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Posts Tagged ‘light’

The weekend before Christmas I attended a holiday concert.  The band leader introduced one song, sung in another language, saying it was so sad he didn’t want to tell us what it was about.  My spirit breathed in the still moment, lullaby melody haunting the sanctuary.  It felt so right, that amid the songs of joy and hope and triumph there would be a few that take time to sense the sadness. 

 

A little girl looks at the wise men figurines from the nativity set, and tells me part of the Christmas story.  She says that the mean king wanted the kings from the East to tell him if they found the star-heralded infant they sought.  He didn’t want to worship the Boy, like he said; he wanted to assassinate Him.  And my little friend and I keep talking about the story, part we usually leave out of advent calendars and candlelight services: that though God’s plan went forward in the family exiled to Egypt, many little boys were slaughtered by Herod.  As prophesied in Jeremiah, Rachel wept for her children, and would not be comforted. 

 

There is hope.  And hope is terribly needed.  The world is dark.  Kings kill.  Babies die.  Sin persists.  Faith wanes.  The sadness is real.  And hope belongs there.  It doesn’t erase the pain; it sits with it in the dust, and then raises it up. 

 

Jesus weeps outside his friend’s tomb, before He calls him forth. 

 

I spend hours searching for Christmas laments.  I am intentional about seizing the wonder and beauty and joy arising from this Light come into the world.  But I relate to the burdening grief in this fallen place, sympathize with a bereft woman keening beneath the Christmas stars in Bethlehem.  Dear friends suffer also, personal events in their own stories not so far away as the homeland of David.  In Christmas there is a place for them, a place even for their aching.  I want to look at it.  I want to seek the whole truth unshrinking, though on my weary knees – and see the God who belongs there, too. 

 

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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“Have nothing to do with the unfruitful works of darkness.”

I’m a discernment person.  Heresies are a big deal to me.  I tend to notice when teachers or authors or pastors are preaching a different gospel.  But there are other issues, too.  Focusing on tolerance and friendliness with the world – the “seeker-sensitive” movement, for example – is dangerous.  Christians are a light set on a hill, not light camouflaged to look like darkness.  Or another popular… what should I call it?  Not a heresy in the traditional sense, but a dangerous and unchristian worldview or spiritual practice?  Anyway, another one is the borderline gnosticism.  This encompasses mysticism and individualism, focusing on poetic ideas of light versus darkness, denial (or even mistreatment) of the physical, and meditation.  I see connections between seeker-sensitivity and the postmodern mysticism.  Primary in these connections are the exaltation of human effort and experience.  They are ancient perversions of the Christian life, not new, but addressed in the New Testament.

Lately it has become popular to cite “church fathers” in theological debates.  This even if the quote or position contradicts the New Testament.  Though I’m not persuaded of the “sola scriptura” of the Reformation, it did rescue us from centuries of heretical tradition enforced as the authority of the fathers.  (Jesus rebuked the same sin in the Pharisees.)  Many of those historical theologians flirted with or embraced the para-Christian spirituality mentioned above, emphasizing either their personal wisdom or their own mystical experiences as sources of truth superior to the revelation of Scripture.  They practiced this outside of the protective peer-regulation of a Spirit-led Church.  Somehow the doctrine of the indwelling Holy Spirit got exchanged for a belief in inner divinity belonging to an individual.  All of which was much more compatible with the pagan religions encountered as the ancient “Christianity” spread.

And isn’t that something to be concerned about?  Rather than being excited that the enemies of God, the spiritually dead men of planet earth, have portions of truth preserved in their religions, shouldn’t we be devastated at the subtlety of the deceits of the Evil One that has kept men captive to their sin?  (“What fellowship has light with darkness?”)  Instead of finding commonality in spiritual practices of meditation and monasticism and sacrificing to appease the gods – shouldn’t we question those practices?  If the pagans do those things, and if those things are not prescribed by our Lord in the early letters to the churches affirmed by the apostles, why not rather fear a resurgence of paganism within our faith – that the spiritual forces of wickedness have been also distracting us and leading us astray?

In our modern times we tend to disdain the primitive superstitions of pre-Christian peoples.  We think they should have been able to see through the cheap tricks of the medicine men, to rise up against the oppressive shaman and assert reason, the intelligence and ability of individuals.  But a Christian worldview suggests a different interpretation.  It teaches that the devil and demons are real, powerful, able to produce counterfeit signs and wonders to deceive men.  Demon possession is real.  And maybe those pitiable people, observing that reality, live with rituals and talismans approved by their devils – for a time – as a tax on the slaves of the Devil before they are consumed.

For us who have known only the relatively Christian Western world, it is difficult to remember the spiritual battle that is engaged even here.  We are not trained to recognize the spiritual activities of our enemy.  This may be because we have adopted it,  or excused and tolerated it…  False teaching, we believe, has been perpetrated by confused but well-meaning people.  Cultists are mostly nice people whose theology is just a little different from ours.  We wouldn’t want our children converting, but no big deal if our neighbors and coworkers believe in Jesus and good works for their salvation, God and their own divinity.  Many who identify themselves as evangelical Christians see no cause for concern when their church services begin to incorporate incense, or a ladies’ conference suggests repetitive chanting of a spiritual word or phrase as a means of getting closer to God.  Millions of us read and identify with a book that includes a manifestation of Sophia, the Gnostic “goddess” as the incarnation of wisdom.  These ideas and practices are more attractive to the unsaved world, after all (and to many inside the church).  And why shouldn’t they be; they’re familiar whispers, that we are like God, that we come to God on our own terms.

The word profanity is known as a synonym for cussing.  But who knows the word profane?  Who believes that there is a way God wants to be worshiped, a way He has set for people to come to Him – and any other way is so offensive to Him as to bring His righteous wrath?  What is fallen man to tell God why He should accept him?  Who is the liar and deceived to believe he has a hold of truth and wisdom apart from the deliverance and revelation of God?  How dare we think our filthy rags – our own righteousnesses – are acceptable sacrifices to pay for our trespasses against the ways of God?

But it is hard to reject these things, hard to point at those profanities and warn that they are part of the wide path to hell.  I don’t want to believe that my church leader is a false teacher.  I like to believe that my friends are going to heaven.  But how does that honor God?  Is my allegiance to Him or to men?  And how is that compassionate, to ignore the condition of my friends?  Making excuses is easy.  If a man says he believes in Jesus, is it such a big deal if he tolerates sin, if he keeps company with the world?  Also far too simple is reassuring myself that even though a person has not trusted in Jesus, he still seems to be a good influence, telling people to pray and read their Bibles and love their families and be wary of governments and religions out to destroy us.

Yet more and more I believe that those excuses and those subversive people are the biggest threats.  By them people are led from the power and truth of God, or worse – away from the gospel of the grace of God.  People are soothed into ignoring their spiritual neediness.  Those people, those false prophets, are the enemies of God.  And if they are enemies of God, they are enemies of His people.  They are not in your fellowship to encourage you or point you to God.  Though they may feign friendship, it is for diabolical purposes, and they can turn on you at any moment.

So what can we do?  Monasticism and individualism belong to the false religions.  We cannot run away from these dangerous people.  Tolerance and acceptance also correspond to the faith that exalts man over God.  So we cannot be silent or friendly.  Truth and God’s glory invite us to discern the lies and cast them down.  Holiness insists that we take our cues from God, supported by those men and women who exhibit the fruits of being His.  Love demands that we warn people of destruction.  Faith in God teaches us to hope for revival and redemption.

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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Lately I’ve been in a state of mind that can soak up information, and comes up with really good questions – well I think they’re interesting, leading me to more and more questions (and occasionally to comprehension).  One field that’s been appealing this week is physics.  I’m reading a book, Reinventing Gravity, that has me thinking about the basics of physics – and marvelling at how much of our universe we humans don’t understand. 
 
So I would be ok with exhaustive comments answering the following questions, or referrals to books or websites that could help me understand these things.  I took physics in high school, no problem, and have given a great deal of skeptical thought to Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity.  This is because I’m fairly convinced the speed of light is not constant.  So if you mention the speed of light in your answer, I’ll probably enjoy it more.  I understand that I’m missing a few levels of knowledge between high school physics and the edges of theoretical physics I’m trying to reach.  Give me your best shot. 
 
You can also use the comment section to add your own questions.  The compilation of questions is great food for thought and theory. 
 
Some physics questions:
Are forces energy? 
What is light? 
     Does it have a constant velocity? 
     Is its speed constant? 
     If the velocity of light is not constant, what force acts on it? 
          What is the equal and opposite reaction? (Whence is the energy subtracted?)
 
What is electricity? 
What is magnetism?
 
What is heat? 
     Is it motion in and of molecules,
     or that which causes motion in and of molecules,
     or the output of motion in and of molecules?
 
What is gravity? 
How is gravity related to attraction and acceleration (gravitational mass and inertial mass)?     
     What is the significance of the relationship? 
     Does the resistance or escape of an object from gravity take any energy away from the gravity-exerting objects? 
     Does gravity curve space, or is it the effect of curved space? 
 
If gravity is the effect of curved space, what makes space curved? 
     Matter and energy? 
     Is anything else (such as time) curved by these things as well? 
     If spacetime can be curved, what else can be done to it? 
 
Can spacetime be stretched? 
     If spacetime can be stretched, what stretches it? 
     Are opposing forces of gravity like Curling brooms, creating a smooth path for matter and energy? 
 
 
How do permittivity and permeability relate energy, electricity, gravity, and matter? 
     What does density have to do with them? 
     What force causes nature to abhor a vacuum?  
 
 
(To quote The Little Mermaid), What is fire and how does it burn? 
     Must fire produce light? 
     Can light be produced without fire/burning? 
     Must fire produce heat? 
     Are there other ways to convert matter to energy? 
 
Oh my goodness, does time have to come into this? 
     How is time related to the measurement of time? 
          Must there be a direct correlation?
 
To God be all glory,
Lisa of Longbourn

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I want to write about things that mean a lot to me: ideas that keep me going or inspire me.  But some things are too close, too dear, for words. 
 
Today I wanted to write stories, but when I tried to form sentences I realized all I want to do is practice.  Don’t write; do.  And I want to do coy debates and romance and being a wife to an incredibly faith-filled man.  As that is clearly not God’s plan for my day, I had to ask what to do with this surge of inspiration.  I’m emotional today, and I need a vent for all this rapture. 
 
So on my way home from work I looked at the sky (stubbornly trying to rationalize how I could be grateful the sun wasn’t down while still hating Daylight Savings Time).  I want to own this day.  A photo wouldn’t capture it, and a painter would have to be a master to get even one glimpse of this day right.  The sun lit the dark blue clouds in the east, intensifying their color and varnishing them with a glorious haze.  Between the clouds and me were trees, still bare from the cold of winter, every twig illuminated separately.  Where the light didn’t reach, the shadow asserted itself with depth and variance and character.  The little whiter clouds nearer the zenith blew in and out of formation, constantly contrasting with the colors and shapes around them.  Praise God who created shape and color! 
 
And it was all a gift to me.  Songs I have not sung in months came to mind, and I sang of my Savior coming for me.  “Hear the roaring at the rim of the world… Behold He’s coming with the clouds.”  The clouds and glimmering landscape captured my eye and imagination, as though cracking the door open on the edge of the world.  I sang of who my Savior is, what He did on earth, and of His passion.  And then I dreamed again of when He will come back.  “I saw the holy city… and now our God will dwell with them.” 
 
And this is all about waiting, and love, and faithfulness, and longing, and worship, and beauty, and glory.  I want to write how I feel at those times, and what I know, and the million connections being made between the things I know about my God… but I can’t.  For now the topics that mean the most, that are most gifts of God, must stay that.  I pray that someday He will call me to share them, and bless me with the words I don’t have today. 
To God be all glory,
Lisa of Longbourn
 
PS: Michael Card’s Unveiled Hope album is a soundtrack to Revelation, and a soaring symphony to the King on His White Horse coming back for me. 

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“It’s because of the Jewish people that I know
that a holiday can be a holy day,
and still be rollicking good fun.
I’ve been to a Passover Seder,
where there’s so much liturgy, drama, food and family around the table
that children ask, “Why is this night different from other nights?”
It’s a night, like the weekly Sabbath,
when God gives us permission to close the door on the frenzied demands of the outside world long enough to sense His presence.”

Christmas Eve. I’ve lived through 22 Christmas Eves, and hope by midnight tonight to make it 23. In four different states, at least, I’ve attended Christmas Eve services. So the last few years, I haven’t been that interested in going. Tradition has its value, I guess. But if one is participating in tradition for its sake, I’d hope that the tradition was started because it meant something. The problem with my aversion to Christmas Eve services is that I have been unable to defend it. I haven’t known why I don’t want to go, or what I would rather do instead.
Now I think I have an answer. I don’t like Christmas Eve services because they are formal and liturgical, full of presentation and lacking in sincerity. Churches use them as times for evangelism. In my experience I’ve been instructed to leave quietly after extinguishing my candle, in solemn reflection on the incarnation. I don’t know about you, but I cannot reflect on the incarnation without humble jubilation. Winter may be for silence and meditation, but Christmas is for feasting and music and lights.
And I miss fellowship on Christmas. I know that traditionally Christmas is a family time. Your own or even your extended family gathers for gift-giving, music, candles, Christmas trees, conversation, and candy. I guess traditionally Christmas Eve is the time to spend with one’s church family. But I want to be laughing with them, asking them about their holidays, heightening enthusiasm, and dispersing the gifts I’ve prepared for them. Being sent to quietly retrieve my coat and exit towards my car prohibits that sort of community. But I don’t want to defy the instructions, or intrude upon others who appreciate the meditative hush of typical Christmas Eve.
So I like Elisabeth’s insight from Israel, on how the Jews (quite biblically in this instance) know how to have a holy day: it is also a feast day. Both a sabbath of rest and a reunion of merriment, even with the solemnity of meaning, sacrifice, atonement, and repentance. Jesus unites those things in His incarnation: King of Righteousness, Prince of Peace, Lord of the Sabbath, our Rest, and our Joy. That’s what I’m celebrating this Christmas Eve: a God big enough to be seriously happy, and who invites us to feast at His table.
This is totally unrelated, but another thing Elisabeth says in her article is, “Have you ever thought about how quiet light is?” I thought it was beautiful, and had to share that line, too.
To God be all glory,
Lisa of Longbourn

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