Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Only Time We Ever Have

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

1. The Only Time We Ever Have

"Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation."1

In his sermon, "Obedience," Warren Lamb said, "I used to have problems getting my son to clean his room. I would insist that he, 'Do it now,' and he would always agree to do so, but then he wouldn't follow through—at least, not right way.

"After high school, he joined the Marine Corps, which is where he is now. When he and I were on the plane together coming home for his leave after Boot Camp, he said to me, 'My life makes sense now, Dad. Everything you said and did when I was growing up now makes sense. I really, really understand.'

"'Oh yeah, Dad,' he added. 'I learned what 'now' means.'"2

For all of us, the only time we ever have is now.

If God is urging you to make amends with a friend or loved one, do it now. If there is a job or responsibility you have been putting of, do it now. If God is calling you to accept his gift of salvation, remember NOW is the day of salvation. Be sure to do this today. For help go to: http://tinyurl.com/8glq9 to read, "How to Be Sure You're a real Christian Without Having to Be Religious"

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, thank you for your Word that reminds me that the day of salvation is now—today. Please help me to do today what is the most important thing in my life, and especially to make sure my life is right with you. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully in Jesus name, amen."

1. 2 Corinthians 6:2 (NKJV).
2. Warren Lamb, www.sermoncentral.com


Friday, April 25, 2008

The Empty Promise of Promiscuity

Friday, April 25, 2008

1. The Empty Promise of Promiscuity

Jesus said, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."1

"Recently I've become promiscuous," began 20-year-old Ellen's sad email. "I've been boy crazy for as long as I can remember. My father left my life when I was twelve. My mom worked long hours and had little time for my brother and me after our parents divorced. I don't understand why I feel I can't function without a significant other in my life. I had a baby when I was 16, married at 17, and now I'm 20 and divorced. I'm searching for a 'soul mate' and I'm in love with the idea of love. It's ruining my morals and my values. I feel empty. Can you help?"

The above message was sent to a counselor friend of mine, Dr. Bruce Narramore. Tragically, situations like this in today's permissive society are far too common where so many lonely people seek to fill the empty void and hunger in their heart with false substitutes such as meaningless sex and empty relationships—both of which serve only to increase their sense of despair.

Bruce said, "I encouraged Ellen to seek help to gain an understanding of some of the causes of her problems. I pointed out how the void left by losing her dad and mom programmed her to feel an unusually deep need for human connection which was probably the driving force behind her promiscuity and excessive need for a man in her life. I also told her she could never fill the void coming from those childhood losses through a sexual relationship or even through marriage. We can't fill childhood voids with adult relationships. That is like pouring water through sand. The water is temporarily cooling but soon vanishes. If Ellen doesn't reverse this pattern, she will go through life trying to find the parents she lost through one tragic relationship after another.

"Ironically, not until Ellen becomes emotionally and spiritually strong enough to live without a man will she be ready for a healthy relationship. At that point she will be a mature adult ready for an adult relationship, rather than an emotional child searching for a lost daddy. And she will no longer 'be in love with the idea of love' which is simply a childish fantasy. Instead, she will be ready to love and be loved by a real person."2

Fortunately, Ellen admitted that she had a problem and needed help. She did seek counseling to help her resolve her childhood losses. We trust that she is now well on the road to recovery and ready for healthy relationships. Ellen's situation is a reminder to all who have unresolved losses that they also need to resolve their losses so they can get off the endless merry-go-round of seeking to fill the empty void in their heart by looking for love in all the wrong faces and places and by trying to fill their void with "things" instead of healthy relationships.

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please help me to admit to any unhealthy relationships and/or behaviors in my life, see the cause/s of these, and find the help I need to overcome so that I will grow in maturity and learn to fully live and fully love so my life will be a clean channel through which your love can flow to others. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully in Jesus name, amen."

1. Matthew 11:28 (NIV).
2. Narramore, Bruce, Project Letter of the Narramore Christian Foundation.


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

What a Good Church Can Do for You, Part III

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

1. What a Good Church Can Do for You, Part III

"Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching."1

Yesterday we pointed out three more benefits of a good church: friendship and a sense of belonging; personal care; and discovering a sense of inner peace and strength.

Regarding the latter, one hard-working electrical contractor explained his feeling this way, "I was tired of the everyday grind. I really felt all along that there was something missing. I went to church as a youth just about every Sunday. I went to boot camp. And then I lost it. I couldn't put my finger on it, even though I tried and tried again. My children started going to Sunday School, my wife started, and I said, 'Maybe this is what I'm missing.' So I tried it, and it was."2

Finding God and his will for your life. There are many more benefits gained from belonging to a good church, not the least being: learning about God; experiencing meaningful worship; finding inspiration and help for daily living; and having an opportunity to use your abilities to serve others.

Perhaps the most important benefit of all is that in a good church one can find God … and his will and direction for one's life.

The Gallup poll mentioned earlier also brought out an interesting facet of American life. At the time of this poll 61 percent of all Americans aged 18 and above want to follow God's will.

With God, life (even with all its hurts and frustrations) becomes more meaningful and purposeful. Furthermore, with God one can find forgiveness for all his sins and wrong-doing, make his or her peace with him, and receive the hope of eternal life.

Belonging to a good church is so beneficial for both individuals and families that it is well worth finding a church where leaders and members not only love God and believe and teach his Word, but also where they are loving, accepting, and non-judgmental; where they present grace with truth; and where they are committed to ministering to each others' needs. That's why God designed the church.

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, thank you above all that in a good church I can find you. Thank you, too, that a good church gives me a safe place to learn more about you, study your Word, discover your will for my life, share my struggles and failures, grow in maturity, faith, love and every grace, and find an opportunity to serve you by serving others. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully in Jesus name, amen."

1. Hebrews 10:25 (NIV).
2. Why People Join the Church, p. 105-106.


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

What a Good Church Can Do for You, Part II

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

1. What a Good Church Can Do for You, Part II

"They [the early disciples of Jesus] devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer."1

Yesterday we pointed out that one of the major benefits of a good church was improved family life.

Friendship. Two more important benefits provided by the church are friendship and a sense of belonging.

In their book, Growth, a New Vision for the Sunday School, Charles Arn, Donald McGavran, and Win Arn emphasize the important part that friendship plays in a live and growing church. Surveys and personal interviews have shown that this is what attracts most people and what keeps them actively involved. In fact, the number one reason people gave for joining a new church home was "the friendliness of the people."

Personal care. Another benefit of the church is its care for and support of its members.

I've belonged to churches where members band together to care for the sick, provide volunteer therapy for the handicapped, take meals to the shut-in, provide homes for the poor, give care to the aged, and provide social activities for the youth.

One church I belonged to sponsored a divorce and grief recovery program, and provided support groups for parents of teens and pre-teens, for codependents, for singles, for helping people with sexual, drug and alcohol addictions, for incest and rape victims, for those with eating disorders, and care groups for everybody in the entire church.

Inner peace and strength. It is true that some people go to church for false motives, but most, like me, are people who have blown it at times, who have fallen and made mistakes, are struggling to become the person they feel God wants them to be, and know if they are going to make it, they need a power greater than their own.

They go to church because here, in spite of their failures, they have found not only forgiveness and acceptance, but also a sense of inner peace knowing that their life is right with God, and strength to help them cope with the struggles of life.

To be concluded …

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, thank you that a good church provides wonderful friendships, a place where members truly care for one another, and a sense of inner peace and strength that comes from meaningful worship with fellow believers. Please help me not only to be a receiver of these benefits but also a giver to others so that they, too, will experience all of these benefits. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully in Jesus name, amen."

1. Acts 2:42 (NIV).


Monday, April 21, 2008

What a Good Church Can Do for You, Part I

Monday, April 21, 2008

1. What a Good Church Can Do for You, Part I

"Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching."1

Leon Norsworthy, a very successful family man and business leader, was promoted to the directorship of a national organization—a promotion which involved a move to another city for him and his family.

Before buying a new home in the general vicinity of his work and moving his family, however, Leon and his wife, Sally, did an interesting thing. They first looked for a good church, and when they found the one they felt would best meet their family needs, they then bought a house close to the church.

They did this because they have experienced the benefits of belonging to a good church and realize its importance for personal, family and spiritual life.

The Norsworthys aren't alone in their feelings about the church. In fact, 120 million or 61 percent of Americans belong to a church. What other volunteer organization can boast such a following?

True, every church has some weaknesses and some churches suit some people more than others, but for the church to survive for 2,000 years and continue to thrive as it has, there has to be many benefits to attract and hold its vast following. The following are some of the most important ones:

Improved family life. A Gallup poll showed that the number one personal need expressed by 82 percent of the American adult population was having a "good family life."

Many people besides the Norsworthys believe the church helps make for a good family life. In a special study, Edward A. Rauff, director of the Research and Information Center of the Lutheran Church Council in the U.S.A., found that the dominant reason a high percentage of the respondents gave for establishing a relationship with a church was "to keep the family together and to strengthen family life."2

That the church helps strengthen family life is supported by a study conducted by sociologist Steven Nock of the University of Virginia. His conclusions showed that couples who attend church regularly are 42 percent more likely to be married for the first time, and those in the church who were committed to its beliefs had a 23 percent better chance of having a "very happy" marriage than those who don't go to church.

To be Continued…

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, thank you that you designed the church, not only for your people to worship you together, but also to help meet many needs of the body of Christ—your Church. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully in Jesus name, amen."

1. Hebrews 10:25 (NIV).
2. Why People Join the Church, p. 73.


Thursday, April 17, 2008

What Is Sin?

Thursday, April 17, 2008

1. What Is Sin?

"For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."1

What is sin and why does God hate it?

Someone has argued if God is the creator of all things then he must have created sin. Actually, sin, as another has suggested is not a "created" thing at all. It is an action on our part or a failure to act as we know we ought to act or behave. God created people but he didn't create sin or sinners. Sinners are people who have chosen to go their own way rather than God's way. It's the same with evil. It is the evil actions of people who have chosen to do evil things that make them evil.

In the Bible there are three facets to sin. First has to do with breaking God's laws that are found in his Word, the Bible. Second applies to rebelling against God and going one's own sinful way. And third has to do with falling short of God's standard of perfection; that is, being less than whole and all that God envisioned for us to be. The latter also includes sins of omission—not doing what we know we should do—as well as sins of commission.

And why does God hate sin so vehemently? Because it destroys those whom God loves—us. It causes us to be spiritually dead, and separates us from the God who created and loves us, and dooms us to a lost eternity in the place the Bible calls hell—whatever and wherever that may be.

While sin totally destroys those whom God loves, his mercy and love have provided a way of escape from sin's destructive consequences for all who put their trust in him and become a true Christ follower or Christian. For help to be sure you are a real Christian go to: http://tinyurl.com/8glq9.

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please help me to understand the totality of sin, its devastating consequences, and why you hate and despise it. Help me also to understand your plan of salvation and deliverance from sin's dreadful consequences through Jesus Christ and be absolutely sure that I have accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior and have received your gift of forgiveness and eternal life. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully in Jesus name, amen."

1. Romans 6:23 (NIV).


Tennessee or Bust

The following true life story, "Tennessee or Bust" is from the wife of my Christian friend and Tennessee always reminds me of Linda Bruce and my favourite Granola Bars she always brought for me whenever she came to Nigeria.

You should sit back and read it.

By Pastor Laura Rizzo

One of the worst and yet rather humorous times of our Christian training began in 1986 in Florida and took us on a journey to Greeneville, Tennessee. Amazingly we saw the mighty, miraculous and sovereign hand of God intervene in our lives repeatedly and learned some incredible lessons along the way…

We married in 1985 and at the end of our first year an offer came our way to live rent free, work at and be the Chaplains of a campground in Naples, Florida. To us this would be a very easy way to save money and I was always open for a change in scenery. Thinking we had nothing to lose, we had an interview with the park managers which proved to be very pleasant as the meeting was held in their lovely double-wide mobile home. They seemed so nice and reasonable and discussing our future positions seemed like such an effortless, natural choice and something we were meant to do all along.

Upon returning home we decided to vacate our lovely brand new apartment in Fort Myers to pursue this opportunity and were excited about embarking on this new adventure.

Our first day there was like a slap in the face. First off, we didn’t pay much attention to the camper that the managers had planned for us to reside in which was a gross oversight on our part. The interview was so “deceiving” that we just expected their camper to be as nice as their home. Wrong!! Upon exploring this tiny, filthy, horrifying mess, I immediately burst into tears at the sight and smell of it. By now it was too late to do anything about it as we had already given up our apartment, put all our furniture in storage and had made the commitment to take these positions. Was this a hint of things to come? You be the judge.

The day after that we started our jobs. My position at the campground was an office check-in clerk for the campers and Vince’s job was grounds maintenance and getting the campers settled onto their sites. Our next problem was that we naively believed the managers would uphold the terms for the positions we agreed to. As it turned out, completely contrary to our agreement, we worked every weekend, every Sunday and every holiday so in comparison to that, the filthy, small camper was soon insignificant. As time went on we just became more miserable and were certain that we’d made a grave mistake in our choice to go there. We then began fervently praying that God would do something—quick!!!

Customarily God rarely, if EVER, moves quickly and even if He does, its usually never within our time frame so while we were waiting for God to answer our prayers Vince happened to notice a 45 foot, 1961 International school bus that was for sale in the back of the campground.

Upon seeing it he sensed that God wanted us to have it so he actually just went and laid hands on it and asked the Lord for it. Within a few days he saw the man who owned it, spoke with him and we got a tour of it. The owner had been converting it to a camper and it had bunk beds for their kids, a customized kitchen table booth, a mid-sized refrigerator, a small kitchen sink, a small porta potty, (funny I never noticed it didn’t have a shower!!) and at this point I was open to WHATEVER would take us away from this cursed campground.

As we began to discuss the deal, we offered the man my car for an even-trade deal as it was a rather nice car, but he really wanted the Volkswagen camper we had. It was only three years old and a dear lady in our church, by direction of the Lord, had packed the thing to the full with everything anyone would ever need to go camping and then had given it to us free and clear. When he suggested that, a thrill came into my soul at the thought of blessing this man as he had a wife and kids and only had a moped (a tiny motor bike) to go to work, do errands, go grocery shopping and he owned nothing he could use to take his whole family anywhere.

Apparently God had intended all along for this man to have that camper van and everything in it as once we completed the deal, he radiated with joy and was praising God for this wonderful transaction. We too, were exceedingly happy and joyful especially since we could move out of the manager’s stinky camper!!

As it was now June of 1987, we spent several weeks working on the bus to complete the conversion and it took much longer than we expected because the heat and humidity were over 95 sweltering degrees each day. Between the heat and sweating profusely we both were exhausted by noon each day. Our upgrade included installing a window air conditioner unit in the back door window and we half killed ourselves getting a king sized bed in the back door of the bus and I wouldn’t suggest that maneuver to anyone!!! Just envision the three stooges taking on that task and it was us!!

Finally finishing the conversion, it was now time to take her out and see what she could do!! Upon our first jaunt with the bus one Sunday afternoon we were traveling towards the Everglades on a two-lane road, and had only gone a few miles when smoke began pouring out from under the hood. I pulled over onto an almost non-existent shoulder that almost dumped us into a canal and Vince leaped out, opened the hood and as he did the engine burst into flames!!!

In panic, he ran back into the bus and grabbed the fire extinguisher which he had just installed the day before, but he couldn’t get it to work!! Yikes!! Then I panicked, ran out and grabbed the extinguisher and began frantically reading the directions to operate it. At that point, Vince’s stress level went into overload and he promptly began losing his lunch on the side of the road as I finally managed to put out the fire!!

Thinking back, it must have been quite a quandary for the passers-by as they were probably quite confused as to which to respond to – the fire or Vince’s performance so no one stopped at all to help us!!!

Anyway, completely exhausted but relieved we crawled back into the bus and just sat there getting our breath when a kind, Florida Highway Patrolman traveling in the opposite direction did and u-turn and stopped to help us. He used his radio to call headquarters to get in touch with the seller who paid for the miraculous, minimal damage and we were on our way in no time!! (The miracles were starting already!)

At least now we knew the bus was roadworthy but we still needed to hear from God what to do about leaving the campground. About a week or two later one Sunday after one of our church services, a little lady told us about a place called Horse Creek in upper East Tennessee that was run by the U. S. Department of Forestry and she said we could possibly be campground hosts there and have a similar living situation there.

Well, that was music to my ears as we couldn’t wait to leave this campground and the annoying managers who had lied to us about everything. We immediately began praying about this and on Monday we called the Dept. of Forestry. They said they would love to have us come right away and informed us that their campground was in the Appalachian Mountains and that they had three huge swimming pools!!!—imagine that!! Not having been to Tennessee before, I immediately had visions of the kind of scenery of Oregon and of the Florida style of three lovely concrete swimming pools – how elegant and dreamy!!!

Finally, we were ready to make the trip and we had both quit our jobs and had purchased walkie-talkies to communicate to each other on the trip. Vince drove my car and I drove the bus as I had had extensive experience driving trucks and had my Chauffeur’s license for five years as I had worked outside construction related jobs before I met him.

Once we left Fort Myers I was as happy as a lark. The trek to Horse Creek was fairly uneventful until we were about six hours south of Atlanta when I heard a big bang from the engine. I radioed Vince and we both pulled over to check it out. As he walked up to the bus, he noticed that there was oil all down the outside of it. He opened the hood, looked around the engine, and not being a mechanic, he closed it, wiped the oil off of it, placed his hands on it and prayed that God would heal it – and God did just that!! (Acts 28:8). We never had a bit of trouble with it from that time on and we arrived at our destination safe and sound six hours later.

However, by the time we reached our destination MY stress level had gone into overload. Each time I called the Dept. of Forestry they could not give me exact directions to the campground!!! Each time I hung up the pay phone I was scratching my head in unbelief asking myself why couldn’t they just tell me where their campground was?? – after all they lived in Tennessee and they should know where their own campground was!!!

Unbeknownst to us many of the roads in Tennessee seem to have been designed and constructed by persons under the influence of alcoholic substances or if you prefer, moonshine!! The roads continue endlessly curling and winding for miles and miles. It turned out that Horse Creek was at the furthest end of one of these roads and was a place less than your average “Mayberry” with the nearest town being 18 miles away!!!

The campground itself was at the base of a huge mountain with ten tent campsites and we soon learned there were NO showers, one OUTHOUSE and NO lights within 500 feet anywhere. And as for the “three swimming pools”? These were nothing but holes in the ground about 8 to 10 feet deep with freezing ice cold, mountain stream water running through them and…where we would have to bathe for the next three months!!!!!!!!! We realized we were totally unprepared for camping up north and my dreamy visions of Oregon and elegant swimming pools turned into nightmares of “WHAT’S NEXT?”

After coming all this way, this was our future. I really remember quoting that line that has the fire and the frying pan in it and the phrase, “What were we thinking?” Here we were again faced with inconceivable, uncontrollable living conditions which we had to accept. I could handle the darkness outside as we did have power to our site and we were still in contact with the civilized world because the rangers installed a phone for us but I didn’t handle the outhouse issue well and as for bathing in water day in and day out that wasn’t frozen just because it was running downhill?? That was another issue altogether!!!!

Needless to say, we didn’t bathe TOO much and fortunately there weren’t too many campers down wind of us. And using the small porta potty we had meant Vince had to dump it in the outhouse every few days – that was another nightmare I totally chose to ignore. When we did have to bathe, our normal bath time schedule in 30 degree weather was:

1. Put our bathing suits on under our clothes and jackets.
2. Wait till it was so dark you couldn’t see your hand in front of your face.
3. Take a large towel and bar of soap and your flip flops or sandals.
4. Use a large flashlight to run to the creek.
5. Strip down and jump in while screaming at the top of your lungs to dull the shock.
6. Jump out to lather up.
7. Jump in again while screaming even louder to rinse off.
8. Jump back out and hold the flashlight so the other person could do the same thing.
9. Run like crazy back to the bus without falling and freezing!!
10. Pile tons of blankets on us to keep from hypothermia!!

The upside was that bathing outside at night, makes one very glad that there are no lights within 500 feet!!!

We spent our days praying and worshiping God and studying and job hunting. We found that the norm for Tennessee is to hire and lay off all the same people year after year at all the factories because most of these folks are very clannish. That means if you weren’t born there they didn’t give outsiders a second thought. So here we were in another impossible situation where we had to pray and wait on God –again!!

One thing we really learned was how to trust God and trust that He could take care of us regardless of the situation. We still had some bills from Florida but being caretakers of this campground meant we had no overhead except for food and gas but we were learning that if God could take care of the birds of the air like He said in Matthew 6:25-34, that He could take care of us. And God was there to meet us many, many times.

To most people no jobs mean no money for food, gas or bills, but to us, this is God’s perfect recipe for a miracle. To us this is a time of sheer excitement as we wait to see God open His miraculous hand and make a way where there seems to be no way.

However, it may sound like that was an easy formula to receiving from God but it was incredible training for us which I called the “fumes of faith” because there were times that I thought WE WOULD PERISH!! And, when it comes to perishing I always think of Queen Esther in the Bible when she was positioned to intercede for the lives of the entire Jewish nation. The risk she took to go to the king with her petition to repeal a law to annihilate her people was a life and death decision she had to make whether she died doing it or not. She trusted God to see her through this and so did we.

Sometimes when we thought all was lost and that we would perish, we would come home from job hunting and find another miracle had taken place such as the day we came home and the whole one side of our entire bus was lined with huge grocery bags full of fresh vegetables of all kinds that came from the park rangers. There were about 20 bags in all. We were totally in awe of what God was doing as we told no one but God of our needs. We had been at the end again with no money for food at all. We later learned that all the park rangers owned and ran farms and worked at several different parks part time. In our greatest hour of need God had orchestrated these people to bless us during our times of despair.

As Day Light Savings Time was ended, it was getting darker sooner so we mentioned to the Dept. of Forestry just how dark the park was and they placed a large light fixture behind our bus which was just outside our bedroom air conditioner. This was rather comforting to us as the woods at the base of this huge mountain in the park rendered everything pitch black once the sun set.

However, we really hadn’t thought far enough ahead on this because being that this light was THE ONLY LIGHT IN THE PARK, we were awakened in the middle of the night to find whole families of crickets leaping through the air conditioner vent onto our king size bed!!

Half asleep, half laughing, swatting and beating the sheets we attempted to rid ourselves of over 50 of the noisy creatures who were having a grand time invading our nocturnal bliss!! I finally yelled for Vince to go outside and shut off the light to keep the rest of the cricket population from coming in. Getting back to sleep many hours later I recall even laughing in my sleep after this crazy episode. We saw this as God bringing us moments of laughter from the smallest things to keep us from discouragement and from giving up.

One day in November we discovered a local tent revival. The 30 degree weather rendered very small crowds and we noticed they were getting very small offerings as well. The small crowds made it easy for us to get acquainted with the lady preacher and we found that she too was living by faith. She then invited Vince to preach the last night of the revival.

That evening at the revival Vince sensed that the Lord wanted him to pledge to give her and her team $50.00. We didn’t have $5.00 let alone $50.00, but we knew that we served a faithful God and that He would provide. When the last night of the revival came, we still didn’t have the pledge but Vince went and preached till they were cheering and receiving from God. In fact, the lady preacher was so kind that she had all the attendees come forward and give us an offering as they left and not having ever experienced that type of offering before we just stuffed the money into our pockets.

Later when it was all over, Vince pulled $50.00 out of his pockets for her and we discovered that between the two of us we still had $290.00 left over which to us was a gold mine!! This was just enough for us to pay our few bills, get food and gas, go out to dinner and wait on God again for the next provision. Our hearts were overflowing with joy and excitement that God had met our needs, again!!

Our job hunting finally proved successful when I was hired as a secretary at a local church. The pastor could only pay me $4.00 per hour and I could only afford to work part time three days a week because each trip was 36 miles so it was rather costly. For three months we lived on about $40.00 per week!!!!

On some of those pay days, I remember walking up and down the grocery aisles tears streaming down my face wondering how we could conceivably survive and trying to reason how we would ever have enough money for gas and food, the bills and incidentals. The impossibility of it all was overwhelming and each week I would VERY carefully choose what we could afford and we always tithed $4.00 per week at the church as well. Trust me when I say that it is terribly hard on your flesh to tithe $4.00 per week when you are only making $40.00 per week but we found joy in giving to God as we saw Him lovingly provide for us time and time again.

But, don’t you know that if Jesus could feed 5,000 from one loaf of bread and two little fish that he could care for us just fine on $40.00 per week!!! He multiplied our loaves and fishes each and every week!!!! God would even put us before people who were making much more money per week than us but would be in terrible financial situations. They were living in fear as they did not have enough money to feed their kids and this one family of five we knew were living on was ice milk as the father worked at a dairy.

We would then be able to witness to them and testify how powerfully and faithfully God had provided for us and taken care of us when we put Him first in our lives. These same people would then financially bless us out of their extreme need and the next time we would see them, they had a testimony to tell of the goodness of God in His care and provision for them as well!!! In fact the next week the husband got a promotion and a raise!! When we honor God in all we do, He will honor us in due time.

Now as it turned out, Vince could not find a job so he had the privilege of staying home and praying and seeking the Lord and God would just manifest himself to him and be so real to Vince that he was incredibly encouraged and would then encourage me through the rough times.

Periodically we would get invitations to preach at local churches, which was the result of Vince’s time spent in prayer. The opportunities helped us form local friendships and provided some funding as the churches responded with some support.

By now winter was fast approaching and the situation was getting steadily MORE uncomfortable and annoying. The November-December temperatures were so cold that the mountain stream we bathed in felt like needles piercing your skin. By the time we would run back to the bus, we were so frozen that we had to stack layers of blankets on both of us to be able to stand it. The water actually felt so cold that one time Vince had a terrible headache and he dove in and practically flew out of the water and then realized his headache was completely gone!! (Either that or he was so cold he couldn’t feel it any longer!!)

Anyway, the next problem was that the campground we were in was now closing and we had to relocate to another park. In fact, it was so late in the season that when we moved to this new park we were the ONLY ones there and it was scheduled to close within two weeks. The hand of the Lord also gave us favor there as the park managers allowed us to stay free of charge!

We set up camp as usual but at least this place had hot showers – what a wonderful luxury!!!! But then the trials and challenges began again. This time we faced black spiders with fuzzy white hair on their backs that seemed to be everywhere. One day while doing the dishes I was rinsing a dish when I looked up and here was one of these spiders dangling from the shelving unit above the sink right in front of my nose!! I gasped in sheer horror and it was just enough to get him to drop down in the dishwater right where I wanted him. I thank my God that I didn’t inhale any harder or that thing would have gone right down my throat, hair and all!!

As the days passed it even got colder and we had to run two space heaters all night long because school buses have no insulation. If it was 20 degrees outside it was just about that cold inside and you could see your breath if you sat up in bed.

One night it was just too much for our generator and we woke up to the sounds of explosions and flashing lights on the left side of the bus. Afraid to look but praying it just may be something else besides our bus exploding, we dared to peek outside the curtains to realize that the power box under the bus was self-destructing right before our very eyes at 3:00 in the morning!!

Yes, it was July in Christmas – the 4th of July!! Streams of objects were shooting into the night air with great beams of light that were projecting into the pitch blackness at accelerating speeds. Booms of bangs were piercing the silence of the night as we watched our only source of heat go up in a blaze of glory. I remember just rolling my eyes back, looking over at Vince and pulling the covers over my head and saying, “We’ll just deal with it in the morning!” It was just easier to forget it all and sleep in denial for the rest of the night.

In the morning after investigating everything, we discovered that besides the power box dying that all the water pipes had frozen and burst. At this point we were at our wits end. We again were at the place of no money at all. We managed to temporarily fix things but our attitudes were really beginning to lean towards the disgusted side.

Then at around 11:00 p.m. the very last night the campground was open, we got a knock on our door and were very surprised to see a couple from the tent revival who came to see us and they wanted prayer. (We didn’t remember mentioning it, but we must have told the lady preacher where we were going to move to so she must have told them where we were.)

We were really not in the mood to pray for anyone but we did all the while I was trying to be sensitive to God to see what He would have me bless them with because they were the poorest people at the revival – they put coins into our hands when the lady preacher told everyone to give us an offering as they left the revival!!)

Anyway, God did not tell me to give them anything and spent some time with them, offered them some refreshments and then we said our goodbyes. Once they left Vince went back to being disgusted. Two minutes later I heard another knock at the door and it was the wife of the couple and she shoved something in my hand and I just said “Thank you” to her as I thought it was probably a one dollar bill. We again said goodbye, I shut the door and Vince came out to see who it was just as I opened my hand to see a $100.00 bill!!! We both were just completely stunned. I think I muttered “The wife just gave me this.” I think we just stood there about five minutes just starring at it not believing that poor little lady had given us that much money!!! Then we both did the dance of joy!!! We were just beside ourselves and thanked God and rejoiced all over the place and we slept very well that night as I recall!!

The next day all of a sudden Vince wondered whether the couple had mistakenly given us their rent money in the dark!! We had no idea where they lived or worked and looked for them for a while. Not finding them we went ahead and purchased food and gas and ran into a couple of women who were in the praise and worship team from the church we had been attending and I had been working at. They inquired how we were doing and they just happened to be the managers of an apartment complex just outside of town and by that night we had put a deposit on an apartment and had moved into it and had traded the bus for a nice car at a used car lot in town.

Interestingly enough, the next time we saw the couple that had given us the $100.00, Vince immediately asked them if they had mistakenly given us their rent money. The husband spoke up and said that when they walked outside of our camper and were getting ready to leave, they were in their car figuring out how much money to give us when they looked out toward the woods and saw a pure, white dove fly out of the woods and land on the top of our bus. As soon as they saw that, the wife ran to give us the $100.00!!

In a tiny moment of time, through the most unexpected servants of God, He had provided all we needed. I couldn’t have been more surprised. When you are determined to submit yourself to God, He will shock you with His love at times. More and more He was showing us His absolute faithfulness and loving hand of provision. More and more we were learning to behave during the hard times by maintaining a good attitude and learning to control our emotions and feelings. When we were upset or angry with God and He would answer our prayers, we would feel so ashamed that we didn’t believe and have the faith that He would take care of us.

We were learning not to get upset but to worship and love Him with a joyful spirit continually regardless of what we were going through because we knew that if we didn’t have a good attitude that we weren’t being faithful to Him. If we praise Him before He answers, it proves that we really trust Him and have faith that He is able to deliver us and keep us because He is our portion, our strength, our deliverer, our provider, the rock of our salvation in whom we can trust completely!!!

It is a wondrous thing to fall in love with the one I call Daddy God. Growing up, my brother and I never had a father image in our family – my mom brought us up all alone and Vince also had a very difficult youth as well. Father is a name neither of us could relate to but God cared for us so deeply that He revealed Himself in ways of love we never expected. Getting to know God as a real father is an incredible privilege and honor. We found the heart of God in the midst of desperation and looking back I know it was worth every moment of that desperation because soon, it wasn’t about the money, it wasn’t about jobs or preaching engagements, it was about falling in love with a God who not only gave His own Son but continued to give and give and give.

This whole journey was meant to pull us much deeper than survival or supply, it all was meant to create deep within us an unrelenting passion and devotion to the One and Only God who is alive forevermore and who loves us beyond all intellect, all knowledge, all circumstance, all there is.



Posted By Orikinla Osinachi. to Kisses & Roses at 4/17/2008 02:55:00 AM

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Clergy Sex Abuse Victims List 'America's Worst Cardinals'

16 Apr 2008 10:00 Africa/Lagos

SNAP: Clergy Sex Abuse Victims List 'America's Worst Cardinals'

Group cites 5 prelates who are mishandling child molestation

SNAP wants Pope to 'show he means business' by censuring 'at least one of them'

The cases show that 'church cover ups and recklessness continue,' self help group says

Heads of Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston and Boston archdioceses are criticized

WASHINGTON, April 16 /PRNewswire/ -- WHAT

At sidewalk news conferences, while holding signs and childhood photos, clergy sex abuse victims will

-- disclose a list of what they call 'America's five worst Cardinals' (in
terms of the sex abuse & cover-up scandal),
-- outline recent incidents by each that show their continuing
recklessness, secrecy and duplicity, and
-- publicly urge the Pope to chastise just one of them for the recent

Wednesday, April 16, from 1:00 p.m. until 2:30 p.m.


Outside the Guy Mason Recreation Center & Park (202-282-2180), 3600 Calvert NW (corner of Observatory Circle) in Washington DC


A handful of women and men who were molested as kids by Catholic clergy and who head a nationwide support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPnetwork.org)


Today, at 1:00 p.m., Pope Benedict meets with roughly 16 US Cardinals. A few blocks away, victims will hold 5 large signs, with color photos of (and fact sheets about) the five current US Cardinals who, they feel, have mishandled or are severely mishandling recent child sex abuse cases.

SNAP's focus is less on the cardinals' overall track record on child molestation and cover ups, but rather highlights the prelates' misdeeds since 2002, when the US bishops adopted an allegedly binding national sex abuse policy.

The list includes Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Houston, Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles, and Cardinal Sean O'Malley of Boston.

George is cited for ignoring the 2005 advice of his lay review board to suspend a young accused pedophile priest, Fr. Daniel McCormack, who'd been recently arrested because of abuse allegations. George kept McCormack in active parish ministry despite repeated reports of McCormack's suspected abuse (going back to his seminary days). Months later, prosecutors say he molested several boys, one "on an almost daily basis" until he was arrested again in 2006.

O'Malley is cited because last month, church officials disclosed that his archdiocese (the epicenter of the US abuse crisis) is in serious violation of the national sex abuse policy for the second year in a row. One in five Boston Catholic kids are not getting the sex abuse prevention training that was promised for each child by O'Malley and his peers six years ago.

The Pope/Cardinals meeting is at the Vatican Embassy on Massachusetts Avenue (in the residence across from the US Naval Observatory).

David Clohessy of St. Louis, SNAP national director 314 566 9790 cell
Peter Isely of Milwaukee, SNAP board chair emeritus 414 429 7259 cell
Barbara Blaine of Chicago, SNAP president 312 399 4747 cell
Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, SNAP 314 503 0003 cell

Source: SNAP

CONTACT: David Clohessy, national director, +1-314-566-9790, cell, or
Peter Isely, board chair emeritus, +1-414-429-7259, cell, or Barbara Blaine,
president, +1-312-399-4747, cell, or Barbara Dorris, +1-314-503-0003, cell,
all of SNAP

Web site:

Christian Worldview

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

1. Christian Worldview

"In the beginning God."1

We hear quite a bit these days about the worldview people have. Simply put, one's worldview is the way we view the world in which we live. It serves as a road map for one's life—the guide for the way we live and orchestrate our life. It has to do with one's belief system about the world in which we live.

A Christian worldview is based on reality—on truth—on truth as it is revealed and/or confirmed in God's Word, the Bible, which is the only viable source of truth that can realistically answer the four questions one's worldview takes into account. These questions are as follows:

"Where did I come from?
Why is the world in such a mess?
Is there a way to fix it?
Is there a purpose for my life?"2

First, where did I come from? The Christian believes that we came from God; that in the beginning he created all—including you and me. Because of this we are accountable to him and are morally responsible for all our actions.

Second, why is the world in such a mess? We believe that this is because of sin and evil which was introduced into the world by Satan the devil, a fallen angel, who wanted to dethrone God and become God himself. "I will become as the Most High," he said. Consequently he was dismissed from God's Heaven.3

Tragically, because mankind chose to disobey God's directions and follow Satan's, sin entered the entire human race. Because sin cannot exist and sinners cannot survive in the presence of a holy and just God, any more than a moth can survive in a flame, our sin has destined us to eternal separation from a just and holy God in the place the Bible calls hell—the place prepared for the devil and other fallen angels known as demons.

Third, is there an answer to mankind's dilemma—a way to fix our problem? Fortunately for mankind there is. As the Bible says, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son [Jesus Christ], that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."4

In other words, because God's justice required that the just judgment for all sin is death; that is, eternal separation from God the author of all love and life, God gave his only son, Jesus Christ, to die in our place to pay the just penalty for all our sin. Because of Christ's sacrifice God now offers to all who will accept it a free pardon and the gift of eternal life with God in Heaven forever. Based on the Word of God, Jesus Christ is God's only provision for mankind's sin, and the only way into God's Heaven.5

Fourth, is there a purpose for my life? According the Westminster Shorter Catechism, "Man's chief end [purpose] is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever." We glorify God by living a morally upright life, in loving God and worshipping God, by loving our neighbors as ourselves, and by our service to God. And we serve God primarily by using our God-given natural and spiritual gifts to serve others. The important thing is: do you know what your specific God-given life purpose is?

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, thank you that your word, the Bible, gives us the only secure road map for all of life's journey—from the cradle to the grave and beyond. Please help me to be certain my world view is in line with your Word so that I will live in harmony with your will here on earth and spend eternity with you in Heaven forever. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully in Jesus name, amen."

1. Genesis 1:1.
2. Chuck Colson, BreakPoint, http://www.breakpoint.org/generic.asp?ID=2541.
3. See Isaiah 14:12.
4. John 3:16 (NIV).
5. See John 14:6.


Monday, April 14, 2008

God's "Security" Team

Monday, April 14, 2008

1. God's "Security" Team

"When the Son of Man [Jesus Christ] returns, it will be like it was in Noah's day. In those days, the people enjoyed banquets and parties and weddings right up to the time Noah entered his boat and the flood came and destroyed them all."1

Bruce Ferris wrote, "My wife and I recently saw a television show on The History Channel titled, 'The Man Who Predicted 911.' Long before September 11th, Rick Rescorla, the 62-year-old head of security at the Morgan Stanley Bank, developed an evacuation plan for the bank. The bank's offices were situated high up in the South Tower at the World Trade Center. Rescorla was convinced that Osama Bin Laden would use jet planes to try and destroy the World Trade Center. The plan and its preparation were hugely unpopular with the Morgan Stanley staff, many of whom thought Rescorla was mad.

"On September 11, 2001, American Airlines Flight 11 hit World Trade Center Tower 1 at 8:46 am. Rick Rescorla ignored building officials' advice to stay put and began the orderly evacuation of Morgan Stanley's 2,800 employees on 20 floors of World Trade Center Tower 2, and 1,000 employees in WTC 5. Rescorla reminded everyone to 'be proud to be an American … everyone will be talking about you tomorrow,' and sang God Bless America and other songs over his bullhorn to help evacuees stay calm as they left the building. Rescorla had most of Morgan Stanley's 2800 employees as well as people working on other floors of WTC 2 safely out of the buildings by the time United Airlines Flight 175 hit WTC 2 at 9:07 a.m.

"After having reached safety, Rescorla returned to the building to rescue others still inside. He was last seen heading up the stairs of the tenth floor of the collapsing WTC 2. His remains were not recovered. As a result of Rescorla's actions, only six of Morgan Stanley's 2800 WTC employees were killed on September 11th, 2001, including Rick and three of his deputies who followed him back into the building.

"The remainder of this very moving broadcast focused on Morgan Stanley Bank employees who, now in tears, were praising and acknowledging Rick Rescorla for having saved their lives from total destruction that day. Many felt so guilty and apologetic [because] they had thought Rick foolish to keep preaching and standing for what he believed would happen if they were not ready. Those interviewed said they would never forget Rick Rescorla. He was their hero."2

The first coming of Jesus Christ is an indisputable fact of history. Be assured, his second coming will be just as certain. His first coming was to give his life to die on the cruel Roman cross to pay the just penalty for your sins and mine so we could receive God's forgiveness and his gift of eternal life. His second coming will be as King of kings and Lord of lords and to bring judgment on all who have failed or refused to accept God's warning and gift of forgiveness and salvation.

While ancient Noah built the ark he was mocked and ridiculed. None but his immediate family believed God's warning about the impending flood. And as Jesus has warned, it will be the same when he returns to judge the world and destroy all who have rejected his gift of salvation.

If you have never received God's offer of salvation, I urge you to do that today so you are ready for God's day of judgment. For help go to: tiny url and read, "How to Be Sure You're a real Christian Without Having to Be Religious."

On the other hand, if you have accepted Jesus as your Savior, will you be as a "Rick Rescorla" to help notify all in your circle of influence about the coming of God's judgment and the impending doom of all who refuse to accept God's free gift of salvation. For an extremely simple way to do this go to: Acts Web. And for those who live in the U.S. also go ActsCom to order a supply of the Good News business size witness cards to give to family, friends and contacts.

And will you help support the "Rick Rescorlas" who are on "God's security" team warning multitudes of people of God's coming judgment and are spreading God's good news of salvation around the world. To do this go to: Donate.

Think of all the people whose lives Rick Rescorla saved. You and I can do the same; that is, help save lives for all eternity. There is no greater privilege and responsibility in the entire world. Will you make this commitment today by genuinely praying the following prayer:

"Dear God, I am available. Please use me to be as a 'Rick Rescorla' and help save lives for all eternity. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully in Jesus name, amen."

1. Luke 17:26-27 (TLB).
2. Bruce Ferris, Sermon Central.


Friday, April 11, 2008

Count Your Blessings

Friday, April 11, 2008

1. Count Your Blessings

"It is good to praise the LORD and make music to your name, O Most High, to proclaim your love in the morning and your faithfulness at night."1

According to Michael Shannon, "In Reed, North Carolina, you will find the Reed gold mine. It was first excavated in 1799 when Conrad Reed discovered a strange rock on the Reed farm. In 1802, a jeweler in Fayetteville offered Reed $3.50 for the rock. It turns out the rock was gold and was actually worth $3,600 dollars. What did Reed do with the rock for three years? He used it as a doorstop at his house. How often are we oblivious to the true value of things?"2

I don't know about you but I find it all too easy to be blind to the endless blessings daily at my door step and take these for granted. I am afraid that this is especially so in much of the free world where most of us have never suffered real persecution, experienced terrorism first hand, gone hungry, been homeless, and pretty much have all of our personal needs and many of our wants—often extravagant wants—met.

And, tragically, here in the West so many feel that the world owes them a living. Too soon we forget that the freedoms we enjoy were paid dearly for us by previous generations—many of whom gave their lives to purchase our freedom. How soon we forget that "eternal vigilance is still the price of liberty [freedom]," and that "blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord."3

Every day I make an effort to thank God for all the incredible blessings that I experience daily. As the chorus of the old time hymn we used to sing with great enthusiasm in years gone by encourages:

Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.4

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please open the eyes of my understanding so that I will no longer be blind to the endless blessings you have given to me every day of my life. Most of all I thank you for the incredible blessing that you have given to all mankind—the blessing of giving your Son, Jesus, to die on the cross to pay the penalty for all our sins, and for your gift of forgiveness and that of eternal life. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully in Jesus name, amen."

1. Psalm 92:1-2 (NIV).
2. J. Michael Shannon, Source: Preaching.com http://tinyurl.com/2cxgrg
3. Psalm 33:12
4. Johnson Oatman, Jr.


Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Baby Got The Book - The Big Book

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

1. Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

"Don't fool yourselves. For if a person just listens and doesn't obey, he is like a man looking at his face in a mirror; as soon as he walks away, he can't see himself anymore or remember what he looks like."1

"Mirror, mirror on the wall ... lie to me!" Don't we sometimes wish?

Either fortunately or unfortunately, mirrors don't lie, unless, of course, the mirror is distorted. If so, its reflection will also be distorted. And if I am not true to my word and do what I say I am going to do, there is something distorted within me. As the old saying goes, "Talk is cheap." Keeping one's word and promises is a character trait to be highly valued. It is being authentic and maintaining integrity.

Unfortunately, it seems that keeping one's word for many anymore doesn't amount to too much. Like a worker I used some time ago who claimed to be involved in Promise Keepers. It was a joke. He rarely kept either his word or his promises. Sadly, a person who doesn't keep his word or his promises can't be relied upon. Neither can he be trusted. And a person who claims to be a Christian and doesn't genuinely and consistently seek to keep and obey God's Word can't be relied on either. Perhaps not trusted either?

As James said, "Don't fool yourselves. For if a person just listens and doesn't obey, he is like a man looking at his face in a mirror; as soon as he walks away, he can't see himself anymore or remember what he looks like. But if anyone keeps looking steadily into God's law for free men, he will not only remember it but he will do what it says, and God will greatly bless him in everything he does."2

If we are mature, we will act in a mature fashion. If we are responsible, we will act in a responsible manner. And if we are sincere and genuine, we will act accordingly and be known as men and women whose word is their bond.

For after all –
It's what we do
Not what we say –
That says the most of all.

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please help me to be a man/woman of my word and, with your help, one who seeks to obey your word. Always. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' Name. Amen."

1. James 1:22–24 (TLB).
2. James 1:22–25 (TLB).


Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Stepping out of One's Comfort Zone

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

1. Stepping out of One's Comfort Zone

"'Lord, if it's you,' Peter replied, 'tell me to come to you on the water.' 'Come,' he [Jesus] said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus."1

One of the best decisions I ever made in my life was also one of the scariest. I struggled with it for about three years. As a young man I felt a deep sense of God's call to full-time Christian ministry but knew that to be effective I would need to be adequately trained. For ministry I had no training whatsoever. I hadn't even been to high school. I was only 13 when my father made me quit school and go to work. As a teenager I attended technical college part time and became well trained as a carpenter and joiner (joiners make windows and doors and those kinds of things). I could build houses, but to get up in front of people and speak—forget it!

But the "Hound of Heaven" kept bugging me.

"You've got to be kidding, God," I argued. "You mean you want me to leave my home, my family, my friends, and my security to go overseas for training! Don't you know how insecure I am? I'm only a carpenter and you want me to do what—to step out of my security boat and walk on water!"

"Yes, that's correct," God said in his not too still small voice. "Did you forget that Peter was only a fisherman? And by the way, my Son, Jesus, was a carpenter."

"Okay, God," I finally said, "You win. I know what I have to do." I said this when I was flat on my back on a hospital bed following an accident I had on a construction site. For some of us we have to be hit over the head, as it were, by a four-by-four in order for God to get us to listen—I mean, really listen!

As quickly as I could I worked to save enough money for my one-way airfare to the U.S. and to get started in my first semester in college (providing I could find part-time work). I also had to be put on probation because I had never been to high school. All through Bible school, college and graduate school I worked part time to finance my education. This included working three jobs in the summer months when I drove a CTA passenger bus in Chicago during the morning and evening rush hours shifts, painted houses in the middle of the day, and worked as a janitor in a large church in the evenings and weekends.

Was it easy? Not really. But with a burning conviction that this is what I was meant to do, I was never without motivation to keep on keeping on. Plus, I was never without needed work, was able to pay all my bills—and passed every course.

And now, by the grace of God, here I am today—40+ years later—with the wonderful privilege of being able to reach around the world every day of the year with the saving gospel message of Jesus Christ. My life has never been more blessed or fulfilling.

How I thank God that he kept urging me to answer his call and say yes to him. After accepting Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, stepping out of my comfort zone and going back to college to train for what I am doing today was the greatest (and about the scariest) decision of my life.

If you sense that God is calling you to step out of your comfort zone to accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior and/or to an area of service for him—be it in a voluntary or full-time capacity—I urge and encourage you to say yes to God today. It is a decision you will never regret and be thankful for all eternity.

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, thank you that you call each one of us to accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior and therein receive your forgiveness for all our sins and your gift of eternal life—and to serve you according to the gifts and talents you have given to each one of us. Please help me to hear your call to me and give me the courage to step out of my comfort zone and say yes to you today. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully in Jesus name, amen."

1. Matthew 14:28-29 (NIV).