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.


Worry — cinquain

 

Worry
Is such a drag.
It’s weight upon my soul
Drags down my body and my mind;
Wastes time.

Jesus
Had much to say
‘Bout giving it no place:
“Do not let your heart be troubled;
Trust Me.”

His words
Are quite profound.
They mean I have a choice.
So I’m replacing worry with
His love.

 


In The Mood For an Inspirational Love Story?

Are you lookin’ for a love story that will stick with you long after the words ‘The End’???

Well, here it is:

 

(Click on the link below the trailer.)

Get Your Copy Here: Paperback or Digital


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
 

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.

~~~

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


Embattled Faith — Cinquain

 

Drowning:
Engulfed by loss.
Deluged and overwhelmed
In loss so deep I despair of
Rescue.

Crisis:
Where is my faith?
That beacon in the dark
That once did lead me straight to God
Grows faint.

His Word
Still beckons me
To listen and believe.
Oh, that my heart could answer, “Yes!”
Once more.

~~~~~~~~~

For Your Information …

Whenever I’m holding healing schools, I generally put my healing book on a special sale so that any students who would like to have a copy can get it at a reduced price. I hand out a lot of material that is covered in the book during classes, but many students want a copy of the whole book for their own use after the classes are over.

So I also like to let my website viewers know about the sale period in case they’d like to take advantage of the special prices as well.

The paperback is on sale for $6.99.

The E-book is on sale for $1.99

These prices will be good through March, 2021.

You can find the book here.


 

Healing School Classes Online



GREAT NEWS: The Healing Classes that I teach at a local college are going online this term:

Many of you know that as part of my Christian ministry I hold Healing Schools several times a year — in various venues: civic centers, churches, community buildings, private homes, etc. The Lord has used me in this particular form of ministry for over 20 years. Of course, I’ve been in active Christian ministry for over 50 years, with a strong focus on healing most of that time. A couple years ago the college where I teach creative writing classes decided to offer my healing classes as part of the college curriculum in their community education department. It’s been a great experience.

However, with the covid lockdowns, no classes met last year except what could be offered online. And unfortunately, many of the classes are going to have to revert to online only this spring term as well. So the administration and I decided we’d make the effort to set up the healing classes in a video format and offer them through YouTube.

Unfortunately, my video equipment has sound problems currently, so I’m not able to tape the lessons live.  However I’m able to record the lessons using other equipment and put them into a video format. The audio lesson will be accompanied by something pleasant to look at on the screen.  I’ve offered video lessons on other subjects in that format for years on my ministry YouTube channel, and they seem to be pretty popular. So I think this series of lessons will work out as well.

The course title is BIBLICAL PATHWAYS TO HEALTH & WHOLENESS. I’m posting the official course description here:

This course presents a detailed explanation of nine separate pathways discussed in the Bible by which individuals can acquire healing and maintain health. It also covers the foundational principles required to get into a position to make use of these pathways. The course explains that there are three major avenues of healing accepted among most societies today: healing through physical medications and treatments, healing through mental and psychological treatments, and healing through application of spiritual means made available through Jesus Christ. This course deals with the spiritual pathways and explains how application of these spiritual methods of receiving health is actually logical and scientific. It also explains how individuals can take advantage of those means and pathways. The course also describes and explains eight common roadblocks to healing and how to overcome them.

If there’s a chance you might be interested in taking this course, read on for more details:

The course will run 6 weeks, and will be conducted via YouTube and e-mail. I will e-mail each student links to the video lessons, along with study sheets and other printed curriculum that they can print out and keep. Every student will have access to a personal e-mail where they can ask me any questions or discuss any part of the material during those 6 weeks. The cost is minimal: $25.00.

When I do the healing schools as part of my ministry in other venues, I never charge for the classes. However, the college is required by the state to charge because they are required to pay a certain specified fee to the teachers, and they must cover the various expenses involved in carrying out an educational institution. 

I’d like to invite all my followers who are interested in learning more about receiving healing from the Lord to register for the class. I generally have two kinds of students in the healing schools: people who are in need of healing personally and want to know more about what God says about His will to heal and His methods of healing — and people who don’t need healing personally but who want to share the information with others and help them receive healing.

We’ve had students in the past who found that after sitting in the class and absorbing God’s healing Word during the lessons, their bodies were well. The Word of God can do that when we give ourselves to it completely. Others have found that they left the classes with a much better understanding of how to use God’s Word as medicine for their own bodies and a renewed faith in God’s will to have them well and whole.

Anyone interested in taking the class is welcome to register. You don’t have to live in my state of Illinois. Students from all over the country and from other nations as well take classes from John A. Logan College. If you’re interested in taking the course online, you can register by either method listed below:

Online:  https://www.jalc.edu/community-education/

By Phone:  (618) 985-2828, Ext. 5.

Your identification information and a credit card are all that’s required.

You need to register by January 21.

I hope some of you decide to participate in the classes. I’d love to be able to interact with you on a more personal basis and about a subject that is very dear to my heart.


‘Light On My Path’ — my new devotional book


My newest devotional book is out and ready to order —  as a boost to your own personal meditation time, or as a gift to encourage someone you love.

Over 100 pages of encouraging, comforting, challenging devotional studies from God’s Word. A straight-forward and down-to-earth presentation of solid truths from Scripture that can be applied to every situation and every problem we face in our lives. Short and easy to read, each of these devotional studies will help build your faith and lift your heart as they focus you on the Lord and His way of doing things.

Available from Amazon.
E-Book is on a special sale from now through Christmas: $0.99
Paperback is $6.00
Find it HERE.

 


The Christmas Rescue — a short story


(I post this story annually as part of my celebration of the season. I hope it blesses you.)
♥♥♥


The following story is fiction – as are all the characters and the setting. However, the story was inspired directly by the real-life story of one of the most effective and compassionate men in ministry today. Bill Wilson, who is the founder of Metro World Child in New York City, was actually abandoned as a child and left alone on the streets of his home city in Florida. He was eventually rescued and greatly helped by a loving man of God, and that love led Bill Wilson to devote his entire life to rescuing inner-city children and ministering to their most vital needs – as well as those of their families.

The results of his work, both in the U. S. and internationally, would fill volumes. I have listened to him tell his own story more than once. He always concludes that story by sharing why he does what he does. And it is his reason – which constitutes the final statement by the main character in my story as well – that inspired me to sit down and write “The Rescue.”

I trust that the story will touch your heart deeply, and if it does, I encourage you to remember that it was inspired by the real life experiences of a great man of God. Readers can learn more about Bill Wilson’s ministry at the ministry website: metroworldchild.org.  I am not personally affiliated with the ministry at all, nor did the people involved have any influence on my writing this story. However, it is my prayer that this story will encourage readers to pray about supporting Metro World Child with finances and with prayer.

THE CHRISTMAS RESCUE
© Sandra Pavloff Conner

 

The old woman knelt shivering before the tombstone as her husband pulled away a pile of decayed leaves that seemed to cling defiantly to its base in spite of the wind that whipped at them repeatedly. It wasn’t bitterly cold — at least not like it had been many other Decembers in this city. But the wind was always stronger up here at the cemetery, and today, with no sun smiling down its warmth, the chill just seemed to beat its way into their elderly bones. Of course, sorrow had its own chill, and sometimes it was hard to tell if the icy feeling came more from the weather or from the pain within.

The old man finished his work and then joined her, slowing sinking to his own knees and removing his warm felt hat. Tears glistened in his eyes, but he wouldn’t let them fall. He had to be strong for her right now. He glanced sideways at her, seeing the tears flowing freely down her cheeks. She kept pressing her handkerchief to her face, to try to stem the bitter stream, but it did no good.

It had been a year and a half now since they had lost their second son. He had followed his brother into military service and then into war … and, finally, into the grave.

The old man shuddered out a deep sigh. He had brought his new bride to this country just one year before their first son had been born, and it had been a time of promise and happy expectation. The Lord had blessed them with two handsome, healthy sons, and they had been the sweetest blessing life had to give. He sighed now as he thought back over the years of raising two strong-willed, but tender-hearted boys. They had all been so happy … until ….

But he shook off the heaviness of those years of war – and the funerals – and the nights of wishing he could have gone in their stead. He knew his boys weren’t really in these graves here. He knew that for certain. They had believed in Jesus Christ, both of them, from the time they had been tiny little curly-haired youngsters. And they were in Heaven now. He couldn’t grieve for them, but for himself and his beloved wife, he couldn’t not grieve.

He leaned over toward her and put his arm around her shoulders now. “The wreaths look lovely, my dear. You’ve done yourself proud. I think these are the most beautiful you’ve ever made.” And she had made some beautiful flower arrangements, this wife of his. It had been her life’s work and a great joy at one time. Now, it seemed to always remind her of the need for flowers on these graves, and she took no joy in the work of her hands. Still … it kept her from sitting and mourning all the time, so he encouraged her to keep the business going.

And the money helped. There was no doubt about that. His pension and the little bit he made working as the church custodian were just enough to enable them to keep their house, modest as it was, and to cover their basic utilities.

But with both their incomes – and with a little extra help from the Lord from time to time – they lived well enough. And every year at this Christmas season they pulled out their special bank – the little treasure box where they had put aside a very small offering each morning during their prayer time with the Lord. They paid the tithes on their monthly income faithfully, of course, but this little extra offering represented their desire to do more than just what was expected of them. And each Christmas they asked the Lord what He would have them do with the money to help someone not as fortunate as they.

The old man smiled to himself now. Christmas Eve was just three days away. They needed to get to asking the Lord what His plan was for this year. He leaned over and kissed his wife on the cheek. “Come, Mama. We need to get into the warm. The wind is getting bitter.” She allowed him to help her rise from her knees and pull her coat tighter around her neck.

The wool scarf she wore on her head had almost blown off, and he straightened that too and then placed his hands tenderly on either side of her worn face. “Our wonderful boys are warm and safe in Heaven, Mama … looking down on these wreathes you have made for them and feeling proud. Now … we will go home and fix some hot cocoa and take out our silver bank and have our talk with the Lord about His plans for the money, hmm?”

She nodded her head in agreement, and they turned together to plod arm-in-arm out of the cemetery and down the lane to their car.

As they entered their back door, he stopped a moment and breathed deeply. “Ahhh . . . your kitchen still smells like molasses cookies and shortbread, Mama,” he said, pinching her cheek tenderly and grinning at her. “What do you say we have some with our cocoa?”

His wife was taking off her scarf and coat and hanging them on the pegs beside the door. “You’ll ruin your supper if you eat all that sugar right now, Papa,” she scolded him. It never occurred to either of them to refrain from calling each other by those names, even though they had no children living now. They had rarely called each other anything else since their two little ones had chosen those names for them. It had thrilled them so to be parents that they took pride in the names and wore them like crowns of honor.

Now he hung his coat and hat beside hers and grabbed her around the waist with both hands and began waltzing her around the kitchen. “Well, I have the solution to that!” he announced boldly. “We’ll just have molasses cookies and Scottish shortbread for our supper!”

“Now listen to you go on. What kind of supper is that?”

“Well … we’ll have a chunk of that delicious cheese you bought yesterday along with it, for protein,” he announced, as if that solved the whole question, whirling her around one last time and depositing her in a chair beside the table. At least she was laughing now, and that gave his heart a little ease. “You make the cocoa, and I’ll go get the treasure box.”

So while the milk warmed on the stove, Mama set the food out on the table. She was pouring out the cocoa when he returned carrying a small silver box that looked a little like a treasure chest. “Here it is, Mama,” he said setting it in the middle of the table and taking a seat beside her. “Now, let us thank the Lord for our food and enjoy it while the cocoa is good and hot, and then … then we shall count the money!”

When they had eaten their fill, and their faces were rosy with the warmth of the kitchen and the good food, they moved their utensils out of the way, and Papa pulled the box to him, unlocking it with the key that he always kept tucked away in his top dresser drawer. He dumped out the contents and began to straighten out the paper and sort the coins. “You count the coins, Mama, while I count the bills,” he said, and so they sat quietly, adding up their respective parts of the treasure.

When he was done, Papa picked up the little pad and pencil that he also kept in the box and wrote down his amount. Then he wrote down the amount Mama had in coins and added them together. He looked up at her beaming. “Mama, God has truly blessed us this year. We have put a total of seven hundred, four dollars, and seventy-two cents in our bank!”

“Oh, that’s more than last year or the year before either one!”

“Yes!” he said, nodding his head eagerly.

“Do you think the Lord has multiplied it for us?”

The old man smiled at her with eyes that were lit up with his faith that the Lord had done just that. “Now we must find out what our Lord wants us to do with it. Shall we pray right here, or go into the living room and kneel on the rug?”

“Let’s go and get down on our knees. We need to do everything we can to make sure we focus on the Lord. We wouldn’t want to make a mistake with so much money.”

So they moved into the living room and knelt down in front of their old but cared-for sofa, and, hand in hand, sought the Lord for His plan for the money they had given to Him during their morning devotions. After they had prayed for some time and were now both quiet and listening with their hearts, Papa whispered to Mama, “Do you hear anything yet, Mama?”

“Not yet, Papa. Perhaps, He will reveal something to us while we sleep tonight. He did that once before, remember?”

“Yes, that’s right. All right. We will expect that He will show us something, either as we sleep, or maybe when we first awake in the morning.” He grinned down at her with the eagerness of a small child. “I can hardly wait to see what He has in mind. I know we have to be patient. He may not show us until Christmas morning, you know. One time that’s what He did. But at least we know that He’s never taken longer than that to tell us what we must do, and that’s only four days away.”

Mama smiled at his excitement and rose from her knees, grateful for this generous-hearted husband that the Lord had given her. If only … if only he could have kept his sons to pour that heart into, she thought, shaking her head gently at the sad thought.

“No, Mama,” he said to her now, reaching out and lifting her chin and looking into her still bright blue eyes. “We will not be sad tonight. God has something happy for us to do, and we will enjoy it!” He leaned down and kissed her on the mouth. Then he raised his eyes heavenward and said, “Thank you, Good Lord, for giving me such a beautiful wife!”

“Oh, Papa . . .” she said, chuckling and shaking her head.

“Now,” he said turning her toward the kitchen, “I will help with the dishes, and then you shall read to me.”

The next morning the couple rose expectantly, eagerly anticipating the Lord’s leading about what to do with their money. But as the day progressed into evening, both had to admit that they just didn’t sense the Lord’s direction yet. So they retired that night with the prayer on their lips that He would show them tomorrow.

Again the following morning, they were a little disappointed, but since it was a day with much to be done, they quickly went about their business. Papa had more than the usual custodial work to do at the huge stone church in the middle of the city, because there were always extra services and celebrations this time of year. And Mama had finished the Christmas flower arrangements that had been ordered by two merchants whose shops were on the same street as the church. They always ordered the flowers for their holiday parties from her.

So after having a cozy breakfast, the couple loaded the flowers into the car and headed into the main part of the city. As they passed the corner one block from the church, they noticed a small boy sitting on a concrete bench on the sidewalk. “Would you look at that little tyke, Papa,” Mama said with a chuckle. “He’s bundled up all the way to his nose.”

“Well it is awfully cold,” Papa answered. “Wonder what he’s doing sitting there all by himself.”

“Oh, his mama probably told him to stay put while she ran into the bank behind the bench there.”

“Mmmm, probably, but … I don’t know … in these times, I don’t think I’d leave my little boy sitting by himself for even that long in a city this big.”

Mama sighed, “I know, Papa. Sometimes it seems to me that parents don’t take the dangers waiting for their little ones seriously enough.”

“Well, here we are,” Papa said in a more cheerful voice as he slowed down to look for a parking place close to the first store. “Are you sure you want to walk back down to the church? I can come and get you, you know.”

“Oh, Papa! Don’t be silly. It’s only two blocks. You just carry in one of the arrangements for me, and as soon as I’m done here, I can manage to carry the last one on to the shop two doors down. I’m sure they’ll both want to talk a few minutes, and then I’ll come down to the church to meet you.”

“Okay,” he answered, sliding into one of the few parking spots left on the street in this part of the city. While Mama carried the arrangement for the proprietor of the first shop, Papa carried in the other piece and set it down where Mama could get to it easily. He went on to the church and began his work, stopping almost an hour later when he realized that Mama had not returned yet. But just as he started down the hallway to the outside door to check on her, she walked in, bringing the biting air from outside with her, but flushed with a smile and twinkling eyes.

“Oh, Papa, they raved about my arrangements! They said they’d never seen anything they liked any better!”

He hugged her. “Well, of course, Mama! What else did you expect with your talent for working with flowers?”

“Thank you, Papa, but I happen to know you’re just a little prejudiced,” she said, pinching his cheek gently. “But come … I’ll help you with your work.”

So they worked side by side, finishing up the day’s list of tasks by noon, and left the church together. As they drove back the way they had come, they noticed that the small boy was still at the same corner, sitting on the bench alone.

“He’s been there all morning, do you think, Papa?” Mama asked, her tone beginning to sound worried. Papa looked at the boy as they passed and noticed that he kept looking in both directions, stretching his neck as if looking for someone or something in particular.

“It is peculiar, Mama,” he answered, but traffic was so heavy right at that time, that he had to give his full attention to working through it and getting into the correct lane to make their way back home. Concern nagged at him as he sat down to his noonday meal, and then troubled him off and on as he sat in his recliner and dozed during the afternoon. When the couple retired for the night, they prayed especially for the little boy they’d seen on the bench and his family.

The next morning Papa helped Mama finish her Christmas baking. She always made cranberry nut bread for four of the people in their church and popcorn balls and fudge for all of the children to take home after the Christmas Eve program. They stopped to have a ham sandwich and a cup of hot cider while the treats cooled enough for packaging. Then they began to wrap the gifts in gay paper and tie them with carefully worked bows, adding a candy cane to the top of each package.

When the last of the gifts was finished and set on the kitchen counter to wait for delivery, Mama made a meatloaf, while Papa scrubbed potatoes and prepared them for baking along with the meat.

“You know I can’t help thinking about that little boy we saw yesterday,” Mama said quietly as she worked. “I wonder who he was waiting for.”

“Probably some of his family who were doing last-minute Christmas shopping.”

“But wouldn’t you think they would have taken him with them?”

Papa looked up from the potato he was working on, thinking for a moment before he spoke. “No … not necessarily. Especially not if they were buying his gift.” He laid down his potato absentmindedly. “Still … you’d think they’d be a little hesitant to leave him there alone for so long.”

“You don’t suppose something happened to them do you, Papa?”

“Well, I wouldn’t know, of course, Mama, but I’m sure at least one or two police officers must have passed by their yesterday, and if something had been wrong, I’m sure the boy would have told them.”

Mama nodded her head and carried her meatloaf to the oven. “Of course. I hadn’t even thought about that.” She turned to look back at him. “Are the potatoes ready?”

“Yes, here they are,” he said carrying four potatoes over to the stove and laying them on the pan she had ready to slip into the oven beside the meatloaf.

After dinner, Papa read the newspaper to Mama, and then they watched a Christmas program on television. As they retired, they prayed once more for the young boy and his family and asked the Lord to show them by tomorrow what His plan was for the money He had helped them save this year.

First thing the next morning Papa drank hot coffee, wolfed down some of Mama’s gingerbread, and hurried off to the church to turn the heat up for the evening program. He also wanted to make sure that all the different props for the Christmas program were in place so that they would be easy to find at the last minute before the service began. But as he neared the block where the church stood, he was horrified to see that the little boy from two days before was still sitting on that same concrete bench. Papa hurriedly found a parking place close to the church and then walked back to the corner and sat down on the end of the bench opposite the young boy.

He could see that the child was very cold, even though he had on a heavy coat and a knit cap pulled down over his ears. He had his hands in his coat pockets, but once when he pulled a hand from his pocket to wipe his runny nose, Papa saw that he also had on gloves. He didn’t want to frighten the boy, but he felt frightened himself at the thought that this child could possibly have been sitting here for more than two days.

Why hadn’t the police done something about it? He thought about that question for a while, but then decided that there was so much crime and so many people with serious problems that possibly the police officers who were responsible for this area of town were unusually busy this time of year, just trying to take care of all of those other situations.

“Hi there, Son,” Papa said, his voice friendly and encouraging.

The big brown eyes just looked at him for a moment, and Papa saw a shiver run through the little body. “Hi,” the boy answered in little more than a whisper.

“I’m Jules Larson,” Papa said, holding out one gloved hand toward the boy. Slowly, the child pulled a hand from his pocket and reached it over to shake the old man’s hand.

“I’m David,” he said.

Papa nodded, letting go of David’s hand and watching him put it immediately back into his pocket. “Haven’t I seen you here on this corner for that last couple of days?”

David nodded, but didn’t speak. Instead, he just looked up and down the street again, much as he had been doing the other times Papa had passed by this corner.

“Well … you haven’t been sitting here all day and night, though, have you?” he asked.

David looked back at Papa and nodded again. Papa felt a cold wave of fear move through him and called out to Jesus under his breath.

“But …” Papa started to speak again, but then he stopped. He needed to figure out exactly what to say. After another minute, he sighed deeply and tried again. “But what about your family, David? Where are your mom and dad?”

David looked once more down the street and then turned his eyes on Papa. “My mom’s comin’ back for me,” he said, his lips trembling. Papa wasn’t sure if they trembled from the cold or because the boy was on the verge of tears.

“Where did your mom have to go?”

David looked up and down the street again, and then turned to look behind him once. He looked back at Papa and shrugged his shoulders. “Don’t know. She just said I should wait right here.”

“Do you live close to here?”

David shook his head. “Not anymore.”

“What do you mean? Did you used to live close?”

This time David nodded. “Unhuh,” he said, pointing back down the street. “Over in that other block. We lived in one of the apartments on the very top of that old brown building.”

“Well, why don’t you live there now?”

David shrugged his shoulders again. “Don’t know. Mom just said we couldn’t live there anymore. She put some of her clothes in a bag and told me to put on my coat, and then we left.”

“But did she put some of your clothes in a bag too?”

David shook his head. “I thought maybe she was goin’ to buy me some new clothes.”

Papa sighed, not liking the thoughts that came crowding into his mind with the boy’s last words. “So she took her clothes with her, but not any of yours?”

David nodded. “And when we got to this corner, she told me to sit down here and wait.”

“Is that all she said?”

David nodded. “Sometimes she goes away for a day or two, but then she comes home again, and we have something to eat. So I know she’ll be comin’ back for me,” he said, lifting his chin as if to ward off any rebuttal of that idea from the old man. But just then his lips quivered again and two tears slipped down his chapped cheeks.

Papa sighed inwardly and prayed silently with all of his heart. What was he to do? He couldn’t leave this little boy out here another night, and it was obvious to him that if his mother hadn’t bothered to pack any of his clothes, she had not intended to keep him with her. Should he go to the police? That’s probably what the police would tell him was the right thing. But, somehow in his heart, he just didn’t think he could bring himself to do that just yet. They would turn him over to the authorities, and he might end up in almost any kind of place while the legal aspects of his case were considered.

Papa shook his head silently. No … he couldn’t just turn him over to the police. What would Mama tell him to do?

He sat up straighter. Of course! That was the answer! Mama would say to bring him home and give him some warm food and a warm bed for tonight at least … and then they would pray for the Lord to show them what to do after that. But first, he’d have to do the necessary work at the church. He looked back at David.

“Well, I’ll tell you what, David. I think maybe your mama might have had to go farther than she planned to try to find another place to live. And I don’t think she’ll be able to come back for you for a while. But my wife and I … we used to have two little boys. They died in the war, and we miss them. We’d like to have you come to our house and eat supper with us and maybe sleep in one of the warm beds that we used for our boys. We could always come back here tomorrow and see if your mama is here waiting for you.” He knew that wasn’t a sensible plan, but he was counting on this boy, who looked no more than nine years old, to be too cold and tired and hungry to figure out how improbable it was. David was looking at him with wide eyes, full of indecision. He looked up and down the street again and than back at Papa.

“I’ll tell you what,” Papa continued. “I was going to go into that little coffee shop over there and get me some soup. How about you come with me, and I’ll get both of us some, and we can talk it over.”

David chewed on his bottom lip, and Papa could see the temptation on his face. What must it feel like to sit on this bench for nearly three whole days and have nothing to eat?

“What do you say?” he urged David again.

Finally, the boy nodded his head, and Papa stood and held out his hand to take David’s. Together they walked to the restaurant across the street, and once seated at the table, Papa ordered two steaming bowls of soup and added a glass of milk for David. He would have liked to have ordered him a big, juicy hamburger too, but knowing he probably hadn’t eaten anything in more than two days, he was afraid too much food at once might make the child sick.

Papa sipped his soup slowly, not really hungry yet himself, but David ate as if he were truly starved. “Did you have anything to eat yesterday?” Papa asked the boy.

David only shook his head and kept eating.

“Well, how about the day before?”

David shook his head again and picked up his bowl to drink the rest of the liquid from the soup.

“Well, I’ll tell you what, David. I could sure use some help to do my work at the church down the street. I wonder if you’d help me there for a little while, and then we’ll come back to the corner and sit a minute, just to see if your mama’s coming. Then, if we don’t see her, you come home with me, and we’ll have some more good food to eat. Would you like to do that?”

David thought, his brown eyes dark with the intensity of his concentration as he tried to decide what to do. Finally he nodded. “Okay,” he said, “but just for a little while, and then I gotta go back to the corner.”

“Good enough,” Papa said and rose from the table. They donned their coats and caps once more and made their way back out into the cold and down to the church. A couple of hours work put everything into good shape for the evening festivities. Papa had planned on him and Mama coming to the Christmas program, but he wasn’t sure now just what they would do.

He took David back to the corner, and they sat together for another thirty minutes, while Papa tried to listen to the Lord for instructions. Finally, he looked at David. “Well, now, let’s go home and have supper with Mama,” he said and then chuckled. “That’s what I call my wife, you see. Ever since we had our little boys, I’ve called her Mama, and she’s called me Papa.” For the first time David smiled just slightly, and Papa’s heart was lighter instantly.

“Well, as I was saying, let’s go home and eat some supper with Mama and then we can come to the Christmas program at the church and stop on this corner afterwards, just in case your mama comes along then.”

This time David decided more quickly and got up, reaching out to take Papa’s hand as he did so.

When they arrived home and entered the kitchen, Papa called out. “Mama, I’ve brought a friend home with me. Come and see.”

Mama came scurrying into the kitchen and stopped short as soon as she saw the boy. Her hand flew to her heart as she took in the situation without being told. She had known inside somehow that this little boy had been abandoned on that bench. She just hadn’t been able to shake that feeling, and now as she looked down into his dark, frightened eyes, she knew with certainty that what she’d felt was true. She hurried forward and reached out to shake his hand.

“Why, hello, young man! I’m so glad you’ve come home with Papa.”

“This is David … David McKenzie,” Papa said, “and I invited him to eat with us and then go to see the Christmas program. I even told him we could give him a warm bed to sleep in after the program if his mama hadn’t come back for him yet.”

Mama gave her husband a knowing look and then spoke to David, “We like having boys stay at our house,” she added, looking up at Papa to gauge his response to her use of the word ‘stay.’ He nodded his head in agreement and began helping the boy remove his coat and cap.

“We had a bowl of soup in town, Mama, but we could sure use something else hot,” he told his wife.

“Well, you show David where the bathroom is so he can use the bathroom and wash his hands and face in some warm water, and I’ll see what all I can find.”

After their mid-afternoon snack, Mama tucked David into the bed that her youngest son had used, and the boy had drifted into a deep sleep almost before she left the room. Then she went to an old chest that she kept in the hallway, and digging deep inside, she extracted two sets of clothing just about David’s size. For a moment her eyes clouded with tears, and she held the garments to her chest. But then she braced her shoulders and whispered, “Thank you, Lord, for having me save these garments all these years. You knew that little boy was going to need them.”

After his nap, a warm bath and clean clothes made David feel so much better that he couldn’t keep a smile from sneaking through when he re-entered the kitchen for another snack before they took off for the Christmas program. And during the program, David’s eyes were glued to every single action on the stage. The lights and music fascinated him, and he listened to the words, taking in the story of Jesus’ birth as if he had never heard it before.

At the end of the program, all the children received bags full of treats to help celebrate the Lord’s birthday, and as Papa and Mama led David out of the church, they turned once more toward the corner where he had spent three lonely, fearful days. “We’ll just sit here a short minute, David, and make sure your Mama isn’t right around here looking for you,” Papa said, and sat down, putting one arm around Mama and the other around David. But after about ten minutes, Papa shifted his position so that he could look right into David’s eyes. Mama looked over Papa’s shoulder, her face registering her pain for the boy’s situation.

“David,” Papa said, clearing his throat a little. “I know you want to believe your mama is coming back here to get you. But you see, son, I believe she was having some big problems and didn’t want you to have to go through them too. I believe she probably knew she couldn’t find another place to live with you, and that’s why she didn’t pack any of your clothes. She packed only her own, because she intended to have you sit here until someone came along who could help you and give you a good place to live. A place like she couldn’t give you.” Papa could see the tears glistening in David’s eyes just before the boy turned his head to look up the street as far as he could see, and then turned to look in the other direction one more time.

“Now, we could let you stay here, of course,” Papa continued. “But Mama and I …” he turned slightly to see his wife’s face, and she smiled at him through her own tears and nodded, so Papa continued. “Mama and I would like to have you come and stay with us as long as you’d want to.” He stopped and waited.

David looked at him and then at Mama. “Please come home with us, David,” Mama said in almost a whisper. “We’ll love you just like we did our own little boys years ago.”

“You can decide, David,” Papa said. “But we need to decide right now, because I don’t want to keep Mama out in this cold any longer. So what do you say?”

Once more David looked up and down the street, and then back at Papa. Suddenly he put his hands to his face and whisked away the tears that tracked down his cheeks. Papa could see decision in his eyes, and he knew the moment the boy faced the truth that his mother was not ever coming back to him. He heard Mama whisper just behind him, “Please help him, Jesus.”

David stood to his feet. “Okay,” he said.

Mama gave a glad cry and jumped up to gather the boy into her arms. Papa forced the tears filling his eyes to stay where they were, and he reached out to rest a hand on David’s shoulder. “You made the decision your Mama would have wanted you to make, Son,” he said. Then he stood up, putting an arm around each of them again. “Now,” he said with authority, “let’s go home and celebrate Christmas!”

Which is exactly what they did. And before David went to sleep, Mama and Papa told him more about the Jesus he’d learned about in the Christmas play. They told him how Jesus took all of people’s sins so that they could become good in God’s sight. They told him about the Father who loved little boys and welcomed them into His own family, and how they’d never have to be alone, no matter what, if they would allow the Father and Jesus to come and live in their hearts. So David made another right decision that night and offered Jesus a home in his own heart.

Just as they were getting into their own bed, Mama said, “Oh, my goodness Papa! We forgot about listening to the Lord about our $700.00!” But Papa reached out to take her hand in his. “Not to worry, Mama. I believe the Lord has shown us where to use the money this year, don’t you?” he asked, nodding toward the bedroom next door to theirs where David slept peacefully.

“Oh, of course!” she said, and giggled as he hadn’t heard her do since their own boys had been toddlers. “Clothes and books and toys and schooling, and so many other things. Isn’t it exciting, Papa? The Lord has trusted us with another little boy to raise for Him!”

So they did. And the days and weeks passed. Mama and Papa simply told friends and acquaintances that David was a friend of the family whose mother had become seriously ill and needed him to stay with the Larsons until she was well. In their own hearts and minds, they believed she would have had to be spiritually and emotionally sick to make the choices she’d made.

Friends were glad to see how much the elderly couple enjoyed giving the boy a safe, loving home, and they approved when Papa and Mama asked a young mother who home-schooled her own three children to add David to her classes. Papa used the $700.00 to help pay for the schooling expenses.

And the months rolled along, into the next year, and on to the next Christmas. That next Christmas Eve, Papa announced after their lunch, “It’s time for us to take a drive.”

So all three of them settled into the car, warm and cozy and ready for some kind of adventure. But as they neared their destination and David saw where they were going, he began to feel a tightness in his throat. His stomach began to ache, and tears burned his eyes.

Sure enough, Papa pulled the car into a parking place right beside the corner where they had first seen David sitting on a bench. And the bench was still there. “Let’s get out,” Papa said. He walked around the car and opened Mama’s door and then the back door for David.

“No … please!” David said, panic in his voice. “I’m sorry! Whatever I did that was wrong, I’m sorry. I won’t do it again! Please don’t leave me here again!” And then the tears that had started coursing down his cheeks became a flood of sobbing. “Please don’t make me stay here. I’ll be good. I promise!”

Papa and Mama were stunned. Mama sat down in the back seat, grabbed the boy, and held him close, “Shhh,” she said. “What’s wrong, dear?”

Papa knelt down in front of the door, reached in, and took David’s hand. “David … David … we’re not going to leave you here! Is that what you thought?”

David nodded his head, sniffing back tears as well as he could and leaning hard into Mama’s shoulder.

“Oh, no, no, no!” Mama said.

“No indeed, David,” Papa added. “We’d never give you up. Not ever! I’ve just brought us all back here so that we could remember how the Lord first brought us together. And I thought it would be good for us to sit here a minute and pray and thank Him for making us a family.”

“Would you like for us to do that, David?” Mama asked.

Sniffing again and trying to get the last of his crying under control, David looked at one and then the other with wide, surprised eyes. “You’re not going to leave me here?”

“Never, Son!” Papa said. “You’re part of our family for as long as you want to be. Just like you’re part of God’s family forever!”

So they got out of the car and sat on the bench together, hand in hand. They prayed and thanked the Lord that Christmas Eve for His love and mercies in their lives. Then the months rolled by again, and the next Christmas Eve found them at the same bench, praying the same prayer. They made the same journey the next Christmas Eve … and the next … and the next ….

~~~~~~~~~~

“Pastor McKenzie?” The voice seemed to come from far away. “Pastor McKenzie?” It came again more insistently. David shook himself slightly, realizing that his thoughts had been so concentrated on the testimony he’d been giving that he’d almost forgotten he was on an international Christian television program.

“I’m sorry,” he said, smiling apologetically now. “I was so caught up in remembering.”

“Do you still go back to that same spot every Christmas Eve?” the interviewer asked, her own voice husky with her response to his emotions.

“Yes,” he said, discreetly wiping the dampness from beneath his eyes with two fingers. Releasing a quiet sigh, David McKenzie leaned back in his chair and continued. “Yes, I still go back every year, and … and that’s also why I make sure that I drive one of the buses throughout those neighborhoods every Christmas Eve and pick up all the kids I can personally and take them to our church service.”

“Not many pastors of such a huge inner-city church would drive the bus themselves. It must be a heavy load of work, considering the fact that you have the Sunday School classes for several thousand children every week, plus all of the extra Christmas season services where you serve meals and hand out clothes and gifts to the thousands in need in the city.

“And you’ve begun similar work with children in similar situations in other nations, is that correct?”

“Yes. There are so many hurting children, and we touch only a fraction of them,” he answered.

“I’m sure after almost three decades of serving the Lord, you’ve had opportunities to move into many other areas of ministry. You’re a powerful preacher in your own right, and I’m sure you have connections that would open any number of doors to you. Have you ever thought about doing anything else besides reaching the hurting children in inner cities?”

He paused a long minute before answering. “I can’t do anything else,” he said, looking almost surprised that she had asked the question. “I can’t do anything else!”

“So … you would never consider turning your attention to any other kind of evangelism? Something on a larger scale that would bring you more into the public eye?”

David McKenzie smiled. It was a knowing smile. A smile that spoke of contentment and peace. And he looked directly into the eyes of the young woman asking the question. “No,” he said quietly, shaking his head gently. “No, I’d never considered that alternative even for one minute.”

“That’s interesting. May I ask why?”

“Because it’s only on the streets of New York, and countless cities like it, driving the bus through those ugly neighborhoods of ragged, hungry, frightened, hopeless kids to take them to Jesus … it’s only there that I can rescue the person I’m looking for.”

The interviewer’s eyes grew wide as she asked, “And who is that, Pastor McKenzie?”

“Myself,” he said, smiling at her as another trickle of tears made its way down his weathered cheeks. “Every time I pick up one of those hopeless kids … I’m really picking up myself.”

~ THE END ~

May you have a Christmas season filled with opportunities
to show the love of God to others.


 

Is Praying A Struggle?

 
A good ministry friend of mine — a retired pastor — has a book out on prayer that a lot of struggling believers may find encouraging and helpful where their prayer life is concerned. AFRAID TO PRAY by William (Bill) Lewis is available from Amazon in paperback for $9.00

But Bill has copies available personally for a discount: $8.00, including tax and shipping. I’ve posted a portion of the book’s description below, as well as the link to it’s product page on Amazon. I’ve also included Bill’s e-mail so you can contact him personally if you are interested in a copy from him.

AFRAID TO PRAY explores some of the reasons so many people are reluctant to pray, and through scripture and common-sense examination, helps believers discover the means of overcoming these obstacles to prayer. AFRAID TO PRAY makes the case that prayer is the single most important element of the Christian lifestyle and is crucial to a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. This book reveals the truth of the ever-present attack on the Christian faith and provides the defense against the evil attempt to prevent prayer and block the path to God’s grace. It also details, in simple language, the weapons needed for victory for both Christians and non-Christians.
 
TO PURCHASE FROM AMAZON: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1983099813

BILL’S E-MAIL: lewisbill781@gmail.com