RACING TOWARD THE LIGHT – CHAPTER 5

RACING TOWARD THE LIGHT

© 2009 Sandra Pavloff Conner

CHAPTER FIVE

Monday afternoon, Serenity met with Jim Kelso, the grade school principal, and he showed her around the school grounds, gave her a copy of the handbook, explaining a few things from it personally, and then let her look through some of the curriculum.

“As you can see, this curriculum hits all the basic elemental subjects very thoroughly, and we have also instituted a new curriculum, which covers more social awareness subjects that students can choose from, even in the lower grades. It will begin this year. And our new librarian, Miss Parker, has worked hard to cultivate the children’s interest in reading and communication of various kinds. In fact, she has developed quite a following.”

“It’s always rewarding when children learn to love reading. I’d like to meet Miss Parker some time.”

“Oh, definitely. As a matter of fact, if you decide to enroll David here, you may want to let him come to the Summer Library Club during the month of July.”

“Library Club?”

“Yes, Miss Parker volunteers her time three mornings every week during the month of July to offer a program of reading and activities for any interested children. Each child must bring his own snack, and various other materials that coincide with whatever project they’re working on, but she lets the parents know in advance what those materials will be.”

“Does she do all ages at one time?”

“Yes. She starts the younger ones on a project and then moves on to the middle school students. And she often lets some of the middle school children help with the younger ones. It’s worked very well. At least . . . last summer was the first time we tried it, since that was her first year with us . . . but it was wonderfully received by students and parents alike.”

“Well, it sounds interesting, and I’m sure David would like it. Is there any charge at all?”

“No, the town board decided that if Miss Parker were so willing to volunteer her services, the town would take care of any extra expense incurred by the school in connection with that program.”

“That’s very generous. I’ve noticed before when I’ve talked with some of the townspeople that they are really proud of their school,” she said, looking around her as she spoke. “And I’d say they have a right to be.”

“Thank you, Miss Lawrence. Now, before I leave you, did you have any other questions?”

“I don’t think so, thank you, Mr. Kelso. I’ll talk things over with my grandfather, and I’ll probably let you know something by next week.”

“Good,” he said, walking back with her as far as his office door. He turned to walk through it and nodded at her once more. “I’ll look forward to hearing from you then, and I know we’ll look forward to having David if you decide to send him.”

“Thank you again. Bye now,” she answered, moving on to the exit doors.

When she returned home, she filled her grandfather in on what she had learned, and then they sat down with David and talked to him. When he understood that he had a choice of staying here with his great-grandfather and going to school instead of moving away to a larger city as they had talked about before, he made an instant decision. He seemed so eager that Serenity took that as a confirmation from the Lord, and made her own decision as quickly. Her heart wanted to stay here anyway, so why not. After all, Gramps had said that she should try to make a life that was satisfying for herself too, and she had never felt freer or happier than she had felt here this past year.

So the next day, Serenity took David to register for the second grade at Hamsted Elementary School. The secretary helped them fill out the forms. “So David’s last name is Hartford and not Lawrence?” she asked.

“Yes, he’s my nephew, although I’m now his legal guardian.”

“Oh, yes, I see that a couple lines down now,” she said glancing through the rest of the pages. “Well, I think that’s all the information we’ll need for right now, Miss Lawrence. We’ll look forward to having David with us next year.”

Just as they were coming out of the office, they met Miss Parker, on her way to lunch, and received her personal invitation to attend the Summer Library Club each week in July. Miss Parker seemed to Serenity to be a very enthusiastic young woman, about twenty-five or twenty-six years old. She had blond hair that looked quite natural to Serenity, and she wore it in short, loose curls that framed her face in a vibrant halo. She seemed to literally radiate energy, and she smiled constantly.

David liked that, of course, and he committed himself to take part in the very first Library Day, which was a week away. “I’ll be seven before then,” he told Miss Parker. “My birthday is Saturday.”

“Well, may I wish you a very happy birthday, then, David. I hope you get lots of presents and all the cake and ice cream you can eat.”

“Oh, I will. Aunt Sere already bought me a present, and my Gramps said he ordered me something special, and I have a new friend, Noah, and he said he’s getting me something extra-special!”

“Wow. Sounds great to me.”

“And my best friend Trent is coming to have supper with us, and he’ll probably bring me a present too.”

“Well, he may, David,” Serenity answered him, “but even if he doesn’t, you just remember that the best gift he can give you is his friendship.”

“That’s true,” Miss Parker agreed. “And we’ve been reading and discussing some books that teach a lot about good friendships this past year. Maybe you can learn to enjoy them this summer, David.”

“Okay,” he said, nodding his head.

“Well, I think we’re done here, Dave,” his aunt said. She reached out to shake Miss Parker’s hand. “Thank you for all your encouragement for David. We’ll see you next month.”

“Great. I’ll look forward to it.”

With that, Serenity and David left the school and went shopping for a few more clothes and the school materials that were on the list Miss Parker had given them for the first Library Day project.

Saturday dawned bright and shiny. That kind of weather was getting to be a habit. The only rain they’d had since the severe storms had been abolished had been two or three late afternoon showers, and they had dissipated before sunset. David was especially glad about the weather today, of course, this being his own special day. “Aunt Sere, are we going to cook outside for supper?” he asked while he ate his breakfast.

“Yes, we’ll have your favorite. Hot dogs,” she said, grinning at him. “And maybe some hamburgers for the rest of us.”

“Noah likes hot dogs too,” David said, enthusiastically shoveling another big bite of pancakes into his mouth. “And Trent loves ‘em, just like me!”

“Well, I’m glad.”

“And he did get me a present too. He told me so last night when I talked to him on the phone.”

“Well, it sounds like you’ll have plenty then. Listen, slow down a little on those pancakes. They won’t run off, and you’re getting your mouth too full to be trying to talk at the same time.”

“Okay, I’ll just eat,” he said, taking another bite that was a little bigger than his mouth, and Serenity gave up. She started putting breakfast things away a little at a time and began to wash the dishes. By the time she had everything done except for David’s dishes, he was finished and ready to hit the beach.

“Remember, don’t go in the water until I tell you it’s been long enough after eating,” she reminded him. She knew that he wasn’t really likely to forget, but ever since he’d been left to her care, she had been just a little more anxious that normal about safeguarding him. Of course, she knew that the Lord was the only One Who could really keep him safe, and she prayed scriptures over him everyday, both in her own personal prayer time, and also when she prayed with him a few minutes right before breakfast.

“Okay, I’m gonna sit on the porch and read my new book until you say I can go in.”

“Good idea. Thank you.”

With that he was out the door, and Serenity finished her work in the kitchen. Her granddad had taken off early to go out in the sail boat with two friends of his, and he wouldn’t be back until late afternoon, so she had time to plan the birthday dinner and maybe even finish that article she had been working on for the Christian Family Magazine. In fact, she was deep into that work a couple of hours later when the phone rang. It was Noah.

“I wanted to know if you had any objections to my giving David and Trent a ride on Moondancer at the party tonight.”

“No, none at all. They’ll love it.”

“Well, I’m not positive how Moondancer will take to Trent alone on his back, but I can let David ride with him, and I can walk along beside them if I think it’s necessary. David’s been riding like he was born in a saddle the last several times he’s gone out. And Moondancer looks forward to having that boy on his back as much as he does having me. In fact,” he said, chuckling, “I’m starting to get a little jealous.”

“Yeah, you can’t fool me, Noah Bennett. I see how that horse is with you. You two have a bond that’s beyond the natural. Nobody could ever disrupt that, and you know it.”

He laughed more now. “Yeah, you’re right. I just sort of fell in love with that stallion the first time I saw him, and I guess it was mutual. It’s nice to know horses live a long time. At least it should be a long and happy relationship.”

“David’s so excited he can’t hold still anticipating tonight. And he keeps talking about your gift as if you’ve told him it’s going to be something really unexpected. Is there anything I should know about this gift?” she asked with teasing laughter in her voice.

“Nope. You just gotta trust me.”

There was that phrase again. The one he’d used when he’d told her to trust him about David’s safety on the horse. And Serenity did trust Noah. More than she ever remembered trusting any man that she hadn’t known well almost all of her life. She still felt a tingle all the way through her when she remembered his threat to return her kiss. But at least, she hadn’t felt self-conscious when she’d seen him the next time. Of course, both of the times they’d been together since then had been times he’d brought Moondancer down for David to ride. The other times, David had gone to Noah’s house and ridden from there. Tonight would be the first time she and Noah would actually spend any extended time together, and then she’d be busy acting as hostess for the birthday party.

“Did I lose you somewhere?” Noah’s words on the other end of the phone cut into her wandering thoughts.

“Oh, no, I’m sorry. I got a little sidetracked with thoughts about the party.”

“Well, I need to let you go so you can get everything ready.”

“Actually, I wasn’t working on the party at all when you called. I was working on an article.”

“Oh, I am sorry then, if I’ve interrupted your creativity.”

Serenity laughed. She’d laughed more since Noah had come than she had at any time since her sister and brother-in-law had died. “Don’t be silly,” she answered him now. “I was just about finished with it, and you haven’t caused me any setback. As a matter of fact, I think I’ll even be able to take it in to the post office before time for the party.”

“I have to go into town anyway in about an hour. Would you like for me to take it in?”

“Well, if you’re sure it won’t be extra trouble for you.”

“Heavens no! As small as Hamsted is, you can almost travel from one end of town to the other in the time it takes to blink your eyes,” he answered, laughing himself. “But I’m not complaining,” he added. “I like this little place, and the village atmosphere. You can really get to know people. And I’m glad you invited me to Christ Community Church. I might have waited a few weeks before I went looking for a place to worship if you hadn’t really encouraged me to attend right away. I really like Pastor Carlyle. He and I have had lunch together a couple of times, and I have more respect for him every time I’m with him. He’s a true man of God.”

“Yeah, I’ve always liked him very much myself. And his wife, Jennifer, is just as great.”

“She is a sweet lady. They invited me to dinner one night last week, and I was surprised at her sense of humor. It doesn’t show a lot on Sunday morning, but she had me almost in tears from laughter the other night.”

“I’m glad. From what I’ve noticed about you lately, you need to laugh more.”

“Well, I can tell you that I’ve laughed more since coming here and meeting you and your family than I have in a long time.” He spoke the words lightheartedly, but Serenity sensed a serious tone beneath them also.

“I’m glad,” she answered him on a serious note herself. “In fact, I was just thinking the same thing about the time we’ve spent with you.”

“Really?”

“Mmhmm.”

“That’s good to know. It’s nice to think I might make someone’s life a little brighter.”

“Well, you can rest assured that there’s someone else whose life is a lot brighter since you came into it, and that’s my nephew. He’s almost a different person.”

“I’m glad. I really like David a lot. I think he reminds me of myself a little, when I was a kid. Although, that thought might not be very encouraging to you, come to think of it.”

“Are you fishing for more compliments, Officer Bennett?”

There was a pause on the other end of the phone. There it was again. That sense of having brought up something hurtful to Noah by addressing him as a law enforcement officer. She wanted to ask about it, but not over the phone.

“Well,” she hurried to change the subject, “I guess I will hang up and go back to my article, since I have my own postal delivery service coming by to pick it up in an hour. Thank you, Noah.”

“Glad to do it. Will an hour give you enough time?”

“I’m sure it will, if I hang up now. See you then.”

“All right. Bye for now.”

One hour later, on the dot, Noah was standing on her back porch knocking on the screen door. “Is it you, Noah?” she called from the bedroom where she was just sealing the large envelope.

“Right the first time,” he replied.

“Come on in and have a seat. I’m finished, and I’ll be right out.”

“Take your time,” he said as he walked into the kitchen and sat at the table.

The next minute, Serenity walked in and laid the envelope on the table in front of Noah. She was wearing light blue shorts and a white V-neck knit shirt with blue flowers embroidered along the neck. She had pulled her hair into a high pony tail, with just the slightest fringe of side-swept bangs and curling tendrils working loose from the sides. Her eyes sparkled, and Noah found himself hoping it was because she was as glad to see him as he was to see her. She looked completely casual and ordinary, yet Noah, once again, felt something stir to life inside of him from just being in her presence. What was it about this woman that captured him this way, he wondered again. In fact, he’d been asking himself that question ever since the night he’d brought David home after the storm.

He looked right into her eyes now, and saw an answering flicker of . . . something stronger than mild friendship . . . but what exactly? He couldn’t quite put a name to it, but it was powerful enough that their eyes held for several moments, neither of them saying anything else during that time. Finally Serenity looked down at the envelope she’d laid in front of him and cleared her throat to speak.

“Thanks again for taking this for me, Noah. That way I can get the cake done earlier.”

He looked down at the envelope too, and finally picked it up, rising from the chair. “No problem.”

“Shall I send the money with you now, or would you rather wait and see how much it is? I do need it to go first class.”

“Just wait. It can’t be too much as light as it is,” he said. “Well,” he added on a sort of sigh. “I’ll be off. I’ll be back over about 5:00 then.”

“Great. We’ll eat about 5:30, and then open presents and play a couple of games that David especially likes.”

“Sounds good,” he said and turned toward the door. He made himself walk out without saying anything else. What he wanted to do was just stay here right now and sit in the kitchen with Serenity while she cooked and prepared things for the party. He shook his head as he let the screen door close behind him. He had to get control of these thoughts and feelings. He was here to rest . . . and maybe think about a new direction for his life. He hadn’t let himself think about that possibility in such concrete terms until this week. But now . . . he was facing the fact that he just might not be able to go back to his position as county sheriff again. . . . Yeah . . . he had to keep his head clear . . . and his heart unattached . . . if he were going to make such a major decision this summer.

At 5:00, Noah came riding Moondancer along the beach to the lighthouse. Trent’s parents were just getting ready to leave after dropping him off, but Serenity encouraged them to stay and meet Noah. He dismounted, and when he did Serenity noticed a large wrapped package that was strapped behind him, and about that time David noticed it too. “Is that my present, Noah?” he said, his eyes getting big and bright as he walked up close to Moondancer to look closer at the package.

“That’s your present, but you can’t have it until your aunt says it’s time to open gifts.”

David motioned for Trent to come closer. “Look, Trent; look how big it is!”

Trent came close to Moondancer, looking mostly at the large white horse. He wasn’t exactly afraid, but he wasn’t used to horses either, and he just wasn’t quite sure how to take this one. Noah stepped up to him then. “Trent, let me introduce you to Moondancer,” he said, beginning to rub the horse’s neck soothingly. “He’s become one of David’s good friends the last few weeks.”

“I know,” Trent said, seeming to relax more as he stood close to Noah. “He told me all about how he met him. He said you let him ride everyday almost.”

“That’s right. And I’ll tell you what. If you want to, I think we could let you ride with David after supper. Do you think you’d like to?”

Trent looked up at the horse, and tentatively put out a hand to pat his neck. Moondancer looked toward the boy and made the soft blowing noise he always made when he was relaxed and in a good mood. Trent seemed to like that. Finally, he answered Noah. “Yeah, I think I’d like to ride . . . but only with David,” he added seriously.

“You got it, Partner,” Noah said, and looked toward David, who was still walking around eyeing the gift, trying to figure out what it was. “How does that sound to you, David?”

“Sounds fine,” he answered Noah and then looked at Trent. “You’ll love it, Trent. Remember how much fun I told you it is? Just wait until you try it.”

Noah spent a couple of minutes talking to Trent’s parents to make sure it was all right with them if he gave Trent a ride, and when they had assured him they were in favor of it, they returned to their car and started for home.

Serenity was getting the charcoal into the grill by then, and Noah insisted that he light the fire and do the grilling. So she acquiesced, turning her attention to carrying out the colorful table cloth and paper plates and arranging them on the picnic table. David and Trent decided they wanted to swim before they ate, so they both took off for the water.

David knew exactly how far it was safe for him to go in the surf, and he never disobeyed that restriction. Serenity was grateful for that, and for the fact that, surprisingly, for an only child, David was really a very obedient child over all. He had a period once in a while when he pushed a little hard to get to go somewhere or buy something, or stay up an extra hour to watch something on television, but Serenity had never seen any rebellion or even any pouting in him. Perhaps that fact was partly due to the terribly tragedy of losing his parents as such a young age. She often thought that enduring that loss had made David feel more appreciative of the family members he had left, and he wanted to please them.

Both boys had worked up quite an appetite by the time the food was ready, so after several hot dogs and plates full of chips, they both managed to put away two pieces of cake, with ice cream. When everyone was finished eating, Serenity rose and said, “Well, I guess it’s gift time.”

“Yeah!” David said, jumping up and clapping his hands.

“I’ll go get them,” Serenity said as she rose from the table. While she carried those gifts out, Noah went to get his off Moondancer, who had been tied to the old fence just behind the lighthouse. He told David to open all the other gifts first, which he did very quickly, enjoying each one of them. He got two new books, a CD of children’s worship songs, a new video Bible game, and a gift certificate to the local pizza restaurant for four pizza dinners. Then it was time for Noah’s gift.

He lugged it over and placed it on the bench of the picnic table in front of David, who didn’t waste any time ripping off the paper. “Wow! A saddle! A real saddle! Look, Aunt Sere, a real saddle!”

Serenity walked over closer to see the gift, her own mouth open a little in surprise. “Noah, that’s . . . well . . . I don’t know what to say.”

“You don’t say anything. David says, ‘thank you,’ and then he enjoys his gift,” he answered grinning at her. Then he turned back to David. “It’s a special-made saddle, just for someone your size, Dave. That way you can get your feet into the stirrups and ride the way you’re supposed to. It’s really safer that way, and since you’re getting good enough to ride alone a lot of times, I wanted you to have this.”

“Oh, thank you, Noah!” the boy said, flinging himself at Noah to give him a tight hug. “It’s . . . it’s . . . it’s stupendous!” he said, using the newest word he’d learned a couple of weeks ago.

“Well, shall we put it on and let you try it out?”

“Yes!” shouted David. “And then will Trent be able to ride with me too?’

“Oh, yeah. After you ride, we’ll put Trent up there in your new saddle, and we’ll let you get on behind him, since you’re the experienced rider.”

“Okay,” David said. “Come on, Trent,” he added, as he followed Noah to Moondancer. When Noah had changed saddles, the riding began, and didn’t come to an end until about an hour later. By that time, the boys had decided that instead of the games they had planned to play, they wanted to go inside and play the new video game, so Serenity, Clint and Noah sat out on the beach and talked.

Serenity tried twice to ask a question about Noah’s work as a sheriff, but he just refused to be drawn into that subject. He kept turning the conversation to something else, and finally, Serenity gave up, allowing the evening to come to an end without finding out any more about what was really troubling Noah Bennett about the past year of his life.


Look for Chapter Six here tomorrow.


Do You Need Prayer This Week?

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

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

radicalaboutjesus@gmail.com


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.


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)


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


Harvest Time


 

The fields are ripe for harvest.
Let’s be about our task
To spread the Lord’s great mercy
And love for all who’ll ask.

Let’s tell the world of Jesus
And how He took our sin.
How God’s granted forgiveness
To all because of Him.

Let’s concentrate on loving
The broken and the lost
And demonstrate with actions
God’s love at any cost.

Let’s pray the Lord of harvest
Touch hearts and draw them home.
The fields are ripe for harvest.
Even, so, Lord Jesus, come.


True North

COMPASS -- Efraim Stochter -- PX

 

In routine life on Planet Earth, there’s one rather ordinary looking piece of equipment that is used by thousands of people every day. It’s called a compass. Hikers, hunters, military personnel, navigators on ships and planes, and even  12-year-old boy scouts and girl scouts out on field trips use a compass as a normal part of their activities. Most of us have used one at some point in time, or at least played with one just to see how it works. Its job: to make geographical directions clear so that we can find our way safely and expeditiously from one point on this earth to another.

But that compass will not help us — it will, in fact, lead us the wrong way and get us into trouble — it is fails to point its arrow accurately to the North. It it’s off just a tiny bit, it can cause us to go miles in the wrong direction and totally miss our destination. That compass must point its arrow to TRUE NORTH, or it does us no good at all.

Now for individual journeys from one geographical place to another, any average compass in good working order is good enough. But what about our life-long journey — our time from birth to death — when we make our way along the road of life with all its twists and turns and possible detours? What provides our source of accurate directions for that journey?  Well, there’s only One who knows for sure how to navigate that life path successfully and wind up at the right places at the right times — as well as how to wind up in the right place at the end of the journey — and that person is our Creator — the One who made us to live this life in the first place.

We hear people today talk about how different people have different “moral compasses”  — to each his own — everyone lives by his own standards. But the truth is that all moral compasses that don’t point to Jesus Christ are extremely faulty and will lead the followers into trouble — and eventually into destruction.

Jesus Christ is the only TRUE NORTH. If our life compass focuses on Him, we will be able to stay on course — with joyful results. It if does not point to Him, we’re lost — in more ways than one.

I hear people say things like this: “Well, there are people who do good an live right in this world who aren’t Christians.” And i agree that I know some people who love their families and who try to live by rules that are, for the most part, kind. But the fact is that the only reason those people act as positively as they do is that they’ve been taught the basic rules of God’s Word.

Now they may not recognize those words as coming from the Bible. And they may not have learned them in a church. But they were influenced by others — even by the laws of the land — to understand a lot about what’s right and wrong. Every law of the land in any nation that protects people and guides them to act in ways that avoid hurting someone else came originally from the plans for living right laid out in God’s original law.

The truth is that the only foundation any society — indeed any human being from Adam and Eve down — has for determining what’s right and wrong is God’s Word. That’s why God gave the original ten commandments: so man would know what was good and what was evil. And all the civilized nations in the word have laws that follow those ten commandments. No human being came up with those ideas on his own. His Creator taught him right and wrong.

Why did the Creator need to teach man? Because the only good there is in the universe is in God Himself and what proceeds out of Him.

Let me say that again: There is no good in this world except what proceeds out of God. Man is born sinful — selfish, self-centered, and out for himself alone. Prove it you say? Look at any little baby. He wants his needs met, and when they’re not met, he cries — and cries — and cries — until Mom and Dad stop whatever else they are doing and give baby whatever it is he wants.  And as a child grows, he knows to focus on his own needs and wants without being taught. His wants come first.

Most parents — if they are responsible in their child rearing — begin teaching their children about kindness and consideration for others at an early age. But those things have to be taught. They never come naturally to any human being. Goodness, kindness, and generosity are learned behavior — coming either from instruction or environmental influence. There is no inherent good in any human being when left on his own.

The Word of God says it simply and succinctly when it says, “There is none good but God.” (Luke 18:19) and “There is none righteous, no not one” (Romans 3:10 and “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23).  There is no inherent good in any human being when left on his own.  He must receive his goodness from God.

Now, living on this earth in the right environment may help some people soak up understanding of some of that goodness. And they may exert some effort to make it active in their lives. Anyone who gets out in the rain gets wet. Anyone who gets out in the sun gets warm. But those conditions are superficial and temporary. So, in the same manner, anyone who is reared and nurtured in an environment of good, loving ways will, no doubt, soak up some of that attitude and that philosophy of life — and its accompanying behavior.

But as with the sun and the rain, those things are superficial and temporary. They will carry that person only so far and for only so long. He will ultimately fail in his morality and goodness. I have lived 72 years on this earth and been actively involved with thousands of people from all over the world, and I have yet to see an exception to this rule. Nor do I know any other people who have come across an exception. No human being other than Jesus Christ has ever lived without failing in morality and goodness. Until we receive Jesus Christ and put Him in control, everyone of us fails to live up to the goodness of God — the goodness required to be fit to live with Him for eternity.

The only good we know and do apart from Jesus is what we acquired by osmosis because God’s goodness managed to penetrate our soul a little. But without our spirit being born again by the entrance of Jesus Christ, that “goodness” is nothing but a garment we wear. What’s inside will eventually come to the forefront. And, yes, I realize I am repeating myself here, but with good reason. My experience with humanity has taught me that very few people can capture and hold onto a new concept the first time they hear it. And, for many people reading this article, the concept I’m sharing is new indeed. So explaining the same truth again — and in slightly different terms — is a safeguard and an insurance that more people will grasp this truth and let it help them move forward to what they need.

The exciting part of this truth is that once Jesus is allowed to come in and take control, His own righteousness is transferred into our being. At that point, we aren’t just trying to be good and do good because of some training that will eventually fail us. No. Jesus gives us His own inherent goodness and holiness. It becomes who we are because He has become the controller of who we are. We are one with Him.

And since He alone is TRUTH (John 1:17; John 14:6), He provides the infallible compass for our life from that point through all eternity. Do our souls and bodies sometimes fail to measure up? Yes, but Jesus, our unerring compass, lovingly points us back to the right direction, and the wrong steps we took gets corrected so that we don’t ever get completely off course again.

Jesus Christ is our TRUE NORTH. If you haven’t yet made Him the compass of your life, right now is the best time to do it. No matter how far off course you are at present, if you’ll turn your life over to Him, you will immediately see where “True North” is, and you’ll never have to worry about being lost again on this journey through life. Not only that, you’re guaranteed to wind up at the destination you were always intended to reach — in this life on earth and for eternity.


photo credit: Efraim Stochter (MW) @ pixabay.com



 

There Is A Cure

The truth of Jesus Christ’s complete redemption can be told in any form. In this post I’ve set God’s truth into Cinquain — one of my favorite poetic forms.


SATAN CAST DOWN - GOLD LARGER

Virus:
To lots of folks
It is a scary word.
But there’s a name that can kill it:
Jesus!

Disease
By any name.
Must bow to Jesus’ name.
His sacrifice redeemed us from
Disease.

Have faith.
Get in His Word:
He says it’s medicine
For every ailment we can face.
Trust Him.

(Scripture References: Acts 3:16, Philippians 2:9-10, Galatians 3:13-14, Proverbs 4:20-22, and Psalm 107:17-20)

 



 

Lenten Poems — week 3

CRUCIFIX - FOR YOU - GOSPEL GIFS

SUFFICIENT

Seized and stripped and slapped and spit upon,
Scornful salutations; sorrow; shame;
Satan stalks the Son of God and Son of Man
Scarlet stripes, scalding tears, searing pain;

Search the scriptures, surely they the story tell:
Insatiable evil strikes; the Lamb is slain.

But surely, it’s my sins He bore, my sorrow and shame,
My sickness, my distress, my grief, my pain.

Submitted Sacrifice: He sealed the promise;
Sufficient, He bought me peace with God again.

 

 

 


 

Christmas Light

WHITE CHRISTMAS TREE MODERN LIGHTS 2 - Ana_J - PX

 

Oh Christmas tree, oh geometric Christmas tree,
Updated decoration of this century,
Combining old tradition with technology —
Eye-catching combination set for all to see.

I wonder if the architect has realized
That though his modern concept is a structural prize,
The Light that gives it meaning appeared to Moses’ eyes.
From burning bush to modern tree, it’s Jesus Christ.

 


photo courtesy of Ana_J @ pixabay

 

 

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