Thursday, August 27, 2009

Praying For The Persecuted-Part I of II

You will all notice that I have a new web link under "LINKS TO LIVE BY" which is 'VOM' or Voice of the Martyrs.

Please visit this site often, and remember to pray for the persecuted saints the globe over.

Being isolated as we are here in America, we Christians aren't fully aware most of the time, of how our brethren across the globe are suffering terribly at the hands of their persecutors.

What we must appreciate is that MOST of the church, in MOST of the nations of the world, during MOST of the history of the church has suffered terrible persecution!

From the Sanhedrin during the days of the apostles, using Saul of Tarsus (Paul the apostle before his conversion [when the LORD was ascended into heaven]), to the time of the ten Caesars that cruelly afflicted the saints, most especially under Nero, to the various Inquisitions and Persecutions by various Popes who utilized the Jesuits to rein in the wayward who left the Roman Catholic church by the scores, to the days in which Communist regimes, and Islamic states caused and still causing untold suffering and persecution to the body of Christ.

Persecution is rampant in today's world, and yet how many of us (myself included) are aware of what's happening to our brethren in other nations, and the cities that are under assault there?

Look at this article posted by The Berean Call (from Frontpagemag):

Being informed of such conditions that the church is suffering elsewhere is the first step in providing much needed aid to these saints; I am referring to intercessory prayer.

Prayer that they will stand fast in the faith for Christ Jesus; that the LORD God will provide grace for them in their suffering. That the LORD would make a way to deliver them from such, in His time.

The LORD may even motivate some of us to write letters petitioning various governments to show leniency and mercy towards our family in Christ.

Persecution has never been an enemy of the church, whereas materialism and affluence usually has. Prosperity breeds complacency, and as these enters our lives, we become introspective and self-interested. We tend to lose our sharp focus on seeking "first the kingdom of God and His righteousness."

Persecution has a way of separating the tares from the wheat, the sheep from the goats, or as its said often in the world, "the men from the boys". It has a purifying effect on the church as we suddenly lose interest in worldly matters; and Christ Jesus, the Head of the church, gains our undivided attention.

By God's grace and His Spirit the persecuted find themselves endowed with Holy boldness to proclaim even to the threat of death, the life giving power of the Gospel.

Did you know that the greek word from which we get the word 'martyr' from is 'martos'? What does 'martos' mean? It means "witness"! Think about this: in the days of the early church, to be a faithful witness, to become a Christian and a genuine follower of Christ meant pain, suffering, isolation, imprisonment, blood, and often death.

There were no saw dust trails where people came forward at a revival meeting; there were no calls for "every eye closed and every head bowed" while those who were beckoned to come to Christ could do so without too much notice.

In those days, as well as the present days of (Communist) Russia, Communist China, and North Korea, and most Muslim nations today, those who are Christian are imperiled as much as the early church was.

I have an album called Hymns Triumphant, and one such hymn has grave lyrics that are very powerful; one line goes something like this:

"By the light of burning martyrs, Christ, Thy bleeding feet we track."

Christian, the question I ask of you, is one that I ask myself: are we prepared to offer up our entire lives in total surrender to the will of God? Even if it means hardships? Pain? Suffering? Ridicule, mockery and abuse?

You might say, "But we live here in America! What chance is there that we will experience such things here?"

Given the present climate of our nation, and the direction of the trends that are observable to those who are watching, such experiences and events may be sooner than we would care to admit.

In the meanwhile, may I encourage you all to visit the Voice of the Martyrs web site, to subscribe to their magazine, even make a financial contribution if the LORD lays it on your heart, which will go towards the ministering of our hurting, suffering brothers and sisters in CHRIST the world over. MOST of all, let us remember to pray for them!

MORE on this issue of persecution in part two of this article.

Matt 5:11
Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.

Matt 5:44
But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

John 15:20
Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept My saying, they will keep yours also.

Friday, August 14, 2009

A Different Sermon On Another 'Mount'

This is an article very much in the spirit of exhortation of a previous one entitled Faith Over Fear; I hope and pray that this will exhort and encourage you as it has me.

[UPDATE (June 18, '12): Please be sure to listen to this inspirational, encouraging rendition of "He'll Raise Me Up" by an astounding Lithuanian 14 yr old boy; I can guarentee you have never heard it sung like this before! Link to this song can be found at the bottom of this article; you can also watch this under "LINKS to LIVE By" Side bar column: look for "He'll Raise Me Up"

We all know the Sermon on the Mount; we've heard teachings on it ever since we became Christians and even before then.

Here we have a different sermon on the 'mount' and very few words were actually spoken by our LORD in this particular teaching. Am I referring to some 'lost gospel' of Jesus, and of writings only recently discovered by biblical archaeologists?

Rest assured, I am not. We have all read this account before, and as you can guess by the picture I chose for this article, we will be looking at the crossings of the Sea of Galilee.

First of all, let's get a reading of this incredible event:

LUKE 8:22-35 
Now it came to pass on a certain day, that he went into a ship with his disciples: and he said unto them, Let us go over unto the other side of the lake. And they launched forth.

"on a certain day . . ." It was on a day appointed: immediately after this event which is about to occur, we find the demoniac at Gadara is delivered by the LORD Jesus. Likewise the time of our deliverance from this world, and its god (2 COR 4:4
is on a day appointed. On that blessed day, nothing in heaven or earth, or hell for that matter will be able to interfere or prevent God from physically delivering His people from both of these. This time saints is at hand, so be encouraged by this truth!

The LORD Jesus said: "Let us go over to the other side of the lake." The disciples (four of which were accomplished fishermen, intimately acquainted with the fits of temperament and weather patterns of the sea of Galilee) mentioned nothing of any noticeably approaching storm. Had they detected any such impending storm, surely they would have mentioned it. Life is like this; we often are unaware of what's about to blindside us, but its best to remember that while we are often taken by surprise, our LORD never is, and He has made every necessary provision for such inevitable eventualities.

"And they launched forth." MARK 4:36 mentions that other little boats accompanied the disciples and the LORD on this venture. We often picture the disciples with their singular boat struggling on Galilee, but there was in fact an entire fleet out there!

Life is about launchings; like that motivational poster we've all seen on corporate walls: "Life is a journey, not a destination." The boat does no good resting at the shore, or as Elizabeth Elliot was always fond of saying, "a parked car is hard to steer." Likewise we must also be about our Father's business, we are His vessels to be directed as He wills, where ever that may lead us - either to a sea of tranquility or tumult.

vs. 23-But as they sailed he fell asleep: and there came down a storm of wind on the lake; and they were filled with water, and were in jeopardy.

Jesus falls asleep, and then the storm hits! With the disciples in apparent danger, the LORD is asleep? Have you ever felt like the LORD was asleep during your most crucial time of needed help in severe trial? Is God 'asleep on the job'?

We may be in distress and doubt, not knowing what's to become of us, but God is not dismayed, because all things are under His control, either directly or indirectly. Even Satan at his worst and most ruinous self, is under God's watchful eye, and as with Job, He allows the adversary certain liberties, but He also draws a forbidding line that he can't cross!
In the midst of the storm, there is our LORD, asleep, at peace, unperturbed. He is LORD of all, as familiar with the future as He is with the present and the past. We are not omniscient however, we don't know "all things" and we don't know what the future holds, but we do know who holds the future!

It reminds me of Shakespeare's play, Hamlet when his uncle, the treacherous brother of the now dead King, who stole the crown through subterfuge and murder, and busily plots his own nephew's demise, cryptically asks him, "Do you see my purpose, cousin?"
To which Hamlet replies cheerfully, "I see it not; but I see the cherub that sees it!"

The LORD sees every aspect of our lives, He sees it all, and knows every turn and unforeseeable road we will travel. We can rest peacefully in the Everlasting arms, if we will only keep our eyes upon and trust the Trustworthy Shepherd with Whom we have to do.

vs. 24 - And they came to him, and awoke him, saying, Master, master, we perish. Then he arose, and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water: and they ceased, and there was a calm

The disciples are firmly convinced in their belief: "we perish!" Yet at the least they had enough presence of mind to approach the One Person who could affect any change. I myself am guilty of approaching other sources when trouble and trial pounce on me: a bank account, a doctors visit, a pharmacy, a phone call to a friend, my own resolve and determination to roll up my sleeves and 'fix it' myself.

I sometimes wonder if we deprive our precious LORD of some awesome opportunities when we resort to fixing problems in the natural, instead of first praying and seeking God for a solution. This is not to say that other resources are invalid or inappropriate, not at all; what is inappropriate I think, is when we look to these other sources of help without first 'checking in with Headquarters' to see what our Captain would have us do.

God isn't against doctors for example, He uses them often. They should by no means however be depended on as equally as the LORD Himself. Such is the case with all other resources at our disposal.

In the midst of our trials, are we hasty in our assessment of the situation? We may believe we are perishing, and the enormity of the trial may be such that we are fully persuaded of this belief. The assessment of those four (possibly more) fisherman on that boat, for all their education, training, experience, and abilities was "we perish!".

The vessel was full of water! They reached the point of no return. The situation was unsolvable. Have you ever experienced this? I have. I know that I will experience this again, and again in this life; we mortal creatures in this world of sin are prone to the painful experience of loss in all it's distasteful varieties. Yet in these times, we may taste and see that the LORD is good; so good that the bitter experience can be turned sweet in Him, and in the wondrous work of the cross in our lives. Here is what's known as "the fellowship of His sufferings (I will be doing an article in the future about this amazing privilege we as Christians may partake of)."

vs. 24 con't. - "Then He arose . . ." Once God arises to the occasion, all other considerations, no matter how daunting, no matter how dire, can be confidently disregarded! No matter how hopelessness and failure may assail our senses and attempt to persuade us of our imminent perdition; no matter how many enemies, that would overtake our souls, are gathered against us, when weighed in the balances against God rising up to deal with them, they're utterly insignificant and carry no weight.

Indeed . . .

PSALM 68:1-4
Let God arise, let his enemies be scattered: let them also that hate him flee before him. As smoke is driven away, so drive them away: as wax melteth before the fire, so let the wicked perish at the presence of God. But let the righteous be glad; let them rejoice before God: yea, let them exceedingly rejoice. Sing unto God, sing praises to his name: extol him that rideth upon the heavens by his name JAH, and rejoice before him.

Note - The LORD rebukes the storm; He doesn't merely command it to cease, He rebukes. The word in the Greek is used for a wide variety of applications of rebuke: demons, winds, fevers, disciples, etc. In this instance, is it possible that the storm had satanic inspiration? Perhaps the great enemy realized where the LORD was heading (into Gadarea) where one he had possessed resided, and as he is loathe to lose any soul, he vainly attempted to stifle any such salvation.

LUKE 8:25
And he said unto them, Where is your faith? And they being afraid wondered, saying one to another, What manner of man is this! for he commandeth even the winds and water, and they obey him.

"Where is your faith?" the LORD Jesus asks them. In considering the situation, had the disciples exercised their faith, could they have stilled the storm? If that had been the case, it would have revealed an intimate knowledge and implicit trust in the LORD, and the realization that by faith such storms could be silenced. Yet they don't possess such depth of knowledge or trust of this Man, not yet; for they say themselves "what manner of man is this!"

At the very least, if they couldn't have faith enough to still the storm themselves in Christ's Name (as some would find fault in the disciples for such a thing), they might have exhibited faith in Him for who He is. And what manner of Man is this?

This is the God-man! Of whom it is said:

JOB 9:4-10
He is wise in heart, and mighty in strength: who hath hardened himself against him, and hath prospered? Which removeth the mountains, and they know not: which overturneth them in his anger. Which shaketh the earth out of her place, and the pillars thereof tremble. Which commandeth the sun, and it riseth not; and sealeth up the stars. Which alone spreadeth out the heavens, and treadeth upon the waves of the sea. Which maketh Arcturus, Orion, and Pleiades, and the chambers of the south. Which doeth great things past finding out; yea, and wonders without number.

And . . .

PSALM 29:1-4
Give unto the LORD, O ye mighty, give unto the LORD glory and strength. Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness. The voice of the LORD is upon the waters: the God of glory thundereth: the LORD is upon many waters. The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is full of majesty

The lesson here learned was necessary for the disciples, and prepared them for a deeper lesson and teaching from a different sermon, a sermon of few words, on the mount of cresting, mountainous waves of another tumultuous storm!

MATT 14:22-33 

And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away.

vs. 22 - This time the LORD sends His disciples on ahead while he disperses the multitude that He had just miraculously fed; He is not with them now, but sent them by command to "go to the other side."

vs. 23 - The LORD goes up to a mountain to pray. We aren't told what He prayed about, but as our faithful Intercessor, it wouldn't be unreasonable to assume that they, His disciples, were the subjects of His prayers.

Likewise, the LORD is no longer with us, physically, yet He declared that  

Hebrews 13:5
I will never leave nor forsake you.
Of His High priestly ministry it is said 

Hebrews 7:25
He ever liveth to make intercession for us.

The LORD doesn't resort to a valley or a grove, nor to a river bank or the shore of Galilee to pray; nor does He climb a mere hill, but a mountain. In this exalted position our humble King deigns to pray for His disciples who He can see, but He himself is not seen by them. So it is with us today; no storm can obscure His view of us!

vs. 24 - The disciples came to the midst of the sea and found themselves in turmoil once again, fighting a raging storm. John's Gospel states that they had up to this point rowed tenaciously for 25 - 30 furlongs! They persevered doggedly and were encouraged by past experiences that taught them not to despair, but to maintain their hope in the faithfulness of God. Such are the benefits of our tutors: the trials our Father lovingly administers to us/

1 PETER 1:6-8
Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see Him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:

Also: 1 PETER 4:12-13

ROM 5:1
Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed (does not disappoint); because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.

Paul knew what he was talking about: he suffered storms and ship wrecks himself!

In all our trials and tribulations, our problems are opportunities to answer God's question of us: "Do you trust Me?" How far does our trust go? He desires us to trust Him with absolute abandon and loves us enough to walk us through to that place of peace and joy. So, step by loving step, He draws us into ever deepening water, just as He did with these disciples. Let's us proceed . . .

Often in scripture "the seas" are a type of the world, that is, the gentile nations, as opposed to Israel, which is typified as "the land". While Galilee is actually a lake, rather than a sea, the principle still applies here in this illustration.

Isaiah himself speaks of the nations as the seas:

ISAIAH 17:12-13
Woe to the multitude of many people, which make a noise like the noise of the seas; and to the rushing of nations, that make a rushing like the rushing of mighty waters! The nations shall rush like the rushing of many waters: but God shall rebuke them, and they shall flee far off, and shall be chased as the chaff of the mountains before the wind, and like a rolling thing before the whirlwind.

Interesting that God here is presented as One who rebukes the nations "which make a noise like the seas" and "they flee off."

Also -

ISAIAH 57:20-21
But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.

The sea is a perfect picture of the nature of humanity; both are fickle, unstable, lacking in solidity (one physically, the other morally). From a placid surface that can appear eternally blissful, a chaotic storm can erupt that creates an ever changing topography of terror. Nothing is so terrifying as what meteorologists call 'the perfect storm' that is, conditions created when two or more storm systems collide and cause a such a frenzy that, for those caught in it, would seem to emulate the fury of hell itself, but in the element of water rather than fire.

As we look over the world scene today, we see the storms rising, building, and approaching; even now, we feel the precipitous winds of adversity picking up with force: harbingers of disaster.

These 'systems' are nearing the point of collision, with the inhabitants of the world caught in the middle! Storms of erratic economic uncertainty, political turmoil, upheavals in wars and rumors of such, mounting waves the size of looming mountains seem poised to crash all around us; much of this 'weather' appears to be contrived by the power elite, forces of fallen men (and fallen angels) in this world-system, this new world order as it were, governed by Satan.

Then there are the storms of a more personal nature: storms of financial pressures, and debt, even bankruptcy; dreaded hurricanes that assail our health with threat of life and limb; cyclones of besetting sins and addictions, strong holds all; gales of gloomy forecasts and of a forboding future!

vs. 25 - And yet, here is our precious Savior! How glorious is a Savior when one finds oneself in the midst of such calamities! Behold Him, as He walks victoriously, as the Overcomer of the world, marching in a wordless walk that speaks volumes to us! And as He does speak, those few words carry incredible weight:
"Be not afraid, it is I, be of good cheer!" And He says again:

JOHN 16:33
These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

He has trod upon the raging seas, and is LORD over it; He it is that steers the events of our lives as certainly as He does the affairs of this stormy world!

In DANIEL 7, in the first three verses, the prophet witnesses a storm himself - the winds and the sea in turmoil and then he observes four beasts rising up out of it. We learn that these are four world empires, rising up out of the world system of the gentile nations, who regard gods of their own making, made after their own image and do not acknowledge the God of heaven.

These four world empires speak of power, and domination, oppression and tyranny, rather than of liberty and love, peace and justice, these latter attributes characterize a FIFTH world empire under the leadership of the KING of Kings, and LORD of Lords, Jesus Christ, the Word Incarnate!

On a side note: It's interesting to observe that when man rejects God in order to enthrone himself as an autonomous deity, he actually becomes less than what God intended in His creation of our once noble father, Adam, endowed with goodness and virtue.

Yet in the mind of fallen man, he is a god: self-interested, self-invested, self-esteemed, self-glorified; truly a selfish being with little or no compassion and empathy towards his fellow man. He disdains those whom he deems as lower than himself intellectually, financially, socially, etc. Friendship is based on those whom he can benefit by resulting in self advancement.

Indeed a devolution from man to self-appointed god, inevitably to a selfish, ego-enthroned monster who devours all, and yet is never full!

Such are the characteristics of these world empires from God's point of view, these brute beasts of power, and none more so than the fourth beast, a great and terrible beast, which prophetically speaking is coalescing all about us, even as you read this article. The proponents of this empire, these monsters or 'goblins' as I call them (read that, global socialists) are all jockeying into position to obtain supreme leadership in the very empire they are striving to build, with the same zeal as the builders of the Tower of Babel!

These double and triple digit billionaires, and these trillionaires are truly a pathetic, pitiable lot, who strive and contend and pour their lives out in order to obtain their own fiefdoms of power. However, what shall a man give in exchange for his own soul, and what will it profit him if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul?

Little do they know that at the height of power, in the midst of these various tumults and storms, this world empire wll have a life expectancy of a mere seven years!

Yet over all of this, our LORD rides the crests of catastrophic, apocalyptic reign of ruin; He is above it all. Yet He cares for the lowly, the orphan, the widow, the weak. Read throughout the Psalms and you witness how mightily God stands against the proud, and uplifts the humble.

The dual delusions of deicide (the killing of God) and of self-deification will come to a climatic, shattering, and abrupt ending when the LORD appears to take back this world which He purchased with His own blood. While goblins seek sacrifice from others whose blood they will freely spill for their own benefit, our LORD and KING willingly sacrificed Himself and shed His own blood for our good!

For your edification, may I encourage you to read:

PSALM 2:1-12 and PSALM 9:1-20

On that day He will be glorified, He shall reign overtly that which He has presided over from heaven since the dawn of creation; He shall establish His reign on the Earth, removing every trace of rebellion from His grand eternal Kingdom!

Until that blessed day, whatever we are suffering in our personal or national storms, whatever instability and darkness we may be enduring and may yet endure, let us turn, and keep our eyes on JESUS the LORD, just as Peter did when he began to walk on the water.

The LORD identified Himself when the disciples thought He was a ghost. It must have been some storm to have obscurred Him so from their clear view of Him! Yet His voice would be unmistakeable!

So when Peter asks "IF it is You, then bid me to come to you."In the Greek there is no mistaking Peter's title of this man when he says 'Lord'; also in the Greek there are four possible tenses to that word 'if':

1) IF, and it is not so; (2) IF and it probably/possibly is not so; (3) IF and it probably/possibly is so; (4) and IF and it is so!

I believe the last is the tense that Peter used. What then was the LORD's answer to Peter? "Come."
Have you ever wondered why the LORD allowed Peter to step out of that boat, when He knew he would fail? To teach Peter a lesson? Yes, indeed! Also to teach us, that in overwhelming situations, we need not be overwhelmed; if we only keep our eyes, hearts, and minds focused on Him and not on the prevailing storms.

Yet even if we should fail and consider too long the imminent storms that approach our nation, and the world, and as a result sink into despair: He is still with us! His love for us hasn't diminished in the least! He is ever faithful, loving, full of tender mercies for us! We may indeed fail Him, but He won't fail us! More than this, He is able to work in us, by His Spirit, such grace and power that we can righteously stand in faithfulness of no artificial origin, but rather heavenly!

Do you want to be faithful to your LORD Jesus? Even in the midst of such things that we see heading our way? He has the power to grant you this desire. Only reach out to Him, allow Him to clasp His Hand around your own, yield to His Almighty touch and let Him raise you up out of the mire and storming seas!

Like Peter, no fancy prayer or oratory is required; a simple heart-felt prayer is all that's required: "Lord, help!"
Like Peter, we will stand victoriously along side our LORD Who will faithfully stand by our side, on the churning waters of sin, violence, and destruction that this world is prone to!

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

may the LORD Jesus bless you saints, WAY TOO MUCH!!

He'll Raise Me Up

Yours in Victory, through the LORD of Glory,

Nikao Aionios A.V.R.A.S.!

brother James Fire

Friday, August 7, 2009


There are some, I'm sure who would think that going on and on about one's life is a bit narcissistic, and while this may be true in certain cases, my goal here is not to exalt myself, or build myself up in any way.

THE LORD has done marvelous things in all our lives, and we would all do well to encourage one another by reminding each other of all the glorious things God has achieved in and through us.

So, in effect, my desire is to exalt and glorify the LORD for all He has done, and is doing, in our lives.
Since God is no respecter of persons, He can do as He wills, and what He is willing to do with any one of us, He is willing to do (in His time and in His own way) with any that comprise His body, the church.
The LORD, as a Master Artist, is working in each of us a work of art; it says as much in Ephesians

EPH 2:10

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

That word 'workmanship' is from the Greek word "poema" and as you can readily guess, its the word from which we get 'poem'. What's comprised in any good poem is a sense of balance, rhyme, rhythm, metre, etc.
The LORD is elegantly, and skillfully crafting all of these elements into the lives of every saint, willing to yield to the Master's touch, and be shaped and molded as the Potter does the clay.

The LORD Jesus has done as much for me, and still has much work to do, but I am encouraged (as you also should be) because "He that has begun that good work in us, He shall complete it (Hallelujah!) unto the Day of Jesus Christ."  PHIL 1:6

Getting back to my testimony, as related in the very first article re: my salvation experience (Can I Get A Witness), school as a child was particularly difficult for me as the other children couldn't seem (for the most part) to get around my deformities, and that made my schooling days miserable.

One of those kids, who never made fun of me, but never really had anything to do with me either, was a girl named Anne Marie. She was very quiet, and while she had her friends, seemed to pretty much keep to herself.
I was familiar with seeing her since elementary school, but we never really talked. I don't seem to remember seeing her much in Jr. High School, but I definitely recall having some encounters with her in high school!

By then I had become pretty hard of heart, and while I kept a somewhat blithe exterior, anger and hatred and resentment seethed just beneath the surface, and it would explode whenever any one taunted or mocked me.

I was more miserable then, than at any other time in my life; and there was Anne Marie, looking herself as miserable and discontent as any one I'd ever seen. It bothered me greatly because she reflected in her expressions what I was feeling about myself, and I desperately wanted to 'forget myself' and distance myself from these emotions, as much as possible.

Yet with seeing her day after miserable day, I couldn't forget: she was a daily reminder.
Needless to say, I didn't treat her very well; besides the fact that she never seemed to speak, it left me wondering what exactly made her tick; why was she so miserable? She didn't have the problems I had; there didn't seem to be anything wrong with her. Even if she was discontent in some way, she always seemed to have friends; a lot of them, which was far more than I could say about myself.

I would try to get a rise out of her, and more often than not, I was successful. One day in English class (Mrs. Curley I believe was the teachers name) I whispered over to a fellow student: "Wanna see the dead come to life?" Whereupon I promptly kicked the desk in front of me where Anne Marie had been sitting quietly, and it nearly tipped over.

She turned around, eyes ablaze and cursed me out rather properly, to which my fellow student chuckled and when Anne turned back around, he mouthed, "wow".
So we weren't exactly on speaking terms for the remainder of our public school experience.


I'm in Rosie's basement for the first time, listening to Bible study, and as the teaching finished, questions were asked from some of the attendees, and little by little the small gathering grew smaller still, until it was just me, Tom, and Rosie. After some time, I heard footsteps on the stairway, and Rosie said: "Oh, that must be my daughter now . . . "

So we all waited with anticipation for her arrival at the bottom of the stairs.
Yep. You guessed it.

Rosie nonchalantly greeted and introduced her daughter who stood frozen, mouth agape, staring at me; I was a mirror image of her with the exact expression and stance.

I was baffled; this was Rosie's daughter? Yet how could this be, Rosie had been introduced to me with a particular last name which was different than Anne's. It struck me then: Tom must be her step-father! Rosie got re-married and thus had a different last name!

I was stunned speechless and had no idea what to say; I'm sure she remembered me and all the terrible things I had done! And there I was, Bible in hand and petrified. I said the first thing that came to mind:
"Bet you never expected to see me here, huh?"

"Nooo . . . " she smiled slightly with a voice externally sweet, but with a hard core.

"Mother, may I speak with you a moment in private please?" And when she had dragged her mother in the other room, she hissed, "What's he doing here!!"
"Jimmy?" Rosie asked innocently, "Jimmy's a nice boy!"
"He's a jerk! Get him out of my house!"

Tom and I sat awkwardly, pretending not to hear the not-too-terribly quiet conversation rumbling from the other room.
After a few more interminable minutes I quietly excused myself to Tom and Rosie and fled up the stairs.

As related already, much of my family came to know the LORD, and Anne (who at that time was backslidden) quietly observed all these goings on, but would quietly appear and disappear through the house or breeze way where we held study in the warm summer months. She was like a shadow or a ghost, being seen briefly, but never heard.

There was a play coming to our hometown by a ministry: WORD of LIFE, from Shroon Lake, northern NY State; it was based on the book of Revelation. Rosie had begged Anne to attend with all of us, and she hemmed and hawed until her mother's nagging finally wore her down, and she reluctantly agreed.

Yet on the night of the play, she declined and her mother cried so, that in guilt she relented and attended, albeit considerably glumly, to the play. She wasn't exactly 'straight' when she went to the presentation; so her perceptions were a bit off, and that made the effects of the play appear all the more real. Especially the Lake of Fire.

Heart hammering wildly in her chest, she stared at the horrific sight, people writhing in the artificially produced flames, there on the stage. Hands clenched on the arms of her theater chair, breath caught in her throat, all she could picture was herself, writhing along side of all the other tormented souls, forever and ever.

That night she re-committed her life to the LORD.

And spiritually speaking, we two former adversaries became joined at the hip. We were brother and sister in the LORD, and where you saw one, eventually, inevitably, you'd see the other.

We studied together, prayed together, hung out listening to Christian music, supported each other in difficult times, laughed and cried; we taught youth group together (though our teachings at times, left somewhat to be desired for their doctrinal accuracy).

I can't begin to tell you the number of times she would talk me into doing some rather amusingly bizarre things (for example, the time she persuaded us [another brother of ours was involved] to dress up like old ladies and go to the pastor's house and attend the prayer meeting! The look on his face was priceless, I must admit!).

One significant way the LORD used her in my life was in getting me out of my shell of shyness and uncertainty. I was something of a wimp really when once my bitter shell was cracked by the LORD and dissolved. Since Anne was a very forceful personality, she drew me out of that wimpiness as I found I had to stand up to her from time to time.

Another way she was used in my life was her absolute insistence in standing by the convictions that the LORD commanded us to keep, in His Word. Her zeal and fire (born of God's Spirit) was highly contagious, and I found myself greatly encouraged to following the LORD more closely as she challenged my walk regularly.

I remember a bunch of us young saints (we were in our mid-twenties) attended a Keith Green Memorial Concert; Keith was a Christian speaker/musician in the 70's and 80's who was white hot in his love and zeal for the LORD, and sang songs that spoke of "No Compromise" and "Make My Life A Prayer To You" and thundered his admonition to the church which was "Asleep In The Light". 

Keith while still a young man at 28 died with two of his little children in a small plane crash, yet he left a legacy of true Christian witness and many excellent albums. For any who would like to learn more about Keith and his lady, who has since remarried and continues on in the ministry, please visit the web site found here:

So at this Memorial Concert we watched on the screen as Keith banged out myriads of melodies on that piano of his, and preached, and exhorted Christians to get involved, step out of their comfort zones and get active in missions.

At that time I had been praying for the LORD to do a work in the nation of Turkey, and when I heard Keith speak, and listened to him sing the words of "Asleep in the Light" - - it was that one line he sang that got to me the most:

"God is calling, and you're the one, but like Jonah you run! He's told you to speak, but you keep holding it in! Oh, can't you see it's such sin!" - - I broke before the LORD and knew I had to go where He would send me.

He sent me to England. "ENGLAND??" you might ask. Yes; I myself wasn't aware at the time, but England was a gateway of immigration from many different nations that comprise of Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs and others. 

You had a proverbial Middle Eastern/Asian Melting Pot, and Islam was particularly intent on taking back Europe for the glory of Allah, and they stated that "England would be the doorway" used to do so.

I left New York for New Jersey to attend training with Operation Mobilization, a missionary society that stretches across the globe (see their link in Missions Himpossible under "Links To Live By") and testifies to the glory of God through the salvation offered by Jesus Christ the LORD and LAMB of God.

The predominant lesson I learned while working with O.M. was this: "What we do in our work for the LORD isn't as important as the work that the LORD does in us; and truly our work for Him won't be effective until He does His work in us!"

This gels exactly with a devotional that resounded in my heart throughout that summer of '87 by Oswald Chambers'
My Utmost For His Highest; it went something like:

"Guard your devotional time, and your devotional heart with the LORD, for it is this that will be assailed against by the enemy. He will use anything to distract you from your devotion to the LORD. He will even use the ministry to create such a distraction. Its only as you partake in communion and devotion to the LORD that you will be empowered to effectively work in any ministry."

What I discovered is that as I remain full of the Spirit, full to overflowing, it's that overflow which ministers to others; its only as I remain open to the LORD and receive day by day, moment by moment from Him, that I can be both full of His Spirit and also be enabled to minister to others. By conducting my spiritual life in this way, I can by Christ Jesus minister to others and not dry up myself.

If I stop receiving, and continue to give, I will eventually dry up like a desert and must work in the energy of the flesh in a miserable attempt to maintain ministry.
If I continue receiving, but stop giving, I will become stagnant and life will no longer flow, much like the Dead Sea in Israel which receives water in an inlet, but has no outlet.

There is so much I'd like to share about my experiences back in '87 that I feel I should reserve this for another article, perhaps a second "O.A.S.I.S." article. 

I pray that such will not only be a blessing, but also a source of encouragement to those of you who are praying about missions, whether that start in your own home, block, city, or unto the furthest most part of the Earth.

Now before I actually left for NJ for training with O.M. I was fellowshipping with saints at Shiloh Bible Church which is still active for the LORD today. Please visit them at:

Pastor Amrit and family are from Pakistan, and they felt the call of the LORD to come to America and establish a work, with the LORD Jesus as the ROCK-solid foundation.

It was here in this church that I met another saint who was destined to become one of my closest brothers in the LORD, my 'wing man' (as in Air Force pilots, yet we battle with dark spiritual powers, not mere war planes, in the heavenlies) as he calls himself. His name is David, and I've known him for about 25 yrs as of this date. He is one of the two who moved out to Arizona with me, but that's getting a bit ahead of the story.

I recall the very first day we encountered David at Shiloh. I had arrived with Tom, Rosie and daughters to set up for worship (I was in charge of changing the overhead sheets for the songs, and I also participated in reading Bible passages that pastor Amrit would call out during the sermon). They sat in their chairs, tuning up their guitars and reviewing the songs, and I sat opposite them listening in, praying, and generally being blessed.

I heard the door open behind me, and three pairs of eyes before me WIDENED and mouths dropped open. Curious, and even a bit apprehensive, I turned to see what the sisters were gaping at. My eyes WIDENED and my mouth dropped open.

A man all in black, with a leather vest, wild bushy black curly hair and beard, and black sunglasses was slowly walking down the center aisle of the church. His belt buckle was hanging loose, and at his hip was a sheathed knife! He looked like the President of the Charles Manson Fan Club!
He looked my way and nodded silently, and my frozen expression of fright suddenly transformed into a forced smile of greeting; inwardly I was wondering if I would survive this day, and doubted I'd be able to protect the ladies from this possible maniac!

Stiffly the sisters resumed their practice, trying not to stare at this dark personage who sat quietly across the aisle. People began to show up for Sunday morning service, and greeted us warmly, and glanced with uncertain curiousity at this rather intimidating figure who sat still and quietly.

Pastor Amrit then showed up and greeted everyone with his characteristically warm, bright smile and firm handshake or pat on the shoulder. He saw this man, and his dark eyes brightened with what seemed to be intrigue and wonder. I could almost read his thoughts: "Ah, a soul to convert!"

As service began we all brought our hearts before the Throne of God in worship, song, and prayer. Pastor prayed in his baritone voice in his typical almost-Old Testament prayer style: 

"Oh great God and Father, Everlasting God, Almighty God, Covenant-Keeping God, God Who keeps His promise, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, we adore Thee, we glorify Thee, we praise the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ . . . " and on he would go.

At this point he encouraged us to greet one another, " . . . but greet someone you haven't met before . . ." We weren't exactly obedient to that exhortation - - Yet when I noticed that the hub-bub of saints busily greeting each other was an ocean of activity, David was a dark island, undisturbed in the midst. 

He stood quietly, hands folded, and no one approached him.

The LORD spoke to my heart, "Remember those days when you were alone and no one would be your friend?"
I answered, "Yeah, but LORD . . . this guy could kill me!"
"Jim . . ."
"O.K. LORD." I stepped across the aisle and, hardly breathing, I put out my hand and said something to the effect of, "Hi, I'm Jim Fire, what's your name?"
"David," he said, shaking my hand. I couldn't help but glance down at that knife of his.
"Are . . . are you a Christian?" I stammered, thinking if I could just keep hold of his hand, he couldn't use that knife.
"Yes, I believe in Jesus because he used demons to bring me to Him."
I paused, staring at those dark shades, seeing my puzzled reflection in them: "Excuse me? Did you say demons?"

David explained to me that prior to his actual salvation experience he was plagued with manifestations in his dwelling places, even as he moved from one to another. Plates rattling in the sink, a TV remote control sliding effortlessly across the coffee table, crucifixes swinging slowly on the wall until they were upside down; the land lord's dogs would visit with him upstairs and suddenly froze and growled at nothing seen. Pillars of cold air in warm rooms,and luminous lights passing through his legs. Even physical assaults that resulted in vertical, pin-thin scratches straight down the back and across his chest.

I interupted him and explained that while such things are certainly real (I experienced things of such nature), our focus needs to be on Jesus, and His work in us. 

He nodded once emphatically and continued:
"Then I had a psychic come over and try to get rid of these things, but it didn't do any good, but the one thing she did tell me was, 'You need to get close to God, and you need to get close to God, now!' And there were other things that happened too . . ."

He continued on for some time, and I stood and listened, wondering how I was going to get out of this one. Looking back now, I can almost see the LORD smiling knowingly, having perfect foreknowledge of how we two would become comrades in spiritual arms, and yoke fellows in the ministry.

He told me later that it was at an invitation to attend a Roman Catholic retreat in Binghamtom, NY he received Jesus Christ as his LORD and Savior. I believe it was at that time, he was also cleansed of demonic oppression (not possession).

If you would like to read David's testimony, "TRANSFORMATION TO LIGHT" you can follow these links for PART ONE and PART TWO.

We got to know each other well in the following months, attended prayer meetings together, went street witnessing with gospel tracts, and eventually got to study and pray against a rise of Satanism which came to the forefront in the early to mid 80's.

I remember one day, we both recognized that Shiloh Bible church was under some serious attack by the enemy, and David got the idea of praying over the building and church grounds by circling around it seven times, as did Joshua and the children of Israel (his thinking was, in order to break down the walls of attack orchestrated by the enemy).

So as we started walking around the building, he said a prayer. When he was finished, I would pray. Then he prayed some more. Then I was gone...

He looked around, and couldn't see me, until of course he looked down and saw me sprawled on the grass, my foot still caught in a hole of some kind!
We could hardly keep praying because we were both laughing so hard!

Sometime later we found ourselves at another fellowship, and another after that. It was during this time, when one of these fellowships was just a bible study at a home, that I met Jeff, the second brother who would eventually move out here to Arizona with David and I. Anne Marie by now was married to a brother from Calvary Chapel of the Fingerlakes, Bill, and both were used at this fellowship in the worship team.

Jeff stated that he was eager for "a fresh move of God" in his life, and heard about this bible study, and potential church being established. I learned that Jeff was saved at the invitation to receive Christ from Pat Robertson during a television program of the 700 Club. 
It was a time in which we were all used in various capacities at this fellowship.

This went on for a while, but once again, the seeds of yet another church would not come to full fruition. Yet again another man came to pastor, and this Calvary Chapel remains in Syracuse today. It was from this fellowship that David, Jeff and I moved away from NY and to AZ (By this time Bill and Anne Marie had moved away from Syracuse themselves, and decided to live close by to Calvary Chapel-Farmington, NY where they attended service and ministered there).

It all started when my parents were intent on visiting my Aunt (my Mom's sister) and her husband who moved out to AZ to retire back in '88. It was in June of '91 that we went, and I was astounded by the beauty of the desert, the saguaros, the palm trees, and the mountains (I thought Arizona was all barren and sand dunes!). 

I was so taken by all of this because prior to my visit to the South West, the furthest west I'd ever been was Ohio; while others found the heat somewhat oppressive, I thrived on it! - after all, what 'Fire' doesn't like heat, right?

Later it occurred to me that the heat actually helped me with my back pain!

Because I went on and on about how much I loved it there in Tucson, my Uncle asked me why I just wouldn't move out here. I discounted that idea, saying that I was ". . . really a New York boy, and I wouldn't know what I'd do out here. It's a great place to visit for vacation, but live here?" I just didn't think so.

We stayed there for nearly three weeks, and saw all kinds of beauty; I made sure I recorded everything on VHS tape with a camcorder that rested heavily on my shoulder (remember those huge clunkers?). Towards the end of our vacation there, my Uncle cornered me and asked me:

"Have you ever thought that maybe the LORD wants you to move out here?"

I had to admit, that that thought hadn't occurred to me.

"Have you prayed about it at all?"

"No," I answered sheepishly.

"Well now you have something to pray about" he said, and walked away.

So on our way back to NY, I decided I would pray about it, and I also intended on sharing my videos with David and Jeff, because David always wanted to see the Grand Canyon, and Jeff was a real plane hopper, having visited/lived in so many different states. He hadn't yet been to Arizona.

So we got home and I showed them the video. At its 2 hour conclusion, David turned to me and asked, "So when do you wanna move?" And we all laughed: little did we know!

It was around Thanksgiving time, and I had been back to work now for a few months (I was a shift manager for Pizza Hut); my lunch break was coming up, so I popped some food in the oven and clocked out. 

I went to the back of the restaurant and grabbed my Bible out of my back pack. As I settled at the lunch table, waiting for my pizza, I thumbed through the pages of scripture, wondering what would transpire in the upcoming new year ('92). I've been diligently praying about a possible move to Tucson, so I was eager to receive any instruction from the LORD.

My thumb caught a page of my Bible and it just so 'happened' to stop at PSALM 92 . . 

What stood out to me at this time were verses - 4, 10 and 12

PSALM 92:4

For thou, LORD, hast made me glad through thy work: I will triumph in the works of thy hands.

At this time I was really struggling with my walk, and I was yearning for victory, and for God to work in me that which was necessary for me to obtain this. That the emphasis is His work, not mine, that would allow me to acquire these things.

PSALM 92:10

But my horn shalt thou exalt like the horn of an unicorn: I shall be anointed with fresh oil.

This verse speaks of oil, and of course that is an emblem representing the Holy Spirit, and this anointing is something I was craving: a fresh touch of God's Spirit in my life.

PSALM 92:12

The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon.

This verse struck me particularly, because while I was in Tucson, I had learned (from somewhere, a television program or maybe even a dvd my Aunt had) that spoke about how cedars were recently planted in the northern regions of Arizona. Of course palm trees were every where in southern Arizona! Yet this was just the beginning! Neither were native to Arizona, but were transplanted here.

As I was seeking God for His will about this possible move, I was hearing all sorts of teachings on the theme of one of Christ Jesus's titles, Alpha and Omega.

I heard it in sermons, radio broadcasts, bible study tapes, in books, in scripture, even in coincidental conversations I would catch as I walked by.
It was driving me crazy because while I knew the LORD was trying to speak to me, I had no idea whatsoever what He was saying.

Then in October of '92 David, Jeff and I decided to take vacation in Tucson; we stayed for I think 10 days with my Aunt and Uncle, and by their own admission, we had crammed in more sight seeing and travels than any one else they knew!

We saw the Grand Canyon, Sabino Canyon, The Painted Desert, the Petrified Forest; we visited Old Tucson and Tombstone. We drove at night on the streets of Tucson enjoying the balmy breezes and gazing at bright stars so clear, it seemed you could reach out and pluck them out of the sky. 

We went swimming at the built-in pool at my relatives Club House (remember this was in Oct.!). It was a blast! Surely, the LORD wouldn't want me to move to such a place as this? (wink). We attended Calvary Chapel, Tucson and felt as if we'd been there for years!

While there, we would attend a Bible study at the club house where they lived (A retirement mobile home park: very neat and tidy and beautiful); and the Bible study was centered around - - guess what?

The Alpha and Omega! I got chills, even though it was 98 degrees outside.
Other verses that I collected which directed me towards AZ during the time of '91 - '93 were: 

PSALMS 27, 37; JER ch. 9; 32:38-42; 35:8-10; ISAIAH 43:15-26; 44:1-8; 49:23-26; 58:6-14, esp. vs. 11,12,13 and 14; EZEK 20:35-38; PHIL 1:6; HEB 12:2 and REV 1:8,11,17-19 and 22:12-14.

All of these verses speak of the destruction of the flesh, the empowerment of the Spirit, they speak of beginnings and endings where the work of the LORD is concerned, they speak of anointings and of the establishments of a refuge, a place of healing, rebuilding, repairing, of reaching out to serve others, and of making the LORD a priority.

I understood that the Alpha and Omega referred to the LORD being the beginning of all things, as well as their ending; He is the Author of Life, and the Ruler of the Universe and of Heaven. Yet still there was something that perplexed me about this verse.

When it was time to return back to NY, we were a bit glum as we knew what was waiting for us come November and the rest of winter season, and cold, gray skies.
Yet we persisted in our prayers, seeking God. I had mailed away for a directory of Calvary Chapels, so that we could keep track of the fellowship there, and any others that might spring up. When it arrived, I eagerly went over the list of Calvarys available in Tucson . . . and found nothing listed for Tucson!

I looked again under the abbreviated letters for the States, and realized I was looking under "AR" which was Arkansas. What was the abbreviation for Arizona then? "AZ"! and as I looked under all the 'AZ's' (well over a dozen) that verse came back to mind:

"I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the ending" As you know, Alpha and Omega are the first and last letters in the Greek alphabet. In English it would be "the A and the Z" which 'coincidently' happens to be the abbreviation for Arizona. More chills up the back.

One day in the midst of 1993, after the holiday season, a sister in the LORD asked me if we three still intended on moving to Arizona. We were all car-pooling in Tom and Rosie's massive station wagon, on the way to church, driving on the highway.

I told her, "It's now not a matter of if, but rather when the LORD tells us to make our move. As soon as we get the go ahead from the LORD, we are 'outta here'!

Now some of you might think this an exaggeration, or even a fib on my part, but I have witnesses to this event that can verify what I'm about to tell you! 

Those words no sooner left my lips that a U-Haul truck drove by us in the right lane, and in brilliant colors a scene was painted with mountains and cactus, and in large letters was written "Moving To Arizona"!!!

The station wagon erupted with peals of roaring laughter after a brief moment of startled silence, and they all waved at me, saying, "Byeeee Jimmyyyyy!"

David and I had a tradition of attending a beautiful Christian retreat every fall, and that year we decided we would pack up all of our belongings (a rather meager amount) and travel to Franklin, PA - just a stone's throw from Oil City. You can watch this 6 minute video to see this amazing 'Castle' where we stayed and basked in the fellowship of the LORD along with the saints. You will note what is called "the South Tower" was where prayer vigils were held by any seeking quiet time with the LORD Jesus!

But first I had the most unpleasant, tearful task of saying farewell to my family and my parents, whom I'd never been away from for any length of time (save for '87 when I was on a missions trip for the summer). That was by far the hardest thing I had to do!

So then, there was in Pennsylvania. this old monastery, that was converted to a retreat center. It was high up in some rolling mountains, overlooking the city below, which was divided by the meandering, wide Allegheny river. The 'Castle' as it was called was surrounded by a lush forest, which by that time of year was in vibrant, bright colors of orange, red, yellow, gold and green; the quiet of the outdoors was so deep, you could actually hear your own heart beat and your eyes blink!

There at that retreat we were encouraged with more teachings from the Word, and edified at the Prayer Tower, where we asked the LORD to guide our steps as we traveled cross country.

The three days came and went too rapidly, but we were eager to get back on the road and make our way in this journey. 
One problem however; we were traveling in two cars, David's and Jeff's and Jeff's suddenly broke down. It was a Sunday, so no auto repair shops were open. We would have to find a motel, and then get repairs on Monday (if even then)!

David went to the kitchen at the Castle and asked to use the phone, and as he started to explain the situation (to whoever he was talking with) one of the cooks overheard him, and pardoned herself to David, saying,

"If you're in need of some car repairs, there's a whole room full of car mechanics in the worship hall."

"What??" David exclaimed.

"They have Bible studies here every year about this time, they're a Christian association of Car Mechanics!"

David almost dropped the phone!

Within minutes we had the entire team swarming over Jeff's car, pulling up wires, checking out all the various cogs and components, effecting repairs with the efficiency of a bee hive, finding even more problems and fixing them as well. In no time, they had us up and running and didn't even charge us a dime!

"This is a blessing for us," they said. "We love ministering to the needs of the brethren in this way!" And they waved us off with smiles and the light of the LORD on their countenances!

On the way to Arizona we had to make a stop over in El Paso, Texas to meet a dear lady we'd been in touch with over the years in NY, who was making presentations all over the country, and headed a network of Christians who educated churches and exposed Satanism to Law enforcement agencies. It was from her ministry that David and I received a lot of materials in our research and praying ministry against the darkness of Satanism.

We left El Paso well fed, and encouraged, but also somewhat disturbed by some of the things our sister Sue, and her husband Bill shared with us. She said that what she'd been researching in Satanism was the kindergarten level of a larger picture; what she was looking into next was the graduate level!

However, that meeting must wait til another time, in another blog entry.

At last, we arrived in Tucson, driving down Route 10, and about to enter the city limits. It was then that I grabbed Jeff's arm and pointed excitedly:

"Jeff, LOOK! Do you see it? The LORD is welcoming us into the city! Its another sign from the LORD!" And these literally were signs that brought to mind what the LORD promised me in PSALM 92:10 " . . . I shall be anointed with fresh oil."

On either side of Highway 10 were orange, diamond shaped signs with words that said, "FRESH OIL".

The LORD has been faithful, then as He is now, and forever shall be, Bless His Name! HE IS THE ALPHA and OMEGA of our lives and beyond! AMEN!