Tag Archive | children

The Kidnapper

Under cover of darkness the evil one comes.  Doing the work of his evil father, he is:    The Kidnapper.

 

 

Manual and Rosita Rodriguez had saved enough money to come to the resort on a family vacation. They were so excited to be there at last.

 

Manny, that’s what Rosita called her husband, worked with the street department in Anaconda, California.  He had come with his family from Mexico when he was just five years old.  Manny’s father worked hard to provide for his family and when he became an American citizen he was committed to raise his children to be good citizens, and they were.

 

The Rodriguez family had been raised in the Catholic tradition but through the kindness, love and compassion of their neighbor, they came to know Jesus personally and began attending the local Pentecostal church she attended, though neither of them took religion or God too seriously.  They thought that going to church on Sunday was good enough, the rest of the week they pretty much did what they wanted to.

 

When Manny was twenty five years old he met Rosita. He went to a Fiesta with a friend and there she was.  She was small with a slight build, her hair fell in waves over her shoulders and her dark eyes were rimmed with long lashes.  She captured Manny’s heart.  It was love at first sight for Manny.  It took some doing to win Rosita’s heart, but eventually he did.  They had been married now for ten years and had three children.

 

The oldest child, a girl they named Manuela, after her father, was nine. Their second child was a boy named Jorge, he was seven.  The baby, Carmelita, was just three months old.

 

Life had its ups and downs for the Rodriguez family as it does for all of us.

 

Manny had worked as a grounds keeper for a wealthy family.  It was a good job and he was able to provide nicely for his family.  But the security that they had hoped for was not to be.

 

A property developer wanted the property to build a multi story apartment complex with shops on the lower level, as the area was expanding and he could see dollar signs in the future.  The family was more than ready to let go of it because they were past retirement age and ready to move into something smaller.

 

After a six month struggle without work, Manny got a job with the Anaconda street maintenance department. Life went well in the ensuing years.  They were able to save a little and had plans to buy a house the following year.

 

God had a plan for this family, it was a good plan, but the events that took place certainly didn’t make it look that way.  Sometimes the plans He has for us look like defeat, but from His view He sees great victory.  That is how He saw His son’s death and resurrection.

 

Arvad Cheminsky was a bell boy at the resort, though he was no longer a boy.  He was born and raised in Moldova to a poor family, but he had grand dreams, dreams of lots of money  He hated being poor and vowed the day would come when he would never be poor again.  When he was sixteen he left home and went to Russia.

 

Times were tough and he found whatever work he could, sweeping floors, loading trucks and loading cargo on the docks.  It was on the docks that he met Boraas Plenovich.  Like himself Boraas was young and ambitious. They became friends.  In time Boraas told Arvad that there was a lot of money to be made if he was interested. Boraas said he had connections.

 

Arvad was fond of a certain bar that was operated by a young couple.  The wife was a sturdy, well built girl and the husband was a nice-looking man with a big mustache and a deep voice.  They became friends.  Boraas came with Arvad a few times and saw a money making scheme that would pay big.  He suggested to Arvad that he ask the husband if his wife could accompany him to Thailand where they would meet up with a man who could provide an opening for a bar in the city of Pattaya, Thailand.  He assured him that it was quite lucrative and would be a great investment.  The husband gave his permission.

 

He never saw his wife again.  He searched for years trying to find her or Arvad to no avail.  After many years and lots of money and heartache, he learned that Arvad had sold her to human traffickers in Thailand.

 

Arvad and Boraas worked with the Russian mafia. Though they never met anyone higher than their local contact, they didn’t care, they didn’t want to know, as long as they got paid, and they got paid well for a good specimen.  They made a lot of money and all they had to do was deliver the goods to their contact.  It was a nice clean operation.  They had what they wanted.  There was no shortage of drink and women as long as the money flowed.

 

When the Rodriguez family checked in at the front desk, Arvad was there.  He took their bags up to their rooms paying special attention to their conversation and observing the children carefully.

 

The two older children were slight in build like their mother.  The contact wanted specimens that would last awhile, so Arvad always looked for ones that were more sturdy.  In this case the baby was promising, besides the contact said that her contact wanted something different and this baby might just be the thing that would bring a higher price.  He dallied, moving a chair here and some flowers over there, as the family excitedly examined their quarters.

 

The older children were excited to get into their swim suits and go to the pool. The woman wanted to get her baby to bed as she was fussy and tired.  Arvad watched where she took the child and after receiving his tip he left.  All he had to do now was watch for an opportunity.

 

His next assignment was the pool area. Fortunately for him, the Rodriguez family was at the pool.  Manuela and Jorge were playing and splashing in the pool while Rosita held Carmelita and Manny took pictures.

 

Bringing a pitcher of lemonade over to their table he heard Manny suggest to Rosita that they put the children to bed after supper and when they were asleep they could go for a stroll in the gardens.  It sounded so romantic and it had been a long time since they had time alone together, and in such a beautiful setting.  Though she had some hesitation about leaving the children alone, Rosita consented.

 

They walked in the flower lined garden, stopped to admire a beautiful orchid growing on a tree, and sat down on a bench.  The night air was beginning to cool off from the heat of the day. The sky turned a beautiful orange, then pink leading into shades of night gray.  They reluctantly returned to their rooms as the sun was beginning to set.

 

Rosita went into the room where Manuela and Jorge were sleeping.  She paused a moment to reflect on what a wonderful day it had been.  Going into their room to the crib where she had laid Carmelita, she was horrified to find that she was not there.  She screamed. Manny came running into the room to see what had happened.  Their baby was gone.

 

Arvad saw that the Rodriguez’s had gone out of the room.  What wonderful timing!  He alerted his contact to be ready as he would hand off the baby to her.  She posted a watch on the Rodriguez’s to make sure they were not surprised before they snatched the child.

 

Carefully letting himself into the room with the master key that he had stolen, he went to the room where the baby was. Picking her up he placed a rag soaked in a drug solution over her nose and mouth to keep her sedated so she wouldn’t cry.

 

Opening the door to the adjoining room where his contact waited, he gave her the baby, she would take it to the next contact.  Arvad would get paid handsomely for this one, he was sure of that.  She was plump with rosy cheeks, someone would pay big for her.

 

Every step along the way was carefully planned.  There were no clues left behind, no trace of anything for the police to go by.  The kidnapping made the papers and the news media was all over the resort. Arvad hung around long enough to not arouse suspicion when he left.  He went back to Russia with a lot of money in his pocket.

 

Devastation is the best word to describe the Rodriguez family. Manny blamed himself, Rosita blamed Manny and herself.  The children were inconsolable.  The request for prayer went throughout the world. The only hope was a miracle.  Manny and Rosita turned to God with all of their hearts, begging for the return of their daughter.

 

Pattaya, Thailand, a man walked into a cleaning establishment.  He asked about their laundry and cleaning facility and mentioned that he had some needs and wondered if they knew where these needs could be met.  Eyeing him carefully, the owner asked if he had any preference for his needs to be met and when he said that he didn’t the owner lead him into a back room.

 

“I have something very special for you.”  He said.  “I am sure your needs will be taken care of.”  They agreed on a price; it was paid and the shopkeeper opened the door to a dimly lit room.  Entering the room the man saw a baby.  His stomach turned.  He thanked the shopkeeper and closed the door.

 

When he was brought into the back room, he noticed a door with an exit sign. Scooping up the baby in his arms, he carefully opened the door a crack to make sure no one was outside.  The coast was clear, running as fast as he could out the door and down the street, he came to the place where his friend was waiting for him.

 

The newspapers and TV carried a picture of three month old Carmelita Rodriguez as she was returned to her family with the caption:  “God does a Miracle, baby returned to her parents!”

 

 

When I was in Chicago a few years ago, I was at the Union train station waiting for my train to come.  I was totally unaware that bus stations and train stations are used by pimps and prostitutes to get easy money.  They prey upon unsuspecting, gullible people.  No doubt they saw me as their “pigeon”.  I have learned since then that these places are favorites for pimps to pick up girls fresh from the country who appear lost or lonely.

 

I had purchased some lunch and was sitting in a designated eating area.  A girl, solidly built, loud and coarse, sat down at a table next to  me.  She began to speak into her phone to her father.  She was telling him that she wanted to come home but that a guy was watching her and she was scared.  She asked him to wire her some money she could catch a bus home.  I felt so sorry for her.  I walked past her and put $20.00 into her hand.  She immediately got up and took off, very quickly followed by a black man.

 

I had been had!

 

I wrote this story today to make people aware of what is going on in the seamy world of human trafficking.  I don’t know a lot about it, but I do know some.  The story about the baby and the bar owner are true stories that I embellished with my imagination.

 

Parents and caregivers to pray for protection for the children in your care.  Educate yourself in the ways of those who deal in human souls for profit.

 

My sister left her two little girls by a jewelry counter in Walmart several years ago.  She told them to stay there, that she would be right back.  A man approached them, getting close he punched the older one in the stomach so she couldn’t cry out.  He began to take them toward the door as my sister came around the corner and saw him.  She yelled so loudly he got scared, dropped the girls and ran from the building.  Many years earlier I had a vision in which I saw that attempt and prayed for them.  God was merciful.  We cannot be too careful.  There are predators who think nothing of taking your precious treasures.   Be alert and aware.

 

It is written:

 

“Whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.”  Matthew 18:6

 

“It is not the will of your Father which is in Heaven that one of these little ones should perish.

Matthew 18:14

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where Fear Walks

Mary was a tall slim woman of thirty five years.  She had never married, much to the chagrin of her family.  People had described her as plain, but when they got to know her they found that she had a delightful personality, everyone was better for knowing her.

Dan Archer was new in town, he had moved to Washington from the Midwest.  Jobs were hard to find as the economy was in a downturn, so he took the only job available, The Moton Pet Store.

Harry and Alice Moton owned a pet store in the town of Jethro, Washington.  They were animal lovers so when Harry retired from the business world they decided to open a pet store to do what they loved.  It was going well, so much so in fact that they needed to hire an employee.  Harry worked long hours and this would free up some of his time, so he could relax.

Mary Pierce worked for a local insurance agency as receptionist and secretary.  She loved her job.  Working with people was what she loved to do best.  She had been trained to be a helper since she was a child.  Her mother had been active in church and taught Mary to reach out to others, especially those less fortunate than herself.

There was a new pastor at the 1st Baptist church in Moton.  He came from California where he had pastored a church of fifteen hundred people.  Pastor David Melvin was well known in the evangelical stream of Christianity for his sermons on revival.  He had a large following on Facebook; mostly it was people who knew him or those who found him there and liked what he had to say.

Mary was a loyal member of the congregation since her youth.  Her mother Agnes was a founding member.  Agnes had raised Mary alone as Mary’s father had left her when she found she was pregnant.  He told her, “I didn’t sign on for this.”  Not to be daunted, Agnes turned to Jesus for help and He was her faithful partner.  Mary turned out good!

The Saturday before the fourth of July, Mary decided that she wanted to have a pet.  Agnes had died the year before and though Mary had an active busy life, she wanted a companion at home.

As it happened, Dan was working at the pet store when Mary walked in.  Dan had not married after he got out of college because every girl he met was shallow and vain.  Not one to dwell on the negative he took it in stride and moved on filling his life with friends and fun.

Mary asked to see the dogs, she was particularly fond of the Black Labrador breed.  Harry got pets for the store from several sources.  He had only recently acquired the Lab puppies from a source in a small town near them.  They were so cute and lively.  She fell in love with a male who seemed to be the most gregarious of the litter.

As she was paying for her dog, Dan asked if she knew what she was going to name him.  She replied, “Alphonso The Great”.  “Interesting name for a dog.”, Dan replied.  “Yes, I think so too.”  Mary responded.  “I will call him “Fonzie” for short.” Mary said.  “Oh, like on the old TV program, “Happy Days”? Dan asked.  “Yes, because “Fonzie” always wore a black leather jacket and my new dog is black, I think it is appropriate, don’t you?”  Mary said.  Dan agreed.

Dan thought, “Interesting girl.  Not much to look at, but she seemed to have a great personality and a sense of humor.”

Mary and Fonzie settled into what would become a routine over the next year.  He grew to be a full sized Lab and could take Mary for a walk instead of the other way around.  He was headstrong and wilful.  She decided he needed some training, so once again she went to the Moton Pet Store to get a lead.

Walking in, she noticed the man behind the counter was the one who had sold her the dog a year ago.  He remembered her and asked how “Fonzie” was doing.  Explaining her problem Dan told her about a man in town that had trained dogs for the United States Army.  He was highly recommended.  Mary contacted him and he worked with Fonzie and her to teach them how to work together.  Teaching Fonzie that she was the top dog was no easy task.

When Dan smiled, Mary noticed that he had a dimple in his right cheek.  “Mmmm nice, she thought to herself.”  Dan could not help but notice that Mary, who was wearing shorts that day, had beautiful legs. “The old-time movie star, Lana Turner, whose legs were insured for a million dollars, had nothing on Mary Pierce.” He mused.

As it happened, the Baptist church was having a revival the coming week-end; there were signs all around town announcing it.  A tent was to be set up on the vacant lot at the back of the church.  A famous evangelist was to hold the revival along with Pastor Melton.

Mary was looking forward to the meetings.  She asked Dan if he would be interested in coming to the meetings.  He wanted to get to know Mary, so he said he would be delighted to come.

Rain was threatening for the Revival week-end, but it was no match for the praying women.  The storm parted and went right around town.

Dan had never been to a revival.  He was not a believer, in fact, in his youth he had told his parents that he did not believe in a god he could not see or prove existed.  Naturally, his parents, who were believers, were devastated.  He had gone to church at their insistence,  but, since high school days Dan had not gone to church.  He had mellowed a bit and was not as dogmatic and argumentative as he had been then, but he still did not believe in God.  He believed in being rational and reasonable.  If it could be seen and explained, he was all over it.

Pastor David Melvin had brought his young daughter into the store to purchase a parakeet.  She was a sweet little girl with red hair that her mother had put into pigtails.  So adorable.  Dan loved little kids and hoped that someday he would have his own, though at age thirty, time was flying.

Dan saw Mary sitting up front; noticing a chair next to her he ventured forward.  “Hi, may I sit here?”  he asked.  “Yes, of course you may.  Good to see you again, I am so glad that you came.”  “I am glad to see you again, Mary.  I don’t know anything about this sort of thing.  What is the format?”  Dan asked.  Mary explained the general pattern of service, but offered that they just needed to be open to what God wanted to do.  Dan wasn’t thrilled with that remark, but chose to let it go.  He just wanted to get to know Mary better.

What followed for Dan Archer was nothing short of life changing.  In one night he experienced God’s power, a power that he had denied existed.

The visiting evangelist told the congregation about the love of God for them.  He explained that God was not mad at them.  “He loves you and wants you, just the way your are.  He wants you to come to Him, to know him.”  He told them that through the sacrifice of the Son of God for them, as if they were the only one who needed to be rescued from their miserable life, they could come to know this loving God, this Father.

Something was stirring in Dan, he felt very uncomfortable.  He wanted to leave, but he was sitting up front and would not make a scene.  He had heard this message before, but it had never touched him. “What is going?” He thought.  “I am a reasonable person, I don’t do emotional.”

Thankfully, it was over and Dan asked Mary if they could spend a little time together.  Mary suggested that they stop by her house and pick up Fonzie for a walk in the park.  He liked that idea and agreed.  He felt so comfortable with Mary, she was intelligent and could carry on a stimulating conversation.  He liked that.  A woman with a good mind was hard to find.

The next day was Sunday and the revival services continued at the tent on the grounds of First Baptist.  Monday morning Dan heard that a woman who had been hard of hearing was healed at the Sunday night meeting, so Pastor Melton decided to continue the meetings to see what God would do.

The praying woman in the community had been meeting together for over a year, asking God to move upon their town and revive it.  Now, it appeared that He was doing just that.

Dan called Mary to ask if she would like to have supper with him, this was Monday night.  Mary said she was going to the tent meeting, but Harry and Alice were having a get together at their house at noon, which he also had been invited to, and could they meet there?  The answer, of course, was, ” Yes!”

Dan loved picnics and Bar B Q’s, he loved the outdoors, so this was right up his alley, as they say.  He was delighted.  Mary arrived shortly after Dan did, she was wearing his favorite color: blue, and had on shorts again, showing her best asset, in his opinion.  He was finding himself increasingly attracted to Mary Pierce.  And, he liked it.

He watched Mary as she interacted with people.  He thought to himself, “How could I have ever thought she was plain, she is beautiful.”

Mary stood at the sink washing dishes and chatting with some ladies.  Dan watched her from the couch.  She seemed to be in her element when she was helping others.  What a great quality in a woman.

Mary noticed that Dan was watching her, she wondered what he was thinking.  He was so handsome and she wondered why no woman had snatched him up.  Feelings began to rise in her that she had not experienced before with any man.  She liked to be with Dan.  He was so interesting, but he was not a believer and she knew that she could not be joined to a man who was not of like mind and faith.

The food was eaten, the dishes were done and it was starting to get on toward late afternoon.  She had to get home, take Fonzie for a short walk and get ready for the meeting.  She hoped Dan would want to come, but he didn’t seem interested.

That night there were several people that were healed of long standing illnesses and diseases, as well as old Silas Crup who had been in a wheel chair for twenty years of his seventy years.  When all paralysis left his body, he got up and began to jump up and down like he was twenty.  The people were stunned to say the least.  No one had seen anything like it before.

Tuesday morning the town was a buzz about the healings that had taken place.  People called their relatives and they told others and suddenly the town was full of people coming from the surrounding communities to attend the revival meetings.

Several people came into the pet store to talk with Harry and Alice about the revival.  “Were you there when my cousin Sadie was healed of cancer?” Leta Carpenter asked Alice.  “Yes.” she replied, “We could hardly believe it; if we had not seen that deep hole in her cheek fill in right before our very eyes, we would not have believed it could happen.”  “But with God, of course.” she added.

Dan heard all of this and wondered what was happening.  “Could it be true?  Does God really exist?  Could I have been wrong all these years?  No, I have studied this thing out, there is no such thing as God.  I know I am right.  This is just hocus-pocus.” He thought.  But the crack in his armor had taken place and Spirit of God was drawing him.

When the revival was over that evening Dan was waiting for Mary.  She came to get in her car and he asked if they could talk.  Reluctantly, she agreed, but said she had to go get Fonzie and take him for a walk.

Arriving at Mary’s house, he put Fonzie in the back seat of his car. Dan wanted to talk.  She didn’t know what was on his mind, but she agreed.  He headed downtown toward the pet store.  Dan turned into the lot behind the store, Mary saw the community service officer’s car hesitate as she saw them, but then recognized Dan’s car and kept going.

He stopped the car and they got out with Fonzie.  Dan had the leash in his hand, intending to walk him along the grassy area behind the store.  Fonzie suddenly reared up, showing his teeth and began to attack Dan.  Mary stood dumbfounded at what she saw happening, she was paralyzed with fear.  Dan yelled at her to get back and call for help.

Incredibly, when the story was told later, they realized an angel, sent from God, came and seemed to get in front of or into Dan as he wrestled with the dog.  Fonzie fell to the ground, apparently dead, and what stood before them could only be described as a satanic presence.  It was the ugliest evil thing either of them had ever seen.  It bared its teeth and growled that it was going to kill them.

That’s when I woke up and realized I had a dream.

Days are coming when God is going to show up and so is satan.  Maybe you don’t know it, but there is a war going on and to the victor belongs the spoils.  The spoils these warring kingdoms are after is the souls of mankind.  I have read the back of the book and I can tell you, God wins, satan is defeated and sent to Hell.  End of story!

Which side are you on?  Think!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I Was A Child

I Corinthians 13:11

“When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child.  When I became a man, I put aside childish things.”

As young child I did not reason, I simply lived.  I did not know that I was trusting my parents to provide for me.  My elders told me what was acceptable behavior and I either obeyed them or resisted what they said, depending on how I felt at the time.

I did not worry about my next meal.  I did not concern myself about whether I would have clothes and shoes to wear, nor did I even think that I might not have a place to sleep.  I moved with the rhythm of life without so much as a thought.

I played, that was what I did.  Oh yes, sometimes I was aware of others in my world, but mostly my total concern was myself.  Mom and Dad were there, but they lived to care for me and when I didn’t get my way, I let them know.

As I grew older I began to notice the world I lived in.  I watched in fascination as the old Boxelder tree in the front yard bowed its head to the ground when a stormy wind blew through the farm.  My Grandma said that it did not break because it had a strong root system.  Isn’t that how we are to be when the storms of life come upon us?

Another storm came through that easily blew down the windmill .  It had nothing to hold it steady in a strong wind. The well that was below the ground was not affected by the wind on the surface, even as strength of character, schooled by the Holy Spirit, will keep us when the temptations and the winds of life blow.

I spent many happy hours in my elementary years watching people on a Saturday night in town.  I observed nature in the field behind Grandpa’s machine shed.  As I lay on the ground leaning on my elbow, I watched ants working on their sand hill and bunnies playing leap frog.  I looked up at the clouds imagining I saw horses and other fanciful shapes.  I dreamed of my future and wondered where I would be when I grew up and left the farm.

Then I became a teen-ager and life changed dramatically.  My body began to change when I was in the ninth grade.  I grew taller than the other girls, and the boys.  Awareness of my surroundings, the people in my life, became a measure of my worth, my value.  Life became more complicated and I became more melancholy.  I was now in the process of becoming an adult.  Your story may be similar to mine and yet is not the same.

A little baby looks so innocent and yet is tainted by a sin nature.  This is clearly revealed as we observe a child going from baby to toddler, from preschool to elementary school,    finally to become a teen-ager.  Self is at the center of childhood.” It’s all about me, it’s all about me.”

How does a parent deal with a child at these levels?  How do you help each child to grow to maturity when there are many children in the family?  Some parents abdicate their role simply because they never grew up emotionally themselves.  To have a baby does not mean that you will be a good parent.  There are many dysfunctional families in America.  You can see the results every day.  Have you ever tried to fix someone who is as unstable as water?  Instability begets instability.  Only God can fix people.

A strong willed child will resist correction and must be dealt with in a stronger way than a compliant child, often needing greater forcefulness on the part of the parent.   If not handled right this can result in resentment even leading to estrangement as the child bolts from the excessive restraint or anger in the home.

Much has been written and said about the teen years, probably because it is the most difficult and dangerous time in a person’s life.  I believe it to be the time when the child enters into the war for his soul.  The battlefield is filled with traps, snares and pits he can walk or fall into.  The enemy of our souls begins to shoot his arrows and blow his poison darts at our minds.  It is his goal to separate us from anyone or anything that could nurture us or give us the direction and strength we need to make it through to adulthood.

This is the time when a child begins to reason.  He begins to experiment with thoughts and ideas beyond what his parents have taught or allowed.  His peers influence becomes more important than his parents and many teens reject their parents altogether.  This, of course, makes them open season for the adversary.

Some children push against their boundaries, seeking, unknowingly, to establish how far his parents will let him go.  Teens need boundaries even though they chafe and push hard against them.  It is especially important at this time for parents to be persistently consistent.

As the teen experiments, tries on these different ideas and ways, parents need to be loving, calm and thoughtful, they must be prayerful and ask God for wisdom.  If you do your job to the best of your ability, your child will pass from childhood to adulthood with only a few battle scars.

Life provides us with decisions to be made every day.  We must choose to get out of bed every morning.  Those with jobs must choose to go to work and give the company the best they have.  Coming home after work, a decision must be made to do what needs to be done to keep house and home together. Priorities will be set and life will be lived accordingly.

Volition rests with man.  God made us that way.  Adam was created in the image of God.  He was given a command, it was his decision to obey or disobey, God gave him a will.  His choice cost the human race the image of God, for the scripture tells us that Adam was created in the image of God. After the fall, when Adam had a son, that son was born in the image of Adam.  By the way, the finger pointing began in Eden as Adam blamed Eve and Eve blamed the serpent.  In fact, they were all to blame because of their choices.

Paradise…Lost.  Relationship with God…lost.  Every child born after that bore the sin nature of Adam and Eve as witness of the fact that the first two humans argued with each other and Cain murdered his brother Abel.

Right and Wrong, Good and Bad, Black and White these are the choices!

Where is the gray, where is the middle ground that so many want to walk in?  With one foot in the world and one in the Kingdom of God, some believers nourish their flesh, placating it, satisfying it, petting it and they think that is okay with God, that He understands  because He is love.  God is also just, He hates sin all the while He loves the sinner.  He grieves because He has made a way for any who will to come to Him to be set free from the pressure of the flesh.

These carnal Christians subscribe to the world’s way of thinking such as,   “That’s the way I am, I can’t help it.”  “If it feels good do it.”   “Get all you can and can all you get.”  “It’s my way or the highway.”  There seems to be a need to have the world’s approval.  They seem to have the mentality that they will get as close as they can to sin, but not go all the way, as if sin is qualitative or quantitative.  Someone described sin in a believer as walking along a riverbank, getting as close to the river as you can without falling in.

Is it okay with God that you “take a walk on the wild side”,  or “sow your wild oats” while you are young, after all “boys will be boys”?  No, it is not okay with God.  God paid a high price for you believer, the loss of His Son to sin and death.  The suffering and pain of Jesus is beyond comprehension, the blood of His body poured out of every wound.  The Bible says that He was wounded for our transgression, the iniquity of us all was put on Him and by His stripes we are healed. The invitation for deliverance is to who ever will, again it is choice.  Jesus made the way.

God is faithful.  Invitations come, warnings come, and decisions are made.

I have heard:  “I’ll think about it, maybe later I will ask Jesus in to my life, but not today.”

I have heard:  “I am as good as you are, who do you think you are to tell me that I need Jesus, I am a good person, I have helped a lot of people.”

I have heard:  “I have been a good church member for many years.  I have taught Sunday School, sang in the choir and been part of helping provide money or food for those who have lost loved ones. I love God.”

I have heard:  ” My father was a Christian, so that makes me a Christian too.”

Many are called but few choose to humble themselves, repent for their sinful, selfish heart and receive Jesus as their Savior and Lord.

“Young John Jones was killed in a car truck accident today at the corner of State Hwy 2 and Thorn Hill Road, he was 23 year old.  The driver of a gravel truck ran a red light, he said the sun was in his eyes, he did not see the light or the Jones car.  Jones leaves behind a wife of six months.”

Can I tell you that John Jones did not expect to die.  He was young, he had his whole life ahead of him.  He and his wife planned to put religion off until they had children, in the meantime they wanted to enjoy life.

“Mary Smith died on Saturday at the age of 86.  She had been given a large inheritance by her father, which no one in Hebersville knew of, as Mary lived a rather frugal life.  This information only became known to the community as the gift was left to the Historical Society with the instructions that it was to be used to repair the local library and put it on the National Historical Register.  Mary was active in the local church which she faithfully attended every Sunday.

Mary was told that all she needed to do to have a Christian burial was be a faithful church member who took communion once a month.  This she did.  One dollar was placed in the offering plate every Sunday, Mary did not miss one.  There was a time when a plea went out for financial help for a hurting family, but Mary did not feel it was “her job” to support someone who was too lazy to work.  Of course, that was her take on it, not the truth.

What do you think was John Jones and Mary Smith’s destination at death?

The day will come when every person will stand before the righteous judge, the books will be opened and all will be judged by what is written there.  When the decision is handed out, as recorded in Matthew 25:40, Jesus said these words:  “In as much as you have done it to the least of these my brethren you have done it unto Me.”  So that’s the standard for the judgment of  works.  The love of God reaches out to the poor, the hurting, the downtrodden and what you do to and for them is noted.

I have been talking about outward things for the most part, but lest there be a misunderstanding, the scenarios above have to do with salvation and the name of a person being written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, which is the Family Album.  If your name is not there, you don’t get into the Kingdom of Heaven.  Goodness will not get you in, membership in a church will not get you in, who you know will not get you in and putting it off until a more opportune time will not get you in.  The way in is narrow, there is only one way and that way is through Jesus.

If you have a rebellion problem you will probably not hear and thus not come in.  As plainly as I can put it, you are on your way to destruction.

Let him who has ears to hear, hear!  Today is the day of salvation.  Come to Jesus, come into the Kingdom of God where there is liberty and freedom from the weight and burden of sin, where there is deliverance from the adversary, where there is healing, provision and protection.  Come to Jesus, Come on home, Father is waiting to welcome you!

In the battle for your soul,

Joy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sin, Righteousness and Judgment

In all of my 77 years there has not been a time like there is in this hour of history..  I have traveled to many countries of the world, and I know that I shall go again to others before my sojourn here is over.  None of the countries that I have visited is like America, none…and yet…the America that I am seeing today is hardly recognizable when compared to the country that I grew up in.  But, before I make my point today, I want to declare what I believe.

I am a believer in the Hebrew God of the Bible, Yahweh, who according to the Bible is the only true God, the creator of all that exists, who was, who is and who is to come. And I believe in His Son Yeshua, called by the English name Jesus, who fulfilled the plan and purpose of His Father perfectly, having given His life blood that men might live in God’s presence without sin separating them from Him and I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Ruach ha Kodesh who was sent to cohabit with every believer. This is my God whom I trust, He has been faithful and kind to me since I met Him.  I give Him place, I honor Him and I stand in His presence with godly fear for “He is God and there is no other”.  (Isaiah 45:5)  I believe that the Bible is the infallible, inerrant Word of God.  This belief is the basis for my faith.  This is the firm and solid rock upon which I stand.  Though I may be unfaithful, He is faithful and will “never leave me or forsake me.”  Hebrews 13:5

Repentance.  Every believer in Jesus the Messiah has come to a place of repentance for rebellion against God, for going his own way, not.God’s way.  You cannot call yourself a Christian if you have not repented of sin. “There is none who does good, no not one.”  (Psalm 14:3)  “All have sinned and come short of the Glory of God.”  (Romans 3:23) This is the condition of fallen mankind in God’s eyes, according to the Old Covenant and the New Covenant.

Having laid the foundation for the condition of sin, of righteousness and judgment I would like to address something that disturbs me.  I don’t know if you have noticed it or not, but there is a different standard being used to measure in this hour.  I have stated in prior offerings here that in this time of history we have come to the place where “evil is good and good is evil.”

We have come to the place in America today where every religion is to be accepted, all are to be tolerated and one religion is being promoted as peaceful when in fact its proponents are anything but peaceful.  No one can speak a negative word against this religion without repercussions of some kind.

There is only one faith that is increasingly not accepted, not tolerated and that is Christianity.  People of faith in the God of the Bible are increasingly facing persecution for their faith.    Today it is open season on believers in God.  One thing non-believers may want to keep in mind is that in the past when the Church of God was persecuted it grew, no matter how much God-haters tried to take it out, the opposite happened, it grew and spread all over the known world.

Yesterday a young man was held up before the world for “crimes” he had done as a teen-ager.  He is a believer and as such has repented of these sins and moved on with his life.  Forgiven by God does not mean perfection, but it does mean sin is covered by the Blood of Jesus that was shed for the forgiveness of all sin.  From the point of confession and repentance, there is no condemnation for that sin coming from Heaven.  Forgiven means free.  That is good news.

The people who are pointing their fingers are sinners in God’s eyes, because God has only one standard, one solution for sin and that is the Blood of Jesus shed at Calvary’s hill in Israel.  If you don’t come to Him through the Blood, you are a sinner in His sight and to accuse another is to stand accused before the righteous judge who weighs all hearts.

The adversary of God wants his pound of flesh and will do whatever it takes to get it.  Be advised if you are on the side of the finger pointers, you will find yourself some day being pointed at.  God is not mocked.

In my day it was understood that children in their “teen” years were finding their way.  Very often there was some form of experimentation whether it was their Dad’s cigarettes, cigars or pipe, his choice of liquor, or experimentation with sex.  Most often this experimentation was not lasting as one came into the mid-20’s, married and started a family.  The time I was raised in was a time of “God, Mother and Country”, as someone said. I am speaking of the Midwest, because that is where I grew up; of course, I am aware that this was not the case for everyone.

If I were to use the standard of today as a measure, I was sexually abused by a friend and by relatives.  But, in that day it was a time of experimentation, trying to find your place in the world, trying to find who you were, why you were here and curious oh so curious.  As I said, when you “grew up”, and you “put away childish things.”, (I Corinthian 13:11)  no one thought of it anymore.  Kids were kids, that is just the way it was.  They grew out of it and life went on.  .

People know that no one is perfect.  They know this instinctively.  What they do not know is that a believer in the God of the Bible, who has repented of sin, has been forgiven and they are free.  God who, unlike mankind, also forgets.  This does not mean that a believer never sins from that point on, no, the great Apostle Paul, declared at the end of his life that he was the greatest sinner.  He could not forget that he had persecuted the children of the One he now loved and he knew that a human heart is deceitful.

But God does not leave us hanging when we sin, we have an “advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous”.  (I John 2:1)  We can run to Him and He will forgive. That sin is blotted out of the book of our life, through the Blood of Jesus, as if it never existed.

This is the condition of Josh Duggar, who was crucified yesterday in the media for sin when he was a teen-ager.  He is now 27, married to Anna and they have four children.  Josh is a part of the Duggar family, a Christian family who have made their faith and values public through the TV show, “19 Kids and Counting”.

In a day when the offerings on TV include spoiled children, adulterers, fornicators, mediums, bigamists, and murderers, the Duggar family TV show was a breath of fresh air.  I for one am grieved at what this good family is now going through because the world hates righteousness and searches to find something to accuse anyone who believes in the God of the Bible.

It is plain in the Word of God that persecution will come for faith in God.  It is also clear that the source of that persecution is the devil, the “accuser of the brethren”. (Revelation 12:10)  We should not be surprised.  It is also yet another reminder to us that the coming of the Lord Jesus the Messiah draws near.  It has been declared: “Vengeance is mine, I will repay.”  (Hebrews 10:30)  We have also been told to pray for “those who despitefully use you.”  Matthew 5:44

We choose to forgive the people who have risen up against this righteous family, I pray for the Duggars, but I also pray for the people or person in the media who is responsible for bringing this accusation to the public to shame and humiliate the Duggar family.  They do not realize what they have done.  They have poked a finger in God’s eye.  He loves His kids and He will not let this go without dealing with it.  There will be judgment.  “Some men’s sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment and some men they follow after.” (I Timothy 5:24)  “Though the mills of God grind slowly, yet they grind exceeding small.” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I have no doubt that because the Duggar family’s God is also their Father and Jesus is their Savior, that they will arise from this attack stronger than before.  I pray that they will release forgiveness and pray for the media piranhas who are always looking for another juicy story. The Duggars will be fine, I am sure of that.  I have no doubt that many are bringing them to God in prayer.  I pray too, that God will be merciful to the media and move in power to open their eyes, for truly, “they know not what they do.”

I am saddened, but not surprised at the attack that came yesterday and the subsequent cancellation of this wonderful TV program.  It serves as a reminder that we believers are not of this world system, we are only passing through in the 70-90 years that we live here.  Human life is fragile and temporary.

It is written of unbelievers:   “Surely You set them in slippery places; You cast them down to destruction.  Oh, how they are brought to desolation, as in a moment!  They are utterly consumed with terrors.”  Psalm 73: 18-19

A believers confession:  “Whom have I in Heaven but You?  And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You.  My flesh and my heart fail; but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.:  Isaiah 23: 25-26

Where do you stand?  Are you on God’s side or the world’s side.   A decision must be made in this life.  “Now is the day of salvation”  The time of the end draws near, the time of judgment.  Where will you stand in that day?

You are loved by the Lord, the Almighty, Powerful God of Heaven and Earth, but you must believe and receive His way of doing and being right.  Pride will keep you from Him.  Humble yourself and turn to God with all of your heart, soul, mind and body, cry out to God and He will receive you when you come through the Blood of Jesus.

Because I care…Joy

Joanna’s Song

Joanna does not have a voice and cannot tell her story, but I believe that it should be told.  I do not know of anyone with a similar story to hers and I think it would please her for you to know.

“I was a dream within God’s heart before the world was created…because He has a Father’s heart.  He had a plan for my life, and when He created Adam He saw those who would come from his loins; I was among them.  When the world became so wicked, when all men hated God, “Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord” and he and his family were spared the deluge; I was in his loins.   My father Abraham was told that his “seed” would be as the sands of the sea; I was in his loins.  And, when the “fulness of time” had come, I was conceived in my mother’s womb from the seed of my father’s loins.  But…….I never came to birth.”

You are probably thinking that this child was aborted and if so you would be wrong.  Nor was she a product of SIDS, some disease or illness.  I was Joanna’s mother, my husband was her father and the true story, up until now, was known only to a few.

My husband and I married when we were in our mid twenties during the time of the Viet Nam war.  When my husband returned from Viet Nam our intention was to start a family, however, conception did not come.  It was a very distressing time.

From the time I can remember, as a young girl, I wanted nothing more than to be married and have babies.  I had very few “boyfriends” while I was in high school, and for many years after high school I saw no one.  There was a short period of time when I dated, but again nothing that lasted.

When I met my future husband there was something that happened in my heart, I came to realize he was the one I had been waiting for, and now almost 50 years later, that spark is still there.  In fact, I love him more today than I ever have.

We desired a family, but conception did not happen and so there were fertility tests, much sorrow, grief and pain until finally the miracle of conception came.

To our union God brought two sons….God’s gracious gift and Truth teller.  We were blessed to have them.

Joanna’s story begins when our boys were eight and ten.  I am from a family of seven, and though I was not raised in my parents home, I loved a big family and wanted at least six children.  My husband and I did not agree on the number, and as it turned out there were just the two boys….until I became pregnant for the third time.

I am what some would call a “girly girl”.  I love ribbons, lace, fixing hair, etc…the whole dresses, shoes, purses thing.  I wanted a daughter to do all of those things with.  That was the desire of my heart and Scripture says that God gives us the desire of our heart.  I believe He puts the desire in our hearts and then fulfills it.  Others may disagree and that is their prerogative.

When I knew that I was pregnant for the third time I was excited and afraid at the same time because my husband did not want any more children.  As it turned out he was accepting of it.  That, however, is also not the end of the story, for early one morning when I woke up, the Lord put a very serious question to me.

I heard these words:  “Do you want to have this natural child or would you like to have spiritual children.”  You might say, “Why can’t you have both.” , and for some that is possible, very possible and probable, but not for me.

Do you know that God is so personal with each of us that His plan is tailor-made just for us?  In fact, one day He made this statement to me:  “If you had been the only one who needed to be saved I would have died just for you.”  That is almost beyond belief.  There is no earthly love like that!

I asked for a day to think about God’s question and I was given that time.   For some reason, probably only known to God, I am a one track-minded person.  When I do something, that thing is what consumes my heart, my thoughts and actions,  I really cannot explain the process that went on inside of me, but in the end, I chose spiritual children.

The next morning, the Lord came for my decision.  I laid my desire for a daughter on the altar of the Lord and I received future spiritual children by faith.

I made breakfast for my boys and saw them out the door, when I closed the door the cramping came.  Joanna had been two months in my womb when she went home to be with the Lord.  A visit to the doctor confirmed the pregnancy and his statement was, “Normally, when a woman loses a baby we have to do a D&C, but your uterus is clean so we won’t have to.”

Today I am the joyful mother of two handsome sons, who have brought me two beautiful daughters-in-love and ten grand-children.  To this number God has added many spiritual children.   It is a privilege and a responsiblity that I cherish.

The end of this story, this song, is that Joanna awaits her family in Heaven, where she is now thirty-three years earth age.  How I look forward to meeting her and hearing her side of the story.

Pastor Steve Poe tells “The Story” as having  two stories, the Upper Story and the Lower Story.  While John Eldredge tells of the Inner Story and the Outer Story.  The Bible is God’s story, the story of His love as seen through His Son, Yahshua.

This morning I was thinking of John 3:16 where God tells us about His love, His heart for people.  He loved so much that out of that love He gave the ultimate sacrifice, He sent His Son to earth where He was horribly mistreated and ultimately crucified by the Romans.  Jesus died and was buried in a borrowed tomb.  Again not the end of the story, because on the third day He arose.  Today He is with our Father.

Joanna returned to her creator and now you have heard her story, her song.  I pray that it has blessed you, dear reader, or at least caused you to think on these things.

Joy

Jonah’s Story

Jonah felt like he was out-of-place from the beginning of his memory, the black sheep of the family. He grew up in a family of three boys; he was in the middle.  As sometimes happens, his older brother was a diligent hard-working leader type and baby brother was a comedian who kept everyone entertained with his jokes and keen wit.  Jonah was just in the middle with no particular skills, wit or drive to make him a stand-out, he was just Jonah, or so he thought.

Life has a way of going on and on, even when you want to say, “Stop the world, I want to get off.”  Jonah often felt like that recently, in fact he used alcohol to get some relief from the sense of worthlessness that he felt, even if it was only temporary relief.

I have seen low self-esteem, pride and rebellion reflected in many lives.  This seems to be more often the case in men than in women, and usually is because a person feels that they don’t fit in, or they feel worthless, or they feel that they are different.  I believe, this is the case with Jonah.

From the first days of his life Jonah was sweet-tempered with an easy smile.  He loved hugs and gave them freely.   He loved to play outside with his older brother and the neighbor boys.

He found his world an interesting place as a little boy, a bug or some other thing would  fascinate him; he would run in the house to his mother and ask her to, “Come and see what I found.”

When Jonah was five years old he prayed with his mother, asking Jesus to come into his heart.  The next day he told her that Jesus said that he would be a pastor when he grew up.  He denied this in later years, even telling his mother it was her idea.

As he grew, his interest in the world around him, and especially other people, also grew.  At school he had a hard time focusing on doing school work because of this.  He often day-dreamed and did not respond to any correction the teachers tried.  He often asked his mother if they could pray for children in his class or their parents.  God would answer those prayers.

School work was easy for Jonah, but he was not interested in school, most of the time he would follow his flights of fancy, neglecting his homework.  He still got decent grades, without really trying, yet he had the ability to be a straight A student.

When he graduated from high school, his parents wanted him to go to college, but he did not want to, choosing instead to get a job.  This lasted for about a year and at that point he decided he wanted to have a profession, so he applied to a tech school to learn carpentry.

It was at the school that he met his future wife.  She was learning to be an ultra-sound technician.  Her background was dissimilar in many ways to his, but as often happens, “opposites attract”.  The relationship was rocky from the start, but they seemed to be drawn together and it was not long before they were “in love” and wanting to be married.  She became pregnant shortly after that decision.

Mary got her degree from the tech school, but with a wife and a child on the way, Jonah could not continue.  He had to find a job.

At that time, finding a job was a challenge for someone without a college degree, and the only thing available was manual labor.  Another challenge for Jonah was finding a job in the small town they lived in.

Up to this time, Jonah did not give God much thought, but when times get hard and your back is up against the wall, you have little else to turn to and alcohol was only a temporary fix.

Jonah prayed and God provided a job.

The baby was born in the heat of summer.  He was a beautiful boy, so sweet.  He looked a lot like his mother, but with his dad’s disposition.  they named him Jesse.

For a time all seemed to go well, but time marches on and stuff happens.  There were four more children born, a different house purchased to accommodate the growing family.  The company Jonah was working for went out of business and a new job was begun.

At this point in Jonah’s life, he was addicted to cigarettes and alcohol to an increasing degree.  His marriage was shaky and he began to have health problems.  Jonah believed the lie that he was somehow less-than and in his pride, he would not admit that he was wrong and that he had made some bad life choices.

Some people have to hit rock bottom before they realize that the life they have chosen has left them bankrupt and they have no one to blame but themselves.  The Lord God, designed us for a relationship with Himself,  and He said:  “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.”, yet we serve many gods, not the least of which is our own self.

I wish I could tell you the end of Jonah’s story, but the jury is out.  The day will come when Jonah must make a decision, we all get there.  Jonah is called by God to be an under-shepherd, a high and precious calling, one which many have answered and been blessed.  Jonah has run from the call as hard and fast as he could.  Sinning and loving the sin he is in.  Yet miserable in the middle of it all, because God never takes back the call.

People often think that they have time to choose to live for God, but sometimes time runs out before they can make that choice.  Others just don’t make a decision and no decision is a decision…it is, No!

Joshua told Israel as they were preparing to enter into the land that God had promised Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, “Choose this day whom you will serve, as for me and my house we will serve the Lord.”  It is a choice.

What about you friend, are you prepared to enter into eternity?  That is the promised land for every person who has chosen to receive Jesus as the promised Messiah, the lamb of God.  His blood, through His blood, is the only entrance into Heaven, and mental assent will not get you there…you must be born-again, born of the Spirit of God as Jesus said.

I write because I care, because I trust that someone needs to hear, to read, to see, and maybe that someone will turn around and leave their sinful life behind and run to the Lord, maybe that someone is you?

Prayerfully,

Joy

Songs From the Prairie

There are many songs being sung in our world today and none without meaning.  There are as many songs as there are people.

This past week-end I traveled to spend some time with a woman who has been a good friend for well over fifty years.  She was born with a happy song, but with the years, and with circumstances, her song has been diminshed.  Oh, she still laughs and smiles, but her song is now tinged with sorrow and sadness as physical issues require attention, and her strong work ethic is not so easily managed.  Weariness often overcomes her.

My friend and I spent a couple of hours with our god-child, a very successful man who is goal oriented and driven by a dream.  The business he is engaged in is quite lucritive and he has plans for early retirement when he meets his goal.  His pride and joy though are his children, whom he talks about with great excitement.  From an earthly standpoint, he appears to have it all together, but some “worry lines” on his face indicate that even his song has a dark side, perhaps I should say a gray side.  Life is not free of challenges.

I am blessed to have a son and his family in the same area, so I was able to enjoy a few hours with them as well.  The song they sing comes across to me as mostly blue.  As a mother, I wish I was able to wave a magic wand and “make it all alright”, but my Father in Heaven allows me to make my own choices and decisions and some of the greatest lessons I have learned have been because of hard times.  So, I must allow them to sing the blues while I pray that the clouds will part and the Sun of righteousness will shine upon them.

Following the visit with my biological child I enjoyed a visit with my spiritual son and his family.  A visit to their home is always a joy because they have the gift of hospitality.  I feel welcomed and warmed by their kind, gentle attention.  Their home is in the country and because Spring has arrived, at last, in the north country, everything was green and growing.  I love Spring!  I love it because of the new life, the happy song, the hope of harvest, the hope of fruitfulness in the Fall.  I heard Spring’s song and I was refreshed.

Today as I was considering this week-end with the various songs I heard, my thought turned to fruit salad.  Strange you say, yes, I am sure, but then that is how my mind works.

There are many kinds of fruit, each one can be enjoyed individually and yet they can be combined to make a fruit salad.  If people can be compared to fruit, consider this:   You cannot take an apple and turn it into an orange, you cannot take a pear and make it into a banana, nor can you make a blueberry into a cherry.  BUT, you can combine them into a fruit salad that is incredibly wonderful tasting and very nourishing as well.  Throw in some blueberries for anti-oxident power and you are good to go.

Why do we try to make other people into our own image?  Why can we not accept  each other for who we are?  God loves variety, we all sing a different song and that is okay.  He is the author of all of the songs, but what we do with our song is what makes our song a happy song or a sad one.  Decisions matter!

As I thought about fruit salad, I realized that God’s love is the dressing that keeps it all together, adds just the right flavor to it.  It marries all the fruit together into a pleasing delight for the palate.  And yet, each fruit adds its own flavor to the salad.  Wonderful!

That thought led me to unity.  That is what happens when we allow God into our marriage, our family.  It becomes a wonderful blend where each one is loved and accepted as they are, without trying to force one another to be someone they are not, a job by the way, that only the love of God can accomplish.

Uniformity on the other hand is like homoginization, only one distinct flavor.  Milk is homogenized and that is good and right, but homogenized people?  No!

I love variety in food, I love variety in people.  I loved sitting with my friends nephew and his wife talking about their experience in Arizona this winter.  As they shared their time there, I lived it, could see it, could almost smell the ranch, the horses, the mountain air, and that is not my thing, but oh how lovely to be with them and hear the precious song they sang.

You, dear reader, have a song to sing.  You are singing a song in our world whether you realize it or not.  Won’t you consider what song you are singing and whether your song lifts up or pulls down those around you?

Everyone needs hope, everyone needs love and acceptance, everyone needs to be respected and honored, everyone needs to be valued.  As we honor God for who He is, realizing that it is His love that binds all of the different songs into a sympohny of beauty, harmony comes and discord disappears, our lives are changed for the better, the lives of those around us change and we come closer to Heaven on earth.

Yes, I know, Heaven on earth cannot happen yet, nevertheless, unity is the desire of Jesus spoken of in John 17 and each of us can do what we can do to bring that to pass.

Each of us is an instrument and we will play a song.  We must choose if our song will be discord or harmony.  Let us accept others for who they are and allow God to make them into the person that He wants them to be?  He can you know!

I bless you in the name of the Lord Jesus…Joy

Gifted Receivers and Needy Givers

Yesterday I had lunch with my favorite niece.  Even though she and I do not see each other often because we both lead busy lives, each time we get together is a real joy.  We come away with excitement and thanksgiving to the Lord for our relationship and what God is doing in each of us.

We spoke of many things, but mostly it was about the family…hers, mine and ours, catching up on what we all have been doing.  It is wonderful to be a friend with a family member.

I have also been blessed to be the older woman in her life and have taught her the ways of the Lord. Our time of discipleship before her marriage was a three-year period in which God prepared her.  She is married and has six beautiful children.  What a blessing!

Our pastor chided the congregation yesterday that we must bring the good news to the market place.  I desire to do so, though being introverted by nature this is not an easy thing for me. However, yesterday at the restaurant I took the opportunity to do so.

My niece and I had a very attentive older woman wait on us and it seemed quite natural to speak to her about faith.  In keeping with what pastor said, I asked her some questions regarding her country of origin, which was Bangladesh, and a short conversation went on from there.

She and her husband came to America because a large company in New York employed her to sing, although she didn’t seem to want to talk about it further.  She told us that when 911 happened they became frightened and moved to our state to get away.

I wonder how many others ran away in fear of more terrorist attacks?  I was in New York a few days after the 911 attack and I talked with some that were intent on leaving.  In fact one lady had her car and her children packed up and was putting gas in her car to leave that day.  How far is far enough to avoid terror, anxiety or fear?

I asked our waitress what her religion was, she answered that she was Muslim, but that there were many religions in her country.  She emphasized that there was only one God over them all.  She loved to pray, she said, and she wanted us to understand that the terrorists do not represent Muslims.  She further stated that nowhere in the Quaran does it say that violence is acceptable.

I told her that we Christians do not believe that there is only one god or that our God is the same as theirs.  I told her that we believe that a person must be born-again, as the Bible says. We talked of Jesus and she told us that she believes he is a prophet.  I said we believe that He is the Son of God, the Savior of all who come to Him.

She then alluded to denominations in Christianity.  I explained a little to her, but she began to get nervous and ended the conversation.  I pray that she will come to know the one true God, the creator of Heaven and Earth and His Son, Jesus, for true peace can only be found in Him.

How many stories are there?  How many people who are scared and running from something?  How many wrapped up in a religion that, in the end, will not profit them?  And, all the while the truth can be known to anyone who will search it out.

God has not made people to be robots.  Each of us has been given a mind with which we think and examine concepts and ideas, this was a great risk on His part, because then we could choose to rebel against Him.  Many thousands of people have done just that.

In the devotional book, “Jesus Calling”, by Sarah Young, Page 116, the devotion for April 21st, Jesus says,  “Though My blood has fully redeemed you, your mind is the last bastion of rebellion.”  How true that is!

I heard this statement many years ago:  “You cannot keep the birds from flying over your head, but you can keep them from making a nest in your hair.”  We are responsible for what we allow to “bed down” in our mind.  Not every thought we think is from ourselves, not every thought is a God-thought, some thoughts are sourced from the enemy of our soul with the devious purpose to deceive us.  We must know who is speaking to us.

For years of my life I heard many voices.  I did not know any better than to listen to what I heard, after all it sounded like my voice.  Thank God for an older woman of God sent to help me.  For three years this dear saint taught me, disciplined me, trained me and prayed for me.  I would not be where I am today had that not happened.  I have taken great joy in passing this blessing on to others.

It matters what we hear, but it matters more what we entertain or meditate on, because thinking becomes actions and actions make character and character makes a life.  Life lived for self, will always end in disaster, does not fit the mold.  Each of us was created by God to be “Sons of God” and any other pattern will not work.  How often we accept the deviant as the norm, when nothing could be further from the truth.

Know this, dear reader, God loves you, you are each His special creation as it is recorded in Psalm 139 verses 13-16.  Verse 16 tells us that God watches over every conception and the growth of the child in the womb.  Their spirits come from Him who created them and sent them, this is why abortion hurts the heart of God.  Each child is a gift and He is wounded when those gifts are returned to Him.

Oh, if only we could or would see from His point of view!

My mentor told me that  “We are all gifted receivers and we are all needy givers.”  It took awhile before I could grasp the full meaning of this statement, but I have come to believe it.

Bottom line:  No human being, save one, is perfect.  We are all flawed because we are all sinners by the fall of our first parents in Eden.  We all sin and fall short of the mark of perfection, which is the holiness of God.

Thank God we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous!  To Him we can come with all of our short-comings and failures.  He stands in the gap between the judgment we deserve and the holiness we fall short of, He is our Savior, He is the bridge over which we can come to God and be accepted.

Thank God for Jesus!  Thank God for the cross, where He paid a price He did not owe because we owed a price we could not pay.

Blessings to you!

Joy

An Old Tree

With quiet dignity the old olive tree stood.  Having survived the ravages of time, it was now very wide in girth, gnarly and knotty.  Several hundreds of years old, it stood in a garden called Gethsemane, its roots planted deep into the mountain soil where it lived.

If trees could talk they would tell of the times young lovers sat under their leafy boughs and spoke of the new life they soon would share.  The olive tree in Gethsemane would tell of the day a Nazarene entered the garden with His followers and of the passionate way He cried out for deliverance from what lay ahead.

Yes, if trees could talk, the tales they would tell of men, women and children, some who sought refuge beneath their shade in times of trouble, tales of others who gathered there to share food and fellowship.

In modern society, in the United States of America, age is not venerated.  That which is old is discarded.  The elderly are a bother and must be “dealt with” by the young…for this society highly prizes youth.

Everything in American society is geared to touch and reach the young, to the point that even the elderly, now called seniors, must appear young even though they are not.  When they are ready to rest in the twilight of their years, they must still be engaged in activity.  Do not the elderly desreve honor and respect for bearing the heat of the battle?  You know that I am speaking generally.

For a few years I have been noticing signs of aging in my physical body, at first it didn’t bother me, but of late I have begun to be more concerned about it.  Today I read something that brought tears.  Before I share it with you, I want you to know that I am approaching my 75th birthday.  It is incredible to me as I feel like I am 30…on the inside.

It is a shock when I look in the mirror.  In that regard, when I was a young woman my husband’s elderly Aunt shared an experience with me that she’d had the morning before, She told me that she looked into the mirror asked, “Who is that old lady looking at me?”  At that time, I laughed, now I understand.

It matters that you understand that I am not talking about the restrictions of sickness or disease, but rather what people call the natural, normal signs of aging such as wrinkles, thinning hair or lack of strength to do what you once did effortlessly.

I have gone many places in the world, even into my 60’s.  I have not lacked the physical ability to do what was required, so when I began to feel physical limitations, it was upsetting.  I began to complain.  For example, when I travel 10 hours on the train to see my children and come home from that journey, it is now taking me two days to regain my strength.  It doesn’t feel right and I don’t like it.  But, it has been the outward appearance of wrinkles on my face and thinning hair that really began to bother me.  Call me vain if you want this is how I have felt.

Somehow, these things have made me feel “less than”.  This could be because I was raised in the time when the “Star” system was in full swing in Hollywood, and the images portrayed by the movies and the lifestyle of the stars was the “norm”.  (This, of course, was a fantasy world where women were perfect in appearance and men would sweep them off their feet, marry them and they would live happily ever after.)  Now that I find my outward image changing, I have had increasingly emotional reactions to the changes.  Perhaps this has some bearing on it, though I believe there may be other reasons as well.

Faced with these changes in my physical body, knowing that time and change come to all, I have been trying to discern what is normal and what is not, and whether I should just roll with the changes or resist them; my morning devotional time brought light to the subject in the picture of an old tree.

Karen O’Connor, on page 1122 of “The Grandmother’s Bible”, by Zondervan Publishing House, states that she and her husband were walking through the Patriarch Forest in California, “stopping here and there to comment on the shape or color or texture of these amazing specimens that were the only survivors in this soil for thousands of years.”  She marveled that they were still standing in that barren place.

Karen goes on to say that these trees were not graceful like the willow or “tall and slender like a stately palm, but they were elegant in their own way.  The ravages of age and weather had given them a beauty impossible to describe.”  She continues to speak of how she had been “discounting” herself lately, “finding fault with the changes” in her body, when she suddenly had an insight that transformed her thinking.

“How is that that I could see beauty in the trees but not in myself?”, she asked.  “Why is getting older a good thing for a tree, but a bad thing for me”  Why do I look in the mirror and bemoan the wrinkles that line my face but see in the tree a quiet dignity that has nothing to do with shape or age?”

There it was.  A truth that brings light to the darkness.

Who makes the decision that something has value and something has not?  Who decides whether one person has value and another does not?

The answer is not another person, or society.  Each of us was created with “certain inalienable rights”, among which are the “right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”, according to the United States Constitution.

It is the Creator who determines appearance and value.  The creator, God, placed such a high value on human beings that He put in place a plan to redeem us from the sin that came upon all men as a result of the fall into sin in Eden.

That being said, we are human and our emotional makeup is such that we are subject to the world around us and to the message that it is continually sending our way…that we don’t measure up.

Is there not a “quiet dignity”, or should there not be, in a person who has lived long upon the earth?  Should we not revere and respect those who have weathered the ravages of time?  Again, I speak generally.

The phrase, “quiet dignity” stood out and my prayer became,  “Dear Lord, help me to regard this body I am living in with acceptance, without moaning about the ravages of time or complaining about the slowing down I am experiencing.  I ask that I might live and walk in the “quiet dignity” of these old trees.  It is in Jesus name that I ask this.  Amen!

I am joyfully His,

Joy