Saturday, April 30, 2016

A Mysterious Happening

Image result for images of a dream come true

Andrea turned in her bed and fluffed the pillow for about the tenth time.  She was experiencing a rather restless night for it had been hot and sticky.  It was one of those summer nights when it would have been better to sleep with the top window open but she would have none of it.  Several times she had awakened from bouts of intermittent sleep to turn and fluff the moist pillow then stared at the ceiling before drifting off to sleep again.  This was one of those nights when morning appeared to take extremely long to come.

While staring at the ceiling she thought she had heard a voice.  The first time she ignored it, telling herself that it was her active imagination attempting to get the better of her.  She rolled over on her side to face the wall of her bedroom.  She covered her head with her pillow and tried to drift off.  “There’s that voice again,” she thought.  “It sounds so real and familiar.  But it can’t be Antoine.  She has been dead for over a year.”

It was not the first night that Andrea had heard her sister’s voice.  She had told her mother of the other instances.  On each occasion she was informed that she had been dreaming.  Andrea had countered that she could not have been dreaming on those occasions since she had found it difficult to sleep in the first place.  Her mother had told her that it was perhaps the result of a very active imagination.

There was the voice again.  This time there was no mistaking.  It was Antoine’s voice.  With the pillow still over her head, Andrea felt a very strong presence in the room.  She dared to remove the pillow from her face.  What she saw was the most startling sight that she had ever seen.  At the foot of her bed sat her twin sister, Antoine.  She appeared as real as ever, dressed in the same white outfit in which she was buried on that sunny Saturday afternoon.  How could she ever forget that dress!  She had chosen it.  She had remarked then that it was so much like Antoine, with its broad collar falling behind and in front of her shoulders complemented by the lily-white frills with lace on their edges.  As she reflected on the event then Antoine did not appear to be dead but only asleep.  At the time there appeared to be the faintest of smiles on her face.  She had always like playing tricks and planning pleasant surprises.  Could this have been one of them?

Antoine was a pleasant, fun-loving ten-year old.  She lived as if she knew that she had but a short earthly sojourn.  She was not only Andrea’s identical twin sister but she was also her best friend.  They were so alike that even their parents encountered difficulty telling one apart from the other.  You could well imagine the confusion they caused among their teachers as well as their peers at school.  Fortunately for all concerned, they were very well behaved children.  All was not well however, with the twin.  They were not only alike in resemblance and behaviour but both of them suffered with asthma.  Often one of them, and on occasions both of them, would experience extreme discomfort from asthma attacks.  Often too, they would have to be rushed to the hospital’s asthma bay in an effort to procure the relief that even their inhalers were unable to supply.

It was on one of those occasions when Antoine encountered her tragic experience.  She was walking home from school in the company of her sister when she complained that she was having difficulty breathing.  Her inhalers were of no use to her then.  Rushing to the home of a neighbour, Andrea persuaded him to take Antoine to the hospital.  The doctors had tried their utmost to save her but their efforts were in vain.  Remarkably, though, Antoine had remained conscious up to the very end.  It was as though she had planned it that way.  She had held on to her precious life until her mother and father arrived at the hospital.   With a weak attempt at a smile she had told them not to weep for her because she was going to a place where there would be no asthma and she would see them all again some day.  With that she closed her eyes and was gone.

Andrea had never quite accepted that her twin sister had actually died.  She would still reached out her hand to hug her like she had usually done at nights as they slept together.  Only now there was no Antoine...or was there?

She gazed unbelievingly into the beautiful eyes of her sister afraid to blink less she spoilt this moment and lost it forever.  “Antoine is it really you or are you up to one of your tricks again?”  She was tempted to move towards her, to reach out and touch her.  She dared not, however, afraid that Antoine would leave and never return.  “Come on,” she heard herself insist.  “Is it you, or is this my overactive imagination?”

Antoine looked into her eyes and smiled.  “It’s me, Andrea.  I wouldn’t fool you like this.  Why, you know we never really fooled one another.  I noticed that you couldn’t get to sleep so I came to comfort you.  I wanted you to know that everything is all right but mostly that you must never be afraid to die.  You must remember that it is easier to die than it is to live.  The challenge is not to die but to live and let your life count for something.  See the window over there?  Open it! Let the cool night air in.  Don’t be afraid.”  

Andrea was certain now that she was not dreaming.  She was so happy to see her sister again and know that all was well with her.  Antoine continued, “I have one more thing to tell you but you must promise not to tell anyone except Mummy and Daddy.  Promise?”

“Yes, I promise,” Andrea replied with heightened expectation in her voice.

“When I tell you what I have to tell you then Mummy will know for sure that we talked.  Your wish has come true.  You have come tops in the Common Entrance Examination in the whole island.  I could tell you your scores too, but I will leave that part of the surprise until tomorrow when you get back the results.”
“You mean that I have done so well in my exam?  Why, I can’t believe it.  You mean I have actually, finally bettered Shelly and Timothy?  I don’t even know what to say,” Andrea said with delirious joy.

“I am happy for you my twin sister.  Say hello to Mummy and Daddy for me and always be the best that you can be, Sis.  A whole world out there is depending on you.  Bye for now.”

In a moment she was gone.  Andrea rubbed her eyes and stretched out her feet.  They were cramped.  It was only then that she realized how motionless she had been.  She crawled reluctantly to the foot of the bed where Antoine was sitting.  She reached out timidly and touched the place where she had sat. 

“Was it for real or was it just a dream?”

Dawn found her staring at the ceiling and reflecting on the event of the night.  By this time she had decided that she would honour her sister’s wish and share the good news with no one except her parents.  This she did while they sat at breakfast.   Needless to say though, they did not believe her. 

“You see, Andrea,” her mother informed her, “You have missed Antoine so much that you are still denying that she has gone.”

“That’s true, my dear.  We miss her too,” her father added.

“I saw her and she spoke to me.  Wait and you’ll see when you get the news later today.”  Andrea stated emphatically.

Her parents knew that she was an industrious student.  “But coming first in the Common Entrance Examination?  No way!” they both thought, unaware of what the other was thinking at that precise moment.

Mrs. Hoyte, the principal, began to address the Class Four pupils.  Among them were two ten-year old students who had taken the exam.  They all waited anxiously to hear how they had done in the just concluded Secondary Schools’ Examination.  None was more expectant than Andrea.  Her eyes caught a movement in the corridor.  It was a crew from the local television station.  Andrea’s name was at the top of the list. She had not only scored the highest at her school but had done so across the entire island.  The television crew wanted to have an interview with her.

Yes!  She had done it.  No one had done better than she in the examination.  She had aced the Mathematics as well as the English and had scored an “A” in the essay.  She had written on the topic, “An Experience I Will Never Forget”.  As you might have guessed, it was all about the evening when her sister encountered that fatal asthma attack. 

As she stood on the platform basking in all of the praise and accolades, she whispered, “Thank you, Sis.  You were so correct.  This is for us!”

One of the camera crew asked, “Are you saying something, damsel?”

“No, no, never mind,” she replied, gazing past all of them.

“And to think of it,” she heard the principal announcing as though in the distance, “She is the youngest of them all.”
Stewart Russell  © 2013

Monday, April 25, 2016

What A Surprise!

              Image result for images of a red bicycle                   
Miriam awoke to the sound of the light drizzle tapping on the roof of her room.  Sliding back the curtains, she studied the intricate patterns that the rain was making on the window.  It was one of those occasions when the sun was competing with the rain for supremacy.  The sun was trying its best to shine through and the rain was not prepared to give way without a fight.  She recalled that her friends used to say during these times that the devil and his wife were fighting for the cou-cou stick.  She could not tell how long she was staring at the patterns but suddenly she remembered that this was an important day in her life.  Eleven years ago to the very day she was born and she always looked forward to her birthday since birthdays were special occasions in the Lashley family

Miriam wondered what form the celebration would take this time.  She had always tried to work it out but she was never able to anticipate her family. They always seem several steps ahead of her.  She had planned to stop trying to figure them out but she had to confess that the game of trying to find out was quite intriguing.  Pulling herself away from the window, she rose from the side of the bed where she was sitting and began her morning ritual which included fixing her bed, changing from her night clothes and saying what for her was recital of a simple morning prayer which her mother had taught her when she was barely able to walk and talk.
Having completed her ritual, she hurried from her room.  On reaching the kitchen, she repeatedly called out to her parents but received no reply.  “What could they be up to now?” she wondered.  While she was pondering what her next step should be her younger brother entered the kitchen.  Opening the refrigerator and peering in, he asked, “What’s up, Sis?”  He was clearly trying to hold back a burst of laughter.  His behaviour only served to heighten her curiosity.

“Where’s mum and dad?” she asked. 

“How do you expect me to know?  Like you, when I came from my room this morning I did not see them either.  I guess they will be along presently.”  With that he was off with his mouth full of leftovers from the day before.  

Disappointment number one was the rain attempting to spoil this Saturday on which her birthday fell.  Disappointment number two was that her parents were nowhere around to wish her happy birthday.  This was not the kind of birthday that she had envisaged.  She decided it was no use sulking and commenced to make her own breakfast which consisted of toast, cheese and a hot beverage.  She had just sat down to consume it when the telephone rang.   “Good morning, Lashley’s residence.  How may I help you?”  she answered.

“Good morning,” replied the caller.  “May I speak with Mrs. Lashley, please?”  For a moment Miriam thought that she had heard a snigger in the background but she couldn’t be sure.

“I am sorry,” she replied, “but Mummy is not here at the moment.  Can I take a message?”

“All right, may I speak with your dad, then?” the caller continued.

“He is not here either,” she stated, somewhat puzzled by the caller.  There was something strange about this caller but she was unable to tell what it was.  Perhaps strange was not the word but familiar.  Why was she not able to tell? 

“Well, I guess I’ll have to call back later.  Bye.”  There was a loud click and then silence.  Miriam stood poised with the phone for some considerable time.  She wondered about the strange behaviour of the caller.  Invariably when someone called for either one of her parents and they were not at home, the caller would leave a message.  This was not the case this time and it was rather puzzling.

She returned to the table and began to munch on her toast taking a rather dainty bite and a mouthful of ovaltine.  She continued to wonder about the events of the morning.  She was deep in her thoughts when the ringing of the phone caused her to jump.  It sounded unusually loud.  She allowed it to ring about five times before she answered it.  “Sis, aren’t you going to get it?” her brother called out.

“I’ll get it Ryan,” she shouted back.  “Good morning, Lashley’s residence.”

“May I speak with your mum, please?” the caller requested.  Miriam was sure that this was the same caller of a few minutes ago.  “But why would she call back so soon?” she thought.

“I am sorry but mummy has not returned yet.”  Too late she realized that she had treated the caller as if she had called before.  “I am sorry. I mean she is not at home.  Can I take a message?”

“Never mind. I guess I will call back a little later,” the caller replied.  With that there was silence again. 

“There is something very strange here and yet I cannot put my finger on it,” Miriam said.  She was only aware that she had spoken aloud when she heard her brother say, “Talking to yourself, Sis?”  He called her nothing else.  They enjoyed a very close relationship unlike many brothers and sisters of that age.  Though just a year difference, they were more collaborative than competitive.  He always used the name "Sis" as an endearment.  “Not going crazy, I hope,” he said laughingly.  “You seem perplexed and bewildered for the entire morning.  What’s wrong?”

“Why can’t you tell me where Mummy and Daddy are?” she countered.  “You are hiding something from me.  You wouldn’t tell where they have gone and you didn’t even wish me happy birthday.  That’s not at all like you.”

“Oh, sorry Sis.  Happy birthday,” he apologised, the apology never reaching his eyes.  Miriam was now certain that there was an orchestrated attempt to keep her in the dark about something.
“But what could it be?”  Her mind was working overtime to solve the riddle.  Of one other thing she was certain.  This whole state of affairs had something to do with her birthday.

Finally and without further interruption she was able to complete eating her breakfast.  By the time she had finished, the ovaltine had gone cold.  She simply put the cup to her head and drank it down in one continuous gulp.  Stuffing the remainder of the toast in her mouth she took the cup and plate to the sink and washed them.  She felt on edge and at the same time she expected the phone to ring again.  She was about to leave the room when it did ring.  Even though she expected it she was still startled.  “Hello Princess, happy birthday!”

“Daddy, where are you?” she inquired.

“Closer than you could ever imagine.” her father responded, struggling to hold back his laughter. 

“Is mummy with you?”

“Yes, she is right here with me.  Do you want to talk to her?”

“No, I want to know when you two are coming home.”

“Coming home?  What are you talking about, Princess?”  On a day like this we would not dare leave home without you.”

“So where are you?”  Miriam’s impatience became obvious in her tone.  “Where are you calling from?”

“The garage,” came her father’s reply followed by a roar of laughter.  Miriam dropped the receiver and hurried out to the garage.  There were her parents standing with a new brand bicycle.  Her father was still holding the cellular phone in his hand.  Miriam stood in her tracks gazing from the cellular to her father, to her mother and then to the sparkling red bike.  She was temporarily speechless.  They had tricked her again.  But how was she to work it out?  They never used the same idea twice.

“I now see,” she said as the realization began to dawn on her.  “It was mummy who called twice on the cellular.  I knew there was something familiar about the voice but I couldn’t place it because of the background noise.  Mummy and Daddy, you are something else and so is Ryan.  He knew all along where you were and what you were up to but refused to tell me.  You are the greatest family a girl could have.  Thank you Mum and Dad and you too, Ryan.  Pay back time is only a month away.  With that they all huddled together enjoying this great moment.

“Ruff! Ruff!” even Rosh appeared to have been in on the surprise as he stood looking at them, his tail wagging from side to side.  “Everyone knew except me,” Miriam thought happily.         

Stewart Russell © 2013

Saturday, April 23, 2016

What Must I do to be Saved?

Image result for images of What must I do to be saved

Is there some feat I can achieve to save my soul?
Is there some deed I can do to make me whole?
What must I do to enter the Chief Shepherd’s fold?
Tell me, what can I do to accomplish such a goal?

How can I get beyond the call to be one of the chosen?
How can I experience this opportunity so golden?
How can I become one of the highly favoured?
Is there some particular work over which I must labour?

Must I be a Jew direct from Abraham’s stock?
Is there room for me among that distinguished lot?
Must I be a member of some religious flock?
Tell me, what is it I must have that I haven’t got?

Is there any merit in me that I can bring to the fore?
Is there something in this life that I have in store?
What can I do to have life abundant and more?
Tell me what must I do to open eternal life’s door?

What if I have been righteous every day of my life?
What if I have embraced peace and eschewed all strife?
What about my church attendance and paying my tithe?
Shouldn’t these good practices be a worthy price?

Is there some specific church to which I must belong?
Or is there some area of life in which I must be strong?
What can I do to heal this ache in my soul?
Tell me! Tell me, what can I do to make me whole?

There’s nothing you can do eternal life to claim,
There’s nothing you can do salvation to sustain,
There’s nothing you must do God-given life to maintain,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus; can’t you hear that refrain?

Nothing but Jesus’ blood can save your soul,
Nothing but Jesus’ blood can make you whole,
None but the blood-washed enters the fold,
Nothing but Jesus’ blood can accomplish that goal.

Only the blood gets you beyond the call to be chosen,
Only through the blood is this opportunity so golden,
‘Tis through the blood alone one gets to be highly favoured,
Only through the blood, no special work or labour.

Nothing but the blood of Jesus, not Abraham’s stock,
Doesn’t matter if you figure among that distinguished lot,
Nothing but the blood, not some religious flock,
The blood is what must be applied; that you haven’t got.

Nothing but the blood can you bring to the fore,
Only the blood of Jesus, that’s what’s in store,
Only in the blood there’s life abundant and more,
Jesus’ blood alone is the way through eternal life’s door.

Only the blood, not your self-righteous rags of life
Even though you embrace peace and eschew all strife,
Only the blood, even in light of church attendance and tithe,
Without the blood these practices aren’t worth their price.

Only the blood of Jesus, not the church to which you belong,
His shed blood for yours is required to make you strong,
His blood will take care of the terrible ache in your soul
Only Christ’s spiritual transfusion can make you whole.

Still discomforted with an ache in your sin-sick soul?
Let the blood of Jesus cleanse and make you whole.
Tried every remedy even from the ancient and old?
It’s time to apply the blood of Jesus and enter his fold.

Now I have your attention I am hearing you ask
How to apply the blood of Jesus; is it a difficult task?
Just acknowledge your sin and in penitence come
Via the way of the cross, the path to God’s kingdom.

Confess your sin and your need for the Saviour
Who is able to transform you and change your behavior,
He’ll make you anew and give your life new flavour
And with his Spirit indwelling you’ll be highly favoured.

A new child of God and a resident of His eternal kingdom,
A joint-heir with Christ as God’s daughter or His son,
A renewed vigour for life and a fresh new course to run;
All these are on offer to those who to the Savior come.

Come today!  Come without delay!
Come to Jesus!  Let him have his way,
Come to the Saviour!  No longer stray,
Come, I say, to Jesus, today!

Stewart Russell© 2016

Monday, April 18, 2016

Hell: Not to be Taken Lightly

Image result for images of hell is a choice

In Robert Morey’s book “Death and the After Life” its title
He draws our attention to a “discernible historical cycle”,
Starting with ACKNOWLEDGEMENT the first of seven stages,
It ends with affirmation; it’s been like this through the ages.

In acknowledgement most were clear on the doctrine of hell,
It was then an eternal punishment the Bible clearly did tell,
Sinners were warned to flee the wrath of God to come,
It was either an eternity in hell or forever in God’s kingdom.

But then came those who teach hell is not eternal just temporal,
INDIFFERENCE becomes the next stage in this historic cycle,
Sinners will be raised and judged and then be eternally dead,
No relentless consciousness of punishment, enough said.

God is a God of love; how dare one ascribes such hate to Him
To banish anyone to an eternal hell just for committing sin!
Why, how much sin could a person commit in his short lifetime
To warrant an eternity in a flaming hell with no chance of a lifeline?

This introduces IGNORANCE that sniffs at indifference heels
Since the biblical theme of God’s judgment is being repealed;
Now the people in the pew know not why to believe in hell
For little is said on the subject, apparently no one dares to tell.

Does God’s word really warn of an eternal hell? Of course not!
DOUBT rears up its ugly head and facilitates the devil’s plot,
“An eternal hell what!  Such a loving gracious God would be unkind,
Awhhh man, get that nonsensical folly clean out of your mind.

Think on this: a person who has had a short sixteen-year slice
Was never a bad fellow but had never accepted the Christ,
How could God in His mercy not only cast that youngster out
But commit him to an eternal lake of fire?  That I must doubt!”

The cults quickly advance universalism or annihilationism
Causing many to deny the true doctrine and accept their schisms
So that DENIAL becomes prominent since the orthodox teachers
Have not instructed their people, neither they nor their preachers.

The Universalists propagate, “Don’t worry, everyone will be saved!”
While the Annihilationists present hell not much different from the grave,
So that basically what will happen is the unsaved will be judged
Then punished in hell for a period, from this no need to budge.

At first orthodox theologians are not inclined to treat to the issue
Choosing to believe instead that theirs is still the established view
But then IRRITATION sets in as the opposing pressure begins to mount
And orthodox theologians see the need to put again the biblical account.

There is need for such irritation as we wallow in undue compromise
While accepting heresies that will contribute to our spiritual demise,
Heresies that will dull our spiritual sense and thus cause us to reject
The infallible word of God and the doctrine of hell it clearly projects.

Clearly the Universalists and Annihilationists don’t intend to go away
So AFFIRMATION is needed concerning this serious matter today,
There is dire need to reaffirm the biblical stance once taken on hell
And reach a lost and dying world before its final death knell.

There is a heaven to gain as certain as there is a hell to shun,
There is a common characteristic to both hell and God’s kingdom,
Eternal consciousness will be the fact regarding both destinations:
Eternal torment verses eternal bliss, heaven or hell the only two options.

After affirmation the Christian Church begins to acknowledge again,
Most are comfortable to propagate that hell is eternal conscious pain,
Such ACKNOWLEDGEMENT acknowledges that God is just though merciful
And has provided a way of escape from a horrid hell that is surely eternal.

Acknowledge with me to what God subjected His beloved begotten Son,
View with me his horrible death at Calvary and his tormentors’ fun,
Think with me concerning his resurrection and his subsequent ascension
To prepared a place for every born again believer in His coming kingdom.

God is not willing that any should perish but that all come to repentance,
Hell was not prepared for man but for the devil and his co-dependents,
Then shall Jesus say to them on his left, “Depart from me into everlasting fire!”
But what if some still don’t believe?  Let God be true and every man a liar!

Stewart Russell © 2016

Tuesday, April 12, 2016


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Tick - tock, tick - tock
Hear the ticking clock
Note the moments lost
Count the climbing cost.

God gives to each of us
The time to order focus
First His divine purpose
In Him place our trust.

In order to get it right
Seek God the guiding light
Then life is not a waste
Don’t delay, make haste.

Image result for images for a heartbeat
I will hasten to define
The phenomenon call time
It is really life, you know
God has measured it so.

Time is all we’ve got
God’s purpose is our lot
So let’s be up and doing
His will alone pursuing.

However long our days
We must avoid delays
So prevalent in our way
Most evident in our stay.

Time may be a moment
Or just an ordered event
An opportunity or a chance
Someone’s life to enhance.

It’s not just about me and I
Or when hurt brings a sigh
But all of God’s creation
Should engage our attention.

By now we all should see
Time is not a place to be
But a facility to be used
Not I but let God choose.

Image result for images for a heartbeat
So life is a period of time
Often its clock will chime
Reminding of its brevity
One has entered eternity.

So what do I do with time?
Order now comes into line
For but few are our days
Number them King David says.

 Image result for images for a heartbeat
Solomon, his very first son
Reminds of the following one
A time to live and a time to die
Now that’s a fact none can deny.

Image result for images for death
A necessity we dare not miss
In the order of this analysis
God is first as the order is set
Remember, we tend to forget.

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Order is important do realize
This is the key as we priortise
God first in all that we do
Brings success to me and you.

About order take another clue
Important to me and to you
What’s really needed in this life
Are love and peace, not strife.

Put them high up on the list
To omit them is a critical miss
God made us for one another
To live for His good pleasure.

Order right we won’t go wrong
Marching on bold and strong
Setting focus by the Guiding Light
Aimed at Christ so set our sight.

Image result for images for focus  

Focus makes the difference
In a hit or miss circumstance
In all of life’s endeavours
Focus unearths the treasures.

Time, order and focus, note
Make this your familiar quote
“Redeeming the time is a must
In Christ Jesus I dare to trust”.

God it was that created time
Ordered all that we call mine
By His focus all came to be
By His word all that we see.

Stewart Russell © 2013