Discomfort for Mr Macaroni

slow food pasta art workHeaven is a prepared place for a prepared people.”

Mr Macaroni boiled hearing Moody’s words. He’d always been something of a limp noodle, and today he was doubting his choice of employment. It had always been tough making decisions, but once made one he was left feeling deep regrets. When the clock struck 5, Macaroni was ready to get sauced.

Despite his constant indecision, Mr Macaroni was as true as a man could be. He was no impasta when it came to living, but his new job as a dental assistant was leaving him feeling a bit al dente.

He quickly exited the office on his way to the Meat Ball to dance with his sweetheart, a beautiful Italian gal named Penne. All dressed up, he straightened his little bow tie and slicked back his thick blonde angel hair with a bit of olive oil.

As he stepped from the sidewalk into the street, humming “On top of Old Smokey all covered with cheese,” Mr Macaroni was still steaming. A motorcycle with gleaming chrome twin-forks raced toward him. He never knew what hit him and instantly pasta way.

A moment later Mr Macaroni opened his eyes. Before him were the golden arches and beyond was the dazzling White Castle he’d always heard about. Macaroni was greeted by a choir of French guys singing, “Welcome to the realm of Burger King and Dairy Queen.”

A stout fellow calling himself Big Mac approached and laid a whopper of a story on him about being dead and forever living in the presence of the King. “If you’ll lettuce, tomater my friends and I will take you in-and-out through the kingdom.” It gave Mr Macaroni the shakes.

He hadn’t been at ease with people when he was alive, now an eternity with them was unbearable. He wasn’t made for a place like this. He hadn’t wanted anything to do with the king while he was alive and he didn’t want it now. He longed to have it his way and he wasn’t lovin’ it one bit. Mr Macaroni wondered, “Why did the King bring me here if I didn’t want him back when I was living?

If you don’t enjoy King Jesus today, what makes you think you’ll enjoy eternity with Him?

In My Father’s house are many mansions; it if were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also (John 14:2-3).

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Scare the Hell

Scare the Hell 10 2015Marcus went to bed earlier than usual. The morning would bring a special day for the 13-year old. He was trying out for his junior high school basketball team and needed to be rested and ready to make the squad.

From out of the hallway he heard the clock chime its familiar tune. It was 2 am. “So much for going to bed early if I don’t fall asleep early,” he thought to himself.

A short time later Marcus awoke to a screeching sound and the smell of smoke. In the same hallway where the clock chimed every hour hung the smoke alarm. He heard his parents yelling and his two baby sisters crying. He was scared. Just then his bedroom door smashed open. Marcus jumped hastily from his bed and followed his father through the smoky hallway to the front door. He could feel the searing heat of the flames as he rushed past the kitchen.

Safe outside, the family huddled in the street as the police arrived and then a fire truck. Now every part of the house lit up the night sky. Marcus felt dazed by what he was seeing. Everything he had … everything he knew … it was gone. He was sure he was going to puke.

The young teen turned in the street toward the sidewalk just in time to walk into the path of a passing car, the driver looking at the fire rather than the road. Marcus was dead.

Just because you scare the Hell out of someone with tales of everlasting fire, the mark of the beast, or a world war, doesn’t mean he is safe in the arms of Jesus. Threats and fears don’t convert men; only grace through faith in Jesus saves.

 Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved (Acts 16:31).

Ma and Pa’s Love

SalHillbillyCouple

Billy Bob and Martha Ray got hitched one spring afternoon in their little Ozark hamlet. The tiny church was packed with their friends and family, which were the same group.

The couple got right to business and over the next fifty years, Billy Bob and Martha Ray raised 8 boys and girls, all named “Billy.” Neither had more than a third grade education, but made sure their children each continued in school until the sixth grade. Holidays were especially wonderful as the family dined on raccoon instead of the usual squirrel or possum.

Husband and wife never traveled more than five miles from the village they’d always lived in.

Work always came early; they were up and busy before dawn. Enjoying the last few minutes of the evening before bed, the two sat on the porch of their humble shack, Ma puffing on her corncob pipe and Pa chewin’ a wad a tobaccy. Martha Ray broke the silence. “Pa, how come in fifty years ya ain’t never told me ya love me?”

Billy Bob sat quietly, the only sound was the squeak of his rocking chair on the splintered floorboards. After a minute or two, he spit against the white oak tree he’d planted as a child. “Woman, I said I loved ya the day I married ya. If I ever change ma mind, I’ll tell ya.”

The Bible says that God is love (1 John 4:8), and if God never changes (Malachi 3:6), then His love for you will never change. Nothing will ever be able to separate us from the love of Christ (Romans 8:35).

My Resume

my-resumeThere isn’t much to my resume. The education section is short, my work history is not much more. I grew up in a religious home, the daughter of an Episcopal priest. I barely made it through high school. I graduated and ran away from home to live in a Christian commune in California delivering newspapers, sorting carrots, picking daffodils, and washing dishes.

When I mistakenly decided I was good with God, I bought a car and ran away in the middle of the night with only $30 in my pocket. Only a few years ago did I really learn of my sinfulness and need of Saviour.

Looking back, I learned a lot during those earlier years of life. I added to my knowledge of Jesus and learned to play the guitar. I also learned and lived a lot of things I wish I hadn’t. Who knows where I’d be without those experiences, but those experiences don’t work on a job resume.

My resume for Heaven is more substantial because having Jesus is all that really counts.

As Christians, we are each writing an eternal resume of the things we’ve accomplished for His glory. We don’t have to put down our sins because they don’t exist to Him; they’re just blank space on the page. His interest is in what we’ve done to honor Him.

I’m not great, but Jesus thinks I’m amazing because of what He’s doing in me. It’s not always easy to accept, but He loves me for who I am.

By the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me  (First Corinthians 15:10).

– Written by Kimberly Rice

The Lamb of God

Cold grey mist lingered in the air just above the ground, typical this time of the year. Another spring morning in Bethlehem, and the thin layer of green grass poked through the littering of rock.  Legend is that when God created the world, the angel carrying rocks from Heaven accidentally spilled most of his load all in one place: Israel. Any visitor to Bethlehem might wonder if the legend isn’t true.

Only days before, shepherds began leading their flocks out into the fields to pasture. The weather had been too cold up until then for the ewes and their little lambs to be in the fields all night. Today would be their first to remain outside together. In a few hours the fog would burn away, the sun warming the ground and the sheep’s fine wool.

The morning of anticipation was added to by the arrival of a man and his wife into the cave the sheep called home. There was plenty of room with the flocks leaving for the pasture lands, but many would wonder at the wisdom of these city folk in a sheep pen.

The night grew dark except for the pinpoints of a thousand stars in the sky above. Sheep lay still in the short-walled enclosure while shepherds warmed themselves by the fire, telling tales of mysteries of long, long ago. Without warning the black sky burst with a brilliant light as thousands of tiny stars erupted into glorious figures of heavenly angels singing with choral voices: GLORY TO GOD IN THE HIGHEST, AND ON EARTH PEACE, GOOD WILL TOWARD MEN (Luke 2:14)!

The shepherds hurriedly made their way back to Bethlehem and the cave they had abandoned earlier in the day. There, these keepers of sheep and little lambs found a Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. This newborn Child, hailed by the host of Heaven and seen by keepers of sheep, was the Lamb of God who taketh away the sin of the world (John 1:29).

The Man in the Mirror

good-morning

My ankles were stiff as my feet hit the floor;                                                                  I wobbled and hobbled on my way to the door.

I glanced in the mirror and who did I see?                                                                      A confused old man so much unlike me.

A beard of white covered his chin,                                                                                    and baldness rested where hair once filled in.

Around his eyes were wrinkles quite deep,                                                                      and circles of black from a lack of sound sleep.

The hair in his ears was long and white,                                                                        his eyebrows and nose hair, so disturbing a sight!

He squinted and stared observing my face,                                                                    I peered right back not moving a pace.

Who was this strange man looking out from the mirror?                                              Then my wife walked in saying, “Good morning Dear.”

Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, before the difficult days come, and the years draw near when you say, “I have no pleasure in them.” (Ecclesiastes 12:1).

 

A Last Will and Testament

WillI sat in the leather chair with my trembling hands holding the single sheet of paper. I didn’t understand. One more time I read the words, “The Last Will and Testament of Jesse G Goddard.”

Nearly all of my 52 years of life I’ve lived next door to “old man Goddard.” The man had always been the focus of name-calling and ridicule from us boys growing up in the neighborhood. We even made up jokes about him and his name. Frankly, I can’t ever remember speaking to the guy about anything serious or even kind. There were a few times my brothers and I would accidentally toss the baseball into his yard over the fence. He’d always toss the ball back to us, but I’m not sure I ever said “Thanks.”

“Why did Mr Goddard pick me?” I asked the attorney behind the paper-buried desk. “Why would he give everything to me? What did I do to deserve this inheritance? Why would he be so kind? There must be someone else … someone else more worthy.”

All he would say is: “Mr Goddard willed it this way.”

God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:4-7).

The Healer

the-healer

The world is getting stranger and stranger by the day.

Things really started getting weird when a “healer” came to town and set himself up on a nearby street corner. Every kook in the county was there. They claimed that blind people got back their sight, deaf people could hear again, and even paraplegics got up and walked. The word on the street was that the “Christ” had arrived.

Now, I’m just as spiritual as the next guy. I believe in God, I pray, I have a Bible. Once-in-a-while I’ve even gone to church, but these healings are either fakes for publicity or some kind of mass-hysteria. Everybody needs something bigger to believe in.

Last Tuesday this “Christ” showed up at Kinneret Point with a mob of his groupies. The story is that he walked right up into one of the boats and started preaching to the crowds on the shoreline. The harbor master called the police, but there were just too many people involved for the police to do anything.

After about an hour, the “healer” told – not asked, but told – the fishermen to put the boat out to sea and drop the net. These guys had just finished cleaning and mending their nets after being out all night when the Christ showed up.

The captain, a guy named Simon, said they’d been out all night and hadn’t caught anything. Times are tough on the local fishermen with the new government regulations, but this Christ seemed so insistent, Simon was afraid of a boycott and set the boat out. His men dropped the net, and if you can believe the story, it was immediately filled with so many fish the net began to break. He called another boat to come out and help. Both boats were so full of fish that they nearly sank! True! I saw the story on the 5 o’clock news.

The reporter interviewed Simon and his two partners. In more than twenty years of fishing they’d never seen anything like it before.

A professor from the university said that it was just a freak school of fish Christ’s followers baited with chum earlier in the day to stir up publicity. Could be, but it convinced the fishermen. Simon and his partners shut down their business the next day and sold everything to become followers of this new Messiah.

What would motivate “normal” businessmen to leave everything behind and follow a street preacher? One of my friends says it’s just a gimmick to make easy money off the gullible. Others think things are so bad that people are looking for anybody to come along and save us from this mess.

Honestly, I don’t know what to think. But for me, I’m more than happy working for the IRS. It’s great money, the hours aren’t bad, and I get a kick making people squirm. My job doesn’t make me popular, but since when have I wanted to be popular? There are more important things than popularity: six figures for instance.

But I keep wondering what I’d do if He came by and said, “Matthew, Follow Me.” What would make me walk away from my job, my money, my family, my home … everything, to follow Him? Oh, well, it’ll never happen to me. Why would this Jesus want a guy like me anyway?

Then Jesus passed on from there, He saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, “Follow Me.” And he arose and followed Him (Matthew 9:9).

My Day in Paradise

morning-in-paradiseThis morning I woke up and took a jog on the beach. The warm sea breeze, clear blue water, and powdery white sand made me dream about living here for eternity. It was my day in paradise!

Not long after I started out, I noticed a shining object in the water ahead. I picked it up and found it to be a golden lamp, the kind you would expect to see in Disney movie about a singing princess a long time ago in a Middle East desert.

I rubbed the sand from the lamp and a genie appeared. I know what you’re thinking right now, but I swear it’s the truth! The genie offered me one wish. I thought about all the possible wishes I could make. Had the genie not pressed me for an answer, it may have taken a thousand and one nights to narrow down my thoughts to just one.

“I wish for a copy of tomorrow’s newspaper!” I said. As the genie vanished in a puff of smoke the newspaper materialized.

Relaxing under the shady fronds of a palm tree, I opened the paper to the financial page and began making a list of all the stocks I would purchase back at the hotel. By my count, I’d be a millionaire by tomorrow!

I laid the newspaper down, tilted back my head and inhaled deeply. I shuddered to think that the choices I made today would change the rest of my life.

One last look at the ocean and I jumped up to go call my stock broker. I reached to pick up the newspaper and saw on the back page the obituaries. My name was at the top of the page with the headline: Man dies of heart attack in his sleep.

Jesus asked, What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? (Mark 8:36).

Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2).

Pounding and Peace

pounding-and-peaceThe darkness of my first night settles, but the pounding continues. I’ve heard constant pounding for so very long, more years than I can remember.

The pounding of the hammer has changed my body. My hands are thick with calluses, my skin darkened by the sun, and my arms more muscled than in my youth. The change would not have been so dramatic if I’d had more help. Though the work ended just over a week ago, I still hear that bang! bang! bang! that shakes and rattles even my bones.

Through the pounding of the hammer God spoke to me of a coming miraculous sign. I was uncertain, but when the animals approached I knew it was Him who spoke. Animals of every sort, more than I could count, more than I could describe came to me. And still the pounding. The pounding of hooves and feet, marching, clopping, banging.

Today the pounding continued, but not the banging of hammer against nail or hoof against floorboards. Today was the pounding of raindrops against this great vessel my sons and I have spent our lives building. Once my family entered, the hand of God closed the door behind us and the rains began pounding against the ark so hard and fast that the boat was lifted from the ground. It would have been amazing to see the work of my hands finally float, except for what came next.

After an hour or two, the pounding of rain was drown out by the pounding of fists. For decades I’d been warning everyone that He was going to judge the world for its sin. Awful, terrible things, many I’ve only heard about, but things so bad I can’t even mention. Still the warnings went unheard.

Knowing what was coming didn’t prepare me for hearing my friends and family, neighbors and strangers, screaming to be let into this ark of safety. First the voices were mostly friendly, then the banging and shouting turned angry, then panicked. Slowly, as the pounding rains raged harder and harder against the boat, the pounding of the fists and the damning voices vanished into silence. If only they’d listened. If only they had believed.

So here in my bed, with the dim light of a candle, the pounding of the winds and rains continue. God said this will last only 40 days and 40 nights. That means 39 to go. I have no idea what I’m going to find when this is over. I can’t begin to imagine, but I hope . . . no . . . I pray to the Just God of the universe, that one day the pounding will stop and I’ll find peace.

Then God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the animals that were with him in the ark (Genesis 8:1).