Friday, December 30, 2005

It's a Story of Sacrifice

Advent Devo Part 5: The Week of January 1

When once Aslan had been tied (and tied so that he was really a mass of cords) on the flat stone, a hush fell on the crowd. Four Hags, holding four torches, stood at the corners of the Table. The Witch bared her arms as she had bared them the previous night when it had been Edmund instead of Aslan. Then she began to whet her knife. It looked to the children, when the gleam of the torchlight fell on it, as if the knife were made of stone, not of steel, and it was of a strange and evil shape.

At last she drew near. She stood by Aslan’s head. Her face was working and twitching with passion, but his looked up at the sky, still quiet, neither angry nor afraid, but a little sad. Then, just before she gave the blow, she stooped down and said in a quivering voice,

"And now, who has won? Fool, did you think that by all this you would save the human traitor? Now I will kill you instead of him as our pact was and so the Deep Magic will be appeased. But when you are dead what will prevent me from killing him as well? And who will take him out of my hand then? Understand that you have given me Narnia forever, you have lost your own life and you have not saved his. In that knowledge, despair and die."

From "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe", Book 2 of The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

Little did Lucy and Susan dream that the mighty Aslan would be caught, shaven, bound, tortured and killed. They knew him as a mighty ruler of Narnia, not as the subdued body on the Stone Table. They must have had their doubts as they watched the minions of the White Witch torment him. How could this be?

Jadis underestimated, however, the power of the Emperor-Beyond-the-Sea and the way that the Deep Magic would be satisfied, once and for all. She connived and believed that she had destroyed Aslan and even the Four Thrones of Cair Paravel. She was wrong! The sacrifice was made; Edmund would be restored as a future co-ruler of Narnia, and Jadis herself would be defeated.

Daily Scripture Readings

Day One: Psalm 4, Exodus 12:21-30, Mark 12:28-44
Day Two: Psalm 20, Exodus 13:1-16, Luke 5:12-16
Day Three: Psalm 27, Exodus 32:1-14, Acts 7:44-60
Day Four: Psalm 50, I Kings 8:22-30, Romans 12:1-8
Day Five: Psalm 51, I Kings 8:41-61, Romans 12:9-21
Gospel: Matthew 9:9-13


Glory be to God on high,
and in earth peace,
good will towards men.
We praise Thee, we bless Thee,
we worship Thee, we glorify Thee,
we give thanks to Thee for Thy great glory,
O Lord God, heavenly King,
God the Father Almighty.
O Lord, the only-begotten Son Jesus Christ;
O Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father,
that takest away the sins of the world,
have mercy upon us.
Thou that takest away the sins of the world,
have mercy upon us.
Thou that takest away the sins of the world,
receive our prayer.
Thou that sittest at the right hand of God the Father,
have mercy upon us.
For Thou only art holy; Thou only art the Lord;
Thou only, O Christ, with the Holy Ghost,
art most high in the glory of God the Father.

From The Book of Common Prayer, Rite I, © 1979, Church Publications, New York. P. 52

  • Last fall, Goreth, Mary and Matilde visited our church and shared how they had remained faithful in spite of sacrifice and persecution. Was your heart moved? Did you see how much they gave up, out of obedience to God? Their stories touched us because, I believe, we could see the love of God through their words. Stop and pray for the courage to be faithful and sacrificial in your life, as these women of God have been. Pray also for them and the ministries of Amani ya Juu, as they share the Good News of Jesus in their home countries.
  • The Western Church often mistakes inconvenience for ‘sacrifice’. We volunteer or shop or write a check when asked. If it is only an action, God is not impressed! It doesn’t matter what you put in the offering plate if your heart is not part of the gift. Ask God to give you a heart that seeks to sacrificially serve and bless Him.
  • Hans Urs VonBalthasar, a Swiss philosopher and Jesuit priest, wrote: "Religion is the world in its journey toward God. Christianity is God journeying toward the world, and people who believe in Him taking the same direction as He." Part of our "journey" is following Christ in the way of self-denial and self-sacrifice. How is God showing you to change and grow as His disciple?

Unless otherwise noted, ©2005 by Deb Vaughn.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

It's a Story of the Difference a Day Can Make

Advent Devo Part 4: The Week of December 25

"Come on!" cried Mr. Beaver, who was almost dancing with delight. "Come and see! This is a nasty knock for the Witch! It looks as if her power is already crumbling."

"What do you mean, Mr. Beaver?" panted Peter as they all scrambled up the steep bank of the valley together.

"Didn’t I tell you," answered Mr. Beaver, "that she’d made it always winter and never Christmas? Didn’t I tell you? Well, just come and see!"

And then they were all at the top and did see.

It was a sledge, and it was reindeer with bells on their harness. But they were far bigger than the Witch’s reindeer, and they were not white but brown. And on the sledge sat a person whom everyone knew the moment they set eyes on him…

"I’ve come at last," said he. "She has kept me out for a long time, but I have got in at last. Aslan is on the move.The Witch’s magic is weakening."

And Lucy felt running through her that deep shiver of gladness which you only get if you are being solemn and still.

From "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe", Book 2 of The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

Father Christmas’ arrival in Narnia was the first concrete evidence that Aslan was indeed on the move. Stirrings and whisperings among his true followers had been only rumors up to that point. The day that Father Christmas returned, bringing a celebration of joy and cheer to Narnians, was a special one. They knew that when Aslan, the true King of Narnia, returned, the Witch’s evil rule would soon end. The second evidence of Aslan’s return was the return of spring. It was no longer "always winter." The world changed from January to May in the space of a few hours!

Jadis realized that she was no longer in total control of the affairs and activities of Narnians. Her anger lashed out at the squirrel family and their guests for celebrating Christmas, turning them into stone. She belittled Edmund for asking for mercy for them. But most of all, she raged at the very name of her opponent, Aslan. "If either of you mentions that name again," said the Witch, "he shall be instantly killed." Irrationally, she plotted the overthrow of Aslan. It was the day that made the difference…

Daily Scripture Readings
Day One: Psalm 2, I Samuel 2:1-10, 2 Samuel 22:47-31
Day Two: Psalm 8, Joel 2:12-13, 2 Samuel 23:1-5
Day Three: Psalm 40, Joel 2:21-27, Daniel 7:10, 13-14
Day Four: Psalm 45, Joel 2:28-32, Daniel 9:1-10
Day Five: Psalm 89, Joel 3:17-21, Daniel 9:11-19
Gospel: Luke 2:1-20

Ah, dearest Jesus, Holy Child,
make Thee a bed, soft, undefiled within my heart that it may be
a quiet chamber kept for Thee.
Welcome to earth, Thou noble Guest,
through whom even wicked men are blest! Thou comest to share our misery,
what can we render, Lord, to Thee?
My heart for very joy doth leap,
my life no more can silence keep; I too must sing,
with joyful tongue that sweetest ancient cradle song:
Glory to God in highest heaven,
Who unto man His Son hath given!" While angels sing, with pious mirth,
a glad New Year to all the earth.
A Christmas Prayer by Martin Luther


  • What difference does Christmas Day make in your life? Other than shopping, baking, huge meals, stockings and presents, is it any different than any other day of the year? We all know it should be, but the busy-ness of the day can make us forget its original intent. Re-read the Christmas story in Luke 2 and pray or write a prayer of "welcome" to the Lord Jesus into your home this week.
  • Luke writes that the shepherds rejoiced with exceeding great joy. That’s not just being "happy and you know it". It’s not based on circumstances but the reality that they had seen and heard the sign that the Messiah had come. Is that joy a reality in your life today? If not, ask for it!
  • The manger glows bright and clear, the very night gives out a light, darkness must not here appear, but faith remain both sure and bright. (German Advent Carol) Reflect over the past year. Has there been a "spring thaw" in your life – has some hard-fought battle been won in your heart? Thank Him! Thank God for the reality of His Presence in your life, and for the ways you have grown in your faith.

Unless otherwise noted, ©2005 by Deb Vaughn.

Monday, December 19, 2005

It's a Story of Love

Advent Devo Part 3: The Week of December 18

"They say Aslan in on the move – perhaps may have already landed," [said Mr. Beaver.]
And now a very curious thing happened. None of the children knew who Aslan was any more than you do; but the moment the Beaver had spoken these words, everyone felt quite different… At the name of Aslan, each one of the children felt something jump in its inside. Edmund felt a sensation of mysterious horror. Peter felt suddenly brave and adventurous. Susan felt as if some delicious smell or some delightful strain of music had just floated by her. And Lucy got the feeling you have when you wake up in the morning and realize that it is the beginning of the holidays or the beginning of summer.

…Aslan stood in the center of a crowd of creatures who had grouped themselves round him in the shape of a half-moon. …And next to Aslan stood two leopards, one of whom carried his crown and the other his standard.

But as for Aslan himself, the Beavers and the children didn’t know what to do or say when they saw him. People who have not been in Narnia sometimes think that a thing cannot be good and terrible at the same time.

From "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe", Book 2 of The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis


The very name of the son of the Emperor-Beyond-the-Sea brought life and freedom to the Land of Narnia. It evoked emotions of joy and peace, of tranquility and beauty. Even though Narnia was caught in the snares of the White Witch, there was an unforced response to his name. Beyond all possible logic, his name made them respond from the depths of their hearts. These unguarded places showed their true attitudes, especially Edmund’s, who knew he was not on Aslan’s ‘side’.

Aslan brought the children more than safety and security; he showed them complete, unreserved love. The love shone from his eyes; it resounded in his roar. It enveloped them in the warmth of his furry mane and protected them from their enemies. They felt as though they had always loved him, and that he had always loved them. They could not help but love someone who loved them and knew them so well!

Daily Scripture Readings

Day One: Psalm 130, Isaiah 2:2-5, I John 1:1-10
Day Two: Psalm 133, Isaiah 9:2-3, 6-7, I John 2:1-17
Day Three: Psalm 136, Isaiah 11:1-12, I John 3:1-10
Day Four: Psalm 138, Jeremiah 23:3-10, I John 3:11-24
Day Five: Psalm 139, Micah 7:18-20, I John 4:7-21
Gospel: Luke 1:5-56

Breathe in me O Holy Spirit,
that my thoughts may all be holy;
Act in me O Holy Spirit,
that my work, too, may be holy;
Draw my heart O Holy Spirit,
that I love but what is holy;
Strengthen me O Holy Spirit,
to defend all that is holy;
Guard me, then, O Holy Spirit,
that I always may be holy.
St. Augustine of Hippo


  • Hymns, choruses and praise songs have been written over the years to express the lyricist’s love for the Lord Jesus. Try writing your own ‘love song’ to Him. If you are stuck for words, start with one of the Psalms in this week’s Scripture readings.
  • The love of family and friends can get us through many rough spots in our lives. Consider that even though Edmund was a ‘traitor’, his brother and sisters still wanted to search for him at the risk of their own lives. This kind of love was expressed in the I John passages we read this week. Ask God for the heart of Christ, that it would be reflected in the ways you respond to and serve your family, your Church and your community.
  • What is your heart’s response to God? Are you emboldened like Peter, inspired like Susan, joyous like Lucy, or secretly terrified like Edmund? You can’t hide your true heart from God. The Psalmist encourages us to trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge. (Psalm 62:8)

Unless otherwise noted, (c) 2005 by Deb Vaughn

Sunday, December 11, 2005

It's a Story of Sin...

Advent Devo Part 2: The week of December 11th

“…I didn’t like to mention it before (he being your brother and all) but the moment I set eyes on that brother of yours I said to myself ‘Treacherous,’ [said Mr. Beaver.] “He had the look of one who has been with the Witch and eaten her food. You can always tell them if you’ve lived long in Narnia; something in their eyes.”

“All the same,” said Peter in a rather choking sort of voice, “we’ll still have to go and look for him. …”

“Go to the Witch’s House?” said Mrs. Beaver. “Don’t you see that the only chance of saving either him or yourselves is to keep away from her?...”

…You mustn’t think that even now Edmund was quite so bad that he actually wanted his brother and sisters to be turned into stone. He did want Turkish Delight and to be a Prince (and later a King) and to pay Peter out for calling him a beast. As for what the Witch would do with the others, he didn’t want her to be particularly nice to them – certainly not to put them on the same level as himself; but he managed to believe, or to pretend he believed, that she wouldn’t do anything very bad to them, “Because,” he said to himself, “all these people who say nasty things about her are her enemies and probably half of it isn’t true. She was jolly nice to me, anyway, much nicer than they are. I expect she is the rightful Queen really. Anyway, she’ll be better than that awful Aslan!” At least, that was the excuse he made in his own mind for what he was doing. It wasn’t a very good excuse, however, for deep down inside him he really knew that the White Witch was bad and cruel.

From The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Book 2 of The Chronicles of Narnia
by C.S. Lewis.

When Edmund’s deception and lies are discovered, the children begin to understand the danger they are facing. Jadis, the White Witch, not only wants to capture them, she wants to usurp their rightful positions as heirs to the throne of Narnia. She fears the prophecies’ fulfillment because she knows it will end her power there.

Jadis uses intimidation, lies, mocking and manipulation to persuade Edmund that Aslan is a cruel dictator. She suggests that it is not only difficult to know who is ‘right’, but it is best to play it safe and depend on someone powerful (like herself) to defend and protect Edmund’s future. She plays to Edmund’s pride, selfishness and greed. He decides, with some degree of fear, to succumb to these very human temptations. In doing so, he becomes a traitor and violates the laws of Narnia. Unfortunately it is the Law of the land of Narnia– the traitor pays for his deception with his own life!

Daily Scripture Readings

Day One: Genesis 2:4-17 Romans 2:1-11 Hosea 6:1-7
Day Two: Genesis 2:18-25 Romans 3:21-26 Hosea 11:1-12
Day Three: Genesis 3:1-7 Romans 4:13-25 Hosea 14:1-7
Day Four: Genesis 3:8-13 I Cor. 15:20-28 Malachi 1:6-11
Day Five: Genesis 3:14-:24 I Cor 15:45-58 Malachi 3:1-4
Gospel: Matthew 2:1-18


O God our Father,
Who has set forth the way of life for us in Thy beloved Son:
We confess with shame our slowness to learn of Him,
Our reluctance to follow Him.
Thou hast spoken and called, and we have not given heed;
Thy beauty has shone forth and we have been blind;
Thou has stretched out Thy hands to us through our fellows and we have passed by.
We have taken great benefits with little thanks;
We have been unworthy of Thy changeless love.
Have mercy upon us and forgive us, O Lord.

From the Covenant Service, Celtic Daily Prayer © 2000 Harper San Francisco,

Northumbria Community Trust. p. 316


  • The contemporary worship band Jars of Clay wrote these words: “Give to the wind your fear; hope and be undismayed. God hears your sighs and counts your tears. God will lift up your head.” Where you personally struggle with sin or fear, know that our Heavenly Father does hear your sighs and count your tears! Express them to Him now and thank Him for walking through them with you.
  • Like Mr. Beaver, we may be able to see “that look” in someone’s eyes – someone who is living a life that is “Treacherous”. Do you know someone who is still seeking God? Pray for sensitive, caring words as you live out your faith in front of them this week.
  • Know your weaknesses. Where do you most easily succumb to sin? Is it pride? A desire for power? Anger? Selfishness? Ask God to help you see your sin as He sees it, to look to Him for forgiveness and to use the power of the Holy Spirit live in a way that that pleases Him.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

It's a Story of God on the Move...

Advent Devo: Part 1 - The week of December 4th

“Aslan is on the move…”

“Who is Aslan?” asked Susan.

"Aslan?” said Mr. Beaver. “Why, don’t you know? He’s the King. He’s the Lord of the whole wood, but not often here, you understand. Never in my time or my father’s time. But the word has reached us that he has come back. He is in Narnia at this moment…”

Wrong will be right, when Aslan comes in sight,
At the sound of his roar, sorrows will be no more,
When he bares his teeth, winter meets its death,
And when he shakes his mane, we shall have spring again.

From The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Book 2 of The Chronicles of Narnia
by C.S. Lewis.

The kingdom of Narnia was bound in a spell under Jadis, the evil Queen. As Mr. Beaver explained, “It is she that makes it always winter; always winter, and never Christmas!” No hope. No change of seasons. No warmth felt from the sun’s rays. No nesting season for the birds. There aren’t any gorgeous fall colors or early spring flowers. Narnia is just a world of cold weather, dark clouds, and a black and white landscape. Evil seems to have won.

Evil has also bound up the hearts of the inhabitants of Narnia. Every creature lives in fear of the Queen. Her anger, her decrees are unquestionably obeyed. To defy her means death: being turned into stone statues. There seems no way out. Or is there? Some of the faithful know: Only Aslan can deliver the land of Narnia from this evil. And now the word is out – He is on the move!

Daily Scripture Readings

Day One: Psalm 95 Isaiah 42:1-9 Rev. 21:1-7
Day Two: Psalm 96 Isaiah 42:10-17 2 Peter 3:8-14
Day Three: Psalm 97 Isaiah 43:1-13 Zech. 2:10-13
Day Four: Psalm 98 Isaiah 43:14-28 Genesis 1
Day Five: Psalm 99 Isaiah 44:1-8 Luke 21:5-28
Gospel: Matthew 1:18-25


Thank You for speaking to us through Your Word and Your prophets. It strengthens my faith to read of the many things that were prophesied in Your Word which have already come to pass. I know this means that every promise in Your Word will be fulfilled. Thank You for always keeping Your promises.
I pray that I will not be like the people in Isaiah’s time who would not humble themselves before You and listen.
And I don’t want to be like the people Micah spoke to who refused to obey You. Nor do I want to be like the people who heard Jeremiah’s prophecy but didn’t have faith enough to believe it.
Instead, I humble myself before You this day and ask that You would help me to clearly hear and understand Your instructions to me. Enable me to fully know Your laws and obey them. Give me ever-increasing faith to believe that Your promises are true. Help me to see all the promises to me in Your Word so that I can claim them, stand strong in them, and rest in You as I wait for them to be fulfilled in my life.

In Jesus’ Name, I pray,

Stormie Omartian, "The Power of Christmas Prayer",
© 2000, Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, OR. p.


  • Is God on the move in your life today? Or do you have some ‘desert places’ that need His Hand of renewal and healing? Ask God to change and renew a right Spirit within you by praying Psalm 51 aloud to Him. Write down your heart’s response to God.

  • What can you do to insure that your home does not fall into the spell of ‘always winter and never Christmas’?

  • Theologian Karl Barth once said that pastors should write their sermons with a Bible in one hand and a newspaper in the other." (The equivalent today might be a Bible and Google™!) The challenge remains for us to try to live out our faith in our culture. As you read your paper or listen to the news today, where do you see that God is on the move in our world?