Demon: A Memoir

I have some strong opinions about this book. I seriously and deeply doubt that any fallen angel had remorse that he followed Lucifer in rebellion against God. But, this does make for some interesting fantasy. AND, one thing that must always remain at the forefront is that God does use Satan for His own good purposes. However, I know I probably would have bought this book because it is so highly praised, but then I would have been disappointed that I spent my hard earned money on it. What I recommend is that you save your money and buy next month's book "Nobody", by Creston Mapes. It gets 5 stars hands down.




It is October 1st, time for the FIRST Day Blog Tour! (Join our alliance! Click the button!) The FIRST day of every month we will feature an author and his/her latest book's FIRST chapter!




This month's feature author is:



and her book:

Demon: A Memoir

(NavPress, September 1, 2007)




ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Tosca Lee received her BA in English and International Relations from Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. She has also studied at Oxford University.

As a Leadership Consultant, Tosca works with managers and leaders of organizations throughout the Pan-Pacific region, Europe, and the U.S.

Tosca is a former Mrs. Nebraska-America 1996, Mrs. Nebraska-United States 1998 and first runner-up to Mrs. United States and has been lauded nationally for her efforts to fight breast cancer.

In her spare time, Tosca enjoys cooking, studying history and theology, and traveling. She currently resides in Nebraska with her Shar Pei, Attila.

Visit her at her website and her blog.

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Chapter One


It was raining the night he found me. Traffic had slowed on Massachusetts Avenue, and the wan light of streetlamps reflected off the pavement. I was hurrying on without an umbrella, distracted by the chirp of a text message on my phone, trying to shield its illuminated face from rain and the drizzle off storefront awnings. There had been a mistake in my schedule, an appointment that I didn’t recognize and that I had stayed late at the office for — until six forty-five — just in case. Our office manager was texting me from home now to say she had no idea who it was with, that the appointment must have belonged on Phil’s calendar, that she was sorry for the mistake and to have a good night.

I flipped the phone shut, shoved it in my bag. I was worn out by this week already, and it was only Tuesday. The days were getting shorter, the sun setting by six o’clock. It put me on edge, gnawed at me, as though I had better get somewhere warm and cheerful or, barring all else, home before it got any darker. But I was unwilling to face the empty apartment, the dirty dishes and unopened mail on the counter. So I lowered my head against the rain and walked another two blocks past my turnoff until I came to the Bosnian Café. A strap of bells on the door announced my entrance with a ringing slap.

I liked the worn appeal of the Bosnian Café with its olfactory embrace of grilled chicken and gyro meat that enveloped me upon every arrival and clung to me long after leaving. That night, in the premature darkness and rain, the café seemed especially homey with its yellowing countertops, chipped mirrors, and grimy ketchup bottles. Cardboard shamrocks, remnants of a forgotten Saint Patrick’s Day, draped the passthrough into the kitchen, faded around their die-cut edges. A string of Christmas lights lined the front window, every third bulb out. On the wall above the register, a framed photo of the café’s owner with a local pageant queen, and another with a retired Red Sox player, had never been dusted. But no one, including me, seemed to mind.

I stood in the entry waiting for Esad, the owner, to notice me. But it was not the bald man who welcomed me.

It was the dark-haired stranger.

I was surveying the other tables, looking for inspiration — chicken or steak, gyro or salad — when he beckoned. I hesitated, wondering if I should recognize him, this man sitting by himself — but no, I did not know him. He impatiently waved again, and I glanced over my shoulder, but there was no one standing in the entryway but me. And then the man at the table stood up and strode directly to me.

“You’re late,” he said, clasping my shoulder and smiling. He was tall, tanned, with curling hair and a slightly hooked nose that did nothing to detract from his enviable Mediterranean looks. His eyes glittered beneath well-formed brows. His teeth were very white.

“I’m sorry. I think you have the wrong person,” I said. He chuckled.

“Not at all! I’ve been waiting for you for quite some time. An eternity, you might say. Please, come sit down. I took the liberty of ordering for you.” His voice reminded me of fine cognac, the Hors d’Age men drink aboard their yachts as they cut their Cohíbas.

“You have the wrong person. I don’t know you,” I insisted, even as he steered me toward the table. I didn’t want to embarrass him; he already seemed elegantly out of place here in what, for all practical purposes, was a joint. But he would feel like an elegant fool in another minute, especially if his real appointment — interview, date, whatever — walked in and saw him sitting here with me.

“But I know you, Clay.”

I started at the sound of my name, spoken by him with a mixture of familiarity and strange interest, and then I studied him more closely — the squareness of his jaw, the smoothness of his cheek, his utter self-possession — wondering if I had indeed met him before. But I hadn’t, I was certain of it now.

One of Esad’s nephews arrived with a chicken sandwich and two cups of coffee. “Please,” the stranger said, motioning to a vinyl-covered chair. Numbly, stupidly, I sat.

“You work down the street at Brooks and Hanover,” he said when the younger man had gone. He seated himself adjacent to me, his chair angled toward mine. He crossed his legs, plucked invisible lint off the fine wool of his trousers. “You’re an editor.”

Several thoughts went through my head in that moment, none of them savory: first, that this was some finance or insurance rep who — just like the pile of loan offers on my counter at home — was trying to capitalize on my recent divorce. Or, that this was some aggressive literary agent trying to play suave.

Most likely, though, he was a writer.

Every editor has stories to tell: zealous writers pushing manuscripts on them during their kid’s softball game, passing sheaves of italicized print across pews at church, or trying to pick them up in bars, casually mentioning between lubricated flirtations that they write stories on the side and just happen to have a manuscript in the car. I had lost count of the dry cleaners, dental hygienists, and plumbers who, upon hearing what I did for a living, had felt compelled to gift me with their short stories and children’s books, their novels-in-progress and rhyming poetry.

“Look, whoever you are — ”

“Lucian.”

I meant to tell him that I was sure we didn’t publish whatever it was he wanted me to read, that there were industryaccepted ways to get his work to us if we did, that he could visit the website and check out the guidelines. I also meant to get up and walk away, to look for Esad or his nephew and put an order in — to go. But I didn’t say or do any of these things, because what he said next stopped me cold.

“I know you’re searching, Clay. I know you’re wondering what these late, dark nights are for. You have that seasonal disease, that modern ailment, don’t you? SAD, they call it. But it isn’t the disorder — you should know that. It isn’t even your divorce. That’s not what’s bothering you. Not really.”

I was no longer hungry. I pushed away the chicken sandwich
he had ordered and said with quiet warning, “I don’t know who you are, but this isn’t funny.”

He went on as though he hadn’t heard me, saying with what seemed great feeling, “It’s that you don’t know what it’s all for: the hours and days, working on the weekends, the belief that you’ll eventually get caught up and on that ultimate day something will happen. That everything will make sense or you’ll at least have time to figure it out. You’re a good man, Clay, but what has that won you? You’re alone, growing no younger, drifting toward some unknown but inevitable end in this life. And where is the meaning in that?”

I sat very still. I felt exposed, laid open, as though I had emptied my mind onto the table like the contents of a pocket. I could not meet his gaze. Nearby, a couple — both of their heads dripping dirty blond dreadlocks — mulled over menus as the woman dandled an infant on her lap. Beyond them, a thickset woman paged through People, and a young man in scrubs plodded in a sleep-deprived daze through an anemic salad. I wondered if any of them had noticed my uncanny situation, the strange hijacking taking place here. But they were mired in their menus, distractions, and stupor. At the back counter, a student tapped at the keypad of his phone, sending messages into the ether.

“I realize how this feels, and I apologize,” Lucian said, folding long fingers together on his knee. His nails were smooth and neatly manicured. He wore an expensivelooking watch, the second hand of which seemed to hesitate before hiccupping on, as though time had somehow slowed in the sallow light of the diner. “I could have done this differently, but I don’t think I would have had your attention.”

“What are you, some kind of Jehovah’s Witness?” I said. It was the only thing that made sense. His spiel could have hit close to anyone. I felt conned, angry, but most of all embarrassed by my emotional response.

His laughter was abrupt and, I thought, slightly manic. “Oh my,” he said, wiping the corners of his eyes. I pushed back my chair.

His merriment died so suddenly that were it not for the sound of it still echoing in my ears, I might have thought I had imagined it. “I’m going to tell you everything,” he said, leaning toward me so that I could see the tiny furrows around the corners of his mouth, the creases beneath his narrowed eyes. A strange glow emanated from the edge of his irises like the halo of a solar eclipse. “I’m going to tell you my story. I’ve great hope for you, in whom I will create the repository of my tale — my memoir, if you will. I believe it will be of great interest to you. And you’re going to write it down and publish it.”

Now I barked a stunted laugh. “No, I’m not. I don’t care if you’re J. D. Salinger.”

Again he went on as though I’d said nothing. “I understand they’re all the rage these days, memoirs. Publishing houses pay huge sums for the ghostwritten, self-revelatory accounts of celebrities all the time. But trust me; they’ve never acquired a story like mine.”

“Look,” I said, a new edge in my voice, “You’re no celebrity I recognize, and I’m no ghostwriter. So I’m going to get myself some dinner and be nice enough to forget this ever happened.” But as I started to rise, he grabbed me by the arm. His fingers, biting through the sleeve of my coat, were exceedingly strong, unnaturally warm, and far too intimate.

“But you won’t forget,” he said, the strange light of fanaticism in his eyes. His mouth seemed to work independently of their stare, as though it came from another face altogether. “You will recall everything — every word I say. Long after you have forgotten, in fact, the name of this café, the way I summoned you to this table, the first prick of your mortal curiosity about me. Long after you have forgotten, in fact, the most basic details of your life. You will remember, and you will curse or bless this day.”

I felt ill. Something about the way he said mortal . . . In that instant, reality, strung out like an elastic band, snapped. This was no writer.

“Yes. You see,” he said quietly. “You know. We can share now, between us, the secret of what I am.”

And the words came, unbidden, to my mind: Fallen. Dark Spirit.

Demon.

The trembling that began in my stomach threatened to seize up my diaphragm. But then he released me and sat back. “Now. Here is Mr. Esad, wondering why you haven’t touched your sandwich.” And indeed, here came the bald man, coffeepot in hand, smiling at the stranger as though he were more of a regular than I. I stared between them as they made their pleasantries, the sound of their banter at sick odds with what my visceral sense told me was true, what no one else seemed to notice: that I was sitting here with something incomprehensively evil.

When Esad left, Lucian took a thin napkin from the dispenser and set it beside my coffee cup. The gesture struck me as aberrantly mundane. He sighed.

“I feel your trepidation, that sense that you ought to get up and leave immediately. And under normal circumstances, I would say that you are right. But listen to me now when I tell you you’re safe. Be at ease. Here. I’ll lean forward like this, in your human way. When that couple over there sees my little smile, this conspiratorial look, they’ll think we’re sharing a succulent bit of gossip.”

I wasn’t at ease. Not at all. My heart had become a pounding liability in my chest.

“Why?” I managed, wishing I were even now in the emptiness of my apartment, staring at the world through the bleak window of my TV.

Lucian leaned even closer, his hand splayed across the top of the table so that I could see the blue veins along the back of it. His voice dropped below a whisper, but I had no difficulty hearing him. “Because my story is very closely connected to yours. We’re not so different after all, you and I. We both want purpose, meaning, to see the bigger picture. I can give you that.”

“You don’t even know me!”

“On the contrary,” he said, sliding the napkin dispenser away, as though it were a barrier between us. “I know everything about you. Your childhood house on Ridgeview Drive. The tackle box you kept your football cards in. The night you tried to sneak out after homecoming to meet Lindsey Bennett. You broke your wrist climbing out of the window.”

I stared.

“I know of your father’s passing — you were fifteen. About the merlot you miss since giving up drinking, the way you dip your hamburgers in blue cheese dressing — your friend Piotr taught you that in college. That you’ve been telling yourself you ought to get away somewhere — Mexico, perhaps. That you think it’s the seasonal disorder bothering you, though it’s not — ”

“Stop!” I threw up my hands, wanting him to leave at once, equally afraid that he might and that I would be stuck knowing that there was this person — this thing — watching me. Knowing everything.

His voice gentled. “Let me assure you you’re not the only one; I could list myriad facts about anyone. Name someone. How about Sheila?” He smirked. “Let’s just say she didn’t return your essage from home, and her husband thinks she’s working late. Esad? Living in war-torn Bosnia was no small feat. He — ” He cocked his head, and there came now a faint buzzing like an invisible swarm of mosquitoes. I instinctively jerked away.

“What was that?” I demanded, unable to pinpoint where the sound had come from.

“Ah. A concentration camp!” He looked surprised. “I didn’t know that. Did you know that? And as for your ex — ” He tilted his head again.

“No! Please, don’t.” I lowered my head into my hand, dug my fingers into my scalp. Five months after the divorce, the wound still split open at the mere mention of her.

“You see?” he whispered, his head ducked down so that he stared intently up into my face. “I can tell you everything.”

“I don’t understand.”

“I’ve made a pastime of studying case histories, of following them through from beginning to end. You fascinate me in the same way that beetles with their uncanny instinct for dung rolling used to fascinate you. I know more about you than your family. Than your ex. Than you know about yourself, I daresay.”

Something — some by-product of fear — rose up within me as anger at last. “If you are what you say, aren’t you here to make some kind of deal for my soul? To tempt me? Why did you order me coffee, then? Why not a glass of merlot or a Crown and Coke?” My voice had risen, but I didn’t care; I felt my anger with relief.

Lucian regarded me calmly. “Please. How trite. Besides, they don’t serve liquor here.” But then his calm fell away, and he was staring — not at me but past me, toward the clock on the wall. “But there,” he pointed. His finger seemed exceedingly long. “See how the hour advances without us!” He leapt to his feet, and I realized with alarm that he meant to leave.

“What — you can’t just go now that you’ve — ”

“I’ve come to you at great risk,” he hissed, the sound sibilant, as though he had whispered in my ear though he stood three feet away. And then he strode to the glass door and pushed out into the darkness, disappearing beyond the reflected interior of the café like a shadow into a mirror. The strap of bells fell against the door with a flat metal clink, and my own stunned reflection stared back.

Rain pelted my eyes, slipped in wet tracks through my hair against my scalp, ran in rivulets down my nape to mingle with the sweat against my back. It had gotten colder, almost freezing, but I was sweating inside the sodden collar of my shirt as I hurried down Norfolk, my bag slapping against my hip, my legs cramped and wooden, nightmare slow.

The abrupt warmth inside my apartment building threatened to suffocate me as I stumbled up the stairs. My ears pintingled to painful life as I fumbled with my keys. Inside my apartment at last, I fell back against the door, head throbbing and lungs heaving in the still air. I stayed like that, my coat dripping onto the carpet, for several long moments. Then a mad whim struck me.

With numb fingers, I retrieved the laptop from my bag and set it up on the kitchen table. With my coat still on, I dropped down onto a wooden chair, staring at the screen as it yawned to life. I logged into the company server, opened my calendar.

There — my six-thirty appointment. It was simply noted: L.


Sample from Demon / ISBN 1-60006-123-0
Copyright © 2006 NavPress Publishing.
All rights reserved.
To order copies of this resource, come back to www.navpress.com.

The Eyes have it

It is amazing what moder medicine is capable of these days.

I took Mom to the Southern Eye Clinic in Hattiesburg yesterday so she could get her macular degeneration checked and then get her cataract surgery. We were sitting there almost all day, except for lunch and a quick shopping trip--Me to get windshield wipers (which we used on the way home) and Mom found something nice for my sister's birthday.

I watched the whole surgery which took about 8 minutes. Dr. Kiper Nelson sang and hummed "There is a Fountain" all the while he made a tiny incision right along the iris edge, loosened the old cataract lens sucked that out with a tiny vaccum cleaner and slipped a brand new corrective lens in.

She woke up this morning feeling great and she could see the back yard, see colors... in fact, she is amazed at how well she can see now. I stand amazed as well.

At her check up this morning, the doctor had her look through some prescription lenses to see how well she could see. She can see better without the perscriptions! That means Dr. Nelson did a perfect job with her new lens.

Praise God from Whom all blessings flow. He is mighty in His gifts to His children. AMEN. Thank you, Lord.

God esteem vs self-esteem

There are certain people in this world that have come to believe that they are completely useless. They have come to believe this for many various reasons. They believe they are only useful to be punching bags for others, to be rugs for others and that they could never be worthy to even breathe air much less to be of use for anything other than to cook, clean and be a repository for sperm.

These people believe what the world tells them and that is they are ugly. They believe what those around them tell them and that is they are useless. They do not believe what God tells them. I know, because I used to be like this as well.

One thing I have learned during my years with my Beloved Lord God and that is there is No Faith where there is no Hope. The two are so entwined and bonded together that it is impossible to have one without the other. And the third cord in the unbreakable heavenly rope is Love. With Faith and Hope comes Love. First the Godly Love that He pours into our hearts so that we can at least lift our face up to Him. Then comes the Faith and the Hope that Life isn't ugly.

When anyone teaches that selfishness and Ego and the Flesh is the same as Self-Esteem, you are removing Hope which takes away Faith and that takes away the capacity to recognize God's Love. We love God because He created us with a huge God-sized hole within our hearts that only He can fill but we can only recognize something that Spiritual because He created us with a self-esteem that requires self-preservation almost at all costs.

Most people equate self-esteem with selfishness, old nature, flesh, pride etc. It is a God-created characteristic and is necessary for us to be able to recognize God's love. In other words, God created it on purpose. I think, perhaps, to separate self-image from self-esteem is a good thing. I do not think they are the same thing at all. As a friend of mine has stated, self-image is how one sees one’s self. Self-esteem is how one regards one's self or rather how one values one's self.

Alone... we have a zero value... on the surface.

However, God valued us enough to send His Son to die for us. So what was it that made us worthy in God's sight to pay this high cost? It certainly wasn't anything we did for while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. It wasn't that our physical bodies were so valuable because we return to dust. It had to be the fact He created us for His good pleasure.

Just as we are merely sojourners in this world because it is only our temporary abode, there are two ways to look at things... 1. Worldly Way and 2. God's way, self-esteem has two meanings. 1. Worldly and 2. Spiritual.

We are valuable because God created us and we are worthy because Jesus paid for us. There is a sanctity of life that can't be argued against. We esteem God and the Holy Spirit lives within us so therrfore we esteem ourselves ... value our self because God resides within and for no other reason.

Satan and this world walk hand in hand when it comes to tearing down the Christian's value system. We look at the world system and think we need to be skinny and have washboard stomachs, and rippling muscles and then we'll be happy. We look at God's system and realize this body is only temporary therefore useful for a pin-prick of time compared to eternity. However... Satan says we are ugly and points to famous models. Satan says we are not worth a plug nickel and points to Donald Trump or Bill Gates or Joseph Bloweth down the street all who have the appearance of being the happiest people on earth with a multitude of material things spread out before them like a Baptist Dinner On the Ground Picnic. Satan tries to twist the Spiritual value system into a worldly standard and tries to make us compare ourselves against the other imperfect humans of this world. And we can always find someone who is "prettier", has more money, has a better sense of humor, is kinder, has a better singing voice, can play the piano... This is where we fall so short because we have a self-image or self-esteem with a plumbline of other humans.

And this is the danger. We start believing what others say about us -- matters not whether it is bad or good. And that is a value system based on the world. When we measure ourselves with the Perfect Measuring Stick... the Perfect Life, then we see how far short we really are. But in this scenario, it doesn't matter how unworthy we are because of our deeds. All fall short of the glory of God!

The glorious things is, what truly matters is that God considers us worthy. God considers us acceptable -- warts and all. Suddenly, life is so simple. Life is so restful. Life has purpose. Peace, Joy, Goodness, Love, Self-Control not only permeates our life... but, it becomes a Lifestyle. Self-esteem is in the proper perspective viewed through God's eyes because the Blood of Jesus makes us righteous. We love Him because He first loved us and the only way we can possibly understand that love is because He created us capable of going beyond Ego and reaching for our only completeness in our Lord God Almighty.

Our bodies do not belong to us. We would never house sit for someone and while they were on vacation repaint the house a neon pink and replace all the furniture with concrete blocks... Therefore, by the same token, we should care for our bodies and our selves as lovingly as the Owner of our bodies would. We just have temporary custody. Our bodies are God's Temple.

Therefore, Godly-esteem is both external and internal because we are Spiritually New Creations. Therefore when we consider self-esteem, we must first consider which level we are on. Level one is the world and Level two is Spiritual. We belong to the Spiritual plane because we are New Creations.

The very fact the Bible mentions Loving Yourself, is proof that God understands how Satan works, beating us up with the worldly ideas. It is entirely likely that a person not well grounded in Scripture could easily believe himself worthless and commit suicide. It happens all the time. Absolutely we have external esteem. But we also have self-esteem. We must look at ourselves through the Owner's eyes...not through worldly eyes.

My Life Unscripted

I have had a bodacious week this week. I am still doing everything wrong.

However, there is a new book out there that is designed for every teenaged girl and the mother of every teenaged girl... Seriously

I don't have a picture of this book, but it is by Tricia Goyer who is the author of several extremely good books.

If every teen girl already had a script for certain things in her life... if she already made decisions about certain actions, then she'd be so far ahead of the game she'd be breezing through life without much heartache or trouble.

The problem is, most teenagers already know everything. But... this book would make an extremely GREAT study book for ages 13 to 20. I think this book is probably one of the most thought provoking books I've ever read. It looks at all different situations, and brings Biblical principles to bear. It's just a super way to teach young girls that if they do not make a stand, then they will fall on their face, or backs. Some decisions simply must be made before the situation arises.

Too many years ago for me to say, I was husband hunting. It was the expected thing to do. I found what I thought was the best of the crop. I dropped out of school without getting my degree with the idea I'd go back after our honeymoon.

Two major problems. One, I never asked God what His opinion was of who I had picked out of the crop to marry. The second problem was, I got pregnant immediately and never went back to school.

There were all kinds of warning signs that completely ignored. I didn't have a script, so I floundered and winging it, I failed. God can clean up the messes we make, but oh what blessings we miss when we are not in His perfect will.

I am going to strongly recommend that the girls in our youth group use this as their Winter study. I'm quite sure that it will save some a lot of anguish, and others it will just strengthen their own resolve.

Check it out and buy this book for that teen girl in your life, then read it yourself and Talk, talk, talk, talk about all the issues. Once they are out in the open, problems will have acceptable and apparent solutions.

A question of free will

Usually when "one of those passages" keep coming back to my mind, I have found that God is trying to teach me something very important. I have been thinking about the Free Will question.

Firstly, we don't know what kind of fruit the Tree of Knowledge had on it. Someone somewhere decided that it was an apple (shrug) go figure.

Let's look at the Scripture verse by verse: God created the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. (Gen. 2:8-9) Then God put Adam into the Garden of Eden that He had made for him so he could work the Garden and keep it in order.

Then: 16 GOD commanded the Man, "You can eat from any tree in the garden, 17 except from the Tree-of-Knowledge-of-Good-and-Evil. Don't eat from it. The moment you eat from that tree, you're dead." The Message

Here is the very first commandment. Never had God commanded anything before...He just spoke and it was. But to Adam, God gave intelligence and God expected obedience from him.

We know that Adam did eat from the Tree. We also know that Adam did not physically drop dead from eating that fruit. So what happened when he took that bite?

1. God commanded Adam not to eat of the fruit...God commanded Eve through Adam.
2. God expected Adam's obedience.
3. God knew that as long as Adam obeyed Him, Adam would be innocent--meaning that he would be guiltless of any sin.

Okay... let's go back and look at another verse.
Gen 2:7 Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.NASB

breathed means Naphach -- breathe give up or lose (life). God gave His Spirit to Adam. Adam was the first created human being and he was created saved. His own spirit was given life by God's breath.

breath is the Hebrew word N@shamah and means breath of God, spirit of man.

life is the Hebrew word Chayay which means to live, have life, be quickened to life.

But more than that, God created Adam with a perfect fellowship with Himself. Adam knew God intimately and Adam had God's Spirit abiding within Himself.

Adam and Eve were the only flesh and blood that ever entered God's presence because they were innocent of any sin. They didn't even know what sin was. They did not know what evil was and did not experience evil. Gen 2:25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.

When Eve was deceived and she gave Adam the fruit to eat... Adam chose to disobey God's command and he ate the fruit.

This fruit was from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Basically, it wasn't solely the fruit that gave them the knowledge, it was the act of disobedience also that gave them the knowledge. They were no longer innocent and they knew they were naked. Consider chapter 3 in Genesis... A lot of finger pointing went on, but if we follow God's leading...we'll see who God considered the real culprit.

3:14 -- The serpent is cursed more than anything created. The woman's seed will bruise its head with His heel. 3:16 -- The woman's pain in child birth was greatly multiplied and in spite of the pain of childbirth, her desire would be for her husband. She would be ruled by him.
3:17-19 -- The man's labor is greatly increased in order for his family's needs to be provided for; and here is where God decrees Man will physically die.
3:23 -- God sends Adam out of the Garden, away from His own presence.

Thus are the physical consequences of the first sin--the sin of disobedience-- established. Adam and Eve were given Free Will from the very beginning, otherwise they would not have been able to defy God's command to not eat from the Tree of Knowledge.

It was always God's intention for humans to have Free Will because He has never desired Forced Worship. He desires us to desire Him above all things. He desired Adam & Eve to make Him ruler of their hearts just as this is His desire for His children. They exercised their freedom of choice. The sin was disobedience to God's command.

The consequence was loss of the Holy Spirit of God abiding within their hearts. Therefore, Adam & Eve Spiritually died the instant they took that bite of the fruit. They eventually physically died, however the Spiritual death was much more trumatic because God banished them from His presence.

The consequence of this was that all humans ever after are born with a God-sized hole. Man was created to be Spiritually alive with God's Spirit. When this was taken away, the God-sized hole gives Mankind this intense craving to be filled. Mankind does all kinds of crazy things to fill this hole. He tries everything from work, to money, to drugs, to self-mutilation, to pursuit of knowledge (Ecclesiastes is a good example of this) to pursuit of perfect physical appearance, to having as many children as possible, to all kinds of church work, to buying as many toys as possible, clothes, shoes, possessions, big houses... the list goes on and on. Nothing fills that God-sized void except the Holy Spirit. It took the willing sacrifice of Jesus to reconcile humans to the Living God again legally. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus sweated drops of blood in His anxiety but He chose to obey God's will. Now, we can freely choose to either accept Jesus as our Savior or to reject Him. (Proof of this choice is in Acts 12--you might note that we are not given a reaction from Drusilla whose father was Herod Agrippa. He's the one that was eaten alive by worms because of his pride and refusal to bend to God's will.)

Here's the wonderful thing about this kind of Freedom. When we accept Jesus as Savior -- That's the last decision we ever make on our own. We have much greater wisdom at work in us than mere human wisdom after the Holy Spirit resides in our hearts. Choosing Jesus means choosing Him as Ruler of the Heart and Mind and Body and Soul.

This is how a Christian is known to other Christians...True Believer to other True Believers. The True Believer will desire to obey God and will be convicted by the Holy Spirit when he/she sins. Does this mean we won't have periods of rebellion and/or times of seduction into doing ungodly things? No. We most certainly will have those times because we are not perfect and we still reside in our fleshly, physical bodies.

What it means is that we will be convicted of our sin when we sin and we won't be able to sleep at night or have peace in our minds or be content. We will worry. We will fret. We will do all manner of running away from God until we recognize the sin for what it is. When we confess that sin and repent from that sin...Then God cleanses us, refreshes us, gives us peace in our hearts and minds. Our witness is restored from the shambles it was in and we are stonger in the Lord than ever before.

Our Free Will becomes a trophy for Jesus, a crown at His feet. It is the free will offering that we bestow upon Him.

Are you too comfortable?

Just when I'm getting all comfy cozy, God upsets my apple cart. I loved my job at the newspaper, but all my skills were not being utilized.

God decided to change my circumstances. He is seeing to it that everything He has taught me, and all that He has made sure that I learn will be put to good use.

In two weeks, I'll be stepping into the shoes of the Executive Director of the Picayune Chamber of Commerce.

I am so thankful that God has trusted me to do this job. I am so grateful to be able to get back into the economic development and community development arena. God is so good! Amen.

Sitting on His feet

No one understands God's perfect ways or even why God acts in such a way for some and in another way for others. How do we even know for sure we are walking in His will?



We can't see the future. Our feelings are fickle. We can't control other people's decisions. So how do we walk down that specific path God has lighted for us? We live in a very imperfect world and since we don't control other people, we can't be responsible for their choices.



The only alternative we have, then, is to walk the closest we can to the Lord God Almighty and expect Him to turn us from the wrong direction. We have His guidebook, His Word. We have the Holy Spirit. Combine this with our love for our Daddy and a deep desire to do His will and it is a fairly reliable recipe for following His will. It is only when we let our own desires get in the way that we veer off the path and stretch our leading strings.



I fully believe that God allows us an exploratory romp or two down side paths because this is how we learn God's guiding hand on our reins. We learn the feel, the gentle tug. If we don't acknowledge it, that nudge to pull to the left or right or that signal to stop, then God will get more urgent and sometimes the bit will dig in and hurt.



It isn't God that is causing the hurt, it is the stubborn ignoring of His guiding signals.



We can't walk in His ways unless we know Him. We can't know Him unless we study His Word. We can't study His word unless we take the time. We can't take the time unless we make it a priority. Therefore, priorities are crucial to knowing God's will.



I heard someone say that the difference between the ethical man and the moral man is simple. The ethical man will pause to consider the consequences of commiting adultery. The moral man would never consider adultery at all.

That is another key to following God's will. Never allow consideration of doing something that is contradictory to His commands. That part is simple enough, but incredibly hard to do, don't you think?

Psalm 37:4 says that when we delight in the Lord, He will grant us the desires of our hearts.

How precious that God gives us our desires when we delight in Him. That means those desires are not harmful. They are good for us and others. That means that our hearts are pure. What a joy to have a pure heart. That also means that our prayers are righteous and the prayers of the righteous avail much. We have a responsibility to dive into the middle of God's will and to delight in Him.

How precious it is to sit on His feet.

Bethany House

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Satan's Lie Number One...

Satan’s Lie Number One…

· There is only one true love for a person.

Love is a choice. A couple must literally work at the relationship in order for it to remain healthy.

Another Lie is, when a person finds “true love”, then it’s smooth sailing after that: No work, no problems, no conflicts. Prince Charming and Snow White kiss, fade out to the sunset and no more conflict, no more problems. If you have lived past your second decade you know this is False. One only has to glance at all the Christian books about Love such as Gary Chapman’s book, Five Love Languages, to know that Love is Work.

I didn’t date much in high school. I was only thirteen years old when I started high school so I had to wait two years before my folks would let me go out with a boy. I had a date to the Sweetheart Banquet at our church the year I was fourteen, but there were three other couples in my friend’s huge 1950’s car. That was a group date and we were packed in like sardines, but it was so much fun.

I started dating when I got to college. That was great fun, too. I was going out with four different guys at that same time. I’d forget what I’d told who about what so I often repeated myself. There was one that was truly sweet. He was tall and a bit skinny. I’ve totally lost touch with him so I dare not use his real name, so I’ll call him Ken. This guy was going to be an engineer. He was steady and he was unflappable. I told all the others, “Ta ta, bubye,” and continued dating Ken for awhile. He was from a near by town and went to church there which is why we never went out on Saturday, only Friday. After about three months, he started to seem boring to me. I wanted dash! Excitement! Verve! To live on the Edge! Ken wasn’t any of that. He was very good looking. He was staid. He was predictable, even though he did make me laugh quite often. I let him go, too. Told him I wasn’t ready for anything serious and if that was what he was after, then he’d better find someone else. He never called me again.

There was a series of guys that I had one or two dates with; even did the computer compatibility dating thing. (I found out when I went back to college in the Fall of 2004, that those computerized dating gigs were purely for research and not for hooking up guys and gals… is that a hoot, or what?) I never found THE Guy: The one and only guy that had been specifically created to make me happy. There was always something wrong with them: hair too long, hair too choppy, bad breath, not tall enough, sloppy kisser, not enough excitement, not enough “bad boy”, kissed great but no job, didn’t need me.

That was the real reason, I think. I was looking for someone who needed me. If someone needed me, then, he would never let me go so our relationship would be solid. That’s what it was all about, right? Wrong. I was too immature to know any better.

Then after tennis one day, I met The Guy. I had actually dated his friend, fours years earlier, who fell down drunk at a Frat party. The Guy (only he wasn’t The Guy then; he was just a guy) had soothed my ruffled feathers and took me home. Four years later, I met him again. During those four years, he had gotten a girl pregnant, married her and then she ran off with his friend, so now he was in the process of getting a divorce. If I’d been more mature in the Lord, I’d have run the other way. Or if I’d understood my motivating Spiritual Gifts of Exhortation and Mercy, I’d have understood why I was drawn to this poor soul. He needed me. He had a great job. He asked me out. He had some “bad boy” in him. He was gorgeous, tall, good hair and breath and he had a car so I wasn’t the driver all the time. We started dating. He told me the reason I wanted to be around him all the time was because I was in love with him. I believed him. We got married. I got pregnant.

There wasn’t one thing about The Guy that was better than any other fellows I dated. Not one. In fact, there was a lot about The Guy that was far below the other fellows I had dated. But how can a nineteen year old discern differences, discern dangers? Perception is reality to so many, when that is not true at all.

I did not know at that time that love is a choice. We choose whom we love. Yes, chemistry has something to do with it. Some men just feel like brothers and friends while other men make you feel like you’ll explode into flames at their slightest touch. Yes, that is correct, I said men… plural.

Women are wired a bit differently than men are. We are more secure oriented than men, so we normally don't fall head over heels for someone who is a vagabond or a vagarant when we are older and have a healthy fear of insecurity. But, younger women who are safe under daddy's roof are not so discerning in character.

I was no exception.

Steadfast Under Trials


Steadfast Under Trials


There comes a time when a Christian must completely disregard what others might think and just spit out what God is calling her to share. Today is that day. After this series, you may think I’m the worst Christian to ever walk the face of the earth, or you may think I’m some martyr. Neither of those things are true. I am simply a Christian who has walked through the Valley of the Shadow of Death and I feared great evil for a time, but God was with me and He pulled me through those valleys, for there were many of them.
Today is the day for wisdom to triumph and pride to be killed.
~:.:~

There are some myths -- let’s call them what they really are – Satan’s lies that abound in our society. Lies that young women fall prey to because of the so-called love stories that are poured out of Hollywood and the trashy romance novels that have flooded the bookstores, which bend and twist godly, romantic love into a farce.

We’re talking about True Love and how we find it, dispelling the lies of Satan. We’re talking from a Christian view and not a world view. Who can know the mind of God besides the Holy Spirit Who is part of God? In order to be within the will of God, we must be able to hear that still, small voice that Isaiah heard in the cave. We must be still and know that He is God. If we marry outside the will of God, then we must expect heartache. If we truly desire to please God, then we must wait on Him. This opens the door to the questions, “Does God just have one and only one person for us to love? Does God create soul mates for each of His children?”

I think the answer to those questions is the way of a man and a woman falling in love is mysterious (Proverbs 30:19). I strongly believe that God has one and only one person for His children to love at one time. Widows under that age of 60 years are commended to remarry by Paul so they won’t become busybodies. Therefore, at different times in the Lord, He gives us another to Love which is in His will.
Because Love is a choice, God will not coerce anyone into a relationship. I did not listen when God caused warning bells to clang. There were all kinds of signs that I chose not to see. Neither did I stick by a list of qualities that must be present in a man who would make an excellent husband… the first being, love of God above all else. I called myself mature in the Lord. How sad it is that pride can overshadow good sense.
Solomon spoke great truths. Of all his proverbs for his son, pride goeth before destruction (Pro 16:18). Pride and a sensual nature are cataclysmic when combined in a young woman. Add to that an immaturity in the Lord and it spells disaster when choosing a marriage partner. This is why we cannot depend upon our feelings when making this life decision.

Feelings are fleeting and emotions are momentary.

Do not misunderstand me. Feelings and emotions play a great role, but not the only role in choosing a life mate. But, try telling that to a nineteen year old girl who is in the first flush of love. All those hormones rushing and the sheer giddiness of mutual attraction make a powerful combination that reason can rarely combat. This is why we must make certain decisions before we get to the match point, then we must become fused to those decisions. Do not make the same mistakes I made. Learn from my mistakes; become wise before your years and gray hair.
Satan is masterful in braiding lies with just enough truth to disguise them as lies. He is also master at playing to our weaknesses, our flesh desires, and our longings. Young girls have great longings. Old women also have great longings. My discussion is not geared to just young women. I pray to make an impact on anyone who picks up this discussion. An impact toward a godly viewpoint on love, marriage and singleness.

~:.:~

Being broken off... or not

So many people are blind about eternal security, they use the verses in Romans 11 about the branches being broken off as their proof text.

Who is doing the breaking off of the branch? Can the branch break itself off? No. It is God doing the breaking off, for He is in control.

So... We have to look at the Options or perhaps the action that results in the breaking off of the branch. What was the reason the natural olive tree branches were broken off? Because of unbelief. Why were the wild branches grafted in? Because of their faith/belief.

Here is what I am talking about so we're on the same page.


Rom 11:16 Now if the firstfruit is holy, so also the lump. And if the root is holy, so also the branches.
Rom 11:17 But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree were grafted in among them, and became a sharer of the root and the fatness of the olive tree,
Rom 11:18 do not boast against the branches. But if you do boast, it is not you that bears the root, but the root bears you.
Rom 11:19 You will say then, The branches were broken off that I might be grafted in.
Rom 11:20 Well! For unbelief they were broken off. And you stand by faith. Do not be highminded, but fear.
Rom 11:21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, fear that it may be He will not spare you either.
Rom 11:22 Behold, then, the kindness and severity of God: On those having fallen, severity. But on you, kindness, if you continue in the kindness. Otherwise, you will also be cut off.


So why would the grafted in branches be broken off again? Because of unbelief. Would God allow such a merry-go-round?

No because He quite plainly states in John 3 that the person that doesn't believe is condemned already. The fact is that the gift of salvation is the gift of grace...no merit involved. God's gift to those that believe in Jesus. Grace is not dependent upon the actions of the receiver after the gift is accepted. God is not an Indian giver. Therefore, since God has given the gift to believers He will not remove the gift for a temporary faith problem. We all have those days of worry, and moments of unbelief. But, these are brief episodes and we are not punished for brief episodes.

Nor are we punished for sin except to suffer consequences of choosing to sin over obedience. Habitual, continual living in sin is blatant witness to an unbelieving heart. An unbelieving heart was never circumcised nor did it become a new creation in Jesus. Therefore, it was never saved.

In vs 1 of chapter 11, Paul states that God has not rejected His people Israel. Then as we read on through the chapter, Paul talks about the remnant being saved in Elijah's day and then in vs 5 he points out:

In just the same way at the present time a 'remnant' has come into being, selected by the grace of God. But if it is by grace, then it does not rest on deeds done, or grace would not be grace! ...7 but the selected few [Israel] have achieved it and the rest were made blind to the truth...

These Jewish branches were allowed to remain attached to the tree so they could hear the Gospel, see the signs and know that Jesus is the Messiah spoken of all through the OT. Those that were lopped off were the ones that did not believe all they had seen and all they had heard and still needed another sign.

Jesus told them all in Luke 16:31 when He told the story of Lazarus and the rich man "they have Moses and the prophets...they do not believe them...they would not even believe if one were to rise from the dead." Which Jesus did do! And yet they still did not believe. This is why they were cut off the tree. The branch rejected the nourishment from the root!

So what about that last verse? "...if you continue in kindness. Otherwise you will be cut off."

Let me bring another verse to bear witness here.


1Jo 5:16 If anyone sees his brother sinning a sin not unto death, he shall ask; and He shall give life to him, to the ones not sinning unto death. There is a sin unto death. I do not say that he should ask about that.
1Jo 5:17 All unrighteousness is sin, and there is a sin not unto death.


The difference between "broken off" and "cut off" is slight but the words are different. Broken off is just that. Cut off is kin to frustrating, or hindering. This term is also used in Daniel concerning the prophecy of the Messiah being cut off. Meaning He had to die physically.

This is that same thing. Anyone who hinders the work of God won't be around for very long if they continue that kind of sin. That is a sin unto physical death. For once having been changed into a new, Spiritually Alive creature, it is impossible to be changed back again. The caterpillar cannot be changed back into a butterfly. That is a perpetual physical illustration of what happens to someone when God saves them from the Wrath to come. A Spiritual happening changes them into a supernatural butterfly.

Saved and it's final

If anyone desires to believe that because of your works and because of the strength of your faith that you remain attached to the tree, so be it. I choose to use my energy in trying to please the Lord with my obedience. I choose to show the world that I am His by being a lighthouse to this world. I choose to rest assured in one thing...

I know whom I believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep my promise/commitment within Him against that day. 2 Tim 1:12

You see that? I have committed to Him my life. I trust Him to keep my promise. In return I will try my best to be a good witness for Him.

There is something so beautiful about that verse, besides singing it.

Grace is so unfathomable to humans. It is foreign to our society. Nothing is free these days. But Grace is. And God has enough of it to shower everyone who wants to be showered with it. I find that astounding.

Therefore, I shall measure my problems against how big my God is and not how big the problem is. AMEN.