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Welcome to Amazing God Stories!  Christian allegories, parables, analogies, fiction short stories as well as creative nonfiction stories that show the variety of amazing ways God has been working in my life. And if He has done all this for me, I can only imagine what He’s been doing for you!

My top three goals are simple:

#3.  To brighten your day with a little entertainment, for you to leave feeling a bit better than when you arrived.

#2.  To inspire you to keep on keeping on in your own walk with God.  God is working in your life as much as He’s working in mine. Maybe something I’ve learned or experienced will help you get through a rough patch or to grow in your own desire to know God.

And the #1 reason: To glorify God – to acknowledge and thank Him for all the ways He has been faithful to me! From the day I met Him, He has been by my side. He’s been my Friend, Coach, Counselor, Father, Teacher, Comforter, Defender,  Provider, and a million other things.

This blog is my way to shout to the world that GOD IS AMAZING!

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If my stories do what I hope they will do – like, comment, follow, and/or share them!

It would mean a lot to me to to know that they are being read and to hear what you think!

 

 

Little By Little: A Warning, Part 4 of 4 (Based on a Dream, June 25, 2021)

Mallory sat at the kitchen table, chin resting on her hands. Glumly she thought about her house, or what her house had become. She no longer recognized it. Over the last six months, Jag had made his mark in every room, and was beginning to hint that he needed her bedroom to house the rest of his family when they arrived.  She knew she had to make Jag and his siblings leave. But there were too many of them to physically force them out.

Mallory had gone to the police only to be told there was nothing they could do. She was the one who had invited him to move in and to make himself at home without any sort of lease. Once his mailing address had been established at her house – done when his siblings had written to him – he was in effect a tenant. And tenants had to be evicted. That required a lengthy process involving formal notices and court hearings. In the meantime, as long as he didn’t damage the property, Jag had the right to privacy and the freedom to do what he wanted, including letting family members move in. When she had complained that he had sold her personal items and kept the money, she had not been able to prove it so the police could do nothing about that either.

Sighing, Mallory got up and looked around. How did she end up where she was? Living in a house that seemed like it was no longer hers, at the mercy of strangers and helpless to change it? Regrets filled her with cold despair. So many things she should have done.

She should have made Jag sign a lease when he first moved in.

She should have limited the rooms he had access to.

She should have stopped him the first time he overstepped his boundaries.

She should have involved the law as soon as he messed with her personal property.

She should have made his sister leave instead of leaving the door open for more siblings to join them.

She should have been more assertive and less understanding.

But how was she supposed to know how far he would go? She would never have done to anyone what he had to her. Now it was too late. All she could do was accept the reality of what her home had become, and hope someday, after a long, difficult battle, to get it back.

Matthew 7:15

 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.

Little By Little: A Warning, Part 3 of 4 (Based on a Dream, June 25, 2021)

Mallory stood at the entrance to her living room, stunned. Her furniture was gone. All of it. From the softly padded recliner couch and elegant glass-topped coffee table to the six-foot wooden bookcase and large wall painting – everything had been replaced with cheap thrift store pieces. A long piece of driftwood stood where her grandfather clock had been. In place of her thick floral area rug lay a threadbare remnant. The walls were bare except for a curling poster of a band she had never heard of.

Anger built in her as the shock wore off. Jag! It had to be him. Who else had the lack of respect for her things as he did? Ever since he had tossed her boxes of memories into the dump a few months ago, she had been watching him closely but he had shown no signs of removing anything else. Other than giving her excuse after excuse for not moving out, and constantly forgetting to clean up behind himself, he had been a decent guest. Until today.

“Jag!”  she called down the hallway. “Jag! We need to talk!”

The door to the guest room opened and Jag stepped out, closing the door behind him. “You’re back?”

“Yes, I’m back.” Mallory motioned to the living room. “Did you do this?”

“You’re back early,” he said as he sauntered towards the kitchen. “I wasn’t expecting you until tomorrow.”

“Come back here. We need to talk.”

Jag continued walking. “Sure, but first I need a drink.”

“No! Now.” Mallory’s voice shook with tension. She didn’t like confrontations, and she had overlooked some of his behavior to avoid them, but this was too big to ignore. “What did you do to my living room?”

“Our living room.” Jag said as he disappeared around the corner.

Our living room? Mallory stood facing the kitchen, indecisive. Should she follow him and force the discussion? Wouldn’t that send the message that he was in charge? She didn’t want that, but waiting meekly for him could also send the same message. The sound of a hallway door opening interrupted her thoughts. With heart racing, she whirled around.  If Codee was at work, and Jag was in the kitchen, who was in the hallway?

She didn’t have to wait long to find out. A head covered with dark brown curls peeked out around the corner and called out softly, “Jag?” When she caught sight of Mallory, she gasped and withdrew back into the bedroom.

A woman? Jag had a woman in his bedroom?

Seething now, Mallory started for the kitchen but was met by Jag carrying two bottles of water.

“Jag –“ she started, but he cut her off.

“Just a minute. I’ll be right back.”

Mallory watched him walk to his room, hand one bottle through the doorway, and then walk back to her, all with a smug smile on his nonchalant face.

“Yes? Is something wrong?” he asked as he continued past her into the living room. Sitting on the worn out couch, he put his feet up on the battered coffee table, leaned back, and clasped his hands behind his head. “What do you need to talk about?”

“What… where… how…” Mallory sputtered, not knowing where to start. She raised her hands in an all-encompassing gesture. “This!”

“Do you like it? It was all free.” Jag continued smiling.

“But what did you do with the furniture that was already here?” Mallory stopped. No! He couldn’t have! Not wanting to know but having to, she asked “You didn’t dump it, did you?”

“Of course not. That stuff was worth some money.”

“So where is it?”

“I sold it.”

Mouth open, Mallory stared at him. He stared back, unfazed.

Closing her eyes, she tried to control her anger. “Why?” she finally managed to squeeze through clenched teeth.

“I needed the money.”

“But it wasn’t yours to sell.” Loss filled her as she opened her eyes and looked around.

“Sure it was. I live here, too. Besides, you have so much, I figured you wouldn’t miss a few pieces.”

“You’re wrong on both accounts. You may live here, but it’s my house. MY house. You’re just a guest. And I do miss my “few pieces”. It took me years to save up to buy that furniture. And for you just to sell it while I’m out of town for a few days, how dare you?”

“Calm down. It’s just furniture. It’s not like I sold your dog. If you’re not happy, you can just buy more.”

“That’s not the point. You sold what wasn’t yours. Where’s the money? That’s not yours either.”

“I gave it to my family. Things are really hard for them right now. I figured they needed it more than we do.”

“Didn’t you think you should have at least asked first? I might have been able to loan…” Mallory stopped as a crash came from Jag’s bedroom. Pointing towards the hallway, she demanded, “Who is in your room?”

“My sister. She lost her house and I told her she could live with me.”

“But…”

“Don’t worry. I got her a separate bed.” Jag got up. “I’ll go see what happened. I told her not to try moving the TV by herself.”

Mallory sank on a nearby tattered armchair. She wished she had never invited Jag to stay with her. Even though he had had a good reason for what he had done, it didn’t justify his actions. She wanted him – and his sister – to leave. But with nowhere else to go, they would end up on the street, and she couldn’t force herself to do that. She had to find another way. Maybe his sister would be more cooperative, and then, in turn, influence him to show more respect.

Mallory got up and headed for Jag’s room. It was worth a shot.

Matthew 7:15

 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.

Little By Little, A Warning Part 2 of 4 (Based on a Dream, June 25, 2021)

“You can’t do that. Those were my boxes.” Mallory stood facing Jag, hands on her waist.

Jag looked up from his lunch. “It’s my room, my things,” he answered smoothly. “If you wanted them, you should have moved them last month like you said you would.”

“I’ve been busy, and there’s really nowhere else. The attic already if already filled with Codee’s things.”

“That’s not my problem.” Jag took another bite of his sandwich.

“Not your problem? Of course it’s your problem. You got rid of something that wasn’t yours. What did you do with them?”

“I took them to the dump.”

“You WHAT?” Mallory roared. Taking a deep breath, she lowered her voice and said through gritted teeth, “Get them back.”

“Can’t.” Jag stood up. “There’s been several storms since I dumped them. They’re trash now.” Leaving his plate and glass on the table, he headed for his room. “You’re better off without them, anyway. Trust me.”

Mallory stared at the forgotten plate, trying to grasp the loss of her childhood memories. Among the contents of those boxes had been photographs, cherished toys, favorite books, her grandmother’s quilt, and yearbooks dating all the way back to elementary school. None of it could be replaced.

The tickle of tears on her cheeks woke her from her nostalgia. Wiping them away, she took a deep breath. Maybe it was all for the best. She hadn’t opened those boxes in years. If they had been as important to her as she thought, wouldn’t she have done something with them by now? Jag was probably right. She was better off without the clutter. All she really needed were her memories.

Matthew 7:15

 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.

Little By Little, A Warning Part 1 of 4 (Based on a Dream, June 25, 2021)

“Are you sure you’re okay with me staying with you for a while?” the man asked as he shifted from foot to foot at the bottom of the steps.

“You are very welcome here. Where else are you going to go?” Mallory answered, holding open the front door. “Besides, there’s plenty of room here. Come on in.”

“Thank you.” He climbed the few steps and, tipping his head at Mallory as he passed her, took a step into the small foyer.

Mallory closed the door gently before moving around him. “While you’re here, feel free to make yourself at home. When Codee called telling me you need a place to stay for a few weeks, I was thrilled to help.” She led him into the living room. “What’s your name? Codee told me but I don’t think I heard it correctly.”

“It’s Jagjit.”

“Yup, that’s what she said. That’s an unusual name. Where –“

 “My father had a thing for odd names,” he interrupted. “Call me Jag.”

“Okay, Jag. Would you like something to eat or drink before I show you your room?”

“No, thanks. I ate at the shelter before coming here. Codee was very kind.”

“Yes, she is.” Mallory pointed through a doorway. “Your room is this way.”

As Mallory led Jag down a long hallway, she pointed to the first door on the left. “That’s the bathroom. I usually use the master bathroom so you and Codee will pretty much have this one to yourselves.” She stopped at the next door. “And this will be your room. I want to apologize ahead of time for its condition. I kind of used it for storage, but the bed is comfortable and I put fresh sheets on it this morning.”

“It sounds great.” Jag sighed. “Just being off the street is enough. I don’t need any fancy rooms.”

Mallory opened the door and motioned for Jag to enter first. “Well, don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

Jag’s eyes wandered around the room and he let out a soft whistle. “This is for me?”

Mallory nodded towards the side wall. “Yes. Sorry for the boxes. I tried to keep them to that one wall so you would have plenty of room to get around. As soon as I can, I’ll move them to another area although I’m not sure where yet. They contain-“

“It doesn’t matter,” Jag cut her off. “They don’t bother me. This bed is all I need.”

Mallory frowned, irritated at being interrupted again. “Well, maybe. But it bothers me. You shouldn’t have to deal with it.” She noticed he was still standing just inside the doorway. “Please, make yourself comfortable. There’s a table by the window where you can set your backpack. And there are towels in the bathroom for you to freshen up. I’ll be in the kitchen. You might not be hungry but I am. Join me whenever you’re ready. ” Mallory took one more look at the stacks of boxes, and then turned to go. But before she went through the doorway, she caught a glimpse of Jag dropping his dirty backpack on the freshly cleaned carpet as he headed for the bed.

“So much for following directions,” she mumbled.  “But maybe he’s just tired, poor guy.”

Matthew 7:15

 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.

Finding the Truth, An Allegory Based on a Dream

Syretia felt confused as she looked out at the crowded room. The people, calling out a variety of conflicting information just moments before, now sat restlessly in the lined up chairs, all facing her in expectation. Wanting to leave the stage, but knowing she couldn’t yet, Syretia instead allowed her mind to wander back to how she got there.

It seemed to be a lifetime ago when she had been happily ignorant of the rest of the world as she happily went about her own daily life in her small town. She knew important decisions and bitter debates were happening in every country, but none of that seemed to touch her personally, and so she took care of her ever-changing garden. Sometimes the roses seemed to dominate the garden, their sweet scents mingling to create a beautifully unique aroma. Sometimes it was the sunflowers in bloom that demanded her attention. Their majestically large sunny faces filled her heart with wonder. How could any flower be that big? Other times, it was the small Creeping Phlox with its multitude of tiny purple, blue, and pink flowers that caught her attention. Whether on her hands and knees studying the tiny petals up close, or gazing at the colorful carpet from a distance, those tiny blooms were impressive.

She spent hours each day watering, weeding, and talking to her beloved flowers. She didn’t mind the hard work because the bountiful reward was so much greater than the effort she put into maintaining her garden. And she was delighted by how  it brought smiles to the faces of the people who walked or drove by each day.

And then one day that all changed.

Syretia had watched the approach of the storm with excitement. She loved watching lightning dance in the sky and listening to the thunder boom their applause. She loved watching the raindrops race each other down her window. And she loved the freshness a good storm left behind after cleaning the air.

But this was a storm like no other. Strong winds blew in even stronger gusts, uprooting trees and snapping branches. Garbage cans, plastic lawn chairs, loosened shingles, and cardboard boxes rushed down the street as if running from something huge and frightening. Lightning flashed like strobe lights, their zig zagging lines penetrating the sky in every direction. The incredible roar of the pelting rain hitting cars, sidewalks, and rooftops was so loud it almost drowned out the constantly exploding thunder.

Syretia hid in her closet, and prayed that the storm would pass quickly without causing great damage. She prayed for her garden, and for those of her neighbors. She prayed for people who were hiding in their own closets, and for those who didn’t have closets to hide in. She prayed for the cowering animals outside, seeking in vain for shelter, and she prayed for inside animals, trembling in fear in the arms of their owners.

Eventually the winds abated, the rain lightened, and the sound of thunder faded away. Syretia cautiously emerged from her closet. The house appeared to have escaped damage. Sighing with relief, Syretia went to the window and gasped. He garden lay in ruins. The strong winds had broken the sunflower stalks. The heavy rain had washed the roses from their stems. And the Phlox lay drowning under water that had overflowed the street. She wanted to rush outside, but until the flood went down, it would be impossible to do anything in her beloved garden.

While waiting for her garden to dry, Syretia heard of a man who was speaking in the town hall about ways to salvage and build back devastated gardens. Curious, and needing the information for her own garden, she walked eleven blocks through ankle deep water for the opportunity to learn and to ask him questions. She wasn’t the only one. By the time she got there, the room was in chaos. Most people were sitting in the chairs facing the stage in rows, but many were moving about the room. All were yelling, arguing, name calling, and criticizing each other as the man stood on stage trying to speak.

Syretia tried to make sense of what she heard as she walked down the left side of the chairs.

“Everyone needs to use the RBG Drying Agent. The liquid form of RBG will save plants still under water. By injecting it into the stem, it will keep the roots from rotting.”

“That’s experimental. No one really knows the long-term effect that a drying agent will have on the roots.”

“Nonsense. Thousands of plants were tested, and all turned out fine.”

“I heard the roots got soft anyway so it doesn’t really make a difference whether it’s used or not.”

“That’s not true. Although some roots did get soft, they weren’t as soft as they would have been without the RBG. Besides, they returned to normal after a few weeks and are doing great.”

 “Well, you can inject your plants, but mine will be fine without it. Even if they get a little root rot, it won’t be bad enough for permanent damage.”

“Your recklessness is going to kill all our gardens. It’s been proven that RBG prevents the spread of root rot to plants not yet affected. By not treating your plants, you put everyone else’s plants at risk.”

“How do you know which plants will have root rot and which don’t? Or how bad it will get? Most of the time plants can survive under water for short periods without much if any damage. You’re succumbing to the fear planted by false advertising. Of course the RBG manufacturers want you to use their product. They are making millions of dollars, and they are using fear to control people so they can make more. First it was one injection, but soon it will be regular injections to keep the rot from returning. You just wait and see.”

“You’re stupid for believing that hogwash. If every plant got RBG now, root rot would be eliminated and there would be no need for further treatment. Your uncaring attitude is going to make this disaster last forever.”

Tired of the heated exchange that was going nowhere, Syretia moved on to different group. She wanted to find out facts, not opinions. Maybe this new group would provide more substance.

“You have to wear rubber gloves when you’re in your garden, not those cloth ones.”

 “Rubber gloves are too thick. They make it harder to do things. I prefer to use my bare hands.”

“But everyone knows the storm pulled most of the positive protons from the earth leaving an unbalanced number of negative electrons. By walking you become negatively charged which could result in a shock when you touch your plants. 

“That’s just a theory. I don’t wear gloves in my garden or anywhere else and I haven’t been shocked. Nope. I prefer living my life as normal as possible.”

“How selfish of you! The gloves are not just for you. They are also to keep the plants safe. Apparently you don’t care how many plants you shock by not wearing them!”

“Spoken by an ignorant fool! Regular rubber gloves – the kind we have access to – don’t protect anything.”

“Lies!”

“Besides it’s not that bad. Most plants never feel any shocks. Those that do, get over it just fine. And once a plant’s been shocked, its charge becomes balanced and shocking is no longer a problem. That’s going to happen to all my plants eventually.”

“Even someone as stupid as you must have heard the numbers. Plants everywhere are dying from these shocks.”

“That’s because weak root systems can’t handle severe shocks. And relatively speaking, that only includes only a small percentage of my garden.”

“It’s not just those with weak roots. Lots of other plants are dying too. I hope you can sleep at night knowing how many flowers you’re killing by refusing to wear your gloves.

“I’m not killing anything. Plants that are at risk are the ones that need the protection. Not the whole garden. And just so you know, I do wear gloves when around those. If you want to wear gloves, go for it. Just don’t require everyone to do what you do. Or judge those who think differently than you.”

“Your incredibly self-centeredness is astounding…”

Syretia had heard enough. She walked across the front of the room hoping to find discussions that were more objective on the other side. She didn’t. What she heard were opinions, accusations of misinformation, lies, and judgments just as she had heard on the first side. This side, though, were talking about the man on the stage, and about the way he got there. Some thought he had been asked, others thought he had bullied his way there. Syretia didn’t know but was curious. How HAD the man gotten to be the lone figure on the stage?

Suddenly there was a lot of commotion as people moved from one place to another, yelling out opinions and seeking those who shared them. Syretia found herself being squeezed closer and closer to the steps leading to the stage as people pushed past her. To escape, she climbed the half dozen steps and found herself face to face with the man. He motioned to the crowd. “Your turn,” he said. “It’s going to be a challenge,” and then disappeared down the steps as someone appeared from behind the curtain, took her arm, and guided her to the front with the words, “You want to save your garden? Don’t leave until you get to the truth,” before disappearing behind the curtain again.  

Confused, Syretia stared out at the crowd. She watched as they quickly took whichever seat was closest. The people, calling out a variety of conflicting information just moments before, now sat restlessly in their chairs, all facing her in expectation. She knew what she chose to believe was going to affect how she worked in her garden, and maybe even influence others who were also searching for truth about their gardens. “But how do I get to the truth? How can I know who’s telling the truth?” she asked under her breath. “They are all so sure of themselves.”

And then she had it.

Ask questions!

“It’s not like a buffet where I pick and choose the most appealing to put on my plate. It’s not about who’s the loudest or how often it’s repeated. And it’s not about loyalty to favored people. It’s like pulling weeds – and that’s done through asking questions.”

Questions like… Why do you believe what you believe? Where did you get your information? Did you check to make sure it was totally correct before sharing it? Does it make sense when compared to other facts? Are there hidden motives and agendas that would cause what you say to become suspect? How accurate have you been on other things you’ve said? Are you trying to manipulate me by using fear, guilt, or threats? Will what you say match what I find when I research it?

Confident now, Syretia smiled. “I have some questions for you.”



In this time when many falsehoods, misinformation, and outright lies are being circulated causing conflict and division, it’s good to remember what the Bible has to say about seeking wisdom and truth, and about foolishness.

Psalm 111:10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever!

Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Proverbs 12:15 The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.

Proverbs 14:8 The wisdom of the prudent is to discern his way, but the folly of fools is deceiving.

Proverbs 15:14 The heart of him who has understanding seeks knowledge, but the mouths of fools feed on folly.

Proverbs 18:2 A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.

Proverbs 26:12 Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.

Proverbs 18:15 An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.

James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

Proverbs 2:1-22 The Value of Wisdom

My son, if you receive my words
    and treasure up my commandments with you,
making your ear attentive to wisdom
    and inclining your heart to understanding;
yes, if you call out for insight
    and raise your voice for understanding,
if you seek it like silver
    and search for it as for hidden treasures,
then you will understand the fear of the Lord
    and find the knowledge of God.
For the Lord gives wisdom;
    from his mouth come knowledge and understanding;
he stores up sound wisdom for the upright;
    he is a shield to those who walk in integrity,
guarding the paths of justice
    and watching over the way of his saints.
Then you will understand righteousness and justice
    and equity, every good path;
10 for wisdom will come into your heart,
    and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul;
11 discretion will watch over you,
    understanding will guard you,
12 delivering you from the way of evil,
    from men of perverted speech,
13 who forsake the paths of uprightness
    to walk in the ways of darkness,
14 who rejoice in doing evil
    and delight in the perverseness of evil,
15 men whose paths are crooked,
    and who are devious in their ways.

16 So you will be delivered from the forbidden[a] woman,
    from the adulteress[b] with her smooth words,
17 who forsakes the companion of her youth
    and forgets the covenant of her God;
18 for her house sinks down to death,
    and her paths to the departed;[c]
19 none who go to her come back,
    nor do they regain the paths of life.

20 So you will walk in the way of the good
    and keep to the paths of the righteous.
21 For the upright will inhabit the land,
    and those with integrity will remain in it,
22 but the wicked will be cut off from the land,
    and the treacherous will be rooted out of it.

Don’t Get Bit

The water looks so inviting. The colors are amazing, and on a hot day, the thought of how refreshing it will feel is almost more than I can resist.

And yet, I know to stay out of it.

I know danger lurks beneath its dazzling emerald invitation even though I can’t see it.

I know… because the flags tell me.

Yellow is a warning to be careful, and purple warns of dangerous marine life in the water.

I could still go in, but that wouldn’t be good for me. I might even be fine for a while, but sooner or later I will get stung by a jellyfish, punctured by a stingray, or bitten by a sea snake.

The danger is real whether I can see it from where I stand or not.

Knowing of the danger, I have a choice. I can continue to stare at the water, imagining the pleasure of soaking in its coolness, splashing in the waves, and floating up and down on the swells, thus making myself sad or angry – or worse, talking myself into going in anyway,

or I can choose to focus on the refreshing cool breeze as I hunt shells or build sand structures.

It reminds me of life, and how God has warned us to stay out of places that could turn around and bite us. He doesn’t tell us not to swim in order to make our day miserable. He tells us to keep us safe.

In His Word, He has warned us to stay away from sexual immorality, idolatry, adultery, homosexuality, stealing, greed, drunkenness, reviling, swindling, devotion to mythology and genealogies,  enslaving, lying, perjury, impurity, sensuality, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, malice, deceit, hypocrisy, slander, orgies, and things like these (1 Cor 6:8-10; 1 Tim 1:3-10; Gal 5:19-21; 1 Peter 2:1).

I could focus on that list, imagining how good they would make me feel, how I have the right to respond in those ways when others mistreat me, and how some aren’t really that bad, thus making myself sad or angry – or worse, reasoning my way or letting others talk me into participating in them anyway,

or I can choose to focus on my relationship with God as I look for ways to spread His love to others.

Everything on that list involves putting self ahead of God and ahead of other people, which is opposite of what Jesus said.

Jesus gave us only two commands: Love God above all, and love others as He loves us. (Luke 10:27). If we put God and His ways above everything else – seeking His kingdom first (Matt 6:33) – and if we seek the good of others before our own good (Philippians 2:3-4) – we won’t be doing anything on that list. We won’t have time for anything on that list. We won’t even have to memorize that list, or any other list that can be found in the Bible.

Those who follow Jesus’ two commandments don’t even need that list.

Let’s be what Jesus has called us to be – His disciples. Let’s adopt the same mindset of Jesus (Phillipians 2:5-8).

Let’s not get bit.


Philippians 2:3-8  Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among you, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

1 Tim 1:3-11 As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain in Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith. The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wondered away into vain discussions, desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions. Now we know the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with whom I have been entrusted.

Galatians 5:16-24 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

1 Cor 6:12-20  “All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful to me,” but I will not be dominated by anything. “Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food” – and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by this power. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.” But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you know know your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

Galatians 5:14  For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Luke 10:27 And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”

John 15:12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.

Is Unity a Salad or a Cake?

What is unity?

I’ve been hearing a lot about unity from the White House over the last month. I thought I knew what that was, but, based on what I’ve seen lately, I started thinking maybe my definition of unity was flawed. So I looked it up.

According to an online dictionary, unity can mean 1. the absence of diversity, of having unvaried or uniform character; 2. oneness as in combining all parts into one whole; or 3. oneness of mind and feeling among people where they live in harmony or agreement.

I wasn’t surprised with definitions #2 and #3 because that’s how I understood unity – people living in harmony together, agreeing to disagree when viewpoints differed, but ultimately accepting each other as valued parts of a whole. Unity like this can be likened to a large salad – each ingredient remaining identifiable, yet together creating a marvelous meal.

What I didn’t expect to see was definition #1. Absence of diversity? Unvaried or uniform character? That would be like cake batter in which most ingredients lose their individual identity when combined, disappearing in the uniform mixture they create. What would this kind of unity look like in this country? Who decides what that unvaried or uniform character would be? As I think about the increasing suppression of conservative viewpoints and intolerance of Christian beliefs that’s been happening in our country, and all the more since the election, the more alarming this has become to me. When the democrats speak of unity, is this the definition they’re using? Is this what Biden means when he keeps talking about unity? That would explain a lot concerning his actions and the direction this country is going.

I think I know what conservatives believe about unity.

I am beginning to understand what liberals may mean by unity.

But what does God say about unity? Which of the three definitions above does God mean? Or does He have His own definition? I did a search for the word unity on a Bible app and only came up with a handful of scriptures. Looking at the original Greek or Hebrew words didn’t help answer my question this time. Different words were used, and each definition could be interpreted in several ways, which is illustrated in different Bible translations.

Ps. 133:1  A Song of Ascents. Of David. Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! (ESV)

Ps. 133:1 A Davidic song of ascents. How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony! (HCSB)

in harmony!
יָֽחַד׃ (yā·ḥaḏ)
Adverb
Strong’s Hebrew 3162: A unit, unitedly

Job 10:8  Your hands shaped me and altogether formed me. Would you now turn and destroy me? (BSB)  

Job 10:8 Your hands have made me and fashioned me, an intricate unity; yet you would destroy me. (NKJV)

and altogether
יַ֥חַד (ya·ḥaḏ)
Adverb
Strong’s Hebrew 3162: A unit, unitedly

Col 3:14 Above all, put on love – the perfect bond of unity.

of perfect unity.
τελειότητος (teleiotētos)
Noun – Genitive Feminine Singular
Strong’s Greek 5047: Perfectness, perfection, maturity. From teleios; completeness.

Eph 4:1-3  I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

Eph 4:13  …till we all come to the unity of the faith…

unity
ἑνότητα (henotēta)
Noun – Accusative Feminine Singular
Strong’s Greek 1775: Oneness, unity, unanimity. From heis; oneness, i.e. unanimity.

1 Pet 3:8  Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. (ESV)

1 Pet 3:8 Finally, all of you, be like-minded and sympathetic, love as brothers, be tenderhearted and humble.

 [be] like-minded
ὁμόφρονες (homophrones)
Adjective – Nominative Masculine Plural
Strong’s Greek 3675: Of one mind (intent, purpose), like-minded. From the base of homou and phren; like-minded, i.e. Harmonious.

Are we, then, supposed to choose our own definition of unity? Knowing God like I do, I don’t think He would leave us in the dark in an area that is clearly important in how we are to live. And I was right. I found a whole chapter describing unity.

1 Cor 12:1-30 (NKJ) Spiritual Gifts: Unity in Diversity

Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant: you know that you were Gentiles, carried away to these dumb idols, however you were led. Therefore I make it known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed, and no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit. There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills. For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body – whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free – and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. For in fact the body is not one member but many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. And if they were all one member, where would the body be? But now indeed there are many members, yet one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty, but our presentable parts have no need. But God composed the body, having given the greater honor to the part which lacks it, that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually. And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way.

Unity, therefore, is both oneness and diversity. We acknowledge our differences, not hide, remove, suppress, or attack them. We find the value in each other, and work together as a whole.

This can be applied to our country also. In order to be a strong, whole, functioning, and healthy nation, we have need for everyone – conservatives and liberals, republicans and democrats.

We need each other’s strengths, ideas, and contributions.

We need both ears in order to hear clearly, or what we hear will be distorted.

We need both eyes in order to see clearly, or we lose our depth perception. We also have blind spots that only the other side can see.

We need all body parts doing what only they can do in order to be a fully functioning body.

Let’s listen to each other – really listen and not let out biases color what we hear. Let’s seek to find value in each other. Let’s work together to understand rather than condemn. Let’s pray for each other, holding each other up instead of tearing each other down.

Then, and only then, will America be the great nation we all want.

Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! (Ps. 133:1  A Song of Ascents. Of David.)

A Penny of Great Value

Sheila contemplated the coin in her hand. The little golden disc, not worth much in the world, was worth something to her. The thrill of spotting its glint in the gutter a few minutes ago as she made her way down the sidewalk still bubbled within her. She had seen pennies before, but there was something different about this one. Somehow she felt a great value connected to it that differentiated it from the myriads of others readily available. Not understanding what that value was but knowing she would not be spending this one, she tucked it carefully in her jacket’s inner pocket – the one closest to her heart – and continued her journey.

Several weeks later, Sheila again contemplated, but this time it was water which captured her attention. Not the beautiful water that surrounded her, but the murky water that covered the bottom of her small boat.

She could feel the gentle rock as small waves lapped at the sides of her boat, none of which were big enough to splash over those sides. The water had not come from there. She glanced at her water jug – nope, it had not spilled. Had the water been there when she entered the boat, leftover from the previous day’s rain? No, she would surely have noticed the touch of icy water sloshing over her toes. Too much water would sink her boat but, thankfully, it wasn’t near deep enough for that. Maybe she should ignore it and just enjoy her time on the lake. She picked up her oars but stopped when she felt cold water cover her foot. Alarm bells rang in her mind as panic rose in her heart. The water level was increasing. It had to be a leak. But how? She hadn’t run into anything. At least nothing she knew of. And she hadn’t dropped anything heavy enough to cause damage. No weak areas had been found during its maintenance check last… last… Sheila had been so busy with life, she couldn’t remember the last time she had had the boat serviced. She had been told how important it was to maintain her boat. Her safety, maybe even her life, depended on it. Now she was paying the price for her neglect.

Heart racing, Sheila calculated the rate the boat was filling against the distance back to the dock. If she rowed fast enough, pushing the oars in deep enough, could she might make back in time to hoist it up before it sank? No, rowing that fast and hard would require more strength than she had. She would have to stop the leak now, before heading back. First, she had to find the source of the leak. Hopefully it was small enough to plug it with something, although she had no idea what. Sheila ran her finger along the bottom of the boat. Even after several minutes, she couldn’t feel anything that could signify a leak. Now what?

Slowly, a video she had recently watched came to her mind. In it, someone had described how the movement of the water under the boat can sometimes reveal the spot where the water was entering. Sheila cringed. That would require jumping into that ice cold water without a wet suit. Desperate now, she felt along the bottom of the boat again, this time for the force of water shooting into her boat, not matter how slight. And again she couldn’t find the source of the leak. Not having any other choice, she accepted the inevitable. She was going to have to go in.

Sheila pulled off her jeans and slid on a pair of soccer shorts. The touch of the chilly air on her legs convinced her to wait until the last minute before removing her jacket. According to the video, the movement of the water could be tracked as the tiny bubbles in it reflected the light from a flashlight. Sheila had a waterproof flashlight in her backpack, which she realized, was now in two inches of water. As she bent to pick up the bag, she heard a plop. Her penny! She had forgotten that it was still in her jacket pocket and now it was down in that dark murky water. For a third time she felt along the bottom, this time searching for the small coin, and rejoiced when her fingers found it. Carefully she tucked it into the zippered pocket of her shorts, dug out her flashlight, removed her jacket, and, bracing herself, jumped overboard.

The shock of the cold water was worse than she expected. Gasping, she shivered while treading water, waiting for her body to adjust.  As soon as it did, she took a deep breath and dove under the boat. She expected the water to be somewhat clear since the surface was so pretty, but instead it was dark and murky, just like the water filling her boat. Her flashlight revealed multitudes of bubbles moving in all directions. Those were not the bubbles the man in the video had said to focus on. The important ones were the ones closest to her boat. She aimed her flashlight at the bottom of the boat and watched the direction the bubbles were heading. Her lungs began to complain, but she continued studying until one area of bubbles acted differently than the rest. Noting its location, she swam out from under the boat, broke through the surface of the water, took a few deep breaths, and then dove back down. Close examination of the area showed several tiny streams of water heading toward a central location. That had to be where the hole was. Sheila ran her finger across the bottom, and sure enough, felt the indentation of a hole a little more than half an inch across. Although it seemed small, Sheila knew a hole that big would have sunk the boat already. Why hadn’t it? Confused, Sheila poked her little finger in the hole and felt it narrow the deeper she pushed her finger. Ah, that’s why her boat hadn’t sunk yet. The other end of the hole must still be very tiny.

With lungs screaming, Sheila surfaced and refilled her lungs. As she tread water, she mentally took inventory of her supplies. What did she have that could plug the hole that would last long enough for her to get to the dock? Her rag was too big, and she hadn’t worn socks. None of her tools would work. She needed something small and round and waterproof, like a marble, which she could jam into the hole. Water pressure under the boat would hold it in place until she was able to get it repaired properly. At least that’s what the video had said. But she didn’t have a marble. The few nails and screws in the toolbox didn’t have heads big enough. Tissue paper wouldn’t last long enough. And she didn’t have any chewing gum.

And then she had it. Her coin! It was small and round and the perfect size. Carefully, she removed the penny from her pocket and swam back under the boat. Holding the flashlight in her mouth, she felt for the hole with one hand, and, finding it, shoved the coin into the hole with her other hand. She wiggled the penny with her finger, wedging it deeper and deeper into the hole until she couldn’t move it anymore. Slowly she lessened the pressure of her finger and was relieved when water pressure continued to hold the coin in place. Quickly now, Sheila returned to the surface of the water and took several deep gulps of air before climbing back into her boat.

Replacing her wet clothes with the dry jeans and jacket, she wrapped her arms around her body and waited until her body quit shivering. While she waited, she looked at the almost three inches of water that had made its way inside her boat. She should try to scoop it out, but all she had was her water bottle which would take too long. She chastised herself again for being unprepared and decided to get back to the dock as soon as possible. She knew someone trained in the repair of boats that would be able to remove the water and filth much more efficiently than she could.

As she rowed, she thought about the deceptive beauty of the water. On the surface, it was shiny and inviting, but she had learned the hard way how dark and cold the water under that surface had become as it rejected the warmth and light of the sun, and how easy it had been for that cold darkness to invade her boat. If it hadn’t been for that coin, she would not be heading back to the safety of the shore right now. She knew when she found the penny that it was special but had had no idea just how valuable it would prove to be. And if she hadn’t tucked it into the pocket of her jacket – the very jacket she now wore – she wouldn’t have had it when she needed it.  That glittering coin had just saved her boat, and maybe even her life.

Amazing how such a small, seemingly insignificant thing had become the most important thing of all.


For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is a gift of God, (Eph 2:8)

And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. (John 3:19)

Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and imposters will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. (2 Tim 3:12-13)

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)

Political High Places?

When I was a new Christian back in the 1970’s, the term ‘Jesus freak’ became associated with those who were excited about Jesus. According to one of the definitions on vocabulary.com, a freak is “a not-so-nice noun that refers to a person who expresses such an intense obsession with something that it resembles addiction”. Obsession is defined as something about which one is constantly thinking about or concerned. So although Jesus freak was meant to be derogatory, I along with many others embraced it because it described our obsession with our God.

Today I am becoming increasingly disturbed with an obsession in our country that has nothing to do with God. When I listen to press conferences, news reports, and commentaries, no matter what’s being discussed, it seems Trump is pulled into it, giving him credit or blame depending on which side of the Trump-fence the speaker is on. It seems the whole country, even the world, shares this obsession. Maybe this is normal and temporary as everyone adjusts to the new president, but there are indications that it might not be going away anytime soon.

Other people have noticed the same and I’ve heard lots of name calling on both sides. I think it would be fair, at least in this blog (since it’s mine and I can say what I want), to call them all Trump freaks. Trump freaks who support him, wanting him to return to power and save our country. Trump freaks who hate him to the point fearing even the possibility of his return. Both groups seem to spend an equally amount of time talking about him.

Being a Trump freak might be fine, if that’s what you want to be. Everyone has the right to obsess over whatever they desire, as long as their obsession doesn’t include harming others.

However, being a Trump freak might not be okay if you call yourself a Christian. By definition, there’s room for only one thing in an obsession, and God makes it clear that the “one thing” should be Him.

You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. Bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem on your forehead, and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deut 6:5-9)

Think of it this way. God wants to be the sun in our hearts, minds, and life. He wants everything we do and think to revolve around Him. He wants His light to shine on every part of our life. The result would be that we’d be constantly talking about God, interacting with God and relating life in terms of God.

An obsession on something other than God replaces Him as the sun in our hearts, minds, and life. Everything we do and think revolves around what we’re obsessed with. It penetrates every part of our life. We constantly talk about our obsession, interact with what relates to our obsession, and relate life in terms of our obsession.

Another word for this is idolatry.

It’s easy to see the idolatry of Trump-worship in the scores of people who are glorifying him beyond normal support. The media loves to show how crazy and irrational some of these people are. What’s not so easy to see is the idolatry in those who worship the idea of taking down Trump, everything he did, and everyone connected with him. They are consumed by thoughts of saving the country from his influence and proving how terrible a person he is. The media ignores how crazy and irrational some of these people are.

As I was thinking about all this, I thought about the high places that are frequently mentioned in the Old Testament. They were areas set apart, usually on a hill or mountain, to worship and sacrifice to pagan gods. God hated those places and warned the Israelites to destroy them. Instead, the Israelites used them to worship God along with the pagan gods they adopted from the nations around them. God called this practice an abomination, and made it clear He didn’t want to share the worship due to Him.

While the man was standing beside me, I heard one speaking to me out of the temple, and he said to me, “Son of man, this is the place of my throne and the place of the soles of my feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the people of Israel forever. And the house of Israel shall no more defile my holy name, neither they, nor their kings, by their whoring and by the dead bodies of their kings at their high places, by setting their threshold by my threshold and their doorposts beside my doorposts, with only a wall between me and them. They have defiled my holy name by their abominations that they have committed, so I have consumed them in my anger. (Ezekiel 43:6-8)

In the United States today, what is higher than the presidency? Could it be that presidential politics is the western culture’s high place?

We need to make sure we are not involved in idolatry on high political places. We need to make sure we have not replaced God with Trump, or equate the two. We need to make sure God is the only sun in our lives, and that everything we do and say revolves around Him and His ways. And that includes any thoughts about Trump – whether they be thoughts of love or of hate. We don’t want what happened to Israel to happen to us.

For they provoked him to anger with their high places; they moved him to jealousy with their idols. When God heard, he was full of wrath, and he utterly rejected Israel. (Ps 78:58-59)

And lest we think He was talking only to Israel…

Hear, you peoples, all of you; pay attention, O earth, and all that is in it, and let the LORD God be a witness against you, the LORD from his holy temple. For behold, the LORD is coming out of his place, and will come down and tread upon the high places of the earth. And the mountains will melt under him, and the valleys will split open, like wax before the fire, like waters poured down a steep place. (Micah 1:2-4)

If, when we examine our hearts, we find an obsession has taken up residence there, we can take it down just as the Israelites were told to do to the high places they found. To not do so would to disobey God, which is evil.

“For whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” (1 Peter 3:10-12)

Seeking peace does not always mean being a pacifist, and doing good might involve standing up for what we believe in, so removing a political obsession doesn’t necessarily mean removing politics from our lives. It means we don’t put our political activism alongside God in our hearts. It means we spend more time praying than we do reading and commenting on social media platforms. It means seeking God’s truth instead of repeating lies. It means keeping our tongues from returning insults or condemning people Jesus died for. It means we listen to God for our marching orders rather than jump on anyone’s bandwagon. God may say jump, or He may have something different for us do, which may or may not be what we think we should be doing. Only He can see the big picture. Only He can see through all the deception permeating both sides. Only He knows the future and how one action will impact another down the road. Only He can coordinate everyone for maximum effectiveness. And He will only empower and equip us to do what He calls us to do, not what others call us to do. Otherwise we will be working in our own strength, and possibly in the same manner of those we call enemies, which won’t do much good and may even backfire on us. Joshua learned about following God’s directions when facing Jericho.

As Joshua was sizing up the city of Jericho, a man appeared with a drawn sword. Joshua strode over to him and demanded, “Are you friend or foe?” “I am the Commander-in-Chief of the Lord’s army,” he replied. Joshua fell to the ground before him and worshiped him and said, “Give me your commands.” “Take off your shoes,” the Commander told him, “for this is holy ground.” And Joshua did. The gates of Jericho were kept tightly shut because the people were afraid of the Israelis; no one was allowed to go in or out. But the Lord said to Joshua, “Jericho and its king and all its mighty warriors are already defeated, for I have given them to you! Your entire army is to walk around the city once a day for six days, followed by seven priests walking ahead of the Ark, each carrying a trumpet made from a ram’s horn. On the seventh day, you are to walk around the city seven times, with the priests blowing their trumpets. Then, when they give one long, loud blast, all the people are to give a mighty shout, and the walls of the city will fall down; then move in upon the city from every direction.” (Joshua 5:13-15; 6:1-5)

I believe only God can heal our country. Let’s tear down our high places and give God our whole hearts.  Let’s turn from following our own ways and accept Him as our Commander-in-Chief. Let’s do things His way which will allow Him to answer our prayers. Let’s watch Him do what only He can do.

If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. (2 Chron 7:14)

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet live, godly and dignified in every way. This is good and pleasing in the sight of God our Savior. (1 Tim 2:1-3)

You have heard that is was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes the sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust. (Matt 5:43-45)

For while we were still weak, at the right time, Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person – though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die – but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Rom 5:6-8)

And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. (Mark 11:25)

Do you be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Rom 12:2)

May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Rom 15:5-6)

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. (Rom 15:13)

Kayla’s Story, An Allegory: Chapter 9 That Dirt Pile Again

Kayla opened the rest of her letters – the ones that had come from her current friends. Just like she expected, there were several invitations to special events in their lives. A baby shower at the country club, complete with a sit down meal and live music. A birthday celebration at the ‘world famous’ night club on the west side of town, the one that saw frequent police action. A bachelorette party featuring a popular male stripper.  All sounded exciting and she instantly regretted not having opened these invitations since some had already taken place. No wonder a few of her friends had gotten weird towards her lately. They must have thought she had deliberately ignored them.

But then her eyes fell on her father’s letters and the letters from her old friends. Suddenly Kayla saw the invitations for what they were – cold, crass, and self-indulgent enticements to engage in passions of her flesh. The invitations had nothing to do with actually loving or caring about her or anyone else. Kayla couldn’t remember ever having deep talks with any of those friends. Sure, their behavior showed that they might have missed her. But had they really missed her? Did they even know – or care – who Kayla really was? No, more likely they had missed the affirmation her presence would have given to their behavior. And her gifts.

Kayla shoved the invitations into her backpack, no longer even slightly interested in them. She preferred the satisfying discussions around simple meals that she used to have with her old friends, the ones who really knew her and loved her anyway. She added calling them to her mental checklist of calls to make when she got home. Placing the rest of the letters into her backpack, Kayla flexed her right foot. Her ankle gave a warning twitch, but most of the pain was gone. Surprised, she got up carefully, balancing on her left foot, and slowly added weight to her right. She was even more surprised as her foot remained firm with just the slightest complaint from her ankle. Taking a few steps confirmed that somehow her injury had mostly healed. Not understanding how, but grateful that it had, Kayla turned to face the pile of dirt. It was time to go home.

Thinking about the advice her father had given her on the phone a few minutes earlier, she looked for a way that wouldn’t require climbing the mound. He had said there were always ways around obstacles, and she would find them if she looked for them. Well, this was definitely an obstacle, and if she was to believe her father, there would be a way to get around it. She had taken what seemed the easy way the first time, but climbing that dirty mound had turned out to be neither easy nor safe. Where was the other way? Kayla walked along the edge of the pile toward the street but found nothing new. Disappointed, she began to doubt her father’s assurance. How could there be another way when it was obvious the pile completely blocked her access to the other side? His advice had always been good before, but what if he was wrong this time? What if he didn’t really mean what he said? What if she had misunderstood him?

Kayla looked back up to the top. She could feel the temptation to just go ahead and climb the thing and get it over with. Her newly healed ankle shouldn’t be a problem so why not? It would only take a few minutes and she could get on with her walk. The longer she stared at it, the greater the desire to start climbing became. The thrill of getting to the top – of conquering this mountain of dirt – was enticing. She was about to give in when the sound of her father’s voice rose in her heart. “There is a way. This is not it. Keep looking.”  Startled, she shook her head against her misplaced desire. No! She wouldn’t give in to temptation. Her father wouldn’t say what he didn’t mean; therefore there was another way even if she couldn’t see it at the moment.

Kayla walked slowly around the edge of the mound again, this time heading towards the fence, through which she could see the other side of the dirt sloping down until it almost reached the garage. She considered walking to where the dirt was shallow enough to cross safely, but reconsidered. She would have to go all the way to the garage. Surely this other way wouldn’t involve breaking the law by trespassing. So where in the world was the way her father had promised she would find?

As she neared the fence, she began to notice that the top of the pile seemed to dip in the center, almost as if there were actually two piles. She could picture a truck making multiple dumps along this driveway so she wasn’t very surprised. But what did surprise her was the change in the dip as she approached it. The closer she got, the deeper it went, clearly separating the two piles.  Her heart began to beat faster as a new thought tickled her mind – what if the two piles weren’t actually connected? What if they only appeared to be because of her perspective based on where she had been standing? What if there was actually enough room between them for her to pass through? She quickly took the last few steps around the first pile and shouted with joy. There was a path in between them! It was narrow, but totally doable. Her father was right. There was a way!

It took only a few minutes to walk between those piles of dirt and she was on the other side. The sun was bright in the sky, filling her with warmth and light, as she danced her way down the sidewalk. Her house was only a few blocks away now and she couldn’t wait to get there. She was excited to reconnect with her old friends, to heal her relationship with Lisa, and to share what she had learned with her father.

Kayla laughed as she looked up at the sun streaming down on her. No matter what happened in the future, she had the companionship of a few close friends, and even more important, the love and support of her father. Life couldn’t get any better than that.


For, speaking loud boasts of folly, they entice by sensual passions of the flesh those who are barely escaping from those who live in error. (2 Peter 2:18)

Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.  (1 Peter 2:11-12)

Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. (Rom 13:13)

So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter. (2 Thes 2:15)

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to humanity. God is faithful, and He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation He will also provide a way of escape so that you are able to bear it. (1 Cor 10:13)

Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. (Ps 16:9)