“He that dwells in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. … Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the trapper and from the deadly pestilence. … Because you have made the Lord … even the Most High, thy habitation, there shall no evil befall you; neither shall any plague or calamity come nigh your dwelling. … Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high because he has known My name. He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him. With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation.” (Excerpts from Psalm 91)
Last week I had an auto accident. It was entirely my fault. I drove through a stop sign without stopping. Now, I take that particular route several times a week, and until last Friday, I had always stopped at that stop sign without fail. I suppose I had just enough on my mind Friday that it interfered with my normal attention to my driving, and the next thing I knew another driver was slamming into the driver’s side of my car and spinning it around wildly.
I can’t really describe everything that went through my mind in those seconds — or exactly how I felt. And, frankly, I don’t want to relive the event enough to be able to explain. But when both vehicles came to a stop, and I could think clearly enough to do something sensible, I tried opening my door. It was totally jammed shut, so, realizing that I was evidently not seriously injured and that all my parts worked correctly, I crawled over the gear shift and console and climbed awkwardly out of the passenger side. I went over the the other vehicle, and the lady in that car said that she was badly shaken, but didn’t seem to have any serious injuries either.
My friends, the fact that she and I both literally walked away from our vehicles under our own steam, had not received any blows to our heads or other body parts, and could think and communicate and function at least almost normally was nothing but a miracle.
If the woman who hit me had been just about 8 inches farther to her left, I could have been dead. But the major impact of her car with mine came against the rear door rather than my own door. To be sure, my driver’s door will never work again, and the frame is so damaged that the car is pretty well totaled. But those mere inches at the exact point of impact made all the difference.
Why am I sharing this event on my blog? Because what I’ve told you so far is only part of the story. The best part is yet to come, and I want all of you to be able to share in it.
As most of my readers know by now, I am a firm believer that God means exactly what He says about His care of us and His healing and protection. One of His greatest promises of protection is Psalm 91. I pray that Psalm aloud over myself and my family every morning, and the Lord has honored it in numerous ways during my lifetime. As I drive, I often listen to scripture on tapes or CD’s in my car, and that particular morning, I was listening to a CD of my own father (a minister who is now with the Lord) reading healing and protection scriptures.
At the exact time of the accident, he was reading the words of the last four sentences of Psalm 91. Those words were going out into the air in my car at the moment of impact, and there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that those Words from the Lord that I trust in — and His angels who are assigned to carry out His Word — saved my life and that of the woman driving the other car.
We sometimes get in God’s way, and in His Word He tells us numerous times that He doesn’t always get things His way because we won’t cooperate completely. So in this case, although He would have preferred my not having the accident and the resulting damage to my car and the other driver’s as well, the fact remains that I was negligent and did something stupid. Nevertheless, He was able to intervene and, through the power of His Word and His angels obeying His Word, He was able to spare both the other driver and me from death or even serious physical injury.
We have a wonderful, loving, caring Father. And His protection is REAL if we will learn what His Word says, believe it, and apply it by faith to our lives.
I’m enormously glad that I’m still alive to tell you about how wonderful He is!
Detective Maddison Holt is a man who loves God, but after facing a tragic loss, and accepting the guilt for causing that tragedy, he finds himself doubting both God and himself. Grief, guilt, and self-condemnation are keeping him from being free to love or even receive love from the woman the Lord wants to bless him with for the rest of his life. His journey into the truth that can set him free and give him another chance to love is the story you’ll find in SET FREE TO LOVE.
But Maddison’s story is just the beginning. Because once you get Maddison and Beth on their way to a happily-ever-after, you’ll find that several of the other characters in Book # 1 wanted a book of their own as well. And so the series grows. Four books currently make up the Smoky Mountain family of novels — each with its own hero who faces a challenge that only God’s love and power can overcome. There are more to come, and, hopefully, once you read Maddison’s story, you’ll want to read them all.
SET FREE TO LOVE went on sale yesterday at the Kindle store on Amazon.com. For the rest of June, you can purchase it for only $1.99. Check it out. And if you don’t have a Kindle, no problem. Amazon has a free Kindle app for any device you use. You can download it right from the page where you order SET FREE TO LOVE.
I have posted this poem a couple times over the years, but today I found myself reading it again and being inspired by it. It is one of my own personal favorites of the countless poems I’ve written during my life, and I just decided I WANTED to post it again.
ALONG THE RIVER
The sun is playing hide and seek with clouds
Along the river.
The clouds are gray, but friendly, soft, and free
Along the river.
I move unhampered by the flirting breeze
Along the river
Breathing deeply of the moistened earth
Along the river.
Quiet now invades my mind and soul
Along the river.
I’m letting go of tumbling, troubled thoughts
Along the river.
My past recedes; my future quiet rests
Along the river,
And water speaks to waters deep within
Along the river.
I sit and contemplate historic past
Along the river
The generations served by this same stream
Along the river.
And sense that I belong to something great
Along the river
A part of something bigger than myself
Along the river.
And far beyond my power to understand,
Along the river,
An elemental knowing I am known —
And I am loved —
By the Creator of the river.
I hadn’t heard about the “Prompt Nights” writing challenge until this week. And when I saw the current prompt, I couldn’t resist taking part — since ministry in the area of healing is one of the things I do most. So I’m sharing a poem I actually wrote a few years go, but it fits this week’s prompt perfectly.
DR. JEHOVAH RAPHA
(Exodus 15:26, Mark 5:25-34)
Her brow was wet with fever,
And her body wracked with pain.
She did not know just what was wrong,
But the symptoms would not change.
She knew she needed healing,
But she had no way to pay.
Who to turn to; who to trust;
Who to show the way?
A friend said to her, “Sister,
I know a doctor kind.
He cleanses lepers, makes lame walk,
And gives sight to the blind.
In fact, He’ll take on any case,
And cure it every time.”
“Oh, would that I could go to Him,”
She then was heard to say.
“But since I do not know His name,
How can I know the way?
And even if He’d take my case,
I simply cannot pay.”
“My dear, fear not,” her friend replied;
“There is no need to fear.
I’ll take you to Him right away;
He’s really very near.
His name’s Jehovah Rapha; He’s
‘The God that healeth thee.’
And because of His Son’s precious blood,
The healing – it is free!
Visit the “Healing From Jesus” site.
Epiphany is a celebration by the Body of Christ of the revelation of Jesus Christ to the gentiles — all nations of people who are not from His own Jewish heritage. On this day, we often celebrate the arrival of the wise men from the east, who came many miles, following a great sign in the heavens, to worship Jesus as the Lord of the universe who had come to earth as a man to redeem His creation from their own sin and its curse. The following article is an edited version of one I posted a few years ago, but I feel it says what is in my heart on this special day of celebration. I hope it blesses you, even if you read it when I originally shared it. It comes to you with my wish that you will have a continuous revelation throughout this new year of Jesus Christ and all He wants to be for you and your life.
“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. 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
Decided to visit some poems from my past. I had almost forgotten about writing some of these, so I dusted them off and stuck them into a brand new post for all the readers who are new to my site in the past couple of years. Hope you enjoy them.
I think I have a lot to say —
Too much to finish in one day.
If I record a daily log,
I’ll have the skeleton of a total blog.
And if I flesh that skeleton out
And give it life, I have no doubt
Readers will gather round about
And greet each shining post with joyful shout.
I’ll shock the timid, cheer the sad,
Enrage the liberal and make him mad,
And all I write, be it good or bad,
To cyberspace my own two cents will add.
Sometimes I write too long.
Sometimes I write too short.
Sometimes I write to make a point.
Sometimes I write for sport.
Now WordPress challenged me
To write a post that’s strange.
Cannot be done the easy way.
I have to make a change.
They say but twenty-five
Of letters are allowed.
And if I’m brave, they then advise
That I leave out a vowel!
So in this little poem,
One vowel I’ll avoid.
I hope it won’t be sorely missed,
And my good name destroyed.
Let’s see, what can I choose?
There’s only five to start.
Oh, my, this is a challenge real.
WordPress, please have a heart!
Okay, I’ve made my choice.
So happy I can be.
The vowel I’ve chosen to ignore
Lives between ‘T’ and ‘V’.
Behold the blessed, holy convocation,
Preserved for us to ponder as we gaze.
In transient elements, the artist painted
Eternal substance; impartations that amaze.
We look upon the faces art has captured
As loved disciples try to understand
The Master’s words; He speaks of sacrifices
And of His blood and body freely given for man.
Their eyes – so full of love, yet consternation,
Trying to grasp full meaning of this meal.
All other Passovers remembered history,
But now the sacrifice sits here with them, so real.
In colors both subdued and yet alive,
The artist welcomes me to come join in
Our Lord’s last supper and His revelation:
He’ll now go forth to pay the price for all my sin.
I am bored … so bored.
I need something else to do.
Wrack my brain … the pain.
What will help? Don’t have a clue.
Talk on phone … endless drone.
Do my nails until they gleam.
Clean desk drawer … fun chore:
Found lost candy and hand cream.
Still I’m bored … so bored.
Without something else to try,
I’ll have no choice … guilty voice:
Must start my real work by and by.
What? You ask how was this keyboard
Torn asunder piece by piece?
I admit it was my doing:
Thought perhaps my pain ‘twould ease.
For I cannot find my music;
Cannot hear the melody.
Cannot feel the beat, the rhythm;
And, of course, no harmony.
Still, my soul keeps searching, reaching;
Won’t believe the gift is gone.
It once coursed throughout my being;
Every breath exhaled a song.
Every heartbeat set a tempo;
Notes cascaded from my mind;
Even in sleep, my dreams invaded —
Nocturnes delicate, sublime.
Now, I’ve only fleeting memories
Of creating symphonies.
Tragedy beyond my bearing:
There’s no music left in me!
LONGING FOR THEM NOW
Bright flashes of blissful moments,
Fluttering pages of Christmas memories.
Drifting through my mind.
Pages of memories of childhood beam
With living, expectant Christmas dreams.
Longing for them now.
Remembering how each page was able to ignite
My imagination, which brought each one to life.
Her sculptured cheekbones and her coal black hair, which she wore in layered curls to just below her shoulders, she had inherited from her Cherokee ancestors on her father’s side. Her emerald eyes and the light dusting of freckles across her cheeks (she could cover them completely with properly applied makeup, but usually preferred to let them peak through) had been passed to her from her mother’s Irish bloodline.
And the truth was that when one considered all of these parts together – from head to toe – Suzanne Peterson was simply, strikingly beautiful.
Of much more importance was the fact that she was so beautiful in spirit that she had no vanity about her looks and hardly gave them a thought. So her beauty wasn’t at all sophisticated. There was an innocence about her – in her eyes – in her smile – in her manner – that made her charming, and most everyone who knew her found her a delight to be around.
At the same time, she felt most things passionately, and when her sense of injustice had been aroused, her eyes would flash fire, and her lovely voice would take on a ring of authority that seemed incongruous with that innocence. So potent was this combination that when Suzanne Peterson took her stand on any issue, most people listened – whether they wanted to or not.
That fact gave her an advantage as a newspaper reporter. She was an accurate and truthful reporter, but every time she had an opportunity to do an article or a story that didn’t require her to be unbiased, she invested every bit of her talent and passion into persuading people to embrace what was right and good, and to abandon what was not.
But tonight, she wasn’t thinking about newspaper articles, or even about injustice of any kind. Rather, she was happily weighing the merit of packing her rose pink silk robe against that of taking the navy blue flannel as she prepared her luggage for tomorrow’s trip to Tennessee. She hummed quietly as she worked, stopping every once in a while to admire and smooth her hand over the ruby velvet bridesmaid’s dress hanging on her closet door.
“Oh, Lord,” she stopped to pray now, “how good You are to bring Maddison and Beth together as You have. I can’t imagine any two people better suited to each other. I know it took a lot of miracles to make everything work out for them, but You’ve certainly shown Yourself strong on their behalf. … It just swells my heart to see Maddison so happy after all he’s been through as a result of Matt’s death.”
Her eyes filled with tears, but she blinked them away. Her grief had to give place to her stronger joy for the man who would have been her own brother-in-law if things had gone as planned. She sighed deeply and sat down on the end of her bed in thought. Six months ago it would have been her own wedding she was packing for. …
(Excerpt, Cameron’s Rib, Chapter Two)
Pastor Cameron McDaniels had never felt his heart stop beating before. … Was that what was happening … or was he just forgetting to breathe in and out normally? … He couldn’t have answered either one of those questions, because his usually quick and concise reasoning abilities had just deserted him.
All he knew for sure was that he was looking at the most beautiful woman he had ever seen in all of his thirty-eight years on earth. … And her laughter … He had heard it as he came down the hall. Now, standing in the same room with her, it seemed to radiate from her whole being … rich and warm. It reached out and embraced him and drew him in … like a magnet. …
Somewhere in the back of his mind was the vague thought that this must have been what Adam felt when he first saw Eve. A foolish comparison perhaps, but he was used to thinking in Biblical terms after all. He knew others were in the room, but he couldn’t seem to focus on anyone but her.
All of this experience had taken only a few seconds, but he had lost track of time. Finally, he shook his head to clear it, deliberately took a deep breath, just to prove that he still could, and reminded himself that men didn’t really fall in love at first sight – particularly men who were ministers of the Gospel.
He squared his shoulders, taking another deep breath, glad that the others were still gathered around his secretary’s desk, intent on what they had been talking about that had them all laughing. They hadn’t seen him enter the office, so he had a moment to collect his thoughts.
So this was the young woman who had been engaged to Maddison’s brother and was now becoming a partner with Beth. Suzanne Peterson. … The name suited her, he thought.
The laughter of the others stirred him out of his reverie again, and squaring his shoulders once more, he moved forward. “Hello everyone. I’m sorry I’m late. The meeting with the other pastors ran longer than usual.”
Beth hurried toward him, her arms outstretched. “It’s about time you got here; we’re starving!” she said as they hugged each other. By that time, Maddison had crossed the room, beaming from ear to ear. “Don’t pay any attention to her, Cameron,” he said. “She’s always ready to eat. And can she put away the hotdogs!” he added, sliding his arm around Beth and squeezing her shoulder. She responded by punching him gently in the stomach.
“Now, Honey,” he said shaking his finger at her, “if you don’t behave, I’m going to have to arrange some more counseling sessions with our Pastor here before the ceremony.”
“All right, enough of that, you two.” The words came from across the room, and Cameron looked beyond Maddison to see Suzanne approaching them.
“You must be Pastor McDaniels,” she said, extending her hand to him.
“That’s right,” he answered as he took her hand. The luxurious sound of her laughter already had him mesmerized; now the feel of her hand in his disrupted his concentration even more. He had to get his thoughts together; he was the pastor after all; he needed to act like one! “And you’re Suzanne, of course. It’s so finally to – I mean – It’s so good to finally meet you.” He almost never stumbled over his words. Why now, of all times?
Suzanne spoke again: “I’ve heard so many good things about you from these two, that I feel I already know you.”
Let go of her hand, Cameron, he told himself. “Good … I mean … I … uh … I feel the same way.” He shakily drew in a long overdue breath. No woman had ever made him almost speechless before!
(Excerpt, Cameron’s Rib, Chapter Three)
With Suzanne in Honduras to interview the pastors, Cameron felt lost and uptight. This being in love was a whole new experience, and he was only beginning to get used to its ups and downs. But by Monday, with only four more days to go before her return, he was able to focus on his regular schedule a little more earnestly. He even congratulated himself because he felt like he was finally getting back into his stride. But it all came to a crashing halt on Tuesday night with a phone call from Juan Cordoba that began the worst nightmare Cameron would ever experience in his life.
When he first heard Juan’s voice speak his name, he assumed he had called to give an update on Suzanne’s visit, but when the only thing following the word “Cameron” was silence, he knew something was wrong. His heart started pounding, and he cried out silently … not Suzanne … not Suzanne!
“What is it, Juan?” he asked in a strangled voice.
“I don’t know how to tell you this in a way that will make it easy to hear, so I’ll just give you the bold facts. Suzanne went out with two of our medical team in the mobile clinic van. They were going pretty far into the more primitive areas, and she wanted to get some pictures and talk to the people that were receiving help. But the van never arrived at its destination.”
“You mean it’s just disappeared!”
“Nobody’s heard from any of the team since they left here very early this morning. They should have had time to visit both of the villages they were scheduled to work at and be headed back by now.”
There was silence on both ends of the line. Finally Juan Cordoba spoke again.
“You know what probably happened.”
Cameron let out a groan. He felt as if something were choking the breath out of him. Juan was again quiet on the other end of the line. He knew without words what kind of pain his friend was in, and he hurt for him, as well as for the family members of the other people on his medical team.
Finally Cameron was able to get enough breath to let out an agonizing sigh. “You think the van was hijacked for the drugs.”
“That seems most likely. I’ve called the authorities, but you know how hard it is to get things done very efficiently in these cases. They are on the job, but I think we’re going to have to keep our trust in the Lord for this one.”
Tears ran down Cameron’s cheeks and dripped from his jaw, but he wasn’t paying attention. He had picked up a pen, and started making notes. “Tell me everything you know at this point … and I mean every detail, Jaun. Don’t try to spare me any of it. I have to know.”
There wasn’t much more to add for the time being. Juan told him their own people were trying to track the van, and might be able to come up with some kind of lead before the authorities. He promised to call back as soon as he knew anything.
“Well, I’m going to call our congregation to a special prayer meeting right now, but I’ll be on the first plane out of here tomorrow morning,” Cameron said. “If I haven’t heard anything from you before I board the plane, I’ll give you one more call, so if you’re going to be away from the house or office, will you be sure somebody’s there who can give me the latest information?”
“Sure, Cameron. But I’ll be back in touch tonight yet; I promise.
“I’d appreciate that, if you don’t mind … even if you don’t have any more news.” Juan could here the tears choking his friend’s voice, and his heart broke for him.
“You can count on it, my brother.”
Cameron cleared his throat of the thickness caused by the tears. “Thank you, Juan. I’ll be waiting to hear from you, and you can be sure we’ll be praying with all the faith we’ve got for all of them.”
“We’ve notified all of our sister churches, and the congregations are going to prayer even as we speak. The Lord won’t fail us, Brother.”
“I believe that, Juan. Good bye, my friend.”
Cameron’s first call was to Maddison Holt and his wife Beth, knowing they would call others on the prayer chain for him. But even more to the point, Maddison had become Cameron’s closest friend and was so much like his own brother that he knew he could count on the solid comfort and support.
“Hi, Cameron,” Maddison said, “what are you up to this evening?”
Cameron cleared his throat again, and took just long enough to get his words out that Maddison knew there was a serious problem. “Cameron … ?”
“I … I just got a call from Juan Cordoba, Maddison. There’s a problem, and we need to get the church together for prayer.”
“Suzanne went out in the medical van this morning with their team that visits the outlying villages, but the van never arrived at either village. They’re all missing.”
“Oh, man! Do they have any idea what’s happened to it?”
Cameron cleared his throat again. He just couldn’t seem to get beyond this choking feeling. “The most likely explanation is that some local gang has hijacked the van in order to get the drugs it carries.”
“That’s pretty common down there?”
“Yes, unfortunately. It’s so common that I’m positive that’s what’s happened.”
“Do you have any idea what their attitude is likely to be toward the people on the van? I mean … are they likely to let them go?”
Cameron’s sigh was so weary that it almost broke Maddison’s heart just to hear it, knowing how much this man loved Suzanne. “It just depends. If they’re focused enough on the drugs only, they may just throw the people off and leave them stranded. But only God knows what these guys are like … if that’s what’s happened. There’s always the possibility that they’ve kidnapped them to hold them for ransom, of course, but I don’t think that’s as likely.”
“So you want us to call some of the others?”
“Yes, if you will. Call Uncle Matt and have him call a bunch, and then get Hilary, and have her call another group. Let’s ask them to come down to the church if they can, so we can all pray together. But any who can’t come down can at least be praying at home. I need to stop and call Suzanne’s parents next, so I’m going to let you guys handle the congregation.”
“Consider it done, Buddy, and we’ll be down to the church just as soon as we can get there. As a matter of fact, I think Beth and I will go on down there, and we can keep making calls from there.”
“That’s great. I’ll see you there pretty soon … and … Maddison …” he made a choking sound that barely held back a sob.
“I know, Buddy … I know. … We’ll be with you soon.”
(Excerpt, Cameron’s Rib, Chapter Eighteen)
The three excerpts above are just to tempt you. They’re from CAMERON’S RIB, the second book in The Smoky Mountain Series, which is finally available for e-readers. You can find a copy at Amazon’s Kindle Store right now. If you’ve read Book # 1 and liked it, you’re sure to like this one as well. Only $3.99
We all live by a value system of some kind. Each possession, each day, and each person in our lives has a different value, and sometimes that value changes. The title of this article is a joke, of course, poking fun at the truth that most value is relative. But what makes it relative? What, in the final analysis, determines an item’s value?
There are millions of affluent citizens of several nations who value their Cadillacs — or a number of other expensive automobiles with big gasoline engines — as one of the most important and life-enhancing items they could own. On a roster of possessions that represent the most positive assets in life, those glossy, high-powered autos head the list.
But let that Cadillac owner find himself stranded in the middle of a blazing desert: sand blowing into every nook and cranny, including his engine — no roads of any kind — no gas stations. Suddenly, a slow-moving, bad-smelling, comically-proportioned camel is worth a whole lot more to that guy than the Caddy, and he’d gladly make a trade. Value.
By the same token, a woman who finds herself happily married to a kind, thoughtful man will value that man highly — more highly than any of the other people in her life. Her next-door neighbor may be married to Attila the Hun, and she finds herself valuing her time away from him with others much more than she does him.
The woman who’s wished all her life for a huge two-story home with five bathrooms, and who has the money to care for that house and hire help — as well as be free to stay home and enjoy it most days — will value that house highly. But the gal who struggles to make ends meet by working three jobs and going non-stop from sun-up to sun-down will value a one-bedroom apartment that is easy to clean and maintain with no extra fuss.
So what is it, really, that gives something its value? It seems that it is the owner of that ‘something.’ The person to whom the thing belongs and for whom it fulfills a purpose or meets a need is the one who imbues it with its value.
Well, I, for one am thrilled to realize that truth. Because I know for sure to whom I belong. And I know for sure — because He told me Himself — what service I perform and what needs I meet for Him. Nor am I an isolated case. There are millions more just like me — yet unique at the same time — and bearing equal value in the eyes of our owner.
My owner is the God of the universe, the Creator of all things — including me. His Word tells me clearly (Revelation 4:11) that all things — including me — were created by Him for His pleasure. And, in fact that is my number-one job: to give my Heavenly Father and the Lord Jesus Christ pleasure. Surely, I am assigned to do other things: to love others; to teach them what the Word says about Jesus and how He, as God, came to save us from our own sin and rebellion; and to show by my whole life the true nature of God. But those assignments do not substitute for God’s original purpose in creating me: His own enjoyment of a family just like Him.
But not only does He own the whole human race because He created us. When we rebelled against Him and turned away, breaking our relationship with him completely, with no hope to get it back, God came in the person of Jesus Christ and paid the supreme price to buy us back into His possession. He made us the first time (an easy and delightful experience for Him); He bought us the second time (a gut-wrenching, horrific, thoroughly bloody experience for Him).
But you know what’s really interesting to me? The Word of God tells us in Hebrews 12:2 that Jesus faced all of that sacrifice for us — laying aside the privileges of Divinity and re-defining Himself in human flesh, living a life never once stained by sin, and taking our sin and the horrible shame, beating, crucifixion, and separation from God that we deserved — because He saw something beyond that sacrifice that would give Him so much joy that it far surpassed the evil He would have to endure.
Now, tell me please, what joy could the Lord of the universe – Creator of all things — what possible joy could He have been missing that made such a horrific sacrifice necessary? The only thing He was missing was a relationship with man. Since man, by his own volition, had irrevocably broken that relationship, nothing could restore it at that point. The only hope was if God could find a way to “re-create” the human race — to make them righteous enough again to fellowship with Him.
The triune Creator had everything else He could possibly want, but not one of those things could give Him the joy that His relationship with us could give. Dear friend, it was for man — for you and me — that He longed. It was for you and me that He made the decision to suffer such agony and death.
So how valuable are we? Is there anything in the universe that could be bartered for you and me? Is there anything that can be offered to Jesus Christ in exchange for His relationship with us that would tempt Him to give us up? Not on your life, my friend! He already made that choice, once and for all, when He laid down everything else for us.
Remember, He didn’t just decide to come down to earth for a moment in time and go through the motions. He came down to go through the reality of taking on our sin, taking on our separation and banishment from the Father God, taking on our death. His only hope was in the eternal Word of the living God, who had spoken that He would raise Jesus up with new life once the legal price for sin had been paid in full. Had that Word failed, Jesus would never have seen Heaven again, and we would be lost and undone — without God and without hope — forever.
But He did see Heaven again. He came up out of that grave with eternal life to offer anyone who would accept the sacrifice He had made. (John 3:16-18, 1 John 5:11-12). So when we accept His sacrifice and accept Him, that new life comes into us and we are “born again.” (John 3:3-5). We become “a new creation: a new species,” created in the righteousness of Jesus Christ Himself. (2 Cor. 5:17).
Yes, it’s easy to identify Jesus Christ as our owner — twice over. He created us; then he paid for us. A critical reader will stop here and note the fact that I am repeating this point for the third time in this article. And he would be correct. I am repeating this astounding truth so many times because this world has a way of draining it right out of us. It’s so easy to give mental assent to what we’re discussing here but miss the power of it as a reality in our lives. So once more I will remind all of us: He laid everything on the line — Heaven, His eternal throne, His own life — for us. And therein lies our value.
It doesn’t matter how we feel about it. It doesn’t matter what we think. And it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks about the situation. Our worth is set for eternity, and no one — absolutely no one — is going to get Jesus to trade us for anything else at all.
“Therefore, humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God … casting the whole of your care on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully.” (Amp.)
By the way, did you notice God’s definition of the word “humble”?
So many people seem to think that to be humble means to look down on ourselves and consider ourselves worthless subjects who deserve all the problems we’re facing — to say of ourselves that we’re not worthy for God to help us. However, God says true humility is the understanding that we cannot fix our own problems, but that we have a Father who loves us so much that He wants to fix all of them for us. So true humility gladly and with great thanksgiving, turns every problem, care, and anxiety over to Him — fully expecting Him to deliver us.
The word “trust” is an enormously powerful word — at least to me. It embodies a complete surrender of self-protection and puts one in a vulnerable position. As a result, I don’t trust easily. I’m grateful to say that there are a few people I feel safe in trusting, and although “few” may sound like a negative number, I’ve learned that it’s sometimes rare to have even that many.
However, there is one Person I trust implicitly: my Lord Jesus Christ. And it seemed only natural, when given the word “trust” as our prompt today, that my heart and mind would turn towards Him as I wrote my poem for the challenge. I offer two poems, both of them meeting the challenge of the acrostic form. But since what I wanted to say did not lend itself easily to much internal rhyme, and since I didn’t have much more time to devote to scouring for different word choices, I have opted to let that technique wait for another time.
There is but One whose love and help are sure.
Renewed each day as surely as the sun.
Under His wings of grace I find the cure:
Sin and hate, sorrow, sickness – done.
‘Tis Jesus Christ, the sole trustworthy One.
Tiny babe: He took that form in Bethlehem.
Relinquishing Heaven’s privileges, became a man.
Upon Himself, He took my sin and all its curse.
Secure in Love’s omnipotence, He took the cross.
Then surely I can trust myself into His hands.
How deep and dark the grave in which they laid the Lord.
And naught to give Him hope except the Father’s Word.
But ’twas enough, for God had said, “When day three comes,
You’ll rise with life anew and come again to Home.”
Throughout the vigil, silence reigned and men did mourn.
And in the halls of Hell, the demons, they did groan:
This man from off the cross had stormed their barriers staid.
Hell panicked at the word from Heaven: “The price is paid!”
Then Jesus, Son of God and Son of Man, stepped forth
And grasped the keys of Death and Hell with violent force.
Then rose through realms beneath to burst from earth and grave.
His shout of victory rang abroad: “Mankind is saved!”
O, Lamb of God
So pure, so holy, undefiled,
You came so meekly,
Vulnerable, a tiny child.
You took our sin
And took all of its consequence.
You chose the cross,
And on it your lifeblood was spent.
But for what cause,
When tempted in the garden that night,
Did you still choose
To let yourself be crucified?
You told us, Lord;
If we’d just listen, we would know.
You said, “Because
I love the Father, I will go.”
Lord, work in us
That holy and obedient love,
That we, when tried,
Will speak and act only for God.
(Photo courtesy of Karen’s Whimsy)