Sunday, October 1, 2023

"Oh, the Deep Deep Love of Jesus"

O the deep, deep love of Jesus, vast, unmeasured, boundless, free!
Rolling as a mighty ocean in its fullness over me!
Underneath me, all around me, is the current of Thy love
Leading onward, leading homeward to Thy glorious rest above!

O the deep, deep love of Jesus, spread His praise from shore to shore!
How He loveth, ever loveth, changeth never, nevermore!
How He watches o'er His loved ones, died to call them all His own;
How for them He intercedeth, watcheth o'er them from the throne!


O the deep, deep love of Jesus, love of every love the best!
'Tis an ocean full of blessing, 'tis a haven giving rest!
O the deep, deep love of Jesus, 'tis a heaven of heavens to me;
And it lifts me up to glory, for it lifts me up to Thee!

Saturday, September 2, 2023

Saturday, June 24, 2023

Meet Pastor John Harper

I'd never heard this story before. Have you?

Meet Pastor John Harper

“Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved…” – Acts 16:31

John Harper was born May 29, 1872 in Scotland. He grew up in a Christian home and at age 13, he confessed the Lord Jesus Christ as the Savior of his life and at 17, he began preaching. At 25, Harper started Paisley Road Baptist Church in Glasgow, Scotland and the church grew from 25 members to over 500.

Harper’s wife died from complications in childbirth in 1906. After that his wife’s niece Jessie W. Leitch helped take care of his daughter Annie Jessie.

Harper became a renowned evangelist and was serving as the pastor of Walworth Road Baptist Church, in London when he was invited to speak at The Moody Church in Chicago in 1910. He spoke for 3 months and it went so well that he was invited back to speak for another 3 months of meetings.

To fulfill that commitment, on April 10, 1912, Harper, 39, his six-year-old daughter and his niece boarded a ship in Southhampton, England heading for New York. That ship was Titanic and at 11:40 pm on April 14, it hit an iceberg and sank a couple of hours later.

But this is the rest of the story.

When Harper realized the fate of the ship, he put his daughter and niece into lifeboat number 11. There weren’t enough lifeboats to save everyone so, Harper began preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ to anyone who would listen. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved!” he shouted.

Harper had no fear of being called a religious nutcase or a fanatic. He didn’t care about offending anyone else’s religious beliefs. His love for lost people spurred him to tell them that “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) That name is Jesus Christ.

Survivors reported seeing him on the upper deck on his knees, surrounded by terrified passengers, praying for their salvation.

At 2:20 am, the ship disappeared below the surface and Harper along with over 1,000 people fought to survive in the frigid water. Knowing his time was short, Harper took off his life jacket and threw it to another person and shouted, “You need this more than I do!”

Floating debris became Harper’s pulpit as he used it to swim from person to person preaching, “Are you saved?” When a desperate man said, “No, I’m not saved.” Harper shouted, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved!”

In 2012, Moody Church pastor Irwin Lutzer wrote, “This Gospel does not spare us from drowning in an ocean, but it does spare us from a far worse eternal destruction.”

Four years later, a survivor told his story at a reunion of Titanic survivors. “I was one of only six people out of 1,517 to be pulled from the icy waters on that dreadful night. Like hundreds around me, I found myself struggling in the cold, dark waters of the North Atlantic. The wail of the perishing was ringing in my ears when there floated by me a man who called to me, ‘Is your soul saved?’ Then I heard him call out to others as he and everyone around me sank beneath the waters. There, alone in the night with two miles of water under me, I cried to Christ to save me. I am John Harper’s last convert.”

Harper’s daughter and niece were rescued by the ship, Carpathiaand arrived safely in New York. At that time, the Moody Church’s acting Pastor Reverend Woolley and a deacon traveled to New York to give them clothes and money so they could return to Scotland. Harper’s daughter grew up and married a pastor. She died in 1986.

Today, at Moody Church, one of its rooms is named Harper Hall in memory of the Scottish evangelist.

It’s been 111 years since the Titanic disaster when 1,517 people passed into eternity.

With the implosion of the OceanGate Titan sub, those waters have now taken five more souls. Death awaits all of us.

Hebrews 9:27-28 says, “Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.”

There were 2 kinds of people onboard Titanic that fateful night: saved and unsaved. Like the two thieves who were crucified with Jesus, one was unsaved but the other one admitted that he deserved his punishment and asked Jesus to remember him when he entered his kingdom. That simple faith was all it took and Jesus told him, “Today you will be with me in paradise.” And so he was saved.

Which kind of person are you?

Sunday, April 23, 2023


Faith also has to be combined with patience if it’s going to endure testing. You see, it isn’t just being able to survive troubles; it’s being able to wait until God brings you through them and glorifying Him in the process. It’s knowing, in other words, that your troubles are not just happenstances but that God has allowed them for His own purposes. And then there is the work of faith and power. God wants to make your life an extension of His almightiness.
- Dr. Robert A. Cook

Monday, March 27, 2023

The Angelus

  The Angelus - A short story by Mary M. Isaacs


“In the Lord I’ll be ever thankful, In the Lord I will rejoice,

Look to God, do not be afraid.

Lift up your voices the Lord is near,

Lift up your voices, the Lord is near.”


     The woman looked at her husband pleadingly as he prepared to go out the door for the day’s work. “Couldn’t we just keep saying it only in the morning and at day’s end, as we have been?”

     “Alison, we’ve talked about this. It’s time. We can’t hide in fear any longer. You know we are to speak boldly.”

     “But they will hurt you, maybe take you away. Maybe I’ll never see you again. Maybe they will come for me.”

     Daniel came back from the door and put his canteen on the table. He took his wife into his arms. “You know what to do. Go to your cousin Joseph’s house after lunch. They will keep you safe until we see what happens. There’s plenty of room there for you—we have no children to protect. Yet.” And he smiled at her.

     She clung to him. “If they take you away, there never WILL be any children.”

     His smile broadened and he put his hand gently on her belly. “We have this one.”

     She pulled back and stared at him. “How could you know that? I’m not even sure myself!”

     “God told me,” he said simply, as he looked at her.

     “But,” she stammered, “isn’t that more reason for you to be careful, then? For you not to do this? How can I raise a child without you?”

     “How can we raise a child without God?” he countered sternly. His wife had no reply but leaned her forehead on his chest as she held him tightly. “You know I have to do this, Alison. I hope I will not be alone, but even if no one else speaks out, that won’t matter. I must.”

     “I love you so,” her words came out muffled as she pressed closer to him. “God watch over you and keep you safe--every hour, every minute.”

     “Alison,” he whispered. “Dear heart…” and he kissed the top of her head. “Get everything ready to take to Joseph’s. I want to know that you will be safe.”

     She pulled back and looked up at his face, searchingly. He leaned over and kissed her. “I will see you at dinner. Deo volente,” he added.

     The woman reached up to touch his cheek. “I will get everything ready for dinner before I go. I will make something special for you, Daniel!” and she tried to smile at him. “It will be a surprise,” then she turned away abruptly, in order not to see him leave. After she heard the door close behind him, however, she put her hands over her face and allowed the tears to fall.


     Daniel worked steadily that morning, his mind only half on what he was doing. It was largely unskilled labor but did require some concentration on his part. Nevertheless, in the back of his mind he was keeping track of the time left before everyone stopped for lunch.

     All the workers ate together in a large dining hall, watched by the ever-present guards. The midday meal was provided by the state and was filling, if uninspiring. The menu was designed merely to keep all the men healthy and fit, not to entertain them. The workers sat at long tables, which had been set with full plates. Everyone was expected to eat what was served to them; afterwards, they all returned to their duties.

     Today was no exception to the usual procedure. The men filed into the dining hall, sat at their assigned seats for that week, and began to eat. Daniel barely glanced at his food; he had something else on his mind.


     Alison finished her preparations for dinner, keeping one eye on the clock. She had managed to remain calm all morning as she cleaned the house, prepared for dinner, and packed a small bag to take to her cousin’s house. But now it was almost noon…. She stopped everything she was doing while watching the minute hand move forward slowly. Fear and apprehension flooded through her as the hour approached.

     Finally it was twelve o’clock. She stood still for a moment, trembling, and then closed her eyes. Folding her hands together tightly, she took a deep breath and began to speak, saying both verse and response because she was alone. As word followed word, suddenly all fears were gone. Her voice stopped shaking and a sense of peace filled her soul.

     “The Angel of the Lord declared to Mary/And she conceived of the Holy Ghost/Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee…” 


     Daniel had stood up from the table to begin his reciting. He continued through the loud murmuring of voices all around him.

     …blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb Jesus.”

     As Daniel’s steady voice gradually fell on their ears, the men at his table stopped eating and looked up at him. Recognition flashed in the eyes of a few.

     “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.”

     Across from him, one man put down his fork and stood up in respectful silence. Others at the table looked from him to the speaker, bewildered.

     “Behold the handmaiden of the of the Lord/Be it done unto me according to thy word.”

     Another man stood up quietly, with bowed head. The noise at nearby tables diminished as more men looked to see what was happening. Silence rippled away from the first table, moving through the room like a wave across water.

     “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee…” and a second voice joined Daniel’s, from two tables away. “Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb Jesus.”

     As a growing hush filled the room, the guards looked around and at each other, uncertainty on their faces. The guard at Daniel’s table left the room quickly. Daniel noted that, even as he continued speaking. He quelled the fear that went through him and went on reciting the prayer.

     “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.”

     By this time, several voices had joined in, and additional men were standing quietly. “And the Word was made flesh. And dwelt among us.” 


     At almost the same moment, Alison whispered the response: “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb Jesus…”


     “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.”

     Some of the guards remained frozen in their places, but a few began moving toward the several speakers.

     “Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ. Let us pray…”

     Suddenly, the brazen sound of an alarm ripped through the room. All the guards stopped what they were doing and ran for the doors. Daniel continued the prayer. “Pour forth, we beseech thee, O Lord, thy grace into our hearts…”

     By this time, men all around the room were on their feet, and several voices continued the prayer through to its conclusion: “…that we, to whom the Incarnation of Christ, Thy Son, was made known by the message of an angel, may by His Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of His Resurrection. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.” The room was rapidly emptied of guards as the alarm continued to blare out. None of the men at the tables paid any attention to it.

     When the prayer came to an end, Daniel raised his voice slightly: “Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.” In his mind, he thought he could hear Alison’s voice, echoing the “Amen”.

     There was utter silence after the last word was spoken. Then, almost simultaneously, the men sat back down and resumed eating their meal and starting quiet conversations, as if nothing unusual had taken place. Daniel sat, too, while exchanging a look with the man across the table, who had been the first to stand with him.

     “Amen,” said the other man, with the shadow of a smile; then he looked back down to his plate and continued eating.

     Daniel felt a little dizzy, but also exalted—until he saw their table guard re-enter the room and walk determinedly toward him. All the men around him fell silent, still eating slowly as their eyes watched the guard come near. He stopped beside Daniel and looked at him with an expressionless face. There was a short silence.

     “I set off the alarm,” he said finally.

     Daniel looked at him in surprise. “Why?” was all he could say.

     The guard shrugged slightly. “You weren’t finished with your prayer, and they were going to stop you.” He paused. “I won’t be able to set it off every day, though.”

     “I know,” Daniel said.

     “So what are you going to do?”

     “Get arrested eventually, I imagine.”

     “Is it that important?” the guard asked, puzzled.

     Daniel answered, “Yes, it is. That important.”

     The guard continued to look at him speculatively. “Well, I’ll see what I can do.” He made a sketchy half-salute, then turned and started to walk away.

     Daniel called after him quietly, “God bless you.”

     The guard stopped and looked back over his shoulder. “Thank you,” he said, and then returned to his place, as the other guards started straggling back into the room, talking loudly amongst themselves.


      Daniel walked home at the end of the workday, not looking forward to going into a dark and empty house. A few of the men had thanked him privately during the afternoon, which heartened him, but actually having taken this step made him think about it differently. Was continuing to do this really worth endangering Alison and their child? What would they do without him? How could she cope alone if he was arrested and taken away? Doubts crept into his thoughts.

     He reached his house and opened the door but stopped abruptly when he saw Alison setting the table. She put down the plate she had been holding and ran to him, calling his name. Dropping his empty canteen on the floor, he received her into a strong embrace. They held each other in silence until Daniel released her slightly and said, “Alison…I’m glad you’re here. But why didn’t you go to your cousin’s house?”

     She looked up at him intently. “Something unusual happened at noon today, didn’t it, Daniel? What was it?”

     He smiled at her. “I’m not completely sure, but…I think God sent an angel.”

     She nodded in agreement. “I knew there must have been something because all my fears ended right then. Completely. That’s why I never went to Joseph’s house. I knew you’d be coming home today.” She tipped her head, her face asking the question. “So, what about tomorrow?”

     He looked at her closely and could see that she had spoken the truth: there was no trace of fear or worry in her expression. There was only a settled peace. Her trust challenged his doubts.

     “I don’t know what will happen tomorrow. I wasn’t the only one who prayed”--she whispered “amen” at that--“and I don’t know what God has in mind. But what do you say--shall I do it again tomorrow?”

     “Could you keep silent now, after today?” she asked.

     He paused for a moment. “No,” he said simply.

     Alison smiled and reached up to cradle his face, then pulled his head down to kiss him. “I love you, Daniel.”

“In the Lord I’ll be ever thankful, in the Lord I will rejoice,

Look to God, do not be afraid.

Lift up your voices, the Lord is near,

Lift up your voices, the Lord is near.”


“In the Lord I’ll Be Ever Thankful”, by the Taize Community.

Mary M. Isaacs, copyright 2020

From the collection  "Lux Umbra Dei"

Sunday, March 26, 2023

Saturday, March 25, 2023

Do You Want to Go to Heaven?

Me: Do You Want to Go to Heaven?

Other guy: Well, sure!

Me: Okay. You know, in Heaven, the saints and angels worship God continually and will for all eternity!

Other guy: So?

Me: How often do you worship God now?

Other guy: Umm, you know! Once a week for about an hour.

Me: Okay

Sunday, March 19, 2023

Lux Umbra Dei

   She knew the way; she’d been doing this for years. Decades, maybe? She couldn’t remember when she first started being responsible for this particular task. A long time ago, that’s when.

   Today she had a canvas carry-bag with her. The church had been running low on votive candles, although there had been very few coins in the money box on the votive stand for quite a while now. People were burning the candles without donating? That never used to happen… But she didn’t bother the priest about it. She just paid the difference out of her own pocket when she reordered more candles.

   The most recent order had just arrived, so she was taking them to the church. At one time, she been able to pick them up easily at a local church supply store, but it had closed a few years back and there were no others nearby. She missed going there and seeing all the church items and religious statues and paintings. They also had very nice little greeting cards with Bible verses on them, which she bought—thankfully in bulk--to send to friends, most of whom lived far away now. For quite a long time, she had also been sending them to the invalids and shut-ins in her church. She smiled wryly at the thought that she might be joining those ranks soon. And who would send cards to her when she could no longer get about? She didn’t know—the congregation had steadily dwindled over the years. But as her age advanced, her energy and mobility retreated. Thank goodness she could still do these tasks for her beloved church. She just walked more slowly, due to her unsteady legs.

    As she turned a corner near to the church building, she saw a group of young teenage boys across the street, doing nothing. Why aren’t they in school? she wondered. She tried to schedule her trips to the church when the nearby school was in session; she preferred negotiating quiet streets, when her slowness wasn’t a problem. It was very busy and noisy after school let out; she avoided being there at that time of day. It wasn’t a holiday either, so she didn’t know why the boys weren’t in class. Seemed like a lot of them to have played hooky all at the same time—then her mind caught her up briefly, as so often happened: did people use that term anymore? “Hooky”? Language changed, but she wasn’t always aware of the changes…actually, she was seldom if ever aware of them. Probably no one said “hooky” any more…

   Anyway, was it an early dismissal day? No---if it was, there would be a lot more young people walking home, going into the shops, standing around and talking with each other. Today there was only this small group of teenage boys.

   All this went through her mind in a flash as she kept walking. She barely glanced in their direction. She had discovered that looking too long might cause a reaction. She hoped they would ignore her as she walked down the street toward the church. Maybe she could reach it, and disappear inside in time…

   No such luck. They started talking and pointing at her, and even laughing.

   “Hey, old lady, can’t you move any faster?”

   “What’s up, lady? Goin’ to visit your boyfriend?” This was followed by howls of laughter, as the speaker was slapped on the back for this gem of wittiness.

   “Get out of our neighborhood! You don’t belong here!”

   It was true that the neighborhood around the church had changed dramatically since she started attending the church, when she was much younger. She used to know almost all the people who lived there. Now she knew no one.

   The church then had been filled with people: families with children, speaking many languages and celebrating many traditions, but brought together in their love of God and their dedication to his church. Where had all those families gone? she wondered. Where were those children now? They were completely different from the young people standing across the street from her.

   She continued walking towards the church, hoping that they’d get bored with teasing her and leave her alone. But it got worse. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw a couple of them start across the street towards her. She tried to walk a bit faster, but knew that if she went too fast, she could fall. Her doctor had told her, “No more falls, or you’ll have to use a walker!” She hated the thought. She might be getting old, but she wasn’t elderly—yet. No matter what her doctor said.

   If she pretended not to see them, maybe the boys would let her alone. She faced forward and kept on walking, but suddenly she felt a jerk which almost caused her to fall backwards. One of the boys had grabbed at her canvas carry-bag.

   “Hey, what’s in here, grandma? Something for me? Did you bring a present for me?” The whole group laughed at that, from both sides of the street.

   “Please,” she said, “I’m just going to the church. There’s nothing in there, just something for the church.”

   The boys laughed again, as most of the group drifted over to where she stood, trembling a little. The first speaker yanked the bag again and this time it slipped off her arm. She tried to grab it back but nearly lost her balance again. The boy who had taken the bag opened it and looked inside. He stopped and his face went blank, then he threw it back at her quickly. As she tried to catch it, to prevent the candles from hitting the ground and maybe breaking, she fell heavily, awkwardly, crying out when she landed. Her cries were drowned out by sneering laughter. She felt sharp pains in various places and looked at him in fear.

   “This is boring,” the first speaker said to the others, as he gave her an inscrutable look. “C’mon, let’s get out of here.”

   From the ground, she watched them saunter away, laughing. Despite the pain from hitting the sidewalk, she was immensely relieved that they were leaving her so soon. Thank you, God…


   Her doctor scolded her; she’d been seeing him for years, and he treated her a little like an elderly aunt.

   “Thank goodness you didn’t break anything, although I have no idea why not! But you are badly bruised and will be in a lot of pain for some time. Bed rest for a while until the bruises go away—no extended trips outside your home!” He was adamant about that and sent her home with some mild pain killers. A kind neighbor volunteered to do her grocery shopping for a while and also bring in her mail.

   While she was recuperating, her priest came to visit her. He was shocked to hear what had happened and suggested that someone else take over the candle and votive stand responsibilities. But at this, her natural stubbornness asserted itself. She’d been doing this for years and intended to continue until she couldn’t manage it any longer! He reluctantly gave in, but insisted that she confine her trips to Saturdays, when school was not in session. She was struck by the simple solution and readily agreed. He’d then asked her if she had recognized her assailant, but she shook her head. The boy was completely unfamiliar to her; she had never seen him before. The priest expressed disappointment; he said that his experience had been that, when a young person was caught in wrongdoing and made to suffer the consequences, there was a good chance that they might change their ways. He left on this note, giving her something to think about. She could only visualize the boy vaguely, but she knew she’d never forget the expression on his face after he’d tossed the bag back at her.


   A few weeks later she made her first trip back to the church. It was threatening rain that Saturday; she should have stayed home, but knew it was past time to check the votive stand. If they ran out of candles, people coming to pray would be disappointed. She felt well enough to go and had hoped the rain would hold off until she was finished and back home. Unfortunately, it started while she was on her way there; she just made it into the narthex before it began to come down heavily. I’ll be here a while, she thought. No need to hurry now!

   She made her usual prediction as she neared the stand: the upper right-hand corner candle insert would definitely need replacing. Yep, she was right—burned empty as always. Someone must really like that spot, she noted. Can’t blame ‘em—I always use the one in the opposite corner, don’t I? Guess I’m not the only obsessive one. She’d have to remember that example for the next time she and her doctor argued about her behavior.

   She finished refilling the candle holders and put the empty inserts into her bag, to throw away later. After unlocking and looking in the money box, she decided there wasn’t enough to remove; it was only a few dollars in coins. No need to take out that small of an amount. She’d wait another couple of Saturdays.

   It was still raining hard--she could actually hear the faint sound of raindrops hitting the church roof and very little light came through the stained glass windows. She decided to wait a while before going home; perhaps it would clear up, or at least subside into only a drizzle. Her umbrella could keep her fairly dry, but steady rain made it hard to see to walk safely. At times like this, she wondered if maybe she should get a walker…she made a face at the thought.

   She picked up her carry-bag and went to her usual pew, on the other side of the church from the votive stand. She kept a couple of small pillows there, to ease the occasional pains in her legs and back; they were helpful now, to cushion the fading bruised places, which were still a bit sore. She settled herself, with the bag on her lap, and said a few prayers. “When in Rome,” she thought, and then laughed at herself. Really, the things that flit through my mind…

   The quietness and dimness of the church and the light, regular sound of the raindrops soon lulled her to sleep.

   Something caused her to waken all at once. She didn’t move for a moment, trying to recall where she was, and then the uncertainty sharpened into focus. She was in church, it was still dark inside because of the rain clouds, and someone was walking towards the votive stand. She stayed still and watched, not wanting to disturb someone else’s prayer time. They wouldn’t be able to see her in the cloud-caused dim light—she could only make them out because of the little wall sconces near the stand.

   The person paused in front of the stand for a moment, and then started to do something. Instead of lighting one of the candles, however, they leaned over, fumbling with something below the stand. From the clinking sounds, she guessed that they were doing something with the money box--putting coins in? No, it sounded like the little door at the back of the money box being opened. But she and the priest had the only keys! This certainly wasn’t the priest—was someone picking the lock? Then she heard the familiar slithering sound of coins being poured out. Someone was taking the candle money! Someone was stealing from the church! She was angered and indignant but didn’t move. She’d heard too many horror stories about what happened to people who tried to stop robbers; she’d seen too many violent altercations on the city streets. But she was disappointed that it was too dark in the church to make out any details about the thief, so that she could report it to the priest and the police.

   There were more sounds: the back of the money box closing, the box being returned to its place. The thief would leave quickly now, she expected, but that did not happen. Instead, there was silence for a bit, and then she heard the sound of a match being struck. She watched as the upper right-hand corner candle flamed into life. The figure then bowed its head and stood still. Without thinking about what she was doing, she clutched the carry-bag to her chest, got to her feet, and moved quietly down the pew until she came to the center aisle. She started to hear different sounds, bits of softly spoken words. She crossed the aisle to get closer; the words became distinguishable.

   “…sorry, so sorry…not for me, for my mom…I’m sorry…” The figure bowed again and then turned away from the votive stand toward the front entrance. As she walked closer, the sound of her steps made the person turn in her direction and freeze in a half crouch, fists clenched.

   At that moment, the light came streaming in through the rose window. She thought of several things at once: the clouds breaking up, letting the light go through; the breathtaking beauty of so many colors falling across the stone floor, the pews, the votive stand; and a young man’s face. A very young man—actually a boy, with a very familiar-looking face. She suddenly realized that she was looking at the boy who had yanked away her carry-bag a few weeks ago. An intense fear washed over her as she noted his defensive stance, and then vanished as quickly as it had come. Why is that? she wondered. Why am I not afraid any more? And then she saw what had caught her eye, unconsciously—the glimmer of tears on his face, and an expression of guilt and shame.

   The light coming through the window widened as the clouds broke up more and more—widened further until the bright colors fell on her, too. The boy squinted, blinked, and then focused on where she was standing; he straightened up, and she saw instant recognition in his eyes. They both stood silently, staring at each other. We’re inside a rainbow, she thought obliquely. God’s rainbow. God’s promise. Why?

   She moved closer, half-expecting him to run away, but he didn’t. The clouds shifted again and the area of colored light shrunk, but still surrounded the two of them.

   There was a short silence. “You took the candle money,” she finally said, matter-of-factly. “You’ve been taking it for a while, haven’t you?”

   He looked at her in fear. “Yes,” he said, “but not for me! It’s for my mom, for her medicine. She’s sick, and the medicine costs a lot of money. More than we have…”

   “Is she going to get better?”

   The boy’s face crumpled and he looked down. “I don’t know. She’s been sick a long time.”

   There was more silence as she watched tears roll down the boy’s face. His fists clenched again, but she ignored it this time. Dear Lord, what should I do? she thought dispassionately—and then she knew. The colored lights coming through the window intensified briefly and then dimmed.

   She leaned forward and spoke quietly. “May I come and see your mother?” He looked up apprehensively. “No, not to tell on you. Just for a visit, to see how she’s doing?” She hesitated for a moment and then took some money out of her carry-bag and put it into his hand. “This is for you, for your mother’s medicine.”

   He stared at the money in his hand, and then said, “No! Take it back!” He dug the coins from the votive stand out of his pocket and tried to hand everything back to her. “I’ve taken that money lots of times---and I hurt you….” He collapsed onto his knees, sobbing.

   She carefully lowered herself to the floor, while holding on to the arm of a pew, and put her hand on his shoulder.

   “I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” he kept crying; his hands opened up and the money fell to the floor. She moved her own hand and gently touched his cheek. He looked at her. “How can you be nice to me? I steal from God and I hurt you!”

   “You are sorry. God forgives you—I forgive you.”

   He took a breath and spoke again. “How can you forgive me? I was mean—I laughed at you and I threw that bag at you. You fell over and cried out. I did that.”

   She picked up the money and handed it back to him, folding his hand tightly over it. “I’m all right. And you will be, too. Go home to your mother and take care of her. Come back here and pray any time you like. God sees your candle and hears your prayers. He heard you say that you’re sorry.”

   The boy reached out his other hand tentatively and put it on hers; all their hands were clasped together now. “I’m so sorry, so sorry,” he repeated in a whisper.

   For a while, neither of them moved. Around them, the colors from the windows shone even brighter.

Copyright 2020 by Mary M. Isaacs, from the book, "Lux Umbra Dei"

Sunday, February 26, 2023

The Asbury Revival is Over. What Happens Now?

 LEXINGTON, Ky. (RNS) — After more than two weeks and worldwide headlines, revival services at Asbury University in central Kentucky came to an end recently.

But the revival goes on off-campus.

On Sunday (Feb. 26), Minneapolis-based evangelist Nick Hall brought an Asbury-inspired revival event to Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky, about half an hour from the Christian school’s campus.

Hall is the leader of Pulse, a ministry that aims to bring “Jesus to the next generation” by hosting big events. He attended the Asbury revival in its first week and said he was overwhelmed by what God was doing.

After the Asbury revival started spontaneously on Feb. 8, the university officially ended revival services on Feb. 23... More here.

Sunday, February 19, 2023

Quote du jour

To love means loving the unlovable. To forgive means pardoning the unpardonable. Faith means believing the unbelievable. Hope means hoping when everything seems hopeless.

- G.K. Chesterton

Thursday, February 16, 2023

God Has Put Eternity in our Hearts

Editor's note: I stole this from Gary Varvel. If he catches me, I'll give it back!
“He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end. I know that nothing is better for them than to rejoice, and to do good in their lives.” -Ecclesiastes 3:11. 
What does it mean: God “has put eternity in their hearts?” We live in a finite world, but inwardly, we know that this is not all there is. God made us for eternity and he has put it in our hearts. 
My grandparents were farmers and my grandma was the hardest working woman I’ve ever known. When she was 80 years old, she had a heart attack and I visited her in the hospital. During our conversation I asked her how old she felt on the inside. 
She said, “Gary, I feel like a 20-year-old girl.” 
Then I said, “Grandma, I believe that’s the real you that doesn’t age but will live forever in one of two places.” Then I proceeded to share with her God’s plan of salvation found in Romans 3:10, 6:23, 5:8, 10:9-10, 13, which explain that we are sinners, the penalty for sin is death, Jesus paid our death penalty on the cross, was raised from the dead and offers eternal life to everyone who believes in Him. 
That day, my grandma repented and trusted in Jesus as her Savior. Seventeen days later, her heart stopped and she slipped into eternity. 
D.L. Moody said, "Some day you will read in the papers, 'D. L. Moody of East Northfield is dead.' Don't you believe a word of it! At that moment I shall be more alive than I am now.” 
I agree. 
My grandma is alive. The eternity she felt on the inside, is now a reality. Life on earth is a journey to our final destination in eternity. The question is, do you know where will you be?


 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” - John 14:6


Sunday, February 12, 2023

On LA Freeways

   She didn’t like driving through L.A. It was said (apocryphally, she was certain, as she’d never experienced it herself) that there were times when traffic was light. Oh, sure. She always found herself crawling as she passed familiar Los Angeles landmarks, no matter what time of day or night it was. But going completely around greater L.A.—via Bakersfield, Barstow, and San Bernardino—was only possible if you didn’t mind feeling that you were never going to get anywhere again for the rest of your life. Which was the same feeling she got when traveling through L.A. 

   So that alternate route wouldn’t help at all. 

   She was familiar with distance traveling, days-long traveling. As a child and a teenager, her father’s job transferred him every couple of years, which meant move after move. Before she went off to college, they’d lived in California (several locations), New Mexico, Arizona, and back to California again, burning through two grade schools, two middle schools, and three high schools, in her case. What she mainly remembered from all those moves, though, were the road trips. 

   Going back to Southern California to visit old friends and relatives meant days and days of driving, over long stretches of lonely Arizona and California desert highways, punctuated by stops at roadside motels. Fortunately, she was able to read in moving cars without getting sick, so that helped pass the time. But even that palled after a while, so there were hours of imagination, growing remembrances of and comparisons with road trips past, and absently watching the landscape go by while daydreaming. The license plate game helped, too, when her younger siblings got restless, or endless repeats of the alphabet game (one of her favorites—because, being the oldest, she always won). 

   Now grown up, she lived and worked as a teacher in Northern California, but some family members still lived in the south of the state. Every so often a trip to see them was necessary or required or desired. The current trip was one of those. Time was tight, as it needed to be shoehorned into a short break between summer school and the new school year. Some teachers were able to take the whole summer off, which would be ideal for her long-distance visiting, but she couldn’t afford to do that. QED, a lightning trip down south was in order—and that meant the L.A. freeways. Once again. 

   No longer a child in the back seat, but now the solo driver in the car, she was a little less able to completely daydream her way through traversing the gigantic urban sprawl, but practice had enabled some adeptness at this. Today’s trip brought some odd things to mind. While drifting along a packed freeway, averaging 0-5 mph, she looked speculatively at the repetitive exits, overpasses, and industrial buildings she was driving by. It occurred to her that if there were no street exit signs or mileage signs, she would have no idea where she was; it all looked the same, across nearly the whole of the city. Maybe it WAS all the same…maybe it wasn’t REAL…maybe she had left her usual reality for a California dreamin’ Twilight Zone. Her imagination clicked on, in high gear. 
   I drive and drive and drive and drive. I see nothing but acres of roadway, flyovers, entrances, exits, and interchanges, as far as the eye can see. And traffic. Traffic. TRAFFIC. More cars than I could ever imagine existing in my entire multiple decades of life. Is this really a road, or am I stuck in a slightly-mobile used car parking lot? If this gets any worse, we’ll be going backwards. 

   She peered into the cars on either side of her. Who were these people? Where were they going? Why were they jammed onto the freeway alongside her? What were they thinking as they stopped and started, stopped and started, etc.? When did they get on the road, and how far were they going? Did they wonder, as she always did, if they would ever get to their destinations? Her imagination sped on, unchecked. 

   These people must spend great chunks of their lives on these roads. In fact—she fantasized--what if they really spent their ENTIRE lives on these roads? The buildings I see off in the distance--what if they're not real constructions, but just false fronts (a la Disney) attached to overhead signs on the next freeway over? False fronts, suggesting a vast, (pseudo-) metropolis, masking the constant flow of traffic from one end to the other and back again. Circling endlessly, as people are born, grow, mature, and die while traveling in their cars... Slabs of apartment building false fronts, scrims of ticky-tacky houses, promising the constant commuters that there is settled, residential life available. Someday. For some people. 

    Just not them. 

   Maybe she would never stop driving. Maybe NONE of them were ever going to stop driving. Maybe they were just going to go creeping down those freeways forever… What she wouldn’t give right now for an open, barren stretch of Arizona highway. So what if it was hundreds of empty miles long? She’d at least be MOVING. 

   Passing countless faux-botanical cell phone towers ("Telecommute WHILE you commute!") augmented by matching faux-botanical foliage to line the freeways and decorate the median strips. Which is needed to replace actual, genuine foliage which withered and perished long ago, from the 10-lane-wide gulf stream of inexhaustible exhaust fumes. 

   Freeway exits to other freeways or to nowhere (essentially the same thing). Fast food places and gas stations along the sides of the freeways are pit stops (literally, recalling some gas station bathrooms). Electronics stores, for periodically upgrading cell phones. Targets, for replacing shoes worn out by constant accelerating and braking; replacing hats and sunglasses lost out the open windows; replacing clothes which have been ruined by disintegrating tacos, nacho cheese dip, chicken nugget grease, and hamburger sauce—or which have simply been outgrown; for stocking the cases of energy drinks needed to keep on driving. 

   She suddenly remembered a favorite Ashleigh Brilliant post card from the past (now, alas, lost). It had a line drawing of a cloverleaf interchange, with the following quote: It's really quite a simple choice: life, death, or Los Angeles. With Los Angeles ranking below death? 

   She glanced out both side windows and checked the rear-view mirror, as traffic ground to a complete halt. 

   Yep, seems legit.


Story by Mary M, Isaacs, copyright 2021. In her book, Hair of the Dog (see sidebar for link). 


Saturday, February 11, 2023

Anybody Out There?

As Ferris Bueller once asked at the end of his movie, "Are you still here?" The blog "Proof Positive" as we knew it is gone. Never to return. For nearly 15 years its objective was to change America through politics and the political system. You can see what a great difference THAT made! I love my country, and I thought that, built upon such a great foundation, it could be restored to its former glory. I was mistaken. Not in that America was once a proud and free country, but about the means any such restoration should take.

America needs revival.

Not a new president, or a new party or by repealing this law or passing that one. It needs a spiritual revival, much like the Great Awakening of the past. Politics is not going to cut it. And politics was mostly what Proof Positive was all about. Politics, polititians and other celebrities...quoting them, mocking them, refuting them...spitting in the wind! Take for example the following picture:
Before, I saw that as a political problem! Liberals influencing society. Conservatives tolerating liberals, etc. But that's a SIN problem! Sinners violating the laws and precepts of God, trying to influence young children to follow in their footsteps. On social media every now and then, some one would post
"If my people who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land."
- II Chronicles 7:14
And it's true! But the Christians weren't the ones hosting Drag Queen Story hour at the local library, or running the local abortion clinics, so what were the Christians doing about it? Like me, not nearly enough, because that's a social/policical problem and this is a multi cultural nation and we Christians need to be tolerant of other people's religion and atheism!
So part of my withdrawal from social media was it wasn't working, and secondly, I figured I could influence more people if I was out meeting them face to face and seeing if in any way I could care for their needs. Remember these verses?
" Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ " -Matthew 25: 34-40

We need to be out, modeling the example of Christ, where people can see us. And by that, I don't mean, where people can see us, point at us and say, "Oh, what a good person that is", but where maybe the only person who sees us is the person we're helping at the moment!

So here we are. One of my self imposed rules for Proof Positive was "Post some new content every day, even if it's only a quote." Sorry! Not going to hold myself to that anymore! Can't be tied to my desk, getting upset at everything sinful people do and say because their hearts are darkened and they know not Christ.
No politics. No daily content. No more gun giveaways! (Sorry!) One bright note is, even though I fully expect my readership to decline, Mary M. Isaacs will continue to publish stories here, as they are written. If you are not familiar with her writing, click on the leaf covered bench on the sidebar to see all we've posted here. I had actually planned on terminating Proof Positive January 30th, but Mary sent me a draft of her latest story, "The Sketch", and I liked it so much, I told her I'd keep the lights on 'til Friday if she could finish it and copyright it by then!

If I've removed a link to your blog from my sidebar, please don't take it personally. It's likely I still agree with your politics, sense of humor and philosophy of life, but I just cannot allow myself to be distracted by such things. Going forward, my vision must be more singular.

God bless you and prosper you according to His will. Amen.

Saturday, February 4, 2023

Adieu, Proof Positive!

Proof Positive R.I.P.

"It is customary for newspapers and news organizations to keep a "morgue", files of clippings of famous individuals, updated frequently, in the event that something should unexpectedly happen to them, they could report the event quickly and in great and accurate detail. This was in my "morgue".

I have been in the habit of scheduling many posts in advance, the Quote du jour, other regular features, primarily so that, when I was on the road or similarly disadvantaged, the effect to my readers would be to go unnoticed. As such, today, as I write this, I have quotes, music videos and features queued up, some of which will not publish for months. It has occurred to me, that were I to be hit by a bus, other than the diminishing output, some of you might not notice for a while that I was actually gone. The posts start getting farther and farther apart. Your comments go without response or comment. How rude!

So this is my "swan song". I shall write it and schedule it for some (hopefully) far off time and reschedule it again and again if necessary. But should Providence overtake me and I am unable to say goodbye to you, my friends and readers, I leave a "dead man's switch", a posthumous farewell to explain why the blog has run out of steam.

It will be because the steam has run out of the blogger.

I have enjoyed sharing my thoughts and words with you. The humor, the outrage, the sadness, the strengths that make up the human condition. Fare thee well, dear reader. Godspeed. Vaya con Dios. It's been fun! Don't cry for me, Sarge and Tina!"


Actually, I have rescheduled this a number of times, over a number of years, but, as you have no doubt noticed, the blog is but a shadow of its former self. We hit our peak several years ago. All the red dots on the logo above were people visiting from every country on the planet! The blog was on an upward spiral, it looked like we might be going places, but then, there were fewer and fewer posts. Incidentally, this is blog post 18,093. Some of the people who worked with me moved on to other things. No regrets. It was fun while they were here.

But all good things must come to an end, and so does this blog, three months shy of its fifteenth blogiversary. Over nine million pageviews. I appreciate each and every one of you who contributed, who commented, who just showed up and read what we posted. Every one of you. I'm not sure exactly what the future holds, but I know who holds the future. The blog will remain up as long as Blogger chooses. Someone may stumble over a post or two. My email is on the sidebar if you want to get ahold of me. The "deadman switch" was unnecessary, as it turns out, but my gratitude remains. I will be withdrawing from most social media. Stone knives and bearskins. Oh, well! Live well and prosper, my friends. God bless you. And thanks for all the fish!


Quote du jour

"Goodnight, Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are!"
- Jimmy Durante

Friday, February 3, 2023

The Likes of Dickensian London - Victor Davis Hanson podcast

The Sketch

A new short story by Mary M. Isaacs

   She set up her easel and chair not far from the corner and put her tackle box of charcoal and chalk pastels on a small table beside them. Then she manhandled the portable screen out of the back of her car and set it up close to the blank side wall of the building. She made sure to post the vendor’s permit from the city in a prominent place before displaying any of her artwork.

    God worked in such amazing ways, she told herself for the umpteenth time. Looking at the building across the street, she read the familiar words: “Planned Parenthood”. She had driven down this street innumerable times, as it was on the route between her home and where she worked. She could never pass by the clinic without feeling a touch of evil; she also felt sadness when she saw women going in or coming out. She wished it wasn’t there; she wished that one day she would drive by and it would have mysteriously disappeared and have been replaced by a bakery or a shoe repair shop or a small office building. Even a weedy empty lot would be preferable.

    There were better days, certainly, days when she saw people with pro-life signs standing outside the building. She knew they were there praying. With all her heart she wished she could stand there, too, with them—but even as the thought crossed her mind, fear clamped down and she felt a cold sweat starting. She wished she weren’t so afraid, she wished she had more personal courage, but she knew herself too well. It had always been like that for her. She prayed for God to take away her negative reactions, to give her courage so she could participate, but the fears remained. Until that day, a few weeks ago…


    It was pure coincidence (right!) which led her to read that week’s online message from city hall. Amongst boring notices about committee meetings, the predictable police log, and the regular civic cheerleading post from the mayor, was an interesting announcement—about street artists wanted. The city council had voted to try an experiment to encourage weekend foot traffic downtown. It was announced that any local artist could apply for a vendor’s permit by submitting examples of their work; if accepted, they could set up to display and sell their work downtown on weekends, in locations to be chosen in order of application.

    She had read and reread the announcement. She was not a professional artist, not even a prolific one! But she had taken a couple of introductory sketching classes at the community college. Her classmates—and more importantly, the instructor—had liked her work, simple as it was. She hoped the city council would agree, because she had JUST the right site picked out: across the street from Planned Parenthood! She would then have a perfectly good reason for being there. She could sit and sketch—and no one would ever guess the real reason she was there.

    The portfolio she eventually submitted to the city council committee was pretty thin, but she had included her best work. While she waited, she bought a better easel, invested in new charcoals and pastels, and searched online for a portable display screen. When the acceptance information was emailed to her, she was jubilant. She emailed her thanks and her desired location; she received an immediate okay. Everything was working out as she had planned--and as God had directed.

    For several weeks, she spent most of her Saturdays sketching across the street from the clinic. A couple of people stopped to look at her artwork, but no one bought anything. That didn’t matter, because her most important task was being accomplished: prayer. She angled her chair so she could watch the entrance to the clinic while she was sketching. Women—and some men—walked in and out most of the day. Some were inside for a long time….. She prayed for them all, and for the unborn children who soon would be no more.


    One Saturday, while she was sketching from a photograph, she noticed a young woman come around the corner across the street. The woman walked slowly up to the clinic door and stood there; she seemed to be reading the hours sign. She then walked back and forth in front of the building several times, occasionally stopping at the door, and finally sat down on the edge of one of the sidewalk planters that dotted the street on both sides. She clasped her hands in front of her and looked down.

    After watching the woman’s movements closely, the artist prayed, Lord, please stop her from entering. She then made herself as obvious as possible, by rising and rearranging the display of her sketches on the screens, adjusting the position of her easel, and repositioning her chair. Out of the corner of her eye she saw that the young woman across the street had noticed and was watching her. The artist then sat back down and started setting up her chalks, while continuing to pray: Send her over here, Lord—take her away from that place.

    The young woman stood up, crossed the street, and took her time looking at the pictures on the portable screen. “These are nice,” she said finally. “I really like the flower pictures, all the pretty colors. I wish I could draw.”

    “Thank you,” said the artist with a smile, as she continued to pray silently. All of a sudden, she stopped abruptly, as if listening to something. Then she looked at the young woman and said, “I…I hope you don’t mind my asking, but may I sketch you? It won’t take long and it’s good practice for me. You have an interesting face.” At that, the young woman blushed a bit and started to shake her head. “Oh, you can have the sketch afterwards! Or we’ll throw it away if you don’t like it. No one will ever see it but you and me. It’s just for practice…” she pleaded.

    The young woman thought for a moment and then agreed shyly; she sat down on the edge of the sidewalk planter. “Does my hair look okay?” she asked as she poked at it. “How should I sit? What do you want me to do?”

    “You don’t have to do anything particular,” the artist replied. “Just relax and smile.”

    The artist began right away with black charcoal; a little later she started to add in colors here and there. She worked quickly, the image blossoming on the paper as if it were being transmitted rapidly through her fingers--as indeed it was, she realized later.

    After a short while, the artist put down her charcoal and chalks and said, “Done!” She unfastened the paper from the easel and handed it to the young woman, who took it eagerly, with an air of mixed anticipation and skepticism—until she saw the picture for the first time.

    The young woman took a quick breath and turned pale, then sat as if turned to stone. She looked up at the artist quickly, and then back down at the picture. A range of emotions passed over her face—enough to have kept the artist busy for days, if sketching had been on her mind. Instead, she focused entirely on her internal prayers. There was a long silence.

    “We can throw the picture away if you don’t like it,” the artist repeated.

    The young woman frowned slightly and started to hand the paper back, but then brought it closer, with her eyes fixed on it. “How did you know?” she whispered, looking up again. The artist gestured across the street with her hand but said nothing. There was more silence while the young woman looked back down at the picture, hands slightly trembling.

    Finally, the artist spoke quietly. “I wasn’t being entirely truthful when I said you had an interesting face. You can see that you have a beautiful face. Your baby’s face will be beautiful, too—that part was easy to draw.” She tipped her head sideways and looked at the young woman. “So, shall we throw it away?”

    The young woman said nothing for a long time. Then she stood up slowly, holding the sketch. “No,” she said, with the beginning of a smile. “I’m not going to throw it away. Thank you.” Then she turned and walked to the corner and crossed the street—away from the artist and away from the clinic. Maybe also away from her doubts? The artist hoped so, fervently.

    There was complete silence afterwards. No cars drove past, no people walked along either street. The artist sat back in her chair and dusted her hands off. In her mind she could still see the simple sketch she had done of the mother and the child; she knew it was one of the best pictures she had ever drawn. For a few seconds she was sorry it was gone, that she would never see it again—but then she closed her eyes and gave humble thanks. She was certain that God wouldn’t take that image away forever. No sketch would be needed after she saw the young woman again because she wouldn’t be alone—the artist would see both mother and child. She was certain of that.

    Her sketch of the young woman and the baby had been beautiful. She knew that the reality would be even more so.

 Copyright 2023 by Mary M. Isaacs, from a forthcoming book