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For some reason, this morning my thoughts drifted back to around 1955, when I lived in the newer section of Buckingham (apartments), in Arlington, Virginia. There, bounded by N. Pershing Drive, Henderson Road, and what is now North Second Street, lay a five-acre oasis of sorts, the home of “Mr. Culpepper” (Charles Washington Culpepper (1886-1980) a renowned horticulturist, it seems).

I was a runt, eight years old, with allergies to just about everything. I couldn’t stand to be around flowers, for instance, but I never experienced any symptoms while wandering, with his permission, through what was to me a jungle of every type of plant and tree imaginable, including a stand of bamboo. There was even a frog pond, fed by a spring. I was the only kid I knew of whom he trusted to wander unaccompanied through his property, because all I did was wander. I never interfered with the frogs or picked anything, as did others later on, which resulted for a time in him posting his land off limits. Mister Culpepper had the biggest hands of any man I’ve ever known.

While I never developed an interest in gardening, I did later on in life find enjoyment in traipsing through the woods, hiking the Appalachian Trail (AT) (not all at once) from Harper’s Ferry to Swift Run Gap, and about half of the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail in Pennsylvania, as well as numerous “day hikes” on offshoots of the AT, and two traverses of Old Rag Mountain, one on which Mary accompanied me.

I wish I could let his descendants know how fondly I remember Mr. Culpepper and how much his (to me) “Garden of Eden” still evokes pleasant memories, but that trail seems to have grown cold, as I discovered his son passed away over a decade ago.

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She Bared Her Soul

Two weeks ago, the Holy Spirit moved upon hearts in one of our church services.  This is a transcript of what one young woman openly shared with the congregation during that visitation:

I couldn’t sleep last night.  God was dealing with me.  I agonized for hours, not knowing what or how to pray, not knowing what Father wanted to say to me.  All I could do was cry.  All I could say was, “What, Lord?” No answer.  I started declaring great statements of how I want to live for Him and love Him etc., and in the middle of my Peter-like statements and pride, He asked me a question.  He said, “But do you want to die with Me?”

I could not answer for a while.  I was so stunned and horrified as I saw who I really was.  I am critical, judgmental, unforgiving, jealous, covetous, and fearful.  It’s not the first time God has showed me this, but I saw it how He saw it.  I was physica1ly ill.  As God encompassed me in his great love and forgiveness, very sheepishly, but with all my heart, I answered him. “Yes, Lord. I want to die with You.”  God began to speak to me. This is what He said:

Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: but your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear” (Isaiah 59:1-2).

We say we want to live for Him
But we won’t die with Him.

We say we want to be filled with His Spirit
But we don’t want to be empty.

We say we want to be clothed in His righteousness
But we won’t be stripped bare, with our hearts exposed before Him.

We say we want to be great for God
But we CAN’T STAND to be nothing and small in our own eyes.

We say we want to move in His power
But we don’t want to be weak.

We say we want compassion and boldness
But we don’t want to be a fool.

We want to sit in heavenly places
But we won’t sit at His feet.

We say we want to abide in Him
But we won’t come out from among them.

We say we want to go forward with God
But we won’t turn and repent.

God loves us and He wants to give us the kingdom, but how can He if we will not humble ourselves? We must humble ourselves before Him. There is no other way.

If we will not pay the price, if we won’t sell all to purchase that pearl of great price, then we are only religious, Jesus is no longer precious to us. He is no longer real to us.

Do we want to be glorified, or do we want God to be glorified? Do we want dead works, or do we want fruit that remains?

We say we want to go where He wants us to go. There is only one place He is leading, and that is the cross.

From the greatest person to the least, every single one of us, from the one with the most perfect pursuit, to the utterly lost among us, we should all be trembling at the word that has been coming to us for months and months. Every one of us fall so far short of the glory of our Holy Father. All of us should be crying out for the searchlight of His Holy Spirit to shine into every crevice of our being, that we would fall on our face before Him and allow Him to bring a fire so hot into our soul, that we will NEVER again be the same. That God would be great in this place, and in each one of our hearts. That we would be nothing and that He alone would be glorified.

Dear God let it start with me …..

Moved?

I inadvertantly saw a brief portion (I could bear to watch only seconds, and thankfully it has been removed) of a video showing “Pakistani Islamists” beating with sticks a domesticated dog which was hung up by a harness. My emotions were instantly torn between heartbreak for the dog and seething hatred for its tormentors. The face, the eyes especially, of one of the torturers made me think of a demon in the third panel of Bosch’s triptych, “The Garden of Earthly Delights,” which depicts a (Dante’s) Inferno-like punishment for past sins.

That, in turn, made me think that even now people are tormented – in their minds, their bodies, their souls – by Satan’s “henchmen.”

It has been said, with respect to a lack of compassion for the lost, that “our eyes are dry because our hearts are dry.” If I but look upon those who do not have faith in Christ, should I not feel for them as much as I did for the animal? Should I not seeth with hatred for the devil’s minions under whose power these folks unknowingly (for the most part) find themselves? Should I not at the very least speak to them, pray for them, and see them illuminated and given the opportunity for freedom?

But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest” (Matthew 9:36- 38).

This is not meant either to distract or to educate, but if you’re interested…

Genesis 2:10 (NKJV) says, “Now a river went out of Eden to water the garden, and from there it parted and became four riverheads.”  I got wondering just what “went out” means.  Apparently, in the Hebrew it means only “went out,” with no certainty that the “River of God” (as some call it) actually originated in Eden, which has always been my assumption.  If its source is there, that places it somewhere in the area west of Mt. Ararat.

Other theorists think that Eden is not at what was then the source of at least two of these rivers, but at their confluence, in southern Iraq.  In this scenario, one of the four rivers is thought to run where the Red Sea is now.

It seems logical to me to stick with my original assumption that Genesis, in saying “went out” and “from there” and “became,” meant that Eden encompassed the source of the originating river.

What do you think?

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Having just celebrated the birth (incarnation) of Jesus Christ and realizing that, even of those of us who claim to be Christians, only a minority focused on Him, I began to reflect today on the upcoming transition to 2017.

Here is an entire world, waiting upon what it deems to be the push of The Great Cosmic Reset Button, expecting that “things will be different next year,” or “I’m really going to…,” when there is absolutely no logical (or cosmic) reason for that expectation.

So many folks tonight, are looking for the New Year to bring a clean slate, a new beginning, a fresh start. They’re looking in the wrong place, or to be more precise, they’re not looking to the One who has already provided the one and only way to what they seek. They don’t want to hear it, but yielding their lives to God through Jesus Christ, whose birth we just celebrated, is their only path to that clean slate, that new beginning.

One of the few conservative voices in Hollywood. Worth a read.

James Woods

Twitter is a dangerous place for the faint of heart. Gang thuggery can devastate a delicate sensibility and even damage professional reputations beyond repair. Sarcastic allegations of misbehavior border on defamation and baseless charges of criminal behavior can be defamation per se. Whether such acts can be disputed, ignored or litigated depends on their severity and degree of malicious intent. The civil courts of late are demonstrating their impatience with irresponsible behavior of the most egregious kind. I personally have been victorious in this arena, while others less inclined, or for various reasons unable or unwilling to fight back, have fared less favorably. Anonymity, the foundation Twitter’s business model and appeal, supports the more venal in our midst, as it has supported those cowards who would snipe from dark corners since the advent of the written word. Before the the written word, malicious whisperers claimed their victims in a different…

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The “Christmas” Book

My parents saved S&H Green Stamps.  You received one stamp for so much spent, pasted them in a book, and redeemed the book(s) for items in an S&H store.  Mom and Dad promised me I could make the next pick, for one book of stamps anyway.  We went to the S&H store in Virginia Square in Arlington.  “How about these nifty swizzle sticks?”  “We could use some new poker chips!”   I was, however, a bibliophile, and up on the top shelf lay a book!  I wanted that book.  It turned out to be a Bible.  My father asked, “What do you want that for??”  “It’s a book, isn’t it?” was my reply.  I got the book.  My parents weren’t exactly happy.  I tried to read it, but the King James put me off.  Though I had no idea of its significance, I found “The Christmas Story,” Luke 2: 1-21.  I read and re-read it, nearly memorizing it, but except at Christmas it meant nothing to me.  Perhaps it was a seed planted.  Perhaps it will be for you too:

(I’ve substituted the easier-to-read New King James Version.)

And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them. And when eight days were completed for the circumcision of the Child, His name was called JESUS, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb. Now when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord.

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