Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Are You Staying Home During the Coronavirus Crisis?

Luke 21:11 (KJV):  And great earthquakes shall be in divers places, and famines, and pestilences; and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven.

I provide broadcast captioning for television. On any given day, especially on the weekends, I might caption five or more hours of sports. Baseball, basketball, and hockey are the three main ones, but I also caption football, all kinds—American, Australian, and real football—the kind that consumes the hearts of sports fanatics in Europe.

All of that ended with the shutdown of sports. I used to wonder what would happen if people didn’t have sports to watch. For many, it’s an addiction—to escape from problems, to enjoy a pastime, to be entertained, and on and on. I waited a long time to caption sports, until my children were much older. I could never see myself captioning a baseball game into the thirteenth inning and serving dinner two hours late with a two-year-old and nine-year-old waiting to be fed.
But eventually, I did caption sports; first baseball, then basketball, and then all the rest. Last week on ESPN, I captioned a fiery knife thrower, bare-hand fish hunters, and hill rollers—or something like that. 
I never quite got the gist of that last sport that took place in the U.K., but it was obvious the sports producer was digging into the very bottom of the sports barrel hoping live sports would be resurrected soon.
So now, instead of captioning baseball—my favorite sport to caption—I’m captioning Coronavirus press conferences of President Trump, governors around the country, city mayors, local doctors, nurses, and even recovering Coronavirus patients. I had to come up with a good brief for hydroxychloroquine. Who would have thought I would ever need to know what that word meant?
It’s only been three months since Christmas and the entire world is affected. Because I’m such a conspiracy nut, I knew about the virus in Wuhan probably before most people did. It was barely mentioned in the news, and I have to admit, I never expected it to become what it is now.
Even with all the books I’ve read and YouTube videos I’ve watched dealing with apocalyptic scenarios, partly out of my own interest but also as research for my Seventh Dimension Series, I can’t remember seeing anything that took on the scope of this pandemic, although I have heard scientists predict that we were past due for a flu similar to the Spanish flu of 1918.
I also can’t remember anything on a global scale that has affected me personally to this degree since the Cuban Missile Crisis. I was living in Atlanta at the time, and my mother had just remarried. I remember the drills the elementary school conducted, that if something were to happen, to run into the hallway and cover our head. I remember my mother and new father showing me how to walk home from school if the worst happened. 
We had just moved with their marriage the previous week, and I was living in an unfamiliar part of town. I remember them telling me what would be safe to eat, that anything in a can would be okay, but practically nothing else. And I was acutely aware of death—of my own, theirs, or classmates. I had a scary feeling that my world, as tenuous as it was, might soon come to an end.

That was fifty-seven years ago. I was in first grade. I hardly knew anyone because I had just enrolled in that school, and because we were living in a different apartment, I didn’t know a soul. While John F. Kennedy wasn’t a perfect president, he was certainly the man for the hour. He stood up to Cuba, and a nuclear war was averted.
Whether you love Trump or hate him, I would encourage you as an American to support him. We need everyone to come together and to do their part to help us get through this. The one thing I keep hearing over and over is that people need to stay home. By staying home, we can slow down the exponential increase in cases, hopefully long enough to spread out the need for ventilators over a longer period to save lives.
Many years ago, when my daughter, Joy, was in third grade, I got the shingles. I’d never had shingles and didn’t know what it was, but my eye was a mess and it hurt. I finally made an appointment with an ophthalmologist, in between a hectic captioning schedule to see what was going on. The doctor examined me and said I had an eye infection. As an afterthought, I said, “You know, I also have this rash on my forehead.”
The doctor stopped what he was doing and examined my forehead. Immediately he exclaimed, “You’ve got shingles.”
My mother had had shingles, and she had told me more than once how painful it was. No wonder I was in so much pain. The doctor looked at my eye again and shook his head. “It’s a wonder you didn’t lose your eyesight. If the spread had gone down instead of up, you would have.”
I went home that night thankful that somebody discovered a cure for shingles and that in a few days I’d feel much better. I don’t remember many shows I’ve captioned over ten years ago, but I remember the show I did that night. It was on QVC, and the woman was from Asia and spoke with the heaviest accent you could have and still call it English. I couldn’t open that eye, and so I captioned that hour-long show squinting in pain in a language that sounded nothing like English. I hope they sold some jewelry that night. If they did, I’m sure it wasn’t because of my perfect captions. Lord only knows what I wrote!
But that isn’t the end of the story. I got better within a few days. Life seemed to return to normal, and I went out of town on a trip, only to get a phone call from my dear friend who was taking care of my daughters.
“I think Joy has chickenpox,” Sylvia said.
“What? No, she can’t have chickenpox. She had chickenpox when she was a baby.” Or did she?
Joy had broken out in a rash while on vacation in Destin, Florida, and I had taken her to the emergency clinic. The doctor said he was ninety percent sure it was chickenpox. So I took his word for it and never got her the vaccine. Well, I guess she didn’t have chickenpox after all. I returned home from my out-of-town trip early, took her to the pediatrician, and received the diagnosis: chickenpox.
So Joy stayed home from school and gymnastics practice for the next seven to ten days. Unexpectedly, after she returned to school, she came home with a letter from the school principal that went something like this: It has come to our attention that we have had an outbreak of chickenpox in our school. Several cases have been reported, and if your child breaks out with a rash, has a fever…”
When Joy returned to her gymnastic class, I heard through the gossip mill of mothers that several gymnasts had recently come down with chickenpox.
I didn’t have the guts or heart to tell those parents it was because of me. I got the shingles, Joy caught the chickenpox from me, and then she passed it on to several students and gymnasts, and those kids probably shared it with others I never knew about.
Fortunately, enough kids had been immunized and enough adults had had the chickenpox as children that it didn’t turn into an epidemic. 
I bring that story up here to stress how important it is that we take measures to avoid contact with others during this Coronavirus Crisis. There is no treatment and there is no vaccine. Therefore, some people who get it will not have the resources to fight it and will die. There aren’t enough ventilators for those who might have trouble breathing. For the first time in U.S. history, we may have to triage patient care. That means somebody will have to choose who will live and who will die.
Coronavirus is spreading at an unprecedented rate. To have something this deadly overtake so many countries around the world at once is unimaginable. If someone had predicted this beforehand, they would have been written off as a conspiracy nut. I know. I’ve been called that by one of my kids.
CLICK TO TWEET:  The truth is I believe we are heading into a time period that was predicted in the Bible over two thousand years ago. The word “pestilence” in Luke 20 is associated with a specific period of calamity. 
We’ve seen the dramatic rise in earthquakes over the last few years. Famines around the world have increased, and I would not be surprised to see “wonders” in the sky in the not-too-distant future. Steve Cioccolanti, a pastor in Australia with Discover Ministries, who also teaches Biblical prophecy and its intersection with current events, believes we are at the opening of the third seal, the third horse of the apocalypse.
Revelation 6:5-6 (KJV): And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, “Come and see.” And I beheld, and lo, a black horse, and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, “A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine.”
Pastor Cioccolanti believes the opening of the seals happens before the seven-year tribulation. If that is true, we may be closer to the return of Christ than many of us have imagined.

I encourage everyone to stay at home, read books, spend quality time with family, and pray. Pray that God will use the Coronavirus to show people that even though our lives can quickly change, God is unchanging. Jesus Christ is our rock, our hope, and our salvation.
Take time to read the Book of Daniel and the Book of Revelation. Ask God to help you reprioritize what’s most important. Eat well to build up your immune system. Take vitamin C and vitamin D. Pray for President Trump and all of our leaders, our doctors and nurses, and our pastors. The emotional impact may be exhausting. Pray for one other, that God will meet our needs—financial, spiritual, and physical—to help us through this difficult time.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

“And I Will Restore to You the Years the Locusts Hath Eaten…” Joel 2:25 (KJV)

“I took away her dreams,” my husband told the judge. His words stung. My dreams of bearing children, finishing my college degree, and pursuing my goal of becoming a writer seemed impossible. At thirty, I had hit rock bottom and had to start over in a dead-end job I hated. Tears welled up as I wept bitterly.

Thirty-three years later, I thank God he did not save my marriage. As an abuse survivor, I learned to be kind to myself. Prayer and reading God’s Word helped me to heal. I discovered freedom through travel. I found new ways to earn my college degree and studied internationally. I eventually earned my Master of Arts in Creative Writing. 

I learned to keep a short memory. I overcame bitterness by developing a positive attitude. I discovered beauty because I chose to look for it. I learned to love better and adopted two beautiful little girls from Nepal and Vietnam. I homeschooled them and learned patience. I chose to forgive. I was most surprised to learn that locusts can only eat so much. Then they die.

With the wind at my back and the sand underneath my feet, I no longer lament the years the locusts stole from me. They aren’t worth remembering. Only my footprints remain for others to follow. 

Instead, I’m thankful. Nothing is ever wasted, especially suffering. By taking that first step towards renewal, we can share our victories despite our pain. Others will be encouraged when they see our footprints and know they aren’t alone.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Friday, February 21, 2020

Dr. Brian Simmons on the Book of Revelation - Are His Interpretations Biblical?

I watched this video because a friend asked me to listen to Dr. Brian Simmons’ interpretation of Revelation. While I don’t have a firm grasp on Simmons’ beliefs about salvation (if they comport with traditional Christianity), after watching this YouTube video, I must say his teachings on the book of Revelation are strange and unscriptural. Do not be deceived by his allegorical interpretations.

I posted the link to the video here not to promote Simmons' teachings, but to point out how important it is that we weigh what anyone says, including a teacher with a doctorate in theology, with what the Bible teaches. While I don’t have Simmons’ qualifications, I am a student of the Bible and feel compelled to point out some of the flaws Simmons presents in his interpretation of the book of Revelation.

I might also add, for those who don’t know me, I have never posted anything similar to this. I might have differing opinions with a biblical scholar or teacher, but I’m always reluctant to point those differences out publicly. However, after perusing the dozens of comments on this video, I noted that many were shaken by what Simmons said and most doubted and questioned his interpretations.  

I’ll begin with Simmons’ comments on “antichrist.” He says the word “antichrist” is never used in the book of Revelation, suggesting that there is no “antichrist.” One only has to look at the historical record to see there have been many antichrists. However, there is one man who will be the antichrist—referred to by many names in the Bible other than antichrist, e.g., “son of perdition” and “the man of lawlessness,” just to name two.

Concerning the antichrist, Simmons said the article “the” is never used before the word “antichrist.” The Bible is amazingly consistent. Messiah means “Anointed One,” without the word “the” attached to it. This is especially important when one considers that “anti” also means, according to Merriam-Webster, “the one who is opposed.”

Referencing the number 666, Simmons says in the video, “666 is the number of men,” meaning all men in general. However, Rev 13:18 says, “Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man. His number is 666.” (NKJV)

I checked over thirty translations of this verse. Every single translation I checked uses the article “a” before “man.” One translation used the word “person,” but still had the article “a” in front of the noun.

The Bible is clear. A man, an individual, will arise in the latter days and will be the antichrist. Satan does not know God’s timetable, and so the devil has had many men who could have fulfilled that role. Hitler was a prototype, a forerunner of the antichrist spoken of in the book of Revelation.

The word “tribulation” is found throughout Scripture, but its meaning is precise in the book of Revelation in that it refers to a specific time when God’s wrath is poured out on the earth. Reference is made to this time in the book of Joel, referred to as “the day of the Lord.” Not only is it a period of time during Joel’s life, but it presents a pattern of a future time of God’s judgment, the time referred to in the book of Revelation as the tribulation.

While the words “rapture,” “millennium,” “second coming,” and “antichrist” may not be explicitly used in the book of Revelation, as pointed out by Simmons, other words meaning the same thing do appear.

For example, Rev 20:4 refers to the saints reigning with Jesus for a thousand years. One thousand years and millennium both mean one thousand.

Again, I urge the reader, if you watch this video, take the time to examine Simmons’ words and compare them to what God says in His Word. I certainly would not trust Simmons’ interpretation of Scripture in his Passion Translation of the Bible.

Simmons said the tribulation in Scripture never applies to the unbelieving world. It only applies to the “believer.” I have no idea how he could read the book of Revelation and believe what is happening does not apply to the unbelieving earth-dwellers.

The church is no longer on earth when God pours out His wrath. God’s wrath historically has never been poured out on the believers. Think of Sodom and Gomorrah when God delivered Lot and his family from judgment. Think of Noah and how God saved “a righteous man” and his family. To think this man is preaching such heresy is unsettling. He’s fooled a good friend of mine, and I am sure he has deceived many others.

Simmons said, “The judgments of the world are actually against our self-life.” This quote is an inaccurate interpretation of Scripture. Nations will be judged. Remember what Jesus said when He spoke of the sheep and the goats. When Jesus returns, the nations will be judged on how they treated the Jews.

In Matthew 25:31-32, Jesus said: “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, He will sit on His glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.” (NIV)

The nations who have treated the Jews poorly will not survive into the millennium. Yes, there is a literal millennium when Jesus reigns from Jerusalem. Read Isaiah, the last couple of chapters, where Isaiah speaks about this time of peace for Israel.

It is not surprising that Simmons could not explain the references to the inability to buy or sell if one has the mark of the beast. Scripture clearly shows that the antichrist takes control of the world’s economic system. There is no need to allegorize what is understandable. Again, do not listen to this man’s false teachings.

Also, Simmons’ comments on “the beast” is within us—that is very troubling. I do not have the beast within me. The Holy Spirit resides in me. I am a sinner, saved by the grace of God. I am a new creature in Christ. Nowhere in Scripture is there any doctrine or even a hint or idea that believers are inhabited by a beast. The beast is not the flesh of man, as Simmons says.

Rev 11:7 refers to the beast coming out of the abyss. To draw a parallel to the beast coming out of the abyss to a beast inside of a person indwelt by the Holy Spirit is, in my opinion, demonic.

Simmons asks the question, “How can you blessed if a billion people are going to be slaughtered?” The book of Revelation enumerates seven specific blessings. They are as follows:

Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near. (Rev 1:3 NKJV)

Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’” (Rev 14:13 NKJV)

“Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame.”(Rev 16:15 NKJ)

Then he said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!’” And he said to me, “These are the true sayings of God.” (Rev 19:19 NKJV)

Blessed and holy is he who has a part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and Christ and shall reign with Him a thousand years. (Rev 20:6 NKJV)

“Behold, I am coming quickly! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.” (Rev 22:7 NKJV)

Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may enter through the gates into the city. (Rev 22:14 NKJV)

To ask, how can we be blessed when a billion people are being slaughtered is akin to asking how can we be blessed when Jesus died on the cross. Simmons is making a mockery of salvation. “…blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” (emphasis mine) Those who die without the Lord will spend eternity in hell. Is it not a sign of God’s grace that He gives every last human a chance to repent, even at this late hour?

Revelation 14:6 states: “Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth—to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people”— this is the final witness to the earth-dwellers of God’s love. God literally sends an angel one last time to the unbelievers around the world urging them to “repent and believe in Jesus.”

Simmons says much of the Bible is allegorical. There are many instances where the Bible uses allegory. I love allegory, and I use it in my Seventh Dimension Series. However, some things one should not allegorize. Furthermore, if one does, he better be sure there is not a literal interpretation that fits the meaning of the passage.

In my opinion, Dr. Brian Simmons’ interpretations of Revelation are flawed and gnostic. Stay away from him. Patricia King, the host, seems like a very warm and welcoming person. However, I have to question her judgment to give someone a platform to speak whose interpretation of the book of Revelation is so contrary to the norms of traditional Biblical interpretation which has hallmarked the spirit-filled church for the last two thousand years.

One final comment: I believe, as he mentions in this YouTube video, revival is coming. In some parts of the world, revival is happening as I write. Simmons mentioned Nepal explicitly. My oldest daughter is from Nepal. I adopted her at the age of three and spent two weeks going through the adoption process in-country. I can say while I was in Kathmandu, I felt the extreme darkness of a country worshipping the false gods of Hinduism. I have only felt that kind of oppression twice in my life, and one of those times was while I was in Nepal.

That was over twenty years ago. I went back to Nepal recently and took over three hundred Christian books from John 3:16 Network Authors to help build a church library. 

My younger daughter, Joy, went with me, and we had several opportunities to share our faith and minister to orphans. As Simmons said in this video, the church has exploded in Nepal, and as a result, the government has cracked down on sharing the Gospel.

In this instance, I think what Simmons shared is visionary for what will happen and is happening all over the world. We must seize the moment and occupy wherever we are, sharing our faith boldly—in the workplace, among friends, and sending missionaries to the far reaches of the planet. Whatever God has called you to do, do it well. Don’t wait. Jesus could return at any moment. There is absolutely nothing that must happen first.

2 Thessalonians 2:3 states: “Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition…”

The falling away is coming, and the man of sin will be revealed during that falling away. Today is the time of grace, the church age. The time is ripe for a revival. What are you doing to speed the Lord’s return? If you aren’t doing something, get busy. The lives of millions are at stake. We must reach the unsaved—use your gifts that God has given you lest God comes along and gives them to someone else because you squandered your opportunity to serve Him.

Be busy about the Lord’s work. I urge everyone reading this blog post, please, please, be a Berean. Don’t take my word for it. Don’t take anyone’s word for it. Think about God’s Word. Meditate on it. Deception will be rampant in the last days, and the only way not to be deceived is to know the Scriptures. Be diligent and mindful. Pray. Don’t be lazy! In due time, we will see God face to face. Let us look forward to that day and hasten His return.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Taste and See, Volume I - Has been Removed from Amazon to Preserve Integrity of Book's Rating for Readers Across the Web

Taste and See - Volume I, is a compilation of books and other reading materials from over thirty authors in the John 3:16 Marketing Network. Published several years ago, hundreds of ebooks have been downloaded from Amazon for free. Since 2011, sixteen ratings had been posted although only nine reviews appeared on the Amazon book page. 

Of all the reviews posted, they were five-star reviews except for one. I will post a jpeg here of that one 1-star review so the reader here can see what the reviewer wrote.

Until about a month ago, the overall rating for Taste and See, Volume I, was listed as 4.7 or 4.8, I can't remember exactly, but if you add up all the reviews and do simple math, the overall rating by Amazon comported with what statistically would be expected.

However, a month ago, Amazon lowered the overall rating to 3.5. No recent reviews had been posted that would have altered the overall review rating in either direction. I couldn't understand how a book could be rated 3.5 with eight 5-star reviews and one 1-star review, so I contacted Amazon to find out why. They never responded.

When I went back and read the 1-star review, I noticed the person who rated it never read the book. Here is the review the reviewer posted.

Because Amazon was unwilling to restore the appropriate rating for Taste and See, Volume I, as it had been rated for the last several years, and since the reviewer rated the book as one-star although she never read the book, I contacted Amazon to remove the 1-star rating.

Here is Amazon's response:

I've read the review titled "Felt put upon" for the book titled "Volume 1, Taste and See, A Sampling of First Chapters by John 316 Marketing Network Authors." I understand your concerns, but the review doesn't violate our posted guidelines, so I'm unable to remove it in its current format.

We try to encourage our customers to give their honest opinions on our products while staying within our guidelines. As a retailer, we are interested in cultivating a diversity of opinion on our products. Part of that is allowing our customers to air their honest thoughts on items they have received. Here's a link to our guidelines for reference: 

My reply:  So a person can post a review on a book they have not read? If that’s the case, then I will just encourage people to post a five-star review to get the ratings back up to where they should be. The only reason I care is because your algorithm is rating this book as a 3.5 and there are eight [5] stars that should be pulling it up to a 4.75. 

That means someone who has not even read the book is able to reduce the overall rating of the book from 4.75 to 3.5. It seems to me like Amazon’s algorithms are censoring what books they want to do well and what books they don’t want to do well. This is against a higher law of ethics, and I will be looking into what I can do about this, including contacting the Federal Trade  Commission.


Their final reply back was the following:

We’ve investigated the review "Felt put upon" for the book titled "Volume 1, Taste and See, A Sampling of First Chapters by John 316 Marketing Network Authors." and looked into your previous correspondence of "February 18, 2020" with my colleague. We’ve determined that this review is within our Community Guidelines (available here http://www.amazon.com/review-guidelines) and will not consider the removal any further.


Here is a sampling of the eight 5-star reviews that Amazon seemed to disregard in their overall rating of Taste and See, Volume I.

We appreciate your understa

nding. We hope to see you again soon.

As shown from this selection of random five-star reviews, what Amazon has done is unethical. They have allowed one 1-star review to be posted by a reader about a book she had not read and then allowed that one review to lower the overall rating of the book to 3.5. Against eight 5-star reviews, statistically, that is impossible. There are no other reviews on this book. They are all five stars with one 1-star.

Because all the first chapters from thirty books highlighted in Taste and See Volume I, as well as other materials, including poems, devotionals, et cetera, are written by Christian authors, I truly believe Amazon is now censoring Christian authors/books. 

Once the overall rating was artificially lowered to 3.5, not a single book was downloaded. Would you want to download a 3.5-rated book when there are so many books rated four stars and above?  

I will be posting at least one more blog post on my experiences this last year with Amazon and all the reviews they have removed from various books of mine. And that's not all they have done to me.

I have a couple of marketing experiments going on as I write this to test my hypothesis and pull together a compelling case to present to the Federal Trade Commission - if Amazon blocks my marketing efforts as I anticipate they will.

Feel free to leave a comment if you have anything to add to my thoughts.

Taste and See, Volume I, continues to be available across the web on multiple websites, including Apple, Barnes & Noble, Pay Hip, and more.  You can visit http://bit.ly/LRTASTEANDSEE to see a partial listing of websites. I will continue to add more as time permits.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Ransom Smith – A Short Story by Lorilyn Roberts

The successful businessman man reveled in the applause. He had worked hard for this prestigious award. Everyone admired him—his strong work ethic, his determination, and the fact he had saved the failing tech giant from a humiliating fall. The major news outlets had featured his accomplishments, and Time magazine named him a finalist in the “businessman of the year” award. That was the award that had eluded him for too long.

A pang of jealousy ripped through his heart. Mr. Ransom Smith knew personally the last two winners, and he was much more of a business genius than they were. He spit on the sidewalk of the busy New York City street as he pushed his way through the crowds remembering the night before. This was his year for glory.

Why couldn't his wife appreciate how wonderful he was? But when he arrived home after a ten-hour day, the tired, haggard woman wasn't interested in his exploits. Even the cat ignored him. Only the dog appreciated the sacrifices he had made, wagging his tail and extending affectionate licks and kisses.

Mr. Smith approached a busy intersection that he frequented several times during the week. One business establishment always caught his attention—The Utopia Connection. Business people frequented this hole in the wall, and today wasn’t any different.

Two men entered as they were greeted by a stunning young woman with long blonde hair that draped over her shoulders in curly ringlets. Mr. Smith glanced at his iPhone. He had a few minutes to linger. Unexpectedly, as the stunning blonde was shutting the door behind her customers, her eyes caught his. For a fleeting moment, Ransom, stunned by the chance encounter, fixated on her face.

The young woman smiled. Her enticing eyes called out to him, speaking to his soul, “Ransom, stolen water is sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant…come and celebrate with me....”

The woman disappeared inside, and Mr. Smith shook his head, mumbling under his breath, That was odd. It was as if she knew me. Maybe the young lady did know me. Maybe she had seen the news coverage. Maybe I should introduce myself.”

The man stood and watched a couple more businessmen enter. He imagined it must be a restaurant and drew nearer out of curiosity. How had he not noticed the extravagant entrance before—the mosaic lined floor and the golden flower pots. Still, the strange photographs caught Ransom’s attention the most.

Snapshots lined the walls with an assortment of captions, “Bill was here,” “John’s favorite hangout,” “Sam’s place,” and dozens more. Ransom did not know any of the men. Strangely, Ransom noted all the visitors were dead. Beneath their photographs were the dates of their untimely demises.

The scent of burning candles and air misters permeated the softly lit marquee. Etched glass lined the other wall. Mr. Smith tried to see through the exquisite fa├žade, but to no avail. He waited for someone to exit, to ask what was inside this beautiful, captivating establishment. After all, Ransom didn't want to enter into a place that might be unseemly. He was too prideful to fall for that temptation. But despite his waiting longer than he meant to, no one exited.

It must be an extraordinary place, Mr. Smith reasoned, because so many enter and no one leaves. A few more minutes passed as Mr. Smith’s curiosity clashed with his better judgment. He glanced at his watch. If he didn't go now, he would be late for his next meeting. But he longed to admire that beautiful face once more. He wanted to see those eyes, those eyes that latched onto his.

She no doubt knew him from the news reports, and if by some unlikely chance she didn’t, he could impress her with his accomplishments. Surely she would be impressed. I wonder if she is married.…

Abruptly the door opened, and Mr. Smith was surprised to see only the beautiful young women reappear. Where were the men? But he quickly dismissed the question as he peered into those eyes—deep and mysterious.

She held out her hand to him, and once more, Ransom heard the same words spoken in his mind earlier:

Click to Tweet: “Stolen water is sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.”

“Yes,” the man replied, “I’d love to share your stolen water and secret bread. And I’ll pay.”

He followed the young women through the door and disappeared inside. The door shut behind him.

Mr. Ransom did not know the dead were there, and her former guests were in the depths of hell.

Proverbs 9:13-18

A foolish woman is clamorous;
She is simple, and knows nothing.
For she sits at the door of her house,
On a seat by the highest places of the city,
To call to those who pass by,
Who go straight on their way.
“Whoever is simple, let him turn in here”;
And as for him who lacks understanding, she says to him,
“Stolen water is sweet,
And bread eaten in secret is pleasant.”
But he does not know that the dead are there,
That her guests are in the depths of hell.