Tag Archives: Jesus

Accepting Identity

Accepting Identity_2

Hi there!

In my previous blog post I wrote about how humans like to conform to certain laid down labels and stereotypes for a subconscious sense of belonging. I wrote about my own journey into figuring out which one I fit into, and I must say, putting it all down there was quite … releasing. I didn’t put in everything I had wanted to, but it was okay.

This one is about moving on from there.

You see, in trying to pick an appropriate label, we can sometimes be like the girl who walks around a room, looking at pictures of flowers on the table and trying to figure out which one is the most beautiful. She would learn something, of course, and may find out which of the flowers is the prettiest.

But then, someone opens the day and calls to her. “Hey, girl!”

She replies with a reserved but cute smile. “Hey.”

“What you doing?”

“Looking at pictures of flowers.” She holds up one picture. “I think this one’s quite pretty.”

The person smiles. “Come on outside. You’ve been looking at pictures all this time. I want to show you real flowers. Flowers you can touch, you can smell, you can see in … well, in 3D! You think you’ve seen ‘pretty’? Wait ‘til you see the real thing.”

 

__________

We have lived our whole lives in the room full of pictures.

We’ve lived our lives searching for identity in the options laid out by those that have gone ahead of us. We tack on labels popularized by the media in movies and music and novels and the news, picking those that seem to describe us best. We consider ourselves based on our nationality, our background, our race.

But God comes from outside the room and says, “I’ve got something better for y’all. A New and Better Identity.”

Come out. Let me let you in on this Identity a little bit.

Coming to Christ is like stepping out of the room. We receive a new life with this new identity; a new history, a new future, a new background.

With His blood, Jesus “…purchased men unto God from every tribe and language and people and nation.” (Revelation 5:9) When you buy something from a store it belongs to you, not to that store anymore. It’s no longer called “that shirt on the Top Shelf, Aisle 5, Megabuy Stores”. No, now it’s your shirt. It’s called “my shirt.”

You are God’s own.

He makes you His child with the full identity and rights of a son, an heir of God. Imagine being the heir to Bill Gates estate! Pretty tight, huh? Now imagine being the heir of the Creator of all things. Now THAT’S bigger. MUCH bigger than we can or could ever imagine.

He remains with you forever, and He produces from within you a nature of love, of joy, of peace and serenity, of patience and perseverance. He makes you kind, good, faithful, to not find the need to insist on your own way, and to be self-controlled.

Sounds like the perfect human being. Actually, it’s so much more than that: He’s making you like Himself. That’s much more awesome than being the perfect human being.

The earth and all that is in it is your inheritance, to take care of and to prosper in.

As a child of God, He gives you the ability to heal the sick, to cast out devils, to live supernaturally, and to be an all-round blessing.

That’s what He promises. That’s the new identity He gives.

 

__________

But the girl in our story has grown used to the room. It’s not her fault, though, ‘cause she’s been in there all her life. But now she’s been invited to come out.

“But I’ve never been outside before,” she says.

“I have,” he says.

“What does it look like?”

“It’s … beautiful. There are flowers, lots and lots of flowers. And not just flowers, my dear. Grass, trees, animals! The blue sky, the amazing clouds taking different forms, the water flowing, the breeze in your face … and you can feel it all.”

“I’ve never seen these things you’re talking about,” she says. “I don’t even know if they really exist.”

“They all do! My dear, they are! And it’s all just outside, waiting for you.”

“But…” she crosses her legs as she takes a step backwards. “I’ve been doing pretty well in here. I don’t need to go out there. I’m fine where I am.”

 

__________

We like to hold on to the reality we are familiar with, to the life we are used to, to the things we have seen and experienced. Even the bad memories and painful experiences that we’ve gone through. We want to hold on to it all because, good or bad, they have all contributed in building us into the people we are. In a sense, we see them as a part of us. And as much as we want to let go, we really don’t want to. We are comfortable with them.

We want to stay in the room, while God has a whole world that He’s prepared for us – OUT THERE.

The world we know pales in comparison to the awesome life he offers. We think we are comfortable where we are … but we haven’t even a clue what ‘comfort’ really is.

True comfort can only be found in the one that made us, God.

You know the hardest part? Accepting.

Accepting the new identity that God offers would require giving in. It would require admitting that we were ignorant and wrong in staying in the room of pictures, and that He’s been right all along. It punctures our pride, the shield we’ve given ourselves to building all this time. It shames what bliss we thought we had to think that there is greater bliss beyond, bigger and better, just a door away.

And that’s how we miss out on God’s greatest gifts.

But when we do accept, we realize that we’ve been wrong all along.

When we do accept this Identity that He gives us, we come to know that we’re already accepted. That we’re affirmed and accepted by the Ultimate Dad, who defines fatherhood for all.

There is no more fear of rejection. There is no need to prove anything ever again.

We’ll come out of the room into an awesome new world that makes the room of pictures look like nothing but a mud shack.

It’s a new identity.

And it’s for us all.

For you.

 

__________

“What if I get hurt?” she asks. “Every new picture I’ve seen in here promises something better, but … it never lasts. I’m tired of getting my hopes up.”

“It’s OK. I know. What’s waiting for you outside this room is much bigger and better than you can imagine.”

“I’ve never been outside before.”

“All the more reason to come. It’ll be OK.”

“What if it’s not? What if it’s not everything I’ve hoped it’d be?”

“You can trust me.”

“Why?”

And, with a smile he responds, “Because I made it all.” He stretched a hand out to her. “I made it all for you. You can trust me.”

 

(TO BE CONTINUED)

 

———-

Special thanks to my friend and brother, Joshua Babarinde (author of DONUT) for his suggestions and review on this article. You can read his inspiring writing on his site, HeirWalk.

THE ARCHER

‘For sin shall have no dominion over you, for you are not under the Law but under Grace.’
ROMANS 6:14

Lately my mind has been on archery and the movement of an arrow. For the arrow to go far, the archer must pull its tail and the bowstring in a direction directly opposite to its projected trajectory (just follow, I’m unto something here, don’t worry). With his/her target set on the bullseye, the archer releases the arrow and lets it sail through the air. Its path is influenced by prevailing air currents, physical laws such as the downward pull of gravity, and the material the arrow is made of. All of these forces active, the archer’s attention and input is in that initial pull on the arrow. And he/she fires. If it misses it’s intended target, he/she misses a few points. In ancient Hebrew parlance, this scenario is a ‘sin’ (not in the ‘religious’ sense, just as a term, for now), meaning ‘to miss the mark’.

Our lives can be like that arrow. The Ultimate perfect good life is everyone’s target. But our getting there is influenced by conditions within, conditions around, and the downward pull of the Law of Sin and Death (like gravity), which makes man miss the target. That’s what sin is. But you know what, sometimes we don’t even know the right target. God does.
His intended bullseye for us all is much better than the targets we all want to achieve. It’s called ‘The Glory of God’. It’s a life that’s so awesome, it’s victorious over all spheres of life. It’s the Life of God, Eternal Life, and that’s His target for us all, His Plan for us all. So not only do our arrows fall short of that target (Romans 3:23: All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God), sometimes the life of man may be focused on the wrong target altogether.
That’s a life under the Law of Sin and Death. With an arrow pointed away from the target, it has no choice but to result in ‘sin’ over and over again.

But then God’s Grace…oh, how Amazing this is!
God’s Grace is God’s energy directed towards us, working through us, helping us, making us reach His bullseye! And you know how He exercised it? He did it, like the Archer, by focusing on the initial pull of the arrow in a direction directly opposite to its projected path: to give us Life, He died.
His Death and Resurrection dealt with every single thing that could have held us bound to sin. He made us free from the Law of Sin and Death and gave us a Life that operates under a new law: the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus, i.e. Grace.
So He pulled the arrow (died) and when He released it (resurrected), He rose with us, now we’re in Christ. Identified with Him, we’ve been released with a force so great, no physical laws can stop it. It’s the Power that raised Christ from the dead and set Him far above all principalities and power (Ephesians 1:19-23). And with all those laws silenced, we’re given a Life that reaches God’s intended target for us at all times!
I pray you see and comprehend the depth in this.
This is a Life where sin (missing the mark, and all that could make you miss the mark) has no dominion over you, for you are living a life under the Grace (enablement) of God. It’s His strength, His power, His Life at work in you (Galatians 2:20: I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not I but Christ liveth in me. And the life that I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God Who loved me and gave Himself for me).
Whenever, if ever, you feel weak and these things don’t seem true, if it seems your career or family or academics or any other sphere of life seems not to exhibit this life, look again into what God has done for you in Christ. That’s where your victory lies through all eternity. It’s through His death that we have life.
And your faith in His work is what gives you access into this Life of Grace (Romans 5:2: By [Christ] also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand and rejoice in the hope of the glory of God). It’s established in Scripture that when you recieve this Gospel message, it comes with faith, and you have the faith required to gain access. (Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God…Romans 10:17)

So don’t live life as if it’s one hustle to another that helps you survive. Acknowledge and thank Him for His grace at work in you, assured that He’s the one that taking you forward, closer to Him, closer to where He wants you to be.
Let all you do and all you are be identified in this, and you will see His Grace at work.

🙂

My Statue of Liberty

 

My Statue of Liberty_final2

We sailed for weeks; spent months at sea
With nothing but ocean and sky to see.
Hoping we’d reach our destiny
The land of Hope. Home of the Free.

They say its citizens are live truly free
In that place, life needs no remedy.
It’s where I’ve always wanted to be.
I hope that there’d still be a place for me.

I was below deck when my mate called out to me
“Come out!” he yelled. “Come out ‘n see!
I can feel it beckoning on me?
Is that the monument they call Liberty?”

I reach the deck in a hurry
And see the sign that takes away all my worry
I’m home at last. It’s all been worth the fuss.
For this Statue of Liberty is a Great Big Cross.

My Statue of Liberty_thecross2

GRAVE ROBBER

Grave Robber header

Working on The John 11 Story has been an interesting experience for me. Sure, I’ve known the whole story about Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead for years, but taking it from this new angle was a pretty amazing opportunity. And sure enough, it looked as if God had pre-prepared the story to fit the format in which it is crafted here, with specific lessons to pick from on Love, Faith and Hope. And I love the way it all rounds up on my favorite story: Life over Death.

The first installment, Love, tells of the part when Jesus first heard that Lazarus was sick. He loved his friend so much … that he waited and let him die. I gotta tell you, this blew me away. But that’s what Jesus did, because He knew it was best for His friend. It didn’t matter that others would see it as downright inhuman, He saw the Big Picture and He lived according to that.

The second installment, Faith, shows us a little bit about ‘walking in faith’. It’s an assurance we have based on God’s reality that affects all that we do and how we live. Others may not see into this other reality, so walking in faith may look crazy to them. That’s probably how Jesus must have looked to his disciples and friends back then. With discouragement on the outside it can be quite hurtful. But He held on, not changing His conviction and confession.

And then, it all boils down to the final installment. Hope.

To many, hope means nothing more than a baseless expectation. Some even preach and teach –with the best intentions, I’m sure— that hope is inferior to faith. But they are so wrong.

But Hope is a word very dear to me. It’s entwined in my heart and in all my stories. I see Hope as … uh, like a rope –a sure and steady rope— that keeps us connected to our expectation. It’s like you’ve been on a ship sailing, with nothing but water for miles. Then suddenly, your shipmate yells from the crow’s nest, “Land ho!” Suddenly everyone rushes to the starboard side to catch a glimpse of the land to which we’ve been headed and they turn the ship toward that direction. We can finally see where we’re going. In a sense, we feel connected to that place already because, on the inside, we are finally home.

That’s Hope.

For children of God, we have a sure and steady hope waiting beyond this sea we’ve been sailing all our lives. It’s an anchor in another world, waiting just beyond this one. We know that we are going to still live even after we leave this world. And why will we live? Because we believe in Jesus, the One that is Life Himself. So no matter what we go through in this world down here, everything seems worthwhile. It is worthwhile because the satisfaction waiting for us is much greater, much better, more grand, extravagantly more amazing than anything down here. Such joy, such peace, such fulfillment and satisfaction in that Other World called Eternity.

And because of this Hope we have on the inside, we are connected to our Home. We already experience the joy and peace and life and love waiting beyond. It’s a life rooted in Eternity, and we call it Eternal Life. It flows on our insides like a river, and overflows to bless this world. It’s literally Heaven on Earth … through us. That’s what Jesus was probably talking about when He said that “The Kingdom of God is within you” in Luke 17:21.

We know it’s not a baseless hope because of the One Who has been there already, and made a way for us to get there. His name is Jesus. He died and rose to life so that He could open the portal for all that believe in Him to join Him, so that they can also have Eternal Life. Nothing can beat that. Not even Death.

Ha! Even death is no match for Eternity’s Conqueror.

He defeated Death so that we would not have to fear it anymore (Hebrews 2:15). The fear of death keeps us from living life to the full. It holds men in bondage all their lives until it finally snatches them away. But Death does not ‘snatch’ those who have Eternal Life. It serves them to bring them Home, at the right time. If you believe in Jesus, you need not fear Death any longer.

But Jesus ended all that. He literally dealt with Death, and rose up to life. It’s actually more awesome than the way I described it, but you get the gist, right? Because He is alive, our faith is effective! Because He is alive, we have Hope, a real Hope. Because He is alive, we can go the extra mile for others out of Love. Because He lives.

But then, it did not end there. He did not just defeat Death that day. Something bigger is coming.

 

The Grave Robber is Coming.

Here’s how the Bible describes it.

Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,

In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

1 CORINTHIANS 15:51,52

One day, everyone who believed in Jesus before they died will rise to life and their bodies will become immortal. Death’s very throne room –the graveyard— will be raided instantly, and everyone that belongs to Christ will rise to meet Him and be with Him forever. And everyone who is alive and believes in Jesus will also join them. It would all happen in an instant, ‘in the twinkling of an eye’.

There will be no more death for us ever again. Ever. Forever.

We’ll have finally reached the shore.

———-

That’s part of why I love this Hope, especially since my father went Home a couple of years ago. I don’t talk about it much, I know, but one good thing God brought out of all that is that my attention has shifted from this world to the next. Sure sometimes I get distracted by the holograms of this world and forget my true identity, but my Home –my true reality— is in the next. Nothing fulfils me completely except it’s also rooted in that World. I tell myself, “Oi, if you ever want to see your Dad again, you better be good!” I believe in Jesus. My father also did. Our Hope is in Jesus. And I believe that one day we will both meet together at that Grand Reunion. But I get the feeling that our attention would be taken, not by ourselves, but by the One that got us in this great story in the first place.

Jesus. Eternity’s Conqueror.

So I’m no longer afraid of death because I have Jesus.

But I’m not suicidal, no. I don’t go around looking for death. I just have the confidence to live to the full without being afraid of death. I’ve got the Eternal Life of Jesus Christ in me. He influences how I live, so that I can bring His Light into the darkness around. This is what my life is about. The Hope and freedom that I have in Christ is what I share in my writing and artwork, so that you can see Him in me and come to the Hope we have in Him. You don’t have to fear death any longer.

Jesus is here. He loves you sooooooo much! Yes, He really does. Really.

Come to Him and find Life. Outside Him there is nothing but darkness and gloom and fear and Death.

Have you received Jesus? You can receive Him today.

 

Below are the words to one of my most treasured songs. It’s called Grave Robber, by a group called PETRA, and it explains everything I’ve been talking …uh, ‘writing’ about so far.

 

GRAVE ROBBER

(Based on Hebrews 9:27, John 4:14, 1 Peter 1:24, Romans 8:11, 1 Corinthians 15:26, 51-55, Revelation 7:17)

There’s a step that we all take alone
An appointment we have with the great unknown
Like a vapor this life is just waiting to pass
Like the flowers that fade, like the withering grass
But life seems so long and death so complete
And the grave an impossible potion to cheat
But there’s One who has been there and still lives to tell
There is One who has been through both heaven and hell
And the grave will come up empty-handed the day
Jesus will come and steal us away

(Chorus)
Where is the sting, tell me where is the bite
When the grave robber comes like a thief in the night
Where is the victory, where is the prize
When the grave robber comes
And death finally dies

Many still mourn and many still weep
For those that the love who have fallen asleep
But we have this hope though our hearts may still ache
Just one shout from above and they all will awake
And in the reunion of joy we will see
Death will be swallowed in sweet victory

When the last enemy is done from the dust will come a song
Those asleep will be awakened – not a one will be forsakened
He shall wipe away our tears – He will steal away our fears
There will be no sad tomorrow – there will be no pain and sorrow

 

The day is coming. And everyone will see. Believe in Jesus and receive the life He came to give.

The Grave Robber is coming for His own.

 

We who have run for our very lives to God have every reason to grab the promised hope with both hands and never let go.

It’s an unbreakable spiritual lifeline, reaching past all appearances right to the very presence of God…

HEBREWS 6:18-19

THE JOHN 11 STORY: Hope

<< INTRO

<< Episode One: Love

<< Episode Two: Faith

John 11_hope

And so we got to the tomb. A rock was fixed in place over the entrance of the cave to seal it. And there I saw him. No one else could see him except me. I saw the enemy himself.

Leaning on the gravestone, his hands folded, my foe stared at me through hideous eyes cold from millennia of nothing but darkness. He just stared at me, an ugly sneer playing at his lips.

“It appears we meet again, Son of God,” he said, sarcastically dragging that last part.

So this was the monster that had held man bound for years. The one whose lethal sting festered in the blood of men, bringing them slowly to the grave through sin. This was the one that had kept humanity in chains, in oppression because of sin.

“What do you think you can do here?” he hissed. “Too late to heal this one, so you want to take him out of my hands? Like you did in Galilee? What’s your deal? I have a right to keep them, and you know it. However, you’re too late. It’s been four days. This one’s spirit is long gone.”

Yes, this is the monster that I will defeat on a cross. The last enemy. A painful reminder of what is in store for me.

But I was not there for him. Not yet. I was there for Lazarus. My gaze was set on what lay beyond Death. I would not let him have the final say here. I would not engage him before his time.

I turned to my disciples. “Brothers, take that stone out of the way.”

Martha started at that. “Master, are you—? I mean … he’s … he’s been dead for days! Four days—“

“Martha…”

“His spirit’s gone and I get it that you want some closure – I probably even get that more than you do – but … the stink! He’d be rotten by now.You don’t—“

“Martha, dear Martha … didn’t you hear me say you would see God’s glory if you believe?”

She stared at me, wondering if she should dare believe in what I was implying.

Yes, I dared her to believe, to expect the ‘impossible’. Let hope be rekindled in your dear heart. She stared at the tomb, her mouth agape.

“Go on,” I told my disciples. “Get the stone out of the way.”

They were already pushing the large rock. Behind me the crowd gasped in shock, some in horror. It was downright disrespectful disturbing the dead, they must have thought. To some I must have appeared like a hopeless rebel adamant to see my dead friend’s body one last time. The cold interior was opened. And, sure enough, the putrid odour drifted toward us. The others withdrew behind me. But I kept on staring into the darkness beyond, where my friend’s dead body lay.

“So that’s it?” Death scoffed. “You’re just going to ignore me now?”

Never again will death oppress those that believe in me, and those that will believe. The day will come when I will take all that Death has got for their sake, and dump it all on myself. I will die too, yes. But I will rise again. Death will lose its sting. The grave will lose its victory. That’s my Father’s plan.

“You do know that you are just a man,” Death growled. “All men eventually come to me. Men die. You may have taken three or so from my claws … but who will raise you when you fall into my hands, hmm?”

One man would die for all men to be saved. That would be me. It is all playing out as my Father had said. Death’s biggest mistake would be to take me, the one who is Life.

“I will maim you, and crush you, and destroy you before their very eyes, Son of God.”

See? The winner has already been decided. It is already written.

I lifted my eyes. “Thank You, Father! Thank You because You have heard me! Of course, I know You hear me always. I just said that for the people standing here, so they can believe that You have sent me.”

Some thought I had finally snapped. Death was furious, seething because I gave him no heed.

“I will deal you the worst death ever,” he said.

“LAZARUS!” I called out. “COME OUT!”

You dare take him from my hands—?!“ But then, he vanished. No doubt, with vengeance in his heart.

Death was gone.

The crowd peered into the darkness from a safe distance. In the silence that followed, the passing breeze and the chirping of birds filled our ears. Heavy breathing echoed behind me.

And then there was a scream. Someone had observed movement in the tomb. But then she was not the only one.

“Look! There! Do you see it?”

“See what? Oh, wait … oh my! Oh my—“

“Where? What’s going on?”

“It’s a GHOST!”

“Good God!”

But he was not a ghost. My friend bounded out of the tomb to their screams and cries for mercy. I’ll admit, it’s not every day you see a dead man come to life. He was still bound and wrapped up in strips of cloth so he could barely move. “Quick,” I said. “Someone, unwrap him. Get him out of those … clothes.” They hesitated at first, but then some of my disciples went ahead, the others too scared to come. The sisters held back, crying.

When the sheet from his face was removed we all saw him. Lazarus. Thank You, Father.

The sisters ran to embrace him, crying out loud. The screams of terror turned to cries of joy. The man held his sisters, joy streaming from them. The news was spreading, the grapevine already reaching the village: Lazarus is alive! So many people that doubted before believed now. They had now seen what my Father is capable of.

It was totally amazing as faith rose that day. I saw people trust in God again. Many who had given up on God’s saving power were now filled with faith. They could now see that God could do anything, that He was here for them, and that He had sent me here. They had faith in me. These people were getting set up for the days of the kingdom, after the final battle comes to pass, and is won. They will believe. They do believe.

It does not matter that they may not continue believing. My story is not done.

I will die. I will rise. All who believe in me will be filled with eternal life, and they will never fall into Death’s hands. Death will become my vehicle to victory, and theirs too.

It will be painful for me. Torturous and unearthly for me. So that you can be free.

And the result will be awesome. Everyone who believes in me will be filled with the Life that conquers Death. Yes, everyone— even you!

Ha!

It surely is worth it.

 

‘Whoever has this hope in him purifies himself, just as He is pure’

1 John 3:3 (NIV)

 

———-

[POST-CREDITS SCENE]

In the recesses of the study in this palatial mansion, a group of men meet to discuss. They are leaders and priests, the top in the land. And the high priest sits with his fist on his mouth, deep in thought. A messenger has just arrived with the news.

“Are you certain?” one of them asks.

“Yes, sir,” the messenger says. “I saw him with my very eyes. The man lives.”

“BAH! There must be an explanation,” another says dismissively. “No man can bring the dead back to life.”

“He’d been in that tomb for four days, sir!”

“Do you expect us to believe that this demon-possessed Galilean – a chronic blasphemer– can raise the dead?”

“Well … I, uh—“

“It’s a trick, nothing more. A very costly one. There must be a logical explanation.”

“But his sisters mourned four days. We all saw them—“

SILENCE!”

“Even worse,” another puts in. “With such miracles – or rumors of miracles – this Jesus will have many more people believing in him. They’ll make him some sort of Deliverer. A … a messiah.”

“Some think he’s the Messiah.”

“That could be dangerous.”

“There would be an uprising. They will try to defeat the Occupation.”

“The Romans … they won’t take this lightly. There will be bloodshed. They’ll tighten their control—“

“And we’d be removed from our positions!”

“That … that would not do. For the sake of the people, of course.”

“We must stop this Jesus!”

A very deliberately audible groan from Caiaphas makes them all fall silent. His hand is on his forehead. “You’re all so stupid! Isn’t it obvious what we must do?” He stands, staring them down. “One man dies, and this uprising is no more. One man’s death, and our nation is spared destruction.” The priests warm up to what he’s implying. “He dies … and everyone is saved.”

Truer words have never been spoken, unbeknownst to him.

In the shadows, Death smiles.

It is all playing out as my Father said it would.

Now, more than ever…

…it has begun.

 

THE END?

 

This story is inspired by the eleventh chapter of the account of John Bar Zebedee on the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ, the Son of God.

THE JOHN 11 STORY: FAITH

<<INTRO

<<Episode 1: LOVE

John 11_faith

We did not set out for Bethany until two days later. Lazarus was, no doubt, dead by then. Mary and Martha were in deep mourning by that time.

When my disciples were gathered I told them. “We need to get ready. We’ll be setting off for Judea today.”

To say they were astonished would be like saying the Jordan is wet.

“But, Master … Judea?! They’re out to kill you over there. It’s not safe to go now.”

“We’re just coming from there.”

“Can’t it wait?”

I turned to them. Yes, there were logical grounds for fear in Judea. But fear is never a good option. “Wouldn’t you rather walk in the day, when there’s light?” I told them. “Or would you prefer to walk in the night, when there’s no light? That’s an invitation to stumble.” Besides, I needed to be in Bethany. I wanted to get to my friend.

But they could neither see it, nor understand it. Not yet.

“Our friend, Lazarus, is asleep. I’m going over there to wake him up.” Oh, what a glorious sight it would be. Sickness thought it had its day, but Lazarus would not stay dead.

Andrew perked his ears at that. “Oh, so you’re saying he’s better now?”

“Uh…”

“I mean, if he’s asleep, then he must no longer be sick. He’s alright. That doesn’t require a visit now.” The others nodded in agreement.

“Wisdom is profitable to direct,” Thomas counseled. Interesting. “These times are dangerous in Judea.”

I eventually had to use the ‘D’-word for them to understand what I was saying. I wanted their faith to be strong enough to see these things the way I saw them. But for now, it’s just one step at a time. “Lazarus is dead.” The room fell silent. “And I’m glad that I was not there earlier, for your sakes. You’re about to be given new grounds for your faith.”

The silence lingered for a moment.

“He’s dead?”

I stood. “So it’s settled then. Let’s get ready to tell the others. We’ll leave after lunch.”

I could feel their stares as I walked out of the room.

“He is serious … isn’t he?”

“Does anyone understand the Master these days?”

“You did see him leave the room. He means to leave now!”

“Sometimes I worry about him.”

“He’s been talking about dying and stuff. Now this?!”

“This is trouble, I tell you. Is he suicidal?”

“Don’t say that! You know who he is…”

“OK, alright. But still…”

“We’ve sworn our lives to him.” A loud sigh. “We might as well go and die with him.” That was Thomas’ voice.

I shook my head. Not even my closest friends could trust me on this. They just couldn’t see the Bigger Picture. They however trusted me enough to come along with me.

Looks like it’s just You and me, Father.

—–

For as long as sin has existed, man has been subjected to death and the pain it brings. I’ve seen and felt that pain many times. I should know … my father on earth, Joseph Bar Yacov, died years ago. The pain of separation can be gut-wrenching, from this side of heaven. Death has been holding humanity in its grasp, bringing fear, oppression and despair in its wake.

But there is another side to these things. I am the One that brings life to the dead. There was Jairus’ daughter back in Capernaum; and there was also that young man in Nain. I brought them back to life.

But one day, I will be the death of Death itself … by my own death. It sounds crazy to the human mind now … but the Father knows what He is doing. We know the evil principalities will orchestrate my death, not knowing that they are bringing Life to Death’s very doorstep. It will be painful … torturous … the pain of the punishment for millennia-worth of the sins of men … Sometimes I wonder how I can go through it all. But I trust my Father to give me the strength when I need it.

In many ways, this whole experience reminded of me of my own coming sacrifice. Like Lazarus, I too will die. But I will rise. My friend has been given a front row seat on one of the greatest stories of all.

By the time we approached Bethany, Lazarus had been dead for four days already. We were still about a mile away from the village when I noticed the woman in black coming down the path towards us. Even from that distance I could tell who it was. Martha. The news of our coming had reached her already. I hurried ahead of the others, extending my hands for the embrace. She just stared at me as I approached, her face quivering. She had cried so much, her eyes were red. She willed herself not to cry anymore. With Lazarus gone, she and her sister would be at the mercy of their relatives. At least, that’s what she probably expected. Oh, Martha…

“It’s OK,” I whispered as I embraced her.

“Four days, Master,” she whispered into my shoulder. “Four days. If … if you had been here … my brother would not have died.” I stared into her face. What could I say? I knew waiting would hurt them, but I could not have done otherwise. If only she knew the great miracle waiting ahead. Would she understand? She inhaled deeply. “But I know that God will still give you whatever you ask.”

She still believed in me? Underneath all that pain and hurt, could she see what was really going on? Or did she think God was unfair in granting my requests but not healing her brother? “Your brother will rise again,” I told her.

She avoided my gaze. “I know. I know that he’ll be raised up too at the Resurrection at the end of time, when all the dead will rise—“

“Martha! Don’t be afraid to get your hopes up. You don’t have to wait for the end! I am —right now— Resurrection and Life. Even if they’re dead, if anyone believes in me they’ll live! And everyone who believes in me while they are still alive will never ultimately die. Do you believe this?”

It must have been hard for her, I know, demanding such faith. But it’s the truth. After all this, she would be able to believe in God for anything. That’s what I want. She nodded. “Yes, Master. All along, I’ve believed that you were … are the Messiah, the Son of God come into the world.” She knew and believed all that, but now it probably just felt like nothing but words. Was she reassuring herself? Did she really believe? She inhaled deeply. “Ah … I must go, get the house ready … please excuse me—“

“We’ll go with you—“

But she was already hurrying back into the village, desperate to keep the tears from falling in our presence. It was definitely not going to be easier. There was so much fear and doubt out here. It hurt that my friends had to go through so much pain. Was it necessary?

Father, thank You because in the end … it is all worth it.

“He really is dead, isn’t he?” Peter said behind me.

I turned and nodded. My disciples, the ones that would be my witnesses when all this is over. “For your sakes, I’m happy I waited.”

“You said so before. But…”

“Trust me,” I said. “This is so that you all –everyone— can see what my Father is capable of. Through me.”

We waited for the others to catch up. We had barely left that very spot when Mary came hurrying toward us. Friends and family, all in mourning, accompanied her. Many halted when they saw my friends and I. But my attention was on Mary alone. She did not hide her tears. She had believed in me for so long, and I had not come when her brother was ill. How should I expect her to feel?

She fell to her knees at my feet, crying. “Master! If only you had been here, my brother would still be alive!” No, she was definitely not happy.

“Mary –“

“It’s too late! Now my brother is dead. He died, Jesus. Lazarus is … gone.”

This was more difficult. She was crying. The pain… It was as though we were swallowed by this barrage of wails, as the mourners raised their voices with her. Dear Father…

Father, they’ll know this was worth it in the end. Let their faith be strengthened.

The fear and gloom and despair out there left a bad taste in my gut. Death had left its footprint, and it was a painful sight. Death, you will be the last enemy I will defeat.

I felt a lump in my throat when I asked, “Where was he laid?”

“Master, come and see,” one of the mourners said.

And they led us to the graveyard outside the village limits. It was a bare wasteland that reeked of loneliness and gloom – the opposite of what I have come to give humanity. These were my enemy’s stomping grounds, and my friend had been brought there as its trophy. Just like all humanity.

Lazarus in a grave.

Before I knew it, I was crying. I let the tears fall. I let the sobs turn to wails. Pent up feelings gushed out to the surface in that instant … and I wept. My disciples were troubled to see me cry, but I couldn’t help it. This was man’s lot because of sin’s curse. Death. So far, so opposite from what We intend for them.

But I will end this.

I will surely end this.

It is worth it, Father.

“Aw, he must really miss his friend,” someone said. “See how he loved him.”

They did not know that it was because I loved him that I had delayed my coming.

“Love, schmove! If he really loved him, why couldn’t this ‘Healer’ make his friend well before he died, eh? But call him to make a blind man see and he’ll show up. But for his friend? Meh!”

Not on a day like this. Not adversity now; not today. It will be worth it, my friend. It will all be worth it. You may deny me now, but this is for you too. Your faith will be energized.

No one saw what I was seeing, or expected what I was expecting. But in the midst of the doubt and adversity, the fear and gloom – I held on to my Father’s words.

Lazarus, I’m bringing you to life today.

When we got to the grave I lifted my eyes. “Thank You, Father! Thank You because You have heard me!”

 

To be concluded… in Hope

 

NOTE: I understand that this interpretation of the story may cause some questions. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments. I’ll also share mine. Thanks! 😀

The John 11 Story: Love

<<INTROJohn 11_love 2

We were all refreshing ourselves – that’s me and the Twelve, and many of my other followers— by the banks of the Jordan. I love these guys. Many of them have left their families to follow me. Some have brought their whole families along to join us. These people received the words of life into their hearts like bread, and I hoped that they would digest it. Just like we were digesting the meal we were eating at that moment. And it was a very refreshing one, I remember, especially after hours of teaching.

Andrew brought a young man to me. “Master, this is Ethan,” he said. “He brings news from Mary and Martha in Bethany.”

I recognized Ethan from the brief times we spent in Bethany. “Peace be to you, Ethan.”

“And to you, Master.”

“All the way from Bethany? You must be exhausted from the journey—”

He shook his head, barely blinking. “Your people have been very kind to me, sir. But I could not eat now, even if I wanted to.”

I nodded. “And why would you not want to?” I noticed the shadow over his features. Andrew knew it too. He had mentioned only Mary and Martha. “And how is my good friend, Lazarus?”

Ethan looked up at me. “That’s why I’m here, Master. Lazarus, your friend, is terminally ill. He needs you. Master.”

And that was the moment. The moment that altered the rest of the week.

Lazarus…

With a word I could have healed him in that moment. Human logic and emotion required me to. I would have loved to. Lazarus. He has been a faithful man, taking care of his parents’ estate since their deaths. No ordinary suitor could take his sisters, not while he was around. And his generosity is overwhelming. His doors are always open to my disciples and I every time we pass through Bethany. Always willing to understand my teachings, Lazarus is a man I am glad to call my friend.

Healing him would bring joy to his sisters. They’ve been troubled long enough because of this sickness.

But…

But I am never alone in these matters. My Father and I go through them together. He knew what was going on. He knew when the foul spirit of sickness took my friend’s body, and His ears were not silent to his cries and those of his sisters. But He had a much better, much Bigger plan.

That was how I knew that Lazarus, my friend, would die.

But the story would not end there. Like I said, We had a Bigger plan:

We would raise Lazarus to life from the dead! 😀

It would be amazing. This would build faith on a grand scale. Especially for Lazarus. He would have a front row seat on Resurrection before most people would. How great his faith would be at the end of all this, for all to see!

This will turn the eyes of many up to my Father, a big boost to their faith. They will see how awesome He is, and what He can do; that He can do anything! They will believe in me, the one He has sent. And my disciples, people like Andrew and even Ethan too, will be stronger witnesses of me and the Life I have come to give.

In the end, this would be best for Lazarus.

But to Ethan, Lazarus was still sick. He still stood there, staring at me, waiting for a response.

“This sickness would not end in death,” I said to him. “But it will be an opportunity for everyone to see how awesome God is, and what He can do. And His Son will be glorified as well.”

“So … you’ll come and heal him then?”

I smiled. ‘Healing’ would not cut it. Just not in the way they were expecting. Ethan bowed and left with a finality, sure that Lazarus would be fine, wondering why I did not follow him.

Mary and Martha would not be pleased at first. Death has always brought pain and despair, especially to the families of those it takes. It would no doubt bring more here. We take no pleasure in that. I am here to bring an end to Death’s tyrannical rule over mankind. But until then, the pain would still linger.

I know there is a glorious end to these things, but the journey to that end would be painful for me and for my friends. For Mary and Martha.

But my Father loves them much more than any human could. The pain and disappointment this death could cause were temporary and inconsequential compared to the Greater Glory waiting beyond this. When God is glorified, what they’ll have is much better than if it were another healing. I loved him too much to settle for that. Something much greater awaited him. There’s a Bigger Picture here.

I love my friend, Lazarus.

And that’s why I waited and let him die…

…For a time.

 

Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. [They were His dear friends, and He held them in loving esteem.]

Therefore [even] when He heard that Lazarus was sick, He still stayed two days longer in the same place where He was.

JOHN 11:5, 6 (The Amplified Bible)

To be continued…in FAITH

 >> and HOPE

 

GANGSTUH WEDDING

NOTE: Hi there! I’ve always wondered how a wedding with a different theme (Rock or Rap, for example) would turn out. So with the idea, I got to work on this, and this amazing story resulted. Hope you like it!

Gangstuh Wedding_final

PASTOR:

Ladies ‘n gentlemen, brothers and sisters

We’re gathered here today to celebrate a new vista

In the life of our homey and his soon-to-be wife

In holy matrimony, they gon’ be together for life

The GROOM stands up front, his face spread out in a smile

As He watches his BRIDE walking up the aisle.

It’s all he can do to keep his joy on the down low

He can’t help it no more; so away he goes:

 

GROOM:

From the day I first saw you, girl, my heart went pom-pom.

I just gotta tell you, baby, that you’re the bomb!

They got the models ‘n divas

They got the stars on TV,

But none of them come close

To your amazing beauty.

You are a precious jewel,

You’re the one I love.

You’re a gorgeous gift sent down from up above

It just blows my mind that you said “Yes” to me

Now I can hold you close to me for all eternity.

BRIDE:            

I used to think that love was something I knew

But that all changed from the very day that you came through

You show me what it means to live

You make me feel so free

That’s why I give myself to you for all…

For all eternity.

“Aw,” the congregation coos

In amazement at the PDA between these two.

The Pastor smiles, taking the time to don his specs

As he studies the programme for what comes up next.

 

PASTOR:

Now we get to the part, according to custom

Where anyone against this marriage gets the chance to bust ‘em

So if you got a good reason, it’s time to holler

Speak now on this matter, or just forget it forever.

 

Heads turn, and all over, there are nervous chuckles

Of course no one’s that silly to take on the debacle

Of ruining this wedding. So, with a sigh of relief

The Pastor shrugs, since there clearly is no beef.

PASTOR:

 Well then—

 

Suddenly the door slams open with a BANG!

In the doorway stands a big man with his gang.

Everyone knows this guy; he’s the kingpin

Of the ghetto’s underworld; he’s got the run on things.

Drug market, pimp hustles, they run on his list.

Gang boss, like a Mafioso … you get the gist.

So with a sinister grin, and a confident strut

He walks up the aisle slowly, and begins to taunt.

 

MAN:

Anymore lovey-dovey, you guys’ll make me puke!

Getting married to this junkie? Man, this wedding’s a fluke!

Get a reality check, Mister! Have you got no clue

‘Bout the whore –yeah, I said it— gettin’ married to you?

 

GROOM:

 What gives you the audacity to call my woman a whore?

In my presence? What’s your deal, man? Who do you think you are?

 

MAN(tips hat):

Donnie de V to the I to the L-L-E

That’s my name. Don’t wear it out. I’m that kind of G.

I’ve had a lot of time to get to know this piece o’ garbage

GROOM:

If you knew what’s good for you, you’d be watchin’ your language.

DE VILLE:

She’s a hack, a sick junkie. Was a part of my ring

Till she lost it, got busted, ended up in cling-cling.

And when she got out, I took her up. Made her clean.

Made her beautiful, I tell you. Made her up like a queen.

All the guys in the hood thought she was a looker.

So we cashed in on it. She became a hooker.

But she pulled a fast one

Held me up with a gun

Took my money, slipped town. She’s been on the run.

I reported to the cops, put out an APB

She’s been wanted by the po-po in every major city.

Got no idea where you found her, but you don’t know her like me.

Ask her if I’ve said the truth, and she just has to agree.

So you see, Mr. Goody, this girl ain’t your type.

She’s a fraud. She doesn’t deserve all this mushy hype.

Go get a proper college chic; from Harvard or Andover

‘Cause with this ghetto-trash, you’re history. Your reputation’s over!

Everyone stares at the BRIDE, and they see it’s true.

From her veiled head to the tips of her Gucci shoes

She’s trembling all over, eyes streaming with tears

Donnie de Ville has pulled the cork on all of her fears.

Did she really think that she would get away with this?

But the GROOM takes the floor. He’s not done with his.

GROOM:

 I know ‘bout all this stuff. It’s not news to me.

But there’s something more I want y’all to come and see.

And before the congregation, he removes his wristbands

To show –(GASP!) We can see ‘em! He’s got holes in his hands!

GROOM:

This was the price that I had to pay.

To get my girl a clean slate. To take her crimes away.

Your thugs did a number on me. Left me for dead.

But that wasn’t the end. Through God, I resurrected.

Every price that she ever owed has been paid for

You’ve got no argument now, Mister. Not anymore.

If you wanna get to her, you’d have to go through me.

‘Cause you got nothin’ on her. Now she’s truly free.

For a moment, it appears De Ville is shocked.

But he shakes his head, clearly refusing to be knocked.

DE VILLE:

She may be out of my hands, but you’ve still got more.

‘Cause your girl knows that she’s still runnin’ from the law.

There’s nothing you can do to end this case.

So the deal with the nails was just a total waste.

GROOM:

 But I’ve already done it all.

For every fine she’s gotta pay, I went and took the fall.

DE VILLE:

But … but, that’s not fair!

 

GROOM:

It’s not your call.

DE VILLE:

She deserves to rot in jail!

GROOM:

Her crime slate is null.

DE VILLE (flustered):

Well, I … I … you can’t do that

She’s mine! She’s a goner! She’s just a…

…a … a… You just can’t do that!

(Audience boos in the background)

GROOM:

You know that didn’t even flow.

You’ve overstayed your welcome here.

Looks like it’s time to go.

Now if you know what’s good for you

You’d be hittin’ the door.

Or I’d just call Security

To sweep you off the floor.

De Ville stares long and hard in hatred at the BRIDE

Who keeps her head down in shame; she won’t dare meet his eyes.

And with a final glance at the GROOM

He snaps his fingers at his gang, and bounces out the room

The congregation cheers in joy, now that De Ville is gone

Looks like the worst part of this wedding is finally done.

But the BRIDE is still shaking, whimpering, and crying

‘Cause they all know about her past now. She wishes she was dying.

 

GROOM:

Don’t cry, my dear. Don’t let ‘im get to you.

BRIDE:

I can’t do this—

GROOM:

Why?

BRIDE:

All that he said was true.

I can’t get married to you.

I’m just not good for you.

My past is filled with crime and scandal and more bad stuff, too.

If you got married to me, my past would ruin you.

And I don’t even know what De Ville’s gonna do to you.

 

GROOM:

I love you, my queen.

I died to make you free.

I live to give you a new life

I’ve paid your every fee.

Your past is over now

As if it never happened.

Don’t let it hold you back from me

My love can never be dampened.

Don’t worry ‘bout the Accuser

De Ville knows he’s a loser.

His day of judgment’s on the way

He’s got Hell’s primo visa.

He wants to keep you from believin’

That my love is real.

But all he’s good at is decievin’

Till he’s had his fill.

But Babe, I truly choose to love you,

No matter what I see.

Your past can’t keep me away from you

It’s just history.

You’re the one for me.

You’re the one I see.

Come, marry me and be with me for all eternity.

The BRIDE’s eyes are filled with tears, but now she can smile

And she just stares into his eyes for … well, a great big while.

There’s not a single dry eye in the building this day.

The Pastor clears his throat. It’s time to get this out of the way.

 

PASTOR:

Do you mind if we continue?

 

GROOM (to BRIDE):

I love you.

BRIDE (to GROOM):

Me too.

PASTOR:

Uh … ‘scuse me. Can we … um … move on.

GROOM:

Please do.

BRIDE (same time):

Please do.

They blush.

PASTOR:

Do you, my brother, choose to marry this woman?

And do you, my sister, choose to marry this man?

To have and to hold, to love and to cherish

Forever and ever … you know the rest of the gist.

GROOM:                                 I do.

BRIDE:                                     I do.

PASTOR:                                 Wotcha say?

GROOM AND BRIDE:              I DO!

PASTOR:                                 You do?

GROOM AND BRIDE:              We do?

PASTOR:                                 What they say?

CONGREGATION:                   THEY DO!

PASTOR:                                 They do?

GROOM:

Sir, please … this has been a long day.

PASTOR:

Oh, I’m sorry. I got a little carried away … excuse me.

(Clears his throat)

By the power that is vested in me

I declare you Man and Wife in holy matrimony.

So you may now, kiss your bride, yada yada yada.

You know the rest. That’s the end. See you at the after-dinner.

 

‘But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners. Christ died for us.

ROMANS 5:8 (NKJV)

A Christmas Chicken … as told by Dude

A Christmas Chicken_astoldbyDude

 

As told by Dude…

It was the night before Christmas, when I spotted the weirdest sight. I was totally minding my own business, you know; just enjoying the moonlight during my occasional evening stroll. Suddenly the silent night was broken by this weird cackle. As I walked on, the cackles like … grew louder. It was just … weird, you know.

I was curious, so I followed the sound. I came upon an abandoned alley and what I saw there just totally blew my mind. Not literally, of course, ‘cause if it did I would not be writing this… Anyway, before me were these chickens – possibly hundreds. Everywhere! I paused when I realized that I hadn’t been noticed, thankfully. What struck me then was their intelligence, ‘cause they were all like facing this stage (but it was really an upside-down bucket). They kept on cackling as if they were waiting for something. And as I listened, it was almost as if I could hear what they were saying. It totally felt like something out of a Disney/Pixar flick.

I gave them names based on how they looked. So, here goes.

Poulson walked over to the makeshift stage. He was a big brown broiler, tall and stocky, who carried himself with authority. Clanging his foot on the stage he yelled over the noise, “Attention, everyone! Attention!” He couldn’t get them to settle down. “KOW-KA-DOODLE-DOO!

The noise reduced, punctuated by some yells. “Hey, keep it down Mister! You’re gonna wake up the humans.”

“Thank you,” Poulson said. “Thank you, one and all. Now, I would first like to thank you all for coming to this special Poultry Convention. It truly is grand to see all of you. Truly birds of a feather … well, multiple feathers. The point being, we are all chickens, and we regard our kin with honour and dignity.”

From the front, Madam Henson squawked, “Get on with it!”

Poulson nodded. “Of course, we all know that tomorrow is Christmas Day –“

“Christmas Day?” Someone screeched.

“Christmas Day?!” As one the crowd became restless, with screams and cries.  Apparently, they dreaded that holiday.

Poulson was frustrated. “Oh, come on! Don’t tell me you didn’t know this was coming!”

“I thought Christmas was last year?!” someone yelled.

“Well, that’s the funny thing about Christmas: it’s kind of an ‘annual’ sort of thing? Why do you think they fed us so much all year?”

“We thought they loved us so much,” Miss Featherly said, gasping like she would faint.

“What do we do?”

Poulson tried to quiet the crowd. “Fellas, fellas! Hold your gizzards! We need to prepare!”

McCluckster leaped forward. “I know what we gotta do, lads!” He bellowed in his Scottish accent. “I says we attack those humans first, before they can attack us, ya!”

“Yeah!” the cry rang out. “Finish them off!”

“Who gave them the right to eat us chickens, anyway?”

“What, they think they’re better than us?!”

Poulson was losing his crowd. “Fellas! We can’t do that! It’s too risky!

“What are ya? Chicken?” McCluckster retorted.

Poulson arched a brow. “As a matter of fact, I am … chicken. But hear me out, this was why I brought us here, to listen to—“

“What?” yelled Otis, a young cockerel that sounded like a black American, as he leaped to the front. “Our last sermon before we are busted into the fryin’ pan? Look, I’ve got my whole life ahead of me. I can’t afford to die.”

“And you most likely won’t!” Poulson said. “You lack the meat the humans want. You’re still young.”

“Oh,” Otis said introspectively. “Lucky for me, then. I get to live! Sorry ol’ chaps … uh … ahem … ‘scuse me.” The others just stared at him.

McCluckster shook his head and stamped his feet, his feathers on end. “Well I’ve go’ a family. My young’uns are still just hatchlings, and I can’t afford to lose their mother … or meself either.”

Poulson waved his feathers. “Elder Hancock wanted to share a few words with us.”

“Oldman Hancock?”

From the way the crowd responded, I knew that whoever Hancock was he must’ve been highly respected. It was then that I noticed him. He was this white cock with saggy eyes and a faded red crest. He was not as big as McCluckster, no, but he looked like he could have been a superhero in his younger days. The chickens moved out of the way as he stepped up to the bucket and faced the crowd.

His voice was deep and gave evidence to his age. “One of our own, Marty Clucker Cling, told of his dream. He dreamt that, one day white chickens and black chickens would cross the road together, and no humans would ask why.”

The chickens all nodded in agreement. “True that.”

Hancock continued, “But nothing brings chickens together like the dread of the looming human holiday – Christmas. For years, I’ve watched many of our own fall at the hand of the human blade at Christmas. I also used to dread Christmas, until I met my friend, Hamster. Hamster was a pig—“

“Hamster?” someone called out.

Hancock paused, clearly not expecting the interruption. “Yes, Hamster.”

“Thought you said he was a pig!”

“Yes. Like I said, Hamster was a pig—”

“Make up your mind, old bird! Was he a pig or a hamster?”

By now the others were raising their voices to silence the critic. I was almost sure I saw Oldman Hancock roll his eyes.

“Anyway,” he continued. “Hamster was a pig, and we both lived on a farm up in Abeokuta. One day, he came up with what I thought was a brilliant idea. ‘Hey,’ he said, ‘that orphanage down the road needs food for their Christmas party. Why don’t we contribute some eggs and ham?’

“I loved his idea, and I told him that. He added, ‘For you, it’s just a contribution. But for me, it’s going to be sacrifice.’

“I didn’t get it until Christmas Day. We got some of the hens in our barn to donate their eggs, and they gladly gave them to the orphanage. They also got ham, so everyone was glad. I didn’t realize it until I noticed Hamster was missing. You see, he had given himself so that they could have ham.”

Hancock bowed his head to hide a tear. “That’s what Christmas is all about.”

For a moment the place was silent. Then McCluckster broke the silence. “That just proves it, then! Those humans killed your friend!” The crowd was riled up. “They’re evil, all of them!”

Poulson tried to calm the crowd, but it didn’t work. Hancock raised a wing, and everyone fell silent. “You missed the point. You see, Christmas is about the Maker giving Himself.”

Someone in the front asked. “Are you talking about … the Maker maker? As in the Maker?”

Hancock exhaled and nodded. “Yes, the Maker. The One that made us all. He saw that the humans were held captive by evil itself, and they had become its evil minions. It made them become evil, and doomed. He wanted to pay for all their wrongs and give them a new life. The only way for Him to do that was for Him to become human, so that He could pay for their wrongs by dying. Just like Hamster did for those orphans. He sacrificed himself. Though our Maker rose again.”

McCluckster cocked his head. “I still don’t get it.”

This time Hancock did roll his eyes. “Humans celebrate the day He came, as a little baby, on Christmas.”

Poulson raised a wing. “So it’s not all about killing chickens, is it?”

“Well, we all have different paths. Humans, chickens. The Maker gave the humans the license to eat any animal they’re given as food, with thanksgiving. Including us.”

For a moment, the alley was all silent. I guess you could have heard a pin drop in that moment.

“Oh, that’s just fantastic!” McCluckster broke the silence. ”So the Maker wants a bunch of two-legged meat-eaters to gulp us down their throats, and thank Him?”

“You’re missing the point…”

And the crowd was riled up again. McCluckster were definite about his plot to deal with the humans, and he was not shutting up about it. Poulson was trying to calm the crowd down, and Hancock was simply shaking his head. It was a madhouse out there.

Until one of the chickens turned and yelled. “HUMAN!!!”

As one, the entire convention turned to me, a gasp visible on their faces. Dun-dun-DUUUUNNN! Bummer.

Words fail me to describe the jitters I felt. I grinned sheepishly and waved a little. “Hi?”

McCluckster was the first to scream … in fear. “A human!!! Run for ya lives! It’s everrry chicken ferrr ‘imself! AAAAAHHHH!!!”  He jumped on the spot, shrieking as he ran in circles. He was totally freaking out, you know, and the whole crowd was riled up again. You know, with feathers flying everywhere, and stuff.

The last thing I saw before I ran off was Poulson staring at McCluckster, a smirk on his face. “Chicken,” he said.

 

To this day, I haven’t seen another chicken talking. But, when I’m not there, I’m almost certain they are. It’s totally freakish, you know.

 

Oh, and Merry Christmas in advance to you guys. And, remember, it’s not about the stuff you eat. It’s all about the Son of God, and how He came to earth in the form of a human. I think that was totally cool, you know? Like an undercover mission? God as a man?

Anyway, He snuck behind enemy lines so He could rescue us from sin and death. That’s what we’re celebrating at Christmas.

Thank you for reading, y’all. God bless ya!

One more thing: I must not forget this part. A big shout-out to Emmanuel Presents (weird, right? I mean, who has a last name like ‘Presents’?!) for putting this up on his blog. Thanks, mate.

The Lion ROARS!!!

“Alright, kids,” I announced dramatically as we took another turn along the winding path. “Fasten your safety belts, ’cause now we’re in for the Big One.”
Dan, one of the kids with me, raised a hand, “But Uncle, we’re not in a car. We don’t have safety belts.”
I blinked. “It’s, uh…just a, uh… a figure of speech,” I muttered, hoping none of the kids noticed my failed trial at a dramatic intro. But Tolu, the older brother at fourteen, looked up from his iPhone and smirked. Nothing gets past that kid. Hopefully he’d get something out of today’s fieldtrip. Getting him to talk was always quite a chore.
The day at the zoo had been my idea of a fun time with my sister’s kids during the holidays. It would be another opportunity to show them some of the amazing creatures God had made, answer questions, and provide good conversation starters.
“Are we gonna see the Lion now?” Grace, Dan’s twin, asked.
“Uh-huh,” I nodded.
They cheered. Well, all except Tolu. Hmm…
But I was not moved. We were in for the main attraction, the piéce de resistance — the Lion! Which kid would not like to see a lion?
We were now just beside its cage. With the excitement built up in me, I turned to them. “Who’s the King of the Jungle?”
“The Lion!”
“Yes, though they actually don’t live in ‘jungles’, you know.”
“Yeah,” Dan added. “They live in the Savanna!”
I was impressed. “Where’d you learn that?”
He shrugged. “Lion King.”
Grace put in. “I love how lions have those cool manes around their heads.”
I winced. “Those would be male lions.”
“Like Mufasa?” Dan asked.
I exhaled. How many movies did these kids watch? “Yes, like Mufasa. And Simba too, as a grown-up.”
“Simba!”
“And Sc–” I stopped. Scar wasn’t exactly fan-friendly material for these kids.
So I continued my exposition, to the delight of the twins. I noticed that Tolu was now paying attention. “Lions live in groups called prides. When they go hunting –well, only the females hunt (“The ones without manes?” Grace asked, and I nodded)–, all the antelope and wildebeest have to SCRAM! for their lives, or the lions would eat them up.”
I launched into an account of a shot I’d seen on Animal Planet of a stand-off between lions and a team of rhinos over a waterhole. Perhaps I was a little carried away, but the wide-eyed wonder-filled gazes of the twins kept me going. It took Tolu’s deliberately loud sigh to get my attention.
“Is there something you want, Tolu?” I asked, annoyed at his interruption.
“When do we actually get to SEE the lion, Uncle?”
In spite of myself, I knew the boy was right. Man, I HATE it when he does that! But I needed it, too. I patted his shoulder and smiled. “You’re right, Benny. Let’s go see the Lion.”
Dan and Grace gripped my hands as we approached the cage in silence.
And then we saw it. Through the mesh of the netting, in the darkness beyond, we saw the huge mound of beige flesh reclining. Perhaps it heard our footsteps approaching, for we were suddenly jolted by two tiny glistening orbs that suddenly appeared. It’s eyes. They shone with the reflection of daylight from outside as it stared at us.
A sense of awe and wonder gripped me, making me recall scenes from Narnia when the Pevensies stood before Aslan.
And then it sat up with a grunt echoing in its concrete cell, and took two pounding steps toward the netting.
I could hear Dan whining beside me, “Mummy…mummy…mummy…”
Grace’s grip on my hand tightened.
“It can’t come near us, don’t worry,” I said reassuringly.
I stole a glance at Tolu and he turned to me. I gave him a ‘how-cool-is-this’ look, arching a brow.
He simply shrugged. The ‘I’ve-seen-better’ shrug.
Now I was frustrated. “Oh, COME ON! You–” What would get this kids attention? A spitting contest down the Grand Canyon?!
But I was suddenly cut off by the most ear-splitting sound I had ever heard. It ran down my spine, taking over my being. The kids screamed in its wake.
The Lion was roaring.
We hurried away from the cage, but Tolu remained, frozen at the spot. That KID! I was torn between calming the twins and pulling Tolu away from the cage.
Other visitors to the zoo hurried over to see what was going on.
The roar subsided as the crowd gathered. I grabbed Tolu and yelled in his face, “Are you OK?!”
He had a blank stare for a moment, still shaken. And then he said, “That…was…AWESOME!”
And he meant it too.
That made my day.

Sometimes, we get carried away with how much we know about God. But what we need, what our friends and family need, what this world needs, is to know the Savior Himself, for themselves. It will change them.

There is nothing like standing in the Lion’s roar.
To feel His breath
As it shakes you to the core.
To bask in His Love and His awesome touch
As He soothingly tells you, “I love you very much.”

There’s nothing like knowing God for yourself.
Let them know Him.
He’s the One they need.
😀The Lion and the Lamb