Friday, October 30, 2009

What Else Did He Say?

What Else Did He Say?

Do you really know what Jesus taught? If you've never read it before, why not now? And if you've read it a hundred times, why not again? Let it be fresh and new for you!

Jesus speaks in the Gospel of Matthew...

As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. "Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men." At once they left their nets and followed him. Matthew 4:18-20

Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them saying: "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 5:1-10

"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven." Matthew 5:14-16

"You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous." Matthew 5:43-45

"This, then, is how you should pray: " 'Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins." Matthew 6:9-13

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Matthew 6:19-21

"And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." Matthew 6:28-34

"So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets." Matthew 7:12

"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven… "Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash." Matthew 7:21, 24-27

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." Matthew 11:28-30

He said to them, "If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable is a man than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath." Then he said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." So he stretched it out and it was completely restored, just as sound as the other. Matthew 12:11-13

Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?" Matthew 16:24-26

At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me. But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea." Matthew 18:1-6

Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." Matthew 22:37-40

"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.' Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?' The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'" Matthew 25:34-40

Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, "Sit here while I go over there and pray." He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me." Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will." Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. "Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?" he asked Peter. "Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak." Matthew 26:36-41

Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." Matthew 28:18-20
I hope that you have enjoyed this mini-series on Jesus so far. Let me know if you have any questions or comments!

Friday, October 23, 2009

I Am...

Dear friends,

In my last post, I asked the questions, “Who is Jesus?” and “Why does it matter?” I didn't really answer those questions, though!

I’m going to let him speak for himself on the first question! These verses are taken from the Gospel of John.


I AM the bread of life.

Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty." John 6:35

I AM the light of the world.

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12

I AM the door.

Therefore Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep." John 10:7

I AM the good shepherd.

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me...." John 10:11-14

I AM the resurrection and the life.

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies." John 11:25

I AM the way, the truth and the life.

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." John 14:6

I AM the true vine.
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." John 15:1, 5


So why does it matter who Jesus is? Because who is affects who I am in him! When I trusted Christ to save me, I became a new creation, beloved of God! These descriptions of my identity in Christ come from the Freedom in Christ Ministries web site, Is this what you want for your own life?
Who I Am In Christ

John 1:12 I am God's child.

John 15:15 As a disciple, I am a friend of Jesus Christ.

Romans 5:1 I have been justified.

1 Corinthians 6:17 I am united with the Lord, and I am one with Him in spirit.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 I have been bought with a price and I belong to God.

1 Corinthians 12:27 I am a member of Christ's body.

Ephesians 1:3-8 I have been chosen by God and adopted as His child.

Colossians 1:13-14 I have been redeemed and forgiven of all my sins.

Colossians 2:9-10 I am complete in Christ.

Hebrews 4:14-16 I have direct access to the throne of grace through Jesus Christ.

Romans 8:1-2 I am free from condemnation.

Romans 8:28 I am assured that God works for my good in all circumstances.

Romans 8:31-39 I am free from any condemnation brought against me and I cannot be separated from the love of God.

2 Corinthians 1:21-22 I have been established, anointed and sealed by God.
Colossians 3:1-4 I am hidden with Christ in God.

Philippians 1:6 I am confident that God will complete the good work He started in me.

Philippians 3:20 I am a citizen of heaven.

2 Timothy 1:7 I have not been given a spirit of fear but of power, love and a sound mind.

1 John 5:18 I am born of God and the evil one cannot touch me.

John 15:5 I am a branch of Jesus Christ, the true vine, and a channel of His life.

John 15:16 I have been chosen and appointed to bear fruit.

1 Corinthians 3:16 I am God's temple.

2 Corinthians 5:17-21 I am a minister of reconciliation for God.

Ephesians 2:6 I am seated with Jesus Christ in the heavenly realm.

Ephesians 2:10 I am God's workmanship.

Ephesians 3:12 I may approach God with freedom and confidence.

Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.

Who is Jesus? (And Why Does it Matter?)

Dear friends,

"Who is Jesus and what is he really like?" How often do most people even think of that?

If you don’t consider yourself to be a Christian, the thought might not cross your mind very often. But unfortunately, even for those of us who are Christians, sometimes he is more of an abstraction, a formula for how to get to Heaven, than he is a real person. Even at Christmastime, the story of his birth can take on fairy tale qualities. The same goes for Easter. Just like folks who only go to church for those two holidays, many of us only think of his life in terms of the beginning and the end of his story. But what happened in the middle? What did he say? What did he do? And why does it matter?

I would like to challenge you to find out. Read the gospels for yourself! Start with the Gospel of John if you aren’t familiar with it. I think you will be amazed. The cool thing is that since hae is a real person – one who is still living in Heaven – he’s more than willing to help you in the process. Just ask.

For the rest of this post, I’d like to list a variety of resources that can help you get to know Jesus.

If you want a real Bible study project, I invite you to read all four gospels concurrently. I downloaded a chart that lists the corresponding passages in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John side by side, and I’m picking through it a little each day. I started doing this a few weeks ago in response to an interesting note that Brian Bennett (a Lutheran pastor and the husband of my cousin Mary Lynne) posted on Facebook a few weeks ago. He linked to a blog post by Professor David Yeago, The Scriptural Christ, questioning why more pastors don’t regularly preach about the life of Jesus. This struck me! This article I am now writing is one result because it’s not just about sermons, but about how each of us thinks and communicates.

Jesus Without Religion: What Did He Say? What Did He Do? What's the Point? by Rick James is a great pick for people who want a culturally relevant description of the life of Christ for those who are not familiar with the story or its significance to their lives.

The 7th-8th grade English class that I teach at our home school co-op has been studying the novel The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare. Set in the time of Jesus, it follows the story of Daniel, a zealous young outlaw who is trying to overthrow the hated Romans. This book does an excellent job is portraying Jesus as a historical person, and how his teachings and actions affected those around him. Click here to see my Bronze Bow study guide.

One week I had to stay home sick from class, so I sent in a copy of The JESUS Film for them to watch. You can view it on-line here: This movie has been translated into over 1000 languages and shown to billions of people around the world. Learn about this amazing ministry at

I also shared with my class the classic poem “One Solitary Life” by James Allen Francis. Looking for it on-line again, I found a beautiful flash version set to music and nature photography. You might also like to see my own poem, Corpus Christi which is about what Jesus did on earth and how we can live in response to that.

In the month of December, my English class will do an Advent study with Scriptures, poetry, fine art, music, and film. Click here to see last year’s assignments. Just before Easter, we will do a similar study on the death and resurrection of Jesus.

My daughter Mary gave me the book, Then Sings My Soul Special Edition: 150 Christmas, Easter, and All-Time Favorite Hymn Stories by Robert J. Morgan. Several of the pieces are ancient Christmas carols. I have chosen, “Of the Father’s Love Begotten” by 4th century monk Aurelius Prudentius, for my class to sing at the co-op Christmas assembly this year. Wishing I had a CD version of this hymn, I happened to pick up my old copy of All Glory, Laud and Honor (compiled by Diana Waring) that I hadn't listened to in quite some time. And there was the song! Glory be! Listen to an on-line version of this carol here: "Of the Father's Love Begotten" soft version and Kemper Crabb and Mysterium performing on folk instruments.

You can order free copies of the Gospel of John from the Pocket Testament League to give to others. For Christmas distribution, they even have ones with a picture of a candy cane on the cover.

Looking for a way to introduce your child to the story of Jesus – starting in the Old Testament? The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name picture book weaves the thread of Jesus as the promised Messiah thousands of years before his birth. The illustrations are pretty funky and the text is both quirky and poetic. Here is a more complete description from the Christian Book Distributors web site: “The Jesus Storybook Bible tells the story beneath all the stories in the Bible. At the center of the story is a baby, the child upon whom everything will depend. Every story whispers his name. From Noah to Moses to the great King David--every story points to him. He is like the missing piece in a puzzle--the piece that makes all the other pieces fit together. From the Old Testament through the New Testament, as the story unfolds, children will pick up the clues and piece together the puzzle. A Bible like no other, this book invites children to join in the greatest of all adventures, to discover for themselves that Jesus is at the center of God's great story of salvation--and at the center of their story too. Recommended for ages 4 to 8.” You can see inside the book with links on this page: Jesus Storybook Bible

We have always loved the animated Bible story videos produced by NEST Entertainment. Thanks, Grandma, for giving us the series when our older kids were young!

How did I come to know Jesus in the first place? Read it here: My Story of Liberty in 1976!

And finally, a poem that I mentioned earlier in this blog post...


"One Solitary Life"

by James Allen Francis

He was born in an obscure village,
The child of a peasant woman.
He grew up in still another village,
Where he worked in a carpenter shop
Until he was thirty.
Then for three years
He was an itinerant preacher.
He never wrote a book.
He never held an office.
He never had a family or owned a house.
He didn't go to college.
He never visited a big city.
He never traveled two hundred miles
From the place where he was born.
He did none of the things
One usually associates with greatness.
He had no credentials but himself.
He was only thirty-three
When the tide of public opinion turned against him.
His friends ran away.
He was turned over to his enemies.
And went through the mockery of a trial.
He was nailed to a cross
Between two thieves.
While he was dying,
His executioners gambled for his clothing,
The only property he had on Earth.
When he was dead,
He was laid in a borrowed grave
Through the pity of a friend.
Twenty centuries have come and gone,
And today he is the central figure
Of the human race,
And the leader of mankind's progress.
All the armies that ever marched,
All the navies that ever sailed,
All the parliaments that ever sat,
All the kings that ever reigned,
Put together have not affected
The life of man on Earth
As much as that
One Solitary Life.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow: Three days in Virginia's Life (Such As It Is!)

Yesterday: Sunday

The Reilly Band, the Christian symphonic-rock group from Philadelphia who gave a concert at Metro Life on Saturday, is helping to lead worship. Two awesome violinists, a married couple, add such a new dimension to familiar worship songs. After the singing time, Thad and I head to the Sunday School rooms, since it is our month to help out. Then home for lunch and nap time. I still haven't finished my quarterly grade reports for the English class I teach at our home school co-op, so I frantically try to finish these up. In the late afternoon, Julia, who has been sick with a sore throat and fever, asks me to take her to CentraCare. We arrive 15 minutes before closing and after a perfunctory exam (and no tests), the doctor diagnoses her with H1N1 and prescribes Tamiflu. By the time we get home with the prescription and eat a quick dinner, I'm starting to feel sick myself and I go straight to bed -- without finishing up checking the kids' homework and making sure their backpacks are ready for classes on Monday morning.

Today: Monday

Today started very early -- because just after midnight Ben woke up vomiting. We cleaned up the floors, made a little bed for him on our floor, and attempted to finish out a night of sleep. Fortunately, he didn't have any more trouble. By the time I finally "came to" in the morning, I decided to stay home from co-op classes with the five younger kids and not risk infecting anyone. But I had less than an hour to get their completed homework ready to send in with Lydia, print out the new homework packets for my own class, and find a DVD to send in for my class to watch in my absence. Later in the morning, I read four chapters of Captive in Kangaroo Springs by Robert Elmer (the second book of his Adventures Down Under series about Australia in the 1800's) and a chapter from A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond. After lunch, I helped the younger girls clean their bedroom while the boys did their own. Julia still felt horrible, so Thad asked me to take her into our family doctor's office. I dropped her off at 3 PM, and he met her there since she didn't want to be alone. This doctor diagnosed her with strep throat, took her off Tamiflu, and put her on antibiotics. Let's hope this works! For dinner, I fixed "fake steaks" (On-Cor salisbury steaks -- cheap and not too high in fat), baked potatoes, and fresh green beans. My daughter Mary stopped by to give me a belated birthday present (a book of hymn histories with a CD) and I gave her a card and present for her husband Ryan, whose birthday in Wednesday. Then my real work began. It usually takes me at least two hours every Monday evening to sort through all of the kids' homework, put the old stuff in archive notebooks, label the new stuff with names and due dates and put them in their "current week" notebooks, etc.

Tomorrow: Tuesday

Tomorrow, we've got to start hustling on getting the week's school assignments done. It looks like a heavy week for some of them! In the evening, I'm supposed to go to the YMCA for the first team meeting for Get Fit. I signed up for this 15 week program, sponsored by Channel 6 and the local YMCAs, to help lose weight and get in shape through diet and exercise. Our team (just one of at least 10 at our local Y and who knows how many in Orlando) will meet once per week, and we're supposed to work out on our own three times per week. And we're supposed to really watch what we eat. OK, so I have about 70 pounds to lose (eventually) and my body fat is a whopping 43%, but I'll be happy to lose even 20 by the time this is over. (Even that will be a miracle.) My big thought about tomorrow, though, is that it's the one year anniversary of the day when my dad was hit by a motorcycle and airlifted to the Shock Trauma hospital in Baltimore. I am SO THANKFUL to report that one year later, he seems to have made a complete recovery. At age 73, he still works full-time in a high level computer job, plus works weekends as a security guard. There is no stopping that man! I sure do love my Dad!


Sunday, October 4, 2009

Art Under the Stars

Dear friends,

Yesterday, Thad and I took our six younger kids to the Matiland Rotary Art Festival, Art Under the Stars. I usually miss these art shows, but I just visited Lake Lily with the kids to feed the ducks a few days before and had seen the signs for it. Thad fixed us a quick dinner on Saturday so we could get going.

Though I enjoyed almost all of the exhibits (and only had to steer the kids away from one or two that were less appropriate for young eyes), I think the booths that I liked best were the oil paintings.

Cheryl Mackey Smith stands near
some of her mixed media creations.

Live music floated through the air all evening. 
I think this guitarist is Tom Evan.

The Maitland Stage Band prepares to play
in the big blue inflatable band shell.

Thad bought a plate-sized funnel cake for all of us to share after we saw our friend Joy eating one. Of course, we all ended up with powdered sugar on our shirts!

I tried getting a picture of the moon glowing over Lake Lily behind the trees.

One of my other favorite booths was Cracked Up Jewelry by Lori Rosenberger of Dunedin.
She makes jewelry and other items out of recycled broken china!
What I loved most, though, was the
chandelier made from a tea pot and tea cups!
(Look closely at this photo, where it is hanging over her head!)

Another Orlando artist, Frederick Hoffman, sculpted intricate designs in real egg shells. The big ones were made from ostrich eggs. This one is a globe.

Toward the end of our time I had to move along pretty fast since the little kids were getting tired. I sure could spend a whole lot longer than two hours looking at art!

Daddy has mercy on Melody
and carried her on his shoulders.

As we headed back toward the van, I noticed a big tree (oak?) laden with Spanish moss. Inspired by the nature photographs I had seen in many of the booths (my favorite being Lee-Margaret Borland), I decided to take a shot at it myself. Unfortunately, I didn't have more than about 30 seconds since Thad was loading our tired kids in the van, and I have a very basic digital camera, so I wasn't able to quite capture the warm colors that drew me in. Don't expect to see me exhibiting my photos at an art show anytime soon!

BUT, you CAN take a look at my daughter Joanna's beautiful photo blog, which has some pics from her recent trip to the Dominican Republic, as well as gorgeous flowers, trick photos, portraits, and more.

I hope you enjoyed this little mini-tour!

Blessings, Virginia

Friday, October 2, 2009

A Parable of Grace

by Virginia Knowles

Once upon a time, a wise and gracious king, longing to mingle freely with the subjects in his dominion, decided to host a huge feast on the castle grounds. So he dispatched his messengers far and wide with an invitation for everyone, from nobleman to common peasant, to come and dine with him. Not wanting anyone to be left out, he made it clear that no one needed to dress up or bring any gifts or food. Everything would be provided through the generosity of the king.

His Royal Majesty was so full of anticipation for this glorious event that he commenced immediately with the preparations. He hired the best gardeners to cover the castle grounds with beds of beautiful blooms and to trim the verdant hedges into fanciful shapes. The finest tailors were called to sew exquisite party clothes for all of the guests. The most talented musicians tuned up their prized instruments to rehearse for a grand symphony concert. Jugglers and jesters, minstrels and mimes practiced their own merry entertainments. Of course, master chefs concocted the most luscious recipes, from roast herbed mutton to succulent spicy honey cakes, to nourish both the senses and the stomachs of all would come. The very air was electric with excitement.

On hearing of this magnanimous invitation, all the citizens of the kingdom set out for the castle in droves, chattering and singing along the way, eager to meet their mighty king face to face. However, as many of them approached the castle walls from the far side, circling round in search of the open gate, they were surprised to discover a tall and sprawling tent with boldly colored banners flapping in the breeze. Near this impressive structure, a short stocky man, dressed in the garments of nobility, shouted forth from his megaphone: “Hark! Tarry here to prepare for entering the feasting grounds! All citizens must pay for their tickets. Then you must either pass an inspection of your clothing or purchase new royal robes from the official feast store. You may also purchase your gifts and food contributions there. After this, you may take your test to make sure that you are talented and intelligent enough to sit at the king’s table. Lest I forget, there will be a health inspection, too. We must not allow any germs to enter the castle gates! Finally, you must present your pedigree, so we may be sure that none are descended from horse thieves.”

The startled citizens gasped in dismay. They thought they had been assured that all were welcome, that the feast was free, and that no one needed to bring anything! They had nothing to offer! What they didn’t realize was that this man, a traitor to the king, was trying to spoil the pleasure of the party for everyone. His strategy was to keep as many citizens as possible away from the feast entirely. In response to their earnest protests, he slyly promised them that they could stay at the tent and work for him until they could earn enough to pay the fees. For an extra price, he would tutor them in courtly courtesies and all manner of sophisticated conversation. Some of the peasants sighed and entered the tent, not realizing that his exorbitant demands were impossible to meet no matter how long they labored for the treacherous nobleman. Others, despairing completely ever meeting the king, trudged slowly back to their huts.

However, still others, trusting the word of the king’s own faithful messengers, continued on their way toward the open gate and the wonderful feast. Garbed in regal robes, they dined sumptuously from the banquet tables and filled their souls with all of the beauty and delights that the king had prepared for them. Best of all, each had an audience with the king himself, who delighted to speak with his subjects, young and old. Then, urged by the king, they went forth from the castle gates, around to the tent, to urge their fellow citizens to ignore the wily nobleman and come freely to the marvelous festival of the king. Then they visited each village, seeking out the hopeless ones who had turned back, bidding them to come again, full of confidence in the king’s promises. Many, still captive to trickery, refused to believe and laughed at their fellow countrymen. But the king rejoiced that myriad precious ones at last ventured forth to meet him and savor all he had prepared for their enjoyment.

This wee parable of grace is but a shadow of a larger and truer saga, one with a Great Rebellion and a Glorious Redemption, written in a Holy Book. And that timeless tale, weaving its way right up to “Once Upon a Here and Now” beckons us to freely enter in to the Throne Room of the King of Kings. Come! The gate is open! He awaits your arrival!

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