trent’s weekly smile — 1/14/22

Well, it’s been a long time since I’ve had an opportunity to participate in Trent’s Weekly Smile posts, but I really did want to get back to it. The truth is that I haven’t been posting regularly at all during the past year and a half. Like most people, my whole life — work, social functions, even ministry functions — have been totally messed up with all the covid junk. (I refuse to capitalize that word; it doesn’t deserve to be capitalized.)  There have been a number of things that kept me from smiling. My sister had a battle with cancer during that time, and she passed away in the latter half of 2021. So smiles have been a little hard to come by.

She was the only really close family I had left, although I do try to stay connected with her two sons and their families. This year at Christmas, we felt the need to be connected even more strongly, but on Christmas Eve, one of my nephews and his wife had to be tested for covid, and they couldn’t get the results back in time for us to be together at Christmas. They didn’t have covid (and that in itself is worth a smile), but our window of opportunity for that holiday was past. But not to be defeated, we finally worked out a plan to get together at a later time, so that we could all eat together and open gifts and just have another “family” Christmas.

Now, I come to the ‘SMILE’ part of my story. One of my nephews had bought the newest Oculus Quest for his brother’s kids. Now, I has seen these gizmos and had watched a couple kids having fun with them, but I never even thought about trying one out. But, lo and behold, my nephew who had purchased the Oculus decided his 73-year-old aunt needed to get into the 21st century a little better, so he insisted that I put on the headset and let him instruct me in how to use it.

I’m not sure how many of you readers out there have tried out the Oculus Quest, so some of you probably know a lot more about it than I do even now, but I can say it was truly an experience I hadn’t even imagined. I’ve seen sci-fi movies in which characters experienced some things like I experienced with the Oculus, but I just never really thought about doing so myself. 

It was truly like entering an entirely different world. In fact the scene that came up immediately made me feel that I was standing on a strange planet, and if I hadn’t felt the good old Earth beneath my feet, I would have been a little nervous. I have to say the fact that my nephew and his son made an issue of making sure I had plenty of empty space all around me before I put the headset on was a little unnerving to begin with. My thought was, What am I going to be doing in all this space? But I realized that it was just precautionary since I couldn’t see the real word around me at all once the headset was on.

The options for activities and games that are literally “at your fingertips” is amazing. Just learning how to maneuver the hand sets was an experience. But as strange as it was, it was also delightful. I definitely smiled a lot. And even though it’s been a little more than a week since that experience, I am still smiling every time I remember it. So I figured why not make that the smile I share for this week.

The takeaway from all this experience is two-fold: Remembering it and the comradery with my nephews still makes me smile — and the whole experience has triggered a couple new ideas for brand new stories. And new story ideas always make me smile. So if any of you writers out there haven’t tried out the Oculus Quest yet, you might want to put it on your list of things to do in this New Year.

 


Poems At Christmas – # 3

WINTER FRIENDS

I had a little snowman;
His smile was big and wide.
He was a happy snowman,
When I was by his side.

But since it was quite freezing,
I could not stay and play,
And when I had to go in,
He followed me one day.

I hurried to the fireplace
To warm my hands and toes,
And suddenly I found myself
Adrift in melted snow.

My happy little snowman
Had come inside to play,
Not knowing that the warm fire
Would melt him quite away.

But not to worry, dear friends;
I’ve dipped him up you see,
And poured the water outside
Where it will now refreeze.

Then I’ll scoop him back up
Add some fresh snow too,
And mold him back together
So he’ll be good as new.


Being Present

I glanced at the screen on my cell phone this morning and noted the date: Friday, December 17, 2021. And normally I would have laid the phone down and gone on about my business, giving the information very little thought. But, for some reason, I was suddenly struck by the thought that this was going to be the only day I would ever see that particular date. It is a reality today, but only for today, and when it’s gone, it’s gone. I know — some of you are thinking — what on earth is she talking about? Does this woman have nothing else to do with her time?  🙂

Actually, I had a whole list of things I needed to do with my time today, but I just couldn’t get away from that thought for quite a while. I realized pretty quickly that the Lord was taking advantage of that date on the phone to get me to focus on the fact that I needed to be cognizant of today. I didn’t need to be thinking about yesterday and all the stuff I didn’t get done, or that I did wrong, or even what I did right. I lived yesterday completely, and it’s gone. And He didn’t want me focusing on all the plans coming up for the next week, trying to figure out how I could make them all work out.  He especially didn’t want me focusing on all the possible future things that had the power to cause me worry or fear. 

He wanted me focusing on Him and what was on His heart for me to do and be today. He has plans for all of us that are good. But He so seldom gets our full attention long enough to be able to make us understand what those plans are and to get us to carry them out. I’m convinced from my many decades of walking with God that there isn’t a day that goes by that He doesn’t have some good things in mind for us to be a part of.

So as I contemplated the truth about this day being a unique gift that will come to me only once in my entire lifetime, I realized that I too wanted to be focused on what I could do and be that was good today. And I wanted to focus on some good things that could come my way as well — things that wouldn’t have an opportunity to come to me tomorrow or next week — but just today. I kept hearing this admonition in my heart: “Be present in this day. Enjoy it. Be grateful for it. Live it to the fullest.”

As those thoughts lodged in my heart, I was reminded of a little short story I wrote several years ago — a sort of “take-off” from Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. I was participating in a writing challenge in which we were supposed to write about some of the characters as if they were living today. One of those stories made the very point that the Lord was making to me today about being present in the here and now. So I thought I’d share it here in this post. It fits into the season, since I’ve borrowed the Spirit of Christmas Present. Some of you might remember the story, and several of you will be reading it for the first time. But I hope it spurs each of you on to focus on being truly present in your day today — and then to do so again tomorrow — and the next day — and — well, you know.

THE SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS PRESENT: LIVING IN THE HERE AND NOW

Reggie sat slumped in his chair, his right leg carelessly propped over the chair arm, gloom written all over him. He’d been this way for weeks, and hitting the bottle wasn’t helping him any. It just gave him a horrible headache the next morning. So tonight, he’d left off the booze, but he sat in a stupor anyway.

“Well, what a pretty picture you make tonight, Reginald, old boy!” The voice jolted him upright; he looked around.

“Who’s there?”

The voice took shape: on the sofa to his right, a well-tailored man gradually came into focus, lounging with his feet propped on the coffee table. “I’m generally called Spirit of Christmas Present. That’s what your Uncle Ebeneezer called me.”

“Oh, so you’re the one who supposedly helped him straighten out his life, huh?”

The figure shrugged. “Among others.”

“Well, you can go back where you came from,” Reggie said, at the same time making a shooing motion with his hand. “I don’t need anything you have to say!”

“You need a hammer to your head!,” his visitor replied. “It’s just a shame I’m not allowed to give it to you.”

“Hey, where do you get off talking like that to me? Threatening to hit me in the head with a hammer! For what?”

“For constantly trying to live in a time dimension that it’s impossible for you to inhabit. You’re always trying to live either in the past – sucking on your memories the way a baby does his thumb – or in the future – always focusing on next week or next year. It’s stupid. Your memories make you miserable, and your future makes you anxious and edgy because it holds problems you don’t have answers for yet.”

“Oh, I get it. You’re here because you think you’re going to fix me?”

“No … I’m going to tell you how you can fix yourself.”

“Well, just maybe I don’t want to be fixed. What do you think about that?”

“Your uncle didn’t think he wanted to be fixed either – until he saw where his life was leading him. Do we have to give you the same kind of detailed, guided tour of your life that we did for him?”

“Who’s we?”

“You know – the Spirits of Christmas Past and Future, and yours truly.”

Reggie shivered in his chair. He would never consider admitting to this strange visitor that he believed what had happened to his old uncle, but he did have to admit to himself that he’d seen the changes in Ebeneezer first hand. And when his uncle had described his experience, it had sent cold chills down Reggie’s spine. He certainly didn’t want any more of that.

“Okay, okay. Just give me your spiel and let me get back to my contemplation.”

“What you were … contemplating … as you call it … was how sorry you are for yourself. And what I’m going to tell you will set you free from all your self-pity and wasted life if you’ll take heed to it.”

“Okay, okay, get on with it.”

“Well, it’s actually very simple, Reggie. You simply have to make yourself be where you are.”

“Huh?” Reggie shook his head briskly and sat forward in his chair, looking more intently at his visitor. “What the heck does that mean?”

His visitor sighed. “It means, Reg, that you need to live in the present hour — every hour of your life. Live now. You can’t re-do yesterdays, Reggie, and the future is nothing but a long series of ‘now’s’ that you’ll eventually experience one at a time. But when you get to them, you’ll have what it takes to deal with each of them. Trying to worry ahead of time about what might or might not be in those ‘now’s’ is ridiculous because you can’t even begin to know what they’ll be like. So why exhaust yourself worrying about them? And why drive yourself to drink by sitting around pitying yourself for the things that have already happened and can’t be changed?”

Reggie hung his head. “Yeah, I guess I have to admit my life’s a bummer coming and going.”

His visitor jumped up from the sofa, and Reggie looked up at him, a little fearful.

“Then for heaven’s sake, man, quit coming and going – hopping from your sad past to your unreadable future! Start living where you are and when you are. Take one day at a time, and one hour at a time. Look at it, feel it, taste it; let it soak into you; enjoy everything you can about it, and if you can’t enjoy it, then learn something from it. But live it. Start really living each one of those moments in your life, Reggie, and you’ll be surprised at the outcome.”

“But I don’t think I know how.”

“It isn’t rocket science, Reggie. As I said at the beginning of our conversation: it’s simple. You just have to decide to do it. And I’m not telling you everything will be the way you want it. Your life – like anyone else’s – will have its ups and downs. It may not always be great – but at least it will be real.”

Reggie hung his head again, leaning over with his elbows on his knees, trying to get a better handle on the fact that he was listening to some vision that had just suddenly appeared in his living room. He had to admit that what his visitor said gave him the first inkling of hope that he could actually have a better life.

“Yeah, you might be right.” He surprised himself by saying the words aloud. He was still looking down at the floor but his mind was going back over his visitor’s words. Even though it felt a little spooky hearing them from this apparition, he knew in his heart that he needed to try to follow the advice.

“I’ll do it!” he said as he looked back up to the visitor to confirm his decision. But then he blinked. The room was empty.



Poems of Christmas – # 2

IF YOUR TINSEL’S IN A TANGLE

Is your tinsel in a tangle?
Is your wreath hung at an angle?
Are you starting to feel stressed and quite undone?

Is your credit card maxed out?
Are the kids bored, in a pout?
Have you given up the hope of having fun?

Well, forget the tangled messes
And the aggravated voices,
And forget about more shopping that’s not done.

Stop the hassle and the frazzle;
Look away from what bedazzles
To the reason for the season. There’s just one.

Jesus Christ – He is the reason.
His birth brought about the season,
For the Father gave His one and only Son.

If you’ll focus on His coming,
You will hear your heart start humming,
And will find your merry Christmas has begun.


Excerpted from my book of Christmas and winter poems: KEEPING CHRISTMAS.


on a roll with my christmas bags

Yay!  I’m on a roll getting my Christmas gift bags painted. Usually, I’m running very close to Christmas getting any of these done. But I now have 4 completed, and I may get two more finished by the end of the day. Both of the newest ones have a touch of gold, which really adds to the holiday spirit. The one with blue flowers is done in watercolor, and the one with red roses is acrylics. I think I probably get more fun out of painting them than recipients do out of receiving them, but that’s okay. I paint mainly to destress and relax anyway. And I love anything Christmasy. So bring on the bags.

 


KEEPING CHRISTMAS

CHRISTMAS POETRY: Wonderful gift for someone you love.
 
Christmas is my favorite time of year, so, naturally, I’ve written multiple poems about it. This year, I decided that it was time to collect them from the various nooks and crannies where they’ve been tucked away and bind them up together as my special Christmas gift to friends and family. I hope some of you, my WordPress friends and family will enjoy them as well.
 
A unique collection of my own works — a variety of poetic forms and themes celebrating the delights of winter and especially the Christmas holidays. Readers will enjoy the diversity of this collection, which covers funny, nostalgic, inspirational, and faith-building aspects of the Christmas season.
 
The cover features my own artwork as well. Soft-cover, 5 1/2 x 81/2, 49 pages. $5.00. You can get your copies from Amazon, or you can get signed copies from me if you live in the U.S. Sorry about not shipping outside the U.S. The cost is astronomical for so many places right now.
 
Order from Amazon this week to guarantee copies before Christmas. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09M79NN3H
 

AH, THANKSGIVING, HOW I LOVE YOU!

Leading up to our Thanksgiving Day celebration in the U.S., I’m doing a few posts that revisit some of my poems that focus on that holiday. I hope you enjoy them, whether you’re reading them again or for the first time.


Community-wide Thanksgiving Dinner

Ah, Thanksgiving, how I love you!
Golden crowning jewel of Fall,
Beacon of warmth and cam’raderie,
Sending glad invitation to all:

“Gather to worship; gather to visit;
Gather to focus on all that’s worthwhile;
Feast from tables resplendent with harvest;
Feast on the love in a touch and a smile.”

All the year’s labors weigh heavy upon us.
All the world’s problems seem bigger by far.
But out from that wearisome struggle you call us,
And laying it down, we run to where you are.

And whether in cottages, mansions, or churches,
Community buildings, or tables in parks,
We gather with gratitude full – overflowing;
To the Giver of blessings lift voices and hearts.

Then we return to life’s pattern awaiting.
Filled up with joy, we set off on our way,
Warmer and richer and kinder in spirit
For pausing to celebrate Thanksgiving Day.


PERFECT THANKSGIVING GIFT

Here it is: The perfect little Thanksgiving gift for those you want to bless during this time of gratitude for God’s abundant blessings in our lives. This small soft-cover book is a seasonal collection of scriptures, pictures, and Thanksgiving poems and essays by my father Ted Pavloff and me. The cover features the photography of my sister Brenda Calvert, so it’s really a family collaboration.

Only 25 pages long, measuring 5 1/5 x 8 1/2,  it is just the right size to pick up and enjoy for a few moments of seasonal pleasure in the weeks anticipating Thanksgiving Day or in the hours after dinner, when you’re letting your turkey and dressing settle.

$4.00 on Amazon. You can find your copy at this link.


creating christmas cards

It’s the time of year, when I start creating Christmas cards for the new holiday season. This is the front of the very first card for the 2021 Christmas season. I think I’m going to leave the inside of this one blank so the sender will have plenty of room for his own personal message or even a short note. I did the original work in watercolor, and then turned it into prints for the cards.


Maundy Thursday – What It Means for Christians Today


Today is Maundy Thursday, the day in the Easter season when we celebrate Jesus instituting what we generally refer to as “The Lord’s Supper” or “Holy Communion.” But many Christians have no in-depth understanding of all that meal involves or how it can affect our lives in this natural world when we take it as the Lord originally intended. I’m sharing here an excerpt from my book “HEALING IS FOR YOU!” in an effort to bring greater light and revelation concerning the power in the Lord’s Supper for everyone who will believe.

THE LORD’S SUPPER / HOLY COMMUNION

When we partake of the Lord’s Supper, or Holy Communion, we need to realize that we are coming into vital contact with Jesus Himself and should expect that something definite will happen to us for our good. The beauty of God’s plan in instituting this meal of faith far surpasses what most churches allow for it. The meal itself is really only a part of the original Passover meal instituted the night before God led the Israelites out of Egypt. Therefore, in order to understand its power for us, we need to go back and look at the Passover carefully.

In Exodus, chapter 12, we have the story. The Lord instructed the Israelites to take an unblemished lamb, one per household, and slaughter it at twilight. They were warned not to break any bones in the lamb’s body and to roast it that evening and eat it at once. Nor were they to leave any of it overnight; but must burn any leftovers. This action prohibited anyone not in relationship with God from partaking of the benefit of this sacrifice, which, of course, looked forward to Jesus. They were then to take hyssop and dip it into the blood of the lamb and apply it to the doorposts and lintels of their houses.

All Israelites were to stay inside their houses, under the blood, if they would be spared. The Lord told them that the destroyer would come through the land of Egypt and kill every firstborn in Egypt – not just Egyptian firstborn – but every firstborn, both of man and livestock. The only escape from this plague was the one instituted by God Himself – the blood of the unspotted lamb on the door-posts. Anyone within the house covered by the applied blood was kept safe. Notice that God did not give them a choice of avenues of escape that depended on their personal preferences; nor does He give us choices, beloved. If we want God’s protection and help, we must follow His plan for receiving it or lose out.

All who followed the Lord’s instructions were delivered from the plague of death that night, but that was not all of the Passover meal’s benefit. Psalm 105:37 tells us that when He brought them out (the very next day) there was not one in the estimated two and a half to three million people who were sick or unable to travel. Let’s read it right from God’s Word: “He brought them out with silver and gold; and among His tribes there was not one who stumbled.” That word stumbled in the Hebrew language means literally “to be feeble, weak, cast down, or decayed”. Praise God!

You know, beloved, that in the natural, a group of that size would have its share of people who were suffering from disease and degeneration of body, who would not be in any shape to make an exhausting trip like the one that lay before them. So there must have been something miraculous that took place from the time they partook of the lamb the previous evening to the time of departure. The blood broke the power of the plague and death, and the body of the lamb, blessed by God and eaten according to His exact instructions, imparted physical health and strength to these obedient people.

1 Corinthians 5:7 says, “… For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed.” Jesus Christ is considered the final Passover Lamb – the final sacrifice to break the power of the curse and death. The Lord told Israel that they were to celebrate the Passover meal as an everlasting celebration throughout all generations. When Jesus celebrated it with His disciples He explained that the elements of that meal, indeed the meal itself, was looking forward to His coming and completing the plan of God for man’s total deliverance; not just from Egypt, but from sin and all the curse that resulted from it.

If you take time to study the Passover meal, you find that certain elements, particularly a portion of bread and a glass of wine, were always set aside in recognition of the coming Messiah. However, Jesus took these very elements and handed them to His disciples saying, as in Matthew 26:26-28: “… Take, eat; this is My body,” and “Drink from it, all of you; for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins.”

He’s telling them that from now on, they won’t partake of the Passover celebration to remember the great deliverance from Egypt, but to remember the finished work accomplished by Him for our ultimate deliverance from sin and all its evil consequences. Moreover, they are to believe that as they partake of the elements of the meal, they also partake, in a special way, of the powerful effects of His blood (which breaks the power of sin and its curse) and His body (which took our infirmities and carried away our diseases). That Body and Blood have overcome, and bring to each of us that same victory.

That is why the Lord moved on St. Paul to write in 1 Corinthians 11:27-30:
“Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself, if he does not judge the body rightly. For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep (die).”

Many Christians mistakenly think that when the Word refers here to judging or discerning the body rightly, that it means discerning the body of believers – the church – as the body of Christ. However, that is not the case. In the following chapter of 1 Corinthians, reference is made to the body of believers being recognized. But in these verses, the Lord is referring to the actual physical body of Christ that was sacrificed for us.

Note verse 27 again. If we fail to acknowledge that in this meal we are coming into vital contact with that body and blood and its accomplished work, we are guilty of both the body and blood of the Lord Himself. And then verse 30 extends the instruction by saying that many are sick and dying early because they have failed this acknowledgment.

It is an understatement to say that this is not an experience to trifle with. It carries within it the power of life and death. The Word speaks of examining or judging ourselves before we partake. That does not mean, dear believer, that we are to see all of our shortcomings and sins and say we are just too unworthy to partake. No, not at all. We are to see our sins, but we are to see the glorious power in the body and blood offered for us to wipe out those sins and their power over us.

We can’t make ourselves worthy to receive the Lord’s Supper. But acknowledging that we need it so desperately and that it embodies the elements that worked our deliverance from sin, the world, and our flesh, is what makes us ready to partake of it and all its merits. When we come to the Lord’s table, we must be sure that we believe that He is there and that these elements bring the real power of His death and resurrection to us – spirit, soul, and body. Some of the people of Corinth were sick and dying because they were eating this meal just like they would any other. They were ignoring the presence of the very God Himself, Who worked their salvation.

The other side of this coin is that when we truly believe and receive in this meal the Lord Jesus Himself and the full effect of His sacrificed, resurrected body and blood, we can receive into ourselves all that was purchased for us by Him – not the least of which is healing. There have been times in my experience, when I believed God for physical healing and felt led to partake of the Lord’s Supper in sweet communion with the Lord alone. I took my unleavened bread and wine and went apart by myself with the Lord. I meditated on what the Word says His body and blood have accomplished for me, and I prayed that He would meet me at that very moment with a special releasing of those blessings. I have never failed to experience results in those cases. I have done the same at times when I needed healing in my soul also, with equal benefit.

I know believers who have been led to partake of the Lord’s Supper every day, or several times a day, for a period of time, while seeking healing from the Lord, only to have the full benefits of His body and blood manifested in their flesh as a result. Many have been the testimonies, also, of believers who had been holding onto the Lord for some time for the miracle they needed, and during communion service at church, as they truly perceived the presence of the Lord, they received their healing need met.

This is not some formula, beloved. But this is one of the many avenues God has provided for us to be able to release our faith and receive from Him. As we have said before, everything of God has healing and life in it. You must draw close to the Lord and let His Spirit lead you into which avenue or combination of avenues will bring the manifestation of your miracle
 

Palm Sunday Message: ‘You Don’t Have to Be a Christian to Call on Jesus’

“Here comes Jesus!”

“Jesus of Nazareth is coming!”

“Do you see Him yet?”

“Here He comes!”

“Here comes Jesus!”

Excitement was rampant, and cries of “Hosanna” filled the air. Shouts of joy and triumph could be heard for miles along the road, and people rushed to lay palm branches and their personal garments as a carpet of welcome. Jesus of Nazareth was coming to Jerusalem.

This carpenter-teacher who had journeyed among them for nearly three years, teaching them, healing them, feeding them, forgiving them, raising their dead. This miracle worker, this wise man, this man who was gentle enough to draw crowds of children to his side yet bold enough He would soon drive money-changers from the temple with a whip — this man whom many claimed was the prophesied Messiah of Jehovah — this man was coming again to Jerusalem! I’m sure, had we been there, we would have heard the message repeated over and over again for miles: “Here comes Jesus! Here comes Jesus!”

We in the Christian world celebrate that event on one special day out of the year, and we call it Palm Sunday. We have special services and some of us wave palm branches in the air to commemorate the day that is often referred to by church historians as Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. But that event happened over 2000 years ago. One could say it’s all history now; it’s been said and done;  it’s over.

But not so, my friends! I am thrilled beyond words to be able to tell you that Jesus is still coming to anyone and everyone who would like to receive Him. He’s a living, vital, right-now Jesus. He is the I AM (The self-existent one who causes all other things to be; the one who is and becomes whatever He desires to become — Hebrew definition). And the great I AM desires to become everything that His creation needs.

Jesus of Nazareth is alive today, and He’s still loving people, teaching people, feeding people, forgiving people, delivering people, healing people and making  them whole. And, yes, He’s still raising people from the dead. He’s the same Jesus who fulfilled the words of the ancient prophets by riding  into Jerusalem on a donkey that day.  He’s the same Jesus who worked myriads of miracles for the people. He’s the same Jesus who went to the cross to pay for the rebellion and sin of all the human race.

He’s the same Jesus who rose from the grave and took His throne as Lord of the universe. He’s the same Jesus who promised that if we would call on Him and receive Him as Lord, He would freely fill us with His own eternal life and with power to serve Him. He’s the same Jesus who promised that after our life of service to Him on this earth, we would move on to Heaven and live with Him forever. No questions —  no if’s, and’s or but’s. No struggling to get there, no sacrifice, no hard work, no price to pay. Jesus did the work. We receive the benefit.  And the Word of God,  Hebrews 13:8, says “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever.”

So I can tell you confidently: “Here comes Jesus!  He’s coming to you today! He’s coming because He sees your need; He sees your trouble; He sees your sorrow; He sees your pain; He sees your desperation; He sees your hopelessness; He hears your questions; He hears your confusion; He hears your private crying. He’s coming to you because He loves you.

Did you know that you don’t have to be a Christian for Jesus Christ to love you? Sometimes we who call ourselves Christians tend to flock together so tightly that we become almost like a clique, and the rest of the world feels as though they can’t break through the wall to become a part. We don’t intentionally form a clique, of course. Occasionally it just happens as a result of our thoughtlessness. But my message to the “rest of the world” today is that you don’t have to become a part of the “clique of Christianity.”  All you have to do is get to know Jesus, the real person.

And did you know that you don’t have to be a Christian to call on Jesus? That’s right. Jesus isn’t listening just for the call of the Christians. Certainly, He’s attuned to their cries and He rushes to their help when they need Him, but Jesus the Christ is listening — intently — for the cries of all the millions of  His creation in this world who don’t know Him at all. His heart is waiting expectantly for their voice to call out His name. And He’s ready to answer that call swiftly. He’s ready to come home with you at any time.

When Jesus walked the earth, He was often found in the homes of those who were not active believers. People whom the scriptures refer to as “publicans” and “sinners” found that Jesus was more than willing to spend time with them and teach them the truth about God — and show them God’s love by healing their sick and delivering those in demonic bondage. In fact, He often received hateful criticism from the religious leaders of His day because He gave Himself so freely to those who did not have a relationship with the true God. But Jesus’ response was simply that His main reason for coming into the earth was to find those who did not know Him and offer Himself to them.

Zacchaeus was one such man. (His story is told in the Word of God, the book of Luke, chapter 19.) Although technically a descendant of Abraham, Zacchaeus was chief among publicans — which means he made his living working for the Roman government, collecting taxes from his fellow Israelites — and, by his own admission, cheating them. He had heard about Jesus, but he was no believer. However, he was curious, and as Jesus passed through Jericho, right before his entry into Jerusalem on the donkey, Zacchaeus, a short man,  climbed into a tree so that he could see and hear Jesus easily. Jesus called him down from the tree and invited Himself to Zacchaeus’ house.

Zacchaeus recognized Jesus as the Messiah and opened to Him his home and his heart. We know that he invited Jesus in with his whole heart, because, after spending only a short time with Him, Zacchaeus voluntarily confessed his sin of cheating and promised to make restoration of everything with interest. Jesus did not ask Zacchaeus to do so. The man simply opened his heart to Jesus, and a changed nature was the result.

So, I will say once more: You do not need to be a Christian to call on Jesus. No matter what religious tag you wear — including that of “Atheist” —  that tag will not keep Jesus from coming to you if your heart is reaching out for Him and inviting Him in. What will happen to that religious tag after you meet Jesus? Who cares?  I can guarantee you — without qualification — that if you ever meet the real Jesus, you won’t care.

Here comes Jesus!  He’s coming to us today — Christian and non-Christian — He’s coming. With words of comfort and reassurance to destroy fear — with delivering power to destroy the yokes of the devil — with healing and wholeness for body, mind, and spirit — with wisdom and direction that leads to successful solutions — with the power of His Holy Spirit and all of the anointing for service — with eternal life to overcome death once and for all and forever.

Jesus is coming!  He’s coming to you!  Right now! Open your heart to Him and let Him meet all of your needs today.

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Picture courtesy of Wikipedia commons: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Jesus_entering_jerusalem_on_a_donkey.jpg