Another Hole

This is a blog of the type that I hate to write. Yet, I always feel compelled to do so whenever there is occasion to.

P Dave

 

On February 7, 2016, the day my husband passed away, I met Reverend Zoila Marty who became my boss, friend, and mentor until she was called away to pastor another church in July of 2017. I didn’t see how anyone could possibly replace her.

Enter Pastor Dave.

Has a more humble man ever existed? I suspect his intelligence was near genius level, but if he was aware of it, he never said so. Aside from his love for Jesus and people, he, as a former firefighter and EMT loved anything associated with those things. In January I slipped a late Christmas present of a fire truck 2020 calendar onto his pulpit in Chestnut before he arrived. He never knew (I guess he does now!) where it came from.

With mannerisms and preaching style completely different from his predecessor’s and a calm yet vibrant faith in Jesus, he came to feel like something of an older brother to me.

One memory that easily comes to mind, perhaps because it was recent, is one of the last times it was my turn to streach before the world changed. Some of my words, or maybe something between my words, struck a raw nerve in a congregant at one of the churches; and she had no qualms about addressing it with me in a more than somewhat confrontational manner. Pastor Dave was standing by, and when he saw the outstretched finger poked toward my chest, he was instantly by my side.

The next time I came into the office, there were notes he had placed all over my desk.

Let it go.let it go

                   Let it go.

             Let it go.

 

I thought I’d entered the transcript of the original Frozen soundtrack.

 

Do those not sound like the actions of an older brother to you?

During the past six weeks, Pastor Dave and I took turns coming into the office so as to avoid cross contaminating one another. But, for some reason, the week before last, he wanted to spend time working together on our most recent newsletter/calendar. Did he know it would be the last time I would benefit from his wisdom?

We spent about 30 minutes talking, touching on many different topics important to both of us. Before he left, he prayed with me.

In hindsight I am grateful I had those 30 minutes with him.

His death was not supposed to happen less than a week later.

Death is never supposed to happen.

God’s original plan was for us to live forever in close communion with Him.

Therefore, the death of any living being, but especially any human being, creates a hole in the fabric of the world that should not be there and will never be restored in this,Holes what the Bible calls the land of the living and what a couple pastors I’ve known have referenced as “the nasty here and now”.

Our loved ones leave.

One by one.

The older we get, the more of them leave. It never gets easier. The holes in our world become more numerous, the remaining fabric more tenuous, creating greater opportunity for stumbling as we walk around in the relative darkness of the land of the living.

That’s why we need—I need—more than ever all the facets of I AM but right now most definitely The Light. (John 8:12)

I Don’t Wanna Face the Day

Today is a writing day.

A day when I can’t not write.

Because writing is part of my identity, when one of those days “strikes”, I am elated, feeling powerful and like great things will be accomplished.

Today is a writing day.

I feel neither elated nor powerful. Hopefully, great things will be accomplished despite me.

I awoke about an hour ago with a familiar song running through my head.

Others I know will wake with songs of worship on their brain the minute their brain starts functioning in the morning. I know this is true because I read about them doing so on FB nearly every day.

And it’s not just music. I am reading a story by Kimberly Rae Jordan where the heroine, an artist, awakes every morning with colors running through her mind.

What has been on my brain upon waking many mornings for the past month (and even some mornings before that, if I’m being completely honest)?

Jump back to the year 2000 and a band called Great White and a song called “Face the Day” one line of which is “I don’t wanna face the day,” being sung and/or screamed by Jack Russell. At some point in the fogginess of morning brain, the song morphs into Bon Jovi’s “She’s a Little Runaway” with the lyrics also being melodically screamed by Jon.

Ugghhhh! Triple ugghhhh!

I don’t wanna face the day with either not facing the day or running away running through my mind, especially on auto replay, the way my autistic mind tends to think things.

This is not an upbeat post, at least not the current part of it. So, if you are already feeling down, just jump ahead to the message part (beginning with CHILDREN’S MESSAGE) of this post. However, as always, one thing I endeavor to make characteristic of all my posts is transparency. That means – the good . . . . The Bad. . . and THE UGLY!

Yesterday was a difficult day.

Just the latest in many difficult days. You have had them, too, probably many of them. I’m sorry, and I pray that the days of not normal (I know, Jolie, normal is not a thing!) will end.

Many say they will not.

Many say the fact that “normal” will not return is a good thing.

I want to believe that. But “right now I just can’t” to quote Bart Millard.

The devil has been working overtime lately. Not just with COVID 19 and its seemingly infinite number of ramifications, but individually, personally, in each of the lives of those whom God loves.

Who are those whom God loves?

You.

And everyone else on the planet.

But mainly – you!

God loves you, God loves them, and the devil uses us to hurt each other.

I hate that the devil uses people as tools with which to render the most painful attacks.

I have been in defense mode against these attacks for the past 4 weeks. Right now, as I sit here typing this, my whole body feels like a tightly wound coil, or maybe a rubber band, and if I can’t have a good belly scream like I had a few days back, a break is inevitable.

I hate the thought that ran through my brain more than once yesterday of wishing my work here would hurry up and be finished so God could take me away from what at its worst feels like a nightmare. Yesterday was a nightmare. And Sunday. (Yes, I know Sunday was Resurrection Sunday, and right up until we sat down to eat the lunch I’d spent a good part of the morning preparing, it was a good day.) And many other days in the past month. (At this point in my first draft I’m hoping God will encourage me to remove some of these most dark sentences before posting this.) [At this point, in my final read-through after posting but before publishing, He has not done so.]

Not facing the day, running away from the day, or desiring to be removed from the day are not solutions; and thinking about any of those things does not improve the day.

A friend of mine has been sharing the many names of God nearly daily on Facebook for the past couple of weeks. So right now, I’m going to look for the one that has to do with God being the restorer of my sanity. If I can’t find it, I just may FB message him to find out what that is. (As of the final read-through of this, he has not responded to my FB query. The closest thing I can think of that fits this is Psalm 3:3 which reads “But you, LORD, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head”. I looked it up in the OJB version to see if there was another word there that might be a name of God, but it also used “lifter of my head.” So maybe it’s not a name, but it is a descriptor of God.)

Both of my pastors, during the recently passed season of Ash Wednesday Lent and Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Resurrection Sunday have spoken on the “I AMs” of Jesus. The Sunday before “normal” went away, it was my turn to streach at the little church here in town and its two sister churches. The I AM assigned to me was “the Way”. Here is the message God helped me come up with. I need this today more than anyone else who is reading this. I thank God we receive Water and Bread for our thirsty/hungry souls. His Word promises that that is so, not that it will be so, but that it is.

To my dismay, I discovered I’d saved the sermon on my work computer (not currently accessible to me) and not on my home computer. I have the hard copy of the sermon, though, and I’m knowing God is wanting me to rewrite its words herein so as to re-benefit from them. On a review of this before posting, I have rewritten all the words; and they were nourishment to my soul. The person who writes this sentence is not the same person who wrote those preceding. I no longer wish to escape and am ready to face the rest of the day.

CHILDREN’S MESSAGE

You have probably learned enough about math to understand a few things about it. You can probably count to 10, maybe higher than that. Maybe you can read those same numbers.

Math is in everything. There are 7 days in a week. Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday; and then we start all over again with Sunday.

There is another important list that has 7 things in it. God created everything. He created the days of the week in the very first part of the Bible. And, although Genesis doesn’t specifically mention it, the rest of the Bible certainly does, so we know that He created music and the mathematics behind it.

Music is also based on the number 7. A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H. . . Wait a minute. There’s no H in music! No, after G, it starts all over again with A.

In the Bible, there are many times something is done 7 times.

Moses was the leader of God’s special people. Other people were jealous of them because they were so precious to God. They treated them badly.

God used Moses to lead his chosen people away from the mean people to a special land prepared just for them. But all the people who were freed messed up and didn’t even get to go into the special land. Even Moses messed up! Only two men, named Joshua and Caleb, were allowed to go into and live in the land God promised.

Joshua was Moses’ best friend. After Moses and all the freed people had died, Joshua was finally given permission by God to go into the Promised Land.

But there were already people living there who had heard the wonderful and terrifying things God had done to people who were unkind to His chosen people, and they were afraid of them and took steps to keep God’s people out.

The first town Joshua and God’s people came to in the Promised Land was a town called Jericho. Jericho had a tall and thick fence built around it that God’s people would not be able to break through. God told Joshua to have the people do a strange thing. They were to march around the fence one time each day for six days. The musicians were to play their trumpets. On day number seven, they were to march around it 7 times! At the end of the 7th time around on the 7th day, the musicians were to give one loud blast on their trumpets and everybody else was to shout! That would make the tall wall fall down without anyone even touching it!

Surely this did not make any sense to Joshua or any of the other people.

But they had already seen God do things for them and their parents that did not make sense, and they trusted Him, so they did exactly what he said.

On the 7th day, after the loud trumpet blast followed by the loud shout of everyone who had been marching, those walls did fall! The Israelite people, God’s chosen people, were able to get into the town.

You are God’s chosen people!

Do you ever feel like there are tall walls in front of you that you can’t get through? Ask God to help you, listen for His voice, and trust Him to help you to do the right thing.

SERMON

Heavenly Father, speak Life into everyone who reads these words. If there are any words that are not from your heart, let eyes not see them. In Jesus’ name.

Numbers

What are some things you notice about this picture?

That the first list could be some of the numbers of the days of the week or some of the numbers of the musical alphabet as referenced in the Children’s Teaching?

What in the world is that last “number” in the 2nd list? When it is written numerically it contains 23,249,425 digits and is arrived at by multiplying 77,232,917 twos and then subtracting one. It is the highest number of its kind currently known to man. Its kind is the category of prime numbers.

Or, did you notice something much more basic? Something missing?

The number 1 is both a prime number and the first number when one is listing the 7 musical notes of any scale. In music it is written as Roman numeral I.

But let’s look at the second list which is also missing the number 1.

First, though, let’s back up and talking about the number right before #1, or zero.

Do you ever wonder why zero is able to be added and added to, subtracted and subtracted from, and multiplied, but not divided? Really, it can’t be multiplied either, or at least there is no reason to. One divided by zero logically should equal zero, but it does not. Neither does any other number. Why not?

chocolatesHere is a simple explanation for this phenomenon: Try dividing 12 chocolates among zero people. How many chocolates does each person receive?

Does that question even make sense?

We can’t share among zero people and we can’t divide by zero.

Merriam Webster defines zero as “the absence of a measurable quantity”.

Does this not sound like how things were before God created everything?

Zero.

Nothing.

Null.

The number one is the opposite of zero. It is the number from which all other numbers arise. It is the only number by which every other number, including the number 1 itself, can be divided and result in a whole number.

What caused the number 1 to exist?

Because of God and His creative voice, everything that exists exists, including the number 1. Number 1 would not exist or even need to without God. Nor would the other six numbers of music and days of the week, or the seemingly infinite but probably finite list of prime numbers. None would exist.

Now, think about God’s greatest creation.

Another of Merriam Webster’s definitions for the word zero is “an insignificant person or thing”. That is so sad. Yet, there are people who feel like exactly that. There are many reasons why this is so, and they are all equally sad. None of them were a part of God’s original plan for us. Thankfully, God never called any human being a zero.

If a person could be given a number of relevance, could the #1 be it? Not for the usual reason, as a means of comparing oneself to others. That is NOT Part of God’s plan for us.

From a mathematical perspective, what is the number one divisible by? Hint: this was already addressed earlier, but in case you don’t want to look back or don’t remember from your elementary math class – one is only divisible by one, or itself. There is no thing that can divide a human being, only that human being. Even the word I looks a little like Arabic number 1 and exactly like Roman numeral I. Only the person himself or herself (#1) can divide him or herself by rejecting the grace God offers. So, a human being is a perfect example of prime number 1.

What does all this mathematical mumbo jumbo have to do with Jesus being the Way?

Listen to some of these definitions of “way” and some Bible verses that can be found lining up nearly perfectly with each definition:

  1. A thoroughfare for travel or transportation from place to place.
    1. An opening for passage.
    2. The course traveled from one place to another

Isaiah 35:8 “a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness”

  1. A course leading in a direction or toward an objective Hebrews 10:20 (Jesus)“by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain , that is, his body”
  2. Manner or method of doing or happening 1 Corinthians 11:1 “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.”
  3. Characteristic, regular or habitual manner or mode of being, behaving, or happening John 14:6 “Jesus answered ‘I AM the way. . .’”
  4. The length of a course (distance) Acts 20:24 “My only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me”
  5. Movement or progress along a course Acts 20:24
  6. State of affairs. When Jesus said “I AM the way” “I AM” speaks of Jesus being IT, all there is, the paramount and many of its synonyms including: supreme, first and foremost, preeminent, utmost, number-one, and prime.

Let’s look again at that last word of the synonyms of paramount: What phrases can you think of that include this word?

Prime rib: A cut of steak so decadent it practically melts in your mouth

Prime rate: An interest rate formally announced by a bank to be the lowest available at a particular time to its most creditworthy customers.

Prime numbers: We’ve already covered that one pretty well.

Prime location: When buying a house there is a saying among realtors “location, location location” the best of which would be the prime location.

So, it would appear that, no matter its application, prime is a good thing.

In the case of Jesus, the extreme reaches of His primeness cannot be fully understood and certainly not explained. Jesus, THE WAY, is the absolute best. The THOROUGHFARE was not available to mankind as a COURSE to God until the hour of Jesus’ death when the veil was rent in the Holy of Holies making the WAY to the throne of God open to all. Jesus’ sacrifice delivered this way to us. Taking it a step further, His resurrection gave us a glimpse of where following Him would lead us. This is a glorious RACE indeed where everyone who runs and finishes it receives the gift of everlasting life with He Who is the Way and made the race possible.

Knowing that Jesus is the very best of the very best, the primest of the prime, why would anyone not want to run the race by following the manner and method Jesus taught us?

Did you notice there were 7 definitions to the word way? These were Merriam Webster’s definitions, not anything from the Word of God, but it is interesting

Music has 7 numbers. According to vocalprocess.co.uk “When we organize our thoughts into words and form vowels and consonants that is mostly the cognitive side of the brain (left) but for singing we also need melodic shape and that requires the creative side of the brain (right). In fact, singing is good for us because it uses both hemispheres of the brain.”

The Bible teaches time after time us to sing, including in 1 Chronicles 16:23 which is, in itself, a part of a song sung by David.

David sang a lot. Many of the Psalms were written by him, and he is called, regardless of his many foibles, a man after God’s own heart.

However, consider other words you might have sung, even as far back as your youth. Chances are good they included songs that were not praising God. What if they were songs of praise to self, other people or things of God’s creation – or worse, the devil himself? According to Ezekiel 28:13 NKJVV satan was a musician, maybe even a worship leader before his fall. Music is a good thing, just like everything else in God’s creation; and just like everything else it can be illegitimized by the enemy of our souls. (The words within this set of parentheses were not part of the original message, but think about the songs I referenced in the first part of this post. Had I not sung them at some point in my life, they would not now be so firmly entrenched in my neural pathways.)

If, as indicated by the article previously quoted, sung words are more powerful than spoken, we should be more cognitive of those words we sing than those we speak. Perhaps that is also why God so greatly encourages “singing” words of worship to him.

Now, hear these words from Zephaniah 3:17 “The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”

Wow!

Now on to the days of the week: “On the 7th day, God rested” (Genesis 2:20)

This established the pattern for us

Have you ever noticed this pattern? Does it seem like Sunday afternoon is the ideal time for a nap? Do you try to eliminate every unnecessary chore possible on that day?

This was a way of life necessary for us humans established by The Way way back in the beginning.

What is it about the number 7?

The number 7 is used 735 times in the Bible (54 times in the book of Revelation alone). Revelation is the last book in the Bible, thereby completing the Word of God in written form. Seven is the number of completion, or a work being finished. Remember, the meaning of complete is remarkably close to that of perfect.

Many sermons are based upon these last two lists. For that reason, only the lists, and a brief explanation of the first will be shared today.

7 churches

These are the 7 churches listed in the early part of the book of Revelation. They were real churches in existence at the time of the early church of the Way. There are many different theories on what relevance they have to today’s church, but that they have relevance cannot be denied because God chose to put their stories in His Written Word.

The last list of 7?

  1. Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do Luke 23:34
  2. Today you will be with me in paradise Luke 23:43
  3. Woman, behold your son. John 19:26
  4. My God, my God, why have you forsaken men? Matthew27:46
  5. I thirst John 19:28
  6. It is finished. John 19:30
  7. Into your hands I commit my spirit Luke 23:46
  8. Into your hands I commit my spirit (Luke 23:46)

Guy Singers

I live in a rural county in downstate Illinois. So far, we’ve only had one reported case of COVID-19, and zero in our village of 300 souls. The virus has affected my job and my social situation in that I am isolating at home with my mother.

For most people, the hardship comes from not being able to be around other people.

For people on the spectrum (certainly for me), it is not ever being able to be completely alone! How to decompress?

I’ve started walking a couple times a day, not long, just 15-20 minutes which is about all it takes to traverse the thoroughfares of this bustling metropolis. While walking, my Spotify will be set to play some of my favorite songs.

The playlist is comprised chiefly of CCM material covering the last 50 years! There is one secular (non-Christian) song on my list; that’s because it’s my ALL-TIME FAVORITE and has been so for over 40 years. This song was one I listened to this morning.

Another song from this morning created the germ of this post. It is a song released in 1997 by Christian rock band Petra. Petra’s lead singer, John Schlitt, is joined in a vocal trio delight by 2 other men who were lead singers in their respective rock bands (Foreigner and Kansas) in the 70s and 80s. John Schlitt was, of course, lead singer for 70s rock band Head East.

These guys all have amazing voices. There are several songs by John Elefante (Kansas) on my playlist – that guy can wail! Lou Gramm (Foreigner) has not released any CCM music to my knowledge, and my understanding is that his vocal abilities have suffered due to some health issues. John Schlitt came to a celebration at my church several years ago, and I was blessed to get to talk with him at some length. I was so glad to hear that Lou had given his heart to Jesus!

My favorite thing to do when listening to this song is try to pick out which lines are sung by which guy.

Lou’s lines are pretty easy because his voice is “smokier” for lack of a better word than the other two. It is more difficult to differentiate between John and John.

And I wonder, why is that I would rather listen to a guy sing than a girl? Is it because I’m a girl? All you other females out there, do you find this to be true? Or is it an Aspie-girl thing?

There are a couple female artists on my playlist. Natalie Grant is my favorite, especially when she’s rocking it out like on “I Will Not Be Moved”.

But the majority are men. If you are reading this and are bored out of your mind, check out the music of the following (in addition to the men named above):

  1. David Phelps
  2. Michael English
  3. Keith Green
  4. Bart Millard (Mercy Me)
  5. Tauren Wells
  6. Bryan Duncan
  7. Quentin Brackenridge

These guys all have several things in common (aside from being guys). They all can carry a tune. They all (especially David Phelps) have astounding vocal ranges. They all can belt (the correct musical term for what I used to call “screaming in tune”).

I’ve attempted to attach the Petra song to this post. If you like it, why not check out some of these other gifted singers with their powerful messages?

I hope you enjoyed this post devoted to my favorite music. If you don’t like music, you are probably not reading it.

God bless you and keep you in the shadow of His Love.

“The Time of Jacob’s Trouble”

review

I am currently sheltering in place with Mom. We live in a county that has as of today not been affected by the medical effects of COVID-19, but we have certainly seen the other effects.

It has been over a week since I saw my granddaughters whom I normally babysit. This is, though, a perfect time for writing, and I did so on Monday, but hardly any since then. As a creature of habit, if the day doesn’t start out exactly as I plan, I find my course thrown off for the entire day – or week (one of the worst problems with autism as far as I’m concerned). 

A few weeks ago, I received a fiction catalog from Christian Books. Mom found some books in it she liked and circled them. I liked them all, too, so I ordered them. At the time, COVID-19 was just a shadowy specter looming on the horizon.

Over a week into the home stay, the shipment of books arrived. 

bookI was drawn to first read “The Time of Jacob’s Trouble” by Donna Van Liere. 

It was all but unputdownable. Only the circumstances of life enabled me to set it aside, and I finished it just an hour or so ago.

Not knowing the book’s format until completing chapter 4, I hadn’t realized the book was 2/3 fiction and 1/3 Bible teaching by a learned scholar of Biblical prophecy.

The novel is a fictional portrayal of a group of people who have “lived” through the rapture of the church and the immediate breakdown of the society they had previously known. America’s larger cities are decimated. Two of the principal characters live in NYC, and the book follows them as they struggle to survive and acclimate to their “new normal”.

One of these New Yorkers is a young Jewish man who adheres strictly to the faith of his family. He is at a funeral when he witnesses graves bursting open. Shortly thereafter he is visited by Jesus in a manner similar to Jesus visiting Paul on the road to Damascus. He becomes a Messianic Jew and learns he is one of the 144,000 witnesses spoken of in Revelation 7:4-8.

Another of these 144,000 witnesses is living in Israel. He also is a young devout Jewish man who comes to saving faith through the words of a man on the street whom no one but he can see.

For me, this was the perfect time to read such a novel. One of the principal characters is searching through a raptured friend’s house to find supplies for herself and other post-rapture believers, most of whom are children. As she did so, I found myself asking her “Why are you touching everything? Aren’t you worried about catching it?”

There is no virus in the book, only violence and depravity since, as the author explains, what (2 Thessalonians 2:6) was holding back the entrance of the antichrist – the raptured believers (or the church) – is gone, leaving behind those who follow their own badly skewed moral code.

Although the book is not advertised as a Bible study, I feel benefit would be derived by going back and looking at the scriptures (there are many) the author references both in the novel and in the Biblical explanations in the back of the book. Isn’t that the mark of a truly exceptional book – that it entices the reader to search the scriptures for herself?

Aside from its educational benefit, this is a fantastic book, the kind I wishes would not end! Unfortunately, it is the first in a series of 3, the publication date is 2020, and the second installment isn’t to be released until 2021.

I will be waiting. The rest of you, be sure and check out this well-written and -researched and timely book.

As a conclusion to this blog post, many of you are no doubt living in fear or at least with fear being a frequent visitor to your home

Remember fear is not of God. If it is not of God, then it must be coming from somewhere else. The somewhere else could include the following: the media (including all your forms of social media), your own mind, or the devil who is the enemy of your soul. If God wants you to trust, satan wants the opposite, for you to live in fear.

Christians are not immune to this attack; therefore, we must girdloins up the loins of our mind (1 Peter 1:19) for that is where the war is waged.

Here are some ways you might do this: If you are feeling afraid, lean more fully into God’s arms (Deuteronomy 33:27) and rest leaningyour soul more securely in Your Branch (John 15:1-17). Read Psalm 139 in the Passion Translation (you can google it). Aside from Romans 8, that chapter has become my favorite. Read it now, ingest it into your being; your fear will flee. God bless you, dear reader.

ESCAPE!!!

Today, as is the case on many Sundays, I had the blessing of listening to messages by two Spirit-led preachers.

The first was by a well-educated and extremely intelligent man of God who, in addition to his being a lifelong preacher, has been a lifelong EMT and firefighter. He has also become a good friend and a wise spiritual mentor.

His sermon today was a preface to a series of sermons which will be given each Sunday between Lent and Easter about the “I AM”s of Jesus. Today he spoke of the “I AM” encountered by Moses at the burning bush.burning bush

He stated that people are attracted to fire.

Fire is fascinating.

Beautiful and destructive.

Refining and consuming.

Pastor Dave brought out the fact that Moses was not attracted to the bush; he was attracted to the fire and then to the fact that the bush within the fire was not consumed.

While Pastor Dave was speaking, it occurred to me perhaps this a reason people are attracted to sin. When they are attracted to it, they are in reality being drawn to the fires of hell.

hellfire

This was the destination of Adam and Eve after they sinned and suffered spiritual death.

This was my destination.

This was your destination.

But God. . .

Escape Route

Loved us so much He had already prepared a way out. This way was prepared before the foundation of the world. This way was a narrow way, but it is the only way, the only escape route for us.

The second sermon I heard was also preached by a well-educated and extremely intelligent man of God. His sermon brought out the sinful will of man and both the permissive and perfect will of God. He mentioned, as I’ve learned so much about recently, that perfect means complete. He used Romans 12:1-2 as his text. Are we presenting our bodies as a living sacrifice? Are we casting down all our idols to make them so?

The cross of Jesus was the only way by which we could once again enjoy the Presence of God. Once we are walking in the Presence of God, it also becomes possible for us to find the “perfect will of God.” Possible, but I’m not sure any human being (outside of Jesus in His human form) has ever completely achieved this.

Perfect Will of God

Only Jesus lived that “Perfect Will of God” life. He was God.

My life might look more like this (red line indicating my life):

In the Will

At the very top of this picture, you will see two pathways. I wish I could say that I am in the perfect will of God pathway. Finally.

But, knowing there is one (at least) area of my life that is not completely yielded to him, I don’t think I can in all honesty make this claim.

How can you make sure you are staying in the perfect will of God?

Previous blog posts have described in varying details “my own efforts” to accomplish this and the varying levels of success of those endeavors. You will note I placed “my own efforts” in quotes because therein lies my biggest fallacy.

Walking in the light, being led by Holy Spirit, consistently is the only way to stay in the Perfect Will of God.

You might also have noticed my overuse of the word “only.” If you’ve read any of my writing, you will know my intense dislike of overuse of any word. So why did I use this word 6 times (counting this one)?

That is one benefit to my being a Christian Aspie. Sometimes black and white thinking can be a good thing. If you are an Aspie, go back and count the “only”s—you know you want to!—and let me know if I made a mistake

Here’s another one: Jesus is the ONLY way.

So that just about covers my thoughts (for now) on the two sermons I was blessed to hear today.

 

But it was the sermon in the middle. . .

 

Still working on my writing for that one. Come back soon. . .

Bullseye

(Note: I am attempting to embed an animated PowerPoint presentation into this post. If it works, you will know. If not, maybe someone more computer savvy than I could lend me a hand. Thanks in advance.)

ichthysLast Sunday (1/26/20), my sermon title was “The Writing in the Rocks” contrasting God using His finger to write the 10 Commandments—twice—and Jesus using His finger to write in the dirt—twice.

My New Testament Scripture was the passage in John concerning the woman caught in adultery. Although it did not appear in my written notes, at two of the churches, I felt the need to put a visual illustration when talking about our sin.

The bullseyes seemed appropriate.

One definition for sin is “missing the mark”. When one is shooting darts or anything else at a bullseye the best mark is achieved by the person whose dart lands directly in the center circle which is often red.

In my illustration, I pictured a dart board looking like this:

This doesn’t look exactly like the one in my head, but you get the idea. If the arrow lands in one of the circles just outside the bullseye, which might be blue or white, points are often still scored. It is only if the arrow completely misses the target and goes into the wall or whatever is behind the target are no points scored.

In the game of life, the scoring is different. Any arrow missing the bullseyes scores no points. That is called “missing the mark” or sin. We humans might consider the sin of lying as being in the white circle just outside the center, the sin of adultery being in the white area outside all the circles, and the sin of murder being the arrow stuck in the wall. It is not possible for the arrows we humans throw to all hit the bullseye. At some point, we will miss the mark, either just barely or a trip to the hardware store for some spackle.The Bible tells us in many places that all have sinned. Everyone has missed the mark. (Ecclesiastes 7:20, 1 Kings 8:46, Romans 3:20)

What hope is there for the human race?

Or as Paul said in his letter to the Romans (Chapter 7 verse 24) “What an agonizing situation I am in! So who has the power to rescue this miserable man from the unwelcome intruder of sin and death?”

The blood of Jesus washes white as snow.

Gabriel’s Soliloquy

“In the word of God, names are important. My name is Gabriel which means ‘The Lord is my strength.” In ancient days I and my brother Michael—his name means ‘there is no one like God’, but he is also known as a warrior angel—we appeared separately to the prophet Daniel, both as messengers of God. Daniel’s name means ‘God is my judge.’

Scrolls have a place of prominence in the Bible, not just that they are mentioned in many places in it, but that much of the Word of God was originally written on them. The book of the prophet Isaiah was written on a scroll, a scroll containing many prophesies of He Who is celebrated on this night.

A scroll has been placed before the representation of the manger throne and the Lamb scrollwho lies within. Soon the pastor, and others participating in the worship service, will be using it to transport this congregation back to Bible times.

 

 

Now for my story, which it thrills me to share:

But first, a brief word about Michael. Part of his assignment was to deliver a different, very special scroll to Daniel which the prophet was to roll up and seal until the end of time.

The message I was instructed to deliver, though cryptic in that day and this, spoke of the coming Messiah. Daniel recorded my message to all who would hear throughout the remainder of earth’s history.

A few hundred years later, I was blessed indeed to visit the priest Zechariah to deliver good news that he, in his old age, would shortly become a father. He did not believe my gabriel and zechariah.pngmessage and, as a consequence, was stricken with temporary muteness which would end with the naming of his son. His wife Elizabeth, though also advanced in years, did conceive. The child within her was so special he would be the first, even in his preborn state, to rejoice in being in the presence of the Lord.

Just a few months later, I was again blessed—why, my Lord God Almighty, should you choose to so bless me?—with the honor of being sent to Nazareth a town in Galilee to deliver the good news to its very first recipient. I would be telling Mary, a girl living there, that she was to be the mother of the Savior of the world. I must admit, I was a bit nervous about the message. Mary was so young! She was engaged but not yet married. What would be the ramifications of this with her espoused, indeed, with all who knew her?

But the Lord God Almighty sent me, giving me his strength.gabriel and mary.png

Mary was at first troubled, not so much by my appearance, but by my greeting—that she was highly favored and the Lord was with her.

She questioned the logic of my message to her, not understanding how such a thing as conceiving the Savior of the world should be possible to her, a virgin.

I explained to her how this would be accomplished by the Holy Spirit.

She had no further questions. She, as was her manner, quietly accepted the will of God. She was not, at this time, told of the things Jesus, and because of the intimacy of their relationship she, would suffer. When it was clear that Mary accepted this assignment, I departed.

In the fullness of time, first Elizabeth and then Mary delivered their babies, babies who had communed with joy in utero. A host of my brothers filled the heavens the night of the Savior’s birth testifying to the lowly shepherds below of his birth and its significance to all people and praising God the Father, saying angelws and shepherds                                                 ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven,

and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.’

This was the beginning of grace, that unearned gift available to every human, the means to deliverance from sin, sickness, and death. And I got to witness it!

Finally, in the fullness of time (and no one knows the exact date), one of us will be the angel who goes before He who sits on the throne. The King will have within His right hand a scroll with 7 seals. Could this be the same scroll that my brother Michael instructed the prophet Daniel to seal? The seals are such that no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth will be able to open them or even look inside the scroll. The angel will weep in despair.

lamb and scrollBut alas, the Lamb who appeared as though He had been slain, will take the scroll from He who sits on the throne. And it is revealed: only Jesus, Messiah, the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll revealing all that is written within.

Tonight, we angels celebrate with the humans, made in God’s own image, the birth of Messiah.

Glory to God in the highest heaven. Messiah reign forever and ever amen.”

Verses Referenced:

Genesis 1:26                                             Luke 2:8-14

Genesis 17:5                                             Ephesians 2:8

Daniel 9:21-27                                          Revelation 5:1-10

Daniel 12:4                                               Revelation 13:8

Luke 1:11-20, 26-38, 44

MERRY CHRISTMAS

—JLM

Precious Memories

Memories of Rod

10 years ago, almost to the day, I was enjoying friends and family who had just helped celebrate my wedding to Roderick Lloyd McDougall. Although we were married on October 24, 2009, it was a Saturday. Today is a Saturday, so I went by the church where we celebrated to revisit some memories.

It rained today. fainIt was raining when I woke this morning, and it is still raining now, well into the evening hours. A steady rain, not a storm, but heavy enough that streets were passing from the unexpected puddle stage to the full-blown flooded stage. A similar rain was falling my soul.

Returning from a meeting in another town I took the long way home so I could stop at the church. assemblyofgodAlthough my memories of that day are nearly all good, I anticipated having a good cry when I arrived.

Once there, though, there were no tears.

Only the memories. Precious memories, how they linger. . .

It is a song that was one popular at funerals.

Remembering what I wore as Rod and I started our journey to Pigeon Forge that evening. It was a gift from the pastor’s wife, a purple sweater knitted out of some scrumptiously soft yarn, and I think I was wearing jeans. Rod was dressed comfortably, too. He had not at all enjoyed the feel of his tux and was happy to dress back down to his more casual—ladder.jpgmuch more casual—customary attire.

Precious sacred scenes unfold. . .

As I sat in the parking lot tonight parked in a handicapped spot (no one else was there to see my infraction or to need the spot) just a dozen feet or truckso from where Rod’s truck was parked that night when I climbed into the passenger seat next to my new husband who was old-fashioned enough to insist on driving the whole way, I allowed the memories full reign.

As I travel on life’s highway. . .

I remembered a time several hours earlier in the day, early afternoon, getting ready in the small apartment in the church with my daughter and my best friend, maid of honor and bridesmaid respectively. One thing weighed heavily on my mind.

Would he show?

I sent my daughter out into the church more than once to check on him. He was late, but. . . finally he was there.getting-ready.jpg I could breathe a little easier.

Knowing not what the years may hold. . .

Why was I so worried? Didn’t I trust the man I was about to marry?

Life had given me reasons, many of them, to not trust. I trusted God, but I had a little more difficulty with his most precious creations. trust.jpgEven this one, the one I was about to marry, had let me down 5 years earlier by breaking my heart when he came to realize it was too soon after his wife’s death to be involved with another woman; he wasn’t ready.

What if he still wasn’t ready?

This time he was, and it was such a good thing. We had 6 years, 3 months, and 19 days together. At the end of that time, God determined that Rod’s purpose on earth (and I believe those last 6 years were mainly the restoration of my wounded soul) was complete. Did you know another word for complete is perfect? Rod’s work was both complete and perfect, and he got to go home. He was 1 week short of his 56th birthday.Rod FFD 2014

As I ponder, hope grows fonder. . .

My work is not done. I am still here. I don’t have a complete picture of what that work will be. Except for this. When I became Rod’s wife, my name changed from Jacqueline Lisa Stauffer-Taylor to Jacqueline Lisa McDougall (initials JLM which also stand for Jesus Loves Me). Rod is no longer with me, but JLM remains. Jesus Loves Me. What an identify, one which had always been mine, which Rod helped me understand and which remains.

Unseen angels from somewhere to my soul. . .

For those of you who like math and dates (as I do) you have probably figured out that Rod was a Valentine’s baby, born February 14, 1960.

Love and miss you, my seen angel.bass

What’s That Smell

This is the text of the first message I spoke from the pulpit after attending Licensed Local Pastor School in July. I’ve explained to a few people one specific conversation which set me on this course. That conversation was not the only factor, though. The biggest factor in this was what I believed and still believe was strong direction from God to do so.

I knew it would not be an easy course for 3 reasons:

  1. The last time I was in school (aside from one college chemistry class 25 years ago) was 40 years ago. This really wasn’t an issue at all as I discovered in the prerequisite work that I love learning. The only reason I couldn’t enjoy it when I was a kid was because I didn’t know how to be a kid.
  2. Differences in my interpretation of the Bible from what I expected the teachers would believe. Thankfully, we were all in agreement on the biggest issue, that of the saving grace of Jesus Christ.
  3. Then, of course, there was my “weird wiring” to contend with. Black and white thinking, overthinking, taking myself too seriously, being too serious in general were all areas which I knew going in might be more problematic than any variances in theology. And they were.

Despite these things, my days in the school were highly educational. Some of the lessons I learned were not in their teaching plans; of that I’m sure. But I learned both what they intended and other things perhaps not intentional from both the teachers and students.

One of the Bible studies several students selected for their practice Bible study was the life of Abraham, particularly the initiation of his journey to the Promised Land. It was crazy how easy it was to liken Abram’s journey to the journey we students experienced stepping out of our life patterns (some of us even our life path, just as Abram did), to follow the direction of God.

It was not just a learning experience, though—it was a deeply rewarding experience. The closest thing I can compare it to is a Walk to Emmaus weekend except this was 10 days rather than 3. The Presence of God was tangible.

LLPSOn July 25, I graduated with the rest of my class. The license itself can take up to two months to be issued, and I wait now to see if that is how the path will continue for me or if it will take a turn in another direction. In either case, I don’t doubt it will be exciting and a little scary. The last words of the New Testament Scripture cited below were “Find out what pleases the Lord.” By attending Licensed Local Pastor School, I believe I followed that directive.

Now, what is that smell? Smelly Things.jpg

Isaiah 65:1-5 ““I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me; I was found by those who did not seek me. To a nation that did not call on my name, I said, ‘Here am I, here am I.’
All day long I have held out my hands to an obstinate people,
who walk in ways not good, pursuing their own imaginations—
a people who continually provoke me to my very face, offering sacrifices in gardens and burning incense on altars of brick;
who sit among the graves and spend their nights keeping secret vigil; who eat the flesh of pigs, and whose pots hold broth of impure meat;
who say, ‘Keep away; don’t come near me, for I am too sacred for you!’ Such people are smoke in my nostrils, a fire that keeps burning all day.”

Ephesians 5:1-2, 8-10 “Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) 10 and find out what pleases the Lord.”

If you were to think about smells, both good and bad, you could probably come up with a good list for both. Bad would undoubtedly include things like skunks, rotting things, and poop. Good things would consist of flowers, baking cookies, and men’s perfume (if you are a man reading this, sorry, I call it perfume whether it’s for men or women—always have—Rod got used to it eventually).

I did a Google search on bad smells. A study conducted at a university in Melbourne resulted in a smell so overwhelmingly nasty that it led to a mass evacuation of the university. That was the horrendously malodorous aroma of a rotting durian fruit. durian fruit.jpgA pastor/mentor friend who had the dubious honor of hearing this message at each of the 3 churches where I shared it on Sunday told me today that the durian fruit is not the worst smell known to man. As a retired EMT, he is aware of something far worse.

What about the things God smells? In the OT verse above something smells bad to God; in the NT something pleasant.

In 2008 contemporary Christian singer Ray Boltz, singer/writer of “Thank You” and “I Pledge Allegiance to the Lamb”, left the Bible-based faith, his Christian ministry, and his wife and 4 children to pursue an alternate lifestyle. In 2014 Dan Haseltine, front man for Christian rock band Jars of Clay made statements on Twitter that he was leaving the faith he had previously espoused. These are two instances of headline-making lifestyle choices made by people in positions of Christian influence. Two over the course of at least a decade.

In 2019 in the past month alone, there have been two more well-publicized accounts of men in positions of Christian influence abandoning their faith because the weight of the world and its enticements and their own desire for “happiness” grew too heavy for them to bear. First, we learned of Josh Harris, author of Christian bestseller of the late 1990s “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” who a few weeks ago left his wife and family then a couple days later stated he no longer considers himself to be a Christian.

A week or so after that, contemporary Christian worship band Hillsong songwriter, Marty Sampson, renounced his Christian faith declaring Christianity is “just another religion” and “it’s not for me”.

What in the world is going on?

Pun is intended. It is a problem of the world and the soul-led mindset. These men all reached the conclusion that  happinesscould not be found with a Jesus mindset in this world, and they were not willing to wait for the next.

Throughout my faith-walk years, I’ve heard more than one pastor/teacher/evangelist state that happiness and joy are not synonyms. happiness is a state achieved through circumstance; joy is achieved through the blessing of God regardless of circumstance. That’s the direction I thought this message would take. However, my deeper investigation will not allow me to make this statement with 100% belief in its veracity.

becomingThe way to be truly happy is to be truly human, and the way to be truly human is to be truly godly.” This quote by Canadian-English theologian JI Packer does not mean to make yourself your own god as we’ll look at more fully later. It does mean to make yourself as much like Jesus, the One you follow, as you possibly can. It also nicely summarizes the contents of one of my favorite books “Becoming Who You Are” by Dutch Sheets.

Does the Bible tell us anywhere that we are to be “happy”? When I searched, I really didn’t expect to find anything. As expected, there were many more references to words with similar meaning to “happiness”. I found words/phrases such as “delight” and “desires of your heart” in Psalm 37:4; “joy” in Psalm 16:11 and Isaiah 12:3; “overjoyed” in 1 Peter 4:13; and “freedom from fear”, “grace”, “hope”, and “blessed” in many places.

But. . .

There were a few occurrences of “happy”.

The KJV Bible translates Psalm 144:15 as “happy is that people whose God is the Lord”.

2 Chronicles 9:7 reads as follows even in the NIV “How happy your people must be! How happy your officials, who continually stand before you and hear your wisdom!”

When I looked at the Orthodox Jewish Bible, I was unable to understand the translation; so, I consulted Strong’s Concordance #3107. The transliteration of the original word for both “happy” and “blessed” is makários.

In both Psalm 144:15 and 2 Chronicles 9:7 the people’s happiness results from a relationship with the Lord. All the men above would be called the current catchphrase of “Christian influencers” (try saying that phrase out loud—I don’t think I pronounced it correctly a single time in any of the 3 services on Sunday). As nearly as I can discern, influencer means “popular person”. These men, popular in their individual Christian circles, quite large ones, walked away from the faith at least partly because they were unable to find that elusive state of mind called happiness.

These are the words of John Cooper, lead singer of Christian rock band, Skillet on August 14: “More and more of our outspoken leaders or influencers who were once ‘faces’ of the faith are falling away.” The Bible speaks of this (AKA apostasy) in 1 Timothy 4:1.

Look again at Isaiah 65:2 “. . . people pursuing their own imaginations” and verse 5 “Such people are smoke in my (God’s) nostrils” If you reread verses 2-5 in Isaiah 65, it is clear Isaiah is talking about “sinful” people, not those of faith.

How does God look upon sin? Can he look upon sin?

On the cross Jesus cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” The scholars who wrote the MacArthur New Testament Commentary believe this to mean exactly what it sounds like: because Jesus was bearing all sin, both the overall sin brought into the world in the fall and the sin of every human being who ever lived or ever would live, God turned his back on him.

This seems to be confirmed by Habakkuk 1:13a which reads: “Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrongdoing.”

Does this mean God is incapable of being in the presence of evil? That can’t be, because several times in the book of Job he had conversations with satan!

I like the explanation of Michael D Guinan, OFM, professor of Old Testament the gist of which states the reason for Jesus’ cry of abandonment on the cross was to fulfil the prophecy in Psalm 22. More than that, though, with the evil all around him in his humanity at that moment he could not feel God’s presence. Remember how he wept at the tomb of Lazarus even though he knew he would be restoring his life? Jesus on the cross, utterly sinless, bore the sin of the world in his soul, but I don’t believe God turned his back on him.

So, if God did not turn his back, how did He feel about all that sin in one place at one pivotal moment in history?

Going back once again to Isaiah 65:5 the smell of evil in God’s nostrils is bad. It is truly stinky. This is just my opinion, but I suspect it smells like something dead. That was confirmed today in my conversation with my pastor and his wise and informed statement as to what is really the worst smell known to man. Verse 2 of Isaiah 65 tells us the people generating this foul aroma were “pursuing their own imaginations.” Is this not what anyone who walks away from a relationship with God is doing? Hear what the people say in the first part of verse 5: “‘Keep away; don’t come near me, for I am too sacred for you!” If one is too sacred for God, does that not mean they have, in fact, made themselves God?

imagination.jpgAnd therein lies the problem. Our imaginations (thoughts) get us into so much trouble. If you were to look up online any of the individuals cited above, you would find their difficulties started in their minds. Every time. James 1:14-15 “but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” In the original edition of my book Fearless in Euroclydon, there is a chapter devoted to “The D Word”. In its rewrite, currently in progress, there will be two dealing with two different kinds of death. It should be our prayer that anyone who makes a deliberate decision to walk away will return to Almighty God before their sin gives birth to death.

Brothers and sisters, it is imperative that we “cast down every imagination, and every high thing (idol) that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5 KJV)

Do you really want to be the thing of which others ask “Ewww. . .! What’s that smell?”

On the other hand. . .

If we learn so much about Jesus and his love that we discover how to love in the same way, we become the person that JI Packer described as “truly godly”; and the Bible calls a “fragrant sacrifice. . . “ Some other translations of these words: “Sweet-smelling savour” (KJV), “aroma of adoration, sweet healing fragrance” (TPT)

Then when others ask the question of us: “What’s that amazing smell?” we will know we are on the right track to fulfilling the great commission: making disciples of all nations.

Father, I ask that you remove from our souls (hearts and minds) the smell of sin and death that so permeates the world in which we live. Help us to have open spiritual ears to the prompting of your Holy Spirit so that we will hear, understand, and obey thereby having words that are a sweet, sweet sound in your ears and lives that are a sweet, sweet savour in your nostrils. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

PS Concerning that new (to me) word “influencers”, I’m in the process of reviewing a book for Barbour Publishing called Obedience Over Hustle by Malinda Fuller. hustleShe writes of influencers frequently along with giving the word “hustle” the more traditional meaning rather than the one I am most familiar with which is cheating at pool. I should have a better understanding of both words and will post my review as a blog here first. I hope you come back to check it out. God bless you. JLM & JLY (think about it. . . )

What is My Purpose!

What is My Purpose?

From July 14 through July 25, 19 students of ages between 21 and 64 listened, talked, participated, wrote, conferenced, laughed, cried, argued, and probably a couple of other verbs the variety of methods used to learn the subject matter the instructors were trying to teach.

Why?

Not too long after Rod died, God revealed that there were individuals who had spent the decades of their earthly lives on a church pew without understanding the most important reasons why.

How could they be helped?

Who would help them?

So began the journey to Licensed Local Pastor School.

Was every one of those 19 people there because they felt a similar, strong directive from God to be there?

Did everyone know the journey might be in vain—there was a chance licensing to pastor a small church, the chief reason for enrolling in the school, would not be the end result?

How many of them started with the initial mark against them of a faith journey thus far walked closely with and wholly trusting in Jesus alone that was different from that expected by the school?

Were any of them “different/weirdly wired” in the way they thought?

What did they each learn? Did they further their education in things for which they already had an elementary knowledge?

This would include the 9 spiritual disciplines:

  1. Prayer
  2. Worship
  3. Fasting
  4. Scripture (Bible reading)
  5. Study (Bible with supplementary resources)
  6. Stewardship (tithing—not just money but talent)
  7. Solitude
  8. Fellowship
  9. Service

Did they learn that the 9 spiritual disciplines don’t just “happen” to a believer; rather they should be “intentional” acts on the part of the believer? Most of these intentional acts can and should be practiced frequently. Some are easier than others, and some will need constant vigilance and reinforcement to be fully engaged.

Did they befriend those with whom they might not ever have otherwise crossed paths? The love of Jesus was clearly and deeply experienced both through other people and through the work of Holy Spirit when human frailty raged within and without. Did they feel that? True, faith isn’t based on feelings, but God gave us feelings.

Did they learn about communication? When one speaks, it is not the words alone which are important; indeed, they are of minimal importance. The tone with which the words are spoken bears more weight, and some would say body language is of the utmost importance! Body language is difficult to alter (for reasons fully addressed in previous posts and implied in this one). Learning to speak with a tone which conveys kindness, encouragement, and the love of Jesus is an achievable goal. Although this is not one of the spiritual disciplines, in this writer’s case, it will be made so.

On the original draft of this blog, the word “I” appeared more than 40 times with other words such as “my” not even counted but present. Since not using personal pronouns is grammatically unwieldy (see above reference to “this writer”), the rest will include the to-be-avoided-at-all-costs pronouns.

The previously mentioned end result? Mom, sister, son, daughter-in-law, 2 granddaughters and Pastor Dave all came to the ceremony Thursday evening to cheer encouragement as I received my graduation certificate.graduation

I was told more than once that the certificate was just a paper saying the classes had all been completed with a passing grade (one of them barely), but it would be strongly recommended a license not be issued to me at the time the other students receive theirs in one to two months. In part, this was due to belief differences which I admittedly didn’t wish to change, and I believe God would have been displeased with me if I had. The major hindrance was, of course, the ASC which many don’t even believe exists because of adroit masking practiced and nearly perfected over the past 50 years. It was the black and white thinking, however, which was my downfall.

God had me take the schooling for a reason. Of course, I tried to figure out just what that reason might be. Could it be that it was to encourage one of the other students in some way? That happened, so possibly that was the correct answer. Did one of the other students need to see a fellow student “on the edge” most of the time and “over the edge” a couple times, but by the grace of God getting back up every single time? That happened, too.

It is about God. It’s not about me. It’s really not even about other people, although some would disagree.

He told me long ago my purpose in life is to glorify him (confirmed in Isaiah 43:7), a fait accompli in my own unique way with regard to Licensed Local Pastor School. I am, as always, grateful to him for his greatly needed assistance.

Now waiting patiently for his next direction, I will continue to learn about the love with which he has loved me so that the love can be given back to him and to others.

Reader greatly loved by our Heavenly Father, God Almighty, may he bless you in all you say and do and in everything your hands touch. In the precious name of Jesus Christ.