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The Presidents Club

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The Surest Defense Against Evil

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The Triumph of Grace

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Contemplating God’s Sovereignty

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How Should We Then Live?

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Not a Timid Christianity

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Finishing the Race

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Because the Time is Near

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Revelation Song (YouTube)

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Where The Wind Blows

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Doing Great Things

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Recognizing a False Prophet

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The Power of Forgiveness

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Created for Relationships

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The Only Way I Know

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Faith: The Misunderstood Doctrine

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The Paris Terrorist Attack and the Problem of Evil

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So Goes The Culture

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Idols of the Heart

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Divisions Are Not Always Bad

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The Resurrection of Jesus Christ

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After The Rain

rainbow and boatA few days ago I wrote a blog post titled, Before The Rain,” using the story of Noah and the Ark (Genesis 5:32-10:1). The story of Noah details the destruction of the entire earth by a flood back in Noah’s day; however, the real story behind the flood has to do with obedience (as in Noah’s obedience to God to build the ark–see Genesis 6:22), and the lack thereof (as in obedience to God in general) in the rest of the human race (see Genesis 6:5; 6:11-12; 8:21). Obedience to God has never been popular among humans starting with the first humans (Adam and Eve) in the Garden of Eden (see Genesis 2-3) and continuing right on through to today. And God stated in Genesis 8:21 that “every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood” so that comes as no surprise. However, in Genesis 6:8, it is stated that “. . . Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.”

In the Genesis account, the rain and flooding lasted for 40 days (Genesis 7:17-23), but the whole earth was actually covered by the flood waters for 150 days (Genesis 7:24; 8:1-4). And once the earth was completely dry (Genesis 8:14), God told Noah and his family to come out of the ark (Genesis 8:15-19) along with all of the creatures that had been on the ark with them, and Noah built an altar to God and sacrificed burnt offerings on it (Genesis 8:20). And it was at this point that God said in His heart (Genesis 8:21-22):

Never again will I curse the ground because of humans, even though every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done.

“As long as the earth endures,
seedtime and harvest,
cold and heat,
summer and winter,
day and night
will never cease.”

And God made a covenant with Noah (Genesis 9:1-11) and stated at the end of the covenant, “I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be destroyed by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.” (Genesis 9:11).

And then God placed a sign in the sky which still shows up after the rain to this very day (Genesis 9:12-17):

And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.”

So God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant I have established between me and all life on the earth.”

And every time we see a rainbow in the sky it is a reminder to us of that original “everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.”

Besides the issue of obedience to God regarding the account of Noah, there is a second issue at hand in the story, and that issue is one of preparedness (as in being prepared for the “as yet” unforeseen). Jesus Christ talked about it in Matthew 24 when his disciples asked him what would be the sign of his coming (as in his second coming back to earth again after his crucifixion and resurrection which was very soon to take place at that time) and also the end of the age. The “end of the age” is not about another “destruction of the earth.” Rather, it has to do with when Jesus would be coming back again to reign on the earth during the Millennial period when he sets up his kingdom here on earth (see Revelation 20). And that kingdom culminates with the creation of “a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away” ~Revelation 21:1 (see full description in Revelation 21 & 22).

In Matthew 24, Jesus gives a number of warnings to his followers (and that includes those of us who believe in Him throughout the ages since that time). He warns us to “watch out that no one deceives you” and he stated many will come in his name and deceive many (verses 4 & 5) and that there would be “wars and rumors of wars” but that we should not be alarmed by this as “the end is still to come” (verse 6). He said “nations would rise against nations” and that “there will be famines and earthquakes in various places” and that “these are the beginning of birth pains” (verses 7-8).

Jesus further states in his answer to his disciples (again, this includes those of us who believe in Him throughout the ages since that time) that “you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me” (verse 9), and “that many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and that many false prophets will appear to deceive many people” (verses 10 & 11). And, “because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved” (verses 12 & 13). And the most telling sign for our own generation to take heed of is this one found in verse 14:

And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

The further a society drifts from the truth quoteNever in the history of the world has there been a time like now, when the gospel of the kingdom is literally being preached throughout the entire world as a testimony to all nations about Jesus Christ through the use of technology and the internet.

Jesus went on to state a number of signs that will occur during the period of time known as The Tribulation (the seven-year period of time which includes the last 3 1/2 years known as the Great Tribulation period) culminating in his second coming back to the earth which are found in Matthew 24:15-31. You can read about those signs at this link but I don’t want to get off the topic of this blog post by going into the details of that portion of Matthew 24.

To sum up all of the things that Jesus said would be the signs of the end times in Matthew 24:1-31, he stated the following in Matthew 24:32-44:

“Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door. Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.

“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”

Since these things obviously did not happen during the lifetime of the disciples who were with Jesus at that time he explained these things to them, the reference to this generation that Jesus makes in Matthew 24:34 when he stated: “I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened” is, obviously, the generation that is living on the earth at the time all of these things in Matthew 24 do actually take place (see answer to the question, What did Jesus mean when he said, “This generation will not pass”?” at GotQuestions.org at this link).

Jesus clearly stated that “no one knows about the day or the hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (Matthew 24:36) of his return; he did clearly state in the very next few verses, Matthew 24:37-40:

As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of Son of Man [which is Jesus Christ]. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark: and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. This is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. . . .”  

Going back to the actual days of Noah, the two main issues at hand back then, as they still are today, are (1) obedience to God, and (2) being prepared. There is much in our own society today that takes the focus off of both issues (as we tend to live in the “here and now” and mostly for what we want in this life) and also from what God has stated from the beginning, in Genesis 8:21 that “every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood.” We get so easily sidetracked at every turn. For example, just look at how easily sidetracked we get with smartphones and technology. They have literally transformed us (and our communication skills, which hasn’t always been a good thing) and taken hold of our attention spans very rapidly and in a few short years (especially with smartphones and iPods, etc.), and they keep us almost constantly distracted from the reality of what is really going on all around us.

However, back to the issue at hand. God has already stated that the inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood. And we don’t have to look very far to see just how true this statement is and has always been. Also, we have an very powerful adversary in this world who is at work in and around us, too, so it’s a “double whammy” against us. Regarding this adversary, Ephesians 6:10-18 states:

 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God,so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

Also, many folks have a caricature in mind of our adversary or mock that he and those powers even exist although with the presence of evil being so pervasive in our world today one would have to go to great lengths to believe that evil–beyond what is already a part of us–doesn’t exist. The source of our evil is two-fold–internal (within us) and external (as in spiritual forces as stated in the above verses–Ephesians 6:10-18). For more information on spiritual warfare, see this link at GotQuestions?org.

“As it was in the days of Noah,” so it still is today. . . . Some things never change, like human nature. However, there is a cure for it. God hasn’t left us helpless if we truly desire and want/seek help from Him. And it’s a free gift, too, but it’s not easy, and there is a cost associated with it, too (there is no “coasting along for the ride”). And that cure is found in Jesus Christ and stated clearly in John 3:16-18:

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. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.

followme_jesusWhen Jesus said, Follow me,” he meant it. If we truly want to follow Him (and only God knows our real heart attitude and motives), He empowers us with the Holy Spirit to do His will and not our own. Too often today we’ve been sold a bill of goods in some Christian circles that we can have anything we want if we just learn to say the right words and rarely is there ever talk about a transformedlife (see Romans 12, for example, to see what that life involves). Well, Jesus did say that one of the signs of the end times would be many false teachers who would come in his name (claiming to know Him–see Matthew 24:10-13) with a lot of deceptive teachings (see 2 Peter 2, Jude) to make Jesus Christ seem to be more palpable to our senses and much more appealing to our human flesh and desires. However, the cross of Jesus Christ is about dying to self; it’s not about appeasing self or giving into it.

One of the signs of the end of times that is increasingly more apparent in our day is found in Matthew 24:12-13 when Jesus stated, Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” A sure sign of a follower of Jesus Christ is his or her genuine love for others. And that’s much more then just acting nice around others. I Corinthians 13 gives us a picture of what that love looks like, and without it, nothing else will even make a difference. So I’ll end this post with a reminder of what real love looks like from that passage (specifically verses 4-8):

Love is patient, love is kind.
It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking,
It is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails . . .

So let’s just do it . . . .

YouTube Video: “Give Me Your Eyes” by Brandon Heath:

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The Gospel Cannot Be Contained

gospel cannot be containedThe Gospel of Jesus Christ cannot be contained by anyone or anything, and not even the “gates of hell” can prevail or come against it (see Matthew 16:18). And Jesus made this very clear in His end times discourse in Matthew 24 when He stated: “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14). So what does this “end times” world look like, and how will we know when it has arrived (see specifically the fourth paragraph in the passage below)? Let’s read Matthew 24 to find out what Jesus had to say about it:

Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings. “Do you see all these things?” he asked. “Truly I tell you, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”

As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”

Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.

“Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

“So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel [Daniel 9:27, 11:31, 12:11]—let the reader understand—then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let no one on the housetop go down to take anything out of the house. Let no one in the field go back to get their cloak. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again.

“If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you ahead of time.

“So if anyone tells you, ‘There he is, out in the wilderness,’ do not go out; or, ‘Here he is, in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather.

“Immediately after the distress of those days

“‘the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light;
the stars will fall from the sky,
and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’

“Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.

“Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door. Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.

“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.

“Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns. Truly I tell you, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, ‘My master is staying away a long time,’ and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards. The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

the-gospel-changes-everythingNow, a plethora of books have been written and innumerable discussions have taken place about this particular passage in the Bible and I have no interest in adding to either, even in a blog post. However, I do take what it says at face value and I believe the generation that Jesus spoke about in Matthew 24:34-35 could very well be our generation right now living on this planet of ours. In fact, let’s take a look at what the Apostle Paul had to say to his young protégé, Timothy, about what the end times would look like in 2 Timothy 3:

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.

They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over gullible women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these teachers oppose the truth. They are men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected. But they will not get very far because, as in the case of those men, their folly will be clear to everyone.

You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions, sufferings—what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Read that first paragraph again . . . “People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—having a form of godliness but denying its power.” That, folks, sounds like front page news today.

Many folks–famous folks–in our society have been saying and writing about the seriousness of what we are facing here in America today and some have even wondered out loud if we are, indeed, the terminal generation. For example, John Hagee published and updated a book titled, Can America Survive? 10 Prophetic Signs That We Are The Terminal Generation,” and Joel C. Rosenberg recently published a book titled,Implosion: Can America Recover from It’s Economic and Spiritual Challenges in Time?And there are many others in our society writing and asking the same questions.

Getting back to the original topic of this post when Jesus stated, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14), at no other time in history until now–thanks to technology–can and is the gospel of Jesus Christ being preached throughout the entire world to all nations. Anything written, created, and placed on the Internet is available to the entire world! In fact, I just added a page to my blog site that includes the ability for it to be translated into 56 other languages besides English! Think about that, folks! At no time in history has there been the possibility of spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the entire world like we have available at our very fingertips today!

While there are many people in our world today who think the gospel of Jesus Christ is sheer foolishness, there are others out there who want and desperately need to hear the life-changing message of Jesus Christ and His power to change lives. And, when it comes to the folks who refuse to believe for whatever reason they give, the Apostle Paul clearly stated in I Corinthians 1:18-31:

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written:

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;
the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”
[Isaiah 29:14]

Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.

Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”

Regardless of the opposition (e.g., those who mock or refuse to believe), are those of us who call ourselves Christian willing to speak out as Paul spoke out (and not just in a crowd of other believers but to the world at large) in Romans 1:16-17:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”

The gospel of Jesus Christ will never be contained even if we remain silent. But if we remain silent in these turbulent times that require us to take a bold stand for Jesus Christ, do we really believe what we say we believe? Or do we just go along with the crowd for whatever reason(s) we give (e.g., fear, wanting to be “accepted”; not wanting to “rock the boat”; love of money and material possessions, fear of persecution, selfishness, etc.). Time will eventually run out for all of us, and the time to take a stand will be gone forever.

We need to pay attention to these words that Jesus gave to his disciples (and that includes us if we call ourselves Christians) in Matthew 16:24-26, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?”

While no one knows “the day or the hour,” time is running out, folks . . . .

What will be your answer?

Your way or His way . . . .

YouTube Video: Bob Dylan’s song, “Gotta Serve Somebody” sung by Shirley Caesar:

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Bringing whatever stirs my heart

A Breath of Fresh Air

"Go out into the world uncorrupted, a breath of fresh air in this squalid and polluted society. Provide people with a glimpse of good living and of the living God." Philippians 2:15

Joel C. Rosenberg's Blog

Tracking events and trends in Israel, the U.S., Russia and throughout the Epicenter (the Middle East & North Africa)

ForeWords

Lectionary Musings within the Community of Christ

Of Dust & Kings

Empowering Faith. Transforming Culture.

A MINIATURE CLAY POT

"We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives" 2 Corinthians 4:7 The Message

gracefully50

On your birthday: count your candles, count your years, count your blessings.

lilies, sparrows and grass

"That I may publish with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all thy wondrous works." Psalm 26:7

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