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4 minutes | Aug 29, 2020
Subscribe To Our Podcast! I don’t think much about water wells. Probably because I have never been without one. But if it weren’t for wells, we would have a lot less corn, a lot fewer cows, and my dishwasher wouldn’t work. They make land more usable and life more livable. And sometimes, wells run dry.Water wells serve as a pretty good metaphor for our lives. Sometimes in life, we are just rocking it. We’re pumping at 1,500 gallons a minute. No matter what happens, we can make it work. Other times in life, we are just not. We are like dry wells. Life keeps pumping us for more and more and more, and we don’t have it to give. Once upon a time, there was a man named Elijah. He was a prophet of God in a time when things between God and His people were pretty ugly. People hated him, but Elijah was rocking it, and he had been for a long time. In the book of First Kings Chapter 18 in the Bible, Elijah had just come from what was probably the greatest moment of his entire life. But life kept happening, and he had nothing left to give. So not long after that, he found himself hiding from the world out in the desert, curled up on the shady side of some scrub brush, and praying to God. But in that moment, he did not pray some amazing, poetic, perfect prayer. He prayed to God and asked to die. In that moment, Elijah was a dry well. He had nothing left to give.So he fell asleep. A while later, he was woken up by nothing less than an angel from Heaven. God had sent him dinner, right there in the desert. So Elijah ate, then went back to sleep. Then God sent him dinner again. Then God essentially sent him on a 5 week vacation that culminated with a meeting with God himself.And in all of that, God never says one harsh word to him. He simply cares for Elijah and gives him what he needs.I have learned a life-changing truth from this moment in Biblical history. Sometimes, it's ok to be a dry well. Sometimes people just don’t have anything left to give. That's ok. It makes for a great time to stop for a while and focus on the One who can give to you everything you need. Donate Buy On Amazon Buy On Iphone/Apple Books Join our email list Email Address Sign Up Awesome!Click on the confirmation email that just came to your inbox (or junk box), and we are good to go!
5 minutes | Aug 21, 2020
Adam Nelson is a great Olympian from the United States. His event is the shot put. As a shot-putter, he made no money, had no fame, and wasn’t even offered Olympic training. When He graduated college he had the opportunity to become an investment banker and the opportunity to possibly play in the NFL.He turned down both.Because of his passion to win Olympic gold for the USA in the shot put he got a regular job and spent his days going to work at 6am, and then training until midnight. He would fly from sporting event to sporting event, hoping to win enough prize money to pay for his trip.He was broke, but he was magnificent.By the time the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens rolled around, he was the favorite to win the gold medal in shot put. The day finally came, and Adam Nelson found himself standing in the shot put ring in the ancient Greek stadium in Olympia, Greece, the very place where the Olympics began about 2,700 years before. Here he was, in the Olympics of Olympics, competing in the only event that would take place in the original olympic stadium from two millennia before, favored to win gold for his country. All those years of training and sacrifice had brought him to that moment. And in that moment, he was spectacular. He spun, hoisted his shot put, and screamed with emotion.And he lost.To be specific, he got second place and a silver medal.Eventually, partly because of injury and partly because it was just time, he retired and settled into the regular life of a man with a regular job who had, once upon a time while his children were too young to remember, stood in the original Olympic stadium and chased a dream.Fast forward nine years from the Athens Olympics. Adam Nelson is traveling on a business trip, and he gets a phone call from the United States Olympic Committee. They tell him that it has been discovered that the man who beat him at the Athens Olympics had used performance enhancing drugs to do so. The man had been stripped of his Olympic Gold Medal, and the Committee was trying to track Adam down so that they could give it to him, the rightful gold medal winner of the Athens Olympics in the shot put. As it turned out Adam Nelson had not trained and sacrificed to live his dream, and lost.His dream had been stolen from him.Nine years after he stood in the ring in Athens, a representative from the Olympic Committee delivered Adam his gold medal in front of a Burger King in the food court of the Atlanta airport. Today, Adam keeps that medal in a junk drawer somewhere at his house.Here is the moral of the story for us non-Olympians; If you need for the world around you to be nice and play fair and just generally give you a smooth path upon which to live out your dreams, you should prepare for disappointment.No matter how hard you work, that's not how life works. Instead, we must find our foundation in something certain. Something that is bigger than us and bigger than life, while at the same time being something that you can trust. A long time ago, God promised the world something like that. A prophecy in the book of Isaiah chapter twenty eight reads,So this is what the Sovereign Lord says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who trusts will never be dismayed.”-Isaiah 28:16That stone turned out to be Jesus. And when you are ready to be honest about the fact that you need something bigger than you and bigger than life that you can trust, He is your answer.
6 minutes | Aug 16, 2020
Once upon a time in Oklahoma we had a neighbor with a strange hobby. She would record this super-boring painting show on her old VCR and then she would follow along, pausing and rewinding and pausing some more, trying to paint the picture that the guy on TV was painting.As a little kid, it was the most excruciatingly boring thing I had ever seen in my life. It was literally like watching paint dry, and then rewinding and watching the same paint dry again.To say the least, I did not get that.The painting show was called “The Joy of Painting,” and it was hosted by an extremely puffy-haired and soft-spoken guy named Bob Ross. Every episode began with Bob standing in front of a blank canvas. Then he would talk and tell stories and paint up some “happy trees” as he called them. By the end of the show he would have created a beautiful nature scene, and the whole time he would talk and smile and tell you that you could do it too.Fast forward thirty years or so to today and I have a bit of an awkward confession… Today, I love that show.It's on Amazon Prime. I turn it on sometimes and just sit back and soak it up. It's like art therapy. It is calm, creative, and cool. At the end of an episode I almost actually believe that if I would just head off to Hobby Lobby and get some supplies, then with a fan brush and a little bit of Phthalo Blue I could paint anything I wanted to.In every episode there is this moment in which the canvas on which Bob Ross is painting transforms as I watch from a project to a painting.Up to that point, it’s just paint on a canvas. After that point, it's just finishing touches. But in that moment, it is as if the painting happens. I love that moment because it is so real. And yet, that moment is an illusion. That painting has been happening since the first brush stroke. In a sense, the painting was happening even before that, with every brush stroke that Bob Ross ever made and with every experience that ever made him. Yet, in that moment, it's like I see the painting happen.I’m telling you all of that today because I want to tell you something about you. Right now, in this moment, you are happening.Maybe your life feels like a classic renaissance painting, like the Mona Lisa, with traditional lines and everything in perfect perspective. Maybe your life is like one of those Salvador Dali paintings where everything is so bent up and out of place that its dysfunction is what makes it beautiful. Maybe your life is so abstract that even if the whole world looks at it almost no one will ever get it, but that's part of what makes it so awesome.In addition to whatever style of art you seem to be, you are also in some stage of the happening. Maybe you feel like a blank canvas that is just starting to be filled in, far from the moment in which you feel like you’ve really become anything yet. Maybe you feel like you're pretty much finished except for a stroke or two. Whatever style you think you are or stage you think you are in, the undoubtable fact is that you are happening.And like every work of art, there is an artist at work in the making of you.We call him God, and for whatever else that you are or wish you were (or weren’t), you are a unique masterpiece of His that is a part of the greatest collection of art that the universe will ever know.But unlike Bob Ross’ canvases, you are neither blank nor passive.You come into life pre-painted to some degree, and you have the ability in life to participate in your own making. On the down side, you have the ability to destroy yourself. In many ways, you already have. Yet God, this Master Artist of the Universe, is not done. He has the ability to make all things new, and He sent His Son Jesus into the world to clear our canvases of every imperfection. Right now in this moment you are still happening because the Artist is still working.Cooperate with the Master Artist in the making of you. You are too important to be left to inferior hands, even your own.
6 minutes | Aug 10, 2020
There is a creature in this world called a barnacle goose.If you ever meet one (and if it will let you) you should give it a pat on the head because every living barnacle goose has had at least one very bad day. Barnacle geese are largely from Greenland where there are no trees and arctic foxes quickly raid any next laid upon the ground. Barnacle geese solve that problem by flying up and building their nests on rocky crags a few hundred feet above the ground. That is a great plan, and works brilliantly until exactly three days after their chicks hatch.But that is when things get complicated.Barnacle geese, like all geese, do not feed their babies in the nest. All geese lead their babies to food. That is the reason you sometimes see a goose swimming across a pond with all her goslings bobbing around behind her. So at the ripe old age of three days, every newborn barnacle goose needs to leave the nest to go eat. But they are on rocky ledges about 300 feet off the ground.Here is where the bad day comes in.The mother goose solves this problem by flying gently down to the ground, and honking at her goslings to follow her. Then the baby geese, who cannot fly, waddle over to the edge of the crag and jump in her direction. Then they fall those hundreds of feet. As they fall they smash upon the rocks. And a significant percentage of them die. The rest of them sorely hobble around until they find their mother, and then waddle off behind her to find some grass to eat.In my book, that's a bad day.But for some of those little geese, it gets even worse! When they jump from the nest, many of the baby geese don’t make it all the way down on the first try. They fall part way down, smash into a ledge, and stop. Then they have an even worse decision to make than they had a first. Ten seconds prior when they jumped from the first ledge there were things about life that they did not know. They did not know they couldn’t fly. They did know what gravity was. They did not know pain. But now here they are, only ten seconds older and yet much much wiser, having painfully learned all of these things. And in the fullness of that knowledge… they have to jump again!Have you ever had that kind of bad day?The kind of bad day in which you know what you have to do, you know that it is going to be awful awful, and yet, there is no other way forward. I know you have, because we all have. Its such a common and important experience of life that psychologists have invented a term to describe the experience. They call it delayed gratification.Delayed gratification is the choice to do something hard now because it is going to bring you something better later.Delayed gratification is the reason why people work hard at jobs they don’t particularly like, or practice hard even though today isn’t game day. It is the reason why people go to college, and save up for retirement or vacations. And it is a very important thing. A lot of success in life depends on people’s willingness to choose delayed gratification.The much more tempting approach to life is to choose instant gratification. Instant gratification is the choice to do whatever feels the best or at least the least bad right now. Instant gratification is the reason why people stop going to work even though they have bills to pay, or why people feed their addictions even though they are destroying their lives. It is the reason why people stay up a few extra hours playing video games even though they’re supposed to be up early the next morning. And it is a big problem in life. A lot of life’s failures can be traced back to our patterns of choosing the easiest path in the moment rather than the right path for success.Sometimes in life, bad days are just bad days. But sometimes, bad days are very important moments. Moments in which we choose either to continue on the easier road to the life we don’t want, or we choose to do hard and scary things as we seek out the lives we do want. Sometimes the ground is far away, the rocks are really sharp, and we still need to jump.“For the joy set before him [Jesus] endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”Hebrews 12:2
6 minutes | Jul 25, 2020
I am thinking about what makes a place home.At first I thought that the answer to that question would be pretty simple. But it really isn’t. If you look around, there are two very different ways that people answer that question.Many people go by the motto that home is where your heart is. From this perspective, home is typically the place where you are from. Or more specifically, home is the place that identifies who you are. That is usually the place where you grew up, but it might be a place that you never even lived that is still an important part of your personal identity. Like your great-grandparents original homestead, for example.I live in the Sand Hills of Nebraska. Very often here in the Sand Hills people who haven’t lived here in decades will have their bodies sent back here to be buried after they die. That is a function of this belief that home is where your heart is. That idea that home is where the heart is lives deeply inside of many of us.For me, I grew up in the other camp. I grew up believing that home is where you hang your hat. We moved around a lot and my dad’s job was the kind where we weren’t really expected to be around for long in the places we lived. So for us home was simply a matter of temporary location. Wherever we were, that was home. And for many people out there, this is the accepted view. From this perspective, home is nothing more or less than the place where you live.Not surprisingly, people who say that home is where your heart is and people who say that home is where you hang your hat tend to have very different views on what makes a place home.But I suggest that we take that debate to a whole new level. I believe that when we say that home is where your heart is, we are grounding our view of home too much in the past. And I believe that when we say home is where you hang your hat, we are grounding our view of home too much in the present.I think that instead of understanding home as being something from our past or something from our present, we should understand home as being something from our future.To this end, I suggest a new saying about home. Home is where you’re headed.The book of Hebrews chapter 11 is a remarkable section of the Bible. It is about this thing we call faith which is, in a nutshell, the only way throughout history that people have been able to relate to God. Faith means that we trust Him, that we believe Him, that we accept Him. Faith is all of those things wrapped up together. And in this one chapter, we get a fast-forwarded tour of faithful people throughout all of Biblical history.The thing we see about all these people in the midst of all the very different circumstances of their lives is that they find their ultimate hope and identity and their ultimate home not in the past or the present, but in the future.For example, regarding a super-important guy named Abraham from the Old Testament we read, “By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.”Hebrews 11:8-10A few sentences later we read, “All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had the opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.”Hebrews 11:13-16For the faithful people singled out in this powerful chapter of the Bible, home was not a nostalgic idea from the past, or a ho-hum acceptance of the present. For these people, home is where they were headed.Because they found their home in their faith God, they lived their lives neither wishing for the past nor lost in the present, but moving steadily, hopefully, and faithfully toward their guaranteed future. And I promise you, the thing that God built for them and is building for us is greater than anything we could ever build for ourselves.Therefore, regardless if you call home a patch of land where your great-grandparents set fence posts or just some house or apartment where you haven’t even paid your second month's rent yet, my curiosity is grounded neither in where you come from nor where you are.I’m curious about where you are headed.Who are you living for, and where is it taking you? Who is building the house where you are going to spend eternity, and who are you trusting to take you there? If we are going to figure out what makes a place home, we must first figure out what and who we have faith in.My advice? Have faith in Jesus. He has made an eternal home for us and made the only way for us to get there, which is through faith. For me, I have decided not to live as if home is where I hang my hat and I have also decided not to live as if home is where my heart is. For me, home is where I am headed. How about you?
2 minutes | Jul 22, 2020
Tubing down a river is a beautiful thing.A tube is a perfect device on which to float down a river because it does two jobs really well. First, it floats. That’s important if you swim like I do. Secondly, because of its shape a tube catches a lot of current. That combination makes a trusty old inner tube the perfect device upon which to float lazily down a river.If you ever try to tube up a river, however, you will discover instantly that your tube isn’t your friend anymore. No matter how hard you try it is pretty much impossible to float upstream on a tube.In life we have a very similar problem.Most of the time, we just float with the current. Wherever life goes, we go with it. But sometimes, we don’t like where our lives are going. But when we try to reverse course and go upstream for a while, everything gets really, really hard, and not only can we not float upstream, we can’t even just stay still.Whenever we challenge the current of life, we discover that our lives are shaped very well for going with the current, and very badly for going against it.One of the things that I love about Jesus is that He is the answer to that problem. When a person gives their life to Him, then Jesus becomes an anchor of safety in our lives. And He also begins to reshape us. Instead of being people who are basically slaves to the current to life, we are redesigned so that we can float towards Him no matter what direction the current is pushing us.If you’re feeling stuck in a bad current of life, He is the answer for that. And many other things.When you’re ready for Him, He’s ready for you.
6 minutes | Jul 15, 2020
Every house has a lawn full of grass. Yet I can think of exactly one person that I know who says that they enjoy mowing their yard.For that one guy, mowing his yard is a hobby. And maybe for a few others also. But for the rest of us, we do not mow our yards because we specifically enjoy it or look forward to it. We mow our yards because we like having a nice yard.For most of us, mowing the lawn is not something we particularly want. Having a mowed yard is what we want.We don’t do it because we like it. We do it because it's worth it.In that reality lies a very important challenge. Sometimes in life, the only thing standing between where you are and where you want to be is something that you don’t want to do.Maybe you’re a person who has some bills to pay and you want to be a person whose bills are paid, but standing between where you are and where you want to be is a long week of work at a job you don’t necessarily like.Maybe you’re a person who has a health issue and you want to be a person who doesn’t have a health issue, but standing between where you are and where you want to be are some treatment options that sound pretty unpleasant.Maybe you’re a person whose life is falling apart and you want to be a person whose life is coming back together, but standing between where you are and where you want to be are some really important choices that you need to make and follow through with.In all of those cases and many, many more you are like the person standing in tall grass who wants a nice yard but doesn’t like to mow. Chances are you can probably get to where you want to be. You just have to do something that you don’t want to do to get there.As I ponder that I am encouraged by the fact that once upon a time, Jesus had a very similar problem. It was night time, and He was in such a tight spot that He was literally sweating blood. He was on a hill in a grove of trees, surrounded by a world of people who were hopelessly doomed. Because of their sins, they and every other person that would ever lived were condemned inescapably to Hell.But Jesus was no regular guy. He was and is the Son of God come from Heaven, and the reason He came was to offer rescue and real life forever to these people, and all people.He knew that standing between the doom that all people are born into and the freedom and real life that He wanted for us was something horrible for Him. The hard thing standing between where we were and where He wanted us to be was His own horrible death. If there was going to be any hope for us He had to die as a sacrifice for our sins.So He sat on that hilltop. Under those trees. Waiting for the bad guys to come and take Him to torture Him and murder Him. And he prayed.To His Father in Heaven He said basically, “God, if there is any other way, I don’t want to do this.”It was the only way, just like He knew it was. And He was willing. He did the hard thing of dying as a sacrificial trade. His death so that we could have real life.Jesus died. Then He came back to life, and ascended into Heaven. In the book of Hebrews as people were already going out all over the world to announce the truth of this amazing salvation, we get a glimpse into the mind of Jesus. A glimpse at His motivation as He was choosing to do the hard thing.“For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”-Hebrews 12:2He did the hard thing for the joy of what would come after. And do you know what the “joy” was?Personally, I think His joy was you.As you gaze into your own life and consider where you are, where you want to be, and the hard things that may lie in between, I have two thoughts. First, if the thing you want is the right thing, then the hard things in between are worth it. Second and far more importantly, Jesus has already done the hardest thing that you need the most and could never do for yourself.If you are willing to get honest with God about the hard truth that you are a sinner, and you are willing to choose to believe that Jesus came and died to be your Savior, then you are going to have the privilege of following Him into a new life forever.It is as if Jesus is standing there waiting for your permission to mow the overgrown, tangled up lawn of your soul. And you just get to say yes.What a life.
5 minutes | Jul 10, 2020
I have a bit of an odd interest in things that are together, but don’t go together. If that makes sense. A small storm cloud surrounded by blue sky. A run-down house in a nice neighborhood. An Iowa fan in the middle of the Husker student section.Weird and out of place things like that are, for whatever reason, really interesting to me.Once upon a time in Montana there was a meek, soft-spoken, 83-year-old man named Eugene Peterson. He was famous for writing a book that is a super-famous re-telling of the whole Bible, called The Message. Somewhere else in the world right now there is a 60-year-old Irishman named Paul. And he is basically the opposite of Eugene Peterson. He is loud, flashy, and a rock star. For decades, the world has known Him as Bono, the lead singer of the band U2.But as it turns out, Bono the rock star and Eugene Peterson the scholar were friends. Bono started trying to contact Eugene Peterson years ago after he started to read The Message, and they remained friends for the remainder of Eugene Peterson’s life.A few years ago, Bono came to Montana to spend a day with the Petersons at their lake house. A camera crew came, filmed the whole thing, and made a short documentary about it.Eugene Peterson is standing at his front door in a blue button-up shirt and khaki pants, with an olive green coffee maker percolating in the kitchen. And here comes Bono in tinted glasses and tinted hair and two mismatched gold earrings looking like he just got off stage from a fashion show for aging rock stars.When these two guys come into the picture together, It's like watching a middle-aged peacock meet an old turtle. Like seeing a hipster in a brand new BMW and an old truck driver getting snowed in at the same little gas station. Like two different worlds colliding.And yet there is this undertone of connection between them that is spectacular.Very quickly you see that they have two things in common that bridge all the divides between them. The first is that they are both passionate and vocal Christians. The second is that they are both artists. At heart they are both artists who want to know and proclaim and live out the greatness of God in life, even though they do it in totally different ways.As I think about them, and me, and us, I am reminded of a couple things.For the most part, we are not artists. Or at least we don’t think of ourselves that way. We tend to pride ourselves on being straight-forward people who live our lives as best we can with what we’ve got to work with. And There is something valuable and important in that view of ourselves that we should celebrate.But very often as we go about this work of trying to plainly live our lives, we get lost.We fail to see ourselves for what we are, life for what it is, and ultimately God for who He is. And that is where guys like Bono and Eugene Peterson can become tremendously helpful for us.We live in the midst of an indescribable happening. Yet it is so common to us that we usually don’t even see it.Right now in this moment, as we are driving and working, and sitting, and shopping, both the greatest tragedy in history and the greatest rescue in history are unfolding simultaneously. In the tragedy, life is spiraling out of control. We are sick, sad, hateful, hurtful, and hopeless. Yet even in the midst of the worst of all of that, God is working to call us to Him and to make all things new.So often as we seek to live plainly, we live blindly. Unaware of the tragedy that is destroying us and the God who is working to save us.Let's be artists for a while. May we open our eyes to see, and search together for this God who saves.
3 minutes | Jul 3, 2020
I’m not much of a joiner, but there is at least one organization in this world that I would like to be a part of. It is an international organization called the Cloud Appreciation Society.The membership process is as follows:1. Sign up.2. Wait for your membership badge to arrive in the mail.3. Go out, find a comfortable place to sit or lay down, and watch the clouds.You watch the clouds. Not for any scientific purpose. Not to predict the weather. If you are a member of the Cloud Appreciation Society, you go out and watch the clouds just because it's fun and majestic and relaxing.I think cloud watching sounds like a great pastime. But I don’t do that. Not because I don’t have a membership badge to some silly organization. I don’t do it for many of the same reasons that you probably don’t do some things that you would like to do. We talk about time and we talk about money and we talk about other obligations, and each of those things are important in their own way. But ultimately, many of us simply choose not to invest in ourselves. It may be the case that you even feel guilty at the thought of doing something that is basically just for you.If you are a self-centered person who demands that other people sacrifice themselves to make your life what you want it to be, this message isn’t really for you. But if you are one of the many people out there who spends your life working and sacrificing and have done that for so long that you actually feel guilty at the thought of doing something just for you, I have some very important theological news for you.You matter.Before you ever do anything or say anything or help anybody or try and be a good person, or whatever, you just matter.Therefore, I have a challenge for you. Treat yourself today like you are important. Do something just because it's good for you, even if it doesn’t work at all well with all of your other obligations. Watch some clouds, go fishing, build something, read a book, go to rehab. Whatever it is, do it. And do it because you matter.Treat other people like they matter, as well. And while you’re at it, remember this— God thinks you matter too. And He did something to prove it. He sent His only Son Jesus to die for our sins, so that we could accept Him and be set free. And one day He’s going to come back for His people—through the clouds, in fact.And who knows, maybe we’ll be out there watching.
4 minutes | Jun 24, 2020
Recently I stumbled across an interesting discovery. I walked up to the edge of an embankment out in a pasture and there, at the bottom of the embankment, was an old car.Think about that.Once upon a time, this old car was a tremendous feat of human accomplishment. It was as sleek, powerful, comfortable, and cool as anything that people had ever made. It had been meticulously designed, engineered, produced, and marketed. Someone had handed over a lot of hard-earned money and proudly driven that car home and parked it in their driveway. Imagine their smile as they showed it off to their friends.And yet, the last time a human being paid any attention to that car, they were literally pushing it over a cliff just to get it out of their sight.That's not uncommon. The country around us is littered with old houses and barns and cars and equipment that were once prized and valuable possessions, but are now junk. Isn’t it fascinating that today's treasures are destined to be tomorrow's trash? It's an old problem that people have struggled with for a long time. You work your whole life away to discover that nothing has really changed and your life hasn’t really seemed to matter.The book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible is basically one long complaint about this particular oddity of life. In the first chapter, we read;What has been will be again,what has been done will be done again;there is nothing new under the sun.Is there anything of which one can say,“Look! This is something new”?It was here already, long ago;it was here before our time.No one remembers the former generations,and even those yet to comewill not be rememberedby those who follow them.-Ecclesiastes 1:9-11It is sobering to think that right now we are spending today's effort on tomorrow's junk.But as I think about that car at the bottom of the embankment and all that it represents, personally, I am not hopeless. I’m OK with the fact that life is bigger than me. I’m OK with the fact that my own great-great grand-kids probably won’t even know my name. I really am.What I am as I consider that old forgotten worthless car, is mindful. It makes me think. Specifically, it makes me think about what matters in life, and it challenges me to invest my life in those things.And for me, I know what matters. God matters, and people matter. Those are the two things in life that are really worth investing in. And helping people get connected to God? For me, that's the best thing of all.
4 minutes | Jun 17, 2020
Imagine with me for a moment that you are spending a little time this Summer thinking about football season. As you are daydreaming, you start to wonder, “What is the very best play to run when it's third down and five and your team is down by two points in the third quarter?”That seems like a tough question. Especially because I do not daydream about football. But no worries. In our imaginary world your buddy has just loaned you a copy of a book called the Ultimate Book of Football, and everyone agrees that it has all the answers. So you open up the Ultimate Book of Football to the page where somebody told you to look to find that particular information.But instead of a simple answer to your question, what you get is a first-person account of the Chicago Bears entire history-making 1985 football season, written by Hall of Fame Head Coach Mike Ditka himself.On the one hand that would be frustrating, because it's not a simple answer to your question. But if you’re paying attention, what you actually got was far more important than what you were even looking for.Back here in the real world, I think that reading the Bible is something like that. The wonderful and frustrating thing about the Bible is that it is far more than we often want it to be. Most of the time what we seem to want the Bible to be is some sort of a basic rule book for life. A simple, well-organized list of rules to tell us what to do when we don’t know what to do. But instead, what the Bible is is the true story of God’s work in the universe all the way from the beginning of Creation to an eternal New Creation at some point in the future. And that story is told in a bunch of separate pieces in the midst of unfolding human history in a way that is directly from God but is also tied to the culture of the time when God spoke and the person through whom God spoke.The Bible is, in a word, amazing. It is a work of divine art through human artists, given for the purpose of helping people to know who God is, who we are, how we can connect with Him, and how we can live the lives that He has planned for us.As a result of all of that, what the Bible has to offer us is typically far more than what we are looking for.If we can humble ourselves and simply allow the Bible to be what it is, then something amazing begins to happen. God's words in the Bible begin to challenge us, and encourage us, and impart wisdom to us, and change us. And rather than just learning a few rules for living, we learn the source and meaning of life itself.
3 minutes | Jun 10, 2020
One of my favorite mysteries is an old Sherlock Holmes story about a murdered man and a stolen horse. It's called The Adventure of Silver Blaze. One of the things I love about it is that the clue that Sherlock Holmes recognized that opened up the whole case for him was not something that happened, but rather something that didn’t happen. It's a fun detective story, you should check it out sometime.Even if you don’t, the truth of life is that you will have more than your fair share of mysteries.That is not an entirely bad thing. Mysteries are a sort of double-edged sword in life. Some can be a lot fun. They give us a chance to solve problems or find solutions or invent things, and that is all good stuff of life from where I’m sitting. But other mysteries in our lives aren’t so good. Especially the ones that never get solved. Especially especially the ones where we are left with pain and nagging, unanswered questions.The mysteries of life can break you. But they can also make you.In the true story that is our lives there is a mystery that is so big and so important that every other mystery of life is found somewhere inside of this one. Once upon a time, everything was perfect. Then a horrible thing happened, and things weren’t perfect anymore. In fact, it was kind of awful. So God did the one thing that could be done to make things perfect again. And right now in this moment—as we walk and talk and eat and sleep and laugh and cry and live and die—both the perfect and the awful are happening at the same time. And all of life is moving towards a final event in which that which is awful will be ended forever and perfection will be established for all of eternity.It is certainly a double-edged sword, this mystery in which we live. But it is a glorious mystery in which you can find freedom that you have never known.“This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.”-Ephesians 3:6
5 minutes | Jun 7, 2020
Once upon a time wagon trains moved back and forth across the country and adventurers from the East Coast tried their hand at life in the Wild West. During that time it was a common scene in every town big enough to have a saloon to see a group of guys huddled around a table playing poker. And if you would have walked up to one of those poker tables, most likely you would have seen a big buck horn handled knife stuck in the table in front of one of those guys.The players called that knife “the buck,” and they stuck it in the table in front of the dealer so that as the game progressed the buck would travel around the table in front of each player as it was his turn to deal the cards.If ever one of the players did not want to deal the cards when his turn came and the knife was stuck into the table in front of him, he would "pass the buck" by taking the knife and sticking it into the table in front of the guy next to him.A lot has changed since those wild western days. Jet aircraft zip back and forth across the sky high above the old trails of the wagon trains, most of us don’t play much poker, and we hopefully keep sharps objects off the table when we do.But passing the buck? That has been turned into an art form.Once upon a time, passing the buck was a simple symbol that meant that you were passing up your turn to take the responsibility of being the dealer. But these days, passing the buck is more like a way of life. Responsibility is hard sometimes. Nobody likes to be wrong, nobody likes to fail, and passing the buck to the next guy when we do somehow feels better than taking ownership of the fact that sometimes we are wrong and sometimes, we do fail.The reason for that goes back much farther than the days of the Wild West.Long long before that there was a time when everything was literally perfect. The world and the universe were young, God had created everything from nothing, and it was exactly how He wanted it. He had made the first couple, Adam and Eve, He made them a perfect land in which to live, and every day He would come down and take an evening stroll with them. Adam and Eve had a perfect relationship with God, with each other, and with the world in which they lived. They even had a perfect relationship with themselves. No conflict or confusion or doubt or anything of the sort.Then the unthinkable happened. They traded it all away in pursuit of a lie.That evening when God came down to walk with them, they hid from Him. And when He talked with them about what they had done, they did the most fascinating thing... they passed the buck! Adam blamed Eve. Eve blamed a snake. In a back-handed kind of way, Adam even blamed God.That's right, folks. At ground zero of the first wrong thing ever done passing the buck was the immediate reaction.Since then, not much has changed. We are all very different people with different skills, abilities and interests. And every one of us is a master of self-justification. But self-justification didn't do a thing to help Adam and Eve, and it's not doing a thing to help us either. Instead it locks us down into life-long patterns of guilt and shame.So that gives me an idea.Lets stop passing the buck.Lets be like President Harry Truman, who had a sign on his desk in the Oval Office that said "the buck stops here." Whatever you've got going on today, own it. If you need to do something, do it. If you need to stop something, stop it. And I know you need to be forgiven for something. So go to God and ask for it. Jesus took all of our bucks on Himself when He came and died for our sins. Lets stop passing them around and start accepting the new, free life that only He can give us.
5 minutes | May 29, 2020
The meadow was beautiful and so was the morning. The sun shined above me, to my left was a small pond created by an ingenious little beaver dam, and directly in front of me was a small, lively stream bubbling its way to a nearby creek. There were birds singing, ducks quacking, and the occasional turkey gobbling in the trees. It was like a little piece of Heaven on earth.And as I sat there in the green grass of the meadow taking it all in, I glanced downwards just in time to see a huge hairy spider come crawling across the grass just inches away from me.Fun fact about me--I love meadows and sunshine and beaver dams and little streams and wildlife. That's why I was there that day. But I hate spiders. With a passion. They scare me half to death. I can truthfully say that I would rather eat a worm than touch a spider. So when that spider showed up, my little taste of heaven on earth came to an immediate halt as I went scrambling backwards towards safety.But after I regained my senses a little bit, something important occurred to me. It occurred to me that this is life.In life, very often the good and the bad and the merry and the scary, they all tend to come right together in a mixed up and unpredictable jumble.I think it's important to be honest about that.So important, in fact, that I didn't even squish that big hairy spider. I just let him go on his hairy merry way. It was worth him wrecking my moment just for the life lesson.Very few of us are strangers to hard times. And yet we always manage to be surprised when they come around, as if they are somehow out of place in the midst of our otherwise perfect lives. But as I think about it, living as if bad things are unexpected and perfection is expected is somewhat absurd.It's like sitting in the wild grass of a spring-time meadow and expecting never to see a spider.I think that if we're going to live our lives wisely (and i am all for that) then we need to learn to not live them as people who claim entitlement to impossible perfection. Instead we need to live them as people who claim something far more realistic, and far more powerful than that. We should live as people who cling to a hope that is bigger than the best and worst that life has to offer. A hope that is, in fact, bigger than life itself.The story of those who expect only good things in life is always the story of disappointment. But the story of those who build their lives on hope in God is something else entirely.No doubt everybody is going to have hard times, and sometimes impossibly hard times. But people who put their hope in God get to experience those hard times differently. It is the difference between living life as a victim of uncontrollable circumstances and living life as a willing soldier in the army of the world's greatest general. There will be hard days. But victory is guaranteed and our cause is worth it.Today you may be basking in the sun or balking at the spiders. In either case, my hope that you have the courage to hope. Specifically, I hope you have the courage to put your hope, your trust, in Jesus, who died for your sins and then came back to life so that He could give you new life.He’s not going to make all the spiders go away. Not, immediately, anyway. But He is going to take care of you, and never let you go. And whatever happens, He’s worth it.And so are you.
4 minutes | May 23, 2020
Many years ago I spent my summers traveling on a wheat harvest crew. We would take our equipment to exotic places (like Oklahoma) and we would cut wheat like crazy.Except when we didn’t.The name of the game in wheat harvest is hurry up and wait because you always have to be ready for the wheat, but the wheat is very often not ready for you. As a result, almost every morning after rushing to the field and preparing our equipment for the day we would have to wait for the sun to dry up all of the previous nights dew out of the wheat before we could begin harvesting for the day.However, it was in those long and often frustrating moments of waiting that I discovered something that I would have never learned otherwise. As fields of ripe wheat dry down in the morning sun, the wheat very quietly crackles. It sounds something like rice krispies in milk.If you’ve ever had a time-sensitive job to do, then you know the frustration of having to wait to do it. But nonetheless, one of my very favorite memories of those days in my life is of stretching out in the morning sun on top of the cab of my combine, waiting and listening as the wheat very quietly crackled all around me.One of the things that I am learning about life is that it tends to be pretty complex. There always seems to be something going on that we don’t fully understand, and that can be really frustrating. But if we are willing to look for it, there is oftentimes much that is beautiful in the complexity of it all.I think about the simple elegance of a ripe field of golden wheat blowing and crackling in a light morning breeze and I wonder how much of life happening all around us that we never even see. We’ve got stuff to do and places to be, there is no doubt about that. But I wonder about the things that we might be missing as we go. And I wonder what great truths of life we might stumble onto if we took a minute to slow down and look around.In the hurry up and wait experiences of my life, I have often placed great value on the hurrying up and had very little patience for the waiting. But I’m starting to wonder if maybe I’ve got that wrong. I’m starting to wonder if some of the greatest things that life has to offer happen in the waiting.Rather than being an unproductive bother, maybe there is a way of waiting that is the furthest thing from a waste of time. In fact, there has to be.Dozens of times in the Bible people are called to wait on God. One good example is Psalm 130:5-6.I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits,and in his word I put my hope.I wait for the Lordmore than watchmen wait for the morning,more than watchmen wait for the morning.Today I’m thinking that maybe sometimes as we chase after life we do too much and we wait too little. But God is the one with the good plan and with the power to make it happen. Let's make a point together of slowing down, listening to the wheat crackle, and waiting on Him to do His thing. If we do that, I am confident that we will not be disappointed.
5 minutes | May 17, 2020
Subscribe To Our Podcast! Once upon a time when I was a kid, I had a dream. Specifically, I wanted to be good at riding a skateboard. To be clear, I never lived in a town that had decent streets or sidewalks, and I have about enough natural athletic ability to fill a small thimble. But I had a skateboard and I had a dream, and man, did I try. My greatest accomplishment on that skateboard was teaching our dog to pull me down the sidewalk. And that was about it. Fast forward a few decades, and not long ago through a unique series of events, I found myself standing with one foot on the smooth concrete of a brand new skate park and the other foot on my very old skateboard. The dream came roaring back to life and for a few glorious minutes, I lived it. I was a not-very-young man with a very old skateboard cruising the ramps of that skate park like we were made for each other. It was a spectacular moment. At one point I literally yelled out with joy! But let's not kid ourselves. We all know how this is going to end, and pretty soon, it did. Very shortly after my joyful shout, gravity showed up and my moment of glory came to a crashing, painful, halt. As I lay there, flat on my back in the middle of the skate park, I pondered the cold hard reality of it all. Mostly I was just hoping that I was going to be able to find all of my skateboard, at least part of my dignity, and manage to get back to my car. But in addition to that, I did ponder, and a few things occurred to me. It occurred to me why everyone else at the skatepark that day was well under the age of 18. I get that now. It occurred to me that the smoothest concrete on Earth is still hard as a rock when you land on it. I had injuries for quite a while that reminded me about that. And most painfully of all, it occurred to me that some things in life are not for everybody. And that one still hurts. Not only can some people defy gravity on a skateboard while the rest of us can't, that fact is true in life in many other ways as well. Some people get to have their dream job. Some people get to live on the beach. Some people get to be healthy and a hundred and five. But the rest of us don't. The rest of us have jobs that pay the bills, hopefully. The rest of us live wherever we can afford to. The rest of us get sick, and sometimes we don't get well. The rest of us end up in a heap in the middle of a skate park, have to lay there for 10 minutes before we can even move, and then a child delivers our skateboard to us and we hobble back to our car while our crushed dreams stay lying on the concrete. OK, that last part may not be everybody, but you get the point. The point is that some things in life are not for everybody. And from here, that feels like really bad news. So now let's talk about the good news.The good news is that just like some things in life are not for everybody, other things are. Don't take my word for it though. Let's not kid ourselves, I might still have a bit of a concussion. Take it instead from the mouth of an angel.A long time ago, a baby was born into the world. His parents were so poor that the baby was born in a barn. But even laying there in a pile of straw, this was no ordinary kid. After he was born, this terrifying warrior angel showed up to some of the most beat-down and outcast people in town with an announcement. He said, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.”The truth is that I'm never going to catch big air on a halfpipe. Or at least I'm not going to live to tell about it if I do. But I can live with that because I have something so very much greater. I love the fact that Jesus was born in a barn and that his first invited guests were the low-lifes of the town. I believe that God set that up on purpose so that for all time we could read that story in the Book of Luke, Chapter 2 in the Bible and know that Jesus is not like a dream job or a house on the beach. Jesus is for everybody. And that includes you. Donate Buy On Amazon Buy On Iphone/Apple Books Join our email list Email Address Sign Up Awesome!Click on the confirmation email that just came to your inbox (or junk box), and we are good to go!
4 minutes | May 1, 2020
Subscribe To Our Podcast! It has often been said that there are three little words that every person longs to hear—“I love you.” It is true that we all long to hear those words because we all need to be loved. But it is also true that there are four little words that every person longs to say at some time or other—four little words that feel like they bring justice to the world.Those words are “I told you so.”Doesn’t it feel great to be right? Being right may not be anywhere near as important in life as being loved, but being right sure feels like it's almost as important. So much so that the next time you hear a person say, “I hate to say I told you so but…” you can know that person is lying! They may not want to be a jerk about it, but they love to be right just as much as the next person does.In fact, we love being right so much that we make it really hard for ourselves and other people to admit it when we are wrong. That’s a big problem because although it may never happen to you, the rest of us actually are wrong from time to time. And when we are wrong, there are four words that we definitely do not want to hear—and guess what they are—“I told you so.”We so love to be right that we make it really hard for ourselves and other people to be wrong. What a pickle. We’re like a mom at dinner time who is mad at her kids for not eating their vegetables and says, “If you don’t want to eat your peas, that’s fine! But don’t come crying to me when you get scurvy.” As we process our situation there are two things that have to be said. First off, and I mean this from the bottom of my heart, who gets scurvy? I mean, come on Mom, what are we, seventeenth century pirates? Secondly, and much more importantly, I have some good news on this whole “I told you so” situation. God is not like us. One of the characteristics of God is that He is righteous. That means that he doesn’t just know what is right, He is what is right. And because He is righteous, He is kind to us when we are ready to own the fact that sometimes we are wrong. In fact, throughout the Bible, God is always the hardest on people who are self-righteous. And rather than blasting out an “I told you so” speech, He is always compassionate towards people who are ready to accept their wrongs. Jesus told a story one time in the Book of Luke, Chapter 18, in which one guy that everybody thought of as a good guy and another guy who everybody thought of as a bad guy both showed up in the same place at the same time to pray. The good guy prays to God and says something like, “God, thank you that I’m not a rotten person like this bad guy over here.” And the bad guy prays to God and says, “God, forgive me, I’m a bad guy.” Then Jesus basically says to the crowd, “Guess who went home forgiven that day?”You should look up that story and read it because it’s amazing, but I’ll tell you how it ends:It was the bad guy that got forgiven that day.When someone admits to us that they were wrong, we say, “I told you so.” But when someone admits to God that they were wrong, God says, “I forgive you.” Here’s what I’m thinking. Let’s all become people who have received forgiveness from God, and are really good at handing it out to other people. Donate Buy On Amazon Buy On Iphone/Apple Books Join our email list Email Address Sign Up Awesome!Click on the confirmation email that just came to your inbox (or junk box), and we are good to go!
4 minutes | Apr 17, 2020
I have a brother-in-law named Matt. Matt is a good guy as far as brother-in-laws go, but in one pretty important way he has kind of destroyed my life. Here’s how it happened. If you know me, then you know that I like coffee. And it used to be that I liked all coffee. I first started drinking coffee when I was in Middle School and got a job on the clean up crew at our local sale barn. Whatever coffee was left over in the coffee pot from the sale a few days before, that’s what we drank. And from then until very recently, my standards for coffee never really changed. If it was black and preferably warm, I drank it.But then my brother-in-law Matt went and started his very own coffee roasting company. Because he’s good at his job, he imports some of the best coffee in the world from all around the world and fresh roasts it for his customers. And because he’s a good brother-in-law, he sends me lots of coffee, and usually for free! But guess what happened after I started drinking my brother-in-laws coffee? After all that world-class, fresh-roasted coffee, when I would drink other coffee, it started to not taste very good. And then other coffee started to taste— just plain bad. My whole life, coffee was just coffee. But now that I’ve gotten a taste for good stuff, the good stuff is all I want to drink.Here’s why we’re talking about this. In my experience in life and with God, we all tend to settle and settle hard. We get a taste for life that is quite frankly pretty bitter, and we accept it and settle in to it, because we believe that that is what life tastes like. And even when we see a few other people living lives that appear to be much sweeter than our own, still we just keep on in the midst of our own bitterness because one way or another we come to the conclusion that even if the sweet life is out there for somebody, it's not out there for us.As it turns out, God has a little something to say about that. There is this old song in the Bible called Psalm 34. It's about how great God is and how he rescues people. In this song there is a line that says “Taste and see that the Lord is good.”When I think about that line, I smile. That is the line that comes to my mind when I think about my silly experience with coffee and all of our deadly series experiences with life. With coffee, once I got the good stuff, it was hard to go back because I had no idea what I was missing.God's love is like that.It may be the case that you are slogging through a pretty bitter life right now having never had a taste of real life with God. If so, my hope is that you will follow the advice of that song and taste and see that the Lord is good. Further, my hope is that He will destroy your life like my brother-in-law destroyed my coffee drinking. I hope that as you taste and see how great He is, life apart from Him will become more and more bitter and you won’t even want it anymore. You will just want Him. He loves you, He is powerful and amazing, and He is free.You ought to try that.
5 minutes | Apr 11, 2020
I was raised in a house that had a complete set of big, blue, encyclopedias. They took up an entire book shelf full of space. But, these particular encyclopedias did not just take up space. I was raised to love knowledge, and we read those encyclopedias. In fact, when I was a child my dad would actually gather us up and read to us not from children's books, but from those big blue encyclopedias.Fast forward a few decades to today and--fun fact about me--I do not own a set of encyclopedias. But it's not because I don’t love knowledge, I do. It's because the world has changed. Throughout most of human history, knowledge was a very difficult thing to come by. Even the very basic research of any given subject required great amounts of time, and expense, and travel. But things are different now. Primarily because of the development of the internet and other forms of information technology, knowledge is now an easy thing to come by. I don’t own a set of encyclopedias because I can access vastly more information than any set of encyclopedias can hold from my computer or even my phone in a matter of seconds. Oh, and when I read to my kids, guess what I read them?? Children’s books! (Come, on dad. I mean seriously…)More to the point, When it comes to knowledge, the world has changed drastically. But, interestingly, it also hasn’t. When the internet was developing, it was commonly predicted that as readily available knowledge swept around the world, the result would be a grand liberalization of thought. The idea was that as people knew more and more about what other people thought and believed, then we would all find common ground and areas of agreement and the world would become a more peaceful and moderate place. At this point, we are going to call that prediction a huge failure because what really happened was the exact opposite of that. Rather than a mass liberalization or moderation, the world has experienced a great polarization. Rarely in human history have people been more divided and distrustful of one another than they are today. The reason for that is a little concept that psychologists like to call confirmation bias.Confirmation bias means that when confronted with a bunch of information, people tend to pick out the stuff that they already agree with and ignore the stuff that challenges what they think.News Flash— people love to be right. Because of that, when we go looking for information we usually don’t look for information that broadens or corrects our views on anything. Mostly we are looking for information that confirms what they already believe. Hence the term confirmation bias. As it turns out, all this time in human history as people have been hating and hurting one another, lack of information has not been the primary problem. Arrogance has been. And if we are ever going to solve this problem, it's not going to be through some new technology. It's going to happen through an old piece of wisdom.Three different times the Bible tells us that fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. And I confess that for a long time I never really understood that. Why do you have to fear God to be smart? But I think I’m finally beginning to understand a little bit of why that is true. When people fear God, we begin to understand the universe in its proper order. Namely, we understand that He is big, and powerful, and right, and we aren’t necessarily any of those things. And, therefore, He is exalted and we are humbled. And that, I think, is the key. From that place of humility instead of arrogantly pursuing and defending our own rightness, we can seek out that which is actually true. I think that is how the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and my hope for all of us is that we can start together from that single point of truth and see God and life for what they actually are.
4 minutes | Apr 4, 2020
I’m thinking about this day that we call Good Friday, the Friday before Easter.Good Friday is the anniversary of the day that Jesus was executed by being nailed to a big wooden cross and hanging there until he died. This form of execution, called crucifixion, was the ancient world’s most brutal, painful, and humiliating form of the death penalty. And on this day not quite 2,000 years ago, it was done to Jesus.But Jesus was the last person on earth who deserved to die like that.He was amazing. Everything about Him was amazing. He was the Son of God come from Heaven to save us from our sins. He said things that no one had ever said before and performed miracles that defied the laws of nature, physics, and medicine. He was kind and loving and caring to people who nobody else in the world cared about. And He was challenging and even threatening to people who nobody else in the world dared to challenge. In a nutshell, He was perfect.So if this form of execution they called crucifixion was so terrible, and this Savior we call Jesus was so wonderful, why do we call the anniversary of the day that Jesus was crucified “Good” Friday?The short answer to that question is because it was good for us. Good Friday is the anniversary of what is arguably the most important day in human history. On this day, when Jesus died, He died as a sacrifice for our sins. In His death, the punishment that we all deserve for all the ways that we have rejected God and gone our own way, is paid for. Because of Jesus’ death on the cross, all that stuff that separates people from God doesn’t have to be there anymore. It can be forgiven. That is good news! And that is why we call the Friday before Easter Good Friday.Good Friday says some amazing things about Jesus— it says that He has the power and authority to die as a sacrifice for our sins, and the love and compassion and courage to actually do it. And Good Friday also says something about you. It says that at the worst of your worst, in the depth of your sinfulness, when Jesus looks at you He sees someone worth dying for.Isn’t that amazing? We waste so much of our lives trying to invent a way to somehow be good enough for God. But from the beginning that is not how it works. God brings all the goodness to our salvation. All we bring is the need for it. And yet, at the worst of our worst, when Jesus looks at us He sees someone worth dying for.As I think about how great of a gift that is, and how Jesus’ death has the power to bring us new life forever, there is a part of me that wants to wish you a happy Good Friday. But I just can’t do it. For me, Good Friday is far too emotionally complicated of a day to say that. So instead, I wish you a thoughtful Good Friday. I wish you a day in which you have the courage to remember that Jesus gave His life for you, and the humility to respond to that historical fact by choosing to give your life to Him.Good Friday. What a day.
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