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The Allure of Barbed Wire & Cedar

Tom Poland

Posted Nov. 29, 2021

By Tom Poland
A Southern Writer
www.tompoland.net
tompol@earthlink.net

Out in the country skinny metal fence posts rule pasturelands nowadays. I seldom see old cedar-barbed wire fences, but when I do they unleash a flood of memories. I remember riding through pastures with Granddad Poland. Come sundown in a battered old car, he’d bump through pastures festooned with yellow bitter weeds, clunk past a lonely persimmon tree and ranks of white-faced cattle. Herefords, they were. From afar, those cows would amble Granddad’s way and when his jalopy closed in they would break into a stiff-kneed trot. To see the old man’s car was to see feed. My job was simple. Jump out the car and open and close the gap.

Rusty barbed wire stapled to cedar. An old farm icon endures.

Still, I have an ambivalent feeling as barbed wire goes. I recall a church baseball game. A fellow hit the ball high and long. I backpedaled and leaped high to snag it. It went over my head and I fell backwards onto a barbed wire fence. Barbs shredded my back.

Falling into a barbed fence is easy; crossing one isn’t a snap. It takes skill and balance. In my youth, I’d crawl under them or if I felt daring I’d grab a post and swing up and over the fence. I don’t see many left to cross these days but when I do another memory surfaces. The time granddad lost all his clothes. Granddad was working his moonshine still by the Savannah River when revenuers raided it. Granddad broke and ran through briars and brambles, through thorns and thickets, through woods, and over barbed wire and when he could run no more and had lost every stitch of clothing, they caught him. What happened next is a story for another day.

To me, and perhaps you, barbed wire strung between cedar posts symbolizes farm life. It’s picturesque and one of those vanishing acts older folks will miss and younger folks will never know existed. Seems I recall the larger posts, losing knots, would provide nesting sites for bluebirds. Bluebirds, good luck nesting in a skinny metal post.

So, there are a few reasons not to like barbed wire. The Indians called barbed wire “Devil’s rope” for how it ensnared buffalo. Barbed wire ended the era of the cowboy, one of America’s more colorful heroes. Railroad men didn’t want cattle straying onto their tracks and up went the Devil’s rope and out went the cowpokes.

Barbed wire tends to be abandoned. I come across strands of barbed wire in woods where forests have invaded fields. The wire grows into trees and you best watch your step lest you tangle up in it, like yesteryears’ buffalo. And, yeah, it shredded my back long ago at that church baseball game in a pasture.

Barbed wire elicits memories of my drives with granddad and childhood friend and friend still, Sweetie Boy (Jessie Lee) Elam. We coursed through pastures about lightning bug time. Images from those days endure. The grassy slopes … the fertile fragrance of pastures … the lowing of cattle … the distant line of dark trees sketched by an artist it seemed and fishponds smooth as glass where bullfrogs sang and fireflies lit up green clumps of rushes. And just ahead of granddad’s jalopy? A barbed wire gap and cedar posts. Time to leap out the car. Back then fences and gaps were everywhere. Today they’re rare.


Tom Poland’s website at www.tompoland.net

Email Tom about most anything at at tompol@earthlink.net 

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Living on Purpose: Desiring God more than anything in the world

Dr. William Holland

Posted Nov. 29, 2021

By Dr. William Holland

For those who ponder about the requirements for developing and maintaining a deeper relationship with God, we must include some vital components and one of the most critical is desire. Ask any business person or athlete about what it takes to accomplish a goal and they will always testify about the importance of vision, perseverance, and determination. Likewise, when it comes to drawing nearer to the Lord we must begin with old-fashioned enthusiasm. The next question is where does this passion come from? Most Christians will agree that Christ draws people to Himself and if you are having thoughts about your spiritual life, this is evidence that you are being stirred by His grace. One thing we can be sure of whether we embrace the Calvinist or Armenian theology is that God created us so that He could have a close personal relationship with us.
 
The New Year is a couple of weeks away and it’s common to think about rededicating our commitment to our Creator and making new resolutions that bring us peace and joy. So, how do we intensify our awareness of His presence? Fire in the Bible is often used to describe spiritual adoration for the Lord. A raging blaze within a heart for God describes a stronger faith and excitement while being lukewarm is related to discouragement, apathy and defeat. Ask Him to rekindle your embers.

An important nugget of wisdom is to know that we can be as close to God as we want. Nothing is preventing us from walking with Him except our resistance. We’ve heard the passage in Romans 12:2 that talks about not being conformed to the world but being transformed by the renewing of our mind. This means we worship the things we love and until our mind is changed we will not change our behavior. God’s warning that in order for anyone to advance with Him, we must make Him our highest priority. There are levels of spiritual commitment and unfortunately it’s common to live however we want while using Him as a backup plan in case our arrangements do not work out. This is not what God had in mind when He sent His Son to the cross to restore us back to Him. Many do not understand what it means to surrender their will to God while others have no intention to yield under His control. Whatever the reasons or excuses people make to refuse Christ as their Lord and King, each person will be held accountable for the way they lived. When it comes to our opportunities to choose whom we will serve, He is either Lord of all or He is not our Lord at all.
 
I appreciate all of you who read this column each week and for the encouraging emails and cards. I spend much of my time studying and writing and enjoy the blessings of being able to share God’s word and my thoughts. I earnestly pray for the Lord to draw us all closer to Him and I believe He is willing to help anyone come into the secret place of His presence if that is what they really want. I remember the old hymn, “turn your eyes upon Jesus” and I can honestly say these words are more meaningful to me now than ever before. As we continue to focus on what is truly important in this life, we will notice how the things of this world will grow strangely dim. “I surrender all” is another convicting challenge and as I dwell on this invitation, I realize how easy it is to sing but how difficult it is to live.
 
Let’s look at some practical actions we can take that will make an immediate improvement in our personal intimacy with God. Before we build we must have a blueprint and changing our lifestyle will require a fresh agenda. Find a quiet place where you can read a certain portion of the Bible every day. Begin a prayer journal and in this time of meditation, express your deepest thoughts to Him, ask Him to fill you with His Spirit, and begin to think about others and pray for them. Do not be surprised if those around you begin to think you are weird. This is a good thing because it’s exactly what He intended. If you desire to go even deeper, you can read about the power of fasting which increases your spiritual discernment and proves that you desire to know Him more than anything in the world.

Read more about the Christian life at billyhollandministries.com

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Living on Purpose: The unthankful heart overlooks life’s blessings

Dr. William Holland

Posted Nov. 22, 2021

By Dr. William Holland

I’ve always enjoyed Thanksgiving but many times I become distracted from the intended purpose. I confess that between football, conversations, and the delicious meals I often forget how much I have to be grateful for. Let us once again be reminded of the history of human suffering that is associated with the Pilgrims. It’s been recorded that the new colony gave thanks to God for His blessings and protection as William Bradford is quoted as saying, “Being thus arrived in a good harbor, and brought safely to land, they fell upon their knees and blessed the God of Heaven who had brought them over the vast and furious ocean, and delivered them from all the perils and miseries thereof, again to set their feet on the firm and stable earth, their proper element. Thus, out of small beginnings greater things have been produced by His hand that made all things of nothing, and gives being to all things that are; and, as one small candle may light a thousand, so the light here kindled hath shone unto many, yea in some sort to our whole nation; let the glorious name of God have all the praise.” Clearly, the pilgrims of the Plymouth colony worshiped God and honored Him for all they had, but today the meaning of Thanksgiving is nearly lost under an endless avalanche of media hype, sales advertisements, marketing gimmicks, and aggressive commercialism.

Like the Pilgrims, this week we give thanks to the Lord for His blessings. I know in my own life, I am thankful for the opportunities to learn and grow in my relationship with the Lord and to help others. I realize there are hard times and difficult situations, but all in all we are fortunate to receive God’s love and to know He longs to surround us in His peace. I published a book a couple of years ago called, “A Lifestyle of Worship” and it’s about developing an awareness of God’s presence so that we can have a better understanding of who He is. Thanksgiving is more than a day off from work, a celebration ritual, or a black Friday sale, it’s a state of mind where we can take a moment to appreciate the Creator for intervening every moment. It’s wonderful to have a roof over our heads, good health, and a long list of divine benefits but I’m especially grateful for His infinite love and mercy. We can train our minds to wake up every morning and meditate about His grace as we ask Him to help us in our daily walk. It will take perseverance and serious determination to continually concentrate on how worthy He is of our gratitude and praise. “O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together” Psalm 34:3.

So, we understand the real reason for the holiday is to express our love to God not just for what He can do but just for who He is. Above my fireplace at home, there’s a log engraved with Matthew 22:37-38 and I ask the Lord regularly to please show me the depths of this spiritual truth. “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.” Every word that has ever been spoken can only scratch the surface in describing God’s endless generosity and glorious Majesty. Brother Lawrence, whose seventeenth-century work, “The Practice of the Presence of God,” details his discipline and determination to become so focused on everything around him that he might consider every situation as an opportunity to serve Christ and be thankful for His goodness. It’s my prayer today, that I may never take God’s grace for granted or allow myself to become spoiled or selfish with His blessings, but to demonstrate His endless love, generosity, and compassion to others.

When obedience and appreciation become a way of life, we will abandon our will and be more focused on His. “Heavenly Father, we thank you for this harvest season, a time set aside to remember your goodness toward us. We thank you for security, protection, our health, and our daily provisions. We appreciate the relationship we have with you and the love we share with our family and friends. Thank you for healing us through our trials and difficulties this past year, we love you, amen.”

Read more about the Christian life at billyhollandministries.com

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Stuart Neiman Cartoon: Angry White Males

Posted Nov. 22, 2021

By Stuart Neiman

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Grandmom’s Fabulous Fried Pies

Tom Poland

Posted Nov. 17, 2021

By Tom Poland
A Southern Writer
www.tompoland.net
tompol@earthlink.net

She dried sliced apple, peaches, and pears on a slanted wooden table facing the sun. Nails prevented the fruit from sliding to the ground. Once it dried to her taste, Grandmom Walker waited for a cold day. Then she mixed up some dough, prepped the fruit, and placed it into a circle of dough, which she folded into a pocket. Into a kettle of boiling oil it went. Oil bubbled and gurgled as wood coals spat and hissed and the fragrance of fresh-made fruit pies filled the air.

Fork tines seal the pies and give them a design.

Fried pies, a scene straight out of Americana.

Some of us silver-haired nostalgic types recall fried pies with fond memories. Seems to me it was during the colder months that we enjoyed such treats. The sun had taken a while to dry the fruit and working over a black kettle sitting over a bed of red coals was hot work. And besides, cooler air better carried the fragrance of cinnamon, sugar, and frying peaches and apples.

Fried pies. They were far superior to the boxed, cellophane-wrapped pies you buy in convenience stores. Who knows how old those too-sugary pies are? For sure they are mass-produced. Here’s the clincher. There was nothing mass-produced or convenient about Grandmom’s pies. Her pies were the clichéd labor of love except it was no cliché. Folks in my grandparents’ day grew fruit trees. They spent years working those trees. They harvested apples, peaches, and pears and dried them out. Freezing had not made the scene, not yet. Then one magical cold day the making of the pies commenced to the delight of a lot of kids who recall those wonderful times.

Teresa Crane Smallwood, a fast-moving auburn-haired woman who drinks four pots of coffee a day, stood over a 200-year-old table. A wooden rolling pin dusted with flour did its thing, and she worked with precision and beauty readying pies

From the kettle, fried pies cool before being rolled in cinnamon-sugar.

for the kettle, rolling dough, sealing fruit in with a swath of water, crimping pies edges with a fork, and dropping them into gurgling boiling oil in a black kettle. At 325 degrees Fahrenheit, it didn’t take long for the pies to turn into golden, juicy delicacies. Rolled into a sugar-cinnamon mix (a favorite additive of old-timey snuff dippers), the pies sweetened a tad more and then a snow-like dusting from an old hand-cranked flour sifter prettied them up nicely. The wonderful times live on here and there, the ambrosial remainders of yesteryear I’ll call them. One Thanksgiving, my sister, Deb, made some old-fashioned fried pies and they were fabulous. And then last Sunday driving a back road up near the drowned town of Petersburg, Georgia, it was my good luck to discover a woman who still makes fried pies the old-fashioned way.

Teresa hails from Commerce, Georgia, but she was born in the North Georgia mountains of Rabun County, Georgia. She operates Mountain Heritage Canning. She makes award-winning jellies, pork skins, and candied pecans. She “cans the old-timey way, one small batch at a time.” I came back with fried pies, some pork skins, and a jar of pear jelly, which is almost gone already, but her pies are the stars of her artistry.

Yet again, the back roads of the South pleased me to no end. I’ll find Teresa again I’m certain because what she sells is not just good food. She sells something rare—tangible evidence of my fond memories of Grandmom’s fabulous pies, and I suspect you wouldn’t mind purchasing a slice of the past yourself. Why not? Bring your memories alive one more time. And another and another.


Tom Poland’s website at www.tompoland.net

Email Tom about most anything at at tompol@earthlink.net 

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Living on Purpose: Land of the free and home of the brave

Dr. William Holland

Posted Nov. 15, 2021

By Dr. William Holland

As a chaplain for a Veterans health care facility and an honor guard that recognizes military personnel, I’m devoted to respecting those who were willing to give their lives for our freedom and it’s truly a privilege to spend quality time with the many fine men and women of our nation’s armed forces. In this month of remembrance, I believe it’s important to not only record and preserve their amazing accomplishments in battle but to also appreciate who they are as individuals. I remember visiting a man named Edward Hicks who willingly stepped forward when his country needed him the most. He was only 22-years-old and had just married his lovely bride, Mary Lou, four months earlier. He received the call to join the front-line and bravely responded to what would be known around the world as “Operation Overlord.”

In 1918, at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, a ceasefire was declared as the signing of the Armistice ended World War One. A year later, President Wilson declared Armistice Day as the soldiers who survived marched in hometown parades. In 1938 Armistice Day became a national holiday and then in 1971 under president Nixon it was established as Veterans Day, honoring all veterans. Though I did not serve in the military, I’m very proud of my son, who is a marine and served with the Department of Homeland Security. He is now a police officer at a Veterans Hospital. Neither my father nor my grandfather served but on my mother’s side of the family, it’s quite a different story.

My maternal grandfather Alvin fought in WWI and was in France. He was injured in the war and according to my mother; he was never the same. They had seven children, three boys, and four girls, and my mother was the baby. Like many families, all three sons eventually enlisted into the military. However, I thought it was even more unique how my grandfather and each of my uncles served in a different war. The father was in World War I, his oldest son, was in Japan during WWII, the second son was killed in Korea in 1950, and the youngest son served in the Vietnam era. I vaguely remember two of these uncles and now realize they both suffered terribly from PTSD.

My mom was very close to her brother who died in Korea. His nickname was Kenny and after he graduated High School, he worked a little part-time job before he was drafted. She remembers that he would give her ten cents every Saturday to buy some candy, which she looked forward to. He would also buy his mother flowers every week and she would set them on the kitchen table. My mom recalls the terrible day when military representatives knocked on their door and told her mother that they were sorry to inform her that her son had been killed. He was only 20-years-old. Her mother ran through the house wailing and screaming, “No God, please no.” Everyone was devastated as her mother went to bed and stayed there for weeks.

The 24-note melancholy bugle call known as “Taps” is played at military funerals and memorial services to accompany the lowering of the flag and to signal the lights out command at day’s end. Here is a portion of the lyrics, “Day is done, gone the sun, from the lake, from the hill, from the sky. All is well, safely rest, God is nigh. Put out the lights, go to sleep, go to sleep.” We live only a few miles from Camp Nelson National Cemetery and from the highway you can see rows of the over twelve thousand perfectly lined white marble tombstones. When I drive past this sacred ground, I think how each of these individuals at one time or another accepted the call of duty. And what is that call? To fight against human injustice and the evil governments and philosophies of tyrannical dictators. Patrick Henry is quoted as saying, “I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death.” The heart’s cry of a soldier is to defend and protect our freedom whatever the cost. Howard Osterkamp is quoted as saying, “All gave some – but some gave all” as we will never forget not only those who were willing to make the ultimate sacrifice but especially for the ones who did.

Read more about the Christian life at billyhollandministries.com

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Stuart Neiman Cartoon: Inflation

Posted Nov. 15, 2021

By Stuart Neiman

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No Gas, No Batteries, No Electricity Required

Tom Poland

Posted Nov. 10, 2021

By Tom Poland
A Southern Writer
www.tompoland.net
tompol@earthlink.net

All it requires is a steady hand. It doesn’t disturb the peace on Saturday mornings. So quiet is it, I doubt it’d suffer banning in ever-vigilant California. If you hear it working, at most you’ll hear a swish of air and a cutting raspy sound. Maybe. It’s that quiet.

Back in a place called yesteryear, if by chance you heard the swishing, it came in an easygoing pleasing rhythm, but nothing about it was easy—not to many. In fact, you might have heard a bad word or two when it caught the leg of its operator or blisters began to form.

The sling blade worked quite well with left-handed and right-handed fellas. Gals too. I remember seeing a man pass it from one hand to the other as he cut weeds on both sides. He seemed an athlete with the ease in which he leveled weeds.

I don’t see sling blades much anymore unless I stumble across one on the wall of some throwback restaurant. Maybe in a museum or in some country store propped up in a corner, or more likely hanging on a nail in an old barn. I have not seen one in use in many years.

Should you see one, you won’t see any plastic on a sling blade. No controls. No knobs. No adjustments needed. It was as low tech as they come. All it demanded was a sharpening of the blades. And, as one fellow said, “It was one of those tools you could leave by the side of the road, and it’d be there when you returned.”

I dreaded using ours. Dad would tell me to fetch the sling blade and get busy cutting a thick stand of Johnson grass. I never got any good with it although I should have, because the sling blade, with its two-sided serrated blade, cut going and coming and I used it many a day. It conquered many a weed, many a pine seedling, honeysuckle, and I daresay it took a turn at kudzu too. And it did so quietly.

I dreaded using it more than any other tool because it was boring. Maybe some of you found it boring as well. Then progress brought us electric- and gas-powered weedeaters. Not long ago battery-operated weedeaters made the scene. All seemed a gift from the gods. But are they?

In this era of handwringing over emissions and climate change, the old manual sling blade looks friendlier and friendlier as environmental worries go. All it required was a steady hand driven by muscle power. You had no worries about gas fumes nor did you worry about tangling with a power cord. Of course, none of that was on Dad’s mind seeing honeysuckle invading the back yard. Knowing full well that an idle mind is the devil’s workshop, he dispatched me to slay the vines, sling blade in hand.

Well, the sling blade isn’t extinct. I talked to some folks and several say they still use it. I’m glad to hear that. Consider them unintentional environmentalists. Most others use weedeaters and varied power tools.

For the most part, the handy, reliable sling blade has become passé. Now this relic of earlier times, like manual pruning shears, hammers, rakes, posthole diggers, and old manual mowers sees limited use. The arrival of powered weedeaters along with their cousins the nail guns, mowers of all types, leaf blowers, and electric shears changed things. The problem with power tools is it doesn’t take much for them to break and soon they end up in the junk heap.

But, if you look in some far-flung country outpost, you might see an old sling blade in use. It won’t need batteries, gas, or electricity. Sharpening and a steady hand are all it needs along with patience, muscle power, and a good attitude.


Tom Poland’s website at www.tompoland.net

Email Tom about most anything at at tompol@earthlink.net 

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Living on Purpose: Making the effort to do what is right

Dr. William Holland

Posted Nov. 8, 2021

By Dr. William Holland

In Luke 10:30-37, a certain lawyer approaches Jesus with a spiritual question: “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” How fitting that a legal expert would ask Jesus about a subject he was trained to understand. Jesus points this man and the rest of us to the law of heaven, “Whoever loves God with all their heart, soul, strength, and mind, and whoever loves their neighbor as themselves will have eternal life.” This arrogant attorney was only pretending to make sure he understood clearly whom he is obligated to love, and continued another attempt to justify his prejudice. “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus responds to this second query with the story of the Good Samaritan.

The Good Samaritan was obviously a sensitive and caring person who at significant cost to himself, stopped to help a wounded stranger that had been beaten and robbed and was being ignored by everyone passing by. Making his rescue attempt even more remarkable is the fact that he was a Samaritan and the man who was hurt was his Jewish neighbor. You see, traditionally Jews and Samaritans despised each other. It’s true the Samaritan is the hero of the story and a model of Biblical compassion, but his actions should not be seen as extraordinary. This is the standard attitude of Christian love that God expects or more accurately He demands from all of His followers as a normal lifestyle. Some of the villains in this true account are surprisingly the religious leaders who turned their heads and their hearts away and acted as if they did not see the crisis. It’s easy to heap scorn on such callous disregard, but there is also a good chance we may have fared no better. These respected figures within the community might have felt pity for the victim and may have even said a silent prayer for him as they passed by, however, refusing to become involved was sadly based on racial bigotry and political correctness.

We have also driven past those who hold signs begging for help which leaves us with countless opinions. We’ve heard stories about those who are professional scammers and how they play on people’s emotions. There are always reasons and excuses why we do not pick up hitchhikers or help those who sleep under bridges and mostly it’s because we would rather not be involved. We know it’s critical to use our spiritual discernment, but should we try to help everyone? We can imagine what the people in our story were thinking for example, “I’m not comfortable or trained to treat wounds, and I’m afraid he might have a disease.” “What if he dies, I will be blamed.” Maybe they justified their decision with the idea they should not be expected to be responsible for everyone else’s problems. Others might have been suspicious this person was a criminal and deserved what happened and this was his punishment. Or maybe they were just really busy that day or were late for a lunch date or an important meeting. Whatever reasons these individuals deemed it either too costly or insignificant, Jesus condemns them. To love their neighbor at that moment required stopping what they were focused on and deciding to do what was right.

Jesus continues to teach these spiritual principles as He declares in Matthew chapter 25, that whatever we refuse to do for others, we are also ignoring to consider Him. This includes our love. So, how crucial is it to be sensitive to the voice of the Holy Spirit and be ready to serve? The people in this Matthew passage are sent into eternal damnation because they failed to care for the needy. Remember the rich man and Lazarus. Romans chapter 12 speaks directly to believers about the practical and often painful ministry of being a living sacrifice. This means we should be prepared to act when a divine appointment presents itself as having a higher level of spiritual discernment is why we talk so much about walking in the awareness of God’s presence. Being sympathetic is not enough as James says in 2:15-16, “If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, go in peace, be warmed and filled, without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?” How is feeling sorry for someone helping anything? Until our minds are renewed to resist our carnal selfish nature, we will never be like Jesus.

Read more about the Christian life at billyhollandministries.com

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Living on Purpose: God has a wonderful plan for you

Dr. William Holland

Posted Nov. 1, 2021

By Dr. William Holland

If we do not learn from our trials, then our distress has been a missed opportunity. Crisis situations are occasions to put our faith and patience to work and may we always remember that we cannot be defeated as God is for us and is constantly working on our behalf. There are times when we will suffer trauma, discouragement, or even persecution, and no doubt it will be uncomfortable but we must eventually get back up and dust ourselves off and get back into the race. God has always known all the fine details about you and has every intention to use you now more than ever before! He is trying to get your attention that he might polish you and challenge you to be a strong and effective instrument to accomplish his purposes. When the blacksmith is working on his vision, he does not toss it in the corner and forget about it. He has invested much effort because he intends to use his creation for a specific purpose.

This is not a time to throw in the towel, but to be inspired and encouraged by God’s infinite mercy and grace. Unforgiveness and bitterness can make us vulnerable and powerless to spiritual attacks. The Bible says in Mark 3:27, “No man can enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he will first bind the strong man; and then he will spoil his house.” You and I represent the strong man that occasionally lets down our guard and whenever we become discouraged, our feelings can help bind and hold us captive to the enemy that desires to control our lives. Whenever we give allow a circumstance to dominate our emotions, we have lost the ability to manage the direction of our life. Remember, Jesus has already conquered the kingdom of darkness, so there is no need to fear what has already been defeated. We are to pray for spiritual discernment so that we can recognize when deception is trying to defeat us. God wants to heal our emotional wounds and this can begin when we demonstrate forgiveness, sincerely let go of resentment, and continue moving forward in faith and obedience.

To remain offended is to be plagued with the ongoing torture of emotional and spiritual infection. The Greek word for stumbling block is skandalon and is often used to describe a snare trap where bait is attached to entice the victim to be held captive. This term is used for anything that causes resentment to arise which can hold us captive. It’s easy to fall for the temptation to be offended and this unforgiveness prevents us from living in the joy, peace, and contentment of God’s presence. The deeper the pain the more valuable the lesson and as you learn from your trials, allow them to build your character and wisdom so you can teach and help others from your experiences. If we have sinned, then it is time to ask God to forgive us and be restored. We do not need to live in the agony of anger and rebellion any longer.

It’s not popular, but occasionally we go through severe trials that are a chastisement from the Lord. This is a blessing for those who are truly His children to know that God loves us so much He will intervene and bring discipline if we refuse to listen to His instructions. We are reminded in Proverbs 3:11, “My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord; neither be weary of His correction.” As soon as we repent with sincere sorrow and humility, He is gracious to cleanse and restore the joy of our salvation. To God, you are a masterpiece! Pray for the awareness of His presence as you watch carefully for His unseen hand and listen intently for His still small voice. Some may ask, how can the God of all things have time to care about circumstances that have hurt me? Does He understand how I feel and does He have a solution for helping me overcome these afflictions? Absolutely my dear one, this is why He promised in Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans and thoughts that I have for you, says the Lord, plans for peace and well-being and not for ruin, but to give you a future and a hope.” He is all things to all people as His merciful and endless love is the greatest authority in the universe.

Read more about the Christian life at billyhollandministries.com

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