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

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Sticks and Stones

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Words.

Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never harm me.

Lies.

Big.Lies.

Great.Big.Fat.Lies.

Ever said something in the heat of the moment and then instantly regretted it? Yeah, me too. You know exactly what I’m talking about. That crazy moment when you’ve lost all good senses and out it comes. And there it sits….looking just as ugly as it felt coming out. We’ve all done it.

*sigh*

Or, have you ever said something carelessly and had no idea the impact your words had?

Yep.

Words are important to God. God spoke all of creation into existence. God spoke. That’s all. And whatever He said, it happened.

God is serious about our words and how we use them, and we should be too. Our words have the power to influence and shape the world around us – physically and virtually- in a good and bad ways.

James talks about how our tongue is used for evil:

 

“Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue is a fire. A world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed or have been tamed by man. But no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil full of deadly poison. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men , who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth, come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water. (James 3:5-12 NIV) “

But in Proverbs, we get to see how our words can bring light and a future!

 

The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but violence overwhelms the mouth of the wicked. (Proverbs 10:11 NIV)

The lips of the righteous nourish many, but the fools die for lack of judgement. (Proverbs 10:21 NIV)

An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up. (Proverbs 12:25 NIV)

Pleasant words are a honeycomb: sweet to the taste and health to the body. (Proverbs 16:24 HCSB)

Before you speak – think:

Is it uplifting? Is it beneficial? Will it strengthen and encourage? Will it bring glory and honor to God? If the answer to any of these questions is no, then it’s not something that should be voiced.

Let’s taste our words before we spit them out, shall we? Me and you. Deal? Deal.

There are SO many more verses on our words and how we can use them. I would encourage you to look them up! It’s so rewarding.

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I just can’t believe the people that GOD has blessed me with. Incredible. I had so much fun writing this with our dear, sweet Morgan. I’ve had a peek at a few ideas she has. You guys, I can’t even. You will be blessed. Can’t wait for you to see what’s coming.

Our writing team is growing. There’s room for you. Contact me with what you have and let’s talk.

Advent: It Is Finished

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Today is the first Sunday of Advent. The word “advent” means arrival. The Advent we celebrate is not just any arrival. We celebrate THE Arrival: Jesus.

This is the Advent: the coming of hope to the hopeless, the arrival of peace to war-torn exiles, and the long-awaited freedom for generation after generation.

It’s the elaborate yet stunningly simple plan of God to come to His children, to become like them in the most unexpected, unglamorous, fully human way: a Babe in a manger….born of a virgin.

It’s the beginning of a great ransom story. And you’re in it.

Our ransom story begins way back at the beginning. Way back to the fall in the Garden of Eden:

Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’ ” “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” So the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, “Cursed are you above all livestock and all wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” (Genesis 3:1-15 NIV)

“No sooner was the wound given than the remedy was provided and revealed” -Matthew Henry

God’s rescue plan started right then. He couldn’t leave us there. His weapon of choice: Grace. He would use Grace to draw us back to Him in the form of His Son. A Messiah. A Savior. Emmanuel: God With Us.

Yes, the evil one would strike His heel. Jesus would experience real suffering with real blood, sweat and tears. But, Jesus would have the last word. When He cried out, “It is finished!” the serpent’s head would receive the final, fatal blow.

This is how He would become God With Us. Once His work is done….once you and I accept Him as Lord and Savior…..we will never be separated from Him again. God.With.Us.

In this Holiday season, I pray you all are keeping your devotion time going. Often we put them aside when we’re busy, but that’s when we need them the most. When we’re distracted and busy we are a prime target for the enemy. And this Holiday is about Christ anyway, right? Let’s keep our focus and the flame of our love affair with Him burning brightly. Do an Advent study/Devotion this season and worship Him. Grow deeper and closer to our Savior.

You’ll find keeping Christ in Christmas will help your busy Holiday time go much better! Also important: We see a lot of people this time of year that we don’t see regularly….as well as stores packed full of strangers. What a prime opportunity to share Christ and His Gospel. Remember why you’re here in the first place 😊

He’ll Bring You Back

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God created Adam and Eve and placed them in the Garden of Eden to rule on His behalf.

But, they chose to disobey God’s one command and through them, sin entered the world. They were banished from the Garden and their fellowship with God was broken.

Their.Fellowship.With.God.Was.Broken. This, my friends, hurts my heart. The mere thought of sweet fellowship with my beautiful Jesus being broken just grieves me. It grabs me deep and my soul screeches and pours out, “noooooo!” We’ve all felt further away from God in those times in our lives when we smother Him out and don’t keep Him a priority. But, broken?! Oh, how they must have HURT!

Take this world, the magazine articles written, the speaking engagements, the classes taught, take it all. Take this world and give me Jesus! I’ve GOT to have Jesus!

But, friends, we have an amazing God who is more addicted to fellowship with us than we are to Him. God immediately set into motion His plan to bring us back. This is the story of the whole Bible.

Everything God does is a solution.

God continually works to redeem us for Himself. He wants to lovingly bless us with good things as we seek and find our hope in Him. He is the source of all good things.

No matter what we do, or how we mess up, EVERYTHING God does is a solution to bring us back. Get us back to where we are supposed to be. Back in the game. Back on track. Back in the joy of our salvation. He meets us where we are and never leaves us there. 

The story of the whole Bible is God redeeming His people and bringing them back. It also tells us who God is…it reveals His personality, His character, and His plan for us. And, it also reveals His deepest desire: To relate to and fellowship with the people He created. His deepest desire is a passionate, loving relationship with YOU.

Are you at a place today where you are desperate for God? Empty and needing a Savior? Well, guess what….He wants that even more than you do. It’s called grace. So, don’t be shy. Nothing you’ve done will make Him love you any less. He’s better than we humans about that. Go right on up and climb into Daddy’s lap. He’s running to greet you now.

See: Genesis 1: 1-2:4, Genesis 3:1-24, Luke 15:11-32, James 1:17, John 3:16

The Need To Impress

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Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in The Lord is kept safe. Proverbs 29.25

The fear of human opinion disables; trusting in GOD protects you from that.

Fear. Fear. Fear. The opposite of peace.

Fear can torment, dilute your impact, and snatch your ministry.

Instead, Focus on Pleasing GOD and the fear of others’ judgement will disappear. Attempting to impress others will stop. It’s trap! We aren’t performing here. This isn’t a competition. This is real life. A real eternity is at stake.

Focus your attention on sweet Jesus. You can trust Him. Take the energy you’ve been using to impress others and pour it into trusting Him…..the One that will never leave you, or forsake you.. This is how we stay connected to Him and are made keenly aware of His presence. Begin today in baby steps to take GOD at His word and before you know it those giant leaps of faith will come in victory. And, that fear of others’ opinions will be no more.

If you’ve noticed your impact and ministry being diluted, begin now to let your faith be bigger than your fear.

GOD in Everything

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He is the God: let him do whatever He thinks best. – 1 Sam 3:18

See God in everything, and God will calm and color all that you see. It may be that the circumstances of our sorrows will not be removed, their condition will remain unchanged, things aren’t going as planned, things happening that we don’t remember signing up for; but if Christ, as Lord and Master of our life, is brought into it, ”HE will surround me with songs of deliverance.“ To see HIM, and to be sure that His wisdom cannot err, His power cannot fail, His love can never change; to know that even His direst dealings with us are for our deepest spiritual gain, is to be able to say, in the midst of bereavement, sorrow, pain, and loss, ”The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” He is God: Let Him do whatever He thinks is best

Do you acknowledge that God is everything but struggle to see God’s hand in everything that is happening right now, in your daily life?

Charles Finney said, ” A state of mind that sees God in everything is evidence of growth in grace and a thankful heart.”

Nothing else but seeing God in everything will make us loving and patient with those who [and those things that] annoy and trouble us. They will be to us then only instruments for accomplishing His tender and wise purposes toward us, and we shall even find ourselves at last inwardly thanking them for the blessings they bring us. Nothing else will completely put an end to all murmuring or rebelling thoughts.—H. W. Smith.

“Give me a new idea,” I said,
While musing on a sleepless bed;
“A new idea that’ll bring to earth
A balm for souls of priceless worth;
That’ll give men thoughts of things above,

And teach them how to serve and love,
That’ll banish every selfish thought,
And rid men of the sins they’ve fought.”

The new thought came, just how, I’ll tell:
’Twas when on bended knee I fell,
And sought from HIM who knows full well
The way our sorrow to expel.
SEE GOD IN ALL THINGS, great and small,
And give HIM praise whate’er befall,
In life or death, in pain or woe,
See God, and overcome thy foe.

I saw HIM in the morning light,
HE made the day shine clear and bright;
I saw HIM in the noontide hour,
And gained from HIM refreshing shower.
At eventide, when worn and sad,
HE gave me help, and made me glad.
At midnight, when on tossing bed
My weary soul to sleep HE led.

I saw HIM when great losses came,
And found HE loved me just the same.
When heavy loads I had to bear,
I found HE lightened every care.
By sickness, sorrow, sore distress,
HE calmed my mind and gave me rest.
HE’S filled my heart with gladsome praise
Since I gave HIM the upward gaze.

’Twas new to me, yet old to some,
This thought that to me has become
A revelation of the way
We all should live throughout the day;
For as each day unfolds its light,
We’ll walk by faith and not by sight.
Life will, indeed, a blessing bring,
If we SEE GOD IN EVERYTHING.”
—A. E. Finn

He is God: Let Him do whatever He thinks is best

Come Home, Runaway

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“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate. (Luke 15:17-24 NIV)

I deeply love this parable. The father seeing his son come from a long way off indicates that he habitually looked for his return, scanning the distant road daily hoping to see him. The father put feet to his feelings by RUNNING out to meet his son. The father displayed compassion, love (threw his arms around his neck and kissed him), celebration, joyful restoration of status for his son (a robe of distinction, a signet ring of family authority, sandals worn by a son in contrast to a barefoot slave). The father initiated restoration of fellowship before the son could articulate his confession because he knew what was in his heart.

Everything the younger son had hoped to find in the far country, he discovered back home: clothes, jewelry, friends, joyful celebration, love, and assurance for the future.

The difference: instead of saying, ‘Father, give me!’ (as he did before he left) he said, ‘Father, make me!’ He was willing to be a servant!

God’s compassion for a wandering sinner returning home far outweighs any sin we have committed. His love for us is deep, and His grace and mercy are long. God is not waiting for his shamed child to slink home, nor is He standing on His dignity when He comes, but RUNNING out to gather us, shamed and ragged and muddied as we are, to His welcoming arms. The name “Father” will at once fade the color of sin and heighten the splendid glory of forgiveness.

In Phillip Yancey’s book “What’s so Amazing about Grace,” Yancy retells the story of the Prodigal Son from a modern day view point. It is a powerful story and it’s definitely worth sharing. Here’s the story …

THE RUNAWAY

A young girl grows up on a cherry orchard just above Traverse City, Michigan. Her parents, a bit old-fashioned, tend to overreact to her nose ring, the music she listens to, and the length of her skirts. They ground her a few times, and she seethes inside. “I hate you!” she screams at her father when he knocks on the door of her room after an argument, and that night she acts on a plan she has mentally rehearsed scores of times. She runs away.

She has visited Detroit only once before, on a bus trip with her church youth group to watch the Tigers play. Because newspapers in Traverse City report in lurid detail the gangs, drugs, and violence in downtown Detroit, she concludes that is probably the last place her parents will look for her. California, maybe, or Florida, but not Detroit.

Her second day there she meets a man who drives the biggest car she’s ever seen. He offers her a ride, buys her lunch, arranges a place for her to stay. He gives her some pills that make her feel better than she’s ever felt before. She was right all along, she decides: Her parents were keeping her from all the fun.

The good life continues for a month, two months, a year. The man with the big car—she calls him “Boss”–teaches her a few things that men like. Since she’s underage, men pay a premium for her. She lives in a penthouse and orders room service whenever she wants. Occasionally she thinks about the folks back home, but their lives now seem so boring that she can hardly believe she grew up there. She has a brief scare when she sees her picture printed on the back of a milk carton with the headline, “Have you seen this child?” But by now she has blond hair, and with all the makeup and body-piercing jewelry she wears, nobody would mistake her for a child. Besides, most of her friends are runaways, and nobody squeals in Detroit.

After a year, the first sallow signs of illness appear, and it amazes her how fast the boss turns mean. “These days, we can’t mess around,” he growls, and before she knows it she’s out on the street without a penny to her name. She still turns a couple of tricks a night, but they don’t pay much, and all the money goes to support her drug habit. When winter blows in she finds herself sleeping on metal grates outside the big department stores. “Sleeping” is the wrong word—a teenage girl at night in downtown Detroit can never relax her guard. Dark bands circle her eyes. Her cough worsens.

One night, as she lies awake listening for footsteps, all of a sudden everything about her life looks different. She no longer feels like a woman of the world. She feels like a little girl, lost in a cold and frightening city. She begins to whimper. Her pockets are empty and she’s hungry. She needs a fix. She pulls her legs tight underneath her and shivers under the newspapers she’s piled atop her coat. Something jolts a synapse of memory and a single image fills her mind: of May in Traverse City, when a million cherry trees bloom at once, with her golden retriever dashing through the rows and rows of blossomy trees in chase of a tennis ball.

God, why did I leave? she says to herself, and pain stabs at her heart. My dog back home eats better than I do now. She’s sobbing, and she knows in a flash that more than anything else in the world she wants to go home.

Three straight phone calls, three straight connections with the answering machine. She hangs up without leaving a message the first two times, but the third time she says, “Dad, Mom, it’s me. I was wondering about maybe coming home. I’m catching a bus up your way, and it’ll get there about midnight tomorrow. If you’re not there, well, I guess I’ll just stay on the bus until it hits Canada.”

It takes about seven hours for a bus to make all the stops between Detroit and Traverse City, and during that time she realizes the flaws in her plan. What if her parents are out of town and miss the message? Shouldn’t she have waited another day or so until she could talk to them? Even if they are home, they probably wrote her off as dead long ago. She should have given them some time to overcome the shock.

Her thoughts bounce back and forth between those worries and the speech she is preparing for her father. “Dad, I’m sorry. I know I was wrong. It’s not your fault, it’s all mine. Dad, can you forgive me?” She says the words over and over, her throat tightening even as she rehearses them. She hasn’t apologized to anyone in years.

The bus has been driving with lights on since Bay City. Tiny snowflakes hit the road, and the asphalt steams. She’s forgotten how dark it gets at night out here. A deer darts across the road and the bus swerves. Every so often, a billboard. A sign posting the mileage to Traverse City. Oh, God.

When the bus finally rolls into the station, its air brakes hissing in protest, the driver announces in a crackly voice over the microphone, “Fifteen minutes, folks. That’s all we have here.” Fifteen minutes to decide her life. She checks herself in a compact mirror, smooths her hair, and licks the lipstick off her teeth. She looks at the tobacco stains on her fingertips and wonders if her parents will notice. If they’re there.

She walks into the terminal not knowing what to expect, and not one of the thousand scenes that have played out in her mind prepare her for what she sees. There, in the concrete-walls-and-plastic-chairs bus terminal in Traverse City, Michigan, stands a group of 40 family members—brothers and sisters and great-aunts and uncles and cousins and a grandmother and great-grandmother to boot. They are all wearing ridiculous-looking party hats and blowing noisemakers, and taped across the entire wall of the terminal is a computer-generated banner that reads “Welcome home!”

Out of the crowd of well-wishers breaks her dad. She looks through tears and begins the memorized speech, “Dad, I’m sorry. I know … “

He interrupts her. “Hush, child. We’ve got no time for that. No time for apologies. You’ll be late for the party. A banquet’s waiting for you at home.”

And so it is with God’s amazing grace. But what’s so amazing about it, anyway?

Ask people what they must do to get to return to God and most reply, “Be good.” Jesus’ stories contradict that answer.

All we must do is cry, “Help!” God welcomes home anyone who will have Him and, in fact, has made the first move already.

That’s what’s so amazing about grace.

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Have you mixed up your salt and sugar?

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Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. Colossians 4: 5-6


Imagine you are getting out the ingredients to bake a batch of cookies, but you have unknowingly mixed up the salt and the sugar. You end up putting in a dash of sugar and a cup of salt.

Now, picture a little child taking a big bite of one of those cookies. How long will it take the child to realize something is wrong? Do you think he or she will ask for another cookie? Of course not!

The art of seasoning is a matter of balance. Just enough salt to notice, but not too much salt to overwhelm. Salt creates a thirst, a desire for more. As Christians, we sprinkle the salt of God’s grace and gospel into our daily conversations. We don’t saturate every conversations in a way that drives others away. The artful seasoning of God’s loving grace into our conversations will create a thirst and a desire in the lives of others. They will long to know more of Jesus. This is how you “make the most of every opportunity.”

2012: A Year Filled With Attitude

20121231-064420.jpgHAPPY NEW YEAR!

Can you believe that 2013 is here?! Wow! I have whiplash from 2012!

As God woke me this morning and took me to our scripture, I smiled. I smiled because of all this brought me through in the last year.

giving thanks always for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesians 5:20)

Does this mean my 2012 was entirely filled with all positive things as I skipped and twirled through my days? No. Absolutely no.

And, yes. Always and in everything there is something to run to Daddy about. Keeping this practice keeps us communicating with Him….which is precisely where we should be.

A person that is filled with the Spirit is mindful of and grateful to the Source of all things good. And, when things aren’t so good we can thank the Source of strength that got us through.

Keeping my heart and mind in praise and thanksgiving keeps me on the right path….whatever the attitude I have that has me face to face with Him is ok. The point is the face to face part.

New Year’s Eve 2012 was spent gathering in my home filled with friends old and new celebrating, thanking God in prayer and praise for all the victories won. All of them. Everything. All things good, and all things that were for our good. 2012 started out in a very painful neck surgery that blessed me with time to be still, learning and growing closer to Jesus. Lost loved ones….some through death….some through betrayal and choices of their own. A drawing closer, skin-to-skin with God. A calling. Another calling. Another calling. Another calling. A child. That blessed child! New relationships. All life changing. All woven while sitting, serving, speaking, loving with my Jesus.

Whatever 2012 was for you…whatever 2013 will be for you….speak the name Jesus over it/ for it/ to it. There’s power in your words. Your tongue can have a Lazarus effect on your life.

Give thanks always, and for everything because we serve a God who does not sit high on a hill and bid us to climb out of the valley. No. He bungees down and carries us out. He doesn’t build a bridge and command us to cross it. No. He crosses the bridge and shoulders us over. Grace. This is the gift that God gives. A grace that changes us and leads us to a life that is eternally altered. A life that gives thanks always and for everything in that sweet, Holy name: Jesus.

A Branch for Christmas: the richest gift of all

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“The days are coming”, declares the LORD, “when I will fulfill the gracious promise I made to the house of Israel and to the house of Judah. “In those days and at that time I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David’s line”; he will do what is just and right in the land.



God’s grace-filled promise is paid in full in Jesus Christ- the Righteous Branch. He came with a journey of love to carry out and He did it, and did it well….righting wrongs, and bringing justice for all who receive Him.

Grace: giving us what we don’t deserve. I don’t know about you, but I certainly have done nothing to deserve this kind of love and sacrifice.

God’s promise is true for my salvation and also just as true for my daily life. In all things (all means all) God works for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8).

“In those days and at that time”….God knows what’s going on with you and me. Believe that God will swoop right in at the right time and work for your good. I ask again, do you really think God would love us enough to send His Son to die for us, and not care for us in our daily life? What would be the point? What about that would make us eager to serve Him? No, He’s all about the details of our lives. We just over look Him and aren’t listening for His voice.

There’s a power of God that you and I can’t even imagine, and that power is at work in us, for us and through us

This Christmas as we celebrate the birth of our Savior…..a King born to die….let’s remember that His love for us is consuming, overwhelming, never ending, awesome, and huge. He brought salvation to us, and He also brought an invitation….a front row seat to allow Him to work in us, for us and through us in such powerful ways.

What a mighty and loving God we serve!

Thank You, Lord for our Christmas Branch….a Branch for Christmas is the richest gift of all!

Walk in loving power, and at the edge of your seats with the King.