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A New Song – Psalm 96

by Jeremy Lobdell

We are in the current series: Psalms Summer Playlist. On August 9, Pastor Jeremy preached on Psalm 96. Here is a devotional for you to meditate upon.

Never do the Psalms dismiss evil. Instead they wrestle with the inequity and injustice in the world. The Psalmists look the enemy straight in the eye and call on God for deliverance. They cry out for Him to judge their enemies, bring justice, and vindicate them.

Here in Psalm 96 the Psalmist celebrates God doing just that. The last few verses (vv 10-13) proclaim the Psalmist’s great hope that the true king will return and judge the world. When He does, all will be made well, and He shall reign forever and ever.

Fortunately for us, this is not mere, wishy-washy, feel-good sentimentalism, but instead the guarantee of the Almighty Creator God who keeps His promises for a thousand generations. In Him we live and move and have our being. In Him we find our worth. In Him we have hope, and in Him we look forward to the future redemption and restoration of all that He has made (Romans 8:18-39).

This guarantee of ultimate restoration changes the Psalmist perspective. The Psalmist moves from one of disorientation to a new orientation. Light breaks into the darkness, and hope replaces despair. The Psalmist may not have all the answers, but he knows the God who does. As a result, the Psalmist can trust in God’s sovereign, supernatural, overarching plan and leave the details up to Him. Consequently, because of this change in perspective the Psalmist can sing “A new song” (v 1) and call on all God-followers to do the same.

I hope that as you prepare to serve God in this upcoming ministry year that many will begin to sing a new song. That both your perspective and that of the ones you serve will change. Not doubt, bad things happen to good people. But Psalm 96 encourages our hearts and changes our perspective knowing that the true King will return to come and judge the world.

Addressing Questions Related to the Core Values: Part 3

by David Jebaratnam

I have just finished reading the book, QBQ! The Question Behind the Question®. In this bestseller, John G. Miller makes a case that “personal accountability” must be a core value for everyone. In making the case, he says: “The lack of personal accountability is a problem that has resulted in an epidemic of blame, victim thinking, complaining, and procrastination.” The questions we ask, especially when frustrated, usually begin with why, when, and who. These are lousy questions that are negative, assign blame, and do not solve any problems, says Miller. He calls them Incorrect Questions (IQs). Here are some examples:

  • Why do we have to go through all this change?
  • When is somebody going to train me?
  • Who dropped the ball?
  • When are they going to do their job right?
  • Who is going to solve the problem?
  • When are they going to tell us what is going on?

However, “that moment of frustration also presents us with a tremendous opportunity to contribute,” says Miller. “The moment IQs pop into our heads, we have a choice. We can either accept them or—better yet—reject them, choosing instead to ask better, more accountable questions.” Such questions, which Miller calls QBQs (Question Behind the Question), usually begin with what or how, contain an I (not they, we, or you), and focus on action. Here are some examples:

  • What can I do?
  • How can I do my job better today?
  • What can I do to improve the situation?
  • How can I support others?
  • What can I do to better understand the challenges faced by the organization?
  • How can I contribute to building a stronger team?

Now I have a question for you: What kinds of questions went through your mind when our church launched its three Core Values—Sound Doctrine, Pursuit of Holiness, and Unity within the Church? Did you ask IQs or QBQs? For example, “Why are they now proposing these core values?” is an IQ whereas “What can I do to live according to these core values?” is a QBQ.

It has been said that there is only one person in the world that I can influence toward change; it’s me! Therefore, make it your habit to practice “personal accountability” without which, says Miller, “no organization—or individual—can successfully…achieve goals and objectives, provide outstanding service, engage in exceptional teamwork, or develop people.” Let us be “ALL IN” as we MOVE FORWARD AS A LOCAL CHURCH!

Would you please join me in praying the following prayer?

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the people I cannot change,
the courage to change the one I can,
and the wisdom to know—it’s me!

Addressing Questions Related to the Core Values: Part 2

by Pastor David Jebaratnam

In Part 1 of the blog, I addressed the first question that was asked after our church launched Sound Doctrine, Pursuit of Holiness, and Unity with the Church as its core values. The question was: Why was “love” not included as a core value?

Since then similar questions has been raised, why were “this and that” not included in the set of core values established for the church? Again I would point to the three-part definition of core values.

  1. It must be a deeply ingrained biblical principle that guides our life together as a church. It must never be compromised or violated.
  2. Those compromising or violating this deeply ingrained biblical principle must be called upon to repent.
  3. Absence of repentance would make it a church discipline issue.

For example, let us put “Evangelism, Outreach, or Missions” through this grid and see if it should be included as a core value.

In Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus said: “Go and make disciples of all nations.”

  • Therefore, we can easily make a case that Evangelism/Outreach/Missions must be a deeply ingrained principle in the life of a church.
  • We can even say that it must never be compromised or violated and that those doing so must be called upon to repent.
  • But how about the third part of the definition: Would we make it a church discipline issue when believers do not evangelize unbelievers, sponsor a poor child, or support missionaries? More importantly, does the Bible say that church disciple must be administered on such people? Of course, the answer is “no.” That’s why we have not included Evangelism/Outreach/Missions as a core value.

Based on our definition, all three conditions must be met for something to become a core value. As you think of other things as potential core values, please screen them through this three-part definition. If anything fits this three-part definition and is not covered by the three core values already established (namely Sound Doctrine, Pursuit of Holiness, and Unity within the Church), please let me know. The Elder Board and Pastoral Team would be happy to consider them. Thank you!

Addressing Questions Related to the Core Values: Part 1

by David Jebaratnam

Recently, the church introduced three Core Values: Sound Doctrine, Pursuit of Holiness, and Unity with the Church. Since then I have been asked a few questions that I would like to address in a series of blogs in the coming weeks. This is the first one in the series in which I address the question, why is “love” not included as a core value?

Our definition of core value has three parts to it.

1, It must be a deeply ingrained biblical principle that guides our life together as a church. It must never be compromised or violated. In that sense, it does constraint our behaviors and actions.

No doubt, “love” would pass this test because Jesus himself said, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength…You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:30-31)

2. Those compromising or violating this deeply ingrained biblical principle must be called upon to repent.

With respect to loving God, Jesus said, If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (John 14:15)

With respect to loving people, we read in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.”

These teachings raise a few questions.

  • What are Jesus’ commandments? Did Jesus mean all of his commandments; no exceptions? How do we determine a commandment of Jesus has been compromised or violated? For example: (a) To keep Jesus’ commandments, we need to know what they are. To know what they are, we need to study the Bible. So, would we say that a person who does not study the Bible has compromised or violated this biblical principle? (b) “Make disciples” is a commandment of Jesus. So, would we say those who do not do evangelism are compromising or violating this biblical principle?
  • Would we call for repentance when someone falls short of living up to 1 Corinthians 13:4-8? I would say we must if we write down “love” as a core value.

3. Absence of repentance would make it a church discipline issue.

Does the Bible teach that a person who does not show “love” for God and people must be expelled from the fellowship? My answer is no unless that person’s loveless acts move into the realm of sin. In that case the Bible is clear that we must call on that person to repent and absence of repentance must lead to church discipline. (Romans 16:17; 2 Thessalonians 3:6; Matthew 18:15-17; 1 Corinthians 5:2; Titus 3:10-11)

All of this is to say that loveless acts that move into the realm of sin are covered under the core value of “Pursuit of Holiness.” Thus we chose not to include “love” as a separate core value.

Words of Encouragement – Resilience, Diligence, Perseverance, and Patience

by Dave Bortel

I’ve been drawn to get a better understanding of spiritual gifts the past several months with our Congregational study and the men’s CBS study of Corinthian’s. Two topics resonated with me. First, I found it interesting that faithfulness is the only duplicated topic cited as a fruit and gift of the spirit. As I looked this up, faithfulness implies a strong belief, but also loyalty, consistency and steadfastness. I’ve always appreciated these personal traits. One of my favorite biblical studies fitting specifically with this theme is been on perseverance. What a great personal trait! I might even add, a trait that I think is waning with cultural shifts.

Exhortation or encouragement is the second topic I wish to address. Romans12:8 also teaches us of the gifts of the Spirit not mentioned in Corinthians – one being exhortation. I feel I have the gift of exhortation, encouragement. I’m here today to tell you I am an exhortationist. I’ve always had an optimistic look at life, especially with Christ at our side. Yet, I recognize it is easy in our media-driven culture to be overwhelmed with negativism and the woes of this fallen world. It’s easy to pick at larger institutions that frustrate us. Personally, I can be quick to ride my boys at the end of a hard workday. Always hanging over my head are those words –”fathers don’t exasperate your boys.” But I do enjoy providing their encouragement. I have found encouraging people comes naturally from sports, my family, and even at work. I hope and pray each day I give out more words of encouragement than criticism. Oh by the way, I have an awesome wife and two fine young sons of whom I am greatly proud.

So, back to why I am here. A few months ago, Annette Shafer stood here feeling challenged to consider using her skills more corporately even though it might be out of her comfort zone. As I considered this, I thought of this application in my life and gifting. I feel it easy and natural to encourage in one-on-one situations. But, I thought what about corporately – congregationally. At the same time I was observing our church as it had gone through some big changes. Some tough things. Still as I looked around the worship center, I saw many familiar faces. In many cases I kind of know many of you and many of you know me. This is a big church and we have busy lives. But you know what, these people are still here. These are people one can count on. In fact I was thinking, even though I might not know many of you well, I bet I could approach most of you with a personal problem and you’d be there for me. I hope that gives newer attendees reassurance that this is a strong group of caring attenders. A word came to me – resilience. This congregation is resilient. Back to my first word – faithful , a congregation faithful to each other. Paul writes in Romans 1:11-12- “I long to see the impact of spiritual gifts to make you strong – that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.”

I so appreciate this quality of faithfulness. A congregation of resilience, diligence, perseverance, and patience. As we continued in Corinthians, I was struck to see the connection of resilience and love. 1Corinthians 3:7 Love bears all things. Love endures all things.

So I blog to you, I believe prompted by the Holy Spirit, to provide corporate, congregational words of encouragement. Thank you Lord for a godly man in our pulpit. Thank you for your Word being revealed. Thank you for the blessing of this resilient, faithful, loving, congregation of whom I am proud to be a member.

Doing Our Best in Serving the Lord

By Josh Scott, Technical Arts Director

If you ask my wife, all I ever talk about is “tech” stuff. I am probably not the best person to go to a concert with; my idea of a good seat is one where I can see the sound board. I’ll  spend my time looking at how the sound and lighting rig is flown and, after the show, I’ll being making phone calls to tell all my tech friends about a cool video or lighting effect. While I enjoy all of that, it is not my favorite part of serving in Technical Arts at Midland Free. In fact, it isn’t even in the top three.

The Team

Our Worship Arts team has become family. Each person on our team brings unique gifts to our team. Like a guitar player our Technical Arts team is a team of people who have a wide range of abilities. We have people who have never used a sound board and people who have been serving at Midland Free since we were located at Gordon and Grove. We have people who could build a computer from scratch to people who couldn’t make a PowerPoint slide if they needed to. One thing they all do have in common is that they want to do their best in serving. Not only do they do their best every week, but also they continue to improve on their abilities because they are serving the Lord. They also encourage everyone on the worship team to do the same and to do everything possible to support them in that.

Mentoring Relationships

Technical Arts is unique in that typically the younger generations pick up the skills faster than their parents. Thanks to Technical Arts, the best man in my wedding was twice my age. While we became friends because of our common interest in tech, it turned into a mentoring relationship. We have had multiple high school students serve in tech arts who were expecting to learn how to run a sound board or camera, but ended up with resources on picking colleges, dealing with friends, and having someone to pray for them.

Another example of this is a father-son who served together. A middle school student was highly interested in Technical Arts. His dad enjoyed it, but was really there to serve with his son. The son picked everything up very quickly and, over the next five years, he spent most of his time in Technical Arts teaching his dad how to do everything. While he was good at the tech stuff, serving together allowed his dad to teach him how to serve well, deal with conflict, and he was able to spend quality time with his son.

The Sound of Worship

One of my favorite services at Midland Free is Christmas Eve. We spend a lot of time planning the service, but the part I like the most is hearing the entire congregation in one room singing Silent Night together. It is worth joining Technical Arts just to hear that from up on stage. All the lights, cameras, and sound are really not needed, God will be worshiped either way. We are blessed to have a God that uses our talents to bring glory to Him. That really is the thanks our whole team works for – to see how God uses them to lead people in Worship.

Worship Arts is a great picture of the body of Christ. We have people who like to be on stage and people who like to be back stage. People who are introverts and people who are extroverts. We all love serving together and know we cannot help to provide a great worship service without all of the parts. That is how the whole Church is – everyone has a part to play. If you are trying to determine how to plug-in at Midland Free, look at what you enjoy doing and figure out how you can do that for the church.

An Eternal Love Relationship

by Emily Schafer

When I came to know Christ personally almost three years ago, He didn’t move right away. It took four months, in addition to the 29 years that I had been on this earth, for me to realize that Christ wanted me to know Him personally. I had grown up Catholic and believed in God and I praised and worshipped Him, but it wasn’t until I lost one of my close friends and co-workers, who had been suffering from an illness, that I fully came to know Christ as my Savior. It was through those four months a couple of years ago that I learned that my concern of not knowing whether my friend had made it to heaven was actually God’s way of telling me that my friend had been saved in the last moments of His life. It was in those four months that I realized and felt His Holy Spirit telling me that I didn’t have to wait until the last moments of my life to have a personal relationship with Him. When I finally decided to accept God into my heart, it was a joy like I had never experienced before, a joy that can only be described as out of this world, AMAZING!

Now that I have a personal relationship with Christ, I am learning through His Holy Spirit that I need to re-align my life to focus on Him and not the things of this world like I had before. This is a constant adjustment for me and I can see that God is realigning my priorities in all areas of my life from my family, friends, work and in dating too.

These past couple of years has felt like it has been somewhat of a balancing act for me from who I was before I knew Christ, and after. When it comes to dating, that is especially true. When I was in high school and college I was in a relationship for almost five years. We broke it off because we knew we both needed more, and it wasn’t until that relationship ended that I realized I only knew who I was in that relationship and that the woman that I had become was not actually who I wanted to be. Looking back now, I wish that I had spent those years in building my relationship with God rather than only knowing a part of who I was.

After that, I still searched for what the world tells all single women to look for…..true love, and I along with millions of others in this world looked for it in all the wrong places. It wasn’t until those four months when God moved in me that I realized that true love was a relationship with my awesome Creator, not any earthly human being who I was searching for.

It was a month after I found Christ that a friend had asked me to read at her wedding. I happily obliged and knew it would be nerve wracking since that same high-school boyfriend that I once had, would be in attendance with his girlfriend. Even though I knew that relationship was not the one that God had called me to be in, it still hurt me to know that he had found someone else. Then, I got the scripture that my friend requested that I read and again His Holy Spirit continued to provide assurance and I knew exactly what was happening to me. 1 John 4:7-17 was the scripture that I read and I was reminded of the gift that God had given me and also that as in verse 16: “God is love”. That He is the true love that I was looking for and that His love is all that I need to sustain me.

Now don’t get me wrong, I still find myself looking for the things in this world that are not in God’s plan. I find myself desiring the companionship of someone in this earthly world but I am so grateful to God for His grace and for always bringing me back to His word and promise for me and know that the self worth that I have in God is so much more than any person could provide for me here on this earth. I praise God for bringing me to Midland Free and surrounding me with people who will walk with me in every chapter and help bring me back to my true love and relationship with God. This same true love is a love that all of us can have but so few choose to take. Jesus’ love has changed my life forever and I believe He can change yours, too.

Protecting Your Marriage

by Erin Lacher

twoshallbeonekathygrimmc2a92012Pastor Jeremy has been sharing with us the concept of holiness via marriage and purity. These are concepts that can and should be taken seriously…but how about some thoughts and ideas on how to honor your spouse and, therefore, honor the Lord?  There are so many foundational items that are crucial – prayer, serving one another, respecting one another…but this post is going to focus on protecting your marriage for what it is – a precious gift from your Heavenly Father and a reflection of Christ’s love.

I would presume no one enters into a marriage covenant with a plan to destroy it. So how do countless marriages get rocked by infidelity? Satan knows he can tear down an entire family by going to the core of it, and his craftiness is subtle. Don’t give him a place to start – safeguard your marriage!

One of the biggest things my husband, Dan, and I do in this area is to not to go anywhere alone with a member of the opposite sex. A practical example:  at work I have a mentor who happens to be male. So, Dan has met this person. Dan knows when I have a business meeting scheduled with him (a once a month lunch). And said lunch always takes place in the cafeteria of my workplace, where we can be publicly seen and there would be no opportunity for – nor any perception of – impropriety.

We take a similar approach with email or Facebook messaging. Any personal message being sent to a member of the opposite sex has our spouse and/or recipient’s spouse copied on the note. You may call this overkill. We call it accountability. After all, if neither one of us has the opportunity to build a deep personal relationship with a member of the opposite sex, then we will not have to worry about a slippery slope into a bad situation.

Speaking of slippery slopes… several times recently I have heard the phrase “work husband/wife.” According to Wikipedia, this is “a co-worker, usually of the opposite sex, with whom one shares a special relationship, having bonds similar to those of marriage.” Surveys indicate this type of relationship is on the rise and the terminology seems readily accepted. Really?! Sorry – Your marriage is the most important earthly relationship you have and should be treated as such. Why would you bestow a title upon a co-worker (or even develop a marriage-like relationship with said co-worker) that elevates that person to the same level as your spouse? There is another term for this that seems to have fallen out of favor at the same rate “work spouse” continues to rise. It’s called an emotional affair. Fulfilling your marital needs and roles with someone outside your marriage – whether physical or emotional – is infidelity. Don’t do it.

How do you pursue holiness in your marriage?

The Best Gift – Christ in Our Lives and Our Marriage

by Jan and Steve Walton

Jesus-GiftJan: Pastor Gib contacted us and asked if we would be willing to talk about what God has done and is doing in our  marriage.

Steve: While leading a Discipleship Group the topic of “the perfect woman” came up, and I very quickly pointed out that as a single man in my mind’s eye I had all these criterion for that “perfect” spouse. As it turns out Jan fit very few, if any, of them.

Jan: Just wait, I’ve heard this before, it gets better.

Steve: It was very clear that God knew better what I wanted and needed more than I did, as He always does.

Jan: See?

Steve: We were co-workers  at the MSU Credit Union 36 years ago. When we met, I was in a relationship. When that ended Jan stalked me until I ask her out.

Jan: Oh. Stalked? I persistently pursued you……

Steve: We were both brought up in families that “went to church.” We attended, but had no relationship with Christ, did we?

Jan: No. As our children became older we felt we should take them to church now and then. We checked the box.

Steve: Our first Christian witnesses were Terry and Craig who lived across the street. They had kids about the same age as ours. Craig was in sales, so was I, so we had a lot in common.

Jan: Remember how they would politely ask us to join their couples Bible Study and we would politely decline  and say “what could they possibly be talking about week after week.” But they had planted the seed.

Steve: We relocated to Midland over 20 years ago and we didn’t know a soul in town. I was busy working and Jan was a full-time mom. The busyness of life continued but I felt something was missing so I would go church shopping, by myself a lot of the time, on Sunday morning.

Jan: All this time our friends, Terry & Craig, were praying for our family’s salvation. Then we found a church and, not only that, but we found more Christian witnesses who lived the Love of Christ and who embraced us as friends. They did the watering.

Steve: Through God’s divine intervention, scales were lifted from our eyes at the same time and as this scripture states, that is not always the case.  In our walk God reveals His mysteries as we are able to understand them.  Through Bible Study, prayer and support from our Life Group, we continue to grow in our relationship with Christ. Marriage is work and we’ve had our ups and downs, just like anybody else. It’s about moving forward in holiness and obedience. I’d like to read the letter I gave Jan this past Christmas Eve:

Christmas Eve, 2014

As I have grown in my spiritual walk over the years, I find myself becoming more aware of sin in my life. What I once did not consider sin, but just wrong doing, bubbles to the surface, another layer of the onion is peeled back and I think, why didn’t I consider this sin before?

During my quiet times I ask the Lord to continue to reveal to me more sin and, in the past few weeks, those prayers have been answered in a big way – close to an epiphany. My self-image, always bolstered by your unconditional support, love, and encouragement had led me to believe that I was doing a lot of “right things.” I suppose compared to some others I have been, but I never compare myself to others, but rather to the example Christ set for us. Recently I have been made aware of my many shortcomings as a husband – my impatience, intolerance, not appreciating your many unique gifts, and the gift God has presented to me and to us of so many years of loving companionship. I contrast this to your patience and understanding of all the nasty imperfections that I have that you overlook and I feel absolutely ashamed of my behavior.

Corrective behavior is called for and long overdue…I will continue to seek the Lord’s guidance and strive to follow His example in all parts of my life and, in particular, to my interactions with you. You, of all people, should be a primary focus and I should be most sensitive to your needs, really tune in on your feelings, listen attentively – listen to not only the words but also the intent behind the words, be respectful of you at all times, bolster your self-esteem, be patient, quick to forgive, not be so darn petty, and be as considerate to you as I would to others.  I need to walk the talk more effectively and be the person I think I am instead of the person I really am.

I’m not real happy with that person right now because I know I can do much better. This will all take time, it is a work in progress as old habits die hard and I have 65 ½ years of habits that need  flushing out — call it Steve 2.0 that will require a re-boot! I will never be perfect as there is only one perfect being, but I can sure make big improvements.

Jan: This was a nice gift. The best gift is Christ in our lives and marriage. We’re going to keep moving forward in unity giving God the glory. He’ll keep pruning us. No turning back, No turning back.

A Clean Slate

by Josiah Blackmore

I don’t know why I was asked to give this testimony, but I feel like I’m just the guy. It’s funny, because above my bed, written on a large poster, reads the verse, 1 Corinthians 6:17. “But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with Him in Spirit.” I meditate on this verse often, and it has grown to be one of my favorite verses.

Growing up, I struggled hard with sexual immorality. It was one of my many secret sins, and it gripped me in my daily life. It was normal for me to be united with the spirit of lust, which led me to watch porn daily. Because I grew up in a Christian home, I knew the truth and that I was sinning against God and against myself. It says in 1 Corinthians chapter 6 that “all other sins a man commits are outside of his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body.” I tried to stop so many times, but it just seemed like I would always fall and get caught up in it again and again. I felt like I had no power over my sin, and every time I united myself with the spirit of lust, it came into my temple and brought with it at least seven other spirits – guilt, shame, hopelessness, self-pity, self-loathing, fear, and hate. I felt so distant from God. It says in Isaiah 59:2, “Your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that He will not hear.”

Then one day I just couldn’t take it anymore. After trying day in and day out to escape my sin and “be a better me,” I just gave up. I knew I needed help; I needed someone to save me. All the hundreds of times sitting in on church finally clicked, and I knew that Jesus was the only one who could forgive my sins. It says in Ephesians 1:7, “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins.” I knew that Jesus was the only one who could save me from my sin, so I prayed to Him, confessed my sins, and truly repented. I told Him that if He would save me, I would do anything for Him as long as I live. He would be my Lord, my Master, and my God.

And wouldn’t you know it, He did. On September 8, 2012, I felt Jesus take away all the sin from my body. I felt His Spirit come into me, and I felt what it was like to be one with the Lord in Spirit. It’s hard to describe that moment with words, but if I were to try, I would say that it was the best moment of my entire life. His Spirit came into me and for the first time in a very long time, I felt filled with peace, hope, joy, love, self-control, and faithfulness. It was a very real thing that happened, I promise. And the best part was that it wasn’t just for a moment; that feeling was heavy in my body for at least seven days. It was incredible. My slate had just been wiped clean. Shortly after, I created the poster that now sits above my bed. But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with Him in Spirit. If you ask me what this verse means, I’d be hard pressed to give you an answer. But I can most definitely tell you what this verse feels like.

God says in 1 Peter 1:16, “Be holy, because I am Holy.” The Lord has called his children to separate themselves from the world and its evil ways. It’s hard to do, and there’s no secret formula, but it can be done with God’s help. Thanks to Jesus, today I am a man of peace, patience, love, faithfulness, and self-control. I am a man who walks in joy and happiness. The Lord has blessed me beyond measure, and I am living out His calling on my life. It’s not easy though. Many days I hear the spirit of worry trying to get my thoughts to align with it, trying to get me away from trusting in the Lord and resting in His control. The spirit of lust seems to come in waves sometimes, and I hate that one the worst. Sometimes I accept their words and let them inside. I fall. It’s not very common, and when it happens, it seems to wreck me. They try to lie to me, and tell me that God will never forgive my mistakes, that I can’t go back to the height that I climbed. But I know the truth. 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

Brothers and sisters in Christ, press on. With God’s help, you can live a life of holiness, the more abundant life that Jesus promised. Unite yourself with the Lord, and walk in peace for the rest of your days. God bless.