Let’s Talk About Music

“Sing for joy in the Lord, O you righteous ones; praise is becoming to the upright. Give thanks to the Lord with the lyre; sing praises to Him with a harp of ten strings. Sing to Him a new song; play skillfully with a shout of joy, for the word of the Lord is upright, and all His work is done in faithfulness. He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the loving kindness of the Lord.” – Psalm 33:1-5

Let’s talk about music! Music is a wonderful art. Nothing speaks quite as deeply to one’s emotions as music does—especially if accompanied with poetry. Music transcends many arts in that it affects not only your soul, but your body and spirit as well. Because it is so intimate, I believe that Christians—especially young people—should be serious in their approach to music and truly seek God in this area of their lives. This may be hard, but, well, since when has that stopped us?

I do not completely know how to approach this subject because I am not exactly sure where you, my audience, stand on this issue. In some Christian circles this is a really sensitive issue, but in others it is a topic from the ‘90s. There is a huge spectrum of musical beliefs and opinions among Christians. Some people believe that anything musical is acceptable, others believe that a cappella is the only way to worship God through music. Honestly, I have rarely participated in a conversation about music that was actually beneficial or uplifting. Therefore, I do not write this in order to give my opinion or assert my own personal belief. Rather, I wish to give some suggestions to keep in mind as YOU formulate YOUR beliefs. These suggestions are mostly an assortment of tools others have handed to me which I find beneficial in my current musical processing, and I would like to hand them to you.

If we’re not careful we can easily fall into the “ditches” on either end of the spectrum. But God does not call us to get stuck in ditches; He calls us to walk with Him on the road. Again, I’m not here to define where the ditches begin and end, or show exactly where we should be on the spectrum. Rather, I’m here to provoke our thoughts and, I hope, arouse meaningful conversation. Many of you will come to a completely different conclusion than I would after applying these tools, but my desire is that you really be thoughtful and spiritually discerning in your musical choices.

Read more:

Let’s Talk About Music.

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Quit Being So Negative!

How do you view God? Do you see Him as hard to please?

Consider this statement for a moment: You fall short of God’s grace and love and there is absolutely no way for you to ever please Him.

Sounds Biblical right? But how do you respond? Are you drawn to God? Does it quicken your heart to respond in repentance? Maybe. But most likely you feel discouraged. A subtle, subconscious feeling of hopelessness enters in and negative thinking is introduced into your mind.

The problem is that yes, the above statement is true, but only partially. You DO fall short of God’s grace and love—but He extends it ANYWAYS. There IS absolutely no way for you to ever please God ON YOUR OWN STRENGTH. God finds much pleasure in you when the blood of Jesus Christ has COMPLETELY cleansed you of anything that would displease God.

So when these thoughts run through our minds, we slowly become discouraged and lose interest in God. We see daily just how much we fall short. We feel condemned, fearful, and hopeless. And we either give up, or start living out of a drive to please God.

God does not operate through negativity. SO STOP IT! Just stop.

The King came to His enemies, not to condemn, but to LOVE. In response to His love and KINDNESS, we, His enemies, forsake our old lives and become His friends. Once we are His friends, He makes us His very own children. And as His children, we are given power, bravery, endless access to His throne, and UNCONDITIONAL LOVE.

Fear, doubt, and condemnation are not of God’s kingdom so STOP allowing them to reign in your mind. You have the freedom to do this. Christ has given you permission to quit thinking negatively about yourself and others.

Jesus cares for you. Give HIM your fear, doubt, condemnation, lust, pride, unforgiveness, and all your negativity. You were lost and deserve God’s wrath, but Christ took that upon Himself. He has found and freed you. Think on THAT! Rejoice. You are free to rejoice! Get rid of whatever is keeping you from joy, trust God AND REJOICE!

When I allow this truth to reign in my heart, I am DRAWN to Christ: I am drawn to pray and to read His word; to love and serve Him.

“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” – Philippians 4:8

“For God did not send the Son into the world to judge [condemn] the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” – John 3:17

[The sinner] said, “No one [condemns me], Lord.” And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more.” –John 8:11

“Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” – Romans 8:1

“We love [Him], because He first loved us.” – 1 John 4:19

C.D.

When Life’s Hard… Breathe In

WHEN LIFE’S HARD… BREATHE IN

“Take a deep breath in. Now breathe out. God is active in your life. Breathe in, again; breathe out. God is active in your life. Breathe in, breathe out. God is active.

Every single breath that you breathe is a gift from God — a deliberate act of God’s will to give you yet one more breath of life, and another, and another.

God is not done with you.

Look all around you. There is life! Look up at the sky, marvel at the mountains, admire the trees—see the people? There are so many people! People with their marvelous relationships: there’s the stability of childhood “besties” and college buddies and the complexity of guy-girl relations. There’s children and elderly. There’s black and there’s white. Some people live in dry deserts; others live in swamps and rainforests, or in cold tundras. There’s life, and beauty — diversity and unity. And it’s all good! And all good things come from God. Every single pure pleasure, worthy word, and splendid sunrise comes straight from the heart of God.”

Keep Reading: http://bit.ly/19KN3f6

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.

Hope

“How do you pick up the threads of an old life? How do you go on, when in your heart, you begin to understand, there is no going back? There are some things that time cannot mend. Some hurts that go too deep. . .that have taken hold.”

- J.R.R. Tolkien

Where are the words? How does one express the experience of such tragedy? Oh, where are the words?

This is not a normal blog post.

How does one write about death? I love writing, but how can I write at such a time as this? I have lost my mother. She was one of my biggest cheerleaders, always encouraging me. She loved to watch me live out (or write out) my passion. So how can I write when every word reminds me of my loss–of the empty hole in my heart?

But how can I not write? God has been so good to me!

“I will exult in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength, and He has made my feet like hinds’ feet, and makes me walk on my high places.”

- Habakkuk 3:18-19

“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the defense of my life; whom shall I dread?”

- Psalm 27:1

I plan to write about the accident, in the future, but I think most people understand what happened. It is a very hard task to put into writing such an experience. How does one describe the feeling of waking up totally confused–having nothing make sense. Everything feels, sounds, and smells real yet the situation is very foreign. How can I tell you what it is like to see your precious mother unconscious and moaning, with blood in her hair? Is it possible to write out such an experience when it brings so much pain?

Yes, because God’s grace is sufficient for me, no matter what the situation is.

So, someday I plan to write it all out–to relive the pain of that day and week so that I can process it apart from the shock. Until then, I would love to write about what gives me hope, because in the end that is what is important.

I would assume that when watching our family (or any Christian family in a similar situation) people could either conclude that we are a very emotionally strong, or a very emotionally cold family.

We are neither.

Our mother just died, the thought alone used to give me nightmares as a child. The strength that you may see in us comes directly from the Spirit of Jesus Christ living in us. There is pain, there is heartache at such times as this, but because of Christ, there is also an awesome peace. I guess it is that grace of His that we talk about.

No, there is nothing special about the Witmer family. The same grace can and will be given to all “who confess Jesus Christ as Lord and believe in their heart that God hath raised Him from the dead.”

Along with the peace of Jesus, comes the Hope of Glory.

Ever since I heard that Mom died, Heaven became extremely close to me. (Do not be fooled, not everyone who experiences grief “feels” this way. Everyone is on a separate journey.) The book of Revelation has come alive like never before. I have always written off Revelation as an end-of-times book (which it really is). To be honest, I was often turned off by Revelation because most of the time when people talk about the book it leaves a sour “taste” in my mind. Now I wonder if it was not written more to give a glorious glimpse into the Heavenlies. Imagine that. Was it not written for our hope? Don’t let me start ranting about prophecy. . .

The pictures of Heaven that the Bible describes (especially Revelation) is what keeps me from “mourning as the world mourns.” In fact, it almost makes me excited for Mom, not sad.

Sometime, read Revelation as comprehensively, yet as fast as you can; and forget the prophetic interpretation, just read the words. Picture it in your mind, act it out, write it down, draw it out–do whatever you need to in order to grasp what John is desperately trying to describe.

When you understand Scripture in its purity and lose the “religious baggage” that so often accompanies it, the words become simple and alive–and relevant. Truth connects with the heart.

When describing the surroundings of  the Great White Throne of God, John paints an awesome picture:

The Holy One, the Beginning and the End through whom everything exists, sitting on the throne is described in terms of beautiful stones, and around the throne is an emerald looking rainbow. (Mom loved rainbows.)

Colorful, precious, and promising Beauty.

All around the throne sit twenty-four elders, clothed in white garments and golden crowns, each on a throne. From the throne comes flashes of lightning and sounds of thunder and before the throne is a sea of crystal clear glass.

Honored, majestic, wealthy, and noisy Power.

But the most awesome thing of all is the four strange beasts. One like a lion, one like a calf, one with a manlike face, and one like a flying eagle–each with six wings. All of them completely covered with eyes. Strange much? Very.

They surround the throne and never ever cease from saying (probably as loud as they can):

“HOLY, HOLY, HOLY is the Lord God the Almighty, who was and who is and who is to come!”

When these beasts do this, the twenty-four elders fall down before the Holy One, casting their crowns before His throne saying (probably also very loudly):

“Worthy art Thou, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for Thou didst create all things, and because of Thy will they existed, and were created.”

I am not a Bible scholar, but if this is what God’s throne room looks like, even now–if this is where Mom is–if this is what I am made for–than I can be filled with much hope.

Later, John talks about Jesus having a vast army all dressed in white. I cannot shake the picture of Mom beautifully dressed in white worshiping the Almighty, the High One, Who is so holy that lightning flashes and thunder resonates from His throne; so awesome that even strange beasts are obsessed with worshiping Him “day and night.”

If Mom is experiencing the presence and love of such an awesome God, how can I mourn for her?

In chapter 21 of Revelation, John describes New Jerusalem, the “bride of the Lamb.” He tells about how there is a new heaven and a new earth and how Jerusalem was coming down from the a fore described throne as a bride adorned for her husband (Jesus). He says Jerusalem came down out of heaven “having the glory of God.”

[Am I that sort of bride to Christ? By His grace, I will be adorned with the glory of God.]

As Jerusalem descends, a great voice from the throne says,

“Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He shall dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be among them, and He shall wipe away ever tear from their eyes; and there shall no longer be any death; there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”

Amazing is it not? The Holy God who receives all the praises from the universe (see Psalm 69:34) wants to live among man? The Holy Almighty will wipe away my tears? Death, sadness, pain, and crying will no longer be in existence? If this is true, how can earth have hold on me any longer?

I want to know this God! I want to love this God! I want to serve this God! He is so huge, He does not need me, but He says that He’s preparing a place for me.

In light of all this, how can I not have peace? How can I not have joy? Why would I ever go back to the simple ways of the world? When the God that is described in Revelation is trying to make contact with me and have fellowship with me, why would I ever return to the shallow food my flesh offers me?

Yet I do. I still do.

“God forgive me. Forgive me for my temporal mindset. Help me to keep my eyes fixed on You–on eternity.”

This is what feeds my joy. This is what brings pleasure. There is only one way to make things grow, and that is to feed them. If you want the things of Jesus (His peace, joy, and comfort) to grow in your life, than you have got to feed on Jesus. He died so that you may have life. The Almighty who sits on the throne, which radiates lightning and thunder, died for your soul. Will you take that for granted?

“Thank you God for life, for salvation, for your love. Thank you for death and the eternal glorification it brings. Thank you for your holy self and your holy son. May we know you better. Thank you for dying for our sins, give us faith to believe. Keep us from distractions. And thank you God, for teaching us through the normal life and surprising death of Mom, Rachel Hope Witmer.

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.

Exercising the Spirit

I love to exercise! I love the invigorating feeling of complete relaxation after an exhausting bike ride, or jog. I love the feeling of burning muscle after I benched more than I am used to. I love exercise. There is nothing that feels so good as taking a shower, after you worked hard all day–or played a strenuous sport, and then just sitting down in a comfortable chair and just chill-axing.

I hate exercise. I hate the complete exhaustion of a bike ride. The completely wiped-out feeling of a hard basketball game. The last push-up that I can barely do. I hate nothing less then exercise.

Now you are probably thoroughly confused. I am sure you are thinking, “Well, does he like exercise or not?”

But you know what the difference between the two last scenarios is? I love exercise after I have done it. I hate it during the intense moment, the last push-up or the longest hill on my bike ride. I hate pain. We all do. I hate stress. We all do. But afterwords, I LOVE it. I just love it. My muscles begin to relax, and the feeling is splendid. It makes me go, “Ah!” It refreshes me for the rest of the day, and, in fact, many times, it gets me ready to serve God. I do not know if it is the exercise itself, or the relaxing feeling afterword, or both, but in any case it exhilarates me for God.

I guess maybe it de-stresses me and therefore I can serve God better. I must admit, I do not always want to serve God, but after a good workout and a shower maybe, I am ready to face the trials. It helps that while I am exercising that it is one of my only, alone times with God. I can pray, sing, memorize, etc. etc.

Now, the reason I say all this is, not to discourage anybody who does not enjoy exercise, but to compare it to spiritual exercise.

And remember, spiritual exercise is better than physical . . . 1 Timothy 4:8

“For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.”

I find that reading my Bible everyday is very similar to say, jogging/biking.

It is definitely not the first thing that comes to my mind when I wake up…at least not most of the time–there are a few days now and then that I think “Ah, I shall go read my Bible first thing.”

Now don’t get me wrong, I am not this high pious preacher’s boy. But then again, what is wrong with being spiritual?–Of course, if ‘spiritual’ is defined by, reading your Bible everyday and sharing deep holy thoughts, than I am far from spiritual.

BUT, if spiritual is defined as needing to rely on my daily devotions with God, or striving to be holy as Christ was holy, and yet being very, very, far from perfect, or where I’d like to be, than yes, I am spiritual.

Anyways, back to reading the Bible being like exercise.

I do not always enjoy the reading of the Bible while I am reading it. I mean, come on, when’s the last time you read Isaiah? I don’t understand more than half of the book, and there are sixty-six chapters!

But usually after I have read the whole thing, or gotten through the intense verses that made my head spin, then I sit back and say, “Hey! That was a good passage!”

Or let’s take praying for example. Prayer is one thing that I actually enjoy sometimes. But then sometimes, I groan and say a short prayer. And usually, after a few short prayers, I begin to feel more encouraged and keep on praying. But that is only the conversational type of prayer—the type that I just talk to God about all my problems, and praise Him, and all that cool stuff.

But, oh my, I do not like the kind of prayer where I pray for missionaries over seas, or where this person as a certain problem or struggle. And you know what, that is the true spiritual exercise prayer. The other kind is like drinking water, where you feel refreshed. But praying for other people is the kind that takes real effort. And the kind Satan hates the most, because those people need special strength from God. Ohhh, my I cannot stress the importance of praying for missionaries, or for people who randomly pop up in your mind. Believe me, I know.

And then there is memorizing scripture. I DO NOT enjoy it, and yet I love it. I love the fact of knowing the verses, but I hate the process. This is the spiritual exercise that you can compare to benching, the hard, muscle-building exercise.

But there again, it feels great afterword. Just like exercise.

C.D.

Go, and Sin No More

*Haha, I just noticed that little flower beside the title!! Very ‘manly’ there. 😉 But that is okay cause I like the layout, and flowers are cool too. *

Just last night I read a very inspiring little story. One which condemned me, and also relieved me.

I am sure many of you are familiar with it. It takes place in John 8:1-11, which, in my Bible at least, it says that most ancient Greek manuscripts do not include this passage. (I have no clue what that is supposed to mean, but I would assume it means that there is doubt in its authenticity. But, like I said, I do not really have any idea what it means.)

In case you are not familiar with the passage, or need some refreshment of the memory, I will insert it below. If, by some rare chance, you have it memorized, or if you know it well enough, then feel free to skip the quote.

Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives, but early the next morning he was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them. As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd.“Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?”

They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust.

When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”

“No, Lord,” she said.

And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”

When I read this last phrase, it slapped me on the face. It made me perk right up. It registered in my brain. It hit me like an asteroid hitting a planet!

“Neither do I. Go and sin no more.” Is it really that simple?

Right away, I knew in my heart that it was God’s way of telling me, “Get up, keep going, it’s alright–go and sin no more!”

When I fail, and it seems like I do a lot, God can forgive me. When I do something wrong in God’s eyes, it is not the end of the world. I merely must repent, and he will tell me, “Go, sin no more!” It almost brings tears to my eyes to think about Jesus saying that to me.

It did not help that when I had first opened my Bible, it had opened right up to Proverbs 12, which starts out just splendidly, “To learn, you must love discipline; it is stupid to hate correction.” Oh, great! I am about to learn something here! Ook, well let us check it out–cautiously, of course.

“The Lord approves of those who are good,
but he condemns those who plan wickedness.”

Oh, ouch.

“Wickedness never brings stability,
but the godly have deep roots.”

Mmm, good advise.

“The plans of the godly are just;
the advice of the wicked is treacherous.”

Ugh, stab.

“The words of the wicked are like a murderous ambush,
but the words of the godly save lives.”

Huh, s’more good advice.

“The wicked die and disappear,
but the family of the godly stands firm.”

Where am I at, I wonder?

“A sensible person wins admiration,
but a warped mind is despised.”

Okay, let’s be sensible.

“Better to be an ordinary person with a servant
than to be self-important but have no food.”

Okay, sensible–but ordinary.

It would be rather long if I would put all the verses in here, so if you have an interest in reading them, see Proverbs 12

“The wicked are trapped by their own words,
but the godly escape such trouble.”

“Wise words bring many benefits,
and hard work brings rewards.”

“Fools think their own way is right,
but the wise listen to others.”

Ooo, another correction. I shall take it.

“A fool is quick-tempered,
but a wise person stays calm when insulted.”

OW!! Stop talking about me!

“An honest witness tells the truth;
a false witness tells lies.”

“Deceit fills hearts that are plotting evil;
joy fills hearts that are planning peace!”

Mmm…

“No harm comes to the godly,
but the wicked have their fill of trouble.”

Talk about making me feel so warm and fuzzy!!!

“The way of the godly leads to life;
that path does not lead to death.”

Whoever wrote this book was wise!! Good note to end on.

So now I am all down, feeling condemned, and needing to get back on the ‘way of the godly’.

Then I flip through my Bible some more, and it comes to the passage in John. And I am like, “Okay, looks interesting, I’ve read it before, let’s read it again.”

And then I read verses 10-11. ”

“Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”

“No, Lord,” she said.

And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”

My heart seriously skipped a bit. It was like, wowzers. God can really talk! He wisely let’s me read Proverbs, then brings me here. He breaks, and then repairs–correctly.

That little phrase is so powerful! -Neither do I condemn thee. Go, and sin no more- Precious words indeed.

“Neither do I condemn thee go and sin no more! Precious words divine…”

“Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me!”

Another lesson from the passage of John, is that of which the Pharisees received.

Who are we to judge? Are we not the same as the one we are judging?

“Let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!”

I don’t know about you guys, but I should be the first to receive the stone! Nobody is perfect, none of us is worthy to throw the first stone. Only God is. And the ‘problem’ with Him, is that He forgives–even my enemies. Not only the sinners I am stoning, but my enemies.

I can just picture it.

I’ve raised my hand to throw the stone, and Jesus walks up, stops my arm as I begin to throw, and says, “Here, let me have that.” But then he takes the stone and tosses it away, turns and lifts the condemned to his feet and says, “Go and sin no more.

C.D.

A Simple Story

Well, so, this is just a little story I thought I would share with all of you.

It is not a story of magnificence, nor one of life threatening situation. It is not a story with a hero or a villain. It is not a story set in another world.

It is a story set in another time, and another place. It is a story of God pulling through for a young lad.

It was not very important, but it was frustrating, for the young lad. You see, this young lad was about…mm, 9 or so. He grew up a PK.

What is a ‘PK’? It is a ‘Preacher’s Kid’, or a ‘Pastor’s Kid’. What is the significance of being a PK? Well, to tell the truth, it varies for every PK. Each has a different life. Some have hard, troubling lives. Others have easy, popular lives. And some, have middle lives, not to bad, not extremely swell. I think this particular PK could fall in all three of those categories.

Something you must remember before we go on. Every PK is, normal. They make mistakes too. They are human, in need of God’s grace.

Back to the story,

This lad not only grew up a PK, but he also grew up a CK, now a CK is less known. In fact, I do not think I have heard Ck ever used before, so I shall explain to you what a CK is.

A CK is a ‘Contractors Kid’ or, ‘Carpenters Kid’. And an interesting fact is, Jesus was also a CK. But like PK’s, CK’s are not perfect either.

This young lad of about 9 had a special Bible that his father had given to him when he was younger, about 7, I believe.

Now this Bible was very Important to–uh, Caleb, we shall call the lad Caleb. Caleb Dale Washington. Not only was the Bible special but the things inside were special. Now I know that the artifacts inside a Bible should not be more important then the Bible itself, though I am not saying they were, but you must understand that Caleb grew up in a country where you could just go buy another Bible at the local bookshop. We shall call Caleb’s local book shop Town Medicine, for you could also pick up medicine there. (The bookshop was not the only place to buy Bibles, there were many other places to buy Bibles, but we shall omit them for sake of time.) But, this bookshop does not pertain to the story I am telling.

As I was saying, this Bible was an all around important Bible, both because his father had given it to him, and because of the pictures and drawings he had inside it.

But one day, to the horror and astonishment of Caleb, the Bible disappeared!! What should he do? Caleb immediately shifted into search and rescue mode.

He looked all over his house, but he could not find this Bible–anywhere.

It was not long before Caleb became a very sad lad. His mother tried and tried to find the Bible, but it had disappeared. Vanished. Caleb tried to think very hard. “Where could of it gone to? Where did I lay it down?” He thought.

Over time, Caleb began to forget about his Bible. He stopped looking for it every time his family went to church, and Caleb became positively angry at God for taking away something so special. He tried to tell himself it was just a Bible and the things inside were, merely things….but, they were, merely..special, things.

Little did little Caleb know that God was teaching him many different lessons. He was teaching Caleb, Patience. He was also teaching Caleb that He [God] is more important then ‘things’.

Caleb would pray that his Bible would come back. But he never expected it to. He began to blame his poor brothers and sisters for ‘stealing’ it. But of course, they had not.

His mother would ask around at different churches when they would visit, to see if maybe Caleb had left it there on a prior visit, but it never was there.

And then one day, when Caleb was older his family decided they were going to move. Caleb did not want to. He did not want to leave his friends, but God was telling his family to move, to a far far away land.

So now they had to pack up and move. But before they could pack up, they had to sort through their boxes and sift out what they did not need.

And as they were working their way through the boxes in storage closets and such like, they came across a box that belonged to Caleb. What was inside it? he opened it up–and there were a few random odds and ends that he had to sort through and get rid of the stuff he did not want, or need.

But then, as he pulled out the things, his hand pulled out a green thick book. And there, in his hand was a–Bible. The Bible,  the one that had caused him so much turmoil! The one that God ‘supposedly’ had taken away unjustly.

So, this was one of God’s reasons for the move? He wanted to prove himself to Caleb. And it was not God’s fault, nor anyone else’s. The Bible had merely been misplaced. And how, when and who did it remains a mystery to this day. But it was an obvious mistake.

Caleb also found many other long lost possessions because of that move. And little did young Caleb know, but that move would change his life–forever. And a change, for the good.

C.D.