Why I Like Salt

Salt
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Saltaholic or supertaster?

I like salt. Those who truly know me know this fact about me. I have liked salt since I could remember. People have stopped chastising me about the use of too much salt. I simply raise my right hand and say, “Hi, my name is T.J. Allen and I am a saltaholic” though I might really be a supertaster.  I used to have salt cravings to the point I would pour salt in my hand and lick it. I would occasionally put the little salt packets from fast food places in my mouth and let them dissolve. It was a little different take on just a little pinch between the cheek and gums. My wife has accused me of salting everything. She has suspected me of salting my coffee (my second favorite thing). I haven’t, though I hear it will make it less bitter. My older brother, Bill is a salt lover too, but I feel not to the level I am. Still I think maybe he is to blame for my addiction.

Where it all began.

When we were younger, Bill and I would break off chunks of salt from the salt block our parents put out in the pasture for the horses and the cattle. The animals would lick it and it would create pointed corners which we cheerfully broke off and consumed. I did not do this deed on my own. My earliest recollections of salt recons started with following Bill’s lead. One time mom caught us breaking off the salt and demanded to know what we were doing. When we explained, she scolded us and explained that the animals licked the blocks and it was unhealthy and nasty. It hadn’t hurt us so far, but mom knows best. So we decided to be more sanitary and wash our new chunks of salt; where else but in the horse watering trough. It didn’t occur to our boyish brains that the horse trough with its green algae growing on the sides and backwash may have been just a little less sanitary than the salt licks. Hey, we survived.

I tried to quit, I really did.

When I was in basic training in the Army I decided to start eating right, whatever that meant. I had been told numerous times of the dangers of salt consumption, so I started there. I swore off salt once and for all. This was a fresh start and I reasoned I would gain enough salt from the master chefs in the mess hall. After all, it cost one million dollars to build this wonderful eating facility and surely only the best would be in the kitchen. That’s what our Drill Sergeants had told us over and over, so it must be true. To a new recruit the Drill Sergeant’s words are gospel.

The problem to this no-salt approach appeared two days later when I woke up with feet so swollen I couldn’t put my boots on. It was off to sick call for the day. I was interrogated by the physician’s assistant concerning my walking, exercise routine, and had I done anything different lately. I responded that other than joining the Army, I had stopped using salt. The PA scratched his head.

“You stopped using salt?” he asked.

“Yessir. I wanted to start eating healthy and I was told all my life that too much salt was bad for me.” I said.

“Hmm. That’s all you have been doing different?”

“Yessir. That’s all.”

“Hmm. Go back to using salt and let’s see how that goes.”

“The same amount as I used to use?” I asked.

“Yes. Go back to the same amount.” He said. I must have had that “are you sure” look about me since he repeated the command. With a “yessir”, I was out of there and on light duty until I could put my boots back on. Several days and salt fixes later my feet stopped swelling and I was back in action; boots on the feet and on the ground.

Salt, it’s not for everyone.

A few years ago my wife discovered from her research (Woman’s World and such) that there are minerals in ocean water you can only get from there. (See this article from Virginia Hopkins Health Watch). These minerals, plus the amount of natural salts in the water are good for rinsing of the sinuses, it was said. Sounded good to me. I have constant sinus issues and I was up for anything to keep my battle won. As a dutiful husband I accompanied my wife out into the Gulf of Mexico to retrieve this mineral laden miracle of sinus healing. I suspect it was just a ploy to make an extra trip to the beach, yet we went. We made sure we were far enough out into the gulf to capture the best; as if we knew what the best was. It had to be where no one was swimming or sand was stirring. Forget the idea that fish and other sea creatures live and die and void in the water. Hey, can’t be much different than a horse trough, right?

That night we tried our natural sea salt rinse. The next morning, I could hardly breathe at all, much less through my nose. The condition worsened into an all-out sinus infection that drove me to see my now familiar ENT. I explained everything to him about the sea salt and how it seemed to help my wife, but me, not so much.

“T.J.” he said, “There is a small population of people that have a reversed reaction to salt sinus rinses. Though this remedy works for the vast majority, it doesn’t work at all for some, and a small percentage has an adverse reaction. You are part of that small percentage where salt rinses affect you negatively.”

“Are you saying I am not normal?” I asked.

“Salt or no salt, I would never say you are normal.” He said with a smile.

“Thanks, Doc. You’re so reassuring.” I said. “Don’t quit your day job.”

“Oh, I won’t. It pays too well. You can check out at the receptionist desk.”

You are the salt of the earth.

My name is T.J. Allen and I like salt. In Matthew 5:13 Jesus says we are the salt of the earth. I think He especially had people like me in mind. Well, maybe not. It is still one of my favorite scripture verses. I just like salt; iodized, seasoned, rock, Himalayan, or block. I like salt. I especially like being the salt of the earth. Salt makes food zesty and flavorful. We too are to add the zest and flavor of God to the lives of others as we allow Him to make us such. Salt also helps by promoting healing. We are to live in such a way that our actions and our words heal. Go salt your world today. Someone out there will like you more.

Forgive Me – A Memorial Poem

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Forgive Me – A Memorial Poem

by T.J. Allen

In honor of those who sacrificed to defend our country and the ideals of freedom. On this Memorial Day; remember the fallen.

Forgive me if I do not stand up,
When they pray in somber dress and suits.
When I show no emotion at playing of taps,
Or any kind of gun salutes.

Forgive me of little move to comfort
As loved ones grieve at their loss.
Excuse the absence of tears unshed,
Though, I, all too well have felt the cost.

I understand the principled honor.
I understand the stubborn pride.
I understand the pushing forward,
When fear pushes hard inside.

I understand the courage shown
To help one’s comrades in need.
I understand the sacrifice given
I have watched our heroes bleed.

So, forgive me if I do not stand up,
When men of God shall pray.
I lie still in homage to the warrior
On whose casket I now lay.

With white gloves, I am folded,
A triangled memorial to a fallen one.
In a case or on a mantel sitting still,
Remember my daughter or my son.

Who loved honor more than life,
To protect, guard, and defend.
Forever in our hearts now cherished;
May their memory never end.

So when you see me flying high,
Over schools, banks, or capitol steps;
Remember the brave ones departed,
And the tears of the broken hearted wept.

Remember the brave living ones yet,
Whose lives are on the line for you.
Brave in the field and those at home.
Embodied, in the red, white, and blue.

Why Couscous Is Good For You – A Recipe

couscous
Israeli couscous

Just for Fun

This blog is kind of just for fun. I like to cook and it is part of my eclectic and creative life. I hope you enjoy this recipe.

A Brief History

A pearl type, grain food, couscous first appeared in culinary history in the 13th century. There are many touted benefits including cancer prevention and boosting the immune system. This food stuff consists mainly of fats more than carbs which is more desirable. (See Health Benefits of Couscous and 10 Benefits of Couscous).  It is also very tasty. It is very sticky and can be used for various recipes. My wife likes to mix the cooked couscous with chicken and spinach. If you don’t fluff up the little pearls they will stick together like rice.

A Moment of Inspiration

On a side note, I like quiche (yeah, I know, real men don’t eat quiche…uh, whatever) but, the main part of the quiche that poses a problem if you are trying to eat healthy is the crust. In a moment of wonder, I noticed the couscous becoming sticky as it cooled. I had heard the benefits of this grain and thought it might work as a crust substitute for quiche. Below is that recipe for a spinach quiche, but the couscous can be used in any quiche application. I hope you like it. Let me know what you think or what success you have with other variations at tj@thesaltyeclectic.com.

Spinach Couscous Quiche

1             Cup of uncooked couscous
5             Eggs, lightly beaten (salt and peppered to your liking)
1             Medium onion, diced
1             Bell pepper, diced (or pepper of your choice, about ½ cup)
3             Cups of cheese (More flavorful if you mix these, say, cheddar and pepper jack)*
1.5         Cups of half and half*
8             Ounces of cooked meat (ham or bacon)
1             Cup of spinach

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare couscous according to the package. (How to Cook Couscous) This should yield about 1.5 cups of cooked couscous. As it cools line a 2 quart casserole dish with couscous. You will need to pat it flat and smooth it out to make a consistent layer of “crust.” Feel free to remove some of the couscous if you feel it is too thick. I like it thick. Let cool in the refrigerator.

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2 Quart Casserole Dish lined with cooled couscous.

In a separate bowl beat eggs and half and half. Mix in onions, peppers, and cheese. In cooled couscous pan layer meat and spinach. Pour egg mixture on top of meat and spinach.

Bake in preheated oven for sixty to seventy minutes or until set. Let stand about ten minutes before serving.

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Completed Couscous Quiche

*Light or fat free cheeses and half and half can be used for a lighter quiche.

Why I Ain’t Afraid of No Ghost

Ghost Busters
Logo from the movie Ghostbusters.

Who ya gonna call?

Yes, I know the word “ain’t” isn’t proper English grammar and there is a double negative. It is just when hauntings and ghost sightings are mentioned I hear the theme from Ghostbusters start off in my head. Personally I don’t believe in ghosts per se. Okay, one Ghost, and I am not afraid of Him, but I will get to that in a minute. Let’s explore the possibility that there are or are not ghosts. As with any subject supernatural, I use the Bible as my premise and foundation.

Ghosts Defined

A ghost, as defined by Encarta Dictionary: English (North America) is “the supposed spirit of somebody who has died, believed to appear as a shadowy form or to cause sounds, the movement of objects, or a frightening atmosphere in a place.” As defined, I do not believe ghosts exist. You could probably bring to this argument, hundreds, if not thousands of arguments to the contrary. These would include haunted houses with unexplained phenomena ranging from: thumping noises to furniture moving, to cold presence, and sick owners. I could not dispute what these people have encountered. My question would be: was it ghosts? I think not.

I believe in angels, fallen angels, demons, and/or evil spirits. Nothing more. I believe that all the hauntings, evil and cold presences, sicknesses, and thumping noises are demonic in nature.

Why?

To answer this we have to go back to the beginning of creation of man and the world to the first account of fallen angels. The king of fallen angels has been called by many names throughout the years: the Devil, Lucifer, Satan, Father of Lies, the Accuser, etc. Not exactly human friendly terms. Most religions of the world have this evil being as the leader of all this evil. He not only hates God, but all that is good and created by God, especially humans.

Also in creation we can find why he hates humans so much. After God created all and saw that it was good, He created man in his image (See Being Fully Human for more discussion). Man was the crown of God’s creation and above all the world of created beings. Satan would and does attack the closest thing to God and to God’s heart: man. One of the most effective ways to injure a man is not to attack him, rather to attack his family.

How?

Several of the demonic tactics in luring humans away from God is to seed doubt in our minds, especially in times of sorrow or stress. This accounts for the seeing of loved ones or even animals shortly after their death. Humans seek stability through reasoning and answers. We do not like change and pain. We prefer pleasure and simplicity. Demons appear as our loved ones in an attempt to question what we know and lead us away from God. Many times God is silent to the passing of our loved ones. He has His reasons, even if we don’t agree with them. We long to see them again. If demonic activity allows for our greatest longing during our greatest pain, to see our loved ones again, then we tend to relieve the pain through acceptance.

Summary

The Bible clearly states concerning Christians for us to be separate from the body is to be present with the Lord. Though some religions mention the body lingering for up to three days before departing, the Bible does not teach this . There is no mention of people hanging around or visiting loved ones once departing this life. Rather, there is a void that exists. Then something else is impersonating our loved ones. Satan and evil forces exist and will do most anything to keep you from the one true Holy Ghost. This Ghost or Spirit is not to be feared, but loved since He is the Spirit of Love. So now, who ya gonna call?

4 Philosophical Ways to Know Jesus

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The Thinker. Sculpture by Auguste Rodin.

The philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer stated there are four basic rules of philosophical argument or debate. These rules help govern debates through logical steps and conclusions. Here are the basic principles in simplified form:

  1. Everything that is, exists.
  2. Nothing can simultaneously be and not be.
  3. Each and every thing either is or is not.
  4. Of everything that is, it can be found why it is.

So, how do these rules of philosophical debate stack up when discussing who Jesus was and is? When conducting any investigation one must use facts as stated by reliable witnesses if the investigator is not an eyewitness to the events. So it is also with any debate or argument.

Everything that is, exists.

Over the years there have been attempts to prove Jesus of Nazareth never existed. These investigators come up, not surprisingly, short of concrete proof for the His non-existence. On the contrary, history is replete with factual evidence of Jesus’ existence so vast that it cannot be listed here. From the Bible to Josephus to early church fathers, the references are there. It begs the question: does He still exist like Christianity claims?

Nothing can simultaneously be and not be.

Many have said through the ages that Jesus was a good man or a good, moral teacher. He claimed of Himself to be the Son of God and the Savior of the World. C.S. Lewis and Josh McDowell stated Jesus was: a lunatic, a liar, or the Son of God. A lunatic could not, and would not have had the mental capacity to establish the ways, beliefs, or truths of Christianity. No liar could be a good man or moral. This leaves Him to be who He said he was: the Son of God and Savior of the World. He cannot be a lunatic, liar, and the Son of God simultaneously. He has to be one and not be the others.

Each and every thing either is or is not.

Jesus claimed to be the Son of God and in fact, God Himself. This same claim was, and is made of Him by Christians since His death and proclaimed resurrection from the dead. He either is what He says He is or He is not. He cannot be the Son of God and not be the Son of God. When speaking to the religious leaders of the day he stated the proofs of His deity: His miracles, His words, and the testimony of others to include: God the Father, John the Baptist, the Holy Scriptures, and those He had healed. These witnesses being reliable as they are, also provides evidence that He still exists today.

Of everything that is, it can be found why it is.

What of Jesus’ existence on earth? If He was, and is truly God, as He and His followers have stated, why was He here on earth? His mission is stated in John 10:10 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (ESV) There is a thief who steals everything from man that can be stolen. This includes our joy, our purpose, our souls, and our lives. Just look around the world today and throughout history. Jesus came to stop the thief and give man back all he was designed by God to have. That starts with his life eternal. This is the difference between Christianity and all the world’s religions and belief systems. Man’s spirit is dead within him. Jesus creates that spirit to come to new life; a new creation. He offers and requires a spiritual renewal. The world religions and belief systems neither require, nor offer such renewal.

You Can Know

Those who would debate against the existence, mission, and validity of Jesus have not examined all the evidence. Rather they have taken the stance of “My mind is made up don’t confuse me with the facts.” Two great books filled with the evidences of Jesus and His mission is The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel and New Evidence That Demands a Verdict
by Josh McDowell. Examine the evidence and know Jesus existed. He was more than a moral teacher. He is who He says He is and He wants a deeper relationship with you. I invite you to start your relationship with Him today. Click on the link below to learn more.

Begin a Relationship With Jesus

Being Fully Human: Claim Your Birthright
       

Finding Something Better Than a Golden Dome

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Golden Dome of the Georgia State Capitol

 

On the street corner in downtown Atlanta, Georgia, a friend and I were standing, chatting, and waiting for the little pedestrian icon to turn from orange to white so we could cross the street. An older woman came up to us and looked passed us up to the top of a building beyond.

“I am not concerned about Jesus Saves,” she said. “I am looking for the golden dome. Do you know where it is?”

It took us a minute to realize what she was asking. I think our hesitations cast some doubt in her mind as to whether we could give her a trustworthy and satisfactory answer. My friend’s name being Jesus (Hey-Zues) added to my confusion. We guessed she was talking about the golden dome that sits atop of the state capitol government building along Washington and Trinity streets in downtown Atlanta (More about the Georgia State Capitol) . We pointed in the general direction of where we believed it to be. With apparent no trust in our judgment, the lady headed in another direction. The dome was indeed in the direction in which we had pointed.

Jesus Saves

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Steeple with “Jesus Saves” on both sides.

 

Jesus and I continued towards a building where we were to conduct an inspection, discussing the strange encounter. We were not sure what she had meant by her not being “concerned about Jesus Saves.” Part of our inspection included the roof top. We decided to go there first. Once upon the flat roof I surveyed the Atlanta skyline. I saw a steeple with the words “Jesus Saves” on the side of it. I looked down and saw the street corner where the lady had spoken to us. Other buildings had blocked our view of the steeple where the brief discussion had taken place. I realized what her statement meant. She wasn’t looking for this building, but for the building with the golden dome.

This woman echoed the sentiments of so many people. They don’t care too much about “Jesus Saves.” They just want to know the direction to the golden dome. Jesus addressed this very concern of the world’s obsession with things that are limited and false. People prefer the shiny things in life to what Jesus has to offer. The golden dome this lady sought has twenty ounces of gold leaf covering it. It is estimated to be worth $30,000. As impressive as it sounds, it is still temporal.

The golden dome represents man made government and society. In Isaiah 6:9a, the government and kingdom of God is spoken of. The scripture says “For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder.” (ESV, italics are mine for emphasis). The government of man shall pass away in all its imperfections, but the government and kingdom of God will not.  Jesus saves from the temporal and faulty government of man and replaces it with His kingdom. It starts now in our hearts and will be in full force when Jesus sets up His kingdom at the end of time.

We pointed the lady in the right direction, but, again like the world she didn’t trust us with our directions any more than she trusted Jesus to save her. I wonder if she even knew what she was asking. I know she meant it one way, but it could be taken another. I wonder if she thought, “What is it that Jesus saves from?” Based on her statement and then her interaction with us, I would hazard a guess that she never gave the statement a second thought, much less a deeper meaning. She, after all was “not too concerned with Jesus Saves.”

I, on the other hand am very glad Jesus Saves and Jesus saved me. As Ravi Zacharias has said, “Jesus did not come to earth to make bad people good. No, He came to earth to make dead people alive.” Jesus saved me from death. He saved me from a life of aimlessness and worthlessness. He saved me from the slavery of sin and deceit. He saved me from eternal separation from God and he saved me from unrighteousness. He saved me from me. He came to give me life and that more abundantly. He did all that by the renewing of my spirit. This is what it means to be born again; to be born to new life and to become a new creature. This is how Jesus Saves. This is the good news we must tell to others, even those who are not so concerned that Jesus saves and prefer the gold and golden domes.

Getting to Know Jesus

Find out more about the abundant life with Jesus at the links below.

Are You a Watchman?

Christianity Coexist? It Cannot Happen.

Christianty Coexist? It cannot happen.

coexist_by_chima.png

Perhaps you have seen this bumper sticker of late that suggests all the world’s religions, movements, and beliefs should just get along and play nice: they should coexist. It is kind of like the saying “to live and just let live.” Those who display such stickers or embrace this stance do not understand there is one of those “religions” that cannot just coexist.  I am sure you noticed I put the word religion in “”. This is not a grammatical error because though Christianity is a religion to many, it was never designed to be.

Though the symbols of all belief systems are not displayed in the sticker, it is intended to be all inclusive. This thought process in and of itself is Hinduistic in nature. It says, “There is room for every belief system.” The saying “all roads lead to Rome” or better, “all beliefs lead to heaven” is its mantra. There in is the rub. Christianity by its very nature cannot be all inclusive to all beliefs though it is welcoming to all who would believe.

An examination of Christianity will find it similar in nature to many of the belief systems of the world:

  • There are many who claim their founder was an Avatar or incarnation of a/the Supreme Being.
  • Some claim their founder was born in unusual or supernatural circumstances.
  • Some belief systems claim their founder died and was resurrected from the dead.
  • Many systems claim a higher road of living with ethical precepts. These precepts are offered in a systematic order of conduct. There are various levels of being or living which is dependent upon how closely the precepts are adhered to. The greater the adherence to the belief systems’ precepts, the greater or closer one will be in the walk to attaining the goal or to the Supreme Being or Universe.
  • Many systems offer a way to heaven or at least a calmer existence in the afterlife.
  • Many claim theirs is the only way to attain this afterlife and/or oneness with the Supreme Being or at least with the Universe.
  • Many systems claim when one attains the blissful afterlife, they have simultaneously saved themselves from an alternate hellish afterlife.

What makes Christianity so different from all other world belief systems? All the claims made above can and are made concerning Jesus and the belief system He offered with two exceptions: the spiritual condition of man and the cure for it. Like many of the world systems Christianity says mankind is in a state of imperfectness and there must be some alteration to make him viable to gain all that is offered. Where most, if not all belief systems encourage a gradual becoming, Jesus states man must have a new beginning first. Many belief systems see the becoming as a journey that starts at birth. Some state it crosses many lives and many attempts. Christianity sees man as a dead spirit and there is no way he can cause that spirit to live again. In his spiritually dead state he is separated from God and his ultimate destiny is in a place of eternal separation.

Christians call this new beginning being “born again.” Jesus used this terminology in the book of John and chapter three. In His discussion with Nicodemus He stated everyone must be born again. Paul calls it being a new creation. Jesus further tells Nicodemus that this new birth comes from believing in Him, the Son of God. The Bible clearly explains how Jesus died on the cross in our place. It wasn’t an accident, it was intentional. None of the major world belief systems have a founder who willingly and purposely died in the place of its adherents. Nor does any of the world religions require the adherents to accept the substitutionary death of their founder as the only way to gain the salvation spoken of in its precepts. Jesus further explains the reason for His death and resurrection: the love of the Father.

If someone claims to be a Christian but has never come to the place where their spirit has been renewed by the Spirit of God then their brand of Christianity is no different than any other belief system. They may follow every rule outlined but they have in essence taken the precepts of Jesus and made them an ethical system. This is one of reasons people think it should and could coexist with all other world systems when in fact it is more than an ethical system. In the words of Jesus “You must be born again.” At that point, the journey really begins. Have you been born again and are living the abundant life Jesus promised to provide? Or are you living a life which seeks to emulate an ethical system? It’s a choice and not to choose is to choose not to have.

If you would like to know more about being  born again, click on the link below.

To Be Born Again

The Raven Revisited

Gold featherI have always been an avid reader and have always liked the work of Edgar Allen Poe. I was reading his famous “The Raven” some time back and thought about how dark it was. Yes, I know he was lamenting his loss of Lenore, but it was so bleak. So, I rewrote it from a Christian perspective.  Here it below: “The Raven Revisited.”

Once upon my life so dreary, while I wondered weak and weary,
Over many a squandered chance of lost opportunity yore,
While I staggered, strength sapping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of someone gently rapping, rapping at my cold heart’s door.
`’Tis some mournful feeling,’ I muttered, `tapping at my cold heart’s door –
Only this, and nothing more.’

Ah, distinctly I remember it was my soul’s dark December,
And my depression a dark amber wrought its light upon the floor.
Eagerly searched I relief of sorrow; – loneliness like wasteland yarrow.
From my deeds, smoke of a claro – sorrow for a life abhorred –
For the rare and radiant prospect whom the angels all once adored –
Useless here for evermore.

Downtrodden my spirit hurtin’ dark as the color of rare aged burton
Thrilled me – filled me with final feelings never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating
`’Tis some specter entreating entrance at my cold heart’s door –
Some unknown specter seeking entrance at my cold heart’s door; –
This it is, and nothing more,’

Presently my soul grew weaker; straining at the voice of the speaker,
`Sir,’ said He, “You must seek forgiveness for sins performed before;
But the fact is you were napping, when the Spirit came a rapping,
And so kindly He came tapping, tapping at your heart’s door,
Oh, great Spirit kind I hear you’ – here I opened wide the door; –
Brilliantness there, and so much more.

Deep into that brightness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams I, mortal never dared to dream before;
But the silence now was broken, and the radiance of love awoken,
And the glorious word there spoken was the wonderful word, `Adore!’
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, `Adore!’
“Intensely love” and so much more.

Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me yearning,
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
`Surely,’ said I, `surely fact is my lonely life has so lacked this;
Let me see then, what practice, and this mystery explore –
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore; –
‘Tis the Spirit and so much more!’

Open here I flung my moral sense, with examination to recompense,
In my soul stepped a stately raven of the saintly days of yore.
With all Godly obeisance made he; resident stopped and stayed he;
All, with mien of the Lord prayed he, entered he into my heart’s door –
Entered he a heart so callous just inside my warm heart’s door –
Entered and resident forevermore.

Then this golden bird compiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the splendid and fine decorum of the countenance it wore,
`Though thy crest be grand engraven, thou,’ I said, `thou art sure a haven.
Stately and ancient raven directly from the bright morning shore –
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Day’s Heavenly shore!’
Quoth the raven, `Forevermore.’

Much I marveled this splendid fowl to hear discourse so candid,
Though its answer commanded – great relevancy bore;
For I could not help agreeing that any forlorn human being
Is set free by just receiving the Spirit within his heart so sore –
Freedom explodes within the accepting weary heart so sore,
With such name as `Forevermore.’

And the raven, sitting bold he to my living soul, told he,
That one word, as if his being in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing further then he uttered – not a feather then he fluttered –
Till I scarcely more than muttered `Others you have yet saved before?
Of my sorrow relieved me, as my hopes have not soared before.’
Then the bird said, `Forevermore.’

Startled at the sadness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
`Doubtless,’ said I, `what it utters I will take stock and store,
Flown from his Happy Master whom a merciful dream caster
Followed fast and followed faster till his songs release burden bore –
Till the dirges of his hope freed within me all burden bore
Of “Forever-evermore.”‘

Now the raven a stately piling set my glad soul now so flying,
I wheeled a cart and danced within my soul like never once before;
Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this grandiose bird of yore –
What this glad, gainly, ghostly, gaily, and promising bird of yore
Meant in stately `Forevermore.’

This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the capon whose loving eyes now burned into my bosom’s core;
This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
On the cushion’s velvet lining that the lamp-light gloated o’er,
But whose velvet violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o’er,
He shall press, ah, forevermore!

Then, me thought, my mind grew clearer, from the fog as from a mirror,
Removed by Seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.
`Salvation,’ I cried, `my God hath lent thee – by these angels he has sent thee
Freedom- freedom meant He, from sure damnation bore!
Freedom from the chains of past sins my soul damnation bore!’
Quoth the raven, `Forevermore.’

`Prophet!’ said I, `of souls retrieval! – prophet still, of hell’s upheaval! –
The throne of emerald rainbow came thee to settle this one score,
Desolate my soul undaunted, a desert land disenchanted –
Prospect of hell  horror haunted – once yes, but no more –
There is – there is balm in Gilead? – He is glorious Heaven’s door!’
Quoth the raven, `Forevermore.’

`Prophet!’ said I, `of souls retrieval! – prophet still, of hell’s upheaval!
By that Heaven that bends above us – by that God we both adore –
A once dead spirit now awaken, a different road I now am taken
Of this salvation no mistaken, Jesus to whom the angels kneel before –
Not angels only but all creation and mankind shall all kneel before.’
Quoth the raven, `Forevermore.’

At that word light dream defying, with echo of saints glorifying –
Shaken from the night’s vision and the Night’s Plutonian shore!
On bed a gold plume as a token of the truth to soul was spoken!
My thought train still unbroken! – of the raven, salvation galore!
Life to my heart, a new creation of salvation of truth not lore!’
Quoth the raven, `Forevermore.’

And the raven, voice committing, in mind and heart, still is sitting
Whether dream imagined or somehow real from heaven’s door;
And his echoed voice all the seeming of an angel in my dreaming,
The eternal lamp-light o’er him streaming throws his light in my core;
And my soul now regenerated, liberated, exonerated, redeemed fore,
Shall be lifted – forevermore!

Are You a Watchman?

shofar-man

Invariably when I broach this subject I am quizzed about the Watchtower booklets used by the Jehovah’s Witness. And so, right up front let me say that these are not the same. Rather, this is a term used in the bible in Ezekiel, Chapter 33, and verses 1-11. In this chapter God addressed Ezekiel in such a manner that it leads some scholars to believe God was talking to anyone who is called to be part of the clergy. Some scholars will say God is using this example to Ezekiel to highlight the duty of all Christians. Either way there is a lesson to be learned here. I am not going to write out all the verses. Those that I quote will be from the Revised English Standard.

The people of the Old Testament times were mostly nomads; some people had become city dwellers as a means of safety. Whether nomad or city dweller, danger lurked in the form of marauding bands or raiding armies. A watchman was necessary to warn the people of incoming danger. The watchman would take the highest vantage point to scan the horizon for trouble. From the highest sand dune, cliff, or pinnacle of the city tower, he would keep an eye out for threats. We obviously want people with certain qualities to fulfill these positions. They need to be able to see communicate clearly. We don’t want a blind mute watching for us.

God set Ezekiel up a watchman. He was told to warn the people of Israel as God’s spokesman. What God told him, he was to tell the people. God specifically told Ezekiel, the Watchman to warn the wicked that they will die in their wickedness. There were two possible scenarios here God describes along with the outcomes of each.

  1. The Watchman, given a clear word from God to warn the wicked people of their wickedness and to turn away from it, decides not to warn the people. The people will surely die, but God will hold the Watchman accountable because the people did not have a chance to change from their wickedness.
  2. The Watchman does tell the people they are going to die in their wickedness and they don’t repent of their wicked ways. Again, the wicked will die in their wickedness, but the Watchman will not be held accountable. He did what he was instructed to do.

In the first scenario the wicked are not warned and God says that person will be “taken away in his iniquity.” Iniquity is immoral behavior. If left unchecked, the person will be lost in it. Can people be so blind to their immoral lives? Yes, they see nothing wrong with their lives and who are you to point it out? You got to be careful here. If God tells you to speak with someone about their immoral lifestyle, you better be sure it is from God and you go in His power, not your own. Conversely, if God has told you to address the immoral ways of someone and you don’t speak up, then God is going to hold you accountable for not speaking to that person. This isn’t so easy with family or friends, is it?

The part of the equation besides God’s power is the reason for the telling, which brings us several questions:

  • Do Christians have a right to correct/confront non-Christians? It is not a matter of right; it is a matter of obligation, obedience, attitude, and desired outcomes. Again, is God telling you to do it or are you doing it in an attitude of being offended or judgmental? Do you just want them to stop the behavior or do you want them to see they are lost in that sin without a Savior? If you want them to meet Jesus then it won’t be a “come to Jesus meeting.”
  • Do Christians have a right to correct/confront Christians? Here too, it is not a matter of a right as much as it is a matter of obligation. Believe it or not, Christians and non-Christians have a different standard. God does not expect the unbeliever to act like a Christian. He expects them to become Christians. God also does not expect Christians to behave like unbelievers. The correction here is to bring a brother or sister, someone who is part of the family, back into a right relationship with the family. Their iniquity separates them from fellow brothers and sisters as well as the Father.

Above all things, there is to be an attitude of love. We talk to the immoral unbeliever because we love them and want them to live up to the spiritual purpose God created them for. We lovingly confront the brother or sister because we love them and, like God, want what is best for them in their walk with Him. In the last two verses God makes it plan that He takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked. Rather, as a loving Father He implores them to turn back from their wickedness to find life. He asks, “Why will you die?”