Archive for the ‘Chrisitanity’ Category

Coming Against Our Giants   Leave a comment

Growing up in a Christian home as a child I learned early the biblical stories of people; men, women, and children who made a difference or left an impact on the lives of those they came to know, ones they encountered by choice, accident or by divine intervention. One way or other they all left their traces and footprints on the pages of history in the old and new testament, and today we still can learn things, gain new perspective and insight into how their story and what they did can influence and affect our lives by learning from their experiences.

One of my favorites was the stories of David, a small boy who grew up to be a great king of Israel. But, his journey to get there was a long, arduous one. It was difficult, full of obstacles, danger, intrigue, cunning defensive counter attacks, preparation and planning. One would think that the first phase of his military accomplishments should be a long extensive stint of training and knowledge of tactical weaponry and a ‘tour of duty’ serving under Israel’s present king, Saul. But it did not start that way. It started with a mere stone and small sling. How does a young shepherd boy, small in stature, dressed in an animal skin tunic and sandals kill a burly, mean, threatening bully over seven feet tall, armed with steel armor, javelin, spear, and helmet? With faith, confidence and the power of a God that assures us that all things are possible with, and through Him (ref. Philippians 4:13). With the assurance that God was with him in his battles David stood his ground facing his giant.

We don’t know the battles we will face, nor have the option to choose them, the time or place as they might come unexpectedly at any time from any direction or source, and we are faced head on with them. It may not be a lion or bear, or a nine-foot giant dressed head to toe in steel armor with spears or javelins. Our giants come in many shapes, forms, and sizes. The devil chooses weapons that can deceive us, destroy us, diminish and drain us of the things we need to fight with; faith, confidence, and courage.

God’s word comes as a sword preparing us for battle. It is the stone, the rock we carry in our sling that leaves the biggest impact, with the power and strength that knows no limitations to what it can do for us, the giants it will take down and the battles we will win. If God goes before us, we cannot lose, but win. We cannot fail but succeed.

But the enemy is sly, deceitful and deceptive. It looks for cracks in our armor and can gain access if we don’t fortify our walls and strengthen our defense. After David’s victory in killing the giant, Goliath he then had to deal with another, the present king, Saul. From that point on David’s battles came; bigger, greater, one right after the other.

Fortifying our walls, strengthening our defense, choosing our rock determines the outcome of our battles, win or lose. Our battles belong to the Lord to fight for us.

“The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer; my God is my rock in whom I take refuge, He is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold,” Psalm 18:2 NIV

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Joyce E. Mannhalter (Jan. 2020)

 

When at the end of the day

                                Lake McConaughy, Ogallala, Nebraska

When at the end of the day

the sun sets and I watch

amazed as it slowly sinks

lower in the skies

as if bowing to its creator,

warm rays kissing rippled waters

my reverent heart too, bows to His greatness and power

and I marvel at the things He instills into my searching soul

the ways He is teaching me, helping me

through the storms in life,

sustaining me, lifting me,

encouraging me, strengthening me.

When I am weak, though I fail, I will not fall.

He’s there, and I rest assured

that though I know not

what a new tomorrow brings

I know He shelters me in His arms of grace.

_______________

Joyce E. Mannhalter © Sept. 2019

“May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.” II Thessalonians 2:16 & 17. NIV


 

Setting attainable goals

Accepting failure

For the unattainable

can move us forward

~~~

To strive instead for

What is attainable now

That which is in reach

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

In Philippians, chapter 3, verses 12-16 Paul was addressing the church of Philippi about the highest goal of which we can all attain, that being the one called by God; to live according to His plan, for His glory not of our own flesh and earthly desires but of that which brings Him the glory for what he can do through us and in us. We may work hard and diligently at things that are self-seeking, things we want for ourselves, our goals and dreams for those that we think will bring happiness, success and gain. But what is not sanctioned, blessed and directed of and by God can only bring failure, dissatisfaction, and a searching for truth and reward. Only that which God offers can bring what we need and ultimately want to have; what no man or anything on this earth can take away or destroy, that which is called the “highest goal,” the “prize of the high calling of God” that Paul speaks about. To press on, to attain that goal is the easy and best part, but to work at being what God has called us to be requires commitment, dedication and is not self-seeking, but the reward is eternal. So many times I have worked and sought to bring about a result of self-satisfaction and gain for myself in what I have tried to do as a writer, or at anything I felt led to do on my own, only to fail at attempts that proved we are nothing without God and can only move forward by His grace and know a real peace that only He can bring. It is not what the world can give or anyone else but only through Him we have that which is the highest of goals attainable.

“Only let us live up to what we have already attained.” Philippians 3:16 NIV

Joyce E. Mannhalter © August 2019

Reseated

Cliff handed the driver a generous tip, thanked him and walked into the conference hall. Signs and banners announced the launch and grand opening of the new rehab center. Without the sizeable donations and contributions from companies like his he knew they’d not even exist. Equipped with the best in housing, treatment and care they spared nothing to give the doctors, medical personnel and case workers all they needed to facilitate what the residents and patients needed. Except for the director, administrator, and well-placed case workers and professionals it was largely staffed with unpaid volunteers who themselves were recovering alcoholics and former drug addicts, and the like. They’d all been invited to the gala event. The congressman who pushed and promoted the center’s cause and creation into existence promised tax credits and incentives to the big donors funding it. He was running for president in the next election and Cliff, one of his constituents was inclined to get on board with the project. If it succeeded it was a win for them all.

They opened with speeches, introductions and honorable mentions of people significant to its inception. A formal dinner would follow. Cliff moved towards the front of the head table shaking hands, smiling and talking with ones near the director and administrator hoping to claim a seat next to the congressman as he and the director greeted guests and dignitaries.

He stood behind a seat near theirs ready to sit down when the event planner came up to him and said, “Sir, we have these seats next to the director, administrator and congressman reserved for the chaplain, case workers and mentors that work directly with them, but if you will follow me down here to the end of this row we will seat you with another group.”

He glared back at her, then said, “Young lady, do you know who I am? I’m the CEO of Scarsdale Industries and if not for our financial support and funding this event would not even be happening It is because of our involvement that…” he went on a bit too loudly. Heads turned their direction hearing the exchange of words which also caught the attention of a news photographer standing to the side, videotaping it all.

“Yes, sir. Thank you. I’m aware of who you are, but at the request of the director we have placed his staff next to them because of their selfless commitment and time to the program. I’m sure you understand my position. So, if you will please follow me, I will reseat you down on this end with the other contributors and donors.”

Cliff’s face turned red, his eyes, cold as ice glaring back as if in defiance, but without another word just nodded and followed her to the end of the long formal dining table set for the fifty some guests invited.

His dignity suffered a a direct blow from the incident. He came to the gala proud, arrogant and boastful for what he’d given to them, trying to claim some glory for himself with his position in life, but instead walked away humbled, learning a lesson in humility. He found that there is no glory for one who lives only to exalt and lift up himself so others might see his good works.

__________________

The above story is fiction. It is my version, inspired by and based on the parable Jesus told in Luke 14:7-11, ‘the banquet feast.’ I have recently been studying the parables and stories in both the new and old testaments, and find them not only full of history, facts and truth, and a message for all, but also they are a great inspiration for stories that can speak to hearts today. We all have times when we’re needing to learn what it is like to have our stool or pedestal knocked out from under our feet. Sometimes just declaring our achievements openly before others can prove fatal to achieving what we really need demonstrated; integrity, honesty and consideration for those who maybe struggle with their own personal worth, confidence and self-esteem.  I have been reminded of that plenty of times when the still small voice of the Holy Spirit quickens my heart and I need forgiveness for my selfish attitude or indifference. 

“For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Luke 14:11 NIV

Joyce E. Mannhalter © July 2019

The Wayward Son

“Dad, I’m taking what’s mine and leaving.”

“Why? I hoped you would want to work with your brother and I in the business. When I retire the business will be yours, and your brother’s. ”

“No. I want to see the world, travel.” He turned away avoiding the crestfallen look on his father’s face.

A few days later Mick closed out his accounts, cashed in his trust fund, took his share of the estate and left.

For months following he traveled the world, living like a man with no responsibilities or obligations. No concerns or thoughts to who or what he left behind and none for those he met along the way. He dined and partied with men and women who showed him a good time, drove fast cars, stayed at five-star hotels and resorts eating and drinking at expensive restaurants while spending, and charging all without a care. Life was good, easy. He felt free. But the money ran out, credit cards expired, loans defaulted, and he was broke, unable to pay his debts.

Now desperate and hungry he hauled grain and feed to the stock pens of a farmer eating what he could glean. When he asked for food, they replied. “Go away, can you not see all the hungry who still have no food to eat. There isn’t enough for our own.” So, he searched through alleys for scraps in waste bins behind the bars he once hung out in.

I will go home and apologize to my father and ask if he will hire me on as one of his construction workers. They at least eat well and are paid for their wages earned. I have earned nothing but the shame and disrespect of my family. Will even God forgive me for all I have done?

While walking up the long-gated drive to his father’s home he was met with the warm loving arms of his father, never asking where he’d gone or what he’d done. Only how happy he was to see him and know he had ‘come home.’ His father asked his servants to prepare a very special, festive dinner and celebration with his best wine for his youngest son had returned home.

But when Stan Jr. the older son saw all the commotion and celebration going on, he came to his father and asked what he was doing and why.

“Did I not work for you all these years faithfully running things at the business just like you taught me? And yet, now you spoil him with an outlandish display of gifts and party. Do I not deserve the same or better for all I have done?”

“Stan Sr. replied, “Son, all you need do is ask and it is yours to enjoy. All I have is yours already. But your brother was lost to us all those years and now has returned. It is time to celebrate, not be bitter. Let’s party.”

_________________________

Joyce E. Mannhalter © 2019

The above story is fiction, but the truth and parable are scriptural. The story of the prodigal son is found in Luke 15: 11-32 of the New Testament Bible. It is one of many parables or stories Jesus shared with his disciples to illustrate a truth or lesson. This parable story is one of my favorites as it depicts the love our Father God has for us who come to him lost, with a repentant heart seeking forgiveness and wishing for a new beginning, a new life in Him. receiving the gift of salvation and the guidance of the Holy Spirit in directing our steps while on our journey of faith. I love how this father reached out to his lost son in love with no condemnation or questions as to where he’d been or how he conducted his life before his return. As Father’s Day is approaching on Sunday, June 16th I thought this parable story a perfect one to share and hope you have enjoyed reading my own fictional modern version of the parable of the ‘Prodigal Son’. I want to wish all fathers out there a Happy Father’s Day. Best wishes to you and yours on this special day.

JEM

The Galilee and His Disciples

The Sea of Galilee, Tiberias, Israel, May, 2001 photo credit: Joyce (Johnson) Mannhalter

 

The Galilee, quiet, cold and still

but for the ripples under a bright orange sky

lies in mournful praise. It was here

where once they’d gathered sharing life, 

they’d fished and prayed,

 but now the sea is silent like His grave. 

as the sun sets, its reflections seen

over what looks like a stained glass sea

  merging colors of purple, crimson red 

for the bruised and broken Son of God,

the crucified Christ who suffered and bled.

Now their boats sit idly by with empty nets drawn in and dry. 

His disciples aren’t here, gone to mourn their loss, 

 the Messiah, Savior Lord, whom they followed to His death.

the One who stilled the storm and taught

from a boat about faith, and hope

and how to believe for miracles received. 

Did He not promise he’d return one day? 

And find them again before going away 

to reign with His Father and they would know

that what He said, He would do,

and that in His place would the Comforter come too? 

So they left their nets and boats to moor

on the Sea of the Galilean shore.

_________________________

Joyce E. Mannhalter – April, 2019

The story of the Sea of Galilee and Jesus’s disciples can be found in the scripture passages here below: Matthew, 8: 23-27, chapters 14: verses 22-32, and chapter 17: 22 & 23. The promise Jesus made to his disciples of the Comforter (the Holy Spirit) that would come after he went away (after the resurrection) can be found in these scriptures here: John 14:16, 26, 15:26 & 27,and in chapter 16: verse 7. His promise made then for them and for all is the same today, and always. We have the assurance that whatever we face in life with all the challenges, the problems, the good, the bad and the ugly we have the assurance that our Redeemer lives, is still on the throne, and we will be comforted and shown grace and mercy. Hebrews 13:8 says, “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and today and forever.” KJV

Happy Easter to all,

JEM

 

 

When to Him

When to Him I come and ask

for wisdom and understanding

to the questions I have,

with few answers to all that confuses the soul,

and though yet I trust Him

I know not what to do,

I ask still again, What is God doing?

What is the lesson here to be learned?

for too often I ask as if still to plead,

Did you not hear my prayer and my need?

There isn’t any doubt to all I believe,

but so often it’s hard to persevere,

and I wait on Him and think to myself,

did I not get it? Did I not hear?

And then, it is dawn and I see the sun

break through the clouds and fog now gone.

Sometimes it is like that with our heavy heart

when we are impatient, awaiting a breakthrough,

but soon rewarded; behold the Son.

__________________

Joyce E Mannhalter (C) 2019

And therefore will the Lord wait, that he may be gracious unto you, and therefore will be exalted, that he may have mercy upon you; for the Lord is a God of judgement; blessed are all they that wait for him. Isaiah 30:18 KJV Old Testament

 

 

 

 

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