Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Safari in the Mist - Part 3

Sometime later they stood upon the top of the cliff, looking across a flat field of waving grasses and short trees, small mud dwellings dotting the landscape. Not far away, in the foggy distance, a mountain peak rose from the plateau. The weather here was significantly cooler than on the plains.

"Again," growled Vic, checking his map, "this is not on the map."

"Again," echoed BA, "this is in the book."

"Well, darn it." Vic snarled, looking down. He removed his pack and started rummaging through it.

"What's the problem, Vic?" BA looked around for danger.

"I have a grass stain on these pants. I really hate this color. Every bit of dirt shows. It's annoying."

BA rolled his eyes. "I don't remember you caring so much about stains. That's a little odd…"

Vic grimaced. "And the stain isn't coming out. He sat down on the ground and rubbed vigorously at his knee.

"Fastidious, perhaps. But this borders on psychotic." BA muttered with folded arms as he stared at his brother.

"It's neurotic. If I were psychotic I'd be hearing voices telling me things."

"Are you?"

"No, just that tiny voice that tells me you're not going to like why I am angry about the stains." Vic straightened, shouldered his pack and started walking. "We might as well walk as I tell you."

BA caught up to his brother and matched steps with him on his left, still not saying anything.
"You recall we made some decent money in the market rise a few months ago?"

BA grunted assent.

"Well, I took it and invested it in a small firm. A good idea, good business plan, nice concept…"


"Stain-proof clothing. I put almost all the money into stain-proof clothing. These pants were supposed to be stain-proof."

BA looked at his pants. "Well, they are holding up well. In the city or for casual wear they probably would be stain-resistant."

"Yes, and we'll get some return on the investment, but they aren't stain-PROOF."

"Well, thank goodness."

"You don't want to make a small fortune?"

"Have one. Love to make another, which is why we're here, as you might recall. But I'm just glad you aren't going bonkers on me. You're a bit too neat for my taste already, and this was putting you over the top."

"Oh." Vic smiled. "I still like clean socks."

BA laughed. "Everyone likes clean socks."

"Sorry about the investment."

"No worries." BA laughed again. "It's only money. We'll just do another adventure."

"Or get lucky on this one." Vic leaned down and picked up a palm-sized rock, squinting at it in the sunlight. The rock disappeared into one of his vest pockets.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Safari in the Mist - Part 2

A few hours later they stared at the cliff face in front of them, covered with small trees and perilous handholds.

"That is certainly not on the maps." Vic frowned and adjusted his Serengeti™ sunglasses.

BA grinned and rolled his shoulders. "But it is in the book. So far, so good. Let's climb." He looked at his somewhat taller, but slightly thicker brother.

Vic grinned. "It would be nice to have the helicopter for this."

"Too far to get here. The logistics just didn't work out. We were lucky to be able to fly the Cessna to within fifteen miles of this place."

"You landed in the water."

BA grinned. "An ideal spot, as long as the hippos leave it alone. And the lake is on the map, as opposed to this cliff." BA shifted his pack and secured it on his shoulders, looking toward the top of the steep slope. "You up for this?"

"Oh, I'll keep up." Vic rolled his shoulders, then stopped and stared at BA's left leg. "Are those the pants I gave you?"

BA looked at his brother from the corner of his eye. "Yeah. What's the deal?"

"Hold still." Vic was pulling a microfiber cloth from somewhere in his vest pockets. He poured water on it and started wiping the back of BA's left calf.

"Hey!" BA jumped back. "What is going on with you?"

"A stain. Your pants have a stain on the back of the calf."

BA just stared mutely.

Vic grimaced. "It's all right. I think it came out." He started to climb the cliff. "Let's go."

"Been too long in the jungle or something…" muttered BA, as he reached upward for a handhold.


Next part, next Wednesday.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Who was that man?

We visited the ruins of the Pool at Bethesda when we were in Israel. 

There was once water there, as well as five porticoes, which are steps with columns. How beautiful it must have been!
John says that a multitude surrounded the pool. We don't know how many, but there were probably hundreds of people seeking healing.

Occasionally, during a certain season, an angel would stir the water and the first one in the pool was healed. The Bible doesn’t contradict the tale of the angel stirring the waters. It does not trivialize it, but states the visitation as simple fact. 

Jesus is there. He doesn’t go down to the water and stir it and say “Everybody jump in!” 

Jesus doesn’t even announce that He’s there. He simply goes up to a man who has been sick for thirty-eight years and asks if he wants to be healed.

Jesus asks that question a lot in the Gospels. He asks it now.

The man misunderstands. He thinks Jesus is talking about the pool and says he hasn’t anyone to help him get there when the water is stirred. Maybe he thinks Jesus will give him a little push.

Jesus heals the man, then tells him to take up his bed and walk. In a lot of stories Jesus heals people and tells them to go home, but in this case He gives no destination.
Who was that man?

Conflict ensued. The man was carrying his bed – on the Sabbath! The Jews were all over that disobedience. They are not saying “Hey, that’s fantastic that you’re healed! Come to my house for dinner.” 

The Jews focused on the infraction of the law instead of looking for the lawgiver.

Intimidated, the man explains that it is an order from the man who healed him, but he doesn’t know his name. Jesus didn’t give him a business card.

The other people around the pool were watching the waters of the pool, awaiting an opportunity to be healed when the Healer himself walked by.

Not a single one said to Jesus, “Hey, could you spare some more of that?”

Nothing says that Jesus was mobbed with more requests for healing.

Jesus finds the healed man in the temple. The man goes off and tells the Jews that it was Jesus who healed him. It must be the same Jews who asked earlier.

Was he ratting out the Messiah? Did he feel he needed to justify why he was carrying his pallet? I would like to think if it were me, I’d just thank Jesus and keep my mouth shut.

You don't need to await an angel to stir the waters.

Jesus is available to all. For more about salvation check the Sagemont site.

God bless you, and have a Happy Easter Sunday.

John 5:2-15 (NASB)
Now there is in Jerusalem by the sheep gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew Bethesda, having five porticoes. In these lay a multitude of those who were sick, blind, lame, and withered, waiting for the moving of the waters; for an angel of the Lord went down at certain seasons into the pool and stirred up the water; whoever then first, after the stirring up of the water, stepped in was made well from whatever disease with which he was afflicted. A man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he had already been a long time in that condition, He *said to him, “Do you wish to get well?” The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, but while I am coming, another steps down before me.” Jesus *said to him, “Get up, pick up your pallet and walk.”Immediately the man became well, and picked up his pallet and began to walk.Now it was the Sabbath on that day. So the Jews were saying to the man who was cured, “It is the Sabbath, and it is not permissible for you to carry your pallet.” But he answered them, “He who made me well was the one who said to me, ‘Pick up your pallet and walk.’” They asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Pick up your pallet and walk’?” But the man who was healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had slipped away while there was a crowd in that place. Afterward Jesus *found him in the temple and said to him, “Behold, you have become well; do not sin anymore, so that nothing worse happens to you.” The man went away, and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Safari in the Mist - Part 1

A Von Crapp Brothers Tale

"You look done in. Let's rest here for a bit. I'm tired anyway." Vic moved under a twisted, leaf-covered tree by the small stream they were following.

The African sun reflected from the surface of the stream. In the distance shimmering waves of heat near the ground distorted the trees and mist obscured the view. Flies buzzed lazily in the shade. A barely perceptible breeze did nothing to cool them off, but lifted light sand from the ground and dusted the clothes of BA and Vic, the von Crapp brothers. They both wore light colored clothing and the requisite pants with sixteen pockets. BA's red hair, though short, was damp with sweat as he sat down. His reddish goatee was a little longer than the day-old whiskers on his cheeks.

BA moved to the water, reached down with one of his hands and splashed the tepid liquid onto his face. He looked at Vic, who was rummaging in his pack under the tree. "How do you do that?"

"Do what?" Vic pulled out a clear bag then reached for his canteen. The sun flickered through the leaves and glinted off his white hair. His goatee contrasted with his clean-shaven face.

"We've been walking through this God-forsaken land in hundred degree heat for two hours and you're not sweating." BA growled and stretched out in the shade.

Vic shrugged. "Oh, I hate to sweat."

"We're adventurers. On an adventure. We're supposed to sweat." BA crossed his feet at the ankles and put his hands behind his head, the pack beneath them. The muscles in his strong body relaxed, but his right hand shot out as he smashed a distracting fly. He wiped his fingers on the sparse, tough grass beneath him. The shimmering heat carried the smells of hundreds of flowers through the damp air beneath the jungle limbs.

"Hmmm. Well, I'm a Gentleman Adventurer. I do sweat. Just not much, if I can help it. I think cool thoughts." Vic carefully poured water from his canteen into the clear bag.

"It's not natural."

"You're one to talk. Give me a few minutes." He reached in his thin off-white vest and pulled out a small rectangle of aluminum, which he carefully unfolded.

"What is that?" BA squinted at the pinch of dark material Vic put into the plastic bag, hanging it on a branch in the sun.

"Nothing yet. Sun tea in about fifteen minutes; should be quite nice." The small square of aluminum foil disappeared back into Vic's vest. Two cups appeared in his hands and he placed them on a flat rock.

"Earl Grey?"

"Of course. What did you think? Chamomile?"

They laughed at that.

Next part, next Wednesday.

Author commentary (if I have one)

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Jesus, A Man of Sorrows

Garden Tomb

This is HOLY WEEK for Christians, the week leading up to Easter - or Resurrection Sunday, as some Pastors now call it. (I have a rant on that, but I'll leave it.)

A guy I worked with years ago told me that he didn't celebrate Christmas or Easter (or birthdays or anniversaries - and didn't even wear a wedding ring). I told him that was okay, but confusing. I can see why you might not celebrate Christmas (I LOVE Christmas) because everyone is born.

But EASTER? Not everybody rose from the dead, buddy.

And though Jesus rising from the dead was the end-game to provide the gift of salvation, we tend to forget that Jesus is with us all the time.

Some people think Jesus cannot understand the pain they suffer, the hardships, the temptations...

We sometimes think that Jesus knows of sin only distantly, perhaps a Godly abstraction to ponder while He watches us from above.

Yet Jesus became fully man, and knew all the same temptations we do.

Hebrews 2:17-18 (NIV)
For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.
Jesus knows the troubles you've seen, the pain you endure.

As a matter of fact, He suffered pain I cannot imagine and the Romans beat him beyond recognition.

Is 52:14 (GNV) 
Many people were shocked when they saw him; he was so disfigured that he hardly looked human.
Jesus gave up Heaven to come to Earth. You'd think He would at least retain some of the glory of Heaven in His earthly form. He could have, but instead he had "no stately form or majesty that we should look upon Him, nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him." (Is 53:2b NASB)

In fact, it wasn't only the twelve people closest to him that rejected him at the end.

Is 53:3 (NASB)
He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
The rest of the fulfilled prophecy doesn't read any better (posted below).

Here's the point. If you're hurting, you are not alone. If you despair, you are not alone. If darkness surrounds you, and you feel there is no place to escape, you are not alone.

You need never be alone, but can always have the Living God standing with you.

For He is Risen, and that is the Hope of us all.
God bless you all.

The rest of the fulfilled prophecy, written about 700 years before the birth of Jesus. The complete book was found in the caves of the Dead Sea (the Dead Sea Scrolls).

Is 53:4-9 Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth. Yet it was the will of the LORD to bruise him; he has put him to grief; when he makes himself an offering for sin, he shall see his offspring, he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand; He shall see the fruit of the travail of his soul and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous; and he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he poured out his soul to death, and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.