It's All Fun and Games Till Things Fail to Work  

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Last week, I was getting this continual message on my phone, indicating I had problems. I recently acquired a new phone that has so many bells and whistles that it could whistle Dixie and have a church bell sound at the same time. Ok, maybe that was a bit of an extreme, but it does have a lot of features. I am still learning the features, that even for a tech savvy guy, it takes a while.

I called up Tech Support and they told me one thing. I tried it and it didn’t work. Before getting off the phone the guy said he would call me. Well, with the problems that were happening, I couldn’t receive anything - phone calls, texts, e-mail, etc. So, he called and had to leave a voicemail. I couldn’t call him directly, but I had to call back anyway, since that proposed solution didn’t fix the problem.

When I called back I was able to find out what the problem was and get it taken care of. Something on the company’s end was adjusted causing all the problems. They reconfigured the settings and the phone worked well.

Life can be like that. I recently experienced the need to replace my car battery. Not a fun time either.

Anything that works correctly is a blessing. However, when things start working incorrectly, then we have a problem. This brings to mind the famous Apollo 13 line…“Houston, we have problem”.

We can apply this to Jesus’ church. There are so many working parts that are moving this way and that. So, we’re bound to run into each other from time to time. Sometimes that “bump” may hurt someone. However, to be the body that Christ designed, we need to work and be together.

We may work together for a while and things will seem “fun”, but then when something goes out of whack or fails to work, the fun ceases. I need to be continually reminded of this so that I can be praying and be active in doing my part.

Let’s do all we can to try to keep the “fun” alive and be able to use the features that His Body is designed to have - fellowship, teammwork, unification, etc.Share/Bookmark

Going Green: Keeping Your "House" Insulated  

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Last evening, HGTV gave away their "green 'dream' home". Carter Oosterhouse is a "green" guy. He promotes a lot of environmentally friendly projects. He was the host and was giving the viewer a tour of the house and its features before they had their big reveal of the winner.

Being "green" is a big deal. It seems that situations like global warming, landfill problems, and other situations have become more and more known, the principle of "going green" grows. Whether it is recycling, buying things that have been recycled, reusing items for other projects, or a number of other possibilities, ways to "go green" is gaining popularity.

Yesterday, we focused on another way we can "go green", insulating our 'houses'. When you insulate you conserve energy by running your heating/cooling unit less. Also, the principle holds true when you seal the cracks/leaks. Here are some applications to choose from to use from yesterday's message...

  1. Think about areas in your life that seem weakest or areas you are tempted. Put in some extra "insulation" (prayer, bible reading, bible meditation, etc.) concerning those areas so that you will not put the energy into those areas and/or those areas will not be able to penetrate you.
  2. Let the Son In - Let Jesus be everything in your life - during your ups and downs. Look for Him to surprise you as He reveals himself in various ways, places, and situations.
  3. Remove old layers of insullation - We all have parts of us that need to be thrown out. As old insullation breaks down, so does some of our senses for things. Don't be tolerant of everything and don't be legalistic. Enjoy your life as a Christian as you enjoy things.

If all we are doing is keeping ourselves from being insullated or keeping the old insulation then we are not taking advantage of what it can mean to "go green". These old areas will probably negatively affect our environment. If we don't get rid of habits that negatively affect the environment, then we're just polluting the area, instead of enhancing it.

"Go green" and make the environment you're in, better!Share/Bookmark

Your Talent Isn't Yours  

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We live in a very selfish world. I am one of them. I like to have things my way. I like to do things what I want to do. The plot thickens when you want what you want and they are different. That is our society.

This also reflects to a different part of our culture. We tend to be anyone but the Good Samaritan. We walk on the other side. We totally ignore. We are too busy to care. This also plays into how we use our talents.

With reference to the story of the Good Samaritan, they all had the ability to care for a victim. They had a talent that they refused to use...care. So many of us have talents and we tend to think they are our talents. However, I was listening to a cool new show that came out this spring on FOX and the main character said the line (I hope I quoted it right) that makes up this week's quote...

"You've got it all wrong. You have a talent and it isn't yours. It is to be used for other people." - "Cal Lightman", character from Lie to Me

The premise of the show is an agency that studies facial expressions to determine if one is lying or not. I don't know how true it is, but there are probably some true expressions that indicate different feelings. The workers interview and study people to see if they are telling the truth, and if not, why. All these characters have a talent, which is put to good use. However, the main character said at the end of an episode the line above.

WOW!

It hit me. My talents are not mine. They are given to me to be used for others. Just like your talents are also.

As talents are as broad as any spectrum, so the uses span that much further. That is a huge net that is able to help people.

You have a talent, but do not hoard it. Use it to help others. Don't allow yourself to pass on the other side of a situation by not helping out, be like the Good Samaritan and use your talent to benefit others! Don't get it wrong and think that your talent is yours....'cause it is not!

Reminding myself that my talent isn't mine...Share/Bookmark

CAMOUFLAGE: What Are You Hiding?  

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I was interested at what the "text book" definition was of the word "camouflage". I was not surprised to not find any special meaning. It basically means to disguise, whether it is by clothes you put on or not giving all the details in a conversation. It derives from a French word and is dated at 1917 (so it is not as old of a word as some).

One of the biggest downfalls of "church" is the camouflage that we can easily put on each time we're together. This day may be one of the few that you are wearing a camouflage outfit, but this is probably not the only time you've worn "camouflage". We put on the traditional "nice" clothes when we come to assembly, when there is little that is "nice" going on in us.

Sometimes we come to assembly with our camouflage on, hunting people. We may shoot a glare at someone, stab them with our comments, or hide out to avoid. We're peering around trying to make sure that we don't have to be around them.

Other times, we come to assembly with our camouflage on, deceiving people. We are deceiving people because we don't want them to know what is really going on in our life. We don't want them to know that our week was terrible, that we just had a fight with a family member on the way (or an ongoing fight), or that we would rather not be here at all. No, we would rather put on our camouflage (clothes or smile) and pretend like everything is fine.

Christians are called to be unified and bear one another's burdens, to name a couple of "to be's". We are not ever asked to camouflage our life. Going to assembly or just meeting with your brethren, is a great time to gain the faith strength needed to head back out to be hunting for Christ's sake.

Do you tend to wear "camo" to assembly? Leave it at home, next time. Let people see you. Let them see your good weeks and bad. The church is here to help, not provide a place for you to hide!Share/Bookmark

Hunter or the Hunted  

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The outdoors is a great place to connect with our Creator. Those who enjoy hunting/fishing feel a sense of relaxation through being outdoors - sometimes for long periods of time. There are times when one will get up earlier than ever, sit in the cold for hours, come home with nothing, and think it was one of the greatest days they've had in a while.

The thrill in the suspense of waiting for that 10-pointer to come around keeps people going out again and again. If that "perfect one" doesn't come around after a long while, then they may settle for a smaller one. However, the fact that they killed a deer (in this case) revs them up! Shooting fowl has similar feelings. Coming home with many-a-bird lets them show off their hunt.

As we go through our life, we must be able to comprehend if we are the hunter or the hunted. Saul was a hunter of God's people, literally. He hunted them down and wanted them destroyed. However, as he was going to Damascus (with the intent to hunt more Christians down), he became the hunted, by God. This event changed him to be a hunter for God. He wanted people to be a part of what he is now a part of, which he was just persecuting people for, days earlier. Here are some applications to choose from to use this week...

  1. You make the choice, with each choice, of whether you are going to be the hunter or the hunted - pursuing God vs. pursued by self/Satan/sin. Make the right choice!
  2. Leaders are needed in households. Leaders represent the direction of the family. Be a leader in your family that directs the family toward hunting for God.
  3. Too much is at risk to not let your family be hunted, instead of hunting. Don't let your family be at risk! Maybe even, take time to pray, read scripture, etc. of an evening, sometime before everyone goes to bed.
  4. The next time you go hunting - for game, clothes, a part for machinery, etc. - notice how much effort you put into it, then take a chance to put that much effort into pursuing God.
  5. Part of going hunting/fishing/camping is being prepared. Don't let yourself be caught off guard, on a daily basis, for that sudden Satan approach!
It is enjoyable to go hunting, but not enjoyable to be hunted. It raises your blood pressure as your heart beats faster. Overall, not the most healthy for you if you were going through this day after day. One of the best things we can do is to make sure that we are as prepared as possible and to take the offensive side, to hunt for God.

Again, you have to make the choice/commitment of which you are going to be - hunter or hunted. As you go through life, I hope that you will choose to be a hunter, pursuing God with everything He has given you!

Have a great week hunting for God!

Putting the camo on...Share/Bookmark

A View of Life: Caterpillar vs. Butterfly  

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The way that you view your life has a corresponding impact on how you react to life. Your attitude will also be affected by the way you view and react to life. It is easy to look at life in a negative light when things are not going well, likewise with the reverse. However, it takes a real talent to look at life in a positive way when things are not going well. Especially, when the negative things seem to be piling up and up and up!

I have been able to see the positive in negative situations. It does take a good amount of effort to do so. Overall, I know that God is usually doing something with me, in the areas I can't control. I try to see the lesson needed to learn or how I am being shaped or who I am able to impact.

This week's quote was a unique approach to viewing life and your situations. Read it and see what you see in it...

What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly. ~
Richard Bach


I've been guilty of thinking that a situation is the end point. However, it could be just a stage to get to an end point. As insects develop, specifically, the butterfly, there are stages it must go through to get to that point.
  • Caterpillar stage - where we may have to crawl on our bellies and going through life slowly, only seeing things from the ground level (unless we climb up to something).
  • Cocoon stage - where we must wait until the time is right, enduring anything that may come our way (weather, predators, accidental squashings, etc.)
  • Butterfly stage - where we get to fly to infinite places and heights, seeing how all the work and waiting was worth it.
Using the butterfly development to illustrate our reaction to life, there will be times in our life that stages may overlap one another. You may be in a cocoon stage in one situation, but are in a caterpillar stage in a totally different area.

Regardless of what stage you are in, understand that though you may be wanting to be at the butterfly stage, you may actually be in one of the other stages. Wait for the time when you get to fly to new heights!

Take time to enjoy whatever stage you are in...there are lessons in each stage!

Appreciating the stages...Share/Bookmark

A business is in business to stay in business. If you are a part of a business, you are a person who has customers or potential customers. Any given month, could, potentially, be your last month. You are not in business because you presume your customers will always come to you (at least I hope you aren't). You know you have to put in effort to keep your customers and/or gain other customers. You may not be in business to "drive out" competition, but to make money. Even if you are in a business that may be one described as "job security", you still have certain "requirements" to keep your business afloat.

As a person who, in principle, is trying to help grow a "business", I decided to read a book that is intended for business people. Even though I am in the ministry business, this book has lots of applications. Since it is a business book, I thought I would share a bit of it with business people.

The book is titled "Collapse of Distinction" by Scott McKain. I am about halfway through the book and have really enjoyed every page of it. What I want to share with you is this, "Every point of contact with your customer provides an opportunity for distinction." Re-read that quote. That is just one of many lines I highlighted.

How you treat your customers really affects a lot. Too often we do not press the importance of how the point of contact can cause you to be distinct from someone else. If you provide an oil change, how are you different to that customer than the business that provides one down the street? If you sell houses, how are you different than any other Realtor? If you do accounting, how are you different than any other accountant? Do any of you send birthday cards to your clients, once you have their addresses? Have you ever thought about providing something free for first time customers? Doing taxes free the first year? Giving out free cups of coffee to Starbucks? Maybe even inviting a customer or potential customer over to your own house for dinner - not as a big party, either. Those are just some possibilities that may make you different than your customer.

You've got to make your business different in more ways that color scheme, title, or a few seasonings. Some stores presumed they were strong enough in their market without worrying about this no-name store that was starting up from Bentonville, Arkansas. You know what store that is...years later they are a staple in America...Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart is distinct. McDonald's is distinct. Target is distinct. Starbuck's is distinct. However, they can't presume they will always be in business. They are constantly looking for ways to be distinct. Once they fail to "not be concerned" about other competitors, they will collapse. All businesses need to focus on how they can keep from being involved in a collapse of distinction.

If you'd like for me to discuss any more of the book with you, I'd be glad to. Feel free to contact me by leaving a comment or texting "ichthus" to 50500.Share/Bookmark

Going Green: Choosing the Right System  

Posted by Jarrod Spencer

Have you ever noticed how enjoyable it is to go shopping for hot water heaters, central air conditioner units, or sump pumps? I would guess that most of you are thinking there is nothing enjoyable about shopping for those. They are usually bought out of necessity when a previous one quits working. You may look for warranties, life-expectancy, or some other feature. However, you generally do not look for style. Most people who ever come into your home will never see them.

You can go a cheaper approach, which may work out. However, with some products, getting a little bit better model can make a difference. I've had a experiences of both.

Regardless of cost, it is important to choose the right system. When it comes to systems that affect the environment (pollution, noise, smell, etc.), you need to choose the right one so that it will enhance the environment, instead of causing the environment to be degraded.

Yesterday, we looked at our second lesson in the "Going Green" series, taken from I Kings 18. As we are working toward 'altering our environment for positive change', we must choose which system we are going to use. Here are some applications to choose from to use this week...

  1. Ponder what may be the 'lord' of your life. Is it money/debt, self, temptations (gossip, eyes, not share Jesus, etc.), greed, glamor, legalism, grumpiness, health, materialism, addictions...
  2. Think about why you would choose a different 'system'. Different systems will affect your environment in a negative way
  3. Choosing a different system, other than God's, will cause "sacrifices not to be burned". So, ask yourself, what makes a different system worthwhile?
  4. Investing in His system will allow you to see surprises that you normally might miss. Allow yourself to invest in His system so that you will see surprises, one which may be to see "rocks melt", which is what they saw in the text.

Let God's system be the "AC" unit you need for 'green' cooling. It will keep you from having to get hot and it will be great for your environment! Others will benefit too!

Go green and choose the right system that will enhance the environment you are in!

Going green...Share/Bookmark

Life Under Control  

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I don't know how many times I said something like "Well, Chris's mom and dad let him go". Then my parents would respond, "We're not concerned with Chris, we're concerned with you." Ugh! My life was temporarily ruined! I didn't get what I wanted and I had a fight with a parent that "didn't understand me" anyway. Or, there were the times that someone else made me do something, be it a dare, being called a degrading name, or some other "reason" for causing me to go through with an action. It was "out of my control" to do it, right? That might have been what I thought, but it isn't what was actual.

Oh, those were the days! Learning who is in control of your life and following through with it. Even adults like to make excuses for why things go the way they do. That brings us to this week's quote...

Everyone's life is under someone's control - it might as well be under your own so that you can direct your destiny. ~ Harry Tucker

Whose control are you under? Have you had your temporary "peer pressure" moments when you caved to someone else, essentially being under their control? Had those "can't say no" moments? We've all been there.

The valuable lesson to learn is to understand when we need to be under the control of someone else and when we need to decide things for ourselves. I am not speaking of being under the control of God, that is a given. I am simply talking about the control we're under in different situations here, on earth.

Sometimes we need to get a backbone and stand up for what we believe in, in any given situation. Understand when you need to say no and when you can agree to something. Don't let people govern your life (guidance in life is OK).

Live your life under your control, where you decide the outcome and are pleased with the choices.

Gaining control...Share/Bookmark

“Up”: Don’t Forget the People You Pass  

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Last week, my family had the privilege of going to see the movie “Up”. A simple movie about a guy who fulfills a promise. Along the way he encounters different problems that were not in the original plans of accomplishing his goal. Isn’t this how life tends to treat us?

As I watched the movie, I wondered about the concept of getting to your goal and the different situations that come to you as you pursue that goal. Often times we are so caught up in being on time, graduating, making a good appearance, or bettering our career that we fail to see the little things that are going on all around us. Once we arrive at the goal, we may look back and see all the things that were behind us that we failed to see during our journey to our goal.

As mentioned, in the movie, the guy is heading toward a goal of fulfilling a promise. He is within eyeshot of his goal when a snag takes place (not the first in the journey). He then has to take an alternate route, with time being of the essence. During the alternate route other snags are encountered.

Fast forwarding a bit, he accomplishes his goal. He is ready to relax. However, another snag comes into play. This causes lots of “Oh, brothers” and rolling of the eyes as this was certainly not in the plans. After all, the reason behind this snag is because of previous ones.

The movie ends on a great note. I think that the main character learned this lesson. Sure, it isn’t the only lesson from the movie, just the one I came away with.

So, if you want to further your personal endeavors, don’t forget to see the blessings of snags. If you are trying to share Jesus with someone, don’t forget to be so focused on your goal that you put their feelings aside and do anything to accomplish your goal.

Remember the snags, they can help us too…Share/Bookmark

"Going Green" has been a hot topic for the last few years. With more and more people becoming aware and concerned with the environment, the craze continues to gain ground. Though I am not an environmentalist, I do get concerned with throwing so much trash away and thinking about the earth and generations to come.

When I was investigating the concept of "going green" I found out something interesting, at its essence. One simple explanation was "altering your activities to help your environment". When you enter a room/environment, we are going to affect that environment. What effect will you have when you enter your workplace, your home, a store/check out line, a restaurant, etc.?

This "Going Green" is not so much the global environment, but more the unseen environment/atmosphere. We looked at five of the seven churches in Revelation, chapters 2 & 3, to get an idea about how a bad environment is not very appealing to God. Here are some applications to choose from this week...

  1. Reflect back over the past few hours or days of work. How did your actions pollute or improve the environment?
  2. Reflect back over the past few hours or days at home. How did your actions pollute or improve the environment?
  3. Be conscious of trying to improve an environment which you enter in to. So, the next time you go shopping, try to improve the environment by helping someone, saying something nice to someone, calling your cashier by name, buying a cashier a candy bar - to say thanks, or some other way that may help the "environment".
  4. Pray that God would help you as you aspire to help the various environments that you are in.
  5. Self-reflect different areas that you need to clean up your body/mind "environment". Is there negativity toward someone? What do you need to do to "go green" and positively alter that environment?
  6. Pray for your church family so that we can have a positive environment for which God to work and that He will be pleased to "digest" our service and worship to Him.
Recycling, planting trees, reducing hazardous materials, and many other things will help the earth to not be polluted. It will also save many natural areas and habitats.

With these same concepts, we can "go green" and create an environment that is reduced from pollution and allow our environment to not be "polluted".

Remember the catch phrase from Woodsy the Owl..."Give a Hoot, Don't Pollute!" Click here to recall one of those commercials.Share/Bookmark

Doing Small And Unimportant Things Well  

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What have you done lately that would put you into any record books? Most all of us would answer that question with "Nothing". Whether we were just going about our lives or we don't feel that what we do has much significance will cause that answer to be "Nothing".

Whether it is being evangelistic, going to our job, going to school, or just going about our lives, many of the things that we do in life are small things. Small things are hard to see. You don't see all the dust in our houses, cause it is small. You don't see the "fine print", cause it is small. You don't notice the quiet person who doesn't speak to anyone, cause they are not out in front. Small things don't get noticed. Small things can lead to bigger things. That brings us to this week's quote...

No matter how small and unimportant what we are doing may seem, if we do it well, it may soon become the step that will lead us to better things. ~ Channing Pollock

What you have done lately may seem insignificant to you. It may seem insignificant to your life. In fact, they may actually be insignificant, at this point. Just like the snowflake is small, but many insignificant snowflakes together can make a huge impact.

So, if you think of your actions as insignificant, think again. If you think you can't make a difference in someone's life by doing something small, think again. God takes the small, weak, and insignificant things in your life to do something great! Nazareth was insignificant, as Nathanael asked, "What good thing can come out of Nazareth?!" The answer, JESUS!!!

What you are doing today can lead to a better thing that you ever imagined! Just look out...you never know when it will let itself be known.

Looking forward to what my insignificant things will become...Share/Bookmark

Living Wide Awake: Enjoy  

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Thrills, chills, and spills are ways I would describe the life I am privileged to live in Christ. A lot is packed into making this life thrilling. Meeting people, impacting people, and anticipating what is around the corner makes for a thrilling ride! Along with that comes the chills. Looking at how God connects the dots to lead people my way causes me to just be in awe and sends goose bumps up my spine. We all take a fall from time to time as we "learn". Sowing seed is always a learning experience, so the spills are expected. Regardless of the spills, they don't prevent the anticipation of God's interaction in my life.

These are a few of the reasons that the life of a Christian should be enjoyed. God has given us so much to appreciate that we often are going so fast on the road of life to "see the signs" that would lead us to appreciate. Or, we are slumbering around and are too "drowsy" to see anything of appreciation.

Sunday, we concluded our Living Wide Awake series by looking at enjoying life. Here are some applications to choose from to use...

  1. Thank God for giving you this day - air to breathe, things to see, house to live, family to care for, job to go to, etc.
  2. Ask God to make it known how you should be used this day/situation.
  3. Look for opportunities to be uncomfortable for Him and see what impact you can make.
  4. Open your eyes for people who may need your interaction - those having a rough day, losing a loved one, frustration, complaining, etc.
  5. Feeling weak? Count your blessings and get strength from Him as you look for the joy that comes from being a child of His. (The joy of the Lord is my strength - Nehemiah 8:10)
  6. Be joyous for someone else to lift them up so that their day may be lightened.
  7. "Say 'Hey, it's a good day', even if things aren't going my way. Jesus is alive and I am saved so, say 'Hey, it's a good day.'" - A Line From a FFH song

Enjoying life energizes you and dreading life drains you. Which choice will you make? As you read this you may give your pat answer of choosing the first one. However, when it comes right down to it, in the heat of a matter, it will be more difficult to choose the first one.

One thing that energizes me a lot is to hear of people who God has been working through! Whether I learn from what they've done or are experiencing, or I am simply encouraged, I love both situations!

May you be able to enjoy life this week, more than ever, as you take time to see what is going on around you. Look for God to be putting you in places where you can make an impact for the Kingdom - some places/people you may not even realize the potential of impact you can make!

Enjoying Life Wide Awake...Share/Bookmark

And the Winner is...  

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A popular phrase that is said a lot where they are handing out awards. In fifth grade I entered a science fair. I worked on creating an ear model. It was to show how the ear worked. My dad and I worked and worked on that. Then, we took it to the science fair. I was proud of that project. I can’t remember how I did with the speaking part to explain the model to the judge. However, I do remember the anticipation I felt when we went to the awards ceremony. “Is it me? Did I win?” were my thoughts. I also remember the utter shame and foolishness that I felt when my name wasn’t called for third, second, or first place. I had my dad take me home immediately after I found this news out. I didn’t want to have anything to do with that ear model again. I didn’t enter the next year.

This last week, the Powerball lottery was up to $222 million dollars. That isn’t pocket change for anyone. (As I am writing this before the drawing, I don’t know if anyone won or not) That money will make a difference in everyone’s life. Managed well, you wouldn’t have to do anything for the rest of your life. But what about all of the people who put in their one dollar, two, five, or ten dollars, that didn’t win? Will they play again? Most probably will. If no one won this drawing, there was another one last night (Saturday). Someone will eventually win and they will be financially set for life.

In our Christian walk, we sometimes feel like there is only one winner. Only one who “wins the race”. They see all the good things happening to everyone else, and just see their life as creeping toward miserable. Friends, that is not the case at all. The race is there for everyone who is “in Christ” to be able to finish. The finish line is put up again after each person has crossed it. We all get the chance to finish the race. We all can be winners in His kingdom.

Jesus continually holds an awards banquet and He has stacks and stacks of envelopes with cards inside with names on them. Jesus stands at the podium and says that infamous phrase, “And the winner is…” YOU! You are a winner! You have been given the honor of being a part of something great. Then, when all is over, you get to go and be with Him to an even better place, as He considers you a “good and faithful servant”.

How exciting and awesome is it to see yourself a winner! You don’t have to sit in the audience and wonder if your name is going to be called. He’s calling it continually. Relish in the fact that as a child of His, you are a winner! Kick up your heels, get a bounce in your step, puff out your chest because you are a winner! Show it off proudly but in a way that you want others to win, too. Who will you show your winning trophy to this week? Who do you want someone to hear their name mentioned after the phrase “And the winner is…”? Go, help someone else win, too!Share/Bookmark