What is that smell?

What is that? You know...that smell...my nose is picking up a hormonic frequency that is either including me or excluding me via my olfactory organs which send a signal immediately to my brain for consideration. It could be a sharp stench that repulsed me or a savory smell that draws me. My nasal receptors are wired for memory protection as well as memory comfort. While I was young my mind began cataloging events not just by sight and sound, but by smell. Some of the most vivid memories (good and bad) were created around a certain smell.

Can there be a smell that reminds us of triumph? Can there be a smell that hosts conflict and brings prideful remorse?

2 Corinthians 2:14 -17 - "Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place. For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things? For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ."

Triumph...what a word! {In Christ, triumph is a little different than most of us would think - since we walk in victory, the triumph of Christ brings humble peace to those who receive Him, with humility it disrupts those in the valley of decision, and it humbles and terrifies those that stand in rejection.}

Immediately the day greets us (give it few moments) with reminders of how we are out-of-sync with the "in" people that feel they have the corner of the market in knowledge and beauty. Anyone that doesn't carry the same verbs and vibe is immediately written out of the inner circle. It seems there is a pride to own a certain number of friends and to keep a number of outcasts at bay for differentiation. Many of us are outcasts that love the outcast(of course we will pick the outcasts that we want to own as friends and keep a few "in" people at a distance so that we can claim that we are somewhat normal).

In the midst of our daily interactions with all kinds of people, we have to pull away every once and awhile and check our body odors to see if that could be the cause of our invisibility. We then stop and take a breathe to catch a Scent of Heaven to realize a powerful truth... Jesus came out of invisibility and offered the miraculous only to remain in ambiguity by those who thought they had it together. He keeps us together, we do not have it together.

Men that portend to have self sufficiency will potentially curse their lives with a death scent that moves people away from them instead of toward them. In their time of true need no one will believe that they have a need. Not being able to admit that we "need" is a debilitating disease that eventually chokes us with a prideful paralysis that will not allow us to receive help even "if and when" we truly need it.

According to the Scripture above -- WE STINK -- Face it!! And count on it by faith .. Huh? Through God's saving grace, those who have received Him give of a vertical and horizontal sweet smell. That smell of Christ in us "the Hope of Gory" thrills our God and our brothers and sisters with the memory reminder of the Peace that passes understanding; but that same sweet smell discomfits and reminds the Christ rejector of his or her disconnect. To the believer the triumphant smell is sweet, to the unbeliever it reeks road kill.

OK - Sweet Smelling, Church Triumphant - Let's move forward with sincerity, speaking the words "in Christ" to point as many as possible to that extravagant eternal love relationship with Jesus Christ.

What is that smell in your life?

Is it Jesus?

HLFA,

Jeff

Proof

2 Kings 2:1 - "And it came to pass, when the Lord would take up Elijah into Heaven by a whirlwind, that Elijah went with Elisha to Gilgal." Have you read this amazing story of the home going of Elijah?

This has been a season of grief's impacts, unplanned epitaphs and tear covered obituaries among the Kingdom of men. The question seems to haunt the souls of men ... What security proof and satisfying connection is there between these sorrowful events and the provision of eternity? Or to put it simply How can we know for sure our loved one is in Heaven?... So many times I hear sorrow filled lips spout out, "well at least they are not suffering any longer" , but then I gaze into the windows of their soul and find little solace there because of that lingering question ... Can we really know for sure?..

Through some of details of the story of Elijah's departure, let me take your heart on a journey that hopefully will give us direction in our lives that enriches the few moments that we have that we call "our lives".

It was Elijah's last day! Elisha (the up and coming replacement for the office of Prophet) would stay with Elijah on Elijah's last walk. Though ridiculed by the other prophets (because everyone knew it was the day that Elijah would be taken up by God in a whirlwind), Elisha was determined not leave his master's side on his last day. At the end of this "beyond emotional" ordeal Elisha would have a "Double Dose" of Elijah's spirit for the rest of his life.

FIRST: Let's Watch the movement through the literal meaning of the names of the towns related to Elijah's last day --
1. From Gilgal (meaning "The Wheel" - the turning mechanism - the first encampment by Joshua in the promised land) There is point in all of out lives, like a crossroad, where the thought of eternity becomes a draw or desire to know - Is it real and what secures my home in Heaven -- Jesus is drawing us to Him?;
2. To Bethel (meaning "House of God" - the Place where Jacob received his new name' "Israel", after a wrestling match with the Angel of the Lord) This may be that moment where we truly try to call out to a personal God, not letting go until we know it is OK - and that encounter changes our life forever -- Jesus is securing us as His;
3. To Jericho (meaning "it's moon" - going "to the moon" could not have been any more impressive than the battle of Jericho - memories of a shout and a miraculous decent of impassible, unscalable walls -- first miraculous battle conquest in the promised land by the children of Israel ) Once we have secured that relationship through faith in Christ - we will know miracles, though some would think that we are crazy, but Jesus loves us extravagantly;
4. Then finally to the Jordan ("the Descender" - the dividing line for every conquest, this river would be where the "next" movement would happen. This little muddy stream of a river, except in flood season when it would overflow its banks, was the center of many a Bible - Change. Facing death will change every one of us ... but will we let it be a God change - For Jesus will never leave us nor abandon us.

SECOND: The Jordan -- It was so amazing that this was where the dividing would take place -- both Elijah and Elisha would experience the same miracle. With a slap of Elijah's mantel on the waters edge they would both walk a dry path across the Jordan River. Both Elijah and Elisha would be parted by a flaming Chariot. Both would be changed at that moment, but Elijah was caught up to God in a whirlwind while Elisha would walk alone with God in the days ahead with a double portion of the Spirit of Elijah(God's Spirit).

THIRD: We all will come face to face with the separation caused by death and dying. We will all experience the loss of a loved one. Many Believers and unbelievers alike will face the unavoidable appointment with death ... and there is no real comfort there, unless the Real Comforter is there. Death is real but for the believer it is just a shadow.

"And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this ... The judgement: so Christ was once offered to bear the sin of many, and unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation." Hebrews 9:27

Faith can be as deep as we need it or as shallow as we can handle it - but the childhood promise that can't be overdone unless it is done out of mockery or quackery stands forever to comfort us ... if we will allow it -- John 3:16 - "FOR GOD so loved the world, that HE GAVE HIS ONLY BEGOTTEN SON ... that WHOSOEVER ... BELIEVES on HIM, shall not perish, but HAVE EVERLASTING LIFE." Believe on Him, JESUS.

Some will want to scrutinize faith at the most inopportune times -- like at the death of a loved one. The whispers of Hell will want to rob us of hope by throwing out death-lines of doubt causing us to question that the one that has passed was "GOOD ENOUGH?", "CLOSE ENOUGH?", "CLEAN ENOUGH?", "FORGIVEN ENOUGH?", "TRULY SAVED?" ....

Think about this nugget of faith -- "He came unto His own, and His own received Him not. But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His Name." John 1:11,12 ...

HEAVEN depends on the ONE
Who is good enough,
Who is close enough,
Who is clean enough
-- with Power to Forgive and Power to Save.
JESUS IS OUR ASSURANCE. JESUS IS OUR PROOF.

HLFA,

Jeff

"Jesus Wept." John 11:35 ---- This line was recorded in scripture because Jesus' tears were so different than the tears of men fake and real at the funeral of Jesus' friend Lazarus.
... If He was to look at your life ... would He find faith there or would He shed tears for His loss of you.

Look again at the picture attached --- Except you become as a little child ....Believe!!!

Brefore I Go any Further

Before I go any further I would like to thank anyone who has taken the time to allow my thoughts to walk beside your thoughts over the years( of "God's tap on my shoulder" that so soon becomes a knock at your door). For those of you who have opened the door of your heart and welcomed me into your lives...I truly am humbly privileged by your listening. Those of you who have responded back - It has been awesome to watch the growth of your love for Eternity.

Psalm 39:1-2 - "I said, I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue: I will keep my mouth with a bridle, while the wicked is before me. I was dumb with silence, I held my peace, even from good; and my sorrow was stirred."

There are assumptions that I walk with God on a daily basis, truth be known - To walk with Him is my broken soul's desire. I often find myself running behind Him and when I arrive in the great congregation looking for Him, I feel so disconnected that often the "corporate worship" angers me. I want to belong just like anyone else.

I do not try to be a non-conformist, but I have found that in presenting my body as a living sacrifice - the transformation of my mind puts me somewhat out-of-sorts with the desires of the flesh. Superficial religious shows truly make me feel like someone is literally scratching the blackboard of my integrity (I just want to scream!).

Psalm 39:3-5 - "My heart was hot within me, while I was musing the fire burned: then spake I with my tongue, LORD, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is; that I may know how frail I am. Behold, thou hast made my days as an handbreadth; and mine age is as nothing before thee: verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity. Selah."

I have learned (in this walk with the King) that I carry things from my heart to the written page that when read, cause even my eyes to glaze over... and my mind to shut down in "overload". SO many times I will sit still and not speak, though there is flood of consequential verbs flooding my soul. Where is the voice of Love when so many formerly good men and women pant like dogs in heat after strange destructive lusts, rancid addictions, and illicit affairs? Where is the voice for justice when so many die daily for faith and family at the hands of barbaric hatred? And where is the voice of compassion while human beings by the millions are force-birthed into trash cans or social exile?

Psalm 39:6-9. - "Surely every man walketh in a vain shew: surely they are disquieted in vain: he heapeth up riches, and knoweth not who shall gather them. And now, Lord, what wait I for? my hope is in thee. Deliver me from all my transgressions: make me not the reproach of the foolish. I was dumb, I opened not my mouth; because thou didst it."

I have learned that sometimes God keeps me quiet so that the fallen life around me becomes a mirror of who I really am ... Fragile, weak and flawed at best. Sometimes my silence brings personal repentance that also saves me from further shame and scars. If I can face the fragility of the most noble self-serving -endeavors, then the efforts of my days will focus more on things that last forever (instead of "stuff" that feeds my momentary hunger but leaves me empty in the end).

Psalm 39:10-11 - "Remove thy stroke away from me: I am consumed by the blow of thine hand. When thou with rebukes dost correct man for iniquity, thou makest his beauty to consume away like a moth: surely every man is vanity. Selah".

I truly have a tough time with a generation that hates their Fathers and a generation that does not bless their Mothers. I see red when a generation claims that they are pure, but that generation reeks with the unwashed filth of their own life choices. I ache and cry over those that display arrogant antagonism toward faith and close their eyes to any love from above. My heart burns angrily toward the generation that gets their kicks out of disqualifying and desolating the fallen and less fortunate. But how different am I than they? The only difference will be the shorter duration it takes for me to cry before my God. My actions, like so many, are apathetically hesitant.

I weep over images of those whom I know that have "moved-on" further and further into irresponsibility, never truly considering those that they have left behind... wounded by their breach. Some of these will still watch from a distance in the future, broken, as they see media images of love growing ... But Without them.

Psalm 39:12-13 - " Hear my prayer, O LORD, and give ear unto my cry; hold not thy peace at my tears: for I am a stranger with thee, and a sojourner, as all my fathers were. O spare me, that I may recover strength, before I go hence, and be no more."

My prayer with this communication ...O Lord Jesus, please strengthen us as We live in the "Middle". Help us to love people and use things (not the other way around). Give us the miracle of time to redeem ... to allow Your Life and Love to be sensed by those who you bring into the path of our walk with You. Please let the impression left on those lives that You seek through us, be one that awes with the extravagance of Your Love offering through Jesus Christ, Amen.

HLFA,

Jeff

And He Called Upon


And he called upon ...
1. To put a name upon, to surname - to be given a name that intimately connects the recipient to a distinct family.
You really would not understand; neither did I ... until the Light of the True Day sliced the truth of its revealing rays right through the mirage of my life of debilitating squaller. I looked at what I had become under the scrutiny of these defining rays, and was truly appalled by the scars caused by my choices. When I was tossed like a filthy rag into the gutter of darkness, my enemy whispered that my name was "Mud". "Please, if there is a Father of Lights give me a name that connects me to more than this ruin!" And he called upon ...

2. To permit one's self to be surnamed - the will must bow and the spirit must yield to receive the eternal surname.
"Well if Mud would be my name, then I would show them what Mud was made of!" And my life became more and more disconnected until this Pure Light began touching my filthy life. Almost like a scanner from head to toe and back again, my cancerous flaws were exposed for the oozing mess that they really were. The Rays of the light seemed to carry a power within them that moved me to begin loathing what was revealed on the surface of my life. At the same time the Rays would pause to reveal the true lost condition of my heart and soul ...fear swept over my soul ... "Please, I am lost and a stranger to whoever You are ... Please reveal Your Name!" And he called upon ...

3. To be named after someone - this is the name of another that becomes the name that defines our life - who we are.
My life to date was defined by the name given by my enemy, Mud; and I am quite sure that I have been fulfilling the prophesy of that name over me. All the while it had made me a nobody with no lasting purpose, with no real power over my fall, and no strength to pull myself out. "Please, tell me your name for I am nobody desperately in need of somebody to pull me out!" And he called upon ...

4. To call out a reason for the crime and realizing the charge associated with the crime (and reproach) and summon the prosecution to lay the blame where it must rightfully fall.
The Light had performed it's perfect work, for now I stood naked, scarred, and truly alone with my name and my crime. The blame had fallen on me and I was all but undone until ... Out of the darkness of the mist of hopelessness there arose a sweet song and strange sight as my eyes were now able to see: I saw the torn image of a man being gently lowered from a cruel, rugged frame of torture and death. Those lowering Him looked my way and spoke into my soul - "He did this for your crimes, your nakedness, your scars, and your loneliness." At first I wanted to deny that I was in need as spoken to, but how foolish it is for the naked to pretend that they are clothed. So I cried out... "If this was for me, I want His Name ... Please tell me His Name!" And he called upon...

5. To call to invoke the Name as helper, witness, ultimate judge and deliverer.
The vision and words of the servants who lowered the Man...had me on my knees in a moment of surrender. With my eyes closed, I pleaded for whatever the Dead Man could offer to save me from what I had made of me. When my words ceased, near by me there was a hiss, and then a whisper that oozed out a sympathetic sounding question, "But what can a dead man do for you? ... He is dead!" Then I called upon, still I knew not whom ... "If He is dead then I must be dead too ...please tell me his Name!" And he called upon ...
    
6. To call upon by pronouncing the Name as the explanation and expression of the fact that this Living One is the Way, the Truth and the Life - there is NO OTHER way to the Father but by Him. When I opened my eyes within that moment of my fear and hopelessness - I saw a bright mist now gathering about an empty cave like tomb, and one all dressed in the pure light that had shown on me saying --" The One who you seek is not among the dead, He is Risen!" All that was within me cried out, "Please tell me His Name so that I may call upon Him!" "His Name is Jesus!"
And he called upon the Name of the Lord, Jesus!

Epikaleomai - call upon...
Romans 10:13 - "For whosoever shall call upon the Name of the LORD shall be saved."
Romans 10:14 - "How shall they call on Him whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?"

HLFA,

Jeff

Sumpascho

Sumpascho..."to suffer with because the suffering has been the same" ... Personally and private with Christ; and corporately as a people of God with Him we suffer. This creates the draw of Christ to us - through us - to Him... Related to the "similarity of Suffering!" our handicaps, scars and valleys of suffering actually make us a receptor for hope to those currently walking through suffering.

Don't get offended when you seem to be the target of someone's rage or venting --- it may be your connection to the sufferings of Christ that puts you in a unique position to minister to the "hurt". Don't become overwhelmed if the socially and physically handicapped find comfort in your presence. You may find yourself asking this stupid question - "why can't I have any normal people for friends?" Please don't you dare define normal.

So our story really begins with my head spinning from a parallel study of Romans 8 (Mercy) and Revelation 8 (God's Final Justice) and a question for God "What is in this for me?"

... Then the flood of emotion began with a memory of the sun starting to set, water balloons flying through the air and bursting against the windows of the house; as a joyful figure hobbled about the back yard --laughing uncontrollably. Though being chased by unmerciful children, who were hurling these soaker grenades at him, for the first time in a the longest time Bob felt safe and at home. He was an easy target because of his scars from birth that created his hesitant handicapped movements, but it was like he hesitated on purpose to be hit; and the explosion of the bursting projectiles seemed to scream love to his soul.

The Redding kids in their crazy play were washing Bob with safety, they were bringing him into a family. The kids never realized that just a few weeks later Bob would be missing from his stealth visit's to the Mission Chapel ... But would be found lifeless, alone and hanging in his cold apartment closet. Though it was deemed suicide -- we knew Bob's handicap all to well - he had neither the strength nor the muscular control to pull off what was told. (The world wants to wash the memory of the hurting into the sea of forgetfulness - but God Remembers).

We drove Bob home that night of the Feast of the Love Balloons, and the boys asked ... as Bob walked away from the van (waving all the way into his apartment building) - "Will we see Bob again?" They were feeling the Sumpascho ... No words could describe the unseen burden that we carried for Bob.

Backing up just a few short weeks - we (the Redding Family ... Dad, Mom and kids) got its first introduction to Bob while corralling young people into a storefront chapel for a Thursday night "yelling about Jesus" time and pizza: "Freak! Come on back and fight like a real human being, you #%&*@&* freak!" He was not hard to look at, but he tried his best to be invisible. He was physically different for sure. He had no earthly gifts to offer but his bag of dirty laundry. And when not afraid, he had such a beautiful smile that sang a strange and distant harmony with his sorrowful mysterious eyes. He didn't say a lot, but this night in particular, he huddled close to me (though a stranger) while he shook with fear. I chased away the "punks" that were threatening him, and that night he never left my side. We drove him home because of the look of terror on his face when he knew we were about to say good bye. We couldn't leave him, it was blocks to walk home alone to his apartment, and we wanted to keep Bob safe. That night the boys asked - "Do you think we will see Bob again?" Happily we did get to see Bob again and again for 6 weeks of our lives.

When the unbelievable soul shaking news of Bob's death was delivered to us a week after Bob went missing --- we cried our private tears of disbelief, and the boys asked "Do you think we will see Bob again?" In the silence after that question, we all knew Bob was finally Home ... For on that first night of Bob's hiding near us ...he heard and found the message God's Love; and with simple childlike faith trusted Jesus, becoming part of a more secure family.

If given the opportunity, we all might ask -- What happened to Bob in that closet of sorrow , why would God allow it to happen? I will leave you with this -- Jesus sweat great drops of blood in the garden for all. The Spirit of Christ makes intercession for us with "groaning that cannot be uttered". And God is touched by and touches the heart of his kids, who are willing to share in the brokenness with Him. As they suffer with the Savior, they pour out Love. - Sumpascho. Six short weeks to love.

Rom. 8:17 - "If children, then heirs, heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ; if so be that ... We suffer with (Sumpascho) Him, that we may also be glorified together."

Rev. 8:13 - "And I beheld, and heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, woe, woe , woe, to the inhabiters of the earth by reason of the voices of the three Angels, which are yet to sound."

Someday the "suffering with" will be over, and "alas, alas, alas" - hopelessness will take its place... O the darkness.

Reach out to rescue the fallen, bring them into the Light of Living Hope, especially in light of the hopeless future if Christ is not received.

HLFA,

Jeff

Merry Christmas 2015

Galatians 4:4 - 6 " But when the fullness of time was come, God sent for His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, Crying, Abba, Father.

"Wow! -- Here it is Christmas 2015 sitting right on our door step. The same old minions of Hell have slithered out once again to sing their songs of denial and to plant their slimy festering spores of doubt into the hearts of the double minded; but what they cannot account for is the great need of men for Everlasting Hope.

The words of the scripture above - "In the fullness of time" allows us to understand the amazing complexity of what God did so many years ago and is still doing today. Think of Hope as a massive sailing vessel that has been fortified to withstand the crashing waves of adversity, to stay refreshed in the droughts of history, and to sail through the devastatingly abrasive winds of time. This Ship was being painstakingly prepared before creation; and its Architect carefully continued building and supplying through the Fall, the Flood, and the rise and fall of Nations. The Captain, the Crew, the Cargo and time of departure was an amazingly orchestrated event that moved all men, all historical events and all Kingdoms into place to create an undeniable portal of entry for a Salvation that "whosoever believeth" would have the full security provided by the Hand of God.

Oh -- you can find the loveless heresies that float out of the stinking heart tombs of Faith Rejecters. You can trust that they have ignored the obvious in an attempt to make truth oblivious. You can hear their broken bias and their totally depraved depurative methods to oppose the obvious miracle of God. They conjure up remote erroneous historical references as their proof to stand in opposition to the greatest love story the world will ever know.

Oh how embittered these unbelieving hearts must be; and how fain their joy is in light of eternity. So much wiser they claim to be, but unlike the "Grinch who stole Christmas" -- They may never give Christmas back; they reject it and do not want it for fear that they may become as naïve and ignorant as "those truths" that they are fighting against. What a sad existence! Merry Christmas sorrowfully empty hearts!

Hey, Kids of the Father! -- Do not be shaken by the rumors of "so called scholars" ;who have squinted at gnats and swallowed camels; who have studied error until they have emptied their lives of truth ... Let your faith burn brightly from the bow of HOPE -- shining God's Salvation because of the Birth, life, death and resurrection of the One - Jesus.

Final Biblical Note:
Faith and Free Will are two amazing gifts endowed upon us from Creation. These two siblings should never have been separated, because alone they actually separate and isolate mankind from Eternal Glory ("For all have sinned and come short of the Glory of God" Rom. 3:23). These two were separated at the fall, and the distance between them could only be closed by a Savior; and that Savior is the Lord Jesus Christ. The dis-connection between faith and free will can only be revived by true Spirit Birthed Son-ship.
Faith = Hebrews 11:1 - "Now Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen."
Free Will = Romans 7:19 - "For the good that I would I do not: but the evil that would not, that I do."
Reconnection = Romans 10: 9, 10 - "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with mouth confession is made unto salvation." and Romans 10:13 = "For whosoever shall call upon the Name of the Lord, shall be saved."

Freely Receive Him and He will freely save you --- Forever!
Openly Share Him - and let others enjoy Him also - Forever!

Merry Christmas!

HLFA,

Jeff

Ask Anything!

"Ask anything..." This challenge, if given to the fearless heart of a child, would definitely encourage a response that would be shaped by the child's world of influences, but the child's imagination would be the only limit. Years and tears added to the blitzkrieg-like media assaults on this fearless heart, in many cases, has rendered it numb and dreamless. So sad ... that even in this Season of the potential culmination of millions of childhood dreams... there is a blank expression on the faces of the misdirected masses of humanity. We can't even begin to lift our disappointed hearts to expect a miracle, let alone move our lips to request one ... for the thought of one more unanswered prayer is just too painful.


BUT please don't give up ... "Behold!" (1275 verses in the Bible contain this word - "Behold" -- which means see this, don't miss this) Chapter 7 of Isaiah tells a story that parallels the emotions of many a heart today -- The days carried all sorts of tremendously horrible rumors of death and destruction.

There was a massive assault from an enemy that had absolutely no mercy... BUT In these dark war filled days of King Ahaz - God sent Isaiah to him to bring an amazingly unbelievable message of hope (one of those almost "too good to be true" event promises), AND on top of this message was an offer of a proof "sign" -- Verse 10,11 (don't miss this) "Moreover the LORD spoke again to Ahaz, saying --- Ask thee a sign of the LORD thy God; ask it either in the depth, or in the height above" ... Ahaz... had a heart that had been hardened by the combination of lust, sin and pride ...( like all of us )... but God still gave him an amazing opportunity for a personal connection -- the LORD himself spoke to Ahaz --- Ask anything! Ask for the earth to move, ask for the stars to dance, ask anything below or anything above... But you check out the story: Ahaz wearied the LORD with a pompous "adult-like" answer, "I will not ask, neither will I tempt the LORD".

God knew how bogus this answer was, but this offer of a sign was not going to be wasted on a moment of eternal anger, but was going to expand the scope of its offering to generations of "Believers" - those who were willing to become as little children once again by the miracle birth from above provided by a miracle birth below... AND THE SIGN WAS GIVEN: Isaiah 7:14 "Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel."Ahaz and his generation would now have to look forward in faith for an event to come, just as we have to look back in faith to an event that happened. The key at this juncture of our history is to BEHOLD -- BELIEVE-- and LIVE!

Every Christmas season has the drone of the discord of selfish temporal gathering, while the song of Emmanuel still sends out its pure sweet eternal refrain. Every generation has the opportunity to reverberate the sound or resist the sound. LET US REVERBRATE THE MESSAGE!

"Merry Christmas!" - The war cry of those who have brought their sin and shame to Him to find full cleansing and restoration because of the "Sign".
"Merry Christmas!" - The heart cry of "hopeful reciprocation" from the "seekers" who are taking the risk to be associated with the "Sign".
"Merry Christmas!" - The greeting of those in agreement with God as to the fulfillment of the "Sign" that causes such celebration.
"Merry Christmas! - The challenge to all to "Ask Anything!" God's Promises are not too good to be true ... God's promises are true.

Behold Jesus in this hour of great need.
Behold - do not miss this opportunity.

"Fall on your knees! Oh hear the angel voices!
O night divine, the night when Christ was born;
O night, O Holy Night, O night divine!
O night, O Holy Night, O night divine!

Did you know that the words to "O Holy Night" were written by a Wine Seller by trade? Though Actually not the most noble of trades, Placide Cappeau de Roquemaure (1847), being challenged to write a poem for Christmas by his parish priest(though he himself was not a church goer), upon looking at the Luke 2 - and the Christmas "Sign" again -- He wrote words that still stir our hearts today.

OK, it is in our hands once again -- Here is the Christmas Choice: 
Stay anesthetized by our sin, shame and unbelief;
or BEHOLD!!!
Ask Anything!

HLFA -

Merry Christmas!

Jeff

Emergency Exit UP

Strange sight (probably just to me)...as I was on an airport shuttle on my way to a rental car facility, I noticed that directly above where I was sitting there was an emergency exit hatch. I had to catch a picture of this because at first it made me chuckle ..."Emergency Exit...Up?" ..."Use in case of a trumpet sound ... Cool!" With the click of the phone on my camera it went into digital memory and out of mind. All it took was One incoming personal phone call of worldly trouble, (that literally opened the flood gates of the heart through my eyes) and I was crying for a Heavenly escape hatch.

"There hath no temptation taken you but such is common to man, but GOD IS FAITHFUL, He will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation make a way to escape that ye may be able to bear it." I Corinthians 10:13 

The phone receiver to my ear had me groping for some Words from the Father. I just wanted to find a strategic place to nail in a rescue karabiner, to hook and to secure a life-line to and through an emergency exit. Oh the cruelties that can be hidden in the heart. A heart that was meant to be the reserve for multidirectional love. A heart that could be reached by the Spirit of God to be challenged to great acts of compassion and kindness. Without an emergency exit UP, a heart felt trapped and abandoned will lash out at those who just happen to be in the way at that moment in time. Anger (which is only one letter short of Danger) loosens the very fires of Hell because of the flawed bridle placed on the tongue. The biggest temptation in life is to justify our existence out of anger, and then from that trench of destruction, verbally abuse the lives of others "because they had it coming" or "I'm not gonna take it anymore" or "I'm in a bad mood"..

"But will with the temptation make a way to escape" - As the flames begin to burn inside... in the smoke of self-justified, so called, righteous indignation, sitting next to each other is my Sin and my Escape. Their difference is so obvious that a child can figure out which to choose. Let's take a breath ... look at them ... and then choose wisely the way of escape; because it is the Way that leads to life ("For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" Romans 6:23). Choosing to turn from your Sin is the way of our Lord Jesus Christ. There they sit "Hate" and "Love". Breathe ... Look carefully ... choose LOVE. The Father chose love. The Son chose love. The Spirit chooses love. The choice of Hate may give you a momentary feeling of victory, but when you turn and look...you will see the carnage left behind when you unknowingly beat and crucified Love.

Christ's cross was not only the mark on the planet that frees trusting humanity from the ravages of eternal Hell, but look carefully at Jesus' sacrifice: The cruel cross is a display of what the choice of sin really looks like, and how devastating it truly is. Christ became sin for us on the cross that we might become the righteousness of God through Him. Although the words of Christ from the cross ( written below) have deep connective meaning - the face value of these words place a different spin on the reality of sins devastation:

"My God, my God, why has though forsaken me?" (Matthew 27:46; Psalm 22:1) - The Choice of sin will make us feel abandoned by God.
"Father forgive them for they know not what they are doing." (Luke 23:34) - The Choice of Sin will make us feel others can be forgiven but not us.
“I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise" (Luke 23:43) - The choice of sin will make us feel we deserve death today ("It would be better for everyone if I was dead").
“Woman, behold thy son!” and “son behold thy mother!” (John 19:26-27) - Sin will turn our loved ones over to others to care for them.
“I thirst!” (John 19:28) - Sin never satisfies, it always leaves us thirsty.
“Father, into Your hands I commit my spirit” (Luke 23:46) - Sin will cause us to give up.
“It is finished!" (John 19:30) - Sin will convince us that there is no hope, the only victory is to give up... don't even try to make it right.

None of Christ's wounds on the Cross were self inflicted but examine the wounds and the placement of them for a further sense of Sin's devastation: The Crown of Thorns -- sin's reign of physical and mental anguish. The Beating - sin scars beyond recognition. The Nails - hands and feet that will never feel soundness again. The Pierced Side - a broken heart. BUT BECAUSE OF CHRIST'S RESURECTION WE CAN BE RESTORED AND WE CAN BE USEFUL AGAIN --- BUT WAIT A MINUTE!!!!

Today we may be sitting at anger's crossroad and there are two phantoms pleading with us to go their way - HATE and LOVE. Hate will lead us to sin, but love will lead us to the Cross.

Breathe - take a good look at the Cross - and choose love!
"Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you." Eph. 4:32

Love - God's Emergency Escape - UP!
Don't hesitate - Choose love!
HLFA,

Jeff

May 1984 - Chorus from "Little Child"
"Little Child, with the heart to please the Father.
Little Child, wanting so to be loved.
Was it that your heart --- was made to be broken.
Was it that your eyes --- were for tears and not joy, and not joy ... and not joy?"

Half an Hour

Phil: 4:6 -"Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

"Revelation 8:1 - "And when he opened the seventh seal, there was silence in Heaven about the space of half an hour."

One Scripturally noted "half an hour" - and a silent "half an hour" at that; and it happened like a snapshot portrait of and "in Heaven". Lets look at the portrait:
There is a scroll like book that has the focus at first by the Heavenly photographer and it's seventh seal has just been broken ...The seal's opening brings a half an hour of silent preparation for the next Apocalyptic sequence of events. Seven angels that are standing before God are given seven trumpets. And another angel comes and stands before the alter with a Golden Censor for Frankincense; and he is given much incense that he should offer it with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden alter that is before the Throne of God. The smoke of the incense mingles with the prayers of the saints and ascends upward before God out of the angel's hand. The angel then fills the censor with the fire from off of the alter and hurls it to the earth...at that point there are voices, thundering and lightning and an earthquake on earth.The finish of the portrait refocuses on the Seven angels that are preparing to sound their trumpets.  (Read - Revelation 8:1-6)

I had to stop and realize that all the prayers of all the saved culminate in this moment in a royal fragrant ascent before the face of God. A silent half of an hour -- where all Heaven's focus is the frankincense mingled prayers of God's kids. God pauses the cataclysmic events of judgment to let all of Heaven's witnesses and all of Earth's readers of Revelation know that HE RELISHES THE PRAYERS OF HIS PEOPLE.

How do we value our time of prayer with our God? Is it a duty? Is it a repetitive labor? Is it a time of regretful wording of phrases? Do we hesitate because we feel unworthy to request anything from God? Have we agreed with the discouraging whispers of Hell saying ... "who are we to presume upon the goodness of God"? Do we even pray at all?

When the disciples heard Jesus pray -- They desired that He teach them...They must have sensed there was a power filled connection there ... He gave them an outline (that some call the Lord's Prayer or "The Our Father"), and then encouraged them over and over again throughout His time walking with them... to pray. He knew that life would fill in the burdensome details, and that they could learn to cherish the time as much as He and the Father have cherished their time together throughout all eternity.

Think about it: A "half an hour" out of the "thousand years as a day and a day as a thousand years" --- Eternity stopped for a measure of time that we understand, so that we would know that God values our prayers ... they are the cherished royal scent of Love's connection between Earth and Heaven.

Please come boldly to the Throne of Grace in these days of growing need -- and you will find GRACE to help in yours and others time of needed supply.

PRAY!!! And let God love you.

HLFA,

Jeff

PS - 1/2 hour as 20.83333 years or 20.83333 years as a 1/2 hour.



Fallen Entertainment

"Emanuel - God in the Midst of us". My thought in writing this weeks devotional challenge is not to offend the reader and definitely not to embarrass those who may have been involved in the narrative portion of the diatribe. (Take a deep breath and follow along if you will, bear with me because this may be stark and even offensive).

The early morning lower decibel endearment was broken by the sound of a harsh piercing voice of a female who had definitely had too much to drink, way too early in the morning. She was having real trouble maintaining her posture and not slurring her words. She wasn't trying to hide it, in fact she loudly announced to all near the exact potion of choice and her triple abuse of it. She let every one know that she was physically hot, but "not that way" with a laugh. She could barely hold her eye focus in any one direction.

Fortunately to her surprise and pleasure, she was standing right in line where she needed to be to catch her flight... (of course she needed help by kind bystanders to get her phone ticket in place for boarding). "Do I look ok? Man am I hot! Am I slurring my words...laugh?" Was repeated over and over as we boarded the plane.

Those near her in line did all they could do to avoid eye contact; and once on the boarding ramp, they did their best to leave her behind and scatter into the belly of the plane.I was one of those ... but ... her place in line was right behind me and she must of made a strong mental note of that. I was able to duck into the plane under the stowaway bins of the plane into a window seat, and immediately stare out the window like I had always been there. Hopefully, safe from embarrassing interaction.

Then I heard that same irritating voice ... "There you are!" and to my initial dismay she chose the seat right next to me. And it wasn't long that she cajoled another "male" passenger to take the aisle seat next to her. His first question to her was "You been drinking?" And so with awkward laughter she proceeded to brag on the volume of her "fire balls" and how hot she was and how numb her lips were. It turned out that he was a fan of her choice of drink.

For some reason I became deeply burdened but knew that serious communication was out of the question... she was ready to flirt with any male that would show her attention. Her laughter was only a guise for the real pain that had created her choice for over-medication. The banter was so broken and disconnected that it was hilarious to passengers and crew all around her - she became the flight entertainment.

Before long though, her plan and her pain was being revealed. Three failed marriages, and an "ass-hole(quoted by her 3 times in a row)" 21 year old son, and she was on her way to a lewd weekend getaway with a "friend"{that she met through work communication where they both overly revealed each other through e-mail, texting and nude pictures}. "But I am not a bad person, I am an honest CPA, and my mother used to make me go to church and I used to play the autoharp." WOW what sad fragmented thinking. Although she was laughing this all off, the undertone was breaking me somewhere inside of the Father's shared heart.

As one more drink on the plane led to her momentary sleep; I was given a glance of an unveiled past, and I saw a tiny little blond haired, blue eyed girl ... with a stare and a smile that would fill a room with innocence, but the image was immediately shattered by the nightmarish reality of her adult choices without Godly guidance. She slept; I stared out the window and let the tears of God's Spirit work on my soul. She was so in need of a rescue ... "Jesus, you intervened and changed the life of a woman who had gone through 5 husbands and the one she was living with was not her husband ...please rescue this fallen princess, I know you care."

Just that morning I had read through every 20th chapter of the New Testament, Psalms and Proverbs (My day of the month plan); and Proverbs 20:1 came to mind, "Wine is a mocker and strong drink is raging, whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise." Then my heart saw a fallen princess - "It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine, nor princes strong drink. " Prov. 30:4. "Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto that is of a heavy, harlot's heart." Prov. 30:6 . My eyes clouded as I prayed for this dying, heavy hearted fallen princess. "O is there not a Father to care? Oh yes there is, and I will continue to intercede for this one fallen princess for she told me that her name was Laura."

In the last days there will arise many deceivers, false prophets, and parroting followers of those that go about leading by the dilution of the Words of Scripture with educated opinions and claims of offering a cafeteria style approach to solving Theological divisions. These dark clouds without healing rain purport to offer unity, but then choose what and who to berate and belittle. Rather than seeking unity among believers based on firmer foundations of scripture, and a "both, and" approach to interpretation of the words, this empty dreamers reflexively name and mark those (in mocking disrespectful fashion) who may not see it their way .

We need to rise up Oh people of God with greater personal devotion to the reading and study of God's Word, to times of more compassionate outward living, and seasons of more passionate prayer. Having hearts full of his Word and lives full of His Holy Spirit let us intercede in the presense of our High Priest, Jesus, for the souls of humanity.

In light of His Coming -
Live fervently,
Love undivided,
and stand amazed at His daily rescue!

HLFA,

Jeff