Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Lessons from Dobby

I saw this on Facebook, saved a copy, printed it, and stuck it on our refrigerator.   As I was getting my yogurt one morning a thought struck me; Dobby is an excellent example of Christianity.  Dobby is from the Harry Potter series and I'm probably the last person in the world to watch the movies.  I resisted them for a long time but my daughter brought them home one day, it was cold and snowing, and so we loaded 'em up in the DVD player and commenced to watching.

Some people like to watch "Christian" movies like "Fireproof", "Facing the Giants", "Letters to God", and etc, and I enjoy those, too. but I have more fun watching non-Christian movies and pulling themes out of them to show the universalism of the Gospel message.  Many "Christian" movies are so often like fairy tales- everyone's happy, trouble comes along, they pray, everything is better again.  Life isn't like that (nor is the Bible or the gospel message).  Instead, we're not happy, troubles get worse, we pray, things get worse, we pray some more... and then something odd happens... we learn to be joyful w/in our troubles.  We transcend our troubles.  A bunch of verses immediately spring to mind that address this paradox:

Job 5:6-7 NKJV  For affliction does not come from the dust, Nor does trouble spring from the ground;  (7)  Yet man is born to trouble, As the sparks fly upward.

Zec 13:9 NKJV  I will bring the one-third through the fire, Will refine them as silver is refined, And test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, And I will answer them. I will say, 'This is My people'; And each one will say, 'The LORD is my God.' "

1Pe 1:6-7 NKJV  In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials,  (7)  that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,

So, back to Dobby.... why do I think Dobby is a nice illustration of a Christian?  Granted, this is not a perfect illustration, but it seems to me to have its points.  Dobby, when we first meet him, is a slave and furthermore he is a slave to a harsh taskmaster- the nefarious Lucius Malfoy.  I can't ignore the root of Mr. Malfoy's name: "Lucius"- as it's the same as "Lucifer". So, Dobby is basically a slave to the devil.  He's dressed in filthy rags to remind him of his state.  The only way he can be freed is if his master gives him an article of clothing.  Lucius Malfoy isn't about to do that, of course.  Harry Potter ends up tricking Lucius by hiding a piece of Harry's clothing (a sock) in a book; he hands the book to Lucius who then hands it to Dobby.  Dobby opens the book, finds the sock (never said it had to be the slave master's piece of clothing, right?) and becomes a free elf. After realizing that Harry has tricked him- although Harry played according to the rules!- Lucius is furious.  He doesn't care one whit for Dobby; he's just mad that he's lost a slave.  Harry, on the other hand, does care for Dobby, as Jesus Christ cares for His sheep.   Likewise, we're dressed in filthy rags (Isa 64:6) and are cleaned up by the gift of God in Jesus Christ (Romans 6:23).

Our analogy gets a little weak here because Harry only gave his sock whereas Jesus Christ gave his life and took our sins upon Himself, but what happens next is what struck me about this analogy in the first place.  Dobby is now FREE.  He's a FREE elf.   Just like this:

Joh 8:36 NKJV  Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.

Dobby's response to this freedom is to respond with gratitude and voluntarily attach himself to Harry Potter.  And this is where so many people misunderstand Christianity.  Upon being freed from the slavery of sin by Christ, I don't have to do anything.  That's religion.  I've been freed by grace (an unmerited favor) thru faith (in the fact that Jesus can do this), and I'm free from my former bonds.  At this point, I could voluntarily return to my old master, but who would?!  Well, some do!  Some go back to their harsh taskmaster.  Others, seeing a better way in front of them, go with the Good Taskmaster, the one who cares for his followers.  In the Harry books/movies, that's Harry.  In the Christian life, that's Jesus.   Dobby's love of Harry is so great that he eventually gives his own life to save Harry's.  Later on, Harry gives his life to save everyone from the evil Voldemort, but we don't know that just yet and- like I said earlier, this isn't a perfect analogy, nor would I want it to be; it's more fun to put the pieces together in a different order with the same result.

Many people think that they don't need Christ; they can "improve" themselves and make themselves a "better person".  Well, maybe they can, but the problem is that they're still slaves, just like Dobby, except that now they're new and improved slaves.  It takes someone else to come along and ransom them, or for the slave-master to set them free.  Believe me, your slave-master doesn't want to set you free any more than Lucius was ever gonna set Dobby free.  Paul's all over the "slaves of sin" theme in Romans:

Rom 6:17-18 NKJV  But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered.  (18)  And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.
So, along comes Harry Potter and pays the price (with his sock!) of setting Dobby free.  Again, this is where the analogy is a little weak because Jesus paid much, much more than that.  But the principle holds; we must be ransomed and set free.

Mat 20:28 NKJV  just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many."
 1Ti 2:5-6 NKJV  For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus,  (6)  who gave Himself a ransom for all...

A key point here is that Christians are followers of Christ because they want to be, not because they have to be.  Following Christ is not something one does to earn their freedom but something they do in gratitude.  If you don't want to be grateful, then that's between you and Him.  I suppose, having been freed, if you want to go back to your sin master, you can.  Certainly, it seems like many (maybe most?) Christians stop in to visit their old master once in awhile to see how he's doing.  Dobby never did, that's for sure.  He knew who Lucius was and ended up fighting against him for Harry several times.  That should be Christians, too.  We should fight against sin and help others do the same.  Dobby wants nothing more than to please Harry and that should be Christians, too.  We do things, not because we have to, but because we know that it pleases Jesus.  Of course we're never perfect in these things and of course we make mistakes but that's part of the learning process.  The main thing is that we do what we do out of gratitude and out of a willingly obedient heart, not out of a slave's heart.

Psa 51:16-17 NKJV  For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering.  (17)  The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart— These, O God, You will not despise.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

More Archery

Last week, we journeyed to Farmington NM for the State Indoor archery shoot. This is the first time I've done this since 1990 and I worked pretty hard this spring to get back into shooting shape and improve. I tried different rests, stabilizers, and releases and last week got a whole new bow to try (Hoyt Contender). It was a little bit of a risk shooting such a new bow, but I took an immediate liking to the Contender and ended up shooting it this past weekend, along with a new stabilizer (a 10" B-Stinger) that came in on Tues.

It was an 8 hr drive to Farmington. Going there, we took the "mountain" way thru Eagle Nest, Taos, Chama, Tierra Amarilla, Dulce.  We've never gone that way and so it was part of the adventure, too. The drive was real scenic and seeing all the snow in the high country was great.  On the return trip, we boogied back down Hwy 550 (70 mph), and then up I-25. That was faster and much straighter, but only about 1/2 h shorter when all was said and done and much less scenic.  I can see where the mountain road could be rough if you got caught behind a motor-home or other slow vehicle, though, and it was definitely harder on the back-seat passengers.

We arrived at the shoot around 6 pm, did some practice, and got ready for Saturday.  The distance was 20 yards and scoring is 60 shots, 5 points max, X counted for tie-breakers;  perfect score is 300/60x. You can shoot 5 individual spots or a single center bull. The problem with 5-spot is that only 4 and 5 count. Shoot what would be a 3 on the single bull and you get a zero. Problem with the single bull is that if you shoot good groups, you can hit an arrow and knock it out plus you'll almost certainly damage some arrows. I shot 5 spot and on the 1st day, sadly, tossed one into the 3 zone for a big fat "zero". First day, I scored 290/33x. Next day, I tossed one into the 3 zone during practice, got that out of my system, and shot a 296/37x.  I had one exciting moment the 2nd day where I shot my arrows, stepped off the line, and then decided to check my target with my binoculars.  I don't always do this because my feeling is that the shot's gone, so what's the use?  But I checked and, try as I might, I couldn't find an arrow in the center spot.  Looking into my quiver I found an "extra" arrow and that's when I realized that I'd only shot 4 arrows and not 5.  So, I hustled up to the line again, calmed down, and shot an X.  Whew!!!!

The best I've ever done previous to this was 288 and my goal for the shoot was 295. I beat that once, so I'm happy enough. I don't know yet where I ended placing. Hoping for top 5, but there were some good shooters and that dropped arrow hurt me. But, it was fun, I learned some things, and I was pleased enough with my performance. Here's my actual target from Sunday...

296 w 33 x
All but one of my 4's is in the inner 4 ring which tells me that with a little more tightening down, I can get them in the 5. (One of those 4's is from the 2 practice ends....). I did throw one high and made it in by 2/3 of an arrow. That's gotta stop.

From practice- this is what 5 arrows in the X looks like

Oh yeah... I'm shooting "Bowhunter Freestyle" class which is a short stabilizer, pins (not a scope), and a release. The hardest part is placing the pin accurately on the target which is a whole lot smaller at 20 yards than it is "in your face" as in the above picture. The light is always bad indoors and if you use a light (which I did), then the pins get a little fuzzy (.ie "larger") and you have really pay attention to where the pin is on the target face.

Next up in the State Tournament is an "Animal" Round in Sandia on a range I've never shot.  Should be fun.  I'll likely be using the Maxxis 35 there as it's shorter, lighter, and faster- all useful traits outdoors.  Gotta practice!

Hoyt Vectrix, Maxxis 35, Contender

In other news, we've gotten some nice snow lately.  Two of the storms were also accompanied by high winds (40-50 mph) and when that happens, it blows thru the windows into the house.  For the first time, it also blew under the north wall of my shop and caused a leak in there that forced me to clean off my work-bench and run 3 fans non-stop for several days to dry everything up.  But, we got it under control.

Snow in the house