Kill The Indian Monday, Jun 28 2010 

In the late 1800’s the United States government was faced with the issue of how to deal with the Native American.  It was a perplexing problem.

First of all there were many different tribes.  Then there was the distances and areas where the tribes lived.  Mostly there was the issue of war.  The native American was a formidable warrior!  If the Indian tribes had joined forces and fought the U.S. military as a coalition, who knows the outcome?

History tells us the Indian did not join other tribes to resist and consequently, the tribes were slowly methodically eliminated.

Their story is a long, brutal, heart wrenching story.  It is a sad epilogue on our government that they made promises and then broke those promises many many times.

If you have never read the story of the Nez Perce, it would be my recommendation to add it to your to do list of reading.  It is the story of Chief Joseph leading his people 800 miles to attempt to escape to Canada.  The Nez Perce chiefs astounded the Calvary over and over with their tactics.  They used brilliant manuvers like the best trained generals of the world.

Eventually Chief Joseph and his survivors were brought to bay, and his surrender speech is still a classic today.  You can google it and read it.  It will make you weep!

As the government wrestled with the problem of resettling the Indian, and signing treaties, a speech was given in Denver in 1892.  Captain Richard Pratt spoke and in his speech he made a statement that has entered into American lore.  He declared…

“A great general has said that the only good Indian is a dead one, and the high sanction of his destruction has been an enormous factor in promoting Indian massacres.  In a sense I agree with the sentiment, but only in this: that all the Indian there is in the race should be dead.  Kill the Indian in him, and save the man.”

There began an effort to change the Indian into a white man.  He was forced to no longer speak his native tongue.  He was forced to change his appearance to look like his white captors. It was an all out effort to kill the Indian, but save the man.

John 10.10 says our enemy is determined to steal, kill and destroy.  It is my opinion that Satan wants to kill the Apostolic, but save the christian.

Satan wants us to change our Apostolic appearance to look like the christians around us.  His desire is we become what everyone else is.

Satan desires that we surrender our Apostolic worship and adopt the more calm, respected ways of other churches.

Satan desires that we surrender our Apostolic doctrine of Acts 2.38 so we can live peacefully with those of differing views.

Satan desires to kill the Apostolic, but save the christian.

Just for the record, there is a small band of Apostolics in the Northwest corner of the United States that have decided we will not surrender!

We will not surrender our Apostolic appearance.  We will not surrender our Apostolic worship.  We will not surrender our Apostolic doctrine.

Like Chief Joseph, we have no desire to fight and war, but when Satan attempts to take away our identity, we have decided we will fight.

Thanks for reading today!

The 67th Book Of The Bible Saturday, Jun 12 2010 

“There is an earthquake in your mouth”   Acts 16.16-26
When God decides to use you – it is always after he tries you.
Greatness is chosen out of the furnace of affliction and adversity.
Find somebody mightily used of God – somewhere they have been broken – they may look humble – but they can fight or they wouldn’t be where they are.
We are broken in private – it is lonely – no one really understands.  We want people to understand our woundings and hurtings – God wants a vessel for oil to flow through.  (His love is perfect & unknowable)
They that live godly shall suffer persecution.  We have almost made people believe if you have great faith – you won’t go through anything – that’s not true.  No one is exempt from pain.
In the text, Paul and Silas got in a prison.  From prominence to prison.  God is sovereign. He can bless you in a mess.
Some of the most wretched ungodly people make the best christians.  Nothing worse than a bunch of goody two shoe christians who brag about what the haven’t done.
Some folks are just so glad to be saved.  They’ve been through so much, they have hurt so long, they’ve wept so many nights, they’ve suffered and wrestled with anger and sin and violence.  They’ve been victimized and abused, mistreated, some have been molested and ostracized.  They are full of guilt – then they hear about the blood of Jesus that washes them and gives them a 2nd chance.
While you argue over who’s gonna get this position, who’s got the biggest church, who’s the greatest preacher, who can hit the highest note, they are just so glad to be saved, don’t care if they ever get called on – just glad to be washed in the blood!
When you start doing things for God you are gonna run into opposition.  Paul and Silas got on the enemies hit list by doing the will of God.  They had fooled around and delivered a witch, broke a yoke, and put some evil men out of business – that’s what good church do – they shut down some things.
We need to shut some things down.  Quit being so nice – Paul just shut it down – didn’t ask anybody – Don’t let anybody tell you that doing the will of God won’t get you in trouble – it will.
I have learned from personal experience, you can be right and be treated wrong.  Be criticized – doing right, be lied on – can’t even defend yourself.  You can be victimized and have to hold your peace – can’t say nothing – just have wait on the Lord to straighten it out.  You can suffer many days – God does nothing – he lets you suffer.
God moved Paul’s ministry into the prison where he was treated like an animal, stripped and beaten.
Paul had had a bad day.
There are all kinds of prisons.  Sometimes you can’t even explain your prison – people make assumptions – yak, yak, yak (like Job’s friends!)
I came to tell you – God is gonna get glory out of the worst circumstances of your life.
You need to tell someone – something good is gonna come out of this – it hurts, I’m crying, I’m in trouble – I’m not in this for nothing.
Without trials – You only have a theory.

You are only looking in the window – you can get in a prison and not know how you got there!  When you get there you’ll learn how to pray!  You won’t need books or tapes or seminars.  People talking about you like a dog – you will pray!  (When you hurt bad enough)
Learn to say with me – Glad for the Bad – it made me pray!
Some of you have resented your problems – they made you – you have to take a lickin’ and keep on tickin’ – nobody helped me – but check it out I’m still here!  I’m tougher than I look. I’m a survivor!
Tell yourself about your friends – Thank you for not helping me – or I’d have had to praise you – but I had to pray – now I praise Him (I think I’ll praise Him for things I can’t testify about) (The victim – perpetrator)
Ez. 3.10-15…Ezekiel
I was hot, wroth.  God said sit where they lay sat – you must sit where they sit.  Put your books up and sit where I sat – 7 days.  I was astonished.  He lived as a captive.  He visited the jailhouse.
I’ve spent some nights in a prison and I wanted out, but, can’t think or figure or budget my way out – I was in prison.  Did not know how to get out.
God did not deliver us from on high – He came through 42 generations, into a dressing room called Mary’s womb wrapped himself in flesh and for 33 years sat where we sat!  Touched by the feelings of our infirmities.  Tempted in all points.  Sat where we sat!  (He feels what I feel)
God is not into child abuse – you are coming out of your trouble! God is gonna get a lot of glory from your pain.  God will reverse your trouble and pain.
The bible says the enemy must pay you back double for every night you cried and suffered, every injury.  Is. 61.7
Paul and Silas went from notoriety to obscurity – why??  Someone beating your child and you don’t stop them?  God suffered it for greater glory.
When people see what you have been through they are going to believe in God!  They have seen God’s power in you.  Tell yourself I am a testimony. I haven’t lost my mind, haven’t thrown in the towel, I’m in church – I am a testimony to the power of God.
You are the 67th book of the Bible. People are gonna read you and believe in God.
I don’t have to argue with you if Jesus is real: look at meIf He wasn’t real I wouldn’t be here!
Paul – the man of faith, power – epistle writer, beaten – stripped – sitting where they sat.  When he went in there was no singing.  Sometimes you can’t sing – I told myself I’d never go through this and here I am in it.  No shouting – they beat him, took all day late into the night.
God – I thought you loved me – Here I am bound.  I’m doing my best.  No deliverance – no escape no release – torment, suffering – God where are you – they are gonna kill me –I thought I’d be out of this by now.

God doesn’t even clear his throat.  You did it for Peter in Acts 12, why not for me?
No wind, no earthquake, no apostles pleading his case.  Where are the people I helped and blessed? Where are they? Where are my “friends”?  God why am I in this situation.
I might not even get out, but since I’m in this jam, I might as well learn how to survive.
I don’t see anything to be happy about I don’t feel happy. No cards, no letters, no good news.
But at midnight – I’m gonna think myself happy – whatsoever is good, pure, lovely, if there be any virtue, and praise and at Midnight.
In somebody’s life it is midnight.  You have been depressed, ostracized, criticized.  You have thought about giving up, throwing in the towel – now it’s 11:59 – you might as well praise God.  Open your mouth and cause an earthquake.
I will bless the Lord at all times – his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
Even in bad times, I’m a single parent, I’m divorced, been mistreated, and misunderstood – but I’m gonna praise Him.  I’ve had some pain and I’ve had some scars but I will bless the Lord.  I’m a disciplined soldier!!
It’s midnight – it’s time to praise Him.
Time to get out of your prison.  Now or never!
There’s an earthquake in your mouth – open it up and praise him!  Give God praise!

You’ve gotta change your attitude while your are in the prison – then God delivers you.
You could have been out a long time ago – your deliverance is in your mouth – stop murmuring, complaining and feeling sorry for your self – stop blaming other people – throw back your head and praise God!!
Somebody needs to say – I’m coming out of this.  Excuse me – I’m coming out.  I’ve been in this long enough – I’m coming out!
C’mon survivor – get out right now!
When you get loose – everything in the prison gets set free, everything around you, connected to you – family, friends –
Devil I’m mad – you should have never let me get in the prison – cause now I’m not coming out alone I’m bringing everything out with me.
If you praise him – no prison can hold you!
Thanks for reading today!

Bara, the divine fiat of creation. Tuesday, Jun 1 2010 

In the beginning, God created.

There is great debate about how long the creative process was.  There are advocates for each creative day being 7,000 years long.  There are others who contend for each day being 1,000 years long.  Finally there are some who say no, each day was a 24-hour period.

Regardless of which position you take, as a Christian I certainly hope you take the position that God created all things.  Christians do not embrace evolution in any form.  We reject it wholesale!

Creation is one of the bedrocks of Christianity!  It is impossible to believe in God and not believe in creation.

In the act of creation Almighty God did many wonderful things.  The Hebrew word used in creation is bara.  This word means to create by divine fiat.  It signals that God had no help and no material to work with! (Fiat: origin: 1384, from fiat lux, “let there be light” in Genesis)

God did not remake, or re-design.  Almighty God stepped out on nothing in the inky blackness of eternity and simply spoke!

God created out of darkness!  When there was not so much as an angel’s wing disturbing the air, when there was nothing but God himself, God spoke.  There was no light but God himself!

One of the attributes of God that is His essence, is light.  John tells us that God is light.  It is what He is and who He is.

God opened his mouth and said, let there be light.  Suddenly all of creation blazed with blinding brilliant light.  Suns appeared, and stars spangled the night sky.  It happened in a nano second.

The speed of light was created by God in His original word and still confounds man today!  Every thing astronomers measure they measure by the first word out of God’s mouth!

God created light at the speed of light, and light maintains that speed today.

Is there darkness in your life right now?

Fear not! God is the same yesterday, today, and forever!  He can create light in your dark world by His divine fiat!  He longs to speak light into your world.

God also created from deadness.  When God opened His mouth and spoke there was no life anywhere.  When God spoke, when God Bara-ed, the amazing world of flora and fauna sprang for.

The incredible world of flowers, and birds, oceans, quasars, animals, and ultimately man sprang forth with prodigiality.  It staggers our finite mind at the completeness of creation.

Every form of life on earth today sprang from deadness. There was no life!

Does your life feel dead and pointless?

Take courage, in one word God can and will speak life into your deadness and things will spring forth!  People will be amazed at the abundance of your life, because of your God!

God created from chaos and disorder!  When God finished days one through three, He then repeats the cycle, and perfects on days four through six what He had created on days one through three.

When light was undefined, God created the sun, moon, and stars.  When the atmosphere above was empty and unpopulated, God created every bird of the air and every fish of the sea. When the dry land was uninhabited God made every beast, creature, and Man.

Don’t despair when your world seems like everything is disconnected and in pieces! Wait on God.  God will complete the work He began in your life.

Because our God is the same yesterday, today and forever, He still creates by divine fiat!  If you are in darkness, or in deadness, or in disorder, take heart!  He will create things in you and in your life that will astound the experts.

They will look at you and shake their learned heads and wonder how in the world did this ever come to pass!

Thanks for reading today!

You can live for God anywhere! Thursday, May 20 2010 

You can live for  God anywhere!

He lived in the bulls-eye center of one of the worst times of history. Every man was doing that which was right in his own eyes!  There was no King in Israel.

Less than 10 miles from his ancestral home where he still lived, idolatry had just been introduced to Israel.

Idolatry would dominate every facet of Israeli life for the next one thousand years.  It would take a seventy year exile in Babylon to purge the southern nation, and a permanent exile of the northern kingdom to finally get rid of idolatry.

He was there to see the birth of Idolatry!

About five miles from his home one of the tribes had just forced a priest to become the priest of their tribe. They were dissatisfied with their land along the coast, and their tribe was looking to expand their boundaries beyond what God had allocated their tribe.

He had a ring side seat to watch a tribe lose its place forever in Israel. Dan’s heritage disappeared before his eyes.

He was right in the midst of a controversy that eventually cost the nation 65,000 fighting men.  He saw the results of infighting among tribes and saw the results.

He saw the grisly piece of evidence sent to his tribe and was close enough to hear the battle cries over three days that finally left only four hundred men to the tribe of Benjamin. To see a piece of a mutilated woman and the war that erupted among the people of God was no small issue!

Yet through it all he stayed true to the word of God!  When others had no regard for the law, he lived by every letter down to the smallest detail.

The world around him was going to hell in a hand basket, but he never flinched!

Let others fight among themselves.  Let others worship idols.  Let others lose their inheritance.  It never touched him!

If the law said take off your sandal and meet the near kinsman in the gate, that is exactly what he would do!

If the law said another man had first claim to the woman he was interested in, he would honor and defer to the law!

He stands as a silent sentinel to those who make up their mind no matter what others do, I will live by the word of God!

He is a testimony against every excuse maker, and compromiser that says everybody is doing it.

While his nation fell to idolatry, killed itself off, and gave away their inheritance, he stayed true to the law of God!

Is it any wonder his great grandson became the greatest King Israel ever had?

Thank you Boaz, and thanks for reading today!

When Justice Was For Sale To The Highest Bidder Monday, May 17 2010 

It was the most prosperous time in their history.

Money was flowing.

The Northern Kingdom of Israel was being led by the dynamic and charismatic Jeroboam II.

Jeroboam had waged successful war against Israel’s hostile neighbors and won control of the trade routes that poured wealth into Samaria.

The land was fertile, the rains fell, and the bumper crops swelled their barns and their bank accounts.  It was a golden age.  Public buildings were being built.  Private residences were large and expensive.  The public worship was now ostentatious and full of pomp.

The rich landowners with total disregard for God’s law,  built great personal estates.  They did so at the cost of dispossessing their poor neighbors.  The poor were further treated badly by the greedy merchants who used unjust weights to buy and sell grain.  These dishonest merchants mixed husks with barley kernels.

More and more of the people were being forced to sell themselves and their children into slavery.

Justice was for sale to the highest bidder!

The wives of the rich demanded more and more luxuries.  No one seemed to give a thought to those who were cheated to pay the tab of the greedy.

No one that is except God!

Ten miles south of Jerusalem, a poor farmer heard an inner voice speak to him.  He was of the poorest part of society.  He dealt in Sycamore figs.  The modern equivalent of someone who gathers cans along the roadside to get money.

His name was Amos.  He left Tekoa to challenge the greatest nation on earth at the zenith of it’s wealth and power.

Has there ever been men like those prophets of old?  Fearless men who gave account to no one but God!

When that poor country boy walked into Bethel, don’t you know his eyes were wide?  No doubt his mouth was hanging open.  He had never seen anything like this in the poor region he lived in.

He walked the streets and saw the luxurious homes of the wealthy.  He saw the opulence of the rich and famous.  He observed women reclining on ivory inlaid couches, feasting on meats and drinking exotic wines while they listened to the lastest popular music groups (Amos 4.1, 6.4-6).

He saw a nation that was hardened by selfishness and greed.  He  spoke to them about the need for their hearts to be touched with the needs of the poor and oppressed.

Does any of this sound familiar?

Does God still care about injustice?

Is Justice for sale to the highest bidder in your life?

Thanks for reading today.

The Ugly Christian Wednesday, May 12 2010 

Many years ago when I was in High School I was required to read a book for English class.  It was called “The Ugly American”.

You never know when you pick up a book how it will impact your life.  I was not prepared for the effect that one book would have on my walk with God.

The book is a satire written by some former State Department men who evidently disagreed with the government’s policy of dealing with the growing communism threat globally.

Back then, we were in what was called a “Cold War.”  It was not open conflict with Russia, but rather Democracy and Communism both trying to sway countries to follow their example.

The feeling at the time on the news and in the press was that the whole world would go one-way or the other.

The book is about an engineer that was independently wealthy and decided to go to Asia and attempt to educate the people there and better their lives.

It called “The Ugly American” because the engineer is a large ugly gangly man.  All his life he has been conscious of his appearance.

When he helps the people there with simple projects he is no longer ugly, but is in fact very beautiful to them.  He shows them how to use bicycle parts to irrigate their crops and saves them backbreaking labor they have practiced for years.

The authors illustrate how the communists live among the natives but the Americans live in ivory towers.  Their criticism of American policy and technique are very glaring.

The part of the book that grabbed me over forty years ago was about the engineer’s wife.  While her husband was working with the native people she decided to try an experiment on her own.

It involved a broom.  She observed the old people of the village had bent backs.  She thought it might be from using short handled brooms.  She was sure they would not take any advice from an outsider so she put her plan in action.

She went out into the jungle and found some long reeds and cut some down.  She then made a handle for her broom from one of the long reeds.

As she swept her porch, some of the elderly people came and watched her.  Then the old man asked her about the reed. She said he could have one of hers but they could go into the jungle and get as many as they needed on one water buffalo.

What followed in the book is what influenced my life for the last forty years.  This is what happened.

And it was not until four years later, when Emma was back in Pittsburg, that she learned the final results of her broom handle project.  One day she got a letter in a large handsome yellow-bamboo paper envelope. Inside, written in an exquisite script, was a letter from the headman of Chang Dong.

Wife of the engineer:

I am writing you to thank you for a thing that you did for the old people of Chang Dong.  For many centuries, longer than any man can remember, we have always had old people with bent backs in this village.  And in every village that we know of the old people have always had bent backs.

We had always thought this was part of growing old, and it was one of the reasons we dreaded old age.  But, wife of the engineer, you have changed all that.  By the lucky accident of your long handled broom you showed us a new way to sweep.  It is a small thing, but it has changed the lives of our old people. For four years, ever since you have left, we have been using the long reeds for broom handles.  You will be happy to know that today there are few bent backs in the village of Chang Dong.  Today the backs of our old people are straight and firm.  No longer are their bodies painful during the months of the monsoon.

This is a small thing, I know, but for our people it is an important thing.

I know you are not of our religion, wife of the engineer, but perhaps you will be pleased to know that on the outskirts of the village we have constructed a small shrine in your memory.  It is a simple affair; at the foot of the altar are these words.  ”In memory of the woman who unbent the backs of our people.”  In front of the shrine there is a stack of the old short reeds which we used to use.

Again, wife of the engineer, we thank you and we think of you.

For me as a seventeen-year-old boy, my life purpose suddenly became clear.  No matter what else life demanded, my first purpose was to live in a manner that people could see a better way.

I have not always succeeded, but I have always striven.

May God help us all to unbend the backs of the people we live around.  When you make their life better you will never be ugly.  They will not care if a woman has long hair and no cosmetics.  When their back no longer hurts, you will be beautiful!

There should never be an ugly Christian!

Thanks for reading today!

The Man In The Balcony Thursday, May 6 2010 

The Man in the Balcony.

Years ago I heard a story that I have used for sermons at times.  It touched me deeply so I thought I’d share it with you today.

It happened in a small Midwest town, in a rural area.

A music teacher had a young student brought in for the first lesson by a hopeful parent.

By the second lesson the old music teacher was pretty sure.  By the third and fourth lesson all hesitation was gone.  It was a fact.

The music teacher had a prodigy on his hands.  This young man was a rare talent that only comes along once in a lifetime if that.  The old teacher was wise enough to see it and appreciate it.

He determined to give it his best and then pass on the young prodigy to those who would continue and eventually finish the training of this talented young man.

The first few years of the young musicians life were carefully nurtured by the wise music teacher.  The teacher saw and knew even more than the student the potential of this young man.

Finally the day came for the prodigy to move on and accept scholarships at prestigious schools.  The old teacher followed his now famous student, as the student’s career became the stage of the world.

At a very early age the student was world famous.  He had now played all the major venues of the world.  He had played London, Paris, Vienna, Berlin, Moscow, and Amsterdam.  The entire European theatre had been played to sell out crowds!

Then came the American tour, New York and Madison Square Garden, Chicago, Carnegie Hall, Washington D. C., Los Angeles, Seattle.

The musician’s fame now reached around the Globe.  A tour to the Far East was the next stop.  Next up were Tokyo, Singapore, Seoul, and Beijing.

The musician decided he wanted to go back and do a concert for his hometown.  He wanted to recognize the humble beginnings of his childhood.  The arrangements were made.

An auditorium was arranged in the small community where he hailed from.  The night was set.  He walked out on stage to a crowded auditorium and just the grand piano on the stage.

The applause was loud as he made his debut.  As he smiled and looked around he looked up in the balcony and there was only one person there.  Although his hair was now white with age, the musician recognized his old music teacher, and joy filled his heart.  He decided tonight would be his finest performance!

He played that night like a man possessed.  When he finished he received a standing ovation from the crowd.  When he looked at the man in the balcony, there was no response.  The old teacher just sat there with his arms folded.  The musician frowned!

The musician made a decision.  He wanted his old music teacher’s approval so he decided to play it again, and do it even better.  He announced to the crowd that it was unusual, but he was going to play it again.  They cheered.

This time there was no doubt.  He had never played it better any where in the world!  He was tired and sweat ran down his face.  As he stood the crowd was ecstatic.  Cheers and applause filled the auditorium!

When he lifted his eyes he couldn’t believe it.  The old teacher still sat unmoved with arms folded.

The musician took a deep breath and announced he was going to play it one final time!  Silence filled the auditorium.  He walked to the piano and sat down.  He began.

This time there was nothing in the world but him and his instrument.  He became one with the piano.  The crowd was forgotten.  He was lost in pouring himself completely into a lifetime of effort and practice.

He barely noticed when he finished.  He sat limp on the piano bench.  He was drenched with sweat.

He stood on shaky legs and bowed to the audience, who could not give enough cheers, shouts and whistles.

Before he lifted his head to see what his old teacher would do, he looked inside himself.  He knew he could not play better.  He had given everything he had.  It was his best performance of his life.

As he lifted his eyes, he saw the old teacher smile.  Then slowly the old teacher stood and began to clap his hands in acknowledgement of the best performance his prodigy had ever given.

You see, the crowd could not discern the difference between a good performance, a great performance, and a once in a lifetime performance, but the man in the balcony could.

The musician had more in him and the old teacher knew it.  He demanded the best the musician could give to be satisfied.

Some day we will appear before the man in the balcony.  Believe me He will know if we have done our best!

It is not the applause and acclaim of the crowd that will matter at that day.

What will matter is when the man in the balcony says well done thou good and faithful servant!

Have you given your best performance?

Thanks for reading today!

How will YOU die? Tuesday, Apr 27 2010 

How will YOU die?

He was cold! He was way beyond the kind of temporary cold that gives you shivers.  The cold he felt was way down in his bones, and had been there for weeks.  He wished for the thousandth time for the cloak he left in Troas.  Life would be easier when Timothy arrived with the books and parchments.

Six feet away, across his cell was a large rat.  They eyed each other with measured tolerance.  He had long tired of trying to make the rat leave for good.  The rat always came back.  It was no longer worth the effort to accost the rat.  He and the rat certainly weren’t friends, but they had learned to co-exist.

He reached over and picked up his writing instrument and parchment. The voice inside him told him to write.  So he dipped his quill in the borrowed ink, and began.

As he formulated the words that were appearing in his mind, another part of his mind began to go back over the years…..

He smiled as he remembered that day on the road.  It seemed like just yesterday.  Then there was the time in Arabia.  The years began to unfold like a novel, like a slow motion reel.

He drifted back through the years, the cities, the trials, the beatings, and the stonings.  Once again he asked himself if he had done all his master had asked of him.  He honestly could not see any way it could have turned out differently.

The other part of his mind returned back to the parchment, and he began.

For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course.  I have kept the faith.  Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness….

He finished the final words of his last letter. He was well aware he would never again pen another syllable.

He heard the jingle of keys. Marcus came into view.  Marcus was his most recent convert, albeit secretly.  He said to Marcus,”It’s okay, I understand.”  Tears began a slow roll down Marcus’ cheeks.

He rose, straightened, and started for the door, and noticed the rat seemed to be smirking.

The stairs seemed steeper than he remembered.  The light of day was blinding.  He had lost count of the days in the underground cell.  Slowly he looked around.  Spring had arrived, his last spring of his 67 years.

He saw the executioner waiting.  How far?  Maybe a hundred steps?  He started the final one hundred steps of his earthly journey.   He drew up at the chopping block.

With one long last look around the Appian Way, and a smile for Marcus tear stained face, he knelt and placed his head on the block.  The Roman official placed a check next to his name on the slate and nodded to the ax man.

In one slow movement, while heaven held it’s breath, the ax was raised. It paused for a fraction of a second, then in blinding speed arched downward.  His head, severed from his body rolled over the edge of the block and dropped to the ground and rolled twice.  Unseeing eyes on mortal earth stared upward.

In the immeasurable moment when head and body were separated, his spirit was free.  He was free of the hardships, free of the privation.  He was free and approaching the gates.

The gate was also about one hundred steps.  He could see the crowds cheering.  It was that great cloud of witnesses he had written about in his letter to the Hebrews.

They were all there.  Some were from the highlands of Galatia, others from the sea coasts of Macedonia.  There were some from Caesars’ household, and some converted rulers of the synagogue.

They were waiting, cheering, and welcoming him home.

And then there was Jesus for the first time.

He never quite remembers those last few steps, he only remembers falling at Jesus feet.  And the words, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”

So Paul, the Christian sage of the ages died.

How will YOU die?

Will you be bitter?

Will you have regrets?

In the prison, Paul called himself “The prisoner of the Lord.” He knew that no mere, mortal Caesar could imprison an apostle without his master’s assent.

Do you see your prison as approved by the master?

How will YOU die?

Thanks for reading today!

The Spider Web Monday, Apr 26 2010 

The Spider Web.

All of life is like a spider's web!

Reading Brother Ballestero’s blog today brought to my mind a portion of a book by Robert Penn Warren.  The title is All the King’s Men.  It is considered an American classic, rated the 36th greatest novel of the 20th century.

It is really written about a famous Louisiana politician who became governor of Louisiana and then a United States Senator. He was killed on the steps of the State Capitol in Baton Rouge, at the age of 42. His name was Huey Long.

In the book there is a young man who becomes his assistant.  On several occasions there is a philosophical diatribe on life and it’s long-range effects. On one such occasion the subject is the spider web. The young man’s name is Jack.

Jack is informed that all of life is like a spider web.  It stretches out and sometimes appears empty.  But just one touch and the entire web reverberates and begins to hum.  The spider feels it and out she comes to claim her victim.

It is an excellent analogy.  Life is interlaced and every act and deed we do sends the vibrations out through our life and those we touch.  None of us are an island to our self.

The sad tragedy of the book illustrates the spider web effect.  Jack is told by the man running for governor, Willie Stark, to find something in the life of another man to ruin him.  That man is a judge who has been like a father to Jack all his life.

Jack asks what if there is nothing on the Judge? Stark says there is always something!  So Jack digs in the Judge’s past until he finds something.  When Jack goes to the Judge and presents his evidence that the Judge took a bribe, he thinks it is over and done with.

Little does he know he touched the spider web!

Soon after in the book, Jack is at his mother’s house and the telephone rings.  He hears his mother begin to scream.  He runs to see why, and she screams at him.  Well Jack, you finally did it, didn’t you?  You just had to do it didn’t you?  She says Judge Irwin just committed suicide!

You just killed you own father Jack!

Jack had never known who his father was.  The Judge had always treated him like a son.  Jack was stunned!  He touched the spider web, it hummed, and the spider came out to claim her victim.

Life is indeed a spider web.

When you touch it, all of life is affected.

Thanks for reading today!

What are you afraid of? Saturday, Apr 24 2010 

SILENCE
  1. Everything great in history has arisen from silence … even great noise.
  2. Beethoven and Mozart closed themselves off from the world and inhabited silent rooms for days at a time in order to hear things that no one else could hear – sounds so glorious that they themselves would never hear in the midst of the world, and yet sounds that the world would never know if Beethoven and Mozart had not befriended silence.
  3. USA Today conducted a survey in which people were asked to name the ten things they feared the most.
  4. The most feared was death, and then flying.
  5. After flying … silence – followed closely by public speaking, dogs, snakes, and spiders.
  6. Why do we fear silence?
  7. Why do we avoid silence?
Just wondering today?

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