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This is the best Christmas greeting sent to me this year.  It reserves the word “Merry” for those who celebrate the winter solstice.  For what reason should mankind be merry that the Word had to become flesh?

May be an image of drink and text that says 'Now more than ever, we wish for you inspiring moments that renew your spirit, cherished memories with those most dear, abundant blessings for the future that awaits. Thank you for your friendship over the years May your Christmas & New Year echo the HOPE JOY of Jesus. CONTAINS 100% JUICE OIJC 64FL Nutrition Facts 8servings CholestrlOmg 110 Dietery Sugars21g INGREDIENTS: ORANGE JUICE. handcrafted Soljc.com nataliesoj highest sOrTuE 172'

Years ago, to save advertising costs, the promoters of “Merry Commerce” took Christ out of “Xmas.”  Christ has now been restored, if only in the vernacular.

But Evanlogically, has Christ actually been restored to the hearts of people?  This could be aided by changing the name and date Christ’s Birth is remembered:

The Commemoration of Christ’s Birth, held annually on Worldwide Communion Day.

But as it was in the beginning… organized religion opposes change to its centuries-old practices.   Perhaps those who run the business of organized religion could have their hearts softened by a former commercial business practice:  taking something out of Christmas.

Drop the “Merry” for something less gruesome, more befitting honoring our Redeemer for what the Birth of Christ meant… and means.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Facebook friend posted a Christian music video. The comment accompanying this video was, “There's always time to recommit your Christmas to Jesus. How will you make room for Him in your celebration this year?”
 
Yes, there's always time to recommit your Christmas to Jesus. Yet humans often have enough trouble with simple commitment, let alone recommitment. Organized religion is not helpful in this.
 
Nearly 1700 years ago, Christmas was officially set as December 25th. It was hoped this winter solstice feast timing would encourage pagans to commit to Christ.
 
Over the centuries pagan traditions infiltrated Christmas: fir trees, house decorating and gift giving, etc. The Christmas season morphed exponentially, of late, into holiday shopping season. Thus, humans are now overcommitted. For Believers it is worse. They have ONE extra commitment non-believers do not.
 
Leaders of organized religion themselves greet others with a hearty Merry Christmas. If one thinks about this Evanlogically, that greeting is, at best, gruesome. Gaiety toward the impending slaughter to “save our bacon?” Talk about Matthew 7:6!
 
Believers pray, “… lead us not into temptation…” yet that is where organized religion allows them to stray at Christmas. I pray for religious leaders to “…deliver them from evil…” by changing the name of, and date for, the remembrance of this Birth.
 
The real question is, “Will organized religion facilitate believers making room for Him in COMMEMORATING THE REASON FOR THE BIRTH OF CHRIST next year?
 
Reduce the flock’s over commitment. The date to start doing that is October 2, 2022, Worldwide Communion Day.
 
Then the question becomes, “Will the National Council of Churches facilitate believers making room for Him by COMMEMORATING THE REASON FOR THE BIRTH OF CHRIST on October 2, 2022?
 
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My current pastor shared a Christmas poem called: A Funny Thing Happened On The Way to the Manger. If you'd like to view it, just click on the link.

So, I sent Bill the following message:

Was this a parody?  I sensed the meter of the secular poem, “The night Before Christmas.”

Would it be OK with you if this poem were shared with the 1st Evanlogical Church congregation when they Commemorate the Reason for the Birth of Christ?

You could present it yourself!  The Commemoration will be held Sunday, October 2, 2022 in conjunction with Worldwide Communion Day.

 

1st Evanlogical Church of Open Your Eyes, Look Around and Pay Attention.

Located in the forest through the trees.

Seekers of needles in hay stacks welcome.

 

 

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Evanlogical confession.

If you make a grievous mistake, then realize it, shouldn’t you correct it?

Organized religion made such a mistake when it officially set December 25th as Christmas.  This overlapped a pagan feast, now called the winter solstice.

Over the succeeding centuries, Christmas was infiltrated by pagan practices.  Fir trees were incorporated in the 16th century.  Father Christmas arrived in the latter part of the 19th century.

Christmas became commercialized early in the 20th century.  Later “Xmas” was used to reduce advertising costs for merchants.  Near the end of that century, what was now called holiday shopping season expanded.  It now encroaches on the 4th of July.

This 1700 year-old tradition, Christmas, is annually buried under pagan based, secular commotion.  Each year Christians participate in this procession:  a funeral procession that is reburying Christ.

It’s time for Christianity to confess its Christ dishonoring error.  It’s time for Christianity to correct its conduct.   It’s time for Christianity to commemorate, not “celebrate,” the reason that Christ had to be born on earth.  A more Honoring time would be the first Sunday in October – Worldwide Communion day.

 

https://reimaginenetwork.ning.com/members/RichardHSkibaJr

 

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A triolet related to Hosea 6:1–3

A triolet related to Hosea 6:1–3
by Salvatore Anthony Luiso
 
 
Return, and follow on to know the LORD:
And He shall come unto us as the rain.
Come, bow before Him who should be adored:
Return, and follow on to know the LORD.
Come, seek His face; come, be refreshed, restored:
Leave all our sin as loss, take God as gain.
Return, and follow on to know the LORD:
And He shall come unto us as the rain.
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Contrary to congregational opinion, Evanlogicals do not hate December holidays.

 

Christians say that Christ is the reason for the season.  Evanlogicals hear that.  Amen!  Opening their eyes, looking around and paying attention, however, Evanlogicals wonder if the Christian slogan rings True.

 

You better think
When you go out on that shopping spree

Yeah, think
Think about it Evanlogically

 

Christ’s message would come through more clearly if we separated the commemoration of the birth of Christ from the winter solstice holiday shopping season.

 

People at the mall every day
Buying gift cards at the stores
With time getting short, they lose focus

Ah, be careful you don't lose yours

 

We shouldn’t be trying to fool God as to what we’re actually doing this time of year. He can see for himself.

 

You better think

Hanging ornaments upon that tree
Think
Think about it Evanlogically

 

Paraphrasing the Bible, let’s render unto the winter solstice that which is the winter solstice’s.  Then render unto God that which is God’s – on Worldwide Communion day.  That is closer to a possible time of the year for the Birth of Christ anyway.

 

There’s no Scriptural prohibition on shopping for gifts in December or even having parties. Just don’t worship any sun gods.

Then Christians could sincerely wish everybody a merry commerce without any spiritual guilt whatsoever.

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Contrary to congregational opinion, Evanlogicals do not hate December holidays.

Christians say that Christ is the reason for the season.  Evanlogicals hear that.  Amen!  Opening their eyes, looking around and paying attention, however, Evanlogicals wonder if the Christian slogan rings True. 

 

You better think
When you go out on that shopping spree

Yeah, think
Think about it Evanlogically

 

Christ’s message would come through more clearly if we separated the commemoration of the birth of Christ from the winter solstice holiday shopping season.

 

People at the mall every day
Buying gift cards at the stores
With time getting short, they lose focus

Ah, be careful you don't lose yours

 

We shouldn’t be trying to fool God as to what we’re actually doing this time of year. He can see for himself.

 

You better think

Hanging ornaments upon that tree
Think
Think about it Evanlogically

 

Paraphrasing the Bible, let’s render unto the winter solstice that which is the winter solstice’s.  Then render unto God that which is God’s – on Worldwide Communion day.  That is closer to a possible time of the year for the Birth of Christ anyway.

There’s no Scriptural prohibition on shopping for gifts in December or even having parties. Just don’t worship any sun gods.

Then Christians could sincerely wish everybody a merry commerce without any spiritual guilt whatsoever.

Read more…

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What Did Jesus Do?

and what can we do?

by Alan Doswald

 

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds,”

            Hebrews 10:24NIV

 

Several years ago, people had bracelets and bumper stickers that said “WWJD”-what would Jesus do?  It might be better to ask, “What did Jesus do?”  We don’t have to wonder about that.  In His keynote address Jesus told us what He came to do:

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. 

He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Luke 4:18-19NIV

 

James was anointed or set apart by God to do these 4 things:

  1. To preach good news to the poor.
  2. To proclaim freedom for the prisoners.
  3. To bring recovery of sight for the blind.
  4. To release the oppressed.

 

The gospels tell us how Jesus did these things.

 

He preached good news to the poor.  

He shared good news with a despised Samaritan woman that changed her life and her entire community.  He also started his most famous sermon, the Sermon on the Mount with, “blessed are you who are poor for yours is the kingdom of God.”  Luke 6:20NIV  He preached good news to the harassed and helpless-the lost. (Matthew 9:35)  Jesus loves the poor-in fact the first people to hear about Jesus coming were very poor-the shepherds. 

 

He proclaimed freedom for the prisoners. 

Jesus delivered several people that were possessed by demons.  In one town, Jesus freed 2 men from bondage to demons and in doing so, he freed their town from having to put up with them (Matthew 8).  He also freed a woman caught in adultery from a death sentence (John 8).  Even on the cross, he gave freedom to a dying criminal and said he would see him in paradise (Luke 23:43).  Jesus freed those trapped in many types of bondage. 

 

He provided recovery of sight for the blind. 

He healed people who were physically blind (Matthew 9, Mark 8, John 9).  One of them was challenged by enemies of Jesus and said in reply, “one thing I do know, I was blind, but now I see” (John 9:25NIV).  What a testimony!  Jesus also made one man blind, then restored his sight and gave him his marching orders-the Apostle Paul. 

 

He released the oppressed. 

In Mark 1, a leper came to Jesus and asked to be made clean.  Lepers were the most oppressed group in that day-totally excluded from society.  Jesus had compassion on him, touched him and healed him.  By the way, no one touched lepers.  In Luke 7, Jesus forgave and restored a sinful woman, who was oppressed by those around her.  Jesus told her “your faith has saved you, go in peace” Luke 7:50NIV

 

As followers of Jesus what can we do as we follow Jesus and His example?  1 John 2:6NIV says, “Whoever claims to live in Him must walk as Jesus did.”  As children, many of us played “follow the leader”.  Let’s never stop following our leader.  Acts 10:38NIV says that Jesus went around doing good.  We can do that.

 

We can preach good news to the poor.

They’re all around us, even people with lots of money, can be poor in spirit (Matthew 5:3).  Look around you-your family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, fellow students.  Ask God to open your eyes to their poverty.  A few years ago I got to know an elderly man across the street.  In time we became friends and he learned I was a minister.  He asked to be born again and baptized.  Later he told me “this is the moment I’ve been waiting for my entire life.”  It’s good news.

 

We can proclaim freedom for prisoners.

One night, years ago, I got a call from a friend that I knew was an alcoholic.  He was in the hospital and he told me he had been an alcoholic for many years and couldn’t stop drinking.  He asked me if God could help and I said yes.  I immediately took him a Bible and led him to Christ.  God freed him that night and he never took another drink.  I know that it doesn’t always work like that, but God has the power to free people from addictions of all kinds.  We can lead people to freedom.

 

We can provide recovery of sight for the blind.

Blindness is both physical and spiritual.  In 2 Corinthians 4:4NIV it says that Satan blinds the eyes of unbelievers so they can’t see the light of the Gospel.  We can shine our light into their darkness and help the blind to see.  John Newton, a former slave ship captain, wrote a song called Amazing Grace that said “I once was blind, but now I see.”  Do you know people who are blind?

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We can release the oppressed.

The oppressed are those who suffer the consequences of someone else’s sin.  Do you know people who are abused, neglected, bullied, left out, lonely, lost?  You can, help free them from their oppression by simply loving and befriending them.  Every child in school can befriend someone who is lonely and left out-it will change their life.  Even during COVID, people are only a phone call away. 

 

One thing Jesus did that we can’t do is to atone for our sins.  Jesus was called, “the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29NIV).  The Bible says that Jesus would save His people from their sins, which is the very thing that can change our lives forever.  We can follow Jesus and serve others as Jesus did.  Jesus said that He did not come to be served but to serve and give His life as a ransom for others.  Let’s be followers of Jesus and serve others.

“…let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”  Matthew 5:16NIV

 

Read this book>>>

 

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The Folly of Egocentricity

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                                                                          black hole - Hubble Telescope image 

                                                  

                They think the whole world revolves around them! 
                                      
EZEKIEL 38:12 NLT



Rabbi Hillel asked a good question in Ethics of the Fathers:
     “If I am only for myself, who am I?”
     Selfishness runs counter to My will, and isolates you from others.

The earth is not the center of the universe—the Eternal One is.
     Earthly-mindedness is limiting and worrisome.
     Go about your business, ignoring Mine, and you will go spiritually bankrupt.

The sun is not the center of the universe—the Son of God is. 
     The Light of the World illuminates the Way to the Truth of Life.
     The Sun of Righteousness holds everything together, including you.

The north star is not the center of the universe—the Bright Morning Star is. 
     The Creator of the cosmos directs the traffic patterns of the galaxies.
     The Star-Maker inspires hope in the darkest night of your soul.

You are not the center of the universe—I am. 
     Self-centeredness is laughable and sinful.
     Egocentricity breeds lust, impurity, greed, idolatry, anger, and slander.
     Egomaniacs eventually self-destruct—they love themselves to death. 
     Arrogant enough to take a do-it-yourself approach to life?
     Self-righteous to the point of taking center stage and claiming holiness?
     Convinced you are strong enough to handle any problem you may face?
     Smart enough to figure out all the enigmas of the world?
     Bragging you have it made, the world wrapped around your finger?

Christ-centeredness alone is eternally significant.
     Find a nobler purpose—honoring your Savior in all you do.
     Enjoy greater pleasure—celebrating the joy of His company.
     Experience higher power—surviving difficulties by His grace.
     Celebrate greater purity—thinking your Master’s thoughts.

Live His way—beyond yourself.

                                         

                                    (c) Pastor Johnny R. Almond 
                           Day 288,  Gentle Whispers from Eternity 

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Bragging Rights

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                                                      You boasted proudly against me, and I have heard it all!
                                                                                    EZEKIEL 35:13 NLT


When you talk big, you think small.
Are you actually arrogant enough to claim that—
     by your power you have accomplished great feats?
     by your wisdom you have figured out the riddle of the universe?
     by your intelligence and strategy you have conquered the evil one?
     by your hard work you have built a financial nest egg?
     by your rebellion you have found your own way?

Are you really insolent enough to pit yourself against the Almighty?
Are you conceited enough to feel stronger than the Omnipotent Creator?
Are you egocentric to the point of believing you can do-it-yourself?

The essence of sin is attempting to live independently of Me.
     Unchecked pride will cause you to foolishly repeat Lucifer’s folly—
          exalting yourself and claiming to be greater than the Creator;
          trusting your ingenuity instead of the Sustainer of the universe;
          feeling stronger than the One who whispered stars into existence.
     If you strut, you will stumble—if you brag, you will blush—
          if you carry on, you will get carried away.

I am in heaven and you are on earth—keep your words to a minimum.
     Do not multiply words—be quiet and realize that I am God.
     Avoid high-sounding speeches, designed to impress others—
          they do not impress Me!

Thank Me for My unfailing love—My mercy that forgives sin,
     My grace that helps you endure,  My patience that encourages faith.
Worship Me all the time—sing My praises in sunshine and shadow.
     Honor Me with all you are—boast only of the cross of My Son.

If you want to brag, brag about the great things I have done for you.
 

                             9570817875?profile=original 

                                                                           (c) Pastor Johnny R. Almond 
                                                                  Day 287,  Gentle Whispers from Eternity 

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God Given Self-Control

As he admitted to a wrongdoing, the young man said, “I just couldn’t control myself.” Self-control is a difficult thing. It has to do with discipline, and discipline is hard. We live in an out-of-control society and If you don’t discipline yourself, someone else will control you. Thus the importance of self-control. It is similar to a muscle in that the more you exercise it, the stronger it gets. The idea of self-control gains in importance when you realize that if a person can’t control themselves, it is highly debatable if they can control others, thus they disqualify themselves for effective leadership. The Apostle Paul wrote to his young friend, Titus and told him to, “Encourage the young men to be self-controlled” (Titus 2:6, NIV). So, what is there in your life that you need to bring under self-control? It is after all, a God-given ability.

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Someone You Can Fully Trust

                                           

                                 Warner Sallman  Head of Christ 


 

All the people of Egypt will discover that I am the LORD, for you collapsed like a reed
     when Israel looked to you for help and leaned on you.
Like a cracked staff you splintered and stabbed her in the armpit.
She put her weight on you, you gave way, her back was thrown out of joint.

                                         EZEKIEL 29:6-7 NLT


Who or what do you trust?

The world?
     Egypt was once magnificent and powerful—
          superpowers are succeeded by others more powerful.

Sinful pleasure?
     It is never worth the hangover and the heartache.

Prestige?
     Human praise is empty—it can never satisfy your deepest longing.

Possessions?
     Making payments on what you call your own is a long treadmill.

People?
     Place your confidence in mortals and they can disappoint you.

Military forces?
     Aircraft carriers, tanks, infantry, stealth bombers, cruise missiles—
          all are useless means of defense without heaven's shield of blessing.

Riches?
     Obsess over money and someday you will meet someone who has not—
          then you will realize how poor you have grown.

God?
     Every other staff will break and pierce your hand and heart.
     I am the Only Completely Trustable Spot in the entire universe.
     Lean your whole weight on My everlasting arms—relax. 

                                             

                                   (c) Pastor Johnny R. Almond 
                         Day 286,  Gentle Whispers from Eternity 
 

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Bread that Returns to Bless

I spoke recently at a Men’s Breakfast for a nearby church. Present at that gathering was a man who had been a member of a neighboring church where I had served as Interim Pastor thirty-two years previously. Unfortunately, his wife was having memory issues, and it prompted him to share a story with me. A few days earlier he had been going through one of his wife’s purses in an attempt to help her find something, when his hand felt a cassette tape at the bottom of a purse. Removing the cassette, he looked at the writing on the side, which said, “Dr. Crawford’s Sermon” followed by a date. Following a brief “Wow’ and a comment or two from me, he said, “Dr. Crawford. You have no idea how many of your sermons are at the bottom of women’s purses.” This man went on to recall in some detail, another sermon I had preached as his Interim Pastor – 32 years ago. What an awesome encouragement that was to me and a timely reminder that we who preach and teach need never take our presentations lightly. Some who hear us, will remember. The writer of Ecclesiastes was correct, “Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days” (Ecclesiastes 11:1).

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Free book offer: Christ Is All!

"No one can be robbed of his delights whose joy is Christ. Eternal is his gladness who rejoices in an eternal good."
—Augustine of Hippo (354–430), printed on page 32 of Words Old and New: or, Gems From the Christian Authorship of All Ages, by Horatius Bonar
 
     Phil Miglioratti (the curator, coordinator, and administrator of The #ReimagineFORUM) and I have a friend named David Bryant who has served the Lord as an ordained minister and in other ways for over fifty years. Phil has written this endorsement of him:
 
David Bryant is a pioneer of the late 20th century prayer movement.  His work with America's National Prayer Committee awakened congregations across the nation to recognize the priority of prayer in every ministry and activity. His leadership gave rebirth to "concerts" of prayer, opening the way for the cityreaching movement that called the Body of Christ across a community or city to pray in harmony. David's transition to a "Christ is All" message has challenged pastors, prayer champions and church leaders to re-place Christ as foundational and central to the worship, fellowship, discipleship, stewardship, leadership, citizenship of every believer, every congregation. David's tireless, authentically humble, service has been an amazing grace to the Church.
 
     For many years his ministry was known as Concerts of Prayer International, but for almost twenty years it has been known as PROCLAIM HOPE!. One can learn about it at its main website, which is here: http://www.proclaimhope.com/.
 
     Among the books David has written is one entitled Christ Is All!. Its title is a quotation of Colossians 3:11 with an added exclamation point.
 
Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.
--Colossians 3:11 (NIV)
 
     One can learn about this book here: https://davidbryantbooks.com/.
 
     The original version of Christ Is All! has the subtitle A Joyful Manifesto on the Supremacy of God's Son. It was published in hardback, and is available for free in an e-book format here http://readcia.com/ and in an audiobook format here https://proclaimhope.org/audiovideo/christ-is-all-audio-book/.
 
     The revised version of Christ Is All! has the subtitle Join in the Joyful Awakening to the Supremacy of God's Son. It is a condensed version of the original. The original version is 476 pages long--the condensed version is only 176 pages. It is not available in an e-book format nor in an audiobook format, but it is available in paperback.
 
     One can download free resources related to both versions (such as a discussion guide for small groups) here https://christisallbook.com/.
 
     In his ministry—and especially in this book—David seeks to awaken others to "ALL" who Christ is. Being a believer in the importance of his mission, I have purchased and am giving copies of the revised version of Christ Is All! to people who tell me they want and intend to read it.
 
     If you would like to read it, and if you would read it if I gave you a copy of it, you are welcome to request one from me by e-mail, providing your name and a mailing address. Please mention that you learned of this offer from The #ReimagineFORUM @ Discipleship.Network. My primary e-mail address is: crosspurposed@yahoo.com.
 
     I charge neither for the book nor for its shipment. I want nothing in return for it. At present, I have a few dozen copies available. Although I prefer to ship domestically (within the United States), I am willing to consider shipping internationally.
 
     If you would like to get an idea of what the book is like other than by reading what David, I, and others have said about it, I suggest you examine a few of his articles which he has published on the blog of this website of his ministry: https://christnow.com/.
 
     David and I hope that through Christ Is All!, readers will gain a greater, grander, vision of our Lord, and thereby be inspired and invigorated to live in, through, and for Him. It is a book of hope and joy in Jesus.
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PEACE

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The three of them were at the end of their endurance, but they ran on through the thickening trees. They hoped the woods had discouraged their pursuers. Dhanua, who was in the lead, was Malayali and roughly familiar with this part of India. But he did not know where they were now. As they came to the darkest part of the jungle, all three fell on their faces in exhaustion. Their pursuers would eventually find them if they were still on their trail. They heard later that one of their adversaries had been injured in their haste to catch them. The others had little choice, but to carry him back to their village. 

Ihita, who had been in the rear, was first to recover. He tried to revive the others. Thomas, the foreign preacher, who was called an apostle, stirred but did not fully wake. Dhanua did not respond at all. The darkness was getting thicker. It would soon be night. They would need a fire for protection. He searched the woods until he found a small clearing with a large rock. Soon Thomas had revived enough to help gather stones into a circle where they could kindle a small fire. By the time they got the first embers to crackle with flames, Ihita staggered up. They still had a small meat pie purchased at a market the day before. Thomas had some nuts and Ihita had a mashed mango at the bottom of his satchel. They boiled water from a stream and made a hot drink.

They huddled around the flames and sang a hymn that a man in the church on the coast had written. With a simple tune, it spoke of the death and resurrection of Jesus. They each lifted a short prayer of thanksgiving before they cut the pie into three pieces, dividing the rest of the food between them. They would have to find food and clean water in the morning. But what they had was satisfying tonight. As they finished the meal, Thomas asked the others what they loved best about following Jesus. 

Ihita said, “The love of God. I had never heard of such a thing until you came to us.” 

Dhanua nodded and said he enjoyed sharing the love of Jesus with other believers. “We have not seen any since we left the coastal towns, but some may yet accept Christ on this trip.” 

All three were silent for a moment, and then Dhanua said, “We love the peace we have when we travel with you, Thomas. We face hardships and losses. We often don’t know where our next meal will come from. We may soon be attacked by those who think we are their enemies. But when we have a moment to pray together, the peace of our Lord settles on us.”

Thomas said, “Jesus gave us His peace. And while our hearts don’t always understand it, we can rest in Him.”

Ihita said, “It comes from the Holy Spirit that you have taught us about.”

“That is true,” Thomas said. “The Spirit reminds us of God's grace even when things are difficult. By His Spirit, we know Jesus is with us.”

Ihita said, “We sense it best when we are actually with you, Thomas.”

“That is because I saw him after he rose from death. His life has been burned into my memory. To tell you the truth, I almost missed it. I am ashamed of my lack of faith on that first day after He rose. I was so horrified by His crucifixion that I did not want to see anyone. The other disciples gathered to comfort each other. Mary Magdalene had told them He had risen, but that was more than they could understand or believe until they saw Him themselves.

“They were hiding behind locked doors in fear of our own people who had arrested Jesus. Suddenly Jesus stood in their midst. His first words were, “Peace be with you.” He showed them His nail scarred hands and His side that had been pierced by the soldier’s spear. It was important for Him to show them that He was truly Jesus. They wept with joy that night. They sought me out the next day and told me with great enthusiasm that Jesus was alive. They had seen Him face to face. This was more than I was able to believe.

“I told them I would not believe unless I saw the nail prints in His hands. I stamped my foot. ‘Unless I put my own finger in the nail marks and thrust my hand into the gaping wound in His side I will never believe.’

“The other disciples kept me with them, even though I did not share their joy. They still loved me with the Master’s love. About a week later, we were all together when Jesus appeared as before. Again, he said, ‘Peace be with you.’ He turned to me and said, ‘Come here, Thomas. Do you see the nail prints in my hands? Come put your hand in my side. Don't be an unbeliever but believe.’ All I could say was, ‘My Lord and my God.’ Jesus our Lord rose from the grave. We no longer need to fear anything. He pressed that on me so forcefully that the peace that I have is contagious.

“Jesus said to me, ‘Thomas, you believe because you have seen. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.’ I knew that he was sending me to people who would only see Him through my eyes. He assured me of what he told the other disciples. ‘As my Father sent me, I am sending you.’ Great peace flows from following His purpose for our lives. We begin to see difficulties and opposition as merely efforts by the enemy to distract us from what Jesus has sent us to do.”

 

This story was based upon events recorded in the 20th chapter of the Gospel of John.

 

Lord Jesus, in these uncertain times we need the peace of your life and purpose in us.

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WHO IS TRUTH

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Justinian, the servant of Pontius Pilate, rose in the middle of the night to accompany his master to the private baths belonging to the Ponti family. He was used to Pilate not being able to sleep. It began sometime before Tiberius recalled him in anger from the Province of Syria over the Samaritan fiasco. It did not surprise Justinian when Pilate’s sleep problems continued here in Rome, even though Tiberius had died before they reached the capital. The hot bath waters often calmed Pilate enough to allow him to sleep some.

Torches were still lit in the bath house when they arrived. Probably another servant had left them burning in case Pilate came in the night. The fires heating the water were never allowed to go out. Pilate handed his towel to his servant as he eased himself into the steaming pool. When he was settled, Justinian sat down beside him with his tired feet in the water.

After a time of silence, Pilate looked up at Justinian, and the servant sensed that he was about to hear an ominous confidence. “Justinian, you have been with me all these years. And you know I have not been myself for some time.” Justinian was noncommittal in spite of the familiarity of his master’s tone. Pilate continued. “I need to talk about what has been bothering me. But you must promise that you will not utter a word of what I say, even if Caligula carries out Tiberius’s intention to put me to death.”

“You know that you can confide in me, Sir. I have been with you since your youth.”

“I know that. And I suspect you may already guess much of what I have to say. But you could not yet understand the seriousness of what I need to tell someone. And as the gods are my witness, if you reveal even a hint of it, you will wish you could have died a thousand times before you let anything slip.”

“Is it the same thing that has been plaguing your wife?” Justinian ventured.

Pilate winced and nodded. “I suppose it is. But even she does not know the extent of what I have been dealing with. I suppose you have discerned that the disturbance in my mind has little to do with the trouble in my career. I cannot stop thinking about that Galilean prophet.”

“Jesus of Nazareth, The King of The Jews.” Justinian quoted the title his master had fixed to the cross of the condemned man.

Pilate continued, “I had been observing him for some time. He puzzled me from the start. He basically ignored Rome even though attacking their conquerors would have made him more popular with the common people if that were possible. I sent many spies, some of them actually Jewish, to learn what he was about. They came back with the most preposterous stories of miracles that he had done. And yet he seemed to remain a simple man of the people, at least as far as I could see. He even did several things to keep his fame from spreading. Can you imagine that? 

“Until that morning when the Priests brought him to me, I had never seen him face to face. You may not believe this, Justinian, but I was shocked at his visage. He had an amazing dignity even after being flogged and mocked. He possessed innate authority like no one I have ever met. He was certainly the first prisoner I had encountered who did not beg me to spare his life. He seemed to be at peace with everything that was happening to him. I have worked with men, soldiers, and others, all my life. I never saw anyone who struck me like that man. I don’t know how many crucifixions I have witnessed since I first received my commission, and you were a common soldier. No one ever reacted to death like this Jesus. It did not even bother him that the priests had brought him to me because they were jealous. They could not have been around him without feeling they were inferior men. I certainly felt his superiority.”

At this Justinian sputtered a silent protest. Pilate ignored him in his reverie. “Even when the soldiers mocked him by plaiting the crown of thorns, and put on him with a royal robe, he looked majestic. While he was still preaching in Galilee, I told my wife that he was the natural ruler of the Jews. He embodied the righteousness they claimed to admire. When he was brought before me, I asked if he were really the King of the Jews. He asked if that was my conclusion or if I had heard it from others. I had never had a prisoner question me, yet I felt that I had to give him an answer. I had to defend myself before a condemned prisoner! ‘Am I a Jew?’ I asked. ‘Your own people delivered you over to me. What evil thing have you done?’

“He said his kingdom was not of this world. ‘So, you are a king,’ I said. He answered, ‘You have been calling me a king. I was born and I came into the world to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to me.’ I need to tell you, that gave me pause. I thought about truth as opposed to expediency before Rome. I threw up my cynical defense, bitterly asking if anyone knew what the truth was.”

With this Pilate stirred in the bath and seemed to change the subject abruptly. “Do you believe in the gods, Justinian?”

“I am an old soldier, Sir. And I have become cynical of much that I have heard about them. But I suppose I believe in something beyond us, beyond the world.”

Pilate looked at his servant in silence for a moment. Then he looked away and said, “Through the years I seldom gave thought to the gods, or to truth for that matter. I was ambitious and practical, so I paid the expected homage. Of course, I would say, and I suppose I believed, the Roman gods were the true deities, even knowing that we stole them from the Greeks. I despised the petty gods of the provinces where I served. That was no less true in Syria. There I was disgusted with the hypocrisy of the Jews even though I eventually came to understand something of the depth of their laws.

“But when I went back out and declared to the man’s accusers that I found no guilt in him, they said something that stopped me in my tracks. One of the priests stepped forward and said, ‘According to our law, this man ought to die because he has made himself out to be the Son of God.’ Combined with everything else I had seen, this scared me. I went back into the praetorium and asked him where he had come from. And believe this or not, he refused to answer me. “I said, ‘Don’t you know that I have authority to crucify or to release you?’

“He said, ‘You would have no authority over me at all, if it were not given you from above.’ He was not referring to Tiberius. He was talking about his God! After that, I tried to release him. But there was no way I could do it. And I am haunted by the thought that I crucified the Truth. Nothing else has seemed important or even true since that terrible day.”

 

This story was drawn from Pilate’s encounter with Jesus in John 19:1-22.

 

Father, we ask you to bring us face to face with Jesus, your eternal truth.

 

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