can’t find You
and as the thunder rolls
I barely hear You whisper through the rain
"I’m with you"
and as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise
the God who gives and takes away
I lift my eyes unto the hills
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth
I lift my eyes unto the hills
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.
REVENGE: A LAZY FORM OF GRIEF
In the 2005 film, The Interpreter, Nicole Kidman plays the role of Sylvia Broome, a United Nations translator who overhears an assassination plot. In one scene in the movie, Sylvia talks about revenge and mercy. She speaks of a primitive tribe and a tradition they have in which "a convicted murderer will be bound and thrown into the lake to drown. The victim’s family have two choices -- they can either swim out to save him or they can let him drown. If they let him drown, they will have their vengeance, but their grief will haunt them the rest of their lives. If they swim out to save him, their grief will be easier for they will have found out that the world is inherently unjust."
Sylvia then concludes by saying, "Vengeance is a lazy form of grief."
THE IN-LAWS: "ARE YOU A PRAYING MAN?"
Sheldon Kornpett was a quiet, reserved man with a successful dental practice in Manhattan, that is, until he met his future in-laws, Mr. and Mrs. Vince Ricardo. Sheldon’s daughter was soon to be married to their son, so Sheldon’s wife hosted a dinner party at their house to meet the parents of her daughter’s fiancé. This is the setup, of course, for the 1979 film, The In-Laws, in which Alan Arkin plays the docile, subdued dentist and Peter Falk plays the wild and goofy Vince Ricardo.
On the day after the party, Vince drops by Sheldon’s office and tells him that he is actually a CIA operative and that he has secretly robbed the U.S. Mint of a number of engraving plates. He explains that it was a necessary action if he was to crack a worldwide plot against the economy of the United States. He had to act on his own, he says, because the CIA wouldn’t go along with him. Not only that, Vince says, but he left one of the stolen engraving plates in Sheldon’s house the night before. As you might expect, when Sheldon arrives home that evening, the Feds are there to meet him.
But Sheldon doesn’t go into the house; he turns his car around and goes the other way. He calls Vince, and, before he knows it, he and his daughter’s future father-in-law are in a somewhat unstable plane, flying over a vast expanse of water, headed for Central America as part of Vince’s plan to save the United States from financial ruin.
When they arrive, they fall into disfavor with the local dictator, a General Garcia, and they wind up in front of a firing squad. The General enjoys having these Americans at his mercy, and he struts around in front of them, trying to torment them with their fate. This works with the dentist, of course, but the Peter Falk character isn’t shaken a bit. I remember the General, prancing in his black, high gloss, knee-high boots, wielding a riding crop in one hand -- I remember him walking up to the Alan Arkin character, tilting his head to capture his prisoner’s line of vision, and saying: "Tell me, sir: Are you a praying man?"
It’s the question I want us to consider today. Are you a praying man? Are you a woman who prays? Is prayer a part of your practice?
THE SPIRITUAL ODD COUPLE
Often times we stand in awe of the fact that our Savior Jesus Christ was born into this sinful world and took on human flesh - born in a cattle stall! What a filthy place for God to be born! In the same way, then, shouldn’t we stand in awe at what the Holy Spirit does?
Do you remember the old show called the Odd Couple - with Felix and Oscar? One was a complete and ungracious slob while the other was a perfectionist and good cook. That’s how you might compare our relationship to God. Here we were, living as slobs in the filth of this world. But then the Holy Spirit moves into our homes, cleans us up, cooks our meals, and takes care of us.
The blood of Christ does not flow into our veins only if we say “please” or “thank you.” The Holy Spirit continues to give us our daily ...
GRACE: JEAN VALJEAN FROM LES MISERABLES
The story of Jean Valjean in Les Misérables is a great example of grace.
* I read the book many years ago. Liza and I just saw the movie adaptation of the musical.
* "Les Misérables is a French historical novel by Victor Hugo, first published in 1862, that is considered one of the greatest novels of the nineteenth century. In the English-speaking world, the novel is usually referred to by its original French title, which can be translated from the French as The Miserables, The Wretched, The Miserable Ones, The Poor Ones, The Wretched Poor, or The Victims." (Wikipedia.org).
* "Sentenced to a 19 year term of hard labor for the crime of stealing bread, Jean Valjean gradually hardened into a tough convict... At last Valjean earned his release. Convicts in those days had to carry identity cards, however, and no innkeeper would let a dangerous felon spend the night. For four days he wandered the village roads, seeking shelter against the weather, until finally a kindly bishop had mercy on him." (Philip Yancey).
* I see in this story a powerful parallel with the teachings in Galatians, contrasting the law and grace. Jean Valjean is a guilty man, convicted of a crime. He experiences undeserved grace from a bishop, and the pursuit of the law from a policeman named Javert.
* I love Victor Hugo's description of the bishop's gracious acceptance of Jean Valjean:
o The bishop, who was sitting near him, touched his hand gently and said, "You need not tell me who you are. This is not my house, it is the house of Christ. It does not ask any comer whether he has a name, but whether he has an affliction. You are suffering, you are hungry and thirsty; be welcome... What need have I to know your name? Besides, before you told me, I knew it... your name is brother."
o That's grace! To extend love, acceptance and forgiveness to a sinful person...
* "That night, Jean Valjean rose from bed, rummaged through the cupboard for the family silver, and crept off into the darkness. The next morning three policemen knocked on the bishop's door with Valjean in tow. They had caught the convict in flight with the stolen silver and were ready to put the scoundrel in chains for life. The bishop responded in a way that no one, especially Jean Valjean, expected...
* "So here you are!" he cried to Valjean, "I'm delighted to see you. Had you forgotten that I gave you the candlesticks as well? They're silver like the rest, and worth a good 200 francs. Did you forget to take them?" Jean Valjean's eyes had widened. He was now staring at the old man with an expression no words can convey. Valjean was no thief, the bishop assured the police. "This silver was my gift to him." When the policemen withdrew, the bishop gave the candlesticks to his guest, now speechless and trembling. "Do not forget, do not ever forget," said the bishop, "that you have promised me to use the money to make yourself an honest man." (Philip Yancey).
* The power of that act of grace transformed Jean Valjean's life forever. He becomes a hero, a man who adopts and loves and cares for a young girl who loses her mother.
* However, the detective Javert, who knows no law but justice, stalks Valjean for the next two decades. In the end, Jean Valjean has a chance to kill Javert, but lets him go free.
* Throughout the whole Bible, we see two ways of relating to God: the law or grace.
* The law always condemns, grace always forgives.
* Like Jean Valjean, we deserve punishment, but God offers grace and mercy.
Video Illustration: The end of the movie The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. It’s were the three have a show down in the cemetery court yard.
This scene paints a picture for us today on how we are to deal with the Bad and the Ugly of the church. The truth is we are in a duel with both. But the Good is to shoot the Bad and do away with it. The Good needs to put the bad in the grave so that it does not go around the church killing, stealing and destroying the Kingdom of God. On the other hand the ugly side needs to be treated with grace, mercy and forgiveness.