Suddenly Sunday – The Fourth Sunday of Advent


The Fourth Sunday of Advent
Today, December 22, 2019, is the fourth Sunday of Advent.
We light the fourth candle – the love candle,
in my book, the easiest one to light in the heart,
for Father God loved us first and sent His Jesus
to enable us to love Him in a completely new way, and
interact, and have a real relationship with Him.
Love rescued, and love reconciled!
This candle also signifies His imminent presence.
The Advent season is all about expectant waiting;
excited, hopeful, waiting for the Baby’s presence!
We want Him to be born soon!
We want to see Him!
He seems so close;
the air is charged!
We can almost feel angels in the air.
The Spirit of God certainly presides over our village.
Tomorrow night, everything will be poised,
miraculously in position,
as it was around 2020 years ago!
Mary, her Baby, Joseph, shepherds,
angels – lots of angels!
Peace and joy are closing in.
Tuesday night is the Holy Night – Jesus Christ’s night.
The Advent of Christ is all but complete!

Are preparations perfect?
Is my heart ready for His arrival?
I find myself wishing that I could be less imperfect;
better prepared,
And more ready.
Yet, hope in Him, the peace and joy He brings,
His love, and all His magnificent light,
uphold and uplift my soul.
I am ready as I can be for Jesus’ arrival!
Soon, incarnation!
Soon, adoration!
Soon, celebration!



He. Came. Down.


He Came Down


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,
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 earthly 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,
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.
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 meager 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
He came down,
and now He reigns
King of My Heart.

Glory to God in the Highest Heaven!


The Happiest Christbirth to you, today!
LS< Your Gloryteller


Carol of the Birds – Let Heaven and Nature Sing!

Yesterday’s post used birds prominently
in a poignant allegory that alluded to
why Jesus had to be incarnated.
This next uses birds prominently
to make another important allusion:

In tribute to the people of his native country, Catalonia, (at the time of this writing in 2017, embroiled in issues with independence from Spain) ninety-four-year-old Pablo Casals, famed cellist, composer, and conductor, had often ended his concerts with “El Cant Dels Ocells” (“The Song of the Birds”), a Catalonian Christmas carol.

“It is so beautiful,” he said, “And it is also the soul of my country, Catalonia.” “The birds in the sky, in the space, sing: “Peace! Peace! Peace!””

Song of The Birds, or, Carol of the Birds, isn’t as widely known as many of the more traditional carols, but I wish it were. (please note that there are two or three songs which have the same name, but different lyrics and tunes.) (and even this Catalonian song has several different versions)

I am fascinated by the idea that the birds might represent nature, or the created universe, when it first becomes “aware” of The Creator’s arrival inside His creation. What happiness, and joy, and awe, and peacefulness, is expressed by these “voices of nature”.

This may be frivolous speculation on my part, wondering how nature “perceives” its Creator; is it somehow “conscious” or “aware” of Him in a way we cannot understand, we aren’t conscious of, and can’t have much knowledge of? And maybe not “individual” awareness like that of one rock or mountain, but a collective awareness with the whole of Creation giving glory and being glory for our mighty God.

 I know a few people who hear this music as haunting, morose, even depressing.
Not me!
I hear bright awe and respect;
deep and joyous, sacred mystery;
gentle, peaceful, yet glorious and ecstatic, worship,
in reverence for the Christ-child.

How do you perceive it?

Below are four different lyrical versions of “Carol of the Birds”.
There may be more, I’m not certain,
but these are poetic, and deep,
 compelling, and emotional.
One could almost imagine that nature,
or Creation, is praying to, and worshiping,
our all knowing, all encompassing, Creator-God;
Our Christ-child, our Jesus. The version directly below
contains the verses used in the video.
If you don’t have time to read the different
versions, please skip down to my commentary
to find some of the things
all the versions have in common.

~ ~ ~

The words given below are as most commonly sung
in the English version;

A star rose in the sky
and glory from on high
did fill the night with splendor.
Came birds with joyful voice
to carol and rejoice with
songs so sweet and tender.

The eagle then did rise,
went flying through the skies,
to tell the wondrous story,
sang: Jesus, born is he,
who comes to set us free,
he brings us joy and glory.

The sparrow with delight
said: This is Christmas night,
our happiness revealing.
The sky with praises rang,
as finch and robin sang
their songs of glad rejoicing.

The lark upon the wing
said: Now it seems like spring,
no more is winter pressing;
for now a flower is born
whose fragrance on this morn
to earth brings heaven’s blessing.

Sang magpie, thrush, and jay,
It seems the month of May
in answer to our yearning.
The trees again are green
and blossoms now are seen,
it is the spring returning!

The cuckoo sang: Come, come,
And celebrate the dawn
this glorious aurora.
The raven from his throat
then trilled a festive note
to the unexcelled Señora.

The partridge then confessed,
I want to build my nest
beneath that very gable
where I may see the Child
and watch whene’er he smiles
with Mary in that stable.

~ ~ ~ 

A more literal translation from the Catalonian:

In seeing emerge
The greatest light
During the most celebrated of nights,
The little birds sing.
They go to celebrate Him
With their delicate voices.

The imperial eagle
flies high in the sky,
singing melodically,
saying, “Jesus is born
To save us all from sin
And to give us joy.”

The sparrow responds,
Today, this Christmas Eve,
Is a night of good cheer!”
The greenfinch and the siskin
Say in singing, too,
“Oh, what joy I feel!”

The linnet sang,
“Oh, how lovely and beautiful
Is the child of Mary!”
The thrush answers:
“Death is conquered,
My life now begins!”

The nightingale twitters,
“He is more beautiful than the sun,
More brilliant than a star!”
The redstart and the stonechat
Celebrate the infant
And his virgin Mother.

The wren sang
For the glory of the Lord,
Inflating with fantasy;
The canary follows:
Its music sounds like
A great song from Heaven.

Now comes the woodlark
Saying, “Come birds
To celebrate the dawn!”
And the big blackbird, whistling,
Went celebrating
The greatest Lady.

The tit says,
“It is neither winter nor summer
But rather springtime;
A flower is born
That gives a sweet smell all around
And fills the whole world.”

The francolin sang,
“Birds, who wants to come
Today at daybreak
To see the good Lord
With all of his splendor
Within a stable?”

The hoopoe goes singing,
“This night has come
the greatest of Kings!”
The turtle dove and rock dove
Admire, and to all
Sing without sadness.

Woodpeckers and bullfinches
Fly between fruit trees
Singing their joys.
The quail and the cuckoo
From afar have come
To see the Messiah.

The partridge sang,
“I am going to make my nest
Inside of that stable,
To look upon the Infant;
How he trembles
In the arms of Mary.”

The magpiemistle thrush, and jay
Say, “May is coming!”
The goldfinch responds,
“All the trees become green again,
All the branches flower
As if it were the spring.”

The chaffinch whispers,
“Glory today and tomorrow;
I feel great joy
To see the diamond
So handsome and brilliant
In the arms of Mary.”

The scops owl and little owl
Seeing the sunrise
Leave confused.
The tawny owl and eagle-owl
Say, “I cannot look;
Such splendors are in front of me!”

~ ~ ~

Joan Baez version:

When rose the eastern star, the birds came from a-far,
in that full might of glory.
With one melodious voice, they sweetly did rejoice,
and sang the wondrous story.
Sang, praising God on high, enthroned above the sky,
and his fair mother Mary.
The eagle left his lair, came winging through the air,
his message loud arising.
And to his joyous cry, the sparrow made reply,
his answer sweetly voicing.
“O’ercome are death and strife, this night is born new life”,
the robin sang rejoicing.
When rose the eastern star, the birds came from a-far.

~ ~ ~

Beautiful lyrics of unknown origin:

1. Upon this holy night,
When God’s great star appears,
And floods the earth with brightness
Birds’ voices rise in song
And warbling all night long
Express their glad heart’s lightness
Birds’ voices rise in song
And warbling all night long
Express their glad heart’s lightness

2. The Nightingale is first
To bring his song of cheer,
And tell us of His glad – ness:
Jesus, our Lord, is born
To free us from all sin
And banish ev’ry sadness!
Jesus, our Lord is born
To free us from all sin
And banish ev’ry sadness!

3. The answ’ring Sparrow cries:
“God comes to earth this day
Amid the angels flying.”
Trilling in sweetest tones,
The Finch his Lord now owns:
“To Him be all thanksgiving.”
Trilling in sweetest tones,
The Finch his Lord now owns:
“To Him be all thanksgiving.”

4. The Partridge adds his note:
“To Bethlehem I’ll fly,
Where in the stall He’s lying.
There, near the manger blest,
I’ll build myself a nest,
And sing my love undying.
There, near the manger blest,
I’ll build myself a nest,
And sing my love undying.

~ ~ ~

What are some of the things these different versions have in common?

The most celebrated holy night
in which a great light appears.
The heavens are filled with God’s glory!

The earth is flooded with brightness.
That illumination allows birds to awake, fly and sing,
when most do not do so in darkness.

From eagle to sparrow, all kinds of birds
sing of Jesus’ birth.
They extol the virtues of Him and His mother.
They praise the Highest Lord
with voices both loud and sweet.

The birds come from near and far away,
and sing of how He will set them,
and all creation free.
They joyfully sing of how Heaven’s blessing
has come to earth, and of how He will overcome
darkness, sin, and death.

The birds sing of the dawn of new life;
eternal springtime blooming;
they sound thankful and hopeful.
They worship and adore Him!
They want to stay near Him;
They pledge loyalty.

Best of all, the multitude of birds rejoice!

And who do these birds represent?
All of creation?
Yes, all of that, and maybe
And you.
And all of us.
~ ~ ~
Merry Christmas!
Sing loudly and sweetly!

Len @






A Paul Harvey Christmas Message – The Man and the Birds


A Brilliant Modern Day Parable

Do you remember Paul Harvey?
Have you even ever heard of him?
He was an American radio broadcaster for nearly six decades.
His soft-spoken telling of current events and
“the rest of the story” with that gentle voice of his
kept me company over many a lonely lunchtime sandwich.
This next brings back floods of good memories.

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!



Jesus, Joy of the Highest Heaven


A Children’s Christmas Carol for Everyone

I lift up Keith and Kristyn Getty and I thank them for this beautiful song.
And I thank Him for them!
And I thank Him for you, my dear reader!


This baby, making His first sounds, learning His first words, 
taking His first steps, becoming self-aware.
Like us in every way.
Yet, in every way, different.


“Come to turn me, a stranger, into a child of God.”
Remember, JESUS is the subject of Christmas, and the object of Christmas is US.




Advent, Week Three!

Today, the third and final full week of Advent begins, preceding the joy-filled celebration day!
It is getting closer! We can hardly wait! Intensity grows, as does the magnitude of the hope we have,
and the peace which is coming!
This week we savor the JOY surrounding His coming to live with us!
Emmanuel – is coming here because of The Father’s love for all people.

In this third week, we also remember all the proclamations made about our coming Christ-child, our Messiah, our glorious Savior; proclamations by Isaiah, by angels, by Elizabeth, by Mary, by Zechariah, by more angels, and by many others.

Luke 2:9 Just then, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid! For behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people!

He is coming, not to condemn the lost, but to give them a saving light.
What joy it is to know Him, having been one of those lost, and now bathed in His light.
And what a joy it is to know the astounding love of The Father,
Who sent 
this generous gift of His Son!

I, the least of believers,
proclaim this joy, 
proclaim His glory,
(like it says in the header above)
And like so many believers,
so many bloggers,
I repeat the sounding JOY!

Joy To the World,
and Peace to ALL mankind!

Joy to the World, the Lord has come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing!

Joy to the World, the Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy!

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found!

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders, of His love!
~ ~ ~

May God bless your joyous preparations,
your happy, yet serious, contemplations,
your thankful remembrance of His purpose for
coming down,
And of His all- encompassing love.
He is coming, He is here, He is coming again!

Your Advent Gloryteller




The Perfect Christmas Gift

My friend, I give you the gift of a song; music with a video.
It speaks for itself.

“The Perfect Christmas Gift”,
written and performed by Sandy Howell.
Uploaded by Bob Marshall.
Many thanks to you both.



The Second Week of Advent Begins Today

The second week of Advent is focused on peace.

Waiting becomes slightly more intense as we add the expectancy of
hope and peace in preparation for our Savior’s arrival.
Of course it is a passive intensity of expectation
as we actively wait!

 We light the second candle,
If not on our tables,
Then in our hearts.
And light increases.
It doubles!

We can hardly wait until the full light of His glorious presence shines upon the world, and also upon each of us!

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).

Jesus is the only One that can bring us to peace with Father God.

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1).

And suddenly there appeared with the angel a great multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to all mankind upon which His favor rests!” Luke 2: 13-14

Here’s a song that is full of hope and peace,
And light too!

Come to us, Child of Glory,
We can hardly wait.
Come to us quickly,
Your hands hold our fate.

A happy and blessed Advent season to you
from your Gloryteller.







Hopeful Message for the First Week of Advent

The first week of Advent is said to be concentrated upon the hope of the Savior’s arrival as supported by the Scriptures’ prophetic promises. There are several pertinent verses, but I chose this one :

“The days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will fulfill the gracious promise I made to the house of Israel and to the house of Judah. In those days and at that time I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David’s line; he will do what is just and right in the land.” (Jeremiah 33:14-15).

O, Jesus, 
We await your sweet arrival!


Words and Music for Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow
by Charles Wesley:

Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus

1. Come, thou long expected Jesus,
born to set thy people free;
from our fears and sins release us,
let us find our rest in thee.
Israel’s strength and consolation,
hope of all the earth thou art;
dear desire of every nation,
joy of every longing heart.

Mark E. Hunt devised a second, or middle, verse.
I like it and included it here:

Come to earth to taste our sadness,
He whose glories knew no end;
By His life He brings us gladness,
Our Redeemer, Shepherd, Friend.
Leaving riches without number,
Born within a cattle stall;
This the everlasting wonder, 
Christ was born the Lord of all.

2. Born thy people to deliver,

born a child and yet a King,
born to reign in us forever,
now thy gracious kingdom bring.
By thine own eternal spirit
rule in all our hearts alone;
by thine all sufficient merit,
raise us to Thy* glorious throne.

(*emphases, mine)



The hope that the child of God has is an eternal hope.
Peter tells us that the Child of God has
“an inheritance that can never perish, spoil, or fade – kept in heaven for you” (
1 Peter: 1-4 )



Advent Arrives Today!

“Advent” is here!
It is today! December 1, 2019
Happy Advent and happy December!

All Creation is pregnant with anticipation!

This is the time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of Jesus’ birth.
The word “Advent” comes from the Latin “adventus” which means coming, or arrival, of a person or thing.

In this special and absolutely unique case,
what is coming is rich in mystery;
profound in its implications!
Excitement builds in Heaven and earth!

I find it interesting that the words “Advent” and “adventure” are so closely related, which is fitting since we are waiting and preparing for the arrival of a series of awe-inducing, exciting events :

All that surrounds Jesus’ Nativity celebration,
A son is to be given,
800 year-old prophecy to be fulfilled,

The imminent arrival of Emmanuel, “God With Us”,
The Kingdom of God being established on Earth,
Reconciliation with the Father,
Renewal of all things,

Rescue of the perishing,
Redemption of souls,
Abundant life,
Signs and wonders,
Miraculous acts,
Great Joy will be made available to all people,
Messiah! Savior! Christ! He’s coming, 
alreadynot yet, and soon!
The image of The Father will walk on earth,
The advent of Love!
And more, and more, and more!
And, in the fullness of time, Jesus’ long-awaited final return!

We are waiting, and prayerfully preparing, not just for events, but for the arrival of the Personage
without whom there would be no experience of exciting spiritual adventure, no exploration of things unknown, no real and true experience of love and life whatsoever.

But for the birth of the little Lord Jesus, I could not live.
As He is born, so am I.
So are we all!

I wait and look forward to honoring His birth; to observing the amazing circumstances that surround it.
It has “happened” again and again in countless hearts and minds.
It is happening now in mine,
and will again, endlessly, with passage of time.

The expectant waiting and preparation of my heart applies not only to Christbirth,
but to Resurrection Sunday and Thanksgiving as well.
Advent is an important concept.
It is exciting and peaceful too.
I want to make it part of me;
I want to live it.








The Reflection

Today, the temperature is dropping quickly. The wind is blowing hard from the north. Our sugar maple has been nearly stripped of its beautiful leaves as have the red maples, and, indeed, all of the deciduous trees. Winter wind chill has arrived with a powerful cold-front and “the wolf is at the door”.
      Yesterday, the sugar maple had more than half of its bright golden leaves intact on its head, and the other trees displayed various hues of reds and yellows, oranges and purples. The sun shone and the day was near perfect. I even went walking without a coat in early morning, down to the trail around the big pond .
     As I rounded the east side, I looked across the pond as is my habit, at the large, colorful trees which have long been standing on the west side. The sky above was that perfect blue which is elusive even on the nicest of days. The perfect sky acted as a backdrop to highlight the colors and shapes of the trees. The sun was at that perfect morning angle that makes things surreally, beautifully, colorfully real.
Suddenly, I looked at the pond’s surface. I saw the reflection of the trees and sky for only a moment, then the surface disappeared! There was no breeze and the surface was like a mirror. There were no ripples, no color difference, no fuzziness, nothing to differentiate the reflection from the “real”. All was still. “So still,” I whispered.
“Be still and know that I AM God,” came the whispered reply.
“I will,” I thought.
Everything but
the pond, trees, and perfect sky kind of disappeared then. It was as though I had entered another dimension where the reflection was the real.

      The upside-down trees were just as “real” to my sight as the upright ones. The colors and shapes of all the leaves stood out sharply. I bent over and looked at the reflection with my head upside-down. I couldn’t tell the difference, but my mind still tried to figure it out. Standing upright, my mind said “The bottom one is the reflection.” I looked into the mirror-pond and thought, “Yes, but the sky is just as deep there as it is high in the real.” The pond had taken on depth as “infinite” as the sky! Wow! Astounding!
      My spirit finally spoke, with the Holy Spirit echoing (or was it the other way ’round?) :  “So it is with Jesus! He is the perfect reflection of The Father here below. Equal in beauty, equal in depth. God and God. Deep and Deep. Highest and Highest. Everlasting and everlasting!” 
      Jesus said: “I and the Father are one.”
                       “He who has seen Me has seen the Father.”
                       “He who beholds Me beholds the One who sent Me.”
                       “The Father is in Me, and I AM in the Father.”
      “So, who are You, then,” I asked The HS. “Are You the place where the “real” and the “reflection” connect? The “fold” where you can flip the two “pages” together and make them match? Are You the breeze that is not blowing this morning? Are You the special way that the sun is shining on this whole scene?”
      “Hahaha! I love you so! I AM, kind of, all of those, but most of all, I Am the One who is helping you to stand here and see!
Now take a last deep look. Drink this in, for the sun is rising, the breeze will soon increase, and this moment will never come again. Capture it! Harvest and preserve it! Go in peace and write! Write soon! Tell this reader of the glory you’ve seen!”

      I drank and drank. I thought and thought. I thanked and thanked. Then I reluctantly turned and walked on air all the way up the hill, and home.




Burden of Years

In youth we bear the burden of too few years,
As seniors, the burden of too many.
Somewhere between, there is a moment
of enjoying exactly the right amount.
Memorize that moment.
The moment when the “burden” is balanced.
And there you can live!
Free in spirit,
Free in wisdom,
Free of body,
Sitting free of burden at the feet of
The Ancient Of Days.


Mountain of Love

The new bell tower atop Iron Mountain.

I recently returned from camping on Iron Mountain. That won’t mean much to most of you, but to some folks the mention of Iron Mountain elicits great joy, and happy memories.
Located between Mena and Hatfield, Arkansas, Iron Mountain is the main gathering place in the nation, and really the world, for the CMA. Country Music Awards? No!  Don’t feel bad. That was my first thought too, when I first saw those three letters together. It turns out the CMA acronym I’m talking about stands for Christian Motorcyclist Association! And, in case you thought “Christian bikers” is an oxymoron, there are Christian bikers. A large number of them!
My first taste of CMA was over a year ago when my cousins invited me to the annual “Changing of the Colors” rally at Iron Mountain. My cousins promised good fellowship and worship with them and their fellow CMA-ers. I went expecting to visit with them and worship with maybe two-hundred other Christians, but when I walked into the large auditorium, I was surprised and overwhelmed to see at least ten times that many!
Worship was exuberant and meaningful. I knew the songs and could participate freely and joyfully. It was great to be in the middle of all that with my cousins. The speakers were good at what they are called to do and I learned a great deal about CMA. It is a worldwide organization and one of the most successful of its kind. The thing that captured me is their strong evangelistic goal – to bring the Good News of Jesus to a lost world. That is my calling too, so I was captivated – captured by all that they are “about”. Their fundraising events for world missions are called “Run for the Son”. Their motto is “Here if you need me.”
I quickly did the training and became a member with the indispensable help of my cousins.
I met many, many fine people; people who call me brother; people who call me “family”.
In my home church of about three-hundred, not everyone does that. I have, unfortunately, had people who have seen me in church for fifteen years walk right past without a sign of recognition or a greeting. Not so with CMA! There is no such thing as a stranger. Anywhere on the mountain, an encounter with another person will grant you a smile, a nod of greeting, a handshake, a good word, a pat on the shoulder, even a hug and the exclamation, “Brother”! It is truly one, big, loving family.

As I told a couple from Minnesota with whom I have become close friends, “You are very good at making people feel included. You make me feel like I truly belong!” My cousins A.H., D.H., and T.H. (Yes, you, T., honorary cousin! ) are that way as well. All the CMA is that way!
We all love Jesus and also one another. That is The Great Commandment! We all want to do our part to take the Good News out to the world and make believers. That is The Great Commission!
I’m feelin’ it and I hope they feel it from me.
The presence of Love is all over Iron Mountain, and through the CMA, He radiates outward to the ends of the earth! 



The Wheat and the Grape – A Sacred Harvest

*   *   *

I read in Our Daily Bread today that “our Savior hung between Heaven and earth
to bear every sin of every generation on His shoulders.”
He hung between Heaven and me . . .
What pain it gives me to revisit that scene . . .
But the above statement led me to think deeply about
what He had told his disciples
and us,
only the night before He hung there – 
what we must do to remember Him;
to remember who He was,
to remember what He did,
how He did it,
and why.

As I pondered,
and contemplated,
and thought,
“The Lord’s Supper is absolute genius”
is what I concluded.

(not that I think I’m the first, nor the only one, to proclaim that)
(and I know that I foolishly reiterate the obvious,
because of course it’s genius, it’s Jesus! )

He broke the bread and compared it to His body
which would imminently be broken for us.
He poured the wine out and compared it to His blood
which would soon be poured out for us.

“He hung between Heaven and earth.”
He was, and is now, intermediary between us and The Father.
Not as a wall, but as a bridge.
He made a way to raise us to His shoulders,
thus standing between us and the evil one “in the earth”.

As for myself, there is far more here than “meets the eye”.
Have you ever thought about how grains
like corn, barley, rye, and wheat are all separated
from the earth by a woody stem?
The seed head of the wheat plant is the “fruit”, in a sense,
that we use to make our bread.

The same applies to “the fruit of the vine”;
tomatoes, cucumbers, kiwi, guava, and, get this – passion fruit –
and predominantly, grapes.
All grow above the ground on woody or semi-woody vines.
They all contain juice, but grape juice makes “traditional” wine.
(side note: there is great debate whether Jesus’ “fruit of the vine” was unfermented juice, or wine)
I’m in the wine camp because wine stores better, not to mention that the Bible states “wine”.
I won’t even dwell on apple, orange, peach, plum trees, or berry bushes,
each of which produce juicy fruit on woody stems;

but I’m getting off track.

The point is that grapevines, like wheat plants,
produce their fruit “between Heaven and earth” on woody stems,
and the final product of both were used at the Lord’s Supper.
The Last Supper of our Lord!

By now you may be making the connection I’m getting at.
Lord Jesus compared His body to a broken loaf of bread,
and His covenantal blood to the poured-out juice of the grape,
in order that:
“as often as you
eat this bread
and drink this cup,
you will do so in remembrance of Me.”
Connecting His spiritual Self to the physical act of
eating and drinking something specific,
is brilliant in my estimation.

It makes the act sacred, and simultaneously
makes our remembrance of Him sacred.
But for me, it doesn’t end there.
Jesus was always using agricultural metaphors because,
I assume, most everyone in His day knew something of the subject.
Is it a great leap to make that He also connected Himself
with the fruit of the earth?

With harvest?
With life-giving, life sustaining, food and drink?
With saving us from spiritual starvation?

If that connection is only for me to make
in order to strengthen my faith in Him,
to take me deeper into our relationship,
to tell me more of the story I long to know more about,
or to give me insight into something so sacred
that I scarcely can digest it,
Then so be it.
You, dear reader, can make of it what you will.
If it doesn’t do anything for you; if it sounds wrong, leave it.

But here’s the thing:
I maintain that Jesus not only connected Himself to
The Bread and The Cup,
But also to the wheat and the grape.
Rich and ripe,
He stood like a sturdy stalk of wheat
before a terrible threshing,
and He hung like a beautiful cluster of grapes
before a horrible crushing.
He stood and He hung there between Heaven and earth,
between us and oblivion,
between us and eternity,
to intentionally endure the torture of threshing,

and the horrible crushing pain – for us, dear reader. . .
The first and best fruit of the earth,
until the harvest was finished.
He made Himself our everything,
even our spiritual food and drink.
Essential, lifesaving, sacred, and beautiful.

The Lord’s Supper.
The Lord’s Harvest.
Absolute Genius!
Absolute Jesus!



Thinking About Repenting

No, I’m not thinking about whether or not I should repent, haha, I’m thinking about what repenting means – what it means when a person repents, and more to the point, my position on its importance in the walk of faith.
      There are a few different definitions of the word repent, from the mundane “feeling bad or sorry about your failings”, to “showing sincere remorse for one’s wrongdoings”, to “changing one’s mind and lifestyle”, to the more Biblical “turning away from sin to obtain forgiveness”.
      God’s Word makes it clear that repentance – turning away from sin and sin nature – is one of His requirements for salvation and eternal life. However, in the nest of my puny mind, an idea fledges, ready for flight, that simply regretting one’s past, changing ones mind, or lifestyle, or even turning away from sin is not enough. It is not the depth of what is required.
      After much thought, research, and scripture reading, I agree that repentance is a turning, but it is not only a turning away, but also a turning toward. Going a step further, I maintain that it is, or should be, more a turning toward Jesus than just a turning away from sin.
      We can’t depend on ourselves to do any of that serious kind of turning, can we? We are completely inadequate for it. So how do we turn? We believe in, and trust, and have faith in Jesus for our turning!
He said it: “Apart from Me you can do nothing.” We are incapable without Him! How can we turn away from sin without the grace by which He enables our faith in Him?

Ephesians 2: 8-9
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.

Turning from sin on our own and thus receiving salvation would be like saving ourselves, would it not? It would be of our own works. Impossible!
I believe that all our well-being hinges on our relationship with Jesus, and that begins with the gift of faith, undeserved but given through God’s grace. I believe that the moment one believes, and has trust and faith in Jesus; the moment we turn to Him as Lord of our lives, is the moment, by His grace, that we find it possible, and highly desirable, to turn away from our sins, and our sin. That repentance, that turning is of the heart. It seems to me that it is not simply a “one-and-done” either. It is a turning toward Him again, every moment. In this broken world, it has to be.

That’s my opinion on repentance. It is fully fledged and has taken wing. I believe it and I’m sticking to it (until, by His grace and for His glory, He sets me straight according to His Truth).
I’m Gloryteller. Talk with you later. : )



Beautiful Feet !

How beautiful on the mountains
    are the feet of the messenger who brings good news,
the good news of peace and salvation,
    the news that the God of Israel reigns!

Isaiah 52:7

My feet have been those feet.
Consider making your feet those feet,
whether on the mountains,
in the meadows,
on the mainstreets,
or in the malls.
The feet that deliver the message
of the good news of Father God and Jesus
are always beautiful!


Grammer or Grammar

An offbeat Gloryteller original:

People who wanna communicate good
should take grammar more serious.


Wandering Among Dogwood Lamps

Late last night, there was thunder. After several moments, an eerie flash caught my eye from where I lay reading. Through a doorway across the room, then through a double window across another room, our dogwood tree was perfectly framed. Momentarily, the entire tree became an exquisite, living Tiffany lamp, lit from the inside by a mysterious argent light source . . .

April is “dogwood time” in the Mid-South. This year, our delightful dogwood is extraordinarily beautiful. Its flower petals are whiter and much larger than they have ever been, densely covering all the branches. They are so large that when a breeze ripples through the tree, the petals flutter like the wings of large, white butterflies . . .

Yes, I am familiar with the legends and symbolism surrounding the dogwood tree. The legends, I discount. They are interesting as fables but have no Biblical or historically factual basis. The symbolism, however, I do embrace. I like every reminder, every metaphor, that reminds me of Jesus and His love:

The petals, which are actually specialized leaves, or bracts, are the purest white, which reminds me of Christ’s perfect purity. There are four petals arranged in a cross-like pattern, and each petal has a semicircular hole at the tip, reminiscent of those that might be made by a nail. In addition, each “hole” is mysteriously stained with a pinkish or reddish blotch. The true flower is in the center of the four petals. It is green and yellow and is said to be a reminder of the crown of thorns that was forced painfully onto Jesus’ head. Interestingly, the “berries” often form in clusters of three. Their red color among the green leaves reminds me of Christbirth – the Christmas season! The sets of three, to me, symbolize the three divine persons of the Holy Trinity.

. . . . There was lightning once again, then more thunder, and this time it was closer. I turned my reading light off. The enveloping darkness was immediately banished by the intense, momentary, white glow of the dogwood. Once again, it looked as though it was lit from within, and somehow I was transported; translated to a place I had been only in my imagination until last night. This time it seemed real.
I was walking on a winding, groomed garden path surrounded by surreal beauty. Unearthly beauty, except that here, too, there were dogwoods. The garden was so large, I could not see the beginning nor ending of it. An ancient place; possibly the parent of all gardens . . .

The path meandered, and the dogwoods that lined it were all lit from inside their canopies by light that made the sun seem dimmer by comparison, yet it was a soft light. Magnificent blooming magnolias of all kinds and colors formed a backdrop. There were sprays of color from crabtrees and redbuds behind the dogwoods, as occasional apple, peach, and pear trees displayed their richly-flowered abundance. All were lit with the same urgently-joyous white glow.

As I continued, I perceived a change: the blooming trees were giving way to ancient olive trees. Soon, I was in a much different garden; possibly the parent of all olive gardens! Those thick, gnarly trunks had the look of having seen countless days; having seen wonders and also tragedies. This place was reminiscent of the garden where Jesus would go to pray . . . and each old tree also glowed from inside, but with a more yellow-green light; a more somber light.
I walked on, but was dismayed when the path changed to pebbles and dirt. Pebbles, and dirt, and rough rocks. There were no more trees, only dry-bones desert. There were no more lights, no glow. No joy. None.
I looked back and there was only a dismal, grim cross on a barren hill. I was lost in desolation. Isolation. I ran and stumbled repeatedly. The sky was dark at midday . . .

After a seeming eternity, the dry, rugged path skirted the top of a high cliff from which I could look down upon an expansive valley. I saw the garden of olives. Beyond that was beauty of which I could see no beginning nor any end.  Across the valley were snow-covered mountains glowing mightily from a mysteriously powerful inner luminescence. Low on the mountainsides were aspen trees in “new leaf”, not yet even knowing how to shimmer and quake. There were flowering trees of every description lit from the inside with indescribable light. Multitudes of multicolored butterflies were alighting in the trees for the night. In the increasingly dusky light, even larger numbers of fireflies were replacing them in the air; blinking stars among numerous full-moons.
I knelt on one knee.

“I must somehow get back to that”, I thought. “I was not made for this distressing place; this despair. I know now I was made to live in the immense Garden – in the place of The Lights – to enjoy them forever.”
I can’t tell you what, or whom, it was that lifted me by my arms and glided me down – wafted – like an ecstatic dandelion seed in a cool spring breeze, to the valley of beauty far below. At last I stood in wonder, at home on the dogwood and firefly-lit path; tall, living, dogwood Tiffany lamps standing joyfully much farther than I could ever see.


Changing Fathers; Who’s My Daddy?

“What father, when you ask for a loaf of bread, would give you a rock?

What father, when you ask for a fish, would give you a snake?

Or if you ask for an egg, what father would give you a scorpion?”

My “first” and former “spirit father” did that.

He always gave me something terrible disguised as good, for “he” is evil; “he” is the father-of-lies.

There was always “something fishy” about that unsavory character. In John 8:44, Jesus says something important and powerful of “him” (to the Pharisees): “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father-of-lies.

Jesus also called this devil, this Satan,
“the enemy”

“the evil one”,
“prince of this world”,
“the tempter”,
“the accuser”.

“prince of demons”,
“the god of this world”.

It follows that we live “behind enemy lines” in this world. The enemy “owns” it in a sense. He usurped it from the rightful owners, our original ancestors, through fraud, deception, and deceit. The father/master of deceit is the originator of the first sin; he told the first lie. Of course, our progenitors were, more or less, willing accomplices in giving away what had been theirsthe entire world, even the entire universe. Today he still entices people to unwittingly give up wonders that are rightfully theirs.

Yet we born-again believers, we “new believers” are safe in our “new” Father’s stronghold, the same as those who have “always” believed. Not safe from pain, suffering, and persecution, necessarily, but at peace and safe in His promises; safe from the everlasting soul-death that the god-of-this-world wants for us.

We are soul-safe!

I disinherited and disowned the god-of-lies-of-this-world! I renounce, deny, and avoid him. He is my sworn enemy. The enemy of my soul.  There is no love in him, only the love of himself. I have a truckload of negative things to say about the father-of-lies, but maybe it is best to leave those to Jesus, who knows him best; Jesus, who said it all in red letters! You can see everything He said for yourself, and you really should!


My “new” spiritual Papa. My Abba. My “new” Daddy! I worship Him!
He spoke my name in eternity long before
He formed my body.
I’m certain He spoke to me inside my mother
and outside, before I could think or speak myself.
Sadly, I forgot that Paternal voice,
only to finally recognize it in my spirit
many decades later.
I began to remember Him!
I realized He had never forgotten me!
I saw the Light I had been blinded to!
I. Changed. Fathers!
And I’m forever grateful, and glad, and filled with Joy!

My “new” Father- the REAL, the ONLY – the first One – who always gives me far better than I ask or deserve, sooner or later, if I am patient. The best of bread, even if I asked for undeserved stale crumbs; the tastiest of fish, even if I would have settled for half-spoiled mudfin.
I discovered that principles I had rejected were actually true;
that while I was still His enemy, and a prodigal far from Him,

He made my reconciliation and my redemption
possible through Jesus’ loving sacrifice.
He welcomed me home with open arms.

 He extends to me forgiveness and undeserved grace.
He serves me new mercy every morning.
He leads me into the light and stays with me there.
There is no evil in Him, only good.
As far as I know, He doesn’t hate anyone or anything except for evil.
He does not promote fear. He desires love and devotion.
 He loves unconditionally and extravagantly.
He is love.
While the   false, fraudulent, “father”   stews in defeat,
Father God sends His Holy Spirit to me, through Jesus,
to help begin to clean me up; make me righteous; dress me up;
make me “look” my best, 
for I am a part and a member of something extraordinary.
Something indescribably beautiful which He calls
The Bride of His beloved Son.

One day, I will be adorned gloriously with my siblings,
worthy to stand next to The Groom
in the presence of His; of our,
Highest Father.

~  ~  ~

 I am blessed to have discovered
the identity of my real Father.
The Great One,
Ancient of Days,
Who loves me!
Not everyone is so fortunate.
If you don’t know, there are only two options.
One choice.
Who is your daddy?
Choose wisely.




My Third Christmas Story

A Sugarplum of a Dream Danced In My Head –
My Third Christmas Story –
Not Only A Christmas Story

I write from my experiences, from my knowledge, from divine personal revelation;

I write from my imagination,
from my heart,
and from my dreams.

I don’t completely understand dreaming. I can’t exactly figure out how it works, or can I fathom how Father God can somehow use a dream for my good,
or how the enemy can use one as a lie against my good. I’m thankful
for the gift of being able to discern which is which.

All I know is that some dreams are infused with truth,

and some are infested with lies.
All I know is that in dreams I often fly . . .

Some of what follows is odd, somewhat “crazy”, disjointed, strange, and as my fabricated redneck cousin, Chaff Rantley, would say, “Don’t make no sense”.
That is the way most dreams are, but there was something unique and special about the one I had last night. Many of my dreams are complex and detailed, with plots and storylines that I would be glad to use if I could only remember them for more than a few seconds after I awaken.

However, in a detailed dream, God gave me what turned out to be my “next” Christmas story. I awoke three times, then dreamed on, three times keeping the same theme, which is highly unusual in my dreaming experience. After each “chapter”, I thought, without logical cause to do so, and being only half to one-third awake, “This is my next Christmas story.”
This particular one was a dream that I somehow remembered in vivid detail. I didn’t intend for this story to be a long one, but God “wouldn’t leave me alone about it”, and I believe it turned out pretty much the way He wanted it to be.

~ ~ ~

Travelling in my black Jeep ( * I grin.*  I have never owned a Jeep and don’t care for black vehicles), I became ensnared in a freak blizzard, the 100-year kind. Because the snow was getting deep and the visibility was so poor, I pulled off the mountain highway at an isolated intersection. I was looking for a place to stop and take shelter, and ended up on a gravel road. The wind was howling, and my 4-wheel drive was churning furiously through deep snow. At the top of a long slope, up on a high hill, I found a small town that appeared to be roughly a quarter mile long – slightly longer than four dream football fields , stretched out along one side of the road. The barely readable sign read “Calvinton”.

The buildings were situated just off the road. I passed a small church, an old restaurant/diner/tavern, a tiny library, sheriff’s office, P.O., and city offices,  among other random buildings. Their parking lots were all adjacent to the road, or close to it. I saw a residential area behind the buildings. It felt as though I were in a very odd, unusual, part of Canada – a country I hope to visit one day, but haven’t yet in real life. It looked like one of those idyllic porcelain Christmas villages, only kind-of impoverished.

I made a U-turn at the far end of town, came back, and parked at the diner. The church was next door. I saw the church, got curious, and went in. The church parking lot was graveled, but well plowed of snow. It was chilly inside but much warmer than the wind chill outdoors. The unpadded wooden pews could have used refinishing and the lighting could have been better, but it was comfortable, if a bit drab and austere. I noticed the standard pulpit, and standard small altar, standing upon the standard platform.

Sitting in the left-hand back pew, was a man with slightly disheveled black hair, a black five o’clock shadow, nice slacks, dress shirt, and loafers. His arms were draped over the back of the pew and he had had one leg stretched out casually on the seat, but grew tense when he saw me and placed his foot on the floor. Looking me square in the eyes and raising his voice, he said, “Isaiah: 64, God has turned his back on us and left us to die under the swords of our enemies!” I was taken aback as he shouted, “Vengeance is mine, says the god of evil! An eye for an eye! Kill them ALL!” Then he pointed an index finger at me and yelled, “If God exists, he is a bad god. Evil. If he exists, I hate him. But he does NOT exist! This is a place of death! Now get OUT of here!”

I recoiled. The black five o’clock shadow seemed to have roots in his soul. I considered running, for a second, but a hand touched my shoulder. I turned to see a man in coveralls who motioned for me to follow him. While Five O’clock glared at me, Coveralls took me to the other side of the church, toward the front, where a tall stepladder stood under the building’s only stained glass window.
“Excuse my garb, I’m the maintenance man here. I’m also the pastor. More the former than the latter, these days. My window is leaking and I’m patching it up. Oh, and don’t mind Bob, he has his reasons for ranting. I figure, what better place for him to curse God than here?”

We shook hands, made introductions, and talked. The lithe, eagle-eyed, middle-aged pastor eagerly told me of himself, the town, and Bob. He talked non-stop. It seemed as though he hadn’t had anyone to speak with for a long time. I learned many things: Due to dire circumstances he got his seminarial/divinity/pastor’s degree at the online, and mail-order, San Juan’s School of Faith and Bible College.  He joked – he was a ” St John’s Fool of Scathe”. Being a fan of spoonerisms, I got it, and laughed.  This pastor confided that although his degree was online-mail order, he was serious about bringing the presence of God and His Word to this little town. The pastor said Bob was one of his best parishioners, in that, “hardly anyone else ever comes here any more”. He’s my lost sheep, a congregation of one. But, he stopped listening to me long ago, and probably stopped seeing me. Perhaps he listens to me pray. Perhaps something seeps in. No outward signs yet, sad to say . . .”
It seems Bob and his wife had attended services there until the wife had passed away during the birth of their son. Together, they had operated the town’s combination attorney/accountant/tax preparers’, and insurance office. They had done quite well, as you can imagine, until tragedy took her. Bob had gone a bit off kilter; some said he went mad.
He told me how The Word was sorely needed here due to the greater tragedy that befell when a terrible school bus accident killed most of the village’s children and the heart of the town along with them. That was 13 years ago. All the families with surviving children gradually moved away. His congregation faded, the schoolhouse sat empty, and the heart of the town sank. Sure, life went on. Business, and commerce, and ranching, went on. Going to work and coming home went on. But it was like a town without a reason. Its heartbeat weak, its pulse thready.
Some people still attended services, like Mary Ann something, Sheila somebody, some ranchers male and female, and his foster son, for whom he had great love and compassion as he did for every soul in town. Bob stayed home on Sunday morning. That was the nonexistent god’s day.

“Well, I’ve talked enough, gotta get this done. You should go next door to the tavern, meet some of the folks, have a brat and a brew, wait out this blizzard. Good meeting ya. Oh, and we would appreciate a prayer or three if you wouldn’t mind.”
“Be glad to,” I replied.

Bob’s glare never wavered. He strained to hear every word, it was obvious.

I awoke, well, partially. “This is my next Christmas story,” I thought. “What? The snow is the only thing remotely common to the Christmas season. That was strange . . .”
I rolled over.

Part Two

I walked through the blizzard to the diner, saying a quick prayer for Pastor and Bob, and went in. Adjacent to the main eating area where there were booths and tables, through a wide door, there was an indoor Biergarten sort of room under a lean-to roof. “This must be the tavern,” I thought. I wandered in and sat on the bench on one side of the single long wooden table in the center of the room. I ordered, and the waitress, Sheila, delivered my lunch. It was huge, delicious, and inexpensive. I ate with several ordinary down-to-earth townsfolk. As is my habit, I conversed with anyone willing. They were amiable. And the food was a delicious, though curious, mix of Austrian, German and Norwegian fare. Ha! Yes, Norwegian!  There was lots of good craft-beer. There was a great lot of conversing. People were jovial enough, yet there was an underlying feeling of a distressing loneliness; of something missing, of going through the motions – an emptiness.

My dream persona was a freelance writer, published in various magazines and newspapers. Once the woman named Mary Ann discovered that, she began to place old photos of the town, newspaper articles, old documents, even artifacts, like outdated baseballs and gloves, in a pile in front of me. She must have been hoarding the stuff away for years. I found out the woman was a retired teacher; kind, and insightful, who now worked in the “city” government office and also in the library. She had experienced a premonition that some positive press would save the wasting soul of Calvinton. I was intrigued with the idea of writing about the town, its denizens, and its history. On top of the pile, there was a newspaper article illustrating better days. The town’s buildings were gaily decorated, children were snowball fighting, a manger scene glorified the front sidewalk of the church. Figure skaters used the frozen pond. Hockey was played. There were colored lights; a tree lot. The caption said, “Christmas in the High Country”.

Suddenly, there was the strangest sight outside the window looking across the slope of the hill. An ice-removal maintainer was working to open the road. There were two large green and blue bulldozers hooked up in series, pulling a very long military style (think WWII Seabees style equipment) grader with huge, heavy, blade in the center. The grader had a rectangular body consisting of about 3 x 4 x 60 feet of solid steel. It was going slowly; a turtle’s pace, yet sparks were shooting off the blade as it peeled up the hard, thick ice on the uphill pull. I can’t explain the sparks, nor any of what follows.
Between the two front dozers, was attached a sky blue race-car with a woman inside, army-helmeted head leaning out the window, who appeared to be directing the operation using a walkie-talkie. The three front machines (dozer – car – dozer) were connected in a line with huge log-chains by which they pulled the long, boxlike, blading machine.
The blade itself looked stout and sharp enough to cut the top right off a granite boulder. There was also a great, large, bulldozer pushing the whole train. At one point the blade rode up over the ice causing the female foreman in the car to want to stop , back up, and reset to get under the ice again. The front dozer stopped but the one behind her didn’t, which crumpled the rear of her nice, pristine race-car. She was livid, screaming into the walkie , “I said stop, you lamebrained     @$#%$^&&^##@%^     so-and-sos!!!”, while waving her arms and bouncing up and down in her seat. She finally got the whole, complex rig backed up and reset. After a long effort, they reached the top of the hill. I told you it was a weird dream, (chuckles) . . .

Just then, a good looking, tall, very fit, young man of about 18 walked in. He said, “Aii-ara-bu-nee.” I immediately saw his challenge. Deaf Boy, I called him. Sad to say I have no proper name for him at this time. Blame the dreamstate. He wore a starched-and-pressed, button down, light maroon with white pinstripes, long sleeved shirt, jeans, and work boots. He worked at the town’s combination grocery/feed/hardware store. Deaf Boy sat beside me and got it across to me how if I put my head bones against his in a certain way, or used a plastic glass against the side of his head to talk into, He could translate the vibrations into something meaningful. It worked! Eventually, I pieced together from him and various others that he was the preacher’s foster son, deaf at birth, super intelligent, and that Mary Ann had home-schooled him at the library using picture-books to teach him reading and writing, and most everything else. She also taught him some lip reading and signing, but he preferred the head vibes, and even learned his own kind of speech. Everybody loved him. So did I.

Then the large, muscular, sheriff and his deputy came in. They wore the stereotypical tight, military style khaki shirts, the wide brim hats, and the sunglasses. They were all sidearms and shiny boots as they sat down on either side of me, I presume, to check out the stranger in town. Even though they said nothing, it was slightly intimidating until the pretty, good-natured, Sheila came to my defense telling them quietly and politely, but firmly, to back off, which they did. “How about giving him some slack. Come get a cuppa fresh coffee” she said. They followed her like puppies. Did I pick up on the quick “look” that passed between Sheila and Deaf Boy? You bet I did.

Rats. Roused again . . . “This is my next Christmas story,” I thought, fuzzily, for the second time. How funny, odd, and strange. At least some vestiges of Christmas had surfaced this time. I smacked three times thinking it was done, and turned over again. Perhaps I only dreamed that I had awoken . . .

~ ~ ~

Part Three

 It was mid-afternoon in Calvinton as my dream-self returned to the Biergarten. I was sitting in front of, and delving into, Mary Ann’s growing heap of memorabilia. Out of the blue, I felt compelled to return to the church. Bob’s plight was bothering me. God wouldn’t leave me alone about it. I had to learn more about Bob and about Calvinton.
The wind driving the snowfall sideways had not abated. Drifts were building on the downwind side of everything standing. I entered the church and closed the door gently. Bob was still in his place, but he was bent over and had his hands on his forehead, shielding his eyes. He was busy muttering to himself and didn’t look up, or acknowledge my presence.

The preacher caught my eye. He was motioning for me to join him in front of the left-hand front pew where he now had the step ladder set up under a rectangular opening in the high ceiling that led to the attic storage space. Beside the ladder, were three of the pieces of the church’s manger scene – Mary, the Child in his manger bed, and Joseph.
“Would you mind following me up the ladder and handing me Mary in a minute?”
“Be glad to help,” I grinned.
He went up, and I heard him moving things around.
“Okay, ready for Mary.”
I carried Jesus’ mother up and handed her to Preacher.
“Come on up, it’s warmer up here.”
I did, and watched as he covered Mary with a sheet. The whole process of lifting her up above all the other items, and caring for her, seemed somewhat symbolic, if you get my drift.

“I got to know some of the people next door, and some things about this town,” I stated. “I would like to write an article about this interesting community, but I need to know more, if only to satisfy my own curiosity.”

He motioned me to sit in one of the two folding chairs conveniently placed near Mary. “What would you like to know?” he asked.

“Well, I’ve made a few assumptions and formed a few guesses, but I want to be able to write the truth. First, I’d like to know what happened after Bob’s wife died. You mentioned a son?

“Yes, the baby was born healthy,” he paused and stared at me. “It wasn’t long before it was apparent that the boy didn’t respond to sounds,” he paused again, seeming to discern my ability to perceive beyond the surface of things. “If you guessed that Jess is my foster son, you are correct. Bob was suffering terrible grief at the loss of Iris. When he discovered little Jess was handicapped with deafness, the bottom fell out. He couldn’t conceive of how he would be able to care for and raise the boy without a mother; without his wife. Bob withdrew into himself and later developed a strong hatred for the God he convinced himself was responsible. At very least, He ignored prayers and did nothing, in Bob’s mind. He wanted to hurt that god – if indeed he even existed. Jess, essentially had no-one. So, needing a form of sacrifice in my ministry, and because of my compassion for the child and his family, I took him into my home and cared for him with the help of a few kind people in the church. Iris was an avid believer and would have wanted Jess to be raised as a Bible-believing Christ follower. Bob knows, on some level that Jess is his baby boy. We think that he comes here to be near the boy and not just to rail against “his enemy”. We think that, bit by bit, the message of the cross will sink in. We also never kept Jess from knowing he is Bob’s son. He prays every day for his dad to be well and whole again.”

“You and Mary Ann have certainly done a remarkably good job with Jess. I commend you.”

“Thanks, but Jess, himself, made it easy. He is a very bright and loving young man.

“And what about the dire straights Calvinton seems to be in? The community seems to have lost its spirit. It seems to be bleeding internally. Mary Ann has high hopes that I can somehow bring a revival through publishing a few pro-Calvinton articles. 

“I think she has a point, but, in my opinion, healing of this town requires a qualified Physician, if you get my meaning. The heart and soul of a community is no less in the hands of its Creator than the hearts and souls of its citizens. They have, to a large extent, turned their backs on Him, allowing His enemy’s conniving cohorts to put in place lies of every destructive kind. I pray against those devils constantly along with my little circle of Guardians in the church. I have even had visions of families with children returning, and, until that time, turning the vacant schoolhouse into a center of learning for the deaf. Jess and Mary Ann would be a nice fit in a place like that. Bottom line is that the church must become the center of the community again, somehow. There must be a body of believers – the Bride – before this town can see restoration. 

“I’ll have to agree on that point. I will try to reflect your hopes in my writing.”

“Thanks, my friend. Well, it’s getting late. Shall we finish this task and head to the diner for some supper? My treat!”

“Sounds good to me!”

I went first down the ladder. The figures of Joseph and the baby Jesus were still together. Joseph was kneeling next to the manger with his hand touching his adopted baby’s head as if in a blessing, as if in wonder, as if in love. Preacher hadn’t come down yet and I saw why. From the opening in the ceiling, he motioned to me with his eyes to look up the aisle. Bob was walking hesitantly toward me.

“You really should leave,” he insisted gruffly. “There’s nothing for you here and you can’t help. There is really no God here. This is the place where the damned come to lose themselves. Is that what you want? You need to go!”

“Well, only the damned can be saved,” I muttered barely above my breath.

“What? . . . What did you say?” his pitch was rising.

“Nothing, I was just . . .
I prayed silently. “Oh God help me, I’m in over my head here,”

At that moment, Bob’s eyes fell upon the scene of Joseph worshiping his son. He was transfixed. It was as though they were speaking to him. I sensed a crux, a tipping point. I heard myself say, “Sir, would you mind if I prayed with you for a little while?” Now I was in it. Oh, God, what do I say now? I have no idea!
I silently begged God to work the miracle upon Bob’s heart that He had upon mine.

“It won’t do any good. It’s too late for me.” Nevertheless he turned and sat in the front left-hand pew. “I won’t stop you, Stranger, but I sure don’t see the point. There is nobody here to pray to.”

As if in answer to my desperation, a picture with a caption appeared in my spirit.
“Just talk to Me; from your heart, that’s all.”
The picture was a child on his knees beside his bed, hands folded, large eyes looking up. “Brilliant,” I thought. I sat on the floor beside Bob’s knees and folded my arms on the bench next to him. Before I buried my face in my arms, I saw that he was shaking his head and rolling his eyes.

“No! I can’t just stop not believing. I would lose myself, lose who I am. I won’t do it. I’m not listening!” If God is real, and I’m pretty sure He’s not, He must hate me bad.

Perceptive Preacher had wisdom, and good timing. I heard him put on some background music. Soft and gentle, an instrumental version of Great Is Thy Faithfulness. I’m not much of an out-loud pray-er, but I launched it anyway:

“Father God, I thank you for that time when I was still Your enemy and You sent me a messenger who told me:
‘It’s never too late; He loves you;
Told me ‘He is with you, not against you; There is nothing that He can’t forgive.’

Back when I couldn’t believe, I was afraid of the truth, Father, I was blind, and lost, and losing hold of my life, yet I was was told of what You had endured to save me . . .
I was so broken. Thank you for healing me. Thanks for having a greater plan for me and working all things for my good in spite of my lack of understanding.”
“Thank You for making a way, a path, for me to live with You in Your eternal home,
from where my loved ones beckon to me.
I do want to spend Forever with You and with them, dear Lord.”
Your amazing love gave me a way to believe in You; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Shedding a few tears, I continued;
“Thank you for loving me, Father. I ask the same grace and mercy and compassion for my friend, here. 
I praise You in his place, for he doesn’t know how right now.
Gather him to You, Father.
I ask and I plead in Jesus’ name . . . Amen”

Halfway through, I heard Bob begin to weep. Before I was finished, he was on the floor beside me, sobbing, with his head buried in his arms on the seat, like mine. There was only music for a long time. He became quiet. I heard him very softly whisper, “Iris”. . .  then “Amen”.

There was only soft music, then there was light. I raised my head and looked up. Sunlight was streaming through Preacher’s stained glass window. Even the air seemed to be transformed. “The storm must be over,” I thought. “In more ways than one.”

I heard the door open, looked, and saw Mary Ann hurrying into the sanctuary. I stood, and Bob stood beside me. I think Bob had wept the “scales” right off his eyes. There was a look of fear and surprise on his face, yet I noticed the unmistakable glint of hope in in his eyes. I also perceived an aura of weight dropping off his once-drooping shoulders.

Mary Ann, staring at Bob, was concerned and excited.”Is everything alright? We saw a strange light coming from here and thought there might be a fire.”

Behind her came the two lawmen, the feed store owner, assorted ranchers and townspeople, who began streaming into the church, their steady flow mimicking the sunlight streaming through the stained glass. They all stopped and stared at Bob and me. Someone said, “Yup, it was dreary outside when the snow quit, we felt a far away shakin’, like an avalanche, and then saw lights in the church winda’s. We thought there had been a ‘splosion and the church was own far. The door was flang open, then we heard an aingelic kinda music and the sun come out!”

Someone else observed, “That’s right, we were kind of, well, drawn over here!”

Another stated, “Sheesh, I ain’t been in the church fer quite a while, this place sure seems differ’nt! I like it!”

It was as though a shockwave of The Baby’s first loud birth-cry had sounded from Preacher’s manger scene, radiating outward in a circular pattern over the whole town.

Some of the last to enter, were Sheila and Deaf Boy – I mean Jess – hand in hand. The crowd opened to let them through. Bob had the barest hint of a peaceful smile on his face when their eyes met. Jess assessed the situation and discerned. Bob looked at Joseph and his infant son, then back at Jess.

“I, . . . I, . . . I don’t . . . know what to say, . . . except, this stranger here . . . this messenger . . .  God is here! He is real, and alive! I know because He just touched me. I owe Him an apology. I owe all of you an apology. It was like being in prison . . . I have wasted so much time, but no more!”

He brushed away the remaining tears and walked slowly, hesitantly, toward the young man and held out his hand. Jess’ voice was low, yet bold and sincere.
“Ah – ub – oo, -Nan.”
He bypassed the outstretched hand and instead embraced his birth father. Cheek to cheek and headbone to headbone, Bob’s long pent and overdue reply was, “I love you too, son, . . . we . . . both do. Your mother would be so proud . . .

The sun streaming in took on the qualities of a warm tropical breeze, which wafted through the expanding group of Calvintonites and out the still-open church door. Some in the front of the crowd took a knee facing the cross, and the altar where Preacher stood smiling. Some bowed their heads. Some looked up at the sunlit window. And all knew that redeeming transformation was taking place right where they stood.

Myself? I noticed “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” was still playing, and I whispered a heartfelt “Thank You”.

I awoke for the third and final time. (Or am I still dreaming? : )
Yes, I’m certain this is, indeed, My Next Christmas Story!

~   ~   ~


Assuredly, I built upon the framework of my dream.

I filled in many blanks, added missing details, and surely, I embellished.
That’s what a writer does, especially one who dreams and writes in the Spirit.

But it took a dream to let me witness something I have longed for – a soul redeemed, right in front of me, due, in part, to one of my prayers.  I still couldn’t figure it out, though, “My Next Christmas Story?” What did that mean? It wasn’t even close to Christmas, and it seemed like Christmas themes were only a small part of the dream-story. It wasn’t even reality, although many, rightly, in my opinion, argue the reality of dreams.

I pondered, then it hit me like an avalanche! I had witnessed the miracle of Christ being born into the inner man. God with Bob. Immanuel. Jesus, coming to live in him just like He came to live in the world – and in me! To save us out of love for us.
Being born into the spirit of a single lost and needful man, and not only that, but into the spirit of a stagnant, ill, and needful town. Christmas! Christbirth! Jesus, born into the world, a town, a person, for redemption – for love’s sake.
And, also, for Resurrection.
Redemption and Resurrection of everything.
Next Christmas Story, indeed!
Not only that, but why not My Next Easter Story as well?

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

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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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