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Friends and Cheers...and belonging


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Isn't it everyone's longing and hope in this world to find a place that you belong?  Isn't that the hope of every person living?  We want to find acceptance, understanding and people who will love us for who we are...truly love us regardless of our faults and flaws.  Isn't this why television shows like 'Cheers' and the more contemporary 'Friends' became so popular in the first place?  We find identity within characters who have found this formula don't we?  We, perhaps covet their meaningful relationships because we too crave this type of deep level of fulfillment in others as well.

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Sure the characters are flawed, have issues, aren't perfect and yet these characters had people coming back for more each week to find out how their favorite fictional characters were getting on.  These syndicated comedy shows have been so popular that for Cheers they've aired followup episodes to please its following, and rumors are they are planning this type of event for the cast fan base of 'Friends' as well.

Perhaps it's loneliness that drives these franchises to popularity, or perhaps they touch on a very familiar topic and emotion in the majority of our world...we want to be loved and find belonging.

Perhaps a passage of scripture that seems obscure or a book in the bible you don't often read says this to us about God's love and our search for belonging in this life: Zephaniah 3:17 "The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing."

Perhaps some of us feel lonely in this life...know that God is with you!  Perhaps some of us feel unloved or unlovable...know that God 'will quiet you (and your heartache) with his love'!    Perhaps some of us worry about how our bills will be paid, where our next meal will come from or even the relationships (no matter how broken they may appear)...God will rejoice over you!

Do you need to be cheered up today?  Are you in need of Friends?....I know sorry about that play on words there, but God wants to be involved in your life and to remind you that you aren't alone, you are never alone!  He loves you so much and wants you to find fulfillment in this life through others as well as your relationship to Him.

Be of good cheer. Do not think of today's failures, but of the success that may come tomorrow. You have set yourselves a difficult task, but you will succeed if you persevere; and you will find a joy in overcoming obstacles. Remember, no effort that we make to attain something beautiful is ever lost.” -Hellen Keller

picking up the broken pieces...


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The heart ache of this past week is evident in the state of Oklahoma...children were lost, families ripped apart, sorrow and pain have been an un-welcomed, uninvited guest.  How do we pick up the pieces when life seemingly sweeps away any remnants of normality?

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Throughout our world people today are facing this very same situation.  It might not present itself in the form of a mile wide twister but rather a car accident, a bout with cancer, a loss of a loved one.  People find themselves at the brink of total despair and their lives in ruin shattered before their very eyes.

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David knew a thing or two about a shattered life...more than once.  He was in flight for his life, the king wanted him dead, later when he became king he committed adultery, plotted to kill the husband and lost a child in the process... his life was shattered.  In one of his most famous psalms 23 he wrote; "even though I travel through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil."

We at times, as human beings, walk through valleys within the shadows of death on all sides.   And because of these valleys,we find the pieces of our lives scattered in all directions.

Have you been there?  Are you there right now?  Do you fear the evil that lurks in your life right now?  What was David's hope?  How did he overcome his valleys and collecting the broken pieces of his life?  He knew that he wasn't alone...the Lord was his shepherd and even in the midst of deep despair and trouble he knew One who could sustain, protect and provide.

Are you picking up the pieces today?  Know that you aren't alone and that the good shepherd will walk beside you and give the the strength to make it through this chapter of your life.

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"Give us this day our daily bread"


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Do you know where your next meal is coming from?  Do you wonder how your next month's rent or car payment or other bill is going to get paid?  Our basic essentials in life obviously come because we can pay for things...right?  What we make at our jobs generally helps to pay for our lifestyles.  Sometimes, though we realize that we have not been living within our means when we run up a credit card or lease/buy a vehicle that we cannot afford the payments on.  Living within our means forces us to realize that we ought to separate our needs from our wants.

When we pray to our Father in heaven the way Jesus has instructed us in what we call "the Lord's prayer" what we realize is that we are placing our entire being, fully surrendered, at the foot of God himself.  When we pray "give us today our daily bread" we are not praying for tomorrow's supplies or tomorrow's worries, we are strictly and implicitly focusing on what is right before us within this very day.  Who knows what tomorrow holds, but when we focus on God, his might and power and his kingdom, we can't but help realize that He is ultimately in control over our basic needs.

When we pray this portion of 'the Lord's prayer' we quickly realize that it's not our wants that He will supply but our needs.  What is it that you need today?  What do you struggle with daily?  Have you prayed about it?  Is really a need or is it a want?  "Daily bread" isn't necessarily the food that we eat but every human supply of our needs is included here.  God is supremely over all and through all!  When we come to this conclusion even the little things in life are blessings given to us by God and we ought to thank Him for these daily...even moment by moment.

Do you have needs?  Are you lacking today?  Have you prayed about it?  Are you surrendering it all to your Father in Heaven?  Consider the works of His hands today and consider how blessed we are because He can and will provide for us the things that we need.

"Why do bad things happen to good people?"


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This is one of the questions many are asking today in the aftermath of yesterday's horrific natural disaster in Oklahoma.  Almost 60 people were killed as a mile wide tornado struck the outskirts of Oklahoma City/Moore area.  It has been reported that nearly 21 children were among the death toll in this awful destructive storm.

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So many people are questioning many things today.  Many are considering why God would allow something like this to happen.  Others are questioning why bad things seem to happen to good people.  And there really isn't a good answer is there?  What can you say to a family in mourning when they have just lost a child or a father in the wake of this horrendous disaster?  What soothing words can we offer to grieving people when they've lost their entire homes, pets, and loved ones?

One of the best things we can do is to just be there.  We have to show up, without any other agenda than to be a shoulder to cry on.  As many of us view this disaster from a far, we may feel powerless to help...but we couldn't be more wrong.  We can two a few very useful things.

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1) Pray.  As I've mentioned in previous articles prayer isn't empty or something we do like rubbing a lamp and making a wish.  When we pray we are going before the Father in Heaven and He actually hears us.  We serve a God who isn't a distant God but One who is active and living and wanting to hear our conversations.  Prayer for others is called intercessory pray...meaning we are before the Father for others, asking Him to intercede for their concerns.  Prayer is a very powerful thing that we do, it isn't or should be construed to be a last resort kinda thing but rather a first resort daily connection to God's infinite power.

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2) Reach out.  How do we reach out to people who are hurting right now in Oklahoma?  There are some very worthy groups on the ground right now that I know and I trust.  The Salvation Army is one of them.  They have been there minutes since this disaster occurred.  They don't just ask for money and only give a small portion, they use what is given for these  events.  Not only will they offer physical needs to survivors and victims like food, clothing, and basic essentials, but they also counsel and offer spiritual support.

When one has gone through a disaster such as this physical support isn't enough...one needs moral and spiritual support.  This is what I know The Salvation Army does very well.  Here are a couple ways to support The Salvation Army in these matters:  https://donate.salvationarmyusa.org/uss/eds/aok

or text  Donate Via Text:
Salvation Army by texting: STORM to 80888
Each text is a $10 donation and gets billed to your phone line.

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3) Get involved.

There are many place in your community that you serve to give back.  By helping feed people in a soup kitchen to volunteering at a local food shelf/bank.  You can help in little ways to bigger ways by signing up to help out with Emergency Disaster Teams.  But we can help in many ways by just donating our time to an organization and be available.

Questions:

So why do bad things happen to good people? and Why does God allow bad things to happen?

The easy answer is that God doesn't cause these things to happen...it's a natural part of the world around us.  As sad as it is, and it's awful to witness first hand the destructive nature of these types of disasters, God didn't make this happen!  Please know that He loves His people and He weeps with us when we lose loved ones and when bad things happen to good people.  That was never His intent or purpose.

We live in a fallen world and because of this, bad things do happen.  One might say then why doesn't God deliver all people from these things...who's to say that He didn't?  Yesterday, as heart wrenching as it may be, God delivered 21 children into the loving arms of Christ.  This isn't what any of us want, yet as that tornado bore down on that city, God saw fit to ultimately deliver lives from this world.  I wish there was additional comfort for those that were left behind in the wake of this event...yet they don't mourn alone.  I am convinced that His angels are present and bringing comfort from the Father.  Not only are celestial angels bringing comfort, but the hands of other humans are also doing likewise.

This world in which we live was created perfectly, yet because of the fall we now live in an imperfect world.  Yet through these tragedies I am convinced we will see the determination and victories of humanity and that should also give us hope.

Please pray, please support where and when you can, and know that God weeps with us in these moments.  We aren't alone in our sufferings and our pains.

“We can ignore even pleasure. But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain

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"Teach us to number our days"


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  • 37 years

  • 444 months

  • 1,930 weeks

  • 13,514 days

  • 324,336 hours

  • 19,460,160 minutes

  • 1,167,609,600 seconds

  • You were born on a Friday

  • Age in Dog Years: 161.0

  • Age in Galapagos Turtle Years: 17.6

This is exactly how long I've been alive on this planet.

When I look at the time that has passed me it really has an impact on me.  I think of all of the wasted time, the 'down time', the time that I let slip through my fingers...But I also think of the miles stones in my life too.  The day I proposed to my wife which was


  • 14 years

  • 177 months

  • 772 weeks

  • 5,405 days

  • 129,720 hours

  • 7,783,200 minutes

  • 466,992,000 seconds

Ago.

I think of the days when my children were born all four of them...I recall the significant friendships that I've forged along the way...the meaningful connections of humanity that I've had the privilege to partake in and these cross roads that intersected with two or more human beings at one very specific time or place.  I have been a blessed man so far!

TWO VERSES:
Deuteronomy 30:19-20 Says;
"This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob."

And...

Joshua 24:15 says:
"But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD."

We have this one life and my prayer is that we don't waste it!  We have so many distractions in this life, so much wasted opportunities and wasted time...but don't take this life for granted or watch it fly by without taking each and every moment to make a difference in this world and to serve the Lord!  We are called to be Christ's ambassadors in this world don't be ashamed of the gospel and don't forget our calling!

Psalm 39:4 "Show me, O LORD, my life's end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life."

How many days have you been alive?  How many minutes...Galapagos Turtle Years?

Use them or lose them...let's all choose to use them and take each and every moment without regrets!

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Reserve Space 4 Victory in Paradise!


"Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live. I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David... Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near...You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands." (Isaiah 55:1-3,6,12)

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What do you do when you are invited to a party?  You send the RSVP or call in your RSVP and you confirm (if schedule allows) that you will attend.  Your response is required so that the party host will know who will attend and how many to plan for.  It's not only polite to return your RSVP, it is an important response and action on your part...in essence you are saying "I will be there!"

In the above passage of Isaiah, the invitations for forgiveness have been sent out by God.  He wants to make what was broken whole again.  The prophecy of Messiah (Jesus) is evident in two key verses two chapters back:

Isaiah 52:13 "See, my servant will act wisely; he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted." &

Isaiah 53:12 "Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors."

Forgiveness is at hand, the RSVP has been hand delivered to all of us, and the Host of this Redemptive party is awaiting our response.  The most telling portion of chapter 55 in Isaiah is verse 6...it says "Seek the Lord while he may be found..." It is a frightening proposition here because He seems to be saying to us, 'make up your minds while you can.'  The implication is that our RSVP has a expiration date and we ought not postpone our response.

Forgiveness and redemption is ours, the Host of Heaven stands at the front door inviting us in...what will your response be?  Either we enter and accept His love and forgiveness or we don't because soon that door will be closed...soon we will all be standing before Him, and in contrast, probably the most frightening passage in all of scripture is Matthew 25:31-46 when Jesus himself states clear that the day is coming  when the King will separate the sheep from goats and He will say to the goats (those who have not accepted His invitation to forgiveness and redemption) "'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.'" (Matthew 25:41)

We have this contrast of those who will accept the invitation and those who will not.  Yet there is hope...there is time, but if you haven't accepted the invitation, don't let this time slip away.  Redemption draws near, your RSVP is requested...what will your answer be?

Be Like-minded...but Not Like the Borg!


"Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind." -Philippians 2:1,2

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What does 'being like minded' mean?  I'm a science fiction geek I freely admit it!  And I recall the old Star Trek Next Generation when the Enterprise faced off a number of times with the terrifying aliens called the 'Borg'.  The thing that stood them apart and made them so dangerous was that they were of one mind.  The were all connected to the 'collective' and they would absorb and assimilate other cultures and worlds, thereby gaining knowledge and understanding.  The Borg were terrifying and yet effective because of the collective mind.

But truly, science fiction aside, what does being like-minded mean?  Are we to be God's "collective" here on Earth?  Not for any evil purpose mind you, but for His Holy purpose?  What does being like-minded mean?  Especially when we see so many church splits, divisions and varying thoughts of ideology.  How is it that what began as one body of believers coming together to worship, testify and make other disciples has ended up being many bodies and many sets of worship practices?  Is this what Christ had in mind?  If I were to take it a step further, if this wasn't what Christ had in mind then did He make a mistake?

The answer to both of those questions is 'NO'!  His prayer 'that they may all be one" (John 17:21) is still a prayer for us today.  The problem with this earthly body of believers is that we have free will.  When it comes to deciding and making our choices in worship and practice, we fall short of attaining this unity.  Let's be honest, church has in the past, present and most probably the future been run by those within the spectrum of human authority.  Sure God has been present within churches, but not all decisions made by man have been God led or God honoring.  It is safe to say that politics is alive and well within the Church.  Both on the large and small scare this is true.  From leadership selection to the color of the carpet in a chapel there is politics involved.  I think Paul had experienced politics that was of selfish intent through various towns and cities when he went on to say in this same passage, "Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.  Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others." -Philippians 2:3-4

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Unfortunately the down side is that some, not all, leaders are bent to self and selfish motivations.  It's the nature of humanity that is not fully surrendered which becomes evident through the choices of man sugar coating it to be what God has intended.  But I am confident that God can take that which man has marred, that which man has broken, that which man has truly messed up and turn it into something remarkable.

It's not that I  willingly place my faith and trust in leaders who lead this way, but rather in my submission to the Father in Heaven.  So that when I say "Thy will be done" I mean really mean it even if I am subjugated to a system or to leaders who are fallible and often make decisions based politically rather than biblically.

Paul implores us all to serve selflessly rather than selfishly.  When we can actually practice selflessness in word and in deed then being like-minded can actually occur within God's body here on earth.

Confession time:

I too struggle with this in my life.  There have been times when I have made decisions based on how it will impact me rather than others.  Sometimes that full surrender isn't made complete in me.  It's a daily thing that must take place, in which we force our selfishness back in the box, we kneel before the Father and give Him the box again and we allow His love to shine through us instead of the light of selfish intentions and moral failings.

I want to be a transformer in my world how about you?  I want to be like-minded with others who are in the truth but this can't be done if I'm looking out for me, myself and I.  If we are to function and thrive as His ambassadors we have to stop playing church politics and the selfishness game and instead face the mission of Christ that He beckons us to.

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A Survival Guide to the Storms of Life


"Make haste, O God, to deliver me!  Make haste to help me, O Lord!  Let them be ashamed and confounded who seek my life; Let them be turned back and confused who desire my hurt.  Let them be turned back because of their shame..." -Psalm 70:1-3

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Is there a storm brewing?

Do you have burdens?

Are you going through a storm right now?

How do we get through these situations?  How do we overcome them, when possible? These are difficult questions and unfortunately there aren't any easy answers here.  But what I do know and what others know is that going through the storms and surviving requires a supernatural power to journey with us.

Cue Bob Marley and his song "Don't Worry About a thing - three little birds."   [youtube=http://youtu.be/zaGUr6wzyT8]

We need to understand that when we are aligned with God's will and his power that our burdens and our problems become His burdens and his problems.  That makes it so much more clearer then when we read what Jesus said about our burdens and his burdens:
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV)

What Jesus is essentially saying is that though burdens exist, though we face them, that if we allow him access to them and surrender them we will experience a lightening of our load and our worry.  We were never meant to carry these things on our own.

Here are three prescriptions that will help us when we face and weather the storms of life.  If we adhere to these prescriptions we will survive and even thrive!

1) Prayer!

Don't think for a minute that prayer is a last resort or that pray is like casting out wishes into the universe and hoping that someone will hear you.  It is not like being on a deserted island and throwing a message in a bottle out into the sea hoping someone will find it...no!  Prayer is so much more powerful than that!  Prayer isn't just hoping someone will hear you utter some desperate words, prayer is knowing we aren't alone and that God's power is accessible through all of life's situations and mysteriously and amazingly they transcend time and space.  Meaning if there was one thing that could penetrate the science realm of space and time prayer is it.  God doesn't work the way we do via a linear approach, God is outside of time and space and will intercede and protect us even before we utter the prayers that keep us connected to him.  When we pray, make sure it's not just prayers in crisis...but pray to Him as a daily, even minute by minute conversation.  As difficult as this may sound, communing and conversing with him can lift many a burden before the storms arrive.  Do not underestimate prayer and its essential nature, nor its power.

2) Intercessory Prayer & the Fellowship of the Believers:

We are not alone in this world...so why do we continually think that we cannot share our burdens with other Christ followers in whom we trust?  Do we fear ridicule?  Do we fear being vulnerable before others?  We need the body of Christ more than just in the storms of life, but we ought to recognize that if the early church and its Apostles needed support then who are we to assume that we do not need help?  The fellowship of believers is vital to our continuation in the faith and another prescription by which we can weather the storms.  Galatians 6:2 says, "Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ."  It's pretty clear isn't it?  We are in this together and so we should be there for one another through thick and thin.  Do you have a home church?  Do you trust other believers within your church to help you?  If you don't have a church or a fellowship in which you belong you are missing out on the amazing support and care that comes with the connected body of Christ.

3) Service

I know, it sounds strange.  How can we serve when we are riding each ebb and flow of this present storm surge?  The answer is faith.  If we have this continued prayer conversation with our Lord, and we have or are continually surrendering our burdens to him in the midst of the storm then what service does is put feet to our faith.  What we are essentially saying is that despite the storms we will serve the Lord.  We can't stay stuck or static in the process of the tumult.  We have to get on with it and serve him the best that we can.  Service in the storm is two fold: a) We let his praises be glorified despite our circumstances and we acknowledge that it's not about us but it's about him.  b) We will be so immersed in serving God that there will be times that we will forget about our present storms.  This isn't to say that they will go away if we ignore them, but rather when we are serving him, we are fulfilling the Lord's prayer when we say the words 'your will be done'...we are living it in this manner.

These are just three prescriptions to help us amidst the storms of life.  There might be more helps along the journey, but these are central to our victories through the power of the storm tamer - Jesus Christ.

Here's to survival and to thriving in the midst of our burdens and storms:

2 Corinthians 2:14 (NIV)
But thanks be to God, who always leads us in (victory) triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him.

'YOLO'?


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It's been around for a while, but I think the significance of this four letter acronym should be explored.  "You only live once" is what it tells us.  What does it mean?  People have used it as a hashtag signifying & justifying poor judgement and bad decisions with this excuse "you only live once".   There is even a 'YOLO' clothing line that has been started.  We've gone from 'Just Do It' and 'No Fear' to 'YOLO'.  Hmm...it seems to me that what culture is telling us is that it's okay to do what you want, when you want, where you want because you only live once.

I recognize that everyone makes mistakes in this life but if we don't learn from them and acknowledge that we've made them we run the risk of never growing and maturing.  As a Christian I don't believe that I am going to live just once and then nothing, I believe that there is an eternity and that this life we live leads us to the next, and what we do here and now counts...it matters!  So if I adopted  'YOLO' as my philosophy , what I'm saying essentially is that the only thing that matters in life is the 'here and now'.  The problem with that is that it doesn't account for the consequences.  For example if someone sleeps around aren't they more likely to contract an STD than someone who waits until marriage?  If someone starts smoking and burns through at least a pack a day aren't they opening themselves up to a slew of medical problems down the road the worst being cancer and death?   I could add so many more examples of choice = consequence here but these are just two examples.

YOLO isn't really a new phrase, it's just wrapped in new packaging.  Some have taken scripture out of context as well when they quote passages like "Let us eat and drink," you say, "for tomorrow we die!" Isaiah 22:13 (NIV)  The meaning behind it has been eliminated and taken to mean 'well what the heck, we can do what we want because we know we're all going to die someday'.

I'm not too keen on living that way because I recognize that one day each person is going to have to account for the life that we've lived before the Father in heaven.  That doesn't mean that we can't enjoy life, on the contrary God has given us this life for enjoyment and pleasure but we ought to recognize that He also wants us to include Him in our lives.  When we forget consequences and forget about the future, we lose focus on what is at stake.

One of my favorite bible verses is a good guide for each of us in how we ought to live.
"He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." Micah 6:8 (NIV)  If we are walking humbly with our God we will enjoy this life so much more than the emptiness of comes knocking on our doors after we have lived it up and gone down roads that we now regret.

On the plus side, perhaps there is merit to 'YOLO'...perhaps you can take this phrase to mean 'hey you only live once in flesh and bone so make it count, do what you can to live a godly life and glorify the Lord in your living'!  I think if I were to embrace YOLO that is what I would take it to mean.  Will I make it count?  Can I live a God pleasing life?  Can I help lead others to Him along the way?  'YOLO'!

-Just a thought for today!

Here's some humor for your Monday:

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An Angelic Prison Break


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Jesus had told him that he would go where he didn't want to go and be led to places he never wished to be…but Peter wasn't quite prepared for the violent onslaught the seemed to never end for his fellow apostles.  Stephen had seen a horrific end, though many had believed.  Now, sitting in prison in chains, surrounded by guards Peter considered that this might be the end of his journey too.  After all, just hours ago Herod had executed James the brother of John by the sword and Peter though full of faith, wept for his family.  In a very small corner of his mind he pondered just for a brief second what may have taken place had he left Jesus when he had had the chance?   Yet, Peter quickly pushes that thought aside as overwhelming warmth of love fills him body when we remembers the master’s face.  What forgiveness felt like on that beach after he had denied Him three times?  His love poured out undeservedly upon Peter.  “No I would not change a thing”, Peter says to himself.  No second guessing, no self-pity, no turning back!

The chains jingle as Peter, a little bruised and tender, shifts position in this dingy rank cellar of a prison.  The guards are positioned all around him, as if Peter were some sort of Samson strong man who could take down a regiment of soldiers with just a jaw bone of a donkey.   The guards eye him carefully as he shifts in his chains, King Herod had been explicitly clear that this man had to be watched and that if anything happened to him they would pay the price with their lives.  King Herod was a vicious man not to be trifled with or taken lightly.

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Minutes pass that seem like hours, as the torches on the walls flicker casting shadows on the molding green stones of the cell.  Peter, slumped and weary, closes his eyes intent on praying but too emotionally drained falls quickly into a fitful sleep.   It seems like a second passes when someone strikes him on the side to awaken him.  At first Peter thinks it’s one of the guards and he wonders to himself, “is it time?”  Looking up he finds not a solider dressed in military garb, but rather an Angel luminescent and powerful to behold.   As Peter looks at the angel, sleep blurred and groggy, the angel looks fiercely back at him and says, “Quick, get up!”  Thinking it a vision, Peter doesn’t hesitate or ask any questions and as he moves to pick himself up off of the damp floor, the chains fall off of him as if they had never been clasped tightly around him at all.  Bewildered and yet unsure of what this was real or a vision, Peter stands before the Angel.

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“Put on your clothes and your sandals Peter!”   The angel continues his instructions to Peter, “wrap yourself in your cloak as well!”  Peter doesn’t waste any time in protesting, he’s learned long ago not to question but to obey.  After dressing and putting on his cloak, the angel instructs him, “Follow me.”  Again Peter, thinking this to be a vision, does what the angel says and puts one foot in the front of the other and walks right out of the prison.  He walks right past the guards who had been keeping a careful watch over him and they do not respond to his passing.  He follows the angel through the metal doors and past the outer door that leads into the city.  The door even opens by itself.  After Peter has walked with the angel for about two city blocks, suddenly two things dramatically occur: The angel disappears, vanishes completely from sight.  The second thing that amazes Peter is that this isn’t a vision at all.  This is very real…and he is free!  What started out as a death row vigil has become a divine prison break!

Full of joy and renewed mission, Peter makes his way to the house of Mary, mother of John Mark.  His fellow brothers and sisters in Christ were gathered there earnestly praying.  And as Peter knocks on the front door, a servant girl answers and is shocked to see Peter there in front of her.  She is so shocked by his appearance there that she shuts the door on him and runs off to announce his arrival.  A fugitive, by the name of Peter, is standing outside in the open air while the small house church is made aware of his escape and arrival!  At first they don’t believe the servant girl, “how could this be?”  One apostle asks.  “She’s just making up stories!” Another voice calls out from the back of the room.   Then another Christ-follower offers another conclusion of who it might be; “It could be an angel” He says.  Now curious what or who has caused this commotion, they all rush to the front door and find out for themselves that it is in fact Peter who is still knocking at the door.  Peter is standing there and he is free!  They are amazed at this miracle!   For hours they had been gathered in a small room made sacred by their continued prayers.  Their faith, love and intercessory prayers had been answered!

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Peter, though prison weary, recounts the miracle and the angel and all who hear rejoice and are amazed!  Knowing he is now a wanted man who is an escapee from prison, Peter leaves their company quickly and without delay before the sun even has a chance to crest over the city walls.

Does God answer prayer?  In the midst of our deepest struggles and in the midst of our trouble lives the answer is a resounding ‘YES’!  Though there will be times that He doesn’t answer the way that we think He should, what we are called to be is faithful!  Will the dangers be lifted from us?  Not always.  We may still have to endure the valley of the shadow of death a time or two…but know that we never walk these paths alone!  God really means it when He says that He is our shepherd and we are under His care!  Believe it and received it today!

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