The Hen and the Sheep

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The storm raged on the Hoffer Farm, sending all of the kids down to the basement for shelter. Before anymore water could leak into their house, the parents decided it best to get them dry, warm, and out of the way from this ice storm.

Candles lit, blankets covered them, and Mara Hoffer led the children in songs they learned in Sunday School as her husband, Daniel, sought to repair the sighting that was ripped away by the wild torrent sweeping across their fields.

Tori, the youngest Hoffer, noticed that her dog, Ghost, was pacing wildly by the foot of the stairs. She broke from the family’s huddle to see what upset Ghost. The golden retriever squealed, scanning the room feverishly with her brown eyes.

“What’s the matter, Ghost?” she asked as she looked in Ghost’s bed. Ghost, recently, had pups and kept them altogether in her bed. Tori counted the pups, discovering that one was missing.

“Smirk is missing, isn’t she?” Tori asked Ghost and the dog simply paced wildly, trying to find her missing daughter.

Smirk could never stick with the pack, always wandering away from the Hoffer family and Ghost’s small band. Even at a young age, Smirk had gotten into mischief by chewing up Mara’s work boot and gnawing her way through the family’s garbage. Daniel Hoffer once said that Smirk was headed for a one way ticket to “doggy heaven”.

He was kidding, but on that night no one laughed considered that possibility.

The swing of a door opening sounded upstairs and Ghost shot up the steps. Tori heard her father yelp and a small crash followed. She ran upstairs and found her father on the floor with the door wide open.

“Ghost just ran past me and knocked me over. She ran outside and couldn’t be stopped,” he said.   “Stay here, Tori. I’ll go fetch Ghost. She can’t be outside on a night like tonight.”

“Come here,” Mara said to her daughter. “I’m reading the Scriptures.”   Tori sat next to her mom, wrapped up in a blanket as the family’s old Bible was read. “O Jerusalem, O Jerusalem, thou hast killest the prophets, and stonest them-“

“Why did Jesus say that?” Thomas asked, Tori’s eldest brother.

“Jesus knew that Jerusalem, like all cities, try to do things on their own. They wander away from God’s plan and are miserable.” She continued to read. “…how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens-“

“I don’t understand. Let’s read another passage, mom.”

She stumbled through the Bible at random. “’And Jesus said to them, ‘What man shall there be among you, that shall have 100 sheep, doth not leave the 99 in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost until he find it?”

“I still don’t understand.”

They decided to put the Bible on the shelf and sing some more songs. The storm whipped and howled outside, the children were safe inside, and Daniel had not returned. One by one, the Hoffer children went to sleep with Tori being last, waiting for her dog to return.

The next morning, the children awoke to do their chores. The storm had passed and sunlight returned to their valley. Tori, when she awoke, quickly learned that Ghost had not returned to her bed, caring for her young pups.

When Tori got outside, her father asked her to follow him to the edge of their property. Mounting his horse, they headed across the acres of land they ripped apart by the wind and ice. As the horse slowed to a stop, Tori’s father hugged her tightly and said he loved her.

Quickly, her eyes were drawn to the brown color of Ghost’s coat. She approached her dog, slumped by the side of a tree, still and cold as the ground.

Before the tears, before it sunk in to what happened Tori had to hear it first from her father. “What happened?”

“As far I can figure, Ghost left our house to find Smirk. She found her, but they couldn’t get back to the house. So Ghost placed her pup next to the tree and, with her own body, provided a shield from the ice and the wind.” Smirk quickly emerged from Ghost’s still repose. A quick bark, Smirk ran over to Tori.   “Ghost gave her life so that Smirk wouldn’t catch cold from the storm. She gathered the pup close to her, saving her life.”

Tori shut her eyes and her mouth turned into a square as she inhaled right before she cried.

 

An hour later, Tori returned to the farmhouse holding Smirk. Mara had told Tori’s sibling of Ghost’s passing as they quietly finished up their breakfast.   Tori took her usual seat at the table, never letting Smirk go as she ate.

“Can I get you anything?” Mara asked.

“Can we say grace? I’d like it if you could use that Scripture we read last night in our prayer. The one about the hen and the sheep.”

“Sure,” Mara said. “Dear Jesus, you are like our good friend, Ghost. You gathered us up when we wanted to go our own way. You kept us safe. You died for us. And you keep us close and safe today. Hold us close and teach us not to wander. Thank you for this food. A-men.”

Smirk squealed and Tori pet his small head as she began to eat, trying recall everything that was said in the Scripture about the Hen and the Sheep.

The Warrior

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The light of the sun could still be seen over the amber colored tree-line. Summer held it’s fury, baking the prairie lands as midnight loomed and the stillness of the forest reigned.

Emerging from the bush on the summit that cradled the Missionary’s camp came the Cree Warrior. In his hands he held a fearsome hatchet, the perfect tool for cutting through spruce and poplar. He knelt beside the fireside, facing the white man across the smoke and light.

In his best English, the Warrior stated his purpose. “I come to make peace with God. As a gift, I bring this fine tool. I ask if this is enough to bring peace between God and me.”

The Missionary downcast, eyes pointed to the fire. “No,” the Missionary said. “It is not enough.”

The Warrior left heavy-hearted.

Time elapsed as the days grew shorter. The bite and chill of the Fall came, as leaves escaped from their trees. The ground crackled, the air filled of rain and pine, and game flooded the woods.

On a crisp September night, the Cree Warrior returned to the summit which was home to the Christian missionary.

The Warrior held a bow and arrow. The bow marked with several pictures depicting the hunting exploits and victories of the Warrior. He made the bow when he was young, aided by his grandfather. The bow was as old as many of his fellow warriors, but still could send an arrow through the neck of a bear or stop a moose in its sprint.

“I bring gift,” the Warrior said. “A bow and all of my arrows. It is a gift to your God. I want your God to be my God. Is this enough to make peace with God?” He laid the gift in the fire, allowing it be consumed instantaneously.

“No,” the Missionary said. “It is not enough.”

The Warrior left heavy-hearted.

Fall turned to winter as the sun vanished behind the steel colored clouds and the frozen horizon. Wind whipped across the land, freezing it to a rigid ice.   The Warrior returned to the roaring fire on the first day of the European calendar. Folded in his arms rested a thick, full blanket made from buffalo hide and fur.

The Warrior laid it upon the fire with a belch of smoke devouring the blanket instantly. “I bring this as a gift to your God,” he said. “Is this enough to make peace with Him?”

“No,” the Missionary said. “It is not enough.”

The Warrior left heavy-hearted.

The snow retreated, the land became soft and wet with rain. The sky’s tears fell over the land, turning the wide fields of snow into a swamp. One night, wet and cold from the rain, the Warrior returned to the summit of the Missionary.

The Warrior held nothing, brought nothing to the summit. He knelt before the fire. With sadness in his voice, tears stained his face as he spoke. “I have nothing left to give to your God. I bring only myself. I give myself and all that I am, can do, and own before your God. I wish to make your God my God. Is this enough to make peace with your God?”

“Yes,” the Missionary said. “That is enough.”

I learned this story, decades ago, from my ministry with Christian Service Brigade. I had forgotten most of it until recently, when my study of the Bible brought me to Romans 12:1, “Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God.”

There is a myth that we can be a Christian AND still do everything we please, fitting God into our lives when it is convenient. However, Scripture says that the opposite is true: we are to give everything to God, daily surrendering our lives to Him.

This is tough, which is why we daily use God for help with this task. However, we begin this journey of faith by saying, like the Warrior, “I give myself and all that I am, can do, and own before God.” God, then, gives us the grace to fill in the difference of our offering.

And this shall be enough.

The Wonderful World of Big Finish Productions

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         ”When telling a story, use your medium and don’t be limited by it.”

This is an ancient storyteller’s trick.

If in the woods and you’re telling a ghost story around the campfire, it helps if the horror involves people in “just around these parts”.

If telling a story with a microphone, make “pfff” sound into the device: it shocks the audience by this exclusive sound effect.

If you’re Charles Dickens and writing about the pervasive, distorting effects of bureaucracy, liken it to fog. And in the first pages of your novel “Bleak House”, repeat the word “fog” over and over and over again.

If you’re David Lean and you have to shoot a climatic scene to your movie “A Bridge Over the River Kwai”, make certain you blow up the bridge.

Us the medium: this is true for our friends with Big Finish Productions.

Big Finish Productions was born out of what many Doctor Who fans would call the “silent years”.   In 1989, the BBC cancelled the show and gone was “Saturday Tea Time” to watch another fresh episode of the show[1]. In America, I was in High School when the cancellation was heard around the world. It was a loss: Doctor Who carried me throughout my Elementary School days, Jr. High, and into High School.

With it no longer being a TV show, Doctor Who exploded into other forms of media. During this time, Doctor Who beat the Guinness Book of World Records for having the most books written about a fictional character. The comic in Doctor Who weekly jumped into bold and new directions. Virgin Books came out with new adventures of the last syndicated Doctor, getting new companions (like Bernice Summerfield) and telling the story as it further went along.   The BBC tried some experiments with radio television[2], but it took a group of well-connected fans to launch their own company in 1999: Big Finish Productions.

The excitement, as a fan, was to hear very familiar voices do stories I had never heard before. The first exposure I had to this line was in 2002. I was vacationing in San Antonia, Texas. A friend of mine borrowed his dad’s convertible and we were going to cruise the city. Going through the radio’s needle, we picked up something a college radio from Austin and it was a broadcast of Big Finish’s “Land of the Dead.”

I went nuts, begging my friend to give this a listen. Graciously, he gave it about fifteen minutes until he couldn’t bear it any longer: he was not a Whovian. In a kind way, he stopped us from cruising the Texan night life in a convertible, listening to Doctor Who, and trying to be cool.

A few years afterwards, I standing in a 2-hour line at San Diego ComiCon to get a book signed by Ray Bradbury. I struck up a conversation with a kindly 17 year old kid from Texas[3] and he was talking about the reboot of Doctor Who. It was 2005. He reassured me that it was fantastic, worth all of my old Who obsession, and had I heard of Big Finish’s CDs. I hadn’t, but after seeing the Dean of Science Fiction, I found a booth selling not only Doctor Who Big Finish, but also their spin-off Gallifrey series.

A few months later, I moved to Northern Alberta in a small farm town and pastoring for 9 years without any ready access to geek culture. But I continued to enjoy Big Finish radio dramas of Doctor Who via mail. It kept my 1990’s CD Discman alive as ran around the Canadian prairies, listening to these freshly baked Doctor Who episodes.

When I first entered into this world of Doctor Who Audio Dramas, I kept asking myself the same question, “Boy, this was great! Why didn’t they make this into it’s own TV show?”

This question, after my second year of listening, faded.   Why? Because Big Finish soon grew into their own thing, their own type of story.   They took over the medium of the ear and filled it with their own type of stories. Now, I am convinced that many of their stories would be lost in translation when adapted to the tiny screen.

Here are some examples of when Big Finish owned the ear:

 

  • Dark Eyes: Fugitive There’s a scene when the Doctor is on the run with his new companion, Molly, and they go to a world where they dive into a floating pool in the middle of space. Paul McGann dives into this pool and yells, along with Ruth Bradley. The combination of their acting, the music, and the sound effects gave a rush of emotions to this moment that would have been lost if you had to just see the dive.

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  • …Ish This tells the story of a super computer that knows everything ever written and might, possibly, be going crazy.   There’s a cliffhanger ending when those around the Doctor, in a trance, repeats the word: “Ish”.   It’s unsettling and creepy, but would like kind of forced if it was done visually.

 

 

  • Doctor Who Companions: The Mahogany Murders This is a break, because the Doctor isn’t in this on and it sets up for my favourite spin-off, Jago and Litefoot.   In this story, the medium are two friends sharing a pint and they fill each other in on the parts of the story the other one missed. The special effect: two really good actors chatting. Ever have a conversation where you felt: “This would make a great movie!” No, it wouldn’t. It’s a really great chat instead.

 

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The point in all of this is that there is a magic when a storyteller owns their particular medium. Rather than wanting to tell something a better way, look around and own what is available to tell the story. “Oh, I wish this was a TV show,” wasn’t what held this company back by making award winning stories.

A school teacher who can make a book come alive in her classroom; a friend who can hold court over the phone with a “I can’t believe this just happened…”; a minister who, by reading the Book of Common Prayer, makes the story of Christ come alive by just the sound of his voice; and the writer who refuses a movie deal to her novel because her words wouldn’t come alive on the silver screen…

It’s owning the medium, making the message part of how we say it.

[1] Although truth be told, the Saturday slot had been lost for some time. It was just the cultural institution of Doctor Who being in association with Saturday Tea.

[2] The Professor and Ace

[3] Did he know about College Radio?)

The Kingdom of God is Like A Really Unpopular Wedding

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Reggie Stewart, when he became a dad, quit his positions on his church’s boards and councils. Some feared he would cease being involved, but all he did was change his focus.

He took up curling, got on board the Chamber of Commerce, volunteered as a reader at the schools, dressed up as Santa for the kids on his street, and organized block parties within the communities. When asked why, he simply said, “I’m getting the community ready for Bethany.”

Bethany, his daughter, was a beautiful girl. She always followed her father around throughout her childhood- being an elf when he was Santa, helping other kids read at the school, or quietly coloring in the corner as her dad sat in town meetings.

Many feared she would outgrow the status of her father’s “tag-a-long” when she turned teenage, but womanhood brought out her involvement that much more. She started her own projects, making friends in her small town as she sought to help out wherever and whenever she could.

She also turned that much more beautiful as she purposed to copy her father’s activities. She turned them all the boys courting her good looks, to their sadness, but kept alive the dream within her heart: walking down the aisle as a bride.

She left for University and many people believed that to be the last of Bethany Stewart, but she returned as a teacher and with bigger news: she was engaged.

Her future groom was a chip off the old block of Reggie: generous, strong, and always hospitable. In fact, the closer she got to her boyfriend, the more pretty she seemed to be.

The date set for her wedding, the trio made the painful decision to have her married at their tiny Baptist Church, limiting the ceremony and reception to only about sixty people. Only family and church members were invited, with an apology to the rest of the community.

The invitations were sent and the weeks leading up to the ceremony were packed with rejections. People were too busy. It was a long way to drive. If they stayed in town for the wedding, that meant they wouldn’t be able to shop in the city that weekend. The roads to the town were bad. The kids had sports.

One woman from Bethany’s church put it plainly. “I love Bethany, but I’d rather keep my visits with her only on Sunday morning.”

The night before the wedding, Reggie knew the church would be empty and Bethany’s dream would be crushed.

Then he had an idea. First, we ran it by her future husband and he loved it. Reggie always knew they were kindred spirits and he thought much the same way as Reggie. Still he had one condition: only if Bethany agreed.

The morning of the wedding, Reggie slipped into the beauty salon where Bethany was getting ready. He whispered the reality that few were attending the ceremony and then his plan. With a great stride, she took it in without any tears and whole-heartedly agreed with the plan.

Reggie no sooner than the parking lot was on his cell phone. He called all of his curling buddies and explained. “Guys, my daughter is getting married today at 2pm and the church is empty. There’s now room for everyone. Get the word out: everyone’s now invited to Bethany’s wedding.”

And word got out. Through calls, texts, messaging, and anything that sent information, word got out: Bethany’s getting married in an empty church and everyone’s now invited!

When Bethany arrived a couple minutes before 2pm, she was confused when the town’s constable met her at the street of the church on the other side of the blockade. She stepped out and soon found out why: the aisle extended outside of the building, across the church’s parking lot, and into the street. Over 400 people attending, all wanting to see Bethany get married.

Some wanted to see how pretty she would look in white. Some wanted to meet and see what kind of groom she was marrying, the boy who seemed to bring out better than her best. Some had been touched so deeply by Bethany that this was their way of thanks. And some knew, deep within their hearts, they needed to be a party of a wedding.

So she walked, in beauty and grace, down the aisle and into the church. Bethany was married and it was beautiful.

During the reception, Reggie was pulled aside by one of his buddies to the attention of Del Hill. Del was a local farmer and came just off the fields, dirty and smelling of a hard day’s labor. He was working on his third helping of food, wearing torn and oil stained jeans and a t-shirt that only fit him ten years ago.

Reggie approached Del, asking him to look around at everyone dressed in their best clothes for the wedding. Del countered, “Yeah, but I heard it was a free party. Free food, free dancing.”

“Yes,” Reggie said. “It’s free, but it cost a lot of people to put this party together. Plus, just because it’s free doesn’t mean you’re not someone else’s guest. You are my guest and the wedding is on my terms, not yours. I expect everyone to dress for a wedding.”

This offended Del who barely knew Bethany. He refused to go home and change. He stormed off, leaving the lights and beauty of the wedding.

However, within five minutes, few noticed his absence. Instead, the attention went back to Bethany as they caught excitement of the day: she was getting married. And soon, they got to know her groom and imagined, with wonder, what great life was to be lived as she grew closer and closer to this young man.

Now, at this point, many of you expect me to draw this in with the passage of Scripture I based this story upon….but I’m not going to do that. I’m not even going to quote Matthew 22:1-14 or Luke 14:15-24 where I found this story.

Instead, I want you to find a Christian who you know, whom you trust, and point them to this article. Ask them these loaded, guiding set of questions, “How is the Kingdom of God like a wedding banquet? Where is Jesus and God, the Father, in this story? And what does this say about the church and our community in the retelling of this parable?”

 

Just Like That: Check Out My New Novel, I Got Published!

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I’d like to say that when I heard this axiom I changed my life and now I live with that discipline. But truth be told, I’m always writing and, when I heard this proverb, I agreed with a resilient self-righteousness. Most of us don’t like adding new rules to our lives; we just like making rules based upon what we already happen to be doing.

I’m always writing. That isn’t a promise that I’m writing better than before, or that my writing is spectacular, or that my writing is getting worse every day.

I just write.

When friends, who are non-writers learn this about me, many give into the impulse to recommend that I get published. “Why?” I ‘d ask. “Then, if I was published, people would read my work.” Sometimes the myth and legend of J.K. Rowling would be shared: a single mother submitted a manuscript to be published and when she got published, she became a billionaire.

A friend of mine who is a published writer shared with me a dirty little reality, “Your friends still don’t read your books. I’ve given them away and they sit on their shelves. If you write fiction, the next question is whether or not a movie will be made of your work. Because then, if it’s a movie, they’ll see that.”

So, a writer writes without the need of publishing to justify his/her workings, or a writer writes without a movie deal.

This sounds tremendously epicurean of me, denying any sort of pleasures and seeking only an audience of “1” in my writing. Sure, that sounds noble … but it also is untrue.

If I didn’t write for anyone, I wouldn’t edit. I wouldn’t seek out other readers to tell me if what I’m writing is crazy or not. I wouldn’t collect rejection letters from publishers. I’d write my stories in emoticons. When I got writer’s block, I would retell old Doctor Who episodes, because it’s not plagiarism if no one ever reads it.

But yes, I have an audience in mind and, yes, that audience includes real people.

So now I’m published. Yes. Just like that. After 30+ years of writing. Just like that.

Here’s the story.

I have a friend who is also a writer, a really vivid type of writer that makes HD type of fantasy worlds. We edited each other’s works through a writer’s group and I grew to be a fan of his writings. He also jumped into the publishing arena and asked if I could submit one of my novels. He founded the amazing company Inevitable Unicorn Press also known as InUPress, and the rest, as they say, is history.

I picked a novel that was shaped and inspired by the town, High Prairie, where we knew each other from. The town is almost a silent, invisible character in this alternative world tale. High Prairie is a town where the land was so wide, so powerful that it dictated how one moved and lived and worked. You could either fight with nature or work in harmony with the land. Essentially, the idea behind the book is harmony with one’s setting.

Here’s a blurb about the novel:

Deep in the Northern Canadian woods, stalks a killer capturing young women and turning them into horrible creatures. Roaming the woods is a bear made of beast, man, and metal. The forest screams, slowly turning into machine.

Deep in the Northern Canadian woods, a school opens teaching young adults the craft and science of inventions. A mix of orphans and aristocrats, they fall in love, form friendships, and one seeks to betray them all. For Dr. Allbrung – their teacher – it’s just a normal semester filled with moving houses, robots, and steam.

This new novel, The Exhaust from the Tin Woods, seems to be a familiar trod in young adult steampunk, but it’s twisted on it’s head and the genre is rebooted. It’s a mix of science fiction, humor, philosophy, and romance.

It’s a mix of Umberto Eco, Canada, Wendell Berry, and, truth be told, a bit of Doctor Who. The term “Steampunk” can be overused, but it is that type of genre.

To buy the book, here’s the link:

https://www.amazon.ca/Exhaust-Tin-Woods-Eric-Kregel-ebook/dp/B072HGVYYX/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1495641845&sr=8-1&keywords=exhaust+from+the+tin+woods

My authorial website is:

http://ericjkregel.ca/author-eric-j-kregel/

Please check out these links, and look up my book, as it’s now the first time my fiction has been bathed in the light of print.

And now it’s happened. I began this blog with the stoic view of writing – a writer always writes – and now I’m actually getting excited because I now have a book published. A book that I want everyone to read because I think it’s … fun. Yes, fun (and I don’t have a fancier, smarter, better way to describe it than that word: fun.)

This is what happens: you do a rhythm based on who you are and when it yields something exciting, you enter into the very delight of the thing.

So please check out my novel.

© 2017 By Eric J Kregel with Inevitable Unicorn Press

www.ericjkregel.ca

Who Do You Carry Your Rock For?

 

74ae812ce4604fd4f318404049bb9edd            This is a story from the Greek Orthodox tradition I am retelling. It’s a fable, not found in any Bible or history book.

 

One morning, the Disciples woke up and found their Master, Jesus, already breaking down their camp. “Come, follow me,” he said and left the camp. They followed, not having their breakfast or any water.

As he walked down a familiar hillside along the Galilean coast, he gave them some instruction. “Pick a rock and carry it with you. We shall go for a hike this morning.”

All of the Disciples took a rock with them, Peter being the last in the line. An idea struck him, “If I carry too big of a rock, it will be a burden and weigh me down.” By this reality, he found a very small pebble and carried it.

Throughout the morning, some disciples who carried large rocks, grew tired. Not Peter. He would wave the pebble in front of them, grinning at his cleverness as how he could follow Jesus and still be comfortable.

The noonday sun rose overhead and Jesus had his group of Disciples stop for a break. “Behold,” Jesus said. “I now have turned your rocks into bread. Eat and be refreshed.” The Disciples were amazed because, quite suddenly, their rocks were turned to breakfast.

Only problem was that the size of the rock proportioned to the portion of bread. For James who carried a mini-boulder, he held a two-fisted roll; John enjoyed a loaf to the size of stone he carried; and Peter held nothing but a crumb.

The Disciples would have shared with Peter, if it was anyone else. But Peter was Peter and had tortured them all that morning with his pebble and the eas of his burden.   They left him hungry.

“Come, follow me,” Jesus said. “Pick out another rock and walk with me to the sea shore.”

Peter, this time, wouldn’t be outdone. He found the biggest, heaviest boulder he could carry. With the Disciples carrying differing sized rocks, they all had to wait for Peter’s great burden.

Again, Peter was confronted with another problem: the shoreline was 2 kilometers away. He told himself he wouldn’t be outsmarted and was going to get a large lunch, making up for the trick with his breakfast.

Peter heaved, sweated, and grunted all the way down the shoreline.

Jesus and the Disciples waited for him. As soon as they were all at the beach, Jesus commanded, “Now, throw your rock into the water. The distance of the toss shall be equal to the blessing given to you.”

The Disciples tossed their rocks, watching them all disappear into the horizon. And then they left, to enjoy the blessing given to them by Jesus.

Peter, meanwhile, didn’t really throw his stone, but just let go and allowed it to roll a bit into the water. He then sat on the rock, arms crossed in a pout.

Back turned to Jesus, Peter did everything to let his displeasure be known. Jesus waited a few moments and then sat on Peter’s rock next to him. “Why are you angry, Peter?” he asked.

“It’s not fair. I received a very small breakfast and almost no blessing. And everyone else around me had more than they could eat and now are enjoying a wonderful day. Look at me, I’m stuck on this stupid rock.”

“The others, you so carefully compared yourself to, did what I asked them to do and only what I asked them to do.”

“But I did what you asked me to do. I carried two rocks for you.”

“But why did you do that? They carried their rocks because I asked them to do so. Nothing more than simple obedience. Why did you carry your rocks?” Jesus then rose, leaving Peter with this question: “Who did you carry your rocks for?”

Why do some of us go to church? Why do others of us help out with the Food Bank and other worthy, charitable organizations? Why do we go to work? Pick up out kids from school? Go to bed at night? Clean the house? Make the meals?

Who do we carry our rocks for? Are we like Peter, hoping to do the right thing and also gain an advantage over the rest of our community by comparison? Do good and to be rewarded as a good person? Or do we do what’s right simply because it’s what is being asked of us?

All of us, in a variety of degrees, follow God. If we do what is right, we follow God for He is the author of what is right. But why do we do good things? Why do we follow God?

The purity of our motivation will always be in direct proportion to our knowledge and experience of God. Simple truth. For God is pure and when, as the human race, have learned what it is to be pure from Him.   Therefore, if our motives are pure they will be in relationship to our relationship with Him.

How pure are your motives in High Prairie? Who do you carry your rocks for?

 

 

 

Running to Avoid the Night

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One night, a man had a dream.

He found himself in a middle of a desert with the supernatural ability of speed, giving him the opportunity to barely out run the sun. He could, as long as he ran at top speed, always see daylight as he chased the horizon. However, if he slowed down or even stopped, the sun would set and daylight would escape him.

The sun turned into an orange ember, sinking behind the high horizon of the desert. As the pain of night brushed against his skin, he set to run: chasing the remaining daylight.

He ran, leaping over hills and charging through valleys. The sun’s setting was fast, but he could keep up. He ran down a series of dunes, with sand splashing from his feet as he zipped through the burning light of dusk.

In his distance, he saw a figure of a man approach him. The figure was also moving fast, yet it was not running. As it approached the man, he felt the pain of night’s darkness tickle his back.

No, he resolved. Night must not find me. The darkness, the confusion, the doubt, the loss of control, the pain. Must run, must ran faster to catch the remaining light of dusk.

So he ran faster towards the sunset, charging up a mountain’s side and away from the night and the approaching stranger. Looking over his shoulder, he soon realized that the stranger was still close on his trail. Without running or seeming to apply much energy, the figure gained on the man.

And with the figure, night followed.

No!, he screamed inside of his head. I will not lose the light, the comfort of day. I shall not be found in the darkness of night! Must run…faster.

He ran faster, leaping over whole valleys and mountain peaks in a solitary bound. Hot air swooshed through his hair as he pursued the last of the sun’s light, always feeling the cool prick of nighttime behind him.

Running-at-Night-or-Daytime-2

He looked behind him and saw the figure had vanished. His spirit soared as he believed he had escaped, at last, his pursuer. He turned around and faced a long, level plain full of sand, small trees, and the hovering, deep orange sun as it began to melt over the horizon.

And ahead of him, the figure returned. It stood in between the sun setting and the runner. The man realized if he wanted to outrun night, he had to face this stranger.

The figure grew and grew until finally the man recognized him. The stranger was Jesus Christ, standing and waiting for the runner to approach. As Jesus stood meters aay from the man, he motioned him to stop. The man obeyed. Night soon swelled behind him as the last minutes of daylight were lost. The man grew desperate as Jesus stood, without, moving, in the heart of the desert.

Finally, Jesus spoke. “You are running the wrong way,” he said.

“But I must, Lord,” the man said in protest. “Night is coming soon and I must escape it. Night is pain. Night is doubt. Night is having to lose control and become helpless to the darkness. I cannot enter the night.”

“You must, for your race is futile otherwise.” Jesus put his hand on the man’s shoulder. “Rather than running, trying to catch the last bit of sunlight of dusk you must turn and run the opposite way. Run through the night. Run through that which you fear and I will meet you on the other side, in dawn’s glory. Run through the night and see me in morning’s pleasing light.”

And the man awoke.

I see too many people running, chasing the dusk of their lives. They run, making themselves busy in their jobs or families, so they never have to feel pain, experience doubt, or discover that something might be seriously wrong with themselves or their world. They run, pursuing illusions or a false front or a comfortable life…while escaping the night that belongs to them.

For some, nighttime can be pain from the past; for others, it could be the recognition of a mistake; and for many, they are running from the biggest nighttime: the cross of Christ (Think about it, something was crucially wrong with us that Jesus had to die a painful death so that those, who call on his name, can be repaired).

Those that run miss out on so much. True, they miss the pain of the night; but they also miss out on dawn’s light and the marvel seeing God in a new day. For those running, stop. And for those in their own night time, know that morning is coming. And for all of us, know that Christ is the master of the dusk, the night, and the morning.