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Posts Tagged ‘Visions’

In my attempts to understand and work through the hard times that kept coming last week, God put people and answers in my path that has led me to some really key spiritual discoveries. These discoveries are huge, they are something I have battled with all of my life, and have finally found resolution to them, in a very long and winding road that led all the way back to a seven day long migraine headache.

After the first attack, when I answered the Spirits call, and was immediately struck down, I did not recognize it as an attack, much in the way we did not recognize the first plane to strike the world trade center as an act of terrorism but more as just a plane hitting a building. But after the second time when the Spirit called (refer to previous post) and the second immediate attack I knew something was up, something was wrong and I was under attack.

I wrote some of what I was going through in my blog, and you all responded with concern. Larry wrote me an email with some thoughts that sent me down the path of discovery though. He wrote  ” When I state that your migraines (and most migraines) are caused by a demon, this does not mean that you personally have a demon in you because your inner man is filled with the Greater One. And Jesus does not share space with a demon or Satan. (Only unsaved people can house a demon in them.)

 

But instead, it means that somehow a demon has influence over you. I think of it as a string attached to a door into your soul (mind, emotions, memory, etc.) or your flesh. Somehow this demon can pull on the string to open that door at certain times. Usually, the string is attached because of sin or a curse. So, I always tell people to ask the Lord, “Why does this demon have a right to attack me? What have I done? Or is it something that someone else has done which now affects me?”

This is the Holy Spirit’s job to help you and disclose these things to you.

Once, you know why the demon is able attack you, then you can go on the offense.

 

Hmmm, I thought, demons. Well, God uses angels all the time, I certainly don’t expect the devil to be everywhere at once, of course he uses the evil equivalent of angels to get his dirty work done, but how. I am a good person right? But I do have sin, and it got me to thinking, and it caused me to do some self-examination.

I meet with a group of guys once a week, we open up with one another, we share things that we are having issues with, family issues, work issues, spiritual issues, and we hold each other accountable. It works very well, most of the time, we share much of our deepest problems and pains, but one thing that I realized, is that you can only be held accountable for what you share, and if you don’t share something, then you are hanging on to it, and I still had a couple of things I was hanging on to.

To many of the people who know me, I am outgoing and friendly, to my neighbors I am generous and open, to my accountability brothers an open book, but the truth is, they were misled. They thought they were standing in the open vault of my secrets, but on the back wall there was a book case with a false wall, behind it was the door to the real vault where I kept the remainder of my real deep dark secrets. In that vault were the insecurities, the shame of things I had done and still did in secret, the things no one knew about that I had never confessed, and that I had been terrified anyone would ever know about. As my accountability friends would mill about the faux vault drinking their latte’s I would stand in front of the false wall with my arms spread casually over the bookcase, my heart racing the whole time for fear that one of my friends would stumble and fall on the latch that would open the false wall, exposing the real me for who I was, a sinner, not worthy of heaven, not worthy of anything.

Larry’s letter was so clarifying to me, we weren’t being “truly” accountable, I don’t know why, I know we were trying, but I just wasn’t able to open up “that” deep with these brothers. I do trust these men, maybe the problem is all mine, but the simple fact is this, the devil knows me, he knows my sin and he knows my weaknesses. Yes, I have grown over the years, but trust me; the devil was making the most of what he had. Like having a string to a trapdoor that even I was not aware of he was accessing me through my weakness. Unfortunately I found that there were some things that I don’t share with my accountability brothers. Ahhhh, says Satan, gocha, a rift with the believers, something they don’t feel comfortable with.

There are things, not much just a couple that I share with no one and I keep buried deep inside. So it all began to come together, I had wondered how Satan was hitting me so hard when I was a faithful servant of his, and Larry’s clue led me to the conclusion.

It was at the close of day seven of the migraine, and I was exhausted, spent, and my mind was working slowly. My balance is funky these days, so I decided to shave and shower before bed, four fifteen comes early, and I try to cut my “getting ready for work in the morning” time down. As I showered, I was not thinking about any of these things, but instead “do I have fresh jeans and a shirt laundered for work tomorrow” as I soaped up.

This is what I just love about the Holy Spirit, He interrupts, he doesn’t wait, and tap his toe humming a Barry Manilow, Maniloe, Manilo whatever tune? Who cares, I think you know what I mean. He just comes right in, anyway, so I was washing what hair I have left, and I heard a voice in my head, and here are the words that were given to me by the Holy Spirit in the shower. “The Keys to the Kingdom lie with you Jim”. For the first time in my life, I knew exactly what God wanted me to do. In order to stop this demon from torturing my family and I, we needed to treat it like any common household pest, figure out how it is getting in, and then close that door.

For the most part, I am an open book, and am open about my past, my sin, etc. but there is that small little vault that I still keep locked to the world, so it wasn’t too hard to figure out where the trapdoor was that the demons were sneaking in through. The Holy Spirit had told me what I had to do, the “Keys to the Kingdom” (gosh, isn’t that a cool line) were in transparency, because true accountability came “only” with true transparency.

I love my guys, my accountability guys, I really do. I don’t know why I can’t go that extra step, maybe one day, maybe because I am the old guy in the group, I don’t know. When I got out of the shower, I was exuberant, I couldn’t wait to follow through, I texted Larry thanking him for leading me here, to this final answer. I felt the final small hole in my heart begin to fill in as I went out on to my back patio and called Tom. Tom and I have been friends since the fifth grade, we are very close. He lives a couple hundred miles away, but we are closer than ever, he is the best man I know. He is the guy I had chosen, I called him up, and I told him he was the only friend that I felt comfortable really telling everything to, and then I opened the vault, loaded the last couple boxes of dirt onto a dolly, and wheeled them over to the incinerator. When we were finished, I left the Vault open, and I poured cement into the trapdoors, the ones that had been tripping me up for decades, causing guilt for decades, I was closing them forever.

As Christ followers, it becomes cliché to say that we die to self, but last week I feel I did, several times. But the last time I died to self, the new guy doesn’t even feel like the old guy, and I don’t mean only spiritually, I mean physically, I don’t feel like me anymore. You may ask yourself “what’s wrong with this guy that he can take something as simple as a migraine headache and turn it into a battle between the forces of good and evil”, and my answer to you will be, I didn’t, they did. I have asked myself that same question, why me, why now. The answer is God does what He does for a reason, and while it may or may not make sense now, it always does later. I am just blessed, mine makes sense now. So, this post is quite a long and winding road, but in synopsis;

As the Holy Spirit put it, we may all have the “Keys to the Kingdom”,

But first, we must be

Transparent

In order to be transparent, we must first

Open the Vault

While we are in there, we must burn the garbage, empty the vault, and

Seal the Trapdoors

We can’t go it alone, we even need someone more than God, we need a friend.

Be Accountable To Someone

When you close the trapdoors that the devil sneaks into your life through, he will have no secret means by which to ambush you personally. Living “fully” transparent will make you a much more effective soul winner for Christ, no holds barred, All In. Even though I had the migraine last week, I would still have to say that last week was the best week of my life to date. God Bless-JFT

P.S. I would like to give special thanks to my brother, friend, and mentor, Larry Nevenhoven for his wise counsel last week. Without his words, I would not have found my way out of the maze.

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I sat in my room looking out the window, watching the sun race for the horizon, a darker shade of gray already settling down over the scene before me. Night was coming, and with it, another boring evening in my room surfing online, watching TV, or listening to my IPOD.

I can hear my mom and dad downstairs in the kitchen cleaning up after dinner, laughing and talking as they load the dishwasher. I think briefly about going down there and just asking him, but what’s the point? I know what he is going to say. Megan is going, Danny is going, everyone will be there dancing, hanging out and having a good time.

The football game is every Friday night, and most everyone at the school goes. Megan says everyone hangs out on the home team bleachers and cheers the team on. Actually, she says the truth is they only cheer when the parents cheer and draw their attention to the field, most of the time she says they are talking and having fun up in the stands, not usually even really paying attention to what’s going on out on the field. The best part of the football game is hanging out with your friends, the game is secondary.

Every Friday now, all of my friends begin to talk about going to the game, what they are going to wear, what is going on afterwards. After all the home games there is a dance, and week after week, my friends ask me time and time again if I will be there. Week after week, I tell them no, my dad won’t let me go, and week after week they ask me why, and I tell them “because he won’t”. They look at me strangely, and usually let it go, but today was different, Megan wouldn’t let it go, she just kept pecking at me about it.

“Andrew, what is the deal, are you like grounded for life or something” she asked me and waited for an answer? I just stared back at her, not knowing what to say. In case you don’t know, I like Megan!  Actually, I “Really Really” like Megan and would love nothing more than to spend every Friday night for the rest of my life up on the bleachers with her. I love talking to her, I love being with her, I think I love her, and I never run out of things to talk about with her. Never that is, until now.  I’ve got nothing as she stands there looking me in the eyes, waiting for my answer. Finally, I just blurted out “because he won’t, that’s why”.

She looked back at me with concern in her eyes, and said “why, why won’t he let you”? You haven’t been to a game since you started high school, and we only have one more year left after this one, you are missing out on so much fun. I know you want to go, and I want you to be there with me, I want you to be my date, so will you ask him one more time, for me? I leaned up against the wall and considered my response carefully, and then I began slowly, measuring my words.

I looked at her and said Megan, I don’t know what the point in asking is, because his answer is going to be no. Last year, when we had the first home game, I went and asked him if I could go, and the answer was no. He said that he wasn’t comfortable with me going out in a car with other kids driving. Do you remember a few weeks after school started last year, those kids from the next town got in a car wreck and two of them were killed, well that happened the week before the first home game. So my dad said no, he didn’t want me ending up like one of them. That was the last time I asked him if I could go to the game.

Megan looked at me like I was crazy, “you haven’t asked him since then”, and I shook my head slowly side to side. He said no then, he doesn’t want me to go out, he doesn’t want me riding around with other kids, and nothing has changed, so why would I ask him again? His answer was no then, it will be no now, the circumstances have not changed. Why can’t you understand that’s just how it is I ask her? Why can’t you just leave it alone?

She shakes her head in frustration, and says “I think you are making a mistake, unless your dad is a psycho, he loves you and wants you to be happy”, don’t you think he wants you to be happy? Yes, I nod. You have to give him a chance, just because he said no once doesn’t mean he will never change his mind, that was over a year ago. You have grown up a lot in the last year, in many ways you are a lot more responsible than you were a year ago, but you have to give him a chance, so promise me you will ask him Andrew, c’mon now, promise me. I stare back at her, wanting to go, knowing he will say no yet wanting to please her, so I said okay, I promise.

The sun is beginning to turn the thin clouds a fiery red, sunset is beginning, as I stand up and turn away from the window, resigned to keeping my promise. I head down stairs into the kitchen and head towards the den where dad is watching Seinfeld. Hey pops, you got a second, I ask as he pauses the TV, muting George Costanza in mid rant. Sure son, what’s up he asks. Well, I know you are going to say no, but I thought I would ask anyway. Can I go to the game tonight, and the dance in the gym afterwards, and I brace myself for the response. He asks who is going, how late I think it will last, and then shocks me beyond belief and says “Sure, I don’t see why not”, and he fishes out his wallet and extracts a twenty and hands it to me. He hands the twenty to me and says “have a good time son”, then un-pauses the TV again, and George resumes his rant. I bolt for the door, so excited I don’t know what to do with myself; it will be the best night of my life!

Okay, sounds a bit odd for a story, right? A kid knowing his dad will say no, so he doesn’t even bother asking. For a while, I have had some questions concerning prayer going around in my head, and strangely enough, they resemble the story above. We pray for guidance in life, we pray for things like jobs, promotions, and other situational things in addition to people being ill and praying for healing. When I pray for things like this, I always will say that I want God’s will to be done, that I want Him to put me where He wants me. But am I not in fact asking Him to put me where “I” want to be. So there is the quandary, do I pray for my will, or God’s will.

A dear friend and I discussed prayer the other day, and this viewpoint, and his opinion was that God’s will is going to be done no matter what, if your request meshes with God’s will, then you’re in luck. Things are going to be as they are going to be whether you pray about it or not. While I hold this friend in very high regard, I do not agree. If this is the case, God is going to do as He wishes no matter what.

We are in fact encouraged to bring our prayers and protestations to God, He wants to hear from us, and in my opinion, He considers our communications with Him very seriously. The scriptures leave me with the thought that He craves open dialogue with those He has created, and this is why I think so. His Son was sacrificed for us, and God was the one who chose to tear the veil/curtain between us and the Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle. Without tearing the veil, only the priests could enter, only the priests could intercede on our behalf’s, only the priests could talk to Him. He didn’t like that, He tore the veil, He wants to hear from us. The Bible is full of examples where God has granted changes to the course of someone’s life because they prayed about it. Lazarus course was changed, the thief that hung next to Jesus, his course was changed, the woman at the well, her course was changed.

The best way for me to understand my relationship to God is as that of a Father and a child, and if the fathers mind is made up all the time, and is solid and unchangeable, then it is not an intimate relationship they have. I believe there are things that are always going to go according to God’s plan, but I believe there is also much that can be changed, if you take the time to go to Him in prayer. I can’t help but think about the example of faith, and what would be possible if our faith were only the size of a mustard seed. The problem has never been with God not being there, it has always been with getting us to take the time to just talk to Him.

God Bless-JFT

The above story is fiction, written to underscore a point.

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“If you never allow yourself to get into a position where you need to be rescued, then God does not have the opportunity to perform a miracle in your life”. ~The Holy Spirit, whispered to me, 2011.

The three men looked at one another and were calm. There was no temptation to give in to the king’s demands, so they simply replied to him the following.

Daniel 3:16-18

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

I imagine these bold men, Heroes of the Bible to me, and I picture them unsheathing the sword of truth and holding it high, knowing they were drawing a line in the sand before a very powerful and proud king. They had made their stand, there was no more talking needed, the fires were stoked, and they were thrown into a furnace so hot it killed even those who threw them in. But they had something else when they went into that furnace; they had the shield of God. The shield of God is something that comes when you wield the sword of truth and take a stand for what is right, prepared to face the consequences. They didn’t know that they would live through the furnace, but they knew that God was with them. This is one of the Bible stories that sends chills up my spine because had they just given in and bowed before the idol, this would have all been a non issue.

Challenges to our faith, to honesty and integrity still come to us regularly, and if we choose to not take a stand and do what is right, God doesn’t get to perform a miracle in your life, as he did with Daniel and the lions, David and Goliath, and Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. I have been reading a lot lately about faith, and I believe the trust that all of these Bible heroes showed in God was rooted in their deep faith. I truly believe God still performs miracles like those above in today’s world, but we have to trust in Him, we have to be willing and able to un-sheath the sword of truth and hold it high in His name, and then the shield of God will appear in your other hand, and you will fear no more.

I have worked at the same job for almost twenty-two years, and in the last year, I have been “told” to submit reports daily that I feel are less than honest. This is the first time in over two decades that I have ever been told to do something I feel is not right. It first began around last Thanksgiving, and my superiors were hostile when I questioned doing it. You see, it was their boss, a new manager who had started it, and they were afraid to make waves. Long about late February, after much prayer, discussion with my wife, pastor, friends, I made a decision. I had to stand for the right.

I went three levels up, to the new managers boss, and calmly told him that I would not be doing it anymore. I explained that I am a Christ follower, and that I knew that what I was being told to do was not right, and I was willing to leave my job over it, it was a moral issue to me. I felt a sense of peace come over me; I knew God was going to take care of me either way as I drew my line in the sand. The manager calmly told me that he would get with “legal” and have the report changed so that I was comfortable with it. And he did, right had triumphed, and I felt the shield of God surround me warmly.

When we work in a secular world, we sometimes work for people who are accepted as good, decent honest people, yet their moral character is different than ours. They are willing to fudge the numbers, or tell a little white lie on a report and they don’t feel the moral dilemma about it that we as Christians do, such is the case with the young new manager I work with. As time passed, this same issue came up again, although in a slightly different scenario, and once again, I was being told to report falsely. Even my peers this time told me I shouldn’t make waves, it isn’t that big of a deal, just let it go and sign on the dotted line. Exasperated, I returned to the same place I did before, first God, then spouse, and friends and pastor for counsel. The answer was the same, I would rather live in a shack and have a clean conscience that compromise what I know is right for worldly security.

I was calm as I went to work on the fourth of July, and wrote an e-mail to a man I have never emailed before, the man who manages all of the power plants in my company and requested a meeting. I was confident as I walked into the office to meet with this man, because I knew that I had the shield of God around me, and I was wielding the sword of truth. I started the meeting by informing this man that I was a follower of Christ, and that Jesus guides my heart and mind, and that I know what I am being told to do is wrong. I explained to him that I was willing to let it all go for this one issue. He sat and listened, and then he agreed with me that it wasn’t the right thing to do. He assured me that this would all be taken care of as we stood and shook hands. Once again, the shield of God surrounded me.

When I told my friends the story of how this had ended, they told me I was gutsy and brave, that I had stood up in the face of persecution. My reply was that I have never been persecuted, people in China, North Korea, Columbia, Egypt, Iran and many others face persecution, I just stood up for what was right.

The shield of God is an amazing thing, the knowledge that you are being steered and guided by Him, the creator of the universe. Refuse to compromise what you know is right, draw a line in the sand and take a stand for what you believe, and you too will feel this amazing power. If God is for us, who can be against us?

God Bless-JFT

This is a true story

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This is it; this is the last thing on the list he thought as he jumped out of a perfectly good airplane at the altitude of eleven thousand feet. A parachuting instructor was strapped to his back for the tandem jump as he flew towards the earth at breakneck speed. This was so cool; John had always wanted to do this, now he could say he had. A videographer had jumped with them at the same time, and was filming Johns jump and the various expressions of happiness and surprise on John’s face. It was his first, and would be his last.

John had set out to fulfill a “bucket list” of things he wanted to do before he died. You see, John was diagnosed with stage four prostate cancer last fall, and given less than a year. The first six months, he felt nothing, no pain. In fact, he felt healthy as he set out to put a check by all the things he had always wanted to do before he died.

His wife didn’t understand why he wanted to go off about the world checking off this doggone punch card, when he could be at home with his family, but she didn’t stand in his way, and he left. First stop was the Caribbean, he was going to learn to dive, and explore the reefs off of Cozumel and the Gran Caymans. One trip after another, some with friends, some solo until he found himself here, at eleven thousand feet with the final check left to be marked, the list complete.

Riding back to the airport, be pulled the list out and made the check, completing all. He looked over the list, mentally replaying each and every adventure, skiing in the Alps, hiking on the Appalachian Trail, watching a space shuttle liftoff, all things he had always dreamed of, and now had done. He folded the list and placed it back in his jacket pocket, a mildly unsettling feeling coming over him. John had been trying to fill a hole, an emptiness inside by doing this bucket list thing. He figured he deserved to do all of those things, he had worked hard for thirty five years and would now never see retirement, didn’t he have it coming?

That was a month ago, my how time flies he thought as he stared at the ceiling. Soaring through the air like an eagle one month, dying in a hospital bed the next. It reminded John of the television commercial that say’s “life comes at you fast” because it really does. The pain had flooded in two weeks after the parachuting thing and only gotten worse. Sally wasn’t there when he returned from his adventure trip, and he hadn’t seen her since. She was staying with her mother, the kids were at college. He had tried to call her several times, but her mother wouldn’t put her through. “Now John, you have broken this girl’s heart for the last six months while you drained your savings chasing your pursuits, and it has to stop now.”

As he drifted off to sleep in a cloud of morphine, God was kind to him and sent him the sweetest dreams. He remembered having to win Sally back in college, she was dating someone else. He dreamed of their first little tiny apartment. He dreamed of the morning that Sally came in grinning ear to ear and announced that they would soon be three, and how they both laughed, then cried joyfully at the thought of being parents. He dreamed the time when the doctor handed Amber to him for the first time, and he fell deeply in love with his daughter at first sight. He dreamed of sitting at Josh’s little league games and standing up cheering for him when he got a hit. Visions of the four of them camping in the mountains, sitting around the fire ring together blessed his mind. He dreamed about when he had held Sally tight and comforted her when Josh left for college and they became empty nesters, and she wondered what was in store for someone who had spent her life being a mommy, when the kids were gone.

A sharp pain brought him out of his sleep and back into reality again, he looked down at the rolling table that contained his dinner. The bucket list sat at one end folded open. He picked it up and looked it over, somehow all of the adventure had gone from the listings, this list he had worked on for so long now meant no more than a discarded grocery list after a trip to the store. The list was filled with things he had done mostly alone. When had life gotten all about him? He didn’t know, but he felt truly alone, and that hole he had been trying to fill was still there. He wadded the list into a ball and threw it at the trash can at the end of his bed. He then picked up the phone and called Sally’s mother just once more, but this time with a different message. When she answered, tension clearly in her voice, he calmly apologized for the things he had done, how he had harmed their family, and asked forgiveness. There was silence on the other end of the phone and then Sally came on and said hello. Sally was shocked to find out that he was back, and pained to hear that her mother hadn’t told her John was in the hospital, she hurried right over. Over the next two days, Amber and Josh came home from college on emergency leave, and the family spent a lot of time together.

On the evening of the last day, John could no longer talk and felt as though he were being pulled backward out of his own body, he knew it was the end and that he was saved, he just wanted to stay a little bit longer. He looked into the faces of his family and his heart warmed, and all of the precious memories flooded back in, the kids on the trampoline, Sally goofy golfing with him, late night scrabble as a family. He never even thought about how it felt to climb Kilimanjaro or dive a reef, he couldn’t have cared less about the list. He felt a tap on his shoulder and someone he couldn’t see said c’mon, it’s time. He let go and felt himself being pulled into the light and a new and wonderful future.

This Story is Fiction

God Bless-JFT

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A man has his orders, and I have mine. For so many years my wife and I longed for a child, boy, girl, no matter, anything to have, love, nurse, raise. But the answer was no. We began to worry a bit in our thirties because of the clock, then got frantic in our forties and fifties as the clock just plain stopped, it became clear to us that it just wasn’t going to happen, but we had each other and God.

I watched the beautiful love of my youth go from having mild crows feet to becoming gray headed like me, then her face, like mine began to look like a road map as we neared seventy. Although the pain of not being able to have children was always going to be there somewhat, it did seem to wane a bit as we aged. We focused on the crops, keeping up the house, and serving God. We were tempted to be angry with God over the quandary, but decided against it in the end.

As time marched on, Sarai began to feel sorry for Abe, so she took one of her servant girls named Hagar and told her to lie with Abe to conceive him a child, and she did, and she bore him a child named Ishmael. Now God was not happy about this, because they took it into their own hands.

When Abram was a ninety-nine, and Sarai the age of ninety, God paid Abram a visit. He made a covenant with Abram that Abram would be faithful and follow His instructions, and He told Abram that he now had a new name, He was Abraham, and Sarai was also to be renamed, she was to be Sarah. Abe nodded and agreed to God’s terms, but then God lost Abe, He told him that Sarah was going to be a mommy soon, and bear him a son. Abraham lost it, fell to the ground laughing and holding his sides, what an awesome comedian this God was, but God wasn’t grinning, he waited till Abe was done, then went on to tell him to name his son Isaac, and Abraham would be a father to all the nations. Abe asked God to bless his other son, the one he had with the servant, and God agreed. Sarah and Abe were headed for some change.

Flash forward a few years, Abe, old yet still able and strong is walking up a hill with his son, the one God promised for him, the one that he and Sarah had prayed for, cried for, and cherished since his birth. Abe is headed up to the altar with Isaac, this is the hardest walk he has ever taken. His feet feel like lead as he forces each step, the heavy knife hanging from his belt feels a hundred pounds. Why he was told to do this, he didn’t know. He had kept his end of the deal, had kept the commandments, so what was up, why would God tell him to sacrifice Isaac. He had been faithful.

Even when God had told him what to do, he hadn’t argued or questioned God, he had merely  nodded and said okay. He had never voiced his anger and hurt, but had obeyed. As they arrived at the altar, and Isaac’s eyes grew large when the realization came upon him, as Abe brandished the large knife with tears in his eyes, holding his son firmly. God needed this for some reason, and Abraham wasn’t about to say no to the God he had made a covenant with, he raised the knife. Then God stopped him.

It was a test, it was all a test, and Abe had passed, God was pleased. Abe untied Isaac and they rejoiced, and sacrificed a ram that had its horns caught in the thicket. He had his son back, he was happy. He now had the chance to watch him grow into a man, this awful test was over. They loaded the donkeys and prepared to head home, they both missed mom.

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Zahra was at the end of her rope. A lifelong devotee to Islam and Muhammad, she was beginning to wonder why he was cursing her so. The bad news had flooded in on the same night, first that her grandson, the son of her beloved son in who lives with his wife in Tehran is terminally ill, and then the second round began to flow in. Her two daughters had been caught up in a disturbance, and had been killed by the secret police. She could only imagine they had become involved in some type of protest for freedom, but she wasn’t sure.

As if losing your children wasn’t bad enough, the secret police always looking out for themselves came by and forced Zahra to say that her daughters had been killed in an accident instead. They would stop at nothing to appear blameless to the mullah’s and Imam’s who ruled this puppet regime. Despair had set in on Zahra and her situation, why had this happened, her girls were gone forever, and now, the joy of her heart, her little baby grandson would be taken too, what was there left to live for, why bother to wake another day?

The losses were more than she could bear, four times she tried to put an end to her life, but she couldn’t even do that right, and four times she failed. She was hospitalized for clinical depression, and was treated in every possible way, but nothing seemed to help. Hopelessly depressed and clinically sad, she was released back to her life, and the cycle began again.

Then one night, she was invited to a church. She had never been to a church, after all, this is Iran and she is Muslim, but she figured “what have I got to lose, I might as well give Christianity a try”. It was funny, to recap she says she didn’t know anyone there, but God met her there. The pastor gave a sermon, and at the end of the sermon, he gave a very peculiar message, he said “I have a message for someone here in the meeting”.

The pastor then said, “There is a woman here who’s grandson is terminally ill, and the Lord says, I healed him”.  Zahra was shocked, was it possible that this message was for her, could this message from this Jesus have been sent to her? She hurried home and called her son in Tehran to check on her grandson’s condition, only to find that he had taken a turn for the better, he seemed to be improving.  Doctors would later examine him and diagnose him as healthy; the sickness that was killing him had miraculously disappeared. They had no medical explanation, it was a miracle.

Zahra then began to have some questions about her faith. She had always been a devoted Muslim, had always followed the teachings of Islam, but if Muhammad were the final prophet, she questioned, then why did Jesus heal my grandson?

A few nights passed as Zahra contemplated all that had happened, and then one night as Zahra drifted off to sleep, she was visited by Jesus in a dream, He softly told her that He had healed her Grandson from his terminal illness, and that He had healed Zahra as well. As she awoke, she knew the dream was real, it had really happened, she was really visited by Jesus. She had an unexplainable peace, and Jesus had removed her sadness, she was whole again.

Zahra’s life has changed a lot since then; she has committed her life to Jesus and become a Christ follower. This is a quote from her.

“I committed my life to Jesus,” she said. “Since then, I am following my Lord. He saved me from all my troubles and sins. He has given me purpose and hope. I am a witness for all he has done for me.”

God is working all over this world and His number is increasing greatly amongst the persecuted church. Please pray for our brothers and sisters in countries like Iran who must meet secretly to avoid persecution, and please pray for Zahra and her continued growth, and that of her family. God Bless

JFT

This story is true and factual

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We came down to through the tree and rock outcroppings, and I began to relax a little, it looks like the traveling will settle out and become easier, I think to myself, then we clear the thicket and I change my mind instantly. I look out at the large gash on the landscape before me and hold my breath, our work has just begun. One of the porters on the explorer team exclaims, “what a huge valley”. I look over at Him and say “Son, that’s no valley, that’s a canyon”.

The canyon before us was huge, deep, and dark. The bottom was not visible because of its depth and the steep walls. I instantly began to search my mind for a strategy to get across this monster, and then I turned and began to take stock of our equipment. Ropes and climbing supplies would be needed to scale the walls, harnesses and carabineer’s to assist as I began to put together the logistics. After a few minutes of trying to put together a plan, I came to a realization, I needed help, I was over my head.

I turned and called to my partner and co-explorer Tom. Have you seen Jesus, he smiled and pointed my way. I turned and looked to my right and jumped when I saw how close the Guy was to me. He was literally standing right next to me grinning; He knew I hadn’t seen Him. He was always doing that, you would think you were traveling alone, and “Bam” there He was right next to you. “What can I help you with Jim”, He asked? I pointed toward the large canyon and said “why don’t we start with that”. You see, Jesus is a master guide, there is no trail, canyon, mountain peak that is too much for Him. I have used Him on all of them, and He has never let me down. He never fails to surprise me at the ease with which he conquers problems great and small.

I told Him I thought we would need to rope up to get to the bottom of the canyon safely. He walked over and looked down into the maw and began to slowly shake His head, “naw, it isn’t as bad as it looks” He said as he began to point out a trail. The trail He found us wasn’t even very steep, the whole team was able to make it down to the bottom with no problem. As we looked up, I thought to myself, it isn’t as foreboding from the bottom as it is from the top. We walked along the sandy bottom as it curved to the flow of a dry river, this way and that.

I examined the walls looking for a break to begin climbing out on the other side when I finally saw it. It was a slightly technical climb, but I thought we all could make it, considering everyone’s varying experience. I pointed this out to Jesus and he looked up at the wall. He began to shake His head again as He said “naw, I think we can do better than this” and He kept walking. We rounded another bend in the canyon and He pointed ahead and said “there, that is what I was looking for. What do you think?”  I looked ahead and there was a perfect set of steps carved into the side of the canyon walls, no doubt carved by ancient travelers generations before. I stood with my jaw hanging open, speechless at what lay before me. “Sure, looks good to me”  I said as we began to climb out of the canyon.

Later, as we stood at the top on the far side, ready to move on to the rest of our journey, I thought back to the fear and trepidation I had felt when facing this dark and unknown canyon. I thought about how Jesus had just “been there” when we needed Him to guide us through the unknown, and wondered what we would have done without Him. I turned around to thank Him, but He was gone. I asked Tom if he had seen Him, but he hadn’t. The Man was gone, probably off collecting wood for tonight’s campfire. I smiled inwardly at the thought that He was always there when you “needed” Him though.

God Bless

JFT

This story is fiction, written to illustrate a point.

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