Archive for 2019

Fire, Smoke, and Ash

Though I am ready to go, I am not ready to leave Alaska. This summer has been one of the weirdest of my life and full of plans that changed daily. If I’ve learned one thing, it’s that God is in control and He keeps letting me know. Of course, with Him in control, those seeming plan changes always turn out to bring on different, unexpected adventures.

The fire that created so much smoke for Cooper Landing began on June 5 with a lightning strike. As it began in the National Wildlife Refuge, they followed their policy of ‘let it burn.’ And burn it did. The lack of rain – only four days all summer in a boreal rain forest – and high winds took the Swan Lake fire to the west toward Sterling and Soldotna along the one-and-only-main road from Anchorage to Homer – the Sterling Highway. All local businesses and campgrounds in Cooper Landing are on this two-lane highway.

Though for the first six weeks the fire remained quite a distance from Cooper Landing and Cooper Creek Campground, the smoke always blew east. The Kenai Peninsula is south of Anchorage and its south and eastern ends are in the ocean so the winds blow inland. There is a smoke index that we checked everyday for the amount of dangerous particles in the air. The scale goes to 500, but some days the smoke levels were 800 to 1200. In the beginning, the river guides said they couldn’t seen the sides of the Kenai when they were in the middle of the river. Tourists, those who had saved their whole lives for a bucket list adventure to Alaska, were deprived the beauty of this area. The mountains became submerged in smoke and those who had asthma or other lung issues were discouraged from fishing for world-famous salmon or rafting to see the bear and moose along the river’s edge. Those who did felt the effects of severe smoke inhalation.

Ash covered everything.

Normally the weather pattern for the Kenai Peninsula is wet and cool. Our first summer we would have ten days of rain followed by a few days of sunshine and repeat. When the temperature reaches 65-70 the locals are unable to breathe as these temps are HOT, and sometimes unbearably HOT. The reason for this is because of Alaska’s latitude and summer tilt of the earth. The sun, rather than shining directly overhead, has a slant and hits the land in a hotter, fuller way. This makes 70 degrees feel like 75-80. Again, that’s not ‘hot’ by some standards, but it actually is. This year temperatures reached 92 degrees and remained in the mid-to-high 80s most of the summer. This would be comparable to 100 degrees anywhere else and for this area, a rainforest without rain, became the catalyst for spreading wildfires.

With the intense heat and smoke, we had an infestation of bugs – mostly biting flies along with mosquitos. The bug issue became so intense at times that campers would pack up and leave after one night of their reservation. Between the smoke that darkened our days with a green haze and filled our lungs and the high temperatures that our ‘tin can’ fifth-wheel absorbed and opening windows was not an option, and the bugs that bit our bodies incessantly leaving welts, we felt like we were living in the apocalypse!

In mid-July we had two days of rain – about 1/2 – 1 inch total. For some reason we will never comprehend, the fire fighters packed up and left town. All we can surmise is that Alaskans have no clue about wildfires and how they burn. Though the State of Alaska issued a fire ban, the USFS continued to allow campfires – adding to the smoke and the possibility of flying embers. Being part of a volunteer fire department in Colorado and losing our home to a raging wildfire, we spent many days in complete confusion as to why the authorities acted as they did. Even our own company had no contingency plan to remove camp hosts who couldn’t leave because none of us are on vacation – we are working. We eventually took matters into our own hands and asked that people NOT have fires. Those from California, Oregon, Washington, and Colorado thought we were nuts for asking. It was just a ‘given’ you don’t have a campfire when the state is on fire. Alaskans, however, thought we were nuts because they needed to have their ‘s’mores.’ Of course, we have learned over the few years here that rules do not apply to Alaskans because they are so … Alaskan.

With the first bout of smoke, raining ash and bugs, we decided to leave for a few days. We visited Seldovia, a cute little village accessible only by boat or plane. We enjoyed several days of fresh ocean air and returned to the mainland with the two days of rain.

Near the end of July, my daughter and I were driving back from Soldotna and saw plumes of smoke puffing along the mountain ridge near the Sterling Highway. We wondered why no one was manning those plumes or putting water on the hot spots. My husband and I had attended every community meeting for the fires and every agency said that though the fire was not under control, it was burning in areas that were nearly impossible to get to, but this was obviously not one of those places. Firefighters had cleared three hiking trails as fire lines: Skyline Trail, Fuller Lakes Trail, and Resurrection Pass Trail telling us that they could keep the fire away from Cooper Landing.

The fire kicks up!

Within the week, the winds began to blow, hot, dry winds from west to east. The smoke, raining ash, and bugs returned with Biblical proportions. We put on masks and asked campers once again NOT to have campfires because the USFS refused to ban them. Russian River Campground, only three miles away, was closed and the Russian River Ferry was removed from the river and taken to a safe place. The fire jumped Skyline Trail, Fuller Lakes Trail and chugged its way to Resurrection Pass Trail which was evacuated. The fire jumped the Sterling Highway and began to burn the beautiful Skilak Lake Wildlife Area all the way to Skilak Lake. Beautiful hiking trails have became desolate blackened trees with the the danger of falling with every breeze. Wildlife ran for their lives. Firefighters that had gone home, returned. New incident command was established along with numerous camps for firefighters that grew to over 700.

On August 18, our manager from ARM came by to see how we were doing. We told her that we were fine and at that point had no intention of leaving unless the fire came closer or the smoke became unbearable. She got down on one knee and asked if I would be willing to be the ‘naturalist’ next year as the previous one (for 20 years) was not returning. I was aware of this situation and knew she wanted me to ‘take a more valuable role in the company.’ Though I’m a little ambivalent about what I will do and how I will do it, I accepted the position. So, next year Chugach campgrounds, look out. I have some great ideas about salmon, wasps and 5-Star Campers! If you have any ideas, let me hear them. I am NOT crafty, but I do like to hike and make kiosks.

One of the many wasp nests!

Soon after she left, the captain of the Cooper Landing Fire Department, a friend of my husband’s, came to the campground. He informed us of what he knew was happening with the out-of-control fire and suggested we pack up and leave. Two hours later, the mayor of the Kenai Peninsula, a very large borough in Alaska, stopped in our campground, invited us into his rig and explained what he had seen from a helicopter and learned from incident command and the national guard. He also suggested we pack up and leave. So, in spite of our earlier conversation with our manager, we began packing our trailer and organizing our campground tools, etc.

At the same time, our daughter and son-in-law began loading their valuables into her car and preparing their truck camper for bugging out. The smoke values were in the 800s and, being pregnant, she didn’t need to breathe what is considered ’emergency air.’ Also, the Kenai River was closed to all boats as the pull-outs down river were either in danger of being on fire or were already burning. Their fishing/rafting business had to close down. The hit that the businesses in Cooper Landing received this summer may never be completely known, but work is seasonal and so many people depend on the summer for their entire livelihood.

They headed to Anchorage and with the help of some friends were sponsored on the Elmendorf/Richardson Air Force Army Base campground. Ironically, the campground is called Black Spruce and that is the main fuel for the Swan Lake Fire. They set up their truck camper and an easy-up and had a new ‘home’ camping.

While we were packing – it took two days because we still had to maintain the campground – we received a text from some friends in Anchorage who we had met through the campground. They offered their driveway in Anchorage for our trailer until we could figure out where and what we were doing. Because he is a retired Colonel in the Army, he was able to sponsor us in the same campground as our daughter.

The Bible teaches that every matter is established by a ‘witness of two.’ After having the fire captain and the mayor tell us to leave, we had our witness of two to leave the area. Receiving our friend’s text and finding ourselves in the same campground as our daughter proved the Hand of Elohim in this crazy journey we called ‘summer in Alaska.’ When we left Cooper Landing, the air quality was at 1200 and there was no view of the lake or river for the green smoke haze.

The base campground was refreshing. It is clean and pretty quiet except for the ‘sound of freedom’ flying around. This is a home base for F22s that monitor the airspace between Russia and Canada. Whatever goes on day and night, the jets are flying overhead and around us. We learned the ‘whistling’ we hear is ‘throttle up’ and we are so close to the airfield that we hear that a lot both on the ground and above. One day the path of two jets was directly over our trailer. As my grandson slept, the sound increased until it was deafening and then the trailer shook as if in an earthquake. Once they passed overhead, I heard his little voice say, “Bubbe, that was a loud jet!” He was awake! So was I!

The sound of freedom …

Also every morning and evening, depending on the wind direction, we can hear a canon ‘boom’ and reveille being played. Two days in a row we heard strange music and a warning sound for a practice lock down for a shooter. Because the warning sound is also kind of a weird sound, I felt like I was on the Truman Show and ‘who was watching us?’ Overall, it has been a blessing to be here and to be with family as we are all displaced.

Our first two days at Black Spruce were filled with de-smoking our belongings. With the price of laundry being very inexpensive, I washed everything imaginable. I borrowed a carpet cleaner from our friends. The black water in the cleaner and black rags from wiping the walls showed how much smoke and ash we endured. Our truck, thankfully, has leather interior, so it cleaned up quickly and the smell of smoke is gone.

Fumigating our ‘home’

As we settled into the campground, we began making plans to see friends in Anchorage. We had dinner with a camper at his home and went to an erev Shabbat with him. We met some other friends from Tennessee for lunch. They had returned for another year of fishing. We met some longtime friends of my husband’s in a coffeeshop and had a wonderful dinner with the friends who have been so helpful. It seems sometimes we have more of a social life in Alaska than we ever had anywhere else.

Brownie the Bear

Everyday we checked the Kenai Borough log for updates on the fire and the website for air quality. One particular day, a flood warning was issued for the Kenai River. Every two years or so a glacier lake releases water into the Kenai and this year happened to be the year. So along with the fire, ash, and smoke, the Kenai River was going to flood!

Flooding on the Kenai at the boat launch

We visited Kincaid Park, a former missile base. My husband played frisbee golf with our son-in-law while my daughter, grandson and I wandered behind enjoying the views of the Cook Inlet and the fall-like weather. My husband remembered going to Earthquake Park when he lived here in the late 1970s so we did a trek through that park which memorializes the 1964 earthquake and all the homes that fell into the ocean. The land rolls and dips from where the liquified earth undulated so many years ago. I actually have a National Geographic from 1964 that chronicles the events of the earthquake.

Frisbee Gopher

Very close to the campground is Otter Lake. We stopped at the Visitor Center to find out if we could go to the lake as we are not military. They told us we were free to do anything except the commissary. We took the little drive to the lake and spent an hour using their paddle boats. Of course with a two-year-old directing the rudder, we spent much of the hour going nowhere. We did see lily pads and watched a loon spread it’s wings and dive into the lake. Because the smoke from the Kenai as well as the smoke from some northern fires seems to coagulate in the Anchorage area, we couldn’t see the mountains from Otter Lake.

The Loon

Another event we all wanted to attend was the Alaska State Fair. This fair is known for its large vegetables that are grown with 20 hours of daylight. However, I learned that these large vegetables are actually special seeds that are produced for extra large vegetables. We saw the the largest recorded pumpkin in North America at this year’s fair – the largest ever is somewhere else in the world.

We had a family outing to Hatcher Pass and Independence Mine. What a spectacular area to explore! We thought it reminded us a lot of the mine at Telluride, Colorado and through reading signs found that the foreman was originally from Telluride! This was also the first day that we had consistent rain and we managed to drive in the rain and hike in the sun, but we were still grateful for the rain and to hear it was raining in Cooper Landing – though not necessarily on the fire. After a bite to eat in a quaint 1940s A-frame cafe, we headed back to Black Spruce.

Independence Mine

On every trip to Alaska, as we reach the Palmer area, there is a Musk Ox farm. We decided since we were close and didn’t have our fifth-wheel, we would visit this farm. Though it didn’t involve petting Musk Ox, to our disappointment, we did learn a lot about these native animals and their fur. It is the second most expensive fur in the world and having natives spin and knit it into just a small neck gator costs $195. It was the first time that I ever wished I could knit and could buy a skein for $45. Musk Ox have bad eyesight and think anything that moves below their eyes is a wolf so we had to stay in a group and keep the lil guy up in the air!

Baby Musk Ox

We hiked to Thunder Bird Falls and took a quick gander at Mirror Lake. We ate Oreos instead of S’mores because we couldn’t have a fire. We played on the playground, did loads of laundry, tried to photograph F22s, played catch with the dog, had work done on the truck, retrieved parts for our trailer, spent lots of time with our grandson camping, and waited to hear when our daughter could move back ‘home.’ Nearly three weeks into the Anchorage adventure, it was time to move back to Cooper Landing.

We began a major trip of hauling everything they took in their vehicle and a cargo trailer along with their truck camper and our truck full of stuff back to Cooper. Within five hours the cargo trailer was unloaded and everything put away, five loads of laundry were completed, the house was dusted and vacuumed, the car was unloaded and cleaned from smoke, ash and dog hair, and the truck camper was restored and ready to roll again.

No one knows for sure what will happen with the fire. Their home has hoses and sprinkles around it put there by firefighters. Every home has been labeled. Even while we were unloading the sound of chain saws mitigating properties could be heard. Firefighters were seen along the roads chipping trees and brush. Tent camps dot the roadside wherever there is space. ‘They” say it will take snow to douse the fire completely, but it will burn underground all winter and could spark up again next summer. For those who own homes and businesses in Cooper Landing, the threat of this fire is not over.

Taking a short break from hanging photos and folding laundry, my husband and I left to pay rent on a small apartment for two months – December and January – when we will be returning to Cooper Landing for the birth of our second grandchild. We were quite excited with the place as it has a view of Mount Cecil and the Kenai River though with 20 hours of darkness, I’m not sure how much we’ll see.

After a nice little dinner at the Princess Lodge – the only place open to the public in town as all the other restaurants are feeding firefighters – we said good-bye to our son-in-law, daughter and little man grandson. Hugs and “I love yous” are not enough after nearly 5 months, but we know we’ll be seeing them all again – soon. He has my nearly empty bag of mango treats that he can eat in memory of his Bubbe and Grandpa. He also has his bike.

Today we are back in Black Spruce preparing our truck and trailer to head to the Lower 48. Of course my husband is the one preparing as I write this blog! The smoke in Cooper Landing has cleared. Our original departure date of September 16 has moved up 10 days allowing us to re-plan our trip south. We will be able to visit places that are normally closed, visit a family ranch in Idaho, go to Las Vegas and spend time with our youngest son until we head to Colorado for Sukkot in Denver with family. From there, the adventures will continue hither and yon as we really are modern-nomads enjoying the freedom we have to spend time with our children and grandchildren.

©2019 Tentstake Ministries Publishing

The Swallowing of Overwhelming Depression

“Now if someone has been a cause of pain, it is not I (Sha’ul) whom he has pained, but, in some measure – I don’t want to overstate it – all of you.  For such a person the punishment already imposed on him by the majority is sufficient, so that now you should do the opposite – forgive him, encourage him, comfort him.  Otherwise such a person might be swallowed up in overwhelming depression.  So I urge you to show that you really do love him” (2 Corinthians 2:5-7). 

Have you ever known someone who has struggled with ‘overwhelming depression?’  Have you ever considered it was caused by a state of pain where there was a lack of forgiveness, encouragement and comfort? from others, from themselves? 

Deeply-Rooted Pain

The person who lives with overwhelming depression has pain whether it is self-inflicted or from someone else.  Many try to mask that pain with alcohol, sex, and illegal drugs. For many who suffer they turn to the modern-day option of pharmeceuticals. They rely on medication because they are told their depression is caused by a chemical imbalance in their body.  Of course medical science can prove this is true, but from where did that chemical imbalance originate?  What is the root of the depression?

According to Scripture, the Body of Messiah imposes punishment on such people by their actions or inactions.  This can be done to unbelievers as well as believers causing a gigantic chasm between the healing power of our God and the lost and dying soul. According to Sha’ul the punishment (being ignored, judged, ostracized) of those in the congregation is sufficient, but he states more is needed – congregations are admonished to forgive, encourage and comfort the suffering individual. I would add this needs to be done outside the Body of Messiah as well as inside.

“Dear friend, I am praying that everything prosper with you and that you be in good health, as I know you are prospering spiritually” (3 John 2).

A book entitled “A More Excellent Way” written by Henry Wright delves into the spiritual roots of disease using the Scriptures along with his medical background.  

He suggests that in order to be healthy ‘mind, body, and soul,’ each of us needs to be in right relationship with God, with others, and with ourselves.

Forgiveness by God

First and foremost, forgiveness.  Forgiveness begins with the relationship we have with God.  By Yeshua’s blood forgiveness of sin and guilt is allotted to each of us as individuals.  Our relationship with God can be restored through forgiveness, but without Yeshua, our relationship with our Creator/Father remains broken.

“Bear with one another; if anyone has a complaint against someone else, forgive him.  Indeed just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must forgive” (Colossians 3:13).

Forgiveness from those with whom we fellowship is also necessary.  Yeshua commanded that we forgive our brothers and sisters in order to receive personal forgiveness from the Father.  We can’t have one without the other.  He commands we forgive a brother or sister 7 times 70 or until forgiveness brings healing to the individuals involved (Matthew 18:22). 

Forgiveness of Oneself

Forgiveness of oneself is often the most difficult because in wounding another we wound ourselves.  This can become a never-ending cycle of blame and hurt.  Forgiving ourselves when another refuses to forgive us can also be an insurmountable wall.  Tucked away in the second part of the two greatest commandments includes loving others as we love ourselves.  Loving ourselves includes forgiving ourselves in spite of Satan reminding us of our fallen nature  and judging our hearts with words like, “You’re not good enough to be forgiven.  You have to flesh this out!”  

Because the Adversary is the father of lies, these words are blatant lies.  Yeshua ‘fleshed’  everything out by taking on our sins, our sickness, our diseases, our guilt issues, our depression on the cross. 

Knowing that our Father has forgiven us and Yeshua died so we could receive that forgiveness can set us free from “overwhelming depression” because standing on Truth refutes the accusations of the enemy.  

Recently I read a sad article about a young woman in the Netherlands who was euthanized because she could no longer ‘live with herself.’  She had been sexually abused as a child and then raped twice as a young adult.  By 17, she felt she could no longer live and that death was the only way out of her pain.  Doctors agreed with her decision because in the Netherlands it is legal for anyone over 12 to make the decision to commit legal suicide.  Her mother also felt that because her daughter struggled with anorexia and nearly died, she should be allowed to die.   

Because the Netherlands is now post-Christian, placing those who trust in the God of Israel and the Messiah Yeshua, behind glass like in a museum as something ‘cute’ and in the past, this woman died because of pain – pain that Yeshua took upon himself so she could be healed –  body, soul and spirit.  Instead, she allowed the ‘father of lies’ to speak into her mind and she is lost for all eternity.  

This is not an example of the pain inflicted by the Body of Messiah, but it is the result of the fields being white for the harvest and few workers.  Death is not the way out of pain and ‘overwhelming depression’; Yeshua is.  

“Instead be kind to each other, tenderhearted and forgive each other, just as in the Messiah God has also forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32).

Encouragement from The Body

To encourage others in the relationships we have is the reflection of Yeshua’s life in us.  The journey to healing and restoration includes encouragement to continue walking through and eventually out of the pain one has suffered.   It is important for someone who struggles guilt and the ensuing depression must learn how to overcome and not revert into the same emotionally destructive patterns.   Encouragement from those in the Body of Messiah, the spiritual family of believers, becomes key to progressing the healing process. 

“Let the Word of the Messiah, in all its richness, live in you as you teach and counsel each other in all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your heart to God in your hearts” (Colossians 3:16).

In what is your identity?

Each of us can become consumed by the disease of depression that we need to be reminded to see ourselves as God sees us – whole and healed being transformed into the image of His son.  Our identity should never be in the pain, the depression or the disease, but in Yeshua who set us free from the spiritual roots of disease. 

I knew a woman who asked that God put the sins of her husband on her so he could be saved.  God answered this woman’s prayer and gave her a very rare cancer.  Consequently, she embraced her disease as part of carrying her husband’s sin!  When she told me what she had done, I told her to immediately repent because we, mere jars of clay, are incapable of taking on our own sin let alone those of someone else.  Her cancer did not go away, but she lived years longer than expected and only passed because of something that had nothing to do with the cancer.

Awhile back I was part of a group of people praying for someone who was ill.  Different supplicators asked God to put the person’s burden of the illness on them!  We can carry the burdens of the one who is ill by taking care of them, encouraging them, ministering to their spiritual needs, but we were not created to carry the illness or diseases of anyone.  That is the reason and purpose for Yeshua’s death and resurrection.

“In fact, it was our diseases he bore, our pains from which he suffered; yet we regarded him as punished, stricken and afflicted by God.  But he was wounded because of our crimes, crushed because of our sins; the disciplining that makes us whole fell on him, and in fellowship with him, we are healed” Isaiah 53:4-5). 

Job was afflicted with horrible sores from the soles of his feet to the crown of his head.  He scratched himself with a piece of pottery and sat in ashes.  He never blamed God for what was happening to him.  He never ‘cursed God and died’ as his wife suggested.  Though there was great discourse between Job and his friends, his righteousness before God had been tested because the Adversary challenged that righteousness.  In the end, Job learned about God’s Sovereignty and his life was restored with greater blessings.  In all of his struggles, he never embraced his afflictions as his identity and willfully consoled his pain by believing he suddenly has some inspiration as to how he was going to die!  

Though disease and working through the pain of disease may be allowed by God to transform us into the image of Messiah through suffering, God does not give us diseases to teach us a lesson or show us the way we are going to die.  One of the names or characteristics of God is the El Rafa or the Healer.  It confounds me as to why a Healer would inflict illness on His people and why people actually believe such nonsense.  Perhaps the only reason a person has a disease is because it’s the only way to send a faithful servant to a place where someone needs to hear the message of salvation in Yeshua.  

Praised be God, the Father of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah, compassionate Father, God of all encouragement and comfort; who encourages us in all our trials, so that we can encourage others in whatever trials they be undergoing with the encouragement we ourselves have received from God” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).

At the last Passover as Yeshua spoke of the new covenant instituted by his blood, he promised a Comforter when he ascended to the Father.  The Comforter gives us the power to overcome sin in our lives.  Many of the sins with which we find ourselves entangled are rooted in our weakness as a human being, but by  embracing the Ruach, the Spirit of God, we receive the power to stand against those sins and the Comforter  becomes the ‘medication’ that not just manages the disease, but heals our mind and soul and ultimately our bodies.  

“May the God of shalom make you completely holy – may your entire spirit, soul and body be kept blameless for the coming of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah” (1 Thessalonians 5:23).

The Conflict of Soul and Spirit

Henry Wright suggests that depression is a spiritual battle caused by a conflict between the spirit and the soul.  If that is the case, then what does that mean?

It means that when we are diagnosed with an illness like “overwhelming depression,” we need to stop and look at what is happening in our spiritual lives and how it’s affecting our souls.   The famous hymn says, “It Is Well With My Soul,” but is it?  Is there an emotional conflict between what you know is Truth in your spiritual man and what your soul (mind) is telling you? Have you embraced that you have a renewed mind (Romans 12:1-2)?

“For who has known the mind of Adonai?  Who will counsel him? But we have the mind of Messiah” (1 Corinthians 2:16).

Death from Suicide

I have known three people to take their lives.  The first was a man with whom I worked for several years.  I lost touch with him only to reconnect several months before he made that fateful decision.  Those who lived near him heard him fighting with ‘someone’ the night he died though he was alone!  He was not a believer, but very much into mysticism.  What battle was raging in his soul?

The second was a woman who claimed to follow Christ.  She never had any outward sign of depression though after she took her life, it was revealed she struggled with depression for many years.  Why, as a believer, did she succumb to the lies of the evil one?  Was there no one ministering to her the power of God over the enemy’s lies? What were her last moments like?  Did her spirit and soul battle? 

The third was a young man I had known since he was born.   As I tried to understand the reasons for his action,  I just could not fathom making the decision to ‘end it all.’  He had a wife and two very young sons.  Yet, he also believed the lies of the evil one who came to steal, kill and destroy his life and his family.  From the evidence surrounding his death, there was an obvious spiritual conflict going on between his spirit and his soul. 

The most famous Biblical suicide was Judas.  Once he betrayed Yeshua, he went to the authorities and said, “I sinned in betraying an innocent man to death.”  He, too, had a struggle between his soul and his spirit.  The leaders didn’t care that he had a conscience and he hurled the pieces of silver into the sanctuary of the Temple and hung himself (Matthew 27:1-10).

“We have God’s power for demolishing strongholds.  We demolish arguments and every arrogance that raises itself up against the knowledge of God; we take every thought captive and make it obey the Messiah” (2 Corinthians 10:5).  

Eternity and Self-Inflicted Murder

With each of those that I knew who took their own lives, much discussion ensues.  Some believe that the person loses eternal life; others believe they never have it.  Still others say, ‘once saved, always saved’ or believe that just because the person had loved one, they receive a special place with God.  Though each person has their reasons for their viewpoint, they never really dealt with the consequences of ‘murdering’ oneself. I had no real opinion so I put it in the same category of Pharaoh who’s heart was hardened by God because there was an eternal plan.  Only God knows the destiny of the one who commits suicide since it’s not definitively laid out in Scripture.

When I was in Israel I asked a man who claimed to be a cohen how Judaism viewed suicide. This man said the Scriptures clearly state that we will each stand before God and give an account of our lives.  In Judaism it is believed that the one who takes his life will also give an account of his death.  That was a new perspective for me to ponder.  Giving an account of our individual lives and every word spoken is quite overwhelming, but what a burden to carry to give an account of one’s death.  What would it be like to stand before my Creator and Father and explain why I didn’t want His breath of life any longer flowing through my body?  What would it be like to say, “I choose the day I’m going to die, not You?”

“It is the Spirit of God that made me, the breath of Shaddai that gives me life” (Job 33:4).  

After considering the words of Sha’ul to the Corinthians, I began to see another side of the ‘account of death.’  What if those who take their lives stand before God and say, “No one forgave me, no one encouraged me to walk in faith like Yeshua, no one comforted me with the comfort of the Spirit when I struggled?”  What if the Body of Messiah will ultimately accountable for the death of one of those who was struggling with “overwhelming depression?”  What if the Body of Messiah has lost the command to forgive, encourage, and comfort? What if the Body of Messiah has lost its connection with the Father, Yeshua (who has the Words of eternal life) and the Spirit that gives us that life? 

Sha’ul sayas in 1 Corinthians 11 that those who ‘eat the body and drink the wine’ in an unworthy manner, who don’t recognize the Body of Messiah,  drink judgment upon themselves.  He explains that is why there are many who are weak and sick within the congregation.  Could the same be said for those who don’t forgive, encourage and comfort those with “overwhelming depression,” suffering a debilitating conflict between spirit and soul?

Ultimately the answers to these questions will be answered by the Father in the world to come.  Until then, as another man, considered a believer, succumbs to suicide, I wonder what his resurrection moment will be like when he stands before God and gives an account of his death.  Will it be about a battle between his soul and spirit that he had no power to overcome – he lacked the power of the Spirit of God and walked a life of defeat?  Will it be that he just didn’t know and understand that his identity wasn’t in the pain he suffered, it was in Messiah Yeshua who took on the pain so he could be free from his suffering?   Or, will it be that he never had truly accepted the forgiveness offered by God through Messiah’s blood and, though he was a good man had a broken, unrestored relationship that will keep him from an eternal Paradise?  Whatever brought him to be ‘swallowed by overwhelming depression’ will be given an account. Whatever condition his/her soul, believer or non-believer, whose burden will it be?

©2019 Tentstake Ministries Publishing

Stop Americanizing Jesus

Okay. Usually I just pass by this crap and let those (LGBT Christians) who believe this stuff, believe it. But today I feel like dealing with this nonsense that gets passed around social media as if it were great wisdom and enlightenment of some sort. It’s not. It’s stupid and it’s wrong on every level. Here goes:

Jesus was NOT Palestinian. The name Palestine was given to the land of Israel by the Romans. Jesus was not Roman. He was not a Philistine from Philistia either. He definitely was Jewish, with Jewish parents, from the Tribe of Judah and Israelite, a Hebrew. His skin color was olive, not black African or white British or red Chinese. He was Mediterranean, Middle Eastern.

He was not anti-colonialism. He was for entering his Kingdom which is not of this world. It’s not for everyone, only a remnant and could therefore be considered ‘a colony.’ He never taught anyone to fight against the Romans who had colonized Israel, even changing its name. He taught his Jewish brothers and sisters to walk the extra mile carrying their armor if they asked. Ultimately, those who become part of his Kingdom are all foreigners in this world. Our citizenship is somewhere else – a heavenly colony that will one day become the ‘new heavens and new earth’ called the New Jerusalem.

He was not anti-cultural unless it is the culture of this dying world and its sin-infested ideas and demands. He fully lived out his life within the context of his culture, which was outlined by the God of Israel and given to His people. For example, he didn’t eat pork which is in everything these days, even eaten by some Jews. He didn’t celebrate Christmas or Easter or worship the sun god on Sunday. He wasn’t gay, transgendered or even confused about binary and pan. He was a Son and was quite content being a son. He kept the Feasts of His Father, was circumcised on the eighth day of his life, redeemed as a firstborn, learned the Torah (Bible), and lived as a Jewish man within the Jewish culture.

He did not teach socialism, but said there would always be poor people. He did not condemn rich people and was buried in a rich man’s tomb. Though he told a parable about giving each man the same wage for different hours worked, this was a parable about the Kingdom of Heaven and not about a socio-economic system in this world. This parable was about how each man and woman enters the Kingdom the same way. The entrance fee is not based on how hard a man works, but on his works for his Father. He looked at the hearts of the men; the men looked at the wage he paid. The wage of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life. If he were dealing with socio-economics, he would have been more of a capitalist because each man will receive a reward for the works he/she has done for the Kingdom. If he works building with gold and precious stones, his works will stand, but if he builds with hay, they will burn.

Yes, he loved all people including tax collectors and prostitutes, but told them to ‘repent’ and turn back to God. His love made them want his ways not their own. He cast demons out of people and set them free from lives of prostitution and even disease. His message never included tolerance of sin and allowing people to live immorally. Why? Because it infects the rest of society. Hence why he healed lepers – so they could return to normal life. He offered hope and a way out of sinful lifestyles. He offered and gave freedom from the distress caused by the sexual sins of the flesh.

Absolutely he respected women because his Father’s teachings and instructions are all about protecting and providing for women and children. He was not for women’s rights and bashing men – white, black or red. He saw men and women as ‘equal’ heirs to the Kingdom. He was not for women’s rights to murder their unborn children – or he would have been murdered himself in the womb. He was not for women’s rights to usurp the roles of men in the world. He loved and respected women FOR their roles in the world as wives and mothers who loved to serve not be served.

Anti-immigrant. I am reminded that he says that not everyone who says “Lord, Lord” will enter the Kingdom, only those who do His Father’s will. There is a difference between being an immigrant and joining a country through its laws vs. being an illegal alien who is kept out. He tells a parable about a man who attends a wedding wearing the wrong clothes and is thrown out of the wedding. For the man wearing the wrong clothes that seemed harsh, but for those who dressed correctly, it was justice. There are ways that seem right to a man, but end in death.

There are gates for entering the New Jerusalem and outside those gates are those who may not enter: “But as for the cowardly, the untrustworthy, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those involved with the occult and with drugs, idol-worshippers, and all liars — their destiny is the lake burning with fire and sulfur, the second death.” It seems that there are those who will suffer and die though they believe all sorts of lies. Christian witches will suffer and die a second death. Idol worshippers and liars will suffer and die a second death. The sexually immoral (LGBTXYZ) will suffer and die a second death. This is what the Bible teaches, if you don’t like it, then don’t pretend to know the Bible. If you don’t like the idea that God wants to transform you into His image, then stop transforming Him into yours!

Of course he wasn’t anti-semitic because he is of the semitic people who descended from Shem. Palestinians ARE anti-semitic and want all Jews/Israelis dead. Again, he wasn’t Palestinian, Roman, or any other nationality. He was Jewish.

As for gay-bashing, he is the visible image of the invisible God and the Word specifically says that homosexual behavior is an abomination to the Creator of men and women. Did he bash? The Scripture never mentions him meeting a gay person, but Sodom and Gomorrah were judged for their ‘behaviors.’ I also know this, had he met a gay couple, he would have told them to ‘repent’ and turn back to God. He would not have baked a cake for their wedding feast!

Fan of Donald Trump? Because he is God in the flesh and the Word of God says that He puts men in leadership for his purposes, I would say that he has a purpose for Donald Trump. Fan? That comes from the word ‘fanatic’ and the only thing he was ‘fanatic’ about was the Kingdom of His Father and those who enter into it. He was ‘fanatic’ about those who are lost and dying because he desired them to know the Truth and be set free so they could live eternally. He wasn’t a supporter of sin, but a redeemer from sin.

While we’re at it, lets just add that the name above all names wasn’t Jesus either – it was Yeshua. So, yes, STOP Americanizing the King of Kings, the Jewish Messiah of Israel. Read. The. Bible. Know. God. Know. Yeshua.

©2019 Tentstake Ministries Publishing

What’s wrong with this picture?

The Fire.

Pretty obvious, isn’t it? In any campground, USFS or even a private campground, this type of fire is not only NOT permitted, but reveals the foolishness of those making it.   Most ‘normal’ people wouldn’t even think to create such a potential disaster, but then in Alaska, most Alaskans aren’t normal.  And, yes, this was started by Alaskans.  

The actual tree fell during one winter.  The Forest Service – the name implies their job – did nothing to mitigate a potential problem. They cut this very tall tree into two huge pieces rather than bucking it so it could fit in the fire pits and be used as real fire wood.

This year they took a chain saw and mowed down small evergreen trees along the river bank leaving them there as what I call, Fire Fans. Why? Because people do not know that green wood doesn’t burn and these little branches will just produce embers that fly into the air. And, this is the US Forest Service trying to mitigate the forests.  Protect us from forest fires.  I’m sure Smokey the Bear would be a little disconcerted with what we had to deal with.  Yes, he’s in town.

What would you do in this situation? 

My husband called 911 who told him these people weren’t committing a crime!  What were they waiting for?  A forest fire? A fire arm exchange? Assault? We’re not sure what law enforcement up here considers a crime for all of you who watch “Alaska State Troopers.”  Two years ago when some disgruntled campers who squatted on someone else’s camp site left very nasty notes about my husband and stole our gas can that wasn’t considered a crime either.  It was ‘circumstantial.’ Circumstances such as this fire lead to crimes and well, what about Crime Stoppers?

He was also told by the dispatcher that we are in national forest and this fire is the responsibility of the National Forest Service.  However, they have no one working nights.  When do these events happen?  At night. This was 11 p.m. This is our tax dollars at work!

After being told this was no one’s problem and no one would help us, we called our son-in-law who volunteers for the local fire department.  From this day forward, we will call 911 to dispatch the fire department to an out- of-control fire in our campground. Our son-in-law and another firefighter arrived in a truck to deal with the situation. Unfortunately, my husband had taken issues in hand and they had nothing to do. That won’t happen again. We will walk away, let it burn and call the fire department. In any case, if the fire becomes full-fledged, its the Cooper Landing Volunteers who will be first responders any way. They actually care about the well-being of their families, friends, community and homes!

To make the situation even more ridiculous, the dude had an axe and a saw.  When he was ‘caught,’ he began to chop the tree into pieces (though he laid the burning branches on the ground thinking they would just go out).   Now, why not do that FIRST before starting the fire?

What we do with logs like this that keep appearing in camp sites is throw them in Cooper Creek or the Kenai River and rid ourselves of them forever. This will be the fate of this tree today and many others that campers love to put in these fire pits standing up like a beacon for starting a forest fire.

These are all the unbelievable things that we camp hosts find and discuss when we get together. These are the things that make us scratch our heads or do face to hand plants!   My husband went to check another campsite this morning and those campers had left their fire burning!

Our log home in Boulder, Colorado burned to the ground because of a small fire that still had embers.  When the wind picked up, the embers started some brush on fire and eventually, hundreds of people lost their homes, including the one we built with love and passion.   My trailer is now my home and my daughter lives here in her home with her husband and our grandson. An out-of-control- forest fire essentially could destroy both our lives and many other people’s lives we come to know in this beautiful state.

This is a good campfire! Thanks, Chuck!

The Tent.

Not so obvious is the tent is in the woods near the river and not on the tent pad in the camp site.  This is our responsibility as camp hosts/managers to deal with and they did move their tent to where it belonged after shutting down the fire.   There is a sign hanging on the tree that they walked by with their equipment that says, “No Tents Beyond This Point,” but again, Alaskans think the rules aren’t for them.  “We’re locals,” they remind us.  But, they are some of the worst campers we deal with from fires, to scattered toilet paper, to filleting fish on wooden tables in bear country, to leaving coolers out for bears and insisting their dogs can be off-leash because they obey voice commands. Really? An off-the-leash dog running into a bear will bring the bear back to you! Face plant!  

The Not-So-Obvious

The reason my husband found this disaster in the making at 11 p.m. was because these responsible campers had NOT paid for their campsite.  Though they ‘said’ as many do, they were getting around to it. They weren’t. They have 30 minutes to pay and in that 30 minutes they built a fire, set up their tent and went to bed! They wanted to camp free, pitch their tent wherever they pleased and have an out-of-control-fire.  Three strikes and they should be OUT, but we are only allowed to inform campers not enforce any Forest Service rules.

So, why do we do this? Because we love camping (glamping), the outdoors, visiting family, and meeting new people. Because there are so many other campers who obey the rules and don’t act like complete idiots (using the term an Alaskan State Ranger used in a recent conversation). We love meeting the good people, making new friends and enjoying beauty of the Kenai around us. Unfortunately, and it really is unfortunate, there are those few who blow our minds with their stupidity and put us on the front lines of battles with which we have no support from law enforcement. It is very unfortunate that in an area with so many campgrounds, there is no one to make rounds to enforce their own Forest Service rules. So, we will keep plodding on, learning in each situation how to deal with imbecile campers.

Oh, if you happen to be one of those, could you send me a note and explain why you do the things you do, including smearing poop on the walls of the toilets? Thanks.

©2019 Tentstake Ministries Publishing


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