Josiah Justice: Living Out Loud

 My Josiah turned 12 years old today!  Years ago, I wrote a little book for and about him to teach him God’s truth in a fun way.  He’s been after me to have it published for other kids to read ever since.  My goal was to convert it into an e-reader by his birthday today but I didn’t make it in time.  So, I’m posting a bit of it here as a page on my blog to officially “publish” it before his special day comes to a close.  I’ll continue to add more until the whole book is “published” for him.  It’s considered “middle grade” fiction, so if you have 8 to 14 year-old kiddos, (or have time to read it yourself) we’d love to hear what they (or you) think!  

 
Josiah Justice is an everyday lukewarm kid whose world is absolutely turned upside down when he comes face to face with the highest power of the universe.  The Christian walk takes on a whole new meaning when the Master entrusts various supernatural powers to the young boy.  Armed with nothing but faith, Josiah enters an unseen spiritual realm of angels, demons, miracles, and warfare.  Readers embark on an incredible spiritual journey as they live out the adventures of Josiah and the uniquely gifted team over which he is given charge. Transported through time and space via an invisible elevator, Josiah wages war on evil, restores justice, learns Bible history, builds Christian character, and cultivates an intimate relationship with his Creator.  Fiction and truth collide, teaching young and old that they have a God-given purpose on this earth and an abundance of genuine God-given power with which to fulfill their destiny.
 
 

How it All Began
(A long story made short!)

I’m just your average everyday kid – or at least I used to be. My name, Josiah, actually means “Fire of the Lord.”  There was a great king Josiah in history who took the throne at only eight years of age.  You can read all about him in the Bible.  When I was little, my mom always secretly believed that something special would happen when I turned eight years old, too.  Boy was she shocked when it really did!

Actually, things started getting pretty freaky back in first grade when I was only seven years old.  School was not going so well.  A lot of the teachers considered me to be a discipline problem.  In my opinion, this was due to one tiny character flaw on my part.  Justice.  It’s something I can’t seem to live without.  No matter how hard I try to mind my own business, I simply can’t keep my mouth shut when someone is suffering an injustice – especially if that someone is me!  I’ll stand up to anyone or anything in order to bring about the justice I so desperately crave.  Obviously, bucking those in authority over me causes quite a bit of conflict.  It didn’t take long for my teachers to grace me with the nickname “Josiah Justice.”  Because I was always in and out of the principal’s office for righting wrongs that really weren’t even my business, the name stuck pretty hard.

I was beginning to experience some strange things. I tried to keep them to myself, but one day I accidentally slipped and mentioned to my teacher, Mrs. Cooper, that I felt as if I were in an elevator.   Mrs. Cooper was pretty concerned about me since we were in a school, in a classroom, and there was absolutely no sign of an elevator anywhere.  To make matters worse, I told her that the elevator was actually invisible but I was definitely in it.  Well, you guessed it! Note home.  I don’t know which news was more shocking – my parents finding out that their child just might be nuts-o or me finding out that no one else in the world feels like they are on an elevator!

My parents had lots of questions about the elevator.  Was anyone on it with me?  Was I on it all the time?  Where was it going?  I answered the best I could. It was all so confusing – I really didn’t know what was going on.  Things cooled off in time.  Mom and Dad stopped asking questions and I stopped mentioning the elevator.  Days would pass, sometimes even a month or two, before I was on it again.  In fact, I never knew when it was going to happen.  For a year I tried to predict it.   No luck.  It happened when it happened, and I had no control.

If you aren’t shocked yet, then hold onto your seat!  Before I turned eight, the elevator just existed.  Everything would be totally normal and then all of a sudden I would be enclosed by a completely see-through box.  At first, I tried to get out. I walked forward. BANG! Ouch! I stepped back a few steps. BAM! Sheesh! There were no buttons and no floors to get off on. Nothing ever happened.  I’d stand until my feet started to hurt and then I’d sit – wondering why I was there. Eventually, the door would open and I was free to go.

Not long after my eighth birthday, I woke up one night to hear a voice calling my name.  Okay, Okay….I guess I should tell the story the way it really happened.  I was secretly reading a book by flashlight under my covers even though dad said “Only ONE chapter and lights out!”  (I can’t help it!  I LOVE to read!)  I ran into the living room.  My parents were watching the news on television.

“What?” I asked.

“What, what?” Dad responded.

“Why did you call me?” I asked, glad for an excuse to be out of bed.

“Nobody called you.” Dad looked puzzled.  Mom looked concerned.  They sent me back to bed.

This continued to happen as I grew older.  I’d hear a voice calling my name but no one was ever there. About three years passed, and just as I was beginning to entertain the dreaded thought that something was terribly wrong with me, my life changed in the blink of an eye. One day as I was in the elevator waiting, (bored out of my mind, I might add!) that strangely familiar voice spoke something other than my name for the very first time.

Chapter 1
Kodesh

“Josiah, you are now ready.”

I immediately felt the presence of another in the tiny elevator. Another being…but not necessarily human. I couldn’t see anyone there but I certainly could feel someone. The small room was beginning to heat up. A deep warmth began to spill over me as if someone was pouring rays of sunshine over my head. My heart was racing. My head was pounding, and I was beginning to get dizzy.

“Who said that?” I managed to squeak out. “Are you a…a ghost?” The words sounded dumb the second they escaped from my mouth. A ghost? Come on….I’m eleven years old. Nobody believes in ghosts anymore…maybe elementary school kids, but not –

My thoughts were interrupted by a friendly chuckle. “I guess you could call me that.”
The voice was quiet and gentle. Even though I was scared out of my mind, I somehow felt…safe.

“Where did you come from?” I asked.

“Josiah, I have been with you since you were four years old. I know every strength you have…” The voice paused. “And every weakness.”

“Whoa. Now wait just a second. That can’t be possible.” I was beginning to get suspicious of this strange guest in my elevator. “What’s my favorite food?”

“Spaghetti.” The voice answered without hesitation.

“Who’s my best friend?”

“Will.”  Again, it did not struggle with the answer. This wasn’t working. I needed to come up with something really tough.

“Okay. Here’s one you’ll never get. How did I get this scar on my forehead?”

“You rolled off of the bed when you were five months old.”

“Hey! You said you’ve only been with me since I was four. How do you know things from when I was a baby?” This was getting way too creepy for me.

The voice was much more serious but still strangely soothing. “Josiah, I am Ruach HaKodesh, Breath of the Living God. Some call me the Holy Ghost, some the Holy Spirit. You can call me Kodesh for short. I have only been with you from the day the Master acquired your soul. However, I have open access to all information in both the earthly and the spiritual realms. I work for Yahweh, the highest reigning power of the universe. Humans call Him God. He sees to it that I am well equipped to do my job. Understand that every single thing that you or anyone else in this world does or thinks is known to Him. He sees every thing done in secret. He reads your thoughts like a book. Nothing goes unnoticed.”

Whoa! It took me a few minutes to process everything. “So, you know about the time I snuck that ice cream bar in the bathroom?”

“When your mom found the wrapper hidden under the rug you blamed it on your little sister because she was too young to speak and defend herself.”

“Yeah. I was going to come back for that later and hide it at the bottom of the trash.” Waves of embarrassment flushed over me. “That was uh…pretty rotten, huh?”

“Josiah, I’m not here about any of that. I’m here because we have much to do. Time is running out quickly and you must be trained.”

“Trained?! Trained for what?”

God’s Work

“You, my friend, have been set apart by Yahweh, Most High God. An amazing destiny awaits you. Yahweh will release His Spirit within you. Your eyes will be opened to see things in a world far beyond what is before you now. Your ears will hear things that do not resonate in the ears of others. Your heart will know and beat in tune with the very heart of God. You are favored among men. You must choose now if you want to follow Him and do His work.”

My head began to spin. This had to be a dream. What kid works for God?!! I’d gone to church all my life. As far as I could tell, there were only three “churchy” jobs that people did for God: the preacher, the music leader guy, and the old lady that plays the piano. I didn’t have the slightest desire to do any of those jobs. BOR-ING! I was really hoping to become a scientist one day…

Another warm chuckle filled the room, this time louder than before. I knew that my mind had been read. “Hey! You’ve gotta stop doing that!” I moaned.

More laughter rang out. “I can’t! You’re a funny boy. I’m going to enjoy training you more than I thought! There are many jobs people can do for the Lord. Some only require a small amount of commitment. Most people live their entire lives at this level. Yet others choose to devote their life to Yahweh. They serve Him through gifts of pastoring, service, music, teaching, or in whatever capacity He may choose for them. From others He requires much more. It is a life of great discipline and complete surrender, but with it there is also great adventure! I can tell you this. You absolutely will not be bored.”

“Why me?” I whispered.

“The answer to your question lies in who you are as an individual. You have an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. You hunger for righteousness. You are determined to bring about justice in every situation. These are very rare qualities in humans today. It is written that the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him. Just as the great king of old did, you turn to the Lord with all of your heart, soul, and strength and you do what is right in His sight. He is pleased with you.”

“I’m just…just – a kid.” I stammered. “Kids don’t do God stuff.”

“No, God does ‘God stuff.’ He just chooses to work through humans sometimes. You may not see it much, but children are just as capable of doing ‘God stuff’ as adults are. When a child accepts Jesus into their heart they are given the same Holy Spirit that an adult is. There’s no junior Holy Spirit. I guess you could say one size fits all.”

I had never thought about it before but it made sense. Kodesh was right. I guess it is possible for kids to do work for God, but why would God choose to work through kids instead of grown ups?

“Children are pure in heart and mind. They are more aware of the spiritual side of things because they have not yet learned the world’s way of rationalizing everything. Most adults have lost their ability to believe in the supernatural and thus do not have the amount of faith necessary to generate results. First, you must learn to take risks and step outside of the natural world as you know it. Follow me.” His warm glow began to ascend.

The Upper Room

“What? Are you crazy! I can’t just fly off somewhere!” Before I could finish my argument, a warm wind began to whip around my legs. It rushed up and over me and my entire body was lifted from the ground. I looked down at our beige carpet. Two feet, four – I was already six feet off the ground. This was really happening! But how? Though my mind kept reminding me of all of the scientific laws that were being broken at the moment, I was completely at peace. How strange to feel so content and in control when things were so out of control. I continued to soar through the air trailing the warm glow of Kodesh. Suddenly, we came to a stop and entered what appeared to be a man-made room in the heavens.

Benches occupied by other humans lined the four walls of the room. I found an empty spot, sat down, and began to look around. The room was filled with a feeling of great expectancy. Everyone was anxiously awaiting the arrival of something. What could it be? I wondered. And then I knew. In came a man, or was he a spirit? I couldn’t tell. He was tall and strong and his face was aged but kind. I could tell that he smiled a lot from the creases around his lips and eyes. He had thick hair and piercing deep-set eyes. It was Him! Yahweh! The Living God! My heart began to pound so hard that I thought it just might burst out of my chest. The almighty, all-powerful King of the Universe! I was instantly mesmerized by Him. In fact, I couldn’t look away even if I wanted to. I had lost all control of my body. I continued to stare as He worked His way around the room. He appeared to be spooning something into everyone’s mouths. It looked like vanilla ice cream. To one he gave just a spoonful. To another he gave a larger portion. Another received a whole scoop in a bowl. Yet another shook his head.

 “I already see and hear. I do not need it.” The unknown man said.

I didn’t know what the white stuff in the spoon was, but somehow I knew that that guy was making a mistake and was missing out on something really good.

Yahweh came closer. I could feel His magnificent power radiating across the entire room. I tried to stand when He came to me, but instantly fell to my knees instead. My head was at His feet. I didn’t dare look up. I was too scared. He knelt and rested His strong hand on my shoulder. I raised my head to meet His loving gaze. He was smiling.

 “Welcome Josiah. I’ve been waiting for you.”

I couldn’t believe my ears! Yahweh, King of the Universe, was welcoming me! Welcoming me to His…uh… His strange room full of people. Things were getting more and more unusual by the moment!

“For my Josiah…” He paused. “I have something special.” He handed me a bowl filled twice as full as any other. It held the mysterious white cream. “Eat until you are full.” He instructed.

I began to eat the white cream. It was sweet like ice cream – but not cold – and it also had a little zing at the end. I was perplexed. What in the world was this stuff? I turned to question someone else about it when I realized that everyone else was gone from the room. It was just me and Him. He spoke again. “The walls are made of it as well. You may return any time you like and eat more.”

I hadn’t noticed the walls before. I glanced around. Sure enough, they were made of the same white cream except it was firmer – more like cake icing. “Where are we?” I asked.
“We are in your Upper Room – a place free from the distractions of the world. This is where we will meet from now on. You may come here any time you wish and I will be here waiting on you.”

“How do I get here?” I asked. “Fly?”

Yahweh laughed. “No. Simply go to a quiet place. Clear your mind of any distracting thoughts and focus on me. Then you’ll be here.”

“What does the cream represent?” I asked.

“It is the anointing. I determine how much you start with but the supply is endless. Any other questions?” He grinned knowing full well what I was dying to ask.

“What is the elevator for?” I blurted out.

“Ahhh.” He laughed. “Transportation might be hard to come by for an eleven-year-old boy. It is how you will travel to some of your training and most of your missions. You have a great deal to learn. I have put together a team – those chosen and set apart to do my work. The time has come for you to lead that team. Each member has their own gifting. They are all different but equally important. That is all you need to know for now. Remember, I’ll be waiting for you in your Upper Room.

Instantly I was back in my room at home as if the entire thing had never happened. “Good grief!” I thought. This was not going to be an easy thing to explain…even to mom, who halfway expected it!

Exhausted, I climbed into bed and pulled up the covers. I could worry about an explanation tomorrow.

Chapter 2
Seeing Things

The next morning I awoke early. I stretched my legs out as far as I could and pointed my toes. CLUNK! Something fell off of my bed. It sounded heavy and large. “What the…?” I wondered. I didn’t remember leaving anything on the bed last night. I threw the covers back and leaned down to see what it was. There on the floor lay a huge shiny sharp sword!

“Oh no!” I gasped. Where had this come from? I carefully picked up the sword. It was more magnificent than anything I had ever seen before. And boy was it HEA-VY! I scanned the room for a place to hide it. No, I couldn’t just hide it. It was dangerous. I had to get it out of here. I started tiptoeing out the door hoping I could slip past the kitchen without anyone noticing.

“Where do you think you are going with that?” The voice startled me. It was Kodesh.

“Oh, it’s just you.” I sighed with relief. “Is this yours?” I attempted to hold up the heavy sword.

“No silly, it’s yours. It’s the one your parents got you for Easter several years ago.”

“What?” I looked down at the sword again. It had to be several hundred years old – maybe a family heirloom from years passed. There was something engraved into the blade. I didn’t recognize the language. I definitely had never seen the sword before in my life. “What are you talking about? My parents got me a…” I trailed off. I looked back down at my hands. I was no longer holding the ancient sword but my beat up children’s Bible complete with colored pictures and maps.

“I don’t understand. It’s just my old Bible. Where did the sword go?” I glanced around my room but the weapon was nowhere to be found.

“Remember Josiah that your eyes have been opened. You no longer see only in the natural world. You can now see into the spiritual realm. It’s going to take some practice though. Your Bible is your sword! Do you not know that the Word of God is living and active? It is sharper than any double-edged sword. The Bible is not just a bunch of boring words on a page. It is your most valuable possession, so hold onto it with your life. You need to make reading it a priority. A soldier must know his weapon if he intends to use it.”

I wasn’t so sure about the ‘soldier’ part, but I grabbed my Bible, dropped it into my backpack, and headed off to the breakfast table.

“Are you okay honey?” Mom asked.

“Huh? Oh, yeah sure mom. I’m fine.”

“You seem like you’re off in another world or something. You’ve been awfully quiet this morning.”

She didn’t know the half of it. I wasn’t about to rile everybody up again with talk of elevators or spirits or white edible anointing cream or swords. “Just thinking Mom.”

Jane

I hopped on my bike and met my friend Cody at the end of the street. We raced for awhile until our legs began to burn and then slowed down to a normal pace. Cody was still a good ways behind me. When I got to the old overpass my new spiritual vision seemed to kick in and something caught my eye. Instead of quickly riding straight through as I usually did, I stopped and began to walk my bike. There stood a beautiful woman, her long curls waving in the cool morning breeze. Her soft blue eyes sparkled as she smiled at me. My mother had warned me to stay away from strangers, but somehow I just knew that this woman had a good heart. Her eyes told me so. She waved me closer. “What’s your name? I’m Jane.”

Before I had the chance to respond Cody caught up with me and cut me off, his back tire throwing up a spray of gravel. “Josiah! Stop! What are you doing? That’s Crazy Jane! Crazy Jane the bag lady! We shouldn’t be here.”

I saw Jane’s sweet smile fade as she overheard Cody’s cold remarks. She dropped her head and ducked back into the shadows of the overpass. As we passed through, I turned and looked back over my shoulder. Crazy Jane’s tangled mass of unwashed hair whipped around her dirt-stained face. Her tattered clothes were mismatched and several sizes too large – as usual. I wasn’t so sure about this whole seeing in the spirit realm thing. I began to feel sick deep in the pit of my stomach. I had just seen the middle-aged homeless woman through a new set of eyes…God’s. I saw who she really was. Not what physical circumstances had made of her. The image of who Jane truly was stuck with me throughout the day. I could not stop thinking about how I…how everyone always treated her. It had never really bothered me before – back when all I saw when I looked at her was a smelly old homeless lady. Now that I could see her the way God sees her…special, beautiful, valuable…I felt deeply ashamed of how I had judged Jane and ignored her obvious physical needs of food, clothing, and shelter. “Lord –” I prayed. “Please help me to see people through your eyes. Help me to see what you see and not what the world sees. And please help me to somehow make a difference in Jane’s life. Amen.”

The New Girl

I ran into class just as the bell rang. The classroom was buzzing with excitement. It didn’t take me long to figure out why. There was a new girl standing near the teacher’s desk. A handful of students encircled her, excitedly telling her all about our school. I studied the new girl for a few moments. She had golden blonde hair with just enough natural red in it to warn you that she was full of spunk. Her dark eyes sparkled with mischief and looked almost as if they were laughing. She seemed to be completely at ease in her new surroundings. In fact, she was so comfortable that it appeared that everyone in the class was trying to get her approval instead of the other way around! A born leader you might call her. Fascinated, I watched as my entire class gave her their full attention. When she spoke, they listened.

The school day passed without much more excitement. As I was heading out the door, the new girl ran after me. “Hey wait up!” She called.

Surprised, I turned around. Was she talking to me?

“Hi Josiah. I’m Gabby. Well, Gabriella, but you can call me just Gabby.”

“Hey just Gabby. What brings you to our school?”

The new girl shot me a goofy grin. “Okay wise guy! You don’t have to add the ‘just’ part! And, if you must know, I’m here on a mission.”

I felt the warm thickness of Kodesh nearby. I was beginning to recognize his presence right away now. “Gabby will be training with you in the days ahead. You will work together as a team to accomplish Yahweh’s work. Gabby’s quite different than anyone you’ve ever known. Yet, there are many parts of her that remind me of you! I’ll tell you now that you two aren’t always going to get along that well. You both like to lead. You must remember that you are a team that must work together to get the Lord’s work done. Don’t let pride get in your way or Yahweh will pass your calling to someone else.”

Gabby and I stood facing each other in awkward silence. Neither of us knew how to respond. Finally she spoke. “Well, I’ve gotta get! I promised my mom that I’d come straight home after school. See ya when I see ya!” Gabby darted off.

I could still feel Kodesh nearby. “She seems easy enough to get along with. So who else is on the team?”

“Well, for starters, your sisters Joy and Grace.”

“What?” I stopped in my tracks. “Oh, no! That’s not going to work! How in the world am I supposed to work with them?”

“I don’t make the rules and neither do you. This is Yahweh’s operation. If you want to be a part of it, you have to grow up and get over that kind of stuff. Time is much too short to waste on sibling rivalry. Drop the attitude about the girls now or take it up with Yahweh Himself.”

I had never heard a stern tone in Kodesh’s voice before. He sounded like my mom when she was fussing at us for aggravating each other. I could just hear her nagging voice inside my head. “That is NOT acceptable in our home! You WILL NOT treat each other that way!” She would always make us hug without complaining and whoever was at fault had to apologize and the other one had to forgive them. Bleck! Kodesh had made it quite clear that he wasn’t going to put up with it either.

“This is going to be a lot harder than I thought!” I moaned. “So what does Joy have? The gift of giggle?” I snickered at my own joke.

“No Josiah. Joy is a healer.” Kodesh patiently answered my question. His voice was gentle again but I could tell he didn’t appreciate my nonsense.

“A healer? What is a healer?” I blurted out.

“Why don’t you ask her yourself?” Kodesh countered.

Chapter 3
Joy

I looked up to see my two sisters walking toward me. Uh-oh! Double trouble! Well, they weren’t actually trouble, but that’s what I liked to call them. Joy and Grace were born only a year and two weeks apart, so naturally they were like two peas in a pod. If you found one, you found the other. Grace looked a lot like Joy – same eyes, same nose. A few less freckles. Darker hair. Just about everyone thought they were twins though their personalities were extreme opposites. Joy was ultra sweet, full of joy, silly, and gentle. Grace was strong and tenacious. She didn’t give up easily. In fact, she didn’t give up at all. She was tough on the outside but tender on the inside and not about to let anybody know it.

“Hey! Who are you talking to over here?” Joy asked.

“Uh….no one.” I said, dragging the toe of my sneaker through the dirt.

“Uh huh! We saw you moving your mouth. He must be talking to his imaginary girlfriend.” Grace teased. “Josiah has a girlfriend! Josiah has a girlfriend!”

Grace’s sing-song taunting was driving me crazy and I desperately wanted to lash back at her with some teasing of my own, but I kept my cool since Kodesh was nearby. “I was just thinking out loud. So Joy, uh….today somebody told me that you are a healer. Is it true? I mean…what does that mean anyway?”

“I don’t actually do the healing.” Joy giggled. “That’s Yahweh’s part. I just go where He says to go and do what He says to do.”

I gasped. “What did you say? I mean who…uh…how do you know…Yahweh?”

Joy looked at me with genuine confusion. Grace had the same strange confused look on her face for a split second before her expression turned sour. “Hell-o Josiah.” Grace was clearly annoyed. “You’re not the only one who God can use. Just because you’re so smart, you think you’re better than everybody else…”

I didn’t let Grace get to me. I was still stuck on the healing part. “You actually heal people for God?” I looked Joy straight in the eye.

“No, Yahweh God heals people. I just get to be a part of it.” She corrected me.

“What do you…er, I mean what do y’all heal them from?”

Joy grinned. “Oh you name it!  I can do cuts, strep throat, infections, sore backs, knee injuries, cancer…” She paused. “And then there are emotional and spiritual healings as well.”

I was dumbfounded. I didn’t know what to say. When was all of this happening? Had I been too caught up in my own life that I missed it all? No, that couldn’t be possible. I didn’t believe her. “Prove it!” I challenged.

“Prove what? What do you mean?” Joy asked.

“I mean do it right here right now.”

“It’s not like that Josiah. I can’t just do whatever I want. It has to be the will of God.”

“That’s what I thought. Anything that happened in the past to make you think that you were a healer was probably just a coincidence. You probably haven’t really healed –”

“Enough!” Kodesh interrupted. “I’ll allow it. Show him!”

“I don’t know.” Joy stammered. “We’re not supposed to test the Lord. I’m not sure if it’s such a good idea.”

“Permission granted. Go ahead and show him.” Kodesh encouraged Joy.

“But he does not have faith.” Joy was still hesitant.

“It doesn’t matter. Yahweh knows Josiah and knows that he cannot believe until he sees it for himself. Sort of reminds me of ol’ doubting Thomas from the Bible days…”

“But there is nothing to heal. No one is sick.”

We all started moving around, checking ourselves out. Nothing. “Oh I know! I’ve got a wart!” I yanked my shoe off and peeled back my sticky sock, twisting my leg around like a pretzel to reveal a perfectly round wart on the bottom of my sweaty foot.

“Ewww!!!! Gross!” Grace shrieked.

“I guess we can do a wart.” Joy bowed her head. She appeared to be concentrating really hard.

“What’s she doing?” I whispered to Grace.

“She’s asking Him what to do.”

“Asking who?”

“Yahweh!” Both Kodesh and Grace exclaimed in a semi-whisper.

Just then Joy looked up and spoke directly to my wart. “Wart, shrivel up and die – just as the fig tree that Jesus cursed did.”

I held my breath. Joy said nothing. Grace looked bored. I didn’t feel anything. “Is that it?” I exclaimed.

“Yeah.”

“I didn’t feel anything! Nothing happened. I knew you weren’t –”

“Well, at least take a look.” Kodesh interrupted.

I sat down on the ground to examine my foot. I wasn’t sure what to expect. The wart had started out really small and unnoticeable. In a few months, it had grown almost to the size of a dime. It had become so sore that it hurt even when my bed covers brushed against it at night. But right now, I couldn’t feel anything at all. I sucked in a deep breath and began to inspect my smelly foot. “It’s working!” I screamed. The puffy wart that had been a soft yellow-y flesh color was now brown and dry and crusty. It actually looked like it was dying. I couldn’t believe my eyes!

Joy smiled shyly. “It should be gone in a couple of days.”

“Joy….I’m sorry. It is real!! I guess I don’t really pay that much attention to you. It’s just that…you’re so…quiet. I never knew you could do stuff like this!”

The truth was that I hadn’t really paid attention to anybody or anything in a long, long time. Things had gotten so bad at my old school that I sort of just shut down. I was always in some sort of trouble whether I meant to be or not. So, I tuned everybody else out and did my own thing. Life had obviously gone on without me though.

“You’ve had a lot going on. It’s really not a big deal.”
Not a big deal!! Oh yes it was a big deal! I had read about Jesus healing people in the Bible, but that was hundreds of years ago. And he was… well…Jesus! He could do things like that. But a tiny little girl…the whole concept was really hard for me to grasp.

Kodesh interrupted my racing thoughts. “Looking at it this way might help you to understand better. Picture yourself as a mailman. Your job is to deliver packages, right?”

I nodded.

“Okay, so the packages aren’t actually from you personally, are they?”

“No. They’re from whoever sent them.”

“Exactly! They are from whoever sent them and your job is simply to get them to the correct recipients, right?”

“I guess so.”

“So, Joy is a mail delivery person. Yahweh has a ‘package’ of healing for someone and He uses her to get it to them. It’s not from her. She is simply the instrument He uses here on earth to ‘deliver’ the healing. Does that make sense to you?”

It did make sense. But by her appearance, Joy seemed like the farthest thing in the world from a healer. Not to mention the fact that she was only a kid…and a girl…and my sister for that matter!

“There you go again.” Kodesh gently corrected me. “Age does not matter to Yahweh. Children are just as effective as adults. He can use anyone or anything to do His work. In the Bible days, he gave a donkey the ability to see His angel and then He let it speak out loud to correct a man!”

“That’s right!” Joy giggled at the thought of a talking donkey. “I read about that the other day. It’s in the book of Numbers, I think.”

I looked over to see how Grace was handling everything. She stood, unaffected, chewing on her thumb nail. “So, uh…does Grace have a part in all of this stuff?” I asked.

Grace rolled her eyes at me and perched her fist on one hip. “My gift is just as important as yours.” She dramatically announced. Attitude seemed to ooze out of her. I couldn’t help but to wonder how Yahweh could possibly use her to do His work.

Kodesh spoke up. “She’s right Josiah. Your gift is uniquely yours and it is very special. But it’s not any more important than hers.”

Grace stuck her tongue out at me.

Grace

“Grace will also be part of your team. She’s what we call a ‘Seer.’ She sees past the things in the natural world.”

“Kind of like how I saw the homeless lady through different eyes.” I offered.

“Not exactly. She operates with a higher anointing. Yahweh usually communicates with His seers in pictures or in visions. They are extremely creative and often very artistic.”

“And…she sees spirits that others are unaware of.” Joy chimed in.

“Spirits?” I asked. “What kind of spirits? Evil spirits?”

“Yes sometimes. But also the Lord’s ministering spirits. You know…angels.” Grace spoke the words with a calm certainty that surprised me.

I glanced over at Joy to see if this was some kind of joke. She was not laughing. Her face was thoughtful as she spoke. “Josiah, don’t you remember when Grace was around two and a half years old? Remember how she would point out angels in our bedroom? At first, Mom and Dad didn’t think much of it. They would explain her unusual behavior by telling others she had a vivid imagination. Now that Grace has grown older and has begun to open up and share what she actually sees, we can be sure that God has given her a rare and unusual gift. Mom and Dad prayed that the Lord would send a teacher to train us – as they had no idea what to do with daughters who heal and see things that others do not. Not to mention a son who claims that he is on an elevator all the time!” Both girls giggled. “Not long after that Kodesh began revealing himself to us. He’s been with us ever since. We’ve all been waiting on you…you know, to sort through your struggles.”

“Yeah.” Grace added. “Kodesh is helping me work through everything. When you live in one world but see into the other, it’s hard not to combine them. Sometimes I even get them confused. Some of the kids in my class think I’m weird. Some say I’m crazy. It gets pretty scary at times, too. I never wanted to be this way and a lot of times I really don’t like it. But I’m learning to let Yahweh use me. I don’t care what others think about me – only what my Savior thinks. And, Kodesh is always by my side. I’m never alone.”

“Okay girls.” Kodesh interrupted. “I think Josiah has had enough for today. We don’t want to overload him. Josiah, take the rest of the afternoon off. Rest. Think.”

Think. Indeed I needed to think! My thoughts were bouncing around in my brain like someone had dropped a whole case of super bouncy balls right into my head. BOING! BOING! BOING! What had happened to my family? How had my sisters changed so much in the past couple of years? They seemed so…so grown up…and so spiritual. They already knew so much about God. Goal number one: catch up fast!

Chapter 4
Armor

I walked into church Sunday morning and took a seat. Within minutes, I was approached by a woman I knew to be called Mrs. Donna. Mrs. Donna had been going to our church long before I was even born. She was a lovely woman – kind and very soft-spoken. She didn’t speak much, but when she did – it was important. Mrs. Donna knelt down beside my chair and whispered, “I’ll be fitting you for armor today. Come with me.”

Mrs. Donna, or “Mama D,” (as I would soon find out that everyone else called her) carried only a Bible. As we walked I wondered where she kept all of the armor. Why did I even need armor? Wasn’t I going to look goofy walking around in a set of armor anyway? The girls weren’t wearing any…

Kodesh suddenly made his presence known. “Relax, Josiah. Donna is an old friend. She’s going to fix you up nice.”

Mrs. Donna and I sat down at a small table. She reached across the table and took my hands in hers. She began to pray over me, thanking God for me and my willingness to be used for His purposes. Then she began to weep. Her cries turned into strange sounds that I could not understand. It sounded almost as if she was speaking in a different language. I sat quietly with my head bowed, unsure what to do. She finished, wiped the tears from her eyes, and met my gaze. Her soft voice was now strong and clear. “Josiah, has Yeshua –” She hesitated for a second. “Has Jesus forgiven your sins?”

“Yes ma’am.”

“Have you asked Him to come into your heart and be your Lord and Savior? Have you allowed him to become the boss of your life?”

“Yes I have.” This was one thing I was certain of. In fact, I had asked Him more than once – just to be sure!

“You are the King’s child. That means that His enemy is your enemy. Do you know who His enemy is?”

I laughed. “The devil, of course! Everybody knows that!”

“Correct. Satan is God’s enemy. And you need to remember that he is also your enemy. He doesn’t waste his time bothering people who aren’t living their lives for the Lord. He focuses on those who are doing what God wants them to do – those who are bringing God’s Kingdom to this earth. I’m warning you now that you will be targeted by him. You’ve got a big bullseye on your head and it’s only a matter of time before he finds you. The Bible says that he comes to kill, steal, and destroy. He’s been doing that since the beginning of time and he is pretty good at it. You need to put on your armor for protection. Do it every day. You must not forget! Personally, I like to start from the head and work my way down. So let’s start with the Helmet of Salvation.”

“What is a Helmet of Salvation?” I asked. I was used to knowing all of the answers in school. But all this spiritual stuff was new to me. I didn’t have a clue what it was all about.

“When you pray to Yahweh God, ask Him to place a Helmet of Salvation on your head. Just as a helmet made of metal protects your physical head, this helmet protects you spiritually. It drowns out the lies of Satan for one thing. You won’t ever be able to be mighty for God if you are listening to the devil’s lies. You do know that Satan is the father of all lies, right? Every lie on earth originates from him.”

I nodded. I had heard my preacher say that before. I hadn’t really ever thought about it much though. But now, as Mrs. Donna spoke, I realized that every single time I stretched the truth even a little, I was pleasing my ENEMY! My stomach turned as I imagined slippery ol’ Satan whispering lies into my ear. Gross! “What else does the helmet do?” I asked.

“Well, it protects the mind. Our mind is what tells our body what to do. It controls our actions. Satan tries to attack your mind by putting bad thoughts into it. They may be mean or ugly or selfish or impure. When you act on those thoughts, you sin. When you asked Jesus into your heart, you were given a new mind – the mind of Christ. His mind is pure and righteous. It stands up against sin. Each time you put that helmet on, you have to take off your old mind and allow room for the mind of Christ to rule you. Satan will always send evil and impure thoughts your way to tempt you. It’s not a sin that a thought pops up in your head. But you need to take control over it and send it out. Don’t invite it in to sit down, drink a coke, and chat with you!”

“I get it. Even when I don’t want them to, those thoughts are still going to come to me. So I have to choose to have Christ’s clean mind instead of my old dirty and sinful one.” I was relieved to hear what Mrs. Donna was telling me. Satan definitely fills my mind with all of that junk on a pretty regular basis. I just didn’t know that there was a way to stand up against it.

Mrs. Donna continued. “When I put my own helmet on, I always ask the Lord to give me eyes that see others the way He sees them.”

My heart began to beat faster. I had just prayed that prayer about Jane! I was already heading in the right direction!

“I ask that He give me ears that can hear His voice and the will power to actually obey His voice. I ask for a nose of discernment so that I will be able to tell right from wrong. Next, I ask that He will put a guard on my mouth so that I will not say anything that is ugly or hurtful to anyone. I only want good things to come out of my mouth. Remember that whatever comes out of your mouth is actually overflowing from your heart. If filth comes out of your mouth, then it is time to do a heart check.”

“Wow.” I said. “That helmet covers a lot of things. I can see why it is so important. What’s next?”

Mrs. Donna stood up. “That’s all we’re going to work on for today. I’ve given you a lot of important information. I don’t want to overwhelm you with any more. You need to go home and spend time thinking about everything we’ve talked about.”

“Oh no….” I moaned. “You can’t do that to me. You tell me the nastiest, most evil creature on the planet is out to get me and then only tell me about a helmet to protect myself! Nuh-uh! I’m not going anywhere until I hear about the rest of that armor!”

Mrs. Donna laughed. “I’m glad you realize how real this is Josiah. A lot of children do not seem to understand just how destructive Satan and his demons are to our lives.” She reached up and placed her hands on my shoulders. “After the helmet, we move to the Breastplate of Righteousness. The Bible says that there is not even one person in the world that is righteous on his own. We don’t have a choice; we are born as sinners. Righteousness is like being clean and pure and right with God. When we come to Jesus as sinners, we are dirty. Jesus washes our filthy sins away with His blood and covers us with His righteousness. We still make mistakes from time to time. Satan is always watching so he can remind us of those mistakes and try to condemn us, or make us feel guilty when we mess up. When the devil tries to attack you and point out your failures, you need to remind him that you have already been forgiven. Not only that, but God doesn’t see your sin anymore because his son Jesus’ righteousness covers it all up!”

Mrs. Donna stood up and walked away from the table. “Josiah, how often do you read your Bible?”

“I read it a lot.”

“Ehhhhh!” The sound came out of thin air but I recognized it. Kodesh had buzzed me as if I was a contestant on a game show who had given the wrong answer.

“What?! I do!” I defended myself.

Kodesh wasn’t giving up that easily. “If you call quickly scanning a verse or two every once in awhile without even thinking about what it means ‘reading,’ then I guess you’d be right.”

Kodesh was right. I knew it deep down inside my heart; I just didn’t want to admit it. I had really tried to get into the Bible a few times in the past, but it always seemed kind of boring. I either could not understand it or didn’t feel that it related to this day and time. So, I just kind of quit trying.
“Boring, you say?” Kodesh had done it again. He echoed my unspoken thoughts out loud in his best game show host impersonation. “Well, it’s your lucky year! You’re about to experience the life and times of Jesus like never before. Adventure, danger, and the greatest love story in history await you.”

I couldn’t help but smile at Kodesh’s silliness. I could tell by his tone that he wasn’t just trying to be funny, though. He was up to something. In fact, I had a feeling that my life as I knew it was fixing to turn upside down!

Mrs. Donna’s kind voice snapped me out of my thoughts. “Josiah, that can easily be taken care of. You simply need to ask Yahweh to help you to love His law. You see, a lot of people think that the Bible is just a boring old book of rules that keeps them from having fun. But we know the truth! It’s not a bunch of rules that we have to follow, but a set of instructions to ensure that we have an awesome life. We’re privileged to have it! If we love the word of God and live by it, then we are choosing righteousness. The Bible is so much deeper than most people think. Yahweh uses pictures and stories and symbols to reveal Himself to us. The more time you spend reading the word, the closer you grow to God the Father.”

“Mrs. Donna?” I interrupted. “Uh….where are the… uh….the pieces of armor that we are talking about?”

“What do you mean?”

“You know, the helmet, the breastplate….where exactly are they? You keep saying that I need to put them on everyday….”

Mrs. Donna’s face broke into a grin. “Sweet boy! You’ll never see them in the physical world. You’re not actually going to be able to feel them either. They exist only in the spirit realm. But that definitely doesn’t mean they are not there. Once you choose to put them on, every spirit, good or bad, can clearly see them. Often, demons with little power will see that you are protected and won’t even bother with you – as they know they cannot harm you.”

My jaw dropped open. “You mean to tell me that every day I am supposed to put an invisible suit of armor on to protect me from invisible evil spirits that want to destroy my life?”

“Yes, I’m afraid so. I know that it sounds crazy, but it’s absolutely true! Read your Bible if you don’t believe me. You can find the spiritual armor in the sixth chapter of the book of Ephesians. God’s word makes it very clear that we are in a battle against things that are not human when it says, ‘For we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.’”

I didn’t know what half of those powers and ruler things were – but it sounded like they could not possibly be good. The more I learned, the more I didn’t want to leave that room without every single piece of God’s armor on!

“After that, we need to put on the Belt of Truth. This one’s really important. All of the other pieces of armor depend on it. In order to do Yahweh’s work, you must be grounded in the truth. You need to know the word of God. Read it. Know what it says in there. You also must live in truth. Truth is the sincerity of the heart. If you want to be close to God, you have to be completely honest with Him. Those who walk in the truth have pure motives and nothing to hide. It’s important to be transparent, or truthful, with yourself, with God, and with others. No matter how bad the truth may be, hiding it or telling a lie to cover it up will always make things much, much worse. Try to make a heart check part of each day. Ask yourself if you are on good terms with God. Check to make sure that you are not willfully choosing to sin. Sometimes sin hides. Ask the Lord to shine His light of truth on you and He will expose any sin that exists in your heart.”

The idea of God shining His big holy flashlight deep within the shadows of my soul was intimidating to say the least. A shiver ran down my spine.

“Next, we put on our Good News Shoes so that we can spread the good news of God’s salvation wherever we go. The Bible tells us that the only way to get to God the Father is through His son, Jesus Christ. There are people all over this world that are on their way to hell because they don’t have a relationship with Jesus. Some are busy trying to ‘earn’ eternal life in Heaven by being a good person or by doing good works. They don’t realize that the salvation God offers to us is a free gift. It can’t be earned. Some have flat out chosen not to follow Him. Some actually believe there’s a God and know all of the right facts about Him with their mind, but still do not know Him in a personal way. Others have never even heard the good news! It’s our job to go out and tell them. Ask that God will give you boldness to walk in your Good News Shoes. I like to call them Shoes of Peace because they carry us to offer genuine peace to those who do not know our Savior. Truly knowing Yahweh brings an inner peace like nothing else in this world. Not only should you be ready to take the gospel of peace everywhere, but when you walk into a room, others should notice the peace that comes with you. You should never stir up trouble or upset others. This one is hard if you have brothers or sisters, but …you should have enough control to keep from fighting and bickering with them.”

I raised my eyebrows at Mrs. Donna. This definitely would not be easy. My little sisters drive me crazy! If there is one area of my life that I lack self control in, it’s right here. Mental note: work on the Shoes of Peace!

“After you’re fully dressed in your armor, you need to lift up your Shield of Faith. When we lift up that Shield of Faith, or trust in the Lord no matter how bad things get, all of the arrows and fiery darts that Satan launches at us will fall to the ground and we will not be affected by them.”

“What are the arrows and darts?” I asked.

“Oh they can be just about anything. But worry, fear, sickness, discouragement, temptation, evil thoughts, and doubt seem to be his favorites. The list is endless. He never runs out of ammunition.”

“I’ve always thought those things were just part of living life. I never knew that they were sent specifically from Satan to try and destroy me. What a creep! I hate him!”

“That’s good Josiah! You should hate Satan and you should hate sin. Satan is your worst enemy and he absolutely HATES that you have chosen to be on God’s team instead of his. His goal is to take you down before you can share Jesus with anyone else or do any of God’s important work. God didn’t leave you defenseless though. In addition to the suit of armor that He gives us for protection, He provides every Christian with a sword to attack back with. The sword is the Bible, the very words of Yahweh. When you speak them, they release the power of the King of the Universe.”

I was stunned. All this time I had full access to God’s power and I didn’t even know it. “The sword.” My words tumbled out in broken sentences. “I…I saw it. I mean I have it already. In my room. Kodesh said something about it but I didn’t understand then. I didn’t know.”

“When you’re in the middle of a battle, you don’t just leave your sword in its sheath. You attack with it! You’ll never win if you just run from the enemy. Jesus spoke the word of God to overcome Satan every single time he attacked. We are supposed to do the exact same thing. That means that you need to spend time…lots of time…reading your Bible. You need to know it up and down, back and forth, and cover to cover. Spend time thinking about what it says and ask the Holy Spirit to give you understanding when you need it. Did you know that most Christians don’t even know what the Bible says? They don’t even bother to read it! You may be really busy with school and homework and sports. Turn off the television. Forget about the video games. Prepare yourself for the battle we’re in. It’s not an option! Your destiny is too important! We must know the word if we want to survive Satan’s attack. And we must know God the Father if we want to spend eternity with Him in Heaven. I cannot stress it enough! Spend time in your Upper Room.”

“Oh right! The Upper Room. I was supposed to go back there… ” I thanked Mrs. Donna for all of her help. She had definitely given me an earful. I probably would not remember it all, but I was ready to start somewhere.

 “Oh. One more thing.” I said to Mrs. Donna as I headed out the door. “Why did you call Jesus ‘Yeshua’ earlier – you know, when we first started?”

That gentle knowing smile flashed across her face again. “Because that’s His true God-given name. I call Him by the name His earthly mother and father, Mary and Joseph, and everybody else from His day called him by – ‘Yeshua.’”

“Huh?”

“Jesus was a Jew. He spoke Hebrew, not English. The name ‘Jesus’ came about when the original scriptures were translated into various languages.”

I looked at Mrs. Donna like she was crazy. I had never heard anyone call Him any other name than ‘Jesus’ before. “Is there anything wrong with calling him Jesus?” I asked, unsure whether or not I really wanted to know the answer.

“Not at all. I’m certain He knows you are talking to Him.”

“Then why don’t you? Er, I mean…why do you call him Yeshua then?”

“Well…” Mrs. Donna scratched her head. “I grew up watching television program re-enactments of Jesus teaching His disciples and doing miracles speaking in English! I never thought any different. I was a grown adult before the light bulb in my head finally came on. One day my older brother told me that Jesus’ name really wasn’t Jesus. I didn’t believe him. I wanted to check it out for myself. So, I did. I began to learn about the times and the culture in which Yeshua, Jesus, lived. I found that my big brother was right after all.”

I guess I was still looking at Mrs. Donna like she was some kind of freak or something. I didn’t mean to. My brain simply didn’t want to process the news. When you’ve known it to be a certain way for so long, it’s kind of hard to switch gears.

“Don’t just take my word for it. Go home and do a little research. Look into it for yourself. Never just assume you’re being told the truth. Always search out the truth.

Chapter 5
Jesus was a Jew?

As soon as I walked through the door to my room, I grabbed my laptop and typed in the keywords “Jesus,” “real,” and “name” into the Google search bar. Yep! Plain as day, it was there just as Mrs. Donna had said. How strange that all this time we’d been calling Him by a name that isn’t really His name. I wondered what He thought of it. I wondered what I should call Him now that I knew the truth. It certainly would be difficult to cross over and call Him by His real name, Yeshua, because I was so used to saying Jesus. On the other hand, just about anybody in the world would freak out if you told them that Jesus’ name really isn’t Jesus. Maybe I should just stick with ‘Jesus’ to keep from stirring up trouble. Then again, if it were me, I would want people to call me by my real name. It would be down right weird for somebody to call out, “Hey Brian! Come look at this!” to me.

“Kodesh?” I whispered. “You there?”

“Always Yoshiyahu.”

“Very funny.” I knew exactly what Kodesh was doing. “Yoshiyahu” was some foreign way to pronounce my name. He wanted me to see how it felt to be called by name in a different translation.

“Hebrew.” He blurted out the origin of the name.

“What?”

“Yoshiyahu is Hebrew for Josiah.”

“Oh yeah. I figured it would be something like that.”

“So?” Kodesh questioned me. “Did it bother you?”

“No, not really. But, I just like Josiah better.”

“Good answer. It’s fine to call him ‘Jesus.’ It doesn’t bother Him. First of all, He knows your heart. He knows that you are trying to talk to Him the best you know how. He knows that His Holy Bible has been misinterpreted over the years and that most Christians have absolutely no understanding of who He truly is. That’s why I’m here – to lead you into all truth.”

“But it sounds so…so Jewish!” I interrupted.

Kodesh’s gentle laughter warmed the room. “Lesson one.” He paused for effect. “All of those Sunday school posters of Jesus as a handsome white man with blue eyes and soft brown flowing hair are WRO-ONG.” Kodesh was using that game show host voice again. “Read your Bible for goodness sake! Jesus was a JEW born into a JEWISH family in the JEWISH village of Bethlehem which is located in Israel. He was NOT an all-American boy! He grew up and lived His entire life on earth following the Jewish culture. He wore Jewish clothes. He ate only Biblically kosher foods. He read Jewish scriptures, kept the Jewish Sabbath, celebrated the Jewish feasts, and followed Jewish customs. He spoke Hebrew – not English. So when his mother called Him home from a friend’s house, she called ‘Yeshua.’ That’s His true Hebrew birth name that literally means ‘salvation of God.’ Hebrew names are extremely personal. They aren’t chosen because they sound cool. They really mean something. They’re important because they tell about the character of the one they are given to. Whether you call Him Jesus or Yeshua, one thing is pretty evident. You don’t know Him very well.”

I flopped down on my bed overwhelmed and slightly humiliated. Kodesh had ever so politely shined a light into my supposed knowledge of Jesus Christ and exposed that there was practically nothing there. He left me there in silence to sort through my thoughts.

“Um…Jesus…oh, sorry! I forgot! Well, um…it’s me, Josiah. I just wanted to thank you for um…giving me some new truth today. And well…I just wanted to tell you that I do want to call you by your real name. But I’m just not really ready yet. I want to…to get to know you better first, so that I can say that I truly know Yeshua. Because I don’t. But I want to. And you deserve it. So please keep sending Kodesh to teach me. Amen.”

Healing in Her Pockets

 It was 4:30 a.m. and I was sound asleep – ‘was’ being the key word.  One minute I was nice and cozy under my covers and the next I was jolted awake by a hard turn to the right.  I rubbed the sleep out of my eyes and looked around.  I was zooming across my front yard into my grandparents’ yard next door.  The only thing was, I wasn’t dreaming!

 “Uh, Kodesh?”  I called out through the early morning darkness.  “Any reason I couldn’t have walked?  I mean, they literally live right next to me.  No need to waste elevator gas or whatever it is that powers this thing.  And can’t it wait until a more reasonable time anyway?  A kid’s gotta sleep, ya know?”

 “There is a set time for every thing.  His time has finally come.”

 “His time?”

 “Yes.  Be quiet and watch.  I’ll explain later.”

 The elevator came to a halt in my grandparents’ dimly lit kitchen.  My grandfather sat alone at the kitchen table.  His old gray leather Bible was open in front of him just like I had seen it so many times before.  I watched as he silently read and prayed, unaware of my presence.  Then, almost as if someone suddenly turned up the volume, I could hear his unspoken thoughts out loud.  Lifting his hands into the air, he cried out to God for the gift of healing.  A few seconds later, Joy came wandering into the kitchen.

 “Huh?  What is she doing here?”

 Before Kodesh could answer, I remembered that Joy had asked to spend the night with Granna and Grampy.  “Can he see her?”  I asked.

 “No, not this time.”

 Joy was wearing a white silk dress that I had never seen before.  It was long and lovely and it swished as she moved.  She began to dance gracefully around the kitchen table.  To my natural eyes, she looked rather ridiculous.  To my spiritual eyes, she looked kinda beautiful.  As she danced, an amazing aroma filled the air.  It was sweet like candy.  The sweet perfume, somehow now in the form of a fine shimmery mist, was actually rising up out of the pockets on the front of her dress.  It encircled Grampy and swirled around his sitting body.  After a few seconds, it came to a rest on his outstretched palms and disappeared.

 Joy quietly left the kitchen and headed back to bed.  Amazed, I lingered and watched as my grandfather curiously examined his hands.  Had he felt the mist?  I couldn’t stand the suspense!  “What was all of that about?”  I blurted out.

 “Joy just imparted her gift of healing to your grandfather.”

   “She has healing in her pockets!  Cool!”

For Kodesh’s sake, I tried to re-focus my thoughts.   After all, he had brought me here to learn something.  “Did you say she ‘imparted’ it to him?  Like gave it away to him?”

 “Sort of.  It’s more like sharing it with him.  She still gets to keep it.”

 “But why?”

 “Your grandfather has prayed to receive a power gift of healing every day for the past ten years.”

 “Oh I get it.  Yahweh finally decided to answer his prayers.  Ten years sure seems like an awfully long time to make someone wait for an answer to prayer though.”

 “Josiah, Yahweh answered his prayer a long time ago – the very first time he asked.  The answer wasn’t ‘yes’ or ‘no,’ it was ‘wait’ on my perfect timing.”

 “He’s almost sixty years old.  Why does he need the gift of healing all of a sudden?”  I wondered out loud.

 “Well, Yahweh will soon move your grandfather and his young son, Robert, into an incredible healing ministry.  People will come from everywhere to be touched by his hands.  Together, as a team, they will change hundreds of lives and lead them into Yahweh’s kingdom.”

 Wow!  I was sure that Grampy had no idea what God was up to.  And Granna – well she was just not going to believe the awesome plan in the works for her little Robert.

 Robert came to live with them fresh out of the hospital.  He was born and immediately taken from his birth mother by the state child protective services.  Because of the very poor life choices his mother had made, he was put in the care of foster parents.  Granna never saw him as just a foster son but as her true little boy.  Not long after his first birthday, Grampy and Granna adopted Robert as their own son.  A day didn’t go by that Granna didn’t pray that the Lord would bless him with a spiritual gift and use him in a mighty way.  It seemed that Robert would not have to wait near as long as Grampy to find his destiny…

 Dark Beings

 The next morning when I woke up, I was tired.  Really tired.  Really tired and grumpy.  So, naturally, when Grace came into my room without permission and totally ruined my new comic book, I jumped all over her.  I yanked her hair out and she pounded me from head to toe with her fists.  Boy was she strong!  It hurt!  The fight continued to escalate and by the time mom got us separated, we were both angry, hurt, and in tears.  Mom sentenced us both to our rooms for the rest of the day.  Practically bored to death, I sat down on my bed and felt sorry for myself.  “I just can’t stand her.”  I muttered through clenched teeth.  “Why does she have to be so stinkin’ mean?  She’s tougher than any girl I know.  Shoot, she’s tougher than any boy I know!”

 “Okay.  That’s it!”  Kodesh was using his no nonsense tone again.  “Let’s go.”

 I wasn’t so sure I wanted to go anywhere.  “Where are we going?”  I nervously asked.

 “You want to know why she’s so tough… I’ll show you why she’s so tough.  Let’s take a little trip back in time.”

 I blinked once and found that I could see myself and my mom and sisters grocery shopping.  My youngest sister, Glory, was happily riding in our cart, playing with a toy cash register.  “Hey, I recognize that toy.  Mom bought it for her yesterday.”

 “Correct.”  Kodesh confirmed.  “Was it a normal shopping trip for you?”

 “Of course.  Miserable to the very last second.  I…hate…to…shop!”

 “Did you see anything out of the ordinary?”

 “Um….”  I thought for a second.  “I saw a guy with a mohawk and a metal spike coming out of his chin.”

 “Why don’t you have a look at what Grace saw?”  Kodesh said in his ‘up to something’ tone.  Instantly, I was lifted from the ground.  Air surged into my face as Kodesh thrust me full force into the virtual Grace.  We collided and became one.  Now, everything I saw was through her eyes.  All of the people looked the same, but they weren’t alone.  The single guy with the mohawk that I had seen the day before now walked arm in arm with two other creatures.  The one on the left ducked its head down low.  Its shoulders were raised and tense and it was clear that the creature lacked confidence.  Made of smoke, the words “Self Pity” formed a ring around its head.  The being on the right side of Mohawk guy was the exact opposite.  An angry scowl sat upon its face.  It was dark and ugly.  It walked with great force – almost dragging Mohawk guy and critter number one behind.  Just as they passed by our grocery cart the creature turned toward me and snarled the word, “Rebellion!”

 It caught me so off guard that I let out a scream.   “Who are they?  WHAT are…?”  I tried to ask Kodesh what the disgusting things were but now they were everywhere I turned.  Many were calling out at me interrupting my attempts at getting an explanation.  Some held signs, some had words on their bodies, some spoke.  Some made horrible gestures.

 An older man walked by.   A critter was sitting on the man’s shoulders with its legs crossed over his chest.  The creature glared to the right and then to the left.  He grasped both hands tightly around the man’s throat as if he was trying to choke the life out of him.  “Unforgiveness” was his title.  My mind was going wild.  I had seen that exact guy the day before…minus the evil being, that is.  He had seemed nice enough.  Did he know that the horrid creature was trying to kill him?  How could he not?  Everyone was acting so normal.  Why couldn’t they see what was going on here?  Thoughts poured into my head and I began to panic.

 Everywhere I looked I saw the beings.  “Pride,” “Hatred,” “Anger,” “Fear.”  A young married couple walked side by side ahead of us.  His creature was “Lust.”  Hers was “Jealousy.”  A small boy ran from his mother.  She chased him through the aisles threatening to spank him when she caught him.  Even he was not alone.  He weaved merrily through shopping carts and shoppers with a whole group of the critters chasing after him.  “Selfishness,” “Deceit,” and “Hate” were just a few that I had time to see before they darted out of sight.

 Even though I had no idea what they were, I knew that they were bad…REALLY bad!  They were all so nasty and unsettled.  Some would reach out at other shoppers and try to grab onto them.  Some sneered, some called out, some cackled, some moaned.  It was too much for me.

  “ENOUGH!”  I screamed.  “I can’t handle it anymore!”

And with that Kodesh removed me from Grace’s body and took me safely back to my room at home.

 I sat quietly on my bed, still shivering at the thought of the dark beings.  I didn’t dare ask what they were this time.  I didn’t want to know.  Kodesh spoke and confirmed my worst fear.  “They are dark spirits, Josiah…demons.”  His voice was calm and collected as if it were no big deal.

 “Well, it isn’t a big deal.”  Kodesh quickly responded to my unspoken thought.  “At least not for those who have turned their lives over to Yeshua.  Through Him, you have complete power over them all.”

 “Even so, I can’t stand to see them!  I don’t feel so good.  I think I’m gonna puke.”  I complained.

 “Not such a fun spiritual gift, huh?”  Kodesh went on.  “Pretty hard to stay upbeat after seeing that, wouldn’t you say?”

 I knew where Kodesh was headed.  He had already proven his point to me.  Grace wasn’t tough because she wanted to be.  She was tough because she had to be.  Yahweh specifically created her that way so she could handle the job He chose her for.  “I guess I should be more considerate of others.”  I muttered, embarrassed of my intolerance.  “After all, you never know what they are dealing with on the inside.  Well…you do Kodesh, but I don’t.  And I don’t think I want to either!  Are they actually there all the time?  Uh…I mean for Grace to see.”

 “The spirits are there all the time.  They will inhabit anyone who will allow it.  If you give even an inch, they’ll take a mile.  Most humans have no idea that they are carrying these dark spirits around with them.  But no, Grace does not have to see them all of the time.  That part of her gifting is only activated as necessary.  It’s one of the most difficult gifts for humans to operate in.  The person holding the gift must be strong and unwavering…or in your words ‘tough.’  There is no room for weakness.  They must trust Yahweh fully and they can’t give up because of the pressure.  The ability to see spirits is not desirable, but it comes in really handy when someone is in need of deliverance.”

 “I’m sure glad I don’t have to worry about those things.”  I sighed with relief.

 “Well sure you do!  They aren’t your friends are they?”

 “No.”

 “Then they are your enemies!  You need to do battle and get rid of them for good!”

 “Me?  Why me?  I don’t know how to do that.  And even if I did know…I still probably couldn’t actually do it!”  I protested.

 “Why?”  Kodesh countered.  “And don’t use the ‘I’m just a kid’ excuse.”

 “Well…I’m…I’m just…just regular.  I don’t have any kind of special powers.  I don’t see things or heal others and I certainly can’t overcome any evil.  I really don’t have anything to offer…”

 “I know.”  Kodesh cut me off matter-of-factly.  “You don’t.”

 His words hit me like a ton of bricks.   He continued, “And that’s what makes you so perfect for the job.”

 “Huh?”  Now he really wasn’t making sense.

 Kodesh began his explanation.  “Those who actually think they have something to offer Yahweh God are usually a complete waste of time.  They are arrogant and proud – un-teachable.  But those who know they stand empty-handed before a holy and all-powerful God can be used to do mighty things!  The fact that you can’t do anything spectacular is exactly what qualifies you to do Yahweh’s work.”

 “But what is my work for Yahweh anyway?”  My words came out almost as a whine.

 Kodesh’s presence surrounded me like thick warm honey.  “Josiah, Yahweh has chosen you to help bring about His justice here on earth.”

 My mouth dropped open.  (That was happening a lot lately!)  In the past, every time I had tried to get justice for something, I got into trouble!   “Like be a judge for God or something?”

“Not exactly.  Bringing about the justice of Yahweh is simply returning what the enemy has stolen from His people.  You see, every aspect of Yahweh is good.  But His enemy is entirely evil and is always on the prowl stealing from Yahweh’s children.  The Master has chosen you to return those good things that belong to His children.  As you learn to lead your team, you must remember that no mission can be completed without the power of Yahweh God flowing through you.  Different giftings will be required for each assignment and you must coordinate them to work together in unison.  Now go get some rest!  Tomorrow is lesson one for Josiah Justice and the Spirit-led Gang!”

   Chapter 6

Covenant

My normal life as I knew it no longer existed.  My days as a regular boy were over.  In a matter of a week or so I had been stripped of my childhood innocence and given the keys to a brand new life.  One without all of my favorite things: video games and toys and television.  But, one with purpose.  One with adventure.  One with power beyond measure.  Stepping into my destiny was going to be really difficult, but it felt so….so right!

Kodesh woke me up bright and early as he had a lot planned for my first day on the job.  “Load up Josiah.  We’ve got to pick up the rest of the team.”

As each member of the Spirit-led Gang squeezed into my elevator, I watched them fidget.  We were all very excited, but also nervous and even a little scared.  Kodesh had recently invited Grampy to become the newest member of our team.  Though Grampy had made it very clear that he was coming to learn rather than to chaperone, we all found great comfort in travelling with an adult.

Grace spoke up and broke the silence.  “So, where are we headed to Boss?”

“The palace.”  Kodesh’s voice was calm and steady.

“The what?”  Gabby and I both spoke at the same time.  Joy giggled.

“Uh…the last time I checked, there weren’t any palaces around here.”  My attempt at being funny fell flat.  No one laughed.

“Lesson one is on trust.  You will not be able to step out and do mighty things in faith unless you fully trust Yahweh.  You will not be able to fully trust Him until you understand His commitment to you. Today you will witness covenant.”  Kodesh did not offer any extra input.

“Like a marriage?”  I asked, hoping he would give an explanation.

“Marriage is in fact a covenant, though few people realize it.   A covenant is a binding agreement between two individuals or even two groups of people.  Each party makes promises to the other one.  A covenant is sacred.  According to the Bible, it cannot be broken under any circumstances.”

“Well that can’t be right, because married people leave each other all the time.”  Joy struggled with the concept.

“That’s true Joy.  The idea of covenant has little value in the world you live in.  Your modern world treats a covenant casually and honors it only when it is convenient for them.  But that’s not how it used to be and it is definitely not how it is supposed to be.  In Biblical days, a covenant was much more than a legal agreement between two people.  Covenants lasted for many generations after they were made.  It didn’t matter if circumstances changed over time or not.  People kept their word.  They did not violate the contract they had entered into.”

The elevator came to a stop.  I looked up.  Two young men stood in front of us.  One was dressed in beautiful garments.  His appearance, posture, and mannerisms were clearly those of royalty.  The other young man looked as if he was a day laborer.  He was rugged and common and he held a staff in his hand.  There was nothing special about him.

“Who are they?”

Grampy spoke up.  “Jonathan and David…from the Bible.”  He recognized them from the story.  “Jonathan was the son of King Saul who would likely lead his father’s kingdom one day.  He had it all.  Anything money could buy!  Fame, power, prestige.  He was educated and refined.  But David was just a shepherd boy with no education.  He had no possessions, nothing of value.  To the world, he was a nobody.”

“So why are we here?  What does this have to do with any of us?”  Grace spoke aloud the question we were all wondering deep inside.

“It has everything to do with you.  Whether you realize it or not, if you are a Christian then you are ‘in covenant’ with Yahweh God.  You must actually understand that covenant and what all it involves before you can benefit from it.   A Biblical covenant has many steps.  Watch and learn.  When two people agreed to enter into a covenant friendship they would choose a time and place to meet up.  Now, you must remember that the Jewish way of life is filled with symbols.  Most of the people back in the Bible days wore an outer garment which symbolized who they were as a person – their very being.”

We watched as Jonathan removed his elegant princely robe and placed it around David’s shoulders.  Then David removed his tattered and worn cloak and gave it to Jonathan.

“What are they doing?”  Gabby whispered, her eyes round with wonder.

“They are exchanging robes.  By this they are saying, ‘I give you my life – all that I am and all that I have.’  David is now free to walk in Jonathan’s garment.  He has the right to take on Jonathan’s identity.”

Our attention fell back to the two young men who were continuing in their pledge.  They were now exchanging their belts.

“What’s the belt all about?” I asked.

“They fastened their weapons of defense onto their belts.  A man might carry a bow and arrows, or a knife, or maybe even a large sword on his belt.”  Grampy said.

“What?  Why would he give up his weapons?   That doesn’t make sense to me.   If he gives up his belt, then he gives up his ability to protect himself from an attack!  He’s defenseless.  That’s not too smart!”

“That’s right Josiah.  He is handing his defense over to his covenant partner.  When he gives up all of his weapons, not only is he making himself incredibly vulnerable, he is also choosing to forfeit his own ability to hurt that friend.  This action says, ‘I’m handing over anything I could ever use to hurt you in any way.  I am at your mercy.  If I am attacked, I can do nothing – unless you choose to defend me.’  In the same manner, when his covenant partner surrenders his own belt he, too, is promising to fight his friend’s battles.  It’s a huge commitment.”

Grampy spoke up.  “A missionary came to our church once and shared a story about African tribes.  She told us that whenever two people would enter into a friendship, they would make a cut on their arm deep enough to scar.  If they ever got into any sort of trouble with another person or tribe, all they had to do was raise that arm up and show the scar.  It clearly represented that they were not on their own but had someone else who would stand up and fight on their behalf.  It was like saying, ‘If you’re gonna mess with me, then you’re gonna have to face my friend, too!’”

“That is so cool!”  I had never really thought there was anything exciting or even interesting about Jonathan and David before.  My Sunday school teacher had mentioned that they loved each other like brothers.  But this…this was much, much bigger.  These guys were pledging their lives for each other.  That’s huge!  People just don’t do that anymore.

I was jolted out of my thoughts as Joy let out a shriek of disgust. The two men now stood before us ankle-deep in blood.  They had taken a young ram and slaughtered it.  The creature had been cut into two equal sections.  The sections lay side by side on the ground with just enough space in between them for the two men to stand.  As bizarre as this ceremony seemed to me, a modern twenty-first century kid, I knew it was sacred.  I stood in awe and continued to watch the ancient tradition.

Just then Jonathan spoke.  Kodesh translated for us.  “Today I die to myself.  I live to bless you David, my covenant partner.  Every decision I make from this day forward will be with you in mind.  I will seek what is best for you and not what brings me gain.”

David loyally repeated the very same words to Jonathan.  And then they both spoke at once.

“What did they just say, Kodesh?”  Joy asked.

“May God do this and even more to me if anything but death separates you and me.”

“What does that mean?”  Joy squinched up her tiny sweet face.

“They are agreeing that the covenant they are entering into is so important that the punishment for breaking it should be death.”

It seemed that we all gasped for air at once.  Death?  Yikes!  A covenant was certainly not something you entered into lightly.  As the two young men stood in the now cold pool of animal blood they each made a cut close to their palm.  They rubbed the cuts together until their blood mixed and then each spoke again.

“What are they doing now?”  I whispered, forgetting that they could not hear me.

“They are exchanging names.  Jonathan has given David the authority to use his name when needed.  There are no limits on what he can do with this power.  It is as if he, too, is the royal son of King Saul.   Not that Jonathan would ever need it, but David has also given him the right to act on his behalf.”

David grimaced and Jonathan muffled a groan as the two rubbed salt and hyssop into their freshly cut wrists.

“Why in the world would anybody do that?”  Grace bluntly remarked.

“It causes the wound to scar and keeps it from fading away in the future.”  Grampy explained.  “The scar is like a reminder of the covenant they have made.  Every time they look at it, they will be reminded of the rights and the responsibilities that they received by entering into that agreement.”

Kodesh continued to explain the covenant.  “The book of Leviticus reveals that life is in the blood.  The people believed that once their blood mingled it could never again be separated.  Likewise, Jonathan and David’s lives became one – never to be separated.  It didn’t matter how they felt or how circumstances in their lives changed.  The scar was a visible reminder that grounded them in the reality that they were in a binding agreement unto death.”

“Awesome!”  I couldn’t hold my excitement in any longer.  “Who would have thought there were blood brothers in the Bible?  Wait ‘til I tell Will.  He’s not going to believe that  it’s really real!

The men were now talking again, still standing in that disgusting blood!  YUCK!  Before I could ask, Kodesh translated that they were promising their assets to one another.  This included their property and money…just about anything with value.  In my opinion, poor Jonathan was getting the short end of the stick because David truly had nothing to give.  Well, Jonathan did already have everything his heart could possibly desire, so maybe it wasn’t that bad for him after all…  Kodesh went on to inform us that the covenant partners were receiving each other’s liabilities as well.

The two finally stepped out of the blood and began to wash their feet.  They shared a meal together breaking bread and sharing a cup of wine as lifelong covenant partners.  We watched in silence as they celebrated.  When they finished eating, they planted a small tree near the slaughtered animal and sprinkled blood on it as a memorial of the new covenant relationship that existed between them.

I watched the two men and their little tree grow smaller and smaller as Kodesh sent the elevator in a new direction.

“Where are we going now?”  The girls asked at once.

“Another time, another blood covenant.”  Kodesh was anxious to reveal more to us.

I quickly spoke up.  “I can’t.  I mean…I can…but not now.  You guys go ahead.  I’ll catch up later.  Would that be alright Kodesh?”

Knowing exactly what my struggle was, Kodesh agreed and quickly returned me to my room.  He made one last remark before he left.  “Just focus on Him Josiah – you’ll get there.”

   Chapter 7

My Upper Room

I sat on my bed and fluffed up the pillows.  Leaning back against them, I drew my knees up to my chest and breathed in deeply.  I needed to think about everything that I had just seen.

“Okay, I can do this.”  I thought.  “It’s simple.  Just go to my Upper Room.  Yahweh said He’d be there waiting on me.  Just gotta get there…somehow, but how?  Oh yeah, Kodesh said to focus.”

I took two more deep breaths and squeezed my eyes shut.  No distractions.  Just thinking.  Thinking about the God of the Universe.  He’s sitting on a throne.  He’s standing up.  He’s walking toward me.  He’s reaching out His hand toward me….

Something was happening.  My body was beginning to gently rock.   I opened my eyes.  I was scared.  “What are you scared for, silly?”  I argued with myself.

“I don’t know.  I’m just scared of not knowing.”

“Focus, focus, FOCUS Josiah!  You do NOT want to mess this up!”   I thought.  A warm tingling sensation began to spread through me.  I reached out and took hold of His hand.  I was still sitting on my bed at home, but I was also there!  And I didn’t even have to fly!  It wasn’t far away like I thought, but right here.  But how could I be at two places at one time?  Who cares!  I made it to my Upper Room – ON MY OWN!  Yahweh was there grinning that amazing grin at me.  He walked over and gave me a huge bear hug.

“It’s about time you came!”  His words were kind and gentle.  “I’ve been waiting on you, little man.  Did you enjoy your visit?”

“I’m not sure.  It was kinda…well, weird!  Kodesh explained what they were doing, but I don’t really understand what it has to do with me.”

“It has everything to do with you.  You see, I like to reveal truth through pictures and stories.  It makes it a little easier for humans to understand.  Jonathan and David are a model of the two of us.”

“Us?  What do you mean?”  I was totally confused at this point.

“You and I entered into that very same covenant the day you asked my son, Yeshua, into your heart.”

“We did?”

“Yes, Josiah.  Before I created the world, I already knew that mankind would not meet up to my holy standard.  I knew that Adam and Eve would choose to sin and that all of their offspring would be born forever cursed with a sin nature that would eternally separate them from me.  Knowing that on his own man could never escape the spiritual death that sin brings, I set my own plan into motion to redeem him from that sin.  Because it is impossible for sinful man to approach holy God, I made an agreement with my perfect sinless son on your behalf.  He and I ‘cut covenant’ together for your sake.  He took your rightful place when He died on that cross.  You received His rightful place of eternal life with me.”

“Whoaaaa.  That’s deep.”  My brain started to buzz inside.  “But why did He have to die?”

“All actions have consequences.  They may be good or they may be bad.  The consequence that results from sinning is death.  There’s not another choice.  A price must be paid for sin.  Blood must be shed to cover it.  My son, Yeshua, was without sin.  He didn’t have to do anything.  But He chose to pay the price for your sins by shedding His own innocent blood on the cross.  By doing this, He made atonement for your sins, causing you to become righteous and acceptable in my sight.”

I squinted my eyes and squished up my nose.  My brain hurt.  It was bulging with information and thoughts itching to be entertained.  God’s son, Yeshua, crowned prince of the entire universe, left Heaven in all its splendor and glory to come and redeem me from my sin?  Wow!  That was a lot to ingest.  The whole concept didn’t make sense.  Why would He do that?

Yahweh spoke up.  “Because I love you.  Just as Jonathan gave up his royal identity to take on that of a simple commoner, my perfect son gave up His life for you and all sinners.  As it is written in the book of Isaiah, He clothed you with the garments of salvation.  He took on your robe of self-righteousness – a filthy rag – and wrapped you with His own pure and holy robe of true righteousness.  Yeshua died your death so that He could give you His eternal life.  You are now to take on His identity and nature as a child of the King.”

My mind was soaking His words up like a dry sponge.  I could not yet even begin to comprehend the notion that I had actually exchanged lives with the very son of God.

Yahweh moved on.  “Josiah, can you see that we have also exchanged belts?  If you’ll read Deuteronomy 20:4 in your Bible, you’ll see that I, the Lord your God, am He who goes with you.  I will fight your battles.  I will deliver you from your enemies.  I will bring you safely to everlasting life.  It is so very important that you understand this.  I don’t want you to spend your whole life believing that you have to do it on your own.  Nothing is further from the truth.  I am your covenant partner.  You can trust me to defend you in any situation.  I will never leave or forsake you.”

Peace trickled down over me and soaked deep within.  There’s nothing better than knowing that you have a big strong dad that’s going to take care of you no matter what.

Yahweh grinned.  His eyes lit up and I could tell that He was pleased with my thoughts.  Of course He knew them as soon as they formed in my mind – just like Kodesh.  He continued.  “You should also realize that you have access to my name.  Obviously there is great power in using my name and you should do it carefully and wisely.”

“I can just use your name without permission?  That doesn’t seem right to me.”  I was a little cautious.

“You are my son and you are learning to follow in my footsteps.  From now on, you’ll be doing the work of your Heavenly Father.  In your natural world, when a son matures enough to help out with his father’s business, he is allowed to make decisions and act on behalf of his father.  Any transaction he makes in his father’s name is considered valid.  It is the same in the spiritual world.  If you are not sure of what you can and cannot do, read your Bible.  My children can do everything that my son Yeshua did….and more!  Seek me first and if it is my will, you will be able to do mighty things with authority.  If you act in your own flesh, my power will not be released.”

A thick lump began to swell in my throat.  “But…what if I get it wrong?  What if I think I heard you but I really didn’t and I try to use your name and power and nothing happens?”  My mind was quickly filling with scenarios of failed attempts at using God’s name.

“So what?”  Yahweh’s carefree answer instantly dissolved the panic that was invading me deep within.

“You aren’t going to be upset if I blow it?”

“There is no such thing as a mature birth.  In the natural and in the spiritual, everybody has to start out as a baby.  All things require practice.  You’re going to make mistakes.  Lots of them.  That doesn’t mean you give up though.  When a little child learns to walk, he will not be able to do it perfectly the very first time he tries.   He’s going to fall.  Does he stop trying and settle to crawl for the rest of his life, convinced that he is not capable of walking?  Of course not!  He’ll fall time after time – only to get right back up and try again.  And one day, he’ll get it!  What parent would get upset at their small child for falling?  Instead, the parent is there close by, encouraging that child and strengthening him and pushing him on to excellence.  It is the same with me.  I’ll be proud that you tried in the first place.”

“I don’t know how good I’ll be at leading a team.  You know, the teachers at my school don’t think I’m good for much.  They say I’m “unreachable.”’

“Their eyes are closed.  They do not see now, but one day they will.  Josiah, you must not care about what the people of this world think.  Just stay focused on me.”

“I will.  It’s just… sort of hard.  I mean, it’s great when I’m right here with you, but that isn’t always the case.  So many things are fighting for my attention…it’s hard to stay focused on you.”

“That’s why I left a reminder with you – a scar.”

“A scar?  Really?”

“My Holy Spirit is the seal of the blood covenant.  He’s the ‘scar,’ or the constant reminder that you and I are in a covenant relationship together.”

“Kodesh.”  I whispered.  “He’s always with me.”  I hadn’t fully realized his purpose in my life until now.

“That’s right, Josiah.  You’re never alone.  When the enemy comes to you, don’t be afraid to show him your “scar.”  When he sees the power of the Holy Spirit operating in your life, he’ll know exactly who your covenant partner is.  He has no choice but to run, because he knows he doesn’t stand a chance against me.”

I flopped over on my stomach and began to think on all that I had just learned – straight from the mouth of God!  The knowledge that I was marked as His lifetime covenant partner permeated my entire being.  Warmth bubbled up from the base of my throat at the collarbone.  I didn’t even get up to check it out.  I knew without a doubt that Yahweh had forever branded me.  Spending time with Yahweh was unlike anything I had ever experienced.  He was so kind and loving and so very real.  The sweetness of His presence soothed me from the inside out.   Within minutes, I was drifting into a deep, sweet sleep.

 Bruises

“Jo-siah!”  Grace marched into my room and plopped down on my bed.  “What are you doing asleep right now?   It’s only two-thirty.”  She shook me by the shoulder, her loud voice tearing me from the amazing place of rest I had entered into.  “You’re not supposed to have food in your room, you know.  Mom’s gonna freak out if she finds any ants in here.”

I peeled my eyes open, squinting at the bright light, and reached out to grab the Twinkie wrapper lying beside me on the bed.   Crumpling it in my fist, I let out a dramatic groan.  “Did you need something Grace?”

“As a matter of fact, I do.  I need to talk to you.”

“Talk.”

“Well, there’s this girl at school.”

“And?”  I impatiently prompted her to get on with the story.

“Well, she needs help.  Someone is hurting her.”

“Hurting her like how?”  I sat up, my interest peaking.

“Abusing her.  Beating her or something.  I don’t know.  She’s got bruises from head to toe.”

“So what’s the big deal?  Call CPS.  Let them handle it.”

Grace shook her head in frustration.  “No, you don’t get it.  It’s not that simple.”

“How can it not be simple? Abused child.  Child Protective Services.  Problem solved.”

“Josiah!  If you’d just listen, I’m trying to tell you!”  Clearly irritated, Grace threw up her hands in disgust.  “Apparently, I’m the only one who can see the marks.  No one else seems to know that they’re there.  They don’t exist in the physical realm…just the spiritual.”

I sighed deeply.  “Now that is a problem.  Yahweh obviously revealed them to you for a reason.  You’re going to have to get into her world and find out what’s going on.  Can you tell how severe it is?”

“Pretty bad.  I can tell by their coloring that the bruises are in various stages of healing.  Whatever’s causing them has been going on for quite a while.”

“Alright.  You’ve got the go ahead.  Let me know if you need the team to step in with assistance.”

“Thanks, Josiah.  I have a feeling that there is much more to this.”  Grace turned and headed out the door.  “I’m going to go talk to her tomorrow.”

“Keep me posted!”  I shouted after her.

Chapter 8

Miracle Before My Eyes

I raced out the door, brushing my teeth and spitting leftover toothpaste in the grass as I ran.  The team was already gathered at the picnic table that we had officially declared to be our meeting spot to discuss new missions.

“So what’s the story?”  I huffed.

Gabby quickly briefed me.  “Twenty-three year old pregnant woman stroked.  They’re trying to get her brain to stop bleeding right now.  They’re going to have to deliver the baby early.”

“Stroked?”  I said in shock.  “How in the world does a 23-year-old have a stroke?  That doesn’t happen until you’re like – really old!”

“Don’t know.  But it’s way too early for her to deliver that baby.”  Gabby shook her head.  “The girls said it’s actually a lady from your church.  Her name’s Tara.”

“Our Tara?”  I asked, stunned that she could possibly be the one.  Tara was young, beautiful, healthy…and newly pregnant.  She didn’t even have a belly to show for it.    “How early is she delivering?”

“Early, early.”

“Too early for the baby to live?”

“She may live, but not without severe complications.    She’s not due to be born for another three and a half months.”

“How’s Tara?”

“In bad shape.  Not responsive.  They aren’t sure she’s even gonna make it through the surgery.”

“How’s Matt holding up?”

“They say he’s doing amazing – considering the circumstances.”

“I’m sure he is.”  Matt was a perfect example of a godly man.  The son of our pastor and his wife, he had been raised right.  From the time he was a small child, he chose to follow God rather than to rebel.  He absolutely adored his wife, Tara, and considered her to be a treasure straight from Heaven.

I shot off a list of orders in my best take charge tone of voice.  “Gabby, I’m going to need you to organize ‘round the clock’ prayer.   Grampy, can you and Granna get to that hospital later tonight and lay hands on Tara?  Joy, back them up here at home by petitioning Yahweh for healing.  Grace, several things.  I need you to war for Tara’s life.  War for the baby’s life.  War for Matt.  I’m sure he can use all the strength he can get right now.  I’m headed to the hospital.  I’ll let you guys know if I need anything else.”

I raced back into the house, grabbed a pair of red warfare flags and two chocolate chip cookies and stepped into my awaiting elevator.  “Hey Kodesh?”  I called out as the elevator surged through the clouds.  “Would you mind cranking my spiritual vision up a notch?  I’ve never seen a miracle before.  I wanna know how it all works.”

“And what makes you so sure you’re about to see a miracle?”  Kodesh countered.

“Well, my team was given the mission.  And our job is to restore God’s justice.  We take back what the enemy has stolen.  I can only assume that we are taking back Tara and her baby.”  I quickly finished up my mint-y cookie snack as the clouds parted and a hospital building came into view.

“You’re a pretty bright kid, Josiah.  Pretty bright…”  Kodesh stopped in mid mutter as we entered an operating room.

The sight filled me with a mixture of fright and awe.  An entire team of doctors surrounded Tara causing her small body to be barely visible.   As I leaned in to get a closer look, my spiritual vision kicked into high gear revealing huge, beautiful, bright beings of light.  I could not tear my eyes from them.  They had to be angels.

The spirit-like body of the first one mingled with the human flesh body of the lead surgeon and carefully guided his hands.  The second being gently cupped the tiny fetus nestled up in Tara’s womb which was now radiating a yellow glow.  The third angelic being hovered horizontally – creating what appeared to be an impenetrable force field above Tara’s body on the surgical table.  The fourth and final angel, the strongest and largest of them all, was in constant motion fighting off demons and dark powers sent on a mission to destroy Tara and her young child.  I watched, dumbfounded that what happens in the physical realm is a direct reflection of what is going on in the spiritual realm.  This random emergency was not an accident and it was not random!  It was a direct attack from the evil one.  I wasn’t about to let him steal our Tara or her precious unborn child.  Looking down at the shimmery red fabric of the warfare flags in my hand, I sighed.  “I guess now is as good a time as any.”

Though I was very familiar with the flags, it had been a really long time since I had used them.  Years ago, our church did a small study on the Biblical use of banners and flags, or standards, as they are called in the Bible.  While flags are often used to make the worship of the Lord glorious, they are also used for other specific purposes.  My mother had fallen in love with the worship art of flag twirling the very first time she saw it performed.  The flags, created to express a particular thought, prayer, or declaration, were skillfully crafted out of beautiful fabrics of various colors.

I’ll never forget the day Mom’s first pair arrived.  Rounded off into huge half circles and two different shades of glistening blue in color, they represented the Holy Spirit.  Sheer sparkly white fabric shaped like wings billowed out from each flag, creating the flapping sound of a  flying dove as they sailed through the air.  As she stood in our den late at night practicing, she looked silly, like an awkward teenage girl trying out for the high school drill team.  But once she got the skill of flag twirling down, it was absolutely stunning to watch.  Every movement had purpose.   It wasn’t a fancy dance routine but an expression of her worship and adoration to Holy God.  The flags, an extension of herself, released the unspoken cries of her heart to permeate the room and rise to rest in the Heavens.

That first pair of flags was followed by many, many more – all used at the right time to lift the right request up to the Lord.  In the mix of all of the gorgeous colors and fancy fabrics to praise and petition the Lord with was a plain rectangle flag made of dull colored material.  It was divided into thirds: one black, one red, and one white.  Though it could not possibly compare in splendor, it was my favorite of all of our flags simply because of its meaning.  The black portion of the flag was chosen to remind us of the sin that once ruled our lives before we came to Jesus.  The red represented the blood of Jesus that was literally poured out to take those sins away.  The white was a picture of the new righteous life He gave us when we chose to forever commit our lives to Him.  The flag was a constant reminder of how we were once slaves to sin and death but are now new creations in Christ.  Anytime I messed up and did something I knew was wrong, I could raise that flag up, pour my heart out to God, tell him how sorry I was and ask for His forgiveness and for a fresh start.  It was a sign of surrender, a petition to make things right, and an exclamation of gratitude and freedom-all in one!

It wasn’t long before I had my own pair of twirling flags – a pair of double red and gold shaped flames representing the fire of the Lord.  Though I was fascinated with the speed and accuracy required to twirl, it wasn’t quite a fit for me.  The thick metal twirling poles were heavy and they bruised and blistered the insides of my fingers within minutes.  Mom’s flagging was slow and graceful in worship and fast and graceful in praise but my style was quite different.  In fact, from the time I was just a few years old, my flagging had been raising the hair on people’s arms on end…

 My style had but one purpose – to kick some enemy butt!  It’s no joke!  There is an exact flag sequence that declares war on Satan.  It came naturally to me as a toddler and I simply couldn’t stop doing it.  Mom realized very quickly that her sweet little boy had a not so sweet job to do.  Now, most people prefer to steer clear of directly engaging in warfare with Satan.  But for some reason, I loved it!  At the time though, I was way too little to understand what I was doing.  Mom was advised that she should be cautious when allowing me to flag – as I was unintentionally entering into a dangerous battle that I was not yet equipped to handle.  She somewhat  listened to that advise and we sort of put the warfare on hold.  Life got busy and that was pretty much the end of that…until now!

I lifted one crisp red flag into the air and hesitated.  It had been years since I had done this.  Was I ready yet?  Was I strong enough to take on evil itself?  “Better be sure and put my armor on again!”  Quickly voicing a prayer, I took my stance.  There was no time to spare.  Tara’s brain was still bleeding heavily and the doctors looked slightly shaken.

It appeared that Satan had unleashed another group of his hellions.  The force field angel was now assisting the strong one in keeping the creatures away from the operating table.   Horrific snarling demons were clawing at both Tara and the baby.  I watched with disgust as one tore at the baby’s eyes.  One at her lungs.  And one at her kidneys.  At that moment, one of the goblin-like creatures squealed in delight.  He had gotten a claw into the small area where the surgeons had removed part of Tara’s forehead bone to operate on her brain.  I wasn’t sure how much damage he had done, but judging from his glee, I knew it could not be good.  Just inches away, heat radiated from Kodesh, reminding me that I was not on my own.  “Let’s do this!”

I began to violently wave the warfare flag in front of me in fast strong strokes repeating an ‘x’ pattern.  Cool air rushed back at me, summoning chill bumps up and down my arms and chest.  The sharp popping of my flag resounded like an approaching army’s footsteps in cadence.  Left.  Left.  Left, right, left.    My enemy was not deterred.  He faced me dead on, threw back his head, and began to laugh.  “Just who, little boy, do you think you are?”

Refusing to allow him to intimidate me with my young age, I called back to him in my bravest voice.  “It’s me, Josiah.”

“And why would a human boy think he has any power over me, the Prince of Darkness and every evil thing?  I.  Rule.  Your.  World.  You are mine.  Stand down you filthy sinner.”

Again I braced myself and thrust my chest out.  “Think again dark one.  I may have been born under the curse of sin, but I have chosen of my own free will to be a son of the one true and living God.  I have been bought with the very blood of His son, Yeshua. By the way Loser, how did that feel when He rose from the dead and beat you once and for all?  How’d you like handing over those keys to the grave?”  I knew better than to taunt him but I just couldn’t seem to help myself.

“Silence!”  His shriek pierced my ears.  “You better shut your mouth now or I’ll drag you right down to hell with me.”

“Fat chance!  My salvation is sealed.  My name is forever in the Book of Life.  I am not yours to take.  Not to mention the fact that you have to ask my Father God if you can even do anything to me in the first place!  Why don’t you just go back to where you came from!  Oh Da-aaaad!”  I called.

A wind that sounded like a thousand twisting tornadoes swept through the room and the enemy and all of his demons were gone at once.  It was Yahweh.

“Thanks for backing me up!”  I breathed out a sigh of relief.

“Remember, your battles are my battles.”

Yahweh Himself led me to the packed family waiting room.  Practically every family from our entire church was represented.  The members of our congregation stood encircling Tara’s young husband, Matt.  Matt was voicing a prayer for his precious wife.  Tears streamed down his face as he cried out for God to save Tara and their unborn daughter.  “Lord, you know my heart.”  He prayed.  “And if there is anything I want – it’s for my girls to be safe.  You are sovereign; You are faithful.  I know that your ways are not like my ways.  But I can trust you.  I know that you have a bigger plan than this.  I know that there’s a reason for all of this and that whatever the outcome is, it will bring you glory.  So, I give them up to you right now.  I trust you with both of them.  May your name be forever glorified through our lives.  If there is anyone who needs to come to know you, use our situation to do it.”

I lifted my head to meet Yahweh’s gaze.  He was beaming.  Pride filled His voice as He spoke.  “That’s my boy!”

I couldn’t help but laugh at the goofy image forming in my head.  Yahweh, Master of the Universe, was wearing one of those bulky “That’s my kid” sports ribbons that parents buy with a photo of their kid playing ball on it.

“Hey.  You better watch it!”  He grinned.  “I have one with your picture on it, too!”

“Yahweh, can I ask you something?”

“Anything, my child.”

“Are they going to be okay?  Uh, you know, Tara and the baby?”

“Matt’s great faith, along with that of everyone else believing for a miracle, has already unleashed my power.  I have already restored the child’s lungs, kidneys, eyes, brain, and liver and I will continue to heal her as the enemy attacks.  The doctors will deliver her in perfect health at one pound, thirteen ounces.  The world will watch as a child born too early to survive thrives.  She will be called ‘Miracle Baby’ and people will marvel at her astounding story.  Thousands will unite and lift her continued health up in prayer.  She will be blessed her entire life.”

“And what about Tara?”

“Tara will struggle immensely, but she is strong and I will mold her character through all of this.  Your work here is not done.  You all must continue to fight for her.  The enemy has requested permission to destroy her.  He believes that she will turn against me and against her faith if she has to endure such hardship.  I have granted his desire.  He has already taken part of her brain function, the use of her right arm and leg, and her speech.”

“What?!  Are you kidding me?  Why would you allow that creep to do that to her!  She’s a good person.  A really, really good person.  I know she’s a Christian.   I can tell by the way she acts.  She doesn’t just talk the talk.  She walks the walk!  She loves you and obeys the Bible…It just isn’t fair.”

I decide what is fair.  But you are exactly right.  Tara has done nothing wrong – nothing to deserve what has happened to her.  On the contrary, she has done everything right.  Her heart belongs to me.  Satan can take anything he likes from her and she will still praise me.  She will still worship me.  She will still place all of her hope and trust in me.  She’s about to display that to a whole lot of people.  Her story will change lives and hearts everywhere.  And while everyone’s eyes are on her ‘loss,’ I will have great opportunity to heal her and display my sovereignty and power.   Her season of hardship will bring me more glory than an entire carefree lifetime of ease.  I am greatly pleased with her and am allowing her the awesome privilege of bringing me glory.”

“You said you will have great opportunity to heal her.  That means she’ll be normal again, right?”

“Tara is still normal now.  She’s still the same Tara on the inside.  Her thoughts, values, and dreams are just as they were before she had the stroke.    It is not what is on the outside, but what is on the inside, that makes a person who they are.  Tara will struggle greatly with this – as I will only partially restore her natural body.  She will feel inadequate.  She will feel incomplete.  She must learn that she is worthy ‘as-is.’  It will take some time but she will come to realize that she is just as beautiful to me and to everyone else now as she was before anything happened to her.  She will see that people love her for who she is and not for the things she can or cannot do.  You see Josiah, a person’s worth is not measured by how they look or by the skills or talents they may have.  Those things won’t last forever.  But a blameless heart will.  In the end, those who invest all of their time in the things of this world will have nothing to show for it.  But those who invest their lives in me and the things of my Kingdom will have gained everything.  They will have eternal life as their reward.”

God’s ways truly are a mystery to man.  We definitely do not think like He thinks!  Relieved that Tara was truly going to be okay, I turned to board my elevator.   A small commotion in the corner of the hospital waiting room caught my eye.  Matt, now on his knees, had a visitor.  I listened in as the messenger spoke.  “Do not be afraid Matthew.  For it is by your faith that the child has already been healed.  You are to name her ‘Faith’ as a remembrance of what the Lord has done for you.  Every time you speak her name, a charge resounds to trust in Yahweh, the living and active God.  Take heart and do not grow weary.  Your journey will be long.  It will not be easy, but it will be worth it.”  As he spoke the last word, the angelic being vanished into thin air.

Chapter 9

Healing With Laughter

It was Friday night and though I would have much rather been playing video games at home, Grampy and I had been specifically assigned by Yahweh to attend a healing conference at a local church.  The pastor had brought in an extremely gifted and most extraordinary man known worldwide for powerful and miraculous healings.  Like most, I’ve always been a bit skeptical of public healing ministries.   However, I found this one to be especially difficult to believe in.  I glanced over at Grampy.  It looked as if he was struggling a little, too.   He wasn’t frowning, but his left eyebrow was raised a hint, and I could tell that he was not yet convinced.  It was said that this man healed people through laughter.  No, not just a regular ha-ha laugh.  Not even a lingering ha-ha-ha.  But a that’s so hysterical I think I just might pee my pants laughter.

The healer began to teach.  “Friends I’m here to tell you that God is a good God and He’s in a good mood all the time!  That’s right!  He wants to do good things for His children.”

Within moments he interrupted his own lecture with a question.  “Anybody out there have ringing in their ears?”  Several people raised their hands.  “Stand up if you want to be healed!”  He shouted.

The people nervously stood up.   The healer began to giggle a little.  “I release the Kingdom of God in you!”  He began to laugh.  Louder and louder he laughed.  I looked around.  Others were laughing, too!  Some were cautiously watching.   Some were praying.  The healer asked if the ringing had stopped for anyone.  Several people stood and gave testimony that the ringing sensation was indeed gone.

As the night progressed, the healer continued to teach and heal various afflictions.  He called out an older woman experiencing crippling pain in her back.  She slowly crept to the front of the church, faced him, and bowed her sweet head as if he was going to pray for her.  Instead, he belted out a song, “This is the end of your pain as you know it!  This is the end of your pain as you know it!  This is the end of your pain as you know it!  And you feel…fine!  Now everybody!  This is the end of your pain as you know it…”

To my surprise, the entire congregation of people joined in and sang with him!  As the strange chorus came to an end, the little old lady slowly straightened up her hunched back.  Applause filled the church as she praised God and headed back to her seat much faster than she came.

At this point, more excitement than skepticism filled the air.  Faith levels were high and people were aware that no matter how odd or unpredictable his methods were, the healer certainly had a gift from the Lord.  Again and again he began to teach only to stop and bring God’s justice back to those who needed it.  The Lord was choosing to heal people left and right.  Practically everyone in the room had something they needed healing from and no one wanted to leave until the meeting was absolutely and positively declared over.  It wasn’t long before he called out what I had been dreading all night.  “Does anyone here tonight need healing in their right arm?”

I slowly inhaled and tried to use my peripheral vision to my advantage.  I knew that Matt and Tara were sitting a few rows behind me to the right, and I did not want them to see me looking at them.  Five months had passed since Tara’s stroke.  Though her brain function and speech were back to normal and she had learned to walk again, she still had no use of her right arm.  Church members had prayed for a complete healing repeatedly, but that right arm – the work of the evil spirit that had cried out in glee in the operating room – still hung limply at her side.  “Would she go up there?”  I wondered.  I knew that Tara was tired of getting her hopes up for nothing.  I desperately wanted to tell her the secret little nugget of wisdom Yahweh had shared with me.  I wanted to tell her that she did not need healing, that she is already perfect the way she is.  But I also knew that she would not yet understand.  The timing was not right.  I watched as loving and well-meaning friends and church family members led her to the front of the church.

The healer prayed over her and released healing to her body.  “Lord, let your kingdom come in this young lady’s life!”  He cried out with passion.  With my spiritual eyes, I saw the power of God wash over her but in the physical there was no change.  The lack of results had nothing to do with the healer or with the way God’s power manifested through him.  It had nothing to do with how much or how little faith anyone had.  It had everything to do with flawed human perspective.

Concentrating as hard as I could, I tried to transfer my thoughts to all those praying.  “Come on guys!  Can’t you see that His will is being done in her life?  This is His plan for her!  And it’s not a bad one!”

With a forced smile, Tara  returned to her seat.  As she passed by, I silently charged her to persevere.  “Hold on Tara.  Just a little while longer.”

 

Robert

Grampy put the car in reverse and began to back out of our driveway.  “Isn’t Granna coming with us?”  I asked.

“Nah.  She can’t today.  She’s taking Robert to the doctor.”

I turned my head and looked out the window in an effort to hide my disappointment.  The healing conference had already ended.  Due to an error in his assistant’s scheduling, the healer was unable to catch a plane home for another entire day.   With plenty of time on his hands, he had invited everyone out on one of his infamous treasure hunts.  During the conference he had shared many inspiring treasure hunting experiences with us.  I absolutely could not wait to do some treasure hunting of my own!  The fact that Mom and Dad were allowing me to skip school to join in was also pretty exciting.

“Oh, I didn’t know he was sick.”  I casually responded.

“He’s not.  He’s just…well, he’s…”  Grampy hesitated.  “He’s just not acting right.”

“What do you mean?  What’s going on?”  Robert was a great kid.  Placed in Grampy and Granna’s care as a newborn, he had always been a part of the family and we had all fallen head over heels in love with him.   Onlookers, often surprised to see middle-aged white people parenting a small dark-skinned child, reacted in various degrees of acceptance.  Despite their opinions, our great love for Robert had caused us to become totally color-blind as far as skin is concerned.

Just over two years in age, Robert had never really spoken much at all.  The doctors believed that his speech was delayed due to his biological mother’s poor choices.  We weren’t particularly concerned – as his contagious grin and silly gestures greatly overshadowed the fact that he did not speak.  His eyes, dark and round with an unforgettable innocence, openly expressed every emotion that ran through his little brain.  Because those reflective eyes often did the talking for him, we were constantly reminding ourselves to encourage him to release the spoken word.

My musings over Robert were interrupted as Grampy continued trying to express his own thoughts.  “It’s just that he has begun to lose control of his emotions around some people.  Sometimes he will look at a complete stranger and burst into heavy, heartfelt sobs.   Sometimes he expresses fear.  Other times he is just fine.  We really aren’t sure what is going on with him.”

“Well, are they scary looking people?”  I asked.  His behavior seemed normal enough to me.

“That’s just it.  They aren’t.  Well, some might be, but not all of them.  They’re normal people.  Sometimes we even know them.  It’s like he sees something around them or by them that we do not see.”

“Uh-oh.  I bet he’s another seer like Grace.”  I sighed.  In my opinion, Robert seemed far too tender to have such a disturbing gift.

“Well, that’s not actually all of it.”  Grampy inhaled deeply and blew out a long slow sigh.  “Now that your Granna has started letting him use crayons and pencils and stuff, he’s always trying to draw on people.”

“Now that is kind of strange!”  I laughed.  When my grandparents first started their journey in foster care they were well-informed on just what they were getting into.  Children from broken homes are often broken themselves.  They can hurt others because they are hurting inside.  Some of them embrace all sorts of horrible behaviors.  You never know what you’re gonna get when a new child comes to stay.  But this is something they certainly weren’t warned about.  I was pretty sure there was no manual explaining how to handle this sort of behavior.

“We know he is trying to communicate something to us – but we just can’t figure out what yet.  Your Granna has been taking him to a psychologist to see if she can’t make some sense out of it.  They’ve been trying to teach Robert to draw on paper dolls instead of people.”

“Does he just scribble all over the dolls?”

“Naw.  He just stares at them.  It’s not working.  He’s just too little to understand.  Just too little…”  Grampy’s voice trailed off, his sad eyes revealing deep worry for his young son.

  “Too little?  That’s right.  He is too little.”   My mind was racing to somehow piece together Grampy’s observations of Robert’s unusual behavior with the information that Kodesh had shared with me regarding their father/son ministry in healing.

“Is anyone actually in the room with him and the blank paper dolls?”  I questioned him.

“Well, no.  Not besides the doctor and your Granna.  Why?”

“That actually makes sense!”  I practically shouted.  Trying to lower both my voice and excitement, I explained.  “He’s trying to express something that he sees in individual people.  But if they aren’t there in the room with him, how can you expect him to do it?  He’s too little to remember something he sees now and draw it out later.  He needs access to those dolls all the time!  Turn around.  Let’s go back!”

“What?  No, we can’t.  We need to meet the others going on the hunt.”

“We’ve got to bring Robert with us.  Trust me.  They won’t care that they had to wait on us when they see what happens!  This is going to be soooo COOL!”

Grampy opened his mouth to object again and then closed it.  With raised eyebrows, he turned the car around and headed back home.

Chapter 10

Treasure Hunting

Once Granna and Robert were both safely buckled up and I had confirmed for the third time that we did indeed have a box of crayons and some hand-cut paper dolls with us, I launched into my explanation as to why I had insisted that Granna cancel Robert’s doctor appointment and come on the treasure hunt with us.  “Robert is definitely a seer, but he sees something entirely different than the rest of the world!”  As I spoke the words, tingles surged through my entire body and forced their way to my skin’s surface in the form of chill bumps-the good kind.

We met up with the rest of the treasure hunters who had already divided into small groups of five or six.  Our tardiness earned us the great privilege of teaming up with the healer.  A young mother and her five-year-old daughter, Maddie, joined us as well.    We all piled into a van to head out on the adventure.  The healer handed each of us a piece of paper that was blank except for the photocopied words “Treasure Map” at the top of it.  “Get to work!”  He flashed a huge grin at us.

I had paid extremely close attention during the teaching on treasure hunting.  In fact, I could practically repeat every word!  God considers each and every single person out there in this world to be a treasure.  Our job as treasure hunters was to go out there and find a treasure and bring them into an encounter with Him.  They might need encouragement, prayer, healing, or some other sort of miracle.  It sounded easy enough, but it wasn’t just any treasure that we were looking for.  We were looking for a specific person facing a specific situation.  The way it worked was that we were supposed to simply pray and ask God to give us the clues for our treasure map.  He then would impress a ‘word’ upon us, which was just a feeling or a thought.  We were instructed to write it down no matter how silly or strange it might sound.  When we no longer felt or heard words in our minds, we would discuss and divide up the words into categories on our maps.  These would all be clues in finding the treasures that God wanted to have an encounter with that day.  I was intrigued with the idea that God could download bits of information to my mind: a location, clothing, an ailment, hair color, eye color – very specific details of complete strangers whose lives He wanted to touch.

“Here goes!”  I grinned at Granna.  She raised her eyebrows and then shot me a quick wink.

Granna cleared her throat and spoke up.  “I just want to warn you all that I’m a dud when it comes to these things.  I really try but I don’t ever feel ‘spiritual’ or hear from the Lord.  So we might need to throw my clues out or we’ll be looking all day for the treasure!”

Everyone laughed lightly at her joke.  “Tell her she’s wrong!”  Kodesh’s voice passionately rang out from nowhere.

“Excuse me?”  I turned around and looked as if the voice might have come from someone behind me.  Of course, there was no one there.

“She’s wrong.”  Kodesh matter-of-factly repeated himself.  “Tell her.”

“I can’t just tell her she’s wrong.  She’s my grandma!  That would be…like… disrespectful or something!”  I argued back in my mind to avoid looking like a crazy person to those around me.

“She has believed that lie her entire life.  There’s no such thing as a spiritual dud.  Yahweh created each human for a specific purpose.  You are complex beings.  You do not all react the same to a situation nor do you experience it the same in the first place.  Some are emotional.  Some are not.  Some are sensitive.  Some are not.  Some wail out while others cry softly.  Some sing.  Some dance.  Some stand in His presence.  Some bow before Him.  Some lie prostrate on the ground.  Just because she does not hear the voice of Yahweh like this one or smell the sweetness of His presence like that one does not mean that something is wrong with her.”

I sat as still as I possibly could in hopes that Kodesh might somehow just forget the whole thing.  “Josiah, we can do this the easy way or we can do it the hard way.  It’s your choice.”  Kodesh warned.

“Okay!  Okay!”  I surrendered.  “What do I say?”

“Don’t say a word.  Just open your mouth and let me do the talking.”

“What the heck?”  Before I could protest any further, words began to pour out of my mouth.  Words I did not think up.  I tried to listen as they tumbled from my lips.  I began to recognize some of what I was speaking.  It was scripture.  Kodesh was relaying a Bible passage from the twelfth chapter of 1 Corinthians through me.

Everyone’s attention was now focused on me.  I had no choice but to allow him to continue.  “There are many different types of spiritual gifts but they are all from the same spirit.  The Lord gifts those that He calls His own and gives to each one as He alone determines.  While some gifts may appear to be better or more important to man, they are all equally important in God’s eyes.  To understand this, you must look at your own body.  Is it not one body made up of many individual parts?  Is each part not essential to the overall function of the body?  A foot cannot say that it does not belong to the body because it cannot do the same things as a hand.  Likewise, an ear cannot say that it is a ‘dud’ because it does not see like an eye.  If the ear also functioned as an eye, who then would hear?  No one.  The entire body would be lacking.  Just as God has perfectly arranged the parts of a body to function individually for the good of the whole, He has given each of you different giftings and abilities.  Each gift relies on the others, so all are necessary.”

I caught my breath and looked at Granna with wide eyes.  Granna, just about as stunned as I was, stumbled around to come up with a response.  “It’s just that I…well, I never really…I don’t ever hear –”

“Don’t you get it Granna?   You’re not an ear.”  Ahhh!  I clasped my hand over my mouth a split second too late.  Kodesh had already released the words into the air.

“Well if I’m not an ear, then what am I?”

The question genuinely surprised me because my grandmother’s gifting was so obvious to everyone who knew her. Grampy spoke up.  “You’re a heart.”  The others around us began to agree.

  In just five years Granna had mothered over thirty foster children.  Not only did she have an amazing ability to love these children orphaned by their parents, but she also taught them how to love again.  When working with Child Protective Services, it doesn’t take long to realize that regardless of the reason why, when a family splits up, the children are the ones who pay the price.  The kids that came to live with Granna and Grampy were scared and alone.  They were hurt and sometimes angry.  They had been let down by those they trusted.  They had wounded souls and broken hearts.  Granna cared for them as if they were her own natural-born children.  She saw past skin color, physical handicaps, and bad behavior.  She loved them unconditionally and provided the physical, mental, and spiritual nourishment that they so desperately needed.

“You are a mender of broken hearts.”  I spoke the words softly but clearly.

“That’s not a spiritual gift.  That’s just who I am.  It’s what I do.”  Granna wasn’t giving in.

“Yahweh has chosen you to mother the motherless.  Most of these children will grow up to live happy healthy lives because of you.  Your prayers have kept many out of harm’s way.  Your love and acceptance has given them hope and a future.  And though you do not believe it to be an important job, I can tell you that it is one of the most selfless, difficult, and time-consuming ways to serve the Lord.  Most others are not capable of this work but you are fully equipped.  You were created to fulfill this calling.  Rest assured that your sacrifices do not go unnoticed and your reward in Heaven will be great.”

I closed my lips tight as I felt Kodesh withdraw.  Boy was I glad that was over!  I huddled down in my seat and tried to calm my racing heart.

The healer spoke up and broke the awkward silence hanging in the air.  “Okay everybody.  Now that that is settled, go ahead and ask the Lord to reveal some clues to you.  Remember, God will speak to you and every clue means something.”

I turned my head to the right and leaned my forehead on the cool glass window of the van.  “I’m ready Lord.  Lay it on me!  Nothing could possibly be stranger than what just happened…”

An image of a green trash receptacle quickly formed in my mind’s eye.  Hmmm…that’s strange.  I closed my eyes again and tried to focus.  This time I saw a red bullseye.  The next few moments brought a continuous flashing of pictures through my mind.  The photos – a skinny but furry old dog, a red bandana, water dripping into a little bottle, and the written word Edward – were random and did not appear to be related in any way.  Hesitantly, I scanned the others in the van.  They were all busily writing down clues.  I quickly scribbled down my clues and folded my paper in half so that no one would be able to see what I had written.

“Okay.  Did anybody get a location?”  The healer asked.

“I heard the words ‘shoe store’ but I don’t know which one.” Granna called out.

“How many shoe stores do you guys have in this town?”

“A lot.”   The young mother spoke up.  “We need more information.  Did anybody get a word that might be part of the name of a shoes store?”

“I saw arrows and a target.”

My ears and eyebrows both perked up.  “Hey!  I saw a red bullseye like a target, too.  You know, like the store Target.”

“There’s a shoe store right next to Target!  I’ll bet that’s where we are supposed to be!”  The young mother excitedly exclaimed.  “What other clues did you guys get?”

“Tumor.”

“Knee and a telephone.”

“Green sweat suit.”

“White tennis shoes.”

“Pink and black plaid purse, sister, and unforgiveness.”

After all of the adults finished calling out their clues, a tiny voice called out, “Mister J.”

“What did you say, honey?”  The young mother gently questioned her five-year-old daughter.

“Mister J.  God told me ‘Mister J.’  You know Mommy, like J from our alphabet song.  J Joe Jeans and his jellybeans, let’s sing a song about J!”

Everyone chuckled at little Maddie’s alphabet song.  Her mother stifled a grin and said, “Sure sweetie.  We’ll look for Mister J.”

No one noticed that I hadn’t shared all of my clues and I thought it might be better to keep it that way considering how weird some of them were.   We walked into the small shoe store located next door to the Target super store.  A handful of customers were shopping and sure enough – there stood a middle-aged woman carefully examining a black and pink plaid purse for sale.  Time seemed to stand still as we all just stood and stared at her.  The healer boldly took the lead and headed toward her.  We followed.  “Excuse me, ma’am.  We’re in search of a treasure this afternoon and our clues seem to have led us to you.”

The woman smiled kindly at us.  “Is that so?”  She seemed genuinely interested.

  “You don’t by chance have a sister do you?”

The woman’s smiled faded right before our eyes.  She shook her head.  “I do, but I haven’t seen her in years.”

“You had some sort of falling out?”  The healer prodded.

“Why, yes…we did.  But how could you have known that?”  Now somewhat suspicious, the woman took a step back from us.

The young mother in our group mustered up enough courage to speak.  “The Lord wants to restore that relationship but you are holding onto unforgiveness in your heart.  You’re going to have to let that go before the relationship can be mended.”

Tears began to roll down the woman’s face.  “I’ve been carrying this bitterness around in my heart for so long, I’m not even sure I know how to forgive anymore.  I tried to call her once, but she hung up on me.  That was years ago…”

“Call her today.”  The healer instructed.  “She’ll accept your call today, but you must truly forgive her first.  Let it go.  This is a new beginning.”

We told the woman how special she was to the Lord, hugged her, and headed off to find our next treasure inside of Target.

White tennis shoes were everywhere.  “Hey, there’s a guy limping.  Maybe he’s our knee clue.”  I said.

“There’s a sweat suit, but it’s not green.”  Granna noted.

We searched up and down the aisles for about seven or eight minutes.  I looked through my own clues making sure I did not miss anything.  “Maybe we got it wrong.  I’m sure that happens sometimes.”  I tried to make my voice sound hopeful.

Seeing that we were in search of something, a store employee approached us.  “Can I help you find anything?”

Before anyone could explain what we were doing, Robert tugged his pudgy hand free from Granna’s grasp.  He walked right up to the saleslady and tipped his small head backwards causing his chin to point to the ceiling.  The woman smiled and kneeled down on the floor at his level.  Her name tag said “Betty.”  It was a fitting name for her outgoing personality.

“Hi there little guy.  How are you today?”  She spoke sweetly and sincerely.

Very slowly, Robert raised his right arm and reached up and touched the lower left area of her neck.  A single tear dropped from his eye as he quietly stood.  No one said a word for what seemed to be an eternity.  In reality, it was more like thirty to forty seconds.

“Granna.  The dolls.”  I nudged her out of a trance-like state.

With a blank paper doll in one hand and a fistful of crayons in the other, I got down on my knees and spoke to Robert.  “Robert, can you tell Josiah what you see?  Can you draw it on this person right here?”  I pointed to the flimsy white paper doll.

Robert’s eyes, hosting a sea of emotion, lowered and rested on the paper doll and crayons that I was holding out to him.  Silence.  Then he raised them back to Betty’s now quizzical face.  He lowered his hand from her neck and carefully selected a gray crayon.  Again he looked at the doll and then back to the woman.  With every eye glued to him, he very slowly and very precisely drew a gray asymmetrical circle about the size of a pea on the paper doll’s neck.  I was instantly covered from head to toe in chills-the good kind again.  Tears began to cascade down the saleslady’s face and she sort of crumpled down into a puddle on the floor.  Granna knelt and embraced her.  The rest of us stood silently unsure what to do or say.  Robert’s drawing obviously implied a very grim prognosis.  However, we were all afraid to believe it since a two-year-old was the source of the information.

Betty began to compose herself and after getting control of her emotions she explained, “I have cancer.  About a year ago, I got a sore throat.  After several weeks it still had not gone away.  I began to lose my voice.   My throat was super sensitive and I just didn’t feel right about it, so I went to my doctor.  I was tested for many different things, but the final diagnosis was a cancer of the throat – stage three.  We had some success with a combination of radiation and chemotherapy, but it wasn’t good enough.   The doctor said we really have no other option at this point but to remove part of my voice box.”  Betty’s lower lip trembled when she spoke the last words.

The healer patted her on the shoulder.  “Well, Ms. Betty…your doctor may be planning surgery to get rid of that cancer, but it looks like God will be overriding that decision today.”

“I don’t understand.”  Betty shook her head, a confused look on her face.

“God wants to heal you.  That voice box of yours isn’t going anywhere for now!”

“But I don’t know God.  I…I don’t even go to church.  I don’t know how to pray…”  Betty stumbled over her words.

“He knows that!  He’s ready to introduce Himself to you.  You see, the Bible says that no one comes to the Father without first being drawn to Him.  That means that you don’t seek Him out on your own.  He seeks you out and calls you to Himself.  Get ready to meet the best friend you’ll ever have.  He wants you to know how important you are to Him.  He loves you so much Betty and He wants to give you a new life.  Is it okay if we pray for your healing right now?”  Betty nodded.

Just then Robert took a hold of one of Grampy’s large leathery hands.  He struggled to lift the weight of the strong arm but somehow managed to maneuver it to the base of Betty’s neck.

“He wants you to lay hands on her Grampy!  Ha!  It’s just as Kodesh told me!”  I couldn’t restrain my excitement.  “Just do it!  Do it!”

Grampy gently rested his hand on her neck, his large palm covering it entirely.  As the healer began to pray, Grampy’s hand began to tremble.  Then it began to shake rapidly.

“I…I feel… heat!”  Frightened, Betty began to pull away.

“It’s okay!  Your tumor is dissolving!  Just relax!”  The healer gently comforted her.  Robert reached out again and tugged at Grampy’s arm but in the opposite direction this time.

I couldn’t believe my eyes.  “It must be gone!”  I jumped up and down.  “He doesn’t see it anymore!  It’s really gone!”  Everyone backed away, giving Betty a little space.  No one spoke.  We were all too busy trying to process what we had just witnessed.

Betty raised her tear-stained face.  “Thank you!  Thank you!”

“Oh no.”  Grampy corrected her.  “Don’t thank us.  Thank God!   He is the one who has healed you.”

Betty beamed.  “I have never experienced anything like this in my life before.  This God that you serve – I want to know everything about Him.  I want to serve Him as you do.  How do I find Him?”

Our team decided to split up.  The healer, the young mother and her daughter, and Grampy and Robert stayed behind to talk with Betty about giving her life to God while Granna and I continued to walk the store.  Scanning each aisle for an unsuspecting shopper that might match any of our remaining clues, Granna and I searched in silence.  Finally, she spoke.  “I just don’t know what to make of Robert.  How in the world could he have known that she had a tumor in her throat?”

I decided it was time to let Granna in on the secret.  “You might as well get used to it now Granna.  The Lord has given Robert a paranormal gift like no other person on the planet.  He actually sees ailments in people’s bodies.  It’s like he has x-ray eyes or something.  He can look right through a person!  And that’s not all!  God has also imparted a healing gift into Grampy so that he and Robert can minister together!  The Holy Spirit told me that they will bring the kingdom of God to hundreds!”

Granna began to cry happy tears.  “Who would have thought?”  She shook her head.  “Never in a million years –”

Her words were cut short by a call from the rest of the team.  We swiftly headed down an aisle of shelves stocked with children’s movies.  It didn’t take me long to spot our potential treasure – a very tall man in a green basketball jersey with breakaway sweatpants and new shiny white tennis shoes.   “Hey, I think that’s our guy!”  I excitedly whispered to Granna as we approached the rest of the group.

“But there’s nothing wrong with his knee.”  She noted.

The young mother picked up on our conversation.  “Maybe he has a tumor and doesn’t know it yet.”

“What about her knee?”  Maddie chimed in.  Her little finger was pointing to a small girl who had just come around the corner of the aisle.  She was holding a movie up for the man to see and appeared to be asking him to buy it for her.  Brightly colored medical tape surrounded her left knee.

“That’s gotta be them!”  We casually approached the pair.  After explaining who we were and that we felt that the Lord wanted to bless them, we prayed healing over the little girl’s knee.  The young father thanked us repeatedly and asked what church we belonged to.  Grampy introduced everyone in the group and then asked the man what his name was.

The man responded, “J.”

“Oh, like J-A-Y?”  I called out the individual letters.

“No, just ‘J’ like the letter J.  People misspell it all the time.”

I turned to look at the young mother who was now practically choking because the man’s comment had caught her so off guard.  It seemed that her little daughter had heard from God after all!

Still marveling over the appointments that God had set up for the day, the team loaded back into the van.  I knew I was about to miss a divine encounter if I didn’t speak up soon.  “Uhhh…do we have time to…to drive around to the back of the store where the dumpsters are?”

“Sure man.”  The healer backed the oversized vehicle out of the snug parking space.  “Did you get another clue or something?”

I looked down at the now crumpled sheet of paper that I had written my clues on.  “Sort of.”

We drove around to the huge waste bins.  Maybe my treasure would be out there dumping the store’s trash bags or something.  I exited the van and scanned the area for the bright red shirt of a Target employee.  There was no sign of anyone.   I turned to the left and then to the right.  “Oh, well.”  I murmured, disappointedly heading back to the group waiting in the van.  “Maybe my timing’s off.  Maybe we should have come here first.”

As I held onto the handle of the van door and lifted my right leg to enter the vehicle, I heard a clang of metal.

“What was that?”  I whirled around and faced the dumpsters.  No one was in sight.  My eyes darted back and forth and quickly came to rest on a half crushed aluminum coke can, still rocking back and forth on the ground.

“Is anybody there?”  I called out.  “Don’t be afraid.  I just want to talk to you.”

A flash of movement caught my eye.  Cautiously, I headed back over to one of the dumpsters and peered around its left side.  A small furry dog happily greeted me, nacho cheese dripping from his fuzzy little beard.

“Hey there buddy.”  I reached out my hand for him to sniff.  “You havin’ a snack?  Boy, you could sure use a bath!”  I held my breath as the stench of rotting food in the dumpsters now surrounded me.  “Do you have an owner or are you here all alone?”  I questioned the dog aloud as if he was going to respond back to me.

Just then I heard another sound – a small scraping sound that lasted no more than a second.  “Who’s there?”  I called, bracing myself behind the dumpster.  To my surprise, there in a mass of crushed cardboard boxes and broken pieces of styrofoam crouched Crazy Jane, her unruly hair held back in a red bandana.

“Jane, is that you?”  I asked, walking closer.  “Don’t be afraid Jane.  The Lord brought me here to meet with you.”

In a split second Kodesh took over my speech and continued.  “He has saved every tear you have cried for your son Edward.  He has collected them in bottles.  They are precious to Him.  You are precious to Him, faithful servant.  The word that was spoken over you so many years ago will now come to pass.  This is your spiritual son, Josiah.  The Master is ready for you to train him.”

“What?!?”  I blurted out the second my tongue was free from Kodesh’s control.

Jane’s eyes searched my disturbed face.  “I know.”

“What?!?”  I repeated louder.

“He told me you would come today.  I have been waiting.”

“Will anybody please tell me what is going on?”  I wailed.

“Yahweh has purposed that Jane help further your journey into the supernatural.  You will sit at her feet and glean every ounce of wisdom you can from her.  She will be your spiritual mother and you – her son in the spirit.  Jane carries His mark and a mantle of anointing like no other.  In time, she will pass that mantle to you.  Once you have received it, Yahweh will then double your portion.  Do not let your heart be troubled when you are with her.  She only means to do you well.”

Shaking my head, I protested.  “I don’t think my mom’s gonna go for this.  A complete stranger.  I’m not allowed –”

“It’s already taken care of.”  Kodesh cut my excuse short.  “The Lord told your mother years ago that a time would come when she would have to trust Him entirely and place your future in His hands alone.  A messenger has been sent to prepare her that the time has come.”

I looked up at Jane and shot her a ‘what do you think about all of this’ glance.  Smiling, she spoke, “You’re welcome in my home anytime Josiah.  No need to call.  Just stop by.”

“You…you have a home?”

Jane smiled again at the stunned expression on my face.  “It’s not much to look at, but it’s a roof over my head.  That’s all I need.”

The confusion on my face seemed to provoke Jane’s sense of humor.  “Did you think I was a bum or something?”

“Well, uh…no…er, I mean…yeah kinda…that is, I mean I did…uh you know think you were…homeless.”

I knew that I sounded hopelessly foolish, but there was no way around it.  I had just assumed that Jane was homeless.  I didn’t actually know it.  In fact, I didn’t really know anything about her.

“I live on Sleepyhollow Drive.  Number seven.   Stop by soon.”

“Okay.  Maybe I will.  It was nice to uh…meet you…Jane.”  I backed away and turned to head back to the waiting van.

“Hey Josiah!”  Jane called out as I neared the humming vehicle.  “Just so you know, I’m not really crazy either.”

I waved, acknowledging her comment, and scrambled into the van.  “That’s good to know Jane, good to know.”  I muttered as I buckled up.

“So did you find your treasure?”  The healer anxiously questioned me about the encounter.

I scratched my head.  “Actually, I think that I may have been the treasure this time!”

Chapter 11

Crushed and Broken

I hadn’t been home for five minutes before Grace came barging into my room.  Her eyes were swollen and watery.  Her nose and cheeks were blotchy red.  There was a strange look in her eyes that I had never seen before.

“What happened to you?”  I asked.

“Remember when we talked about the girl?”  Grace sputtered, out of breath.  “The girl with the bruises.”

“Yeah.”

“Well, her name’s Mikaela.  I’ve spent the last few weeks getting to know her.  We kinda hang out now.”

“Okay…”  I couldn’t tell where Grace was headed with the conversation.

“Well, her parents are really cool.  They’re good people.  You know…pretty decent morals…involved in their kids’ lives…working hard to live the American dream.  But today when I was over there, I realized that it’s her mother…”

Grace’s face twisted and her chin began to quiver.  She fought back tears but lost the battle.

“Her mother is hitting her?”  I tried to draw my own conclusion from what Grace had already told me.

“No.”

“Her father hits her?”  I tried again.

“No.  It’s her mother, but she isn’t hitting her.”

“I don’t get it.  What is she doing to cause the bruises then?”

Talking to her!”  Again, Grace was overcome with emotion.  “She was just talking to her.  She was fussing at her–like all parents do their kids.  She called her a brat.  Told her she didn’t have time to put up with her and that she was sick and tired of dealing with her.  She asked her why she couldn’t be good like her brother who always did what he was told.  Made her feel good for nothing.  You know, that kind of stuff.  It wasn’t really that bad at first but the more she said, the worse it got.  By the time she was through, Mikaela was black and blue – completely defeated.  But her mom literally did not lay a hand on her. Honest to God!  It was so awful!  I couldn’t do anything!  I just sat there.  I just sat there and watched.  She could have killed her…”

“That doesn’t make any sense.”  I interrupted.  “You can’t kill somebody with your words alone.”

“Not in the physical.  But spiritually…you must be able to.  The Bible says that death and life are in the power of the tongue.  Her words…it was like they were weapons or something.  They were beating the you know what out of her!”

“Man…that’s really messed up.  I didn’t realize words could be so destructive.”

  “That’s just it!  Her mom doesn’t even know that she’s doing it.  She has no idea that she’s crushing her own child’s spirit – completely crippling her on the inside.”

“How was Mikaela handling it?”

“Well, she obviously can’t see the abuse like I can.  She tried to act like it was no big deal.  But I saw her spirit.  She was broken.  Just a broken, broken person on the inside.”

“Alright.  We’ve got to speak life into that girl…fast!  Here’s the plan.  We’re going to get her hooked up with Mrs. Donna from church.  She can help.  I know she can.”

“Mama D!”  Grace let out a sigh of relief.  “That’s a great idea!  Someone to build her up again.”

Like Father, Like Son-Not!

I was halfway through a Math test when Kodesh spoke.  “You’ve got a mission.  Let’s go!”

“Now?  I can’t go now!”

“Why not?”

“Well, for one thing, I’m supposed to be taking a test!  What’s going to happen when my teacher realizes I’m here but I’m not really here?”

“Sorry, Josiah!  It can’t wait.  But it’ll be quick.  I promise.  You just need to give a quick word of encouragement.”

“Alright, alright.  Let’s go.”

Within seconds I was lying on my back, surrounded by darkness.  As I blinked my eyes and began to look around, I focused on a long rectangle of light filtering in to my unknown location.  My senses instantly relayed to me that I was in a very, very tight space.  My heart began to pound.

“Calm down Josiah.”  I thought to myself.  “This is no big deal.  You’re not claustrophobic.  This shouldn’t be a problem for you.”  My rational thought process was quickly interrupted by the voice in my mind screaming that I was a newly diagnosed claustrophobic after all.

My inner struggle came to a screeching halt when I realized that I was not alone.  Rhythmic heavy breathing sounded to my left.  Someone was lying next to me!  A large crashing sound rang out and the body beside me flinched.  I turned my head to the light and saw a man on the floor, his legs sprawled out before him.

  “Billy, where the —- are ya?”  I covered my ears as the man cursed but I heard it anyway.  “I’m gonna bust your —-!  Boy!  When I find you – you’re gonna wish you never lived.”

The man attempted to stand, took a careless step, lost his balance, and fell again.  The breathing next door to me grew louder and a whimper escaped.  The body that I could pretty much guess to be Billy’s was now trembling.

Suddenly I was enlightened with a bird’s eye view of the scene.  It was a bedroom.  The man was again attempting to stand, cursing all the while.  I quickly surveyed the room in search of my location.  A set of thick, solid wood bunk beds lined the wall.  My eyes came to rest on the toe of a worn black tennis shoe protruding out from under the bottom bunk.  “Oh no!”  I panicked.  I was smart enough to figure out that this kid, Billy, was going to end up with much more than just spiritual bruises like Grace’s friend Mikaela.

  As fast as I could, I leaned over the body and ever so gently tugged the pant leg attached to the exposed sneaker toward me.  I waited in silence.  Nothing.  I peered over the figure.  The man had apparently given up on trying to stand.  He flopped over to one side and became still. “He must have passed out.”  I thought.

Kodesh’s warmth rolled over me.  “Okay it’s time to talk to the boy.”

“Wait!  I don’t know what to say!”  I protested.

“Good!  Just open your mouth.”

I rested there perfectly still for about three seconds and then, feeling strangely silly, opened my mouth wide like a baby bird and waited.  Sure enough, the words came.  “Billy. Don’t be afraid.”

My words clearly startled the boy and he began to wildly move his head from left to right.  “Who…who’s there?”

“It’s just me, Josiah. I’m a boy like you.  God sent me here to be with you right now.  You know, so you won’t be alone.”

“He’s drunk.”  Billy’s voice was a mixture of hate and hurt.

“I know.”

“He hits my mom.  I try to stop him, but he hits me.  Then she tries to stop him and he hits her.”

“Billy, the Lord wants you to know something.  He sees everything.  He’s going to hold your dad accountable for his actions.  There’s no doubt about that.  God loves you and He has chosen you for Himself.  You aren’t going to be a deadbeat like your dad.  You’re going to be an awesome father one day!  God will take the horrible things that have happened to you and turn them around for good.  Don’t give up Billy.  Sometimes life really stinks!  People fail us.  Your dad has failed you.  But God never fails.  He will not abandon you.  I know it may seem like the end of the world right now.  But it’s not.  You’re gonna make it through this.  And it’s gonna make you strong.  Really strong.  I promise.”

As the last word exited my mouth, I saw math problems in front of me.  “Oh good.  I’m back.  That wasn’t too long.”  I stared at the paper on my desk and shuttered.  I couldn’t even imagine how horrible it must be to have to hide from a parent.  How incredibly wrong that the very hands God created to hold and comfort this child were being used to harm him.  Spiritual bruises, physical bruises.   Parents unintentionally hurting their children, parents purposefully hurting their children.   What a seriously screwed up world we live in.  Traces of anger began to build in my heart.  “No!  It’s not right!”  I exploded as I pounded my fist on the desk.  I looked up to an empty room.  Uh oh!

Noticing my outburst, Mrs. Patton began to speak.  “Josiah.  So glad you could join me.  How ‘bout having lunch together today.  Right here in the classroom.  And you can finish that Math test while you’re here.”

On my Case

“Hey!  Where were you at lunch?”  Daniel whispered from across the table.

“Huh?” I looked up from my Spanish book.

“Earth to Josiah!”  Daniel shot back at me in his most space alien sounding whisper.  “Lunch.  Today.  We were supposed to go over codes for Spy vs. Spy.  You never showed!”  Daniel’s voice hinted of slight irritation.  I could tell that he was getting tired of my excuses.

“Um…I had to do something.”

“Something like what?”  He demanded.  “You sure are acting funny these days.  You’re always zoned out.  And never available to hang out anymore.”

“If you must know, Mrs. Patton held me after to finish a Math test.”

“And why didn’t it get finished in class?”  Daniel’s questions were becoming more like an interrogation.  “Riley said you were in some sort of a trance during class.  Wouldn’t speak to anyone.  You know, the lights are on, but nobody’s home.”

I didn’t want to lie to him, but I simply could not tell him the truth.  Not now anyway.  I was still the newest boy in the class and couldn’t risk being labeled as a “weirdo” or “freak.”  But, I knew I could only pretend to be normal for so long.  My missions were becoming more and more frequent and I had discovered that Yahweh wasn’t too concerned about being discreet…

“So, you want to come over this afternoon for some gaming?”  Daniel arched his eyebrows twice quickly.

“Can’t.”

“What do you mean, you can’t?  Don’t…make… me… beg!”  He wailed in a raised whisper, pausing between each word for dramatic effect.  Senora Reyes looked up from the homework she was grading in search of the source of the distraction.  Daniel and I pretended to be busy labeling pictures in our Spanish workbooks.

“I’m really sorry Daniel, but I can’t.  I’ve got to visit an old lady…I think she has dementia or something…mom’s orders.”  I spoke out of the corner of my mouth to avoid setting the teacher’s radar off again.  Jane would just have to forgive me for misrepresenting her and for calling her old and crazy.  I had to make it sound boring so that Daniel wouldn’t want to tag along.

“Bummer.”  Daniel looked a little more glum than usual.

 

Rags to Riches and Back to Rags Again!

Ever so slowly, I trudged up Jane’s dirt driveway.  I truly had no desire to be there, yet I felt compelled to go.  Maybe it was Kodesh’s promise that I would receive a double portion.  Maybe it was just curiosity.  Whatever the reason, I was there and that was all that mattered.  I rang the bell and entered as Jane warmly welcomed me.  Jane’s home was extremely modest, but cozy.  It was surprisingly clean!  My spiritual vision was operating at full strength.  Jane looked just as beautiful as the day I stopped to greet her by the overpass.

“Why don’t you have a seat here and I’ll get us something to drink.”  Jane motioned towards a small couch in her living room.  I sat and scanned the room.  It looked absolutely…normal.  I found it strange that such a peculiar woman lived in such a regular looking home.  I ran my finger along the edge of a photo album resting in the center of Jane’s coffee table, debating on whether or not it would be acceptable for me to take a look.  Mom would probably say it’s bad manners to look without permission…but mom wasn’t here.  Quickly, I flipped open the album cover.  A young boy about my age grinned back at me.  There was absolutely no mistaking those piercing blue eyes.

I could hear Jane approaching and turned to question her.  “You have a son?”

Had a son.”  Jane corrected me.  “Wonderful boy.  He passed years ago.”

“I’m sorry…I didn’t know.”

For some reason, the awkward exchange impaired my judgment.  “Why do you hang out in the dumps if you have a home?”  I blurted out.  Oops!  I hadn’t meant to voice that thought aloud.  It just sort of jumped right out!

“I guess you might call it character training.”  Jane smiled as she gently handed me a glass of freshly squeezed lemonade.

“But everybody thinks you’re crazy and homeless.  They call you ‘the bag lady.’  Your clothes…don’t you want nice things?”

Jane quickly cut me off.  “I don’t care what everyone else thinks.  As far as I’m concerned, I am homeless.  This world is not my home.  I’m just passing through.”  Another smile.  “I was put on this earth for one purpose –to do God’s will.  If that requires sacrifice on my part, then so be it.  It’s the least I can do for Him after all He’s done for me.  I have clothes and food and shelter to come home to any time I want, but my ministry is on the streets.  I have the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of countless people that most church-goers won’t even give the time of day.  Like Yeshua, I minister to the unlovely.  The dirty.  The smelly.  The ones that never get a break in life.  The ones openly living in sin.  In the Bible Yeshua taught that those who are already well do not need a doctor.  He spent most of His time with people who were spiritually sick.  I choose to do the same thing.  In a way, I feel like they are my people and it is my responsibility to share God’s love and power with them.”

Interesting.  Jane also called Him Yeshua.  I couldn’t help but wonder if all those who know Him closely are given the revelation of His real name.  “Your people?”  I asked.

“I should have been one of them.  My mom split when I was born.  My dad couldn’t afford me and didn’t know how to care for me.  He didn’t have many options.  He dropped me off on a random doorstep with a note saying that he could not give me what I would need in life.”

Kodesh suddenly cut in.  “That random doorstep just so happened to belong to the most renowned prophet and dream interpreter in your country.”

“No way!”  I exclaimed.  “You can’t be talking about Micah Manning!”

“Wa-ay!”  Kodesh cracked me up with his perfect imitation of a teenage response.

I turned to question Jane personally.  “Micah Manning raised you?”

Jane grinned and nodded.  “They took me in and raised me as their own.  Named me ‘Jane’ which means ‘God’s grace.’  They never believed that my arrival was random.   Rather, it was divinely purposed by the Lord.  An unmerited act of His favor and love for me.  They believed that His grace would operate through me to strengthen others.”

Unmindful of any manners that I had ever been taught, I sat with my mouth stuck wide open.  I just couldn’t move on.  Micah Manning travelled all over the world to places I had never even heard of and definitely could not pronounce.  He was on TV all the time.  Could this quirky homeless woman who actually really has a home be his adopted daughter?  Perhaps I was still somehow misunderstanding her.  “THE Micah Manning?”

“Yep.  Yahweh must have led my biological father there.  There’s no other explanation.”

“So…he taught you how to –”

“Yep.”  Jane flashed a shy smile.

“You can –”

“That’s right.”

“And after you train me, I will be able to –”

“You got it!”

“So what happens now?”

“Well…”  Jane turned and busied herself straightening a stack of newspapers.

“Well what?!”  Waves of excitement pulsed through my body.

“Well…the next step would probably be getting you and your team enrolled into TLA.”

“What’s that?”

“The Lord’s Army.  It’s a school of ministry my dad set up.  He’s really busy and he travels alot now, so I help him out.  We teach everything from dream interpretation, to heart reading, to worship, warfare, deliverance, and miracles.  We train those that are exceptionally gifted in the Lord to live a naturally supernatural life.  You can tell your team that Boot Camp starts Monday night.”

**************************************************************************************************

Coming Soon:

Book 2

Josiah Justice: Naturally Supernatural

 

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1 Comment

  1. Kathy(nana) said,

    I Love It!!!!! I want to read more, please?

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