April 29, 2019

Stay Connected

There are so many ways to connect with your fellow inScribe members:

Yahoo Group or ‘Listserv’
This is one place to share writing-related resources, ask questions, share good news, or anything else writing related. We also make important announcements such as upcoming contests, contest winners, upcoming events and so on. (If you want to participate in the Word Challenges, you will want to join this group!)  There is also a prayer group that you may be interested in joining. If you haven't already done so, contact Gwen Mathieu and she'll set you up. (See the website for details)

You will be asked to create a new yahoo email account if you don’t already have one. However, you do not need to use this as your primarily email account. It is just for signing up to the group and you can request that all correspondence through this yahoo ‘listserv’ come to your regular email address. Follow Gwen’s instructions if you have difficulty. (This may mean having to start a new email rather than hitting “reply to sender”.)

Facebook Group
Ask to join our InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship Members Group - https://www.facebook.com/groups/75980688935/
This is another way to stay in touch, join in the conversation, and keep abreast of upcoming events. (Members only.)

Facebook Page
What’s the difference between a group and a page? Groups are meant as a place for interaction among members – a place for people to ask questions and comment, while pages are often more focused on announcements etc. and are moderated by the ‘owners’. Both are good places to find out about what is happening in InScribe. Our page can be found here: InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship - https://www.facebook.com/CanadianWriters/

InSide InScribe
Periodically, we send out a newsletter called InSide InScribe. It’s another way to stay in tune with what is happening in terms of events, contests, and other news of interest. Please check your email inbox as well as your spam folder.

April 28, 2019

Hell: How I Got Here by Bruce Atchison

If Judas Iscariot could send a message from hell, I suspect it might read like this:

If only I had listened to the Christ! If only I had understood the opportunity I had. But I didn't and here I am in this horrid place. What a FOOL I was!

When Jesus of Nazareth came to Jerusalem, I knew I must join him. This Galilean was more than a mere rabble rouser. There was something different about him and his "Kingdom of Heaven" speeches. I felt he would really be our Messiah, the one to kick out the oppressive Romans and make Israel great again.

And unlike Theudas and other rebels, this Jesus did mighty miracles. I saw with my own eyes how the blind were given sight instantly. There was none of that fakery like the phony healers and the quacks practice. People actually were healed of incurable illnesses like leprosy. He even raised people who were stone-cold dead.

Then this rabbi sent us out, two by two, to proclaim his Kingdom. I didn't really know what it was all about but I repeated the words of the master like I was told to do.

I also was able to cast out demons like my partner and the other disciples. When we returned and told Jesus that even the demons obeyed us, he said our names were written in heaven. I thought he'd congratulate us but he just gave us a platitude. Was that all we could expect from he who could have liberated Israel?

Then Jesus slipped into a funk. He kept saying he was going to Jerusalem to suffer and die? How could that be? He was our only hope to kick those foreigners out of our land and free us from their pagan ways forever. I started asking myself why I was hanging around this contradictory leader.

Then, as some of you folks say, the last straw happened. Jesus let an immoral woman pour expensive perfume all over his feet. That alabaster box of spikenard could have been sold for a a year's wages. I said it should have been given to the poor but I wanted my share of all that money. After all, I had the cash bag and none of those empty-headed followers suspected that I took what I wanted from it. I had to live too, you know.

That's when the Devil himself entered me. I really didn't feel like myself as I went to the Pharisees and cut a deal. It was like being in a bad dream. I supposed I could have gotten more money for showing them where the Christ would be alone. But a deal is a deal and I wanted nothing more from my former master.

Well, you know the rest. Jesus was arrested and tried. The whole time, he made no protest. I began to have second thoughts as the crowds insisted that Pilate crucify him.

Satan left me after I betrayed the Lord and my conscience tortured me. I took the money back to the Pharisees but they wouldn't take it. So I threw it into the temple and left.

My conscience screamed at me as I walked the streets. The only way I knew to rid myself of that guilt was to hang myself. I found a tree with a limb growing over a cliff and made a noose of my tunic.

Suddenly, my guts fell out and I was in extreme agony. It felt much worse than my nagging conscience.

But that pain was nothing compared to the agony I now am in. No words can express the utter despair I feel and the relentless shrieking of my conscience. I knew the gospel and had been with the Son of God and yet I threw it all away for thirty pieces of silver. What an idiot I was!

April 26, 2019

The Point in the Story - Marnie Pohlmann

It was still pre-dawn when my companions and I were called to duty. This was my first time. I was excitedly concerned about what I would be tasked with. I was confident, though, that whatever it was I would do well. I had been held to the flame and hammered into shape. I was strong, big, and fit for duty. I was made for this day.

We were gathered at the top of a hill. The older ones among us called this hill “Golgotha” which meant “Place of the Skull” and I wondered why. It felt like a place of death, though, where spirits battled over souls. I looked at the ground on which I waited. Was that a bone fragment? Was this dirt darker than the dirt of my birthplace? Perhaps stained with blood? What did this mean for me? Why was I here?

The whispered comments and complaints of other junior consorts soon stilled as we waited. Some of the older ones had been in service here before, so if they were now satisfied to wait for action, then I would lay quiet, content as well.

We did not wait long. Soon a quiet rumble of voices became shouting and cursing that filled the air. The ground trembled with crowds pushing and shoving their way to the hilltop. A Centurion gained control of the situation with authoritative commands and the crowd parted.

I was shocked by what I saw.  A man stumbled forward, a wooden beam over his back. Blood dripped over his face from thorns that had been cruelly pushed into his brow. I wondered how the man was even standing, he looked so weak. Ah, I saw, on the other side was a strong, dark-haired man helping him bear the load.

“Close enough,” barked the Centurion.

I watched the helper lay down the rough beam and rush away into the crowd like he wanted nothing more to do with the situation. I could see why. Left with the complete weight of the wood, the blood-covered man stumbled and fell. I could see his back as he lay there; or rather what should have been his back but was only tattered bits of skin clinging to raw meat. Was he already dead? He had obviously been severely whipped.

From the crowd, soldiers led two other men. These men fought every step, pulling against the ropes that bound their hands, only to be yanked forward by the guard or pushed forward by the crowd.

Soldiers were ordered to push the wood closer to the hole it would stand in. Two other holes already had crossbeams beside them. The soldiers then laid the captives on top of the wood.

I suddenly realized what I was going to be part of. No! This is not what I dreamed of doing with my strength. This was degrading, disgusting work. A crucifixion of criminals was the lowest job I could have been given. Had I done something wrong? Was I not one of the best?

I stayed back behind others as some of the old and new with me were grabbed and taken to the wood. Screams and pleas of mercy filled the air, causing me to tremble in fright. I could see the feet of one thief held tightly as the commissioned spikes were ordered in. The thief was in excruciating pain and twisted his upper body trying to hit anyone nearby. Then his arms were caught and held tight as the rope was removed from his wrists. His head was forced back, so he lay on the beam and his arms were forced out from his body, stretching along the crossbeam. As the nails were pounded through his palms his screams became whimpers. There was no longer any hope for him.

The cross was lifted by a group of strong soldiers, the bottom falling into the hole with a heavy thud, jarring another scream of pain from the thief on the cross. Quickly the soldiers braced the cross in place and hurried away, their job done.

So intent was I in watching this horror I did not see the soldier come to grab me from among those of us left in the pile. I tried to slip out of his grasp, but he gained a strong hold on me. One of my mates began a tinny, high-pitched wail as he clung to other nails. I prayed I would be strong in fulfilling my duty, no matter how distasteful it became.

And then I was given my task for the day.  I was directed to secure the man’s right hand. Odd, I thought, as I was led to my post at the center cross. This was the man wearing the crown of thorns, yet he was not screaming. I could see he was conscious, aware of what was happening. I looked into his eyes and saw the pain, yet there was also compassion as he looked at me. I reached for his hand and it was as though he reached toward me, offering to be held by me. I shook and wished I could pull away, but he nodded ever so slightly like he was reassuring me that this was my duty and I needed to do it well.

I turned to stare at his hand and pressed my chiselled point into his weathered palm. Then the hammer fell. It struck my head, driving my newly forged body through the man’s flesh, sinking my point deeper and deeper through the hand with each blow and continuing until I was buried deep into the wood behind it. My head was exploding with pain and could not grasp what the man was experiencing. My racing thoughts stopped enough to register that he still held no hate in his eyes toward me for what I was doing, so I tried my best to give support to this man in his final hours.

A soldier climbed a ladder and tapped a sign on the cross above the man’s head. “King of the Jews,” he mocked loudly, laughing. “Crowned and standing above us all. Let’s see his power now.”

I felt a stirring in the air, as though angel guardians were rushing to the man’s side to defend him. He stretched his fingers, signalling for them to stop, to stand down and hold themselves still even in the face of this abuse.

I had heard the man’s name was Jesus. Some said he healed blind men and made the lame walk. Some said he was the Messiah. I heard that he himself said he could raise the temple of God in three days. Most mocked him, challenging him to prove he was this King the Jewish people waited for.

Suddenly darkness descended and the air grew chill. Yet it was only midday! How could this be? Strange things were happening. I knew they were significant, but I did not understand how.

In the dark, throughout the afternoon, I watched as the people who berated this man began to disperse. Only the soldiers and a few stragglers remained. Some religious men were clustered part way down the hill, not wanting to watch but apparently not able to leave, either. They seemed fearful this man would somehow free himself from my grip and leave the cross. A few women were sobbing at the foot of the cross and a young man tried to comfort them. The Centurion had ordered the soldiers to let them be, as one was the man’s mother.

 Jesus, whose hand I held, spoke only a few times. He told the young man to take care of his mother. He requested God’s forgiveness of all around him. I was amazed.

Only once were his words to question his place of punishment. He looked to the heavens and groaned, “My God. My God. Why have you forsaken me?” Seeing his distress, the Centurion sent a soldier to offer the man a wine-soaked sponge to deaden his distress. Jesus refused, seemingly at peace again, and spoke once more in a tone of acceptance.

“It is finished.”

At that moment the sun burst through the darkness and the ground trembled. I held firmly to the hand of Jesus as he gave up his spirit.

The soldiers started to run from their posts, frightened by the earthquake, but the Centurion’s authority halted them. I watched as the Centurion gained control in the only way that worked with soldiers. He gave them an order, a task to complete. He ordered them to break the legs of the men on the crosses so they would die quicker. Their broken limbs would not be able to hold them up to take laboured breaths and they would soon suffocate.

The soldier who approached Jesus noticed he already appeared dead. To make sure, he thrust his sword into the side of the limp body and noted the fluid that poured out. I could feel the weight of Jesus pull against the secure hold of my position. Yes, he was dead.

I heard the Centurion speak in awe as he gazed at Jesus on the cross. “Surely this was the son of God.” His men looked at him, concerned at their leader’s strange reaction. The Centurion quickly regained his composure and commanded that the hillside be cleaned up.

A fresh group of soldiers were tasked with removing the men from the crosses. The crucified were dead, so these soldiers did not try to be gentle. They climbed ladders and tore the hands and feet of the men free of the wood, not even bothering to remove the other nails first.

When the soldier approached me and tried to pull Jesus’ hand free, I gripped it tightly, unwilling to let go. I would not allow this man, strange as he was, to be disrespected in that way. Exasperated, the soldier finally grabbed me in a choke hold and pulled me away. While still upset, instead of tearing Jesus’ other hand and feet free, he pulled my cohort nails from the cross as well.

Jesus’ arm fell to his side as I lay on the ground in the bloodied dirt, spent from my day of work. I watched as they wrapped him in a rough blanket and a rich man claimed his body, assuring the mother he would be buried as a king and not in the field of criminals. I tried to roll onto the blanket, to remain with this man who even in death had a spirit about him that attracted me.
I had done a distasteful job, but I had done it to the best of my ability, and with compassion for the man placed in my care.

The woman, mother of Jesus, instead gathered me to her chest. I was covered in her son’s blood, but she seemed not to mind, and for some reason, I did not mind either. I was covered in Jesus’ blood and because of that, I knew I was forgiven for the part I played in the crucifixion. Somehow, I knew this day was important. This event would change the world and I had been a part of that. I remembered the look on Jesus’ face as he urged me to my duty.

Yes, Jesus truly is the Son of God.

*pictures CCO courtesy of Pixabay.com

Our Lord's forgiveness, mercy, and sacrifice truly changed the world on that day of crucifixion. As we come to terms with our responsibility for that day, and our role in the need for Jesus' sacrifice, may we also claim the hope that the resurrection day provides to us.

April 24, 2019

Thomas Renewed - Shirley S. Tye

I had to avert my eyes when the soldiers drove the spikes through. Jesus screamed in pain. The blood flowed forth. With each moan and cry uttered by Him, anguish filled me as if I were being crucified. When the cross was raised and set into place, I gazed upon His face as tears ran down my cheeks. I waited and hoped. Surely, He would perform another miracle as I had witnessed so many times before. Surely, He would not stay on that cross! ‘Jesus, come down from that cross!’ I had no strength to shout those words, but they were loud within me. Then I saw Him move. Hope filled me. He was about to come down from the cross and live! But no, He only shifted His weight slightly, pushing Himself upwards a bit in order to breathe. He did this a few times as did the two thieves beside Him. Each time He moved more blood flowed from the wounds. Although He struggled to breath and His voice was weak, He spoke to one of the thieves. He also spoke to His mother and to John. And I thought, now He will come down. But no, He did not. His last words were ‘It is finished.’ His head bowed in death. Deep grief, despair, and hopelessness filled me. I fell to my knees, weeping loudly, my face buried in my hands. I don’t remember much after that. However, I do remember someone pulling me gently up and with their arm around me, escorted me home.

I remained in bed for several days trying to make sense of what had happened. He did many miracles and spoke with wisdom and authority. Thousands believed Him and followed Him. As did I. Peter said He was the Christ. Was He? He died. How could He die if He was the Christ, the Messiah? Where was our help now? Who could save us? I was so confused.

Then there was a sudden and frantic pounding on the door. The disciples rushed in and exclaimed that Jesus had appeared in their midst while they were secretly meeting in a room; hiding from the Jews. He stood before them alive and well and spoke to them and showed them His wounds. Mary also had seen Him and had spoken to Him. I wanted to believe their news, but I thought it must be their deep sorrow causing them to hallucinate.

Oh, it was too much for me. I saw Him die; a horrendous death on a cross reserved for criminals. He didn’t survive. He died and so did the two thieves beside Him. But the disciples danced about the room, laughing and repeating “He’s alive! He’s alive!”

A few days later, I too saw Jesus! He spoke to me. He let me touch His wounds. I shouted, “My Lord and my God!” I almost collapsed onto the floor but one of the disciples caught me. Then suddenly everything was crystal clear in my head. All His miracles and teachings, I understood so much better. He truly was and is the Messiah! He’s alive! He’s alive!

I was not able to contain myself for I was renewed and overflowing with unspeakable joy. I had to tell others the great news that Jesus lives and pardons sin. I travelled much, speaking to thousands of people about what Jesus is really like – for I knew first-hand – and about the wonderful eternal life awaiting them. Repent, believe He is the Messiah, accept Jesus as your saviour and live! Yes, live! For Jesus lives! Halleluiah!

April 22, 2019

I Saw Him Dead—The Centurion by Alan Anderson

“Now the centurion, and they that were with him watching Jesus, when they saw the earthquake, and the things that were done, feared exceedingly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.”—Matt. 27: 54 English Revised Version.

Please allow me to discuss with you a few of my thoughts about Christ’s crucifixion. I must ask you to not mention this to any other soldiers. They would not be pleased with me.

I’ve been a Roman soldier for a number of years and more than I can remember. As a Centurion I have men I am responsible for and who are to obey my commands. These men know better than to disobey me.

There are parts of my work I do not like. I hate crucifixions the most. I’ve seen men and women being crucified. I have witnessed them lingering before they died. Crucifixion is a brutal way to die. Roman law deems it for some people therefore we carry it out. My men would rather crucify someone than disobey Roman commands. They would suffer themselves at the hands of the state if they disobeyed.

I have to say the crucifixion that bothered me most was that of Jesus Christ. I was there when this man was arrested. I even saw Him heal someone. At the time we arrested Jesus one of the men with Him sliced off the ear of one of my men with his sword. Just as I pulled my sword out of its sheath Jesus stepped forward. He placed his hand over the man’s bloody ear and healed it. Now, that I will never forget.

Jewish priests and members of the Sanhedrin made a huge fuss over Jesus when He was brought to trial. They acted as if He was the vilest criminal they had ever laid eyes on. They don’t shut up until they have a chance to make their terms known. They were determined to have Jesus punished.

My men and I agreed Jesus didn’t seem threatening at all to us. He didn’t scream or yell back when charges were made against Him. He stood there kind of like a sheep waiting to be slaughtered.

As you know, Jesus was sentenced to death by crucifixion. People even cried out to have Him executed. I didn’t know religious people can be so cold and heartless until those Jewish leaders witnessed His punishment. Some even had smiles on their faces.

I remember His face most of all. As He hung on His cross Jesus looked right at me. It felt like He could see into my soul. I wanted to look away from Him but I just couldn’t. Jesus died. I was there when a few of His friends took His body down from the cross. I saw Him dead.

I also witnessed that one morning after His burial it was discovered His body was missing. There is no way His body had been stolen. He had come back from the dead. I couldn’t believe it at first but there was no other explanation.

To have a Man so brutalized, betrayed and killed, come back from the dead, staggers my mind and changed my life. For something like this to happen shook my conscience just like the earthquake shook my world. I realize now I have been a walking dead man.

Through His resurrection Jesus paved the way for my resurrected life as well. He truly is the Son of God. He has given me a peace I’ve never known. This peace is strange to me yet it is real.

There is an urge within me to inform other people Jesus came back to life. Perhaps I’ll find opportunities to tell my soldiers and officer colleagues about what I witnessed. He has risen! Indeed He is risen!

April 21, 2019

I Am the Song of Easter .... by Jocelyn Faire

“Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song.” ― Pope John Paul II (Karol Wojtyła) 

I am the song of Easter,
Many voices add fullness to my tune

My anthem began before the creation of the world
It took shape and form as the earth was birthed
It wandered the wilderness in search of a homeland
It has been the aching of the ages
It became visual with the birth of a baby ...
a special child who grew in favour in the eyes of the Lord
a special child who was the Lord.

I am the song of the seasons
The praises formed in the heat of summer
The harvest song of a well-lived life
The frozen despair in the dead of winter,
The irrepressible burst of new life in spring.
I am the song of celebration
The song of beauty.

I am the song of despair .. the longing song
How long oh Lord will you hide your face from us?
I am the song of confusion
Afraid to trust the melody when the notes are unclear
I am the song of plenty and the song of want
The lament of pain, the balm of comfort
I am the song of amnesia,
with words forgotten in the dark of night
I am the song of light and memory
Sing this in remembrance of me.

I am the voice in the crowd ... joining in the Hosanna of Palm Sunday ...
and I am the same voice in the crowd calling crucify him, crucify him ...
I am the song of silent shame
And I am the song of Grace, of Forgiveness, of Love
I am the song of strong surrender
The song that hung rugged on the cross.

I am the song of Power ... this same resurrection power lives within you
I am the song of Hope ... green seeded hope that overflows
Hope to join loved ones again
I am the song of Rest, abide in me, sing my lullaby
I am the song that resides in your heart
Come let us make a joyful noise unto the Lord

We join in the song, with voices weak or strong ...
This is the song of humanity
This is the song of a God who sings over us in the night
This is a song of gratitude, of praise, of sorrow
This is a song unstoppable.

And centuries later I am the receiver of this song
I am the one at the graveside of a son, a daughter, a loved one
and I can barely whisper ...
we do not grieve as those who have no hope
Others help carry the tune which I cannot hold
The spirit sings the resurrection song to aching hearts around the world.

Will you join in the singing of the Hallelujah song?

April 20, 2019

Through the Eyes of a Child – Denise M. Ford

As I let my thoughts dwell on the Easter story, I kept seeing images of Jesus with children who although they aren’t mentioned in the scriptural Easter story, are surely there, wondering and observing what was happening. Listening and hearing, on the periphery of it but part of the story. I read the scriptures to understand how Jesus fully immersed himself in protective and tender loving actions when he became aware of children who needed him. I pictured myself as a child next to him being gathered close to him, at his feet, by his side, in his arms. Just as our loving Lord often sends his comfort to children today as they try to make sense of death, I believe Jesus drew near to those children of his time and explained his death to them in a loving and tender way.

Through the Eyes of a Child…
I squeezed through the doorway and nearly bowled over a woman kneeling in prayer as she sobbed. I tucked myself amongst the robes of a group of tall men so I could move unseen with them. I had to cover my ears as the shouting and crying rose in a crescendo. I felt dizzy as I strained to see what was happening. Then I heard his name, Jesus, Jesus.

Untangling from the robes I felt myself falling backwards. I rolled into a ditch and pulled myself to its edge. At least I no longer could be wrenched inside by adult hands. In fact, no one seemed to notice that I had disobeyed the firm command my father had given this morning, “Stay inside today, no matter what you hear, stay inside, do not step beyond our doorway.”

He had thrust my hand into my sister’s, grabbing ours together in a firm clasp as he inhaled a long steady breath. His hands rubbed over ours, his head bent over us. I thought he would pray, but instead he breathed heavily again, embracing my mother as she came near him with my baby sister against her shoulder.

“You will stay inside today, and I will return as soon as I am able.”

Then the pounding on our door had begun. My older brothers had thrown it open and practically dragged my father through it. That’s when I had quickly made my escape. I didn’t want to stay behind with the women. Now outside in the ditch, I wished I had followed the command to stay inside. For here before my eyes struggled the very same man who I had seen riding on a donkey a few days before. I had happily weaved in and out of its plodding path joining with the joyous songs of our people. “Hosanna, Hosanna!” had rung out loud and clear. I had waved a palm so close to his face it had seemed that he may have laughed with me as he looked my way. He motioned for me to come closer and I eagerly ran next to him, swishing my palm alongside the donkey’s hind legs. He had glanced behind and nodded as he gave another hearty laugh.

Could this be the same man?  This man dragging a wooden cross before me. I scanned his face for any resemblance, but all I could see were streams of blood trickling down from a crown of thorns. His eyes, if only I could see his eyes then I would know if this man recognized me.

But people ran in front of me, mud splattered my face and stones began to bounce as they scattered beneath a multitude of sandals. I remembered my father’s warning, “Stay inside today.”  I closed my eyes because I no longer wanted to understand what was happening. I let the stones pummel me for a few more minutes, and then I slid from the ditch. Still trembling, I stumbled through crowds of people to make my way home, dodging past Roman soldiers, ducking under moving carts.

Back inside I found a quiet corner, and I closed my eyes. In my dream I saw him. He reached for me with a palm branch softly brushing my cheek. He nodded and gave a hearty laugh, one that I recalled from the other day. Then it felt like I was rocking gently in his arms, like he was lifting me and raising me up and up and up. I could only hear his laughter; I could only feel his love. In my dream we were next to each other, we laughed together. He stayed with me; he did not disappear underneath the weight of a heavy cross.

When I awoke again, I heard sobbing. My older brother, their wives and children had crowded into our home. Although the voices were familiar, words that I didn’t understand echoed around me. “Brutal crucifixion, it is finished, we will all die. He’s gone, it’s over.”  I suddenly wished I could return to this morning’s commanding words, “Stay inside. I will return when I am able.”  Oh, how I wanted to return to my dream. I wanted to stay inside my dream to hear the sounds of laughter and feel the reassuring love.

So many words of death. So much weeping. No one cared where I was or even if I were still here. But somehow, I knew this man would stay with me. I had dreamt of being next to him; I had laughed with him. I had been comforted by his love. But I couldn’t tell them, I was only five. I was only a child. But I knew, I knew Jesus was the man who had laughed with me, who had motioned for me to come close to him. Whose look of love I had seen again in my dream. I could only hope that he would return when he was able and that his love would stay inside me.

When I was five my Nana passed away suddenly. I found myself amidst grieving adults who spoke of things I didn’t understand. One night I dreamt of Nana reaching out to me, sending me a loving look while at the same time laughing with genuine joy. Even though our minister came to answer my questions regarding death and heaven, it was this dream that brought me great comfort during this time.