Thanksgiving Day Prayer
by Walter Rauschenbusch (1861–1918)
The quest for answers—and ultimate survival—hinges on finding the cosmic link between the Skin Map, the Shadow Lamp, and the Spirit Well.
The search for the map of blue symbols began in a rainy alley in London but has since expanded through space and time and includes more seekers.
Kit, Mina, Gianni, Cass, Haven, and Giles have gathered in Mina’s 16th-century coffee house and are united in their determination to find a path back to the Spirit Well. Yet, with their shadow lamps destroyed and key pieces of the map still missing, the journey will be far more difficult than they imagine. And when one of their own disappears with Sir Henry’s cryptic Green Book, they no longer know who to trust.
At the same time, the Zetetic Society has uncovered a terrifying secret which, if proven, will rock the very foundations of Creation. The quest for answers is no longer limited to recovering an unknown treasure. The fate of the universe depends on unraveling the riddle of the Skin Map.
The Shadow Lamp is the fourth of five novels in a fabulous Sci-Fi/Fantasy series and is not a stand alone book. Jump down to read more about the Bright Empire Series that starts with the book The Skin Map.
The series just keeps getting better and better.
From Stephen Lawhead’s website…
It was over thirty years ago that a friend who worked at Fermi Lab – the massive proton-antiproton collider outside Chicago – took me on a tour of the facility. The lab itself was fairly new, and the physicists there had just identified a range of new subatomic particles: quarks. As I look back, I think that the experience of getting up close and personal with that absolutely massive particle collider and coming under the spell of my friend’s enthusiasm for high energy physics launched my own interest in the subject.
All eyes are now on the Hadron collider in Switzerland, where scientists are sifting through the results of proton-proton smash-ups looking for dark matter, whatever undiscovered subatomic particles might exist, and perhaps those elusive extra dimensions of the universe.
It’s the possibility of extra dimensions that I am exploring, in my own way, in the BRIGHT EMPIRES series of novels. Positing a continuous and endless creating of the universe and human history, I’ve set myself the task of imagining what that might actually look like if a handful of human beings managed to visit worlds that were not, so to speak, their own. What would they find as they travelled outside their home universe into the limitless omniverse of endless possibilities?
The first Soviet cosmonauts left the only world any of us had ever known and ventured into outer space in the 1960s. On returning to earth, one famously remarked that they didn’t find God out there. Were they looking? I don’t know. But it seems that the majority of those in the international community of physicists who have invested their professional lives in the examination of both the smallest and the largest bodies in our universe are looking, and fully prepared to find, Something out there, or in there. Many are pleased to call the object of their quest The God Particle, or the God Field.
I wonder what my characters – Kit, Wilhelmina, Arthur, Xian-Li, and the others — will discover. Will they be looking? One puzzling aspect of quantum physics proposes that the act of observing a phenomena actually creates the phenomenon. The simple observing of something, the measuring of it, brings it about; observation moves the thing observed from a state of pure potentiality into the realm of physical reality – an idea Einstein himself struggled with and disliked. He remarked, ‘I like to think the moon is there even when I’m not looking at it.’ Still, this ‘seek and ye shall find’ theory has been demonstrated and proven to a great degree of satisfaction and acceptance. It has even given rise to a brand of scientific joke, a la: “If a man makes a statement and his wife isn’t there to hear it, is he still wrong?”
While Einstein himself might have had difficulty accepting some of the theories and conclusions his own work in physics initiated, one thing is becoming ever more apparent the further scientists delve into the true nature of the created order: the universe is far stranger than we imagine or, possibly, can imagine.
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Thanks to NetGalley for providing me with a free digital galley of this book for review
One halo brought sight to Brielle. Another offers sweet relief from what she sees.
Brielle can’t help but see the Celestial. Even without the halo, the invisible realm is everywhere she looks. It’s impossibly beautiful—and terrifying, especially now. Because a battle rages above Stratus, Oregon.
The Terrestrial Veil is ripping, and demons walk the streets past unseeing mortals. Dark, sticky fear drips from every face, and nightmares haunt Brielle’s sleep.
Worst of all, Jake is gone. The only boy she’s ever loved has been taken by the demon, Damien. When she receives instructions from the Throne Room leading her to Jake, she unknowingly walks into a diabolical and heartbreaking trap.
Now she’s stranded in a sulfurous desert with the Prince of Darkness himself, and he’s offering her another halo—a mirrored ring that will destroy her Celestial vision. All she has to do is wear it and she’ll see no more of the invisible world. No more fear. No more nightmares. No more demons. It’s a gift. And best of all: it comes with the promise of a future with Jake, something the Throne Room seems to be taking from her.
Will Brielle trade the beauty of the Celestial and the truth of the world around her just to feel ordinary again?
First, I have to say that I don’t like the book cover. In fact, as much as I have loved this series it sat on my (metaphorical/Kindle) shelf for awhile simply because the cover put me off. Like the previous books, the marketing comes across dark where I actually found the books filled with light.
When I reviewed Broken Wings I stated:
“When I read the synopsis it sounded dark, but like Angel Eyes, I found this book packed full of hope. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve read anything else recently that has stirred my heart like this series. The battle is real. The battle is present. Worship, love, truth, the testimony of our redemption and faith in the Triune God are our weapons.”
Broken Wings remains my favorite in the series (when is a middle book EVER a favorite), but following the trend of the previous books the themes of worship, redemption and the goodness of God in and through all things weave their way through this novel. The temptations are real and the choices Brielle and Jake are presented with are ones that we can all relate to in our everyday lives, even if in this novel they are cast in the framework of the supernatural realm.
More than once while reading this novel I found myself moved to both repentance and worship. I tend to think that the greatest gift you can receive from a book is not simply that it entertains, but that it moves you. This book moved me.
Dark Halo is a captivating tale and a fitting end to a fabulous series.
“ Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.” Rev. 21:5
As I’ve been walking in a new beginning, a new life in a new place, I’ve been thinking about the act of beginning. Specifically I’ve been thinking about the risk it requires and the way it can deepen faith, trust and hope. As followers of Christ every day we wake up and find fresh mercy and grace for our journey — if only we will open our hands and our hearts to receive it. He gives us our daily bread, fresh manna, just enough for today’s journey.
The “with God” life requires a constant state of new beginning. We are faced with a continual stream of choices. We must choose to trust in His grace each time we stumble, each time we fall. We must choose over and over again to humble ourselves, to walk with one another in love. There is coming another beginning in a new heaven and a new earth. But even here and now, today, Christ is resurrecting and re-creating. He offers us new beginnings. He is making all things new. He is making us new.
Where in your life are you are being called to a new beginning?
Here is a quote that I’ve been turning over in my head about the risks and rewards of new beginnings.
“A beginning is ultimately an invitation to open toward the gifts and growth that are stored up for us. … There can be no growth if we do not remain open and vulnerable to what is new and different. I have never seen anyone take a risk for growth that was not rewarded a thousand times over. There is a certain innocence about beginning, with its excitement and promise of something new. But this will emerge only through undertaking some voyage into the unknown. And no one can foretell what the unknown might yield. There are journeys we have begun that have brought us great inner riches and refinement; but we had to travel through dark valleys of difficulty and suffering. Had we known at the beginning what the journey would demand of us, we might never have set out. Yet the rewards and gifts became vital to who we are.” John O’Donohue
Decades before Thalli’s birth, the world ended in a nuclear war. But life went on deep underground, thanks to a handful of scientists known as The Ten. Since then, they have genetically engineered humans to be free from emotions in the hopes that war won’t threaten their lives again.
But Thalli was born with the ability to feel emotions and a sense of curiosity she can barely contain. She has survived so far thanks to her ability to hide those differences. But Thalli’s secret is discovered when she is overwhelmed by the emotion in an ancient piece of music.
She is quickly scheduled for annihilation, but her childhood friend, Berk, convinces The Ten to postpone her death and study her instead. While in the scientists’ Pod, Thalli and Berk form a dangerous alliance, one strictly forbidden by the constant surveillance in the pods.
As her life ticks away, she hears rumors of someone called the Designer—someone even more powerful than The Ten. What’s more, the parts of her that have always been an anomaly could in fact be part of a much larger plan. And the parts of her that she has always guarded could be the answer she’s been looking for all along.
Thalli must sort out what to believe and who she can trust, before her time runs out…
I found myself both drawn in and frustrated by this book. Perhaps it was simply one of those young adult books that just isn’t strong enough to cross over for a mature reader. Perhaps it was because I found it predictable and I felt like I was one step ahead of the author the whole way through or perhaps it was just personal taste. Maybe it was because I read it on the heels of a novel by an award winning sci-fi writer. I don’t know why exactly, but I just didn’t love it. That said, Anomaly was a quick read with an interesting premise and likable characters. Just because I didn’t love it doesn’t mean it’s not a good book. I’d recommend reading the beginning of the book for free on Amazon to see how it strikes you.
I received a free digital copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.
I’ve been reading through this year long, two volume devotional, Letters of Faith through the Seasons, which includes letters of faith, Scripture and reflections that correspond with the liturgical calendar of the church. In this season of “Ordinary Time” one of the series of readings has been from the letters to the churches in the book of Revelation.
Many times I have been asked, as a reflective discipline, to place myself in a passage of Scripture. It is surprising to me how difficult I find this process. I have very little trouble placing myself into works of fiction so I wonder at my struggle to find myself in the very real, historical events of Scripture.
In the passage below, quoted from Letters of Faith, J.I. Packer places himself as a member of the Church of Philadelphia and writes a letter in return to John. As Packer entered into the Scripture and drew a response I found my myself drawn in and encouraged. I’d like to share his words with you.
To the angel of the church of Philadelphia write:
These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars – I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you. Sine you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on earth.
I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on him my new name. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
We the Philadelphian church of Jesus Christ, write to acknowledge with a letter the letter that you sent us on Christ’s behalf – a staggering letter indeed; well might one call it Revelation – and we want to thank you, our sometime teacher, for the devoted and obviously demanding service that you rendered as secretary to the Savior, transcribing as you did all that you heard and saw during those fantastic hours of vision. We had it read out to us in church, just as you directed, and we are trying now to take it to heart. We have held special praise and prayer gatherings to express to Jesus himself our response to his words, and we thought we should write to you as well to tell you what effect his letter has had.
We saw that it came to us as a sort of report card from the Lord who loves us, and now lives for us, and is always with us and knows everything about us and searches us through and through, missing nothing. As we heard his rebukes to the other churches read out, we braced ourselves for something similar, but to our amazement, his letter mentioned none of our shortcomings and was encouragement all the way.
We found it startling and humbling to be praised for faithful endurance by the Master himself, but soon we realized what he was doing. We motivate our children by praising them for what we ourselves have helped them to do, so that they will want to do it again, and be helped to do it by that very wanting. Knowing, as he says, and as you know too, that we are a small fellowship who do not seem to have much effect on anything or anybody, Jesus, who has helped us to be faithful thus far, is motivating us for the future, and we are taking the point. (After all, as you yourself used to tell us, we are all little children really before the Lord, aren’t we?)
We saw that it was our encouragement too that Jesus said he had set before us an open door. We were unsure whether that meant for access to heaven or for reaching out with the gospel, so we have resolved to take it in both senses, so as to be on the safe side.
His promises to make the obstructionists who trouble us so much realize that we are the ones he loves put new hearts into us. Keeping them at bay in their arrogance and hostility has been a draining business. And to be told that our little church will be shielded somewhat as this empire-building persecution builds up was a wonderful mercy.
All of us were ecstatic – the word is not too strong – at Jesus’ final promises to overcomers, which fired our hearts and our imaginations equally. Whether sheep enjoy being branded we don’t know, but the thought of Jesus, who loves us, saved us, and owns us, grasping hold of us to brand us with the Father’s name – new Jerusalem’s name – and his own new name, whatever that is, so identifying us as his own for ever, and anchoring us as pillars in God’s temple, so as to be always as close to him as one can be, left us literally weeping for joy.
As a past pastor to us, we thought you would like to know this. Now may Jesus encourage you there in exile in Patmos, as he has encouraged us here in Philadelphia.
I found great encouragement and a depth of response in my own soul to the words of Scripture as I was drawn into the historical church while reading this response letter.
What about you? Do you ever place yourself in the Scripture as you read? Have you ever considered writing a response letter to God’s words?
Wealth cannot buy peace … or direction.
For Cora Kensington, the Grand Tour was to be the trip of a lifetime. She discovered the family she never knew she had and may have even found the love she longs for in Will. And yet her life has just become infinitely more challenging.
Cora must stand up for what she believes—regardless of how that might challenge current family and cultural norms—in order to remain true to who she really is.
And as she glimpses the end of the tour, Cora knows it’s time to decide Who and what defines her … and who and what does not.
Lisa T. Bergren’s popular Grand Tour series concludes as Cora Kensington journeys across Italy, wrestles with a terrible ultimatum from her father, and comes to terms with the Father who will never fail her.
The Grand Tour series has been a delight to read. Descriptive enough that I can actually see, hear, smell and touch Europe in the pages, the series is more than just interesting characters and vibrant descriptions. The book’s recurring theme of identity is one that is relevant to each reader, begging them to ask who and what defines them.
However, for those who have already followed Cora’s rags to riches tale up to the pages of this novel, there are some surprises in store. I’m always pleased when plot developments unfold without having been broadcast from the beginning of the story and new characters are deftly inserted as if they truly belong. With several new twists and turns Glittering Promises completes the Grand Tour series with style, flair and a satisfactory ending.
— I received a pre-release digital galley of this book in exchange for my honest opinion —
Where do the days go?
Time keeps marching forward as I try to find a rhythm to live in its cadence.
Life has been full.
Full of questions.
Full of prayers.
Full of decisions.
Full of moments, each one requiring a choice.
This afternoon I’ve given my moments to my computer. E-mails and expense reports: that which is necessary. Correspondence, conversations that I long to engage in: that which is valuable. But all the while I hear the clutter calling my name. The moving in is not yet complete. Things linger in the hallways, the guest room stuffed full and every surface a holding place for that which does not yet have a home. To choose the computer means to walk away from the clutter. And then there is another voice calling. I’ve caught something: my body exhausted and my emotions drained made room for germs and pollen to take hold. That down comforter spread across the bed, topped with the blue afghan my mother knit, looks so inviting.
Choices. So many choices.
What is this moment for?
So I ask.
And I listen.
Only my Father knows.
Time swirls forward and I am caught up in its dance.
May I ever, always follow my Savior’s lead.
A poetic portrait of faith, futility, and the joy of this mortal life.
In this astoundingly unique book, best-selling author N.D. Wilson reminds each of us that to truly live we must recognize that we are dying. Every second we create more of our past—more decisions, more breathing, more love, and more loathing. All of it slides by into the gone as we race to grab at more moments, at more memories made and already fading.
We are all authors, creators of our own pasts, of the books that will be our lives. We stare at the future or obsess about the present, but only the past has been set in stone, and we are the ones setting it. When we race across the wet concrete of time without purpose, without goals, without laughter and love and sacrifice, then we fail in our mortal moment. We race toward our inevitable ends without artistry and without beauty.
All of us must pause and breathe. See the past, see your life as the fruit of providence and thousands of personal narratives. What led to you? You did not choose where to set your feet in time. You choose where to set them next.
Then we must see the future, not just to stare into the fog of distant years but to see the crystal choices as they race toward us in this sharp foreground we call the present. We stand in the now. God says create. Live. Choose. Shape the past. Etch your life in stone, and what you make will be forever.
When I first read N.D. Wilson’s children’s book, 100 Cupboards, I added him to my list of favorite authors. In this non-fiction work, following on the heels and thoughts of Notes from the Tilt-A-Whirl, I found myself once again swept away by the power of Wilson’s writing.
For those among us who eschew the abstract and would choose chess over poetry this book might be an exercise in frustration. But the artists and mystics, those whose imaginations take flight on the wings of a well crafted phrase, will no doubt find this book to be a gift and perhaps even a prayer.
I found myself moved to tears, laughing out loud and laying on my face before the throne of God as I wandered the pages of this book. And I thought that the best way that I could give you a glimpse into Death by Living is to share with you a “Found Poem” – words I’ve pieced together from words that Wilson penned.
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Is it a waste to grasp at moments?
To try to catch the wind between my forefinger and my thumb?
The music of the world
To glimpse the transcendent in the simple
And the simple in the transcendent
To shiver with awe
At the sight of a child studying foot-pounded dust,
while twisting slowly in the air above it,
head and shoulders through a tire swing
To stare for an hour
At the still, black surface of a lake
To marvel at the invention of water
And my need to swallow it
And ride it
Every rock is spoken by the Word
Every time I touch a stone
I am touching the Voice of God
Every cell of me is crafted by that artistry
My life is in His breath
But we mortals grow numb
We want to feel more
Make us all Lazarus
And even though
I have never felt further from Him than in this place
How I feel is irrelevant
He is here,
and His image is in me,
and in her –
When the snow flies in the headlights like stars at warp speed
When we stand next to danger we cannot control
And feel its hot breath on our necks
When steam comes off its sides
And we can do nothing
but hang onto the wild mustang
We are no more or less in God’s hands than we have ever been.
God is a God of galaxies
Of roaring seas
And boiling thunder
But He is also the God of bread baking
Of a child’s smile
Of dust motes in the sun
He is who He is, and always shall be.
Look around you now
Can you see time flowing past your edges?
Don’t resent the moments
they cannot be frozen
Give thanks for that daily bread
Manna doesn’t keep overnight
More will come in the morning
By His grace
We are the water made wine
We are the dust made flesh
Made dust made flesh again
We are the whores made brides
And the thieves made saints
And the killers made apostles
We are the dead made living
We cannot grab and hold.
Don’t resent the moments simply because they cannot be frozen. Taste them. Savor them. Give thanks for daily bread. Manna doesn’t keep overnight. More will come in the morning.
Our futile struggle in time is courtesy of God’s excessive giving. Sunset after sunset make it hard to remember and hold just one. Smell after smell. Laugh after laugh. A mind still thinking, a heart still beating.
These quotes from N.D. Wilson’s Death by Living encapsulate so much of my journey over this past year. So many relationships. So many experiences. So many gifts, slipping through my fingers like sand.
In fact, a tagline for the story of this interval of transition could easily be: Life is meant to be spent, not clutched tight or held fast.
While preparing to leave the US for Wales I found myself listening to Audrey Assad’s Good to Me on a continuous loop. I was filled with longing to have my eyes fixed on the faithful promises of God and the grace upon grace that He continually pours out on my life in the midst of the struggles and the sorrows of saying goodbye one more time. As this became the prayer that I breathed in and out, I determined that the foxes in the vineyard would not steal my joy.
And isn’t it interesting that when you open your hands and spread your fingers wide, so that the constant stream of grace pours through, then the hardships and trials and losses cannot cling to you because they are caught up and swept forward in the ever moving stream of grace. The loss that you grieve becomes the very instrument that awakens your heart to the gifts that you have been given.
Life moves on.
Grace never ends.
Time is spent and His mercies are new every morning.
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