Best Picture

Poor Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty. If you haven’t heard, Ms. Dunaway called the wrong name for the Academy Award for Best Picture at the Oscars, Sunday night. No one knows how it happened. Was it PricewaterhouseCooper’s fault; was it Faye Dunaway; was it Warren Beatty? He was totally confused, but handed her the envelope anyway. He knew something was awry. Emma Stone said she was holding the card that read “Best Actress”. I wonder if she knows there are TWO SETS of envelopes? Anyway, Jimmy Kimmel blamed Steve Harvey, bless his heart. Unless you’ve been under a rock, you know he announced the wrong name for Miss Universe last year.

There is only ONE Book of Life. No chance of Him missing it, or calling the same name twice, and leaving you out. One thing is for sure, and with absolute certainty: God said, “See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands.” (Isaiah 49:16)

God will NOT call the wrong name. He’s going to get it right the first time, every time. Isn’t it an amazing, glorious thing to realize God has our name engraved on His hand? He really sees us, cares about us, and knows us by name!

In the end “Best Picture” goes to A Place Called Heaven, written, produced, and directed by God. He also has the lead role, as The Almighty, and the Lamb. Heaven is described in the book of Revelation:

11 It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. 12 It had a great, high wall with twelve gates, and with twelve angels at the gates. On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. 13 There were three gates on the east, three on the north, three on the south and three on the west. 14 The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

15 The angel who talked with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city, its gates and its walls. 16 The city was laid out like a square, as long as it was wide. He measured the city with the rod and found it to be 12,000 stadia in length, and as wide and high as it is long. 17 The angel measured the wall using human measurement, and it was 144 cubits thick. 18 The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass. 19 The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, 20 the fifth onyx, the sixth ruby, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth turquoise, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst. 21 The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of gold, as pure as transparent glass.

22 I did not see a temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. 23 The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. 24 The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. 25 and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. 26 The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. 27 Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

Personally, I love turquoise and amethyst. I’m pretty fond of gold, and pearls too, but I think they will all pale in comparison to the Glory of God.

He gets it right the first time, every time.

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Great is Thy Faithfulness

I drafted this a few weeks ago, and didn’t publish. Yesterday, our pastor dissected Lamentations 3:22-23. And then again this morning, I received a note from a fellow-worker with this verse. I call it perfect timing.

It’s been on my mind the last couple of days. Great is Thy Faithfulness, the hymn. I’m so relieved that He is. I get to wake up every morning to His new mercies. Just think, with each new day, God gives us opportunities to prove His faithfulness.

Great Is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father!
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Though changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.

Great Is Thy faithfulness,
Great Is Thy faithfulness,
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy Faithfulness, Lord unto me!

When we are faithless, He remains faithful. I think He’s trying to remind me that people will let us down. Your husband, wife, sister, friend, or brother might disappoint you, but He never will! The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. (Deuteronomy 31:8)

My friends, I will let you down, every person on the face of the earth will disappoint you at some point or another, but God does not change His mind, He does not change His promises, He is constant, and can be wholly counted on. 

I was disappointed recently. I did a favor, and expected a kindness in return. It didn’t happen. My lesson: Be kind anyway. I shouldn’t expect anything in return when I do something nice; I should do it just to be NICE. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. (Hebrews 13:16)

Believe me, I speak from experience, it hurts when people let you down. It’s inevitable; it’s going to happen. It’s a fact of life. But it’s incredible to realize that Jesus will never let you down. It’s encouraging to realize that it’s impossible for Jesus to be anything less than you think He is. Put all your strength, all your hope, and all your life into Him.

The Red Carpet

Oh, she looked so pretty in that pink dress, and he was incredibly dapper-looking in his tuxedo, but she looked hideous in that striped number, and he was a little under-dressed for the red carpet. And excuse me, they just took off their pants! When you think of the red carpet you immediately think of celebrities, but God has rolled out the red carpet for believers throughout history. We read about it from Genesis all the way to Revelation.

Genesis 3:21 ~ God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. From the very beginning of humankind, it is there. When Adam and Eve sinned, God shed innocent blood to make them clothes. He rolled out the red carpet. This is a picture of us being made righteous when Jesus died for us.

In Genesis 4 we read about Cain and Abel. They wanted to worship God, so Cain offers up fruits and vegetables, but Abel has already figured out that God requires blood, so Abel brought a lamb. God accepted Abel’s sacrifice, but not Cain’s. Why? Because without blood (rolling out the red carpet) there is no remission of sin (Hebrews 9:22).

Genesis 22 ~ God tells Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac. Just before Abraham starts to kill Isaac, God provides a ram. Isaac was set free, but an innocent animal’s blood was shed. God rolled out the red carpet.

Exodus 12:13 ~ God wants to deliver his people from bondage. On the night of Passover He told the people to kill a lamb, and put the blood on their doorposts.  “When I see the blood, I will pass over you.” Red carpet.

And don’t forget Rahab, and the red rope in the window. Joshua 2

And finally, Jesus died on the cross to save us from our sins. His death was prophecy fulfilled, and promises carried out. He was slain for all of creation. You and me. Red carpet.

Take-aways from the red carpet:  The POWER of the redemptive blood of Christ, reconciliation through the blood, and the relationship we have with Jesus, through the blood.

Now, walk that red carpet, take hold of the ultimate trophy, roll the red carpet out for someone this week, but please dress the part.

 

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Show Them Jesus

My dear friend, Stacey’s, son is missing. His name is Jabe Duncan. Jabe has spent the better part of the last year and a half in a teen challenge program to rehabilitate him from the use of drugs. His parents sold everything they owned, and worked several jobs to get him into this  program. He graduated this past December, and was currently still seeing a therapist. He disappeared today from school around 10:30. School, the place you think your child is out of danger, and unable to sneak away, or be taken.  If you know anything of his whereabouts, please contact someone.  I have encouraged mom that he WILL come home, and to not give up.

Another dear friend lost her high school-aged son this past summer to drug use. He was popular, a great guy, a great athlete — made a wrong choice. After his death, teachers, law enforcement, churches, the community, almost everyone wanted to be involved with the “drug problem” that the youth in our community face every day. They see it at school, at home, on the street, almost everywhere they go.

I have an opinion, and I’ve shared it before. It wasn’t met with great response, but I still hold to that opinion.

People can rally together all they want to, and have as many forums as they want to, and educate kids all they want to, we’re still going to have a drug problem, and kids are going to participate if he/she thinks they will be “left out” if they don’t. Until law enforcement cracks down on the people that are providing drugs, we’re going to have a drug problem. As long as kids see their parents living like it’s okay to do whatever makes you feel good, we’re going to have a drug problem. As long as our city officials are saying, it’s okay to have an alcohol district, (who are you kidding? You can drink between these boundary lines, and at this time of day…give me a break), we’re going to have a drug problem. Kids think you’re lame because you drink alcohol in front of them; they want to do something different, bigger, and better. Something to get a stronger “buzz” than  what you might be getting. As long as our kids are watching people they consider mentors out whooping it up on the weekends, and back to business on Monday, we’re going have a drug problem. Until they decide to put God back in our schools and in the lives of our children (not just taking them to church, but showing them Jesus), we’re going to have a drug problem. It doesn’t take a village to raise our kids, it takes parents. The village idea is an old African Proverb that Hilary Clinton penned in her book. I prefer the other Book for instruction on how to raise a child. Good kids make bad choices. It’s not a village problem, or a parent problem. Until we get rid of the drugs, it’s going to be there, killing our kids. Show them Jesus. It’s not up to the schools, or city officials to fix it. It’s a drug problem. It’s a heart problem. It’s a sin problem. Show them Jesus.

Deuteronomy 6:7-9 ~ Write these commandments that I’ve given you today on your hearts. Get them inside of you and then get them inside your children. Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning to when you fall into bed at night. Tie them on your hands and foreheads as a reminder; inscribe them on the doorposts of your homes and on your city gates.

Update: Reported Wednesday evening February 8, Jabe has been found and is safe. We are thankful.

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“Get a Planner”, they said…

Someone requested I write about stress. Something I’m definitely no expert on, but I’ve had my fair share. Sometimes, to de-stress, I’ll slam a door, except this one door in my house that won’t close well, and well, it just won’t slam. I try to peel-out of the driveway, but I’m unsuccessful in that too. I never learned how; Coach Taber left that part out of Drivers Ed. I don’t stress-eat, Noah has already eaten all the good snacks. I bought myself a 2017 planner – first time ever. It has two entries. I take so many baths to relax, my skin stays wrinkled. I don’t workout or do yoga. I just  don’t.

My advice to those who have stress, is to get rid of the stressors. If someone in your life is causing great stress, quit hanging around with them. If you don’t have enough time in the day to finish everything you need to do, then you need to let something go.

I’ve found that if I place God first in my life, everything else seems to fall into place. It’s not always pretty, and it doesn’t fall perfectly, in my eyes, but I trust God’s plan for my life. I want a picture-perfect life and family, but oftentimes it looks a little more like this:

…everyone making frownie faces. Sometimes no matter how hard you try, you can’t make everyone happy. SO QUIT TRYING SO HARD. Focus on doing what God wants you to do, and you and everyone around you will be happier. Examine your life. Are you in love with The Lord, I mean really in love? It took me way too many years to figure out what that really means. Not an amorous love, but an agape kind of love. There’s a difference, look it up.

Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind.”  (Luke 10:27) That’s every part of you – your heart, your soul, your strength, and your mind. What’s left?

I’ll leave you with some of my favorite go-to verses of scripture when I feel stress moving in: Please read all the way to the very last one. It’s a slam dunk!

John 14:27 ~ Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

Proverbs 16:3 ~ Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.

Matthew 11:28-30 ~ Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Philippians 4:6-7 ~ Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Romans 8:28 ~ And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

1 Peter 5:7 ~ Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Romans 16:20 ~ The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

I really, really like that last one. Satan is a liar. Satan is a crafty liar because his lies sound so much like the truth. He wants to deceive you and destroy you and to stress you. He is not only the father of lies, but he lies about the most important subject – God.

We have no need to be afraid. I would never urge you to focus on the darkness, though it certainly exists. Instead, I want you to know the victory that we have in Christ…the truth that is ours.

So slam a door if you have to, or peel out of a parking lot       (watch for the police). Go to the Rock of our salvation before you do either of those, and I promise you will find more satisfaction.

Edit: Tony fixed the door, so I can slam it now 🙂 I’ve grown up a little, and I’ve stopped trying to squeal my tires. Those things can cost a two-week salary or more. Save that rubber

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Useful to the Master

Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work. ~ 2 Timothy 2:21

Billy Graham was returning to Charlotte after a speaking engagement, and when his plane arrived there was a limousine there to transport him to his home.
As he prepared to get into the limo, he stopped and spoke to the driver.
“You know” he said, “I am 87 years old and I have never driven a limousine. Would you mind if I drove it for a while?” The driver said, “No problem. Have at it.” Billy gets into the driver’s seat and they head off down the highway.
A short distance away sat a rookie State Trooper operating his first speed trap.
The long black limo went by him doing 70 in a 55 mph zone. The trooper pulled out and easily caught the limo and he got out of his patrol car to begin the procedure. The young trooper walked up to the driver’s door and when the glass was rolled down, he was surprised to see who was driving. He immediately excused himself and went back to his car and called his supervisor. The supervisor asked, “Is it the Governor?” The young trooper said, “No, he’s more important than that.” The supervisor said, “Oh, so it’s the President.” The young trooper said, “No, he’s even more important than that.” The supervisor finally asked, “Well then, who is it?” The young trooper said, “I think it’s Jesus, because he’s got Billy Graham for a chauffeur!”

I love that story. I’ve never verified the validity of it, but it sounds good to me.

If anyone has ever been useful to the Master, it has to be Billy Graham.

Let’s not be useless . If we let Jesus be our driver, we might find ourselves more useful than if we try to drive Him. Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. (Matthew 16:24) The Message Version reads like this: “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am

“Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am

Many times, when we become Christians, we give God the keys, and then immediately we jump in the passenger seat and start telling him where to go, where to stop, when to slow down and speed up, even sometimes to give us the wheel. We need to let God be God, and let Jesus be the driver of our lives.

Then and only then, will we find ourselves “useful to the Master”.

I must give props to BR from last night’s Bible Study, for this blog title inspiration.

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What Makes My Heart Beat

Noah and Tony

“Brylcreem, a little dab’ll do ya

Brylcreem, you look so debonair

Brylcreem, the girls will all pursue ya

They’ll wanna run their fingers through your hair”

If you don’t remember that jingle, you’re probably too young to be reading this.

Those two ↑, they’re my heart and soul. Handsome guys, that share the same passion for all things Auburn football, and basketball. They are so alike, while being so different, and they both love me unconditionally.

Below is one of my favorite pictures of my boy. He looks so debonair. And sweet Laurlyn will become a permanent member of the family this September; we’re very excited! She will graduate in May from the University of Mobile, where they met and fell in love. She’s beautiful, has an unfaltering love for God, and she is a crazy-talented dancer, and vocalist. She’s an aerial silk performer worthy of a Cirque du Soleil-type standing ovation.

Lala and Debonair

Jacob and Anna have been married for almost 4 years. Jacob has been a blessing to our family, and we can’t imagine a time before him. He loves his family, and works very hard to provide for them. He’s incredibly smart, so don’t try to stump him, especially if it’s math. He’s a Kentucky Wildcat/Auburn Tiger, if you can be both at the same time, and loves the Atlanta Braves. We are so thankful his mom and dad decided to start a family the same time we did.

We’re so proud of Jacob and Anna, and how they rock parenting in this crazy world.

Jacob and Anna
Noah sharing wisdom

Noah was my second born, and is most like me,     in that he can be a bit, let’s call it persuasive, at times.

He has a beautiful soul, and a heart for God and for people. He is strong, smart, and loving, and does everything with his eyes wide open. He sees no race, religion, or gender. He sees a person in need of God’s grace. He has taught the rest of us many things, despite being the youngest.

 

Mommy and Walker catching some ‘toons

I love this photo of Anna and Walker. Anna is the rhythm of my heart. When she was a baby, I worried about how I was going to teach my little girl to be strong, to stand up for herself and to believe in herself and her abilities. Then she started to develop her own personality, and I realized that those things weren’t going to be problems. My daughter is strong and smart; she is strong in ways I never have been. I’m no longer worried about someone stepping all over her — I’m more concerned about the one that tries it.

She loves the Lord, and has this amazing voice she uses for His glory.

I love having a daughter, but mostly I love having my daughter.

And finally, the apple of my eye, Walker. The name Walker is from an English surname which referred to the medieval occupation of a walker. Walkers would tread on wet, unprocessed wool in order to clean and thicken it. Our Walker will tread on your wet, processed, floor, clothes, hair, wool rugs, furniture, anything you might not want him treading on, and we still praise him to the skies. Sometimes I think he should have been called Runner. He mostly treads on our hearts though, and we think he’s the bomb diggity.

It’s a bond like no other-the unconditional love grandparents have for their grandchildren. He is an absolute joy to our lives, and we have joined the population of people that understand why they’re called GRAND. It’s really quiet when he’s not here.

I look forward to our next sleepover.

Walker

These are my people, they’re why I get up every day.

The Brylcreem jingle was just a little extra 🙂

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Shine Bright Like a Diamond

Who is your neighbor? I have some great ones that live next door to me, and down the street. I live on a short street, so it’s easy to get to know everyone.

One of my very best friends lives across the street, so we get to sit on her deck in the mornings and have coffee, enjoy fellowship, watch the sunrise, and spend time in the word. Wait, I think that was a Lifetime Movie; we both have jobs and have to get up and go to work at the crack of dawn. She’s still my great friend and neighbor though, and we occasionally get to spend time together.

Neighbors help each other. Help out with things around the house, pick up each others kids, bring goodies around the holidays. They’ll feed and water your pets and plants when you’re gone.  A true neighbor will be there for you when you need them.

Who is your neighbor? The bible describes your neighbor as “anyone in need”, (Luke 10:29-37) not just the person or persons that live next door, or just down the street. That means the lady in the grocery store that cuts in line, or the guy that lives close and walks to the church sometimes that might not smell the prettiest. It means that insurance guy that keeps giving you the run-around. That co-worker that gets under your skin. Even the people that disagree with you are your neighbors.

Jesus said this about your neighbor, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Luke 10:27

I wrote this one a while back and never published it. It wasn’t the right time. Now is the time.

I hurt someone’s feelings today, and she just happens to be my neighbor as well. It was all about a dog, his poop, and boundaries, and all that silly stuff. Things that aren’t important.  We missed the BIG picture. We’re still friends and I apologized; she’s going to keep waving when we pass each other on the street, and she’ll smile when she does. I will too, and hopefully, I will be a better neighbor, and she will see Christ in me.We can be a light for others, or we can be a closed window where no light comes through. I want my light to shine bright like a diamond. (Thanks Rihanna) If people don’t see the love of Christ in me, I am but a clanging cymbal. (I Corinthians 13:1)

Love Thy Neighbor.

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Opryland and the Zoo!

So many things I would like to say, but I’m not going to. So many things I would like to whine about, but I’m not going to do that either. Just because you think it, doesn’t mean you have to say it.

People are being bullied, and this thing we can’t live without called social media, is the reason. Would you repeat some of the things you say on social media when face to face?

Here’s something to whine about: People die everyday. Just last night there were deadly tornadoes in Georgia and Mississippi and a shooting in a San Antonio mall; more than 1500 people died yesterday from cancer, and every day 125,000 abortions are performed. If you want something to whine about, grieve with these families that lost something or someone. Grieve for those women that were never born to have a voice. What happened to their rights? Why did no one care that they didn’t get to march?

When my son was little, maybe 4 years old, we had Thanksgiving dinner, just the four of us. We went around the table and gave everyone the chance to tell what they were thankful for. Noah’s response was, “Opryland, and the Zoo!” In his 4-year old mind, those were things to be grateful for. He’s matured a little, and the things of importance in his life have increased to bigger things, like two parents that love him unconditionally, and other family members that he can count on in any event.

Just because you don’t get the recognition you think you ought to, or because you might not get your “way” is not a reason to protest and cause dissension in a community, a state, or country. Be grateful. Grateful to be alive. Grateful to have that baby the doctor said you might never have. Grateful to have another day with your loved one that could be gone in the blink of an eye. Thankful to have a job that pays your bills. Thankful to have a roof over your head. Blessed to have someone that loves you unconditionally. Blessed with a family that accepts you. Blessed with the rain we received today. If you don’t have these things, try to find a support system that will afford you these things. Don’t depend on the “state” to reaffirm your self-worth, or to prove that you matter.

I borrowed something from the message at church today:

Rejoice in the Lord always. (I Thessalonians 5:17) Refuse to be anxious. (Matthew 6:34) Replace worry with prayer. (Matthew 6:34) Receive God’s peace, (Philippians 4:7) and Reject negative thoughts. (Philippians 4:8) Thanks, Brother Randy.

If you can only think of Opryland and the Zoo as things you’re thankful for, that’s a great start. Build from there.

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Push, Kiss

 

My 19-month old grandson has made it clear he doesn’t like to Face Time. In our most recent Face Time events, Walker decides to end our time together with an exclamatory, “Push”, followed by a kiss, and then the line is dead. “Push”, meaning, “Hey mom, if you’re not gonna push that big red button in the center, I am.” It’s not that he doesn’t love us, or want to see us. He’s just “over” this technological phenomena, and more into the car or dinosaur he was playing with prior to the call

Now, I know what you’re thinking, “She’s gonna go off on this Face Time thing with God, and church, and all that.” You are ABSOLUTELY right! God wants some Face Time with us, with me, with you, with your church. A lot of times, we show up for prayer time, or our quiet time in the morning, or we show up at church, and we go through all the motions, do all the right things, say all the right words, and when we’re done; we push that red “end” button, and we’re out. We go back to our regularly scheduled lives, already in progress.

So the Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. (Exodus 33:11) Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God. (Exodus 34:29) Talk about Face Time! Moses had the ultimate Face Time experience. God didn’t say, “push”, kiss Moses, and hang up. Moses spent forty days in the Divine presence of God.

Scripture tells us that, in a village called Emmaus, a very long time ago, a couple of guys sat down to eat with a stranger they crossed paths with on the road. When He broke the bread and shared the cup with them, their eyes were opened and they recognized him to be the Risen Lord: and He vanished out of their sight. Face Time. (Luke 24:13-35)

As the woman at the well encountered Jesus, she immediately understood her life was different and no longer her own. We don’t know her name or age, but we know she was thirsty for truth. Jesus told her “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again” (John 4:13). Then Jesus made us all a promise: “Whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst” (John 4:14). In one sentence he went from everyday life to life everlasting. That was Face Time.

Jacob limped away after his Face Time encounter with God, and with a new name, Israel. (Genesis 32:22-32)

Our face-to-face with God may not leave us with the Shekinah glory that Moses was left with, and maybe not even a limp.  We have been given a tool that Moses and Jacob did not have – the Bible. We have knowledge of the love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness of God. We can read stories of others that had Face Time with Him and how they were transformed. We can get a picture of what God requires of us. We can get to know Him as well as Moses knew Him.

This Face Time is more than just reading about Him. We can also talk to Him in prayer. The more we pray, the more we hear and understand Him. We can sing praises and give thanks to Him. God likes to be acknowledged for what He has done in our lives.

Let’s get connected. No iPhone, webcam, or WiFi needed.

And…I’ll see YOU next time, Walker!

 

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