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 one there to see . . .
I was there at daybreak to see the mountains awake . . . 

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My Next 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, nor can I fathom how Father God can somehow use a dream for my good, or the enemy can use one as a lie against my good.
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 Chaff Rantley would say, “don’t make much 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 it is supposed 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. 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 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. Good meeting ya. Oh, and we would appreciate a prayer or three if you wouldn’t mind.”
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 common to the Christmas season. That was strange . . .”
I rolled over.

Part Two

I walked through the blizzard to the diner 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. 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 . . .

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 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 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 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, and caring for her, seemed somewhat symbolic, if you get my drift.

“I got to know some people next door, and some things about this town. 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 could raise 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 thing 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 worship me, 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 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 get into Your eternal home from where my loved ones beckon to me. I do want to spend Forever with You and with them, dear Lord.
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 was concerned and exited.”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 began streaming into the church, mimicking the sunlight streaming through the stained glass. Someone said, “Yup, it was dreary outside when the snow stopped, we felt a far away shakin’, like an avalanche, and then saw lights in the church windows. We thought there had been an explosion and the church was on fire. The door was flung open, then we heard an angelic 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 differnt! I like it!”

It was as though a shockwave of The Baby’s first loud birth-cry had gone out from the manger, radiating 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 as it 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 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!

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Epilogue


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. in the Spirit.

But it took a dream to let me witness something I have longed for – a redeemed soul, due, in part, to one of my prayers. But I still couldn’t figure it out, “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 a man. God with Bob. 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 @Gloryteller.com
All rights reserved


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Your Daughter, My Mother

After the church service and worship I am celebrating my mother,
but early this morning I was a little melancholy as you will see:

 

Your Daughter, My Mother

Dear Heavenly “Grand”-Father,
Many years ago; more than twenty-two,
You made Mom a place to live
When she went away
To live with You.

Would You go there today,
Right up to her house,
And give her, for me,
A nice new dress, a flowery skirt,
A pretty blouse?

Would You give her
Nice-looking sandals,
Some beautiful shoes?
Oh Grandpa, today I’m getting the blues . . .

Please tell her I miss her.
We are too far apart.
All the time and the distance,
She’s still in my heart.

Would You put a sparkling
Crown on her head?
Or just hold her hand?
Would You give her, today,
A big Daddy-hug?
The warmest kind as only You can?

And tell her that her prayers for me
Were answered by You,
And are being still,
To this very day.

Tell her I’m finally free.
I’m on Jesus’ path,
I’m following Your Way.
Maybe not all that she hoped and she prayed just yet,
But much closer, Grand-Daddy,
Much closer this day.

Today, she just seems much too far away . . .
So thank her for me.
It’s heavy to bear,
That it’s Mothers Day here and she’s way up there.

But tell her I will soon see her, perhaps!
Until then, maybe give her a dance.
Will you give her a flower?
Lord, give her a laugh?

Tell her that I can hardly wait.
I’ll see her at the garden gate
When I finally come.
The one on the west,
When I have my rest.

Meantime, Grandpa,
Please give her my best,
’til I come.
Your best too, ’cause we love her.
And just because she’s Your daughter;
Just because she’s my mom!


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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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Forever Home

                    

                  Forever Home

 

When our count of days goes way too fast

When earthbound lives are gone and past

 

In sad, lamenting grief we’re cloaked

We limp to You, our only hope

 

We lost them, those who were our own

Or were they not, and just on loan

 

With great compassion You lift us up

For what You gave them, they left with us

 

By Your grace, it’s their love we’ve enjoyed

So eternal, enduring, death can’t destroy

 

Fragrantly lingering, it wafts through our hair

Like tropical breezes, love whispers its care

 

And we know they are with us, as You’ve been from the start

For their love warms our being, lifts our arms, and our heart.

 

So, there lies our hope, it’s Your love and Your faith

You care about us, Your plan is in place

 

We lack understanding, only You know

How to bring home your people, You care for each soul


For You have given us this sleep

The one that, here, we think so deep

 

Yet it is light, and lasts but a whit

So brief, and at the end of it

 

We waken to You, forever home

At last, Your Treasure is our own.

 

At last! Your Joy is now our own!


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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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Saved From Myself

One of the most difficult jobs God gives us
is gently convincing someone of the concept
that they need to be, in effect, saved from themselves.
From their broken nature.
From poor decisions based on selfishness.
From their lack of a sense of a higher hope,
and purpose, 
and meaning.
From their arrogant, rebellious, reckless,
self-elevation

To the position of god.
It is a universal need all people have in common.
It was true for me;
myself most of all.
My own worst enemy (but for that other).
Yet I dismissed the notion of salvation out of hand.
Adamantly.
Still, He had someone in the wings
who was perfect for the job.
He placed that person right in my path.
With perfect timing.
Giving voice to a theme song
tuned to my stubborn rebel ears. 
Unexpectedly, I believed those personal lyrics.
Surprisingly.
Inexplicably.
Amazingly.
Thankfully.

I soon was “saved from myself “, 
Delivered.
Into a relationship with my Creator God.
I have not looked back.
I rejoice!
Now, I sing to you.
Am I the one He has reserved in the wings for you?
Or are you destined to step onstage for someone else?
It can be a most difficult job.
“Don’t be discouraged,” He encourages.
I’m living proof not to be –
I did not need it, or so I thought,
Yet, thankfully,
I was

saved from myself.

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Before

3d63998d9680e585464b69e20a9259e1_-quill-and-paper-clipart-quill-and-paper-clipart_641-720


Oh, Great God,
You said of Your magnificent Self,
in effect:
“Before there was anything, I AM”.

 

In distant time,
rather, I should say,
before You even started time moving on its relentless travels,
You, my Great Father,
Were,
Are,
and Will Be –
all at once (thus, the I AM!)
Before then, You knew me
!
You, the Great Creator, saw me in Your mind’s eye!
You saw me – Your ‘perfect’ me and also every later flawed aspect of me –
and still You loved me,
took pity upon me, and loved me;
rejoiced in me, and loved me.
You knew me, envisioned me, and loved me,

even BEFORE
You gave me a spirit;

BEFORE
You spoke my name in a whisper and bestowed my soul.

You knew me BEFORE:

 You constructed my body deep within my mother’s miraculous life-supporting anatomy.
Before You breathed life into tiny me.
Before I was delivered from my confinement into the vast world.

BEFORE:
I learned about You, but still didn’t know You.
Before I was sadly blinded concerning You.
Before I turned away from You, although Your
concern and compassion for me never wavered.
Before You never left my side;
I should have died many times;

You carried me.
Before I made countless mistakes.
Before I disappointed You; most likely saddened You to tears,
and shook You to your core with outrageous blasphemies,
even though You knew those things were in my heart.

You loved me long BEFORE:
Before You sent me a messenger who knew You,
and showed me who You are;
the reality of You,
Someone to whom You meant Everything.
Someone who knew life before You,
when something seems to be missing;
when there is an emptiness in one’s heart 
only a relationship with one’s Creator can fill;
when there is a hunger and a thirst
that can only be satisfied by His comforting
words of love, of peace, and of joy.
Who pointed to the way You were chasing, calling, pursuing me.
Who showed me Your unconditional love;
taught me of Biblical truth,
of faith,

and of grace,
and mercy,
and salvation,
and, most importantly,
introduced me to the real Immanuel,
“God With Us”,
Jesus.

You, Father God, saw me BEFORE:
You, whose existence I had previously refuted,
proved Yourself to me time and again –
even more than necessary to convince –
extravagant in Your thoughtful pursuit.

Before You imparted Your Holy Spirit into me,
and before that moment when my joy overflowed and overwhelmed me.

Before You called me “My Child” and kindly adopted me into Your family.

I have a Before and an After.
Every before implies its own after.
Before, I was dying without You.
Now I am fully and completely alive with You!
Now I bow before You alone,
and I will be with You ever after!

You knew me BEFORE:
You gave me new birth,
made me a new being,
a new creation.
You knew me before You made me,
as well, 

a messenger of Your Great Glory.
~
Dear Reader – I’m your humble messenger, 
To demonstrate His unconditional love as my own.
No matter what has happened in my past,
nor yours.
Our mutual Father in Heaven,
Creator,
commissioned me to write this message to you,
as a plea to take it to heart,
to show you the difference between
a life before receiving Him and His message,
and the life “after” —
A dying life into an increasingly living life!
The “after” life is amazing, and it is everlasting!

I pray for you constantly because I care for you.
You know me.
You know you can trust what I’m saying.
Father God knew you and loved you
Before and He does now.
You need and deserve a great After!
Trust Him.
All my caring, loving, good wishes, and hopes,
I send wrapped up in this message. 
Yours truly,
Gloryteller

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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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Ojibwe Insight Expanded

Sometimes, I sit alone in pity for myself,
but,
all the while,
the breath of God wafts me across the great, vast, universe.

I forget how His favor bathes my life with beautiful wonders
and how He shows me great mercy.

I forget that I am never forgotten, always loved, never alone.

Sometimes I forget, in lonely sorrow for myself,
that the Creator’s hand has carried me,
in caring pity,
in sympathy,
across majestic mountains,
past lakes of stars, 
and high up,
into peace,
into the moon-washed Valley of Sparkling Waters
where He has shown me my final – and eternal – campsite.

Sometimes I sit in pity for myself
While my   self   is away with the Great Father,
dancing with unfettered joy.

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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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The Perfect Christmas Gift

I just posted a series of CHRISTmas music videos.
Please scroll down to view all the advent season content I have left
for your pleasure and for His glory.
May your Christmas/Christbirth celebration be the
warmest, most meaningful, most blessed,
and most joyful yet!
***Your Gloryteller***

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

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


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Hope Came Down

Unten Hoffnung Kam

He came down so that we could live – really live – with Him
and our loved-ones in Heaven.
Forever together.
We need that hope more with each passing day . . .

Thank you, Kari Jobe and Bob Marshall for the upload.

Merry Christmas from Gloryteller.com

 Frohe Weihnachten von Gloryteller.com

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Mary Did You Know?


(A Mother Just Knows)

In these advent days, the story is all about the love between Mary,
her Baby inside,
her husband,
the Holy Spirit,
and 
Father God.


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Breath Of Heaven – Mary’s Song

Not even one of us can fully understand nor appreciate Mary’s plight . . .

(Rest in Peace, Donna Summer.  We still have your amazing voice.)

These poignant video clips are from The Nativity Story,  upload thanks to Peperamico.

Merry Christmas from Gloryteller.com
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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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Previous Older Entries

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!

Copyright Licensing

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My Signature Story

"I AM NOT MY OWN" is the piece that inspired the building of this site. It is the story that this site, as well as my life, is centered around. This letter to you is the one i would most like for you to read out of all the ones you will find here, because it describes how profoundly the works of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit can change one human life.

For Your Reading Enjoyment, This Is Like A Park, Use It, Enjoy It, and Leave Everything Where You Found It.

The content here's not to be used,

But to only be read and perused.

If you copy it off,

My lawyer's not soft,

And your fortune is mine - you got sued!

Gloryteller :-)

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