Thursday’s Prayers for America (2/11/2016)

I felt the Lord whisper to my heart: “My church is a bunch of nice losers. They lay their hands on the sick and pray for them, but when they die, they aren’t mad at all. They don’t check themselves out to see what happened or what went wrong with their prayers and actions. They accept defeats and don’t think anymore about them.

“Now, Major League baseball teams are all filled with good players. Each player has to be one of the best in the world to make it to the Major Leagues. Losing teams have good players on their rosters, too. But after a while, losing teams’ players don’t mind losing because after all, they still receive their Major League paychecks and bonuses.

“But winning Major League baseball teams are different. They hate losing and will do anything and whatever it takes to win. They hate losing.

“I want My church to hate losing!”

This time the grief, which hit me, measured a ten on the Richter Scale. It was so bad my sister leaned toward me.

“Don’t you think you should go outside and get a hold of yourself,” she whispered.

If I had attempted to move, I would have fallen on the floor. Everything would have erupted out of me, making a bad situation much worse than it was. The grief lifted after a few minutes, but I sat on pins and needles for the rest of the funeral service.

(Excerpt from my memoir, The Hunt for Larry Who by Larry Nevenhoven, ©2014, Amazon eBook)

My prayer today:

Lord, help us American believers to do all things for the sake of the Gospel so we may partake of its blessings. Help us to run the race with purpose in every step and to fight, not as mere shadowboxers who only beat the air. Show us how to win and to hate losing. (Based on 1 Corinthians 9:23-26)

What do you think and has the Lord spoken to you today?

Join with me on Thursdays to fast and pray for America.

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O Lord, I’m 70 Years Old Today!

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The rootin’ tootin’ square shooting’ young hombre riding his imaginary steed and wearing black KEDS sneakers has turned seventy years old  today. O Lord!

The Searchers, starring John Wayne, Jeff Hunter, Ward Bond, Vera Miles, and Natalie Wood, is one of my favorite western movies. It tells the story of Ethan and Martin tracking down fifteen year-old Debbie, who had been captured in an Indian raid years earlier. But a side story holds my interest today.

Mose Harper, an old Indian scout for the U.S. Calvary, had one hope for his senior years: sitting in a rocking chair on a front porch so he could watch time pass by. Mose eventually got his wish at the end of the movie.

Well, I’m not a Mose Harper.

The passion the Lord placed in my heart almost thirty years ago has not lessened in the least. Oh, it’s been contained and hidden on the back side of the desert for years, but it’s still ready to explode forth for the Gospel of the Kingdom of God.

You see, my heroes are not John Wayne and Jeff Hunter, but rather, Paul the Apostle, General William Booth of the Salvation Army, Hudson Taylor, and every believer who has advanced the Kingdom in his generation without regard to his own welfare.

“When the Apostle Paul traveled to a city, a riot or a revival was the end result.” (Leonard Ravenhill)

So, hopefully by my 71st birthday, I will either be stirring up believers or in jail.

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Short Story: “A Day Late And A Dollar Short” (Conclusion)

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The next morning, my twenty-seven year old assistant accounting manager sat next to my desk when I arrived at 7:45. He looked up from his iPhone and nodded as I laid my laptop on the desk. I held my Starbucks coffee in one hand and sat down, taking a quick sip from the cup.

“Have you heard?” he said, in between glances at his iPhone.

“Heard what, Sammy?” I asked, placing the coffee on the desk and turning toward him.

“About Rawlings, Edgars, and Sanchez,” he said, leaning toward me, his brown eyes locked on mine. “They quit yesterday.”

“Really? Why?”

“Wait till you hear this,” he whispered. “They quit because supposedly a prophet told them San Francisco is going to be nuked soon. Have you ever heard of such a dumb thing?”

I shrugged and said nothing about my visit with Dr. Bob.

“What are they going to do?”

“Rawlings is moving to Nevada. Edgars is heading to Wyoming. Sanchez is going to Fargo, North Dakota. Jackson, why in the world would anyone move to Fargo, North Dakota? They probably don’t even have Thai food there.”

I removed my laptop from its case and booted it up.

“Well, the three will have to live with their decisions.”

Sammy took the hint and left.

I logged onto the company network and checked emails. My eyes scanned the messages, but nothing registered in my brain. Four intelligent people believe San Francisco is going to be bombed to smithereens, I thought. How many other people believe the story?

My curiosity kicked in and I clicked on Google, typing on the search line: San Francisco, nuclear bomb, prophecy. 72,234 results showed up in 0.25 seconds. I checked through a few items and knew a narrower search was needed.

Knock. Knock.

I clicked out of Google and turned toward the door. Elrod Farrow, the division manager, stood there and as usual, he was dressed to the max with a pinstriped suit, white shirt, and blue tie. His character matched his outfit: starched and stuffy.

“Jackson, do you have a minute?”

“Sure. Come on in.”

He walked in and sat down in the chair next to me. He reached his hand out, offering it to me. I shook it.

“Congratulations, Mr. Multimillionaire.”

“What?”

“The SEC filing has just gone through. TyRex Inc. will have its IPO sometime in May. Morgan Stanley expects the price to be somewhere between $30 and $40 per share. If I worked the figures accurately, you will be worth at least $4.5 million for your stock options alone. Not bad for an old Stanford halfback who was a step slow for the NFL, but bright enough to get a CPA, right?”

Both of my hands clenched into fists and shot up into the air.

“Oh, yeah!” I shouted.

Farrow stood up, patted me on the back, and left.

Four million five hundred thousand dollars. $4.5 million. $4,500,000. No matter how you write it, that’s a lot of money. And yes, there are people who will say money can’t buy you happiness, but it sure erases a lot of worries, even nuclear bomb ones.

The next thing I did was check out the cost of airfare and hotels in Thailand on the Internet. I deserved a vacation.

 

Seven weeks later, on the first Sunday in February, the sun shone brightly. But we natives know the weather can change quickly so I carried an umbrella with me as I walked to a local Starbucks. I ordered a large coffee and sat down in an easy chair, which was part of a four-chair setting, surrounding a large round coffee table. The other chairs were empty.

A copy of the Sunday Chronicle lay in the middle of the table. I picked it up and scanned the front page. A bold headline, “Are Christians Acting Crazy Again,” captured my eyes. I thumbed through the newspaper’s pages until I found the full article.

The journalist replayed the words of Bob and the three computer programmers in the telling of a possible nuclear catastrophe occurring in San Francisco. He contrasted the actions with what Christians were doing and saying with what Harold Camping and his zealots did a few years earlier.

Camping’s followers believed his doomsday prophecies, too. They quit their jobs, wasted their money, and then nothing happened. Although the zealots felt the pain of losing everything, their total financial affect on America amounted to less than a drop of water in the Pacific Ocean.

This time was different.

The article estimated 40,000 Christian families packed up and left San Francisco. A few, like Bob, sold their homes and their businesses at deep discounts, but most were less fortunate. The sheer glut of homes dropping onto the real estate and rental markets depressed housing prices in the city almost overnight.

Even more than that, 40,000 Christian families amounted to an estimated total of 156,000 people or 20% of the city’s population. The numbers further broke down into 60,000 job losses, $1.8 billion of gross income losses, and $400 million of tax losses for the city. The losses had already begun to fuel layoffs at schools and retail stores. The Christians shredded San Francisco’s economy into pieces by their mass departures.

“What do you think of the article about the Christians?”

I lowered the paper and looked at a middle-aged woman with green eyes sitting in a chair across from me. Her deep voice did not match her petite shape and thin lips. Although not beautiful, her face had an alluring radiance about it.

“I don’t know what to think,” I replied.

“Do you think God will destroy San Francisco because the city cares about gays and lesbians?”

I shrugged.

“Good question.”

“Or do you think God is just mean?”

“I don’t know.”

“Well, I do.”

“Really?”

“Yes, I do,” she said, moving forward in her seat. “God is a God of love. He loves gays and lesbians. He loves people. He would never allow San Francisco to be bombed. Those fundamentalists are so deceived…they just make me want to scream.”

I laughed.

“My name is Jackson Edwards. What’s yours?”

“Holly Brightman.”

“Do you always get so worked up over fundamentalist Christians?”

“Yes, I do. My dad pastored a fundamentalist church forty years ago. I’ve listened to a thousand sermons about how God is always angry with sinners. It wasn’t until I attended Berkeley I learned there are progressive Christians who understand that God is a God of love.”

“Sounds interesting.”

She looked at her watch and jumped up.

“I have to go. I have a meeting at nine, but maybe we’ll see each other again,” she said, waving her hand and heading toward the door.

I watched her leave, wishing I had asked for her phone number.

Talk radio, TV, and other media ranted about the newspaper article over the next week and how San Francisco’s citizens were left holding the bag because of the Christians’ departure. Politicians jumped into the fray, adding their two bit’s worth. Some even advocated bills not allowing new churches to be opened in the Bay Area.

Everyone had an opinion about the Christians and why they left San Francisco.

 

Spring officially arrived on the first Saturday in April with the Giants’ opening day game scheduled for that afternoon. I had two tickets and a date with Holly, but before any of that happened, I had some accounting work to do.

I began the day, drinking coffee and eating toast while sitting on the leather sofa in the living room. My laptop sat on the coffee table, waiting to be booted up so I could log onto the company network. The clock read 6:30 a.m. I figured the work would be finished by 10:00, still plenty of time to get ready for the game.

I looked out the window toward the morning lights in Chinatown and the San Francisco Bay. Then it happened.

A burst of powerful light lit up the dreary morning skies. It seemed a thousand times brighter than any flash of lightning I had ever seen. The intense light temporarily blinded me so I did not witness the mushroom death cloud rising into the air, but I knew it had to be there. The explosion’s heat caused instant third degree burns on my face and arms. It happened too fast for me to scream aloud, but the pain was excruciating.

A nuclear shock wave then spread out from the explosion, slamming against our five-story building. The building imploded. Ceilings, I-beams, roof, and debris fell on me. Then, two hundred and thirty mile per hour winds slammed against the building’s carcass and reversed itself. When the winds finally quieted down, little remained of my million-dollar condo.

A steel I-beam and its debris covered my hips and legs down to my feet. All feeling was gone below my waist. I could move my arms, but the weight was too much to move without leg power. I lay there helpless and scared.

I drifted in and out of consciousness over the next twenty-four hours. In one of my alert times, my hand touched the laptop resting behind my head. I powered it up. No Internet, but I could at least type on the keyboard.

Who knows? Maybe somebody will eventually read my story and learn how stupid I felt lying here, suffering in pain, and waiting to die, because I trusted the opinions of politicians and news commentators over my friend, Dr. Bob. That’s water over the dam and too late to help me now. Que sera, sera.

If only I had

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Short Story: “A Day Late And A Dollar Short” (Part 1)

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If you are reading this, then I’m dead and will forever remain sixty-six years old.

If you are a searcher, looking through the rubble for survivors or their remains, thanks for trying. I appreciate your efforts. If you are a looter who picked up my MacBook Air because you wanted it, consider the laptop a gift from me. I won’t need it anymore. But whatever your reasons, it makes no difference because I’m dead and just glad someone is reading my story.

Oh yeah, my name is Jackson Edwards.

Maybe I better get on with it because I’m drifting off more and more because of the pain.

 

It all began when my doorbell rang a few months ago.

Ding. Dong.

I hit pause on the TV remote and stood up. My sciatica and arthritis ached more than usual so I stretched myself, hoping to work out the kinks, before reaching for the doorknob. Halloween had passed two weeks earlier, but I still took no chances and looked through the peephole first. I saw my bearded neighbor standing in the hallway and opened the door.

“Monsieur Roberto,” I said with a lousy French accent.

“Si vou ples, Monsieur Jackson,” he said in his own second rate accent, pointing toward the living room.

“Come in, my Charismaniac friend.”

He laughed and walked into the living room and sat down on the sectional. I followed and sat on the opposite side of the coffee table in the leather recliner.

“I don’t know where to begin,” he said, rubbing his hands together.

His blue eyes checked out the oak floor that his jogging shoes rested upon. Something bothered him.

“What’s wrong?” I asked. “Don’t you usually start with John 3:16 and work your way through the rest of the Bible when you come here?”

“Hey, man, I’m sorry if I’ve ever whacked you over the head with my Bible.”

“Just yanking your chain, Dr. Bob.”

He sighed.

“Okay, but I still don’t know where to start.”

“Why not at the beginning? It’s only 7 p.m. and we have all night.”

He nodded and rubbed his forehead with a hand.

“Do you remember four years ago when I told you about a vision a Christian woman had about a gigantic ocean wave hitting Japan? Do you remember that?”

“Vaguely,” I whispered, not being totally honest because I remembered the story quite well. In fact, I even did research on Google and discovered numerous other warnings spoken ahead of time about the tsunami.

“Okay,” he said. “Well, this same woman just had a vision of a nuclear blast hitting us here in San Francisco ─”

“Really?”

“Yes, and not only that, a prophet friend from Albuquerque called and told us a disaster would soon hit the Bay Area. He recommended we should pack up and leave now.”

“Hmm,” I said, leaning forward in the recliner. “What are you going to do?”

“Mary and I sold our condo today, furniture and all. We’re moving to an area near Tahoe.”

“What about your medical practice? And your two kids”

“My two partners bought out my share and we’ll homeschool our kids.”

Everything moved too fast to grab a hold of what he was telling me.

“Well, it’ll take sixty days or so for everything to close, right? So, we’ll have plenty of time to talk in the future.”

I stood up, hoping to end this uncomfortable conversation.

“No, sadly, we won’t. I made cash deals and sold everything for sixty cents on the dollar.”

I fell backwards into the recliner and shook my head.

“You took a four hundred thousand dollar loss on your condo?”

“I would have given it away if I had to.”

I opened my mouth and closed it. How do you challenge a person who is willing to turn his back on a fabulous way of life in the city he loved? I know I could never have done it. It had been too hard building a forty-year career in Silicon Valley to end up tossing it away. And a million dollar condo on Nob Hill? That would have been a laughable goal back in the days of my youth, living in the inner city of Oakland.

“Is this goodbye?” I asked.

He nodded and stood up, offering his hand to me. I stood and shook hands with him.

“Listen, Jackson, why don’t you come along with us? Mary and I really feel some bad things are going to happen in San Francisco and we don’t want anything to happen to you. We love you.”

“No way, I’ll take my chances here on Nob Hill,” I said, shaking my head. I winked my eye and added, “Just remember, my white Charismaniac friend, I’m still one of them jive-talking, hustle-or-die blacks from the inner city. We know how to survive.”

Bob turned and left. I never saw him again.

 

Dr. Bob’s declaration upset me so much I immediately rushed into the kitchen and made myself a cup of black tea. Coffee was my morning slap in the face, but tea was my meditative brew of choice. My former wife, an English gal from Liverpool, taught me this ritual in our four years of marriage.

“Jackson, you need a cuppa now,” she proclaimed whenever she noticed my neck muscles tightening.

I miss her, I thought, carrying my tea and a shortbread cookie into the living room. Too bad she wanted children. Oh well, women have never been hard to find for an ex-Stanford athlete like me. This time I just need to focus my 160 IQ on the right one.

I sat down in the recliner and sipped some tea.

Ring.

I looked at my cell phone and knew the call could not be ducked.

“Hi Mama.”

“Jackson, I missed you Sunday. Where were you?”

“Sorry Mama, I had a project.”

“On Sunday?”

“I was stuck with a Monday morning deadline.”

“Honey, I’m eighty-six years old and need some time with you, too. I won’t live forever, you know?”

“I know, I know. Maybe next Sunday, okay?”

Dead air space on the phone with Mama meant churning wheels inside her brain.

“Jackson –”

“Yes, Mama?” I replied, gritting my teeth.

“What’s wrong with you?”

“Nothing, Mama.”

“Don’t lie. Your mama always knows when something is wrong with you.”

I blew out a breath and then told her about Dr. Bob’s visit and his nuclear bomb revelation.

“Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!”

“You can say that again, Mama.”

“You need to return to church, son.”

“Mama, you know I’m not into that right now.”

“It’s time to put an end to that silly nonsense of yours,” she said. “Did you know Father Kerry has returned to St. Edwards?”

“Father Kerry, huh? I was an altar boy for him over fifty years ago.”

“He asked about you Sunday. Why don’t you give him a call?”

“Mama, please.”

“Okay, Jackson, but the church is the answer for your nuclear bomb worries.”

The conversation soon sailed into safer waters and focused on my two brothers and their families. My tea was cold when the call ended so I went to bed.

(Excerpt from Unhinged Geezer by Larry Nevenhoven, © 2015, Amazon eBook)

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“Prayer…Oh no! Has it Come Down to that?” (Part 3)

"Stöwer Titanic" by Willy Stöwer.

“Stöwer Titanic” by Willy Stöwer.

Donald Trump looked up from the desk as I walked into his office on the top floor of the Trump Towers. His blue eyes stared at me without really seeing me. Then he looked down at his Rolex watch. “Yes?” he asked.

I stopped in front of his desk and cleared my throat. My legs felt weak in his presence.

“Mr. Trump, I need twelve hundred dollars for my February rent and six hundred dollars for two car payments.”

“Do I know you?” he asked, leaning his broad shoulders across the desk.

“No, not really.”

“Then why should I give you eighteen hundred dollars?”

“Because you have money and I have an emergency need.”

Donald Trump smiled and pointed toward the door. “Get out and don’t come back, okay?”

The above is a ridiculous bit of fiction. It is not intended to put Donald Trump or his charity nature down in any way. Who knows? Maybe Trump would count out twenty one-hundred dollar bills and say, “Keep the change.”

Yet, I wrote it to underline an important point:

And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him. (Hebrews 11:6 NLT)

If we want answered prayers, we have to believe that God is more real than any human being, more accessible than any other person in the whole world, more willing to listen to us, has the power to handle all of our needs, and actually wants to help us. Why would He do this for us? Because we believe He exists and will reward us for seeking Him.

This is where the rubber meets the road for us believers. We must obey what Jesus said: “Have faith in God.”

(Continued in Part 4)

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Thursday’s Prayers for America (2/4/2016)

In August 70 A.D., the Roman army under the command of General Titus, destroyed Jerusalem. Josephus stated that over one million Jews were slaughtered, most of them were unarmed citizens, and killed wherever they were caught. Pregnant women had their stomachs slashed open and their babies smashed against stones. Hundreds of Jews were burnt to death on the roof of the Temple as they cried out to God.

Where was God? Why didn’t He do something?

If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now, they have been hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you when your enemies will throw up a barricade against you, and surround you and hem you on every side, and they will level you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation. (Luke 19:42-44)

Almost forty years earlier, Jesus prophesied this exact event.

Then, in 66 or 67 A.D., a Christian prophesied to the Jerusalem Church. The prophecy reminded the believers of the prophecy by Jesus, warned of the soon destruction of Jerusalem, and advised every believer to pull up roots and leave.

By 69 A.D.,  every member of the Jerusalem Church heeded the prophecy and relocated to Pella (a city sixty miles northeast of Jerusalem) and other Transjordan cities. The Christian population was approximately one third of the population of Jerusalem.

Put on your thinking caps for a moment, okay?

These Christians were Jewish believers and loved their Jewish neighbors. They would have told their neighbors about the prophecies. As they left the city with their goods, everyone would have pointed at them and said, “They’re obeying the prophecies!”

This happened over and over again for nearly two years. It was a big deal! And a constant reminder to the people who stayed in Jerusalem.

Yet, even though the Lord was longsuffering and warned His people, most refused to listen to Him.

Now, fast forward to America of today.

I believe we will soon see the Lord warn His people in certain cities, telling them to leave, just like He did before the fall of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. We need to obey His words and follow His commands, without considering the material consequences of our obedience. Just go!

It may save our lives and will be a sign to the people who choose to stay.

My prayer today:

Lord, give us American believers ears to hear what the Spirit says to the churches so that we will be overcomers and eat from the tree of life. (Based on Revelation 2:7)

What do you think and has the Lord spoken to you today?

Join with me on Thursdays to fast and pray for America.

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“Are We There Yet?” (Part 17)

The number one theory for the end-times over the last thirty years has revolved around the “budding of the fig tree.” It is based on:

“Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near—at the doors! Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away. (Matthew 24:32-33)

The theory goes something like this:

The fig tree is Israel, based on Jeremiah 24 and other scriptures. The time of budding and putting out new leaves happened in 1948 when Israel became a nation once again, after almost two thousand years of nonexistence. Thus, when you see this happen, the second coming of Jesus is so near that the generation of Jews who were born and alive in 1948 will not die until Jesus returns.

A biblical generation is forty years.

So, since Jesus did not return in 1988 or 1998 or 2008, we have to assume this end-time theory is incorrect, right?

What is the most likely the problem?

If you read Matthew 24:1-31, you will see that Jesus was talking about the days leading up to the end-times, about the abomination of desolation, about the great tribulation, and also —

Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. (Matthew 24:30)

The above verse refers to Jesus returning to earth, but the important words to understand are – “then all the tribes of the earth will mourn” – which refers to Zechariah 12:10. This is the exact moment when Israel realizes that Jesus Christ is their Messiah and all of them regret having had hardened hearts against Him.

It is this generation that will not pass away until all things take place.

The mistake is that the parable of the fig tree was taken out of context.

(Continued in Part 18…if you’re interested in this Hebraic Roots series, all of it to date can be seen here.)

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