A Choice to Make

icecream_31flavorsWhen I was a kid and we had been extra good – like getting all A’s – mom and dad would take us to Baskin-Robbins the home of 31 flavors of ice cream. I was always so excited but then the challenge came when you walked in the door and were faced with 31 different options! Decisions, decisions.

We are now quickly closing in on election day (as if you didn’t know this by the 24-hour news cycle that has been belching up political fodder for over a year). We are faced with a VERY difficult decision! This is… drum roll… Decision 2016, and we ain’t pickin’ between chocolate chip and butter pecan.

I am reminded of Decision 864, BCE! In 1 Kings 18, there are only two options that Elijah presents to the people of Israel. Follow God or follow Baal. One can hardly blame the Israelites for wanting to follow this false god. Their king, King Ahab married Jezebel. As a high priestess for this pagan god, she sheltered and cared for hundreds of Baal’s prophets. Baal’s presence was all over the kingdom. The people with power and influence were steering everyone towards worshiping him not YHWH.

trump_clinton_wikicommonsElijah finally confronted the underlying issue that had caused Israel so much trouble up to this point. How long will you go on flip-flopping between two opinions? Either serve God or serve Baal. This is a far more important decision that we face every day. It will be there when you wake up on November 9 and the political ads are gone, your mailbox is a little less cluttered and the confetti has been swept off the floor.

A different version of the same question was asked by Joshua when Israel first settled the land of Canaan and began to establish itself as a nation now free from Egyptian slavery. Joshua’s famous statement to the Israelites was, “Choose today whom you will serve… but as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15, NLT). His challenge to decide was a familiar one for Israel. They faced that decision daily for an entire generation that was spent wandering.

oppositedirectionssignSo how do you make a decision in a culture that continues to try to lead you astray? What do you do when leaders and people of influence and power are pushing you further and further from what the Bible says and further from the truth contained in Scripture? Well, just like Israel we have to choose. Choosing between Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump? Ha! That’s mere child’s play compared to the decision about who will be the Lord of your life. SignJRGBlack300

Absorbing or Spreading?

sausageparty_mres
‘Sausage Party’ courtesy of Sony Pictures

We’ve lost another canary in the coal mine. I’m not sure if you noticed it, but it got my attention.  In mid-August Sony Pictures rolled out a foul-mouthed, sexual-innuendo laced, rated-R animated movie called Sausage Party. Not surprising. But what was surprising was that it was on America’s movie screens at the same time as the big-budget remake of Ben-Hur (MGM and Paramount/Viacom Inc.) and out sold the epic film by approximately 3 to 1.

‘Ben-Hur’ image courtesy of MGM and Paramount
‘Ben-Hur’ courtesy of MGM and Paramount

Even with a cameo by Jesus (played by Rodrigo Santoro) and God – or at least the guy who’s played God before – Morgan Freeman (who plays Sheik Ilderim) and a proven storyline, the movie that cost $100m to make brought in only $11.5m its first weekend. Why? I think I’d agree with critic Scott Mendelson, “Well, Ben-Hur is a flop (at least domestically for now) because audiences didn’t want to see it. It’s that simple.”1 The truth is that more Americans would rather watch and “absorb” the kind of content found in movies like Sausage Party.

I am not a movie critic. I am not going to decry Hollywood’s moral failures or lambast Sony Pictures for producing another 90 minutes of junk to appeal to our our basest natures. I am not going to wag my finger at you if you paid to see Sausage Party (I would ask you “Why?” though!), or if you’ve watched other morally questionable productions like Game of Thrones, etc. But I am going to issue a challenge, Christian, about growing as a disciple.

So here is where I have to look in the mirror and think of all the time I’ve wasted by entertaining myself with junk that my friends are talking about or that advertisers tell me are a “must see.” I have to honestly ask myself, “Am I willing to do the things that it takes to stay connected with Jesus Christ and not the culture?” If I am going to pay to see a movie or watch something online, does that entertainment strengthen my spirit and encourage me to abide in my Heavenly Father’s presence?

My work as a pastor calls me to be an evangelist, a 24/7 testimony of God’s love. This also lies at the core of the Methodist Church’s Wesleyan theology. John Wesley said, “What may we reasonably believe to be God’s design in raising up the Preachers called Methodists? To reform the nation and, in particular, the Church; to spread scriptural holiness over the land.”2 This is also the same calling of every Christ-follower who wants to become a disciple.

I recognize that I have repeatedly fallen short by absorbing cultural crap rather than spreading “scriptural holiness.”

Morality will not save me. Being arrogant or pious will not advance my effectiveness or my ministry. But being more grace-filled, Christ-centered and focused on Him will!

I’m guessing that most of us don’t want to see Ben-Hur. Fair enough. But brothers and sisters, can we make better choices with our time and ask the Lord to help strengthen us in our calling to spread “scriptural holiness?” Can we make the daily personal sacrifices and the tough choices that will keep us connected to the Holy Spirit’s life-giving power? If I am going to share His love beyond the walls of my church, I am going to have to look to Him (rather than Sony Pictures) to be my guide.SignJRGBlack300

Bernie Madoff? A true son of…?

WallStreetTradersDo you have any savings in the bank? Perhaps you have investments in the turbulent stock market. Now imagine that a huge chunk of your money disappeared. Some people don’t have to imagine! They have experienced it first hand. Remember Bernie Madoff? He was once the chairman of the NASDAQ stock market, but he used his role as a financial advisor to cheat thousands of Americans out of billions of dollars. Yeah. That guy.

Now imagine hearing this… “Bernie!” Jesus says. “Quick, come here! I must be a guest in your home today.” What? After a meal together, Bernie’s heart is transformed by the unconditional love of Jesus and he repents and resolves to repay everyone that he has defrauded. “Salvation has come to this home today, for this man has shown himself to be a true son of Abraham” (Luke 19:1-10). You know the story.

When my kids talk about Zacchaeus they sing the song, focus on his height and the “sycamore tree.” As adults we can easily dismiss it as a children’s story, but there is a powerful lesson here. God’s love has the power to transform lives! Thankfully my pre-schooler got that part right when I asked, “Why would Jesus go to his house and eat with him?” “Because Jesus loved him.” Yep. The mercy and grace that Jesus showed during His earthly ministry is the same mercy and grace that he shows us when we truly repent and begin living a Christ-like life.BernardMadoffMed

But it doesn’t stop with us. Our calling is to invite liars, cheaters, broken, depressed and forgotten people to experience God’s transformational love through us. And before we get too proud of ourselves, we need to recognize our own brokenness and our need for a Savior. Without Jesus Christ we’d be imprisoned by our sin and up a tree somewhere. “For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.” If God has truly transformed our hearts, brothers and sisters, loving others (even the Bernie Madoffs in the world), and seeking the lost should be our purpose too. That’s loving beyond!SignJRGBlack300

No “fun” in fundamentalism

Under-the-Banner-of-HeavenI recently finished reading a book by John Krakauer called “Under the Banner of Heaven.” It is a disturbing look into some of the fundamentalist views of the Mormon Church and the violent, destructive outcomes that can occur when we carry our beliefs to the extreme. If you are familiar with the Mormon church, you know about Joseph Smith, the gold tablets, the lost tribes of Israel in America and the doctrine of eternal progression (you too can be a God).

Yes. Those beliefs are a sliver of the views that separate Mormonism from Christianity. Much effort has gone into shaping Mormonism to seem like just another Christian denomination. It’s not. Now don’t get me wrong. Mormons are some of the most upstanding, moral, intelligent, mission-minded, self-sacrificing people in our country. They put most Christian church-goers to shame! But this is not a post pitting Mormonism against Christianity, I am talking about beliefs and taking them to extreme levels.

And, before we get to proud of ourselves, Christians, we need to look in the mirror and study examples like the one Krakauer documented. One can find a cautionary tale interwoven into this book. On the surface, getting back to the fundamentals of what we believe can be a good thing. But fundamentalism of any type can be a dangerous, slippery slope.

Christian fundamentalism grew out of the Protestant church’s response to the liberal theology that sprang up in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. During that period many theologians wanted to interpret Scripture based on modern perspectives and the influences of the Enlightenment without allowing any preconceived notions about the authority of Scripture. But many theologians pushed against that idea by arguing that the Bible was inerrant because, “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true” (2 Timothy 3:16). God inspired or “breathed” His words into the various authors that He chose to write the Bible.

FundyHellPosterBut now Christian fundamentalism in the 21st century looks a lot more like religious extremism. We’ve jumped into the political arena and sullied the gospel with a desire to earn votes, legislate morality and be in control.  Fundamentalism also smacks of Christian legalism, taking the morality and laws contained in Scripture and making them more important than the message of love and grace found in the gospel. In his first recorded sermon Paul says, “[In] Jesus there is forgiveness for your sins. Everyone who believes in him is made right in God’s sight—something the law of Moses could never do” (Acts 13:38-39, NLT) He’s talking about Jews, Gentiles and everyone [who is] believing (πᾶς πιστεύων), not just good people.

It can get pretty confusing for folks outside the Church looking in. I hear, “I’ll go (back) to church once I get my life together,” on a regular basis. We have miscommunicated or been misunderstood by many people. In our passion to strengthen our position and convince people that we’re right, let’s forget our own agenda and let the Holy Spirit lead, not a dogmatic, legalistic, fundamentalist perspective. Just like most Mormons would say that the Lafferty brothers and Fundamental Mormonism doesn’t accurately represent their beliefs, 21st century Christian fundamentalism doesn’t accurately represent the true Christ-follower.

So what do you believe? What separates your faith in Jesus Christ from the faith of a Mormon? What about a Bahá’í? What about your friendly neighborhood agnostic materialist? How do we witness about our faith to others? Leave the dogma and political baggage out of it. Grace is great place to start rather than a list of rules, a KJV Bible, attendance requirements and political affiliation. God’s grace expressed through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is a good beginning (Ephesians 2:1-10). Trust the Holy Spirit to speak though Scripture! And really, there is no better witness than your own life… depending on what you believe.SignJRGBlack300

The Numbers Game

MegaChurchAuditoriumOne of the greatest challenges for today’s churches is to monitor and evaluate the spiritual health of our congregants. This is especially difficult for churches with an weekly attendance over 150.

See! I did it already! I started talking about numbers. Accurate numbers can tell part of the story of what is happening in a congregation, but Spiritual health isn’t really about numbers.

Now don’t get me wrong, the numbers in my checking account say a lot about my priorities. The number of times when I missed church or a  chapel service during seminary says something. The number of hours I have spent sharing God’s love with others or reading His word should indicate… something, right?

In my previous ministry role, I was a part of the organization’s primary leadership team. As the department leaders sat around a big table and attempted to evaluate where we were needing to improve and where we saw success, the debate always came back around to measuring spiritual growth. “It can’t be done. It depends on the individual. That’s really private information and I don’t think we should be asking that…” It’s an honest, real dilemma.

However I don’t agree that spiritual growth and discipleship can’t be measured. John Wesley looked at discipleship (being a disciple who will make more disciples) by asking “How does your soul prosper?” Today, we might say, “How is your spiritual life?” Those are words to be spoken in love.

Me and J-Dub (John Wesley) hanging out on the Asbury Theo. Sem. campus.
Me and J-Dub (John Wesley) hanging out on the Asbury Theo. Sem. campus.

In Philippians 3 Paul talks about pressing on toward the goal, “I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me” (Phil. 3:12, NLT). John Wesley would call this perfection “holy love.” While we pursue God’s plan for our lives and await our entire sanctification (when we stand face to face with our Creator), we should see less and less sin and more and more love filling our heart and motivating our actions. That’s the true measure of our spiritual health.

So what is your spiritual goal? Sure, it’s great to try to be at worship for 26 consecutive weeks, or to read through 17 books of the Bible. But remember that the goal is “holy love.” Let’s work together to give everything we have to pursue Christ and the love that first loved us. As you do keep looking above and loving beyond.SignJRGBlack300

It’s All Good

ItsAllGood_beach-smIt’s interesting what people say or how they act when they are standing in line making small talk and discover you’re a pastor. “We’re all basically good people, and we just need to learn to accept each other.” That was a person’s conclusion to a conversation I had recently at the grocery store here in our town of 7,200. That comment seems harmless enough, don’t you think? However, there is an underlying problem or two.

“We’re all basically good people” – My family and I have found that our little town is full of good people! We can’t argue with the love and support we’ve experienced from our church and the community. Thank you! For many of our Bible-belt neighbors, doing good flows from their faith in Jesus Christ. Others would say that society, the rule of law, a healthy family or a good education lies at the heart of the good things that people do. If we only look at humanity, we can misunderstand good and evil and miss a chance to recognize God’s presence in our lives.

All that is good in the world comes from God. Remember the creation story? It was very good (Genesis 1:31). It is through prevenient grace that we see that same goodness flow from all corners of our community, just like the rain falls on saints and sinners alike. In Philippians 2 Paul challenges us to look to the needs of others and points to the example of Jesus. Pursuing Christlikeness for God’s glory is the example. If it is good, it begin and ends with Him. We don’t possess the capacity to create goodness on our own.

Supermarket check-out lineBack to the check-out line conversation. “We just need to learn to accept each other” – Yes. No. Wait! Accept?… what exactly does accepting mean? Some say accepting is synonymous with welcoming. Other say it means tolerating. As Christians we are called to be welcoming, compassionate and hospitable, but I’m not sure that’s what we mean.

The problem arises when we accept that people are just the way they are. Oh well. Nothing that can change that. That type of thinking robs the gospel message of all its hope! We must accept people where they are, but love them enough not to leave them there.

My life would’ve been a disaster if everyone just accepted the fact that I drank too much alcohol, lost my temper, and looked at inappropriate things on the internet. What if people responded to my struggles with, “Oh well. He’s just having a good time. He’s really angry, but he’ll cool down. Guys are like that. He’s not hurting anyone.”

Here we also find grace, but this is justifying grace. In our state of sin and failure, you and I have been met with forgiveness through Jesus Christ. Our relationship with our creator is restored (See Romans 5:8, 2 Corinthians 5:19)! If we take God’s gift seriously, we won’t tolerate drunkenness, rage, or lust because they fracture relationships, with our Heavenly Father and each other.

Christian living is putting faith and love into action as a response to God’s grace. It’s not tolerating lies and accepting people’s brokenness. I am a broken sinner too. I make mistakes, but I need a grace-filled community who will join me in pursuing Christlikeness. If you see me doing good, that’s because of God. Give Him the glory.

I wish I had been able to add some of these thoughts to that supermarket conversation. I’d like a mulligan on that one. But praise the Lord that God’s grace is there, even when I fail to recognize it or point it out to others.

Keep looking above and loving beyond.SignJRGBlack300

Darkness

Admit it. 2015 was a “heavy” year. I’m kinda glad to look back now and see it in the rearview mirror. I’m not even sure how to describe it, but it was a tough twelve months in a silent, indescribable, dark sort of way.

Neighborhood residents watch as police investigate a homicide scene after a 24-year-old man was found dead in the Lawndale neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Neighborhood residents watch as police investigate a homicide scene after a 24-year-old man was found dead in the Lawndale neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

I’ve experienced a similar, indescribable darkness in inner-city Chicago while working with Inner City Impact. Most of the young men and women that I met seemed to carry an invisible weight devoid of a clear sense of purpose, motivation or goals. These were smart, articulate kids! It wasn’t laziness or conformity. As I got to know a handful of them better, they had very little hope in the future because they doubted that they would even have a future. The darkness of violence, poverty, injustice and brokenness caused them to be cynical and callus. For some, the weight was too much and the best alternative was to give in and give up. That was a darkness I had never seen before.

Do you know someone who has been in prison? Chances are high that if they did more than a year behind bars, that they spent some of it in solitary confinement. Many prisoners who do long stretches in solitary do their time and face an additional sentence, the loss of one’s sanity. During the isolation what seeps in is overwhelming anxiety, irritability, worthlessness, and detachment.  Anthony Graves talks about being imprisoned for 18 years on death row in Texas for a crime he did not commit. When he was exonerated in 2010 he began telling his story. He made it clear that, “[Solitary confinement] is a system that seems designed to break a man’s will to live.” The loneliness, isolation and darkness are destructive to every part of our humanity.

Green, stagnant water fills the underground chambers of the Boesmansgat.
Green, stagnant water fills the underground chambers of the Boesmansgat.

If you never experienced that type of societal or internal darkness, there’s always the type found in nature. Take for example the Boesmansgat, or “Bushman’s Hole.” It’s a submerged freshwater cave in South Africa that is over 900 ft deep. When combined with it’s high-altitude location (4900 ft. above sea level), it’s relatively narrow opening, and the physics of water pressure, darkness is complete and total and more than just the absence of light. It gives me a chill just thinking about it.

How does your body and mind react to the darkness when all is quiet? I’ll admit that it’s nice at first, but after awhile my mind goes into hyperdrive. What brings hopelessness and anxiety in your everyday life? Have we become slaves to the darkness and our fears?

A lot of stuff has gone wrong in the world in 2015, in my opinion. Culturally it’s virtually impossible to find things that give me hope. “But we have not the right to despair, for despair is a sin. And finally we have not the reason to despair, quite simply because Christ has risen.” John Richard Neauhaus  I have hope regardless of how I’ve failed or seen humanity’s self-destruction. “Christ has died. Christ has risen. Christ will come again,” our communion liturgy says. I have hope, peace and even joy …not fear.

The disciple John retells the story of the woman caught in the act of adultery in John 8. After that, Jesus speaks to the people once more and says, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.”

When Paul uses peace throughout his letters, it’s not synonymous with quiet. He draws a connection to security, assurance and ceasing from our striving (Romans 8:6). Paul would have also used the Hebrew word shalom (wholeness, and a lack of anxiety). Philippians 4 reminds us that peace comes from a heart of gratitude and an understanding that we can stop struggling. God is in control.

God’s proven that He can be trusted in all circumstances. Has he done things in your life that are “true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely…”? Fix your mind on that! Remember and celebrate. Then go be a source of hope and peace in a hyper-drive world… no matter what lies ahead.

Keep looking above and loving beyond.SignJRGBlack300

The Both/And of Growing Up in Church

My family after church, probably Easter '84 or '85.
My family after church, probably Easter ’84 or ’85.

Did you grow up in the church? Was Sunday worship attendance expected when you were a child? In our house, we were so involved and invested in the children’s ministry that we were often one of the first families to get to church and the last to leave. My parents served the children in our church and community for over three decades. Sunday morning mattered! But Sunday morning was not the only faith-forming part of my childhood.

I remember riding in our van with a caravan of friends going visit people in prison. I heard stories from my dad about sharing the love of Jesus with a man at the local doughnut shop who had fallen asleep on his hamburger. I sang songs that my mother wrote for Vacation Bible School and children’s outreach. I would sit on the steps and listen in on the Bible studies that the grown ups had in our finished basement.

One Sunday my parents volunteered to help a man move from St. Louis down to a place out in the country in Jefferson County. I didn’t hear all the details, so I was surprised when we pulled up and parked our van under an interstate bridge. We helped the stranger load up his belongings (even though they smelled like they needed to stay under the bridge!), fed him and took him to a rehabilitation center far away from the concrete jungle that had been his home.

Can you see where I’m going with this? Being connected and invested in the Body of Christ every Sunday as I was growing up was only part of the equation. Being the Church Monday through Saturday as a kid is what has really shaped my ministry and now drives my faith as an adult. It is a both/and mentality of parenting that should mirror the balance in the church between evangelism and discipleship.

What kind of balance do you have in your home between discipleship and outreach?
What kind of balance do you have in your home between discipleship and outreach?

Today I had a great time working through this with a colleague in our local church. The tendency is to gradually move from a pie chart that is close to 50/50 – a balance between reaching out to the lost and building up the people in the congregation – to a pie chart that is in the 80/20 neighborhood… 80% serving the needs of the congregation. I have to constantly evaluate my own ministry and my own parenting, otherwise I will suddenly find myself in maintenance mode rather than taking steps of faith into the unknown. What a great opportunity to show my kids that God is there, alive and by our side as we learn to love others more than ourselves.

So what excites you about sharing Sunday morning with your kids? Is there something you can share Monday through Saturday ministry that is making a lasting difference in people’s lives? Is that a part of the equation in your household? Honestly ask yourself what your pie chart percentages look like. You might have already established the fact that Sunday morning matters, but be encouraged and remember the power of serving others Monday through Saturday. As you look above and love beyond, make that a part of what matters in your life and in your family.SignJRGBlack300

I’m Only Human

Humble Man with a Halo Over his Head --- Image by © Illustration Works/CorbisValerie and I have found that small town America is full of good people! We can’t argue with the love and support we’ve experienced from our new church family and the broader community here. For many of the folks we’ve met, doing good flows from their faith in Jesus Christ. Others would say that society, the rule of law, a healthy family or a good education lies at the heart of one’s good works. In a relativistic society, it’s easy to misunderstand good and evil and not recognize God’s presence in our lives.

Back in the 1700’s there was a guy named Jean-Jacques Rousseau, a philosopher who believed that humans are by nature good. It is society that corrupts humanity. This was revolutionary thinking and in the hindsight of history it can be seen as one of the seeds of the Enlightenment and the French Revolution. Rousseau rejected anything that would limit an individual from experiencing their inner self, that part that was naturally good (in his opinion). He argued that people must have the freedom to create their own destinies, to discover their own identities, to blaze their own trail.

"Jean-Jacques Rousseau (painted portrait)" by Maurice Quentin de La Tour - Unknown. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons
“Jean-Jacques Rousseau (painted portrait)” by Maurice Quentin de La Tour – Unknown. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

In one of his most famous works, The Social Contract, Rousseau begins by stating, “Man is born free and everywhere he is in chains.” This is a tempting philosophy to agree with, but over the past 150 years we have seen that his opinions on human nature have only spawned the destruction of one society in the hopes that humanity will be able to recreate a better society with a better future. Succinctly, a better society with free(er) people will lead to a better world.

As a Christ-follower, the idea of utopianism is doomed from the outset because it depends on the idea that humanity is good. Look back through history and one does not have to search for long to uncover the horrors that have grow out of the idealistic view of human goodness. One can see at every corner the effects of sin and selfishness rather than humanity’s ascension to greater levels of moral character and justice. And that’s what I believe lies at the heart of my own mistakes and failures – sin. Not society, not an imperfect environment, but my sinful nature. This is what Christ-followers would call original sin.

In most churches we’ve lost the ability to winsomely address the theology of sin without heaping on an overwhelming amount of guilt. It part of what makes the idea that we’re all good so appealing. I once had a friend tell me that they were no longer going to church because he got sick of the pastor calling his wife and daughter sinners. We have a challenge here. We need repentance and forgiveness, but why would they be needed if we’re not sinners?

All that is good in the world comes from our Heavenly Father. The creation story tells of the goodness of a world created by the word of a loving God. It is through prevenient grace that we see goodness flow from all corners of our communities, just like the rain falls on both on saints and sinners alike. Christians do not have a corner on the good works market! In fact there have been circumstances when society or the state have done a better job doing good than the Church. We need to recognize when there has been too much of us (humanity) and not enough of our Heavenly Father, then repent and grow.

At the same time (and here’s the point I’ve stumbling my way toward), if we give into Rousseau’s thinking (people are naturally loving and virtuous and should feel free to do whatever they want without succumbing to artificially created rules) we will soon find ourselves closer and closer to hedonism and both personal and social destruction. It’s not good for me to choose to do what ever makes me happy or helps me be free, because I do not exist in a void. Personally I cannot separate my obligations as a husband, father, pastor, employee, civilian, etc.  I have chosen to make a sacrifice for the good of others (in the same way that Christ Jesus made a sacrifice for me). Life is not about what makes me happy.

In Philippians 2 Paul challenges us to look to the needs of others and points to the example of Jesus. Pursuing Christlikeness for God’s glory is the example. If it is good, it begin and ends with Him. We don’t possess the capacity to create goodness on our own. Joy and We’re not working towards utopia, but rather toward Christ-likeness. Society or government cannot be the great liberator that Rousseau and others want it to be.Man_kneels_in_grass

I am a sinner. I make mistakes, but I hope that you will join me in pursuing Christlikeness, putting faith and love into action. If you see me doing good, that’s because of God. Give Him the glory. There is hope! But I see greater hope in a world called to serve the interests of others in addition to our own and to pursue God rather than seek to be God.

Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! Keep looking above and loving beyond.SignJRGBlack300