One Love – Love One (Part 3)

Handout: OneLove-LoveOne-3-Printable

This is the third talk in a series designed for small groups. The accompanying handout can be printed for each participant.

Scripture References Used: Matthew 11:28; 1 Corinthians 15; Colossians 1:27; 3:3; 1 Peter 3:15; 4:2; Proverbs 15:28-29.

The video and handout can be downloaded / view / used freely without express permission from me.

One Love – Love One (Part 2)

Handout: OneLove-LoveOne-2-Printable

This is the second talk in a series designed for small groups. The accompanying handout can be printed for each participant.

Scripture References Used: Ecclesiastes 3:11; Genesis 3:22; Revelation 21:3; 2 Corinthians 4:18; Matthew 25:30-46

The video and handout can be downloaded / view / used freely without express permission from me.
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One Love – Love One (Part 1)

Handout: OneLove-LoveOne-1-Printable

This is the first in a series designed for small groups. The accompanying handout can be printed for each participant.

Scripture References Used: 2 Corinthians 5:14-16; John 13:34-35; Matthew 7:11; Luke 12:24

The video and handout can be downloaded / view / used freely without express permission from me.
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Phablets Arise Upon Tablet’s Downfall

Remember when phablets wasn’t a word? You know, like two years ago…

Contrary to the 2013 belief that these monstrosities (in verbage and size) were at their peak, they look like they are here to stay. It is estimated phablets will overtake tablets at the beginning of 2015. Sadly, for all those English majors out there this means the term phablet isn’t disappearing anytime soon.

1980's BoomboxThis is not a surprise: should I spend $499 on an iPad Air 2 tablet that does less than an iPhone 6+ at $299 (with contract, $499 without)? The iPad mini is about to die, it is only a matter of time–it won’t be long before we hoist an iPad Err 7 to my ear to call home. Bring back the 80’s!!


 Infographic: From Tablets: The Hype is Over @Statista


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3 – Passage


Gabe felt the upward movement once Maciek took hold of him. The sensation wasn’t walking or floating, it was simply movement. Looking down on the detention center where he had so recently been in relentless pain, the thought ‘what will become of my friends?’ passed through his mind.

“Many of them will endure and join you,” spoke Maciek.

Surprised, Gabe jerked his head to intently peer at Maciek, ‘Did he just answer my thought?’

[su_pullquote align=”right” class=”tcroke-pullquote-green”][In eternity], there are no secrets. Your thoughts are as though spoken.[/su_pullquote]“Yes,” replied Maciek. “Here, there are no secrets. Your thoughts are as though spoken. Although, we prefer to communicate by spoken language, for in it is much power.”

“You hear everything I think?” asked Gabe incredulously. “Without me saying it?”

“Yes, and yes.”

‘Does all of heaven hear my thoughts?’ wondered Gabe anxiously to himself.

“Well it isn’t quite like that,” replied Maciek.

“Ahh!” exclaimed Gabe again in surprise, “I forgot you listen to my thoughts!” Regaining his composure, “why don’t I hear yours?”

“What you focus on is what you hear. What you ignore you won’t,” explained Maciek. “You will get used to it soon enough,” he added matter-of-factly.

“But that doesn’t make sense! If that were true how does God keep track of what is going on everywhere?”

“God’s unlimited in all capacities. God’s intently focused on every human, spiritual being, and all of creation. And as such, is able to tune into every thought and spoken word in existence simultaneously. Even with all of our abilities we can only tune into five or six-”

“So he just heard my last thought?” Gabe interrupted sheepishly.

Maciek roared with laughter, “Yes, God heard that thought too. And the words you just softly spoke. But don’t worry, God delights in all that you do!”

Gabe turned from Maciek to focus on not thinking a thought. It was hard to think about not thinking. While trying not to think, Gabe gazed downward and to his amazement could see the North American continent. Yet, if he focused, he could see individual people on the earth.

Sensing his confusion Maciek explained, “things here are much different. Here, senses are heightened thousands of times.”

Watching people on the continent, Gabe was aware of a growing shudder within him. With each passing moment it grew more intense. He initially thought was a natural feeling in eternity, but suddenly it began increasing rapidly. It was as though his whole spirit wanted to shake.

Suddenly they stopped moving.

The quiver inside Gabe moved to his frame. Maciek removed his arm from Gabe’s shoulder to his sword hilt. Looking for courage or an explanation, Gabe noticed Maciek too was quivering ever so slightly.

“Maciek, what’s going on?”

Maciek did not speak, but looked to the left. Gabe followed his gaze not knowing what to look for, seeing only darkness.

Gabe held his breath. Trembling, his darting eyes scouted around.

Only darkness.

Then he heard it … no them.

Far away, an awful noise was advancing quickly on their position.

Growling, snarling, and shrieking, a horde of creatures was heading straight for them!

Panic engulfed Gabe. Maciek drew his sword.

Gabe stepped in tight, slightly behind him.

“What is it?!” cried Gabe.

“Hell’s furry,” shot Maciek tense.

“What are we going to do?!” cowered Gabe taking another step behind Maciek, placing Maciek between him and the noise.

“Wait,” replied Maciek confidently, “and battle if need be.”

Glancing around, Gabe could see no cover, no help.

[su_pullquote class=”tcroke-pullquote-red”]…out of the darkness shadowy shapes began to take form. A retched stench exploded in Gabe’s nostrils …[/su_pullquote]From out of the darkness shadowy shapes began to take form. A retched stench exploded in Gabe’s nostrils as they drew closer, his stomach lurched. In only a moment they would arrive.

‘What then?’ thought Gabe fear stricken. ‘Can they kill me here? Capture me and torture me? How is this possible?’ His mind raced with possibilities.

Now firmly pressed against Maciek, Gabe poked his head around to watch the scene unfold. With eyes glued on the horde, he watched as an enormous shadow arose, eclipsing the horde. The vile beast let out a heinous, rage-filled roar of delight.

With the corner of his eye, Gabe glanced at Maciek. Towering at nearly four meters and holding a two meter flaming sword made Maciek a formidable opponent. Certainly, if he were fighting humans on earth they wouldn’t stand a chance. He would be able to take down a battalion of elite soldiers with ease.

Things were different here. The encroaching horde was filled with equally strong, yet vile creatures. However the heinous beast had no equal in this fight. Three times larger than any other creature, this beast’s claws were the size of Gabe’s torso.

His beady, yellow eyes fixated on Gabe, sending fear screaming down Gabe’s spine.

Gabe knew that Maciek, even in all his strength, could not withstand this beast. Seeing no escape, Gabe closed his eyes, clenched Maciek, and waited for the end.

<<< Chapter 2 – SHIFT <<<  |  >>> Chapter 4 – PASSAGE >>>

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Looking at Luke’s broken body Abdon couldn’t help but be moved. Here was a broken man still faithful to the cause not having given up hope. Although Luke could no longer see it, Abdon could see the faith and hope which remained.

Abdon turned his gaze from Luke to the adjacent room. The scene unfolding there would make most men shudder.[su_pullquote align=”right” class=”tcroke-pullquote-red”]The scene unfolding there would make most men shudder…[/su_pullquote]

The tormentors, Ray and Eric, stood hunched over a man bound to a table. Ray and Eric seemed to delight in the work they were performing as they plunged instruments into him. Knowing the man wouldn’t divulge useful information at this point, their goal was for him to recant his belief in the cause, even if possible in his dying breath.

What Luke, Ray, nor Eric could not see was the answered prayer. The bound and bleeding man began to shine more brightly as Luke’s prayer reached heaven. Abdon’s old friend Maciek watched over the man while encouraging him to remain steadfast.

“Is Gabe going to make it Maciek?” inquired Abdon.

“Yes, the Protector will carry him through this,” replied Maciek. “It has been a long road we have traveled together these twenty-seven years. He has been steady since he overcame the loss of his family. He has done well and lived worthily. I’m looking forward to escorting him home.”

Maciek and Abdon waited as the tormentors finished their work.

With all that he had left within him, in his last earthly breath, Gabe cried out, “HOME!”

Instantly Maciek reached down to grab Gabe by the hand. Gabe rose from within his body. Sitting upright, then standing to his feet, Gabe looked with awe at his surroundings.

‘This is a favorite moment of mine,’ mused Abdon, ‘that first glimpse of eternity.’

“Welcome to eternity,” spoke Maciek softly as Gabe was becoming aware and looking around.

Gabe’s face was full of joy, peace, and a smile larger than any human could fathom. Around him, Ray and Eric began to clean the room and prepare his body for incineration, unaware of the eternal realm.

“I made it!’ Gabe shouted, unaccustomed to his new eternal voice.

Having seen this drama play out thousands of time, Abdon couldn’t help but chuckle at what he knew was coming next.

With a quizzical look Gabe turned to Maciek, ‘Who are you?”

“Maciek,” he answered matter of factly. “You didn’t know me by name before now, but I have been walking with you, encouraging you, watching over you, and helping you for the past twenty-seven years.”

Nodding in the direction of Abdon, “now that you have joined us in eternity, I am here to take you on your last journey home.”

With wide eyes Gabe spoke, “You’re my angel!?”

“Yep,” answered Maciek.

“The voice directing me all these years?”

“Not always, but some times. The Protector does most of the directing.”

“Thank you!” cried Gabe.

“Don’t thank me, I’m just a servant like you. Speaking of which, would you like to start your final journey home?”

Beholding his body being placed on a cart, Gabe faced Maciek and proclaimed, “Yes! Absolutely! Let’s go.”

Maciek turned to Abdon, “see you soon.” Abdon nodded in silent reply. Maciek wrapped his massive arm around Gabe’s shoulders. Together, side-by-side, they whisked upward through the material world.[su_pullquote class=”tcroke-pullquote-green”]Together, side-by-side, they whisked upward through the material world.[/su_pullquote]

The cries of agony stopped upon Gabe’s departure. In the silence Abdon stood watchfully over Luke as he tried to sleep before the next prisoner would arrive. Abdon watched the all too familiar scene in the adjacent room. Two demons emerged from within the men like gentlemen sitting down for tea.

“We failed again, the master is not going to be happy!”

“Don’t worry,” replied the other, “with the war in the heavens he doesn’t have time to punish us.”

“I fear he may find the time!”

“He won’t. In this time it’s every being for himself.”

“If you say so, but that brings our record to a new low! We’re at the bottom of the performance scale!”

“How bad off are we?”

“We are running a .342 rate!”

“Oh, that’s bad.”

“Compared to the Big Pine Center they average .671!”

“Well, the problem is with our slugs. These two kill too quickly.”

“They do seem to die often,” mulled the second, lost in a distant thought. After a moment he spoke up, “No. The problem is the faithful ones here are battle tested.”

“What do you mean?”

“At Big Pine, they get all the new ones. We are stuck with the ones who have already been sustained through much suffering.”

The other demon motioned for the first to continue his argument.

“Take that last abominable faithful one. We almost had him when his family was killed. His anger and bitterness almost caused him to forgo the cause. It seemed we had him. But cursed faithful friends stuck with him through that. As he regained his foothold a resolve was placed in his spirit.”

“I could feel that resolve!” interrupted the other. “No matter what we had our slugs do, that remained!”

“Exactly my point,” continued the first. “Those years of suffering produced in him what he needed to remain steadfast.”

“I see,” sighed the other in dejection.

“Big Pine has those who’ve not had hardships to harden them against our attacks. They are easy, and fall away quickly. You and me,” he pointed back and forth between them, “we are in tougher territory.”

“Yeah, that’s it!” chimed the other. “Speaking of which you remember that red head? Wasn’t she…”

Abdon tuned out as the demons droned on in boasting of past successes and what a great job they were doing in the circumstances. As the Ray and Eric were finishing cleaning up the room, the demons turned to enter back into them.

“How is your hold on your slug going?” asked the first.

“Good, although a faithful one today spoke a truth that resonated with him. Even now I can see him mulling it over. Could cause me to lose some grip.”

“Well remind him of the plague that swept the globe, killing his daughter. Remind him the terrorists did it.” Pausing to come up with a better lie, he continued, “And if the enemy was kind, loving, and real he would have protected his daughter. Let his bitterness choke the truth. Who knows, maybe it will even increase your hold!”

“Great idea!” shot the other demon. Just before disappearing he asked, “say, what’s the score for my slug achieving the recant?”

“187 to 183, my lead,” gloated the first demon.

With that the demons disappeared out of sight into Ray and Eric as they rolled Gabe’s body out into the hall.

<<< Chapter 1 – ARRIVAL <<<  |  >>> Chapter 3 – PASSAGE >>>

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