The Bell Ringer

"Before we can pray "Lord, Thy Kingdom come!", we must be willing to pray, "My Kingdom, go!" ~ Alan Redpath

I needed some radish and some peppers my husband liked with anything I cooked with broth. If not for these needed ingredients, I didn’t feel like dashing to the nearby grocery store as I would rather be cooped up inside our home, in my PJ, and just planned to stay that way all day. I knew the sunlight was deceiving as it shone brightly but the beautiful rays were not yet enough to warm up the blistering cold of the winter mornings.

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There he was, an old man just garbed in a typical polo shirt and denim pants, ringing the bell he held tightly with his right hand. He was one of the familiar sights of volunteers for the Salvation Army around this time of the year.

“Merry Christmas!” I heard him yelled out to every person who walked into the grocery store. People either seemed to be in a hurry or were trying to avoid his way as many were hurting at this economic times, no one greeted him back. But he kept greeting everyone whether he got a response, even a smile or not. Tirelessly swinging the bells in his right hand, he kept a big smile painted on his face despite the numbing cold of air that brushed against his already red face.

Then, it was my turn to meet him on my path…

“Merry Christmas!” he smiled at me.

Unbeknownst to him, I had been contemplating on my response. Few steps before meeting him, I had already seen and heard many others who had ignored him. I always thought that even if I didn’t want to greet him, there was Someone Who could see my actions. Then again, He also could see even with what was on my mind before I acted on them.

“Merry Christmas to you, too! Thank you!” I replied as I paid back the smile he had been wearing endlessly, my steps continuing toward the entrance of the store to get the things I needed.

It only took me less than five minutes to gather everything I needed for the planned dinner as the lady from the cash register handed me  back my change. I got some loose change and some dollar bills. I put them all back in my purse except for a dollar bill I wasn’t planning on depositing into that red bucket outside at first, was now intended to be given for whatever purpose it might serve, pooled with the other people’s donations. I knew I didn’t have to, but at that moment and in the verge of crossing path again with the pleasant volunteer, I was sure that I wanted to…

“I hope you get more!” I stated as I slid the bill into the bucket. His smile grew bigger and with twinkling in his eyes, he thanked me.

"No...Thank you!"

I knew it wasn’t about the dollar being donated to help others that prompted me to do that. It was about acknowledging the man’s presence, his volunteering, his smiles, his greetings to everyone who walked into his place. He didn’t have to do that but he wanted to, knowing that many were in need. He was giving a part of his heart that chose to labor for advancing the work of God.

Anyone born of the Spirit is indeed a part of the Salvation Army, that of Christ’s! Like that man, may we never tire in doing our work because for those who are willing to serve, God always has a place for them. In God's economy, nothing runs out because it is His love that is being circulated among us. Like that volunteer, what a beautiful day it will be for anyone if we all learn to acknowledge a person, greeting them from our hearts, showing them warm smiles even if they are not responding back, ringing the bells of freedom and making others who don't know Christ about the freedom He gives, tirelessly. Because no one knows what a rough time one could be going through and just that act of kindness, a simple act of kindness, coated with Christ's love sometimes, is what it takes to make someone see the love of God.

"For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." - Ephesians 2:10 (ESV)

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The Attacker (5/15/09)

The sun was just peeking from the Eastern skies. Ephesians 6:12 [37 kb]

Out in the prison’s yard, some huge Sheriff’s buses were illuminated by the soft glow coming from the lights all over from the tall lamp posts. Their engines were turned on, warming up, before the buses would take the inmates to the different courts where they would have their trials.

Orange-uniformed men were lined up in pairs, joined together with handcuffs and chained, forming a long line. They already had their breakfast and had their morning medications prior to going to courts. Some were fidgeting, as they waited to board those buses.

All of a sudden, all hell broke loose! Two men were engaged in a fight, using weapons they made secretly for a while. Deputies called for help on the radio, both for custody back-up and medical staff, as well.

When the air was cleared and the other inmates were secured, one man was down on the floor. He sustained multiple gashes but two of them were deep. One cut was vertically etched from his left ear going down to the jaw line. The other dangerous cut was horizontal on his left neck, close to the jugular vein. Pool of blood dripped all over the floor. Holding his bleeding neck, he was pointing at the other inmate few feet away, being guarded by the other deputies.

The other man being accused was not hurt. There were no lacerations nor any other signs of trauma. He was obviously very agitated as he was being questioned by those deputies, while the medical staff started treating the other man on the floor. They cleaned the wounds and controlled the bleeding. That man was sent to the nearby hospital.

When the investigation was finalized, it turned out to be that the “downed man who was accusing the other inmate” was the attacker and the other one who didn’t have injury was the one attacked. The deputies found out that it was the second attempt to attack the unhurt man. Both attacks on him failed. He was well-prepared after the first attempt on him, that when the second attempt was done, he was able to defend himself and ended up injuring his attacker severely.

[Source: NLT Bible ]:

We also have an “accuser of the brethren.” Satan and his army of demons are the enemies of God and of everything good.

“Because God’s children are human beings – made of flesh and blood – Jesus also became flesh and blood by being born in human form. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the Devil, who had the power of death.” –Hebrews 2:14

Because of what Jesus had done [dying on the cross], we, who live in constant fear of death shouldn’t be afraid anymore. Jesus had freed us from that fear so we can live for Him. When we belong to God, we know that death is only the portal that leads into “eternal life”. [“Thank You Lord!].

Paul warned us, too that we also battle against the evil forces of Satan, who is a vicious fighter. But to be able to withstand their attacks, we must depend on God’s strength and use every piece of His armor. We face an army whose goal is to defeat Christ’s church. When we believe in Christ, they become our enemies. They will try any device to turn us away from the Lord.

Fear not! For God has provided His supernatural power to defeat Satan and his army, through His Holy Spirit within us. So, arm yourselves with God’s armor.

Let us be strong in the Lord's mighty power. Let's put on His whole armor to resist the enemy's attacks: put on the sturdy belt of truth and the body armor of God's righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News, so that we are well-prepared. We will need faith in every battle as our shield to stop the fiery arrows aimed by Satan and his army. Let us put on salvation as our helmet, not forgetting the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. Let's pray at all times, on every occasion in the power of the Holy Spirit. We must stay alert and be persistent in our prayers for all Christians everywhere. [Ephesians 6:10-18].