If you are looking for my blog titled, The Contemplative Catholic Convert, you are at the right spot.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

The One in the Middle

I posted this a few years ago. This is a good time to revisit it:
----------------
Two men hung between heaven and earth, nailed to crosses on either side of the One in the middle. Two men, thieves, struggling against death, knowing it was only a matter of hours before death sunk its talons into their flesh.  
One thief, even in the midst of dying, joined his voice to the crowd as they mocked, cursed and blasphemed the Stranger in the middle.

There is a lesson in that thief for all of us, for we also always have a choice to join the crowd, to follow the popular, the politically correct, the praised. We always have a choice to enter the wide gate toward the broad way, or the small gate and the narrow way. We always have a choice to turn from the Savior. We always have a choice to believe His words or reject them. 

But the other thief would have none of the mockery. What are you doing? He rebuked the first thief. “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.” 

And then he did what everyone must do at some time in their life. Rather, he did what everyone must do over and over and over again throughout their life: He acknowledged his sin, which is nothing less than agreeing with God that we are wrong in what we have done, and He is right for requiring of us something better. It’s called being humble before God. It’s called repentance. 

Repentance does amazing things in and for our soul. It lifts us to where Jesus hangs between heaven and earth, face to face with His nailed and bloodied body – brutalized because of our sins. As the Hebrew prophet Isaiah foretold centuries earlier, He was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his bruises we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have all turned to our own way, and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:5-6). 

Repentance frees us from ourselves. It frees us from our arrogance that binds us to eternal death. Repentance teaches us humility, unveils our fleeting mortality – and our desperate need for an eternal savior. Yes, repentance even brings us into an intimate relationship with the King of Glory, a relationship reserved only for the penitent. 

So the good thief turned to the One no longer a stranger in the middle and pleaded, Jesus, remember me when you come into Your kingdom.” The dying man recognized Jesus had a kingdom and Jesus was Lord in His kingdom. 

And the thief wanted to be there with his Lord.

“Jesus, remember me when you come into Your kingdom.” The man spoke less than a dozen words. But short prayers from the heart are far more efficacious than long soliloquies without humility. 

Jesus, remember me. 

Yes, Jesus is Lord of His kingdom, but the critical question I routinely ask myself is this: Is Jesus lord of my kingdom? Am I on the throne of my heart, or is He? Do I daily seek to follow in His footsteps, to go where He wants me to go, to stay where He wants me to stay, to willingly do His bidding . . . or am I more likely to go my own way, on my own path and through doors of my choosing? 

Jesus, remember me. 

Oh, how the King loves to hear our plea born in a penitent heart – and it is always true, what He said to the penitent thief, He promises also to us: Truly I say to you . . . you shall be with Me in Paradise."

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Only What's Done For Christ

I published this several years ago. I thought it good to recycle it now with only a tiny update:
-------------

. . . for no one can lay a foundation other than the one that is there, namely, Jesus Christ.  If anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, or straw, the work of each will come to light . . . (1 Cor 3:11-13).

From my seat toward the front of the auditorium, I could see Linda’s eyes water. “Has it really been twenty-eight years?” She seemed to ask it more of herself than of those gathered at her retirement ceremony. Decades of conflicts and triumphs, of paperwork piles and project deadlines, of exhilarating new tasks and the lumbering routine of others blended into a half-forgotten dream.

After the framed certificate, the engraved plaque, and the punch and cookies in the foyer, life will move on. Younger employees will step into her varied roles, and the organization will continue with business as usual.

“I thought this day would never come.” She tried to smile.  “But here it is.”

While Linda spoke, my mind drifted to the many times I’ve said, “I thought this day would never come”?  How many important events passed before I knew they were close upon me? Birthdays, graduations, weddings, births, more weddings, more births. My life has moved almost seamlessly from sunrise to sunset, seasons to years, anticipating one milestone and then another. All the while I’ve been too busy to notice the calendar pages disappear like vapors in the wind.

I don’t often think about my final milestone. I still hope to enjoy many more graduations, weddings and births before I start thinking much about that particular day. Yet, when it comes, will the decades of my life also seem as a brief moment? The conflicts, the joys, the deadlines, the routines . . . I know life will move on without me.

When Linda received her plaque, I wondered what kind I will receive when I stand before the Great Cloud of Witnesses (see Hebrews 12:1).  Will it be engraved with the names of those whom I have touched during my service for the Master? Or will it be an empty testimony of misplaced priorities during my earth-bound journey?

As I draw nearer to my sixty-ninth birthday – 69!  Oh, how the years have flown – As I draw near, those questions whisper from the corners of my thoughts with increasing urgency. Life really is shorter than I realize, and everything I now consider so important -- money, popularity, passions, career -- will smolder on that day like charred timbers after a house fire.

When the day I thought would never come finally arrives, I want to hear more than pleasant words at a ceremony. I want to enjoy more than punch and cookies in the foyer. I want to hear from the men and women standing with me before His throne, “Thank you for using your time, your talents, your resources to tell me about the Savior.”  And oh, how I want to hear from the lips of the King of Glory, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your Lord” (See Matthew 25:21).

What are you doing with your life for your Lord? I don't at all mean to throw a guilt-trip on anyone. Really, I don't.  But it 'is' a question that needs an answer.

Like I said -- and as you already know: Life is short. Be careful what you do with it.


Tuesday, April 9, 2019

What Do We Do?


This has got to be one of the saddest verses in the Bible:



“Nevertheless, many even of the rulers believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they were not confessing Him, for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God. (John 12:42-43)



A sad verse, but there are others like it. For example, a few chapters earlier in chapter nine we find the story of the blind man. After Jesus healed him, the religious leaders asked his parents if the man really was his son – and if he had REALLY been born blind.



Now the sad part:



“We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; but how he now sees, we do not know; or who opened his eyes, we do not know. Ask him; he is of age, he will speak for himself.” His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews; for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone confessed Him to be Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue. For this reason his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.” (John 9:20-23)



Craving other’s approval over God’s, or fear of being ostracized because of our relationship with the Savior, were not reactions limited to the first century. We find the same cravings and fears all around us – even in the Church.



As I type this onto my screen, a simple song we sang in the 70s comes to mind:



“I have decided to follow Jesus;
I have decided to follow Jesus;
I have decided to follow Jesus;
No turning back, no turning back.”



“Though none go with me, I still will follow;
Though none go with me, I still will follow;
Though none go with me, I still will follow;
No turning back, no turning back.”



“The world behind me, the cross before me;
The world behind me, the cross before me;
The world behind me, the cross before me;
No turning back, no turning back.”



Please read those lyrics one more time. As you do, think about those two texts in John’s gospel. We ought to ask ourselves – and be quiet enough to hear in our hearts our answer:



“What do I do with Jesus when following Him interferes with my social life?”


Saturday, April 6, 2019

The Sifting


But Jesus, on the other hand, because He continues forever, holds His priesthood permanently. Therefore, He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.  (Hebrews 7:24-25)



Just before the mob arrested Jesus and subsequently crucified Him, Jesus said to Peter: “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail. (Luke 22:31-32)



Peter is not the only person Satan has ever picked on. The Serpent’s plan has always been – since the Garden of Eden – to destroy as many of God’s children as he can.



Don’t think you’re alone in your wilderness. Satan may have demanded permission sift you like wheat, but your High Priest Jesus is praying for you. Even now as you read this.



Be encouraged. The omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent Lord of Creation not only knows your struggle, He is there with you in your struggle, guiding you, protecting you, interceding for you that your faith not fail – but rather be strengthened.



As hard as it might seem at the moment, keep drawing near to Him, even if it is inches at a time. Trust your Savior. He has not deserted you.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Every Word


When the Lord Jesus said “man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God,” He actually meant ‘every’ word that comes out of the mouth of God.  

Every word, from Genesis through Revelation. Not just the ones that make us comfortable. Not just the ones we agree with. Every word, including those that make us uncomfortable; The ones that make us squirm; Those that make us feel guilty; The ‘thou shalts’ and the ‘thou shalt nots.’

And neither is His word now – nor has it ever been – subject to changes in cultures, or the opinions of learned clerics, educators, priests, teachers, judges, or kings.

Little wonder, God urges all humanity – perhaps especially the average person like you and me: “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15). And again: “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16)

If consistent reading of the Bible seems a gargantuan challenge, do a quick internet search to find Bible-reading plans, any of which will reduce what at first seems an impossible task to an enjoyable and spiritually edifying one. Use key words such as ‘Bible reading plans.’ Dozens of one-year, two-year, and even three-year plans will populate your screen.

Or take a look at mine at: http://tinyurl.com/y9nh5zb8

It will forever be true: “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever.” (Isaiah 40:8)


Monday, April 1, 2019

That it Might Not Fail


Jesus . . . was led around by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days. (Luke 4:1) 

The context of this text is our Lord’s wilderness trial. An important point – a crucial point that cannot be overemphasized – is that Jesus was NEVER alone during His trial. The Holy Spirit was with Him every moment. 

So why do so many Christians think they are alone as they journey through their own deserts? As God was with His Son in that wilderness, do we think He is not with us in ours? 

Christian, Listen! God is a loving, compassionate, and protective Abba Father. Of course the Holy Spirit leads us – as He led Jesus – all the way through our desert and right into the Savior’s embrace. 

This point cannot be overemphasized. The enemy of our souls wants us to think God has forsaken us, that He set us down in the center of our nightmares and disappeared to another side of the universe. 

Not only is that a demonic lie, it should not surprise us to hear it in our thoughts. Remember what Jesus said of Satan, He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44) 

You and I need to stop listening to his lies. 

God promised us multiple times throughout Scripture: “I will never leave you. I will never forsake you.” Here is what He tells us through the prophet Isaiah: “Can a woman forget her nursing child and have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you. “Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands . . .” (Isaiah 49:15-16)

Christian, Listen! Jesus has inscribed you and me on the palms of His hands. Your name, my name, those of our family members, our neighbors, our friends – all indelibly carved into Jesus’ flesh by the spikes hammered into His hands by those Roman soldiers.

We are never alone. Never. Not when we lose a spouse, or a child, or a grandchild. Not when the doctor tells us there is no hope for recovery. We are not alone when we look at our wheelchair, or walker, and remember the years when we were vigorous and strong and independent. We are not alone when we look at our rapidly dwindling savings. We’re not alone when no one calls us anymore, when people we love forget our birthday, or anniversary, or some other special day in the calendar. 

There is not a Christian in any pew who has not slogged many times through a wilderness. And I don’t think we fully understand how important it is to do prayer battle for each other, and to encourage one another every day. 

Why else would the Holy Spirit urge us: “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:23-25) 

I’ve only recently realized our prayer list should be the length and breadth of a book. Yes, a book. 

It should be filled with names of people we know, and names of people we learn about from others. We should pray that their faith in their wilderness – whatever that wilderness might be – that it not be shaken, but rather strengthened. 

During the 46 years I’ve walked with the Lord, I’ve observed some typical steps that signal faltering faith. They go something like this: 

Step one: The battles leave us bleeding and bruised. We continue to pray, but our prayers become lackluster. We no longer have confidence that God hears us. 

Step one leads to step two: We stop praying nearly altogether. 

Step two leads almost inevitably to step three: As our prayer life stutters to a stop, we also stop reading the Scriptures. 

And when that final step takes root, step four is at the door: We stop going to church and we rapidly drift from what was once our vibrant relationship with God.

Oh, how easy it is, if we are not alert to the dangers and the symptoms, how easy it is for any of us to head down that road. That is why it is so necessary that we ask the Holy Spirit for ourselves – and for others – to break that downward momentum. 

Please remember what the Lord Jesus said to Peter: “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail. (Luke 22:31-32) 

Never doubt it: Satan is always seeking to devour your faith and mine. Peter learned that lesson, and so he wrote in his first epistle: Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.(1 Peter 5:8) 

That’s why as we pray, we should ask Christ Jesus to also pray for us, as He prayed for Peter – that our faith, and the faith of others, might not fail.

Lord Jesus, teach us to pray as we ought. Please.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Far Better

As we continue our Lenten journey toward a closer walk with Jesus, I thought of what God did for our first parents in the Garden of Eden. 

After He planted the garden, God “took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it. The Lord God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.” (Genesis 2:8ff) Then the Lord created Eve and brought her to Adam, “And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.” 

But it didn’t take long for sin to corrupt the good that God intended. In the next chapter, Satan seduced Eve into disobeying God. He implied God could not be trusted to have their best interests at heart.  So, she ate the fruit and gave it to her husband who was with her. 

There are several important spiritual lessons we can glean from this section of Scripture. Let’s look at only one for now.  

God did not exile our first parents from the Garden naked. He clothed them with animal skins. To do that, God killed an animal, shedding its blood to cover their shame with its skin. 

Within a few pages of Genesis, we find the first instance in all of Scripture where God used blood to cover sin. The last instance occurs on Calvary where God sacrificed His Son, shedding His blood, to cover the sin and shame of all who believe and obey Him. It is the blood of Jesus alone that covers the penitent’s sins far deeper than the blood of animals God sacrificed to cover our first parents’ sin. 

During Lent, as we journey toward the glorious finale of Resurrection Sunday, it’s good to ask our hearts: “Are my garments spotless, are they white as snow? Am I washed in the blood of the Lamb?”* 

But don’t stop with those questions. These follow-on questions are also important: “Am I walking daily by the Savior’s side? Do I rest each moment in the Crucified? Am I washed in the blood of the Lamb?”* 

If you are the least bit unsure, please – with all your heart, offer to God this prayer, or something like itO my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended You, and I detest all my sins because I dread the loss of Heaven and the pains of Hell; but most of all because they offend You, my God, Who are all-good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Your grace, to repent and amend my life. Amen. 

And then continue your journey toward Resurrection Sunday, confident in God’s promise that the blood of Jesus has covered your sins far better than that which covered the sin of our first parents.


*Edited from the hymn, “Are You Washed in the Blood” by Elisha A. Hoffman (d. 1929)

Monday, March 25, 2019

Two Gardens. Two Trees. (part one)

This is part one of the message I preached at a 55+ community on the third Sunday of Lent. I have edited/shortened it for the ease of reading.
-----------------
The title of my message today is, ‘Two Gardens.’ The first refers to the Garden of Eden,  the second to the Garden of Gethsemane. Here is a portion from Genesis two beginning with verse eight: 

“The Lord God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden; and there He placed the man whom He had formed. Out of the ground the Lord God caused to grow every tree that is pleasing to the sight and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. . . . Then the Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it. The Lord God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.” 

The text then describes how God created Eve and brought her to Adam, “And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.” 

God told our first parents they could eat the fruit of any of the trees, including the Tree of Life. The only three they were to avoid was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. 

In the next chapter, Satan seduced Eve into disobeying God. He implied God wanted to keep something good from them, that God cannot be trusted to have their best interests at heart.  So, Eve ate the fruit and gave it to Adam who was with her. 

Now here is one critical point of many embedded in this historical account in Genesis: God warned them, In the day that you eat from the forbidden tree, you will surely die.” 

But Adam and Eve didn’t die on the day they ate from the tree. Or did they?  

Yes, they did. Here is Genesis 3:6-7 – “When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings. [Then] they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.” (Genesis 3:6-8) 

God routinely met with Adam and Eve in the garden. But today was different. “Then the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” He said, “I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.” (verse 9) 

A few verses later God exiled them from the Garden. Their unique and intimate relationship with their loving creator died the very moment they ate the fruit from that forbidden tree. 

St. Paul understood spiritual death as a consequence of a broken relationship with God: “But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind; for apart from the Law sin is dead. I was once alive apart from the Law; but when the commandment came, sin became alive and I died; and this commandment, which was to result in life, proved to result in death for me . . .”  (Romans 7:8-10). 

Paul hadn't experienced physical death. But he experienced spiritual death when his sin broke his relationship with God. 

Back to the garden. God did not exile Adam and Eve as punishment. He sent them away to protect them -- and all their progeny. When our first parents disobeyed God, their sin – what theologians call ‘original sin’ – their sin produced a type of spiritual strand of DNA that has corrupted earth itself and everything and every person throughout history. 

Well, everyone except for One. More about that in part two of this message. 

Here is how Moses records what God said just before sending Adam and Eve away: “Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”— therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden . . . [and] He stationed the cherubim and the flaming sword which turned every direction to guard the way to the tree of life.” (Genesis 3:22ff) 

If Adam and Eve had eaten from the Tree of Life after they fell into sin, their fallen state would have infected not only this earth, but also eternity with sorrow, loss, anguish, and ugliness. Heaven would be no different than our present earth, except heaven’s corruption would last forever. 

Before we move on to the second garden, let’s take another few moments to review other important lessons of Eden – lessons that will crop us as we look at that Second Garden. 

First, God did not send our first parents naked from the Garden. He clothed them with animal skins. To do that, God killed an animal, shedding its blood, and then used its skin to cover their shame. Here then is the first instance in all of Scripture where God used blood to cover sin. 

Further, God sent them from the Garden with a promise of a Redeemer – Someone who would fix what they broke. God said to the devil, in the hearing of the first family: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel.” (Genesis 3:15) 

The reason for this somewhat lengthy backstory is to give us a better understanding of the events of the second garden. We will look more closely at that question in part two.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Like An Unseen Chess Master


Yesterday was the Jewish holiday of Purim. You’ll find the origin of that celebration in the book of Esther. An interesting thing about the book of Esther is that it is the only one in the Bible in which the name of God is completely absent. 


However – and this is important to us in 2019 – from the first chapter to the last, God’s presence is evident to anyone with spiritual eyes to see. Unseen, yet always in the background, God moves people and controls circumstances like a Chess Master controls pawns, kings, and queens on the chess board. 


I doubt there’s a person reading this who cannot testify of the many times  God seemed absent in your circumstances, but in retrospect, you recognized His presence and His hand in even your darkest times.


The Jewish holiday of Purim should serve as a reminder to every Christian that God is not absent from our life, even when things seem out of control. Purim is evidence that what the Psalmist wrote is ever true:


“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth should change and though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; Though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains quake at its swelling pride.” (Psalm 46)


The unseen God is always on His throne. He is always aware of our situations, and He is always active in our life.


Always.


Sunday, March 17, 2019

You Are Not Alone - part three


This is part three of the message I preached at the 55+ community of men and women living at an independent living facility. You can find parts one and two at these links: https://thecontemplativecatholicconvert.blogspot.com/2019/03/you-are-not-alone-part-one.html 

and here: https://thecontemplativecatholicconvert.blogspot.com/2019/03/you-are-not-alone-part-two.html   
-----------

As I prepared for this message, I thought to compare the faith-destroying lyrics of George Jones’ haunting melody with a hymn whose lyrics are faith-building. It was written by Fanny Crosby.

Many of you know she was blinded by illness when she was six months old. Here is one of those hymns written while she lived her life in her wilderness. But she knew she was not alone in her wilderness. She knew her Savior was always there, with her, in her wilderness:

He Hideth My Soul

A wonderful Savior is Jesus my Lord,
A wonderful Savior to me;
He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock,
Where rivers of pleasure I see.

“He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock,
That shadows a dry, thirsty land;
He hideth my life in the depths of His love,
And covers me there with His hand,
And covers me there with His hand.”

Have you ever been in a dry, thirsty land? There’s not a person on this planet who has not been there – multiple times in their life.

And some of you reading this are right now in that dry, thirsty land. Please, remember the truth of God: He hideth you soul in the cleft of the rock, that shadows a dry, thirsty land; He hideth your life in the depths of His love, and covers you there with His hand.

Crosby’s hymn continues:

“When clothed with His brightness transported I rise
To meet Him in clouds of the sky,
His perfect salvation, His wonderful love,
I’ll shout with the millions on high.”

Oh! Why would churches fill the hearts of their faithful during Good Friday with such hopeless words as “You’ve got to walk this lonesome valley by yourself” instead of hope-filled words like “He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock . . .and covers me there with His hand”?

Oh, Lord! Help us – Lord cause us to ever be alert to subtle and not so subtle lies when we listen to the news, when we watch the television – even when we hear some sermons and hymns in our churches – help us to distinguish your truth from Satan’s half-truths. Remind us how Jesus responded to Satan’s innuendos: Jesus said, IT IS WRITTEN!

No wonder the Savior warned His disciples – including you and me:

“[E]veryone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall.” (Matthew 7:24-27)

If we do not know God’s word, if His counsel is not part of the warp and woof of our souls, then we live in constant danger of destruction when life’s storms thunder across our lives.

As I close let me remind you and me once again of only a few of God’s promises to His children that we find in Scripture:
If God is for us, who is against us? . . . Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?. . .  But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8)
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows. Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. (Psalm 23)
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine! “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, Nor will the flame burn you. For I am the Lord your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior.” (Isaiah 43)
We are two and a half weeks into the Season of Lent – a time many churches set aside to encourage the faithful in the pews to reflect on the life, ministry, death and resurrection of the Messiah Jesus.

Let’s you and I continue to do that for the health and safety of not only our souls, but for the souls of our families and those around us. God help us become more like Jesus, with increasing obedience to the Father, humility, and faithfulness to the work He calls each of us to do.

A wonderful savior, truly, a wonderful savior is Jesus our Lord.