Highlands

This is the first full length novel I have ever written. I hope you enjoy it!

This story is inspired by the music album “Highlands”. I wish to thank all of those who are part of the Christian rock group White Heart. With out their album this story may have never come to be.

We are called to share the message of Christ in no uncertain terms. We have discovered the difference God can make in each one of our lives. (White Heart)

Chapter One

You Can See the World from Here

The wind blew silently through the trees. No one heard it save the leaves that moved. The mountain stood silently against the sky waiting for someone to speak. It had stood that way for thousands of years and would stand like that for a few more centuries. No one knew of the magic or the love that that mountain had stored up into it. It was almost like a living thing. No one had ever tried to climb or conquer its peak. No one had ever tried to cross it to partake in any great battle. No one had ever tried to find gold or silver or diamonds in its rocks. The very thought that this mountain had anything of value on it was the farthest thing from anyone’s mind

Salmon Harris was the only man that had ever tried to climb the mountain. He had even given the mountain a name. He called it Mount Alush. It was a wild place. There were trees everywhere you looked. The bramble was all around almost as if it was protecting the mountain from climbers. He had tried to climb the mountain once but had been stopped by the bramble. He could find no way to get through it. It was the only mountain that Salmon Harris had not conquered.

Salmon Harris was a man of great wealth. He had the loving wife and the loving 2.5 children. Two already here and one on the way. He was a man of great power. He stood six foot 4 inches tall. He had mousy brown hair that with the help of his children had been turned into a corn rowed mess. But he loved his children so come tomorrow he would head off to work and be harassed about his hair till the end of the day when he would take out the braids.

Salmon was raised a Christian but had slid very far since then. He had attained his wealth through the markets and through some very shrewd investments. He had in his time taken over some small mom and pops businesses and turned them into money makers. Just to turn around and sell them for eight to ten times what he paid.

His parents were not rich nor did they have the home that Salmon did. He was dead to them and this hurt him very much. His wife loved him dearly and put up with his working late into the night not worrying if he was with another woman for he loved her very much. He would come home to her waiting in the family room ready to take him into her arms and hold him.

Salmon Harris had it all or at least he thought he had it all. He knew that if he could conquer this mountain then he would have it all. He did not know that climbing this mountain would change his life forever.

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Salmon had made all the preparations. He had all the equipment that he needed and this was the day that he would conquer Mount Alush. The bramble would not stop him. He had kissed his wife and his children and told them that he would be back in a week to bring them the news of the mountain. They said their good-byes and watched him drive out of the driveway to his destiny that awaited him.

Mount Alush was thirty-seven thousand feet high or in miles that are roughly seven miles. Its peak is covered by cloud all year round. The air is so thin that nothing could grow up there and no man could survive long because of the lack of oxygen. Salmon had anticipated that and had the oxygen tanks ready. Salmon started his climb at six in the morning and by nine had reached the bramble. He had seen the usual trees and animals. He had taken pictures to show his family. He was having a good time.

He walked around the side of the mountain and could find no way through the bramble. It consisted of blackberry, raspberry, strawberry and a few other berry bushes he had never seen before. He picked a few berries while he searched. He searched and searched eventually after circling the entire mountain he found no way through. He had spent the entire day looking and it was almost dark when he decided to set up camp and get an early start in the morning. He would have to chop through he reasoned. He slipped into his sleeping bag after a small supper and fell off to sleep.

It was a bright and sunny morning when Salmon woke up. He hurriedly dressed and had a quick breakfast. He wanted to start chopping his way through. He stepped out of the tent and after taking it down he moved towards the bramble. He stopped in confusion. In front of him stood an opening in the bramble that was not there when he went to sleep.

Salmon moved towards it and started to walk. There were other paths that closed whenever he walked by or even thought about taking. He figured that he was meant to go this way and not to turn off the path. He looked at the bramble and saw the roses and the lilies. He could smell their sweet perfume. There were roses of every color and lilies of every color imaginable.

Soon he came upon a fork in the road. Down one path was nothing but dead things. The other path was lush and green with animals and flowers growing in abundance. He thought about going down the dead path and even moved that way but like all the rest of the other paths, it too closed to him. He walked down the path was obviously chosen for him. Salmon saw all kinds of animals. Lions lying with sheep. Bears swimming with salmon in the stream. Skunks walking around with their tails down. For that he was very thankful.

He felt a presence but was unsure of what it was. He wanted to find out but figured that he would know soon enough. He continued to walk all the time realizing that he was climbing up the mountain and yet he did not know how high he was. He was having no problems with the climb. It was very easy and was in fact very pleasant. He could not hear the traffic from down below. All he could hear were the animals and the gentle sound of the wind as it blew between the flowers.

Salmon stopped and looked at the sky. It was getting cloudy. He did not know how far up he had walked. He looked at his watch and many hours had passed and yet it seemed like he had only been walking for a little bit. He stopped to look at a stream. He realized that he was thirsty and bent down to get a drink. The water tasted like golden honey. It was clear and fresh and full of life.

Animals came up to him and nuzzled him. They were not afraid of the stranger. They looked at him and then quietly walked away. Salmon immediately thought about the story of Narnia but knew that these animals were not going to talk to him. He stood up and continued walking the path.

Salmon walked for hours and never got tired. The path seemed to start to thin out. He looked around and saw that there was an opening. He walked through and found that he was at the summit of Mount Alush. He went to breathe the air but thought he should put on the oxygen mask first. After putting it on he looked around and saw that he could see the world from here. He could see every part of the world. He was amazed at its beauty and its wonder.

He turned around to see the other side of the summit. He saw a bush. Some nondescript bush that was just sitting all alone on the summit. He wondered how it managed to grow at such a high altitude. He went forward to look at it and heard a voice in his head.

“STOP!”

Salmon stopped and looked curiously at the bush. It had talked to him. Bushes don’t talk. He must be going mad from the thinness of the air. He stepped forward again and again the voice spoke.

“STOP! Where you stand is holy ground. Remove your shoes if you wish to approach closer.”

Salmon looked at the bush and then without thinking about it removed his shoes and approached closer. He wanted to know what was going on. He could not understand.

“Who are you?” Salmon asked.

“I AM WHO I AM.” The voice replied.

Salmon thought for a moment. He had heard that before. He thought hard and remembered where he had heard it. It was what the burning bush said to Moses on Mount Sinai. He looked at the bush and spoke.

“Are you who I think you are?”

“I am the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. I am the God who sent His only Son to die for the world. I am who I am.”

Salmon looked at the bush and sat down. He could not believe that a bush was speaking to him. It was not burning nor was it even glowing. He just could not believe what he saw or heard. He looked towards the bush.

“What do you want of me? I am no one that you should need.”

“You are Salmon Harris. Son of Philip Harris. Son of Jeremiah Harris. You believed in me once and you turned away. You walked away from the free gift I offered you. You wanted nothing to do with me. But in all that I still love you Salmon Harris. I have not given up on you. You will be the one that will learn my truth and tell it to everyone that will listen.”

Salmon looked at the bush and wondered. How was he to do all this when he didn’t even believe it? He was sure the bush was wrong. But he also knew that if it was meant to be then he must obey. Suddenly the bush spoke once again.

“I understand your reluctance my child. It is hard to believe when you are sitting talking to a bush. Understand me now Salmon Harris. All will come clear to you while you go to the place I tell you to go. It is the place where you will learn all about which I am and what your mission will be. It is up to you if you wish to do what I ask. I will not force you to do anything you do not want to do.”

Salmon looked at the bush. He bent his head to one side much like a dog would.

“If I am to understand properly. I have the choice to do what you ask or to walk away. You will not hate me or love me any less.”

“No I will not love you any less nor will I hate you. I gave you free will for just that reason. You must want to do what I ask. If you chose not to then another will come to me.”

Salmon stood and turned away. He was a businessman and his business man mind took over. He wanted to know what was in it for him. He wanted to know what he got in return. He turned around and faced the bush.

“Might I ask what is in this for me? I realize this is a selfish question but a question nonetheless.”

“You will get the blessings of the most high God. You will receive eternal life. The riches you will receive will be given to you when you come to me in heaven.”

Salmon thought about this and sat down. He wrote in the ground. He had to think about this. It was not an adventure to enter on impulse. He needed time to think.

“Might I have some time to think on your offer. I am not a man to enter into anything without looking at all sides. Might I have a little time?”

“Yes take all the time you need. Lay there at your feet and think and sleep. I will protect you from the weather and the evil that might come your way while you sleep and think.”

Salmon knelt down and then quickly lay on his back to rest. In no time he was asleep. Dreams invaded his mind quickly. He saw his father telling him that he was raised a Christian and should act like one. He saw his grandfather telling him that this was a dealing that he should not get involved in. He saw his wife and his children begging him to come home.

Salmon tossed and turned all the time the bush watched over him. Salmon woke up many hours later and looked at the bush. He got up and brushed off his clothes. He looked at the bush and spoke.

“I will do as you ask on one condition.”

“What might that be my child?”

Salmon stood his ground but lowered his head.

“I do not want you thinking any less of me but I want the option of stopping should I find it too hard to bear.”

“I agree to your condition. I do not want you do anything that you can not bear. I will not think any less of you should you decide to stop. All I ask is that you tell me when you have had enough so that I might hold you up and walk for you.”

Salmon nodded his head and smiled. He felt that for some reason he must do this. He went to the edge and looked out. He could see the world. He felt like it was his destiny to do the task that was in front of him and yet he had doubts. It was natural he thought.

“I will go now. I do not know what will happen but I will go now.”

He started to go the way he came but he found that it was blocked. He turned around. He did not understand why he could not go the way he came.

“You can not go that way. You must go another way. Go to your right and that will take you to where you need to go my child. Remember I am with you always.”

Salmon nodded and turned to his right and saw the path that was not there a moment ago. He waved to the bush unconsciously and made his way down the mountain. He did not know what was in store for him but he knew that he would know in time.

Chapter Two

Nothing but the Best

The path was rugged and wild. There were pitfalls and boulders along the way. Just like any other trail would be like this high up on a mountain. Salmon picked his way carefully along to make sure he did not fall over the edge. He did not call it Mount Alush for nothing. Alush meant “wild place”. And this was a wild place. If he took the wrong turn he could get lost or worse. He could fall to his death.

Salmon thought about the bush. Was he going insane talking to a bush the way he had? It made no normal sense. If a shrink heard that he had seen or even talked to a bush, he would have been committed right away. But to him it did not seem insane. He had spoken to the most high God himself. Or at least he believed he had. He pushed the thought out of his mind. He was loosing focus at this moment. He had to get down alive.

Salmon stopped by a large out cropping of rocks and sat down in the shade. He was tired and he wanted to sleep. He curled up and slowly drifted off into a restful sleep. He did not dream as he slept. He woke rested and found that many hours had passed. He started to get up and found that he was slightly hungry. He grabbed the crackers he had in his knapsack and started to nibble on them. He continued to walk until he saw the light of a fire. He crouched down behind a rock. All he could see was the fire and the sound of someone singing.

Salmon sat and waited for silence to fall. He did not want to intrude on the stranger, He liked the singing but it was not something he really wanted to get into. He had had his bout with religion and it meant nothing to him now. He wanted to go home but he also had agreed to carry out his “mission” as it were. Salmon sat quietly and slowly faded into a restful sleep.

Salmon woke up to find himself lying beside a roaring fire. He did not know how he managed to get here but he was thankful for the heat. He looked up to see a man sitting on the other side of the fire. The man smiled and nodded at Salmon.

“Hello kind friend. You look somewhat shocked on how you got to this spot. Well to be quite honest. I brought you here. I heard you rustling in the leaves trying to keep warm and as I am a good man I chose to bring you here to give you the warmth you so dearly needed. If I have over stepped my bounds then I will leave you be and go from you. I only do the will of the Father.”

Salmon looked at him a moment longer then tried to get closer to the fire. He did not know what to think of this strange fellow but was glad of the fire. He nodded softly to the man and then quietly relaxed and warmed himself up. He looked at his saviour and wondered who he was. He was not that good looking of man and yet Salmon felt drawn to him. Salmon sat up on his elbow.

“Might I ask you a question?”

The man nodded.

“What is your name? I would like to thank you by name for saving me.” Salmon asked.

“My name is Zion Diadem. I am a follower of the One who is and always will be. We who follow Him call him the Father. There is no need for you to thank me. It was my duty to save you. One day perhaps you will save me and then we will be equal.”

Salmon shook his head softly. He did not know who the one who is an always will be but he seemed like a real nice guy. Salmon watched as Zion nodded off to sleep. Salmon was not far behind him. Salmon slept soundly and he did not dream. He awoke to find himself alone. Zion was nowhere to be found. Salmon sat up and saw a breakfast left for him. He ate it silently and wondered where Zion had gone off.

Under the meal was a simple note. It did not say much. Nothing but a few words.

Salmon:

I leave you because I have been called to other places. I must follow the will of the Father. I leave you with a breakfast and a message. While you are on your journey here, accept Nothing But The Best from people. You deserve nothing less. Do not second-guess yourself. Follow your heart my friend. Don’t ever second-guess your heart.

Don’t refuse the gift He’s giving. Deaths a bitter wine.

We will meet again my friend. We will see each other when the One that died comes for us again. Until then I shall remain as always

Zion Diadem

Salmon put the note down and looked at the fire. It burned slowly. He reached out and felt the warmth and the savagery. Salmon wondered where this journey was taking him. He did not ask to go on it and yet here he was. Going on an adventure willingly.

Salmon stood up and brushed his pants off. He doused the fire and gathered up his things. He started to walk away and then turned around. He had forgotten the note that Zion had written him. He picked it up and carefully folded it and placed it in his pocket. He made his way to the trail and headed off in a direction not yet known to him.

Chapter Three

Heaven Of My Heart

The day seemed to pass by quickly. Salmon heard the birds singing and the wind rustling in the trees. He thought of Zion often. He had only met Zion last night and yet it seemed like he had known him for years. They had shared a fire and a starry sky. They had laughed and talked as if they had been friends forever. They had said their good nights and then sleep had crept up on them quickly. The morning came and Salmon was alone. He had found the note and then went on his way.

Salmon looked around and heard a song. He walked to where he heard it. He watched and tried to spy to see if he could see anyone. Alone sitting on a log was a woman. She was beautiful and had such a sweet voice. He dare not disturb her. She looked as if she was in prayer or in meditation.

Salmon found that he could not take his eyes off of her. She was as beautiful as the day was long. He wanted to go to her but at the same time he did not want to impose himself upon her. He decided that he would try to skirt the area and leave her alone.

Salmon continued to walk around the area and then stopped. He heard the woman call to him.

“Wait. Stranger. Come back.”

Salmon turned around and looked for the voice. It was coming from the woman that sat so silent. He turned away to continue walking but found that he heard the voice again. He turned around and looked at the woman again. She had not moved and yet he knew that it was her voice that he heard. Salmon brushed the thought away and continued to walk.

“Wait. Stranger. Come back.”

Salmon turned around again and looked at the woman. This time she had moved. She stood looking at him. She had long black hair with tips of gray at the ends. She was a very attractive woman. He could not make out her eye color but they seemed to burn through him. He started to walk towards her and stopped. She was sitting back down but this time she was not in meditation. She seemed to be waiting for him.

Salmon walked to her and sat in front of her. He did not know what to make of her but he was willing to find out. She looked at him and yet she seemed to look right through him. Salmon was a little unnerved but he did not move from his spot. She motioned for him to come closer. He did and she seemed to move away. Not from being afraid but because she sensed instead of seeing. He lifted his hand and waved it in front of her face. Again she reacted not because she could see it but more like she felt it. He came to the realization that she was blind.

Salmon wanted to stay but he knew that he could not. He started to move but the woman stopped him. She stared through him and made him feel very uncomfortable. He did now know what to do. He threw off her arms and stood up.

“What do you want of me? I do not know you nor do I think I wish to know you. Tell me who you are.” Salmon commanded.

The woman looked at him with her eyes that no longer worked and smiled. She motioned for him to sit before him and listen to her story. Salmon said no that he would stand. She nodded and went on with her story.

“My name is Sisera. It means meditation. That is what I do. I meditate all day long. I do it because that is what the Father wants. But I get so lonely. I want to hear another voice and I want to interact with other people.

“I was born on this mountain many years ago. I was told that I was born blind. Yes it is true. I knew that you knew. I flinched when you waved your hand across my face. I did it out of reflex not out of anything else. I could feel the breeze coming from your hand.”

Salmon smiled softly and sat down on the ground again. He looked at Sisera for what seemed minutes and had a hard time getting his eyes off of her. She was so beautiful. He could not imagine doing nothing but sit and meditate all day long. He continued to look at her and wanted so much to touch her. She was a rare beauty.

“Why do you meditate all day?” Salmon asked.

“I meditate to be closer to the one that is the Morning Star. He is the reason I meditate. When I meditate I go to the other heaven of my heart. For up there,” Sisera pointed upwards. “In a sky so blue is a heaven made for you and me. But until the Lily of the valley comes back for me then I will go to the other heaven. Would you like to join me?”

Salmon bent his head down. He shook his head slowly. He did not have this heaven that she spoke of. He had never seen nor had he ever wanted to see it.

“I do not have this heaven you speak of. I am not sure if I have ever had it or if I ever will have it. You will have to go alone. I can not join you.”

Sisera reached out her hand and touched Salmon on the shoulder. She could feel his doubt and sense his disbelief. She smiled softly and released her hand.

“I may be blind Salmon but I can sense that you have love in your eyes and that in your heart, tucked away in a little corner. It is that heaven that I speak of. You have it Salmon you just do not know it yet. You will know in time. The Father will reveal Himself to you when the time is right.” Sisera said.

Salmon stood up and smiled. He knew that she meant well but he did not believe anymore. He did not want to believe anymore. He knew he had done to many things wrong to ever be able to believe again. But what this woman said made sense. It felt right. He knew that at one time he had had what she spoke of. But it was gone. Long gone. There was no way it was ever going to be there again. No one takes back someone that had moved so far away.

Salmon look at Sisera and touched her lightly on the cheek.

“You have your beliefs and I have mine. You follow the God of your choosing and I will follow the God of mine.”

“But you do not follow any God Salmon. Money is your God now. It is what makes you happy.”

Salmon smiled and walked away, leaving Sisera to her meditation and her unseen God. He continued to walk and yet felt bad for leaving her alone. He turned to walk back but the way was blocked. He was unable to go back. He remembered a song he heard once pumping out of some kids car. Don’t look back is what it said. He turned and walked away continuing on his journey.

Chapter Four

Once And For All

There was a path round through the woods. Salmon saw lots of animal life. He spied a stream and after getting to it knelt down for a drink. The water tasted so fresh and so wonderful. He didn’t want to leave but he knew he had no other choice. He wanted to get home and he had been on this trail all too long as it is. He started back on the trail again.

The sun shone high in the sky and yet Salmon felt as if he had been walking for hours and hours. He was hungry and yet he did not care. He walked continually and yet did not tire. He turned the bend in the trail and came upon a three- pronged fork. Each one had a sign attached above it.

The first one read:

‘He was a good man but no god.’

The second read:

‘He was a great prophet.’

The third read:

‘I am the way, the truth and the life.’

Salmon decided to take the third trail. He came to a clearing and saw a hill. There was nothing on it. Nothing and no one had been here in a very long time. It was the ugliest knoll anyone had ever seen. There was nothing but death here. He wanted to walk away but could not. He was fascinated with the scene. He felt like he had seen or will see the most spectacular thing any human being has ever seen. There was going to be something great happening here and he did not want to miss it.

Salmon sat on the ground and waited. He waited and waited for what seemed like hours and nothing happened. He was starting to get a tad impatient when suddenly a fellow came out of the woods. He was an ordinary looking fellow. There was nothing special about him at all. He sat down quietly beside Salmon and said not a word. Salmon looked at him and smiled. The man smiled back and still said nothing. The man smiled and stood suddenly. He offered his hand and Salmon shook his head no.

“Oh come on Salmon Harris. You are going to see something very few people have ever seen. You are actually going to see the death of a man. You will see him die the most awful death you can imagine. You will see him tortured and then crucified. Now come with me Salmon Harris.”

Salmon looked at the man. He could not figure out how he knew his name. He had not told him and yet he knew. Salmon was confused and yet he really wanted to go see the death of a man. He almost reveled in it.

“Wait. How did you know my name?”

The man stood quietly and then spoke very calmly.

“I know you very well Salmon Harris. I know you better then you know yourself. I even know you better the then He does. I have watched you and even sometimes guided you along the path that you have chosen. I have watched many a good man travel down the right path to my feet, all the time thinking that they were going the way that He wanted them to go. I have even watched you when you had that tryst with. Well we don’t need to go there now do we.

“You may call me any of my names. I have so many of them. Abbadon, Apollyon, Belial, Beelzebub, just to name a few. You may take your choice. But the fact of the matter is, is that you know who I am and it intrigues you doesn’t Mr. Harris. Now come on and join me. I want to show you a broken man. A man that is so torn down that there is no way in, excuse the pun, hell that he is ever going to get up again.”

Salmon stood and started on the way back down the path. But it was closed to him. He must go with this person. He knew he had no other choice. The man started walking towards the knoll and Salmon followed. He did not like it but he followed nonetheless.

Salmon suddenly heard crying and wailing and gnashing of teeth. He heard a mother’s voice as she cried out for her son. He heard women crying out for him to save himself. He heard children crying and grown men playing games. He did not want to go any farther but he had to know.

The scene that they came upon was frightening to say the least. Women and children were crying and men were angry and hurling nasty insults at the dying man. The men hurled rotten fruit and stones at the man. He said not a word but took the insults and the punishment of the stones and fruit. He smiled softly and spoke.

“Father forgive them for they know not what they do.”

Salmon looked up at the man and although he knew who this was he could not remember his name. He felt sadness for the man and yet could not remember his name. Suddenly the man cried out in a loud voice.

“Eloi, Eloi, Lama sabachthani?”

Salmon tried to remember what those words meant but he could not. He wanted to but couldn’t. He turned to the other man and asked him but he just smiled and walked away. He moved towards a woman but she did not even notice him. He walked away and kept thinking about those words. Salmon looked right up at the man on the cross and he looked back.

“My God, My God, Why Hast Thou Forsaken Me?” is what the man said.

Salmon fell to his knees. He now knew who this man was. The other man that came with Salmon kicked him gently in the boot. Salmon looked up, tears running down his face. The other man laughed and laughed.

“Why do you laugh? Do you not understand what is going on here?”

“Of course I do you dolt. I understand better then anyone. I am the one that put Him there and there is where He is going to stay. He is not going to come down and try to play some martyr. He is going to die up there and then his body will be left for the birds and the wild animals.

“Now get up and stop the senseless blubbering. You should have blubbered long before this but you didn’t. You were too interested in making money. You were too interested in making people rich and getting the fair share that was due you for services rendered. Now come with me and watch as I torture some poor unfortunate that dared to betray the one that he supposedly loved.”

A man stood some distance off looking up at a tree. He was testing the strength of a limb when he threw a rope over it. He looked at Salmon and the other as they approached and nodded his head in greeting then went back to his business. He looked at Salmon and smiled.

“Hello.”

“Hello.” Salmon replied, “What are you doing here?”

“Oh nothing much. I am just going to hang myself. I betrayed a man tonight and I did it for thirty pieces of silver. I traded the love I have for Him. For a measly thirty coins. I did it and I am ashamed. Not because I did it but for the reason I did it. I did it because I was stupid enough to listen to the likes of that man.” The betrayer nodded to the man. “He has a name you know. Some people call him the father of lies and other call him the master of deception. I call him the monster of hate. He makes people do things. Well at least they think he makes them. In fact they would have done it anyway, they just need a scapegoat and he willing becomes one every time. People around the world say that “The Devil Made ME Do It!’ well I can honestly tell you that it is wrong.

“People all around the world lay the blame on him and it is not true. We are to blame for everything that happens to us. We are to blame when our lives don’t work out the way we want or plan. We are to blame if we end up in prison or hanging by a rope. We did it. We did it willingly and he has nothing to do with it. That man hanging on the cross is the exception. He is hanging there out of his own willingness. He is doing because he wants too not because for some need to be noticed.

“His willingness to die is a testimony to the fact that the monster of hate can not make people do things. The sacrifice that the man is making on the cross is for you and for me and for, yes tis true, even for the monster of hate. His Father sent him down for one reason and one reason only, to teach the people that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob had not abandoned them. He sent his Son to show them that God had not stopped listening to them.

“One more thing before I leave you to do my thing here. When in the party of life, dance with the one that brought ya. Either dance with the devil or dance with the Lord. Don’t keep changing sides and jumping fences. Stick with the one that is the only one.”

With that the hanging man turned and put the rope on his neck and jumped. Salmon heard the sickening snap and crackle as the neck snapped Salmon turned away and looked at the man and then he looked down to the tree. It was over. He was dead. The man’s life had ceased to be. Salmon looked at the man that had met him at the beginning. The tears welled up in Salmon’s eyes.

“Oh good tears, that is always good. Tears always get me right here.” He hit his chest with his hand. “That really works with me. It really does. NOT! The thing that dangles on the rope had a choice. The thing on the cross had a choice. They both chose the wrong road. Now of course you have the choice right now. Follow the path you have been following or follow me. The path will take you to your final goal whereas if you follow me you will not only be off this cursed mountain but you will have everything your heart desires. Now you decide. I will give you time. I will come back in a few hours.”

With that the Monster of Hate turned away and Salmon was left alone to think. He sat on the ground and looked at the scene. To his left was a man on a cross. To his right was a man hanging by a rope. He wanted so much to be off this mountain. He wanted so much to be rid of all the problems in his life. He wanted to be someone.

Salmon lay down looking at the sky. He put his hand in his pocket and felt paper. He pulled it out and it was the note that Zion had given him. He looked at it and read it again. This time words seem to jump out at him.

‘Follow your heart my friend. Don’t ever second-guess your heart. Don’t refuse the gift He’s giving. Deaths a bitter wine.’

Salmon knew what he must do. No matter what he must follow his heart. It does not matter what the monster offers or promises him. He must no betray his heart. He closed his eyes and slept peacefully. He suddenly woke up and saw the Monster of Hate standing over him. He stood up and looked right at the Monster.

“Oh I know I am not going to like what you are about to say. You are not going to follow me are you. You are going to take the path and see what happens. Well let me tell you what happens. Yes you get your life back. You get everything you ever wanted. You even get your little family back with the two point five kids and the pretty little wife. But you have to earn them. They just don’t fall into your lap. You actually have to earn them. There is nothing free in this world. Everything has a price. Even following God has a price. Obedience is the price. With me everything is free. No price. Well not much of a one anyways. All I get is your soul. But then again, that’s all God gets isn’t it.”

Salmon looked at him and smiled. He turned and walked away down the path to his next destination. He looked back once to see the Monster of Hate screaming and kicking at the dirt. Salmon could do nothing but laugh softly to himself. He had found the one thing that was missing from his life. Now all he had to do was continue on in the journey.

Chapter Five

Excuse Me, Forgive Me
The path widened to a colorful collage of flowers. There were flowers of all types and sizes. Salmon stopped to smell the roses. He could spend the day away in this place but he knew that he had a destiny waiting. He picked himself up and continued down the path. The perfume of the flowers followed him for a bit then it faded away. Salmon tried to focus on the path but kept getting distracted. He kept hearing a voice. It was a soft voice that nagged at him to turn back.

Salmon continued to walk a he pushed the sound of the voice away. The path stopped in front of him and he was unsure of which way to go. He wanted to go to the right but he also wanted to go to the left. Both looked the same and had the same lush greenery. He heard the voice again and tried to ignore it but found that he couldn’t this time. He went to the left. He felt this sudden feeling of dread and yet continued to the left.

He came upon an open area that contained nothing but a man in stocks. Salmon looked at him and wondered what had he done to be in such a predicament. He moved slowly to the stocked man. He held his head up to Salmon and smiled.

“Hello stranger.”

Salmon nodded his head.

“In case you are wondering. I am here because I committed a serious crime. I committed the crime of being indecisive. I could not make up my mind on which to use. Excuse me or forgive me. I do not care which I use. I use whichever one suits me at the time. So they put me in the infernal contraption.”

Salmon smiled and looked at the man then started to walk away. This man was of no concern to him. He had committed a crime and now he must pay his debt to society. He suddenly turned around and wondered. Why was it a crime to say excuse me or forgive me.

“Wait a minute. I do not understand. How can you commit a crime when you have done nothing wrong.” Salmon asked.

A woman came out of the alleyway and looked at the man in the stocks then at Salmon. She looked him up and down from the top of his head to the tips of his toes. She sort of snorted then went her way. Salmon yelled after her.

“Wait. What has this man done that he deserves to be in those stocks?”

She stopped and turned around. She looked at Salmon again and then walked back to the stocked man. She grabbed his hair and pulled his head up. She looked at him and the let it back down. She looked at Salmon again and laughed.

“Did he tell you what he did wrong? Did he tell you that he is guilty of the crime of indecisive? Did he tell you that?”

Salmon nodded his head and then sat down on the ground. He shook his head trying to figure out what was wrong with this scene. He could not. He wanted to be on his way. He wanted to get off this mountain so he could be with his family. This is what he wanted. He looked up at the woman and spread his hands in unknowing.

“I do not understand. I don’t understand what he did wrong.”

The woman looked at him and smiled.

“That is okay. You are not the first one to not understand and you will not be the last. So I will explain it to you as best I can. You see this man is guilty of being indecisive. He would agree with whatever was said no matter what was said. When he was found out to be indecisive he would either say excuse me or forgive me. He used those two phrases as if they were the same phrase when they are not.”

Salmon looked at the woman and shook his head. He did not understand. He wanted to understand but did not. He was so confused. His journey had taken him to meet the great I AM and then to a man that was there one minute and in such a short time was gone. He had met a blind woman that could see. He had been shown the death of two men by the one that had caused it to happen. He wanted to understand but did not. He didn’t think he ever would.

Salmon stood up and started to walk away again. He had had enough of this scene. He wanted to be on his way. He heard the voices but did not turn around. He would not look back. He walked to the path but it would not let him through. He had something to learn here and until it was learned he was stuck here.

Salmon sat on a tree trunk. He held his head and then shook it slowly. He wanted to just go to sleep and pretend that this was a dream and nothing else. He closed his eyes and tried to forget the situation all together. He slowly let his thoughts slide into the abyss and clear his mind for a bit. He thought about his wife and his children. He thought about the fun they had. He got up and rested himself against the trunk and slept softly.

“Wake up Salmon. It is time for you to loose your misunderstanding.”

Salmon opened his eyes and saw a lake. It was not there when he closed his eyes. He must be in a dream. He rubbed his eyes and shook his head trying to get rid of the image but it would not go away. He tried to find the place where the voice came from but he could not. It sounded so sweet and soft. It had patience in it and loving kindness. He stood up and walked towards the lake and looked in. He saw his reflection and something else. It looked like a fairy but he could be seeing things. Salmon turned around and went back to the trunk and sat down. He shook his head again and this time he heard laughter.

“What the…?” Salmon exclaimed.

“OOO! Be careful. Swearing is not allowed here, now as for your question. You are in the land called Shandatha. It is the land of all those things that your kind say does not exist. My name is Gittith. I am what you think I am. A fairy. I heard what you were talking about in your world. We can hear and see all that happens but we never cross over. It’s usually the other way around. People think that they either dreamed it or it was their imaginations playing tricks on them but they came here.”

Salmon shook his head once more. It did not make any sense. He must be dreaming, either that or he is having an hallucination. He looked at Gittith once more and smiled. He was not sure of what was going on here but what the heck. He would play along.

“Okay let’s say for sake of argument that you are real. Where did you come from?” Salmon asked.

“We were created by the same God that created you and the rest of humanity. He is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He is the same God that sent his son to die for the world. He is the one that created us. We are as real as you are. The only difference is, is that mankind has chosen not to believe in us. Man has decided that we are nothing but legend. But we are not. We worship the same god as you do. We live the same way that you do.” Salmon looked at the wings. “Okay so fairies have wings. That’s a moot point. We have the same frailties that you do. We sin and do wrong. But we do not use excuses to deny what we did wrong. We do not ask for forgiveness by saying excuse me.”

Salmon looked up. He looked right at Gittith. He raised his left eyebrow just slightly.

“How did you know about the forgive me and excuse me?”

“I told you. We can hear all that is going on in your world. We can understand why you people are so mixed up. You have taken a gift from God and made it into some kind of joke. You pushed us aside and then just to make sure that no one tries to mess with you, you pushed God aside and said that He was dead. You use the phrases excuse me and forgive me as the same thing and they are not.”

Salmon smiled softly. He understood. It made sense but what the hay. The fairy was on a roll.

“Do you understand?” Gittith asked.

“Well sort of but you could explain a little further.” Salmon replied.

“Okay lets see if I can explain this right. You are arguing with your wife and you say something really mean. You see the tears well up in her eyes and she says something like `How could you say something like that.’ What would a man normally say?” Gittith queried.

Salmon thought about it for a moment and smiled softly. He looked at Gittith.

“I would probably say `Well excuse me for living. I didn’t realize what I was saying.’ Something like that.”

“Well did you mean to ask for forgiveness?”

“Yes I did.”

“Then why did you not ask for forgiveness.”

“Because in a fight the two words are interchangeable. They can be used one for another.”

Gittith shook her head. He did not understand she thought. The two words are not interchangeable. You cannot substitute one for another. She had to make him understand this. She flew off his shoulder and onto a flower that was beside him. She looked up at him and continued

“Okay now that I see that you do not understand at all. I will have to use examples for you to understand. Does that make sense to you?”

Salmon shook his head softly. Gittith thought to herself that this was going to be a long, long time. She sat on the ground and thought. She was unsure of what kind of example to use that would get her point across to Salmon. She stood up and looked at Salmon.

“Okay, here we go. I have the example that I am looking for and I hope that you will understand it. Okay picture this. You are arguing with your wife and you say something very mean to her. You realize what you said when she starts to cry and you look at her. She calls you a creep. You look at her and say….”

“Well excuse me for living. I thought you were thicker skinned then that.”

“NO! That’s not what you say. What did you do? Did you cut her off or something? You just insulted her and it hurt her feelings. So what do you say?”

Salmon thought for a moment and then smiled.

“I understand now. I would say ‘Please forgive me. I did not mean what I said.’

Gittith smiled softly. The human understood. He actually understood. She kissed him on the cheek and then quietly led him back to the stump. She watched as Salmon sat back down and rested once again. She spoke quietly in his ear as he drifted back to sleep.

“Remember you can not use excuse me and forgive me as one in the same. They mean completely different things. They are not interchangeable. Say what you mean. Not something else entirely.”

Salmon woke up and saw that he was back in his world. It must have been a dream. It couldn’t anything else. Yet it seemed so real. He smiled to himself. Gittith was real. He knew that she was but it seemed so much like a dream. He shook his head and walked back to the city. Through the dream he had learned something that he must pass on to the man in the stocks. He had to show him his error.

There the man sat, stocks and all. He looked very uncomfortable. Salmon walked up to him and sat down beside him. He smiled.

“When you told the people that the excuse me and forgive me was interchangeable, did you understand what you were saying?” Salmon asked.

The man looked at him and smiled.

“Well I sort of knew what I was saying. I knew that I was using the context wrong but I did not know how to word it differently.”

Salmon smiled and patted him on the back. He moved closer and explained it all to him. The man listened intently and when he had finally figured it out he knew what he had done.

Salmon got up after a bit and went on his way. The man had said his name was Parosh. He had listened and realized what he had done wrong and promised Salmon that he would never do it again. He had learned his lesson. He had also learned that it was not the same thing when he used excuse me instead of forgive me. He had learned a valuable lesson and he knew he would never do it again.

The path widened slightly to allow Salmon to pass. He could still hear the shouts from Parosh. He looked around and saw a bench. He walked over to it and sat down with a sigh. He rubbed his neck and then he slowly lay down and closed his eyes. He slept. He dreamed. He cried for they were not nice dreams.

Chapter 6

Change The Way

The house smelled of gardenias. Every piece of furniture was in the place it was meant to be. Nothing was ever out of place. Even the shoes were where they were supposed to be. Salmon looked around and felt the presence of someone that he had not seen in many a year. He walked towards a voice and felt very fearful.

It was a booming loud voice. It rang out like a lighthouse beacon. Everyone in the house could hear it and everyone in the house feared it. Even the parish priest feared that voice. Salmon knew that voice. Knew it all to well. It was his father’s voice. It boomed as loud as it did when he spoke, rather, ordered the things done before his funeral. Salmon did not want to walk into the room but knew that he had no other choice. He did so with trepidation. His father turned to face him.

“Well look at you. All grown up and still a useless human being. You tried to be the best man you could be but as usual you screwed it up.” His father ranted.

Salmon walked away and started for the door. He was not going to hear this all again. He would not stand for the humiliation that happened every time his father was around. He walked away and tried not to look back but all he could hear was his father’s booming voice.

“That’s right. Walk away like you always do. You good for nothing kid. You were good for nothing when I was alive and you are still a good for nothing now that I am dead. So you just walk away you coward instead of facing your fear. You could never live up to my standards and I knew that. I taunted you cause I knew I could and that you would stand there and take it. You wouldn’t fight back or say one word. You dummied up like some miserable mime.”

Salmon stood there at the door and tried to open it but he found he could not. He knew that now was the time that he had to face the fear that had followed him all the days of his miserable life. He wheeled around and looked squarely at his father.

“So the mouse finally has a voice. It is about time. I have been waiting for it for what seems like decades. Go ahead Salmon. Say what is on your mind.”

“You miserable old tyrant. You waited and waited for me to make mistakes. You always knew that I would. You made sure of that. I wasn’t like any of the other boys. Johnny joined the army and fought for his country and paid the ultimate price for it. Jerry joined the air force and was killed over Japan. I on the other hand didn’t do any of those things. I chose not to follow my glorious brothers into battle. I chose to stay away from conflict. I chose to live my life the way that I wanted to no matter what the consequences.

You belittled me every time you had the chance. You made sure that you brought up Johnny’s name or Jerry’s name. You made sure that you told me the same lousy stories over and over again. You kept telling me that I would never amount to anything. You kept telling me that I would never ever be able to fill their shoes. You held me up to what they did. You held them up as some stupid banner that you knew I would never ever be able to live up to.

I tried to love you as my father. I tried to do the things that I thought you wanted me to do but it was never good enough. It was always Jerry this or Johnny that. I went as far as to make myself a millionaire and you still tried to make me less of a man that I am or was. You chose to try and make me into something that I am not.

When you died I wept for you. I wept a long time for you but your voice kept haunting my tears. I kept hearing you. ‘Johnny would never cry’ or ‘Jerry would be stronger then you’. Even in death you would not stop trying to make me into something that I am not. I couldn’t get away from you then and it seems I can’t get away from you now. You haunt me even when you have been dead and gone all these years. I won’t stand for it anymore. I want you out of my life and out of my head and out of my memories.”

His father stepped back. He laughed and laughed.

“That was an awful lot of anger you have had bottled up boy. You have turned into a man. You have become the one thing that you didn’t want to become. You have become your father.”

Salmon shook his head. He couldn’t believe what he was hearing. Maybe his father was right and that was what was happening. Salmon shook his head. He was nothing like his father. He was a caring loving man that would never do what his father had done and yet he had done it in the past. Comparing Susie with Ellen. His wife’s cooking to his mother cooking.

He looked at his father and just started to laugh and laugh and laugh. His father was still laughing. Salmon laughed along with him and then the laughing stopped. Salmon smiled softly and looked at his father square in the face once again.

“You are right old man. I am like you. I do try to compare my children with my other children. I do compare my wife’s cooking to my mom’s cooking. I even try to compare which secretary is better looking. BUT that is where the similarity stops. I would never ever compare what one child did to what another one had done. It would not be fair nor would it be right.

“You tried for so long to make us like you, judgmental and ruthless. You tried with Johnny and Jerry. They didn’t join the military to please you. They joined to get away from you. They joined so that they wouldn’t end up like you. So you might say that they committed a kind of suicide just so they could be as far away from you as possible.

“You say that I am like you. I am nothing like you. I love my children and my wife. You don’t know the meaning of the word. I try to get my children to do better by making sure that they know they can do better if they try. You compared me to my brothers and then belittled me every chance you got. I love my family, which is more, then I can say for you. You didn’t love us. You didn’t appreciate us. You didn’t even try to teach us anything. You just forced us to live the way that you lived and to think and act and believe the way that you did. Well it stops here father.

I love you but not for the reasons most children love their fathers. Most children love their fathers because the fathers have given them reason to. You never gave me or anyone reason to love you. The love I have for you is a love born out of respect not out of a need to be loved or feel love. You are my father and no matter what happens in my life I can not change that. I would not change that. But what I can change is how I look at you. How I tell people about you. How I tell them why I love you. Not the reason that I don’t love you but why I do love you.

“Everyone tells me that to love my father is the best thing that a man can do and that it is a fitting memorial to your memory. The Bible tells me to honour my father and mother. I do honour you dad but I do not love you. I love mom because at least she tried to make our life worth living. So when it all comes down to it dad. I love you out of respect and nothing else.”

Salmon stepped back and smiled. He had said it. He had finally said it. He was able to tell the one person that needed to hear it more then anyone else. He had made sure that he had said it to the face of the one that needed to hear it. He looked up to see his father red and angry.

“You don’t know me at all do you boy. I was everything that a father was supposed to be. I was the perfect loving father that every boy could want. You could never appreciate the love I had for you. I worked hard to make sure that you had everything you needed. I worked twenty-hour days to put food in your stomach and a roof over your head. Not to mention the clothes on you’re back. I did it out of love and responsibility. Don’t you ever forget that boy.”

Salmon smiled and started to laugh. He walked over to a chair and sat. He looked up at his father and listened to the ranting of a man that had been dead for a number of years. He tried to stifle a laugh but could not.

“You really make me laugh you know that. You really make me want to just roll around on the floor and laugh so hard that I collapse from lack of oxygen.” Salmon stood up and faced his father. “ You don’t know what love is. Love is patient…You were never patient. Love is kind…You were never kind. Love is blind…You were never blind. You made sure that we knew our faults. Love is not jealous…You were always jealous of the love that I had for my mother. Love bears all things…You didn’t do anything out of love. You did it to make points. Love believes all things…You never believed a thing we told you. We told you that we loved you and you wouldn’t believe us. Love endures all things…You didn’t endure a thing for us. When we were sick, so sick that we couldn’t get out of bed or eat anything. It wasn’t you that made sure that we were okay. It wasn’t you that made sure that we at least tried to eat something. It wasn’t you that stayed up all night to make sure that we didn’t die. It wasn’t your smiling face that we woke up to and said that we were loved. No you were to busy trying to be a father instead of actually being one. When we called out in our sleep because of a fever. It wasn’t you that came running. It was always mom. You were too tired from working or too tired from running around with the boys or the girls to care about us. You were too busy trying instead of doing.

“You want father of the year awards then you better be ready to prove that you deserve them cause I know from personal experience that you were never the father that we needed. You were just a wanna be father. You had three sons that in fact you didn’t want. But hey there comes that responsibility junk again. Funny how that keeps creeping in to the equation.

“I have one father that really takes care of me. He does it willingly and he does it a sight better then you ever did. He looks at me and sees that even though I have faults he takes me as I am. He doesn’t see a failure like you did. He sees a diamond in the rough. He sees a piece of clay that He can mold into a vessel that He can use. He sees a person that does not always have the ability but is available. You never did that dad. You always saw my faults and made me feel like I was a failure.”

Salmon walked away and looked out the window. He felt his father’s eyes burning into his back but he didn’t care. He had finally been able to say all those things that he wanted to say all those years ago. He turned around and looked at his father. He smiled and then went for the door. As he placed his hand on the knob he heard his father’s voice.

“Salmon. Don’t leave. Don’t go with this rift between us. I don’t know if I can take it”

Salmon turned around just far enough to look at his father. He smiled.

“You should have thought about that all those years ago. You should have been able to tell me that when you were alive. You didn’t and you took that rift with you to the grave. You chose not to try to mend the rift. Instead you let it widen and widen till neither one of us could cross it. Then you died on me. So now we have the rift. We have a chasm that neither of us can attempt to cross but I think I am a better man than that. I will at least go so far.”

Salmon turned right around and walked up to his father and took his hand in his.

“You are my father and I will love you because of that. I will tell my children about you and I will tell my grandchildren about you. I will tell them the truth. I will tell them that I did love you. It may not be the same kind of love that I have for my children but it is love nonetheless.

“Someone once told me that I needed to change the way I feel about the way I love. The way I love my mother and the rest of my family. Including you. I need to change the way I feel about love in general. Love is not something to play around with and spout off about when it isn’t true. I try to love my wife and kids the way that Jesus loves me. I try to love my mother the same way. But I can not love you the same way. All I can do is love you because you are my father. It is as I said before, a love borne out of respect and nothing else.”

Salmon shook his father’s hand then headed to the door. He smiled as he felt the weight of a thousand years rise off of his shoulders. He turned around to see his father smiling. He spoke as he opened the door.

“I love you father. You know the kind of love I have for you. If you can not handle it then I can do nothing about it. It is something that you will have to deal with as you sit wherever you are. But the joy is that even though I never showed it much, I did love you as a child. Now that I am a man I can tell you this, I do love you.”

Salmon walked out the door and turned slightly to wave.

“Goodbye father.”

The smells of gardenias were still in the air when Salmon opened his eyes. The tears were still wet on his face. He wiped them off and looked at his watch. He had been sleeping for six hours. He wiped his face and thought about the dream. He felt good as he stood and started on the path once again. He smiled softly and whispered. “I love you father.”

Chapter 7

Highlands of Love

The little boy sat against a tree and read his book. It was a simple book with simple stories. He read them with wide-eyed wonder. He had read them time and time again and every time he read them it was like he was reading them anew. He turned the pages and read about the moon, about the man that knew perfect love. He read about being chained and about saying the word. He read the story of who owned who and where the thunder roared. He read with delight the stories of a silhouette and someone that had a vendetta, but not the kind that everyone thought. He glowed at the reading of a love story between some man and his lost love Gabriela. He lit a candle when he read the next story. He cried when he read about fallen people.

His eyes never left the book and yet he could feel the presence of a stranger. He wondered where he came from and if he had ever read the book. Not the one that he was reading now but the other book. The one that tells about the Rose of Sharon, the Lilly of the Valley. He was the Son of the Most High. His name was Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, and Prince of Peace. He was the one that would do what no other man would do. He willingly gave his life so that others might be free.

The little boy could sense the man coming closer. He could sense that he did at one time know the One. He could sense that his confusion and lack of trust had forced him to rethink his faith. The little boy finally looked up to see a large man standing in front of him. He stood so tall that he seemed a giant.

Salmon looked down on this boy and smiled. He smiled because it was such a wonder to see a child actually read. He knelt down beside the boy and spoke.

“Please, do not be afraid. My name is Salmon. What is yours?”

The little boy looked at Salmon and smiled. He stood and still didn’t come to Salmon’s head. He placed his book on the ground and then smiled at Salmon again.

“My name is unpronounceable. My mother calls me Daniel. My father calls me Jaaziel. So you may chose either one to call me.”

“Okay Daniel Jaaziel. I like Jaaziel. I will call you that. Now can you answer me a question?”

Jaaziel looked up at him and then back at the book. He smiled softly and then nodded.

“Where am I?” Salmon questioned

Jaaziel looked around. He looked at Salmon and then took his hand.

“Come with me and I will show you the place you are in. It is called the Highlands of Love. Here you will see wondrous things and signs that only He can do. It is a place of beauty and wondrous perfumes that float in the air. Come and let me show you.”

Salmon walked with Jaaziel. He marveled at the beauty of all that was around. He looked to his right and saw all the beautiful flowers in colors that he had never seen before. In every shape imaginable. He looked to his left and saw mountains. He continued to look at them until Jaaziel noticed him.

“ You do not want to go there. It is a bad place. No one that goes in there comes out again. it is not a place for the likes of us. There is nothing but suffering in there. It is a place of the evil one.”

Salmon nodded but found he could not take his eyes off of the mountains. He was being drawn to them as a moth to a flame. He let go of Jaaziel’s hand and walked over to the mountain range. Jaaziel called out after him but Salmon no longer heard. He walked until he saw the shimmering beauty of the rock and smiled. He has seen beauty before but not like this. He could almost hear the rock calling his name.

“Salmon. Come to me. I am the one that has shown you what you are to be. I am the One that you seek. Not the other one. Me! Come to Me!.”

Salmon walked into the opening and into a hell that he could not imagine.

*****************************************

Salmon walked for what felt like ever. He saw nothing but rock and heard nothing but that voice beckoning him. He smiled for the voiced seemed so sweet and innocent. He liked the sound of the voice and wanted to find it. he could hear the sweetness of it and yet it seemed a voice he had heard before and yet could not place it. He shrugged off the last thought and continued on.

The path snaked around and around and flowed in a way that was not normal. Salmon felt lost and then suddenly it opened up and there stood the most wondrous site of all. It was the bush that he had seen. He immediately took off his shoes and stood expecting to be spoken to. It did not speak. It did nothing. It stood there burning and yet it was not consumed. He bent down and put his shoes back on and suddenly it spoke.

“You pathetic fool. You believed that I was that smoldering rubble that you first encountered. You need not do anything in my presence except bow down and worship me. I am the one who deserves worship not that other one. He is a false one. He is not the one who did all this. I AM! I created it all. I made it all. I AM THE ONE!

“I made the world and even made this one. I did it all. I did for my own pleasure not to show a world of love and understanding. I did it to show a world where greed is king. Where those who have are much better then them that have it all and the rest of them can go fly.

“A world where I AM worshiped and not some pathetic excuse for a god. I did it all. I did it. I was the one that killed the one who was suppose to be the Saviour of this world. I am the one that convinces people that he didn’t really rise from the dead but that it was all a conspiracy.

“Now Salmon Harris. Who do you worship? You love money and all the power that it gives you. You love the feeling that it gives you and the ability to buy anything that you want. You love the way the women bow to your every whim. The way they follow you around like puppies that are trying to please their masters. You love the way your wife doddles over you. The way your little urchins worship the ground you walk on. The way your own useless parents bend over backwards to make sure that they don’t get left out of your will.

“Tell me Salmon Harris who do you worship this day!”

Salmon thought about it hard and long.. He sat on the ground and drew in the sand much like someone else did. He stood and smiled softly.

“I worship the only One worthy of my worship. Not to mention the only One worthy respect. The only One that earned every drop of love that is in my system. That is the One that I worship.

“That is fortunately not you. It is the One who willingly died for me. It is the ONE that created this world and all that is in it. He is the One that took the hearts of those who once worshiped you and turned them to the true GOD! He is the One that bled on a tree and spilled His blood so that the likes of me might have eternal life. He gave the likes of me a second chance and understood when I screwed it up. He didn’t revel in my pain. He picked me up and gave me a reason to live.”

Salmon turned around and went to leave. The space he had come through was gone. He could no longer go that way. He turned to see the monster smiling. He held his ground waiting for Salmon to break. The monster was not going to let him leave. Salmon frantically searched for a way out but found none.

“The more you try to struggle, the more I wrap around you. I am not called a snake for no reason at all. You can claim what you want. You can pledge allegiance to whoever you will. But a piece of you will always be mine. You can not change that no matter how much you try. Many have tried but not many have succeeded. There was One but why bring Him into it.

“All the rest have fallen on many occasions. Moses was a great leader but he failed. David fell at the feet of another man’s wife. Judas succumbed to power and money. None but One are immune to my power. You are not the one! Claim what you want but you are and always will be mine.”

Salmon looked at the monster, It was right. He would always be his. He knew no matter whom he pledged allegiance to that he would always come back to the monster. He knew it. Salmon smiled softly and walked towards the monster.

“You are right. Part of me will always be yours. There will be, just like all mankind, a part that you control. But that does not mean you have total control. We poor beings that you love to browbeat are human and are faulty. We make mistakes and we do so in spite of the one we pledge allegiance to.

“You try to scare us with your nonsense that you try to snare us with. You rush in and try to fill the void that is left after we fall flat on our faces. We fail and you slide in and try to show us that we are a failure. Listen to me monster. You have dogged me since I got here. You have tried over and over again to turn me to your side and every time it does not work I told you to leave me alone but you have not. You showed me all my faults and yet you do not get the picture.

“I belong to another. You may throw your sticks and stones at me. You can hurl your insults at me all you want. I will falter. I may fall down and fail the One that I pledge allegiance to but I will not go back on the allegiance that I have pledged.

Salmon looked right into the monster’s fiery red eyes.

“I will say this slow and loud enough for you to understand. I pledge allegiance to the One who died for me. I pledge allegiance to the One who created this world. I give Him my unconditional love and my unconditional praise and worship. You have not earned it but He has. He showed his love for me when He let Himself die in my place. You did no such thing nor would you.”

The monster stepped back as if in fear. He smiled then shook his hands as he lifted them over his head. Suddenly he laughed. As he did he dropped his hands.

“You are very funny. You let yourself believe what you want. Go ahead and humor yourself. Many others have said what you said and have come back to me on bended knee, begging for me to take them back and I did.”

Salmon looked at the monster. It had raised it’s hands yet again but this time heads came up with no bodies from the mist. The heads of Caesar, Napoleon, Hitler and Rameses. Each one of them were in extreme agony.

“Each of these poor unfortunate souls did what you did. They claimed to worship and ally themselves to another. But in the end they gave in and now they belong to me.

The monster looked at Salmon. He nodded his head and the four heads nodded at the same time. The monster’s face turned to a snarl and he hissed and spit.

“You go and pledge yourself to that ONE! He will treat you like you don’t matter. He will ignore you!” The monster moved closer as the disembodied heads sank into the mist, “You want to leave this place. You want to find your way out. Then do so without help. I will not open a way. Pray to the ONE for help. Maybe he will hear you, if he is not asleep!”

Salmon watched as the monster slowly faded away. He found himself in a space, the same space he had walked into. The mist remained but all else was gone. He looked for a way out but found now. Salmon looked for what seemed hours. He finally gave up and realized that he was not going to get out. He looked for something to sit on and found a nearby rock. He looked at his situation and wondered. He knew he had done the right thing. Salmon cocked his head. He heard a sound. He could not tell where it was coming from but he heard it none the less.

Salmon looked around looking. He searched again for a way out but still found none. At first he thought it was the monster coming back but was mistaken. The voice sounded so sweet. He tried to get his directions from the voice but was unable to. He continued to search and finally threw his hands up in despair and heard another voice laughing in evil glee.

“I am here. You will come back to Me. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!”

Salmon shook his head and frantically searched for an opening, but found none. The more he searched the more despair came into his mind. He again sat down.

“What am I going to do? Why didn’t I listen to Jaaziel? What will happen to me?”

He wanted to sit and cry. He had been through so much and it was all his doing. He didn’t have to come into the mountain range but he did. He chose the path he was on right now. He had to figure out how to get out. He cocked his head again. He could hear the voice so clearly

“GET READY! THE BRIDEGROOM COME! GET READY! THE BRIDEGROOM COMES!”

Suddenly a space opened up in the wall of stone. It was a straight line through the mountain. Salmon could see the plains below. He got up and walked to it and hesitated. He pushed his hand through to make sure it was not an illusion. He found it wasn’t and ran. He ran straight to the plains and came out the other side. Jaaziel was sitting, waiting and reading his book.

Jaaziel looked up at Salmon. He smiled. Closed his book and took Salmon by the hand. The saw gates in front of them. They walked together thru the gates. In the distance they could see a castle.

Chapter 8

The Cry

The castle was large. A lot larger then anyone could imagine. It was stone gray. Huge blocks of granite had been placed, block by block onto each other, to build this marvel. It soared into the sky higher and higher. It looked like it touched the sky itself. The main gate was so large and tall that a giant could walk through it without having to stoop it’s back. There was a moat around it. It was deep. Deeper then all the oceans put together and yet you could see the bottom without the need of any assistance.

The parapets seemed to scrape heaven itself. Atop of each one stood a gargoyle. Each was different. The first gargoyle was that of a winged lion. The second was that of a centaur. The third was that of a four headed leopard with four wings. The fourth was that of angel. It was unusual for it seemed not to fit. They all seemed so lifelike but made of stone.

In the distance, these statues with sightless eyes could see Salmon and Jaaziel. They didn’t wait with baited breath for their coming. They wouldn’t jump for joy when they got to the castle. They would in fact do nothing at all. At the side of the centaur hung a door. There were doors at the side of all the statues. No one ever used them anymore. The statues stood just as they had for a thousand years. they were always alone and they liked it that way. They were content to sit on their perch and keep the evil spirits away.

 

*****************************************************

 

Salmon looked at the castle from far away. it still looked so imposing. It stood out like a sore thumb.

“How long has that castle been here?” Salmon asked no one in particular.

“I can answer that question.” a voice answered

Salmon looked down to see a fairy. But not just any fairy. It was Gittith. Salmon smiled softly and bent down to touch her shoulder. Gittith avoided his hand and flew up to his shoulder and made herself comfortable. Gittith spoke softly into Salmon’s ear.

“The castle has been for thousands of years. It is said that it was here before the world was created. Others say that it the first creation of the One for He needed a place to reside. I tend to believe the latter.”

Salmon smiled. He knew that Gittith would tell nothing but the truth. He softly patted the fairy on it’s little back.

Suddenly they hears a cry. It was far off but hear it they did. Salmon looked in the distance. Jaaziel also looked up. Gittith flew off before any realized that she was gone. They listened to the sound but they could not quite make out what was being said. They hurried along wanting to understand what was being said. As they neared the castle, they could start to understand what was being said.

“The Bridegroom is….”

That is what they heard. the sound stayed the same until they were close enough to hear all of it.

“The Bridegroom is a coming!” They heard more.

“The wedding feast is dawning! Keep watching the eastern sky, For the chosen day and hour!”

The cry stopped for a second and then started again.

“The time is near, When in clouds of glory He’ll appear. Sing for the end of fear. From the midnights lonely tower.”

Gittith came flying back. Almost like she had a royal commandment that could not wait.

‘HE comes! The Bridegroom comes. HE IS COMING! The one we have waited for all these centuries is coming. Praise be the Father of all! The Bridegroom is coming.”

Salmon tried to get Gittith to calm down. He spoke to her softly and held her till she was calm. He spoke to her.

“Who is the bridegroom ?”

Gittith looked at Salmon like he had called her some ugly name. She rolled her pretty green eyes and shrugged her shoulders. She flew away and then came back. She understood that he could not be held responsible for being ignorant.

“The Bridegroom. The Father’s Son. He is coming. He is coming!”

Salmon shook his head. He did not understand. Who was the bridegroom. Who is the Father’s Son. No one seemed to want to answer him. He let go of Jaaziel’s hand and walked away slowly. He walked to a tree and sat down. He was so confused. He knew who the One was. He is the creator. But he does not know who the Son is. He covered his face and cried. He wanted to know but was ashamed for not knowing. Suddenly he felt a hand on his shoulder. He looked up to see a woman in white. She smiled down at him and spoke so softly that only he could hear her.

“Do not cry my child. You will know who the Son is soon. He will show Himself to all those who are true believers in Him. Those who do not believe in Him will see Him as He is. A judge and righteous one.

“I sense in you my child that you are a believer. You know who the Son is but you have lost your way. You have supped with him and drank with Him and enjoyed His company. You will know soon my son. He is calling out to those who are willing to be the announcers of his coming. Those who are willing to take the abuse and scorn of those who do not wish to believe. He is raising up a people that are willing to go the distance. The world will know who they are because they will see Him in them. I must go now for He calls me.

“Take care my child and know that He loves you even if you have doubts. Believe. That’s all you need do. Believe.”

The woman walked away and Salmon noticed that she was dressed all in white. She walked like she had a purpose. She walked like a woman that was on a mission and no one was going to stop her. Salmon waved after her and noticed she was gone. Gittith flew over and smiled at Salmon.

“Do you know who the Bridegroom is yet?”

Salmon nodded. He stood up and placed Gittith on his shoulder. He took Jaaziel by the hand they continues towards the castle. He walked with a purpose now. He wanted to see the Bridegroom. He wanted to bow before Him. He wanted……..

Suddenly the cry went out again but this time it was different. The words were not the same.

“God is raising up a people…clothed in light. Holy people to stand through the watch of the night.

“God is raising up a people…Robed in truth and they know what the Father has told them to do.

“Don’t be left with a lonely heart. Don’t be left in a world of doubt. When you can live in the Fatherland. Love too deep to comprehend.”

The figure looked down and smiled. He pointed down towards Salmon.

“Do you understand that the cry goes out for you! Will you come and join the people…standing on the heights. Holy people brave enough to carry the fight.”

Salmon stopped in his tracks. The crier was pointing at him. He felt so ashamed. He was not worthy to join those people on the heights. He was not worthy. He did not know what to do. He thought he had come so far but in fact he had not. He thought he knew himself but he did not. His fathers words came back ringing in his ears.

`You tried to be the best man you could be but as usual you screwed it up.’

Salmon shook the words away but couldn’t get rid of them. The same words echoed in his head over and over again.

“SCREW UP! SCREW UP!”

Salmon covered his ears and ran. He ran as fast as he could. He had to get away from the screaming. He left Jaaziel and Gittith behind and ran as fast as he could. The faster he ran the louder the words became. He screamed and screamed. He knew that he could not stand with those on the ridge. He had no right. He was a screw up. He would always be a screw up. He found a spot to sit and thought about all his life has been. One screw up after another. He sat back and closed his eyes. Sleep came quickly.

Chapter 9

Let My People Go

Water softly flowed in the creek bed as Salmon woke up. He looked around and found he was not in the same spot as when he drifted off. He was not scared as most people would be. This place seemed so peaceful and warm. He could hear the birds softly singing in the trees. The branches were being softly moved by the gentle breeze. Animals were everywhere and none seemed the slightest bit scared of his presence.

Salmon stood up and the animals looked up at him but they did not move. He wandered over to the creek and knelt down for some water. He cupped his hand and brought the water up to his lips. It tasted like milk and honey. He placed his hand back into the water and little fish came close. Nothing seemed scared in this place. He looked around but saw no one.

Salmon sat back down and listened to all the noises. It felt so nice to hear the sweet sound of nature. He walked back to the place where he was sitting and saw a little boy. This was no ordinary little boy. This boy was in a wheelchair. Salmon smiled at him.

“Hello.” He said.

“Hello.” replied the boy.

“Where did you come from?” Salmon asked.

The little boy looked up at him. He smiled a little grin and then wheeled away. He looked back to see if Salmon was following. He was. He was walking at a distance but following he was. Joshua stopped and turned around. He waved for Salmon to hurry up.

“Come on! I don’t have all day and neither do you!”

Salmon hurried along and caught up with the little boy. He was puzzled. How did this boy get here and what was with that chair. He shook his head and let the boy lead him to where they were going. He wanted to say something but felt it best if he were to stay quiet and wait. Soon they were at the place where they were headed.

The building was large. It was of average height. The roof was a brown thatch roof. The walls were painted white.. The doors were solid oak with big brass hinges and handles that shone bright inb the sunlight.

The boy rang the bell and the door opened. A man stepped outside and held the door and the boy and Salmon walked in. He did not say a word. They walked down the hall to another door. Another man opened the door, again not saying a word. They entered into a large room. There were lots of pictures on the wall of different men. The ones that stood out were the ones on the back wall. Under the pictures were the words:

`WALL OF RECOVERED FAILURES’

Salmon looked at the pictures. He looked at each one intently. He looked at the names just as intently. Peter, Moses and David. Salmon looked at the little boy. He did not understand.

The little boy smiled. He moved to the first picture.

“This is Peter. He was a follower of the One. He was a good man, a family man. In fact he was more then that, he was a failure. To name just a couple:

He was timid and afraid.(1)
He denied his Lord three times. (2)
He was a coward.(3)

The little boy moved to the next picture. It was of a fierce looking man. He held his hands out and the water parted. The little boy mentioned that although he had performed wonders, he too was a failure. This is Moses:

He was Argumentative. (4)
He felt unworthy. (5)
He was given to anger. (6)

The little boy moved to the next picture. It was of a king. He sat on his throne in his majestic robes and royal posture. The little boy said that He was the greatest of all the kings, but that he too was a failure. This is David:

He was an adulterer. (7)
He was a liar. (8)
He was a murderer. (9)

The little boy moved over to Salmon. He smiled up at him and tilted his head. Salmon still didn’t understand. Salmon looked down at him and shook his head.

“I do not understand.”

The little boy sighed and then waved his hand. The silent man that was standing by the door came over. He looked at the boy. He smiled.

“Yes Master Joshua. What might I do for you?”

Joshua looked at the man. He pursed his lips then let out a soft sigh. He wagged his finger at the man. He was not upset but rather surprised that the man would use his name. No one had called him that for many years since he had been in Maschiah, but no matter.

“Eshton, would you please explain to Salmon all I have said.”

Eshton nodded.

“Salmon, I sense that you have no idea what Joshua is talking about.”

“You are right. I do not understand.” Salmon replied.

“Well then let me see if I can help you to understand. First of all you have to understand what a recovered failure is. We are all of us recovered failures. We fail at most everything we do. We fail our families and our friends. We fail our fellow workers and the people we see on the street. We even fail our God.

“Now depending on which God you follow depends on what the failure means to Him. The three men that Master Joshua talked about were all failures in one way or another. I hope that you understand that. If you don’t then we can always come back to that.

“The first one we will look at is Moses. As Master Joshua told you he was argumentative and given to anger. They are both failures that, if we have those failures, we can overcome very easily. All we have to do is do it. But his chief failure was that he felt unworthy. He felt unworthy to lead the children of the Sovereign into the promised land. It was a failure not in the Sovereign’s eyes but to Moses it was. That is something he never got over but with the help of the Sovereign, he was able to. The Sovereign used him anyways. That is what makes him a recovered failure.”

Salmon scratched his head. He understood but didn’t understand. He looked at the picture of Moses. He was such regal looking man and yet he was so ordinary. Moses was just a frail man with faults and yet the ONE used him. He thought he understood and yet was so unsure of himself.

“So let me see if I understand. Moses was a failure. Not in the Master’s eyes but in his own eyes and he thought of himself as a failure.”

Eshton smiled. He looked down at Joshua and then back at Salmon.

“Well not exactly. Yes he was a failure in his own eyes but he was also a failure to a certain extent in the Master’s eyes. He had faith to do the things he knew he could do but he did not have the faith that was needed to see what the Master could do. To a certain extent we all do that. We tend to not let the Master work through us because we lack the faith to believe that He can do it. Does that make sense?”

Salmon nodded and then Eshton interrupted Salmon’s thought. He moved towards the picture of Jeeseson. Salmon looked at the picture

“This is David. He was one of the if not the greatest of the kings. He was fair and just. He did not do anything that would consider him a failure. Or did he.” Eshton smiled, “He was a failure just like Moses. He murdered, lied, stole, committed adultery. Yet the Master used him.”

Salmon looked at the picture. It was such a royal picture. He seemed like such a like-able fellow. It was hard to believe that he was a failure. He had reached the highest point of power known to man at that point. How could he be the things that Eshton said he was.

The king was dressed in a purple robe. It was draped around him and covered his other clothes. He sat on the throne, left leg stretched out and his right leg pulled in under him. He was smiling a boyish grin that seemed right for him. In the window in back of him you could see the sky. It was a bright blue with small fluffy clouds going by. You could almost hear the screaming of his people as they cried out his name. He looked like a much loved king.

“Salmon!”

Salmon looked at Eshton. He had been so lost in thought that he failed to hear him. He had been blathering on about David and Salmon didn’t hear a word of it. Eshton smiled and then started again.

“You might think that this man was not a failure yet he was. He murdered a man just so that he could have his wife. He laid with this man’s wife and made her with child. He not only committed adultery but to cover it up he murdered the woman’s husband and then took her as his own. He failed the Master and yet the Master used him. He took the first child but gave him another.”

Salmon looked at the picture again. How could this man who looked so regal and gentle murder a man? He didn’t understand it and yet he was beginning to understand what Eshton was talking about. Even though David and Moses were flawed, The Master used them. Eshton looked at him.

“Do you understand yet? Traveled all this way and now you are just beginning to understand. I think that the last of the pictures will open your eyes. He is the worst of all. Well not exactly the worst but he is in the top ten of failures.”

Salmon looked at the the picture of Peter. Here was a burly man. Tall with huge hands and feet. He looked like he could take care of himself and handle a whole army by himself. You could see in his eyes that he was a family man. He kept pictures of his kids in his eyes. He loved them with a never ending love. Salmon smiled. He did the same thing as he guessed all fathers did. He kept pictures of his kids in his eyes. He always saw them without knowing it. Part of the joy of being a father was seeing your kids no matter where you were.

“This is as Master Joshua said, Peter. He was one of the Master most devoted followers but even he was a failure. He loved the Master very much and yet was a coward. He denied his Master three times. He lied about knowing his Master. Three people asked him basically the same question and three times he said the same thing. `I DON’T KNOW HIM!’ Now what makes him a recovered failure.

“Even though he denied his Master, and lied about knowing Him. the Master used him. Peter holds the keys to the kingdom. The Master uses him still even though he failed. He cries out the same thing that Moses did all those centuries ago. LET MY PEOPLE GO!”

Eshton looked at Joshua then back at Salmon.

“Do you understand now? Is it clear to you? The choice is yours. You can roll the dice and take your chances.”

Salmon looked at all the pictures and saw people that he did not know and yet they were all the Master’s. They were all failures in one way or another. Just like he was. A failure. He failed as a father and as a husband. He failed as a son. He failed as a Christian. He was a major screw-up and yet God still used him to carry on the shouting. He was to scream those words and join those people on the heights. The cross he carries use to weigh him down. He felt unworthy to carry it but carry it he did.”

Salmon looked at Eshton and Joshua. He smiled the biggest smile he could. He looked like the cat that had just swallowed the canary.

“Yes I understand now. Just because I fail the Master now and then, that should not stop me from serving him the best way I can. I am prone to failure just like all His children. All we have to do is try to do our best and spread His word to all that will listen. I must walk in His way no matter the cost and try my best. Yes I understand now.”

Salmon closed his eyes. He opened them to find himself in the same spot that he was in before.

“It must have been a dream.” he thought to himself.

Salmon got up and started to walk towards the castle. He came upon Gittith and Jaaziel. He smiled at them and then walked with them to the castle. He could still hear the crier crying out. Salmon smiled. He knew what he must do. They reached the corner of the castle and the crier looked down at Salmon. He pointed his finger at Salmon.

“Will you come and join the people on the heights? Are you brave enough to carry on the fight? Are you Salmon Harris? Are you?”

Salmon looked up at the crier and nodded. He raised his hands to the sky and screamed.

“Let My People GO!”

The crier smiled and turned around and continued his cry. Salmon took Jaaziel’s hand and joined the people on the heights. He watched as he took his spot. He saw those who had been with him as he traveled. Sisera, Zion Diadem, Jaaziel, Gittith. He looked down the line to see Moses and David. He saw Peter and other people he did not know. He looked closer to him and saw Joshua and Eshton. He smiled. It was not a dream. It was real.

Salmon looked down the line as far as he could see. They were passing something. He could not make out what it was but it was being passed from person to person. Each person held it for the slightest of moments then passed it on to the next person.

Chapter 10

The Flame Passes On

Gittith held the flame with the help of Salmon. He held it for her for she was too small to hold it herself. Fairies are not that big and they have real problems holding human size articles. She smiled softly and let Salmon have the Flame completely. He took the flame and wanted to pass it on but he could not. Something insisted that he look into the flame. He looked at the flame and suddenly frowned. It was showing him something that he did not want to see. Salmon tried to avert his eyes but it was not to be.

The flame was showing him all of history. It started with creation. Adam and Eve. Eve being tricked by the serpent and Adam giving in as well. Cain killing able because of jealousy. It showed him Noah and all the persecution that he took for being faithful to God. It showed him the slavery of the Israelites and how they were treated under the yolk of the Egyptians. It showed him the travels through the desert under Moses and how they were treated by some of the inhabitants. It showed him the exiles and how some of the chosen ones were treated. It showed him all the persecution that they endured and the fact that God had not forgotten them. Even though they turned their backs on Him, He never turned his back on them.

Salmon tried to avert his eyes but found that he couldn’t. He continued to stare at the scenes that were flooding towards him.

He saw the birth of the Saviour. His life and ministry. He saw the terrible way that he was beaten by the Romans. He witnessed the people that said they loved Him, turn their backs on Him and yell out the words crucify. He saw and heard the three times that Peter denied his Master. He watched as this man was forced to carry His cross up the hill to Golgotha. The way the nails were driven into His hands and feet and yet he didn’t utter a word. He screamed in pain yes, for He was human but He did not cry out for them to stop. He knew that His death would be the final sacrifice that His Father would accept. He saw the punishment that was set upon Judas for betraying his friend.

Salmon saw the burial of this Man and how his followers took care of Him. The wrapped him in fine clothes but did not have time to cover Him with the burial spices. He saw Mary come to the grave to find not only Him gone but an angel sitting on the rock. He saw her run to His other followers to tell them that all He said had come true. He had promised that if they destroyed the temple. He meant His body but no one understood that at the time. They thought He spoke of the Temple. He saw the Ascension of this Man and how he promised that He would come back the way that He left.

Salmon looked away to see all the face looking at him. They each had a smile on their faces. He didn’t understand why. He looked down at Gittith.

“Why are you all smiling at me?”

Gittith looked up at him and smiled an even bigger smile.

“Because you are finding out everything. From the very beginning to the present. You are learning all that God wants you to know. You are finding out who the Bridegroom is. You are finding out that Jesus is the Bridegroom and that He gave His life for His bride. You are finding out that He has gone to build a mansion for His bride. There is more to come Salmon Harris. You have more to see and learn. God has a purpose for you. Look back into the flame.”

Salmon did as he was asked. He looked back into the flame. He saw the followers of Jesus all gathered wailing and wanting to know what to do. He saw the descent of the spirit and how it fell onto each one of them causing them, each one to speak in a different language. He saw how each of the followers died proclaiming that Jesus was who he said He was. Paul was be-headed. Peter was crucified on a upside down cross. The rest were all killed except for the one that Jesus loved the most.

He saw as each of the followers of Jesus passed on the very same flame that he was holding onto another to carry on the work that Jesus started. This is the same flame that had been passed from generation to generation. It was the same flame that was passed when the Romans persecuted the Christians for believing and praying to a God that was against the law. It was the same flame that was passed on down through the centuries and down through the millennium from father to daughter and from mother to son. It was the same flame that was passed on through two world wars and through the internment camps by Christians. It is the same flame that is passed on now. Passed on from believer to believer. From one generation to another generation.

Salmon looked up from the flame. He looked right into the eyes of the Crier. He smiled softly and put his hand on Salmon’s shoulder. He spoke softly yet all that were in the line of believers could hear him.

“This flame has been passed from hand to hand down through time. It has always said the same thing. From the heart of the people comes love for the people. Love that is burning strong. Oh from one to another, this dream of forever …..the flame passes on.

“Because of the men and women that have passed on this flame, this world knows the name of Jesus Christ. They have sacrificed their lives and their families to pass the flame. To proclaim the name of Jesus Christ as Lord of all. They did it because that is what He wishes of us. To proclaim His name in all the corners of the earth.

“Down through the centuries, tyrants have tried to crush this mutiny that is called Christianity. They refuse to see the truth. But for those who have seen the truth, it has set them free. People all over the world know who this Jesus is. Through the pages of an illumined book, the word of this Jesus has spread and grew and this light, no matter hard they try, can not be put out. Generation after generation have come to know this Jesus.

“Salmon Harris, are you ready to pass on this flame to your children and then with their help. pass it on to their children and so on and so forth. Are you ready to take the persecution that comes with this flame. The weird looks when you sit in a public place and give thanks when those around you don’t know the Jesus you know. It will not be an easy thing to do Salmon Harris. No where is it written that following Jesus is easy, but the rewards are great for those who can continue to pass on the flame. Passing it on is one thing but keeping a part of it inside you also part. The choice is yours Salmon Harris.”

Salmon looked at the flame and then back at the Crier. He smiled and took a part of the flame and placed it over his heart. He felt the warmth and he could it feel it go through his body and into his heart. It warmed him. He knelt down and cried out.

“I am yours Lord Jesus. Take me and make me into the creature you want me to be. Help me to pass on this flame to my children and one day to my grandchildren.”

Salmon got back to his feet and looked down the line of believers. They were all clapping their hands and praising God. He smiled and watched as Gittith flew up to his shoulder. She kissed him softly on the cheek.

“Oh the light of the ages illumines the pages. The words of an ancient song. O faith is the fire that burns ever higher and the flame passes on. So lets lift the cross and proclaim the name of Jesus to the world.”

Salmon smiled and then waved to all those he met He started to walk down the mountain. Gittith came after him. She took his hand and guided him off the mountain. She took him to the tree line and would go no further. She smiled and then flew off back into the trees. Salmon walked down and smiled. All this time and he had finally learned who Jesus really was. Salmon looked at his watch. It was three in the afternoon. He had started this adventure five days ago and yet time had passed as normal here. Salmon found his car. He got in, started the engine and made his way home. He had many things to tell his wife and children.

Epilogue

Salmon sits on his porch. He rocks gently in his chair and watches the children play in his front yard. He watches as his son sits with him and watches his children play with each other. Salmon slaps his son on the back. He cries out to the only girl.

“Gittith, come and give your old grandpa a hand up. I am not as young as I use to be.”

Gittith runs up and helps Salmon up. He walks to the door and smiles. She watches and then sits on her father’s lap. She smiles up at him.

“Papa. may I ask you a question?”

“Yes.”

“Why is my name such a funny one? It sounds like something you would give a fairy.”

“Yes it does doesn’t it.” he replied.

Joshua sat with his daughter and watched the bids fly by. They danced in the sky and then stopped and sat in the trees. They chirped and sang their song, almost as if they were stopping to praise the Holy One. Gittith watched them then heard a crash in the house. Joshua put her down in the chair then rushed in. He found Salmon on the floor.

“Papa.” he started. “Dad, wake up.”

Salmon didn’t move. Joshua stood up and grabbed the phone and dialed 911. He quickly walked out and closed the door to the house after sending the children up to their rooms. He waited for the ambulance to get there but knew that his father would not be coming back. He sat on the floor beside him and tried not to cry but the tears came anyways. Standing up he gripped the table for support and then found the note.

`Joshua, keep the flame passing on. Keep telling my little ones about the Lord Jesus Christ. Don’t ever stop. Praise Him everyday and keep the flame in your heart.’

************************************

On the heights, the people standing hand in hand has grown. Day after day their number grows. Salmon is found there right beside Gittith. He is holding her hand and watching as the flame passes on. More and more people coming to know the Lord Jesus Christ. He smiles softly and then waits for his children to join the line. He looks down and sees his wife. She smiles and then passes the flame on.

 

The End

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Merry Christmas!

Christmas, a time for presents, family, indulgence and parties. When we over eat, over drink and over everything. We tend to forget what this day means. Is it all about gifts and parties and over indulgence or is it about the baby born in a manger all those years ago.

To some it is just about family. The holidays are a time to get together and maybe it is the only time that they see family at all. It’s a time to get all gussied up and go to church for the first and probably only time. To some it is a time to avoid every one and be a humbug.

To me it is family, feasting and the child born in a manger. For aside from the child, there would be no Christmas. Sure there would be the Winter Solstice that celebrates the new sun but to me and as important as that is, it doesn’t deserve a celebration.

I think Linus from the Peanuts gang said it best.

Peanuts Christmas

Isaiah  prophesied about Jesus and was very direct.

isaiah 96

Micah predicted the birthplace of the Messiah.

Micah52

I could go on and on but alas, I don’t have all day. So let me say this.

Jesus Christ, King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Fairest of Ten Thousand! Was born to die. He was born so that man (male and female) could be saved from the evils of this world. That is what this day is all about. The birth of a child who would be the final and greatest sacrifice that man has ever made. Even if you don’t worship him, acknowledge who He is. Because you see, even Santa knows the reason for the season.

Santa Reason

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night. Have a wonderful holidays and enjoy your family and friends. Treasure them for they will not be around forever. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

 

“Keep Looking Up! For His coming is Nigh!”

Thank You!

Thanksgiving. The time to give thanks for all you have. To gather with family and enjoy their company, whether we like them or not. We gather to see what has changed. Who is with who and who has split up with who.

We give thanks for family and friends. We give thanks for events that happen in our lives. Our children, our job, our health. But in some families, thanks are never given to the One that made it all possible.

Being thankful for something is so important for so many reasons. To show that you are so appreciative of the items your given. To acknowledge the giver and show them respect. Being thankful is not a reason to boast about how much money or how much you have succeeded and how much you have. It’s about the little things. It’s about family.

I keep saying family.

Family is important. Family defines us. Makes us what we are. Sometimes for the good and sometimes for the bad. Family makes us realize that no matter what, we are accepted as we are at least somewhere. Maybe it is blood and sometimes it is not. Sometimes that family is a bunch of strangers that have come together for no other reason than a need to belong. They get to know each other. Their quirks and their habits. They depend on each other, just like a real family made of up of parents and siblings.

Sometimes a family is made up of people in a virtual world that may never actually meet ever and yet they see themselves as family. Husband and wife. Brothers and sister, aunts and uncles, sons and daughters. Even family friends. Loved by each other and cared for by each other. Sharing each others pain and good times. Celebrating when things go good. When someone wins a bike race, or an award for good work. Rejoicing in the love that is there for each other, virtual or real.

Venting at each other and yelling. Calling each other out and convicting them, cause they know you or they did wrong. Walking away knowing for better or worse, they  love you no matter what. They bust you for something that you did then turn around and trust you. It is love they are showing.

I have that kind of family in Second Life. We may never ever meet but they have become such an important part of my life. I would not be the same without them. When we are together, which doesn’t happen as much as I would like, I am thankful for each and everyone of them. They are part me, not only in SL but also in my real life. We share our pains. We know when things are going on and who is hurting. We send out prayers for each other and when we say “i love you” we know that it is a real love.

Family is wonderful thing. Be thankful for the family that you have. Real or virtual or both. Love them with a never ending love. Love them with all their warts and scars. Their ugly faults and their wonderful pluses. You only get one family.

What am I thankful for? I am thankful that I have a wonderful wife who loves me no matter what and gave me my life back. I am thankful for my siblings, even when they are a pain in my butt. I am thankful that I have a place to live and food in my stomach. For there was a time when a van was my home for a while or a tent or a nursing home floor was my bed. Most of all, I am thankful that I have a God that loved me enough to die for me.

Jesus didn’t have to die for me. He could have just walked away from it all and said “nope, you are all on your own!” but he didn’t. He laid down His life for me and you and all of mankind. He did so cause he wanted to. He did so to fulfill the Father’s plan. He spread his arms and died so that I might have eternal life. I am thankful for that.

Folks, be thankful for something this Thanksgiving. Even if it is only a little thing. Love your friends and your family. Love them with an unconditional love that knows no bounds. If you need friends, then go make some. If you are not sure how, then a simple handshake is a good start.

I will start. If you are in Second Life and need a friend, IM me and send me a friend request. Ask anyone (but her and her and her and her and him and her and her and him) I am a real nice guy.

Lastly, be thankful for the life you have. It may not be much or it might be a lot. Be thankful nonetheless. Give thanks to God for all you have, no matter the God that you serve. If you can, share some of what you have and give someone else a reason to be thankful this Thanksgiving!

 

“Keep Looking Up! His Coming Is Nigh!”

Gabriela

The little girl sat on the couch. She giggled at the picture of her parents kissing. Her eyes were wide, bright and full of life. She giggled louder when she turned the page and saw another one of them kissing. He daddy’s hand was up held in a fist with his thumb sticking up. He looked so happy.

 “And what pray tell are you doing?” someone asked.

 She didn’t look up as she giggled. “You and mommy kissing.”

 He walked over and sat beside his daughter. She was and always would be as pretty as a picture. He looked at the picture and laughed. Those were indeed good time but those times were over and done with. There was no going back.

 “Daddy why were you so happy then?”

 “Well sweetheart, because mommy was happy and God had given me the one woman I was going to spend the rest of my life with. My soul mate.”

 “Why aren’t you happy now? Were you happier before we came along? Did Payton, Tristan and I do something wrong?”

 “No you children are not to blame. You are the only good things that came out of this marriage. As for the rest of the reasons, you are not old enough to understand.”

 They looked at the pictures together. He laughed and cried with each one. Angel giggled with each one specially the ones of her parents kissing. She had kissed her daddy once when he had shadow and it tickled. When they got to the last page, she looked at her father and kissed his hairy face. She closed the book and then held his hand.

 “I’m gonna pray to Jesus every night that you and mommy get back together.”

 “If you wish. He doesn’t seem to listen to me anymore.”

 “Sure he does daddy. You just have to listen.”

 Mario was about to say something when Angel jumped down and ran into the back yard. She reached the yard and turned back towards him.

 “Bye daddy. I’ll be back later.”

*******************************

 Angel Rocha was eight years old. She could be like all children, little devils. But sometimes she could be wise beyond her years. Her long blond hair hung down to her lower back. Her blue eyes shone like fine blue sapphires. She turned around and was gone from sight.

 He waved at her but was too late. She ran into her brothers as they were playing. Mario went to the door and watched them. He watched them hug and then run into the makeshift fort that he had helped them build. He saw Angel look at him as she went in. She held up her hand with a raised thumb and smiled, then she went inside the fort . She sat down and looked at her brothers.

 “We have to pray to Jesus.”

 “For?” Her older brother Payton asked.

 “So that mommy and daddy will get back together.”

 “But daddy doesn’t believe anymore.” Tristan replied.

 Angel looked at him and then smiled. She reached over and stroke his cheek softly.

 “Sure he does, he just doesn’t realize it. He is hurting and needs help. We have to start on him first.”

 Tristan looked at Payton. They shrugged their shoulders then nodded their heads in unison. They each took one of Angel’s hands then grasped each others. They bowed their heads and Angel spoke slowly.

 “Jesus, please help our daddy to believe again. We know that you love him and so do we. Oh and God, help our daddy and mommy get back together again.”

 Tristan peeked at his sister and slowly nodded his head to himself. Not bad, he thought. He spoke slowly also.

 “Dear God, please help our daddy. We know that he still believes in you but that he blames you for mommy leaving. We know that it isn’t your fault and we want him to know that too. Also God, help our mommy and daddy get back together again.”

Payton kept his eyes closed and nodded his head in agreement. He was the oldest and he was almost thirteen. His short brown hair was cropped close to his head. He liked it that way. He spoke softly as if it were a private prayer rather then a public one.

 “Father God, I agree with Angel and Tristan. I ask for the believing to come back to dad. I love him so much and I know he needs to come back to you.

 “Lord Jesus, I bring my mom to you too. I love her too and I want her and dad to get back together. I know he misses her. I can hear him crying at night. Help them to come together and at least talk things out.

 “Lord, be with us as we continue to pray for mom and day. Encourage us to set things in motion and Lord if we can’t then please Jesus, step in and get things moving. In Jesus name. Amen.”

 Payton opened his eyes to see Angel and Tristan looking at him. He raised his hands.

 “What?”

 Angel crawled over and hugged him and then kissed his cheek.

 “What was that for?”

 “Because I love you.”

 Payton smiled and then pushed her away. “Get away from me ya mutant.”

 The laughter grew louder until it spilled into the yard. Mario looked out the door and saw the children come running out and into the house. The phone rang and Angel was the closest one to it. She picked it up.

 “Hello, Rocha residence.”

 “Hello my angel.”

 “MOMMY!” she cried.

 “Hello my baby. Is daddy home?”

 Angel looked up at Payton and then shoved him the phone. She ran through the house calling for Mario. Payton put the receiver to his ear.

 “Hi mom.”

 “Hello Payton, how is my big boy?”

 “I’m okay, I wish you would come home. We all miss you. Dad misses you the most.”

 “I know baby, but your father and I have a lot to talk about before that can happen. We will see. How is Tristan?”

 Payton handed Tristan the phone and watched as his little brother spoke into the mouth piece.

 “Hi mommy. I love you!”

 “Hey honey, how is my little guy?”

 “I miss you mommy.” Tristan started to cry and almost hung up. He felt the strong hand of his father on his shoulder as he took the phone.

 “Hello Linda, did you call to bust my chops again?”

 “No, I called to let you know that I have to go away for a few days. Some conference and I have to go if I want to survive. I need you to say it is okay if they stay with you till I come back.”

 “No Linda it is not a problem. They are my children too. Enjoy your conference.” Mario hung up the phone and then sat down.

<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>

  Mario Rocha was a proud man. He was proud when his children were born and he strutted around like a peacock. He was proud of his Italian heritage and that he had, even though people said he shouldn’t, kept his native language. He loved his children and would give his life for them. He loved them so much that he had them tattooed onto his back.

 Back when he was an angry young man and he was on the brink of prison, he had met Linda. She brought him from the brink of destruction. She loved him for who he was. She didn’t care about what he had done all those years ago. She had become his world and she was never to leave it. It had been her that had brought him back to Christ. She had been so patient with him. All those years ago then he had to lash out at her a few months ago and she left him.

 He was so proud when Payton had been born. It was so hard to believe that a man with such anger could produce such a good thing. He was even prouder when Tristan was born. Then Angel came along. She was the one that was not suppose to be. She was their miracle baby.

 After Tristan had been born, he had been diagnosed with testicular cancer. He won the battle but had been told that he would never father another child. Then months later Linda said she was pregnant. He questioned it but when he saw her he knew that this little child was his own. There was no mistake. The doctors were wrong or it could have been the Lord that made it happen. He didn’t care, all he knew was that she was his blood.

 Now his life was in shambles. His marriage was over. He had lost his first love and didn’t know how to get it back. He didn’t even know if he wanted it back. The only reason he existed was for his kids. His life was empty and he liked it that way. He stood and walked away from the phone table. It was quiet and he walked into the playroom. Payton was playing on his Xbox and Tristan was reading. He looked for Angel and found her curled up with her huge teddy bear, using the stomach as a pillow, sleeping soundly. He looked at each one of them then walked away.

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 Linda Rocha sat at her desk. She glanced at the pictures of her children and the one of Mario. They were her lifeline. They would be her lifeline while she struggled to kick her habit. She had struggled all of her life. She just couldn’t shake the drugs. They mocked her when she tried to get clean. They whispered in her ear and said awful things. She cried and cried and every time she gave into them. She didn’t call out to God because she felt that what God wouldn’t want her as one of His children.

 She, although hard, she stayed clean throughout her marriage and when she had found out that she was pregnant with Payton, she gave them up totally. She stayed clean with Tristan and Angel. Then things exploded. That’s when the drugs reared their ugly head again. She fell into the trap all over again. She tried to hide it from Mario but he knew that she was having a hard time. He tried to hide it from the children and act like everything was okay but his patience ran out. He lashed out at her and she left. Left her children behind and made the drugs her best friend.

 Linda wasn’t a bad person. She wasn’t misunderstood either. She knew what she was doing and that it was bad for her. She knew that she had no one to blame but herself. She understood that she was an addict and that it was her fault. Linda had believed in God once. There was a time that she would have run to Him with the slightest problem. Now she tries to hide those problems from Him.

 Linda had not told Mario the truth. It was not a conference that she was going to. Rather a court appointed detox to clean out her body. She had tried to sell herself to get drugs. She tried it with an undercover cop. She had had a choice. Either go to prison and spend five years there or take the detox. She had a choice and she chose the detox. For the next five weeks, she was going to be guarded by prison guards. Not allowed to leave the premises nor was she allowed any visitors. She could only talk to the other patients. She would be watched like a hawk and she would get clean. It was not going to be a walk in the park. It was going to be hard. The hardest thing she had ever done.

 Linda sat on the edge of her bed. She took the pictures of her kids and the one of Mario and put them into her bag. She pulled the one of Mario out and kissed it softly. She wept silently and whispered.

“I am doing this to win you back.”

 With her bags packed and she was ushered out to the car. She was off to the center to do her time. She was alone now or at least she thought she was.

  <><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><> 

 Green Hills Rehab was not a new business. They had been around for decades but it was a new building. They had all the same equipment that all the posh rehab center’s did except for the fact they didn’t cater to the rich and famous. They charged far less and were not afraid of taking government money. They accepted all the medical plans that were available. They even took a pro-bono case from time to time. There were no movie stars here. The people in Green Hills had real problems not made up ones.

 Linda was ushered into the main seating hall. Every new member had to listen to a message from the founder. It was a taped message for the founder had died many years ago. She found a seat and got comfortable. Two women sat beside her and they both looked at her and grunted.

 “God works in mysterious ways. God does things that seem impossible to the mere mortal but to Him they are not all that impossible but then again God is the God of impossibility. He will do the same for you is you let him.”

 The tape stopped and a woman stepped up to the microphone. She looked out around the crowd and smiled softly. She moved closer and then spoke softly.

 “My name is Mrs. Gwendolyn Myers. I am the administrator at Green Hills. Some of you have been here before and know the speech that I am about to give. Some of you have only heard it once while some of you are new and have never heard it.

 “Let’s get one thing clear. There is a zero tolerance policy enforced here and there are NO exceptions. There are no drugs here unless you have been prescribed them by your doctor. You will not find your drug of choice here. There is no smoking, no alcohol, no sex and certainly no swearing tolerated here.

 “You will be each assigned a caregiver to attend to you. She or he will be with you at all times. They will keep a daily journal about you. Everything you do, say or act upon will be jotted down. Every night the journals will be read by me and then the necessary actions taken if there are any to be taken.

 “Let us be brutally honest here. You are all addicts. You have a drug of choice. It may be cocaine or heroine. It might be pain killers or speed. It might be alcohol or methamphetamine’s. To say that I don’t know what you are going through would be a lie.”Mrs Myers lifted her arms and pulled down her sleeves to show her tracks on her arms. “My drug of choice was cocaine and then it became heroine. I know what you are going through. I went through it. I spent my time in here as well.

 “It’s not an easy road to kick a habit. It takes time for your body to become accustomed to being clean of the drugs you are on. All the staff, even the chaplain, know what you are going through. They are all recovered addicts. They are here to help.

“Lets move on to other topics. Some of you are here by your free choice. Some have been signed in by family while others are here under the government plan. I am the only one that knows which one you are. No one else knows not even the rest of the staff. It is up to you to get clean. We can not help you. We can guide you and comfort you but you MUST be the one willing to do it.

“There is no such thing as recovered addict. Once an addict always an addict. There isn’t a day that I don’t think about getting high and forgetting about the world and all the problems I have in it. But then I remember all the time I have put into get clean and it brings me back to earth. So what does this mean to you out there. Well it means that you are not alone. WE all know what you are going through. You are not alone.

“Now it is time to get you to your rooms and get unpacked. We are having a late lunch and then you will go into your groups. If you don’t know which group you are in, ask your caregiver.”

Linda stood up and looked for her caregiver. He walked up to her and smiled.

“Hi, my name is John and I am your caregiver for the next few weeks. If you need to talk or you need anything then just come to me and I will see what I can do.” John turned around and then turned back. “If you follow me, I will show you to your room.”

Linda followed him and looked around as she followed. He opened a door and then watched her enter. He closed the door and then left her to settle in. Linda looked around at the bare room and then plopped down on the bed. She was finally alone. Her hands came up and immediately covered her face. She rubbed it softly then started to unpack. She laid down afterwards and took a nap. She slept softly, her mind going over the events of the day. She woke up to see a woman sitting in a chair.

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Angel sat at the table and watched the birds at the feeder. She wondered if God loved them as much as He loved her. She looked at her dad and smiled.

 “Daddy, does God love me as much as He loves the birds?”

 “I suppose.”

 “And does He love me as much as He loves Mommy?”

 “I suppose?” He said looking up at her. “Why are you asking such questions?”

 “Cause.”

 He looked at her. “Cause is not an answer.”

 She nodded her head softly. “Yes daddy. I want Jesus to help mommy. I want Him to heal her so that she can come home. Do you think He will do that for me?”

 “All you can do is ask.” Mario replied.

 Angel got down off her chair and ran over and kissed Mario on the cheek. “Thanks daddy.” He smiled as she ran off and he went back to his paper. He stopped reading when he heard her words wafting out of the playroom.

 “Dear Jesus, it’s Angel again. You must be getting awful tired of hearing from me. I pray all the time and yet you never complain. Well you just might this time Jesus. I want you to do something for me. I want you to get in there and heal my mommy. You have to do something for my mommy. If you love her as much as You love the birds, then you have to get in there and do something.”

 She stood up and went out to the back yard and played on the swings. Payton rushed into the house and after grabbing an apple, ran outside to join Angel. Tristan came running out next and sat on the grass.

 “We need to pray for mommy.” Tristan said.

 “I have been, almost all day.” Angel replied.

 Payton bit into his apple and then after swallowing the chunks he looked at them both. “We have to pray for dad to ya know.”

 Angel nodded her head just as Tristan did.

 “We know. We have been and we know that Jesus has been looking out for daddy. He’s safe as long as we pray for him but mommy needs more prayer.”

 “Why do you say that Angel?” Payton asked.

 “I don’t know. I just know that she needs more prayer then daddy does.

 They gathered together on the grass and held hands. They felt two more hands come into the little group and heard Mario’s voice.

 “Can I join in with you?”

 The three of them nodded their heads and then watched as Mario sat down. He settled in between Angel and Payton then he started to pray.

 “Dear God, I don’t know if I believe anymore or if this is an attempt to get back into your good graces. I know that I have been struggling with my faith and I also know that it will take baby steps to get back into the swing of things. The one thing I do know is that I love you and that I love my children and that I love Linda. I don’t know what she is doing right now but I want her to know that I love her and that she needs your help. I need your help Lord. Please help me and help my beloved…….”

 <><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><> 

 The room sat quiet as the words filtered up. The man who sat on the chair listened intently. His head bowed as he listened. He shifted a little and there was a scar on his side. He lifted his hands and you could see the holes that no longer bled but reminded Him of what he had done. He heard the prayers from the three children and the father and then stood up. He walked out into a large area and then headed up to the throne area.  The veil was torn away. The remnants left to remind everyone the sacrifice the Son had made. He smiled as he looked at them then entered the room.

 “Yes My Son.”

 “Father, I have had a special prayer come to me this morning.”

 “From Angel again I suppose.”

 “Yes Father.”

 “What do you wish to do?”

 “I promised my brothers and sisters that if they ask anything in my name that I would give it to them. I wish to grant this child’s prayer.”

“Who do you want to send?”

 “Gabriella.”

 The Father smiled and nodded his head at his Son. He moved from the room and found an angel.

“Find me Gabriella.”

 He sat down and waited. He watched as people moved to and fro caring for each other and caring for their homes. He listened silently as the choir sang of His glory and he bathed it in. He opened His eyes to a girl kneeling in front of him.

 “Stop that. Get up already. I do not want your nonsensical platitudes. I am not like the other gods of this world. I want my little ones to come to me freely and to know that they will get the answer they want. I also want them to know that I love them and that they are my only concern. No sacrifices and no  incense. I want nothing from then but their love and devotion. Now get up.”

 The girl stood and looked at him. She stroked His face and then spoke.

“Sorry Father.”

 “Yes Lord Jesus. You called for me?”

 “Yes, I have a job for you. Remember Clarence?”

 “Yes Lord. He earned his wings by showing that man that his life was not as messed up as he thought. Who do you wish me to save?”

 Jesus sat down and motioned for Gabriella to do the same. “I have a similar job for you but it is not a plea from a man but rather a little girl. Listen to this.”

 He motioned slightly and a sound echoed through the room.

 ‘“Dear Jesus, it’s Angel again. You must be getting awful tired of hearing from me. I pray all the time and yet you never complain. Well you just might this time Jesus. I want you to do something for me. I want you to get in there and heal my mommy. You have to do something for my mommy. If you love her as much as You love the birds, then you have to get in there and do something.”’

 Jesus looked at Gabriella. “The plea from an innocent child. Go and help the mommy that she speaks of.”

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“Hello.”

 “Hello, who are you?” Linda asked.

 “My name is Gabriella. I am your new roomie.”

 “No no. I was told that I would have a single room with nobody else in it. You can’t stay here.”

 Linda went to the door and went to open it. Gabriella stood up and held up her hand.

 “Wait, this is only going to be for a few days. I was told that this was the only bed available and they didn’t think that you would mind all that much.”

 “Well I do mind but if it is only for a few days, I guess I can live with it.”

 Gabriella smiled and then waited for Linda to speak.

 “What are you in for?”

 “My drug of choice is cocaine, laced with heroine and morphine. A lovely little cocktail that will get you up and keep you up for a while. That’s the good side and of course it does have a bad side. The coming down is murder.” Gabriela smiled. “You?”

 “Drugs and alcohol. I want to get clean this time. I want to go home to my kids and husband.”

 “I understand that. I tried so many times to stay clean. I kept slipping and now I am back in here. I want to do it right this time. But it is hard to do. Drugs are such a demon. They get into your soul and then stay there even after you get clean and then, sorry to say, not even god can help.”

 Linda nodded her head and then laid down. She closed her eyes and was asleep in no time. Gabriela watched her then silently left the room. She made her way to the chapel and sat down in the first pew. Bowing her head she started to pray.

 “I have made contact Lord Jesus. As Simon did with Imia Wilson. Help me to get through to Linda Rocha. Help me to lead her back to you. I sense Lord that it is not going to be an easy road.  She knows you Lord but the demon has taken control of her. I need Your strength to break through and free her.

 “Lord, she knows You. I can sense that. She has not let go of You yet she is ashamed of what has happened and is afraid to confront you for she fears you will be angry with her. She has backslidden so far Lord that I fear that if something is not done soon, she will be of no use. I know you love her Lord and that your love for her will heal her.

 “Lord, I beg forgiveness. I lied to her. Well not lied so much as bending the truth. I told her things that were true but not anymore. I am not the person I was before. I am a new creation in You. When I died, I took you as my own and you changed me and made me clean. You have given me the chance to present you to a woman that already knows you. She has just lost her way. Lord Jesus, help me bring Linda back to you. In Your Name I ask this, Amen.”

 Gabriela sat with her head hung low. She didn’t move a muscle. She waited for the answer that she wanted. She worshiped silently. She heard foot falls coming up from behind her. She looked to see the priest sitting across from her. She smiled softly at him.

 “Are you alright child?”

 “Yes I am. Who might you be?”

 “I am the priest here. My name is Father Williams. Is there something I can council you for?”

 Gabriela got up and slowly walked away. She smiled quite nicely and then walked away. She looked back at him.

 “I am alright Priest William.”

 The priest stood up and looked at her. “That would be Father to you.”

 Gabriela smiled. “No it wouldn’t Priest Williams. I call no one Father but the one who created me.”

 He continued to look at her as she walked away. “Wait, why do you say that?”

 She turned around and walked up to him. Reaching down she grabbed a bible from the pew and gave it to him. She smiled quite nicely again and whispered in his ear.

 “Look up Matthew 23:9.” She said as she walked away.

 Father Williams looked up the verse and read it aloud.

 “Do not call anyone on earth father. Only one is your Father, the one in heaven”

 The priest put the bible down and then went about his business. Try as he might, the words stuck with him and wouldn’t let him go. He knelt down in  prayer, speaking the words silently. He stayed kneeling waiting for an answer.

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 Mario Rocha sat at his desk. He looked out onto the sales lot. Cars weren’t selling right now. He didn’t have to worry though, he got paid weekly. He didn’t do commission work on a regular basis. He watched as the lot manager came in. He waved at Mario and then headed into office. Mario waved back too late. Michelle walked into his office and placed his paycheck in the in box. He picked it up and then opened it. His raised an eyebrow and then folded it and slipped it into his pocket. He would Mr. Stone about it later.

 Going back to his paperwork, he signed some forms requiring parts for different vehicles they had in getting repaired. He whistled softly some tune and from time to time answered phones about parts required. He looked up at the clock and saw how late it was. He picked up the phone and spoke to Mr. Stone.

 “Sir, might I come in and have a word with you?”

 Mario put the phone down and walked to Stone’s office door. He knocked and then entered in. Stone looked up at him.

 “Yes Mario, what do you need?”

 “Well Sir, I was looking at my pay check and noticed an extra thousand dollars added to my regular pay. I was wondering if it was a mistake?”

 Stone looked at him. “Nope, no mistake. You sold the mustang and you deserve the commission.”

 “But sir, that was Paul’s sale.”

 Stone put his pen down and looked up at Mario again. He smiled softly. He was a very patient man. He never was quick to blow up or yell or scream. Mario always thought that he looked a lot like that Shannara writer.

 “Mario I understand but I don’t play favorites. Never had and I never will. I was watching. Paul got called away and the buyer was about to leave. You walked up and kept him on the lot. You sold that car to the buyer. It might be Paul’s name on the contract but it was you that sold the car. So it is only fair that you get the commission. When Paul comes to me, and he will, he will be told the same thing. Do I make myself clear?”

 “Yes Sir.”

 Mario walked out of the office and saw Paul go in. He could hear the yelling and the screaming. Paul was cursing up a storm. He heard the door open and heard Stone’s voice.

 “Clean out your desk. I have told you before about the language. You’re fired!”

 Mario watched Paul walk away. He didn’t didn’t look at Mario instead just cleaned out his desk. Mario couldn’t help but smile and then stopped just as quick. Mr. Stone had been looking for a reason to fire that jerk. Today had been the day.

 Paul Stubbs had been a marine. He was use to yelling and screaming but even he knew he had crossed the line. He pulled things out of his desk and shoved them into a box. He looked up when he heard footfalls. His face was full of disappointment when he saw it was Mario.

 “What is it Rocha?”

 Mario passed him a check and walked away. Paul looked at it and then went into Mario’s office.

 “Why?”

 “Because you deserve it. You were the one to grease the wheels. I just got him to sign on the dotted line. You deserve the money. It was your sale after all.”

 “No, that is where you were wrong. He wasn’t going to sign or even consider signing. He wasn’t interested yet you were the one that sold him that car. So you deserve the commission. I over reacted and paid dearly for it.?”

 Mario watched him tear up the check and then walk away. Mario felt good and went to Mr. Stone’s office. He was in there for quite sometime. He opened the door and caught Paul as he was about to leave.

 “Paul, before you leave, Mr. Stone wants to talk to you.”

 Paul put the box down and then went into Stone’s office. Mario was about to leave but was told to stay. Stone looked at Stubbs.

 “Well it seems you have a guardian angel Stubbs. Seems at least one person likes you. Seems Mr. Rocha has taken it upon himself to plead for your job. I on the other hand would just as well be done with you, but I will allow you to stay on one condition. You will stay in my employ as long as you curb your language. There is no swearing allowed in this place of business. Am I clear mister!”

 Stubbs shook his head. “Yes sir, I understand sir, Thank you sir.”

 “Don’t thank me, thank Rocha.”

 Paul walked out of Stone’s office and right into Mario’s. He extended his hand and Mario shook it softly.

 “Thanks man. You saved my life.”

 Mario nodded his head and Paul left. Stone walked right in after him.

 “What is it with you? Why help out someone who is always making fun of you? I don’t understand?”

 Mario looked at him, Stone’s graying hair was short cropped. He like Paul Stubbs had been a marine. He had a kind face and yet could be mean. Not mean in a violence way but in the way he did business. With all of that, Terrance Stone was a fair man.

 “Well I thought about it and wondered two things. What would your father, Jackson Stone do? I think that he would have had him stay. Yes he is a loud, foulmouthed human being but he is the best salesman you have. Beside that, he makes fantastic coffee.”

 Terrance Stone nodded his head and walked away. He knew that Mario was right. He turned around to address all the employees.

 “Listen up all of you. I will not tolerate any oneupmanship. I will not tolerate swearing of any kind. What you do in your own homes is your business. What you do and say here is another story. This will be your only warning.”

 Terrence Stone walked away into his office. He heard the grumbling from outside. He liked being in charge. He sat at his desk and began working again. He chuckled softly. He needed to give Mario a raise.

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 Linda sat in her chair. It was big, comfy and made of black leather. She liked black. It was an all consuming color. It suited her mood right now. She listened to everyone speak and found out that she really was bored. That was until she heard Gabriela.

 “My name is Gabriela. My father sent me here. He thinks I am nuttier then a fruitcake. I’m not ya know. He just doesn’t understand.”

 “Doesn’t understand what, Gabriela?” the Doctor asked.

 “That I am an angel!” she replied.

 “You mean a real honest to goodness angel, with wings and everything.” someone said.

 “Well no. No wings yet. I have to earn them.”

 “And how do you earn them?” Linda asked.

 “By bringing a lost sheep, or in this case, two lost sheep back to the fold.”

 The other women, except Linda started to laugh. Gabriela sat back down and listened to the laughter. She fought back the tears. It was the same everywhere. Even the angels laughed. She looked at all the women hearing their continued laughter. When she looked at Linda, she heard a still small voice.

 “She is your mission. She is one of the lost sheep. Bring her and the other back to Me and you will get your wings.”

 “Yes Lord Jesus.”

 Taking Linda’s hand Gabriela whispered. “Let’s get out of here.”

 Together they walked out. Linda looked at her as they sat in the common area. She wanted so much to ask her about what she said in group. Gabriela looked at her.

 “Go ahead, you can ask.”

 “Well either you are nuts or you really do believe what you are saying.”

 Gabriela looked at her. She had a small grin on her face and her blue sparkled. They gave away the fact that she actually did believe the things she was saying. Linda cocked her head slightly unsure of her new friendship.

 “Well I am nuts. Not the nuts that everyone thinks about. I believe what I say. Some say they know the way to heaven and how to get through this life, but I can tell you that they don’t and that they are very wrong.”

 Linda looked at her and took her hand. “Oh and I take it that you do.”

 “Yes I do. You do to. You have not fallen so far that you can’t come back. I watch you at night and you say your prayers. People that have fallen so far as you think you have have no need of prayer. You on the other hand pray.

 “Linda, you don’t need doctors or the groups. You need only one thing and you know what that one thing is. I heard you once say in your prayers that you had lost your first love. If that was true then you wouldn’t be praying to him.”

 Linda had noticed that a small crowd had formed. They seemed transfixed by what Gabriela’s words. They seemed quite interested in what she was saying. Gabriela ignored them and spoke only to Linda.

 “Do you understand who your first love is? Do you know his name? Do you?”

 Linda nodded his head. “Yes his name is Jesus but what would he want with me. I have sinned to bad for Him to have anything to do with me!”

 “Oh sweet lady, you are so wrong. Most people say that when things go bad, they fall and then they sin and suddenly they think that God wants nothing more to do with them, but that is so not true. Truth be told, these are the times He begs for us to reach out to him.

 “You have to understand, God loves you and hates the sin. It isn’t God hates the Sinner and the sin. Linda, somewhere deep down inside you, there is love for Him. He still knocks at your door. He is still your first love and he always will be. You just keep the door closed and stop him from coming in.”

 Linda looked at her. “How do you know that?”

 “As I said earlier, you lifted prayers up to Him. What really convinced me was that you put your family first. You spent a very long time on each one of them but very little time on yourself. You have not forsaken or lost your first love.”

 “How do I get Him back?”

 Gabriela looked into her eyes and smiled. “Just ask him.”

 “But how, I have done so many things wrong and yet you tell me that he still loves me. I forsook him and I closed the door on him. I told him not to come in.”

 “What, you think God is just someone you can close a door on and he will just walk away. Sorry but it don’t work that way. He knocks and knocks and knocks till you open the door. Some will never open that door but those that are his, hear his voice and open the door.  You are his. You know that.”

 “What do I do, say I’m sorry and then all is settled. I get a clean slate.”

 “Well not exactly but close. I can lead you through the sinner’s prayer. Linda, time is running out.”

 Linda sat and thought about it. She thought about her children and Mario. She wanted to be out of this place and be with them. Together again as a family and one in Christ. She nodded her head slowly. Gabriela looked up and smiled and saw the crowd that had gathered were also nodding. Linda bowed her head the other women followed.

“Repeat after me.

 “Father God, I come before you as a child. I come before you in fear and trembling. I come before you in awe and wonder. Most of all Lord Jesus, I come before you in need. I come before you in need of forgiveness. I have sinned mightily and only through your blood Jesus, can I get that forgiveness.

 “Lord Jesus I need you. I need You in my life. I need you most of all in my heart. Lord Jesus I give my life to you. As I open the door, come in and sit on the throne in my heart. Make me into the creature you want me to be. I love you Lord Jesus and I want to follow you. I give you all the glory and honor and power. I ask this in your precious name Jesus. Amen.”

 Linda looked at Gabriela. She had a soft glow around her just as the other women did. Gabriela smiled softly.

 “No wings.” Linda noticed.

 “Nope, my job is not done yet. I have one more person to see.”

 Gabriela stood up and then walked out of the room. All the other women came in and sat with Linda. She smiled at each and everyone of them. She smiled softly and then they all started talking.

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 Gabriela stood at the altar. She knelt down and looked up at the empty cross. She smiled softly and then waited. Her eyes never left the cross but her lips moved silently. She closed her eyes and then opened them again to find herself in God’s presence.

 “You are not done yet child.”

 “I know Father, but did you see what I did. I brought more then just Linda Rocha back to you.” Gabriela replied excitedly.

 “Yes I did child. I am very proud of you but you must remember your mission little one. The prayer of a little child. “

 “I remember Father. Can I go tell Jesus now?”

 “Yes child but He already knows.”

 Gabriela smiled then kissed God on the cheek. He giggled softly as he watched her run out.  He sat and thought about all the angels with no wings and found that she was his favorite. He loved his children all the same but Gabriela seemed to bring out that little bit more. He saw the door open and she was in Jesus’s arms.

 Jesus laughed and tickled her. Jehovah looked a them. Jesus was always so gentle.

 “Father, Jesus thinks it is great that those ladies came to him too.”

 Jehovah motioned for Jesus to put her down. She looked up at both of them and then she was gone. The smiled at each other.

 “She is a fine angel.” Jesus said.

 “Yes she is.” His Father replied.

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 Mario Rocha sat quietly. He turned the television down and listened for noise. He could hear sounds coming from his daughter’s room. He quietly went upstairs avoiding the squeaky one and then went silently to her room. He listened at the door.

 “Mommy came back to Jesus?”

 “Yes she did. So did a few other women. Some might have come to him for the first time.” Gabriela replied.

 “Then why are you here?”Angel queried.

 “To answer the second part of your prayer. You asked that your mommy and daddy come back to Jesus.”

 “You can do that?”

 “I am gonna try.”

 Mario considered going in but chose not to. He walked away leaving Angel to her imagination. He went back downstairs and went back to his quiet. He picked his bible and  started to read again.

 “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

 He put the bible down and then looked out the window. He looked up to the sky.

 “If you are there, send me a sign.”

 He looked around and grinned. “Just as I thought.”

 Upstairs Gabriela sat talking with Angel, She smiled softly then kissed Angel softly on the nose.

 “I have got to run. Your dad just asked for a sign and that is my cue to bring him back to Jesus.”

 Gabriela disappeared and then Angel could hear her downstairs. Gabriela was talking to her dad. She ran downstairs a little and sat listening.

 “Hello.”

 “Who are you?” Mario asked.

 “My name is Gabriela and I am the sign you asked for.”

 “You are joking right? Where are the cameras?”

 “Not at all Mr. Rocha. You asked for a sign just a minute ago and I am it. Usually the father doesn’t send angels like this but this is a special case.”

 “Why is it special?”

 Gabriela glanced over at the stairs. Angel sat transfixed waiting for an answer. Gabriela smiled softly and then turned back to Mario.

 “Well the answer is really quite simple. Your daughter, Angel, prayed for it. She prayed that you and your wife, Linda, would get back together. She also prayed, in her childlike way, that you would both come back to Jesus.”

 “I understand that but her childlike ways aren’t gonna help.”

 “Not true. The Father sent me down here to facilitate the prayer of a child. Well here I am. Your daughter loves you so much, in fact all your children love you so much that for days they have prayed for you every chance they get. They send out their pleas to the Father to help you.”

 Mario chuckled. “I don’t believe in god anymore!”

 “Sure you do besides it doesn’t matter cause truth be told, He still believes in you.”

 “How do you know that I still believe in god?”

 “Because you see, when someone lifts a prayer to the Father, He looks down upon their hearts. He looks to see if there is any belief lift in them, no matter the amount. If He sees belief, then He sends an angel down to show the way. If He doesn’t see any belief then he answers the prayer in another way.

 “In your case He knows you still believe. He knows your heart Mario. He knows you blame Him for your marriage going south. He knows you blame him for your wife leaving you. He knows that you blame Him for her getting back into drugs. I am here to tell you that it is not his fault. Your wife is the one that chose to get back into drugs. It is the fault of both of you that your marriage went south. It is the both of you that caused the split to happen. You didn’t go to the Father. You stopped lifting your prayers to Him.”

 Mario sat down on the couch and held his head in his hands. He whimpered softly trying not to be heard. He was a man and needed to show strength but he had run out of strength.

 “I know and I want her back.”

 “What about the Father? Do you want him back?”

 Angel heard those words then leapt up and ran down the stairs. She flew into her father’s arms and wept in his shoulder. She looked up at him and cried.

 “Say yes daddy. Jesus loves you daddy. I love you daddy and I want my daddy back. I want mommy back daddy and that can’t happen till you get Jesus back.

 “Daddy, I heard you praying the other day. You said you would do anything to get mommy back. You have to take Jesus daddy. Mommy will come back then daddy.”

 Mario took Angel’s face into his hands. He kissed her forehead softly then looked into her eyes. They were bright and full of tears. He smiled softly and then looked at Gabriela.

 “What about my first love, will I get that back?”

 Mario looked at his feet. He so wanted his first love back. He needed it to be able to go forwards. He sat in silence then heard a knock on the door. He looked to see a man standing, patiently knocking at the door. Mario thought it was strange but got up anyways and went to the door.

 “Yes.”

 The man looked at him. “I never left, you just pushed me aside.”

 Mario looked at him. He saw that scars on his wrists and then scars on his forehead. His mouth dropped open. The man looked at him.

 “May I come in?”

 Mario moved aside and watched him walk in. The man wore a white robe that flowed behind him and seemed to barely touch the ground. His long brown hair flowed down over his shoulders. He had the nicest eyes and the nicest smile. His eyes sparkled with love and forgiveness. He looked at Mario and all he could do was shrink back a little.

 “You asked for your life back. You asked to get your first love back. You asked for a sign. Mario you asked my Father, The Great I Am, to give back something to you that has never been lost. How can one get something back that has never been lost.

 “First you asked for your life back but your life is here. It has gone nowhere. Your life exists in these precious children. They give you the life that you crave so much.

 “You asked for your first love back. I am your first love because I first loved you. I didn’t go anywhere, you just pushed me aside. You chose to ignore me and chaos happened. Your life fell apart but I promised that I would never leave you nor forsake you and I meant it. Even though you ignored Me, I was the silent visitor. The unseeable guest. I was always there watching over you.

 “Just a little while ago you asked for a sign. So I sent you one. I sent my special angel Gabriela. She came down to show you that I was listening but you chose to ignore it. So I had no other choice to come down Myself.

 “Mario, you remind me of Thomas of old. He was so much a ‘see it first’ person. He wouldn’t believe it unless he saw it first hand. You are just like him. So see this.”

 Jesus stuck out his wrists. Mario saw the scars and touched them. He could still, even after all the time had past, put his fingers in. Jesus lifted his robe and Mario saw the scar on his chest. He put his hand in and it came out bloody. He looked up to see drops of blood dripping from Jesus’ head. Mario reached up to feel the still warm blood. Mario tried to stop it but tears welled up in his eyes. He fell to his knees and cried out “MY Lord and My God!” He crumbled and cried openly.

 “You didn’t leave me. You are my first love. I left you and I am so sorry.” Mario cried out.

 Jesus lifted him up and held Mario in his arms. Mario wept still and Jesus cooed him. “No need for sorry. You have come back to me and all is forgiven.”

 Angel had been sitting on the couch. She watched the scene but had not said a word but rather was intently watching the interaction. She felt a tear flow down her cheek as she saw her daddy come back to Jesus. She ran out to the backyard and grabbed Payton and Tristan. They came running in and the boys jaws dropped in unison. Jesus looked at them and smiled.

 “You did a very good thing for your parents. You and your brothers.”

 Mario looked at Jesus. “What about my wife?”

 Jesus looked at Mario and raised an eyebrow. He wanted to help him but it was up to Mario to get her back.

 “Linda has, as you have, come back to me. You need to work things out with her. Through prayer and compromise, the both of you can get back together.”

 Mario watched as Jesus turned towards Gabriela. He looked at her with a smile that was wider then the whole of his face. Her face shone with a brilliance that no diamond could ever equal. Gabriela watched as Jesus turned his head to the others.

 “Witness the joy!”

 Jesus kissed Gabriela on the forehead and she could feel something happening. She could feel something growing out of her back. Angel was clapping and making bird motions with her arms. Gabriela giggled.

 “Really!”

 Angel nodded her head as did Payton and Tristan. Gabriela smiled and looked to Jesus.

 “Well my child, you did well. You brought the two people back to me as you were told to. You brought a few more along with you. I am very proud of you.”

 They started to leave when Mario spoke up.

 “Wait, now how am to get Linda back? I don’t know how.”

 Jesus took his hand and smiled. He stroke it slowly then stroked his head as father would a child’s.

 “Lift your need to God and trust He will answer. Remember God, the Father, is a God of Promise. He told the Israelite’s of old, IF YOU I WILL, God will answer your prayer.” Jesus turned back to Gabriela. “We must go. Her work is done here. She has done her job well but now it is time for them to work on it on their own.” He looked at Mario. “Do so in prayer and forgiveness. Talk, do not yell. Discuss not argue. Include those closest to you, your children. They have a say as well.”

 Mario nodded and took angel’s hand and his sons hands. They watched Gabriela and Jesus walkout the door. Angel looked at Mario and smiled. Mario wiped away the tears. He leaned down to kiss each one of his children’s foreheads. He looked out the window and they were gone. Angel jumped when she heard the phone ring. She picked it up.

 “Hello.” Angel said.

 “Hello baby, is daddy home?”

 Angel passed Mario the phone.

 “Hello.”

 “Mario, I want to come home.” Mario fell to his knees and wept openly. Angel looked at her brothers.

 “Mommy.”

 The boys smiled wide.

 “Yes, Yes, come home. We will come pick you up then we can talk.”

 Epilogue

 “Good morning Jesus, this is Angel. I wanted to let you know that it has been three years since Mommy came home. Things have been great. They don’t fight like they use to and they go to church every chance they get.

 “Jesus, the best part about it is that, you are gonna love this, is that they gave me a baby sister. When they were choosing a name, they chose Gabriela. I gots to go Jesus. Mom is calling and breakfast is ready. One thing though, let the baby mommy is carrying be a girl. He he he. I love you Jesus, talk to you soon.”

 FINI

My Mom!

Doreen Gertrude Keast (Nee Ley, Nee Crawford) Born July 11th 1926 Died January 9th 2004.

“Gone But Not Forgotten!”

This is my Mother. She went to be with the Lord 13 years ago. She was just not my mother. She was the mother of 6 other children. Robert Jr, Deanna Rose, Leyton, Steven, Grant, Nancy. She was not just my mom, she was their Mom too. I didn’t want to forget them when I posted this.

Was she a great Mom, nope she made her mistakes like every other mom in this world but she was still our mother. There is not a day goes by that I don’t think about her or miss her. We had our battles but no matter what I loved her as much as she loved me and her other children! She often was disappointed in us but she never stopped loving us.

She was the oldest of twelve. She would tell us stories about her growing up and some of the tricks her dad would do to get more food. One I remember most is when they were sitting down to a spaghetti dinner. Granddad would would slurp them into his mouth and comment…”mmmm these worms are good.” my mother would come out with “sure are…mmm very good”. She knew what he was doing and wasn’t falling for it.

My mom was a loving mom and yet she was stern as well.She was just as quick with the hand to discipline as she was to caress a face. My favourite memories of her was when I would sit at her feet and she would comb her fingers through my hair. It made me all squishy inside!

I could go on and on and say all kinds of things about my mom. But I like to remember her as she was. My Mommy! One day I will see her again!

I think I can say this for the rest of her children. We love you Mommy!

 

The Passion Of The Christ!

“Note! Before reading this blog, please understand that the videos used are not my property. I use them because they fit the best for the purposes of the blog. If you know of any songs that might fit better please do not hesitate to mention them.”

After watching The Passion on Palm Sunday, March 20, 2016, and after hearing the songs that were used, I decided to write my own version, with the songs I would have chosen. I would not have chosen those songs, mainly because they had nothing to do with the events that played out.

Where to start, well let’s start on Palm Sunday. The day Jesus rode into town on a donkey. The people were chanting “Hosanna, Hosanna In The Highest!” Jesus was riding into Jerusalem. He was going for the same reason that everyone else was, To prepare for the Passover feast.

The Passover Feast was observed because it was the day that the Israelite’s  were freed from Egypt because though Moses, God did so. The bread was baked without yeast because, well quite frankly, they didn’t have time. They were given only so much time so they took what they had and they escaped Egypt.

Exodus 12:21-55

When God implemented the Passover feast, he did so, so that it would never be forgotten. He wanted his people to remember where they came from. How they had suffered and how they had survived the yoke enslavement. For if you forget where you came from, you will be forever lost.

Now if we skip a few centuries we come to one of the most known prophecies of the Christ.

Isaiah 53:13-54:12

I suggest you read this to understand that this was not just about the Christ but also the pain and the suffering that he would go through. It was not an easy thing to go through.

Jump forward a few more centuries and we come to Triumphal Entry. When Jesus would ride on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden, into Jerusalem.

Matthew 21:1-3

When they had approached Jerusalem and had come to Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives. Then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied there and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to Me. If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord has need of them,’ and immediately he will send them.”

Two places in the old testament speak to the triumphal entry.

Isaiah 62:11

Behold, the Lord has proclaimed to the end of the earth,
Say to the daughter of Zion, “Lo, your salvation comes;
Behold His reward is with Him, and His recompense before Him.”

Jesus rode a colt.The movies always display the colt as white and perfect. Perfect I believe but not so much the white. The colour doesn’t really matter all that much. It could have green with white polka dots for all I know. As he rode into the city, people were throwing down their robes and palm leaves for Jesus to ride over. They sang “Hosanna to the Son of David. Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest!”(Matthew 21:9)

At this point some of the Pharisees cried out “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.”(Luke 19:39). To which Jesus replied “I tell you, if they become silent, the stones will cry out!” (Luke 19:40)

Now I use this video mainly because it does talk to the scripture that I quoted from Luke. This takes place on Palm Sunday.

Jesus has entered Jerusalem adored by the crowd. He was, to them, the Messiah that God had promised for centuries. When he entered Jerusalem, he wept for the city.

Luke 19:41-44

41 When He approached Jerusalem, He saw the city and wept over it, 42 saying, “If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes. 43 For the days will come upon you [a]when your enemies will throw up a [b]barricade against you, and surround you and hem you in on every side, 44 and they will level you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.”

Matthew 23:37-39

37 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. 38 Behold, your house is being left to you desolate! 39 For I say to you, from now on you will not see Me until you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’”

Jesus predicted Jerusalem’s destruction. He made no bones about it.

Jesus enters the temple and sees the way that it is used. It is no longer a temple rather a marketplace for swindlers and thieves. He saw red..a righteous anger and proceeded to turn all the tables over and set the animals free. Money scattered and people we screaming at him.

Matthew 21 : 12-13

12 And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves. 13 And He *said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer’; but you are making it a robbersden.”

 

After Jesus cleansed the temple, the Pharisees started plotting the death of Jesus. They could not stand the idea of someone taking their prey away. The religious leaders of the day had the Jews right where they wanted them and for some rabble rouser to come in and upset the nature of things was a slap in the face to the establishment. So they devised a plan that would get rid of this Jesus once and for all and instead of doing it in in the daylight, they did so at night. They skulked around at night time and did everything they could to get it done without people knowing what was going on.

Matthew 26:1-5

When Jesus had finished all these words, He said to His disciples, “You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man is to be handed over for crucifixion.”

Then the chief priests and the elders of the people were gathered together in the court of the high priest, named Caiaphas; and they plotted together to seize Jesus by stealth and kill Him. But they were saying, “Not during the festival, otherwise a riot might occur among the people.”

 

Before I continue, you might notice that I am using songs from Jesus Christ Superstar a lot. It seems that finding songs done by Christian artists are hard to find. The songs from JCSS are actually close to the biblical telling of Christ’s last days. Sure they have taken some literary license, but truth be told they are pretty spot on. You don’t seem to find a lot of songs about Judas’s betrayal or Peter’s denial or the religious leaders of the time plotting the death of Christ. So now back to the blog.

The religious leaders have decided to kill Jesus but now they had to find a crime.  Jesus has not committed any crime that would warrant death. They had to trump one up. They also had to find someone that would betray Jesus, someone who had a reason or could be easily convinced. Someone that had a cause or something against Jesus. In walks Judas!

But let’s set the stage. Jesus and the disciples are in Bethany.

Matthew 26:6-13

Now when Jesus was in Bethany, at the home of Simon the leper, a woman came to Him with an alabaster vial of very costly perfume, and she poured it on His head as He reclined at the table. But the disciples were indignant when they saw this, and said, “Why this waste? For this perfume might have been sold for a high price and the money given to the poor.” 10 But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why do you bother the woman? For she has done a good deed to Me. 11 For you always have the poor with you; but you do not always have Me. 12 For when she poured this perfume on My body, she did it to prepare Me for burial. 13 Truly I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be spoken of in memory of her.”

Judas Iscariot is by all accounts the treasurer of the disciples. He held the money bag. He seemed to be the perfect one aside from the fact that Matthew was a tax collector so he knew how to keep money as well. Anyways, the apostles were all upset with the waste of the perfume. It could have been sold to help the poor.

The movie Jesus Christ Superstar paints Judas as the one that was upset and he might very well have been the one that was upset the most. Nevertheless, I feel that it was at this point that Judas had decided to betray Jesus. It was a waste of money that could have been put elsewhere. All the other disciples were upset too but not to betrayal. Was Judas already in the hands of the Evil One.

 

Judas was so upset, as were the other disciples, that this woman had wasted that perfume instead of selling it for money to help the poor. I think that Judas especially had a burden for the poor. I also feel that this was the time that Judas decided to do what he felt he needed to do. The devil had entered him and made him see that was not really there.But notice what Jesus says.

Matthew 26:10-13

10 But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why do you bother the woman? For she has done a good deed to Me. 11 For you always have the poor with you; but you do not always have Me. 12 For when she poured this perfume on My body, she did it to prepare Me for burial. 13 Truly I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be spoken of in memory of her.”

11 For you always have the poor with you; but you do not always have Me.

Jesus pointed out that no matter what we would always have the poor. He was here for a little while. The poor had been around since time since time immemorial. So it seems that although all the disciples are incensed but Judas seems more incensed. The bible says the devil  entered him and persuaded him to betray Jesus.

Luke 22:1-6

1Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which is called the Passover, was approaching. 2The chief priests and the scribes were seeking how they might put Him to death; for they were afraid of the people.

      3And Satan entered into Judas who was called Iscariot, belonging to the number of the twelve. 4And he went away and discussed with the chief priests and officers how he might betray Him to them. 5They were glad and agreed to give him money. 6So he consented, and began seeking a good opportunity to betray Him to them apart from the crowd.

We have no way to know what was going through Judas’s mind at the time. We can only assume. I would think that he did it to stop the waste. To him Jesus seemed fine with it. It was just perfume but a burial preparation. So he went to the Priest and Pharisees. The bible does not go into detail about what was said. I have no doubt that Judas came up with reasons to do so that didn’t involve his betrayal. “For the good of the disciples.”

 

 

Judas has agreed to betray Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. It was blood money but the Priests made sure to make it seem more like a fee. This all happens before the Passover Feast.

For centuries after centuries, the Jews had celebrated the day. Jesus did something that not a lot of Jews did at the time. The washing of the feet. It was not uncommon for the head of the household to wash the feet of his guests. It not only showed humility it also showed the servant in him. Jesus washed his disciples feet. Some of them declined. to which Jesus said.

John 13:4-11

So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him.

When Jesus came to Simon Peter, Peter said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”

Jesus replied, “You don’t understand now what I am doing, but someday you will.”

“No,” Peter protested, “you will never ever wash my feet!”

Jesus replied, “Unless I wash you, you won’t belong to me.”

Simon Peter exclaimed, “Then wash my hands and head as well, Lord, not just my feet!”

10 Jesus replied, “A person who has bathed all over does not need to wash, except for the feet,[a] to be entirely clean. And you disciples are clean, but not all of you.” 11 For Jesus knew who would betray him. That is what he meant when he said, “Not all of you are clean.”

Jesus knew that he was going to be betrayed. He washed even his betrayers feet as well. After the washing of the feet, the Passover feast is observed, but Jesus forever changed it.

Luke 22:14-20

14 When the hour had come, He reclined at the table, and the apostles with Him. 15 And He said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; 16 for I say to you, I shall never again eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” 17 And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He said, “Take this and share it among yourselves; 18 for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine from now on until the kingdom of God comes.” 19 And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 20 And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood.

They celebrated the Passover and then Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper. He did so that we might remember the sacrifice that was made for all of us.

Now remember back a bit that I said that Jesus knew his betrayer. He did. He knew who and when it would happen. In John, Jesus shows the disciples the betrayer but they don’t understand.

John 13:21-30

21 When Jesus had said this, He became troubled in spirit, and testified and said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, that one of you will [a]betray Me.” 22 The disciples began looking at one another, at a loss to know of which one He was speaking. 23 There was reclining on Jesus’ bosom one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved. 24 So Simon Peter *gestured to him, and *said to him, “Tell us who it is of whom He is speaking.” 25 He, leaning back thus on Jesus’ bosom, *said to Him, “Lord, who is it?” 26 Jesus then *answered, “That is the one for whom I shall dip the morsel and give it to him.” So when He had dipped the morsel, He *took and *gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. 27 After the morsel, Satan then entered into him. Therefore Jesus *said to him, “What you do, do quickly.” 28 Now no one of those reclining at the table knew for what purpose He had said this to him. 29 For some were supposing, because Judas had the money-box, that Jesus was saying to him, “Buy the things we have need of for the feast”; or else, that he should give something to the poor. 30 So after receiving the morsel he went out immediately; and it was night.

Judas is gone and Jesus talks about several things. They finish the meal and then after singing a hymn, they head over to the Mount of Olives. Jesus predicts Peter’s denial. Now most are going to say that it was coincidence that it happened at the same time but Jesus was very specific to when it would happen. “Before the cock crows twice, you will deny me three times.” (Mark 14:30)

Peter kept saying that he would no do it. He would not deny Jesus. He in fact said in Mark 14:31 “Even if I were to die with you, I will not deny you!”    He loved him too much. All the other disciples said the same thing. Judas had already gone to finish his betrayal of Jesus. They went on to Gethsemane.

They got to Gethsemane and Jesus took Peter, James and John a little further in, leaving the other disciples to back where they entered the garden and told them to sit there till he had prayed.. To John, James and Peter he said to them in Mark 14:34 “My soul is deeply grieved to the point of death; remain here and keep watch.

At this point, Jesus moved up a ways further and prayed to God that the cup of poison he was to drink be taken away, Mark 14:36 “Abba! Father!. All things are possible for thee; remove this cup from me; yet not what I will, but what thou will.” He came back to the disciples and found them sleeping and said to them in Mark 14:37-38 “Simon are asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour? Keep watching and praying, that you may not come into temptation; the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.”

Jesus goes back to pray and when he comes back they are back to sleep. He went back a third time to pray and came back to find them still asleep. He roused them and asked then why they could not stay awake and they could not answer him. He looked at them and said

Mark 14:37

“Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? It is enough; the hour has come; behold, the Son of Man is to be betrayed into the hands of sinners. Arise, let us be going; behold, the one who betrays me is at hand.”

 

Jesus is betrayed in the same garden that he pleads to God to take the cup of poison away. Judas walks up to him and kisses him on the cheek.

Mark 14 43 -45

43 Immediately while He was still speaking, Judas, one of the twelve, *came up [a]accompanied by a crowd with swords and clubs, who were from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders. 44 Now he who was betraying Him had given them a signal, saying, “Whomever I kiss, He is the one; seize Him and lead Him away [b]under guard.” 45 After coming, Judas immediately went to Him, saying, “Rabbi!” and kissed Him.”

Jesus is not surprised. He knew that Judas would betray him.

Luke 22:47-48

“While he was still speaking, behold a multitude came and the one called Judas, one of the twelve, was preceding them; and he approached Jesus to kiss him and Jesus said “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?”

They took him away to the High priest. Caiaphas was the High Priest. He was the son-in-law of Annas. There was quite the crowd and it seemed everyone was there, including some of the apostles.

The Sanhedrin was the council of the elders of the people. That included the High Priest and all the other priests and so forth. They tried Christ but they actually did it illegally but try Him they did. They questioned him and I would assume belittled him. They brought in false witnesses to say false things.

Matthew 26:57-68

57 Those who had seized Jesus led Him away to Caiaphas, the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were gathered together. 58 But Peter was following Him at a distance as far as the courtyard of the high priest, and entered in, and sat down with the [a]officers to see the outcome.

59 Now the chief priests and the whole [b]Council kept trying to obtain false testimony against Jesus, so that they might put Him to death. 60 They did not find any, even though many false witnesses came forward. But later on two came forward, 61 and said, “This man stated, ‘I am able to destroy the [c]temple of God and to rebuild it [d]in three days.’” 62 The high priest stood up and said to Him, “Do You not answer? What is it that these men are testifying against You?” 63 But Jesus kept silent. And the high priest said to Him, “I [e]adjure You by the living God, that You tell us whether You are [f]the Christ, the Son of God.” 64 Jesus *said to him, “You have said it yourself; nevertheless I tell you, [g]hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

65 Then the high priest tore his [h]robes and said, “He has blasphemed! What further need do we have of witnesses? Behold, you have now heard the blasphemy; 66 what do you think?” They answered, “He deserves death!”

67 Then they spat in His face and beat Him with their fists; and others [i]slapped Him, 68 and said, “Prophesy to us, You [j]Christ; who is the one who hit You?”

Jesus was beaten up by the same people who tried him. Then they took him to Pilate.

Right after this the prediction of Peter denying Christ three times came true.

Luke 22:54-62

54 Having arrested Him, they led Him away and brought Him to the house of the high priest; but Peter was following at a distance. 55 After they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and had sat down together, Peter was sitting among them. 56 And a servant-girl, seeing him as he sat in the firelight and looking intently at him, said, “This man was with Him too.” 57 But he denied it, saying, “Woman, I do not know Him.” 58 A little later, another saw him and said, “You are one of them too!” But Peter said, “Man, I am not!” 59 After about an hour had passed, another man began to insist, saying, “Certainly this man also was with Him, for he is a Galilean too.” 60 But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about.” Immediately, while he was still speaking, a rooster crowed. 61 The Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had told him, “Before a rooster crows today, you will deny Me three times.” 62 And he went out and wept bitterly.”

Judas saw what they had done to Jesus. In the morning he went to them. He felt remorse for what he had done. He tossed the thirty pieces of silver at their feet.

Matthew 27:1-10

27 Now when morning came, all the chief priests and the elders of the people conferred together against Jesus to put Him to death; and they bound Him, and led Him away and delivered Him to Pilate the governor.

Then when Judas, who had betrayed Him, saw that He had been condemned, he felt remorse and returned the thirty [a]pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” But they said, “What is that to us? See to that yourself!” And he threw the pieces of silver into the temple sanctuary and departed; and he went away and hanged himself. The chief priests took the pieces of silver and said, “It is not lawful to put them into the temple treasury, since it is the price of blood.” And they conferred together and [b]with the money bought the Potter’s Field as a burial place for strangers. For this reason that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day. Then that which was spoken through Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: “And [c]they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of the one whose price had been set by the sons of Israel; 10 and [d]they gave them for the Potter’s Field, as the Lord directed me.”

Now let me be very plain. Not a lot of singers actually talk about Judas. It seems that he is taboo and that is shame. He played a very important part in the Passion Play. Jesus knew what he was going to do and even told him to do it quickly.

John 21:26-30

Jesus then *answered, “That is the one for whom I shall dip the morsel and give it to him.” So when He had dipped the morsel, He *took and *gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. 27 After the morsel, Satan then entered into him. Therefore Jesus *said to him, “What you do, do quickly.” 28 Now no one of those reclining at the table knew for what purpose He had said this to him.

Judas was so remorseful that he took his own life. Before that he repented (Matthew 27:3-5). Some would say that he took the cowards way out and I think they might have been right. Was he a coward, I don’t know, only God can say that.

 

Judas is dead and now Jesus is taken to Pilate, the Governor of Israel. He questions him but because he is a Galilean and on being told yes, Jesus is sent to face Herod. Herod questions him but Jesus remains silent. Herod gets nothing out of Jesus and sends him back to Pilate after mocking him and treating him with contempt. They put a purple robe on his back and send him back to Pilate.

Luke 23:8-12

Now Herod was very glad when he saw Jesus; for he had wanted to see Him for a long time, because he had been hearing about Him and was hoping to see some [a]sign performed by Him. And he questioned Him [b]at some length; but He answered him nothing. 10 And the chief priests and the scribes were standing there, accusing Him vehemently. 11 And Herod with his soldiers, after treating Him with contempt and mocking Him, dressed Him in a gorgeous robe and sent Him back to Pilate. 12 Now Herod and Pilate became friends with one another that very day; for before they had been enemies with each other.

We can only imagine the conversation that took place between Herod and Jesus. What the questions were like. Herod wanted to see miracles like Jesus was some kind of magician. He expected Jesus to perform on command. Jesus was not a trained monkey. He didn’t do things on demand. He did miracles out of love. He did them to prove who he was. Herod got frustrated. Easy to do when you are always getting your own way and no one questions you. So Herod sent him back to Pilate.

Notice one thing. When Jesus was before Caiaphas, after all the words and the posturing, Jesus was beaten and mocked. Before Annas, Jesus is given a blow. Now whether it was a slap or a punch nevertheless, before both of them, Jesus was hit at some point. When he comes before Pilate the first time, Jesus is not hit at all but during the second trial, he is whipped and beaten. Now look at Herod, there were no beating only mocking. The never \

laid a hand on him. Herod was a Jew and treated Jesus, for the most part , with some kind of respect.

So Jesus is sent back to Pontius Pilate for a second time. The Sanhedrin and the Pharisees could find nothing wrong. Herod could find nothing wrong. So back to Pilate we go. Pilate tries Christ and finds nothing wrong. so he decides to flog him and send him on his way.

Luke 23:13-25

13 Pilate summoned the chief priests and the rulers and the people, 14 and said to them, “You brought this man to me as one who incites the people to rebellion, and behold, having examined Him before you, I have found no guilt in this man regarding the charges which you make against Him. 15 No, nor has Herod, for he sent Him back to us; and behold, nothing deserving death has been done by Him. 16 Therefore I will punish Him and release Him.” 17 [[e]Now he was obliged to release to them at the feast one prisoner.]

18 But they cried out all together, saying, “Away with this man, and release for us Barabbas!” 19 (He was one who had been thrown into prison for an insurrection made in the city, and for murder.) 20 Pilate, wanting to release Jesus, addressed them again, 21 but they kept on calling out, saying, “Crucify, crucify Him!” 22 And he said to them the third time, “Why, what evil has this man done? I have found in Him no guilt demanding death; therefore I will punish Him and release Him.” 23 But they were insistent, with loud voices asking that He be crucified. And their voices began to prevail. 24 And Pilate pronounced sentence that their demand be granted.

 

If you notice something in the video, you see a woman shaking her head. That is Pilate’s wife. Her name, even though it is not mentioned in the Bible, is Claudia. She had a dream that Pilate should not harm the man Jesus.For More information on Pilate’s wife, please click the link. Pilate’s Wife Claudia .

Matthew 27:19

19 While he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent him a message, saying, “Have nothing to do with that righteous Man; for [a]last night I suffered greatly in a dream because of Him.”

Pilate condemned Jesus to death! Did he have a choice, not really. Not only because of the jews lording over him what would happen if he didn’t but also because unbeknown to him it was all part of God’s divine plan. He could have set Jesus free because he found no guilt in Jesus.

Jesus is sent to die. He starts to carry His cross to Golgotha (the place of the skull) and falls. He has been whipped and beaten and then has a half ton cross on his back and is expected to carry it ti the skull. When He falls a man is pulled out of the crowd to carry it for him. Simon of Cyrene.

Luke 23:26 

26 When they led Him away, they seized a man, Simon of Cyrene, coming in from the country, and placed on him the cross to carry behind Jesus.

For More information on Cyrene, you can go here.

Cyrene

As he is going up the hill to Golgotha, there is a large crowd following him. In the crowd there are women weeping for him. He stops and speaks to them.

Luke 23:27-32

27 And following Him was a large crowd of the people, and of women who were [f]mourning and lamenting Him. 28 But Jesus turning to them said,“Daughters of Jerusalem, stop weeping for Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. 29 For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never nursed.’ 30 Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ 31 For if they do these things [g]when the tree is green, what will happen [h]when it is dry?”

32 Two others also, who were criminals, were being led away to be put to death with Him.

Jesus made his way up the trail of sorrows. The street that winded it’s way up to Golgotha, the place of the skull. There Jesus would be crucified. He would lay his life down for all mankind. He did so not because it was expected of him. It was a not a requirement. God didn’t make him do it. He could have at anytime said no. He could have called down an army of angels to protect him but he did not do any of it. He simply did the will of his father. He freely gave his life.

A sacrifice made out of need is a not a sacrifice. It means nothing. It is empty and without merit. A sacrifice made of willingness means more that anything. Jesus did that very thing.

Luke 23:33-49

33 When they came to the place called [i]The Skull, there they crucified Him and the criminals, one on the right and the other on the left. 34 [j]But Jesus was saying, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” And they cast lots, dividing up His garments among themselves. 35 And the people stood by, looking on. And even the rulers were sneering at Him, saying, “He saved others; let Him save Himself if this is the [k]Christ of God, His Chosen One.” 36 The soldiers also mocked Him, coming up to Him, offering Him sour wine, 37 and saying, “If You are the King of the Jews, save Yourself!” 38 Now there was also an inscription above Him, “THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.”

39 One of the criminals who were hanged there was [l]hurling abuse at Him, saying, “Are You not the [m]Christ? Save Yourself and us!” 40 But the other answered, and rebuking him said, “Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving [n]what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 And he was saying, “Jesus, remember me when You come [o]in Your kingdom!” 43 And He said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.”

44 It was now about [p]the sixth hour, and darkness [q]fell over the whole land until [r]the ninth hour, 45 [s]because the sun was obscured; and the veil of the temple was torn [t]in two. 46 And Jesus, crying out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit.” Having said this, He breathed His last. 47 Now when the centurion saw what had happened, he began praising God, saying, “Certainly this man was[u]innocent.” 48 And all the crowds who came together for this spectacle, when they observed what had happened, began to return, [v]beating their breasts. 49 And all His acquaintances and the women who accompanied Him from Galilee were standing at a distance, seeing these things.

Here is the thing. Jesus chose the time to die. He could have probably gone of for days but again it would be for naught. He chose when to die. The romans were sent up to break the legs of the crucified and when they came to Jesus, he was already dead. The other two were still suffering. He was gone. They shoved a spear into his side and blood and water flowed. It had all pooled in his chest. He chose to die at that time.

He cried out “IT IS FINISHED!” and he died

John 19:28-30

28 After this, Jesus, knowing that all things had already been accomplished, to fulfill the Scripture, *said, “I am thirsty.” 29 A jar full of sour wine was standing there; so they put a sponge full of the sour wine upon a branch of hyssop and brought it up to His mouth. 30 Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.”

 

 

 

There are hundreds of songs about the crucifixion. So many that I could fill pages but I really don’t want to do that. Rather just a couple. Ones that I think tell the story beautifully.

Jesus is dead. He is on the cross hanging. His body is but a shell. His spirit has gone to be with the Father. But that is not what God has planned for Jesus. His job is not done yet. Joseph of Arimathea claims the body.

Luke 23: 50-56

50 And a man named Joseph, who was a member of the Council, a good and righteous man 51 (he had not consented to their plan and action), a man from Arimathea, a city of the Jews, who was waiting for the kingdom of God; 52 this man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. 53 And he took it down and wrapped it in a linen cloth, and laid Him in a tomb cut into the rock, where no one had ever lain. 54 It was the [w]preparation day, and the Sabbath was about to [x]begin. 55 Now the women who had come with Him out of Galilee followed, and saw the tomb and how His body was laid. 56 Then they returned and prepared spices and perfumes. And on the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment.

In Isaiah it reads thus.

Isaiah 53:9

His grave was assigned with wicked men,
Yet He was with a rich man in His death,
Because He had done no violence,
Nor was there any deceit in His mouth.

Joseph was the the rich man that Isaiah speaks of in verse 9. He predicted that the Son of Man would lay in a rich man’s grave because he had no money to buy his own. Joseph believed that Jesus was who he said he was.

John 19:38

38 After these things Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but asecret one for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of JesusThe 

The Sabbath started at  around 6 pm so they did not have a lot of time to prepare the body for burial and much as they would have liked. They wrapped him a linen cloth and sprinkled his body with the spices then put him in the tomb.

John 12:38-42

38 After these things Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but asecret one for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus; and Pilate granted permission. So he came and took away His body. 39 Nicodemus, who had first come to Him by night, also came, bringing a [a]mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred[b]pounds weight. 40 So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen wrappings with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews. 41 Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. 42 Therefore because of the Jewish day of preparation, since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.

Three days later Jesus rose from the dead. Mary Magdelane was the first to the tomb. She found it empty. She ran back to the disciples and told them of the stone being rolled away and Peter ran to the tomb.

John 20:1-18

20 Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene *came early to the tomb, while it *was still dark, and *saw the stone already taken away from the tomb. So she *ran and *came to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and *said to them, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.” So Peter and the other disciple went forth, and they were going to the tomb. The two were running together; and the other disciple ran ahead faster than Peter and came to the tomb first; andstooping and looking in, he *saw the linen wrappings lying there; but he did not go in. And so Simon Peter also *came, following him, and entered the tomb; and he *saw the linen wrappings lying there, andthe face-cloth which had been on His head, not lying with the linen wrappings, but rolled up in a place by itself. So the other disciple whohad first come to the tomb then also entered, and he saw and believed.For as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead. 10 So the disciples went away again to their own homes.

11 But Mary was standing outside the tomb weeping; and so, as she wept, she stooped and looked into the tomb; 12 and she *saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and one at the feet, where the body of Jesus had been lying. 13 And they *said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She *said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.” 14 When she had said this, she turned around and *saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus *said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing Him to be the gardener, she *said to Him, “Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away.” 16 Jesus *said to her, “Mary!” She turned and *said to Him in [a]Hebrew, “Rabboni!” (which means, Teacher).17 Jesus *said to her, “Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.’” 18 Mary Magdalene *came, announcing to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord,” and that He had said these things to her.

Many other sightings of Jesus happen. You can find them in John 20:19-30 and 20:1-25. Matthew 28:1-10 and 16-20. Mark 16: 1- 20. Luke 24:1-53. John 20:1-31 and John 21:1-25. He did not only appear to Mary. Many of his disciples saw him after he had died. My favorite and where we get the term “Doubting Thomas” from.

John 20:26-29

26 [a]After eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus *came, the doors having been [b]shut, and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then He *said to Thomas, “Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing.” 28 Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus *said to him,“Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.”

Thomas doubted a lot. He did it every day. He had to be see it to believe it. He would not believe that Jesus had risen from the grave unless he had proof. We are a lot like Thomas at times. We need to see it to believe it. But Jesus said “Because you have seen me, have you believed but Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believed.

If you don’t know this Jesus I speak of, then you can ask me on twitter @menionazalee or on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/william.ley.90 . Jesus loves you more than you will ever know. He loved you so much that he died for you. He rose from the grave to defeat death and show us that he was who he said he was.

Before I end this blog (finally) I want to leave you with the following video. It sums up this blog and the passion of Jesus quite well. I hope you enjoy it.

Prayer and Faith!

I am a Christian. I am not religious. I don’t live my life as a Christian on only some days of the year. I pray to my Lord when the mood hits me and sometimes it is a simple “I love You Lord.” prayer. I don’t always go through a 20 year prayer (you know the kind..they go on and on and on and on!) I don’t do what other Christians do cause well I want to love My Lord not make him into a Santa Claus.

Unlike a lot of religions in this world, I don’t bow before my Lord nor do I have to address Him like I would a leader of a country or a king. I talk to Him. I don’t lay a rug down nor do I face a wall to pray. I don’t have to. I can be sitting in a chair as I am right now and offer up my prayers to Him, laying them at His feet.

So many religions have way to many rituals. They have to do this and they have to do that. They have to sit or kneel or dance in a certain way. They have to say all the right words and in the right way. Everything has to be perfect. If it isn’t perfect then it isn’t right. Now don’t get me wrong, I respect that. They have their ways and have been doing it for centuries that way. But that is not my way.

Sometimes I go through the formality of proper prayer. The invocations and the ritualistic words. Most of the time I just just say something normal. I don’t pray to my Lord, I talk to Him. I don’t ask Him for things, I let him know what I need. It’s not material things normally. I ask for healing for myself  or friends or family.  I ask for Him to touch someone or put me in their path so that they might know that someone is praying for them.

Prayer should be offered in such a way as to not be boastful. Prayer should be humble and gentle. It’s good to ask for those things that you need but do so in a way that is not prideful. Do not go to church and stand in every one’s view and show what you have and how good you have had it. Rather be mindful of where you are. Be not like the Pharisee that got all dressed up and stood showing off what he had. Rather be like the tax collector, a sinner and cry out to the Lord! (Luke 18:9-14)

We all do it. We all pray in a boastful way and the funny thing is is that we know that is wrong but we do it anyways. It’s hard to stop when it is human nature to boast. It is even harder to be humble and ask for little or nothing. I have prayed often for things that I needed, not wanted, and received them. It might be that day or the next but they did come. The Lord does hear and does give us the things we need. It is just on His time not ours.

Jesus said “Ask anything in My name and I will give it to you.” (Matt 7:7, John 14:14). Ask and it shall be given but it may not come in the manner that you expect or the time that you expect. “Lord I need a new car.” Nothing wrong with the car you have,  sure it is not as classy as the neighbours car but you asked for a new car. You shall get it when the Lord thinks it time. “Lord I need money for gas.” You don’t have a dime on you but you search your pants that are to be washed and you find twenty bucks. To some it might be coincidence but a man of faith will say “Thank you Father.”

Faith is a big part of prayer. It is important because without faith, the prayer is just talking. Without faith the prayer falls on dumb silence. It falls onto the ground with a thud. But the same prayer, lifted up in faith and love, falls on the ears of God and He listens. Faith is the acceptance of things not seen yet hoped for (Hebrews 11:1).

As Christians, we walk by faith not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). We could walk like others walk but we would get lost. We would wander from the path and find ourselves in so much trouble but asking in prayer, the Lord brings us back on the path of righteousness. It is so easy to fall off the path, specially in the world we know today. We walk the path and then…ooooo something shiny catches our eye. The problem is the shiny thing gets us into trouble.

Prayer is so important in a Christians life. It is the glue that holds our lives together. We fall and we reach up in prayer to the Lord and He reaches down and picks us up. He dusts us off and kisses our forehead, tells us that He loves us and sends us on our way. We fall off the path and He does it all again. He does so in love and patience. He is so patient and so understanding. He loves us as if we were the only ones. Just like any earthly father.

Faith and prayer work hand in hand. They help us come to an understanding that we need them both. Prayer is our direct line to the Father. We don’t have to go through anyone else. No high priest or priestess. We don’t have to bow rather we can walk right up to God, climb into His lap, get comfy and talk to Him. He pulls us close and listens with love and patience. He doesn’t have to write anything down. He already knows what we need but He also knows that we need to ask.

I started off this little tirade with the words “I am a Christian.” but I am more than that. I am a treasured child of the Most High God. I am His and His alone. He holds me when I cry and rejoices when I am happy. He scolds me when I am bad but loves me still. He watches over me and guides me even when I don’t want to be guided.

I offer up my prayers to the Father and He doesn’t go “Oh it’s him again.” He listens with patience and love. He smiles as I tell Him what has been going on. He nods His head and smiles as I ask for those things that I need. Not want. As I said before, He doesn’t have to write anything down cause he already knows what I need. When I am done, I walk away knowing that He is my God!

“I’m not religious, I just love the Lord!” I am in love with my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ!. Am I perfect, nope. I’m forgiven. You can be too!

“Keep Looking Up…His Coming Is Soon!”

The Love Of My Life!

 rosie

On Feb 25, 1955, the love of my life was born. She was given the name Rosemarie Dawn Archer. She lived 40 years. She was in her 41st year when she died. That was the day that my heart got a hole so big in it that you could drive a tractor trailer through it and even after 20 years (this year on November 11) that hole is still there. Nothing and no one can fill it. They say that no matter what you think, you only get one true soul mate. Rose was mine.

We met at a bible study in 1979. She was shy and quiet. She was sweet and cute and she made my heart skip a beat. We went to see the movie Jesus and sat beside each other. I took her hand in mine and we sat like that the rest of the movie. We started dating and I fell in love. We went to the same church and we were almost inseparable.

We moved in together in 1980. We were happy and truth be told, she was my first. We lived in this basement apartment that I constantly hit my head on the pipes. One day when she was sick I proposed. I was on my knees peeling potatoes and she was on her third cup of hot chocolate. She came out of the living room and asked for more. I took the cup and asked her if she would marry me. She giggled and said yes and went back to the living room. A few minutes later she came back and asked me if I had proposed and I said yes and that she had said yes and she skipped back to the living room and got on the phone to tell her sisters.

August 29th, 1981 at 12 Noon the wedding took place at Knox Flox Presbyterian Church in Crossland Ontario. It was so black that we were sure that it was going to storm and make it miserable but the rain stayed away till after the wedding and a few pictures were taken before the reception. It is a day I will never forget. Some of the names are foggy but the sight of seeing her walk down the aisle brought me to tears. I was about to marry the love of my life.

We had our honeymoon at the Barrie Continental Inn and it was a wonderful time. I even carried her across the threshold.  We started on a journey that would take us from living in Toronto, to moving back to Barrie. From cheating on each other to fixing it and realizing that we couldn’t live without each other. We went through a battle to keep our apartment and won. We went through a number of landlords and finally got one we liked.

In 92 my dad died and I got the call from Rose and I cried, not for long but I did cry. He was my father and even though I was not his biggest fan, I had enough respect for him to cry. A week later I was at my church’s office and I was trying to fix their computer when I got another call from Rose that they had found something wrong with her blood.

That started a 3 and half year battle with Leukemia. Inside I wanted to scream but on the outside I had to show strength cause I knew that Rose would need me to lean on. She was strong but knew that she had me to hold onto and I was her sounding board, her slapping post. More than once she hit me not cause she was mad at me but because she needed to release some tension and some anger. I was there for that, not because I was a wimp but because that is what a husband is suppose to do.

I held her hand while she went through chemo. I was there when she had to spend time at Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto for a few weeks. I would go down and stay at their family building, free of charge, and be able to see her. She was despondent one day that she wanted to die. I was very honest with her. I told her that if she wanted to die then she best get on with it and get it over with but that while she did that she should think about her family and me. How that would make us feel and that I would be alone. A week or so later, she was out of isolation and in a normal room. No more gowns and gloves.

She was to going home soon  and I couldn’t wait for her to come home. I was so tired of sleeping alone and not hearing her snore beside me. Yes it’s true, if you just hold on, the snoring becomes normal background noise that is so important to your life. We spent the night in the guest services building and had one of the rooms to ourselves. We made love for the first time in weeks and it was wonderful. We cried and laughed and enjoyed each other. 

The next morning she noticed  little white spots on her body. What we thought was Host vs Graft disease, turned out to be chicken pox. That was on a Tuesday. On Saturday November 11 1995 at 11:20ish PM I got the call from the hospital. The love of my life was gone. All that strength I had had crumbled and I was standing in the kitchen stark naked and I screamed. I cried out and I was crushed.

I was surrounded by family and friends. We had the viewing, closed casket, and we talked about her. All the time all I wanted to do was crawl in the casket with her. To be cremated with her so we could spend the rest of eternity together. As far as I was concerned, my life was over. I had no reason to live anymore.

Rose was my world. I have to admit that I loved her more than I loved Jesus. I woke up to her every morning and went to bed with her every night. We made plans and even went through adoption proceedings only to have them dashed when she was diagnosed. It killed me to tell her that we had to stop them. Maybe we should have kept going. Maybe I would have had the child I had always wanted.

That was then this is now. For twenty years I have, in one way or another, mourned the loss of my love. The woman that I gave my heart to and my virginity. She held me and smacked me. Loved me and hated me. Made love with me and we enjoyed each other. Through it all, if I had to do it all again I would in a heartbeat. I would go through it all again if it meant I could have Rose back.

She was my 4 foot ten and half inch dynamo that loved her friends and family. She loved her husband more and even through all the trouble, she was happy. One day I know that she will be in my arms once more and that we will be together for the rest of time.

 

Sadness Is Not Choosey!

You never im me they say. You don’t like me they say. Guess what…not true. Just like a phone, it goes both ways. Click a button and say hi. I don’t bite (well I do but only If I ask first). See it goes like this. You have a mouse that you can click my name and say hi. It always seems so one-sided.

Connection is great and it does go both ways. It seems that I am always the one to start the conversation. Then people think that I am ignoring them. I’m not. I sit at times and wait for someone to say something then I end up starting the conversation. Which in itself is not a bad thing, but it would be nice if it happened the other way once in a while.

I don’t vent or rant very often. I keep a lot of things close to the vest. I don’t show my unhappiness very often. I plaster on a smile and make like everything is okay. Ask anyone that really knows me and they will tell you that. I play the happy guy but most of the time I am hurting inside. I fake it just to make sure that friends don’t have to see how broken I am inside.

People say, you are a Christian, how can you be unhappy or broken. Aren’t you saved…..Yup I am and yes I am saved but I am also very human. I have my problems with life just like everyone else. I go through things just like everyone else. I get depressed and I get sick just like everyone else.

I said once that I have no friends and I don’t have very many…in Oregon. All my friends or the majority of them live in Ontario Canada. My adopted dad is one of the most wonderful men I have ever met. I love him more than he will ever know. (and he knows who he is.) I watched two wonderful little girls, that i considered my little sisters grow up into beautiful wonderful women. One is even a TV star.

Thirty four years ago I married the love of my life. Fourteen years later she was taken from me. I have carried that pain for 20 years. There is a hole in my heart that was where her love resided. It held me and caressed me and told me everything was going to be alright. It’s not there anymore and nothing can fill that spot. I love my current wife but even she can not fill that hole.

Friendships are hard to find these days. With everyone connected to the net and the phones surgically implanted on our hands. Making friends is not what it use to be. Now we have social media that has taken the place of going outside and actually talking to each other. We replaced friendships with computers. We hide behind our screens instead of face to face. Oh what I would give to see the friends I talk to. To see all the friends that I left behind in Ontario.

I am a sad man. I have my moments of happiness but not as many as I would like. My happiness is in heaven waiting for me to come to her. It is in Ontario where the people I love the most are. Where my family is. The ones that know me best. I am waiting for the day that I can see My Lord and turn in my sadness for happiness.

Folks, make sure you do more than just IM people. If they are close enough, talk to them face to face. If you can’t, IM them often. Don’t wait for them to come to you. I don’t do it often enough but I have been hurt so many times that I don’t bother anymore. Saying Hi can do so much!