The End Will Restore The Beginning

“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of [f]heaven, but My Father only.” “Therefore, you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”  Matthew 24:36,44 NKJV

Recent events over the past couple of years has a lot of people asking whether we are living in end times.  More importantly a lot of people are wanting to know exactly what the Bible has to say about the times that we live in.

There is so much confusion about the topic of end times.  Jesus was keenly aware of this. When his disciples asked the same questions that we often ask today, he addressed their concerns with clarity and details so that they would not be confused or misled.

I personally am glad that the disciples asked him tough questions about the end times. I also appreciate his candor and direct response.

To be totally honest, when I first read these events as described in Matthew and Revelation, I was horrified and scared.  When I was a non-believer and unrepented sinner, I knew that I would not hold up well or endure those events with my mind intact.

The fear gripped me and held me tight. Yet I knew that Christians were keenly aware of these things but did not seem to display the high levels of anxiety that I had.  I needed to know what they knew, that I didn’t.

Watching world events unfold in front of our eyes can bring a certain level of uncertainty and anxiety.  However, if we know the truth of what is to come according to God’s word, we can have confidence that God is still very much in control.

We can also be assured that even though the world will experience horrendous events as the day of the Lord approaches, inner peace and rest for the soul can be had for all who are called of God.

For those who are in union with God there is much hope during these turbulent times. With unimaginable death and suffering to mankind, even as the world and all of it’s systems is failing, the promises of God will prevail, guaranteed.

It is important to separate truth from speculation, as only God’s word can do. Let’s explore what God has said about this pivotal time in the future.

The Big Picture

To understand the end, we need to understand the beginning from God’s point of view.  All of the history changing events that took place at the time of creation and in the Garden of Eden set the stage for everything else that takes place in world history. It reaches its conclusion and climaxes in the last book of the bible, Revelation.

“And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.” Genesis 3:15 NKJV

Immediately after the deception by Satan which caused the disobedience of Adam and Eve, God declared war against him and his offspring for all generations.  God set in motion back in Genesis a plan and strategy to win the war with Satan and redeem mankind back to himself from his fallen sinful state.

All of history is culminating to this end. God rules history and he will bring it to its conclusion and consummation in Jesus Christ.  Ladies and gentlemen that is the big picture of what God is doing.

“Remember the former things of old, For I am God and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, Saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all of My pleasure.” Isaiah 46:9,10 NKJV

From our perspective here on earth, we see only a sliver of details, that fit into the tapestry puzzle of eternity.  We see a few bits and pieces of the puzzle, while God sees the entire finished process and it turns out and will look exactly as he wanted it to be, from the beginning.  A basketball analogy is that God called his shots before he even made them!

Diagnosis Of The World

“But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come; For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!” 2Timothy3:1-5

 The first time I read the above verse in the Bible, I was blown away at the detailed accurate description of the current world we live in. It’s hard to believe or imagine that the single act of disobedience from Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden has become a full-blown cancer of sin, which is terminal, both to the world at large and to individuals.

If you turn on any news channel, or social media you will be saturated with stories of the deteriorating condition of the human race. Make no mistake about it, this is exactly where we are.  Things are going to get exponentially worse before it gets better. But wait, there’s more!

Scripture And Headlines, A Perfect Match

“And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars.  See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.  For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.  And there will be famines, pestilences and earthquakes in various places.  All these are the beginning of sorrows.” Matthew 24: 6-8 NKJV

 As I write this article, there are numerous wars and conflicts going on around the globe.  The latest war between Russia and Ukraine underscores the precise accuracy of scripture. Even though it is foretold that there will be wars, I am far more comforted by the fact that a day will come when war will be a permanent thing of the past.  God has decreed it to be so. Currently the world is experiencing the hostility of bombs and bullets, but the day shall come when God will fulfill his promise concerning the end of all wars.

“He shall judge between the nations and rebuke many people; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.” Isaiah 2:4 NKJV

There have been several major events in my lifetime that have captured the world’s attention.  While these events unfolded across my television set, the expert commentators tried to make sense of it all. Human wisdom, rationale and logic was applied to calm the masses.  Unfortunately, more and more of the same old rhetoric does not bring any measure of peace to the hearts and minds of the listeners.

Having the very words of Jesus Christ as written in the above verse as my voice of reason and understanding of world events, they gave me more clarity than any of the so-called experts.

God’s word serves as my proof positive that all events taking place in the world will go according to His sovereign will.  I am comforted by the acknowledgment that God is still on track to solve the dilemma that took place in the Garden of Eden.

Can We Believe What The Bible Says About End Times?

It is very understandable that we as humans do not want to think about the prospect of a horrible future for this earth and mankind.  However, if we are honest, truthful and faithful to God’s word, we must take it at face value, as it speaks the truth about these events to our hearts.

With detailed clarity about the last days, it makes it easier for us to understand the rest of God’s word on how it will be dealt with.  It also makes it easier for us to understand why things are unfolding around us as they are.  To include, wars, sickness, crime, death and destruction, and the rampant effects of sin on the human race.

We need to get clarity about the closing events that will take place on planet earth.  We do not need speculation but rather we need to hear precisely what God has said about these things, to include the order of events.  Jesus Christ himself gave specific revelation of these things. Hence the last book of the bible is called Revelation.

Jesus Christ gave His Revelation from a unique vantage point.  He was seeing it from the future on the timeline of eternity.  Imagine if you will that you are seeing a long parade marching down the street.  From your point of view on the ground you can only see a small segment of the parade as it passes by in front of you.  You cannot see where the parade started, nor can you see where it will end as it turns the corner heading to another block.

Now let’s again imagine you are up in a helicopter and looking down on the entire panorama of the parade.  From high up in the air you can see where the parade begins, and you can see the entire parade in motion and see precisely where it ends many blocks away from the beginning.

When Jesus gave his revelation to John, that is the advantage point he had and when you read the book it will become clear to you that he has this advantage point.  This unique perspective from Jesus Christ gives credibility to its accuracy.

It is understandable that scoffers will say, that the end time is never going to happen because people have said these things for years and the world has continued as is.  They said it in the Old Testament period, and in the lifetime of Jesus, and they are saying it today.  No doubt we may hear from them yet again in the future.

That does not change the fact that this world as we know it has an ending date.  Just as time, earth and all of creation had a beginning, determined by God, it also has an ending, determined by God.

The Second Coming of Christ

 “knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.” 2 Peter 3:3,4 NKJV

 An article published by Live Science (October 21,2011) cited a Pew Research survey conducted in 2011 of US Christians who believe in the second coming of Jesus Christ.

Fully 79 percent of US Christians say that they believe that Christ will return to earth someday.  What I find interesting is that same survey cited 17 percent of US Christians who don’t believe that Christ will return, and 4 percent who do not know.

It seems inconceivable that one of the very basic articles of the Christian faith, the return of Jesus Christ, could be dismissed or rejected by anyone who claims to be a Christian.  There are countless verses that specifically address this unannounced event. It is global in nature and unmistakable, as it will be witnessed by everyone on earth.

As Christians this is the very event, we all are waiting for and want to occur. Let me attempt to bring some clarity to this event.  Jesus will literally come back in the air, on the clouds and call all living believers to himself and resurrect dead believers to himself.

He specifically tells us so. These words are spoken from his mouth, as noted in the red-letter edition of the Bible.

“Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”  Matthew 24:30,31 NKJV

 To not believe this fact or belittle its reality is to deny and negate God’s power and authority over all creation.  Cannot the God who created the universe and raised the dead by his spoken command not do this?

This one single event will be the kickoff for the end of the world as we know it.  Other things will follow in relatively fast succession. Books, and movies abound to describe what will occur during and after this cataclysmic event.  The Bible is the best source of truth regarding all things related to the end of the age.

I encourage you to read the finer details for yourself in your Bible. Here is a brief summary, or a 30,000 feet view.

The Rapture, the taking away from the earth the people of God, both dead and the living. Jesus Christ will do this. This event takes place in the air.  Jesus will not touch down on the earth. That comes a bit later when he rules the earth, for 1000 years. Romans 13:11 Mark 13:32

 The Great Tribulation, a specific time period of seven years where things become exponentially worse. It will be a real horror show when things go from bad to hell on earth! Even during this awful period of global upheaval, God still is allowing for repentant hearts to turn to him.

 What I find amazing is that even during the unimaginable suffering, chaos and worldwide plagues, there will be some that still will refuse to repent of sin or submit to the authority of God. Can you imagine? Matthew 24:21,22; 1Thessalonians 5:3; Daniel 12:1

“But the rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, that they should not worship demons, and idols of gold, silver, brass, stone, and wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk.  And they did not repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts.” Revelation 9:20,21

Millennial Reign of Jesus Christ, a 1000-year period when Jesus Christ will return to earth. He will touch down and literally rule the earth, with a select group of martyrs and saints. Satan will also be bound during this period. Revelation 20: 1-15, Micah 4:1-4

 Last Judgement, the end game where all decisions by the judge Jesus Christ will be final. He will render his verdict on all of mankind, every individual, from which there is no appeal. Eternal sentencing begins, and eternal rewards given. Revelation 11:18

 New Heaven-New Earth, God will destroy the old and create the new. The new earth will be free of sin and righteousness will dwell therein. Isaiah 65:17,18; Revelation 21:1-5

 Undisputable Conclusions

The end of Revelation will put the final stamp of vindication about everything that interrupted the original plan and purposes of God in the Garden of Eden.  Notice I said interruption, not a change of plans, not a stopping of plans, nor a change of purpose. It is the restoration of all things lost when sin entered the world by Adam and Eve.

God has always and will continue to project his Sovereignty over all of creation.  He has always existed in his glory as the triune God, eternally existing as God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.  The end of the age and end time events puts his undeniable signature on everything that happens.

God conveys to us a consistent theme and message.  Even though the human race was sabotaged by the deception of Satan and became sinful, he has always been working out his plan to redeem them and restore all things.

The war between Satan and God and the offspring of God is what is being unveiled. Regardless of how bad things look, Gods original plans and purposes will prevail.

Make no mistake about it, he will render justice and judgement on the world and on all those who refuse to acknowledge his sovereignty and repent of their sins.

He will establish a holy people for himself, who are free of sin.  He will establish a permanent kingdom in which to rule the new heaven and new earth that he shall create.

Though the drama has played out on the world stage over several thousands of years, when the final curtain is drawn, God and his chosen people reign victorious over all the earth eternally. It will be a new world where former things of old are remembered no more.

“And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying.  There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” Revelation 21:4,5

Eugene Coghill is a contributing writer for Faith Filled Family Magazine. His blog Kingdom Living, www.eugenecoghill.com is an inspirational blog, that also highlights his two published novels.  Love Is A Fishnet (2008) and A Loving Deception (2020)  He is drafting  his third book.  He is currently a full time professional tractor trailer driver for Walmart, and is pursuing a freelance copywriting career.  He lives in New England and has a growing passion for cycling.

 

 

Rolling Memories. Chapters 1 and 2 first draft unedited version

Rolling Memories

By Eugene Coghill

 

CHAPTER  1

 

Usually the clock on the wall lurched forward at half speed at this hour in the afternoon, and rarely could drivers be found that were in abundance of eagerness to take on any late afternoon runs into the city.  The dusty drivers lounge and adjoining dispatch office had the stench of stale cigarettes and cigars from the onslaught of endless smokers that had puffed there over the past 17 years.  Three oversized card tables placed side by side served as office furniture for the drivers to fill out their paperwork.  For the most part the small office served quite efficiently the needs of Topshelf Cab Company.  Topshelf Cab had a long distinguished history of serving the surrounding communities of Wilmington North Carolina.  Business was quite steady all year around and they would often see spikes several times during the year due to high school proms, graduations, and the ever popular beach resort properties along the coastal waterway.

A small color TV sitting on a wobbling corner stand, was the only distraction from the chirping and loud crackling of the airways as information was passed between the drivers and dispatch.  It had only three working channels that came in very clear, and thankfully they kept the drivers entertained with a variety of news, sports and mid-day talk shows.  As a matter of fact it was often believed that before the daytime shifts ended, the driver who got the chance to watch the Jerry Springer show had to make running commentary for all the other drivers who missed it.  And even though none of them were good actors, the dispatchers would look forward to the daily antics and amusement of listening to the wild stories that often provided far more entertainment value than the Jerry Springer show that played faithfully every day.

It was not unusual to find Howard Bond over exaggerating his southern accent, to humor the three or four drivers that always seemed to be in the office at that time of day.  Over the years his rough life had made him the ultimate cynic, but he did a very good job of disguising it while on the job.  He was known throughout the community as one of the nicest drivers Topshelf had on staff.  And often he was requested and preferred over the others.  Driving his cab was his distraction from too much drinking and a marriage that was heading south at a record pace.  While other drivers were putting in just enough to make ends meet, Howard was driven to make every dime possible.   He valued the extra buck, and the surest way to get on his bad side was to prevent him or interrupt him from getting it. He let it be known on quite a few occasions that he did not appreciate the way dispatch would send him out on a call that had cancelled within two or three minutes of his arrival, and opted not to pay full price, so as not to lose a customer over a fare dispute.  The customer is always right, was not a slogan he loved.  As a matter of fact for him it was more like him against the world.  He had a fast buck to make and sometimes a little too much kindness and patience kept him from making top dollar. At the end of the day his frustration was mounting thinking he was getting a bad deal.

He had his reason for the hardened style he had gotten used to.  His marriage was in trouble and yet he only stayed out of loyalty and for the two kids that were still in high school.  Money was always tight and his wife, Luann made sure that it stayed that way with her endless and often needless shopping.  The kids never went neglected,” but my God Luann, do they really need $100 sneakers,” he once asked.  Every time he got behind the wheel of his cab he was keenly aware of just how many trips he would need that day to feed everyone and keep the utilities on. He was sure to remind Luanne, every time he called her, although she mostly ignored him, knowing that his love was steady, because after all any other man would have left a long time ago.  In the back of Howard’s mind, he thought that after the kids grew up and moved out, the worse would be over, and then it would be pointless to leave, although he never let Luanne believe anything other than a packed suitcase was in the bedroom closet.

Howard was relaxing in the battered lazy boy recliner when the dispatcher yelled out, “Howard got one rider to be picked up at 178 White Street, going to the other side of town over there at the Peaceful Meadows home.  It’s a good fair, and then you can take it on home.  Sounds like a nice lady, be gentle with her, do you want it?”

“Yeah, I’m on it.  I remember the last time you sent me to Peaceful Meadows, and that old man stiffed me.  Talking about his pension check did not come and he would have to pay me when he gets out.  Don’t send me on a dud this time of day; I am not in the mood.  Do you know what I have to go home to?”

“She is good for it Howard.  I think it’s about time you showed some of that charm you are so famous for, now get out of here.” A hearty laugh could be heard by the young dispatcher as Howard stepped into his cab.  While most of the drivers had a certain disdain for the cabs they drove, Howard took special pride in his mobile office.  The blue 1991 Ford Crown Victoria had been his latest car assigned to him as a special reward for putting up with very demanding business executives for two weeks at the local resort, during the mid summer water festival.  It was an annual event that took place, and it drew lots of high paying customers.  As a matter of fact it was a windfall for the cab drivers, because it was well known that the local law enforcement and surrounding sheriff’s departments, increased their revenue by nearly fifty percent as a result of DWI citations that were issued during festival weeks.  Many of the out of town business travelers just opted to block out two weeks and hire dedicated cabs and drivers exclusively for their party.  And they paid extremely well, for the extra perks that normally do not accompany cab fares.  Perks like drives to lovers lane with local ladies that were also getting well paid for services rendered.

After checking the tires for air pressure and going under the hood checking fluids and tugging on the belts, Howard slams the hood and sits down behind the wheel.  He makes a few notes on his notebook to be sure to close out his day when this fare is done.  After a quick flip of the local county map he checks in with dispatch via radio and drives off.

 

Standing in the kitchen and looking out the back window she takes a deep sigh, knowing that her favorite view will no longer be available to her. The sun lights her thin pale face, and it is only then that the glistening tears in her eyes can be seen.  She thinks of years of sounds that echoed around the house, such as the laughter of local kids playing out in the back yard, and the smells that were always flowing from the kitchen.  “How did it all come and go so quickly?” she thinks out loud.  Turning to her left she slowly walks about ten feet to the adjoining small bright yellow bathroom and stops just outside the door.  She stands in front of the old antique cabinet that now serves as the place where all sorts of cold medicines, remedies, and every medical aid known to man now resides.  A lighted vanity mirror sits neatly in its cradle.  As she steps closer she reaches out her hand that now has a visible shake and tremble. Upon picking up the mirror she frowns at the distorted view and it takes her a moment to realize she is looking at the convex side.  Her frown gives way to a smile after the discovery and thinks ‘Girl you need to do something drastic about that face, you may be going to the old folks home but you don’t have to go there looking like death.  There might be a reason to stay alive over there.’

Gertrude Washington had long realized that she had been loved like no other woman.  Even now at this fragile moment in her life, she smiles when thinking of just how cherished she was to her husband of 57 years.  And because he made her feel like a queen, she took advantage of every opportunity to look the part.  It was very well known that she was beautiful and at will she commanded the attention and affection of boys and men when she was younger.  She had left a trail of broken hearts and unfulfilled fantasies of countless men who had crossed her path before getting married.  She carried grace into her golden years and her beauty did not easily reveal the fact she had completed 92 trips around the sun.

She came into the world a small fragile baby girl and very sick.  Her parents Lloyd and Henrietta Washington stayed up all night when she was born thinking that it would take a miracle from God above if she ever were to survive.  Just a week prior some test revealed a major problem with the development of Gertrude.  It seems that her body had surpassed the organs and they were not fully functioning in time for the 4 November arrival date.

The doctor told Henrietta that some heartbreaking decisions would have to me made during the last 24 hours prior to her going into labor, and none of the decisions would be good.  It all boiled down to having the baby and allow her to come into the world  undeveloped and be able to function almost as a vegetable, or do the unprecedented and unheard of idea of delaying the birth way past the expected arrival date, by up to five days.  The accompanying risk would be both to mother and child.

However the child stood a far greater chance of having fully functioning organs, if she survived the delayed birth.  Doctor James E Ferlazzo was very frank and direct when he told Henrietta, “There is a real strong possibility that one or both of you may not survive this.  A decision is going to have to be made on whether or not to hold labor or allow as scheduled.  Once we start the procedure to hold labor there is no turning back and we cannot go in again to open up your passageway.  So I am afraid you will be making a life or death decision for you and your baby before we start.  I will give you some time with your husband to think about it.  Please just let my staff nurse know, and please know that we will do everything in our power to bring you both through this.  You will be in my prayers as well.”

Now she was faced with yet a new adventure, and perhaps her last, but she was still looking forward to the trip.  While going through the rest of the house over the past hour, she had to stop several times to cry and just let the memories come and take her back to happier times.  She had been a widow of about five years and it was so very hard for her to adjust to life without the only man who was willing to put up with all she dished out.  There were piles of boxes stacked in rows in the kitchen and she felt how strange it is to know that that all the things that went into making that house her home was inside of those boxes.  All of the walls were bare, no picture plates, no funny clown plates hanging above the kitchen window.  No tattered roller blinds that would spring up and snap from being wound too tight.

White sheets lay over most of the furniture and the floors lay bare.  Now it was very easy to see the outline of the rugs that had been placed there over the years. There was a very distinctive creek that could be heard as you enter the dining room.  She felt more and lonelier as the day dragged on, and her memories was her only visitor.  She wondered if it was a blessing or a curse to have outlived every other soul in the family.  The family tree was large both from her husband’s side and hers, but yet by the grace of god she was the last branch still hanging on while the winds of time had claimed all the others.

She was ever thankful and always acknowledged that God had blessed her richly over the years.  But even still, now she wondered if he would be merciful enough to not let her languish in her old age.

Peaceful Meadows was not her choice.  She would have been content to stay in the house and let the firemen come and find her collapsed on the bathroom floor.  She had long forgotten that is exactly why she was going to Peaceful Meadows, because two years ago she slipped and fell while attempting to get out of the bathtub.  She was not discovered for about 13 hours, after a visiting neighbor called and got no response.  The neighbor broke the window to the back kitchen near the bathroom and called 911.  That fall was a beginning of several events that had everyone convinced except Gertrude that she could no longer be able to live by herself.  Although she was very good at acting like her momentary lapse in judgment and memory was due to medications or not getting enough rest, it was even more evidence that she would never be as sharp as before.

The county Department of the Aging and Assisted living, had no doubt that she needed help from the different assessment test they had conducted with her doctor’s permission.  Gertrude’s foster son, Eugene, had been a strong advocate for getting her the help she needed.  Furthermore he was really upset that the county delayed to take action for a couple of years, and that Gertrude as a result was at risk of injury.  She had fallen about five times, backed the car out of the garage and knocked the garage door completely down, and allowed someone to embezzle over $115,000 from her savings account.  She had access to matches and was cooking with a gas stove. Furthermore, it was no secret that ‘mom’ could let bullets fly if the mood would strike her.  She kept a loaded shotgun and pistol in her husband’s closet.  And she was no stranger to using them; as a matter of fact she had quite a legacy for doing so.

The stories circulate to this day of shots that rang out from 178 White Street over the past 40 years.  Some shots found their target, of unsuspecting deer, snakes, possums, etc.  Other bullets barely missed their target of the human kind; more specifically, the husband kind.  And then there is the unique incident that a platoon of Marines would rather forget.  The night they got lost while out on a navigation and training patrol and became disoriented in the woods out behind Gertrude’s house.  As they were accustomed to being very quiet in the woods, they knew they were lost and was trying to cut across her spacious property to get back to their proper location.  This rustling in the trees and bushes did not go unnoticed by Gertrude.  She immediately got up in the middle of the night and grabbed the shotgun and a box of shells.  She ran to the back door and opened it and called out into the black night.  “Who is out there? Hello; “She waited another minute or two while repeating and hoping for a response.  She could clearly hear the noise of the platoon size unit.  “OK, well since you seem to have a hard time talking and listening, perhaps you can feel.”  At that time without even a hint of hesitation she pulls the trigger on both barrels and fires off two shells into the black tree line where she heard the noises coming from.  Thank God the Marines were already lying down in the prone position.  Immediately all over the property, flashlights were turned on and whistles blew.  The officer stood up and began yelling, “Don’t shoot, stop shooting!  We are Marines, we lost our directions. . Stop shooting there are about 50 men out here!”  Within a few minutes the entire quite neighborhood was aware of the nearly disastrous encounter the Marines had with Gertrude.  One of the Marines commented, “We should sign her up, she is not afraid to engage friend or enemy!”  The platoon let out an uproar of laughter.

 

 

Chapter 2

 

Upon pulling into the drive way, Howard was immediately awe stuck by the vast array of flowers that were in full bloom in the yard.  The house was relatively small compared to the spacious plot of land it sat on.  A very large oak tree towered over the entire front entrance of the small gravel driveway, which was lined with large white stone blocks that were evenly spaced.  A wagon wheel in original condition was roped to a thorny rose bush in the center of the front lawn. Oddly enough several smaller trees had white washed trunks that were in stark contrast to the dark bark that protected them.

Howard wondered just briefly, if the lady inside was a complete mystery, or was she just like the thousands of other riders, who had come and gone with no hint of the life tale they had to tell.  Over the years Howard had heard it all, and yet nothing at all.  He learned to ignore some of the gibberish people do when they feel uncomfortable riding with a stranger.  If he had enough time, while driving with his passengers he would glance up in the rear view mirror and come up with a one liner to gauge the mood.  One thing for sure Howard did not tolerate was wasted time at the pick up or drop off.  Normally a couple toots of the horn followed by one or two minutes of waiting, then he would call into dispatch and mention a no show and ask for another dispatch.  See that was easy money, because he still got paid half the fare just for showing up.  So it was no big surprise that on several calls one busy afternoon, he had a few customer complaints of him not waiting. Other complaints that day cited Howard driving off when the rider was clearly visible from his rear view mirror, running franticly and waving their arms.

After putting the car in park and looking at his passenger sheet, he thought perhaps a little more personal customer service will assure that this trip to Peaceful Meadows resulted in good pay with a hefty tip.  Walking up the wheel chair ramp to the front door made him soften a bit as to who may be inside.  He rang the door bell and peered through the window and noticed how strangely bare the enclosed front porch was. He thought of his own home and how vastly different the atmosphere was there.  Peace and tranquility was something he longed for, however over the past several years’ life with Luanne seemed to bring non-stop tension.  His drinking increased as a means to suppress the pressure building up inside.  His marriage was no longer an oasis of comfort but rather an endurance of tolerated mental and emotional anguish.  Just where had all of the good times gone from the early years?

Upon hearing the door bell, Gertrude buttoned the remaining top buttons on her blouse and walked into the living room to the front door.  As a safety habit she would peep out the side of the blinds to see who was on the other side of the door.  Even though she was in a very safe neighborhood and no crime had invaded the small community all these years, she used common sense.  Opening the door, Howard was greeted with a warm smile as Gertrude enthusiastically welcomed him to come inside.

“Howdy, maam, my name is Howard Bond and I will be your Topshelf driver today.  May I help you with your bags, please?”

“Howard, come on in and make yourself at home.  I just have to put a few final touches on this place.  Should be about five minutes.  I only have one suit case.  It is very heavy so watch your back.  It is in the room to your right on the bed.”  Gertrude slowly turns and makes her way back to the kitchen.  There she opens a linen closet that is overstuffed with bath towels and wash clothes, and pulls out a bright yellow table cloth and drapes it over the china cabinet.

After giving the bathroom one more last look, she goes into the dining room and stares out the large plate windows.  It was her favorite room for a view of the sunrise, and the many mornings of breakfasts and pleasant conversation with her husband, Broderick seem to her like a warm blanket of security to her soul.  It was there in the dining room that she felt at peace, and it was her space for as long as she needed it.   She especially liked watching how the dew looked on the fresh cut grass, and would open all the windows of the house to let the smell of the outdoors in.  How she hoped the views at Pleasant Meadows would be as nice and serene as this.  Of course she knew she would no longer be in total control of her life anymore and that bothered her a great deal.  Over the years she had become very set in her ways and was increasingly more difficult to please.  And no one could seem to quite do things to her liking, which is why she fought so hard to maintain her solitaire existence in the house.

While stepping into the bedroom to get the suitcase, Howard saw the covered furniture and the rest of the house seemed to have a museum like atmosphere.  The wooden floors loudly echoed his steps as he walked, and the creaking seemed even louder.  The bedroom had another door on the opposite end that led out into the dining room.  Looking out it he could see her standing behind a draped chair staring out the window.  She looked so fragile, and wondered what of her life that had led to this day.  He stood in the doorway and called out, “maam are you OK, and do you need help with anything.”

“Oh! I did not see you standing there.” she was startled.  In a faint and barely audible voice she said, “there is not much more help for me, I’m afraid.”  After a long silence, she continued, “please excuse my manners, my name is Gertrude Washington.”

“It’s OK, maam, Gertrude is a lovely name.  And please you be sure to take all the time you need to get yourself together.  I am going to take the suit case to the car and I will be back to check on you. It is not a problem at all.”  Howard turns and walks over to the bed to find the large tan suitcase overstuffed and bulging at the sides.  He smiles and thinks how in the world did that tiny woman in there ever close it.  And just why women really pack everything to include the kitchen sink, even though they won’t use half of it.

He struggled to pull the suitcase off the bed, and it went to the floor with a thunderous thud.

“Howard, are you OK? Please be careful and don’t hurt yourself, because as you can see I ain’t any good for fixing you.”  Gertrude was keenly aware of her frail condition.  She had often told her visitors that ‘age has a way of slapping you until you respect it.’  And over the past twenty years she had been yielding more and more respect to Father Time.

“Yes, I am just fine, I thought it would be best to put it on the floor and pull it along.  No need to hurt the back to impress anyone.” Howard said. And he was extra careful these days not to get hurt, mostly because he could not afford any time off of work.  After an awkward battle of tug of war with the heavy suitcase, he managed to rest it in the trunk of the car and close it.  Going back inside he stopped and saw blooms that made him realize the elegance of both the home and Gertrude.  And without much thought, he pulls out a small pocket knife and carefully cuts a large bloom and stem.  He thought it would be nice to get Gertrude to divert her mind even if just for a few moments.  The picture was starting to get clearer to Howard that Gertrude would not be coming back or calling this place home ever again.

“Beautiful women should have beautiful things.” he said as he gently came up behind her and placed the rose in front of her face allowing her to smell it.

“Ah! My God, that is so sweet of you; it is just lovely, thank you.”

“You are going to be OK, miss Gertrude.  I’ll make sure of that. Now don’t you worry about a thing.”

Gertrude smiles at him and says, “I don’t have much of a mind to worry with these days.  I am getting more and more forgetful.  Yesterday I forgot and left the tea kettle on the stove and all the water boiled out of it and I did not know it until I went to the bathroom and saw some smoke coming from the stove.  It scared me nearly half to death.”

“Is there anyone who can help you with getting your house affairs in order?”  Howard thought that perhaps, someone should check behind her to make sure all was taking care of.  And for a moment he thought of just how sad aging and being all alone really was.  It made him grateful to have a wife and two teenagers, even though he was certain that as he got closer to his own demise, they would hasten it for him, to collect the insurance money.

Gertrude laughs and proudly states, “I seemed to have outlived all the help.  But I do have a foster son who is suppose to come by when he gets off of work.  My social worker is handling most of this.  They don’t tell me much.  But I hear them whispering a lot.”

“All right, well you just take your time so you don’t forget too much.  Is there anything I can do to help with here, before we go?  I really do not mind.”

“Howard you are so kind, and thoughtful. I guess I shall be leaving in a minute or two.”

A few minutes later Howard gently takes her by the hand and leads her down the wheelchair ramp to the waiting car.  Gertrude clutches her burgundy purse tightly, and sits down.

“Oh, my this a lovely car.  What kind is it?”

“This is a Ford Crown Victoria, especially made for transporting queens like you maam.” Howard gets behind the wheel starts the car and backs out of the drive way.

“I have an old Ford Falcon sitting there in the garage.  My sister gave it to me.  She told me if I learned how to drive and got my license that she would buy me one.  And I been driving every since.”

“Well good for you. Yes these Fords really are some good cars. I would not drive anything else.  Sounds like you have been driving for a very long time.  Do you still have your license?”

“No, ever since I knocked the garage door down they won’t let me drive anymore. And Eugene is scared to death to ride with me.  He says I take these country roads and curves too fast. Shucks! He don’t know I been flying around these curves since before he was even thought of.”

“Well it’s time for you to get chauffeured around anyway, Gertrude.  You been driving all these years, why not let somebody drive you around, so all you have to do is sit back and look pretty.  And I am glad to get the opportunity to drive you over to Peaceful Meadows today.”

“I sure do miss driving, because I could jump in the car when I wanted to and go anytime. There are so many places I would love to see just one more time before going to that old folk’s jail house.”

Howard laughs out loud at her referring to Peaceful Meadows as the ‘old folk’s jail house’.  “Now, Gertrude you are not going to stay locked up in that place.  I bet by this time next week you will be playing a lot of games and doing all kinds of crafts and gossiping with the best of them.”

“You would be wrong.  There is nothing like being in your own home, and being able to come and go as you please.”

“I understand.  Well listen why don’t we get going so you can start your new adventure. Make sure your seat belt is fastened.  Are you comfortable?”

“Yes I am just fine.  How much is this trip going to cost?  It has been so long since I had to take a cab anywhere.”

Howard briefly takes out a county fare chart for non-metered rides.  The ride to Peaceful Meadows would cost more on the meter, but he had some discretion about waiting times and senior citizen discounts.  According to his calculations this fare should be $27.50 to $32.50.  “Well maam, I think $30.00 should cover it, but you do not have to leave me a tip, its ok.  Please do not worry about all of that, just sit back and enjoy the ride and I will have you there before you know it.”

Howard pulls out into the mainstream of traffic and quickly gets up to speed to avoid impeding the flow of other drivers.  He turns the dispatch radio volume down so that the irritating squelch is not heard.  “What kind of music do you like?  This radio here will play just about anything.  I listen to some of the oldies and country, most of the time.”

Gertrude did not answer back, and Howard glanced over at her to find her staring out the window as the scenery outside blurred by.  It was at that moment that he wondered just what she must be feeling and just what this final ride meant to her.  Perhaps she was recounting all the times that she had driven this route herself, when her health and vigor was much more intact.  He did not know what it would be like to have to relinquish so much personal freedom to someone else, and hoped that for him that day would never come.  He had family and even though the thought of them perhaps showing genuine interest in him if he got very ill, was amusing, he still thought it better than to have no family at all. Gertrude was now thoroughly lost in the sights that she would not see for some time.  How she longed to relive the time she and Broderick would take a Sunday afternoon drive through the town just to get out of the house and keep the four walls from caving in on her.  She now missed the drives out in the country where she could stop and smell the honeysuckle and see the many different types of birds that nest along the protected woods of Prince William Forest Park.

“Are you very comfortable?  I can adjust the seat if you need more room?” Howard said.

“I am just fine, Howard, thank you.  Just reliving some better times down this road.”

“Yes, I know what you mean.  I just love this town.  I don’t see myself ever going anywhere else.”

“Oh, yes and to tell you the truth it was even better many years ago when Broderick and I were courting. The stories I could tell you about people and places in this town will take you back to Saturday nights and fast dancing at the Blue Bird, and a lot of double shots to drown out whatever else took place that night.”

The sprawling town had transformed itself several times over.  What began as a rural small farming community had now become a thriving haven for businesses, recreation and entertainment that catered to the ocean resort.  It had still retained its charm, elegance and beauty. It still was a one stop light town, even though there was increased traffic along the Route 1 and Highway 17 corridor that was the main thoroughfare. It was not unusual to see local car or bike enthusiasts rumble down main street on a Friday night, with pretty girls mostly local highschoolers hanging out the windows and begging the attention of anyone who wanted a rolling peep show.

The cops knew most if not all of the older generation of residents by name and several generations of families had graced the ranks of both the fire department and the police force.  It was also because of the very close knit community that some of the real ugly things that happened over the years became cherished secrets among the town folks only.

Somehow after all these years the town had managed not to be infested with the gang crime and drug culture of neighboring towns of Jacksonville, or Kinston.  The city mayors of both Jacksonville and Kinston had meetings in Wilmington to convene a panel as to why Wilmington was drug free when their towns had grown to epidemic status over the years.  Yet Wilmington was one of the few places where southern hospitality was an attraction.

Howard on his days off would sometimes venture into town and search out new sites to see. He had become somewhat of a tour guide for the out of town passengers who always asked about the town, and what interesting things there were to do.  “The whole town is interesting, and everyone you meet here is a legend.” He would often tell his riders.  He loved watching their response.

The town had its fair share of ghost stories, and other dark rumors that was never mentioned at the dinner table with guests.  Such as the 1963 killing of two children that the town sheriff deemed a sacrificial ritual.

Howard was amazed that Gertrude, a woman of 92, had most of her mental faculties.  She seemed sharp witted, and very much in tune with what was going on around her.  So he found it to be a bit puzzling that she should have to give up all of her independence.  He wondered if she would stay mentally healthy at Peaceful Meadows, as most regarded it as the last stop.

“Well Gertrude, how do you think you are going to entertain yourself over there at Peaceful Meadows?  With all of that time on your hands now, what do you think you will be doing? I mean you not going to be able to pick up a broom or mop; they do all of that for you over there.”

“Yes I know they do all of that, and believe me I won’t miss mopping or dusting, or cleaning windows.  But I suppose I will have plenty to do.  I am sure there is plenty of knitting and sewing to be done.  I bet there will be enough kids coming around from time to time, making noise and disturbing my rest.  I am mostly a loner so; I will love quiet time, and a lovely view outside.”

“You seem like you want to be outside and working a garden or tending to some flowers.  Maybe they will let you work on some crafts to brighten up the place a bit.”

Gertrude smiled at the thought of her making the place a little bit more like home than an institution.  “I bet if they leave the decorating to me, they will have to change the name!”  They both laughed out loud.  And just as quick as the smile came it disappeared as she said, “They won’t have much need for me.  I will just relive all of my memories until my appointment comes.”

“Appointment! What do you mean by appointment?” Howard was a bit puzzled, but he had a hunch of what she meant.

“Now Gertrude you sound like a woman who ain’t planning on staying there long.  Where you. . . Come on now you are going to be around a long time, you talking about reliving memories. . You can make new memories while you are there.”

“Yes Howard, but they will never match up to the ones that I have already lived.  This town is not big enough to contain them all.  I think that is why I have such a special fondness for this place.  My best days were here.  My best love, my best joy, right here.

Howard was reflecting over her thoughts and then said, “I bet you do have a lot of memories from this town.  Tell me about them.  What made it all so special to you?”

“Oh, I would not know where to begin; as a matter of fact it is hard to tell you.  It’s the kind of thing I have to show you.  I would have to show you places like my early childhood home, and some of the places we used to go and all the things that made me fall in love with this town and the people in it.  And especially what brought Broderick to my life.”

“OK, I think I understand just what you mean.  There are a lot of memories in this town here for you.”

While turning onto Route 1 south Howard wondered just how many times Gertrude must have traveled down this road going around the same curves.  The road led outside of the town and winded its way toward the county line.  It was the county’s latest completed construction project and had widened the lanes and installed guard railing.  About three miles down the road was a small parking and rest area.  Upon seeing it cresting the hill Howard pulled over and parked near the tree line.

“Gertrude, I have to make a very important phone call.  I will be outside for just a couple of minutes.  I did not want to talk and drive at the same time because that is very dangerous and it is rude to talk with passengers in the car, I hope you don’t mind.”

“No, not at all go right ahead I will be just fine.”

“Thank you I certainly appreciate you being understanding.  Let me turn on some oldies hear for you.  If it’s too loud you can turn it down with this button hear.”  Howard turned on the radio to drown out his conversation that could be heard in the quiet rest area that had the makings of a scenic park.

Howards closes the door and walks around to the back of the car and pulls out his cell phone and dials into the Topshelf Cab office.

“Topshelf Cab, Randy speaking, how can we serve you today?”

“Randy, this is Howard.  Listen everything is OK, the reason I am calling is inform you that I got this fare to Peaceful Meadows.  She is a real nice lady and I would love to take her around the town and let her see some of her past memories just one more time before taking her to the Peaceful Meadows.  I was wondering if it would be alright if I pay for the fare and a little extra from my pay on Friday.  I will be a few hours taking her to different places in town.  Randy she really needs this, and I want to do it for her, because she is going to be sitting over there with no one to see her and all she has left memories.”

“Well that is very kind of you Howard, and I certainly do not have a problem with that if that is what she wants to do.  Just close yourself out and I will see you tomorrow afternoon.”

“Thank you Randy and I will stop by the Sunoco and fill up what I use.  I just did not want her to worry about having to pay for this ride and she needs this more than you can imagine.  I talk to you later. Goodbye.”

Randy hung up the phone knowing that Howard’s reputation as one of the most friendliest and kind hearted drivers was well deserved and it was random acts of kindness like this that always made him stand out from the crowd, in spite of his rough ways at times.  He was glad to have Howard working for Topshelf, and giving it the kind of image that was so needed in the hospitality industry.

Upon getting back into the driver’s seat, Howard turned the radio down really low and leaned over toward Gertrude.  “I been thinking about what you said about how much this town means to you, and I have decided to take you anywhere you want to go to relive and recall those moments.  So you do not have to worry about this cab fare. I just got off the phone with the boss and we have decided to treat you to a ride around town because you deserve it and your whole fare is taken care of already.  All you have to do is sit back and ride, and tell me all the places you want to see.  We got the rest of the afternoon.  Is that OK with you?” Howard then realized that this was also therapeutic for him as well.  It was the welcomed escape he needed before going home.  And then he added, “You see it’s like this, I want you to see as much of everything in this town as you possible can before you go over there to Peaceful Meadows.  That is why I am doing this.”

Gertrude could not believe what she was hearing.  “Oh thank you so much Howard.  You really do not know just how much this means to me. I certainly do appreciate it.”

A few minutes later they were speeding through the back country heading out on Route 5 heading toward her childhood home.  As the many crop fields and plantations whisked by her window, Gertrude was reflecting back on the time when dusty roads and horse drawn buggies loaded with hay was so prevalent.  A large green farm house on the left came into view as they rounded the curve. It showed signs of aging, and was obvious it had been abandoned decades ago.

Howard was curious, “What did they do with this place after your folks died?”

“Not much, a couple of land developers were supposed to buy the place, but they decided not to at the last moment.  One of my brothers kept the place up and paid the taxes on it until he got sick.  Broderick and I put the place up for sale a couple of times, but it seems like nobody was interested and times were hard.  Nobody was worried about buying a house if you can’t feed your children.”

She could remember better times here, when the sounds of her brothers splashing in the stream out back would always get a quick response from her mom.  It seemed like every day those brothers would come into the house muddy and wet from head to toe.  Floyd did not mine much, as he knew boys would be boys and often told Beatrice to let the boys alone and have some fun.  Floyd was so very proud of his boys, and that was all he ever wanted was a house full of them.  Beatrice thought he would be highly disappointed when she told him that the next ‘muffin in the oven’ was a girl.  Back in those days it was rare to know the sex of the child before birth, but somehow she knew.  And right on time, Gertrude arrived on a Wednesday morning, all six pounds, four ounces of her.  She must have known she was born into a world of trouble and hard times, because she cried almost non-stop for a week. Gertrude came in this world as a bundle of joy for Floyd and Beatrice even though Floyd was mildly disappointed that it was not yet another son.  Times were really hard for everyone and all the extra hands of males meant more security and strength to the family.  Families had to rely more and more on each other for survival as jobs became more and more scarce.  It was during this time that Floyd and Beatrice were having some doubts about having another child, because even though an extra hand would be helpful, it also meant a depleting of food and resources for years before the child would grow to the point of being productive to the family.

Howard parked the car came around to the passenger side and helped Gertrude out.  She straightened up and smiled as she looked about the place.  It was obvious that she felt right at home here.  As Gertrude looked up at the rusty tin roof, it was quite hard to imagine some 92 years ago that this place was abuzz with activity from the local neighbors, as Floyd and Beatrice welcomed Gertrude into the world.  It was a time when families had to rely on each other for survival as jobs became more and more scarce.

Gertrude realized that even at an early age her home life seemed a bit different.  Yes she was normal in the sense that there were chores to do, but for her the tasks were overwhelming and seemed to go beyond what a normal child should have to endure.  It was an endless cycle of chores and more chores while her brothers were relegated to all of the outdoor duties.  And there was never any doubt that her mother gave the boys a lot of slack.  While mom leaned heavily on her to assist with the never ending task of housekeeping.  Gertrude learned to resent that over the years and longed to be outside taking on the role as a tomboy with her brothers.  And every chance she got she could be found outside, milking a cow, holding onto a plow, or trying to ride a horse.  Her brothers were very protective of her and would not allow anyone else to hurt her, but more importantly they would not allow her to hurt herself with her over ambitious zeal to be a tomboy.  Life became very fast paced at the house while there was always something to do.

Her mom emphasized the important need for education, and made sure that her chore routine did not interfere with her daily studies.  Gertrude had heard and seen some things in her home that shaped her values about life, men and how she would relate to people in the future.

It was no secret that Floyd has a temper, and that his overbearing attitude caused Beatrice many years of hardship and grief.  He was a very hard man and quite abusive.  The times that Gertrude had seen him hit her mom, stayed etched in her mind, and she vowed that it would never happen to her.  She resented her mom for being so passive and taking all of the abuse that Floyd gave her.  The mindset of people back then was, if you make your bed hard then you lay in it.  Meaning that Beatrice had married Floyd so now she was stuck with whatever he handed out.  Gertrude was bound to take another path.

Howard took Gertrude by the hand and led her closer to the house so she could get a good look at it.

“It was always something going on around here Howard.  My mom really made the place special; she really made it seem like home.  Most anytime you could find her out here in the front yard planting flowers, raising a garden, or in the kitchen cooking and baking.  She worked so hard to keep clothes on all of us and keep us fed.  She never worked a day outside of the home.  She always worked right here, and of course jobs were not really to be found.  So she did all that she could around here to keep Floyd up.”

“Gertrude, how long did you live here and when did you leave home?”

“Oh, I left here when I was about 15 or 16; I was a real young girl when I left home.  Mom had gotten really sick and a couple of neighbors came over to help take care of her, because Floyd he was always on the go, and he really was not much of a husband to be quite honest with you.  So the neighbors down the road took me in and raised me for a while, because mom was too sick to do so.  And my brothers they were just about old enough to take care of themselves and they needed to help daddy around the house so they hung on for a while longer.  I stayed until I graduated from school with the neighbors, and I can’t even remember their names now and they have been dead for a long time.  After school I went to Washington DC, because I heard there were some jobs there.  I never did come back because daddy did not treat momma right and I had a hard time dealing with that.  In some ways I think he put her in an early grave.”

“Oh” Howard cuts in. “I am so sorry to hear about that.  Seems like to me he would have cherished your mom.”

“He was a hard man and very stubborn, and I swore up and down that no man was ever going to treat me like that.  And that I would never get a man like him to marry, or rule me and dominate me the way he did mom.  It was just awful the way he treated her, and what she tolerate from him.  After seeing all of that, it kind of made me mean spirited.  Now do not get me wrong, yes he provided for us and took care of us as far as that is concerned, but he just did not treat the family right.  Momma did not know what was going on with his money.  She could hardly say anything in his presence.  He was just awful.  He treated her like a child.”

“What happened to your brothers?”

“Oh, yes well Aaron he went to the Army, and he was in the war you know.  I think it was World War 1; yes he did very well for himself.  Got married.  And my other brother Dave was kind of sick also from time to time.  I forgot what he had, he did not venture off to far because he got sick so often that he could barely keep a job.  They both took it pretty hard when mom died.  Aaron started drinking very heavy, but he did not become an alcoholic.  But his marriage went downhill.  And Dave he just kind of went inside of himself and got very depressed, and we never could get him back in his right mind.  He never quite got over her death.  And dad, I tell you, it was not long after mom dad he was dating someone else.  And I tell you we were all upset about that.  It made me fighting mad and I did not ever want to see him again after that.  That was why I stayed gone and did not come back after mom died because I just did not think that he had done right by her.  So when I had the chance to go to Washington that was my escape from all the ugliness of home at the time.  I went up there, the big city, and I had never been to a big city before.  Man I tell you it was so much to do.  I met some people and girlfriends and we had a blast.  I got a small apartment and shared it with two other girls, and I went to work. Got a job making sandwiches over next to the White House.  There was a sandwich shop on Pennsylvania Avenue and I worked there for several years.”

“Mrs. Gertrude”, Howard cut in.  “Speaking of sandwich, I am getting a bit hungry myself.  Why don’t you and I get something to eat?  I know a little place just up the road here.  A great little place, very clean and that serve excellent food.”

The little coffee shop located on Route 1 was one of Howard’s favorite spots to get a good cup of Joe.  It was also the preferred place to catch up on all of the town gossip.  More than once he was surprised by the stories that the waitresses would conjure up about the locals on the town.  Howard often wondered just how many times his name was on the lips of the very waitresses he had often given tips to.

“Hey Gertrude do you mind if I stop over here at this coffee shop and get me a bite to eat.  I sure am hungry, and I have not had anything all day, and I want to make sure my blood sugar stays regulated.  I would be happy to get you anything that you like also. It would be on me.  It would be my honor and my treat.”

“Oh that is so sweet of you Howard that would be just wonderful.  My stomach does seem to be saying something.  I stirred around in the house this morning and got things together but I did not seem to get myself fed.”

The traffic was unusually light for this time of day, so Howard eased the Crown Victoria to the right hand lane and quickly whipped into the parking lot of the “Bluebird Restaurant.”  After getting out he went to the passenger door and assisted Gertrude out of the car and onto her feet.  “Now you just take your time, don’t rush yourself.  Your pocketbook will be safe if you want to leave it here in the car, or if you want to bring it in with you, that is fine also.”

“Thank you Howard.  You sure are sweet.”

“Yes, I have been coming here for years.  It is a really nice place.  They will fix you up just about anything you want, and they serve it up pretty quick.

Howard watched her as she slowly made her way to the front door.  He thought of his own demise and the thought that he was not getting any younger.  He wondered what life must be like for an aging person like Gertrude.  Even though he was in relatively good health, he knew that bad health like, cancer or something worse could find him at any moment.  It was because of the mercy of God that he was able to be sustained well all these years.  However it did not always ease his fears of succumbing to a debilitating illness.  He had enough stress in his life to give him a heart attack a long time ago.  But somehow he got by with just slightly elevated blood pressure and he was taking medicine to keep it under control.  When he was diagnosed with high blood pressure he was taken by surprise and was quite reluctant to think he would have to take lifetime medication.  But in looking at the alternative he thought it best to obey doctor’s orders.  After all he had been reading the obituary more frequent now days and always searched the pages for those people who had died in his age group.  Although his diet changed often, for the most part he ate relatively healthy.  Fruit cereals and bread was pretty much his main stay.  Although on occasions he would splurge on calories that a single trip to the gym could not overcome.  He never let the guilt consume him when he went into the local grocery store and got a whole sweet potato pie, usually consuming it in a day if not hours.

As they stepped into the café, Gertrude took notice of the elegant setting, but dim lighting.  “My goodness do they want people to trip and break their neck, I can hardly see a thing.  Help me here Howard.”

“Yes maam, that is because you just came in from the bright sunshine.  It will take a few seconds for your eyes to adjust to the dimmer lighting.  You are going to be OK, just hang onto my arm.  We will take that booth over here where you will be a lot more comfortable than the stools at the counter.”

After sitting down, shortly a waitress emerged.  “Hi, my name is Beatrice; I will be your waitress for the day.  Can I get you two anything to drink?”

“I’ll have some water and Gertrude whatever you like just order it and I will take care of everything.  Don’t you worry about paying for a thing.”

“OK, I will have a large glass of sweetened ice tea with a lemon.”

Beatrice quickly noted the order and left the menus and hurried off to the back kitchen.

Howard decided to take this opportunity to learn a bit more about the woman who had years of experiences and memories that he could draw some wisdom from.  He liked talking to the elderly as they displayed wisdom warmth and much wit that was lacking in the world.  Especially his.

“Gertrude, now that we got a little time to ourselves, tell me about yourself and tell me about your kids and family.  Do you have any children of your own?”

“No, Howard I did raise a few foster kids, but never had any of my own.  I did manage to get pregnant once, but that did not work out well. I had a bunch of foster kids over the years.  As a matter of fact the last foster child I had, Eric, he stuck with me the longest.  And he has moved on now.”

“Oh well that is wonderful.  You have a very loving heart.  Does Eric come around to see you?”

“Oh, yes he comes by and sees me from time to time.  He is in the Marine Corps and . .”  Gertrude looked puzzled as she was trying to recall the details of her past accurately.  She never did really want to admit that the early stages of dementia and alhemizers were upon her.  It was clear to everybody else but her, which is what prompted the county department of aging to do an assessment evaluation on her.

She continued. “No I think he got out of the Marine Corps, and is now down in South Carolina I believe working as an investigator or law enforcement or something like that.  He told me what it was but I can’t remember.  He turned out to be quite a remarkable young man.  We have had our strained relationship over the years.  I love him, and I tried to do the best that I could for him.  He, umm, he umm has been hurt over the years.”

“Well Gertrude you know life has a strange way of bringing out the best and the worst in all of us.  But don’t you worry any, as I am sure that Eric loves you, and he will turn out to be a fine young man that you can be proud of.”

“Yes I am very proud of him.  He just does not know . . . I know how he feels, he just does not know that I am sorry for all the things that caused him pain and grief.”

She played with the fork turning it over and over in her hands just as the thoughts were going over in her mind as well.  “Many years ago, he had a girlfriend.  She was white, and I just had a hard time accepting her because of the way I had been treated all my life by white folks.  She had children, and I just thought he could do better for himself.  And I said some things that really hurt him and he acted kind of harshly as a result of it.  I think his life spiraled out of control for many years after that.  And I do not think he has quite forgiven me.”

Howard looked at her with reflection, and thought that she was coming to terms and grip now that she was in her older years of all the things that she may have done that she was not too proud of.  “Well don’t you worry none Gertrude.  I am sure he will be OK; yep he will be just fine.  Take a look at that menu there and order anything you like, it is own me.”

Thirty minutes later they were making their way down the busy street, heading toward the old school where Gertrude had gotten her early education.

“My, my I tell you the kids now days got good schools and everything.  When I was growing up, we only had a one room school house.  And we did all of our reading, math and writing in that classroom.

Howard cut in, “Yes but I tell you what, they may be getting all that reading writing and math in better schools and all of that stuff, but I do not know if they are any smarter than we were when were growing up.”  They both laughed out loud.

“Yes, school was a whole lot different back then.  The thing that really sticks out in my mind the most is the fact that we were not treated like everybody else.  We had our own special school house, but they would not let us go out and play with everybody else.  There was a white school across the way, and we could not be out and play with the other kids when the white folks were out.  That upset me terrible.  All the time I could not understand why they were so special.  But anyway I graduated and got pretty good grades.  I went on and tried to become something for myself.  Back then however, you really did not know what you were going to do or be after you got out of school, because we were kind of expected to get married and raise kids.”

Over the years Gertrude’s financial status had grown by leaps and bounds, all due to the unrelenting work ethics of her husband.  She often bragged that the lifestyle that she was accustomed to living these days was the direct result of his hard effort.  She realized she had made a wonderful choice by marrying, and that long gone would be her days of struggles, or wondering where her next meal would be.  Gone were her days of walking for blocks on in without knowing where she would lay her head when the sun went down.  For a lady of tremendous wealth, you would have thought that she did not have a penny to her name.  For it was one more than one occasion when she would send someone to the store on her behalf, with a grocery list exceeding 75 to 100 dollars, and yet shell out only a twenty dollar bill to accommodate the list.  One of the major frustrations with her foster son was that he often seemed to have to pick up the slack financially for her, knowing that she had more than enough money to take care of herself.  She often balked at the thought of giving a tip to waitresses, and lamented in anguish at the seemingly high prices at the grocery store.  Even now as they sat at the table with a meal that she did not have to pay for, she commented on several occasions on the high cost of the food.

 

CHAPTER 3

Same Storm, Different Vessels

Here are my 0537 am thoughts.

Wisdom is the ability to distinguish the things that must remain unchanged in our lives, from those changes that we must accept and embrace.

Please be empathetic of how this storm of pandemic, and political upheaval, social injustice effects other people.  

I recently heard someone say that we’re all in the same boat as we go through the storm. I tend to disagree. 

We are not all in the same boat.  Some people are going through this storm in a ship that’s large as an ocean luxury liner or a yacht .  

There troubles are that the kitchen ran out of Fritos and now they have to snack on Doritos for the remainder of the storm. Or now because of the constant wind and rain have to hunker down inside and find new ways of entertainment instead of playing shuffle board on the deck.  

Another family is in medium size fishing vessel.  Their problems are that both fishermen, mom and dad who had been providing for the family of three small children are both critically sick, and need urgent medical treatment. They are miles from any land or civilization, soon will be incapacitated and not be able to sustain the boat.

Somebody else is in the exact same storm in a kayak.  They are rowing and struggling minute by minute to keep from capsizing. They are constantly exposed to the relentless elements of the storm. No dry clothes for weeks of rowing in the rain. 

They would be grateful for a day that did not include rowing against the monstrous waves. But if they don’t row, death is swift and certain.

They don’t have Frito or Dorito problems, they have “How will I feed my family TODAY, problems. There family ate their last meal 36 hours ago.  The last paycheck came home six months ago, and all of their savings and the last unemployment checks was cashed two weeks ago. 

They are in the same storm as the billionaire on his yatch, and the fishermen in his fishing vessel, but they are in a different boat.

Just a thought to ponder when you see your neighbor, friend, coworkers or even a stranger.  Same storm, different vessels. Big difference!

A Love Like No Other

“Husbands love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her.” Ephesians 5:25 NKJV

 Love is a word that is so easily tossed around in today’s culture.  We give it multiple meaning from pure agape love to sinful lust and debase actions.  It’s no wonder that so many households do not have a guiding example of role models to showcase the most intimate of all relationships.   Unlike our primary or secondary education, there is no course on loving another person, no university with a degree that certifies you or your prospective partner that either of you are experts on all things pertaining to love.

Yet, love is the cornerstone of character traits for the follower of Christ and even more so to those who are married to their partner and called to demonstrate love as Christ has loved us.

A lot of people do not understand that marriage has eternal implications and while though people participate in it on a personal level, it has much greater and far-reaching impact on the world.

Marriage is an earthly reflection of the permanent relationship and covenant that Christ has to his church.  Marriage has global impact as it is the living example of Christ and his redemptive work in action.

The Christian faith and walk is centered around love, and it is demonstrated for us in the person of Jesus Christ.  God is so intimately involved in our love life to each other that he has modeled the relationship to his church as a marriage, with us as believers in the role of the bride, identified as the church, and Jesus Christ as the husband or groom.

This was a deliberate act and choosing by God the father to showcase the drama of eternity with the union of the bride to the groom.  It was designed to show the one-of-a-kind love that God has towards us in his son Jesus Christ, and how that union is to function here on earth.

As you look closely into the life of Christ and his mission here on earth you will soon discover that the greatest union and marriage ever recorded in history includes all the believers.  The bible illustrates in astonishing detail the expected behavior between the two parties that are to be involved in the wedding.  The symbolism seems to overshadow the drama; however, the symbolism is the key to fully understanding the distinct roles of the marriage partners and how they are to conduct themselves in love to one another.

At this very moment Jesus Christ has already done some remarkable things on behalf of his bride.

The Mystery of Marriage

 “For this reason, a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”  This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the Church. Ephesians 5: 31-32 NKJV

 In our society traditional marriage is becoming less significant and in the minds of some marriage is an old outdated, meaningless ritual that enslaves those that subject themselves to its principles.

However, God designed marriage to be the institution for personal joy and fulfillment and the training ground for our daily spiritual lives.  Furthermore, marriage on the earth is but a shadow of marriage in the heavenly realm.

We are dealing with a copy of the original. So much so that all the events since Christ’s resurrection leading up to the rapture of the believers (the church) has all of the elements of a Galilean wedding. The elements of that wedding Jesus described to his disciples in astonishing detail at the last supper.

There is a movie documentary, (Before The Wrath) that I would highly recommend. It illustrates this fascinating correlation between the return of Jesus and the wedding he refers to during the last supper.

The oneness that God speaks of in the marriage not only pertains to the body, but also the mind and spirit. It is a metaphor of greater meaning than just a man and woman coming together.

Marriage is meant to be a living drama of how Christ and the church relate to each other.  The bible gives us practical examples of the correlation between a husband and wife and Christ and the church.

Christ has an unending and unconditional love for the church, and he has given us instructions on how we are to love one another in the marriage union as he loves his church.

“So, husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones.”  Ephesians 5:28-30 NKJV

 It should give women great comfort to know that their husbands are accountable to God for how they love them and treat them. There is also awesome responsibility placed on the man in treating and loving his wife as Christ does the church.  The bible is very clear that it is a command and not a suggestion for husbands to love their wives as Christ loves the church.

Husbands would be well warned that your marriage is not all about you.  It is about your representation and your relationship to Jesus Christ as the model of his relationship to the church.

Roles, Relationships, and Outcomes

 In the model for marriage that the Bible talks about, it is clear that what the husband does for and to his wife he does to himself.  Oneness cannot be escaped by any action on the part of the husband or wife.  We are one body in Christ, and we are joined to him.  We rely on him to nourish, cherish, and love us unconditionally.

God has modeled the marriage role in the exact same manner as the relationship between Christ and the church.  The roles of husband and wife are rooted in the distinctive roles of Christ and his church.  God is illustrating (by marriage) the role of his Son and his church by the way husbands and wives relate to each other.

It is important to know the specific roles that the husband and wife have in the marriage relationship and why God designed it that way.  Our human tendency is to be self-sufficient and independent of other people and this sometimes carries over into our personal relationships such as marriage.

It is also understood that the God given role that husbands, and wives are to play out does not always match up with the attitude of the heart.

There are countless women who rightly so can attest to the fact that their husbands are far from being Christlike in the home.  Likewise, the men can most certainly point out with pinpoint accuracy that they do not have a submissive, obedient wife who respects them.

To begin to understand the different roles in the Christian marriage we must first accept that the roles have meaning and purpose as it relates to Christ and his church.  The husband is in the role of servant leadership just as Christ was to his disciples and is currently to his church.

The wife is in the role of obedience and submission as we the church are in obedience and submission to Jesus Christ.  Now I know that the modern-day feminist would take issue with a woman in a submissive role, however God has distinguished it from the perversion that plays out in so many homes today.

As the church we are in obedience and submission to Jesus Christ because he loves us unconditionally and he sacrificed himself for us.  Our submission and obedience is our reverence to him for what he has done on our behalf.

Furthermore, we know we can trust his guidance, and faithfulness to us.  We absolutely know that he has our best interest in mind.  He has demonstrated with sacrificial love that we are the center of his world.

Submission is the divine calling of a wife to honor and affirm her husband’s leadership and help carry it through according to her gifts.

It has been said if you really want to know the character of a man, see what he does with power and authority!  That concept is clearly on display regarding the role that husbands have been given.

While it may sound very inviting to the men to have a measure of authority in a marriage, it would serve you well to understand exactly who you are representing in the role of husband.  You are representing no less than Jesus Christ himself and tasked with cultivating the traits our Lord has toward his church.

It is not a domineering, or power-driven role. Headship is not a right to command and control.  It is a responsibility to love like Christ. In fact, it is a role that gets is power and authority through serving others and especially your wife.

Headship is the divine calling of a husband to take primary responsibility for Christlike servant leadership, protection, and provision in the home. A sacrificial love is the hall mark of the husband to his wife.  The love that a husband has for his wife is supposed to display to the world the love that Christ has for his people.

The obedience and submission the wife has to her husband is on display to the world of our obedience and submission to the headship of Jesus Christ.  So, as you can see our earthly marriages are not about us, but about those who will see the relationship that Christ has for his people.

For those who are married, your marriage is a ministry, not just to each other but also to the world around you.

We Are The Image Of A Bigger Picture

“Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness;”

“So, God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” Genesis 1:26,27 NKJV

 From the beginning God had a complete picture of what he wanted us to look like.  He specifically wanted us to be a direct reflection of who He is.  He also wanted us to partake of the permanent union that he has in himself with the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Furthermore, from the very beginning he had in mind a permanent union with all those who would become the bride for his son.  I am speaking of the church.  Marriage originated with God, by way of Jesus Christ as an earthly example of what He had in mind to redeem his people unto himself.

As Christians our goal and mission in life is to become like Christ.  We are to think like him, and act like him and love like him.  He wants us to become one with him. Our earthly marriage is the metaphor by which we realize that oneness with our spouse.  We act out the behavior that should inspire us to be more like Christ.

The unique roles in marriage that the husband and wife have highlight what Christ is accomplishing with the church.  The entire relationship between a man and a woman from courtship to marriage is duplicated in Christ.

Let’s take a deeper look at the various stages and see the comparison of Jesus Christ as he takes us on a loving journey that will end at the marriage supper and the wedding of the lamb as mentioned in the book of Revelation.

The Courtship And The Pursuit

 “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 NKJV

 Jesus Christ has had his eye on me and you and has been wanting to pursue us for an intimate relationship with him since before the beginning of the world.  In our earthly relationship, usually the man has his eye on the prize of the woman he wants to pursue.  The woman most likely does not know that the man seeks her until they make a connection.

We were dead in our sins not realizing that Jesus Christ was seeking us for a relationship with him.  With tenderness and gentleness, he made known his desire for us, just as a man would make known his interest in the woman.

Jesus wanted no less than for us to be in an exclusive relationship with him.  He had covenant in mind long before your husband proposed to you. God ordained a permanent union between his Son and the church.  He wanted his Son and the church to become one body, and so our earthly marriage is the reflection of that, with the man and woman becoming one flesh.

Jesus pursued us just as we were.  We were not pure. we were stained with sin and shame and yet he washed us and took away our sin and shame and smiled upon us. Slowly we began to see his unwavering love and care for us, and we were drawn to it.

The Proposal

 “For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy.  For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a pure virgin to Christ.” 2Corinthians 11:2 NKJV

 As in all proposals, the woman has absolute authority to accept or reject the man.  So, it was with us as members of the church.  God offers total and complete forgiveness and asks of us to willingly accept his plan of salvation and begin a permanent relationship and union with him.

When we accept His proposal, all of heaven rejoices and most certainly the bridegroom and the father. We are one step closer to oneness with him.  If we reject, Jesus is heartbroken just as any man would be if his proposal was rejected.

The Marriage, The Ministry

 “I will betroth you to Me forever; Yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and justice, in lovingkindness and mercy; I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness, and you shall know the Lord.” Hosea 2: 19,20

 Make no mistake about it, a marriage relationship is hard work. It is a complete miracle that two selfish sinners can be slapped together under the same roof, for years without killing each other!

Yet, it is within the confines of marriage that God does his best refining work on both the husband and the wife. They not only become one in flesh, but also become one in spirit and mind, that has been purified by God’s word.

The marriage takes on a whole new meaning in our service to each other and our service to God.  The distinct roles are on display every day in the marriage.  Is the husband demonstrating servant leadership that the wife can confidently submit to?

Is the wife using her God give talents and wisdom to be a helper to her husband? Long after the rice has been tossed, the real work of marriage plays out in every detail.  From communication on how to run the household and pay the bills, to the agreement on how to raise children.

It’s in our day to day married lives that personal spiritual growth takes place.  We soon realize after the honeymoon is over that servant leadership demands that the husband become a lot more Christ like to instill confidence in his wife, and to lesson her burdens and worry.

Likewise, the woman sees her value and knows she is cherished above all others which frees her up to fulfill her role.

Conclusion

Earthly marriages are ordained by God to demonstrate an eternal bond between Christ and his church.  It is an awesome responsibility and privilege to showcase to the world of unbelievers how God has pursued us with an unending love, while we were yet sinners.  Our mission is to model the permanent union God wants with his people.

Biography:

Eugene Coghill is a contributing writer at Faith Filled Family Magazine, and the creator of Kingdom Living, www.eugenecoghill.com a Christian based inspirational blog. His achievements have included two published novels, Love Is A Fishnet (2008) and A Loving Deception (2020). He is in pursuit of a freelance copywriting career with American Writers and Artists, Inc. and is a member of the Professional Writers Alliance.

Some past careers have included the United States Marine Corps, law enforcement, corporate investigator, and is currently a professional driver (tractor trailer) for Walmart. Inspirational speaking, especially to troubled youths has become his growing passion to share his own story of overcoming a very abusive and challenging childhood.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finding Your Strength In Surrendering To God

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10 NKJV

When the topic of full surrender to God comes to mind do you feel a tightness in your stomach or a feeling of liberation and freedom?  Does it invoke feelings of loss of personal control and decisions over one’s life, or a release to put someone else more qualified in the driver’s seat of your life?

Ironically you may be surprised at how many acts of surrender you do daily, and you are glad to do so. Imagine your morning commute to work as you share the road with other cars and people who are busy rushing along to work as well.  The car in front of you suddenly comes to a complete stop.  In that moment you have some decisions to make.

You can completely surrender your desire and will to keep moving along unhindered and apply brakes and come to a complete stop. Or not surrender your desire and continue moving forward until you experience a rear end collision.  The choice is clearly yours, with the outcome solely determined by your willingness to surrender your desires.

Understandably our culture emphasizes independence and self-reliance and does not look favorably on the surrendering of our will to another. The world tells us to map out our future, plan, and grind it out to make it happen. It is not easy to give control away, but that is exactly what God asks us to do. He does not force or make demands.

He wants us to trust Him and surrender to His will and way of thinking. If we agree, God will equip us, lead us, and multiply our efforts. He promises that He will give us abundant life. For some, the problem is, we think that we have an abundant life now, while still holding on to our will and desires. We would rather hold tightly to what we have than to trust the unknown. The bottom line is, we must be willing to be obedient even when we feel reluctant. Most certainly it is easier said than done.

Understanding Ownership Is The Beginning Of Surrender

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” 1 Corinthians 6:20. NKJV

 To gain a full understanding of surrender we need to know who we are surrendering to, why we are surrendering and what does it look like.

It may come as a surprise to you that you do not have complete ownership of yourself as a person. Even the good works that you do are in fact his works that he has assigned to you. Regardless of if you are a Christian or not you belong to God by virtue that he created you.

I think the very idea that someone else has complete ownership of us can be unnerving.  God literally owns you and I, and as such he has the right to ask of us to be fully surrendered to him.  Problems arise when our definition of surrender are different than his.

When I first started reading the Bible as a teenager, I admit I was very uncomfortable with the term ‘slave’ that appeared countless times as I read from cover to cover.  That uncomfortable feeling was probably because of the negative history of slavery and the association of ownership by another flawed human being.  I could not understand why God would use this slave and owner analogy to emphasize and teach lessons about surrender.

It took me a long time to give God the benefit of the doubt that he must have a meaning and intention that was vastly different from my perception.  Fortunately, it was easy for me to believe that God was a much better slave owner than my human counterparts.

What Does Full Surrender To God Look Like?

“Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not My will, but Yours, be done.” Luke 22:42 NKJV

 Most of us would probably say that we are surrendered to some degree in our lives.  Of course, it is easy to surrender those areas of our lives that are not to challenging or costly to us personally.

For some surrender is a matter of giving up an undesirable habit, sin, relationship, or vice. But what about the giving up of something that demands a cost, that you and I are not so willing to pay?

Surrender in the sense of what God desires from us is not easy.  It involves giving up our rights, our attitudes, our will, and our desires.  The most profound example of this type of surrender is demonstrated by Jesus Christ in the last twelve hours of his life on earth.

Imagine the scene, where you as the beloved Son of God, who has never experienced death can tap all the powers of heaven at your command.  You can summons legions of angels to fight on your behalf so that no human on earth can exert their will over you and arrest you or make you do anything you do not want to do.

The onslaught of thoughts come to mind that says, ‘I can get out of this final part of my mission, because after all God my father can do the impossible and figure out a way to save humanity without me dying an unimaginable death on a Roman cross.’

Jesus was faced with the inner turmoil of wanting to do his will, and having his reasonable desires met.  It is more than reasonable for him to not want to die, and to escape this final act on earth.  No doubt this was the moment when all of Heaven to include Satan looked upon him in wonder of what his next move would be.  How would he respond to the greatest test of his will against the desires of God the father?

I have read his response plenty of times and have never quite let the impact of his statement resonate for the profound meaning it really is.  I mean how do you get to the point where you can with full confidence and certainty surrender any hint of your will for the complete and total will of God regardless of the cost, even your life?

Let us look again at his moment of total and complete surrender!  Make no mistake about it, Jesus Christ in his humanity did not want to die.  His humanity wanted to know if there was a way, a loophole that God could use to accomplish the mission without his going to the cross.

Yet he willfully chose to abandon his desire to live for the complete desire and will of God, who wanted him to go the distance, finish the mission and take a cross up the hill outside of Jerusalem, to be crucified.

“Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not My will, but Yours, be done.” Luke 22:42 NKJV

There is no doubt that a lifestyle of surrender for Jesus began long before that pivotal moment in the Garden of Gethsemane. As a matter of fact, he volunteered to surrender to the mission God had for him long before you and I arrived on this planet.

“Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come, In the volume of the book it is written of Me to do Your will, O God.’”

 then He said, “Behold, I have come to do Your will, [a]O God.” He takes away the first that He may establish the second. Hebrews 10:7,9 NKJV

 How Do We Arrive At “I Surrender All?”

 Let’s be honest, when it comes to surrender most if not all of us only surrender the easy parts of our lives.  I think if God were to give us a crystal-clear picture or audible sound of exactly what he wants us to surrender to him, we would be astonished and maybe even reluctant or afraid.  We have a lot of complex things in our lives that are subject to the battle of surrender to our will or God’s will.

Surrender is a matter of perspective.  For a General or Commander of troops on the battlefield, surrender means defeat.  For the follower of Jesus Christ, it is the path to victory, and strength for life.

Getting there is not easy, and it requires a daily effort of making little decisions throughout to surrender a little more of yourself to God’s way of thinking and his way of doing things.  And yes, if you are anything like me, you will strike out plenty of times.

No problem, stand back up and take another step forward, with a surrendered heart.  The more you do this, sooner or later you will realize that the steps you are taking is not on your own strength, but his.

The Benefits Of Surrendering To God

 And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  2 Corinthians 12:19 NKJV

 We have such a desire to be strong and self-sufficient that we sometimes forget that we have limitations to the things that we can accomplish.  It seems counterintuitive to think someone can be made stronger by becoming weaker.

The first couple of times I read the above verse I just could not make sense of its application.  After all isn’t strength in Christ what we all seek after?  During the arrest of Jesus and the events that took him to the cross, I realized that his total surrendered will to the desires of the father was replaced by strength from above.  He was no longer seeking anything that would hinder what the father wanted him to do.

Standing in front of an accusing mob bent on killing him and not saying a word in his defense was most evident of his will being replaced by the father’s will.  Human strength was replaced by divine strength, as though the two go hand in hand.  A fully surrendered will, mind and body had been transformed into an instrument for God to use and do whatever he willed.

I find that throughout the Bible many parallels of inner strength are associated with a submissive and surrendered will. Peace and joy and a sense of spiritual rest will accompany a surrendered heart.

It also makes our life choices and decisions a lot simpler because our decisions will be based on the most important aspects of our lives, mainly our service to God.

However, along with the many benefits of a surrendered will, we want to get to the place where we are surrendering our will not for our benefit, but as a sacrifice to God which is his perfect will for us.

“I beseech[a] you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your [b]reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:1,2 NKJV

 Surrendering our will and transformation of our minds will be the acceptable will of God for our personal lives.  As such we will be empowered to live a sacrificial life in mind body and spirit.

The Holy Spirit searches the deep things of God and will reveal them to us and teach us, but He needs our permission to be taught.  That comes from our surrendered minds and will.  If we resist, then the Holy Spirit dwelling in us becomes dormant and will not empower us to live victoriously.

Jesus Encourages And Advocates A Surrendered Life

“For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.” Mark 8:35 NKJV

It seems like an oxymoron to lose one’s life to save it.  Yet, Jesus Christ has stated that the way to find your hidden life that God has willed for you is in surrender of your current life, that you have willed for yourself.  Consider all the things that Christ has asked us to be willing to surrender for his sake.

A surrendered life is crucial and necessary to be able to adequately live up to our full potential that God has placed within us.  We will have to have a change of mindset to realize that a surrendered life has more rewards than we could possibly imagine.

We must have faith, hope and assurance of his promises, in that Jesus has declared:

“He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.” Matthew 10:39

Trust and surrender go hand in hand.  If you were struggling to keep from drowning in a lake, your best efforts would fall short over time.  However, if a skilled person who has saved countless victims in your situation arrives on hand, you will no doubt surrender your efforts to the hands of the skilled professional to save the day.  Your act of surrender is a statement of trust.  It says, ‘I trust you to do exactly what you say you can and will do on my behalf.’

The savior of our souls deserves our surrender to his will, because we know he will do exactly what is in our best interest, for our good.  The moment we give up ourselves and are willing to lose it all for his sake, is the moment we gain everything!

Biography:

Eugene Coghill is a contributing writer at Faith Filled Family Magazine and the creator of Kingdom Living, www.eugenecoghill.com a Christian based inspirational blog.  His achievements have included two published novels, Love Is A Fishnet (2008), A Loving Deception (2020).  He is in pursuit of a freelance copywriting career with American Writers and Artists, Inc. and is a member of the Professional Writers Alliance.

Some past careers have included the United States Marine Corps, law enforcement, corporate investigator and is currently a professional driver (tractor trailer) for Walmart. Inspirational speaking, especially to troubled youths has become his growing passion to share his own story of overcoming a very abusive and challenging childhood.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Through His Eyes

“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is long suffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9 NKJV

 Let me start with a disclaimer that some contents of this article may go against popular world culture.

It is no surprise that our world is lacking in compassion to others.  It is evident by the way people are treated and the attitudes that prevail in our culture.  What I find more surprising is that this attitude has seeped into those who are called to model Christ on earth.

As Christians we certainly are not perfect, and we are being renewed in spirit and mind to the degree of our submission to God. It is no surprise that the culture of this world contrasts with what the bible teaches on how we are to treat others.

Many people can easily quote a bible verse that is supposed to idealize how we are to regard all others. It is most certainly easier said than done. “And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise.” Luke 6: 31 NKJV

 The way we treat others is directly linked to how we see them, how we regard them, and what value we place on them.

Often our value of others differs from the value that Christ has of them and ourselves.

Before we can begin to see others as Christ does, we need to clearly define exactly how Christ sees all of humanity.

On different occasions I have often looked at certain individuals, those that I was not too fond of and wondered to myself how is it that God sees value in them that I do not.  It astonishes me that he places so much value on you, me, and the rest of the 8.5 billion people alive on earth.

Even the worst among us has high value to him. It may surprise you that the very people that you may regard as your enemy is loved by God exactly as you are. Yes, that’s right, he has divine love for the criminals, terrorists, and others who menace our society and world. Simply stated, he loves the sinner, but hates the sin.

His unrelenting love for them is with the sole purpose of redemption.  He loves them with the one goal of them recognizing his unfailing love, turning from their sins with repentance and experiencing a loving relationship with him, for the best life possible.

All of creation was designed with us in mind.  Since we are the central theme of God’s creation it is of utmost important to explore both how he sees us and others, so that we can also value them in the same light.

Once we align our way of seeing others as Christ does, our treatment of them will likewise follow.  Let’s explore a moment of honesty, shall we?

What He Sees vs What We See

 How does God see your spouse, and family members? Acceptable, loveable, forgivable?  Is that the way you see them?

The soldier from another country on a battlefield is equally loved by God as our troops. Does that make you feel a little uncomfortable?

How about the stranger at the grocery store?  What about the person who cut you off in traffic?  The beggar on the street corner?  To be honest there are times when I see them as irritations or burdens.  What about you?

Considering the most recent national mantra of ‘All Lives Matter’, I can say without an ounce of hesitation that to God, all lives truly do matter.  It does not matter to him who they are, what they have done, or even what they believe. He created them all for a specific purpose in mind.  Regardless of whether they fulfill their purpose his value of their life does not change.

To think that the one person, who has the right and could reject any one of us because of the sinful mess we have become, has chosen instead to love us unconditionally.  He went out of his way to demonstrate this undeserving love towards us by dying for us, even knowing that we would still disappoint him greatly throughout our lives.

We tend to see people through the lens of their history and current circumstances.  God see us through the eyes of future potential, as a finished product of the Holy Spirit.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV

 Interesting enough God sees us as new creation, if we are born again even though we are being transformed daily from the old person.  Imagine, God who knows how deeply flawed we are sees us as new creatures in Christ Jesus.

Can we see something other than the worse flaws of those we love and encounter?  Imagine what a difference or impact we can have on others if we see them in a much better light. What a difference it would make to speak about a good characteristic in a person instead of what they are lacking.  Everyone has value, and when we get them to see that they have value it can have a great impact.

Our Obligation of Loving Others

But as many as received Him, to them he gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” John 1:12,13 NKJV

 When I first became a Christian, I had some serious bad attitudes against others who also were Christians.  Interesting enough God orchestrated my early lessons in loving others by placing me in situations where I would have to…you guessed it, love others!

One such person lived at the same teenage home that I lived at.  Which means I knew a lot of details about his personality and how he was as a person when he was not toting a bible to a bible study or prayer meeting. To be clear I saw him as a major irritation, and I was not very loving towards him.

During an open discussion one afternoon at a bible study this topic of the family of God came up.  More importantly the specific idea that your Christian brothers and sisters are your permanent family and not only will you experience them here on earth but also throughout all of eternity.

I looked over at him and thought, ‘I am going to need a lot of help on how to live with him forever!’  Apparently, God knew this as well, because it was brought to my attention that if this certain person was worthy enough for Jesus Christ to love, then I must see him as worthy of my love as well.

It did not happen overnight, but slowly my attitude changed because I realized that Jesus Christ also loves me with all my flaws and shortcomings.  I don’t deserve his love, but he loves me still, so I have an obligation to love those that he loves.

As Christians we do not have the luxury of picking and choosing who in the family of God we will love.

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 NKJV

 God truly does see humanity as a family that he wants for himself.  He will not make us or force us to be a part of his family, but he will adopt anyone who comes to him willingly to be his child.

He does not ask us to come to him only after we have gotten ourselves cleaned up and living a sinless life.  As with relationships among parents and children, the love for the child is not dictated by what the child does.  You do not stop loving your five-year-old child just because he or she has a tantrum in the middle of Walmart!

It is fully understood that your child will make mistakes and even have behavior issues during the growing process.  Your love for the child is not dictated by his or her behavior. You may dislike and need to correct the behavior, but the love remains.  Your child’s identity and relationship to you does not change with their attitude or the things they do.

Likewise with our relationship to others, we must never forget that they are of high value to God, and especially those who he has adopted into his family. Seeing others with the same value as God takes a concerted effort.  Only the Holy Spirit can help us to see others through his eyes.

Double Vision or Clear Vision?

 “Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Matthew 7:5 NKJV

 I have always been awed at how Jesus wanted people to see others. Even though he spoke to thousands, he always had the individual foremost in his heart and mind. It should not be surprising that Jesus often called people out on their hypocrisy in dealing with others.

There is a lesson to be learned if we are to see others as he does. Before we can even begin to see we must understand that we do not have clear vision.  One of the unique benefits of seeing others as he does, is that it allows us to come to a place of humility regarding our own faults and shortcomings.

Compassion for others was a character trait that guided his mission on earth.  In our dealings with others, if we are to see them through God’s eyes, we will need a heart transplant from cold and uncaring, to loving and compassionate.  We must acknowledge that we do not always see others with their best interest in mind.

It will take a measure of humility to understand that we are also in need of love and understanding, and that the people we deal with daily are no different.  With the help of the Holy Spirit, you will find that your interactions with others will also cause you to change, with eyes that see, and a heart that feels.

A person’s spiritual thermometer can be assessed by how they view others.  It will be impossible for you to see others with a judgmental attitude if you are committed to seeing them with the eyes of compassion.

While some may think that the homeless beggar on the street is worthless to the person who drives by in their fancy expensive cars on their way to a home that costs a fortune, in reality that beggar cost Jesus Christ every ounce of blood and unfathomable pain and torture on a cross outside of Jerusalem.

If our value and assessment of others is based solely on outward appearances, then we are equally as poor as any street beggar.  To know that Jesus Christ died for the people we despise, should be an eyeopener in our dealings with others.

To best help others we must see our own spiritual need for help.  In our effort to serve others we should always be seeking clear vision of our own lives, because then, and only then can we be effective at guiding others.

Relational Impact of God’s Love

 “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” Matthew 15:13 NKJV

 The above verse sums up the totality of God’s love for mankind, both collectively and for the individual.  While most of us will not be called upon to give our lives for another person, the spirit and attitude of that sacrifice must remain foremost in our dealings with others and especially our close relationships.

Can you imagine what a difference you can make in the lives of others when they understand your level of genuine concern for them?

The trusting innocence of a child is a good example of the response to unconditional love.  A child does not second guess the love of a mother or father, it is assumed. The child acts on that assumption while playing in the yard, near a busy street.  The child is oblivious to the potential dangers however the watchful eyes of the parents is ever present.

The child is free to play uninhibited by fear because it knows that loving parents are nearby. If at any moment the child is in immediate danger the parents will not hesitate to act.  Love compels them to do.  So, it is with our relationship to God, and should be with others.

Often, we here the expression “I got your back”, and to most it means that “I am there for you when you need it most.”  Seeing others with a sense of service towards them will compel you to behave differently.

Actions really do speak louder than words.  We are more than confident of the love that Christ has for us because we have read about his actions that validated his love for us.

In our dealings with others when our consistent actions of service and self-sacrifice on behalf of others is foremost in our hearts and minds, they will have the same confidence that you truly “have their back.”

Bibliography:

Eugene Coghill is a contributing writer at Faith Filled Family Magazine and the creator of Kingdom Living, www.eugenecoghill.com a Christian based inspirational blog.  His achievements have included two published novels, Love Is A Fishnet and A Loving Deception.  He is in pursuit of a freelance copywriting career with American Writers and Artists, Inc. and is a member of the Professional Writers Alliance.

Some past careers have included the United States Marine Corps, law enforcement, corporate investigator and is currently a professional driver (tractor trailer) for Walmart. Inspirational speaking, especially to troubled youths has become his growing passion to share his own story of overcoming a very abusive and challenging childhood.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Your Best Life Is Hidden In God’s Word

“Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You.”Psalm 119:11 NKJV

Intimate relationships require and demand constant communication.  They require communication from the most mundane moments in our lives to the most dramatic. No other relationship can be more intimate than our personal relationship with God, who knows us better than anyone else.

Just as the discovery of our significant other is an ongoing effort of probing and searching, and looking deeper, so it is with our relationship with God.

I find it interesting that God knows us and sees us with extraordinary details.  Even the very number of hairs on our heads is known to him!  Can you imagine knowing your loved one with such detail?

“But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear; therefore, you are of more value than many sparrows.” Luke 12:7 NKJV

Consider what the verse is saying that you have so much value that he took the time to know the exact number of hairs on your head. In fact, he knew you before you were born.

He gives us a glimpse of his ability to know us before birth when he spoke to his Old Testament prophet Jeremiah.

“Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you; Before you were born, I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.” Jeremiah 1:5 NKJV

 By comparison we do not know our loved ones with such intimate details. We strive our entire lives but never have the in-depth knowledge of others.  However, unlike our human relationships, God desires us to have a meaningful closeness with him that is unlike any other.

He has specifically designed us so that our completeness only comes from our willingness to be close to him and fully understand his character, nature, and love for us.

The Bible, God’s Portfolio

 “Between early 2019 and 2020, the percentage of US adults who say they use the Bible daily dropped from 14 percent to 9 percent, according to the State of the Bible 2020 report by the Barna Group and the American Bible Society” Source Christianity Today July 22, 2020, David Roach

God created us to be more like Him than anything else He made.  Knowing and living his word is how we get there. Imagine if our relationships with our loved ones or intimate partners reflected our time spent reading God’s word.  Would you be content with only having casual and periodic acknowledgement?

Would just a passing glance every couple of weeks be sufficient for you or your spouse? How about a courtesy hug or kiss monthly? Of course not, yet this is exactly how some of us, (myself included) have treated our relationship with God. We were designed for a close intimate relationship with Him. Only his revealed word gives us insight and a clear picture of who He is.

Just as we must spend a lot of time with our loved ones to truly know who they, how they function and all their unique quirks, so it is with God’s word.

There are many reasons to having an in-depth knowledge of God’s word. Simply reading it as a once over is not enough.  The word of God is living and inspired, and it is constantly revealing the truth about Him and ourselves.  It should not be a chore that is dreaded.

I confess that there have been times in my Christian life that reading it seemed more like an academic chore than the craving of knowing what hidden treasures it would reveal about me or God.

When you get a clear understanding of what the word of God is and believe it for what it is, the inerrant word of God, the more you will appreciate every page. It absolutely astonishes me that reading or hearing the Bible several times over reveals fresh brand-new awe spiring insight that I did not see before.

The bible gives us a close-up in-depth look at the characteristics of God, and it highlights his dealings with people.  It gives astonishing stories, lessons and outcomes of those who obeyed Godly principles and those who did not. They are literally there for our example.

“Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon who the ends of the ages have come.” 1 Corinthians 10:11 NKJV

 Bible Reading As A To Do List

 I spent all my teenage years at a juvenile group home in Baltimore County Md. During the school months a mandatory one-hour study hall in the evening was required regardless of if you had homework or not. So, after many one-hour sessions that produced little to nothing for schoolwork (because I did most of it in school), I decided to take on the task of reading the Bible in its entirety from cover to cover.

So, with military precision I would read for one hour and trust me it was like getting a teeth cleaning by the dentist using sandpaper!  I would systematically clock in, skim the pages barely comprehending anything that was written.  Yes, a few major big, themed stories would capture my attention for a while, like Adam and Eve, the flood, the Israelites crossing the Red Sea and so forth.  However, I was not reading it with my personal growth and character development in mind.  It was my to do list, to make me feel good that I had done something, especially since most teenage boys were not reading the Bible.

I was not even a Christian at that time, so it had no significance to me other than a brief familiarity of the things I had heard all my life like the Ten Commandments, the Golden Rule, etc.

So, it is not surprising that many people today do not see the personal value in reading, studying, and meditating on the bible. We seem to be ok with gloating at how we get our weekly dose of scripture via a social media page following, or a verse of the day app on our phones. But should we be wanting and desiring more?

Bible As A Life Coach

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Psalm 119:105 NKJV

 The purpose of reading the Bible is not to know the bible but rather to know God. No one ever outgrows the scripture; it is a living thing always relevant to each individual and every generation.

God speaks most clearly to our lives by his word.  I have been most surprised by all of the practical wisdom for daily living that it possesses.  Let’s be honest, life is tough, and we all need a life coach or guide to show us how to navigate the choppy waters and what to expect on the journey.

If you are in a loving relationship with your spouse or loved one, you would want to spend meaningful time with them to learn from them as they reveal their true nature and character.  You would want to go deeper into understanding them. You would ask questions and think about their responses.

Your time spent with the Bible can be compared to the many sessions you would have with a life coach. You can gain insight into your personal life and how to best handle different situations. Its pages contain immeasurable wisdom that will prove priceless over time.

If you heed its warnings, you can avoid painful lessons and the associated consequences of disobedience. You also must know that the contents of God’s word are both for your protection and your well-being.  Early on when I was reading the Bible, I struggled with seemingly old-fashioned rules that only wanted me to not have any fun or enjoyment in life.

Nothing could be further from the truth.  God’s word is the specific knowledge that we all need to make the best decisions in our lives.  It has guiding principles that are designed to keep us from unnecessary hardship, not only as individuals but also collectively.

We Should Strive For More Than Bible 101

 “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’” Matthew 4:4 NKJV

 It is important that we progress in our journey to become more and more like Jesus Christ.  It can only happen with the saturation of God’s word in our hearts and mind. The first time I read that we are in fact supposed to commit to the work and discipline of transforming our lives by his word, I thought of it as an impossible task.  It is not.  We have help.  The very word of God that brought all of creation into existence is equally powerful enough to change our lives.

His word is tied directly to the best life we can obtain here on earth. Just as blood is the vital life-giving fluid to our bodies, so is the word of God the sustaining substance of our spiritual lives. You would not dare drain your body of blood and expect to live. Yet we seem to not realize that without the word of God saturating our mind and spirit, we will become weaker and weaker until eventually we are spiritually dead.

God’s word, mainly the preaching of the gospel, is the only thing that can transform a dead spirit to one that is alive to the things of God.  I have been amazed at how after becoming a Christian how ‘alive’ the bible became to me.  As I was reading it, the words seem to jump off the pages, and spoke directly to me, as if I were the only person being addressed.

I have heard of countless others who testify of this same experience.  What used to be a foreign language in terms of my comprehension and understanding, became clear as day.  By the work of the Holy Spirit illuminating God’s word in your heart you have life transforming knowledge that you grow to love and appreciate over time. When we actually obey its precepts, you will see a change from the person you were to someone who thinks and behaves in accordance with the new born-again character that you received when you became a Christian.

God uses the Holy Spirit to teach us about what we are reading in His word.  He convicts us of our sin and helps us to remember what we have read.  Just as a you need to deposit money into your bank account before you can make a withdrawal, so it is with the Holy Spirit and the word of God. The more you read and are exposed to God’s word the Holy Spirt can access it for the exact situation pertaining to your life.

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:2 NKJV

Your thirst for more will become automatic as you grow in spirit and see the transforming power of obedience.  As Christians we have a mandate to learn more about the word of God.  We are called to do more than just a brief daily reading.

 Making good sense of the Bible and applying its precepts wisely to our lives is a hard thing to do.  We are instructed to not just listen, or read, but to engage in its practical daily application in our lives.

It is important to take time and make a concerted effort to meditate and let the word fill your heart and mind.  The transformation takes place in the mind as the word is allowed to reshape our thinking and reasoning.

As a child I was familiar with a few bible verses and a couple of stories.  But those trinkets of bible knowledge did not have the life changing impact that personal study has had over the years.  It was during those times of meditation and reading to understand that faith to actually do the word was manifested.

“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” James 1:22 NKJV

 For me the most profound impact the word has had on me is its ability to gently remind me if I am going astray or have gone astray.  Countless times the Holy Spirit has used the word to put the spotlight on my sinful desires. It was during those moments that I had to decide whether to listen and obey, which leads to more Christ like transformation or disobey and willfully sin. To be honest I have done both.

Some of my social media engagement has been challenged by the Holy Spirit. Mean spirited or worse comments have come from my heart to the keyboard.  However, the word of God is faithful in gently reminding me and serving as a filter for the words I say.

It is the bedrock of why we should strive to keep the word in our heart, so that we do not go against the character of Christ.  I can truly appreciate the reasoning King David had when he declared, “Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against you.” Psalm 119:11 NKJV

 Bibliography:

Eugene Coghill is a contributing writer at Faith Filled Family Magazine and the creator of Kingdom Living, www.eugenecoghill.com a Christian based inspirational blog.  His achievements have included two published novels, Love Is A Fishnet (2008), A Loving Deception (2020).  He is in pursuit of a freelance copywriting career with American Writers and Artists, Inc. and is a member of the Professional Writers Alliance.

Some past careers have included the United States Marine Corps, law enforcement, corporate investigator and is currently a professional driver (tractor trailer) for Walmart. Inspirational speaking, especially to troubled youths has become his growing passion to share his own story of overcoming a very abusive and challenging childhood.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tough Talk, Wrapped In Kindness

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” Proverbs 18:21 NKJV

 

Of all the things that can influence our daily interactions with people, nothing effects it more profoundly than our communication.  The ability to convey thoughts, feelings and ideas in such a way that the other person hears, receives and understands them cannot be over emphasized.

There are so many things that affect our communication with other people, such as our personal relationship or connection with the other person.  Often the subject of our communication can instill fear or other emotions to the person who is hearing us.

In a perfect world our conversations would be well received by anyone who hears it, with the understanding that our intentions are good.  However as many of us have experienced, that is easier said than done.

Undoubtedly, perhaps the greatest challenge of our personal communications has been with family and friends. The thought of having to discuss perhaps our own personal shortcomings or a mistake can send fear and panic to our brains when we have to confront the other person.

But are there ways to be honest and effective and yet show empathy for the impact of our words on another?

Part of our maturity and growth in any relationship is to be able to effectively communicate our truth in such a manner that it is well received, even if it is not good news.  Like anything else, that takes a commitment of work and practice.

The more you talk about difficult subjects you will get better at understanding the best communication style and tactics that will have a meaningful impact and preserve the integrity of your relationship.  Is it easy? Absolutely not.  Is it worth it? Most definitely.

Over time however you will gain more confidence to have the tough talk, instead of avoiding it all together, which can sometimes make things even worse.  It may surprise you to know that being able and being willing to talk about something negative to your partner, family member or close friend is an act of trust.

It is a sign that you trust their reactions and emotions in response to what you have to say.  For them they will eventually thank you for your honesty to tell them hard things even though painful, versus your desire to shield them and protect them with a lie or complete avoidance.

Respect, Kindness and Sincerity

“There is one who speaks like the piercings of a sword, But the tongue of the wise promotes health.” Proverbs 12:18 NKJV

 In all of our daily communications and especially with our loved ones, our level of respect and kindness is being evaluated. These qualities are in even greater need when we have to discuss something that will make the other person and ourselves uncomfortable. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes and consider how you would like someone to approach you with a difficult message.

Remember the end goal is to communicate our truth and yet maintain a solid relationship with the other person on the other side of the conversation.  While we cannot control or dictate the response or actions of others, we can lessen the impact by the way we approach and discuss the matter.

Here are some tips to consider.

Be Honest

 The truthful lip shall be established forever, But a lying tongue is but for a moment.” Proverbs 12:19 NKJV

 I have a confession to make.  I have lied before to protect the feelings of another person. In retrospect I was wrong and should have instead told them how difficult it was for me to have the discussion, and that they deserve the truth because I cared about them as a person, and I place high value on the relationship.

While some may disagree, I have learned from experience that the truth, even the painful truth is better than a lie.  A lie can only deepen the wound and build more distrust which is the opposite of the purpose of your conversation. A painful truth told in love is better for both parties and out of your willingness to tell the other person the truth regardless of how uncomfortable it is, comes a level of personal growth and maturity that cannot be gained in any other way.

Your willingness to tell the truth signifies how important the relationship is to you and to them.  If it is a relationship that you want to flourish and blossom, then you must infuse it with honesty.  In turn when or if the time should come when your partner, friend or family member needs to tell you something, your truth to them will make it easier for them to tell their truth to you.

Don’t Dictate How They Should Feel

“The heart of the righteous studies how to answer, But the mouth of the wicked pours forth evil.” Proverbs 15:28 NKJV

 Often times in our desire to mitigate the emotions of the other person we try to dictate to them how they should feel or even compare our feelings to theirs.

You don’t get to decide how your partner feels about the news you are delivering to them. They are entitled to have and experience their emotions even if the reaction is not what you are expecting.

Telling a person not to be mad at you will not make it so. Just express your support for them in any way they need, even if that means giving them some time and space. If you are coming clean about your transgression, then the discussion you need to focus on is about you and your behavior and ways to change and fix things going forward.

If the other person needs some time to reflect and process what you have told them, then be respectful of their need.  If you force the issue in that moment, they may lash out in anger or other emotions which will only complicate things and make it more difficult to communicate with them.

Walk The Talk

“Keep your tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking deceit. Depart from evil and do good; Seek peace and pursue it.” Psalm 34:13,14 NKJV

All of your best intentions are meaningless unless you have a specific plan in place and the desire and determination to actually correct the situation.  This is especially important if perhaps you have caused harm to the other person.  It is far better to take action that the other person can observe over time, instead of making promises.  Your actions to be better and do better speak much louder than your words.

As humans with our sinful flaws, it is normal to find ourselves occasionally in situations where we have hurt another person or broken a degree of trust.

You don’t want to be a person who is all talk and no action.  As Christians our character and reputation is determined and judged by the actions we do far more so than the words we speak. It adds to your creditability and trustworthiness.  Let the other person know that you are the person that you say you are.

Having the conversation about your responsibility is a great start.  Taking actions to correct your behavior is a great finish.

Their Response Is Out Of Your Control

 “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Romans 12:18 NIV

 In our dealings with others, especially in our communications, one of the most feared response is one of anger.  It may surprise you to know that anger is a valid God given emotion. How that anger is used however makes all the difference of the outcome.

In our dealings with others and especially our close relationships it is important that we get a good understanding of their anger, and what impact it has on them.  We need to be able to have a level of empathy to understand what is generating their anger.  Anger may seem straight forward on the surface, however many times it is only an outward expression of some other unrealized hurt, pain or trauma.  Often it can be energized by fear and frustration.

Anger may be the last resort of expression to somethings that have been building up that are totally unrelated to the situation at hand.  For example, a person may have had a challenging week at work.  They may have been late for work on a Tuesday when they were rushing out the door and spilled coffee on their shirt.

Perhaps the boss, demanded that they put in extra hours twice this week at work because other people were on vacation and those tasks were delegated to them.

Then they at last see you and you have something important to say that will rub them the wrong way.  Or it could be something simple as a request from the wife to fix a leaky faucet during a time you are trying to get well deserved relaxation.  What happens? Boom! An explosion of all the week’s frustrations bursts in a single moment when the wife asked nicely about fixing the leaky faucet.

Anger requires God’s help to restore peace and proper perspective. While it is natural for us to want to be in control of their anger, the truth however, their anger or any response is out of our control.  Yes, we can help minimize it, but ultimately it is up to them to process and handle it with integrity.

You also must realize that your best efforts to speak the truth in kindness sometimes will be met with open hostility.  The fallen nature of man is such that we do not know the condition of the human heart of other people.  We cannot assume that they will respond in the exact same way we would respond to the same message.  We must allow them a measure of grace, even in their anger.

Is It Something I Said?

 The shock of an angry reaction may have you questioning your entire conversation with the other person or even your relationship with them. Sometimes the water is muddy in determining if their anger is justified and rational.  You may even question if you should have had the conversation in the first place.

Your job is to speak the truth with love and kindness, and then let God be responsible for the results. Your job also is to present the truth in the best way possible, so that it does not feel like a personal attack to the other person.  If they feel like you are attacking them, then it may be an indication of their spiritual condition, or an unwillingness to be reasonable in the moment. A cooling down period most always causes anger to subside.

You do not have to assume responsibility for their inability to handle anger.  But rather be gracious in acknowledging it and help them find ways to let it abate.  Maybe something simple as some time and space is all that is needed.  I have found myself saying, “I know you are angry, and you have a right to be.  I am willing you give you the time and space you need to process, so we can discuss this with less emotions and more rationale.”

It is important to acknowledge their emotions, and it helps to differentiate if the real problem lies with you or them.

Establish Boundaries For Displayed Anger

 Be angry, and do not sin: do not let the sun go down on your wrath.” Ephesians 4:26 NKJV

 It is important to recognize the difference between anger as an emotion, and anger that is expressed as aggression. Anger is fundamentally different than aggression. Being angry in and of itself is not a sin, however how we express that anger can lead to sin.

An example of how to establish and enforce a boundary would be to tell your partner that though they have the right to be angry they do not have the right to belittle you or shout with insults and aggressive speech.

For established boundaries to work you must make it clear that there will be consequences and then you must follow through. You must tell them that you acknowledge their anger, but there are things you will not tolerate in the way they express it.  For example, if the other person starts yelling, screaming, and cursing; then you politely tell them that you are leaving the conversation, and then do so.

Build Bridges To The Heart

 “Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.” Colossians 4:6 NKJV

In closing let us not forget the importance of why we engage with others, even to discuss something that might not be received well.  Our first and utmost desire is to uplift and build up whoever we come across.  We are to leave an impression of good will, even though we may have to first deal with conflict.

Never let it be said that as Christians we left a flaming arrow in the heart of another.  Consider how we would want others to deal with us in communicating. One of the outstanding characteristics of Jesus Christ was his ability to talk with all kinds of people from various backgrounds. He left an unmistakable impression on them when he talked.

He conveyed truth that needed to be heard.  It was well received by those who had a prepared heart. Even those who responded with anger, undoubtedly knew that he had their best interest at heart.

So it must be with you and I.  We are in the business of building bridges to the heart. Our conduct and communication wrapped in loving kindness is the foundation.

Biography:

Eugene Coghill is a contributing writer at Faith Filled Family Magazine, and the creator of Kingdom Living, www.eugenecoghill.com a Christian based inspirational blog. His achievements have included two published novels, Love Is A Fishnet (2008) and most recently, A Loving Deception (February 2020). He is in pursuit of a freelance copywriting career with American Writers and Artists, Inc. and is a member of the Professional Writers Alliance.

Some past careers have included the United States Marine Corps, law enforcement, corporate Investigator, and is currently a professional driver (tractor trailer) for Walmart.

Inspirational speaking, especially to troubled youths has become his growing passion to share his own story of overcoming a very abusive and challenging childhood.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is There More To Hope Than Wishful Thinking?

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; 1Peter 3:15 NKJV

To be honest, for me hope has long been one of those words that I never could fully grasp.  It was fairly easy to understand the concept of love, mercy, grace, forgiveness and redemption.  However, hope just did not resonate with me on the inside, in the early years of my life.

I had no idea what it meant, even though I heard countless people speak of it and throw the term around without a second thought.  I was prone to positive thinking and thought it was just brainwashing to make you think something was good when in reality it was not.  It wasn’t until I read the Bible and began to see the entire scope of the plans that God has for mankind that I started to get a different understanding of hope.

When it comes to hope, it all starts with and ends with God.  He and he alone has initiated all hope that will ever be.  For he is also the sustainer of hope and his entire reputation is on the line and at stake to fulfil that hope.  The Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.  Psalm 147:11 NIV

What exactly is hope?

 Some common dictionary definitions of hope are as follows: a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.

a desire accompanied by expectation of or belief in fulfillment

a feeling of desire for something and confidence in the possibility of its fulfillment

Some would suggest that hope is merely wishful thinking for some desired result.  But is true hope more than wishful thinking?  Consider this definition from Wikepedia: hope is an optimistic state of mind that is based on an expectation of positive outcomes with respect to events and circumstances in one’s life or the world at large.

With the realities of the world, we live in today, that is a very tall order to fulfill regarding hope for our personal lives and the world.  Look at everything we have that can drain us of hope if we are only looking at the surface level in our lives.

In a world of uncertainty, hope is difficult to visualize or maintain.  Perhaps hope is an attitude and state of mind built on guaranteed assurances, for those who are followers of Jesus Christ. For the believer it is desire, plus belief and an attitude of expectation based on assurances and promises of God.

Within the core of hope lies a strong belief.  It sees possibilities where none or very little seems to exist. It is my desire by the time you finish reading this article that the word hope will have the new meaning of Hold On Pain Ends!

Hope is constantly challenged in the realities of life.

 In our ever-changing world, we are bombarded with many things that can drain one of hope.  Yet hope is vital to our health and mental outlook on life.  Any doctor will tell you that hope is the best tonic to be used in conjunction with and sometimes exclusively as medicine.

In our modern culture the word optimism is used a lot to describe a good attitude and positive stance on life.  However true hope goes much deeper than the superficial attributes of optimism.  Hope is vastly different. It is as different as the gamblers dice, verses proven research with predictable or guaranteed results.

It is amazing how having a glimmer of hope can cause anyone to include rats to endure just a little bit longer in the expectation that a different outcome will happen.

In the 1950’s a scientist named Curt Richer conducted a swimming experiment with rats. In summary rats were placed in a jar half filled with water and allowed to swim to the point of nearly succumbing, then removed for a brief period of time, and placed back in the water.

Surprisingly these rats continued to swim much longer than rats that were placed in the jar of water and left to their predictable fate, with no brief reprieve.  Ref: Article, Trading Composure: Mindfulness Based Psychology Solutions

The New Testament Vision Of Hope

 As we go through this dark time in the history of our nation, we do not proceed with foolish inflated buoyancy of optimism. Optimism can be short lived and shaken by the events that batter our country and our world. To those who do not know or do not have a close relationship with Jesus Christ, optimism or wishful thinking is the best effort of human will.

However, for Christian believers, hope is grounded as an anchor in our belief of a certain and expected outcome. It steadies our hearts when the winds of change come.

It is the foundation of why we can experience unspeakable peace when we should be experiencing chaos. This can only happen because of the God of peace, and the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ.

“and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”  Phillipians 4:7 NKJV

 It sounds cruel to ask a mother who has just lost her only child to have hope.  Or a husband who has just gotten the news that the wife he kissed this morning will not be coming home due to a plane slamming into her office building while being piloted by a group of hijackers.

We know that the headlines of our world can drain us of all hope. We feel totally empty after experiencing the relentless bombardment of things that shatter our lives. It’s hard to take in the sunshine of a bright day when our hearts are covered in the shadow of darkness.

God is the originator and sustainer of hope.

 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people. Ephesians 1:18 NIV

 To get a full understanding of hope, one must realize that God has a plan that is being carried out in exacting details and it will not fail.  It will not fail regardless of what events or circumstances play out in our daily lives.  This hope was part of the plan and put into motion even before the world was created.

To better understand this, we need to know about the clear vision God had for all of mankind that was set in motion before creation.

Hope Goes Full Circle Back To The Garden of Eden

 God was not at all caught off guard or surprised at the events that took place in the Garden of Eden.  More importantly under his watchful eyes, he set in motion the solution to the dilemma that our first parents Adam and Eve had subjected all of humanity to.

Often, when I read the Bible, I am fascinated with the meticulous attention to details that addresses this problem in a manner that the human mind could not conceive. Such forethought of God to have a plan for events that have not taken place, or that seem impossible to resolve.

Such was the case at the fall and disobedience of man.  Adam and Eve had no idea of the impact their actions would have on the rest of mankind. However, God did know, and the solution was in place even before the problem presented itself.

Creation itself, knows that there is a future hope awaiting all of mankind, and it eagerly waits for the hope to be revealed. From day one there was an expectation that the damage that was done by Adam and Eve would be undone, and all things corrected. While it seems like a very long time coming, its arrival is certain.

For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.” Roman 8:19-21 NIV

 However, the hope of God that was put in place goes even further to specifically address the broken relationship between God and man that was disrupted in the Garden.  When God created Adam, he was a direct creation of God, the original not a copy.  He was literally a created son of God, with the same intimate communication and relationship that we understand between a son and a father, however on a much deeper level.

After the fall, that relationship and intimate communication was broken and lost. The perfect man that God created had become tainted with sin that prohibited the relationship to be the same. To be a son of God now was virtually impossible because every other person after Adam had the same genetic flaw of sin. The master copy had become corrupt and therefore all other copies would bear the same mark of corruption. What a major problem for God to solve!

God did not have to think or strategize about the problem because the solution was present when the problem presented itself. Hope was already established at the moment of the fall.  Hope of mankind to be restored as the original was underway.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.”  John 1:1-4 NKJV

 I was astonished to read about the thinly veiled presence of Jesus Christ at creation.

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.” Genesis 1:26 NKJV

The very person who was responsible for creation we will later see has a major role in becoming the only hope for mankind to be reconciled back to God.

Hope Is The Central Theme Of The Gospel

 The hopelessness experienced in this world today is because mankind does not know God’s intended purpose in the creation of man.  Man was designed to have a personal relationship with God in this life and in the life to come. We were originally designed to have eternal unbroken fellowship with God.

God has never changed his mind about his purpose for mankind or his creation.  To the uninformed it may seem as though his plans were derailed, and that he is not fully in control of the outcome. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The entire scope of human history is the story of how God’s original plan will come full circle back to his original purpose. The gospel is the detailed outline of the problem and the solution that will permanently establish the results that God had preordained. It tells the greatest story of hope for all mankind. All of the events and endeavors of planet earth is the unveiling of H I S tory! God’s story.

When nothing else seems to be going right, you can rest assured that the grand plans of God are being carried out in exacting details to carry out the goal of reconciling mankind back to himself, by way of Jesus Christ.

“All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.” 2 Corinthians 5: 18,19 NKJV

Satan, way back in the Garden, had corrupted the planet and tainted God’s most prized possession with sin. However, this did not catch God by surprise.

How wonderful it is to know that God had a plan to solve our sin problem that we inherited from Adam.

Jesus Christ was not compelled by God to take on our sin problem, but rather because of his unfathomable love for us, willingly carried out the plan that God had ordained to once and for all solve our sin problem. He was a part of the plan to restore our broken relationship with God even before creation was made.

“The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.” 1John 3:8 NIV

 How to cope when you feel there is no hope.

All humans have in common the relentless battle of the ups and downs of life. During prolonged or extremely distressing events it is normal to have hope fade.  Even the spiritual heroes of the Bible have had moments of despair.

Consider the plight of David when he was on the run from King Saul. Or the Apostle Paul when he was taking the treacherous voyage to Rome, that left him shipwrecked and in fear for his life countless times.

What I find amazing is that during the challenging times these individuals were facing waning hope, they surrendered their will and self-knowledge for the unchangeable character of God.  They totally relied on God’s character of truth, and had faith that his word would prevail and come to be fulfilled regardless of the circumstances that they were in. You and I both can be certain that his word is reliable and never failing.

We have plenty of examples of his word being fulfilled through out history.  His word, the same word that spoke all of creation into existence has never failed to do whatever he sent it forth to do. You and I can take comfort in his word not failing and therefore hope cannot fail.  As long as he is God everything and anything is possible. He is God eternal.  Jesus Christ made a hope building statement when he said:

“With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26 NIV

 God specializes in the impossible.  Take a look at his track record. He started with the impossible when he brought creation into existence! He rescued three men from a hot burning furnace when they were thrown alive into it.

He rescued his profit Daniel from the lion’s den. He delivered millions of Israelites through the Red Sea. Among his crowning achievements is raising the dead, and he will duplicate this on a massive scale sometime in the future, with the rapture.

So, we can take comfort and encouragement that the God of creation who has done the impossible in the events of humanity, most certainly has not changed. What problem do you face that is unsolvable for God?

He cares about us and when despair overwhelms us, he wants us to turn to him and communicate our worries and fears and place them in his care.

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” 1Peter5:7

Our faith and hope have to go beyond our feelings and mental optimism. It is grounded on the solid assurances that while we may not see clearly our life and events on the timeline as God can, we can know that his word will not fail in his promises to us.

He has made it abundantly clear how things on this planet will be restored and how pain and suffering will cease. Our intimate relationship with him will be restored forever.

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Revelation 21:5 NIV

His promises to us originated in the Garden, that his creation and mankind would be restored to its intended purpose, that he intended all along. He has promised us an ending to all pain, suffering and death.

Just as the one-on-one fellowship with Adam and Eve once was, it shall be again.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Revelation 21 3,4 NIV

Truly as believers and followers of Jesus Christ we can take comfort and hope! Hold On Pain Ends

Biography:

Eugene Coghill is a contributing writer at Faith Filled Family Magazine, and the creator of Kingdom Living, www.eugenecoghill.com a Christian based inspirational blog. His achievements have included two published novels, Love Is A Fishnet (2008) and A Loving Deception (2020). He is in pursuit of a freelance copywriting career with American Writers and Artists, Inc. and is a member of the Professional Writers Alliance.

Some past careers have included the United States Marine Corps, law enforcement, corporate investigator, and is currently a professional driver (tractor trailer) for Walmart. Inspirational speaking, especially to troubled youths has become his growing passion to share his own story of overcoming a very abusive and challenging childhood.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why Me? Why Not Me?

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28 NKJV

Admittedly, I have lived long enough to be set in my ways. After witnessing enough of the unexplainable things in life, it is only natural to ask, Why? I have struggled with exactly how all things work together for good among believers when I see so much tragedy, evil and seemingly unexplainable bad things happening around me to seemingly good people.

Note that in the above verse God does not say that all things are good, but rather that all things work together for good. There are plenty of examples of bad things working out to become good in the overall plan that God has in mind.  As a matter of fact this very moment his plan for good to come about is taking place even though there are bad things happening daily.

While it is not good to see bad things happen to good people, it can also be equally horrendous to see good things happen to bad people. We have all heard it numerous of times: Why would a God who is all-good, all knowing, and all powerful allow bad things to happen to good people? The opposite of this question is: Why does an all good, all knowing and all-powerful God allow good things to happen to bad people?

As humans we are extremely inquisitive and have an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. Not surprisingly we want to know reasons for what makes our world work. Because we are intelligent beings its natural to question God about the things that do not conform to our understanding of how the universe works.

Our paradigm is the lens through which we filter all of our experiences and understanding.  God however operates outside of time, space and matter, and he has declared that his ways and thoughts are different from ours. That is almost inconceivable for us to understand and grasp.

We are so indoctrinated into believing that if we are intelligent that God must think on the same intellectual scale that we operate.  That is just not true.

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:9 NKJV

Are all bad things a direct result of personal sin?

 Often it has been said that when bad things happen to people, regardless if they are Christian or not that it is a direct result of their personal sins.  Jesus actually addresses this question in the New Testament.

First of all, we have to look at this through the lens of a fallen world that has been cursed because of sin.  The world at large is cursed, and not just mankind.  We underestimate the significance of what happened at the fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and the consequences of a cursed creation.

Remember when God created the earth, all was in perfect order before the curse. Ever since the curse, everything has been out of order and spiraling fast into utter chaos, from the sickness and death of humans and all the animals to the natural disasters that wreak havoc across the earth. Even the global flood was judgement that literally changed the climate and land topography that we are experiencing today.

Even the smallest of events that take place have an effect somewhere on the planet.  There is a well-known study called the Butterfly Effect, which states that if a butterfly flaps its wings on the other side of the world that a ripple effect will culminate to something happening on the opposite side of the planet. This theory has not only been applied to weather events but also to events that take place in life.  Reference Article: Understanding The Butterfly Effect by Jamie L Vernon. (American Scientist)

The bible gives a few examples of such. These events are not necessarily because of individual sin. Jesus cites a specific event that though tragic was not brought about because of their sins.

Jesus recalls this:

There were present at that season some who told him about the Galileans who blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And Jesus answered and said to them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on who the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.”  Luke 13:1-5 NKJV

 With the events of modern times, I would have questioned: Why 9/11, mass shootings, devastating hurricanes and other natural disasters?  Jesus does not specifically state that because of the sins of people that bad things happen.  It is very true that we do bring upon ourselves consequences because of sin. Our cursed fallen world effects every living creature, and it is heartbreaking to see.

I often look at my little dog, a Yorkie named Albie and I am saddened to know that even though he brings me so much love and joy, he will succumb to the curse of death. It’s painful to know that we all are under a curse that we cannot escape.

However, during natural disasters even babies are subjected to the terror of death and destruction. There are some moral laws and principles that are fixed and operate equally to all mankind.  It is just as natural as sowing and reaping.

Sowing and reaping is not just for agriculture but also for mankind. It does not discriminate. The fixed laws of God operate without respect to person.  For example, if a pastor and an atheist jump off of a 20-story building, both will be subjected to the fixed law of gravity, and the results will be tragic but equally applied to both. Yes, God can choose to supernaturally intervene, but he is not obligated to change the fixed laws that have been established.

So, it is with our lives in this world.  The events that took place in the Garden of Eden and the subsequent curse set in motion things and events that are impacting us at this very hour and will reverberate into the future.

Do we have a misconception of evil and its purpose?

While I was doing some research for this article, I wanted to get to the root of and address some of our misconceptions and our presumptions about the things that go wrong in our world. To get a better understanding of this we need to take a look at the different types of evil that is present in the world.

Natural evil and disasters.

I think we often forget that this planet is a cursed place to live.  We are literally born into an environment that is inherently cursed. It was not originally created as such but was subjected to the curse that was brought upon it because of sin. In the book of Genesis, a lot of things happened between the creation of man and the fall of man.  Would it surprise you to know that evil was already present at the time of the creation of Adam?

On top of all this we have the natural calamities of devastating weather, earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis, etc.  The earth was severely altered by the judgement of the global flood and we can still see the impact it had on our planet and how it still affects our geological system.

Some have asked, “If God is such a good God why doesn’t he stop all the evil and sin?”  He can at any time, however, to do so that would mean wiping us all out in a moment.  He would have to start with us. It was with Adam and Eve’s free will of disobedience that introduced sin to the human race. The earth was cursed specifically and as a direct result of that act and we have continued on in their transgression and disobedience.,

“The earth is also defiled under its inhabitants because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore, the curse has devoured the earth, and those who dwell in it are desolate. Therefore, the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men are left.” Isaiah 24:5,6 NKJV

We are immoral sinners living in a fallen world that is under a curse which means that natural evil is everywhere. So, we have a planet full of sinners trying to coexist and survive, colliding with each other in malfunctioning relationships and marriages, friendships and rivalries that escalate into strife and wars, and man made calamities.

However, because of free will, God’s love is demonstrated in allowing his creation to have free will.  He allows his creation to have free will knowing that they can choose evil.  He allows his creation to do whatever we choose to do including choosing evil, knowing that he can redeem it. The greatest test of someone’s love is to give them a choice of not loving.

Would it shock you to know that God who created evil actually allows evil to work for his purpose?  He does not impose or instigate evil but will allow it, so as not to violate the free will of man.  Surprisingly God takes full responsibility of the existence of evil.  He does not try to hide it.  You would think that God would not want to reveal that he has full knowledge of the effects of evil on this planet and his creation, but he does.

I had a hard time with accepting that God created evil.  I thought: What possible explanation would he have for doing so?  Surprisingly enough evil has its place in carrying out the purposes of God. Only God can make all things work together for his purposes.

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28 NKJV

One great example of evil working for God’s purpose is in the story of Joseph. As you may recall Joseph’s own brothers, kidnapped him and sold him into slavery.  He was eventually enslaved in Egypt and through some fascinating events became a ruler only second to Pharoah.  There was a great famine in the land and Joseph was so well liked that he was given the responsibility of storing grain so that all of Egypt and surrounding territories could have food and survive the famine.

His brothers, and the entire family were also impacted by the famine and heard that there was grain in Egypt.  The brothers had to go to Egypt and face the very brother that they had sold into slavery.  In summary, through Joseph, the entire family was saved and eventually moved to Egypt.

While the brothers thought selling him into slavery was the triumph of evil, God allowed it to happen to bring about a victory of good. Furthermore, the entire tapestry of the family movement into Egypt set up the events that would play out over several hundred years. God was orchestrating the entire event and allowing the evil action to work for his purposes.

God did not stop the evil. He did not restrain the famine. He most certainly could have but chose not to because it was working for his purpose.  That is a hard concept for our minds to grasp. But time and time again it shows up throughout history, and the greatest example of this is the redemption of the human race brought about through the torture, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

“But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring about as it is this day, to save many people alive.” Genesis 50:20 NKJV

Moral Evil

Moral evil is personal, internal spiritual wickedness, sin and transgressions. This dominates the human race and has so saturated us that it literally exists inside of the heart of every human.  We cannot escape it because its genetic code is part of our DNA. It replicates every time another human is born.  So, I find it interesting that while we do our best to be good and describe ourselves as such, God has a different description of our condition.

As it is written: “There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one.” Romans 3:10-12 NKJV

 The first time I read that verse many years ago, I was surprised that such an indictment of the entire human race and the condition of each one of us was so accurate.  None of us are walking around with t-shirts that say “I am evil at heart” but make no mistake about it, the person you wake up next to, the person in line at store and the person who stares back at you in the mirror is inherently evil.

Mankind is driven by lust that produces sin, evil and death. We live in a world, that is full of people who are evil and sinful at our very core.  We may not like to hear this assessment of ourselves, but it is true just the same.

I was surprised to know that the heart of man has ongoing thoughts of evil.  Even while we are smiling and saying nice things, our dormant thoughts are saturated in evil.  I mean this was God’s assessment shortly after we were created.

Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. Genesis 6:5 NKJV

 Even though the judgement of the global flood came, sin still hitched a free ride on the Ark and set sail into the new world.  Sin disembarked and has been thriving inside each and every one of us until this day.

We have to keep in mind the things that are working against us in this world, and some of it begins with us. It is literally the sin that resides in us.

Supernatural Evil

We must have a full understanding that there is a demonic spiritual force that intervenes into the affairs of mankind. They were created at the time of creation but were not created with the corrupt evil nature that they chose to become.  The Bible tells us that a third of the angels chose to rebel and take on their demonic nature and be led by their leader Satan.

I was shocked upon reading about the origins of Satan, that he was created perfect and was residing in heaven with all the other angels. God had created him with free will, just as he did all of us. Satan freely decided to not be in subjection to God or obey his ordinances.  Moreover, he convinced a third of the angels in heaven to join him in the rebellion. (Does this sound similar to the created perfection of Adam and Eve, who then chose to disobey God?)

They now have access to the spiritual realm and direct access to the world and planet we live on. They are sometimes allowed to influence our lives by God’s oversight, as in the life of Job, Peter, Paul and a few others. They have a temporary delegated sovereignty to this planet.

Satan has the right to rule over the world system, because it was surrendered to him in the Garden of Eden when sin was allowed to invade the hearts of mankind, through the disobedience of Adam and Eve.

The life of Job, a righteous man, is a fantastic story of what God allowed Satan to do in an effort to mock God. Satan asked God for permission to ruin his life, yet not kill him. Job suffered such losses personally that it would be humanly understandable if he were to be angry and blame God. His family was killed, he loss all of his wealth, and his physical health was damaged, yet he did not blame God, but instead yielded and acknowledged the right for God to give and for God to take away.

Satan has access to this earth and its inhabitants, but he is only permitted to do so much and is under the restraints of God.  As such, evil will befall people without just cause. It may be Satanic in nature or initiated by him, but most certainly even that is under the direct supervision and control of God.

“in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience,” Ephesians 2:2 NKJV

 “Now the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out.” John 12:31 NKJV

The expression of “the devil made me do it” does not absolve mankind of our guilt or our sins.  However, it is true that our fight is not so much with each other in the physical world as much as it is with the spirit world that is behind the person or persons that we encounter daily.

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12 NKJV

 God calls the shots over everything both evil and good.

“Now see that I, even I, am He, and there is no God besides Me; I kill, and I make alive; I wound and I heal; Nor is there any who can deliver from My hand.” Deuteronomy 32:39 NKJV

 These are tough words to hear from a God we think of as only dealing in love.  But if he was not totally in charge and in control over every detail of creation, we would have a problem. Time and time again God takes full responsibility for the evil that happens in the lives of mankind on the earth, because he causes it to serve his purposes.

He permitted no one to do them wrong; Yes, He rebuked kings for their sakes, saying, “Do not touch My anointed ones, and do My prophets no harm.” Moreover, He called for a famine in the land; He destroyed all the provision of bread. Psalm 105:14-16 NKJV

 God does not run or hide from bad press that has been associated with him. He has been blamed for all the bad things in the world, and he unequivocally knows that it is all under his control, carrying out his will and purposes.

God is holy, and good but he is content to leave the responsibility for evil’s existence and its action with himself. Evil is no disruption to the purposes of God. Astonishing is the fact that God wills evil to exist, and he actually tells us this point.

“I form the light and create darkness: I make peace and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.” Isaiah 45:7 KJV

 The first time I read the above verse I had to go back and read it a few more times, slowly to make sure that I was reading correctly.  Even multiple translations say essentially the same thing. The total unwavering sovereignty of God demands that he be in total control of and have full knowledge of the existence of evil.

 Is there a reason for all the bad things that happen to us?

 Our limited ability to understand God and his ways leads us to ponder and to try to make sense of the things we cannot adequately explain.  We can only vaguely glimpse into the reasons that things happen.  Because so much is beyond our expectations of normal, we are baffled and sound hopeless with excuses that do not satisfy our intellect, or our moral understanding of good and evil, right and wrong.

However, knowing that the condition of mankind is sinful, evil and the earth is cursed, along with a relentless demonic spiritual force, it should be no surprise that bad things will affect us all at some point in our lives.

We will have to be content to know that whatever evil God has allowed to happen in our lives, that he has the ability to let it run its course for our good, his purpose and ultimately for his glory. Evil will not be forever except in hell itself, where it will be unmitigated, and poured out on unrepentant sinners, the devil and his angels.

For the same God that has allowed the free will of Adam and Eve to bring evil, sin and death onto mankind has declared a day when all things shall be renewed to its original state in keeping with his original purpose for creation.

“And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:4 NKJV

 In the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world. John 16:33 NKJV

 Biography:

Eugene Coghill is a contributing writer at Faith Filled Family Magazine, and the creator of Kingdom Living, www.eugenecoghill.com a Christian based inspirational blog. His achievements have included two published novels, Love Is A Fishnet (2008) and A Loving Deception (2020). He is in pursuit of a freelance copywriting career with American Writers and Artists, Inc. and is a member of the Professional Writers Alliance.

Some past careers have included the United States Marine Corps, law enforcement, corporate investigator, and is currently a professional driver (tractor trailer) for Walmart. Inspirational speaking, especially to troubled youths has become his growing passion to share his own story of overcoming a very abusive and challenging childhood.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Your Destiny Is Designed For His Purpose

“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28

Twenty-four hours a day, every day, an unexplainable tragic event happens, or the unexpected happens without an explanation as to why.  Often, we try to make sense out of the things that we see happening in our world.  We offer our best reasonable context of why things happen to appease ourselves and others.  In reality often times we do not know why or what the explanation is for the events that shatter our lives, our families, our world.

It is hard to contrast the above verse with the suffering, hardships and heartaches that assault each and every one of us from time to time.  It is difficult to see any good from tragedies that have dealt so much pain. When we see war, hunger, political strife and worldwide destruction and devastation, we begin to wonder. What is going on, and why does this happen? How many times are our plans for our lives interrupted, and suddenly we find ourselves heading in a new direction that we never had in mind?

If I were to say that there is a reason or purpose for every event that happens, it would sound harsh, cold and uncaring. Yet I am not the one who says that there is a time and season for everything under the sun. Let’s take a look at the source that says that exact same thing.

“To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven:” Ecclesiastes 3:1

 This popular verse connects to a full chapter of all the different events for where there is a time. It lists in great detail all of the events that will confront mankind throughout his time on earth. I find it interesting that no one is exempt from the things that life will bring.

It does not regard, status, wealth or power. All shall endure these things. If a loved one, friend or family member is lost in a car accident, the pain of loss is felt just as much by the person who is rich, as it is felt by the person of little means. One’s status does not and cannot prevent tragedies.

To be honest, I sometimes have questioned God about the unfairness of life, as it seems. Could it be that we are seeing things out of context? The key to understand the mystery of how all things can work together for good is found in the verse itself. Let’s take a closer look at the prerequisites of having all things work together for our good.

To whom is the verse addressing and what are the specific conditions?

to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”

God has very specific plans and purposes for all of creation and especially the human race. We are the focal point of all his dealings on earth. In his sovereign will God has declared some things and he will not take back his word. His will and purpose on earth will be carried out, regardless of anything that may seem to deter it otherwise.

As humans we have a tendency to want to have absolute control over every aspect of our lives, and sometimes even the lives of others.  It is hard to relinquish control to someone else, mostly because we do not trust others to have our best interest at heart.

In the above verse, God has made an interesting promise of a certain outcome in the lives of those who love God and are called according to His purpose.

There are numerous examples and stories in the Bible of this unique promise being fulfilled in the lives of people. While reading the bible, I have been fascinated with the details of people’s lives and how they fit into the bigger picture or puzzle that God had designed by purpose.

To the average person it is hard to make sense of injustice and hardship as a means to a better end. Yet countless times God has used the most painful circumstances to bring about his purpose. One powerful example is the collection of stories that involve Abraham, Isaac, Joseph, Moses, David, Noah and a host of others all the way down the line to Jesus Christ.

In a brief summary God had promised Abraham a long time ago that his descendants would be numerous. He promised that they would be His chosen people and that he would bring them into an inheritance of land. He declared that in their lineage a savior would come to save untold numbers of people from their sin, and that this savior would establish a permanent government in righteousness.  The entire scope of the bible is the detailed revelation of just how that decree is unfolding, this very second.

The people mentioned above all had the same thing in common.  They all loved God, and they all were called according to His specific purpose.

What about you and I? How do we fit in this larger picture of God’s purpose?

 There is a saying: “If you want to make God laugh, just tell him your plans!”  The bible is full of accounts of people who thought that their plans for life would unfold in exacting details. It details the story of ordinary men, and women who did not have ambitions or a thought of making a mark in world history.

It highlights a teenage girl named Mary, who only wanted a normal love that would end in marriage to her fiancée Joseph. Yet we know just how her life was interrupted to deliver a child who was none other than Jesus Christ, the savior of the world.

Imagine a man just trying to have a normal life and love God in the middle of a corrupt world, who gets a message from God that the earth will be destroyed by a worldwide flood.

Further instructions from God state that he is to build an Ark and bring in animals and his own family into the ark as they will be the sole survivors of planet earth! The man named Noah is a worldwide hero and savior of humanity, because of his act of obedience to circumstances he did not fully understand.

How about a man who is kidnapped by his brothers, sold into slavery and shipped off to another country? How fascinating is the story of that slave who was used by God to secure the survival of the very family and brothers that sold him into slavery? This was the unforeseen destiny of Joseph.

Consider the life of Moses who killed a man and fled Egypt in exile. While tending sheep he has a most unusual encounter with a burning bush, just to find out that God almighty is going to send him, on a mission to tell the King of Egypt to release the slaves, cited above.

Can you imagine making the return trip back to the place you ran from as a fugitive and having to boldly confront the King? That was the plan God had for Moses.

All of these people from different backgrounds had love for God in common.  All of these people were called by God, for His purpose.  Keep in mind that their relationship with God did not exempt them from the hardships or uncertainty of life.

They all had personal issues to deal with. However, God in his wisdom was able to use the hardships and uncertainties of their lives to accomplish his purpose.

God has not changed his overall purpose for mankind, nor has he changed his specific purpose for your life and mine.  Whatever you are experiencing in life, God knows every detail and with your current circumstances he can bring about his purposes and plans.

Imagine how encouraging these words were to the prophet Jeremiah:

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.”  Jeremiah 29:11-13

Every detail of our lives can be used for God’s purposes even though we do not fully comprehend how. It is hard for us to imagine any good purpose coming out of tragic events or hardships. But yet God has demonstrated over and over again, that our lives are used to accomplish things that are beyond our capability.

Could a slave have imagined that he would be positioned in the country of his captivity to bring about the survival of the very brothers who sold him into slavery?  Yet over time as those events played out, he realized that God had orchestrated the circumstances in his life to bring deliverance of his entire family!

Joseph acknowledged that God had placed him in Egypt by means of his captivity to be the means of survival, for not only his family but the entire land of Egypt, from the severe famine. Truly, only God can manipulate our circumstances for his purposes. Joseph realizes this and tells his brothers that their deeds, which they intended for evil, was used instead for good.

“But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.” Genesis 50:20 NKJV

 I would encourage you and I to seek the vision of God for our lives when we find ourselves in situations that are extremely hard to understand.  Just know that God has plans for our lives in according to his promise to us.

Even though we do not see clearly the entire plan, ultimately it is designed for our good and to bring us into our destiny that he has prepared for us. Our job is to have faith in his promises to us, regardless of what our circumstances are.

Your life’s circumstances are part of His purpose for your future.

 “Moreover, whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.” Romans 8:30 NKJV

 I admit it is sometimes difficult to see how all of the events in our lives fit together for a bigger purpose.  Especially when at times we feel abandoned in our darkest hour of pain and despair.  However, God uses all of these circumstances in our lives, to not only bring us into his ultimate plan for our good, but to also shape our character in the process.

Imagine being told that you have a bigger purpose and calling for your life, and that to fulfill that purpose, you will have to have a complete makeover. That is precisely what God does with our lives. He skillfully and with great patients, refines our character by using our circumstances to bring about positive change necessary for His purpose.

Countless stories in the Bible show the process of God getting the attention of ordinary men and women.  After getting their attention, he orchestrates events that will test them and refine them for a bigger purpose than they could ever have imagined.

As I take a close examination of my own life, I am beginning to see events from the past that were absolutely necessary to shaping my character.  Some of those things were most certainly painful, and I did not fully understand why.

My own sins and bad decisions sometimes were the cause of the pain.  And with the pain I wised up to make better decisions and become a better person. I am still a work in progress. God is in the reconstruction business of our lives that in the long run will benefit us and bring him glory. Ironically, when our lives are in harmony with his purpose, we will find much more personal fulfillment.

Consider the story of Paul the apostle. The life of Paul is a powerful example of God using extraordinary and painful circumstances to accomplish His predetermined plans and purpose.  Paul did not have the complete picture of what he would experience for the cause of Christ. He did not know the extent of suffering he would endure to complete the task God had prepared for him.

Paul’s life was interrupted in dramatic fashion by none other than Jesus Christ, while walking on a road going to a town called Damascus. His initial reason for going to Damascus was to persecute the early Christians that had formed there and bring them to justice.

In summary his encounter with Jesus Christ made him blind for three days, revolutionized his thinking and set him on a lifelong trajectory of unspeakable suffering and faith building boldness, that has helped the Christian movement ever since.

All of his circumstances and life of suffering, God used and even orchestrated to further the gospel to countless people. Through his many trials, the faith of many were strengthened, and we are still talking about him this very day.

At the lowest points of Paul’s life, he felt despair and utter abandonment by God.  However, as his journey took him to places to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ, he began to realize that it was all part of God’s plan and that his life had been repurposed for such.

You and I also are subject to being used by God and having our lives be repurposed for his glory.  As Christians the sooner we understand and accept that our lives have been bought and paid for by Jesus Christ, the better we will be at allowing him to fulfill his purpose in us.

Peace comes from letting go of total control.

 Over the years I have come to a point in my life where I have realized that I am not responsible for every outcome in my life.  It has not been easy, but with time I am learning that my job is to do what I know to be right and let God be responsible for the results.

Our personal lives will have more peace and calm if we do not try to control the storm, but rather trust the only person who can deliver us in the storm. You and I are bombarded with many instances where we try to control and direct a certain outcome.

We get very frustrated when our best efforts fall short. It’s in our nature to be in control of every aspect of our lives. But were we designed this way? Do we expect our children or infants to be in control of every aspect of their lives while under our care?

Just as parents are responsible for the survival and well-being of their children, God is responsible for our lives. Doesn’t God know exactly what we go through and what is needed for our basic survival? He makes it very clear that he cares about the details of our lives and has promised that he is in control and is responsible for our survival.

Until he has completed his purpose for our lives, he is directly responsible for our survival.

I read about this powerful principle in the life of Paul.  Jesus Christ had ordained Paul to be a witness for Him and to travel to many countries to proclaim the gospel to both Jews and Gentiles, before Paul’s conversion.

Listen to what was spoken concerning him: But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.” Acts 9:15,16 NKJV

 With that decree from Jesus Christ, Paul’s mission could not fail regardless of the horrendous circumstances he would find himself in. With time and after many tests and trials by fire, Paul began to have unshakable faith that Jesus Christ would guarantee his mission to preach the gospel, just as it was spoken.

His confidence grew to the point that because God had ensured his arrival to the other countries, to preach the gospel, he became the instrument of survival for others who were on the dangerous voyage with him.

His boldness in moving forward wherever God would send him was strengthened by the following words:  But the following night the Lord stood by him and said, Be of good cheer, Paul; for as you have testified for Me in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness at Rome.” Acts 23:11

 The voyage to Rome was treacherous, and they became shipwrecked. There were other prisoners onboard the ship and for fear that they would escape, the guards wanted to kill them all, to include Paul who was also a prisoner. However, for the sake of Paul, the Guard officer (centurion) would not allow them to do so.

They literally loss everything except their lives. All of these events were the orchestrated hand of God to ensure that Paul would get to his destination and serve the purpose that God had predestined him to do.

So, consider your own life’s circumstances. Can you see tiny glimpses at how your life may be divinely guided for His purpose?  He is directly responsible for your survival until it is accomplished.  Because of his covenant promise to you, he can counsel you with these words of wisdom:

“Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” Matthew 6:26 NKJV

 “For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” Matthew 6:32,33 NKJV

Giving up total control of our lives and allowing God to handle our circumstances can be the best thing that ever happens to you and me.

Biography:

Eugene Coghill is a contributing writer at Faith Filled Family Magazine, and the creator of Kingdom Living, www.eugenecoghill.com a Christian based inspirational blog. His achievements have included two published novels, Love Is A Fishnet (2008) and most recently, A Loving Deception (February 2020). He is in pursuit of a freelance copywriting career with American Writers and Artists, Inc. and is a member of the Professional Writers Alliance.

Some past careers have included the United States Marine Corps, law enforcement, corporate Investigator, and is currently a professional driver (tractor trailer) for Walmart.

Inspirational speaking, especially to troubled youths has become his growing passion to share his own story of overcoming a very abusive and challenging childhood.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If Loving You Is Wrong…I Don’t Want To Be Right

 

“And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

1 Corinthians 13:13. NKJV

 The title above was made popular in a song by Bobby Womack. It was a controversial lyric to describe an adulterous relationship.  Love takes on many forms and is just as powerful even if it is in the wrong context.  It causes people to do the unthinkable as an expression of love toward the other person. We spend most of our lives trying to chase and find the right love.  We also spend untold amounts of time and money to validate the love we give and receive.

Amazing that we run, blindly sometimes to find love, when the greatest love surrounds each of us all the time.  It is a love that we cannot escape from, nor can we hide from it.  It is a love that seeks us out even if we are not looking for it.  It is a love that we most often take for granted, because it does not look or behave anything like the love idols, we see on the movie screen.

We have been conditioned to make love fit into our limited description of what it should feel like and what it should behave like.  That expectation may be one of the greatest contributing factors for the lack of satisfaction regarding love.

With people it is pretty clear to expect that there is a limit to their expression of love.  Because we have these expectations with people, we often put those same limitations on God’s love towards us. In our mind and on the surface of our thoughts we casually think that God’s love for us is unfailing and unconditional.  But do we have a deeper understanding of this in our hearts?  Do we have proof?

Nowhere is this dramatic expression of love more evident than the love God has for his creation and more specifically, you and I. We see his most dramatic evidence of love towards the people of Israel, and it serves as a reminder of just how far the love of God goes.  All of the dealings with the children of Israel was just the tip of the iceberg of the unending love God has for us.  His climax of love for us was revealed in Jerusalem on a hill just outside of the city, where is only son, Jesus Christ willingly laid down his life for us.

“Greater love has no man than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.”  John 15:13 NKJV

 What does God’s love towards us look like?

There are not enough books to tell the complete and unending story of God’s love towards us.  However, we can look at the many instances God has loved countless people throughout the ages, especially Israel.  As we do, keep in mind that God has not changed, will not change, and the exact same love is available for you and I today.

 “And because He loved your fathers, therefore He chose their descendants after them; and He brought you out of Egypt with His Presence, with His mighty power, driving out from before you nations greater and mightier than you, to bring you in, to give you their land as an inheritance, as it is this day.”  Deuteronomy 4:37-38 NKJV

 When I read the bible, I am always amazed at the amount of love and tolerance God had towards his people.  He did not excuse any of their sin or tolerate their disobedience, but all of his dealings with them had love as the ultimate goal.  A love that was designed to prove to them that he was a loving father to them and that he had their best interest in mind.

He wanted them to fully trust in him, and to accept his love for them.  Of course, in returned he wanted their love and loyalty to him.  He wanted their full devotion and did not want them turning aside to other things that would take their attention and love from him.  He went to great lengths to demonstrate his power and desire to protect them and guide them as a loving father.

 

I was fascinated at how many times Israel messed up, time and time again and disregarded the many acts of love God had showed them.  The countless examples of his unwavering love for them are staggering.

For forty years he led them, protected them, fed them, gave them water, and literally fought their battles against enemies who were greater in numbers and far more powerful.  He was steadfast with his love for them even knowing that they were stubborn and hardheaded.

As a father to Israel, his love for them mirrors that of a father to his children. I am so grateful that he also serves as a father to the fatherless, and motherless, such as the case with me.  “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.” Psalms 68:5 NKJV

Not only did God love them, but even when they were wrong and repented, he quickly embraced them as his dearly beloved.  His love for Israel is just one of many examples of his love for you and I.

The elements of God’s love.

 “Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trust, always hopes, always perseveres.” 1 Corinthians 13 4-7 NKJV

 Throughout history we see the many attributes of God’s love.  The above verse outlines those things that we admire most in others who love us.  “Love is patient..”  For certain that if you interact with your significant other or family member long enough you will be tested in the area of patients.  How we respond in those moments is a measure of our love toward that person.  Note what God says our response should be. “Love is kind..”

If a moment of impatient arises, it can only be met with kindness to bring calmness to both you and the other person.  For example, if you are in a check-out line at a convenience store and an elderly woman is slowly moving to get her things checked out and pay for her order.

Your hurried lifestyle and desire to get moving quickly, because you are running late for work, can create instant attitude of impatient feelings. In that moment a kind word towards the woman can ease her mind and ironically ease your mind as well.

Has God been patient with you when you needed it the most?  Did he bestow undeserved kindness which put you at ease?  In our personal relationships being both kind and patient is translated to loving our partners. Your partner will be more at ease with your response if you are not rash, but rather graceful with your response, and your ability to bear with their shortcomings.

It does not boast, it is not proud..”  Sometimes in our pride we feel the need to emphasize our stand as being right, or arrogant.  Most of us don’t even realize how it comes across to the person we are speaking to.  There is a power struggle that our egos wrestle with constantly.  In truth, those who have real power have no need to boast or proclaim boldly their position.

I can think of no other greater servant of humility than Jesus Christ.  In our personal relationships, letting the other person know just how right we are is mostly self-serving.  It has taken me a while to learn that I do not always have to prove my position to others.  Humility in yourself or your partner is a desirable quality that makes you more loveable and attractive.

“It does not dishonor others; it is not self-seeking…”  Admittedly, I along with the rest of the human race am a selfish individual.  I have seen it rise up from time to time and with total abandon of others, get my own way.  I am not proud of it, but it is the truth. In our personal relationships, selfishness can be devastating.

Even in small ways it can hurt.  Just the opposite, however, can convey loving thoughtfulness to your partner.  Just a small gesture can make a real difference.  Something like, asking your partner if they want anything if you are going to the kitchen or refrigerator.

If you are out running errands and you stop to get a coffee or cold beverage; what a loving and unselfish act to call home and ask if he or she needs or wants anything.  Better yet why not surprise them instead.

“It is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs…”  God most certainly sets the example when it comes to being slow to anger and keeping no record of wrongs.  His dealings with Israel are proof and there is no more powerful statement of record keeping than what he says about our sins. “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”  Psalms 103:12 NKJV

 Now compare that to what we sometimes do in relationships.  Do we give as much grace to others and forgiveness that God gives to us?  It is a known fact that in our personal relationships our memory of past deeds done to us by our partners is the fuel to ignite another argument anytime, anywhere.

How many times have we looked at our partner is dismay and see the anger and hostility and we ask them, ‘where is this coming from?’  I dare not say how you can forget, because we do have the ability to remember.  It has been said that you have not truly forgiven someone if you keep acting as if the offense was committed recently.

To truly forgive you must treat the person as though the offense never occurred.  Once you have spoken the words of forgiveness to your partner about an offense, you forfeit the right to bring it up again.  It is easier said than done, but with prayer and the help of the Holy Spirit it is not you that is doing the forgetting but rather God in you.

“Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.”  When dealing with our loved ones or significant other, we cannot honestly project a spirit of love if we secretly are wishing them evil and harm.  The two are incompatible. Wanting the best for our loved ones should always be at the forefront of our thoughts.  One of the most reassuring things we know about God is his unwavering love towards us.  We can never accuse him of delighting in our destruction.

“For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign Lord.  Repent and live!”  Ezekiel 18:32. NKJV

It is because we know he loves us steadfast that we are drawn to him.  You want your partner to come to you regardless of what they have done, and feel free to open up their heart and soul to you.  Only a history of your steady love for them makes this possible.

“It always protects, it always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”  God protects us in ways we cannot imagine, and, in many instances, we are not even aware. When it comes to our personal relationships, we too should strive to protect our loved ones not just from physical harm, but from emotional and psychological harm as well.

Giving your partner trust is a great sign of love that has a long-lasting effect.  That is also why it is so devastating if it is broken. An example of protecting is to be mindful to keep your personal relationship guarded from outsiders.

Many well-meaning people have set fire to relationships with gossip that was leaked from a partner.  We should be mindful of how hurt a loved one will be if their personal intimate details of a relationship gets into the wrong hands and is repeated.

With the speed of social media, whatever is said a minute ago can be around the world with the click of a mouse.  Imagine the untold numbers of people who would form an opinion without any knowledge of the character of your loved one.

Perseverance or going the distance with another human being is both rewarding and challenging.  It can be extremely rewarding because you both will grow and change in many ways.  Staying, adjusting and understanding the many changes that life and relationships will bring, makes for an even stronger bond than if one throws in the towel after round one.

Are there instances when it will be impossible and not healthy to continue? Most certainly.  But the rewards of perseverance and the deeper understanding you will have for your partner and your self cannot be replaced. They are earned in the trial by fire of life’s many changes and challenges.

God demonstrates his love towards us with his longsuffering.  As a matter of fact, his longsuffering is designed to win us back to him because of his patients.  The parable of the prodigal son is a great example of such love.

All of these attributes combined is a remarkable picture of God’s love for us.  It is the structure of how we are to love one another, and especially our close personal relationships.

What are you feeling?

 I would imagine if you are anything like me, that there are times when you have doubts about God’s love towards you.  We have a tendency to associate love with our feelings, so it is easy to not feel what we think is love.  But is that really true?  Is God’s love toward us based on whether or not we feel it?  Some things are constant regardless if we see or feel it or not.

Right now, as I write this article it is nighttime, and the sky is dark.  But isn’t the sun still shining? I cannot actually see the sun, but I know it is on the other side of the earth, and that in about nine hours I will see glimmers of light as it brightens the sky.  So, it is with God’s love.  It is always ever present regardless of our ability to actually feel it.

We can be assured of his presence and thereby his love, through our interactions with other people.  When people display the characteristics that was discussed above, that is a direct expression of his love.

We also have assurance by what he has told us about himself and his love for us.  His word is a treasure trove of his love, wrapped up in the stories of his love for Israel and a host of people down through the ages.

How do we access or tap into his love?

 Have you ever felt really lonely?  Like nobody cares or nobody loves you?  I know and have known this feeling.  It is in those moments when you need reassurance that only God can give about his unfailing love for you, regardless of your circumstances.  I have found that even though I do not feel like it, praying and literally asking God to show me his love is a powerful tool.

It isn’t long before his love shows up in the most unexpected ways.  Reading his word is also a means of access to his love, mercy and grace.  It is by reading the examples of others who have experienced it first-hand that we have confidence of how he loved others, he also loves us.

Regardless of our feelings, we are never far from God, because he has promised that he will be forever near us.  He is our silent invisible caretaker that uses anything at his disposal to reassure us of his love.  The vow he made to Moses is just as valid in our lives.

“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deuteronomy 31:8 NKJV

 And Jesus Christ declares: “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.” John 14:23 NKJV

 As Christians we are the eyes, ears, hand and feet of God on earth.  It is through us that he loves others.  He has demonstrated and modeled the way we are to love others by the way he loves us.  We are to go and do likewise.  Though we are not perfect, he will help us to love others as he has loved us.

So, now we can remove all doubt regarding if we are loved or not. We have nothing less than the direct word of Jesus Christ, written in red, that we are loved by him and God the father.  You cannot be anymore loved than that!

Biography:

Eugene Coghill is a contributing writer at Faith Filled Family Magazine, and the creator of Kingdom Living, www.eugenecoghill.com a Christian based inspirational blog. His achievements have included two published novels, Love Is A Fishnet (2008) and most recently, A Loving Deception (February 2020). He is in pursuit of a freelance copywriting career with American Writers and Artists, Inc. and is a member of the Professional Writers Alliance.

Some past careers have included the United States Marine Corps, law enforcement, corporate Investigator, and is currently a professional driver (tractor trailer) for Walmart.

Inspirational speaking, especially to troubled youths has become his growing passion to share his own story of overcoming a very abusive and challenging childhood.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interview with cancer survivor Ginny Dent Brant-Unleash Your God-Given Healing

Ginny Dent Brant author of her new book, Unleash Your God-Given Healing, grew up in the halls of power of Washington D.C. She has served as a counselor, educator, wellness advocate, and adjunct professor. She served as a trustee of the Baptist International Mission Board for eight years, and she and her husband participated in mission work in Yemen, Gaza, the Czech Republic, Russia, China, and Romania. Brant is the daughter of Harry Dent, a successful political strategist who was wrongly implicated in the Watergate scandal and later converted to Christ.

His story is the subject of Brant’s award-winning book, “Finding True Freedom: From the White House to the World,” which was endorsed by the late Chuck Colson.

Award winning author, speaker and breast cancer survivor Ginny Dent Brant gives fascinating insight into her personal journey of discovery, learning and healing that took her from the deepest despair of her diagnosis to a glorious victory and healing.

Faith Filled Family Magazine is thrilled to present this interview with Ginny D Brant. She gives readers an inside look at her life as a Christian, her cancer diagnosis and an inside look at her new book, Unleash Your God-Given Healing.

Her deep faith and tenacious thirst to be fully engaged with her treatment has taken her on a unique journey that she shares with the rest of the world.  Faith Filled Family Magazine was delighted for her to share her thoughtful and sometimes humorous, insights on “the book she didn’t want to write.”

Faith Filled Family:  I read in the first chapter of the book, your positive outward appearing attitude when you were first beginning to get the details of your cancer.  I think it’s something we all initially do when facing the unknown.  Can you describe how you processed those feelings of “this is not a big deal to this is a life threatening and life changing event?”

Ginny D Brant: “When it appeared, I thought my journey would only involve surgery and a bit of radiation, I was reasonably calm. When I was told the next week that my cancer was aggressive and every weapon including chemo would be brought out to save my life, my concern escalated.

What drove me to my knees was when a surgeon showed me my MRI scan. It looked like a tornado had invaded my body. I was devastated! The surgery did not concern me as much, but chemotherapy was the one thing in life I never wanted to experience. However, I was told by three doctors at three different cancer centers, I would die without it.

That’s when I realized I was in a life or death situation. Quite honestly, my greatest fear was the chronic pain and disability I might experience if I survived. My husband and I both breathed a sigh of relief when my second opinion at Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) felt my cancer might not be stage 4. It was not easy reading the pages of side effects and signing consent papers for chemotherapy under the words ‘side effects including death.’

When CTCA introduced me to the nutritionist and the naturopathic doctor who would both be a part of my team to get me through the treatments, I felt much better. A more holistic approach to treating my cancer gave me solace in my long journey.”

 Faith Filled Family:  I am often amazed at the little oddities and subtleties of life that take our lives in a totally different direction.  Have you ever thought about what the possibilities could have been if your ring had not gotten tangled in your nightgown and you would not have brushed against that bump on your breast?

Ginny D Brant: “Since I was not the type to do self-breast examinations, which I now highly recommend, my sister claims it was the providence of God. And I wholeheartedly agree. With an aggressive cancer like mine, early detection is even more critical. My doctor detected no lump three months earlier. So, nine months later could have made my journey far more difficult. I look back now and know that God used that ring entangled in my nightgown to save my life.”

 Faith Filled Family:  In a lot of ways your optimism as a self-diagnosing doctor sounds like something I would say to keep my emotions and fears at bay.  When you told the mammogram technician that it was a fluid filled cyst, was that meant to mask your fears, or did you truly believe that it was very benign and that the test would confirm your diagnosis?

Ginny D Brant: “Fluid-filled cysts were a part of my past. I already knew that I had none of the risks for breast cancer because it did not normally run in my family for several reasons: I wasn’t overweight; I didn’t smoke or drink alcohol; I never took birth control pills or estrogen hormones after menopause; and I breast-fed all of my sons for two years!

I genuinely believed the tests would confirm that all was fine. I didn’t consider myself at risk for this cancer. My message to women is with one in eight women being diagnosed with breast cancer today, we are all at risk. Therefore, we must be proactive and put a breast cancer prevention plan in place.”

 Faith Filled Family:  I read in your book how Alton your husband held your hand while waiting for the second opinion of the doctors in Chicago.  You recommend holding hands whether in love or fear.  That was very touching and a universal emotion for us all who go through trauma.  It sounds like a moment of sheer survival when the only person to lean on is each other.  How comforting was that moment to know that Alton was going to be with you every step of the journey?  How has this experience strengthened your relationship with each other?

Ginny D Brant: “It’s important in the cancer journey to sense love and acceptance in the midst of the journey. But knowing that he would be impacted by what happened to me was a concern to me. What’s important is that he loved me unconditionally through the fears and all the waiting, through many surgeries, and through the loss of every hair on my head and body.

It goes beyond hand holding while waiting. He held my hand through the entire MRI and when I lost my hair, he told me daily, ‘You’re still the prettiest gal east of the Mississippi River!’ He’s a keeper, and I’ll always treasure the way he cared for me and lifted me up during the toughest years of my life.

My late parents would have been so proud to see he cared for their daughter. Every cancer patient needs this support because love promotes healing in our bodies! I didn’t have to spend any energy worrying about his love for me. He kept his promise . . . ‘for better or worse. . . through sickness and health.’ This is what marriage is all about.”

 Faith Filled Family:  I was quite surprised to read that the American Cancer society has said that one out of every two men will be diagnosed with some type of cancer in their lifetimes. My doctor has been trying to get me to get a colonoscopy test for the last ten years and I have refused, for one reason or another.  What would you say to someone like me who is in somewhat of denial about the possibility of getting cancer?

Ginny D Brant: “Cancer of the colon runs like a plague in my family. Both of my parents had it but were saved by routine colonoscopies. My siblings and I were informed at that point that we were all high risk for colon cancer. We all got our first colonoscopies around age 30.

Due to my family history, we all knew to be proactive, and polyp(s) found can be removed. Problem solved. Due to the rise in incidence in early onset colorectal cancer, the American Cancer Society now recommends these screenings for the average risk adult begin at age 45. Insurance generally pays for it, so I’d get one.

If a polyp is found early, it can easily be removed. The procedure itself is minimal compared to the preparation for the scope! Never forget, early detection is key for all cancers. It can mean the difference between only needing a minimal surgery to needing a radical surgery, requiring chemotherapy, and putting your life at risk.”

Faith Filled Family: You described that you felt like Dale Earnhardt Jr, the NASCAR driver at the end of the famous two-mile pole walk. Was that the beginning of the long road back to recovery?  What were your thoughts with each lap on the hospital floor? 

Ginny D Brant: “It was sheer determination. This cancer was trying to beat me, and I was fighting back by walking with each round. It felt good to move, and it relieved much stress.  However, my movement did far more than I expected.

It kickstarted my organs and pumped the anesthesia out of my system, prevented blood clots, oxygenated my entire body, sped up the draining of my breast tubes, and promoted healing throughout my body. It’s important to move as soon as able or permissible by your doctor after surgery.”

 Faith Filled Family: I really learned a lot from the section Food as Medicine.  I had always suspected that since God mentioned the various kinds of foods to eat in Genesis that it was in line with the specifications to give us optimal health.  After all he made us.  What if anything did you find surprising in your study of food as medicine?

Ginny D Brant: “Genesis 1:29, God tells us that He has given us these plant foods to eat. What’s interesting today is that science now knows the exact chemical profile of each fruit, vegetable, nut, seed, and herb. They all contain phytochemicals, antioxidants and other nutrients which all promote healing in our bodies.

Sadly, I used to look at food as pleasure and ate only for pleasure. Now that I know the benefits of these amazing plants, I now eat as many plants as possible to enhance my health and promote healing. Unfortunately, most Americans eat only 2-3 of these gifts of nature, when the USDA tells us we need ten to thirteen servings daily.

What amazes me is that God provided these plants to keep our bodies healthy. The DNA in these plants complements and enhances our own DNA and promotes healing. This should encourage us to change what we eat. God knows best.”

 Faith Filled Family:  In chapter 6 of your book, I was surprised to learn that US dairy products are banned in Europe because of the things we inject our cows with.  Does it surprise you that our FDA doesn’t seem interested that if it’s bad enough to be banned in another country that perhaps we should consider another method of raising our cows? 

Ginny D Brant: “I’ve learned not to trust the FDA, the EPA, the CDC, or any government agency to protect my body. I am my own best advocate. All of these agencies have their strengths and benefits, but they are also influenced by government bureaucracy, lobbyists, Big Pharma, and profit-making businesses.

I’ll give the FDA some credit for banning some food additives recently, but so much more needs to be done. When people stop buying meat and dairy injected with bovine growth hormones, maybe things will begin to change. This is why I felt compelled to educate others.”

 Faith Filled Family:  During your research for the book, did any of your findings make you distrustful of our FDA or the food industry?  If so, how?

Ginny D Brant: “I do trust them in the area of prescription and over-the-counter drugs. They protect us by verifying the safety, efficacy and security of prescription drugs.

However, they need to examine more carefully the way crops are being heavily sprayed with pesticides, harvested and preserved with chemicals, and some foods injected with growth hormones.”

 Faith Filled Family:  In chapter 8 you mention the research you found on the correlation of emotional stress and trauma and the impact it has on your physical health.  It was eye opening for me because it made me take a look at my own challenging and traumatic childhood.  How has this knowledge helped you manage your own emotional life stressors? You also mention that your cancer experience brought you and your husband emotionally closer.  Explain.

Ginny D Brant “As a counselor for 32 years, I totally missed that emotional stress could have such an impact on my health. I’m generally good at handling stress, but the grief of caring for my parents and in-laws for nearly 15 years on top of a full-time job clearly had an impact on my health.

I was stuck in a tunnel of grief that I couldn’t get out of, especially due to my father’s Alzheimer’s disease, which lasted nearly ten years. I look back and realize for the stress and grief I was experiencing; I didn’t do enough to protect my body. In addition to daily exercise, I now use deep breathing techniques and other stress relief remedies.

My husband was my rock throughout the journey. I honestly couldn’t have done as well without his total support and unconditional love.  The trial of cancer only brought us closer.”

 Faith Filled Family:  It sounds like you employed a whole menu of different things working together to defeat your cancer.  I also was fascinated to learn about the correlation of those things to God’s word.  Which of the many things that was employed did you find the most surprising as to having a positive effect in the healing process?  Things such as music, sleep, laughter etc.

Ginny D Brant: “Again, it blows my mind all the advice given in the Bible in these areas. His Word clearly tells us to endure trials (Phil. 4:6-8) by praying about everything, giving thanks in everything, and focusing our minds not on the negative circumstances around us, but on prayer, gratitude, and the good things along the way.

What amazes me is that science now confirms that prayer, meditation, gratitude, and focusing on the positive “good things” in life all calm the emotional brain which promotes healing. In addition, music, laughter and sleep also promote healing in the body! God has graciously given us many remedies to get us through not only trials, but daily living.”

 Faith Filled Family:  One thing I found surprising was the correlation between your root canal and your breast cancer.  What was your discovery about that, and did it surprise you?

Ginny D Brant: “While getting my first whole body thermogram, the technician noticed a line of inflammation that began under my only root canal which cascaded down towards the area in my breast where my cancer was found.

My integrative doctor recommended I see her dentist in Tennessee, who also taught at the University of Tennessee Dental School. He informed me my root canal and tooth must be removed. Once healed, a follow-up thermogram indicated the line of inflammation was gone!

This doctor told me he sees this frequently—that a root canal can develop an infection not showing on an x-ray, but on the same side as the cancer. He said this infection kept my immune system under constant attack on that side.

Dental health greatly impacts the health of our entire body. Not every root canal does this, but we’d be wise to care for our teeth and keep them from getting cavities in the first place. My bad!”

 

Faith Filled Family:  You have been quoted as saying that this is ‘the book you never wanted to write.’  Can you explain that, and why?

 Ginny D Brant: “When dealing with my dilemma, I asked to meet with a chaplain at CTCA. When I asked, ‘How could a health nut like me get an aggressive cancer like this?’ He encouraged me to see my cancer as a gift from God for me to help other people because I was an author and a speaker.

My response, ‘No thanks. I don’t want this gift.’ I never wanted to speak about cancer or write a book about it. After researching for several years, I felt compelled to share what I’d learned to prevent others from going down this path. I realized that many people were making the same mistakes that got me on this nightmare of a journey.

‘I can see it now,’ the chaplain said, ‘Your book with these words on the first pages, This is the book I never wanted to write.’ And guess what words appear on the initial pages of my book!”

 Faith Filled Family: In your afterward you make a very powerful statement that really sums up the Christian hope and experience of the real world.  We as Christians are not exempt from any of life’s trials.  But as you so accurately described, ‘The difference is Christ in me—not me in a different set of circumstances.’ How has this experience transformed your thinking, and what would you say to those who think being a Christian automatically exempts them from the normal hardships of life?

Ginny D Brant: “If anyone lives long enough, they’ll discover that trials are a part of life. God uses trials and suffering in our lives to focus us on spiritual and eternal values. We generally don’t dig deep into our faith or His Word until the rug is pulled out from beneath us.

Cancer forced me to look up to God for help and guidance, look within and examine my soul and daily habits, and look around for any outside influences I needed to change. It’s true that when many people first experience a newfound faith, they expect that their problems will be gone.

Instead, He gives us the strength, wisdom and power to get through them. And He uses them for our good (Romans 8:28). Unfortunately, many Christians continue to believe, ‘I can do and eat what I want because I’m doing the Lord’s work.’ This thinking goes against what God tells us in His Word when He instructs us to care for our temples.”

 Faith Filled Family: This was quite the learning experience for me to read about your journey and victory over cancer.  No doubt this will be very beneficial to others.  While going through this experience had it always been your intent to write a book about it to help others?

Ginny D Brant: “It was never my intent. Like Jacob, I literally wrestled with God over it! I knew from writing my first book in 2010, the thousands of hours involved in writing and promoting a book, especially if you’re not famous. Honestly, I did not want to speak or write about his journey in my life.

The two combined made me say every time someone suggested I write a book to help others, ‘No way.’ But God eventually changed my heart and encouraged me to be open. My burden became, ‘I don’t want anyone else to go through this journey.’

My thinking turned to, “What if I could prevent others from going through this or help them through the journey?” When my book recently won a Golden Scrolls Award, it was confirmation that this was something God led me to do even though I didn’t want to!”

 Faith Filled Family: What was the writing process for this book like?  Can you describe your routine?

Ginny D Brant: “It was a difficult writing assignment because it involved so much footnoting and documentation.  I first began with research which lasted about two years. I read about 50 books by cancer patients, nutritionists, and medical experts.

I also studied everything I could find in God’s Word, attended medical and cancer conventions, studied medical research, and watched many medical interviews at online summits. Then I began to connect the dots. My writing and research kept me home quarantined when not traveling to medical and cancer conventions.

So, when the COVID-19 pandemic occurred, I was used to being at home! Because of the estrogen blocking pills, I was limited in how much I could write and research daily due to brain fog. This made the task far more difficult. Yet, I pressed on. Again, I didn’t want anyone to go through all this.”

 Faith Filled Family: I cannot imagine with all the things you were going through to have the discipline to sit down and write this book.  Did writing it become a source of therapy for you?

Ginny D Brant: “Honestly, it was not. My life would have been much easier if I’d just gleaned what I needed for myself, applied it, and moved on. To write in this way and do what I do now to mentor cancer patients keeps me in the cancer world.

Several friends cautioned me about this. I do feel joy in doing what God has called me to do—making others aware and helping them to prevent or get through this journey.”

 Faith Filled Family:  There is a ton of research that has gone into this book.  What would you tell other cancer patients who might feel like they are in the dark and overwhelmed by all the things that they need to be aware of?

Ginny D Brant: “I’ve already done the research for you. Simply read the book and you can look further into the footnotes for further verification and more information. This book gives you an easy to read starting point and answers many of the questions a patient might encounter.

Fortunately, God provided a wonderful oncologist who is also a major medical expert and researcher to provide commentary throughout the book. He tells how each of the steps would benefit the patient from the medical perspective.”

 Faith Filled Family:  In closing, reading about your experience and journey in the battle against cancer has been eye opening and makes me consider being more proactive about my own health.  What would you say to people to make them more aware and be engaged in their lifestyle and health choices?

Ginny D Brant: “With one in two men and one in three women now being diagnosed with one or more cancers in their lifetime, it’s best for each family to put a cancer prevention plan in place. We have plans of prevention for house fires, and only one in 3000 people have a home fire.

With one in two of today’s generation now projected to be diagnosed with cancer, prevention is the best option, so you don’t have to hear the words, ‘You have cancer.’ Our bodies encounter cancer cells daily, but our God-given immune system is designed to attack and defend—if we keep it working as God intended.

Prevention is the main reason I wrote the book. I honestly believe if I knew what I know now, I wouldn’t have gotten cancer. I also have a cancer prevention and wellness blog at www.ginnybrant.com where I continue to share new information.”

Faith Filled Family would like to thank Ginny D Brant for spending some time with us, giving us insight into her latest book. No doubt her courageous journey and inspirational message will have a profound impact on all who hear it. Faith Filled Family would also like to thank her publicist Gina Adams for facilitating this interview.

 

Biography:

Eugene Coghill is a contributing writer at Faith Filled Family Magazine, and the creator of Kingdom Living, www.eugenecoghill.com a Christian based inspirational blog. His achievements have included two published novels, Love Is A Fishnet (2008) and most recently, A Loving Deception (February 2020). He is in pursuit of a freelance copywriting career with American Writers and Artists, Inc. and is a member of the Professional Writers Alliance.

Some past careers have included the United States Marine Corps, law enforcement, corporate Investigator, and is currently a professional driver (tractor trailer) for Walmart.

Inspirational speaking, especially to troubled youths has become his growing passion to share his own story of overcoming a very abusive and challenging childhood.   eugenecoghill@msn.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Gospel Simplified, What To Say, and How To Say It

The Gospel, Simplified: Offering God’s Answer To Man’s Problem

“How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? Romans 10:14

What is the most important thing to occur in any person’s life? Our culture may answer that question with any number of things, from getting married, or having a child, to landing the dream job and career, to having a secure and healthy retirement.  All of these things are noble achievements to want. But does it describe the ultimate most important thing that is to take place in a person’s life?

Throughout my life there have been a few times when I have heard the news of the death of a friend or acquaintance and occasionally a family member. Immediately after the obligatory “Oh, I am so sorry to hear of your loss”, my very next thought is “Was this person saved? Did he accept salvation through Jesus Christ?” In some instances, I have even asked a friend or relative of the person directly.

Sometimes the emotions that come from not knowing the answer to that question sticks with me for a few seconds.  In one case of a family member, I had seen the deceased a week before his passing and replayed in my mind my interactions with him about approaching the subject of salvation. The uncomfortable feeling of not knowing for sure if I had engaged him about the most important decision of his life weighed on me.

If you are reading this article right now, you are alive, and on course for the most important event to take place in your life. The sobering reality for each and every one of us is that there is an appointment that we must make on time with our creator God. “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.” Hebrews 9:27-28 NKJV

The Message of The Gospel: PRAYER

Prayer is the first thing that must happen before sharing the gospel. You will need the guidance, wisdom and boldness of the Holy Spirit on how to engage the heart that is prepared for the gospel. Furthermore, keep in mind that you are not the one responsible for salvation, you are responsible for sharing the good news about salvation. In the early church the apostle Paul prayed for the opportunity to share the gospel with others.  He writes: “meanwhile praying also for us, that God would open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in chains, that I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak.”  Colossians 4:3,4 NKJV

Prayer prepares your heart as well; in that it puts you in a peaceful state of mind knowing that you are being obedient to what God has commanded you to do.  Even if a person refuses to hear what you have to say, remember that they are not rejecting you personally, but the word of God on the matter of their salvation. They are rejecting your message about God for them.

Prayer also helps to prepare the heart of the person who is listening. Recent events including the global pandemic and national turmoil has more and more people asking, “Why is all of this happening?” Increasingly, more and more opportunities are available now than at any other time to share the gospel to people who actually want to hear the answer to that question. At this very moment God maybe preparing a heart that is open to hear the salvation message of the gospel. It would be wise to pray for a prepared hear that needs to hear the gospel to intersect your path, by the divine will and purpose of God.

Keep in mind, however that everybody is not willing to hear what you have to say. As a matter of fact, one’s heart cannot understand or respond unless they are ‘drawn’ by God’s spirit.

“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.” John 6:44

The Dilemma And Challenge For Every Christian

 Sharing with others your Christian faith can invoke feelings of gladness and excitement, and intimidation and fear.

 As Christians there is a peace and security in knowing that we have salvation that comes only from Jesus Christ. That is the good news. The bad news is; however, we also know that there are people around us who do not have salvation, some of these people may be our own loved ones, family and friends. Our love for them may bring a sense of uneasiness knowing that their eternal fate and destiny is at stake.

That same love should compel us to want to share with them the transforming power of the gospel, the ‘good news’. Whether we like it or not we have a mandate to share the gospel. That mandate comes from none other than Jesus Christ himself.

Some may wonder if we are to evangelize and share the gospel as an ongoing part of the Christian experience.  In a word, yes.  Here’s why.  We as Christians are in fact ambassadors for Christ.  We know that God’s purpose of Christ is to reconcile the world to himself through Jesus Christ. Currently you and I are the ambassadors, still called to carry out the original mission of sharing the message of God reconciling the world to himself by Jesus Christ. Clearly the ministry of reconciliation is a part of every believer’s calling. 2 Corinthians 5, 11-20

What do we share?

It is very important that we understand exactly what it is that we are sharing and why we are sharing it. There is a lot of news both good and bad that is being piped every day into the homes of millions of people. In truth some of the news is indistinguishable. Some of the news is merrily a rerun or repeat of yesterday’s news. So, is it any wonder that people are a bit turned off from yet another person claiming to have ‘good news’?

The gospel is very distinctive in that it highlights the entire summary of God’s plan for mankind.  It presents the problem that mankind faces, and it presents the solution that God has put in place to solve it, and the benefits of accepting God’s solution.

The basics of the Christian gospel, or ‘good news’, is the imminent coming of the Kingdom of God. It is the saving act of God due to the work of Jesus Christ who died on a cross to pay the full penalty of our sins. It was established as acceptable to God by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, which brings reconciliation between mankind and God.  Simply, we as mankind are guilty of sin. That sin separates us from a Holy God.  God demands that sin be punished.  God loved us so much that even though we got messed up really bad with sin, that he determined according to his purpose to reconcile us back to himself by Jesus Christ. Jesus, willingly paid the ultimate price that God demanded for the cost of our sin.

That price was none other than death on a cross, for every human that has every existed.  As a promise of accepting that his death fully satisfied the price to be paid, God raised Jesus up from the dead, and was restored fully back to life.  “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16 NKJV

The very heart of the gospel is telling the truth about how God has the plan of reconciling sinful humans back to a holy God by accepting the completed and finished work of Jesus Christ.

How do we share it?

 No doubt the thought of telling others about the love of God and his plan of salvation for individual lives can seem and feel intimidating.  But it does not need to be so.  Have you ever told some good news to your friend or loved one who you really care about and was excited to share it with them?

As Christians we have the best news, we could share with anyone because it is the answer to some of life’s most difficulties, and it solves the most basic human flaw that we have.  It promises a future that we can only imagine.  Perhaps the way we share this good news is the barrier to us actually telling more people about it. So let’s explore some methods and evaluate their effectiveness and cite some examples of real world experience.

Church Attendance and Sermon

Perhaps the most common introduction to the gospel may have come by way of hearing a sermon preached at a church.  Certainly, for many that was where the first notion of the gospel was introduced.  It typically is a preacher who uses the Bible and highlights the condition of the sinner, the Holiness of God, the punishment for sin, and the answer to being forgiven and reconciled back to God. Countless people have surrendered their lives in this manner.  Great evangelical preachers are very effective at preaching the gospel to the masses.  Sounds great and that is but one of other methods that can be equally as effective.

Small Groups and Discussions

The intimacy of small groups can be so inspiring to watch and participate in.  In small group settings of like-minded people where there is a welcoming and inviting atmosphere, people have a tendency to open up themselves more and let their guard down, when they know they will not be judged, or treated as an outsider.

When it comes to sharing the gospel, this is a great environment to connect heart to heart with people and share ideas about the gospel and to ask and answer questions. A lot of honesty can be generated in small group discussions about the gospel and the impact it can have on a person’s life.  Plus there is the added support of like-minded people who have the same goal of helping each other in their spiritual journey, and who are willing to pray, read and explain the scriptures for clearer understanding.

1 ON 1, Heart to Heart

 I have found that we as people have far more in common than we are different.  Taking the time to actually talk to someone you know very well and have an ongoing relationship with or friendship will open up doors to a heart that no other channel can do.  First and foremost, the other person needs to know how much you care about them, and not how much you know.

Your reason for connection with them has to be grounded in real love for them personally.  You must have a burning desire for the outcome of their spiritual journey.  People can easily tell if you are not genuine and sincere and they will not listen with an open mind.

Your one on one conversation is not to exploit your Bible knowledge or scripture recital, but to have an honest conversation about who they are and what their perceptions of God and Jesus Christ are.  It is the time to convey empathy for where they are at in their life and offer the gospel as the solution.  You are offering the solution of hope to help them in this life here and now and the eternal rewards in the future.

I personally love heart to heart conversations, and they can be easily initiated in just about any setting and it does not necessarily have to be long and engaging.  Sometimes just a few engaging thought-provoking questions is all it takes to get the conversation started.

Real World example: As a young Marine many years ago, I was a wild child who was a modern day prodigal son. The freedom of being away from home and overseas was thrilling and exciting and I took full advantage of the sinful lifestyle my youth would indulge.  Little did I know that God had other plans and that my life was orchestrated to meet three other Marines one Friday night while I was drinking at a bar on the island of Okinawa Japan.

These three Marines of lesser rank than I, were committed to sharing the gospel and love of Jesus with anyone who would hear, drunk or sober! A subtle non-threatening approach and a couple one liner jokes got my attention, because they were not like other self-righteous religious folks I knew.

Their approach disarmed any defenses I had because I could tell that they were very sincere and actually cared.  They shared the gospel, very straight forward and told the truth of God and let the word of God do the talking. I could not argue with them because it was not their words, but rather God’s words.  Short brief and right to the point, a hug and a pamphlet and they left.

They had effectively planted a seed or seeds that God would use to grow in my heart over the next several weeks.  And God also used very specific circumstances to get my attention about the seriousness of the gospel and the eternal implications.  I am forever grateful for the short heart to heart conversation by one of those three Marines, that led to my personal salvation! For me this is by far my favorite method to engage others about the gospel.

Other Methods and Techniques

 When it comes to sharing the gospel, we must remember that everyday life presents opportunities to demonstrate the love of God through us, so that we can have the chance to converse about the hope that is in us that makes us act the way we do.

Grocery store encounter: A small act of kindness can be the difference for a stressed-out mom who is juggling a screaming child and shopping with too little cash at the register.  What an impact it would be if you have the means to offer to pay the difference for her, with no strings attached.

How about going even a step further and asking to assist going to the car and help her load them.  An act of kindness can open the door to more conversation to why you would help her, or a quick opportunity to give a pamphlet or explain that someone is helping you daily to get through your struggles of life.

Bus stop encounter: While it may be difficult to get people to disengage from their smartphones at a bus stop, there will no doubt be one or two who want to do anything other than stare at a screen before going to work to stare at another screen for eight hours.

A simple smile and pleasant conversation can warm up the awkwardness that takes place among strangers.  If it is a regular daily commute to work, no doubt you will see the same faces.  So be the person that they are glad to see every morning or evening and begin to ask how their day was and how they are feeling and then really listen.

Share a small detail about your day or your personal life. Gently ask a probing question about your own curiosity about life.  Perhaps an open-ended question with a touch of humor like, “Have you ever wondered what God is thinking about while we are here waiting for the 705 bus?”

And then explore the answers from their point of view, then explain what God says his thoughts are about us.  “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  Jeremiah 29:11 NIV

Offer to explain later during the week what exactly those plans and hope for the future are.

What if I mess up?

 Some fear of sharing the gospel with others comes from our perceived inadequacy to say all of the ‘right things’.  The gospel is the best thing ever heard to the prepared heart.

Most people can relate to the intimidation Moses must have felt when God asked him to deliver a not so nice message to Pharaoh, King of Egypt.  But consider this; prayer opens the door for your message to the right heart that is ready to receive it.

Preparation and practice is your best defense against getting tongue tied, or stumbling over words. Our love of people and their need to hear the lifesaving message of the gospel should inspire and motivate us to “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15

We should strive to know the simplicity of the gospel message and how to convey it to anyone. It is far more important that people hear God’s words and not our own. We are to demonstrate love, while speaking the truth.

We are admonished to be prepared to give an answer to anyone who may be seeking. “But in our hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.  But do this with gentleness and respect,” 1 Peter 3:15 NIV

End with Prayer

 As it was in the beginning very important to pray for your ability to be effective in sharing the gospel with a prepared heart, prayer is also the closing acknowledgement that the person hearing the gospel is ready to take the next step. In a quiet alone setting if possible, offer to pray with the person and lead them through a simple prayer that has them acknowledge the following:

That they are a sinner in need of God’s forgiveness.

That God has made a provision and paid the penalty for sin in Jesus Christ.

That God has accepted the death of Jesus Christ as the payment for their sins.

That God has guaranteed the payment and their acceptance of his payment, by raising Jesus Christ from the dead.

Simply ask that Jesus will come into their heart and live with them and that they will surrender their lives to him as Lord.

Some ongoing follow up will be needed, and it is important to let the new believer know that this is the beginning of a new way of thinking and living, and that it is a lifelong process of regeneration of the heart and mind.

And just like any other newborn baby, they are experiencing for the FIRST time being BORN AGAIN, which means that nurturing and growth are a natural part of the new life.

You should also be equally committed to praying for the new believer so that he or she will be strengthened and encouraged to seek their heavenly father as they begin this new journey that will give them an eternal home with the Lord.

 

Biography:

 

Eugene Coghill is a contributing writer at Faith Filled Family Magazine, and the creator of Kingdom Living, www.eugenecoghill.com a Christian based inspirational blog. His achievements have included two published novels, Love Is A Fishnet (2008) and most recently, A Loving Deception (February 2020). He is in pursuit of a freelance copywriting career with American Writers and Artists, Inc. and is a member of the Professional Writers Alliance.

 

Some past careers have included the United States Marine Corps, law enforcement, corporate Investigator, and is currently a professional driver (tractor trailer) for Walmart.

Inspirational speaking, especially to troubled youths has become his growing passion to share his own story of overcoming a very abusive and challenging childhood.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Conversation With God

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Dear Lord this is Eugene the man you created and transferred my soul from eternity to time. You gave me a uniquely prepared custom made body.

Oh, I recognize you as God of all creation heaven and earth I humbly come to you in this hour at this moment for a one on one conversation. 

It is you and you alone that I owe my life and allegiance to. Let me thank you for sustaining me let me thank you for your mercy grace and love that you have bestowed toward me.

My disobedience and sinful ways you have covered in grace and forgiveness. 

Keep me mindful that I am one day closer to you calling me back into eternity.

And if this should be my last day, let me honor you with it by the way I treat others.

Let my life be an open book, not so others can see me; but rather so they can see you.

For I come to you and the world with all of my faults, flaws, sins, and frailties.

Because you have the power to turn a mess, into a message. To take my mistakes and turn them into ministry.

You can take the shame and turn it into happiness, you can take sadness and oppression and turn them into joy and delight.

You have made Kings and Warriors out of timid men. The proud and arrogant, you have humbled publicly.

Let me be mindful of your purpose and your will for my existence.

Reveal my heart to me, so that I may know the good the bad and see a new spirit in me.

Yes, I want your many blessings even though I do not know what I should ask for. You know exactly what is best for me so I trust and leave it to you.

Give me a heart of obedience, and then my joy will be complete.

Teach me to see others through the eyes of love and compassion as you do.

I declare my old disobedience and arrogant ways that have brought unpleasant things to my life, let them be swapped for your compassion for me for you are the God of second chances.

I invoke your wisdom instead of my own education and knowledge.

Strengthen my faith and trust in you in the areas of my life where I have doubts.

Help me to reveal clarity to those who misunderstand me.

Let me walk forward with faith and trust in you, especially in those moments when I clearly don’t understand the what or the why.

Make me remember that I can only see the moment that I am in, whereas you see my entire life from the moment of birth to the very end. 

I can only see one small piece of a very large puzzle. You have all the pieces and you alone are in charge of assembling them all together to reveal what you had purposed in your heart for my life all along, since before I was born.

Remind me to trust you more than I trust myself. Amen

It’s time to ride Jesus. Take the wheel, buckle up, let’s roll.

Virtual and Real Relationships: A Balancing Act

“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 1Corinthians 10:31

IMAGINE that you are about to eat a tasty piece of fruit but then notice that a part of it is rotten. What will you do? Well, you could eat the entire fruit, even the bad part; you could throw away the entire fruit, including the bad part; or you could cut the bad part out of the fruit and enjoy the good part. What choice will you make?

In some ways, our relationships both virtual and in real life are similar to the fruit with some bad spots. Our virtual relationships offer a fun and sometimes exciting escape from reality and serve as a safe space to vent our thoughts with nobody to physically challenge us or to judge our immediate actions. Our online connections can satisfy us in surprising ways and allow us to do things that were only science fiction many decades ago.

While the enticing effect of being online, on our smartphones, in the various chat rooms, and social networking platforms can engage our mental senses, the same vice as it were can slowly disengage us from the real world.  How easy it is to have several hours go by while we are glued to our computer screens or smartphones.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) estimates that the average child spends seven hours a day looking at a screen, be it a cell phone, computer, TV, or another electronic device. The average workday is eight hours. It is astonishing that our children spend almost an entire workday of time watching a device and being engrossed in virtual reality. Is it any wonder that today’s youth may be irritable, moody, restless and ready to have an emotional outburst?

It is so tempting as parents to hand your child, a smartphone, tablet, or any other electronic gaming device to keep them entertained. But could a better choice be made to stimulate their fragile and developing minds? Could adults take a step back and look at the pros and cons and effects of our virtual reality experience and strike a healthy balance of real-world connections?

The purpose of this article is not to bash the use of electronic devices, or the technological advances that allow a more connected world, but rather to educate and inform of the potential challenges and risks and find more creative alternatives to stimulate the mind and have engagement in the real world that is equally as fulfilling.

How has technology impacted socialization within the family?

We are living in a fast pace and ever-changing world. The entertainment, personal recreational, and communication strategies of the 1960s are vastly different from what we are experiencing today.  Almost overnight we went from a world of four-day snail mail to instant global communication. We transformed from Sunday drives and family picnics to individual personal space and ‘me time’ on our devices.

In an era where there can be miles of physical separation between members of a family on any given day, technology has the effect of keeping them together in ways that were not possible 30 years ago.

Our smartphones can allow parents to keep track of children and reassure them instantly if they should need us.  They can go to their exact location very quickly in the event of an emergency.  When they go off to college, we can have ongoing communication and interaction with them via Facetime, Facebook, or with any number of various social media apps. We can update grandma and share pictures instantly of the kids, or the family dog.  For those who have to be away for extended periods of time such as military members, with only a computer and a good internet connection we can feel connected while thousands of miles away in another country.

Recently the world has experienced a pandemic that changes the way we communicate and interact with each other due to health concerns and safety practices. These changes mandate that we rely more and more on the technology that has the ability to bring us together in a global virtual reality.  We are now increasingly expected to adhere to social distancing guidelines and yet stay just as connected as we have been in the real world. This has proven to be the new challenge of reality that is not yet fully understood.

Technology has allowed us more ways to communicate and connect, while at the same time creating far too many opportunities for us to be isolated and disconnected from each other. Interestingly enough, these effects equally apply to adults as well as children.

What is the impact of virtual relationships vs reality-based relationships?

I for one, have long been an advocate for one on one communications and personal interaction with other human beings.  It is rather frustrating in a sense to believe that one may consider virtual relationships are more intimate than a one on one, person to person relationship based in reality.  Oddly enough, this new reality of screen time with family and friends seems to be taking a major foothold in our society. More and more people seem to be resistant to actual telephone conversations and face to face interactions. Texting has become a mainstream form of communication, especially with the generations who are not baby boomers.

Are we filling voids that may be lacking in our real-life relationships? Are we reinforcing our comfort zones?

A virtual relationship does not mean that it is unreal. It simply means that it is developed in a virtual world, and with online platforms such as, Facebook, Skype, texting and Whatsapp.

One of the things that make virtual relationships so attractive and somewhat easier to get started and maintain is it provides a safe space to share your thoughts and ideas. It’s even more alluring when the person on the other end of the screen does not know you, may not judge you. Some virtual relationships allow you to maintain a sense of connection and attention that you seek and crave in the real world.

It can be liberating to reach out and connect to someone in a way that is non-judgmental and may not require a commitment of any sort. These types of virtual relationships and style of communication can reinforce themselves over time.

Could it be that virtual relationships lets us off the hook for the real work and skilled communication that is required in our real-world relationships? Virtual relationships have no responsibilities attached to them.  With just the click of a mouse, you can delete or block the other person and never have to interact with them again.

This is not so simple in the real world, especially if family is involved.  For the shy or timid person, a virtual relationship can be the perfect answer to their fear of personal engagements. However, this can lead to a real avoidance of real-world relationships and communication and hinder the growth that is needed to fully develop as a healthy whole person, confident in their social skills. Christians however have the confidence that is grounded in faith.

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Phillipians 4:13 NKJV

What are some precautions to consider?

 Some may be tempted to push the boundaries of conversation and communication that they otherwise would never do in person.  Anonymity is the liberating curtain that one can hide behind to express anything to anyone. In a family setting even during a heated discussion, one might filter what they say so as to not emotionally devastate the other person.

 There is real work involved in any relationship and or communication.  These relationships, especially in the real world get messy and require a lot of sorting out and a commitment to communication with great listening skills and understanding.

Extra care is needed to have a clear concise and well-articulated conversation online.  It is so easy for the person on the other end of a message to misinterpret what the sender was saying. These misinterpretations can have negative consequences.

There is a danger of neglecting or taking for granted some of our real-world relationships.  It comes very slowly and subtle.  We are indeed social creatures, as God has created us to interact with each other and with him.  “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:29

There is a danger of putting more time and attention to our virtual relationships than our real ones.  Today, more than ever we have to be vigilant at balancing our time in both worlds.  Our work environment most recently may have required us to shift to working from home instead of the office and that will also may mean even more screen time. Remote learning is now an alternative to the dangers that may exist in a school classroom due to the pandemic.

We need to keep in mind that our real relationships are value-driven, and center around what we deem to be important. Virtual relationships can revolve around any past time, subject or common interest.

The Health Benefits Of Connection

 It has been long known that diet, sleep and exercise contribute to healthy living. But did you know that there is another component that has equal impact on our overall health?

Research has shown that having a strong social connection can have many health benefits.  Also, on the opposite scale, a lack of social connection can have a negative impact on our health in surprising ways.

Real human connections and the behavioral influences that result from them can be so powerful that they have given rise to an area of study called “network science,” which explores how behavior and behavior changes influence connected groups of people.Glenn D. Braunstein, M.D., Contributor Huffington Post

 The studies have shown an interesting effect on people who shared a common goal activity or goal.  For example, one landmark study on obesity published in New England Journal of Medicine in 2007 found that having just one friend who becomes obese can increase a person’s chance of becoming obese by 57 percent, and that weight gain isn’t only influenced by a person friends, but by the friends of friends who have gained weight. Most any member of the highly successful Weight Watchers program will tell you that a key motivation and reinforcement tool of the program is weekly meetings with other like-minded people who are also losing weight.

The real life in person social network and its benefits cannot be overstated enough. It not only affects the speed of adopting new habits, but also the degree to which those new habits are instilled. Our real-life connections can contribute to our well-being, with just the physical presence, and nobody would disagree that a well-timed good joke can send an entire room into an uproar of laughter.

While a text with ‘LOL’ can convey an intended funny moment, a stomach hurting, tear forming laugh, leaves no doubt in the mind of the hearer in the real world. How interesting that science is confirming what the Bible has spoken of long ago. “A merry heart does good like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones.” Proverbs 17:22 NKJV

Scientists are investigating the biological and behavioral factors that account for the health benefits of connecting with others. For example, they’ve found that it helps relieve harmful levels of stress, which can adversely affect coronary arteries, gut function, insulin regulation, and the immune system.The health benefits of strong relationships – Harvard Health

Having a strong social network provides a huge range of benefits.  It can make all the difference to have someone you can count on to watch your kids, pick something up at the grocery store, or someone to talk to when you have had a bad day.  (Journal of Health and Social Behavior) Peggy A Thoits June 14, 2011

Some interesting findings suggest that a close connection has the same benefits regardless if it is strictly in a family setting or within our outer circle of friendships and acquaintances, however maybe to a lesser degree.  (Antonucci, Akiyama, & Takahashi, 2004)

There is a sense of relief in knowing that one is not alone in the event of the unforeseen. Is it not better to have a friend close by, than a brother far away? “Do not forsake your friend of your family, and do not go to your relative’s house when disaster strikes you-better a neighbor nearby than a relative far away.”  Proverbs 27:10

Pros of Virtual Relationships

 Stress free: Virtual relationships are relatively stress free because they do not require or demand much effort from people other than the time to log online and type comments.  A few clicks of the mouse and you are suddenly communicating with someone else, without the back and forth emotional engagement that is associated with real world relationships.

No intimacy: No physical intimacy can make online relationships less intimidating.  In a professional setting, negotiating online rather than in person face to face is far easier to manage than the usual etiquette demands that are required in a real-world setting.

Time saving:  A simple click onto the computer or a phone call can allow for conversation as long as you want and frees up time to multitask and do other things.  This is not possible in a real-world conversation as you are expected to give the other person your undivided attention.

Cons of Virtual Relationships

 Interesting enough some of the things that support the pros of a virtual relationship can also work in the opposite manner.

No physical presence: The importance of physical presence cannot be overstated. Hundreds of studies support the many benefits of social engagement in the real world.  We are hardwired for interacting in the world where we can actually see, feel, touch, hear and experience our existence and the existence of others.

Addictive: Most gamers can attest to the addictive aspect of virtual reality. If left unchecked and unmonitored it can be a driving force that consumes your life. Also, because it is so comfortable to maintain a virtual relationship, some people actually prefer it over real in person connections.  It becomes increasingly more difficult for some people to handle real life relationships. No doubt this can be a destructive force that can tear a family apart and put a wedge between the person who is addicted and their loved ones who are seeking more and more of their attention.

Cyber crimes: It is no secret that a significant level of fraud, scams and false identities takes place online. It is a growing problem on a global scale. Extra care must be taken to beware of other people online who may not be who they portray themselves to be.  This is especially important regarding children. There are some who will use the innocence of children or teenagers and engage them online for criminal purposes or even sexual exploitation.

The internet allows us to shop from the comfort of our homes and provides a measure of convenience. Ironically that same measure of shopping freedom serves as an easy platform for criminals to use in separating people from their hard-earned money. Countless stories abound of people who have been scammed out of hundreds and thousands of dollars because of unscrupulous online predators.

There are many benefits of our connected world from instant communications to online shopping on a global scale, and it allows us to experience each other in a totally new and different way.  The best of both worlds can be achieved if we are aware of the dangers of going to the extreme and make a strong effort to have balance in our lives of the virtual and the real world. “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.” 1Corinthians 6:12

Biography:

Eugene Coghill is the creator of Kingdom Living, www.eugenecoghill.com a Christian based inspirational blog. His achievements have included two published novels, Love Is A Fishnet (2008) and most recently, A Loving Deception (February 2020). He is in pursuit of a freelance copywriting career with American Writer’s and Artists, Inc. and is a member of the Professional Writer’s Alliance.

Some past careers have included the Unites States Marine Corps, law enforcement, corporate Investigator, and is currently a professional driver (tractor trailer) for Walmart.

Inspirational speaking, especially to troubled youths has become his growing passion to share his own story of overcoming a very abusive and challenging childhood.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book sample 2 chapters: A Loving Deception. Unedited version.

A Loving Deception

By Eugene Coghill

 

CHAPTER 1

The black and white tabby cat, named Sylvester, was licking its paws when he heard Wanda’s approaching footsteps.  He lifted his head and quickly scampered out into the hallway, knocking over the bowl of milk.  Wanda was startled to see him run by her so quickly, as he had seemed very lethargic over the past several weeks.  Upon entering the kitchen and seeing the milk on the floor, she wondered why he didn’t bother to clean up his own mess.  “I don’t know who you think you are but I’m not a maid to humans or animals in this house! You better learn to clean up and take out your own litter box!”  She chuckled at the idea of her talking to a cat, as if he really understood what she was saying.  It was early in the morning and her most favorite time of the day, when she could carve out some precious moments of solitude.  It was at this hour that she could collect her thoughts and reflect on what she had to do for the day.

Rarely could she devote more than twenty minutes sitting down to a cup of coffee and savor the time for herself.  She envied other housewives who would make mention of the special morning ritual and routines that made for a very tight bond in their families.  That certainly was not the case for Wanda Evans and John, her husband of five years.

She glanced up at the refrigerator to see the art drawing she had saved and cherished from her seven-year-old daughter Jasmine, who was killed in a tragic accident several years ago.  Even though the years had passed, she had always felt love from her daughter and at this moment, as she stared at the drawing, she smiled with contentment.  Even though she had her for a short while, the memories of her had become the solid rock in her life and she knew even if only for a brief time, what unconditional love felt like.

The vivid memories of Jasmine were the one part of the union that made it all worthwhile.  Jasmine was very energetic and seemed to have an endless curiosity about the world around her.  Even though Wanda loved the fact her daughter was possessed with the gift of energy, she wanted it to be harnessed from time to time, especially when out in public or while in the company of a stranger.  Wanda smiled, wondering just how many miles she had ran chasing Jasmine up and down the Walmart aisles when she first learned to walk, or rather run.  Sadly, it was the same enthusiasm for life that eventually caused her death.

The years of heartbreak over losing her child was a turning point that would forever define her.  After many months of depression, she knew she needed to rebound into life and begin to live again.  She carried the memory of Jasmine and slowly with each passing day, she embraced them as an extension of her soul.

Even now at the age of thirty-five, Wanda was highly attractive.  As she sat there in her pink bathrobe it revealed flawless skin underneath.  The years had been very kind to her, and she didn’t need the makeup cream that she applied to her face religiously every morning. It was only in her mind did the crow’s feet appear.  And the laugh lines that she thought were a permanent blemish served to make her even more youthful-looking.  Her daily routine of yoga, stretching and walking had kept her girlish figure for all these years.  She felt like the queen of the prom when men would whistle at her from afar and send flirtatious comments her way.  She loved the attention, as it reassured her that she still had what men wanted.  She didn’t want to admit that occasionally she had lingering doubts and that her self-esteem sometimes was lacking.  This was mostly because she longed for the attention and affection from her husband, which had somehow vanished with the passing of time.  She wondered if that was the norm for married couples until hanging out with a few of her married girlfriends seemed to prove otherwise.  She didn’t know what to do anymore to capture his eyes and lustful attention to her.  The credit card bills certainly showed that she had tried everything, to include Brazilian waxing, and hair and nail makeovers.  The closet and drawers were overflowing with sexy dresses and the drawers enclosed skimpy lingerie that would make any man pant with excitement.  Of course, any normal man would, except John.  Five years into her marriage with him and she was starting to feel like a widow.  Funny how she let her mind drift to the thought of being a widow, thinking that perhaps it would be more comforting than being in the same bed with a man who had died emotionally a very long time ago.

It was not only that John was becoming disconnected from her, but things had gotten very intense over the past six months.  First, it was very subtle with him coming home later and later, and seemingly in a constant bad mood.  Whenever she would ask about his day and what was wrong, she got the same sharp answer.  “Nothing, and why do you always insist that something is wrong with me?  Can’t a guy just get some peace and quiet and be left alone?  For heavens sakes, Wanda, you are getting to the point of annoying.”

It was a couple of days later when he came home with alcohol on his breath and an unfamiliar perfume on his collar that Wanda blew up at him about his behavior.

“Where in the hell have you been and why did you not think enough of me to call?”

“Wanda, please do not go there. Trust me I am not in the mood.” He said.

“In the mood? I bet you were in the mood after drinking so you could be with some bitch that left that perfume on you!  Who is she, John?”

“What are you talking about?  There is no who!”  John was feeling a bit nervous, and quickly he thought of what loose ends he had left untied.

“I am not stupid John. Do not play me for a fool.  I can smell the alcohol and the perfume all over you.  Now look me in the eye and tell me you have not been with some woman today.”  She stared at him hoping she was not right but knowing her instincts had not let her down before, she braced for the worst.

“Wanda, I have not been with another woman as you’re thinking.  The reason that you smell perfume is this. While I was at a stop in Gaithersburg, a lady was eagerly expecting a package from her son who is over in Iraq.  And when I delivered it to her she was overjoyed and gave me a big hug.  And as for the alcohol, yeah, I stopped and had a beer at Uno’s to unwind a bit.  It was a rough day and I needed to get in a light mood.  There’s no harm in that, OK?”

“Yeah, right.”  Wanda was amazed at just how good he was at lying.

The large crystal chandelier swayed and chimed from the breeze that came through the open kitchen window.  Wanda loved the fresh morning air. She stood up and inhaled deeply while stretching as far as she could reach to the ceiling.  She loved all the sounds that indicated the start of a brand-new day.  She walked over to the window and leaned close and put her nose on the screen and searched for the birds that were chirping a loud chorus.  A dog barked off in the distance, and the sound seemed to echo throughout the entire quiet neighborhood.

The house was small but still warm and cozy and it had served more than the basic need of shelter.  It was her idea to move into a starter home shortly before she got married.  John, however, had bigger things in mind for his new bride.  He never made outrageous promises to Wanda but wanted her to know that she was worthy of comfort and security.  He always felt it was his responsibility to provide for her needs first and her wants second.  He was happy to know that Wanda was good at managing household finances, and that he could depend on her to keep things running smoothly.  That was just the way he liked it.  All he wanted to do was to be able to focus on his job as a professional driver for a major trucking company.

He was well along in his career and living his dream.  It still amazed him after all these years that he was actually paid to drive, which was something that not only he enjoyed, but regarded as a passion more than work.  The seed of freedom and the call of the open road began for John even as a small boy.  During the very hot summer days while his foster mother kept him inside not allowing him to play with other kids, he would escape his misery by pretending he was driving all over the country.

He was very intense with his imagination and, even as a child, he knew that the road meant freedom from all that he was feeling and enduring.  It was his only focus to hide all the pain and loneliness that came at the hands of a foster mother that inflicted countless hours of both emotional and physical abuse.

Wanda went back to the bedroom and saw the evidence of the restless night she had, tossing and turning.  The bed was a display of tossed pillows and entangled sheets and blankets that more closely represented the place where a fight took place rather than sleep.  It was another night of endless thinking about her current situation.  She was in her mid-thirties and in a very unhappy marriage, with no idea of how to change it or having the courage to get out of it.  Very few people knew of the loneliness that she felt inside and least of all, her husband.  The chill in the air seemed to make the nights even longer.  She wondered as she looked at the unmade bed if other women were enduring the same turmoil or was, she the only one to have this misery at this moment.

Her life had not played out like the soap operas she had seen on TV.  She longed for the day that John would come through the door with a surprise gift in his hand, selected especially for her, something that would show his adoration and appreciation for her and her love.  A bouquet of flowers, a card, a small trinket of jewelry, or even a ticket to get away for the weekend just the two of them.  It had not always been like this or this bad.  Somewhere in the passing months and years the emotional separation and loneliness grew wider and stronger.  She had difficulty remembering when she was very passionate about their love. But somehow she coped,  rationalizing that she had a roof over her head and some security for her.  Her heart still ached at the emptiness of the house without her daughter, Jasmine.  It just did not seem to be the home it once was.

She had listened to some of her girlfriends and endless struggle of making it on their own without a man.  And she thought that her plight was much better than that.  As she went about her domestic duties, it was becoming more and more evident that her life was revealing the emptiness within.  She looked in the mirror while brushing her hair, and the woman who stared back showed very little signs of aging from the outside, but she felt very old on the inside.  She knew it was vanity to think that beauty would last forever.  She also knew that there were a lot of younger women who could turn John’s head, and maybe even his heart.  She focused on the comments from women who had mistaken her for much younger.  And yes, all the men noticed her curves that seemed to fall in all the right places.  This gave her some confidence.

It didn’t bother her that the men wanted one thing and one thing only.  As long as she got their attention, that was all that mattered.  Attention from another man, even for a brief few moments for all the wrong reasons, was more attention than she was getting from John these days.  She tried not to entertain the thoughts of any activity outside of their marriage, because she was first and far most a Christian and enduring a bad marriage was liken to the devotion of the Christian life. The inner voice inside her head played loudly as a cruel taskmaster to keep her enduring the growing misery. “I knew the road was going to be difficult at times, you do not quit just because of a little adversity.”  The mantra would get her through the long cold and lonely nights, while tears soaked her pillow.

Returning to the kitchen she stopped and looked out the window and daydreamed for several minutes.  She remembered the time she and John went on a cruise to the Caribbean, with a five-night stay in the Bahamas.  It was one of the best times the two of them shared, and the only time when she actually felt loved by him.  One morning they both woke up in the resort hotel and decided not to do anything other than spend the day with each other in the room and make love, off and on all day. She was amazed that he could make love the entire day and be so ready for more, even later that night.  Perhaps he had a deep well of passion in him that she was tapping into for the first time.  John was very handsome and he kept himself in really good shape.  There was no evidence that he was approaching middle age.  His days of glory were long behind him but had plenty of credentials to show just how fine-tuned his body was in the days of his youth.  She loved to listen to him tell the stories of the many road races he ran and how being a distance runner gave him the endurance he needed in the bedroom.  She smiled when he recalled a couple of marathons he ran, and she thought how many women would love a man to go the distance under the sheets.

She had always wanted a medium-sized house.  However, the small house that was more like a cottage on the outskirts of Baltimore, would have to do.  In spite of their differences and problems, she knew that John wanted her to do well and he was willing to sacrifice to make sure she had what she needed.  But, more than a lavish lifestyle, she wanted to know that she was loved unconditionally by him.  She would trade in her lifestyle for love.  She knew plenty of women who were gold diggers and did not want love as much as a glamorous life.  Wanda, however, thought that love would be the ticket to a great life.  She thought that if you win a man’s heart, then you also have his bank account.

She never asked too much of John, other than he be faithful and true.  Her biggest fear was that in her greatest time of need he would desert her.  Even though she was in great health, a hidden fear was getting the news from a doctor that she had breast cancer or some other terminal illness.  She knew this was irrational thinking, but more than once she was surprised about the sudden illness that had befallen one of her friends in her age group.  It reminded her that she was still mortal and that death does not discriminate.  She tried to push the thoughts back about whether or not John would stay with her if a life changing event such as cancer invaded her world.

After getting dressed and buttoning up her navy-blue pin striped jumpsuit, she quickly sat down at the computer to check her email, make notes from her calendar, and go over her to-do list.  While scanning through the subject lines of the emails, she noticed one in particular that had no subject line and the sender’s name was Stacey.  She clicked it and read the following:  Hello John, it was such a pleasure to meet you the other night.  You made me laugh and feel alive again.  I was really impressed with your dancing and I want to thank you once again for sharing moments of comfort.  We must meet again.  I have your number and I will call as soon as I can.  Please keep in touch.  Fondly Stacey.

Wanda sat there staring at the screen in disbelief, wishing that she didn’t read what she just read.  She quickly read it again and in disgust deleted it.  Had this confirmed what she had thought all along?  Or perhaps she would give him the benefit of the doubt and let him explain himself.  She was determined not to let her discovery ruin her mood or foul up her day. A few minutes later she picked up her pocketbook and headed out the door, careful to set the code on the house alarm.

 

 

CHAPTER 2

 

John always enjoyed his early morning routine before clocking into work.  His daily stop at the local Starbucks to browse and read USA Today was the only time he had to be reflective.  It was there that he would prepare himself mentally for the day ahead.  His job as a route driver for a printing company caused him to tour the greater metro tri-state area of Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia.  The job paid just barely enough to be respectable, but the high cost of the Greater Washington metro area would soon overcome his hourly wage.  He hated the traffic but loved driving.  Often, he wondered why he had not persevered and gotten a degree in criminal justice.  He wanted to hone the investigation skills that he learned while working as a corporate investigator for K-Mart.  His five years with the company had proven to be very rewarding, but he slacked just enough to get fired.  His untimely termination is what thrust him into looking for a new job.  Driving was something that came easily to him and there were plenty of driving jobs in the metro area.  His first job after K-Mart, was as an independent courier.  During his time as a courier, he learned to navigate all over the greater metro area with efficiency and ease.  He was commended on several occasions about his quickness and willingness to go anywhere and make a delivery regardless of the extra effort involved.  It was his commitment and attention to detail along with superb customer service that got the attention of a customer that would routinely ask for him by name to make their deliveries. John was blushing a bit when the manager of Corporate Graphics kept badgering him about signing on as a company employee for their company.  John at first resisted the idea of working for someone else and treasured the idea of being independent with choices of when he wanted to work.  However, knowing that he did not have any benefits, John reasoned that the security that comes from a company-sponsored benefits package would be highly desirable for his wife.  So he accepted the job, a uniform, and a boss.

He pulled onto I-95 and quickly accelerated up to highway speed and flow of traffic, which was well above the posted 55mph.  The white Ford Econovan had a powerful engine that was just perfect for the demands of delivering many boxes of books and documents that Corporate Graphics produced for the vast customer base in the tri-state area.  It was not unusual for some of his runs to take him as far south as Richmond Virginia and as far north as Pennsylvania.  While making his way to his stop, his mind drifted to other thoughts that had consumed him, mostly the pretty young lady he befriended on the second floor of the Bally’s health club in Alexandria.

It was nothing that he had planned or even hoped for, but with the many visits he made to the club to work out, he found the very fit dirty blonde to have an undeniable attraction he couldn’t easily shake.  He was mostly shy and very awkward with women, so he found it quite surprising that this fitness instructor would see beyond his many stumbling moments and find him rather attractive also.  Across the room glances and flirting conversations, they would send each other any time he was there was so obvious that even some of the patrons voiced their discontent.  John did have a cover that he used to continue to have contact with her.  He happened to sell a nutritional line that he wanted to promote at the club.  And of course, getting the opinion of a fitness instructor as dedicated as Vicky was very valuable to him.  So any time he stopped by the club he made a point to have some products on hand that he could promote to the other club members and, of course, to engage in long conversations with Vicky.  On one such occasion, he was flirting with Vicky to the point that she was uncomfortable and she made her point known.

“John, listen it is not very professional as a company representative to flirt with your clients.  People will get a very wrong impression, so why not cool it in here, OK?”  She was firm, blunt and gave him a very serious look.

“You’re right Vicky. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to make you feel uncomfortable.  I can assure you it won’t happen again.  But listen, why don’t you let me make it up to you over lunch or dinner sometime, outside of the club?”  He had a small grin on his face that caused her to smile back.  Vicky gave him a very long look and then said, “You are very sweet and I might take you up on that offer if you promise me to behave yourself in here.”

“Consider it done.”  He thanked her for the time they spent together and set up his next appointment for personal training.

He sat in the van outside the club in the parking lot and reclined the seat back for a few minutes to reflect over his next move with Vicky.  He didn’t have the confidence to date anyone these days and it still bothered him to know that he was even contemplating having an affair.  Wanda was good to him, very loyal, and it made him feel guilty to hurt her with an affair with another woman.  Should he just face up to the reality of what he was feeling inside and tell her that he just did not think the marriage could continue to go on?  Or let the devastating knowledge of his affair come as a shock, which would force her to abruptly end the marriage.  No, Wanda deserved a lot better than that, and he thought that God would most certainly hold him accountable for the way he treated her.  With that thought in mind, he wondered just how did he let it get this far.  Was there still time for him to turn the direction of his life around?  Could he look at himself with confidence knowing that he had planned and carried out an affair with the sole purpose of breaking up their marriage?  Well, something had to be done and he had better think of something quick because tension and the silence between him and Wanda was growing.

It had been several months since they made love and often he would stay up long after she went to bed and fell asleep to ensure he did not have to share any intimacy with her.  Her complaints still ringing in his ears of the fact that she did not like to have to always be the one to initiate sexual contact.  It was not that the sex wasn’t good, she just hated the fact that she didn’t feel as if she was wanted.  She knew she had some flaws in her body that could not easily be overlooked, but she could feel the passion of him every time they made love.  And he never seemed disgusted with her body.  Yes, he told himself on several occasions that perhaps he could seek another woman a bit more appealing and who had much more chemistry, but he also had grown used to the comfort of this woman who kept a great home and was the role model of the domestic lifestyle.  He wanted to someday settle down and have a comfortable home that Wanda provided.  It made sense to be practical and stop chasing everything that had a short skirt and pretty smile.  Still, his sense of adventure kept calling him to seek more and find out if he had what it took to charm the ladies that were so far out of his league.  Vicky was his latest quest.  So just how far would he go before his better judgment kicked in and he controlled the urges within him that should only be for Wanda his wife?

He quickly pushed the thoughts out of his mind as he got back on the road and headed to the University of Maryland campus for his next delivery.  Within a few miles, his mind drifted back to Vicky.  He knew that something would have to be done before he went too far.  He never regarded himself as a person who would cheat on his wife and was startled at this very moment that even the thought was in his mind.  How could he hurt her like that?  And besides did he not forget what he read in the Bible about accountability for such actions.  ‘God will not tolerate hypocrites regardless of who they are.’ he reminded himself.

He wondered what had happened over the years to get him to this point.  Was it inevitable in spite of his best efforts?  He had a lot of questions about himself as a real husband now that cheating was a part of thoughts and fantasies he was not supposed to allow himself to have.

John could not bear the thought of living a lie and being very good at it.  He had a conscious that would hound him with every sin he committed and a holy spirit that would most certainly remind him of his errors.

To the outside world John seemed to have it all together, yet on the inside his coping skills were breaking down more and more each day.  His fast-paced schedule seemed to be closing in on him with every passing moment.  His gym membership at Bally’s had served as a distraction and an outlet to vent his frustrations of life.  However these days he craved something more to suppress the deep guilt that was consuming him.  He was not known for reckless living, however, every now and then he would push the envelope and live on the wild side.  As a man who still had vast amounts of energy and youth, he sought to do things that would give him an adrenaline rush.  Wanda was very mild and tame. John had often spoke of doing something reckless just for the fun of it.  She, however was not only cautious, but her desire to see him in a more docile state meant that he would not be risking his life in some skydiving accident and thereby jeopardizing her security.

By late that afternoon, John had completed most of his stops and deliveries.  He had always planned his route so that he could take advantage of the HOV a lane that ran from Washington DC to Triangle, Va.  It was the fastest way to Virginia around the three o’clock hour.  John needed to be in Virginia by late afternoon at least twice a week, however not for business purposes.  He had managed overtime to find a habit that required lots of cash to fulfill. He had always told himself that it was just a little pick me up to help him get through the stress of the day.  And, to be honest, that is just how it started on the day he met a pretty well dressed blonde at a Dunkin Donut’s shop in Dumfries.  Cindy Adams was the one pretty girl who flirted just enough with her southern accent and dazzling smile to get him to stop there every time he was in the Dumfries area.  As a matter of fact, he would even make excuses to be in that area just to spend some time with her.  Cindy was an office manager at the professional building that was home to lawyers and doctors and one accountant.  She often took her lunch break at the Dunkin Donuts because of the close proximity to her work. Her budget only allowed for frugal fixings at Dunkin Donuts.  John offered to buy her lunch every time he was in the area, as a thank you for her shared company.  It was during these breaks that Cindy revealed a lot about her life and how at times she felt so overwhelmed with the responsibilities of the office.  She told him that her energy sometimes lagged far behind and even the heaping cups of black coffee was not enough.

On one such visit John asked, “How do you do it Cindy?  A girl like you needs her beauty rest. And you know you cannot keep up this pace for long.”

She looked at him and smiled.  Then she gently touched his arm and said, “Well I have a friend of mine who gives me a little something to get me through the rough spots.”  She grinned and then continued, “It is also responsible for my charming personality at this time of the day, when otherwise I would be ready to strangle everybody in my building.”

John looked at her intensely and then smiled and said,  “Ok there, cute one, what is it exactly that makes you so endearing?”

“Well, if I tell you, I need you to promise me not to tell anyone.  And it maybe something that could help you out on your route.  I bet it will keep you calm enough so you will not run over anybody.”

“I’ll have you know that I am a professional driver and I don’t run over people.” He smiled and began to be even more curious.  “But OK, I promise and I might consider your offer.”

Cindy reached into her small burgundy pocket book, took out a notepad, wrote down a phone number and then handed it to John.  “Take this, call this number and tell the person who answers the phone that you are picking up for Chalice. They’ll give you directions to get this order for Chalice.”

“Something tells me I should not ask who Chalice is or what exactly I am picking up.” He was a bit nervous but thought that he could trust this beautiful woman that had charmed him so much over the past several weeks.

“You’ll be fine.  It’s around the corner, about two minutes from here, down that road.”  Cindy pointed out the large window where the road went across the large intersection and disappeared into a residential area.  “Just come back here as soon as you can and we can take a drive and talk some more.” Cindy smiled and flashed her eyes and slung her head back so that her long blonde hair brushed past John’s face, and he could smell the sweet fragrance that made him long for her in that very instance.

“OK, anything for you darling.”  And with that John got in his vehicle and dialed the number.

The voice on the other end of the line was very rough and unfriendly.  John was polite in carrying out Cindy’s instructions.  The voice told John to come to the location and someone would come out to meet him and complete the transaction.  Seven minutes later, John pulled up in front of the apartment building and waited.  He was careful to be mindful of his surroundings and took note of the young men who were staring at him from the sidewalk and stairs that lead up to the apartment building.  It was rather obvious they had not seen this vehicle here before and knew there was a need to check it out and be sure that John was not a cop.

After about twenty minutes of trying to calm his nerves, the cell phone rang and John was instructed to drive around to the back side of the apartment building.  He went to the other side of the building and parked, even more unsure of why he was there.

The back door of the apartment building swung open and out came a man walking quickly toward the van.  John kept looking at him closely as he approached the vehicle.  He motioned for John to roll the window down.  “Yeah,” John kept his comments short needing to know what this guy was up to.

“What’s up, man?  I was told to come meet with you and you want to do some business.  Is that correct?”

“I believe so, this is for Chalice.”  John still was not sure of who he was.  But he did not want to let this intimidating figure sense any hint of fear.

“Ok let me in and let’s get this done.  I got other customers to take care of and this is a freebie from the boss for Chalice.”  He went to the other side and quickly sat down in the front seat.  He seemed a bit nervous also.  “Just take this and leave a different way than you came in here.  There is a small dirt road on the other side of the basketball court.  Take that road and be sure no one is following you.  Do not stop. You have never seen this place and I do not exist.  Clear?” He looked at John with ice cold eyes that indicated that he would end this conversation by any means necessary.

John’s instincts told him not to say another word and just follow the instructions.  He took the small package that was handed to him and put it in his pocket.  The man quickly got out of the van, did not say anything but merely pointed in the direction of the basketball court.

John drove the van out of the complex as directed.  Within a few minutes he was in a neighborhood that made him even more uncomfortable than the apartment building.  Knowing that a delivery van would normally not be in this neighborhood, he thought it best to quickly get out of the area and back to Dunkin Donuts to see if Cindy was still there.  Upon pulling into  Dunkin Donuts parking lot, he was saddened to see that she had left.

Knowing that his shift would be over in less than an hour, he decided that it was time to start making his way back to the dispatch office.  He felt relieved as he got back on I-95 heading north toward Maryland.  He kept thinking about the small package that was in his pants pocket and wondered exactly what it was.  Of course, he had his suspicions that it probably was something he shouldn’t hang onto very long.

At the Dale City rest area, John pulled in and parked his van far away from other visitors.  He reached in his pocket and unwrapped the brown handkerchief to find two small vials of white powder and a vial of tiny little crystals that looked like small ice or glass chips.  John felt his heart beat getting stronger and faster at the thought of using or carrying illegal drugs.  What was Cindy doing with friends and connections like the man he met at the residential complex?  Did she have a drug habit?  Why would she introduce this to him?  The questions kept coming as he stared at the contents of the vials.  He heard what these drugs can do, and yet his curiosity wanted to know more.

While he was looking at the drug package, he failed to recognize the movements of the men closing in on his van with weapons drawn.  In the most shocking manner he was introduced to them.

“Step out of the vehicle and put your hands on top of your head! Do it now!” The sounds coming from several police officers was quite intimidating and happened so fast that John didn’t have time to process the reality of what was happening to him.

John’s emotions quickly changed to sadness as he complied with the officers’ orders.  In less than four minutes John was handcuffed, read his rights and placed in the police car.  His thoughts were erratic, and he felt like his world had just caved in.  How would he explain all of this to his wife?  The flashing blue lights snapped him back into the reality of the moment.  How he wished he were dreaming, but clearly, he was awake and in the middle of a nightmare.  As the police car sped off to the Prince William County Detention Center, John began to feel deep remorse.

 

 

 

CHAPTER 3

 

A Birthday Journal Entry. A Testimony August 28, 2020

Birthday personal journal entry:

I originated as only a thought in the creative mind of God.

Then he decided to transfer my spirit from eternity to time and prepared a body custom made just for me in the womb of a lady named Sylvia Coghill. 

He entrusted my development and care to her with foreknowledge that she would not abort me.

He chose to bring me forth into his created world on August 28, 1959 @ 0747 AM.

He caused me to be born to parents I have never seen, however his purpose for my arrival has never been in doubt.

Over the years he has orchestrated the times, seasons and events of my life.

The journey has been interesting, filled with joys and laughter, as well as the painful lessons of disobedience and discipline.

The struggles have led to some course corrections as needed.

It just so happens that as long as I am focused on his calling and my purpose that the trip seems a little smoother and decisions made by seeking his wisdom first are a lot clearer.

As I near the end of this fascinating journey with life delivering it’s share of uncertainty, I am reminded that he who started this work has promised to complete it.

I still sometimes struggle with trusting him to finish the job of transforming this awful sinner into a vessel of righteousness.

Yet that is exactly what he has promised to do because I made a covenant contract with him many years ago when I was a wild youth.

Through a series of orchestrated events when I was in the Marines, I found myself at the edge of despair and in deep trouble, both legally and most certainly spiritually.

During a time of self reflection and soul searching I grew tired of the collision course I was on. 

A course of deception, lies and manipulation put my very freedom at risk.  Yes as in possible prison time. 

Most don’t know that small segment of my life because people act as judge and jury to propel and advance their own self righteousness by comparison to guys like me. 

It’s ok, I’m telling this, not for therapy but to assure others that all souls are redeemable, even the worst of us. Even those who we don’t want God to redeem.

The gripping reality of no more places to run or hide, and facing the certainty of possible incarceration, I surrendered my soul to God, and admitted to him openly that I didn’t deserve to be saved from the horrors of my own making.

I was resigned to accept whatever punishment he deemed appropriate for my sins. What I asked for in return was a total life altering course correction.

I recall sitting on my bunk in the Marine barracks in Okinawa Japan with tears streaming down my face. A soft voice whispered, ‘Eugene are you willing to go down the road I have prepared for you?’

A couple minutes of silence went by as I contemplated my response or even if I had heard a voice.

I reasoned that I was in so much trouble with nothing left to lose, that I cared about. I looked out of the large window where blue skies and bright sunshine dominated the atmosphere.

However I could only feel the cold dark heaviness of my soul in that moment. I remembered that clear voice from minutes earlier and I whispered back, ‘yes’ and let the tears flow shamelessly down my face.

Fortunately only about three other Marines were in the barracks doing something on the far end, and they were spared from witnessing my come to Jesus moment.

Literally from that moment on I didn’t know that all of Heaven was applauding my decision.

Nor could I have guessed that by the unexpected intervention of God changing the hearts and minds of Officers and the military police that I would maintain my physical freedom and finish my 13 year career.

To be honest, I have deviated countless times and back slidden even more, with unspeakable sin shame and hurt to other people, but just as his spoken word brought all of creation and me into existence, that same word was sealed and spoken into the covenant contract I made with him on a sunny day in Okinawa.

As I look back over my life through the eyes of wisdom I am amazed at the different times he has honored his word to me in spite of my sinful behavior at the time.

Shocking that he covered my ignorance with love, grace and mercy.

I am writing my autobiography of my life that will detail all the twists and turns that have led to this moment.

It’s half way written I hope I will get the chance to finish it, not for my ego but to perhaps give hope to another soul who has doubts about their own journey.

I guess I’m getting nostalgic in my maturing years.

I am very thankful for 61 trips around the sun, with the Son. And as we prepare for the final few laps, very few laps, it is my desire and hope to inspire and encourage other weary, confused or struggling travelers to trust him to finish what he started.

After all when it’s all said and done and we find ourselves taken out of time and placed back into eternity, we will not be able to brag about our achievements or accomplishments.

Because the truth is that all of our lives and the events of it all fit together in the tapestry of his story.

Because all of eternity to include the few years of our lives is indeed HIStory!

There will come a time when history books will not be opened on earth but rather the history books of our individual lives opened at his court.

The thing is however we have total freedom to fill in the pages of that history book.  It will be our story from start to finish.

There will be no ghost writers.  Our name will be in the book. It will be our personal legacy.

Trust me, I am not thrilled about a day of reckoning and accountability but it has been promised to each one of us.  It is not optional.

However there’s some good news, some great news. You and I have access to the only person who can defend us on judgement day. Jesus Christ Best Lawyer Ever! He has never lost a case where the defendant gave him full control to strategize and do what he asked.

I am talking about a future time when court and sentencing will be handed down.  Need to concentrate on the here and now.

Trust me if he can defend and save a great sinner like me, there’s hope for all of us.

A Woman of Virtue, A Man’s Quest

Finding God’s Best For You

 He who finds a wife finds a good thing,
And obtains favor from the Lord. Proverbs 18:22 NKJV

It has been said that a woman plays a significant part and impact on the success and destiny of a man.  The bible clearly states that upon finding a wife, he has obtained favor from the Lord.

Of all the important decisions that a man will make in his life, very few are as important as the wife he will choose. History is filled with stories of the rise and fall of men who have been directly influenced by the women bound to their hearts.

The significance of a good wife cannot be overstated.  My foster mother told me a long time ago, that there are somethings that are far worse than being lonely.  Through a lot of trial and error, I have learned the full meaning of that statement.

Since finding a good wife is such an important decision, it should not be taken lightly.  As a matter of fact, all care should be taken to ensure that Christian men are diligent in their search for a woman of God and recognizing those qualities that should be prominent in her life.

Our culture has an unrealistic and shallow view of the qualities of a woman.  The Christian man is called to a higher standard, and therefore the traits we are to look for in a woman must be in alignment with godly principles.  This is for our protection and help in the fulfilment of our role as a husband, father and spiritual leader of the family.

It is vitally important that the man, especially Christian men take heed to godly counsel.

We are advised to: To know wisdom and instruction; to perceive the words of understanding; To receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, and judgment, and equity; To give subtlety to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion. A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels:  Proverbs 1: 2-5 KJV

How many times have we said, “If I only knew back then, the things I know now, I would have done things differently?”

The following traits to look for in a godly woman will serve as a guide to help you make a wise decision and avoid some of the pitfalls that other men have encountered.

Character Is Important

 Much too often men overlook the character of a woman, in exchange for the outer appearance.  Physical beauty indeed plays a part in the overall attractiveness of a woman, but even greater qualities on the inside is what truly makes a woman of God stand out from the rest.

Many who date do not look beyond the surface.  Often, we hear people cite the things that they have in common.  Such as: “We like the same activities and enjoy the same music.”  “We agree on everything!”

However, the secret traits and character of the heart is truly what identifies a person. It is just as important to know what you do not agree on and especially how the person reacts to those differences.

How does she respond to conflict?  Does she get extremely angry or have fits of rage and abusive language?  Does out bursts of anger and bad language come in line with the character of a person described in Colossians 3:8?  “But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.” Colossians 3:8  KJV

Is she a woman of God?

 As a Christian man it is important that you see a character that is influenced by God, and obedience to his word.

Some men may not appreciate the value of a genuine Christian woman until they have experienced life with a woman who is not a Christian.

The book of Proverbs tells us something about the character of the woman of God. “Favor is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised.” Proverbs 31:30 KJV

These qualities include being a woman of gentle spirit, generous and tenderhearted towards others. Is she obedient to the word of God regarding marriage and relationships?  Does she see the Godly design of marriage as a ministry to her husband in accordance with 1Peter 3:1-5?

“Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.” 1Peter3:1-5 KJV

Confident In Faith

 A man can feel more secure in a woman, knowing that her faith in God is solid and based on the unchanging principles of God’s word.  Life can be tough, and there will be times when her faith will be needed for the moments of doubt that can creep into both your personal and married life.  Does she voice her confidence in God and can it be seen by her actions?  Does she read the bible for her own spiritual growth and well-being?  Does she pray?  “Teach me good judgment and knowledge: for I have believed thy commandments.” Psalms 119:66

This is even more important in the family setting.  If you have children together, both will be tasked with teaching them the spiritual things of God.  Is she up to the task? Are you?

Part of our confidence in God can best be described as walking by faith and not by sight.  “(For we walk by faith, not by sight:)” 2Corinthians 5:7

This vote of confidence in God’s sovereignty can sustain you both as you tackle the many uncertainties of life. A Christian woman leads by example, so that she never needs to tell anyone that she is a Christian, because her faith shines through every action she takes.

Settling For Mrs. Good Enough

 Currently there are 7.8 billion people on planet earth, and more men than women, according to the 2017 United Nations statistics and the World Atlas.  However, men cannot use the excuse of there being too few women as a reason for them settling for less than the kind of love they deserve.  There have been countless studies and reasons for men choosing women who are less than ideal for them.

What exactly does settling for less look like?

 A quick fix solution. Settling for less in a relationship means that you are choosing someone who is available at the moment.  It may not be what you want but you settle for them, nevertheless.  You may be lonely, and the person sitting across from you in the restaurant seems to be the answer to your loneliness.  Quick fixes do not work, especially in marriage.  I know some people who spend more time planning their Christmas shopping than picking a lifetime partner. Due diligence should be taken to ensure that you are not making emotional based decisions.  Do not make a permanent decision on temporary emotions.

 You are under pressure. Being under pressure can make you settle for less, especially if it is combined with the fear of hurting the other person or losing them.  Pressure from your friends and family can cause you to settle.  I mean how many times do you want to have to answer the question, “When are you getting married?”  It is always a good idea to step back and be objective about your decisions.  Getting good sound advice from other Christian men, along with prayer and

 You are misinformed. Some men and women settle because they do not have the right information about marriage. Marriage is a lifelong commitment and it requires an abundance of information for anyone to make a well-informed decision.  It is always a good idea to talk with other successful married couples to get insight into what lies ahead.  A wealth of advice can be obtained from other Christian men who are married and well respected.  Be sure to talk with them about the challenges of marriage and how to apply godly principles, that is pleasing to God.

 Low self esteem. This is a silent problem that some men never talk about, but it comes out in every aspect of their lives and especially in their relationships.  If you feel you don’t have enough education, don’t make enough money or that you are not good looking enough you may settle for the next woman who gives you attention and seems to accept you as you are.  Here is where you need to be careful.  Marriage and healthy relationships entail a lot more than that.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions and engage in open honest communication about your reasons for marriage.  What are your expectations for the woman?  What are your expectations from yourself?  You will need to take a self-examination of who you truly are.  Are there areas that need to be addressed to give you more self-confidence and growth?

Fear Fear is a big one, and it is just as potent in men as it is in women.Men may be a little bit better at disguising it, but it shows up in other ways.  That fear only increases with age, and can drive you to make an emotionally based decision instead of a rational one.  As Christians we are not to let fear dictate our lives. “For he has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and love and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV

 I think it is equally important to know the kind of person we should not settle for, as it will bring a better decision and choice for a mate into better focus.

Someone you are not attracted to. On the surface it sounds harsh to pass on a potentially good person that you are not physically attracted to.  However, the long-term implications are worth giving this some serious consideration. Being attracted to someone you plan to be with for a lifetime is very important.  While you may be able to fake it for a while, sooner or later your lack of attraction for your partner will come out, and when you partner finds out she will be deeply hurt.  Also being attracted to your partner, can lessen the temptation to violate God’s law of adultery, which is a devastating relationship destroyer, between you and your wife and God. You cannot justify adultery because of your desire to be with a more attractive partner.  It is best to ensure the attraction is established in the first place.

Someone who lacks character. It should be very important to look for a woman who has good character that is based on godly principles. It is more than possible to find a woman who is attractive and also has a good heart.  The best of both worlds is when her heart is as beautiful as her appearance.

Someone who is a flirt. Most people want partners who are loyal and that they don’t have to worry about the possibility of them going astray.  As Christians both partners are held to the same godly standards, and this should bring a sense of peace and security.  The last thing you want is to be lying in bed awake, wondering what man she is thinking about.

 

Loving your Wife is your personal ministry, and Christ’s vision.

 The most amazing demonstration of Christ’s love for us, his bride, can be found in his devotion and single purpose to fulfill his mission on earth.As husbands the exact same love and unwavering devotion is required and demanded of us.  The mandate is clear that as a man of God, your mission is to convey the love of God to your wife in the same way that Christ has loved the church.

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing[b] her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church—Ephesians 5:25-29

It comes with enormous responsibility that has eternal rewards.  The impact of your relationship with your wife can set the tone for her spiritual life. Consider the parallels of the love and devotion that Christ has for us and how it is expected that your love will have a loving impact on the woman.

Going The Distance, Staying The Course

There will be tough times, even in the best of marriages.  Knowing the vision that God has for your role in the marriage can strengthen you to stay the course and gently guide, encourage and teach with your loving example of unwavering love for your wife.

When Jesus Christ was heading toward Jerusalem, knowing what waited for him there, his love for you and I became his passion to finish the mission God had gave him.  So, it is with us to  stay the course in loving our wives.

33 “We are going up to Jerusalem,” he said, “and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles, 34 who will mock him and spit on him, flog him and kill him. Three days later he will rise.”  Mark 10: 33-34

If at any moment Christ would have wavered at his mission, what would have become of you and I? All hope would be lost, and we would be bound for a certain eternity of God’s wrath.

However, because his love for you and I was so strong, he was able to endure even the cross and pay the ultimate price and make the ultimate sacrifice for us. Your mission as a loving husband is to demonstrate the same love towards your wife so that she can be drawn to the love of God that dwells in you.

It is hoped that you may never have to actually sacrifice your very life for your wife, but there are countless stories of men who have.  Even though you may not be asked to give your life for her, are you equally as prepared to give of yourself, your love, your time, your heart to her?

Will your patience be tempered with love for the goal of her well-being both physically and spiritually?  The stakes are high and the rewards eternal.

Values are a reflection of you and God.  What values are being reflected in your prospective spouse?

 The following is worth repeating: Some men may not appreciate the value of a genuine Christian woman until they have experienced life with a woman who is not a Christian.The lifelong regret of being married to a person who does not share your Christian values, cannot be overstated.

There are plenty of reasons for not compromising on Christian values when searching for a godly woman. Not compromising requires an unswerving devotion to God and obedience to his word, regardless of what the surrounding culture is doing or promoting.

There will be times when you will have to make a stand to be obedient even when your prospective spouse suggests otherwise.  This is especially true in the area regarding premarital sex.

Let’s take a look at what the word of God says that can protect you from compromise.

How can a young person stay on the path of purity?
By living according to your word.
10 I seek you with all my heart;
do not let me stray from your commands.
11 I have hidden your word in my heart
that I might not sin against you. Psalms 119: 9-11

God has our best interest in mind and his principles are designed to protect us from unnecessary hardship by obeying him.  He is equally concerned with the lasting happiness that you will enjoy by carefully evaluating the values and character of your lifelong partner.  It is also important to keep in mind that your relationship with your partner is a ministry to the world of the goodness of God.  Your values and that of your partner’s must reflect his character and love, so that others will be drawn to him.

Biography:

Eugene Coghill is the creator of Kingdom Living, a Christian based inspirational blog.  His achievements have included two published novels, Love Is A Fishnet (2008) and most recently, A Loving Deception (February 2020).  His is in pursuit of a freelance copywriting career and is a member of the Professional Writer’s Alliance.

His past careers have included the United States Marine Corps, law enforcement, corporate investigator, and is currently a professional driver (tractor trailer) for Walmart.

Inspirational speaking, especially to troubled youths is his growing passion to share his story of overcoming a very abusive and challenging childhood.

 

 

 

 

 

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Diary Entry: To The Unknown Father

Journal Entry/ personal Diary.   Father’s Day June 21, 2020.  

60 years and still have not laid my eyes on him or her.  I don’t even have a picture to see what either of them look like.

Yes, I have experienced 60 of these days of special celebration for the Fathers of the world.

To ANY dad out there who just might recall having a son born on August 28, 1959 at 0747 AM 60 years ago, please let it be known that your child is still around, and still have not seen you in all this time.

He is doing well and all of the many years of heartache, tears and loneliness has transitioned into blind ambition and sheer determination  and a sense of self validation, that is borderline extremism. 

He has no emotional bonding of mother or father because they do not exist in his life.  Nonetheless he did not use that as an excuse for failure.  As a matter of fact the very fear of failure is what has made him a very driven man.

Occasionally he looks on the a map to find the tiny country of Liberia located in south west Africa where his roots are from a father who may be there.

He no longer questions the circumstances of why you are not a part of his life.  He has come to except it as a part of God’s bigger plan and purpose.

And while he did not like the process of living 60 years with the loneliness of not having a father, he absolutely loves the end results.

He absolutely loves the person he has become through all the trials, pain heartache and unspeakable loneliness.  He was pleasantly surprised at just how much strength he has.

He did not want to become a statistic as a fatherless child.  The statistics say he should be dead, on drugs, incarcerrated, homeless and doing horrible with a life that is a disaster and completely out of control.  He is none of the above.

Instead, he is driven by a relentless fear of failure and the need for self validation.  It’s the only way he knows.

Also, perhaps you may want to reach out to his mother who he has never seen also because time is growing short for all three of us.  Time is NOT on our side.

Death will soon seal our fate, if it hasn’t done so already.

I’m still here, I’m still waiting, I’m still living, somehow I am still breathing.

The heart and soul that used too long for you, is now numb.  It has been numb for many years.

As I recall it went numb the day I graduated from Marine Corps Boot Camp when I was standing all alone with special honor and no one there to see me graduate or give any accolades.

At that moment, my numb heart was replaced with the raging fires of ambition.

You might be glad to know that I am not a career criminal, alcoholic, drug user, or a menace to society.

Let’s just say that life has been interesting so far.  If you could see the movie of my life, I think you would smile, be amazed and mystified all at the same time.

I had had many careers, and currently I chase white lines down the highway in a tractor trailer.  A couple of side interests and passions of mine are writing and cycling.  Done a few things to see what I am made of such as two 50 mile ultra marathons, and a host of other things too numerous to speak of.

I have written and published two books, with three more projects half written and hope to publish in the next year or two.

And for what it’s worth if you are in contact at all with the woman who gave birth to me, tell her thank you very much and I appreciate the greatest gift she could have given me.

I will forever be grateful to her for giving me this opportunity to get to the starting line of the race called life.  I know she had a choice and I am certainly glad she chose to let me run this race called life.

Even though I may not ever see you or her, I want to thank you to both.  Thousands, if not millions of children never even had the chance to get to the starting line.

And to be honest, I will never hold it against you, but there are a ton of things I wish I could have gotten some guidance and wisdom from you about.  I have made some of the same mistakes over and over, but there is nothing I can do about that, so I have had to learn some lessons the hard way.

I guess it’s a good thing that the Bible says that God himself is a father to the fatherless. I have found that to be true.  So just know that I am in good hands.  He has done a wonderful job of taking care of me for all these 60 years.

He is going to call me home soon, probably in twenty five years or less, and if you and my mother are there with him then maybe we can all meet each other for the first time.

If not, it will be OK, because God has it all under control and I trust him with the results even if I don’t understand the process.

Band Aids vs Surgery

I am often amazed at just how good we are at portraying the best version of ourselves, based on our assessment of ourselves.

Of course, it’s a natural thing to do as we all want to be well like and accepted by others.  It’s a great feeling to be validated by others and necessary for good emotional and mental health.

When I was a young boy, one of my crazy fascinations was to stand in front of a mirror and get up close so I could see my eye pupils.  I was mesmerized at how they would contract and widen and adjust to the amount of light exposure.

Sometimes I would get a flashlight and aim the bright light directly into the pupil in a vain effort to see what was inside.  Over the years, I have come to know that is not a best practice!

It has been said that the “eyes are the windows to the soul.”  When you see a person who has captivating, beautiful eyes, are you seeing the entire person?

Would you be shocked or surprised by your assessment profile from someone who knows you far better than you know yourself?  To be honest I was, as this assessment also applies to me.  Yes, me.  The guy who thinks that for the most part I am a really good guy.  The guy who puts on his best version of himself for the world to see.

By contrast the assessment of me by my creator is a bit different.  Listen to his words regarding the core nature of mankind.

Genesis 6:5  “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”

Now ladies and gentlemen, I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a very strong indictment against the human race.  And yet not one of us would fill out a resume and define our character as “evil continually.” Nor would we go on a first date and loudly proclaim that “all my thoughts are evil.”

I will not go into all the dynamics of the creation regarding how or why we were created in such a way to even allow for the flaw of sin to corrupt the perfect original.  That most certainly is fascinating.

And as if the first assessment wasn’t bad enough, God reiterates again after the global flood with all of the eight remaining humans left to repopulate planet earth.

Genesis 8:21. “And the Lord smelled a sweet savour; and the Lord said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake; for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth: neither will I again smite any more everything living, as I have done.”

Recent events in our country has highlighted some troubling things that have existed in the heart of man for a very long time.  While we would like to relabel some of our worst behavior, there is one word that is all encompassing and a very accurate description of what lies at the core of our problems

SIN It’s not a pretty word we like to see or talk about, because it brings us face to face with the very assessment that God gave us, early after creation.

As a matter of fact some of us, myself included, have over the years done everything in our power to dilute it, cover it up, nullify it, or manage it, and of course rename it.

Interesting enough, the symptoms of sin show up daily in our lives.  The last two weeks in America all of the symptoms were on full display for all the world to see.

I find it fascinating that while the talk show experts and gurus of human behavior give us sound bites of sure fire methods that will change, solve or turn the tide of events we have seen in the past two weeks, they remain blind to the fact that all of our best efforts is only putting band aids on a problem that requires heart surgery.

If your doctor diagnoses you with a severe heart condition that will require stints or bypass surgery, do you really want him or her to put large band aids on your chest over your heart?

Do you honestly believe that an outside display of doing something, even if it is totally ineffective will lessen the pain or prolong the inevitable?

Yet, we as the human race do this exact same thing daily when it comes to matters of the heart that need correcting.  Racism, police brutality or a host of other things this country faces will not be solved with money, new laws, policies, a president, or more guns and bullets.

The problems we have witnessed the past two weeks, started in the hearts and mind of people.  We will continue to see the symptoms of a sick heart, and there are many.  From, drug use, to fornication, to hatred, murder, mass shootings, rioting, any number of problems we see in our culture.

To be honest, even though I am a Christian, I am stunned at some of the things that originate in my own heart and mind.

Fortunately the good news is I am currently undergoing heart surgery by my creator. It’s been a very long surgery!

Will we continue to deceive ourselves by treating the symptoms of our heart problem with band aids, or will we allow the doctor to fix the root of the problem within us once and for all with, you guessed it, heart surgery? How about you?

Eugene Coghill

 

 

 

 

Fear Should Not Be The Norm, But Our Comfort Lies In Faith

 

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7. NKJV

It seems obvious to me that fear does not originate with God.  Yes we do experience it and it is a natural condition of the mind and emotional reaction to the unknown.  It takes a supernatural response to not be overcome with fear to our circumstances.

So how do we go from overcoming our natural response to a supernatural response of faith and belief that will lead to “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding?”  Phillipians 4:7

To be honest we must first realize who the peace originates with.  It does not originate with us but rather with God.  That is important to know because we know that we can trust him.  His peace if far more effective for what we face, and it is not just a blind hope, but based on his faithfulness to his word, and by his character, and by his actions of the past.

First we can trust his faithfulness to his word by knowing that his word is true and that it does not change, and it is powerful and effective and is guaranteed to accomplish it’s purpose.

However to have faith and trust in his word, we actually have to know what his word is and what it says.  You actually have to have his word in your soul and mind, so that with the help of the Holy Spirit, it will remind you of God’s love and faithfulness. “This is my comfort in my affliction,
For Your word has given me life.” Psalms 119: 49

Secondly, he is faithful to his character.  He does not change.  The same God who spoke all of creation into existence, is the same God who, delivered the children of Israel from slavery through the Red Sea, who delivered a man from a lions den, who rescued three men who were thrown alive into a fiery furnace, who woke up a man named Lazarus who was dead for three days!  So tell me, what can’t he do?  “For I am the Lord, I do not change;” Malachi 3:6

He has a very faithful track record.  So with that assurance that he has your best interest at heart, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”  Romans 8:28

So whatever may come our way, we are in good hands, because even if it is his will that we sleep in the grave, fear not because he has even overcome that and has promised  us victory over the same.

Eugene Coghill

 

Surviving Our Daily Storms With Peace of Mind

The alarm clock on my iPhone jolts me from a deep sleep at 0230 in the morning at the beginning of my work week.  It is the very tangible thing that tells me ready or not I have committed myself to the day ahead.  In a few hours, I will behind the wheel of a tractor trailer, sitting in the madness of Boston area rush hour traffic, trying to find a way to balance the focus it takes to get the job done safely and keeping my sanity and emotions on an even keel.

And as I sit on the side of the bed for a few minutes, it is during this time that I am keenly aware of just how many times I have traveled around the sun.  Even though people tell me all the time that you do not look “that old”.  Well, that may be true but the body along with all of its working parts are screaming something much different.

As I grow older I find a fascinating thing happening.  It appears that my inner spirit seems to have a more relaxed calm and peacefulness that allows me to navigate this ever-growing complexity of life.  That, of course, is a very good thing.

On the other hand, however, I seem to not want to tolerate the stupidity of others that I so easily tolerated many years ago.  Which means that I am supposed to show the maturity and wisdom that I have acquired over the years to respond a lot better than before.  I think for the most part I am doing pretty well in that area.

I imagine that this happens to us all as we go through different life stages. I would think that the sooner we accept that we are constantly changing, the easier the impact of the change will be.

One of the things that I have noticed also is that we can easily get distracted from our life goal projects with all the daily mundane that consumes a lot of our time.  And our challenge is to balance our pursuit of life goals with the responsibilities of daily living.

I think some of the real frustrations that we feel comes from the struggle to balance these necessities.  Countless time management books and strategies have emerged to help us to keep a sense of sanity in our lives as we navigate our overscheduled lifestyles.  Let’s be honest for a moment.  Have you found a sure fire way that the gurus promise to bring sanity back into your life?  I dare to say if all of the methods that have been proposed and tried was working for the masses, then they would be out of business.

I find it interesting that God, in fact, addresses this very topic in the Bible. I am always amazed that he knows the emotional ups and downs and worries that plague our lives from time to time.  He gives pretty specific instructions about how to cope with this wave of emotions that we experience.  Consider what wisdom we get from Phillippians 4:6 NKJV:

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Incredible that God wishes us not to be anxious.  As a matter of fact, this verse makes it pretty clear that we are to be anxious for nothing. Really? Nothing? Can you name some things that you and I are anxious about?  Rent, Mortgage,  relationships, money, college or school performance, car problems, high gas prices?  Any number of things can make us anxious. World tensions, crime, relentless evil, and the list is long of things that can steal our peace and joy.

It seems that the antidote according to the scripture is to first address our anxieties with prayer.  That is simply telling God what is on our hearts and minds.  Yes, he knows in advance what we are dealing with, but the conversation is a way of talking to someone who understands in a way that no one else does.  Therefore you can tell him all of your fears regarding the things that trouble you.  You cannot overwhelm him with your worries.  As a matter of fact, he actually wants to hear it all.

The attitude of gratitude seems to play a big role in lessening our anxieties.  I think most of us have said from time to time, that perspective can make your problems seem less than perhaps what someone else is going through.  For example, you may be complaining about aggravating knee pain, until you pass a man on the street in a wheelchair who has a leg amputation above the knee!

So being thankful for our current condition even though it may seem counterintuitive, will lessen the intensity of what we are feeling.  With the mindset of thankfulness to God, we can then have confidence that he cares enough and that he has proven it over and over.  We acknowledge what he has already done on our behalf.  It is from this point that we can then ask or rather make our requests be known to him.

Now the interesting part here is that the emotional calm and peace that is to come is not generated from within ourselves.  Who knows how to give you and I the exact peace to calm our minds and hearts?  Yes, of course, God. The peace originates with him so that it goes beyond our understanding of how we can feel calm even in the middle of a storm.  Jesus Christ who also has the title of Prince of Peace is the one who will guard our hearts and minds.

Jesus gave us a unique example of just how to have peace in the middle of a storm literally.  In the gospels, it is noted that a severe storm came upon the lake as Jesus and his disciples were crossing to the other side.  Jesus was sound asleep in the stern of the boat while the waves roared about so much that the experienced seamen were fearful for their lives.  They woke him up wondering if he even cared about the peril they were enduring.  They were no doubt anxious, even more so they were worried and afraid.

But the Prince of Peace simply wakes up and says to the storm, “Peace be still.”  Listen to the gospel account.

39 Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!”And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. 40 But He said to them, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?” 41 And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, “Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!”

While I cannot fault those in the boat with feeling the fear, because in each of our lives we are confronted with storms that will shake us to the core.  It is in these times that we need to be reminded of our faith in Jesus Christ, who can easily calm the storms in our heart just as easily as he calmed the actual storm on the seas.

 

 

 

 

Special message from me to you.

To friends, fans and acquaintances: Merry Christmas.  A big thank you to all who read a blog, purchased a book or attended a book signing.  I am deeply honored.

And a special shout out to my cycling friends who have encouraged me to go deeper into the cycling obsession.  But to be honest, maybe I am not as obsessed as those who still put on three layers and ride in 30 degree weather!  Have you seen a bundled up Gargoyle on a bike?

Besides I have to justify my $10 per month Planet Fitness membership by showing up during the cold weather season, although I would rather be setting PR’s (personal record) on a stretch of black top that is 90 degrees or above.  But because I love dancing on the elliptical or indoor bike, I show up more frequently.  I tolerate the image of a middle age guy gerbil racing on the treadmill next to a good looking 30 something lady that I cannot keep up with, just to find out that she is 50 something!  Ughh.  Therapy is needed for my bruised ego.  LOL

Well, enough of me, I hope you all spend some quality time with friends and family, and if God is willing we shall meet again in 2018!

Love Always,

Eugene

 

 

 

 

 

Yes, at this very moment of 0424 in the morning, I wanted to let you know that I have all of you, my friends on my mind.  I don’t always convey that you cross my mind daily because in truth, you do not.  As the busy things of life consume most of daily and survival demands that we focus on job one.

However, I love those times we I can slow down and reflect on the things and people that matter.  Now I will not name you all, but trust me YOU are someone that matters, especially if you are taking the time to read this.

You know those short messages and greetings from people on facebook that say just enough to let you know how much they care?  I wish I could express all of the feelings in my heart contained in just a small paragraph!  My heart is a deep ocean of thoughts when it comes to you.  But I will spare you the necessity to taking a whole DAY away from shopping to read the novel of things I could say about you and what it means to be blessed with a few meaningful friends.

So I will convey the following:  (Why does this sound like a condemned man with final words?)  Anyway, because I have not reached out on a personal level like I want to, I will be making a special effort to call you if I have your number, and I would also encourage you to do the same for your friends as well.

And

 

Journal Entry March 3, 2016

March 13, 2016

I am heading up the road north on I-95 toward Lewiston Maine. It is a pretty nice day and very spring like with the sun out shining brightly. As always I have a few things on my mind this Sunday morning that pertain to life and things eternal, and all things God. Unfortunately this week my beloveds stepdad Peter died this week. And even though it was not a surprise because he had cancer and other ailments, still it was not pleasant to hear even though it was expected. But even still when death has set it’s sight on a person, and the end is near and everybody can clearly see it within weeks to come, it brings a whole lot of feelings and emotions that we have not dealth with in a very long time, and we do not like to deal with at all.

But because death is the great equalizer and reminds us all of the way we shall go it is sobering none the less. So because of that God has kind of put in my heart to address these subjects, and to get more clarification, first to me, and then to anyone else who would be willing to listen.

As I visited this guy Peter in the hospital, I immediately thought of his soul state, whether salvation had been granted to him. And to be honest I had this sense of fear that he was not in a good state spiritually with God. Having understood that, and knowing that he may not know what lies ahead on the other side, and that there is a day of reckoning for us all, a day of judgement. I felt compelled toward letting him know that before he leaves this earth he needs to make his peace with God. And while I do not think I was forceful enough in doing so, I did manage to pray with him briefly that God would bring to his remembrance his loving kindness, his saving grace, his mercy and love, and acceptance of Jesus Christ as the only way of salvation. Jesus being the only way to have sin dealt with to escape the punishment and wrath of God that he has set forth for unrepentant people.

And so with that, I never approached the subject again, knowing that it is each of our responsibility to make amends with God. And I know that he has had the opportunity in his lifetime to make amends with God. Anyway for the rest of us who look at that situation and see dread and fear. Debbie was crying, and I have a understanding of that because she has known him for a very long time, as a matter of fact she was responsible for putting Peter and Janet his wife together. And I come into this situation with a base knowledge of God and life and death issues. I come from a point where I am emotionally grounded, in these types of events. So much so that I have to take a step back and realize that I am living with and dealing with people who are not, emotionally or spiritually grounded, in these areas.

And because of that I was very grateful to God that he orchestrated some events in my life, and got me thinking about my own immortality, and he knows I have had a longing to learn a lot about that. And I have read God’s word and seen what that has to say, but more importantly with the revelation of the Holy Spirit, about what life and death has, God has also been teaching me through other people and divine teaching. See for me it got down to me wanting to know a lot of general answers to things in life. I mean big questions that a lot of people have in their hearts and minds, but it only comes up every now and then in general conversation. But I had a whole lot of questions that I needed answers for. And like TD Jakes has said, the things that I went searching for, I only found it in one area that had the answers to the questions that I had.

What kind of questions did I have? Things like, me, starting with me. How did I get here? Why am I here? How is it that I never thought of God in my early childhood to the degree that I do now? How come I have these tendencies to want to know about life on the other side, after I die. I had questions about death itself. Why does anyone have to die? These are questions that plagued me for a very long time.

Some other questions that I needed answers for as I looked at the human race and the human condition, were. Why do people kill, why do people murder, and rape? Why are people vile? Why do people use vulgar language? Why do people choose to become homosexuals and engage in same sex marriage? Why do people choose to hate others and behave the way that they do? These were the questions that I needed answers to.

And the more I read and the more I dug into God’s word, not only did I get the answers, but it was the only answers that made any sense to this whole puzzle called life. So I got my answers. But more importantly I got my answers from the one person who knows everything. The person who has the answers. I did not get it from a president, or a college, I did not get them from a text book. They do not have nearly enough information. They do not have enough wisdom or insight to give me the answers that my heart was searching for. Because now that I have these answers, I can see the big picture now when I look about me in the world. I can see things falling into place like a puzzle. And as such, I am not easily moved emotionally by everything that I see around me. Because I know the answer maker and he has everything under control.

So getting back to a question I had about spirituality, and how does my spirit operate in this body? I find it very interesting that the Bible speaks about being born again. Now to be born again, suggests that you have to be born at least one time prior. Here is the mystery, our body is only one third of all that we are. There are three parts of us, we are the physical body, we are a spirit, and we are a soul, ie the conscious emotions.

And I find it very interesting that when I was born on this planet, my body came onto this planet it was joined up with a spirit, the conscious part of me that exists now. But there is another part of me that did not have a relationship with God at all. That part of my spirit was dead. So much so that I was literally born with a body that is dying, and born spiritually dead to the things of God. Meaning that I had no relationship, no cognizance of my heavenly father God.

Here, let me make it pretty simple for you. You know if you have a child, or you are in a close relationship with someone, husband wife, girlfriend boyfriend, or family member, brings about the fact that you think about them on a regular basis, because you have an ongoing relationship with them, and you are alive to the union and bond that you share with that other person. Therefore they will be on your mind quite often if not all of the time.

Well when it comes to our spiritual relationship with God, if we are born spiritually dead, we are born with no relationship to him at all, and thereby our mind cannot have thoughts ongoing toward him. Now we can thank our good friends Adam and Eve for that. You see it was not always like this. For back in the garden when they decided to introduce sin into this world, the moment that they took of the fruit so to speak, and partook of the knowledge of good and evil, that was the moment that they severed their relationship with God. Not only did they severe it for them, but for everybody else who would be born after them. As a result everybody born after them would enter the world with no spiritual relationship to God and no capacity or inclination to think of God. Their inner spirit was to be literally born dead. And as a result, well here we are.

We come on this planet with no knowledge of God, no inclination to want to know anything about God and in some of the more extreme cases, not having the ability to acknowledge the very existence of God. At this state when person is born, God is foreign to the person and in some cases the person can even become hostile to the notion of something called God.

Think about how many times during the day, that you think about God. That is probably in direct proportion to your relationship to him. So if several days to several weeks goes by and anything about God has not crossed your mind, you might want to consider if you have any inclination toward him. If you have no relationship with something or someone you do not think about it. It never crosses your mind, for example. Say right now in Brazil there may be someone there who is a distant cousin to someone, but because I have no direct relationship to them, I do not know anything about them, as a matter of fact I do not know that they exist. Therefore their name never crosses my mind. None of their impact in this world crosses my mind., and yet they still exist. I have no direct knowledge of this, and somebody can tell me that they exist, I may not want to believe that this person does exist. But yet they could be there in the flesh. So it is with our relationship in the spirit world with God. We come on this planet spiritually dead, and as a result we are spiritually dead to the attributes and the characteristics of God.

Some notable characteristics of God are, love, joy, peace, long suffering and all the good things that make up God. We come on this planet born, without that spiritual character in us, and so we cannot experience that. All we can produce and operate in is the natural state of mind that we have. We can produce hate, anger, evil, lying, murder, immorality, these things we produce naturally and without any effort, because it is our natural state when we are born. We do not have to be taught these things. You do not have to go to school to learn the dark side of our human state. You never have to take a kid, take him to the third grade and teach him how to steal. You don’t have to take a child put him in a class room and teach him how to lie, curse, hit others.

You do not have to tell little Johnny how to disobey the ten commandments or how to sin. No you do not have to teach any of us how to sin, because that comes naturally. It’s natural to us just like breathing air. Has anyone ever taught you how to sin properly? Has anyone ever instructed you on how to tell a lie? Has anyone ever instructed you on how to curse? How about how to be mean to someone?

Now let’s take a look at the other and more difficult side of our humaness. Do we have to be taught how to love, how to be kind, and how to be forgiving? Yes it seems that it has to be learned.

So let me explain about the answers that I got. I come to find out, and there is much biblical scripture to back up what I am about to say, that when we physically die, the body dies, at that moment what is happening is a separation from the spirit and the body. The conscious man is still very much aware of everything that is going on around him. The physical body is dead, as it has no pain or feelings of any kind. But the conscious part is still very much aware of feelings and emotions. At the moment of death that spirit is separated from the body and is whisked away to the presence of God for those who are born again, or for those who have not been born again, then that spirit will go into a literal temporary holding place called hell. And there it will remain until God raises up the entire world again, meaning that every person on the planet who has ever lived will be raised up again, the actual physical body raised, and those spirits will be rejoined into a resurrected body, to stand before almighty God in what is known as the great white throne judgement.

Which means that he is literally going to judge everybody. Every man, woman and child, will have a day of judgement before him. And there you will be, very much conscious, very much aware, in a resurrected body, waiting for sentencing.

Personal Diary and Journal Entry May 11, 2018

I have wanted this blog to give you some insight into who I am as a person and what swirls around in my head.  As such from time to time I will be posting some personal opinion and introspect from my personal diary.  The following is a collection of thoughts over the past week or so. Feel free to comment respectfully.

May 11, 2018

Some of my personal thoughts of recent days.
There is a heavenly war on the battleground of the earth. Every one of us on this planet has both friends and enemies in high places. They dwell in the realm that we can see as well as in the vast world that we cannot see.

As human beings, I am amazed that we can be so smart, so intelligent and still lack wisdom. I am also equally amazed at the amount of hardship that we bring upon ourselves due to our own decisions and choices. Ask me how I know! My life is full of bad decisions that have had unintended consequences and some consequences that I will have to live with for the foreseeable future if not for the rest of my life.

Think about this. Yes, life is difficult in and of itself, but how much more difficulty do we bring upon ourselves, with the things we do and the choices we make. When wisdom is not heeded, hardship is guaranteed. The DNA of sin that has been passed down from Adam through the ages to you and me, is a remarkable thing when you think about it. What other trait has a global impact on EVERY living soul? God was very clear when he said that the soul that sins shall die.

So far that has been very accurate and true from Adam right down to you and I. Now what I find fascinating about that is that he said the soul that “sins” shall die. So by the natural reasoning of the opposite end of the spectrum in that statement, would be that the soul that does not sin shall not die or perhaps even cannot die.

Jesus Christ was indeed the example of a soul that did not sin and as such could not die by default of sinful DNA. Jesus also referenced that fact when he told his followers that nobody can take his life, but rather he willingly and voluntarily gave it up. In other words, he literally had to surrender his life in death, because death could not take him. Now while the curse of death is upon us all, and there is nothing that we can do to change the course of history regarding that, I am fascinated by the possibility of the same sinless DNA that was inside of Jesus Christ that caused him to live a sinless life inside of a physical human body just like yours and mine, can be made available to us.

I do not believe that living a sin free life is a matter of self-will. I think it is way beyond that. Our best intentions and good will, even though well meaning has failed us miserably. Now, first of all, let me be very clean and transparent regarding sin, especially my own. Because much to your surprise and mine, I am certainly not perfect! (Ok you can laugh now.)

The bottom line is that my sins are quite large in number. One thing about sin is that it makes us All equal as humans because while we may grade on the curve or on a scale, God does not. Murder and a small lie both are sins to God, even though we see them in varying degrees.

Compared to a Holy God where the standard is sinless, all of our infractions miss the mark. I liken it to being a little bit pregnant or somewhat dead! Either you are or you’re not.

When it comes to my own sins I am ashamed of them, but not ashamed to inform you of them. Let’s just say that if I were to list them all alphabetically I would need all 26 letters of the English alphabets! Yes, all 26 letters!

Again God does not grade on a curve or on a scale and he is totally just and fair in how he judges our sin. We are dealing with a holy God and because we don’t fully grasp the standard of holiness it makes it a lot easier for us to see our sins and the sins of others on a scale or curve.

Think about it, there is the unintentional sin, there is the blatant sin, there is the sin of the flesh, and sin of the mind or thought, that nobody can see or have knowledge of other than God.

Consider this for a moment. Ask yourself this question: If there was a way that I (insert your name here) could live 100 percent sin free both in thought and deed over the next 30 days would I do it?

Of course, you could give yourself a list of the many benefits of living that way. Now to live sin free you would obviously want a listing of the sins that you are to avoid. Now here is a fascinating bit of info you can cite at your next party or with a lawyer that you know.
I find it interesting that there are over 40 thousand laws on the books just to enforce Ten Commandments!

As of January 1st 2010 there were 40,627 new laws on the books for the USA, it’s territories and protected lands.

Now here is a scenario for your consideration: What if Jesus Christ himself appeared to you for a one on one conversation and made the following proposal? “If I can give you the exact same DNA of the Holy Spirit that is in me that allowed me to live a sinless life in a human body on this earth, would you take me up on that offer? And would you like to experience it risk-free for the next 30 days?”

In other words, Jesus would be telling you, “If you like the 30 day trial of a sin free life, you can keep the DNA and Holy Spirit and live the rest of your days as such. And if not, if you are not happy with a sinless life at the end of 30 days just let me know and I will remove it from you and you can go back to the original sinful life you had with no questions asked. Do we have a deal? What say you?”

Now the reason I put that scenario like that is that is exactly the deal God has given us regarding the regeneration work of the Holy Spirit operating in our lives. The process is called being “born again”. That is an offer he has made for us already.  But instead of just a 30 day trial, it comes with a lifetime guarantee that gets upgraded to an eternal guarantee upon death.

It goes like this: “Let’s make an exchange. I will take your sins and your sinful nature out of you and I will put my Holy nature as in the Holy Spirit inside of you. What a deal. Meaning that if you surrender your sins and all the bad stuff that is in you to me, I will remove it and in exchange I will give you all of my goodness and my Holy Spirit which will regenerate your mind and thought process and will eventually carry over to your body to be Holy just like I am.”

Would you take him up on that deal? OK, so let’s narrow this down a bit. Let’s say that you did not want a lifetime deal but rather only a ten-year deal. Would you take him up on an offer of living Holy for ten years? One year? One day?

The reason I mention this exchange is to emphasize the great deal we are getting versus what he received in return from us.

The bible mentions that when Jesus was on the cross and the wrath of God was being poured out on him it was for no other reason than the fact that he became the sin of the entire world which God judged in him.

The Bible states it perfectly: 2 Corinthians 5:21 NKJV
“For He (God) made Him(Jesus) who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

Now imagine if you will if it is the opposite for us. Meaning that “we who do not know Holiness became Holy so that our sins are transferred to Him.”

And it does not matter what your sin is, He (Jesus Christ) became it. He became every sin known to mankind. Think about the burden of being all those horrible things that mankind is capable of. He became a murderer, rapist, adulterer, fornicator, pedophile, homosexual, drug addict, alcoholic, liar, cheater, a racist, robber and on and on. Whatever sin you can think of and those that you can’t, He became it.  And as an added bonus for us he also became our sickness and diseases so that in him we have healing and health.

So regardless of who you are or whatever you are capable of doing regarding sin, he can cover it, and in fact, has covered it. Because he has already become it. That is exactly why none of us can look down on another or judge another regarding their sin. I mean the guy who is a rapist cannot look down on the murderer and say “your sin is worse than mine.”

The liar or cheater cannot look down on an adulterer and say his sin is worse. The reason we cannot judge and have no right to judge one another regarding sin is because all of our sins both yours and mine has already been judged and condemned by God himself. That is the highest court from which there is no appeal. You have heard of the saying, “the kettle calling the pot black.” The rapist is not in any better standing than the racist.

I think it is interesting that we grade and judge each other on a scale and on the curve. And yet our scales are not just. Our scales are not right and out of balance.

Because what we are giving up in exchange for the goodness and righteousness of God is a whole different ballgame. We are giving up eternal death in exchange for eternal life. It’s not even a fair trade when you think about it. And yet that is the deal God has made with us.

Also, I find it rather unique that we seem to do our sins in secret, but Jesus Christ took on our sins and became sin in public. He was hanging on a cross butt naked for the whole world to see. He bore our shame all in public view. All of our hidden sins that he took on, suddenly was exposed for the whole world to see. And I think that may be why we are to confess to him our sins. Why? Because we think we are keeping it a secret and he has already exposed it to the world when he was on the cross. So our confession is an acknowledgment of the sin that he has exposed. In other words, we can point to the very sin hanging on the cross with him. I mean I can imagine Jesus saying, “Hey, you think you are keeping your sin a secret. I have already exposed it for what it is on the cross, publicly. All I need you to do is to agree and acknowledge it with me.”

That is why when we acknowledge our sin before him, that the guilt and shame is lifted away because it is already on him. It was transferred to him on the cross. You are acknowledging that you don’t have to carry it and point to the proper place where it is and belongs, on the cross with him.

Isn’t that a great deal? Our public shame and guilt we don’t have to wear anymore because he has already worn it for us in public.  With that knowledge, you and I can breathe and live freely.

 

 

 

Book Title: A Loving Deception, Sample Chapters

My current book, Obedient To Love, is a work of contemporary relationship drama.  It comes about as a unique story with the intent of showcasing how even the worse of us and the worst of our sins can be redeemed and covered by the grace and love of God. Synopsis follows below:

How do you get confirmation of God’s love, grace, and mercy for the hypocrites and the worst among us?  You exploit it through a story of massive deception, uncontrollable sins of passion, careless disregard of forgiveness and neatly disguise it as the things that are common in today’s Christian marriage.

Such is the case of Wanda and John, a hypocritical couple whose lives slowly become unraveled as they both embark on different but equally destructive paths of sin and deception.  Their marriage was the perfect cover for the out of control rollercoaster ride that would plunge them both separately into the depths of hell while professing to be on the road to Heaven.

A few bad decisions were the catalyst that set things in motion that neither could stop. By the time they both realized they were in over their heads, instead of trying to get out of hot water, they dove deeper with unforeseeable consequences.

A closet Christian couple, allows their inner demons to surface in their lives and get in the driver’s seat and take them down separate roads that will exploit their soul and leave them adrift in a sea of deception. As they move closer to going over the brink of total destruction, the unforeseen circumstances that they find themselves in, serve as the orchestrated hand of God who actually has other plans.

 

A Loving Deception

By Eugene Coghill

 

CHAPTER 1

The black and white tabby cat, named Sylvester, was licking its paws when he heard Wanda’s approaching footsteps.  He lifted his head and quickly scampered out into the hallway, knocking over the bowl of milk.  Wanda was startled to see him run by her so quickly, as he had seemed very lethargic over the past several weeks.  Upon entering the kitchen and seeing the milk on the floor, she wondered why he didn’t bother to clean up his own mess.  “I don’t know who you think you are but I’m not a maid to humans or animals in this house! You better learn to clean up and take out your own litter box!”  She chuckled at the idea of her talking to a cat as if he really understood what she was saying.  It was early in the morning and her most favorite time of the day when she could carve out some precious moments of solitude.  It was at this hour that she could collect her thoughts and reflect on what she had to do for the day.

Rarely could she devote more than twenty minutes sitting down to a cup of coffee and savor the time for herself.  She envied other housewives who would make mention of the special morning ritual and routines that made for a very tight bond in their families.  That certainly was not the case for Wanda Evans and John, her husband of five years.

She glanced up at the refrigerator to see the art drawing she had saved and cherished from her seven-year-old daughter Jasmine, who was killed in a tragic accident several years ago.  Even though the years had passed, she had always felt love from her daughter and at this moment, as she stared at the drawing, she smiled with contentment.  Even though she had her for a short while, the memories of her had become the solid rock in her life and she knew even if only for a brief time, what unconditional love felt like.

The vivid memories of Jasmine were the one part of the union that made it all worthwhile.  Jasmine was very energetic and seemed to have an endless curiosity about the world around her.  Even though Wanda loved the fact her daughter was possessed with the gift of energy, she wanted it to be harnessed from time to time, especially when out in public or while in the company of a stranger.  Wanda smiled, wondering just how many miles she had ran chasing Jasmine up and down the Walmart aisles when she first learned to walk, or rather run.  Sadly, it was the same enthusiasm for life that eventually caused her death.

The years of heartbreak over losing her child was a turning point that would forever define her.  After many months of depression, she knew she needed to rebound into life and begin to live again.  She carried the memory of Jasmine and slowly with each passing day, she embraced them as an extension of her soul.

Even now at the age of thirty-five, Wanda was highly attractive.  As she sat there in her pink bathrobe it revealed flawless skin underneath.  The years had been very kind to her, and she didn’t need the makeup cream that she applied to her face religiously every morning. It was only in her mind did the crow’s feet appear.  And the laugh lines that she thought were a permanent blemish served to make her even more youthful-looking.  Her daily routine of yoga, stretching and walking had kept her girlish figure for all these years.  She felt like the queen of the prom when men would whistle at her from afar and send flirtatious comments her way.  She loved the attention, as it reassured her that she still had what men wanted.  She didn’t want to admit that occasionally she had lingering doubts and that her self-esteem sometimes was lacking.  This was mostly because she longed for the attention and affection from her husband, which had somehow vanished with the passing of time.  She wondered if that was the norm for married couples until hanging out with a few of her married girlfriends seemed to prove otherwise.  She didn’t know what to do anymore to capture his eyes and lustful attention to her.  The credit card bills certainly showed that she had tried everything, to include Brazilian waxing, and hair and nail makeovers.  The closet and drawers were overflowing with sexy dresses and the drawers enclosed skimpy lingerie that would make any man pant with excitement.  Of course, any normal man would, except John.  Five years into her marriage with him and she was starting to feel like a widow.  Funny how she let her mind drift to the thought of being a widow, thinking that perhaps it would be more comforting than being in the same bed with a man who had died emotionally a very long time ago.

It was not only that John was becoming disconnected from her, but things had gotten very intense over the past six months.  First, it was very subtle with him coming home later and later, and seemingly in a constant bad mood.  Whenever she would ask about his day and what was wrong, she got the same sharp answer.  “Nothing, and why do you always insist that something is wrong with me?  Can’t a guy just get some peace and quiet and be left alone?  For heavens sakes, Wanda, you are getting to the point of annoying.”

It was a couple of days later when he came home with alcohol on his breath and an unfamiliar perfume on his collar that Wanda blew up at him about his behavior.

“Where in the hell have you been and why did you not think enough of me to call?”

“Wanda, please do not go there. Trust me I am not in the mood.” He said.

“In the mood? I bet you were in the mood after drinking so you could be with some bitch that left that perfume on you!  Who is she, John?”

“What are you talking about?  There is no who!”  John was feeling a bit nervous, and quickly he thought of what loose ends he had left untied.

“I am not stupid John. Do not play me for a fool.  I can smell the alcohol and the perfume all over you.  Now look me in the eye and tell me you have not been with some woman today.”  She stared at him hoping she was not right but knowing her instincts had not let her down before, she braced for the worst.

“Wanda, I have not been with another woman as you’re thinking.  The reason that you smell perfume is this. While I was at a stop in Gaithersburg, a lady was eagerly expecting a package from her son who is over in Iraq.  And when I delivered it to her she was overjoyed and gave me a big hug.  And as for the alcohol, yeah, I stopped and had a beer at Uno’s to unwind a bit.  It was a rough day and I needed to get in a light mood.  There’s no harm in that, OK?”

“Yeah, right.”  Wanda was amazed at just how good he was at lying.

The large crystal chandelier swayed and chimed from the breeze that came through the open kitchen window.  Wanda loved the fresh morning air. She stood up and inhaled deeply while stretching as far as she could reach to the ceiling.  She loved all the sounds that indicated the start of a brand new day.  She walked over to the window and leaned close and put her nose on the screen and searched for the birds that were chirping a loud chorus.  A dog barked off in the distance, and the sound seemed to echo throughout the entire quiet neighborhood.

The house was small but still warm and cozy and it had served more than the basic need of shelter.  It was her idea to move into a starter home shortly before she got married.  John, however, had bigger things in mind for his new bride.  He never made outrageous promises to Wanda but wanted her to know that she was worthy of comfort and security.  He always felt it was his responsibility to provide for her needs first and she wants second.  He was happy to know that Wanda was good at managing household finances and that he could depend on her to keep things running smoothly.  That was just the way he liked it.  All he wanted to do was to be able to focus on his job as a professional driver for a major trucking company.

He was well along in his career and living his dream.  It still amazed him after all these years that he was actually paid to drive, which was something that not only he enjoyed, but regarded as a passion more than work.  The seed of freedom and the call of the open road began for John even as a small boy.  During the very hot summer days while his foster mother kept him inside not allowing him to play with other kids, he would escape his misery by pretending he was driving all over the country.

He was very intense with his imagination and, even as a child, he knew that the road meant freedom from all that he was feeling and enduring.  It was his only focus to hide all the pain and loneliness that came at the hands of a foster mother that inflicted countless hours of both emotional and physical abuse.

Wanda went back to the bedroom and saw the evidence of the restless night she had, tossing and turning.  The bed was a display of tossed pillows and entangled sheets and blankets that more closely represented the place where a fight took place rather than sleep.  It was another night of endless thinking about her current situation.  She was in her mid-thirties and in a very unhappy marriage, with no idea of how to change it or have the courage to get out of it.  Very few people knew of the loneliness that she felt inside and least of all, her husband.  The chill in the air seemed to make the nights even longer.  She wondered as she looked at the unmade bed if other women were enduring the same turmoil. Or was she the only one to have this misery at this moment?

Her life had not played out like the soap operas she had seen on TV.  She longed for the day that John would come through the door with a surprise gift in his hand, selected especially for her, something that would show his adoration and appreciation for her and her love.  A bouquet of flowers, a card, a small trinket of jewelry or even a ticket to get away for the weekend just the two of them.  It had not always been like this or this bad. Somewhere in the passing months and years the emotional separation and loneliness grew wider and stronger.  She had difficulty remembering when she was very passionate about their love. But somehow she coped,  rationalizing that she had a roof over her head and some security for her.  Her heart still ached at the emptiness of the house without her daughter, Jasmine.  It just did not seem to be the home it once was.

She had listened to some of her girlfriends and endless struggle of making it on their own without a man.  And she thought that her plight was much better than that.  As she went about her domestic duties, it was becoming more and more evident that her life was revealing the emptiness within. She looked in the mirror while brushing her hair, and the woman who stared back showed very little signs of aging from the outside, but she felt very old on the inside.  She knew it was vanity to think that beauty would last forever. She also knew that there were a lot of younger women who could turn John’s head, and maybe even his heart. She focused on the comments from women who had mistaken her for much younger.  And yes, all the men noticed her curves that seemed to fall in all the right places.  This gave her some confidence.

It didn’t bother her that the men wanted one thing and one thing only.  As long as she got their attention, that was all that mattered.  Attention from another man, even for a brief few moments for all the wrong reasons, was more attention than she was getting from John these days.  She tried not to entertain the thoughts of any activity outside of their marriage, because she was first and far most a Christian and enduring a bad marriage was liken to the devotion of the Christian life. The inner voice inside her head played loudly as a cruel taskmaster to keep her enduring the growing misery. “I knew the road was going to be difficult at times, you do not quit just because of a little adversity.”  The mantra would get her through the long cold and lonely nights, while tears soaked her pillow.

Returning to the kitchen she stopped and looked out the window and daydreamed for several minutes.  She remembered the time her and John went on a cruise to the Caribbean, with a five-night stay in the Bahamas.  It was one of the best times the two of them shared, and the only time when she actually felt loved by him.  One morning they both woke up in the resort hotel and decided not to do anything other than spend the day with each other in the room and make love, off and on all day. She was amazed that he could make love the entire day and be so ready for more, even later that night.  Perhaps he had a deep well of passion in him that she was tapping into for the first time. John was very handsome and he kept himself in really good shape.  There was no evidence that he was approaching middle age.  His days of glory were long behind him but had plenty of credentials to show just how fine-tuned his body was in the days of his youth.  She loved to listen to him tell the stories of the many road races he ran and how being a distance runner gave him the endurance he needed in the bedroom.  She smiled when he recalled a couple of marathons he ran, and she thought how many women would love a man to go the distance under the sheets.

She had always wanted a medium-sized house.  However, the small house that was more like a cottage on the outskirts of Baltimore, would have to do.  In spite of their differences and problems, she knew that John wanted her to do well and he was willing to sacrifice to make sure she had what she needed.  But, more than a lavish lifestyle, she wanted to know that she was loved unconditionally by him.  She would trade in her lifestyle for love.  She knew plenty of women who were gold diggers and did not want love as much as a glamorous life.  Wanda, however, thought that love would be the ticket to a great life.  She thought that if you win a man’s heart, then you also have his bank account.

She never asked too much of John, other than he be faithful and true.  Her biggest fear was that in her greatest time of need he would desert her.  Even though she was in great health, a hidden fear was getting the news from a doctor that she had breast cancer or some other terminal illness.  She knew this was irrational thinking, but more than once she was surprised about the sudden illness that had befallen one of her friends in her age group.  It reminded her that she was still mortal and that death does not discriminate.  She tried to push the thoughts back about whether or not John would stay with her if a life-changing event such as cancer invaded her world.

After getting dressed and buttoning up her navy-blue pin-striped jumpsuit, she quickly sat down at the computer to check her email, make notes from her calendar, and go over her to-do list.  While scanning through the subject lines of the emails, she noticed one in particular that had no subject line and the sender’s name was Stacey.  She clicked it and read the following:  Hello John, it was such a pleasure to meet you the other night.  You made me laugh and feel alive again.  I was really impressed with your dancing and I want to thank you once again for sharing moments of comfort.  We must meet again.  I have your number and I will call as soon as I can.  Please keep in touch.  Fondly Stacey.

Wanda sat there staring at the screen in disbelief, wishing that she didn’t read what she just read.  She quickly read it again and in disgust deleted it.  Had this confirmed what she had thought all along?  Or perhaps she would give him the benefit of the doubt and let him explain himself.  She was determined not to let her discovery ruin her mood or foul up her day. A few minutes later she picked up her pocketbook and headed out the door, careful to set the code on the house alarm.

 

 

CHAPTER 2

 

John always enjoyed his early morning routine before clocking into work.  His daily stop at the local Starbucks to browse and read USA Today was the only time he had to be reflective.  It was there that he would prepare himself mentally for the day ahead.  His job as a route driver for a printing company caused him to tour the greater metro tri-state area of Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia.  The job paid just barely enough to be respectable, but the high cost of the Greater Washington metro area would soon overcome his hourly wage.  He hated the traffic but loved driving.  Often, he pondered why he had not persevered and gotten a degree in criminal justice.  He wanted to hone his investigation skills that he learned while working as a corporate investigator for K-Mart.  His five years with the company had proven to be very rewarding, but he slacked just enough to get fired.  His untimely termination is what thrust him into looking for a new job.  Driving was something that came easily to him and there were plenty of driving jobs in the metro area.  His first job after K-Mart was as an independent courier.  During his time as a courier, he learned to navigate all over the greater metro area with efficiency and ease.  He was commended on several occasions about his quickness and willingness to go anywhere and make a delivery regardless of the extra effort involved.  It was his commitment and attention to detail along with superb customer service that got the attention of a customer that would routinely ask for him by name to make their deliveries. John was blushing a bit when the manager of Corporate Graphics kept badgering him about signing on as a company employee for their company. John at first resisted the idea of working for someone else and treasured the idea of being independent with choices of when he wanted to work.  However, knowing that he did not have any benefits, John reasoned that the security that comes from a company-sponsored benefits package would be highly desirable for his wife.  So he accepted the job, a uniform, and a boss.

He pulled onto I-95 and quickly accelerated up to highway speed and flow of traffic, which was well above the posted 55mph.  The white Ford Econovan had a powerful engine that was just perfect for the demands of delivering many boxes of books and documents that Corporate Graphics produced for the vast customer base in the tri-state area.  It was not unusual for some of his runs to take him as far south as Richmond Virginia and as far north as Pennsylvania.  While making his way to his stop, his mind drifted to other thoughts that had consumed him, mostly the pretty young lady he befriended on the second floor of the Bally’s health club in Alexandria.

It was nothing that he had planned or even hoped for, but with the many visits he made to the club to work out, he found the very fit dirty blonde to have an undeniable attraction he couldn’t easily shake.  He was mostly shy and very awkward with women, so he found it quite surprising that this fitness instructor would see beyond his many stumbling moments and find him rather attractive also.  Across the room glances and flirting conversations, they would send each other any time he was there was so obvious that even some of the patrons voiced their discontent.  John did have a cover that he used to continue to have contact with her. He happened to sell a nutritional line that he wanted to promote at the club.  And of course, getting the opinion of a fitness instructor as dedicated as Vicky was very valuable to him.  So any time he stopped by the club he made a point to have some products on hand that he could promote to the other club members and, of course, to engage in long conversations with Vicky.  On one such occasion, he was flirting with Vicky to the point that she was uncomfortable and she made her point known.

“John, listen, it is not very professional as a company representative to flirt with your clients.  People will get a very wrong impression, so why not cool it in here, OK?”  She was firm, blunt and gave him a very serious look.

“You’re right Vicky. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to make you feel uncomfortable.  I can assure you it won’t happen again.  But listen, why don’t you let me make it up to you over lunch or dinner sometime, outside of the club?”  He had a small grin on his face that caused her to smile back.  Vicky gave him a very long look and then said, “You are very sweet and I might take you up on that offer if you promise me to behave yourself in here.”

“Consider it done.”  He thanked her for the time they spent together and set up his next appointment for personal training.

He sat in the van outside the club in the parking lot and reclined the seat back for a few minutes to reflect over his next move with Vicky.  He didn’t have the confidence to date anyone these days and it still bothered him to know that he was even contemplating having an affair.  Wanda was good to him, very loyal, and it made him feel guilty to hurt her with an affair with another woman.  Should he just face up to the reality of what he was feeling inside and tell her that he just did not think the marriage could continue to go on?  Or let the devastating knowledge of his affair come as a shock, which would force her to abruptly end the marriage.  No, Wanda deserved a lot better than that, and he thought that God would most certainly hold him accountable for the way he treated her.  With that thought in mind, he wondered just how did he let it get this far.  Was there still time for him to turn the direction of his life around?  Could he look at himself with confidence knowing that he had planned and carried out an affair with the sole purpose of breaking up their marriage?  Well, something had to be done and he had better think of something quick because tension and the silence between him and Wanda was growing.

It had been several months since they made love and often he would stay up long after she went to bed and fell asleep to ensure he did not have to share any intimacy with her.  Her complaints still ringing in his ears of the fact that she did not like to have to always be the one to initiate sexual contact.  It was not that the sex wasn’t good, she just hated the fact that she didn’t feel as if she was wanted.  She knew she had some flaws in her body that could not easily be overlooked, but she could feel the passion of him every time they made love.  And he never seemed disgusted with her body. Yes, he told himself on several occasions that perhaps he could seek another woman a bit more appealing and who had much more chemistry, but he also had grown used to the comfort of this woman who kept a great home and was the role model of the domestic lifestyle.  He wanted to someday settle down and have a comfortable home that Wanda provided.  It made sense to be practical and stop chasing everything that had a short skirt and pretty smile.  Still, his sense of adventure kept calling him to seek more and find out if he had what it took to charm the ladies that were so far out of his league.  Vicky was his latest quest.  So just how far would he go before his better judgment kicked in and he controlled the urges within him that should only be for Wanda his wife?

He quickly pushed the thoughts out of his mind as he got back on the road and headed to the University of Maryland campus for his next delivery.  Within a few miles, his mind drifted back to Vicky.  He knew that something would have to be done before he went too far.  He never regarded himself as a person who would cheat on his wife and was startled at this very moment that even the thought was in his mind.  How could he hurt her like that?  And besides did he not forget what he read in the Bible about accountability for such actions.  ‘God will not tolerate hypocrites regardless of who they are.’ he reminded himself.

He wondered what had happened over the years to get him to this point.  Was it inevitable in spite of his best efforts?  He had a lot of questions about himself as a real husband now that cheating was a part of thoughts and fantasies he was not supposed to allow himself to have.

John could not bear the thought of living a lie and being very good at it.  He had a conscious that would hound him with every sin he committed and a holy spirit that would most certainly remind him of his errors.

To the outside world John seemed to have it all together, yet on the inside his coping skills were breaking down more and more each day.  His fast-paced schedule seemed to be closing in on him with every passing moment.  His gym membership at Bally’s had served as a distraction and an outlet to vent his frustrations of life.  However these days he craved something more to suppress the deep guilt that was consuming him.  He was not known for reckless living, however, every now and then he would push the envelope and live on the wild side.  As a man who still had vast amounts of energy and youth, he sought to do things that would give him an adrenaline rush.  Wanda was very mild and tame. John had often spoken of doing something reckless just for the fun of it.  She, however, was not only cautious, but her desire to see him in a more docile state meant that he would not be risking his life in some skydiving accident and thereby jeopardizing her security.

By late that afternoon, John had completed most of his stops and deliveries.  He had always planned his route so that he could take advantage of the HOV

lane that ran from Washington DC to Triangle, Va.  It was the fastest way to Virginia around the three o’clock hour.  John needed to be in Virginia by late afternoon at least twice a week, however not for business purposes.  He had managed overtime to find a habit that required lots of cash to fulfill. He had always told himself that it was just a little pick me up to help him get through the stress of the day.  And, to be honest, that is just how it started on the day he met a pretty well dressed blonde at a Dunkin Donut’s shop in Dumfries.  Cindy Adams was the one pretty girl who flirted just enough with her southern accent and dazzling smile to get him to stop there every time he was in the Dumfries area.  As a matter of fact, he would even make excuses to be in that area just to spend some time with her.  Cindy was an office manager at the professional building that was home to lawyers and doctors and one accountant.  She often took her lunch break at the Dunkin Donuts because of the close proximity to her work. Her budget only allowed for frugal fixings at Dunkin Donuts.  John offered to buy her lunch every time he was in the area, as a thank you for her shared company.  It was during these breaks that Cindy revealed a lot about her life and how at times she felt so overwhelmed with the responsibilities of the office.  She told him that her energy sometimes lagged far behind and even the heaping cups of black coffee was not enough.

On one such visit, John asked, “How do you do it, Cindy?  A girl like you needs her beauty rest. And you know you cannot keep up this pace for long.”

She looked at him and smiled.  Then she gently touched his arm and said, “Well I have a friend of mine who gives me a little something to get me through the rough spots.”  She grinned and then continued, “It is also responsible for my charming personality at this time of the day when otherwise I would be ready to strangle everybody in my building.”

John looked at her intensely and then smiled and said, “Ok there, cute one, what is it exactly that makes you so endearing?”

“Well, if I tell you, I need you to promise me not to tell anyone.  And it may be something that could help you out on your route.  I bet it will keep you calm enough so you will not run over anybody.”

“I’ll have you know that I am a professional driver and I don’t run over people.” He smiled and began to be even more curious.  “But OK, I promise and I might consider your offer.”

Cindy reached into her small burgundy pocketbook, took out a notepad, wrote down a phone number and then handed it to John.  “Take this, call this number and tell the person who answers the phone that you are picking up for Chalice. They’ll give you directions to get this order for Chalice.”

“Something tells me I should not ask who Chalice is or what exactly I am picking up.” He was a bit nervous but thought that he could trust this beautiful woman that had charmed him so much over the past several weeks.

“You’ll be fine.  It’s around the corner, about two minutes from here, down that road.” Cindy pointed out the large window where the road went across the large intersection and disappeared into a residential area.  “Just come back here as soon as you can and we can take a drive and talk some more.” Cindy smiled and flashed her eyes and slung her head back so that her long blonde hair brushed past John’s face, and he could smell the sweet fragrance that made him long for her in that very instance.

“OK, anything for you darling.”  And with that John got in his vehicle and dialed the number.

The voice on the other end of the line was very rough and unfriendly.  John was polite in carrying out Cindy’s instructions.  The voice told John to come to the location and someone would come out to meet him and complete the transaction.  Seven minutes later, John pulled up in front of the apartment building and waited.  He was careful to be mindful of his surroundings and took note of the young men who were staring at him from the sidewalk and stairs that lead up to the apartment building.  It was rather obvious they had not seen this vehicle here before and knew there was a need to check it out and be sure that John was not a cop.

After about twenty minutes of trying to calm his nerves, the cell phone rang and John was instructed to drive around to the back side of the apartment building.  He went to the other side of the building and parked, even more, unsure of why he was there.

The back door of the apartment building swung open and out came a man walking quickly toward the van.  John kept looking at him closely as he approached the vehicle.  He motioned for John to roll the window down. “Yeah,” John kept his comments short needing to know what this guy was up to.

“What’s up, man?  I was told to come meet with you and you want to do some business.  Is that correct?”

“I believe so, this is for Chalice.”  John still was not sure of who he was.  But he did not want to let this intimidating figure sense any hint of fear.

“Ok let me in and let’s get this done.  I got other customers to take care of and this is a freebie from the boss for Chalice.”  He went to the other side and quickly sat down in the front seat.  He seemed a bit nervous also.  “Just take this and leave a different way than you came in here.  There is a small dirt road on the other side of the basketball court.  Take that road and be sure no one is following you.  Do not stop. You have never seen this place and I do not exist.  Clear?” He looked at John with ice-cold eyes that indicated that he would end this conversation by any means necessary.

John’s instincts told him not to say another word and just follow the instructions.  He took the small package that was handed to him and put it in his pocket.  The man quickly got out of the van, did not say anything but merely pointed in the direction of the basketball court.

John drove the van out of the complex as directed. Within a few minutes, he was in a neighborhood that made him even more uncomfortable than the apartment building.  Knowing that a delivery van would normally not be in this neighborhood, he thought it best to quickly get out of the area and back to Dunkin Donuts to see if Cindy was still there.  Upon pulling into  Dunkin Donuts parking lot, he was saddened to see that she had left.

Knowing that his shift would be over in less than an hour, he decided that it was time to start making his way back to the dispatch office. He felt relieved as he got back on I-95 heading north toward Maryland.  He kept thinking about the small package that was in his pants pocket and wondered exactly what it was.  Of course, he had his suspicions that it probably was something he shouldn’t hang onto very long.

At the Dale City rest area, John pulled in and parked his van far away from other visitors.  He reached in his pocket and unwrapped the brown handkerchief to find two small vials of white powder and a vial of tiny little crystals that looked like small ice or glass chips.  John felt his heartbeat getting stronger and faster at the thought of using or carrying illegal drugs.  What was Cindy doing with friends and connections like the man he met at the residential complex?  Did she have a drug habit?  Why would she introduce this to him?  The questions kept coming as he stared at the contents of the vials.  He heard what these drugs can do, and yet his curiosity wanted to know more.

While he was looking at the drug package, he failed to recognize the movements of the men closing in on his van with weapons drawn. In the most shocking manner, he was introduced to them.

“Step out of the vehicle and put your hands on top of your head! Do it now!” The sounds coming from several police officers was quite intimidating and happened so fast that John didn’t have time to process the reality of what was happening to him.

John’s emotions quickly changed to sadness as he complied with the officers’ orders.  In less than four minutes John was handcuffed, read his rights and placed in the police car.  His thoughts were erratic, and he felt like his world had just caved in.  How would he explain all of this to his wife?  The flashing blue lights snapped him back into the reality of the moment.  How he wished he was dreaming, but clearly, he was awake and in the middle of a nightmare. As the police car sped off to the Prince William County Detention Center, John began to feel deep remorse.

 

 

 

 

Obedience vs Disobedience, Both Have Generational Impact

Recently I was engaged in a conversation with someone who was adamant about the current trend in our country to not only disagree with our national leaders but to defiantly oppose them by any means necessary.

While listening to their opinion, I wondered how they would respond to the counsel of the Bible on the subject of how to handle our governing authorities.

I find it interesting that God took the time to deal with how we are to interact with those governing over us.  I can imagine it was most important during the time of Jesus in Jerusalem, because of the turmoil of the Jewish people living under the rule of the Roman Empire.

While the Jewish people wanted to be free of the oppression of Rome, their ideas of how that would happen was radically different from what the new young Jewish leader of the emerging movement that would take over the world was teaching.

Consider what the Bible says about our response and attitude to those who govern over us and compare it to what is currently in the American culture:

Romans 13 vs 1-7  Submit to Government
13″ Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.

2 Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.

3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same.

4 For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil.

5 Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake.

6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing.

7 Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.”

Some may think that blind obedience when a questionable governing power is causing chaos, is the cowardly thing to do.  This does not mean that you cannot take an active role in silently engaging on behalf of the governing authorities.  Praying for our leadership to have the wisdom to lead and to submit to Godly principles for leadership is a very active sign of engaging.  It not only petitions the leadership before God, but it also allows the submission of your heart to God so that you are not buffeted by the emotions that will come when you see leadership acting contrary to Godly principles.  You will be able to rest in knowing that all leadership has to answer to God, because by his authority alone are they established.  Romans 13 verse 1

When I referenced this teaching and attitude about submission to government and obedience thereof to the person I was speaking with, they immediately were highly offended by the notion of obedience.

Admittedly obedience does not come naturally to us.  Just ask any mom or dad.

Furthermore, when it comes to obedience, all I have to say about that is, it was disobedience that got this whole world messed up in the first place.  If disobedience to God is what got our country and the entire world in the bad state we now find ourselves, why do we think that continued disobedience will correct it?

First, it was disobedience by Lucifer in his disobedience to God which led to his heart being changed to the point that he felt the need to rise up against God.  Does that now sound like what we are seeing in the news lately with the attitude of rising up, protesting and the call for the ouster of our current leaders?

In my conversation, this person was most highly offended as a result of their education and intellect, and they indicated that we Christians should  “think for ourselves and not allow brainwashing to guide us into  inaction.”

I can most certainly sympathize with their point of view, however, there are larger implications regarding our obedience or disobedience.  Consider the following:

There was disobedience by Adam and Eve who were so “intelligent” so “educated” and were duped into thinking they were wiser than God, by the cunning deceiver, Satan.  We can clearly see to this day that their disobedience did not work out in their favor, and their disobedience has long-lasting consequences for every generation and human to come after them.

Thinking for themselves without wisdom was a major mistake as it is today with our culture and society.

However, the good news is that just as disobedience has long-lasting consequences, obedience has long-lasting benefits and blessings, not only to the individual but also to generations of people as well.

Consider these examples:  Noah, Abraham, Moses, Paul, and Jesus Christ.  Without the obedience of these key figures in history, well there would be no history.  Consider the long-lasting impact of their obedience to God’s principles and his direct orders.

So while it may be natural for us to look at the world with human eyes and feel the need to disobey for the sake of advocating our own agenda, the example of Jesus shows a level of obedience that has far-reaching benefits that will not only benefit you as the individual, but countless lives of those around you and those to come after you.

Is it always easy?  Absolutely not, because of our natural tendencies toward disobedience.  But slowly if you can understand that God has put in place areas of obedience into our lives for our growth, benefit, and protection, then you will begin to see that truly his way is best.

Currently, we have God’s word as the cornerstone of our obedience.  It will be the measuring stick of our spiritual growth in this life, and the absolute authority of our judgment in the next.

Just imagine if we could have added both Adam and Eve to the list of obedient warriors!  What about you and I?  Shall we perhaps incline our ways toward obedience so as not to inherit the negative consequences that we have seen duplicated in the lives of others?

Gun control or something to control the heart? You decide.

Yet again we find ourselves in the grip of delivering the grim news of a mass shooting by a gunman in our country. And yet again the same mantra from all sides of the issue are on parade on the airways and in social media. Some are screaming loudly for more as if there is even more, gun control, and others are screaming loudly for more mental health reform, and equally as loud, the chants of “good guy stops bad guy with a gun”.

I find it interesting that we are so confident that we will stop other countries or prevent other countries from conducting terrorism or using a nuclear device, when we cannot prevent or even minimize one person from using a gun on our citizens.

Especially when we have hundreds of single shootings daily with handguns by criminals and gangs and drug dealers.

Then about three to six times a year we have mass shootings, and again our confidence soars about what we are doing to stop or prevent mayhem around the world.

In the meantime our next volley of homicides is currently underway in Chicago, LA, New York, Boston etc. And a few weeks from right NOW the cameras will show us yet another mass shooting with little interest in it’s prevention.

Gun laws or any law does not effect the human heart. Only people who WILLINGLY choose to obey their conscience will comply with any law. Just drive on any highway and you will see a demonstration of human will versus man made laws.

How we act when nobody but God is watching is a good indicator of our WILLFUL obedience to law.

So what does a good guy with a gun look like, or what does a bad guy with a gun look like? And what gun control law or current gun law enforcement will prevent someone with a FREE WILL from going rogue?

Take a look in the mirror, you and I are the only people who can CHOOSE obedience to a good conscience and heart.

We equally have the right and freedom of CHOICE to go rogue.

None of your best intended laws and gun measures can overcome that.

We stubbornly refuse to even mitigate the impact of gun violence on our society. We refuse to make the hard and unpopular decisions that will impact us all.

We are not committed enough to do what it would take to eradicate this problem. We need to admit that.

Foolishly, in my opinion we think that with the stroke of a pen on capital hill with either gun law reform or mental health innovation, will absolve us of our individual responsiblity to examine our hearts that houses the sin that drives such evil.