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I listened to the two young men talk about the events of the previous week. The lines of support versus the lines of protest that had formed outside of the Chick-fil-A restaurants across our nation. I knew one of the young men well. “Brent” is a good Christian man having just turned twenty and is working his way through college. The other one “Nick” a recent college grad about twenty-two, a new employee at my physical therapist’s. I have only met Nick a couple of times, but he also seems like a very nice, intelligent young man as well, and both of them have a great work ethic. 

A television on the wall was cued to the news, where they were still doing stories on the event that had begun as a challenge by the Arkansas governor to garner support for the company and it’s owner to believe as he wishes. As they both gazed at the television, the young newcomer Nick said “All of those Christians have no problem going out to buy chicken in support of this, but you sure don’t see them all at the homeless shelters in those numbers do you? I mean think about it, if all those Christians around the nation came out at once to help the homeless, and did it every day, there would be no homeless.”

I was enraged inside, I wanted to point my finger at him and tell him to stop judging the followers of Christ of the world, and where did he even get that just because those people were all in line, they were even all Christians? Are Christians the only ones who enjoy the food at Chick-fil-A? I think not. I wanted to refute him in every way I could, counting off the reasons why he was wrong to make such a statement, but in the end, I said nothing. I said nothing because I knew that what he said was right. Many of those in line “were” my brothers and sisters in Christ, and they were merely trying to support another brother in Christ who had made a bold statement in a politically correct world, and come under fire for it.

But I must also stop and consider the way I look at people who are in high positions, celebrities, politicians, Etc. who use their positions of authority as moxie to make a point. I don’t like it when celebrities use their status and considerable wealth to influence politicians by whispering in their ears, the Sarandon’s and Streisand’s, Turner’s and Trump’s. Therefore how can I say it is okay for someone on the Christian right to do one thing that I think is wrong for someone on the opposite to do. I think that if someone is good at being an actress, they should act, or an actor, the same. If someone is a great real estate investor, then that is what they should stick with, as well as a Christian brother who sells chicken. Am I saying that someone should not be bold when expressing ones beliefs? Not at all, I have no problem with what he said, I admire his willingness to stand up for his beliefs, but in doing so, flak is just something to be expected.

The thing that bothered me the most about what this young man Nick said was that I knew he spoke the truth. It made me wonder why he would think such things about us as Christians, had he been around people who were more talk than action? Had he been interested in becoming a Christian and been turned off by our hipocrisy? I knew deep down that what he said was correct though, we are eager to stand up and “tell” everyone what we believe. But haven’t we been doing that since the beginning of time, isn’t it time that we begin to “show” people what we believe by our actions instead?

I cannot speak for anyone else, only for myself. And although I actually like the chicken there (not a huge fan of the waffle fries though), I did not go out and buy chicken that day in support, I was working all day. I am also not much of a bandwagon guy either, preferring not to jump in and swim with the rest of the salmon just because it seems like the thing to do, every time I have done that I always seem to be eating a heaping helping of humble pie afterwards for one reason or other. But I “do” know that I could spend more time giving to those who have a need, and I do know that we as followers of Christ could make a “HUGE” impact on our world if we were to offer up time and money to those in need in the same way that we did in standing by the owner of this company and his right to express his belief in the biblical model for marriage.

There will always be controversy, there will always be platforms, and there will always be the poor as Jesus has said (Matthew 26:11). But our ministry is not one where we will win souls to Christ by standing on a street corner and preaching to those who pass us by, those days are mostly gone. Our ministry will best be seen by our love, kindness and generosity to those who are struggling through life. Nick, the young and idealistic man who recently began working with my physical therapist convicted me. He gave me a view of the Christian conglomerate through the eyes of the undecided, or possibly those who have even already rejected our way because of our willingness to wear our faith as a badge of “pride”, rather than to greet those in need with a washbasin and a towell (John 13:1-17).

So, does this convict you in the way that it does me? Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think there is anything wrong with anyone who went out and supported this brother, but it shouldn’t be the foundation from which the world sees us as Christ followers. When they think of us, the lines at the Chick-fil-A should not represent what we stand for to them, but rather as servants of Jesus and those He referred to as “the least of these” (Matthew 25:40).

As always, may God bless and keep you!

JFT

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A Fiction Series; Begin Here   The Master of Chaos

Ted Sackett, the Vice President of the Unites States was already in the air aboard a secure plane circling Texas when news of the Presidents death reached him. Sackett was stunned and overwhelmed at the thought of what awaited him. Ted had agreed to be Conroy’s running mate because he admired the strong man and his conservative values, but Ted had never thought he would ever have to occupy the office of Commander in Chief. Sackett immediately called Mary Conroy to offer condolences on the death of her husband. When the first lady was patched through, she was sobbing as she took the phone. Ted, I am so glad it’s you, because I needed to tell you something, there is something horribly wrong here, Lerner was never suicidal. I knew that man since I was a freshman in high school, and if there is one thing that he wasn’t, it was suicidal. You must believe me, something is going on, don’t you think it is just a bit odd that on the same day there was a horrific nuclear strike in the Middle East that my husband would also be found dead? Ted just listened, he agreed with her that Conroy was someone he never considered weak or suicidal, but he didn’t know what to tell her, so he just said “Mary, I am so very, very sorry for you and Mackenzie, I know this does not sound right, and I want to assure you that I will insure a full and thorough investigation is carried out. We will find out what happened Mary, and if there is anything that you and Mackenzie need, please let me know. I have to go now, I am so sorry but I am being paged as we speak to the videoconferencing room”.

They said their sad goodbyes and Sackett entered the videoconferencing room in the rear of the huge jetliner, immediately seeing the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court waiting for him on the large video monitor. The elderly justice asked Sackett to raise his right hand and repeat what he said; he would be swearing Ted Sackett in as the next President of the United States. Sackett repeated everything that the Justice said, yet he wasn’t listening to the words he was repeating, his mind was racing a hundred miles an hour, anxious at the responsibility that he was taking on now. So much for just riding out this term, he was about to work harder than he ever had before. He wasn’t smiling when he finished taking the oath.

                                                *          *          *

Tim and Carrie were amazed at the outright power and loyalty of their God. They sat in church listening as one by one, four of the elders went before the congregation and opened their hearts about the visions they had all been given. The people in the assembly were quiet as the elders spoke of the one they were told about who would come, and how it happened exactly as they were told. Tim thought to himself that if someone had relayed that story to him a year ago he would have run from the building and would have never returned. Yet now, no one did, everyone was rapt with attention. They told of Tim’s vision where the great angel Gabriel told of a time of tribulation that will come, and that we must leave now without delay, because a place has been prepared for us. At the end, Sam asked if the congregation would give a show of hands who would be going, and everyone was shocked when all of the family heads raised their hands. Some raised them tentatively, seemingly shy as they looked around them to see who else would be going, but in the end, everyone was on board. It was truly nothing short of a miracle, because attendance that Sunday morning was just over a thousand.

The elders ordered pizzas delivered for the entire congregation and they suggested everyone eat and relax for a couple of hours, and then the planning and inventory would begin. Tim approached Sam Preston with a gym bag that he had over his shoulder and waited as Sam finished talking to one of the other elders. “Hey Tim, I think all is going well, don’t you? We have so much to do in such a short time, but it seems as though God is really paving a trail for us”. Tim agreed, and then removed the gym bag from his shoulder and handed it to Sam. Sam, here is twenty-five million dollars in cash; Sam’s face went slack as he took the bag. Start the purchasing of vehicles and supplies first thing tomorrow, have the people who do the buying to go all over the city and buy our supplies from many different locations so as not to raise a flag to spying eyes. Purchase whatever you need, and do not worry; you don’t have to give me an accounting for anything. Let Carrie and I know how we can help, we are at your service, and should you need more money, just let me know.

While they were still speaking, Carrie came up and interrupted them with the news of President Conroy’s death. A chill ran up Sam’s spine as he thought, “everything is accelerating so fast now”. Tim said “Well, if that doesn’t underscore the urgency of the situation, then I don’t know what would.

Tim and the elders worked late into the night, putting everything together that they could think of until they were literally about to collapse. Although it seemed almost impossible logistically, they were shooting for a departure of early Thursday morning. Tim thought to himself, it will take an act of God to make that deadline, but he had no doubt that they would, everything else up to this point had been facilitated by God, Tim had no reason to think God would abandon them now.

                                                *          *          *

Ben-Asher stood at the Wailing Wall alone with his thoughts, it was past ten in the evening, and the crowds had dwindled from the daytime until there was just a handful of people watching him. As the rabbi faced the wall and awaited his next prophetic moment, he heard the click of heels on pavement getting louder as someone approached him from behind. Suddenly he knew who it was approaching him although he had never seen the man before, and he knew his next prophecy was at hand. He turned to face the tall man, who was impeccably dressed in an incredible Italian cut suit, and was wearing dark glasses despite the fact that it was nighttime. The man stopped a few feet from Ben-Asher and was about to speak when the rabbi said, “Take me to the one who has requested my presence”. The man said “this way”, and turned on his heels, leading off toward the avenue. Ben-Asher and his escort rounded the corner and came up the street to a black limo that was waiting for them. The man opened the rear door and held his hand out for the man to get in, so the rabbi complied, climbing into the dark cabin of the car. After the rabbi was seated, a familiar voice greeted him. It was that of Vladimir Petrovski, the supreme leader of the World League of Nations, and the president of Russia. Vlad held out his hand as the rabbi shook it gently.

I know you must be wondering why I have asked to meet with you Ben-Asher. I know you are a prophet, and that you have prophesied the return of Elijah, and I am here to tell you that I am he. I am the one that you have prophesied has returned. Ben-Asher nodded and said, “I know, your highness”. Vlad then explained to the rabbi that he would like him to join his staff as the supreme leaders personal prophet. Ben-Asher wasted no time in accepting the proposal saying, I would be honored your highness.

                                                *          *          *

Brooke sat at the edge of the sparring circle with the other angels she had come to know so well in recent times. Kennady’s name was called to take a turn on the grass, and then Brooke was selected to spar against her. Kennady stretched out quickly on the grass as Brooke stood and prepared for the match. Although they had become the best of friends, it was pure primal battle in the ring; no favors were asked, no mercies given. The two pretty warrior angels squared off and began to side step in a circle, eyes locked on one another. Kennady struck first as Brooke merely leaned back and Kennady’s sword caught only air. The lithe angel then whirled in a roundhouse assault and was surprised to find Brooke gone as she came back around in her 360 degree attack. She looked around quickly to locate the tall beautiful angel when her legs were knocked out from under her. She had been ambushed from behind she thought as she landed on the grass in a heap. Before she could bound back up in her customary fashion, she felt Brooke’s foot on her throat and she turned her face to look up, only to be greeted by Brooke’s gleaming sword. Brooke was smiling wickedly at the other end of the sword and she chuckled and said, “Gocha”.    God Bless-JFT

To be Continued–   The Master of Chaos – XXVII

Note: This series is a work of fiction entirely, for entertainment purposes only, all rights reserved.

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A Fiction Series; Begin Here   The Master of Chaos

Josh Simpson nursed an unsweetened iced tea across from Samantha in the burger joint he had taken her to for dinner. Sam had actually found him to be fairly unflappable as a trader, taking the losses better than most. He was not what she had expected when she first met him. He had turned out to be quite the gentleman, controlled and disciplined. When they had first begun to see one another, she turned on the charm and had tried to seduce him, but he had not responded as she had hoped, instead kissing her on the forehead and saying goodnight. After several attempts at seducing him, she had discovered that he was a follower of the enemy, a “devoted” one and was not going to be an easy trophy on her shelf. Even though she was a warrior for the other side, she felt a spark of something she had never felt before, admiration. She knew it must be a side effect of living in this human form, as with other feelings she had encountered since the beginning of her mission. She had felt guilt, happiness, euphoria, longing and another feeling that she couldn’t yet describe that caused an ache in the middle of her chest, and it only came when she thought of Josh. She didn’t understand them, but no matter, she had a job to do and she would stick it out until the end, feelings or no feelings he was just a pleasant distraction from the mission. The master had told her that pleasure in excess was one of the biggest tools to be used against mankind, so certainly he wouldn’t mind if she enjoyed a little of it too.

The market was bust; it had been dropping for months now and was at an all time low, at levels not seen since the 80’s. Clients were bailing now in record numbers, doing exactly what they were “not” supposed to do, selling low in an attempt to keep from losing everything. The effects were being felt worldwide as other markets were at all time lows too. The only ones that seemed to be doing great were the Russians, and they were flush with money right now. Josh emptied the last of his iced tea and asked the waitress for a refill. She took his glass and said “coming right up hon, but I am going to have to charge you for the refill, our owner said no more freebies”. He said okay and she headed off to get it, he then smiled at Sam and said “things are getting pretty bad when you can’t get a refill of iced tea for free anymore”. It was true though, the banks had quit loaning money except to the very wealthy, and the unemployment rate was higher than it had been since the 70’s because companies were laying off. Small businesses were closing their doors in record numbers, and foreclosures and homelessness were at never before seen highs, the country was on the edge of complete economic collapse. The waitress set his refilled tea before him and he smiled at Sam and said “oh well, easy come easy go, at least I have good company and the best burger in the Big Apple in front of me, things could be a lot worse”. She chuckled and took a bite from her sandwich thinking “if you only knew”.

                                               *          *          *

“I do” Tim said staring deeply into the eyes of the woman he had always loved. “Then by the power vested in me, I now pronounce you husband and wife, you may kiss the bride” the pastor said as Tim kissed Carrie passionately in front of the small gathering of friends and family. The divorce had never gone through, they had stopped it in time, but Tim insisted that they be remarried anyway because he knew their lives had changed so much, there had been so many miles since that first wedding, he wanted to do it over.

They had sold the big mansion that contained nothing but bad memories, and moved back into the small house that held so many good ones, but Tim did have the kitchen remodeled for her. Tim had gone through rehab and cleaned himself up from the drinking and the cocaine, and had done everything he could to set his life right again, but this time they grew their marriage around God, and He had blessed it. They had set themselves up with a modest salary from the lotto winnings and just let the interest grow the balance; that is until the first week of the stock market plunge. Tim had decided to pull the money out of the market within a day or two of the initial plummet, and it had proven to be an almost prophetic move. Their initial winnings of 196 million after taxes, and spending a few million on cars and houses had grown substantially in the markets initial gains, and had swelled to 287 million. They would have lost most of it had Tim not removed it from the market when he did. Even though the money had almost ruined them, Tim was walking by the Spirit now, and the Spirit had led him to act as he had, protecting it. Tim had even gone a step further afterwards and removed it from the bank, which turned out to be one of the largest cash withdrawals they had ever done. They then divided the money up into several large sums and stored them in large fireproof safes at different locations, this move too they felt was Spirit led. They had no idea what the money was to be used for, but they knew it was important to protect it, so that is what they did.

                                               *          *          *

Vladimir Petrovski laid out his plan before the Presidents of China, Greece, Italy, and a host of other small nations in what would be known as the first of the “world summits”. “Russia has remained strong during this time of economic crisis. It has been able to aid its brother nations at a time when the U.S. has not been able to. In fact, we have even been able to aid them at a time when their own infrastructure was not able to provide aid in their time of need. During the past decades, even centuries as other countries have swelled with prosperity, Russia has struggled with its own tyrannical leaders at the helm, using fear and what is tantamount to communist slavery to keep order. But those days are gone now, and our country has flourished in the wake that memory. I come to you now with an olive branch my brothers, an olive branch and a promise of brotherhood unlike any in the history of the world”.

“In the past, the United Nations has been the standard for world cooperation, built on the foundation of policing the nations and preventing tyranny, setting a humanitarian standard and for all nations to live by. As we have all seen, this has not been effective. We still have tyranny, human slavery, genocide’s, persecution and government sponsored terrorism occurring worldwide. Consider if you will Somalia, a country with no effective government. In the absence of leadership, leaders will rise to the surface and take control. Somalia is governed by drug crazed gangs who kill UN troops and take the food we ship there in the hopes of feeding the millions of starving families who cry out for help. Darfur is very near to the same, a land where there is almost no clean water for its people to drink, where most of the children who are born will not live until their first birthday. A country where 50% of its citizens are infected with AIDS, and there are no medications to treat them, and no education to teach them how to stop its spread. The UN has outlived its usefulness brothers, and I have a proposal that will usher in a new era of cooperation among the nations”.

“Ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, heads of state, I propose the formation of a new governing force for the world, one that will reach out and meet the needs of those countries, as well as those in every corner of the earth. I propose the formation of the World League of Nations”. As he spoke a curtain behind him began to part and a huge screen became visible, a slide show then began. Pictures of starving children in Somalia were cued up; their little bloated bellied evoking gasps from the crowd of world leaders. Another slide came up showing families begging for food at the back of a UN food truck manned by well fed rebels in shorts and sunglasses, gold chains around their necks and camouflaged jackets on carrying AK-47 assault rifles. Another slide was cued of the same scene, only the truck was gone and the bullet riddled bodies of the families shown in the earlier slide remained. The next slide showed a massive rocket on a mobile launcher with Arabic writing across the rounded nose, subtitles translated the writing for the guests and read “for the destruction of the Zionist regime, may you rot in hell”. Vlad explained that the photo had been taken two days ago inside Iran’s secret nuclear complex, and that it was ready to fly along with nine others just like it; it was enough to obliterate Israel completely.

The slide show continued for another 30 minutes as Vlad explained the pictures one by one. When it was finished, a slide of the world’s continents came up, and Vlad turned to face the crowd again. Brothers and sisters, I ask you to join me in the formation of the World League of Nations, and let us create a world that is safe for all of us, a world that will be safe for all of our children, and their children as well. I will lead the league, and all of you according to my plan will remain presidents of your own countries. You will have not only the backing of your own countries military should you need it, but also that of all of the nations in the league. Your economy’s strength will no longer be regional as they are now, but we will replace our currency with a “world dollar”, which will be backed by all of the member countries. Together we can end unemployment, poverty, starvation, and homelessness. We can provide clean drinking water to those who do not have the technology to help themselves, and we can end tyrannical rule on a worldwide basis.

A slide of the world dollar appeared on the screen; the picture on the dollar was that of the Chinese president, which was obviously a surprise as he grinned proudly. Vlad continued “each of you will appear on the dollar of your country, although the dollar will be accepted mutually in all of the member countries. I have taken the liberty of printing up all that is needed to begin the process; currency has already been minted to replace the currencies in circulation within your countries. All that is needed are your agreements to join the league and become united in our worldwide goals, and then to pledge loyalty to me as your leader in the league.

By the end of the summit, everyone who had attended pledged their loyalty to the leader, even China. There had been much personal talk with Vlad during the two days following the initial speech; the leaders had questions, most of them revolving around the retention of their own power. In the end though everyone was more afraid of what it would mean to not be in the World League of Nations, and nobody wanted to be on the wrong side of Vlad and his league, they knew they would rather be on the inside than on the outside looking in.   God Bless-JFT

To be Continued–  The Master of Chaos – XXIII

Note: This series is a work of fiction entirely, for entertainment purposes only, all rights reserved.

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A Fiction Series; Begin Here   The Master of Chaos

Vladimir Petrovski sat in his office at the Kremlin, it was late and had been a very long day but he wasn’t tired; he never seemed to tire. The day had begun early at 4am, and here it was 11pm and he had no plans to pack it in any time soon. He looked down at the spreadsheet he had requested from his economic advisors, detailing the poorest countries in the world. Countries like Mexico, Haiti, Somalia, Darfur and so on. Also listed were countries that weren’t typically poor, but had been hard hit by the crashing economy, and also those that were severely affected by the high value of the euro in countries whose economic structure would not support it. This included countries like Greece, Romania, Slovakia, and a host of other small countries whose economies had been destroyed by their leaders decision to join the European Union. They would be the easiest ones to reel in, but the others would follow as well, after all he would be bringing them the greatest commodity of all, hope.

His secretary announced the arrival of the economic advisor in the waiting area and he told her to send him in. The man looked stressed and tired, Vlad knew his entire staff was tired and he needed to send them home soon. Comrade, Vlad said as he stood, walking around the large presidential desk. He embraced the middle-aged man warmly and then accompanied him to the comfortable lounge area arranged beautifully around the massive fireplace with a fire going. Vlad went over and removed an ancient bottle of cognac, it was the same bottle that Ivan used to pour them drinks from, it was for special occasions and it never seemed to run dry. Antonii Lebedev thanked the President and sipped the drink slowly, savoring the warmth as they both settled into large leather couches, specially made for the previous president from the soft leather of Siberian Caribou. One would be hard pressed to find a more comfortable couch.

First Antonii, let me take time to thank you for your hard work and long hours, I could not have done all that I have without you, and you will be rewarded for your loyalty. The Americans have changed their opinion of the evil power seeking Russian regime since the tsunami and the role we are playing in helping them out. They were also not expecting it when I ordered a cash payout of a trillion dollars in disaster aid to the states up the coast that were ignored by their own government, especially when I explained that it was not a loan that would need to be repaid, but a gift from one brother to another. Antonii smiled warmly at the thought, Americans looking fondly on Russians, brotherhood with former enemies, it was worth it even if it was draining the Russian defense budget to never before seen lows.

Vlad then said “Antonii, what I am about to tell you will sound strange, but I need you to just trust me brother. In the morning when you report for work, you will find the defense budget has been restored to the same level it was before we gave money to the Americans. Antonii looked surprised and raised the palms of both hands up, saying, “How can that be Mr. President, have you transferred funds from….”? Vlad held his right hand up and said “Trust Antonii, trust”, he then continued. The defense fund will be as large as it has ever been, and then some. In the morning I would like you to take this list of countries that are teetering on the edge of economic collapse and disburse what they need to turn things around for them. You and your staff will be very busy tomorrow, but I would like for you to accomplish this tomorrow, all of it. I am also going to tell you something else that I need you to trust me on. As you disburse funds tomorrow, the defense fund will continually refill itself, once again Antonii, I ask trust in the matter. Also, you are to tell no one about this, only the Vice President, you and me are aware of this. Antonii nodded and said okay quietly. Vlad stood once more, a sign that the meeting was over. As Antonii stood, the Russian President embraced him once more, and told him to go home and get a good nights sleep, for they had a big day tomorrow. Antonii nodded and thanked him again as Vlad walked him to the door.

Returning to his desk again, he looked at a meeting agenda outline for tomorrow that he had typed up and sent to the leaders of both Israel and the Palestinians. He looked at his watch and mentally gauged the time before his flight would leave in the morning. He called his secretary on the intercom and asked her to come in. The attractive woman in her mid fifties was always impeccably dressed, it didn’t matter the hour of day or how long Vlad held her over at work, she still managed to always look fresh. Her name was Helga, and Vlad knew she was tired. Helga, I am going to be wrapping things up in the next few minutes, I have a 6am flight to catch in the morning, so it will be another short night and a long day tomorrow. I want you to go home now, and take the next two days off, with pay of course. Sleep in and relax, maybe you and your husband can take your grandkids to the zoo, but whatever you do I want you to relax. I will be in Jerusalem for the next couple of days and I plan to stay the weekend too. Take advantage of this time to rest up, because next week will be busy. Helga smiled and said “Thank you Mr. President”. Vlad smiled and said “that is all”, and she smiled again and said, “Travel safe Mr. President, and good luck in your negotiations sir”. She then left the room, and Vlad went right back to work, he would not be going home tonight, he would be working straight through.

                                                *          *          *

President Lerner Conroy was upset, that Russkie President “who hadn’t even been elected to run the country” was really doing a lot of PR lately, and it was making Conroy look bad in his own country. First the ships, which even though he hated to admit it, had saved a lot of lives in Florida with their search and rescue choppers and hospital ships, humanitarian aid and such. What burned his hide was that he had sated the states who were crying out for money, this was America doggone it, we are the ones who provide aid, we don’t take it. He had given those states a huge amount of money, more than the US was even able to provide, and it had really hurt his presidency. The same Americans who had elected him were now calling him a “do nothing” president, he knew he shouldn’t have listened to Jack Norton. The tsunami had left a worse taste in their mouth than Katrina did back in 2005, his re-election would definitely not be “in the bag”. He didn’t really know what the Russian was up to, he just knew he didn’t trust the guy.

                                                *          *          *

Vladimir shook the hands of Israeli Prime Minister Abram Zahavi and Palestinian President Fatih Massri, two men who typically hated to be in the same room with one another. They were in a secure room of the David Citadel hotel in Jerusalem for peace talks, which had previously always been hosted by the Americans, and had never worked. The three men sat down and Vlad opened a folder with notes and diagrams inside, they would be approaching peace from a different angle today, and Vlad knew it would work this time. Four hours later, the doors to the meeting room were opened and the three men stood in the doorway laughing and smiling. After the laughing subsided, Massri approached Zahavi with tears in his eyes and the two embraced. Massri then said “This day is momentous, not only has our country finally achieved statehood, I have gained a brother”. The Israeli prime minister’s eyes watered too, and he said “I never thought I would see this day in my lifetime, praise be to God”. Massri echoed the sentiment, “praise be to Allah”, and they sealed their sentiment with a handshake. Peace was coming to the Middle East.

                                                *          *          *

The elderly Hasidic Jew had been praying at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem for hours now. He was well known and respected by those in the Jewish community as a wise and learned rabbi. Now he turned and faced all those who stood watching and raised his hands skyward. Speaking just below a shout, he proclaimed “I have seen a vision, the prophet Elijah has returned. Watch for him and he will be apparent, the prophecies foretold in the Torah will now be fulfilled”. He then lowered his hands and turned back toward the wall as if nothing had happened, while everyone around him stared at him with rapt attention.  God Bless-JFT

To be Continued–  The Master of Chaos – XXII

Note: This series is a work of fiction entirely, for entertainment purposes only, all rights reserved.

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State of the Soul

I sat in church yesterday as our pastor did the annual “state of the church” message. It was very exciting, attendance rose by over ten percent, tithes rose by over ten percent, we had over six hundred go on missions this year. I sat there listening, and I felt as though God was smiling down at us and blessing us beyond our comprehension.

As I lay in bed last night, I began to think about all of the things we take a status check on with regularity. At work, we get and give performance reviews to chart our growth or decline in work performance. This can be handy, as it can keep us moving into the right direction throughout the year. I regularly maintain all of the computers in our home, defragging and debugging them so that they continue to perform at their highest potential. Needless to say, it is the same story with vehicles at our home. I have three to keep maintained between my wife’s, the kids and mine. If I see a tire that is wearing wrong, I would not ignore it, but rotate it or replace it so that no one finds themselves in a dangerous situation. We take care to maintain all things in our life that we feel have value, yet sometimes I find myself ignoring the most important thing I possess, my soul.

I find that I do not take stock of the state of my soul with the regularity that I do other more menial things, so I began to think about it and ponder how I will change this over the coming year. I do not believe in new years resolutions, never have, and never will. But the newness of the year does make us think about fresh beginnings concerning things we could stand to change, so I decided to walk around and kick the tires a bit.

This exercise will only work if you keep honesty in it and excuses out, so here goes. A true sign to me that I am getting off track is if in reflection, I find that materiel goods are meaning more to me these days than they used too, and I noticed that to a slight degree, I have begun to want a bit more lately, bold checkmark by that one.

Another sign that I may have slipped off the track a bit is if in review, I haven’t been sharing my faith with friends, co-workers, and neighbors lately. Have I been asking folks to church with me? Have I held tightly to my convictions in a way that honors God the way I should? Another bold checkmark!

How is my prayer life lately, have I been allowing the world to come between the Lord and myself in prayer time. Am I greeting the day and ending the day on my knees everyday? Am I having long talks with the Great Counselor about the concerns I face, thanking him for our blessings? Another bold checkmark

Is there dust on my Bible? Have I been reading His word regularly that I may be a better disciple, a soul winner, and a fisher of men? Again, the checkmark.

And last but not least, have I been taking care, serving and loving those downtrodden in our society. Have I cared enough to stop and help someone who needs it, or have I looked at my watch and justified driving on for a lack of time to help. Again, a bold checkmark.

We are not, nor will we ever be perfect in all things, but if we set the bar low in our relationship with the Lord, then we will not grow in leaps and bounds as we want too. Taking stock of my faith and how I am living it is essential if I want to be a better servant to Christ. If we are not bearing fruit as a Christian, then we are off track somewhere, and we must look for the bald tire in our faith and correct it for a straighter walk.

I hope all of you, my brothers and sisters had a wonderful and blessed Christmas, I have missed you. I pray that we will rock this world for Jesus in this New Year, and the ones that follow. As always, God Bless You!

JFT

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What if;

We are a product of our environment, if we are not careful. Many of us have taken to pulling into the garage and closing the door, locking our neighbors out of our lives, our faith and our friendship. When I was recently on a short-term mission trip, I was lucky enough to be working with these great people, all of which I had never met and went to a variety of churches throughout the country. Many of them were retirement age, some were young, and others in-between like me. In meeting them, I was privately impressed with their servant’s hearts and their seeming selflessness. We were talking together as a team in a devotional together one evening when someone suggested we give testimonies, you could see people becoming uncomfortable at the thought, so we did two to three an evening. It was great to then meet all of these people for who they really were, not who I had made them out to be in my mind. One truth I knew, none of them would have been there had they not asked “what if”.

As we worked together I saw the hands and feet of Jesus at work in these people I had just met, and it made me think, What if…………

What if you saw people not for their appearance, but for their soul with its hurts, insecurities and defense mechanisms?

What if we woke daily wondering what we could do for the world, rather than what it could do for us?

What if you mowed your neighbor’s lawn while he was at work, then hid all the evidence so he wouldn’t know it was you.

What if rather than setting boundaries on what you would and would not do at work, you just went in with a servants heart and didn’t worry about a pat on the back?

What if you chose to shovel snow from the walkway of  that neighbor you have never met?

What if instead of telling our kids that they can be president if they choose to be when they grow up, we told then that if they seek God first, they can be guided by the one who created the universe?

What if we choose to comfort rather than to be in comfort?

What if you recommend a co-worker for a promotion that you have wanted, because they need the money more than you do?

What if rather than using the mantra “who ever dies with the most wins” we use the mantra “whoever gives everything away before he dies wins a home in Heaven”?

What if you call or go see that person who wronged you and ask them to forgive “you” because you held a grudge for so long?

What if rather than giving money to a charity, you gave something much more valuable, your time.

The list goes on and on, I could think of things for days that I could do to serve more than I do, but what can I do to put my list in action. I can realize that I am a candle in the wind, my life is short, and it doesn’t matter whether the world remembers me, as long as Jesus does. So think of this.

What if my neighbor is now my friend, and he asks me if he can come to church with me because he was shocked at my kindness, and he wants to know more.

What if my child grows up to be a missionary in China because they know God has put them where they belong.

What if your co-worker is a servant leader because they saw that displayed in you?

As the New Year approaches, ask yourself how your relationship to the Lord can change if you let go of long held opinions and only ask, What if?

God Bless

JFT

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For a proud man, giving up ones sense of self importance is a great struggle. He has worked his life to reach a point of power and influence, building what he thought was a career, a goal that every worthwhile man will pursue, only to find that the ladder has no top rung. So he climbs into infinity, that last rung just out of sight in the low lying clouds that block his view. He reaches a high place, and stops to rest, thinking finally that even though he has not reached the highest rung, he has still climbed higher than most, and that in itself is a huge undertaking. He turns around on the ladder to look back at his path, and is surprised to see that he is alone on this ladder.

He sees that the son he never took time with has fallen from the ladder and is splayed out at the foot, addicted to meth and seemingly lost in life; his heart has a slight twitch. His daughter that he doted on for a few years no longer knows him, and does not desire to spend time with him anymore. His heart has something akin to a small ache when he considers her and all the times he chose to work, ever climbing the ladder instead of attending her gymnastics classes, and later her choir concerts.

He looks farther still and sees his wife, the young girl he once called his soul mate who now lives another life, calling another man her soul mate now. His heart is ripped to the core thinking about how she always tried to make time for him and her to do things together, and he chose to work instead, saying that once he reached the next landmark in his career, they would get away, but they never did.

He sees no God in his life, when people cared enough to share their faith he would always find a reason to reject it. Those same people are now in their golden years and are happy, maybe he should have listened. He turns and looks up at the ladder going into the clouds, and decides to stop, and wonders if it is too late to change course. He reverses course and begins to climb back down the ladder, determined to humble himself to his son, and daughter, to ask forgiveness and check out that God thing. He descends.

In my quest to crush pride, I have learned a few things. To humble oneself before God and the world, you must first decide to deny yourself. Like any person in this world, we all have likes and dislikes, things we are willing to do, and things we refuse to do. Some refuse to clean a toilet because they feel they are above it. Some refuse to change diapers on their children, feigning a weak stomach they allow their spouse to handle that chore. Maybe when someone is rude to you, rather than defend yourself, smile and take it. Regardless of what it is that we feel we are above doing, most people have some things that they just refuse to do. I recently found myself in a place where I was with people who were brothers and sisters in Christ, and I was saddled with chores that I don’t particularly like. Would I pass them on to the people on the team that I didn’t know and be a huge slacker. Or would I just do them, not halfway, but all the way to the best of my ability. Then it hit me like a ton of bricks. The King of the world, the master of all, was humble, he washed feet, he did things that were WAY below what most of us are comfortable doing. In the end, He was humiliated, beaten, stripped near naked and nailed to a cross to die a criminal’s death. And I feel too good to do a simple task assigned to me, kind of changes the way I look at things.

I too have climbed the ladder in my life, have discovered the emptiness in achieving self gratifying success in the secular world. But, as I always believe it is not too late to change as long as my heart beats and I pull in air. I have discovered unsurpassed happiness in humility and service to others, far more happiness than I would ever discover climbing the ladder of career.

So I challenge you, think of those few things that you refuse to do, because you are grossed out by them, or you just really do not like doing them, and do them anyway. As you lament doing the task, think about how Christ performed the tasks he did in service to those he created, and you will find the humility flowing into your soul and the pride and arrogance leaving as you no longer dread it so much.

Proverbs 18:12   Before a downfall the heart is haughty, but humility comes before honor.

Proverbs 21:4  Haughty eyes and a proud heart— the unplowed field of the wicked—produce sin

God Bless

JFT

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