Reflections in the Dark

In the Balkans they have a name for beings that are the offspring from a human and vampire union, it is dhampir

According to lore, vampires do not cast a shadow nor do they present a reflection. Because of their ‘undead’ status, when photographed, no image appears. You can see examples of this in the opening scenes of the children’s comedy Hotel Transylvania 2. They can, also according to lore, turn into bats as Bela Lugosi proved to us time and again as Count Dracula.

I had the opportunity to spend a good amount of time in the Balkans and visited the castle of Vlad the Impaler, the medieval psychotic sociopath from whom the Count Dracula’s legend is formed. He defended his castle and lands by impaling those who trespassed on long stakes and left them for others to see as a warning for all who might venture into his wooded lands.

Vlad

In the Balkans they have a name for beings that are the offspring from a human and vampire union, it is dhampir. According to ‘The Great Archives’ if I were to become a vampire through being bitten and eventually undead, I would be Lucas Montgomerie, also known as the Father of the Thirsty. The Archives claim that I would be, or was… depending on how you believe, “strangely cheerful for monsters and a prankster of the night.”

Before you pass this off as the senseless ravings of simple, superstitious and backward people; think again.  Consider some basic points… ‘Father of the Thirsty’ – for anyone who has gotten between me and a pitcher of sweet tea, you KNOW the results! ‘Strangely cheerful’ – believe it or not, in high school I was voted, out of all the males in our senior class as ‘happiest’. As for the ‘strangely’ part – anyone who knows me also can vouch for that! Then comes the ‘prankster of the night’.  For most of all my police career, I was on midnight shift. That is where I belonged, even now I am writing to you during the still hours of the late night. As far as ‘prankster’ – until the statute of limitations runs out; you are not getting any confessions from me!

On the doubting Thomas side of the ledger, once I learned the name I would or did have, I immediately looked for the Facebook page with the same name and YES, there is a Lucas Montgomerie but … there are two reasons to doubt. First his picture was there (which it should not be, remember?) And secondly, he didn’t look anything like me!

Now, before you begin to think that my cork is not all the way down in the bottle, let me explain to you my point. The legends and folklore of the Middle Centuries did come from a great deal of superstition and fear. They were called the Dark Ages for a very good reason. Men like Vlad were not the exception. There were many more evil, dark, demented people living out lives which were very likely demon driven. Demon possession has been a historic fact for millennia. I venture to say that as we get closer to the End of Time, the darkness will once again attempt to envelope our world.  Jesus dealt with many people who were possessed by demons.

On one occasion, Jesus had just finished teaching folks along the Sea of Galilee and that night He and His disciples got in a boat to cross to the other side of the sea. During the night a vicious storm erupted while Jesus slept. Awakened by His frightened followers, Jesus calmed the sea and they soon arrived in the Gadarenes. Mark chapter 5 tells us, “immediately there met Him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no one could bind him, not even with chains, because he had often been bound with shackles and chains. And the chains had been pulled apart by him, and the shackles broken in pieces; neither could anyone tame him. And always, night and day, he was in the mountains and in the tombs, crying out and cutting himself with stones.” (NKJV)

You have heard, no doubt, of the numbers of young people now being called, ‘cutters’ because of their urgent need to cut themselves. Solomon said there is nothing new under the sun. The ‘Gothic’ craze of recent decades, the continued  infatuation with demons and dark spirits, cult practices and things that go bump in the night is not unexpected.

The Dark Ages from 456 to 1000 was a time when most people were illiterate. Poverty and disease was rampant. Only the most educated had access to books and no one but the priests, if there were any in a region had the ability to read the Latin text of the Bible and it was only they who could speak on God’s behalf.

Our own century has seen a great many diseases cured or annihilated. Still cancers rage and disrupt families each and every day. We have more ‘knowledge ‘ available at our fingertips than ever in history. Just ask Google, it will tell you. The search, though, for true knowledge, understanding of the great classic works sorely lacking. A bogus claim that Albert Einstein said, “The day that technology overlaps our humanity we will have a generation of idiots.” There is no evidence that he ever said that but the logic of it does make sense. That we are becoming a generation that could be more susceptible to demonic influence is not at all out of the realm of reasoned thought.

The Book of Mark relates that when the demon possessed man saw Jesus, he ran after Him and worshipped Him.  When Jesus asked him his name, the demon replied, “Legion, for we are many.” (NKJV) James, the half-brother of Christ and author of the book bearing his name in the New Testament writes, “You believe that God is one. You do well, the demons also believe and shudder.” (NASB) There are still parts of the world where people are unable to read the Bible in their own language. Here, in the United States, Bibles can be found just about anywhere and many are free. For Americans, particularly those who claim the name of Christ, to not be familiar with God’s Word but to take a face value what a pastor, priest or the Internet claims to be truth is an open doorway to the same superstition and ignorance of the first Dark Ages. What will be your first step toward preparing your children or others of the next generation to live lives in the Light of God’s Word? Just something worth some reflection!

 

רָחַב and Psalm 4:1

It is God that does the pushing, the stretching, and the enlarging with the distress as His tool.

Rachab  Ra-kav’

to be or grow wide, be or grow large

  1. (Qal) to be widened, be enlarged
  2. (Niphal) broad or roomy pasture (participle)
  3. (Hiphil)
    1. to make large
    2. to enlarge

In the short letter written by James, the brother of Christ, he extols his readers to “count it all joy” when they face various trials. That is a lot easier to read than it is to live through. What is it about trials that can make it so? Can the exercise our faith encounters in the midst of such trials be the strengthening and stretching of our spirit that allows joy to enter when there is no room for much else?

Recently, I had a short devotional reading that focused on Psalm 4:1 and I noticed something that was such a minor point prior to the study, but became so relevant after. The words used in the translations other than the KJV were accurate in a general way but, they did not convey the meaning, I believe, the psalmist had in mind. In even the NKJV, Psalm 4:1 reads:

“Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have relieved me in my distress; Have mercy on me, and hear my prayer.”

The word that I focused on was translated “relieved.” The inference was that God, when we are in distress, can be the relief we seek. It is true enough that such relief is often brought to us by the Holy Spirit; but, I kept thinking about how the psalmist. Even in this case, when it is believed to be King David; he did not have the always present indwelling Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit did assist believers in the times prior to Christ’s post-resurrection ascension; but it was not a daily filling, not a fulfilled indwelling and certainly not all believers. So, what was it from David’s perspective that such trials brought to him that could lead him to worship God with such enthusiasm? The answer lies in the Hebrew word that the NKJV translates relieved. The best translation of the Hebrew Rachab is “to be widened, enlarged.” The verse becomes: “Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness: thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress; have mercy upon me, and hear my prayer.”

Distress enlarges us. It stretches our faith and pushes us to the very brink of ourselves and drives us into something so much more than who we are in ourselves. We may have heard someone say that to go through difficult times will make you be a ‘bigger man’ for it or it will ‘grow you’ as you go through the difficulty.

That is exactly what King David is writing when he says that God has enlarged him when he was in distress. However, we must be clear that it is not the distress, the trouble or difficulty that enlarges the believer. It is God who does the pushing, the stretching, and the enlarging with the distress as His tool.

I cannot help but think of every veteran that I have ever spoken to concerning their basic military training. Every single one hated going through it.  The remarkable part is that those same veterans are unanimous that they would not trade that growing, refining of themselves for anything. That difficult time helped to make them into who they needed to be.

We will never long for the pain that comes with such hardship, but once we have experienced God’s stretching of us through it; we will never regret having been brought down that path. We come away enlarged, grown and grateful when we see our trials through God’s eyes.

cardiac

Right now a missionary couple is going through just that kind of stretching. Their stretching is taking place in 5B North, the Cardiac Services Nursing Unit in St. John New Brunswick. With some vessel surgery planned this week and a triple by=pass scheduled for next, Brad and Bethany are learning more about faith without even barely leaving the hospital floor even as they did as they traveled half-way across the world in the heart of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Nothing can prepare a young married couple for such an ‘enlargement’ but God can hold them through it and we as brothers and sisters in Christ can uplift them while they are in the midst of it. Please remember them as you read this blog and take time with God in prayer to encourage Brad and Bethany in their time of stretching.