I AM – Devotional Style Short Stories – “Free Entrance”

In the distance music softly fills the air as two teenage boys are walking down the street. They hear music and cannot figure where it is coming from. They continue to walk toward where the music seemingly is coming from when they see a church as they round the corner.

One boy approaches the front door. “I’m going to peak in,” he states and puts his hand on the door knob.

“You don’t want to do that! It’s just a bunch of old people singing those religious songs.” The other boy announces.

The boy tries to turn the door knob but it doesn’t turn.

“Come on. Let’s get outta here.” The other boy states while tugging on his friend’s arm.

A Man walks up to them and the boys turn in fear that they have done something wrong. The Man smiles and says, “It’s okay. I’m glad to see you want to enter My church.”

The boy removes his hand from the door knob and asks, “Are you the preacher?”

“You could say that. I am the head of the church, or I’m supposed to be.” The Man replies.

The other boy tugs on his friend’s arm and snarls, “Let’s go!”

“Why can’t I get in?” The boy asks, jerking his arm away from his friend.

The Man looks at the boy intently and states, “In order to be a part of the body of Christ you must have a key. Do you want the key?”

The boy looks to his friend, then back at the Man. “Yeah, I think so.”

The Man hands the boy a large key. The boy looks at it and printed in large letters across the key is “Faith.”

***

Ephesians 2:8 “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is a gift of God.”

***

There are many that fill the pews of a church and listen to the Word, mouth the songs, and glance at their watches wondering when it will be over. God has given us grace to journey through this life.  He assures us He is always with us yet many do not cling to that promise. It is by faith that we can walk with Him. If we do not believe His promises, if we do not receive the grace He offers, we have become our own gods. To trust Him is to believe He is the Creator, the Lord and Savior, and that He died for our sins.  He states that His grace is sufficient and it is through faith that we learn it is.

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

The day is over cast, no sun has shown through as the young man speeds down the road. Traffic has been light on this Sunday morning. He’s not worried about being  late for church. He grew up in church but his buddies has convinced him, “You don’t need some fantasy God anymore.” He’s rushing to the lake to meet them for some fishing.

Entering a small country town he slows for a child on a bicycle and then romps on the gas pedal as soon as he passes the little boy. He quickly glances to his right as he speeds through the intersection and before knowing what has hit him his car careen’s, flips, and rolls several times slamming into a telephone pole. His body is lifted up, out, and through the heavy glass of the windshield as it shatters, leaving him cut from head to foot.

Lying in a pool of blood he’s barely conscious of a Stranger coming to his aid. The Stranger kneels beside him and tends gently to some of his wounds. The young man glides in and out of consciousness and isn’t aware of the scream of the ambulance siren.

In the hospital the doctors and nurses tend to him. His surgery is considered a success and upon regaining consciousness he’s told, “If it hadn’t been for the Man at the scene you wouldn’t be here now.”

“What Man?” the boy asks.

“We were told a Man saved your life and suddenly disappeared. The driver of the other car didn’t make it.”

The young man lies quietly for a long time trying to remember and suddenly a picture of a Man kneeling beside him, tending his wounds and praying over him plays out in his mind.

He searches his mind trying hard to remember more when the words, “A drunk driver hit you. I’m here to save you. I am the I Am and you will be fine. Go back to church and sin no more,” fill his mind.

Tears flood the young man’s eyes and he whispers quietly, “Yes, Lord.”

***

John 14:21 – “He who has My commands and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.”

***

It is such joy to walk past a Sunday school room filled with children and hear them singing, “Jesus loves me this I know…” Their little hearts are full and we can be proud of God-fearing parents that introduce their little ones to God’s great love. As these same children mature and enter public schools those same children are influenced by peers, teachers, and administrators into non-belief. Prayer, Bibles, and anything relating to Christian beliefs are now banned from schools. Children are being indoctrinated into non-Christian values. The worlds values! It is sad and discouraging to watch as our society turns back to the evil ways of the world leaving those generations behind us to flounder with no Godly boundaries, morals, or Godly hope. As adults it is our responsibility, not only to our children, but to God, to teach our children about Jesus Christ and His saving grace. Without it we will see the future generations decline into a Hellenistic world.

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Life or Death?

High school is difficult in some ways. All the parties, keeping up with homework, and not disappointing the peers with their high expectations.

Dating is fun but who knew what was expected to be popular with the guys. The new girl at school is pretty with her tanned body, long brown hair, and pretty, but shy, smile.

She learns pretty quickly what is expected if she’s to be in the “in crowd” and is convinced by those “in the know” this is the only way to  be popular.

After months of emotional turmoil and pressure from parents and friends, she sits in the waiting room filling out the forms. A woman stands by making sure she doesn’t leave. She’s been told sweetly, “This is the right thing to do. It’s in your best interest, and your whole future is ahead of you.”

She places her hand on the area where she feels movement. Maybe a foot has pressed against her belly. Or maybe it was a hand reaching out. A tear slides down her cheek. She suddenly stands to leave and the woman grabs her arm to stop her. “You can’t leave!” the woman demands.

The door opens and a Man enters. He stands quietly and says nothing. The young girl looks at Him with pleading eyes. He steps up beside her and gently sits her down. The woman leaves the room thinking its the boyfriend here to talk sense into her.

The girl leans into the Man and sobs tears of fear, shame, and sorrow. His hand gently strokes her back and He whispers, “This child you are carrying, I knew before he was conceived. I formed him in your womb. Bless this child and call him David, for he will be a mighty man of God.”

The woman returns as the Man stands. The girl grabs His arm. He gently helps her stand and they start to walk toward the door. The woman screams, “You can’t do this! We need that kids tissues!”

Fury rises in the Man, He spins around to face her and with anger and all Authority He states emphatically, “Get behind me Satan!”

The woman slithers away.

(Sue’s version) Jeremiah 1:5

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From the Throne Room of Heaven

I hardly know where to begin on this “rainy day in Georgia” to explain a moment of enlightenment straight from the Throne Room of Heaven.

While watching the last few minutes of a Hallmark Christmas movie on the TV, my little dog, Sassy, insisted on joining me for a scratch and a warm place on my lap to curl up and sleep.   We enjoyed her request and my mind started remembering a statement given to me recently about this little dog.  “The bonding between you and that little dog is remarkable.”

Why was this comment profound in my mind?  You see, Sassy, is a little 8 ½ pound rescue dog.  No personal knowledge on our part of her life prior to her coming to be part of our family, but the results of that life was evident to all that came in contact with her.  She was a Survivor!!  She was skin and bones.  Had been given a good grooming and we were told she was matted to the skin, full of oil and grease.  She had a fondness for parked cars and hiding beneath them.  She snarled, and broke out in defense mode whenever there was any indication on her part she was about to be hurt.  Fearful of everything around her and she sharpened her teeth quite often on human flesh.  No one would have her, except us.  Several had tried, which is why she was groomed, but they ran out of time, and patience and she was discarded and the days were being counted off for her removal from this earth.  She was headed back to a shelter that would keep her only a short time.  She was very much in the snarl and bite mode, who would want her?

It took 3 years and today she is curled up in my lap, sleeping.  That statement about our bonding started rolling around in my head and a question came to mind. How, if said to me again, would I answer it today?  The one asking the question had observed our little bundle of fun in the beginning days and was making a today observation.

A today observation, hmmm, “Father how would I respond?”  My communication door had been opened and Father started speaking to me in that wonderful, calming, soft voice that I have grown to love.  “She, my child, is not unlike you humans.  You are all so loved by Me and yet such a daily challenge.  Just like she was hiding under cars, man hides behind many things not as obvious as her hiding places but hides just the same.  And the hiding places are a result of fear.  What, this day, are you fearing?  How are you any different than our little friend nestled in your lap?”

I thought about that question and He discussed my thoughts with me.  I agreed with the change in her and then was asked another question.  “What are you running from and where are you wanting to get to?”  Another question only He can ask and one I will listen to.  I don’t often ask that question of myself as I scurry from one needed project to another and try to care for those around me.  Little dog Sassy showed signs of doing a great deal of running.  She was very hungry, lost and not sure of a destination but running hard to find something different and hopefully better than where she was.  Initially she was watched to great lengths as we did not want to have her try to escape the home we were trying to provide because we had learned that she not only was needing shelter and love, food for her worn out body and soul, but she was also very sick.

Three days after she came to us, she started having serious Epileptic seizures and they were serious beyond anything we had ever seen.  A week in the doggie hospital resulted with a discharge of “Maybe.”  Doc, at the time, did not hold out much hope for her survival let alone her having years to function and be happy.  At this point all seemed so against her.  Personal tears flowed for something so small and innocent and so terribly abused by humans that were created to care for the animals.  Love, care, sharing and happy days had been taken from her and all she knew was pain, hurt, great grief and unbelievable fear.

Discussion continued between Father and me and answers on my part started coming forth.  Like all of us, there are pockets of lacking emotions in all of our lives that may have once been there and tragic moments in life either destroyed or were never recognized. Sometimes those hurts and lacking have a way of truly destroying today and tomorrow.  But, an example of something He was trying to tell me was curled up in my lap!!

I found myself being more and more quiet and more and more in the listening mode.  “Father, there is a message here in our discussion and I have a strong belief this is a message of importance, at least to me.”

His response back to me was slow coming and I determined that was preparation for my giving Him my full attention.  I waited and I listened.  He then spoke, “Child, what has happened between the then and now of this little dogs life?  Name steps along the way where you remember change in her and what was taking place to cause that change.”

Out came the Kleenex once again and I was beginning to see where I thought He was going with our conversation and I could not believe before my opening eyes what He was teaching me and the door He was opening before me.  His timing is so “on time” and I so want to sharpen my awareness edge in my life to not miss His timing.  Here I sat, in my own home, quiet and safe from the changing season outside and a cold rain to receiving a message straight out of the Throne Room of Heaven.

I chattered like a small child excited about a new direction and that child having a small piece of insight heads out with strong emotion and a lot of “I see, I see, Lord”.  Well, like that little child I quote, in His world “I see” little!

However, His grace gave me the freedom to tell Him what I was seeing and where He wanted me to go.  Of course I was pretty much wrong, but that was OK with Him because He was going to straighten my thinking out.  No time to waste with my personal insights I so easily grabbed and started telling Him about, with much wisdom and assurance, of myself.  As I said above, I was pretty much not as far on board as I thought.

He showed me patience and love.  Kind of like that Fatherly pat on the head.

Then we got down to the message for the day.  “Child, I too care, watch over, and love.  I love way beyond anything you can even imagine.  You have heard a statement for many years about being able to know My love for humankind and most particularly how much more love there is to tap when you are one of Mine. Now, True love requires abandonment.  True love requires trust, True love requires commitment.  True love wants to be with one another. True love wants to share.  Examples of True Love are many but are you starting to realize just a little what I am speaking to you about?”

“Yes, Lord, I do.”  “Sorry, child, not sure you do. I have not given you a beginning list of things necessary for you to have a relationship with Me.  Understand this!!  I am telling you the opposite.  These are some of the ways I LOVE YOU.  All that is necessary from you is acceptance.  Your little dog asleep on your lap has now accepted the love provided to her in her home.  Accept, child, that no matter where you are, no matter what you are confronted with, no matter what happens in this fallen world, you cannot get away from My love for you any more than that little dog can.  She is healing from her days of abuse.  She is being cared for and all she knows is she feels better and that the old days and her ugly past are not here today.  Your love for her is solid.  So is Mine!  She is accepting more and more each day the love provided to her in the home she lives in.  You and your husband show her what her life can really be while with you and I show what your life can be for Eternity with Me.  How is there any difference between relationship with that little dog and relationship with Me?  It all starts with Love and it all ends with Love.  There is no measure of dialed in acceptance of love and you are done.  No way to see that you measure up.  No way to cause you envy when you see others further down the path than you are.  All this Love thing needs to super charge your life is acceptance!!!  The defiled world about you can cause ugliness. I can give the very self-same world beauty and hope.  Sassy just accepts!”

It takes a bit of time to get over a gut wrenching.  I went back to the statement given to me by an observer.  “The bonding between you and that little dog is remarkable.”  Is bonding with the Almighty beyond your understanding?  Is it a foreign language to you?  Are the horrible cares of this world tearing at you and you find yourself wanting to scream, “God, where are You?”  Are you wanting to find a parked car of your own to hide under?  Are you so like me filled with “yes, but”?  And, oh, so many more mountains of questions.  How would I answer my question today.  I would gently scratch behind the ears of the little one asleep on my lap and smile and say,  “She just learned to accept.”

(Anonymous)

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The Remarkable Story of a Texas Man Sentenced to 495 Years in Prison Who Found God, Gained Parole, and Began Incredible Ministry

In a remarkable story of redemption and example of the healing power of God’s love and forgiveness, an ex-convict once sentenced to 500 years in jail is now spreading the word of the Lord and baptizing the prison population he used to live among. Furthermore, he has built a remarkable friendship with the judge who ordered his lock up.

As CBN News reported, Texas-native Ron Adkins received a 495-year prison sentence in 1997, after being found guilty of several home burglaries. The then 22-year-old received 99 years for each of the five counts on which he was charged and picked up an additional five-year sentence for possession of an unauthorized cell phone. A district judge at the time, Robert Newsom upheld Adkins conviction. Little did either man know, they would one day cross paths again.

With seemingly no hope of ever being a free man again, Adkins lashed out—joining a prison gang, racking up some 250 violations, and even ending up in solitary confinement for 13 years. He found himself alone and suicidal, but a worn-out Bible he had neglected for years ultimately became his saving grace.

“Half the pages were missing because I had been using it for rolling papers. I had been smoking cigarettes with Bible papers,” Adkins joked to CBN. “All that was left of the Bible was the New Testament.”

In reading those remaining pages, Adkins came to learn about God’s love and grace. He decided to quit the gang and instead join his prison’s Bible study group. He began taking ministry courses, and, after beginning to display “good behavior,” Adkins received surprise parole hearing, which was initially projected for 2095. In May 2015, Adkins was released from prison.

Once released, Adkins found a job continued to grow in his faith, sharing his powerful story with churches and criminal justice reform conferences. In doing so, he met his wife Dawn Knighton, a former felon turned Christian counselor. His return to church and faith also sparked another unexpected relationship—one with Newsom, the judge who presided over his case decades earlier.

“It dawned on me, I told pastor, ‘You know what? I think that’s the judge who sentenced me to five 99-year sentences,’” Adkins recalled of sitting in church one day listening to a guest speaker that happened to be Newsom.

The men were introduced soon after, and while the introduction was initially a little awkward, the two became fast friends, with the former felon telling CBN News that he never held a grudge against the judge.

“I never did go to prison. I never did do some of the things that Ron has done. But I’m a sinner saved by grace just like Ronnie is,” Newsom explained of the surprise friendship. “We’re brothers.”

Thanks to Newsom, Adkins now works with the local Hopkins County Sheriff’s Department to meet with inmates and share his redemption story. He and his wife have even baptized some of the prisoners and jail staff. Newsom believed the ministry has created a “mini-revival” in the community. Adkins, meanwhile, is just grateful for the second chance he has been given to rewrite his legacy and, through the mercy of God, the legacy of those he touches with his service.

“In the very place where I was sentenced to die in prison, God’s going to use us to bring dead things back to life,” Adkins told CBN News. “And that’s what he’s doing. In the jail, in the worship nights, in the prayer meetings: He’s just bringing dead things back to life.”

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Pen Tip -1997

Carry in your heart love and peace.

Not doubt and deception. 

Take with you His shield,

for Satan lurks in

unexpected places.

*

Hold close to your armor

for the truth is in

your sword.

*

Be not afraid of the enemy,

for Christ is the Power,

the Authority,

above and over

all.

*

Walk tall in His grace,

for it is by grace

you are free.

*

Wear His smile,

let His gleam sparkle

in your eyes.

Be His tongue

and voice

and let only

compassion

speak through you.

*

Join His army of believers,

for if you do not

believe,

You are the

opposition.

*

His wrath comes

upon those

who are

the enemy.

By the Holy Spirit 

Growing in Grace

Grace is everything God is. It is His Essence. Besides being unconditional love given to us as His free gift it is His power that indwells us through His Holy Spirit to give us everything we need to do anything He calls us to do. His power through His Holy Spirit gives us the ability to believe and have the faith to follow His Son, no matter where He leads us.

“This is to My Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourself to be My disciples.” John 15:8

“And this is my prayer, that your love many abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight.” Phil. 1:9

“Filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ – to the glory and praise of God.” Phil.1:11

“For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge.” 2Peter 1:5

“Nevertheless, the righteous will hold to their ways, and those with clean hands will grow stronger.” Job 17:9

“And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” 2 Cor. 3:18

“The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me; Your love, O Lord, endures forever – do not abandon the works of Your hands.” Ps. 138:8

“I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained.” Phil. 3:14-16

“The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, shining ever brighter till the full light of day.” Prov.4:18

~~~~~~

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