War Room: A Battle Plan

 

A storm is coming. Or you’re in a storm right now. We all know they’re a part of life. We don’t have to be told that. It’s no surprise to us. What it does is catch us off guard sometimes. We have to be ready. We have to be on guard and have a battle plan working and ready when it comes.

A boss that just wont get off our backs.

A spouse that doesn’t seem to be lined up with you at the moment.

A friend that isn’t really a friend.

A family member that seems like a stranger to you.

A competing co-worker.

Gossip.

Rage.

Hurt.

Betrayal.

A past.

A present.

Sin.

All these things and more can be a battle for us at any given time. We know this. We are warned about this in the Scriptures, so that isn’t the problem. The problem is in our battle plan.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against rulers, against the authorities and the powers of the unseen dark world, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:12)

We forget that our battle isn’t with people and get sucked into battling each other. We argue with each other, battle our spouses and divide our own households, families, and work places. In other words, we help the devil carry out his very schemes we want to battle!

You see, there is a battle always going on in the spiritual realm. That’s where the fight is. That’s the battlefield and that’s where we need to fight. The enemy is our accuser. It’s always happening and we need a battle plan.

God is strong and He wants you strong and prepared. You’re up against more than you can handle on your own so take everything God has given you, well-made weapons of the best materials – God’s Word and prayer – and put them to use so you will be able to standup to everything the devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the devil and all his angels.

God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray first, pray often and about everything. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up that that no one falls behind or drops out.

This is an excellent Battle Plan!

I was invited to a premiere event last week for the movie War Room by the Kendrick Brothers – creators of Courageous, Fireproof, and Facing the Giants. This movie is coming out tomorrow, Friday, August 28, 2015. Priscilla Shirer stars in it and Beth Moore has a role too. These ladies are two of my favorite Bible Teachers. This movie is so inspiring. If you are a Believer, go see it. If you are alive and breathing, go see it. You’ll see the power of prayer played out on the big screen. You’ll be moved to get active and speak out boldly and loudly against the enemy’s schemes in your life. You’ll come away with a battle plan. It’s what inspired me to write this message today. It inspired me to get back to my war room battle plan. I know it will inspire you to do the same.

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#WarRoom #KendrickBrothers #PriscilaShirer #BethMoore #Prayer #Bible

Where Am I Building My Life?

 

My Dad was very talented when it came to creating things. He created everything from beautiful, fine crafted wood workings that were gifts from our government to others and celebrated in city parades, to houses, and everything in between.

He is the Rock, His works are perfect, and all His ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is He. (Deuteronomy 32:4)

I was so blessed to grow up on building sites and in work shops where my Dad would share his wisdom with me as he worked. One thing my Dad taught me was that wise builders know that every house must have a foundation. A foundation is usually made of concrete or stone and steel, and its purpose is to hold the house up from underneath. Wise builders also know that the foundation must be built on very solid ground or rock. If the house is built on sand, the building will fall when the sand under the foundation washes away in a storm, or when it shifts during an earthquake.

For the same reason, our lives must have a strong foundation. Storms are a part of life. We all will face our share of difficulties and disappointments. Therefore wise people build the foundation of their lives on God, whom the Bible calls the Rock:

“For who is God besides the Lord? And who is the Rock except our God?” (2 Samuel 22:32)

[God] alone is my rock and my salvation. (Psalm 62:2)

God is like the solid rock, dependable and durable, on which wise people lay the foundations for their houses. You can always count on God and His Word–the Bible–because they always tell us what is true. Whether building houses or building their lives, wise people will follow a good plan, and there is no plan as good as the one found in God’s word:

24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” (Matthew 7:24-27)

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How To Make Faith A Natural Part of Everyday Life {Part three}

My final tip in my three part series on how to make faith a natural part of everyday life for your family. This is by no means all that you can do. These are just 3 easy tips for you to start with now. See previous posts for the other tips. 

3. Third, have fun! Nothing makes faith seem more out-of-place and awkward than when it feels forced, contrived, or boring. After over 25 years in ministry, we’ve learned that uncomfortable, scripted sermons or trite, cheeseball lessons are a drag for everyone. 

When you make faith interactive, interesting and imaginative, however, the truths from the Bible really stick. Kids who have fun with faith when they’re young experience rich relationships with Jesus as they get older.

So brainstorm creative ways to retell Bible stories, look for inspiration in the natural world around you, tap into your child’s interests, and have fun!

#Faith #Family #Children #EverydayFaith 

How To Make Faith A Natural Part Of Your Everyday Life {Part Two}

I’ve gotten a lot of questions lately on faith and family. Here is my second post in a three part series of a few tips on how to make faith a natural part of everyday life with your family. 

2. Second, readjust your expectations of what “making faith a natural part of your everyday” looks like. In other words, you don’t have to be perfect. Faith does not eliminate questions, but faith knows where to take them. 

Your kids don’t need the appearance of perfection. What they need is real authenticity, and a genuine desire to chase after God – especially from you. 

We all make parenting mistakes. You’re going to make several and so am I. But listen, you don’t drown by falling into the water. You drown by staying there. When you mess up, apologize and grow from it together as a family. If you stumble and fall, fall forward, get back up, and keep running the race God has set before you. Let them see you do this with a genuine love for God and a desire to run after Him. 

God didn’t mean for parenting to reflect perfection from us. He meant it to be a clear reflection of His love. Our job as parents is not to put on a perfect show. It’s to point them to the Perfect Savior. 

As always, feel free to share away. You never know who is on the other side of the screen waiting on a word of encouragement. 

#God #Faith #Family #Parenting #EverydayFaith

How To Make Faith A Natural Part of Everyday Life {Part One}

I’ve gotten a lot of questions lately on faith and family. I’m going to post a tip a day for the next three days on how to make faith a natural part of everyday life with your family.

Here’s the first one:

1. First, as parents we have to model faith. If you’re suddenly picturing someone who can quote the Bible from memory, who prays constantly, and sings in the hills wearing a nun’s habit (a la The Sound of Music), RELAX–faith isn’t always easy, but it can be simple.

You don’t necessarily need to come off like a pastor to your kids. You just need to show them the simple ways you’re practicing your faith. For example, let them see you pray. Let them see you read the Bible. Talk about Jesus. Talk to Jesus, out loud, around them. 

Even if your faith hasn’t been a natural part of your family life, start now. No matter how old your kids are. Just start.

As always, feel free to share away. Sharing is caring. You never know who is waiting for a word. 

#Faith #Family #EverdayFaith 

Daddy!

   

Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” (‭Galatians‬ ‭4‬:‭6‬ NIV)

Do you know what “Abba” means? It means “Daddy Father.” Have you ever thought about God as your Daddy? When Jesus taught us to pray “Our Father” in Matthew 6:9, the same word in Greek is the word “Pater” – “Abba Father.” 

American children say, “Da-da.” But in the Middle East they say, “Abba – Abba.” Jesus says that we can call the great God of the universe “Daddy.” 

When the call came that my son got caught up in a powerful rip tide and that he was being admitted into the Intensive Care Unit in Florida, my heart and soul cried out. No, it screamed out for Daddy so hard I could feel it throughout my whole body. I just wanted my Heavenly Daddy. I wanted His loving arms surrounding us because I knew being close to Him was the best place to be. It was the only place I wanted to be. 

I’m so glad that our Heavenly Father never gets too busy running this universe and commanding the angels that He forgets us. He wants to be with you like there is no one else on earth and nothing else for Him to do.

Do you wish you had a hug right now? You can crawl up into the lap of your Daddy Father, and He has nothing better to do than to give you a hug. 

#Father #Daddy 

Mother’s Day: What I Didn’t Know

   

The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new. ~ Rajneesh

I knew that motherhood would change me.

Or at least I knew that it would re-order my priorities.

What I didn’t know was that it would re-order my soul.

I didn’t know that in lending my body to my babies I would surrender my very being to a process unfathomably larger than myself.

I didn’t know that in so doing, I would find faith. And Faith.

I didn’t know that along with my babies’ births would come a vulnerability that would settle permanently in my heart.

That although the physical scars would heal, the karmic chasm would remain open and raw — letting in the extremes of the joy and pain of this life as a mother — unfiltered, unadulterated, unmitigated.

What I didn’t know was that loving my babies would be the greatest gift imaginable.

***

To those who mother slowly, thoughtfully, cautiously and to those who throw themselves headlong into the messy, sticky, torturous sweetness of it all without ever looking back,

To those who keep a strict schedule and to those who don’t keep a strict anything at all,

To those who home-school and to those who are relieved to see the yellow bus in the morning,

To those who sing in the choir and to those who pray quietly every night at their babies’ bedsides,

To those who bake for hours and to those who stop at the bakery on the way home from work,

To those who hold their children close and to those who can’t wait to meet the children who will become their own — knowing they are out there somewhere, waiting to come home,

To those who mother intuitively and to those who over-analyze each and every decision they make,

To those who have lived through the unfathomable pain of losing a child and to those whose hearts are with them,

To those who shout from the sidelines and to those who coach the team,

To those who pray that someday their child can BE on a team,

To those who have children with special needs and to those who teach their children respect and compassion for those who do,

To those whose children can say, “Thank you, Mom,” with words and to those whose children don’t yet have words and yet say just that — and so much more — every day,

To those who testify before congress and to those who work for months to summon the courage to talk to one neighbor about their child’s differences,

To those who change the world simply by showing their children the rewards of a life lived with empathy and love, respect and appreciation for their fellow human beings,

To those who know what it means to be reborn a mother,

To YOU,

A very, very Happy Mother’s Day.

I love this post from HuffPost 2012, Diary 2010, and wanted to share it with you, too. 

 
#MothersDay #Mothers #HappyMothersDay

Chosen

  

Chosen is such a powerful word. Especially when you think about it’s opposite: rejected.  Rejection is that thing we all fear, and we’ve all experienced at one time or another.  I bet just the mention of the word “rejection” hurls you into emotion-filled flashbacks, and a flood of memories wash over you reminding you of all the times you were not chosen. 

An audition gone wrong. 
A team you never made. 
A boyfriend who hurt your heart. 
A friend that betrayed you.
A spouse that cheated on you. 
A job you didn’t get.  

If we’re not careful, we can begin to allow these moments to define us.  We begin to call ourselves REJECTED. But God calls us by name, and He calls us CHOSEN.



“BUT YOU ARE A CHOSEN PEOPLE, A ROYAL PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, GOD’S SPECIAL POSSESSION, THAT YOU MAY DECLARE THE PRAISES OF HIM WHO CALLED YOU OUT OF DARKNESS INTO HIS WONDERFUL LIGHT.” 1 PETER 2:9


The enemy to our souls will try and try to tell you that you’re less than who God says you are. He will whisper false labels on you, and try to distract you from your real name: Chosen. Accepted. 

But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do His work and speak out for Him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference He made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted. 1 Peter 2:9 MSG. (emphasis mine)

Spend no more time there. Answer no longer to the name the enemy calls you by. 

Let me tell you a secret the enemy doesn’t want you to know: we all have a choice in this. We can choose whether we move forward from this point or whether we relive the past for the rest of our lives. 

I love the way Christine Caine said it- You could miss the rest of your life, which could be the best of your life by focusing on what was the worse of your life. 

Friend, allow me to speak some things over you. Your true identity. 

You are:

Accepted. 

Chosen

Loved. 

Wanted. 

Special. 

Included. 

Pursued. 

Loved. 

Important. 

Desired. 

Favored. 

Called. 

Preferred. 

Loved. 

Hand Picked. 

Noticed. 

Appointed. 

Selected. 

Loved. 

Remembered. 

You matter. 

You are HIS


Never again answer to any other name!

  

Why Is This Friday So Good? 

   

For so many reasons, I love having a little one in the house again. I love teaching her all about my Lord. Seeing Him come alive for her is beautiful. I love her sweet questions and her awe in Him. I love the way her eyes shine when she tells me things He is teaching her, and the way she runs to Him in prayer about anything is especially good for my heart. That’s my job….pointing her to Him. 


One question she asked is, Why is this Friday so good when it’s a day Jesus died? We love Him so much, why do we call it good that He died?

Friends, this is why we commemorate Jesus’ death on the cross by calling it Good Friday: 

Without His death, we don’t have the Resurrection. And without His Resurrection, we don’t have a Savior. Without our Savior, we don’t have salvation


Because Jesus died and rose again, we have victory, forgiveness, mercy, grace. We have a home in eternity with Him. 

If the Resurrection didn’t happen, then nothing about Jesus is true. Since the Resurrection did happen, everything about Jesus is true. Jesus Christ is our risen Savior, conceived of the Holy Spirit, born on this earth, died on the cross for our sins, rose again, and is alive. He’s alive!

It all —all of this. Here. Now. You. Us. Our purpose. Our reasons. Our why’s, how’s and when’s. Our eternity— hangs on the death and the resurrection of the Son of God. 

What appeared at first to be a tragedy was in fact a triumph, because by His death on the cross, Jesus purchased our salvation. We are separated from God because of our sin, and because we are sinners, we have no hope of eternal life. 

You see, God is pure and Holy, and even one sin —just one— would be enough to keep us out of Heaven. But Jesus, my dear, sweet Jesus. By His death on the cross He became the perfect and final Sacrifice for our sins. And because of that, Heaven’s door is now flung wide open to all who put their faith and trust in Him. 

That’s why we can call the day on which Jesus, the Love of my life, died “Good Friday”. In fact, it was the greatest Friday in the history of the human race because on that day, Jesus won our salvation. 

At one time, the Bible says we were “without hope and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12). But, now we have hope because Christ died for us. 

The nails didn’t hold Him to that cross, love did. 

Take a moment and relish in this one fact: death could not hold Him. 

They will mock Him, spit on Him, flog Him with a whip, and kill Him, but after three 
days He will rise again. Mark 10:34 NLT


It. Is. Finished.





 



#GoodFriday #Easter #Jesus #Salvation #Resurrection #ItIsFinished

What Is Palm Sunday? 


Image source: Guideposts

It’s Palm Sunday! 

So, what is Palm Sunday?

Palm Sunday is the day Christians remember and celebrate the triumphal entry of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem, the week before his death and resurrection. Today is also referred to as “Passion Sunday,” and marks the beginning of Holy Week, which concludes on Easter Sunday.

Today, we remember that Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem, riding on a donkey, knowing full well that this trip would end in His sacrificial death for the sin of all humanity – that’s you and me. 

In His path, people threw their cloaks on the ground and put palm branches on the road before him. Others waved palm branches in the air. Large Passover crowds surrounded Jesus, shouting “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” (Matthew 21:9, ESV). 

WE WIN!

We remember and celebrate His triumphal entry as His beautiful triumph over sin and death. The gift of mercy and grace gifted to us by our sweet, and oh so loving Savior. WE WIN! All because of Jesus. All because of Jesus, sin lost its hold and death lost its sting. 

Hosanna means “save now”. Jesus can save you right now by becoming your Savior and Lord. Won’t you ask Him now? Don’t worry, He’ll say yes. But, you have to first accept this gift. 

There are two parts in gift giving: the giving, and the accepting.

Jesus has already given His gift of Salvation by the giving of His life for yours, and now it’s your turn to accept His gift of Salvation. It’s free. No strings attached. No way to earn it. No way to lose it. 

Thank you Sweet, Sweet Jesus! 

Feel free to message me with any questions. 

(The Biblical account of Palm Sunday can be found in Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-11; Luke 19:28-44; and John 12:12-19)

  

Growing Into It

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So as David stood there among his brothers, Samuel took the flask of olive oil he had brought and anointed David with the oil. And the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David from that day on. Then Samuel returned to Ramah.” -1 Samuel 16:13

We were sitting down at a very nice restaurant and had just ordered when my young daughter grew impatient, asking when her food was going to arrive. She couldn’t understand why her food wasn’t coming immediately after ordering at this restaurant as it does at fast food drive-thru windows.

We live in a very microwave culture. If we want something, we want it right now! But, even though we can go through a drive-thru to get fast food immediately, this microwave mentality often doesn’t apply to our calling and life with God.

We tend to think of David in the Bible as the great shepherd king, the worshipper after God’s own heart. But I wonder when we think of him, if we truly consider all the processing David endured after he was anointed to be king? Yes he won the fight against Goliath; but after he was anointed, he went back to tending sheep! He spent many years running from Saul. It was only after he was tested and he did not kill his enemy Saul that God allowed David to be king. This was years after Samuel had anointed the little shepherd boy in the field before his brothers. Years.

Often we can be impatient with God’s processing. We may want God’s promises – all right now! But God has His reasons for timing that may not make sense to us in the moment. We may not be ready. We may not be able to handle what He wants to give us until He puts us in a place of character building. We have to learn to trust God when we have yet to see the manifestation of the dream that’s on our hearts. This is how God knows we can be trusted with it. This is how we grow to be able to have the capacity to carry God-sized dreams. We grow through experience. This is how character is built.

The journey there brings the growth we need to rightfully handle the “thing” we’re dreaming about now.

Are you letting God grow you through experience? Even if you feel the place you are at right now is not your ultimate destination, decide to treat it with respect. It will provide the training ground we’ll need to be able to withstand God’s promises in our lives and our ultimate calling. Bloom where you’re planted.

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For Lent, I’m Giving Up

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“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves: it is a gift of God.” –Ephesians 2:8

It’s a good time of the year for fresh starts and new beginnings. Something Louie Giglio once said reminds me how to do that, “For Lent, I’m giving up.”

At first glance, we think there’s something missing from his sentence. But, no, “period” is exactly what should come next.

Yesterday was Ash Wednesday. The beginning of the Lent Season. Let’s remember that it’s all about Jesus and what He did for us – not about what WE can do, give up, commit to, or accomplish. Nothing to prove.

Lent is a heart issue. When Jesus said, “It is finished,” it was and still is. Knowing the pressure is non-existent helps me prepare for the Easter season. The incredible thing is, knowing I don’t have to measure up actually makes me want to work harder in all areas of my life. He deserves the very best me, and I gladly give up. I give up all of me. Nothing hidden. Nothing to prove. Fully surrendered. Nothing held back. No part of my life held back from Him. Whatever He asks, my answer is YES.

Saving is all His idea, and all His work. All we do is trust Him enough to let Him do it. It’s a gift from God from start to finish! We don’t play the major role. If we did, we’d probably go around bragging that we’d done the whole thing! No, we neither make or save ourselves. God does both the making and the saving (Ephesians 2:8, The Message)

For some of us, part of our heart prep might be physical – as part of our obedience and humble stewardship. How will keeping your eyes outward and upward to Jesus make your commitments to healthier choices different, change the goals you set or how you prepare and execute them?

Prayer:

Lord, for Your glory and our growth, we don’t want an ordinary Lent season. I pray our hunger, thirst, assurance, and longing is intensified greatly! Saturate us with Your Gospel. It’s all about You, Jesus. It’s all about what You’ve done for us…..and continue to do in and through us…..not about what we’ll promise to do for You. Thank You! We look forward to Your return! In Jesus name. Amen.

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Forever, Valentine

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And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ. – Ephesians 3:17-18

A child asked Jesus how much He loved her. He answered, “This much,” and then He stretched out His arms and died on the cross.

You may have heard this before. It’s a good way to think about how much Jesus loves you. He loves you so much that He left heaven and came to earth for you. He loves you so much that He suffered and died for you. And the Bible says that nothing you can do will separate you from the love of Jesus.

In these verses from Ephesians, Paul describes Jesus’ love as being “wide and long and high and deep.” The idea is that it is infinite — you will never come to the end of it. God loved you before He created you. He loves you right this minute. And He will love you for eternity.

We cannot possibly understand how much Jesus loves us. We don’t have to. All we have to do is accept it.

Every time I think about how much God loves me, He says – NOPE! More than that, my love! We can’t ever grasp it. It just goes on and on and on. It covers our past. It covers our now. It covers the future. It’s always more than enough. His Love never leaves. Never grows old. Never gives up. Never lets go. Is never selfish. His Love is always, ALWAYS patient, kind, and sweet.

He’s a year-round Valentine that we celebrate all year and not just one day. He is in passionate pursuit of a deeper relationship with us all of our lives.

To fall in love with God is the greatest of all romances.

To seek Him, the greatest adventure.

To find Him, the greatest human achievement. Raphael Simon.

Jesus wants you to be His Valentine now and forever.

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A Person

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Brick by brick, the tower grew higher and higher. And so did their pride. They wanted to be famous, and safe. They wanted to be “the ones” to do this thing with their own hands. They were quite pleased with themselves. “The ones”.

“Look at this mega church I built”. “Look at this ministry I built”. “The bigger, the better because people will see me and how close I am to Jesus”.

Sound familiar?

Yeah….

You see, God wasn’t pleased with them. He could see what they were doing. They were trying to live life without Him. That doesn’t make us happy, or safe, or ANYTHING.

Living life like that only destroys us. God loves us too much to let that happen. So, He’ll interfere. He’ll stop things. Plans get halted. We get annoyed, but we need to just see that God is saving us from ourselves.

God knows.

God knows that however high we reach, however hard we try, we can never get back to Heaven by ourselves. We are not saved by our works (Ephesians 2:8-10)

We don’t need a staircase; we need a Rescuer. The way back to Heaven isn’t a staircase, it’s a Person.

We can never reach up to Heaven, so Heaven came down to us Jesus.

Jesus. Jesus. Jesus.

It’s all about Jesus.

Today’s thought: I cannot save myself, this situation, or this person. I need Jesus.

See: Genesis 11

Merry Christmas

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Merry Christmas!

Come, let us adore Him. Christ is the Lord!

Oh, what a deep, passionate love He has for you and me! He came to die! Did you get that? Really? He came so that He could die. For us. Tears streaming down my face, I thank You Jesus!!

And, truly, HE taught us to love one another. God is Love.

He not only stepped onto this planet, HE can step right into Your heart this Christmas. My heart is set on Home this Christmas. Wherever your heart is this season, bring it on Home to Daddy. Come as you are. Don’t wait.

Prayer:

Dear, sweet and wonderful Immanuel, God with us, give us that nearness all year long. Thank You for coming so that You could die for us, reconciling us and Daddy. We celebrate You today. Happy Birthday! And, because of You, those of us who have accepted You as Savior and Lord too celebrate our re-Birthdays. We’ve been reborn. Renewed. Redeemed. Bought and paid for by Your very life. Dear, Sweet, Jesus. May we celebrate You all year long. Happy Birthday and thank You. Thank. You. In Jesus name. Amen.

God With Us

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Behold, the virgin shall become pregnant and give birth to a Son and they shall call Him Emmanuel — which, when translated, means, God with us (Matthew 1:23)

It’s totally possible to have someone sitting right next to you everyday and never really know them. It’s shamefully easy to do.

It’s that way with God, too. God is with us. He’s right here, whether or not we acknowledge that or not. The difference is whether or not you’ll see Him , or miss Him altogether.

Draw near to God (James 4:8)

We have to take time to acknowledge God as Lord. We have to take time to talk to Him. When we draw near to Him, He draws near to us.

There’s no feeling like the feeling of snuggling up close to our earthly Daddy. It just fills you up and puts you in a delicious place in your heart to be that close. It’s the same way with our Heavenly Daddy. Snuggle up close and stay there.

Listen, God is here. He is. He’s closer than the air we breathe. He’s all around you.

Today is Christmas Eve. It’s the day before we celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus, Emmanuel, God with us. It’s the day before the party. My little girl told someone yesterday that she was so excited for Jesus’ party.

Take some time to snuggle up close, pray and set your heart on Him. Praise Him. Thank Him. He came for you.

Take a look around and you’ll see Him.

Prayer:
God, it’s so easy for us to get distracted this time of year and miss seeing You. Thank You for being so close. I see you. I hand over everything – the distractions of thinking this is all about me. I give you my heart this season to bring You glory in everything that I do and say – to praise You and thank You for who You are and for the way You love me so deeply, so passionately, so well. In Jesus name. Amen.

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Seeing God In The Everyday

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In this season of my life I am finding such deep, deep joy in the smallest of things along with the big ones. I don’t want to blink and miss one tiny kiss from my Heavenly Daddy. I don’t want to miss Him in the everyday.

The other day, I was rocking a sweet baby that was tired and wanted me to hold him. I began to sing to him about Jesus and he immediately relaxed and listened. He turned his sweet little face up toward me watching and listening as he smiled the sweetest little smile and started slowly blinking off to sleep. Seriously brought tears to my eyes as I looked at that sweet face and began praying for him, his life as a future Christ follower, his family and loved ones.

When I see Daddy moments (which is all the time) I like to say, “I see You, Daddy”

Merry CHRISTmas y’all.

Praise Immanuel, God IS with us! He’s EVERYWHERE, ALL the time. We just have to be watching and listening.

Worship and Work

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One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike” (Rom 14:5)

Avodah (Ah´-voe-dah) is a Hebrew noun used in the Bible that has two distinct yet intertwined meanings: worship and work. It is also derived from the Hebrew verb L’Avod which has two meanings; to work and also to worship. The dual meaning offers powerful wisdom for modern times for how we are to view our work lives.

Work, if done with integrity and unto God, is a form of worship in the biblical Hebrew context. There has never been a concept of segmenting our work from our faith life in the Bible.

It is in the realm of the sacred to bring God into our everyday life.

Hebrews did not set aside a “day of worship,” such as Saturday or Sunday, but everyday is a place and time of worship. They did set aside a Sabbath day of rest.

It is a western idea to segment one’s faith life from our work life

In the Middle East and Asia, their cultures would never separate their faith from their work life even though their faith foundations might clearly contradict Christian beliefs. When someone comes to faith in Christ from this area of the world, they have an easier time of assimilating their faith into their work because they have always done so.

God calls us to do our work as an act of worship to Him

Our work is not only to be a place of hard work, sweat and toil, but an expression of our love, faith and adoration of Jesus Christ.

Today, before you work, ask God to help you see your work in a new way–as worship to Him.

#MarketplaceMinistry

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Be a Trailblazer

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All of our actions begin in the imagination. We think it, and then act on those thoughts.

I was recently working on a project that I haven’t worked on in quite some time. I found myself amazed at the things culture has brought into play since my last time being involved. Quite a few times I found myself stepping back, shaking my head and wondering why no one else was seeing it for what it is: attacks from the enemy.

There’s a war on for our minds. Our thoughts. The enemy wants to convince us and change our minds about what we believe because he knows that once our minds are changed, our actions will follow.

God has equipped us with the tools to take our thoughts captive. If it doesn’t line up with scripture – can it. Throw it out with the rest of the junk this culture tries to feed us.

The world will try to tell you that you’re less than who Christ says you are. It wants to beat you down and make you change your mind so that you can then change someone else’s mind about what or Who you believe.

Casting down imaginations (carnal reasonings of the mind) and every high minded opinion raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:5)

The world is unprincipled. It’s dog-eat-dog out there! The world doesn’t fight fair. But we don’t live or fight our battles that way—never have and never will. The tools of our trade aren’t for marketing or manipulation, but they are for demolishing that entire massively corrupt culture.

We use our powerful God-tools for smashing warped philosophies, tearing down barriers erected against the truth of God, fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ. Our tools are ready at hand for clearing the ground of every obstruction and building lives of obedience into maturity. (2 Corinthians 10 MSG)

Our Master is Christ. He’s alive in us and speaks today as He always has to His followers. Our tool is the Bible. Hold every opinion against the Light of Scripture. Just because everyone else is doing it doesn’t mean we should be doing it.

In fact, observe the masses and go the other direction. Do the opposite. Don’t be afraid to be different. You just might be the spark that your world of influence needs to fan a flame.

Together as Christians we walk along this uncommon road with the hope that those we walk past while moving upstream may see something beyond an oddity and turn their lives to join us in our progression of faith towards eternal glory.

Don’t go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Go out there and do something remarkable. Guard your mind and be the change you want to see. Someone around you is waiting for you to find the courage.

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Here Today, Gone Tomorrow {Study of Esther Chapter 1}

Esther

 

Click on over and read: Esther Chapter 1

There was some major partying going on here. And a lot of pride and showing off of the goods by the King. Queen Vashti was throwing a separate shindig for the girls because, according to the Oriental fashion, the sexes do not intermingle in society, the court ladies were entertained in a separate apartment by the queen.

As the feast days advanced, the drinking was more freely indulged in, so that the close was usually marked by great excesses of revelry. The King sent for Queen Vashti. It’s a popular belief that he wanted her to appear wearing ONLY her crown.

The refusal of Vashti to obey an order which required her to make an indecent exposure of herself before a company of drunken revelers was unbecoming of both the modesty of her sex and her rank as queen; for, according to Persian customs, the queen, even more than the wives of other men, was secluded from the public gaze. Had not the king’s blood been heated with wine, or his reason overpowered by force of offended pride, he would have perceived that his own honor, as well as hers, was consulted by her dignified conduct. King Xerxes made a rash, half-drunk decision, based purely on feelings. His self-restraint and practical wisdom were weakened by too much wine. The issuance of that decree to the entire empire is ironic because it ensured that everyone in the empire would know about the King’s marital struggles, and not just the “noble women” (Vs. 18).

King Xerxes’ hurt pride turned to anger. Anger often blinds us from doing what is right and causes us to become vindictive. 

Poor decisions are made when people don’t think clearly. Our decisions and actions can cause irrevocable damage, too. We should base our decisions on careful thinking, not on the emotions of the moment. Impulsive decision-making can lead to severe complications.

Obviously, a law cannot possibly cause women to respect their husbands. Respect between a man and a woman is a matter of the heart – from mutual regard and appreciation of each other as people being made in God’s image, not from legal pronouncements and orders. Forced obedience is a poor substitute for the love and respect that wives and husbands should have for one another. For the same reason, instead of forcing us, God gives us free will to CHOOSE to love and follow Him. Beautiful.

We are all “Kings” and “Queens” of our homes too, and our little “empire” is watching us. As a wife, I need to be mindful of how I respond to my husband whether he’s right or wrong because our little “kingdom” is widely affected by my actions, too.

They look to us as an example. We do influence those around us – especially our family. I need to be prayerful and mindful of any pride rising up in me in how I treat my husband and in all of my relationships. Do I respect him? How do I respond to him? Will I contribute to the rise of my household, or to the fall of my household – here today, gone tomorrow? Because a house divided will not stand and pride crushes. Pride absolutely does come before a fall.

Prayer: God, I want to see You. I want to hear You. I want to know You and follow hard after You and the person You intended me to be when You created me. Before I even know all that entales, I say yes to You. Help me be the wife and influencer You have in Your heart for me to be. I want to be a woman after Your own heart. I want to be the person You would be if You were in my place or in my shoes. I accept it. I recieve it. I cherish it. May I live each day expecting to experience You. In Jesus name. Amen.

You Are Blessed

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We all go through things in our lives. Everyone does. We feel lost, at the end if our rope, discontented, persecuted, lied to, lied about, etc. It’s how we handle these situations that makes the difference in people. And a good start is a different perspective that can help change our attitudes and inspire us. No better way of doing that than digging into scripture. And who better to inspire us than Jesus Christ Himself?

Sometimes, we just need to be reminded of how blessed we are. And, truly, we are indeed blessed. Situations we often think are the end of us are just the beginning. I love this quote by Bach:

“What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly”

What we think is the end, is sometimes just the beginning of something great. What we think is a mess, through Christ is a message. God is always doing 10,000 things in your life. You are aware of maybe three.

Come. Journey through Matthew 5: 3-12 with me. Let’s join in with the crowd and lean in to Jesus teaching the Beatitudes (and get ourselves a “beautiful attitude” with a better perspective because we are not cursed. We are blessed in Christ!)….

You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.

You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.

You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.

You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.

You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-FULL,’ you find yourselves cared FOR.

You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.

You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.

You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom.

Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit Christ. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even—for though they don’t like it, Christ does! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. His prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.

Things may not be as they seem. Get alone with God and His Word and listen to Him speak.

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Since You are God’s idea, you are a GOOD idea

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God planned and packed you on purpose for His purpose. Heaven’s custom design.

At a moment before moments existed, the sovereign Star Maker resolved, “I will make _____________.” Your name goes in the blank.

Then He continued with, “And I will make him/her _________, _________ and _________ and ____________ and __________.”

Fill those blanks with your characteristics. Insightful. Clever. Detail oriented. Restless.

And since you are God’s idea, you are a GOOD idea.

What God said about Jeremiah, He said about you:

“Before I made you in your mother’s womb, I chose you. Before you were born, I set you apart for a special work.”(Jeremiah 1:5)

Set apart for a special work — Cure for the Common Life

How have your unique characteristics prepared you to do a special work for God?

From Thomas Nelson’s Grace for the Moment: Morning and Evening Devotional [2008] [Max Lucado] Learn more here

#maxlucado #graceforthemoment #grace

Facebook: Online Mission Field

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Facebook has more than 1 Billion members, which by population makes it the third largest country in the world — somewhere between India and the United States(Phil Cooke)

Who’s sending missionaries to that country? Who’s planting churches there?

That’s a HUGE mission field waiting for us.

I’m in.

You?

Our aim in life is to make followers of Jesus, not us.

May they see us pointing to Jesus, not self

More Than Conquerors

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…In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to seperate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:37-39)

We are more than conquerors

God isn’t sending you out on a suicide mission – He’s inviting you to witness His surpassing power. God is on our side. Let your confidence in Him give birth to optimism.

In all these things we are MORE than conquerors. Don’t give up and don’t give in to the fear of defeat or failure. The solution is life on God’s terms.


It’s time for those of us who follow Jesus to occupy the promises of God – in spite of the bleak reports.

I’m optimistic.

Are you?

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With God on our side like this, how can we lose?

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So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us?

And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us.

Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture: They kill us in cold blood because they hate you. We’re sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one. None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us.

I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.

(Romans 8:37 MSG)

Whatever you’re going through – whatever you’re facing today – embrace this written for you. You are dearly, dearly loved. Dearly wanted. God sees you. He’s here. He can’t forget someone He died for:

If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us?

So look that problem in the eye and say: My God is bigger than you. No thanks!

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Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda Versus Me

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My unresolved guilt festered for nearly a decade. When we began attending a church populated by a number of adoptive and foster families, I wondered if God had hit the family reset button for us. The finances required for adoption were daunting, to say the least, but we thought we could try foster parenting and see where it took us. Our kids were excited at the prospect of having a little baby come to live with us for a while. The social worker that evaluated our family and home prior to granting us a foster license told us we were a perfect family for the task.

She knew this was going to be a part of our family’s ministry but had no idea that foster care was both penance and prayer for me. My unvoiced hope was that maybe one of the foster babies would be left with us—things like that happened once in a while, I knew—and it would be a sign that God really had forgiven me and that I was worthy to mother another child in spite of my decision to have a tubal ligation a decade earlier.

My grief in the restaurant the day Rhiannon left us was sadness at letting her go, but also a revelatory moment when I began to come to terms with the fact that I could not go back to fix the past. My regret had long anchored me to that single disobedient moment in time. My response to the remorse I felt was to beat myself up with my failure in my own wrongheaded attempt to somehow make myself right with God. I wanted so much to be able to right my wrong, to turn my “if only” into a do-over.

I felt a new wave of sorrow as I accepted the fact that there were not going to be any do-overs in this area of my life. Jesus had been waiting and working through all of this to free me from my self-punishment habit. That fresh sorrow marked the reality that I’d finally begun to surrender to God by allowing remorse to do its work in me. The Message paraphrase of 2 Corinthians 7:10 ex- plains the work of this kind of godly sorrow: “Distress that drives us to God does that. It turns us around. It gets us back in the way of salvation. We never regret that kind of pain. But those who let distress drive them away from God are full of regrets, end up on a deathbed of regrets.”

I also began to discover that day how our loving God can redeem our regrets.

The Past on “Repeat”

Regret serves a training purpose in our lives. One of the first things newborns discover is that their cry creates a response from the world: warm milk, comforting arms, a dry diaper. This cause-and-effect interaction with the world teaches babies how the world works.

It doesn’t take long before we graduate to some version of the old “the dog ate my homework” dodge to avoid uncomfortable short-term consequences. As we move toward adulthood, one of our greatest strengths is our idealism. The passion that fuels our idealism also feeds idealism’s trigger-happy pal—impulsiveness. When we’re young, we’re prone to making quick decisions without considering long-term consequences. As a result, we’re also prone to accumulating a nice collection of unprocessed regrets that we may not fully realize until we approach midlife.

I wonder how many times Adam and Eve replayed the moment they bit into the forbidden fruit throughout the rest of their long lives (Gen. 3:1-7) or how many times Esau cursed himself for his impatience at trading his inheritance and his father’s blessing for a bowl of lentils (Gen. 25:24-34). Judas’s regret at betraying his friend Jesus drove him to suicide (Matt. 27:1-5).

In the weeks after my lunchtime meltdown, I took a small first step in facing my regrets by intentionally choosing not to keep hitting the “repeat” button on my decision. I wanted to be intentional about reflecting on the good God had brought into my life despite my bad choices, something I really hadn’t done very often. The exercise offered me a new appreciation for the sovereignty of God. If it is true that God weaves all things together for both our good and his glory (Rom. 8:28), then it follows that he is able to redeem our sinful decisions in order to serve his purposes. I realized that while my life may have been less fruitful as a result of the consequences of my choice, it hadn’t been exactly barren. Mothering three beautiful children, helping my husband as he finished college while working full time, caring for friends, doing the work God had given me, learning, serving in a couple of meaningful ministry roles—each one bore the imprint of eternity. The exercise didn’t instantly erase every regret, but it did serve to interrupt the unhealthy cycle of self-recrimination in which I’d been trapped with some spiritually nourishing, God-glorifying thanksgiving.

Pausing my endless loop of “if only” opened my ears to the lyrics of that tired song to which I’d been dancing and dancing and dancing. It was time to learn some new steps.

Reflection Questions:

1. What are some of your longest-standing regrets?

2. In what ways can you see how your past regrets have affect- ed your present life? How do they shape the way you think about your future?

3. What is one positive thing that has happened in your life as a result of a past regret?

4. If you were going to write a letter to a younger version of you just before you made a decision you now know would lead to regret, what would you say to yourself? What do you think God might say to that younger version of you?

Taken from If Only by Michelle Van Loon, ©2014 by Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City, Kansas City, MO. Used and reprinted by permission of Publisher. All rights reserved. Visit our website at http://www.beaconhillbooks.com to purchase this title.

#IfOnlyBook #IfOnlyTour

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You Are The Blessing

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The Lord was with Joseph and he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master. When his master saw that The Lord was with him and that The Lord gave him success in everything he did, Joseph found favor in his eyes and became his attendant. Potiphar put him in charge of his household, and he entrusted to his care everything he owned. From the time he put him in charge of his household and all that he owned, the LORD blessed the household of the Egyptian because of Joseph. The blessing of The Lord was on everything Potiphar had, both in the house and in the field. So he left everything he had in Joesph’s care; with Joseph in charge, he did not concern himself with anything except the food he ate. (Genesis 39:2-5)

God was with Joseph and things went very well with him. He ended up living in the home of his Egyptian master. His master recognized that God was with him, saw that God was working for good in everything he did. He became very fond of Joseph and made him his personal aide. He put him in charge of all of his personal affairs, turning everything over to him. From that moment on, God blessed the home of the Egyptian — all because of Joseph. The blessing of God spread over everything he owned, at home and in the fields, and all Potiphar had to concern himself with was eating three meals a day. 

It’s not where you are – it’s YOU that God is blessing. God has favor on YOU.

Being in the favor of God means you’ll be blessed no matter where you are. You walk in a room you are the blessing of that room. 

There is no weak economy in Heaven. There are no droughts in heaven. There are no emergency meetings in heaven. 

In Genesis 13 we see Abram and Lot, uncle and nephew, separate. Lot chose the lush lands of the east. Abram chose the desert and prospered there.

In God’s economy, there IS prosperity in the desert.

When you walk into that job, that home, that position – it’s you that has the blessing and the favor and you bring it with you.
 
God is working through our obedience in Spiritual gifts and professional skills. And, as Joseph’s life reminds us, His purposes stretch from countryside pastures to household financial services firms, from prison administration, to the halls of political power. 

May he find us faithful where we are. Everywhere we are. 

You are the light of world. You carry the light with you. What happens when you walk into a room and flip the light on? Light always wins. No fear. 

Allow God to be the Author of your hopes and dreams —your definition of success. 


Like a drop in the water, your blessings ripple out to those around you. He will bless your work and it will bless your employer, colleagues, clients, customers, vendors, your town. He will bless you and it will bless your family, your friends, your church, your marriage. 

Think you’ve gone too far, or made too many wrong turns? 

God uses broken things. He uses crooked sticks to draw straight lines. It takes broken soil to produce a crop, broken clouds to produce rain, broken grain to give bread, broken bread to give strength. It is the broken alabaster box that gives forth perfume. It is Peter, weeping bitterly, who returns to greater power than ever. 

We can all learn a lesson from Peter: In Matthew 14:22-33 Peter walked on water, but as soon as he took his eyes off of Jesus and onto his surroundings, he began to sink. Don’t look at your surroundings no matter how crazy they seem. Keep your eyes on the Master. He’s the source of power. He’s your confidence.

And, remember this. Don’t forget it: the credit is all His. Take less credit and more confidence in Him. It’s not who you are, it’s Whose you are. 

Prayer:
Lord, thank You for blessing us. Thank You for reminding us that your blessings go with us wherever we are and that our calling doesn’t stop at the church building. You bless us and use us wherever we are in all that we do at home and at work…..and those blessings bless others. Thank You for Your favor. May we be mindful and faithful in all we do. As we go about this next week and all the days following, may we remember to live second. May we remember why we’re here. For Your honor. For Your glory. In Jesus name. Amen.

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Trust Issues

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A Facebook friend shared this picture, and I just had to share it with you.

It’s easy for us look at this picture and think how silly it is for her to hold on when we see that He has something better for her.

Isn’t this so like us?? We have trust issues. We hold on to things we think are the better things for us. Do we really think we know better than God?

We forfeit a lot of untapped blessings by doing this.

If only we would just surrender it all to Him. Because, dear friends, He has better things for us and loves us beyond compare.

He holds no good thing from us. He can do immeasurably more than we could ever ask or imagine….if we would only TRUST Him!


The thing is – Jesus is looking for people to give more than words of belief; He’s looking to see how those words are lived out in our lives.

When we decide to believe in Jesus without making a commitment to follow Him, we are nothing more than fans. We need to become faithful followers.

What is it that you need to surrender? What things or people or hurts or pasts or (fill in the blank) are you still holding on to?

Won’t you trust Him and let go?

God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us. Glory to God in the church! Glory to God in the Messiah, in Jesus! Glory down all the generations! Glory through all millennia! Oh, yes! (Ephesians 3:20, 21 MSG)

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