Are you perfect?

I always had a problem when I heard the scripture Matthew 5:48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.  I say problem, it’s more like an “OMG” reaction of “How in the world would I be able to be perfect?”  Then I read in the notes of my Dake Bible where he described the word ‘perfect’ as ‘mature’… MATURE?? What does that mean exactly?  I looked in the Merriam-Webster to find a definition and there were five! The first one said “based on slow careful consideration <a mature judgment” , ok I’m already in the hole because slow and careful are not usually in my vocabulary! I go headlong into situations and then think, or my mouth says something before my brain has processed it! That doesn’t sound very mature of me does it? I think that to be mature is to be able to handle a situation with tact and consideration for another person’s feelings. I have always tried to do that, and it has gotten me in trouble because I have not found a way to speak my mind in some cases, without being blunt, but I digress, back to being perfect, or mature. I looked up Matthew 5:48 in the Message translation,  “In a word, what I’m saying is, grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.”  Now that I can live with, in other words (and Jesus had already said it) “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”.

Mine is a three-generation household with a wide range of age, if we didn’t “do unto others” in our home there would be mayhem at all times! I have watched the relationships between my children, them with their spouses, and my grandchildren in the relationship they have with each other and their friends and I honestly see a lot of genuine maturity in them, does that mean we are perfect? I laugh to think of it, but it is something to strive for isn’t it?

You want to be perfect? Then grow UP!

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3-26-1924 Whose birthday is that?

DSCI0278On March 26 1924, sixteen year-old Addie Mae Tomberlin Paulk gave birth to a nine-pound baby girl. I have often heard the story of how she looked at her husband, nineteen year-oldEarl Pearly Paulk, and said, “What in the world are we going to do with her? I am afraid we will never be able to raise her,” and then put her face in her little hands and cried because baby Myrtle was born hungry and Addie Mae was at a loss as to how to feed her. When mother was young she would tell it while laughing and say, “I am still hungry”. In later years she would tell it and cry for her Mama, who had gone on to be in heaven. In thinking about how to honor her on her birthday I remembered writing this article the last Mother’s Day she was alive and compared her to what she really was, A Tower. So I am re-posting this and saying Happy Birthday to you Mother, have a wonderful party in heaven!

I typed the word “Tower” into my Google search and more than twenty-one pages of pictures came up! There were towers of every description, the Mile High Tower, the Eiffel Tower and an old landmark, the Leaning Tower of Pisa along with towers carved by nature’s deft hand, such as the Devil’s Tower, towers from all over the world! The description says, “Towers are tall structures almost always taller than they are wide (almost always?).” There are radio and TV signal towers, cell phone towers. There are smaller tower type structures called “Lighthouses”, getting closer now.

The one type of tower I didn’t see mentioned was a tower that, in most of our lives, are towers of light, strength and an unchangeable love, it is the tower of hope, encouragement and help that is our Mother. My mother has been the source of all the above-mentioned elements in the lives of my siblings and me and most of all she was all those things to my dad. There have been times when I saw daddy, back bent from working all day physically building our church, come in so tired he could hardly put one foot in front of the other. A few moments of mother hovering over him and admiring how hard he had worked then placing a big plate of food in front of him and he was a new man. She is fiercely loyal to the ones she loves never wanting to believe anything bad about them. For awhile when some family members made the national news, she firmly denounced the stories saying that she had been told they weren’t true, so that meant they were all just lies perpetrated by jealous people. When, down the road, the reality hit her that there was truth in them, she nearly broke under the grief of it all. But she is resilient and was always able to pop up back like the clown we had as children that you could knock all the way to the floor and it would spring back up smiling!

Moving from church to church, visiting the sick, cleaning church toilets and helping cook dinners to raise money, she has done it all. Without her, life for our family would have been a lot more difficult. God used woman to bring us His own Son in the flesh. In Judges we read about Deborah, a woman who actually judged Israel and without whom Barak refused to go into battle! Women are the “kingpin” (the most important person in a group or place) in a lot of our social endeavors, and for all the good we do, without guidance from the Holy Spirit we are nothing.

If you are able to have a conversation with your own mother today tell her you love and appreciate her, I tell mine every night and I know she hears me in heaven!

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Let your little light shine!

You can do something you know you’re going to regret, but you do it anyway… then comes the guilt, that awful feeling in the pit of your stomach, wishing you could hit the re-wind button and fix it, but knowing that is impossible… then what? Your light goes out, maybe not completely out, yet, but dims a little. John 1:3-5 Everything was created through him; nothing—not one thing!—came into being without him. What came into existence was Life, and the Life was Light to live by. The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness; the darkness couldn’t put it out. Jesus came into the world and he was the Light. Before I say anything more, one more scripture, Matthew 5:14-16 Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven. Every now and then there is a phenomenon in the sky called an eclipse. That is when the moon passes between the earth and the sun, completely blocking our light. Even chickens will begin to roost, thinking it is nighttime! When we let the ‘cares of this life’ come between us and the Son shine, our light goes out! I was watching the light play, reflect, and change colors in the diamonds on my hand, the light playing off those diamonds was brilliant and I was enjoying the little fireworks display, the elevator door opened and I stepped out into the dark garage still looking at my rings and suddenly without light there was no sparkle, fireworks all gone, why? The light had gone out, they are only reflectors of light, there is no light within them, they cannot shine without being shined ON, therefore, the diamonds were no longer beautiful, they could have been simple pieces of glass.

Reflector: a body, surface, or device that reflects light, heat, sound, or the like. If Jesus is the ‘light of the world’, then He shines on us. As Christians then, shouldn’t we act as reflectors of that light so that the light is then shined on others around us? Whenever you let anything come between you and the “Light”, yours automatically goes out, and you are no different than a piece of carbon lying within the walls of a cave, undiscovered to be the diamond that you really are. In the NKJV Matthew 5:16 says Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. 

This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine! 

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What’s on your mind?

For a little while tonight the year was about 1963, the radio playing on my little portable radio, the DJ would be Tony “the Tiger” Taylor, or Patrick Hughes. The song that popped out of nowhere in my head tonight was “Saturday night and it’s eight o’clock, I know where I’m gonna go, I’m gonna pick my baby up and take her to the picture show”, sung by the Drifters. Then my mind skipped to ’65, played, “When I fall in love, it will be forever” the Lettermen! Who knows why something comes, seemingly, out of nowhere into your conscious mind? It is said that men think about sex every seven seconds, although Psychology Today says that may be a tad over stated, still makes you wonder. From what I see on the social media pages, most women think about shoes, how they are being treated in a relationship, or posing for pictures with pooched out lips, called the “duck face”, is that supposed to be sexy? It is important what we think about because you gravitate toward what you are pondering! A person never went out and robbed a bank on the spur of the moment, did they? Young people dream about what they want to do with their life before making the decision on a course of studies, and according to Percy Sledge, “When a man loves a woman, he can’t keep his mind on anything else”! When I let myself think about personal issues too much, I just get plain depressed! We want to live, yet when we look in the mirror and see a little age showing on our face, we are sorry we are so old! We can create whole a scenario about something, even giving it details so real we know it must have happened the way we have imagined it, then find ourselves making terrible judgments, I have been there, I have done that! Proverbs 23:7 (first part) says “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he ” When you see someone, who has always been so sharp, begin to slip in their thinking, see their memory get chunks missing, it is a very sad thing. Malcolm X  said ,”A mind is a terrible thing to waste”,  and it was adopted as a slogan for the UNCF, but I think it applies to all people everywhere, whether the mind is wasted because of lack of education, abuse of drugs or alcohol, or being ravaged by Alzheimers disease, it is a shame to see it go to waste. When your mind is left idle it gets stale, nothing in nothing out, kind of like the Dead Sea, which is dead because there are no inlets or outlet, or you let it wander to places better left unvisited. Romans 12:2  And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. The Apostle Paul advised the Ephesians 4:22-23 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. The way to keep your mind fresh is found in Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. Finally, Jeremiah 17:9-10 The heart is hopelessly dark and deceitful, a puzzle that no one can figure out. But I, God, search the heart and examine the mind. I get to the heart of the human. I get to the root of things. I treat them as they really are, not as they pretend to be.” Keep your mind renewed and remember that what you think begins to show in your actions, so think about love!

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I’m not the Judge of you

This morning I watched a preacher as he preached his heart out on TV, slowly the camera pulled back and as the audience was panned I was shocked to see how few people there were in the building to hear him. There was a time you couldn’t get near the campus of that church, and to get him to come to your local church? Impossible. I think what large congregations used to clamor for seats up front, and how prestigious speakers and singers wanted to be on that stage. As I thought about it, an old song crossed my mind, a verse says: “Tears and fears and feeling proud to say “I love you” right out loud, Dreams and schemes and circus crowds, I’ve looked at life that way. But now old friends are acting strange, they shake their heads; they say I’ve changed. Something’s lost but something’s gained in living every day. I’ve looked at life from both sides now, from win and lose, and still somehow it’s life’s illusions I recall. I really don’t know life at all.” I let myself be fully submerged in the feeling that song brings, a sadness at lost hope, love, illusions and felt sorry that we, as humans, try so hard to make it big, then go about doing things that bring us down, guess you could just call it even, right back where we started from. We live our lives and sometimes we begin to believe our own PR and that’s where the trouble starts. Business tycoon do it every day as money becomes more important to them than the trust people have put in them trusting them with their life savings. A preacher gets disgraced, a tycoon gets put in jail, and aren’t they both in a prison of their own making? Do I look at anyone with scorn? No. Pity? Not that either. It is with sadness and a wish that I could help make a difference somehow, and the desire to examine my own heart for things that would bring me down. The Psalmist David said Psalm 139:1) O Lord; You have searched me and known me. Then down in 23) Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: Then David does the very thing he needed most to do, he gave God permission, 24) And see if there is any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting. One of the hardest things for us as independent humans to do is give permission to anyone to search us and change us into the way they think we should be! Men and women try it all the time, on each other, it doesn’t work well there either. If you truly look at yourself the way others see you, you might be surprised that you are not the stellar citizen you think you are. 1Corinthians 11:31 For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. When someone has wronged me, all I need is for him/her to admit they did it, not make excuses, and then say two simple words, “I’m Sorry”. All is forgiven and forgotten, for real. 1John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Luke 6:41-42 “It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this I-know-better-than-you mentality again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your own part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor. I’ve looked at life from both sides now, win or lose, still somehow, Jesus breaks every fetter and He sets us free!

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Prop up my leaning side

This is for you, you know who you are !

March 3, 1989 Bill Withers released a song that I loved to listen to and we sang it quite often too, the song was, “Lean on Me”. Sometimes in our lives we all have pain, We all have sorrow, But if we are wise We know that there’s always tomorrow. Lean on me, when you’re not strong And I’ll be your friend I’ll help you carry on For it won’t be long till I’m gonna need somebody to lean on. We know that to the Christian the “friend” we can lean on is Jesus, and we sing, “What a friend we have in Jesus”.

We all need someone to lean on at times, someone to help us through a tough time and since there are times when a person is hurting they cannot “feel” Jesus and don’t have the faith to know He is there whether or not you can feel Him. We need to become someone strong so those people can lean on us, while we lean on Him.

I read something about “leaning” and I want to share it with you, I don’t know who to give credit for writing it but I love it and appreciate whoever it was, it makes a great point: There was an old deacon who always prayed ‘Lord, prop us up on our leanin’ side. After hearing him pray that prayer many times, someone asked him why he prayed that prayer so fervently. He answered, ‘Well sir, you see, it’s like this, I got an old barn out back. It’s been there a long time; it’s withstood a lot of weather; it’s gone through a lot of storms, and it’s stood for many years. It’s still standing. But one day I noticed it was leaning to one side a bit. So I went and got some pine poles and propped it up on its leaning side so it wouldn’t fall. Then I got to thinking about that and how much I was like that old barn. I’ve been around a long time. I’ve withstood a lot of life’s storms. I’ve withstood a lot of bad weather in life, I’ve withstood a lot of hard times, and I’m still standing too. But I find myself leaning to one side from time to time, so I like to ask the Lord to prop us up on our leaning side, ’cause I figure a lot of us get to leaning at times. Sometimes we get to leaning toward anger, leaning toward bitterness, leaning toward hatred, leaning toward cussing, leaning toward a lot of things that we shouldn’t. So we need to pray, ‘Lord, prop us up on our leaning side, so we will stand straight and tall again, to glorify the Lord.”

When you read and follow Jesus’ life in the New Testament, you find that in His hour of need His disciples all ran away and God turned His back on the sin Jesus was bearing for us, and in that hour He was totally alone. I am so glad that He did that for me, oh how He loves you and me!

Are you helping anyone to “prop up their leaning side?”

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Nobody can make you do anything !

No one can make you do anything you don’t want to do! You were born with a will and when you bend that will to the desire of others it is because you have chosen to do it. Were you pressured? Emotionally blackmailed? Whatever the reason was that you gave in, you made the choice to do it, are we straight on that? When God created Adam and Eve it was to have their companionship, to be able to come down in the cool of the evening and walk and talk with them. I have often wondered what they discussed, was it concerning what the created duo had done that day in the garden or do you imagine that God included them in talk of the angelic beings, if He described to them the fall of Lucifer when one-third of the angels rebelled with him. I wonder if God anticipated them choosing to eat the fruit from the tree instead of choosing a relationship with Him?

God didn’t create us as puppets so that a string could be pulled and we would fall down and worship Him, or pull another string and we become loving people who care about each other, no He gave us a free will to do whatever we want to do.

When the children of Israel were in the desert going around the same mountain for forty years Joshua gave them a little talking to, he told them to make a choice! Joshua 24:15  If you decide that it’s a bad thing to worship God, then choose a god you’d rather serve—and do it today. Choose one of the gods your ancestors worshiped from the country beyond The River, or one of the gods of the Amorites, on whose land you’re now living. As for me and my family, we’ll worship God.”  He made his choice for God and emphatically told them about it!

Just a thought here, I am wondering why in the world they would have to even think about choosing whether to serve a god they had hand-made from the jewelry they had taken from their own ears and from around their neck and wrists, or the God that had brought them out of slavery in Egypt! I mean to me that was a no-brainer! But my point is that they did have a choice whether I think they were stupid or not!

The ones that chose to serve God went on to finally end up in their Promised Land.

If you have been walking toward your own Promised Land and it feels like you’re walking around the same mountain in the desert, don’t give up by choosing another god. The choice is yours, no one can make your mind up for you and God won’t make you do anything!

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Mule, Donkey, which one?

When the announcements were given today I realized that Palm Sunday is right around the corner and it made me think about how we celebrate Jesus riding into Jerusalem on the colt of an ass, a donkey! In the spirit of that, the phrase “a mule in horses clothing” came to my mind. It is something that Mammy said to Scarlett in GWTW. It was her opinion of the way Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler were acting. Her way of saying they were “putting on airs“. I gave some thought to that, then Googled “mule”. I found that a mule is not such a bad thing to be. They are “more patient, sure-footed, hardy and long-lived than horses, and they are considered less obstinate, faster, and more intelligent than donkeys.” Mules can carry more than 30% of their own weight, and go far distances without having to eat. Mules don’t receive medals and ribbons for their sleek, shiny bodies, or for their ability to jump high hurdles. They will never wear the wreath of roses at the Kentucky Derby, but if you need a reliable animal, one that can carry the burden, you call on the mule.

I looked to see if the mule was mentioned in the Bible, I was sure I would find some reference, possibly in the Proverbs, but no, nothing. What I did find was the reference of the lowly donkey. This wonderful, dependable mule is the offspring of a male donkey, called an ass, or Jack (thus Jackass), and a female donkey, a Jenny. Their offspring, less than a year old, if a male, is a colt and the female is a filly. In Numbers 22:22-25 But God was angry that Balaam was going, so he sent the angel of the LORD Balaam’s donkey saw the angel of the LORD standing in the road with a drawn sword in his hand. The donkey bolted off the road into a field, but Balaam beat it and turned it back onto the road. Then the angel of the LORD stood at a place where the road narrowed between two vineyard walls. When the donkey saw the angel of the LORD, it tried to squeeze by and crushed Balaam’s foot against the wall. So Balaam beat the donkey again. Then the LORD gave the donkey the ability to speak. “What have I done to you that deserves your beating me three times?” it asked Balaam.“ You have made me look like a fool!” Balaam shouted. “If I had a sword with me, I would kill you!” “But I am the same donkey you have ridden all your life,” the donkey answered. “Have I ever done anything like this before?” “No,” Balaam admitted. Then the LORD opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the angel of the LORD standing in the roadway with a drawn sword in his hand. Balaam bowed his head and fell face down on the ground before him. This donkey was smart enough to see the Lord’s angel when his master was not. Then Matthew, Mark and Luke all recorded the story of Jesus asking the disciples to find the ass standing with a colt, He asked them to bring them to Him, they did, they put their clothes on his back and Jesus rode into Jerusalem to waving palm branches! This fulfilled the prophecy given in Zechariah chapter 9!

You  might want to know, “What’s the significance?” Next time you’re called a jackass, take it as a compliment! You come from good, strong stock, and your ancestor lent his back to our Lord! What could be a better heritage than that? To be worthy to carry Jesus, so blessings to all us donkeys!

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Was it a Revelation?

I was praying about a situation this past week and as I was praying I realized that sometimes the answers to our prayers come disguised as problems. At first I thought it was a great revelation when suddenly the light bulb lit up over my head and I remembered all the Bible stories that actually prove that point!

The first one that comes to mind is well known to us, I use it often myself, the story of Joseph the Dreamer. He was the son of Jacob and Rachel and his brothers were already jealous of him because he was the favorite child of their dad, so when he started telling them his dreams of grandeur they devised a plan to rid themselves of this pest. Long story short they sold him into slavery! Now that doesn’t sound like a plan to me, to go from a home where you were your dad’s favorite child to being sold as a slave and put into chains! However the end of the story we see Joseph saving the lives of his family, traitorous brothers and all by supplying them with food in the time of famine.

Then I thought about Esther, just a small town Jewish girl who happened to be very beautiful. She was also taken into the slavery of being groomed to be concubine to the King without any hope of having anything beyond one night with him knowing she would never have a normal life with a husband and children. The end of that story is that the King was captivated by her beauty, took her as his wife and the Queen of his nation and listened to her when she asked mercy for her people that averted the plan of Haman to have them slaughtered.

Bringing it a little closer home I often heard my mother tell of how when her sister was a little girl she had a large growth on her mouth that was causing it to become disfigured. Her dad had prayed and prayed for it but it didn’t go away and they were gong to have to get an operation to have it removed, not knowing how her mouth would look after it was done or what kind of scar she would have. They went out to visit a family in rural South Georgia and while the adults were in the house praying the children were playing tag, mother’s little sister was running and fell over some trash where a tin can had been partially opened leaving the lid standing up where it had rusted and this was what she had fallen on and it cut her mouth and the growth wide open. When the adults ran out to see what had happened she was a bloody mess! Mother said she thought it was terrible how even though they had prayed for her healing that God had let her fall on that rusted can and cut her mouth wide open, she was sure her little sister would get infected and have to go to the hospital and that it would leave a terrible scar! Bottom line, the cut healed, the growth was gone and it healed perfectly leaving no visible scar at all!

When I was a little girl I thought mother was being mean to me because I couldn’t have all the candy I wanted and I had to go to bed earlier than all my friends, but as an adult I know it is why my teeth grew in with no cavities and oh how I would love for someone to put me to bed early now! God is a good and loving parent to us and there are times He does thing we might not understand but He always has our best interest at heart!

If you are praying for an answer and it seems as your prayer is hitting a brass ceiling and falling back into your lap and everything seems to get worse, just hold on a minute God has your answer it just might look a little different than you thought it would.

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How long would you wait?

How long would you be willing to wait for something you really want? This past week I passed by a small hole in the wall restaurant and there were people standing outside and lined up all the way to the street waiting to get in! I bet it was a two-hour wait, but they were willing to wait because the food in that place was worth the wait! When you get pregnant the baby develops and you wait for nine and a half months for it to be born, and then you suffer a lot of pain to get it here, but you wait! We wait to find the perfect mate, you wait years to get the best education, hours to get the particular hair stylist you want, but somehow when it comes to waiting on God, we are so ready to give up, just quit! I know a person that has been a person of faith for many years and God has been faithful to this person in so many ways, but because they are facing a trial that is difficult, they have begun doubting God!

1 Kings 18:21 Elijah challenged the people: “How long are you going to sit on the fence? If God is the real God, follow him; if it’s Baal follow him. Make up your minds!” You don’t want to live with a person who can’t make up their mind whether they love you, or someone else, do you?

Revelation 3:15-17 “I know you inside and out, and find little to my liking. You’re not cold, you’re not hot—far better to be either cold or hot! You’re stale. You’re stagnant. You make me want to vomit. You brag, ‘I’m rich, I’ve got it made, I need nothing from anyone,’ oblivious that in fact you’re a pitiful, blind beggar, threadbare and homeless. God was speaking to the church of Laodicea. He wanted them to make up their mind to serve Him alone, and then He pleads with them in verses 20-22 “Look at me. I stand at the door. I knock. If you hear me call and open the door, I’ll come right in and sit down to supper with you. Conquerors will sit alongside me at the head table, just as I, having conquered, took the place of honor at the side of my Father. That’s my gift to the conquerors! “Are your ears awake? Listen. Listen to the Wind Words, the Spirit blowing through the churches.” When you need something from God, ask Him and then wait!

Luke 18:1-10 Jesus told them a story showing that it was necessary for them to pray consistently and never quit. He said, “There was once a judge in some city who never gave God a thought and cared nothing for people. A widow in that city kept after him: ‘My rights are being violated. Protect me!’ “He never gave her the time of day. But after this went on and on he said to himself, ‘I care nothing what God thinks, even less what people think. But because this widow won’t quit badgering me, I’d better do something and see that she gets justice—otherwise I’m going to end up beaten black-and-blue by her pounding.’ “Then the Master said, “Do you hear what that judge, corrupt as he is, is saying? So what makes you think God won’t step in and work justice for his chosen people, who continue to cry out for help? Won’t he stick up for them? I assure you, he will. He will not drag his feet. But how much of that kind of persistent faith will the Son of Man find on the earth when he returns?”

That last phrase brings me back to thinking about the person who God has helped immeasurably, but have decided it just wasn’t enough.

Isaiah 41:30 “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; they shall walk, and not faint.”

Wait!

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