My Friend, There’s Someone I’d Like You To Meet !

For Ann and David, and for all my new friends at CMA.  You all are my role models, my family, and my friends. Blessings!

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Early on, I saw him from afar.  He was ordinary and plain, dressed poorly in dirty clothing.   Yet, he carried himself with a certain dignity.  I moved on and forgot about him . . .

Until miles later when I met him in passing.  “Dirty feet,” I thought.  “Oily hair.  Calloused, grubby hands.  Still dresses shabbily.  Bad haircut and doesn’t shave.”   Yet, he looked confident as he spoke to the people he met.  I don’t think he noticed me as I passed with only a glance, saying nothing.  No-one to bother with . . .

Until time flew, and the years became heavy, and I found myself wandering into the back alley of my life.  Losing myself.  Confused by myself. Stumbling in despair amidst garbage, and wreckage.  Holes in my worn-out walking shoes. Walking on cold, wet, well-traveled dirt, the way ever-narrowing between breath-stifling walls. Suddenly I slipped. I felt myself falling and sliding down the steep-sided pit of what must have been an old storm sewer.  After I landed, I sat and wept.  There was no way out.  It was getting hotter.  Darker.  I sat in the hot, sulfurous muck and wept.  The muck was rising.

Fear gripped my throat. “Helllllp.  Is anybody there?  Does anybody hear me?”

“I’m here.  I hear you.  Be still and all will be well.”  A candle was lit behind me, illuminating a face.

“It . . . It’s you . . .”

“It is I.  Always have been me,” he said, grinning. ” Don’t you remember how, early on, I waved at you from a distance, but you didn’t want to see?  Later we met in passing and I smiled, but you didn’t speak.  Many times I walked behind you, beside you, and before you, but you avoided, sidestepped, ignored, looked past, seemingly blind, deaf, and dumb.  Well, don’t feel bad.  I get that a lot. It happens to lots of folks.  You’d be surprised how many I’ve met for the first time in a pit like this one.  Why you deprive yourselves for so long kind of mystifies me. It’s a cryin’ shame and such a waste of good time, don’t you think?”

” I . . . I . . .sorry . . . ,” I looked away, embarrassed.  “Umm, this stinky stuff is rising, I don’t think I can stand much more of this . . .”

He was holding a strong stick with which he began poking and pounding a hole in the bottom of the filthy pit as he spoke some foreign-sounding words.  After awhile the muck began to drain out.

“Thanks. What a relief!  How did you do that?”

“It’s not so hard if you know how to speak to it.”

I began to notice that he was clean, in spite of the surrounding filth. I was the smelly, dirty, oily, grubby, shabby one. It was, indeed, a crying shame.

“Let’s get you outa here . . . that is, unless you’d rather stay.”

“Nooo!” I cried desperately, “This is horrible! I want out! But . . . but . . . I don’t see any way out! There’s no way ouuuut!” It was like hearing someone who’s going hysterical, only it was my own panicked voice. I waited for the counteracting slap in the face that always came in the old movies . . .

“Be still, my friend, be still. I am your way out. Do you believe me? Look at me . . .”

I looked. “Yes . . . it’s strange, but, but, yes, I do believe you. Please, get me out of here.”

With that, he smiled, held the candle up, and looked toward the impossibly high rim of the pit.

“When I say the word, you climb this rope, okay?” With a gesture, he indicated his whole slender self. I stared, thinking a whole series of negative thoughts, then nodded in the affirmative.

He then stuck the candle into the loose side of the pit and in one continuous motion, ran three steps across the floor and two steps up the side, gave a determined yell, stretched his full length upward, grabbed the rim firmly with his fingers, and kicked his toes into the wall.

“I’m ready. Climb swiftly now!”

My first jump missed. His feet were well above my head, so I took a run and caught my fingers inside the backs of his shoes. They should have pulled off his feet, but they were miraculously tight. I scrambled and dug furiously with my feet until I could grab his clothing and pull myself up, hand over hand.

“That’s right, pull up until you can get your feet on my calves.”

I finally got my hands over his shoulders and my feet on his calves. That had to hurt him badly, but he didn’t make a sound.

“Now use your feet and knees to get any purchase you can on my back. Persevere, my friend.”

I was already panting. Exhausted. But then he did an amazing thing. Reaching back with his right hand, he grasped my right wrist and pulled upward. My shoes scraped his back cruelly. I hurt for him as he put my right hand on the rough rim of the pit. He reached down around my back and used my belt to pull me up farther while hanging onto the rim with only his left hand. This man was strong! I straightened my left arm above his left shoulder, then placed my knee on his right one.

“Are you all right?” I gasped.

“I endure,” he breathed. “Keep . . . climbing . . .”

I managed to get my foot on his left shoulder. Pulling with my arms, I then placed my other foot on his right shoulder and stood. The side of his face was pressed against the wall. I moaned at the pain I must be causing him as I swung one leg, then the other, over the edge and rolled to safety. As I moved to help him, I heard his feet scrambling and saw him press with his arms and pull himself up until his arms were straight. Then he swung a foot up, pushed, and rolled over beside me.

“Thank You,” I heard him say, in a panting whisper.

“What? Thank you, Man!” I gasped, relieved.

At that, he stood slowly and grinned down at me. He reached down and helped me stand on wobbly legs.

“There were probably a dozen easier ways to do that, but I wanted to make a point. Surely you see the metaphoric value in what just happened.”

“ Metaphor? Stinking hot pit . . . No way out . . .  Wait. Who are you. What’s your name?” I asked with hesitation.

“It would be better if I showed you. You will have to close your eyes to see. Hold my face in your hands and don’t let go.”

His image began to resolve before me. I saw his feet. Grimy, stained with dried blood, a deep wound in each. I shuddered as I heard words enter my mind. “These are the feet that walk into the light. The ones that carry the Truth, the Word of Peace. These pierced feet were made to carry you to safety. You needed but ask it.

His hands were closed, but I could see that his wrists had wounds like his feet. I began to be alarmed and tried to let go of his face and open my eyes, but they wouldn’t open, and I felt his strong, gentle hands hold my own hands to his cheeks. “It’s all right. Be at peace. Pierced for you, these are the hands that can lift you. Heal you. Help you. Hold you close and safe forever. You need but ask it. As his hands turned over and opened, I was amazed to see that my name was written in red across his right palm. His left palm contained a single word in red. Forgiven.

I wanted to comment, but my mouth wouldn’t open. Just as well. It contained only foolish words. What I had thought was myth and legend and Christian delusion was being revealed to me as real truth. Boy, had I been wrong . . . again . . .

I saw his chest rising and falling. Laboring for breath. And inside it, he revealed his innermost heart. I must tell you that words are inadequate to describe it. Even the small portion that he thought I could handle. This pierced heart is the “place” where he keeps the care, the concern, the immense love he has for me. It was overwhelming to comprehend. My own heart struggled with the hugeness of it, yet I felt it being expanded in order to even partially accommodate and understand such wonder and beauty.

“Yes, it’s beyond all your understanding, but one day you will be given comprehension, if you but ask. My heart has spoken to yours many times, but you did not know its language. Do you recall? Do you know me yet?”

“You must be the One my family and friends have called The Savior . . . The Christ . . . Of course you are! You just revealed that beyond a doubt! You’re Jesus. They call you Son of God and Son of Man, right? The One who was born on Christmas and died on Easter!” I’ve seen you on TV . . . Sorry, that was lame . . . They don’t do you justice . . .

“Well, you’re on the right track. Look at me once more!”

I looked at His face. His torn, bleeding, tortured face. On his brow was a cruel crown. I somehow knew that it was the crown of my wickedness. Of my sin. And it was heavy. And painful. And the horrible weight of it was pressing down unbearably on Him but He was not crushed.

“Whyyy,” I moaned as he removed my hands from His face and let my eyes open. When my eyes were fully opened, I saw Him differently. He was whole. He was radiant. He was bright with majestic splendor! And now, there was no crushing headpiece, but on His head He wore a brilliant Crown of Glory. If I fell to my knees in awe then, He must have lifted me up . . .

“Why? Because you couldn’t. You would have been crushed and destroyed under it. Like what happened in this pit, only I can deliver you from the “great death” and by “great” I don’t mean good, I mean enormously bad. The price of your reckless spending had to be paid, but you were broke. You bought what the enemy was selling, on credit, until your debt was outrageous. He can collect anytime, you know. We abhor the thought of that happening to you, so I bought your debt and paid it myself, in hopes that you would someday turn toward me and against the enemy. Toward Truth and against lies. To be given a new heart. A heart filled with joy. And to be transformed back into the person you were always intended to be. Yes, We paid it all in the hope that you would merely want to pay it back. You, could never settle that kind of debt, of course, so We make it free. A “wash sale”, in the hope that you will turn around, believe in me, say yes, choose life, and follow Us . . .

Speaking of “wash”, no offense, but you smell quite bad. Hahahahahaaa. You must be thirsty as well. Let’s leave this place and find some water to take care of that. We’ll greet the morning together and you can tell Me what you’ve decided about your life . . .

I’ll never forget the huge hug he gave me as we left that alley. His cheek left a film of sweat on mine that stayed cool as it evaporated away and I walked with Him into the peaceful warmth of a new sunrise, a new heart, a new hope, and a brand-new life . . .

Of course, I had said yes! Once I said yes to Him, He asked something of me. He wants me to make introductions. Everywhere. To everyone I can. In any, and every way, I can think of. I said yes to that as well. Gladly! 

That’s why I wait at the edge of the deep pit. I stand at the entrance to the alley of death. I walk the mean streets and frequent the black markets, hoping to find you there, because there’s someone I’d like you to meet. And when I do find you there, my greatest hope is that you will come with me a short way to where He is, so that I can say “Lord Jesus, I’d like you to meet My Friend; and, My Friend, meet Jesus, my Savior-Lord, and my King!”

And He will say “I’m most pleased to meet you!”

What will you say, My Friend?

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Copyright © by Lenn E. Snider  04/17/2012

All Rights Reserved

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The Expense of Safety – A Reprise – And The Rest Of The Story

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A Good Friday Story;
A Good Anytime Story –


The Expense of Safety

The Ferry to Safety was ready to depart.
Freedom, so close!

Special admission only???
Hope fading.
Whoever missed the boat was lost.
Completely lost and without hope.
One solitary, stringent ticket stand.
A waiting line far too long.

Serious guards watching.
Last chance.
Distress.

But I had not the standing,
Not the requirements,
Not the paperwork,

Nor the price of admission.
I stood forlorn in fear that
I would always wear these chains,

Or be, (oh, so slowly) tortured and killed;
Despair.

Then a man stepped up,
Radiating such undisguised love,
Unveiled compassion.

He gave me his own precious ticket with a smile.
No hesitation.
He paid my price.
Dooming himself with the selfless gesture.
Bewildered, I caught hold of it.

And just in time.
I stood astonished,
Forgetting even to thank him.
“Hurry, it departs;
It’s your one chance,”
He cried over his shoulder

As they cruelly restrained him,
Beat him to the ground,

Roughly dragged him,
Torn, and bleeding,
Yet miraculously silent as
They pinned him brutally against the ticket stand.

His fate I couldn’t know,
Couldn’t imagine.

Didn’t want to guess . . .
In horror and denial,
I watched the scene as I walked backward,

And stepped,
Not nearly grateful enough,
Onto the departing boat.



The Rest of the Story

I was in shock.
And I was safe.
My chains had dropped from me,
into the water,

as I stepped onto the ferry.
Relief overwhelmed me.

Was this how true freedom felt?
After a time, I noticed many others were there.
Some were kneeling, some looking upward
with bowed heads and raised hands.
A woman saw that I was alone.
“You are the last.”
“Yes . . . . . ,
I . . .
It’s incredible!

A man paid my price!”
I was still astonished.
“Mine too!” she exclaimed.
A man looked up . . . “Mine too!”
A child waved; in her hand a ticket:
“Me too!”
“Me too!” cried a young boy.”
A group of teenagers:
“Me too!” “Me too!” “And me!”
“He paid my fare!”
“He gave me his own ticket!”
All of us!
People were gathering into one group,
listening to each other.
“I threw my pass away years ago,
but he gave me another today!” said several.
“I lost mine and he gave me a replacement as well.”
“I didn’t deserve one.”
“I was in prison.”
“My neck was in the noose; I was good as dead.”
“He let me off the hook for the terrible things I said about him.”
“He forgave me too!”
“He gave me another chance.”
“He gave me another, and another, and another.”
“He told me it was ‘never too late’,
when he handed me his boarding pass.”
“He looked at me with love.
Nobody ever did that!”

“I know he saved my life, and not just once!”
“He told me God loves me!”
“I heard him forgive those guards.”
Yes, even while they did detestable things to Him.
I . . . I think . . . they killed him.

“Because of us,” I thought, in sorrow.
“Because we couldn’t get our own passes.”
“We could never qualify.”
“He deserved his ticket more than anyone,
yet he gave it to all of us and forfeited his life.”
 “He loved his life as much as we love ours.”
“Who was that poor man?”
An elderly lady approached on unsteady legs,
holding her ticket toward me in an outstretched hand.
Her eyes were filled with tears.
“He gave me this. I tried to refuse, but he insisted.
It was all . . . he . . . had.

What love he radiated. What love!” she sighed.
Her pass was identical to mine.
They all were.
I looked up at the wheelhouse,
and, to my delight, noticed that the huge watercraft
was named JOY.

As the day passed, people began telling their stories.
Everyone had a story involving the man we called
our hero, our rescuer, our deliverer.
We praised the man with our stories and with singing.
We fasted, partaking only of sweet, cool, water   –
The purest we have ever tasted.
In the evening we ate bread and grapes.
All these things were provided from coolers on the deck.
We became conscious of God’s presence and provision.
Those of us who were new to the faith experience were welcomed
into the family of believers and followers of that one man.
Because of what he did for us, we all worshiped him;
Because he showed us compassionate love,
We adored him;
Longed to see him again,
If only . . .

The boat seemed to expand in size while more people
came up from below.

So many breathing freedom!
Our ongoing rescue continued through the second day,

through which we repeated the fast, the worship,
the stories, and the evening meal.
When would we finally reach the Land of Promised Safety?
We wondered, but with faith and confident hope.
The massive boat churned a wake and plowed its way forward,
persevering steadily on course 
through a third day,
 as our faith and hope grew.
Then, in the cool of the evening of the third day,
we saw land . . .

And I, the undeserving;
I, the ingrate;
I, the impatient;

I, the selfish;
I, the forgiven;
and I, the thankful-rescued,

stood on the foredeck and saw The Man
standing with a grin,
and with open arms,
on the pristine sand of freedom’s shore.

α ∞ Ω
~~~~~~~~~

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A Farmer of Words

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I want to be a farmer of words
I want to nurture words
I want to plant them in good soil
Cultivate them
Grow them until mature
Make them fruitful
Pick them and harvest them
Squeeze out the nutritious juices of their meaning.
I want to be a chef of words
A vintner and baker of words
Combine them

Mix and toss them together
Prepare them deliciously
Marry their flavors
Plate them beautifully
Pour them out gracefully
Lovingly

Present them to those who hunger and thirst for
A good word
Or two or three.
I want to begin a culture of
Word husbandry.

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He Follows Patiently. Your Turn.

 

 

 

In the book of your life,
Jesus follows you closely, quietly,
As you walk your path,
As you lay down new lines,
And lines become paragraphs,
As you turn your pages, He walks with you.
Lie down, and He lies down close by.
If you run, He runs.
If you try to outrun Him,
Or lose Him,
He effortlessly stays close behind.
Veer right or left,
He is faithful in the turning.
Stop, and He stops.
Continue in your way,
He continues with you.
But if you turn around and look back,
He does not turn around.
Not ever.
He looks into your questioning eyes.
Always.
He speaks softly to your heart.

Turning to Him is all He wants.
Asking Him to take the lead
Is all you need.
To write your new page.
To fill out your whole, true story,
To complete the never-ending
Book of Your Life.

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music: Ian Post
“Genesis-The Light”
on Sound Cloud

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Impenetrable Firewall

Who among us has not lost or forgotten a password?
Many have also had their firewall broken through.
Have you?

Jesus is my living firewall.
My fortress.
He is impenetrable!
When fiery darts of incursion,
and arrows of intrusive evil are sent my way,

He shields me.
The windows of my heart and the software of my spirit
Are safe!
Protected!

I trust Him to keep my processor,
My operating system,
Running smoothly,
and be not corrupted,
or misused by malware from hell.
Jesus insures these things to all followers
Who sign up for His service!

Jesus is my living password!
In Him alone, is safety;
Security;
Certainty;
Permanence;
Peace of mind.

I never have to exchange my Word for a better one.
He is the only Word I’ll ever need.

No one can steal Him from me.
I never have to write Him down,
Put Him in a password manager,
Or worry that I might forget Him.
He is the way in,
Jesus is the only way into

Heaven.god

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Once, It Was Enough

My life was fine when I didn’t have Jesus in it.
At least, that’s what I thought.
It was enough, but now that empty life can never be enough. 

I licked a spoon that was used to stir egg nog.
It was not enough!
I wanted more!
I wanted a drink! 

Jesus gave me that sweet drink of the life.
He gave me the more I didn’t know I’d been waiting for.
No more futile striving for only a thin film of the sweetness.

 Now I have Him,
and with Him,
the sweet, rich,
fragrantly spiced,
deliciously satisfying,
 glass of joyous life to drink from,
that is always full,
never empties,
and is endless!
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A Paul Harvey Christmas Message – The Man and the Birds

 

A Brilliant Modern Day Parable
This whole broadcast is good, but if you want to skip ahead to the story, it begins at about 5:10.

May you and yours have a joyous Christmas!



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He. Came. Down.


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He Came Down

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He came down.
Mary said YES,
Then He came down.
Born like us.
Born with us.
Born for us.
Born to us.
Born unto us.
Born into us.
He came down from His Glory,
Leaving Holy Home and Father, to become a creation, in a real sense, just like us . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

To be born most humbly into the broken, reeking mess that we, mankind, had made of the world.

To be born into the shameful, smelly mess that I had made of my own wretched heart . . . . . . . . . . .

The defenseless egg of God,

having scarcely a shell.
A tender shoot,
a tiny lamb,
in perfect humility,

he came down naked,
to be born covered with
 another’s blood,
a mother’s sacrificial blood.
Born to be pierced,
and poured out,
and to cover all
others with His
pure, holy blood.
He came down
with only Love as a defense.
Double-sided love.
For us here below,

from Him, up above.
He came down to the dung heap,
the lowest, the basest of places,
a place of no honor;
of ignobility,

because that’s where I was,
I and my neighbors,
hiding under the
layers of dirt.
He could have said
“No, not again”.
He could have said
“To hell with this” . . .
He didn’t have to
rise from His manger
to knock on my
heart’s door.
To clean it all up,
just like new,
from ceiling to floor,
window, to wall,
and spend His life,
His all, for me,
to bear away my sin.
Yet, He would be
the first to admit,
(if He weren’t so humble),
that He did have to.
Someone had to
do something.
But no-one could
except Himself.
I didn’t deserve
His coming down, 
this Wonderful Counselor,
this Mighty God,
this Everlasting Father,
 this Prince of Peace.
This Immanuel.
Savior Lord.
JESUS CHRIST!
But, He came down,
out of love,
bearing light,
carrying forgiveness,
sowing grace like seeds,
ready with a cool drink,
gentle hands to wash our feet,
with tears of compassion,
where sin and mercy meet,
and I’m so glad,
so happy,
so joyously thankful
that He did,
that my glory goes up.
I send it up.
I glorify His name
Who was born into many names,
and into ONE name,
and that name is
The-Name-Above-All-Names.
He came down,
and now He reigns
King of My Heart.

Glory to God in the Highest Heaven!
That

He.
Came.
Down!
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The Happiest Christbirth Celebration to you, today!
LS< Your Gloryteller
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Good Morning, Mountains

I was there at daybreak when the mountains awoke . . .

(I began to worship, not them, but their Creator)

 

“They can’t wake up, and can’t sleep.”
“They are not alive,” you say.

Their existence is a type of life, to my way of thinking.
By my ascription, and by my regard, I bring them life,
And they receive it, even though I have only a
Miniscule understanding of their truest life.
A type of life that traditionally belongs to beings.
And if they are beings, certainly the most massive on the planet.
Certainly among the most majestic!

You may say, “Don’t anthropomorphize,” but why not?
Do they not have faces?
Ancient, craggy, faces?

Long-enduring, weathered faces?
Do they not have names?
Names of nobility, and of honor?
Flanks?
Sides?
Feet?
Do they not move, albeit imperceptibly?

Calm and unhurried?
They turn and roll and rise!
Don’t they shed their rocky skins?
And where is the heart of a mountain?
Deep, pressurized-miles within!

So . . .
At daybreak . . .
By myself, with my Lord Guide beside . . .
I rode down into the valley, 
And stood beside the racing, melt-swollen river.
The dim, misty, light of dawn lent a surreal feel to the scene.
We looked up Spruce Canyon, high into the peaks.
Surrounded by the Living Creation,
And watched the sun illuminate those peaks,
Whose eyes began to open and reflect hues of  yellow, orange, and pink.
Who lifted their heads and tipped their white nightcaps.
Whose chests were shrouded with blankets of clouds.
Who began to push those comforters downward towards their feet.
Who began to yawn and stretch in the yellow,
Downward-spreading warmth.

The feel was no longer surreal, but absolutely real!
Overwhelmingly, breathtakingly, real.

Making mental notes,
Fixing memories indelibly,

We rode on,
Up the valley to nestle among those great, revered, toes,
Wiggling in the morning canyon.

I was the only human there to see . . .
I was there at daybreak to see the mountains awake . . . 

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Straining To Reach Beauty

“We do not want merely to see beauty, though, God knows, even that is bounty enough. We want something else which can hardly be put into words—to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it….At present we are on the outside of the world, the wrong side of the door….We cannot mingle with the splendours we see. But all the leaves of the New Testament are rustling with the rumour that it will not always be so. Some day, God willing, we shall get in.” ~ C.S.Lewis

I know what he means – I think.
But Lewis is right, it can hardly be put into words.
I want to be immersed in the beauty I enjoy with my senses.
I want to be baptized in it.
I want it to soak into me and heal the ache.
I want it to fill the voids of longing and loss.
I strain against my earthbound chains to reach it.
I want to revel in the pure joy of it.
I want to unite with it;
to be it.
Earthly beauty must be but a metaphor,
a poor representation,
of Heavenly beauty.
Did He not create it as a foretaste,
a tidbit,
a sampler of His own absolute beauty?
Ahh, to imagine how durably our spirits must have been created
to stand in His presence
and to bear the unutterable,
unfathomable,
power and glory,
and beauty,
emanating from The Father and from Christ Jesus!
With each new encounter with beauty,
I strive;
I wrench and heave at my chains.
Little by little,
link by link,
they weaken.

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One Last Mountain

 

 painting by John McNaughton

painting by John McNaughton

I only recent conquered one
Not so distant past
But each peak now seems harder than
Was climbing up the last

I’m walking so much older now
Much slower than before
It’s time to lay some burdens down
And shoulder them no more

Perhaps I’m almost finished
My climber says I’m not
My will is not diminished
My body not quite shot

But one can hardly ever tell
When one’s nice trail will end
What waits beyond horizon’s hill
Or ’round next river bend

And there will be that one higher
More fright’ning to attempt
Looming there one last hard climb
Where no one is exempt

Daunting doubts I reckon
Uncertain and unknown
Cold airless shadows beckon
To scale it all alone

You fool you will not be alone
The trail well-marked and lit
The crags will have beginner’s holds
You surely will not slip

Up toward my final peak
The one on which I’ll stay
I’ll wait until He finally speaks
Then lifts my soul away

Thus will it be that in the end
I’ll rest there where He Is
In the beauty of the Endless Land
With Him and all of His
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Labyrinth

In the Heart of My Mind I often go walking
through lush, open meadows where the colorful, wildly beautiful,
gardens of my existence meander extravagantly. It is there
where I am complete, and full, and joyous in my Creator.
But . . .

Off to the far side, down on one end in the rocks, there is a hole. Sometimes, on the night of the Dark Moon, I declare – no, more like endure – a Fool’s Night. I go to that enticingly repulsive hole and slip in. Not always by intention. Oh no, hardly ever by my own design or volition, but I am tricked into it; goaded, prodded, pushed, even within the gardens in the Heart of My Own Mind. I’m tricked in my dreams, or in moments of weak daylight musing.
Slip in, I meant, for there is a slick, muddy, slope leading down; down into the labyrinth. The mud stinks, and now I, having fallen on my back, stink. This is The Labyrinth of Darkness Past.
As I move, trembling, through the rock-walled passageways, I pass rooms. Some rooms contain pits filled with waste, others have manacles and chains fasted to the walls, or nooses hanging from the ceilings. There are rooms housing dark, ghostly, disembodied memories. There are toothed error-worms seething in writhing masses, gnawing at the tranquility of the flora rooted in the gardens above. There are whip-words lashing out, eager to scourge innocent flesh. There are specters of sadness howling, weeping apparitions of disappointment lurking, wraiths of heartbreak groaning.
Sharp, cold, gusts of regret add to the bitter ambiance as I trudge along the main hallway. Self loathing blows me toward abysmal chasms of despair. I want out, but I am caught in a bizarre, self-destructive ritual.
Once again I realize that the despair here is all my fault; that this cruel dungeon is of my own making.
As usual, I only enter one of the hellish rooms. This Fool’s Night, in the dark of the moon, I visit a ghastly memory of heartbreak. One I caused, I inflicted. Watching it all happen again, the broken heart of another becomes my own. I was selfish, and foolish, and deserve this painful self-recrimination, this self-flagellation, this self-loathing.
I don’t know why I made this unconscionable mistake. It was careless and stupid. I would personally express sorrow, ask forgiveness of my victim, offer restitution, but it is too late. The fateful incident, like so many others, is fettered and imprisoned in this horrid labyrinth forever. I flounder painfully in the putrid mire of them all.
But why? Why do I allow the trickery of a Fool’s Night during the Dark Moon?
Why do I remember so vividly the dark side of my former self? The good outweighs the bad by far. I remember some of it now. Times I did the right thing. Times I made someone happy. When I sacrificed and gave instead of taking. Even before I became the new man. But those are not as vivid. Perhaps it is humility. Perhaps darkness is vivid and good is muted because of chicanery!
The enemy! That accuser! I see now! I am not a criminal – have never been in jail. I’ve broken no major human laws  (exceeding the limit of speed – yes, that is bad enough). I’m an ordinary sinner. My despair can only serve that ravenous beast! By the larceny of dreams. By the murder of memory, it deceives. I picture the liar laughing. No, that beast shall not steal my joy. The enemy of my soul will not! Begone! I have turned away from that life which was more death than life. I have received grace undeserved, mercy in my guilt. Forgiveness. Freedom. My redeemer has redeemed me, taken my sin upon his own shoulders, and, I pray, will redeem – has redeemed – my unkind actions and words, somehow – made them right – gave peace to those I hurt. Somehow He has, He does, and He will. The remembered casualties of my negligence, the ones I perceive entrapped in these labyrinthian rooms have perhaps already moved on, forgiven me, found the Redeemer for themselves, been set free. I ask that they have. That is my hope and my faith.
I hold them out to Him. I give the wraiths, apparitions, and specters into His large, open, hands. He gave His all to rectify my sin; to take it upon himself. He said He would remove my sins as far as the east end of the labyrinth is from the west end, if I would only turn and believe. And He did say He came to heal the brokenhearted.
As I let them go, I find I have traveled full circle and am back at the entrance. An ornate, polished, wooden ladder has been placed to aid my exit. I but touch the ladder and am snatched out of The Labyrinth of Darkness Past fully awake and aware. Aware of His presence in the Garden of My Existence. I don’t look back. The labyrinth should be destroyed. I don’t know if I can blast it by myself, but when the time is right, I’m sure He can, or else He will give me the strength. He also gives me a shield against the trickery of the enemy. I should remember to wield that on the next night of the Dark Moon.
       
I think of people like me who occasionally endure chronic remorse – especially those people who’ve been born anew.  I pray for your encouragement. Be lifted up! We all fall short of His glory. I have to wonder if anyone doesn’t carry the shame of hidden past guilt. Forgiveness is key. We must forgive the one who has trespassed against us – even if that one is our self, I think.
       We also, as I said, must place it into God’s open hands; place it at the foot of His cross; or employ any other imagery that helps you give it over to Him. A burden such as this is too big, too heavy, for a mortal to hold. Dear Reader, you are not alone in your Labyrinth of Past Regret. You have me and my prayer for you, but most importantly you have Him who cares about you. He will help you grapple with your labyrinth. He will seal the entrance for all time. He will protect, preserve, and help you to inhabit the wildly beautiful, the joy-filled gardens of your existence at the Heart of Your Mind. Thanks be to God.
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A Song For Time

A Song For Time

"The Wheel of Time" by Cris Ortega

“The Wheel of Time” by Cris Ortega – Cocojay, you are my inspiration. Unending thanks.

   

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I write, and I rewrite,
my song to beautiful Time,

Moment by moment.
Again and again.

Seeking not to waste her fleeting love,
I almost capture her essence,
Beat by beat,
But it slips away . . .
Breath by breath,
She steals the day,
And beloved memories.

Always the same,
Steadfast, yet skittish,
Reliable, yet relentless,
Impatiently buzzing bloom to bloom,
She leaves longing in her wake.

Never waits,
But draws me along behind

In her swirling currents.
Precious, even in her arrogance,
Absconds with everything,
But is never caught in her cruel game.

Once, I held her elusive attention.
Once, I was able to hold her longer.
In elation, I was able to dance her
Fair into the night,
Bewitched by her deceitful spell,
And her flagrantly capricious charms,
Ignoring all the obvious alarms . . .

Ahhh, but better choosings of late have left me
Fonder memories of her.
Fewer, softer regrets.
Forgiven-ness wrenched
From her unforgiving airs.
Dispassionance reclines withal,
That often I am left with no regrets at all.

Each stanza ends with a sigh,
Still, I write and I rewrite my song to her.
Moment by moment.
Again and again.
Even though she never loves for long,
And never, ever, stays . . .

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Book of Your Life

 

 

 

Open the unexamined Book of Your Life.


From Chapter One,
Jesus follows you closely, quietly,
As you walk your path.
Turn the pages of your journal,
He walks with you.
If you run, He runs.
If you fall, He waits.
Lie down, and He lies down nearby.
If you weep, He quietly cries.
If you try to outrun Him,
Or get away,
He effortlessly stays right behind.
Veer right or left,
Into the hollow, the empty,

He is faithful in the turning.
Stop, and He stops.
Continue in your barren, winding way,
He continues with you.
But turn around and look back,
He does not turn His back.
Not ever.
He engages your pleading eyes.
Always.
You turning to Him is all He wants.
Asking Him to come alongside,
To take the lead,
Is all you need.
To begin a better path.
To write your new page.
To fill the complete Book of Your Life.


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MLK Wisdom and A Prayer From Francis of Assisi

Like cockroaches coming out of the woodwork, an infestation of hatred is multiplying and invading contemporary society. I should say, it is appearing out of the darkness behind the woodwork of society.

Notice how shining a bright light on those disgusting insects sends them scurrying back into the darkness. That’s how it is when the pure, cleansing, light of love sends hate back to its dark source – the enemy of our souls who thrives in evil darkness. Hate is destructive, yet enticing. What a great tool for him who seeks to kill our spirits.
How do we fight it?
Hate back?
Fight darkness with darkness;
trade evil for evil?

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
~Dr. Martin Luther King

No, he is right,
We must end darkness,
But who has the light? 
Who can take away the place
Where hate lives,
Where evil hides?
Who has the power,
Who has the light?
Well, the one in the mirror,
The one facing me!
Yes, you,
If you would be free,

Pray this prayer
Of the man from Assisi:

Dear God, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy;
O Divine Master,
Grant that I not so much seek to be consoled as to console,
To be understood as to understand,
To be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

~ Prayer of St Francis.

Born to eternal life through Emmanuel and Savior!
The dark one cannot abide this Light. 
See?!
He flees!

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A Paul Harvey Christmas Message – The Man and the Birds

 

A Brilliant Modern Day Parable
This whole broadcast is good, but if you want to skip ahead to the story, it begins at about 5:10.

May you and yours have a joyous Christmas!



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O Christbirth Tree, O Christbirth Tree, How Lovely Are Your Branches!

 

My
Christbirth
**tree is ever-green**
***With everlasting life***

Its branches & its members
***Clothed in colorful lights***
*Lights reflected by ornaments*
*****Of all shapes and sizes*****
***Which shine just as brightly***
*******It’s filled with surprises!******
***Wrapped ’round with garland****
**********As a bundling rope**********
*********The whole tied together*******
*******With warm faith and hope********
**********The star at its crown is**********
***********Wreathed in white light**********
*********Can be seen near and far**********
******’Cause it’s clear, pure, and bright*******
************That’s the part of the tree***********
**************That ultimately pleases*************
********************You see*************************
*******For the Star at the point and the apex*******
************************Is Jesus*************************
*****And the branches, the lights, and ornaments*****
**************************Are we*****************************
****************For He is the Bridegroom********************
************We are His church, bride, and wife -*************
*************The trunk that stands in The Water,***************
****************************The Water of Life.***********************
Water
of
Life

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Happy Christbirth!

von

©Gloryteller.com

 

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He. Came. Down.


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He Came Down

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He came down.
Mary said YES,
Then He came down.
Born like us.
Born with us.
Born for us.
Born to us.
Born unto us.
Born into us.
He came down from His Glory,
Leaving Holy Home and Father, to become a creation, in a real sense, just like us . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

To be born most humbly into the broken, reeking mess that we, mankind, had made of the world.

To be born into the shameful, smelly mess that I had made of my own wretched heart . . . . . . . . . . .

The defenseless egg of God,

having scarcely a shell.
A tender shoot,
a tiny lamb,
in perfect humility,

he came down naked,
to be born covered with
 another’s blood,
mother’s blood.
Born to be pierced,
and poured out,
and to cover all
others with His
pure, holy blood.
He came down
with only Love as a defense.
Double-sided love.
He came down to the dung heap,
the lowest, the basest of places,
a place of no honor;
of ignobility,

because that’s where I was,
I and my neighbors,
hiding under the
layers of dirt.
He could have said
“No, not again”.
He could have said
“To hell with this” . . .
He didn’t have to
rise from His manger
to knock on my
heart’s door.
To clean it all up,
just like new,
from ceiling to floor,
window, to wall,
and spend His life,
His all, for me,
to bear away my sin.
Yet, He would be
the first to admit,
(if He weren’t so humble),
that He did have to.
Someone had to
do something.
But no-one could
except Himself.
I didn’t deserve
His coming down, this
Wonderful Counselor,
this Mighty God,
Everlasting Father,
Prince of Peace.
This Immanuel.
Savior Lord.
JESUS CHRIST!
But, He came down,
out of love,
bearing light,
carrying forgiveness,
sowing grace like seeds,
ready with a cool drink,
gentle hands to wash our feet,
with tears of compassion,
where sin and mercy meet,
and I’m so glad,
so happy,
so joyously thankful
that He did,
that my glory goes up.
I send it up.
I glorify His name,
Who was born into many names,
and into ONE name,
and that name is
The-Name-Above-All-Names.
He came down,
and now He reigns
King of My Heart.

Glory to God in the Highest Heaven!
That

He.
Came.
Down!
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The Happiest Christbirth Celebration to you, today!
LS< Your Gloryteller
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Seeing A Scene Between The Lines — Another God Nod !

Re-posted from three years ago:
~ ~ ~

^^^^^

It happened completely unexpectedly on my birthday,  while reading a major novel.
I have never experienced this particular peculiar “special effect” while reading,
so I’ve been trying to assemble the right descriptive words with which to relate it:

I was reading, and I’m still reading, a “real”, hardcover, paper-and-ink version of the classic “Atlas Shrugged”.
As I was reading along, eyes moving along at a fast clip, my attention was drawn to the space above the line which I was reading.
I noticed something materializing there.
Without slowing down or stopping, I noticed a three-dimensional scene beginning to appear above the line.
It was as though I was driving at highway speed, watching the scenic countryside “moving past” as I watched out of my side window.
It was only a second before I reached the end of the line and thought, “What in the world was that?  What’s going on now?”
(It seems I hardly ever have to wait long for
something anomalous
something amazing
something astounding
something bizarre
something “coincidental”
something “crazy”
something epiphanic
something exceptional
something extraordinary
something mysterious
something remarkable
something super-natural
something surprising
something  unconventional
something unique
something unusual
and/or
something whimsical
to occur).

So I immediately returned to the beginning of the line and read it again, scientifically looking for a cause for this effect, a connection, or an explanation.
There was nothing special about that particular line nor the sentence which it was a part of.
The “effect” was still there, fence posts in the foreground zipping by, green hills farther out “moving” more slowly, and the mountains and clouds on the horizon not appearing to move at all.  As I kept reading, the background scene expanded to fill all the spaces between several lines as though I were actually there at that particular time and place.  Then the scene began to fade quickly and was gone in a few short, but pregnant, seconds.
I thought:
“What a thrilling thing!”
And I wondered:
“What are You trying to tell me?”

“He’s gone hallucinatory”,  you’re thinking.
Over the edge,
Delusional,
Imagining things,
Lost his mar……
You get the picture — I know what you’re thinking.
Yes you are!  I know it!
Well, maybe you have a point, but I don’t think so, and even if you do, God can still work with this.

You see,
I look at it as another instance of grace;  a most-undeserved nod from God, timed perfectly,
tailored uniquely for me, a personal revelation prepared for my use in my personal testimony and my personal ministry.
It’s typical that I should get a God Nod – my term for a message, an elbow bump from God – while reading a book authored by a pro-abortion atheist, views I strongly disagree with (Ayn Rand, a very, very talented, enjoyable, and skillful writer/novelist, and anti-socialist which I do agree with),
but what do I do with this?
How  can I use it?
What do I write?

Reveal yourself, John Galt!
Hmmm, The “John Galt Line”…..

wow

It came to me…

The scenery between the lines reminds me of pieces I have written about reading the Bible as a living text. It’s about what’s in the lines, and what’s between the lines, but it’s more than that. It has a depth of scenery that appears to be whizzing past the moving reader, yet the scenery is still and stationary. The trick is, I gather, to stop, turn ninety degrees, and look past the lines, deeper into the page.  I tried it, and as I did, the faraway, unmoving Mountain began to draw toward me (and also get larger) as I approached It, just as it would happen if a driver going past turned directly toward his/her desired objective. What a great metaphor!

“Line upon line, precept upon precept” is, to my mind, a good thing – a good way to build a work.  The lines are stacked in two dimensions, the precepts in three, or more!

The Word of God has layers and unfathomable depths to be explored.
Turn into it when it seems everything is whizzing past.

When you seek to move closer to Him, He will move closer to you, dear reader.

My trust in our Lord has led me into the most amazing life I could have imagined.

I wish you even more than you can imagine, and pray that you, too, will get unexpected Nods from God
as you read, write, and travel through the scenery of your life.
Bless you!
L<  Gloryteller

P.S. – I would be very interested to hear of your God Nods!

Has anything remotely similar ever happened to you?
Join the discussion, or start one.  You are appreciated!

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Cornerstone

I was reading Peter’s ‘first’ and noticed how he refers to Jesus Christ as the Chief Cornerstone twice in quick succession. That caused me to think – to ponder.
I sat in ponderous thought.
I thought about how ancient Isaiah also referred to the Messiah as the cornerstone.  God gave several different authors this metaphor that is eternal in its reach.
“The Bible is an astoundingly brilliant work!” I thought.  (Duh! Of course it is!)

“Cornerstone”, I thought . . . An ancient builder’s term; one with which many in Peter’s flock would have been familiar, as I am, even today. The primary (chief) cornerstone is the first part of a building to be set. Primary to the other three cornerstones. (I think of the other cornerstones as being the Prophets, the Apostles, and the Disciples.) Its placement must be perfect and the stone (the block) itself must be perfect, for the perfection of the whole building depends on it.
“That’s Jesus!” I thought.
The stone that was rejected in Matthew, Mark and Luke became the Chief Cornerstone. The builders (the pharisees, I’m assuming?) built their building without Him, resulting in its collapse. Their structure of belief in themselves, and not Jesus, is a fallen one. (“Not one stone will remain upon another”, He said.)

The cornerstone is chosen for its qualities of material strength, purity of substance, and ability to endure ponderous weights under all conditions of time and weather. It is then shaped with sharp steel to possess many perfect right angles. “That, too, is Jesus!” I said to myself.

When the resulting cornerstone is perfected, it must be set. Its placement will determine the final position and shape of the whole structure. It must be perfectly plumb, perfectly level, and lined up perfectly “straight with the world”. Although our Cornerstone will be considered foundational, it must, Itself, be placed on a solid footing – either bedrock, or packed, undisturbed soil but never sand, clay, or mud. And, to me, that foundation is the Word of Father God.
“Jesus, again!” He always stands upon The Word – the Good and Precious Stone of Acts, Ephesians, Peter, Psalms, and Isaiah.

Now let us assume that our stone is a perfect cube, although it could as easily be a rectangular solid. How does one make a perfect cube? By measuring the diagonals of each face (from each corner to the opposite one) and making certain that the two diagonals on each face are exactly the same length. My cognitive processes soon led me to a wonder – the figure formed by those two diagonals is . . . a cross! The diagonals make four perfect right angles. I really like making these connections!

And if the cornerstone were a rectangular solid, the diagonals would form an ‘ X ‘.
SIDE NOTE: Here is an excerpt from a previous post:

“I began to think about how the X in Xmas stands for Christ.  I found that the X is actually Chi, the first letter in the Greek word, Χριστος.  I hope I got that right, because, hey, it’s Greek!  Anyway, that Greek word means Christos – the anointed One – which is a translation of the Hebrew “Messiah”.    The X in Xmas is derived from the Chi (pronounced “Ky” which rhymes with “my”, or “guy”) in this word: Χριστος.  X, or Chi, (we think in terms of an English “X”) came to denote “Christ” sometime in the sixteenth century.”  I consider the cross and an “X” to be closely related – another connection to our Jesus.

So, the Prime Cornerstone is precious. It is perfect in itself and is placed perfectly. It is strong, and pure, and durable, and beautiful. It stands on the most solid footing. Its faces bear the figurative markings of a cross. It is essential – the First, the Primary, the Beginning. “Yes!” I thought, “That is most certainly our Jesus! If we are the bricks in the walls of His body – His Church – He most certainly holds us up in all the ways one would expect a perfect Cornerstone to perform!”

Then there is the Capstone.

In the NIV, Peter adds the reference of Jesus as the Capstone – the finishing stone covering the top of the walls. He refers to Psalm 118. (Zechariah also spoke of The Capstone.)  The Chief Capstone is Ornate and glorious. It signifies completion, exaltation, and eminence. It sits atop the wall directly above the Chief Cornerstone, sealing, and protecting, and possessing every piece under it. This too, is a wonderful picture of Jesus.

I picture the essence – the Spirit – of the Living Cornerstone beginning to ascend up the corner of the building, slowly, like an elevator. It is lit with an inner glow that gets brighter and whiter as it rises. As it passes each row of blocks comprising the walls, it imparts its light to that row all the way around. It keeps rising, lighting each row and burning brighter with pristine white fire, ascending and transforming until it reaches its final position seated on top of the wall. It is at the peak of its splendor and glory. It has made the whole structure splendid and glorious. The finished work. The epitome; the peak; the top Capstone. High and exalted. He now sits at the highest pinnacle of everything. The Beginning and the Ending. The First and the Last. Alpha and Omega. Beginner and finisher of our faith and our salvation. The strong Rock we stand upon and our Seal at the top.  Our Crown!

Cornerstone and Capstone. Yes! That is our Lord Jesus!
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About The Music Links Below

I don't own, and have no claim on, these music videos. The following are simply links inside my website pointing back to the original locations of the videos. The names of the creators of these videos are cited wherever possible, and only "embedding-enabled" selections are used.

The Basic Christian Library

"Mere Christianity" by C.S. Lewis. This is fundamentally what Christianity is all about.

"The Case for Christ" by Lee Strobel. Another converted atheist presents His compelling case for believing in Jesus.

"Left To Tell" by Imaculee Ilibagiza. This profound work is her own extraordinary story of endurance, discovery of the Holy Spirit, grace, healing, and an astonishingly compelling account of the necessity for forgiveness.

Compelling Christian Fiction Reads

"The Circle" 4-book series by Ted Dekker.
A man is the bridge between two very different worlds. Sound familiar? Can he save both? This T.D. work is brilliant in my book.

"This Present Darkness" and "Piercing the Darkness" by Frank E. Peretti. Tales of spiritual warfare from a unique perspective. Stirred a small controversy, but sold millions. What are we Christians afraid of? Hey, it's fiction!

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