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    Tuesday
    Jan172012

    21-Lucifer Has A Moment of Triumph

    (excerpt from Chapter Four--pp. 39-41)

    “Yes, your gratitude is overwhelming.”

    “More sarcasm?  Aw, how did such a pretty angel get so jaded?”

    “Perhaps it is the shrieks that rise to Adonai’s ears from those you torture.”  Rapha felt the fury those cries ignited when Adonai withheld permission to destroy Lucifer and his strongholds.  “Perhaps it is the ongoing disbelief that one who had all heaven and earth laid at his feet could yet be dissatisfied….”

    Lucifer cut him off with a hiss.  “All heaven and earth laid at my feet in order to steal it away!”  The intensity of his gaze sought to strip the thoughts from Rapha’s mind.  “Do you think I cannot perceive Adonai’s schemes?  Do you think I cower in fear of almighty retribution?  While He has rested, I have grown strong.  No more do I await Adonai’s pleasure.  I take what is mine!”

    “And promptly bring it to ruin.”

    “And prove Adonai’s impotence!”  Lucifer smiled as Rapha winced.  “It goads you, doesn’t it old friend?  You have strained at heaven’s leash desiring to save a few pitiful beasts.  Ah!  If only you had cared so deeply for our angelic brothers, I never would have had to resort to drastic measures….”

    “Do not blame your depravity on me!” 

    “New talents arise when one is betrayed.” 

    Rapha studied the accusing eyes, realizing Lucifer actually believed his own lies.  “Adonai was betrayed.  He is constantly provoked and grieved, yet He remains pure.”

    “Not caring that his inaction tortures you.” 

    With diabolical precision Lucifer had found the chink.  Sensing vulnerability, he aimed to deepen the wound, his voice a razor-thin whisper.

    “Is it really long-suffering holiness, or is the Almighty afraid of failure?”

    Without a conscious thought Rapha’s anger flashed, slamming Lucifer through tall evergreens, leaving a wide, torn path in his wake.  Even as rumbles and cracks of crashing trees continued, Lucifer’s laughter echoed back through that corridor of destruction, growing nearer as he glided back into sight, small forms floating into his outstretched arms.  Soon Rapha could discern the mangled bodies of squirrels, birds and reptiles held close to Lucifer’s bosom.  He strode to Rapha and dropped the still twitching carnage at his feet. 

    “Look who drew first blood.  So promptly you bring Adonai’s creation to ruin.”   

    Speechless, Rapha slipped to the ground, horrified by the result of his rage.  He lifted each body, gently separating fur from feather and scale among the bloodied mass, hardly noticing when five large, evil-eyed angels settled around him.  Normally he would have summoned his own contingent but the pain displayed before him was his own fault.  A deep, guilty part of him hoped to receive the pounding he deserved when he felt the force of their combined wills paralyze his body.  He didn’t even resist when crushed forward into the blood of the maimed creatures.

    (end excerpt)

    ************************

    Total brokenness.  Not mere regret, but the kind of devastation that would give anything to make things right.

    Remember, devastation doesn't have to be the end of the story.  Often it's the absolute BEST beginning.

    Here again, I had assumed angels were these one-dimensional, predictable/boring automatons with no will of their own.  I realize now my image probably had more in common with zombies than with true, faithful angels.  But God does not make robots.  He leaves free will intact even when someone professes total surrender to His will.

    It was interesting to explore this relationship between the long-suffering Rapha and Lucifer.  Maybe it just makes me feel better to imagine even angels might blow it once in a while and flash out with emotion before getting God's heart on a matter.  

    What is your impression of angels?  How would you imagine their appearance?  Wings or no?  Why do you think, from a Holy God's point-of-view, they are necessary at all?

    And, interesting thought, how do you think Jesus' life, death and resurrection affected/affects them?

    THE FALL is my first published novel. Hopefully there will be many more to follow, but regardless, I'm hooked--addicted to the written word.

    Click the link at the top of the page for more information about The Rapha Chronicles, Book 1: THE FALL.

    

    Thursday
    Jan122012

    Bite 20--Myths, Archaeology, Tolkien & Spiritual Cowardice

    (excerpt pp. 37-39)

                          Chapter Four

                                       Grace

    When the hand of Adonai reached to stir away the smoke and fumes, a deafening celestial cheer shook the heavens while the earth roared and rumbled to greet its Maker.  Pure power coursed through Rapha’s frame, renewing him as completely as the freshly formed mountain ranges and lush valleys that rejoiced to hear the Maker’s long awaited summons.  The scent of warmed soil and life-sustaining flora rose to heaven, the sweet incense of Earth’s gratitude. 

    The land once again felt the hoofs and pads of life teeming across grass-covered slopes, the swirl of fins through sun-warmed streams and the stir of feathers on the wind as the leaves of tall trees and the chatter of waters answered Adonai’s laughter.  Earth was pulsing with the life’s blood of its creator. 

    The scent of new life intoxicated Rapha.  Atop a fragrant hill he dug his hands into fresh, fertile soil, all the more rich for its years of disuse, and swore he could feel Earth’s heartbeat throbbing through his fingers, sharing with him an almost unbearable joy.  It had been too long.  He had hardly realized how much he missed the simple stability of Earth’s rhythm. 

    That was it!  The ebb and flow was addictive to a tired soul that had experienced too much.  Perhaps the enemy still plotted revenge for ancient grievances, but the birds, flowers, and padding wildlife were free of it.  Evil had no hold on fresh, earthly thoughts. 

    With a rumbling laugh Rapha flung his arms wide and felt the updraft of warmth rising from the sun-teased mountain lake far below.  If it weren’t a talent he already possessed, that was a day to teach a body how to fly!  Vast expanses of vivid greens and blues with vibrant splashes of crimson, gold, and purple spread before him, a flawless canvas kissed with the Master’s bold perfection.

    Feeling newborn himself, Rapha stooped to grasp a shining stone.  He studied flashing depths as it fractured, bent and multiplied the sunlight into dozens of glimmering rays.  The substance was rare, composed of carbon, compressed and crushed in grinding darkness.  Even to Rapha it felt ancient.  This gem had survived the wars and cataclysms of the planet’s past while those stresses had molded and purified it into a thing of beauty and strength.  Soon enough it would be coveted for its beauty.  But on this day, it too deserved the chance to fly.  With a childish whoop Rapha flung it high, toward the sun’s light, where it seemed to hang a moment, flashing, then began its plummet to join the clear, shining depths of liquid emerald in the lake below.   

    As the gem fell to the water with a distant splash a familiar voice said, “Careful.  You might harm a witty, bitty fish!” 

    In the fraction of an instant before Rapha turned to face his ancient foe, the virgin air around the mountain was stripped of its virtue.  Iridescent light pierced the lingering morning mist even as a choking darkness of deception clutched Rapha’s mind.  His spirit responded to the presence of all that is unholy while his eyes were dazzled by splendor.  Fragrant vapors encircled Luc’s image and formed a majestic train.  He stood, proud and beautiful, his perfect body and diadem-encircled brow proclaiming him the unrivalled Lord of Earth even as the true depraved image in Rapha’s mind snarled, fangs dripping gore.

    “Aw, Rapha.  So serious!  Not even a ‘My Lucifer, you’re looking well?’  But you’ve missed me, I can tell.”  The image changed.  The majestic glow faded until he was simply Luc, Rapha’s old friend with the impish gleam in his eye.  This less elaborate illusion more effectively masked evil and Rapha struggled to recall the repellant specter as he felt his heart drawn to ancient, innocent days.

    “Well, well.  That was quite entertaining.  ‘Let there be LIGHT!’”  Luc made childish thundering noises and broad gestures with his arms before collapsing in a fit of giggles onto the green turf.  “And they say I have a flare for drama.”

    The sight of Lucifer taking on the form of his once beloved friend laid wide the ancient wound but Rapha harbored no illusions of a tearful reconciliation.  “To what do I owe this honor?”

    “Do I detect sarcasm?  I’m so proud of you!”

    When Rapha gave no answer, Lucifer hopped to his feet.  “I merely want to convey my deepest gratitude to Adonai for my lovely new home,” he gestured with his arm as if the fresh beauty was for his pleasure alone.

    When Rapha again remained silent, Lucifer frowned.  “You could at least be polite….”

    “I have not attempted to destroy you.“

    All gentility was dropped as Lucifer’s eyes glittered with malice.  “Attempted, indeed.  You have no idea the power at my command.  With a flick of my hand all could be laid waste once more."

    (end excerpt)

    ***********************

    I love J.R.R. Tolkien.  His trilogy, Lord of the Rings, is at the top of my fiction list and never grows old.  Like The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, every time I read them, I discover more.

    One concept of Tolkien's that helped me wrap my head around a broader view of history is his use of the term "Age" as in Age of Elves/Age of Men.  While I totally respect those who believe everything was created from nothing about 6 to 7 thousand years ago, it makes sense to me that the drama we live in has all happened before with a different cast of characters.

    In that regard, rather than just discarding accounts like Greek Mythology or archaeological discoveries that point to ancient, highly advanced societies, new ponderings gave me new eyes.  I no longer had to shut out facts to protect beliefs. 

    Does that make sense?

    Then again, I was no longer playing it safe and the coward in me who hates controversy wanted to squinch them shut again.  For about a day I cringed and whimpered as I considered possible backlash.  But I was too far gone; smitten with God's love in the inklings of insight and the blinding brilliance of Christ's blood in the grand scheme of things. 

    There was no turning back.

    THE FALL is my first published novel. Hopefully there will be many more to follow, but regardless, I'm hooked--addicted to the written word.

    Click the link at the top of the page for more information about The Rapha Chronicles, Book 1: THE FALL.

    Monday
    Jan092012

    Bite 19--Truth Stranger Than Fiction

    (from THE FALL, Ch. 3, pp. 31-33)

    All heaven grieved when descendants of “the gods” began appearing as lords of Earth’s various tribes.  What use did the children of men have for an unseen creator when these glorious beings, a feast for earthly senses, could be worshiped?

    These lords were a diabolical combination of glorified beast and man.  Whatever creature was most feared in a tribe, the lord would appear who claimed dominion over it.  They possessed the physical attributes of man and beast, yet were larger, stronger, wiser.  For one culture the lord resembled man and snake, for another, a man-wolf, while yet another bowed before a man-dragon. 

    Mankind was eager to seek the favor of these gods.  Who else would give them the knowledge and tools of war necessary to survive?

    Thus the leaders of men swore allegiance to these glorious beings.  In return they received knowledge, power, wealth, and the means to destroy the beasts that plagued them.  These “shining ones” received whatever they demanded.  Their requests were simple.  They merely desired earth women as their mates. 

    So Lucifer’s goal was achieved with mankind’s eager acquiescence.  The cities of men became glorious wonders of architecture while commerce, art, and science attained astonishing heights through wisdom handed down from the gods. 

    And the celestial offspring!  Never had there been men of such stature, beauty, and strength.  In that golden age following the defeat of the evil beasts, men knew ease and safety.  Their edifices rose higher, their tables overflowed with the fat of the land and their pride soared.

    But not all were deceived.  Some prophets spoke of catastrophe to come but few listened.  Who would dare oppose the sons of gods?  Indeed, any who tried paid the price of that folly with their lives.

    However, as celestial offspring flourished, mankind began to realize their error.  They watched these saviors become the oppressors; their tyranny, cruelty, and disdain for those of inferior blood established the reigning law of the land:  Might is right. 

    Rapha and heaven’s allies were busy sustaining those who called on Adonai.  From the sprawling cities came a steady trickle of refugees seeking escape and communion with their Maker.  Among these remnants of unadulterated human kind were others, a manipulated and mixed species of beast, human, and angelic blood.  They were a motley crew but they had one thing in common:  a deep desire for truth and love.  There were even beasts of hideous visage who possessed this hunger for purity, as if holiness was an anomaly Lucifer could not predict or destroy.  Finally Rapha understood Adonai’s patient unwillingness to destroy the seeds of goodness along with the wicked. 

    But the bloodbath was inevitable.  When the shining star of earth’s cities sank into the sea and was buried beneath floodwaters, a result of Lucifer’s massive lairs beneath it, Lucifer’s servants fanned the grief and outrage, aiming it toward those who professed belief in the One True God.  “They have been tunneling beneath our cities like rats!” his servants proclaimed.  “They weaken our foundations of unity and power!”

    The faithful sought refuge as Lucifer’s forces gave relentless pursuit, scarring the land with their engines of war.

    When wasting disease swept the land, another result of joining earthly and celestial flesh, it was yet another opportunity to blame the followers of Adonai.

    “This is the judgement of their cruel God!” Lucifer’s hordes screamed.  “His prophets gave warnings, now Adonai has brought His plagues upon us!”  So the hatred for and slaughter of those who professed fealty to the God over all gods raged stronger than ever.

    Finally, no pocket of purity could be found on earth.  Soil, air, water and flesh were corrupt.  The only good dwelt within the hearts of those who sought Adonai.  As these faithful ones endured torture, starvation, and death of all they loved, Rapha and his celestials ushered most of them one-by-one out of their diseased flesh and into paradise.

    It was a wonder creation could resist as long as it did.

    When earth could take no more, the spontaneous collapse was mirrored in all life.  Structure was swallowed in chaos, harmony gave way to strife, and life finally succumbed to death.  The earth, sickened to its core, vomited ash and fumes into the sky.  The sun’s light turned a sickening sepia, then gray, until, finally, choking darkness settled over the land. 

    Through this horror, Rapha and his allies strove to preserve the seeds of faithfulness.   Lucifer too preserved a remnant of his kingdom.  So, in vast, hidden realms, separate yet still sharing earth’s hospitality, seeds of righteousness and evil dug deep to survive.

    Thus the earth’s surface lay fallow while the carnage of battle and catastrophe decayed.  Again, what was of earth was reabsorbed.  But the leavings of immortality remained, an indestructible poison to add to the stores of former celestial corruption.  Down through rock and soil this distilled toxin seeped, transformed but still indestructible.  These caches were hidden but not forgotten.  The day would come when mankind would possess the will and means to draw forth this poison once more.  But that day was far in earth’s future.

    And the earth was shapeless and void

     and darkness covered the face of the deep.  (Gen. 1:2)

    (end excerpt)

    ***********************

    (Do yourself a favor.  Before you decide I'm absolutely off my rocker, start at the first entry to gather more evidence of that fact :)

    There's a wonderful quote from C.S. Lewis where he says, "Someday you will be old enough to start reading fairytales again."

    Perhaps he said this because, if one delves deeply into any course of study with an open mind, one can't help but be struck by mysteries that are truly stranger than fiction--or fairytales. 

    As I grappled with "crazy" ideas birthed, of all places, in prayer, I kept running into legends, myths, ancient writings, even archaeological mysteries that (after panning out tons of dross) would leave me with some nuggets of truth that blew my mind, changed my worldview, and yet... made absolute sense. 

    Sherlock Holmes said, "How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?"

    First, my idea of "impossible" was shattered.  We live in such a pragmatic world that tries to reduce everything to simple explanations or, if unexplainable, resorts to smug ridicule. 

    What was both fascinating and terrifying was seeing everything I "knew" crumble to dust, then when the smoke cleared, I saw what I thought were fortress walls had only been scaffolding.  I felt like a wide-eyed child gasping in wonder at the "improbable" that appeared to be the only viable explanation of why things are what they are and how they got this way despite a Holy Creator.

    

    THE FALL is my first published novel. Hopefully there will be many more to follow, but regardless, I'm hooked--addicted to the written word.

    Click the link at the top of the page if you would like to order The Rapha Chronicles, Book 1: THE FALL

    Sunday
    Jan082012

    Bite 18--Ambition Runs Amuck

    (from THE FALL, Ch. 3, pp. 32-33)

    In the following days, as Rapha recovered, the stench of death rose from the land while ash rained filth from above.  Panic and horror reigned as land and sea traded places and foundational stones ground together forcing jagged pinnacles skyward.  Huge tidal waves capsized forests and mountains and many of the ocean’s inhabitants were marooned in shallow pools or stranded on dry land.  Magnetic forces clawed for stability and the earth’s rotation tilted as if threatening to fall out of its appointed path in the cosmos. 

    But there were survivors.  With celestial assistance and man’s knowledge of caves and deep-water sources, discovered as they had fled Lucifer’s monster lizards, a ragtag remnant of mankind remained to defy insurmountable odds. 

    The huge reptiles, however, did not fare so well.  Stranded on the surface where sustaining plants withered and the temperature plummeted, the giant predators starved, their ice- and ash-covered carcasses the largest among the tombstones dotting earth’s strange new landscape where the titanic forces of displaced seas formed giant swells of ice on Earth’s new polar axes. 

    But, despite an unrecognizable terrain and skewed forces of nature, Earth’s life force continued to pulse, feeble but constant, beneath the shroud of death. 

    The stain of immortal flesh, Lucifer’s triumph, could not be destroyed, but the planet’s natural forces, made more violent due to its injuries, served to bury this corruption far beneath rock, soil, and water, out of harm’s way—for a time. 

    But Lucifer was nothing if not persistent.  His experiments continued even as earth limped toward renewal and many centuries of relative peace.

    Earth’s inhabitants began creeping out of hiding as air and water flowed clean once again.  As before, fierce creatures made life a constant battle, but the deeper aim of their manipulator was taking form in Lucifer’s hidden holds.

    Rumors reached Rapha’s ears of new horrors, of creatures possessing both the intelligence of humanity and the ferocity of beasts.  On occasion they erupted to fuel the night terrors of those who inhabited the yet fertile land and sea.  With the passing years these skirmishes grew in scope and intensity.  Roots of myth and legend were born while mankind became more and more like the beasts they fought.

    Finally, Lucifer’s new strategy was unveiled. 

    No longer would the fallen angel refrain from defying Adonai’s primary celestial edict, a law established from the beginning of all things—“Celestials will not join their flesh to that of mankind.” 

    But if earthly flesh and blood were required for earthly dominion, so be it.  The rebels would acquire it.

    (end excerpt)

    ***********************

    Ruthless.  I will have what I want and NO ONE will stand in my way.  This personality can be said of a toddler, but it can also describe men and women whom we tend to put on a pedestal.  Celebrities, politicians, real estate moguls, you name it.  We're fascinated by those who succeed against all odds.  Sometimes this success can mirror tenacious persistence but often it's called ruthlessness.  It's all about motivation

    And if there's a way to sell out--a chink in moral armor--ruthless ambition will view it as justifiable, even inevitable/regretable fall-out.  After all, the GOAL is God.  The end justifies any means.

    In the story, Lucifer continues his downward plummet by casting off all restraint in his ambition to derail God's authority.  Whatever delicate sensibities he once possessed, they're gone

    Repeated sin will do that.

    “Too many think lightly of sin, and therefore
    think lightly of the Savior.”  C.H. Spurgeon

    The little ways we ignore God and put our efforts into OUR ambitions may seem justified in today's ME generation--even laudable--but... that road leads to death and even ruins the treasured goal.  By the time we attain the thing for which we sold our soul, we end up with a handful of maggots.

    In Christ, we lose our lives (give up OUR goals and pet gods) but end up with LIFE.  What does that look like?  Jesus said the Kingdom of Heaven is righteousness, peace and joy, the kind of life that flows regardless of fame, possessions and status.  And that kind of flow can only come when we're connected to the GIVER of life. 

    Sin separates us from God--the creator and giver of life.

    While we justify, coddle and protect what eats our heart out.

    

    THE FALL is my first published novel. Hopefully there will be many more to follow, but regardless, I'm hooked--addicted to the written word.

    Click the link at the top of the page if you would like to order The Rapha Chronicles, Book 1: THE FALL

    Thursday
    Jan052012

    Bite 17--If I Can't Have it--Destroy it!

    (from THE FALL Ch. 3, pp. 31-32)

    Even at such a moment, Adonai’s strength flowed through Rapha, calming, giving hope and direction.  He sensed unity with Gabriel and Michael whose thoughts also centered on the Most High even as the rebel angels enfolding them shrieked hatred and targeted Earth’s core.

    Cords of trust and love linked Rapha, Gabriel, and Michael, an even stronger link than the fire engulfing them.  They felt the burst of surprise from Lucifer when the three of them pulled the cluster of celestials tighter still.  They felt his resistance as they willed their light to revolve in the opposite direction of Lucifer and his minions, every rotation grating against the rebels’ collective will.  Then they heard his howl of rage as the celestial fireball burst asunder short of Lucifer’s target to scatter plummeting points of light across land and sea.

    Rapha knew one instant of vague satisfaction before his being was splintered as by myriad shards of molten glass. 

    ~~~~~

    He had no way of knowing how much time had passed when he came to with liquid fire before his eyes.  He had impacted on dry ground.  That much Rapha remembered.  But the searing acid engulfing him was real. 

    Had Earth been destroyed?  Had all been reduced to swirling elements without form? 

    “No,” Adonai’s calm voice assured him.  And Rapha was not alone.  Strong arms were lifting him; familiar voices were speaking to him.  His last view of earth as one of his brothers sped him toward the heavens was a blur of smoke, fire, and flood with thousands of bright points of light, the attending, faithful celestials, working amidst the devastation. 

    The pain from countless screaming souls smote the last of Rapha’s waning strength and he knew no more.

    **********************

    What can prove faster than anything that someone's love is really infatuation and lust?  If they would rather see the beloved destroyed than see them belong to another.

    "I love you as long as you help ME love me."

    This reminds me of the story of King Solomon (in I Kings) resolving a dispute between two mothers about who really was the mother of a baby.  When he offered to cut the child in two to divide it equally between them, the non-mom said, "Go ahead."

    True love is not selfish and only God can exhibit true love ALL the time.

    This especially hits me between the eyes when I realize the countless times my love for God has waned because He wasn't doing things MY way, in MY time, with MY priorities.

    It's hilarious, really, that I would think for even a fleeting second that I could control God, the Maker of heaven and earth, everlastingly holy, omniscient and always GOOD.

    Here's where we can see that all sin is drawn from a base of selfishness where our whims, needs and desires trump the feelings, needs and desires of others--even the commands of God.  If all selfishness was eradicated, sin would have no foothold.  End of conflict.  God's Kingdom Come, God's will be done.

    But the flow of selfish ambition flows as surely as the waves of the sea.

    Only a completely new mind and heart, transformed from the inside out by Christ's Holy Spirit, can change our core. 

    He truly is our only hope. 

    THE FALL is my first published novel. Hopefully there will be many more to follow, but regardless, I'm hooked--addicted to the written word.

    Click the link at the top of the page if you would like to order The Rapha Chronicles, Book 1: THE FALL