Posts by jdansmall

I'm a beggar on the trail looking for and sharing "bread crumbs" to make the journey better for all of us!

The Finale – Day 5

May 5, Tuesday

ACT THREE – The Battle Intensifies

SCENE 1 – Seven Trumpets

200 million horsemenThe seven angels who stand in the presence of God were each given a trumpet. Yet another angel approached the altar, carrying a smoking censer filled with much incense to offer up with the prayers of all the saints. As this was poured onto the altar, the smoke rose up before God together with the prayers.

Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and threw it down onto the earth. What an explosion that caused: thunderous noises, flashes of lightning, and a great earthquake. The seven angels raised their trumpets, ready to blow.

  1. When the first angel blew his trumpet, hail and fire mingled with blood were hurled at the earth. One third of the earth was burnt up, including one-third of all the trees. Every bit of grass was scorched and withered.
  2. The second angel blew his trumpet, and what looked like a huge mountain of fire was thrown into the ocean. A third of the waters turned to blood, a third of all sea creatures died, and a third of the world’s shipping industry was destroyed.
  3. Next, I watched as the third angel blew his trumpet. A star fell out of the sky, like a flaming meteor. It fell into a third of the rivers and fresh springs. The name of the star was Wormwood. A third of all fresh waters became poisonous; many people died after drinking it.
  4. At the sound of the fourth trumpet, one-third of the sun, moon, and stars went dark, resulting in a third less light on the earth both day and night.

A great eagle appeared, flying through the heavens. “TERROR! TERROR! TERROR!” he cried out. “Woe to all who live on earth because of the judgments yet to come in the final three trumpets!”

  1. The fifth trumpet sounded. Another star fell to the earth. This star had a key to the bottomless Pit; and when he opened it, smoke billowed out as from an enormous furnace. The smoke filled the sky, blocking out the light of the sun.

Gruesome locusts streamed out of the smoke:

  • They could sting like scorpions.
  • They were ordered not to bother plants or trees but only to afflict any humans who did not have the seal of God on their foreheads.
  • They couldn’t kill but could torture.
  • They oppressed the earth for five months.
  • Men wanted to die because of the horrendous pain, but they could not.
  • These locusts were unlike any creature I had ever seen before:
  • They looked like horses ready for battle.
  • Their faces looked human.
  • They had long hair like women.
  • On their heads were what appeared to be gold crowns.
  • Their teeth were long and sharp like lion’s teeth.
  • Their chests looked like they were steel plates.
  • As they flew, their wings made the sound of a vast army of chariots and horses charging into battle.
  • Poisonous venom was in their tails like scorpions.
  • This army of locusts was led by the king of the Pit whose name is The Destroyer. (In Hebrew his name is Abaddon; in Greek, Apollyon.)

The first terror is over but two more remain.

  1. The sixth angel blew his trumpet, and a voice spoke from the midst of the altar which stands in the presence of God. The voice commanded the sixth angel to “release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates!”

These four angels had been held back until just this moment. At this trumpet blast, they were released to kill one-third of all mankind.  What I saw was an army of horsemen:

  • There were two hundred million of them!
  • The riders wore armor that gleamed fiery red, sky blue, and pulsing yellow like brimstone.
  • The horses heads looked more like lions.
  • Their mouths spewed out fire, smoke, and sulphur so that a third of all mankind died from just that.
  • Their powerful tails also caused harm and were like serpents with heads.

Believe it or not, after all this devastation, those who remained alive on earth still refused to repent of their self-worship, their idolatry, their murders, their sorceries, their sexual sins, and their many thefts.

The Finale – Day 4

May 4, Monday

SCENE 2 – The Scroll is Opened

white robed around throneI saw the Lamb take the scroll and break open the first seal. Suddenly a voice thundered, “COME!” It was one of the four creatures who spoke, and a rider on a white horse sped past. The rider had a crown and took his bow to wage war on the earth.

When the second seal was broken, another of the four living creatures shouted, “COME!” Then I saw a rider on a red horse. He was carrying a great sword, and his job was to stir up conflict and remove all peace from the earth.

The third seal was broken. The third creature called for a rider on a black horse, who rode past holding a pair of scales. A voice in the midst of the creatures declared, “A loaf of bread for a whole day’s wage, so also three loaves of barley. Do not touch the oil and the wine.” He brought intense famine upon the whole earth.

As the fourth seal was broken and the fourth creature said, “COME!,” a pale yellowish-green horse approached whose rider was Death. The Grave followed close behind and they were given authority to wipe out one fourth of the earth by means of sword, famine, pestilence, and wild beasts.

The fifth seal was very different. Beneath the altar I saw the souls of all who had been martyred because of their testimony and the offense of the Word of God. They cried out in unison, “How long, O Lord, Holy and True, will You hold back from avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” Then I watched as each was given a white robe and told to wait just a little longer until more of their brethren joined them as martyrs.

When the Lamb broke the sixth seal, there was a great earthquake, the sun was darkened, and the moon turned blood red. Stars fell to the earth like ripe figs falling from trees in a windstorm, the sky was rolled up like a scroll, and mountains and islands disappeared.

By this point terror swept over the earth. From the highest world leaders, the rich and famous, and military generals, to the lowest class slaves, everyone ran for the hills and hid wherever they could find cover. I heard them praying to the rocks around them, saying, “Fall on us! Don’t let that One who sits on the throne see us!  Hide us from the wrath of the Lamb! The dreaded Day of Their anger has arrived and who can stand up to Them?”

SCENE 3 – Freeze Action on Earth, Protection Provided

A little later I could see four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the winds so that they would not blow at all. Then another angel came up from the east, carrying the seal of the living God. He called out to the four angels who had power to destroy, “Don’t touch the earth, the sea, or the trees until we have sealed the servants of our God upon their foreheads!”  These angels went out and marked twelve thousand from each of the twelve tribes of Israel (Judah, Reuben, Gad, Asher, Naphtali, Manasseh, Simeon, Levi, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph, and Benjamin), a total of 144,000.

Then suddenly a huge crowd was approaching the throne of the Lamb. They were dressed in dazzling white robes and held palm branches in their hands. I could tell that among the millions were people from every corner of the earth: every nation, every tribe, every language. In a thundering chorus they shouted, “Salvation belongs to our God Who sits upon the throne and to the Lamb!”

I saw encircling the throne all the angels, the elders, and the four living creatures, bowing down to the throne. Together they declared, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and authority and might belong to our God forever and ever!”

One of the twenty-four elders asked if I knew who this huge crowd dressed in white was or where they had come from. “No sir,” was my reply, “but surely you know.”

“Yes,” he answered, “they have just come out of the great tribulation. The white robes show that they have cleansed themselves in the blood of the Lamb.  That is why they have been given the honor of serving before God’s throne.

“Day and night as they minister to God, He will shelter them and be all that they need. Never again will they suffer hunger or thirst. The Lamb Who sits front and center on the throne will shepherd them, leading them to springs of living water and shading them from the scorching heat of the sun. God Himself will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

Then, as the Lamb broke the seventh seal, there was total silence throughout Heaven for what seemed like half an hour.

The Finale – Day 3

May 3, Sunday

ACT TWO – Heaven Declares War

SCENE 1 – The Lamb is Center Stage

around-the-throne-of-heavenAfter that I saw an open door leading into Heaven and I heard that trumpet-like Voice again, this time saying, “Come up here so I can show you what will happen next.”

Instantly I was in the Spirit and looking at a marvelous throne. But what really caught my attention was the One sitting on the throne! How can I describe the scene?

  • He radiated beauty like that of pure gems: jasper and carnelian, with an emerald-like rainbow encircling Him.
  • Surrounding His throne were twenty-four more thrones with twenty-four elders upon them. They wore white garments and had gold crowns on their heads.
  • Flashes of lightning and loud peals of thunder came from His throne.
  • There were seven lamps burning in front of the Throne, the seven Spirits of God.
  • Stretching out in front of the Throne was a crystal lake, clear as glass.

Four unusual creatures were hovering about the throne, each with six wings and with eyes on all sides of their bodies:

  • the first was like a lion,
  • the second was like a calf,
  • the third had a face like a man,
  • the fourth was like a flying eagle.

Day and night these creatures declare, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty, Who was and Who is and Who is to come.”

As they express this tribute to the One sitting on the throne, the twenty-four elders bow down before Him, lay their crowns at His feet, and add to the chorus of worship, saying, “You are worthy, O Lord! All glory, honor, and authority belongs to You because You created all things and everything exists for Your pleasure.”

Then I noticed that the One seated on the throne held a scroll in His right hand. It had writing on both sides but was sealed up with seven seals.

A mighty angel boomed out, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break the seals?”

But there was no one in heaven or on earth who qualified even to look into it. I began to weep over this until one of the elders said, “Wait! Stop your tears. Look, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome. He has authority to break the seals and open the scroll.”

That’s when I saw Him approach the throne — a Lamb, One that had obviously been sacrificed. He had seven horns and seven eyes which are the seven Spirits of God sent out into the whole earth. He came and took the scroll from the right hand of the One who sat on the throne.

As He took the scroll, the four creatures along with the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. They each had a harp and golden bowls full of smoking incense, which are the prayers of the saints. Then they began singing this new song:

“You are worthy to take the scroll and to break its seals, for You were slain.  With Your blood You have purchased for Your God men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. You have made them kings and priests to minister to God, and they will reign upon the earth.”

Joining them was the voice of countless angels, myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands. Together with the creatures and the elders, they said with a loud voice,

“Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive authority, riches, wisdom, strength, honor, glory, and blessing!”

Then I heard every creature in heaven, on earth, under the earth, and on the sea, every living thing everywhere, saying,

“To Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.”

The four living creatures kept saying, “Amen!” And the elders fell down and worshiped.

The Finale – Day 2

May 2, Saturday

7 lampstandsACT ONE- The Son of Man & The Seven Churches

It was the Day of the Lord and I was in the Spirit when suddenly I heard a loud Voice from behind me. It shook me like a trumpet-blast.

“Write down everything you see,” the Voice said, “and send it to the churches: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.”

I turned around to see Who was speaking, and there, standing among seven gold lampstands, was the Son of Man. He was wearing a kingly robe with a gold sash across His chest. His head and His hair were white like wool, as white as snow. His eyes blazed like they were on fire and His feet were glowing like bronze just taken from the furnace. His voice thundered like a mighty waterfall.

In His right hand He was holding seven stars, and out of His mouth was a sharp two-edged sword. His face glowed like the sun shining in full strength.

Overcome by His majestic presence, I fell at His feet like I was dead. Then He laid His right hand on me and said, “Don’t be afraid.  I am the First and the Last, the Living One. I was dead, but look, I am alive forever and I hold the keys of death and the grave.”

“So write down the things you have seen, the things that are going on right now, and the things that will be happening in the future.”

“The seven lampstands represent the seven churches to whom I am addressing this revelation, and the stars you saw in My hand are the seven angels of the seven churches.”


“To the Church in Ephesus I say,

“This message comes from the One Who holds the seven stars in His right hand, and Who walks among the seven golden lampstands.

“I know what you have done:

  • how hard you have worked,
  • what hardships you have endured,
  • that you won’t tolerate evil people,
  • how you cross-examined self-proclaimed ‘apostles’ proving them to be liars,
  • how you have suffered for My Name without giving up time after time,
  • and that you hate the immoral deeds of the Compromisers (Nicolaitans) as I do.

“But I hold this against you: you have left your first love.

“Remember how it was when you first believed. Return to loving Me as you did then. If you don’t do this, I will have to remove your lampstand.

“Let everyone listen to what the Spirit is saying to the Churches:

Those who overcome will get to eat from the tree of life which grows in the Paradise of God.”


“To the Church in Smyrna I say,

“This message comes from the First and the Last, Who was dead and has come to life again.

“I know:

  • the tribulation you go through,
  • your poverty (though you are really rich),
  • the slander you endure from those so-called Jews who are a synagogue of Satan.

Don’t fear what you will be suffering:

  • the devil will be having some of you put in prison,
  • your faith will be tested,
  • the distress will last for ten days.

“Be faithful in the face of death and I will give you the crown of life.

“Let everyone listen to what the Spirit is saying to the Churches:

Those who overcome will not be the least bit affected by the second death.”


“To the Church in Pergamum I say,

“This message comes from Him Who has the sharp two-edged sword.

“I know:

  • where you live — in Satan’s headquarters,
  • that you have stayed loyal to Me,
  • that your trust in Me didn’t waver even when Antipas, My faithful witness, was martyred before your eyes by Satan’s cohorts.

“But these things must change:

  • Some among you encourage moral compromise like Balaam did when he showed Balak how to seduce the children of Israel into doing evil.
  • Others in your group are caught up in the deception of the Nicolaitans.

“These had better repent quickly or I will fight against them with the sword of My mouth.

“Let everyone listen to what the Spirit is saying to the Churches:

To those who overcome I will give hidden manna and a white stone with a new name written on it, a name which only those who receive it will understand.”


“To the Church in Thyatira I say,

“This message comes from the Son of God Whose eyes blaze like fire and Whose feet shine like pure bronze.

“I know:

  • how much you have done for Me,
  • that you have loved Me and stayed loyal to Me,
  • how faithfully you have persevered in serving Me,
  • that you are doing even more now than you did at first.

“But this I hold against you: you tolerate that pseudo-prophetess “Jezebel” who deceives My servants with her seductive words, leading them into sexual immorality and fellowshipping with idolaters.

“I have given her time to repent but she has no desire to change her ways. Watch! I will throw her and her children onto a sickbed and they will suffer unto death unless they repent. Then all the Churches will know that I see into the secret places of men’s hearts and that I reward each according to their deeds.

“For those of you who haven’t fallen into her trap and learned “the deep things of Satan,” I simply ask that you hold on to what you have until I come.

“Let everyone listen to what the Spirit is saying to the Churches:

To those who overcome, who steadfastly serve Me to the end, I will give authority over the nations. They shall rule with a rod of iron and break them to pieces like useless pottery. I give them the morning star just as the Father gave Me His authority.”


“To the Church in Sardis I say,

“This message comes from Him Who holds in His hand the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars.

“I know about all your activity, which gives you a reputation as being alive when, in fact, you are quite dead.

“Wake up!

  • Strengthen what little you have before it dies: you start so many things but never follow through.
  • Think back to what you learned and received at first: take hold of those things and act on them.

“If you refuse to wake up, I will come to you like a thief; you’ll be caught completely by surprise!

“I know the names of those few left in Sardis who have “kept their garment clean.” They have earned the right to walk with Me in radiant glory.

Let everyone listen to what the Spirit is saying to the Churches:

Those who overcome will receive glorious white garments and I will never erase their names from the Book of Life. No, I will gladly declare their names to My Father and His angels.”


“To the Church in Philadelphia I say,

“This message comes from the One Who is holy and true, Who has the ‘key of David,’ the One Who opens doors so none can shut them and shuts doors so none can open them.

“I know how much you have accomplished.


  • Because you have been faithful to My message and not denied My Name but have used what little you were given to do so much, I have set before you a wide open door of opportunity that no one can close.
  • Those liars who claim to be Jews but are really of Satan’s synagogue will bow down before you and be forced to admit that I have loved you.
  • Since you’ve obeyed Me so thoroughly, I will keep you safe from the deep trouble the rest of the world is about to face.

“I am coming back soon; hold on to what you have and don’t let anyone steal your crown.

“Let everyone listen to what the Spirit is saying to the Churches:

Those who overcome I will make pillars in the Temple of My God, permanently established in His presence. I will write upon him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem which comes down from Heaven from My God. And I will write upon him My own new name.”


“To the Church in Laodicea I say,

“This message comes from the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Founder of God’s creation.

“I know all about your activities; they are neither hot nor cold. I wish you were cold or hot; but since you are lukewarm, I will spit you out of My mouth.

“You think of yourself as prosperous and quite successful. You’re blind to the fact that you are actually wretched, miserable, poverty-stricken, blind, and naked.

“Here’s My urgent advice to you:

  • Buy from Me that gold which is purified in the furnace so you can be truly rich.
  • Clothe yourselves with My white garments to cover your shameful nakedness.
  • Ask Me for salve to heal your blind eyes.

“I always correct and discipline those whom I love. Shake off your complacency. Humble yourself. Repent! I’m standing, knocking at the door. Listen! Do you hear My voice? Let Me into your life, and let us commune together.

“Let everyone listen to what the Spirit is saying to the Churches:

Those who overcome will have the privilege of sitting with Me on My throne just as I have overcome and sit beside My Father on His throne.”

The Finale – Day 1

What an unusual way to end a “book” — especially since we know from other historical resources what happened next.  Why this sudden “The End” in the middle of a page-turner about first-century world-changers?  Aha!  Maybe it wasn’t intended to be The End.  What we call The Book of Acts or The Acts of the Apostles was really never given an inspired title.  If Part One of the Trilogy (The Jesus’ Story) was God presenting His plan and solution for bringing about the perfect Kingdom of God, then Part Two (The Sequel) is the ongoing story of how the plan is taking shape in our lifetime(s). Just maybe the Author wanted to pull the reader into the action in such a way that by the time they reached yesterday’s blog, they’ve become part of the story themselves! I hope you’re “in.”

Working through the complex images and metaphors of Revelation, my brain felt rather like a pretzel, all twisted and randomly connected . . . or not.  But I just kept pushing forward, trying to visualize the scenes and organize the drama.  It wasn’t until I was finished with it that I realized the best way (at least at first) to take in The Finale is to experience it like a high-tech, Imax theatre production.  What do I mean?  When you go to a theatre to watch a cinematic thriller, you don’t get a remote control to pause the presentation every time there’s a character or plot twist you don’t understand.  No, you simply have to sit still and let the show go on from beginning to end.  After all, the director of the project mainly wants you to come away so gripped with the overall impact that you have to go back time and again to fit the pieces together.  That’s what you need to do with this complex little “thriller.”  Read it through.  Ask the Director what He mainly wants you to get from it first time through.  And now, buckle your seatbelts, The Finale is about to begin!

May 1, Friday

alpha omegaPROLOGUE – Narrator

This is God’s revelation of things to come, the Word from God regarding Jesus Christ. This Message was delivered to God’s bond-slave, John, by the Angel of the Lord.

A special blessing is promised to all who read these words, listen to them, and keep them. The time of fulfillment is very near.

I, John, am particularly addressing this to the seven Churches in Asia.

Grace to you and peace from Him

  • Who is,
  • Who was,
  • Who is coming;
  • from the seven Spirits before His throne;

and from Jesus Christ

  • The faithful Witness,
  • First-born of the dead,
  • Ruler of the kings of the earth.

Glory and never-ending dominion belong to Him who loves us

  • Who has released us from our sins by His own blood,
  • Who has made us into a Kingdom,
  • Who has made us priests to His God and Father.

Look! He is coming through the clouds! Every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him. The sight will bring every tribe on earth to its knees in bitter grief. Amen!

“I am the Beginning (Alpha) and the End (Omega),” declares the Lord God,
“Who is, Who was, and Who is to come,
the Supreme Almighty.”

This Word came to me when I was exiled on Patmos for declaring God’s Word and telling people about Jesus. We are brothers in Him, and in Him we share in suffering for the Kingdom and in patiently enduring all the difficulties we face, just as Jesus our Messiah did.

The Sequel – Day 23

April 30, Thursday

SnakebiteOnce we were safely on land, we discovered that the island was called Melita. The natives treated us with uncommon kindness. Because of the driving rain and cold, they lit a fire and made us all welcome.

Paul had collected a large bundle of sticks and was laying it on the fire when a viper, driven out by the heat, fastened itself on his hand. Seeing the creature hanging from his hand, the natives said to each other, “This man is obviously a murderer. He has escaped from the sea, but justice will not let him live.” But Paul shook the viper off into the fire. Nothing happened to him. Naturally they expected him to swell up or suddenly fall down dead; but after waiting a long time and seeing nothing untoward happen to him, they changed their minds and began saying he was a god.

In that part of the island were estates belonging to the governor, whose name was Publius. He welcomed us and entertained us most generously for three days. Now it happened that Publius’ father was lying ill with fever and dysentery. Paul visited him, prayed, laid his hands on him, and healed him. After that all the other sick people on the island came forward and were cured. Consequently they loaded us with presents; and when the time came for us to sail, they provided us with everything we needed.

However, it wasn’t until three months later that we set sail in an Alexandrian ship which had wintered in the island, a ship that had the astronomical twins, Pollux and Castor, as her figurehead. We put in at Syracuse and stayed there three days; from there we tacked round to Rhegium. A day later a south wind sprang up and we sailed to Puteoli, reaching it in only two days. There we found some of the brothers and they begged us to stay with them. After spending a week there, we finally made our way to Rome.


The brothers there had heard about us and journeyed about thirty miles south of the city to meet us at the Market of Appius and the Three Inns. When Paul saw them, he thanked God and was encouraged. In Rome Paul was given permission to live on his own, accompanied by just one soldier.

Three days later Paul invited the leading Jews to meet him. When they arrived, he spoke to them, “Brethren, although I have done nothing against our people or the customs of our forefathers, I was handed over to the Romans as a prisoner in Jerusalem. They examined me and were prepared to release me since they found me guilty of nothing deserving the death penalty. But the objections of the Jews there forced me to appeal to Caesar — not that I had any accusation to make against my own nation. It is because of this accusation of the Jews that I have asked to see you and talk this over with you. The fact is that I am wearing these chains on account of the hope of Israel.”

But they replied, “We have received no letters about you from Judea, nor have any of the brothers come here with complaints against you, officially or unofficially. We want to hear you state your views; although as far as this sect is concerned, we do know that serious objections have been raised to it everywhere.”

When they had arranged a day for him, they came to his lodging in great numbers. From morning till evening he explained the Kingdom of God to them, giving his personal testimony, trying to persuade them about Jesus from the Law of Moses and the Prophets. As a result several of them were persuaded by his words, but others would not believe.

As they could not reach any agreement among themselves and began to go away, Paul added these final words, “The Holy Spirit nailed it when He spoke to your forefathers through the prophet Isaiah, saying, ‘Go to the people and say, ‘Even though you hear, you won’t understand; and even if I show you, you still won’t see it. For the heart of this people has grown dull; their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears; lest they should understand with their heart and turn, so that I should heal them.’

“From now on the Message of salvation of our God has been sent to the Gentiles, at least they will listen to it!”

So Paul stayed for two full years in his own rented apartment, welcoming all who came to see him. He proclaimed to them all the Kingdom of God and gave them the teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ with complete freedom and without hindrance from anyone.

Finally, then . . .

It’s been almost two years since I started this blog with this entry:

Just a word about the Finally, then . . . title for my blog.  I don’t mean for it to sound ominous.  It’s somewhat tongue-in-cheek as I recall several places in the New Testament where the author invokes this “concluding statement” and then proceeds to write page after page.  The fact is, we don’t know (most of us) when FINALLY will happen to our earthsuit.  But, we don’t walk around with our head in the sand when symptoms appear suggesting major life-threatening conditions.  So, this blog may last a few weeks, months, or years -as the Lord wills!  Meanwhile, I’ll pass on some “concluding statements” you might find helpful as you run the race (or crawl the path).

Oh, and a word about HOME.  I like how C. S. Lewis put it: “If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”  I really like his use of the word DESIRE because I’m coming to believe that what we DESIRE is the most important thing about us!

And what two years it has been.  Riddled with great health for 58 years of my life and having more energy than should be legal (at least some thought so), I was alive and well!

Somewhere in the course of things my DNA misfired and decided it needed to protect my system from something so it turned my bone marrow into scar tissue and proceeded to mass-produce white cells in my spleen of all places!  I’ll spare the details but I’ve been to specialists and prayer meetings and tried home remedies, essential oils, even a few non-essential things, too.

The best we could do was use an oral chemo (trans. “poison”) to kill off as many excess white cells as possible to prevent the spleen from blowing up -or whatever happens when your body has zillions too many white blood cells.  It was a month-by-month chess game: I’d get blood drawn, see the big number after WBC and we’d decide how many pills I have to take every day.  The next month it may be way down and I can cut back -no clear science on this.

Well, the time has come, as it does for everyone, to face the fact that the meds surrendered the fight.  My surrender to that fact came this past Sunday after another trip to ER only to discover that because of the “advanced state” of my cancer, thrush (yeast infection) in the mouth and throat was “normal.”  Oh, and my WBC was at 136,000 in spite of how many pills I was taking.  After a week of not being able to eat because of the mouth/throat pain I lost another 12 lbs.

Do I have you fully onboard my pity train?  Sorry if it sounds like the rantings of a lonely opportunist.  I don’t mean it that way.  It’s a soft way of leading to this:

I am officially OFF MEDS!  except pain-blockers (YEA, pain-blockers!!!)  I am officially on HOSPICE!!  No More Hospital trips, Dr. appointments, etc.

So, what happens next?  I don’t have a clue.  I hope to make some calls today to folks who’ve observed this happen before to see what we might expect.  I suspect that it won’t take long for those WBC’s to take over one or more of my organs, declare a coup, and bid me adieu.  Days?  Weeks?  If it’s going to be days and nights filled with more and more pain meds, sooner sounds better to me.

Meanwhile, lift up my precious bride and our dear children.  They’ll have lots of my half-baked ideas to take out, not too many nest eggs to harvest, and a whole life ahead of them.

I am eternally grateful for a heritage that includes a deeply embedded confidence that “The Lord is my Helper, what shall I fear?”

We’ll hope to get the rest of the Jesus Trilogy scheduled on the blog and then, maybe, someday, in print.  At the end of the day, when it’s all been said and done, “Just give me Jesus!”

The Sequel – Day 22

April 29, Wednesday

St Paul: The Great ShipwreckOnce it was determined that we should set sail for Italy, Paul and some other prisoners were put under the charge of a centurion named Julius from the emperor’s own regiment. We embarked on a ship hailing from Adramyttium, bound for the Asian ports, and set sail. Among our company was Aristarchus, a Macedonian from Thessalonica. On the following day we put in at Sidon, where Julius treated Paul most considerately by allowing him to visit his friends and to accept their hospitality. From Sidon we put out to sea again and sailed on the sheltered side of Cyprus since the wind was against us.

When we had crossed the gulf that lies off the coasts of Cilicia and Pamphylia, we arrived at Myra in Lycia. There the centurion found an Alexandrian ship bound for Italy and we boarded her.  After several days of slow progress we approached Cnidus; but since the wind was still blowing against us, we sailed under the shelter of Crete and rounded Cape Salmone.  It was with much difficulty that we came to a place called Fair Havens, near which is the city of Lasea. We had by now lost a great deal of time, and sailing had become dangerous as it was so late in the year.

Paul warned them, saying, “Men, I can see that this voyage is likely to result in damage and considerable loss, not only of ship and cargo but even of our lives as well.”

But Julius paid more attention to the pilot and the captain than to Paul’s words of warning. Besides, since the harbor at Fair Haven is unsuitable for a ship to winter in, the majority were in favor of setting sail again in the hope of reaching Phoenix and wintering there. Phoenix is a harbor in Crete, facing both southwest and northwest.

So when a moderate breeze sprang up, thinking they had obtained just what they wanted, they weighed anchor and coasted along, hugging the shores of Crete. But we hadn’t gone far before a terrific wind, which they call a northeaster, swept down upon us from the land. The ship was caught by it; and since she could not be brought up into the wind, we had to let it drive us. Running under the lee of a small island called Clauda, we managed with some difficulty to secure the ship’s boat. After hoisting it aboard, cables were used to reinforce the ship. To make matters worse, there was a risk of drifting onto the Syrtis banks, so the crew set the anchor and drifted. The next day, as we were still at the mercy of the violent storm, they began to throw cargo overboard. On the third day, with their own hands the sailors threw the ship’s tackle over the side. After all that we were still being whipped around mercilessly by the storm without seeing sun or stars for days. All hope of our being saved was lost.

Nobody had eaten anything for several days when Paul came forward among the men and said, “Men, if you would have listened to me and not set sail from Crete, we would not have suffered this damage and loss. However, now I beg you to take courage; for no one’s life is going to be lost, though we shall lose the ship. I know this because last night the angel of the God to Whom I belong and Whom I serve stood by me and said, ‘Don’t be afraid, Paul! You must stand before Caesar. God has graciously extended His favor to preserve the lives of all those who are sailing with you.’ Take courage then, men, for I believe God. I am convinced that everything will happen exactly as I have been told. But we shall have to run the ship ashore on some island.”

On the fourteenth night of the storm as we were drifting in the Adriatic Sea, about midnight the sailors sensed that we were nearing land. When they measured, they found the water to be one hundred twenty feet deep. After sailing on only a little way, they measured again and it was just ninety feet. Fearing that we might crash against the rocks, they threw out four anchors from the stern and prayed for daylight.

Some of the sailors wanted to desert the ship.  They got as far as letting down a boat into the sea, pretending that they were going to run out anchors from the bow. But Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, “Unless these men stay aboard the ship, there is no hope of your being saved.” At this the soldiers cut the ropes of the boat and let her fall away.

While everyone waited for the day to break, Paul urged them to take some food, saying, “For two weeks now you’ve had no food: you haven’t eaten a bite while you’ve been on watch. Now take some food, please. You need it for your own well-being, for not a hair of anyone’s head will be lost.” When he had said this, he took some bread; and after thanking God before them all, he broke it and began to eat. This raised everybody’s spirits and they began to take food themselves. There were about two hundred seventy-six of us aboard the ship. When we had eaten enough, they lightened the ship by throwing the remaining grain over the side.

When daylight came, no one recognized the land. In the dim light of dawn they could make out a bay with a sandy shore where they planned to beach the ship if they could. So they cut away the anchors and abandoned them in the sea.  At the same time they cut the ropes which held the steering-oars. Then they hoisted the foresail to catch the wind and made for the beach. But they struck a reef where the two seas converge and the ship ran aground. The bow stuck fast while the stern began to break up under the force of the waves.

The soldiers’ plan had been to kill the prisoners in case any of them should try to swim to shore and escape. But the centurion, wanting to save Paul, stopped them and gave orders that all who could swim should jump overboard first and get to land; the rest should follow on planks and on the wreckage of the ship. In this way everyone reached the shore in safety.

The Sequel – Day 21

April 28, Tuesday

paul-agrippaThe next day, Agrippa and Bernice proceeded to the audience chamber with great pomp and ceremony, which included an escort of military officers and prominent townsmen. Festus ordered Paul to be brought in and proceeded to address the gathering, “King Agrippa and all who are present, I present before you the man about whom the Jewish people both at Jerusalem and in this city have petitioned me. They keep insisting that he ought not to live any longer, but I, for my part, discovered nothing that he has done which deserves the death penalty.

“Now that he has appealed to Caesar I must send him to Rome.  I have nothing specific to write to the emperor about him and have therefore brought him forward before you all, and especially before you, King Agrippa. I trust that from your examination of him there may emerge some charge which I may put in writing. For it is embarrassing to me to send a prisoner before the emperor without indicating the charges against him.”

Then Agrippa said to Paul, “You have our permission to speak for yourself.”

So Paul, gesturing with his hand, began his defense:

“King Agrippa, in answering all the charges that the Jews have made against me, I consider it a privilege to be making my defense before you personally today. I know that you are thoroughly familiar with all the customs and disputes that exist among the Jews. Please bear with me as I present my case.

“It is known to all the Jews that I grew up among my own people in Jerusalem from my youth. If they would admit it, they know that I lived as a Pharisee according to the strictest sect of our religion.

“Even today I stand here on trial because of a hope that I hold in a promise God made to our forefathers, a promise for which our twelve tribes served God zealously day and night, hoping to see it fulfilled. It is because of this hope, your Majesty, that I am being accused by the Jews!  I cannot understand why it should seem impossible to anyone here that God will raise the dead.

“There was a time when I felt it was my duty to oppose the name of Jesus of Nazareth. Right there in Jerusalem with the authorization of the chief priests, I had many of God’s people imprisoned and on trial for their lives. I gave my vote against them. Time and again in all the synagogues, I had them punished; I did everything I could to get them to deny their Lord. I was mad with fury against them, and I hounded them to distant cities.

“Once, your Majesty, on my way to Damascus, armed with the full authority and commission of the chief priests, my journey was interrupted at high-noon when a light from Heaven, far brighter than the sun, blazed around me and my companions. We all fell to the ground and I heard a voice saying to me in Hebrew, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It’s time for you to stop kicking against your own conscience.’

“‘Who are you, Lord?’ I asked. And the Lord said to me, ‘I am Jesus Whom you are persecuting. Now get up and stand on your feet for I have shown Myself to you for a reason.  You are chosen to be My servant and a witness to what you have seen of Me today and of other visions of Myself which I will give you. I will keep you safe from both your own people and from the Gentiles to whom I now send you. I send you to open their eyes, to turn them from darkness to light, from the power of Satan to God Himself, so that they may know forgiveness of their sins and take their place with all those who are uniquely identified by their trust in Me.’

“So you see, King Agrippa, I could not disobey the heavenly vision. I proclaimed the Message in Damascus and in Jerusalem, through the whole of Judea, and to the Gentiles. Everywhere I went, I preached that men should admit they’ve been living for themselves, repent and turn to God, and let Him change them from the inside out. This is why the Jews seized me in the Temple and tried to kill me. God has been my help and I stand here as a witness to both rulers and peasants. My Message is nothing more than what the prophets foretold should take place; that is, that the Messiah should suffer and that He should be first to rise from the dead. This is the Message of light which I declare boldly both to our people and to the Gentiles!”

Festus wasn’t buying any of this. He blurted out in the midst of Paul’s statement, “You are crazy, Paul! All your learning has gone to your head!”

But Paul replied, “No, your Excellency, I am not out of my mind. I am speaking truth. The king here understands what I’m talking about because none of it has been done in secret.” Addressing King Agrippa directly, Paul said, “You believe the Prophets, don’t you? I’m sure you do.”

“You keep this up, Paul,” returned Agrippa, “and before long you will be making me a Christian!”

“O King,” Paul replied, “whether it happens ‘before long’ or down the road, I would to God that both you and all who can hear me today might become what I am — except for these chains, of course.”

Then the king and the other dignitaries stood up and excused themselves from the assembly. They discussed the matter among themselves and agreed, “This man is doing nothing to deserve either death or imprisonment.” Agrippa commented to Festus, “He might easily have been released if he had not appealed to Caesar.”

The Sequel – Day 20

April 27, Monday

Paul and FelixSome days later Felix along with his wife Drusilla, herself a Jewess, sent for Paul and enquired about the Message of Christ Jesus. However, while Paul was talking about goodness, self-control, and the judgment to come, Felix became troubled and dismissed him, saying, “That will be enough for now. When I find time, I will send for you again.” He was actually hoping that Paul would pay him money, which is why Paul was frequently summoned to come and talk with him. However, after two years had passed, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus; and as Festus wanted to curry favor with the Jews, he left Paul in prison.

Just three days after Festus had taken over his duties as Governor, he went up from Caesarea to Jerusalem. While he was there, the chief priests and elders of the Jews informed him of the case against Paul and urged him to have Paul sent to Jerusalem. They had already made a plot to kill him on the way. But Festus replied that Paul was in custody in Caesarea, and that he himself was going there shortly.

“What you must do,” he told them, “is to provide some competent men of your own to go down with me.  They can present their charges against him there.”

About ten days later Festus returned to Caesarea from Jerusalem.  The very next day he took his seat on the bench and ordered Paul to be brought in. As soon as he arrived, the Jews from Jerusalem pressed in around him, bringing all kinds of serious accusations with no evidence whatsoever.  Paul defended himself by simply stating, “I have committed no offence in any way against the Jewish Law, against the Temple, or against Caesar.”

But Festus, wishing to gain favor with the Jews, asked Paul, “Are you prepared to go up to Jerusalem and stand your trial over these matters in my presence there?”

Paul replied, “Here I stand in Caesar’s tribunal which is where I should be judged. I have done the Jews no harm, as you very well know. If I were proven to be a criminal and had committed some crime which deserved the death penalty, I would willingly accept the sentence of death. But since there is no truth in the accusations these men have made, I am not prepared to be used as a means of gaining their favor.  I appeal to Caesar!”

Then Festus, after a brief meeting with his council, replied to Paul, “You have appealed to Caesar.  Then to Caesar you shall go!”

Some days later King Agrippa and Bernice arrived at Caesarea on a state visit to Festus. They prolonged their stay for some days and Festus spoke with him about Paul’s case, saying, “I have here a man who was left a prisoner by Felix. Recently, while I was in Jerusalem, the chief priests and Jewish elders made allegations against him and demanded his conviction!

“I explained to them that the Romans were not in the habit of handing someone over to their accusers until they had been given the opportunity of defending themselves on the charges made against them. Since these Jews came back here with me, I wasted no time in pursuing the case. However, once the prosecution got up to speak, their charges weren’t at all what I had expected.

“Their charges had to do with their religion and a certain Jesus who had died, but whom Paul claimed to be still alive. Since I did not feel qualified to adjudicate the matter, I asked the man if he would be willing to go to Jerusalem and stand trial there. It was at that point that he appealed to have his case reserved for the decision of the Emperor himself. So I ordered him to be kept in custody until I could send him to Caesar.”

Then Agrippa said to Festus, “I would like to hear this man myself.”

“Then you shall hear him tomorrow,” replied Festus.