The Encounter

“Drink from your own well, my son—be faithful and true to your wife” – Proverbs 5:15

In all the years he had been married to Ashley, never once had he looked at another woman until that moment when he saw her leaning against the wall in the subway.  She was stunning and looked like a fashion model.  Other people were staring at her too but she seemed oblivious to them.

Although, his gut was warning him not to, he walked over to where she was and stood there, waiting for the train.  He had his head turned away from her as he looked down the tracks but he could feel her eyes on him.  Unable to resist, he glanced over his shoulder.  Their eyes met.  She smiled at him.  He had two choices, smile back or turn away.  He smiled back.  That was his mistake.  Leaving her position against the wall, she sauntered over to him, her gaze traveling slowly and deliberately over his tall frame.  He felt his body respond and his heart began to pound.  He turned around so that he was fully facing her, his eyes practically undressing her as she stood in front of him.

“Do you have the time?” she asked, her head cocked to one side, her eyes riveted to his face which felt hot.

He glanced at his watch.  “It’s a quarter to six,” he replied.  This close she was even more stunning.  Every instinct urged him to run but he stood there staring at her.

She smiled.  “Thank you.”

“Do you work around here?” he asked.  “I’ve never seen you before today.”

“Yes, I work around here.  I was on my way to the Mall to pick up a few items.  I’ve never seen you before either.  I would have remembered.”  Her eyes slipped over him again.  “You’re a fine looking man.  Too bad you’re married.”

He swallowed hard.  “Does that make a difference?” he asked.

“It might to your wife.”

“She doesn’t have to know.”

“She doesn’t have to know what?”

“That you and I are talking to each other.”

“Is that what we’re doing?”  She laughed.  “What’s your name?”

“Silas.”

“Well, Silas, do you want to buy me a Café Latte?  There’s a really great coffee bar near Bryant Park.  We can go there and figure out if talking is all that we want to do.”

Every nerve was screaming that he should say no and walk away but when the train thundered into the station, they got on together.  She stood in front of him, holding on to the overhead metal bar.  The car was crowded so he was standing really close to her.  He could smell her perfume.  It suited her.  Her body was inches from his and a couple of times, he bumped against her when the train stopped abruptly.  He couldn’t hide his reaction to her even if he wanted to.  By the time they got to the 42nd street subway, he knew that he was in big trouble.

They walked to Culture Espresso.  It was a pleasant afternoon, mild and sunny.  While he went to buy the Café Latte for her and a Mocha for himself, she went to find a table.  She found one by the window and was sitting with her back against the wall.  He sat down opposite her and set the Café Latte down in front of her.  “Thank you,” she said.

“You’re welcome,” he replied.  “You haven’t told me your name.”

“Aretha,” she said, holding out her hand.

He clasped it and blinked when heat coursed through his body at the feel of her slender fingers in his.  When he released her hand, he took a sip of his Mocha, his eyes trained on her.  This is madness, he thought.  He should be on his way home, not sitting here in a coffee bar with her.  For all he knew she could be in a relationship.  “Do you have a boyfriend?” he asked.

She shook her head.  “No.  I’m single, unlike you.”

He withdrew his left hand from the table and placed it on his thigh.  “Does my being married bother you?”

“Well, I’ve never been with a married man.  It complicates things.”

“So, after we finish our coffees, we part ways?”

“I didn’t say that.  Married or not, I want to do more than talk to you, if you know what I’m saying.  I live five minutes from here.  When we’re done here, we can go there.  It’s up to you.  You can walk away or you can come back to my place.”

Silas’s mind was reeling.  This was temptation in its purest and potent form.  Now he had an idea of how Joseph felt when he faced Potiphar’s wife or King David when he saw Bathsheba.  His mind was telling him to do what Joseph did and run but his body was telling him to do what David did.  He had a while to decide what he was going to do.

“So, what type of work do you do?” Aretha asked, breaking the silence.  “From the way you’re dressed, you look corporate.  Are you?”

“I’m a Software Engineering Manager.”

“You look a bit young to be a Manager.  How old are you?”

“Thirty-five.”

“Hmmm.  I’m forty.  So, do you like your job?”

“Yes, I like it very much.  And it doesn’t hurt that it pays very well.  What about you, what is your line of work?”

“I’m a Chief Executive.”

“When I first saw you, I thought you were a model.”

She laughed.  “I’m flattered.”

“You’re a very stunning woman, Aretha.”

“Thank you.  And you’re a very handsome man.  I’m not surprised that you’re already taken.”

“It didn’t stop you from approaching me in the subway.”

“I couldn’t resist.”

He slowly removed his cell from his pocket and dialed the number.  He listened to it ring out and then the answering machine kick in.  “Ashley, something has come up so I’ll be late getting home this evening.  See you later.”  He ended the call and slipped the phone back into his pocket.  He looked at Aretha.

“Are you sure about this?” she asked.

He nodded.

Aretha finished her Latte and got up.  “Let’s go, then.”

He drained his glass and rose to his feet.  He followed her out of the coffee bar.  The sun was beginning to set.  They didn’t say much as they walked to her place.  He was trying to ignore the Bible verses that popped into his head.  He was about to cheat on Ashley, something he never once imagined he would ever do but he couldn’t seem to help himself.  He wanted Aretha.  She aroused such a passion in him.  It was raw and powerful.  It gripped him like a vice, leading him down a path he never thought he would end up on.

He still had time to back out.  With every temptation, there was always the way of escape. Yet, he found himself walking right towards it with both eyes open.  He was throwing wisdom and caution to the winds.  His desire for her was luring him straight into a trap.  Maybe it was true that the only way to get rid of temptation was to yield to it.  Maybe all he needed was this one time with Aretha to get this “thing” for her out of his system and afterwards, they would part ways and never see each other again.

As soon as they got to Aretha’s place and she had locked the door behind them, he reached for her.  His mouth found hers and he devoured it like a mad man, driven by a hunger that couldn’t be held in check.  She kissed him back wildly.  In a matter of minutes, they were naked and making love on the rug in front of the hearth.

Unfortunately, their encounter that afternoon wasn’t their last.  It was the beginning of a long and torrid affair.

“Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” – Matthew 26:41

Sources: CNBC; Culture Expresso; Latte Art Guide; Eater New York; Brainy Quote

 

 

 

 

 

 

Good Luck or God

I have heard of Talisman before but couldn’t remember what it was until I searched its meaning on the Internet.  It is an object which people believe holds magical properties that bring good luck to the possessor, or that protect the possessor from evil or harm.  It can be wore around the neck or wrist.

Jewish amulets were made up of texts, using either letters or graphic symbols which were inscribed various types of materials such as plant matter or precious stones. The amulet was used to ease childbirth, facilitate recovery from illness and improve one’s livelihood.  It was also used to protect a mother and her newborn child from the dangers of Lilith, a female demon who was believed to pursue and kill mother and infant.   An example of the text found on a amulet used for this purpose is:

I command you, holy and pure angels Sanoi, Sansanoi, Semanglaf, Semanglon, to keep all spirits and demons and all evil misfortunes and all Liline and all Liltine away from this newly delivered mother and from this newborn babe; and from the day on which this amulet, on which are inscribed your names, will be placed in this house in which is to be found the newborn, from this day forward remove Lilith and all her followers and all her servants from this newborn and from this house to the farthest reaches. Let her and all the demons with her flee, that she and her followers may never be able to harm this child for ever and ever. 

And the amulet for childbirth would sometimes simply say, “Adam, Eve; Lilith out.”

Amulet to protect a woman and her newborn son, with invocations of Adam and Eve, Lilith, and several angels; Podolia or Ukraine, late nineteenth or early twentieth century. (The Russian Museum of Ethnography, St. Petersburg, Russia)

The belief that amulets have hidden powers was widespread among both Jews and non-Jews in Eastern Europe and across all levels of society.  However, there were some Jews who opposed the use of amulets and prominent among them was Maimonides who wrote vehemently against them. The maskilim in Eastern Europe openly mocked the use of amulets and considered them to be profane and harmful.  The fact of the Jews believing in amulets may be a result of the apostasy of the Israelites when they adopted many of the beliefs and practices of the pagan nations around them such as worshipping foreign gods and child sacrifice.

Talismans were not only worn by the common people but by kings as well.  Charlemagne, the former king of the Franks wore one.

 

This is the Talisman of Charlemagne which is said to have been found on his body when his tomb was opened

Charlemagne’s wife had sorcerers from the Court of Haroun el Raschid, Emperor of the East, make his talisman for him.   It had two large cabochon sapphires, one was oval and the other was square.  They were set into a remnant of the wood from the Holy Cross (the Cross of Jesus) and a small piece of the Virgin’s hair. It was to make their love constant.  One would assume that it worked since he never stopped loving her. This was the talisman which was buried with him at Aix-la-Chapelle, in 814 and re-discovered when the tomb was opened by Otto III in 1000.  The talisman was  preserved in the treasury of the Cathedral until it was given, by the canons, to Empress Josephine in 1804, to wear at her coronation.

Wearing a talisman created by sorcerers seems at odds with the Charlemagne who “submitted to no one but God”.

I was surprised to learn that there are Christian Talismans.  Ancient Coptic Talismans like this one came from the Oromo people of Ethiopia and were traditionally worn to protect the wearer from evil spirits and bring good luck.  They contain scrolls usually made of vellum and were inscribed with prayers and stories from Coptic Christian bibles or manuscripts by priests, religious scribes or unordained clerics known as ‘dabtaras’ and then sewn inside their leather pouch.  The writing on the scroll was done with special black and red ink and written in Ge’ez, a currently unspoken language used for religious purposes.  These Coptic talismans, like the Coptic crosses, were made a long time ago and it is  hard to determine their age.  Some were made as early as the late 19th century but these talismans have been made, worn and worshipped for over 1600 years.

Coptic Christian amulet/talisman from the Oromo people of Ethiopia

Should Christians be wearing talismans?  There are two types which are used as symbols of the Christian faith–the Cross and the fish.  The first symbolizes Jesus and what He did for mankind and the second symbolizes those His followers who are to be “fishers of men”.

The cross
The cross of Christianity was a symbol of the faith. It was previously considered a pagan symbol, with several early church fathers objecting to its use. The cross represents Christ’s victory over death and sin, since it is believed that through His death he conquered death itself.

Fish
The fish’s first known use as a Christian religious symbol was sometime within the first three centuries AD.  Christians began using the Greek word for “fish” as an acronym for “Jesus Christ God’s Son, Savior”. Followers of Christianity were called Pisciculi; the root of this Latin word is “fish”. 

When I did a search on the Fish symbol, I discovered that there are three–the one of the fish only, the one with Jesus’ name in the middle and the one of the cross in the middle.

Christians wear crucifixes or have them hanging in their homes or  dangling from the rear view mirror of their automobiles.   I have seen stickers of the fish symbol on the back of some cars.  Should Christians be part of what has become popular today?  Well, many don’t think they should.  And they use the following Bible verses to defend their stance:

“They are full of superstitions from the East; they practice divination like the Philistines and clasp hands with pagans” (Isaiah 2:6, NIV). 

“In that day, the Lord will take away the beauty of their anklets, headbands, crescent ornaments, dangling earrings, bracelets, veils, headdresses, ankle chains, sashes, perfume boxes [and] amulets” (Isaiah 3:18-20, NAS).

“Moreover, Josiah removed the mediums and the spirits and the teraphim and the idols and all the abominations that were seen in the land of Judah and in Jerusalem, that he might confirm the words of the law which were written in the book” (2 Kings 23:24, NAS).  The teraphim was the name used for idols or images reverenced by the ancient Hebrews and kindred peoples, apparently as household gods.

There is the argument that instead of putting on talismans for protection for evil and demonic powers, put on the whole armor of God “that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11).

“There are concerns that people allow objects such as crosses, crucifixes, figurines, rosaries, bumper stickers, etc., to take the place of the true change that should take place in our hearts. The things we wear, carry, or put on our cars are not what make us Christians. God is not concerned with what we wear as long as we do not dress in a way that would cause anyone to stumble in his or her walk with God (Romans 14:20) and we are not absorbed with our looks or our possessions.

On the other hand, “Many Christians wear crosses as a proud expression of their love, respect, and service to Christ, along with a remembrance of what He did for us.”

Choosing to wear Christian Talismans or not, is up to the individual.  I personally don’t wear religious jewelry or jewelry of any kind but that was me following my own conscience and what I believed was what God wanted for me.  If people feel safer on their person, in their vehicles or in their homes, then, they have to do what their consciences dictate, as long as these things never take the place of God Himself who is our one, true Source of protection against the evil one.

Sources:  Wikipedia; Yivo Encyclopedia; Above Top SecretEtsy; Bible Info; Got Questions; Unusual Historicals;

Children Find Hope

Gospel for Asia’s children’s ministry, Bridge of Hope, helps bring hope to many children in South Asia. Currently, more than 72,000 children are enrolled – Gospel for Asia

I have heard and read so much about the Bridge of Hope program and the wonderful work it has been doing to transform the lives of children.  At the centre, children receive quality education, healthcare and nutritious meals.  They are in a safe and loving environment where they learn Bible verses, stories and songs which tell of Jesus’ love.

My son attends a Christian school where they learn Bible verses, read stories and sing songs.  He has his own Bible which he reads at school and takes with him to the chapel.  Some Saturdays we worship together.  He enjoys singing songs and listening to me read stories from the Bible.  He enjoys watching Bible movies and drawing pictures of animals and people from the Bible. There is nothing more incredible than seeing children come to know and love Jesus.  I have often told my son that God likes it when he prays to Him and that He smiles when he sings. There is nothing more precious than to hear the sweet voice of a child as he or she praises the Lord.

Bridge of Hope is a wonderful place for children.  Jesus is at the centre of everything the staff does. Sharing the message of His love is their highest priority.  This love is expressed in practical ways and the children in turn take the message home to their families.  The centre also offers Parent training sessions which are an integral part of their program.  The Gospel is shared and lives are changed.  In homes where the Gospel was initially met with resistance, hearts were opened to receive it, thanks to witness of national missionaries.

I encourage you to read more about the Bridge of Hope program and to consider what you can do to help Gospel for Asia bring hope to the children of South Asia and their families.

There is nothing more powerful than prayer.  Programs like the Bridge of Hope needs your prayers. Here are some requests to get you started:

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Source:  Gospel for Asia

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