The Rain Prophet (a prompted parable)

Four weeks and the rains still hadn’t come.  The air was parched and stale.  The ground was cracked with lines like on the Wise Man’s face.  The corn was spiked and wasn’t even as high as a grasshopper’s knee (and here it was the 4th of July).

Three weeks ago the stranger arrived.  He was wiry and dark-skinned, with hair the color of dust and an uneven beard.  “The rains will come soon.”  He promised.  To back up his prophecy, he said, “I won’t let water touch my lips until I can raise my head and let the refreshing rain water cool my thirst.”  We called him the Rain Prophet.

A week later, the women were starting to wonder about the Prophet’s health.  The men were growing suspicious.  He started calling out in the streets.  “God wants you to repent of your sin.  If you don’t repent, the rains may never come.”  The preacher said that Sunday in church that he was out of his mind with thirst.  God would send rain when He was ready, according to his providential plan.

Last week, the Rain Prophet collapsed in the street.  I saw it happen.  The widow Esther helped him rise to his feet and guided him to her boarding house.  Her brother Amos eyed him suspiciously.  Esther wanted to at least wet a sponge and put it to his lips, but the Prophet refused.  And Amos said it wouldn’t be right.  So they waited and watched – for the rain or from a sign from God.

Four weeks and the rains still hadn’t come.

This morning Esther went to the well and found it dry.  Amos decided something had to be done.  He sent Esther to a neighbor’s house about a mile away to see if they had water to spare.

Amos wiped a dry smudge of his cheek and knelt down to pray beside the bed of the Prophet.  He bent over, carefully picked him up and put him over his shoulder.

There was a slight breeze as he walked out to the well.  The empty bucket was laying on the ground beside it.  Amos raised his head to the heavens and cried out, “How long?”  Then he threw the body of the Prophet into the well.

After a sacred pause, a waft of dust rose.  Suddenly, the sky turned dark.  There was a loud clap of thunder and a drop of rain fell from the sky.  Amos raised his head, opened his mouth and tasted that it was good.

water well

(Water Well from “Caveman Chuck” Coker, some rights reserved)

(The first line is a writing prompt from Today’s Author)

Dreams of God

God speaks to us through our dreams.

God may give you a vision of what your life will become. Through our dreams, God may reveal to us what we are called to do, who we are called to be with, how our lives might work out, what direction to take, and how we might resolve difficult situations.

I know children who have found meaning and purpose in dreams where they felt loved and valued.

I know teens whose life course has been confirmed through dreams they’ve had.

I know young adults battling with loneliness comforted by dreams that one day they would find a life partner.

I know parents and grandparents who have responded to visions in dreams to warn their children about dangers ahead.

Do you take your dreams seriously? When you dream of a better life, do you cling to the hope it offers? God may be giving you a glimpse of what lies ahead. When a person appears to you in dreams, do you let them know? God may bee revealing to you a hidden struggle and counting on you to respond. When you have a recurring dream about a certain situation, do you take steps to resolve it? God may be giving you helpful insights.

The Bible is filled with stories of God speaking to us through our dreams. Joseph is given a vision of a better life ahead through his dreams. The prophets are called to be God’s messengers in their dreams. In the birth of Christ, dreams play a crucial role. Joseph is told in a dream that Mary’s child is from God, so he goes through with their marriage. The wise men are warned in a dream of Herod’s wickedness, so they flee from his wrath. Joseph also is warned in a dream of Herod’s plot to kill the child, so he escapes with them to Egypt.

Dreams give us a vision of a better life. Dreams show us God’s purpose for our lives. Dreams warn us of dangers that lie ahead.

But not everyone appreciates our dreams. When we share our dreams with others, they may think we are bragging, that such dreams are not revelations from God, but our own big egos shining through. It is challenge, but essential that we respect the dreams of others. God may rely on us to help interpret them. This was true not only for Joseph’s brother, but also his father.

[Joseph] had another dream, and told it to his brothers, saying, “Look, I have had another dream: the sun, the moon, and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” But when he told it to his father and to his brothers, his father rebuked him, and said to him, “What kind of dream is this that you have had? Shall we indeed come, I and your mother and your brothers, and bow to the ground before you? So his brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept this in mind.

We might think Joseph would have been better off keeping his dreams to himself, but again the interpretation comes from another, this time his father. We may not understand our dreams, but as we share them with someone we can trust, they can help us gain new insights. Joseph’s father at first rebukes him for claiming a vision of superiority over not just his brothers, but his parents as well. In the end, however, Jacob softens his stance. The Bible says, “Joseph’s father kept this [dream] in his mind. Just as the mother of Jesus reacted to the incredible tribute paid to her child by wise men from the east by “pondering these things in her heart.” Jacob knows God has special plans for Joseph. He doesn’t know what they are. But he tucks them away, records them in his mind, knowing that one day God will give him understanding.

Here is a lesson for parents. Hear what your children are saying. Watch what they are doing. Encourage them to share with you their dreams, their hopes, their fears. Record them, either in your memory or, better yet, in a journal or diary. Before you know it, your child will be looking for guidance in his or her life. Too often I hear well-meaning parents and other adults advise children and youth,

“The world is yours. There is a wealth of opportunity. You can do anything you want. Go for it.”

Instead of:

“God has a special purpose for your life. Listen to your dreams. Pray for guidance. See where God has led you through your interest and passions. Faithfully pursue a path where you can best put to use your gifts.

Notice the difference. The world is not ours. It is God’s. Opportunity is a wonderful thing, but we can be paralyzed by too many options. We can certainly do anything we want, but we will only be fulfilled when we do what God wants. If we go for it and it turns out to be contrary to God’s path, we will get lost.

Dream, Inspirational quotes, success, Don't downgrade your dream just to fit your reality. Upgrade your conviction to match your destiny.

The Walmart Way: Pursuit of Happiness (6)

Monica dropped Steven off at the Walmart entrance 15 minutes before his team meeting was scheduled to start.

“I’ll pick you up at noon,” she smiled. “Are you all prepared?”

“I guess so,” he said, uncertainly.

“I think you’re going to do great, Dad,” she patted his hand. “Have a wonderful day.”

Steven passed through the entrance and noticed all the smiley face placards on his way to the electronics department where the team meeting would take place. He found Sam there.

“You’re the first one to arrive,” said Sam. “I admire your work ethic. Are you ready for the day?”

“I guess so. I’m not            quite sure what to expect.”

“It’s pretty simple, really. Like I told you at church, I see our greeters as ‘Happiness Engineers’. You smile as they arrive and say, ‘Welcome to Walmart’. You give stickers to the children. And, as they leave, you say ‘Have a great day.’”

“I think I can handle that.” Stephen willed himself to smile as Sam handed him a roll of stickers.

***

At 9 a.m. sharp, the employees gathered together around Sam. Sam spoke in the voice of a basketball coach.

“Are you ready for a great day?”

“Yeah,” the people proclaimed.

“Give me a ‘W’!”

“W.”

“Give me an ‘A’!” …

Steven figured out they were spelling W-A-L-M-A-R-T. He joined in, quietly.

Then they started clapping and launched into a song. It was more like a chant that went so fast Steven couldn’t make out the lyrics.

As they concluded, they broke into applause and shouts. Sam resumed his speech.

“Very good. Today, I want you to remember two essential things about the Walmart way. Number 1 – We are here to please. Number 2 – The customer is always right.” He paused and let the words sink in.   “Okay team, go out there and work the Walmart way.”

***

The first hour went reasonably well. Steven faithfully smiled and greeted people with “Welcome to Walmart.” As they left, he said diligently, “Have a great day.” He put a sticker on each child and even patted them on their heads for further effect.

Around 10, a little boy entered the store. Two things stood out. The boy seemed to be around eight or nine years old. Why wasn’t he in school? Steven looked around. He couldn’t find a parent. The boy had a blank, bored expression. His nose was running. Steven walked over to him, knelt down and spoke –

“Would you like a sticker, young man?”

“I want the whole roll.”

Steven grinned, uncomfortably.

“Well, now, we need to share them with all the other children, don’t we? One sticker should be good.” He pealed a sticker off and started to place it on the boy’s coat.

The boy hit Steven’s hand and the sticker fell to the ground, happy face down.

“I SAID I WANT THE WHOLE ROLL!”

Steven looked around. Still, no parent. “Where’s your mom or dad, young man?”

“I don’t care. Are you going to give me those stickers or not?”

“You must be here with someone. Let’s find your parents.” He started to put his hand on the boy’s shoulders and guide him. The boy slapped his hand away.

“I WANT THE STICKERS! I WANT THE STICKERS!” He started to wail.

Suddenly a man in a business suit appeared, pulling a smart phone away from his ear.

“What is going on here?” he asked Steven.

The boy spoke up. “This mean man won’t give me his stickers.”

Steven started to respond.

“Just give him the stickers, old man.”

Steven straightened up. “I tried to give him a sticker. He slapped it away and demanded a whole roll. I said we need to share with other children.”

The boy started wailing again.

“Look, my son is just not feeling well today. Just make him happy. Give him the stickers. I’ll give you $20.” He started reaching for his wallet.

“Sir, we don’t sell the stickers. We give them away for free – one per child.”

The wailing stopped momentarily. Then, it started up again, louder, and coming in waves.

Steven felt a firm hand on his shoulder and turned around to find Sam standing there.

“Steven, can I help you in any way?”

Steven explained the situation. Sam listened carefully, clearly distracted by the boy’s intermittent wailing.

Sam then reached out and took the roll of stickers from Steven’s hand. He bowed down before the boy and looked him in the eyes, “I tell you what we’re going to do. We’re going to give you the stickers because we’re here to please and the customer is always right. That’s the Walmart way.”

The boy took the stickers and quietly walked away with his father.

Steven was left standing there with Sam, his mouth slightly open.

“Steven, you are a man of principle. I respect that. But I just don’t think you get the Walmart way. Tell you what, how about I get someone to fill in for us and I take you home for the day?” Steven did not protest.

When Wal-Mart's Logo was with the smiley face, and kids got a smiley sticker when they walked in

Rest for Your Weary Soul : Delight in Disorder Tuesday

Return to your rest, my soul,

for the Lord has been good to you. (Psalm 116:7)

One of the marks of bipolar disorder is a sense of restlessness. Often, I struggle a great deal with this. I pace. I sit. Then I stand up almost at once. I toss and turn in bed. There seems to be no rest for my weary soul.

But the Psalmist here assures us that we can lay claim to a promised rest. It is our possession as we grow in our relationship with God. The Sabbath-rest God desires for us in this life, a rest that often escapes us, is fully realized at the end of our extended life journeys. We will then look back on all the LORD has done for us, grateful for the temporary rest we enjoyed, blessed by the eternal rest that lies before us.

Rest is such a cherished and crucial component to a quality life. Centuries ago, Henry David Thoreau wrote, “the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” The desperation has only gotten worse in time (and it’s no longer quiet). With technological advances, we try to maintain virtual connectedness throughout our days, all the while sacrificing sacred rest which is necessary to promote spiritual well-being and psychological sanity.

A person with bipolar can be particularly sensitive to the tyranny of urgency these days. The restlessness inside of us is often fueled by the restlessness around us. To maintain balance and continue to function in the world, we need to do more than just take medication. We need to establish “rhythms of rest” in our daily lives—nourished by prayer (not just worrying), reflection on God’s word (not just advice from others), and deep meditation (not just re-tweeting an appealing Twitter message).

Delight in Disorder: Ministry, Madness, Mission can be purchased through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords. For a signed copy, directly from the author, write to me — tony@awaywithwordsforyou.com .

Kristin Hersh, Darkness, Mental Disorders, Writing as Therapy, Inside Out: Mental Health Monday

Logo for those of us dedicating much of our lives toward advocacy on behalf of the mentally ill.

Kristin Hersh is my Spirit Animal” (earthsnottending)

Mental illness is all in how you look at it. For me, it’s been a blessing. I like seeing the world from the peculiar angles and through the emotional colors that manic-depression creates for me. I’m one of the fortunate in this regard. It’s a feeling that many people can’t handle, I suppose. It’s easy for to understand why. Manic-depression can be a real chore when I hate everything. It can be really scary but that’s part of the bargain. There is no high without the low and the ride is more tilt-a-whirl than ferris wheel. It can be hard to tell where I’m going but the ride is fun for me.

What Do You Do When There is No Light?” (terminating reconstruction)

The thing is, my mental illness isn’t just a funk I’ll get out of one day. And that’s the worst part. It will always be there. Even when I get better, I know there’s a steep valley that I’m heading toward. The goal right now is to not feel as terrible as I do now, and I feel guilty for feeling the way I do. Depressed people aren’t fun to be around, I know that. I also know my friends love me no matter what. At the same time, I’m sure it’s draining for them, which is why I’m selective with what I tell them.

“Me and my Mental Disorder” (becoming laurie)

“I’m so depressed. I had like, the worst day,” says a girl in high-waisted shorts sitting on Jammie stairs. “My laptop died while I was starting my essay and then I spilt coffee on my white Tomys.”

I roll my eyes and walk on.

“…and you know how my mother is totally OCD about the house being tidy,” says a boy to his friend dismissively.

“I wish I had the will-power to be anorexic,” says a slim blonde student.

“The one minute he’s fine and the next he starts flipping out. It’s like he’s bipolar. Lol.”

Writing About Something I Can’t Write About” (Blu Sky Collective)

I’ve found over the years, that those of us with bipolar disorder feel things deeper and more strongly than the average person. It’s harder to deal with things like grief, sadness and anger. I’ve been struggling with sadness and anger for the past year. I thought it would have subsided by now. It hasn’t. Not really. I suppose the fiery edge has been lessened but the underlying feelings have not.

Inside Out — Introducting Concepts in Mental Health to Kids” (Spoken Black Girl)

Understanding mental illness can be a hard task for any adult, but it’s especially difficult for kids in communities of color where generations and generations of shame and secrecy have effectively stigmatized issues surrounding mental health. I can’t speak for everyone, but I can say that in the Caribbean community mental illness is something to be suppressed and conquered rather than something that should be accepted and investigated for as an avenue for growth. But what if learning about mental health could start young?

Silent Glory

Eugene Peterson, in his Bible translation The Message brings the message of Scripture to life in evocative contemporary language. His vivid poetry is on evident in Psalm 19.

God’s glory is on tour in the skies,     

God-craft on exhibit across the horizon.

Madame Day holds classes every morning,     

Professor Night lectures each evening.

Their words aren’t heard,     

their voices aren’t recorded,

But their silence fills the earth:     

unspoken truth is spoken everywhere. (vv. 1-4)

As the master Artist, Creator of the universe, God displays his masterpieces throughout creation. God doesn’t have to lecture us on His grand glory. Instead, creation speaks the silent message of God’s beautiful truth.

God makes a huge dome     

for the sun—a superdome!

The morning sun’s a new husband     

leaping from his honeymoon bed,

The daybreaking sun an athlete     

racing to the tape.

That’s how God’s Word vaults across the skies     

from sunrise to sunset,

Melting ice, scorching deserts,     

warming hearts to faith. (vv. 4-6)

All creation points to the glory of God. Some have fallen short by worshipping creation itself — setting the sun or the sea or the mountains up as a false and failing deity. God wants us to honor creation, but see it clearly for what it is — a testimony for faith in the one true God, Creator of all that is and ever will be.

The revelation of God is whole
    and pulls our lives together.
The signposts of God are clear
    and point out the right road.
The life-maps of God are right,
    showing the way to joy.
The directions of God are plain
    and easy on the eyes.
God’s reputation is twenty-four-carat gold,
    with a lifetime guarantee.
The decisions of God are accurate
    down to the nth degree.

God’s Word is better than a diamond,
    better than a diamond set between emeralds.
You’ll like it better than strawberries in spring,
    better than red, ripe strawberries.  (vv. 7-10)

God is true and, provided we pay close attention, we can see the way to God even when we become l0st. In fact, in Jesus Christ, God has provided us the Way. We were lost, yet are found. In Christ, we can keep following the clear path of abundant life even in a murky world.

There’s more: God’s Word warns us of danger
    and directs us to hidden treasure.
Otherwise how will we find our way?
    Or know when we play the fool?
Clean the slate, God, so we can start the day fresh!
    Keep me from stupid sins,
    from thinking I can take over your work;
Then I can start this day sun-washed,
    scrubbed clean of the grime of sin.
These are the words in my mouth;
    these are what I chew on and pray.
Accept them when I place them
    on the morning altar,
O God, my Altar-Rock,
    God, Priest-of-My-Altar. (vv. 11-14)

Our enemy sets traps for us to keep us from following the way, yet God warns us of these. Through the Word, God gives us a treasure map to follow. Though we will make missteps and fall into sin, God in Christ forgives us. Each morning we can start afresh and dedicate our lives to the One who has dedicated His all to us.

Hawaii Skies

Delight Deeper than Despair

Two weeks ago I was confined to bed

Consumed with pain

Despondent and depressed

Absorbed in the world online

Trying to numb my mind.

Now, light shines through

From the early morning dawn

Through the brightness of noonday

To the glow of the dusk

Into the gleam of the night sky.

A fortnight of hope

Following a week of woe.

Delight runs deeper than despair.

"Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart."Get this print in my shop!Read the story behind Encouraging Wednesdays.My hope is that you download this file and place it where ever you will see it on a daily basis.You can even print it…

A Saving Plan for a Polluted World

stopping pollution photos - Google Search

The world is too much with us.  We are so full of our Selves and things of our own making, we’ve left no room for God.

Bilious and bloated, they gas,
    “God is gone.”
Their words are poison gas,
    fouling the air; they poison
Rivers and skies;
    thistles are their cash crop.

Our conspicuous consumption comes at a cost.  God only knows how long we can continue to bloat our bodies before our organs implode.  God only knows how long we can foul the air and poison God’s good creation as if it belonged to us. God only knows how long He is going to put up with us.  In the meantime, while we busily waste God’s gifts to us, God looks on —

God sticks his head out of heaven.
    He looks around.
He’s looking for someone not stupid—
    one man, even, God-expectant,
    just one God-ready woman.

He comes up empty. A string
    of zeros. Useless, unshepherded
Sheep, taking turns pretending
    to be Shepherd.
The ninety and nine
    follow their fellow.

Don’t they know anything,
    all these impostors?
Don’t they know
    they can’t get away with this—
Treating people like a fast-food meal
    over which they’re too busy to pray?

While God certainly knows everything, at times he must shake his head in wonder at how something created so good could become so stupid, completely callous, oblvious in irresponsiblity.  All we like sheep have gone astray and it is going to take an act of God to set us straight, to bring us back into the fold.  Time is running out, but there is a still a Way.

Night is coming for them, and nightmares,
    for God takes the side of victims.
Do you think you can mess
    with the dreams of the poor?
You can’t, for God
    makes their dreams come true.

Is there anyone around to save Israel?
    Yes. God is around; God turns life around.
Turned-around Jacob skips rope,
    turned-around Israel sings laughter.

All is not lost. God fulfills the dreams of the poor.  There is still time to turn things around, to follow the path that leads to a new heaven and a new earth.  In the Spirit of Christ, God brings new life out of a world we have left for dead.

(image above from Meghan Reis; quotations from Psalm 14, The Message)

Was it Really a Dream? (based on Genesis 28.10-22)

God’s encounter with Jacob in his dream is unexpected. We would not expect God to be traveling with someone who has just tricked his brother out of a blessing. Though we know God to be merciful, we tend to hold God accountable to standards of justice that God’s activity seem just to us. Jacob does not deserve God’s blessing, God’s comfort. He deserves to be in fear, to be ashamed of what he did. He is a con man. The only way for him to learn his lesson is for him to fear Esau’s wrath and maybe this fear will turn him around.

But fear is never transforming. Not this kind of fear. Jacob, fearing for his life, is more likely to go into hiding than he is to come clean and make up for what he did to Esau. This kind of fear is crippling. Esau could not find true consolation knowing that Jacob suffered from this fear. He might feel a tinge of perverse pride knowing that he is getting back at his brother, keeping him in fear, but knowing this would not bring consolation, peace to his troubled soul.

Fear is never transforming. The nations of our world are now beginning to recognize that with the capacity to destroy the world several times over, we need to operate out of a new ethic, that we must cooperate rather than dominate. It is no longer possible for even the strongest of nations to gain national security by instilling the fear of retaliation in the hearts of the enemy. Those of us who have rested secure in the hope that our nation was strong enough to fend off all attacks are now experiencing a new kind of fear, a fear of being vulnerable, of having to cooperate and trust peoples and nations we formerly regarded as the enemy.

I believe God is at work in this new situation, bringing comfort, arming us with a vision of hope. We need not cling to the trump card of retaliation to feel secure. This is indeed a false security. Trusting in God, we strive to work together to bring peace not by escalating fears, but by cooperation. Shortly after the Civil War, or the War Between the States, depending on which side you stem from, some Yankee senators were in conference with President Lincoln, discussing the fate of the Southern states. One typically angry and proud senator, Thaddaeus Stevens spoke up, “Mr. President, I think we ought to show no mercy. We ought to destroy the enemy.” Mr. Lincoln said, “Do I not destroy the enemy when I make him my friend?”

Esau may have thought instilling fear in Jacob could bring peace to his soul, but God knew otherwise. God knows otherwise now. Either we learn to cooperate, or we destroy the world. God is with us as we work to make enemies our friends.

It is grace, not fear, which prompts Jacob to redirect his life. Jacob is so thankful that God comes to him in his dream, in this strange land, in the midst of his fears and anxieties that he turns his stone pillow into a pillar dedicated to God. The stone on which he rested now becomes a reminder of God’s mercy and Jacob pledges to remain faithful, to respond to God’s faithfulness by praising the Lord and giving his life in the Lord’s service. He does this not out of overabundance, but out of the sustenance which God provides. Jacob returns a tenth to the glory of God.

What impresses me most about this story is not that God would come to Jacob in a dream. The Bible is full of stories of God choosing to visit people in their dreams. Not just righteous people, either, and the dreams aren’t always glorious visions. Sometimes the dreams are about the destruction on an empire, as in the book of Daniel. It is not the dream that is impressive, it is a simple one. I am most impressed by the difference the dream makes in Jacob’s life. The image that I have of Jacob as he journeys towards Paddanaram is of a sly young fellow who must rely on his wit to get what he wants. He is a trickster, and he manages to get by, but he doesn’t seem to embody much strength. He seems to be ruled by his fear.

This same Jacob shows the strength to stand up to his father-in-law Laban and make a covenant with him. This same Jacob wrestles with a messenger of God, and holds his own. This same Jacob returns to Esau and together they kiss and weep and catch up on old times. Jacob is no longer ruled by fear, but the love of God which keeps us and protects him, which gives him the peace of mind to stand up and face the world.

This is the transforming power of God’s love. For Jacob, it is a dream realized. Too often it is a dream dismissed. When faced with the choice of a harsh reality lived in fear and a vulnerable trust in God, where do we turn?

On image of SHELL FALLS in WYOMING, USA -- "A single dream is more powerful than a thousand realities." Tolkien -- Explore literary quotes at http://www.examiner.com/article/travel-a-road-of-literate-quotes-about-the-journey

The Pursuit of Happiness (5): Plans to Prosper

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV)

Robert was waiting outside the door when Steven finished class.

“Would you like another coffee?” he asked.

“No thanks, I’m good.”

Robert directed Steven through the crowded halls, pausing briefly to exchange pleasantries with fellow worshipers.

The sanctuary was more like a modern auditorium. There were colorful banners instead of stained glass. Theater seats instead of hardwood pews. A praise band on the stage instead of a pulpit on the dais.

The band was warming up as messages flashed on the large video screens placed behind them. Robert found Monica near the front.

“How did you enjoy your group?”

“It was okay. I got a job as a Walmart greeter. I start tomorrow.”

“That’s great!” Monica smiled and patted him on the shoulder.

Without warning, a young man with well-groomed sandy hair wearing a maroon sweater and khakis rose to the stage. He had on one of those wrap-around mikes rock stars wear.

“This is the day the LORD has made.” he proclaimed.

“We will rejoice and be glad in it,” the people responded.

“And what a wonderful day it is! We are so glad you could be with us today. I just know God has a special blessing to pour out on you and we’re going to praise Him for that right now.”

On cue, the band started into a song and the lyrics flashed on the screen.

Steven looked around at the people.   Many had their eyes closed, their hands raised. They were swaying to the beat.

 I have a promise from heaven

It’s my season

It’s my time for the favor of the Lord.

 Steven caught himself swaying. He put his hands in his pockets.

 Pressed down shaken together

Running over in the favor of God

Pressed down shaken together running over

Running over.

Steven thought of the soap suds running onto the floor the morning Rachel left.

 Nothing can stop the favor of the Lord.

The phrase “What have you done for me lately?” was planted in Steven’s mind.

Steven could not reign in his mind to focus on the praise music. He thought of Rachel. He wondered where she might be right now. Saul was Jewish, so he seriously doubted she was in church. He was non-observant (and it was Sunday), so he didn’t think synagogue or temple was an option. Perhaps a casino? Would they be open on Sundays? Maybe in a restaurant having brunch? Still in bed? He shook himself at the thought.

***

The band had disappeared backstage and the pastor was alone on stage. The lights had been dimmed and there was a bright spotlight shining on him. The video screens projected images of him zoomed-in.

 God has plans for you, my friends. Did you know that? It says so right in the Bible. Plans to prosper you, not harm you. God wants us to be prosperous. More than that, he is planning to make it happen. You hear a lot in the world these days (and even in other churches) about impending disasters. Fiscal cliffs. Economic collapse. Global warming. Apocalyptic doom. Some even go so far as to say God is making this happen to judge us for our sin.

But I’m here to tell you my God is a God of prosperity. God is offering us a bright future, a better hope. All we have to do is claim it.

Steven’s mind began to drift again, this time not to Rachel, but to the Bible. This god the pastor was talking about was a foreign idol to Steven. He could feel the blood rush to his face, tightness forming in his chest.

This is wrong, thought Steven. He thought of storming out, but instead he looked over at his family.

Robert was captivated, nodding his head at every point.

Monica was bowing her head as if in prayer.

I can’t leave, thought Steven, that would be more wrong.

Instead, as the pastor spoke on, his voice elevating along the way, Steven read on in Jeremiah –

     Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. (Jeremiah 29:12-13)

You made me, therefore why should I have any doubts about what I cannot or am not? Rather it should be Father, what is your will, place me there that I might shine in your glory!