It’s a Jesus Story

I honestly do not know what people will think of me after this post, because humans naturally tend to like super-people who serve God perfectly and hardly struggle [with real issues]. Sure, we talk about struggle, we admit to the general idea of failure in our past or present—but few ever publicly admit to the actual, specific, day-by-day struggles of ordinary people.

But the book of Revelation says that we conquer Satan by the Blood of the Lamb [Jesus] and the word of our testimony (Rev. 12:11). So here is my testimony.

First, I will give you a quick synopsis of my life:

Most people reading this probably know that I am a white, Mennonite kid, originally from Minnesota, whose family moved to Los Angeles, when I was twelve, to work for the Southern California district of Choice Books and to plant inner-city churches. Most people also know that my mother, my sister, and I were in a car accident which left my beautiful mother fatally injured and she died in the rescue helicopter moments after take-off. This was four days before my brother’s wedding, just four months ago.

So that is the synoptic of my life, now let me tell you my story. I do not write this because I love to spill my guts on the internet. I write this because Jesus has done a wonderful work in my life, and I have become convinced that not to share my story is denying Jesus’ redemption of my life. Jesus has given me a story, now it is my job to share it. I also share it because I think there are a lot of guys out there who need to hear others talk about their stories. I have nothing to hide. My story is true and my redemption is true, so why would I not tell it?

I “accepted Jesus into my heart” several times when I was young, the two most significant being at age seven and nine. Although I do believe I was sincere, I do not think I completely understood the entirety of who Jesus is. To me He was the God-Man in white clothes who died on the cross to save me from Hell. So I said a prayer in order to escape Hell and satisfy my conscience. I believe Jesus heard my childish prayer and set me on a journey to more fully understand who He is. Why? Because He loves me. Unfortunately, sometimes in the process of getting better, we become worse.

When I was eleven years old, I realized that I liked to lust. And in my foolish weakness, I chose to look at pornography. I cannot say that I just happened to fall into it; I chose to walk into it, and everything that comes with it. And I became a slave to it. I quietly worshiped and served the addiction for three years and was powerless to rid myself of its clutches.

It was during this time that my family moved to Los Angeles in April of 2008. Looking back with my limited perspective, our move was probably a life saver for me, but at the time I hated it. The year 2008, my twelfth year of life, was probably the darkest year I have ever lived. I believe even darker than the last four months. Then, I was a slave to sin (Satan); now, I am a slave to Christ (which is the most freeing situation in the whole world because His burden is light). My slavery, added with the intense loneliness I felt in L.A., affected my whole lifestyle and I quickly became a recluse who only desired to please myself.

All throughout these years, I knew I was not obeying God. I hated it and I pleaded with God to do a miracle and to give me courage to confess. But everyday I awoke and was forced to serve the master I had given myself to. I was living like God’s good son, but I was truly eating pig’s food (Luke 15:11-32).

On Christmas Eve, 2008, I and my parents had a conversation which ended in my recommitting my life to Christ, but I still did not confess my addiction. I sometimes question the sincerity of my experience, but that night marks a point in time when my life began to turn around.

The spring of 2009 was a huge leap for me. Back then, Choice Books sold the “Read the Bible in 90 Days” Bible. Being the type of person who likes a reading challenge, I attempted it. Those three months of ingesting God’s word did something that I cannot explain. It all culminated on June 27, 2009, when I wrote my Dad a letter which explained everything about me that I could think. After having him read it, I felt a relief that I will never forget. I believe it was then, at the moment when I released my idol, that Jesus was able to flood my soul with Himself. But I still had a long journey ahead of me. It took about another year before I was really free from the bonds of pornography—a year of surrendering to Jesus, and strong accountability to my parents. (Let me insert that I credit my parents trust in me as one of the greatest enablers in my surrender. They trusted me to surrender and make right choices.)

I still need to surrender to Jesus, I still have struggles and temptations of various sorts, and I am still a choice away from falling once again; but Christ’s grace is sufficient for me. I do not need to fear temptation or Satan. All I want now is to worship Jesus because He has freed me and justified me before the Father. He is my advocate and I am His child. I can come boldly before His throne and I can look to Him for strength. This is who I am. I have nothing to hide because Jesus has forgiven me of everything, and it is only because of His grace and strength that I can walk in victory today.

Jesus, I am grateful.

This is my story, my song. I hope that anyone reading this who struggles with sin in any way, will realize that they are not alone. I hope they will see that Jesus can save them and redeem them.

If you want peace with God—if you want freedom from sin, if you want the light of Christ in your life, if you want strength to walk through any trial—you must surrender to Jesus. Jesus wants to help you, because He loves you.

Half of surrender is realizing that without Jesus we are monsters but with Him we are weak sheep that need protecting and guiding. (And with Jesus protecting us, we are strong and safe.) The other half is just letting go of whatever is keeping us from worshiping Jesus.

We can either continue in what our flesh says is good or we can surrender to Jesus and His love. We can either worship Satan or we can worship Jesus. There are no other options. When we worship Satan, we become monsters; but when we surrender to Jesus and worship before His throne, we become His precious sheep—His beloved children.

I want to be a sheep, not a monster. What about you?

The avoidance of this topic bothers me. The fact that we act surprised when people confess to struggling with this issue, really bothers me. Anyone who is remotely engaged in western culture and knows anything about human nature should not be surprised. Look all around us. Immorality is everywhere. Let’s not close our eyes to it, let’s not plug our ears! Apart from Jesus Christ that is you, that is me. It’s in our neighborhoods, it’s in our governments, and it’s in our families and churches.

Struggles with sin cannot be legislated out of us. They cannot be pulled, pushed, or shoved out of our lives. We are who we are and we are completely unable to change. Do we get it? We or anyone else cannot change us. So let’s quit trying.

Enter Jesus Christ.

For our sin the just Father demands a payment [retribution]. Our sentence is eternity in hell. We cannot escape it; we cannot pay it off any other way. Yet, God loves us tremendously. So He became a human and lived a perfect life, therefore He had no sentence to hell. Having lived a perfect life He then offered His life as payment to the just Father. He shed His blood and paid hell for each of us. But God being pleased with the payment raised Jesus (the God-Man) up from the dead and set Him at His right hand in Heaven. We now have no sentencing. God is satisfied; we are justified. Jesus now invites us to relate directly with the Father because the Father no longer demands payment from us. All we have to do is surrender and say “Yes, Jesus, yes! I accept you as the payment for my own sin. I am at your mercy! I worship you! I am yours forever. Yes, Lord, I say yes!”

This is the Gospel. This is the power of salvation [from pornography, bitterness, rebellion, pride, and from every bondage of Satan].

One day, because Jesus has done all this for us, we are going to stand before God’s throne and out of perfect, eternal gratitude we will throw ourselves before the throne, caste our crowns [our rewards] at Christ’s feet and cry “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” (Revelation 5:12).

So what will it be, my friend? Is your temporary pleasure really worth what Jesus can give you eternally? I pray that you will surrender and abandon your earthly life, at the cross.

C.D.

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A New Song

Silence filled the universe. Earth rotated slowly, flying around the sun with the moon; the stars whirled through space, shining brilliantly; and the asteroids dodged here and there: but all was silent.

Even Heaven was silent. The usual shouts of joy and praise for the Almighty that could be heard coming from the dwelling place of God were not heard at the moment.

All eyes were transfixed on the earth. Something was happening.

Earth. So much had happened upon its surfaces since God created the place. God remembered the lovely Garden, where He had perfect relationship with Adam and with Eve. Those were wonderful times; even the Almighty, who was far above His creations, cherished the memory.

But the good time was short. Man rebelled and brought the curse upon all of creation. Generation after generation turned their faces against the Almighty and wandered after their own thoughts and desires. God remembered the frustration that He felt when the Israelites—His chosen people—began worshiping fake gods of wood, silver, and gold. He knew that what they truly longed for could only be found in Himself. He sent prophet after prophet to tell them this, but they only murdered one after the other, and plugged their ears. They did not even attempt to see if what the Almighty said was true.

The humans deserved to die as a penalty for their crimes against God, but He wanted to save them from their penalty of death. So the Almighty had a plan. From the very beginning of the curse, God knew what He would do. The humans did not understand when He sent a flood, but saved them; or when they were slaves, but He freed them. They did not understand the countless times that nations and armies rose up to destroy the People of God, and He defended them by His own might. After all of this, even the people whom the Almighty had specifically chosen to lead the world in righteousness had spurned the loving God. They were blind, very blind. But God wanted the humans to know Him–He wanted them to have peace, which truly only comes from Him. Therefore, the Almighty went to them Himself. He took on the form of their own sinful flesh and demonstrated to them what it meant to commune perfectly with the Father-God. He, the Almighy-in-Flesh, dwelt among them and lived perfectly. He showed them that He was the only Way to peace and the only Truth of Life. And then, since the humans were fallen and completely helpless to save themselves from their own filth, He—the Almighty-in-Flesh—died for them.

And silence filled the universe.

The Almighty-in-Flesh had died. Wicked man had brutally murdered Him and spilled His blood all over their hands.

The earth rotated once.

God’s followers ran and hid from the evil humans: it seemed Evil had triumphed.

The earth rotated twice.

Creation groaned under the curse: its only Hope for restoration had died.

But on the third day a breeze shook space as if Heaven had gasped and a light came forth upon the earth. Everything stopped: the earth, the moon, the stars, the asteroids—even the sun stopped rotating for a moment. But then…

All of creation burst into full song, praising the Almighty with everything they had inside them! The stars whirled through space as fast as they could, letting forth brilliant light and rhythmic sounds because the Almighty had risen! He was alive! Asteroids pounded the planets, and dogs barked; fish swam and birds flew. Evil had not won, but had been conquered! The mountains shook with wonder, and the forests trembled with praise. The oceans roared and the whales turned and splashed and made noises to their Creator. Heaven resumed its music with even greater shouts of joy and louder praises of God’s holiness! Sin would never have to reign over man again; the Almighty had conquered it for all humanity, for He had become human and He had won. Man could worship Him again. God could commune with Adam and with Eve once more. And nobody heard the distant scream of Hell’s defeat because new praises of God resounded from the earth, and the heavens were filled with new songs to the Almighty.

And some day, everything will come together with a clap. The curse will reverse. The generations will sing with adoration. Loved ones will be united. Joy–unadulterated joy–will be restored. And God will dwell with men.

“O sing to the Lord a new song,
For He has done wonderful things,
His right hand and His holy arm have gained the victory for Him.
The Lord has made known His salvation;
He has revealed His righteousness in the sight of the nations.
He has remembered His loving kindness and His faithfulness to the house of Israel;
All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.

Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth;
Break forth and sing for joy and sing praises.

Sing praises to the Lord with the lyre,
With the lyre and the sound of melody.
With trumpets and the sound of the horn
Shout joyfully before the King, the Lord.

Let the sea roar and all it contains,
The world and those who dwell in it.

Let the rivers clap their hands,
Let the mountains sing together for joy

Before the Lord, for He is coming to judge the earth;
He will judge the world with righteousness
And the peoples with equity.”

– Psalm 98

C.D.

Redeemed

It would probably be helpful to read Fallen: the Gospel part 2 before reading this post
A Biblical Fiction: the Gospel part 2

Call me Abahu, the teller of His story. We have heard of how the original parents of the world Tavi rebelled against the Creator and His commands by choosing to listen to the deception of Nahor, the greatest of all deceivers, by way of the shrewd Serpent.

This story starts many years after Avda and Martha tasted the death they brought into the world. When this story took place, the world of unknown possibilities had gone through dramatic change. After Avda and Martha lived and died, the world became very evil, the Devilish race of Draucthana arose—a hideous race of humans and demons—who walked about the land as powerful giants. Finally, grieved that He had ever created man, God sent a flood to destroy Tavi and start anew, annihilating all but eight of the humans—the only righteous people left. But our new story takes place even long after the flood, in a city called: Bustan.

Bustan was a thriving city filled with hustle and bustle during the day, and the wickedness of man at night. Very sophisticated and advanced, the people of Bustan were content. In the city lived a prominent man named Kushi, who had three sons: Addei, Igal, and Paz. Now Kushi was one who yet feared the Great One, but only Igal, of His sons, worshipped the Creator.

This is a story about Igal.

Igal mingled among his peers at the city gates discussing the latest news of the great city Bustan. Bustan was at war with its rival, Ranan, a powerful city which controlled the southwestern lands. The two cities stood within a hundred miles of each other and constantly fell into battle. The men gathered at the gate had just received news that the Rananian army was within sight from the city, and many of the younger men were rushing to the battlements to see for themselves.

“O Great One, deliver us!” Igal prayed inwardly as he made his way to the battlement.

With sword at his side and hair cut half the length of his neck, Igal stood out among his peers as a brave warrior and one to be respected. He told no lies and listened to no lies. Most of all, he was known for his reverence for the Creator.

As he gazed out into the long stretch of mostly desert land, he could see far away a hue on the southern horizon. It looked like a sandstorm but Igal knew what it was: the mighty Rananian army.

The Bustanites were known for their skill in battle, but the Rananians were known for their mighty men and weaponry. If the Rananians approached within ten miles of the city, it would no doubt be conquered, pillaged, and burned. The tensions were high in the city, at the rate the Rananian army was moving, the Bustanian army had twenty-four hours to execute their plans. Igal knew that the Great One would protect him whether Bustan fell or not, but he could not shake the feeling that the Great One would have mercy upon his city.

Indeed, twenty-four hours passed, and the Bustanites completely destroyed the Rananian army and continued on to the small fortress city of Yogel, half-way between the two power cities. The elders of Bustan expected this victory would secure another five years of peace for their city and its outer villages, while Ranan recovered.

The atmosphere of the city changed over night. Everyone, even the children, came out into the streets and danced and celebrated long into the night. But Igal, his wife, and their servants remained inside their home praising the Great One for safety. Igal knew that the next several days, inside the city would be unsafe, for a completely different reason than before. The men of Bustan were not holy by any definition. Yet, the city was protected and Igal had a promising future ahead of him as a Bustanite leader. However, it was a future he was not to have.

“Igal! Come out! Come out from among these people, away from your father and brothers. Take your entire household and go to the land I, the Lord, will show you.”

Against the reasoning of the men in the city, Igal obeyed the voice of the Lord and left his father’s family, taking only his household and his nephew’s household with him.

He set out not knowing where to go, but waiting for the Great One to tell him in time. He lived a life as a wanderer relying on the Great One’s promise to make him a man with many descendants, despite Igal and his wife having no children.

“Igal, do you see the many stars I have made?” said the Creator. “I tell you, your children will be as numerous as these. The number of your descendants will compare to even the sand which you cannot count.”

Igal journeyed on throughout the land from north to south, even visiting the city Ranan, until one day three men visited him. They told him that in one year from that day Igal’s wife, Bithiah, would give birth to a son. But Bithiah only laughed because she and Igal were by now both over ninety years old.

True to His word, the Great One gave them a baby boy whom they named: Chaziel. He grew to be the second of three great ancestor’s of a large nation who were specially chosen by the Great One to proclaim His name unto the peoples of the earth.

Igal loved his special child, dearly: he had hung all his hopes—had given up so much—for the promise of Chaziel. Once when the boy was very young, Igal took him along to visit the shepherds. While Igal inspected the sheep, the boy wandered off up a hill out of sight. Igal did not realize his beloved son was missing until he heard the sound of a boy screaming and an animal growling up on the crest of the hill. The father immediately dashed away toward the sound and found Chaziel hiding in a thick bush while the wolf growled and paced back and forth, waiting for its prey to surrender. Shouting with all his might, Igal charged at the beast and tackled it to the ground before it even knew what was happening. With his dagger, Igal slit the wolf’s throat, but not before he had acquired several deep gashes from the claws and teeth of the beast. But the father hardly noticed the pain—he had saved his beloved child.

One day the Creator asked Igal to kill the child. The request devastated Igal, but how could he defy the Great One? In faith, he set out for the mountain appointed, ready for a holy sacrifice.

“What will we sacrifice today, Father?” asked the young boy.

“Son, the Lord will provide a sacrifice for us,” said the father in faith.

When they reached the top of the mountain, Igal proceeded to bind Chaziel and placed him on the altar. All of a sudden, there was a great flash and a great voice shouted: “Stop Igal, Man of Faith! Now I know that you love me more than anything on the earth because you did not withhold even your most beloved son from me!” And Igal saw caught in the bushes a helpless lamb, which he used as a sacrifice in place of Chaziel’s life.

Igal went on to live a life of extreme faith, and the Great One never failed him. The Great One provided that lamb which serves as a symbol for His great plan to undo what was done in the Garden. With hope ends the story of Igal the father of the Redeemed.

THE END

C.D.

Fallen

A Biblical Fiction: the Gospel part 1

My name is Abahu, and the Master is my Father. So you want a story, do you? If you let me, I will take you away to a world of unknown possibilities—but be careful! My Father has enemies who wish to destroy you and me. But I am His son, and He is a King with unknown power. I will tell you, His story.

The world I will take you to is an old world. Many ages have come and gone since its beginning, but it started out quite simply. Well, kind of, my Father created it simply perfect. He spent days perfecting the world, making all kinds of varieties of animals and trees, fish and birds, mountains and rivers, and with one grand finale He made men—His most prized creation. His masterpiece, as it were, and He loved it. He loved everything, and called the world Tavi. To you and I it would have looked very strange, but remember now, He is a King of unfathomable power, and therefore His world had unfathomable possibilities. He placed His masterpiece in a special garden He had created for them, and gave them one rule. You see, He wanted to test their love. Can you imagine being a creature that had no choice but to love their creator? Where is the romance in that? Where is the commitment? If my Father had simply placed them there with no restrictions, there would be no story!

My Father loved this first couple; He took countless strolls in the Garden with them, but one of my Father’s highest ranked servants grew jealous. He revolted against the Creator and filled the Heavens with his pride. Since my Father is a justly jealous God, He can share His glory with none other because none other deserves His glory. The humans were most satisfied when they dwelt in His glory, and He was not about to give it away. My Father banished His servant and a third of the angels that had followed in the jealousy. They fell from Heaven to the new world.

Now this highly ranked servant, whose name was Nahor, was cursed to roam back and forth upon Tavi. One day, the lady human, Martha, was walking through the Garden with her husband, Avda. Being the newest creation she was naturally curious and full of talk—a trait well kept among the more fine featured of her descendants.

“Husband,” said the lady, “where is the Master today?”

“He has not yet come, my Love,” replied the man. “But He is watching from afar, as usual.”

“Let us walk down this path,” she suggested when they had come to a junction.

“Dearest Martha, flesh of my flesh,” replied her husband, “you know that path leads to the center of the Garden, where stands the one thing we must not partake of. Let us keep walking upon this path which leads to the most delicious of our Father’s tree, called Life.”

“O, husband, how could we ever disobey our Father? Of course we will not do that one thing He commanded against! But there are many other lovely things in that area that are fair to look upon!”

“And none fairer than you, my love. Very well, let us go and look upon that which He hath made.”

And so they went taking the path which led to the center of the Garden fully conscious of the presence of that thing which was restricted of them to partake of. But the unsuspecting humans knew not that Nahor was there, the great deceiver, newly cast out of Heaven, full of hate for that which still obeyed and loved the Master. He indwelt the slithery serpent, wisest of all creatures, in order to disguise himself. Understand that it was not unusual for the humans to have interaction and conversation with the creatures my Father had made. After all, the possibilities of that world are unknown to us.

My Father had told the humans not to eat a certain fruit. He gave no explanation, and they did not need one. They had plenty of fruit to eat, their favorite being that which grows on the tree called Life.

“Hello there!” said the serpent from the tree.

“Well hello darling!” cried Martha. She was fascinated by the shrewd serpents and loved conversing with them since they were so intelligent.

“Are you coming to eat from this center tree?”

“Of course not, what ever made you think that? The Master said not to even touch it! Far be it from us or you to disobey the Master!” she scolded the serpent.

“But don’t you know that this fruit will open your eyes to the truth. You will be as the Master Himself!”

Martha hesitated, surprised at the unusual behavior of the serpent, “But God said that if we eat this fruit, we will die right away.”

“Oh, you won’t die. God knows what the fruit can do for you! He is keeping you from eating it, but it is ever so delicious!”

Martha eyed the tree suspiciously. It did look beautiful and she could smell the sweet aroma wafting toward her from the tree. She thought of the wisdom of the serpent, and how he said it would make her know things that God knew. She reached for the tree and plucked a fruit, just to have a closer look, she told herself. The lady lifted the fruit to her nose and smelled it. Oh, it smelled so pleasing. She looked at it, her heart thumping.

Avda was silent.

She brought the apple to her mouth and before she knew what she was doing, took a bite.

It was as if time came to a halt, as if the new stars my Father had made quit swirling through the heavens; one could almost hear the turning of the planets upon their axis.

Martha smiled, a thrill of excitement flashing through her whole body. She gave the fruit to Avda, who took it and pondered something before he too, ate the fruit.

Immediately shame filled the man and woman, and they fled. They ran from that place with hearts full of guilt. They knew that somehow everything would be different.

Something else had changed outwardly, as well. They realized their nakedness. They had always been naked but never before had they the guilt to shame them for their nakedness. Not knowing exactly why, they were driven to cover up by sewing fig leaves together.

Grief and shame weld up in their hearts. They became angry with each other and squabbled like school children, when suddenly they heard a voice. A voice which they vaguely recognized as God’s, but now seemed much different—they did not know how different.

“Avda! Where are you?”

Immediately they hid. What did they hide from? They hid from the Master, expecting Him to be angry. Expecting Him to come down with a great shout and cast them away as He had done to Nahor. Of course they realized now that it had been Nahor that deceived them through the serpent.

“Where are you, Avda?” he called.

“I heard your voice calling and I hid myself because I was naked,” Avda replied.

“Naked? Who told you that you were naked?” the Creator asked. “Did you eat the fruit which I forbade you to eat?”

“Martha, that woman you gave me, she made me eat it! It wasn’t my fault!”

“Avda!” God scolded solemnly.

Turning to the woman the Master asked, “What have you done, Martha?”

But she replied, “The serpent tricked me and I ate it!”

God then cursed the serpent saying, “Because of what you did, you are cursed above all the creatures I have made and shall be restricted to slither upon your belly, made to eat dust—you and your descendants. No longer will there be good relations between you and the woman’s seed, and her Child shall tread upon you, and you shall strike His heel.

“And you, woman, will have excruciating pain through childbirth and shall long for your husband, and He will be your master.”

But to Avda He said, “The ground is cursed because you listened to your wife and ate the fruit, which I had commanded you not to eat; you will toil all the days of your life to grow food, because thorns and weeds will trouble your efforts and make you sweat and bleed in order to provide for your family. In the end you will die and because I made you out of dust, to the dust you will return.”

Then my Father caste the humans out of the Garden and sent a mighty warrior angel to guard its entrance.

So ends the story of the origin of the humans of Tavi, a wretched story, one of broken love and fellowship. This is not just a fictional story; it is, for the most part, a true story, the original of which can be found in the Great Book of God. But it does not completely end here. It continues on to be the greatest story ever told: a story of how God reaches down—well, you will just have to wait and read it some other time.

THE END

C.D.

To Die Is Gain

“For to me to live is Christ, to die is gain.” NKJV

“For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better.” NLT

Philippians 1:21

I wonder how many times I have said that. And if I have, did I really mean it? Would I really find it a gain to die? I know in my heart that it is, but when it came down to it–would I really rather die–for Christ, mind you–then to live? (I would not want to die for anything but Christ..which might include dying to save another.)

And do I really live as Christ? I really have to compare myself to this verse sometimes. I have great admiration for Paul. Because, half the time, I think I end up living as myself, and to die is loss.

I have been reading out of the Martyrs Mirror (also titled Bloody Theater), about how each of the apostles, and people shortly after Jesus’s crucifixion, were persecuted, and eventually martyred. (And these stories are only a fraction of the book, there are hundreds of stories–or at least it seems so. It is about as thick as two and a half Bibles.)

Anyways, it has really challenged me.

These men were devoted to the faith. At least three of the apostles crucified, one of which was Peter who requested to be crucified upside down because he did not deem himself worthy to die like Christ. (His crucifiers were happy to oblige him of course, because it would increase the pain.)

And Andrew, Peters brother, was crucified in a different fashion than Jesus or Peter. (See picture below.) But he was not nailed to the cross, but rather, tied to it, and he hung there for three days instructing the people around him.

(See pictures below for third apostle crucified.)

And of course we all know what happened to Paul, and it is no less significant than any of the others–he was beheaded. James the greater was martyred in the same fashion.

Mark, or John, also John Mark, was “dragged out of the congregation, through the streets  and out of the city; so that his flesh everywhere adhered to the stones, and his blood was poured out upon the earth, until he, with the last words of our Saviour, committed his spirit into the hand of the Lord, and expired.” Martyrs Mirror, page 78.

Christians in general were not martyred by any less cruel ways. Many had pitch and such substances poured on them, then tied to stacks and used as torches! And that is only one way in which Nero persecuted them.

James the lesser was thrown off the top of a building and then stoned. And as he was being stoned (for the fall had only broken his legs) he prayed the words of Jesus as he was dying. “Lord, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” Hearing this a priest called out for the stoning to stop saying, “What do ye? the Just is praying for us. leave off the stoning!” But someone took a club and hit James over the head with it, killing him. (See page 75 of the Martyrs Mirror.)

And of course, Stephen was stoned to death, which is also no little way to die.

Luke the evangelist, and physician, was hung by the neck on a tree.

(And there are still hundreds of later martyrs and other apostles whom I have not the time to write of. Plus more that were never recorded.)

All these men, died for He who first died. They followed His footsteps to the very end. Some not only followed His footsteps, but spoke His words.

Even today there are persecuted men and women.

And yet I sit here in comfy America.

“..to live is Christ, to die is gain.”

C.D.