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1  Fellowship / You name it!! / That You May Live Again: Biblical Fiction with a Purpose - Part Two on: January 08, 2007, 07:27:52 PM
                                                                                                                            That You May Live Again

                                                                                                                                            Part Two

The First Couple returned from their chore and handed the skins to Jehovah. After inspecting them, with infinite precision, he tailored one into a garment obviously intended for Odom. He finished it, laid it aside and fashioned another in Chevva's size. Logos then presented Jehovah's handiwork to The First Couple.

"Remove your aprons of leaves; wear these."

Odom grimaced, but dared offer no protest. Chevva, remembering the recent bloody condition of the skins, balked.

"Please let me keep the one I have."

"You must wear the coat Jehovah provides; your covering is inadequate. It soon will wear out. The Three disapprove of it. Remove your apron of leaves and put on the coat Jehovah prepared."

"Yes, you must wear the coat," The Ruah said.

Reluctantly, Chevva joined Odom behind a clump of trees. Both returned in obvious discomfort.

"Please, Logos, this coat is so uncomfortable; it's very stiff. Let me wear the apron," Odom begged.

Chevva nodded. "Yes; please let me wear my apron, too. This coat scratches my skin and it smells awful. "

Jehovah shook his head.

"You will grow accustomed to them. The smell will wear off."

"But why do we need these in The Garden?" Odom inquired.

Jehovah said, in a tone tinged with sorrow, "You shall no longer be in The Garden. You must depart now; you cannot remain here."

Chevva took on a look of stunned disbelief; Odom groped for words. "B...B...But, th...th...th... this...!"

"You must leave The Garden Reserve," interrupted Logos, "You believed the lies of Lucifin the Deceiver, and disobeyed the commandment of The Three. You no longer can remain here."

The First Couple turned to flee, but The Ruah captured them. "You cannot remain here. Your disobedience has disinherited you, but someday The Promised One shall come. He shall regain your inheritance for you. Come, you must leave."

Chevva was carried bodily by Logos, as she kicked, screamed and pounded his back with her fists. Odom also resisted vehemently, but was pushed along between Jehovah and The Ruah. With resolute firmness, The Three delivered them at the gate. Waiting there was one of the Shining Ones who, previously had been with The Three on their frequent visits to the Garden. Now, however, he held a long, flaming device, the likes of which Odom and Cheeva had never before seen. After The Three deposited them outside The Reserve, the Shining One positioned himself before the gate, his flaming instrument oscillating in all directions to prevent their re entry.

The Three vanished, leaving the pair standing before a thick, thorn vine wall that separated The Garden Reserve from its surroundings. This was the first time the First Couple had been outside The Garden Reserve. Screaming with terror, Cheeva darted toward the Shining One, bent on running past him into the still open gate. The Shining One aimed his instrument at her and a small bolt of light jetted from it. It struck Cheeva on one of her legs, sending her sprawling to the ground. She made another attempt, with the same result, then crawled on her hands and knees to join Odom.

Trying to control his panic, Odom sat cross legged under one of the numerous clusters of trees that receded from the surrounding forest. He felt abandoned, forsaken and vulnerable.

"We can never get past him, Cheeva. It makes no sense to try again. Lie down and get some rest, for we must leave this place soon."

Chevva placed her face on her arms and cried herself into an exhausted sleep.

Through his daze, Odom noticed that, beginning at the gate, the barrier stretched as far as he could see in both directions. Composed of thickly woven thorn vines, its height did not appear insurmountable. He thought of going further down its vast length, away from The Shining One, hoping he and Chevva could climb over it. Then a strange phenomenon caught his attention   a glow that covered the entire surface of the barrier. Pulsating from dim blue, it increased to intense red, and then diminished to blue again. In continuous sequences it pulsed until, from one of the trees, a small monkey   one of a troop of monkeys attracted by the recent strange events   attempted a leap to the barricade. When its reaching fingers entered the mysterious luminescence, the glow intensified to a brilliant white. At the contact point, a splashing explosion of multi colored flashes repulsed the unfortunate creature, hurling it backward to the ground. In screeching terror, its fellow troop members swung a disordered retreat into the forest, abandoning their stricken companion to its fate.

Odom, all thoughts of scaling the wall seared into oblivion, sat staring at the limp creature. At first he thought that, like the lambs, the monkey had suffered death. But then the creature began moving its head from side to side, slowly at first, then more rapidly, as though attempting to clear its senses. Regaining its feet with a stagger, it stood dazedly, arms hanging limply, head rhythmically nodding on its chest. Finally, hands dragging the ground, it weakly limped into the forest, disappearing from view. And, with it, went Odom's hope of regaining his former paradise.

The sun was arcing into evening before the man rose from his resting place under the trees. Softly, he shook his mate awake. The woman, stupefied by the day's events, appeared muddled and hopelessly exhausted. Even the incident of the monkey had not wakened her. Kneeling, the man helped her to a sitting position. With a delicate embrace, he lifted her to her feet.

"Come, Chevva, we must find shelter; darkness is falling."

Slowly, clinging to each other for support, the dejected, desolate pair departed the vicinity of The Garden Reserve to locate shelter. Reaching the forest's rim, they stopped and, before entering the ominous gloom, both turned to gaze again at the impenetrable barrier that, glowing eerily in the shadowing dusk, separated them from the joys they had known. Reluctantly, they turned and entered the obscurity, yearning for that New Day, when The Promised One   Jehovah's Lamb   would be offered, that we might live again.


                                                                                                                                                 © Josprel

2  Fellowship / You name it!! / That You May Live Again: Biblical Fiction with a Purpose - Part One on: January 08, 2007, 07:22:28 PM
                                                                                                                           That You May Live Again

                                                                                                                                           Part One

With apprehension, Odom and Chevva approached the spot indicated by Logos. Clad in the leaf aprons, they lifted their guilt lowered eyes, and were astounded by the scene before them. Trussed on a large, flat topped rock was a lamb   a pure white yearling,   uttering no sound. The couple never had seen any creature so handled. The animal was obviously uncomfortable on its stone bed.

Logos stood at one side of the rock, facing them. The ethereal presence of the Ruah occupied the other. Behind the stone was Jehovah, a long, narrow, fine pointed, slate blade in His right hand. The sight of the blade sent the unfamiliar sensation of cold shivers tingling along the spines of the First Couple; something terrible was about to happen!

From the beginning, Odom and Chevva never doubted the love of The Three. And, though they understood they were still loved, from the moment they ate of the Forbidden Tree, an alien emotion dominated them. It was internalized by horrible sensations of impending doom that discomfited the fellowship they always had enjoyed with The Three. Somehow, a veil seemed drawn between them and The Three, who now appeared inaccessible.

Turning towards the lamb, Jehovah pulled back its head with His left hand. Still, the lamb continued its silence. Jehovah plunged the blade into the stretched out throat and, with a forcible backward tug on the head, he made a deep, slashing cut that instantly severed the jugular. The lamb convulsed, heaving against its trusses, its eyes rolled back into their sockets. With a gurgle, tongue lolling from one side of its wide open mouth, the dying creature desperately   vainly   attempted to draw air. From the wound, the pulsating heart pumped blood mingled with red froth, spurting the gore to the cold, gray surface of the execution stone.

Legs rendered incapable of supporting her petite frame, with a soft moan, Chevva sank to the ground, her long, raven hair blanketing her trembling form. Hands hiding her face, attempting to erase the horror, she lay curled on her side, sobbing.

Odom also was profoundly moved by the spectacle. Wave after nauseous wave of revulsion surged through his being, their sequences seeming to correspond to the pulsating, red fountain issuing from the lamb. He quaked uncontrollably; only by clinging to a nearby tree did he prevent
himself from joining Chevva on the ground. Face ashen, stomach in revolt, he clung to his support desperately, eyes riveted on the lamb.

Finally, with a last convulsion, the creature lay still in the widening pool of its blood. Reflecting a deep crimson against the gray of the stone, the gore crept over the edge, widening into multiple streams that, descending the sides, flowed down to soak the ground.

Anguished gaze still transfixed by the sight, Odom's mind struggled to comprehend the horror. What happened to the lamb? A strange, profoundly uncomfortable sensation rose from the deepest well of his being; desiring to flee, he couldn't move.

Finally, with a great effort, Odom managed to tear his gaze from the lamb and set it on The Three. He sensed an ambiance of such profound compassion that, with remorseful tears, he joined Chevva on the ground. Penetrating through his mournful sobs, Logos said, "Do you see, Odom? Do you see, Chevva? This is death!"

Jehovah again raised his right arm, forefinger extended heavenward. Slowly, he lowered it in an unbending arc, indicating the lamb. Descending the sky, a brilliant flame struck the carcass, entirely consuming it.

Two more lambs suffered execution, but were not burned. Then Jehovah spoke, sorrow freighting his voice, "Your transgression has caused this. You have broken the commandment, and now you have learned what death is. As are these lambs, so should you be; they died because of your transgression.

"You have seen these creatures severed from the source of their lives. Thus has your disobedience severed you from the source of your lives   your communion with The Three. You have died, and through you, your race also has died. Though you still exist, you are dead, but you may live again.

"To live again, your race must observe this Memorial throughout all their generations, until he who has done no transgression comes. He is perfect in his obedience. He is my lamb who shall offer himself for you. With his blood, he shall purge your transgressions, that you may live again. Those of your race who receive him also shall live again.

"The blood of these innocent Memorial lambs hides your guilt from my sight, but only until my lamb is sacrificed. His blood shall thoroughly purge those who receive him from their transgressions. Until he comes, you must do as you have seen me do, and your seed after you also must do so, that you may live again."

When Jehovah finished speaking, he began skinning the remaining carcasses. When the grisly task was completed, he summoned the couple and held out the fleeces still stained with blood. Cringing back, Odom and Chevva refused to accept them.

"Take them! Wash them in the stream! The red stains are from the blood. Cleanse the fleeces thoroughly and return to me. Don't dawdle. Work quickly and hurry back."

The First Couple backed away, but no reprieve came from The Three. Gingerly holding their malodorous burdens at arm's length, they headed for the nearby stream.

"Man has become as one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not partake of the Tree of Life and live forever in his transgression," Jehovah said.

Yes, Odom and Chevva must leave the Garden Reserve," agreed Logos, "but they shall attempt to return."

The Ruah said, "I have summoned one of the Shining Ones for that reason. Odom and Chevva indeed will seek to return to the Garden Reserve, but the Shining One shall prevent it. The time will come when Odom's race shall partake of the Tree of Life, but not now."

                                                                                                                             Continued in Part Two

3  Entertainment / Laughter (Good Medicine) / The School of the Prophets and Prophetesses: Part Two on: January 08, 2007, 04:31:23 PM
                                                        The School of the Prophets and Prophetesses

                                                                                     Part Two

Work scholarships were supplied to student prophets and prophetesses in need of financial assistance with tuition and board. Since the G.I Bill of Rights provided all the expenses for my schooling and then some, I needed no other assistance. However, as already mentioned, I was one of two unmarried student prophets who owned a car, so the administration asked me to drive to the town post office six times weekly to pick up the school's mailbags, because the other unmarried car owner refused the task.

At first, I also declined the task, since it would occupy my Saturdays, the only free day I had. Nevertheless, taking advantage of my humble, gentle, generous, cooperative and magnanimous disposition, the administration slyly manipulate me into compliance by insisting that I was refusing to do the "Lord's work." After they brainwashed me into their way of thinking on the topic, I meekly consented. What especially irked me was their not even offering to supply gas for my car, though I would have refused the offer had it been made.  But it irritated me that the administration took for granted that, because I was an unmarried veteran, they could impose on my finances that way.

I noticed they looked after their own school auto expenses, however. Whenever the faculty and staff did a driving chore for the school, they always turned in an expense voucher, no matter how short the trip. In my admitedly unbiased opinion, that set an extremely bad example to an innocent, unknowing, naive, unsophisticated, undemanding, pasto- obeying, student prophet in his very early twenties.  So cruelly did they stumble innocent me that, from then on, whenever a faculty member spoke at chapel services, I dozed.  Yes, I actually dozed!  And I  dreamed of a well-deserved retribution that never came. If not for my super-spirituality, my magnanimous forgiving nature, and my incomprehensible, natural, Mediterranean misunderstanding of what could never be understood, I would have quit my prophet business studies and become the only Sicilian-American monk in Tibet; I was that stumbled!!
                                                ***** *****
I especially disliked that student prophetesses did all our laundry. Each student was required to write his or her name somewhere on a piece of laundry sent for washing at the school's laundry facility. This was somewhat embarrassing for me. When stationed State side with the Air Force, I always had my laundry washed by anonymous civilians who operated our airbase laundries. When I served overseas, unknown native workers hired by the Air Force washed our laundry for us. I could walk anywhere on base and pass a laundry worker, never recognized as someone whose clothes the worker had cleaned.

Not so at the school of the prophets and prophetesses. There the student prophetesses washed the laundry and knew the owner of each item, since they could read our names indelibly printed on the clothing. It wouldn't have been so bad if all they washed were our outer garments, plus socks and handkerchiefs. But noooooooooo, nooooooooooooo; they washed all our undergarments, too. Whenever one of the laundry student prophetesses happened to glance my way, she semed to give me a knowing look, pondering a scheme to deprive me of my unwedded bliss.

I know this makes it appear that I considered myself a "catch," but please believe me, I did not. It was just thatl I didn't want to be caught.   I was afraid of being  like a fish flopping at the end of a fishing line. After all, I had never been married before. What did I know of the holy state of matrimony, other than having observed some of my friends heading in that direction? I thought of making heroic attempts to rescue them, but my courage failed in the presence of their future spouses, who would glare at me menacingly, with a don’t-you-dare-even-think-it look.  It took me quite a while to get over my sense of guilt for this cowardly behavior.

No doubt, the fact that most of my student prophet buddies were married tended to color my imagination of the "You know I washed the most intimate of your clothing, so don't you think we should get married and share out lives together?" glances I attributed to the laundry student prophetesses.  I confess that I was paranoid and could think of nothing to do about it, other than to transfer to different school, hoping my pastor understood.

He didn't!

When I phoned him to reveal my concerns, he pontificated, "Joe, you survived three years of Air Force duty!  Are you now permitting a bevy of predatory student prophetesses to route you from your studies? I'm surprised, ashamed, annoyed, disappointed, sorrowful, stunned, shocked, chagrined, mortified, humiliated, affronted, vexed, slighted, and offended, by your decision. How many more descriptive verbs must I bombard you with to define my feelings regarding your transfer to another school of the prophets and prophetesses?

"Do you actually think an interesting, handsome, friendly, personable, pleasant, attractive, good looking, eye catching, likable, amiable, cordial, sociable, genial, affable, easygoing, jovial, congenial, fellow such as you are will fare better with the student prophetesses at a different school? No, of course not! Some men are blessed with bland personalities. You and I, however, are burdened with the trials of attracting womanly attention and admiration. It's a burden we must endure to the end of our days on earth."

"But that's not fair!" I protested, "Why should I be selected to bear such a burden? Why can't I be an average Joe like other student prophets? Why must I endure the husband-hungry glances of the student prophetesses, when other student prophets do not?"

"Only God knows, Joe. Hang up now. Remember, this is a long distance phone call."

Needless to say, the call to my pastor solved nothing, nor did his multi descriptive analysis of my personality, especially when he placed himself in the same category as me, saying we must endure the burden of womanly glances for the rest of our days. It was easy for him to talk; he's close to eighty years old, due for his promotion to glory  - or elsewhere -  at any moment. On the other hand, if the Lord permits me to live out my three score and ten, I'll be around for a while.

But wait!!   Hallelujah – I've solved the problem!  No longer am I compelled to endure what my pastor called, the "womanly attention and admiration" of the student prophetesses. I've left the school of the prophets and prophetesses.   I’ve moved to the Amazon jungle. All I need fend off here are the attempts of these giant Amazonian women to capture and enslave me to labor manually for them, as they have done with all their desolate men.   

Oh, oh; gotta run now; I can hear them stomping after me through the jungle again.

4  Entertainment / Laughter (Good Medicine) / The School of the Prophets and Prophetesses: Part One on: January 08, 2007, 03:48:33 PM
                                                                                The School of the Prophets and Prophetesses

                                                                                                            Part One

We all had our own reason for being there. Presumably, the teachers were there to teach, though at times I wondered about that. Since theological students were draft exempt, in my cynical view most of the boys were there to escape the draft, while the vast majority of the girls were there to snare husbands.  Nonetheless, the greatest percentage of students, by far  – both male and female - claimed to have experienced a supernatural "call" to the ministry; moreover, almost everyone of them also testified to having received a heavenly commission to a particular missionary field    the Far East, India, Venezuela, Guatemala, ad infinites. From the many who made such claims in the years before my graduation, only a handful actually became missionaries – all but two of them not to the nations to which they allegedly received calls. I assumed the others either were disobedient to their heavenly callings or had them withdrawn when they married spouses evidently called to America.

Often, the called ones would snootily inquire about my calling. I always cringed at this question, since it invariably stumped me and put me on the defensive. The claims of these super spiritual giants, who actually could hear God's voice directing them to study foreign languages, when
most of them couldn't even pass English, seemed marvelous to me. It made me feel slighted by God, since I didn't know where I was called. I didn't even know why I was among the fledgling prophets and prophetesses, but it certainly wasn't to attract a spouse. My pastor clinched that when he warned me to watch out for the girls at the school. When I asked the reason for the warning, he informed me that the girls were there to ensnare husbands. No second warning was necessary. I was far from ready to be a husband, especially the husband of one the fledgling prophetesses, with their mandated blue dresses, hemmed six inches from the ground.  The outfits made them look like clones from one genetic cell.

As intended by the school administrators   supposedly still plagued by pangs of guilt over their own youthful indiscretions   it required a keenness of imagination on the part of the boys, to envision what the female bodies covered by those uniforms were like. Still, the prophetesses in the making were given to the practice of coy, flirtatious, sidelong, glances at the male counterparts of their choice. It seemed so beneath the dignity those who claimed they were destined to turn the world upside down for God.  So dreadfully mundane!

Since I recently had completed three years of active Air Force duty, with thirty months overseas, I certainly wasn't there to escape the draft. And since I chose never to "walk down the lane" with a fledgling prophetess, I sure wasn't there in search of a mate. Because of this, the student prophetesses saw me as a haughty, arrogant, stuck up, standoffish snob. This was a cruel blow to my fragile ego; after all I was only dutifully following my pastor's admonition. In the Air Force, I both issued orders to those under me and followed the orders of my superiors. It was my considered opinion that, as my superior in the Lord, my pastor had issued me what amounted to a direct order I decoded into: "Joseph, be on constant guard and vigilant against those man hungry, husband hunting, snare laying, lasso tossing, females!" Was it any wonder that I drifted to the far side of the walkways whenever one passed by?
                                                                 ***** *****
One day, a student prophet, who regularly spent his lunch hour in his room praying for a call, suddenly heard an audible voice saying, "AAAfriicaa, AAAfriicaa, you are called to AAAfriicaa. Wheeen youuu arriiive theeere, I'll teeell youuuu what you must doooo."

This so enraptured the call seeker that he bellowed at the top of his voice, "Yes, Lord! I hear you, Lord! I'll go to Africa if you open the door for me! Oh, thank you, thank you, Lord!"

Of course, he was unaware his constant pleas for a call provided grist for the prank mill of his not so reverent roommate, who issued a call to him while hidden in the closet. When the roommate shared his prank with other student prophets, they advised him to inform the call-seeker of it, least he quit school and actually travel to Africa. The call issuing student prophet did so and   teachings on forgiveness not withstanding   his roommate became his former roommate when the call seeker asked to be assigned to another room. Until the end of his time at the school, the chagrined, prankster-called student prophet never again spoke to the
prankster-call giver.
                                                                      ***** *****
Although I happened to be the youngest veteran at the seminary, I counted the other war veteran student prophets among my close friends. Many of these veteran fledgling prophets were married and lived on campus, in family cottages provided by the seminary. Blessed to be ball and chained to spouses who did not considered them-selves prophetesses, they occasionally invited us single veterans for a meal at their cottages. On one such occasion, we were served chicken and dumplings with all the trimmings. After the meal, we complemented our hostess and accepted our host's invitation to relax with him on the front veranda.

"So you guys really enjoyed that meal?" he asked.

"Of course, Al," one of us replied, "It was delicious." And we all agreed.

"I'm glad. The seminary meals are good, but not as good as home cooked." Again, we heartily agreed.

For a while, we sat listening to the relaxing chirps of the crickets.

Then Al said, "I invite you here from time to time because you guys deserve at least some home cooked meals.  You say you really enjoyed this one?"

We again assured him we did, but couldn't figure out why he kept asking us the question. Al never before quizzed us about the meals.

"Do you know which chickens you ate?"

This time I responded. "What do you mean, Al?"

"Well, do you remember those three tiny chicks my kids brought back from Easter vacation?"

We all remembered.

"And do you remember the plague of inchworms we just had?"

We remembered that, too. Little green inchworms were everywhere   hanging from gutters, inching into every crevice on the school grounds, crawling along pavements, monopolizing benches, infiltrating classrooms through opening only they could locate, creeping along lawns, swinging by silken threads from trees and   not bashful about entering the dormitory rooms   earned loud, high-pitched screeches from the student prophetesses.

Quite an accomplishment for tiny green caterpillars!

Even automobiles were not immune to the invaders. I was one of only two unmarried students who owned a car. I didn't dare leave the windows opened even a crack; the inchworms would have gained a hasty access to my car's interior.

In an amused tone, Al concluded, "Well, put those chicks and those inchworms together and what do you come up with?"

We immediately understood what he was saying, though we wished we didn't. The chickens we found so delicious were fed a diet of inchworms. After being fed this information, I am certain our faces turned as green as those inchworms. However, we continued to accept Al's generous dinner invitations; after all, he and his family also had eaten the green inchworms fed chickens.

                                                                                                            Concluded in Part Two
5  Theology / Bible Prescription Shop / QUIET MOMENTS WITH GOD on: January 08, 2007, 12:50:26 AM
                                                                               Quiet Moments with God

"You don't want the radio on this morning do you, honey?" my wife, Marie, asked.

Usually, during breakfast, we listen to the news, but this Monday we added the bonus of a quiet meal to our devotions.

The previous day we conducted services at a church across the city. Spring road repairs made traveling hectic. Though we allowed ample time to arrive unhurriedly, the detour mazes repeatedly routed us into the heart of the city. Finally, a traffic officer directed us to the expressway. Somewhat frazzled and in need of another quiet moment with God, we reached our destination. Sitting quietly in our car for a  time, we worshiped silently and the tenseness dissipated, replaced with God's peace. Refreshed for the service, we entered the church.

A hectic lifestyle is the accepted norm today. A friend of ours, newly transferred to another state by his company, was appalled at housing costs in the new locale. The realtor informed him the high costs were due to the demand created by the bedroom community's close proximity to New York City, only a one and one half hours ride by commuter train.

For many, such commutes are the norm!

I recently traveled the outbound lanes of an expressway, where inbound vehicles were in a bumper-to-bumper, three abreast, crawl into the city. Tracking the situation for more than nine miles, I commented to my companion that an accident probably had occurred. He said that such traffic was normal for that time of day.

It's considered normal today for three lanes of traffic over nine miles long, to travel bumper-to-bumper at crawl speed!

We all can cite comparable accounts illustrating that our society finds it impossible to relax. The tension factor is this generation's accepted norm. Not immune to the standard, Christians also feel such pressures; therefore, in addition to personal and family devotions, we habitually should replenish our spirits, at convenient intervals, by quiet moments with God. We can enjoy such unregimented moments anywhere.

Believers in gentler eras understood the value of quiet moments with God. Long ago, an anonymous writer penned words apt to our times: "There is restlessness and fretfulness in these days, which stand like two granite walls against godliness. Contentment is almost necessary to godliness, and godliness is absolutely necessary to contentment. A very restless man will never be very godly, and a very godly man will never be a very restless man. 'Be still and know that I am God.'"

In the 1800's C. H. Spurgeon, quoting Matthew Poole, wrote that the still waters of Psalm 23 "...are opposed to great rivers, which both affright the sheep with their noise, and expose them to the danger of being carried away by their swift and violent streams, whilst they are drinking from them."

The Apostle Paul noted that, for Christians to avoid society's debilitating tides, it would be necessary to "...go out of the world" (I Cor. 5:10). This being so, the noise and dangers of modern "violent streams" sometimes do "affright" us. By entering often into the quietness of our Shepherd's pastures, we permit His Presence to assuage the strains and tensions our times produce.

Jesus scheduled periodic rest from intense activity for His disciples. His words, "Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while," highlight the soul's quest for quiet moments (Mark 6:31 NKJ). Solitary times received a high priority from Jesus. His custom of retreating into quietness with His Father emphasizes this need in each of us. If the Master required quiet moments, how much more do we?

Austin Miles (1868 - 1946) composer of the beloved hymn classic, "In the Garden," wrote that he began his quiet times with God "... while the dew is still on the roses..." and extended them until nightfall. Most likely, modern lifestyles make such a schedule impossible for most Christians. Nevertheless, as we glean frequent, daily intervals for quietness with God, we still may withdraw from these hypertensive times to hear His voice. During these quiet moments, wherever we are is transformed into a garden of fellowship. And, there, He assures us we are His own.

                                                                    Josprel invites reader comments on this article.

                                                                                                            ©  Josprel

6  Theology / Bible Study / How to Read the Bible on: January 07, 2007, 07:29:20 PM
                                                                                                                      How to Read the Bible

In prayer we communicate with God, but God's primary means of communication with us is through His Word. The author of Psalm 119 - most likely King David - wrote, "Thy word have I hidden in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee" (verse 11). In this psalm David exalts the beauty of God's word.

Did you ever think of God's Word as being "beautiful"? It is; but it's also supernatural. Its enemies have vehemently endeavored to eradicate it from the world, yet it endures, supernaturally protected by the Holy Spirit. Wherever the Bible has gone, salvation and enlightenment have followed. For that reason, Satan hates the Bible. He knows those who believe it and are born again escape his clutches.

Some number of years ago, Christian missionaries discovered a remote tribe of natives who had never before encountered anyone but other natives. The missionaries stated that the tribe was so ignorant of spiritual matters, that it had no religion, no concept of spiritual matters. The tribal members’ lives were grossly immoral. They lived in filth and were so warlike that other tribes were in terror of them, since they often attacked these tribes and killed their men, older women and the children. However, they kidnapped the younger women for their own vile purposes.

After learning their language, the missionaries began explaining God's Word to the natives. Almost immediately, the chief and his wives believed and were converted. Others followed, until most of the members of the tribe were born again and baptized in water.

What a transformation those people experienced! They washed and cleaned themselves. They stopped their wars and killings. They also constructed a church building for services. After the missionaries reduced the language to written form, they copied portions of the Bible into it. The chief asked the missionaries to form a school so the children could to learn read and study the Bible. They did so and, after several years, the tribe had the entire New Testament and portents of the Old Testament in its language.

During this time, the chief's youngest son learned to read and write. He then attended a Bible college and returned to his tribe as its pastor and teacher. The tribe also sent its own indigenous native missionaries to evangelize tribes that once feared it.

This account of the transforming power of God's Word should impel those who read it to study the Bible. Don't approach Bible study as a chore, but as a blessing bestowed on us by God; as His principal method of communicating with us.

1. Begin by reading the Gospel of John. Follow this by reading the Gospel of Luke.

2. Read the Book of Acts next.  Then read Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, Matthew's Gospel, and the Gospel according to Mark.

3. Follow these with Paul's two epistles to the Corinthian church and his other epistles. Then read the remaining books of the Bible, including the Old Testament. Should you find the Bible genealogies tedious reading, skip over them. They were recorded to demonstrate that the lineages they represent are authentic.

4. Read slowly and prayerfully. Do not attempt to "cover ground' just to get through a book. Attempting to read through the Bible in a year is a good resolve; however, it sometimes causes us to read it mechanically, without permitting us to hide God's Word in our hearts. Can you imagine Jesus, before preaching His "Sermon on the Mount," telling the people, "I know you're in a hurry, so I'll rush through what I have to say; that way, we can cover as much ground as possible. No matter that my words do not grip your heart. All that matters is that you get through this chore of hearing me as quickly as possible."?  It never happened, did it? Yet we sometimes read our Bibles in precisely that way.

5. Keep a pad and pencil close by to record passages that impress you as you read.

6. Date what you read.

7. Before beginning your next reading, review what you wrote the day before. This will fix the lessons in your mind.

8. Develop a color code to mark the various topics that especially interest you. For example: Children concerns - green; Parental concerns - purple; Church concerns - red; Witnessing concerns - blue; etc. Develop your own personal color code and don't hesitate to write in the
margins of your Bible. Should you believe that the margins of your Bible are too narrow for notes, Bible book stores sell wide margin Bibles designed especially for notations.  Through the years, I have accumulated numerous Bibles.  However, my favorite is a wide margin, loose-leaf Bible that I use for my personal study.  In addition to writing notes in the margins, I also insert loose-leaf sheets of suitable writing paper next to Bible passages on which I make extended notes and comments that are to long for the margins.  It has developed into quite a Bible commentary and a safe-guard against the human tendency to forget.   

Do something of this sort for yourself.  You’ll be amazed at how it will preserve the insights that the Holy Spirit - who is He who leads us into all truth - has shed especially for you in your study of God’s Word.  Moreover, it will make your time spent with the Word of God spiritually nourishing; refreshing, thirst quenching water brooks in the wilderness aridness of this world. 

9. Conclude your Bible reading with a prayer of thanksgiving to God for communicating with you through His Word.

                                                                                                                                        © Josprel

7  Entertainment / Poetry/Prose / THE SOWER AND THE SEED - A SAD STORY on: January 07, 2007, 04:52:26 PM
                                                                                                                      176 words

                                                               The sower was faithful in sowing the seed, but careless in cultivating  it.

                                                                                                        The Sower and the Seed

                                                                                                  A sower sowed a seed one day                                                                                                                                                              Along life's road, a weary way,
                                                                                                  The seed of hope, of God's deep love,
                                                                                                   Of unseen things, of Christ above,
                                                                                                   Of Christ's salvation, strong and true,
                                                                                                   His sacrifice for me and you,
                                                                                                   This seed was sown one happy day,
                                                                                                   The sower sowed, then went his way.

                                                                                                   A sower sowed a seed one day,
                                                                                                   He sowed the seed, but did not stay,
                                                                                                   The seed did grow, not strong and true,
                                                                                                   It with no food could not renew,
                                                                                                   The strength consumed to fight the weed,
                                                                                                    No man was there to see its need,
                                                                                                    A sower sowed a seen one day,
                                                                                                    He sowed the seed, but did not stay.

                                                                                                    A sower sowed a seed one day,
                                                                                                    He sowed the seed, but did not pray,                                                                                                                                                   The seed, it grew, but sad to say,
                                                                                                    Was choked by weeds, what great dismay!
                                                                                                    Know sowers all, that we must pray,
                                                                                                    For all the seeds we sow each day,
                                                                                                    That sowers true, who cannot stay,
                                                                                                     Are yet responsible to pray.


                                                                                                                            © Josprel
8  Theology / Bible Study / What Are You Doing For God? on: January 07, 2007, 04:25:14 PM
                                                                                                          What Are You Doing for God?

One Sunday, Dwight L. Moody, the great evangelist of two centuries ago was preaching at his church in Chicago. Suddenly he pointed a finger at a young woman in the pews.

"What are you doing for God?" he asked her.

Moody then descended from the platform and went to where she was seated. Taking her by the hand, he led her to the isle. Then he pushed her toward the exit.

"I want you to start doing something for God," Moody demanded.

Malla Moe had only been saved for a year and a half, but that push drove her to Africa where she led many souls to the Lord. General Allenby was one of them. It was Allenby who later took Palestine from the Turks and set the stage for the rebirth of Israel.

God employs various methods to assign work to His people. Sometimes those methods seem troublesome to us, but as we hold faithful, they lead into His perfect will. In Scriptures, Joseph is a prime example of this. His path to a throne in Egypt began by his being cast into a pit by his brothers, who then sold him as a slave to a passing caravan. In Egypt, falsely accused of a crime against his master's wife, Joseph was cast in prison. However, it was while he was in prison that Joseph came to the attention of the Pharaoh. Without Joseph's knowledge, God's assigned task for him was to preserve the lives of his family, and thus the embryo nation of Israel that sprang from them.

The birth of the nation of Israel cost Joseph the rejection of his brothers, his being cast into a pit, his being sold into slavery, a false accusation, and his imprisonment despite his innocence. All this, to lead him to the work God had for him. Through it all, Joseph trusted God. An old hymn reminds us that some pass "thro' the waters, some thro' the flood, some thro' the fire, but all thro' the blood. Some thro' great sorrow, but God gives a song; In the night season and all the day long." [The hymn, "God Leads Us Along," by G. A. Young, 1903].

Isaiah, chapter six, records the call of Israel's greatest prophet - the prophet Isaiah, who has been called, "The eagle among the prophets." He also has been called, "The evangelist of the Old Testament," as well as "The prophet of redemption." Isaiah predicted the suffering and death of Jesus Christ 712 years before Jesus was born. [Because of this fact, skeptics refuse to believe the book of Isaiah was written in 712 B.C.]. Like Moses before him, Isaiah felt unworthy to answer God's call. Upon receiving a vision of the glory of God, the future prophet's reaction was, "There's no hope for me! I am doomed because every word that passes my lips is sinful, and I live among a people whose every word is sinful. And yet, with my own eyes I have seen the King, the Lord Almighty" [Isaiah 6:5].

"Then one of the creatures . . . touched my lips with the burning coal [he had taken from from the altar with a pair of tongs]. He touched my lips with the burning coal and said, 'This has touched your lips, and now your guilt is gone, and your sins are forgiven.'

"Then I heard the Lord say, 'Whom shall I send? Who will be our messenger?'

"And I answered, 'I will go! Send me!'" [Verses 6-8].

A hymnist of yesteryear wrote, "When the coal of fire touched the prophet, making him as pure as pure can be. When the voice of God said, 'Who'll go for us?' Then he answered, 'Here I am, send me'" [The hymn, "Speak My Lord," by George Bennard, 1873-1958].

What are we doing for God? It's often true that, like Isaiah, we sense our inadequacies and we hesitate to go. However, someone accurately noted that when God sends us, He also enables us for the task he calls us to do. His calling is His enabling.

D.L. Moody's question, applies to each of us; what are we doing for God?

Josprel welcomes reader comments on this article. Readers may contact him at: josprel@yahoo.com

                                                                                                                                 © Josprel

9  Fellowship / Testimonies / The Agnostic Violinist: The Conclusion on: January 04, 2007, 11:45:45 AM
                                                                                                                           The Agnostic Violinist


The alter call was given.  The minister progressed down the long line of supplicants, finally reaching Sara, Nina cradled in her arms, Paul and Grace behind them.  Addressing her in perfect English, the minister inquired, “Are you saved?”   

“I believed in God,” Sara responded, defensively.

“But are you saved?  Have you received Jesus Christ as your own personal Savior?” he persisted.
“I really don’t understand what you mean. I said I believe in Jesus.”

“You must receive Him into your heart and life, personally,” explained the minister, “You must believe that He died to save you from the power of sin, and that He rose from the grave to give you eternal life. When you confess that, He will save you from your sins.”

“But I already believe all those things. My own religion taught them to me when I was only a little girl.  Anyway, I’m not a bad person. I’m not a sinner.”

“Do you read the Bible?”

Sara shrunk back in horror! “Oh, no! Never!  I would never do something like that; only our priests are permitted to read that book!   My husband just started to read it, but I don’t want him to.  I’ve tried to stop him, but he won’t listen to me. He shuts himself in the bathroom so I can’t stop him from reading it.”

The minister prayed for her, lightly touching her brow with his fingers. Instantly, her legs buckled, and Grace grabbed Nina!

Covered by a blanket, arms lifted toward heaven, eyes closed, oblivious to her surroundings, Sara sang to the Lord in an unknown language with a melody so soul-stirring that other worshipers wept.

Not Paul, though!

Stunned, he watched Sara’s tumor diminish, and then vanish!  Informed by Grace that Nina's fever was gone, he just gapped, slack-jawed!  But, oblivious to time and surroundings, Sara continued her celestial song.

When, finally, she opened her eyes and attempted to speak, an unknown language with melodic tunes were all she could utter.  This lasted for several days, then the phenomenon ceased.  Afterward, Paul brought Sara and Nina to their physician, informing him of the miracles.  Having no other alternative, the doctor pronounced that Sara's tumor had spontaneously disappeared, and that Nina also was cured.

Now Paul knew God existed, and that He answered prayer.  Telling his orchestra he was leaving, he gave all orchestral rights to his assistant, Frank, consecrating his own music to God.  Paul and Sara zealously witnessed of God and His Son, Jesus Christ.  They gave their testimony to all who would listen. 

Conducting street meetings in Sara’s hometown brought persecution to the couple.  Nominal Roman Catholics, Sara's parents never attended their own church; nonetheless, Sara’s conversion devastated them.  Even her healing failed to move them! Her youngest brother, with whom she had been exceptionally close, forcefully slapped her across the face and disowned her as his sister.
Paul fared no better with his family. Also nominal Roman Catholics who never attended church, his six brothers and two sisters wanted nothing more to do with them.  Paul’s mother, a plain Italian woman with extremely poor vision, always before had treated Sara as her own daughter.   Immediately after her son, Paul’s, marriage, the mother-in-law and daughter-in-law had bonded into a loving relationship. Now, her other children informed their mother that Paul and Sara had “lost their minds.”  They insisted that she stay away from them because they might harm her. 

The persecution did not last, however. Within a decade, Sara’s brother, Russell was born again, as was his son (although, sadly, Russell’s wife wanted to hear nothing about being born again.)   Paul’s mother and three of his brothers, with their entire families were saved. Like Paul and Broszi, Paul's brothers also played their musical instruments in the church orchestra.

Sara's only sister, Josephine, also was saved.  Initially, Josephine's husband, Steve - who had achieved the highest degree in his Catholic society and was a well known, popular leader among the Catholics of his home town - threatened to leave his wife unless she abandoned "that crazy heretic religion."  It wasn't long, however, before he also was dramatically born again and then severely harassed by his former associates (an account deserving of its own article.)             

Both Paul and Sara continued to give glory to Jesus Christ, who redeemed them and who answered the prayer of a former agnostic violinist.
                                                                                                                                              © Josprel
Josprel invites reader comments on this testimony.



10  Fellowship / Testimonies / The Agnostic Violinist: Chapter Four on: January 03, 2007, 08:26:02 PM
                                                                                                                                The Agnostic Violinist

                                                                                           The account of the conversion of Josprel’s parents

                                                                                                                                             Chapter Four

Convincing himself that it was best not to upset her, Paul left the house without informing Sara of his destination.  His evenings usually were occupied with the orchestra, so she thought nothing of his leaving.  Still, he could feel his conscience twinge.  He and Sara never kept secrets from each other; this was a first.

The spacious church parking lot already was filled to capacity when he arrived.  So were the near-by curb spaces, forcing The Violinist to park a distance from the church - a fact that surprised him.  He had held a vague concept that Broszi was involved with a small cult.  Instead the building was a huge cathedral in the Little Italy section of the city, that he later learned housed a continuously increasing congregation of some seven hundred worshipers – all former Roman Catholics. 

He found Broszi waiting expectantly.  In front of the church - up the steps - even in the foyer - with exclamations of joy, women hugged women, and men embraced men.  Never - not even on the orchestra’s most festive gigs - had The Violinist seen people who appeared so happy to see each other.

Broszi also hugged his way toward the sanctuary, often pausing to say in Italian, "This is my best friend, Paul Perrello.  We've been like brothers since we were kids. Please continue to remember his wife, Sara, in prayer; she needs healing." 

Paul was overwhelmed by the solicitude these strangers voiced for Sara.  Several even promised to pray daily for her healing.  None of his friends had voiced such compassion. 

"Thank you; thank you," he graciously responded, "I appreciate your concern." 
                                                                                                                                       *****  *****
Paul took the seat Grace had reserved. Broszi joined the orchestra. Kneeling worshipers filled the alter rail, others knelt at their seats. Myriad voices, seemingly in rogation, undulated through the sanctuary. Then, the muted majesty of the great pipe organ softly blended in, reverently harmonized by the orchestra, Broszi's feathery metallic swishes whispering their rhythm.

Arms raised heavenward, a short man moved to the pulpit. The singing multitude stood, many clapping, others with arms lifted high. And, as the glorious worship music saturated the building, Paul understood what had drawn Broszi here.
                                                                                                                                          ***** *****
At first, the sermons confused Paul, but the music drew him back. Broszi gave him a Bible, marking several passages for him. Romans, chapter one, stunned the Agnostic; it seemed to refer to him. He had often struggled with the concept that the complexity of the universe evidenced the existence of an infinite intellect. Comparing it to the impossibility of an intricate orchestral arrangement existing without a master arranger, he had pushed the troubling thought from him, but there it was in the Bible. Once, the minister even preached on the chapter. Paul thought Broszi may have asked him to do so, but he hadn't. The Agnostic feared telling Sara about the church and he read the Bible in secret. Then one night, he returned from a gig feeling a profound emptiness.

“If there isn’t, a God, there should be one,” he mused, “Life makes no sense to me without one. This crazy world has no meaning without a God.”

He had read in the Bible that the fool says there's no God. He remembered the minister preaching that God hears sincere people who want the truth, even those with hard questions. Paul knew that meant him. He could no longer live with his agnosticism. He went to his knees. If God existed, he wanted to know Him, to serve Him.

"Please God, if you really exist, help me to know you, so that I can serve you. Please let Sara go to church with me. Please heal her and our daughter, Nina. I pray to you, through your holy Son, Jesus, just like that minister said we should do. Amen."

Their infant daughter, Nina, was sick with a high fever. Medication wasn't helping, and the doctor recommended, "waiting it out." When Paul asked Sara to take Nina to the church for prayer, to his amazement, she agreed.

“The only reason I’m going is to have the baby prayed for. Just in case it might help her. But, I’m not going to that church after that! Is that clear?”  Paul nodded.
                                                                                                                                           ***** *****
                                                                                                                            Continued in Chapter Five
11  Fellowship / Testimonies / The Agnostic Violinist: Chapter Three on: January 03, 2007, 08:16:55 PM
                                                                                                                              The Agnostic Violinist

                                                                                        The account of the conversion of Josprel’s parents.     
                                                                                                                                         Chapter Three
When he arrived home from his visit to Broszi, Tony paced the floor absorbed in thought.  Sara surmised that something had happened, but asked no questions, waiting for him to speak. Finally, Paul told her everything.

"If he hadn't quit I could have overlooked everything else," he exclaimed, "Friends always have their differences.  We always got over them before.  Sure he teased me; but I teased him too!  What really makes me mad is his quitting!

"Now he's religion crazy!  He's so holy he can't play in the orchestra any more!  'I've given up the kind of life I use to lead,' he told me; like he's joining a monastery;  like, all of a sudden, his God is going to strike him dead for being in the orchestra!  Can you imagine that?"

Then, waggling one of his forefingers at his wife, he declared: "Believe me, honey, if his God wanted to strike Broz dead, He has more reasons than I can count!  He doesn't need the orchestra as a reason!

Lowering his hand, he continued, "You know, if he had stayed, he would have pestered me to visit that church with him; and, nincompoop that I am, I probably would have gone - just to make him happy!"

Sara looked up from her ironing with a scowl.  Unlike Paul, she was devoted to her church.  She was shocked that Broszi and his family had "changed religion."  According to her view, what their former friends had done was unforgivable! 

"Don’t you dare!" she exclaimed, "I'm glad he quit! Don't you ever go to that church; even if you do see him, again!"

"Don't worry, Sara," her husband assured her, "I told him it has to be an accidental meeting.  In a city this size that will never happen!"
The new drummer was working out fine and the orchestra was doing better than ever.  Yet, for Paul things just weren't the same.  A malignant tumor had developed on Sara's neck.  The doctors wanted to operate, but refused to offer assurances.

As he had told Sara, the chance of an accidental meeting with Broszi in a city of some two million people was remote.  He hadn't seen The Percussionist for several months.  Though still angry with him, it still felt strange not to have him as his confidant.  He knew the big man and his wife would have been as concerned for Sara as he was.  Paul missed them.

Like now for instance - before the rift, he would have asked Broszi to drive downtown with him, to help shop for this expensive orchestra equipment.  They would have consulted together on the best quality.  And, possibly, they would have picked up Sara and Grace for dinner.  Instead, Paul went alone.

After making arrangements for the delivery of his purchases, Paul entered the parking lot. He noticed a new book store had opened across the street.  An avid reader, he walked over and entered the well-stocked shop. Like him, several others appeared to be checking it out, too; but Paul paid them no mind.  At the rear he noticed shelves and bins filled with hundreds of old books. Old books were his hobby.

He had been browsing for a while, when someone brushed against him.  Making an apology, without looking up, Paul  moved to clear the passage.

"Hello Paul!" The Violinist  tensed, but kept his eyes glued to his book.  That voice was unmistakable!

Again, the voice spoke. "Hello Paul!"

This time Paul turned. The big man's hand was extended for a handshake.  But The Violinist did not reciprocate.  Remaining silent, he noticed Broszi looked well.  The season was warm and, like Paul, he wore slacks and a sport shirt.
Withdrawing his hand, Broszi inquired about Sara.  “Grace and I heard about Sara.  Our whole church is praying for her to get well.” 

Still Paul's silence continued, creating an atmosphere of awkwardness.  “Here he is talking about religion again!” he mused to himself.

At last he spoke.  With cutting sarcasm he asked, "Did your God tell you I was here, or did you sniff me out on your own?"

"This meeting is completely accidental, Paul.  You know I’d never lie to you."

Paul knew that was true.  Broszi had a lot of faults, but lying wasn’t one of them - if deceiving his wife wasn’t factored into the equation.   At any rate, Sara was the only one who had known that he had gone out. More to the point, he had not known about the new book store, so how could Broszi know he would be there?

"I suppose now you expect me to visit that church," he stated, bitterly. 

"No Paul. What I did was wrong.  I was totally out of line.  It's a wonder you didn't hit me.  I told my pastor what I did, and he said I was wrong to force the promise from you.”

“Well, at least he has more sense than you do,” Paul replied.

 “I was wrong, Paul. I release you from your promise."

"Oh!  You were wrong!  And, you release me!   How kind you are!"

Ignoring orchestra leader’s dripping sarcasm, The Percussionist responded, "Yes, I was wrong.  I have no excuse, Paul, except maybe my ignorance.  Please forgive me."

Paul stared, slack jawed. To his astonishment, Broszi’s eyes were brimming with tears. In all the years they had chummed together, the only time Paul had ever seen his former friend cry was when he and Grace almost lost their son to a swimming accident.  Even then, the brawny man hid in a corner.  But, these tears were flowing openly; in public. 

The Violinist felt uneasy - plagued by vague sense of cruelty.  His sarcasm dissolved.

Again, The Percussionist’s hand was proffered.  This time it was grasped. Pulling the smaller man to him, Broszi embraced him, and Paul could feel tears welling in his own eyes. 

Releasing him, Broszi stated, "Paul, Grace and I really miss you and Sara.  Can we visit you?"

"No, I don't think that's such a good idea.  Frankly, Sara wants nothing to do with you since you changed religion." 

Broszi nodded his understanding.
"Brosz . . . about  . . . that . . . promise,” Paul began hesitantly, “I . . . I . . . just . . . I just . . . Well, you know that I always try to keep my promises, and I wouldn’t feel right about not keeping this one,” The Violinist finally blurted out, “I've been limiting the orchestra to local gigs because of Sara's treatments.  So I have a few open nights.  When's your next mass?"

"Our church is having services every night. They start at seven-thirty. I really want you to attend, but not because of the promise."

At first, Paul stared at Broszi with disbelief.  Then his response to Broszi’s disclosure fairly exploded from him, "EVERY NIGHT!! YOU’RE GOING TO CHURCH EVERY NIGHT?!?”

Coupling amusement with befuddlement at his own change of life-style, Broszi responded, "Yeah Paul; ain’t that a shocker; who’d of believed it?"

Paul shook his head in bewilderment. "Give me directions to the church. I'll meet you there tonight, so I can get that promise out of the way."

Broszi wrote out the directions.  "I'll be waiting in front of the church," he promised. And, with a final handshake, the two separated.
                                                                                                                       Continued in Chapter Four

12  Fellowship / Testimonies / The Agnostic Violinist: Chapter Two on: January 01, 2007, 10:16:58 AM
                                                                                                                 The Agnostic Violinist

                                                                                                                                Chapter Two

Home alone, The Percussionist was thrilled to see his friend.  "Paul!  Come in!  Come in!  I've been expecting you!" 

Surrendering his hat and coat, The Violinist noticed that Broszi appeared well.

"You've been expecting me?"

"Yes!!  Yes!!  I've been praying for God to send you, so you could hear what happened to me!"

Paul groaned in disgust.  "Oh no!  I'm here because I was worried about you, and you joke around!  Get my things; I'm leaving!  Be at rehearsal tomorrow! AND WITHOUT THE JOKES!"

Broszi sought to placate Paul's indignation.  "Please Paul, I beg you: don't leave! It's no joke.  I have been praying!  Stay; let me tell you what happened."

Gradually, Paul's indignation melded with curiosity.  He had never heard Broszi beg before. He seemed different, somehow.  Accepting the proffered chair, The Violinist responded apprehensively, "O.K. Brosz, but, this better be good!"

Over coffee, Broszi began. “I’m born again, Paul! I’m going to a church that teaches right from the Bible!”  As he spoke, he told of the things he had learned. Then he exclaimed excitedly, "Paul, I never knew these things were in the Bible!  I'M SAVED!!”

Unfamiliar with the terms "born again," and "saved," Paul grunted incredulously. What in the world was Broszi talking about? He was sure that, like him, The Percussionist had never even held a Bible, much less read from one.   

“Brosz, I don’t know what in the world you’re talking about. Either you’re drunk, or this really is another one of your nutty jokes.  And, believe me, when I say “nutty,” I mean like a FRUITCAKE!!”

"Wait, Paul. Just hear me out. I know you’d love the music in this church!  It has a big orchestra – all the winds and strings, two pianos, an organ, accordions!" 

Then, in a voice bordering on awe, he added, "And percussions, Paul.  This church even has percussions in the orchestra!  Can you believe it!?"

A look of sheer scorn contorted Paul’s features.  Now he was sure Broszi was pulling another of his practical jokes.  Drums in a church?  Did he really expect him to swallow this line? 

Lifting a hand for silence, he emphatically declared, "Enough, Brosz!  So this IS another of your stupid religious jokes, eh?  You know what I told you about this garbage."

"But it's all true, Paul; the services are in Italian! The people sing and are so happy! They even clap to the music.  Oh, the prayers and song, Paul!  They’re just beautiful!  You should hear those people sing and pray!  They sing and talk to God like He's standing right there in front of them." 

The earnestness on Broszi's face baffled Paul; it shouldn't be there. This was a joke.

Reaching across the table, Broszi gripped Paul's wrist, his voice reverent, "Paul, I know you won't believe this either, but the preacher asks people to get saved.  He prayed with me and Grace. We've been saved!  You and Sara should get saved, too!  Grace and I have been praying for you both to get saved.”

This was more than Paul could take!!  Now Broszi was "saved”! 

“So you’re saved. How are you saved - in a trunk?  Or, a bank maybe?  How about Fort Knox?  Now, there’s a good place to be saved!   I think the banging of your drums has finally driven you batty.  What you really need to be saved from is your nuttiness!  That’s what I think!” 

Rising to his feet, he asked for his things. Slipping into them, in a voice full of concern, he said, "Broz, at first I thought you were kidding. Now I'm not so sure you are.  I don't even know what you’re talking about, and neither do you.  For once, I really hope this is one of your stupid jokes!

“But if you really believe all this malarkey you just fed me, then you’re bonkers. You really need to see a shrink!  I’m serious about that.  If you make an appointment with one, I’ll even keep you company when you go.  Anyway, I'm leaving, now." 

Paul aimed for the door, but, Broszi instantly moved to block his path.  Gripping the knob, he remarked, "Just one more thing, Paul, I'm leaving the orchestra."

Paul’s jaw dropped; Broszi never had threatened this before.  The group was as much his as Paul's.  The Percussionist knew this; his love for it equaled that of The Violinist. 

At a loss for words, the Paul stammered, "B... B... But, w... w... why?  We've disagreed before.  The group is as much yours as mine.  Even, though you’re crazy, no one can percuss like you. Just don't talk to me about religion. I’ve told you that before. That's not too much to ask, is it?  Be at rehearsal tomorrow.  Just leave all your religious talk home."

"No, Paul.  I won't be there; really.  I've given up that kind of life.  You know what a hypocrite I’ve been. You’ve told me often enough.”   

"Aw, come on, Brosz!  You know I always say that when I get mad at you for talking about religion. It’s just talk."

"I know; but you were right, Paul.  Anyway, I'm quitting because my talent belongs to God, now."

Paul felt bile surging in his throat. "Look, just let me leave!" he demanded.

"Will you visit the church?"

"I said, let me leave, Brosz!"

"You can't leave until you promise to go to church with me!"

Now Paul was certain Broszi's mind was gone! "Open this door, Brosz," he fumed. 

“Not unless you give me your word you’ll to go church with me!”

Paul didn't know what to do.  He could never really strike Broszi; they’d been friends too long.  Anyway, The Percussionist was a lot bigger than he was.  He tried prying Broszi’s hand from the knob. It was too strong.

“Let me leave!”
"Not without your promise that the next time we meet, you'll go with me!" Broszi demanded.

Seeing no other alternative, the flabbergasted Violinist finally surrendered. Hotly, he answered, almost yelling, "O.K!!  O.K!  But it’s got to be an accidental meeting. You can’t meet me anywhere you’ll know I’ll be. Agreed?”

"Agreed!”  And the door swung open.

Then, with a brutal detachment, Paul spoke the words neither of them ever thought possible!  Face hardened into a scowl, he spaced them deliberately, punctuating each word with a finger jabbed in Broszi’s chest.  "From this day on, our friendship is ended. No longer are we brothers!”

And, feeling as though his heart had been torn from him, The Violinist stepped through the door!                 
                                                                                                                       Continued in Chapter Three                         

13  Fellowship / Testimonies / The Agnostic Violinist: Chapter One on: December 31, 2006, 03:54:25 PM
                                THE AGNOSTIC VIOLINIST                                                                                   by

                  The account of the conversion of Josprel’s parents.     

The two friends grew up together as inseparable brothers.   One was a confirmed agnostic, who claimed the existence of God could never be proved.  The other one was a religious hypocrite.  Both studied music, and together they formed a popular orchestra.  Neither one thought that anything could ever sever their friendship - until one claimed that he had been “born again,” and attempted to convert his friend.  That’s when the friendship ended!  It took a strange, dramatic, fundamentalist, religious experience on the part of the agnostic’s spouse to heal the rift!
                                                                                                                                            The Agnostic Violinist
                                  Chapter One
Broszi Lombardino and Paul Perrello grew up like brothers.  Leaving Italy, their Sicilian immigrant parents   had met at Ellis Island, became steadfast friends, and settled almost next door to each other.  Shortly thereafter, their sons were born, only two days apart, growing up like twins, with almost no life apart from each other.

Provided with an opportunity to study music, both developed into superb musicians. Broszi, a master drummer, referred to himself as ‘“The Percussionist,” as though on the entire planet Earth, he alone played the drums.  Moreover, Paul, a virtuoso of the violin, often bragged that no one could "percuss like Brosz."  On the other hand, often referring to Paul as “The Violinist,” The Percussionist frequently claimed that Paul "invented the strings." 

In their early years, Broszi had continuously prodded Paul to form his own orchestra.   "I don't have the patience to lead one, Paul, but you do.  I'll be your percussionist, and I'll help any other way I can."

 Finally, The Paul Perrello Orchestra was organized.  Orchestras usually employed "wind" leads, but Paul's violin led their group. The orchestra's sound instantly captivated ethnic Italians, expanding to general audiences, until it was in popular demand throughout several states, and much of nearby Canada.
Though he never used the term, The Violinist was an agnostic. He claimed that no one could know that a God really existed. He even attempted, unsuccessfully, to prevent his wife, Sara - who was a devout Roman Catholic - from attending her church.  Only through her perseverance was Joey, their infant son, baptized.
Broszi, however, did attend church.  An irrepressible jokester, he often teased Paul about his anti-religious views. It was a liberty Paul accorded only to Broszi. That is, until that altercation about orchestra affairs when, in exasperation, The Percussionist branded him a stubborn heathen, hoping he would burn in hell!   

Broszi had never seen the slim, five-foot-seven, normally mild-mannered, Violinist so livid. Fulminating at the burly, six-foot-three Broszi, Paul erupted!

"You impious hypocrite; you’re lucky we're friends!!  You’re worst than any heathen!  Your act holy in church, but I see what you do on the outside.  If Grace knew what you do when we’re out of town, you wouldn’t have a family left.

"If there were a God, He wouldn’t let you make such a fool out of Him, the way you do.  If one does exist, you’d be in your grave right now. He would have struck you dead a long time ago!    I'll tell you this, you big phony; if I knew that there really was a God I’d serve Him the right way, not like you pretend to do."

Turning to leave, Paul added, "Don't you ever mention religion to me again - not ever!  Is that clear?" 

Then he stalked away!

Taken aback, Broszi feared he had destroyed their friendship.  He and Paul had argued before, but never like this!  They were just brotherly spats. And Paul never had reacted this way – eyes blazing, fists clenched and voice menacing.

Reflecting on the argument, Broszi realized Paul's charges were true.  Out of town with the orchestra, he partied excessively, gambled, and was not above easy flirtations, things his wife, Grace, didn't know.  A good family man, Paul did none of these.  Moreover, he always was ready to help others.  It was a matter of honor for him never to renege on his word, and his friends claimed that Paul's word was "like money in the bank."
Broszi apologized almost immediately, but for weeks afterward, they conversed only when unavoidable. Eventually, the gulf narrowed, and then closed.  The old camaraderie resurfaced, with their mutual concern for each another.  And it was that concern over The Percussionist’s two inexplicable absences from rehearsals that now brought Paul to Broszi's door.
                                                                                                                             Continued in  Chapter Two

                                                                                                                                  © Josprel
14  Theology / Apologetics / Re: Endless Punishment on: December 29, 2006, 12:05:41 PM
Thanks for posting this fearful article by William G. T. Shed, Pastor Rogers.  After reading it, the only comment I can make is: "Redeemed, how I love to proclaim it!  Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb!"

15  Theology / Apologetics / Re: Ancient Chinese Language Supports Creation on: December 29, 2006, 11:51:11 AM
A very interesting article. I enjoyed reading it.  Thanks,

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