For His People of Valor

1 Peter 3

 

A boy wanted to be a doctor. As a child his parents gave him a toy doctor kit and he would hold the plastic stethoscope to the chest of stuffed animals and give pretend shots to anyone who would allow him to put the plastic syringe to their arm.  As he grew he would watch television shows about doctors; he knew the names and back stories of every major character in his favorite shows.  He would  drive around the hospital and sometimes even go inside.

He bought himself a pair of scrubs, a white lab coat, and a real stethoscope, and he would wear them around town. His chest would swell each time someone called him Doctor. He decided it was not important to go to real medical school, after all, he does look like a doctor already and why go through all the hassle of study when all he needed was the outfit; or so he thought.

One day there was a terrible accident. Upon seeing the young man they urged him to help.

“Doctor, do something!” The crowd pleaded. “Or they will die.”

Of course he didn’t know what to do. He fumbled around and tried his best to re-enact the scenes he seen hundreds of times on his favorite television shows, he yelled “Stat!” and “screamed for someone to hand him a “thing-a-ma-jig.” He didn’t know how to check a pulse, stop the bleeding, or bandage a wound. He tried to fake it, but faking it did not save any lives that day.

Perhaps he should have went to medical school? Maybe he should have applied himself to studies instead of appearance that merely brought him a false sense of security?

Thankfully, this is just a fictitious story. Yet, this scene is played out everyday within the Body of Christ.

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Too many Christians are getting the Word from short blips and memes, or watching t.v. sermons, or worse going to a church where scripture is never mentioned, but my, my, my, what a great time they had, huh. They may own a Bible, but do they read it? They may pick it up occasionally, but do they study it?

If you are a Christian and I ask you where is your Bible and when was the last time you read it, what would you answer?

If someone asked you what do you believe and why do you believe, would you have a confident answer? And if your answer went against the grain of the person asking you, would you be bold enough to still give your answer without wavering? If you were speaking to someone who is well versed in their unbelief, (an atheist, for example) do you have enough of His Word in you to contend for the faith?

This is not meant to condemn anyone, rather I hope if this speaks to you it will encourage you to rise up and take your place.

But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness [though it is not certain that you will], you are still blessed [happy, to be admired and favored by God]. Do not be afraid of their intimidating threats, nor be troubled or disturbed [by their opposition].  But in your hearts set Christ apart [as holy—acknowledging Him, giving Him first place in your lives] as Lord. Always be ready to give a [logical] defense to anyone who asks you to account for the hope and confident assurance [elicited by faith] that is within you, yet [do it] with gentleness and respect. 1 Peter 3:14-15

The more time you spend in His Word, in fellowship with Him, then the more you will know Him and become like Him.

As followers, imitators, of Christ, we have been given a commission:

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations [help the people to learn of Me, believe in Me, and obey My words], baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always [remaining with you perpetually—regardless of circumstance, and on every occasion], even to the end of the age. Matthew 28:19-20

You have no need to fear! Study His Word, submit yourself to Christ, and when the opportunity comes (and it will) He will give you the words to say. He will bring back to your remembrance all He has taught you. But you can’t remember what you have not taken the time to hear and to know.

My friend, we are in the days where evil is called good and good is called evil, many are falling from the faith, false prophets are on the stage, the wolves are dining on the ignorance of lazy believers, people are seeking to have their ears tickled and there are many out there who will accomodate their carnal desires. Christians are being persecuted around the world, and even here in the USA our Christian faith is being attacked. We must be vigilant!

Difficult Times Will Come!

But understand this, that in the last days dangerous times [of great stress and trouble] will come [difficult days that will be hard to bear].  For people will be lovers of self [narcissistic, self-focused], lovers of money [impelled by greed], boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy and profane,  [and they will be] unloving [devoid of natural human affection, calloused and inhumane], irreconcilable, malicious gossips, devoid of self-control [intemperate, immoral], brutal, haters of good,  traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of [sensual] pleasure rather than lovers of God,  holding to a form of [outward] godliness (religion), although they have denied its power [for their conduct nullifies their claim of faith]. Avoid such people and keep far away from them. 2 Timothy 3:1-5  

Do these verses from 2 Timothy sound like it fresh out of the mainstream media, Hollywood, your FaceBook newsfeed, or the world outside your front door?

knight-apologetics

What is apologetics? It is not apologizing for your faith, nor is it defending God, because He does not need us to defend Him, It is the discipline of giving the reason for your hope, applying scripture, it is combating unbelief.

(Click on the following links for more:   John 14:11, John 20:24-31, 1 Corinthians 15:1-11,   Philippians 1:17,  Psalm 14:1, 2 Corinthians 10:5)

Remember, we are not wrestling against flesh and blood, it is not against people, but against spiritual forces of wickedness.  You are well equip, so you need not be afraid or timid.

There are many resources out there to help you. The Bible should ALWAYS be your first resource. Enroll in a course on apologetics. I have found some really good ministries out there. Check out:

Apologia Church, they also have some good teaching videos on YouTube.

Living Waters Ministry, and Ray Comfort has an excellent YouTube channel, as well.

Frances Chan has a heart for God and people. He is sure to inspire you!

People matter! Souls matter! 

So, the next time you have the opportunity, open up your mouth and let Him out!  We are the light of the world, the salt of the earth.

Stay connected to the Body of Christ, stay in fellowship with your local body of believers. We are not meant to be alone. We are many parts, but one body, we need each other.

Stay in the Word.

Stay close to Him.

Pray, commune with God, through Jesus.

Be filled with His Holy Spirit.

Open your front door and get out there!

And one more reminder… the offense will come, and when it does, lay down your pride, your ego, yourself, and do not be offended, nor lash out, stay in His peace, walk in love, be gentle, yet firm, and may you firmly grasp the knowledge of His love for you.

I close with thisBlessed [gratefully praised and adored] be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort,  who comforts and encourages us in every trouble so that we will be able to comfort and encourage those who are in any kind of trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 

Be Free & Stay Free

 

 

It’s in the DNA

DNA

My fathers side of the family is recognized by “the chin.” Most of my cousins have inherited this feature, including myself.

When my children were babies they looked like their father. As they grew they developed some of my features; big eyes and dimples. Mostly, they took on my mannerisms, no doubt because of my influence of them. (Insert smile here)

I am known to my friends by my laugh. When I was young I was called giggles. Sometimes my giggle would get me into trouble, I just couldn’t help it, to stifle my giggle I would look like I was having a seizure with my body shaking trying to keep the laugh inside. My family calls my laugh a cackle. My “cackle” was usually heard before I entered a room.

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When my oldest daughter left home I would worry if I prepared her for life. Even though she is a responsible young woman, a mom still worries. To my delight I received a call from her one day.

“Oh no!” She said. “I inherited your cackle.”

She was in school and when she rounded a corner a friend told her she knew it was here coming down the hall because of her laugh. Of course we both got a cackle out of this.

I have told my kids that no matter where I am they will always have a home to come home to. My kids are grown now and spread out, but no zip code will ever change the fact that they are my children. They carry my DNA, they are mine.

This is the same for God’s family. Because of the blood of Jesus Christ, we have His DNA, we are His.

As we grow and mature in our walk with Jesus we begin to look more like Him; we take on His characteristics. The more time we spend with Him, the more we know Him, then the more our thoughts begin to reflect His.

You ever see couples who have been married for a long time? They begin to look alike, right.

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I lived many years in NYC, so there are certain words I say differently than my husband who grew up in the mid-west. Just the other day he caught himself saying something and he sounded just like me. I found this funnier than he did, I think. But, there are some things he does that I have noticed I have picked up, too. This is what intimacy, spending time together, and knowing each other does. You become one.

This is the intimacy our Abba Father desires us to have with Him. After all, we are the Bride of Christ and He is coming for us soon for the wedding feast. What a celebration that will be! Until then, our courtship with Him, through the Holy Spirit, seals us. He loves us, cares for us, provides for us, laughs with us, cries with us, He knows or every thought.

Lord, you have searched me [thoroughly] and have known me. 
You know when I sit down and when I rise up [my entire life, everything I do];

You understand my thought from afar. 
You scrutinize my path and my lying down,
And You are intimately acquainted with all my ways.

The more we know Him, the more we want to know Him; to be so intimate and hidden in Him that the world no longer sees us, but sees Him. As we receive His love, we reciprocate by loving others. We become His heart extended to a world that truly needs Him. We become His light in a world that is fumbling around in the dark.

There is no shame or fear in Jesus. Let us be the city on a hill, shining the beacon of Truth and Salvation. If you have Jesus then you carry His DNA. Let people see Him before they see you.

By this they will know we are His.

Be Free & Stay Free

It’s a mission field out there!

I wish I had something profound or witty to write.

I sit at my laptop and stare…

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…and still nothing.

  It is not that I don’t have thoughts, but I am finding it difficult to convey them. Perhaps the thoughts are meant for me alone? Maybe God is showing me something and I need to wait for Him to take me deeper than the surface.

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I have prayed for God to give me a burden for prayer. You know, for intercession, to actually desire to enter into His throne room and intercede for people, our nation, my children, and my neighborhood. I am in need of revival.

Thoughts are just thoughts until we put them into action. I realize my thoughts have become quite selfish and they are spilling over into my prayers. It has somehow become all about me. How did that happen?

We are living in a time when we can no longer afford to slumber or wait until “the time is right.”  Our world is imploding. People are eating each other with hatred, fear, cynicism, and paranoia.  You only have to look at your FaceBook feed to know this is true.

Young girls are crying out for validation; selfie after selfie, screaming look at me, notice me, love me! Women are more focused on finding a man than knowing Jesus. Our men are falling, becoming hard, confused, and distant. The youth are running amuck and undisciplined. The church is remaining silent on issues of the heart. Yes, it is a heart issue.  black heart

Yesterday I saw an upsetting display of hatred coming from neighborhood children no older than 10 years of age. One of the little boys was yelling racial slurs to two young guys walking down the opposite side of the street. The little boy chased down the street yelling at them and picked something up to throw at them.  I put on my mothers best voice and yelled across the street from our balcony to the little boy  that he better knock it off and go home before I tell his mother.  Thankfully his mother heard the commotion and yelled for him to get his “you know what” home.  Children are not born with this hatred. It is a learned disease, from home or school.

Now, tell me we don’t have a mission field right outside our back yard!

We kid ourselves if we think this is not a spiritual battle. Hostility, hatred and fear fill our streets, airwaves, social media, and homes.

We can speak as eloquent as we want, give the best motivational speech and fill our altars and pack our pews, but if we are not making disciples of Christ we are only creating false converts. We can be 100% PC, never offend anyone, and have friends and likes by the thousands, but if we are not speaking His truth and loving, then we are nothing more than salt to be thrown on a dung hill.

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Sigh, there are so many distractions and attacks. That ol’ devil has us believing we can’t do anything. But God says…

I can do all things [which He has called me to do] through Him who strengthens and empowers me [to fulfill His purpose—I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency; I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him who infuses me with inner strength and confident peace.] Philippians 4:13

So, no, I don’t have anything witty or profound to say, just some thoughts that have been weighing on me.

Will you please agree with me in prayer.

God, You have entrusted me with the pen. Help me to write what You say.  My creativity is running low and so is my energy. You have planted me in the center of a mission field, though it is uncomfortable, Holy Spirit I am willing to be outside of my comfort zone if the Father be glorified.

Holy Spirit, stir us to a place of repentance and action so we will rise up and be Your church. Give courage to the fearful, strength to the weak, and a Holy boldness to the introverts. Take control of our mouths and let only Your words come from our lips. Give us new eyes and a new heart so we can see the lost as You see them, someone worth dying for.

Forgive us for our apathy, let us be broken before You so You will build us up. We call Your remanent to come forth, we ask for a fresh infilling of Your Spirit, we speak to things that are not and we know they are, because You said so. We call Your sons and daughters home. Let us not be comfortable where we are, but to be content in where You have placed us, knowing it is for purpose and for Your glory.

Pour out Your Spirit of intercession so we can be Your church, Your body, Your voice. We want to see the lame walk, the blind see, and the dry bones come alive. Let Your love shine through us so we may pierce the darkness that engulfs our nation(s). Revive us, God!

We can do this only through and with You. Lead us and we will follow.

In Jesus Name, the Name above ALL names!

Amen. So be it!

Be Free & Stay Free 

Higher Calling

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This morning I was challenged through a devotional by Oswald Chambers. The title of this day’s devotion was: Is He Really My Lord? How is that for a point blank question? It is definitely a call for introspection, isn’t it?

Oswald goes on to say; “Have you received a ministry from the Lord? If so, you must be faithful to it- to consider your life valuable only for the purpose of fulfilling that ministry. Knowing that you have done what Jesus sent you to do, think how satisfying it will be to hear Him say to you, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” … He is not offering us a choice of how we can serve Him; He is asking for absolute loyalty to His commission, a faithfulness to what we discern when we are in the closest possible fellowship with God. If you have received a ministry from the Lord Jesus, you will know that the need is not the same as the call- the need is the opportunity to exercise the call. The call is to be faithful to the ministry you received when you were in true fellowship with Him.”

Did you read what I read? Do you hear what I heard?

This is a challenge to quit with the excuses, whatever that excuse may be; and sometimes the excuses can seem so innocent and legit… but they are just excuses.

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In these final hours, the devil knows his time is short. He is an expert at what he does, he has been doing it for thousands of years. 1 Peter says it like this, that ENEMY of yours, the devil, prowls around LIKE a roaring lion, fiercely hungry, seeking someone to devour. How do we defeat him?

Be sober minded,well balanced,self disciplined,be alert and cautious at ALL times

But, how do we do this? I mean really? We can’t do it on our own. This is how: we STAY close to Him! We cast all our cares, our worries, our anxieties, once and for all on Him, because He cares about us with deepest affection and watches over us very carefully.

It is easy to get side tracked, distracted, remember… the devil is a master con-artist.

We look at the world and it is easy to see how the devil is moving. Just 2 minutes going through your facebook newsfeed will show you the devil’s handi-work. But, in your personal lives, do you see it? Do you recognize the attacks? The subtle roadblocks he sets up?

You may think you are just one person and what does it really matter in the whole scheme of things. But, let me tell you, you matter! God has called you for a purpose. You heard the saying a chain is only as strong as the weakest link? My friend, you are not weak! God has given you an arsenal to defeat the enemy and to make an impact for His Kingdom. You may have got off the path, you lost sight of the vision, the enemy has filled you with doubt, fear, and unbelief; he has hit you in your finances, your relationships, your health, and your mind. He has you believing that you are a failure and unworthy and you look in the mirror and you see a hypocrite. STOP IT! This is not how God sees you! Humble yourself, because it is not about you, it is what Jesus has already done.

What has God called you to do? What dream has He given you?

Does it seem too big? Then good! Because He is big and He has called you for a greater purpose and He promised to never leave you and that He will finish what He has started in you. He said to not be afraid, so to be afraid is to align yourself with the enemy. Partner with God. Be of courage. Be of faith. Believe!

To know what you should be doing and not do it, is sin. Repent! Turn to Him and believe. Trust Him! One step at a time, in faith, will move a mountain. To sit still in fear is to be dinner for the “lion wannabe.”

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Finish your race with joy, and the ministry which you received from the Lord Jesus.. Acts 20:24

The Violent Take it by Force; an open letter to the church

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Matthew 11:12

Most of us would not hesitate to defend a helpless person. If we see an elderly person fall down we would help them up. Or if we see a small child alone and lost in a city street, we would stop and call the authorities; it would be impossible for us to turn a blind eye to a helpless child. In times of natural and/or unnatural disasters, the supernatural steps in and empowers ordinary people to rise up and help. Wars have been fought to free enslaved people and many have sacrificed their own lives for the life of another.

You see, the world is the person(s) who needs help. Many have fallen and are lost. They are defenseless in a world darkened with deception.

Throughout history, just and unjust, wars have been waged. We are living in a time where there are no longer just rumors of war, but actual wars; in other countries and our own. Conflict is on the rise and people are divided. Division has breached government, friendships, and families. It has given birth to fear, mistrust, selfishness, and paranoia.

Across the globe there are hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, and fires. People are suffering from illness and disease. There is a pill for everything; depression, insomnia, weight loss, high blood pressure, heart, constipation, ADD, ADHD, RLS, ED, thyroid, headache… and the list goes on. Those who can’t afford prescribed medication self medicate, opening the door to bondage of addictions. Recently I read an article about a plague taking lives in Madagascar. The plague?

Peoples hearts are failing them. The fear of the future is causing many to check out emotionally or physically through suicide. Families are juggling the bills, choosing between eating, electricity, or rent. The pressures have destroyed families, children are growing up unsupervised and without a parent. The rate of marriage is low as people hop from one relationship to another, our elderly are forgotten in nursing homes, and the transient state of our country has left many without the help and support of family.

Men don’t know if they are women, women want to be men, it is mass confusion! Equal rights now equal domination. To go against the grain is considered hate. Carnality is celebrated and to stand on Gods truth is to be labeled bigot, ignorant, and homophobic.

People are leaving churches, the Gospel message has been watered down across the pulpit, and many are choosing their best life now over God’s truth. Itchy ears are placated with political correctness and pats on the back; because His word doesn’t fit the worlds narrative and it is offensive.

The signs He told us to look for are here. His return is sooner than we think. He IS coming back.  It is time to WAKE UP, Church!

This is not the time for entertainment and to lose ourselves in front of a television or computer screen. We are not called to sit back, scratch our heads and live defeated lives; we are not to roll over dead! We are called to an abundant life! And I am not referring to prosperity preaching. I am talking about the abundant life of expectation. Expect God to move… through us!

But a move can’t happen if we are closed up into our own lives, too afraid to go into the world, and worried about what “others” may think of us.

“Adam and Eve were placed in the garden with a mission. God said, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it.” It was God’s intention that as they bore more children, who also lived under God’s rule, they would be extending the boundaries of His garden (His government) through the simplicity of their devotion to Him. The greater the number of people in right relationship to God, the greater the impact of their leadership. This process was to continue until the entire earth was covered with the glorious rule of God through man.”

“But in Genesis chapter 1 we discover it’s not the perfect universe. Satan had rebelled and had been cast out of heaven, and with him a portion of the fallen angels took dominion of the earth. It’s obvious why the rest of the planet needed to be subdued – it was under the influence of darkness. God could have destroyed the devil and his host with a word, but instead He chose to defeat darkness through His delegated authority – those made in His image who were lovers of God by choice.”

“The backbone of Kingdom authority and power is found in the commission.”

– Bill Johnson, When Heaven Invades Earth (I recommend this book!)

Now I will remind you what we, His Church, have been commissioned to do with power and authority:

Jesus came up and said to them “All authority (all power of absolute rule) in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations [help the people to learn of Me, believe in Me, and obey My words],baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always [remaining with you perpetually, regardless of circumstance, and on every occasion], even to the end of age.”  –Matthew 28:8-20

These signs will accompany those who have believed; in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink anything deadly, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will get well.” -Mark 16:17-18

 If you have read this far then I know this is for you. You are in agreement and His Holy Spirit is prompting you and you know there is more to life than this! You know you have been chosen and called. You feel the sting of conviction to be purposeful and be about His business.

Maybe you don’t know where to begin. You begin right where you are, but you do not stop there.

You begin in your home, with your spouse, children, or parents. If your family does not share your faith in God, then thank God you are there! They are your first mission field. “For the unbelieving husband is sanctified [that is, he receives the blessings granted] through his [Christian] wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be [ceremonially] unclean, but as it is they are holy.” -1 Corinthians 7:14

Then go into the world! Take His light into the schools, workplace, market place, for wherever you go you are carrying His light. “You are the light of [Christ to] the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lamp-stand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good deeds and moral excellence, and [recognize and honor and] glorify your Father who is in heaven”. -Matthew 5:14-16

Always be ready to give an answer for the hope that you have!

The kingdom of heaven suffers violence and the violent take it by force! Now Go!

Come, let us be His Church together.

Oh, God, help us! Move our hearts with what moves Yours. We believe, help us overcome our unbelief. Create in us a new heart, a strong heart, a heart of flesh, that we may be moved with compassion and action to a lost and dying world. For Your name sake! In Jesus Name, Amen.

Be Free & Stay Free

Beauty for Ashes

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Shame does something to a person. It produces a judgement of guilt and unrelenting condemnation.

Shame distorts a person. It suffocates the future and feeds on regret. The showering of fear hinders growth and stifles a person from becoming who they were created to be.

When I think of people in the Bible who overcame shame, I see a common thread.

Think of the woman at the well, for example. Shame ostracized her right into isolation. Or how about Rahab the prostitute? You better believe she could clear a sidewalk when she walked down the street. Even Gideon hid because he was the least of the least; he didn’t see himself as a man of valor; but God did. The list could go on and on, because God chooses such people.

Do you know what they have in common? They encountered the living God!

Are you there, my friend? Are you carrying shame like a dirty little secret and trying to cover it with  lie upon lie; afraid of being exposed? Have you isolated yourself in your closet of regret and you no longer do the things you used to enjoy, you hide from people, your prayer life is non-existent, you don’t even read your Bible anymore, and your head is too heavy to hold up?

If this is you, then there is something you need to know. There is no sin so great that He can’t forgive. There is no wrong that He can’t make right and no reason your past has to rob you of your future.

Jesus came to set you free! Do you believe this?

When He gave His life for yours, He took the shame to the grave and left it there, and then He rose victorious! His victory is your victory.

He gives beauty for ashes. Do you believe?

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
Because the Lord has anointed and commissioned me
To bring good news to the humble and afflicted;
He has sent me to bind up [the wounds of] the brokenhearted,
To proclaim release [from confinement and condemnation] to the [physical and spiritual] captives
And freedom to prisoners,
To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord,
And the day of vengeance and retribution of our God,
To comfort all who mourn,
To grant to those who mourn in Zion the following:
To give them a turban instead of dust [on their heads, a sign of mourning],
The oil of joy instead of mourning,
The garment [expressive] of praise instead of a disheartened spirit.
So they will be called the trees of righteousness [strong and magnificent, distinguished for integrity, justice, and right standing with God],
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified. Isaiah 61:1-3

Call on Him. Repent and receive His forgiveness. Let it go. You have been created for so much more. When He formed you, He held you in His hands and He said, “It is good.”

We make mistakes. We don’t always make the right choice. Sometimes we do it willingly and sometimes not. But, He has made a way for us. Come to Him just as you are, because this is one thing you can’t do on your own; you need Him.  We all need Him.

Be Free & Stay Free

 

 

Spiritual Father’s Day

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This is for all the Spiritual Fathers out there and to all the men who answered the call and gave…

You may never know on this side of eternity the impact you have had and the difference you made, but God knows, and the fatherless children know.

Thank you for standing up and being the face of our Father when there was no father. You have never looked more like Christ than when you loved a child that was not your own, or when you came alongside a young man to mentor him, or gave validation to a young girl’s worth.

When you chose to stand in the gap and love, sacrificing time, life, finances, and sleep…

You became the shield between the fatherless and hell; you led them closer to the Father. You taught a young boy what a man is, you helped a young girl know her worth, you impacted a generation for the Kingdom of God. It may have seemed like such a small thing at the time, but believe me… nothing done for God’s children is small or insignificant.

To all you spiritual fathers who may or may not have had children of your own-

Thank you! God Bless you!

I will not leave you as orphans [comfortless, bereaved, and helpless]; I will come [back] to you. -John 14:18

“I will establish My covenant (everlasting promise) between Me and you,
And I will multiply you exceedingly [through your descendants].” – Genesis 17:2