SPRING INTO NEW LIFE

Flowers spring 2011 011Spring. A time of awakening. A time of new life beginning. A time of the sprouting up of plants from the earth. A time of opening of buds and blossoming of flowers and greenery. A time of change from the often dreary, dark and cold days of winter into the warm sunshiny days which promise to follow.

Although spring is not my absolute favorite time of year (that would be summer), I love this new stirring of all nature as it prepares for the maturing of summer growth and, eventually fall harvest. This means increased rains in many areas as well as milder temperatures and sunshine (unless, of course, you already live in a tropical or semi-tropical area). I am fully aware that the rain is essential to spring growth, for is it not April showers that bring May flowers? Yet I am not fond of day after day of rainy and damp weather. That’s why I prefer summer–most years.

Spring is a time, also, for the stirring of hearts, the renewal of hope and faith. It is a time of the blossoming of love. Countless weddings take place in the spring months, and particularly in June. Weddings speak of new beginnings, the promise of blossoms and new life to be produced through these new relationships.

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What has seemed dead for so long has come to life again in nature. This brings hope to heavy hearts that life can once again return to them. Senses are reawakened by this breath of life. It is time to shed the spirit of heaviness and receive the garment of praise from the Lord of all life. To allow His rain to shower us with blessings. To allow His love to soften the hard places in our hearts. To allow His joy to awaken new senses. To allow His peace swallow us up in His presence.

A time of renewal. What needs to be renewed in your life? Do you need to work on your prayer life? Your relationships? Your spiritual walk with God? Or do you need to review and revamp your business? Your career? Your job? Your marriage? Perhaps even your geographical location? Regardless of where your particular need lies, spring is a great time to make any changes necessary to improve life in any and every aspect. 

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Do you have a dream to awaken? Do you know what steps you must take in order to see that dream come to fruition? Is there something you have set aside for whatever reason that you know now is time to bring it back out of storage? There is no time like the present. There is no time like springtime.

Let’s together do a life-check to see if spring has come into our lives again this year. Let’s check where we need to do some weeding, fertilizing, watering, new planting, tilling of the soil of our hearts and lives. Now is the time. Now is the hour. Let’s be busy on improvements wherever we can. 

What is the Lord saying to your heart? Stop. Sit still. Listen. Ponder. Act.

I’m not sure what prompted me to write this, but here it is. I hope you have enjoyed reading it and I hope it has spurred you on to find your place of reawakening and blossoming so that, in the future, your life will provide a great harvest for the Lord.

Thank you so much for stopping by and reading. I would love it if you would leave a comment in the box below before you leave. And if you are not following me, please take an extra moment from your busy day to click on the “Follow” button at the top. You will receive an e-mail notification of each new post as it is published. Oh, and do feel free to browse previous posts.

I pray that you have been blessed with your visit and that you will come back soon. Please share with your friends on social media and/or through e-mail or word-of-mouth so the blessing can spread. I pray that you will have a blessed day and week filled with encounters with God.

Portrait by Dwayne

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AROUND THE WORLD AND BACK AGAIN

Anyone here ever heard of Kiribati? Have you ever been there? Neither have I. In fact I had never heard of it until a couple of years ago. And when I searched a map for it, it turned out to be on the tiniest island, only a dot, in the middle of the ocean, in the South Seas. No bigger than a pinpoint. Actually it is on Canton Island. And I have a strange “connection” with Kiribati.

December 23, 2010, I placed an order of skin care products from a company named L’Bri Pure N ‘Natural. I had been a distributor for this company for a few years, and this was the last order of that year for me. Actually it turned out to be the last order I ever placed as within a couple of months I could no longer keep up with the annual doubled quotas that were being set. The order did not arrive. I cannot now remember if I had them reship or if I may have even forgotten about the order. Probably not as some of the products would have been for customers, and I imagine the company resent the order to me eventually.

But where did that order go? Well, I would not find out for seven years. One day in January or February of 2017, the postal delivery buzzed me to come down to the lobby. He had a parcel for me. It surprised me as I did not recollect placing an order for anything. Down I went, and the first thing the postman said was that it looked rather battered. And it did. I should have taken a photo of it. But from the box I could not learn where it came from. Upon opening it, I saw the products, one of which had broken and leaked all over everything else. I checked the Customs declaration. It had come by Priority Mail. I looked more closely and discovered that, instead of being sent to London, Ontario, Canada, it had been addressed to London, Ontario, Canton Island (Kiribati). It had the correct postal code even. And the postal code is supposed to be enough for the parcel to be directed correctly.

But what happened between 2010 and 2017? I guess I will never know. But how it ever eventually arrived at my door is an even greater mystery to me. I really wish I could have traveled with that carton to see some of the places it went. The only explanation? You can see it on the label: Missent to Kiribati.

I think there is something to learn from the spiritual standpoint from this story. We must be directed to the right location. Are you heading for heaven? If not, you need to find out how to redirect your life onto the right route to get there. If you are expecting to get there whatever route you take, you may find out you are too late. The story in Matthew 25 about the 10 virgins confirms this. Five had enough oil for their lamps to last, but the other five had not taken extra. By the time they had gone out to remedy that situation, they returned to find out they were too late. How disheartening those two words would be. “Too late!” I want to make sure my life is directed to the right address. I don’t want any delays or detours or wrong destinations to jeopardize my arrival in heaven when my life here is completed. Check the “shipping address” on your life. Do you need to be redirected to the right location? It is simple enough to do. Just ask Jesus to forgive your sins and ask Him into your heart to take over the direction of your life. All it takes is a sincere heart to reach out to Him. Take a moment to check the address marked on your life. Where are you headed?

I hope you enjoyed my little story. Thank you for taking time to stop by and read it. I would very much appreciate it if you would leave a comment in the box below. Have you ever had anything similar happen to you? Please tell me about it. If you are not yet following me, please click on the “Follow” button at the top and you will receive e-mail updates when I publish new posts.

Have a wonderful day and a wonderful Mother’s Day this coming Sunday. May the God of all peace bless you with the peace that passes all understanding. Put your hand in His and let Him lead you.

PRAYER OF COVERING Part 7-The Armor of God

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Ephesians 6:10-18

We all know about the armor of God. We have read about it in the Book of Ephesians where the Apostle Paul explains to the church at Ephesus what this armor consists of. You have probably even seen small replicas or photos of the armor. I have heard people say we do not need to do warfare prayer. If that were so, then why do we need armor? Why do we need weapons? If the Lord did not intend for us to engage in spiritual warfare, He would not have provided the equipment to protect us and to fight with against our enemy. And He has more than adequately equipped us with all we need.

There is a danger here, however, and we must learn to understand just who our enemy is. Paul wanted the Ephesians to recognize that we do not fight against flesh and blood. We must not look at people as being the enemy though the enemy may be using them for his purposes. It is the spiritual forces and powers in this dark world that we must do battle with. Our weapons are spiritual so we may accomplish this and come out on the victory side. With God on our side, and when we choose His side, we cannot lose the war.

I have also heard it taught by many who would have us believe that we have no armor, no protection, for our backs. But the term “full armor” actually means panoply, or a complete covering. It means we are wrapped up in that armor. Can you even imagine a breastplate that only covers the front of the body? How would it stay on? Tied with a ribbon around the soldier’s neck? No, the breastplate has a front and a back so we are fully protected. Our God does not leave us vulnerable in any area. We only become vulnerable when we neglect to put on that armor, when we lay our weapons down.

Following is the final part of the Prayer of Covering.

May I always conduct my life with integrity, Lord—in full measure, innocent[ly[, blameless[ly], upright[ly] (see Proverbs 10:9).

I now put on the full armor of God—Jesus Christ Himself (see Romans 13:14)—that I may be able to stand strong today against all the schemes and trickery of the devil (see Ephesians 6:10-17). I put on the helmet of salvation—Jesus is my Salvation (see 1 Corinthians 1:30)—to protect my mind in every spiritual battle. I put on the breastplate of righteousness—Jesus is my righteousness (see 1 Corinthians 1:30)—to protect my heart, my spirit and my back from the onslaught and ambushes of the enemy. I wrap around me the belt of truth—Jesus is the Truth (see John 14:6)—to protect the workings of Your Spirit in my inner man so truth abides and prevails within me at all times. I put on my feet the shoes of the preparation of the gospel of peace—Jesus is the gospel (see 1 Thessalonians 3:2), and He is my peace (see Ephesians 2:14)—that I may be fully provided for and ready to go where You call me to go, refrain from going where You do not want me to go, and that wherever I go I will, as a peacemaker, take with me Your peace and the truth of the gospel. I choose to take up the shield of faith—Jesus is the Author and Finisher of my faith (see Hebrews 12:2)—He is my faith (see Ephesians 3:12 KJV)—and, according to Your Word, not one of the flaming darts of the enemy will be able to penetrate that shield but will all be extinguished. I take hold of the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God—Jesus is the Word (see John 1:1)—which “…is living and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). By the power of the name of Jesus I will use this sword to cut off from my life those things which are contrary to Your Word and Your purposes for my life. In the authority and truth of the Word of God I will use this sword to expose the lies and deceits of the enemy. By the power of the blood of Jesus I will use this sword to defuse and defeat the work of the devil in my life and in the lives of my family and friends. Motivated by Your love and in the power of the Holy Spirit I will use this sword to bring life and deliverance, hope and freedom to myself and others, and glory and honor to Your name. I take up the weapon of all-prayer in order to intercede in heaven’s courts and war on behalf of myself and others because Jesus, as my example, is at the right hand of God interceding for me (see Romans 8:34). I put on the armor of light—Jesus is the Light of the world (see Romans 13:12; John 9:5). I take up the weapons of righteousness (see 2 Corinthians 6:7). I put on the breastplate of faith and love—Jesus is love—(see 1 Thessalonians 5:8; 1 John 4:16). With these I go forth in victory into this day in the name of Jesus.

I hope you have enjoyed this series of posts on the Prayer of Covering. I have enjoyed sharing it with you and trust the Lord has blessed you and shown you how you can perhaps add this prayer, or a similar one you choose to pray for yourself, to your prayer life. I would like to be able to pray this prayer on a daily basis, but being an intercessor for my church, there is so much to pray for some days that I only have the time to pray it once in a while. But I do feel the power behind it when I do make the time, and it is never wasted time. I not only pray it for myself, but often for others, either specific people or for the whole church.

If you have not read the previous six posts in this series, please go here for the beginning. Click here for Part 2. Part 3 is here. You will find Part 4 here. Click here for Part 5 and Part 6.

I cannot give even an estimate of when my book “It Is Written: My Prayer Journey into the Heart of God”, from which this series is taken, will be published. It is my hope to be able to have it available before the end of 2019 or perhaps sooner. I will let you, my readers, know when it is published.

I thank you so much for taking time to read my posts. It means a lot to me. If they have blessed you, or if you have anything to add to what I have said, please feel free to leave a comment in the box below. Also feel free to share these posts with your friends on social media or through e-mail. I love to read your comments and I will respond to them. If you are not already following me, please take another moment to click on the “Follow” button at the top to receive e-mail notifications of new posts when they are published. If you have a little more time today, please browse through other posts to see what might interest you. Or come back again–as often as you like.

I pray God’s blessings on you throughout this coming week. May His joy be your strength from day to day.

PRAYER OF COVERING Part 6-The Memory, Attitudes and Motives

Memories can be good, but they can also be very destructive. Abusive words and actions can take root very deeply in our memory, both conscious and sub-conscious. They can be very difficult to root out, and they often leave a gaping wound in the heart, a wound that is hard to heal. And they have power to dictate our own words, actions and attitudes even years after becoming embedded in our minds. It takes an encounter with the Lord to heal that kind of wound and to erase the negative results from them. The best protection we have is the blood of Jesus. If we daily ask for the covering of the blood over our memories, we have a better chance of not being affected by them and also of protecting ourselves from adverse events becoming a stronghold in our minds. We need to learn how to make good memories to counter the not-so-good remembrances.

Our attitudes and motives influence our lives either for good or otherwise. And they can be greatly affected by our memories. When our memories take us into dark places, our attitudes and motives often sink down with them. We need to take active steps to prevent our thoughts from the negative. Memories are confined to our minds, but attitudes eventually spill over to others through our words and actions,and motives can adversely affect our treatment of others. When we develop wrong motives, others can be hurt. It is good to do regular attitude checks and to monitor our motives. Here again, the blood of Jesus is the answer to keep our attitudes and motives in line with the Word of God and His purposes for our lives. The blood is powerful and we must avail ourselves of that power daily.

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I claim the protecting power of the blood of Jesus over my memory. Consecrate my memories past and current, and reverse any damaging repercussions which have occurred because of them. Clear my mind, conscious and subconscious, of all memories which have occurred because of them. Clear my mind, conscious and subconscious, of all negative influence which has hindered my progress in Your ways. Help me to dwell on the good memories when I think about the past (see Proverbs 10:7). Help me to extract from every memory all that is beneficial to my life today, and to discard all that is unprofitable.

I claim the protection of the blood of Jesus over my attitudes, Lord. May my attitudes line up with Your Word. Help me in every area of my life to have the same attitude of humility, submission, servant-hood and love that Jesus displayed when He left heaven to be born in human form (see Philippians 2:5-8).

I claim the protection of the blood of Jesus over my motives. Your Word says that You weigh our motives (see Proverbs 16:2). Purify my motives, Lord, and root out all that are formed on a foundation other than Your Word: selfish motives, motives fueled by greed, wrong attitudes, mistaken understanding, wrong advice, misinterpreted concepts, misguided opinions, wrong information, anger, fear, bitterness, arrogance, jealousy, self-promotion, ungodly outside influence, old or current wounds I have not dealt with, complacency, or offenses or prejudices—personal or transferred from others. May my attitudes and motives be based solely on Your unbiased, unconditional, unlimited, unchanging love.

I hope in some way your spirit has resonated with this part of the prayer. I pray that we would all experience a renewal in our memories, attitudes and motives so our lives will continually line up with the principles the Lord has set before us. I pray for the protection of the blood of Jesus every day, every hour, every moment in each of our lives. I pray for the cleansing that comes from the blood. May we all walk the path the Lord has ordained for us as we become more and more like Jesus. He is coming again. May we all be ready.

Thank you so much for dropping by and reading this post. If this is your first time here, I hope you will browse through some of my other posts. If you have not already read the first five parts of this series, please click here for the first part; Part 2; Part 3Part 4; and Part 5. I would really appreciate it if you would leave a comment in the box below and I will respond to it. If you are new here, please introduce yourself and tell me a little bit about yourself. 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 new posts. 

I pray that you are having a great day walking in the footsteps of Jesus. May God bless you with abundant blessings and answer your deepest prayers.

PRAYER OF COVERING Part 5-The Emotions, Creativity and Will

I have grouped emotions, creativity and will into one, first because it is short, and secondly because they seem to fit together. Our creativity probably depends a lot on our emotional state and on our will. Do I want to create? Are my emotions stable enough to follow through with creative ideas?

When our emotions get out of control, we have a problem. We do not make wise decisions if we are overcome with anger, sadness, guilt, hopelessness, bitterness, or any other negative emotion. Our minds do not function in a rational manner but we think from the viewpoint of that emotion. We can even allow good emotions to run rampant and cloud our judgments. Some people hold in their emotions, either from fear of losing control or of what others will say or think. None of these possibilities is good. The Lord has made us emotional people for a purpose, but those emotions should be under the control of the Holy Spirit.

Our creativity comes because of the Divine Creator who has given us, as Christians, His Holy Spirit, a creative Spirit. But we can use our creativity for the wrong purposes as well. Our talents should be used for the glory of God and to be life-giving to others. It is our choice how we use that creativity.

Our will also has to be “tamed” so we can obey the Lord and choose to do His will rather than our own. The human will can be very stubborn at times. Like Lucifer, we say, “I will…” We make it all about “me” rather than about the Lord, and get ourselves into  a lot of scrapes and sometimes serious trouble because of that. So we need to pray to keep our emotions, creativity and will in line with divine purpose. So here is the prayer. If this is the first part you are reading, you might want to go back to the beginning and read each part in sequence: Prayer of Covering, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.

I claim the protection of the blood of Jesus over any ungodly emotions which may begin to rise up in me. Sanctify my emotions today, Lord. I pray that I will not yield to or act out of any ungodly or out-of-control emotions. Yet may my emotions not be stifled from healthy expression. Help me to respond to every situation as Jesus would. May the emotions I experience be pure in Your eyes.

I claim the protection of the blood of Jesus over my creativity. Sanctify my talents and giftings, Lord, so that all of my ideas and inspirations will be birthed by the Holy Spirit. Give me the knowledge, wisdom, understanding, tools, motivation, strategies, ability and perseverance I need to stir them up and carry them through to completion for Your glory (see 1 Timothy 4:14).

I claim the protection of the blood of Jesus over my will. Consecrate it so it may become one with Yours. Empower me to do Your will, Lord. May I willingly and deliberately abandon my own fleshly desires, opinions and will at the foot of the cross and leave them there permanently. Give me courage to always allow You to fulfill Your will in my life. May I never settle for anything less (see Mark 3:35). Help me to cooperate fully with what You are doing day by day in my life.

Amen!

I hope this has helped you in some way today. My main desire in posting on this blog is that I would bring life, hope, joy, encouragement to those who read it. I really appreciate my readers and thank you for faithfully coming back to read my latest posts. I enjoy hearing from you and learning a little about you and what you think about my writing. Please leave a comment in the box below and I will respond as soon as possible. If you are not yet following “For the Joy of Writing”, I hope you will take a moment to click on the “Follow” button at the top to receive e-mail notifications of new posts.

Again, I am so glad you chose to take a bit of your time to visit and read my post. I pray you will have a wonderful day. May the Lord bless you with His abundance, His love, His joy and His peace always. Until next time. Smile, because God loves you.

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.

IN THE SECRET PLACE OF THE LORD

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I have a secret to tell you.

Since I have been sharing some of my book, Shadows In My Valley, I have been thinking about the importance of spending time in the secret place of the Lord.

 

As I look back, I can see that I was searching for that place all the way through the valley. But I wonder now if I really knew what that even meant. Yes, it is a place apart where we can talk to the Lord and wait for Him to answer us, a place of solitude and sometimes even silence. But I think the secret part entails more, much more than I could have realized at that time.

 

What does secret really mean? My Gage Canadian Thesaurus says that, in part, it is “confidential, discreet, hidden, secluded”. Shall we look at these individual words to shed a little more light on the subject?

Confidential. When I think of this word, I think of something which should not be revealed to anyone else. Someone tells us a secret. They make it clear that it is to be kept secret. In other words, we must never even hint at it to another person. If we do, we have broken confidence with that person. We may be the cause of hurting others. We may be labeled ‘untrustworthy’.

Discreet goes along with confidential. The one telling the secret must be very cautious about who he tells the secret to, and the one receiving the secret must also be very careful to act with discretion. These things are to be kept hidden.

What do these things have to do with being in the secret place of the Lord?

 

  • Sometimes the Lord speaks His secrets to us, for our ears only. I remember years ago listening to a radio program and the preacher made a comment I have never forgotten: If you reveal something too soon, it could abort God’s purposes. I know I do not want to be guilty of doing that.

  • It may be that the Lord reveals something to us through the Word about someone with a particular need. What do we do with this? We pray. The Lord will show us whether and when we should share it with the person involved.

  • The Lord may choose, by revelation through the Holy Spirit, through dreams or through visions, to use us, in prayer, to help another person in an area of difficulty. Do we immediately run to that person and tell them about it? Usually it would be best to pray about it in the secret place until the Lord releases us to share it. There may never be a time to reveal it, or it may be some time in the future. If the Lord indicates it needs to be revealed right away, He will show us in some concrete way that we should do so.

  • Sometimes a friend will entrust us with a personal prayer request which they wish to be kept secret. We must honor that and keep it to ourselves, not with not even a hint to others about it. 

  • We may discover something about a person through their actions, attitudes or words. Unless there is cause to report something which may be of concern regarding the situation  to church leadership, we should keep these things between us and the Lord. That person may never know we prayed, but that does not matter. What matters is our faithfulness.

  • Perhaps someone comes to us for counsel. What they tell us must be kept confidential. Think how we would feel if we spoke our need in confidence, trusting the person we shared with, only to discover it had been passed on or even hinted at to others?

We must keep these things in the hidden place. We speak to the Lord about them in the secret place as we spend time in prayer. We seek Him in the seclusion of our prayer closet for revelation as to how to counsel, how to pray for specific needs, how and when to share with the person involved.

What made me think about these things just now? Well, if you read my post “The Story Behind Shadows In My Valley”, you will remember the woman I called Mary. If you haven’t read it yet, click here for part 1, here for part 2 and here for part 3. Mary had a habit of telling me and others about how the Lord would wake her up in the night to tell her terrible things about certain people. She stressed the terrible part a little too much. She always noted that it was so she could pray, but I questioned her motives nonetheless. I did not need to hear anything about those things. They were secrets the Lord had shared with Mary, if indeed they did come from the Lord and not from her own knowledge or imagination. It always bothered me when she did this, but I did not have the boldness to confront her about it. I think it was a lot to do with her pride, some need to be looked at as holding some special position with God.

It did teach me a lesson, though. When I was a young Christian, I did not always use discretion by keeping things to myself as I should have. I had not learned that yet. Occasionally, I would ‘innocently’ share, usually with only one person, a prayer request intended to go no further than my ears. It seemed a good thing. After all, I was recruiting extra prayers for the person in need. It took me a while to learn my lesson, that the point was not to get others praying, but to be trustworthy in my lifestyle. But I did finally see the necessity to change. The Lord convicted me and I recognized that for Him to trust me with His secrets, I must be faithful to keep the secrets of other people. And I did want to be found dependable in God’s eyes. And so I learned to keep secrets. I learned, because of Mary, that it was not acceptable to even hint that a secret may have been shared with me. Nothing is gained by doing so, and trust and friendship may be damaged or destroyed in the doing. 

And so I chose to be faithful to the Lord, to be one whom He can trust with any secret. I pray I will never disappoint Him in this.

I hope you have enjoyed my musings tonight. Thank you for stopping by and reading my post. I would really appreciate it if you would leave a comment in the box below. Don’t be shy. I will respond to your comments. And 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 new posts. I promise I will not overload you. I try to post one or two articles a week. Please feel free to share my posts on your social media and with your friends.

I pray that you will have a wonderful day and a great week. May the Lord bless you and keep you and give you great joy and peace.

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.

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.