Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2015: A Different Year

A couple of days ago I shared with my wife how I felt a shifting taking place in the unseen realm. The Lord will do extraordinary things during the upcoming season. You are chosen to partner with Him in these things. However, for many, a new view or perspective is required. You must change the way you think in order to see things differently.

God's people, having the mind of Christ, have the ability to think and achieve unusual things. Consider that word: unusual. This refers to things that are different from the "usual" or what others may consider "normal" or "average." The reason many accomplish average results is because they think like the average person thinks. If we think like everybody else, we will do what everybody else does. This is not extraordinary; it is normal or average. We are not to think, act, or become what the average person thinks, does, or becomes. We are a peculiar people called to accomplish extraordinary results.

When Jesus walked on the earth, He did extraordinary things. In fact, some of His earthly accomplishments were so remarkable that people were routinely astonished. We know from Scripture that Jesus thought His Father’s thoughts, spoke His Father’s words, and did His Father’s works. So, whose thoughts are we thinking? Whose words do we speak? What kind of works do our lives produce?

These are all reasons for us to have our minds renewed. If we do not have renewed minds, we will continue to think like the world. We will talk like the world and also pretty much look the same. However, as our minds are renewed, we will no longer be in conformity with what is average or normal. We will be transformed into that unique, unusual, extraordinary individual that God has called us to be.

I challenge everyone reading this to step forward into a new season. As God is bringing a shift in the unseen realm, it is our privilege to manifest some very extraordinary results. Let’s take our eyes and hearts off the things of this world and focus on His Kingdom. As we commit to doing some things differently in the days ahead, we can expect to produce some unique, other than average results.

Grace & Peace,

Saturday, October 25, 2014

A Simple Blessing

Greetings from the Dominican Republic! Vickie and I trust that you are blessed and walking in the Lord’s favor and provision. We have attached a very important video link with this blog and ask you to take just a few minutes to view it.

What you will see is how God often brings us to a place of opportunity when we are not really looking for it. This little project is simply the result of a morning encounter with a young street vendor who was out selling fruit. My heart was instantly touched as I inquired as to why this child was on the street and not in school.

Well . . . one thing often leads to another, and as a result, we were able to get several of these street kids into the classroom. Of course, this was the result of the generosity demonstrated by many of you. It truly has been a blessing for us to witness what God can do when His people work together and give according to their ability. The lives of these children and parents (mostly single mothers) have been touched in a powerful and significant way.

By the way, the blessing can continue. There are still many kids that need assistance in order to purchase required supplies to attend school. Please consider joining this partnership of love and compassion. For approximately $50, we can purchase the uniform, shoes, book bag, and other necessities for an entire school year.

This is NOT a monthly sponsorship program. Your one-time gift will pay for the school year! Also, if you cannot give the entire amount per child, we certainly understand. Some folks may give $20 while others may feel as though they should give $200. If each one does something, many lives will be blessed!

Again, you may contribute to this very worthy endeavor at: Help Get Kids Off The Street & Into School!

So PLEASE take a few moments, click on the video, and share in the blessing!

Grace & Peace,
Emory and Vickie

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Ezekiel, Part 4

We have been looking at Ezekiel, and in the last blog regarding this subject, we began to explore the significance of the four faces of the living creatures. Today I’d like to delve into this topic even further.

We observe characteristics in the four faces that we should see exemplified in our own lives.

The first one we’ll look at is the ox. The ox is a hard-working animal and never complains! Oxen do not run free and go wherever they want to go. They always are seen with a yoke around their neck. Now, most folks don’t like the yoke! And, if that’s you, well, then you’re not going to like serving Jesus! He said, “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

A yoke is worn around the neck, and it keeps you walking in unison with the one beside you and in a straight direction. We need the yoke! Oftentimes we rebel against it, and we act like a bunch of wild stallions that still need to be broken.

Jesus told us that His yoke is easy and the load is light, but we don’t believe Him; therefore, we don’t want the yoke placed upon us. True to the nature of an ox, we, too, need to have a yoke.

The symbolism of an ox also signifies that there is a time for plowing and a time for planting. Additionally, whatever it is that we are called to do, we should do it cheerfully as unto the Lord without complaining because the ox never complains as he seems to enjoy hard work!

Something else about oxen is that they were routinely used as a sacrifice. They were laid on the altar and burned as a pleasing offering to God.

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1).

Okay, now we’ll look at the face of the lion. When you consider the lion, what do you think about? If you’re like most people, “king of the jungle” probably comes to mind. He’s the most feared and revered in the animal kingdom! Lions are bold and courageous; they don’t back down! God says that the unrighteous run when no one is pursuing, but the righteous are as bold as a lion. To “be bold," means to be courageous. Courage is not the absence of fear; it is the ability to overcome your fear. Don’t ever let the enemy see you sweat!

Throughout the Epistles, we read the prayer requests of Paul, and I think he prayed for boldness more than anything else. “Pray for us that we might be bold. Pray for us that we might have boldness of speech. Pray for us that when we’re facing death we’ll be bold.” The Church has been neutered in many respects!

It’s time for us to be bold once again: to rise up, not in arrogance, but in confidence. Not in ourselves, but in the greater One who is in us. God has called us to be like the lion.

Then we see the eagle. Psalm 103 speaks of being renewed in strength like that of the eagle. I’ve preached many sermons on eagles; they fly higher than any other bird. They are the most honored and respected of all flying animals. They’ve been spotted over 10,000 feet in the air, and they can spy a field mouse over a mile away! They descend from the sky to the earth upwards of a hundred miles an hour. Eagles are our national symbol!

“But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31).

God says that we are to soar higher. He’s calling us to go higher than we’ve ever soared before! Yes, even to “boldly go where no man has gone before.” I love that! Come on, you are not too old to do something new, so stop it!!! If you don’t do it now, when are you going to do it?  You’d better do it while you can, because perhaps the day will come when you can’t, and then you will have wished that you had!

Do it! Just do it! Take a bold step of faith! Dare to fly high! What are you afraid of? One thing about eagles, they don’t flap their wings. The little tweety birds, that’s what they do, but not the eagle. Eagles soar. They get up there where those thermal currents are, and they just ride the wind.

Eagles, they are such graceful, powerful, and magnificent birds! They’re so awesome to watch as they soar. They don’t stress nor strain, and when the storm blows, they just lift up their heads and say, “Come on wind, come on rain, I’m the mighty eagle, and I’ll just fly high above it, straight through it, or right around it. I was born to fly!”

You were born to fly! You were born to be bold like the lion. You were born to work like the ox.

Finally, there’s the man. We must never forget that we are men (when I state “men” in this context, I’m referring to mankind which includes women). Man is the highest of all of God’s creation. Only man was created in His image and likeness.

You were created to fly higher than the eagle, have the courage of the lion, and the strength of an ox! Lest we forget, we are the crown of creation! When God created man, He said, “It is finished; that’s it!” We are God’s masterpiece . . . the cherry on the sundae! Do you understand that?

At the same time, we are men and have limitations. We are not God; we are simply:

*   Made in His image and His likeness
*   Filled with His glory
*   Carriers of His power
*   Walk in His authority and power
*   Represent Him as stewards over the earth

Let me close with one final Scripture, Psalm 8. This is a very familiar Psalm; however, people only read half of it and stop there. So take a moment and read the whole thing.

“O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is Your name in all the earth, who have set Your glory above the heavens! 2 Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants You have ordained strength, because of Your enemies, that You may silence the enemy and the avenger. 3 When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained, 4 what is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him?”

Now, that’s a question, right? Is it? Is that followed by a question mark in your Bible? The Psalmist David is asking, “What is man that you are mindful of him and the son of man that you visit him?” Then it goes on to say, “You’ve made him a little lower than the angels,” which really should be translated as “Elohim,” “and you have crowned him (man) with glory and honor!”

You, my friend, have been crowned with glory and honor! I know you don’t always feel like it. I know you don’t always think like it. I know you don’t always act like it or even talk like it! But the Word of God says that you have been crowned with glory and honor.  The Scripture states, “You have made him,” ‘him’ who? Is that you and me? “You have made him (you and me) to have dominion over the works of Your hands. You have put all things (is that past tense? Yes!) “all sheep and oxen—even the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea that pass through the paths of the sea. Oh Lord, our Lord, how excellent is Your name in all the earth.”

You have been made to exercise dominion. Another way to phrase that would be, “You have been placed here to manage God’s affairs on earth.” He doesn’t place you here empty-handed. He gives you what you need in order to fulfill the calling. He crowns you with glory and honor; He fills you with His power and Spirit and says, “Go in My authority.” Even the wind and the sea will obey you if you will speak to them and act with faith!

Jesus is in the boat! Wake Him up! After He has calmed the storm, don’t think it strange if He turns to you and says, “Where is your faith? Oh ye of little faith, how long do I have to be with you? Do you really think My heavenly Father is going to let this boat go down with Me in it?” Come on, somebody! What were they thinking? Did they really believe that they were all going to die?

I have a lesson for you. Keep Jesus in the boat, and then you don’t have to worry about the boat sinking! Keep Him in the boat! You don’t want to go fishing without Jesus. I’ve been out there and believe me . . . you want Him with you!

God has called you and I to represent Him on the earth. We are to work like the ox, to be bold and courageous like the lion, and to soar as the eagle soars. We need to understand that we are men. We are not God, but He has crowned us with glory and honor, and it is time to walk in it.

Grace and peace,

Monday, September 1, 2014

Change A Life!

This little blog is not being written in typical fashion. Many of you are aware that I took up running some time back and have been staying the course quite faithfully. I truly enjoy making my way through the quaint town of Sosua during the morning hours as it offers many wonderful experiences.

One day a few months ago, I was going past a young Haitian girl who sells bananas as a street vendor. As we looked at each other, I asked her for a banana and told her that I had no money with me. She gave me the fruit as I continued on my way. Later, I went to look for her with cash in hand.

We have had several similar encounters since that day. The little girl is thirteen-years-old and has a beautiful and captivating smile every time I see her. Her name is Aline, and she sells fruit with her mother so they can make a couple of dollars per day in order to eat.

Recently, I found out that Aline had not started school because she did not have money for clothes and supplies. I have since met her mother, and Vickie and I were able to provide funds to get this child back into school before she became too accustomed to street life in Sosua. The truth is, Vickie and I have begun watching to see how many children are running the streets or trying to make a buck while others are in school. The number is quite astonishing, particularly among the Haitian population.

As a result, we have begun a limited campaign to help these vulnerable kids get off the streets and receive some level of education. If we do nothing, it is very likely many of them will turn to prostitution, drugs, and a very degraded sort of lifestyle.

Now . . . this is where you can get involved. We were able to purchase a uniform, shoes, backpack, and supplies for about $50.00. This is NOT a monthly commitment, nor is it a monthly sponsorship program. This is a one-time donation to help kids learn to read, write, and learn for the current school year.

For only $50.00, you can fund a child for an entire academic year! We will make sure that materials are purchased and that the kids get enrolled. By the way, not one penny will be used for any other purpose. We are not asking you to support us or Gospel Team Outreach with this opportunity. This is all about helping the kids get into school and off the streets of Sosua.

If you cannot afford $50.00 all at one time, please send what you can. If you can give more, of course, that would be wonderful as well. Please make checks payable to GTO and mail to "Gospel Team Outreach, PO Box 25355, Fayetteville, NC 28314" and indicate “KIDS” on the memo line. You may also donate online at:

Thank you so much for your kind act of love and compassion!

Grace and peace,

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Moving Straight Ahead

In the last blog, I mentioned the following five relevant points drawn from Ezekiel 1.  
  1. Get a vision of God.
  2. Receive the Word of the Lord.
  3. Have the hand of the Lord upon oneself.
  4. Move straight forward (which would indicate moving with purpose).
  5. Go where the Spirit goes.
We need to have fresh vision and fresh Word (revelation/rhema) from God. The Word of the Lord will always line up with the Word of God. The Word of the Lord and the Word of God are going to be synonymous, in agreement. God is never going to speak contrary to His Word. If He did, He would be psychotic or possess a dual personality, and He absolutely doesn’t! We see that Ezekiel receives the Word of the Lord and that the hand of God is upon him.

In regard to point #4, the creatures are moving in a straight line. They’re not even looking to the left or right. What causes us to get off track is the fact is that we’re looking around, and our feet tend to follow where our eyes linger.

Think of a waitress. Some of you all may have worked in that profession. If they’re carrying a hot cup of coffee on a saucer, he or she is not looking all around. What is the key to not spilling? I was taught a long time ago that you keep your eyes forward and keep moving towards the goal in order to carry the food or drinks without spilling.

We are prone to move in the direction that we’re looking; we tend to do it instinctively . . . it’s automatic! If we look left, we usually move left. So those creatures moved in a straight line because their focus was straight ahead! Keep your focus straight ahead!

It’s good to learn from the past, but don’t constantly be looking back there, or you’ll regress to what you used to be. You’ll start thinking what you used to think! Don’t get caught up “window-shopping” in life. This is not about window-shopping and “which door is the blessing behind.” “Is it Door #3? Oh my, Monty, Monty!!!” It’s not like that; don’t make it so confusing! Keep your eyes fixed straight ahead and move in a forward direction! There is a goal. Even if you don’t see the goal, it’s good to know what it is and stay fixed on it. If it will help you, the ultimate goal is a crown of righteousness that is laid up for all of those who love His appearing. Okay? So keep your eye on that if nothing else!

Vickie and I knew sometime in advance that we would be heading to the mission field, yet we did not know how long we would be there. People would ask, “Well, you’re coming back, aren’t ya?” Well, yeah! Here we are . . . going back and forth on occasion. We didn’t know everything, but we knew we were going on the mission field. We honestly weren’t sure for how long, in fact, we’re still not sure of the length of time!

When I was young I usually set three-month goals, now I measure in years. We’ve already been there two years and probably will be there at least another two. Besides that, I just signed a one-year contract on a House of Prayer. It’s good to bind yourself to the vision.

Now let’s look at the four faces. The most predominant is the face of the man; we’ll get back to discussing that a bit later. First of all, I’d like us to talk about the face of the ox. What does that remind you of? An ox is a worker. In fact, in most areas of the world, an ox is the most honored of that particular class.

It’s much the same in Thailand; they pay great honor to the elephant. Not in a religious way, but in a very esteeming manner. They will tell you that the reason is because they know that the elephant has helped to build their country. The elephant was moving logs and taking men places that they couldn’t go on their own.

The ox is honored in many areas of the world because of its usefulness and productiveness. Three things I can tell you about an ox is that they work hard, they demand little, and they never whine or complain.

We’ll pick up talking about the other faces and how their representations may correlate to us as believers. I believe we’ll identify some characteristics that ought to be present in our own lives.

Grace and peace,

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Enthralling Ezekiel

I’ve been enthralled with the first three chapters of Ezekiel for some weeks now; it’s like I can’t get away from them. Every time I read and reread them, it’s as if another little nugget pops off the page. It’s been an amazing experience for me, and I wanted to share some of what the Lord has been showing me.

Ezekiel 1

Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, on the fifth day of the month, as I was among the captives by the River Chebar, that the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God.

“Visions of God” is what I want us to note in the passage above.

There’s one other time when you read of someone having a similar experience and the heavens were opened up.  As you recall, that would be Saint John in the Book of Revelation on the Island of Patmos. It’s a very, very similar experience.

On the fifth day of the month, which was in the fifth year of King Jehoiachin’s captivity,

By the way, Ezekiel is in captivity when this is taking place.

The word of the Lord came expressly to Ezekiel the priest,”

The “Word of the Lord” is the next important point. Why is that important?
  1. We need a vision of God.
  2. We need the Word of the Lord.

When we’re talking about the Word of the Lord, we’re not simply referencing reading the Bible. We’re talking about the rhema word, something that is being revealed to us, by God, through the Spirit.

“ . . . the son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the River Chebar; and the hand of the Lord was upon him there.”

Point three is that the “hand of the Lord” was upon Ezekiel. We need to be living, moving, and operating in such a way as having the hand of the Lord upon our lives. We need the vision of God, we need a Word from God, and we need the hand of God upon our lives.

4 “Then I looked, and behold, a whirlwind was coming out of the north, a great cloud with raging fire engulfing itself; and brightness was all around it and radiating out of its midst like the color of amber, out of the midst of the fire.”

We could get so much out of that verse as well, but we’re not going to rest there.

5 “Also from within it came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance: they had the likeness of a man.”

“The likeness of a man” is worth noting, in fact, it’s the most predominant of the four living creatures that are mentioned. He’s seeing a four-headed, or four-faced creature. We know from the Word that this being evidently had four distinct faces. Each face pointed a different direction (North, South, East, West). Other commentators say that it could have been a four-headed creature.

6 “Each one had four faces, and each one had four wings. Their legs were straight, and the soles of their feet were like the soles of calves’ feet. They sparkled like the color of burnished bronze. The hands of a man were under their wings on their four sides; and each of the four had faces and wings. Their wings touched one another. The creatures did not turn when they went, but each one went straight forward.”

The creatures did not turn when they went. That is point number four.  They did not go left nor right; they went where the Spirit directed. I’ll show you that in just a moment.

10 “As for the likeness of their faces, each had the face of a man; each of the four had the face of a lion on the right side, each of the four had the face of an ox on the left side, and each of the four had the face of an eagle. 11 Thus were their faces. Their wings stretched upward; two wings of each one touched one another, and two covered their bodies. 12 And each one went straight forward; they went wherever the spirit wanted to go, and they did not turn when they went.”

They went where the Spirit wanted to go; that is point number five.  Let’s review those five points.
  1. They have a vision of God.
  2. They have the Word of the Lord.
  3. The hand of the Lord was upon them.
  4. They’re moving straight forward (which would indicate moving with purpose).
  5. They’re going where the Spirit goes.

17 “When they moved, they went toward any one of four directions; they did not turn aside when they went.”

20 “Wherever the spirit wanted to go, they went, because there the spirit went; and the wheels were lifted together with them, for the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels.”

These are all important, relevant points for us as believers today as well. I invite you to meditate and mull over these Scriptures with me, and we’ll discuss them even further in next week’s blog.

Grace and peace,

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Have You Left? Then It's Time To Return . . .

Revelation 2:4 “Nevertheless I have this against you,
that you have left your first love.”

The Lord spoke to my heart saying: We must return to our first love. It’s so easy to be pulled in too many directions, and it’s so easy to be distracted.

The passage above follows a pretty impressive list of good works for which the Church was complimented. However, it appears that even in the midst of doing good, it is possible to become distracted and wander off course. Every time we sin or fall short, it is the result of one thing above any other . . . it is because we have left our “first love” and have gone our own way.

We must routinely return to Christ, experience His love, and be filled with it in order to express that same great love to others.

I believe we should take this opportunity to beseech the Lord and turn towards Him in a fresh way. Would you join with me as we ask the Lord to baptize us anew with His love? I have no hope of being a demonstration of the love of God to a sin-sick world if I have wandered from my first love, Jesus Christ.

Come back to your first love and love the Lord your God with all of your heart, all of your mind, all of your strength, and all of your soul, for therein lies the issue. When we love the Lord our God with all of our heart, mind, soul, and strength, we find it’s an easy thing to love our neighbors.

I’m going to assume that we are all Christians. Jesus said that they will know that we are His disciples by the love that we have for one another. That’s the sure sign. They’ll know us by our fruit and that fruit is love, and then comes the peace, joy, and the other fruit as well. It’s all the product of God’s love in our hearts.

If you’ll take a moment, pray the following with me: Father, we come to You today, and we find ourselves in need of grace and forgiveness. At times we have fallen from our first love, and we have turned our own direction, followed our own choices, and have done what we thought was important.

We ask you in the name of Jesus to forgive us, cleanse us, and remove all of our unrighteousness . . . to just blot it out. May we experience a fresh baptism of divine love. Cause us to be plunged under the flood of Your love. May we be held under that water long enough for our hearts to grow soft as a sponge so that we may absorb the very love that You have for us. May we love others with that same love.

Fill our hearts anew, God, with Your divine love, and let our lives be a demonstration of it. It’s all for Your kingdom and Your glory, in Jesus’ name.

Grace & Peace,

Thursday, July 3, 2014

What's Love Got To Do With It?

Colossians 3:12 says that, “Therefore as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering . . .” The author of Colossians is saying that we have to put these things on; they may not always be part of our personal wardrobe.

Before we open our mouths, it would be great if we’d think quickly and “change our clothes,” in a figurative sense. We should put on tender mercies instead of judgment or criticism. Put on kindness instead of anger and wrath. Put on humility! Meekness is not weakness, but strength under restraint.

You might say, “Well, I won’t be anybody’s doormat.” Tell that to Jesus! “I get tired of doing that stuff; we’re not supposed to let people walk on us.” Noooo, we’re supposed to turn the other cheek!

I’m going to challenge you to do something that I personally began doing. I’ve begun to go through my Bible and write the red print (in longhand, not typing it on my computer). I’m writing out every word that Jesus spoke. It’s not that big of a task; He really didn’t say all that much, even in the four Gospel accounts.

They say that if you hear something that your retention is about 20%. If you write something though, it increases significantly. As I’m writing Christ’s words, it really brings the message home. I challenge you! I’ve been a Christian for well over thirty years; I’m not boasting in that fact, but what I am saying is that I’m still learning from the red print.

Everything I need to know can be found in Jesus’ words! If I could just do what the red print tells me to do, then I wouldn’t have to worry about anything else! It’s amazing. I was writing the Beatitudes the other day, and I came under conviction. “Oh Lord, help me to be a peacemaker.” He says, “Come and follow Me, and I’ll teach you how to be a peacemaker.” It’s so simple; we try to complicate it. Jesus made it so easy that even a caveman could understand.

Look at verse 13: “Bearing with one another.” Now what does that mean? It means putting up with one another. “Forgiving one another,” means to forgive people, to let it go! “Yeah, but . . .” LET IT GO! “But you don’t know . . .” LET IT GO! That’s what forgiveness is.

God knows everything about us, yet He lets it go. When we confess our sins and repent, He forgives us. So if you want to be more like Jesus, then just let it go! It’s not helping you a bit to keep it. In fact, it’s hurting you! It will make you downright sick if you hang onto it long enough.

“If anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. 14 But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.”  15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. 

Let me tell you that if you don’t walk in the bond of love, you will not experience peace. When you walk in love, you let the transgression go; you don’t hold it against anyone.

I believe that these verses show a progression.
  • Put on love.
  • Let the peace of God rule your heart.
  • Be thankful.
It’s hard to be thankful when you don’t have peace in your heart.
It’s hard to have peace in your heart when you’re not walking in love.
It’s hard to walk in love when you’ve fallen away from your first love.
So what is the solution? The solution is found in returning to your first love!

Grace & peace,

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Who Do You Love?

Trickery . . . “That we should no longer be children tossed to and fro, carried about by every wind of doctrine by the trickery of men” (Ephesians 4:14). You mean there’s trickery??? Oh yes, there is! There’s also cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting. In Ephesians 4:15-16 the Word says, “But speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by which every joint supplies . . .”

All of us have something to offer, and the sooner we develop a partnering-type of mentality, the sooner the work will be brought to completion. But we cannot partner together the way the Scriptures describe as long as we’re trying to control, manipulate, and simply use one another for our own benefit. Many times Christians come together, and this is the script going on in their heads: “How can this benefit me,” when the thought ought to be: “How can I serve you? How can I help you?” Every joint has something to supply that will edify the entire body.

Therefore, my mentality ought to be: How can I help you grow and progress? If I help you prosper, I’m going to be blessed. It’s a given! It’ll happen when your motivation is right and when you’re connected to your first love! You don’t have to chase the blessing; the Bible says that the blessings of God will come upon you and overtake you. I like those kinds of blessings! We don’t have to pursue them; we simply have to pursue the Blesser!

The key is staying connected to our first love, Jesus, and understanding that we are the body of Christ and that we have been fitly joined together as it pleases Him! You might say, “Well, my opinion is important!” Do you know to whom your opinion is most important? YOU! If you think that you’re the one who’s right all the time . . . then even if you’re right, you’re wrong. How does that work? Well, that type of attitude simply signifies that you’re prideful, unteachable, and do not listen to what other people have to say. You may think that you’re the only one who’s right, and in the end, hallelujah . . . I’ll just leave that one alone.

Verse 16: “And in Him whom the whole body joined and knit together by what every joint supplies.” There are no insignificant joints in the body, and the older you get, the more you realize that! I mean right down to your toes! Every joint needs oiling, eh? When I get up in the morning, I thank God for His anointing on every joint in my body. “Joined and knit together by which every joint supplies.”

Now, this is what is going to cause the kingdom to grow. The kingdom grows when the saints are equipped and released to do the work of the ministry, find their place in the body of Christ, and then become a demonstration of the love of God.

People don’t get saved just because we preach to them. Yes, we need to preach, or how will they hear unless someone tells them? Yet faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. What is the motivation behind this? We can preach and preach and preach, but if people don’t sense the love of God, they’ll tell you where to go and to take Jesus with you. It comes down to the love of God.

This divine, supernatural love is so powerful that it has the ability to wipe out every one of my sins. Don’t tell me you’re not capable of that type of love; that’s a lie! “I can’t love the way that God loves,” that’s a LIE, too! Stop it! The love of God has been shed abroad by the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5). The very purpose for which the love of God has been spread abroad is so that it will be poured out and impact the lives of other people. God wants us to touch others with His love, and it is made possible when He is our first love. It’s easy to love.

Think of the most despicable person you know (no, it’s not the one you’re married to). You can love the most unlovable person. Why? Because God does, and if God does, you can, because He puts His love in you to enable you to be a demonstration of His love. You just have to get over yourself! How are you supposed to pray for someone who has leprosy, covered in sores, or has the stench of death on them? “I don’t see how you can stand to even touch them.” You have to get beyond yourself! You touch them with the love of God. No cancer or leprosy is going to invade the love of God! It prevails over all sin, sickness, and darkness this world might have to offer.

Grace and peace,

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Where Are You Going, And What Are You Doing?

When I leave my first love, it means that I have gone somewhere else. If you leave one place, it signifies that you’ve entered another. From a spiritual standpoint, any time I leave my first love to go somewhere else, I should have just stayed home.

When I have left my first love, it means that I have chosen, willfully, to go in another direction. I am now going my way and am doing what I want to do. I’m going to do as I choose; I’m going to do what I think is best. I weigh my options and do what’s best for me instead of first consulting the Highest Authority, the Lord Jesus Christ. “What would You have me to do”? Oftentimes, what He would want me to do does not look exactly like what I wanted to do. In fact, it can be in direct opposition. What Jesus wants me to do can sometimes seem to make no sense at all.

In that moment of decision, what will I choose to do? Will I choose what looks best, most expedient, or most profitable . . . or will I choose to follow the lead of my first love? I always come out on top when I have followed God! It may take a little longer to get there by persevering, but it isn’t about “getting rich quick.” This is about obeying the Lord, following my first love, staying connected to Him, and doing what He wills and not what I want to do.

Let me make this very clear. He’ll let you do what you want to do. Just because you did it, don’t think you did the will of God. In making that judgment, the first principle to be applied is, “How does it line up with the Word?” If it is clearly NOT in alignment, then it is NOT the will of God. Let’s get that principle firmly established. The writer of Hebrews said that we ought to have our senses exercised in order to be able to discern what is good and what is evil.

We know that when we go our own way and make our own decisions without consulting the Lord that it comes back to bite us, and then we can’t figure out why things aren’t going well. Maybe it’s because we’ve wandered from our first love and have gone some other way.

Let’s look at Ephesians 4:11-15. “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers.” What is the purpose of that five-fold ministry gift mix? It’s for, “the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.” That is definitely another topic that I could delve into, but won’t at this time.

The whole purpose of the five-fold ministry is for equipping the saints for doing the work. In other words, the saints are supposed to be doing the work of the ministry, right? The apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers have been given to the church to equip believers to do the work of the ministry, not to simply make churches bigger and collect more money! No, the purpose is to equip, train, teach, and give individuals the equipment they need to serve. As I’ve said, that’s a whole other message, but listen: if I don’t help you succeed in being what God has called you to be, then I have not done what I’m supposed to be doing! The point is that we have a place wherein we can become equipped, then WE (meaning you and I), are able to do the work of the ministry.

“For the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ.”

We are continually being brought to completion/maturity. We are ALL involved in this process, and God is bringing us to this point through the knowledge of His Son and in the unity of faith until we are all being perfected in Christ-likeness.

Let us make a personal goal of examining our hearts and giving careful thought as to how much attention, deference, and obedience we give to our first love, and this will be very telling as to what place we give Him in our lives.

Grace and peace,


Saturday, May 10, 2014

Are You Shining Armor or Washing Feet?

This whole thing called Christianity is about laying down our lives for one another, not who’s coming out ahead, who builds the biggest buildings, who owns the most land, or who has the biggest ministry. Believe me, my friends; all of that stuff is going to burn. Everything that can be shaken will be shaken so that only that which can remain will remain. Jesus said, "If you want to be great in My kingdom, then you must learn to be a servant to all." 

It’s more about washing feet than shining armor. We’re to put on the servant’s apron and wash the feet of others. That’s a sign of leadership. Jesus also said, “This you have, you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.” As you may know, “Nico” is where “Nike” is derived from, which means, “to conquer or control,” and that was directed towards the laity.

I’m not saying that we don’t need strong leadership; we do! We need courageous leadership, but we don’t need manipulation or ungodly control. That’s not how the Kingdom of God functions. Oh yes, you can do many things in the name of the Lord operating under the guise of leadership . . . there’s all kinds of manipulations and control that go on, but it’s not of the right spirit. It doesn’t come from the heart of the servant. At that point, it’s not about washing feet, it’s about making me look good. We need to get to the place of “me looking good in the eyes of others” is not the most important thing to us.

I want to be right with God, and if I’m right with God, I don’t have to care what other people think about me. It really doesn’t matter. I don’t say that in a cocky, arrogant manner. It’s just that I’ve been delivered from man’s opinion of me. I simply want to be right with God! If I’m right with God, there will be some folks who like that, some will be turned off by it, and others could care less.

When I stand before my Lord and Savior, I want to hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” I’m not here for the accolades of men. Oh, I can receive them; I had to learn how to receive compliments. You know, some people in ministry can’t even receive a compliment. “Oh, that was a good sermon, Sister.” “It was all Jesus; it was all Jesus.” I finally got to where I could say, “Thank you. I appreciate hearing that from you.” Some of us get so spiritual that we can’t even handle getting a compliment from somebody! We don’t know how to handle situations in life, so we get all woo woo.

Jesus says, “You’ve hated the deeds of the Nicolaitans.” In other words, “You don’t like control freaks, and I don’t either.” That’s the basic summation of what Jesus said regarding those who were trying to conquer, manipulate, and control others. Jesus said, “I hate them, too.” Hey, I didn’t say it, Jesus did. It’s even in red print in one of my Bibles.

“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” He’s talking to the churches, the people of God, the bride of Christ, the saints, to you and me! “To him who overcomes, I will give to him to eat from the tree of life which is in the midst of the paradise of God.” Therefore, the question that we ought to routinely ask ourselves is, “Have I fallen from my first love?” May we first establish who our first love is. I could ask some of you about your first love, and you’d think I was asking about your junior high school sweetheart.

For the Christian, I’m talking about Jesus. It would serve us well to do a little self-examination from time-to-time. We don’t have to get all giddy and be like, “Ooooh, I’ve been with Jesus; I can’t wait, I can’t wait.” It’s okay to get emotional, but that’s not necessarily evidence of a love for Jesus. The question is: Have I left my first love?

Grace and peace,

Sunday, March 30, 2014

First Love

Oftentimes I feel that we in the Church fall short in this great essential truth that the Word of God sets before us: loving God and loving one another. You might think, “Well, what could make you say that?” I would answer, "By the things that we say, the things that we do, and by our attitudes towards one another." We are not called to function as the world functions. We are not recreated in Christ Jesus to think as the world thinks, to behave as the world behaves, or to treat one another as though we live in a corporate world. If you live and work in the corporate world, you’re still called, commanded, ordained, and anointed to live and act differently. You can’t separate secular from spiritual. Your work is spiritual.

Jesus says, “Love Me like you did when you were first saved. You were full of passion and excitement! You desired to spend time with Me, and you loved me with all of your heart, and it showed!" So He says, “Have a change of heart: repent. Change the direction of your life; do the first works  . . . or else (uh oh, that sounds threatening) . . . I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place." In other words, I’ll remove the light from your midst; I’ll remove the anointing from your life.

How can a man or woman in ministry who has walked in such a great anointing for a lengthy time stumble and fall into sin? It is the result, I’m convinced, of leaving their first love. How is it that those in the Body can be so competitive? I’m telling you that sometimes I get around Christians in ministry, and I might as well be around a bunch of lawyers, bankers, etc. They are competitive and territorial, and this is mine and those are mine, etc. I am so glad that I’m just an undershepherd. Ain’t none of you “mine.” You don’t belong to me. You’re not, “my sheep.” It doesn’t mean that I don’t love you, but it does mean that I don’t own you.

Christians become control freaks! What is that the result of? Leaving their first love. Having commended and acknowledged so many good things about the believers in the Ephesian church, Jesus said, “I have this one thing against you.”

Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent.”

“Unless you repent,” means, “have a change of heart, mind, and attitude.” What He’s really saying is, “Come back to Me. Love Me like you did in the very beginning.” It’s much like a marriage relationship. As the years go by, a couple either falls more in love or less in love. It rarely remains neutral.

Even as Christians, we can have the appearance that we’re doing something great, but things can be vastly different than how it looks. Sometimes we’re more concerned about how things appear to be than how they actually are. That’s why it’s possible to get up and preach or minister in any capacity and have all kinds of mess in one’s heart or life, and people for the most part wouldn’t even know! There are some in public places that would say, “What business is it for anyone to know? What difference does it make?”

Many times we’re more concerned how we appear to other people than how things really are in the eyes of God (who can look upon our hearts and read our thoughts). Then the Scripture says, “How is it that you can say you love God but hate your brother?” Okay, let’s change the word, “hate.” It may not necessarily mean, “hate and want to kill,” but it can also mean, “despise, have contempt for, be jealous of, or be envious of.” How can you say you love God and be in that state? Yet, we could ask any Christian, “Do you love God?” and we’d hear, “Oh yes, hallelujah, brother, I love God,” and  still be the biggest gossiper in the church or the community.

I like one of the things that I read recently: “If people are going to gossip to you, then they’re gonna gossip about you to somebody else.” When people come and start dumping on you, just look at them, point to your ear, and say, “What is this? This is an ear, not a garbage can, so take your trash somewhere else.”

We deceive ourselves oftentimes! How do you show your love for God? I believe first and foremost it’s by showing love towards other people, because if I’m not showing love towards other people, then I deceive myself by thinking that I love God. That also means that I have probably fallen from my first love. Scripture doesn’t say, “Love people first,” it says to, “Love God first.” Why is that important? Because we are called to love one another with the love of God. We’re told to love each other even as God loves us! How can we love other people as God loves us if we don’t truly love God?

Grace and Peace,

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Old Dog Learns Lessons

Many of you are aware that I recently “ran” my first official 10K race. First of all, I want to report that there is good and bad news. The good news: I ran the race, I finished the course that was before me, and I even received a medal at the end.

The bad news: I did not finish nearly as well as intended. In fact, I was third to last.

What I want to share is that there were a few lessons learned by this old dog! One of those is that young Dominicans run fast! In fact, many of them ran the entire course in half the time it took me, and that’s because they can run twice as fast!

I was also able to discern a few parallels between running a 10K race and our spiritual journey.

#1 Preparation Is Everything!
I came to realize that I was not nearly as prepared for this event as I should have been and could have been. Diet, Rest, and Exercise are of utmost importance (especially the older and more mature we become). It is easy to think, “I’ve got this,” when we have not prepared and planned properly.

#2 No Excuses!
The truth is that I had slept only about two hours the night before the run. In addition, I could not even find a cup of coffee the morning of the event! I wanted to say, “Forget this, let’s go to the beach instead!”

#3 Passion Is Essential!
My inner man kept saying, “We will run this race and finish the course.” There was an excitement on the inside that caused me to move forward. I could see myself finishing the race before it even started.

This is perhaps the most important lesson. We are not competing against other runners. We have a challenge set before us, and it is more about accomplishing something that honors God and brings personal reward as well.

Those are just a few of the highlights of my experience; there are more. I believe they relate to our spiritual journey as well.

We must take time to properly prepare and become “skilled in the Word of righteousness.” Scripture says that God prepares our hands for war, but we must be willing to give Him our hands. In addition, when we stand before Christ, we will be without excuse. Our works will be judged, and we will receive His just reward or suffer loss. It is essential to keep the fire burning, stir up the gifts that are in us, and remain passionate for the King and His Kingdom. This may seem more difficult as we age. Finally, keep in mind, this is our own personal walk; we are not competing against other believers, churches, ministries, etc.

Christ has set a path before us; may we run the entire length! I pray each of us fights the fight, runs the race, finishes the course, and obtains a crown!

I'd like to personally thank all who gave generous donations for this fundraiser! Over $500 was raised which will go towards an upcoming, strategic endeavor. May God bless you mightily!

Grace and Peace,

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Our First Love

Let’s turn to the last book of the Bible, Revelation. In the first couple of chapters, the Lord is speaking specifically to the seven churches. This is not a message regarding End Times, this is a present-day message for the Church. Jesus spoke to the seven churches and had a strong word of correction for at least six of them. Therefore, this is also perhaps a word of caution, and I trust that it will be received in the same spirit in which it is delivered.
“To the angel of the church of Ephesus write, ‘These things says He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands: “I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars” (Revelation 2:1-3).
The Lord has such a way with words, doesn’t He? Can you imagine a preacher saying something like that today? I could almost guarantee that people would take offense and many would not want to return to hear what else he had to say. One thing about Jesus, He was not mealy-mouthed! He said what He meant, and He meant what He said. Yet, Jesus always spoke in love just as we are encouraged to speak the truth in love.
I used to be one who made a big point of speaking the truth, but I had to learn that speaking the truth in and of itself was not sufficient . . . as noble as it sounds. Love is to be the motivation as it certainly was in all that Jesus said and did. Let’s revisit that last verse.
3 "And you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary.”
At the beginning of Jesus’ address, He gave them kudos and great commendation. Then we pick up in verse 4 . . .
Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.
I want to pray for just a moment. Father, I pray that this word will sink deep into our hearts, take root, and produce fruit. We pray that You might be glorified through Your Word being demonstrated in our lives, in Jesus’ name, amen.
The message above is really about leaving our first love. I believe that it is relevant for the Church and for individuals in the Body today. Have we left our first love? Jesus makes it very, very clear that we can be involved with a lot of good works. We can persevere. We can demonstrate great patience. We can test and try spirits. We can even become intolerant of falsehood. Yet, even with all of those things taking place in our lives, we can be guilty of leaving our first love.
Many times the questions are asked, “How can someone fall away after having known such great grace? How is it that Christians can so routinely, seemingly, fall woefully short of the will of God?” I believe that it comes down to this primary issue, folks, and I’m going to express it very simply and as it is in my heart. The answer is that we fall away from our first love.
Who or what is our first love? Now, most people will give the pat answer of, “Jesus.” I really want us to examine our hearts and ponder that question. Is Jesus really my first love? We know that in at least three of the four Gospel accounts that the Scripture says, “So he answered and said, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’” (Luke 10:27). That Scripture—the great command to Israel—is quoted by at least three of the four Gospel writers. Love God with all of your heart and with all of your mind. In other words, your mind should be stayed upon the Lord. Isaiah said, “Happy (prosperous and to be envied) is the man whose mind is stayed upon the Lord” (paraphrased).
Jesus was very clear regarding the greatest commandment: “You shall love the Lord your God with all of your heart and with all of your mind and with all of your strength.” Then He gave a second equally important commandment in which He said, “And you shall love your neighbor even as you love yourself.” This brings us to two more questions: Is it possible to love others if we don’t truly love God, and is it possible to truly love God if we’re not demonstrating love towards one another?
Oftentimes I feel that we in the Church fall short in this great essential truth that the Word of God sets before us: loving God and loving one another. Let’s determine to examine our hearts today and see who or what we are giving the honor of being in the seat of “our first love.”
Grace and peace,

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Lion, The Cloak, And The Blind Man

Isn’t it interesting that Jesus asked a blind man, “What do you want me to do for you?” Now, what do you think a blind man wants? Is Jesus asking a stupid question? No! Jesus wants to hear the confession of faith come out of the blind man’s mouth. When he said, “Lord, that I might see,” he was speaking words of faith. He was saying, “It is possible for You to heal me and to give me my sight.”
The blind man I’m referring to above is Bartimaeus. What did Jesus say to him? “Go your way; your FAITH has made you whole.” Now, I want you to pay special attention to this. In Mark 10, what was the first thing that Bartimaeus did when the Lord called for him? He threw off his cloak, which was probably his greatest worldly possession. He may have slept with it at night, and it most certainly protected him and kept him warm.
When Jesus called Bartimaeus out of the crowd, the first thing he did was throw off the beggarly cloak as he knew he was about to exit one realm and enter into a whole new one! He was going from being a beggar to being blessed . . . from being blind to having sight. He threw off the garment of bondage, which equated to the chains of his past.
There’s a lesson to be learned there. If we’re going to grab hold of everything that God has for us in 2014, then we’re probably going to have to let go of something. What do you have to let go of? Resentment? Bitterness? Anger? Fear? What is the cloak of bondage in your life? What have you become so familiar with or attached to that you’re afraid to let it go? It might be a relationship. I’m telling you: God is speaking expansion and redirection. Redirection means that there is an adjustment in the course of your life, in your business, in your ministry, in your personal life, and/or in your marriage. There’s a cloak that needs to be thrown off. As you throw off that cloak, you will receive the ability to see things more clearly.
After Bartimaeus was healed from his blindness, Jesus said, “Go your way, your faith has made you whole.” What did he do in Mark 10:52? The Word says that, “He followed Him in the Way.” Jesus told him that he could go his own way. Listen, God will permit you to go your own way, or you can follow Him in the Way. Bartimaeus chose to follow Jesus.
The Bible tells us we are to put off the old man and put on Christ (Ephesians 4:22-24). There are things in each of our lives that need to be put in order so that we may put on more of Christ. If we fail to remove those things, then all we’re doing is putting perfume on a stinky body, and you all know what that smells like! It smells worse when you apply perfume over an odor than if you didn’t put any perfume on it at all. Stop with the perfume!
What element of the old man needs to be put off in your life? What is it? I’m talking internally. Is it fear? Is it hurt? Is it unforgiveness, bitterness, jealousy, or envy? I could go on and on, but Paul does a much better job of stating the whole list. Put off the old man and put on Christ.
After beginning His earthly ministry, we see that Jesus spoke the same two simple words to individuals several times. Those two words were: Follow Me.
I believe this is the Lord’s word for the Church and for you specifically. It’s a very simple word, but it is one with powerful implications because so many are refusing to follow Christ even though they are wearing the name, “Christian.” I know it sounds judgmental, but can we really call ourselves Christians if we’re not following Christ? Can we really acknowledge Him as Lord if we’re not willing to do what He tells us to do? In fact, can we really say we love Him if we’re not willing to obey? When Jesus met Matthew the tax collector in Matthew 9:9, He spoke those two simple words to him, “Follow Me.” In fact, later in Matthew 10:38, Jesus Himself said that if you do not follow Him, you are not worthy of Him.
Here is a word from the Lord for each of us. The Lord says, “He who follows me will not walk in darkness.” Is it therefore safe to assume that he who does not follow Him will walk in darkness? Yes. To walk in darkness means to be groping around and wandering aimlessly, which brings us back to: “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” They wander aimlessly; they’re looking for something, but never seem to get it because they don’t even know what it looks like.
If we follow Jesus, He will give us the fullness of life. He will bring us to the place of being and doing that for which we were created. There is no greater fulfillment than to find that place. It is all the work of grace; it is not because of our works. So don’t stress and strain in an attempt to experience His greater grace. Just simply and willfully obey. Victory comes from surrender, not fighting. The more we surrender to Him, the greater grace we will see.
Grace and peace,

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Not Too Blind To See

There is a story that I love about Bartimaeus found in the book of Mark. The scene in chapter 10 begins with Bartimaeus on the side of the road. Being blind and hearing a commotion, I’m sure that Bartimaeus asked those around him what was happening. Someone told him that Jesus was passing by.
Maybe you have seen a similar place as described above. I have spent some time in Haiti. I don’t know how it is now, but back when I lived there, you could go downtown in Port-au-Prince and see certain intersections that were inundated with beggars. I saw everything to include blind people, those who were missing limbs, mothers with sick babies, and just about every type of misfortune that you could imagine! There were some that looked like they could have been dead, and there were others who wished they were. Every day a group of beggars could be found doing the exact same thing they had done the day before, which was begging for money.
I suppose it is fair for us to assume that Bartimaeus probably lived in a similar environment. He was there on the side of the road, heard the noise and commotion of a crowd going by, and then he inquired as to what was going on. Those around him replied, “Jesus of Nazareth is coming”! Suddenly, faith arose in him as he had heard about this Jesus, the Son of David. As faith increased in Bartimaeus, he began to cry out, “Jesus, Son of David have mercy on me.” He might as well have said, “Messiah,” as that’s what Son of David means.
Everybody was trying to shush Bartimaeus to keep him quiet. They probably said things to him such as, “He doesn’t care about you; you’re just a beggar. You’ve always been blind; you will always be blind. Stop calling out to Him; He’s not going to change your situation. You’re not one of the ‘lucky’ ones.” On the contrary, what Jesus heard was the voice of faith calling out, “Son of David, have mercy on me.” When He heard that faith, He stopped and signaled for Bartimaeus to be brought to Him. Suddenly, those who were trying to get him to shut up, now began to encourage him: “Get up because He’s calling for you!”
It’s amazing how our friends can be so fickle. There are a lot of people who want you to fail so they can speak ill of you. There are also those who are waiting for you to succeed so they can get attached to you. People watch us; they don’t want to be aligned with failures, so they may not step out in faith with you.
Let this be a word to somebody. They first have to see you succeed, and then they’ll say, “Yeah, I was with you. I believed in you the whole time.” They didn’t believe in you the whole time. In private they were saying, “I don’t think that he has a chance. I don’t think he can make it.” Then, by the grace of God and your willingness to follow and obey, things begin to open up and suddenly they want to partner with you.
“Man, I always knew there was something in you.” It reminds me of the old song, “Nobody knows you when you’re down and out.” Do you remember that one? The good news is that somebody does know ya! The Son of David, Jesus, the Christ . . . He knows exactly where you are and what He’s put in you. He didn’t call you to live a “down and out” life. He wants you to live a life that is “up and over.”

Grace and peace,