The Gospel of Madeleine L’Engle

I realize the subject matter of this post is a little off the beaten track for the Hope Blog. A friend recently described the growing influence of occult and paranormal  themes in children’s literature.  A trip to the children’s section of any bookstore will show just how true this is.  Like many parents, I have witnessed an acceleration of this in recent years.

The Gospel of Madeleine L’Engle is written by Claris Van Kuiken, an author and researcher I have known for over 25 years. While it is off the beaten track for my blog here, the spiritual nature of the subject matter makes it highly relevant.  One of the early children’s authors to blatantly introduce occult concepts and terms to children was the late Madeleine L’Engle.  The article details just how extensive these ideas are within her books, both for children and adults.  For Christian parents, it’s worth knowing.

 

 

Shepherds False and True

A shepherd tended a flock of sheep on the hills  At night, they were herded into a sturdy sheep pen made of field stone. The pen was solid and protected them all from predators. The shepherd made perfunctory checks on the sheep each night and went through the motions of his job each day. No one could fault him  for not carrying out the basic tasks that he went through like clockwork. Every day, the same routines without fail. That was the job he got paid for.

At dawn one morning, an injured sheep showed up at the door of the pen, waking him with pitiful bleating. It was not his. He had no way to know where the sheep had come from. It was limping and blood was coming out of a wound.

The shepherd was annoyed.  He didn’t have time to deal with it. The animal looked like it was dying anyway and probably would wander off shortly into the trees. What was the point? The shepherd left the sheep lying against the stone wall and herded the rest of the flock briskly out of the pen to the water and grass on the hillsides. He realized he was already behind schedule.

Hours later when he got back to the pen with the sheep for the night, the injured sheep was still there, barely. The animal weakly lifted its head.  Its eyes implored the shepherd to help.

In disgust, the shepherd turned away.  He’d have to get rid of that mess soon or the carcass would draw wolves and vultures, not to mention flies.

Some of the other sheep looked curiously at the sick one as they filed into their safe, clean pen for the night. A couple stopped with sheeply concern, but the shepherd impatiently flicked them with his rod to get moving.

The shepherd was tired and decided to leave the bloody sheep to die outside the wall of the pen. He would deal with it in the morning. He completely forgot about the animal and dozed off immediately.

In the morning, the injured sheep was gone. Surprised, the shepherd looked around. He hadn’t thought the sheep could move enough to get away.  There was a trail of blood behind that led to a grove of trees down the road. What relief. He hadn’t had to deal with the mess. The sun was rising in the eastern sky. It looked like a beautiful day ahead.

He was leaning against a leafy tree while his flock was grazing later that day when he spotted a dark cloud in the sky some distance away. It moved a bit closer, and he could see they were vultures. One by one they dropped down into a grove of trees. Probably the dead sheep, he thought. Good riddance. He looked with complacent eyes on the sheep from his fold, grazing on the hills. Time for a little nap, he thought, as the gentle breeze caressed his face.


Over the years of working in Christian radio, the various types of churches in America became evident. For many years, the seeker, church-growth, Peter Drucker-influenced model changed the landscape. Bill Hybels and Rick Warren, years ago, developed associations that smaller churches could join to help them imitate the supposedly successful Willow Creek and Saddleback models. Seminars by satellite are still beamed all over the country, as bright-eyed young pastors dream about church greatness and big crowds. That’s one type of American church.

I also addressed the dying mainline churches, churches that long ago abandoned the faith once delivered to the saints and replaced it with a form of baptized anthropology. They exchanged the truth for a lie. The stench of embalming fluid fills these places.  That’s another kind of church.

But there is yet another type of church that I didn’t address much on the program. I should have. These churches have highly biblical doctrinal statements, maintain their commitment to orthodoxy and root out even the slightest growth of false teaching. They are known for not compromising. They outwardly have  a look of health. Their parking lots are full on Sunday with committed parishioners. But there is a problem, and that problem flows from shepherds on down.

If I had to characterize the issue with this kind of problem church, I could do so easily.  No love. The shepherds of these churches can be seen above in the small illustration. They are utterly committed to their churches in the sense that no church service, program, no church sponsored event will be neglected or done in a half-baked fashion. The sheep are herded in, and herded out, like clockwork. The floors are polished. These pastors and churches are not given to change, ridiculous fads or innovation. They are always on time.

But there is a problem. Shepherds in these churches can be so committed to the sustaining of a schedule, to programs, to upcoming this and upcoming that, they can miss the trail of blood in their foyers where “sheep”, deeply wounded and desperately asking for help, have come in and gone out, without it.

Complacent eyes take on a type of blindness. It’s not that they can’t see anything. It’s that they cannot see those who matter most.  These “shepherds” cannot see the hemorrhaging sheep in front of them, asking for help, as their responsibility before God who is the owner of the flock.

They see programs, conferences, schedules, administrative things, opportunities, but the desperation in the face of a hurting person who does not fit the plan? No. That disrupts order. That requires something beyond what they are willing to give.  They have places to go and things to do.

Contrast this with the picture of the caring shepherd that our LORD gives in the Gospel of Luke, chapter 15.

“If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders. When he arrives, he will call together his friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’ ”

I have heard from so many through the years whose experiences are not primarily in circus churches with three rings and a trapeze in their ceilings, or mainline spiritual mortuaries. They are limping away, terribly wounded, from the third type of church—the ones that value doctrinal correctness and will not tolerate compromise, but they lack the one needful thing – the thing that is supposed to set them apart in the eyes of the world, the thing that heals and gives life to those who need extra care, because they have suffered terrible injuries. What’s missing is real love.

Shepherds in these places not only won’t leave the fold and  to locate a wandering “sheep”, they can’t be bothered with the bleeding “sheep”  right in front of them. The bleeding and wounded bring nothing but work. Their care is tedious. These sheep don’t nicely fit into a program, an activity, an orderly slot. So the shepherd looks away, progressively blind and deaf to the terrible need in front of him. Not only does he not care for them, he will not so much as call on an assistant to do so.

These shepherds may not even notice the dark cloud of vultures off in the distance, descending on the spiritual carcasses of  the sheep that slowly walked away.  They are busy with an itinerary their secretaries just ran off on the printer. Another opportunity awaits. There is no time for the wounded. No time.

My heart goes out to every single one who has come to what they thought was help, only to be ignored, neglected and passed by. Even a cursory reading of the Scriptures show that this model of “shepherd” is false in every respect.

Jesus Christ is the GOOD Shepherd. Again and again, we see the compassion and care of our Savior who heard the call of the blind, the beggar, the oppressed, the sick and the cripple. He touched the “untouchables” and healed them. The touch of love.

“Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” cried the man by the side of the road. Unwashed, alone and in darkness, Jesus was his only hope. People told him to shut up, but he only cried louder, hoping against all hope that Jesus would hear.

What did the Good Shepherd do when he heard this man? Listen to the urging of his handlers to move on, as he had a scheduled appointment for teaching in Galilee? Did He head to an august council of great theologians and scholars to discuss fine points of the Law?

Here is what happened.

“When Jesus heard him, he stopped and ordered that the man be brought to him. As the man came near, Jesus asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?” He said, “Lord, let me recover my sight.” And Jesus said, “All right, receive your sight! Your faith has healed you.” Instantly the man could see, and he followed Jesus, praising God. And all who saw it praised God, too.” (Gospel of Luke, chapter 18)

The Lord heard the cry first, and then he responded. That cry was heard and acted upon. This is the example of a true shepherd.

I am sorry if any reading this have been injured by false shepherds. False shepherds are far more than those teaching erroneous doctrine or self-help, feel good messages. Any shepherd who does not have compassion that acts in the face of pain and injury is false.

All we can do, and we all need reminding of this in these brutal times of coldness and callous disregard in churches, is look to the Good Shepherd above by faith—the One who never fails, who hears our cries in mercy, and who tends to our wounds in love.

The Good Shepherd shows his love to us by sending other concerned “sheep” in our direction, people, those who encourage and who walk with us on the rough terrain on the winding path to the Celestial City.  We can urge each other on and help untangle things when some get caught in the brambles and minister to those who are sick.

May the Good Shepherd tend to your heart today if you are hurting. The LORD Jesus Christ is His name. Call on Him, the One who always hears.


The Light that Was Dark – A Prayer Request

My old friend and colleague, Warren Smith, had a heart attack yesterday. I’ve known him for over 25 years. I came across his first book, The Light that Was Dark (first printing in the early1990’s) where he described his coming out of the Rajneesh cult and heavy duty occult/New Age teachings into the light of Jesus Christ. His books went from there. Every so many months, I would hear his articulate voice on the phone. “Ingrid, I’ve been writing this new book…”, and we would strategize for the next radio interview.

Warren’s eloquent first hand description of the “light” he encountered in the New Age movement and his discovery that it was a counterfeit light sums up spiritual deception better than any I have heard. He hasn’t wavered in his message of warning. There are counterfeits, because the real thing exists spiritually. Please remember Warren in prayer.

For those interested in his books, here is Lighthouse Trails’ page. for more information. (The books are available from Amazon and Barnes and Noble and other outlets.)  I wish I could share the many interviews we did on Crosstalk Radio through the years. So many times, I felt the Lord’s direction and help in those programs which were a wake-up call to many. If you would like to send well wishes to Warren Smith, here is the contact information.

Early Mother’s Day Joy

Son Will (20) gave me an early Mother’s Day gift and invited me  along with him to Gesu Church downtown where he had a practice scheduled. Knowing my love of the old hymns and gospel songs, he played several for me. I can’t add much, because these old hymn tunes say it all to those who love them. One of my all time favorites is, “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus” which he played for me. I hope is blesses you, and if you know it, sing along.  Here are the words.

(Note: Another couple of hymns I will post in the comment section.)

O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s a light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free!

Refrain

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

Through death into life everlasting
He passed, and we follow Him there;
Over us sin no more hath dominion—
For more than conquerors we are!

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

His Word shall not fail you—He promised;
Believe Him, and all will be well:
Then go to a world that is dying,
His perfect salvation to tell!

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

My Newest Love

Tom and I have six children. The youngest is seven, but the next youngest is 20. Next oldest is 21! The oldest turns 31 in August, one just turned 30 and another will turn 29 in May.  We currently have four grandchildren. Three live in Oklahoma and one lives not far from us. This is our newest grandson, Michael Ryan. He is just two weeks old. We just learned a fifth grandchild is on the way. Babies are beautiful, and grandbabies are extra beautiful!

 

 

He’s Alive!

Mighty Victim from the sky,
Hell’s fierce powers beneath Thee lie;
Thou hast conquered in the fight,
Thou hast brought us life and light;
Now no more can death appall,
Now no more the grave enthrall;
Thou hast opened Paradise,
And in Thee Thy saints shall rise.

Paschal triumph, Easter joy,
Only sin can this destroy;
From sin’s death do Thou set free
Souls reborn, O Lord, in Thee.
Hymns of glory and of praise,
Father, to Thee we raise;
Risen Lord, all praise to Thee,
Ever with the Spirit be.

This is the Night

It is truly right
that with full hearts and minds and voices
we should praise the unseen God, the all-powerful Father,
and his only Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

For Christ has ransomed us with his blood,
and paid for us the price of Adam’s sin to our eternal Father!

This is our Passover feast,
when Christ, the true Lamb, is slain,
whose blood consecrates the homes of all believers.

This is the night
when first you saved our fathers:
you freed the people of Israel from their slavery
and led them dry-shod through the sea.

This is the night
when the pillar of fire destroyed the darkness of sin!

This is the night
when Christians everywhere,
washed clean of sin and freed from all defilement,
are restored to grace and grow together in holiness.

This is the night
when Jesus Christ broke the chains of death
and rose triumphant from the grave.

What good would life have been to us,
had Christ not come as our Redeemer?
Father, how wonderful your care for us!
How boundless your merciful love!
To ransom a slave you gave away your Son.

O happy fault,
O necessary sin of Adam,
which gained for us so great a Redeemer!

Most blessed of all nights,
chosen by God to see Christ rising from the dead!

Of this night scripture says:
“The night will be as clear as day:
it will become my light, my joy.”

The power of this holy night dispels all evil,
washes guilt away, restores lost innocence,
brings mourners joy;
it casts out hatred, brings us peace,
and humbles earthly pride.

Therefore, heavenly Father,
in the joy of this night,
receive our evening sacrifice of praise,
your Church’s solemn offering.

Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
The strife is o’er, the battle done;
Now is the Victor’s triumph won;
Now be the song of praise begun.
Alleluia!

chains

A Special Find – A Special Name

Me with my grandpa, Oscar C. Eliason

I had a special blessing today in finding a version of my grandpa’s song, A Name I Highly Treasure, on YouTube. There are not many good quality recordings of it on there, I check once in a while for something new. I found this little gem uploaded just two months ago from a recording at a Nazarene church in 1964. The quality of the recording and the voices were a delight! It’s apparently from an LP record.

The beautiful words are true for all Christians. The world uses the name of our Savior as a curse word, walks on it, spits on it. To those of us who love Him, that name is the name above all names. A name we highly treasure.

The singers recorded verses one and three, but I have included the second verse. The powerful emphasis on that chorus really blessed my heart.

(1) I’ve learned to know a name I highly treasure.
O how it thrills my spirit thro’ and thro’!
O precious name, beyond degree or measure,
My heart is stirred whene’er I think of You!
My heart is stirred whene’er I think of Jesus,
That blessed name which sets the captive free —
The only name thro’ which I find salvation.
No name on earth has meant so much to me.

(2) That name brings gladness to a soul in sorrow.
It makes life’s shadows and its clouds depart —
Brings strength in weakness for today, tomorrow,
That name brings healing to an aching heart.
My heart is stirred whene’er I think of Jesus,
That blessed name which sets the captive free —
The only name thro’ which I find salvation.
No name on earth has meant so much to me.

(3) That name still lives and will live on forever,
While kings and kingdoms will forgotten be.
Thro’ mist or rain, ’twill be beclouded never.
That name shall shine and shine eternally.
My heart is stirred whene’er I think of Jesus,
That blessed name which sets the captive free —
The only name thro’ which I find salvation.
No name on earth has meant so much to me.

Technology Is Not Always Progress

The technology that is supposedly making our lives easier is not.  In many ways, it has made life very difficult, especially for those who are older than 45 and who are burned out by the complexity of life today.

Instead of a person answering  at a company, you get the nightmare of voice mail, now using voice (non) recognition, so that you find yourself screaming at a computer that doesn’t recognize what you’re saying. That’s usually followed by hitting random numbers in desperation, trying to either find a real person or the right department.  It’s not easier. It’s abuse of customers. And it’s just about saving money.

You can’t repair newer cars in your garage and even changing the oil yourself is not possible on some of the newest.  A technocrat described driverless cars being the norm in the next 15 years where you’re, in essence, being driven by computer code that may or may not have bugs in it. The recent crash of one was an ominous look at things to come. Imagine trying to integrate these “driverless” cars with texting and obnoxious manual drivers. The mind reels.

For every website where you have an account  you have to remember “Usernames” and “Passwords.”  The Post It notes where they’re written are either curling up with age on your desk  or already in the trash. It is not funny to be locked out of a doctor’s site you need to get on, because your tired mind can’t remember what combinations you used to get in. And there’s always more characters needed to protect from criminals trying to steal your info.

Every product you buy requires maintenance or some nonsense you have to pencil in on your schedule.   They’ll tell you that monthly, you need to do this or use this expensive conditioning product we happen to sell for $20 a bottle. My Keurig coffee maker is a prime example. It’s 18 months old, and the vinegar descaling – the descaling on the cheap – didn’t work and now it doesn’t work at all. Utter fail.  We had a home once where the previous owners had installed a spa tub with jets on it in the main bathroom. Fantastic, right? The manual said we had to buy this product from them and “once a month” do this and that and this and that to make sure “residue” didn’t build up from soap scum.  It did anyway. As IF a busy mom has time for that nonsense. With two young children to bathe at the time, I remember saying,   “Just give me a plain old bath rub I can scrub with Comet cleanser. Clean and white, for $1.50 a can. ”

Tom and I have both said we would gladly move to a 1960’s era house in terms of technology. Everything manual or basic. TV’s that didn’t require six remotes and hocus pocus so you can get the local TV channels.  TV’s like ours that I just read can be turned into listening devices because of the way they are made.   Great.  Give me a phone on the wall. Not a “smart”  phone where people text a sentence—that’s what comprises relationship now. Hey, ball’s in your court, honey. Your friend just wrote, “How ya doing?”  Nobody has time for an actual phone call much less a visit.

Yes, I hate modern life and what it’s done to the level of complexity. Just the digital photo nightmare is bad enough. I can’t delete this blog, because 10 years of our family’s life is on here. Videos I don’t know how to download are on here. If I delete this, they’ll be lost, and it’s our daughter’s childhood she will someday value. All the photo files on the computer (yes, they’re safely on a “cloud” somewhere, i.e. another computer at a tech giant) but how will my kids ever access that? We’ve forgotten the username and password. Again. (Oh, and the computer I’m writing on is telling me I have to pay more money to update my virus protection by a certain date or be at the mercy of the dark lords of hackery. It’s extortion, but who can afford to not pay it?)

It’s only going to get worse. Technocracy ultimately is going to destroy us. Mental health, social interaction, all of it has worsened in our high tech world. Yes, good has been done in certain areas. Overall, most of us over a certain age would return gladly to a simpler time when neighbors would check on each other, when people had real friends who showed up with a pot of soup when you were sick instead of sending a cheery text. “Get well soon!” A smiley face emoji is a bonus.

Tom and I were talking today about all the things we would like to simplify in our lives if we could. But the truth is, so much is out of our hands, it’s not even very possible to do anymore, particularly when you have grandchildren living far away (Facetime lets us see them), and when your isolation will only increase by shutting off your computer. Everybody else is in cyberspace. Be there or live alone even before you are elderly and unable to travel.

It’s sad that this is the way life is now. I yearn for the old simplicity, even of the 1980’s when my meanderings on this blog wouldn’t have been possible.  I’m not even kidding. But this is how we communicate now. Some irony there as I write for the readers as far away as Australia.  It’s not going to slow down any time soon. What would you like to go back to if you could? Even with inconveniences? I’ll bet a lot of people feel as I do. I read this article today on a related issue. People are supposedly more connected than ever,  but even the young are feeling the social isolation. There is no app for real friendship and human contact. Robots and artificial intelligence are all taking this to an even more psychotic level. It’s a problem of our times.