Monday, April 30, 2012

God's Wisdom in Others

It may or may not be a secret or unknown knowledge to some that I am gearing up for an exciting and very stretching period in my life.  God has been so good to move so mightily in amazing ways that I never imagined the last few years.  Looking back, I see tremendous struggle, deep valleys marked with many failures, but I also see amazing victories, tremendous growth, and incredible provision.  At the very center of much of this stands a precious six year old boy, soon to receive a new name, my name - adopted into my family permanently for good.  It has been the journey of a lifetime simply to bring him into our home and wrestle through the layers of trauma, abuse, and neglect that had previously closed his young mind and soul, just to be reach him and draw him forth and God has enabled us to succeed.  Now we are blessed with an amazing living joyful little boy in our home.  But as if to say "You've not seen anything yet...", God is moving us further out in this walk of faith.  I'm going to Africa - Manzini, Swaziland to be precise.

In our sponsorship through Children's Hopechest of an orphan at the Ludlati Care-point through the local Known To Me ministry, we have been involved in helping to raise up and support a community of those who care for, and educate children who would otherwise go without food or likely die or prostitute themselves for survival.  The local ministry has been able to send a team over the past two years to work in-country with the native discipleship staff and care-givers and I was immediately drawn to this work when I heard of it.  Two years ago I thought the timing was right for me to go but God began closing the doors and I now know why, though at the time I was discouraged.  This time I see the doors opening and I know God is making the way. 

As I am daily in earnest prayer and preparing my heart for this journey, I often find myself reading through the extensive writings of those who have gone before me.  Many are writings that I glossed over previously, convincing myself that I did not have time to read.  I was mistaken.  The website, is an excellent resource for opening one's eyes to the realities of the James 1:27 commission and seeing this commission being fulfilled by local people.  What I find myself in continual amazement of is the profound wisdom I continue to encounter in these, my brothers' and sisters', heartfelt postings.  Some are brief, only a few paragraphs.  Some, more like myself, feel compelled to share weighty or lengthy issues that are on their hearts.  All are good, very good.  I have discovered that in digging through these, there is a veritable treasure trove of golden wisdom couched in the paragraphs for any who will take the time to look. 

But then another thought has come to me.  "I wonder if these who have freely shared their burdens, their hearts, shared what God has spoken to them in a quiet time of meditating or pondering Him, I wonder if anyone has ever said 'thank you' ?"  I would be a liar if I were to say I occasionally did not wish my ramblings on this thread would benefit someone other than myself.  I've stated before that I view this as more of a personal journal that I feel God nudging me to share than some great exposition of knowledge or wisdom for the masses.  To be honest, I don't know what to do with praise or the "atta boy" or even "thank you" other than to sheepishly say "you're welcome" so I am often most thankful that I don't have to wrestle with this.

I don't think anyone of the writers that I have been reading through think themselves an author to the masses either.  I would hazard to guess that they, like myself, appreciate that they may have helped someone or shared something that was beneficial to another.  But often when you are struggling with something, that is when God speaks most deeply to you.  Very often, in those times of faith building, the most profound of revelations are made known, the "hidden truths" and suddenly your eyes and your heart are opened to the Word like never before.  To share this would be everyone's inclination because it is transformational.  It is life!  But how many of my brothers and sisters have done just that and found that their writings, their efforts, their "voice in the wilderness" have simply fallen into the air;  have hit the wall of apathy? 

I realized something in this examination.  I do not encourage others nearly enough. I'm not talking about the Sunday "glad to see you", "how are you" encouragement.  I'm not even talking about the "good job" encouragements that can even fall easily from our lips or roll off of our fingertips onto the keyboard.  I'm talking about the "I see you.  I know you.  I deeply and truly appreciate you.  Thank you for sharing a part who you are with me" encouragement.  For me this means maybe I need to not let so many of these postings go unanswered without comment.  Scrolling through KTM's site alone most of them are unanswered, though there are solid topics and good insights in all of them.  Reading through the linked postings I find I appreciate the heart of others more than I thought possible in simple face-to-face conversation.  There is a ministry of honest encouragement and we all need to be involved in it because everyone needs it from time to time. 

So I have come to this conclusion.  I will endeavor to know my brothers and sisters better, know them through their writings.  This is very often their heart, their intellect, their soul in written form.  Often where spoken words fail, written words pour forth so I will know them and encourage them when opportunity arises.  We are one body in Christ and I want my fellow body members to know they are appreciated and loved.  What is truly amazing about this is that I ultimately gain the benefit of God's Wisdom in Others.

"Fools think their own way is right, but the wise listen to others."
Proverbs 12:15

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


Today I was blessed by a random email from a friend.  This email was of the genre that gets forwarded multiple times for its "cute" or interesting nature, not necessarily for its profound life altering earth shattering truths - accompanied by a musical score and scenic photos.  Very many of the recipients probably scarce gave it a second glance.  I'm sure there were a few polite "thank you" acknowledgements to the sender.  But I did find profound truth in this email.  I am thankful for the reminder there-in.  The gist of it is as follows:

In the Bible, the shortest chapter is Psalm 117
Conversely, the longest chapter is Psalm 119
Between these two is (obviously) the 118th Psalm

There are 594 chapters in the Bible before Psalm 118
There are 594 chapters in the Bible after Psalm 118

By chapter count, Psalm 118 is the very center of the Bible.

The email went on to total out the sum as 594+594=1188, drawing relevance to Psalms 118:8 as a central message to the Bible.

Big.  Deal. 
Who cares?  Not to be flippant with the Holy Word of the Living God, but why all of the number crunching?  What is so important or noticeable about this?  Why the accounting lesson?


How many of us would say we are seeking God's will for our lives?  How many of us are seeking to know Him more intimately?  How many of us yearn to know the fullness of joy that He would have us daily walking in?  How many of us desire to be centered in Him?

"O GIVE thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for His mercy and loving-kindness endure forever!"
Psalm 118:1

"Out of my distress I called upon the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me free and in a large place."
Psalm 118:5

"The Lord is on my side and takes my part, He is among those who help me; therefore shall I see my desire established upon those who hate me."
Psalm 118:7

"It is better to trust and take refuge in the Lord than to put confidence in man."
Psalm 118:8

"The Lord is my Strength and Song; and He has become my Salvation."
Psalm 118:14

"I shall not die but live, and shall declare the works and recount the illustrious acts of the Lord."
Psalm 118:17

"I will confess, praise, and give thanks to You, for You have heard and answered me; and You have become my Salvation and Deliverer."
Psalm 118:21

"This is the day which the Lord has brought about; we will rejoice and be glad in it."
Psalm 118:24

"You are my God, and I will confess, praise, and give thanks to You; You are my God, I will extol You."
Psalm 118:28

"O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for His mercy and loving-kindness endure forever."
Psalm 118:29

Don't you find it interesting that the very center of God's Word to us is an admonishment to center ourselves in Him, to praise and pursue Him?  Note the benefits of doing so.  Uncertain about a decision?  Trust and take refuge in Him.  Encompassed by enemies and those who seek your downfall?  Praise and call out to Him.  I love the underscore of verse 8, the epicenter of mathematical numbering of the above listed email - take your eyes off of men for your salvation/solutions/deliverance and put your confidence in HIM!  And all throughout this centering of focus is praise, praise, praise.  The chapter starts with praise and ends with praise.  We can never praise enough because He inhabits the praises of His people and transforms the world in which they walk when they praise Him.

I encourage you, read this chapter, the whole chapter, often.  Center yourself in the Word - and watch Him center your world under His designs for your life.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Ignoring Broken Toes

A few weeks ago we were introduced to a teaching in Sunday Morning Service that has been rolling around in my mind for various reasons since.  It was an in-depth look at the necessity of every member of the church. Our home church was burned out in a fire last fall. We met at a local hotel/conference center for several months while God opened door after door to bring us into our new current building. It is truly a great facility and will meet the needs of our body for many years to come. But it needs work and needs the attention of, not just the pastors ushers or Sunday school teachers, but the whole body - we each have a part to play. This was, in part, the admonition of this sermon. Our pastor poignantly drove this home by removing a shoe and sock from his left foot and putting his wedding ring on the middle toe and then pretending that his foot was rebelling and proclaiming itself just as honorable and important as the hand. The resultant ramifications were obvious as our pastor attempted to walk/hop around the room, while describing the effects of his now shifted center of gravity on his lower back.  Everything was out of alignment because one member decided it wanted to be something than what it was created for. 

We were asked to consider how useful that foot would be in this state in our day-to-day travels and walking.  Suddenly the foot became immensely important, more so than the hand as we all envisioned hobbling around for 14 or 18 hours on one leg.  Though this one member very often was covered/clad in layers of cloth or covered with shoes and not seen as the head, the ear, the eye or the hand, none of us wanted to be long without it.  The point was humorously driven home as our pastor put his sock and shoe back on.  We're all important right where we've been called and we should not look to be something we're not created to be.

But what has stayed with me is what I observe in those who serve our Father.  I think all who would listen to this type of message would enjoy the teaching and the principles laid out there-in.  I believe most all would agree and walk away with a renewed commitment to acknowledging leadership, serving in the giftings they've been called, and loving each other.  We're all one body, one church.  But I don't think we truly grasp the depth of this message.  Read with me:

"Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part. If the foot says, 'I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,' that does not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear says, 'I am not part of the body because I am not an eye,' would that make it any less a part of the body? If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything? But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it. How strange a body would be if it had only one part! Yes, there are many parts, but only one body. The eye can never say to the hand, 'I don’t need you.' The head can’t say to the feet, 'I don’t need you.' In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary. And the parts we regard as less honorable are those we clothe with the greatest care. So we carefully protect those parts that should not be seen, while the more honorable parts do not require this special care. So God has put the body together such that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity. This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other. If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad. All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it." 1 Corinthians 12:14 - 27 (MSG)

We easily grasp the first part of this:  don't try to be something you are not.  Where I witness us losing out is in the last part.  When the church is growing, when programs are expanding and ministry is occurring, everything is exciting because anytime God moves it is exciting.  Even when the enemy assails, it's all part of the plan because that's what he's supposed to do in the face of expansion of the Kingdom.  When worship is great and bible studies are encouraging, people are plugging in.  When we see new faces in the back rows or on the edges of the sanctuary, we're pleased that God is pleased with us and that He is moving, He is making all of this happen.  We are all ready and willing to collectively work towards His glory and the expansion of His work through our local church families.  But this is only one side of the coin.  Are we willing to collectively suffer?

Who misses that quiet attender who is not heavily involved and who sits in those back or side seats when they are not there?  Are they part of the body?  Do you know why they could not make it to the service?  Do they have or know the love of your church family - I'm taking about serious, outpouring overwhelming love?  They are probably not as missed as a Sunday school teacher, or a worship leader, or even a deacon, are they?  Who do you think Jesus would have stopped the praise band, the choir, the whole service to go to?  What is their calling in your church family's body?  Or is the reality that we are all just a little to busy to bother with these details the crushing truth that comes home?  After all, there is a lot to do during a service, and a lot of things have to occur in a certain order to make it happen smoothly.

We can all go through the exercise of figuring out which part of the "body" we are.   Invariably we have to recognize there are many in our midst who are defined as periphery members.  They may seem of small consequence or of little effect on the direction, the programs, or the activities of the church, but their lives, their presence in the body matters immensely.  No one knows what that person is going through, and very often, our canned greetings and pat polite Sunday morning conversations don't even scratch the surface of the hurt they are living in weekly.  They are in our midst for a reason, often to seek out help, healing, and restoration, to find their place in the body, often to find their value in Christ.  Going to the front to have the pastor pray for you is great, but if no follow-up from the loving body occurs, its like the mouth speaking words but the body failing to act.  The Word above says "all the members care for each other".

And sometimes those hurting the most are not your fringe attenders but those who regularly serve.  They are the Sunday school teacher, the usher with the kind smile, the woman who is always available to clean, people with servants hearts who rarely are included in the after church lunches and "clicks" that often circulate around the more visible and honored members of the body.  These people are no less targeted by a hellishly wicked enemy than the pastor or the recovering drug addict.  Very often these "little toes" of the body are silent in their struggles, not desiring to burden others but hurting none-the-less.  Very often, these are the ones who need that phone call of encouragement, that visit, that card that says "I'm thinking of you".  They need a voice, a touch, not an email or a text.  Our technology is cold and does not permit the warmth of God's love or the knowledge that someone is in the trenches with you.

We've become proficient in ignoring the broken toes as long as the major organs and visible members are all doing well, but the body is still sick and limping as a result.  This is because we've becomed dull towards compassion.  Compassion requires motion.  In the New Testament we read that Jesus was moved with compassion (Matthew 9:36, 14:14).  The greek translation for this means "to be moved to the lowest depths of the bowels, to suffer or to feel with".   When is the last time you suffered with or felt with someone else to this level who was not immediately in your inner-most circle such as described in 1 Peter 3:8?

"Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters.  Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude."  (AMP)

We must work to make sure that in our growing churches and expanding programs that we don't ignore the "least of these".  Top to bottom, the body must be one.  Not only must I know my function and giftings, but I need to be more sensitive towards how my fellow body members are doing.  To be able to do this, I must have fellowship and truly know my fellow body members and this violates our comfort zones.  "Those people are so much older/younger than us".  "He's single, we'll put him with the 'singles' group." "She has several kids, we'll have her talk to the childrens workers."  "The youth pastor should really be the one talking to the teens."  "You fit into this catagory...we'll plug you in here."  And little thought or heart-to-heart occurs outside of that niche.

We all have a part to play in the healing and ministry of the whole body.  We should all be sensitive to search out and love on those who sit near or guard the exits, even those who guard their hearts. We should be moved to action when we note something amiss.  Jesus was.  Until we shoulder this mantle, we're all hurting because we're all ignoring broken toes.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Back At'cha

It is a beautiful morning.  Let me reiterate.  Beautiful.  I can not see a cloud in the sky and if I could, I would imagine they would have to be tinged with the artistry of pastels that only the Father could dream up.  It is crisp, clear, vibrant.  I am being swept away on the currents of traffic along with the other commuters towards my daily obligations.  Occasionally my mind drifts to what I know is ahead, but these thoughts are overwhelmed by the majesty of rural scenery on this four-lane.  The river of multi-colored automobiles seems an acceptable substitute for an actual body of water in the midst of wild flowers, brilliant green grasses, and the deep azure blue dome above.  The air is chill and my spirits are high.

Then I am snapped back to the realities of pavement and steel by the glare of brake lights coming on in front of me as the car ahead decelerates rapidly.  I, in turn, am forced to do likewise to avoid collision, as is the case for the van behind me.  An accordion effect begins to ripple through this river as all within it are subject to the whim of a single vehicle - a slow driver pulling into our current.  Then, for the first time during my commute, the dashboard clock is noticeable. "15 minutes" I think to myself.  "I don't have time for this." 

Suddenly I am more acutely aware of the vehicles around me.  Red Honda.  Blue Ford.  Black Dodge.  Some drivers seem clueless - drifting, some seem irritated.  Did that guy just sneer at me?  That woman needs to pay more attention to the road and less to the kids in the back seat.  That person needs to get off the phone and speed up.  Then I notice people in the left lane are going significantly faster.  "Of course", I think to myself, "the slow driver would be in MY lane."  I tell myself to be patient.  The sky is beautiful, the earth is fresh, but as the vibrancy of the colors fade around me all I can focus on is the upcoming traffic light.  Will I make it or will the velocity challenged motorist ahead impede us all?

Vehicles began jumping lanes, looking for gaps, weaving, anything to get around this guy.  I could now make out the vehicle; a big white LeBaron.  "Had to be an old person", I thought to myself with only a minor twinge of guilt for my worsening attitude and disrespect toward the elderly.  I was now three cars behind and stuck.  There would be no lane changing for me.  I studied my speedometer.  "This person is going a full 6 miles below the speed limit during rush hour - why would they do this to me, to all of us?"  Nine minutes.  One of the cars ahead of me leaped over to the other lane in a daring NASCAR maneuver.  Horns sounded.  This was bad.  This one person was wrecking everyone's morning, setting everyone off to a bad start. 

At the next intersection one more car entered the turn lane.  Smoothly I pushed forward lest some wickedly advantageous driver try to muscle in ahead of me.  Then brake lights.  NO!!!  The Fiesta in front of me just HAD to turn into Arby's.  "Can't you find time to eat breakfast at home instead of clogging your arteries on that?"  A gaping traffic hole between me and the slow LeBaron opened up.  I pressed the accelerator to the floor and was rewarded in my efforts as, miraculously, no one managed or bothered to take advantage of the gulf between us.  As I came within than a car length of the LeBaron's bumper I was further rewarded with the knowledge that I was right.  I could now see clearly, it was an elderly man driving this vehicle, fouling up what should have been a smooth and effortless flow of steel into the city this morning.  Six Minutes.  Pangs of conviction for my rapid transition in attitude assail.  I know I should not have let this chain reaction of events get to me, but they have and now I have to find a way to reclaim my day, reclaim

That's exactly what the license plate said on the elderly man's car.  JOY 180.  Puzzled, I pondered this while driving the blocks ahead to my turn off.  Was his wife's name Joy?  Were the letters J-O-Y his initials?  Then it hit me and I literally laughed out loud.  JOY 360 would be a full circle.  But JOY 180 - back at you.  JOY BACK AT YOU!  I laughed again.  Suddenly this man, enjoying a beautiful spring morning, driving a few mph below the speed limit as people impatiently swerved around him with cross glares and impatient scowls leaping lane to lane, - this man was the epitome of wisdom and peace in a maelstrom of chaos and misaligned priorities.  All the while his plates were silently screaming to the rest of us  JOY BACK AT'CHA!

Joy - do we even know what that means in today's society?  Do we comprehend the power of this small word?  We know how to enjoy.  Much of our society is drunk with the continual pursuit of enjoyments, satisfactions and seeking of pleasure - no matter how brief and often no matter what the cost.  But these do not comprise joy or encapsulate it.  Ever seen a child enraptured by joy, fully caught up in the moment of it all, giggling, with an ear-to-ear grin they couldn't wipe away.  In that moment, the surroundings and circumstances fade away as joy induces life, tangibly transforms reality, and brings energy to bare.  In 1 Kings 1:40 we read where the people of God followed Solomon into Jerusalem with such joyous praise that it shook and broke the earth.  I'd say there's tremendous power in joy.

And having joy doesn't mean the world is perfect or everything is going your way.  For that matter, having joy is often most necessary when everything is stacked against you because joy transforms.  Joy is a necessary component of praise and God inhabits the praises of His people.  Ever sang praise and worship songs without joy - been to a church that did?  It's like a funeral.  Did God move powerfully in those services?  We serve a God of joy, a vibrant and living God.  It's one of His most important and often overlooked character traits.  He has freedom to move most powerfully in our lives when we emulate His joy.  If you have doubts on this, consult the countless scriptures in the Psalms that repeatedly admonish us to take joy, rejoice, joy in Him, put on joy - and this is just one book of His Word.  There are numerous references throughout the entirety of the Word in both the Old and New Testaments.

How often have you wanted to jump up with joy and say like David did

"Let me run loose and free,
celebrating God's great work,
Every bone in my body laughing, singing, "God,
there's no one like you.
You put the down-and-out on their feet
and protect the unprotected from bullies!"
-Psalm 35:9 MSG

Psalm 66:1 tells us to "Shout joyful praises to God".  Try that in your car on your way to work - not prayers muttered under your breath or that look like you're singing along with your radio but serious shouting praises.  You might get a few stares.  Do you care?  I guarantee you'll be a different person exiting your vehicle than when you first got in it.  What if the weight of continual onslaught by the enemy has you so overwhelmed and crushed that you are beyond praise?  Then do what Hebrews 13:15 instructs us to do - "pouring out sacrificial praises from our lips to God in Jesus' name."  (MSG)  Did you catch that?  Sometimes it's a sacrifice.  It's an effort, it costs something.  But the sacrifice always yields a return far greater than the cost.  You are changed, and your surroundings are altered because of it.

Lane change.  JOY 180 hops lanes to exit to a fast food restaurant.  Probably going for coffee with other elderly friends.  I wonder if they are as wise as this man has suddenly become in my thinking.  My turn is a brief 30 yards ahead.  Thank you JOY 180, and Back At'cha!

Sunday, April 8, 2012


Dull blue eyes gaze at me as we are led into a small room. "I'll check in with you in a little bit", says the nurse. I thank her. Turning my head the little boy has sat down in a sofa chair and eyes me warily, eyelids heavy, as he tries to comprehend this new turn of events. I can see evidence of uncertainty in his young face, but also evidence of medications. Though present, he is not fully with me. He tries to comprehend, but is drifting. The elixir of psychotropics is potent in his young body and my heart aches for him. I am in a hospital. More precisely and politely, a "behavioral health hospital for children and adolescents".

Today is Easter Sunday. Church was powerful and communion was poignant as we pondered the true nature of the amazing sacrifice represented in the cracker and juice. The torn body and the blood spilled. We left filled with thanks for the sacrifice made for our salvation, our hearts encouraged. Then we put our faces to the task ahead; a hospital visit.

And here I was, with a nervous little boy who barely knew me, and was so drugged that his head barely stayed upright. On my way up to his room I passed what were called "counseling rooms". I could not help but note the occupants through the windows of the doors of these rooms. Some were in a similar state as this child. Some were in worse states. All were obviously medicated to a lesser or greater extent.

I turned my full attention to this precious boy and for the next half hour I pestered him with questions, made silly faces, talked about things of small consequence, and simply tried to connect. At first I met with little success as his young mind simply tried to reason why I was there at all. As his apprehensions slowly began to subside I was able to show him the card that other children had made for him, the small pictures they had drawn on it for him. We discussed important topics such as the best kinds of playground equipment to play on and which train was better, Thomas or Chuggingtons.

Finally, we found a critical point of connection - remote control monster trucks. Under the umbrella of this topic, this sweet boy's mind finally relaxed and I began to see him, see through the haze of the medications to who he really was. It was like shining a flashlight into a well and seeing someone in the bottom wave back. We even managed a giggle when we discussed chasing my cat around with an R/C truck - something he said he definitely would need to come over and do sometime. I just might let him (I have a tough cat).

Through it all, I began to see this beautiful child, not for what had caused him to be admitted to this place, but for who he truly and deeply was. Even though medications dulled the senses and capacities, he became animated and alive in our short visit and I saw him briefly freed from the confines of his surroundings and transported back into the full happiness of carefree childhood, even if only for a few moments. Visiting hours ended far too abruptly and I left the card, coloring book and crayons with his nurse as I walked with him back to the group room. Then I began the process of extricating myself from this "hospital" and on more than one occasion had to knock on locked doors to gain exit. I, too found myself a prisoner and this stayed with me as I left the hospital: "imprisoned".

These children were not just physically imprisoned. Yes doors are locked, for very good reasons I'm sure. To be honest, I think even if the doors were unlocked the sheer maze of hallways would prohibit most from exiting unwarranted. None-the-less, physical barriers are certainly in place, but what I noted most strikingly was that these patients, these children were imprisoned within their own bodies and minds. As mentioned, I witnessed others in similar states as the boy I visited and all of them shared the same closure of the mind, a shrouding of the senses.

This is heart wrenching to behold, particularly in the eyes of a child. One is supposed to see vibrancy and life in the eyes of a child. When gazing into the face of a small one, a brilliant reflection of vitality and innocence is supposed to be before us. Something is very wrong when we are greeted instead with dull, lifeless, drowsy eyes. When vitality is replaced with lethargy, the balance is off and the world is amiss. When "the least of these" suffers, we do not have a means to justify this inequity. We desire to right the wrong and set them free.

As I was leaving the hospital today, God dropped something on me that gave me pause to ponder.
My child, you were imprisoned.
You were locked in your own mind, in your own thinking and I set you free.
My child, you were sick, lethargic, lifeless, and helpless, and I healed you and gave you new life.
You were chained to death and your own sin habits and I destroyed those chains.
Beloved, you were imprisoned and I fully discharged your debt and purchased you.
You have been discharged from a future apart from me in hell.
Today, the world celebrates because I set you free.

We celebrate Easter, we gather around family dinners and remember the sacrifice on this day, but God would have us ever thankful. God would say to us, "remember often", because there is not a day that goes by that the blood that was shed does not atone for our misdeeds or purchase our entrance to the throne room. There is not a day that goes by that the body that was bruised and torn does not purchase our healing. Conversely, there should not be a day that goes by where we fail to give thanks with the same thanksgiving for the sacrifice made as we did in our observances this day. Our debt has been discharged for all eternity and we have been adopted as sons and daughters of the King, each of us made completely free.

Galatians 5:1 states "So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free..." (NLT)

God did not define us by our sin, but by who we are. He KNOWS us intimately and longs to draw the true 'you' out through the haze of sin and corruption into the freedom of life that He has for each of us.  His Word is a clarion call to bring us out of darkness to the light and life of freedom that he has for us daily.  He states in John 8:32 "You will know the Truth and the Truth will set you free."  Embrace it.  Freedom is free to all who will receive it.  The cost was beyond reckoning but it is extended to all every moment of our lives.

One other piece of good news. My little friend, he gets discharged in a couple of days - and there's a big Easter basket waiting for him when he gets home.