Be Not Afraid!

“For God has not given us the spirit of  fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”                                                                                                      2 Tim. 1:7.

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Perhaps you have heard the humorous description of the lady who could never come to grips with her fears. She confessed that she always felt her worst at the times she felt best, because she knew and dreaded how awful she was going to feel when she felt bad again. Have you ever known that kind of person?

I had a friend many years ago who could never enjoy a beautiful spring day because of the stormy weather he “knew” was just around the corner and would surely strike any day. To the greeting, “Isn’t this a beautiful day, Chuck?” He would invariably respond, “Yeah, but when we get it we’re really going to get it.” Wherever this dear soul was, the aspirin bottle was always within reach, and I don’t recall that he ever had a truly happy day. And he was a professing Christian. Unusual? Not at all. Many Christians today are dominated or noticeably influenced by fears.

To some degree, every person reading these words has been to that barren wasteland called “fear.” And that is exactly what it is: a wasteland. Fear never builds, it never enhances, and it never blooms into anything beautiful. And when fear makes an appearance, it goes about systematically turning everything good into a wasteland. All over the land, day and night, we are fed a super dose of things to be fearful about: fear for our country, fear for our schools, fear for our children, fear of disease, fear of losing a job, fear of not getting a job — fear everywhere and about everything imaginable.

But for the Christian, there is an answer for fear in every phase of our lives. The Bible tells us explicitly that fear does not come from God. The Word calls fear a spirit, and considering its destructive force, it is easy to recognize it as an evil spirit. And since Jesus passed on his authority over evil spirits to the disciples and the believers after them (that’s us!), that translates into our ability to cast fear out and keep it out by exercising that authority. The text Scripture supports this truth by telling us we have been given the spirit of power and love and a mind that is anything but shy. And all of these attributes are part of Jesus! Hallelujah!

One night in the midst of a vicious storm on the Sea of Galilee, the disciples were on the edge of death and screamed out in terror. At His altar of prayer on the mountain, Jesus saw their plight through the all Seeing Eye of God and came to the rescue. God had already made provision for the safety of the disciples, just as He has, through Jesus, made provision for our total salvation; which includes healing, deliverance, provision, and safety. We must set our minds on Him as our total source. We must believe and act on His words that tell us, “Speak to this mountain (of fear) … and as you believe, you will receive.”

Go to work on the fears you are carrying with you. Hear those same words Jesus spoke on the sea as they ring from His throne of intercession, “Be of good cheer. It is I … be not afraid!”

And may the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious unto you. May the Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace. In the Name of Jesus our Messiah, Amen!

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Advent Attitudes

ADVENT WREATH - SHARON BAPTIST“For the coming of the Son of man will be just like the days of Noah. For as in those days which were before the flood, they were eating and drinking, they were marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark. And they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away. So shall the coming of the Son of man be. Then there shall be two men in the field; one will be taken and the other will be left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one will be left. Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming.” Matthew 24:37-42

The four week period before Christmas in the Christian church calendar is known as Advent. The purpose is to underscore and celebrate the Advent-or soon arrival- of the Christ child at Bethlehem. Denominational churches throughout the world, particularly liturgical churches, will recognize this season with special services and programs.

This is certainly a fitting recognition of a great historical event. But our purpose here is to center your attention upon an Advent period not restricted to four specific weeks out of the year, but unrestricted and constant in these last days. It is the Advent of the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ to claim His Bride; and then, after a short season, the return to earth with that Bride to establish His great Millennial Kingdom.

What a day that will be! This time He will not arrive as a baby; He will not be despised, accused, beaten, spit upon and finally brutally murdered. He will be in full regalia as a conqueror, His royal insignia shouting, “Behold, the King of kings and Lord of Lords –before whom every knee will bow!” We are now in the Advent season of His soon return. Do you believe that? If we accept the reality of that statement, it is incumbent upon us to develop and maintain a spiritual attitude that points in that direction. Remember, the scriptures tell us that He is coming for those who are expecting Him. That translates to believing that He is coming, and will appear at any moment!

To help us develop that high level of expectancy and preparation, we are listing thirteen “Advent Attitudes” with applicable scripture references. Read them, study them, absorb them, until they become an integral part of your walk of faith.

1 – Believe His coming: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 This is not a fad or a theory, but a reality and vital part of our faith. This is not a simple statement, it is a promise. All of the promises of God are yes and Amen in Christ Jesus!

2 – Pray for His coming: Matthew 6:10, Revelation 22:20 Intercession for His coming motivates us to a deeper commitment to holiness and service.

3 – Love His coming: 2Timothy 4:8 “…to all those who have loved and longed for His coming.” Are you caught up in the madness of this world, or does the Advent of His coming cause you to fall deeper in love with Him?

4 – Preach His coming: 2 Timothy 4:2,1 The soon return of our Lord for His Bride is a vital part of the message we must declare.

5 – Watch for His coming: 1Thessalonians 5:6 Part of our faith walk includes being awake, sober and full of expectancy.

6- Expect His coming: Romans 6:19,23 Here the Apostle Paul urges us to eagerly anticipate His soon coming, and to welcome the first indication of it.

7-: Mark 13:35; Titus 2:13 The word “looking” as used in this text carries the double meaning of separation and expectation. Re: Hebrews 12:2

8- Wait for His coming: 1Thessalonians 3:5 The margin here reads “…the patience of Christ.” Patiently our Lord awaits the Father’s signal to come after His Bride. We are to manifest that same patience here on earth.

9 – Do not despise His coming: 2Peter 3:3,4 This may sound like a strange statement, but scoffers abound today. Many who professed belief in His coming are cynically asking, “Where is He?” Some do not believe in the Rapture and reject any approach to prophecy. That is “despising” His coming.

10 – Hasten His coming: 2Peter 3:12 Literally translated this reads “expecting and hastening”.

11 – Live in the power of His coming: 2Peter 1:16 The confidence in the soon return of our Lord is not just a spiritual luxury, but a source of real power for daily living and life.

12 – Live His coming: Philippians 3:20 It is not sufficient for us to grasp this truth – it must grasp us!

13 – Be unashamed at His coming: 1John 2:28 We saints must never be ashamed of this truth, or be a shame to it. On that day, many Christians will meet Christ with a saved soul, but so ashamed of their non-works of “wood, hay, and stubble” that they will feel like shrinking away in shame.  We would rather hear, “WELL DONE, MY GOOD AND FAITHFUL SERVANT. ENTER IN TO YOUR REWARD!”

Happy Advent!
A Merry and Blessed Christmas!

A Purpose in Patience

Wait on the Lord, be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart. Wait, I say, on the Lord.”
(Psalm 27:14)

FLOWERS UNDER UMBRELLAAs Ben left his office in lower Manhattan, he followed the usual pattern for Friday and stopped by the little flower stand on the corner to pick up a bouquet for his wife. The stand was unpretentious, and the lady who operated it a study in contrasts of human nature. Elderly, frail looking, shabbily dressed, and yet, a pleasant personality with a perennial smile.

Although Ben had stopped by the stand of the “flower lady” every Friday for months, he had never taken the time to talk to her beyond making his selection. But this time was different; something prompted him to comment.

Every time I come by here you seem to be happy.”

Sure, why not? Everything is good,” she replied.

Well, you mean you don’t have any troubles?”

Oh yes, just like that man walking over there, and you, and everybody, I have troubles. But when trouble comes, I just think about Jesus and Good Friday.”

What do you mean?” Ben asked, somewhat puzzled.

Jesus was crucified on Good Friday, the worst day in the world. But after three days came the greatest day in the world … Resurrection. Jesus rose from the dead and everything was OK. So, when I have trouble I tell Jesus about it, wait three days, and everything always turns out OK for me too.”

Interesting philosophy … “Tell Jesus then wait three days.”

But there is a dilemma here; we are part of a “want-it-now” society that will not wait any length of time for anything. Even the most elementary student of the Word cannot help but notice that our God is just the opposite. He is organized, deliberate, extremely patient, on time, and always successful. Have you ever wondered about the death and resurrection of Jesus, and why the climax of that earthshaking event had to wait until the third day? He died on Good Friday; why didn’t God the Father bring Him out of the tomb the next morning … or even late Friday night?

We must remember that when Jesus died on the cross, only His physical body experienced the phenomena of death. His Spirit lived on and continued to function in the Father’s business. His Father had much for Him to do during the period described as “three days and three nights.”

He told the repentant thief, “Today, you shall be with me in Paradise.” Here is solid indication that upon His Spirit’s separation from His body, at the instant of death – on that day (today), He traveled to Abraham’s Bosom … Paradise, where all the faithful saints of old were peacefully awaiting that moment of fulfillment. They had believed the prophets and anxiously anticipated the coming of the Anointed One, but fell asleep in death before the appointed time. Can you imagine the excitement among those joyful souls, as they saw with their own eyes the vindication of their faithfulness? Then, the Risen One completely emptied Paradise and escorted all of the jubilant saints to heaven. Just think, they will be seated with us at the great wedding feast.

Now, on to the next job.

In 1 Peter 3:18, we are told that His body (flesh) was put to death, but He was alive in the Spirit and (in the Spirit) went to proclaim His victory to the spirits kept in prison. Those who rejected the message of God’s spokesmen, and (v.20) who thumbed their noses at Noah, as the Creator waited patiently for them to repent. All of the deceased unbelievers, now in Hades – the place of torment — saw the Messiah as He presented Himself as a proclamation of His eternal victory and proof that God’s Word was and is true!

And now, one final detail before Sunday morning. Our Lord faced Satan, himself, toe to toe. Undoubtedly the devil thought he had Him, and probably summoned every demon he had to join him in trying to keep the King of Kings in hell. Now, Satan is not stupid, but he does stupid things, and this act ranks as his dumbest move since his rebellion.

In a flash of divine power, Jesus stripped the evil one of every vestige of authority, and as an act of totally disarming him and his hordes forever, snatched the keys of death and the grave from his grip. Satan and his cast fell back in cringing fear, and could not stop the Messiah as he blasted out of the confines of hell and in a flash, returned to His body in the tomb.

And not a moment too soon, for dawn was about to streak across the Jerusalem sky. The Resurrection power of the Holy Spirit was dispatched by God the Father, and Christ the Anointed One, came forth out of the tomb in His glorified body … the First Fruit of many to follow!

It was the third day!

Hallelujah!

Wait three days …

There is a message here that has eluded us far too long: “Wait three days” or “wait until the third day” are simply metaphors for “waiting upon the Lord.” If Almighty God, Creator of all, had reason to wait three days before He brought His Son forth from the tomb, why can’t we trust Him to answer our prayers regardless of the time span? His Word assures us that He is faithful — that our prayers in faith that line up with His will (His Word) are heard and will be answered.

Sometimes the answer comes immediately. At other times, for reasons only He may know, the answer does not manifest until “the third day.”

Listen to the “flower lady.” In faith, tell Jesus about your situation; then wait three days! He has promised everything will be OK!

~~~

 

A Father’s Day Parable

FOLLOWING COVER  photo only
Ted and grandson Kyle

   A young father stepped onto the highway of life, and as he began his journey, he turned to the guide who was accompanying him, and asked; “Is this journey going to be long — and will it be hard?”
    “Yes,” the guide replied. “Your journey will be difficult, and you will grow old before you reach the end of it. But I can tell you that the end will be far better than the beginning.”
    The young father was thoroughly happy. He could not believe that anything could top these years. So he played with his children, swam with them in the pool, and played endless games with them. The sun shined upon them, and life was good. And the young father smiled and said to himself, “Nothing will be more lovely than this!”
    Then the night came, and the storm rolled in. The path ahead was dark and foreboding, and the children shook with fear and cold. And the father drew them close, encircled them in his arms, and covered them with his mantle of love. And the children said; “Oh, Daddy, we are not afraid now, for you are here, and no harm can come to us.” 
    And the father said, “This is better than the brightness of sunlight, for I have taught my children courage!”
    When the morning came, they looked at the hill up ahead, knowing that all of them would have to climb it. The children climbed and climbed and climbed and grew so weary. And Dad was weary too, but he continually encouraged them. “A little patience children,” he would say. “Keep at it; the top is not far now.”
    The children climbed and climbed, and when they finally reached the top, they said: “Daddy, we could not have done it without you!”
    And when Dad laid down to sleep that night, he looked up at the stars and said, “This is a better day than last, for my children have learned fortitude in the face of hardship. Yesterday, I gave them courage; today I gave them strength!”
    And the next day foreboding clouds appeared on the horizon — clouds of war and of hate and evil. The children felt the pressure of it all, and they began to stumble. But the father said, “Children, look up! Lift your eyes to the Light of life!”
    And the children looked up and saw above the clouds the eternal glory of the Heavenly Father — Jesus, the Messiah! With His light He guided and brought them beyond the darkness.
    And that night the father said, “This is the best day of all, for I have pointed my children to the grace and love of God in His Son, our Savior!”
    And the days passed on into weeks, months, and years. The father grew older and slowed just a little. But his children were tall and strong and walked with confidence and courage. When the way became hard and the burdens heavy, they were there to help carry the load, and all experienced the victory together. 
    At last they came to a hill, and beyond the hill they could see a brightly lighted highway and wide open gates glistening with jewels. And father said, “I have reached the end of my journey, and I know for certain that the end is far better than the beginning. For my children can walk alone in righteousness, and their children after them.”
    And the children said, “Daddy, you will always walk with us, even when you have passed through those gates!”
    And the day came when they watched their daddy as he walked on alone, and the gates closed behind him. And they said: “We cannot see him but he is with us still. A daddy like ours is more than a memory; he is a living presence!”

THANK GOD FOR ALL GOOD DADDIES!

~

Power-Points from God’s Word: # 1 – Trust

TRUST - LAKE - GOSPELGIFSLet’s talk about trust; specifically, trust in God and His Word. One of the most important lessons we need to learn in life is that God has a plan for our lives — after we are born again and filled with the Holy Spirit — that supersedes any plan that we may be pursuing. The big lesson to learn here is to “let go and let God”

One of my favorite characters in the entire Bible is David, who in my opinion was one of the greatest men to walk on this earth. He was the greatest of all the kings of Israel, and there was a reason for his greatness: It centered on “trust!”

In his early teen years, the sheep field was David’s church, where he developed a heart for God and trusted Him to the point where virtually everything he touched “turned to gold.” Even bears and lions could not stand up to him. That was his lifestyle — TRUST!

Then something dramatic happened to him one day.  He was summoned from the field by his father, and there was Prophet Samuel ready to pour anointing oil over his reddish blonde hair. As the oil ran down his handsome boyish face, the Prophet announced, “By the direction of Almighty God of Israel, I anoint you the next King over Israel.”

And then came the experience of a lifetime for the appointed shepherd-king — GOLIATH: Two feet taller and 400 pounds heavier than the tallest and heaviest NBA player.

Twice a day for six weeks Goliath instilled frantic fear into the army of Israel — including King Saul. David happened to be visiting his brothers on the battlefield and saw what was going on. Noticing that nobody in the army was challenging Goliath, he rose up and declared, “I’ll take care of him.”

 He approached him with a sling shot declaring ( paraphrased) “You come to me with a big body, a big mouth, and pounds of armor and weapons, but I come to you in the name of the God of Israel, and He will give me your head.“ And God did! David let go and trusted God!!

What about you? Are you trusting — or are you just “hoping so”?  Let’s get out of the “hope-so club” and trust Him. Let go and let God. He will never fail us! GLORY!

~
(Artwork is courtesy of Jim Sutton, GospelGifs.Com)

He Has Made You Whole

(The following article is a guest post by my wife Pamela.  She has been a Bible teacher and worship leader in the Body of Christ for many years, and the Lord often gives her anointed messages to share.  We both trust that this lesson will encourage your faith for healing.  Ted)

“Lord, if thou wilt thou canst make me clean.” (Matthew 8:2). This is what the leper said to Jesus. Then Jesus replied in verse 3, “I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.” This is what we are after: Jesus making us clean and whole.  How did He do it? In this case, He put forth His hand and touched the man as he said, “I will, be thou clean.” And as the leper had asked – Jesus made him clean. How simple and how wonderful! 

This healing work of Jesus is not unlike the work of creation in the beginning. As Hebrews 1:2 tells us, God “hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;”  Also in John 1:3 we’re reminded, “All things were made by Him; and without Him was not any thing made that was made.” I so like it that the writers used the word made. And we know how God madethe worlds: He said, “Light be,” and there was light. He spoke into existence everything that now exists. Just as the Son of God did when he made people well, spoke their healing into existence.

In John 8: 31-32 , Jesus knew that those who were hearing Him were becoming His disciples, so he told them, “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” The only truth there is, is the Word of God. It has within itself the power to make us free. Free from what? You name it. Anything, including sickness, because, Jesus said it is the truth that you know that makes you free – and the way to know the truth is to continue in that Word. Being made free and being made whole are definitely connected. 

In Matthew 9:22 Jesus told the woman who had the issue of blood, “Daughter, be of good cheer, thy faith hath made thee whole. (The word translated “whole” is a Greek word meaning, heal, preserve, do well, save, be whole.) And the woman was made whole from that hour.” Here is a fantastic story! This woman who had had enough of doctors who could not help her, (Luke 8:43 and Mark 5:26) decided that Jesus could and would make her whole. In Mark 5:36 Jesus said, “Daughter, thy faith hath made  thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague.”  Others were also made whole, as in Matthew 14:34-36: In Geneseret men “brought unto him all that were diseased, and as many as touched were made perfectly whole.” ( In Greek – cured, preserved, rescued, saved thoroughly). That is a wonderful added revelation – their wholeness was perfect!

In the case of the woman whose daughter was vexed with a devil, she pressed into Jesus even when he put her off. Finally, Jesus said, “O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.” Thank the Lord for such fast results.

And there were the ten lepers whom Jesus cleansed. They cried out to Jesus for mercy.  One returned to thank Him and Jesus acknowledged that it was his faith that made him whole.(Luke 17:19)  However, in the case of the woman who had the spirit of infirmity eighteen years and was bowed together, Jesus saw her, called her to him and said, “Woman thou art loosed from thine infirmity. And immediately she was made straight, and glorified God.” (Luke 13:11-13) She did not approach Him,  as the lepers did, but He approached her.  How wonderful to know He is reaching out to us – approaching us to loose us from our infirmities! 

In John 5:5-9 Jesus approached the man who had an infirmity thirty-eight years and asked him, “Will thou be made whole?”  When the man said, “While I am coming, another steppeth down before me,” then Jesus knew he wanted to be made whole. Do we want to be made whole? Let Jesus know.

From all of these narratives, it looks as though being made whole was an immediate thing – something that the Lord says and does so completely without delay.  What is more, in Acts 3:1-16, we see His disciples, Peter and John healing the lame man at the temple. In his explanation, Peter says, “And his name through faith in his name hath made this man strong.”(The Greek word here means establish, strength, make strong). Faith is a now word.

As in Abraham’s case God said , “I have made thee a father of many nations.” (Romans 4:17). It was God’s doing altogether, and Abraham did his part: he believed what God said to him without wavering. “He staggered not at the promise of God.” We continue to abide in His Word concerning healing, and we become, “fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.” So like Abraham, we already see ourselves healed just as he already saw himself the father of many nations.

In Romans 5:19 it says, “So by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.” (In Greek “made” means to place down permanently, appoint, be, make, ordain, set) In Romans 6:18, “Being then made free from sin, ye became servants of righteousness.”(In Greek, “made free” literally means to exempt from moral liability, deliver, make free). How long did it take us to be made righteous and made free from sin? How long does it take to get born again? Just as  quickly as it takes for you to believe in your heart and confess with your mouth that Jesus is your Lord and Savior. New birth does not take long. And you are made righteous – made free from sin. So, being made whole from disease or sickness is just as quick.

In II Corinthians 5:21 Paul says, “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.” In Galatians 3:13 Paul states, “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:”  When did God make Jesus to be sin and a curse? Definitely, on the cross. And he made us the righteousness of God and redeemed us from the curse on the cross in Him. Side note: how long did that take? About 6 hours. I say that to reinforce that healing is NOW, just as our salvation which was accomplished 2,000 years ago, is NOW.

Ephesians 2:5-6 says, “Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are savedJ and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:” (In Greek: to take a seat in company with, make sit down together) When did this happen? At the time of His resurrection and/or ascension.  Colossians 1:12-14  further adds, “Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son; in whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:” (In Greek “made us meet” means to make able, qualify) Again, this all took place at Jesus’ death and resurrection. God had us in mind all the time, as Jesus did all the suffering and then the mighty resurrection. It was all accomplished in Jesus.

And so now, believers, be made whole. Jesus is telling you to; Peter and John tell you to; Paul tells you to; and every person today who prays for you or exhorts you in this truth. As we mix our faith with this truth, it becomes reality in our bodies. And from what I’ve learned in my study, it happens immediately. We do not accept discouragement if all symptoms do not leave immediately. After all, it took the fig tree 12-24 hours to dry up. But my goal, beloved, is to receive it immediately and have those symptoms leave as well! Let’s reach that goal together in Jesus’ Name.

The Day I Forgot To Hate

A Short Story
by

Ted Pavloff

(Even though the characters and events in this story
are fictitious, it was born out of my experiences during
combat in the South Pacific Theater during WWII.)

The gray light of dawn was filtering through the dense leafage when we finally pushed our way out of the heavy undergrowth into the small clearing; Corporal Willmet, PFC Conte, and myself. We three made up one of the frequent patrols to probe the eerie stillness of no-mans-land during the bleak hours of night and early morning.

We had sought out this particular clearing many times before (a queer, growth-free patch, isolated in the midst of solid jungle) to comfortably relax with a cigarette and sort out the results of the current trek.

We were a confident trio, and perhaps our gutsy attitude was justified to a certain degree. Encounters with Japanese patrols and snipers were anything but strange adventure, and the fingers of our hands were not ample to count the number of enemy soldiers we had personally annihilated.

The venomous hatred we shared for the Japanese forged us into a natural combination, and we relished every opportunity to satisfy that bitterness by destroying the enemy. We had come to consider the killing of Japs as a sort of game … a release that made the discomforts of war worthwhile.

The usual mixed sounds of the jungle surrounded us this humid morning as we stretched out on the damp turf. There was little reason to suspect approaching danger, and, carelessly, we dismissed the possibility.

Then it happened. They swept out of the jungle from every side and bayonets were pressing against our stomachs before we could touch our weapons. At first I thought it was a nightmare, and it seemed minutes passed before my mind cleared to the realization that I lay at the mercy of the enemy. I should have been terribly frightened, but whatever measure of fear I might have possessed was totally eclipsed by hate, and I could not detect it.

Desperately I wanted to fight back, but there was small profit in inviting certain death. I ordered my companions to lie motionless and hoped the next few moments would bring the break we would need.

I surveyed the Jap soldiers coldly. They were a poorly clad, hungry looking group and, to my eyes, ripe for the sword. The officer in command was extremely youthful looking and clearly the smallest in stature, but his appearance was deceiving.

His orders poured forth with powerful authority, every word emphasized with vigorous motions of his head and arms. The soldiers reacted instantly, and while three bayonets pinned us in a prone position, the remaining troopers hurriedly appropriated the K-rations in our packs.

Then, with a gesture I considered a mocking insult, the young officer tossed several pieces of Japanese currency at my feet, and turned to rejoin his men. It was at this instant he spotted one of his soldiers who had backed off a few paces, raised his rifle, and carefully aimed at my head. With the agility and speed characteristic of the Japs, the officer threw himself at the would-be killer and dropped him heavily to the ground. The hapless offender suffered several solid lashes across his face before he was finally permitted to join his comrades in a hasty retreat from the clearing.

Obviously pleased over the successful display of his prowess, the officer bowed courteously and smiled, then saluted a farewell.

I did not share his satisfaction. The knowledge that my life had been spared for some inconceivable reason was lost in a hatred that made my stomach ache. Vengefully, I hoped for a future meeting … over the sights of my rifle.

During the week that followed we were spared the relentless torture of night patrol, and the day treks were relatively uneventful. Frequently, and often at unexpected moments, I found myself stabbed by spasms of anger that stemmed from the humiliation of having been successfully snared by the enemy. Even though I had not been harmed physically, I stubbornly refused to be grateful. I was furious that I had been captured at all and vowed revenge upon every Jap I could maneuver into firing range.

Revenge was uppermost in my mind that bright afternoon as we trudged through the jungle on a routine patrol. We were advancing in a widely dispersed position, intent upon sweeping as much terrain as possible with a minimum of commotion.

I was advancing slowly in an oblique path toward a peculiar rise of solid rock, when the figure appeared unexpectedly …. I froze. It was a Jap …. Momentarily, I was mystified over his apparent lack of concern about concealing himself, and also the fact that he was unarmed. He was stripped to the waist and the beads of perspiration on his bronze flesh glistened in the bright streaks of sunlight leaking through the heavy foliage. I crouched low as he stepped to a narrow ledge of the rock and looked about him.

Then it hit me like a blockbuster – it was the youthful officer who had captured and humiliated me in the clearing! Ahhh … finally, I thought, we meet again. I gloated silently and promptly began mental preparations to repay a debt I thought to be long overdue. I studied the situation carefully …. I wanted a clean aim. So with unconscious movements of my body, I urged him toward the near edge of the rock.

As if responding to a spoken command, he leaped from the perch and approached a mound of rock directly in my line of vision, then hastily removed a cluster of loose branches and brush from a small hollow in the base of the mound.

I lined up for the kill. I held my breath. Then just as my finger was closing securely around the trigger, my eyes suddenly spotted the crude wooden cross that had been secured in that hollowed out area.

I peered down the long rifle barrel in confused amazement as he dropped to his knees. His right hand raised to his forehead, moved down to his chest, then to his left shoulder, and across to his right – the Sign of The Cross! My hands grew numb and my arms trembled uncontrollably.

I’m not sure exactly how long the moment lasted. But slowly … surely … as surely as I had taken aim at what would have been a sure target, I felt myself lowering that same rifle and letting it slip from my grip. Without any conscious thought, I bowed my head.

I couldn’t account for my reaction. But a miracle had taken place. My fervent, persistent, burning desire to kill the enemy had melted away.

Within a few seconds I relived every detail of the incident in the clearing, when he and his men had captured us, and suddenly the realization hit me: The Jap officer’s actions in preventing my murder and leaving the money were not prompted by secondary motives. This man was a Christian. Painfully, I contrasted these truths with the hatred that fed my incessant drive to destroy the enemy anywhere I found him, and under any circumstances. Tearfully, I surrendered to my shame.

I cannot be certain of the length of time I remained in a state of remorseful meditation, but when I finally raised my eyes, the Cross was again carefully camouflaged, and the officer had vanished. I lingered only a short while. Then I set out to join Willmet and Conte … strangely happy and refreshed … having been set free from the terrible, unbearable burden of hate.

The End

Weekly Photo Challenge – Arranged

This photo is of a Marquetry piece I created many years go.  I saw the picture of this scene with Jesus stilling the storm in a periodical and thought it would make a beautiful piece done in varying colors of wood.  In case you are not familiar with Marquetry, I will tell you that it is artwork in which a picture is formed by designing and cutting out pieces of wood and “arranging” them into the pattern that you want. None of the wood is painted. The work is done with pieces of wood in its original, natural color. I designed this picture free-hand and then drew the design onto the pieces of wood and cut out each piece, “arranging” each one in its appointed place.  I gave this piece to my daughter, and it hangs in her home today. I have always loved working with wood, and I am very happy to know that today many people own Marquetry pieces that came from my woodworking shop.