A Letter to My Children


My dearest child,

I love you.  That is the first thing I want you to know.  I love you.

My love for you cannot be expressed in words or pictures.  It cannot be explained by the philosopher.  It cannot be understood by the educated.  I can only be realized by actions.

The actions I have taken at times have been extreme and misunderstood.  I have been falsely accused of things that no person could ever imagine.  My accusers have painted my actions with the dirtiest of brushes and made me appear as vile and evil.  No matter how hard I have tried to explain my actions, they do not want to hear.

Although my enemies have attacked me, my love for you never wanes.  You are my child, my offspring.  The fact that you exist brings joy to my heart and peace to my mind.  Nothing can change that.  You are my child and always will be.

In recent days, I have been watching the news.  I have seen the hypocrisy and confusion of this past election.  I have watched as many have marched in protest against the results.  I have read the evil and disgusting posts on social media.  Hopefully, you have not succumb to the rhetoric now being spread by those who want to do you harm because of my actions.  Please stay away from being sucked into stating what you think your rights are and remember you are my child and always will be.

Many of your siblings have forgotten what I have done and my love for them.  They have allowed the promises of this world to cloud their judgment and have forgotten about my love for them.  One of your brothers and sisters were on the news.  It wasn’t good.  They began to stand for issues, I never intended for them to stand for.  During their interview, they questioned my love for them and asked for me to not contact them again.  They have forgotten, they are my children and always will be.

Don’t ever forget how I saved you when you were drowning.  Don’t ever forget the time when you cried out for me to carry you because you scrapped your leg. I came running to comfort you.  Don’t ever forget the time when I carried you into the operating room and watched over you as the doctors did their work.  Don’t ever forget the time when you cried because someone hurt you and I told you, “You are my child and always will be.”

Do you remember the time, when you were young and you went out all night with your friends, even though I gave you a curfew?  Did you forget the time you screamed, “I hate you” and stormed to your room?  How did I react?  Did I not explain the necessary discipline with tears in my eyes?  Did I not hug you deeply and held you until you fell asleep?  Did I not continue to watch over you and ensure your safety?  You are my child and always will be.

I have tried to remind your siblings of this very same thing.  My expression of love has been overwhelming, even though many have forgotten what I did for them.  They have forsaken my love to satisfy their own desires.  They have argued over needless topics and have twisted my guidance.  They believe things I never taught and claim I teach them.  They have even turned my own words against me in order to have their own following.  I am upset with them and will deal with them soon as a loving father.  They are my children and always will be.

Others have claimed to be my children even though I do not know who they are.  They have claimed to be knowledgeable about my business but deny what I am doing.  Many times, they have called and I have answered only to hear nothing but static and noise.  They do not visit me for dinner.  They do not come over for the holidays.  They only call when they need something but I cannot understand their language.  They are not my children and never will be.

Yet in spite of this, you have spent time with me.  You know who I am and I know who you are.  We have enjoyed each other’s company and holidays have been a blast.  The time we have spent together has been my most joyous times even in times of trials.  I have watched as you have grown from my little baby to my adult child.  You are my child and always will be.

Unfortunately, your siblings have forgotten that I commanded them to be of one mind and purpose.  They have forsaken my will and sought after what they want.  They call me only when they need something and when I try to talk, they either interrupt me or hang up.  I try to call them back but they do not pick up the phone.  I have spent countless hours crying over them, desiring that they come back to me and listen to my words.  In spite of their disobedience, they are my children and always will be.

They have forgotten the time when I rescued them from the fire.  They have forgotten the times I cried in front of them, yet they spit in my face.  Now they are attacking you because of me.  In their own desperation to explain the evil in the world, they deny what I have done and curse me to my face.  They march in the streets, spread hate over social media and push the agendas of my enemies.  No more do I recognize them, no longer can I stand and wait.  No longer can this disobedience continue.  They may be my children and always will be, but discipline to my house is coming!

I am still in charge.  I have never left my place of authority.  It was given to me by my father because of my love for him and you even if you don’t want to believe it.  In the coming days, I will discipline my children because of their disobedience.  They will come back to me whether in this life or the life to come, because they are my children and always will be.

I have never changed and never will, even if my children forsake me.  My words will always stand.  My rules have never waned.  No one can change what I have spoken for they have been written down for you.  I have ensured all of my letters have been gathered to one place for your convenience.  You have everything I want you to know in those letters.  Each letter was written with a specific purpose in mind, to ensure you never forget that I am your father.  You are my child and always will be.

The day is coming and almost here when I will come back for you.  I will return when I am allowed in the time my father commanded me.  When I arrive, you will know.  You will see me and I will bring you home.  Your suffering is almost over.  Your trials have just begun.  My children will be reminded of my love through my discipline.  I will not spare my rod and my discipline will hurt, but always remember, you are my child and always will be.

My child, forsake those who speak without thinking.  Leave alone those who would yell and shout over me rather than listen to my words.  Read my letters.  Call me just to say hello.  Do not allow yourself to go in the way of your siblings.  My children should not be divided.  If my children are divided, then my enemy will seek to destroy them.  They are my children and always will be.

The words I have spoken are true and right.  Did I not destroy those in Laodicea as I told to them so long ago?  Have my words ever fallen upon the deaf and not healed them?  Has not my touch restored eyesight to the blind?  Have I not already broken the chains of slavery and freed you from them?  Have I not already said, “IT IS FINISHED?”

Now I have instructions for you to do.  They are not new instructions but reminders of what I have already commanded.  Restore your brothers and sisters by showing them the love I have shown you.  Refrain from speaking what you want but give them the silence they deserve.  Was I not silent before my accusers?  In the same way, you should be silent and your silence will bring them to repentance.  No longer march in the street but share my message of hope and love with everyone.  Listen to my commands and do what I have asked.  You are my child and always will be.

Never forget my love for you.  Never forget I died and rose again for you.  Remember that my love for you is unexplainable, unimaginable and unforgettable.  I love you with my inmost being.  All I ask is for you to return that love by spending time with me.  Read my words and call on my name.  I will answer, even if my enemies try to hinder me.  Do not listen to the countless voices in your head but listen for my voice.  My sheep know my voice and follow me.  You are my child and always will be.

I love you and will return shortly.  Do not fret or be dismayed because my return will happen, even if others deny it.  When I come, I will bring you home and we will spend eternity laughing, working, walking and talking.  There will be no more pain or suffering.  I am building a place for your, if it weren’t so, I would have told you.  Let your focus be on me and not the circumstances surrounding you.  This is a temporary dwelling, a temporary home.  Your ultimate home is with me.

I love you and desire only good things for you.  As you obey the small things I commanded, then larger responsibilities will come.  Until that time, remember, you are my child and always will be.

In love,

Jesus Christ (The Risen Savior)

The Shadow of Death


He awoke with sudden shock which made his hands shake, his heart race and nausea filled his stomach.  As he tried to gain his composure, his mind raced with possibilities.  Where was he?  What happened?  How did he get here?  With every possible answer, came another question and with every question, fear entered his mind.

In order to attempt composure, he remembered songs that his mother had sung when he was a little boy.  Every night, his mother would sit at his bedside and make up songs about the day.  She sang soft and sweet.  Every song, a lullaby.  Every note, a soothing agent.  No matter how bad or good his day went, she always sang with her gentle, soothing voice.  Even the angriest of animals would be lulled to sleep when she sang.

Once he was ready to sleep, she would sing her last note and say, “Goodnight my David.  Remember, Jesus never sleeps.”

“Jesus never sleeps”, David thought.  Unfortunately, this gave no consolation to his current predicament.  He knew his eyes were open, but nothing could be seen.  Neither height, nor depth, nor width of his surroundings were known to him.  Darkness enveloped his very being.  All he knew, was when he stretched out his hands, no walls or ceiling were present.  Only the floor was detected, a dirt floor with some small rocks.  Again, the thoughts raced, “Where am I?  How did I get here?  Am I blind?”  The unknown became the messenger of fear.  The more his realization of the unknown, the more he feared.

“Hello!” David cried.  “Is anyone out there?  Help!”

No answer came.  Only the echo of his own voice.  Again David cried out, “HELP!  I can’t see!  Anyone, please help me.”

Frozen with fear, David felt he couldn’t move because he couldn’t see.  If he moved, how would he know where to go?  Would he fall?  What if something attacked him?  How would he defend himself without sight?  His fears became so great that his mind tortured his soul with such force that his body responded with paralysis.

Moments later, he heard a voice, “David.  Are you there?”

David thought to himself, “I must be hearing things.”

The voice came a second time, “David.  Are you there?”

Knowing, beyond doubt, David cried out, “Yes! I’m here!  Help me!”

“Follow my voice.  It’s the only way!”

David thought, “How can I follow a voice?  What if they bring me deeper into this place?  What if this is a trap?”  Gaining some composure, David yelled, “How can I trust you?”

“Follow my voice.  It’s the only way”, the voice said a second time.

“But how can I trust you?”

“Follow my voice.  It’s the only way.”

Although David knew he didn’t have many options, he also understood that following this voice may be the only way to survive.  With extreme caution, David bent down on his hands and knees and began his journey crawling in the direction he thought the voice was coming from.

“That’s it David, crawl toward me”, the voice exclaimed.

While David continued his crawl, he realized the voice had exclaimed something extraordinary.  The voice knew he was crawling.  He couldn’t see anything or anyone, so how did the voice know he was on his hands and knees?  David began to fear again.  What if this voice was leading him away from the exit?  Would there be enough air for him to breathe?  Suddenly, David stopped and sat with his legs crossed, as he didn’t know what was around him.

“Why did you stop, David?”

“How did you know I stopped?”

“David, follow my voice.  It’s the only way.”

David didn’t know what to do.  Was he to continue his journey or sit there and wonder how he would survive this ordeal?  Almost instantaneously, David remembered something else his mother had done with him as a child; she held his hand until he fell asleep.  Every night she sang, his mother would also hold his hand as if to reassure him that everything was going to be okay.   Her tender touch would bring his mind to ease and his heart to calm.

“David, follow my voice.  It’s the only way”, the voice said again and again.  Every few minutes the voice would reach out and call to David to start his journey again.  Over and over, the voice called to him, sometimes loud, sometimes soft.  It was then David began to analyze the voice.  It was a soothing, soft man’s voice.  It was as if the voice understood his feelings and gently called out to David.  The times which were louder, David felt that the voice wanted a response.  The softer times, the voice just wanted to let him know it was still there.

After thinking of his mother, he decided to continue his journey on all fours once again.  David propped himself to the awkward position and began to travel toward the voice once more.  It was then David noticed his hands and knees began to hurt.  Rawness started to encroach on his flesh.  Movement led to pain and pain to fear.  Suddenly, David felt moisture on his hands and knees.  He didn’t hear water so could only assume the crawl had taken a toll on him.  He feared he was starting to bleed.  David didn’t understand why this was happening to him or why.

The voice cried out, “David.  Get up and walk.  It’s the only way.”

David got up as if to say, “I trust you”.  Although attempting to stand bore more pain, a different kind of pain, he knew the voice was right.  From his crawl position, he was able to get to his feet.  After a moment of stretching his muscles into proper position, he started to take his first steps.

Each step was more daunting than the next.  He wasn’t sure how to walk in the dark as like most people, rely on sight to accomplish this task.  With each step he stumbled.  Left in front of right and right in front of left was the mantra he repeated to himself.  Every so often, he would fall from a loose rock or dizziness.  He would then hear the voice and get back up and continue the journey step by step.

Without warning, he saw a white dot in the distance.  What was it?  Could it be?  A sliver of light appeared in front of him.  When he saw the light, it changed his mentality and attitude.  He realized that fear was gone and pain was diminishing.  It was then he heard, “David, continue toward the light.  It’s the only way.”

David wanted to run and even tried.  However, when he ran, he would fall causing pain and fear to reenter into his body, mind and soul.  He decided that walking was the better of choices.  At least he would only stumble occasionally.  With every step, the light grew and when the light grew, so did hope.  David knew the end of his journey was in sight, or so he thought.

Suddenly, David took one wrong step and fell.  His fall was not like the others.  He fell on his back and slid hard and fast.  As he slid, he tried to stop but could not.  Finally, he slowed down and came to a stop.  As he rolled over to prop himself up, he looked around and didn’t see the light.  What had happened?  Did he slide that far back?  Fear and pain began to grow while he felt hope was lost.  He sat down once again and cried.

“David, follow my voice.  It’s the only way”, the voice called out.

Like before, the voice called out over and over again as if to motivate David to continue his journey.  This time, David did not wallow in fear and pain.  He called back, “Okay, I’ll try again.”

The voice said, “When I tell you, reach to your left.”

David didn’t understand what the voice meant, but since the voice brought him to the light, he figured the voice knew something he didn’t.  David continued his slow journey step by step.  This time he didn’t stumble as much.  He barely tripped or fell.  After what seemed like hours, David heard the voice call to him once again, “Reach to your left”.

Trusting the voice, David reached out with this left hand and slowly moved it toward his left, circling up and down attempting to grasp at whatever may have been there.   At that moment, it felt like, something brushed his fingers.  He wasn’t sure, got on his knees and reached out with both hands.  After a few minutes of flailing his arms in front of him, David gripped the object that brushed his hand.  To his surprise, the object felt braided and course.  It was a rope.  He gripped the rope with both hands and raised himself to his feet.

As he held the rope, he looked up and saw the light again.  This time, it was bigger than ever.  It appeared to be almost the size of a full moon on a clear summer night.  David then realized his journey was going to end.  Once again, fear and pain seemed to be swept away by the freedom of hope.

David started to reflect on this journey and realized one question remained, how did he get there to begin with?  He remembered hiking in the woods and pitching his tent.  He remembered the fire he created to keep warn and cook some food.  He remembered falling asleep and waking up to a noise outside of his tent.  He remembered wanting to fall back asleep but kept tossing and turning due to the anxiety he felt from the forest noises.

As he continued to climb, he thought to himself, “Maybe this is a dream?  Maybe this isn’t real.”  He continued to rummage through various thoughts and scenarios in an effort to answer his questions.  However, just as before, no answer came.  It was then David realized that he hadn’t heard the voice in a while.  He stopped climbing to rest and catch his breath.  David then shouted, “Voice, are you still there?”

No answer came.

“Voice”, he said a second time, “Are you still there?”

Again, no answer came.

David mumbled, “I knew you would leave me.  Everyone else has.”  As David wallowed in his state of loneliness, he realized that the light was not only peering but also exposing his surroundings.  David looked around and noticed he was surrounded by dirt and rocks.  David realized he was in a cave.  He also noticed that a small, shallow body of water was within reach.  It was then David realized how thirsty he was.  As the feeling of thirst grew, David willed himself to his feet and began to walk toward the body of water.  Then David heard something strange, it was running water.

Bending down, he dipped his hands into the body of water and took a long drink.  He had hoped the water was not contaminated but without thinking, he drank the water until his thirst was satisfied.  After a few more minutes of rest, David felt that he needed to continue to leave this place, this cave of fear and pain.  He rose from his spot, walked over to the rope and continued his climb.

What seemed like days later, David was able to let go of the rope.  The incline became flat.  David realized his journey was about to end.  He could now see the outside world.  Hope then became belief.  David now knew he was about to leave this cave of fear and pain.  As David reached the opening to the cave, he heard the voice once again, “David.  Welcome to my fields.”

David looked around but didn’t see anyone.  He responded, “Where are you?”

“I am here, but you cannot see me right now”, the voice exclaimed.  “Listen to my words and obey my commands.”

David wasn’t sure if he wanted to listen or obey but decided to respond rather harshly, “You left me!  I was alone in there and you left me.  I cried out to you but you did not respond.  Why?”

The voice responded, “Who was it that led you to the light?  Who was it that led you to the rope?  Who was it that placed you there?  Who was it that subdued your fear and pain?”

David couldn’t respond.  He lowered his head feeling weakness and shame.  David then recognized, the voice had been with him the entire journey.  While David sulked with shame and disbelief, the voice said, “My son, don’t feel shame or disbelief.  You followed my voice.  You followed my light.  Well done.  Now I have something else for you to do.  Look behind you.”

David lifted his head and slowly turned around.  He saw a torch, some food and a container to hold water on a large boulder.  As he walked toward the items on the boulder, the voice said to him, “Take those items and go back into the cave.  There search the cave and look for others who have heard my voice or seen my light.  Help them on their journey.  Encourage them that the end is near.  Teach them about the rope, how to trust in the voice and light and not to worry about the ‘what if’ thoughts.  Lead them out of the cave and into this field.”

David looked up and asked, “But how will I know who they are?  How many are there?  Why did you place us there?”  Questions ravaged his mind.  He was confused as to what had really happened.

“David”, the voice said, “Do you remember last night when you cried out to me?  When you asked me to help you out of your problems?”

Suddenly, David remembered that just before he fell asleep, he cried out to God asking him for help.  He didn’t want to waste his life and wanted a new direction.  It was then David realized who he was talking to.

“Lord, forgive my doubt”, David responded.

With a sense of compassion, the voice said to David, “Do not worry about how many or why.  All I ask is that you do what I commanded you.  Others need you.  I need you.  Therefore, go and enter the cave.  Help others believe.”

David gripped the items on the boulder.  He approached the opening to the cave and lit the torch.  One last question plagued his mind, “How will I know when my task is done?”

The voice responded, “When you see Me, then you will be finished.”

“When will I see you?” asked David.

“When you are finished”, the voice responded.

David realized every answer had a question, but not every question deserved an answer.              As he entered the mouth of the cave, he saw an inscription on the wall.  The inscription said, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me.”  David then remembered the words of his mother, “Jesus never sleeps.”  With comfort on his mind and with a sigh of anticipation, David entered the cave and searched for others that were like him.  Those that are afraid.  Those that are hurting.  Those who have no hope.  As David found others, he would tell them about his journey, his struggles and his discoveries.  He would remind them about the voice and show them the light.  David now lived the journey that once overtook him with fear and pain.  Finally, David understood that this life was not about him.  It was about finding and helping others to see the Light and hear the voice of God.

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been give to me.  Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” – Jesus Christ.  (Matthew 28:18-20 NIV)

God Bless and encourage someone today.

The Mara Tree


It had finally come true.  His dreams were finally happening.  John never expected his dream to own a farm would ever come true, but it was about to become a reality.  Anxiously sitting in the bank, he nervously waited for the banker to come in with the completed paperwork.  As his leg shook incessantly, he looked around, like a child waiting to see their favorite movie character.  After a few minutes, the bank official entered the small office.

“Here we are.  All documents have been finalized and you are now the proud owner of the farmland.  Congratulations John”, said the bank official.

With paperwork in hand, John gleefully walked out of the bank, singing one of his favorite songs.  As he was about to leave the bank, he stopped at the glass door, turned around and yelled, “Thank you!” to the bank official, who was smiling and waving him goodbye.

That was almost 20 years ago.  He couldn’t believe it had been that long.  Sitting in his tractor, tilling the land for planting, John had been reminiscing about times past.  Good times and bad, happy and sad times, times of great harvest and times of famine.  He had been placing himself on the emotional rollercoaster ensuring that he had traveled the right path.

As the tractor came to the last edges of his land, he turned off the engine and just sat there in the quietness.  A gentle breeze massaged his body and mind.  The sun wasn’t as strong as it could be but was warm enough to satisfy any chilled bones.  John took off his hat to wipe the sweat off of his brow.  He reached down for his thermos and poured a cup of hot coffee, black with sugar, and sat with his feet up on the edge of the tractor.

John thought to himself, “This year should be a very good year.”  However, John also knew that what he grew this year was of such significance for the next 7 years as he would start a new harvest during that time.  If the land was on his side, he could harvest enough fruit and vegetables for several thousand families.  The key to success was the crops he would plant.

The next day, John began the process of planting various fruits and vegetables.  Apple trees would take years but the return on his investment would be ten-fold.  Corn, cabbage, lettuce, tomatoes and other such vegetables, would line the interior of his land.

A few months after planting, he noted that there was a gap in the middle of his farm.  It was as if nothing was planted there.  The center of his farm appeared desolate and lifeless.  John said, “I know I planted vegetables here, so why is nothing growing?”  John didn’t understand what was going on, so he decided to investigate with some professional land surveyors.

Over the next few weeks, John met with different professional land surveyors.  They explained that on his land, if the soil was too acidic, nothing would grow there.  Some thought a mole or rabbit had settled just beneath the surface, while others told him that his seeds were bad in that area.  Unfortunately, none gave John an explanation that he could accept.  All seemed to be guesses or riddles that could not be answered.

As John contemplated the reasons for this phenomenon, a man called from the distance.  He was a slender man with a business hat and a briefcase.  He waved one hand in the air and greeted with a joy that John had never seen before.

“Greetings John.  My name is Mr. Natas and I can give you an answer to your dilemma.”

John curiously looked and remarked, “Oh you can, can you?  I have had several professionals come here only to give me nothing but guesses and stories.”

“I understand John.  This is not the first time someone has doubted me”, claimed Mr. Natas.  “But I will tell you an answer and one that I am sure you will be pleased with.”

John knew he had no choice.  He didn’t have any answers but maybe this Mr. Natas could guide him in the right direction.  “So, Mr. Natas, if I let you help, what is your fee?”

“Nothing”, Mr. Natas responded.

“Nothing?” asked John.

“Nothing.  All I ask is that you pass along whatever I give you to someone else.”

That didn’t sound difficult.  Here was someone who could give John and answer and all John had to do was pass along whatever was given to him by Mr. Natas.  John gladly responded, “I agree.”

Mr. Natas smiled and placed his briefcase on top of picnic table.  His thumbs wound the combination and unlocked the briefcase.  He opened the top and pulled out a small envelope and a piece of paper.  He placed both of the items on the table and said, “Here is a single seed of Mara fruit.  It is one of the most beautiful and best tasting fruit you have every encountered.  It doesn’t take long to harvest, nor does it take several seasons to produce.  Once you plant the seed, it will grow within a month and will produce fruit in less than three months.  All I ask is that you sign here agreeing to the terms of sharing the fruit to your friends and family.  Remember, this fruit is desirable by all once seen.  Sign here please.”

John picked up the pen, which appeared old but distinguished.  He looked into Mr. Natas’ eyes to see if there was anything that would stop him from signing.  As he peered into Mr. Natas’ eyes, John could see innocence and love.  With calmness and ease, John signed the paper and handed it to Mr. Natas.  Both John and Mr. Natas said their goodbyes.  As Mr. Natas walked away, he turned and said, “Remember, you agreed to share this fruit.  Share it well.”

John opened the envelope and saw the small seed.  It was one of the tiniest seeds he had ever seen.  Doubt started to overcome his mind.  What if Mr. Natas was wrong?  What if the seed didn’t grow?  All John knew was that if this didn’t work, his dream of continuing to be a farmer may be in jeopardy.  John cautiously planted the seed in the middle of the desolate land and hoped for the best.

A month passed by and John wanted to see where his new fruit tree was growing.  He ran out to the middle of the farm and came to the spot where he planted the seed Mr. Natas had given him.  He looked around but saw nothing.  All around him was desolation and dust.  Nothing had grown.  He had been lied to, again.

Anger welled up in John.  So much so, that he picked up a rock by his feet and hurled it with all his might toward the other crops while screaming at the top of his lungs.   Why would so many people take advantage of him?  Why would Mr. Natas have the gall to lie to him during his time of desperation?  John never understood why this happens to him.

As John wallowed in his anger and sadness, tears flowed from his eyes and hands.  As he cried wondering what he was going to do next, he noticed something unusual.  Where his tears touch the ground, a small stem grew.  Had that been there before?  Was this the famous Mara tree?  John gained his composure and stared at the tiny stem.  Thinking he just missed it, he began to jump for joy but he couldn’t stop thinking about those who ripped him off.

Days went by and the plant grew more and more.  He remembered that in a few short months he would be able to begin his harvest.  He wondered if the small tree would produce a crop like he had been previously promised by Mr. Natas.

 

Finally, the day of harvesting came.  John and his wife began the process of bringing in all of the fruits and vegetables for their market.  As John’s wife, Ella, came toward the center of the farm, she noticed how the small tree had no fruit.  She had not been pleased with John the day he told her about the tree.  She thought it was odd that someone would simply help them without a standard fee or royalty.  She shouted, “John, come here.  I need to show you something.”

John stopped his work and ran to his wife.  “What is it darling?”

“Look at this stupid tree.  What do you see?”

John looked up at the small tree and said, “I see a small tree with leaves.”

“Exactly”, she exclaimed, “No fruit.  I told you this was a bad investment.  Now what will we do?  How will we survive?  We needed this fruit to survive?”

Frustration and bitterness welled up in John’s spirit.  They had argued over this small tree for days.  Over and over again, they argued over what to do and how to do it.  Ella wanted him to build another barn in the center as it would make harvesting easier.  But John knew that if his crops didn’t produce enough this year, they might lose the farm.  Not knowing how to answer, John ignored her comments and walked away.

Suddenly, Ella turned and saw something magical.  A small piece of purple fruit hung in between the branches.  She knew it wasn’t there before.  How did it get there?  She picked the purple fruit and thought, “This looks amazing.  I wonder how it tastes?”  She knew John didn’t know about it but wanted to taste it more and more.  As she held the fruit, she could feel a sense of desire like she never felt before.  It was as if the fruit called to her.  She brought the fruit to her mouth and took a large bite.  Juices flowed from the fruit and the sides of her mouth.  The taste was unlike anything she had ever had.  Sweet, yet tangy or maybe sour.  Whatever it was, it was the most appetizing fruit she had ever tasted.  She quickly wiped off her mouth, dropped what was left and continued to harvest the crops.

 

A week later, John and Ella continued to fight over the tree and many other things.  The work on the house, the chores in the barn and even the color of paint to use inside the living room was what they argued about.  After their yelling and screaming match, they would storm out of the house and continue the harvest.

Every basket had something in it.  Vegetables and fruits came in droves.  Their stand continued to be full but not as many people stopped by to purchase goods.  It became so bad that their fruit and vegetables started to turn rancid.  It was then they started to argue about that as well.

One morning, John walked the fields trying to understand what was happening to him and Ella.  As he walked he entered the center of his farm and noted the large amount of harvestable fruit on the Mara tree.  It was then he decided to harvest the tree and give away the fruit as he had promised Mr. Natas.

He walked to all of his neighbors and even into town to give away the fruit.  As he was told, many people wanted the fruit.  They saw how desirable it was and even tried to give John money toward the fruit.  John said, “No thank you.  I promised I would give it away.  But if you would like, I have other fruits and vegetables to sell.”

No one appeared interested.  They only wanted the Mara fruit.  As Ella experienced, it was juicy with a sweet and sour taste.  As they ate more, they desired more.  John was able to give away all of the fruit he harvested.  Some began to ask for more, but when John explained that he had no more, the people began to yell and curse.  How could he tempt them with such desire?

Toward the end of the harvest season, John noticed something that made him curious.  More Mara trees had grown but not just in the center of the farm but around the rest of the crops as well.  All had fruit and all were ripe.

When John brought this observation to Ella, both Ella and John wondered how this happened.  John began to monitor the situation to see if any more trees began to sprout.  Over the next few days, John noticed that he no longer had a harvest of corn, tomatoes or other fruits or vegetables.  He only had a harvest of Mara fruit.

John decided to look at a copy of his agreement to see if he was able to sell the Mara fruit.  He dug through some papers and came across his contract.  As he read it, fear overcame his whole being.  His contract stated that the fruit had to be given away and never sold.  But what about his other crops?  Wherever the Mara trees grew, his other crops suffered and died.  How was he supposed to make a living giving away Mara fruit?

As John stood and pondered his situation, he looked up and saw a mirror.  He saw an image of a man he had never seen before.  This man was old and tired.  A man who appeared to be hungry and hopeless.  It was then he realized he was looking at himself.  He held the contract up in disbelief and spoke into the mirror, “How could you have done this?  How could you be so stupid?”  As John continued to beat himself up he suddenly noticed something in the mirror.  The signature of Mr. Natas appeared to read something else.  The “N” had a long arrow pointing down and the “S” formed the image of a serpent hissing.  What intrigued him more was the spelling of Mr. Natas’ name.  In the mirror the contract signature read, “sataN”.

It was then John realized, he had given root to Satan.  He allowed his desires to cloud his judgment.  John had allowed Satan to opportunity to destroy his goals and dreams.  He ran out of his house, screaming with ax in hand.  One after the other he chopped down every Mara tree on the farm, hoping to save his other crops.  No matter how hard he tried, more and more trees sprung out of the ground bearing the Mara fruit.

Day and night John fought with the land.  He continued to chop down tree after tree.  Pulling up saplings that looked like the Mara tree.  When the sun rose the next day, John looked over the land and noticed every crop had been uprooted except that of the Mara trees.  It was then John realized that every bitter thought and every angry action caused a Mara tree to grow.  He also realized that giving away the fruit caused more pain and suffering to him and Ella.

No more did John live his dream.  No more could John and Ella survive on the farm.  They abandoned all hopes and dreams and rode to the city in the hope of one day returning to the farm.  For now they needed to understand and learn that when the root of bitterness enters a life, it ruins not just the one person, but also others surrounding them.

 

God bless and encourage someone today.

Upon the Sacred Sand


The waves gently crashed against the shore.  White caps caressed the sand.  As the water progressed along the sand, Allen knew not all was well.

He had just received word that his life was to be shortened.  Not fully understanding the circumstances, he walked at the edge, where the water meets the sand.  What was this about?  Why him and not someone else?

Doctors had warned him earlier in life that his lifestyle was harmful.  As a teenager, he had been subject to the wars of the streets.  His parents divorced.  His mother an alcoholic. His father absent.  It wasn’t until he met Rolo that Allen understood what acceptance was about.

Rolo was the leader of a local gang that ruled the streets.  He led a group of hoodlums and reprobates.  But one thing Rolo understood, if someone needed to feel accepted, he was the guy.

Rolo was the one who raised Allen during his formidable years.  He showed Allen how most rejected him, but only a few accepted him.  In order for Allen to feel accepted, all he needed to do is sell some “pharmaceutical” products to other teens.  Allen believed Rolo and thus began his journey down a funnel cloud of destruction.

Over the next few years, Allen would eventually get hooked on the drugs he sold.  Getting high and crashing became the norm.  In the morning, he would get high in order to handle his day.  As evening came, he would begin to crash but would intervene with another dose of drugs.

Regularly, he would wake up with blurred vision of lights and white suited people surrounding him.  The nurses and doctors would strap his hands and feet to subdue his temper while regaining true consciousnesses.  Several times, he remembered how the warning shots fired over his mind and body.  He had been told his life was on the line and several times almost lost the battle.

One time as he left the hospital, a homeless man stopped him and asked for help.  At first, Allen thought to himself, “Whatever!  I need help too.”  Instead of responding to the homeless man’s request, Allen just rolled his eyes and kept on walking.  The homeless man persisted, “Please help me.  I haven’t eaten and need food.”  Allen ignored the man and continued to walk, crossing the busy city street.

As Allen entered the busy intersection, he continued to hear the homeless man cry out for help.  Allen turned to acknowledge the man’s cries with a response of hatred and fear.  He lifted his head, opened his mouth and shouted, “Leave me alone!  You’re not the only one who needs help, you homeless…”

Allen was not given the opportunity to finish his sentence when he noticed the frail homeless man entered the intersection.  Suddenly and without warning, a taxi broadsided the homeless man separating his body and soul.  It was then Allen realized life was too short to continue down a path of destruction.

As Allen walked the beach, also he remembered how he met his wife.  Ruth was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen.  He had seen her from a distance in the deli for several months, but never had the nerve to approach her.  Once while he was sitting and staring at her, she turned, tilted her head, winked and smiled the most comforting smile.  A few minutes later it was Ruth who approached him.

Not long after they met, Ruth and Allen got married.  Unfortunately, like his parents, his marriage didn’t last long.  He had begun to drink again and ended up in an angry stupor night after night.  Fight after fight both Ruth and Allen flung insults and negativity.  After six months of marriage, Ruth walked out never to return.

Now five years later, a pain had entered his stomach.  At first, he thought it was simply a diet problem but as it intensified day after day, he decided to go to the hospital to see if they had a solution to his problem.  After several days of tests, the doctors found a mass near the outside of his stomach.  Within 24 hours, Allen finally knew what ailed him, stage four cancer.

When he inquired how this was possible, the doctors told him that years of abuse lead to days til death.  No matter what they wanted to try, it would never extend the weeks he had left.  Knowing this he opted to leave the hospital.

He walked and walked, not returning home, but instead entered the beach.  Now as he walked remembering both the good and bad, he looked toward the sunny blue sky and cried, “Lord, why me?  Why now?”

As the words left his mouth he felt a hand on his shoulder and a whisper in his ear, “Is everything alright?”  Allen slowly turned and saw a man walking with him.  With tears in his eyes, Allen responded, “I’m dying.”

The man softly said, “Are you sure?”

Allen whimpered a simple, “Yes.”

The man and Allen spoke for several hours, mostly talking about Allen’s past but laughing occasionally from some funny stories.  Allen felt comforted by the man’s words.  The man spoke words of encouragement and truth.  He told Allen about another man who died for his enemies.  A man who felt that all people were important.  He explained that if acceptance was to be realized, Allen had to let go of his life.  Allen didn’t fully understand what he meant, but it felt good.

As he started to feel better, Allen turned to the man and asked, “What is your name?”

The man had disappeared.  Allen desperately turned in circles looking as far as the eye could see.  There was no one around.  Was it the cancer?  Was he so distraught that his mind began to hallucinate?  Was he going insane?

In an instant, he realized what had just happened.  The mysterious unnamed man was speaking of himself.  Could it really be him?  Could the man really been the famous Jesus Christ?  Allen looked back to the sky while the ocean caressed his feet and cried, “I believe.  Please don’t leave me.”

There was no answer.  He cried and cried, “Please don’t leave me.”  Again no answer.  After a few minutes of tears and despair, Allen realized the man would not return.  He fell to his knees, covered his face and quietly wept.

As his head began to fill with guilt from past sins, he raised his hands toward heaven and said, “Lord. I believe.”  At that very moment, he felt a sense of joy and peace.  It was a feeling he never had before.  He knew that even if he didn’t continue this life, there was another life that he could look forward to.

Suddenly, a distant figure appeared.  Allen raised his head and saw the outline of a person.  He jumped to his feet and began to run shouting, “You came back.  You came back!”

As he approached the figure, he realized the person he saw was different than the mysterious man.  This person had long hair and curves that were of no man.  Disappointed, Allen stopped running and once again fell to his knees.

The distant person then began to jog toward him.  In a matter of seconds, Allen could hear the cries of the person.  “Allen, honey.  I did come back.”  It was Ruth.  Allen then raised himself to his feet, held out his arms and hugged Ruth with such love and peace.  They kissed for a few moments and spoke of how they both met a mysterious man.  It was at that moment they realized, God had visited them both.  Allen then knew he was standing upon sacred sand.

God bless and encourage someone today.

Among the Thorns…


The sun shone in the heat of the day.  The temperature rose to a limit that desert animals couldn’t bear.  From the heads of men, sweat vaporized into eternity.  Hydration was key in surviving the current day.

In the house, was a young boy who dreamed of spending insanely amounts of time with his father.  He peered out the window to the land which his father sowed and harvested.  He imagined a cooler day with a breeze to satisfy the soul.  He daydreamed about his father trying to find him among the outer rim of trees and forest.  In his mind, when his father found him, he tackled him and tickled him incessantly, until the very breath he bore could no longer be found.  Joy overfilled and overwhelmed the thoughts of the young boy’s mind.

He asked his mother, “Can I go meet father in the field?”

Mother responded, “Not today.  It is too hot for you.”

The boy replied, “But mother, I want to spend time with father.”

Mother said, “When the sun starts to set and father is in the barn, then you may go out and meet him.”

The seconds felt like hours.  Minutes felt like years.  Hours felt like an eternity.  The boys mind wandered from one thought to the next.  Never did the boy have the same thought, but imagined different ways to spend time with his father.

Around midday, Father came into the house to nourish his mind, body and soul.  Mother placed a pitcher of freshly made, ice cold, iced tea, next to a plate filled with a sandwich and Father’s favorite chips.  As Father ate, the young boy sat and stared at his father wondering if they were having the same thoughts.

“What is on your mind, son?” asked Father.

“Spending time with you”, said the young boy.

“You’re spending time with me now”, responded Father.

“Yes.  But I want to play with you”, stated the smiling young boy.

“When the sun goes down and I am in the barn, then come out to see me.  Then we will play a game”, Father told the young boy.

“What kind of game?” asked the boy.

“A game you will love”, responded Father with a smile and a keen look.

Father finished his meal, sighed a deep breath to signal he was satisfied with what Mother prepared.  After a few minutes, Father got up, placed his dishes in the sink and left to go back into the field.

As the sun continued it’s harassment on the earth and water was nothing more than an after-thought, the boy became impatient.  His yearning to spend time with his father took over any sensible thoughts.  The young boy decided to disobey what Mother and Father told him and run out into the field to meet his Father.

The boy carefully and slothfully, made his way to the back door.  He cautiously looked around in order to ensure he was not caught.  His hand placed on the handle, slowly turned it ensuring that no noise was made to signal his disobedience.  The door crept, the boy turned and closed the door with extreme care.

He could feel the heat and decided that even the sun could not stop his eagerness to spend time with his father.  The stairs made no sound as the boy jumped from the top step to the grassy area at the bottom.  Many times before, in many days past, the young boy would jump from the top step and bypass the other three to feel the soft grass on the bottom of his soles.

His legs could take it no more and so the young boy ran as if it were a race for a prize.  A smile on his face was brighter than the sun.  Every stride was one closer to his father.  As he ran, he could see the small distorted image of a man.  He knew it was his father, so the boy ran faster.

As the boy approached his working father, he heard in a cry of terror, “STOP!  NOW SON STOP!!!!”

Excitement took over and the ears stopped working.

“SON, I SAID STOP.  NOW!!!  DON’T COME ANY FURTHER!” cried Father.

Suddenly, sense came back to the boy’s mind which then he realized, his father was serious.  The boy stopped his pursuit and stood in complete shock.  He didn’t understand. Why would his father tell him not to come any further?  Why would his father not want to spend time with him?  He knew he had disobeyed, but also knew his father’s love was greater than his actions, but why was Father screaming so loudly?

“Son, whatever you do, do not move”, said Father with a shaky, scared voice.

“But Father, why?”  asked the young boy.

“Son, do exactly what I say and do no more or less”, Father instructed.

“But Father, why?” asked the young boy a second time.

“Take one full step backward”, Father stated with a look of care and fear.

The boy took the backward step as his father instructed.

“Now son, take two steps to your right.  Large ones.  Not small ones.” said Father with a crooked smile.

The boy did exactly as his father told him to do.

The boy asked, “Can I come to you now Father?”

“Not yet.  Now take three more large steps backwards”, Father said.

Again, the boy did everything his father instructed.

“Son, when I tell you, run into my arms.” said Father with a sense of fear.

“Okay Father”, the excited boy said.

In a matter of a moment, the boy could see his Father bend down, taking some actions in the brush and said, “Run to me son!”

The boy ran as fast as he could.  His father had his arms opened wide.  As the boy and his father bonded, the boy could feel his father’s arms securing him as tightly as they could go without crushing the young boy.

Father cried and cried.  Tears flowed from his face and onto the shirt of the young boy.

“Why are you crying Father?”

“I almost lost you, son.  You almost died”

A confused look distorted the boys face.  Almost died?  It didn’t feel like he almost died and besides, what did death feel like anyway?  As the boy’s mind continued to process the information, Father said with tears in his eyes, “Let me show you why I was so upset.”

Both approached the place where the boy stood before the confusing turmoil.  Father continued to hold the boy and expressed how he didn’t want to let go.  As they approached the place, Father slowed down and said, “Look among the thorns, son.”

The boy leaned over his father’s arms, turned his head toward the ground and peered into the thorny brush.  A noise came from the thorns.  It sounded like a toy, similar to his baby sister’s rattle.

“What is that noise father?”

Father took a long branch and poked into the brush.  A hissing sound was heard as the thorns moved.  Suddenly, the brush stopped movement and several heads peaked out.  It was a family of rattlesnakes.

Father told the young boy, “Had you not stopped when I told you, your foot would have stepped into the brush.  If that had happened, the snakes would have bitten you and you would have died.”

The boy then realized the danger that lurked among the thorns and was glad he was in his father’s arms because the boy understood, it is better to be in the Father’s arms, safe and secure than in the den of snakes and vipers.

Stay in the safe arms of our Father and Savior.

God Bless and encourage someone today.

My Take on Gun Violence and Regulations


Over the past number of months, we have heard about several unfortunate and tragic instances where gun violence took the lives of many.  The young children of Sandy Hook became victims to an extremely unstable individual who did not have the courage to face the penalty of his crimes.

Overshadowing all of this is the discussion on gun violence and gun regulations.  Some claim that our 2nd Amendment allows us the freedom to possess firearms.  Those who uphold to this standard claim that it is a right that was fought for and many others died ensuring that this freedom is not lost.

On the other side of the fence, are those who feel that no person (other than law enforcement or military) should be allowed to have firearms as most people don’t need them.  They feel the 2nd Amendment is outdated and irrelevant.

So with both sides voicing their opinion, I finally felt that I should weigh in.  The problem we face is not one of legal rights or moral rights, it is simply what does the law say and how are we to respond as Christians.  There is no evidence in Scripture that any of the disciples or followers of Christ has weapons when they preached.  There is also no evidence that they did not.

From a Western culture standpoint, we tend to think of Scripture as peaceful and loving.  We have been told that if we are not peaceful and loving that we are not following the direction Christ placed before us.  We tend to cite only those passages which show a timid, loving, turn the other cheek methodology.  Are we to take the abuse and not say something?  Are we not to try and protect ourselves and families from the horrific events of our world?  This is the struggle of the Christian and what we believe.

However, I must admit, that I personally do not believe that life is that simple.  Sickness, natural disasters and unfortunate violence have a tendency to take our lives and flip them upside down.  We tend to think that if there is violence and disaster that God must not love us or decided to take a break from organizing the universe or maybe He doesn’t exist at all in our minds.

In no way am I going to over simplify the debate, nor am I in any way minimizing the gut wrenching emotions and life altering events for those affected, but I would like to spell out a rounded view.

It is true that our 2nd Amendment gives us “the right to bear arms”.  However, there is more to it than just our enjoyment.  Here is what it actually says:

“A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

First, there needs to be a well regulated militia.  Why?  For the security of a free state and doing so, we were given the right to bear arms.  Not only that but what is this “shall not be infringed”?  Basically, it means that this specific right shall not be outdated or violated.  This makes sense in the world in which it was written.

History tells us that during our early years, the British government was trying to infringe on the freedom our ancestors were fighting for.  They tried sanctions, taxes and other means to secure the “Queen’s” country.  In doing so, we were not allowed to do what we wanted for our families.  When the 2nd Amendment was written, it was a security check for keeping the freedoms we have today.  It was written, not as a gun club, but as protection against an oppressive government.  During that time, our forefathers wanted to be sure that no government could try and regulate our freedom.  It wasn’t an anarchical type of freedom, but one that was guided by the rule of law.

So does that mean we should be able to buy, sell or fire any type of weapon we want?  According to the Constitution, my answer would be yes.  However, we must also place common sense as well into this equation.  Are we to say that registration is a bad thing?  Are we to say that safety and understanding are an obstruction to our right?  Certainly not.

Personally, I believe that we need to mandate that all gun owners go through safety courses to protect them and others.  When we educate those on proper handling of firearms or other type of weapons, we allow citizens to exercise this right to bear arms, while protecting those who choose not to.

When you look at the Department of Justice statistics, you see that most violent crimes are not done with weapons, but without weapons.  And those that are weapon related have a small percentage of handguns and rifles.  In fact, there appears to be more violence with knives than with guns, yet we do not see “knife control” on the news today.  If you dig even deeper, most of the violent crimes that had guns involved were committed almost exclusively with illegal guns.  In fact, even the DOJ indicates that most young people who commit violent offenses do so with illegal guns.  Why?  Because it is easier to obtain illegal guns than legal ones!

So where does Christianity play into all of this?  Well, as I said earlier, we tend to think of Christianity as peaceful and loving.  Although this may be true to some regard, let me shed some light on something else.  Did you know that there will come a time (and probably is already here to some degree) that God will allow natural disasters to increase exponentially in order to show us that He is in control?  Did you also know that there will be a time when Jesus returns with a double-edged sword coming to free His people?

I want to be true to Scripture, so I will be as clear as I can.  Sometimes, Scripture can be rated “R” and is not all peaceful and loving.  The focus of Scripture is Jesus.  The message of Scripture (both Old and New Testaments) is God loves us and wants a relationship with us.  So how is it rated “R”?

Throughout Scripture, we see details that are violent, yet justified.  We also see unjustified violence and the horror that follows.  Think about this for a second.  King David was “a man after God’s own heart”, yet he murdered his lover’s husband.  We see a judge named Deborah who “sends a spike through the temple” of her oppressor.  In all of this, we see either God’s judgement or God’s calling to an individual.  To Deborah, it was to free Israel.  To King David, it was a sin that he was judged for.

Our job as Christians is to respect and obey the laws of the land.  Therefore, if the law says that our 2nd Amendment is outdated, we are allowed to speak up, but we ultimately must obey whatever laws are passed.  There is only one area where we are allowed to disobey the law of the land.  If our government tells us that we are not allowed to read Scripture, pray or share Scripture, we are given a clear command to disobey.  The disciples didn’t stop preaching even though they were beaten and warned.  Daniel kept praying three times a day, even though the laws of his land forbid him from doing so.

The ultimate law of all lands is to have a relationship with God, through Jesus Christ.  Therefore, we are to do everything in our power to keep that relationship healthy and strong, no matter the cost.  In Hebrews we read about those who lost their lives and kept their faith.  History shows Rome oppressing the Christian Jews, sending them to the Colosseum to be killed by gladiators and lions.  They did not fight for their rights, they just obeyed God in His commandments.

As Americans, we have been given the right to stand for what our forefathers declared as law.  We have the right to voice our opinion and vote for those who stand for what is right.  As Christians, we have been given the freedom to pray and seek God for wisdom.  We have been set free from the oppression of sin and given the ultimate freedom that Christ fought for.

As an American, I believe that our government and news agencies are barking up the wrong tree.  As it is easier to obtain an illegal gun, then the regulations and laws need to be focused on that and not on the legal gun owners.  Legal gun owners have been given a background check and in most cases can’t pick up their weapon until they have been cleared with the federal agencies.  Therefore, the focus should not be on the legal weapons but the illegal ones.

As a Christian, I believe that even though we have the rights based on our Constitution, we do not have the right to disobey our leaders when it comes to these same laws.  We are only to disobey if it interrupts our relationship with God.

Even though I believe we have the right to bear arms legally, I also believe that God is in control and if He decides that our government is to be oppressive in order to fulfill his judgement then so be it.  My personal belief is that if we are losing our rights, then Christians need to stop living their current lifestyle, where no one knows who is a Christian and who is not.  We need to repent and change our lives in order to reflect a God who is drawing others to Himself.  We need to change our lives in order to show others that God isn’t a wimpy God, but a strong, loving, yet jealous God who cares about what and who we worship.

Let’s start by looking into our own lives, as Christians, and ask God to obliterate the sin that so easily entangles us.  Pray, read, study and memorize Scripture in order to do what Scripture says thereby changing our minds to be more Christ-like.

God bless and encourage someone today.

The Northern Frontier Experience (The Final Frontier)


In the last three blogs, I shared a fictional story of a father and his son.  The son wanted to discover new and exciting things.  The father started off skeptical but ended up discovering there was more to life than work.  In this last blog, of this series, I will share with you what Northern Frontier Camp means to me.

In 1974, my mom and dad answered the call of Christ and became disciples of the King.  They found a local church through a radio station my mom was listening to.  The name of the church is Bellerose Baptist Church in New York City.

While my parents started to attend this church and my dad was asked to help out in Christian Service Brigade.  He enjoyed working with the boys.  Sharing bible stories, making things out of wood and going camping.

I wanted to spend time with my dad, so from as far back as I can remember, I asked my dad if I could go with him.  On occasion, he would allow me to do the overnight camp out with them, but wouldn’t allow me to attend until the appropriate age of eight.

When I turned eight, I enjoyed spending time with other boys doing the things I had seen the other boys do.  Week after week, during the bible story time, I heard the message of Jesus.  I heard that Jesus loves me, that He died and rose again for me, but no matter how many times I heard this, my heart was just not into that “bible stuff”.  When an invitation to accept Christ came, I would raise my hand time after time.

My dad, being a wise man, told me that accepting Christ as Savior is a one time event.  So if I accepted Christ once, then that was all that was needed.  Being a hard-headed kid from  NYC, I  didn’t get it.

In the summer of 1979, my mom and dad asked me if I wanted to go to camp.  It sounded like a lot of fun so I agreed.  They paid for me to go to this camp called Northern Frontier Camp.  It was an all boys camp that had been started through the founder of Christian Service Brigade.

My parents dropped me off at a location, where a charter bus would take us to camp.  After six hours of traveling north, we arrived at the entrance.  Then after getting off the charter bus, an old diesel school bus would then take us the rest of the way.  The best part of the bus rides was the 3 mile off-road trip through the woods.  We would bounce around and laugh because this was no where like the city.

Year after year, I would go there for a week, have fun and enjoy every activity they provided.  From air rifle and archery to hiking and swimming, I enjoyed every summer there.

At night, we would have a camp fire where we would sing fun songs, do crazy acting out, see skits and finally listen to a message.  For the first couple of years, I would once again raise my hand to accept Christ.  (I told you I didn’t get it.)  I would then return home just for my parents to explain once again, that if I was a Christian, I didn’t need to do this year after year.

In one of those years, it had rained and we were listening to a special camp fire skit.  I remember it distinctly.  There was a few large sheets hung up that were separated by a pole.  A young man would come up and make believe he was knocking on the door.  The first young man said that he was good enough to enter because he didn’t lie or steal.  The voice on the other side said, “Walk through the left door”.  Almost immediately, he would enter through the left door and then scream in fear.

The second young man said, “I am good enough because I helped an old lady across the street, attended church and even went to Christian Service Brigade”.  The voice on the other side said, “Walk through the left door”.  Again, he walked through and screamed.

Finally, a different young man came forward, knocked and said, “I am not good enough, but I know Jesus.”  He was allowed to enter the right door, where there was praise and worship.  I was scared beyond what I knew possible.  I feared hell.  I feared being lost forever.  I was just plain scared of life.  That night, when the opportunity came, I yet again asked Jesus into my heart.  However, I did it out of fear rather than need.

Over the next year, my sister had a dream and was terrified.  She told me that she dreamed I was in a dark place, hurting and screaming.  As young as we were, she begged me to accept Christ as my Savior.  I brushed her off, forgetting what I had just experienced months prior.

That summer, I went back to Northern Frontier Camp.  One night there was a campfire and someone gave the message of hope through Christ.  (Sound familiar?)  However, this night was different.  It wasn’t the weather or the lake.  It wasn’t the campfire.  It was me.  I knew something was wrong.  Something made me feel uncomfortable.

When the speaker finished his message, he asked anyone who wanted to know more, to stay back.  I decided to stay and asked some questions.  The counselor asked me if I wanted to accept Christ and I acknowledged that I needed Christ.  He led me in prayer, but this time there was no fear.  There was no normal night.  My emotions overwhelmed me.  I couldn’t hold back.  I wept and wept.  I asked Jesus to take over my life and He did with a vengeance.  It was at this moment in time that I knew I no longer needed to ask, because Jesus was there.

When I got home, I told my parents about my experience, but they didn’t believe me.  It wasn’t until they saw me witnessing to my friends that they understood that the experience I had that summer was different, very different.

Northern Frontier Camp has a special place in my heart.  I went there for almost a decade, have spent time with my father and sons there.  Every time I go, I learn more and more.  This camp allows me to go out of my comfort zone and experience the love of God in a different way every time.

If you are a dad or want your son to experience God in a whole new way, I encourage you to check out http://www.northernfrontier.org.  Make time to spend a few days with your son in the wilderness where there are no distractions, only you, your son and God.  Because boys won’t just be boys.  Because boys will become men someday.