Author's Note: This is not apologetics, 'tis a testimony. It should interest you if you are a Christian, or if you are searching for the truth about God or religions in general.

Hmm . . . Surprised?

Once upon a time there was a man called Alexander the Great, and verily he went forth conquering and to conquer. On one day, in one of Alexander's great campaigns there was brought before him a deserter from his own army. Fearing for his life, the man had attempted to run away from the battle. The standard punishment for desertion was death. Before the sentence was carried out, Alexander asked the deserter his name. The man, in more fear at that moment than he had been when he ran away from the battle, replied, "Alexander." There was a long pause, and Alexander the Great, conqueror of the world from the Aegean Sea to the Himalayas said to him: "Change your conduct, or change your name." Instead of being the recipient of an expected execution, the man was released to his barrack.

Shock isn't a very nice emotion. It has that weird tingly sensation magnified by about a thousand when "it hits you". To me the feeling of shock has never really been anything like the proverbial slap in the face . . . more like glass exploding right under the dermis and lodging itself so it pokes just out of your skin. A lovely description, I know, but that's about as accurate as I can make it.

Now, as a Christian, I've had those selective spiritual shocks: more accurately called convictions by the Holy Spirit. I don't know if you've experienced it, but most of the time it happens to me when I'm reading the scriptures, perhaps when I am sitting, just thinking about a passage I've read . . . or thinking about nothing at all. I'm sure you've had that experience. You're siting at your desk doing Algebra homework when you suddenly—completely out of the blue—realize you didn't hand in the literature essay that was due today. Oops. There's that moment of shock and then the realization that you may in fact be failing the class you were getting a B in before. Major oops.

Have you ever had a spiritual 'oops'? I've had a couple that I can remember, one having to do with the Beatitudes. Okay, the Beatitudes, the one piece in scripture that nearly everyone knows if they know anything besides John 3:16 and Genesis 1:1. I grew up with one very dedicated Christian parent and another very dedicated, but not so Christian, parent. It remains to be an interesting combination. But anyway, I was always interested in doing the right thing. I was too legalistic, in fact; perhaps you know some of those annoying little children who are always clamoring that something isn't fair. I was that, and in addition to that, I was quite the self-righteous little crusader as well. The thing of it was (and that was the thing that gave me the most trouble) I was right. The things I was crusading against weren't fair. But truly wisdom excelleth folly as light excelleth the darkness, and it took me a jolly good while to figure out that nothing is fair. Life isn't fair, and God isn't fair. Death, however, is perfectly fair, but again, what comes after isn't.

Not what you were expecting, hmm? Any idiot knows that life isn't fair. Death is—everybody dies; it's extremely evenhanded. Most assume that God is, but for some reason most of us (including me) mix up fairness and justice as if they were the same thing. Fairness requires that everyone be treated alike: "Fair, the general word, implies the treating of both sides alike, without reference to one's own feelings or interests" (Webster's New World Dictionary). The thing is . . . no one is fair, not in this sense of the word. (And there is more than one usage of the word fair, hence my qualification of fair as treating all the same.) No one treats everyone alike, in precisely the same manner. Why would you? When parents discipline their children, what works for one child may not work for another. Experience and common sense dictate that there are very rarely 'one size fits all punishments'. The justice system allows for this. They don't just look at a dead body and say, "This guy is dead, let's go string someone up for it." They allow for self-defense, manslaughter, and murder convictions. A killer is not always a murderer. But, according to the barest bones of fairness, you should treat everyone the same—every killer. Or, even more complicatedly we have degrees of murder. "In most of the U.S., criminal codes distinguish between two degrees of murder, although as many as five degrees are distinguished in some states. In general, murder in the first degree involves a deliberate, premeditated design to cause the death of the person; murder in the second degree involves the intent to cause death, but without premeditation and deliberation." You see, we've got an intentional crime here, and there is still a distinction between crimes. And rightly so. The district attorney's office must present the jury with facts that prove that not only did this person commit murder, but also that this person committed premeditated murder. And after that, there is the sentencing hearing. Death penalty? Life in prison? Fifty to life? Twenty-five to life? Even more nuancing. That, strictly speaking, isn't fair—I can hear someone saying, "Why did I get fifty years and he only got twenty-five?"-but it is just. God, who knows the inward heart of a man, can hand out justice perfectly. So also God is not fair, but he is just. He doesn't punish all the same, but each according to his works. "That which a man soweth, that also he shall reap."

But we also know, in addition to being just, the Lord is kind and merciful. He chooses to have mercy upon whom He chooses to have mercy. Most agree that mercy is an admirable characteristic to have. After all, who can fault someone for being merciful? Well, humans can and humans do. There is a little something called the doctrine of election. Most people don't like it because it's not quite "nice". Actually, its not really nice at all, but it is just, and it has some mercy to those God has deigned to have mercy on. I don't particularly like it(maybe I should, I don't know)—I am glad and thankful that God decided to have mercy on me, but . . . . (Okay, I was about to say, 'if I had a choice, I wouldn't have done it that way', but I decided not to because it was most probably monumentally stupid. Because God is all-powerful, all-knowing, good, holy, and loving, I can reasonably surmise He created the universe, mankind, and the way to salvation the best out of all possible ways . . . if there were any other possibilities. I don't really know how many different ways He could have done it, but that's all very theoretical and irrelevant. I can know He has done the best thing to be done out of the possibilities. That's all I really can know, and I am content.) But, like I said, it's not the sweetest thing you ever heard, and you probably won't like it. Here's your warning. Election. Election simply states that God chose some people to have the ability to become His children. He didn't choose everybody.

"NOW WAIT JUST A MINUTE!" I can hear the ringing cries of outrage. "IT'S NOT FAIR!" (Enter weeping and gnashing of teeth.) Watch out—the walls of Jericho are coming down faster than they did the first time! But I digress. The point is; some people who read this are probably steaming internally because of the unfairness of it all. Well, you're right, it isn't fair. But while everyone deserved the death penalty, a few received an executive stay, and then a pardon—don't begrudge them. (By the bye . . . the doctrine of election isn't particularly important for someone to understand if one is trying to understand salvation. Why? Because it isn't relevant to one's personal salvation in the sense of saved or not saved. Why? Because no one knows the elect, save the Lord. So it is as if all were the elect.)

The next question is 'why?'. Why just some people? Why not everyone? Why not the whole world? I will give two answers. One of which you may hate a whole lot, and the other you probably will just hate a little. I make no apologies for them; I believe them to be the truth. (By the bye, never choose to disbelieve any philosophy or religion because you don't like it. Reality is, most of reality isn't a playground for your head. Refusing to believe something because you would like it not to be is pointless. Always search diligently for truth, even when the truth hurts, and then speak it. All of the great people of society have done this, and we admire them as people of integrity and great worth. But if you fear and ignore the truth you are a slave to lies. How would you like that title on your resume? I'm sure there are a few worse titles, but they are few and far between.)

Let's give the most potentially offensive one first. Answer: Who gives you the audacity to point your finger at God and ask him why he couldn't have done it another way? Who are you in comparison with God anyway? "There is no wisdom nor understanding nor counsel against the Lord." God is God and he can do whatever He pleases. Lucky for us He is a good and gracious God as well. Or better yet, in Job 38:1-4,7-13, 17, 24, 40:1-6, 8, 42:1-6. One might consider reading the entire book of Job for content, but the last four chapters suffice for my point.

Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said, Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge? Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me. Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? Declare, if thou hast understanding. When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy? Or who shut up the sea with doors, when it brake forth, as if it had issued out of the womb? When I made the cloud the garment thereof, and thick darkness a swaddling band for it, and brake up for it my decreed place, and set bars and doors, And said, Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further: and here shall thy proud waves be stayed? Hast thou commanded the morning since thy days; and caused the dayspring to know his place; that it might take hold of the ends of the earth, that the wicked might be shaken out of it? Have the gates of death been open unto thee? Or hast thou seen the doors of the shadow of death? By what way is the light parted, which scattereth the east wind upon the earth? Moreover the Lord answered Job and said, Shall he that contendeth with the Almighty instruct him? He that reproveth God, let him answer it. Then Job answered the Lord, and said, Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer thee? I will lay mine hand upon my mouth. Once have I spoken; but I will not answer: yea, twice; but I will proceed no further. Then answered the Lord unto Job out of the whirlwind. Wilt thou also disannul my judgement? Wilt thou condemn me, that thou mayest be righteous? Then Job answered the Lord, and said, I know that thou canst do every thing, and that no thought can be withholden from thee. Who is he that hideth counsel without knowledge? Therefore have I uttered that I understood not; thing too wonderful for me, which I knew not. Hear, I beseech thee, and I will speak: I will demand of thee, and declare thou unto me. I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear; but now mine eye seeth thee: Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.

It's important to remember that not only was Job the most righteous man in all the earth, but all his family save his wife had just been killed, every possession had been taken from him, and Satan smote him "with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown. And he took him a potsherd to scrape himself withal; and he sat down among the ashes." (Can we say unpleasant?)

Another portion of Scripture from Romans 9: 15-23:

For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it is not of him that willeth, or of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy. For the scripture saith unto Pharoah, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might show my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. Therefore hath he mercy upon whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth. Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? Nay, but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel to honor, and another unto dishonor? What if God, willing to show his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: and that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory . . . ."

That's all self-explanatory. God is the creator and He is justified in whatever action He decides to take.

Or perhaps we can look at this, "What is man, that thou art mindful of him? And the son of man, that thou visiteth him?" Actually, in this passage of Psalm 8, the psalmist, David, is awed that God has chosen to take notice of man in all of the wonders of his creation. He later says, "For thou hast made him a little lower than the ^angels^ [Elohim?], and hast crowned him with glory and honor." All of these blessings God has chosen to give unto man. Every single spark of greatness that man calls his own was given to him by God—what could we possibly say against him? I sometimes have to remind myself that God is sovereign and Creator—and I know nothing in comparison to His omniscience.

But anyway, I just have to say that very few, even those Christian-like folks, like giving answers that they know will offend people. Especially Christians. Think about it, Christians are called to be meek and lowly, wise as serpents and gentle as doves. They are called to have love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance. No one with a gentle and loving heart wants to tick someone else off. Moreover, we know that 'a soft answer turneth away wrath'. But there are sometimes when a person has no other choice but to speak the truth if he wants to stand before God with a clean conscience. Some answers just aren't soft, intrinsically. You may recall in the book of John, Jesus spoke some words the disciples said were 'hard sayings'. Very few could abide them. So many people left that Jesus said to his apostles, "Will ye also go away?" Simon Peter responded, "Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God." That is the response. What else can I say? I rather not make you angry, but if the sum total of my being is "to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with my God", what choice do I have? None—but I will be blunt and say I don't mind facing the consequences.

The second answer to the question "Why not everyone?" has to do with salvation and the elect. People quote John 3:16 with no thought whatsoever, but carefully read John 3:14-16. "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up. That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." This unwillingness that whosoever should not perish is talking about the elect, not any Joe floating around the heavenly spheres, it says, "That whosoever believeth in him should not perish," not that no one should perish. (To clarify—the Lord does tell us that he does not delight in the death of the wicked.) It is very possible that some of the elect will not be saved, that some will choose not to follow Christ. Remember, in Hebrews it says, "if today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation." It is rather illogical and senseless to warn against impossibility, so it must be possible for people to harden their hearts against the call of God. So . . . not even all of those who are able to accept the salvation of Christ will. Even if God chose everyone on the planet and extended to them the ability to come to know Him, some would not. I would hazard a guess that most would not, hence, "Many are called, but few are chosen." It may be that the majority of people are called. Scripture also talks about "vessels of wrath fitted for destruction" and God's relationship to humans as being the potter. In order to have this plan of salvation, some are ordained or mandated for destruction. For instance, consider the only two "sons of perdition" listed in the Bible: Judas Iscariot and the Antichrist to come. Jesus clearly said that it was better for Judas to not have been born. So why was he, you may ask. Often the answer is 'to fulfill the scriptures and the prophecies'. Or, to show the glory of God, and, ultimately, I think, to eliminate sin and the sin nature.

Even before Adam and Eve had their literal fall from grace, there was another fall, that of Satan, or Lucifer, son of the morning. In order to create beings that can have true fellowship with God, they must also have free will. They must choose to worship Him. Well, Satan and a third of the angelic host decidedly chose not to. Before you say "so what" about that one, let me remind you that I'm not talking about choosing between chocolate and vanilla ice cream here. I am talking about beholding absolute goodness and choosing evil, seeing the light and walking willingly into darkness with no temptation whatsoever. What does Isaiah say about Satan and his fall?

How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer son of the morning! How art thou cut down to the ground, which didst waken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend to heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit. They that see thee shall narrowly look upon thee, and consider thee, saying, Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms: That made the world as a wilderness and destroyed the cities thereof; that opened not the house of his prisoners? (Isaiah 14:12-17)

It makes me rather ill at ease just quoting his blasphemous words out of the Book . . . I wonder if Isaiah was angry when he wrote that section? Or perhaps he felt vindicated at the promise of justice at the end.

And what does Isaiah say about his vision of the Most High?

In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphim: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. And one cried unto another, and said, "Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke. Then said I, Woe is me! For I am undone {destroyed}; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts. (Isaiah 6:1-5.)

Worshipping God wasn't (and isn't) a matter of preference between two equal things. It is a decisive choice between choosing goodness and saying to God: "Thou art my Father, in Thee will I place my trust, and Thee will I serve all of my days," and choosing evil and saying to Satan "Thou art my Father, in Thee will I place my trust, and Thee will I serve all of my days." It is very simple . . . and ultimately it is the first and last choice that will ever amount to anything.

Okay, so I was comparing fairness and justice in a rather lengthy tangent. In conclusion I would say that the type of fairness that is bland equality doesn't actually exist in the universe, somebody made it up and the universe has been poorer for it. Justice does, however, and yay for that. But I also began to talk about how I came across a major oops when I was reading the Beatitudes. Me, being the epitome of self-righteous justification—remember all that? Good, I didn't think so. (Chortle). Ahem, sorry about that.

Anyway, I realized that Christians aren't supposed to be tough. I had always prided myself-that should have warned me, but, wow, it didn't—prided myself on being strong, physically and psychologically. I was tough; no one could take me in any way. I put the fear of God into people. Or at least I wanted to, and I was largely successful. It's amazing what people can accomplish when they really go for it. And just to let you know, I am a very tenacious person. If I really want to go after something, ten to one I'll get what I want. Earlier on, I didn't mind steamrolling right over people to get it, either. In addition to tenacity I had and still have quite a bit of impetuousness. I wanted to scare people, I was the U. S. S. Enterprise (the aircraft carrier) armed with nukes, and I knew I could either beat the living daylights out of you, or threaten you into submission. And golly gee, I was good at it. Threats and intimidation worked best, though. But yeah, people were scared of me when I was being nice. Generally, my POV was that people are easier to deal with when you can control them. I was right, they are, but that doesn't make it right(eous) or good.

Of course, I was not half as tough as I thought I was, but that is usually the case. But one day, while reading the Scriptures, I had an epiphany. Christians . . . are supposed to be . . . gentle. Gentle. Hmm. Here we go. In my own private dictionary gentle—synonymous with weak, victim, inferior and about twenty other non-flattering and inaccurate names. Oh, wait—here's another one. "Blessed are they that mourn . . . ." Crying? Isn't that the epitome of weakness? Outside of my family, I never let anyone see me cry, it was a sign of weakness that someone else could exploit of their own gain, and I, the mighty, would actually be vulnerable to someone. I disdained crying period. My thoughts to the author of the Beatitudes, "You must be outside your mind." A truly wonderful place to start, but it got even better. The next one blessed the meek. Meek, meek as in humble, tame, submissive, soft, gentle, peaceable, calm, docile. Wow . . . talk about some adjectives that no one in their right mind would use to describe me. The next one was okay 'cause it talked about desiring righteousness—finally something I could relate to. The next one after that contained mercy. Mercy also equaled meek in my mind. You don't give someone exactly what they deserve (or better yet, more than they deserve) and they will take advantage of it and hurt you. Somebody say paranoid . . . thank you. Being "pure in heart", I didn't totally understand at the time, but it wasn't something I was obviously doing wrong, so I was relieved. If you know what comes next, you can guess my relief was rather short lived.

The next one talked about blessing, of all things, peacemakers. Start laughing, come on, do it already and get it over with. Impetuosity and peacemaking don't go together in a sentence, or in real life. I mean I generally didn't stir up trouble in the sense of doing anything technically wrong. But I didn't mind arguing, still don't. And, boy, howdy, (to quote my sister and Heath Barclay) I would argue with anyone, anytime, anywhere. I'd argue with the Pope! Hmm—did I ever mention that letter I was thinking about writing to him addressing the theology behind papal infallibility (while on the chair) and this "Holy Father" business? No? Consider yourself lucky. Rocketing back to the point . . . I was and am a very argumentative person. Rumor has it, my teacher in the seventh and eighth grades has yet to have a student that matches me in the I-really-get-on-your-nerves-because-I-refuse-to-sit-down-and-shut-up kind of way. It's been about four years, so not too long . . . there's still time. And she seemed to like me, too. (Go Mrs. Kayser; I am impressed with your resilience.) Ooh, I argued everything. Catholic doctrine versus literal translation and evolution vs. creationism to name a couple of the on-going debates. And if I didn't have anything to argue, per say, I could launch an endless series of questions overanalyzing things to the point where my teacher's knowledge was exhausted and she told me to "ask God when I got there". (Did I mention, go, Mrs. Kayser?) To add to my poor teachers even more torment, I was fairly intelligent too, and most of my classmates thought it was kind of amusing. After all, if a student is dialoguing with a teacher that means no one else really has to pay attention. That part of it I wasn't doing on purpose just to be annoying, I was honestly curious. I suppose that was a bit of my saving grace, I wasn't putting anyone on for the heck of it. Either I honestly wanted to know, or I honestly wanted to prove my point. But I had no trouble stirring up arguments to satisfy my curiosity and I certainly wasn't interested in catering to others' weakness or sensitivity. Definitely not peacemaker material. Add to that nearly boundless self-confidence and a "conquer!" mentality, and you get me.

You ever hear of the choleric personality type? Or how about the number 8 on the Enniegram? Or red in color personality types? If you're thinking lively, out-spoken, domineering, vicious, determined, clever, and calculating folk, you've got the right idea. Oh, wait a minute—add anger. If you don't add anger, you come up with an equation of traits that is decidedly off. The type of person I am (naturally) generally inspires love or hatred, or both at the same time, but never, "I think she's okay." So, peacemaking? Go laugh yourself to tears in a corner.

The next couple were worse. "Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness sake . . . ." My general thought was that if you're being persecuted, you're just not strong enough. If you would just be stronger, you would get yourself out of the victim's place and start kicking some serious butt. The other is in the same boat, "Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely for my name sake, Rejoice and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you." But this last verse added a little twist. All the servants of God who had come before were like what was in the Beatitudes, and they had been persecuted. The good guys didn't always appear to come out on top in the midst of the situation. Later, I would read Hebrews 11, called the Faith chapter, or God's Hall of Fame. A lot of these people died, and all exemplified the characteristics I had found in the Beatitudes . . . and lacking in myself.

Lovely. Not for a minute did I entertain in my mind that I could or should go on as I had been. Do not think that this type of personality was actually good or fulfilling to me in any way. Oh, I hated it. I hated how I acted, but I didn't hate it because I thought I was wrong or there was any other way to act, I just hated it because it made me unhappy. I guess I figured life stank so some things you just have to deal with. I was relieved to learn how I was living was wrong before God. (Don't hear that too often, do you?) Then I learned that the Fruit of the Holy Spirit is "love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance." (Sigh . . . isn't that lovely and wondrous?) So I figured out what the missing ingredient was—I didn't have the Holy Spirit. Or, if I had Him, I was quenching the Spirit so much that He was probably royally ticked off. But I don't really think I had an awareness of the part the Holy Spirit was designed to play in the life of a believer. I knew God the Father, and I knew God the Son as Christ Jesus, but that elusive Third Person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit? I knew His name and not to blaspheme it, but that was about it. First, I thought there was something that I could do to change my actions. Then I realized that this type of behavior was so thoroughly ingrained in me that I couldn't really do anything about it. Maybe I didn't yell as much, but there was no thorough transformation that modeled either the Beatitudes, the Fruit of the Spirit, or the life of Christ or His disciples. Somehow, I learned that one had to submit to God in all parts of one's life and I had to let him do it. A change of heart was required—and that was something that could be done by no human effort. So, He did it for me.

I am writing this about four years after the fact. If you're asking how I remember all of this, I have got to say, you don't forget something like this. But even if you were to, I had another catalyst for my transformation. A diary. I have written in a diary off and on for about the past ten years. In February of 1999, I took a look at the diary I had not written in for four years previous . . . and promptly ripped out the pages I had written because they were insultingly self-absorbed, or something like that. I wanted to forget what I had written, and now I have achieved my goal. Sometimes forgetting beats dwelling on pointless things . . . most of the time, actually. I'm not saying you shouldn't resolve important issues in life, but there is a definite distinction between resolving and obsessing. I tend to obsess—a rather annoying habit. Anyway, chief among my thoughts at the time was frustration about my being an angry person. But that day, or near enough to it, I made a decision that I would not continue in that direction, that somehow I'd get out of it. I even wrote that my faith in God was my anchor in the storm that many other people don't have.

Remember when I said earlier, it's amazing what people can do when they put their minds to it? Well, after I figured out what I was supposed to be doing, or better, what I was supposed to be letting God do for me, things improved, and quickly. God didn't just leave me hanging out there in the breeze. He saw I had a willing and submissive heart, and He granted my prayers. It's interesting. I don't know if you know anything about graphology, but it was a little hobby of mine for a while thanks to my sister. Personality traits are reflected in handwriting. You might want to grab a graphology book someday and take a sample of your handwriting to see what it reflects about your personality. The basis of it is very logical. In one section of a book I was reading, it spoke of changes in handwriting reflecting changes in the writer. (Sometimes people change without handwriting changing because after a while people just get into a habit of writing in a certain way. But most of the time, this is not the case.) Generally, you don't notice it happening. In that February entry of my diary, my handwriting was big, messy, and uncontrolled—like me. Nine days later there was a definite change in my handwriting. You wouldn't have guessed the same person wrote it. In the earlier sample my writing, over all, leaned to the right, but was generally inconsistent in that pattern. It was tall, angular, sloppy, and came far off the baseline in random places. There was very little uniformity to the whole thing. Nine days later my handwriting changed. It became smaller and upright, losing its lean to the right. It was on the whole neater, and it lost most of its angularity, instead having gentle curves. Noticing this later, much after the fact, it was a big red sign to me. Or maybe not red . . . more like blue. I don't know—what is the color of joy?

I have since learned other things that helped change my heart, besides the Beatitudes. One being the Way of Love in Corinthians 13, another the armor of God in Ephesians 6:10-20m, and another 2nd Peter 1:5-9. I would suggest that anyone read and meditate upon those sections of scripture because not only are they extremely helpful in instructing us upon the Christian lifestyle, they are also just plain cool. Both Galatians and Ephesians are good books to read (in my opinion) when one needs to understand in no uncertain terms what our Christian conduct is to be like. Add Philippians to that as well, not only is it the book of joy, but it also seems to be the book of the conduct of Christ. It speaks about having the abundant life in Christ by living as He did.

So, I ended talking about my testimony, in all, the basic transformation of my spiritual life. I started this little paper with a story I heard on the radio from Dr. D. James Kennedy. He has the broadcast Truths that Transform. I used that story because the translation of it into Christian terms neatly summarizes my spiritual shock. I had been living a life in the name of Christianity only-merely taking on a name does not impute to the bearer of the name the virtues of its station. In the same way, a person does not magically become a Christian because he calls himself one. Furthermore, to be Christian is to be "Christ-like". Thus, I learned that the name "Christian" was a high name and I was disgracing it. From that point forward there were only two decisions to choose between, and only one was satisfactory, I could either change my conduct, or change my name.

Addendum: Perhaps you noticed the odd bit in the quote from Psalm 8. That is because the translation there is odd. The KJV says "angels" like the Greek translation, the Septuagint records. A Catholic translation I have read says "god" in lower case letters. Yet, when the author of Hebrews quotes from Psalm eight, he literally uses the word "angels". The actual Hebrew is Elōhīm. This word for God occurs, according to my Bible, 2570 times in the Old Testament. This is actually a plural word for God, but it always takes a singular verb—which would defy one's normal grammar rules. However, there are two explanations for this, one the 'im' ending is, as the writers of my study Bible explain, an ending of majesty, much like the imperial we. Another is that it is an expression of the Trinity and the Triune God, because, while the subject denotes plurality, the verb denotes singularity. Whichever the case, I do not think that one should translate this as "god" because the passage does not refer to any god, but God himself. I do not think David would start comparing the low state of humans to any other sorts of gods that he does not actually believe in. After all, a vanity such as an idol is less than a human, anyway.