Scottish Granny Part II

On March 25th, 2016 the post “Scottish Granny” was published on this site. This was one of my favorite posts to author as it brought back so many fond memories and the relationship part of an epic God-authored story of friendship, love, loss, adventure and joy.

Since that post was published, the health of our dear friend Isabel Burns (Scottish Granny) had been on the decline. Unfortunately we had been unable to get any details about her condition, nor did we have any successful communication with each other. We learned that she was in a care facility, but for some reason she hadn’t been communicating with us, and we have been unable to reach her by phone.

A few months ago we decided we needed to make the trip to Edinburgh, Scotland to check in on Isabel in person. We found a time when the kids had a couple days off of school then booked flights and a hotel.

As the trip drew nearer, our longing for a reunion became stronger but we also began to worry as to whether or not we would be able to see her. Perhaps her health was in such a state that it would be “family only”. We couldn’t help but be concerned. What if she wasn’t even staying where we thought she was staying? How would we track her down?

Finally, it was time to embark on our journey. Upon arrival we dropped our luggage off at our hotel and immediately hopped on a bus to where we believed Isabel was staying. There was great anticipation, excitement and joy building up in our hearts. We would once again be reunited with this person who felt like family but yet we hadn’t heard from in over a year.

We prayed. If it is in your will God for us to see her, please clear any roadblocks, we know you can. You are in control. You are in every situation. If we cannot see her, please give us peace and understanding. This is yours Lord, please lead us.

We proceeded into the care facility and arrived at the front desk. We asked if we may see Isabel Burns and their response was positive, loving and kind. Of course we could! We were so relieved!!!

Upon arrival in Isabel’s room we had gladness to see her however it was immediately clear that that she was not well. It became clear as to why we hadn’t heard from her. While we do not know the reasons why, she wasn’t able to speak and it seemed her vision was minimal at best.

We made the most of our time (through multiple visits), telling stories of the old days, telling her we love her, and prayed for her. She seemed to indicate some responsiveness when we said things like “Amy from America”. We reminisced with a funny story about her bath towel at our house being used to clean up some paint (which wasn’t funny when it happened) and showed some emotion which made us all smile.

Amy fed Isabel her lunch as well as her afternoon tea and with each visit, as Isabel drifted off to sleep we felt it was time to leave.

In Luke 15 (today’s reading) there are three “lost and found” parables. The lost sheep, lost coin, and the prodigal son. Jesus used these parables to teach us how our Father God seeks relationship with us and longs for us to repent and turn back to him when we’ve sinned or gone astray.

26 Then God said, “Let us make man[h] in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

27 So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:26-27)

“It is the soul of man that especially bears God’s image.” (Matthew Henry’s commentary on Genesis 1:27)

Reflecting on Scottish Granny and how we longed to see her again, how we left with some joy in having visited, but with loss in knowing that even while physically close, she seemed very far away. I believe this longing is something that we are pre-programmed with as we were made in the image of God. He seeks us and we were made to seek Him, to seek relationship for the sake of eternity.

What stories in your life reflect Jesus’ call for a relationship with him and The Father, and how will you answer?

Everyone gets a seat at the table

In the post published March 3rd, 2019 titled “Clarity given, but faith needed to receive” I shared the story of how our family had planned to serve in Kenya with Goya Ministries. It turned out that our plans weren’t quite what God had in mind.

While we weren’t able to join that trip, we were able to start a relationship with the team who did go. Two of those team members, Roxanna “Roxy” Parker and Wendy Roberts recently stayed with us for a few days at our home in Florence, Italy.

The time spent with these two ladies was a tremendous blessing for our entire family. They cut and styled Amy’s hair, toured Tuscany with us, prayed with and for us, worshiped with us as we attended Eastview online, brought laughter and fulfilling conversation into our home, gave lots of love and attention to our boys who were delighted to have some “America” close by, and most importantly they filled Amy’s “spiritual jar” to the top and provided her with some much-needed girl time.

Our readers can now also benefit from their visit!

When I asked Roxy for some thoughts on today’s reading which is Mark 7:24-30, she promptly responded with words far more powerful than I could ever write. The Holy Spirit is definitely at work here. Thanks Roxy for sharing and for your obedience to His calling!

Here are Roxy’s words, unedited: 

From what I understand of Jesus, I think he may have been trying to test the woman. To remind her of where the world says her place was in society (“get in line, others come first”) and yet she answered back to remind him that even Jesus should know that the very least among us are still seen and are provided for by the Lord (* even the very dogs get the first fruits from the children that eat first in line) The verses share that he was impressed. I find it interesting that she impressed him. Why? Was it her recognition/self awareness of who she is? Or was it her faith? She states that there may be others that come first but the ones last are still fed, simultaneously, under the table of those who are being served first.

This story encourages me that when I feel small and insignificant, I can still remember that the Lord will provide for me exactly what I need even in the midst of what looks like a provision for someone else. Can I have that kind of faith?

To be confident in Jesus to supply my need (even if only a small crumb) instead of looking at how he is giving even more to someone else? I think that Jesus was impressed because she believed that even a crumb from Him would change her life forever. No need for a large helping or a first scoop.

What a challenge to humble myself and have faith like that when I’m tired, hungry or my self-worth looks a lot like last place instead of where I’d like it be: at the front of the line, getting recognized first. Yikes. That’s not an easy task. But I’m encouraged that in God’s economy, everyone gets a seat at the table.

This actually happened.

Have you ever doubted the story of Jonah and the great fish? Or rather than doubting, have you treated it like a Sunday school story for little children, never stopping to think about the significance, or whether or not it actually occurred?

It was only a few years ago that I confronted some internal struggles on this. A great fish swallowed a man. The man was in the fish for three days and three nights. The man came out alive. How could this be possible? Was it just a kids story or series of real miracles in human history?

I had accepted the fact of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, but questioned whether or not God could orchestrate something like what happened to Jonah, and I know I’m not alone in this.

But God…

After some wrestling with this story I came to accept it as truth based on my belief that God had performed many miracles before and after. I am merely a human with human understanding, but I’ve seen God move mountains in my own life, and no doubt he has done and will do infinitely more miracles more challenging than keeping a man alive inside a giant fish.

Going straight to the beginning of creation in Genesis 1: The same God who created the heavens and the earth, light, sky, oceans, land, plants, the sun, moon and stars, birds, fish, land animals and humans can 100% without a doubt enable a man to live inside of a fish for a few days. We cannot restrict God’s power to our human understanding or human experiences and perspectives.

Our God is a God of miracles and survival in the fish isn’t the only miracle in this book. Creation.com lists the following as miracles in the book of Jonah; not one miracle, but five:

  • ‘The Lord sent out a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest’ (Jonah 1:4),
  • ‘The Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah’ (Jonah 1:17),
  • ‘The Lord spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land’ (Jonah 2:10),
  • ‘The Lord God prepared a gourd [vine, NIV], and made it to come up over Jonah’ (Jonah 4:6),
  • ‘God prepared a worm…and it smote the gourd [chewed the vine, NIV] that it withered’ (Jonah 4:7),
  • ‘God prepared a vehement east wind…’ (Jonah 4:8).

Further, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ believed what happened to Jonah:

For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. (Matthew 12:40)

So what’s the point?

The point is that God wants our attention and can use any means to reach us. Like Jonah, we often run or try to hide from God, but He seeks us because He loves us. He went through the greatest lengths possible in dying for us. Jesus Christ lived, and knowingly and willfully gave up his body to torture and a grueling death so that we can be saved.

The Bible says it. I believe it. Amen.

Seeking wisdom, seeking Christ

Today’s reading is all about the pursuit of wisdom, the benefits of wisdom as well as the ensuing disaster that comes from a lack of wisdom.

Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it. (Proverbs 4:23)

Two personal stories were shared with me during the time I was reading today’s chapters (Proverbs 2-4):

  1. A highly-skilled person with a world-class education was terminated from employment due to behavior that was detrimental to the team.
  2. Another person who was highly-skilled and integral to the success of an extremely important business made some very selfish choices therefore put the company at risk.

Both of these scenarios had nothing to do with the person’s skill or even their passion for the job. The results were due to a lack of wisdom.

Jennifer wrote about Phinehas yesterday and the first thing that came to mind upon reading her post: Phinehas was wise and had he not been wise, it would have been really, really bad for a lot of people.

Similar for us today, we need wisdom, we need Jesus. In our schools, churches, government and most importantly in our homes as it starts with us seeking wisdom through Christ. We suffer from a lack of wisdom in others and our own as well. Please take the time to read today’s chapters, they are fascinating and filled with God’s truth and wisdom.

My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. (Colossians 2:2-3)

My own faith has strengthened from reading today’s chapters and writing the lists below because it becomes clearer how true God’s word is. I know the peace and joy of wisdom, and unfortunately have experienced too much pain from a lack of wisdom in myself or others.

Summary of the benefits of wisdom from Proverbs 2-4:

  • Understanding the fear of the Lord. 2:5
  • Knowledge 2:5-6
  • Understanding 2:6, 4:7
  • Success 2:7
  • Protection 2:8, 4:6
  • Discernment 2:9
  • A pleasant soul 2:10
  • Keeping existing assets (remaining in the land) 2:21
  • Prolong life, long life 3:2, 16, 4:10
  • Peace 3:2, 17
  • Prosperity 3:2, 10
  • Win favor & a good name 3:3
  • Keep a straight path 3:6
  • Health 3:8, 4:22
  • Nourishment 3:8
  • Discipline 3:12
  • High return on investment 3:14
  • Long life 3:16
  • Riches 3:16
  • Honor 3:16, 35, 4:8
  • Blessings 3:18, 33
  • Life 3:22, 4:4, 22
  • Safety 3:23
  • Fearlessness 3:24, 25
  • Sweet sleep 3:24
  • Held in confidence by God 3:32
  • Shown favor 3:34
  • Exaltation 4:8
  • Crowned 4:9
  • Run without stumbling 4:12
  • Path like the morning sun 4:18

Implications of a lack of wisdom from Proverbs 2-4:

  • Wickedness 2:12
  • Perversion 2:12
  • Darkness 2:13
  • Evil 2:14
  • Adultery 2:16
  • Death 2:18
  • Damnation 2:19
  • Lose assets (cut off from the land) 2:22
  • Detested 3:32
  • Cursed 3:33
  • Mocked 3:34
  • Shame 3:35
  • Deep darkness 4:19

Father God, your are holy and perfect and all wisdom comes from you!  We repent for our lack of wisdom, for our sins which lead to brokenness, for times of relying on our own understanding instead of seeking you first. We beg of your forgiveness. We ask for healing in situations where unwise choices of others have hurt us or the ones we love. We ask you to intervene in the lives of those who do not yet know you or acknowledge Jesus as their savior. Show them the way. Open our mouths to speak to the lost. Open our hearts to love the lost. Please grant us wisdom. We thank you in advance because we know you want us to seek wisdom and you want to give this to us. In the name of your son Jesus Christ, amen.

Man-ass-eh? But God still loves us.

Dear Readers,

This post was primarily authored on September 11th, 2019 from approximately 30,000 feet in the air. My thoughts from the beginning of today have been consumed by the tragedies that occurred on 9/11/2001. Those of us who witnessed these events unfolding will never forget this day that changed our lives forever.

For the first time in my recollection on the hundreds of flights I’ve taken, the captain (instead of a flight attendant) of the plane made the verbal welcoming announcement in person from the main cabin (outside of the cockpit). He didn’t mention 9/11/2001, but his tone was passionate and warm, and his face was serious as he made eye contact with many of the passengers. He welcomed us aboard in subtle remembrance and it was moving.

The tragic events of what is now known as “Patriot Day” brought collaborative evil terrorist schemes to light which included mass murder, complete devastation, horror, shock, loss, fear, pain and deep mourning.

Further, the leaders behind these events used this as a way to encourage additional terrorism in the future. This reminds me of Manasseh in our reading today which is 2 Chronicles 33:1-20.

Manasseh was a wicked king committing idolatry, sorcery and like the aforementioned terrorists, leading his people astray to do evil. He even went so far as to do the unimaginable: He burned his sons as an offering.

How does God respond to our disobedience?

One way is that he tries to communicate with us.

The Lord spoke to Manasseh and to his people, (2 Chronicles 33:10a)

This chapter doesn’t say how or what The Lord said to Manasseh and his people so let’s consider ways he tries to communicate to us today. Through his Holy Spirit whispering into our souls, through his marvelous works such as providing daily sustenance (oxygen, food, water), showing us the glory of a new sunrise and sunset, wildlife, mountains, forests, and the oceans along with the billions of inhabitants living there as part of the circle of life. Through performing countless miracles that we either notice or take for granted. Through his living word in The Bible conveying the sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

We should pay attention and be grateful for the many clues and ways he seeks relationship with us.

but they paid no attention. (2 Chronicles 33:10b)

Manasseh provokes God’s anger.

Eventually God got Manasseh’s attention in a most undesirable way.

Therefore the Lord brought upon them the commanders of the army of the king of Assyria, who captured Manasseh with hooks and bound him with chains of bronze and brought him to Babylon. (2 Chronicles 33:11)

Manasseh repents.

And when he was in distress, he entreated the favor of the Lord his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers. (2 Chronicles 33:12)

Manasseh lived such a life of defiance, it is interesting that he actually repents. A true atheist wouldn’t beg for God’s forgiveness right? This tells me that somewhere in Manasseh’s heart, he knew God all along.

He knew who his creator was. He knew the God of his ancestors was true. He had a compass, he knew right from wrong. Being made king at age twelve, much had been given to him, yet his selfishness and hatred drove his life up to this point.

God listens and responds.

The shocking yet beautiful result is that God was moved by Manasseh’s humility and forgives him, just like he forgives us when we truly repent and turn from our sins. This guy was the worst, but God forgave him! Note that this repentance was pure; not one of those fake repentances where one begs for help, gets rescued, then goes back to the same ways.

Like Manasseh, no matter how great our sins, we can be forgiven. It doesn’t make earthly sense but it is God’s perfect eternal equation. Sin = death. Repentance + Jesus = life.

Similar to remembrance of the events of 9/11/2001, holding this history close to our hearts, we must never forget God’s love for us. How Jesus surrendered his life for us. How our prior sins must not define us, but who we are in Christ, a new creation, washed clean.

May we repent and live new lives like Manasseh, being known for the change that can only point to a life defined as living for our God: creator, friend, and deliverer.

Betrayed

Think of a time when you were betrayed and how you felt.

Some of the emotions that go along with betrayal: anger, fear, loss, resentment, isolation, bitterness, pain, distrust. These emotions became all too real through a recent situation where I was betrayed and it hurt deeply.

but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, (1 Peter 3:15)

After wasting time on self-pity, I focused on the one who will never betray me; my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Because of my faith I was able to quickly see the reasons behind the betrayal: We live in a broken world and there is an enemy who wants to distract us from our relationship with God.

Satan is a deceiver and in this betrayal someone made a slight adjustment to the truth to convey a message of negativity at my expense.

As a result of my own faith:

  1. It was easier (not easy, easier) to forgive those who hurt me. The pain lessened with the realization that mankind is not the enemy. The enemy wants me to hate and seek revenge thus resulting in further turmoil, perpetuating the sin.
  2. There was peace in my heart! When I turned from anger I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit showing me the way. I saw the situation almost from afar; it was a trap, narrowly averted.
  3. Joy returned quickly. One of the most important phrases spoken to me in the last 20 years: “We are responsible for our own feelings.” Choosing anger and bitterness blocks the potential for joy in our lives. Trusting in Jesus and not ourselves enables us to experience that joy that we were meant to have.

Today’s reading: 2 Samuel 15, 17-18

Today we read about King David’s son Absalom who betrayed his father. The end result was a grueling death for Absalom and deep despair and grief for his father. Absalom conspired against King David to take the throne and worse, he sets out to have his own father killed.

What struck me in this story was David’s love and forgiveness which is beyond human understanding:

And the king ordered Joab and Abishai and Ittai, “Deal gently for my sake with the young man Absalom.” And all the people heard when the king gave orders to all the commanders about Absalom. (2 Samuel 18:5)

These chapters were assigned to me long before the recent betrayal in my life, but yet the timing was miraculous. Reading God’s word through my own situation provided a blueprint as to how to respond in a Godly manner. God’s word is alive and he continues to be faithful. Pick up those Bibles my friends, your creator wants to speak to you today!

He goes before us

Perhaps due to some recent beautiful summer mornings or maybe specific stories in my life, almost every day this thought comes to me, seemingly random: What will you do with this new day that has been given to you?

As I fantasize about all the great things I’ll do, a dose of reality also sets in. I am reminded that I am a sinner in need of a savior, following the ancient pattern: Doing evil, suffering the consequence of sin, a call for help, God showing mercy and grace resulting in reconciliation.

This is the pattern we repeatedly find in the lives of our ancestors thousands of years ago as described in the Bible and so it continues in today’s scriptures:  Judges 4-5.

A few things that stood out as a lesson and reminder for our lives today:

  1. We’re not that different than the people of Israel as we too are sinners, doing evil in the Lord’s sight. (Judges 4:1)
  2. Slavery is a metaphor for sin, as it holds us captive. (Judges 4:2)
  3. God makes promises. He promised victory. (Judges 4:7).
  4. Leaders need followers. Deborah was a leader but also a follower of God’s commands, and 10,000 soldiers followed Barak and Deborah into battle. (Judges 4:10)
  5. Evil forces never cease. (Judges 4:12-13)
  6. God goes before us, he is undefeated and the victory is his alone. In my mind it didn’t matter if Barak and Deborah had 1 or 1 million soldiers. (Judges 4:14-15)
  7. God is a promise-keeper; his promise of victory in Judges 4:7 comes to fruition. (Judges 4:16, 23-24)

What will we do with this new day that has been given to us? How will we respond to the promises of God? Will we put our trust in Jesus or ourselves? When our head hits the pillow, will we reflect with hearts of repentance as well as gratitude for this God who goes before us and always keeps his promises?

Loyalty

In today’s reading of Genesis 24 the word “loyalty” kept coming to mind even though the word itself does not appear within the chapter.

As I consider the word loyalty, I think about the people in my life who have been loyal to me as friends, family and loved ones and how important it is to be loyal to each other.

I’m not talking about loyalty to someones ideas or plans (because those are subject to error), I am talking loyalty to the person. Loving and supporting in good times and bad (like the marriage vows).

This past week we celebrated my wife’s birthday and one aspect of this celebration was to be able to observe how many people love and value her. She’s fun, funny, honest, a great listener, a great planner, and yes, very loyal.

When I thought about how amazing she is and how many people love her, I teared up a little bit with joy when she told everyone how she wanted to spend her birthday with just me. The woman I love, all to myself, all day, doesn’t get any better. I love and respect her loyalty to me as her husband through 19 years and counting. Thank you Amy, you are one of a kind!

Our God is loyal and he also expects us our loyalty in return.

Abraham’s servant showed loyalty as he took a long journey to find a wife for Isaac. He stayed loyal to his God in trusting his plans through miraculous answering of prayer. Rebekah’s family showed their loyalty and trust in the Lord by allowing their daughter to suddenly leave with this unknown servant and become the wife of Isaac. Young Rebekah showed her loyalty and faith by agreeing to immediately leave everything she knew and become the wife of someone she did not yet know.

Through all of this God proved himself again to be loyal and worthy of trust.

Reflect today on how God has been faithful to you, giving thanks for the sacrifice and resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Additional reading for today giving further insights into the life of Isaac: Genesis 26

Mistaken Identity

At the end of a recent long journey, we were grabbing our suitcases and quickly realized one of the bags was missing. We hunted around the baggage area, looking to see if perhaps someone was accidentally walking away with our bag, but we didn’t spot anything suspicious. We inquired with the staff and they stared searching with us.

After a little while longer we noticed one lonely suitcase in the claim area. It was a similar size as ours but really looked nothing like our bag.

Did someone mistake our bag for this one? On one hand we hoped so, but on the other, we hoped not because that meant our bag was on its way to who-knows-where.

One staff member at the luggage area noticed the remaining bag as well and she began inspecting the details. She then called the phone number on the bag tag and started speaking with the person. Bottom line… someone else mistakenly took our bag. Are you kidding me? They had been driving for a little while, but they were immediately going to turn around and exchange ours for theirs. Phew!

We were all quite astonished. How could someone mistake our bag for this one? Different brand and tags, ours had a ribbon on it, and theirs had a large strap going around the middle, and the tell-tale sign of your bag: it has your name on it. If it has someone else’s name, it isn’t your bag. My sarcastic side was firing on all cylinders, we were all shaking our heads.

All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure. (1 John 3:3)

I wish I could say that our family’s first reaction was pure; full of love, patience and forgiveness, but it wasn’t.

Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness.  (1 John 3:4)

We all had varying levels of anger and judgement.

No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him. (1 John 3:6)

To be fair, this negativity went on for just a minute until we all took a deep breath. What would Jesus do? Nothing new here: A human made a mistake.

For this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. (1 John 3:11)

We all make mistakes. If we don’t forgive others, how can we ask God to forgive us? Do we love others or do we just say we love others?

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. (1 John 3:16)

The world would tell us to go ahead and lay into the culprits and seek revenge. However this world is not our home, nor our final destination, and the logic of this world is not the logic nor will of our father in Heaven. It was time to bend our fleshly will toward the will of God who forgives us through his son Jesus.

Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. (1 John 3:18)

About 45 minutes later we had the opportunity to exchange the bags in person. Clearly embarrassed, the man and I exchanged eye contact and he immediately said “I’m so sorry”.

 

He didn’t look like a monster, he looked like a child of God. He looked like someone’s grandfather, a kind and gentle man. Someone’s husband. Someone’s beloved. We shook hands and went our separate ways, perhaps we will meet again in Heaven and I will confess that his apology wasn’t needed: I was the one who should have apologized for my wicked heart.

Father God, I repent of the selfishness that so often wells up in my heart. For putting me first instead of first loving others like you first loved us. Thank you for being so quick to forgive even though we are not always quick to forgive. Thank you for a new day, for the hope we have in you. Guide my heart. Cleanse me from all unrighteousness. Your will be done. Amen.

 

Actions vs. Words

Last night I dreamed I was on a ship amidst a serious storm. There were monstrous waves which ultimately caused the ship to capsize. I was trapped inside with water draining into the room. There was no way out, this was it, death by drowning was imminent. I would meet my creator within moments.

Did I get it right? Have I lived a life worthy of my calling? Should I be in fear or at peace? Am I truly saved? What if…?

The bottom line is, have my life’s actions spoken louder than my words? I proclaim salvation through Jesus Christ, but do I live it out? And what are the results of my actions?

While fortunately we are not saved by works, our actions and the fruit we bear (good or bad) reflect the lives we lead. Empty words are like water vaporizing into the sky on a hot summer day.

In today’s reading in Colossians 1 we have actions and results:

This same Good News that came to you is going out all over the world. It is bearing fruit everywhere by changing lives (Colossians 1:6a)

Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. (Colossians 1:10a)

So it is with Christ as he took action: Christ rescued us, transferred us, purchased our freedom and forgave our sins.

For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins. (Colossians 1:13-14)

We were once enemies of God. Separated from him, but Jesus took action and brought the result of mercy and grace: Reconciliation with Him through his death.

 22 Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault. (Colossians 1:22)

What actions is God calling you and I to right now? Who do we need to love and serve today? Who do we need to forgive or to ask for forgiveness? Do our actions today and every day reflect true gratitude for the magnitude of what Jesus has done and is doing in our lives?