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    Wednesday
    Dec282011

    Bite 11-Lucifer's Hang-Up --And Mine

    From The Rapha Chronicles, Book 1: THE FALL, chapter 2

    Later, when all was relatively peaceful once again, Rapha sought Luc upon Earth, delving deep until he found himself returning to the place of his own unmaking.  In these depths, a slight remnant of Adonai’s fragrance clung to cavern walls.  And there, in the very hole where Rapha had known both an end and a beginning, huddled Lucifer, his beautiful hands clutching like talons at his once-glorious hair that now hung about him like tangled vines.  A heavy scent of grief enshrouded him as well as… could it be… fear? 

    Franz Von Stuck

    “No matter how high I fly or how deeply I delve You are there,” Luc’s voice was a hoarse whisper, “and yet I am banished from Your presence… and yet…You.  Are.  Everywhere!”  Luc’s hands gripped at his glowing arms as if to wrench them from his body.

    “You mock me.  I can feel it.  You sit on your golden throne and laugh at the morning star who grovels in the dirt like… like a creature of dust!”  A moan shook Luc’s frame.  “Why?  Why do You delight to dishonor me?  What was my superior intelligence for if not to discover Your plan?  Surely You knew I could not be fooled?”  A gasp of pain escaped his lips.  “Surely this was Your plan all along, to lift me high in order to crush me.”

    Rapha could remain silent no longer.  “Never.  Adonai grieves.  All heaven grieves the loss of bright Lucifer.”

    Luc spun, crouching low as if ready to spring, “What?  Now you are Adonai’s spy; relishing my pain to perform it as a jest before His throne?”

    “I came of my own accord, Lucifer,” Rapha knelt to Luc’s level.  “This has gone too far.  Adonai will yet forgive….”

    “Forgive?”  Lucifer spat in disgust, “He should ask my forgiveness!  He spins His webs of deception while those too simple… too cowardly—“  his accusing gaze swept Rapha, “blindly sing His praises.”

    “To trust Adonai’s love is the only true wisdom…”

    “Don’t quote me your brainwashed rhetoric!  ‘The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,’” Luc’s eyes opened wide as his hands mouthed the air like puppets, “Blah, bull-ah, bull-ah!  The Great Adonai’s wisdom has failed!  He has set a course for our disgrace and destruction!  I strive to protect you and the rest of my brothers yet I am banished!  And you, my friend, stood silent.”

    “I am still your friend, Luc.  You are the one set on destruction.  If I did not care I would not be here.  Do you really think I desire burial beneath another mountain?”

    Rapha caught a fleeting glimpse of humor in the poison-filled eyes as Luc shrugged with grudging admiration, “Yes.  I thought we’d at least crush the fight out of you but it only buried you that much deeper in Adonai’s debt with your touching tale of rebirth.”  He sneered, “Thanks to you and your passionate testimony of Adonai’s love, Phineas betrayed me.  I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised when Adonai has managed to turn even you against me.”

    “I am not against you, but I stand with the Most High.”

    “Even now you can join me, old friend,” Luc’s eyes widened.  “We will prove Adonai’s error together.  Perhaps with you on our side Gabriel could be influenced.  We are strong, Rapha.  We will break Adonai’s grip over us….”

    The words continued as Rapha studied the earnest, perfect face before him.  So, one-third of heaven’s hosts were not enough?  How had he been so blind to Luc’s ambition?  But even defeated and banished, Lucifer’s words wielded truth, appealing to their angelic fraternity, begging him not to end their ancient friendship.  Rapha had been buried beneath a mountain by Lucifer’s fury yet still he felt the pull, the yearning to join the noble venture to wrest their fate once and for all from the controlling hands of Adonai.

    A smile crept over Rapha’s features even as Lucifer spoke of war. 

    The hands of Adonai… the gentle, healing, creating, pure presence of his Lord… the unspeakable joy of pulsing with Adonai’s power… the sense of losing his identity in that fathomless sweetness… emerging empty yet bursting with fulfillment.

    (end excerpt)

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


    Discernment is a tricky thing.  Evil has a knack for wrapping itself in what we consider the most desirable goals.  True evil does not approach pulling us to want what is reprehensible to us--it comes wrapped in our desires and appeals to our inner weaknesses.  Call it tailor-made.

    The times in life when I was wooed by evil, I hardly recognized it as such at the time.  It's more of a "hind-sight is 20/20" thing.  There was an appeal to vanity, a relationship with the woo-er that I wanted to maintain, a shortcut to something I desired in a big way.  And all it would take was momentarily ignoring God, choosing my wants, my timeline over His.

    I love that, even though Rapha is so immersed in Adonai, he is tempted.  His decision to honor Adonai costs him and seemingly makes matters worse, widening the gulf between him and his former friend.

    There is a devotion in "My Utmost for His Highest" by Oswald Chambers where he points out that many of us pull back when we realize what our obedience to God will cost others.  We effectively put that relationship ahead of the most important one of our lives thereby hindering what God might do in them--if we kept first things first.

    What's at the core?  Again, we want to be our own God... and theirs.

    This can happen even in prayer.  We remain in sympathy with the one we pray for.  Sounds good, right?  But we need to move through this into a deeper place of intercession--tapping into GOD'S heart and humbling ourselves to want what HE wants.  "Not my will but Thine be done."

    A few years ago when I started praying every day, it seemed every friend around me was going through excruciating circumstances and the more I prayed, the worse it got.  There were days my entire prayer time was, "God, why?  Why?  Why?  Why?" as I had the gall to think HE needed to handle things MY way.  Yet still the heat increased.

    I'm embarrassed to admit that only on rare occasions did I break through to that place of total trust, peace and surrender.  But when I did, even in regards to my own difficult circumstances, when I was able to really focus on God's love and, just for a moment, be like Rapha--immersed in God's overwhelming, unfathomable, drenching love--there was no question.  He's GOD.  And I barely have a clue.

    To me, this is the major, ongoing struggle.  "I'm not God, You are." 

    Say it, "I'm not God, You are."

    And continue to say it... even when all Hell breaks loose.

    

    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

    Monday
    Dec262011

    Bite 10--Lucifer's Achilles Heel

    Chapter 2--pp 15-18

    Lucifer stared at the white-robed figure and, with a hand over his mouth as if stifling a laugh he said, “Is this my only friend?  How pathetic.”

    But the One before the throne ignored him.  “Father, Samael is your child.  Whatever offenses he has committed, and they are many, let them fall on me.”

    Lucifer gasped, “Father?  Is this?  No.”

    The man continued, “My flesh and blood alone can restore him to holiness.” 

    “Your flesh and blood?”  Lucifer spat.  “This… thing is not worthy to stand in my presence!”  Lucifer’s voice rose and his slander became more and more vile while the man stood, quiet and calm.

    “Silence.”  Adonai’s voice boomed from the throne.  “This is my Son in whom I am well pleased.”

    A collective gasp resounded. 

    Lucifer stared up and down the small figure as if searching for a hint of greatness.  In fact, Rapha could feel every eye fixed on the man, such a contrast to celestial splendor.  This was the One—fully God and fully man.  The prophecy stood before their eyes. 

    “So this is what all the fuss was about?”  Lucifer sneered, “How disappointing.”  But his body betrayed the condescending tone with tremors of fury. 

    The man before the throne turned to face Lucifer.  “Will you accept Our gift, Samael?”  

    “I am the Morning Star, the brightest and greatest of all creation!  I have no need of your beggar’s rations,” Lucifer proclaimed. 

    Once again the voice from the throne filled their ears.  “At any time, Samael, my servant stands ready to restore you.”

    “Restore?  Him?”  Lucifer laughed but his eyes remained deadly, “To what?  Could I too be ugly and dress poorly?”

    Though many celestial voices murmured with anger and Michael grumbled at Rapha’s side, the voice from the throne remained steady.  “Since you reject restoration, your sentence is set.  No more will you have access to the heavens.  You will be confined to one planet just like those you destroyed.”

    “That’s not fair!  I am a citizen of the stars.  It is my right….”

    Adonai’s voice continued and Lucifer stopped speaking, his expression intent, as if straining to hear something better. 

    “Make your choice.  Where will you abide?”

    Rapha watched the thoughts play across Lucifer’s face.  If a loophole were available, no matter how obscure, Lucifer would find it. 

    “Just to make things clear,” Lucifer said, “Will I dwell alone?”

    “No.  I will not hinder those who choose to accompany you.”

    Lucifer smirked, “I choose Earth.”

    “No!” Michael shouted from the crowd.  “He chooses Earth to hinder prophecy.”

    “But, if the Most High wants to go back on His word….” Lucifer said. 

    Michael made a move toward Lucifer and Rapha laid a restraining hand on his shoulder.

    “But,” Lucifer’s brow furrowed with concern, “Am I correct in assuming I will maintain my other powers?  After all, I must not be left to the mercy of my enemies.”

    “Yes.  Your other powers will remain.”

    “But, Adonai,” Michael interjected again, “With all due respect, he must be stripped of his powers or he will destroy Earth.”

    “Understand, Samael,” Adonai addressed Lucifer, “you are tied to the fate of Earth.  To destroy her is to destroy yourself.”

    Lucifer’s eyes narrowed, shrewd and calculating, “I will, of course, be the most powerful being there.”

    “No.  Authority over Earth is given to another.”

    “To what?  To this son of yours?”  Lucifer hissed.  “He will have no authority over me!”

    But the trial was over.  Lucifer, still screaming threats and defiance, was ushered from Adonai’s presence and the edict was put into effect.  He and those loyal to him were confined to Earth and stripped of their access to the heavens. 

    As Rapha and the other celestials began the task of mending the scars of war, he could not help but shudder as he considered the fate of the tiny planet that now played host to a raging outcast angel.  Perhaps Lucifer would be tamed by having his wings clipped? 

    Michael laughed when he considered that possibility.  Rapha agreed, but he did not have the heart to laugh.

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

    Why are we so offended to admit we need saving?  It's pride.  Lucifer is a great example here as he clings to his pride even when face-to-face with the ONE who can deliver him.

    But we do the same.  We find ways to ridicule religion, to throw contempt for God-as-crutch and reduce the beauty of Christ's sacrifice to a fairy tale--while He is the only One who can change us from the inside-out.

    Why do ya think so many of us have to be at our wit's end, at rock bottom, no other option available before we turn to Christ?  P-R-I-D-E.

    Even as someone who chose to be a Christ-follower long ago, I still struggle with needing Him.  I wait until I fall to my knees in exasperation rather than starting with humility.

    What's keeping you from full surrender?

    My favorite things are God, family, and the written word but I also brake for chocolate, old barns, and people who live passionately. 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


     

    

    Friday
    Dec232011

    Bitesize 9--Lucifer Meets THE ONE

    (from Chapter two, pp. 13-15)

    Rapha and the other loyal celestials were dispatched to restore order.  At every turn they were ambushed as Lucifer and his followers became adept at this colossal game of hide-and-seek, burrowing deep into planets to continue their destruction like unstoppable termites, devouring in darkness.  Wars raged on distant planets as Lucifer tried to ensure no outpost of safety remained for Adonai’s prophecy of creation’s future redeemer.  Even Rapha, battlescarred and weary of the struggle, had moments of doubt as Lucifer’s destructive lust swept the cosmos and verdant planets were reduced to dust-shrouded tombs. 

    Michael, the leader of heaven’s forces, also adapted as he learned to listen to Adonai’s quiet leading rather than rush headlong in reaction to Lucifer’s wrongs.  To this end he relied heavily on Rapha whose ear was attuned to Adonai’s direction.  Time and again they surprised Lucifer’s troops, having foreknowledge of his plans before they were put into action.  Finally heaven’s forces began to have the upper hand and the sphere of Lucifer’s influence began to constrict.  

    But Lucifer would not accept defeat.  When he realized the noose tightening around his position he lashed out, driving his faithful hordes to madness as he screamed defiance and proclaimed the righteousness of their struggle. 

    How the heavens crashed with frightful flashings and rumblings.  To the inhabitants of Earth, it appeared the end had come, as day and night strange flares lit the sky.  Finally, the tide turned.  Within Lucifer’s own hosts mutiny erupted and as the rebel forces fought among themselves, Michael’s troops surrounded them, cutting off Lucifer’s escape by forging an impenetrable net of heaven’s unified power. 

    Even then, bound, defeated and delivered before Adonai’s throne, Lucifer was defiant.  “Is this how you treat your free citizens?  Do you see, you blind beggars serving this tyrant?”  Once more Lucifer was silenced.  As he stood looking as if his tongue had sealed his lips shut, Adonai spoke.

    “We will now hear the charges.”

    Angel after angel stepped forward to state Lucifer’s offenses, even some who had joined him in his rampage across the heavenlies.  Finally Adonai asked, “Will any stand to defend the accused?”

    All was quiet.  Still Lucifer held his head high to stare at those who had spoken against him.

    Suddenly, every eye was drawn to Adonai’s throne where, in the center of holiness, the bright purity grew blindingly brighter until the brilliance pressed forward as if to engulf all.  Just when Rapha felt his being crushed by overwhelming bliss, the orb of holiness contracted, compressed back to the throne, yet increasing in its intensity.  Immediately the tension vanished and a dim shape became visible.   To Rapha it appeared five darker points were emerging from the center of Adonai’s being.  Gradually the shape became discernable—two arms swinging free, two feet striding, a bright robe covering the torso, and hair that flowed to the shoulders.  But light did not pass through.  Rapha pondered this fact.  This being was clothed in light, he even glowed with Adonai’s radiance, but He was not of the same fiber as the surrounding celestials. 

    This relatively small someone strode until he stood before the throne within arm’s reach of Lucifer. 

    “I will speak for him,” the One said.

    A jolt of joy coursed through Rapha.  He had heard only five words from the man’s mouth, yet Rapha knew him.  How could this be? 

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

    I have had feedback from readers who, at the beginning of the narrative, fear that I am going to equate Lucifer with Christ, as if the two are on the same plane.  Not a chance.  Jesus was, is and will always be One with Father God.  When he was walking the earth as God/man, he was still far above Lucifer.  The fact that he died doesn't indicate Lucifer's triumph.  Jesus became incarnate for that very purpose.

    Even as I grappled with very new ideas of original sin and its repercussions, two facts just grew stronger and brighter--God's love and the need for Jesus blood.  Those two facts form indispensable, core truths of the Christian faith.  While the narrative surrounding the plot points as described in the Bible had to be fabricated to some degree to flesh out the story and allow the reader to live the events through the characters, there were certain biblical truths which formed the "skeleton"--the bones on which everything else hung. 

    The two facts of God's unfathomable love and the essential need of Christ's blood for our redemption would, in that sense, be the backbone of it all. 

    Lucifer's true rage is aimed at this "Son of God," and this is the catalyst of his actions/reactions.  I love how Lucifer tries, like an insecure adolescent, to ridicule but Jesus is above it.  How I want to have that level of security and grace--to just HEAR God's directive, DO what He says, and abide in His grace no matter what.

    "He must increase, I must decrease."

    Child of the One True King, wife to the best man alive, mom to four VERY unique human beings & author of two bestsellers:

    The Fall & 

    One Night With a Rock Star

     

    Thursday
    Dec222011

    Bitesize 8--The Root of Every Evil Thing

    (from Chapter Two, pp. 12 & 13)

    “Enough.”

    Once more Lucifer was mute though his eyes continued to flash with fury.

    “Two choices are before you this day.  Either repent of your rebellion and remain or… go.”

    When Lucifer was once more released he spun, a blur of raging light, to fling cords of power, power that would have destroyed his defenseless brothers but for the sphere encasing him, a buffer from Adonai.  Abruptly Lucifer stopped, stricken senseless by his own poison.

    There would be no repentance.  That day Lucifer and his followers, fully one-third of the celestial population, were banished.

    Heartbreak infiltrated the heavenlies as longstanding friendships were severed. 

    It was not long before Lucifer’s forces felt the poverty of their new existence outside Adonai’s favor.  Like fish gasping out of water, their bodies longed for His presence though they had not realized their need until they were deprived.  A few threw themselves on Adonai’s mercy and accepted their sentence, an age of witnessing the ongoing drama trapped as watchers in the sky.   But the rest believed Lucifer’s lies, that Adonai had goaded them to this place of desperation and rejoiced in their pain.  Their hatred and hopelessness drove them to greater evil.  They raged throughout the cosmos defacing all in their path, joining Lucifer in venting their fury.  Galaxies were thrown out of alignment and whole planets were destroyed or rendered lifeless due to their scorching blasts.

     

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

    The statement in James 3:16 rings so true. "For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice."

    How I wish I could extract every shred of envy and selfish ambition from my being.  If I get to the root of pretty much any strife in my life... any fear, any ongoing feud... at the core would be envy and selfish ambition--usually mine!

    This is why it's so vital to spend time at Christ's feet every day.  It's there that I can shrug off the strife, self-absorption, self-comparison and fear of failure long enough to focus on God's constancy, God's holiness, God's overwhelming power.  The antidote to destructive selfish ambition.

    "Not my will but thine be done."

    Per-spec-tive.

    My favorite things are God, family, and the written word but I also brake for chocolate, old barns, and people who live passionately. 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

    Tuesday
    Dec202011

    Bitesize-7 The First Degree of Separation  

     

                                           CHAPTER TWO

                                                           Rebellion

     

    Rapha woke to celestial war. 

    Many had joined Lucifer’s rebellion.  Heartbreak and devastation infiltrated the fabric of the heavenlies threatening to strip creation from its foundation, attempting to topple the very throne of Adonai.  Finally Lucifer, the instigator and accuser, stood before the assembly proclaiming Adonai’s treachery. 

    Into the midst of this firestorm of severed trust strode Rapha, his eyes and voice aglow with faith in Adonai.  In ages past Lucifer had ruled in the celestial court, his arguments the most compelling, his voice and mannerisms irresistible.  But that day belonged to Rapha.  Many who were prepared to cast their lot with Lucifer hearkened to the authority of Rapha’s testimony, moved to repentance by his absolute trust in Adonai’s goodness, while those who had remained faithful were ignited with renewed passion. 

    Even as Rapha spoke, flowing with eloquence, joyfully describing his rebirth, he could feel Lucifer seethe.  Lucifer had been certain of victory, now Rapha could sense the shift as thousands hearkened to his words, “There is no room in Adonai’s goodness for deception or betrayal,” Rapha stated.  With a surge of bliss, he felt Adonai’s pleasure. 

     It was at that moment Lucifer did the unthinkable.  He attacked Rapha before the very throne of Adonai.  Rapha’s words were cut off by searing pain as he realized a shard of light was protruding from his chest.

    But Michael was prepared.  While Rapha crumpled, eyes wide with disbelief, Michael’s forces, scattered strategically throughout the faithful and treacherous, leapt to action. 

    The brawl that ensued was decisive, not in determining a winner but in revealing loyalties.  When it seemed every hand was raised in violence toward a brother, Adonai spoke one word. 

    “Peace.”

    The heavenly inhabitants froze. 

    If the moment had not been tragic—and painful for Rapha who wrenched the shard from his chest—Rapha would have thought it comical to behold his celestial brothers caught in suspended animation, expressions of anger and surprise etched on their faces, bodies arrested in various violent postures.

    “Samael,” Adonai addressed Lucifer who had one hand on Michael’s throat while the other grasped a jagged bolt of light aimed directly at Adonai’s throne.  “Observe what your pride has done.”

    Lucifer’s body shuddered as his hands were forced to his sides and the bolt of light turned to dust.  Finally, his tongue was loosed and he said through clenched teeth.  “I hate that.  Never call me that.  I am Lucifer, the bright morning star!”

    “Even in this moment, when all is brought to the brink of ruin, you consider only yourself.” 

    “Someone must watch out for my interests, as You once did.”

    “Your lack of faith separates us.”

    “My lack of….  Do you hear this?”  Lucifer spoke to the motionless witnesses around him, “Adonai betrays us.  Then he would lay the blame at my feet!”

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

    Ah, the fine art of denial.  How many times have I spun around in anger in my life, firing accusations and blame everywhere but where it might do some good--at myself.

    But often, the last thing I'm willing to admit is that, somehow, I'm mad at God.  Disappointments, betrayals, sickness, contention--you name it--somehow there is a little voice deep down inside saying, "If God was REALLY everything He's supposed to be, things wouldn't be like this."

    And if I can't admit what's there, what's festering away in the darkness like an ignored cancer, it just gains strength. 

    How are you holding unforgiveness toward God?  For a failed relationship?  Sickness?  Death of a loved one?  _________________ (fill in the blank)

    Let God turn a searchlight on the hidden, dark things.  Bitterness, disappointment, betrayal, grief--none of it is worth separation from God.

    "In Him we live and move and have our being." Acts 17:28 (NIV)

    Time to shake off the graveclothes and come back to life.

    

    My favorite things are God, family, and the written word but I also brake for chocolate, old barns, and people who live passion

    ately. 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

    Holiday Special--free shipping on orders of three or more.  Gift wrapping and personalization on ALL orders until Jan. 1 of 2012!

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