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"Journey of Faith"


Chapter 1
Look Up!

By Mary Kay Bonfante

Buried deep in an ocean of trouble,
Hundred fathoms down, or maybe double.
Frightened out of my wits, don't know what's next;
or what of my burdened soul to expect.

I know God sees me down here, with my man;
I know my Lord will do all that He can.
I thought we sank where there was no more air,
but as we sink deeper, we're sending up prayers.

No matter how deep in this hole we fall,
He hears our cries, when Our Savior we call.
Hanging on by our faith to life, we are
in His arms of love, though it seems we're down far.

Lord Jesus, you've got us; we're holding tight,
all through this long day and the darkest night.

Author Notes In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.
1 John 5:3-4 NIV

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
Hebrews 11:1 NIV

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."
John 16:33 NIV

Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.
Hebrews 2:18 NIV

Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest.
Hebrews 3:1 NIV

For the law appoints as high priests men in all their weakness; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever.
Hebrews 7:28 NIV

Let us then approach God's throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
Hebrews 4:16 NIV

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.
Hebrews 9:27-28 NIV

You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.
1 John 4:4 NIV

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.
Hebrews 10:23 NIV

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." So we say with confidence, "The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?"
Hebrews 13:5-6 NIV


Chapter 2
Simon of Cyrene

By Mary Kay Bonfante

Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of violence.

Then they compelled a certain man, Simon a Cyrenian, the father of Alexander and Rufus, as he was coming out of the country and passing by, to bear His cross.

Mark 15:21

Additional background is provided in the Author Notes.

Simon sat beside the fire with his beautiful granddaughter, Penelope. It was early fall, and there was a new chill in the air, but the fragrance of grapes in the vineyard wafted in, like a sweet perfume.

"It's late for you to be awake, the night before your wedding," said Simon.

"Grandpapa, I want to hear, one more time, about the day you met Our Lord Jesus," said Penelope, "And this time, please don't leave anything out."

"Are you sure you want to hear it all?" asked the kind, elderly man.

"Grandpapa! Why do you doubt me?" she asked. "You wouldn't want to hurt my feelings, would you?"

"Never in a million years, my Honey Bee," said Simon.

She smiled her winning smile, white teeth shining against her ruby red lips and olive skin, as her long, black braids brushed the sleeves of her night robe.

"So, tell me, then!" Penelope urged him.

Simon sat back, and gazed into the fire with his deep, brown eyes. The flames in the fire pit reflected against his brown skin, and made his white hair and beard glow in the dark.

"It was a confusing day for me. I had come in from the country, expecting to find your grandmother, your father Rufus and your Uncle Alexander at the usual inn just outside Jerusalem, preparing to come in for the Passover Feast. The innkeeper hadn't seen them, and it had already been a week since they should have arrived. I chastised myself for lingering at the farm, when I should have been more attentive to my family. I should have entrusted everything in Cyrene to the farmhands, and accompanied my dear Helen to Jerusalem.

"I had heard about the perplexing events that were taking place concerning a man named Jesus of Nazareth, and feared that perhaps my family had been caught up in something fanatical -- that's what I thought, at the time.

"So when I saw the large commotion in the heart of Jerusalem, I was afraid that Jesus was somehow involved. There was a tremendous crowd, an awful wailing of women, people shouting in various languages and a general sense of confusion. But I never thought it would come to that--such violence and bloodshed, all focused on one person.

"It was Jesus, all right. When I saw the condition of the poor man, I thought I was going to be sick. I was revolted, when I realized what they were doing to Him."

"Oh, Grandpapa. It must have been terrible for you."

"Not for me, my Sweet Honey Bee. No, it was Jesus who suffered that day. His face was covered in blood, Penelope, my child. His hair was matted with it, and He was carrying a gigantic, rough-hewn, ugly cross. I realized that it was for his own crucifixion. What a cruel instrument of death."

"Now I know you're telling me the whole story, Grandpapa. I am an adult; a woman."

"Yes, Penelope. This is the truth. His white robe had more blood stains than I could count. Where his body showed, it was raw from the lash of a whip, or streaked with dried blood.

"There was a peculiar contrivance on his head; which I later realized to be the infamous 'crown of thorns.' Whoever wove it together must have become bloody and bruised in the process, for it would have been impossible to do so, otherwise. It was wickedly devised, and its thorns had to have come from a godforsaken place in some abandoned, overgrown haunt of jackals.

"I must have looked like a criminal myself, with my large, perspiring, muscular frame standing idle, my mouth open in horror, my dark face ashen with fear. Maybe I appeared guilty.

"Suddenly one of the Roman centurions yelled harshly, 'You! Foreigner! Come over here and help the King of the Jews to carry his cross!'

"I stood rooted to my spot, in disbelief.

"'Do I have to drag you over here, you good-for-nothing swine?'

"I came running over, got behind Jesus, and picked up the back half of the cross. He was still stumbling so badly, that one of the centurions grabbed him roughly, and shunted him aside, allowing me to move forward, bearing the full weight of the cross on my broad shoulders. I'm still ashamed to admit it now, but I was loath to grab the cross with my bare hands, because it, too, was already stained with blood, and there was no way I would escape from this ordeal without getting the blood of Jesus on me, too. But this proved to be a blessing ... even as He struggled there on His road of suffering, the blood of Jesus had a power, like no other force on earth.

"Grandpapa," interrupted Penelope, "We all have the blood of Jesus on our hands, do we not?"

"Why yes, my Sweet Honey Bee, you speak the truth. 'We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.' (Isaiah 53:6 NIV)

"Yet there is a difference between our blood guilt, which put Jesus on the cross, and the blood applied, which takes effect for our forgiveness, when we acknowledge and confess the guilt of our sin. His sacrifice, as both the Perfect Lamb and our High Priest forever, sets us free from our penalty, our guilt and our enslavement to sin. As the Apostle John quoted Jesus, 'So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.' (John 8:36 NIV)

"Okay, Grandpapa, my Nonno, please go on with the story."

"Of course, dear Penelope... Jesus was so weakened, He had fallen to the ground from the centurion's push, and I instinctively wanted to help Him up, but couldn't, while carrying the cross. Jesus looked up at me, as if He knew I wanted to help. We walked side by side, briefly.

"The cross dug into me, especially the weight of that center beam. Somehow, I could actually feel the blood on the cross with my hands and my face, as I pressed close against it, as though it were an energizing force, empowering me forward. The cross grew lighter, instead of heavier.

"Jesus looked me right in the eyes. 'Simon, your sins are forgiven.'

"I knew, from that moment, that I was a changed man. I didn't really know much about Jesus, but I knew He changed my heart, and that I was in the Presence of the Almighty. But why were we still in this gruesome parade of death?

"He was not in any position to do much explaining or preaching, on that agonizing road to Calvary. He just looked at me again and said, 'Your family is safe, and staying with your wife's cousin Abigail.'

"One of the Roman soldiers barked, 'No talking!' He cracked the whip at Jesus, without compassion, adding, 'Would you even make converts on the way to your execution?'

"'Who is this man?' I asked myself, as I carried His cross down that fateful road, but inside my heart, I knew."

"Yes, Carissimo Nonno, Grandpapa, He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords! I will always believe in Him, unto death, and so will Marcus, my beloved fiance. We will pledge our love before Him tomorrow, in the presence of everyone we know."

"I know you will, my beloved Penelope."

"So how does it end, Grandpapa? As you remember it?"

"At some point, Jesus turned around, and looked at me in love, and even gratitude--I, an ordinary man! My heart swelled, because of the honor bestowed upon me, that I, a lowly farmer, should bear the cross behind Jesus. Of course, I didn't fully know the meaning and implications of what He was doing for us. At the same time, I was filled with pity and compassion for this powerful and amazing man, far beyond the capacity of us mortals, yet somehow limited, in this moment, to act on His own behalf. What was really going on here?

"Later I learned the words of John the Baptist, 'Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world!' (John 1:29)

"Indeed, as it says in the Holy Scriptures, 'He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.' (Isaiah 53:7 NIV)

"Penelope, that's exactly the way it happened. And so we made our way to Golgotha, that horrible, ghastly place, outside Jerusalem--but yet, it was the place where my life and your life were redeemed by the blood of Jesus, that innocent Lamb of God!

"We came to the end of the road, and when we arrived, the Roman soldiers had no more use for me. 'Set the cross down on that hill!' commanded the centurion.

"With one final effort, I bore the cross of Jesus up the hill, and set it down. I gazed lovingly at this man who was sentenced to an excruciating death--Jesus, the One who had just freed me from sin, and set my life on a new course, from which there was no turning back. He gazed back at me one last time, through all the blood and pain, with more love than I ever thought existed in the whole universe.

"Suddenly one of the centurions grabbed my shoulder and gruffly commanded me, 'Get lost now! What's the matter? Did you want money?'

"'No, no, Sir -- no money,' I answered.

"'What did he do to him?' asked one of the other soldiers.

"'Just get rid of him,' said the first man.

"So I left quickly, and watched from a distance, with some other people, who turned out to be the disciples of Jesus. Thus began a long journey of faith for our family, and we have acquired many brothers and sisters along the way," concluded Simon.

"My beloved Marcus is one of them, and we take a new step of faith together, tomorrow," said his granddaughter. 

"I will be by your side, dear Penelope, with your precious parents."

Penelope threw her arms around her grandfather Simon, and was careful not to knock him down, in her enthusiasm.

"I'll see you in the morning, Grandpapa."

"May Our Lord watch over you now and forever, my Honey Bee."
 

Author Notes For the full context of Mark 15:13, it's best to read Mark 15:1-41, which contains a substantial portion of the Passion of Jesus Christ (an account of his suffering and death).

MARK 15:1-41

1 Immediately, in the morning, the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council; and they bound Jesus, led Him away, and delivered Him to Pilate.
2 Then Pilate asked Him, "Are You the King of the Jews"? He answered and said to him, "It is as you say."
3 And the chief priests accused Him of many things, but He answered nothing.
4 Then Pilate asked Him again, saying, "Do You answer nothing? See how many things they testify against You!"
5 But Jesus still answered nothing, so that Pilate marveled.

6 Now at the feast he was accustomed to releasing one prisoner to them, whomever they requested.
7 And there was one named Barabbas, who was chained with his fellow rebels; they had committed murder in the rebellion.
8 Then the multitude, crying aloud, began to ask him to do just as he had always done for them.
9 But Pilate answered them, saying, "Do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?"
10 For he knew that the chief priests had handed Him over because of envy.

11 But the chief priests stirred up the crowd, so that he should rather release Barabbas to them.
12 Pilate answered and said to them again, "What then do you want me to do with Him whom you call the King of the Jews?"

13 So they cried out again, "Crucify Him!"

14 Then Pilate said to them, "Why, what evil has He done?" But they cried out all the more, "Crucify Him!"

15 So Pilate, wanting to gratify the crowd, released Barabbas to them; and he delivered Jesus, after he had scourged Him, to be crucified.

16 Then the soldiers led Him away into the hall called Praetorium, and they called together the whole garrison.
17 And they clothed Him with purple; and they twisted a crown of thorns, put it on His head,
18 and began to salute Him, "Hail, King of the Jews!"
19 Then they struck Him on the head with a reed and spat on Him; and bowing the knee, they worshiped Him.
20 And when they had mocked Him, they took the purple off Him, put His own clothes on Him, and led Him out to crucify Him.

21 Then they compelled a certain man, Simon a Cyrenian, the father of Alexander and Rufus, as he was coming out of the country and passing by, to bear His cross.
22 And they brought Him to the place Golgotha, which is translated, Place of a Skull.
23 Then they gave Him wine mingled with myrrh to drink, but He did not take it.
24 And when they crucified Him, they divided His garments, casting lots for them to determine what every man should take.

25 Now it was the third hour, and they crucified Him.
26 And the inscription of His accusation was written above:
THE KING OF THE JEWS.

27 With Him they also crucified two robbers, one on His right and the other on His left.
28 So the Scripture was fulfilled which says, "And He was numbered with the transgressors."

29 And those who passed by blasphemed Him, wagging their heads and saying, "Aha! You who destroy the temple and build it in three days,
30 save Yourself, and come down from the cross!"

31 Likewise the chief priests also, mocking among themselves with the scribes, said, "He saved others; Himself He cannot save.
32 Let the Christ, the King of Israel, descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe." Even those who were crucified with Him reviled Him.

33 Now when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour.
34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?" which is translated, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?"

35 Some of those who stood by, when they heard that, said, "Look, He is calling for Elijah!"
36 Then someone ran and filled a sponge full of sour wine, put it on a reed, and offered it to Him to drink, saying, "Let Him alone; let us see if Elijah will come to take Him down."

37 And Jesus cried out with a loud voice, and breathed His last.

38 Then the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.
39 So when the centurion, who stood opposite Him, saw that He cried out like this and breathed His last, he said, "Truly this Man was the Son of God!"

40 There were also women looking on from afar, among whom were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the Less and of Joses, and Salome,
41 who also followed Him and ministered to Him when He was in Galilee, and many other women who came up with Him to Jerusalem.
Mark 15:1-41 NKJV

Centuries later, probably when the Roman Catholic Church was involved, the path believed to have been taken by Christ through Jerusalem was named the "Via Dolorosa."

Here is the beautiful song, La Via Dolorosa, performed by Sandi Patti:


MORE BACKGROUND AND INSIGHT

Before continuing on to the rest of the background, I would like to call the reader's attention to the joyful fact that these horrendous hours in the history of the world were not the end of the story. Three days later, Jesus was resurrected from the dead, and the story is found in all four Gospels, with plentiful references to this joyous event throughout the remainder of the New Testament. We believe His return (Second Coming) is close at hand.

Now on to the background of Simon the Cyrene, and the events of that day...

Simon the Cyrene, or Cyrenian, is mentioned in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, but the most substantial reference is in the Gospel of Mark, as cited above, where it states that Simon is also the father of Alexander and Rufus. Cyrene is said to have been located in Libya.

Then Rufus is mentioned in Paul's Letter to the Romans; and if that's the same Rufus, it places him in Rome:

"Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother, who has been a mother to me, too."
Romans 16:13 NIV

Simon the Cyrene, according to some sources, was said to be martyred in the year 100 A.D., and was made a Saint in the Eastern Orthodox Church.

Other than Jesus of Nazareth, Simon the Cyrene, the centurions, and Simon's children Rufus and Alexander and Alexander's mother (presumably, Simon's wife, who is not named), the other characters in this story are fictional. The story revolves around the true events in the Gospels, but fictional details have been added for storytelling effect, and the circumstances where Simon tells the story to his granddaughter are entirely fictional.

The entire purpose of this scenario is to bring to life the encounter between Simon of Cyrene and Jesus Christ, and to imagine what that experience might have been like; as well as to remind the reader of the Passion of Jesus Christ, the details of which have been truthfully depicted, except for conversations with or pertaining to Simon, which are not recorded in the Bible.


Chapter 3
Two Places for Rent

By Mary Kay Bonfante

Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of violence.

Dwelling No. 1

666 Lake of Fire

Gehenna, Abaddon

The price for this apartment is not really too high: your soul. It is very likely that you have already paid for it, because we have all been sold into sin,* unless you have been redeemed (see ad for Dwelling No. 2). There is no eat-in kitchen, but a fire is burning continually. You will have guilt, remorse and regrets. There is no access to God the Father, the Son or the Holy Spirit.

There's continual heating; off the charts. There is no air conditioning or running water. It's in a very crowded part of the cosmos. Your roommates will be the devil, all his demons and countless other tormented souls. The screams are deafening. It's not close to any transportation whatsoever, and there is no means of egress.
 

Dwelling No. 2

777 New Jerusalem Avenue

City of the Lamb, Kingdom of God

The price for this dwelling is very high: the Blood of Jesus Christ. However, the terms are simple: accept that the price has been paid, and enter into an eternal relationship with Him now.** This price has been paid for your redemption, and will render null and void your payment for Dwelling No. 1 (see above).

Dwelling size varies according to the works accomplished for Jesus Christ during the applicant's lifetime, ranging from small and comfortable, to a spacious mansion. You will also have a new, healthy body! There's plenty of light. Many brethren and angels will be your neighbors; their music will be awesome. You'll have full-time access to God and to Jesus Christ.

A river of living water will be lined by trees bearing fruit, year-round. Peace is guaranteed. You can eat fruit from the Tree of Life. Love abounds. Many open dwellings await you! 

Author Notes *for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood--to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished--he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.
Romans 3:23-26 NIV

**For he says, "In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you." I tell you, now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation.
2 Corinthians 6:2 NIV

I give all glory, honor, praise and thanks for the writing in this post to God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, without whom I couldn't write a thing.

Many thanks for the artwork used for this post, courtesy of lynnkah, from FanArt, titled, "By his stripes we are healed."
Several favorable remarks by reviewers about the above artwork were included in the reviews of this post, and I am very grateful to the artist.

These three ladies do a marvelous job, telling the story of our redemption, through worship music:
"Agnes Dei/ King of Kings" at the Grove, featuring Brooke Ligertwood, Jenn Johnson, & Chidima Ubah 6:30


Chapter 4
His Blood Alone

By Mary Kay Bonfante

Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of violence.

When Jesus graced my thirsting life,
He came with sweet truth, shining bright;
no matter trouble, grief or strife,
I've never walked without His light.

No
twist or turn has kept me from
His promises, sealed in His Word;
He said, all you who labor, "Come!"
And deep within, my spirit stirred.

When
fears or doubts arise within,
or troubles swirl on stormy seas;
else battlefields tempt me to sin,
I turn to Christ, the Prince of Peace.

His
Blood alone gives me the grace,
someday to rise, and see His face.

Author Notes I want to thank my Lord Jesus for His forgiveness and His grace, and for all He did for me on Calvary! And for giving me the ability to write this poem, these Notes and everything else, I give glory, honor and praise to God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen!

Thank you to the artist jesuel on FanArt for the artwork, "Jesus looking up."

There are many prophecies in the Old Testament of the Bible, which found their fulfillment in the New Testament, particularly in the life of Jesus Christ. In particular, many people believe this to be true about the 53rd chapter of the Book of Isaiah, a prophet who lived in Israel seven centuries before the birth of Christ. How many similarities can you find between the words of this chapter, and the life of Jesus Christ, as it is written in the Gospels?

When I look at how disfigured He became as a result of the torture inflicted by the authorities in command at the time, and read the second part of verse 2, as well as verses 3-5, I find it truly remarkable; it is also reflected in the artist's interpretation, above.

And He endured it all for me and you.

1 Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.
4 Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.
6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.
8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away. Yet who of his generation protested? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was punished.
9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth.
10 Yet it was the Lord's will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the Lord makes his life an offering for sin, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.
11 After he has suffered, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
Isaiah 53:1-12 NIV

Verses of additional comfort and reassurance:

4 I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears.
5 Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces.
6 In my desperation I prayed, and the Lord listened; he saved me from all my troubles.
7 For the angel of the Lord is a guard; he surrounds and defends all who fear him.
19 The righteous person faces many troubles, but the Lord comes to the rescue each time.
22 But the Lord will redeem those who serve him. No one who takes refuge in him will be condemned.
Psalms 34: 4-7, 19, 22 NLT


Chapter 5
Sweet, Faithful Love

By Mary Kay Bonfante


You dazzled me

with forever love.

Author Notes My husband's admiration and love never waned, over a 17-year period, while I kept him at arm's length, sometimes as a sweetheart, mostly as a friend; then, when I finally consented to marry him, he was shocked. We were married after the better part of two more years, and had a spectacular wedding. We've now been married for 17 years ...

We're no longer young, but we knew each other when we were; what great memories we have! We have "forever" love, because God's everlasting love lives in our hearts. To God be the glory!

"He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord."
Proverbs 18:22 NIV
I think the same is true for finding a husband, but this should be understood in the context of this verse:
"A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies."
Proverbs 31:10 NIV
I always want to be this kind of a wife for my husband, because there's another kind of wife:
"It's better to live alone in the desert than with a quarrelsome, complaining wife."
Proverbs 21:19 NLT
Also:
"A quarrelsome wife is like the dripping of a leaky roof in a rainstorm;"
Proverbs 27:15 NIV
I don't want to be a nag, and I'm not just horsing around.

"9 Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor:
10 If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.
11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone?
12 Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken."
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 NIV

These verses are often quoted in marriage ceremonies. The three strands referred to in verse 12 are understood to indicate the husband, the wife and God. In a Christian marriage (and probably in many faiths), God is considered the true head of the marriage. I have seen it represented by ministers as a triangle, which lends the marriage stability as it stands on its base: the upper point is God, and the two lower points are the husband and wife.

These are all Old Testament references. The New Testament also has excellent references to marriage, and to love, generally, but I won't include them, for brevity's sake. We are all to love one another, and by remembering this in our marriage, we can't go wrong.

I know ... a six word poem, and so many notes about it! I never said I was a QUIET wife.


Chapter 6
A Born-Again Birthday Request

By Mary Kay Bonfante

Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of violence.

~

Today is my born-again birthday;
I received Jesus Christ as my Savior.*
It wasn't my achievement or efforts,
but God, who showed me favor.

But to remember this favorable day,
please let me direct your attention,
to the plight of seventeen hostages,
that God shows them His best intentions.

On a humanitarian mission,
in Haiti, where few dare to go,
brave missionaries went to do God's work,
with their young ones held, or in tow.**

Yes, with five children among them,
they went to orphans, with cheer,
but then their tour bus was stopped on the road,
by a dangerous gang people fear.

Kidnapped! This gang wants money;
a million dollars for each soul.
Sixteen Americans and one Canadian;
seventeen million demanded, all told.

Now the FBI has become involved,
many people pray for release;
of seventeen -- men, women and children.
Oh Lord, in Your mercy, please!

Would you kindly, for my special day,
add your loving prayers to mine?
Please ask Our Lord to keep them safe,
that they would be set free, and fine.

Please pray that God would comfort them now,
and their young ones especially,
and give their families, at home, peace and strength,
until they are safely set free.

Author Notes Many thanks to Cindy Sue Truman on FanArtReview.com for the artwork, "Ye of Little Faith."

Praise God Almighty -- the Father, Son and Holy Spirit-- for His help in writing and presenting this to you! And I thank Him for my life in Christ.

* On October 19, 1983, I prayed to accept Jesus Christ as my personal Savior -- 38 years ago. This makes me 38 years old, in my faith. (That's younger than my chronological age ;-)

** https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.cnn.com/cnn/2021/10/19/americas/haiti-kidnap-missionaries-gang-ransom-intl/index.html

Here is a beautiful and very touching song, Is He Worthy, performed by the West Coast Choir:


Bible verses about the born-again life, for anyone who's interested:

If you declare with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.
Romans 10:9-10 NIV

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17 (Thanks, Kimbob/ Father Flaps! :-)

Jesus answered, "Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit.
John 3:5 NIV (see John 3:1-8)

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--not by works, so that no one can boast.
Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith--of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire--may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
1 Peter 1:3-7 NIV (see also verses 8-12)


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