I AM – Devotional Style Short Stories – “The Potter”

THE POTTER

As the sun rises announcing a new day to face, the screen door slams as her night guest slips out. Crushing the cigarette into the ashtray and shoving the now empty whiskey glasses aside, the woman shoves her chair back from the table in disgust. She glances around the garbage strewn kitchen and her eyes fill with tears.

Taking a deep breath she walks out to the old shed where her pottery tools lie covered in dust. The kiln sits in the corner with old rags piled high on its lid. Her work table has clumps of dried clay stuck to wood. Her potter’s wheel has cob webs intriguingly stretched across it.

Walking to the shelf she grabs a whisk broom and begins sweeping the cob webs with a vengeance while muttering to herself. She grabs a hand full of rags and furiously dusts off the work table, scraping at the old dried clay.

Once the cob webs are gone, the dust removed, and the rags put on the shelf, she grabs a glob of clay and sits down on the rickety old chair. In almost a frenzied-like state she begins to shape the clay.

She pounds, she rolls, she furiously punches the gray clay and finally a large round ball is formed and with anger she carves out the face; the eyes with tear drops spilling down the gray cheeks. She smashes the nose and reforms it much smaller. The down cast mouth speaks of great pain and sorrow.

She pokes and pulls on the clay as she forms ears. Looking at it, she suddenly smashes them thinking they are too big. The clay face staring back at her is how she sees herself; lost, hopeless, no good, the lowest of lowest.

She doesn’t hear the squeaky door slowly open and a Man steps inside. He stands in the doorway with the sun radiating behind Him watching her. The woman raises her fist and with a loud vehement cry she smashes her fist into the clay figure she has formed.

Her head drops to her chest and her sobs rise from deep within her soul. The Man steps forward and places His hand on her shoulder. With great compassion He speaks softly, “I am the Potter and you are the clay. Here, let me show you.”

He gently pushes her aside and takes the seat. With hands of a Master He reforms the clay and in a short time the woman sees before her a new clay figure. The eyes are sparkling, the nose is pert with a smidgen of freckles, and its mouth is full and smiling. Where there was a ghastly form of death, the clay figure is now filled with life.

The Man scoots the chair back, stands, and smiles at her. Tears are running freely down her cheeks as she stares at the clay form. The Man reaches out and gently runs His thumb across her tears, wiping them from her cheeks.

“I have come to give you life more abundant.” Pointing to the newly formed clay, He softly tells her. “Because you believe in Me you are a new creation.”

The woman throws herself into His arms and hugs Him tightly sobbing out all her hurt, all the pain life has thrown at her. His beard rubs her cheek and withdrawing from Him she places her hand on her cheek where His beard rubbed, savoring the lingering feeling.

She looks back at the clay form as she swipes at her tears and shakes her head in wonder. Turning back to face Him she softly states, “Only the True Potter could make something beautiful out of the mess I’ve made.”

He smiles and quietly slips out into the new day.

~~~

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

~~~

We are all guilty of committing sins, each and every day. That’s why Christ died on the cross even while we were still sinners. Through His death our sins are washed clean. Accepting Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior cleanses us and we are made new through His blood and by the renewing of our minds. So many times we see ourselves in the exact opposite way that Christ sees us. As in the story, she saw herself ugly and hopeless and yet Christ sees her, even in her sin, as beautiful and loved. Each one of us is special and greatly loved by the One who created us and He has a special purpose for each of His children. With our permission He will transform us into what He created us to be.

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I AM – Devotional Style Short Stories – “The Christmas Gift”

 

The Christmas Gift

The doors fly open and the sale is on. Crowds by the hundreds push, shove, and trample others to get to the discounted merchandise. One woman shoves another with a face masked in anger, “That one is mine!” she yells as she shoves another woman to the side.

The police stand outside the doors to try to control the crowd, to no avail. “Oh Little Town of Bethlehem” is playing on the intercom and yet no one notices. They’re focused on the goodies that might make a distant relative like them just a little more or for a family member that insisted that item is the only thing they want under the Christmas tree.

A Man stands back from the crowd and watches. Disgust is on His face. He listens to the piped in music and shakes His head in wonder. His thoughts are sad for He is watching the commercialization of His birth; the birth of the Creator of the World who came and died so that these greedy people could fill their baskets with all that will be tossed out within weeks.

A woman stops, she tilts her head slightly to the side as she listens to the song, “Oh Come all Ye Faithful.” She sees the Man standing off to the side and approaches Him. “Hello.” She says sadly.

He looks at her with sad eyes and replies, “Hello.” He nods toward the pushing and shoving people and asks, “Why aren’t you out there with them?”

She looks out over the crowd and then back to Him. “I came for one item because we don’t have much money.” A tear forms in her eyes and escapes. She swipes it away quickly and continues, “I hear the music, the Christmas carols being played, and looking out at these people, I realized I was just like them. I would have fought anyone or anything to get the one gift I came for.”

“But now?” The Man asks interested.

“But now I have learned better. I have four children and watching these people has made me realize this isn’t what I want to teach them. I’m not perfect and I do a lot of things wrong but I want to teach my children that the greatest gift ever given at Christmas was Jesus.”

Before the Man can reply someone slams into her and growls, “Get out of the way woman!” She is almost knocked off her feet and the Man grabs her arm to steady her and guides her out the door.

~~~~

Luke 2:11 – “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”

~~~~

I’m sure many of us have witnessed the crowds during the Christmas season. I have seen a fight break out over a parking space, the pushing and shoving, and angry customers. It seems we are so focused on getting just the right gift for friends, family, or colleagues that we forget what Christmas is about. This story reminds me of the Bible story of two sisters; Mary and Martha. Jesus shows up and one is rushing about in a frantic panic while the other sits at Jesus feet. Aren’t we doing much the same during the Christmas season? We rush, we cook for days, we slave over getting the house clean, and by the time Christmas Day arrives we’re exhausted and can’t enjoy the time with friends or family!  And then there are also those organizations that want to render this holy day as nothing more than just another holiday where people get a day off from work. The merchants begin touting Christmas trees and decorations along with Halloween costumes. And they do it because we, the public, buy their merchandise right along with the Halloween costumes in our shopping carts. But at the same time, there are those of us that sit back, listen to the Christmas carols, and relax!  We don’t stress over what gift to buy, we don’t cook for days on end, and we stay away from the crowds at the Malls. Our simple decorations is a Manger scene and maybe a Christmas tree in the corner. No, we aren’t Mr. Scrooge! Our focus is on the real meaning of Christmas, a child is born, and His name is Jesus, God in the manger. That’s what Christmas is about! He is the greatest gift anyone will ever receive! Are you Mary or Martha? Are you focused on the commercialization of the most holy day or are you sitting at the feet of our Lord and Savor?

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I AM – Devotional Style Short Stories – “The Last Stop”

The Last Stop

A whistle breaks the silence, wheels speed across the tracks, smoke billows filling the air with white steam as the train speeds along the tracks.

There’s only one car to this train and only two stops. It’s filled with passengers from all walks of life. A lady, dressed in fine silk, jewels dangling from her ears, neck, and wrists. Her fine feathered hat sits proudly on styled hair. Her husband sits next to her typing on his laptop computer, paying no attention to her constant babble.

Families sit together with their children gaping out the window at the scenery as it speeds by. The scowl of a mother catches the Conductors eye. He smiles but she snarls under her breath and digs an elbow into her husband’s side. He grunts and ignores her.

A few teenagers, with their multi-colored hair, nose rings, tattooed bodies, and slouchy pants, sit slouched on the benches discussing the latest horror movie and Rap song with its lyrics of back to back cuss words and condemnation of all that is good. The Conductor stops beside them. They don’t acknowledge Him.  He states, “Follow Me.” They ignore Him. He rubs the dust off His shoe on His pants leg and moves on.

As He approaches another group tears threaten to spill. Women in ragged dresses, men in torn dirty shirts and infants in dirty diapers fill a corner in the back of the compartment. Sandwiches are set aside while heads are bowed in praise and thanksgiving as the Conductor steps among them.

The Conductor touches the shoulder of a lame man, “Be healed,” the Conductor states. The man immediately jumps to his feet and runs in a circle shouting, “Praise God, I can walk!”

The Conductor moves to a woman with an infant with a cleft lip. He smiles down at the infant and with compassion, looks heavenward, whispers a prayer, and places His finger on the child’s lip. It’s instantly healed and the baby smiles brightly. The mother cries tears of joy and thanks Him.

None of the Conductors actions have gone unnoticed. Some begin praising, others shout, “Hosanna,” and yet others raise a questioning eyebrow and announce, “It’s a trick!”

The train begins to slow. Some of the passengers begin gathering their fine leather bags, others pick up the toys of their children while others kneel in praise and thanksgiving for the blessings of a meager meal and the warmth of the compartment.

The train stops and the door slides open. The Conductor stands beside it and as one passenger after another line up to exit, the Conductor announces, “Many who are the greatest now will be least important then, and those who seem least important now will be the greatest then.”

He points His finger at the ragged group in the back of the line and states loudly, “You, My children, step forward. For those who believe shall inherit the kingdom of God.”

Angry shouts fill the compartment, some try to shove their way through the door. Many stand quietly waiting to be called forward. As the line moves forward, the Conductor instructs some to return to their seat, others, He smiles and tells them they have been “good and faithful servants.” Each child is given a loving hug as He tells them to be careful stepping off the train.

The engine of the train roars to life, steam bellows forth, and a loud clank is heard as the door slams shut and the train speeds off down the track for the last stop. The majority remain aboard.

~~~~
John 3:3 “Most assuredly I say unto you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God”

~~~~

There are some who have said that death begins the moment we leave our mother’s wombs. Life is a journey and as we grow and mature we make decisions each and every day. There is one decision that is more important than any other decision we will ever make in this life; where we will spend eternity. Some take life with a slow motion attitude, cruising along with seemingly no cares, and others feel they are on a fast track and rush around in chaotic furry. At the end of it all it is not what we do or how we do it but what we believe, who we have believed in and who we have served. Do we serve ourselves as though we are God or do we serve the One who is God? Who we serve will determine where our last stop will take us.

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I AM – Devotional style short stories “The Price of a Soul.”

The Price of a Soul

A mid-afternoon walk seems to be what’s on the Man’s mind. He strolls down the tree laden street enjoying the browns, gold’s, yellows, and greens of Fall.

At the end of the street He sees a church and decides to go in and have a chat with the Pastor. It’s the middle of the week so He knows the church will be empty.

Climbing the stairs to the front door He enters and stops. The Narthex has a few comfortable chairs to one side. A buffet table is lined with clip boards for signing up for various activities offered in the church, and their devotional magazine is neatly stacked at one end.

To His right is a long hall and He sees the sign pointing to the pastor’s office. Upon approaching the open door he hears voices.

He stops.

“Well, you know how some of the congregation will feel if I marry you two.” He hears. He knows it’s the pastor.

“Oh, who cares what those holier-than-thou old fuddy duddies think! Gay marriage is now legal so they can just get over it!” A male voice states emphatically.

The Man looks up toward heaven and remains silent outside the door.

“I’m just not sure.” The pastor states.

The Man hears a chair scoot and then something slammed down on the desk. Another voice asks, “How much is your fee? I’ll write you a check right now for whatever you want to marry us!”

“Wellll,” The Pastor leans back in his swivel chair and looks at the two men for a long moment and then leans forward placing his elbows on his desk. “The church could use the extra money.” He leans back in his chair.

“Then you’ll marry us?” One of the men asks hopefully.

“Yes! Why not? That fee will come in handy.” He smiles.

The Man steps back. The two men race out the office door, hooting and hollering and clapping each other on the back and shoulders.

The Man enters the pastor’s office with a scowl on His face. He looks across the pastor’s desk directly into the eyes of the pastor and pointedly asks, “How much is your soul worth today?”

~~~~

Ephesians 5:31-“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”

~~~~

It is sad to see many of the churches today are compromising the Word of God in order to increase their membership, increase their churches financial gain, or just simply to go with the flow of political correctness. It takes the body of Christ, those with a back bone, to stand before the church boards and demand the true Word of God be adhered to. If the congregation remains silent in these churches, they are condoning the very acts of disobedience that is being done within that church. For a pastor to “marry” a gay couple totally and completely contradicts God’s Word! In Leviticus 18:22 it clearly states that a male shall not lie with another male as with a woman. It is an abomination to God! The same goes for two women engaging in sexual acts together. God created the holy covenant of marriage between one man and one woman and the Lord is very clear on this issue and does not change His opinion! If your church is willingly going against God’s Word, then leave! Go where the true Word of God is taught, preached, and practiced.

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I AM – Devotional Style Short Stories – “A Jesus Encounter”

A Jesus Encounter

Entering the wide glass doors brings the woman into a whole new environment. The entrance is clean and friendly and glancing around one can see a modern, well-kept facility.

A long hall meanders off to one side of a large living space with comfortable chairs and couches. Another long hall winds toward a sitting around where games and Television can be enjoyed. Each hall is lined with doors and each door has a name and picture of the one who occupies the space behind the door.

Walking briskly down one hall the woman gently knocks on the door hoping she isn’t disturbing the occupant of the room. “Come in” is softly heard through the door. She opens the door slowly and steps inside.

Sitting in a recliner is an aged woman. Her smile lights the room as she enthusiastically greets her visitor, the one she calls her angel. The elderly woman stands with outstretched arms, “Give me a hug,” she states and her arms enfold her visitor.

Taking a seat they chat. The visitor can’t help but love this woman even though they have only been acquainted a few months. When she looks at her she sees Christ within her. Her soft-spoken, loving voice is like a soft melody floating through the air. Her graciousness and love for Christ is so evident it almost brings tears to her visitor.

So often we read in God’s Word how we are to love our neighbors as ourselves. This woman seems to love everyone, regardless of their physical or mental health. Each visitor is welcomed with love.

She speaks kindly of those in the community she now lives in. Her laughter is joyous, and although her eyes don’t always sparkle His light shines through them.

The visitor rises to leave after their short visit. She doesn’t want to tire her precious friend. Hugs are in order again as the elderly woman takes hold of her walker and walks her visitor to the door.

As the woman slowly walks down the long hallway toward the entrance of the Assisted Living and Memory Care Home she thinks, I have just encountered Jesus.

~~~~

Matthew 5:16 -“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”

~~~~

We have all met people of all walks of life and there are few that we know of their life stories. We often wonder what is in the heart of those with the sour expressions, the harsh words, and seem to be angry just for breathing. There are others we meet that seem to shine. Their faces are aglow and their smiles infectious, and their joy seems to just bubble up. Then there are those that are somewhere in between. We call those, “Normal,” or maybe even “Christian.” For those of us that have had the absolute pleasure of meeting someone that shines the light of Christ in what seems to be all they do and say, we are truly blessed. The Lord has said in His word to let His light shine through us. We don’t necessarily have to say a word and people can see His light within us. Our goal must be to let our words be His words, our love of others like His love for us and  our behavior as His. Our hope should be that when others encounter us they will see Christ in us and walk away thinking, “I have just seen Jesus.”

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I AM – Devotional Style Short stories – “Been There-Not Going Back”

This story is from a past post but this time the commentary is added. I hope it blesses you and is an encouragement in your journey.

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BEEN THERE – NOT GOING BACK

Her fingers are cramped, her back hurts, her eyes burn, and her neck feels as though its frozen in place as she sits slumped over the legal pad as her pen skirts across the paper filling page after page as it writes the chapter about her visit to hell.

“Take a break, child.” The Lord whispers in her ear. “Go lie on the couch and rest for a while.” He gently adds. She lays her pen down and standing, flexes her fingers, groans, and stretches her back muscles. Taking a deep breath she slowly walks to the couch and stretches out giving a long sigh of relief. The pen has been writing furiously and now she can take a time out.

Her head has barely touched the pillow when suddenly everything turns to black. Black, as no other black can be described. Her body has suddenly been transported from the comfort of her couch to a place that is so dark she can’t see her hand in front of her face. She’s scared. Her body begins to shake and she sense’s Someone has stepped up behind her. Peace begins flowing through her like a gentle wave. No words are spoken.

The blackness is so black there’s nothing for her eyes to adjust to. It isn’t like walking into a dark room where some light peeks in and one can see at least a shadow. No, this is so black it can’t be described! Suddenly faces begin to appear in the darkness. She sucks in a breath as they come closer and closer to where she’s standing. Men and women, teen-age girls and boys, with expressions of fear, anger, shame, confusion, and some with hatred written in their eyes and across their faces as though in large dark ink. She takes a step back. Somehow these people are not allowed to touch her but they have. They’ve touched something deep within her.

A woman, with her head thrown back, screams a bone chilling scream as she furiously twists her long hair and pulls frantically. She screams an agonizing scream, yet no sound comes from her mouth. As she watches in horror a man leans toward her and pleads “help me,” yet no words are spoken. His face is a horrible mask of agony like nothing she’s ever witnessed.

Face after face appears and pass before her with torture written on them, eyes filled with emptiness, screams of pain and desolation. A man’s face appears and comes toward her with his face contorted with absolute hatred and his eyes meet hers with a putrid violence. She jumps back bumping into the white robe behind her. “You’ll be okay, My child” is whispered in her ear as gentle arms wrap around her from behind. She feels His beard on her cheek and the comfort of His arms.

She turns her head to look at Him and asks, “Who are these people?” His eyes fill with tears. “Those who have rejected Me,” He replies with sadness. “But can’t You help them?” she asks. “No child. They chose this place. I gave them every opportunity but they chose this as their eternal home.” She wants to scream! She wants to beg Him to take them out of here! She wants to run from this horrible place. The comforting arms drop from their hug and He takes a step back.

Suddenly the faces are gone and she’s standing as stiff as a telephone pole. Red hot flames have encircled her; orange, red, yellow, flares up on all sides of her. Only her head and eyes move as she looks around. Furious fire engulfs her, yet not one spark touches her.

The Man is beside her. “You’re safe” He says. The flames grow hotter, taller and she can’t believe she’s not even feeling the heat from them. “I am with you,” He says. The flames lick at her but don’t touch her. They grow hotter still and looking skyward she can see the flames are all around her and above her. There is no escape! “I am always with you, even in the fires of life,” is gently spoken.

Poof, the flames are gone!

She’s standing in the total blackness again. Her mind is whirling. She has a million questions she wants to ask but suddenly her attention is drawn to a white building appearing out of the pitch blackness. It’s a small country-style church. It begins turning. The whole building is slowly turning counter-clockwise on its axis. It begins to turn faster and gradually it begins to spin faster and faster and faster until it spins off its axis and flies out into the darkness and disappears.

Suddenly she’s jolted from the darkness back onto her couch with the blare of the telephone ringing. Confused and disoriented, she can barely speak.

~~~

Joshua 24:14 “And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you shall serve.”

~~~

This story is not an imaginary story that popped into my mind. It is a true account of the Lord transporting me into hell through a vision. I was wide awake when He chose to allow me to experience, in part, the real hell.

Hell is a very real place and Jesus refers to it many times throughout scripture. We have to make the choice before our last breath on this earth as to where we will spend eternity. We only have two choices. Heaven is our place of peace and everlasting love. Hell is the place without love. It is the place of eternal torment. Romans 10:9 states that if we “confess with our mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” If you would like to accept Jesus Christ as your Savior, pray this simple prayer. Where you spend eternity rests on your decision.

I come to you Lord Jesus and ask that you forgive me of my sins. I believe in my heart that you are God’s Son and you died on the cross and arose for the forgiveness of my sins. I am giving you my life. Please come into my heart now and fill me with your Holy Spirit. In Jesus Name, Amen

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I AM – Devotional Style Short Stories -“The Mistletoe”

The Mistletoe

Christmas decorations line streets and the shops are filled with people.

The morning air is cold as the two women set out for the hour and a half drive on a narrow two-lane country road to visit a relative in the country.

“I think we need to head back, I don’t want to get in work traffic,” the daughter announces and stands to leave the relatives home. Hugs and Merry Christmas is offered and the two women leave.

Driving the same country road the mother is looking out the window at the tops of the trees. “There’s mistletoe in all of these trees!” she exclaims.

“Yes, it’s pretty common down here.”

“I want some of that mistletoe!” the mother exclaims.

“Mom, it’s in the top of the trees.”

“Stop, stop, stop. There’s some that is low down.” The mother shouts.

The daughter jerks the pickup to the side of the road and stops. “Where?” She asks.

“Back up. It’s right back there.”

The daughter backs up and pulls the truck next to a tree her mother is pointing out. On a lower branch a clump of mistletoe hangs enticingly.

With the mother’s excited prompting the daughter tries to climb the tree but can’t. She climbs into the bed of the pickup and tries to reach the mistletoe. Her mother hands her a long stick but it doesn’t reach.

“Grab that limb, you can climb the tree from there!” the mother insists.

“I’m not going to try to climb this tree, Mom!”

A car pulls up behind them and a Man steps out and approaches. “Can I help you ladies?” He asks and smiles at the daughter standing in the back of the pickup swinging a stick at the clump of mistletoe while trying to keep her balance.

“I want that mistletoe!” the mother replies emphatically while pointing to the clump of mistletoe.

“Let me see if I can reach it for you,” the Man says while climbing into the bed of the truck.

He tries and can’t.

“Here, get on my shoulders and you’ll be able to reach it,” the Man tells the daughter.

“Are you crazy!?” the daughter exclaims, but He talks her into it and precariously she balances on His shoulders and grabs the clump of mistletoe.

The mother is shouting and clapping in glee after laughing hysterically at the sight of her grown daughter on the shoulders of a strange Man.

The truck’s interior is filled with laughter as the two women drive home with a large clump of mistletoe safely clasped in the mother’s hands.

“I think God sent that Man.” the mother states eyeing her treasured prize.

~~~~

Phil. 4:13 – “I can do all things through Christ who strengths me.”

~~~~

There’s a saying that if there’s a will, there’s a way. I’m not sure that the scripture used means Jesus will show up and we can stand on His shoulders, but He will give us His strength in doing all things that we are called to do. The story was inspired by a trip my mother and I took and she did insist I climb a tree along side the road to get mistletoe. A fond memory but it also reminds me that no matter what our endeavor Christ is always there to guide and help provided it is within His will and good purposes. Any task we think is impossible is not impossible for our Lord and Savior. Lean on Him, seek Him, and you’ll be surprised when He offers His “shoulders” to stand on.

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