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_ife: A Wivine fetup - New Beginnings -

Linda C. Tardy


Life: A Divine Setup: New Beginnings Copyright © 2008 by Linda C. Tardy All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means— electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or any other—except for brief quotations in printed reviews, without the prior permission of the publisher. All Scripture has been taken from the King James Version of the Bible. All pronouns pertaining to the name Jesus have been capitalized as it may not be capitalized in the Bible. However, it is out of respect and reverence for our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED Printed in the United States of America ISBN 978-0-9816828-2-2 Library of Congress Catalog Number 2008925745 Cover design by Iesha Butler Published by Vision House Publishers

www.visionhousepublishers.com


Table of Contents ANTHOLOGY Introduction

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Chapter One: Short Stories

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Chapter Two: Testimonials

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Chapter Three: Poetry

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Chapter Four: Articles

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Chapter Five: Book Excerpts Chapter Six: Playwrights/Scripts About the Author

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Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-15) Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, As it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. As we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil: For Thine is the kingdom, And the power, And the glory, forever. Amen.

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Thank You Holy Spirit, in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, I welcome You in my life. I hunger and thirst for the fullness of Your power and unspeakable joy. You have brought me to a new level of obedience in my life. Praise God! Thank You, Jesus, for knowing my needs. Thank You for putting Your commands in my memory so I will be ready to obey. I will forever remember Your command—“If ye love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15). Thank You, Lord, for teaching me, establishing me, grounding me, and changing my behavior so I could glorify God! Thank You, Lord, for teaching me that this journey is not about me but about Jesus, who said He would give us another Comforter, who is the Holy Spirit. I thank You, Lord, for teaching me to show my love and appreciation by walking in obedience to Your awesome leadership and powerful Spirit who lives in me every day. I honor You, I exalt You, and I lift up Your name with praise! Bless the name of Jesus Christ.

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Dedication This book is dedicated to the body of Christ. I am grateful and honored to learn from the greatest Teacher in heaven and on earth. We know now that this is not our permanent home, because Jesus said, “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you” (John 14:2). So we spend this journey in preparation for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. We thank You, God, for making us Your inheritance, Your priceless treasure. “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us” (2 Cor. 4:7). To God be all the glory!

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Introduction This book is an “Anthology,” a collection of short stories, articles, plays, songs, poetry and book excerpts from all of God’s talented and gifted people from all walks of life; spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ through their gifts and talents.

We are called to be God’s earthly administrators, to be leaders in our communities, authors, playwrights, ministers, pastors, apostles, evangelists, prophets, and teachers to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up, until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of Christ (Ephesians 4:11-13) There are many circumstances and situations that take place in our lives every day. Many of us do not realize that there is a spirit realm that exists around every situation that occurs. We are unable to see into the spirit realm, but there is a spiritual battle that’s taking place in the lives of the children of God. The battle is between satan and God. If you are a believer that means that God has assigned angels to your life, and those angels are on assignment to protect you from evil. God has given you authority to call on those angels whenever you are in trouble. God is your Father, and even if you don’t call on your angels, He is always there to deliver the righteous out of affliction. Since you have been made the righteousness of God, that gives you access by faith to experience God’s grace (favor) on your life. When you have faith, that pleases God, and puts you in a 6


position to receive His grace and favor in circumstances beyond your control. The Bible say, “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 (Hebrews 11:6). In every situation, we must seek the face of God and know that God is in control of every circumstance, and He is behind the scenes working it all out. We must acknowledge the presence of the Lord in our homes, schools, work places on the street, in the supermarket and everywhere. God is omnipresent (Everywhere) Omnipotent (All powerful) Omniscient (All knowing) and we must acknowledge him in everything that we do, and all that we do, we must do to the glory of God. He is creator, and Father of this universe, without Him we are nothing. Apparently you are important to God. You are the apple of His eye, and His priceless treasure. The Bible says, “What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? (Psalm 8:4) I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well (Psalm 139:14). After God has worked out your situation, then you will have a testimony to share with others about the goodness of Lord, and how God has made your life A DIVINE SETUP…. The Bible says, “And they overcame him (devil) by the blood of the lamb, and by the word of their testimony.”(Revelation 12:11)

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Chapter 1 Short Stories The Picture of George and Ruby by Sharlyn Guthrie – (Agape Love) Willard and George were admitted to the nursing home as roommates on the same day. I was there, finding just the right spot for Willard’s lift chair, labeling his clothing, and seeing to it that he was as comfortable as possible, because Willard is my father. While moving to a nursing home is never easy, spending the past month in the hospital was worse, so with resignation my father began to familiarize himself with his new surroundings and with his roommate, George. Almost immediately we discovered that the two roommates shared a liking for talk-radio programs. Relieved that this pastime would be equally enjoyed by both men, we began seeking other commonalities. George lifted a large tattered Bible from his nightstand. Grinning, my father pulled his own well-worn Bible from the bag I was unpacking. I smiled, breathing a prayer of thanksgiving for the Lord’s provision in these smallest of details.

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The conversation turned to family, and we learned that both men raised only daughters, no sons. My father’s eyes welled up with tears as he told George about Bernice, his wife of sixty years who had passed away just nine months earlier. George expressed his condolences, but then his eyes brightened. His wife, Ruby, lived here in the same nursing home! George explained that she needed more care than he, so she was in a special room down the hall. He used to drive to the nursing home to visit her every day, but for several months now he had been unable to drive, so his visits had been less frequent. He was elated that he would once again be seeing her daily, now that he was living here, too. At dinner time I watched amused as George and Willard shuffled off to the dining room, walkers extended in front of them. I observed their matching height and slight build, and noted that each of them wore a plaid flannel shirt. George fastened his belt high above the small paunch of his stomach, while Willard avoided the belt problem altogether by wearing overalls. They made quite a pair! Again I thanked God for so quickly providing my father with a companion. George and Willard continued to enjoy each others’ company, but the indelible vision I have of George was witnessed by my husband and I one evening as we passed through the large sitting area on our way to visit Willard. My husband tapped my arm and pointed across the way. On this particular evening George was seated in an armchair wearing a crisp white shirt, his black slacks characteristically pulled up under his armpits. His thin, unruly hair had been slicked back along the sides of his head. His normally gray, sunken eyes sparkled and a gentle smile warmed his opaque face. For next to him sat Ruby. Ruby, wrinkled and disheveled, dressed in pajamas and a floral duster, had been positioned and tied into a tall straight-back chair with wheels and a tray. Her head drooped onto her chest and her 9


eyes were closed, drool coursing down her chin. It’s doubtful that she knew George was beside her. But George beamed, reaching up to hold her fragile hand in his, exulting in the presence of his beloved Ruby. My husband and I reverently paused to take in the sight, and then continued down the hallway. But later that night as we cuddled before falling asleep we spoke of it again, vowing to keep our love alive as long and as strong. It is a sight we will never forget. Though we have attended countless weddings and anniversary parties, listened to hundreds of love songs, and watched dozens of romantic movies, the picture that best captures the essence of enduring love is a picture now seared in our memory …the picture of George and Ruby. Since that day I have come to an even greater realization. Isn’t the picture of George and Ruby an apt picture of my Heavenly Father who loves me despite wrinkles, unkempt hair, and drool on my chin? How many times have I doubted his love –failed to recognize his presence? And yet he, my beloved, the one whose love exceeds all comprehension is always there -holding my hand, boasting of his unfailing love for me. “…I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.” (Jeremiah 31:13 NIV) God’s love for me –for each of us- couldn’t have been more eloquently demonstrated than it was that day in the nursing home by George and his precious Ruby. May I lift my faltering eyes and see him for who he is, and then live out the grateful life of one so cherished.

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A Mission and Passion for service: Helps Homeless Women in Boston by Susan Holaday – (Leadership)

BOSTON - Sharon Reilly grew up on a sharecropper's farm in Mississippi in the '50s and '60s, developing a passion for social justice that over the years, drove her from the corporate world in Arkansas to Boston in 2003, bringing with her skills that came from years in higher education and Fortune 500 companies. Today, she serves as executive director of the Women's Lunch Place, a shelter providing meals and numerous services ranging from legal, social, educational and healthcare for homeless women in need of healthy, nutrititious meals and a hand to help them along the way. Originally, WLP was founded in 1982 by two women who'd met as volunteers at the South End homeless shelter, Pine Street Inn. It quickly met a need as the homeless population grew, in part due to changes in the state's handling of mental health patients. Open six days a week, it offered nutritious, wholesome meals to homeless women and their children in space in the basement of Church of the Covenant. The first meal was served to a dozen women on Nov. 15, 1982 and meals were offered three days a week. By '84, a fourth day of service was added with a fifth following in '86. By 1996, WLP was operating six days a week. In 1992, a former homeless woman was hired to provide advocacy services to the homeless guests, a program which developed quickly into an Advocacy and Legal Assistance Program. By 2005, a full time cook was hired and today, the program offers services to more than 150 women and children. This year, Reilly spearheaded an effort that raised $3 million to renovate the space, adding a medical suite where women can talk privately with

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physicians about health issues. The goal is to extend hours of service. The expansion enabled the creation of a new Creative Expressions room, a Resource Center and more ways to help WLP's guests. "When I invited the board of Women's Lunch Place to embark on a capital campaign," Reilly recalls, "I told them we had this window of opportunity to move the needle in our industry and that a renovated facility would help us do that. I believe that in the area of food and nutrition, we are ahead on so many fronts. In program evaluation, we are in a lead position evaluating the impact of our work in the lives of women and especially, senior women, in a population that is not well represented and yet makes up a large segment of our total population. We've made it our business to support women who are poor and homeless and we do it without a lot of red tape." WLP, she adds, took a dingy basement and transformed it into a modern home for women and children. "That allowed us to meet unmet needs in a number of key areas that are linked to the quality of life. We added an additional shower, so more women can take showers and minimize public health risks. We added another washer/dryer to give them access to clean clothes. We expanded the nap room to give them more rest during the day; and our resource center was expanded to help them rethread their lives. We have more emphasis on jobs services and skills building. We realize that when women are stabilized, families tend to stabilize as well." "We are providing basic services in a sluggish economy at a time when more and more women are utilizing our services. The balance is off, and yet without the services and supports that we provide, the outcome would be devastating for even more women."

The Blind Escape by Emmanuel N. Obu The captor sat opposite the hostage prodding him with threatening questions, right there in the middle of the fearful bush, and the mind of the hostage raced with many thoughts as he sat on the floor, littered with dry leaves. 12


With his hands tied to his back and his face covered with a hood, he kept wondering if he will ever get out of this hostage and locate the way out of the bush. Just how would I? He thought. Then suddenly there were sounds and strange noises coming from somewhere within the bush. The captor in panic, stood up to go either in search of what that could be or in a bid to run away and escape from an unknown attack or arrest. The hostage in excitement and desperation suddenly shrugged up from the grassy floor littered with broken tree stems and dry leave petals. While in a haste to escape, he stumbled on shrubs around him and crashed into towering trees he could not see, because he had a hood over his face. He got up, still very desperate to escape but without knowing any direction or see at all, in the dense bushy mangrove – his face was still covered with the captors hood and his hands still tied behind him. He made desperate attempts, upon attempts to just keep moving but he will stumble and topple over severally. In another thought he stopped, seeing he had dissipated so much energy without progress and time maybe running out on him because he didn’t know if the captor was coming back to get him into hostage! His greatest handicap now was the covering over his eyes – if only he could see a direction, then he will follow it. He thought, putting his whole being to action, and said “I will be calm and not run crazily any more. I will engage my inner senses. I will move now with my imagination and deep perception of where I feel is the direction and then just a little bit gently, so I don’t stumble and topple over. My legs will be my guide – I will stretch them forward to feel what is ahead. I may be lucky to escape.” Within all these, there was still a deep sense of anxiety, pressure and desperation to get out of the woods quickly. But he was bound to move very slowly, the most vital aid he needed to be fast were his eyes – they were still covered. After his resolve to use inner senses, imagination, perception and his leg to feel his way through, for obstacles, he made very little progress towards an unknown direction. He got tired of his effort and decided to sit at the foot of a tree with very low thorny

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branches. Just then warm tears rolled down his cheeks behind the hood! He remembered he had once heard a gospel sermon in one Sunday service he attended where the preacher repeatedly spoke these words from the scripture “where there is no vision, the people perish…..”(Proverbs 29:18). He now could clearly relate with this truth – his inability to see right now could make him perish! And a surge brewed from within him to call on God and asked for help; he couldn’t see, and was hands bound. He then cried out with his total being to God for help, to remove his hood, show him the direction and remove the bound of limitation on his hands. As he was still consumed in his intense desire for God’s help, he attempted to get up once again after unfruitful frantic movements. He moved his back upward on the stem of the thorny branched tree to get up. Just then, the clothing hood covering his head to his neck got stuck, from the top of his head to the side, on a low thorny branch of the tree he didn’t see. Immediately he noticed his hood was stuck, he began to pull his head hard from the branch in attempt to yank off the hood. Just like a miracle the hood tore open from the head to his neck and fell apart and his visibility came alive. With this, he lifted up his eyes and saw a direction that spoke to his heart to follow. With his hands still bound behind him but vision clear, he started to run towards the direction he was inspired to follow (when you see the vision, no matter the handicap, keep running towards it). Within a couple of twenty minutes distance, he began to approach what seemed like a flowing river and he increased his race towards the direction, hoping to find help of some sort. Getting to the river he saw a man in a boat who strangely came to fetch wood in this remote lonely bush. So he called out for help and the man in the boat heard and responded to him. He came down, cut the rope that bound his hands and rowed him across to desired destination.

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The once hostage, who now has freedom, wondered how he strangely got off the hood over his face, located the right direction and met the fair skinned, tall and handsome man at the right time, in an unbelievable location. He thought to himself and said “God how mysterious are your ways. We only just need to put across a call and you come racing down. Thank you once again!� Many are doing a blind escape in a world that holds them hostage with failure and backwardness; with evident lack of success, fulfillment, satisfaction, direction and poverty. They keep making attempts towards escape but are blind to direction. And so stumble severally without progress but with saddled limitations. Some have even used their self imagination, perception and well crafted self ambition but have made little progress to nowhere; just as the man in the hood, making a blind escape. Many have become very wise to call on God who created every man with a purpose to open their eyes and show the direction to follow to destiny. When you call on God, he will answer and open your eyes to catch the vision of direction to destiny (Jeremiah 33:3). When God opens your eyes and you catch the vision of your purpose, you will begin to run towards destination with progress. Effort becomes blissful and you will always meet help at the right time, along the way to go across - just like the man in the hood. Stop making a blind escape! What you need is vision for life and God is the only road map you need out. Discovering your purpose is the greatest discovery you can make. It is a vision driven discovery you need, to get life straight!

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Tony D'Urso builds a new life for others by Karen Rubin There is a slum outside of Nairobi, Kenya, where the "road" is called "River of Shit" because that is where the people's waste flows. It is a slum so poor and desperate, that unwanted children are left beside a river bank during the monsoon, to be swept to their death. And for too many of the 1.5 million people crammed into this slum, it is the only way they will ever leave. This is where Anthony D'Urso comes twice a year from his home in Long Island to build a school, an orphanage, to hammer and saw and haul. Since retiring after 14 years as the elected North Hempstead Town Councilman and 30 years with the City of New York's Department of Housing Development Administration, he has devoted himself to three different charities, traveling thousands of miles each year at his own expense, to Haiti, Nicaragua and Kenya, building homes one at a time, and schools one classroom at a time. He works in some of the poorest neighborhoods on the planet: in Haiti, where the "improvement" is creating a tent city for children orphaned by the earthquake; in villages in Nicaragua where people live in leaky shacks of scraps of sheet metal and discarded lumber and even the homes of cinderblock that he builds do not have running water or electricity; and in Kibera outside of Nairobi, where the life expectancy is among the lowest on earth and half of the deaths are from AIDS, leaving scores of orphans, many of whom are born with HIV. With each stroke of the hammer, cut of a saw and haul of a cinder block, he is opening a path and creating the possibility of making a 16


better life, instead of being trapped in the circumstance of their birth. He is driven by this nagging question: "I can't understand why the children have to live this way. What did they do to deserve to live in this structural poverty that no matter what they do, they won't get out?" When he retired, he decided to do something about it. "When I was retiring, I was thinking about what to do for the rest of my healthy life. "I never had a lot of money. I don’t know what it is to have money. I wanted to do something I always wanted to do and had always done, but in small way – I was involved with Habitat for Humanity, helping build a few houses, made regular contributions to Save the Children, Boys Towns, Smile Train. But now, I wanted to give more of myself." Now, he travels twice year to Masaya, Nicaragua with Bridges to Community, personally sponsoring the building of two houses a year. These are simple cement block houses, all of them conforming to a similar style to withstand earthquakes, but are a big improvement over what the people live in now: ramshackle shacks of scrap metal and lumber that flood when it rains, with no electricity or running water, cooking outside, a latrine. He was going back and forth to Nicaragua - he completed his 11th trip this past November - when he learned about the program to help the people in Kibera, a slum outside Nairobi, Kenya. Some 1.5 million destitute people are crammed into an area the size of Central Park, paying rent to a landlord for the privilege of living in a dilapidated shack without water or electricity, where people throw their waste into the street so a river of waste flows down the middle of the dirt road. 17


"The outside doesn’t know what happens inside the slums and inside, they don’t know what happens outside the slums." Now he makes two trips a year - on January 1 and July 4 spending two weeks at a time (and three days traveling). He travels with a group of about eight people, and always comes with presents for the children. On our visit to his home in Port Washington, he was preparing to travel again. Whereas the project in Nicaragua is more about families, the work in Kenya is more about rescuing children - literally. "Kibera has one of the lowest life expectancies in Africa (49), the mortality rate due to AIDS is 50%. A lot of the kids being rescued are orphaned because their parents died from AIDS. Many are born HIV positive. Children are abandoned and left to die. "There is a little river not far from the slum and most of the year it is dry, but when the monsoon comes, it swells up and sweeps away everything. Children are placed there so they will be swept away." A local woman who is a product of the slums, has dedicated her life to creating a school there for first to sixth grade. Her mission was expanded after she picked up two children - one was eight months, the other about 18 months - who were left at the river to die and the government refused to help unless she adopted them. And so she has adopted them and many others, since. Cross Cultural Thresholds, the group Tony works with, has supported her mission, physically building an orphanage which includes a school, and sustaining it by raising the funds to pay the teacher's salary ($2700 a year) and the cost of a nutrition program which provides the children with three meals a day. D'Urso's group is building a nursery school now. But the group has a more ambitious plan for a third school, Face and a Future, a high 18


school that will be built outside the slum itself, to open these young people to what might be possible. "We want to bring them outside the slums. If we get a child at age 2 for nursery up to six, then to elementary school, then for four years in high school, now we have structured a person with education and a different view from a person who grows up in the slum and never gets that outside view. This will give them a profession, so they can go outside the slum and market themselves." D'Urso's work in Haiti is connected to a faith-based organization, Croatian Relief Services, which initially was involved in Croatian relief during Bosnia-Kosovo conflict, but once that area stabilized, turned its attention to helping Haitians in the aftermath of the January 2010 earthquake. Much of his work in Haiti involves creating an orphanage for children who lost their family in the earthquake. They funded a lunch program and medical assistance. The orphanage now consists of tents; their plan is to build a school on two acres, using the rubble from the earthquake to elevate the structure against future flooding. Escaping the Bonds of Birth The common thread among the three different charitable enterprises is providing that something that breaks the bonds of poverty and despair. Tony D'Urso knows what it is to feel trapped by your condition, in a culture that accepts that you are what you are, and what it means to escape to a place where there is opportunity to fulfill your potential. He grew up in Formia, a small town in Latina area of Italy, between Rome and Naples, where his lot in life was to be a 19


laborer, and where the idea of pursuing education beyond fifth grade was out of reach. He spent his teen years as a laborer on construction sites and apprenticed as a mason. "They would put stones heavier than my body weight on my shoulder, and I would get on a ladder and carry the stone up the scaffold. I cursed every day. I worked hard because I had to.. I knew I had to get out of Italy." The United States allowed Italy had a scant few thousands visas, but France had 10 times that amount and most weren't used. Tony's parents, as it happened, were both born in France Their fortuitous birth provided Tony with an out. But in order to take advantage of the visas, he had to emigrate before his 21st birthday. Just a couple of months shy of turning 21, and with his father's blessing, he arrived in Long Island City on March 24, 1960 with two bags. He landed on the doorstep of an acquaintance who used to be a custodian in Italy, who had come three years earlier, with whom he corresponded. He had hoped to share the furnished apartment, paying $7 a week rent. He had $14 in his pocket at the time and spoke no English. D'Urso got a job doing construction, and enrolled in "English for Immigrants," studying for two years, then attended night school at Brooklyn Tech, finally earning his high school diploma after six years, in 1971. He was earning $44 a week, often working at two jobs dishwashing, furniture making and construction, and sending back half to his family in Italy. Then he got double pneumonia, and when he could not pay the hospital bill, was threatened with deportation. A doctor at St John's Hospital worked out an arrangement where he could repay the bill at $20 a week, and for the next three years, he made regular trips to drop off the money, even after the hospital relocated. 20


Armed with his high school diploma, he landed a civil service position with the City of New York's Department of Housing Development Administration, in 1971. He pursued higher education at the New York Technical College, graduating in 1975 with an AAS degree, then earned a Bachelor of Science from Pratt Institute School of Architecture in 1979. He did not stop there, but went on to earn a Master of Science at Pratt Institute in 1983. After 17 years of night school, of a routine of getting up for work at 5 am, leaving work and going to school until 10:40 pm, and finally coming home at 11:30 pm only to repeat the whole process again the next day, he was finally done. The whirlwind of work and study probably obscured the fact that he had surpassed what he could only dream of as a boy. Tony advanced through the ranks in the City department. He was promoted from senior building construction estimator to general supervisor of building construction, to director of operations for the Division of Design and Construction. In 1995 he was promoted to assistant commissioner of the Office of Architecture Engineering and Construction, putting him in charge of a technical staff of 300 and an annual capital budget of $500 million. When he retired after 30-years as a housing official, he was Deputy Commissioner. Even as a boy in Italy, D'Urso had a penchant for politics, and his life here afforded him the opportunity to pursue that interest, as well. He served as committeeman, zone leader, and in 1991 he was elected North Hempstead Town Councilman, serving 14 years. At this point, fully retired, he could have simply enjoyed the good life. Instead, Tony sold off the property he inherited from his father in Italy and other property, sold his house and scaled down, and

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has been using his cash to focus and expand on his charitable work. Last year, he spent $14,000 on travel, alone. It is the way he has lived his life. "I would tells my children when they were growing up that a certain amount of money has to be given to charity. I used to take them Sunday mornings to St. Francis Hospital with a Sons of Italy program – to visit needy children who were there for open heart surgery. Out of 32 children we sponsored, we only lost one. I would tell my children, 'How lucky you are.' We would bring cold cuts and bread to the parents – and we worked out a deal with a motel to house them while their children were in the hospital. This was the way he was raised, as well. His father may not have appreciated the value of education to uplift his son, but he modeled heroism in the cause of righteousness. He says, "I have three birthdays in my life, August 3 1939, when I was born; March 24, 1960 when I arrived in the United States, and September 8, 1943. "I don’t remember anything before September 8, 1943," he says. "Americans came with airplanes, flares, turning the night bright like a sunny day at night. They dropped leaflets telling us to get out, they would bomb the city. Our family left and went over the mountain. We stayed 10-11 months. During that time, my father was busy. He had worked for a Jewish family – Ascarelli – whose main residence was Naples. They were in the textile industry and owned farms in a beach resort. My father worked there. Nazis were looking for Jews to take back to slave labor camps. My father hid them in the mountains – they would hide during the day and move at night, always moving, because someone would have sold them out." For eight months, his father was away from their family, trying to protect the Ascarellis. "Then, one day, Moroccans who were 22


fighting for the Germans, caught up with them. My father used his French to convince them they were French." Remembering the Past to Build the Future D'Urso says that remembering his background, where he came from, has shaped what he does now. But others have taken a different view. "There are people who came poor like me to the United States but became super conservatives - as if they built a castle with a moat and lifted the drawbridge. They don't like illegal immigrants. But I know that if I didn't find a way to come here legally, I would have come illegally." Similarly, his up-from-his-own-bootstraps success has caused him to devote himself to charitable giving, rather than stand aside and let those in need make it on their own, if they have the ability and the luck. The desire to help others, he says, "was always there, the fire under the ashes… When I retired, I wanted to do more. I feel good about it… I never had much money, but I know that when you die, the suit you are buried in has no pockets, because you can’t take it with you. People get too involved with materialistic society. If I had a Lexus instead of a Camry, I couldn’t do this." His wife, Maria, sacrifices, too - not just the material things, but also the weeks away that Tony spends traveling. It is her gift to him that she supports him knowing how important it is to him. "I want my epitaph to say 'He tried to make a more just world.'" Tony says. "In a small way, I’m contributing to that, like a pebble on the beach… There are some kids that directly or indirectly will have a better future, a better life, maybe if I help change their expectations of life. I had no expectations growing up. You think

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'toys for Christmas/. What toys? We had no expectation whatsoever." In many ways, Tony D'Urso has come full circle - the young boy who wanted to escape his lot as a construction laborer, is laboring to construct houses, schools, and paths to a new life for other children who have done nothing to deserve the miserable lot in life they were born to, and who, without people like Tony, would have no way of breaking the cycle of structural poverty. For more information about contributing to these charitable causes, email durso1939@yahoo.com.

Yusef Bunchy Shakur By Marci Savage The Civil Rights Movement has evolved. It was born long before the 60’s, but the more recent leaders we remember are Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, and Rosa Parks. The leaders in these movements are our fathers, mothers, grandmothers, and grandfathers. Their work has left an indelible mark on our society. The need to fight for civil rights has not diminished. Detroit has a need for strong leadership in its neighborhoods. A revolution is happening in its streets, and the next generation has taken up the mantle of responsibility and is tackling the issues of poverty, illiteracy, education, incarceration and the deterioration of the neighborhood. Yusef Bunchy Shakur is a community activist who runs Urban Network located on Grand River in Detroit right off of I-94. Walking in the door of the brightly painted yellow building, it is warm and inviting. It is a safe place for the community, especially the youth, to hang out, have some food, and maybe watch some 24


TV or read while sitting on one of the comfortable leather couches in the lounge. It also doubles as a bookstore and library. The wall is full of books that kids don’t typically have access to in school giving them unprecedented access to their culture. In another corner, there are computers set up for access to the Internet, yet another important tool that many in the community don’t have dayto-day. Each area is carefully thought out and utilized to its maximum potential. There are also outreach programs done by Urban Network, such as “Restoring the Neighbor Back to the Hood Family Fun Day: School Supply Give Away” which this year provided over 500 backpacks to area youth, up from 250 backpacks the previous year. There is live entertainment, free food, and prize giveaways. But the most important component is to provide a safe and drama-free environment for people to act neighborly. It wasn’t until I talked with Yusef and read his book that I understood his deep commitment to the community. Yusef was born Joseph “JoJo” Lee Ruffin. His parents were teenagers and he ended up being raised in a single parent household. With no adequate father figure, he was running the streets. “I was an angry hurtful kid who used fighting as a form of therapy. By 13 I had co-founded the notorious street gang, Zone 8 and by 15 I had been kicked out of every public school in the area.” His lifestyle, or “death” style as he termed it, led him to be convicted for a crime he did not commit and he was sent to prison. “It was there that I met my father for the first time.” His father had been sent to prison several years ago. In his book he writes, “During my time with my father, he became my brother, teacher, comrade and mentor through stimulating a meaningful father and son relationship.” His father took the opportunity to guide him onto a path that would lead him to become a strong man and a leader, and not more hardened by his experience. 25


After nine years in prison, he emerged as Yusef Bunchy Shakur and returned back to the neighborhood he used to terrorize in his youth. While he was in prison, his first son was born. He knew that he had to do everything in his power to ensure that his son would not follow the same path that he and his father had. He continued to develop his skills. He became a community organizer, Head Start teacher, youth mentor, business owner, author, motivational speaker, and a college graduate. When you meet him he is a large soft-spoken man. Watching him give a speech, he transforms into a passionate, fiery and bold orator. He believes strongly in what he is saying, and believes strongly in his community and what they can accomplish, especially the youth. Having strong men in the community would help young boys to see what it means to be a strong man and not have to turn to the streets like he did. “My goal was to establish a healthy community. I wanted a safe place for people to go, for people to develop skills.” says Shakur. “I would like to see a Youth Entrepreneurship Program and programs that focus on affordable housing. More opportunities for internships. Maybe even scholarships. “ His experiences gave him a far different perspective, insight and authenticity as to how to approach problems. It’s that thoughtful reflection and analysis that makes Yusef so remarkable. The rolling-up of his sleeves and following through on his vision is what makes him more than that. This is a person who has overcome great adversity and has not allowed it to make him hard and bitter, but allowed it to transform him into a strong warrior and leader in his community In Yusef’s book there is a quote from Marianne Williamson: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be 26


brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” Yusef has learned how to shine, and by doing so he is showing other young men in his community that they can shine too. From his words to his actions, he is following his heart by letting others know his story.

Same Sex Marriages: Sin or Not a Sin By Linda C Tardy Although the Washington State Senate, along with the Governor of Maryland, Martin O’Malley approves gay marriage; there’s a new coalition called the Maryland Marriage Alliance, consisting of faith leaders who came together this year to combat the marriage bill (same sex marriages). Man made in God’s image Let us examine what God’s thoughts are about same sex marriages. The Bible says, (Genesis 1:27) “So God created man in his own image; in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. Since God has no physical body, and no man has ever seen the face of God, what did God mean by “Image of God?” We are a reflection of God’s glory. In other words, we share many of God’s characteristics, such as love, patience, faithfulness, kindness, forgiveness, humility, loyalty, humbleness, 27


meekness and self control. In the image of God is not based on physical appearance, yet spiritual attributes called, (Galatians 5:21) “Fruit of the Spirit.” God is a Spirit and he has given us the ability to be like him. God made both man and woman in his image. Advertisement Marriage is God’s idea. God proved this in his word (Genesis 2:18) “The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone,” “I will make a helper suitable for him.” In other words, after God made a man from the dust of the earth, his work was not complete until he made a woman for the man. However, the woman did not come from the dust of the earth; she came from the man’s flesh and bone. The Bible says, (Genesis 2:21-23) “So the Lord God cause the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs; and closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, “This is now bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called, “Woman,” for she was taken out of man.

Procreation Same sex marriages are not capable of procreating. God says, (Genesis 1:28) “Be fruitful and multiply. What does this mean? Procreate means to reproduce or multiply. A man’s body is not made to bear children. A woman’s body was designed by God to bear children. However, two men and two women cannot produce children. Same sex marriages were not designed by God, yet this is a rebellious decision by sinful man to defy God’s truth by redefining God’s marriage covenant between man and woman. Marriage Covenant between one man and one women A Covenant is an agreement that involves promises and commitments. In Jeremiah 31:31-32 God speaks about a relationship between himself and his people. He describes himself 28


as the “Husband.” God views marriage as a Covenant relationship. In the New Testament the relationship between Christ and the Church is described by the covenant relationship between the husband and the wife, one man and one woman. The Bible says, (Ephesians 5:22-24) “Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. God was not only establishing a covenant between man and woman, but he was also giving an example of order, harmony, and respect in the family. Marriage has been established by God, and setup to be a holy union before God. God is disappointed with those who break his marriage covenant (Malachi 2:14-16) “You ask, “Why? “ It is because the Lord is acting as the witness between you and the wife of your youth, because you have broken faith with her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant. Has not the Lord made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? Because he was seeking godly offspring. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth. “I hate divorce,” says the Lord God of Israel,” and I hate man covering himself with violence, as well as with his garment, says the Lord Almighty. So guard yourself in your spirit and do not break faith. Guard yourself in spirit and do not break faith means, to have the same commitment to marriage that God has to his promises with his people. Sinfulness of Humanity – God’s Wrath against Mankind The Bible says, (Malachi 1:18) “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness. Same sex marriages (Homosexuality) is in fact a sin. What is Homosexuality? (To exchange or abandon natural relations of sex) Why does homosexuality exist today? The Bible says that man 29


exchanged God’s truth for a lie, and men abandoned natural relations with women, and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion (Malachi 1: 26-27) even woman exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones, and has chosen to worship created things rather than the Creator.” Because of this God gave them over to shameful lust, and a depraved mind. “Because of mans stubbornness and unrepentant heart, he is storing up God’s wrath against himself.” The penalty for sin is death. For those who seek to do evil, and reject God’s truth there will be trouble and distress. But for those who do good and seek the truth of God shall be given eternal life.

IN CONCLUSION I appose same sex marriages because it is unnatural, a sin, and not of God. God's ideal plan for his creation is a holy union between man and woman with natural sexual relationships. Sin is an abomination in the sight of God; and the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life (Romans 6:23) What therefore God has joined together let no man separate (Matthew 9:6) But remember, God will forgive sexual sin, just as he forgives any other sin. Ask God to show you the way out of sin, and into his glorious light and freedom of his love. Surrender yourself to his grace and mercy. Repent, and turn from your wicked ways. If you confess your sins, God is faithful and just to forgive you of your sins, and cleanse you of all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9) simply by repeating these words; you can change your life: I (say your name) confess that Jesus is Lord; I believe in my heart that God raised him from the dead, now I am saved. Now you should find support in a good word church, attend bible study, and seek help from a pastor or counselor 30


Chapter 2 Testimonials A beautiful Sign But he was still afraid of getting close to God. They say you pattern your opinion of your Heavenly Father after your natural father. Bill’s dad was meaner than a jilted skunk. Hence his fear that somehow God might turn on him. But, God continued working, and after about four years Bill came to realize what God had done. With that realization came a flood of happiness that paled his problems. He began to release those feelings of resentment and anger. Bill Baker was warming up Still, although it seemed to be against what he prayed for, he and Barb had separated twice because of his inability to make decisions and his complete dependency on her. The burden he created was more than she could bear, even though she loved him dearly. Barb had hoped for a man who would be the spiritual head of the household, who could make decisions and be strong spiritually. Bill couldn’t do those things and that drove them apart. A change— a deep, grinding reversal, was what was really called for even though that was not the words used in prayer—obviously. God promises that all things work together for the good of those who love Him, and that includes even the most trying times. So it was with being separated. After 30 years Bill finally faced the reality of his life, his separation , his mother’s suicide and the feeling that she had abandoned him. Still with tears Bill says, “I thought I’d go insane with the grief. It was in the middle of December; the end of the fiscal year when there was little to do. I’d go to work and within a half hour I’d break down and cry. I’d go in the bathroom and weep and weep, and I’d think, pretty soon it will be all out and I’ll feel better. You know, you cry, and then feel better, you blow your nose, you go back to work. It didn’t happen. I just cried and cried and cried. I couldn’t do anything. Finally one day in my truck, I started beating the metal roof of my old truck , saying, ‘Lord, I’m going crazy. Please tell me what It is that I’m dealing with?” He told me, ‘you’re allowing that grief

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that you never felt when you lost your mom to surface in losing Barb, the two people you loved the most in your entire life. The second revelation came after Bill joined a Disciple Fellowship Church. He became active and attended a singles group regularly. When a group meeting was canceled one Wednesday Bill was devastated by the thought of staying home. He realized that he was terribly afraid of being alone. During one such episode, The Holy Spirit urged him to stay home with him and just read the Bible, saying, “don’t be afraid. You don’t have to run out somewhere.” It was difficult, but Bill was obedient. He felt a real peace and that night slept better than he had for many weeks. About a week later: Bill decided to take his new truck for a drive to Walsomberg and spend a few days with one of his Promise Keeper buddies. Since he couldn’t find a telephone number, he decided to take his chances and just go. He could be there by 2:00 PM, and if his friend wasn’t there, he could race back to Denver and make the evening church service so that he wouldn’t have to spend the evening alone. His friend wasn’t there and Bill turned to head back to Denver. He says, “It was as crystal clear to me that the Lord was with me telling me, ‘You have your Bible and you have my presence, just spend some time alone with me’” He turned West to the San Isibel National Forest. The truck had a camper, so there would be no problem with comfort. Bill found a desolate place. He felt a bit eerie about the place, but pulled in anyway. He wished he had someone to talk to get rid of the spookey feeling. He decided that since God brought him there, he’d talk to God. “So, I just started talking to the Lord like if he were there beside me and like He was my dad. I started to read the Word and pray and got this incredible, feeling of the Lord’s presence. It was so awesome nothing else in the whole world mattered, nothing. I read the Word for a while and I happened to look up, and there was a double rainbow, the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen. I started crying. I sat there and the sun started to go down and it was the most beautiful sight you have ever seen in your entire life. So, I said, “Lord thank you for the movie; thank you for the entertainment. Thank you for your presence.”

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It was a turning point for Bill. After that, Bill went camping alone in several places he and Barb had been. He even spent a three day weekend by himself. These were places he really loved, places where he could simply do a bit of hiking and enjoy the handiwork of God. During the second separation, he realized that his love for Barb had not diminished, and although he knew it was over, he continued to call and plead with her to talk, to reconsider. He didn’t just call her occasionally, it was constant. He couldn’t leave her alone even though he knew he was making her angry. Finally she got a restraining order, and when that didn’t work, she had Bill thrown in jail. Bill got the message, and although he loved Barb more than his own life he let go of her and turned to the Lord for his answers. To his surprise he found his first answer was that his priorities were backwards. Barb was first in his life and God was second. And though he was devastated, he agreed to reverse his priorities. Now, true to the character of God, All that Bill gave up has been restored to him. The life he lost has been given back more abundantly: in family, in friends, and in business, and prosperity. What was in his heart, his real prayer from the beginning was brought about, with the skill only available to those who trust.

Healing and Salvation – Lisa My husband and I began attending Calvary four years ago. We arrived here with a broken marriage and needed God’s help to put back together the pieces. In our strength, we had nothing but failure. We sought counseling to get God’s perspective on how our marriage out to be. Praise be to God for the counsel we received. Within a year, our marriage was back on track – not perfect – but healing and headed towards restoration. My husband was baptized and came to know Jesus as Savior and Lord of his life. As for me, I returned back to my first love, Jesus. I was also learning how to become the wife and mother that God was calling me to be. I quit my job, stayed at home with our three young children and made our house a home for my husband and children.

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We both became involved in serving through ushering and working in the nursery. As we served, we were being blessed with a new circle of close friends that we truly love. We have both grown in our walk with the Lord, with one another and in our responsibilities here at the church. Looking back, I would have never imagined that we would be where we are today. With God all things are possible. His work is the one that endures. Build your life on the Rock and when, not if, the hard times come, your house will not fall. I want to encourage you all if your marriage is failing or your life is not what you thought it would be, God is there AND He desires to have a personal relationship with you through the Lord, Jesus Christ. He desires to heal and restore all things that your joy may be full and your life lived more abundantly. We will have trials but be assured that He is sufficient to give you His grace and His strength to weather the storms.

Rebellious Son – Eugenio Cisneroz I started going to church with my family but somewhere along the way, I let go of my Father’s hand. I heard about Jesus but I never really knew Him. I was lost and started hanging around with the wrong crowd. That’s where the trouble started. I began skipping school to please my friends. I started stealing and talking back and cussing out my mom and dad. So, I got disciplinary action which in English means whoopens. But still I was rebellious. I don’t really know how many times but it was a lot. I ended up in jail for different crimes. I kept telling my mom and dad when I get out of jail I am going to change but I would try for a little while, maybe one week, then right back into the hole I would go. I could not do it by myself. I needed Jesus in my life. My dad gave his life to the Lord 13 years ago and I have seen the change in his life. I knew that he was a Christian. I hated Christians. I know now it was because I wasn’t one. I had to learn the hard way. The drugs kept me in darkness. My mom and dad never gave up on me. It was in jail that Jesus disciplined me. I don’t know exactly how He did it but I needed it. 34


I got on my knees and asked the Lord into my heart and asked Him to help me surrender to Him. Since then I have gone through some big storms but my Father said “Trust Me” and He brought me through them. When I got out of jail I told my dad “You’ll never guess what? Remember all those times when I told you I hated you Christians? Well, guess what? I’m a Christian. My Father gave me the most precious gift. Salvation!” Thank You for breaking the chains around me, Father. Arrogance - Cristian Olguin Proud and arrogant is the simplest way to say what I was. I was convinced of my own superiority. I believed not that I was necessarily smarter than everyone else was but that most everyone found it easier not to apply any cognitive skill to what they said or did. I had realized that at an early age. I felt that my skills and abilities were responsible for my quick rise in the company I work for. Needless to say, I was forever hesitant to share any credit with anyone, much less God, at any time. It was this attitude that made me responsible for that which followed. My life came crashing down. I thought because I went to church and occasionally read the Bible that I was a Christian. After all, I was raised in a good Christian home with Christian parents with firm godly values. I always had followed half-heartedly. I have had problems before and I had come to rely on myself. Yes, of course, sometimes I resorted to prayer but I always somehow felt I was just spinning my wheels. The reason behind this is that although I prayed it was different.

I had lost everything that mattered to me, my family. Brokenhearted and crying, I made an honest assessment. Now my

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prayer is different. I am very grateful to my Lord for even being concerned with an insignificant piece of dust, which I am. Best of all, that a wretched creature like myself could be considered God’s child is a true miracle. Now I have learned to put God first and trust that His will for me is what is best. Amen. My Healer – Linda C. Tardy I had a pea-sized bump on my right shoulder for three years. I saw it every day when I changed my clothes, but I never thought about going to the hospital to have it checked out. One day after Sunday service, I went home and was standing in front of the mirror, changing my clothes. As I pulled my sweater over my head, I noticed a lump on my right shoulder. “Oh, my gosh! What’s that?” I said. I rubbed it and pressed it to see if there was any pain. There was no pain. At that point I realized that the pea-sized bump had grown into a lump the size of a golf ball. I do not like hospitals, so I did not go to the hospital for one month. One night after a shower, I was drying off and noticed blood on the towel. Then I saw blood running down my arm. I looked into the mirror and saw that the lump had come to a head and was bleeding nonstop. I tried to remain calm and prayed without ceasing, calling on my Jehovah Rapha, my healer. I called my roommate. “What happened?” my roommate shouted. “It’s healing!” My roommate was a believer. “I will call the ambulance.” By the time the paramedics arrived, the lump had stopped bleeding. The paramedic asked me if I wanted to go to the hospital. I decided to go. The emergency room doctor wrapped the lump, 36


put some medicine on it to stop it from bleeding, and scheduled an appointment for me to see a surgeon the next day. “Good morning, Ms. Tardy,” the surgeon said. “How are you today?” “Blessed and highly favored!” I replied. “Praise God!” replied the doctor. He was a Christian doctor who had a strong relationship with Jesus. Look at God! The doctor looked at the lump as if there was no problem at all. “We are gonna get you all set up for surgery tomorrow and remove that lump. How’s that?” said the doctor. “What is the problem, Doc?” “Well, it’s called a ‘mass.’ We will take some samples just to make sure that it is not malignant.” The test came back later that day. “Pre-malignant.” Shortly before surgery, I was lying in a hospital bed in the hallway next to the surgery room. I began praying to the Lord. The doctor walked over to me and touched my arm. “Everything will be all right. I promise,” He said with a warm smile. I knew God was speaking through him and answering my prayer, giving me peace. The surgeons rolled me into the operating room, placed me on the operating table, strapped my arms down, and inserted a needle in my left arm. The next thing I knew, I was being removed from the operating room bed into a private room. “Oh, no! Where is my arm? Where is my arm! They cut off my arm!” I shouted. Drugged with medicine, I did not see my right arm. 37


The nurse said in a kind voice, “Honey, your arm is bandaged. It is not cut off. We had to raise your arm up to your shoulder because when surgery was performed, there was a major muscle near the mass. We want you to get well.” The bandages were so uncomfortable, but I endured them like a good soldier. Later that day two doctors entered my room to talk to me. They said, “It was a very large mass, but we have good news. We found out that the mass was benign.” “Praise God!” I replied. “He is my Jehovah Rapha, the Lord thy God that heals me. God is my Healer!” I raised one arm to praise Him!

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String of Hearts Miracle – Kate Lambert I had never witnessed a miracle before, but believed they could happen. Although I’m filled with joy and peace, for some reason I’m prone to periods of sadness. An incongruity, huh? Right after moving into the new building at Speedway and Camino Seco, I began to feel the familiar sadness. The feeling continued for three or four months. During that time it grew to the point that on my drive to church, I would weep. One Sunday morning, I began to weep at home. To try to get myself out of this, I went for a drive. I came back home and still had a couple of hours before church. Gazing out my window, asking God for peace, I noticed the plant on my entertainment center, a string of hearts, had grown. I was surprised not being known for my green thumb, but my brown thumb. Most of my friends call me ugly names such as cacti killer, marigold murderer, etc. I tell them when they gift me with a plant that they are accomplices, but they keep on trying, hoping they will be the one who gives me a plant I can’t kill.. What I noticed about my plant was the new growth; it had grown at least 24” since I had last looked at it. Staring in surprise, I saw several little buds. I first thought they were new leaves, but looking closer realized they were flower buds. I didn’t know that this particular plant flowered but there they were. I then became aware that the whole plant was covered in flowers! I wasn’t sure if my eyes had been blinded to the flowers until this particular moment or if the plant bloomed all at once although the flowers were in varying degrees of maturity.

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I was acutely aware that God was blessing me with this bouquet. I felt His arms surround me and knew He was smiling. I now know miracles exist as I had witnessed one. Cancelled Trip - Mary A friend and I had been planning a trip to the Washington DC-Baltimore area to pay a surprise visit to my stepmother for her 90th birthday in September. Outside circumstances made us cancel our plans. I now know why. The day that we would have been scheduled to fly back to Tucson was September 11, 2001. God, in His infinite wisdom, knew that we were not supposed to be in that area on that day. I thank the Lord and I will trust Him with my life. Addiction to Sin – David Williams The Lord has been working in my life to give me the strength to overcome an addiction to sin. My decision to follow God when I was eight has kept me from totally being overcome by this habit but the Lord has opened my eyes to the fact that my relationship with Him had become fractured and fruitless due to the sin in my life. I fooled myself into thinking that I was an upright person because I attended church and did good things for others. I became numb to my sin as I allowed it to gradually creep into my life. I would periodically read my Bible but not enough to have an impact in life. I would ask forgiveness for my sin but only to relieve my conscience of any guilty feelings. Eventually, my prayer life became non-existent. The Lord has recently convicted me of living a life full of lies. Either I need to live totally for Him or I should walk away because a life of riding the fence is shallow and meaningless.

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I now hunger for a deeper relationship with God. I am keeping short accounts with Him in regards to my thoughts and actions. My prayers are sincere and I enjoy studying His Word. Thank You, Lord, for Your mercy and for Your power. I am back where I began.

The Plans I Have for You - Mirna Barnes Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. "Oh God, what are you talking about?" My mind raced in confusion, how could this be? There I lay looking as if I'd been dropped on my head, and unkindly stitched up, with staples no less! Why me? Furthermore, that neurosurgeon wants to "open that same trap door" to reset the little clip on the wounded artery deep in my brain to prevent it from filling with blood and rupturing again! "What is going on? Where are your plans to prosper and not harm me? Where is my hope and future in all of this?" Several months after my 3 week hospital stay I had become increasingly depressed and took many, many months before I could admit that I was actually angry at God. (That saddens me now) I was so unsure of myself and especially of my Father. After I admitted my anger and confessed it to my Lord and to the women in my bible study group, the burden lifted and God's promise in Hebrews 13:5 Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you returned to me. I had initially clung to those words while I was in the hospital and I believed them. However, over time, I became vulnerable and the enemy attacked! Thankfully, here I am 2 years and 4 surgeries later thinking, writing, and knowing without question, without hesitation; God has prospered me in ways I could never have imagined. 41


I awake every morning to thank Him, for the breath of my life, for allowing me to cook my own breakfast, feed myself, and for all the things I am able to do, never mind those that I am no longer quite able to do; those are no longer important to me. I am so thankful that He and He alone brought me through the valley of the shadow of death. Psalm 23:4 My almighty God has given me vision; a whole new way to look at my life. I wasted 25 years in the rat race, not knowing how to appreciate the beauty of time alone with Him. Through this difficult trial as a Christian I have gained new understanding that I will not be spared of pain, or suffering, but I can be assured that God will see me through every tribulation til the very end. The Lord has indeed given me hope and a future through His perfect plan. Jesus is mine – Catherine Ismail The past belongs to Jesus. There are things from the past that I have wanted to keep, but they do not belong to me. What I have learned is that the past is an account of what Jesus has done. For me, it goes like this: I was lost. I believed that the world was a great cosmic accident and I was just one of many casualties. I did not know Who made me or why. However, Jesus knew me from the foundation of the earth. He knew then what He made me to be. Jesus pursued me and He went out ahead of me. He helped people tell me about Him. He knew I would recognize Him if I would only open my heart. He had been there when I was a child singing, “Jesus loves me, this I know.” As I grew up in the deceits of the world, I stopped being a little child in my heart and I no longer believed. 42


Jesus sent the Holy Spirit and worked in and around me to prepare my heart. Then, one day, He showed me the Father. He said, “Your Father in Heaven is real. He is the Creator. He and I are One.” At that moment, I saw Jesus for the first time as Lord and Savior. Even though I had not become what he had made me to be, He loved me still. He knew He could make up for lost time. He opened up His Word to me and said, “Talk to Me. I will answer you.” He showed me the Way and said, “Follow after Me and I will complete the work I have begun in you.” All that is mine from the past is Jesus. He is mine, now and forever. Cancer My Blessing – Loretta Converse Six years ago, my entire life changed. My doctor told me that I had breast cancer. I remember going through several emotions all at once. Cancer was something that other people got. The doctor must be wrong. The doctor was right. I went through surgery and four days later, I was back at work. But, I was a different person. My story starts back in 1977 when my husband left me and my daughter for a younger person. I had been living in El Paso and what family I had lived on the East Coast. I didn’t know what to do. My world had been turned inside out. I went back and forth from Texas to the East Coast for the next ten years thinking that a new place or a new job would make everything all right. I was running away from myself. I look back now and see that God had been working in my life all along telling me to stay put and stop running from coast to coast. The last time I ran to the family I hardly knew, to a place I didn’t want to be, nothing went right. I remember standing in the rain waiting for a bus and asking God “What do you want for me? I am so lonely and unhappy. I want to do what you want me to do.”

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I soon found myself in Tucson not knowing anyone and not having a job. Things started to work out but after a while that old feeling of restlessness came back. Then I was told of my cancer. I didn’t die. I knew it was God’s will for me. I am thankful for the cancer because it brought me closer to God and made me stay put. I have been in Tucson for 10 years now. I have bought a home, have some horses and dogs and if it hadn’t been for the cancer, might still be searching for myself. For me, cancer has been a blessing. It’s true that God allows us to have things happen that we may not like or want but He knows what we need to teach us. Now I have peace I never thought I would find and I am truly happy. I enjoy each and every day and I have no desire to ever run away again. Testimony of an Adulterous Woman I grew up with my alcoholic father after my parents divorced when I was eleven. I grew up not knowing any of the Bible stories, not even about the rainbow. I slept many nights on the steps of a nearby church, not because I knew God, but because I wanted to be away from home. I married young at age 18 to a service man. At a young age I was deceived into thinking that love and affection meant sex. Consequently, I had an affair. After ten years of marriage, I had committed adultery three times and began seeking the Lord’s forgiveness. I felt very strongly led to ask for my husband’s forgiveness as well. There was this overwhelming sense to be completely truthful. I did not receive my husband’s forgiveness and lost the marriage. However, our Heavenly Father has not only forgiven me, but given me salvation, given me hope, and began a sanctification process in me, by His grace. I mistakenly thought that other people would fulfill all my needs. He showed me that He truly is our all in all. He has made me a new creation and is affecting the generations to come in my family. When I went to be baptized in this newness of life, I pulled up to the same church I 44


used to sleep at as a youth. I now know what the rainbow symbolizes and what God intended marriage to be. I know what true love is and I wait upon the Lord alone. I am praying my husband will come to know the incredible love and peace that comes from being saved by Jesus Christ. Please join me in prayer for his salvation. Eternally Thankful – Jacquelyn Horness Approximately ten months ago, I began attending this church with my friend and her mother. I felt very much at home. About four months ago, it became even clearer to me what my faith in Jesus Christ has done for me. I became very ill and was diagnosed with a brain tumor. This was probably the scariest time of my life. The thought of leaving my four children without a mother was heartbreaking. I prayed with all my heart for God to take care of my family. After my surgery, I continued my prayer and was even visited in ICU by our “Resident Cowboy”. I have no doubt that Our Lord was there, guiding the surgeon’s hands and guarding my children. My husband is now attending Calvary with me along with my children. Every night at the table my youngest son thanks the Lord for “having his mother back from surgery.” My tumor was non-cancerous and my rehab has gone off without a hitch. For all these things I am eternally thankful My Testimony of God's Grace in my Life by Joseph W. Jesus entered into my life as he embraced me in his wonderful love 25 years ago. This awesome love instantly reoriented my thoughts and actions. Yet slowly over the next 45


several years I would allow fear to erase most traces of this new life. Eventually my disorientation in trying to measure up to others' expectations would lead to rejection, bitter resentments, depression and finally to alcoholism and atheism. After many years I again know the Loving God I first encountered. I was born into a very traditional Roman Catholic family and educated in Catholic schools. About all that I could grasp about God was that he was distant and angry at me for my many sins. Only in the season of Christmas could I feel good about God because an infant in swaddling clothes did not threaten me. The rest of religion was an obligation I had to perform in order to avoid punishment. I first encountered the love of Jesus at a Catholic Charismatic Prayer Group that I began attending during my first semester as student at Louisiana State University (LSU) in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. That particular prayer group was not at first very concerned with either Catholic theology or Protestant doctrine. In fact, the name of the group, the Community of God's Love, pretty much summed up all we were concerned with for the first 3 years of my "Born Again" Christian experience. I had many wonderful experiences of Jesus in those first 3 years as prayer, fellowship and praise became daily parts of my life. My "First Love" experiences had a profound change in my world view and how I treated others with the Faith, Hope and Love that I had found in manifested to me through Jesus. My Jerusalem Bible was alive with scriptures that ministered the life and joy of the Holy Spirit. Then in my 4th year all it started to come apart. I was not aware that slowly other seeds had been sown into our group. The group slowly began to adopt certain protestant beliefs concerning a god of wrath and anger. This new god, though I did not realize it at that time, was radically different from the one I had encountered. This "new" Jesus was not concerned with grace and mercy through 46


love. He preferred judgment and punishment and, most of all, FEAR. My Jerusalem bible was replaced with a jazzy Protestant version. I started becoming less loving and more fearful. I now had to prove myself acceptable to a god whose standard I could never obtain. Fear and doubt clouded my mind as never before. The more I tried to become a Protestant the worse I became and I began to secretly slip off and drink. Mentally I began to believe that I was "chock full of demons" and after much mental flagellation I would be forgiven and delivered so I would redouble my efforts to win the lost to my cause. I became driven to evangelize the world for a mad god who had no problem damning the entire world to an eternal prison more horrible than Hitler, Stalin or Mao could I ever image to imitate. I joined a branch of a small authoritarian charismatic church and then moved with them to join the main and large authoritarian church in Dallas, Texas. Among other curious beliefs, that church had taught me that the religious prohibition of alcohol practiced in many charismatic churches was religious and unspiritual. They encouraged their members to drink to prove how spiritual they were. I excelled at that type of spirituality and got drunk several times. Another curious practice was the belief in auricular confession to your home pastor. Three years later my pastor point blank told me that I was "a failure as a Christian" probably because I kept confessing my failings. I packed up my car and ran away. My alcoholism got a gigantic start after I left the church as I basically stayed drunk for 3 months waiting for god to kill me and toss me into hell. An old friend from the former God's Love prayer group came to me and encouraged me to move to Reserve, Louisiana (near New Orleans) and attend a church where most of our old group members had ended up. So in 1981 I found myself in another controlling charismatic church. But thankfully they did not believe in auricular confession and because they "publicly" preached prohibition I did get experience drunkenness for over 5 years. 47


However my depression deepened and my sense of dread continued to increase even though I was not drinking. And my anger multiplied. I became their boldest and loudest street preacher. Abortion clinics shook with my condemnations and I even ventured onto Bourbon Street. Somehow I learned to project my voice so effectively that I could out shout anything except a good megaphone. Again my preaching existed to placate my guilt over my supposed battles with demons. I came close several times to mental break down. I fasted one time for 10 days to prove my dedication to the cause. I was the true believer of all true believers, but I was still empty. In 1985 I returned to college to complete my bachelors degree. After that I had the notion that if I obtained a Masters degree in Library Science I would certainly have no trouble obtaining placement as a missionary. In truth it was just another geographic cure that I sought. I became the loudest hell-fire preacher on the LSU campus. I could and did out shout all the other self-styled campus preachers who all respected me for my boldness and "scriptural" knowledge. My ego was exalted yet I was still in daily mental torment because of the fear I felt towards god and my fear of every demon I could imagine, and I could imagine a lot of them being out to get me. I was going to graduate in May of 1986 with my bachelors degree so I started the process of applying to graduate school for Library Science. I was shocked and horrified when I discovered that LSU's graduate school was not very interested in my application. LSU would only offer me conditional admission and would not promise me student employment. I simply couldn't afford school on this basis. I was a well-respected Christian on the LSU campus (in my own mind) and I had a following of other students who recognized me as their witnessing leader! My apple cart was upset concerning my plans for LSU but then I was accepted by Library School at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. They offered me full

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admission and gave me student assistantship with a waver of outof-state fees. This meant moving to a city I knew nothing about. I moved to Hattiesburg in August of 1986. I tried attending a small Assembly of God church. They were a friendly group of glowing Christians but they were beneath my own charismatic prejudice because they were a small congregation who couldn't afford to fix the roof of their own church. I started attending another large and impressive charismatic church which after several months "disfellowshipped" my closest friend in that church. He was an extremely kind man who had started his own evangelistic organization but it was not "submitted" to their ministry. I followed my friend to another charismatic church but was not pleased with it either but I attended it until the end of my second semester. I had first encountered the philosophy known as Five Point Calvinism in my last semester at LSU . One of my classmates and my major professor were both committed Calvinists. After many struggles I eventually concluded that they were correct. Beginning with my 3rd semester in Library School I started attending a PCA Presbyterian Church. At about the same time I decided that it was OK to drink again. My flair for preaching diminished as my flair for drinking increased. I began to live a complete double life. Drinking with select library friends and going to church with other ones. Somehow I managed to keep the two sets of friends separate. I am sure now that both sets suspected me of two-faced behavior but at the time it did not occur to me that any of my "Christian" friends knew about my "Drinking" buddies or vise-versa. I managed to get so drunk during some of these bouts that I couldn't walk without falling down. I spent many mornings hung over from the night before. In spite of the frequency of my drinking I still managed to graduate in December of 1988 and that same month I accepted a position at the Georgia Tech Library in Atlanta, Georgia.

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I have few fond memories of Atlanta, Georgia however the progression of my alcoholism got much worse. I stopped going to bars and concentrated only on liquor stores. Over the course of the two and a half years I stopped paying most of my bills so I could drink more. At first I had a beautifully unfurnished apartment without any furniture because I spent the money on booze rather than furniture. I slept on an inflatable boat until I discovered a discarded mattress on the side of the road and dragged it home. I eventually moved into one of Atlanta's worst drug dominated neighborhoods because I could afford the low rent of a non-airconditioned apartment. Still I kept trying different churches looking for something to fix me. I first I attended Mt. Paran Church of God and kept drinking. Then I went to 1st Baptist Church of Atlanta and kept drinking. Then I went to an Evangelical Anglican Church and kept on drinking. At work I drank Brandy out of medicine bottles. Finally after two and a half years Georgia Tech decided not to renew my contract. It took me about 2 months to find another job in a public library in LaPlace, Louisiana . Again I was living near New Orleans and in the same Parish (Louisiana doesn't have counties) that I had lived in previously. Now my drinking escalated more. By this time I had become an atheist and had given up on religion. I even cursed a sunset to prove that it could not cause me to have a "worshipful feeling". I often drank until I passed out. I bought a 16 by 7 foot trailer for $600 that had no legal title, a leaky roof, a broken toilet, and smelled of sewer gas. Once my trailer became so jammed with beer cans I realized that I had a problem. The problem was the beer cans which I finally cleaned up after tripping over them for several weeks. My solution was to go out and buy my booze in bottles because I would throw them away more frequently. After several bad bouts of Delirium Tremens (DT's) and extensive problems with my vision (seeing multiple images) I ended up finally in Alcoholics Anonymous angry because my best friend had quit working. 50


I do not remember paying a lot of attention to those nice AA people for the first year. It took me that long to finally admit that I was an alcoholic! It took another year before I started to feel anything except anger and resentment. I resented going to meetings where persons I considered uneducated were suppose to be teaching me something about how to live. My vanity was such that I often went to meetings because I felt I could show them something but in reality I went because I feared being alone. Only AA had the courage to tell me to keep coming back. Everybody else had told me to stay away. Slowly, I was able to start approaching the notion of a God again even though I did not understand God. It seems that I had hundreds of mental prejudices towards any faith, even in a generic god. I had such pronounced and deep resentments towards any Christian version of a God that I instantly resorted to profanity to those who held such beliefs. One day my AA sponsor asked me to write down all the times in my past life where God had been positive towards me and where god had been negative towards me. My sponsor then told me to destroy the negative list because they were all lies and start believing that the God on the positive list was my God. What was on my list? First I felt safe remembering the notion of an infant God come to save mankind that I remembered from those crush scenes of my childhood. Next, I knew that the God I had first met at old God's Love Prayer Group loved me. He had never condemned me and in fact I had felt surrounded by His love and presence I had felt that love and experienced God's joy and peace those first 3 years of my Christian life. It took me a few more years to again identify Jesus as my "AA higher power" and as part of my understanding of God. This awareness of Jesus' love and care for me has continued to grow. By the grace of God through Jesus, I can say today that I

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am a Recovered Alcoholic who hasn't had a drink in almost 8 years. February 4, 2001 will be my 8th AA birthday. It may shock you to hear that I do believe in HELL because I've been there. It was not a hell of eternal torment but rather a hell of my own making because of the fear, the depression, and the resentment that I had embraced and then chased and drowned with alcohol. I experienced this temporal hell because I had let myself be lured away from my first love to follow "another Christ" other than the one who had so lovingly embraced me back in 1974. I still feel more safe inside the meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous than I do any Charismatic Church I've attended in the last year. My AA sponsor once said that "Fear is a corroding and evil thread" and there is no such thing as good fear because there is no such thing as a corroding and evil thing that was good for you." I have attempted to reconnect to the Church world not to join their Churches but to attempt to bring the message of Jesus to them. No, I haven't lead with my chin. In other words I haven't spoken of eternal matters with those I've started to meet with. I have focused rather on day to day living in Jesus. I have focused on sharing about the redemption rather than trying to get them to understand what I believe concerning the restoration of all things. AA taught me how to overcome resentments and fears and how to make restitution for the actual harm I did to others. AA has earned all of this from Christianity - the real version, that is. I have seen in these short 8 years more miracles of real conversion in AA than I ever witnessed in the church world. It is my hope and the focus of my faith that the Lord Jesus can use me as an instrument to share some of this with the church world and that I can share with my AA friends the love, joy, peace and happiness of who Jesus is. Today I know that the Community of God's Love is not just that old prayer group; that community is the Body of Christ.

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The Jesus I met 25 years ago did not change. He did not abandon me even when I chose to follow after false Christs and alcohol. Today I am a testimony of His redemption and like all those born again, not of the mind of man but the will of God, I am part of the first fruits of His Eternal Restoration of All Things — David H. Roper A friend told me recently of a young mother who was trying to explain her father’s death to her 4-year-old. The girl wondered where Grandpa was. “I’m sure he’s in heaven,” the mother answered, “because he was very good.” The girl replied sadly, “I guess I won’t be in heaven.” “Why not?” her mother asked in surprise. “’Cause I’m not very good.” The story saddened me, as I’m saddened when I hear of others who believe they must be very good to get into heaven, especially since we all know deep down in our hearts that we’re not very good at all. Perhaps like this little girl you’re thinking about your sins and asking, “What must I do to get to heaven?” The answer has already been given: Jesus, by His death, has paid in full the price of your sins, no matter how sordid, tawdry, or shameful they may be. Your salvation is free. God promises, “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isa. 1:18). John Donne writes: Or wash thee in Christ’s blood, which hath this might, That being red, it dyes red souls to white. No one is good enough to get into heaven. Eternal life is a gift. Receive Jesus by faith. — David H. Roper

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The perfect righteousness of Christ Is free to everyone, But we by faith must take that gift And trust God’s precious Son. —D. De Haan No one is good enough to save himself; no one is so bad that God cannot save him.

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Chapter 3 Poetry Don’t Quit By Unknown Author When things go wrong, as they sometimes will When the road you’re trudging seems all-uphill When the funds are low, and the debts are high And when you want to smile, but you have to sigh When care is pressing you down a bit Rest if you must, but don’t you quit Life is queer with it’s twists and turns As everyone of us sometimes learns And many a failure turns about When he might have won had he stuck it out Don’t give up though the pace seems slow You may succeed with another blow Success is failure turned inside out The silver tint of the clouds of doubt And you never can tell how close you are 55


So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit It’s when things seem worse That you must not quit.

Untitled By Penelope White Although things are not perfect because of trial or pain Continue in thanksgiving do not begin to blame Even when the times are hard fierce winds are bound to blow God is forever able hold on to what you know Imagine life without his love, joy would cease to be Keep thanking him for all the things love imparts to thee Move out of “Camp Complaining,” No weapon that is known on earth can yield the power Praise can do alone Quit looking at the future, redeem the time at hand Start everyday with worship, to “thank” is a command Until we see him coming victorious in the sky We’ll run the race with gratitude Exalting God most high 56


Yes, there will be good times and yes some will be bad, but Zion waits in glory….where none are ever sad.

God’s Plan (A Letter to the Princes of the Air) GOD allowed you to tempt the children of God God allowed you To raise them to your own liking To teach them a language Unfamiliar to their ears, and Twist their godly tongues GOD allowed you To erase 6,000 years of His Word From His children’s minds To create your own god In your own image GOD allowed you to enter their land Where mankind arose From the sand 57


Where the soil brought about their goals And the Pison, Gihon, Hiddekel, and Euphrates River flows Though the natural children may be mixed With your siblings’ spirit The Son’s spirit is stronger and buried In the veins Of the Children of GOD As surely as the wind blows GOD Almighty knows The land From whence His children arose

Thy sons and daughters of this land Have discovered GOD’S plan . . .

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Child of God You are a Child of God Marvelously made By God You are a Child of God Marvelously made By God Handcrafted from Head to toe Placed in a garden Where the Nile River flows You are a Child of God Marvelously made By God Divinely set up to lead Abraham’s seed Marvelously made By God Saved by the blood 59


Of the Lamb with a Christ-like mind Let your light so shine Fearfully, wonderfully, Marvelously Obviously, designed By God

Heavenly Bodies Celestial bodies Drifting from the firmament of heaven With a spiritual eye Floating about the sky Born of the heavens With divine beauty Peace and purity Heavenly bodies Thy virgins of the sky Comforting beings who Look up and wonder why 60


Heavenly bodies shining bright Standing in formation Ruling over day and night Dividing the light from darkness Heavenly bodies Travel the roads of heaven Destined for a purpose For signs, seasons, days, and years Giving light upon the earth Heavenly bodies Drifting from the firmament of heaven God’s creation, love, and beauty

And truth Only through the Word of God Can courage be found

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Trees I stand tall by the streams of water in the midst of the garden with my roots planted firmly in the breast of the earth, nurturing me, but my seed comes from far above, when it’s time for harvesting, I become the branch of the Vine, and the fruit that I bear is produced after its own kind

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Mother Oh! Virtuous mother of deeds Of berries, fruits, and beads Through you God planted a seed For your burdened need Through you God shines His light And gives you sight Kneeling down before thy Father Reaching toward the sky You held your hands up high He said unto you . . . I shall honor you With My grace and strength For you have surpassed Life’s struggles and Held your head up high Through world troubles Oh! Virtuous mother of deeds Through you God planted His seed For you will multiply 63


And surely touch the sky Through God your strength and faith Have kept your children safe Oh! Virtuous mother of deeds For God has blown Thy wind in your bosom Thy sun through your hair Thy stars in your eyes For you are chosen, and wise . . .

The Writer Born with the Spirit And strength of art in my blood And the Spirit will flow free As He guides my hand Floating about like a dove Dancing with the wind Flowing through my blood Like the winds From a tidal wave 64


Quiet! I hear the whisper Of the Spirit and Wind In my ear Persuading me Flow free Veins lingering for a purpose Perhaps! A drop of water The sound of quietness The mosquito that lies dormant On the wall Blowing horns, flashing lights Dark skies and night cries Quiet! I hear the whisper The cricket whistles a tune The funny face on the moon Quiet! I hear the whisper Seeping through timelessly muttering Expression! Talent! Passion! Purpose Envisioning serene places And smiling faces 65


Quiet! I hear the whisper Uttering, Imagine! Imagine! Creator! I am Yet not I Thy Spirit, who Whispers gently in my ear…

Be Still Whenever you call upon the Lord And you don’t hear from Him right away That’s okay God is telling you to Be still We don’t always feel the presence of the Lord Because God wants us to trust in Him It is not feelings that God is pleased with It is FAITH that pleases God So God is telling us to have FAITH and Be still 66


God is a spirit, not a physical being He will make intercession for our infirmities (weaknesses) All you need to do is trust in the Lord with all your heart, Lean not unto your own understanding He will direct your path So let God be God and Let all that you ask be according to His will, and just Be still

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Chapter 4 Articles Nick Vujicic: Designed with a Purpose By Linda C Tardy Every human being and thing was designed with a purpose in God’s mind. All people have been given an assignment by God to fulfill in this earthly realm. God says that before he formed you in the belly, he knew you, and had ordained you to be a prophet to the nations (Jeremiah 1:5) God already knew what you would look like when you were born. Nothing happens by coincidence. Nick Vujicic was born without arms and legs. His parents are Christians. His father is a Pastor. Imagine how both parents felt when the doctor told them that their child was born without arms and legs. The doctors gave no medical reason for Nick’s condition. Nick’s parents had a lot of questions for God. Both parents were angry with God for a while, they did not understand how God could do such a thing to a Pastor, or a family who were Christians and loved the Lord with all of their heart. For many years Nick struggled with the pain of his condition. He attempted to commit suicide, but could not do it. He struggled in school as a young boy. But after many struggles and challenges for both Nick and his parents, Nick’s mother spoke to his heart, “Nick, God is going to use you, I don’t know how, and I don’t know when.” Nick’s parents finally decided to trust in God’s plan for their child. Although Nick had no arms and legs, God had a plan and purpose for Nick’s life. God wanted to use Nick as his hands and feet to reach out to hurting people, to encourage people all over the world to never give up, no matter what your circumstance looks like.

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Because of many technological advances, the support of family and friends, Nick is using every passion, talent and gift God has given him. He does everything the average normal person with arms and legs can do. Nick now has a wheelchair made specifically for a person without arms and legs. He swims, surfs, plays golf, listens to music, prepares his own breakfast, lunch and dinner, go’s for a walk, travels abroad and a whole host of daily activities. Also Nick is a motivational speaker; he is an extraordinary, amazing man of God. Today Nick speaks to millions of people all over the world. Nick is the President of an International Non profit organization called, “Life Without Limbs.” He is truly an inspiration to other children and adults who are handicapped, and have similar circumstances. Nick Vujicic has brought tears to the eyes of many young people who were contemplating giving up and committing suicide. He has given hope to the hopeless.

Nick inspires many by telling his story all around the world, and letting them know that he found his hope in Jesus Christ. Nick Vujicic has made a difference in the lives of others, and has saved the lives of many by bringing the lost to Christ. He is a true leader and inspiration in his community and abroad. Nick is marvelously, obviously designed by God for a purpose.

Christian Superstar Athletes By Jorge Chavez

Are you a Christian that love sports? Well, whether you’re a boxing fan, football fan or basketball fan, God has you covered! In a world where people ignorantly and wrongfully idolize celebrities, it’s great to finally see good, God fearing Christian athletes who use the spotlight and their influence to shift the focus back to where it belongs; on God. In many ways, Christian athletes along with other Christian celebrities have become God’s new preachers.

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While Christian celebrities in the spotlight don’t teach doctrine, they do more than their fair share when they constantly talk about and glorify God in and to the media. By glorifying God, these Christians are bringing attention to the fact that there is indeed a true and living God who is making all of their successes possible. Time and time again and interview after interview, Christian athletes such as Andre Ward, Tim Tebow and Jeremy Lin are all “preaching” and giving praise, honor and glory to whom it rightfully belongs; Jesus Christ. Advertisement While each one of the aforementioned athletes solely attributes their continued successes to their God given natural abilities and blessings from their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, let us all keep in mind that the blessings from God that all of these men share, did not come as a result of them sitting on their sofa waiting for God to go to work in their lives. The mark of a good and faithful Christian is the ability to continue to trust and believe in God despite the arrival of trials, hardships, temptations and persecutions. If through all of the faith testing events in your life you continue to show God that your faith will not waiver, God will continually bless you beyond your wildest imaginations. Please don’t take my word for it, let's just take a look at the proof which God has shown us in the lives of his followers Andre Ward, Tim Tebow and Jeremy Lin. Undefeated WBC, WBA and Ring Magazine’s Super Middleweight Boxing Champion of the World Andre “Son of God” Ward is living proof of what God can do for his faithful children. While Ward’s accolades as a professional boxer are phenomenal and were recently celebrated by ESPN when they named Ward as Fighter of the Year for 2011, Ward would be the first one to tell you that his successes come as no surprise to him because he knows how wonderful and powerful his God is. 70


Nevertheless, what is even more amazing is Ward’s long list of successes he accumulated throughout the years on his climb to the top. As an amateur boxer, Ward was the Under 19 National Boxing Champion, Two Time Amateur National Boxing Champion and he was awarded the Olympic Gold Medal at the 2004 Summer Olympics. While Ward is unarguably a blessed man, the fact that he achieved all of this success before he hit the main stage is proof of all of the blessings God bestows on his children as long as they put in the necessary work to allow him to make them shine. Let us now take a look at current starting NFL QB Tim Tebow who led this year’s AFC Divisional Wild Card winning Denver Broncos. While many people are familiar with Tebow’s background and story, not everyone is fully aware of all of his accumulated accolades. Tebow’s credentials begin in high school where he lead his high school football team to win the state championship. Tebow was also named Florida State’s Player of the Year, he was a High School All-American and he was named Florida’s Mr. Football. In college, Tebow managed to accumulate and now owns 5 NCAA records, 14 Southeastern Conference records, 28 University of Florida records, a Heisman Trophy, All-American Honors and he’s a two time BCS National Championship winner. Amazingly, despite all of this success, Tebow continually shy’s away from taking all of the credit for his success and he makes sure that his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ receives all of the glory. Last but not least we have the young budding star Jeremy Lin, who is the current starting point guard for the New York Knicks. While Lin’s instant fame rides only a two week stint of worldwide attention grabbing publicity and praise, Lin’s story of success also dates back many years. Lin led his California High School basketball team to win the state championship in his senior year. Lin then went on to attend 71


Harvard University from which he graduated in 2010 and he earned All-Ivy League First Team Honors in his senior year. Lin’s list of successes is a lot shorter than Ward’s or Tebow’s but that can be largely attributed to the fact that he has only had the spotlight for two weeks and he has refused all interviews except for the one that allowed him to speak only of his Christian faith. No matter how anyone looks at it, the fact of the matter remains that all of these men are truly blessed by God. To make matters even better, not only do these men realize they are blessed but they make sure the entire world knows it. However, the point I wish to impart to my audience is that the blessings that are bestowed by God upon us also require our preparation. While God can undoubtedly make you an overnight success if he chooses to, based on the three prior examples, we have proof that God not only works in our lives at a very early age but that while we place our faith, trust, prayers and hopes in God, we must at the same time prepare for His blessings and miracles. I think this lesson is best demonstrated by a dialogue from one of my favorite Christian movies named “Facing the Giants” which stated it this way; “I heard a story about two farmers who desperately needed rain and both of them prayed for rain but only one of them went out and prepared his fields to receive it. Which one do you think trusted in God to send the rain?....Which one are you?...God will send the rain when He’s ready. You just need to prepare your field to receive it.” We must never forget that God’s goodness, blessings and miracles await those who exhaust and maximize the talents God has already blessed them with. Jesus Christ himself taught us that unto him who has, more will be given. “And out of them shall proceed thanksgiving and the voice of them that make merry: and I will multiply them, and they shall not be 72


few; I will also glorify them, and they shall not be small.” – Jeremiah 30:19 KJV

Fighting back against the growing problem of “Sex Trafficking” By Lisa Folch Girls and boys as young as twelve are stolen, coerced or tricked into a lifestyle that feeds the dark side of society. Sex trafficking is a billion dollar booming industry. The statistics are alarming, but there is a growing coalition of forces determined to fight the burgeoning evil. It’s a global issue, yet the reality is right under foot in our own backyard. All the stories are heartbreaking, each with the same thread of deception. Take Shauna Newell’s story. This Florida girl was in high school a few years ago when a new ‘friend’ asked her for a sleepover. The man posing as her friend’s ‘dad’ took them to a house where Newell was drugged, raped and sold to a man in Texas. She was rescued before the delivery. Other stories detail both girls and boys who think they’ve signed up for a better life … maybe the perfect modeling job … only to discover hell on earth. Runaways are a target, as well as naive youth enticed by an Internet personality or advertisement. Eighty percent of sexual slaves are under the age of twenty-four. Some are just babies. There is an estimated 300,000 children at risk of being trafficked for sex. The FBI explains the horror of it all: "Today, the business of human sex trafficking is much more organized and violent. These women and young girls are sold to traffickers, locked up in rooms or brothels for weeks or months, drugged, terrorized, and raped repeatedly. These continual abuses make it easier for the traffickers to control their victims. The captives are so afraid and intimidated that they rarely speak out against their traffickers, even when faced with an opportunity to escape." Just this week a Tampa man was arrested for soliciting sex with a 16-year old girl. A 24-year old girl admitted to being scared to escape after this man punched her. Forty-seven women made their Freedom Climb to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro last month in order to raise awareness, funds and prayer to fight sex trafficking as well as other injustice. Operation Mobilization (OM), a mission agency, founded the climb. In an OM

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article, Holly Harris, one of the climbers, gave her perspective. "I thought about the women involved in sexual slavery—the worst time for them is night. And the worst part of the climb was the summit; I just wanted to get through the night," remembers Holly. "When light broke through and I could see what was left of the summit, it was phenomenal." Climbing the highest mountain isn’t for everyone, but there is a plethora of ways to get involved in fighting this travesty. "Break These Chains," the fourth annual Human Trafficking Awareness Day was held recently in Orlando. Florida Abolitionist came together with Florida Coalition Against Human Trafficking and the Orlando Rescue and Restore Coalition to bring awareness and reach out to victims. A survivor shared her story and crowds gathered to support this cause. Politicians are fighting for more stringent human trafficking laws. Attorney General Pam Bondi along with Sen. Anitere Flores, RMiami, and Rep. William Snyder, R-Stuart are pushing tougher trafficking penalties. Senator Marco Rubio is determined to bring awareness to human trafficking. This advocate is a co-sponsor of the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act. "I encourage others to join this fight and this worthy humanitarian cause. The first step in combating this crime is awareness, and I urge my fellow Floridians to learn more about human trafficking and what can be done to stop it," he stated. This Act protects illegal immigrants against deportation if they have been forced into human trafficking crimes, like prostitution, so those perpetrating the crimes can be prosecuted. Even celebrities are bringing awareness to sex trafficking in their own unique way. Ashton Kutcher, star of Two and a Half Men, turned 34 on February 7. As a birthday gift, he asked that people donate to the DNA Foundation which fights child exploitation. In fact, he will match every gift dollar to dollar up to $350,000. As of this date, $29,122.99 has been raised. Sex trafficking is an industry born of greed and empowered by organized crime. A 2003 study in the Netherlands found that a single sex slave earned her pimp at least $250,000 a year. A human trafficker has the potential to earn twenty times the original purchase price for a girl, especially if he "trained her and broken her spirit, which saves future buyers the hassle," notes Random Facts website. While the facts are alarming, there is a growing contingent of citizens,

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agencies, politicians and celebrities who are fighting back. According to Rubio and many others, it's the right thing to do. "Florida is particularly impacted by this atrocious practice of modern day slavery, as traffickers prey on the large number of teenage runaways here. We must continue doing everything we can to raise public awareness of a problem that is right under our noses, and also enact public policies to support law enforcement, better coordinate their efforts at all levels, assist victims and combat this horrendous crime at home and abroad." ~ Marco Rubio

Same Sex Marriages: Sin or Not a Sin By Linda C Tardy Although the Washington State Senate, along with the Governor of Maryland, Martin O’Malley approves gay marriage; there’s a new coalition called the Maryland Marriage Alliance, consisting of faith leaders who came together this year to combat the marriage bill (same sex marriages). Man made in God’s image Let us examine what God’s thoughts are about same sex marriages. The Bible says, (Genesis 1:27) “So God created man in his own image; in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. Since God has no physical body, and no man has ever seen the face of God, what did God mean by “Image of God?” We are a reflection of God’s glory. In other words, we share many of God’s characteristics, such as love, patience, faithfulness, kindness, forgiveness, humility, loyalty, humbleness, meekness and self control. In the image of God is not based on physical appearance, yet spiritual attributes called, (Galatians 5:21) “Fruit of the Spirit.” God is a Spirit and he has given us the ability to be like him. God made both man and woman in his image. Marriage is God’s idea. God proved this in his word (Genesis 2:18) “The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone,” 75


“I will make a helper suitable for him.” In other words, after God made a man from the dust of the earth, his work was not complete until he made a woman for the man. However, the woman did not come from the dust of the earth; she came from the man’s flesh and bone. The Bible says, (Genesis 2:21-23) “So the Lord God cause the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs; and closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, “This is now bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called, “Woman,” for she was taken out of man.

Procreation Same sex marriages are not capable of procreating. God says, (Genesis 1:28) “Be fruitful and multiply. What does this mean? Procreate means to reproduce or multiply. A man’s body is not made to bear children. A woman’s body was designed by God to bear children. However, two men and two women cannot produce children. Same sex marriages were not designed by God, yet this is a rebellious decision by sinful man to defy God’s truth by redefining God’s marriage covenant between man and woman. Marriage Covenant between one man and one women A Covenant is an agreement that involves promises and commitments. In Jeremiah 31:31-32 God speaks about a relationship between himself and his people. He describes himself as the “Husband.” God views marriage as a Covenant relationship. In the New Testament the relationship between Christ and the Church is described by the covenant relationship between the husband and the wife, one man and one woman. The Bible says, (Ephesians 5:22-24) “Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives 76


should submit to their husbands in everything. God was not only establishing a covenant between man and woman, but he was also giving an example of order, harmony, and respect in the family. Marriage has been established by God, and setup to be a holy union before God. God is disappointed with those who break his marriage covenant (Malachi 2:14-16) “You ask, “Why? “ It is because the Lord is acting as the witness between you and the wife of your youth, because you have broken faith with her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant. Has not the Lord made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? Because he was seeking godly offspring. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth. “I hate divorce,” says the Lord God of Israel,” and I hate man covering himself with violence, as well as with his garment, says the Lord Almighty. So guard yourself in your spirit and do not break faith. Guard yourself in spirit and do not break faith means, to have the same commitment to marriage that God has to his promises with his people. Sinfulness of Humanity – God’s Wrath against Mankind The Bible says, (Malachi 1:18) “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness. Same sex marriages (Homosexuality) is in fact a sin. What is Homosexuality? (To exchange or abandon natural relations of sex) Why does homosexuality exist today? The Bible says that man exchanged God’s truth for a lie, and men abandoned natural relations with women, and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion (Malachi 1: 26-27) even woman exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones, and has chosen to worship created things rather than the Creator.” Because of this God gave them over to shameful lust, and a depraved mind. 77


“Because of mans stubbornness and unrepentant heart, he is storing up God’s wrath against himself.” The penalty for sin is death. For those who seek to do evil, and reject God’s truth there will be trouble and distress. But for those who do good and seek the truth of God shall be given eternal life.

IN CONCLUSION I appose same sex marriages because it is unnatural, a sin, and not of God. God's ideal plan for his creation is a holy union between man and woman with natural sexual relationships. Sin is an abomination in the sight of God; and the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life (Romans 6:23) What therefore God has joined together let no man separate (Matthew 9:6) But remember, God will forgive sexual sin, just as he forgives any other sin. Ask God to show you the way out of sin, and into his glorious light and freedom of his love. Surrender yourself to his grace and mercy. Repent, and turn from your wicked ways. If you confess your sins, God is faithful and just to forgive you of your sins, and cleanse you of all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9) simply by repeating these words; you can change your life: I (say your name) confess that Jesus is Lord; I believe in my heart that God raised him from the dead, now I am saved. Now you should find support in a good word church, attend bible study, and seek help from a pastor or counselor

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The Calling of Amy Winehouse By Linda C Tardy

British singer Amy Jade Winehouse was born September 14, 1983, to Jewish parents, Janis Winehouse, Pharmacists, and Mitch Winehouse, Cab driver. Amy grew up in Southgate, North London. Amy was loved by all her family, fans and friends, who had nothing but good words to speak about her. Amy’s talent and gifts were discovered in her at the age of 12. According to the Daily Telegraph, Amy’s parents recognized her talent and sent her to the Sylvia Young Theatre School. But Amy’s mother removed Amy from school because she had been experiencing “Attitude problems.” Amy became very upset with her mother for moving her from school. According to the Daily Telegraph, Amy ended up at the Brit Performing Arts School in Croydon. While in America, at the age of 13 Amy’s family members realized her singing ability. Amy began writing songs and singing with Jazz bands, and the National Youth Jazz Orchestra. By the time Amy was 17 years old Amy had her first contract with Island Records. In 2004-2006 Amy received a Songwriting award for best contemporary song for her single, “Stronger than Me,” and in 2006 Amy released her best selling album in the UK, “Back to Black,” selling about 1.85 million copies. October 27, 2007 Amy sings with her deep beautiful Contralto voice with falsetto notes, the song, “To Know Him is to Love Him,” originally written by Phil Spector, it was recorded by his first vocal group, the “Teddy Bears,” in 1958. Phil Spector got the words of the song from his father’s tombstone. Amy sung the song for a friend whose husband died. In 2008 Amy entered “Rehab,” she had been addicted to drugs and alcohol. In June 2009 on Twitter, Amy Jade Winehousestated, “God has given this voice to me and I am going to try to reach out to people, I have learned it is not all about me.” During an interview with Diane Sawyer, Amy spoke of inspiring young people to follow their dreams. In June 2010 Amy reenters Rehab.

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On July 23, 2011 Amy Jade Winehouse died. Well, Amy was right. It is not all about us. Did Amy Winehouse know Jesus? What about you, do you know Jesus? You see, at just the right time, when we were still sinners, Christ died for us. So we know and rely on the love God has for us. Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments (John 14:15NIV) When we do not live our lives for Christ, his heart weeps. God has understanding about human emotion, and he loves us with passion. If we want to worship God more, then we must learn more about him. For God so loved the world, and gave his one and only son, whosoever believes in him, shall not perish, but have eternal life (John 3:16NIV) God tells us that if any one is in Christ, he is a new creature, old things have passed away, and behold, all things have become new (2 Corinthian 5:17KJV) Just as a new born baby depends on the parents for nurturing and guidance, we depend on our heavenly father to teach us how to live our lives for him, and in him. When we lack a relationship with our heavenly father we fall prey to the tricks and schemes of satan, and eventually return to sin, drugs, alcohol and the pleasures of this world. But know that your body is the temple of God, and you belong to God, not to satan. When you know who you are in Christ, you become stronger in Him. Many of us are gifted and talented, full of creativity and waiting to expose our talents to the world. But we must first understand that our sense of self-worth is not based on what we do, but based on knowing our identity in Christ. A healthy self image is one who understands who he is as a child of God. Our character is built upon the fruit of the Spirit, which is love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, faithfulness, meekness, humbleness, loyalty, goodness, kindness, and self control. A house cannot be built without a foundation, otherwise the house will fall. Our foundation is Jesus Christ. When we have matured in all of the fruit of the Spirit, we can then allow God to use all of our gifts and talents to glorify him, and be a blessing to others. Unfortunately, many people go to the grave with their talents locked inside of them, never realizing why God created them. Rest assured that

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God created you to be a blessing to others, and let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father in heaven. You don’t want to leave this earth without accomplishing what God has purposed in you before the world began. The Holy Spirit is calling us to know him in a deeper way and as Amy Winehouse said, "To Know Him is to Love Him.

Selflessness or Escape By Lucia Sweetland What happens when we have desires that are out of touch with what God wills for us, that are off-balance and unwholesome? This has happened to all of us. We are all inundated with enticements to temporarily lift ourselves up, numb our pain or escape from our lives by indulging in sensual pleasures which all too often and all too quickly become addictions. Some all-too-common addictions are: food: eating too much food: specific foods, like sugar, chocolate or coffee sex: casual sex/masturbation/erotica media: television/video game illegal drugs: marijuana, cocaine, heroin, etc alcohol rock music gambling other people: co-dependent relationships What is the pain all about that we are trying to numb or escape from? What is so painful about living that we get trapped in these futile and endless up-and-down cycles of desperate attempts to self-medicate, self-comfort and escape? Recently, the popular singer, Whitney Houston, died at age 48. Although she seemed to have everything going for her – a superb singing voice, outer beauty and charm, loving family, as well as money, fame and popularity, she was known to struggle with addictions to drugs and alcohol; she seemed to be trying to fill a hole within. How can one who appeared to have everything, feel so lacking and desperate as to succumb to addiction? For some of us it is clear; those who are desperately entangled in addiction do not have God, that is, they do not have a connection or a

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communion with God, and they have not come to the point where they want God more than they want to run away from their pain. Advertisement

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.This is the first and great commandment.” Matthew 22:37,38 What most religions teach is putting our desire for God above all other desires. What this actually means is our desire to Be God. When we give in to temptations to satisfy this or that lower desire, which means a non-spiritual desire - a desire that is of the body or driven by negative emotions or thoughts, we are not being like God, for God is Self-fulfilled. What this means is that God is the fulfillment of all legitimate desires of our hearts. This is so because the desires of our hearts have to do with expressing who we are in God, such as giving love and compassion, creating beauty and order, bringing truth, and supporting others in their spiritual growth. If we take a good look at these kinds of desires (giving, creating, bringing, supporting), we can see that they are selfless; they don’t really have anything to do with getting anything for ourselves, puffing ourselves up, or filling a hole within. They really have to do with selfless service to others. How do we become selfless? It is through being willing to sacrifice, which is voluntarily giving up a personal pleasure, comfort or preference, and in its place putting service to others. To the mind this might seem insane, but to our hearts, it is a blessed and beautiful experience. Perhaps you are very hungry and feel called to give your food to another who suffers more from hunger, or very cold and feel called to lend you coat to another who suffers more from the cold. You feel a rush of compassion, but you also feel your own hunger pangs or coldness, as well as fear. You hesitate, in an agony of indecision. Your heart wants to give and trust, your mind and your fear say take care of yourself. “Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.” Matthew 25:45 Our inner struggle with what to do is part of the test. If it were an easy decision in which we really didn’t have to give up much, or anything important to us, it would not really be a test. But a test of sacrifice is a

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test of whether or not we will give up what would serve us in a lower sense to serve someone else in a higher sense. For as you give of your blessings to another, you are offering much more than mere physical food and comfort; you are offering her manna from heaven in the form of witnessing and experiencing God’s love and compassion and care in action through you. As you leave your self-concerned state and enter the state of concern for another, as you briefly interact with the other person, seeing their spiritual identity and holding that as real, you are seeing and serving the Christ in them; they are being blessed. And so are you. Yet it is only after we have made the decision to sacrifice – to give selflessly, that we realize that the rewards are far from nil; they are great. Beyond the reward of simply knowing that we have performed an act of love or seeing the gratitude in another’s eyes, our heart expands and we feel that we are bursting with love and joy and gratitude; in being selfless, we have discovered our Selves. We have experienced being like God, and nothing on earth holds a candle to this. As Saint Francis* said, “It is in giving that we receive; it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.” Dear God, Help me to put You first in my life; Help me to overcome all selfishness And the Self-destruction of addiction. I love You more. Amen

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The Glory of Vision and Dreams By Linda C Tardy Do you have dreams and visions? Do you have a gift or talent? And you’re not sure what to do or which direction to take your vision. Many of us have dreams and visions, but not many of us understand where dreams and visions come from, so we end up misdirected and not knowing what to do with our lives. When we don’t know where our dreams come from, we start to believe in ourselves and look for recognition from the world. But if the world doesn’t like what we offer, we become disappointed and fearful, and our dreams and visions die within us. Be encouraged and of good cheer! There’s a much higher source than us. He is the Creator of the universe. The One who created you: fearfully, wonderfully, and marvelously made you in His image. You are the apple of His eye, created, handcrafted from head to toe, placed in the garden where the Nile River flows. He is the Potter, and you are the clay. God designed you to do wonderful things in the earth. He placed every dream, vision, gift, and talent within you Himself. You are His precious treasure. Your gifts and talents were placed within you to bring God glory in the earth! You are a king of the KING. The Bible says in 1 Peter 2:9 that you are “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” You are placed in God’s Kingdom on the earth to do the work God has ordained for you to do. The Bible says in Ephesians 2:10, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” You are to use your gifts and talents in your schools and homes, on your jobs, and wherever God has ordained you to use them. Now I have heard people say, “I don’t have any talent.” That 84


is impossible! Every living creature on earth was created with a purpose in God’s mind. That purpose must be performed in God’s timing and in the right season. The Bible says in Ecclesiastes 3:1, “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” You have already been given the power to exercise your God-given creativity in this earthly realm. Whether you are an author, actor, singer, dancer, or carpenter, God’s glory is revealed every time you display your gifts and talents. Every gift and talent within you is for the glory of God, and it shall be manifested in this earthly realm in God’s timing. You shall do great works. Jesus said in John 14:12, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto My Father.” Jesus promised that a higher power than ourselves will come and teach us all things: “But the Counselor, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in My name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you” (John 14:26). Ask the Lord what He would have you do every morning when you arise, and He will tell you. Jesus said in John 14:14, “If ye shall ask any thing in My name, I will do it.” Every time we walk into a library or a bookstore, we are surrounded by glory. The bookshelves are filled with it. Will your glory ever be on display for others to enjoy? —Dr. Myles Munroe

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Chapter 5 Book Excerpts Book: The True Measure of a Man: by Richard E. Simmons, III What will they think of me? I have lived most of my life around men who are affluent and have experienced varying degrees of business success. These last nine years, as director of the Center for Executive Leadership, I have occupied the position of teacher, coach, and counselor to many of them. In the process of doing my job, they have confirmed a truth that I knew deep down to be true—an essential part of the mystique of business success is to present a corporate happy face by projecting an image of strength and competence to the outside world. As a result, many men feel a huge pressure to maintain the image that they are bulletproof, that they can handle any problem, any struggle, at any and all times. However, I have discovered that in any man’s life, true success cannot be sustained over any extended period of time by denying the existence of internal struggles. Deeply personal issues such as identity, fear, discontentment, and depression are issues all men must deal with at some time in their lives, but generally they are at a loss as to what they should do about them.

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A Daily Question What will people think about me? I believe that all men daily ask themselves this same question in one form or another—when they are buying a new car, moving into a certain neighborhood, joining a particular country club, or choosing those with whom they will socialize. What we are really asking ourselves is, What do people think of me as a man? Do I measure up in their eyes as they see the choices I am making? For in today’s world, life for us as men is all about what we do and how successful we are at what we do. Performance envy Our culture has an obsession with performance giving us affirmation as men. In the midst of challenging times, we all have, to some degree or other, allowed ourselves to be seduced into a fog of mixed emotions. This is when we are most likely to get personal achievement confused with our value and worth as men. When we equate our worth as human beings with our individual performances, we put our identities at grave risk. Any type of perceived failure from the perspective of an ego built on such a shaky foundation can easily lead us to conclude that our lives are not worth very much. The person you can become What would happen if we let the person who determines our worth be God? Recognizing that God is the supreme and ultimate reality who stands behind all of life is crucial for all of us. Scripture is clear about this truth. We are told in Psalm 139:16: All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be (author paraphrase). In Ephesians 2:10 we learn:

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We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them (author paraphrase). Your worth as a person has to do with your value. Your value is not based on what you do but on who made you. God is telling us that He is the One who gave us our existence, our very being. We are here for a reason, for a purpose. God has a plan for our lives—a plan that is full of meaning and purpose. www.thetruemeasureofaman.com

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Chapter Six

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AFTER THE STORM WRITTEN BY WARREN SAGER SCRIPT A: The scene begins with a couple sitting in a boat and acting as though they had just been through a storm that is now calm. HE Are you okay? SHE I guess so. Wow...that was quite a storm! I was getting kind of worried. HE Yeah, me too. Pretty scary, wasn’t it? SHE You seemed so “in control”, though! You really handled the boat well, I thought! HE I didn’t want you to be more upset than you already were. I tried to be confident and stay calm. SHE Well, it worked. I never for a minute doubted your ability. You’re right, if I thought you were not in control of the situation, I would have been far more frightened. HE There is just only so much you can do. I put all my boating skills to work and tried hard to keep the boat afloat and just survive that thing. But it could have really done us harm. The last thing you want is a capsized boat out on the lake in the middle of a storm. SHE That storm came up so fast, too! It didn’t look that bad when we started out. HE I’m surprised there’s not more water in here. It was sure splashing in. SHE 90


Let’s head back in, okay? Just in case another storm comes through, and it’s worse than the last one. HE Even if it wasn’t worse than that one...I don’t want to deal with it anymore. I’ve had enough boating for one day! SHE I’m with you there! We were really lucky this time. We could have ended up a lot worse! We could have drowned! HE I know. Why do you suppose we survived it? SHE What do you mean? HE You know...the reason behind it. SHE What...are you getting all spiritual now? Trying to make something of this? HE Why not? Don’t you think everything happens for a reason? SHE I guess I think that sometimes...but then sometimes I just think it’s part of life. HE Well, of course it’s part of life...but life teaches us things. God teaches us things by bringing situations into our lives that we have to deal with. SHE Like a storm that hits while you are on the lake boating. HE Exactly. SHE I don’t know. I think you might be making too much of this. HE But think about it. Like you said, we could have drowned! But we didn’t. Why do you suppose our lives were spared? SHE What is this? Are you having some kind of epiphany? 91


HE I don’t know. What’s that? SHE That you think we were saved from drowning so that you could go out and do something great in the world! HE Like what? SHE I don’t know! You’re the one having the epiphany! HE Stop saying that! I’m not having an epiff... epiff.. whatever you said! SHE Well, that’s a relief! I thought the next thing out of your mouth was going to be that we should become missionaries and go to Africa! HE Now you are just making fun of me. I only wanted to talk about what we are learning from what just happened. SHE Let’s see...we learned that you can handle a boat pretty well in a storm, or at least fake it so that I think you know what you’re doing... and we learned that we should check out the weather a little more closely before we take a boat out on the lake in the first place...and... HE That’s not what I mean. Let’s just forget it. SHE What was that? HE What? SHE I heard something hit the boat? Look! There’s a box floating in the water! Get it. HE Get it? We don’t know what’s in there! SHE I know...that’s why I want you to get it, so we can find out what’s 92


in there! HE It could be anything! Do we really want to know? What if it is somebody’s head or something? SHE Oh...you’ve been watching too much CSI! Come on...lets grab it before it floats by! They bring a box into the boat from behind the boat...it is all waterlogged. SHE Maybe this will be your epiphany! HE Stop saying that word! I don’t think you are even using it right! SHE Hurry up and open it! He opens the box and begins to pull out things. The first thing is a shoe. HE One shoe. A can of spam....well, at least we won’t starve. Look! A box of crayons! And a Commander Bugsmasher coloring book! Four ticket stubs from the movie theater... SHE What movie? HE Oh...these two are “Planet 9 from Outer Space.” Hey...these might be worth something! SHE I never heard of it! HE Oh...it’s only the worst movie ever made. It’s a classic. SHE Way before my time. And the other two? HE Eeek. The Poseidon Adventure. SHE Very funny. (He shows her) What else is in there? HE 93


This. SHE What’s that? HE It’s an 8-track. Don’t tell me you don’t know what that is! SHE Who’s the artist? HE Englebert Humperdink sings gospel! Hey...speaking of gospel, look at this. A Bible. SHE Wow! Your kidding! Look, it has a bookmark in it. Open it up. HE There is a passage highlighted. It’s Mark 4:35. SHE Well, what are you waiting for? Read it! HE (He reads) On that day, when evening came, He said to them, "Let us go over to the other side." Leaving the crowd, they took Him along with them in the boat, just as He was; and other boats were with Him. And there arose a fierce gale of wind, and the waves were breaking over the boat so much that the boat was already filling up. Jesus Himself was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke Him and said to Him, "Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?" And He got up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, "Hush, be still." And the wind died down and it became perfectly calm. And He said to them, "Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?" They became very much afraid and said to one another, "Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?" SHE Now that’s a little freaky! We survive a storm and we find a box floating in the water with a Bible that is marked with the passage of Jesus calming the storm! 94


HE Yeah. Pretty weird. SHE Okay, so maybe God is trying to tell us something. Maybe He saved us for a reason. I’m not saying it’s time to become missionaries, but it is something to think about. HE So, now you are going to consider what I said. SHE Well, when you think about the fact that we could have drowned. God didn’t want us to drown. He might have something special planned for us. HE Maybe He just wanted us to acknowledge that He is our protector. We need to give Him the credit for saving us and not my boating skills. SHE Or just saying that we were lucky. But think about what Jesus said in that passage...He rebuked them for their lack of faith. Maybe we don’t have very much faith. I was actually getting scared out there when the wind kicked up. I was just like the disciples. HE Not exactly. They had Jesus asleep in the boat. I think it would be a lot easier to have faith if Jesus was in the boat with me. SHE Isn’t He? THE END Copyright 2006 Warren Sager

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SCRIPT B: THE LOVE DARE, BY CLEVELAND MCLEISH THE CHARACTERS: HOSEA/GOMER Hosea: Male in his 40’s. He is a simple casual dresser with unkept hair and beard. He has a pleasant face and sometimes charming charisma. Gomer: Female in her early 30’s with pretty eyes. She has been on the streets most of her life and her countenance and appearance reflect years of substance, verbal and physical abuse. She wears a shaggy wig and heavy make-up. Joshua: Father figure in his late 60’s. He is old but still looks healthy, well groomed and a very easy going guy. Celeste: Young woman in her late 20’s. Also been on the streets a long time. She is slender and a little loose in how she dresses and walks. She can

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be very loud and ghetto as well as slick and charming. Robert/ Eric Robert is a well built and egocentric Male in his early 40’s who likes to be in control. Eric would probably pass as his twin brother. B@SIC ST@GE SET UP (Top View) Stage Right (SR) Stage Left (SL) SCENE 1 LIGHTS UP @ SL Gomer and Celeste sit on the steps Up Stage (US) in front of a door leading into Sammy’s Girls & Liquor. Hosea is standing Down Stage (DS) facing the audience with Bible open in his hands. Gomer and Celeste both have foul expressions on their faces and react to the message accordingly. Celeste has a bottle of Jack Daniels Whiskey that she drinks from momentarily. 97


HOSEA: (Speaks with little emotion.) This city is vile, corrupt and wicked. Unless you repent and turn from your nasty way of living, you are all going to hell. Fire and brimstone will be yours eternally if you remain on this road. God hates sin. He hates liars, prostitutes (glances behind him) thieves, fornicators, adulterous, witches and warlocks and He will have no reservation committing you all to hell. You just need to repent. I’m not going to sugar-coat this message. Some of you here will be dead tomorrow. Some of you here will be dead tonight. Now is the day of salvation. How you will die, I don’t know. Hit by a motorcar or a gunshot, it doesn’t matter. You will be dead and there is no repentance in the grave. Repent! I don’t care who you are --- Repent! The wages of sin is death and unless you

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repent you will die. If you don’t want to die, find God before it is too late. That’s all I’m saying. It’s up to you if you want to continue living a dirty, nasty life. I couldn’t care less. Hosea closes his bible and goes to the door CS leading to his living room (SR). He opens it and enters. LIGHTS UP @ SR. GOMER: He could not even look at us while he preaches. CELESTE: That is because he has already passed his judgment on us. You think he believes we can be saved? Christians are all the same...as if they weren’t sinners themselves. GOMER: Some of them did worst things than me and you put together. CELESTE: Some of them still do. Hosea goes on his knees. CELESTE: Let him preach. Nobody even listens to him anymore. (They laugh) 99


Gomer sips from her bottle of Jack Daniels. CELESTE: You gotta stop drinking that stuff. GOMER: If I do, I’m gonna have to quit this job. I’m surprised you don’t drink. CELESTE: Not after seeing what it did to my Mom. GOMER: Let’s not go there. We are having a bad enough day as it is. LIGHTS FADE @ SL HOSEA: Father, in Heaven --VOICE: Yes. Hosea pauses. He opens one eye and looks around. HOSEA: Who said that? VOICE: Do you still pray and not expect an answer? Pause. HOSEA: Is that you God? VOICE: My sheep they know my voice. HOSEA: Forgive my ignorance; it’s just that I have never heard you speak so clearly to me before --100


VOICE: Have you seen what Israel has become? HOSEA: Yes Lord, I have. VOICE: The more they prosper, is the more immoral they become. Swearing, lying, killing, stealing, adultery, drunkenness, perversion and Idolatry. When will they ever learn that there is no other way? HOSEA: People rather to have their own way than be obedient to laws and rules. VOICE: I love them, Hosea. Israel is my wife, but they keep whoring after other gods and it must stop. HOSEA: I understand. VOICE: No you don’t. You preach my words but your preaching has no effect because something is missing. You have grown intolerant of their lifestyles and it suppresses the vital ingredient of change....and that is love. You do not love them.

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HOSEA: What’s to love? You said it yourself ---these people are all prostitutes. VOICE: No human has the right to judge another human being. You were not so different from them once. HOSEA: Yes, but I heard your word and I responded. VOICE: And they can too - - - but the words of a prophet cannot be littered with ridicule and hate. I need you to understand my love for them so you can effectively share it. HOSEA: How can I, when I am just a man. VOICE: You have always been obedient and I expect nothing less with what I am about to ask you to do. HOSEA: Anything Lord. VOICE: You have been single long enough. I am giving you a wife. Her name is Gomer. Find her and take her as your wife. HOSEA: Where do I find this Gomer? 102


VOICE: Just go about your daily routine. You will know her when you see her. She will be wearing a red skirt with matching stripe top. HOSEA: Red is my favourite colour. VOICE: I know. HOSEA: And you said her name is Gomer? VOICE: Yes. HOSEA: A very unique name. She must be a very unique person. I have been looking forward to being a husband for a long time. VOICE: You will be a father as well. Joshua has been looking forward to being a Grand-Dad. HOSEA: Sounds good. Sounds really good. (Pause) Lord, if I have found favour in your eyes, can you grant me one request? VOICE: No man can see God and live. HOSEA: How did you - - - - (realizes) I just want a glimpse...even for a second. VOICE: You will see me when you die. 103


Silence. HOSEA: Hello! Silence HOSEA: Well, it was worth a try. Gets up off his knees. HOSEA: Finally I get to experience marriage. I always wondered what it would be like. Gomer my beautiful wife to be. We will meet soon. (starts to feel excited) This is a very exciting time....I must be ready. LIGHTS FADE @ SR SCENE 2 LIGHTS UP @ SL Gomer and Celeste sit on the steps. Gomer drinks from her bottle of Jack Daniels Whiskey. She is wearing a red skirt with matching top. CELESTE: Business is sooo slow today. GOMER: (wipes her mouth) City men are the worst customers. I told you we need to relocate. 104


CELESTE: I am depending on the money to go shopping this weekend at Walmarts. GOMER: Do you ever think about anything other than shopping? CELESTE: Yes, money to go shopping. GOMER: (shakes her head) Maybe the men here are tired of us. You ever think about that. CELESTE: (laughs) As if that is even possible…If you ask me, I think Jack Daniels is getting to your head. GOMER: You enjoy this lifestyle, don’t you? CELESTE: The money is good…and I know that look --- This is our life Gomer. We didn’t choose it, fate just handed it to us. GOMER: We don’t belong in the streets. We are better than this. CELESTE: If thinking like that makes you sleep at nights, be my guest. Gomer sinks in thought for a moment. GOMER: I keep having strange dreams. CELESTE: About what? 105


GOMER: A knight in shining armour come and takes me away from here. CELESTE: That happens everyday, just that they bring us back after an hour or so. Gomer looks offstage left. GOMER: Now there’s a familiar face. (Gets up off the step) I will be right back. Gomer strides offstage adjusting her hair and checking her makeup. CELESTE: You got all the charm to disarm any man girl. Hosea enters from SR with Bible clutched under his arm. Celeste turns to see him stepping out. CELESTE: I think my very bad day is about to get worst. HOSEA: Young lady, I know we have had this conversation before, but do you think it’s appropriate to conduct your ‘business’ next door to a Church. CELESTE: There is no Church here. Just you. HOSEA: I am the church.

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CELESTE: Why are you always bothering us? We don’t bother you. HOSEA: What you women do here is just plain nasty? CELESTE: Save your judgement for somebody who cares. Gomer enters counting money. GOMER: Celeste girl, that’s the easiest 500 bucks I ever made --(Looks up to see Hosea staring at her).Oh great! HOSEA: (dejected) Dear God of Heaven - - - You!?! You are wearing a red skirt. Oh, this is crazy. GOMER: What you want preacher man? Silence. Hosea is staring dumb folded at Gomer. CELESTE: Why do you just stand there staring at my friend? Just a moment ago your mouth was running like a pipe. HOSEA: (looks away) This is not happening --- (laughs to himself) this can’t be right. No way! GOMER: What is your problem? 107


HOSEA: Do I look like I have a problem? GOMER: Yah...you do. Pause. CELESTE: Looks to me like you have the Preacher man under some manners Gomer. HOSEA: Hold on...not only are you wearing red but your name is also Gomer? GOMER: What’s it to you? Pause. HOSEA: No way! Noooo way! LIGHTS UP @ SR Hosea goes back through his door entering SR. He leans against the door. HOSEA: Talk to me God...cause obviously you have made a very big mistake. (Goes to sit in the couch) CELESTE: What was that about? GOMER: I’m just glad we got rid of him. They go back to sitting on the step. 108


Joshua enters SR and stands behind the couch watching Hosea beat his head with his palm. JOSHUA: You ok son? HOSEA: Nope. JOSHUA: Wanna talk about it? HOSEA: Nope. Pause. Joshua sits. JOSHUA: You should talk about it. HOSEA: Why? JOSHUA: It helps. I haven’t seen you beat your head in a while. What happened? HOSEA: God wants me to get married. JOSHUA: About time. I was starting to give up on ever being a grandfather. HOSEA: To her! (Points at the door – Joshua looks at the door) JOSHUA: I’m pretty sure that’s a door son. HOSEA: Outside the door. She is wearing a red skirt. Joshua goes to the door. He barely cracks it open and peeps out. 109


A man enters and Celeste and Gomer exits with him on either side. Joshua closes the door. LIGHTS FADE @ SL JOSHUA: I’m pretty sure that’s a prostitute son. HOSEA: This doesn’t make any sense. JOSHUA: And you are sure you talked to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob? HOSEA: Pretty sure. JOSHUA: How sure is sure? HOSEA: He told me what I was thinking before I could say it. Only God could do that. Pause. JOSHUA: Why would God tell you to go marry a Prostitute? Hardly makes any sense. Can you imagine what people would think? HOSEA: The question is, how do I tell God no. JOSHUA: Come to think of it, maybe it would probably be easier if you just did what he asked you to

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do. Remember what happened to Jonah when He sent him to Nineveh and he decided to run? Hosea sighs and starts beating his head again. JOSHUA: There must be a reason for this. HOSEA: What could possibly be the reason? JOSHUA: Maybe you are the only one who can save this woman. HOSEA: I know these women father, I have preached to them on numerous occasions. They don’t like me. You think I can just walk over to her and take her as my wife. JOSHUA: That’s what I did with your mother. HOSEA: Those were ancient times. Women want to be wooed, complimented and pampered...which applies to normal women ---not women who sell their bodies to the highest bidders. This one in particular is always with her friend. They are like peas in a pod. How do I compete with that? JOSHUA: Sounds like you are considering this.

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HOSEA: I’m weighing my options and trying to look at this from all angles. 11 | P a g e T h e L o v e Dare www.christianplaywright.org Copyright © 2011 Cleveland O. McLeish. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED JOSHUA: Prostitute being the key word here...several things come to mind when I consider that word. Nasty, disease, infections --HOSEA: You are not helping. JOSHUA: Maybe God made a mistake. HOSEA: He was very specific...He told me her name and what she would be wearing. Its real father and I don’t see any other way around this. Common sense dictates that it is better to fall into the hands of men, than God. JOSHUA: I have always supported your charismatic approach to God, maybe even admired your 112


consistent obedience even in the face of imminent danger ---- but I’m not so sure about this one. HOSEA: Would you do it if God asked you to? JOSHUA: Let me think about that for a minute ---NO! Joshua exits. Hosea sighs. He looks around the room. HOSEA: You there God? He listens....nothing but silence. HOSEA: Why am I not surprised! LIGHTS FADE @ SR SCENE 3 LIGHTS UP @ SR Hosea walks out and stops to look behind him. HOSEA: Cmon father, we don’t have all day. Joshua walks out. He is dressed out of character, shirt tucked in and wearing glasses. JOSHUA: For the record, I’m not very comfortable right now. HOSEA: Well, do you have a better idea. JOSHUA: A boat and a big fish come to mind. 113


HOSEA: You want me to run without even giving it a try. JOSHUA: If it would save me from being seen in this ridiculous clothes and glasses ---YES. HOSEA: I just need a few minutes alone with her. That’s all. I can’t do it without you. JOSHUA: So let me get this straight…..I am going to pretend that I am interested in acquiring the services of a prostitute, which goes against all my morals, values and beliefs, just so you can be alone with another prostitute. (pause to think) It sounds like a great plan, but how long do you think I can pretend to want something I don’t want? HOSEA: Improvise. JOSHUA: Are they even out there? Hosea goes to the door and cracks it so he can peep outside. LIGHTS UP @ SL Gomer sits on the steps texting on her blackberry. Celeste stands close to the edge of the Stage waiting for a customer and rigidly chewing a gum. 114


HOSEA: Yep. Hosea steps away from the door. HOSEA: You ready? JOSHUA: No. HOSEA: Good. Use the back entrance and try to stay in character. JOSHUA: I can’t believe I let you talk me into this. Joshua exits. Hosea goes back to the door and cracks it a bit to watch. Joshua enters SL. He appears extremely nervous and sweating. Celeste is the first to see him. She strides over and holds his arm. CELESTE: Hey honey, you looking to have a good time. Gomer steps up and holds his other arm. GOMER: Tell us what we can do to make your day better hun. JOSHUA: Uhm...well... CELESTE: Is this your first time? JOSHUA: Is it that obvious? GOMER: You are not a cop, are you? CELESTE: Please girl, he is too old to be a cop. JOSHUA: I’m not that old. 115


GOMER: Well, you have no need to be nervous hun. We will lead...you just need to follow. JOSHUA: Ok...uhm, but I just want her (points at Celeste) Gomer smiles and let go of his arm. Celeste holds him tighter. CELESTE: Where’s your car? JOSHUA: I don’t drive. CELESTE: So how you want to do this honey? JOSHUA: Ahm, I know a place...its a few blocks from here. CELESTE: A few blocks? I’m going to have to charge you travelling as well. JOSHUA: Ok...(pushes up his glasses) Joshua exits with Celeste still clutching his arm. GOMER: (mimics Joshua) I just want her. (Drinks from her bottle) Pause. Hosea steps out. Gomer sees him and rolls her eyes again. LIGHTS FADE @ SR HOSEA: Can I talk to you? GOMER: I have nothing to say to you. 116


HOSEA: I know we got off on the wrong foot and --GOMER: What do you think you are doing? HOSEA: I’m trying to have a conversation. GOMER: Why? Which part of I have nothing to say to you don’t you understand? HOSEA: You think I don’t know your arrogance covers up who you really are. This is not you. This is not the life you want to live. GOMER: You don’t know me. HOSEA: I know you hate being rejected. Who rejected you as a child? Silence. GOMER: Do you want something from me? Cause I charge by the hour. HOSEA: How much? GOMER: What? HOSEA: How much do you charge an hour? GOMER: Two Hundred.

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Hosea reaches for his wallet and pulls out a few bills. He holds it out to her. HOSEA: This is two hundred and fifty dollars. Gomer just looks at the money in Hosea’s hand. GOMER: You are dumber than you look. Look around you preacher man. Everybody who passes by knows who I am and knows who you are. Imagine what they are thinking seeing you handing money to me...and for what. So you can talk me to death. HOSEA: When you truly follow Christ at some point or the other you stop caring what people think. GOMER: Keep your money. I may not be much in your eyes, but I’m not a thief. My conversations are not for sale. Hosea puts the money back in his wallet. GOMER: Why are you trying so hard to get under my skin? Hosea looks to heaven and breathes hard. HOSEA: I want you ---- I want you ---- (takes a very deep breathe) I want you, to be my wife! 118


There are no words to describe the look of Gomer’s face. GOMER: Your wife? HOSEA: Yes. Gomer is looking for some evidence of insanity in Hosea’s expression. GOMER: Is this a joke. HOSEA: Unfortunately not. GOMER: Do I look like wife material to you? HOSEA: No…but It’s not what you look like. It’s who you are or who you can be. Gomer starts to laugh. GOMER: I have seen and heard some weird things...but this one deserves a trophy. Gomer is laughing really hard…Hosea maintains his composure, but realize he may need to go one step further. HOSEA: I apologize if I didn’t do it right. Hosea gets down on one knee.

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GOMER: Whatever it is you drank this morning, please don’t drink anymore. Robert enters. He goes to Gomer and kisses her on her cheeks. GOMER: I wasn’t expecting you for another hour. ROBERT: (Points at Hosea still on his knees) Who’s this? GOMER: I don’t know him. Robert pulls Gomer aside. ROBERT: I was thinking maybe we could hook up a little earlier. I’m having some company later. GOMER: Who? ROBERT: My wife. Pause. GOMER: Sorry, I already had an appointment. Gomer goes to Hosea and takes him up off his knees and holds his arm. GOMER: We were just about to leave. ROBERT: I thought you said you didn’t know him. GOMER: I don’t know half the men I leave here with Robert. Robert is furious. He clenches his fist. 120


ROBERT: You would embarrass me like this. GOMER: You embarrassed yourself. ROBERT: All in good time, you hear. Robert turns and exits. GOMER: Jerk! Gomer quickly lets go of Hosea’s hand. HOSEA: I can take you away from this kind of life Gomer. GOMER: You live next door Preacher man. (Goes for her bottle) That’s not far enough. HOSEA: I can help yo --GOMER: Enough ok. I don’t know why you are trying to be so nice to me all of a sudden, but I can find my own way. Gomer exits. LIGHTS FADE @ SL SCENE 4 LIGHTS UP @ SR Hosea sits in the couch holding his head in the palms of his hands.

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Joshua enters. His shirt is half pulled out of his pants and the glasses is crooked on his face. JOSHUA: That woman is crazy, you hear me. Never again will I make you convince me to do something like that. Starts to tuck his shirt back in his pants. JOSHUA: This woman took this thing to another level. Had to run like Joseph. (Pulls out a receipt from his pocket) She gave me a receipt. Charged me tax, travelling and overhead expenses just to talk. I hope you plan to pay me back. HOSEA: I will pay you back. Thanks for doing this for me. JOSHUA: So how did it go? HOSEA: Apart from making a fool of myself and being kicked to the kerb I think it went pretty well. I am really having second thoughts about this. JOSHUA: You are the one who said you were sure it was God talking to you.

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HOSEA: I have replayed the conversation a thousand times trying to find something that would cause reasonable doubt...but it was very consistent. I am pretty sure I was talking to God. Hosea thinks for a moment. HOSEA: You want to hear something strange? JOSHUA: Not really, but I’m sure your gonna tell me anyway. HOSEA: A man came for her...a married man. Wanted to have her early than usual because his wife was coming over and she used me to get rid of him. Thing is, I saw her expression when he mentioned his wife...and I actually cared. JOSHUA: And the moral of this story is... HOSEA: If God can love us in our worst state as sinners, should we love any less. I mean, maybe that’s what this is about. Maybe God is daring me to love the unlovable. JOSHUA: You think this is a love dare?

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HOSEA: What else could this be? This is a test. God is asking me to do something once that He practically does every day. JOSHUA: Marry a prostitute? HOSEA: It’s not just that. His people constantly turn from Him to worship strange gods. It’s the same with a harlot. Instead of giving herself to her one true love, she prostitutes herself to strange men. God loves us even though we don’t love Him. That is the lesson He wants to teach me. He wants me to love Gomer as He loves Israel. JOSHUA: That’s a very good theory but is it one worth sacrificing your reputation as a man of God. People are already talking. HOSEA: People will always find something to say about me. JOSHUA: Yeah but you soliciting the services of a woman like that…unless you don’t plan to ever preach to these people ever again. HOSEA: Is it possible to serve God and please people? 124


JOSHUA: I think being a Christian is about finding a balance between the two. HOSEA: Some of us have a higher calling. JOSHUA: Higher would not be my choice of word in this case. Think more like preposterous, absurd, bizarre, unreasonable, nonsensical --HOSEA: I got it. Hosea thinks. HOSEA: I have to see this thing through…with or without your support. JOSHUA: I knew you would say that. HOSEA: Are you going to help me? JOSHUA: No. HOSEA: Please! JOSHUA: How? HOSEA: Teach me how to win the heart of a woman. JOSHUA: It’s easy with this one. You need about a thousand dollars. HOSEA: That’s if I wanted her body. I want her heart. 125


JOSHUA: Is there really any difference? HOSEA: You tell me. Joshua sighs. JOSHUA: You are really gonna do this? HOSEA: Yes and why are you being so cynical. You helped me not too long ago. JOSHUA: Because I knew she would reject you. I thought that would have been enough to discourage you, not set you on fire…and I was bored. HOSEA: I wouldn’t bother you if I could do this alone. JOSHUA: What makes you think I can help you? HOSEA: Mom was no walk in the park. I know you had to come good to get a woman like that. What did you do? JOSHUA: It was nothing I did. Naturally, I am a charming man. HOSEA: So seriously, what did you do? JOSHUA: What would you expect from a man of God? I used the Word of God. HOSEA: There is nothing in the Bible relevant to this. 126


JOSHUA: Oh, you have never read Songs of Solomon. Joshua finds a Bible and opens it. JOSHUA: You just listen and learn Son. This will take you to first base. (Begins to read) How beautiful you are my darling, oh how beautiful! Your eyes are doves. How beautiful you are, my darling! Oh how beautiful! Your hair is like a flock of goats descending from Mount Gilead. Your lips are like a scarlet ribbon; your mouth is lovely. Your neck is like the tower of David --HOSEA: I don’t think that is appropriate. JOSHUA: If you want my advice, you have to trust me son. Now to get to second base. (Begins to read) How much more pleasing is your love than wine, and the fragrance of your perfume than any spice! Your lips drop sweetness as the honeycomb, my bride; milk and honey are under your tongue --HOSEA: Whoa --- okay then. 127


JOSHUA: I’m just getting to the best part. HOSEA: I’m not so sure I want to go there. JOSHUA: You don’t want to know how to get to third base. HOSEA: What is third base? JOSHUA: That’s the best part --- you usually need a bed for that. HOSEA: I don’t think this is a conversation I should be having with my father. JOSHUA: You don’t have much of a choice. Your mother went to visit God and hasn’t returned. Listen to this. (Begins to read) Your breast --HOSEA: No more. I think I got it. JOSHUA: Powerful stuff this Songs of Solomon and it is the Word of God. This book passed the canonization and all. You want to win any woman’s heart…use the Word. HOSEA: What if that doesn’t work? JOSHUA: You have to understand women son. They respond to love. Your words must be sweet but

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above all, if you can prove to her that you love her more than you love yourself, you win her for life. HOSEA: How did you prove that to Mom? JOSHUA: I always left the last piece of chicken for her. HOSEA: I have never seen you do that. JOSHUA: I stopped once we got married and she couldn’t leave me again. Joshua taps his son on his shoulders. JOSHUA: As much as I admire your unwavering obedience to God, I still think you should quit while you are ahead. I am going to get some food. You want anything? HOSEA: I’m not hungry. Joshua exits leaving the bible in Hosea’s hand. LIGHTS FADE @ SR SCENE 5 LIGHTS UP @ SL Gomer sits alone on the steps. Hosea comes out gripping his bible. HOSEA: Morning. 129


No response. HOSEA: Where’s your friend? GOMER: She is not in office today. Called in sick. Hosea smiles. HOSEA: I like your sense of humour. So how is your day? GOMER: Why the sudden interest in me huh? HOSEA: It’s complicated. GOMER: It’s uncomfortable. You are always here preaching, judging and condemning us. You could not even look us in the eye and when you do look at us, it is with so much contempt and disgust and now all of a sudden you are up in my face and even proposing marriage. Why? HOSEA: You were waiting for me weren’t you? No response. HOSEA: That is why your friend is not here. GOMER: I want to understand why the sudden change. HOSEA: It’s hard to explain. GOMER: Try. 130


Hosea considers deeply. HOSEA: You have been thinking about me, haven’t you? GOMER: I don’t waste time thinking about men with nothing to offer. HOSEA: What do you have to offer Gomer? GOMER: You already know the answer to that. HOSEA: I know you sell your body for money. But what you give is not your body....you give a piece of your soul and eventually you will have nothing left to give. GOMER: You think you have me all figured out, don’t you? HOSEA: I don’t know you....but I know sin and I know what sin does. Sin teaches you to give and always expect something in return. I want the opportunity to give you something expecting nothing in return. GOMER: There is no such thing as a free gift. HOSEA: Salvation is free...so is faith, hope and love. GOMER: Does love make your mother leave you in a bag by the side of the road to be picked up and 131


raised by a pimp? Does love make a child grow without ever knowing who their father is? Does love make a man beat you and treat you like a common dog? HOSEA: That’s not love. GOMER: Then what is it? Cause that’s all the love I know. You are a preacher and I am a prostitute and you want to take me off these streets and call me your wife and I should believe there is nothing in this for you. What is it that you want and why do you want it from me? HOSEA: I don’t know. GOMER: You don’t know or you won’t tell me. HOSEA: I don’t know what I’m doing ok. GOMER: So why do it? Hosea can’t respond to that questions. He opens the Bible. HOSEA: (Begins to read) How beautiful you are my darling, oh how beautiful! Your eyes are doves.

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How beautiful you are, my darling! Oh how beautiful! Your hair is like a flock of goats descending from Mount Gilead. Your lips are like a scarlet ribbon; your mouth is lovely. Your neck is like the tower of David --Gomer hits the bible from his hand. GOMER: It’s a simple question. HOSEA: Am I on first base? GOMER: What? HOSEA: My father said that would get me to first base. Gomer begins to laugh. Robert enters. He walks over and grabs Gomer by her wrist squeezing hard. Hosea is not sure what to do. GOMER: Robert, you are hurting me. Hosea steps back seemingly a little timid. ROBERT: I’m not playing your game missy. You have been ignoring my calls, not showing up for our dates...and who is this wimp? 133


HOSEA: (extends his hand) I am Hosea. Robert looks at his hand, then at his face. ROBERT: (barks) Don’t you have somewhere to go? HOSEA: Not really. Robert grunts at him and he steps back. GOMER: Why don’t you go home to your wife, Robert? Robert hits her across the face. ROBERT: You don’t talk to me like that Jezebel. Robert begins to pull her offstage against her will. GOMER: Let me go Robert. ROBERT: I’m gonna have some fun with you tonight. Hosea slowly works up enough courage. HOSEA: You should let the lady go! Robert stops. He turns around. ROBERT: What did you say, wimp? HOSEA: I said, maybe you should let the lady go...I mean, it sounds like a good idea. Robert laughs and releases his grip on Gomer.

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ROBERT: I guess this man is the reason you have been avoiding me.

GOMER: Don’t...Robert. Please. (Stands between him and Hosea) I will go with you, anything you want.. ROBERT: Oh, so you got a soft spot for the wimp. Robert shoves Gomer out of the way and grabs Hosea and starts to hit him. Gomer tries to stop him and he pushes her off. She falls on her side. He continues to hit Hosea until he stops moving. Robert stands looking at the two lying onstage. ROBERT: You two deserve each other. Robert rubs his fist. He goes over to Gomer and pulls a chain from around her neck. He exits. Gomer slowly gets to her feet and goes over to Hosea. He stirs in pain. She lifts him to his feet and walks him to the door. 135


GOMER: Now that was stupid. Gomer helps him inside. LIGHTS UP @ SR The Bible remains onstage SL. Hosea sits painfully in the coach. GOMER: Why’d you do that? HOSEA: Seems like the gentleman thing to do at the time. GOMER: Nobody has ever tried to defend me before...not that you were very good at it. HOSEA: I am a preacher...not a fighter. Gomer looks around the room. GOMER: You live alone? HOSEA: No, my father is probably out in the field. GOMER: Ok. Can I get you anything? HOSEA: Ice...in the freezer. (points DS) Through that door. Gomer walks to the door. HOSEA: Thanks...(Gomer stops and turn to him)...for helping me. GOMER: I should be the one to say thanks. HOSEA: I’m just glad you are ok. 136


GOMER: You will be happy to know that you just got to first base. Hosea smiles. Gomer exits. LIGHTS FADE @ SR Celeste enters at SL. She looks around...sees the bible on the ground. She walks over and picks it up and stares at It. She looks around again, and then exits. LIGHTS FADE @ SL SCENE 6 – ONE YEAR LATER SFX: Baby crying LIGHTS UP @ SR Joshua sits close to a small baby crib. He rocks the crib, but the crying continues. He puts One toy after another into the crib, but the crying still continues. He stands over the crib and shuffles his hand inside as if pulling off a diaper, what he sees is a bit disturbing. 137


JOSHUA: What have they been feeding you? Oh my goodness. Hosea enters with a small bag. HOSEA: I brought something to cook --- (smells something disturbing) and what is that smell? Joshua takes the bag from Hosea and heads to the exit. JOSHUA: I will go start dinner. I think little Jezreel needs some attention below the waste. HOSEA: Where’s Gomer? JOSHUA: (stops with turning around) She left hours ago. HOSEA: What do you mean ‘she left?’ JOSHUA: I can only think of one possible meaning Son. Joshua exits. Hosea takes a peek into the crib. His face twist in disgust. HOSEA: What have you been eating? Hosea picks up the crib and exit. A beat. The crying stops. Gomer enters carrying two shopping bags.

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She puts them in the coach and sits going through the bags all smiling and jittery as a kid with new toys. Hosea comes out. He sees Gomer ecstatically going through her bags. Gomer looks behind her to see him standing. GOMER: Come and look what I bought today dear husband. Hosea comes around, his countenance is not a happy one. HOSEA: You left Jezreel to go shopping? GOMER: Today was the last day of the sale and he was in good hands. His grandfather seems to have such a special bond with him. HOSEA: We agreed that one of us would always be here. GOMER: It was just for a few minutes Hosea. Stop making such a big deal out of small things. Now...(takes out a dress that is similar to the one she is wearing) What do you think? HOSEA: It looks like the one you are wearing.

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GOMER: Look carefully and you will see that the shade is different. Hosea is looking but not seeing. Gomer brings the dress up to his nostrils. GOMER: Smell how invigorating this new smell is...(She takes his hand and runs it over the fabric) Feel the texture. Have you ever felt anything like this? HOSEA: All the time. Gomer puts that dress aside and pulls out another dress equally similar. GOMER: How about this one? HOSEA: It looks just like the one you are wearing. GOMER: You men have no sense of taste in fine clothing. HOSEA: Where did you get the money for this? GOMER: I took a few coins out of your coin box. Hosea looks like he is having an instant headache. HOSEA: That’s the money I’m saving to buy that piece of property, so we can build a house for our family. 140


GOMER: I know that but where the need arises, I want to think that your wife is entitled to something.

Hosea bites his lips. HOSEA: You take money out of our savings, leave Jezreel without the presence of a parent to go and buy two dresses that look like the two you bought last month? And I missing anything? Gomer pulls a pair of matching shoes and handbag from the other shopping bag. GOMER: Maybe these. HOSEA: What is wrong with you? GOMER: What is wrong with me? HOSEA: I have put up with your impulsive spending...your negligence...your indulgence in material things...your incompetence in carrying out simple task around this house but no more Gomer. You need to learn some responsibility. GOMER: You think I am an impulsive spender? 141


HOSEA: I just listed about four to five things just now and that’s all you heard. GOMER: Let me get this straight...you think I am an impulsive spender. Hosea sighs. GOMER: You only think that because I am spending your money, but if you hadn’t taken me away from my job, I would be spending my money. HOSEA: Prostitution is not a job. GOMER: Apparently preaching is not either, but I had my own money and nobody accused me of being an impulsive spender. HOSEA: You are missing the point. GOMER: I don’t think so. You brought me here Hosea. You took me from everything that I knew and brought me into this house and for what. So I can clean, cook and nurse a kid. HOSEA: Jezreel is not a goat. He is your son and motherhood comes with some level of responsibility. You don’t just go as you please and do as you like.

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GOMER: That is who I am and maybe you should have considered that before you took me as your wife. Gomer exits. HOSEA: Woman, don’t you dare walk away from me when I am talking to you. A door slams. Joshua comes out drying his hand. JOSHUA: I tell you son, you can take the pig out of the pen but you can’t take the pen out of the pig. HOSEA: You heard all that? JOSHUA: I wouldn’t miss it for the world. HOSEA: I am glad one of us is enjoying this. JOSHUA: Something I learn early in life son, you can’t change a woman. You either accept her for who she is or you don’t. HOSEA: She is a little bit too care-free for my acceptance. JOSHUA: Then you should have said I don’t instead of I do. You knew who you were marrying so

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sup it up. It’s been a whole year and you have a son. The two of you need to get it together. Listen, when you were getting married and you sent out 50 invitations and only 4 people showed up, you knew it was going to be just you and her. HOSEA: I should have taken that as a sign. JOSHUA: I did whisper something like that to you at the altar, but you did it anyway. HOSEA: (sniffs the air) I think something is burning. JOSHUA: Ooops. Joshua quickly exits. Hosea sighs deeply. LIGHTS FADE @ SR LIGHTS UP @ SL Celeste enters with Robert trailing behind her. CELESTE: I told you I don’t know where she is. ROBERT: I think you are lying. CELESTE: Now why would I do that , when you scare the living daylights out of me? 144


ROBERT: You two were thick as thieves. I know you know where she is and I won’t stop haunting you till you tell me. CELESTE: Does your wife know where you are? ROBERT: Is that a threat? CELESTE: No. A simple question. ROBERT: You think you are so smart, but time reveals all secrets. Robert leaves. Celeste watches him go...she goes to the edge of the stage staring offstage for a beat making Sure he is gone. She goes to the door and knocks once. LIGHTS UP @ SR Gomer comes across the stage and goes to the door and knocks twice. Celeste looks behind her again just to be sure, and then knocks 3 times. Gomer lets her in. They hug. LIGHTS OUT @ SL 145


GOMER: Thanks for coming. CELESTE: You are more fortunate than others. You know I don’t answer strange numbers on my phone. What’s up girl, you looking really nice. GOMER: I need you to make some links for me. I need to be making my own money. CELESTE: Ok, you know your girl have friends in high and low places. Tell me what kinda employment you need, and I will hook you up. GOMER: I am only good at one thing Celeste. Pause. LIGHTS OUT @ SR SCENE 7 – ONE YEAR LATER SFX: Baby cooing LIGHTS UP @ SR Hosea sits by the baby crib. Joshua comes out. He looks at the baby in the crib. JOSHUA: This one is a lot quieter than the last one. Have you named her yet? 146


HOSEA: Loruhamah. JOSHUA: Why do baby names have to be so complex? Do you really want your child to spend her entire life spelling her name? HOSEA: Loruhamah means unpitied or unloved. It means she will never enjoy her true father’s love. Joshua considers. JOSHUA: She is not yours is she? HOSEA: Look at her and tell me what you think. Joshua looks inside the crib. JOSHUA: She is a little bit dark in complexion. Where is your wife? HOSEA: I don’t know. JOSHUA: You don’t know where she is half the time, and still you two manage to be making babies. HOSEA: I don’t know if I can do this Father, but despite everything...I love her. I really do love this woman and she does nothing but cause me pain. JOSHUA: And what is a father supposed to say to that? 147


HOSEA: Every day I learn how a Father who would give His life for his children, for His bride Israel and how He must feel when they constantly turn their backs on His everlasting love. JOSHUA: So you think this is about God’s love for sinners? HOSEA: I am just trying to make sense out of this. I’m just trying to understand. A love like this must hurt. JOSHUA: Well, my advice to you is...until you know what your wife is really up to, you probably need to stay away from the baby making activities for a while. HOSEA: We are not stupid. We both know what she is up to. JOSHUA: I am glad you are the one to say it, but do we really assume the worse. HOSEA: She stopped taking coins out of my coin box and her spending has doubled. New clothes, shoes, bags and jewellery. The money has to come from somewhere.

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JOSHUA: If she has gone back to her old lifestyle, she is an ungrateful little…(The door opens and Gomer steps in)…Lambada is such a cute child. HOSEA: It’s Loruhamah. JOSHUA: Right. Anyway, too much to do and not enough hours in the day to get it all done. Have fun! HOSEA: Can you take the baby to her room for me please? JOSHUA: Sure. Joshua takes the crib and exits. HOSEA: Where are you coming from Gomer? No response. HOSEA: Haven’t I done enough for you? What did I do for you to treat me like this? GOMER: Am I supposed to know what you are talking about? HOSEA: Yes. GOMER: Well I don’t. HOSEA: That perfume you are wearing. It’s familiar. GOMER: It’s new. 149


HOSEA: It’s a man’s perfume. GOMER: What is your problem? When I’m here it’s a problem, when I’m not here it’s a problem. How am I supposed to please you? HOSEA: You can start by being honest. GOMER: I can’t live up to your expectations Hosea. I’m not good at being a maid or a cook. Evidently, I’m not good at being a mother or a wife either. HOSEA: You have a choice here Gomer. Your future can be significantly different from your past…but if you choose to relive the past over and over again…nothing will ever change. GOMER: Are you accusing me of something? HOSEA: Where do you get the money you have been spending? GOMER: Is that what this is about? HOSEA: This is about our family; our marriage. GOMER: This is about you wanting to control me. HOSEA: We can’t continue like this Gomer.

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GOMER: I agree. This marriage was a mistake, one I should have never agreed to. HOSEA: That’s not what I meant. GOMER: Admit it. Just be honest with yourself this once. I will never be the wife you want me to be Hosea. HOSEA: You can try. GOMER: I did. Gomer heads for the door. HOSEA: Where are you going? GOMER: Out! Gomer opens the door and steps out. Hosea watches her go. He rubs his head in frustration. LIGHTS UP @ SL Robert is standing by the door as Gomer steps out closing the door behind her. She turns And come face to face with Robert. ROBERT: This is where you have been‌all this time. Hosea gets up and begins pacing. 151


GOMER: What do you want? ROBERT: You know what I want…and we got two years to make up for. (Grabs her hand) Don’t think about screaming or calling for help. If anybody steps through that door, I will take his life. Robert drags Gomer against her will offstage. Hosea opens the door and steps out. He looks in both directions, and then goes back inside. LIGHTS FADE @ SL Joshua comes out. JOSHUA: Where is she? HOSEA: She’s gone. Joshua hugs his son. JOSHUA: I’m sorry son. I wish I knew what to say and do to make the yoke a little lighter. HOSEA: I never asked for this. I don’t deserve this. A beat. LIGHTS FADE @ SR

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SCENE 8 – SIX MONTHS LATER LIGHTS UP @ SL Gomer staggers onstage. Her clothes are dirty and worn, her face has running mascara

And She looks a bit malnourished. She makes her way to the step and sits there, weary and half dead. She breaks down and begins crying. Celeste comes on and sees her. She goes to her and hugs her. CELESTE: What happened to you? Where have you been these past 6 months? GOMER: Do you have anything to eat? Celeste searches her bag and finds a half eaten sandwich. She gives it to Gomer who Devours it quickly. CELESTE: Robert did this to you? GOMER: I did this to myself‌ thinking I could handle the streets. Its getting worse Celeste, the older

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we get is the easier it becomes for them to replace us with younger women. We are nothing but a liability to them then. CELESTE: Tell me where you have been. GOMER: Robert is no longer with his wife. She figured out what a pervert he really was and left him, so he came looking for me. Took me to a different state, spent one night with me, and then kicked me out. Said I wasn’t the same. I have been trying to make my way back here since. Celeste I have done some really terrible things. CELESTE: We all do what we have to do to survive girl. GOMER: I never should have left. Gomer starts to cry. GOMER: Hosea will never take me back. CELESTE: You have never needed him to survive out here Gomer. We were ok knowing we had each other.

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GOMER: I have always wanted more…just don’t think I deserve it. CELESTE: It’s not the same for me without you Gomer. You really think I’m just going to sit here and watch you walk right back into a life you don’t belong. (Points at the door) That will never be you….This is you. Right here with me. GOMER: What do we do ten years from now when our skin is all wrinkled and nobody wants us anymore? CELESTE: Ten years if a long way from now. GOMER: You said that ten years ago. Celeste knows the reality of what was just said. GOMER: The thrill of sin is only for a season. CELESTE: That prophet has poisoned your mind. There is nothing sinful about surviving and taking care of ourselves. GOMER: Look at me Celeste. Look at me! I have been rejected, abused, ridiculed, abandoned and 155


broken. Is that what you call survival? CELESTE: Things happen --GOMER: I don’t know about you, but I want to be free. I want to change. I am so tired. The door opens and Hosea steps out. Gomer’s back is turned to him. CELESTE: Well you need to make a choice, cause I’m tired of bailing you out only to be left in the cold and alone. GOMER: What do you mean? CELESTE: It’s either me…or him. (Points at Hosea. Gomer turns around to see him just standing there) HOSEA: I --- heard your voice from inside. Uncomfortable pause. CELESTE: There is no future for you with this man Gomer. You must realize that by now. HOSEA: There is no future for her on the streets. There is no future for any of you here on the streets. The path of sin always leads to death. 156


CELESTE: We were ok before she got involved with you. HOSEA: Apparently the only time she is not ok is when she is not with me. GOMER: Enough! HOSEA: Gomer, I don’t know where you have been these past few months…and I wish I could say I have gotten used to you not being around, but I haven’t. I have actually been expecting you. I have missed you and have been praying for you to return to me every single day…181 days to be exact. GOMER: You don’t really mean that…I mean, look at me Hosea, I am a mess. HOSEA: A bath and a change of clothes can fix that…maybe some shampoo and conditioner…but I am way past seeing you just on the outside. I know you are here because you want to come home. You have a husband and two children waiting for you. Gomer is again in tears. GOMER: How are my babies? 157


HOSEA: They miss their Momma. Gomer thinks long and hard. GOMER: I miss them too. Please take me to them. Hosea takes her hand and begins to lead her away from Celeste. CELESTE: Please don’t do this to me again Gomer. Please! GOMER: I am sorry my friend, but I have a family. I have to try. CELESTE: You know it won’t last. GOMER: I have to try. Hosea and Gomer exits through the door. Celeste closes her eyes and sighs deeply, biting her lip. LIGHTS FADE @ SL SCENE 9 – ONE YEAR LATER SFX: Baby cooing LIGHTS UP @ SR Joshua sits by the crib. Hosea enters. JOSHUA: Did you find her? HOSEA: No.

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JOSHUA: Son, you have been walking these streets now everyday for two months. She is not a lost sheep. She made her choice. She is gone…again. Hosea sits beside his father. JOSHUA: I guess old habits die hard. (Takes out an empty bottle of Jack Daniels) I found this and considering that it’s empty, I would say she has been at it a while. No response. Joshua looks at the baby in the crib. JOSHUA: Have you named him yet? HOSEA: Lo-ammi. JOSHUA: I am afraid to ask what that name means. HOSEA: It means ‘No Kin of mine.’ JOSHUA: This child is not yours? HOSEA: You would think I would have learnt my lesson by now. I gave her an ultimatum…took her back with the understanding that if she ever left again, I would let her go…and still my heart is concerned and still I love her. Am I stupid? Joshua holds his response a moment. 159


JOSHUA: I am curious to know why you think this child is not yours, considering you both are still together in a manner of speaking. HOSEA: She hasn’t been home in two months and I haven’t touched her in eleven months. JOSHUA: Ouch! HOSEA: The last time I saw her we argued. JOSHUA: As usual…nothing new and surprising there. HOSEA: I wanted to know who the father was and she wouldn’t tell me, but I know she probably don’t have a clue who it is. JOSHUA: Gomer will never be tamed Hosea and the sooner you accept that the better for all of us. Everybody in this city knows about her affairs. You are a joke to the people in this community. You don’t even preach anymore, your eyes are sinking to the back of your head because you are not eating or sleeping…Maybe its time to let her go. Hosea struggles with the thought. 160


HOSEA: Give me a moment father. I need to pray. JOSHUA: Ok. Joshua takes the crib and exits. Hosea rubs his eyes. HOSEA: Am I being punished for something God? No response. HOSEA: If at any point in my life I found favour in your eyes, then explain this mess to me cause I don’t understand it. Explain it to me God --- or take my life. No response. HOSEA: What did I do to deserve this? No response. HOSEA: Answer me! VOICE: You speak words without knowledge but brace yourself as a man and I will also ask you a question and you will answer me. Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me if you understand. No response. 161


VOICE: Have you ever given orders to the morning, or show the dawn its place? Who endowed the heart with wisdom or gave understanding to the mind? Surely you know this? Hosea is filled with remorse and guilt. HOSEA: I am unworthy --- how can I reply to you? VOICE: I know the pain you feel in your heart…to have your wife turn her back on you time and time again to seek after other men who can’t give her what you can. I know the despair that lingers inside you…wanting to be with her, wanting her to change, wanting her to want you as much as you want her. I know the love that you have for your bride Hosea, the willingness in your spirit to do whatever it takes to find her and restore her by your side. I know Hosea and now you know as well. HOSEA: Was this a test? VOICE: How else would you understand? HOSEA: What am I supposed to do now? 162


VOICE: I think you have already answered that question. HOSEA: I need your answer. VOICE: Your ways are not my ways and your thoughts are not my thoughts, but your obedience to my Word has always been reasonably enough. It all comes down to this moment and the choice you will make today. HOSEA: Choice? VOICE: I had a choice to make. Do I purchase mankind with my own blood or leave them to be sold into slavery by the devil and eventually die…The question I had to answer was, “Is man worth saving?” Hosea…every sinner is worth saving despite the enormity of their sins. I love them, and I know you love her…but the decision has to be yours and the tide is about to change. LIGHTS UP @ SL Celeste enters, goes to the door and knocks.

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HOSEA: What do you mean when you say the tide is about to change? No response. Celeste knocks with even more urgency. Hosea goes to the door and opens it. Celeste walks in. LIGHTS FADE @ SL HOSEA: You are the last person I would expect to show up at my door. CELESTE: I am only here because Gomer is in trouble. HOSEA: You know where she is? CELESTE: No…but I know who she is with. A slave trader named Eric. If he leaves with her on his ship, we will never see her again. HOSEA: How did she get involved with a slave trader? Celeste shows some reluctance in responding. HOSEA: Tell me! CELESTE: Her last lover abandoned her leaving her indebted to some very dangerous people. She had to sell herself to spare her own life. 164


Hosea struggles with the news. HOSEA: What is your name again? CELESTE: My name is Celeste. HOSEA: Celeste, I gave up my reputation for Gomer. Lost whatever respect I had in this community as a Prophet and am now a father of three, two of which I’m not even sure is mine. I have shed a lifetime of tears these past three years running behind Gomer, hoping for change and dealing with her overly cynical friend (raises a eyebrow at her) who has miraculously showed up at my door, just to tell me I’m gonna lose my estranged wife for good. Why? CELESTE: I came to ask for your help. HOSEA: You don’t even like me. CELESTE: True that…but I aint no fool. No man has ever loved Gomer like you and maybe it was envy or just plain bad mind, but you’re the only man who never left her and now she needs you more than ever. 165


HOSEA: What am I supposed to do at this stage? What can I do? CELESTE: If there was a chance that you could save her…would you? HOSEA: How? CELESTE: I know men like Eric. They all about business. He will release her to you for the right price. (Takes out some money from her bag) Gomer is my best friend. I have always cared about her but I could never give her what you can. (folds the money neatly) This is all the money I have, but it’s not enough. Celeste gives the money to Hosea. She also takes out a piece of paper. CELESTE: Eric’s number is on that piece of paper. (Hosea looks at the paper) I may not like you very much Preacher man, but I know you will do everything you can to help her. Celeste turns and walks to the exit. Celeste stops without turning around. 166


CELESTE: You don’t even like me. Hosea takes her by the shoulders and turns her around to face him. HOSEA: God loves you. Should He expect any less from me? CELESTE: (Meets his eyes) This is probably the first time you have looked at me without contempt in your eyes. Joshua comes out. JOSHUA: What’s going on? HOSEA: We have a guest father. Please give her anything she needs. (He goes for his bag of coins) JOSHUA: What are you doing son? That’s the money you have been saving to buy your house. HOSEA: Is money or a house more valuable than a human life? Joshua is not sure what he is taking about, so he withholds a response. Hosea puts the money he got from Celeste into the bag. HOSEA: I will be back soon. He exits. Celeste looks at Joshua…he seems familiar. 167


CELESTE: Don’t I know you? JOSHUA: (Tries to hide his face) Nope. LIGHTS FADE @ SR SCENE 10 LIGHTS UP @ SL Eric paces back on forth with his cell phone pressed to his ear. Hosea enters carrying a bag. Eric sees him and cuts off the call. ERIC: This is a nice neighbourhood. HOSEA: You must be Eric. Eric looks at Hosea from head to toe. ERIC: I must be stupid to make you convince me to come to a dump like this. Do you know how strange my limousine looks parked along the road right there? This better be worth my time. HOSEA: You have a girl that I want. ERIC: Nothing strange there. It’s what I do. HOSEA: Her name is Gomer. Eric raises an eyebrow. ERIC: What do you want with a washed up prostitute? 168


HOSEA: She’s my wife. Eric raises both eyebrows…then begin laughing. ERIC: Look, I’m not even going to try and wrap my mind around this….but business is business. You want the girl, you gotta pay and you don’t look like you can afford much…not that a wash up bimbo is worth anything on the market these days. Hosea gives him the bag of money. Eric looks inside and is wide eyed. ERIC: You could buy yourself three decent, clean mistress with this much dough. HOSEA: I only want her. Eric shakes his head not quite understanding. ERIC: Well, business is business. Wait here. Eric exits. A beat. Eric brings Gomer in. ERIC: She is all yours. Have fun! Eric leaves. 169


Gomer is unable to meet Hosea’s eyes. She is torn, dirty and depleted of almost all her physical strength. Hosea walks to her and embraces her. GOMER: I know that I am nothing to you but a constant pain, so why’d you come for me? HOSEA: I made a vow remember. For better or worse, in sickness and in health until death do us part. GOMER: I don’t deserve this, Hosea. HOSEA: That’s it right there Gomer. Would you believe that when God came to earth to die in your place, he saw you right now and still He died anyway. He believed that you were worth saving, that all of us are worth saving. GOMER: I have caused you so much pain. HOSEA: You have helped me to see and understand the heart of God.

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GOMER: I spend every moment with you thinking that one day I will wake up and it will all be gone. I’m not used to men staying with me longer than an hour. I expected you to leave. I lie awake at nights remembering some of the things I did, the people I hurt and the many unresolved issues in my past. HOSEA: You have to be willing to start over…rebuild your life and learn how to live a normal life. I know you can do it. GOMER: I don’t – I don’t think I can. I don’t know how. HOSEA: With God all things are possible. Let him take you out of the old life. Accept the new life He is offering you and even though you might not see it now, believe. Give Him a chance. Give us a chance. GOMER: Why would God save me? HOSEA: Because, that’s what love does. Gomer breaks down. 171


GOMER: Save me God. Change me. I don’t want to be broken anymore. I need you so much more than I was willing to admit. Forgive me God. Hosea embraces Gomer again. HOSEA: Gomer, what will you be doing for the rest of your life? GOMER: What do you mean? HOSEA: I was hoping you would spend it with me. Tears amidst smiles and hugs. Hosea takes his wife home. LIGHTS UP @ SR Joshua and Celeste are on the couch. CELESTE: I still can’t believe that was you. JOSHUA: Yeah, and I must say its nice having a conversation without you trying to take off my shirt. Hosea and Gomer enter. Celeste is ever so excited to see her friend. She goes to her and hugs her. Joshua squeezes Hosea’s shoulder. JOSHUA: I guess now you are officially broke. 172


HOSEA: Yep. JOSHUA: And stuck with me. No leaving and cleaving for you son. At least not for now. HOSEA: I am thinking it might not be such a bad idea to stay here with you. I have 3 kids and probably will have more, so I don’t mind the help. Joshua shakes his head. He goes over to Gomer. JOSHUA: My son loves you. GOMER: I know --- and you have all reason to hate me and you should --JOSHUA: If my son can love you as much as he does --- should you expect any less from a father? Gomer hugs him tightly. GOMER: Thank you.

LIGHTS FADE @ SR A beat. Hosea comes out at SL with his Bible. He faces the audience.

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HOSEA: People of God, if you will permit me…I want to share with you the unmerited Love and Favour of our God. (Celeste comes out and stands behind Hosea) Unmerited in that we do not deserve it, nor is there anything we could humanly do to deserve it. God loves us because He wants to. (Joshua comes out and stands beside Celeste) I used to think I was different from you sinners because I accepted God’s love and you refuse to. Used to think you were ignorant fools to keep turning your back on God to serve other gods. I would have gladly sent you all to hell. (Gomer comes out and stands beside her husband. She is dressed more modestly and the heavy make-up and wig is gone) I was wrong to judge and condemn you. It don’t matter who you are, whether a prostitute, a criminal, a witch or a murderer, God loves you as much as He loves me and its free of favouritisms,

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biases and reservations. It transcends culture and races and extends beyond our intuition and human understanding. Fact is, God, who is Supreme and Universal‌loves you so much He designed a plan of salvation that included Him personally making a sacrifice to atone for all our sins. Listen to this testimony. GOMER: I was on a road that led to death. The pleasures of sin only last for a season and eventually it destroys, but God stepped into time and gave me a choice. (Takes the hand of her husband) Hosea is just a man and he would have done anything to save me. I think I can understand my Creator being willing and able to do exceeding abundantly beyond that which I could think or imagine. If God could change me, He can change you. HOSEA: We were created with the power to choose and we have always chosen death, but God has

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made provisions for us to choose life ---abundant eternal life. How will we respond to His everlasting and unmerited love? There is and will always be only two types of people. Those who accept God’s Love, and those who reject it but the choice has to be yours! Celeste steps forward. She takes the bible she found out of her bag and holds it out to Hosea. CELESTE: I think this is yours. HOSEA: (with a smile) Not anymore. CELESTE: (in tears) I have been reading it. (Considers for a moment) I want what you guys have. I want to be saved. (Breaks down) Gomer hugs her. LIGHTS FADE TO BLACK NOTE FROM SCRIPTWRITER Please feel free to send your feedback and comments to cleveland@christianplaywright.org. It is always a pleasure hearing back from you. God bless! 176


CMcLeish The LoveDare An Original Stage play By Cleveland O. McLeish www.christianplaywright.org Copyright © 2011 Cleveland O. McLeish. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED Love Unity & Compassion, Written by Linda C Tardy Characters: SCRIPT C We all have issues, and sometimes others in the ministry may not know what’s going on in your home, job or ministry. Some of us come to church brokenhearted, downtrodden, perplexed, and we need support, love and compassion from others in our ministries, some of us need to go straight to the Altar before entering in prayer with their ministries as Deidra needed…. Deidra: A young lady struggling, lost her job, house, no money, no where to live, yet she’s strong in the Lord; Praise dancer at her church home; she has about 3 years of college, and she was working toward her degree, but she experienced some financial setbacks and had to put it on hold. Now she’s surviving in the STORM! She had received an eviction notice to move, and had (3) more days to be out of the apartment. Sandra: Well off, educated, military background, makes 100K per yr., well dressed, attends church every Sunday, sings in the Choir, she’s a mother of one daughter, who is a college grad, one sister who is not saved, distant from her family, and a workaholic. 177


Chondra: Lead Praise dancer at her church home. She is a strong woman of God. SCENE 1 Deidra calls Sandra to leave her a message, that she did not have a place to live. Sandra returns Deidra call. Sandra: Hi Deidra Deidra: Hi Sandra Sandra: I received your message. I will be leaving to go out of town for 2 weeks, on a job assignment. You can come stay here until you get yourself together. I have an extra room. It used to be my daughters room, but I am sure it is big enough for you. Deidra: Thank you so much! Sandra. I really appreciate that. Sandra: Okay, I will pick you up in the morning. Sandra arrived a Deidra’s apartment at around 10am. Sandra helped Deidra move her clothes and other items to the car. Deidra had given away all of her furniture to needy families. It broke her heart to give away her $700 Beauty rest bed. But she could not take those things with her. The room she was moving into was very small. While riding in the car: conversation takes place Sandra: You don’t need to go to the store; there is plenty of food at the house Deidra: Okay. Arriving at the house; Deidra looks up at the door; there was a sign on the door that read, “The Tabernacle.”

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Deidra: The Tabernacle? Sandra: Yes, the Tabernacle. I too had lost my job once, and I got this house through the grace of God, and I was unemployed. I got a job after moving into this house, so I named it the “Tabernacle,” a place where I would meet with God. Deidra: Oh, Okay. I can understand that. Sandra: I had trouble out of my neighbors for a while, but then they got use to the name on the door. Going into the house, Deidra and Sandra both got settled in. Sandra: Deidra, here is a pair of slippers for you. The slippers were soft and looked like sheep fur; they were white and soft to touch. Deidra: Thank you so much! That was very nice of you. This is something I really needed. Sandra: Your welcomed Sandra: I will be leaving first thing in the morning. I left some house rules on the table, and the alarm code. If you have any questions, feel free to call me. Deidra: Okay, I will go down to get it, and read it tonight. Sandra: Okay, that’s great! Although Deidra was struggling, in spite of the Storm, she continued to work in her purpose. Deidra was an author; she had been writing in her journal for five years, and she had written 2 Manuscripts, and was working on the last chapter of her first book. The room Deidra had moved into was already furnished. Its was beautifly decorated. Sandra was very organized. Deidra rested comfortably through the night. 179


Sandra: Good morning Deidra Deidra yawns Deidra: Good morning Sandra: I am getting ready to leave out Deidra: Ok, did you need some help with your bags? Sandra: No, I’m good. Sandra: I will see you in two weeks Deidra: Okay, I miss you already Sandra: You will be ok, make sure you turn on the alarm after leaving out. Deidra: Okay, have a safe trip

SCENE 2 God had favored Deidra with everything that she needed. The only items she was able to bring with her were her clothes and her laptop to work on her book. While Sandra was gone, Deidra had completed the last chapter of her first book. Two weeks later Sandra returns and walks in the door Sandra yells up the stairs to Deidra.. Sandra: Hello I am back! Deidra runs downstairs Deidra: Hey Sandra, how was your trip? 180


Sandra: busy & productive. Sandra did not seem very happy, she seemed tired and distant. Deidra noticed her character, but she continued to keep the peace Deidra: I know you can’t wait to relax yourself 2 hours later Knock, Knock Knock! Sandara knocks at Deidra’s bedroom door. Sandra had been out and about, shopping and returns home Sandra: Deidra!! OPEN THE DOOR!! Deidra: The door is open, its not locked!! Sandra storms into the room, shouting at Deidra, Sandra:“THERE’S A SPIRIT IN MY HOUSE!!” Sandra throws anointing oil in Deidra’s face three times, shouting with a angry tone, Sandra:“Get out spirit in the name of Jesus!! Then she slapped Deidra in the face, and kicked her in the leg twice; and Deidra was blocking her face, and shouting Deidra: WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU SANDRA, STOP, STOP HITTING ME!!! Then Deidra got tired, and hit Sandra back, she hit her in the mouth. Sandra grabbed her mouth, and shouted… Sandra: I want you out of my house, get out! Find a shelter to go to Sandra leaves Deidra’s room, and SLAMS! THE DOOR. 181


Deidra gets down on her knees praying and crying out loud… Deidra: OH GOD WHAT IS GOING ON!! WHY IS THIS HAPPENING TO ME!! WHY HAVE YOU ALLOWED THIS TO HAPPEN TO ME!! PLEASE HELP ME!! O’LORD, I PRAY FOR SANDRA, WHATEVER IS GOING ON WITH HER, SEND THE HOLY ANGELS IN THIS PLACE, AND FIGHT MY BATTLES, REMOVE THAT SPIRIT OF THE DEVIL FROM THIS PLACE; NOW O’LORD, BIND EVERY HINDERING SPIRIT; IN EARTH AND IN HEAVEN; LOOSE YOUR PEACE, JOY UNITY; LOVE, GREAT COURAGE AND CONFIDENCE O’LORD IN HEAVEN AND IN EARTH; HOLY SPIRIT COME AND COMFORT MY HEART, COMFORT SANDRA’S HEART O’LORD; HELP US; HAVE MERCY ON US O’LORD; FORGIVE ME O’LORD; FORGIVE SANDRA O’LORD… Deidra gets up in the bed and falls asleep… There was no sign of Sandra, she went into her room and did not come out until the next morning. Deidra and Sandra attended the same church… The next morning Deidra had to ride with Sandra to church… ALL HELL BROKE LOOSE ON SUNDAY MORNING… AGAIN, the spirit of the devil rose up in Sandra… Sandra: Good morning! Deidra, are you going to church? Deidra: Yes, but I do not have a ride Sandra: Don’t you think I know that? Be ready in 30 minutes!! Deidra: Okay. Deidra and Sandra gets into the car. Sandra: I want you out of my house today!! Deidra: If you would give me some time I will find a place to live

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Sandra: You don’t have any time!! Don’t say anything to me, or I will throw you out of my car. Deidra gets quiet, she realizes that Sandra had some kind of problem going on, so she did not say anything else until they got to church. Deidra: Thank you for the ride. Sandra: I told you not to say anything to me. Sandra reaches out and pushed Deidra in the shoulder more than 3 times, until she pushed her out of the car. Sandra: GET OUT OF MY CAR!!! Deidra remembered not to hit her back, she was pushed out of the car, and she sits on the curve at the church crying… not feeling like going in to minister dance unto the LORD, or joining in prayer with the other dancers…. Deidra: Oh Lord I can’t go in the church and praise you today in this state of mind, help me O’Lord. Deidra gets up and goes into the church. The moment she walked into the Praise Dance room, she met with the dance leader… Chondra/Dance Leader: Hi Deidra, are you ok? Deidra was crying… Deidra: No… Deidra broke down and fell into the arms of the Praise Dance Leader. Chondra embraced her, and other dancers joined in and prayed over her, supporting her. Chondra told Deidra to lay down on the floor; the dancers spreaded a beautiful colorful garment on the floor for Deidra to lay on…. The dancers layed hands on 183


Deidra and prayed, praying in the Spirit… and just loving on her… SCENE 3 Afterwards, they left Deidra alone to rest… When Deidra got up she felt revived, like she had been to a revival, she was ready to go and Praise the Lord with all of her heart and soul… Deidra and the other dancers embraced each other and rebuked the devil and went into the Sanctuary together to Praise the Lord; they Praised and Worshipped the Lord in the Spirit…. They even prayed for Sandra… It is now after 3pm church service is over…. One of the Praise dancers took Deidra home… Deidra walks in the door… Sandra: Deidra I need to speak to you. Deidra walks over to the dinning room and set at the table with Sandra across from her. Sandra: The Lord has spoken to my spirit, he told me to give you the money to move and get your own place… Deidra knew it was God, and that the prayers of the righteous availeth much, the praise dancers prayers had reached the portals of heaven. Deidra shouted hallelujah within herself. Answering carefully…. Deidra: Okay, thank you…

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Sandra: I will help you look for a place to stay. I have already started looking in the Sunday paper today. Here you can look in this section. Sandra: Also I want to apologize to you for hitting you. I am sorry, will you accept my apology? Deidra: Yes, I accept your apology, and God still loves you. He loves us both in spite of our ways… I am sorry too, for hitting you. We serve a mighty God! Sandra: Yes, we do… One day later Deidra moved out of Sandra’s house… Sandra and Deidra embraced each other and said goodbye...

God wants us to love one another unconditionally; the way he loves us. Because of the support that Deidra got from the other Praise dancers, she felt like praising the Lord again. We need more than just prayer time… we need more than just to meet in a room for prayer, but to saturate our environment with anointing and prayers., fragrance and aroma… We need to compliment one another, not destroy each other, or talk about each. We are not dancers, we are ministers; of reconciliation, reconciling the lost to Christ; and we need to focus on winning lost souls and come away from the ignorance, immaturity and silliness. We need to create the same atmosphere of DNA that brings forth love, unity and a strong relationship with the LORD O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones God's messengers! How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn't let me. (Matthew 23:37)

This prayer was from Jesus’ heart. His body is meant to walk in unity. The Body of Christ must come together as one.

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John 17:23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.

Unity and Harmony Prayer Father, in the name of Jesus, this is the confidence we have in You, if we ask anything according to Your will, You hear us: and since we know that you hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desire of You. Your Word and Your Will are one in the same. Father, you said behold They are one people, and they all have one language; and this is only the beginning of what they will do; and now nothing they have imagined they can do will be impossible to them. Gen.11: 6 Amplified Bible We declare by the name of our Lord Jesus that all of us in Your body are in perfect harmony, and in full agreement in what we say, and there are no dissensions or factions or divisions among us; but that we are perfectly united in our common understanding and in our opinions and judgments. Holy Spirit You have taught us how to agree (harmonize together, together make a symphony) about anything and everything, so that whatever we ask will come to pass and be done for us by our Father in heaven. We declare as members of the Body of Christ, we do live as becomes us, with complete lowliness of mind (humility) and meekness (unselfishness, gentleness and mildness) with patience, bearing with one another and making allowances because we love one another. In the name of Jesus, we are eager and strive earnestly to guard and keep the harmony and oneness (produced by) the Holy Spirit in the binding power of peace

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We declare in the name of Jesus and according to the power of God at work in us, that we are of one and the same mind (united in spirit) sympathizing (with one another) loving (each the others) as brethren of one household), compassionate and courteous--tenderhearted and humble-minded. We never return evil for evil or insult for insult, scolding, tongue lashing, berating; but on the contrary blessing, praying for their welfare, joy, and protection and truly pitying and loving one another. For we know that to this we have been called, that we may ourselves inherit blessings from God, obtain blessings as heirs, bringing welfare and joy and protection. Father, thank You that Jesus has given to us glory and honor which you gave Him, that we may be one, even as You and Jesus are one: Jesus in us and You in Jesus, in order that we may become one and perfectly united, that the world may know and definitely recognize that You sent Jesus and that You love us as You have loved Jesus. Father, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven, Amen

Here is how, by faith we are to walk in unity: Scripture support‌ Eph 4:22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; Eph 4:23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; Eph 4:24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. Eph 4:25 Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another. Eph 4:26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: 187


Eph 4:27 Neither give place to the devil. Eph 4:28 Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. Eph 4:29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. Eph 4:30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Eph 4:31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: Eph 4:32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you. Eph 5:1 Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; Eph 5:2 And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.

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About the Author Linda C. Tardy was born and raised in Washington, D.C. She is continuing her education at ORU Oral Roberts University, pursuing a degree in Communications/Arts. She is a student at the Jericho Christian Training College and has decided to devote her life to the Lord. She is president of Visionary Ministries, parent company of Visions Christian Magazine, Inc., and Vision House Publishers, She is a published writer, poet, and the author of three books, Ripples in the Water, For Such a Time as This: Humility Before Honor, and Life Is a Divine Setup (New Beginnings) an “Anthology,� a collection of real-life testimonies, articles, book excerpts, and playwrights.

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Divine Setup  

This book is about how God designed our lives

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