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Showing content with the highest reputation since 01/29/2016 in Blog Entries

  1. 3 points
    As you've probably noticed, there are a lot of changes going on at ChristianWriters.com. I already started a topic about some of the changes and new features here. However, I thought if would be better if we had a place to communicate and track all the site changes and updates. So this blog was born. From this point on, I'll be announcing updates and new features here, on this blog. I recommend following this blog (click the "follow" button on the black bar in the blog header) so you receive a notice when we add a new entry. We also encourage you to leave your feedback, comments and suggestions below. This site was built for you, and we welcome your feedback! Thanks for your patience during this transition, and I wish you all of God's greatest blessings.
  2. 3 points
    . . . after reading 1 Chronicles 1-3 today I read the begats in the Bible today, and it struck me that the reading of every name set up a moment that put it to humanity's care to mark what obedience to Jehovah would bear, salvation for those whose hearts did not stray away from the covenant shown by Abraham's faith, or curse at the core of one's bitter fruit from tasting forbidden things, nameless pursuits. Some names seemed odd, some odder even, but each syllable of a lone person given moved me the reader to one strange conclusion, that modern monikers are known, too, by the Lord's choosing, and each one is precious, enough to die for. Do the syllables of our names say, "I Love You Lord"?
  3. 2 points
    I rarely dream, I really don't envision dream as antidote. It's usually rest when I'm awake that cracks the door of Heaven's gate to get a glimpse of God inside these kingdom bones, where He abides. The cataclysm of the flesh when crucified, put to the test, and then the flash of Risen feet up to Your Face brings me relief. The trust You give, upon your Word, is oath enough for us to serve* and from deep within the wells of hope scale ladder steps Jacob's eye felt** __________ * Matthew 5:33-37 ** Genesis 28:10-22
  4. 2 points
    We try to live in such a way that no one will ever be offended or kept back from finding the Lord by the way we act, so that no one can find fault with us and blame it on the Lord. (2 Corinthians 6:3) Paul who tried to live in such a way to not offend anyone yet seemed to have offended multitudes. There are books, sites, and cults formed to simply dispute Paul’s authority as an apostle. It’s one thing to love and another to please with pressure, It’s is one thing to be patience but another to tolerate abuse, It’s one thing to be in tribulations but another to tolerate tyranny, It’s one thing to be in need another to be lazy, It’s one thing to be in distresses for gospel but another to panic about everything, It’s one think to live in such a way to not offend anyone, and another to compromise our convictions, confine ourselves to this world and its popular patterns. So, my friend, for Christ’s sake live an authentic and humble life, but for anything else live a life with dignity, confidence, clarity, and without compromise. After all, God considered you worthy enough to save, with His own blood and life.
  5. 2 points
    I had dreaded my 50th birthday. Success in my life was hard to see, compared to others. I longed to know that I could make a difference in other lives through writing. Then I considered creating a website to reach this goal. Using website-builder websites, I pursued this project. However, I kept starting over, making it take more than a year. After my third attempt, I liked what I saw. Excitement gripped me as I poured myself into designing this website. It grew to fill my whole vision. Hours flowed by as I worked. I found myself mulling over more changes to make while sitting in church. One afternoon, I was in the computer room editing my website when the phone rang. While on the phone, I kept glancing at the website on the computer screen. I itched to get back to work. Soon after resuming editing, an error message appeared in bold red type. Alarmed, I also found a purple circle slapped onto my site’s log-in image. Bold red words told me that the site is blocked; contact the support team. My heart hammered. I searched for help, but found none. In an old email, I spotted a support team's help form. The form was sent. Trembling, and wiping my eyes, I turned the computer off and left the room. For the next several days, I checked the website. It still blocked me from seeing and editing the site. My emails to the support team emails disappeared into silence. Nothi.ng helped. I asked myself, had God taken away my website? Tears rolled down my face as I begged God to remove the block. Two weeks after the block began, I realized that I had made this website an idol. I had offended God. Instead of glorifying God, I had thought of the website as mine. It made me feel important, but insecurity was there too. Comparing myself with others, I came up short. I was afraid to share, yet I needed to share to find affirmation. Focusing on myself trapped me. That morning, I confessed and repented of my sin and found release. When I checked the website that afternoon, I sat and stared in wonder. The block was gone! Peace soothed my heart. The next day, I was astounded to find the support team's answer to the first email I'd sent. They said there had been a “technical error”, but I knew better. And God had prevented them from receiving anything I sent since then. I thank my Father for his loving discipline. After the painful discipline, God's words comforted me. Jesus said that “as the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments ye shall abide in my love, even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love,” (John 15:9,10). I want to abide in his love, and find in him everything I need. I remember what a guest speaker at church told us last year: success is doing what God has given you to do. (John 17:4) That’s what I had been striving for until I got off track. Ephesians 1:6 comes to mind. Jesus’ death on the cross cleansed me from sin, and made me “accepted in the beloved.” He now accepts me completely. I also turned to a reassuring verse God had given me: “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end,” (Jeremiah 29:11 KJV). His thoughts about me are what counts. His thoughts are peace between himself and me, peace that was bought by Jesus' blood. He wants me to love, trust, and live to please Him. As I do, he will satisfy my heart.
  6. 2 points
    God Does "Answer" Our Desires,Concerns, Prayers and Other things We bring up to him. It may not be in the timing we would like. It may not be in the way we expect. But, know this,. He has answered you and you will receive your answer in his perfect timing. AMEN
  7. 2 points
    When I recently read the verse that I bold below, I immediately took stock of a primary motivation in my life, which is to find, exhort to and commune within mutual devotion to our Lord and God, Messiah Jesus. There is nothing so freeing as living "in Spirit and in Truth" (John 4:24) It gives us new life to know that you are standing firm in the Lord - 1 Thessalonians 3:8 (NLT) I thrilled at the pride of my mamma and papa, when they said without words, "He is growing up". How they gave me space in my heart for their boundaries, it felt like a universe though I stayed under their wing. Now, my dear brother, now sister, you all, I hope you go further as you grow in truth. For I really live when I see the Church knitted together to form a Spirit-filled purse emptied out, filled-up as fast as her love, inspired by devotion to the Risen One.
  8. 2 points
    Many Believers love to surf through the Scripture in hope of finding spiritual gems that they can add to their vault of edification verses. If they underline in their Bibles it is usually with multi colored markers. Exclamation points emphasize the exceptional verses that carry a higher degree of personal worth. The interesting thing is that the Scriptures point out more about commitment and personal sacrifice than a “shopping flyer” promoting spiritual “deals.” We get excited about the incoming blessings, but fail to identify our obligation to disperse blessings. I would never minimize who we are in Christ, but I believe the evidence of our spiritual standing is how we are affecting the lives of others. When is the last time we scanned the Scriptures in search of verses that we may have over looked, either intentionally or unintentionally? What about those Biblical salvoes that hit us between the eyes, but we glossed over them because it caused us to be uncomfortable? Do we need to be reminded that the same Holy Spirit who gave us the defined riches also gave us the defining truths? When we were new Believers, it was like Christmas and our birthday all rolled up together. Opening our Scriptural presents brought unparalleled excitement. The problem is that many Believers stayed in that environment. There was no maturing, just the enjoying of the “presents” with no thought of sharing with the others. We all know kids that are spoiled. They always want something. Everything is about them. Sadly, that has become a picture of some Christians today. They think everything is around them. They want the blessings, but have a hard time being a blessing. They want to be “slain in the spirit,” instead of being alive in the spirit. The reason the church is having a hard time being The Church is because of ignorance of Scripture. Jesus’ teaching on the Vine and branches (John 15: 1-8) has been tampered with to the degree that it has been misrepresented and even “burglarized.” Verse 7 has been a favorite of the “selfianity” group. They claim that verse gives them the right to ask whatever they want and it will be done for them. Those who have taken this approach have found themselves scrambling to explain why it has not always worked. In the Gospels it is important to understand the setting and who is involved in the exchanges. In the case of the Vine and Branches, Jesus is talking to His chosen men who are about to have the “torch” passed to them. He wants them to make sure they understand that the success of their ministry will be because of their unity with Him. They are in fact like a branch that is alive because of the vine. The more fruit they produce, the more God will trim away obstacles in their lives so they will produce even greater results. If they fail to be fruitful, God will remove them from their positional authority. Jesus used branches and their effects as a metaphor to their lives. Abide in Him, grow by Him, reproduce through Him, otherwise; they will become as useless as a dead branch. Jesus told them they were clean through the Word given to them. In other words the branches were ready to produce. All that was lacking was the Holy Spirit which would indwell them after Jesus ascended into Heaven. They were given permission to ask for anything that would help them in their ongoing quest of representing the Kingdom of God. The question bids to be answered as to what is the role of the Believer when it comes to asking and receiving. I believe we can ask, but it must be in line with God’s Word. Our asking is never for personal edification but for the glory of God to be issued through us. There are many other Scriptures that deal with asking and receiving. But all must be taken in the setting in which it is expressed. It is by abiding in Jesus and His Word that brings validity to our asking.
  9. 2 points
    Do you know Him? I am not asking if you are a member of a certain church, for when you accepted Christ as your Savior you automatically became a member of The Church. I am not asking if you read your Bible or pray daily. What I am asking is do you really know Whom you are reading about and to Whom you are petitioning and making requests? I believe we are so hung up with blessings that we fail to know the Blessed One. We examine the Scriptures in search of something that will elevate ourselves to the point of human contentment. Jesus exposed the Pharisees’ arrogance by exposing their flawed knowledge of the Scripture. They were claiming to know Scripture, but their understanding fell short. (John 5:38, 39) Instead of “deep word diving” in search of the benefits of Kingdom citizenship, let us pursue a relationship with the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. Many seek healing, financial deliverance, and materialistic prosperity in lieu of fellowship with their Creator. Positional rank seems to be a desire that many pursue in order to exhibit their spirituality. You may be a board member, worship leader (?), teacher, or even a pastor, but the real question is do you know Him? On one of Jesus’ last trips to Jerusalem, He looked out over the city and said, “How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.” (Matthew 23:37 NKJV) I believe God wants the same relationship with His people today, but Believers are so wrapped up in religion that they fail to respond to His invitation. Do you know Him? We rejoice over our forgiveness, but lack relationship with our Forgiver. We rejoice over our redemption, but lack true relationship with our Redeemer. There are religious tools that are promoted to help those increase their spiritual repertoire, but there are so few publications on how to establish a personal relationship with God. Books and recordings produce millions of dollars of profit to the agents of monetary growth who are more interested in popular acceptance than in Biblical truth. Many pursue their faith in quest of personal edification, rather than pursing “less of me and more of Him.” Do you know Him? When we set our desires on Him instead of ourselves, we will grow into the likeness of Him, rather than a “new creation” fashioned after self-centeredness. It is not a question of what I can get out of the Kingdom of God, but rather how can I contribute to the Kingdom? It is not how much money I can reap by my financial sowing, but how much can I give so others can reap the benefits. Do you know Him? When is the last time we just worshiped God? When is the last time we laid aside our personal prayer requests and just “set your (our) affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” (Colossians 3:2) Let me paraphrase, “Let us set our desires on Him and not on our own wants.” Some of the greatest times on my spiritual journey have been the times I just reflected on God and His love for me. The more time we spend in fellowship with Him, the more we will understand what Jesus meant when He said He came that we might have an abundant life. (John 10:10) Do we really know Him or do we just have knowledge of who He is? Let us put aside our religious rhetoric and learn to fellowship with our Heavenly Father. Let us appreciate Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Let us learn what walking with God is all about. When we do, our spirits will transcend our minds and will bring spiritual satisfaction as never before. Do you know Him?
  10. 2 points
    Contrary to popular thought, we were not meant to live the Kingdom Life alone. We are the "Body" of Christ. Different personalities, different giftings, diverse administration of those giftings, but the same Spirit works in us - the Holy Spirit. We cannot operate apart from one another. You have what I lack and need - I need you in order to survive. I may be your answer to prayer, your next miracle - you need me in order to survive. It is God's will that every need be supplied, but not apart from the Body and certainly not apart from HIM. In trials and tribulation and testing, don't leave the fellowship of believers; don't isolate yourself, God has often placed the answer, the miracle, the sign, the Word of knowledge, the wisdom you seek, the comfort you need within the Body of Christ. The enemy would love to divide and conquer. If we cannot be together geographically, cling together in prayer. I need you to survive, i need you to make it, I need your testimony ... and you need me--- 1 CORINTHIANS 12:12 For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into[c] one Spirit. 14 For in fact the body is not one member but many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? 18 But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. 19 And if they were all one member, where would the body be? 20 But now indeed there are many members, yet one body. 21 And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. 23 And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty, 24 but our presentable parts have no need. But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it, 25 that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. 26 And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. 27 Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.
  11. 1 point
    Matthew 24:12 And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. This aspect of love that has been growing colder as one of Christ’s prophesies in His Sermon on the Mount listed in the 24th Chapter of Matthew, and I will explain. We can get something like Cancer that invades our society and people do not realize it is spreading. Satan likes to introduce things in a slow, but very subtle manner. Watching society go through these subtle changes for close to 70 years, has made me realize that the love of many is, in fact---- growing colder. And as Christ prophesied, it is happening, and many do not realize it. How changes in society can alter our opinions Opinions are first of all---are not really of God, while perceptions should be aligned with God. We have really made our opinions tantamount in this opinion-seeking society where everyone is desiring our opinion from political polls to the products we buy. We are constantly being asked for our opinion in this society. MY opinion certainly can be prideful thing. How many times have your heard “That is my opinion and no one can change it”? Opinions are really brought out in this verse and others. Romans 12:16 Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion. Or from the World English translation of the Bible: Proverbs 18:2 A fool has no delight in understanding, but only in revealing his own opinion While perception or perceive is this: Mark 8:17 But Jesus, being aware of it, said to them, “Why do you reason because you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive nor understand? Is your heart still hardened? Proverbs 1:2 To know wisdom and instruction, To perceive the words of understanding, And this from the Passion translation: Proverbs 24:14 For then you will perceive what is true wisdom, your future will be bright, and this hope living within will never disappoint you. So opinions are really of no value to anyone but yourself, in an often prideful way. While, perceptions are God’s gift to us when we ask for His wisdom---as James 1:5 says:. 5 (If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. We have to keep our mind on God in this world that seems to value our opinions. One aspect is found in Philippians 4:8 which says: Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. Mediating on these things keeps us from forming prideful opinions or certainly can help. Christ never spoke with His Opinions on anything---- why should we, as Believers in Christ allow our incomplete opinions to motivate us in our Faith in Him. After all it was the opinions of many who came together demanding His Crucifixion.
  12. 1 point
    Hardships God does not lead, His children around hardship, but leads them straight through hardship. He leads us through the valleys and out of darkness in life to streams of living water, for our nourishment can be found within the Bread of Life. Good can come out of, bad situations never give in to empty solutions, easy way outs. Difficulty is part of life, hard times will come and go. And may very well be to get your attention. Good can come from hardships, like the precious jewel at first its ruff around the edges, the Jeweler just like God works on that special jewel and never gives up. For within he sees what can be, God has a plan for us for. He is the Master of all. We can find joy in hardships, loneliness, and disappointment. Joy is more about attitude, and what we learn during those times rather than its circumstance. strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God, they said. - Acts 14:22 That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. - 2 Corinthians 12:10 Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. - 2 Timothy 2:3 - Debe
  13. 1 point
    Your Longings Matter to the Lord when you Delight yourself in Him for He will grant you your hearts desires .
  14. 1 point
    Never lose hope your holding on to when things seem unclear . The Lord himself promises to make His way known. His way will always bring peace to your spirit.
  15. 1 point
    Why worry about the things you have no control over. God has everything under control. He already knows the end results of your worrying. Keep praising Him and thanking Him for His working on your behalf.
  16. 1 point
    The Israel-Palestinian Problem: A Biblical Solution by Teddy L. Desta (2003) The problem in the Middle East, particularly the relationship between Jews and Palestinians, can find a solution only when any human-made peace plan follows God's peace plan outlines presented in the Bible. The following is what we see in the Bible about the Israel-Palestinian problem and its solution. Since the Bible speaks about the broader Israel-Arab relationship as well, what is here can be called the Bible's Middle East peace plan (BMEPP). Unlike any other geopolitical region, God has made clear His mind about the future security and destiny of the Holy Land. Only if God has not shared His plan about the future of the Holy Land, then that we would have been free to let the best of our political thoughts and diplomatic practices to guide us in our search to write a Middle East plan. But since God has shared His mind about the Holy Land's future, then we must read His policy from the Bible and follow His precepts and blueprint. In a sense, we will succeed in our search for peace for a problem only when we make the Bible our starting place. To do otherwise is to set up ourselves for failure. Today, to a considerable extent, the world community believes that political, economic, and social justice for Palestinians can come only through a two-state solution. Most Palestinians buy the idea of TSS believing that their problems will get resolved when they get their national state. Other Palestinians such as the extremist nationalist groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad want a one-state solution, wherein they can altogether displace Israel and set up an Islamic Palestinian state. However, both solutions (i.e., a two-state solution in which each side enjoys its sovereign state or a one-state solution where Hamas dominates), have one major problem: Both plans fly against the will of God. Currently, peace plans proposed by secular Zionists, the USA, regional countries, international organizations, the Palestinian Authority, or Hamas will all fail because none of them take the Word of God into consideration. Ideally, in all instances where God has made His will known, mankind must find out God's will and follow it. But what has God said about the Israel-Palestine problem? What are His peace parameters to solve the Israel-Palestinian intractable problem? This paper is dedicated to identify the biblical premises of the Middle East peace plan and to make a few recommendations. First, the Bible allocates property rights to the Jews in today's highly contested areas, commonly called "the Occupied Territories" (see, Gen. 15:15-23; Josh. 13-19). The Bible states that today's the West Bank and East Jerusalem (i.e., the so-called Occupied Territories) lie within Israel's ancient heritage. Therefore, those lands by default will revert to Israel in her restoration (See, for example, Jeremiah 31; Ezekiel 34: 13-16; Micah 7: 14-16; Obadiah 17 – 21; Zephaniah 2: 4-9). Hence, any human-made peace plan that ignores or contradicts the declared will of God about the territorial extent of restored Israel is doomed to fail. Surrounding nations are advised by God to respect Israel's land, and place in the region or otherwise face the consequences. Israel itself is required to abide by God's Word regarding any peace deals it makes with Palestinians, surrounding Arab nations, or the international community. "This is what the LORD says: "As for all my wicked neighbors who seize the inheritance I gave my people Israel, I will uproot them from their lands, and I will uproot the people of Judah from among them. But after I uproot them, I will again have compassion and will bring each of them back to their own inheritance and their own country. And if they learn well the ways of my people and swear by my name, saying, 'As surely as the LORD lives'--even as they once taught my people to swear by Baal--then they will be established among my people. But if any nation does not listen, I will completely uproot and destroy it," declares the LORD." (Jer. 12: 14-17) Second, the Bible promises an elevated position to Palestinians in a one-state solution. However, the OSS is preconditioned on the purging of Palestinians from hating the Jew. "Ashkelon will see it and fear; Gaza will writhe in agony, and Ekron too, for her hope will wither. Gaza will lose her king and Ashkelon will be deserted. a mixed people shall dwell in Ashdod, and I will cut off the pride of Philistia. And I will remove their blood from their mouth, and their detestable things from between their teeth. Then they also will be a remnant for our God, and be like a clan in Judah, and Ekron like a Jebusite." (Zechariah 9: 5-8) Hence, for Palestinians, some cleansing precedes their elevation in the OSS, which Israel leads. Potentially, there can follow an "assimilation" of the Palestinians into the Jewish social and political fabric. However, many Israelis and Palestinians, significant western countries, and international organizations reject the idea of a one-state solution for different reasons. First, by international law, Israel is obliged to leave any territory it has acquired by war. Second, for historical reasons, Jews deserve their state in which they make a clear majority. Third, the two sides have wounded each other so profoundly that to make them live in one-state is unwise and impractical. However, Israel's extent of territory is determined by the Bible, and not by international law. Second, the Jewishness of the state cannot be premised solely on a numerical majority. Third, there is scriptural precedence where Jews and Palestinians coexisted and cooperated. For example, King David, who built the first unified Jewish state, had had cordial relations with Palestinians. King David was so successful in his relationships with them so much that he gave a contingent of Palestinians an honored and trusted position in his army. King David's chosen bodyguard or elite force the Cherethites and Pelethites were Philistines (a.k.a, modern-day Palestinians). It was this Palestinian contingent that was loyal to David at the moment of the coup d'etat carried against David by his son, Absalom. "All his servants marched past him—all the Cherethites and Pelethites, and six hundred Gittites who had followed him from Gath. The king said to Ittai the Gittite, "Why should you come along with us? Go back and stay with King Absalom. You are a foreigner, an exile from your homeland. You came only yesterday. And today shall I make you wander about with us when I do not know where I am going? Go back, and take your people with you. May the LORD show you kindness and faithfulness." But Ittai replied to the king, "As surely as the LORD lives, and as my lord the king lives, wherever my lord the king may be, whether it means life or death, there will your servant be." (2 Sam 15: 18-21) Moreover, some of the most respected warriors in King David's army were other types of -- in modern parlance -- Palestinians (see, for example, 1 Sam. 26:6; 2 Sam. 23: 24-39). For instance, Uriah (the husband of Bathsheba) was a Hittite. Uriah's devotion to the God of Israel and the nation was peerless. It is this kind of relationship between Jews and Palestinians that God envisions to bring back again. The East Bank, too All attempted Israel-Palestinian peace plans overlook what God has said about restored Israel and the East Bank. The original Promised Land includes lands on the east bank of the Jordan River, given to the tribes of Reuben, Gad and half the tribe of Manasseh as their inheritance (Numbers 32, Joshua 13:15-23; Jeremiah 30:3). Gilead, and Bashan (which are famous pasture lands on the east side of the Jordan River) are part of Israel's original as well as restored inheritance (Jeremiah 50:19; Micah 7:14). "But I will bring Israel back to their own pasture, and they will graze on Carmel and Bashan; their appetite will be satisfied on the hills of Ephraim and Gilead." (Jeremiah 50:19) "O LORD, protect your people with your shepherd's staff; lead your flock, your special possession. Though they live alone in a thicket on the heights of Mount Carmel, let them graze in the fertile pastures of Bashan and Gilead as they did long ago." (Micah 7:14) Today, the lands of Ruben, Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh are part of the Kingdom of Jordan and mainly inhabited by Palestinians. Hence, God's prophetic statements about the East Bank (i.e., Bashan and Gilead) carry several implications. First, God's plan to restore Jews to Gilead and Bashan could imply a confederation or federation arrangement between the state of Israel and the Kingdom of Jordan. Such a provision will open the door for Jewish settlements in their ancient lands. Second, it implies that God's plan will bring all Palestinians — those in Gaza, the West Bank, and East Bank — under one polity umbrella. Once Palestinians in the Diaspora get the right-of-return, there will be ample room for their settlement. Israelis settling on the East Bank will smooth relationships between Jews and Arabs a lot. Third, even though it will be a Jew-Palestinian inclusive one-state polity, because of God's promises to Jews, the state will remain Jewish in its legal profile. However, in the commonwealth, Palestinians will enjoy full citizenship recognition and rights. They will exercise extensive political and social influence. But their elevation is as conditioned by the prophets Jeremiah and Zechariah; they must accept Jews and the state of Israel as legitimate entities in the Holy Land. Fourth, some right-wing Israelis who say Palestinians must transfer from the West Bank to the East Bank must reverse their position. Instead, they have to prepare themselves to re-settle in Gilead and Bashan. God's Peace Plan for the Broader Middle East God also has a peace plan for the broader Middle East region. Such a more comprehensive peace plan is significant because the Israel-Palestinian conflict has a regional component to it. God promises the unthinkable -- to bring peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors. These two sides have been at war several times, and many Arab countries still consider Israel as an enemy nation. But God promises peace between Arab nations with Israel. The Prophet Isaiah writes: "In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria. The Assyrians will go to Egypt and the Egyptians to Assyria. The Egyptians and Assyrians will worship together. In that day Israel will be the third, along with with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing on the earth. The LORD Almighty will bless them, saying, "Blessed be Egypt my people, Assyria my handiwork, and Israel my inheritance." (Isaiah 19: 23-25) According to God's plan, a moderate Arab state (for example, Egypt) and a radical Arab state (for example, Syria), will have a positive relationship with Israel. The trio will form an axis of blessing for the world. God will make the Middle East a peaceful place as He brings together these irreconcilable forces which have been behind the turmoil in the region for so long. Iran, a non-Arab Middle East power, is a significant part of the region's security. Iran, since 1979, has played a determinantal anti-Israel role, calling for Israel's destruction as a state. God's Word speaks about the future of Iran using its ancient names such as Elam, Medes, and Persia. God promises to place His throne in Elam. Iranians will embrace the God of Israel. "I will establish my sovereignty over Elam. I will destroy their king and their leaders," says the LORD. "Yet in days to come I will reverse Elam's ill fortune." says the LORD" (Jeremiah 49: 37-38). Here God promises to remove the government in Iran and substitute it with a government based on God's will. Since one of the major obstacles to peace between Israel and Palestinians has been the clerical regime in Iran, its removal augurs well for the orderliness of the region. Advice to Israel Hence, given God’s promises to restore to Israel all her Promised Land, what should Israel need to do to win hearts and minds among Palestinians who, according to God’s Israel-Palestinian peace plan, will constitute a significant portion of its population? Israel should be careful not to dispossess Palestinians or to marginalize them. Current Israel must emulate its forefathers, such as Abraham, Joshua, and King David, in treating Palestinians with fairness and justice. For example, Abraham, though Promised the Land, when offered a cave to bury his wife for free, he insisted on paying for it (see Genesis 23). Abraham did not feel entitled to get the Land for free. He did not take advantage of God’s promise in engaging in an unfair deal with the indigenous people. He respected their property rights. God ordered King David to build a sacrifice altar at Mount Moriah. But the place where God wanted David set up the altar belonged to a Jebusite farmer, a non-Jew indigenous person. Although King David was the most influential person in the nation, he did not confiscate the farmer and used his Land to build an altar to God. Even if the farmer wanted to give the Land for free to his king, David insisted on paying for the Land (2 Sam 24:24). David never abused his kingly power (Cf. Jeremiah 22:15-16). He never used religion as a cover to take away property from his people, Jew, or non-Jew, without due compensation. God’s orders to His people is that they stay a just and a fair-minded people. He orders them to show mercy and justice without discriminating against the poor and the stranger (Deuteronomy 24: 14, 16; 25: 13-16; Isaiah 10: 1-2). God expects His covenant people to have the same law for natives and immigrants. Jews must apply the same scale of justice to all, regardless of citizenship status. They must be impartial in administering justice (see Proverbs 20:10, 20:23, 21:22). The following are a few suggestions for I-P peace-makers to consider. i). Civic engagement Both sides need to take a few crucial steps to start and foster people to people contact to develop a positive rapport between the two communities. As much as hate and conflict are man made, equally, understanding and peace are man-made. Peace-building needs courage and effort. Ideally, the Israel Government must facilitate how civic societies and goodwill persons start the first step in building bridges across the two communities. The process can start small but can grow into a snowball social movement. Such group-to-group meetings may involve sharing stories and perspectives, asking for forgiveness, weeping together, and discussing visions for a better future. The stronger the bonds of friendship grow between the two peoples, the less the opportunity arises for hardliners spew hate and incite violence. ii). Goodwill outreach Israel, for all understandable reasons, has now won the armed part of the struggle for the Land. However, it has yet to win the battle for the hearts-and-minds of Arab-Palestinians. Israel-Jews now must do their utmost to stretch their humanitarian and goodwill hand to Arabs-Palestinians, particularly to the most vulnerable parts of those communities. Israelis/Jews have the resources (funds, human resources, and technology) to do goodwill outreaches in many areas of life in helping Arab/Palestinians. The program can include several types of opportunities. Some of these opportunities could provide rare medical services, giving scholarships to bright Palestinian students in Israeli elite universities, creating job opportunities to outstanding Palestinian graduates, and providing funding Arab/Palestinian entrepreneurs. [1] Israel must be open to discuss possibilities for members of the Palestinian Diaspora (who are no threat to its national security) to visit home and even return for good to their homeland. iii). Justice The rule of law and a fair system of justice should prevail. The country’s court systems, both Israeli and Arab courts, must work impartially for both peoples. The life, liberty, and property of Arabs-Palestinians must be of equal standing to Israeli-Jews. A just legal and justice system that works reasonably and efficiently for all helps to develop a sense of nationhood that encompasses both sides. This measure is critical to building peace and a durable future in the Land. iv). Education The future of the Land belongs to the young. We must start now to educate both Jewish and Arab children to learn to accept each other citizens of the Holy Land. Policymakers and civic leaders from both communities must sit down and write a school curriculum that fosters mutual understanding, empathy, and shared purpose among the young. Weekend and summer camps where Jewish and Arab-Palestinian children interact closer can foster long-term relationships between the two communities, which can last generations. v). Empowerment Israel-Jews must start taking tentative steps allowing Arab-Palestinians to rise in the ranks in the civil service, academia, mass media, and civil society. The state must enable public exposure and recognition for Arabs/Palestinians who excel in their field. This move is vital to ally the fear of Arabs/Palestinians that their fate is always to be downtrodden, ever passing as second-class citizens. vi). Diplomatic initiative Because Hamas’s and Islamic Jihad’s anti-Israel stands, the people of Gaza, so far, have paid a heavy price. But now Israel must think creatively to address the Gaza problem. Israel must take its good relationship with Egypt and powerful Gulf states to make a bold diplomatic move. Israel must promise to lift its blockade against Gaza, provided that an international consortium of four countries (under the aegis of the UN, EU) agrees to take total responsibility in Gaza to administer the area at least for ten years. The consortium running the mandate will ensure that Gaza disarms, fosters civic societies, develops a healthy economy, and engages with Israel, the WB, and the rest of the world. Israel, by starting these bold steps, it can show the world its readiness and willingness to end the suffering in Gaza. vii). Democratic and Jewish Creative thinking is necessary to represent Arab-Palestinians in government and society and to integrate them eventually into the social-economic fabric. If this vision followed through properly, then Israel can establish a political system that is both democratic and Jewish. But how can the Jewishness of the state of Israel guarantee in the presence of a near-majority Arab-Palestinians? The state can be Jewish in orientation and symbols on the likely assumption that once Arab-Palestinians receive due political recognition, economic opportunities, and social respect, they will accept the idea the state remains Jewish/Israel in name, orientation, and character. The Palestinians would do this out of historical understanding and goodwill. They will reciprocate in kind. The peace plan that God has in mind for Israel-Palestine and the broader Middle East region deserve recognition. It is this plan that we must learn, embrace, and apply. No one can make God a liar. "Let God be true, and every human being a liar. As it is written: "So that you may be proved right when you speak and prevail when you judge."" (Rom. 3:4) Note: [1] Israeli billionaire hopes to bring water to parched Gaza (see: https://apnews.com/5f91122b9b0a71e36a5876b5f13dde4a) xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Glory be to God © TLD, 2017 - 2030. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Teddy L. Desta and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
  17. 1 point
    The Lord does hear all your precious prayers. He knows the desires of your heart. Always be full of hope, for He is your constant Helper and Healer.
  18. 1 point
    Every morning when we wake up, we face an element of uncertainty. Of course, we usually have predetermined expectations, but there is still the potential for the unknown or unexpected to appear. Each day of our life begins as a blank canvas and ends either with a beautiful picture of positive accomplishments or an abstract painting of negative results. The strokes we use in depicting our daily experiences will determine what type of picture will be presented at the end of the day. The brushes we use in initiating and responding to everyday experiences depend on the attitude of the painter. What our painting should show at the end of the day is how Jesus was involved in our experiences. What happens when our landscape turns into a potentially life changing event? What about a surprise illness that carries a life ending sentence? What about an accident that causes limited physical freedom? What about minor challenges to our Faith? What will our painting show at the end of each day? The outcome of any painting is determined by who is brushing the canvas. As a Believer, we see life’s storms, but we also realize that Jesus is in the storm with us. Sure, we struggle with the challenging “waves,” but we realize that as long as Jesus is in the boat, we will not sink. At the end of the day, we finish the painting by showing that beyond the storm are peaceful waves circling our boat. How long the storm will last matters little, for we are not alone! What does your painting show?
  19. 1 point
    Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through him! But.... I hear that book end too many times. ... if God is love, why would he condemn anyone? Answer: Love without justice is not real love. It's a mockery. ... If God really wanted everyone to be saved, couldn't He just make it so? Answer: Love without choice is not real love. It's mechanistic. God didn't create robots. ... Why can't there be more than one way to heaven? Answer: Truth is not subjective! I will die one day. That is a fact I cannot change just because I want to. ... Doesn't God just want me to be happy? Answer: Happiness is a fleeting feeling. Happiness is too shallow. Your purpose is much deeper than that. ... what about those who don't get a chance to hear about God or those who don't have the capacity to choose: like the mentally ill and really young children and babies? There's the biggest one, right there. What about someone who has never heard of Jesus? What about stillborns? Are they going to hell because they never had a chance to hear about Jesus? Oh, ye of little faith! Don't you think God, in His great wisdom, doesn't know innocence from guilt? The Bible actually says that God's foolishness is wiser than our wisest! I love that! Just think, God can be foolish sometimes. And His level of foolishness makes our wisest moments look like child scribbles! He alone knows the heart of all men. Women and children are included in that. Truly it is a matter between God and each person individually, but for the sake of answering the concern, here are some Bible verses that touch on the subject. Romans 1:18-23 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles. A few notes on this passage - 1) God's existence is self-evident. (2) It should be emphasized that this passage is talking about people who "knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him". There are actually a few historical examples I can point to of this point. In the midst of Roman polytheistic mythology and Emperor worship, one Roman Emperor rose up who believed there was only one true God. Coincidence? I don't think so. Another example. In America, before the Europeans came, the Aztecs religion called for human sacrifices. Then one emperor rose up that claimed there was only one true God and did away with human sacrifice. Coincidence? I think not. Montezuma, this man's son, killed his father and brought back the old religion and the human sacrifice. It is reported his son brought the old religion back and that it was worse than before. Then the Conquistador's came and wiped them out. Coincidence? I think not. But Romans 1:18-23 is not the only passage that sheds light on this subject. I do not believe the answer is no one is innocent. I believe ignorant innocence IS possible. John 15:22 - If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. John 9:41 - Jesus said, "If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains." Twice in the book of John, Jesus says that, in essence, if you were ignorant of your sin, you would not be found guilty. So... the truly innocent... only God knows. But there is room for forgiveness for those who truly are innocent in their ignorance. That certainly includes stillborns, mentally ill, children too young to understand, and those who have not heard the name of Jesus. Yet again, I say, Only God knows who is truly innocent. What we must do is learn to trust His judgement. For He is trustworthy! The only one who is trustworthy! Will you trust Him today?
  20. 1 point
    The mind may be sharp, and the body keen, but is the spirit awake? Have we deadened ourselves to the point of apathy? Have we let the derision leave us indecisive and the quandary to turn us to despondency? Have we left our wishes to our past and our 'ought's to our future? And the mass of entropy leaving us inept in the present. When shall we live, if not now?Where shall we stand, if not on truth? How shall we gain, if we do not pay forward? And how shall we improve if we do not change? We ask ourselves how we can move in the face of such despair? The question should be... how can we not? And have we done enough?
  21. 1 point
    True wisdom and understanding can only be from God. He desires to give it to us all. Praise God.
  22. 1 point
    Spectator Christians love to interject questions about Scriptures that fail to meet their human understanding. Sadly, these week-end Believers look at the Bible as if they are reading Cliff Notes. They look at the Scriptures as summations and highlights of the activities of Jesus. Basically, I call this Biblical Dieting, which is consuming just enough spiritual nourishment to sustain their faith. There is little benefit to Scriptural surfing. It is when we submerge ourselves in the Word that we discover the intended Truths. One of the questions that people ask is, “Why did Jesus agree to allow demons to enter the swine after being expelled from the demonic man? (Luke 8:26-39) For Jesus to grant that request would cause collateral consequences. To wipe out the swine would cause financial chaos to the surrounding area. Jesus, realizing the ramifications of this decision, still granted Legion’s request. Why? Some of the things that Jesus did will bring the reader to the point of repentance for not doing more for the Kingdom of God. The first thing we see in this story is Jesus’ compassion and resolve. One day, Jesus and His Disciples had set sail from the seaport of Bethsaida to the Gadarenes. That evening, they encountered a storm that put their boat in jeopardy. Through Jesus’ action, the storm turned into a wave-less sea. When they arrived at their destination, Jesus encountered a man so possessed with demonic beings that he was forced to live among the tombs. Jesus made the trip to reach a man whose life had become lost to demonic control. (Matthew states there were two men. Matthew 8:28) Jesus was there to set him free! To what lengths Jesus will go to set people free from their bondage! It does not matter what chains are holding you, Jesus will break those bonds and set you free! The second thing that stands out in this story is the authority and power that He had over Satan and his soldiers. The demons could do nothing without Jesus’ permission. Legion knew his time was short and asked that they not be sent into the “deep.” The word deep means “abyss, bottomless pit.” This is the place where Satan and his army will be bound for 1,000 years. (Revelation 20:1-3) By releasing the demons into the swine, Jesus put fear into the demons, knowing that they could be sentenced to the pit at any time. The third thing this story shows is that there are consequences for one’s actions. It is believed that even though the Decapolis territory, of which the Gadarenes were a part, was basically of Roman and Greek identity, Semitic (Jewish) believers were also implanted in that area. Some of these Jews even followed Jesus. (Matthew 4:25) If, in fact, Jewish people were involved in raising swine, they were in violation of Jewish law. (Leviticus 11) The destruction of the swine could have been indirect judgment. After the demoniac man was set free, Jesus told him to go home and tell others what the Lord had done for him and how He had had compassion on him. He went back and began to publish throughout the Decapolis what great thing Jesus had done for him. (Mark 5:19, 20) What a great Lord we serve. No one is out of His reach. Let us get in the boat in search of those who need deliverance. No matter the difficulties we experience on our trek, always remember Jesus is with us! Like the freedman of the Gadarenes who shared his wonderful story, every Christian needs to share their story of victory! (References: Matthew 8, Mark 5, Luke 😎
  23. 1 point
    CORONATION TEMPLE by TLD (2003) This God has to say to His prophets of the third day: To Moses, I showed him the design of the Tabernacle, and he built it according to what he saw. To David I sent him a blueprint and Solomon used it to build the Temple. I showed to the prophet Ezekiel My future temple, giving him the details; he wrote it down for posterity. These days, to you, my sons and daughters, the company of prophets, I have entrusted the vision and the building of My Kingdom Temple. You have bowed down to the vision and heeded My calling. You have not been disobedient to the heavenly vision. You have clung to the vision for years and let it not go. You have carried it in your heart and mind, nurtured it to maturity. I have seen each of you how you labored day and night at My Temple work; you have fainted not at My calling. I have seen how you went up to the high mountains to cut the logs and to dig up the stones. I have seen how you have tirelessly cut, carved, and polished the stones and the wood for beauty. You have inlaid My Temple with precious silver and gold. All these My eyes have seen, says the Lord. Your labor shall be for a name and for a remembrance, for generations to come, says your God. And now, says your God, be of great courage and of faith. Be diligent and finish that which My Spirit has shown you to build for My Name. Let not your hands tire, nor your hearts lose hope. It is a little while, then I will come and dwell in this House you have built for My glory to reside. Remember when Moses and the children of Israel finished the work of the Tabernacle, My Glory-Cloud came down and filled the Tabernacle. The day Solomon completed his work and dedicated the Temple, My Glory-Cloud came and filled the Temple. When I had finished My Atonement work and had prepared the disciples, I sent My Holy Spirit on the first fruit of the Church and they were filled with the Glory of God. Today, you are the continuation of My Temple, My Church. You are also the last generation destined for greater things, to build My last-days Temple. My Spirit marks you for a purpose; you shall complete and perfect the millennial vision of My Church. Through your hands, My work will be perfected. You shall fashion and complete the temple where My Ark will come and rest. It is this Temple My Glory will come, fill and dwell in forever. (2 Cor. 4: 1-5) Can you see and hear My Glory-Cloud coming? It is about time that it impacts the world. It is coming with power and fury. The Glory-Cloud will come and fill the Temple you have built for My Name. The entire world will see My power and My glory emanating from this Temple, says your God. Now let each of you be diligent and finish working on what I have assigned you. This shall be for a name and for a remembrance for you, for generations to come, says your God. Glory be to God © TLD, 2017 - 2025. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Teddy L. Desta and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
  24. 1 point
    Faith-oriented readers will especially love this wholesome western story of an underdog who rises above his hardships to build an unusual and large frontier family, against all odds. Now he just needs to find a wife, but the only girl he's ever loved is a wealthy, high-society banker's daughter who doesn't even know him. Author Lacy Williams has made us fall in love with young Jonas, the patriarch of the unique White family, and with Penelope, the banker's daughter from a nearby town. You won't want to put the book down until you know whether Jonas will ever succeed in finding someone who loves him as much as he truly deserves. The country around Calvin, Wyoming, comes alive under the author's pen, and you'll be ready to move there by the time you finish reading. This clean, wholesome, engaging adventure is appropriate for all ages, and it portrays matters of faith in a positive manner without being judgmental or preachy. I predict you'll be eager to move on to other books in this series, to find out what happens with all eight of Jonas White's fascinating children as they grow to adulthood and begin to establish their own homesteads and families.
  25. 1 point
    The subject of sickness and infirmities has continued to affect the Christian community. Conjectures, theories, and opinions abound with biased rhetoric. The people who are most affected by this subject are usually those who are suffering from the physical challenges in their lives. Those who are relatively healthy tend to express their opinions, based not on Biblical understanding, but on their own comfort zone. Over the years, I have heard the “pain free” people judge the suffering individuals with a callousness that has caused the afflicted to suffer even more pain. I know that the initiators of verbal assistance mean the right thing, but many times they have caused more damage than resolve. To question why a person has not been healed is to elevate themselves to the position of an interpreter of God’s will. Before we release our tongue, let us make sure what is behind our motive. Are we motivated by Grace and love or are we Christian Pharisees that try to defend our interpretation of the Scriptures without having compassion. The Bible tells us of a man named Trophimus whom Paul had left sick at a place called Miletum. (II Timothy 4:20) The question immediately arises as to why Paul had not simply laid his hands on him and healed him. Was there sin in Trophimus’s life? Did he lack the faith to be healed? Was he possessed with a demon? Was he a true Believer? Was he in a backslidden condition? Was his prayer life almost nonexistent? Was he hanging around with the wrong crowd? Was he missing worship gatherings? Had he failed to call on the elders? Had he failed to have hands laid on him? Was he anointed with oil? We don’t know much about Trophimus’s life, but we know he was a part of Paul’s missionary team. (Acts 20:4) He also had accompanied Paul to Jerusalem where he was misidentified as being in the Temple. (Acts 21:29) I doubt any true Biblicist would find any of the above questions that would fit Trophimus! I have found many wonderful, faith filled, God trusting, Jesus praising, Holy Spirit guided individuals who have entered the dimension of suffering. They have done everything Biblically required of them, yet their healing has not become a reality. What I have seen in these individuals is their unfailing love of Jesus. When I see their relationship with their Lord, it almost generates jealousy within me. They see more of Heaven than they do of earth. I believe that many sufferers are also drawn closer to Jesus because other Believers fail to bring the comfort they so dearly need. I am not about to give a dissertation as to why God-loving saints are not healed. All I know is that we are called upon to read and follow His Word. If we have done our part in achieving healing, the rest is up to God. Some of the greatest joys in life are experienced through fellowship with those experiencing life-challenging situations. You will be surprised how much you will learn and experience through the one who is suffering with a rebellious body. There is no faking their Faith, for they are living the Faith. The next time you have the courage to visit a “suffering servant” do not monopolize the conversation, but listen, for you may hear God speaking through your friend. For those who believe that healing is the only option, please be tolerant and understanding. Every Believer is answerable to the Lord and will have to give account for their spiritual walk. If you have achieved healing, rejoice! If another has not received healing, be supportive. We must never judge, for we never know all the facts. Jesus heals, but we must acknowledge there are people today like Trophimus, Epaphroditus, (Philippians 2:25-30) and Paul. (II Corinthians 12:7-10) May God grant us understanding!
  26. 1 point
    Being a Believer is more than making a Sunday appearance. A believer is a walking, talking, action figure that exemplifies Jesus on a daily basis. His behavior is not defined by emotional or circumstantial responses to the daily challenges of life. He does not spend time dwelling on the secular initiatives of the worldly. He is not fazed by negativity, for what comes out of his mouth is verbalized Scriptures. He holds up the Word of God as he faces the obstacles of life, knowing that God’s Word will not return void. (Isaiah 55:11) He looks beyond the storms and sees the rainbow. He stands on the foundation of the Word knowing that the challenges of life will never unsettle the spiritual footing upon which he has built his faith. (Matthew 7:25) His ongoing conversation with God is evidenced by his displayed vocabulary around others. The Believer’s life is so hidden in Christ that people have a hard time distinguishing his life from the life Jesus displayed when He walked the earth. He doesn’t wear a label, for his life identifies his faith. His prayer life centers on the needs of others. He is so full of compassion that he overflows with a passion to reach out to “whosoever.” There is no timidity in his life, for he knows his calling and is not ashamed of the Gospel. He does not complain but proclaims the sovereignty of God. He does not cause or add division but pursues unity. Unforgiveness is a word that has no place in his thesaurus of words, for he has learned the seventy-times-seven principle. (Matthew 18:22) The Believer loves the Lord with all his triune being (body, soul, and spirit). He stands before the world proclaiming as the Apostle Paul did, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me…” (Galatians 2:20) The question must present itself as to who is truly a representative of Jesus Christ. I am sure there are people that exemplify the nature and substance of Jesus, but it is becoming more and more difficult to identify them. When I evaluate my daily activities, I find that many times my spiritual scale is severely out of kilter. I know the Scriptures, but how to consistently translate them into God glorying actions has proven to be a very challenging undertaking. The Apostle Paul wrote about that same struggle in Romans chapter 7. We must get to the point where we stop trying to fit God around our lives and start centering our lives around Christ. We must stop majoring only on the Scriptures that contain blessings, and start recognizing the verses that train us for spiritual warfare. I love the Word, and not just the “feel good” verses, but even the chastening chapters that deal with my inconsistencies. It is hard being chastised, but the alternative of leading an inconsistent life should cause every Believer to accept His correction with a thankful heart. We all make mistakes, but no error is fatal if we learn to fall on our knees in repentance. (I John 1:9) Sometimes I feel I spend more times on my knees than I do walking in the footsteps of our Lord. Being a Believer is not a spiritual game, it is a way of life! We can go to church every Sunday and have a spiritual pep rally, but God would rather have our obedience than a ninety minute sacrifice once a week. He sees us lift up holy hands in worship, but He would rather we hold out holy hands to those who need Him. Many Christians go through their spiritual routines with little or no conviction. Believers must make every day a renewed commitment of being a blessing, rather than seeking a blessing. Let every day be a day of spiritual growth. Let us bring our mind and body under submission to His will and not our own! AMEN?
  27. 1 point
    “A little faith will bring your soul to heaven; a great faith will bring heaven to your soul.” Said Spurgeon, once. Faith and belief seemed to be very common vocabularies among believers and unbelievers alike now a days. Even my five-year-old, stomps her feet and asserts she believes, ……. There are many beliefs and presuppositions in our world, like never before. Any strange search might bring up couple of results in our search engines. Any absurd arguments, any crazy doctrine, you will find few people supporting it. However, I like to talk about this seemingly insignificant incident with a very significant message. Bible says, “many believed in His name” that is great, is in it! Wait, read on, “when they saw the signs which He did. But Jesus did not commit Himself to them” My dear believer friend, you might have faith, faith in Christ’s name, but don’t be fooled, you might have faith in Him for wrong reasons. I am not here arguing, where those supposedly believers got saved or not? Let me refrain entirely from that topic as I am not a theologian, even if were, I would still not discuss it as the real confirmation of if someone “saved or not?” is not up to us to discuss. Let’s assume there were saved, but they missed something glorious, they missed Christ committing Him to them. In another translation it says, “Jesus did not trust them.” We might live trusting Christ, even trusting Him with a saving faith. But its much more for Christ to trust us, with His work. That requires believing in Him for the right reasons. You might ask, is it wrong to enjoy God’s miracle? No, not at all!! I would never underestimate the power of a miracle. We named our sweet daughter, Nesia – means “the miracle of God.” But my friend, a miracle itself shouldn’t be the basis for our faith. Our faith may be born of a miracle from God, but it should be sustained and flourished in knowing He is, and He did……. without that, our faith may not stand a chance against the well promised trials of this life. May we develop a faith like those Hebrew boys who stood strong many thousands of years ago, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” (Daniel 2:16-18). You came to faith because of a miracle! well and good, that is many of us, but don’t be stuck there. Christ is infinitely more than some of His miracles, my friend. We trust him, very well! but let’s review our lives and examine dose He trusts us? there lays the difference between the faith that barely takes us to heaven and the faith that brings down heaven into our midst here and now, and of course forever.
  28. 1 point
    Finances are a big deal in all our lives.Yes there are many scales of finances.I like many others wish had more.I give to God and yes wish could give more evento the ministries I love to bless.I know there is people worse off then me, thats why I love to give to the ministries..I know there is people better off then me. The thing is though even though I don't do it all the time. I do believe in Malachi 3:10. "BRING THE WHOLE TITHE INTO THE STOREHOUSE,THAT THERE MAY BE FOOD IN MY HOUSE.[TEST ME IN THIS]says the LordAlmighty.AND SEE IF I WILL NOT THROW OPEN THE FLOODGATES OF HEAVEN AND POUR OUT SO MUCH BLESING THAT YOU WILL NOT HAVE ENOUGH FOR IT". God is good in all areas and I am trusting in him every day for my every need.Never doubt his word and continue to trust in God. The reason why saying this is because, I been out of work since April 2 because I injured myself at work.When I do get back to work I still have to take other days off. The bill collectors seem to know this thats when you hear from them (not when your working) [thats in my case]. I just am saying to trust in God. I don't know what God is doing in my situation but I got to trust in him and lean on my own understanding.
  29. 1 point
    The currents of discontent flow through the nooks and crevices of our society. Dams of opposition are built to stop the tides of diversity. Acceptance of each other’s opinions and beliefs has given way to rejections based upon what we are told to be true. Free thought and expression has given way to metered points of dialogue. There is so much adoption of false information that when a person is called upon to give account of what he believes, he has a hard time sharing what are his own beliefs. It used to be that people could disagree with one another in a civil manner, but today, if there is a conflict of opinions, it becomes a civil war. One of the areas of debate in our country is the issue of Gun Control. Every time there is a shooting, the Gun Control advocates “jump the gun” and claim that guns are the problem. They propose that laws be passed to limit or even ban the sale and possession of guns. There is no doubt that discussions need to take place, but it needs to be addressed with responsible minds and hearts. People need to listen with their ears, and not their eyes. Whatever the issues, let Americans address them with an open heart and mind, and be willing to share what they truly believe, instead of sharing what they have been told to believe. As our Country deals with the gun control issue, the Church needs to deal with another issue - the tongue. If there is ever a time churches need to address the issue of “Tongue Control,” it is now. The negative effects of a loose tongue have destroyed or maimed countless numbers of Christians, not to mention the negative affect that it has on those outside of the Faith. Pastors need to make tongue control a top priority. Gossip, backbiting, criticism, complaining, sarcasm, fault finding, judgement, and the like have done more damage to the Body of Christ, than practically anything else. I have witnessed Christians fleeing their church in search of a “sanctuary church” where they could be free from the “assault” tongue. James, the half-brother of Jesus, wrote in his epistle that the tongue is “unruly and evil, full of deadly poison.” (James 3:8) As one reads James chapter three, one immediately becomes cognoscente of the fact that James is addressing the words spoken by Believers that identify where they are spiritually. He wonders how someone can bless God and then curse with the same tongue. He wonders how a spring of water can have both fresh and bitter water at the same time. How can it yield both salty and fresh water? James states that “these things should not be.” (James 3:10) The uncontrolled tongue is not a respecter of persons. It can be used against other Believers, as well as identifying who they really are to the unsaved. James, writing through the tutorage of the Holy Spirit, explains that “no man can tame the tongue,” (James 3:8) so how should we address “Tongue Control?” There are many Scriptures that address this issue, but let me center on just a couple. Ask God to “Set a guard, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips.” (Psalm 141:3) One can’t tame the tongue, but a surrendered tongue can be guarded so that the uncontrolled tongue can be held in check. You can petition for Devine help by declaring, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight.” (Psalm 19:14) You can practice what James taught: “Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak…” (James 1:19) Before you open your mouth, pause and let the Holy Spirit catch up, so that what you say will flow as fresh water from the Holy Spirit River. (John 7:37, 39) Remember that “life and death are in the power of the tongue.” (Proverbs 18:21) Speak life assuring words and watch the blossoming of life grow in others around you.
  30. 1 point
    God loves us all, If for some reason your feeling Broken hearted or just not loved know this, that you are loved by someone who will never turn the other way. God loves you more than you could ever possibly imagine. His word says "He Heals the brokenhearted and binds their wonds. it also says The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. t
  31. 1 point
    When we say “My Lord”, the Lord says, “My Bride”, When we say “The Blood”, redemption sings, sighs. When we all say “Rejoice”, all is fulfilled, For earth has the Word, nothing concealed. Mystery made known, dark’s fled, Christ lights, When we say “Come!”, our hope shines bright. When we endure, salvation seals tight, Where nothing can deter our trust, our delight, As we rest in His grace and song o'er our lives.* ____________ * Zephaniah 3:17 (KJV) - The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing
  32. 1 point
    God has provided many healing promises in his word. It is up to us to reach out and grab them. Then declare that healing promice you need over your life.
  33. 1 point
    Introduction Most modern-day Christians are not aware of the Feast of Trumpets, nor have any idea what it is all about! This is also true for the other six holy days that God has ordained to be feasts and Sabbaths. If you were to go to any posting on the web you will find most references to this feast as a 'Feast of the Jew'. Saying that the Feast of Trumpets is a Jewish holiday makes the Feast of Trumpets part of the Jewish religion. Now the definition of religion is this: The belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods. Religion, in and of itself is 100% false and is man made, and not God authorized! Religion has nothing to do with the God of the universe, it is just some made up story, usually by someone wanting to gain power over the people, whomever the people are. Power is gain by showing that the controlling agent, usually called priests, has the power to manipulate the god or gods, who then uses that power to gain more power and prestige over the people. The God of the universe does not need to gain power, as He owns all that is in and on the earth, and has all the power and majesty just within His name alone! Therefore, God Supreme, Elohim, did not institute a religion when speaking with the Children of Israel, nor was it a religious ceremony when His Son married them at Mount Sinai. To complicate matters further, in ancient times, there were two ruling authorities, the legitimate ruling authority (RA), such as a king, queen, prince or princess of that land. Then there were the priest, who was a benefactor to the original RA, and to the people of the land, through their supposed control of the local god. This two tier system came into existence sometime after the 'Flood'. A competing and troubling concept to this two tier system, was the Children of Israel, who contended that there was only one God, who is the creator and ruler of all. Now we need to understand the symbiotic relationship that the RA had with the priests. The priest was an aid to the RA in that they helped keep the people in line. If the people were to get rambunctious, the priest would tell them that their god was not pleased and that that god would bring about all sorts of punishment on the people. As a consequence of their bad behavior, the priest might even deny the people entry into Valhalla, or heaven. This working in concert with the RA helped the RA maintain control of the people and in turn, the RA gave the priest wealth and authority within that kingdom. The story of Joseph having bestowed on him the second rulership of all Egypt is almost a classic example of what I am describing in regard to this two tier system of control. Each town, village, or dukedom had a god, that controlled that particular village, town of dukedom. However, the belief of one God caused the people of a particular area much grief, because the One God was the creator of all, and therefore was also the God of all god's, meaning that the God of the Children of Israel was God of the local god and therefore supreme to that god. Can you see that this belief in the one true God, would cause a great deal of animosity between the pagan peoples and the Children of Israel. Rome and the Jews During the time of Jesus, the Romans were having a great deal of trouble with the tribes of Judah, Benjamin, and Levi. These three tribes were called Jews by the Roman world as well as others outside of Rome, because Judah was the leading and controlling tribe. The term 'jew' means a 'man from Judea' but today has taken on a negative connotation, especially among Christian sects. So we had the two religious systems: 1) The pagan multiple gods, and their priests who were used to control the peoples while having riches and power granted from the ruler of the land. This system was rampant throughout all of the world, and can be seen in almost all the European, Russian, Mongolian, and Chinese nations, not to forget about South America and Mexico as well. 2) The worship of the one true God, as the Children of Israel would not accept a multiplicity of gods, and therefore stood out against almost all the world. This is one of the reasons that the Jews were hated by all the world, not to mention that the Jew was a bit of a trouble maker due to their exclusivism and a thorn in the side to all pagans within the roman sphere of influence. The Christian Era We can read in the Hebrew/Christian scriptures that after the death and resurrection of Jesus, that the Apostles as well as many disciples, when throughout the known world preaching in the name of Jesus. The main thrust of this charter to preach to the world the Good news, was mainly directed at the Lost Children of Israel. That is, the ten tribes that were taken in Assyrian captivity 137 years before Judah went into Babylonian captivity. Realize that it would have been a waste of time and effort to preach to the pagans, as they were antagonistic toward anything that would have been construed as Jewish! Now we know that Paul did preach to the pagan, however, the book of Acts is replete with stories of those who were antagonistic toward anything that sounded like being Jewish, and preaching Jesus sure was as Jewish as you can get, since He was of the tribe of Judah and the lineage of king David. It was during this time that the Greek word 'Christian' came into vogue to define this new sect of the Jews, who worshipped this man who was crucified and supposedly rose from the grave and was taken up into the heavens, with the promise to return again in the future. Most modern day Christians are not aware of the strife that existed between the Jews and the rest of the known Roman world. Even today, there is animosity between the nations (Goyim) and the Jews, with Christians believing that they are not Jewish and that their religious practices are strictly Christian practices established by Jesus, and are not to be interwoven with Jewish holidays, but in truth the Christians are dead (as in the second death) wrong. Because most if not all of their religious practices came out of the apostate church, who worked hard at separating themselves from all that was called Jewish! The apostate church In acts chapter 8:9 we are introduced to a magician by the name of Simon Magus who wants to buy the Holy Spirit from the apostles and is rejected by Simon Bar Jona (Peter) and told to go his way. We are given some information about this man named Simon, and then away he goes into biblical silence, but not into historical silence, though the apostate church has done a great deal to distance themselves from their founding father, and they in turn have stolen the identify of Simon Bar Jona and claimed that Simon Bar Jona was the one who originated that apostate church. Now I wrote a great deal about this subject in a blog entitled: Easter and Christmas versus the Seven Annual Sabbaths. The apostate church had to separate itself from Judaism Simon Magus, and not Simon Bar Jona, was quite clever, he wanted the power that was associated with the Holy Spirit, while also wanting to become a religious leader to the Romans. As mentioned above, this affiliation with the king of the land had with it a great deal of power, and riches, but there was a problem. Simon decided to form a syncretic church, one that spoke about this Jesus, and pretended to honor and worship Him, but how to do this while not appearing to be Jewish. At the time of Simon, the Romans were tolerate of various religions, mostly because there was little difference between the gods of the Greeks as opposed to the gods of the Romans, or the rest of the world for that matter. so religious tolerance was no big deal to the Romans. Just keep your god to yourself and we are good! But the Jews worshipped the one true God, and they hated Roman rulership. The Jews wanted to be free of Roman rule, and the rule of the Herod's as well. So how did Simon Magus overcome this roman distrust of the Jews? By throwing out the Sabbath, and bringing in the day of the Sun, as a suitable substitute, and called it the Lord's day. Changing the Passover, to Easter though the use of cleverly disguised lies, saying that the day that Jesus came to Jerusalem riding on a Donkey was a 'Palm Sunday' when it fact it was the 10th day of the first month, and the day that the Jews were to select a Passover lamb, "Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying: On the tenth of this month every man shall take for himself a lamb, according to the house of his father, a lamb for a household. And if the household is too small for the lamb, let him and his neighbor next to his house take it according to the number of the persons; according to each man's need you shall make your count for the lamb. Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats. Now you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month". (Exodus 12:3-6) This 10th day of the first month for that particular year was a Sabbath and not a Sunday. "Then, six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was who had been dead..." (John 12:1) The Passover always falls on the 14th day of the first month, so if this was six days before the Passover, then the day that Jesus came to Bethany had to be the ninth day of the month. Now watch this: The next day a great multitude that had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him, and cried out: Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! The King of Israel! (John 12:12) Notice, that it is the next day, Which is now the 10th day of the month. If you were to include this 10th day then there are five days until the Passover, however, since the 10th day was already in progress, then there were four days left until the Passover, the 14th day of the first month. The apostate church says that the day that Jesus came to Jerusalem was on a Sunday or 'Palm Sunday'! Then they cleverly count six days until Friday, saying that that Friday was the Passover, so as to support the Easter Sunday resurrection. However, this can not be so because there where now four days left, and if this day were a Sunday, then Wednesday is the Passover and not Friday! John 12:12 clearly shows that an Easter Sunday resurrection is a lie, clearly showing that the apostate church teaches falsely and is the father of anti-Judaism. To continue, they threw out the Seven Annual Convocations/Sabbaths, telling their parishioners that these days were done away with by the death of Jesus! Therefore, when the Romans looked at this new religion, they were pleased, because it looked and smelled just like what they were used to, even though it had these man Jesus as its central God and figure head. While there was a smattering of Judaism, there was enough paganism to make the Romans happy. So happy, that when Rome fell at the hands of the Visigoths in 410A.D. the Apostate church took over from the Romans and instituted the Holy Roman church. This church was to become the central authority and would rule with the kings and rulers of Europe and the Russia's for many years to come. In the 1600's a priest by the name of Martin Luther began a reformation of this apostate church. He gathered many followers and they became known as Protestants because they were protesting the rule of the apostates churches leadership as well as its practices of selling indulgences, a form of legalized thievery. These protestants or protesting Catholics have accepted the teachings of the apostate church and have even added a couple of lies to the sycophancy of lies told especially about the seven annual holy days, that modern scholars call Jewish holidays, when it fact Judah never gave these holy days to his sons and daughters. But God the Father, through the office of the Word, gave these days to the Children of Israel along with the Seventh Day Sabbath. Now a Protesting Catholic will say they keep Sunday as the day of the Lord and they will use all sorts of lies and unintelligent reasons to justify Sunday worship, but unfortunately these are just lies and fables, given to them through the apostate church, and surprisingly, these protesting Catholics are very learned of the scriptures, but they just can not see the forest for the trees. They profess Jesus as their Lord and Savior, but deny the simple fact that He was the Word of God before He was Jesus, and as the Word of God, He gave the 10 commandments to the Children of Israel on His Fathers behalf. So the Sabbath comes directly from the one true God, and Sunday comes from the leader of the apostate church, yet the Protesting Catholics as well as Catholics refuse to honor and obey the God of this universe, instead they pay homage to a long dead magician! The Feast of Trumpets, what is it all about? When I began to write this blog, I decided to go on the web and see what the prevailing understanding was of the Feast of Trumpets, and that is that the Feast of Trumpets represents to the Sunday keeping world, the so-called Rapture! This Rapture is a misunderstanding of Revelations and 2nd Thessalonians, which is understandable due to the fact that most Protesting Catholics really do not understand scripture as the do not obey God and His Messiah, as they give God lip service and pollute His word with many false beliefs that is going to be the subject of my next book: The False Teachings of Christianity! This does not mean that all of Christianity's teaching are false, however, there are many false teachings that it is no wonder that people are leaving the hell fire churches and going to the feel good congregations. However, it is my intent to show that one of the prevalent teachings of the apostate and protesting Catholic churches is that the Feast of Trumpets is a Jewish holiday. Not so, the Feast of Trumpets is also a Christian holiday, just as the other six holy days, that were given to the Children of Israel by God the Father, and in turn was given to all peoples throughout all the world regardless of their religious beliefs. Why is the Fest of Trumpets a Christian holiday as well as a special holiday to all the world? Because the beginning of the blowing of the first trumpet until the last trumpet, tells the world that the arrival of the Christ, and His triumphant return is on its way! The beginning of the Feast of Trumpets herald in the Return of the Christ. In telling Israel that they were to have a Sabbath and a blowing of trumpets (Hebrew: Shofar) God was in fact eluding to the eventually writings of the Book of Revelation and the story of the seven trumpets. "When He opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and to them were given seven trumpets. Then another angel, having a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God from the angel's hand. Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and threw it to the earth. And there were noises, thundering's, lightning's, and an earthquake. So the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound" (Rev 8:1 - 10) This seventh seal is the next to the last seal of the great scroll that had begun to be opened in Revelations 5:1 and when these seven trumpets begin to sound, the return of Jesus as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords has begun and will not end until He has taken over the earth from Satan and all his minions. So you see there Mr. and Ms. Protesting Catholic, and you Catholics as well, that the Feast of Trumpets is not for the Jews only, not on your tin type Nelly! It is also for the Christian as well as the Muslim, Hindu, and the Druid, for when Jesus returns He will not be the God of the Christian only, No! He will be the god of all peoples, tongues, and nations. And because there are seven trumpets, God says that there will be a feast of trumpets, and in doing so is having a bit of fun with us, in that during the time of the blowing of these trumpets man is going to have his fill and will be sick because of these trumpets and the plagues that they bring. This is very reminiscent of the incident of the Quail and what happen at Kibroth Hattaavah,. "While the meat was still between their teeth, before it was chewed, the wrath of the Lord was aroused against the people, and the Lord struck the people with a very great plague." (Numbers 11:33). So lets look at the list of each of the seven trumpets or plagues: Vegetation is struck The sea is struck The water is struck The heavens are struck The Locust from the bottomless pit The four Demons who are bound at the river Euphrates are released And the seventh angel sounds: 7. Saints meet Jesus somewhere between the earth and the fourth heaven! And they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. (Matt 24:31). Then Jesus and His bride return to the throne room to meet God the Father, and have the wedding supper (Matt 22:1-10). After all has been accomplished, Jesus will mount His white horse, place on the robe dipped in blood and begin the movement toward the earth. And as He goes so does His bride, for she shall be with Him always and go where he goes. upon arriving on the earth, Jesus steps down on the Mount of Olives, in the exact same spot from where He left the earth, those 2,000 years ago! There is no battle of Armageddon! Regarding the battle of Armageddon, there is no such battle, This is another of those tails that are just plain false. The armies of the Beast 'STAGE' or gathered there. Staging is a military term that means a place of bivouac. That is a place to rest and gather forces, to train up, and to get new men/women to fill in the ranks, I.E. England was a staging area for the US Army before moving to France for the 'D' Day invasion "For they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty... And they gathered them together to the place called in Hebrew, Armageddon". (Rev 16:14-16). Now regarding that battle of that great day of God Almighty, you should understand that this battle takes place in the Valley of Jehoshaphat which is also called the Valley of Decision! This is where the battle of that Great day of God Almighty is to take place, and that is not in or near Armegeddon "For behold, in those days and at that time, When I bring back the captives of Judah and Jerusalem, I will also gather all nations, And bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat; And I will enter into judgment with them there On account of My people, My heritage Israel, Whom they have scattered among the nations; They have also divided up My land. They have cast lots for My people, Have given a boy as payment for a harlot, And sold a girl for wine, that they may drink. Indeed, what have you to do with Me, O Tyre and Sidon, and all the coasts of Philistia? Will you retaliate against Me? But if you retaliate against Me, Swiftly and speedily I will return your retaliation upon your own head; Because you have taken My silver and My gold, And have carried into your temples My prized possessions. Also the people of Judah and the people of Jerusalem You have sold to the Greeks, That you may remove them far from their borders. Behold, I will raise them Out of the place to which you have sold them, And will return your retaliation upon your own head. I will sell your sons and your daughters Into the hand of the people of Judah, And they will sell them to the Sabeans, To a people far off; For the Lord has spoken. Proclaim this among the nations: Prepare for war! Wake up the mighty men, Let all the men of war draw near, Let them come up. Beat your plowshares into swords And your pruning hooks into spears; Let the weak say, I am strong. Assemble and come, all you nations, And gather together all around. Cause Your mighty ones to go down there, O Lord. Let the nations be wakened, and come up to the Valley of Jehoshaphat; For there I will sit to judge all the surrounding nations. Put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come, go down; For the winepress is full, The vats overflow For their wickedness is great. Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision. The sun and moon will grow dark, And the stars will diminish their brightness. The Lord also will roar from Zion, And utter His voice from Jerusalem; The heavens and earth will shake; But the Lord will be a shelter for His people, And the strength of the children of Israel. So you shall know that I am the Lord your God, Dwelling in Zion My holy mountain. Then Jerusalem shall be holy, And no aliens shall ever pass through her again" (Joel 3:1 - 17). This valley of Jehoshaphat, or Valley of Decision is actually in the Kiddron Valley outside of where the Dome of the Rock and where the Temple once stood, and separates Mount Mariah from the Mount of Olives, and seems more in keeping with the fact that Jesus touches down on the Mount of Olives and then goes to Jerusalem to begin His rulership there. Along the way He and His angelic host encounter the army of the Beast and destroy that army, then go to Jerusalem to be crowned King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Now notice, that all of this, that is the return of Jesus, His arriving on the Mount of Olives, and His beginning rulership of all the world from Jerusalem, all began when the first angel began to blow his trumpet, then continuing on until the last angel sounds and the world has had a Feast of Trumpets, and Jesus has now returned and the world wil enter into the 1000 years of peace called the Millennium! Restoring the truth to Christianity! Is the Feast of Trumpets a Jewish holiday, no, it is not! Are Christians to celebrate the Feast of Trumpets? yes they should as it pertains to them as well as it pertaining to all the peoples of this earth. Can you as a member of your church teach that the Feast of Trumpets is for Catholics, Protesting Catholics, as well as the Jews? Yes you can, by explaining to you priest, or elder that the Feast of Trumpets is the beginning and the return of Messiah, as well as the gathering of the saints to meet Jesus in the air. You can help get the truth to the professing Christian world and help restore the truth of Gods word to humanity! Peter Please let me know how you feel about what has been written here! Leave me a message on Facebook or at peterbellone.net. Thank you for taking the time to read this blog!
  34. 1 point
    God's Word is Positive. Give him all thanks and praises for what he is doing in your life.
  35. 1 point
    In 1944, I was chosen to be part of a family to which I had no biological or genetic ties. From rejection to acceptance, I was adopted into a loving family. My birth to the self-realization of whom I was and to whom I belonged brought a sense of security and purpose in life. It was through my parents love, devotion, and commitment to God that enabled them to take a day old baby and bring him up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. It was through their unwavering faith and discipline that I became who I am today. Godly parents are the conduit by which God’s Word flows into the child. The spiritual welfare of a child is directly correlated to the involvement of the parents. (Proverbs 22:6) Through the relentless prayers and teachings of my mother and father, I experienced God’s love. My horizontal adoption paved the way to another adoption which transcended everything that I had ever experienced. GOD WANTED TO ADOPT ME! No matter how wonderful my life had become, there was a “sin seed” within me that, if not eradicated, could be fatal. Through God’s love, He sent His Son to pay the penalty for my sins. He asked me if I would accept Jesus’ finished work and accept Him, not only as my Savior, but as my Lord. If I acknowledged my sin and asked for forgiveness, the “Adoption” would be final. Needless to say, I accepted His offer. This vertical adoption brought my life into a whole new dimension. The horizontal adoption offered a life of visible variables, while the vertical adoption offered a life of faithful assurances. My parents taught me the principles of life, while God revealed how to have a principled life. My parents surrounded me with love, while God revealed His love. My parents taught me through the tangibles, while God taught me through the intangibles. My parents showed me the obvious, while God showed me the reality of what faith could produce. As happy as I am for being physically adopted, I cannot help being overwhelmed by my spiritual adoption. To call God my Father fills me with unspeakable joy. Words cannot express the joy that fills my heart when I think of the eternal family of which I am a part. The Spirit of adoption (Romans 8:15) has caused all fear, anxiety, depression, worry, doubt, anguish, and all negatives of life to vacate my reasoning mind. FEAR comes through the EAR. If Satan can funnel his action words through our ears, he knows it will not be long before we center our attention on what is heard. Believers need spiritual hearing aids that will cancel out the background noise so we can hear Jesus loud and clear. During my growth pattern as a horizontal adoptee, I learned the importance of expressing my gratitude to my parents for all they had done and were doing in my life. Now that they are gone, all I have is my memory bank that is filled with good memories. (If your parents are still alive, treasure the moments together, for the time will come when you will no longer have them.) As a vertical adoptee, my relationship with my Heavenly Father is never ending! I praise Him daily for what He has done, and is doing, and will continue to do in my life! The God of creation is my Father who adopted me through the sacrifice of Jesus. WOW!!!
  36. 1 point
    (after reading Acts 9:1-31) He came to Damascus, to Straight Street to ask us, "Do you follow the Christ?" Thus Paul became an apostle, appointed to jostle us further from a slumber of lies. Truth is we did not consider grace so strong that Messiah could speak to such kind. But as we, too, were pursued with wills which God slew, scales still fall, grace touches our eyes. The Church sees harassment down to this day, Christ still says, "Why this to me?" We must speak to pursuers, "Do you chase the Ruler?" Pray Jesus so speaks, they receive. Christ daily walks through Straight Street, calls us to stand strong and confess, "We believe!"
  37. 1 point
    Five years ago, while a graduate student at Cambridge University, Michal Kosinski showed how even benign activity on Face Book could reveal personality traits – a discovery that was later exploited by the data analytics firm that helped get Donald Trump into the White House. More recently, he has shown how face-analysing algorithms could distinguish between photographs of gay and straight individuals. As well as sexuality, Kosinski believes this technology could be used to detect emotions, IQ, and even a predisposition to commit certain crimes. See the Guardian, https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/jul/07/artificial-intelligence-can-tell-your-sexuality-politics-surveillance-paul-lewis These findings constitute another thread in the rich and wondrous tapestry that is the future of Humanity - the day after tomorrow. It is a terrifying future, for with each of these threads being woven into the tapestry of our future, we move closer to a day when freedom of will, freedom of action, and freedom from intensive surveillance by the state, will have become greatly diminished. In Britain today, it is so far only people claiming social security payments who are beginning to experience a tangible threat to some of these freedoms. In order to qualify for financial help from social security, they perforce give up some of their freedom: they lose the right to move home (unless they are willing to lose their benefits); they lose the right to have a friend or family member stay with them for more than three weeks (unless they are prepared to run the risk of their benefits being re-evaluated, reduced, and/or cancelled); they lose the right to save up money, via dint of huge personal sacrifices and self denial, from their benefits-based incomes, to fund a short holiday abroad: if found out in that action, their social security payments are in grave danger of being terminated. Some social security claimants have already had their personal data provided to at least one of the big supermarket chains by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP): the supermarket chain then tracks and records their purchases when they shop within one of its outlets, and provides the DWP with data on their shopping purchases, as part of the vast amount of resources the DWP spends on tracking down so-called benefits fraudsters. (Would that the Tory government spent even one tenth as much time and money on tracking down and bringing to account mega-rich tax avoiders). Sick and disabled people in receipt of social security benefits run the risk of the DWP installing closed circuit TV in some handy location (such as a compliant neighbour's home, possibly the same neighbour who first makes the DWP aware that he thinks that poor Joe Bloggs is a benefits fraudster) in order to surveille his activities and find him out in some activity that will disqualify him from receipt of one or more of the benefits he is entitled to, and render him liable to criminal charges for benefits fraud. This sort of ever present threat to the individual's well-being, and sense of personal privacy and material security, will in time inevitably be extended, via the sort of psycho-technology under discussion on this page, and other similar devil's workshop psycho-technological and surveillance technology advances, to general members of the public. Its use will be sold to them as necessary tools to "enhance their security; to "keep them safe" (from being blown up by ISIS). The general public, possessed of a collective gullibility and ignobility of spirit, along with an individual timidity, that no longer astonishes, but still dismays, me, will be eager to co-operate in the stripping away of its rights and freedoms. There will be posts appearing on online forums of the nature "If you've nothing to hide, you've nothing to fear" from the sublimely unimaginative and servile, to whom all manifestations of an all-powerful authority are proof merely that all is well in the world. As to human, rather than technological, facial recognition of characteristics and inclinations: only a minority of the public can still recognise a right villain when it spots one, by his features and his body language alone. If this were not the case, populist would-be and actual dictators, such as Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan, would face much more opposition. And some of us will have had our initial take on a person's sexual orientation confirmed at some later stage, or on receipt of further knowledge, on a surprising number of occasions. We are not always right; we are more often wrong; but we can and do recognise certain "facial signals" (and I'm not talking about being winked at in a bar late at night). However, most of us have no particular prejudice against people of any one particular sexual orientation, and so we are prepared to discount our gut-recognition as either incorrect, or (and this is the more admirable response): irrelevant. And so the world keeps turning. But once the world that Michal Kosinski shows is possible, has become a reality, there will be no room left for the enlightened contribution of the human spirit: the Nightmare** will have taken flesh. ** AKA known as “The Devil”. www.rabbiedeoir.com
  38. 1 point
    CROSSING BORDERS In our zeal to interpret Scripture we have crossed “borders” seeking a fuller life. We have taken Scripture from its rightful placement and occupied its content with the hope of a spiritual benefit. When reading the Epistles, we must make sure who they were being addressed to, and what was the main purpose. To take a verse or chapter out of its context is to open the door to potential actions that may lead to disappointment and discouragement. I cannot stress enough that reading the Scripture without Holy Spirit guidance will dilute the Word from dynamic power to a “sparkler” effect. Some people have a regimented routine in which they read with the objective of going through the Bible in a year. The question is how much do they learn? I knew a person who read the Bible through over seventy times, but when it came to sharing meaningful content with someone, there was a noticeable muteness. I have always stressed the importance of reading the Word, but it is not to be evidenced by how much is read, but by the quality of one’s understanding. One of the methods of Bible study is by SUBJECT. Here a topic is chosen and then a cross reference is conducted. We then gather all the Scriptures and come to a point of action. The problem is that we fail to see the context in which each Scripture is used. The Word of God will never contradict itself, but the applications will vary. Understand the setting of a verse and then see how that will apply in your situation. When Peter saw the fig tree that Jesus had cursed, he responded with an emphasized response, “Look, the fig tree that you cursed has withered.” Jesus took that situation and turned it into a teaching experience. He basically told Peter to have “faith in God.” If he did so, he could cast mountains into the sea if he did not doubt and believed in what he was saying. Jesus then elaborated by telling him that whatever things he desired, when he prayed, he could have if he believed. (Mark 11:23, 24) Jesus was equipping Peter for the role he would be playing after Jesus’ ascension. In fact, He specifically listed five authoritative actions that His men would display. (Mark 16:15-18) The ending of the fig tree experience is usually ignored by “subject studiers.” While praying and believing for a miracle, we are to pray, forgiving those who have hurt us, for if we don’t forgive, God will not forgive our misdeeds. (Mark 11:25, 26) Many Believers love verses 23 and 24, but ignore verses 25 and 26. We must understand that each verse of Scripture must be taken in its correct context. The Faith thread will flow through the Word of God, but trying to make a tapestry from selective passages will result in a confusing picture. Before you begin to open the “Treasure Chest” of God’s truth, you need to pray and ask the Holy Spirit for direction and guidance. Bible study is not by random selection, but is an ordered experience. When you are led to a certain Scripture, stay in that Epistle or book until you understand what the Holy Spirit is showing you. Do not speed-read the Word as you may miss important truths. Do not look for hidden meanings, for His Word is open and clear. Do not look for other books to help you understand The Book, for you may end up endorsing someone else’s doctrine. The Bible is your guidebook through life. Learn how to read and appreciate it, for it is God’s Word to you!
  39. 1 point
    “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21, NIV). Trading is part of the human experience. From an early age, we learn the art of the deal. Trades occur daily across elementary school lunch tables where bags of potato chips are exchanged for chocolate chip cookies. Playgrounds become swap meets with the currency of toys and baseball cards. As adults, we trade-in cars, and we trade-out furniture. Then, of course, there’s the stock market and day trading. The Apostle Paul speaks of a trade that took place some two-thousand years ago at the trading post of the cross, where Jesus endured the consequences of our sin so that we could receive the undeserved reward of salvation. Theologians throughout history have referred to this pivotal event as “The Great Exchange”. Just imagine, Jesus, the personification of holiness and perfection, becoming sin incarnate on the cross. Within his flesh, Jesus possessed the sins of the world and literally carried them all to the grave. Because of this single act, each of us is declared righteous and holy regardless of the wrongs we have done. Our sin has been washed in the blood of Christ, buried in a borrowed tomb, and we are given the prize of Heaven. There will always be trades that are made. None, however, will match the one Jesus made for mankind at the cross. Through this exchange, we are declared forgiven and free.
  40. 1 point
    There is nothing so invigorating as a good bike ride. Recently, I’ve gotten much more serious about it, going four to six times a week from late spring to early fall for an 18-23 mile trek through our town. I was always a biking enthusiast; however, my problem is that no one remembered to tell my aging body this important news. Actually, I started riding again because I love the wind in my hair and the exhilaration of my heart pumping as I race along. Let me assure you; the fact that I had gained a few pounds had absolutely nothing to do with it. But, the more I got back into it, the longer I found I was riding. More riding meant more time to think and so I decided I’d pen a few of the more sober and spiritual thoughts that have occurred to me during these rides. I was thinking about something a young girl once asked me. She wanted to know how I speak to God, or more precisely, how I listen to what God wants to tell me. I kept thinking about it for some time after that and so, each day when I took my ride, I decided to stay open to whatever God might want to tell me during that particular ride. And as I asked, so did I receive. These daily excursions taught me a lot about what journeying with God is all about. I began my reintroduction to biking by traveling on the streets I knew. We often do that – start off on the journey by keeping to the familiar paths. Our fear of unknown – which really amounts to a fear of failure and fear of pain – tends to keep us on the path that feels safe. But, as I ventured onto new streets, it reminded me that being Christian means talking the risk to go to new places where God is leading us. We can’t really be effective in our walk until we get beyond the feeling that our journey is supposed to be a safe one. I remember one morning, probably the second day I resumed riding, when I came to a steep hill. Rather than braving it in the lowest gear possible or getting off and walking the bike up the incline – which no real “biking enthusiast” would ever do – I decided to turn down a street just before the hill began to climb. I admit I felt a bit guilty for being so out of shape, and I was left wondering whether I would have made it had I tried. There have been times in my life when I was afraid to take on the steep challenges that were before me. Sometimes it was because I simply wasn’t ready and God wanted me to go a different route to reach the same destination; other times I think I was just too full of pride to slow down and go back to walking. These experiences taught me the importance of spiritual preparation and daily training in the faith as an essential part of going the distance. It was a hard lesson to learn, but the sad reality is this – any time I gave in to the easy way, I knew I had to surrender to a challenge that was never met. As I chose to go down new streets, there were times when I would approach a dead end road. Often I would see the signs from far off but still feel compelled to continue on the road. Sometimes there would be another road that would allow me to continue my journey before I reached the dead end and other times I was forced to turn around. You know, I never felt awkward about taking a wrong turn; I knew there was always a way out and a new direction to go. It brought to mind the times I had wandered into sin or followed a direction that would lead me to a dead end in my walk of faith. And each time I saw the same loving God right there beside me, never condemning me for my mistakes, but always, always offering a new way to take me out of my dead end choices. Now an interesting thing happened one day. I was riding along and peddled past a yard with a lawn sprinkler moving lazily back and forth between the house and the road. As I went past it, the water was shooting out onto the street. Even though I was hot, I swerved around the water and kept on going. Immediately I thought about how God often provides cool refreshment in the midst of life’s scorching desert days, and how we often miss His refreshment because we are focused on the road ahead or too proud to accept His kindnesses. I can assure you that after that experience, I made sure to zip through any cool spots that came up in the road ahead as a refreshing reminder of that incredible truth. As I rode around each day, I would inevitably come to a place where I had to make a decision to turn left or right. One day, I looked up at the road sign on my right, which read, “Mountain Road.” Hmm. Not good, I thought. Still, I decided this time to take the challenge and went up the hill to the right. Surprisingly enough, the road turned out to be more of a slight incline than anything else. At one point I was even able to turn down a street on my left and coast for a while. Now coasting is always fun, because gravity does all the work and I get the thrill of a little speed instead of a slow steady ride. The twists and turns of life, the uphill battles, the times we can coast – it is all a matter of making a decision and then riding out the road wherever it takes us. Sometimes I have no idea if I should choose one direction for my life over another. I worry that I’ll make the wrong choice and miss an opportunity that God has to offer me. It can be paralyzing to think that making a wrong choice might lead to dire consequences. But that isn’t how our Lord works. Just as I find a new adventure and a new insight no matter which direction I choose on my ride, so too will God work all things out to the good for the ones who have chosen Him. In the end, I know that ultimately God is in control and will take care of me on my journey. I take comfort in the fact that if I’ve spent time in preparation, by staying in His Word, praying with an open spirit and listening to Him speak all around me, I know I’ll have all the wisdom I need to make the right choice and to courage to take the steps to get from here to there. Now another time on my ride, I came to a main road and wanted to cross over it to the other side, but found that the traffic was too heavy. Just when it would clear up on the left side, there would be cars zooming up on the right. At first, I was upset at having to wait for such a long time, but then I realized that waiting gave me a chance to get a drink and to rest my leg muscles. And when there was a break in the traffic, I had the energy to take off and get right back into the journey. So many times I’ve seen the obstacles of my life as hindrances to progress, when all the while, God was slowing me down and giving me time to rest, refresh and consider my next steps. It was only at the end of each time of resting, when the obstacles were removed – or I found a new way to deal with them – that I was able to see the reasons for God allowing them in the first place. There did end up being a killer hill – one that left me no choice but to get off the bike and walk up in total humiliation and shame. Three quarters of the way up the hill, I saw a sign for “Brookview Road.” I decided that a ride alongside a brook might be nice and made a right turn. Well, there was no brook in sight and all this road did was to lead me down some more streets that seemed to take me nowhere. While I thought I was going to have an enjoyable experience, I simply rode in a huge circle and ended up just a little further down the road from where I would have been had I not turned. It did, however, keep me from having to cross over a busier intersection where cars turn onto and off of the highway. And since the purpose of the bike ride was for exercise…excuse me – to feel the wind in my hair – it didn’t really matter that I had to go the long way around. It helped to reinforce the idea that God is consistent and sovereign and knows how to take our self-centered choices and redirect them for his purpose and direction, often sparing us from dangers we might not even have comprehended along the way. One of the most interesting things I did on my ride was to pick up objects discarded along the road. I was asked to substitute for the pastor of my church and wanted to prepare a sermon illustration. I decided to stop whenever the Spirit moved me to pick up a certain object. I picked up an old pair of broken glasses, some rubber tubing, a crushed soda can, and many other “useless” items. When I got home, I took those pieces of trash and turned them into a sculpture. I admit it wasn’t anything that would allow me to retire in comfort, but when it was finished, my creation was a perfect illustration of what God does for all of us. Each of us who believe has been like a discarded piece of garbage that was found by a loving God who has been able to shape us into something brand new! While the world may look at each of us as useless or unworthy, God sees just exactly how we fit into His vast eternal plan! Day after day, in order to keep biking trips interesting, I would seek out a new way to go: through the center of town one day, out to the airport the next; sometimes just taking a leisurely ride along the nearby bike path on those lazy days. I figured that after a couple weeks, I would run out of places to go and start to get bored, but I was wrong. When I went out boldly, seeking to go wherever a new path took me, I found that the little town I live in had an awful lot of journeys packed into it. No matter how many days I went out, the journey was always new and interesting. It left me wanting to take that approach to my daily walk with the Lord – seeing each new day as another small journey, full of opportunities for excitement and learning, with no day like any other and none ever worth throwing away. A truly blessed part of these rides was when things finally started to look familiar again and I found I had completed the bulk of the journey. It always felt good to be heading home. It wasn’t without its temptations, however, as many times I passed a local diner serving a sausage and egg breakfast sandwich or the ice cream place near the airport where I swear I could hear a double-dip chocolate peanut butter cone calling my name. Now I know that to stop and indulge myself would defeat the purpose of going on a bike ride in the first place – but OH – was it so tempting! I’m proud to say that I pressed on and soon found I had made it past the place of forbidden food and was on my way back on the road to my destination, my goal – my home! I knew I had a prize waiting for me there – my beautiful wife and my beautiful children, and their smiles were food enough for me! Okay, I admit it – I would end up having a big bowl of fiber or something equally healthy to take care of the other hunger inside me, but I saw it as temptation properly redirected and satisfied. Like physical hunger, there are also spiritual temptations along the road of life. Satan tries his best to get us to stray from the path by offering us things that appeal to our senses and our needs, but ultimately they don’t satisfy. Only one thing truly does – living out our lives in the love of the God and pressing ever onward to win the prize that He has in store for all His children. And though it often seems that we can only see the worth of our journeys when we reach the end of them, it has been a joy to come to know the pleasure in the journey itself as well. These days, my schedule has changed somewhat, but I still try to keep up with my riding when the weather is nice. I admit the discipline is good for my body and my soul, even though the sight of me afterwards is not always so good for my family. But there is so much God has to say to me in those quiet times out on the open road. I’m so grateful for that simple question from that young girl. I don’t know if I would have been so focused had she not given me something to think about. There are just too many things we take for granted on our life journeys and once the journey is past, we can never go back and claim what was lost. I’ve learned that every moment of our existence has been ordained and blessed by our heavenly Father. While events in our lives may seem random and without purpose, we need to realize that it’s all in the Father’s hands, and in the end, we’ll understand what the journey has been all about. I pray that your journeys and mine will be full of joy and purpose, and that we will press ever onward to the end of all our journeys in eternity!
  41. 1 point
    By Victor Remes “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6 NKJV Faith plays a very important part in our daily walk with Christ. Like it says in the verse above “But without faith it is impossible to please Him”. Like some of use going to the gym to train our bodies to lose weight and gain muscles. It’s also the same with our faith system we need to train our faith every day to lose unnecessary weight and build more of those spiritual muscles. But to do this we will need to find out what faith is. Well there is two ways of finding what faith is and we can find that in the Dictionary and in the bible. Dictionary definition of faith is: “Complete trust or confidence in someone or something” Bible definition of faith is: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1 NKJV These two definitions are pretty much self-explanatory. But I will put it this way; “To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary.” “So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.” Matthew 17:20 NKJV Just as Jesus said having faith just as small as a mustard seed is enough faith to move a mountain. So imagine having faith as big as a mountain, or an elephant, or a tank or as big as the Eiffel Tower. You get what I mean. We need faith in our lives especially in our walk with God. But personally I know this and I know you all have experienced this as well; We can also lose faith. We can lose faith when things don't turn out the way we want it or when we experience some of life's monumental failures. Personally speaking when this happens to me I tend to overthink many negative things; thinking a load of unnecessary stuff questioning life itself, but that is just for that moment. But I want you to notice what I’m about to say next. I start reading my bible; reading verses that were a reminder. The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?' Psalms 118:6 NKJV 'Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.' Isaiah 41:10 NKJV 'For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.' Jeremiah 29:11 NKJV Above are some example verses that I use to get my faith back on track. There are many ways to build your faith and even ways to get back on track after losing some faith. Praise and Worshiping in my car on my way to work is one of the many examples I would be singing to Tasha Cobbs and trying to bust some moves while all the other drivers are just sitting there thinking I must be high lol. But just by doing that nearly every day my faith keeps growing and will continue to grow. I want to leave you with this keep growing, keep praising God, keep trusting Him, when life gets hard be patient and trust in his timing; and you will see the deliverance God will bring into your life. 'They will fight against you, But they shall not prevail against you. For I am with you,” says the Lord , “to deliver you.”' Jeremiah 1:19 NKJV More of our posts: https://pathofwarriors.wordpress.com/
  42. 1 point
    The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) and the Sermon on the Plain (Luke 6) are often looked at as one event recorded in two Gospels. Matthew’s account goes into greater detail, while Luke presents a limited discourse. But on careful study, one will see a distinct difference between the two accounts. The settings of the teachings give evidence of geographical locations that are obvious to the reader. Matthew records Jesus’ teachings on a mountain, while Luke emphasizes a plain in the shadow of a mountain. Matthew tells us there were a considerable number of disciples that came to Jesus to hear His teaching. It seems this was a thinning out of prospective applicants for the ministry of an Apostle. Some time later, Jesus went once again up into a mountain, and after a night of praying, chose twelve men to become His “inner circle.” After His selection, He descended from the mountain with His Apostles and addressed the multitude of people that had assembled from all over Judea to hear Him speak. In Matthew, Jesus actually was teaching an introductory class on ministry. In Luke, Jesus is sharing the Word with the general population. As one studies the Sermon on the Mount one will see the importance of selecting men who would be an asset to Jesus’ ministry. Ineffective ministries are directly related to ineffective ministers. Jesus began His teaching by defining whom they would be engaging. “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” All the Beatitudes identify the needs of the seekers whom they would encounter. Jesus pointed out that there would be opposition to their teaching, but they should rejoice for there would be a Heavenly award awaiting them. He told them they are to be the salt and light of the world. He told them that He came to fulfill the Law, not to replace it. He stressed the importance of practicing what they taught. He told them their righteousness must be greater than the righteousness of the Pharisees. An Apostle would not speak with anger toward another person. If they owed past debts, they were to take care of them immediately. He told them to be on guard against sexual temptations, initiated by wandering eyes that could lead to impure thoughts and eventually sinful actions. If they are married, never seek a way out of their marriage. He told them that their word was all that was necessary when it came to making promises. He told them to be willing to respond positively to the challenges from others. He told them to love their enemies. Whatever they gave to others, they were to do it anonymously, and God would bless them outwardly. They were not to make long, flowery prayers, for God already knew what their need was. Fast without doing it for show. Don’t make money a goal in life, for you cannot serve two masters. Be careful what you set your eyes on, for it will influence your life. He told them not to worry, that God would take care of all their needs. They were not to judge one another. He told them by asking, seeking, and knocking they would achieve results. The way to serving Him was a very narrow way and few of the applicants would succeed in being called. He told the potential candidates that there would be false prophets, but they would be able to recognize them by the fruit they displayed. He pointed out that some will claim they are called to be ministers, but Jesus would say He never knew them. Finally, Jesus told them if they obeyed His teachings they would be able to survive any storm that came their way. I wonder how many spiritual leaders today meet the criteria that Jesus laid out in the Sermon on the Mount! The Sermon on the Plain was an illustration for the Apostles on how they were to share Jesus’ teachings. He starts out by addressing the people specifically. “Blessed are you poor.” He lists four beatitudes which spoke to their needs. He addresses the Pharisees and religious hypocrites who were scattered among the multitude with four Woes. He tells the seekers to love their enemies and not to judge. He stresses the importance of bearing good fruit. He closes by telling them it is more than giving Him lip service; it is hearing and doing what He says. There would be challenges to their spiritual walk, but by obeying His word they would not be moved. May God grant us understanding to the intent of His Word!
  43. 1 point
    “Then Jesus told them this parable: ‘Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?’ ” (Luke 15:3-4, NIV). Jesus was a masterful storyteller. He once told the story of a wayward sheep and its shepherd. According to the parable, the shepherd was willing to leave the rest of his flock to search for the one sheep that was lost. And when he found it… well, when he found it, there was a party! Jesus’ parable of the lost sheep reminds me of another group of shepherds living in Bible times. They were keeping watch over their flock on the outskirts of Bethlehem that first Christmas night. An angel appeared to them, sharing the good news of the infant Messiah who had just been born in a Bethlehem manger. The shepherds, of course, could hardly wait to make the short trip to see the baby Jesus. I imagine them dropping everything in their haste. But, I wonder – what did they do with their sheep? Is it possible that these shepherds left the “ninety-nine” in search of the One? Were they willing to risk the safety of their flock of sheep to worship at the baby feet of the true Lamb of God? Now, I’m not suggesting that Jesus was lost - he was exactly where God wanted him to be, in a cattle stall; but the shepherds were lost, perhaps directionally, but more importantly spiritually. All their lives they had waited for this moment, to lay sight of the promised Messiah, their promised Savior. Finally, they had found the Lamb they had long been looking for. And they worshiped him.
  44. 1 point
    Barren forests act like Oz, full of air, the curtains pulled. Not so daunting for pilgrims now, forced by birth to walk through, barefoot. But, this is still a gift of life, this winter advantage should make us pick up pace before snows drift, suddenly waist-deep. See, there are select times of relief! Silhouettes of prison bars from small, skinny trees show on our shirts when we dart amidst bushes which mock leaves, claiming for themselves more coverage we yet barely see. Grace this winter sets us free, engrossed in the race through the trees.* ________ * 2 Timothy 4:7 and 1 Corinthians 9:24
  45. 1 point
    (Isaiah 1:16-20) The reason why is the reason You ask me to think about your ways, of my trust in You, more mental than some spiritual gaze From point to point, Lord, You say if I have a fairness toward You and all the oppressed,* there is a rightful division, and sin will be cleansed within right living of the repentant. Jesus, I like to think that your thinking is grace with an invite. Savior, if it pleases You that I think with You, and reason, together, day and night, red will be white by the Blood cast on our pale souls to bring us to Light, thinking with hope.** ________ * Matthew 25:24-27 and Luke 15:17-24 ** Colossians 1:27
  46. 1 point
    We all face situations that challenge our spiritual walk, and how we handle those situations defines the type of faith that we confess. Biblical Faith is “Forsaking All I Trust Him.” Carnal Faith is “Forgetting All I Test Him.” Biblical Faith sees every situation as an opportunity to grow, while Carnal Faith sees every challenge as a threat to spiritual life. Biblical Faith sees the positive results of negative trials, while Carnal Faith sees only the negative. Biblical Faith approaches the challenges with joy, while Carnal Faith loses the joy. Biblical Faith sees beyond the obvious, while Carnal Faith looks at situations in life and defines them through human reasoning. Biblical Faith sees life through the spirit, while Carnal Faith sees life through the mind. The letter of James tells us to “count it all joy” when responding to the challenges of life. It is to be a time of cheerfulness and calm delight. The further one is involved in these challenges, the more the degree of joy increases, knowing that through these testings we are developing an even stronger faith. As we engage the obstacles before us, we are developing steadfastness in our Christian walk. To some Believers this is hard to accept. How can one get excited when his faith is challenged? James tells those who are finding this truth hard to grasp to ask God for wisdom. Wisdom understands God’s intended purpose and how to appropriate its truth. (Reference James 1: 2-5) When you are seeking understanding it is not to enforce Carnal Faith, but to reinforce our Biblical Faith. When we try to live with Carnal Faith, it will only bring more and more confusion. When one takes a human approach to Biblical truth, there is a danger that feelings will be the measure of faith. If that happens, a spiritual “Disneyland” will offer the Christian a steady life of roller coaster existence. James tells us we will be like a “wave of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind.” (James 1: 6) He also tells us a double minded person will be unstable in all his ways. (v.8) The evidence of our faith is measured by our actions. The type of faith we confess will determine the outcome of our trials and testing. During these tumultuous times, Biblical Faith must be promoted by our thoughts and actions. Instead of trying to get a handle on why things are happening to you, start rejoicing in the fact that you will grow stronger through the challenges. If we vacillate between Biblical Faith and Carnal Faith, which is being double minded, (v.8) we will never be consistent in our Christian walk. Are you ready for the next big challenge? Are you ready to grow? Are you ready to take the next big step? COUNT IT ALL JOY the next time you face challenges.
  47. 1 point
    PROLOGUE The River There is history in all men's lives. ~William Shakespeare~ The newborn banks cut across the land like veins flowing with crystal clear water, nurturing the land and sustaining life, just as the blood in the veins of the “River People” coursed fiercely through their bodies. People who built fires on the river side sand and sang happy songs that morphed into screaming war cries as the new world sprouted a growth of white strangers, who battled their way onto the banks, as the “River People” faded away. Pioneers cleared land, built homes, grew crops, raised families and eventually spread closer into communities, villages and towns. And for a time peace prevailed. Yet, time travels on and once again war cries began to be heard in the the soggy bottoms beside the water. Rebel yells chilled the blood of the blue coats, but didn't damper their determination to trample the people and the land. The gray screams of defiance melted into moans of defeat as the north moved south and pledged liberty and justice for all... but both will be a long time coming. After the fray, greedy men grabbed their empty carpet bags and headed south to fill them. The strong currents of the river pulled them to its virgin shores , where they built mills. The river turned dark as the buildings emptied the bowels of progress into the once clear water. The slow song of the south was forever changed as men who once found their living on the land were forced to move to the mills and experience a subtle bondage of their own to the textile empire. The twenties offered another avenue for ill-gotten gain, as the prohibition opened the hidden hollows and river bottoms to covert hideaways that flowed profusely with illegal alcohol and other dark vices. When the prohibition ended, the men it had enriched wandered boldly back into the towns. Engorged with wealth, yet hungry for more, they used their affluence to gain power and the system worked with them. Perverted judges, with black hearts, covered themselves in black robes, and stuffed their bottomless pockets with the fat of the land. Yet, we know every day has its reckoning, after the sowing and growing always comes the reaping. Delayed justice is only a deferred payment and someday whether here or there all wrongs will be righted. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ CHAPTER ONE A Snake in the Grass “Every great story seems to begin with a snake.” ~Nicholas Cage~ The wind danced over the knee high grass, causing it to ripple in waves down to the bank of the river. A viper lay in the weeds near the edge of the water. Halfway down its body a bulge distended its form. A bull frog, slowly dissolving in acidic bile lay trapped within. With swaying movements the reptile slowly raised its head, flicked its tongue and tasted the odor of the air. With a grotesque heavy-sided slither the satiated serpent began to move soundlessly through the night. The rooster crowed as the sun rose. The water moccasin crawled out of the wet river bottom and into the weedy tobacco field. It slithered across the short row next to the river and into the row beside it. The snake wrapped its corpulent body around a grass-entangled tobacco stalk, flicked it tongue once, then grew as still as death and waited. Crow caws cracked the sky as the soaring birds covered the sun, casting a dark shadow across the field. Like cowards clustered together to bolster their own bravado, they formed a tightly packed flock that dispersed like scattered pepper when they settled in the branches of the trees. Stillness ensued for only a breath, then the creatures again began to squawk and take wing as a bevy of rocks assailed them from the ground below. Laughing, three boys continued to fling rocks until the last of the crows sailed across the noonday sun and disappeared into the willows down by the river. Running from the waist-high tobacco row, Harlan stopped and leaned his hoe against a tree. He pulled a handkerchief from his pocket and wiped the sweat from his brow. Close on his heels followed his two younger brothers. They dropped their hoes and fell to the ground. “I'm tired, I'm sleepy and I'm as hungry as a horse,” Jesse complained. Curtis, the youngest, replied with a fake sore, pretending to have fallen asleep on the spot. “You fella's just stay up here whining and napping while I run on to the house and eat my dinner and yours too!”, Harlan flung the words across his shoulder as he darted off toward the house. Jumping up like rabbits, Jesse and Curtis kicked up dust as they hit the path running after him. In the kitchen Aunt Dorrie pulled the hot pan of biscuits from the oven. Setting them on the table, she glanced out the window and saw the boys racing toward the house. “Bessy,” she called, “Go tell your brothers to stop and wash up at the hose pipe before they come in to eat. They're as dirty as the hogs.” “Yes, ma'am,” Bessy answered as she bolted from the kitchen, the screen door banging shut behind her. The slamming of that door ushered in the beginning of the most poignant memory of her thirteenth year ... I ran out that door like a streak of lightning, delighted that I'd been given some authority over my brothers, especially my twin brother, Jesse, I headed them off at the edge of the yard and held up my hand like a stop sign“Halt right there,” I commanded. “Y'all can't go in the house yet.” Jesse tried to step around me and I held out my arms straight out blocking him and said louder “I told you, YOU CAN'T GO IN.” “Stop mess'in with us, Bessy. We're star'vin “Harlan said as he pushed my arms away. “Go on in then and see what happens, Aunt Dorrie said all y'all gotta wash up out here, cause you're too dirty to wash up at the sink. She'll be mad as fire if you don't listen to me.” I said. “Well okay then” Harlan answered, but you ain't got to be such a bossy britches about it.” They all walked over to the well house and I followed them and stood to the side with my hands planted on my hips. Jesse picked up the hose and turned on the spigot and before I could even blink he spun around and turned the water on me, in an even quicker instant I lost all my puffed up dignity and I lit into Jesse like a wildcat. Doubling over in laughter, Harlan and Curtis watched us ,drop the hose and fall onto the ground rolling in the mud. Wanting to get in on the fun,Curtis grabbed the hose from the ground and turned it on Harlan, who quickly wrestled it out of his hands and ran it down the back of his overalls. We were all brought to a sudden stop by the banging of the kitchen screen door. Aunt Dorrie stood on the steps wiping her hands on a dish towel and shaking her head. “Not only are you as dirty as the hogs but you're act'in like 'em too. Wallowing around in the mud like you ain't got no sense at all.” she hollered across the yard. “Get yourselves sprayed off and into some dry clothes, then get in here to eat.” She turned and went back into the house. We took turns spraying each other off, laughing with the kind of laughter that makes you feel real clean inside. We began to move a little faster as we heard the sound of Daddy's pick up truck coming up the driveway. Roland parked the truck next to the barn. Cutting off the engine, he set the parking brake and opened the door. Hearing a ruckus, he looked across the yard and saw his four children at the well house hosing each other down. He got out and shut the door. As the sound of their unified laughter rang across the yard, a sad smile slid across his face. It was a painful comfort to still be able to hear Esther's laughter in the voices of their children. Even after nine years he could still see her face, hear her singing in the kitchen, feel her heart beating in his world, because of them. In their children she still lived on. Oh God, how he missed her, and how confusing his world was without her. He still struggled to understand what happened the night he lost her. It had been so hard at first, Curtis a newborn, Jesse and Bessy five year old twins and Harlan, the oldest at eight. Dorrie, his sister, had been their saving grace. She moved in the very day Esther died and with her help they'd made it this far. Walking to the back of his pick up, Roland lifted out the box with the tractor starter in it and carried it into the cool sanctuary of the workshop. Inside the kitchen, Aunt Dorrie cut the hot apple pie into slices and set it on the table. She looked over the spread that included a pot of pinto beans, corn on the cob, mashed potatoes, thick slices of ham and a large tupperware pitcher full of ice tea. Deciding , due to the well house fiasco, that she had some time to pretty up the table, she ducked out of the kitchen to the flower garden to cut a bouquet of flowers for the table. A white picket fence enclosed the flower beds and lush red rambling roses spilled over it and into the yard. A black wrought iron gate gave access to the garden. Dorrie loved working the dirt and tending the flowers, but her reason for nurturing the plants went much deeper than the soil. This garden had belonged to her sister-in-law Esther, who had cultivated it with love. Dorrie had made a vow to herself that she would always tend Esther's flowers. It was something she could do that made her heart feel a little better, a small way to keep Esther's memory alive. Curtis was too young to remember his mama. She'd died the night he was born. Such an awful night it was. Such an awful memory. Dorrie shook her head and came back to the present. It did no good to muddle herself up with bad memories and unanswered questions when dinner was waiting on the table. She opened the gate and walked to the back of the garden where a late-blooming lilac bush still displayed a fragrant array of blossoms. Taking a pair of scissors from her apron pocket she snipped a handful of the purple flowers. Carrying them back into the kitchen, she rummaged around under the kitchen counter and found a blue mason jar. Turning on the spigot at the sink she filled it with water and arranged the flowers in it. As she was placing it on the table, Harlan, Jesse and Curtis entered the kitchen. “Gosh, I'm hungry” Jesse said. Turning sharply to him Dorrie said “What did I tell you about say'in “Gosh”?” “But Aunt Dorrie, you just said it too” he replied, laughing. “You can't get out of it that way, “ Dorrie answered. “Don't let me hear you say it again, you hear?” “But “Gosh” ain't the same as saying “God” is it?” Jesse protested. “Its close enough,” Dorrie replied. “Now , where's Bessy?” she asked. “Aunt Dorrie,you know her” Harlan answered. “She can't eat unless she's got something to read. She went out to the tree house to get her book.” After I finished changing into dry clothes, I headed out back to get the latest book I was read'in, Daddy came out of the workshop as I was coming out of the woods . He saw I had something under my arm and asked “What'cha got there princess?” “Its my book, Daddy” I answered. We met at the back steps and I handed it to him. He read the title then opened the cover. With his finger he traced the name written inside, Esther Jones. “ It was mama's book , daddy.” I told him. “Yes, it was “ he answered. Shutting the book , he handed it back to me. “Lets go get some grub “ he said as we stepped onto the back porch. Opening the screen door, he held it as I slipped inside, then followed me into the kitchen. Daddy hung his hat on a peg by the door and washed his hands at the sink. I jumped into my chair and immediately stuck my nose into the book. Pulling out his chair and sitting down Daddy bowed his head, Aunt Dorrie and the boys did as well , but I was already lost in my book. I heard Daddy loudly clear his throat. Sheepishly putting my book to the side I bowed my head. After grace was said, Aunt Dorrie began passing the food. She made sure everyone's plate was full before she filled her own. There was no conversation during the first five minutes of the meal. Breakfast had long ago worn off we were a hungry bunch. As the feeding frenzy wore down, Daddy looked up and asked “Did yall spend all morning out there playing at the well house or did you get any hoeing done?” “Yeah, Daddy we worked the field, we're almost finished .” We only have four rows left down by the river side. We can finish those up this afternoon and it'll go quicker if Bessy can help.” Harlan answered. “We can each do one row. We'll give Curtis the short row closest to the river.” Curtis looked up and frowned. He didn't like to be treated like the baby of the family. “I can work just as hard as anyone else” he said. “Don't treat me like I can't, I can hoe all four of those rows by myself, Daddy, if you need me to.” He was serious too. If he thought Daddy needed something , Curtis would move heaven and earth to please him. “I know you would son” Daddy answered him, “but I think Harlan has a good plan,” he looked at Aunt Dorry and added “That is if Dorry don't need Bessy here at the house.” “Aw, no” replied Dorry. “It won't take me long to wash up these dishes, then I'm just going to spread a table cloth over these left overs and we'll have them for supper.” I plan on working out in the flower garden this afternoon and I don't need Bessy for that.” A sad smile fell across daddy's face as he glanced at the bouquet on the table. I decided it was time for me to get in on this conversation and wrangle out a deal that would benefit me. Putting my book aside I said. “Are y'all talking about me?” “Yeah, “ Jesse answered. “You gotta help us out in the field.” “well, in that case I get the shortest row” I said. “We already gave that row to Curtis, cause he's the baby” Jesse fired back at me. “I'm not a baby” Curtis cried out, and besides Bessy's a girl and daddy says we gotta treat girls better than we treat ourselves, ain't that right ,Daddy?” “you got me there” Daddy replied. “So I think” Curtis continued, “That since Bessy is a girl she ought to have the shortest row.””I can't argue with that logic , Daddy said, “Okay, then Bessy, you can have the shortest row and Curtis will take the one beside you.” I shot a smirk at Jesse, and picked my book back up. “Now that that's settled,” daddy said “Would someone please pass me the apple pie?” After dinner Roland headed back out to the work shop. He planned to spend the rest of the day putting that new starter on his old tractor. He knew most folks would have junked that old tractor years ago, but Roland had a way with machinery. He knew how to tear a piece down into a thousand parts and put it back together again. No one had ever taught him how, he was just born knowing. His oldest boy Harlan, wasn't like that. He had no head for parts and pieces, at least not machine parts and pieces, but give him words, parts and pieces of sentences and he could grow them into paragraphs on a page and write you an argument that was hard to refute. He had a writing desk in his room and usually spent a couple hours writing at night before he went to bed. But Jesse, well, he was mechanical, like his daddy. If he wasn't needed in the field, you could always find him in the workshop tinkering with something. His twin sister, Bessy took after her mama and Harlan. She loved words too but right now, she would rather read them than to write them. Her mama, Esther, had left a small library of her books and Bessy was working her way through them one by one. She always had a book somewhere close by and if you ever got to missing her she could usually be found out back in the tree house, reading. And his littlest was Curtis, a tender sensitive child. He wore his heart on his sleeve and his light was always shining, although he didn't care a whit about socializing, he was the type to be a true blue friend to a few. And Curtis had a gift. He was an artist. His side of the room, that he shared with Jesse, was papered with his drawings. Curtis spent most of his free time in the woods down by the river' quietly watching the wildlife and capturing it on paper. Roland loved his children with a deep and steady love, a sacrificial love. When times were tight, and they often were, Roland saw to their needs before his own. If someone was going to have to do without, it would be him. His greatest sorrow in life was that their mama wasn't here to share that love. She was buried on the far side of the farm, in the Jones family cemetery. He often visited her grave, and never missed a special occasion. It was his habit to buy a card, wrap it in wax paper and leave it on her headstone. He always signed it “I love and miss you, Roland.” He was glad , his sister Dorrie kept Esther's flower garden growing so he could carry a fresh bouquet to her grave when the flowers were in season. Harlan got back to the field first. Picking up the hoe he'd left leaning against the tree, he walked into the longest row and began chopping the weeds. Bessy, Jessy and Curtis followed him and began working in their own rows. With full stomachs and the sun sliding slowly toward the west, they fell into a rhythm of work that allowed their thoughts to wander into daydreams all their own. Chopping with the hoe, bending ' pulling and throwing weeds they worked steadily as the afternoon marched on toward evening. Placing the last dish in the rack, Dorrie pulled the drain plug from the sink and dried her hands on the dish towel. After arranging the tablecloth so that it covered all the food, she reached for her straw hat, hanging on a peg by the door. Settling it firmly on her head she stepped out onto the back porch. Dorrie stood for a minute surveying the farm yard. To her left was the graveled dirt driveway that ended beside the barn. Roland's truck was parked there. The work shop was on the other side of the barn and she could hear him in there banging on something as she made her way to the shop to get her gardening tools. When she entered the building, Roland was was all up in the guts of the tractor. He didn't see her come in. She gathered her basket of hand tools and quietly slipped back outside. The flower garden was beside the house and the vegetable garden was behind the barn. Dorrie made her way to the flower garden. Glancing across the yard and up the hill she could just make out the four siblings hard at work weeding the field. I was chop'in and slapp'in...the sun had just dropped past the tree tops and the mosquitoes were buzzing up from the river, sensing our warm flesh and blood, they hummed into the tobacco field and began to sink their needles into our skin. Now, all our sporadic slaps accompanied the rhythm of chop, bend, pull and throw...it sounded something like this... Chop, bend, pull, throw slap Slap, slap ,Chop, slap, bend pull, slap, slap, slap, throw... We were all tired and nearing the end of our separate rows when it happened. Curtis told us later that he had been struggling to pull up a clump of Johnson grass growing up tight against the tobacco stalk. He was cleaning his row perfectly so that when Daddy cam out here tomorrow to inspect the job he would be proud of him. In exasperation he'd gotten down close on his hands and knees and leaned in close. He grasped the weeds in a firm hold and in an instant realized he'd grabbed more than weeds. The mouth was open wide and Curtis was near enough to see the inside of its cotton white mouth ,right before he felt the fiery sting burn his right wrist. The snake whipped out of the grass and wrapped itself around his arm. He began screaming and stood up, trying to shake the viper loose. But with every shake the snake held on pumping more venom into his wrist. Hearing Curtis' screams we flung down our hoes and ran to his row. Harlan yelled “JESSE HOLD HIM STILL!” Jesse wrapped both arms around Curtis and did his best to hold him . Harlan got ahold of Curtis' arm, and using his free hand, he began to strangle the snake. It was too much for me, I began to scream myself and calling for Daddy, I ran from the field toward the house. I saw daddy bolt from the shop and Dorrie running out from back of the house. With Daddy way out front they both ran up the path toward me. When they reached me, I cried out “CURTIS GOT SNAKE BIT, OH DADDY ITS AWFUL!” Daddy ran on up the path to the field, with Aunt Dorrie panting behind him. I just stood in the path shaking and sobbing ,thinking It was me that should've been in that row...then I took off runn'in after them. When I got there, I saw Harlan and Jesse holding Curtis up. On the ground at their feet was a dead water moccasin. Daddy was lifting Curtis up in his arms as Aunt Dorrie ran up behind him. I saw her pick up a hoe and in a frenzy she chopped that snake to pieces.. I watched her till she threw down her hoe, and then we both followed the others who were already running down the path to the truck. CHAPTER 2 Thirty Pieces of Silver But if your eye is bad your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness. ~Matthew 6:23~ Our farm was a few miles upstream from the largest mill in Anderson county. It was built by Captain Sherman Bender and had been passed down through the generations of Bender heirs. The current owner was old Arlo Bender but he was stashed away in the nursing home, while his son Buchanan Bender, ran the mill. Buchanan was his given name but no one ever called him that. He was known by everyone as “Buzzard” Bender and had been since he was twelve years old. Granny Harrell, said it was at the very moment that he acquired this name, that he sold his soul to the devil. She said what that turkey buzzard did wasn't normal and it was a sign for those “who have eyes to see” . Granny said up to that moment, it could'a went either way, but when Buchanan made that choice on the playground to choose evil one more time, he sealed the deal. She said the LORD takes particular notice of the “least of these” and that He had His eyes on the the school yard that morning. As for me, I don't know if the hardening of a heart works that way or not, but what I do know, and know for sure, is that Buchanan Bender never got better, he wore worse. From that day forward he pulled evil to himself like he had it tied to his heart with wagon cords. They say it happened like this.... On that morning the sky was dark and threatening rain. In the distance thunder bumped across the clouds in a low rumbling growl. The West Glen Elementary school yard was full of children, waiting for the morning bell to ring them inside. First through sixth graders huddled together in age appropriate groups except for three students who were roaming the yard looking for trouble. Buchanan Bender, Ortho Cates and Walter Newton, sixth graders who shored up every insecurity and deficiency inside themselves, by intimidating and bullying the younger students. The third graders were huddled together near the school entrance. As the thunder grew louder they moved closer together jostling one little fellow and causing him to drop his lunch money onto the ground. His name was Milton Harrell. He was Granny Harrell's grandson, her only daughter Viola's boy. No one knew who his daddy was. Viola was seventeen when she gave birth to Milton a month prematurely. The birth happened quickly and there wasn't any time to get Viola medical care. Granny Harrell delivered her own tiny four pound 10 ounce grandson into the world. As soon as Viola gained back her strength she took off for parts unknown, leaving Granny Harrell to raise Milton. The early birth had affected him mentally. He was slower than his classmates, but his kind heart overshadowed his incomplete intelligence. Milton was down on his hands and knees scrambling to find all of his dropped coins when Buchanan Bender spotted him. “There's us some fun,” he said nudging his two sidekicks. Sauntering over to the the third graders, Buchanan raised his foot high and stomped on Milton's hand . Milton raised his head and looked up. “HHHHey.......you're standing on somebody.....somebody is down here and you're standing on them. Hey, I said, its Milton down here.” The first drop of rain fell, baptizing Milton's forehead , he continued “And now its raining down here too...I need to get my money before it gets wet...please walk somewhere else, you're hurting my hand.” Buchanan laughed and ground his boot down harder. Milton trying to stand up, felt Buchanan's foot lift, then cried out as the boot kicked him brutally in the side knocking him into the dirt. Milton held his ribs and looked at his dirtied clothes. The rain began to come down sharp like BB pellets . Milton's pain melted into tears. He cried, “Now I can't go to school...I'm dirty...I'm a dirty mess.” “You were born dirty.” Buchanan said with a laugh, and looked around to make sure Ortho and Walter were laughing with him. “ And you ain't gott'a worry about that money gett'in wet cause you're gonna pick it up and give it all to me .” Sobbing , Milton crawled around gathering up the scattered coins. Roland, was in the sixth grade too. He was standing with his classmates when he heard someone crying. Looking behind him he saw Milton Harrell crawling around in the mud on the ground. He heard him saying “Thhhis...is my school money...III've got to buy my milk and mmmy lunch with it....I ain't got no more. Granny told me nnnnot to lose it. I got to buy my lunch bbbut I 'll share...you can sit at mmmmy table and I will share my lunch with you.” Buchanan and his goons just laughed at him. Roland bolted over to the third graders and grabbed Buchanan by the back of his collar and spun him around. Buchanan hooked out his leg and swept Roland's feet out from under him. Outweighing Roland by thirty pounds Buchanan quickly got the better of him . Pinning him to the ground Buchanan leaned in so close Roland could smell the anger on his breath and see the pin hard pupils of his eyes. Buchanan whispered “This is all your fault, you should 'a never laid a hand on me. You deserve all you're gonna get.” He began punching Roland over and over in the face. The rain was coming down hard now. The students had made a circle around the fight and were holding their books over their heads to ward off the rain. The school bell was ringing but no one was paying it any mind. Roland's nose was bleeding profusely, little Milton saw it and ran over to try and wipe the blood off with his hands. Buchanan shoved Milton away and then continued his frenzied attack. Milton ran and jumped on Buchanan's back to trying again to help Roland. Buchanan stopped hitting Roland just long enough to swing around and land a blow to Milton which knocked him back onto the ground unconscious. Roland took that second to wipe the blood from his face, as he did he saw a dark shadow fall from the sky behind Buchanan. With a cry of “WHAT THE...?” Buchanan jumped up off Roland and turned around beating frantically at his back. On his shoulders with its claws firmly embedded through his sweater and into the skin of his back was the biggest buzzard Roland had ever seen. Buchanan was struggling, reaching his arms around his back trying to knock the buzzard off. The buzzard was flapping its huge wings, looking as if it were trying to lift Buchanan up and fly away with him. Buchanan couldn't budge the buzzard so he began to run. He ran out of the school yard and down the road toward town, That was the last anyone saw of him that day and no one ever knew how he managed to get that buzzard off his back, but from that day forward everyone called him Buzzard Bender. As a man, Buzzard had lived up to his name. He circled the weak and vulnerable waiting till they were desperate then like a vulture he'd fly in with his sharp beak and pick them apart. Most of them found themselves working in the mill with below minimum wages and manipulated to such a point they actually felt mis-guided gratitude toward him. And with that jolly old smile, that never reached his eyes plastered to his face as he robbed them blind Buzzard lived in a large restored plantation house on the other side of the river from Roland's farm. He owned the property from his place all the way upstream to Bender's “Fabric's Cotton Mill”. It encompassed about seven hundred acres. Back behind the mill in a river bottom Buzzard had renovated an old prohibition clubhouse , He called it “Bender's Riverside Bar & Sportsman's Club.” Rumor had it that a man could find just about any kind of sport he wanted at Bender's Bar. Buzzard's wife's name was Brenda Bender. She preferred to be called “BB.” She was a skinny little woman, all sharp knees and elbows but with a backbone of stainless steel. She was obsessed with Jacquelyn Kennedy and tried ever so desperately to copy Jackie's sophisticated wardrobe style. On BB, it came off like a chicken trying to impersonate a swan. Which made Buzzard and BB the perfect couple, a buzzard and a chicken, being as how birds of a feather flock together and all that sort of thing. CHAPTER 3 The Writing on the Wall “Everybody has a chapter they don't read out loud.” ~Word Porn~ I can't give you any specific memories I had of the Anderson County Hospital before we arrived that evening, or why it sent a chill down my spine when we pulled up to the emergency door, but it did. I was afraid to go in yet I was afraid not to. Me and Harlan and Jesse were in the bed of the truck. Daddy and Aunt Dorrie were up front with Curtis. We hopped out of the back and Harlan opened Daddy's door. Curtis was laying across the seat with his head in Aunt Dorrie's lap. She was holding a handkerchief over the bite on his right wrist , his arm was swollen twice its normal size and blood and yellow fluid was oozing out through the handkerchief. Curtis was conscious but talking out of his head, he was muttering something about losing his math book and feeding the cat popcorn. I began to feel sick to my stomach. Roland turned off the ignition and slid out of the truck. He was remembering the last person he'd carried through those doors and remembering that he didn't bring them back out with him. He hurried around and opened Dorrie's door. She gently moved Curtis' head off her lap and laid his arm down by his side. Roland reached inside and carefully shifted Curtis into his arms. The movement caused Curtis to utter a low moan and vomit. An orderly met the family at the door and held it open as the they entered. Two more orderlies were coming down the hallway with a gurney. They wheeled it up to Roland and he laid Curtis on it. Curtis roused back into coherency and said “Daddy , please don't leave me.” “I'm right here son, I'm not going anywhere.” Roland reassured him. “What happened,?” one of the orderlies asked. “He was bit by a water moccasin,” Dorrie replied as the gurney was being rolled toward the emergency exam rooms. A nurse met them at the double doors and asked if Roland and Dorrie were Curtis' parents. I'm his father, Roland answered and nodding towards Dorrie said, “She's my sister.” “Both of you come with me,” the nurse said, gesturing toward a door across the hall she said “The rest of you may wait in the waiting area.” Harlan opened the waiting room door and they walked in. The first thing I noticed was the overwhelming smell of stale tobacco. The room was rectangular, the walls were lined with hard red chairs and at the far end was a table with an overflowing ash tray . Beside the ash tray was an empty paper cup and a telephone book was laying on the floor beneath the table. Magazines littered the table and the chairs. The room felt helpless and forlorn, so did I. I was still grappling with the fact that I should have been hoeing the row Curtis was on. It was my selfishness that hurt Curtis. I was older, if I'd been there I probably would have saw that snake before it bit me or even if I did get bit my body was bigger the venom wouldn't hurt me as bad. Overwhelmed by these thoughts, I burst into tears. Harlan reached out toward me and I crumpled into his arms. “It should've been me” I admitted. Just speaking the words aloud dumped another shovel full of guilt onto my back. The weight was unbearable and I slid from Harlan's arms to the cold linoleum tiled floor. I felt Harlan settle down beside me, he reached and touched my chin, he attempted to pull my face up to look at him but I wouldn't let him. I sat sat cross-legged on the floor staring down at the black and white pattern of the tile. The colors blended into gray through the deluge of tears that were flooding my eyes. I felt Harlan's hand reaching toward me again. I felt him sticking something under my nose and I cold smell the scent of sweat. It was his handkerchief. I took it and blowing my nose loudly, I raised my eyes to his. He was crying too. I felt an arm reach from behind and settle across my shoulders. Looking behind me I saw Jesse settling down on the floor and Harlan stretched out his arms around us both . We all three just huddled there on the floor together. No one spoke any more words with our mouths because our hearts were talking too loud to hear them. We were still sitting there together on the floor when we heard someone push open the door. We raised our heads as one and we watched as J.M. Smyth walked into the room and said,“Your daddy called me from the emergency room, he told me what happened. He asked me to drive over here and check on you.” We stood up and sharing that one handkerchief between us we wiped our tears and blew our noses.J.M. was our Preacher. Harlan spoke first saying, “It looks bad Preacher.” Jesse broke in and said “It was a dad-blame cotton mouth that got'em, one of those mean river moccasins, but Harlan choked it to death then Aunt Dorrie killed it again with the hoe.” I took a deep trembling breath and rushed out these words “What else did daddy say?” Did he say how Curtis is doing?... Did he tell you this is all my fault?... Did he say Curtis is gonn'a die?” That last word did me in again. Die...I just knew Curtis was gonna die, just like mama did. Then I realized why this place chilled my soul so. Mama died here and now Curtis was gonna die here too and it was because of me, and if Curtis died, I was gonna die too, I couldn't live with myself, and if me and Curtis died, then daddy would die too, it had almost killed him to lose mama and like a train off the tracks my thoughts ran head-long into a crash,.I felt the bile rise in my throat and before I could find a trash can I vomited right there on the Preacher. Harlan , who had a hold of that shared handkerchief began to try and dab off the Preacher and me too. That handkerchief had sure done its share of work today. The Preacher reached into his pocket and took out two clean handkerchiefs, I wondered just how many did he carry around with him anyway, maybe Preachers were required by Preacher code to carry a certain number, it seemed likely to me that , that should be the case as preachers went around dealing with tragedy all the time. Maybe he could just keep pull'in 'em out of his sleeve, in an endless miraculous supply...my thoughts were headed off the rails again.The Preacher handed me a handkerchiefs and he used the other to wipe off his shirt and shoes. Harlan dropped the one he was holding into the trash can. I kind 'a felt sorry that we couldn't some how keep it ...sorta symbolic like ...with all our tears and stuff blended together and all. There I went , thinking crazy again.I was glad when the preacher suggested we all have a seat ...and... a prayer. The Preacher bowed his head and we did too. “Father” “ he said, This is a family that You love. I love 'em too. They sure have had an extra portion of heartache in their life, but it never caused them to stop lov'in and trust'in You. It appears tonight they've had another helping heaped on their plate. What's done is done and it don't do nobody no good to blame themselves, we can't go back and change anything that's happened, but now we are here in the present and you're here with us and the future is yet to be decided and we know that You hold that future in You're hands. You tell us that You hear our earnest , honest pleas and that our prayers work together with Your will, so tonight we are asking you to protect and preserve Curtis' life, we ask You to give him an awareness of Your presence wherever his conscious or unconscious might be. Comfort him and enfold him in your peace. And for his family, his loved ones I pray that same peace to wash over them and I pray for Your strength to carry them through this troubling time .In the name of Your Son, the Lord Jesus Christ we pray...Amen. The Preacher raised his head and we did too. He said, “Y'all gott'a be hungry, let me run upstairs and check on Curtis, your Dad and Dorrie, then I'll carry you done to the diner for a hot dog. Everything was white, the walls, floors, tables, gurneys, sheets, blankets, curtains, uniforms, everything except Curtis' right arm which was badly swollen and turning black . The nurse walked into a curtain shrouded cubicle and the orderlies wheeled Curtis in behind her, Roland and Dorrie followed. “ Tell me what happened” the nurse asked as she took a blood pressure cuff from a drawer. “Ma'am,” he said,” My boy was bit by a water moccasin, in the field about an hour ago, we drove him straight here, “ He's been in talking out of his head some and he vomited when I took him out of the truck.” The curtain was pulled open and another nurse stuck her head inside the room, “I'm going to need one of you to come up to the admissions desk with me and fill out some paper work,”. Dorrie looked at Roland and nodded, “I'll come with you,” she answered. “What's your son's name and how old is he,?” The nurse asked as she wrapped a blood pressure cuff around Curtis' left arm. “Curtis, Curtis Jones, and he's nine years old,” replied Roland. ” Does you son have any other health issues or drug allergies?” Mister Jones. “No” Roland answered. Curtis whimpered, Roland leaned in close and said “Hang on Curtis, we're at the hospital,” to the nurse he added” Where's the doctor my boy needs help!” The curtain parted and Dorrie entered with the nurse who'd taken her to the admissions desk. The admissions nurse replied, the Doctor's been called he'll be here soon.” then she quickly left the room. The emergency room nurse snapped an identification bracelet on Curtis' good arm, the began rummaging in another drawer and gathering supplies. She wet a gauze pad with antiseptic solution and began to clean Curtis' swollen arm. Curtis started to cry and Dorrie moved to the head of the gurney and rested her hand across Curtis' forehead. The touch settled him and he quieted. The nurse had finished cleaning the wound and taking the vitals. She was writing in the chart when the curtain opened again. The heavy odor of hair tonic entered the room, followed by a man with dark hair slicked back from his forehead. Strapped around his head was an exam light. He wore a white tunic buttoned across his shoulders and a stethoscope dangled from his neck. Roland recoiled at the sight. It had been nine years since he'd seen this man but he would never forget him. His name was Dr. Evans. Roland felt like he'd been thrown back into the middle of a nightmare. During her pregnancies Esther's doctor had been a kindly gentleman named Doctor Talley but the night Esther went into labor with Curtis, Doctor Talley wasn't available. It wasn't that he wasn't at the hospital that night, he was, but as a patient himself. He'd had a heart attack earlier that day and was in room 204. There were two deaths in the hospital later that night, his and Esther's. Doctor Evans had been called in to take Doctor Talley's patients. He had delivered Curtis and attended Esther the night she died. If Doctor Evans recognized Roland, he didn't let on. The doctor walked over to the nurse who was still making notes on the chart and without saying a word pulled it from her hands. Quickly glancing over the page, he said “Snake bite ...hmmm...lets have a look.” Thrusting the chart back towards the nurse, he walked to the head of the gurney where Dorry was still standing with her hand on Curtis' forehead and roughly said “You're in my way here, you need to move,” as he nudged her out of the away, and grasped Curtis' black swollen arm. Curtis who had been calm as long as Dorrie's hand had been on his brow began to thrash around. Doctor Evan's tightened his grip on Curtis' arm, and with his other hand, reached up and switched on his head piece light. He leaned in close over the gurney. Curtis moaned then making a retching sound he vomited into Dr. Evans slick-backed hair. Dropping Curtis' arm the doctor bit back an expletive and began barking orders at the nurse. Start IV fluids and 50cc's of penicillin, draw a blood sample and send it to the lab, then have him transferred upstairs. Turning to Roland he said “We will discuss treatment options after I obtain the lab results”. Pulling open the curtain he strode from the cubicle. The nurse quickly completed the doctor's orders and soon Curtis was being moved to a room. The IV pole rattled along side the gurney, tubing, from an IV needle inserted into Curtis's left arm ran up to a bottle hanging from the pole. The nurse walked beside the pole and guided it as the orderlies transported Curtis upstairs. Roland and Dorrie walked on the other side. Roland was staring at Curtis' arm. The nurse had drawn a line where the swelling was at when the first entered the emergency area, the swelling and discoloration has crept an inch or more past that mark. . The fang marks continued to bleed and the nurse had laid a gauze pad over to absorb the flow. Curtis had been quiet since the vomiting episode in the cubicle and appeared to be resting a little since they had started giving him the IV fluids. “Roland... Hey, Roland” Roland turned, the Preacher was hurrying down the hall way behind them. He stopped briefly and waited for him to catch up. They both caught up to the gurney as it was stopped at the elevator doors. The Preacher reached out and lay his hand on Curtis' shoulder. At the Preacher's touch Curtis opened his eyes and weakly said, “Hey Preacher,” . Roland noticed the whites of Curtis' eyes were blood red. He made a mental note to ask the nurse about it when they got upstairs to the room. The Preacher said, “It looks like that snake tried to get the best of you, but I hear it wound up gett'in more than it bargained for.” Why, I think that's probably the only snake that ever got killed twice. They tell me Harlan choked it to death then your Aunt Dorry hacked to death!” Curtis managed a slight smile. “How are the other kids?” Roland asked the Preacher. “ They are pretty shook up, especially Bessy,” answered the Preacher. “I was thinking I'd take them to get something to eat.” “That's a good idea,” Roland replied as the elevator doors slid open and the orderlies wheeled Curtis in. “Thank you” Roland managed to reply as he and Dorrie hurriedly squeezed inside the closing elevator doors.
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    We've added a new Publishing Credits section to the ChristianWriters.com site. This is a special area for established members to post and promote information and links to their book, blog, article, or short story. Publishing credits will be promoted throughout the site. Soon, we will link each member's credits to their profile for an easy reference (or purchase) of each member's published works. This service is free, but open only to members with more than five posts on ChristianWriters.com. The Publishing Credits section replaces the recently archived Publication and Plugs forum.
  49. 1 point
  50. 1 point
    I heard something as I walked in the store. I could not believe it. The door shut behind me and I just stood there listening to the music. It was the third of November in Salina, Kansas. The lady at the counter looked at me, smiled and asked if I needed anything. ”How long have […] Source
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