Posts Tagged ‘Luke’

The Prodigal Son

Monday we looked at God is love and that we are his children.

Today we are asked to consider the Prodigal Son.

“There is a story about a father with two sons in Luke 15:11-32…. First Read the Bible passage.

What do you think about the Father in the story? All that the father wanted was to have his bad son returned home. He waited and waited until the som came back home. He didn’t get angry about the wrong things that his son had done. He didn’t rebuke Him either. He welcomed the son when he repented and returned:  he welcomed him back to his family.”

The first question – what do I think about the father in the story?

One of the dangers of reading a parable is reading too much into it. Parables have one central point and the characters work to draw out this point. We can’t attempt to line up every event and find a spiritual application to it. This parable is good example for this.

What do I think of the father? At first he seems a weak and foolish man. He gives away a portion of his money to his greedy, demanding son who can’t wait for his father to die to get his hands on his inheritance.

The father seems to mature but too late and is filled with hope and regret. He doesn’t know where his son is and can only stand and look for the son. His actively waiting does seem to establish a pattern of resentment within the older son. Who has stayed and been obedient.

When the younger son returns. The father throws a party to welcome the son home causing the older son to explode in action. The father explains his actions and surprise at the older son’s answer. Finally he promises that everything he has will go to the older son.

But that really isn’t the point of the parable, is it? The main points of the story are the fall and return of a first wicked then repenting son and how the son is welcomed home.

What do I think about the father in this light? Loving and embracing, patient, forgiving, hopeful, expectant

Now if we continue in our lesson

He waited and waited…. this is one thing God does not do. God doesn’t wait for us to come home. We are dead, we don’t move. God doesn’t hope we repent, he leads us to repentance. God doesn’t hope that one day we will change, he is the reason we change.

He didn’t get angry – true the father didn’t. But our Heavenly Father does. If you aren’t sure, ask Moses who was kept out of Israel for hitting a stone instead of speaking to it. Ask David about his son’s death. Ask Peter when he said in essnence “Don’t die. We don’t want you to go.”

The point I am making in all of this. God is in many ways like the prodigal son’s father but he isn’t identical.

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Deuteronomy 23:1 – 25:19

Notable Verse 23:23

“Whatever your lips utter you must be sure to do, because you made your vow freely to the LORD your God with your own mouth.”

There is a joke I heard at an A.A. meeting that went “How do you know an alcoholic is lying? His lips are moving.” I am sure you have heard the same joke with either an addict or some other personality or occupation put in the slot.

We no longer expect the truth. We know politicians lie; commercials exaggerate their product’s claims. We don’t consider it lying any more. It is just how the game is played. God has a different view of speaking though. Our words carry weight and when we make promises, especially vows, God expects us to keep them even if they come at a great cost.

It is interesting to note that God doesn’t command us to make vows, but when we do, when we call upon the Lord to be a witness to our words, we are asking God to be a part of the promise. God is not a liar and He will not allow himself to be used by a liar.


Luke 10:13 – 37

Notable Verse v. 29

“But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

This is a very familiar verse to most Christians and is the beginning to the Parable of the Good Samaritan. Over the centuries the question has been asked again and again to either justify apathy or to encourage anger.

I guess my neighbor is anyone I encounter, but the verse seems to point to something deeper. My neighbor includes the one person who is least like me, or the one I least like. So in no particular order or assigned grouping a few of my neighbors:

Muslims: Quite honestly they scare me. There are 1 billion of them. It is said 10% are of the radical variety.  That is 100 million or 1/3 of the total population of the U.S. That is a pretty big number. My chances of running into a radical are 1/10. Would I bind their wounds, take them into my house? I’d like to think that I would but being a Messianic American Jew, it would take supernatural effort to move past my own prejudices to do that.

My co-workers and family: How do I share the gospel and the reality of hell with people I work with and are family with? I am too worried about hurting their feelings then saving their lives.

As I read through this passage, I’d like to imagine that I am the Samaritan, but there are times I know I am the Pharisee, speaking well and running away lest I be seen and feel obligated to do something.


Psalm 75:1 – 10

Notable Verse v. 3

“When the earth and all its people quake, it is I who hold its pillars firm. Selah”

The world is quaking. We are in an economic recession. There are terrorists all over the world despite what Obabo (ok, Obama) wants to call it. Depending on who you talk to, we may be getting warmer, or colder. Nothing seems stable.

It is nice to know that no matter how crazy the world gets, there is something firm to hang on to.


Proverbs 12:12 – 14

Notable Verse v. 13

“An evil man is trapped by his sinful talk, but a righteous man escapes trouble.”

Recently I did a study on all of the things you can do wrong with your mouth. You can lie, gossip, backbite, blaspheme, break promises, spread dissention, speak out of bitterness and anger and a whole lot more. Each sin traps us. Either within ourselves, or locks us out of developing deeper and more meaningful relationships with others.

I discovered after reading this verse and meditating on my tongue. I realized I need to shut up a lot more often.

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Deuteronomy 21:1 – 22:30

Notable Verse 22:6-7

“If you come across a bird’s nest beside the road, either in a tree or on the ground, and the mother is sitting on the young or on the eggs, do not take the mother with the young.  7  You may take the young, but be sure to let the mother go, so that it may go well with you and you may have a long life.”

The reading today is a collection of assorted laws that seem to have to particular rhyme or reason for being collected the way they are other than that is how God to choose to write it. Today I read, or we if you are following along, how to handle discovering a dead body, rules on home building and clothing and in the middle of all of this is a very interesting pair of verses.

What caught my eye this morning was the end of verse 7. The blessing of taking the chick but leaving the mother is neither for her benefit, nor in some ecological roundabout way a blessing towards the earth. It is a personal blessing.  God seems to have a special place in His heart for mothers, even animal mothers. And damaging that relationship, even in what seems to be a very trifling way brings about disastrous consequences.


Luke 9:51-10:12

Notable Verse 9:62

“Jesus replied, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”

Sometimes it seems life is full of backward glances. I guess that is just part of being human. I don’t think God disapproves of taking stock of our lives as a whole. But this verse seems to link all the way back to Lot’s wife. The consequences for her were immediate and deadly, the consequence of a look back towards earth. We may not experience the results of looking back as quickly as Mrs. Lot, but the end result is just as deadly.

Every time I turn the dimmer switch to the light I am to shine to the world out of embarrassment, fear, or awkwardness I am declaring myself unfit for God’s service. This verse is leading me to repent and seek more courage. I hope it does for you as well.


Psalm 74:1-23

Notable Verse: v. 22

“Rise up, O God, and defend your cause; remember how fools mock you all day long.”

I cringed reading this today. I subscribe to about 400 blogs (where do you think all of the H&D stuff comes from?) Every day, I get news from around the world that is just insane. Not merely atheistic, but intentionally going out of its way to make fun of God and His people.

Take a Gay Pride March as an example, not because I think it is the worst thing a person can do, but because the characters that are often seen there are most noticeable in what I am saying. In almost every newspaper or magazine there are the “Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence”, men dressed as nuns with overly done makeup, and have turned the habit itself into something trashy. Isn’t it enough to simply march and say “I’m gay, deal with it.” Why is there such a strong attack on the Catholic Church? Why is there such a need to mock?

Daily I get pictures of Jesus as a Pedophile, God as an ignorant fool, Bibles with warning labels (not to be taken literally or you will become stupid) and I wonder like David did, how long until His wrath is poured out. All God did was promise never to flood the earth again, there are many more ways to destroy a nation. Perhaps we are seeing this now.


Proverbs 12:11

 “He who works his land will have abundant food, but he who chases fantasies lacks judgment.”

What is there to say? Stop dreaming, wake up and smell the coffee.

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Deuteronomy 18:1 – 20:20

Notable Verse 18:2 “They shall have no inheritance among their brothers; the LORD is their inheritance, as he promised them.


The whole tribe of Levi got nothing, at least in the eyes of the people. Nothing physical at any rate. The tribe were to consider God Himself their inheritance. It struck me reading this how much families can feud over who gets what, why an individual got a certain item that another wanted. What would happen if every Christian said to their family “Don’t bother leaving me anything, God is my inheritance, it is enough.”  It would be a fantastic witness to the world, but I can’t help fearing the reality of this situation.


Is doing this putting God to the test, something like playing with poisonous snakes? Would God be pleased with this action or would he say “A different time, a different place, a different reason”?


Rabbit  Trail Warning: In reading the Bible it seems that the priests always got the short end of the stick. No land, no inheritance, there were more stringent rules on their conduct and actions. It seems that most Christians live that way. 70+ countries have made Christianity illegal, evangelism forbidden. Most of the world lives in a post-Christian, never been Christian or Christians driven out land. We are constantly being asked to trust God as a father who may or may not provide for our needs, at least material ones. If that seems harsh, what can we tell the North Korean Christian living in a concentration camp, a Sudanese believer living in slavery, a starving Christian mother praying for milk for one more day and being denied? I don’t know what to do with this. Christians are constantly being judged to a different standard. Imagine a Christian who has an affair. The world screams “hypocrite” but has no problem with serial monogamy or sleeping around. If they have no problem with it for themselves, why should they be bothered by people who strive for an ideal they can’t meet. If it is a problem, why do they do the activity themselves. What do Christians really inherit of value? Nothing and everything.


Yet, despite my doubts, I would love to tell my family. You don’t need to leave me anything. I have God, what more could I need?


Luke 9:28 – 50

Notable Verse v. 45 “But they did not understand what this meant [Jesus just said he was going to be betrayed]. It was hidden from them, so they did not grasp it, and they were afraid to ask him about it.


Here is a very interesting interplay between God and man. God (Jesus reveals truth), yet it was hidden from them (Holy Spirit?) and the Apostles decide not to ask what he means. Who is responsible for their ignorance.?


Beyond the issue of God and/or man, there is the issue of the desire for ignorance itself. How many times have we, have I, asked God to show me something only to be terrified that He actually would. “Show me my sins.” “Show me how I can share the gospel more effectively.” “Teach me to trust and walk in greater obedience.” or the most terrifying prayer for Christians “Lord, teach me patience.”


Why would God hide the whole truth from them? Probably for the same reason God doesn’t show me all of my sin at once. I don’t think I could really handle it.  I’d like to think I was brave enough to survive, but I don’t know if I could. The Apostles must have felt the same way.  The man they have trusted in, left everything to follow, they had seen many miracles, had put their hopes on just told them He was going to die. I don’t know if I would be ready to learn more or stay in denial and hope that the idea goes away


Psalm 73:1 -28

Notable Verse v.13 “Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure; in vain I have washed my hands in innocence.”


I would like to think it is only children who say things like “It’s not fair!!!!” but let’s face it, we all do it. I imagine this comment is especially for true for Christians. We are constantly fighting an uphill stream against a world that at best thinks we are a bit backwards and crazy if not purposefully trying to shut down our voices.


It does seem that purity has little value. Imagine a gathering of co-workers on a Monday morning. One man is sharing in far too much detail about his weekend sexual adventures. Another is talking about a great party where alcohol flowed like water and everyone got wasted. Another is dishing out the new weeks gossip, another on how using “creative accounting” she was able to avoid paying taxes from her income. Finally it is your turn – “um…. Saturday I went to a prayer breakfast and met a friend for lunch… Sunday, I went to church….The pastor said something really interesting.” I can feel the embarrassment and shame leaping off the page. 


Luckily there is more to the story. Like the passage from Deuteronomy, God is our inheritance and our portion. We don’t have to compete, we shouldn’t even try. The ungodly, will have their day, either in this world or the world to come. There are quiet benefits in obedience, even if we can’t always see them and when we can’t feel them


Proverbs 12:10

“A righteous man cares for the needs of his animal; but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel.


I remember when I was a teenager coming to the odd realization, or at least was able to put into words, very few people do evil for the sake of evil. Almost everyone had what seemed to them a perfectly logical reason for doing what they did. I remember being and I guess I still am intrigued by this.


The first idea that popped into my head as I read this passage today was the idea of abortion. Ask someone who supports abortion rights why and you will hear many reasons like being concerned about overpopulation, the rise in poverty, not able to care for a child, the child will have massive birth defects etc… and the list can go on. But in the end, what do you have? A dead baby and a woman dealing with the aftermath of killing her own child.


I would love to keep this verse as an “out there in the world problem” but how often do we do the same thing. How much do we justify our sins, just as evil, on a daily basis.


 Even the “best” of things can be done for the wrong intentions and is an act of cruelty. Let’s say I volunteer to do something at church like teach Sunday school. I really don’t care about the people, but I want to move up in the church hierarchy and know this is a good place to start. In the end, the people get a teacher that doesn’t care about them. I see them as something to be stepped over or on to achieve something I believe is for the greater good, me having power.


(btw, this is not the reason I teach Sunday school.  🙂 )


The second thing that hit me in this verse was the saying of Jesus regarding the care of “the least of these” The proof of goodness is not in how we treat our superiors, or our equals. The proof is in how we care for the weakest and frailest among us.

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Key Passage

“Jesus told them this story: “No person takes cloth off a new coat to cover a hole on an old coat. Why? Because he ruins the new coat, and the cloth from the new coat will not be the same as the old cloth. People never pour new wine into old wine bags. Why? Because the new wine will break the bags, and the wine will spill out and the wine bags will be ruined. People always put new wine into new wine bags.””

— Luke 5:36-38 (Read Full Text)


Key Thought

Jesus’ point is clear. Don’t try to limit God’s new life in Christ. Don’t try to contain it with your old religious categories. Don’t try to dilute it with your old religious practices. Jesus brings something new. Celebrate it. Enjoy its blessings. Be challenged by its demands and rejoice in its promises. But don’t ever try to simply attach it to what you had before. The call of Christ is new, fresh, and all encompassing. Begin each day with fresh eyes and new ears with the expectation that the Lord will do something you have never seen or expected. You won’t feel safe. It won’t be predictable. But, it will be marvelous!



Forgive me, dear Father, for limiting the awesome power you have brought me in Jesus. Open my mind and my heart and my eyes and my ears so that I can imagine more fantastically, believe more completely, see more fully, and hear more richly all that you have done, are doing, and will do in my life in Jesus. It is in his name I pray. Amen.


Related Scriptures

“From this time on we don’t think of any person like the world thinks of people. It is true that in the past we thought of Christ like the world thinks. But we don’t think that way now. If any person is in Christ, then that person is made new. The old things have gone; everything is made new! All this is from God. Through Christ, God made peace between us and himself. And God gave us the work of bringing people into peace with him.”

2 Corinthians 5:16-18

“With God’s power working in us, God can do much, much more than anything we can ask or think of. To him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus for all time, forever and ever. Amen.”

Ephesians 3:20-21

“Yes, God is working in you. God helps you want to do the things that please him. And he gives you the power to do these things.”

Philippians 2:13


From What Jesus Did

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Numbers 24:1 – 25:18

Notable Verses Numbers 24: 12 – 13

Num 24:12  Balaam answered Balak, “Did I not tell the messengers you sent me, 13  “Even if Balak gave me his palace filled with silver and gold, I could not do anything of my own accord, good or bad, to go beyond the command of the LORD—and I must say only what the LORD says’?

Balaam is an interesting character. He is not a believer in Israel’s God, nor is he even friendly to them. A pagan king sends for him to curse Israel using black magic. But he can’t do it. Along his travels, he encounters an angel and the final result we can see above.

Balaam wasn’t a believer and sought out Israel’s destruction. Yet, he is being used by God. This is a difficult and frustrating passage. He was prevented from speaking what he wanted and was controlled at some level by God to be used for his purposes. He spoke what God said to. Despite all of this knowledge, and even spirit-given power, he never bowed his knee.


Luke 2:1 – 35

Notable Verse Luke 2:34 – 35

Luk 2:34  Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 35  so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

A blessing with one hand and a slap with the other, as strong as the blessing was, so too was the curse. Jesus did cause the falling and rising of many people in Israel, and interestingly enough it wasn’t the people who you would have expected to rise and or fall. Jesus was spoken against to say the least. His teaching eventually got him killed. His name is still being used as a curse, His words still are spoken against and His believers are still being killed and imprisoned daily. He has for 2000 years shown the hearts of people who encounter Him, either with acceptance or rejection. Mary’s soul was pierced at Jesus’ death, and even before that, Mary must have suffered believing her own son was mentally unstable and revealing her own thoughts in the process.


Psalm 59:1-17

Notable Verse 59:17

O my Strength, I sing praise to you; you, O God, are my fortress, my loving God.

Not much to say, but what a beautiful verse on the power, character, and beauty of God.

Proverbs 11:14

For lack of guidance a nation falls, but many advisers make victory sure.

As we are in the midst of a global economic crisis, I can’t help but apply this verse to the situation. Aren’t we all saying “Who is giving him or her advice?” But that really is the wrong question. Advice and guidance aren’t really the same thing. Advice is usually based on gut reactions and feelings and can be either taken or left, while guidance implies a life-challenging teaching.

Why are we falling? Not because of leaders, but the lack of true guidance and simply running on focus group numbers, gut feelings, “wouldn’t it be nice…?” dreams.

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Pastor Nick Hitting Hard

Rejection is a very confusing experience. Assuming we have some form of self-esteem we love ourselves to some level. Even suicidal people have so much love for themselves that they would rather die than experience more pain. It is a warped self-protection. If we love ourselves that much, that we would die for ourselves, it is hard to imagine someone being mean to us.

What is even stranger is being rejected for some reason that you can’t help – like your country of birth, skin color, mental or physical abilities.

Yet the strangest rejection of all is being rejected because of someone else. “Imagine your boss coming in and saying. I don’t like your brother so I am going to dock your pay.” How many of us would gladly deny even having a brother to keep that 50 bucks? How many of us would just assume it was a joke, I mean after all who lives like that, really?

The sad fact is, when it comes to evangelism, sometimes even wearing the name Christian, the world does exactly that. They hate Jesus and being his brothers and sisters we will encounter and should expect such reactions.

How are we to handle such rejection – like Peter, who denied Jesus to maybe stand closer to a fire? Betray Jesus like Judas? Maybe simply run away like the boy in the Garden, who was willing to loose his clothes and run naked away rather than stand with Jesus. 

This Sunday we learned that we need to simply shake the dust off and move on. We can’t take the rejection personally. When we are rejected, our message is rejected, the sad truth is, they aren’t rejecting us, they are rejecting Jesus. Sad because rejecting Him comes with the price tag of eternal damnation.

Rather than going into self-pity mode, or get angry (both of which I am prone to do) we need to feel compassion and pity for those rejecting the message. Little Jesus meek and mild said it would be better to have lived in Sodom on the day of its destruction than to reject him. What is sadder than that?

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Pastor Nick Hitting Hard

Wipe the dust off your feet

As I read through this passage, what struck me is the harshness of it. What Jesus is saying, is taking nothing from these people, the people who reject Christ, not even the dust.

It seems to be the ultimate act of rejection. The passage doesn’t read as an “Oh well, at least I tried” message. There are severe consequences for rejecting Christ and rejecting his messengers, both in this life and the life to come. If Jesus tells you that Sodom will be better off than you in the final day, you better do some hard thinking.

The passage isn’t saying “Go look for a fight.” Or enjoy the moment when you can guilt-freely say “Go to Hell.” But it is not a “Little Jesus meek and mild either.” Jesus means business. And he means for us to do business as well.

As I think through this point, I am trying to remember the last time I shook the dust off my sandals with anyone. The fact is, I can’t and I am ashamed. If I haven’t alienated, offended, or irritated someone with my faith, I haven’t been expressing it loud enough or strong enough.

It hits me reading this there are a few truths to be gotten from these verses.

1.   You go. You don’t stay in your comfort zone with only Christians around you.

2.   You speak the truth, not platitudes.

3.   You speak the full truth. No one likes mentioning hell, or the judgment to come, but it is just as true as the fact that Christ came into the world to save sinners.

4.   You will be rejected and it seems just at a quick glance, that it should happen more than once. There is not a feeling of “If it didn’t work for you, maybe you weren’t supposed to be an evangelist.” Guess what, if we are Christians we are already evangelists. Maybe not paid for it, maybe not known for it, maybe not even be good at it. That isn’t the point.

5.   We don’t stay where we are not wanted.

6.   Evangelism is straight-forward here. “There isn’t a become friends and plant seeds, maybe in another couple months water it, and in a few years maybe the person will come around.”  Friendship evangelism is done with people who were open to the first message, perhaps not believing but not shutting you out either.

7.   We move on. Simply we not only go, but we go again and again and again and….

Just some thoughts.

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Pastor Nick Hitting Hard

Peace Was Jesus’ Ministry

Peace has gathered some ugly baggage over the years. Peace has gone from an image of silence gathered around the newspaper, TV or radio whispering to each other “Have you heard? Did you hear?” to the image of screaming fanatics (think Code Pink), unwashed Hippies and groovy signs carried by protesters who somehow believe that their sign will be the one to change the hearts of all men (Wake up and smell the coffee).

If we step back from the most recent peace images we can see how Jesus fits the first image much better. Everywhere he went news went before him “Have you heard? He’s coming!” and after he left “Did you hear, he came and guess what he did? He forgave my sins! He healed me!”

Jesus’ ministry was all about peace, not creating peace that could win a Nobel Prize, but a peace that could win you eternity. Man is evil, every drop of sweat from every effort done, even a good one has the mark of evil in it. Am I saying that man is as bas he could be, not at all. What I am saying is a bit different.

Imagine a bottle of water. Now sprinkle in 1 tablespoon of rat poison. Shake until all of the poison has been dissolved. Now drink it. No, why not, the water is not completely saturated with poison. We don’t drink it because we know every swallow would kill us. Poison does not need to be concentrated to kill, neither does sin.

Because man is evil, man has three enemies: God, other people, and himself. God can’t look at sin, wants nothing to do with sin or sinful people. We being evil want nothing to do with him unless it is on our own terms; for example, the God-is-Santa idea that he knows when I am bad or good, but gives me presents anyway heresy.

We are at war with other people. We don’t want to see them succeed, especially when it comes at our expense. We are willing to give, but only from our horded stockpiles. If you want to see how peaceful man is by himself, hang out at a hippie blog and say “I am a conservative Christian” and see how long the tolerance crowd remains so. Let’s face it, man is only at peace with those he agrees with and even then, it can change at the drop of a hat.

We are also at war with ourselves. As someone who has spent years dealing with depression, chronic illness and pain, and two suicide attempts I can tell you a little bit about how man’s war with himself. My mind and body both rage against me daily.

For those of you who are Christians, you know how Jesus can bring peace in all of these areas. If you are not a Christian, I hope I have peaked your curiosity to know more. I would love to tell you more how you can have peace even in the midst of storms. I am no expert, but if you want to know more about peace with Jesus please e-mail me, talk to me after church, call me. You can reach me at hey.keith@gmail.com.

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Pastor Nick Hitting Hard

Pastor Nick Hitting Hard

3. Wild Enough to Surrender the Present

Extended meaning of “family” in v.61
= what I enjoy right now

= my comfort zone
= friendly environment
= I’m-in most-likely-welcomed circumstances
= my pleasant present


I don’t know if many of you will understand this. I am over 40 and single (but not for long J). I don’t often hear the word “NO” in my life. As long as I am not late for class, I can get up when I want. I can go to sleep when I want, buy what I want, clean the house or not if the mood hits. In general, I have a very large comfort zone.

This is true in my Christian life as well. I have a comfortable but largely non-evangelistic relationship with many of my co-workers: some are simply hedonists, others Buddhist, some Confucian, some I simply don’t know.

As Pastor Nick spoke, I was confronted at how large my comfort zone had become, how little I was willing to risk in sharing the gospel with others. How little I have shared with even my own family about my faith and what it means to me. I tell them I preach, that I want to start a leadership training school in the Philippines, but how little they know about what Jesus means to me and why. I am ashamed.

There is little I can write on this section of the sermon other than say I will strive to be better, break down the walls the protect and defend my comfort and follow Jesus even when I know it “ain’t gonna’ be pretty.” I invite you to walk this path with me.

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