The Waters of Babylon

The Friday Fictioneers prompt has come around again, thanks to the diligent efforts of our host, Rochelle Wisoff-Fields and a photo prompt donation from Roger Bulolt. (Please note the photo is copyright.)

It happens that I’m prepared for today’s prompt — though palm trees would have been a nice touch. 🙂  I was inspired back in spring to write a verse from Psalm 137 and stashed it away for the right opportunity. I thought of it when I looked at this morning’s prompt, so here goes:

PHOTO PROMPT © Roger Butolt

“By the rivers of Babylon where we sat down, yea,
we wept,
when we remembered Zion.”

“Sing!” soldiers commanded,
sick of our sobbing. “Sing
some cheerful song from your land.
Stop this wretched wail.”

Sing?
We who’ve seen our toddlers trampled,
our elders left to starve; our maidens
in the hands of these brutes.

Jerusalem, the beautiful city, ravaged;
the temple of our God in flames.
Sing? Not a chance!

“Vengeance is mine,” Yahweh declares.
He will repay in full measure,
oh Babylon!

Hush — the prophet speaks!
‘The fire shall purify but never consume;
the waters shall cleanse but not overwhelm
Jacob, my beloved.’ *

Yahweh has not forgotten us.
He will preserve his people
in the waters of Babylon.”

(*Isaiah 43:1-2)

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Walk Like a Warrior

Personal note:
My 100-word story, The Wrong Suitcase, was posted on The Drabble e-zine yesterday. You can read it here.

And now for the BOOK REVIEW

WALK LIKE A WARRIOR
Inspirational True Stories of God’s Encouragement on the Trail Less-Traveled

Every now and then you read a book and afterward you want to tell all your friends, “You should read this! It’s inspiring, enlightening, and generally terrific.” Reading this book has challenged and strengthened my own faith.

Bruce & Shara Repka have traveled all over the western USA singing and ministering. They endeavor to follow the Lord’s leading and are keenly aware of his appointments. They enjoy the blessing of seeing his hand at work in people’s lives, learning lessons of faith, trust, patience. They’ve worked as trail hands rounding up cattle, ridden their horses over the canyons and badlands. They’ve spent time seeing and learning to love the rough-and-tumble crowds as God sees and loves them.

In Walk Like A Warrior they share a number of experiences, insights, and lessons learned. I really appreciated all the appropriate scripture verses accompanying each section.

I’ll admit I can’t totally identify with every experience these folks have had — but I don’t feel I need to judge anything here. If God chooses to bless them with miracles I haven’t observed personally, that’s up to him. As Shara brings out so well, the Lord leads his children in individual paths where we can fill our role as a light for Him. The couple share a number of answers to prayer that demonstrate God’s ability to meet our needs.

Here are some quotes I found particularly inspiring:

(While waiting patiently for a much-needed answer to prayer)
“Praising the Lord freed me from the begging, defeatist attitude.”

(Praise for an answer to prayer)
“God knows all about us — our innermost thoughts and desires. And He never forgets. He is concerned about the little things in our lives, even the ones we forget about.”

Bruce Repka’s advice re: waiting for God’s timing:
“Don’t let the devil talk you into making foolish decisions and then expect God to cover you and everything will be fine. God can, and will, turn every negative and bad thing around for good, but why go through the heartache and pain during the process of doing things He never told you to do? Wait on God and do what he tells you to do, making the decisions He tells you to make. The rewards are immeasurable.”

From the back page:
Bruce and Shara Repka (a.k.a. Pony Express Ministry) are a Christian country music ministry that travels the highways and backroads of the western United States with their two horses, Rocky and Nocona.

Traversing the countryside in their fourteen-foot, short-wall, three-stall, living quarters horse trailer, they travel and minister wherever God sends them. Their, and others’, inspirational true stories are a testament to how God reveals Himself and encourages us in our everyday lives. They have seen firsthand a real, loving, and powerful God who is always true to His word and who longs to have a personal relationship with us all.

In life’s challenging moments, do you search for testimonies of encouragement that exemplify God’s love, grace, protection, and provision? Find inspiration as you enjoy the many photographs and travel this trail with them, living the adventure! You can find them online at www.ponyexpressministry.com

I was given a free copy so I could write an honest online review.

 

 

Voice in the Wilderness

There’s a Voice in the Wilderness Crying
by James Lewis Milligan

There’s a voice in the wilderness crying,
A call from the ways untrod:
Prepare in the desert a highway,
A highway for our God!
The valleys shall be exalted,
The lofty hills brought low;
Make straight all the crooked places,
Where the Lord our God may go!

O Zion, that bringest good tidings,
Get thee up to the heights and sing!
Proclaim to a desolate people
The coming of their King.
Like the flowers of the field they perish,
The works of men decay,
The power and pomp of nations
Shall pass like a dream away.

But the word of our God endureth,
The arm of the Lord is strong;
He stands in the midst of nations,
And He will right the wrong.
He shall feed His flock like a shepherd,
And fold the lambs to His breast;
In pastures of peace He’ll lead them,
And give to the weary rest.

There’s a voice in the wilderness crying,
A call from the ways untrod:
Prepare in the desert a highway,
A highway for our God!
The valleys shall be exalted,
The lofty hills brought low;
Make straight all the crooked places,
Where the Lord our God may go!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This poem is now in the Public domain

Committed to Optimism

Arthur Tennyson, brother of the famous poet Alfred, developed cataracts in his later years and gradually went blind as a result. Nevertheless, his determination to look on the bright side was an inspiration to those who knew him. Discussing his loss of vision with a friend one day he said, “God has sent me to His night school.”

Arthur lived to be 85 and, though his sight was gone, he used his other senses to observe his surroundings. He was enjoying a walk one spring morning when he met up with a friend, to whom he expressed how excited he was by all the joys of spring he could hear and feel around him.

Modern medicine has done wonders to increase the pleasure of our older years, but nothing beats a positive outlook.

Fruits of the Earth

leaves-184219_640

For rosy apples, juicy plums,
and yellow pears so sweet,
for hips and haws on bush and hedge,
and flowers at our feet;

for ears of corn all ripe and dry,
and coloured leaves on trees,
we thank You, Heavenly Father God
for such good gifts as these.

— Author unknown to me

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This week I’m going to be bringing posts over from my other blogs that are shut down now. This verse was posted on Swallow in the Wind in the fall of 2012.

The Right Route

“Where exactly did you send your information?” asked the voice at the other end of the line. “You have to follow the instructions exactly and route the upload through the URL given you on your sheet.”

“But I followed the instructions,” I whimpered. “I downloaded pages of instructions and followed them carefully. I sent the data right to my site. I didn’t see any other URL or how to route the data through it.”

“But you have to send the data through a certain channel or it won’t upload to your website,” the woman at MyHosting Customer support explained. She paused, likely to consult her computer screen. “And it isn’t here.”

“But I did upload it. My computer spent almost TWO HOURS uploading it to my site; it has to be there somewhere!”

I sighed. Most of my morning gone, pages from three different sources explaining in detail “How to Install WordPress” lying here and there. When the upload was complete I’d patted myself on the back. I did it! I figured it out and installed this program on my new website – by myself. Now I couldn’t access it.

“How be I get one of our technicians to install WordPress on your website tomorrow? He’ll e-mail you more instructions when it’s in place.”

Easy-peasy. So why didn’t I do that right off? Why did I get so frustrated trying so hard to do what I simply don’t have the ability to do? ☹ Well, I guess it took this for me to learn that there’s a certain way and no other will work.

I can sympathize with the scribes & pharisees of Jesus’ day. They’d uploaded pages – whole books – of instructions on how to satisfy a Divine Being. In fact they’d not only uploaded the initial instructions, but added to them various explicit interpretations, memorized them and followed them to the letter.

Along comes Jesus, talking of another Way – the Only Way.
“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” John 14:6

He claimed there was route they must follow, a door they must enter.

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.” John 10:1-2:

Whether they tried scrambling over the wall, used a fancy ladder, or squeezed through some crack, the fact remained: if they hadn’t been installed via the right route, they had to be reinstalled.

The Jewish leaders didn’t like that. After all, they were THE LEADERS here. Furthermore, they had already uploaded tons of good deeds to their celestial sites. It must all be there somewhere! And it was the right data, too, the Law of Moses, written by the hand of God. Who was this person to come along and claim they hadn’t used the right routing code? That their valuable data wasn’t sitting up there in heavenly files winning them A+ scores in Heaven?

But Jesus told them the truth: there’s nothing there. You haven’t sent it through the channels of grace and mercy. And He is the channel of grace and mercy.

He is the Way. However much good a person may do in this world, if it isn’t routed through Him we’ll get to the other side someday and find our data’s not been installed: our name is not written in the Book of Life. All the credits we have “legally earned” will have evaporated and we will face the awful truth: we’ve not entered the right Door.

“I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.” John 10:9

Seek And Ye Shall Find

“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find;
knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth;
and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.”
— The words of Jesus in Matthew 7:7-8

One night a young man from Albania sat in a motel room in Spain, frustrated and discouraged. He was trying to make his way to a new life Canada but he was now hopelessly snared in a thorny ticket of red tape. He’d done everything he could, but the immigration officials were still shaking their heads.

He’d been brought up under communist teaching, had heard over and over, “God doesn’t exist.” This idea, they were told in school, is a lie meant to keep the common people in bondage. This myth is still being perpetrated by deceived fanatics, but we will wipe it out in time.”

As he grew up he began to question, “Why do the communists have to keep saying this? Surely by now a myth would be no trouble to them.” Or maybe God isn’t a myth? Maybe the communists weren’t able to stamp out this God and Bible business because there was something to it? He began to feel a longing to know the truth; later, working in Germany, he was able to obtain an Albanian Bible and started reading it.

In time he’d made his way to Spain hoping for a way to emigrate to Canada. Now here he sat all alone, far from home, his dreams for the future shattered. In despair he cried out to this God the Bible talked about. “Are You real? Do You see me? Will You help me?”

He looked up and saw a vivid picture on the wall. A painting of Jesus with His arms held out, to Cheti it felt like Jesus was inviting him to come. Did it appear at that instant or had it been hanging there all along and he’d just not noticed it before? In any case, he saw it now and felt the Lord speaking to him at that moment. The whole puzzle of religion became clear to him. God is real and had heard his prayer. Jesus is real. The Bible he’d been reading was telling him the truth.

That night he turned his life over to God and asked for His guidance in the future. The next day he went back to the Canadian immigration office and he received the emigration permit he needed.

LET HIM PROVE IT!

“Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said, “He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him.” — Matthew 27:42

In the Bible we read that the religious rulers of Jesus’ time followed him around constantly. They heard his teachings, saw his miracles — and most of them would not believe He was from God. If God really sent him, they said, Jesus would follow the traditions. For lack of a better explanation they said, “it’s the devil himself that’s giving this man power to work wonders.”

When Jesus hung on the cross there was a great earthquake, the sky was darkened, the heavy curtain of the temple was torn in half from top to bottom. Two days after Jesus’ death the soldiers guarding the tomb came running and said, “An angel came down and rolled the stone away.” Solid proof, right? The Jewish leaders bribed the guards to keep quiet about this. (And that silence wouldn’t have come cheap, I don’t think.)

Their minds were made up about Jesus. They asked for signs but refused to see. They weren’t seeking so they never found. They didn’t knock, so the truth was never opened to them like it was to our friend Cheti in his hotel room in Spain.

“But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”— The Apostle Paul, writing in to the Hebrews: ch 11:6.