Category Archives: Bible Doctrine

How An Eagle Flies

After my recent reposts of two pieces I wrote back in 2006, I went looking for a video showing exactly how an eagle flies, hoping it would demonstrate some of the principles I mentioned, thinking maybe I’d find something about the shape of the wing, the aerodynamics of the body, etc.  Well, I didn’t find that, exactly, but I did find this cool, two-minute video,  done in a wind tunnel, so you can really see, close up the astonishing way the eagle, when faced with a wind, automatically gets in the position to soar.  In fact, the wind itself  seems to push him into the horizontal position and opens his wings with no effort on the eagle’s part at all — no striving, no worrying about the right moment, it just happens.

And once his wings are extended, as the presenter says, “he’s using no force, no effort at all. He hasn’t even once had to flap his wings to keep in this position” and even becomes “totally weightless,” just by the pressure of the wind and the way that God has designed him. Very cool. Enjoy!

 

Repost: Reflections on Soaring

When the eagle soars, he doesn’t have to work. The shape of his wings and his momentum are what provide the lift along with the rising air currents. All he has to do is extend his wings and float, so of course he’s not going to get tired. He’s just lying there…Resting. Waiting. Letting other forces carry him along.

We like to flap our wings. It feels good and strong to flap flap flap and suddenly, wow! you gain a bit of speed and lift and you’re flying. Only to fall back to earth panting, dazed and exhausted. But oh, that bit when you were in the air – stimulating in the extreme. Flapping comes naturally to us.

By contrast the eagle most often begins his flight by jumping off a cliff. The very last thing we want to do! Jumping off cliffs does not come at all naturally.

The analogy continues as you consider that the shape of the eagle’s wings is the way God made him to be, tools he’s been given that he had no say over and did not make. For us, that would be all the things God has given us at salvation in the spiritual realm, but most importantly the indwelling of the Spirit and His Word. The eagle’s momentum comes from flying – from jumping off the cliff and gliding away. After he has glided a bit, he flaps his wings to gain more altitude so he can float some more. For us, flying would be learning the doctrine (flapping – because it does take effort to learn), believing it, then applying it to the circumstances of our lives. Which leads to rest. So… flapping is learning and applying the word to our lives, while floating is the result of that application.

An hour a day reading/studying the Word, 23 hours resting in what you’ve learned. No wonder the soaring eagle doesn’t get tired.

Originally posted Thursday, April 20, 2006 on www.karenhancock.blogspot.com

Repost: Soaring Eagle

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National Wildlife Federation Christmas card: Sacred Heights by Daniel Smith

 

I was thinking about soaring eagles and prairie chickens the other day and recalled this card we received last Christmas. I dug it out of my pile of papers and was struck by how relevant it suddenly seemed to me. The fact that the eagle is ALONE is a big one. As is the fact that when he is soaring, he’s not really doing anything, just resting on the wind currents. His perspective is high and far. And even though there are storm clouds all around, there is light bursting through them. Beautiful picture of our life with God.

He soars above it all, and below him, far, far out of sight are the prairie chickens — flocking and squawking and chattering. Fluttering, clucking, scratching in the dirt, huddling together, going after bugs and seeds. They find safety in numbers (you only have to fly faster than one other prairie chicken to escape the predator!). Where one goes they all go, often without thought. It’s a horizontal existence and a horizontal perspective.

But the eagle lives in the heights. He lives with the higher, bigger, broader perspective. And he is at peace. Ironically, the title of the card is “Peace on earth” and after reading that, it hit me that the only way one can have true peace while on earth is to be a soaring eagle.

Is 40:31 Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired. They will walk and not become weary.

Originally posted on Tuesday, April 11, 2006 www.karenhancock.blogspot.com

 

I am the Very Model of a Biblical Philologist

Found this funny video on my agent’s blog, and have now watched it many times, often all in a row. If you are inclined toward a lot of serious study of the Word of God, and/or you just like the sound of big, melodious words,  you might find it funny, too.  (Though I’m almost as fascinated by how fast the guy can say/sing all this, as by what he’s saying/singing.)  I’m dedicating it to my Pastor, John Farley, of Lighthouse Bible Church.  🙂  (A philologist, if you don’t know, is a type of linguist. The word literally means “love of words.” Today it’s used for those who study written texts, usually ancient ones.)  Enjoy!

And Now the Regularly Scheduled Blog Returns

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Maybe.

As you may have noticed, I have not been posting much in the way of words. Perhaps because I have not been writing much in the way of words — at least words that are in any way coherent.  It’s not just with the blog, but also Sky and answering emails and even my regular journal is getting ignored… not entirely, but almost and waaay more than in the past.

I have no explanation for why this is happening, though I have tried to come up with one repeatedly. If only I could figure out what is going on, then maybe I could fix it.

Well, my most recurring conclusion in this matter, is that I can’t figure it out. And even if I could, I wouldn’t be able to fix it. God is the one who has it all figured out and so far He hasn’t included me in His figuring. He is also the One who is going to “fix” it, if indeed, it requires fixing.

In fact, the messages I’ve been most consistently receiving from all sorts of sources is… back off, relax, WAIT and Trust Me to come through in MY time, not yours.

In addition to the “wait for MY timing” messages, I’ve also been having occasional epiphanies about other things. Such as, “My job of taking care of our home (cleaning, meals, shopping, dishes, laundry, the dog) is every bit as much a part of my calling as writing is. So why should I get all upset when attending to those things requires some of my time, time I could (presumably) devote to writing if I didn’t have to do the daily chores?

Because I DO have to do them. God has assigned me that task as well as the one of writing Sky. Neither is more important than the other. He will enable me to do both of them in some measure according to His timetable, not mine. So instead of getting all agitated because I have to sweep the floor again and thinking it’s taking time away from writing, I’m thinking, “No, this is also part of God’s plan for my day and I simply have to trust Him to see that I get everything done that is on His agenda and forget my own.

 

 

 

 

 

When Progress is Invisible

my painting of a dove on her nest in our grapefruit tree

my painting of a nesting dove

I painted this mourning dove one year as she sat on her nest in the grapefruit tree in our back yard.  She watched me as I took the pictures that I would use for the painting, but she didn’t stir, didn’t leave the nest. She sat on those eggs for weeks.

And all that time she was mostly doing “nothing.” More than that, the things she was sitting on, her eggs, also seemed to be doing nothing. All that time she spent sitting there when she could have been flying around or walking about looking for seeds or taking a shower in the sprinklers with her dove friends… instead she was sitting up there on her eggs which did not seem to be doing a darn thing. For a very long time, no change whatsoever registered in those eggs, at least as far as the dove could see. And yet… amazing, profound, complex, rich changes were occurring behind the façade of the thin white shell.

She might have been tempted to give it up. I mean… 15 to 18 days of sitting there doing nothing at all? With only brief time outs to feed and get water? I doubt I could do it for even 2 hours!

And yet, lately God has been using the dove analogy with me as regards my working on Sky.  There’s been a lot of time where I can’t see any changes occurring… I was getting no ideas, I’d go in to write and couldn’t seem to think of a thing, couldn’t keep my mind on the work, couldn’t get anywhere. Stuck.

But a couple of months ago, He sent me the dove analogy courtesy of Elisabeth Elliot’s daily devotion site. Not only as the analogy regards the book, but even more so as regards my spiritual life. I love the idea that growth is occurring, unseen, unnoticed, behind the scenes, where I can’t feel it, can’t measure it, can’t realize it. Even as in another unseen place, He is orchestrating the pulling together of different elements of character and plot and setting to produce the next scene that I will eventually write.

I could freak out and get impatient and condemned and anxious or I can be still and trust that He’s at work even when it seems He’s not.  I know this, because He’s told me that it’s so:

“For it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to execute for His good pleasure.” ~Philippians 2:13

“Faithful is He who calls you, and HE will bring it to pass.” ~I Thessalonians 5:24

I just have to believe it.

Growing an Amaryllis Bulb: Day 14 – 25

At 20 days, the buds began to open:

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By Day 21 it was really starting to look like an amaryllis (notice there is now a third stalk and bud!) :

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And by Day 25, it was fully flowering.

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But the thing is, this all happened in a period of 25 days, whereas the bulb had been sitting around in a box on some store shelf for who knows how long. Doing nothing whatsoever. Even so, all the energy, all the food, all the instructions for the plant itself were there inside that bulb, utterly invisible from the outside.

And that’s the illustration the Lord has been using with me for the past three months in a veritable barrage of forms. The story I’m writing is “there”. The work that’s being done on it, is being done out of my sight and my awareness, but it is being done. I have only to believe that… believe that He is at work… (and present myself at the desk), and in time the work will flower as surely as the amaryllis did.

Handling Your Problems

Years ago, a friend gave me this tile that she got from the local  San Xavier mission gift shop. It sits against the pot of my ponytail plant just beyond the kitchen sink. I read it almost every morning and smile …Handling problems

 

In case it’s too small on your device to read, it says, “Good Morning! This is God. I will be handling all your problems today. I will not need your help. So, relax and have a nice day!” ~ San Xavier, Tucson, AZ

 

 

 

Surprise! I’m Posting Again!

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Yes, indeed, I am finally getting back to posting something on this blog. That’s because I have finally gotten into a rhythm of working on Sky, 6 hours a day, 6 days a week.

For the last 8 weeks I’ve been working up to it. The first week I only stipulated I must get into the office and work. I averaged 1.8 hours per day that week, and only worked 5 days for a total of 11 hours.  The next week, I got in 6 days and averaged 3.2 hrs/week for a total of 19 hours. Then 21 hours, 23 hours, 25 and finally 35.5 hours!! Yay! I’m hoping this week I’ll do 36, but there are potential complicating factors coming up for the weekend.

Still, just the intent to get in here for 6 hours has helped immensely —  though really I think it’s the Lord’s doing, since I did ask Him for help and He is delivering.

One other contributing aspect was my realization that while I’d been coming into the office trusting the Lord to guide me, I had also decided that I needed to figure out my make-believe world in detail and the entire plot before I could really start writing. As I’ve written before, that was turning out to be an exercise in frustration — every time I tried my brain just flipped out with confusion and the more I tried to nail things down, the more confused I got.

Then, as I wrote in my follow up Quote Post on Koontz’s book, A Big Little LIfe, I was struck by his claim that he never uses an outline or character sketches, etc., but just writes the story as it comes. It started me wondering… if God is guiding me, and if it truly doesn’t depend on me figuring it all out, then maybe I should try really trusting Him to guide me as I went and just go forward with it. Coming up with a plot, a plan and a world seems to be me getting everything in place and then working… not so much about me trusting Him.

About the same time I came across some old notes from Bible class where Pastor John was describing his own realization that in preparing a sermon it’s not up to him to

“…come up with a great creative solution,” but rather to go to the Lord. “I can’t tell you how long I thought it was up to me, ultimately. Me figuring it out, putting all my energy into it and fail, fail, fail… The fact is, God is the one who’s behind this. This is something where you can relax and understand that Ephesians 2:10 says He’s  already ordained the things for you to walk in — all you gotta do is show up with a heart that’s wanting to serve, with the doctrine that’s already in your soul and WALK!  God’s doing the heavy lifting here. Just say yes! One foot in front of the other, show up, go in the right direction, have a desire and God will take care of the rest.”

And then, since I am a very slow learner, He hit me with something from one of Elisabeth Elliot’s books, where she said tht God most often guides us while we are doing our regular daily work — Samuel was serving in the Temple, David and Moses were with the sheep, etc.

Somehow all that translated in my mind not just as “being  in the office thinking about the novel” but as… “Why don’t you just start trying to write the scenes and let Me guide you while you do?” “Walking” through the story, so to speak.

So that’s what I’ve been doing. I finished chapter 8 last week and am working on chapter 9 this week. My goal is to have it finished by Saturday, though I have to admit I feel a little silly setting any kind of goal these days…

A Novel Situation

Some time back I was asked to read a new Christian fantasy novel for the purpose of possibly endorsing it.

I have a general policy of not doing this, because it always ends up taking a lot of time away from my WIP, mostly because of the angst and mental distraction these efforts stir up in me. I’m very picky about my reading, especially when it comes to Christian works, and unfortunately I often find myself at odds with the doctrines presented.

I tell myself that many people would just set that aside and if they liked the story in general would go ahead and endorse it. I tell myself I should do that as well. It’s not my job to run around setting people straight in regards to their supposed doctrinal deficiencies.  And many times there are things in the story that I like. Can’t I just overlook the parts I don’t?

Yes, if I were simply reading the piece for pleasure. But to put my name on it in an endorsement? Therein lies the rub.

My own purpose in writing in the fantasy genre is to illuminate spiritual truth, particularly as regards the Angelic Conflict, one of the least studied, least understood, and, I think, least believed of Christian doctrines. Of course, the conflict itself and the way it’s carried out – primarily by deception – guarantees its true nature will not be well-known, or even believed. Of all doctrines it has been most distorted and/or buried. And that comes as no surprise since the kingdom of darkness works hard to do just that.

One might argue that in a fantasy novel, where good and evil are often set against one another in a rough parallel to the angelic conflict, what matters most is the characters and their actions, the plot and the world, not the specifics of explanation for the battle or the parameters for the set-up of the fantasy novel’s world…

Except… that’s kind of the whole point of writing a fantasy, in my view.

The world we live in and its parameters are based upon the angelic conflict. Understanding this conflict changes one’s perception of God, of man, of the work of Christ on the Cross, who He is, what His purpose is, who we are as part of His Church, and what is going on around us every day.

We are constantly bombarded with the lies of the kingdom of darkness, because as even human advertisers and propagandizers  will tell you, that is the way to change people’s thinking; or to keep their thinking from changing, depending on your objective.

Worse, even as believers in Christ each of us still has a sin nature, that part of us that is drawn to those lies, always ready to latch onto them. Indeed, for most of us, God is hard at work stripping away the lies so He can replace them with truth.

The lies have power and I believe we who have learned to see them, are not to simply ignore them, skipping over them as if they don’t matter… I believe God holds us accountable for our actions in regards to them.

So, in regards to the novel in question, I hit a spot that was, in my understanding, completely wrong.  I reacted. I wrote at length in the notebook I keep when reading books. I paced about the house, asking God what I was to do.

Was I being arrogant? Making a big deal out of nothing? Should I just set this aside and move on? I’d like to help the author and the publisher and the field of Christian fantasy in general. Maybe the parts I read didn’t mean what I thought they meant. Maybe the author didn’t mean any more by them than just to provide an explanation for the storyline. Most people aren’t even going to think twice about it or even take note I’m sure. Surely I was just being too rigid and inflexible.

But this is an outright insult to my Lord and Savior! Even if it was done unknowingly. How can I put my name on it as recommending it, when it does that? How can I put my name on it before the angels who are watching?

Well, that was Saturday.

Sunday morning I awoke double-minded as ever. Surely it was enough to have seen the false concepts, but I needn’t be militant about it, right?

As I drove to church I asked the Lord for answers. What was I to do about endorsing this novel? “You know how weak and easily confused I get,” I told Him. “I don’t want to make a stand when no stand is required. Please make it clear to me.”

So then maybe an hour or so later, about halfway through the message, which was on discernment – how God goes about developing in us the ability to see with spiritual eyes instead of natural eyes – Pastor John said, “So I’m faced with a novel situation. Will I trust this (new) person’s standards or my own?”

A novel situation? Pastor John rarely uses this word, and Sunday it leapt out at me. Yes I knew he meant “new” situation, but the personal double entendre was clearly from the Holy Spirit.

Not long after that, Pastor said, “There’s more going on here than meets the eye. Angels are checking out how you treat the Word.” He’d not mentioned angels in some time. Yet I’d thought of them the night before.  “They’re with you here, in class,” he said, “and outside of class, rubbernecking to see how (what you learn here) is working in your life…”

Then he quoted I Th 5:20, (Wuest translation): “Stop counting as nothing the divine revelations from the pulpit.”

And elaborated: “This is talking about when you know the Holy Spirit is pointing out truth from the Word, but you ignore it. With discernment it’s great to see the truth in a situation, but then it calls upon us to make decision about how to apply it.”

Could the message have been any more pointed to my situation? Yes. It could:

“We are to cultivate the ability and practice of examining everything carefully…to determine what’s true and false.” Examing everything. Carefully.”

Then he had us go to 2 John, pointing out as we turned there, that the various letters of the New Testament are addressed  differently, some to the church in general, some to specific congregations, some to individuals like Titus and Timothy.

This one was addressed to “the chosen lady.”  The chosen lady???

And in it, the Apostle tells her, “Don’t let false teachers into your house.” (vs 10)

“These are people,” said Pastor John, “who go out and try to teach what they think is right but don’t check with the Word. ‘Do not receive him into your house and do not give him a joyful welcome. For the one who welcomes him, participates in his evil deeds.’”

“When you’ve discerned something to be bad in your life,” said Pastor, “you’re to actively hold back from it.”

So. I had my answer. Not the one I wanted, but clearly my answer, nonetheless.

He could have talked about loving the brethren, putting the needs of others before your own, treating everyone in grace, not being legalistic and self-righteous… But he did not. And I do not believe that was “coincidence.”