PRAYER OF COVERING Part 3-Ears and Eyes

Today I am grouping two sections into one: ears and eyes. They seem to go together naturally. What we look at and what we listen to can have a powerful impact on our lives for good or for evil. We do have the ability to choose what we see and hear to a great extent and so help to protect ourselves from negativity. The problem is that some of the bad stuff we have no control over, such as billboards or other public things that just pop up in our range of vision while we are out and about. And the same goes for what we hear when in public places. We cannot control what other people talk about or the kind of language they use. So we need the protection of the blood of Jesus to not only cleanse us but to protect us from those things making inroads into our souls and spirits.

I claim the protection of the blood of Jesus over my ears, physical and spiritual, that the voice of the enemy will not penetrate into my mind or inner being. I will be cautious today about what I listen to (see Mark 4:24). By Your grace I declare I will not pay any to or entertain any half-truths, insinuations, roaring, whisperings, suggestions or lies from the devil. I claim the cleansing power of the blood to cleanse me from anything from the enemy which I have, in the past, allowed to enter my ears. Block my ears today from receiving anything with which the devil would try to beguile me—amuse, deceive, distract, divert, mislead, occupy or cheat me—and give me ears to hear and a heart to receive everything that You, Lord, have to say to me (see Matthew 11:15).

I claim the protection of the blood of Jesus over my eyes, physical and spiritual. Keep me from looking at things not pleasing to You—ungodly television programs and ads; unholy e-mail or internet sites and videos; movies; magazines; books. Protect me from those things I cannot help but see in the natural as I go about my daily life. Keep the defilement from penetrating into my mind and my spirit. I claim the cleansing power of the blood to remove every trace of influence of those ungodly things which, uninvited, impose themselves on my eyes and ears as I move about in public places—drive or walk down the streets, go about duties at work or school, walk through the stores, sit in restaurants, doctors’ offices and elsewhere—and as I interact throughout the day with those people who hold mindsets and worldviews which differ from mine. Protect my spiritual eyes. Cause me to see Jesus always (see Hebrews 12:2) and to be aware of, sensitive and responsive to what You are doing, and what the enemy is attempting to do, in my life and the lives of those around me. Lord, grant me a new awakening and clarity of spiritual vision, because it is written that without it Your people will die (see Proverbs 29:18 KJV).

Let’s make a conscious, deliberate choice to take care what we look at and what we listen to in our own homes, and to make good choices as to where we go in public places to lessen, when possible, the potential of seeing and hearing that which would contaminate our souls. As I said before, there are places we have to go where we have no choice but to be there. This is a good prayer to pray for our own protection and the protection of our families when there is no other option, such as work, school, doctors’ offices, stores and the like. Let’s do all we can to keep ourselves pure in the Lord. Let us fill our eyes and ears with good things so there is less room for anything else.

I hope you have enjoyed Part 3 of my series on Prayer for Covering. If you have not read the first two parts, click on Prayer for Covering for Part 1, and click here for Part 2. Just a reminder that this book is not yet published.

Thank you so much for taking the time to visit and read my post. I would really like to know your thoughts on this and would appreciate it if you would leave a comment in the box below before you leave. Also, if you are not already following me, please take a moment to click on the “Follow” button above to receive e-mail updates of new posts. Have a wonderful day. May God bless you and yours.

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PRAYER COVERING Part 2-The Heart

If you have not read the beginning of this prayer, click here before reading Part 2. This section concerns the covering of our hearts. Our hearts are very vulnerable, and can be easily wounded. Those wounds can take a long time to heal, and they often leave scars. People with wounded hearts often act out of their pain to wound others. We have to care for our hearts and keep them under the cover of the blood so they do not become hardened. We need hearts that are soft and malleable so the Holy Spirit can shape us and change us into the image of Jesus Christ.

It is Written new front cover #11_page-0001 (1)I claim the protection of the blood of Jesus over my heart. Let the things on which my heart ponders today be acceptable to You, Lord (see Psalm 19:14). Melt every last vestige of hardness and coldness in my heart with Your love until my heart becomes a deep, deep well of Your love ever flowing from me, and until my life pours out to You in continual worship. Lord, I want to know the overwhelming presence of Your love ruling in my heart. I do not just want to talk about it, hear about it, read about it or imagine it, but I want to daily experience it personally filling me every moment, and overflowing continuously out of my heart and life back to You and out to others. I do not ask You to enlarge my heart, Lord, but to enlarge Your place in my heart. I do not ask merely for more of You, Lord, but I offer You more of me—my whole being—so there is more room in my life for You. Consume me with Your love until my heart is wholly Yours, until there is nothing left there but an anointing of Your love, Your presence. Help me to access Your love in all its fullness. I want to feel Your heart beating within my heart.

Several years ago I had a powerful vision during a church prayer meeting. I saw a pair of hands holding a heart and gently massaging fragrant oil into it. The vision lasted for several minutes at the time, but has never left me. There have been various applications for this over the intervening time, and whenever I remember it, it still affects me. I believe that is what the Lord wants to do with each of our hearts. If we allow him to do this, His healing hands will bring wholeness to our hearts so we can move forward in our relationship with Jesus and also with our relationships with the people in our lives. Lord, may we all yield to your tender touch.

I hope you enjoy these short excerpts from the Prayer for Covering in my not-yet-finished book It Is Written. Please let me know what you think in the comment box below. I always love to hear from my readers. If you are not already following my blog, please take a moment to click on the “Follow” button at the top to receive e-mail notifications of future posts. Thank you for taking time to read this post.

Be blessed today and every day. May the peace of Christ dwell in your hearts and minds.

PRAYER OF COVERING

I thought I would share, in sections, the prayer for covering from my book It Is Written: My Prayer Journey into the Heart of God which is still in progress. Each section is a unit in itself, so here is the first part: the covering of our minds. Our mind can be a very fertile place for dark things to brew, so we need to take care to keep our minds under the cover of the blood of Jesus to protect us from all that comes against us from the world and from our enemy so they can be filled with the things of God.

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Tentative front cover design for It Is Written

So spread Your covering over me now, Lord, for You are my Redeemer 

Ruth 3:9

I claim the protecting power of the blood of Jesus over my mind and my thoughts. Father, I choose today to think only on those things which are true, good, lovely and pleasing to You—positive, faith-filled thoughts—thoughts originating in and producing only life. (see Philippians 4:8). Help me to keep my mind pure (see 2 Peter 3:1 KJV), to keep it focused on You so that I might live in Your perfect peace (see Isaiah 26:3). Holy Spirit, I pray that You would nudge me when my thoughts turn to unworthy things, when I begin to meditate on unprofitable subjects which disturb my peace, grieve You, and could open the door to the enemy. Help me to renew my mind today that I might not come into agreement with—or walk in the ways of—my own fleshly instincts, the lures of the devil, or of the ways of the world, but that I might be changed—like a butterfly as it is transformed from egg to larva to pupa to adult—so I might examine and yield to Your will for me, and learn what You consider to be good, acceptable and perfect (see Romans 12:2). Lord, I know it is written that Your thoughts are higher than my thoughts (see Isaiah 55:9), but it is also written that I have the mind of Christ (see 1 Corinthians 2:16) because He lives within me. Lord, I ask that Your mind would truly be operative in me today, that my thoughts would be those which come from Your heart. Let Your Word judge my thoughts, Lord (see Hebrews 4:12). Deal with any that do not line up with Your Word and with who You have declared me to be in Christ.

What we think about is a choice. Colossians 3:2 tells us to set our minds on things above, not on earthly things. But we do need, at least in the beginning, to train our minds to make the right choices of what to dwell on. It can become a lifestyle if we work at it. If it were not possible, the Lord would never have told us to do this. However, we need the help of the Holy Spirit often to get into this mindset. And without God’s covering, we will not reach this point in our spiritual life. To do this, we need to be consistently reading the word and be in meaningful prayer, prayer that not only puts forth our requests, but also allows the Lord time to speak to us.

The mind is the best place to start in seeking covering for specific parts of our life. We will also look at our eyes, ears, mouth, attitudes, motives and more. Watch for the next most important part, covering for our hearts.

I hope you have enjoyed this excerpt from It Is Written. Thank you for taking time to stop by. I would really appreciate it if you would leave a comment in the box below. I love to interact with you, my readers. I would also be glad if you would share your thoughts on my cover design. Would it draw you if you saw it on a shelf full of books? Do you find it appropriate for the type of book it is?

If you are not already following my blog, please take a moment to click on the “Follow” button at the top to receive e-mail notifications for each new post. I try to write two per week, but sometimes I only manage one. Occasionally I may, if I have something important to tell you, post a third time in a week, but that doesn’t happen often.

Have a wonderful weekend. I pray God’s covering over your lives to protect you and keep you close to Him.

MORNING PRAYER

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In the morning You will hear my voice.

I was wondering what my next post should be about. Last Thursday, I was the guest on a podcast with Chaplain Gray Stallworth. You can also find him on his blog or on FaceBook. The topic was how to develop a disciplined prayer life. The recording will be available tomorrow, so I will post it when I can. I thought, since prayer is such a huge part of my life that perhaps I should share with you a prayer I wrote some months ago and pray almost every morning when I get up. At first I thought it would be good to wait until tomorrow morning to post this. But I thought, maybe some would like to know about this before morning so they can be prepared to pray it. So here it is.

Morning Prayer

I want to say, “Good morning,” to You, Jesus, and to tell You how much I love You. Thank You for Your great love for me. Thank You that You care about everything that happens to me. Thank You that You are watching over my life and always interceding for me. Thank You for this day and for Your presence with me. Let me hear Your lovingkindnesses this morning. Thank You that they never cease and Your compassions never fail.

I ask for Your discernment today—for my own life and in all my dealings with others. May my eagerness to serve You and minister to others not hinder, distort, misplace or override that discernment.

Help me to let You be God fully in my life today.

May I bring glory to You in all I say and do.

Show me Your will for me for this day. Teach me the things I need to know. Reveal Yourself to me through the Word, prayer, meditation, dreams and visions, my circumstances and the words and examples of others.

Give me a humble, repentant heart throughout this day. May I be quick to confess, repent and seek forgiveness. Give me grace to be quick to forgive all.

Help me to bless others today.

Keep me from hindering Your work. I choose to obey You today. Forgive me when I fail, and redirect me back to Your path.

Help me to enter into the secret place with You. Teach me how to live from that place.

May I never move outside of the unity of Your purpose.

May I never grieve Your Holy Spirit.

Keep me committed to and on track with Your call on my life for today.

Help me to put aside every doubt and fear and to lay down every burden.

May I not give offense to or be offended by others.

Help me to guard my mind today, and to think only on those things which please You.

Help me to watch over my heart today to protect it against every attempt of the enemy to muddy or stop up the flow of the springs of life.

Prevent me from coming into agreement with the enemy. Keep me always alert to the devil’s tactics.

May I sow only good seed into good soil in order to reap a good 100-fold harvest.

Keep me continually connected to Your power.

Help me to communicate clearly to others that which You have clearly communicated to me to be shared with them.

Help me to be a strong support to others today. Show me specifically who and what You want me to pray for today and help me to pray aright. Help me to understand and empathize with the hearts of those You want me to minister to and pray for.

Strengthen me to never give up, especially when the way is difficult or seems to be at an impasse. When the way is smooth and easy, keep me from becoming careless and complacent. Keep me in balance throughout this day.

I choose to put on the full armor of God today. I declare that my weapons of warfare are ever ready for use. May I always be prompt, adept and accurate at using them.

Apply the blood of Jesus to my life today to cleanse me and protect me from the enemy. May the angel/s You have assigned to me keep me continually moving forward on Your path, fulfilling Your will, and keep me far from anyone or anything which could be detrimental to me, or to others through association.

Make me pure and holy.

Prompt, perfect, protect and process my prayers today so they prevail. Filter them all through Your Holy Spirit so they come before Your throne of grace according to your will, not my own—free from all fleshly intent or error. Thank You, Jesus. Amen.

I would encourage you to use this prayer if you like it and to use it on a daily basis. If you do not already have a designated prayer time, I would suggest that first thing in the morning, if it fits your schedule, is the best time to start. This prayer is a good launching pad into deeper prayer. Think about each separate section and expand the prayer. Meditate on it’s importance in your day, in your life. If you already have an established prayer time, then you may want to simply incorporate this prayer into that time. I will be publishing a book of prayers sometime, hopefully later this year, and this will be one of the prayers in it. Please feel free to share it with your friends, on your social media sites or to reblog it.

Thank you so much for stopping by to read my posts. I really appreciate my readers. I would be happy if you would leave a comment in the box below. If you are not already following me, please take a moment to click on the ‘Follow’ button above and you will receive e-mail updates when I add new posts.

Have a wonderful day. May the Lord richly bless you as you go deeper in prayer and relationship with Him.

A LIFE TRANSFORMED The first story in The Lives of God’s Poor and Obscure

This is the first story I originally wrote as a stand-alone, not at that time anticipating the compiling of a book of short stories in this format. A Life Transformed was first published in the Pentecostal Testimony, the magazine of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada. That was, I believe, back in 1997. I then submitted it to a contest which I did not win. Both venues required a different number of words, so I added to it and shortened it accordingly. For the magazine, I had to cut it in half. For the contest, I had to almost triple the word count from the magazine edition. For this book, I have taken it back closer to the original number of words. I have not yet done the final editing, so if you, my reader, see anything you feel is an error in spelling, grammar, punctuation or in story content or flow, please feel free to leave a comment below and I will take it into consideration before I publish.  This story sat for a while before I decided to choose other obscure people in the Bible and to create stories around them. Now I am nearing the time when I can publish the whole collection in my next book, The Lives of God’s Poor and Obscure” A Collection of Short Stories. See my last post to learn more about this book.

The Lives of God's Poor and Obscure Front Cover-001

A Life Transformed

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It’s true. What they say of Him is true. I feel it. I know it. Because of this I am compelled to write an accurate record of my story so that others can believe, too. What I have to share is also important for the benefit of my children and their children after them.

My name is Malchus. Though it means, in my native Hebrew language, king, counselor or ruler, I am but the servant of the High Priest. Yet in a way I am a ruler in my own household: counselor to those I love dearly and for whose well-being I am fully responsible. My history is not exceptional. Born of Levite parents, Malchijah and Miriam, I have five brothers and three sisters. I am the oldest. I grew up in a strict Jewish home where my parents taught me to worship and fear God Almighty. Father constantly talked of the laws and commandments of God so that I became familiar with them at an early age. A good provider, he followed the Law faithfully. I was circumcised according to the Law and participated in all the feasts from the time I was of age. Mother was a wonderful, kind woman. An ancient proverb describes her exactly: An excellent wife is the crown of her husband.1 She complemented my father in every way so that they were as one being. Mother was a strong influence in my life both by her teaching and her example. Though she died several years ago, I still miss her.

When I was but a young boy, my parents betrothed me to the daughter of friends. As I grew into maturity, I watched this child grow and blossom into a beautiful young woman and eagerly anticipated the day of our marriage. Rachel has been my wife for several years now, and we have five children. My oldest son is my pride and joy. A handsome boy, full of life, he can be mischievous at times, but I am sure he will outgrow the youthful pranks. We have recently begun making arrangements to betroth him to Rebecca, the lovely little daughter of Joseph and Sarah, long-time friends of our family. I pray that when they do marry, they will be as happy and content as Rachel and I have been. May God bless them and grant them many children.

As a servant of the High Priest, I have faithfully served Caiaphas from the time I voluntarily bound myself to him fifteen years ago. Since the Romans took over the rule of our nation, they have appointed our high priests. Although they are still taken from the line of Aaron, now only those who are of political importance are chosen by Roman officials. Thus, sad to say, the spiritual quality of that privileged calling has now declined in favor of political power. I am sure God is very saddened by it all.

To begin my story, I must refer to a most amazing occurrence. One night, on orders from Caiaphas, I accompanied a large number of people gathered up by the chief priests, scribes and elders of Israel into a garden where we were to arrest a man named Jesus. One of His disciples, Judas, son of one Iscariot, promised to point Him out to us. He had come to the rulers a short while before with an offer to hand his Master over to them. They paid him the sum of thirty pieces of silver in advance, proving precisely how much they wanted to be rid of Jesus. I wondered, when I heard the rumor of this arrangement, why a man should be so anxious to betray his own Master and friend. I suppose some men are willing to do anything for enough money, but still, I thought it strange. Jesus taught openly in the temple and in public places, yet we had to have someone identify Him. And the multitude of men it took just to arrest one unarmed Man with a handful of mostly unarmed followers was inexplicable.

I had seen this Man from time to time at a distance, and heard snatches of what He spoke to the people. The leaders of the temple considered Him a troublemaker. The Pharisees and elders were so jealous of their exalted positions in Israel they could not bear to see so many enthusiastic supporters of One who had risen from obscurity. After all, He was only a carpenter’s Son from Galilee. No one of any significance ever came from Galilee. During the great Exile, this area was repopulated by a colony of heathens now looked down on as less than nobodies. But I, in my brief encounters, saw no real harm in Him. He certainly seemed to be popular with the common people.

This Jesus reportedly had healed many people from physical ailments and cast out demons. One day I even heard that He had raised a man named Lazarus from the dead. Nonsense, I thought, obviously a mere exaggeration spread by overzealous followers. But the rulers plainly took the incident seriously.

Numerous times the chief priests had tried to snare Him in His teaching, but no one succeeded. I often heard the rulers plotting, then reporting their failures. They sent different people to question Him, and some even pretended that they believed what He proclaimed. But with great wisdom, Jesus knew exactly how to reply to them. I heard the reports they brought back to the rulers. After the Lazarus rumor, the leaders stepped up their campaign to remove Jesus. They even plotted to kill Lazarus because many more people turned to Jesus because of him, and Lazarus himself was becoming very popular.

However, the first time I saw Him up close was on that unforgettable night in the garden called Gethsemane. A large group collected on the way to the garden that night after Judas informed us that this was to be the night. We first crossed the brook Kidron under a clear ebony sky alive with stars which silently spoke the wonders of God. From the south, a gentle warm breeze refreshed us after the heat of the day. The soft rustle of leaves in the olive trees was soothing, in deep contrast to the distressing undercurrent of our mission.

We entered the garden to find a number of peaceful, men with their leader. Their faces painted a picture of sadness overlaid with lines of worry and fear. Three of them actually looked as if they had just awakened from sleep. Judas approached and kissed Jesus—the sign agreed upon to identify Him. How hurt his Master must have been. I observed the face of this Man closely for a few moments. Heavy beads of sweat, thick as blood, coursed from His forehead down His cheeks into His beard. I will never forget that voice as Jesus spoke so clearly, calling Judas “Friend” and asking why he had come. He then reminded the multitude that He had taught openly in the temple and asked why they had not arrested Him at that time. No one responded. Subsequently He made a rather curious statement: Do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels? How then will the Scriptures be fulfilled, which say that it must happen this way?2

Astonishing! I remember wondering who He meant by His Father. And angels? Twelve legions of them? This was simply too much to fathom. But I will never forget His voice. So gentle, yet it came forth with so much authority that no one dared answer Him. In fact, after He spoke those words, we all fell backwards to the ground. Our legs had no power to hold us up. Again He asked the same question. Never once did He deny that He was the Jesus we had come to arrest. He had but one request—that we allow His disciples go safely. At that, all of His followers ran away. One young man had obviously, on sudden impulse, decided to follow the group into Gethsemane. He had nothing but a linen cloth wrapped around him. As he ran off, some of the men grabbed at him, snatched the cloth from him and left him to continue running naked. Had it not been such an intense and tragic occasion, I would have been overcome with the humor of the situation, although I suspect that the young man in question would not have considered it humorous.

But I must return to the most important part of my story. Even with all the unusual happenings that night, I should not have remembered it so vividly had not what I am about to tell you happened. I stood there in the front of the group, near some of Jesus’ disciples, when suddenly I saw the flash of a sword in the torchlight as it flew past me. I felt excruciating pain on the right side of my head. Looking down, I saw my ear—my ear!—lying on the ground at my feet. I instinctively put my hand to the side of my head and realized that blood was gushing out. I was in a state of shock. But that wasn’t even the most startling thing. As I was attempting to grasp the meaning of the whole situation, Jesus spoke to the man named Peter and rebuked him for having tried to defend Him. Most amazing of all, Jesus then put His hand where my ear had been, told me I wouldn’t have to suffer any longer, and wonder of wonders, when He removed His hand, my ear was perfectly restored where a moment before there had been nothing but a gaping wound. Hallelujah! Praise God. I couldn’t believe it. It was like a dream except the pain had been all too real, and the bloodstains on my robe were there to confirm it. I have never since had so much as an earache.

How could this Man perform such a miracle? Perhaps the stories that I had heard and put so little faith in had indeed been true. Perhaps I had been wrong. Now it was conceivable to me that the rulers were wrong in arresting Jesus, a Man who did not even try to defend Himself. This was an appalling mistake. How could this Man—about to be arrested, thought of by religious leaders as seditious, deserted by His friends—have enough compassion on a mere servant, a man He had never seen before as far as I know, to perform such a miraculous healing? Where did He get His power? Could it be that God actually was with Him, and that He had been wrongly accused? It frightened me to even think of the implications. Accusing God? Eliminating God’s Man? I could not comprehend the consequences of such an act. And it was our spiritual leaders who were responsible for this terrible thing. What is to become of our nation now? Our history has shown us just what God has done to Israel when our people refused to serve Him only. We are already ruled by Rome. Will we again be exiled to a strange land? When will our people learn to wholly devote themselves to Almighty God?

The Pharisees and elders were so anxious to dispose of Him that they put Jesus on trial before daybreak. While they were in the house of Annas, the father-in-law of Caiaphas, two of His disciples followed Him to watch the proceedings. One of them—I later learned his name was John—appeared to know the High Priest and brought in the other one—Peter, the one who had chopped off my ear. He stood and warmed himself at the fire along with the soldiers as though nothing unusual was about to take place. Three times the servants insisted that Peter had been with Jesus. Three times he denied the fact. One of my relatives happened to be there and told me these things. Simeon was in the garden and saw Peter use his sword, yet Peter denied to his face even knowing who Jesus was. Soon morning dawned, and a rooster crowed. Jesus turned around and looked at His disciple. Simeon said His look was full of compassion. Moments later, he watched as Peter ran out, his face contorted as if in anguish. Someone later told me he saw Peter crouched close to the wall weeping bitter tears.

The next day, after Caiaphas had sent Jesus to Pilate, the governor appointed by Rome, crowds gathered outside the Praetorium, the governor’s palace, screaming, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” The chief priests and rulers of the Temple had incited them. How amazing that people could so quickly change sides. One day they were praising the Man, hanging on His every word. The next day they were clamoring for His death. Pilate examined Him. He endeavored to save Him, but finally gave in to the crowd’s demands and handed Jesus over to the Roman soldiers, but not before he ordered Him to be whipped with metal-tipped leather thongs. I could not bear to witness as the barbs shredded the flesh on His back to expose muscle and bone. As if that were not punishment enough, even for a genuine criminal, the soldiers then took pleasure in mocking Him. They threw a purple robe over His bleeding body, handed Him a reed as a scepter, and wove a crown of horrible thorns which they forced down on His head. They began to beat Him about the head with reeds.

After ripping the robe from Him, they tied the rough wooden crossbar to His shoulders and forced Him to carry it to the hill Golgotha, the place of execution. Such cruelty in men is inconceivable to me. Jesus walked farther than I would have imagined possible under those conditions, but He finally fell to His knees and could proceed no further. All this time He spoke not a word. A soldier then summoned a spectator from the crowd to carry the burden the rest of the way. The crucifixion itself was too gruesome to even record here. The memory haunts me still. Some women gathered close by Him weeping, and His mother knelt at the foot of the cross with the disciple named John. I did not hear the conversation, but it must have been nothing short of heartbreaking for them all. Curses were shouted, and many voices mocked Him. The soldiers, as usual at these executions, cast lots for the clothing they had stripped from His body.

Though He had to be in excruciating pain of soul as well as body, Jesus never verbally abused His tormentors in return. I heard Him say, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”3 What love. What tenderness.

Victims of crucifixion experience a slow, cruel death by suffocation, but Jesus, after a comparatively short time, said with a strong voice, “It is finished,”4 and then died as if He had complete control of the Spirit leaving His body. I marveled greatly at this at the time, but since that day I have learned that, in reality, He did freely give His life. And He had power to take it up again when He rose from the dead three days later. After He died, a terrible, ominous darkness fell over the whole area and the ground shook as if in sympathy. It frightened us all. It must have been the judgment of God. What is worse, the thick veil in the Temple which separated the Holy of Holies from the rest of the building was torn in half—from the top down to the bottom. How could this be?

I remember the commotion the elders made when they tried to cover up the fact that Jesus rose from the grave. Of course, they refused to believe it, and paid the guards to keep their mouths shut about what they actually saw. They spread the rumor that His disciples had stolen the body while the guard slept. Though they did not believe in Jesus, they were not willing for the public to learn what the guards could have told. Our rulers were more concerned about their own positions with the Roman government than the welfare of our nation. Why could our leaders, men who should know the signs of the times, men who have studied the prophets, not understand that this Man Jesus is the promised Messiah?

Though I did not at first believe either, after what transpired personally and what I saw during that Passover, I now must believe Jesus is the Son of the living God. My mind can yield no room for doubt. He is the Messiah. I have since heard many accounts of believers who saw Him after He rose from the dead. Our people have always been taught that two or three witnesses prove the case, and there have been many more than two or three who have seen Him. Now that I believe, I am thankful that my family, too, have believed in Him. I pray that whoever reads this document either now or in the future, may come to know Jesus in a personal way. He is truly the gentle, loving Savior Who came into the world to show us the Father, to die for our sins and bring complete salvation to all who will believe and trust in Him.

The priests and elders of Israel have ordered that anyone who professes to believe in Jesus must be put out of the synagogue. Some have already been denied the privilege of entering the Temple, but many are afraid to publicly proclaim their faith. Great persecution may await those disciples of Jesus who are not afraid to testify to what they believe. We may even have to leave our beloved land. But as I have undertaken to write this account, my faith has increased even more, and I now realize I am compelled, along with my wife Rachel, to publicly confess Jesus as our Savior. I know not what the consequences may be. I may even die for my faith. Only God knows. But one thing I do know: my God will keep me and strengthen me for whatever is ahead. Glory to His name. Amen.

I, Malchus, sign this document in affirmation that all that is herein written is true and reliable. May God bless all who read and lead them to a right relationship with His Son, Jesus.

Malchus, Jerusalem A.D 37

1 Proverbs 12:4

2 Matthew 26:53

3 Luke 23:34

4 John 19:30

 

Well, there it is. I hope you enjoyed the story. This is the first of an even dozen stories which will appear in my next book The Lives of God’s Poor and Obscure: A Collection of Short Stories. If you would like to find out more about my other two books, click here for Look for the Rainbows: A Journey of Spirit and Heart, and here for Shadows in My Valley.

Thank you so much for stopping by to read my post. I would really appreciate it if you would leave a comment in the box below. If you are not currently following my blog, please take a moment to click on the ‘Follow’ button at the top. You will receive e-mail notifications to let you know when I publish a new post. And please feel free to share this post on your social media. Invite your friends to stop by, too. You, my readers, mean a great deal to me.

Have a wonderful weekend. May God’s blessings be yours daily.

SNEAK PEAK

The Lives of God's Poor and Obscure Front Cover-001Now that Look for the Rainbows and Shadows in My Valley have been published, I am working on my next book. Hopefully it will be ready for publishing by May 2019.

The Lives of God’s Poor and Obscure is a book of a dozen short stories about people from the Bible who, in some way, had an important role to play. They themselves do not seem very important. Some are mentioned very briefly, some were never given a name, and none of them would have dreamed that thousands of years later people all over the world would be reading about their lives.

Maybe you have never given a moment’s thought to some of those who people my stories. I have had to study something about the times they lived in so that I could imagine a life around them. I have named the nameless and created families and life situations around each one to give each their own story which, though unknown to us today, could have happened as I have described.

Have you ever wondered about Malchus, the man whose ear Peter cut off in the Garden of Gethsemane? Can you begin to imagine how he must have felt when that sword struck? Or how he might have reacted when Jesus healed him? What about Orpah? Stories and books have been written and movies produced about Ruth, Naomi’s daughter-in-law. But have you ever considered what might have happened to Orpah, the one who returned to her old life when Ruth went on to Bethlehem? Or what how the shepherds feel when they saw the whole sky lit up with angels and were told the most fantastic news about the birth of a Savior?

These are just a few of the characters you will read about in The Lives of God’s Poor and Obscure A Collection of Short Stories. But they are not simply stories. There are life lessons for us to learn in the telling. At the end there is a short review of each story. And one last surprise letter written personally to each of us.

There are just a few more steps for me to take before I will be publishing this little volume. I hope you will watch for it through my updates here and on FaceBook

Thank you so much for dropping by to visit. I would really appreciate it if, before you leave, you would leave a comment in the box below to let me know what you think about my blog in general, and in particular what your thoughts are on my upcoming book The Lives of God’s Poor and Obscure. If you are not already following me here, please take a moment to click on the ‘Follow’ button at the top of the page. You will receive e-mail notifications of each new post. And if you have another moment, please click on my FaceBook Author page and ‘Like’ it and ‘Follow’ me there as well.

I hope you are having a wonderful week. Keep healthy and happy. May the Lord bless you abundantly. Until next time.

THE STORY BEHIND SHADOWS IN MY VALLEY Part 2

Shadows in my Valley New cover

This is a continuation from Part 1 of the story of my book Shadows in My Valley. 

There were occasional times after this when Mary offered to pray with me. One such night I remember brought me a great deal of pain. I should interject here that this woman’s habit at times was to tell people their faults. She deemed it a kindness. On that particular evening, after desperately trying to grasp hold of the Lord in prayer, I felt a failure. My cries landed right back in my lap—or so I felt. Had God even heard me? A young friend who also struggled in her spiritual life had joined us in the prayer time. She left the room for a few minutes. After putting her arm gently around my shoulder, Mary decided this was her chance to list all my faults. Though she spoke as though this were the first time she had said any of these things, I had heard them from her, at least in part, before. By the time she finished with me, I was devastated. I remember writing later in my prayer journal that I would rather she had taken a kitchen knife and literally stabbed me in the back. I felt it would have been less painful.

I received the baptism in the Holy Spirit several months after I accepted the Lord as my Savior. I did not have specific teaching as to why I had received this blessing. The church I attended offered wonderful teaching, but much of it better suited strong, mature Christians than new ones. Through books, I gradually learned that tongues were, among other things, a prayer language given to us by the Lord to use when, in prayer with an intense burden, our natural language failed to express our need. During this difficult time, I felt completely unable to express myself. I did not know what my true need was, so words were not forthcoming. I prayed in tongues, the only way I could communicate with the Lord and find any release in my spirit. Even so, I found none for my mind. This brought criticism from Mary. Though she herself spoke in tongues, she accused me, at the end of one public prayer meeting, that I had prayed too much and too loud in tongues. According to her, it disturbed other people. Another slap in my face. For anyone who knew me back then, an accusation of my being too loud would probably have astounded them. When I asked the pastor’s wife about it, she assured me that I had not disturbed anyone. But the damage had been done. Discouragement grew.

Please do not think I am sharing this to sully Mary’s character, to get it off my chest, or because I hold a grudge against this woman. I dealt with this issue before the Lord years ago. Perhaps you wonder at my not just forgetting these things if I have forgiven and moved on. I do not often think of them, but forgiving someone does not always include forgetting what was done. It was part of my life, changed my life, helped to make me what I am today. During the time I started writing this chapter, the situation came to my attention while reading a book about offense. What I do wish is to offer you some light on at least part of the reason adversity enters our lives.

Mary had become spiritually proud and truly believed she was doing the Lord’s work. Pride is dangerous, and spiritual pride the most dangerous type. I know that others besides me suffered because of her pride.

Often we believe we are doing what the Lord has called us to, yet we harbor pride, anger, bitterness, hurt. We may want to blame everyone but ourselves for what happens to us or for our own spiritual impoverishment. I do not think I consciously blamed her for the spiritual poverty in my life, but I am now able to see the situation much more clearly from the distance of years and greater maturity. I realize now that she, through the deceitfulness of the devil, had given me offense. I grasped on to that offense and ran with it. Instead of dropping it like a hot coal and forgiving, I latched on like a starving soul being offered a rare meal. Today we hear and read a great deal about offenses, but then I do not recall ever hearing anyone preach on this topic. Perhaps if they had, I would have been free much sooner. Yet this does not excuse me.

Jesus told us in His Word, “It must needs be that offenses will come” (Matthew 18:7 KJV). Nowhere does He say to make them personal. We are not to make it our personal vendetta to avenge ourselves. We must not take offense to heart and allow it to rule our lives else we will become like those Paul instructs Timothy about in 1 Timothy 4:11. “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron” (KJV). These were people of faith who obviously had received offenses and refused to deal with them. We should observe where it took them, and learn from it.

To be continued…

Thank you so much for visiting my blog and reading my story. I hope you were able to glean some truth as you read. I really appreciate you taking time from your busy schedule to stop  by. Please leave a comment before you leave. And if you are not  already following me, please click on the “Follow” button at the top and you will receive e-mail updates when I publish new posts.

If you would like to purchase Shadows in My Valley you will find it on my Amazon page. This link is for Amazon.com, but it is also available on Amazon.ca for Canadians. While you are there, check out my novel Look for the Rainbows A Journey of Spirit and Heart. If you want to read excerpts from this book, click on Chapter 1 and Chapter 2. If you would like to read about how Look for the Rainbows evolved, click here.

Watch in the next couple of months for an announcement about the publication date of my next book The Lives of God’s Poor and Obscure A Collection of Short Stories.

In the meantime, have a wonderful day. God bless you and keep you through the easy times and the difficult times. He is always with you.

THE STORY BEHIND SHADOWS IN MY VALLEY Part 1

Shadows in my Valley New coverHere is the first part of my story, though not the first part of the book. It happened a long time ago, but it is still impacting my life today. I wandered in this valley for several years on a roller-coaster ride of many doubts, moments of faith, many fears, much confusion, along with countless other unpredictable emotions.

MY TESTIMONY

I once had a mentor, an intercessory prayer partner, who sought to teach me and lead me into the deeper things of God. I was a novice and needed help. To my seeking heart, the offer sounded wonderful. An answer to prayer. Although the Lord did teach me much through her, I was unaware of the pitfalls this relationship would create for me. The leadership of the church considered Mary (not her real name) to be spiritually mature and trustworthy. So I trusted her.

I read a book by Ken Gire called The North Face of God. He likens our dark and difficult times in life to the dangers of mountain climbing. He makes it clear that we need to be extremely careful who we choose as climbing partners. We need a safe team. An experienced team. As it turned out, I did not choose well.

I trusted Mary with too much of myself. Probably more than she could handle. She became an anchor to me, when my only anchor should have been Jesus. During one phone call to me, before we were closely bound spiritually, I recall that she quoted a scripture to me and asked me if I felt the same as she did about it. In my immaturity, though I understood what that verse meant, I misunderstood the meaning behind her motive for quoting it. I will not go into detail, but this began what I now call an unwise prayer partnership. Actually, an ungodly soul-tie.

We prayed together every Friday evening. Mary opened my understanding in many ways that helped me greatly. I did learn to go deeper than ever before in prayer. But I believe something about her own personal life, which in some ways was abnormal, kept her from following through to the end what she began to do as my spiritual mentor. She backed off suddenly and unexpectedly, and it threw me completely off balance.

When it happened, I felt like a baby that had been thrown overboard from a boat into deep water and told, “Sink or swim. If you make it to shore, I’ll see you there. If not, tough luck, but you’re on your own from here on.”

Have you ever plunged into icy cold water? Then you can imagine the shock I felt in the spirit. I was not prepared to handle this situation. I panicked. I had come to know the Lord more deeply during the previous months, but evidently not well enough to understand how to trust Him for this. It overwhelmed me. I did not know where to turn. When I say she left me, I do not mean she never had anything more to do with me. She did cut off our prayer times. I felt I still needed these times in order to reach a level where I could stand on my own. With the Lord, of course. But she had decided this to be the time for me to stop crawling and begin walking without help. I think now that perhaps she did not want to be a support for me any longer. I determined, wrongly, that I still needed that prop.

I realize now, all these years later, that the Lord Himself had removed the prop. I believe this lady’s motive was simply to be free of something she did not wish to continue, but that her method was unacceptable. The Lord used it to bring me into a place of trusting Him completely. Unfortunately, I did not comprehend this at the time. I floundered. I lost my footing and handhold, then fell from the mountainside.

I did not have the ideal team to help me down. I hit bottom in a dark valley that, in one stroke, insinuated itself into my life. I could see nothing. I did not have the wisdom to understand what had happened. Wandering helplessly around this valley, I wondered what had hit me. Depression took hold of me for the first time in my life. I had always questioned how anyone could succumb to depression. Now, here I sat, wallowing in it myself. Though I would never want to feel this way ever again, I would not trade the lessons I have learned. Now I can understand how others may be feeling and think of them with compassion rather than criticism.

To be continued…

I want to thank those of you who faithfully read my posts, and to thank all of those who are new or occasional readers for taking the time to check out my latest articles. I really do appreciate all of you. If you haven’t already read my former excerpt from Shadows in My Valley, please click here.

I would be happy to read and respond to any comments you might care to leave in the box below. I would love to hear about your experiences and how you found your way through to victory. If you are not already following me, please take a moment or two to click on the “Follow” button at the top to receive e-mail updates when I publish new posts.

If you would like to purchase Shadows in My Valley please check out my Amazon page. This link is for Amazon.com but it is also available on Amazon.ca. While you are there, please check out my novel Look for the Rainbows A Journey of Spirit and Heart. Click on the links if you would like to read Chapter 1 and part of Chapter 2 of Look for the Rainbows.

Watch for an announcement sometime in the next couple of months for the publication date of my next book The Lives of God’s Poor and Obscure A Collection of Short Stories.

I hope you have a wonderful day. May God bless you richly and take you by the hand to lead you through any valley you may be experiencing right now.

SHADOWS IN MY VALLEY Excerpt

Shadows in my Valley New cover

The following is an excerpt from my book Shadows in My Valley Published in November 2018. The theme of the book is a valley experience I went through many years ago that made an indelible impression on my life and has contributed to who and what I am today. Each chapter begins with a poem written  during that time of despair and in the process of coming out of that valley. Further details are added as well as excerpts from the prayer journal I kept at that time. Scripture verses bring it in line with the word of God.

A PRAYER FROM THE VALLEY

Lord, it’s so dark all around me;

I can’t see the light of day.

Jesus, help me to understand now

All the things that have come my way.

I just don’t feel Your presence;

I can’t hear Your guiding voice;

My world seems ready to crumble;

Still, I make Your will my choice.

Your Word says You’ll never leave me,

Nor forsake the child You love.

Give me faith, my heavenly Father,

To keep on looking above.

The darkest hour, they tell me,

Is always before the dawn.

Let the sun now rise upon me,

Fill my heart with heavenly song.

May I feel the warmth of Your sunshine

As brighter and brighter it glows;

Lift my spirit to heavenly places

Where the wind of Your Spirit blows.

Let Your love fall on me like a mantle,

Dispelling the shadows and fear,

And to Your sweet, holy presence

Let me now and forever draw near.

A Prayer from the Valley describes exactly the feelings I struggled with as I groped my way through spiritual darkness. The wonderful thing about going through these times and growing in the Lord is that we are not nearly so devastated when the next trial comes. Today I would not allow these feelings to overwhelm me. That is not to say I will never have to battle with them any more, but I will gain the victory much more quickly. I have learned to lean more on the Lord. I still experience times of dryness, of weariness, of being overwhelmed with life, of wondering, “Where do I go from here, Lord?” But I no longer feel that God has left me. I know that I know that He is with me whether I feel His presence or not.

Of course, I would much rather feel Him close to me, to feel the touch of His hand on me in blessing. But I am now able to continue on in faith and the knowledge that even when I cannot sense God’s presence, the Lord has not abandoned me to my own meager resources. I can trust Him much more fully with my life. Often I do not understand what He is doing. At times I come to a standstill because I cannot understand what He wants me to do. These are times I must learn to discipline myself to “wait patiently for the Lord” (see Psalm 40:1). In the margin of the New American Standard Bible this word ‘patiently’ is explained as ‘intently’. We must wait with purpose and concentrate on hearing God’s voice. If we are not absorbed totally in listening, we may miss His direction and then we will continue to grope our way through life.

I had not then learned to listen carefully. I did not know how to rest in the Lord. Jesus was real to me, but His ways were not always familiar. My faith existed only as a little mustard seed, unable to carry me through the valley at that time. I needed the Lord to carry me. But He did much more than carry me through. He taught me to walk in His faith. Jesus never leaves us to ourselves unless we turn our backs on Him. (Even then He waits in the background.) He was there all along. I just did not have the keen perception to see Him. My Father improved my spiritual awareness through that valley, and continues to do so every day of my life since as I yield myself to Him. No longer do I fear the dark times, for Jesus is the Eternal Light that ever shines into my life. I no longer dread the valley, for it is a beautiful place of resting, watering, learning and growth. But it has taken a great deal of time to bring me to this place. Naturally, I would rather feel the exhilaration of the mountaintop. I would choose to feel the presence of God all the time. But He allows us to pass through the desert and valley places so that we all the more appreciate the blessedness and closeness of His manifest presence in our lives.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me. Psalm 23:4

Passing through the valley of Baca they make it a spring.

Psalm 84:6

From my Journal:

Father, I need Your help so desperately. I feel entirely helpless. Please reveal to my spirit what I must do to be released from this prison. Peter could not get out of prison until the angel came and loosed the chains that bound him and told him step by step what to do to get out of his prison cell and be free.1 I don’t want just enough strength to endure, Father. I want enough strength to be free, to rejoice with my spirit for evermore. Grant me a speedy deliverance, Father, because of Your love and mercy. Forgive me for feeling the way I do. Lord, I’m sorry that just when I seem to be making some headway through the valley that I end up falling again. It’s like trying to climb out of a deep pit with perpendicular walls. I get so far, lose my footing and tumble back to the bottom again. Forgive me for my failure, Father. Forgive me for my weakness. Forgive me for not being able to grasp firmly the rope You are throwing me to lift me out of the pit. Change me, Father. Give me the strength to take the rope and hold on as You pull me out. And when I get to the top, to the surface, help me not to look back, lose my balance and fall back in. Help me to look straight ahead at You and to follow You. Thank You for hearing. Thank You for understanding. Thank You for caring. Thank You, Father, for answering the cry of my heart. I love You, Lord.

In reading this excerpt from my prayer journal, you may be able to feel the despair that I felt at that time. I was desperate for release, desperate for God. I just did not know how to find Him. As I prayed this way from day to day, I cried ‘buckets’ of tears. In some places it was hard to decipher the writing where the pages had been watered with and the words faded by them. I cried so much that I told friends I had shed enough tears to fill a bathtub. Rather exaggerated, no doubt, but that is what it felt like. Yet tears do cleanse and heal, as long as they are not tears of self-pity or despair. As you can see, I did believe that God cared, but I simply could not put that knowledge to profitable use to help me out of that deep hole. I was overwhelmed with the extent of emotion I had never before realized was in me. I allowed the enemy to keep on attacking because I did not know I had the tools and the power to send him packing. Actually, I am not certain that I even realized that it was the enemy attacking me.

Today, I believe that I went through this turmoil in order to understand the trials of others, and to help and encourage them—and you—to push through to victory. If my experience, devastating as it was, can benefit even one other person, it was worth it all. We have the power of God resident within us. We can fight Satan and run him off. We are not his property, and he has no rights over us unless we have given them to him by continuing in sin or simply by default because we did nothing. James tells us that if we only “submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (see James 4:7). If you can grasp this truth and run with it, you will exit the valley much more quickly than I did. If I had been given the counsel I needed, I, too, would not have spent as much time wallowing in the mire of self-pity. I might have won the victory much sooner. Though I would never want to go through another experience like it, I do not regret the things the Lord taught me in the midst of it. As the old chorus says, “It will be worth it all, when we see Jesus”.2

The following poem came in response to A Prayer from the Valley. There was comfort in it. There was hope. There was life. But still, my mood continued on a roller-coaster ride. Still I could not walk in the truth the Lord was showing me. I was encouraged, but not yet delivered. That would not come until later, after many more lessons. The mountaintop still loomed in the future, high up in the clouds, but the promise was in the present. As the valley appeared before me unexpectedly, so victory came when I did not anticipate it. Look up, and see what the Lord Jesus Christ will do for you.

1See Acts 12:1-11

2“When We See Christ” Words and music by Esther K. Rusthoi. To see all the words and chorus: http://www.traditionalmusic.co.uk/gospel-songs-chords/it_will_be_worth_it.htm

Thank you so much for stopping by and reading my post. I hope these words have spoken to your heart. Watch for future excerpts.  To purchase this book, go to my Amazon Author page. Click here Shadows in My Valley.  Check out my novel Look for the Rainbows A Journey of Spirit and Heart.  To read Chapter 1 of the novel, click here.

Watch for an announcement in the next couple of months concerning the publishing of my upcoming book, The Lives of God’s Poor and Obscure A Collection of Short Stories.

Please feel free to leave a comment in the  box below. I would love to hear your story. If you are not already following me, please take a moment to click on the “Follow” button at the top to receive e-mail notifications of future posts. I always appreciate it when people take time out of their busy schedules to check out what I am doing and writing. I would love it if you could share this on your social media. May the Lord richly bless you every day. Have a great week.

 

ONE ANGEL,TWO SIMILAR MESSAGES, TWO OPPOSITE RESPONSES

P1080033The book of Luke opens with the angel Gabriel appearing to Zacharias, an elderly priest, and to a young girl, possibly in her early teens, named Mary. In both instances he tells of the coming of a baby, one unexpected, the other looked for through several centuries. Both recipients were astonished at the angel’s appearance. Both asked a question. But how different were the motives of these questions and how different the angel’s response.

Zacharias had been chosen by lot to offer incense in the temple. As he was doing this, Gabriel comes to him. He tells him that his wife, Elisabeth, is going to have a son in her old age. He gives details about this child. How does Zacharias respond? He is afraid.

His question: How will I know for certain? He did not believe. He was filled with doubt. He wanted proof. I suppose you could say he got his proof, but not in the way he expected. He became deaf and mute until John was born.

On the other hand, when the angel comes to Mary, she responds in faith. Her question: How will this be since I am a virgin? She only wanted instruction as to what to expect. She believed Gabriel. The angel answered her question and told her all the details of how this miracle would take place.

Gabriel makes a third appearance–to Joseph, engaged to Mary. His first response when he heard of Mary’s pregnancy was to secretly divorce her to save her the public shame. But after Gabriel comes to him in a dream, he follows the instructions given to him and takes Mary as his wife.

One would expect the elder to have more faith than the younger. A priest should not doubt God where youth may not have lived long enough to gain that strength of faith. But here we find just the opposite.

We have no idea how these three people felt about the messages divinely brought to them. I’m sure if an angel suddenly appeared before us we would be afraid. If the message was something impossible to happen in the natural, we might doubt. But if the message was as great as that to Mary about the birth of the Christ-child, I think we might feel very humble and wonder how we could possibly carry out such an undertaking. Joseph must have wondered about taking a pregnant woman supposedly carrying the coming Messiah and how he could possible have a part in the fulfillment of this prophecy.

How often does the Lord send His messengers to us at unexpected times? How do we respond? Do we doubt, or receive by faith? Do we want proof, or do we want instruction as to the how-to?

These people were ordinary people, not kings or noblemen or famous or particularly gifted. But they were chosen by God for a specific purpose. He supplied them with everything they needed to carry out His will. We need not fear even the greatest task given by the Lord because He knows what He is doing. He always equips where He calls. And He is with us always to help us along the way.

With another year ending and a new one just ahead, let’s choose to respond like Mary and believe, receive and carry out God’s will for us on a day-to-day basis so that when those big things come along unexpectedly we will be ready to say a resounding “Yes!” to the Lord. And we will hear His “Well done, good and faithful servant” when we have finished the final task.

I pray God’s blessing on you. May you have a prosperous and healthy 2019.

Thank you for stopping by and reading my post. I appreciate all of you. And please take a moment to leave a comment in the box below before leaving. If you are not already following my blog, I would appreciate it if you would click on the “Follow” button at the top of this page to receive e-mail notifications of new posts. Have a wonderful day. And a very Happy New Year! God bless.