Step By Step

Your life is a journey. It's a marathon, not a sprint. God gives you a dream, a glimpse of your future, and then you have to go through a process to fulfill it.

The process can be a lot like a roller coaster ride. You better hang on because there will be lots of twists, turns, ups, and downs. 

I don't know about you, but I personally hate roller coasters. You couldn't pay me to go on one. I think it's lots of fun to watch other people ride them though. I'm happy to walk around an amusement park for the day and hold my friends' stuff while they ride, but don't try to get me to climb on board.

When it comes to the intense adventure of living for Jesus, I'm all in. Nothing else matters or truly fulfills.

When you lean into the still small voice of the Holy Spirit, you can follow by obeying each prompt He gives you. Some of them will make no sense to your mind, but you will have a deep, peaceful knowing in your heart that it's the right path. 

This is how He leads us: step by step. 

Some personalities seem to be more okay with this than others. If you are a planner, it might be harder for you. It requires letting go of being in control. But as you know, none of us are truly in control of what happens anyway. 

Jesus said, My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. John 10:27-28

 
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When Not To Give Up

There will be days when you will want to give up. There will be times when no matter how much of an optimist you may be, you will come to the end of yourself.

There will be swirling accusations and confusion. Your head will feel foggy and you will wonder why on earth you ever thought it was a good idea to start down this path. 

This is all a part of the process. This is the battle that qualifies you for where you are going. God is building you for your future.

When you get to the moment where it feels like something breaks inside of you and you are ready to let go of your dream, don't let go. The breakthrough is right around the corner.

Remember that guy who gave up? Yeah, neither does anyone else.

When David went out to fight Goliath, he didn't just go up against a huge, strong fighter. That giant was also hurling accusations at him. Not only was Goliath dressed to strike fear, he was running his gigantic mouth trying to intimidate the courage out of David.

It was at that moment that David stood his ground, boldly declaring who he was and what he had come to do. He didn't stand back hesitantly; he ran to the battle and won a great victory! Imagine if he had succumbed to the intense intimidation and given up!

Victory is right around the corner if you stand your ground. Remember who you are in Christ and what He has called you to do, and never, ever give up!

Moving Into Your Promised Land

Lately, I've been reading Joshua chapter 1 over and over. It talks about the time after Moses died when Joshua was installed as the leader of God's people. God instructs Joshua three times to be strong and very courageous. 

  • Verse 6 - Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them.
  • Verse 7 - Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.
  • Verse 9 - Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

The fact that God repeated this command three times so close together tells us that Joshua was about to face some extremely overwhelming circumstances. The fact of the matter is that he was about to lead a massive group of people into their promised land. 

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They weren't going to be able to just mosey on into the promised land, they had to slay some giants on the way! 

That's the way it is when you move into your promise. There's always work to be done. You don't just stroll on in; you have to fight bravely. You have to know who God is in your life and act from that deep knowing.

Take the Scriptures and prophetic words God has given you seriously and meditate on them so that they strengthen you for the fight ahead. You might want to set a daily reminder of them on your phone.

It's easy to feel overwhelmed when problems and challenges seem to be piling up in front of you, but remember that God has a solution for every problem you face.  

Breaking Up With Fear

It's easy to go down a trail of imagining the worst even when things really are going well. It starts with the thought "what if."

  • What if an armed robber breaks into my house?
  • What if my spouse gets killed in a car wreck on their way home from work?
  • What if my kid gets a horrible disease? 

If we're not careful we can get ourselves all worked up about something that may never happen. We can waste our precious time mentally planning out funerals that aren't going to happen anytime soon. This is how you partner with fear. It is vain imagination hard at work.

You can partner with peace by turning your "what if's" into things that agree with God.

  • What if God really, really loves me?
  • What if God wants to use my life to touch the world around me?
  • What if God has given me everything I need to live an amazing life? 

This is glorified imagination. Going down this path will fill your heart with hope!

Key Idea: Worry is a mis-use of your imagination.

 
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Don't Just Google It...

I remember one specific, hard day when my kids were younger. It was one of the times when I felt really helpless as a mom. I was so frustrated because I couldn't figure out how to parent a troubling behavior. I had done everything I knew to do, but things weren't getting better. 

I decided to take a hot bath and talk to Jesus. I remember that He clearly spoke to me in that moment. He brought back to my mind a Bible verse that had the key I needed. 

Note that He brought the verse to my memory. It's important to hide God's Word in your heart so that He can bring it back to your memory at the needed moment.

When you don't know what to do, stop and ask Jesus. He may speak to you through a verse, a whisper, a feeling, or a deep knowing in your heart. 

It's so easy to just pick up your phone to google search for an answer or to text a friend to get advice. I'm not saying you shouldn't do those things at all, but make sure you also stop to ask for wisdom from above. 

You can test what you're hearing from God against this verse: But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reasonfull of mercy and good fruitsimpartial and sincere. James 3:17

Key Idea: God is eager to share His secrets with you; you only need to stop, ask, and listen.

If you want to learn more about hearing God's voice, I recommend Havilah Cunnington's Prophetic Personalities Course.

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When the Enemy Comes In Like a Flood...

The battle is in the mind. The enemy will always try to attack you in your thoughts. That's why he's the accuser of the brethren. His main tactic is to accuse you, try to intimidate you, and move you off your ground.

If the enemy can mess with your head without you fighting back, he knows he can derail you and keep you out of the battle.

The devil is very interested in keeping you from walking out the plans God has for you, and messing with your head is one of his favorite tools.

It is vital that you guard your mind with the truth of God’s Word. You must stand firm. You must put on the helmet of salvation. 

It can be helpful to imagine yourself putting on the helmet. Physically place your hands on your head and thank God for giving you protection for your mind. Lay your hands on your head and declare that you have the mind of Christ, that you will think His thoughts. Resist the enemy’s lies that he’s wanting you to partner with.

God has given you the gift of a sound mind. Thank Him for it and receive it by faith. Peace of mind, not anxiety, is a part of the normal Christian life. You do not have to lose the battle in your mind.

 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV

This is the battle. And if you stand firm, you will win it!

Remember. When the enemy comes in like a flood, the Lord will raise you up!

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Why Your Obedience Matters So Much...

Remember Moses? He was a rock star of a leader. The Bible tells us that since Moses there has not arisen in Israel a prophet like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face, in all the signs and wonders which the Lord sent him to do in the land of Egypt, before Pharaoh, before all his servants, and in all his land.

In spite of how amazing Moses was, when it came right up to the point of the fulfillment of his life's mission, he wasn't allowed to enter the promised land. Why? Because he had gotten angry and hit a rock with a stick instead of speaking to the rock like God told him. 

That's intense. It shows us that God really means what He says. In spite of the unique relationship Moses and God had, God didn't let him enter the promised land. Moses had to settle for his descendants inheriting the promise. 

As I was reading this story the other day, I was struck by the fact that when Moses died his eyes were not dim nor his natural vigor diminished. To me, this means that it wasn't actually time for Moses to die. His strength was not used up. 

Sin has a heavy price tag. Obedience, however difficult, is always worth it in the end. 

This a matter of the fear of the Lord. When we walk in the fear of the Lord, we walk with an awareness that the things we do today have a direct effect on our lives in the future. 

The fear of the Lord is not an Old Covenant concept only. It is still important in our lives today. It could be that your sin won't end up keeping you out of your promised land, but I promise you it will delay your progress. Don't waste time making laps in the desert. Purpose in your heart to obey God today no matter the cost.

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Slow and Steady Wins the Race

Regardless of how exciting dream chasing is, life will always be full of boring moments. We all have basic maintenance things we have to do each day. We have to clean our homes, feed our dogs, and fill our cars with gas over and over again.

Personally, I find it tedious to wash my face and brush my teeth every single night. I choose to be faithful to these little things because I know that they are important in both the short and long term.

These maintenance moments are some of the basic building blocks of life.

Sometimes God leaves us in a place of boring repetition because He has us in a holding pattern. Regardless of how boring our lives may seem, people around us are watching.

There will suddenly come a moment when all of your steadiness will pay off. Your consistent choosing to have a joyful attitude in the midst of plain normal life will open up the door for a "wow" moment.

You never can tell when your faithfulness will open the door for you to make a forever impact on someone's life.

Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.

Galatians 6:9

Slow and steady wins the race!

 
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 There are different sizes available depending on which color shirt you select. Sizes run small, so select the larger size.

There are different sizes available depending on which color shirt you select. Sizes run small, so select the larger size.

 

If You Want To Do Anything Great, You Have To...

I recently had the opportunity to share on a podcast from Australia. Here's what we discussed:

  • You can accomplish the most amount of good if you operate from a place of inner peace that comes from absolute obedience to Jesus Christ.
  • If you want to do anything great, you have to start somewhere. You have to be willing to do something poorly in the beginning.
  • God doesn’t get any glory from you hiding your light. It’s time to own who you are and shine.

LISTEN NOW: If you reached this post by email, click here to listen.

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Have You Heard About The Epiphany I Had About Being An Introvert?

I was traveling with a group of people. We were at the airport getting ready to go home. After a week of hanging out with a new friend, she tells me that she's an introvert. I was like, "NO, you're not. You're so friendly and adventurous. You've been talking to everybody and taking pictures of everything." 

Her reply was, "I'm totally an introvert. I'm very shy."

I was very skeptical. My mind just couldn't quite process this new information. 

The she said, "Just because you're an introvert doesn't mean that you have to come off as an introvert."

 
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What?! It had never dawned on me that someone who's an introvert could break out of it and be really friendly and engaging. I had always thought that if you're born an introvert or beyond that born shy, that was your personality, and you were stuck with it. 

That conversation in the airport changed everything. All of a sudden the chains around my belief system fell off. I realized that I didn't have to be shy. I actually could break free from it.

Being the person who people have to come up to and start conversations with is a lot of work for the people who you're wanting to influence. This is especially important if you want to be in leadership or if you have a message you want to get out.

Certainly, all of us introverts need alone time to recharge. That's not a problem. We need to value that. But when you get around people, you really can start to break out of that reservedness and go up to people and engage them. This takes practice.

Start by introducing yourself and asking them questions about themselves. Maybe ask where they're from or what line of work they're in. Most of the time people love to talk about themselves.

Breaking free from any bondage that goes along with being an introvert isn't a matter of not being authentically you. It's a matter of really caring about the people around you and trying to make their lives really wonderful. 

Do You Ever Experience Phantom Worry?

The city that I live in seems to be in a competition with Chicago for the title of "Windy City." We regularly get high winds blowing in over the flat prairie. This wind has made our home life pretty interesting.

  1. When we have a combination of snow and wind, we almost always end up with a 2-3 foot snow drift covering our driveway. The crazy thing is that the yard will be nearly snow free. For some reason the way our house is situated causes the wind to pick the snow up from the yard and drop it into the driveway.
  2. We have had two trampolines over the years. The first one blew away in the middle of the night. The wind picked it up and carried it all the way down the street, past 5 or 6 houses, and dropped it into a pond where it presumably still is today. As the trampoline traveled down the street, it left pieces of itself along the way in the neighbors' yards. We had to pay $160 to repair our neighbor's fence. We tied the second trampoline down firmly, but it eventually wore out from use, so we got rid of it.
  3. A few years ago my parents gave the kids a basketball goal for Christmas. It was the kind that you put sand in to weigh it down, as opposed to the kind that you cement into the ground. Even with 300 pounds of sand, the wind regularly blew it over. We had to be careful to not park the car near it on windy days. Eventually one of the metal rods that held the goal up, snapped clean through because of the pressure from the wind.
 
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When my husband and I woke up one recent windy morning, we both had the same thought. We simultaneously experienced a moment of worry, only to breathe a sigh of relief when we remembered that we had nothing left in the yard to blow away.

We laughed together, and Christopher said, "That was like phantom worry." It was kind of like the stories you hear about amputees who still feel sensations from their missing limbs. Or maybe what more of us can relate to, the feeling of your phone vibrating when it really isn't.

It made me think, how many of the things we worry about are even based in reality? Maybe a huge portion of our worry is only a matter of habit. Maybe we simply need to retrain ourselves to think differently. What do you think?

Let's Make a God Box

Jesus clearly said that He gives us His peace, peace that doesn't even make sense. Once He gives it to us, He expects us to steward our hearts and to learn to stay in that peace. 

It seems like people almost wear stress like a badge. Like if you're stressed, it means you're doing something with your life. We can even think that if we don't worry, we aren't being responsible. But Jesus doesn't call us to live in stress. He calls us to live in peace and from peace.

The Bible tells us that we have a good Father. When we really understand how much He loves us, we don't have to worry. 

 
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If you're struggling with worry, I challenge you to make a God Box. You could use an old shoe box or cereal box. If you want to, you could even decorate your box. Seal the box up except for a little slot where you can slip in small pieces of paper. 

When you are worried, write your worry on a slip of paper, read it to God, and slip it into the box. Once you've put it into the box, you can't take it out again. Your worry now belongs to God.

You could say this is the opposite of putting God in a box. Put your worries into the box and let God do what only He can do.

Destiny Key: Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes. Matthew 6:34 MSG

 

What Does Gratitude Have To Do With Finding God's Will?

Do you ever struggle with figuring out what God's will is for your life? Sometimes we make discerning God's will more difficult than it has to be. In our sincere desire to carefully obey Him, we can over think things and get really bogged down in decision making.

I have good news for you! It really doesn't have to be complicated.

Let's dial it back to the big picture. I would like to propose to you that discovering God's will all starts with GRATITUDE.

IN EVERYTHING GIVE THANKS;

FOR THIS IS GOD'S WILL FOR YOU

IN CHRIST JESUS.

1 THESSALONIANS 5:18

Our family takes time to sit at the table and eat dinner together most nights of the week. At every meal, we go around the table and share one thing we are thankful for from that day. This is actually a form of "saying grace."

Gratitude and grace go together. As you take time to give thanks to God, grace comes to you in every area of your life. This is a definite pathway to living in peace and is the first step to finding out more specific details in regards to your destiny in God.

As Madam Blueberry says, "A thankful heart is a happy heart."

How thankful are you?

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What Are You Hiding From?

If you're a Jesus follower, you are meant to shine. It can be easy to think that hiding in the shadows is humility, but it really isn't. God doesn't any get glory from you hiding your light. 

Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill.

If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand.

Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives.

By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven. Matthew 5:14-16 MSG

Destiny Key: Take some time to ask God what lies you're believing that are holding you back from shining brightly. 

It's time to come out of hiding! It's time to shine!

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When God Calls an Audible

Do you know what I mean when I say that sometimes God calls an audible? For those who aren't into sports, let me explain.

 
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The kind of audible that I'm talking about is the kind that happens in American football. It's a change in the offensive play called by the quarterback at the line of scrimmage. This means that the coach and players have laid out a clear plan for their play, but at the last moment, the quarterback switches it up. 

When an audible is called, it would be detrimental to the outcome of the game not to go along with the change. If the players aren't willing to be flexible, things get messy really fast.

I grew up as a missionary kid in Mexico and Guatemala. Life was one big adventure, and we never really knew what was going to happen next. We would set out in a hurry to do something, only to have to stop and wait due to circumstances that were out of our control.

Most of the time it was "hurry up and wait, hurry up and wait." One of the phrases I remember my parents saying the most is, "Blessed are the flexible for they shall not break."

It's kind of like driving on a crowded interstate. You have to hurry up and merge, only to sit and wait, then hurry up again. In the end, you might have to suddenly take another route to get where you really need to go.

When you're going along in life, and God suddenly calls an audible, go with it. He knows what He's doing.

Destiny Key: The mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps. Proverbs 16:9

 
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What Do You Do When Life Isn't Fair?

Our culture seems to be obsessed with equality, but in reality, fairness evaluations are just bizarre. They are all about comparison and self-pity and low self-esteem. If you've ever seen kids fighting over whose portion is bigger or better, you know what I'm talking about. You might even have been that kid.

As a mom I am convinced that it is best to parent each child individually, according to their own needs. Life is not fair. Period. We do our kids a disservice when we help them to think otherwise. 

 
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I'm so thankful that life isn't fair, because if it were I would have to have all the same skill sets as everyone else on the planet.  Can you imagine if you had to go to college to get every single type of degree available to be had. Or what if there was only one degree type, and every person had to get it so that no one else felt left out? That would be really boring.

I have been to a country where the end goal was to have everything be completely equal. The thought is that no one should rise above the rest, but that everyone should contribute equally. It simply doesn't work out well. The end result is the government deciding every person's career path so they can assure that society is evenly provided for. This means that if the government decides you should be a teacher, you don't have any choice in the matter. You just have to do it for the good and overall "fairness" of the whole.

Each person is unique. We each have a specific personality with a gift mix all our own.  We each have unique needs with different love languages to give and receive love.

God is the best Father, and He is really good at giving each of us exactly what we need at just the right time. We can rest in Him.

Key Idea: Everyone ends up poor and losing when we make equality our highest goal.

"Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also." John 12:1-3

As dearly loved children of God, we really do not need to worry if someone else is getting more than we are. We have a really good Father who really loves us, and that makes it completely normal for us to be filled with peace and contentment instead of striving and comparison.

Breakthrough Must Be Preceded by Action

God has a great purpose for your life. He wants to use you powerfully to impact the people all around you. But in order to step into His purposes for you, you have to actually take a step.

Every time we step into another level with God, it is preceded by a choice we make. For instance, the Bible says that those who look to Him are radiant and their faces are never covered with shame. (Psalm 34:5) The state of shining and being free from shame is preceded by looking to Him.

In Jeremiah 33:3 He says, Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know. This shows us that if we want to get wisdom from God, it has to be preceded by us calling out to Him.

If you want to be free from deception, you have to precede it by taking the action of obeying God's Word. Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. (James 1:22) 

 
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If you want your life to be filled with stability instead of drama, it will be preceded by putting Jesus' teachings into action. Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. (Matthew 7:24)

Even the times when God tells us to be still, require action. When God tells us to be still, He is not wanting us to be apathetic, but to do the hard work of trusting and waiting. Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. (Psalm 46:10)

Destiny Key: How many times are we waiting for God to do something that He's already given us the power to do? Ask Him what action steps He wants you to take this week.

When Your Future Is Foggy

The Christian life is a journey along a narrow road. While the road is straight, a lot of the time it's hard to see very far ahead. We get glimpses and impressions of what lies ahead, but in order to discover what's really there, we have to keep moving forward.

I regularly hit patches where I realize that everything I've been doing up until that point, has simply been preparation for what's ahead. All of the digging in to learn new things and the relational stretching isn't really about those things in themselves, it's about where God is taking you on the journey.

 
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It's like this: You walk along in faith, doing the next right thing you know to do, then all of a sudden you get a moment of clarity. The mist lifts, and you get a little glimpse into what God is up to. 

God's purposes for your life are so much better than you can imagine, and He has the passion and power to bring them to pass. Your job is to co-labor with Him by quieting your heart so you can hear His voice and by obeying quickly. 

Destiny Key: If you are in a foggy spot on the journey, don't give up. Keep pressing in and moving forward. That's what faith is all about. 

For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6

 

Moving Beyond Admiration

If you’re like me, you want to be wise and avoid making foolish mistakes as much as possible. To do this, we need to remember that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. It is literally the starting point for living well.

The fear of the Lord is a beautiful thing. It causes us to run to God, not away from Him.

These days there is such an emphasis on doing whatever makes you “happy.” This is worldly wisdom and is complete foolishness. Living for momentary pleasure outside of God’s ways is a recipe for disaster, not a happy life.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Fools despise wisdom and instruction. Proverbs 1:7

If you want to live in God’s favor, you must live in radical obedience to Him. Whatever He asks, decide to obey Him.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5

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God knows what we need more than we do. We cannot afford to do things our own way. He gave us the Bible as our guidebook for life. Dig into it. Get wisdom.

Don't just be an admirer of Jesus. Follow Him. This is how you fear the Lord.

Destiny Key: If Jesus is your Lord, you must say “yes” to whatever He asks you to do. Saying “No, Lord” is an oxymoron.

 

Good News

I was in my living room close to the window that looks out over my front yard when my husband looked down at his phone and gasped. He had just gotten the news that a friend had just passed away in a freak accident. We were stunned.

The fact is, the older we get the more people we know and love are slipping into eternity. In the past year, a handful of people I know personally have exited this life. You might have lost more friends than me. 

School shootings, winter weather car pileups, and heart attacks. You just never know when your number will be called.

There is coming “A Day.” None of us know which moment will be our last. After we die, each one of us will stand before God alone. We will not have a friend or spouse standing with us for moral support. We will not be able to cast blame for our life’s choices on any other person.

If you are in Christ, you will have Him standing with you, and He will be your Way into your heavenly home.

Psalm 1:5 speaks of people who are NOT in Christ.

Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,

Nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.

Psalm 1:5

  • Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, When that final day comes, unbelievers will not be able to enter God’s throne room with their heads held high.
  • Nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. When we are all gathered into our heavenly home, those who have rejected Christ will not be able to join us.

It is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment. Hebrews 9:27

If you have not surrendered your whole life to Christ, please to do it right now! Give Him every single part of your life. He knows how to take care of you much better than you ever could take care of yourself.

Once you are in Christ, you can live with a completely clean conscience. Jesus made the way for you to be able to hold your head high and have complete confidence as you get to know your heavenly Father intimately.

Jesus' blood changes everything. When you've been washed clean by it, you never have to live under a cloud of guilt again. This is the Good News!

Destiny Key: Absolute obedience to Jesus Christ is the only pathway to true peace. 

*On Tuesday, February 20, 2018, I felt an uncharacteristic urgency to prepare this post. I woke up the next morning to the news that Billy Graham had been promoted to heaven. I don't think that was a coincidence.