By The Spirit - SELF CONTROL

Friends. This is the final installment of the fruits of the Spirit. I have TRULY loved researching and praying and writing on this. In 2019 my goal is to see MORE of the Spirit in my life, and less of myself. He must increase, I must decrease. I hope this has blessed you in the same way!

Today (sorry this is rolling in at 10PM - it was a big day!!!) we focus on the fruit of the Spirit self-control. Self-Control is the feminine noun egkrateia. It means temperance, or the virtue of having mastery over your passions and desires.

Self-control.

Certainly, this isn’t the most sexy of the fruits of the Spirit. But it is the FINAL fruit, the one that has the last word. It’s almost as if self-control ties all the other fruits together. It binds them. Enables them. Finishes them.

After all, how can you have patience without self-control?

How can we have gentleness without self-control?

Without self-control our lives, ambitions, and goals are awash. Self-control may be the pinnacle of the fruits.

This summer I set out on an ambition of mastering my tongue. The author of James compares our tongue to a rudder on a ship - that it directs a gigantic vessel, small though it is. Our mouths are the same. James writes:

We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check.

I knew I have gotten off track with my mouth. I was lazy with it, would engage in what the bible calls idle talk, and yes… I cursed sometimes. (Don’t tell grandma.)

I committed this to God. I asked God to enable me, give me power, grace, to MASTER my mouth.

And honestly? I was amazed. My mouth and tongue really did change. I spoke less (I STILL need to speak even less - Jesus take the wheel), listened more, was more thoughtful about what I said.

My belief about this is not that I’m super spiritual. To be sure, I KNOW I have less self-control than most nearly everyone I meet. But, I believe God WANTS to transform us. One of the chief works OF the Holy Spirit is to liken us to the image of Jesus. To change us. Completely.

I have a long way to go, but it’s encouraging to see God working things out in us. Molding us.

God’s goal for us, is that we wouldn’t be mastered by anything, but rather be master OVER all things. Our souls included. In 2019, I’m asking God to help conform me in ALL the fruits of the Spirit, by his grace, and power.

So what about you? What needs to (NEEDS TO) change in 2019?

Maybe its your anger.
Maybe its your mouth.
Maybe its the fact that need one less IPA on a Friday night.

But God doesn’t just want self-control in abstinence from unfruitful things. He wants self-control for you as you pursue the things and callings of GOD on your life.

Years ago I read The Final Quest by Rick Joyner. It’s a prophetic vision, about the battle between light and darkness and honestly I loved it. One line stood out to me and struck my Spirit completely. It said that the armies of God “marched with a tempered passion”.

A passion that had been mastered.

How powerful, I thought.

This is how God wants us to build his kingdom with Him. With a tempered passion. A matured zeal. A mastered vision. These are the kinds of people that start revivals, heal communities, change the world. Those with self-control.

May your 2019 be your most glorious yet. May your transformation begin inward, and move powerfully outward into a world that so desperately needs to see the LIGHT and power of the living God.

Believing so much for you. So grateful to have walked the last 9 days with you! God can do immeasurably more. By the Spirit.

-jessie

Scripture Verses:

  • James 3

  • 1 Peter 1:5-7

  • 1 Corinthians 10:13

By The Spirit - GENTLENESS

Well friends, we are nearly done with our study!! I’ve enjoyed writing this so much, it’s been so wonderful for my soul and Spirit. I hope it is aligning your day the way it’s aligning mine. God has so much in store for us.

Today we are talking about the fruit of the Spirit gentleness.

This is such a powerful fruit of the Spirit. The word for gentleness is the feminine noun praotēs. It means meekness, mildness, gentleness.

Jesus was praotēs.

In one of my favorite scriptures about our savior, Jesus describes the kind of life we can have in the Spirit. In Matthew 11 Jesus claims that in Him we can have rest. And ease in life. A PEACE. He boldly claims:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

The word he uses for himself is GENTLE, and humble in heart. Jesus was meek.

The word meek to me always reminded me of Schmiegel from Lord of the Rings. I would hear “meek” and think of that little weak creature hiding in a corner. I associated meekness with weakness.

Meekness, however, is something Jesus was.

And Jesus certainly isn’t weak.

When he returns, he will ride on a white horse, he will be called Faithful and True, his eyes will be like fire, and FRIEND,

He will not look REMOTELY weak. (For reference, read Revelations 19:11-16)

Jesus was, however meek. To be meek meant to have immense power, but to choose to not exercise it.

To have power under control.

Gentleness, mildness, meekness, is NOT passivity friends. Make no mistake about it. To be meek means you understand your gifts, your power, your strength, but you choose to only exercise it for the sake of others. Never for yourself.

Jesus said in Matthew 5:5: Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

What kind of people do you think God would put in charge of the WHOLE EARTH?

People who had immense power, gifting - but who exercised it for the sake of others.

Today a woman wrote me and asked for my definition of leadership. In my opinion, leadership is not being the most charismatic, having the most people report to you, having the loudest megaphone. It’s not instagram followers or writing books or speaking at leadership summits.

It’s just not.

This was the answer I gave: Leadership is to have power, but to leverage for the sake of other people. THAT’S A LEADER.

Andy Stanley says “how do I give of ME so you have more for YOU.”

That’s a leader.

Today, may you be blessed knowing that God wants you to EMPOWER YOU, but that when he does it’s for the sake of empowering others. This is gentleness. Power under control.

For the sake of the kingdom.

Until tomorrow,

jessie

Scripture Verses:

  • Matthew 5:5

  • Titus 3:1-2

  • Matthew 11:1-29

By The Spirit - FAITHFULNESS

Guys. We are ONE WEEK INTO 2019. How crazy is that? I have loved this year already. My prayer for you is that you are feeling God pulling you into NEW pasture in 2019. He truly does want our lives overflowing with grace.

Today we are looking at FAITHFULNESS.

Ow, Lawd.

Faithfulness. Faithfulness has been such a large mantle of my young ministry life. When we are at a crossroads, and confused about where to go, the best thing we can do is be faithful. When we are lost, frustrated, broken-hearted, the BEST thing for our hearts is to recharge in faithfulness.

Faithfulness is the greek word “pistis” a feminine noun that can mean both the the noun of faith: belief, conviction, assurance, but also the word faithfulness, which means “a character of one who can be relied on.” Faithfulness produces character in us that makes the world lean on us when it needs help. Amazing.

Faithfulness, I believe at its core is simply trusting God as you are stewarding your moment. It is being faithful, with what the Lord has given you.

Some of you may be aware of the parable of the talents. This bit of scripture has marked eternally my life, and has directed my ship more than once as I serve God, minister at his church, love his people. In the parable, Jesus compares to the kingdom of God to a master of an estate who goes on a “long journey”. The master gives three of his servants portions of his estate and money to oversee. To one he gives five talents, to one two talents and to the last he gave one single talent.

The story goes on and it says “after a long time the man came home to settle his accounts.” The man is gone for a long time, transliterated it means a LIFETIME. The master comes home, and wants to know:

What did you do with what I gave you?

For all of us, we get hung up on the amount of stuff given. We see one dude get five talents, and one dude get one, and think “my goodness this is unfair, isn’t God a bit more just than this?” But the point of the story isn’t what you have been given: but what you did with what you were given.

Life is unfair. I know, NEWSFLASH. But really.

There is no reason I was born in Denver, Colorado to a kind, married, affluent family while another girl was born in India, unwanted, and left on a street by a young father to face life alone.

All of us will receive different amounts and portions of:

Affluence
Family Support
Education
Talent
Athleticism
Charisma
Looks
Societal Help

Some of us will have more education than others. More familial support than others. More societal help. But all of us WILL BE GIVEN a MEASURE of SOMETHING.

How then do we engage with what we have?

I work with 20 somethings all the time, who are prone PRONE to dreaming. The dream will seem so big to them they don’t know where to start. Every conversation I’ve had, for the last 8 years has been “start with what you have”. It’s so simple it’s silly. It’s so simple it’s profound.

You want to influence the world? Influence your workplace.
You want to change our government? Start with your town hall
You want to change your family? Start with yourself.

This is something I’m learning all over again 14 years into ministry. Be faithful with what have been given.

At the end of the parable of the talents, the master speaks to one of his servants, overjoyed with how this person stewarded their “talents” the places, faces, and gifts God gave them. He says:

”Well done, my good and FAITHFUL servant. You have been faithful with little, and I will now give you MUCH.”

This, my friends, is all I long to hear from my Jesus.

Whatever God has given you TODAY - be faithful with it. Don’t squander it. Don’t wish it away. Trust God, and work out your faithfulness, knowing SO MUCH MORE is in store.

Love,

jessie

Scripture Verses:

  • Matthew 25:14-29

  • Romans 1:17

  • 1 Timothy 1:12-13

By The Spirit - GOODNESS

*Note: I gotta get up at the butt crack of dawn tomorrow, so this installment is coming in hot at 10PM the night before. Still worth it.

GUYS. So much to celebrate today. It’s the first Sabbath of 2019. My friends are planting a church in Austin today, and we are flying high in Galatians five. It’s a good day.

Speaking of good, today we are talking about goodness.

When I think about things being “good” the very first thing that comes to mind is creation, and God calling each thing that he made “good”. Stars: “good”. Mountains: “good”. Turtle: “good”. Dragonfly: “good”. People: “very good.”

The word good in the bible is often interchanged with the word glory or holiness. In Galatians 5 for example, goodness is the greek feminine (hollleerrr girlllls) noun agathōsynē. It means “uprightness of heart and life”. How beautiful. But that uprightness is an integrity. Standing tall in goodness.

Holiness, glory, and GOODNESS have an overlapping in the Old Testament worthy of talking about.

When I first realized this I had a massive revelation. I was reading about the Moses asking God to see his “glory”. (Exodus 33). Moses inquires of God, “God, let me see your glory,” and God responds, “Moses, I will show you my GOODNESS.”

I stopped and reread: Moses asks God, CLEARLY for glory. God responds, “you got it kid. Here’s my goodness.”

Legit thoughts I had after:

Me: “I’m sorry, God, but uh, did you not HEAR Moses? He asked for GLORY.”

God: “Ya. I know, I’m showing him my GOODNESS.”

And that’s when it hit me.
His goodness is so GOOD it’s his GLORY.

Maybe you’re like me, and when you think of the “holiness” or “glory” of God it sometimes can make you feel unworthy (which we are, indeed). Sometimes it can make us feel like God is SO other, untouchable almost because he is HOLY. And I am JESSIE. (I can’t fold a fitted SHEET for crying out loud. I certainly have fallen short of the perfection of God.)

But then I discover that the glory of God is akin to the goodness of God.

Hang with me:

This means that when the glory of God is on display we see him in all his GOODNESS. How compassionate, merciful, deep, kind, strong, mighty, everlasting, GOOD is God. Suddenly God’s glory is something we want to be close to, not shy away from, if you follow - because, well, his glory-ness is GOOD.

What this means for us walking in the Spirit is that when we walk in GOODNESS we are walking with upright hearts after the holiness of God. Can you imagine? Us mere humans having the indwelling of an eternal God, and getting to walk after and in his glory? With upright hearts and lives? And friend, there is no better life than this. With our chins up, our gaze ahead, our hearts full of GOD’s Spirit we walk into our days.

Bringing his glory, his GOODNESS wherever we go.

If you have time, jot down a few thoughts with the Lord:

  1. The imagery of an “upright heart and life” is a man/woman walking tall. What do you think this says about the goodness/holiness of God?

  2. What would it look like for you TODAY to walk with an “upright heart and life”?

My prayer is that you know the JOY of walking in God’s holiness, and feeling the reverberations of his goodness in your being and the spheres you inhabit. God has so much goodness to pour out today!

Walk tall, good hearted friend,

jessie

Scripture Reading:

  • Psalm 27:13

  • 2 Thessalonians 1:11

  • Exodus 33:18-23

By The Spirit - KINDNESS

Guys. Yas. It’s the weekend! The perfect day to look at KINDNESS.

The world today seems more unkind than ever, aye? Whatever news station you watch, the vitriol is piercing, the comments harsh, the language… unkind. It’s almost as if there is a contest to see who can be the most mean. Most rude. On social media, the ability to share our opinion has never been more available to us. Opinions are shared so often that the abbreviation IMO (In My Opinion) was one of the most used in 2018. A lot of the opinions could use the class of our grandma’s generation, but alas. Kindness is missing from much of our communication in 2019.

Kindness is probably the most UNDERRATED of the fruits of the Spirit. It comes from the greek word chrēstótēs which simply means gentleness, goodness or moral integrity. It was a favorite word of Paul’s, used mostly BY Paul in his letters. At one point in Colossians 3, Paul says to “put on kindness”. The visual is like putting on a new winter coat. We are to “dress ourselves” and “wear” kindness wherever we go.

The other day I was exiting our local gym when a woman gave me a big, gracious smile. Instantly my heart was flooded with hope and happiness. Literally, one smile and my heart posture shifted. She gave me a compliment after that, joking that the work outs were working. Honestly, as a tired mom of toddlers who doesn’t shower most days this was a wonderful comment to me. I was grateful. More than that though, I was just seized by the fact that this woman decided to connect human to human. Person to person. To make eye contact, say hello, take 20 seconds from her day to notice a stranger.

And oh, friends, do we need to connect human to human more in 2019. As author and fellow young adult Pastor Tracey Wilde writes: connecting human to human in a disconnected world is our greatest challenge, and should be our greatest goal.

Chances are, that as you “wear” this fruit of the Spirit, you will change the atmospheres you enter. Scripture tells us that we “continue” in the kindness Jesus has poured out on us. In other words, he shifts something in our hearts with his kindness, and we turn around and shift the spaces we inhabit.

Today, here are a few thoughts about putting on kindness:

  • In check out lines make eye contact and connect with your barista or checker, talk with them, ask a question, engage.

  • If you have a co-worker that you just. don’t. get. - Spend extra time getting to know about their life, family.

  • Conduct yourselves towards others with grace and gentleness.

  • Model kindness to your kids.

May we shift our spheres of influence simply by wearing the Spirit every where we go.

In Kindness,

Jessie

Scripture Reading:

  • Colossians 3:12

  • Titus 3:4

  • Ephesians 2:7

By The Spirit - PATIENCE

Guys. We are four days into 2019. HOW DO YOU FEEL??? I feel pretty great, but it’s probably because I had Einstein’s Vanilla Hazelnut coffee this morning and I. am. amped.

Today we are looking at the fruit of the spirit, PATIENCE.

The best definition of patience I have EVER heard came from the one and only Joyce Meyer: “patience is not the ability to wait but how we act while we wait.”

Confession time, friend. I am TERRIBLE at waiting. I value efficiency, and I have little tolerance for things being slow, or late. I almost always can find a way to do something quicker, more efficiently, faster. I love Amazon Prime, my Click List at the grocery store, and the ability to buy movies off of Netflix. I can even mobile order my Starbucks so that I role into the store, role out of the store, and I didn’t even need to make eye contact with a barista as I grab my drink in my makeupless, beanie wearing, oh-so-sexy mom of toddlers look.

Waiting to me seems passive, and guys, I seriously can’t stand the idea of stagnation. Maybe you can relate?

When it comes to faith, I believe that having faith in God should produce. If I trust him for an outcome, it should come about. If I have faith for the future, that path should be cleared. If I believe on God for breakthrough it should come. Now.

But faith, I’m beginning to see doesn’t always produce.
Sometimes faith is just patient.

And some things (read the BEST THINGS) just.
take.
time.

When Jesus speaks about the kingdom, he almost ALWAYS uses agriculture as his metaphor. I believe that if Jesus was alive and ministering in 2019, he wouldn’t update his metaphors. The reason being, a seed growing into a Mustard Tree is much more like the kingdom than our iPhones ever will be. Jesus says the kingdom is like a farmer who plants seed, it’s like seed scattered on the ground, it’s like a dude who plants a crop goes to bed a few weeks and then suddenly is shocked when he sees something GROW. These metaphors are intentional. The kingdom is powerful, but the kingdom also requires patience.

With harvest there are three stages:
1.) Sowing (Starting)
2.) Growth (Waiting)
3.) Harvest (Reaping)

Some of us are in starting seasons, some of us (praise God) are in the beautiful season of harvest where all of our promises of God are blooming, (finally), but I believe many of us are in the growth stage. Where your promise of God is like a seed in the ground buried in wet soil. Any movement in your life is happening BELOW the surface. Above ground, there is nothing. Nothing to show for your growth. Above ground, it seems like God maybe has forgotten, God’s promise is in stagnation, God’s word isn’t on the move.

But, oh, if we could see just below ground.

To have patience as we wait for God’s promises in our lives we need only one thing. I believe only ONE thing is needed in order to WAIT WELL. And that is faith - that he who planted, is faithful.

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. - Hebrews 10:23

This verse should be on every mirror of our homes. God, who gave you a promise of marriage. Or ministry. Or character development. Or breakthrough. Or family salvations. Or HOPE - this God won’t fail you. He won’t leave you or forsake you. He won’t stop what he’s started. And he will bring about what he promised. So HOLD. TIGHT.

Wait well.

And have faith in the interim, that he who promised is faithful.

May your waiting be deep and rich like a seed in the ground in 2019.

Until tomorrow,

jessie

Scripture Reading:

  • Hebrews 10:23

  • 2 Corinthians 6:2

  • Ecclesiastes 3:11

  • Isaiah 40:31

By The Spirit - PEACE

Day three and feeling free! Today we are looking at the fruit of the Spirit PEACE.

Peace. Man do we need peace.

Spend 5 minutes watching your 24-hour news broadcast and you will know we need peace today now more than ever. But not just nationally, not just politically, or racially, we need peace in our churches, peace in our homes,

Peace in hebrew is (again, girls, this is a trend,) the feminine noun eirene’. That has a variety of meanings. 1.) Eirene’ is a national peace or tranquility that exempts from war or havoc - to which Americans say “AAAMEEEEN.” 2.) Eirene is a safety and security that leads to PROSPERITY and FORWARD MOTION. 3.) Eirene’ means “to set as one again”.

Wow. To set as ONE again. Security that leads to PROSPERITY.

Here’s what I believe is the coolest part about peace. Peace was almost over spoken over someone in the Old Testament as they were going somewhere. When we think of peace, we think of passivity. Sitting on a dock. Carefree. Staring at the ocean. But “peace” in the Hebrew dialect was almost always spoken over someone ON A JOURNEY.

You see friends. Peace is not for the passive. Peace is for the pioneers.

When Hebrews would pray peace over someone, it would be as they set out on a voyage.
”Depart in peace,” they would say.
”Go in peace,”
”Go the way of peace,”
”Follow the way of peace,”

The good (read GREAT) news: that God wants you to journey. That God wants you to tackle new mountains. That God wants you to voyage. God wants us to move into prosperity. And he wants to give you peace AS YOU GO. What a good, gracious Father. This peace is something that happens in our soul, through the Holy Spirit.

Peace comes to us on the journey, when we do two things:

  1. We are at peace with God (submitted to God).

  2. We are at peace with people (as much as it depends on us).

If there is a lack of peace, it simply means that we need to return again to the covering of God, OR make peace with people. Maybe God has asked you to ditch a boyfriends, or follow him into a new profession, maybe he has asked you to abandon a friendship or serve your neighbor more. If you are suffering from a lack of peace, its because you need to simply say “not my way, God, but your way.”

If you there is a lack of peace with people, try one of two things: serve them, or apologize to them.

God wants to cover you completely with peace, safety, and serenity as you move into your calling. He wants to stabilize your head and heart as you run your race with Jesus. Our role is to come under that covering, and be godly towards others as God has been so richly kind to us.

As you go, today may you go the way of peace.

Love,
jessie

Scripture Reading:

  • Colossians 3:15

  • Proverbs 16:7

  • Romans 12:18

By The Spirit - JOY

Happy 2nd day of 2019! Two days in and we’re already feeling God change and empower us.

Today we are looking at the fruit of the Spirit: JOY.

Ah, that elusive state of joy.

All of us want it. Few of us, (if we are honest) have it. Jeff Spadafora, life coach and author of The Joy Model writes that “An increasing number of Christians are frustrated… Even as they read their Bibles, listen to sermons, and hang out with other Christians, they become painfully aware that something is missing. (That something) is JOY.”

Joy in Hebrew is “simchah” (read “sim-ka”) a feminine noun (shout out ladies) that means an exceedingly great glee. Not like the show. But the emotion and state of utter giddy DELIGHT. The second word we translate to joy is the Hebrew word “sha’a”. Sha’a is a verb that is akin to a kid playing with their toys on Christmas morning. Joy, it would seem is both a state of being and a posture of activity that is overwhelmingly fun.

The Psalmist writes about joy nearly more than any other book in the Bible. And, according to the Psalms, joy can only come from enjoying and experiencing God. I’ll say that again for because I haven’t had my coffee yet this morning: According to the Psalms, joy is ONLY found while enjoying and experiencing God.

Joy can’t be found in activity or events. In other words, we can’t find lasting joy from a great sporting event, or fitting in all of our ski days (although this Colorado girl bets that would help!!), in new SUVs, or in 401ks. The right pair of shoes, the perfect boyfriend, the best promotion at work won’t hold a candle to what the Psalmist writes about when he writes about JOY.

Joy, according to scripture is found in only in BEING. NOT DOING.
(Enneagram 8s and 3s, I heard you grumble just there.)

We find joy when we experience the presence, and fullness of the Holy Spirit. The Psalmist puts it this way:

You have put more joy in my heart
    than they have when their grain and wine abound.

- Psalm 4:7

God can put more joy into our inner man than the best year-end bonus or the best New Years Eve party. Believe THAT. We have joy when he comes to us and rests on our hearts. He have joy beyond comprehension when we fully engage with his presence. We find joy when we hear the murmurs of the Living God. We experience joy when we just BE. WITH. GOD.

Some questions for your soul this beautiful morning:

  1. When was the last time you went on a walk with God? No agenda. Just to chat with Him.

  2. When was the last time you sat, stared at clouds or falling snow and just listened to the still small voice?

  3. Do you feel you are better at KNOWING God or EXPERIENCING God? There is a difference, after all.

If joy can only be found in the BEING not the DOING than our 2019s must look radically different from cultures. Joy in 2019 won’t be found in instagram posts or vacations, keeping up with the Jones’ or new successes. To have joy we will have to fight back against the tyranny of busyness. We will have to shut off our cell phones. We will have to decide that our soul is more important than our calendar. We will have to BE MORE, and DO LESS.

Here are a few quick thoughts for experiencing God, the author and giver of joy in 2019:

  • Read the Gospel of John for the month of January.

  • Find an activity you can do with Jesus. This may be going for a walk. Writing poems. Painting. Just like you have a favorite activity you did with your earthly dad, find one to do with God on the regular.

  • Turn off your radio or Spotify on the way to work. Just sit and chat/listen to God as you drive.

As you push back against your busyness I know you will find an inner rest, delight, and joy from BEING with our God. May this be your most joyful year yet.

- jessie

Scripture Reading:

  • Psalm 16:11

  • Isaiah 61:10

  • Zephaniah 3:17

By The Spirit - LOVE

DAY ONE - LOVE

Happy Spirit led year, amazing friend!!!

You’ve heard the saying “hurt people hurt people”. Well, I’m an eternal optimist, so let’s flip that: Loved people LOVE people. When we know we are cared for to our core, that affection flows into every other sector of our lives.

It’s my firm belief that every issue of the human heart stems from a dysfunctional view of God. More aptly, it comes from a dysfunctional view of the love of God. The reason we struggle to love well is because we don’t know how well we are loved.

Question: what was the most affectionate, supportive, warm environment you have ever been a part of. Maybe it was a job you had. Or a year at school. Maybe it was a church. Whatever it was, I bet you felt like a rockstar there didn’t you? Unstoppable almost. You felt confident. Cared for. Safe. Strong.

One space for me was my Chemistry teacher in high school. She was endlessly supportive. Kind. Caring. I got 104% in that class, went to the Chem Bowl that year (read “Super Bowl but for people with high waisted pants and plastic belts”) and decided to study Chemistry in college. Because I felt STRONG there. Confident. Assured.

LOVE DOES THAT.

Love makes you unstoppable.

In 1 John we read that GOD IS LOVE. (1 John 4:8) God doesn’t just feel love, or simply act in love but is the embodiment and essence of love. That word “love” in 1 John 4 is the greek word “Agape”, a feminine noun (holler ladies) that is a faithful, committed, willful and FOCUSED kind of love.

This is a far cry from the way we tote around the word love in 2019. The word “love” TODAY is but a slight upgrade from “like”. We say “we love tacos” (OMG I LOVE TACOS) and in the same breath “I love you” to our spouse. The potency of it is lost on us.

Agape love, though, is powerful. Every time it’s used, it “shows” itself to other people. Jesus would rebuke the Pharisees for a no-show of love. (Luke 11:42) Jesus said people can see God by how we SHOW love (John 13:35). Love chases us (Hosea 2:14). Love follows us (Romans 8:36-39). Love SHOWS itself true to us.

At one point Paul says that perfect love expels fear from our life. Imagine that. A fearless 2019.

If we are going to live completely out of the Spirit then we must, must, MUST understand the depth of love that God has for us. Indeed, how can we love our neighbor as ourself if we don’t in fact know (REALLY know love) … ourself?

Years ago I had a gigantic break-through in my walk with God, and it all revolved around his love. For decades I believed that God’s love was a byproduct of how I pleased him (raise your hand people pleasers!). If I was performing well, God loved me well and showed favor. If I was off somewhere in my life, God removed himself from me. I believed a terrible, paralyzing lie. Once I had revelation that God’s love for me was unconditional: I could be amazing or a slob, God still smiled brightly on me - I was free. Not only was I free, I was confident. Happy. Focused.

After all, what in the world could be against me if GOD HIMSELF WAS FOR ME? And he is, indeed, FOR ME. And, friend - he’s for YOU.

And so that is your first task for 2019, dear friend. You MUST know his love in 2019. Spend time this morning or this evening alone. Get quiet, and ask God to up the anti on his SHOW of love to you. He is chiefly your Father. Friend. Confidant. King.

I’m believing and praying that your 2019 is overflowing with God’s outpouring of love: in your heart and then through your life.

Scripture Reading:

  • Romans 8:31-39

  • 1 John 4:18

  • 1 John 4:7-8

  • 1 Corinthians 13

By The Spirit

I’m an enneagram 8. At my core I like DOING. Words like “hustle”, “go”, “build”, “the grind” invigorate me, the idea of movement sends life into my heart. I can check off a todo list, plan an outing with the kids, dream up a new start up, head to a work out, have a bunch of meetings and feel. just. great.

The problem is, I can get moving SO FAST that I forget to ask God for directions - let alone empowerment. I will be 40 miles ahead of Jesus heading in the wrong direction and not know I’m off course until I zoom off of the road into a ditch. (Anyone relate?) For those of you versed in Scripture, you know that the New Testament makes a distinct difference between our self-effort and God-effort. Scripture calls these two states of our soul “walking after the flesh” and “walking in the Spirit”.

In one of my favorite sermons of 2018 I talked about God doing the IMMEASURABLE in our lives. But in order to do that, we have to walk by the Spirit. “Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit,” declares the Lord (Zech 4:6) In other words, God can do abundantly more than we could ask or imagine. But it will be his path, not ours. His power.

God wants to empower our lives, our homes, our future. But it will be BY HIS SPIRIT. Not by our self-effort. The Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead lives in us, now it’s our decision to keep in step with the Spirit.

So.

Therefore, to start the New Year, I will be focusing on the fruits of the Spirit, and asking God to build in my inner man a deeper understanding of the Spirit. For the next 9 days I will delve into studying:

LOVE
JOY
PEACE
PATIENCE
KINDNESS
GOODNESS
FAITHFULNESS
GENTLENESS and
SELF-CONTROL

I invite you to join me. We can learn how to walk in Him, with Him, for Him, through Him. May your 2019 be propelled, empowered, focused and fruitful!

-jessie

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The Crux of Belief - He's For You

If it’s true that the beliefs in our lives determine our destiny, than what we believe, and how we choose our mind’s focus is of utmost importance.

Steven Furtick says “The voice you believe determines the reality you experience.”

These are true words.
These are powerful words.

We choose to believe certain thoughts, and certain voices everyday. Most of these beliefs are somewhat external. Meaning we form beliefs about the world around us: We will choose to believe CNN about the war in Yemen. We choose to believe our grandma, and her sage advice for how to cure a migraine. We believe our neighbor, when they gossip about another neighbor. We believe our google searches about how to parent our kids, or, our google searches that we are in fact, ruining our kids. Many of our beliefs we choose are about the world around us.

Some of our beliefs however, are internal. Meaning that they are beliefs about us. About our souls. About our faults. About our worth. And these beliefs, well, exist on an entirely different level than external beliefs.

This is because what we belief about ourselves, becomes ourselves.

“For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.” - Proverbs 23:7

Whatever we think in our hearts, so are we.

Which leads me to what I believe has to be, must be, the crux of all of our belief about ourselves. And that is, we have a Father who is for us.

Our God is slow to anger, rich in love, compassionate, thoughtful, forethoughtful about our lives, intentional about how he love us.

God is FOR YOU.

Romans 8 cries: “If God is FOR YOU, WHO can be AGAINST YOU??” Nobody. That’s who. No demon from hell. No circumstance from earth. Even YOU can’t be against YOU.

It pushes further in how “FOR” us God is: “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?”

What things?

ALL THINGS.

I’m sorry, did you say God would give me some things, Romans?

NOPE. ROMANS SAYS GOD GIVES YOU ALL THINGS. GRACIOUSLY.

Because he is FOR YOU.

It continues:

Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long;    we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Just. WOW.

God is FOR you.

He is PRO - you.

God is in your corner.

God is your biggest backer.

God is your burliest forerunner.

God is your lineman.

God is wingman.

God LIVES in your inner-man.

And God is unstoppable.

The God that never sleeps has an omnipotent hand on your life.

God is continually working for your good.

God is your coach yelling “you got this!!!” when you are up against the ropes. He is the Spirit inside of you that shows you the measure of how you can. do. this.

He is for you.

If this is our baseline. If this is where we begin. Then truly, there is nothing we cannot do through God for the glory of God. There is no circumstance that won’t be used. No opponent that won’t be leveled. No mountain that will steal our path.

God is FOR YOU. The rest… is just details.

Sailing, Sea Ships & The Power of Words

There is nothing more powerful within our human body than the tongue.

Your biceps, feet, even your fist can’t do what the mouth can do. The book of James tells us that although the tongue is small, it makes GREAT BOASTS. (Sounds like a tongue I suppose…) James then goes on to compare the tongue to the rudder of a ship. Though the rudder is small, in unequivocally is the instrument that determines the direction of the ship.

I will say that again (more for me than for you):

It is the instrument that determines the direction of the ship.

In this last season God has been dealing with me about my mouth. It has been a rude lesson, tough and brutal. There have been many battles I have lost, and many opportunities I have missed, and I believe it has been because I did not tame my tongue in good time. I have been faced with the question - where would I like my life to go? And based on that - what would have have my mouth say that aids that future? I have much left to learn, but here are some quick tip bits:

  • Always Speak Unity:

Unity takes effort and the recognition of the Spirit. Gossip and slander is tricky, sly, covert, and comes in the back door. It starts with “how are you” and can dissolve into speaking disunity over your friendships, family, church, staff or company quickly. God wants you to speak always blessing and always life over your extended relationships. James writes that you simply CANNOT bless God and curse people with the same mouth. It shows a division within your soul. Where one statement is false. To love God is to love his people. To love his people is to speak kindly to and about them. To bless God means to bless people. EVERY SINGLE DAY.

  • Speak God’s Promises (And Let Your Emotions Catch Up)

Have you ever had a season where the promises of God seem far off? Maybe even non-existant? You want to believe God has a plan for your life but just don’t feel it. Feelings are followers, not leaders. Your mouth should consistently and constantly be speaking God’s reality over your life: that he has a plan, that his ways are right, that his hand is on you, that his Spirit lives in you. These truths need to become OUR TRUTHS. Your feelings will follow suit, and let me just say from experience, when you choose faith first, and your feelings follow you into the promise - this is life and life abundant.

  • Avoid Cursing:

Unwholesome talk comes from your heart. If you are able to tame these words before they come out, it’s like a small exercise in reconfiguring your mouth back to the goodness, sweetness, and righteousness of Jesus. A good man, the bible writes, speaks from the good treasure stored in his heart and brings forth good words. Taming your tongue with unwholesome language will quickly right your ship, redirect your heart towards (good) Godly things and make way for you to be sanctified into a “good” man/woman.

  • Not Everything is For Everyone

When an angel comes to visit Mary, and tell her that she was to carry, deliver and raise the Son of living God, Luke records that she “treasured these things and pondered them in her heart.” When God speaks to you, its sometimes just for you. When you share it to quickly, and with the wrong people, it can lose momentum, power, and heart. In other words: what God says to YOU is not for EVERYONE. And at times, not speaking, and simply treasuring what God has said is the most incredible move you can make for your future.

May your words be measured, and your ships sail forward this week!

Creativity and the Kingdom

In Western culture, opinions matter. Our ability to form and express our opinion and personal view or stance has never been more simple, and the platforms for doing so encourage the behavior itself. Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook are, anymore, a place to showcase a false life or broadcast an opinion. Opinions by their very nature are subjective, but most often deeply impassioned. We believe we are 'right' and we believe our intellect is most savvy, and it's those poor oafs on the other side of the debate that are truly the ignorant ones. 

Twenty years ago, there was a stark difference between "news" and opinion. On the front page of the Post would be articles from journalists who fact checked, had accountability through their organization and peers, and who were held accountable as well by the audience that read them. In the back of the paper was a small section (operative word 'small') called "The Opinion Column". Here, anyone could broadcast their opinion, but it was read by the departments, combed for facts, and then published - but it was headlined as "opinion". Nothing more, nothing less.

Today, if you are the average social media user, you will spend no less than 2.5 hours reading/watching opinions. Of these, there is an estimated 270 fake Facebook users at any given point and time, who along with authentic profiles, will create and broadcast videos - (100 million hours of video content are watched on Facebook daily). 

In this environment, everyone has megaphones, but the loudest megaphone wins. For whatever reason, it seems most critical voices are often the loudest. 

What's more, having an opinion, (bonus points if you use dry satire to prop up your criticism) is now more valuable than viable action.  Generation Z, in a recent comment was noted as caring more about "having an opinion than acting on that opinion." 

What a world.

As followers of the Way, our approach to life will almost always be in direct violation with the laws of current culture. Critics are nothing new. In the old testament we witness opinions and criticisms circling Moses and Aaron, critics who denied the beauty of the Promise Land in front of two 'believers' (Joshua and Caleb), complainers who came to Absalom to give issue with David's rule. In the new testament, we witness opinion and criticism personified in the Pharisees and Saducees. For them, Jesus' miracles were done on the wrong day, in the wrong way, for the wrong people with the wrong Messianic messaging. 

Jesus, if you are wondering, loves the critic (they are, after all, his kids), but loathes the critiquing heart.  He despised people who talked about right doing, but never did right. 

Meanwhile, Jesus went about creating.

He would create wine for parties. New lives for little girls trapped in death. New outcomes for prostitutes. New lessons for listeners. Jesus was always creating wherever he went.

Just last week, 12 young teens and their coach were caught in a cave in Thailand. Immediately there were voices of critique. How the Thai government was handling it, whose fault it was, why the rescue was taking so long. There were others, though, who just began creating. Creating rescue plans, creating teams to dive, creating new gear to save the children (among these was Elon Musk who is currently my favorite creator alive.)

This contrast can be found in nearly every crisis I can remember from the last year. The hurricane in Houston for example: CRITICS: "Where was the city planning on this?" "Why hasn't Trump released more FEMA money?" "Why won't this church open its doors to the hurting?" "Who's fault is this anyway?" CREATORS: Men and women drove from Louisiana (they called themselves the "Cajun Navy") with speed boats, swamp boats and canoes to save people perched on their rooftops above their flooded homes.

With every crisis we face, there are two sets of people that arise. The critics, the creators. And just like the 12 spies that went into the Promise Land to survey the potential new home, the critics by and large, are the majority.

But the creators, create the future.

While the critics may be loud, their voices numerous, the creators will be the ones who build the world we all live in. 

And so you have to choose a side. Are you a critic? Or a creator? Do you bicker? Or do you build? In my life I have found that the human heart actually only has room for one of these. And so we decide the way we give to our world.

Whatever influence and gift you have today, remember that to be like Christ is to CREATE in calamity, to INNOVATE in the face of issues, to DREAM in the face of darkness. As Mr. Roger's mother is quoted as saying "look for the helpers" and join them as they create a new world.

 

A Word About The Word

The Word of God has the power to change our life. The bible says that the word was with God in the beginning, that the Word hung out with God, and the Word WAS God. It was both/and - and it blows my mind how simple and yet profound our God is.

Right now the Bible can be read in thousands of languages. Missionaries put it on SIM cards and give the word to people in their own native tongue. The word is read at weddings and funerals. Its in every hotel in America. 

But the word is so much more than WORDS.

The word is alive. According to John, the Word is another name for our sweet Jesus. The Message puts it this way:

The Word became flesh and blood,
    and moved into the neighborhood.
We saw the glory with our own eyes,
    the one-of-a-kind glory,
    like Father, like Son,
Generous inside and out,
    true from start to finish.

The Word, by the power of the Holy Spirit changed my LIFE nearly 16 years ago. I remember the first time it became "alive and active" to me, and I never looked back. It has molded my heart, shown me truth in valleys, shown me my call. The word "divides soul and Spirit" pierces the heart and judges our intentions. Like a living, breathing thing would.

I have been asking God to give me a fresh zeal for His word, for a new look into the depths of it. In a world that tries to offer us something for our souls that quench our deepest need, the word does it effortlessly and without fail. If you are needing new LIFE today - maybe ask God for a fresh passion for His word. 

Prayer:
Father, thank you that your voice is alive. That your words are active. Thank you that you direct us in Spirit and in Truth, that you love us deeply when we walk out your ways. Thank you for making your ways clear to us via your word. Be with us as we read, help us to hear you, and empower us to stay in step with you. In Jesus name. Amen.

Open Hearted

Our hearts, according to Proverbs, are where the source of life (from God) springs forth. Out of our hearts is where our purpose flows, our momentum, our hope. Because of this, the bible says that our hearts should be guarded - "above all else" (Prov 4:23). A heart that is free, and flowing with righteousness - an "upright heart" is what God finds pleasing to God - and what leads to the most fulfilling life.

Life can sometimes bring unexpected and harsh moments to our tender hearts. Disappointment, loss, set-backs. All of these can wound our hearts, and a wounded heart needs care. Allowing God to heal our hearts is the first step.

The second thing to remember, is that a strong heart is an open heart. A heart that is open to people, filled with hope, and brimming with the goodness of God. How is your heart today? Is it downcast and downtrodden? Is it wounded? Or maybe your heart is simply offline, and unavailable for what God wants to do. Whatever it is, it's important to open your heart to what God has, to open heart to God's healing, and to believe that if your heart is open to God, and to his will, he will guide it into the most bountiful places.

Only in Quiet

Solitude seems outdated.

Quiet seems out of reach for most of us. In a world of push notifications, news feeds, media buzz and holiday hurry, it's difficult to imagine slowing down. When we think solitude, or quiet, or "alone" with God we think monks, priests, or sages living in secluded mountain retreats - spending hours in prayer. Maybe that's why its so hard to imagine solitude for us. It's so far from our atmosphere, so out of reach in our reality.

But if we claim to follow Jesus, then we follow him into solitude. 

But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. 

Scripture says that Jesus would get alone, in the quiet, in the lonely, in the desolate - away from public eye - and pray. He did this, apparently - "often". 

The man who needed no other perfection seemed to need these times alone. The man who was diety and glory incarnate needed time with the Father, with the Spirit - ON THE REGULAR. 

I imagine this was the time where Jesus regained strength. I imagine this is where he heard the voice of his Father. It was comfort. Peace. Hope. Focus. If Jesus needed it, certainly we do too. For comfort. Peace. Hope. FOCUS. 

May you find your focus today in the solitude with Jesus.

Champion the Grace

One of my favorite books of all time is "What's So Amazing About Grace?" by Philip Yancey. It's a beautiful exploration of the greatness and AMAZEMENT of grace. Yancey calls grace the "last great word."

Grace. The last great word.

My heart has been on a journey this year. A pilgrimage, really. As I have pressed into Jesus during this season, and without going into loads of detail, Jesus has redisplayed one word to me: "grace". Grace is the unwarranted, undeserved favor. Being placed as a prince when you were born a pauper. Being given a kingdom when you deserve condemnation. Being given a right to inheritance, when you deserve death without rights. GRACE. Grace makes the unlovely lovable, makes the unlikable parts likable, the rough parts round, the weak parts strong.

It's the one thing the world can't touch - the world - steeped in covetousness and vindictiveness, where people only get what they deserve, where punishment is swift, where seeing light in dark is impossible - because there is no Christ. And where there is no Jesus - there is no grace. The world is thirsty for God, and his grace - (which are one and the same). It needs forgiveness, kindness, gentleness, charity. It needs grace - now maybe more than ever.

As Christians (little Christs), we bear what our Pioneer bestowed us. Grace. Grace to the underserving, grace to the weak, grace to the hopeless. We get to be the salve to gracelessness, the answer to religiousness, the hope to the condemned. 

Today may you BE GRACE to the world. Forgive the rude cashier. Give grace to the tired super market mother. Give money to the homeless man, regardless of your thoughts about him. Give time to a lost driver. Give kindness. Give laughter. Give grace.

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace. - 1 Peter 4:10

Favor and Favorites

I have often felt as though I am the Lord's favorite child.

Arrogant, I know.

But in my defense, I have loads of friends that would say the same. My friend Doug, who teaches with me at Red Rocks Young Adults, has told me he feels he is God's favorite. (I laugh internally at this we all know who God's favorite is, I think but you go ahead and be delusional.) My pastor and mentor Chad Bruegman gave an entire staff chapel at one point about believing he is the favorite child, and that believing so is the key to the heart of God.

He's not wrong.

Grace, after all is unmerited and undeserved FAVOR. To be found favorable for no other reason than the Son of God having grace on your fallen heart on Calvary. To be found honorable, likable, lovable, favored. To be a FAVORITE.

This feeling of being the favorite child, it's scripturally bound to the idea that God loves each of us individually, uniquely. As Lisa Bevere said, "God does not love his children equally, he loves them uniquely." Praise God for that. This means that God loves you intimately, knowing your personal favorite ways to be loved. He knows the language to use with you - if you are better with tough talk or tender tones, he knows how to please you, he knows how to minister to your heart. Because you are his FAVORITE. 

May you feel God's overwhelming and deeply personal FAVOR on you today. May you take a moment to recognize his eyes are completely capable of "only having eyes for you". He's God, after all. Omnipotent, almighty and full of enough Godness to love each of us as "favorite" children.

Favor on you, friend.

Generosity = Longevity

As I write this I have been in full-time ministry for over 8 years. Before that, I felt the "call" 6 years earlier. So in total, I have been journeying with God from invitation to activation for 14 years. While this is a drop in the bucket to many folks I know, it has been a long journey. I have grown up, but not grown cold, I have been burned, but not burned out. When pursuing your call there are moments of severe doubt, set-backs that are anything but gentle, moments of sobriety where you realize the next season will require more of you, not less, and that growth is more painful as the years go on, not less.

Once you receive platforms, and recognition, the boat only becomes more rocky. True friendships, where I believe ministry rides or dies, are harder to come by. Those fast few you find you grip with both hands because Christianity is hardly Christianity without dear people to share it with. They are the ones who believe in you in darker times, celebrate you freely in the brightest of spotlights, and walk. with. you. There are others who are simply there for what you offer - a stepping stone or a coattail. Whatever that may be. The joy of calling is deep. But so is the sorrow.

There have been things that have defined my calling, and my commitment to it over the years. One of the deepest, is the idea of a generous life. Gordon MacDonald writes:  "Generosity, you see, is the authenticating symbol of resilience, and it is the antithesis of a life trapped in materialism, self-centeredness and an obsession with pleasure." In other words - generosity is having the mind of the kingdom - how can I give away? In a world that has the mind of darkness - how can I take more for me?

For Jon and I, this has taken place in our finances. Nothing has bless our lives more than attempting to rule ourselves by giving our finances freely. We enjoy praying about our tithe and hearing from God about the amount to increase it. We enjoy having a giving fund to bless others. We enjoy (even though at first we are frightened) the times where we sacrifice and give what seems too much. In fact, as I write this it comes to my mind that we haven't had a discussion about sacrificial giving in a while - and - I think that means we are due.

But generosity also embodies how we view our lives our family and ourselves. For us, years ago we decided ministry was a family affair - for better or worse we were all in - altogether - for the entire ride. This meant sometimes sacrificing time as a family to serve other people, finding ways to serve as a family at church, etc. But it also means a deep intentionality. To never view my life or our lives as our own, but to join Jesus in his CAUSE and in his FIGHT. To care for the things he does, and lose ourselves generously along the way.

While I am far from the Saints that have gone before me, I realize that generosity is the way to longevity. It is the only way to run your race with endurance, because as MacDonald writes - is authenticating. I can run forever because I'm running for what matters. What is true. Generosity and living generously is the way to give and have joy, live fully in every season, be fully awake in each moment. In the effort of giving yourself to Jesus' cause and glory, you find that you are running quicker, happier, truer. The goal for me (and maybe you) is this: to pursue our call until the length of our days are done, and be able to say as Paul of Tarsus did:

"This is the only race worth running. I’ve run hard right to the finish, believed all the way. All that’s left now is the shouting—God’s applause! Depend on it, he’s an honest judge. He’ll do right not only by me, but by everyone eager for his coming." 2 Timothy 4:7-8 The Message

 

 

The Struggle is Real. But so is Jesus.

The day after Thanksgiving I sat with my Nana in her room on a warmer than normal November day.  Our family knew that week that my Nana's body was beginning to let go, and to show signs that the end was near. I sat with my sweet, poised and intelligent Nana, speaking to her, telling her stories, reading the book of John. It was deeply sorrowful, but also peaceful in her room. I sat, and I thought of eternity.

In my view there are two things that humans universally struggle with: ONE: their own finite being, and TWO: their validation and significance in life. We struggle with death. And we struggle with love.

Death is something 21st century Americans try to avoid. We feign youth - warding off wrinkles with cremes, putting in hours at the gym, eating our way into immortality with the latest fad. We idolize the young and ignore the elderly. We rarely talk about what comes after death. We pretend to be immune. We struggle with dying.

We struggle with love.

Our world distorts love. Love in society comes at a cost, and is easily lost. Love is earned here: if you are attractive enough, talented enough, savvy enough. Love is equated with tolerance. Love is a slogan for political campaigns. Love is a bumper sticker that declares devotion to a ski slope, a burger, a dog, a taco joint. Our hearts, whether consciously or not shudder under the lack of REAL LOVE. We want it. We own it not.

According to scripture, we struggle with these two experiences, because they were the catastrophic consequences of the fall. In one ill-fated moment, a decision was made, an apple was eaten, and the world fractured. The significance we felt in the presence of God was replaced with insecurity and shame. The immortality we experienced with our Creator was stolen, and in its place came mortality. 

If you are disturbed by the world today. If you are haunted by the thought of people dying, of your own mortality, of the lack of gentleness and love in the world... It's not just the media, terrorism or politics that are the cause. It's Genesis and the fall.

It destroyed perfect unionized love. It killed off security. It brought forth death.

As I sat in my Nana's room, the weight of the fall pushed on my chest. Her body giving way. Her breath slowing. I loathe death, I thought. And I cried. It was in those moment, though, that I realized ben more that Jesus is our only hope. He is the only chance we have to satisfy our struggle. Our struggle with death is satisfied in his resurrection. Our struggle with love is quenched in his acceptance and adoption of us. Our mortality is exchanged for immortality in Christ. The grave lost it's power. Death lost it's sting. Shame was met with unfettered grace and care.

There is a song by Hillsong United that years ago was my favorite, and has made it's way into my playlists again. Where the Love Lasts Forever sings these lines with adoration: 

I throw my life upon all that you are
Because I know you gave it all for me,
When all else fades my soul will dance with you,
Where the love lasts forever

If your struggle today is with humanity, hate, death or despair: Take Heart. There is a savior who offers you relief for all that burdens you today. His heaven is more real than we know. Our eternity is secure, if only we would call on him. His offer of love and life the only offer you will ever need. The struggle is real. But so is Jesus.