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The book of Matthew has always been one of my favorite New Testament writings; this isn’t because I think its “better” than other texts, but it is the one I really dove into first when I gave my life to Christ at the age of 17. Matthew 4 constantly gave me life and hope when I saw the way Jesus dealt with struggles and temptations.

When I was in my first semester at Bible college, the first time I moved away to somewhere I’d never lived with people I had never met, some of those comforts of “home”: hometown, home church, family, friends, etc… were no longer there.

And this was a good thing. It opened my eyes to truly understanding that I need Christ more than anything or anyone else. He is always there with me.

On this certain day in that first semester, I was feeling dry. I was feeling down. I was feeling like there was a big chunk of me missing. I had to go to class but I knew there was something I needed to do in order to establish a healthy foundation with Christ. I couldn’t lean on people, churches, jobs, or things: I needed to lean solely on Christ. Without looking at a Bible, Matthew 6 jumped in my head. I couldn’t remember what was in it. But I Felt this very present, burning desire to finish up my class and run back to my room, close the door, and go spend time with God: in prayer and in the Word.

I did that very thing. I hurried back to my room, closed the door shut and opened up my Bible to Matthew 6.

Funny thing: its about prayer. Its all about how we can and should pray. And to put the cherry on top: Verse 6 just lays it out “But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.”

Instantly I was like “OK God, I’m listening!”

So this is a passage I love to look back to, glean from, and continue to go deeper into it because it impacted me in such a positive way as God spoke to me as a young college student.

What I want to focus on today is, as you may have guessed, the “And when you” statements.

These statements are really about how to do good things without them becoming about us. Its about remembering why we are doing what we do: giving, praying, you name it.

Jesus starts this chapter off with a warning, to be careful to not boast our righteousness just to be noticed by those around us. The reward isn’t to be recognized for “how great we are” but to point out how great God is and one day receive the reward of living eternally with Him!

The “and when you” statements that follow are directly related to this warning. So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you like the hypocrites. Rather, give in secret, not letting your left hand know what your right hand is doing. God will reward you, don’t try to force an earthly reward by making sure people know how great of a giver you are.

Likewise, when we pray, it shouldn’t be done boasting lofty words out loud from the street corners.

Rather, as I mentioned earlier, when we pray, we need to focus solely on God. Prayer isn’t about how eloquent we sound to our friends and fellow believers. If that is the reward we seek, then it pales in comparison to the reward we receive for truly caring for actually recognizing that this conversation and intimate time spent with God is far greater.

Notice the theme here: The thing that all of these “and when you” statements have in common is that it requires us to turn our eyes towards Christ and away from ourselves. Our prayers, our giving, our _____, fill in the blank, need to be so sincere and honest that if all we have is prayer time in a sectioned off closet in our house where no one but God can hear us and know we have a vibrant prayer life and in our giving, if no one in the world knows that we give a dime to help anyone or anything, then that is enough because it is for God.

This does not mean that people can’t know we give or can’t hear us pray, though. What ultimately is important here is our attitude that goes into it. Are we seeking approval of man and thus cheapening the authority of God in our lives?

Essentially, if we care more about what those around us think more than Him, then that is what we are doing.

Its about trust. We need to trust God throughout all of this. This is discussed here in verse 8 “So do not be like them;” (the hypocrites, the Pharisees, those who are putting on a show for men rather than seeking after God’s heart) “for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.”

That right there is deep! We get so wrapped up in what others think and the pseudo-approval we think we need from them that we sail right past the mark God has for us.

Jesus then outlines a wonderful prayer for us that should guide our lives: Give glory to God, seek His kingdom, trust Him to provide for our needs, help us to love and forgive those around us, protection us from evil and temptation, and recognize that God is in control.

So, when you _________, trust in the Lord! We are living in a time where everyone seems to be at odds with one another. We live in a time where it may feel confusing as to how to “be Christ to the world”. It can be hard, especially if we try putting everything on our own shoulders.

It is as important as ever to seek to live like Christ. When we focus on the things that are close to His heart and make it our priority to please Him rather than ourselves or others first, that is when greater things will come. Trust in Christ, God knows our needs, let us seek His will here on the Earth.

Amen.

Our journey. Life. Death. Victories. Struggles. Bravery. Fear. Comfort. Agony. Confidence. Worry. Calm. Storm….. I could go on, but I think you get the point.

Our lives are full of feelings, events, truths, realities, struggles, etc… I am not here to tell you that I have a secret formula to avoid anything hard in your life.

That is largely in part because it one: isn’t possible and two: even if we could avoid many of those struggles, what are we missing out on when we get to the other side?

Before I go further, I’m not being masochistic or thinking that God wants us to struggle so we can “see how good we have it” or anything like that. I truly know and believe God wants and has what is best for us. However, it is an ever present reality that we will deal with struggles in our lives.

Hence why I am titling this series of posts “The Journey”. Life is full of ups and downs. Something beautiful about a journey is that there are ups and downs, but the goal, the destination, the purpose, that is what keeps driving us forward in our journey towards the goal. 1 Corinthians 9:24 is fitting to this when Paul says “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win.”

I am no star athlete by any means, but I do know that a race is not easy. Not only does it take training and practice before the race can be competed in and completed, but throughout it there are plenty of highs and lows. Your body requires a balance of hydration, rest, strength training, endurance training, etc… You can get a cramp, trip and fall, get dehydrated, heat exhaustion, etc…

And oh yeah, YOU CAN FINISH! 🙂

Let this be the focal point of what I am saying here. I didn’t state the negative things to whine or complain or try to gain compassion for our struggles, but it was instead to help us remember what we need to be focused on: Following Jesus.

In our midweek Men’s study at church, we are going through a book called “The Anatomy of a Disciple” (Taylor, 2013), and in it, there is a great, profound, yet simple statement that being a disciple means you follow “a teacher, with the intent of becoming like them.” But how? How do we become more like Jesus?

Bring your focus back to Matthew 5 here. This is a fairly popular portion of Scripture known as the Sermon on the Mount and, in the portion we are looking at directly, the Beatitudes. They are fascinating. They are short sentences that we can truly chew on for a life time and still grow and learn from.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

4      “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

5      “Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.

6      “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

7      “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

8      “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

9      “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

10      “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11      “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.

12      “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.[1]

Some of these things, most would probably say “Yes, I want that to be an attribute of my life and character”: gentleness, righteousness, peace, purity, etc…

Then there are some that are like what? I’m blessed if I am: in mourning? If I am persecuted and insulted? How?

Those can be hard to swallow at first. If we are in mourning, that means we have experienced a loss. If we are persecuted and insulted and have false lies spoken against us, well, that isn’t fun! So how could I possibly call that a blessing?

When Jesus spoke these words, they were just as shocking to the people back then. In their society, these would have been contradictory to the norm and opposite of what people would have stated as having a favored, blessed, life.

Notice a common theme throughout the blessed statements here? Show mercy, be pure in heart, mourn, hunger for righteousness, make peace, be persecuted for the sake of righteousness. ALl of those things point away from one’s self and recognizes that our true needs are only met elsewhere: through God. Show mercy to others, make peace with others, be so willing to live a righteous life even to the point where if making a stand for God means we suffer hardship and persecution: then so be it because it is the path we need to take.

When we suffer loss and mourn, we aren’t turning inward and saying “I can take care of myself” but rather are outwardly recognizing loss and that we need to go to God for comfort.

So: The Journey. It will have its ups and downs. It will have its tough times. Hold strong to it though because as we move through this journey of following Christ, there are things to be celebrated and we must cling to the fact that even in our darkest of hours, God is right there with us, comforting and guiding our every step.

As I continue to discuss our journey of following Christ by going through the Gospels, let us remember that God is with us and that even when we face hard times, the race we are running and the prize we are headed towards so greatly outweighs the struggles the persecution we will face.

May God bless, lead and comfort you, Amen.

 

1 New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update. LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995. Print.
Taylor, Rick, and Rick Taylor. The anatomy of a disciple: so many believers, so few disciples. Fresno, CA: The Well Community Church, 2013. Print.

Dryed land with cracked ground. Desert

Something God has put on my heart lately is how much we really need Him. I have been going back to Psalm 63. David is in the wilderness of Judah and writes “O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly; My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, In a dry and weary land where there is on water.”

He goes on to talk about how God’s love is better than life and that his lips will praise Him, that he will lift up his hands in God’s Name and bless Him, and that his soul is satisfied with great joy from God.

Living in the US, it is easy to think that we are set, that our needs are pretty well met. After all, we have a home, food, clothes, cars, toys, etc… It is easy to placate our lives with these fillers and then try to fool ourselves into thinking that “we’re good”.

However, there are going to be times where we are out in the wilderness, much like David found himself in as he wrote this Psalm. There will most likely be times in our lives where our surroundings don’t really have much to offer. In that time, we will most likely find ourselves seeking for things that meet our uttermost needs. Surely you would be thirsty, tired, hot, overwhelmed, and who knows what else.

David was surely reflecting on these things as he wrote down this psalm. Even in the midst of the wilderness, he was able to think about what is even more important than our physical need: our spiritual need, our need for God. David made his fair share of mistakes along the way in his life, but he always ran back to God rather than turning away. He was able to reveal godly wisdom here in comparing his need for God to what its like being in a dry and weary land with no water. Nothing else really matters in comparison. Our entire life, our hope, our future, it is all rooted in, grounded and dependent upon Jesus Christ.

Imagine being in the most desolate of places on earth. No food. No water. The air is dry and hot, no shelter from the sun. It would be utterly painful. You are desperate for water, for shelter, etc…

That is what our life is like without God. We might not always realize it, but when our lives hit rough spots, we can find ourselves wondering “why me, why this, why now, what is going on?”

Don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to state that the Christian life is without struggles, hardships, etc… We all face those. The important thing is that Jesus is there to help hold us up when we face those times. He is like a drink of cold water when we’re lost in the desert. I want this to encourage you. It isn’t something that we should use to cast shame upon ourselves. We shouldn’t dwell on the “would’ve, could’ve, should’ve” moments. Nope!

What we should focus on is: what can I do now to make the most of my life from this moment forward? There is hope in Jesus Christ! He’s there for you, and not just in the “desert moments” but always, everyday, no matter what you’re going through: highs, lows, ups, downs, and everything in between! Why? Because He loves you!

In case you didn’t already know this, Jesus gave His life upon the cross for you. We have all sinned. We have all made mistakes. But Jesus came here without sin, without any mistakes, wrong turns, bad choices, etc… He was and is pure, holy, blameless, and without sin. He loved us so much that He willingly took our place in sin and in death and took the punishment of our sin upon His own life. But Christ, being God, couldn’t be held down in death and He rose on the 3rd day. He went through the temptations we face but navigated them without sin. In doing this, He has shown us that He can come along our side and give us wisdom and direction.

He’s there, ready for you! If you have any questions about any of this or something it made you think of, don’t hesitate to ask me!

 

Blessings,

Kyle

Man Walking Towards CrossJust take this picture in for a bit. What do you think? Can you relate to it? Does it stir up feelings of excitement inside about a momentous experience from your life? Does it just look like a picture to you?

The truth is, most people will probably look at this and all have some unique thoughts as well as many people will share similar thoughts on it.

As the title states, you may have an inkling as to where I am headed with this. I have been slowly reading through the gospel of John and just kind of letting it all sink in each word, sentence and verse at a time. The first chapter is something that I have unfortunately had the outlook on at times of “yeah, I’ve heard that so many times, I get it”.  Let me save you some trouble: if you ever feel that way about God or the Bible, you probably should dig more deeply into that part of your spiritual life because God is way bigger than  we can fathom, so His depth is a lot deeper than we can even know 🙂 Silly me for thinking that, right!?

So, John 1:9 stood out to me a lot so far:

John 1:9 There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man.

This picture is a good representation of where every man, woman and child is without the relationship with our loving Savior Jesus. In darkness.

After a while of being in darkness, our eyes adjust and we think “we can make our away around now”. And then we stub our toe, knock something on the floor, etc…

Apply this to our spiritual lives: many of us don’t recognize the things we need, the things we are without, or the things we have that we really would be better off without because we are living in that darkness. When that is the path we are taking, we don’t see the whole picture, we don’t recognize the greater need there is for our life, the greater purpose.

NOW: If I were to just stop here, that would be pretty depressing, wouldn’t it? I would expect all kinds of lash outs stating how ridiculous of a thing to say. And you would be RIGHT. This would be a very negative call out. I would essentially just be saying “everyone who doesn’t believe like I do is just a terrible wretched person, the end.” Don’t worry, there’s more 🙂

Here’s the deal though: I’m not casting any stones. I’m not in any way saying I am better than you, because I’m not. Same struggles, same problems, same selfish tendencies, you name it. I am an imperfect human in need of God’s great grace, love, and direction.

Enter Jesus: Look at that verse again. Jesus is the true light that came to earth to enlighten EVERY man.

So… What does that mean? It means Jesus knows us. Picture a child. Say the power goes out when the child is sleeping and gets up to a pitch black house. The child would need help, direction.

What would be most useful in this situation? A light lightbulbcould be helpful, right?

Suddenly that child could see and get to where he or she needs to be: safety, to a place where they can see and know what they need and also stay away from that which would be dangerous to them. In the dark, as mentioned already, one can stumble, trip, run into something, etc… If the situation is enlightened, suddenly the dangers of the darkness are brought into the light and they are seen for exactly what they are. No more luring in the darkness waiting to trap us, we can see them, we know exactly what they are and can successfully navigate without them affecting us because we can SEE!

So what’s my point in all of this? As a Christ follower, I believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jesus Christ is Lord, than He is the Savior of the world, that He is the Son of God. That He came to this world to give His life for us. He looked down on us and saw that we were living in darkness and knew that the only way to once and for all atone for the sins of mankind was to take those sins upon Himself: the sinless son of God.

My point here isn’t to say “man you are all terrible”. Its to say hey, there’s nothing to hide! Run towards Jesus, into the light, recognize sin for what it is and realize that Jesus is there ready to embrace you!

I think we often ( I am a culprit of this way more than I would like to admit) think that God is a God who is just waiting to rub it in all of the sins we have committed, every where we have failed, every where we have made mistakes. But that is SO NOT THE TRUTH!

As I was writing this, I was thinking about how we are justified. This is a concept that is continually hard for me to wrap my head around because it doesn’t make “practical” sense. Don’t get me wrong, it is very real and I am VERY thankful for it, but its hard for us as imperfect people to completely grasp how all of that imperfection and sin could be wiped clean and God looks at us in the way we were originally created to be: holy and justified.

A visual came to me as I was writing this.  Here’s a visual:

.                                   Imagine                                                                                      reading

.                                                      a

.                                                                                                                                                                                                                 paper

.               that                                                                                                                                        was

.                                                                                                                          all

.                                               over

.                                                                                                          the                                                                                                                    place

.                                                                                                                                            like                                                                                               this.

Its strange, isn’t it? We wouldn’t know what line we are on as easily, we would lose our place, we would get jumbled around, not know where to start, pick up, or stop. It is confusing. This is a small scale example but imagine a 300 page book written in an “unjustified way” like this. It would be TOUGH!

The deal is that this is us without Christ. It was me without Him. It was every Christ follower you know before they knew Christ. We are kind of, well, a MESS!

I’m here to share good news though, not to tell you that you are a mess without hope, we are messes with GREAT HOPE!

See, here’s what happens to us because of what Christ did for us. Before, we are jumbled mess. But when we see the light that Jesus shines upon our lives and our surroundings and we accept Him as our Lord and Savior, we are justified! He helps put the pieces of our life in the right place!

Now:

Imagine reading a a paper that was written like this. All in one place, justified on the same line, just like this. We can make sense of it, we can see where it is going and successfully get to where we need to go in reading it now.

That is what Jesus has done for us. He took our place in sin and in death and MADE A WAY FOR US to be made right with Him. He doesn’t look down on us and say “you guys just messed up too much, sorry!”

Nope, He says, I am here to help make things right, just follow me!

I know this ended up being a little bit longer than my typical blog posts, but I felt it fitting to end with this passage from the book of Romans chapter 5:

1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

 

Regardless of what you have heard about God, thought about God, or about Christians, hear his: Jesus loves you, I love you. I am not here to act like I am better than you, I am not. I am here to let you know that God’s love for you goes deeper than you could have ever imagined! Run to Jesus. He’s there for you, you can drop all of that baggage that has been weighing you down and live a great life of purpose because of Jesus Christ.

If anyone wants to talk about this more or wants prayer in regards to something written here, comment here or shoot me a message, I’d love to talk it out more!

 

Blessings,

 

Kyle

I have long had the joyful burden on my heart to preach and teach the Word of God to the world. It continues to grow, but I often find myself putting up barriers and thinking that I don’t know how I should be doing it.

I observe the life of many people. I have been heavily involved with church since I gave my life to Christ at age 17. From then up until today (end of high school, through college, as a youth pastor, as a worship pastor, and as a member of a local church body) I have been involved in multiple churches totaling close to 10,000 people across all over those churches. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not sharing numbers to “look good”. Those numbers had nothing to do with me and anything I did, I am simply sharing the amount of lives of people I have passed by or observed.

I have experienced people with a great amount of joy in their lives and I have also observed people with a great amount of sorrow in their lives.

I have had people that were integral and active parts of God’s plan for bringing me to submission before the feet of our almighty Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Some of those people have gone on to do amazing things in the kingdom of God. Some have gotten busy with life and don’t know how to balance it all. Others have hit road bumps and question whether they want to keep on that path.

This BREAKS my heart. I have had some conversations with some friends lately and observed the life choices of others and a lot of people today are struggling with how to be the church. They struggle with experiences they have had in church, some struggle with things they blame God for because they are hurting deep down inside and others just don’t know how to stay committed to staying on the path toward righteousness.

Here is what God is impressing upon my heart: we are lacking intentional community. It is SO easy for us, the church, to become an organization. We need to remember that we are a community. What does a community do? Supports, cares, loves, walks through high times, walks through low times. There are a lot of people that were key influences in my commitment to Christ that are struggling today. They have been hit with a variety of struggles, stumbling blocks, and unforeseen circumstances. This isn’t an excuse for anyone to stop pursuing Christ, but it is a reality. I have been through some (to be blunt) pretty crappy situations in life. But I CANNOT, DO NOT, and WILL NOT let that change the course of my life which God desires for me. When my family and I have been through rough transitions, I have sought out relationships with people that I can pour out an honest heart before. These people, just as imperfect as you and I, fostered community. They listened to me, they shared their wisdom and experience, they prayed for me. They were being the body, the hands and feet, of Christ to me in my time of need. God was using them.

This is what we are called to do. This is how to BE the church. It isn’t about having the Bible memorized cover to cover. It isn’t about having all of the answers. It isn’t about knowing the exact words to say when someone in your local body of believers is hurting.

It is about tending to the needs of your community. In order to do this well, we shouldn’t b waiting around to see someone enter into hardship, but rather we should be fostering and nurturing relationship along the way. Then when something happens to someone, there is a community that is full of support and ready to give it. I am so thankful for those who have been Jesus to me in those times.

What can you do to be Jesus to someone in your life? I am here today because of people following after Jesus’ call on their life. We are called to be the body of Christ here on Earth. We all have our different skills and purposes united together in one calling: sharing the good news that Jesus saves with others and edifying/building one another up as we pursue Christ and set out to do His will here on earth.

So if you find yourself confused as to how to be the church, don’t over-complicate it. Build yourself into a community of caring Christ followers. If you are in a place where you don’t see it happening, then start. It will grow. Trust God. We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. Let’s foster community. Let’s care for one another. Its where great acts of God take place because we aren’t focused on ourselves but on others, just as Christ Himself modeled.

Let it be so.

Which way?

Which way?

Following Christ has been something that has always been controversial. During Christ’s lifetime, it was considered heretical, foolish, and blasphemy by the Jews because Jesus was claiming to have the authority to forgive sins, heal, etc… They did not believe that He was the Messiah and therefore considered Him to be committing blasphemy by claiming to have the authority to do things only God can do.

As a result of people thinking this way about Jesus, you had certainly better expect that to deal with some criticism towards those who follow Him and proclaim His Name. If we claim to believe in Him, the things He taught and the things we stand for, then we in turn are (rightly) claiming to stand for all of those things as well.

In Matthew 10, Jesus says something that can be perceived as crazy. He tells the people not to think that He came to bring peace but that He instead came to bring a sword and also to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, etc and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household.

Now…. wait a minute, isn’t Jesus supposed to be loving? Doesn’t He care for everyone, including my family? Why would Jesus say such a thing, does that mean I need to….? Let me stop you right there, YES, Jesus cares for everyone, YES He loves your family and NO that doesn’t mean you need to grab your stuff, tell your family you hate them and run out the door, bags in hand.

Here’s what He is saying. It is common, especially in other countries/cultures (and probably will be increasingly so in America) to be shunned, hated, or kicked to the curb if you confess faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Therefore, people can be tempted to say they can’t follow Christ because their family wouldn’t be happy if they made that choice.

What Jesus is calling us to here is to stir us up. Jesus values family, he loves everyone, but if people are going to fall short of giving their lives to Him just because they don’t want to deal with (the potential) repercussions they will face from their family for following Christ, then He wants to “set us against one another”. This isn’t because Jesus wants us to have strife and quarrels in our relationships, but what He is saying is that He desires for us to follow Him no matter what the cost. If we are faced with the choice to follow Christ and risk a certain status amongst our family, then we need to do that because Jesus Christ is the way the truth and the life. No one receives eternal life in heaven any other way. Jesus doesn’t want this to be the case (being at odds with our family) but He is saying that we need to be ready and willing to follow Him, no matter what seems to be standing in the way.

Look at the picture at the top of this post. One path is up hill to a more barren looking area, no shade, steep hill, probably very hot on a sunny day. The other path is flatter, more shaded, probably a lot more comfortable and would provide for an immediate need of shelter, comfort, and possibly water/food/etc… This is the kind of choice we are faced with. People tend to make a judgment call based on what they can see as an “immediate benefit”. What if when we took that path and reached the cool shade of the trees, we stumbled into a deep it only to be stuck there forever. We might receive some immediate comfort. It probably “feels good” to be out of the sun and not taking a steep climb. You would never know that just over that hill of the seemingly less attractive path is a city of refuge that will provide for all of your needs from this point forward. The path there might be harder, there will surely be struggles and difficulties along the way. You will face trials and have to over come fears, but when you reach your destination, it will be the right place.

We often do this in life today. We make decisions based on something that instantly gratifies and write off the other path all together because we think that it couldn’t be worth traveling that path to get anywhere it may lead.

Today, it can seem easier to choose not to follow Christ. It may seem better to lead your life in a way that pleases you, right here, right now. However, the right here and right now will not be forever. Jesus Christ came to point the way to real, everlasting life. To accomplish that, He came into this world, full of sin and full of sinners (of which we all are) and led a sinless life only to take a hard path Himself, up a hill, beaten, bloody and bruised. He then was nailed to a cross where He surrendered His life into His father’s hands, for us.

To be clear, we should be the ones facing death for the punishment of our sins. Its a hard, sad, but ever so true reality. Romans 6:23 reminds us that the wages of sin is death. BUT. yes, BUT!!! the FREE gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Instead of every person paying the wage of their sins, Jesus came down and took our place on that cross. Then, for WHOEVER believes in Jesus Christ as the Lord and Savior and decides to follow Him with their lives (no matter what the cost), then THEY SHALL receive everlasting life!

How AWESOME is that?!? It doesn’t matter what your past looks like, your doubts, your fears, your choices, your sins, your mistakes, however filthy it may look for Jesus died for us. His blood washes that messy, dirty past as white as snow and gives us a hope and a future in Him.

If you’ve never taken the opportunity to fully surrender your life to Christ and follow Him, then its as simple as confessing to Christ that you know you’ve messed up and fallen short but that you recognize that Jesus Christ offers forgiveness for all of that and that you accept Him and the forgiveness/everlasting life that He offers and that you begin to follow Him. He’s listening. He’s ready.

 

Are you?

yukon

(Bonus points if you get the humor of the picture and how it correlate with this post) 🙂

 

Acts 10, NASB

Every thing God does is amazing and powerful. Then there are times like this where God speaks to two completely different people who don’t know each other and brings them together in a powerful way with an amazing outcome.

There are 2 visions God gives in this text in the 10th chapter of Acts. Cornelius, a Gentile (non-Jew) Centurion that believed in the God of Israel and was known for giving alms/charity to the poorer/less fortunate Jews as well as known for being a devout man who prayed regularly and continually.

God sent an angel to him and got his attention. The angel told him that God had recognized his prayers and alms as a memorial before God and that he needed to have someone go find Simon Peter for him.

At the time Cornelius sent the people to look for Peter, Peter went to pray and he got hungry. Then, while they were preparing the food, he fell into a trance where God asked him to get up and kill 4 footed animals and birds of the air. Peter was perplexed and said God, I have never had unclean food! God showed this to Peter 2 more times and after the 3rd vision, the men Cornelius sent had arrived.

Now this vision had two meanings. It had the literal meaning of the food no longer being unclean since God has declared it as clean, but it also shows that salvation was not just for the Jews.

This, then, led to a great happening in the Christian church as the Gentiles were hearing the gospel and being saved. This was a huge step forward into the plan God had for helping the world know who He is and the love/hope/salvation/eternal life that comes with surrendering ones’ life to Christ.

When Peter and Cornelius met, he (Peter) took this opportunity to share the gospel. This was a very succinct and clear message.

He reminded them that it started with John and the baptism he proclaimed and that Jesus was anointed with power and with the Holy Spirit and how he witnessed everything Jesus did while He was here, up until He was put to death on a cross and that He was raised up back to life by God on the third day. After this, He charged them with being witnesses by preaching the gospel that Jesus is the one appointed by God and that whoever puts their faith in him will receive forgiveness of sins.

Peter was being faithful in his proclamation of Christ here and we see that the Spirit came upon them as they spoke in tongues and exalting God, to the amazement of the Jews there and they were instructed to be baptized (in water) after that.

 

Now, most of us probably don’t have any lines drawn in the sounds like this where we think “we are the chosen ones” and everyone else is “unclean” and therefore this good news isn’t for them

However, I do believe there is an important lesson for us to learn from this. We ALL have things that can keep us / hold us back from proclaiming the gospel to those around us.

This list could be a long one, but I’ll note the most common excuses/hindrances to us sharing the gospel.

– We don’t know what to say

– What if they reject what I say?

– I’m too nervous to talk to them

– How could “those people” ever accept Christ with how far off the path they are?

The first few can be easily remedied, know what you are going to say. Jesus came to the Earth to reveal God’s love to people, there needed to be an ultimate sacrifice that brought forgiveness and salvation to the people of the world and Jesus gave Himself as that sacrifice and rose back to life on the third day. In doing so, he broke the curse and hold sin had upon our lives and gave us the opportunity to surrender t Christ and receive hope in eternal life. And then let the people know that they can know Christ as their Lord and Savior if they surrender their life by putting their faith solely in Christ.

That last one I want to expound on a bit. This is something I have witnessed (in an innocent way, but still a barrier nonetheless).

Human beings are professionals at creating our own road blocks. I see it ALL the time. In our Christian faith, in our jobs, in our abilities, with technology, you name it. There are people that have a thought in their mind without any precedent to it and then take that curious thought and make it into a hard and fast rule in their mind.

For example, I work in IT. People constantly are limiting themselves in the use of their technology because they decide it can’t do something. At work, we have a large network of computers. Each person has their own login and password. They can sit down at any computer at the county and use their login information and get on that computer. However, there are people that the computers are limited only to the account of the person who sits at that desk.

This wasn’t something we have ever announced, but as people we create rules and barriers in our minds because of the lack of knowledge we have in an area and because we are uncertain and don’t want to venture into that area, we don’t try and we don’t know. When I tell people they can login at any computer and it will work just like the one at their desk, they are both relieved and astonished.

Translate this over to sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ. When I was first save, people came up to me and said “I am curious how you ended up being a Christian with the family you came from”. Now, don’t take that the wrong way, this person wasn’t bashing my family, he respects my family, but he knew that they didn’t have a Christian upbringing, but he wasn’t saying they were bad and terrible people. He was just curious what could have taken place for me to be able to put my faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

See, we create these road blocks in our minds and need help getting them around them. There are a lot of people that believe various things in this world.  We think that, in regards to Mormons, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and other non-Christian belief systems, that it would be “hard”, “difficult”, “next to impossible” for them ever to believe in Jesus because they are so adamant about their faith as it is.

Or perhaps there is someone out there who is just dead set against Christianity and doesn’t have any religious/faith background they align themselves with. We can fool ourselves into thinking that “they’ve already heard this and known it but just don’t want anything to do with it and therefore, we don’t need to say anything to them because they already heard and didn’t put their faith in Christ.

We can’t allow these barriers to be formed in life. And I think that we just need to take the simple approach of being faithful by planting a seed. We can’t force the seed to grow, but we can make sure it gets planted. We have to simply share and preach that Jesus is Lord, He gave Himself for every person on earth so everyone has the opportunity to receive eternal life and salvation and that they can make that decision to follow Jesus faithfully, surrendering themselves to Him.

Don’t over complicate it. Don’t try and get them to become Bible scholars in a 15 minute conversation. Love them, and make sure they know Jesus does to, and tell them what Jesus did to show that He loves them.

I think this runs more rampant than we think in the body of Christ. And don’t take this the wrong way, I am not saying that most of the Christians out there are horrible or pathetic, I’m just saying that we often create roadblocks and we need to tear them down.

So what kind of barriers are you putting in your way? I know for me that I don’t do a great job of verbally sharing it. I could do better at giving a succinct message of Jesus Christ’s good news to people I come in contact with.

Don’t dwell on your barrier. Recognize it. Get rid of it. Share Jesus with people. Just like Peter boldly proclaiming the gospel to Cornelius, his family, and other Gentiles, imagine what great things can happen from such a simple step!

 

 

James 3:8-10 But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; rom the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way.

James 3:17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy.

Watch this quick video:

 

Aubrey Buckled

Let me shed a little background to this video. Aubrey is our 3rd child and she is 3 years old. She has been able to buckle the top part of her car seat for quite a while but the bottom part is a little harder for her.

Today, I loaded up all four kids and took them to Walmart. We weren’t in a huge rush to go anywhere, so I went over the way to hold the buckle to push it in to lock it and everything, helped guide it in by holding her hand and helping her push it. We then went to Walmart, shopped for a bit, and then went back out to the van.

We started getting in the van, and I was putting Olivia into her seat and buckling her up. Aubrey was clearly motivated and excited to try and do her own. I watched her grab the buckles and have the desire to try and do it herself. She excitedly got the first clip in and then she grabbed the second one and adjusted its angle a bit and got it in too!

She was motivated by my words of encouragement and words of teaching here. It challenged her, in a healthy way, to try and do it herself because it made her feel like she could. There have been many times before where she has tried and became frustrated and would cry out saying “I can’t do it!”

I find myself like this in my own life as well. When people speak life into me and teach me all the while encouraging me that I can do it, I thrive. I become motivated, even if it is a big challenge, someone spoke life into me and gave me some good teaching so it makes me want to step it up, to rise to the occasion, to give my all.

While learning to buckle a seatbelt isn’t exactly a spiritual feat or accomplishment, the method in which she gained the confidence in her ability to do so is the same in our spiritual lives.

But why? God gives us wisdom to speak and teach. If you were to read only part of James 3, you might wonder “Why should I even try to control my tongue, it seems impossible!”

And in a sense, it is, without God. You must read the entire context of this teaching James is giving. James talks about “wisdom from above” He starts out by talking about how only a perfect man can speak without abusing or misusing his words. With the tongue men both bless and curse but it shouldn’t be that way. Then James goes onto talk about wisdom. We either arrogantly speak, lie, and curse or we speak in a pure, gentle and peaceful manner.

As Christ followers, we have the opportunity to make a HUGE impact and difference in this world. It must be noted that I am not saying we are empowered in some self-sufficient manner or anything like that. Our words can be powerful and good only because of Jesus Christ being powerful and good.

Unfortunately, I have witnessed exactly what James mentions in this chapter (and I am not claiming perfection by any means) where we both bless and curse. I have heard full fledged professing Christians making statements that should never come out of our mouths.

Fortunately, I have had many Christians speak great things into me as well. We are to speak words of edification, meant to build people up, not cursing that brings people down. Rather than bring people down, telling them they are doing it wrong, or they have fallen short, or they aren’t really cut out to do that, let’s find ways to build them up and edify them in Christ.

There are things that I never felt like I could do. There have been times where people didn’t really speak life, wisdom and blessing into me that really created a huge hurdle in my life that made it difficult for me to feel like I could accomplish those things.

However, there have been times where I have been struggling in things where people speak bold confidence into my life that built me up strongly and I was able to accomplish things I never thought I could before.

I could have easily just buckled up Aubrey as I always do, or I could have said “its easy, just do it, can’t you figure it out?!” Neither of those things would have helped her in the situation she was in. Simple words of loving direction went miles with her.

That brings us to YOU: What will you do? Will you speak life or will you speak curses into those around you? Either thing will be powerful, but one will have a good outcome and the other not. So I urge you to speak positively into those around you, the impact will be larger than you ever could have imagined. YOU can do it! You have a life to live, and great things to accomplish through Christ.

I believe in You, so does Jesus Christ Your Lord and Savior, so go and do great things starting with the words you speak!

May the Lord Jesus Christ guide your words and your lives, in Jesus Name, amen.

This is something I have sat on for a long time. We don’t like to talk about our struggles, challenges, and disappointments in life. We feel like we don’t want to bring others down or seem like we are ungrateful for the good things we have going in our lives.

Sometimes we wrestle within ourselves about how people will perceive us if we share our true feelings about these kinds of experiences. Maybe people will think I am weak, maybe people will think I am unjustifiably bitter. Perhaps people will think I’ve turned my back on everything I’ve believed in because I have been “wronged one too many times”.

Unfortunately we have seen situations like that affect people in all of the above ways. This is the primary reason I am sitting down writing my thoughts on this.

I (when I say I, I mean myself, my wife, and my family/kids) have been through two very unfortunate, terrible, difficult, unfair, shocking and blindsiding job losses, both in churches.

Before I get into it any further: It is of the utmost importance that everyone hear this before you decide what I am trying to say before you hear what I say (We all do it, not a judgment, I just want you to know the heart in which I am writing this tonight). Even though I have been through these undesirable situations, I want you to know that never once did I question or get mad at God during either of these occurrences. I do not blame God, I am not upset with God, I don’t by any means believe that God “left me hanging” to get put through these harsh trials and difficult situations.

In addition to this, I still completely in belief of the purpose and the need for the local church bodies and for being an active part of local church bodies. I believe it is right and biblical. I will always be actively involved as part of a local church and encourage everyone out there to continue to do this themselves.

However, I do not want to hide the reality of what I have been through because I feel like hiding the reality of my struggles and trials is not going to help anyone but I do believe that being transparent in my real life experiences can be helpful to those out there who either have experienced, may experience, or have seen people close to them experience similar, unfortunate situations. I am only going to share situations directly linked to my experience, not that of others as I don’t want to speak for them, I want to share my experiences in the hopes that it will bring healing to many of you out there.

When I was fresh out of Bible college, I got my first job as a youth pastor. I was super excited, we got to stay close to home and I got to work in a church that I was excited about leading the youth in. Things started out great. I was getting my feet wet in ministry, I discovered the great love I had not only for pointing teenagers toward Christ but also my great passion for teaching the Word of God. The church was in a placing of needing healing and it was a great opportunity, but there were lots of things that were being rediscovered and what not.

Well, long story short, there were some difficult leadership changes which eventually led to me being on an island within the staff. Youth ministry was going GREAT! I was so amazed by the many great things God was doing. We had highs and lows, bumps along the way of growth and discerning the vision for the youth ministry there but we, through submission to God, reached a place where we were watching God do great things. We had 30-40 each Wednesday night for our full youth church type style of worship services and 50-60 kids on Sunday nights for our not so “small group” worship and Bible study nights. We pulled in kids from all over the community, both from the church and outside the church. We worshiped, studied God’s Word, had lots of food and fellowship, people were committing to Christ while worshiping on the front lawn because we grew too big for the living room, it was amazing. I give all the credit to God for that time because I just was seeking to be a willing set of hands and feet. God was faithful and it was amazing to see the great work God was doing.

Then came the first hit. We were so focused and into what God was doing in the youth of our church and community but never felt embraced or valued for the role we were serving in, which was difficult, but I didn’t feel insecure in my employment stability. After all, things were going well, was never insubordinate, and went above and beyond my role of just youth pastor to serve in other areas of the church, which I was glad to do. I have always viewed my pastoral ministry as a service to the whole church, not just the youth.

Then one day I was called to a meeting where I was read a letter telling me I was fired on the spot. However, I was asked to stay on staff for a few more weeks which is incredibly difficult but I did it because I cared so deeply for the teenagers we were ministering to. When it was announced to the congregation, we had people walk up to us and tell us “congratulations, it sounds like you are in a great place”.

That hurt. People didn’t get it, they still don’t, they don’t understand why we wouldn’t and won’t go to that church anymore. I get it, I know its a difficult thing for people to understand since they don’t know all of the details. I went out with grace because I had no desire in tearing apart a church as I believe that there are people there that God plans on touching the lives of and I am thankful for the lives God has touched through that church, even though I have some great disagreements with how things went down and some concerns for how things went on there, but I didn’t want to hurt them for there were (and still are) some great faithful Christ followers serving God there and I think that is great.

It hurt though, me, my wife. Its still rough today. This was the church my wife grew up in. That comes with a lot of difficulty. We have dealt with it and are firmly rooted in Christ but nonetheless, hard. Our calling as pastors was called into question because people didn’t think we were quite “passionate enough”. While I firmly believed in my call to ministry, I was in a place where I needed to provide for my family, so while I was looking for ministry positions, I was also looking for other types of work as I needed to provide for my family.

While the next year and a few odd months was difficult, God provided greatly during that time. Our 3rd child Aubrey was born, I got a job doing IT at Timberland Bank and while we didn’t have a lot of money, God met our needs. We were involved with an awesome church under our great friend and pastor Ryan McCullough. He and his family loved on us in such great ways during this time and really encouraged us like no one else had done for a long time.

Then I had a door open for a great opportunity to be a worship pastor. I have always (and still am) had a passion for worship, specifically the musical side of the worship service. We moved our entire family to Seattle and were extremely excited for this fresh start for our family and our calling to ministry. There first 6-12 months was a natural transition, learning the culture of the church, getting settled into everything.

I had built some great relationships with people on the staff, in the church and especially those who helped serve on the worship/tech team. I am so thankful for those key people who not only ministered alongside me in the worship ministry but also were great at ministering to and caring for me, they rock!

After about the 2 year mark, I Really felt like I had reached a great place (not a plateau type thing where we didn’t need to change or anything like that) where I had really embraced the team and congregation and the team/congregation had embraced me, we were unified and moving forward together and I was so thankful to hit this spot because I finally felt like those initial growing pains (healthy ones) and relationship building had gained firm foundation to the point where we could really start to thrive and move forward as the worship ministry in the church body.

Then I was called to another surprise meeting, out of no where. In this meeting I was asked to resign effective immediately and informed that I would never lead worship there again. They assured me that this was not because of any ethical or moral issues and also said it wasn’t anything negative like me being a slacker of a pastor or anything like that. They just suddenly came to the decision that they felt I was no longer going to work out there and I was done. I was never approached, never confided in, never asked, never “warned”, never asked to change or adapt. Nothing took place that was a red flag to make me think that my job was in jeopardy. And like that, in a flash, by total surprise, it was over.

I called and informed those I was closest to, who were just as shocked as I was. I was completely perplexed, as were the people I talked with, I had so much feedback from people saying they felt that the worship ministry was the best it had ever been and that it was really going in a positive direction.

Some leadership felt otherwise though. This was, by far, the most difficult situation I have experienced in my life. I was hurt, felt betrayed, and was in disbelief of what just took place. Once again I was committed to a church body and was invested in not just the worship ministry but the overall growth and future of the church and its staff, I truly cared for the congregation and the staff. I was excited for our future there and the future of the church there. This left me looking for a job again and most likely having to relocate (which we did, moving back to our home area).

The reality: I still am confused, perplexed and have a lot of unanswered question of why this happened, why this happened again, why there was no relationship involved in this. I wasn’t pastored through this, I wasn’t given opportunities to respond, grow, adapt, change, etc… They (there words, not mine) didn’t feel like there was anything I could do to change/grow enough to make it worth trying to make it work. They felt it better to just let me go and that was it. I never really heard from most of them there in the leadership. A couple of them reached out to me but for the most part it was a quick, clean cut on their end that left me in great pain and feeling lost because our entire family had rooted itself here.

Now, back to the purpose. Why do I share this? Did I share this to add fuel to the fire of anyone who has been burned by someone in a church? ABSOLUTELY NOT. In fact, its quite opposite of that.

Not the title: Being Content in All Things … The Apostle Paul said it so well in Philippians 4:11-13

11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

See, I have been through some difficult times in my life. Our marriage has been wonderful but in this 7 years so far, we have been through 2 extremely difficult job losses and as a result difficult transitions. However, here we are. Are we perfect? Far from it. Are we full of bitter hatred toward the “church”? Absolutely not. I still, perhaps more than ever, believe in the need and purpose of being part of a local body of believers.

We are very happy to be part of a local congregation here back home. In our few months of transition between losing my position at the church and moving back home, we also were part of an amazing church in the Renton area. It is a very large church but it is so evident of how much they care for not only the congregation but for all of the staff and pastors as well. They are committed to one another, through thick and through thin and are always encouraging one another in continued growth. It was really healing for Rhianna, the kids and I to be a part of this church, even though it was only for a few short months. God really revitalized a lot of things in what we were able to observe in that church and know that everyone who is a part of that church body is truly blessed.

The reason I shared this isn’t because it was easy but because I there to be a positive message out there in the midst of a lot of negativity that we witness daily in this world. I could have easily given up and turned my back on being a part of the church, but trust me when I say that this would have gained me nothing.

Its a reality of life that there are going to be highs and lows, good times and bad, times of abundance and times of little. Just like the Apostle Paul had experienced times where he had a lot and times where he was at pretty low points such as being under house arrest, and even going back to when he was seeking out Christians to oppress them as if they were the enemy. He was met by Christ and was committed to his journey of serving Christ, no matter what came his way. Paul didn’t walk away from his faith in Christ and the mission he was called to just when times got tough or when people around him

This is the same desire we have in our life. We’ve been through some rough times, but that in no way means that our ministry is over. It doesn’t mean that we have failed, it certainly doesn’t mean that God has failed. It doesn’t mean that the purpose of the church has failed. It means that we have had some unfortunate trials but this doesn’t damage my faith. Just as I committed to my beautiful wife through anything that is thrown at us, so I am committed to my relationship with Jesus Christ and faithfully serving Him wherever He may lead.

We love the church we are in and are excited to continue growing there and looking forward to the ways God is calling us to serve in and through that church body.

I want you to walk away from reading this with a positive outlook on the future you have ahead of you. Maybe you have experienced something similar, are going through a rough trial right now or know someone else who is. Remember that no matter what, God is for us. He believes in us. He has called us. He will give us strength to follow through and carry out that call He has so carefully and lovingly placed on our lives.

I shared the difficult and disappointing times of my life not to bring you down but to show you that in Christ we can do all things. We can be resilent, we can be forgiving, we can heal and move forward. I wrote a letter to the church telling them my pain but also being sure to express my forgiveness and my desire for them to grow and learn from the situation moving into the future. This doesn’t mean we are all hunky dory but it was necessary for me to do this to move on towards what God has for me and my family.

I pray that this helps you, encourages you, and strengthens you. Blessings.

In Christ,

Kyle

 

I thought it would be fitting for my first post to make a clear statement that any wisdom that might find its way into my life is not something I have created, earned, or achieved but wisdom that is given to me from my wonderful Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

I think it is important to recognize that we are in need of God’s wisdom in our lives and that need is very present in the world today with all that we see going on around us.

2 Chronicles 1 (NASB) starts out by making an unarguable note in regards to the fact that Solomon is strongly established as the ruler of his kingdom and that God ‘exalted him greatly’. Solomon and and a large group of leaders went on a journey to the tabernacle so they could offer sacrifices. That night, God came to Solomon and said to him “Ask what I shall give you”.

Can you imagine how you would respond to a question as strong as that? I hope I would answer in a similar manner to that of Solomon’s response. Solomon, who clearly already had a strong and healthy foundation of leadership as king could have taken an approach of “expand my kingdom to cover even a greater portion of the earth” or “increase my riches”, etc… When you are offered a “blank check” of sorts by God, what is it that really is important? Is it your possessions, how well known you are, how powerful you are, or is it to be the best person that God wants you to be?

See, Solomon was the king of a great nation and being a leader of a nation is not something he took lightly. He believed that he was there because of God’s plan and that there was a great reason for Solomon to be in the place that he was in. I love these words of Solomon in 2 Chronicles 8-10:

Solomon said to God, “You have dealt with my father David with great lovingkindness, and have made me king in his place. “Now, O LORD God, Your promise to my father David is fulfilled, for You have made me king over ba people as numerous as the dust of the earth.  “Give me now wisdom and knowledge, that I may go out and come in before this people, for who can rule this great people of Yours?”

Solomon recognized the great task he had in front of him and the great depth of knowledge and wisdom it would take to lead all of the people. He said “for who can rule this great people of yours?” Solomon started with the right attitude for he didn’t act like he was the most qualified or as if he had everything it takes to make the right decisions in regards to the people of Israel. He asked God to give him wisdom so that he could handle each individual decision as he goes out and comes in before the people.

Solomon recognized that it was going to take more than what he possessed to lead the nation of Israel so when offered a gift from God, he asked him for wisdom and knowledge in how to deal with the people.

How does this apply to us? Well, you (yes, you) must realize that God has an “Israel” of sorts for you. What I mean by this is that just as Solomon was charged with leading the people of Israel, so are you called and charged to lead people in your life. In order to effectively navigate this life, we need God’s wisdom. Therefore, I want you to first recognize that God has a great plan, call, and appointment for your life. He wants to use you in many ways in your family, with your friends, at your place of employment, and in the passions that He gives to you.

We must, in recognition of this great calling we have from Christ, ask Him to give us wisdom and knowledge in how to effectively walk and speak in His wisdom and knowledge so that we can truly make a difference in this world. If we were to try and do this on our own, we would fall flat on our face, even if it seems like we have “success”. In order to truly impact this world for Christ and to make a difference with those who God calls us to lead, we must always fall to our knees in humility, recognizing and asking God to give us the wisdom and knowledge to do what is needed to meet the needs of those out in the world.

Lord, help us all to recognize that we both have a great calling to touch the lives of the people in this world and that with that great calling comes the requirement of great wisdom, knowledge, and sensitivity in how to deal with sharing with these people about You Jesus. So today Lord we pray that you give us this wisdom and knowledge daily in order to effectively reach those around us, in Your Name we pray Jesus, Amen.