‘EVERYTHING’S JAKE’ — read it free

I promised another free novel in serial form this month. So here it is. EVERYTHING’S JAKE  is a light inspirational romance, but it’s a whole lot more than a love story. It’s about finding out who you really are and learning to like that person – and discovering that liking who you are opens the door for the best relationships with other people. It’s about family – and friends who are just like family. It’s about letting God’s way of loving take control of your heart.

I think some readers might enjoy this short novel as they get ready for the Christmas holidays. The story is easy reading, the kind of thing you need when you’re mind is full of lots of other stuff and stretched a little too far in too many directions. I’ll try to give you just one chapter a day so you don’t get carried away and forget to decorate the house or buy the gifts you want to give.

Hope you enjoy it. Be sure and let me know.

EVERYTHING’S JAKE

© 2013 Sandra Pavloff Conner

CHAPTER ONE

Mariah Jacoby paced the tiny office, taking the confined distance from wall to wall in four agitated strides as she waited for her boss to join her. She was fairly certain what the outcome of this meeting would be. She’d be looking for another job. She shook her head now in frustration. If only she could convince her boss that she could probably sell more from this boutique in the long run if she were honest with her customers!

Well, that wasn’t going to happen. Convincing Patricia there was something to be gained by telling a woman she looked fat in one of her dresses was about as likely as going over Niagara Falls in a barrel without getting hurt — seriously hurt! Hadn’t somebody tried that once? She thought she’d remembered reading something about it, but — right now her mind was too muddled with the mess she’d made of her third job in two years. Of course, it’s not like this latest one was something in her field. With a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s in journalism, selling in a boutique was a little wide of the mark on both counts.

But her one year working at the Excel Learning Center had been enough to convince her that teaching school was definitely not her forte. Her second job, the one with The Beacon, had been more in her line, but evidently news reporting was not what she really felt called to do either. Well, Mariah did feel a genuine interest in writing for a newspaper. It was actually her editor who had felt that she wasn’t right for the part. “You’ve got to quit editorializing, Mariah!” he’d said, through his gritted teeth. How many times had he said that? She couldn’t be sure, but it seemed to average about once a week, until finally, he had given her the bad news: She’d have to go. And he’d warned her one last time that if she thought she’d ever really want to get serious about a career in journalism, she’d better start working harder on her ability to remain objective when she covered the news.

She sighed now and finally dropped into one of the two chairs that sat in front of the desk, just settling into the seat when her boss opened the door and came in with a purposeful stride. Patricia wasn’t a time-waster; that was for sure. She marched around her desk and leaned over it toward Mariah. “I guess you know what this means?” Mariah opened her mouth to protest — or defend herself — or something — but nothing came out. She dipped her head and then nodded.

“I know,” she said on a resigned sigh. “I really do try to do what you want though, Patricia.”

Her boss shook her head as she sat down behind the desk. “Not hard enough, Mariah. I’ve told you repeatedly that we do not tell any of our customers that they don’t look terrific in whatever they choose.”

Mariah’s head came up, and she looked directly at her boss. “But that’s lying! I can’t believe that’s the best way to do business!”

“The point is that this is my business, Mariah. And the only one who needs to be satisfied with the way we do business here is me. Besides, I don’t really consider it lying. When our customers have chosen something that they like on themselves, it makes them feel good about themselves, and that does make them look good. Happy people always look better than those who are unhappy. And more importantly, happy customers keep coming back!”

“But Mrs. Jamison wasn’t unhappy when I told her that I thought she’d look better in something else.”

“No? Well, just what would you call that frown on her face, that furrowed brow, and her flustered attitude?”

“She was just trying to think about what I’d said while I was showing her the other possibilities.”

“All possibilities that she did not like herself! That’s just my point. She’s been a customer here for five years, and she had already disqualified the style of dress you kept trying to push off on her!” She leaned back with a sigh. “I’m sorry, Mariah, but I did warn you that you may not be cut out for this kind of work. I know you’ve tried, but you’re not going to be able to treat my customers differently. This is the fourth time I’ve had to deal with the situation and try to soothe the people you’ve upset. I’ll give you the rest of this week doing jobs that won’t require you to work with customers, and I’ll give you the one week’s severance pay that your contract specifies, but I’ll definitely have to replace you with someone who’s comfortable with my rules here.”

It didn’t take long for the end of the week to arrive, and Mariah found that she wasn’t all that emotional about having to say goodbye to Patricia and the two other women who worked at the boutique. She was very emotional, however, about not having a job. She had managed to save a little money while she’d worked on her masters because she’d decided to attend the university at home and stay at the house with her parents. They had been eager to have her there again, even for that period of time, and they just refused to let her pay for much of anything at all. She’d tried to make up for it by treating them to special dinners out and a weekend away a couple of times, but she had put most of her money from the job on campus into a savings account. Good thing! She’d already gone through half of it, and it looked like the second half would soon be in hot pursuit of the first.

She made her way back to her one-bedroom apartment in a very unfashionable, but comfortable part of town, dropped her purse and jacket on the table just inside the door, kicked off her shoes, and headed for the tiny kitchen to make tea. Her granny had always sworn by tea as the fix-it potion for any problem. Of course, Granny had always held faithful to all the little details that constituted a traditional English tea – the boiled water, the warmed teapot, the unrushed brewing time. Mariah filled the teapot and stuck it in the microwave. What Granny didn’t know wouldn’t cause her any unhappiness.

While she waited for the water to boil, she picked up the mail that lay on her kitchen counter. She hadn’t had time to go through it carefully for the last two days, and now she was surprised to see a card from a friend of hers in another state. Abigail Harland, who had gone through the first four years of college with Mariah, was now a happily married wife and the mother of two rambunctious little boys. She took to that lifestyle like a duck to water, Mariah thought, smiling now as she remembered the last time she’d visited Abby and Seth.

She scanned the lines eagerly, moving over to the microwave as it dinged to let her know the water was ready. A few minutes later, as she sipped the fragrant tea and began to relax, she came to the end of the note, which included another invitation to visit as soon as possible. “Come for a whole weekend if you can,” Abby had written. “Better yet, I wish you’d look for a job here so we could be close like we used to be.”

Mariah laid the note on the counter, deep in thought. Well, why not? Why not at least try? She certainly had nothing holding her here. Of course she was only an hour from her parents living here, but Abby’s home wasn’t more than three hours from them. She shrugged her shoulders. She was going to have to start somewhere, and she might as well try to find something close to her best friends. She’d made a couple of local friends since moving here to work, and of course, she was comfortable with most all of the people she’d met at church. But there wasn’t anyone she felt she could bare her soul to the way she could Abby and Seth. Maybe this was a good time to move on.

She got up and added more tea to her cup, then moved into the living room and snuggled into the corner of the sofa. She had an uneasy feeling in the pit of her stomach — almost a fear. Only she refused to let herself be afraid. It was just that — well — she had never figured herself for a failure. She had always done well in school. And she’d taken a variety of electives just to expand her mind and her horizons. Hadn’t she even taken those two auto-shop courses?

She grinned now as she remembered how surprised a couple of the guys in the class had been when they’d discovered how much she already knew. That was thanks to her big brother Mitch, of course. From the time she’d been a preteen, she had helped him work on his cars. And he’d had several over the years that he virtually rebuilt. Of course, it was just a hobby with him. He’d opted for a career in marketing, but he’d really had a gift for working on cars! And he’d told her she was a natural too, but of course, no other girls she knew were interested in becoming auto mechanics, so she dismissed that idea as less than good if she were going to have to compete with them for the guys out there that were worth having.

She snorted now as she thought about the fact that even though she was never in overalls or smudged with grease and oil these days, the guys weren’t exactly beating a path to her door. She thought about what she had to offer a man. Well — there was her open, friendly nature — her quick mind — her Christian lifestyle. She sighed. Those things didn’t sound like attention grabbers to her.

She took mental stock of her physical assets: She had a clear complexion. Her hair was a rich brown, and the pixie cut she currently wore framed her face perfectly and drew attention to her eyes. And they were probably her most positive feature, weren’t they? She had always considered them plain old brown until one of the men she’d dated in college had told her they were the warm color of a glass of sherry. Her relationship with that man had taken a definite upswing from that moment, although they’d never gotten serious, and he’d graduated the following year. Still, he remained one of her favorite dating memories just because he’d given her a whole new confidence about her looks.

She sat her empty cup on the table beside the sofa and stretched out, thinking. What kind of job should she look for? She laughed lightly. She’d lain on the sofa in her home as a child and daydreamed just this way, asking herself, what she wanted to be when she grew up? But this wasn’t like those times. This was no daydream; this was reality. She was grown-up. She was twenty-five, and it was time she made a career for herself.

The following Friday evening, she arrived at Seth and Abby’s door with a large suitcase, having told them of her plans to look for a job close to them. They had insisted she stay with them while she searched, but she had been adamant about not staying more than a week. If she hadn’t found something by then, she would either move into a motel or start looking in a different town.

But by the end of the week, she was no closer to having employment. She had checked with the area schools about possible openings for the next school year, which was fast approaching. She knew she wasn’t licensed to teach in the state, but she also knew there were ways to deal with that as long as she was working toward meeting the requirements within a certain time period. But there wasn’t anything in her field.

Then she’d checked with a couple local newspapers, but still nothing permanent. They had told her they’d consider some free-lance articles from her if she wanted to turn something in, and she had, in fact written one article and had it published. But she knew that she had managed that feat mainly because it was the kind of thing she didn’t have to be objective about.

After that, she’d checked with a couple department stores, but their waiting lists were long, and besides, she could tell by the manner of the women who’d talked to her that she would be right back in the same boat as she had been in with Patricia. So she’d signed up with an employment agency, and had even gone to one interview that they’d set up, but to no avail. They’d been pleased with her credentials, but they were equally pleased with those of some of the other applicants, and two of those people had lived in the town all their lives. The company just considered them a better risk, all other things considered.

On the Friday evening a week after she’d arrived, Abby tried to convince her that she should stay at least another week. “You know we love having you here, Ry,” she said. “And you’ve been so much help with the boys. They really love you.”

Seth had reached over and patted Mariah’s hand. “We both want you to stay, Ry. Give it at least one more week.” He glanced over at his wife, a light in his eyes that made no secret of the fact that he was in love with her. “Besides,” he said, a teasing note in his voice, “my sweety would never forgive me if I didn’t do everything in my power to make sure you move here permanently.”

Mariah had laughed with them, but she felt sad too. Something was wrong with her. Why couldn’t she find a job? And a job that she liked? What did she really enjoy doing, anyway? She thought long and hard on that subject after she retired for the night. Lying there in bed, she tried to remember every time she’d ever felt happy at work, and she realized with a good deal of surprise that she had actually felt pretty good about all of her jobs. The problem was that her happiness had really been coming from her interaction with people, which she always enjoyed, and not from the work itself. In fact, the last time she remembered feeling really happy about the work she was doing was when she had been in the auto mechanics class, helping her project partner put an engine back together.

The following morning at breakfast, Abby’s four-year old climbed up on Mariah’s lap and put his arms around her neck. “You stay wif us,” he said. Then he reached up to pat her cheek. “Me don’t want you to weave. You stay wif us, Ry.” She squeezed him tightly and kissed his cheek.

Abby sat down at the table with a cup of coffee. “See,” she said, grinning. “You can’t break his little heart by leaving yet.”

“Oh, all right. You’re all ganging up on me. I’ll take one more week, but … Abby … you know if I don’t find something by then, I need to try to get something in a larger city. There’s bound to be some kind of newspaper and teaching jobs both in a large enough city.”

“Well, just try one more week here then. I can’t bear to think you’ve come so close to living in the same town as us again and then not have it work out.”

Mariah chuckled and reached over and gripped her friends hand briefly. “Me too, Ab. I’ll really try this week, and I’ll spend more time praying about it too. Maybe I’ve been trying too hard on my own and not looking to the Lord for guidance as I should have been.”

So after breakfast was cleaned up, Mariah went out to the back yard to sit on the patio in the shade and read her Bible and pray. She’d been a Christian most of her adult life, and she thought she had lived according to God’s will, but sometimes she had to admit that she didn’t spend nearly as much time listening to what the Lord might have to say to her as she did talking to Him. So for the next week, that listening was her primary goal, and she hoped it would lead to the perfect job.


Find Chapter Two here tomorrow.


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
 

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.


faith confessions flip books

I have several Christian friends who like to confess God’s Word over themselves and their families every day, so I made them flipbooks that have some of their favorite scriptures (in a personalized version) on the pages of the book and some more on decorated cards slipped into the pockets. Each book has a different decorative theme, depending on the individual person — or my available materials.  This is one that I made this week with an autumn theme. (I also include a specialty tea bag in each pocket as an extra treat. 🙂 ).
Sorry my photos are not super clear.


Just a Reminder

Just a reminder that I will be continuing to devote an hour a day Monday through Friday each week — for a season — to pray specifically for any and all requests that come in through my websites or Facebook page. If you need prayer for any needs, I will gladly take them to the Lord in the name of Jesus Christ. His finished work and His blood have bought freedom for us from the evil that comes against us in this world, but we must lay hold of that deliverance and freedom by faith in His Word.

I’ve received requests to pray for individuals, families, and churches. The list is growing rapidly, but it’s never too long or too hard for God. He loves to answer prayer.

Do not ask me to pray for so-called “unspoken requests.” My faith comes from the promises of God’s Word, and unless I know what I’m praying for, I can’t know there’s a promise for it. So you’ll need to be specific concerning what you need from the Lord.

Please DO NOT post your requests in the comment section below. I will delete prayer requests from there. Send your requests by e-mail to my ministry e-mail address:

radicalaboutjesus@gmail.com.

You may feel free to comment on this post in a normal manner. Just don’t specify your private requests on this site, where thousands of people have access to them. Everything you send to the ministry e-mail will remain confidential. Only God and I — and occasionally another member of my ministry team — will know about them.


Do You Need Prayer This Week?

I believe the Lord has called me to a special hour of prayer for the needs of others tomorrow — Wednesday, July 21 — from 1:00-2:00 p.m. I’m inviting anyone out there with prayer needs to let me know if you’d like for me to pray for you specifically.  Please do not ask for prayer for so-called “unspoken requests.” The only way I can pray in faith about anything is if I know for sure what I’m praying for and can find the promises in the Word of God that cover those needs. That’s impossible to do with a request that is totally unidentified. But if you have any specific requests, feel free to let me know sometime between now and noon tomorrow.

Please DO NOT leave your request on this page. You can e-mail your requests to me at my ministry e-mail at the address below. You will need to have your request turned in by noon tomorrow, U.S. CDT.  I would love to pray for you and see the Lord move supernaturally to meet your needs in the name of Jesus Christ.

radicalaboutjesus@gmail.com


Most Important Verse in our National Anthem

“So thus be it ever, when free men shall stand
Between their loved homes and the war’s desolation.
Blessed with victory and peace, may this Heaven-rescued land
Praise the God that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just
And this be our motto: ‘In God is our trust!’
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.”


(Francis Scott Key)

 


Make Today Your Day

 

Today two nephews and I buried my sister. She is my only sibling and the last of my close family that I had on this earth. The loss and the sadness are indeed great, but they are countered by our sure knowledge that she had received Jesus Christ as her Lord and is now rejoicing in His presence. She has entered into the next level of life that He bought and paid for by taking all of our sinfulness upon Himself and suffering through horrible torture and death to pay for it. 

He did not remain dead. He rose from the grave with new life — life that He had earned the right to share with anyone and everyone who would accept His sacrifice and welcome Him into their hearts to reign over their lives. So my sister has just begun to experience the joys that surpass all of our knowledge here on earth, and she will be experiencing those joys and pleasures in an endless relationship with our loving Creator and Father.

Today’s experience has prompted me to speak out once again — to pose the question for anyone out there who has never answered it completely:  Have you recognized Jesus Christ as the one who came from God to take your sin and set you free from the eternal punishment that it deserves?  Have you accepted His sacrifice and His eternal life of joy in the presence of our Creator?

We usually shy away from contemplating the fact that we are going to die. But the simple truth is, dear reader, that you — and I — and every other human being on this planet — are going to die. The God who offers us an eternity of joy, victory, endless creativity, and love has told us clearly how to gain that kind of eternity. He has made it simple: Accept Jesus Christ and His sacrifice. 

You may ask, “Will believing and following anyone else work just as well?”  In answer to that question, let me ask you a couple: Has anyone else willingly taken on your sin and suffered torture and death to pay for it?  No?  Has anyone else risen from the dead with victory over sin and death and with eternal life to share with everyone who wants it?  No?  Then you have your answer: No. There is no one else — no one else — who paid the price for you and your sin. There’s only one way to the eternity you want. 

Today is the day to make the decision. Do you want to come to the hour when your body is laid in the ground only to discover that your soul and your spirit have passed into an eternal realm without God, without joy, without hope, without a chance of anything except torment — all because you refused the free gift of eternal life offered to you by Jesus Christ? I don’t believe that anyone truly wants to make that choice. I think, most of the time, people just don’t want to get serious enough to give the question its due consideration.

So I’m posting this encouragement today. Make today the day when you give the subject its due consideration. Make today the day when you accept Jesus Christ and His open invitation to step right into His loving, victorious presence when the hour comes that you take your last breath here.

 


Abundance of Mercy

 

“But as for me, I will come into Thy house in the multitude of Thy mercies.” (KJV).

Another translation of this verse says, “I, through the abundance of Your steadfast love, will enter Your house.” (NRV).

I was just reading along in Psalms this morning, and when I came to this verse, I was struck by the power of it. I felt the impact of how great the mercy of God is for each of us — and how we don’t need to be afraid or even hesitant to enter into His presence freely.

That truth is the result of Jesus, and His sacrifice on our behalf, of course. Because He took all of our sin and uncleanness, and washed it all away with His blood, the Father God looks at us through Jesus  and welcomes us gladly. All we need to plead is Jesus’ blood, and abundant mercy engulfs us.

What a relief. And what a joy to know that when we are in need or in trouble of any kind, we have a standing invitation to run to our God, and we can know that when we get to the door that leads into His presence, an abundance of mercy will be filling that doorway and lighting our path to God, ushering us into His waiting arms.

Of course, hopefully, we won’t wait until we’re in trouble to seek His presence. It thrills His heart for us to go to Him just for the sake of being with Him and enjoying His company. But when we are in need, we don’t have to be hesitant about going to Him. It doesn’t matter how much we’ve messed things up, or how deeply we’ve embedded ourselves in the muck and mire of our own sin and foolishness. There is ABUNDANT mercy and ABOUNDING love waiting to carry us to our Father, who waits expectantly to welcome us and give Himself to working out our problems and making us whole again.


Encouraging Bruised Reeds & Smoking Flax

(I originally wrote this article over a year ago, but at a time in our society when there is so much that divides us, incenses us, and hurts us, I felt an urging by the Holy Spirit to share it again now.)

 

“A bruised reed shall He not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench.”  (Matthew 12:20, KJV).

These words, inspired by the Holy Spirit, described Jesus Christ, both in the Old Testament prophecy forecasting His coming, and in the New Testament as He carried out His earthly ministry. The words referred to the fact that Jesus was careful not to put down or belittle people who came to Him, even when they were weak in faith, or because they were lacking in some area of consecration or obedience.

Now, to be sure, He did on occasion ask His own disciples, “Why are you fearful, or why did you doubt?” But those words were not intended as reprimands, but as questions to cause them to think and learn. They were in training, after all, and were supposed to be learning from Him and growing in faith and the demonstration of it. They were in a different position from the average person who came to Jesus for ministry.

Throughout His earthly walk, Jesus was kind and compassionate to everyone who had need of Him. If the people He dealt with had even a smoldering bit of faith, or just a heart-felt desire to connect with Him, He welcomed them and spoke and acted in such a way as to encourage them. To the sick man at the Pool of Bethesda, who evidently had some lack of initiative if he’d been supposedly “trying to get to the pool” for 38 years,  Jesus simply asked, “Do you want to be made well?”  And then, even though the man’s only response was to complain about not having any other people to help him, Jesus proceeded to heal him completely. (John 5:1-15).

And look at His treatment of Zacchaeus, who was a first-rank sinner (self-confessed) and who had no obvious faith or obedience going for him. Just the fact that Zacchaeus wanted to know more about Jesus — enough to climb into a tree so that he could see Jesus better as He went through town — was enough for Jesus to call him over and invite Himself to Zacchaeus’ house — showing him both honor and compassion at the same time. (Luke 19:1-10).

Even when Jesus knew He had to deliver a strong word to a person who sought something from Him, His focus was on loving that person and responding in the most compassionate way possible. In Mark’s gospel (chapter 10) Jesus is approached by a rich young ruler who asks for instructions for inheriting eternal life. This young man had sought to follow the rules of the law in conduct, but he obviously had a heart problem that would keep him from being in unity with God.

Jesus knew the man would need to let go of the pride he had in following the rules and experience a heart change that would cause him to truly give of himself to help others. Jesus knew HIs instructions would come as a blow to this young man, and the first thing we learn about Jesus in this situation is that He “loved” the young man. He spoke to him words that were necessary, but they were not spoken in rebuke, but in love and compassion.

Another time, when Jesus’ disciples told Him of other ministers who were delivering people in Jesus’ name but were not following Him, Jesus said to leave them alone because if they were not “against” Him, then they were “for” Him. He didn’t rebuke those other ministers or even correct them. (Luke 9:49-50)

Wherever He went, Jesus was looking for ways to lift people up, encourage them, and help them grow in their relationship with their Creator.

Several years ago I read words by another minister that said, in effect, that we should be careful not to destroy someone’s imperfect faith because, at the time we’re interacting with that individual, it’s the only faith that person has. But it’s likely that, given time and encouragement, that imperfect faith will grow into something stronger and purer.

I’ve learned over the years that there’s a good deal of wisdom in those words, and I’ve seen people’s faith grow exceedingly. In fact, my own faith has grown, changed, grown some more, and changed some more over some sixty years of life as a Christian. So I know the potential is there.

I’ve been thinking a great deal about this particular subject matter lately, and I believe the reason is that the Lord is showing me it’s really important to encourage people in these areas. I think I’ve always been an encourager in general, but I know, at times, I also tend to hold back when I see that a person has areas of his life or faith that are most definitely unscriptural. I sometimes tend to concentrate more on trying to “help” them get “fixed” in those areas rather than encouraging the little bit of positive in them — that smoking flax of faith or that character trait that is slightly bruised.

But I believe the Lord is saying that I need to refocus and concentrate on encouraging for a while rather than fixing. It may be that enough encouragement of the positive — even if it’s just smoldering or somewhat bruised or damaged — will strengthen those people enough to help them go on and eventually get the other stuff fixed.

And, after all, God is the real “fixer” — not me. And I’m also aware that there are a number of areas in my own life that need “fixing” as well. Certainly, I need to pray for the people in my life where the negative areas are concerned, so that the Lord has an open channel to work in their lives. But I need to let Him take care of the fixing and use my energy and influence to encourage those individuals. Encouragement in the right places can sometimes put us in a stronger position so that we can better receive the help God has for us.

So, as I move forward in my life, one of my primary spiritual goals is going to be to encourage every positive thing I see in every person I’m with, and to do so in the name of Jesus Christ — who never broke a bruised reed (damaged person) or quenched any smoking flax (smoldering faith.)  I believe if I’ll be faithful to do my part, He will be able to do all the rest of the work necessary to bring them to wholeness and overcoming faith.



photo courtesy of Ria Algra @ pixabay.com

The Christian Focus

 

Every single thing on this earth is going to pass away into nothingness at some point — everything, that is, except the people living on this planet. Every one of those people will live forever — for all eternity — either in the joyous presence of the Lord Himself, or in a place of sorrow and torment because they refused to choose the one way that leads to life with God.

Since everything else that we acquire, build, play with, and regard as valuable is heading for dissolution, shouldn’t we be focused intently on the people who pass through our lives? They all have one chance — one lifetime — to accept God’s offer of eternity with Him. That offer requires accepting Jesus Christ His Son as their Lord. He’s the only one who paid the price for their sin and who offers them His own righteousness to make them worthy to live with the Creator forever. But most of them don’t recognize Him at all.

As believers in Jesus Christ, then, our highest calling and our greatest undertaking is to be Jesus to every person we connect with — whether in the marketplace, the street, the factory, the business office, or the halls of government. Wherever and whenever we have the opportunity, let us be diligent to place the highest value on people and their need to know and comprehend Jesus the Christ.


(Matthew 24:35, Isaiah 40:8)


Living With Abandon

 

Life is challenging even in the best of times. But sometimes we need to stop everything and take stock of just what we are giving ourselves to as we travel through that life. Many people don’t realize that we all tend to give place to – or even collect – some objects, people, and experiences that do us more harm than good. Periodically, we need to take a good long look at those collections and do some house cleaning.

In fact, we need to throw out some things and walk away from them forever. Abandonment isn’t always a negative term. And if you’ve been feeling a little bound up, a little negative, a little pressed, stressed, and overwhelmed lately, I’d say it’s time to abandon some stuff.

Abandon your fears. Abandon your insecurities. Abandon your doubts. Abandon your past failures. Abandon the negative words others have spoken concerning your abilities or your future. Abandon the so-called ‘friends’ who do not draw from you your best and highest.

Life is too short to live it in fear, doubt, and the faulty judgments of other people. If you’re going to get anything out of this life, you’re going to have to put a lot into it. And you can’t do that if you’re constantly afraid or second-guessing because of past failures or someone else’s opinions.

Stand up and lay hold of this day in faith. God made you, so He loves you. And because He made you, He obviously has a plan for your whole life. Maybe you’ve never spent enough time with Him to find out about the plan. Or perhaps you’ve started living for Him, but you’ve gotten side-tracked or knocked down, and you’ve shifted your focus to the negatives in your life.

Well, today is the best time to turn your focus back to Him. Take His hand and let Him lead you where He wants to take you. Let Him show you His delightful plan for your life. Then get started – or re-started – carrying it out.

Abandon what is negative, dark, and destructive. Seize what is positive, light, and life-giving. Then go out there and LIVE!



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