TO WHOM ELSE?

Jesus gazed at the sparse crowd. “Everyone’s staying away.”

The exodus had started right after they challenged him. “Show us a sign. Our father Moses gave us bread in the wilderness.”

“The only sign you’re getting is from Jonah. He spent three days in the belly of a whale. If it’s bread you want, I am the bread of life.”

They scratched their heads and tried to catch him with words. As the argument heated up, the crowd thinned out.

Three days later, Jesus squinted at the twelve. “You guys leaving too?

Then glorious, motor-mouth Peter gave me one more reason to love him. “To whom else shall we go?”

Who else but Jesus? When he touched the hand of Peter’s mother-in-law, she got off her sick bed and made lunch for her gang of visitors. Then he said, “Throw your nets on the other side of the boat,” so Peter turned and hauled in fish until water sloshed over the gunnels. When Peter sank in the storm, he yelled, and Jesus yanked him up.

No one else. Only Jesus.

Speculation had it Jesus was John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah or some other prophet.

“Forget them.” Businessman Peter cut through the chatter. “You’re the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” No one else.

Yes, Peter told the soldiers he’d never known “that man.” But then to whom else could he go? Regret. Bitter weeping.

When Mary cried, “They stole Jesus’ body,” John-boy won the race and peeked in, but gray-haired Peter lumbered up beside him, knees creaking, side shrieking.


He stared into the tomb. Was Jesus in there? He shouldered John aside. Where else would he go?

By guest author David Parks

To leave a comment please click on the title above TO WHOM ELSE and scroll down.  Thank you and God bless you!  🙂

Dear Younger Self…

Dear Younger Self,

Much has happened in past decades. While busy raising children, building businesses, and caring for your parents, you had little time to focus on your own health, let alone the health of our country.

I know you regret not praying for our leaders and upholding the Judeo-Christian values that established our nation.
But can you now sit by in silence while a Christian minister includes a foreign, man-made god at the 117th United States Congress? While the name of Jesus is omitted at the conclusion of his “talk” and a mockery is made of the word Amen (so be it)?
Younger self, why didn’t you object when highly-paid representatives of the law dallied with gender politics and not the welfare of ‘we the people’? While children are murdered, while a blind eye serves the mentally ill, and while the streets fill with sex and drug traffic?
If not now, when will you remember that God is not mocked (Gal.6:7)? Though He had patience and sent warnings, His punishment in days of old for the same sins we Americans perpetrate – the murder of babies and the worship of pagan gods – came at a captivating price.
… many of you know I’m an aspiring author. This letter to my younger self may have caused career suicide. So be it. God’s word says He is for me, and therefore no one can be against me.
My Facebook friends number close to 900. Many are dear friends and classmates from NJ grammar and high school; CA neighbors and coworkers; VA neighbors; OR family and friends; ID neighbors, friends, and church-goers; and writing clubs locally and online.
If you choose to unfriend me, know that I love and respect you. You are and will always be in my heart – nothing will change that! Please know the Current Me will apply what Deitrich Bonhoeffer lived: to not speak is to speak; to not stand is to stand.
However, to the minister(s) who will dare to invoke the name of other gods in my house (the United States Congress) and/or other places where my forefathers toiled, fought, and died to lift high the name of the only Almighty God and preserve our nation’s freedom, you are on notice.
I will no longer abide invocation to any other name or prayer that does not close In Jesus Name. Amen
To the Anne Graham Lotzs, Priscilla Shirers, Franklin Grahams, Tony Perkins, Jack Hibbs, Charlie Kirks, Lee Strobels, Jonathan Kahns, Frank Tureks, Glenn Becks, Tony Evans, Kevin Sorbos, Kirk Camerons, and numerous American women and men of valor, preach it!
Cordially,
Erma Ullrey
(aka Amre Cortadino)

P.S. Though it is evening in America, your respectfully-submitted comments pro or con are welcome. Thank you. ❤

To leave a comment please click on the above title “Dear Younger Self…” and scroll down.  Thank you and God bless you!  🙂

TWAS THE WEEK AFTER CHRISTMAS…

Twas the week after Christmas, and all through the house,
Our spirits were lifted, our steps had a bounce.

Not the usual Christmas, our gathering small,
But the joy in our glad hearts could fill up a mall.

As we packed decorations, we had a bright thought,
We’d keep Christ in Christmas, not just things store-bought.

We’ll ring in the new year, grateful indeed,
To serve the dear Savior in both words and in deed.

Because Christmas is more than a date on a page,
It’s more than a Santa or plays on a stage.

Christmas reminds us of the birth of our Savior,
His sacrifice treasured more than gifts in a manger.

Throughout this new year, we’ll live with His love,
And worship Jesus, God’s plan from above.

The simple message of John 3:16 still rings clear and true. God’s abundant love compelled Him to give His one and only son so that when we believe we’ll have life everlasting!

By faith
Eternal
Life
Is
Easily
aVailable to
Everyone

Free!! To all who will believe (Romans 6:23).
God bless you and Happy 2021!!

By Amre Cortadino

To leave a comment, please click on the title above TWAS THE WEEK AFTER CHRISTMAS… and scroll down. Thank you and God bless you!  🙂

THE GREATEST SEARCH

The Gospel of Luke is the perfect book to read, especially in December. With just twenty-four chapters, one a day completes the entire book on Christmas Eve. Luke the physician expounds on the life of Christ in thoughtful, succinct prose. However, even a cursory glance reveals Luke is no bystander. He is a believer. He has lived what he penned.

In the opening chapters, Luke identifies people in search of God:
Angels prompted shepherds to search Bethlehem for baby Jesus;
Wise men saw the star and set out on a journey to find the promised king;
Though he failed, Herod unleashed his troops to hunt and kill the Christ child.

Skip ahead two thousand years. Do wise men still search for the Messiah? Yes, and through God’s design, the search still leads to Jesus.

To his agnostic surprise, Frank Turek became a Christian in his early 20s (https://crossexamined.org/dr-frank-turek/);
An atheist of Jewish heritage, Lee Strobel plunged into a journalistic investigation that led him to surrender his life to the Messiah at age 30 (https://leerstrobel.com/biography/);
And William Murry, pastor and son of atheist Madalyn Murray O’Hair, began living for Jesus at age 34 (https://fundamentalbaptistchristian.blogspot.com/2011/04/testimony-of-pastor-william-murray.html)

Throughout time, the search for Christ has led ordinary people to live extraordinary lives. Because when we search for Him with all our hearts and souls, we find Him. (Deuteronomy 4:29)

As we learn in Luke, Jesus came to seek us! Way back in Genesis, God began His pursuit:
He searched for Adam in the Garden of Eden;
He spoke to Moses from the burning bush;
He called Abram from his father’s house;
Jesus asked twelve fishermen to follow Him;
He summoned Zacchaeus the tax collector from his hiding place in a tree.

God’s search didn’t end with Jesus’ death on the cross. Far from it. Jesus rose from the dead. And because He lives, we’re offered eternal life! The baby in the manger came to sacrifice once and for all to blot out our sins. God’s pursuit of us, the greatest search, includes our rescue!

By Amre Cortadino

To leave a comment, please click on the title THE GREATEST SEARCH and scroll down. God bless you and Merry Christmas!!Image result for Free Christmas Tree

THE BELLS LONGFELLOW HEARD

Penned from his own anguish, Longfellow’s faith emerged victorious. I pray that as we hear the Christmas bells, we acknowledge all the Lord has done for us. And from grateful hearts, we share His love with others.

May this story warm and stir your heart…

On Christmas Day in 1863 Henry Wadsworth Longfellow continued to grieve the death of his beloved second wife Fannie who had died two years prior when her housedress caught fire. Longfellow himself tried to extinguish those flames with his own body but Fannie did not survive the accident. Because of his burns, Longfellow couldn’t attend the funeral.

During the subsequent two years Henry’s oldest son would enlist in the Union army to fight in the Civil War. On December 1 of that year, Henry would receive a telegram that his son had been shot during a battle of the Mine Run campaign. The location of the exit wound from the bullet would put his son at risk of being paralyzed.

This widowed father of six exhibited deep concern for his children, his country, his very life while cannons thundered in the south. It’s hard to imagine exactly what he felt when he heard the bells tolling on that Christmas Day. We know this wasn’t Longfellow’s first epic poetic endeavor. But, at this time of year, maybe even especially this year, we can put aside the hurts and hardships, and glide above the layers of morass, and choose hope and faith – just as Longfellow had done.

Please enjoy his music and poem. God bless you.

To leave a comment, please click on the title above, THE BELLS LONGFELLOW HEARD, and scroll down.  Thank you and Merry Christmas!

CHRISTMAS RECIPE FOR HEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS

A good friend and I chatted the other day about “toxic relationships,” buzz words that jumped into our vocabulary a few years ago and have taken up permanent residence. Who coined the term anyway? Silliness aside, there are several reasons to identify relationships as toxic. Here are a few:

  1. Diminished joy. Sapped  energy;
  2. Erosion of self-esteem and confidence;
  3. Demand for time and attention, often while giving nothing back;
  4. Increased stress;
  5. Judgment, criticism.

Wow! Quite a negative list! And that’s only the tip of the iceberg.

Because my mind works this way, I wondered about the opposite of toxic relationships. Here’s the upside—what positive, healthy relationships include:

  1. Respect;
  2. Encouragement;
  3. Humor;
  4. Inspiration;
  5. Time apart.

Notice the stark contrast to the toxic list?

Okay, now we have two lists, and they’re all well and good, but what does the Bible, God’s word, have to say about relationships? A treasure trove! Feel free to find more, but here’s a few to enjoy:

By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:35, NIV)

Greater love has no one man than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friend. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I have learned from my Father I have made known to you. (John 15:13-15, NIV)

So then, we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another. (Rom.14:19, NAS)

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity. (Prov. 17:17, NIV)

Bottom line, want a balm for toxic relationships?  Want to enjoy healthy ones? Follow Jesus’s recipe:

  • His relationship with His father was one of constant communion. We need constant, committed time with God.
  • His relationship with His disciples and friends included instruction, rebuke, time apart and together, and always pointed the way to God. He reclined with sinners, friend and foe, and the poor and rich alike. We crave honest, fun, relaxed time with and apart from others.
  • His relationship with His adversaries was forthright and public. He exposed their motives, corrected, and showed love. During His trial, He remained silent and then paid the ultimate price—death on the cross—atonement for the sins of all mankind. As Ecclesiastes says, there’s a time for everything … a time to hold our tongues and a time to speak. Knowing the difference is wisdom.

Some of our greatest disappointments and joys come from relationships. Jesus said, and I paraphrase, this isn’t easy street, folks. You’re gonna have trouble in this world. (John 16:33) Ah, but there is a balm: He has overcome the world! So nothing, including relationships, is impossible with Him!  🙂

By Amre Cortadino

 

 

 

 

 

 

SEEING ABOVE THE CLOUDS

If you believe enough or are righteous enough, will God take away your suffering?

When my 24-year-old daughter discovered she had Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and a tumor the size of a man’s fist pressing against her lungs and trachea affecting her every breath, one of her friends told her that she didn’t even want to know the name of the cancer because it was going to disappear. The friend declared that she was praying for her, and if my daughter would just believe enough, God would heal her.

The friend meant well enough, but she put the burden of being healed upon my daughter, that it would be her own fault if she weren’t healed.

God doesn’t guarantee to heal our every wound on this earth, and He doesn’t promise us a life without trials.

A quick look at the biblical Hall of Fame shows us that. For example, Joseph, who was sold into slavery by his brothers and then imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit, probably wondered if his life would ever amount to much, before God opened the doors for him to be second in command to Pharaoh. In the midst of the shackles and the cell, Joseph couldn’t see God’s ultimate plan.

The Apostle Paul was beaten, stoned, hungry, thirsty, shipwrecked, imprisoned, etc., and it had nothing to do with a lack of faith or a lack of righteousness. God never promised our paths would be easy, but He promised to work it all for the good. He will turn the ashes to beauty.

Romans 8:28 tells us “And we know in all things that God works for the good of those that love him and who are called according to his purpose.”  God doesn’t say that we’ll be immune to suffering and loss. He promises to work everything out for the best and for His glory.

Our lives with our brokenness and tears blended with our faith, joy, and hope in Him are His masterpieces. He can use the bad that comes into our lives to make us stronger and grow us deeper than we ever imagined possible. We can comfort others with the comfort we ourselves receive from the Lord (2 Corinthians 1:4).

One of my favorite things about flying in an airplane is being 25,000 – 30,000 feet above the earth and seeing the sun above thick swirls of white clouds. It reminds me that the sun is always there, even when I’m earthbound, and  storms block my view.

We do not know His plans. We cannot see above the clouds.

God sees the whole picture. The wonders of His plans are beyond our comprehension.

He is there with us every step of the way, even in the darkest of nights. He will never fail us.

And for those of you who are wondering, God worked through the chemo and His healing power to remove every trace of cancer from my daughter’s body. She has been in remission for 18 months, and she now leads a cancer support group Bible study seeking to support and comfort others.

By guest author Sherry Shindelar

https://www.facebook.com/historylitgirl

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

S

Rotten Fruit & Itchy Ears: The Real Pandemic Infecting The American Christian Church

I think we can all agree that the year 2020 is a weird time to be a person. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve said that.

2020 has felt like an earthquake opening up chasms. (Sometimes literal earthquakes.) Shattering a landscape that was familiar. Revealing all the layers of mess and division that existed under the surface. Bubbling, molten anger and fear.

If being alive is weird now, being a Christian is even weirder. The very people called to be peacemakers. The very people called not to fear. The very people called to unity are fractured and divided. Each a chief of their own tribe at war against all the other tribes. Unwilling to bend or collaborate or listen. Grasping for power.

The things the world should recognize us by:

Love
Compassion
Patience
Faithfulness
Joy
Peace
Kindness
Gentleness
Self control

..the very things that should distinguish us, are vanishing from sight. And it is breaking my heart.

I’m seeing something happen in the church, something that’s happening to pastors that I want to reveal.

As a pastor’s wife, here’s what I see:
* People are being discipled by things/voices that have not earned the privilege to disciple them.
* Christians are being discipled by things and people that do not care for them or have their best interest at heart.
* Christians are being discipled by people who do not even know Jesus.

Why are we allowing this to happen? It caters right to our fears and insecurities and sinful desires.

2 Tim 4:3 has come to mind over and over again throughout the last several years. “For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.”

How can we put more trust in something on the internet or saw on a biased news source than in the people God placed in leadership in their very own living, breathing community? I’m not calling people to put blind trust in their pastors, not at all. Discernment and wisdom are important. Not all pastors are worth following. (That’s a whole other post for someone else to write. In fact, they already exist.) BUT what I’m seeing is a considerable lack of trust happening here.

Brothers and Sisters: what are you letting disciple you?  A political party or Twitter feed or YouTube channel? Does that discipler love and know you?

Will you allow the pastors God has placed in your very own church community the opportunity to teach you? To challenge you? To lead you in the way of Jesus? Then approach your interactions with those God has placed in leadership with humility, love, and compassion.

People of Jesus: the world knows we are disciples of something. May they clearly see the one whom we follow. May they see our love. May they see the fruits of the Spirit. May they see Jesus.

“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:35

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Gal 5:22-23

By guest author Grace Cramer

https://gracecramer.wixsite.com/mysite

EVERYTHING AND THANKSGIVING

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever. (Psalm 107:1, NIV)

We’ve breathed this verse countless times, maybe even sang it. And, to be honest, the words roll off our tongues with greater enthusiasm and velvety smoothness when all is well in our lives.

But just as in 1621, few people today would say all is well. Conflict between ethnic groups then and now? Check. Disease, poverty, fear? Yep. Dawn of the winter season? Same. Reason to gather together and celebrate? The 1621 people of Plymouth would give a resounding yes.

Contradictory reports vary the number of settlers, including the number of men, women, and children, and the number of native Americans who celebrated the first three-day Thanksgiving feast. The month in which the first feast took place is even in question. What we do know to be true is that two  different groups of people came together, shared what they had, and enjoyed themselves. Thankfully, those three facts are indisputable because we have several near-four hundred-year-old, eyewitness, handwritten accounts.

How will history record our Thanksgiving feasts? While we may be distanced from each other this year, we can keep the gift of thankfulness alive. And like the first Thanksgiving, rather than dwelling on differences and obstacles, let’s enjoy the blessings we’ve been given.

To capture the essence of this holiday, and to remember what’s most important, I asked friends new and old to contribute their Thanksgiving stories. I hope you hear the love and joy each memory evokes…

One of my funniest Thanksgiving memories had to do with my mother’s fantastic rolls. They were rising everywhere – even on a living room sofa. A cousin who shall remain nameless, but his initials are P.B., came in our house and sat on them. All bets were off after that and, as I remember, we laughed the day away (while we ate, of course)! Fun times! (by Erma Ullrey)

When I was a little girl my mom and her entire family shared one Thanksgiving together. She had six brothers and sisters, and they all had children. There were so many of us we extended the tables and chairs into the garage. It was the best Thanksgiving. (by Susan A Lamb)

A different time. But we all looked forward to high school football on Thanksgiving Day. Some we won some we lost. Just like the wishbone between brothers some he won, some I won. But I don’t remember the wishes. Oh yes, there was one. I wanted to marry I Dream of Jeannie … sure disappointed. But I still to this day believe in Santa. (by Don Demarest)

One of my best Thanksgivings ever, I soaked in a tub and read a book while my kids made the entire meal. They were in high school & junior high & only asked me to set the table. LOL. I figured I finally worked myself out of a job! My kids (5) are all foodies & loved to cook, so they took over the entire meal. It was fabulous & still is. My job since is only to set the table. Thankful for a house full of great chefs! (by K Denise Holmberg)

They run together, but the gist is big family dinners with the football game afterward. There was the year some very young second cousins ran their fingers thru the frosted cakes. (by Mary Pat Johns)

My mom was in the kitchen basting our turkey. My very fussy Aunts and Uncles were in the living room. Our house was the Old Homestead where my dad and his sisters were born… I went into the kitchen to help mom when the turkey slipped and fell into our new puppy’s basket next to the stove. Thankfully the dog was not in it… I ran to tell my dad that Mom needed help in the kitchen … at that point my mom was in tears … my dad stepped in, grabbed the bird, put it under running water, and gave it a bath. He told my mom to just put it back in the pan and keep basting. Well my fussy Aunts said it was the best turkey ever. We still have a good laugh on the day my mom and dad saved Thanksgiving. (by Cathy Singer Dolan)

A couple of years ago, we saw my husband’s brother and his family for the first time in almost a year at Thanksgiving. We’d never gone that long between visits. They stayed at our house for a couple of days before moving on to other family. We played games, went to an escape room, and ate a lot of food. Our kids are close and we all had the best time together. (by Hilary Hamblin)

So many fond memories of my mom and dad and our entire family together for a fabulous Thanksgiving Dinner! I wish I could go back even for a minute to just enjoy the moment. I carry on the family tradition with all the Holidays and Sunday dinners! When I was young and living on Jackson Ave. my mom invited my Aunt Kitty Cornetto and Uncle Sal and their 5 kids for Thanksgiving!! Well…the fight over who got the legs of the turkey got so out of hand my mom and aunt had to scream and yell to calm all the kids down!! It was really funny! (by Bernadette Bargiel-Zisa)

I would have to say my favorite Thanksgiving was the year 2015 when our son and his wife hosted and when we went around the table to say what we were thankful for. Our daughter and her husband said they were thankful for baby number 4 on the way! Surprise! (And it definitely was!) But oh that sweet Miss Jubilee Plum has just stolen our hearts! (by Sue Ronning)

Thank you, friends, for sharing your Thanksgiving stories with us. Happy Thanksgiving!  God bless American and God bless you.

 

By Amre Cortadino

To leave a comment, please click on the title above EVERYTHING AND THANKSGIVING and scroll down. Thank you!  🙂

THE GOD WHO NEVER SLEEPS

“My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.” (Psalm 121:2-4, NIV)

When speaking to a new friend online late one night, I had to end the conversation early because I was sleepy. This new friend of mine wanted to know all about me and my work. I asked her if I could answer her questions “tomorrow” because I was sleepy now. So we said “Good night” and I went to bed. As I drifted off to sleep, I thought how grateful I am that I serve a God who never sleeps!

The Bible says in Psalm 121:4 that God will never “slumber nor sleep.” That means that not only is He wide awake and alert 24/7/365, but He’s always active in our lives, working everything out for our good (Romans 8:28).

As a human being, a mere mortal, there’s only so much I can do to help people until either my resources run out or I need to rest. And as a human with limited resources and a need to sleep every night, I can become exhausted and want to give up on a situation that’s not being resolved. But thank the Good God Almighty that HE never gives up on humankind! His resources are unlimited and He never becomes exhausted in His mission to not only help us but to save our souls!

The Bible says in Psalm 121:1 that our help comes from the Lord who is the Maker of Heaven and Earth. It’s important to remember that God made everything that exists and He knows exactly what we need! The Bible says in Philippians 4:19 that God will meet ALL of our needs!

In closing, I encourage you to go to the God who never sleeps and trust Him to take care of you!

Before you go to sleep tonight, listen to this beautiful song about Psalm 121.

By guest author Alexis Goring

Image result for alexis goring

https://alexisagoring.jimdofree.com/