FREE TO ANY U. S. PASTOR — ‘THE TRUTH ABOUT ST. PAUL’S THORN’

FREE TO ANY PASTOR IN THE U. S. WHO WOULD LIKE TO HAVE A COPY.
 
My booklet that casts down and clears way all the lies concerning St. Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” is now available in digital as well as paperback. And I’m offering a free copy (digital or paperback) to any pastor in the U. S. who would like to have one.
 
If you’re a pastor who wants a copy, please e-mail me at the following address and give me your mailing address or the e-mail address if you want a link for a digital copy. If you don’t have a Kindle, Amazon provides a free app that works on any device you have.

 

Contact me here: radicalaboutjesus@gmail.com

 

Anyone else can purchase them from Amazon. The paperback is still at the introductory price of $4.00.
The E-Book is $1.99.

 

I’m including the description from the back cover here:
“A straightforward, easy to understand message that cuts through all the lies of traditional and denominational doctrines to reveal the truth about St. Paul’s ‘thorn in the flesh.’ Shining a bright light on the scripture passages involved, Bible teacher Sandra Pavloff Conner exposes the lies that have been misrepresenting this experience in Paul’s life for centuries as she lets the Word of God interpret and explain itself.”
 

NATIONAL VIETNAM WAR VETERANS DAY

Photo includes U. S. troops of the 327th Inf, and 101st Abn Bde. Courtesy of https://nara.getarchive.net/media

So many thousands of young men and women paid an awful price by giving their lives. More thousands have been paying the price ever since coming home, because the traumatic effects of serving in this war — and then being rejected by their own countrymen — have never come to an end for them.

A few years ago, while doing research for a book, I interviewed some men who served in the Vietnam War. Their stories were horrific and even now bring tears to my eyes just remembering. I obviously don’t have space here to recount all that was shared with me, but I’m impressed to share one story from a man who was held prisoner for years in some of the most brutal North Vietnamese prisons, including the “Hanoi Hilton.”

He related the details of how they were kept in isolation and tortured in prison camps (before being moved to the “Hanoi Hilton”), and how one of the worst experiences was being isolated in huts and having no way to communicate with the other prisoners also suffering isolation and torture. He explained that in one such prison, the prisoners gradually worked out a plan to grasp onto any tiny pieces of paper or cloth of any kind – a possible gum wrapper dropped by a guard, a scrap of envelop blown against the hut by the wind – a torn piece of cloth from a garment – whatever they could find that could be written on. Then because they had no ink, they would use their own blood to write with, using a twig to make the marks on the paper or cloth. 

In order to get the blood to use as ink, they would cut their own bodies with whatever they could find that worked. He showed me how a few of the men who, for some unexplained reason, still had very small combs in their possession, swung their arms around and around to get the blood to flow into their fingers more forcefully, and then they would stab at the backs of their fingers with the teeth of those combs to get the blood to flow. He said it seemed that since the finger area has very little flesh, it didn’t take a deep would to get blood flowing from them. They then dipped the twig into their blood and wrote little notes to other prisoners and secretly passed them from man to man whenever they were moved about and got within close proximity to other prisoners.

I’m not sure why this particular experience had such an impact on me, but it did. I think partly it was because of the terribly cruel treatment that accompanied it, but also because of the incredible resilience of the human spirit: Those men absolutely refused to surrender to the cruelty and give up the will to connect with other men of like spirit and try to encourage and comfort them. They made a way when there was no way because the human spirit is stronger than the demonic powers that try to suppress and destroy it.

So today, I just want to say to all those who served and sacrificed — and who are still trying to recover — we acknowledge you and thank you with our whole hearts. I wish we could do more to make it up to you.


MY CADILAC FOR YOUR CAMEL – RERUN

It’s been a long time since I first shared this video, so I thought I’d give it a fresh airing, along with an invitation to visit my ministry YouTube channel if you haven’t yet done so. If you’d like to be notified each time we post a new video, just click the “Subscribe” button, and click on the little bell symbol to control the setting for your notifications. 

Now enjoy this encouraging message.

Copyright 2019 Radical About Jesus Ministries

WHAT DO YOU SEE # 121 – ‘THE CHOICE’

image courtesy of Olga Solodilova @ unsplash.com

The question for this week is “What do I see in this picture?”  Well, I have to say that I see a rejected lover here, and my response is to try to put his feelings into words in a short free verse poem. If you’d like to participate in the WDYS challenge, visit Sadje’s blog here.

*******

THE CHOICE

I dreamed
that you would love me
as I love you.

But now,
even as my flowers
caress you face,

You dream
of someone else;
you are with him.

How then
can I find healing
for my heart?

Sometimes
love causes pain
that can’t be cured.

The choice:
to love and lose
or never love

Remains
for each of us.
I choose to love.

 



JOSEPH’S DECISION – #whatdoyousee – 2/8/22

Picture Prompt: From Google Images

I just discovered the “what do you see” writing challenge today, and as soon as I saw the picture prompt, I was transported back to a story I wrote some time ago. But it fits the prompt so well, that I thought I’d share it rather than write a different one. I hope that’s okay. If you’d like to participate in the challenge you can find the details at the KEEP IT ALIVE blog.

JOSEPH’S DECISION

Joseph sat on the bus, staring out the window, unseeing for the first twenty minutes. His mind just needed rest. So much data – so many words – such volatile emotions – too much to deal with right now. His eyes hurt from the glare of the sun, and he needed to close them for a while. Not yet, though. He couldn’t let himself – not so soon. He couldn’t bear to close himself up in his own private world – his own private hell. Not yet. He had to keep his eyes open so that light and color and motion would bombard his mind for at least a little while longer.

The knot in his chest had loosened some. Maybe that was due in part to the even rhythm of the moving bus and the almost imperceptible sound of the wheels against the hot pavement – things, no doubt, completely unnoticed by the majority of the passengers. But Joseph noticed. He seemed especially attuned to sounds and movement in a new way today. All of it seemed amplified somehow. He let out a deep sigh. I’m probably amplifying them in my own imagination, he thought, to keep my mind off the bitter news I just got.

Finally, thanks to the gentle rocking of the bus, he leaned his head against the back of the seat and let his eyelids drift shut. Another deep sigh. Okay, Joseph, it’s time to deal with it. You can do it, Joe.

He took a deep breath. There, that’s better. Another deep breath. That’s it, Joe. Slow and easy – in – and out – in – and out. See, you’re still alive and breathing. Nothing’s changed all that much.

His thoughts drifted back to Dr. Samuels’ office. He shivered slightly at the memory of how cold he’d felt sitting there on the examination table in just his undershirt and shorts. The sterile smell of the room still clung to his nostrils, and his mind replayed images of the signs on the walls describing various ailments and reminding doctors to wash their hands. He’d read every sign at least a dozen times over the years and knew them by heart, but he still read them every time. It was something to do while he waited for Dr. Samuels, and it kept his mind occupied so that he didn’t try to figure out what the next report might be.

Prior to today’s appointment, he’d imagined numerous possible scenarios and played them over in his mind. Dr. Samuels might say this … and then I would say that … or … maybe he’ll tell me this, and I’ve already made up my mind what my answer will be to that. He closed his eyes a little tighter, stifling a low, mirthless chuckle. Funny – I never – not once – even considered a report like the one I got.

He felt something jostle his arm, so he opened his eyes, looking toward the empty seat on his left. A small, elderly lady had just sat down, and her purse had bumped his arm. “Oh, excuse me,” she said. “I’m so sorry.”

He sat up a little straighter and gave his head a slight shake, hoping to clear it. He hadn’t even noticed the bus had stopped. He glanced out the window and realized they had already come half way to his destination. One more stop, and then he’d be at his own jumping off place. Home. It used to always give him a warm feeling to walk up the small concrete sidewalk, step up onto the little porch alcove with the rose trellis on either side, and open his front door to the cozy living room/office where he devoted hours to the work he loved so well.

Writing was his life – had been ever since his young adulthood. There had never been a marriage. He had hoped there would be a time or two, but it hadn’t worked out. And he wasn’t too sad about it. He had a good life: great friends, great audiences for his books, and a family of his own making. The characters that populated his best-selling novels had been born out of him, hadn’t they? And he loved them – everyone of them – even the villains. And many had been the days when he had rushed home, bursting through the front door with ideas literally pouring from his brain faster than he could get to the keyboard and turn them into words.

Well, Joe, it won’t be the same anymore. Everything’s changed now. He focused on the passing scene outside the window. He read a sign on one of the buildings. Then he read a street sign … and another. The bowling alley sign came next. He was seeing all of them for the zillionth time, but he read every word on every one. He had to keep himself from thinking anymore right now.

Finally, the sign for his own stop came into view. As the driver made the announcement and slid the bus to a smooth stop, Joseph began to rise from his seat, but suddenly he realized his legs felt like lead. He sat back down momentarily, and the lady beside him looked concerned. “Are you all right, sir?”

He made a quick recovery and tried to smile at her. “Y – yes,” he answered. “I think my leg went to sleep. I’ll try to get up more slowly.”

He knew there was nothing wrong with his ability to walk. It was the result of the shock he’d had. The trauma of the news had been enough to shock a better man than he was. He focused all of his mental reserves on making his legs function normally, and finally managed to get up and move out into the aisle. From there, he moved by rote down the steps and through the door to the sidewalk.

As he started down the walk to the next block and his own house, he was amazed that everything around him looked exactly the same. The street looked the same. The traffic whizzed by as usual. The few people he passed looked normal. They spoke a word of greeting and smiled just as if he hadn’t changed at all. Yet his entire world had been wiped out with one simple sentence less than an hour ago.

The roses smelled the same as he stepped onto his porch and inserted his key in the lock. Stepping into the room, he let his eyes search out all the pieces of furniture and equipment that provided his comfortable, peaceful, productive life. He closed the door behind him and walked farther into the room. You’re home Joe. Really home … and it hasn’t changed a bit. It’s exactly the way you left it.

He started to genuinely relax for the first time since he’d stepped into Dr. Samuels’ office three hours ago. He pulled off his jacket, yanked his tie loose and tossed it on the chair after the jacket. He walked to the refrigerator and grabbed a bottle of his favorite juice, downing half of it in one drink. His stomach had been so knotted up when he left the doctor’s office that he hadn’t even tried to get lunch. In fact, he’d thought he could never eat or drink again. But he took another drink now. It felt really good going down. And, come to think of it, one of those frozen dinners he’d stocked up on yesterday sounded downright appetizing.

He kicked off his shoes, ambled over to the computer desk, and sat down. Touching the mouse, he focused on the screen. There it was: the new baby – novel number twenty-five – bright and shiny and full of life – staring right back at him from the screen with the familiar challenge that compelled him to create another chapter and another and another. Every word was a part of him – his offspring. Yes, this was life to him. This was all he needed.

Other thoughts tried to intrude, but he pushed them aside. Finally, at one point, he got up and walked to the wall on which he kept his main calendar. He stared at it. Dr. Samuels had said, “Six months at the outside. Maybe not that long. I’m indescribably sorry, Joe.”

Joseph reached up and ripped the calendar off the wall. He tore it in half and tossed in into the waste basket as he spoke out loud in response to the words of the medical report: “What is time, anyway, Doc? It’s all relative, isn’t it? Why, I’ve given hundreds of characters entire lifetimes in less than six months.”

He walked back to the computer and placed his hands on the keyboard again. “Sorry, Doc,” he said quietly, the merest smile on his lips. “I’ve got too many lives depending on me right here in this keyboard. I just don’t have time to die.”   

 

(Copyright 2013 Sandra Pavloff Conner)

 


ABOUT SNOW

Well, it’s snowing here in Southern Illinois, USA. We got a thorough cover of ice last night, and now the snowflakes are coming down fast and furious — sort of hurling themselves at the ground, almost as if they are trying to beat each other to the goal. I don’t like snow on the roads and walkways, but I enjoy watching it come down — and I enjoy the fresh, pristine look of everything that is covered in brand new snow. I just wish it could land on only specific areas and leave the others untouched. I’ve written a poem or two about my ambivalent feelings, and I felt like writing another one today. So I decided I’d do a post that is a combination of a few snow poems and snow pictures. The poems are mine, but I’m featuring photos from my good friend Terry Valley, who is a professional photographer in Wisconsin. I hope you enjoy them.

SNOWY CINQUAIN

Snowflakes
On a mission,
Hurling steadfastly down.
Racing each other to their goal:
Whiteout.

*******

THIS IS DREAMING WEATHER

This is dreaming weather.
Nothing much to do
Except to watch the blizzard blow
And have a snack or two.

Yes, this is dreaming weather:
A time to contemplate
And set imagination free
To wander and create.

Ah, this is dreaming weather:
While by the storm confined,
Let my heart and soul take wings
And leave this world behind.

*******

SNOWCHILD

When I was a child, I thought as a child,
And snow was a thing so delightful.
From school we were free; we got wet to the knees,
And our mom’s day was thrown all off schedule.

But now that I’m grown, I must do on my own
All the chores Mom and Dad used to dread:
Stock up food by the loads, drive on slippery roads,
Shovel snow, and repair that old sled.

Now I look with dismay at the skies leaden gray
As I trudge to the store for supplies.
De-icer and salt sell out fast with no halt.
I need new boots to tread on the ice.

The wind from the north is bitter and harsh,
But my temperature, still it is rising;
I am in a foul mood, for I see nothing good
That can come from a snowstorm arriving.

But then the flakes start, and I feel in my heart –
Watching white, fluffy, wonderful, wild
Filling all of my world with such beauty unfurled –
That in truth I am still just a child!

*******


TRENT’S WEEKLY SMILE — 1/22/22

I actually had two reasons to smile this week. The first reason is that I got to visit with my great-niece to help celebrate her birthday. We couldn’t work things out on the actual day, but she and her two brothers are always very philosophical about those things. Her parents are both very busy people as well, and often the birthday celebrations have to be adjusted a day or two one way or the other.

I don’t have children of my own, but I have three great-nephews, ranging in age from 11-13, and one great-niece, who just turned 11. I love all of them dearly — and equally. They are all extremely intelligent and pro-active in their involvement with the world and other people, and I have some of the most interesting conversations with them. And I love buying gifts for all of them. But any of you ladies out there who have had the pleasure of having a daughter or niece will understand when I say that there is just something really special about buying pretty things for a girl. I guess maybe it’s partly that I get to live vicariously through her delight in the things she receives.

She is very style conscious and absolutely loves dressing up. One of her special delights is in using pretty hair ornaments of all kinds. So I bought her a dress and a special selection of fancy barrettes — all different colors. I also threw in a huge chocolate covered marshmallow heart. She was delighted, and we had a good time together. She immediately went to work changing her hairstyle so that she could start using the barrettes right then.

My second smile came just yesterday. I run a small business from my home, but no matter how small a business is, we still have to have a tax number, keep track of sales, pay sales tax, and send in yearly reports. I absolutely detest — let me say that again — DETEST — doing any kind of accounting work or filling out and turning in government forms. I always put it off until the very last minute, and then I have myself so stressed by all of it that I make it three times as hard as it really is. But, yesterday, I got all my accounting figured out and came out with the right numbers in all the right places. I breathed a huge sigh of relief, and I’ll be smiling about that for a long time — probably until next January — when I will stop smiling and start fretting over having to do it all again for 2023.


To participate in the Weekly Smile, just hop over to Trent’s Blog and learn how to join in the fun.


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.

 


THE SAME GOD TODAY

Photo courtesy of Julian Hacker @ pixabay

I was thinking today about the prophet Ezekiel and his experience in the valley of dry bones, when the Lord told him He would give those bones new life. So I thought I’d share a poem the Lord inspired on the subject. The Scripture reference is Ezekiel, chapter 37.

THE SAME GOD TODAY

Bones in the valley,
Worthless and dry,
Bleached by the sun and
The wind blowing by.

God to the prophet
Did speak and did ask,
“Can these bones still live?
Is it too big a task?”

“Lord,” said the prophet,
“Only You know.”
“I’ll show you, Ezekiel;
My Spirit will blow.

“And cause them to live
And give flesh and skin;
They’ll rise like an army,
Give Me glory again.”

When our problems seem hopeless,
Too dead to restore,
We can look to Ezekiel
And his word from the Lord.

For the God who breathed life
Into bones dry and dead
Is the same God for us
If we’ll trust what He’s said.



Looking for a good book? – Try ‘A Redbird Christmas’

It’s a little place — a mostly happy place — called Lost River, Alabama. I’d move there if I could. I can’t because, unfortunately, it isn’t real — except in the pages of a delightful novel titled A REDBIRD CHRISTMAS, by Fannie Flagg. Now, in general, I don’t care much for Alabama. And, in general, I’m not a fan of Fannie Flagg’s novels. However, Ms. Flagg did write one novel that is totally entertaining and gratifying to read. In fact I read it about once a year. And that novel is  A REDBIRD CHRISTMAS.

Let me deal first with the story’s one failing — if it can be called that. The first chapter introduces the main character, Oswald Campbell, as he is being given a very negative prognosis about his health. Now, unfortunately, coming so early in the book, that situation could be enough to turn many readers away. But if you’re looking for a story that is uplifting, encouraging, and life-affirming, please take my word for it that you need to push right on through that first chapter to find out what Oswald does in response to that prognosis and how he finds an altogether different future.

The rest of the story is set in the peaceful, friendly, (let me say it again) ‘life-affirming’ community settled on the banks of a clear, quiet river known as Lost River, Alabama. Even the mail is delivered by river in this little community. Everyone living there knows everyone else — and cares about everyone else. The weather is not too cold or too hot. The flowers, birds, and other natural wildlife are pleasant company. And the whole attitude and atmosphere is one of optimism.

Now, if you’ve read this far in the review, you may be thinking that the story will be too “Pollyanna-ish” for you. But, again, I’ll ask you to take my word for it that the positivity found in this story is really quite natural and down-to-earth. It’s just that the focus here is on looking for and trying to bring about the best in the midst of all circumstances — both good and bad. It makes a terrific change from all the criticizing, back-biting, hate-dispensing, and fear-mongering that we have been subjected to for the past two years in most of the media and a good deal of our day-to-day interactions.

And don’t think you need to wait until next Christmas to read this book. It isn’t a “Christmas” novel in the usual sense of that term. It does include some Christmas celebrations, but the story is about people who value life and love and sharing and caring. It’s a book for any season of the year.

How much do I like this book? Well, it sits right at the top of my list of favorite books. And I’ve already told you that I generally read it every year. I can’t move to Lost River, Alabama to live, but I can visit annually and enjoy the vacation from stress and life overload that most of us deal with on a regular basis. So if you’re like me, and you like reading about kind people, second chances, and happy endings, you must read A REDBIRD CHRISTMAS.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Look for more book reviews over the next few months. Most of my followers know me as an author, but I’m also an avid reader, and this year, I’d like to help promote some of the books and authors that have given me so much personal reading pleasure. So adding a few book reviews is part of my plan for this site during 2022.