Category Archives: Christian Living

Joy in the Storm

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A friend recently asked how I was managing with some challenges and all I could muster was that I was relying on God’s strength.  I said, “All I have is God … and He is more than enough!”  I also said that sometimes you simply keep placing one foot in front of the other.

Of course, my daily devotions spent in the Word of God and prayer are what sustain this weary heart on the difficult days.  Despite the storm clouds that surround, “My anchor holds within the vale.”  I have a deep, wellspring of joy on the inside that is not conditional on my circumstances but is a true gift from God.

It is possible to have peace and joy regardless of the dark clouds that rage.  This world is not our final destination.  During times of struggle, I especially love to listen to some praise and worship music and praise the Lord.  When we worship God, we are inviting His presence into our lives and our situation.  I firmly believe that.  And, how I need Him.

John 16:33 says, “In this world you will have tribulation but be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world.”

Life continually has its valleys and mountain tops.  We cannot prevent either from happening but we can control our responses to each.  We can determine in our hearts that no matter what happens, we will dig deep in His Word for wisdom, instruction, and comfort.  No matter what, we will pray and praise God for Who He is, not just for what He does for us.

When we focus on our blessings more than our problems, there is a shift in our attitude and perspective.  Whatever we focus on becomes bigger.  What would happen if we focused on God more than our difficulties?

What if we recall the countless times in the past that God has delivered us and answered prayer?  What if we praised Him in advance for all that He has planned for our lives?

What if, even through our storm, others could witness God’s strength and power demonstrated in our lives?

Joy is possible in the darkest of nights.

Peace is available too.

Faith is the seed that makes these a reality in our hearts.

…Instead of searching for the nearest exit during your storm, why not praise God for what He will teach you through the challenging circumstances?  Why not ask Him to shine through your darkness to be a blessing to others around you that they may glorify God?

When we are able to change our perspective, we are able to change our reality.

Trust God.  Pray.  Praise.  Watch Him work in your life as only He can.

Rinse.  Repeat.

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Jesus is Risen!

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“He is not here; He has risen, just like He said.”  ~  Matthew 28:6

The resurrection of Jesus was prophesied by the prophets of old, but for those alive at the time of its fulfillment, it seemingly took everyone by surprise.

First of all, Jesus didn’t exactly meet their expectations of how he would enter into humanity’s realm.  Following this pattern, his death certainly did not come as they imagined it might unfold.  But it occurred nonetheless…  On God’s terms and meeting heaven’s demands that the sinless Lamb of God would take on the sin of mankind, taking our place on that cruel Cross so that you and I could spend eternity with Him.  Jesus bridged the gap that sin created and that you and I could never repay.  He paid for our ransom!

I am so grateful that God had a plan of redemption!  What love the Father has for us!

Isn’t it wonderful that God’s plan didn’t end on the Cross of Calvary?!

No, death would not have its final say.  Not this time.  For despite the humanity Jesus bore, residing on the inside of Him was Resurrection Power this world had never known!!

“Up from the grave He arose, with a mighty triumph o’er His foes!  He arose!  Hallelujah, Christ arose!”

Through Jesus’ death and resurrection, death was defeated and sin’s curse was broken.  Now, we are free to choose to accept this precious gift of salvation through Jesus Christ.

“I am the way, the truth and the life.  No man comes to the Father but by me.”  ~ John 14:6

Happy Resurrection Day!  Jesus is alive!

 

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The Immutability of God

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Now what does that exactly mean?  Immutable means: fixed, set, established, doesn’t change, constant, static, enduring, permanent.  I love this!

God’s unchanging nature has always been one of the most precious qualities to me.  He will not change.  He isn’t loving today and hateful tomorrow.  He doesn’t forgive me today and hold a grudge tomorrow.  He isn’t kind today and evil tomorrow.  He cannot change.  It isn’t in His divine nature, friend.  Isn’t that comforting to know?

The Bible says, “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and plenteous in mercy.”  Psalm 103:8

Verse 17 goes on to say, “But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting…”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” ~ James 1:17

Psalm 107:1 says, “O give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good: for His mercy endureth forever.”

Verses 8 and 9 say, “Oh that men would praise the Lord for His goodness and for His wonderful works to the children of men!  For He satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness.”

That’s the character of the God I serve.  He is good.  He is merciful.  He is just.

 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.  He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.” ~ I John 4:7-8

He is loving.

These Scriptures demonstrate and reveal to us the unchanging character of God.

“Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today and for ever.”  ~ Hebrews 13:8

He will not change.  He cannot change.

He has loved us with an everlasting love.  (Jeremiah 31:3)

When my circumstances change, my God doesn’t.  When my seasons change, God remains constant.  When my bank account changes or my relationships change, God is steadfast.  Unmovable in His love and grace for my life.

“I will love thee, O Lord, my strength.  The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.”  ~ Psalm 18:1-2

I challenge you today, friend, to dig into the Word of God and see for yourself the character of God.  “O taste and see that the Lord is good.”  (Psalm 34:8)  Do not neglect the Scriptures because the task seems tedious.  Our lives can become so hectic and fast paced that we lose sight of the true source of our strength.  Get into the habit of daily reading the Word of God and not merely checking off a reading list.  God is more interested in your spiritual growth than how many chapters you’re rushing through each day.  Read His love story to us and watch your spirit soar and your walk with Christ grow in ways you never knew were possible!

Blessings, my friend!  May we continually grow in His grace.  And may you be reminded of God’s constant character and steadfast love.

 

 

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Never Give Up!

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Winston Churchill gave a famous speech where he uttered:

“Never, never, never give up!”

He also said, “If you’re going through hell – keep going.”

I want to urge you today that if you seem to be facing insurmountable odds and life is just too difficult to go on … Keep placing one foot in front of the other!  Baby steps.

One step leads to another and before you know it, you are in a new season of life.  Life is ever changing and things won’t always remain the same.

Sometimes it’s easy for our emotions to get the best of us and we can readily succumb to the devil’s lies that we should just throw in the towel, that life is just too hard.

Life is hard sometimes and its load can seem overwhelming, but you and I are here for a purpose.  God created each one of us and has placed unique gifts and talents inside each of us.

Jesus said, “In this world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer for I have overcome the world.”  ~ John 16:33

If we have placed our faith, hope and trust in God, then we know that He is able to carry us through seasons that are too difficult to handle alone.

“And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”

~ II Corinthians 12:9-11

I pray that if you find the pain of your life unbearable today, my friend, that Jesus would hold you close and reveal His love to you as only He can.  You are loved by an Almighty God, who knows everything about you and still chooses to love.  That’s love, friend.  He loves with an unfailing, never ending kind of love.  I pray that God’s peace, the peace that surpasses all human understanding would so envelope your soul that you will find rest and comfort like you’ve never known.  Lastly, I pray for God’s grace to be with you during this trying time, that God will provide for your every need and that you will have renewed hope in Christ.

This world is not our home.  We are pilgrims passing through until that day when God calls us home.  Until then, this world needs you.  This world needs to see God’s love demonstrated through your life.

May we all be strengthened in His might and His power to be a blessing to a lost and dying world.   Never give up, my friend.

Greater things are in store for you!  Your miracle and breakthrough could be just around the corner.  Don’t quit now!  Keep walking this faith walk.  God will give you the strength.  Trust Him today.

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Peace in the Midst of the Storm

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Did you know that it is possible to have peace in the midst of the storm?

Psalm 23 has been a consistent “go to” comforting passage for me over the years and still has an unparalleled capacity to calm my deepest fears and quiet my restless soul.

It starts out – “The Lord is my Shepherd.”  Is He your shepherd today, friend?  Ah, what peace floods my soul to know that God not only comforts me, but guides me.  After all, that’s the role of a shepherd.

Verse 2 says, ” He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:  He leadeth me beside the still waters.”

What a tranquil visual that verse contains!  It’s as if God is saying, “Come, quiet your anxious soul.  Rest a while.”

I’m reminded of the New Testament verse that says:

“Take my yoke upon you for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  ~ Matthew 11:29

Verse 4 says, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” 

If you find yourself in a storm today, I encourage you to read Psalm 23 and really absorb each verse, line by line.  There is rest for your weary soul and nourishment for your thirsty spirit.  God is the Friend, who sticks closer than a brother.  (Proverbs 18:24)

God holds all power in His hands and He is able to calm your storm today.  And should He choose not to calm the seas in your life, He promises to sustain you each step along the way.  Many times we do not understand God’s timing and His ways but we are not called to understand.  We are called to trust and obey instead.

When the storm clouds rage, I challenge you to focus on the One who holds the storm in His safe and loving hands.  Focus on His power and not the power of the clouds that produce rain.  Their power is limited.  That is all they can produce.  God’s power, however, is limitless and knows no bounds.  It is His hands I am choosing to cling to in the storm.

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.”  ~  Psalm 23:6

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When Heaven is Silent

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Have you ever prayed about something near and dear to your heart for a long time and all your spirit hears are crickets?  Yeah, me too.  It’s times like those that it is easy to believe two lies:  1.)  God doesn’t hear us.  or 2.)  God chooses not to answer.

When I’m feeling spiritually weak, I am prone to believe one or both of these lies.

The Bible says that we walk by faith, not by sight, right? I’m so glad our spiritual walk is based on what the Bible says and not on how we feel or what we see.

“And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us:

And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.” ~ I John 5:14-15

Over the course of my life, I have prayed countless prayers.  Some have taken years before I saw the answers come to fruition.  That just makes the answer that much more sweet.  Ah, the delays.  Why the delays?  We may never know this side of heaven but what we do know is that God wants us to pray, expecting that we will receive.

“Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” ~ Hebrews 4:16

Probably my favorite parable of all is that of the widow and the unjust judge.  She kept beseeching his help and finally because this widow was relentless – She would NOT give up – The judge granted her request!  (lest she weary him)  I love this because it illustrates the power of standing firm in prayer, never giving up – no matter what!  Tenacious praying!

“And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;

Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man:

And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary.

And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man;

Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.

And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith.

And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?

I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” ~ Luke 18:1-8

Now, God does not have the attitude of this unjust judge, but rather, Jesus was drawing a contrast to our heavenly Father.  If this was the response of the unjust judge, what do you think the response of our Abba Father would be when one of His children calls?

I recently received a glimpse of the beginnings of an answer to one of my heart’s cries and I was indeed humbled once again.  Humbled because it showed me that despite my faith, maybe sometimes I doubt whether God is working behind the scenes.

Just because we cannot see the manifestation of the object of our prayer does not mean there isn’t movement!

It is possible that some answers to prayer may not be visible or made known to us during our lifetime.  It may be that future realities will be born out of today’s prayer.  And these realities may be birthed long after we are gone.  That should give us cause to pray even more fervently because I do not believe that prayers die.  I believe that God remembers our petitions to throne of grace and that He will cause His perfect will to be accomplished.  But the vehicle for this to be carried out is prayer.  In this regard, I believe prayer is a great legacy.

So, don’t give up on those prayers that are near to your heart, my friend.  God knows.  He hears.  He sees your tears and knows the cry of your heart.

“Rejoice evermore.   Pray without ceasing.  In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” ~ I Thessalonians 5:16-18

 

Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” ~ James 5:16

 

 

 

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It’s Less About Us & More About Him

The message of the Cross is more about Jesus and less about us (in terms of qualifications or assets we may bring to the table).  The central theme of the Cross is God’s overwhelming and extravagant love for humanity. Hinged on that love, Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice was displayed for all of the world.

The compelling truth regarding the Cross is that you or I do not have to be “good” enough, as if that were even possible, to become sons and daughters of God.  In fact, we know that the Bible says that our righteousness (if there’s anything remotely good about us) is equal to that of filthy rags.  Wow.  Way to deflate the human ego.  But it’s true.  I think most of us already know that, if we are honest with ourselves anyway.

No, the message of the Cross is less about us and all about Jesus.  His character is compassionate, loving, kind, good, thoughtful, patient, longsuffering.

“The Lord is compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.”  ~ Psalm 103:8

If we can just grasp those attributes and dwell on those for a moment…It’s overwhelming to consider that the Great God of the Universe thinks about you and me … and prays for us daily.  The Bible says He daily makes intercession for us!  (Romans 8:34)  That is a humbling thought right there, my friend.  He has time for me?  Well, the reality is that God transcends time and space.  His reality is not the same as the confines we, humans, operate in.  He is All Powerful and His power knows no limits, no boundaries.  That is something that is difficult for our finite minds to process.  We must simply believe.

The truth is that none of us are qualified to become followers of Jesus Christ.  Equally true, God calls the unqualified.  That right there should be a liberating thought, my friend.  Grace beckons to our soul to receive such an unattainable and unearned gift.  And because of this great gift, we are then able to show others such grace.  Not that we would become hoarders of God’s gift, but a sieve for it to then flow through.

There is room at the Cross for you today.  It doesn’t matter what your past is.  God can rewrite your life story and create a brand new future for you.  That’s what I love so much about God and the redemptive power of the Cross — It is transformational!

If you fully accept God’s gift of grace, it is impossible to remain the same.  Once you’ve accepted God’s love and understand the sacrifice of His Son, it makes you want to change!

The message of the Cross is all about the love of our Heavenly Father, poured out through Jesus Christ, to reconcile a lost world back to Him.  His message is still the same today.  He is Jehovah, “I Am”, the One Who is the Self-Existent One.  He never changes.  His promises never fail.  When we are faithless, He is faithful.  (Psalm 102)

Rather than focus on your own shortcomings, set your eyes on the unchanging character of God through His Word.  When we study God’s Word, it causes things to fall into the proper perspective.  It sheds light on our darkness.  It gives us wisdom to know which path to pursue.

No, we are not the message of the Cross.  We are merely the objects of God’s unending affection.  In that regard, it makes us kind of special.  But, it’s all about Him.  We are God’s creation and He is the Creator.  May we never allow pride to confuse the two.

“God saved you by His grace when you believed.  And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.  Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.  For we are God’s masterpiece.  He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.”  ~ Ephesians 2:8-9  NLT

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Before Goliath, a Lion & a Bear

David conquered a lion and a bear before he ever faced the greatest challenge of his lifetime – Goliath.

And prior to governing all of Egypt, Joseph ran Potiphar’s household.

Have you ever considered that previous battles in your own life were preceded by similar ones?  Battles that we survived and ones that we developed stronger faith through.

As I contemplate my own health challenges at the moment and my role as a health advocate for my daughter, Sarah, I am reminded that there were former struggles that prepared me for such a time as this.

As I’ve mentioned previously, I used to take my father to all of his medical appointments and have helped him during his recovery on a number of occasions.  I am his medical power of attorney and have advocated for him countless times.

And, of course, being a parent of three children predisposes one to seeking the best treatment for another.

Prior to this, after the premature death of our mother twenty-three years ago, my younger sister and I became chief health advocates on behalf of our 98 year old grandmother.  (Yes, our maternal grandmother survived our mother by two and a half months!)

Life has a way of revolving in cycles, doesn’t it?  If you live long enough, cycles repeat themselves and you glean important lessons and wisdom.

I am thankful for the lessons of faith, courage, patience and compassion that I have learned over the years.  When we are facing the storms of life, it is very unpleasant and we look for the nearest exit.  But, if we keep our eyes focused on the God who calms the seas, our faith will grow and we will be stronger because of it.

When we were rear ended by a drunk driver in May 2014, I determined very early on that I would focus on the positives.  I was keenly aware that my children were watching my responses to the situation and that by highlighting the pain and negativity, it would only serve to prolong our healing process.

Sometimes we need to reframe a situation, to step back and focus on the unchanging truth of the Bible and God’s promises to be with us.

During difficult times, it is helpful to keep a “Thankfulness” journal.  It is hard to remain discouraged when we keep our sight on God’s blessings.

Each of us have much to be thankful for.  Sometimes it’s a matter of perspective.  We need to realize that while we may have needs and wants, most of us are more wealthy than a large percentage of the world.

Often, the feeling of being out of control is a seed of discouragement.  To counteract this, concentrate on what you can do to improve the situation.

Yes, you can’t change your spouse, but you can work on you.

Yes, you may not be able to avoid surgery, but you can occupy your mind with positive things in the meantime.

Yes, you can’t make the neighbor turn down their loud, obnoxious music, but you can turn on your favorite music and work on a hobby that brings you joy.

Yes, you can’t make your co-workers like you, but you can invest your efforts in being the best employee possible.

I’m not suggesting mind over matter.  I’m suggesting changing your focus/mind in order to change your reality and future.  Life’s realities often begin in the mind.

I am reminded of a story I heard a while back:

A lady who happened to be blind was being relocated to a new room in a retirement home.  A nurse asked her how she felt about this change as she was about to be taken to her new living quarters.  The blind lady replied, “Oh, I absolutely love it!”  The nurse was astounded.  How could you love it already?  The blind lady said, “I already made up my mind that it’s going to be wonderful.”

Her situation hadn’t changed.  She remained blind.  But she was not blind to the fact that she should have a positive mindset in order to be happy.  I think that’s where many of us flub up.  When bad things happen, instead, we tend to focus on all the negative things and lose sight of the possibilities of a positive outcome.

So, if you find yourself in a raging battle today, friend, remember that, “This too shall pass.”

I think that’s another fallacy we often believe.  Life is ever changing.  Bad things come and go.  Good things come and go.  Ebbs and flows.

We will be in a better position to face today’s battle if we remember, like the Israelites did in the Old Testament, all of the previous battles along with their lessons.  They would build monuments in the desert where God performed miracles in previous battles.  We, too, should do the same.  Remind ourselves that the same God who delivered before, will again, deliver us!

“Then they cried unto the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them out of their distresses.”

 ~ Psalm 107:6

 

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This World is Not Our Home

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Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you.  For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions.  These are not from the Father, but are from the world.  And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave.  But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.

~ I John 2:15-17

It often amazes me the hold “pop culture” has on believers.  Recently, I’ve noticed that during the Pastor’s sermon when he references a popular actor or actress in making a point, the reaction and connection of the congregation is very engaging.  They can totally understand the Pastor’s point.  He has broken it down into terms they identify with.

Now, there is nothing wrong with being familiar with the latest movies or t.v. series necessarily (unless they are in opposition with the Word of God, that is).  But, the issue is what captivates our attention?  What holds our hearts?  Are we devoting equal or greater time to studying God’s Word, the message of Good News, so we may be strengthened in our faith?  Are we who we say we are on Sunday… on Monday through Saturday?  This world is looking for authenticity.  Will they find it in us?  If not in us, who then?

I am a stubborn person.  Yes, it’s true.  So, I naturally dig my heels in when it comes to conforming to this world’s standards!  I refuse to be a cookie-cutter human doing.  I refuse to fall into the rut of looking like Barbie, wearing the latest color clothing someone has deemed to be the latest and greatest, behaving in a way to be accepted by society, listening to the most popular tunes and lyrics that are not edifying at all and, my personal favorite, looking out for #1 solely!  I refuse.  You know why I refuse?  Because I choose to base my life on the Word of God.  And the Word of God says that I am to be a “peculiar people”, “a royal priesthood”, a “holy people”, a “chosen generation” who are called out from among the world.

It says, “Do not be conformed to this world but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.” – Romans 12:2

We need to often remind ourselves that we are merely pilgrims passing through!  This world is not our home as Christians.  We have the hope of heaven in our hearts if we’ve accepted Jesus Christ as our personal Savior.  That is an exciting thought, my friend!

This world, with all of its problems,

is fading.  The Bible says that heaven and earth will pass away, but it’s His Word that will remain.

What are you investing in today?

Remember … This world is not our home!

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Merriest of Christmases to You!

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“For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
    Wonderful Counselor,

                                      Mighty God,
                                                          Everlasting Father,

                                                                                                Prince of Peace.”    

                                                                                                                                      ~ Isaiah 9:6

Just wanted to pop in real quick to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year!

What makes a Merry Christmas?  What are the prime ingredients?

Is it the presents wrapped with beautiful paper and tied with elegant bows?  Is it found in owning the latest in technology?  Or can it be found under the Christmas tree at all?

I have received my Christmas gift already but it wasn’t wrapped or nestled under the glowing lights.

The greatest gift of all is found in knowing the love that God so extravagantly displayed in sending His one and only Son into this depraved world so that He would grow into a man, who would take our sins away and put us in right relationship with the Father.

That is the message of the Gospel.

It isn’t complicated.  It is simple.  God loved.  God gave.

It is up to us whether or not to receive such a priceless gift, the gift of spending eternity with God.

It’s just that simple.

Man tends to complicate matters, but the message of the Bible remains unchanged, unaltered throughout the ages.  It’s the message that you are a valuable soul and God loves you too much to spend eternity apart!

Won’t you accept Him today?

If you already have, then you have all that is necessary to have the Merriest of Christmases!  Jesus, the perfect Gift!

To top it off, on a personal note…

Our family has sold our house and recently moved 1,000 miles to be near our grown son.  We could not be happier to be spending our first Christmas together in the same area.  (More on our big move to come…)

To all my WP friends, new or old, here’s wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year in 2015!

“And, now my brothers, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospers.”  ~ III John 2

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