Introducing….Starry!

As in Starry Night of course.

It was a blustery cold January, just two months ago, when Bob mentioned a kitten around his work facility in the Bronx. The babe’s mother was nearby, frozen to death. This little one kept pawing at Bob’s ankles, even climbed up his pant leg -easily winning him over. Bob and his co-worker decided, “This will be our office mascot, we’ll take him in and care for him!” After two days, that commitment was inadequate. The hurdle at home was, admittedly, me.

For two years since Maggie died, ( Maggie and the Gospel Truth) her 1/2 feral Becky notably grieved and then became increasingly malcontent. Our vet did not recommend getting another cat as Becky (now over 17 years old), never liked anyone except Maggie and was very antisocial. Every night for the past two years, Becky would wake up between 2 and 3am yelling and crying for me to sleep with her. She never liked Bob!

After two years of poor sleep, I insisted about 100 times, “We’re never getting another cat. Becky is the last one, don’t even think of it!”

One hundred proclamations dissolved within 5 minutes of meeting Starry.

He was first named ‘Star’ after the facility name, ‘Starhill’. “But”, I said, “animal studies find that they like and answer to names that end in vowel sounds like eeee….that’s it, STARRY. Like Starry Night!”

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Dreamy Starry Night!

Starry stirred up love everywhere, a real cuddle master! Everyone wanted him, “Can we share custody?” “NO!”

The odd bend in his tail, flopping down like a broken branch, only endeared us more until one day…..it fell off!! And he was playing with it like a toy!

Away from home, we brought him to Urgent Vet Clinic where it was found his tail had suffered damage most likely from frostbite. This led to his first operation….a partial tail-ectomy! What a trooper!

That did not stop him at all…

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Simon Pierce bowl, very comfortable!

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“Here I am, someone call me?”

After five weeks at my parents house, time to head to the city…and prepare for operation #2!  Starry is no less of a boy for it but you know…

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“Grrr…the lion sleeps tonight!”

How did things go with baby Starry and crabby Becky?  Starry loved Becky right away, was anxious to play!  Becky surprised us all…after a time of growling, paw swiping, and hissing there was blissful tolerance!  Who knows, it may even lead to friendship!

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Ahh, blissful tolerance!

The Lord melted all my proclamations in 5 minutes and perked up our hearts in many ways.  

“I know every bird in the mountains, and the creatures of the field are Mine.” 

Yes Lord, and You surely know those out in the Bronx streets and they are Yours.   Thank You for calling Starry Night and giving him to us!

“Overcome Evil With Good” For Real!

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Interview with captured mercenary Yusuf Alaabet al-Hajii, 11/4/2020

“He told us we should slaughter, kill all Armenians…Abu Hamsha, as well as the Turkish and Azerbaijani servicemen, were telling us that each of us would receive an extra 100 dollars for beheading an Armenian. They also armed us with long knives. Those of us who were afraid were given some special drugs by the Azeri military, and they stopped feeling fear after taking them. I have personally witnessed how the Azerbaijani armed forces servicemen were giving the drugs to our Syrian guys, the drugs were round tablets, I haven’t tried it myself, but many of our guys did,” the Syrian mercenary said.

Those are the words of hired mercenary Yusuf Alaabet al-Hajii, recruited from the village of Ziyadiya, Syria. The full interview can be viewed here: https://armenpress.am/eng/news/1033852.html?fbclid=IwAR3tM5G5LqtIfRobD1i9_FRbQi27y8BBIEw5QXQ-Ed2G3pmR2u0YhqeRE3Y

The mercenary described in detail how they were approached with a $2000 monthly payment promise and, along with 500 others that day, boarded one of the 10 buses to a civilian airport where they flew on Turkish planes to Azerbaijan.

Upon their destination, they met up with 500 previously recruited Syrian fighters. He noted that the Turkish and Azeri soldiers both had body armor however the Syrian fighters had none. Commanded by both Turkish and Azeri military, they were ordered to proceed in front of Azeri fighters, into Karabakh to capture the village and slaughter all civilians….

“When we approached the Armenian village, we came under fire, and also mortar fire, in this period 15 of us were killed, the operation was a failure and we had to escape into the mountains. When we fled, I wasn’t wounded yet, we were lost, we went by a path until we found the Azerbaijanis who had accompanied us, they took us through some path, but during this the Armenians began shooting at us. I got wounded, I was wounded for 5 days, no one asked me anything, no one was interested in me. After three days, I began moving towards the Armenian positions, the Armenians gestured me from distance telling me I am safe, when I approached them they took me to their position, treated my wounds, gave me food and water. They took me to safety, they didn’t harm me, they helped and treated me well, may God bless them,” the mercenary said.”

(video of interview here: https://en.armradio.am/2020/11/04/second-syrian-mercenary-capture-by-artsakh-forces-interrogated-video/)

Although the Azerbaijani army continues to kill Armenian POW’s, (https://www.kazakhstannews.net/news/266843554/azerbaijani-troops-kill-more-armenian-prisoners-of-war) this is not the first news article of Armenians utilizing desperately needed medical resources on an enemy captive.

While I beseech readers and others to join in fervent prayer to strengthen and undergird Armenians and thwart the enemy’s onslaught, God is doing more. He enabled the Armenians to “overcome evil with good’. In the words of Yusuf Alaabet al-Hajii:

“I want to thank Armenians, they helped me, they treated me, they saved my life, we were wrong to have come here, they – the Armenians, are much better that we thought, they treated us, treated us well, may God bless them. I, Yusuf Alaabet al-Hajji, am stating that anyone who is planning to go to Azerbaijan should not take that step, because Armenians are very good people, they saved me from death, they helped me. I am urging you all, if they try to deceive you and attempt to lure you with money against this country and Armenians, don’t go, even if you are poor, it is better to stay poor then to go to Azerbaijan and fight for money. The Azerbaijanis call the Armenians infidels, but they themselves are the infidels, we are infidels for coming here and fighting against these good people, I stayed wounded for five days in Azerbaijan and no one helped me, but the Armenians did, they helped me and treated my wounds,” he said.

Thank you Lord!

“Vengeance is Mine; I will repay, says the Lord. On the contrary, “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink. For in so doing, you will heap burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good…”

Please continue to pray!

Days of Noah? Days of Sodom?

There are less than 100 days left until the US presidential election.  This is of great concern to nearly everyone, regardless of party affiliation.  But should those days preoccupy the hearts and minds of Christ’s Body?  Every heart, including mine, longs for safety and normalcy, but is safety really ‘normal’ in a fallen dark world?

Under the guise of ‘free love’ and ‘peace’, the sexual revolution of the 1960’s swung open the gates of fornication, homosexuality, and promiscuity, leading to a harvest of broken families, infidelities, abortions, and single parent homes.  More than ‘normalized’, we have pridefully displayed our sexual deviances with boisterous parades and youth indoctrinations.  Yet, as in the ‘days of Lot’ in Sodom, we are “eating and drinking, selling and planting…” living our lives normally but oblivious to the ominous judgment looming overhead.

Now, under the guise of ‘peaceful protest’ and ‘racial equality’ we have, increasingly, a “world filled with violence”.  Might God determine of us as with Noah’s violent generation,  “…that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.”?  Ongoing wanton and pointless rioting with ‘leaders’ nodding with tacit approval, swings open the gates of man’s lust for violence – gates not easily or even possible to close.

And yet Jesus said that in the ‘Days of Noah’ as with Sodom, “People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage…” – all good things, even things ordained by God but with one caveat:  They were so intertwined with the world, they were oblivious to the warnings of sure and horrific judgment.   

Perhaps most American believers, like myself, are not tempted to be promiscuous or violent but the temptation to enter into political forays is almost irresistible.  Like ‘eating and drinking and marrying’, it seems normal, if not good and necessary, to champion the cause of what is right, lawful, and moral.

But, I believe, the challenge for the godly in these days is this:  Will we view our world through the platform of Republican/Democrat or through the lens of God’s unchanging word?  Are our hearts gripped with urgency to restore a prosperous and ‘normal’ society or are we gripped with an urgency, as Noah had, to preach the Gospel and warn of sure and horrific judgment?

We have saturated our culture with a shallow and benign “God is love”, “Jesus loves you” message that served only to squelch the fear of God that we so desperately need.

Less than 100 days left for election?  That’s 100 days to commit to God’s word, to dive into end times scriptures that Jesus, who does love you, proclaimed to warn and prepare whomever will heed, that He is returning as Judge as the world ripens for God’s wrath.

Don’t resist but dive into scriptural study of end time prophecies and, I urge myself, commit again to studying Revelation.  Read and re-read, call upon the Holy Spirit – our Teacher and Counselor.  Refer to reliable commentaries.  As beloved Pastor Ben Crandall always exhorted, “Get into this Book and get this Book into you!”

We don’t know who will win elections but omnipotent and sovereign God proclaims the truth of what is happening and what will surely happen.  For the prayful and hungry heart, He will reveal these truths and root them deep enough for us to bear fruit as His ambassadors.  With convicted hearts, not campaign flags, we’ll proclaim the next big event – Christ’s return as Judge and the outpour of God’s wrath upon a rebellious, unbelieving world.

Help us Lord, to resist the pull to ‘normalize’ our tumultuous world.  Give our hearts a hunger and understanding of Your word – let it sink in and overflow to those around us that we may fulfill Your call upon us in this world.

 

I Could Not Help Him Die

My brother’s birth was a most wonderful event in my life.  Being much older, I had the fun and fulfillment of sharing in Paul’s life events, learning to walk, going to school, homework helps, football cheers, wedding happiness and most joyful – the arrival of his precious children.

Even greater than all that was mentoring Paul into a living and saving faith through Jesus Christ our Savior.

When cancer struck him I was shaken but soon found that it deepened our fellowship with each other and importantly, with the Lord.  Daily phone counsel and prayer built us in faith and courage; although out of state, my frequent visits were precious.   I witnessed God’s work in Paul’s heart and faith and was certain of God’s call upon his life, positive that the Lord would heal.   When four year old Ella scampered by me one day, turned and surprisingly said, “Jesus is going to heal my dad!”  my heart was gripped…no way would God disappoint and dash her precious faith!

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A year later they would be fatherless

Within three years, Paul was hospitalized.  One day, shaking their heads, doctors called the family together, “there’s nothing more we can do…” My heart immediately erupted, ‘of course there’s nothing you can do, now God will show you what He can do!’ 

With courage and strength,  Paul knew he was dying, something I could not see nor receive.  I refused.  After so gladly sharing in all his life experiences, I dropped the ball at this crucial juncture of life and faith…I could not help him die

During his last night, I stood vigil by Paul’s side, praying through the night.  Even when he died the next day I reached out my hand to him, my heart cried, “now, even now Lord I believe You can raise him up!”

In the months that followed, the Lord brought healing into my anger and crisis of faith.  While I deeply regret not counseling Paul into eternity, in subsequent years God led me to help others, several parolees, who were suffering and dying.

This post has swirled in my heart for a while, perhaps the corona crisis stirred it up more.  However, I am convinced that our high call as Christ’s Body, especially toward our brethren, not only lies in mentoring each other as we walk with the Lord but mentoring each other as we die in the Lord.

In Charles Spurgeon’s Sermons on the Last Days, he preaches on Biblical truths regarding Christ’s return.  However, in the sermon, ‘A Last Lookout’ Spurgeon speaks of our own ‘end’, with a focus on the faith of apostles Paul and Peter…

“He (Paul) does not even say, ‘The hour of my death is at hand,’ but he adopts a beautiful expression, “the time of my departure” – words which are used sometimes to signify the departure of a vessel from the port; the pulling up of the anchor so that it looses its moorings when about to put out to sea…”

“Beloved believer in Christ Jesus…To die is to depart out of this world unto the Father.  What say you about your departure?”

The time of our departure, though unknown to us, is fixed by God, unalterably fixed; so rightly, wisely, lovingly settled, and prepared for, that no chance or haphazard can break the spell of destiny.”  (italics his)

“If you take counsel with death, your flesh will find no comfort; but if you trust in God, your faith will cease to parley with these feverish anxieties, and your spirit will enjoy a sweet calm…To live in constant communion with God is a sure relief from all these bitter frettings”

“There is a time to depart; and God’s time to call me is my time to go.”

May the Lord walk us through this life as His light for the truth, refreshing and encouraging those He appoints along the way.  May the reality of our eternal life in God’s Kingdom overshadow everything in this temporal world and become a living truth to share with others, to help them live and help them depart.

What I Learned From a Bunch of Rats

Yes, seriously.  And I’m not talking about those Community Board traitors who sold out our neighborhood.   Real rats….

Apparently, after months of street excavation replacing water mains, a colony of rats relocated in our building grounds to be “fruitful and multiply”.  While I had seen one or two over the past few weeks, early this morning, on a mission to wash clothes,  I had to cross the battle lines.   Four rats jumped out of an open trash can, others ran past me as I forged ahead to the laundry room – very determined but with trepidation!

I called an expert in building maintenance (my husband!) already gone to work.  He was upset for me but advised, “Rats are very smart!!  They know when you’re afraid!  Don’t back down, make a lot of noise, let them fear you!”  Well, I already failed at that since I was standing on a chair.

All of a sudden, my Bible studies rose up in my heart.  I was determined to complete the task at hand and without fear.  I believe in sovereignty and purpose in all that a believer encounters so, tossing clothes into machines, I lent my mind to godly thinking.

“…make a lot of noise”… a metal rod was at hand and a lot of noise was made at regular intervals!  Any passer by would have greatly wondered….

“They know when you’re afraid!  Don’t back down….let them fear you!”  Now this was a living message for my soul.  I immediately thought of fearful and intimidating thoughts that attack me and challenge my faith.  Yesterday for example, a situation arose jeopardizing my husband’s job.

If the devil “...prowls around like a roaring lion...” then, my friend, his demons are the rats that scurry around to inflict fear and intimidate.  And they know when you fear them…our fear emboldens them to draw near and will bite if possible!

Metal rod in hand, I clanged through my laundry with ease.  But this I realized and planted in my heart:  “Let them fear you!”  The true believer in Christ lives with the indwelling Holy Spirit.  We are the temple of God, He dwells within us.  Standing in Christ, we need not fear the devil, let him fear us as we claim God’s word like a rod in our hand!

Amen.