Widows to Wizards PART 1




This is part 1 of a 2-part series. Part 1 covers housing growth and its effect on widows, senior citizens, and everyone in general.

Shortly after semi-retiring 6 years ago we did what many in the close-to-senior -years do when the kids have moved on, we downsized.  Learning from the deaths of all four of our parents in a too short span of time we planned ahead for the reality of the aging life. We sold the larger house and bought one of the few ranch homes in the town of Waxhaw, NC we have fallen in love with.  That meant our neighborhood was aged as well.  While we were nowhere near ready for the proverbial time ‘to be put out to pasture’ we found some of our new neighbors were in that stage.  I had to adjust from being one of those insensitive yahoo’s who years ago honked at old people for driving too slowly and soften my heart for a new world of living together with widows and widower’s.

My next-door neighbors consisted of a widower with dementia to the right, a senior couple in their 80’s behind us, a 50-something male with a brain injury needing assistance across the street, and an 80-year-old but, extremely vibrant widow to the left.  The demographics of parts of the rest of the neighborhood was similar.  Three of the five have died since we moved in 5 years ago.

Down the road I have gotten to know a kind and giving widow.  We had a long discussion one day. She told me how they were the very first homeowners on our block over 50 years ago.  Her husband, passed away a decade ago.  They had built their home and drove on ‘a dusty dirt road’ several years before it ‘got a real road,’ she joked.  She said “our house sat here alone for a while until the next one got built on the corner.”  It was the moment I discovered our home was #2 on the block.  (our purchase btw, was a nightmare – if you want another long story you can read about our house ordeal in this past story from five years ago

She also told me her husband was on the Waxhaw Board of Commissioners (Boc) for many years a long time ago.  I said, that’s interesting what was his philosophy?  She said “well way back then we were always worried about high taxes and too much growth.”  We laughed, sort of. 

She said he has ‘I am sure, bless his wonderful heart, rolled over in his grave multiple times with what is happening here.  The traffic scares me to death.  I am just happy at least we are protected from the noise and the deer still come and feed off my pear trees.’   I said oh my, I have been drooling over your pear tree, it’s about the time to pick them, isn’t it?  She said, ‘oh Joe, I have three more trees in the backyard, I just leave most of them to feed the deer, the poor things are probably starving.’  I jumped at the chance to ask if I could steal, lol, some of her pears. She said, ‘honey just help yourself any time, just leave some for the deer.’   I seized the chance to pick one and bite into a nice juicy bartlett.

Then it got serious.  I said are you aware of what is coming here in our backyard?  She said, well it should be nothing we have the school and museum that can’t be touched, the electric towers over to the right, and the Yarbrough’s will never sell their beautiful property.  I said, well I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but we have a Boc of developer lovers.  She said ‘oh no, we need to get rid of them then. What have they done now?   Didn’t we all for vote for these people because they said we won’t raise taxes and want this growth put under control?”

Well first, I don’t know about you but I did vote for all of them. They seemed like people who genuinely had a concern for the town and us. I don’t know what happened to them, but they have proven to be the opposite.  Sorry.

Now unfortunately the museum was hurting for money so they have sold most of the land.  89 houses and a strip mall are going in over there behind the school, it’s called Seven Hills. Why they decided to put crammed-in housing and retail there is beyond me.   She gasped.  I said, we’re calling it Seven Hells as I can’t imagine what they’re going to dig up on the sacred ground of the Waxhaw Indians.  We’ll be needing to pray those spirits don’t take out their anger out on the town.

I told her also how the Boc recently rubber stamped an annexation and zone change to the highest density possible behind us.  The only legacy being left behind over by the Yarbrough’s 240 acres will be their name on a despised development.  I said on top of that, the plot by the electric towers is going to have 125 houses crammed into and a road to handle all of its traffic and Yarbrough’s will dump out onto our road.  She cried, ‘we can’t even get out of here now and the traffic clogs up at the only way to town, why would they do that?  It is already impossible to drive in the town and I cannot get out of our neighborhood sometimes. I was late for my doctor’s appointment last week.  They are adding more houses, which means more cars, oh Joe, this is so scary.”

I said, they think they are smart as wizards.  Somehow, they want us to believe that adding a 2-lane road that connects to a brand new 2-lane road with 1000-5000 houses, and goes to another 2-lane road, to a future ‘roundabout’, whose destiny is thru a 20-mile per hour downtown road, and then over railroad tracks to another 2-lane road – will actually reduce traffic congestion. They call it a BYPASS! Only a magician could make that happen, right. Nope it is impossible all it will do is create LONGER traffic backups.

She said ‘don’t tell me anymore, I need to tell all the ladies at church to vote because this can’t continue, who do we vote for?’  I said I’ll have signs in my yard as soon as we get closer to the election.  They are for all the things you said your husband and you stood for decades ago, but now it’s a much larger problem than any of us could imagine.

I said, they have formed a trio they coined as The Wall to create a wall of protection for us residents from those out to build without constraint or concern for people like you. Kind of like Nehemiah did in the Bible days when he rebuilt the wall for Israel.  What I like about them, aside from the fact no one else was willing to run, is they are not running for some type of notoriety but because they moved away from elsewhere to get out of this type of madness.  They care about the people and their own children’s lives enough to sacrifice theirs to stand up and speak up for ones like you and me.  Unlike those seeking to be re-elected who seem to want to see their names on bricks for a new $22million building more than saving your social security check.

Seeing that our conversation was causing her despair I halted with providing further information. A few weeks later I happened to be working in my yard and saw my friend the widow sitting at the stop sign in her 20-year-old SUV trying to make a turn out of our neighborhood.  I could see she had a death grip on the steering wheel trying to turn left.  The brake lights turned off for a second as she almost had a chance to get out.  I got my brave hat on and walked over to where she was at, she gave a sheepish wave of despair.

Something overcame me so I walked out onto the road and faced in the direction of the traffic from the left and put up my hand to stop a row of cars that was about 100 feet away. They stopped with a puzzled look on their faces. I then waited for a break in flow on the other side of the road and stood there for a moment until the next surge of cars came by.  The car coming up stopped, but I could see an angry face looking at me like what are you doing idiot, get out of the road. Nevertheless, I stood my ground.  The other lane was still stopped.

I then waved to my widow friend and pointed for her to come on out and make her left turn.  She slowly pulled out and then smiled and waved happily as she finally could make that turn.  It was one of those moments in life where I felt, well I guess I can do something to help widows beyond having I understand what you are going through conversations, sort of. 

That is when I realized I was going to have to do a lot more than just putting up an election sign in my yard to do something about this insanity.   A strange motivation to stand up for the widows became a new calling for me. I thought this is even stranger than being involved at a Help Pregnancy Center or writing about the death penalty.  But I learned a long time ago when God gives out assignments, or at least you know you have to do something if you can’t put God in the equation, you have to do it.

Now I tell more of what I did not tell her.

I found that the development behind her house is just the tip of the iceberg.  I vaguely remember this Boc a couple of years ago rezoned farm land on the other side of our road. It also has no place for cars to go either. It will have 488 homes crammed in four per acre.  That particular housing development is right by a long-time friend of ours who guess what, is a widow. She and her family had vehemently fought this same Boc over rezoning.  Her daughter told me they even paid for signs that they placed around the town that said ‘Say NO to ReZONE.’ Hilariously one of the Boc members on a Facebook post stated the people in that area were happy with the decision.  She gave her an earful in reply to the twist of a story, which is pretty common for this mouthpiece of the board.

And worse yet, even though they have a long-term goal that they know won’t come to fruition for another 20-30 years for a supposed ‘bypass’ there is another even larger development on 1300 acres coming that all are supposed to connect together.   It could be as many as 3,000 – 4,000 additional homes and apartments.

What they try to tell people is we had to do this because the developer will build the bypass for us.  Everyone would be so happy with a “bypass” but that is not what we’re getting. Instead of an uninterrupted highway; what the developer will do is put a feeder road in that connects their three big developments together and has legs off of it going to the roads of the new neighborhood and other retail stores/food. It is apparently a compromise made to allow them to do whatever they want, as they or other Boc’s in the world approve their request, to give out the magic juice called ‘REZONING’.

An amazing website presentation was released in the fall, eight months after the rezoning of the 1st two legs of a future monster project. Here is a quote from the presentation ‘The construction of this section of the Parkway will provide long promised connectivity between Old Providence Road and Waxhaw Highway.’  And ‘The developer constructed road will provide a BYPASS around downtown Waxhaw.

Here is the link to an animated website and what seems like an awesome new thing they say we’ll all love that has zero impact on anyone. NOT!   

What they don’t bother to tell anyone is there is no place to take any of the traffic now, let alone 1000’s of additional cars once this and other monstrosities are built. As you can see Old Providence Road currently has no outlet today. It goes to a horrible intersection that is almost impossible to make a left turn from now.  It is the dumping ground the wizards ignore.  Right where all the widows and seniors have lived their whole lives on this being ‘the south side of the tracks’.

The original before all the red marks is a current Google Earth snapshot of the area.  All of the areas where the red notations are made are 100% pristine wooded areas with streams and abundant wildlife.  Everything with the red notations are properties that have been rezoned to the highest possible building options.


Waxhaw is, or should I say was a quaint town with a great landmark railroad bridge in the center of town.  Here’s a short train video on the JoesPortico YouTube page.    Where the bridge is located is one of only 3 crossings into town, it being the only one with a red light. On the north side of the tracks is where a majority of the 22,000 residents live and the main road to Charlotte.  There is only one other.  We are totally land-locked by the tracks with only one way to metro Charlotte’s 2.8million people. There is no way to expand the roads in downtown on either side of the tracks. 

Our wizards of planning think some kind of bypass will help, which it would if we can get the state to really build a bypass end to end for probably $200million or more. Best case we’ve been told for a quasi-bypass is 20-30 years from now.  We have been waiting 20 years just to widen the one major road that 99% of the town knows needed to be done long ago.  Who knows when such an expensive project will start?

I had not gotten in to following local politics because it seemed like things would easily be kept in check because so many people have been extremely vocal on social media always.   However, it is amazing the trickery that goes on behind our backs and how in public meetings the people are completely ignored when a gavel is put in the hands of power-hungry people.

As an example of what we see is happening everywhere in the U.S. in the world of politics check out the videos from our local board meetings. You will see how residents take a back seat at meetings they actually implore us to attend.  This one on December 13, 2022  got my attention and everyone in our area because none of us had a clue a large property behind us was up for annexation.  Subsequently a major rezoning took place shortly after this one.

The first part that was aggravating is a handful of notices were mailed to only the homeowners whose homes directly touch the development.   I’m guessing 10/250 homes.  A pathetic and deceptive way to communicate something that affects 100’s of property owners directly. Despite the short notice one of my neighbors quickly copied the letter and put it in our mailboxes.  We filled the room to standing room only. The board was shocked that we all showed up. I wish I had been informed more of what was going on as I certainly would have made a 3-minute comment on behalf of my widow friends, none of whom could have sat thru a 2-hour meeting. The 3 mins is all you get at small portions of public sessions in meetings.  3 minutes to say something for the board members to ignore.

For my national readers this is a good example to learn what goes on in little town meetings.  Most of you have probably been thru this (we have, it is the 9th house we have lived in) developer growth stuff. If you haven’t learned from this, be prepared to fight if you dare to stand up for yourself and your neighbors. Hopefully you have help, as it is hard to deal with the smoke and mirrors of deceptive politicians and deals made well before the first bull-dozer shows up.

At these two meetings none of the 6 people on the Boc acknowledged, asked questions of, nor commented on a single comment made by the residents.  But, on our behalf, one person did make a comment compassionately (sarcasm) calling us ‘the public’, and he added ‘the public is right’.  We seldom ever hear that statement.

It came from the Boc’s legal advisor. In the December 9, 2022 video at the 56-minute mark of a zoning request meeting he was questioned strictly from the ‘how things work perspective’, ‘so the people will know’ by a pawn of the mayor.  She asked the presenter, who seemingly was promoting the developer request, more than an unbiased facts presentation. 

The lawyer snatched the question and pointed out that the zoning request was not conditional.  He stated that “I’m just saying that, that is the fact, that they, once it (being Yarbrough Village entities) is zoned, they can put in, as long as the ordinance is complied with, they can put in whatever they want to.  The only governing document is the ordinance but, if you have conditional zoning it is also the agreement with the developer on what goes in what it looks like.”  I cut the words from the transcript word for word, so someone doesn’t say that’s not what he said. 

It was a very significant statement.  A weak warning in and of itself, but nevertheless a warning of, what you do in a zoning vote will have a lasting effect. If voting on the highest level they will in essence be able to do ‘whatever they want to.’  Everyone should have in their minds, zoning changes are always raised – up, seldom if ever lowered – down. It is what sets the stage of a town for its entire future.

30 days later on January 10, 2023 our Waxhaw Boc voted UP!  If you watch the video it starts at 1:00, Annexed at 1:03, Zoning presented until 1:07, discussed procedures 10 minutes and then voted to make a permanent Rezone UP at 1:17.

In this video the ‘public’ spoke again reiterating what was said a month earlier, too politely.  No one from the Boc acknowledged any speaker from the month before or at this one. The Boc first annexed the property from Union County.   Shortly after the vote in less than 10 minutes the Boc voted 5-0 to rezone my widow friend’s property now called Yarbrough Village.   Farm land with a county zone for farm/1 acre per home was immediately changed to Waxhaw Commercial/R3/R4 of 239 acres.  R3 = 3-4 houses per acre, R4 = 4-6 house per acre and in some cases town homes.  ‘Commercial’ allows retail and or business the opening up of the options for apartments as well. The worst possible zoning class as far as a neighbor living out in the country would want to see.

Our board in this state actually has 60 days to make such an important decision.  But, ours chose to ignore the people that live here and rubber stamped it.  They ignored legal counsel which I repeat said – ‘they can put in whatever they want to.’   They could have mulled it over for 60 days for more people to find out about it and provide possible insight as to why or why it is not a good idea without conditions.  Perhaps they could have gotten more counsel on the ramifications of making yet another zoning change.  But, in a moments time, 239 acres of pristine woods and streams was approved to be turned into an R3/R4 zone.  10 minutes to destroy one of the last all treed sections in Waxhaw!!!

I began uncovering a few things and created the land map shown earlier of what exactly they had done and its ramifications.   Note first the other side of the tracks has already seen the population grow from 9500 to 22,000 and other development and apartment complexes are in progress, or like ours have been rezoned. It sets the pace for massive increases to this area.

As an example of what all the growth in this area is like; before I retired six years ago it took me 25 minutes to get to the CLT airport.  Three weeks ago, I took a flight for the first time since retiring.  We departed at 7:00 a.m.  It took 30 minutes just to get from one side of town to the other. 80 total minutes to get to the outer belt and another 20 to reach the airport.  From 25 minutes total to an hour and 40 minutes. There was no rain, no accidents, or any other additional delays.

Had I started a little later the trip would have been an extra 15 minutes as the traffic on my main road backs up half a mile. That is now, in this day and time, long before the newly zoned neighborhoods will break ground.

I can only imagine what it will be like as other surrounding towns continue to build and we have this summary of homes coming all to dump onto one single road that passes by an elementary school before reaching a terribly designed intersection.

            The Preserve at Forest Creek  – 488 homes

            Rogers Pond                            – 125 homes

            Seven Hill                                 – 89 homes

            Yarbrough Village                   – 600-900 homes/units            

            The tbd Polo Grounds            – 3,000 – 5,000 homes/units

So, you wonder how or why a board would approve something that is impossible for the infrastructure to handle.  I call it – by listening to wizards.  The ‘Engineering firm’ that was hired by the developers advertises on their website that they do ‘full-service rezoning assistance’. See it for yourself on this screen print from their website.  They create cute videos and websites to convince Boc’s and gullible people that a place needs to be rezoned so they can fulfill the needs of everyone.  Business owners of course love it, even churches love it, more people! Is it deceptive? You decide.

In our case guess which Engineering firm represents Rogers, Yarbrough, and – The Polo Grounds and others on the other side of the tracks including another 400 unit apartment complex right by another part of ‘the bypass.’   You’ll see the same guy in the Yarbrough presentation on December 13th heading up what turned out to be a public fiasco on the Polo Grounds.  

This gentleman who is an expert on meeting coordination helps with ‘Public Hearings’ put up required by law signs telling of the meeting. Yet the expert booked a room that holds 125 people and doesn’t bring a microphone.  200 people stood outside in the 100-degree weather trying to get in.  He lied directly to a woman who said to him, I know you, you’re the guy who ruined the town of Pineville. He pointed at her (I was standing next to her so I know) and said you have me mistaken with someone else.    

Right!  Try to convince yourself he was telling the truth throughout the meeting.  Try to convince yourself the meeting wasn’t set up without a microphone to incent the people to look like a bunch of angry fools, while this nice innocent man is just doing his job.  On his linked in page, we find Mr. Stone is not only not just a nice guy doing his job, but has been President of the company for 12 years.  He indeed was involved with Pineville also stated on his profile.  He was also a politician who is an expert at communicating to people touting his combined skills to do ‘campaign-style marketing.’  A wizard extraordinaire

I do see he and his company are qualified, certified engineers.  Tell me, they cannot look at the current layout of a single two-lane road called Old Providence Road and 75 another single two-lane road that both feed into a quasi-roundabout, that can barely handle the traffic now, will be able to handle 1000’s of additional cars?  Noting, they do have money coming (some from funds that will come from other development ‘deals’ like The Preserve) to pay for a real roundabout in 2025.  Roundabouts are great, but when the outlet of the roundabout from two locations takes you to a 20 mile an hour road (1/4 mile away) with one redlight crossing over a railroad track is the destination, there is no place for the cars to go.  It doesn’t take an Engineer to figure that out, or does it?.

Perhaps a wizard can do magic and teleport the cars, but Elon Musk has not invented that yet.


While the intent of my latest mini-story is not to disparage a person’s business, it is to bring to light that great efforts are made to sell people on the beauties of growth.  Certainly, people have the right to sell their property and improve upon it, this is America.  But, why does expansion leave out considerations for destroying every tree?  Why are minorities, senior citizens, people who own homes from long ago, and even widow’s expendable?  

In decades past we defined gentrification as the process of renewal and rebuilding accompanying the influx of middle class or affluent people into deteriorating areas that often displaces earlier usually poorer often minority residents.   In today’s supposed smart-city designs we not only displace poorer residents but also senior citizens like my widow friends and literally anyone in the way.  It is not even a particular class that gains a benefit in the takeover of neighborhoods and green space, but by sources who will gain massive profits from growth that will they themselves live nowhere near the urban sprawl they invest in.  In fact, after making the money they take it and run as far away as possible and do it again somewhere else.

Whether it is some type of cohesive closely tied group of individuals pulling off a grand scheme is immaterial.  Ties together of political leaders, developers, businesses from top to bottom is not the point either.  The point is to recognize that if you have even one pair of wizards partnering together, the naïve pawns on the chess-board (Boc) who make important decisions can destroy a town in a short period of time. Vote them out of office and watch how fast the wizards leave town and go elsewhere.  The good people are left in the dust wondering what happened.

Meanwhile, the seniors the poor, and the widows are left to suffer with the consequences.  Their homes become a prison surrounded by concrete and pollution-spewing cars driven by people who don’t even know they existed before moving in, let alone that they were the foundation of the town..

I write on a national level to warn others these types of changes are coming to you, or only going to get worse if it already has.  On a local level I present a this-is-what-happened so far in our town of Waxhaw.  I warn, we have one chance to slow it down slightly, perhaps even undo some approvals that look to be more than what the eye sees. I write to please consider the aging population, the minorities that sadly are used to getting the short-end of the stick, and especially the widows who few notice whatsoever.  Get out and vote no to wizards. Let us open our hearts to widows and widowers.

If in Waxhaw, NC Vote for the team whose sign sits in my front yard.  But don’t stop reading this mini-book. I go into a deeper review on this Widows to Wizards topic, the title is not from mere politics.  

Please don’t go away yet! Read below the red line for more. If this is your first time visiting Average Joe’s Portico, every post is written in two parts. You have just read the portion challenging the mind, body, and soul.  In or on The Portico (as in Solomon’s Portico or porch) , I seek to tap into your spiritual side, but only IF YOU DARE.  If you are in a mood of  ‘don’t shove God down my throat’, this part is not for you, it is your out. Otherwise Keep reading past the Red Line Below and read Part 2  for the Spiritual side of the story.  (For an explanation of this creative writing attempt – read the ‘Do You Dare’ Tab)

_________________________________________________________________________________In our modern-day churches, most tout their amazing children’s and nursery care.   Larger ones have Youth groups, young adults, men’s and women’s programs, single Mom’s, leader’s groups and all else.  How many have a widow and widowers’ group?

In the book of Acts as wars and martyrdom was sadly taking place there actually was a big need to help out this forgotten set of amazing people.  We read in Acts 6:

But as the believers rapidly multiplied, there were rumblings of discontent. The Greek-speaking believers complained about the Hebrew-speaking believers, saying that their widows were being discriminated against in the daily distribution of food.

So the Twelve called a meeting of all the believers. They said, “We apostles should spend our time teaching the word of God, not running a food program. And so, brothers, select seven men who are well respected and are full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will give them this responsibility. Then we apostles can spend our time in prayer and teaching the word.”

Everyone liked this idea, and they chose the following: Stephen (a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit), Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas of Antioch (an earlier convert to the Jewish faith). These seven were presented to the apostles, who prayed for them as they laid their hands on them.” (NLT)

What strikes me in this scenario is the disciples picked out the cream of the crop to take on this task. The most mature men in their super-fast growing mega church.   Ask yourself honestly, if someone came up to you and asked you to take care of feeding the old people as your ministry, and your primary job in the church, how excited would you be?

Sometimes God gives us assignments that seem miniscule, yet they are extremely important in His eyes. Caring for other people, no matter who or what they are is important not only for the people we help, but for us.  It develops our character. It develops humility.  It develops our heart condition into one like Jesus had.  I need to reread what I just wrote myself over and over again.  When I write things publicly it is 99% from my personal journal.  I have taken on many tasks I didn’t like which I admit, at times I disliked doing it but endured through it anyway.  Only when I had gotten my heart fully in the right place did I learn what God wanted me to learn.

We all want the big jobs and the important things.  Many are not ready for the big jobs because it will go to our heads.  Too often people get put in position of big decisions and the power, and the financial rewards, and position/title goes to our heads.  We make bad decisions that leave out compassion and concern.  We take our hurts of the past and use the sudden gain in position and forget where we came from. It shows in how people treat other people once they get some new power position. Did you watch those videos on how the people pleading for their property were treated?  Do you read the vitriol that comes out of politician’s mouths nowadays?  It takes everything to not bite back with a vengeance.

One person who was given the power, lol, of helping out the widows grew even further in character. Or perhaps it was already there, but in serving the widows well, his skillset, wisdom, and mercy grew to make him a lesson in how God makes the humble into greatness.  I note one of the seven appointed – Philip.

In Acts 8 we hear of what Philip did aside from helping the widows: “But the believers who were scattered preached the Good News about Jesus wherever they went. Philip, for example, went to the city of Samaria and told the people there about the Messiah. Crowds listened intently to Philip because they were eager to hear his message and see the miraculous signs he did. Many evil spirits were cast out, screaming as they left their victims. And many who had been paralyzed or lame were healed. So there was great joy in that city.

The caption in my Bible says “Philip the Evangelist in Samaria”.  Aside from the Apostles and Paul, Philip became one of the greatest evangelists mentioned in the New Testament.  He went from the lowly job of being the coffee server, floor sweeper, chair stacker, or whatever other task in a church you might deem as lowly to become a great evangelist. I’ll bet Philip led a lot of widows to Christ along the way of feeding them. I’ll bet his love grew more each time the job of feeding one who he came close to him turned to leading a funeral procession.

He became so good at what his new role was that he attracted a magician, or let me call him a wizard.  A man who was very popular and powerful became a believer:

. 9-11  MSG Version Previous to Philip’s arrival, a man named Simon had practiced magic in the city, posing as a famous man and dazzling all the Samaritans with his wizardry. He had them all, from little children to old men, eating out of his hand. They all thought he had supernatural powers, and called him “the Great Wizard.” He had been around a long time and everyone was more or less in awe of him.”

12-13 “But when Philip came to town announcing the news of God’s kingdom and proclaiming the name of Jesus Christ, they forgot about Simon and were baptized, becoming believers right and left!   Even Simon himself believed and was baptized. From that moment he was like Philip’s shadow, so fascinated with all the God-signs and miracles that he wouldn’t leave Philip’s side.

But this wizard named Simon just couldn’t get past his life of previously fooling people with his smoke and mirrors presentations.  We find later that he had a terrible misunderstanding of how any power or responsibility one is given by God is supposed to be used.  Money and power effects some people in the worst ways.  I say some, as it is that not way with everyone, but is with some or maybe too many. The main leader Peter had to come along and shine the light on his attitude and hit him literally with the fear of God.

Acts 8:14”  When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that the people of Samaria had accepted God’s message, they sent Peter and John there. 15 As soon as they arrived, they prayed for these new believers to receive the Holy Spirit. 16 The Holy Spirit had not yet come upon any of them, for they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then Peter and John laid their hands upon these believers, and they received the Holy Spirit.

18 When Simon saw that the Spirit was given when the apostles laid their hands on people, he offered them money to buy this power. 19 Let me have this power, too,” he exclaimed, “so that when I lay my hands on people, they will receive the Holy Spirit!”

20 But Peter replied, “May your money be destroyed with you for thinking God’s gift can be bought! 21 You can have no part in this, for your heart is not right with God. 22 Repent of your wickedness and pray to the Lord. Perhaps he will forgive your evil thoughts, 23 for I can see that you are full of bitter jealousy and are held captive by sin.”

24 “Pray to the Lord for me,” Simon exclaimed, “that these terrible things you’ve said won’t happen to me!

This wizard already had a lot of power before. Now in salvation he inherited the right kind of power. The power to share the love of God, care for people, and help people in miraculous ways who need it. That may mean helping businesses flourish, helping governments to run well, and it means helping all the people – not just the ones who can give you more power or prestige in return (or if nefarious monetary rewards or financial secrets).   Philip gave the power he was given to other people, by bringing changed lives and even acting as a funnel of God’s love to bring healing to people.

But this Simon guy still had ‘bitterness and jealousy’ in his life.’  He had some issues to deal with.  His greed for money manifested itself in greed for power.  You generally cannot recognize that in a person until they are at risk to lose it.  Simon didn’t really want the salvation of God as much as he wanted the gifts that God gives. That inner root of bitter jealousy for power over people often is not revealed until they have something they never had before. Or if they lost it, and once getting it again, they will desperately do whatever they can to keep it for themselves and stomp on anyone that dares to take it away.   The crazy social media world we live in can sure reveal more than most of us want to see.

The Saga of Philip did not end there. He was on a roll and God continued to use him in a positive way.  Once God gains confidence in a person, He expands their roles.  I guess we could say if you are not going to do the seemingly easy but tedious things God asks you to do, then don’t expect anything that great to happen.  Don’t expect to hear messages from God if He has been sending them to you and you don’t follow through.  Like hey Joe, I put four widows surrounding where you live, it is not an accident, help them.  If you do, I have more for you to do.

Little did I expect it would mean standing up to a town council and write a short book (or a long blog that surely some people will complain it is way too long) explaining what the decisions they are making is doing to the senior citizens.

For Philip this happened:

Acts 8:26 “As for Philip, an angel of the Lord said to him, “Go south down the desert road that runs from Jerusalem to Gaza.

Now that’s something I have not had happen, an angel showing up and telling me to walk down a road.  Have you? If so we’d all love to hear the story.

Next, he ran into someone who needed help and Philip was the faithful man to do the job.

27 So he started out, and he met the treasurer of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under the Kandake, the queen of Ethiopia. The eunuch had gone to Jerusalem to worship, 28 and he was now returning. Seated in his carriage, he was reading aloud from the book of the prophet Isaiah.

29 The Holy Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and walk along beside the carriage.”

30 Philip ran over and heard the man reading from the prophet Isaiah. Philip asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?”

31 The man replied, “How can I, unless someone instructs me?” And he urged Philip to come up into the carriage and sit with him.

32 The passage of Scripture he had been reading was this:

“He was led like a sheep to the slaughter.
    And as a lamb is silent before the shearers,
    he did not open his mouth.
33 He was humiliated and received no justice.
    Who can speak of his descendants?
    For his life was taken from the earth.”[b]

34 The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, was the prophet talking about himself or someone else?” 35 So beginning with this same Scripture, Philip told him the Good News about Jesus”.

36 As they rode along, they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “Look! There’s some water! Why can’t I be baptized?” 38 He ordered the carriage to stop, and they went down into the water, and Philip baptized him.”

If you are not much of a Bible reader that probably seems like a so-what story.  But if you have aspirations to walk like a Billy Graham and bring truth to people, it is a fascinating story of God setting up a divine encounter with a person.   To me, that is an amazingly encouraging story.

If you are into fantasy books, games, and movies, this next part will strike you as cool.

39 When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away. The eunuch never saw him again but went on his way rejoicing. 40 Meanwhile, Philip found himself farther north at the town of Azotus. He preached the Good News there and in every town along the way until he came to Caesarea.”

Philip became so important that God was sending Him all around to help people. Since all they had for travel in those days were feet and animals, God teleported him from one place to another.  That’s right, just like Jesus escaped death several times by seemingly disappearing and re-appearing elsewhere, the same thing happened with Philip.

The moral of the story is when God asks you to do something, no matter how small; know that He can take you from something as simple as feeding widows to being greater than a wizard.

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