The Walking Dead

    One of the most popular shows of all time is the series The Walking Dead, which portrays the lives of a small group of people, thrown together by a terrible tragedy whereby the vast majority of the population have turned into zombies and where everyone carries the virus within them that upon physical death they too will become the walking dead.


   I often wonder why we are so drawn to shows like this, where the world civilizations crumble and a handful of people survive? I wonder if its because deep down humanity knows that we are all carrying the virus. We are the walking dead. The Bible tells us in many places that without Christ we are dead in our sins and trespasses. Christ is the Lifegiver, Christ is the Redeemer, Christ is the cure for our walking dead virus. There is no other cure. There are things that we do to alleviate our suffering, Band-Aids that we place upon the gaping wounds of our souls. They work for a time. We search for money, we search for love, we search for gratification, we search for medical assistance, for age defyers, for distractions...... we pursue the spiritual.....we pursue happiness.....we pursue pleasure.....we search and we search, grasping up our various Band-Aids and placing them on our patchwork souls......but in the end to no avail. We are dead and we are powerless to change that.

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

For all have sinned and fall short of God's glory.

 During Jesus' time here on earth there was a young man who wanted to follow him, and the young man told the Lord "just let me bury my father and I will come and follow You." But Jesus said to him, "Follow Me, and allow the dead to bury their own dead." What did he mean by this?  He was referring to the people of the world, the people without Him. All who do not have Christ are dead.....the walking dead.

 Jesus Christ is the only source, the only hope of peace and life. There is no other. Everything else that we use to attempt to fill the empty spaces of our souls is superficial and non lasting. There is no pill to make us better, there is no purchase that satisfies, there is no person who fills the hole, no pleasure, no distraction.

 King Solomon stated perfectly the results of the life without Christ " I the Preacher have been king over Israel in Jerusalem. 1And I applied my heart to seek and to search out by wisdom all that is done under heaven. It is an unhappy business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with.  I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity    and a striving after wind.

What is crooked cannot be made straight,
    and what is lacking cannot be counted.

 I said in my heart, “I have acquired great wisdom, surpassing all who were over Jerusalem before me, and my heart has had great experience of wisdom and knowledge.” And I applied my heart to know wisdom and to know madness and folly. I perceived that this also is but a striving after wind.

For in much wisdom is much vexation,
    and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow."

All is vanity apart from Christ. All our striving merely superficial and non lasting,

  Jesus came, God Himself clothed in flesh. He lived the perfect life. There was no sin in Him, He did not fail in anything. He perfectly kept the Law and fulfilled everything He came to fulfill. He offered Himself, the perfect spotless Lamb, and died in our place that we might have life. He was buried in the tomb, his body dead and lifeless, wrapped in grave clothes and placed in the earth. On the third day He arose from the dead and appeared to His disciples and hundreds of others. This is the gospel, that we are all dead in our sins, without the means nor power to please God in any way. Yet Jesus, the Redeemer paid the price on our behalf, and in Him and in Him only there is life.

 "So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father  does, that the Son does likewise. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel. For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will. the Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son,  that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man.  Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment. 

 May you hear the voice of Jesus and come out of your tomb and live.



Faith of My Father, the Legacy of a Life Well Lived

  Happy Father's Day in heaven to my dad, Clyde Ottie Hall who was, and is the most influential man in my life. My father brought words to life. He defined them. Words like endurance, perseverance, and faith.

  He was born to a large family, in a tiny cabin in Hazel Creek, North Carolina in what is now National Park wilderness. His father was Marion Spurgeon Hall, and his mother Nola Laney Hall. He grew up in a tough environment, life was hard. The closest store was many miles away, and it only carried basic staples, like salt, and flour. There were no cars to get you there. Basic needs that we take for granted like shoes and store bought items were hard to come by. He often went without. He told us he was 15 years old when he first laid eyes on a store bought toy. He once played for weeks with a tiny chocolate turtle that he received in his Christmas stocking. He told us that for most Christmas's they got an orange and some hard candies in their stockings, but that one year there was the turtle, covered in foil. He learned to farm and to hunt, not for recreation but for life. When he was a little boy, he once killed a groundhog with his bare hands, and his family had food. He told us of one hard winter when his dad trapped song birds so they could have meat for the table. Life was difficult growing up in the Appalachian wilderness. 

  He fought in the South Pacific in many famous naval battles. He was known as a fierce man, and his shipmates were amazed when I informed them that Clyde "Gabby" Hall had been changed by Jesus Christ and was called to be a pastor. One man told me that my father would have been last on the list of shipmates had he chosen one for that profession.

  There were many things in his background that I never saw personally. How he loved to fight, and was a fierce fighter. He had a huge scar on his arm from a bar fight. He once threw several persons through a bar window. He once stood in a ring with a prize fighter for the required time, earning his shipmates huge winnings. He manned one of the big guns on board his ship, and he told of shouting his rage to the heavens as the Japanese pilots swooped down so low that he could hit them with a potato. He had some problems with the law in his younger days and it is said that he helped build the Blue Ridge Parkway, with a ball and chain around his ankle. He never shared that one with us, but it was told me by one of his sisters, He drank a lot in his younger days. I never saw these things, other than a brief stint of drinking when my mother walked away, and a willingness to defend us kids against anyone and anything that promised harm. His life was a living testimony to the power of Christ that can completely change a person, and take them to heights they never dreamed possible.

  In his past he had been a reprobate, a sailor, a moonshiner, a coal miner and a farmer. He married Geneva Wilson, and they had a son James Steven Hall, and a daughter (me). One day he went to work, to the long hard day at the cotton mill, and on that day she left him. My brother and I met him as he walked home. It is a day that neither I nor my brother will ever forget. For a short time my father lost his anchor, and we wandered adrift. But he soon found his strength and faith again. He raised us two children alone and he poured his heart into us. He worked in a cotton mill (brutal work) full time. He always plowed, planted and maintained a big garden, and he pastored a church full time.

  He demonstrated daily with his life the qualities that have kept me whole all the days of mine. He never gave up, I have seen him weep, seen him tired, seen him in such pain, but he always managed to keep going. His life was anything but easy. He never had much, but he was content with what he had. He depended on God and demonstrated faith and how to walk with God through the hard places.

  I can't recall a meal that he didn't bless with prayer, and I have many memories of sitting around the table as he blessed the food. He loved to cook, but he wasn't very good at it. I guess if you survived your childhood on groundhog and song birds, then stew with bits of meat, purple cabbage and walnuts was pretty darn tasty. My brother and I never thought so.

  He loved my brother and I with a fierce love. He wanted us to have more than he did, he wanted us to be better people, he desired to protect us from the mistakes he made as a young man. I felt safe with him. He was larger than life to me as a little girl. He became even larger when I finally understood the things he labored so hard to teach me.

  I loved to see him laugh, and he took joy in simple things.He took great joy in his garden and the planting and harvesting always excited him. He loved God, and God's word. He preached every Sunday and most Wednesday nights in the churches he pastored, and he often preached on the radio.He was never once ashamed of the gospel. Indeed many of the times I saw him cry were when he was talking about the grace of God.He knew exactly who he had once been, and that God, by grace alone was the One who changed him.

  My final memory of him was at his wake. I stood next to my brother at the head of my father's casket and shook the hands of a mass of people as they filed by to pay their respects. They told me they came to Christ through my father's preaching, how he had baptized them, how he had visited them when they were sick, how he taught them the scriptures, mentored them in their ministries, performed their weddings, their ordinations to ministry, person after person declaring how the life of this one man, a terrible sinner saved by grace, a man born, raised, and died in poverty had touched their lives.

  I miss him, would give anything to be able to sit on the back porch with him. I wish my boys could have known him. He would be so very proud of them both. I wish my sons could sit on the back porch with him, hear his war stories, hear him speak of Jesus, for he demonstrated to the world how you can be a strong, manly man, full of fire, fierce and loyal and yet devoted and unashamed of his Lord.

  I miss you dad. I will ever be thankful that you were my earthly father. You taught me more than any other person apart from our Lord.I do believe our Lord has allowed you to look down on us in that great cloud of witnesses from time to time, for my heart has and doth hear you cheering us on. You shall be the first face, after His, that I search for. Until then Papa, happy Father's Day in heaven.

Dancing in the Rain and the Art of Swordmaking

 Last night at a little after midnight we were awoken by the sound of enormous thunder. A crash of lightening lit up the sky like the daylight. Samson (the dog) who had been asleep at my feet leaped several feet into the air and started barking.

 I arose from my warm and comfy bed to go and open the back door for him, as he was determined to see what was going on outside. In the short walk from my bed to the patio door the heavens opened up. I mean they OPENED up! It was as if a gigantic bucket, in the hands of a thousand angels was being tipped out over my house. Walls of water, solid sheets of water hammered the house. Samson of course quickly decided that he did not need to see what was going on outside and went swiftly back to bed.

 I lay awake for some time, listening to the heavy sound of the sheets of water pouring over the house. It was so intense I fully expected there to be leaks going on somewhere. Surely when I awake tomorrow in the light of day there will be puddles of water inside the house, it simply is not possible to contain such amounts of water in such a short time.

 That is how it rolls in New Mexico, we go for long periods of time with no water at all, no moisture. Everything becomes dry and parched, and then all of a sudden, the heavens open and all that rain comes down in the space of about 5 to 20 minutes.

 I do love the rain, love the power and intensity of a good thunder storm, love to watch the water cascading down the roads, washing out my backyard, overflowing from everything that can contain water. The more powerful the storm, the harder the rain falls, the more I love it. I even love walking in the rain, and have many good memories of such walks.

 I learned to love walking in the rain when I lived in England, many years ago. There, if you want to walk, if you intend to take your dog out for a stroll, you simply cannot allow rain to stop you, and there I learned that walking in rain is actually a very enjoyable experience.

 Years later when my firstborn son came along, I taught him to walk in the rain, we used to get our boots on, and our raincoats and go for walks with the dog. We made it a point to step in every puddle. I sure miss those days. So miss the laughter and the innocence of that time.

 My younger son and I had our moments in the rain also, walking through the puddles and later on driving through the puddles. We got stuck in a huge puddle once, and by the time we got the truck out it looked like it had been dipped in chocolate. We still laugh about that, near every time we pass that place.

 Somewhere along the way, we forgot how to laugh in the rain, the troubles of life have been like a huge storm, sheets of sorrow falling down upon us. We have sat, huddled in our skins, waiting for the storm to pass, and yet the waters continue to rage. It is time to put the raincoats on, time to go out and splash in the puddles, time to dance in the rain.

 This journey, started a few years ago, and still ongoing, has taught me a lot. God has been working in my life, drawing me closer to Him, teaching me about Him, teaching me about trials and hardships and how to continue walking with Him, trusting Him, even when things are not as I would want. I have learned a lot, and have finally come to a place where I have peace in the midst of the downpour..........but I hear Him calling me forward.........we are not done in this journey yet...........He still is trying to teach me how to have joy in the rain, how to dance in the rain, how to raise my arms to the heavens, throw my head back and laugh out loud to the God of creation.....right there in the middle of the storm.

 Don't you desire that? Don't you long to laugh in the rain? Don't you long to feel that joy in your heart, that carefree joy, even when it is raining?

 I believe it is possible, and I believe it is desired. I am not talking about happiness. It is not possible to be happy when someone you care about dies too young. It is not possible to be giddy when a family loses a young father and now walks without him, it is not possible to be carefree and giggly when someone you love battles against darkness and depression. I am talking about joy, not happiness.

 Have I forgotten that great beauty comes from suffering? How many beautiful diamonds are made swiftly and without pressure?Most natural diamonds are formed at high temperature and pressure at depths of 87 to 120 miles in the Earth's mantle.That is a huge amount of pressure!

 And can you just pour molten metal into a mold and have a functioning sword come forth, one that can stand up against another blade without breaking, one that is a thing of beauty and grace? No! Why even a fork poured out in such a way would not stand up to life. God is in the act of creating! He is the Creator! He is fashioning something beautiful, something wondrous, something useful. The rain, the downpours, the thunder and the lightening, the pressures and sorrows of this life can be a means to an end, if we simply submit to the hand of the Creator. Dance in the rain! Lift up your hands to the heavens and sing! God is crafting something beautiful!

 Yield to the fire, fold to the beat of the hammer, absorb the water to quench the heat, step into the fire to allow the reheating, and fold upon fold, quench after quench, and fire after fire.....and one day from the water is pulled such a sword!


Take a moment and read up on the ancient art of creating a masterpiece sword. I have often thought of the art of sword-making as a means of seeing God's hand at work in our lives. We the material, He the Master Smith. Not all metal is strong enough to endure the crafting, and not all metal is intended for swords. It takes much pressure, tremendous hardship, and lots of pain to turn steel into tamahagane, and it takes much crafting to turn the tamahagane into a sword fit for the hand of a King.

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/samurai/swor-nf.html


Wakizashi Sword, 15th century
Japanese

 How diamonds are formed.

In mineralogy, diamond (from the ancient Greek αδάμας – adámas "unbreakable") is a metastable allotrope of carbon, where the carbon atoms are arranged in a variation of the face-centered cubic crystal structure called a diamond lattice. Diamond is less stable than graphite, but the conversion rate from diamond to graphite is negligible at standard conditions. Diamond is renowned as a material with superlative physical qualities, most of which originate from the strong covalent bonding between its atoms. In particular, diamond has the highest hardness and thermal conductivity of any bulk material. Those properties determine the major industrial application of diamond in cutting and polishing tools and the scientific applications in diamond knives and diamond anvil cells.

Because of its extremely rigid lattice, it can be contaminated by very few types of impurities, such as boron and nitrogen. Small amounts of defects or impurities (about one per million of lattice atoms) color diamond blue (boron), yellow (nitrogen), brown (lattice defects), green (radiation exposure), purple, pink, orange or red. Diamond also has relatively high optical dispersion (ability to disperse light of different colors).

Most natural diamonds are formed at high temperature and pressure at depths of 140 to 190 kilometers (87 to 120 mi) in the Earth's mantle. Carbon-containing minerals provide the carbon source, and the growth occurs over periods from 1 billion to 3.3 billion years (25% to 75% of the age of the Earth). Diamonds are brought close to the Earth′s surface through deep volcanic eruptions by a magma, which cools into igneous rocks known as kimberlites and lamproites. Diamonds can also be produced synthetically in a high-pressure high-temperature process which approximately simulates the conditions in the Earth's mantle. An alternative, and completely different growth technique is chemical vapor deposition (CVD). Several non-diamond materials, which include cubic zirconia and silicon carbide and are often called diamond simulants, resemble diamond in appearance and many properties. Special gemological techniques have been developed to distinguish natural and synthetic diamonds and diamond simulants.



Why?.....Why?......Why?

I have been reflecting a lot on the subject of death, especially untimely death, and the subject of the hereafter. I cannot count the times I have asked God why…..I have asked why He allowed these young souls to leave so soon, and in the manner in which they left. Why did He not intervene, why did He not stop them…why….why….why?

This week I read the story of Lazarus. I have read it countless times before, but this time many things jumped out at me……Jesus loved Lazarus…..the man Jesus….Lazarus was his friend, Lazarus was dear to Him. When he was informed that His dear friend was sick and near death, Jesus could have rushed to his side….He could have just spoken a word right there, without even leaving…He could have healed Lazarus in an instant……..but He did not….He delayed……He was in sorrow for His friend…but He delayed…….Lazarus died.

Now everyone knows the rest of the story…but did you notice the grief and anger from Martha and Mary….Martha who cried out “Lord had You only been here, he would not have died!” Her cries are so similar to my cries of “Why Lord?” Mary. In her grief, she also wonders why…and yet she believes….she states that Jesus is the Messiah…the very Son of God…..and yet she wonders why He did nothing to save her brother.

Before calling Lazarus from death to life, our Lord stands outside his tomb and weeps. Why does he weep. He knows that which He is about to do…and yet He weeps. Perhaps He weeps for Lazarus, who must now leave eternal glory and come back to a life of flesh and misery, come back and walk in a world where he will see his friend and his Lord hung upon a cross, and where he will live out his days and die one day, weak and old, or sick and broken…perhaps that is why our Lord weeps. Perhaps He weeps for those standing with Him, for they do not truly understand all that He is.

I dare not presume to know the will or purpose of God, but it is good to sometimes reflect on things. Recently in one of my prayers, one of those broken prayers asking why…one of those prayers telling God that I would do anything to take away this pain, to bring these souls back, to grant them a long and happy life here upon this earth with those who grieve for them…during this time something came to my mind. What if I was given that power? What if God allowed me to choose, allowed me to bring back those we have lost, restore them to their loved ones, and grant them all life and happiness here on this earth…..and the only catch is that I must understand the cost?

Cost? What cost in bringing back a loved one lost too soon, lost in tragic circumstances? Surely God did not mean for this to happen to them? Surely it is a result of sin in the world, or an accident, surely?

When I began to ponder what possible cost could there be….this came to mind. What if in bringing back one of these loved ones, I knew that I was condemning ten others to eternity apart from God? What if I, knowing that these loved ones are with Him, that I and those they loved will see them again? What if I could bring them back here right now…but the cost was the eternal destiny of others? These others may be strangers to me, or they may be dear to me…perhaps they are brothers of the ones who have gone over, or sisters, husbands or wives; they might even be children….or parents. If I knew the cost would I still choose to bring them back?

If faced with having the power to award a long life here on earth, together with those they loved, and yet an eternity in heaven with someone they held dear not present, or even strangers, perhaps a handful, perhaps a multitude… Not there…doomed to eternity apart from God…..would I bring them back?

Again, we must not presume to know the will or purpose of God in these matters. And we must learn from Job “In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing”, and never accuse the Creator and Sustainer of life of wrongdoing.

But it is safe to remember and to meditate upon the will of God revealed in the scriptures and upon His character as it is revealed in scripture. He is good; He loves those who He has called. He has plans to prosper those He calls. He is merciful. He is right. He is just. He is all these things and more.

Notice that I have not answered my own question. I have not answered whether I would choose to bring them back, were it in my power to do so. This is intentional for I see within myself the possibility of choosing wrongly, of choosing to do whatever required in removing the pain of those I love, to restore dear ones to this world from which they were in my eyes removed too soon. So instead of choosing, I will only say this, it is good that I have not this power, it is good that you have not this power, it is good that such power rests in the sure hands of He who knows all things, in He who works always, for the good of those He has called. Instead of answering the question, I choose to trust Him, although I do not understand I choose to trust Him, although I am hurt and angry and at times utterly dismayed….I choose to trust Him.

Will you also trust Him?

 
Originally published on Blogger, July 3, 2013

In His Presence All is Well

A young woman awakens, she is lying in a field of lush grass, a beautiful blue sky above her, she feels no discomfort. She does not know who she is, nor where she is, nor where she came from, but she is unafraid. She stands and looks around. She knows that she is gazing upon the most beautiful scene she has ever seen, although she still has no memory of who she is, or of what scenes she has gazed upon in her life.

 The field is a vivid green, full of flowers of all shapes and colors, their scent fills the air with fragrance, there is an abundance of life around her, trees filled with singing birds, the field filled with animals, some lazing about, some frolicking in the grass. Deer, antelope, zebra, even elephants, along with lions, and leopards and wolves. All are at peace here, as if they are accustomed to living together and causing no harm to one another. There are hundreds of butterfly's wisping about the various flowers. It is a glorious place! Her heart is filled with elation and joy!

 Across the field she sees a black and white shape, low to the ground and running fast, it is a dog, in a moment a name comes into her mind, she knows this dog, it is Charlie, he is her dog, although still, she has no idea who she is. Charlie leaps into her arms, as he has a hundred times in the past, and as he was created to do, he lies limp in her arms as she hugs him. She has held him and hugged him like this a great many times, but he knows that this time is different. She sheds no tears, she does not moan or weep, there is no anguish of soul, as there often was in the past. This is why he must lay still in her arms, it is his purpose to comfort her, to simply be there for her. He is delighted when he hears not weeping as she holds him, but laughter, a sweet melody of laughter, like beautiful bells ringing gently in the breeze.

 Something alerts the dog, and the animals, she notices, and allows the dog to drop gently to the ground. All of them are moving towards a sound, it is the sound of singing. A beautiful male voice singing, but she cannot understand the words, she moves along with the animals towards the sound.

 A man is approaching, a strong and rugged man, he is surrounded by a multitude of animals and birds, as she approaches closer, puzzled by this, for there is something within her that seems to say she knows this man. She is at last close enough to see him, to make eye contact with him, and at that very moment when her eyes meet his..........she knows......she remembers her name.....she remembers her life......and in a split second she knows the answers to so very many questions she has asked across the years. She knows without question how much her family and friends loves her, she sees all the people across the years, who have been part of her life, she understands now the why of things that may have caused her pain, and she forgives each one, for she now knows fully the love that many of these people had for her. She sees with clarity the mistakes that were made, she knows the why of the hurts she has suffered..........she knows all this and understands completely.

 She drops to her knees at the feet of this man, her face to the ground for she cannot bear to look upon him......for at the same moment that she knew her own name, she also knew His.....He is the Christ, King of Kings and Lord of Lords, He is her Lord, how often she failed him she thinks to herself, how can she look upon Him, how can she bear Him to look upon her. All of this takes place in an instant, she still face down on the ground, gazing at His nail scarred feet, timidly she raises her face towards Him, as tears begin to fall down her cheek.

 His rugged hand, His nail scarred hand, gently reaches down and with the thumb he wipes the tears from her cheek,and He says "welcome home my child" and in that instant, the sorrow is gone, her soul, her very being is filled with a radiate love. She is home! All is well! Peace, and hope and love and joy flood her soul! He lifts her to her feet and she is overwhelmed by the joy, once again she hears the music and the song that heralded this man's approaching, and now, now she can understand the words! She begins to sing, and she dances, her feet lite as air, she whirls and spins and sings, all for Him.....and as He watches her joyful dance, He laughs, a deep laugh, from the heart, He is not laughing at her, He is laughing in the joy of watching her. He is thrilled and pleased by her joyful dance.

 Her dance concludes and she stands before Him, she feels full of life, full of joy, full of energy, she is at peace......He takes her hand and smiles at her and says,  "Melanie, I have prepared a place for you.....come and see." They walk off into the light, the black and white dog following at her heels.

 Dance with the angels Melanie, lift your voice in song to the King, the dark night of the soul has passed, you now stand in His Light. All is well. Give Charlie dog a hug from me. I will see you again one day. We will dance together.

 

4/28/88-3/12/13



  This was originally written on March 13th, 2013 and is a tribute to my daughter in law, Melanie A Griego, who passed from this life into His arms on March 12th, 2013.