Walk With Me

So you shall keep the commandments of the Lord your God by walking in his ways and by fearing him. 

Deuteronomy 8:6 ESV

Smokey Monm's Day

 

Walk with mama is what I say to Smokey as we walk together.  This phrase was used a lot in the earlier days when Smokey entered my life. I was working with a trainer and one of the things Smokey had to learn was to walk beside me which meant not ahead of me  but beside me. He had to learn to obey my commands.  Smokey is now seven years old and from time to time when we are walking I have to gently remind him to walk beside mama and we have to refresh the commands.

The other day  I had to gently remind Smokey to walk beside me. As I was speaking the words to him, God whispered in my ear his reminder to walk beside him.  How often do we try to get ahead of God?

Getting Ahead of God

I worked with a teacher once that when students became impatient about receiving the outcome of something she would say, “God has a plan and it is a good plan.”  This statement is so true! God does have a plan for each one of us and in his plans things do work out not only for the good but for his glory. ( Romans 8:28)  Yet, how many times have we wanted something, were waiting for an outcome, or an answer to prayer but just could not wait on God. Instead, we took things into our own hands. The outcome of taking matters into our own hands usually end in disaster.  Instead of being blessed we become stressed! Not only do we become stressed but we miss the blessings that God has planned for us in the midst of the waiting and the walk.

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Walking With God

Deuteronomy 8:6 says, Observe the commands of the LORD your God, walking in obedience to him and revering him.” ( NIV) God is telling his chosen people to obey him and walk with him. Yet, they chose from time to time to take the situation in their own hands. They would try to get ahead of God and do what they thought needed to be done.  It was in these times when life for them got messy.

Are we not like the Israelites from time to time? Don’t we try to tell God how we are going to do things? What happens when we try to do it ourselves? Life of blessing turns into a life of stressing. This scripture simply reminds us that we are to walk with God and be obedient to his commands.  Notice the word with.  This means that we don’t take things into our own hands, show God how to orchestrate our steps or give into the desires of the flesh. We are to be obedient to God, pay attention to his commands for us, be patient as he reveals his plan for us, and simply walk with him.

As we read on in Deuteronomy 8:7-9 it says, For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land-a land with brooks, streams, and deep springs gushing out into the valleys and hills, a land with wheat, barley, vines and fig trees, pomegranates, olive oil and honey, a land where bread will not be scarce and you will lack nothing.  In these verses, God is telling the Israelites the blessings he has planned for them if they trust, obey, and walk with him. By walking with God and being obedient to him, the Israelites would receive the blessings God had planned for them.  The same is with us. We must walk with our Father and be obedient to him to receive the abundant blessings he has planned for us

In the days ahead as you are walking on your faith journey,  carry these words on your heart and remember to walk with your Father.

Image result for picture heart for God

My Child,

I want you to walk with Me. Walk beside Me and tell Me what is on your heart. Once you share what is on your heart, walk beside me and hear My voice. I want you to obey Me, trust Me, and know I have so many wonderful blessings planned for you to receive. 

Walk with Me, 

Your Father in Heaven

 

God’s mighty power comes when God’s people learn to walk with God.

Jack Hyles

In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.

Proverbs 16:9 NIV

 

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Let Go and Let God

“Even when our situation does not change for the better,

we can change for better.” 

Laura Story

Bible Study

As I write this post, I am  in the midst of wrapping up leading the Bible Study,  When God Doesn’t Fix It  by Laura Story. In this study Laura has guided the participants by sharing  how we can take our why questions and make them how questions. In other words, the circumstances we face can be used to witness to other people and how it can bring glory to God. In the midst of crisis we count our blessings over choosing to be bitter about a situation.

In one of the sessions, the participants were asked to read Acts 16:16-31. We find Paul and Silas are continually being followed by a slave girl aka fortune-teller for many days. It gets to the point that Paul becomes very annoyed with this girl.  After days of her following them and repeatedly saying the same thing day after day,  Paul commands the spirits of the slave girl/fortune-teller to leave her. Once the spirits had left this girl, the crowd was upset because they saw the hope for prosperity they had placed in this girl was gone. Thus, Paul and Silas are beaten/flogged and placed in prison where their feet were placed in stocks.

Paul and Silas

Beaten, flogged, and feet in stocks Paul and Silas did not become bitter, angry nor questioned why.  Instead, they prayed and sang praises to God. As they prayed and sang praises to God, the earth shook and the prison doors were opened and those who were bound up were now free. At this point, Paul and Silas could have chosen to flee from the prison cell but they stayed. Why?

We Read On

We continue to read when the jailer woke up and saw the prison doors opened he drew his sword on himself.  His first thoughts were the prisoners had escaped.  Yet, he heard Paul speak from the prison cell, ‘Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.’ We read on in verses 29-31, “And the jailer called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas. Then he brought them out and said, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?‘ And they said, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household’.” (ESV)

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Why?

Why did Paul and Silas chose to pray and praise God in the midst of their circumstances? Why didn’t they flee as soon as the prison doors were opened by the earthquake? The answer is simple. They chose to pray and praise God in the midst of their circumstances because their hope was in God. They knew that in the midst of all that was going on their situation would be used to bring glory to God.

And, their circumstance did bring glory to God. Their why became a how. By not escaping as soon as the prison doors opened, they became a witness to the jailer. When the jailer saw they had stayed his heart was opened to want to hear the Good News of God’s salvation through Jesus Christ. If Paul and Silas had chosen to escape the moment the prison doors opened, the jailer would have never heard about the gift of salvation and would have probably killed himself.

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Letting Go

Sometimes our difficult situations may not be a medical issue, a job loss, loss of family member but it may be a situation that we are in with a person.  In the midst of the situation we know we must let go and let God. Yes, sometimes easier said than done. In our humanness we want to give God our itinerary on how the problem will be solved.

Have you ever known someone that is constantly coming up to you with the same story and/ or tendency time after time.  We think to ourselves, will they just let it go?  There may be times we see the person coming towards us and we just want to run the other direction.  Just as Paul became annoyed with the slave girl following him we become annoyed with the person. Our questions on the situation turn into why questions.

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Turning the Why into How

In order to turn the why into how we have to do a couple of things first. The first thing we must do is pray not only for the situation but for the person and for ourselves as well. The next thing we must realize that Satan loves for someone to hold onto to things and create chaos among people. This person who will not let go is letting Satan have control of their heart. I tell people it is like having a vehicle stuck in the mud trying to get out and all that happens is the wheels spin and mud slings everywhere. Thus, we must surrender ALL to Jesus. We need to put our trust in Him. In other words, follow the example of Paul and Silas putting their hope and trust in God in the midst of their prison sentence.

Once we have surrendered ALL to Jesus, we have to wait. Waiting is hard. In the midst of this waiting this person may continue to do what they do. What do we do when this happens? As my mom would say, “smile and be nice.” In other words, extend grace and continue to pray for the person, the situation and seek how God can use you in this situation to show Christ-like love and action. It is in how we respond to the situation and person that is our testimony  of what grace is about and what God expects from us as Christians. Yet, as we do these things, we need to be guarded knowing this person’s tendencies and we must set boundaries. Extending grace does not mean making oneself a doormat.

There are times when we are given no choice but to walk away. However, it does not mean we wash our hands in it as Pilot did when it came to his decision  regarding Jesus being crucified. We may need to walk away to reflect, to establish new boundaries, and to seek forgiveness towards the person.  In return, we are to seek the good qualities of the person and to simply seek what God is trying to teach us from the situation. You may never know… God may be preparing you for an experience in your walk with Him. When obstacles arise, you can know that these things are from God when three things happen.  One, circumstances will bring you to where God wants you to  be.  Two,  you will be brought into the picture to be a blessing to someone else, and Three, God will be glorified.

Personally, I have been in such situations over the years. As difficult and frustrating these situations were, I have learned more about myself. I have learned to pray even more fervently and to seek where God’s hand is at work. Yes, I will be honest with you that in the midst of these situations I wanted to take control because God wasn’t working fast enough for me. It is when I didn’t let go and let God that I allowed Satan to create more chaos. Thus, the wheels became even more stuck in the mud and  spun more  mud out onto those around me.

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The Turn Around

How do we turn the why into how with the person keeps being like the slave fortune-teller? We simply ask guidance from God. We ask Him how we can be a witness to this person.  Grace is sometimes extended by not responding to some of the person’s comments/actions and by not going around  gossiping about the situation or other person. We do what the Bible teaches us and that is to go to our brother or sister that we have the problem with and talk with them. If talking with them does not work, then we go to the next line of authority and talk with them about how to handle the situation and sometimes intervening on our behalf.

Just as Paul and Silas had the opportunity to escape when the prison door opened we have the opportunity to run the other direction. It could be easy to sweep the circumstances under the rug. Yet, as Christians, we must take a higher road as Paul and Silas did in not escaping. As difficult as it may be, we must see the situation through. And, as we walk through the trial, the person needs to see us praying and praising God for the good things He has done. They need to see where we have put our joy and hope. Our joy and hope is in Christ alone. It is through our actions we are testifying the meaning of God’s grace and mercy. Hopefully, as we continue to pray and praise God, and walk in Christ-like love, the person can see the joy we have by letting go and letting God. Just as the jailer saw that Paul and Silas had something he wanted….salvation and to be set free through the Blood of the Lamb.

As we journey in the days ahead, may we seek God in all situations. It is important to remember that no matter the circumstances we face our hope is in Christ alone. God has a plan and it is a good plan that will bring glory to Him. Let’s let go and let God.

And we know that for those who love God ALL things work together for good,

 for those who are called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:28 (ESV)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Changing the Path

 

The Final Summit

In the last couple of days, I have read the book called; The Final Summit by Andy Andrews. Andy Andrews has become one of my favorite authors. He is spot-on in this book when the question that is posed at this summit is; “What should humanity do, individually and collectively, in order to restore itself to the pathway toward successful civilization?  It is through this question and in reading this book God opened my eyes to the many things that have happened in our world/society to have gotten to where we are today. And, that place is not a very good place.

crying

In the last week, I have seen attempts to re-write and remove history and many of these things this country was founded on. I have seen people attempt to re-write the TRUTH  to justify why they do what they do. If you are on any type of social media, you have seen mud-slinging from both sides of any controversial issue that is in the news. It seems we get off one roller coaster ride over an issue and we are soon back on over another issue. It is becoming where the offended are being offended. Sad and scary.

my way or God's way

 

In The Final Summit, the main character, David is being summons by Gabriel to attend  and lead this summit that will consist of former great leaders of the world to figure how to turn things around and put the world back on the right path. However, Gabriel shares that the answer to the question is two words. It is up to those at this summit to figure what the two words are that will turn humanity around.

new path

The archangel, Gabriel points out that God does not need or will send a flood to wipe out humanity that ‘humanity is sinking of its own accord.’ (The Final Summit page 35).  Gabriel points out how man has turned from what is really true and have begun to re-write the rules and created a new truth.

Gabriel goes on to say;

“What I mean is this time, quite simply, you are providing your own flood. Certainly you are aware that some so-called progress you have pursued now enables you to destroy life on this planet in several different ways, many times over, and with varying choices of speed. You don’t need Him to make it rain.”

“(The Final Summit page 36)

In other words, the last time the world was destroyed God sent a flood. He was in control of the rain. God told Noah to build an ark and who/ what would be on the ark. God planned how many days and nights it would rain. However, this time around, man is creating his own flood by re-writing the rules, believing in lies, and adjusting the truth to accommodate the desires of the heart.

Lost and Confused Signpost

As this summit progresses with much discussion and “thinking” they have the right answer to find out that the answers they are coming up with are good but not the right one.  The members of this counsel discuss how wisdom, courage, hope, character building and self-discipline would help in turning humanity back on the right course. Yet, these thoughts were not the answer that Gabriel was looking for.  After the last try and feeling deflated, one of the counsel members stands up and says; “it is never too late.”  “There is still time.”   (pg. 197)

hour glass

I love the last two sentences. These two sentences spoke hope to me. As dismal as things seem to be today with the way things are happening, we still have hope. We still have time.  What we must do is share the hope that we have through Jesus Christ. We have a choice to either sit around on Facebook and try to shove each other’s views down the throats we disagree with in order to get our point across or we can step up, be bold and do something to turn the path around.  And, in the midst of being bold in turning the path around, be sure to seek God and his blessings. As we know, “all things work out for the good and for the glory of God.” (Romans 8:28)

seek God

I won’t give away the ending of the book but I will pose these questions to my reading audience:

What are you doing to make a positive difference?  

What can you do to help turn a hurting world’s eyes to the cross of Jesus Christ?

What can you do show a world of hurt the real truth and the hope we all have when the sands of time do run out?

My challenge for all of us is to use what we have and what we know in a good way that leads everyone to the path of TRUTH and righteousness.

Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make

the most of every opportunity. Let  your conversation 

be gracious and attractive so that will have the right response L

for everyone.

Colossians 4:5-6

Take time to watch the video below:

 

Don’t Let The Pirates Take You Down

pirates

On April 8, 2009 there was a cargo ship heading for Mombasa Kenya. The Captain of the Ship was Richard Phillips. The ship consisted of twenty crew members.  CNN breaks in with breaking news that this cargo ship had been boarded by modern-day pirates.

For those of you who know your geography, you know that the waters  this cargo ship was sailing are known for piracy. Therefore, it makes sense that Captains and crew members who sail ships through this area are trained in how to handle an attack by pirates. It is through this training that the captain stepped up not letting the pirates get the best of him.  It is also through this level of discipline that our trained armed forces were able to secure the release of  the Captain and his crew. The Captain was not going to allow these pirates to take him and his crew down. Determination, diligence and focus are how this crew and all those involved in the rescue were able to help bring about a positive outcome.

There are times in our lives where pirates board our lives. Situations happen out of the blue where the intentions are to bring us down and hurt us.  These pirates work with the pirates of negativity.  Their goal is to attack, steal and see how far down they can bring us down. They are ambassadors for Satan. They love to see a ship go down in a blaze of glory.  Much like the pirates who took that ship heading to Kenya, they are out for themselves and no one else.

pirates on ship

When these pirates attack we have to remain focused, determined, disciplined, and diligent on how we respond.  Just as the Captain and the crew were during those initial grueling hours of captivity, it is during these times when it is even more important that we stay focused on God’s word, hold tight to His hand and seek the good within the evil.

running

There are times, however, when we do the opposite. Something bad/evil happens and we take off running. We run looking for answers in other places rather than seeking the answer from God. For some reason, we feel as though God isn’t going to make the outcome a positive one and he just doesn’t work fast enough for us. Thus, we go wondering to the wrong things for the answers. It is when we do this we are allowing the pirates to take us down. We are allowing them to sink our ship.

sinking ship

Saul is an example of allowing pirates to sink his ship. He was God’s ( The Captain’s) choice of being the first king of Israel. Samuel was instructed by God to anoint Saul as king. However, as time went on Saul began to be disobedient to God. As a result, he began running and looking for answers outside of going to God, listening for God and trusting God.  He went as far as looking for answers through mediums. Eventually, all of his  running, disobeying God and seeking answers outside of God got the better of him. He reached the point where he could not see beyond where he was standing and deliberately fell on his sword and killed himself.  He allowed the pirates of disobedience and hostility to take over his life and he went down not in a blaze of glory but in a glaze of tragedy.

There are going to be times when pirates are going to board our ship. They are going to try their best  to take us down. It is in those moments we need to realize that no matter how horrible the pirate is treating us or the situation is going God will use the situation for good if we acknowledge him and allow him. The key is that we have to grab tighter to his hand. We have to trust our Captain and realize he is at work in the situation even though we feel as though he is not there.  It is so important not to give into the temptation of running to other things and people looking for the answer(s) we think will fix the situation.

holding God's hand

May we be like Captain Phillips when the pirates board our ship. May we stay focused on God and diligent on how we respond. Also, may we have the following scriptures inscribed on our hearts and say them repeatedly to ourselves as we face those grueling hours of what feels like captivity. If we do this there is NO WAY the pirates can take us down and steal our joy in the LORD.

“And we KNOW that in ALL things God works for the good of those who love him.”

Romans 8:28

“I can do ALL this through him who gives me strength.”

Philippians 4:13

In closing, I want to share a beautiful paragraph that is in my Life Application Bible. It sums up the theme of the book of Samuel. It is something I have copied into  my notes and look at it when those ugly pirates try to board my ship and take me down. I encourage you to print it and put it somewhere to have as an affirmation during those times ugly pirates are boarding your ship.

“God is at work in this world, even when we can’t see what he is doing. No matter what

kinds of pressures we must endure or how many changes we must face, God is ULTIMATELY

in control of our situation. Being confident in God’s sovereignty we can face the difficult situations

in our lives with BOLDNESS.”

Don’t Give Up Rise Up!

life

Life. It happens. There are times when life happens and blessings are bestowed upon us. Then there are times in life where so many things are happening that we throw our hands up in the air and ask; “what’s next?”.

There are events in life that we feel are unfair. When these events happen we have two choices. Choice number one is we can throw our hands in the air and simply sit down and give up. Choice number two is that we can put the situation into God’s hands and allow Him to do His work. It is when we place the situation into God’s hands  and allow Him to work we can RISE UP!

joseph

There are so many examples of people rising up out of dismal situations. One example is Joseph ( son of Jacob).  God gave Joseph  dreams and in the beginning Joseph was prideful of these dreams. So much so that when he told his family that he dreamed that one day they would bow down to him, they became angry with him. In response to Joseph, his brothers sold him into slavery.

As the story unfolds, we see Joseph become a man of integrity. He was tempted by Potiphar’s wife and he did not yield to it. Yet, he was put in prison for a long time. It seems that Joseph just rolled and went with the flow. While in prison he kept a positive attitude. It seems for every step he was put back he kept on putting another step forward. It was his faith in God, obedience to God that helped him rise up  in every situation that he faced. He didn’t ask the “why?” questions like most of us do but he just simply said; “what do I need to do now?”

don't quit

In the end, we know that Joseph entered into the favor of Pharaoh and became Pharaoh’s overseer of Egypt’s land. He saved the land from famine whereas his homeland faced famine. It is in the midst of this famine when Joseph’s brothers arrived asking for help. In other words, they were before Joseph and were bowing to him. Wouldn’t you have liked to have been a fly on the wall when they learned that it was their brother they were bowing to? I am sure it was quite a scene.

Joseph had setbacks after setbacks. Yet, he did not give up and sit down. Instead, he chose to RISE UP! He kept the faith, he was obedient to God, and in every situation he was put in he made the best of it.

keep going
Are you in the midst of a situation and you so want to throw your hands up in the air and give up?  Maybe you are at your wits in looking for answers and/or solutions. I want to encourage you that no matter the circumstance know that it can be and will be used for good. Romans 8:28 reminds us; “And we KNOW that in all things God works for the good of those who love him., who have been called according to His purpose.”

In the midst of the situation that you are in, remember to count your blessings. I have always encouraged people to keep a blessings journal. Start out with writing at least five blessings a day. As the days pass, you will see that there will be more blessings than you could have ever imagined, keep a positive attitude, make the best of everyday and look up because when you do, you will Rise Up!

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“You’re Exactly Where You’re Suppose To Be”

Jim Hawkins, Andy Andrews, April Hawkins Memorial Weekend, 2011

Jim and I with Author Andy Andrews @ 2011 Gaither Festival, Gatlinburg, TN

Andy Andrews has become one of my favorite authors. Over the last two years, I have been blessed to hear Andy speak at the Gaither Family Festival in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. As a matter of fact, the first time I heard Andy speak, I was coming out of that cloud of darkness of having health problems and having to re-define my purpose. It was through hearing Andy speak about Jones, a character in his book, The Noticer  where I began to see a new beginning and purpose for my life.

Andy began his talk about his personal life of being homeless at one time. He slept quite often under a pier and just like any other homeless person he would scrape around for food and work when and where he could. One evening, while settling down for the night under a pier, he met Jones. It was in meeting Jones that Andy’s life began to take a turn for the better.

Jones noticed Andy and where he was in his life.  He saw what Andy could be and how Andy could use where he was at that moment in his life for the better. Jones began to plant seeds in Andy’s life that made Andy think and reach beyond the moment.  Most of all, Jones encouraged Andy.

Jones not only does this with Andy in the book The Noticer  but Jones is very attentive to the people who are placed in his life. He sees many people in many situations. The people who cross Jones’ path seem to be dealing with some sort of struggle whether it be marriage trouble, family trouble, or just trying to define their purpose in life, Jones takes time to listen, to sow seeds of hope, and spread encouragement.

I love the paragraph in the first chapter where it reads:

” ‘ So my contention is that your are right where you are suppose to be.’ The old man scooped up

a double handful of the white sand and let it pour from his fingers. ‘It may look like barren sand to you,

but nothing could be further from the truth. I say to you that, as you lay your head down tonight, you are sleeping on fertile ground. Think. Learn. Pray. Plan. Dream. For soon…you will become.’

Wow!” is what I thought as I read that paragraph. Everything that happens God can use to make us a better person and give us brighter future. As I heard Andy speak on this in Gatlinburg and as I read this book, I reflected back on the previous year and a half. Then, I asked myself; “how can all that has happened to me medically and all the sour stuff from the past make it a better future for me?

 I share in my post Out of the Pit Came Purpose, of how I had to begin to re-define my life and my purpose. Lost and feeling hopeless, it was like a bad hand of cards, I had nothing. At least I thought I had nothing. Then, my son, Drew comes along and tells me I need to put my thoughts into words. Not long after, I hear Andy speak of his story and hear him say ‘everyone can DO something,’ I knew then God was about to use my background, all my struggles to use to encourage  and sow seeds of hope in others. What God had been saying to me for a long time finally clicked through the words of my son, through Andy’s sharing and through Jones who had great influence in many people’s lives. I could do something!

Today, you may be someone who is struggling with life. You are at a point to where you are saying “if there is a God, why is this happening to me, where is the purpose in all of this?”  Or, you may think, ” there is not a thing I can do because I know I am a loser.”  In the words of Andy Andrews, ‘yes, you CAN DO something!’  God has a plan and purpose for you. Believe it or not, God can use you right where you are in that pit of self-pity, hurt, anger and hopelessness.  God can include what is happening now into His weaving of a better day ahead.

“You are right were you are suppose to be.” For some of us, it is getting so far down into that pit that the only place we have is to look up. It is when we begin looking up we can do what Jones told Andy to do and that is to THINK. LEARN. PRAY. PLAN. DREAM.” I love the Bon Jovi song Welcome To Wherever You Are. In this song a  lyric goes; “welcome to wherever you are, this is your life, you’ve made it this far. Welcome, You’ve got to believe, right here, right now,  you are exactly where you are suppose to be. Welcome to wherever you are. It also says …remember that  you are perfect, God makes no mistakes.”  When we realize that God doesn’t make mistakes, we are perfect in His eyes,  and that He can use the fires we walk through for a better tomorrow, it is then we get up out of our chairs and ‘Do Something!’

As you begin to do something, it is then you use your experience to sow seeds in others. You sow seeds through words of encouragement, by listening to someone’s story and see the good in everyone and every situation. Over time, I have learned through every situation I encounter with others and in my personal life, that there are blessings taking place. Sometimes, it takes hindsight to see those blessings but they are ever so present.

This past summer, there was a time where we could go up to meet with Andy, have pictures taken and books signed. When I saw this line, I grabbed Jim and said ‘we have got to go speak with Andy!”   As I introduced myself and Jim to Andy, I shared a little  of my story of where I had been and how my purpose unfolded through his talks and through his sharing about his relationship with Jones.  I told him I went home and did something!  My doing something is this website, sharing the love, hope and encouragement of Christ with others. Some of my readers I know personally and others I will never meet. However, it is my prayer that through sharing my story, my thoughts and my love for Christ will sow seeds of hope in those who are looking for a purpose in life and who are questioning  their current circumstances.

In the days ahead, I encourage you to notice someone who may be in that pit. Just as Jones did with Andy and just as my son, Drew and Andy Andrews did with me, let them know that they can do something!  As the song goes, “God makes no mistakes.”  He can take every situation and use it for His glory (Romans 8:28).

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