The Other One


It was right there in front of me, and no one was watching.  On a normal day, I never would have thought about it.  I had never considered myself a thief, but it was hard times.  I needed the money.  And if it was needed by the owner, he wouldn’t just leave it out all alone.  I grabbed the coin purse.  A few other silver pieces were laying on the table, so I grabbed them also.  but just then, someone exited the nearby building, and looked straight at me.

“Hey! What are you doing?” He yelled, as I fidgeted with the coin purse trying to put it into the pocket on my robe.

I turned and ran.  My heart started racing, and adrenaline overcame me.  It was too easy to follow me, first of all, I left tracks in the soft dirt, and second, a cloud of dust was being formed behind me.  I had to outrun him.

“Stop him. Thief. Stop him!” Came the cry from behind me.  I obviously wasn’t alone.  I took a glance over my shoulder, and he was right there, only about ten yards behind me, on the pursuit.  I kept up my pace as best as I could, and so did he.  I wove around corners, and through the town, as if I was trying to escape a maze.  If he caught me, and turned me in to the authorities, the punishment would be harsh.  I knew I couldn’t get caught.

All of a sudden, my path turned into a dead end.  In front of me, was a wall.  I tried to think of a way to get over it, but it was impossible.  I turned around, and just like that, he was there.

I didn’t know what to do.  I thought about giving up, but giving up meant letting him turn me in, and the penalty for robbery was one that I did not want to accept.

“You’ll pay for this,” he said as he advanced.

I wanted to explain that I was in need of the money, but even then, that didn’t give me the right.  So I stayed silent.  I thought that if I fought him, and punched him a few times, I’d have a chance at getting away, and him never seeing me again.

So I moved closer.  He made the first move, and swung at me, but I leaned back and let his arm move right past my face.  And it was then that I saw my opportunity.  With my left arm, I jabbed towards his jaw, and made contact.  He definitely wasn’t ready for what came next. As I brought my left arm back, I used my momentum to produce a devastating blow with my right fist.  It whirled around his guard and caught his left ear, putting him on the ground.

I immediately took off running. I turned the corner looking back at my victim.

BANG!

I was on the ground and dazed.  For a few seconds, I was looking straight into the sky.  Then I saw a helmet, and a chest plate, and then a spear.  A Roman soldier!

There were two of them.  The one that knocked me over picked me up, and the other one grabbed my arm with a firm grasp.  I knew I was caught.  I knew this was very bad and that I had made a mistake.

The man I punched spent a bit of time on the ground.  The Roman soldiers did not assist him to his feet, for he was a Jew, and even though they were the authority, they didn’t like us Jews very much.  When he managed to get to his feet he came over to where they were holding me yelling.  He seemed very upset.

“What exactly happened?” The Roman soldier asked as he looked from me to the other man.

“Well, I was selling my clay jars outside of my home, and I decided to get a drink. I left my money bag on the table.  I was only gone for a few seconds, I didn’t think anyone would take it.  Then this man. . .” He said pointing at me. ” This man right here stole it, and I saw him take it right as I was walking back to my stand.  Then he ran and I chased him.  I know I’m out of shape, but when someone takes the money I have worked for all day, well, I am 15 again.  When I cornered him I tried to wrestle him down to get my money and he punched me in the face.  And then you two showed up. You should have been here earlier!”

The higher ranking soldier looked at me.

“And what do you have to say for yourself?” He asked.

I looked down in shame.  I had no excuse.

They marched me to the palace, well, more like I stumbled to the palace.  They chained both my wrists, and kept pushing me over as I walked to express their power.  They took me to Pontius Pilate.  He was the ruler over Jerusalem and I was about to be tried as a thief, and the use of violence was not going to help my case one bit.

When I stood before Pilate, there were no crowds.  The two Roman soldiers were there, and the one man whom I had stolen from.

He explained to Pilate what had happened.  And when Pilate asked me what had happened, I again had no answer.  I was guilty.  The punishment I was given was one that I thought was quite harsh.  Tears started to stream down my face as he condemned me to death, on a cross!  It was then that I tried to defend myself, but it was too late. Pilate had already left, and the soldiers turned me over to the prison guards.

I ended up staying in the palace jail for the night.  My one hand was bound in chains to the wall, and the other one was left free.  The floor was cold and damp.  I couldn’t sleep, but even if I was given a comfortable bed, I wouldn’t have been able to sleep.  I just thought about my life, and how I should have done it differently.  I prayed, and I prayed more.  I wanted God to save me.  I wanted God to give me one last chance.  Before I knew it, morning had come.  There were no windows, and the sunlight did not penetrate my cell.  The way I knew it was morning was that I could hear someone being beat out in the courtyard.  It signaled that the day had started, and someone was being beat badly.

The next thing I knew, a Roman soldier was standing at the door.  His keys clashed together as he found the appropriate one.  He grabbed me, and unlocked my hand from the chains.  He could tell that I was terrified, and didn’t even trouble with tying me up, he just grabbed me underneath the arm and walked me out to a courtyard where three wooden crosses lay.

Another prisoner was there.  He also was being held by a Roman soldier, but, he had his hands chained in front of him. I did not recognize this man.

All of a sudden, a couple of Roman soldiers marched a new man into the courtyard.  This man was bloody, and was only wearing his undergarments. I could tell that he was probably the man that was being beaten earlier.  As the man moved closer, he looked familiar.  And then, I realized who he was.  I had seen this man in the temple.

They forced me to pick up my cross. And they marched me out of the barracks and into the streets of Jerusalem.  There were crowds of people who lined the streets, watching as I trudged by, carrying the very thing that I would be nailed to.  I knew the crowd wasn’t there for me.  No one knew who I was.  I trailed behind the other criminal.  He was in front of me, he too carried his cross.  The crowd was not there for this man either.  The one that they were standing there for was a ways behind me.  He was the man who had been beaten and bruised.

When we got to the top of the hill which was called “The Skull”, they ripped my robe from my back, and laid me down on the cross that I had brought up with me.  Roman soldiers pierced my wrists, and my feet with nails as long as my hand.  The pain was overwhelming.

I turned my head to the right, and there he was.  His whole body was bloody, and he wore a crown.  It was a crown made from a plant; probably acanthus.  I watched as he was also nailed, and once all three of us had been attached, we were hoisted up, for all to see.

From Luke 23: 39-43 (NLT)

39 The other criminal on the cross turned his head as best as he could towards the man who was bloodied, and scoffed, “So you’re the Messiah, are you?  Prove it by saving yourself- and us, too, while you’re at it!”

40 I inhaled real quick, and protested, “Don’t you fear God even when you have been sentenced to die?  41 We deserve to die for our crimes, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong.”  42 Then I said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.”

43 Jesus allowed his head to swing partially towards me.  He took a breath and replied, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

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Chapter Two


Hey everyone, So I finished chapter two of my book.  I added chapter one before it so that you can read that before chapter two if you would like to refresh your memory.

Chapter One:

Welcome to my perfect life.  I couldn’t have it any better.  First of all, she was safe, and, I was safe!  And second of all, we were nowhere near where they were, and surely, they wouldn’t come looking for me.  This life, to us, was paradise.  Let me show you why!  The house was Victorian era, gorgeous, with two maple trees in the front yard, which made the loop of the driveway.  They had asked if we wanted the drive paved, since the dirt road had been eroding over time, but I steadily declined.  The dirt road gave it an authentic look.  The back yard though, was in mint condition and the view was spectacular, especially in the early evening. The shade of the mountain and lack of civilization made the stars visible even while the sun was still up.  This particular day was different, to some it might have been called a muggy day, but the mist being broken over the face of Cliffwall Mountain was indescribable.  We had decided that photography on a misty day like this could be profitable, so we were on our way to find a good place near the base of the mountain to capture the scene. She was in the passenger seat.  I really liked this girl, and the weird thing is, she really liked me too.  Her greenish hazel eyes was what had caught my attention the first time I saw her. Right out of the crowd.  But she must have noticed me that first time too; I’m sure she did.  But she had never given me the reward of knowing it.  Well that was then, now she was mine.  My best friend and the sexiest woman in the world, especially in her hiking boots.  Her fingers weaved their way through my light brown hair, while I kept my focus on the road.  When I was younger, I was a blond, but now it was much darker.  It was at least a few shades darker than her dirty blond hair, which she held as one of her favorite features.  And I promise, her hair wouldn’t disappoint even the most skeptical critics, as it sparkled in the sun.  That is, when there was sun.  But even without the sun, everyday with her was a sunny one.

Pause. I must have been dreaming. What is this empty bare mattress? Oh yea.  It’s mine.  My forehead is sweating, and I wish I could have continued in that beautiful dream, but unfortunately, I was back.  I closed my eyes for just another glimpse.  Just another glimpse at perfection.  So now what? I guess I should tell you the real story. What really happened to me.  It’s a long story.  But then again, I’m sure you have time.

It all started when I was fourteen years old. Old Man Jones down the street had made a deal with me.  If I brought him a percentage of my revenue, he would give me all the cigarettes I needed to sell to my school buddies.  Of course he knew I smoked most of the product to myself; he was still making money.  His deal with me was that I would sell the cheapest cigarettes he had in stock for top dollar.  And even though they were very expensive, all my friends would buy them from me because they were fourteen, and where else would a fourteen year old get tobacco.

 Chapter Two:

Let’s move forward a few years.  To the summer after I had graduated high school.  I was living in Dallas at the time, and just like every city in the United States, you could get in with the right crowd, or get mixed up with the wrong crowd.  Unfortunately for me, I had gotten in with the wrong people.  I had told myself early on, that I would never get into a gang, and thankfully for me, I hadn’t.  But drug dealers, that was a different story.

“Hey man, what you doin’ here? You lost?”

I turned my head from my Ipod to where the voice was coming from.  The guy looked rather intimidating, and his under-shirt revealed a tattoo sleeve on his right arm.  I rolled the driver window down a little further so I’d be able to explain myself better.

“Nah, I’m waiting for a friend.  He told me to meet him here.”  I answered.

“Who you waiting for white boy?”

“Josh.”  I said, right as the guy made it up to my window. “Joshua Everton.”

That answer must have sufficed, because he seemed to lighten up after I gave him Josh’s full name.

“Oh, you roll with Josh.  Well if you friends with Josh, you friends with me too.  I’m Dwayne.  I had to ask you what you were doin’ here, we don’t see many white guys around everyday.”  He explained.

“It’s cool, I’m Eric.”  I replied.

Eric.  That’s my name.  Eric Landon Hartman.

I saw Josh exit the building through the door directly in front of my car.  “Hey Dwayne, you messin’ with my boy?”  Josh said as he walked toward the car.

“No, I just didn’t know who he was.  Just being careful bro.”  Dwayne answered.

Dwayne walked back toward the building.  Josh walked around the front of the car and got in the passenger side.  He lit a cigarette and rolled down the window.

“Where we headed?” I asked as I turned out of the apartment parking lot.

“We gotta stop by Adrian’s, he’s got some stuff for us.” Josh said through the smoke coming out his mouth.

“Alright, and what’s this stuff he’s got for us?”

I knew exactly what he was talking about, but what I was referring to, was the quality?

“He said this was some new stuff.  Some good.  Said it had orange hairs all over it.” He answered.

“Good.  We might make something off this, instead of barely breaking even.” I rejoiced.

This news got my blood pumping.  In the last few weeks, everything that had come our way was of the lowest quality, and low quality meant low prices, which meant no profit.  Josh and I both were in need of the money; him probably more than me, since I still lived with my parents.  But Josh had finished high school two years before me, and he was on his own.  He and I had known each other since my freshman year of high school.  But we were never good friends until about a year ago.  Josh was a pretty big guy.  And when I say big, I don’t mean fat.  In high school, he played football, and even now, he did his best to keep up the muscle.  Josh pulled out two cigarettes, he handed one to me, and lit his.  I lit mine while I kept my eyes on the car in front of me.  My left hand reached over to the door and I rolled the window down slightly to allow the smoke to escape.  Right about then, Adrian’s house came into view.  The house was pretty nice.  Red bricks made up the exterior, and the grass and plants around it were kept up.  Though it was nice, it was also small.  Adrian lived by himself, and thus, didn’t need much space.  I pulled into the driveway, and cut the engine off.

“You got that envelope?” Josh asked as we made our way around the side.  Adrian didn’t like us using the front door, so we would just walk around back.

“Yea for sure!” I answered. “Everything’s in there.”

“Good.”

Josh opened the wooden door, and it creaked ever so slightly.

“Hey Adrian, it’s Josh!” He yelled out.

Adrian had always told us to just come on in, but he also told us to yell out so we wouldn’t startle him.

“I’m in the living room,” was Adrian’s reply.

We made our way into the living room.  Josh shook Adrian’s hand and I followed to do the same.

“What have you been up to?” I asked him as I sat down on the couch across from him.

“Not too much, I was at the bar last night, just woke up two hours ago.”

Adrian did look like he had just woken up.  He wore sweatpants, and a loose white t-shirt.  He stood about 5 foot 9 inches.  He had light brown skin and dark hair, cut short.  I didn’t know how old he was, but if I had to guess, I would have said he was in his late twenties.

“What was going on there?” Josh inquired.

“To be honest, not much at all.  But my boy was DJ so I told him I’d come out.  Not too many people showed up though.” He replied. “But anyways, I got some new stuff for you.”

He got up from the couch and headed into the next room.

“Oh.” He said as he turned back towards us, “we gotta finish business from last week while y’all are here.”

“Yea man, Eric’s got it all ready for you.” Josh announced.

“Perfect, I’ll get the book.” He said as he left the room.

Missionary vs Humanitarian


Feeding the hungry, and taking a humanitarian stance on helping people in the world.

OR

Feeding people spiritually and showing them that Jesus Christ is the savior of the world.

Which one of these is more critical?  Which one of these would Jesus value more?  Well we see in the Bible, that Jesus spent a lot of time talking about how we should feed the hungry, help the widows and those who cannot take care of themselves.  We also see in the Bible that Jesus told his disciples that they should go into all the world proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ and that they should make disciples.

In the last few years, I have run into a conflict.  I have heard Christian humanitarians say: “you cannot tell the truth of Jesus to those who are dead, so we should feed the hungry and be humanitarians.”  I have also heard Christian missionaries say: “What good is it if they are fed only to die later without hearing the good news of Jesus Christ.”

But to be honest with you, I believe that humanitarians and missionaries are not very different at all.  Why is it that they have to be separate?  I know of many organizations that do both, and I am very glad that they are, but I still hear about these conflicts between humanitarians and missionaries.

The church, which is the people who love and follow God do not need to be separate on this view.  The Bible, especially in Paul’s writing, calls the Christians to live in unity.  Paul writes that every believer is given different spiritual gifts, and that every spiritual gift works to further the kingdom of God.  Why is it that we argue the question of humanitarian or missionary?

This is my view.  I believe that the humanitarian should go to whatever country they go to and feed, love, give, and take care of anyone and everyone that needs it.  Providing this help is what Jesus wants them to do.  When they provide this help, when they connect with those people, they will be presented with opportunity to tell those people why they decided to go help. And then, they can explain that it is because of the love of God, and the sacrifice of Jesus Christ that they have come to give of themselves.  I believe that the missionary should go to whatever country they go to, and tell about Jesus and work as hard as they can to show Christ’s love in every situation.  And then, when those people are in need of food, or shelter, that missionary can become the humanitarian and provide what they need.  The humanitarian is also a missionary.  The missionary is also a humanitarian.

There does not need to be a conflict between these two positions.  God has called both the humanitarian and missionary to be witnesses of the true love and power of Jesus Christ.

-Zachary

The Trigger


A bead of sweat drips down from my thumb.  Even though my hands want to tremble, they cannot.  They rest as they are.  I watch for the perfect opportunity; looking for a way to reach my target as quickly as I can.  My eyes scan the scene for anyone in my way.  My finger wants to pull the trigger, but I do not.  Patience.  My finger sits there stationary.  At last, I pass the last line of defense, and my target is in sight.  I aim, and I squeeze the trigger. . .

GOAL!  Pinkston gets the hat trick.  Third goal of the night, as the puck ended up top corner missing the goaltender’s glove by inches.  I raise my hands in excitement, holding the xbox controller in the right one.  Thank goodness for hockey, and thank goodness for NHL 2011.

Opportunity


Look at your watch, and take a deep breath.  Hold it for as long as you can, and then exhale.  How many minutes passed?  According to the Population Reference Bureau, 108 people die every minute.  Think about that for a second.  No, keep thinking about it!

An infant may have died in that minute.  Maybe it was an old woman, who had lived her life to the fullest.  But what if, in one minute, a mother and her child die because they weren’t able to find enough food to feed themselves.  The Population Reference Bureau also gives wealth statistics.  It said that 48% of the world population live on less than U.S. $2 a day.  Last time I checked, Taco Bell sold one taco for $1.19, and that isn’t including taxes.

When I think about it at a personal level, I feel extremely grateful that I was given the chance to live.  I grew up with opportunity.  Do you know what that opportunity was?  It was life.  Thinking about it makes me want to do something to help others.  Whether that is standing up for those who are dying of hunger, or those who are dying of unclean water.  It doesn’t matter.  I just want to do something.  I feel like while I am at university, my life is standing still, and that my ability to do something to change the world is non-existent.  But I do know this: when I leave this place, I will find a way to make a difference.  I don’t want to waste the minutes that I have been given.

There’s a viral video going through out the world right now about Joseph Kony.  Joseph Kony is the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army, who have been abducting children in Uganda and The Democratic Republic of Congo.  He uses these children as child soldiers to further his own cause.  He uses the boys as soldiers, and hardens them by forcing them to kill, and the girls he abducts, he uses as sex slaves for his soldiers.  Invisible Children is the non profit organization that released this video.  Invisible children was started in 2003 by three college age guys who decided they weren’t going to waste their life.  They decided to make a difference, and change the lives of those who never had opportunity.

We are not immortal.  We all will die.  But there are those who die without the opportunity to actually live.  What we need to do, not as a country, but as people, is to genuinely care about people.  Voice your opinion, and force the leaders of the world to notice those who cannot voice their own suffering.

This post took 32 minutes to write and edit.  During the making of this post, 3456 people died.  It could have been you that died in the last 32 minutes, but if you are still alive, don’t waste your life.

-Zachary