My observations of the 2015 Maranatha Christian Writers’ Conference

Somebody told me before I came to Maranatha that this was considered the best small conference for Christian writers. I confirm that recommendation.

One of the best things about attending conferences is meeting people. Running into old writing friends is always a joy. Gail Gaymer Martin insisted she get a picture of the two of us, I handed my phone to someone so I’d have proof of our encounter, too. Yes, I have my arm around a multi-award winning author. Our paths first crossed about four years ago at a small conference in Texas. We also met at ACFW.

Gail Martin_Maranatha

New friends are always a bonus, too. Len and Mike Blaha, a father/son duo, are now FB friends and real-life friends. They’re both new to being bitten by the writing bug. I can’t wait to see how God is going to use them to reach folks to further His kingdom.

As you can tell by my attire the atmosphere is a bit more laid back here in Michigan. The flannel shirts were a natural for me to wear in my home state.

I made another multi-award winning author, and more, connection at Maranatha this year. When I stepped into the dining hall for the first breakfast there was a tall man sorting through the diced fruit. He looked up and said, “I feel like we met at some point a long time ago and far away.”

I told him it was a far distance away, but not that long ago. At last month’s ACFW conference I made eye contact with the keynote speaker as he was pacing at the back of the huge room he was to speak in. We never got a chance to carry on a conversation at that event. I knew Bill Myers would be at Maranatha so I didn’t worry about getting a chance to connect here.

Later in the day, after one of the sessions, Bill approached me from behind and asked me to become a visual at an important part of his presentation. I said, “Sure, I can stand still.”

I went up and represented God the Father while a married man stood for Jesus the Son who brought His bride to God. It was a powerful display and a sincere privilege.

My writing may never win any prestigious awards, but I can now lay claim to the fact that a Hollywood movie producer hand-picked me to play the role of God. That puts me right up there with the likes of Morgan Freeman and George Burns. This is my blog. I can have my moments of grandeur here.

Bill and I did share a few meals together along with conversation. The sanitizing of the Christmas story was a mutual agreement between us.

Maranatha Memorabelia

The theme of this year’s conference was MISSION:Possible. Yes, the theme song to a classic TV show is bouncing around in my head as I type this, too.

One of the main reasons I went through the arduous task of driving 1,109 miles to attend such a small conference was to make contact with the tremendous publishers in the Midwest. I did get two requests for a proposal for my Christmas devotional book. Both publishers have been on my wish list of ones to work with in my career.

Moody was one of the Colleges I played soccer against in college. With such a rich heritage I would love to be a part of their future.

Discovery House’s association with Our Daily Bread Devotional booklets is another dream publisher. Andy said if I had approached him one year ago he would have flat out told me they don’t touch anything using biblical fiction. But, now they’re thinking about using it as long as it’s dealt with properly.

Timing is crucial in this business. God’s timing is impeccable. I’m excited about the potential with either of these houses.

My word for the year did show up on the screen during the conference, persevere. It’s such an important trait to build for every Christian.

The worship times were incredible, so were the times we gathered to sing praises to God. I hadn’t been anywhere where just a piano was used as a musical instrument in a long time. Some songs from last week’s men’s retreat sounded just as glorious coming from a mixed audience of men and women, all children of God.

I walked out to the beach twice; once when I first arrived and again just before I left. God spoke to me both times.

I knew it was only because of His command all that sand wasn’t washed out into such a vast expanse of water. If He has that under control He can write my life script, too.

The two of us have a quaint “fleece gesture” for Him to confirm I’m where I’m supposed to be in His will for my life. When I find a coin, usually a penny, in an unusual place I find solace in that. As I walked away from the water for the last time a bright penny was setting on top of the sand. The date on that coin is 2014, the most difficult year of my life. I persevered and am still trudging along my road with a cross to carry.

I took the time to swing on the sturdy swing set on the beach before I left. When I was ten I dreamed twice that I could fly. That swing was my way of feeling like I was flying. I’ve been braced for God to use me in a way I never imagined possible. Yes, I’m optimistic about this writing journey I’m on.

I was hoping to bring a free book back from the conference as I did from last month’s conference. There was a drawing for some gift baskets made by one of the agents in attendance. I won one of those baskets. I don’t have enough time to read the books I own already, but I know a special red-head who loves to read and has time for it in her life. I’m planning on using these books to begin to woo Barb back.

God’s timing is impeccable. Did I mention that, yet? Fleece comes in many varieties, too.

Prayer support is encouraged and needed. Thank you for taking the time to read this blog and lifting me up to the throne of grace. It’s so good to be a member of such a loving family.

Keep smiling.   Wade

I finally have my word for the year: PERSEVERE

Don’t freak out on me now. No, this isn’t Monday morning, just a Monday morning blog post from me. I have two reasons for posting this now: first, the subject matter of the devo post is too important to treat lightly–Jesus’s second coming; and second, my life is so busy with life at the moment this is all I can come up with on my self-imposed deadline.

A lot of my blogging buddies spend the end of each year and beginning of the next, that became the present while they were living–you see, my life isn’t the only one that gets crazy busy at times–coming up with a word from God for them to live by for the next twelve months. Me, personally, I have a whole dictionary of words for me to live my life by according to God’s guidelines. Actually I don’t use a dictionary for this method but God’s Word, the Bible.

Last weekend I spent time in east Texas studying 2 Peter under the guidance of Michael Easley. Peter gives a list of steps we’re to follow in our Christian walk to becoming more like Jesus. My life seems to be stuck on the perseverance step. Has been for quite a while.

So, the word from God for me to live by this year is PERSEVERE.

I’m not too comfortable with the fact that two-thirds of that word is “severe.” I can’t say it surprises me at the moment either. Getting off this step will be a blessing if it ever happens.

A little backstory for this post is in order. I’m typing this from my room at the Maranatha Christian Writers’ Conference near Muskegon, Michigan. 1,109 miles from my apartment in Plano, Texas. God has pulled a LOT of strings to get me here right now. I won’t go into them here.

I knew the journey here was going to be rough. I just didn’t have any guess as to how rough. The four nights before I left to drive here were spent with very little sleep. That’s not the way I wanted to prepare for this event. I trust God has His plans though.

My life as a truck driver has prepared me for long stints on the road with little sleep. So I persevered to my destination.

I’ve been praying for an Indian Summer when I got here. What I received was an INDIAN SUMMER. The fall color show began in southern Illinois and has only gotten better.

When someone mentions an orange tree to a person in south Texas they think of a tree that produces oranges as their fruit. An orange tree in Michigan in October has a whole nuther definition–as you can see in this photo.

Orange tree in Michigan

I’m so glad I persevered to get back to my roots. The self-imposed whiplash from trying to view all the colors was totally expected. I did this every October when I lived here full time, too.

Maranatha is right on Lake Michigan. The main building aren’t, but a short walk is all it took to find that massive body of fresh water. The flock of seagulls reminded me to keep my hat on. For some reason they appeared to have a dislike for me. That or they liked to use me as target practice from the sky. I’m hoping I’m enough generations removed from those birds that these birds don’t recognize me at all. We’ll see.

God is so good at giving breaks to those of us under perseverance. Mine came on the beach Thursday morning before the conference began. I used my phone to record one minute of waves and blue skies with fluffy clouds.

No music with this video. The waves make their own song. Now I’m charged for the coming days of relaxing, learning, networking and persevering.

Keep smiling.   Wade

My observations of the 2015 Stonebriar men’s retreat

One of the highlights of my year just concluded. The Stonebrair Community Church’s 2015 Men’s Retreat is in the books as a real winner.

The weather was all we could ask for. No rain, like last year’s event had; warm temperatures, cool mornings actually which is always a pleasant surprise in Texas in October; and high clouds that made for two spectacular sunsets. I actually recorded the sun going behind the trees on the far shore of Lake Palestine for one full minute.

The retreat was held one week later than usual this year. Something about the OU/Texas game falling on the typical weekend of our retreat messed with some schedules. I noticed some other changes this year.

We had fewer vultures circling overhead this year. I never knew if they were residents or migrators in past years. I made it a habit of watching their silent spiraling dance into the sky near our campground each time I sat on the dock soaking up the solitude of the retreat setting. This year there were only two instead of the usual couple dozen and two bald eagles. I learned they were just a passin’ thru like the rest of us.

It was always interesting to see one of them coast along the beach in search of death that would bring it life. That’s pretty much what us men were there for. We needed to find what part of Jesus’s death would nourish us along in our lives.

We had a good proportion of first time attendees this year, along with a good number of father/son or similar combinations in attendance. That’s always great to see. Our teacher even brought his two sons-in-law with him.

The worship times were phenomenal as usual. There’s just something about more than 100 men lifting their voices in praise to the Maker of the universe that does this child of the King’s heart good.

God and I had our typical one-on-one time. When everyone else was assembling for the first session I snuck out onto the dock and re-devoted my life to His service. Before I knew it I was on my knees in reverence and awestruck wonder in the dark of night, yet in full view of Him.

I used the Saturday afternoon free time to catch up on sleep with an hour-long nap. Then I walked out to a quiet cove and soaked up more of God’s wonderful serenity in nature. The stroll back took over twice as long to complete than the walk out did. A lot of thoughts swirled through my mind then.

Michael Easley hit it out of the ballpark each session we had with him. I just wish I had more than ten seconds to talk to him after the first session. That’s how popular he is. His humor and vulnerability combine so well with his practical teaching of scripture. Now you know why he’s been back for three of the six years I’ve been attending these retreats.

We concentrated our attention on Second Peter with the theme of “Be on Guard.” The parallels between Peter’s day and ours is quite remarkable. We’re more ready to stay alert to what’s going on around us, keeping in mind our availability to God’s divine power available in God’s Word, God’s Spirit and God’s people.

We were called to remain on yellow alert at all times, if not higher. We’re praying it’s not too late to save our great nation, but know God has to intervene for true change to take place.

We know God placed us here at this time in history to make a difference. Keeping a lookout for false teachers rising up from within our midst is crucial.

Michael wants to write a book on his theme of “do the right thing the right way then go home.” It’ll be a winner.

Speaking of writing books I’m more ready for next week’s adventure in my life. I hope to witness some sunsets on Lake Michigan as I attend the Maranatha Christian Writers’ Conference in Muskegon, Michigan. God has orchestrated some pretty remarkable events to show me how important it is for me to go there this year. Your prayers for me are greatly appreciated. I don’t expect the trip to be an easy one.

I apologize for the lack of humor in this Monday’s post. I didn’t sleep that well the past two nights. I did spend more time in prayer, though. A couple of nights in my own bed should make up for it before the cross-country trek.

Keep smiling.   Wade

THE WOES

Thadeus rushed to his room in the temple square. He removed the heavy scribe’s robe and changed into pain clothes. He pried the door open and waited until the outside conversation carried past the street corner.

Once clear of the scribe’s quarters he worked his way back to the temple. Pressing through the crowd he came as close to Jesus as he could get without drawing attention to himself.

He hid his face from the fellow scribe who had just received an answer from Jesus.

Jesus watched the scribe walk away, then turned to the crowd. “The scribes and Pharisees sit in Moses’s place to inform you about the law. Do as they tell you, but don’t do as they do. They love to build your burdens while taking theirs away. They love for you to notice their long prayers, large phylacteries and prominent seats at gatherings. Any of you who wants to be great should strive to be a servant to everyone. When you humble yourself you shall be exalted.

But, woe to the scribes and Pharisees who close up heaven for themselves and others they lead. They devour widows houses then recite long prayers.

Woe to the scribes and Pharisees who travel far to win a proselyte then make him a better son of the devil than they are.

Woe to you blind guides who tell people to swear by the gold of the temple without swearing by the temple. Hypocrites, which is mightier, the temple or the gold of the temple? If you swear by heaven you swear by the throne of God and He who sits on that throne.

Woe to the scribes and Pharisees who tithe their spices but neglect the real issues of justice, mercy and faith. You strain out a gnat and swallow a camel.

Woe to you scribes and Pharisees who clean the outside of a cup but leave the inside full of filth. Hypocrites, first clean the inside then the entire vessel will be clean and useful.

Woe to you scribes and Pharisees. You are like whitewashed tombs that have the appearance of outward purity, but inside you’re full of dead bones and unclean things.

Woe to you scribes and Pharisees who dress up the tombs of the prophets and claim you wouldn’t have committed the atrocities of your fathers if you had been with them. You say rightly you are sons of wickedness, yet you follow along with their transgressions. Prophets, scribes and wise men are still being sent to you and you’re still killing and persecuting them today.”

The crowd shifted in front of Thadeus.

Jesus stared at him intently for what seemed like a night watch, then Jesus looked over the scribe’s shoulder toward the temple.

Thadeus watched some men pouring their coins into the treasury collection cone. Then an elderly woman approached. Her hand lifted briefly to the cone, then she walked away. The sound of Jesus turned Thadeus around.

“I tell you that widow put in more than anybody else today. They put in an offering out of their abundance, but she gave her all, a true sacrifice. It is noticed by My Father in Heaven.”

Thadeus staggered back until a wall stopped his progress.

********

To say Jesus disapproved of the way the religious leaders of His day handled their responsibilities would be an understatement.

Matthew 23 is the strongest indictment of the scribes and Pharisees on record. The outward show of the blowhards had reached a climax with the Son of God. Jesus was pushing them to make changes by declaring their hypocrisies and shortcomings.

He knew his time was short so He pulled out all the stops. The importance of purity of worship had been diluted to the point of being unrecognizable.

I would have hated to be a scribe in the crowd that day. That’s why I wrote this from the viewpoint I did. Imagine his realization of God’s hatred of the way things were conducted by him and his colleagues.

Put yourself in that crowd now. Is there anything Jesus would single out about you that might be done to get the attention of others over being true worship to God?

Are you always the first person to pray in a group setting and/or are your prayers always the longest ones at the meeting. You may feel like you just have more to say, but try to keep it to the point. God knows more about the situation than all of you in the room.

Do you flaunt how much money you give to your church or other charitable organization? I’m not saying giving large sums of money is bad. If you’re giving it just to gain influence, status or a sense of importance you need to check your motives.

Have you ever done something for someone while trying to stay invisible about it? There’s quite a sense of reward in doing so. God smiles on such actions. A random anonymous act can lift a spirit higher than anything else. Try it sometime.

Anyone in leadership holds a great deal of responsibility. Guard your heart at all times.

Those called by God to guide people to Him have an intense responsibility. Check your motives constantly.

The slope away from God’s best is gradual at the top. Stay accountable to others to secure your position.

Peers may see your sliding before you notice it. If you wait until the fallout is seen by a larger audience the climb back to the top will likely become quite messy.

Choose a peer group devoted to building God’s kingdom. If you all want to build your own followings ahead of all else you’ll all fall together.

Keep God’s truth as the mainstay of your focus. Compromise is an effective lubricant.

Quality of affect should always outweigh quantity. Depth of character must be more important than size.

Keep your flock on God’s narrow path. Remember the broad road leads to destruction.

Popularity shouldn’t be your focus. God’s kingdom needs to be.

I’ll see you later.   Wade

Did you see the blood moon eclipse?

There was a unique stellar phenomena recently that I missed. It was a blood moon of ultimate proportions.

“What’s a blood moon?” You ask.

No, nobody cut the moon to make it bleed. Besides, green cheese doesn’t have any blood in it. Don’t you know anything about real science?

A blood moon occurs when the moon is closer to the earth than normal.

“But, I thought the moon stayed the same distance from the earth. What do you mean it came closer than normal?”

If you keep asking these questions this will be one long post. The moon has what’s called an irregular orbit around the earth. That means it’s at different distances from the earth all the time.

“How do scientists know when it’s going to be close or far?”

If I was a scientist do you think I’d be writing this blog post for fun? All I know is they don’t ask me about such things which is good because I don’t have a clue how they figured this stuff out.

“Back to my first question, what’s a blood moon?”

When the moon is full at a time it comes close to the earth two things happen.

  1. It looks huge compared to any other time in its orbit. I witnessed one of these many moons ago while traveling back to college from a weekend home. My sister and I had just come around a curve in the road and began to cross Hardy Dam on the Muskegon River. The moon was just over the trees on the other side of the backwaters. It was so big I stopped in the road and we stared at it for about a minute. Fortunately there wasn’t anybody else using the road then or we might have witnessed our own blood being spilled. It was one of those times I wished I had a camera.
  2. The refraction of the atmosphere gives it a red appearance because of the light spectrum being exposed. How’s that for an non-scientist’s scientific explanation of a technical issue? Seriously, the light being bounced off the moon at that point is so intense it mimics a sunset or sunrise. Red is the only light from a rainbow’s spectrum being filtered at that point so it has the appearance of bleeding red.

“How often does the moon bleed like that?”

Not as often as a blue moon.

“When does the moon look blue?”

Now your questions are coming too fast. The moon never actually looks blue.

“Then why do you call it a blue moon?”

Slow down…slow down, I’ll explain. Give me some time to think of an explanation that makes sense.

I don’t know why a blue moon is called blue because it never actually appears blue. A blue moon happens when two full moons occur during the same calendar month.

“How often does that happen?”

Not very often, hence the expression, “once in a blue moon.” Since the moon has an irregular orbit and months have irregular lengths it’s rare. That means it doesn’t happen very often. Now I’m repeating myself. I hope this makes sense now.

“Umm…go on.”

For some reason beyond my understanding there’s been a series of blood moons fairly close together. This was the forth such phenomena and it was unique for what happened after it cleared the horizon.

“What happened?”

It went dark from an eclipse.

“Do they call it a black moon then?”

Where did you come up with that cockamamy expression? There’s no such thing as a black moon as far as I know. Which isn’t very far.

“Then, what’s an eclipse?”

An eclipse occurs when the orbit of the moon places the earth between it and the sun. The shadow of the earth makes it so you can’t see the moon. It’s actually the fullest a moon ever appears.

“How often does that happen?”

(deep breath…slow exhale) The only thing I know for sure is God has everything under control. He’s orchestrated everything so well scientists figured out when these events will happen several years in advance.

“Then, why don’t scientists believe in God?”

Because they think they’ve got so many things figured out they don’t need God in their lives to tell them how best to live.

Me, I’m not that smart. I know there are too many things out of my control to trust anything I think I might know.

The creator of everything I see has the power to stop the sun and moon in their tracks anytime He pleases. He did it once.

“How do you know that?”

It’s in the Bible. In Joshua 10:13 Joshua told the sun to stand still so Israel could win a battle. God made it stop a full day to insure victory.

“WOW!”

I was hoping that would get your attention. All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen. That ‘s why I believe Jesus is the only way to heaven. Nobody else even comes close to performing the miracles He did.

Wise up and trust Jesus with your eternal destiny before it’s too late. He died for you because He loves you too much to leave you as you are.

He will never leave you. Not even in a blue moon…or any other color moon for that matter.

Keep smiling.   Wade

THE JABS

“If we can just get Jesus to say something we can bring up against the Romans we’ll have grounds for execution.” The priest sat back.

A Sadducee stood. “How about taxes to Rome?”

A Pharisee clapped. “I’ll take some Herodians to trip Him up there.”

The priest nodded. “Do it.”

****

The Pharisees and Herodians approached Jesus. “Rabbi, we know You don’t care about what others think of Your teachings because You’re convinced they come from God. What do You say about paying taxes to Rome? Must we?”

Jesus shook His head slowly. “Show me a denarius.”

They brought a coin to Him.

Jesus pointed at it. “Who is on it?”

“Caesar.”

“Give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s”

The group walked away looking at the ground.

Some Sadducees walked up to Jesus. “Teacher, suppose a man marries a woman and they have no children. According to the law his brother must raise children for him. Let’s say seven brothers marry one woman with none of them conceiving. Who will marry this woman in the resurrection after she also dies?”

Jesus sat down. “You are mistaken about many things. In the resurrection nobody will marry. They’ll be as the angels in heaven. As far as the resurrection goes haven’t you read about what God said to Moses? He said He’s the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He’s the God of the living not the dead.”

A Scribe stayed back after the Sadducees left. “Rabbi, which is the greatest commandment of all?”

Jesus nodded. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. The second is like it: love your neighbor as yourself.”

The Scribe nodded. “Well said, Rabbi. That is true.”

Jesus stared at the Scribe. “You declare the Messiah to be a son of David. Why then does David call Him Lord when led by the Holy Spirit he wrote: ‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand til I make your enemies your footstool.”‘ If David calls him Lord how is He his son?”

The Scribe shrugged, then walked away.

********

If this were a boxing match all these attempts to get Jesus to say something against Rome to use against Him would be considered jabs–quick hits that don’t do much damage.

The religious leaders were working to find anything they could use to end Jesus’s life. They failed because they never admitted His divine authority.

The tax issue would have been the most likely anti-Roman incitement. Jesus put that to rest without breathing hard.

The marriage in heaven issue could have made Him appear against God’s laws. Jesus corrected them since He did know what goes on in heaven.

The question of the greatest commandment came after these failed attempts left an admiration. Jesus answered that question and raised the bar by asking His own.

Not only did they not trap Him, but Jesus left them searching for deeper reflection into the scriptures.

That’s what you get when you criticize the author of the Book.

How have you treated Jesus?

Are you questioning His authority in your life?

Do you deny His superior right to reign?

Are you convinced He must be wrong about something?

Perhaps you haven’t given Him the respect He deserves because you haven’t searched the scriptures deeply enough.

Who is this man who walked on water?

How did He calm the storm so easily?

He healed the sick and raised dead people back to life, why didn’t He save himself from death on the cross?

Maybe these are some questions you need to ask before you question Jesus any further.

The Bible is the only place you need to look for answers.

I don’t need to defend Jesus to you. You must dig for truth in the book He wrote.

If you get your arguments from others who tell you they’re right you’re misled. It’s not that they’re right, they just looking to build a following. Search for the truth on your own.

Jesus has nothing to hide. That’s why the Bible is available today. It hasn’t changed because God hasn’t changed.

There are many good books out there written by people who have searched the Bible to discover who Jesus really is. The best one I can suggest is MORE THAN A CARPENTER by Josh McDowell.

Josh went from someone who ridiculed Christians to a defender of Jesus after he searched the Bible for answers.

 He isn’t the first person to have that change of heart and he won’t be the last.

There are three basic responses people give when you mention Jesus Christ.

  1. They admire Him as God’s Son and Savior of their life. These people have accepted Jesus’s death on the cross as the necessary step to build the bridge that fills the gap sin has made between us and God. They recognize Jesus’s resurrection from the dead as proof He has power over every enemy we face.
  2. They see Him as just another person, perhaps a great teacher of truths. These people accept Jesus lived and walked and taught. They likely rank Him up there with Mohammed, Confucius, Gandhi and a few other great spiritual leaders throughout history. They fall short of seeing Jesus as equal to God in any way.
  3. They hate Jesus with a passion. These people see Jesus as a threat to society. Many Jews don’t accept Him as the promised Messiah. Non-Jews see this Jew as a menace who indeed needed to be stopped. Attempts are made to remove any mention of Him or His influence throughout history.

If you’re a seeker you’re curious about Jesus.

You may be reading this to learn more about Him.

Please keep searching for Him, but don’t put off making a decision much longer.

Nobody knows when their time to die will come.

At that point it will be too late for you to come into His kingdom for eternity.

I’ll see you later.   Wade

The fields are white for harvest, y’all!

On a recent west Texas delivery route I experienced two incredible things. One of them I hadn’t seen in quite a while. The other one I had seen, but not at such high temperatures.

What can I say? I had too many long miles in the truck that day.

The times are short for us to bring the harvest in. Let’s do all we can to fill the kingdom of God to capacity.

Keep smiling.   Wade

THE PARABLES

Thadeus nodded, not so much because he agreed with Jesus, but from how impressed he was by the way Jesus deflected every question, accusation and inference made toward Him.

The crowd hushed when Jesus looked at the leaders and spoke.

“Here’s another parable: One day a landowner prepared a vineyard. He built a fence around it, dug a vat to press the grapes and constructed a tower in the middle of it. Then he leased the land out and moved away. At harvest time he sent a servant to bring back some of the grapes as payment from the lessees. When the men growing the grapes saw the servant they beat him and sent him away with nothing. A second servant was treated even worse. The third servant was killed. The landowner couldn’t go himself so he decided to send his only son. ‘They’ll respect my son,’ he reasoned. But, when the men saw the son approaching they gathered together and schemed to kill the son so the land would belong to them with no heir to claim it.”

A gasp rose from the crowd.

Jesus turned back to the leaders. “What do you think the land owner will do to those evil men?”

Thadeus gave his answer. “He’ll destroy those men and lease the land to those who will pay the proper rent.”

Jesus stared at the chief priests. “Have you never read the passage ‘The stone the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone’? Anyone who falls on this stone will be broken, but whomever this stone falls will be ground into a powder.”

The priests and scribes stepped forward. The crowd filled in between them and Jesus with a cheer.

Jesus raised His hands and brought silence back. “The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who married off his son. His servants went out to bring in the important people who’d been invited to the wedding. Those men ignored the servants. When a  second attempt was made the men killed those servants. The angry king brought his army and destroyed those murderers. ‘Go into the streets and bring in anyone you find to the feast,’ he instructed his servants. Soon the wedding hall was filled to capacity. But, the king approached a man dressed in dirty clothes. ‘How did you get in here without wedding apparel?’ The man said nothing. ‘Cast this man out into outer darkness’. The king commanded.

“Many are called, but few are chosen.”

As the scribes and priests walked back to the temple Thadeus thought out loud. “I thought He was going to use Isaiah’s vineyard of wild grapes the way He started.”

A chief priest’s hard stare changed the subject.

Thadeus let out one more thought. “I always wondered what chief cornerstone the Psalm referred to.”

The procession stopped when all the priests and scribes stared at Thadeus.

********

The master story teller strikes again.

Jesus had a way of spinning a yarn into a tale that spoke to whatever situation He found Himself in. He knew the priests and scribes were out to get Him. His deft use of the scriptures in stories that both warn everyone of their plot and foretold of impending doom was marvelous.

The religious leaders were obviously the wicked vinedressers in the first parable. They’d abused the prophets in the Old Testament. Now they were preparing to kill God’s Son. Even Jesus’s warning of disaster for that action didn’t deter them.

Jesus’s reference to destroying the city of those who rejected His invitation to attend the wedding of His son went ignored. Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 AD. The sacred temple was demolished. The old order of things was completely changed.

Why were these men so determined to end Jesus’s life no matter what the consequences were?

Many of you aren’t going to like my answer to that question, but God set them on that path of disaster.

That’s right. The entire denial of Jesus as the Messiah was orchestrated by God.

This was all planned before the world was even created. That’s why all those prophesies about Jesus were so accurately fulfilled.

Events in our lives are just as orchestrated by God today. Yes, even the ‘bad’ things that occur.

I’m not suggesting Satan has no part in these evils. He relishes every chance he can take to bring us down.

I’m sure he was at the height of his glory when Jesus died on the cross. But, his victory was short-lived.

His victories now should be just as limited.

Trust me, I know the pain and anguish of Satan’s schemes. I’ve been the recipient of a few of them in my life. They’ve stopped me in my tracks at times.

But, I didn’t let them stop me for long, and neither should you.

Sometimes the best thing you can do is take a breath, gather your reserve and take the next step forward.

That type of perseverance does two things: it builds your character and it makes Satan run away. He may come back, especially if he feels you’re a threat to his kingdom, but James 4:7 states that if we resist the devil he will flee.

Satan wants our setbacks to push us back. That’s why we must determine to move forward.

If you find yourself in a truly abusive situation do whatever you can to get out. The person doing the abusing isn’t being helped by being able to continue with such injustice. When they see consequences for their actions they may change. If they don’t change don’t go back. Move forward from where you are now.

God can change anybody by the power of His Holy Spirit if the person wants that change. If they prefer to continue to give control of their life over to Satan then you must flee.

All things are working together to make good in the end.

The best good I can think of is a full kingdom for Jesus.

Let’s bring as many people there as we can.

I’ll see you later.   Wade