Our Shepherd

Jesus our Shepherd

“For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I myself will search and find my sheep.  I will be like a shepherd looking for his scattered flock. I will find my sheep and rescue them from all the places to which they were scattered on that dark and cloudy day.  I will bring them back home to their own land of Israel from among the peoples and nations. I will feed them on the mountains of Israel and by the rivers in all the places where people live. Yes, I will give them good pastureland on the high hills of Israel. There they will lie down in pleasant places and feed in lush mountain pastures. I myself will tend my sheep and cause them to lie down in peace, says the Sovereign Lord. I will search for my lost ones who strayed away, and I will bring them safely home again. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak” (Ezekiel 34:11-16).

When I read these words, I felt comforted.  I have a Shepherd who will come looking for me if I stray.  He will bring me safely back home again.  If I am hurt, He will bind me up and if I am weak, He will strengthen me.  I have a Shepherd who will care for me—make sure that I am well fed. He will bless me with peace.

These words must have lifted the spirits of the Israelites who were away from their homeland.  They were homesick and God reassured them that they would return to their own land.  He promised them, “I will give them land famous for its crops, so My people will never again go hungry or be shamed by the scorn of foreign nations.  In this way, they will know that I, the Lord their God, am with them.  And they will know that they, the people of Israel, are My people, says the Sovereign Lord.  You are My flock, the sheep of My pasture.  You are My people, and I am your God, says the Sovereign Lord” (Ezekiel 34:29-31).

Today, we have been promised a better place, a heavenly homeland which God has prepared for us because He is not ashamed to be called our God.  We are told, “For this world is not our home; we are looking forward to our city in heaven, which is yet to come” (Hebrews 11:16; 13:14).  One day soon, our Shepherd will come back to lead His sheep to the heavenly pastureland where we can lie down in peace.  What a joyful day that would be!

The Aftermath

naturalblackgirl

It’s a Saturday afternoon and I’m sitting in my apartment, feeling awful–really down because Bobby’s mother got very upset with me.  She wanted nothing more to do with me because I had told her that her son who was like a little brother to me wouldn’t go to Heaven because he had committed suicide.  The incident took place yesterday when I visited her.  This was a few days after the funeral.

“I refuse to believe that my 18 year old son who suffered from mental illness isn’t with the Lord Jesus.  What right do you have to tell me that he’s going to Hell?”

“Mrs. Bradshaw, I didn’t say that he was going to Hell.  All I said was that people who take their own lives cannot enter God’s kingdom.”

“Well, if Bobby isn’t in Heaven, that leaves only Hell because I don’t believe in Purgatory.”

“Mrs. Bradshaw, Bobby isn’t in Heaven or Hell.  He’s in the grave like the rest of the dead until they are resurrected.”

“That’s enough, Abiyomi.  I’m not going to listen to any more of your hateful, judgmental diatribe against my son.  Now, get out of my house.  I never want to see you ever again.”  She marched over to the front door and flung it open, her eyes hostile as they met mine.  Pain and fury marred her pale features.

As I scurried past her, I mumbled, “I’m sorry…” and was rewarded with a forceful slam of the door.  I ran to my car, jumped in and sped off, tears streaming down my face.  I drove straight over to my parents’ home and told my mother everything.  She hugged me tightly and said, “Baby, Mrs. Bradshaw can’t accept that her son is lost.  No parent  could accept it.  It’s hard enough to deal with Bobby’s suicide.  She doesn’t want to hear that he wouldn’t go to Heaven because of it.  All you can do right now is to pray for her and others who believe as she does.”

“She hates me.”

“She  doesn’t hate you.  She’s angry and still trying to come to terms with the fact that her son took his life.  She has had a lot to deal with over the years.  You know what it’s like to have a loved one suffering with mental illness.  Your aunt Mavis was bi-polar and taking care of her took a great toll on your grandparents but they managed with God’s help and now she is living a productive life.  I never told you but she tried to kill herself when she was 13 years old but she didn’t because she said that God prevented her.  My parents got a Christian Psychotherapist to help her and a doctor to help with her medication.  It’s too bad we didn’t think of having Bobby talk to her.  Perhaps she might have been able to help him.”

“I wish I had thought of Aunt Mavis.  I could have asked her to help Bobby.”  I began to cry again.

“Hush.  Hush.  Don’t beat yourself up over this.  Bobby’s parents did their best to help him and so did his friends.  Bobby suffered from depression and it’s important to know that when a teen attempts to or commits suicide it isn’t because he or she wants to die, but, it’s an attempt to escape a bad situation and or painful feelings.”

“If Bobby’s reasons for taking his life was to escape his pain why wouldn’t God let him into Heaven?”

“Whatever the reasons, however logical it may seem to the person who commits suicide, it is still wrong.  We can never rationalize the taking of a life.  It’s tragic that Bobby felt that he had nowhere to turn.”

“I wish I had spent more time with him, talked with him, prayed with him, helped him but I was too busy with my own life.”

“Are you sure that his suicide and what happened with his mother are the only reasons why you’re so upset?” my mother asked me.  She was studying me very closely now.  “I have a feeling that there’s something else.”

She knew me so well it was unnerving at times but not now.  “It’s Bobby’s Uncle Marcus,” I admitted.  “I’m worried that he will feel the same way as Mrs. Bradshaw and not want to have anything more to do with me.”

“Do you have feelings for him?”

“Yes, I do and I believe he has feelings for me too but I’m afraid that will change when Mrs. Bradshaw tells him what I said to her.”

“How long have you two been seeing each other?”

I told her.

“How old is he?”

“Fifty.”

“He’s twice your age, Abi.”

“That doesn’t matter, Mom.”

“Is he married?”

“No.  If he were, I wouldn’t be dating him.”

“Was he ever married?”

“No.”

“And he’s not in a relationship?”

“No.”

“I hope not for your sake.  So, what are you going to do if he sides with his sister?”

I sighed heavily.  “I guess I can kiss any future with him goodbye,” I muttered and the tears began to fall afresh.  I brushed them away and got up from the sofa.  “I have to go.”

My mother’s eyebrows rose and she sounded disappointed when she concluded,  “So, you’re not going to stay and have something to eat?”

“No.  I just want to be alone right now and think about things.  Thanks for everything.  I’ll call you over the weekend.  Love you.”  I grabbed my bag and practically ran out of the house.  I couldn’t wait to get home.

I haven’t left my apartment since I came in yesterday.  I’m feeling miserable and I keep playing my conversation with Mrs. Bradshaw over and over in my head and I keep thinking about Marcus.  Bobby and he were close so most likely he too would have a big issue with the things I said.  I have to defend God’s truth no matter what even if that means losing Marcus in the process.  I wanted to believe that as an Adventist he would see suicide the same way I did–that he wouldn’t allow his love for Bobby to blind him to the truth.

327_16839_13The ringing of the doorbell interrupted my thoughts and I got up from the rug and went to answer the door.   It was Marcus.  Heart racing, I opened the door.  He looked serious.  “Hello,” I said.

“Hello.”

“Please come in.”  I stepped aside for him to come in before closing the door.   I preceded him into the living-room.  Neither of us sat down, though.  We both remained standing.   He was watching me.  I couldn’t hardly think straight and I tried not to stare at his muscular arms in the tee shirt which looked really good on him.  I looked away.

“Are you all right?” he asked.

“No,” I admitted.  “I have been having a hard time since yesterday.”

“I know.  Elaine called me last night.”

I looked at him then, my heart sinking.  “So, she told you what happened.”

“Yes.  I heard her side of the story.  And now, I would like to hear yours.”

Taking a deep breath, I told him what happened and ended by saying, “I couldn’t let her believe a lie even if telling her the truth would be painful.”

He took my hands and led me over to the  sofa where we sat down.  We sat so that we were facing each other and he was still holding my hands.  “Sometimes, we need to know when is the appropriate time to share biblical truths especially when it comes to sensitive situations as in the case of Bobby’s death.  A couple of years ago, I attended a student’s funeral.  The priest told his family and the mourners that he wouldn’t get into Heaven because he committed suicide.  Now, even though what he said was true, was it right for him to tell them that?  Wouldn’t it have been kinder and more compassionate to just celebrate how the young man lived instead of focusing on how he died.   I don’t think he should have mentioned anything about the suicide.  It was neither the place nor the time for that.  The family was already reeling from a traumatic loss without him compounding it with his insensitive remarks.  Suffice to say, that priest is no longer handling funerals and the last I heard, there’s a petition to have him fired.  Now, do you get my point, Abi?”

I suddenly felt very ashamed and I nodded.  “Yes.”

“As you know Bobby and I were very close.  There are times when I think that I should have done more to prevent his death.  Elaine blames herself because she believes that Bobby didn’t feel comfortable confiding in her and his father, Phil feels that he really didn’t know his son.  And his sister, Nicole is still in denial.  His death has taken a very heavy toll on us and we are still trying to process it. ”

“I too wish that I had seen the signs and had been more of a friend to him.”  My voice broke and tears sprang to my eyes.  He gently squeezed my hands.

“I honestly believe that Bobby could have been saved if he had had the right professional help.  He didn’t want to die.   He didn’t want to take his life.  He had mental health problems but with the right treatment and care he could still be alive today. I blame his death on the lack of support for people with mental health issues.  Right now, it’s hard to accept that he’s gone and to be told that he wouldn’t go to heaven because of what he did was just too much for her.  The best thing you can do for her right now is to stay away.”

I nodded.  “I will stay clear of her for a long as necessary.  I hope that she will find it in her heart to forgive me.  I didn’t mean to upset her.”

“I know.  And I believe what you believe and that’s why it’s so hard…”  his voice broke.  “It’s so hard to accept that Bobby is lost…”  He got up suddenly and stood with his back to me.

My heart almost burst with love for him and sorrow.  I rose to my feet and went over to him.  I walked around so that I was in front of him and I reached up and put my arms around his neck.  His arms went around my waist and he held me close.  I could feel his heart beating.  We remained like that for a long, long time.  When he drew back to look down at me, both of our faces were wet with tears.

“Since Bobby died, life has been tough but something wonderful has come out of all of this,” he said.  “I met you.”

I smiled.  “Yes.  My life changed the day Bobby introduced us.”

“I never once imagined that I would fall in love with a girl half my age.”

“I’ve always had a thing for older men.”

“Well, this older man wants to spend the rest of his life with you if you will have him.”

Of course, I will,” I cried.

He didn’t answer.  Instead, he kissed me.

Sources:  Healthy Place; The JournalNewshub

Comforted and Comforting

“The question is not whether you ever gave yourself to God, but whether you are His now” Elizabeth Prentiss, Stepping Heavenward

Elizabeth_Prentiss

Elizabeth Prentiss, née Elizabeth Payson, daughter of an American Congregational preacher, Edward Payson, well known for her hymn “More Love to Thee, O Christ” and the religious novel Stepping Heavenward was deeply impacted by the death of her father who suffered from from tuberculosis for over a year.  She was eight at the time.  During that time, her father’s faith never wavered.  He wrote, “There can be no such thing as disappointment to me, for I have no desires but that God’s will be might be accomplished.” He died a few days before Elizabeth turned nine.

Elizabeth couldn’t calmly accept her father’s death as he had.  She threw temper tantrums, resented those who offered to help and misbehaved, causing her grieving mother great stress.  As she grew older, Elizabeth had conflicting emotions when it came to God.  She longed to trust Him as her parents did.  She was in between two extremes, one moment she believed that she loved God more than life itself and the next, she sank into deep despair about her standing with Him.  In May of 1931, after the family moved to New York City, Elizabeth made a public profession of faith in Jesus Christ and joined the Bleecker Street Presbyterian Church.

In 1838, she opened a small girls’ school in her home and took up a Sabbath-school class as well. Two years later, she left for Richmond, Virginia, to be a department head at a girls’ boarding school. It was during her years of teaching and in her twenties, when Elizabeth was in agony because of her conviction of her sinfulness and lack of concern for the things of Christ.  She believed herself to be a hypocrite although the evidence showed otherwise.  She was deeply concerned for the salvation of her pupils, many of whom she led to Christ. When this crisis was over, she experienced a greater joy than she had before.  “Sometimes my heart feels ready to break for the longing it has for a nearer approach to the Lord Jesus than I can obtain without the use of words, and there is not a corner of the house which I can have to myself.”

In 1845, she married George Lewis Prentiss, a brother of her close friend Anna Prentiss Stearns.  The couple settled in New Bedford, Massachusetts, where George became pastor of South Trinitarian Church.  For a while Elizabeth enjoyed her duties as a pastor’s wife and a housewife and then in 1852, when she was expecting their third child, their son Eddy got sick.  He had “water on the brain”, which we know today as meningitis.  Elizabeth prepared her son for death by telling him stories about what Heaven would be like and urging him to trust Jesus.  Then, he died and at his funeral, the choir sang the hymn, Thy Will Be Done.  Elizabeth wrote, “It was like cold water to thirsty souls. This was all we had to say or could say.”

Three months later, Eddy’s little sister, Bessie was born and appeared to be in good health but a month later, she got seriously ill and died the following day.  So, within five months, the family had lost two children. “My faith has staggered under this new blow,” Elizabeth wrote, “and I blush to tell how hard I find it to say cheerfully ‘Thy will be done.’…Oh how I do wish, do long to feel an entire, unquestioning submission to Him who pities while He afflicts me.”

As a mother, I can relate to how devastating it is to lose a child.  However, I can’t imagine losing two and at such young ages.  It is said that when Eddy died, it was one of the darkest days in her life.  The little boy had broken into a rash and fever. Elizabeth did the little that the doctors could suggest in a desperate attempt to save his life but to no avail.  After Eddy died she recognized that going to Jesus was a great blessing for him in spite her own pain and she wrote lines, urging him to, “O, hasten hence! to His [Christ’s] embraces, hasten!”

Despite her struggles with chronic health problems, Elizabeth was able to to have three more healthy children.  During that time, she wrote a poem which became a children’s classic and a book.  In 1856, following the nearly fatal illness of her daughter Minnie, she wrote the hymn “More Love to Thee.”

Elizabeth, despite her frailty and battle with chronic insomnia, was described as a bright-eyed woman with a keen sense of humor.  With her life wholly dedicated to Christ, she purposefully lived a life of joy.  She said, “Much of my experience of life has cost me a great price and I wish to use it for strengthening and comforting other souls.”

In 1878, at the age of 59, Elizabeth died and her hymn “More Love to Thee” was sung at her funeral. After her death, her husband, George, published The Life and Letters of Elizabeth Prentiss (1882), using for the book’s preface, her words, “Much of my experience of life has cost me a great price and I wish to use it for strengthening and comforting other souls.”  Elizabeth had six children, four of whom survived infancy.  Elizabeth was the fifth of eight children.  She was one of the six who survived infancy.

When her two children died within months of each other, Elizabeth, through her grief continued to trust God.  She believed that there’s a purpose in suffering.  She said to a friend whom she was counseling, “We can’t understand it, but I have been thinking that this [suffering] might be God’s way of preparing His children for very high degrees of service on earth or happiness in heaven.” She learned how to be deeply sympathetic with other grieving parents through her own losses by comforting them with the comfort she received.  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).

“…God notices the most trivial act, accepts the poorest, most threadbare little service, listens to the coldest, feeblest petition, and gathers up with parental fondness all our fragmentary desires and attempts at good works. Oh, if we could only begin to conceive how He loves us, what different creatures we should be!”
Elizabeth Payson Prentiss, Stepping Heavenward
“What grieves me is that I am constantly forgetting to recognize God’s hand in the little, everyday trials of life, and instead of receiving them as from Him, find fault with the instruments by which He sends them.”
Elizabeth Payson Prentiss, Stepping Heavenward
“…if God chooses quite another lot for you, you may be sure that He sees that you need something totally different from what you want.”
Elizabeth Payson Prentiss, Stepping Heavenward
“I see that if I would be happy in God, I must give Him all. And there is a wicked reluctance to do that. I want Him–but I want to have my own way, too. I want to walk humbly and softly before Him and I want to go where I shall be admired and applauded. To whom shall I yield? To God? Or to myself?”
Elizabeth Prentiss, Stepping Heavenward [with Biographical Introduction]

Sources:  Wikipedia; Christianity.com; Good Reads; Encyclopædia Britannica; Bulletin Inserts;

Devastating News

240_F_43342280_9fhJmIlVeQ5Zo89BgyO4mMkrzhXYj3UjSo, dinner with Marcus was amazing.  I had such a great time.  As I do my work, my thoughts take me back to that Saturday evening.  He came and picked me up at my place at exactly seven.  He looked very handsome in his expensive looking tan colored jacket and white shirt.  His eyes traveled over me in my red dress with the cap sleeves and flare skirt.  I had washed my hair and it fell in wavy curls about my face.  I could see the admiration in his eyes and I was thrilled.  “You look amazing,” he said quietly.

I smiled.  “Thank you,” I replied as I preceded him into the hallway.  After I closed and locked the door, we walked to the elevator.  The Hispanic woman who lived opposite me was coming towards us.  After she greeted me, I saw her eyes shift to Marcus and the way she looked at him.  I glanced up at him but he was looking straight ahead.  He was probably was used to women admiring him.  I can just imagine that a lot of his female students had crushes on him.  It made me feel great that I was the one he was taking out for dinner.  Nervous excitement filled me and soon we were on our way to the restaurant.  He drove a Bentley.

On the way, we talked about all sorts of things.  I learned that he was a Seventh-day Adventist like me.  The rest of the family was Baptist.  “What made you switch?” I asked.

“When I started studying the Bible, I realized that there were some major doctrinal misunderstandings of the Baptist church such as the secret rapture of the church, immortality of the soul, eternal torment, Once saved always saved, Sunday sacredness and the law being done away with in Christ.  There were Bible texts which refuted all of these teachings.  An Adventist colleague of mine invited me to an evangelistic series which I attended.  My life changed after that.  I left the Baptist church and became an Adventist.  What about you?  Were you always an Adventist?”

“Yes and I’m thankful for that.”

We reached the restaurant which such a warm and friendly atmosphere.  I loved it and the food was out of this world.  I loved being with Marcus.  He was so much fun.  I felt as if we had known each other for ages.  I could tell that he enjoyed my company too.  I felt that I was on cloud nine and I didn’t want the evening to end.  As we were having our dessert, he said to me, “I once had someone ask me if God only saves vegans.  The person asked me that question because he was told by a vegan member that those who are still eating flesh food will never see Heaven.”

“That’s ridiculous,” I exclaimed.  “What did you say to the person?”

“I told him that we are saved by Christ’s grace and His righteousness and not by our own works. We can’t earn our way to heaven by being vegan or vegetarian, nor do we choose to not eat meat because we believe that by doing so we will be saved.  It’s like what Paul said when the Jewish Christians were saying that the non-Jewish Christians had to be circumcised in order to be saved.  Being circumcised or not doesn’t save anyone.  We are saved by faith alone and not by works so that none of us can boast about how good we are and how much we deserve to go to Heaven.  Salvation is for everyone once they accept Christ.”

“I can’t stand it when people have issues with me eating fish and poultry even though these are considered clean.  Jesus Himself wasn’t a vegetarian.  He ate fish.  When the Lord visited Abraham with the two angels, didn’t they eat Veal?”

Marcus nodded.  “Yes.  It’s a shame that diet is the bone of contention in the church.  Eating meat became part of the diet after the flood and unless God Himself tells me that I should become a vegetarian or vegan, I will continue to eat fish and white meat.”

“Amen to that.”  The rest of the evening we talked about other things and then it was time for him to take me home.

When we were standing outside of my door, he said, “I had a wonderful evening.”

“So did I,” I was quick to let him know.  I wanted to say that I wish it wouldn’t end.  I couldn’t invite him inside because of what could happen.  As Christians, we had to be mindful of how easily we can become tempted to do things we know we ought not to do.  If we didn’t believe in the Bible then, we would not have thought anything was wrong with him coming into my apartment for a nightcap or spending the night.

“When can I see you again?”

“Anytime you wish,” I was happy to tell him.  Every single day would suit me just fine.

“Tomorrow I would like to take you to Napa.  I can pick you up in the morning and take a scenic drive.  It takes about an hour and forty-one minutes to get San Jose to there.  Once we get there, there are several fun things we can do.  What do you say?”

“I say yes!”

“Good, I’ll see you tomorrow.  I will call you.”

I smiled up at him before I opened my door.  I turned to face him.  “Good night and thank you for a wonderful evening.”

327_16843_17“You’re welcome, Abi.  Good night.” He reached out and gently squeezed my arm.

I leaned against the door frame, watching as he walked away.  My heart leapt in my chest when he stopped and turned to look at me, a slight smile on his face before he continued down the hallway towards the elevators.  I waited until one came and I heard the doors close before I went into my apartment.  For the rest of the night and all morning, I couldn’t stop thinking about Marcus.

The next day, he took me to Napa and the first thing we did was go for a hot air balloon ride over the vineyards.  It was an exhilarating experience.  Marcus told me that the next time we would go early in the morning when it’s even more spectacular.  Next, we went Olive Oil tasting, we had lunch a very nice Spanish restaurant called Zuzu.  Afterwards we went to Sterlings’s where we stomped grapes.  The grapes felt so yucky between my toes and my feet had turned purple but we got free tee shirts.

Before we went bowling, we wandered for a bit in downtown Napa with its shops, cafes and chocolatiers and visited the Oxbow Public Market where we treated ourselves to organic ice-cream.  It had been a long time since I had an ice-cream so it was a big treat for me.  After we finished our ice-creams, we headed to the bowling center where we spent the rest of the afternoon.  I never had so much fun in my life and I thanked God for bringing Marcus into my life.  As we drove back to San Jose, we made plans for our next date.  And we have been dating ever since.

The ringing of the phone brings me back to the present.  I stare at the display.  I don’t recognize the name.  I pick up the receiver.  “Hello?”

“Hello Abiyomi.  This is Philip Jennings.  We met at the barbecue.”

“Oh, yes, I remember you now.  You’re married to Bobby’s sister, Nicole.”

“Yes.  I called your mother and she gave me your work number.”

I could sense that something was wrong.  “What’s the matter?” I asked.

“It’s about Bobby.”

My heart was pounding now.  “What’s happened to Bobby?”

“He died this morning.”

I began to tremble.  “Died?  But how?” As far as I knew Bobby physically fit.  He hardly got sick.

“He took his life.”

Source:  Perspectives-Adventist; Seed Time; A Passion and a Passport; SFbaytripper; California Dream Big

The Virgin Mother

Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel – Isaiah 7:14

PregnantMary

The mere fact that a virgin will give conceive and give birth to a Son, is in of itself a miracle.  This is humanly impossible.  Even Mary marveled.  She exclaimed, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?”

And the angel, Gabriel explains to her how this miraculous birth will be achieved.  “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.”  He reminds her that, “For with God nothing will be impossible.”

If the Almighty could have Elizabeth, a barren woman conceive in her old age why couldn’t it be possible for Mary, a young virgin, who found favor with Him conceive in her womb and bring forth a Son, and call His name Jesus? (Luke 1:30, 31, 36).  Yes, God can do the impossible and He did.  In Mary, He fulfilled the promise which He made through the prophet, Isaiah and He named the Child Immanuel, which means “God with us.”

Thank You, Lord Jesus for leaving the glory of Heaven to come to earth to be with us.

The Word Became Flesh

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. – John 1:14, NIV

baby_jesus11

God, the Son and the Word who was with the Father in the beginning became flesh.  He came into the world as a newborn Babe to live among men.  He was raised in a Jewish home to Jewish parents in the town of Nazareth.  He became a carpenter like Joseph before going into ministry.  As Man, Jesus experienced the things we experience such as hunger and thirst, tiredness and grief.  He was tempted like us but He didn’t sin.  He prayed daily to the Father.  He had friends and He socialized with different sorts of people, some of whom were treated as outcasts.

The glory John saw was the transfiguration of Jesus when He took Peter, James and him up to the high mountain where He communed with Moses and Elijah.  They were not to mention anything to anyone until He was raised from the dead (Matthew 17:1-3, 9).   Peter later wrote, “For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’  And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.” (2 Peter 1:17, 18).

Jesus came from the Father to bring grace and truth into the world which was steeped in sin and darkness.  His grace was shown in his healing of diseases, the casting out of unclean spirits and in his interaction with tax collectors, sinners, the woman caught in adultery and the Samaritan woman.  He shared moral and religious truth through parables and the Sermon on the Mount.  He taught people how to live in relation to God and to people.  Jesus placed God’s truth which was found in His Word above the traditions of men and the lies of Satan.

As you celebrate this Christmas season, reflect on the amazing reality that Jesus, by Whom all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, set aside His majesty and glory and came in the form of man to tabernacle among the people (Colossians 1:16; Philippians 2:7).

Thank You, Lord Jesus for becoming like us, so that in the flesh You could save us.

Defending Joe

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“Mommy, Mommy,” Kevon cried, running to her.  Alarmed, Inez reached down and picked him up.

“What’s the matter, Baby?” she asked.

“Grandma said that Daddy’s in Hell because he killed a man.”

“Go and tell Auntie Hilda goodbye while I speak to Grandma.”  She put him down and he ran off.

Inez turned to face her mother.  “Mama, how could you tell him such a thing?” she demanded.

Her mother pursed her lips.  “Well, it’s true, isn’t it?  Your good for nothing husband was found guilty of homicide and sentenced to jail time, which in my opinion, wasn’t long enough.  And now he’s dead.  He died behind bars because he was a criminal and because he’s a criminal he’s in Hell where people like him belong.”

“Joe was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter after he accidentally drew his pistol instead of his stun gun and fatally shot an unarmed man.  He got a two year prison sentence.  While he was in prison, he accepted Jesus as His Lord and Savior.  He died in prison from a heart attack before he could be baptized but I believe that like the thief on the cross, he’s saved.”

“You can believe what you want.  It still doesn’t change the fact that your husband killed somebody.”

“He served his time, Mama.”

“He was no good.  You could have married somebody better like Terrence.”

“Mama, I didn’t love Terrence.  I loved Joe.  Why didn’t you ever approve of Joe?  Was it because he was a cop?”

“It was a cop who killed your father.”

“Mama, it was a white cop who shot Dad and you know it.  Joe was a good cop.  It was just unfortunate that he accidentally shot someone.”

“Cops are all alike.  They are trigger happy.  We’re better off without them.”

“Mama, I’m going to take Kevon home now.  If you are going to upset him again I won’t bring him around anymore.”

“You’re going to deprive me of seeing my grandson?”

“Yes, if you’re going to tell him terrible things about his father.”

“That boy is the only good thing that came out of that marriage.”

“Mama, I mean it.  If you want to see Kevon again, you have to lay off Joe.”

“Fine.  I will hold my peace.  I won’t mention that man any more.”

“In spite of what you think about him, Joe was a good husband and father.  And Jesus died for him too.”

Her mother didn’t answer.  Instead, she turned her attention to the television set.

Inez sighed and went to get Kevon.  Soon they were on their way home.  It was a late Sunday afternoon.  Three weeks before the new school term started.  “Are you all right, Baby?” she asked.

He nodded.  “I’m better now.  Auntie Hilda gave me some candy.”

“Make sure you save some for later and tomorrow.”

“I will,” he promised.

“I’m sorry about what Grandma said.”

“Is it true, Mommy?  Is Daddy in Hell because he killed a man?”

“No, Baby.  Daddy didn’t kill the man on purpose.  It was a terrible accident.  Daddy was very sorry about what happened.  He had to go to jail because that’s where people have to go when they do something wrong, even if it’s an accident.  Daddy’s not in Hell.”

“Where is he then?”

“He’s in the grave.  That’s where all dead people are.  They are sleeping in their graves until Jesus comes and raises the ones who believe in Him like He did with Lazarus.   Then, those who are raised from the dead along with the those who are still alive will go with Jesus to Heaven.”

“What about Hell?”

“Hell isn’t a place where bad people go.  It’s something that will happen here on earth.  The Bible teaches us that it is a fire which God will send down from Heaven.  The fire is called Hell fire and it burns for a long time before it goes out.  You don’t have to be afraid of it as long as you love and obey God.  The good news is that one day you, Daddy and I will be together again forever.”

“I can’t wait to see Daddy again.”

“I know, Baby.  Neither can I.”

For the rest of the drive home, they sang songs, thanking and praising God for His goodness and Jesus for His love.

We’re all sinners, every one of us. We’ve all done things we wish we hadn’t –  Jerry Falwell, Jr.

Source:  Findlaw