Tag Archives: forgiveness

Parting Word From The WORD . . . How Deep the Father’s Love for Us

For most of us, we’re thankful to have the recent season of braggadocio, self-focus, and pride behind us. And for those of us who follow Christ, that season has left us even more aware of the condition of American culture and the depth to which we’ve fallen. It’s been a painful realization.

But the song, “How Deep the Father’s Love for Us,” sung by Nichole Nordeman, provided a tender balm to my heart yesterday. As I sat alone listening to the clearly-rendered words, I was reminded that regardless of the culture, my Heavenly Father loves me, His Son took my sin, and I can boast in Jesus Christ, and Him alone.

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Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
Isaiah 53:4-5 (NIV)

Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”
1 Corinthians 1:31 (NIV)

I pray God’s blessing on the work of your hands and your hearts,

Vonda

 

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Parting Words From The WORD . . . I Was Wrong

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

I was wrong.

For the past few months I’ve considered the condition of our world and have been praying for Jesus to return and end the struggle.

I reflected on these words of Isaiah–words that could have been written about contemporary America–and cried out to the Father for the evil to end.

What sorrow for those who say that evil is good and good is evil, that dark is light and light is dark, that bitter is sweet and sweet is bitter. Isaiah 5:20 (NLT)

However, the more I cried out to the Father for the hardship to end, the more I realized how self-centered my prayer had been. I know beyond a doubt that if God had answered my prayer as requested, my personal struggle would have been over. I would have been in the presence of my Father, face-to-face with the One who died for me and paid the ransom for my sin.

But what about the others?

What about those who haven’t heard? What about my family and friends who haven’t yet accepted the gift of salvation that is offered to them?

What about yours?

That’s when God showed me that my prayer was wrong. My prayer was all about me and how I wanted to escape the world’s troubles.

I was praying for escape, but what He wants is revival.

Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.
2 Chronicles 7:14 (NLT)

His desire is that we experience revival in our hearts, our families, our churches, our country, and our world. He will return on His timetable, not mine.

And we can be sure the timing of His return will be perfect, not one minute early or one minute late.

The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9 (KJV)

We should be praying for repentance and revival, not for escape from the world.

Who are you praying for?

Grace and peace,

Vonda

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Parting Words From The WORD…Three Scripted Words

Jesus carrying cross Lost Seed. dot comThree Scripted Words–Which Will You Choose?

I’ve always loved drama. From the time I was a little girl, sitting in front of a black and white TV, I knew that movies and scripts could reach down inside and grab a part of the soul that few things could ever touch.

By the time I was a teenager, I knew the power of the stage, the power of scripted words. And nothing proved it better than Frank Zeffirelli’s movie, Romeo and Juliet. The story. The costumes. The music. The words. I was captivated! I must have watched it a hundred times, and yet each time, it was as if I were seeing it afresh, anew.

My heart danced the night Romeo and Juliet danced—their faces and their lives hidden behind the masks, falling into a forbidden love. A love of good and evil.

Two sides. Two families. The Capulets and the Montagues.

You know the story. Romeo and Juliet fall in love, secretly marry, and spend one night together. The next day, Romeo kills Juliet’s cousin in a battle between their families, and then must escape to save his own life. Unaware of his daughter’s marriage to Romeo, Juliet’s father decrees she will marry another man.

Juliet is afraid to reveal the truth, so she meets with the priest and together they devise a plan that will allow the couple to be together forever. It is a fail-proof plan. With the help of a sleeping potion, Juliet will feign death, and Romeo will return to the city and retrieve her from the tomb. They will escape to live their life of love together, and no one will ever know the truth. A messenger is sent to deliver the fail-proof, scripted plan to Romeo.

But before the messenger reaches him, Romeo hears the terrible news that his beloved wife has died. So he devises his own plan—to join her in death. He mounts his horse and takes off for the city. But Juliet’s messenger and Romeo pass each other in the night. The grieving husband continues toward death, unaware of the truth.

It is a fateful mistake.

Romeo arrives, locates the tomb and—thinking his true love is dead—drinks his own poison in an effort to join her. Death comes quickly and Romeo falls across his wife’s body. Moments later, Juliet awakens to find her Romeo dead. Unable to imagine life without her husband, she tries to drink from Romeo’s vial, but finds it empty. She eagerly kisses her still-warm Romeo, hoping to find poison on his lips. When she finds none, she grabs his sword and thrusts it into her own body.

Her blood drips to the ground.

I sat there in the theater, my eyes glued to the screen, my body jerking with the sobs of emotion—unable to see the images through the tears filling my eyes and streaming down my face. My heart was broken for the two lovers, the two innocents who were merely on opposite sides of a battle, a battle they hadn’t chosen.

Joint funerals unite the city. The music and visuals carry us through the pain and agony.

Two families. Two sides. Joined in grief. Good and evil, exposed in death.

A voice cries from the screen:

“All . . . are . . . punished!”

Three scripted words, spoken to bring the emotion of the story to one pivotal moment. It works. I grieve, along with the Capulets and the Montagues. I can hardly stand it.

And it’s only a movie.jesus holding cross lost seed dot com

But two thousand years ago, there was another script, another drama. Two families. Two sides. Good and evil. God and Satan.

Jesus knew the story by heart because before time began, He had sat down with the Father and the Holy Spirit, and the three of Them wrote the script . . . scene by scene, line by line, word by word.

Directed by the words of the prophets, the story unfolds. The cast—often without their knowledge—follows the plan and brings the story to its pre-ordained conclusion. No actors. No lines to learn, no songs to sing. Because this time, it’s real.

And the story—although a script—is true.

But this drama wasn’t written to generate emotion; it was written to bring freedom and new life for all mankind. The only way to unite a holy God and unholy man was through the sacrifice of a perfect, sinless lamb—Jesus. He would have to die.

No sleeping potion to feign death. No escape from the Father’s decree. Sin required a blood sacrifice . . . and Jesus willingly signed up for the part. After all, He was the only One Who qualified.

His blood fell to the ground.

But the story doesn’t end there. Because from the cross, at the height of His suffering, Jesus cried the three words scripted thousands of years before:

“It . . . is . . . finished!”

Three words, spoken to bring the sin of man to one pivotal moment. It works. I grieve, along with the sinners and the saved. I can hardly stand it.

Jesus, the sinless Grace-giver, received no grace that dark and mournful day. But because of His sacrifice, we—an unholy people—are united with a holy God.

We simply choose which script, which three little words, we want to follow: “All are punished” . . . or . . . “It is finished.”

Jesus is God’s Son.

We are sinners.

We can’t be good enough to get to heaven on our own.

We need a Savior.

That Savior is Jesus.

He is the sacrifice for our sin.

He took the punishment we deserve.

It . . .  is . . . finished!

Three powerful, little words that changed eternity.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

I pray God’s blessing as we celebrate our Risen Lord!

Vonda

Thanks for Sharing!

Which script will you choose? “All are punished” or “It is finished”? #Cross #Jesus #Easter (Click to Tweet)

(Images courtesy of Lost Seed)

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Parting Words From The WORD…Thank You For the Cross, Jesus

As we approach the Easter season, my heart longs for an even closer relationship with our beloved Jesus, the One Who died for you and me.

Would you turn off the all the distractions and join me in letting the words of this song lead us to worship the Sacrificial Lamb who took our sin? Forever He is risen! He is alive! Thank you, Jesus, for the cross.

 

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When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners.
Romans 5:6 (NLT)

Yes, we know the Lamb has overcome our sin, and because of that, we sing Hallelujah!

Vonda

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Parting Words From The WORD…My Sin Washed Pink?

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

It’s another crazy time around here, so now that Easter is only a few weeks away, I thought I’d rerun this post from the past. It’s one of my favorite reminders of what He’s done for me, and for you. PLEASE be sure to watch the video and listen to the words of the song. As my pastor says, if it doesn’t light your fire, your wood’s wet!

Some of you may have seen my Facebook post Sunday afternoon. I was praising God for Who He is and what He did in our service Sunday morning at Westside Church in Simpsonville, SC. The Lord moved so powerfully that we simply worshiped and gave testimony to His greatness for the entire service. Pastor Larry Scott had a message, but as God sometimes does, plans were changed.

Our youth had come home from beach camp, on fire for Jesus and sharing that fire with us. The Truth of His Word came through song and the message through praise. The words of one song, At the Cross by Chris Tomlin, spoke so tenderly to my heart. I can’t write the words out here because I don’t want to dishonor copyright law, but here are the words that broke me.

“…where Your love ran red and my sin washed white…”

Did you get that? His love ran RED and my sin was washed WHITE! My sin was washed white, not pink! Not a mixture of red and white, but all white. No guilt. No shame. His red blood didn’t partially cover my sin. I’m not partially clean, but completely, totally, forever washed clean and white! No trying to measure up. No missing the mark and starting over. No disgrace. No fear.

My sin is washed white! Hallelujah!

It’s been over 24 hours since that service, and I still can’t get that song, those words, and that picture out of my mind. My sin…all washed white by His red blood…forever. Thank you, Jesus.

“Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool…” Isaiah 1:18 NIV

Glory to His Name!

Here’s the official video from the Passion Conference 2014. Listen with your heart and your spirit. And then listen again. I can’t imagine anyone not being moved at the reality of our Lord’s grace. We owe it all to Him.

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Glory to His Name!

Vonda

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Parting Words From The Word…Following His Lead When I Don’t Want To

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

I don’t know why I don’t always follow His lead. I don’t know why I dare to question, or ignore, or put off responding. After all, I’ve experienced a lot of years walking with the Lord, some more closely than others.

But it wasn’t until recently that I realized I can look back on my many years and see that some of my most life-changing, spiritual-growth events came as a result of things I didn’t want to do.

For instance, way back in 1997, I didn’t want to share my marriage testimony with the women of my church. These women saw me as an upstanding Christian woman who had a long, happy marriage and who loved their kids. They didn’t know about how I had bulldozed my way through the first 15 years of my marriage. They hadn’t seen the dangerous repercussions of that experience. They didn’t know that event had propelled me to submit to the Father and seek to change who I was.

They didn’t know . . . and I liked it that way.

When God told me in 1997 that I had to share that experience with my church friends, I was quick to let Him know exactly what I thought about His great idea. It was a plain and simple “No way!”

I won’t go through all the gory details, but I’ll just say that His details were miraculous, parting-of-the-sea, a line-in-the-sand moment I couldn’t ignore. And I will say God took me kicking and screaming into women’s ministry through that experience. My life has never been the same. (If you’re interested, you can read about those details here and here.)

So, what if I had never obeyed, albeit defiantly? What if I had stuck to my guns, kept my secret, and never come clean? I don’t know that the world would be that much different, but I sure would be. I would have missed out on close to 20 years of serving Him as a Christian speaker.

I would have missed out on a lot.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

What about you? Are you hearing His voice, but saying no? Are you standing your ground, defying His plan for your life?

You could be missing out on a lot.

I pray God’s blessing on the work of your hands and your hearts,

Vonda

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Parting Words From The WORD…The More I Seek You

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

 

It’s Thursday night as I write this. My heart is so full. Tonight I had the joy of leading a precious sister to the love, grace, and mercy of our Lord. Her entire life has been one of abuse from those who should have cared for her. But tonight she knows the Truth of the Gospel. She’s clean, her past is gone, and she finally knows that she’s loved, simply for who she is.

I got home and couldn’t wait to get to my office so I could worship and praise Him alone. Just the two of us. And now I invite you to have your own time with Him.

After all, the more we seek Him, the more we find Him; and the more we find Him, the more we love Him. I pray that you’ll take the time today to seek, find, and love Him.

 

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You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water. Psalm 63:1 (NIV)

 

I pray God’s blessing on the work of your hands and your hearts,

Vonda

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Parting Words From The WORD…The New Me

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

About ten years ago, my granddaughter, Ellie, and I were passing the time on a family road trip by playing one of our favorite travel games, I Spy. It was Ellie’s turn and she had me searching high and low for something purple, our favorite color.

It wasn’t the beach towel, the flower on her shirt, or her purple nail polish. I had a good view of the entire van from my back seat location, but it wasn’t helping. What else could it possibly be?

“You’ll never guess this one,” the seven-year-old announced. That was all I needed to hear. As I was being transported down the highway at 70 miles per hour, my competitive streak went into overdrive.

But there was nothing purple left in the car. “Are you sure you mean purple?” I asked, eyeing Christina’s sweater. “Could it be pink?”

“No, MaMa, it’s purple. I promise.” She crossed her arms. “You might as well give up. You’ll never guess it.”

“You know me better than that.” I crossed my own arms. “I never give up!”

Five minutes later, I gave up. “Okay, what is it?”

She pointed. I leaned over and scanned the floorboard. “There’s nothing purple down there.”

“Not there,” she said, pointing again. “There.”

I followed her pointing finger straight to my leg. My spider-veined leg.

Purple is no longer my favorite color.

This story is true, and one I love telling as I travel around the country. But even though I laugh every time I tell it, I must admit, there’s a little part of me that misses my former self. Maybe I need a new me.

I occasionally catch a makeover show claiming to create A New Me. The recipient of the makeover gift is usually thrilled with her New You results. She sports a new haircut and a new wardrobe and new lips. But regardless of how good this “new” person looks, underneath the surgery and the make up and the packaging, she’s still the same person, with the same baggage, the same struggles, and the same sin.

I’m thankful that when God created A New Vonda, He made me new inside and out. No make-up, no surgery, no fake body parts. He made me fresh and new, clean and white, forgiven and free. Truly a make-over gift.

And that’s why I write and speak. I know what it’s like to be spiritually wrinkled, walking around on spider-veined legs. I know how it feels to be covered in guilt…and I know how it feels to be free.

I can’t keep the Good News of this free gift to myself.

I have to speak.

Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. 1 Peter 3:15b (NIV)

Grace and peace,

Vonda

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3 Points to Consider if You’re Considering Self-Publishing, Call-Out for Kudos & MoGo7000, and Who Won Laurie Coombs’ Book?

Book signing fdp Bill LongshawIt’s another exciting day at The Christian Writer’s Den! First up: Let’s talk about self-publishing. It may be closer than you think!

Let’s be honest here. Back in the old days, self-publishing carried a stigma among writers. Self-publishing was for those who couldn’t get a traditional publishing contract. Self-publishing was a last resort.

But that’s no longer the case. Done well, self-publishing is now a respected route to holding your book in your hand. But it’s not for everyone in every situation. If you’re considering self-publishing, here are some points to consider.

1.  Consider your audience. If your goal is to write your family history, self-publishing is the perfect–and perhaps the only–route for you.

But the good news is, your audience can be more than family. If you’re a speaker who can have back-of-the-room sales or someone with a following through radio, television, or social media, self-publishing is likely to provide a larger income, or at least a larger profit margin. Dave Ramsey is a perfect example. Many of his books have been done through his own company, Lampo Press, and I have a feeling he’s made a bunch of money in the process.

Self-publishing is also a good fit if you’re writing for a niche market. One of the most successful self-publishing stories I know is about an author who wrote a book for caregivers of people with a specific disease. She had 10,000 books printed for an associational conference (back before print-on-demand technology), and sold every book within weeks or months. Now that’s writing to a niche market!

2.  Consider your attention to detail. Depending on the self-publisher you choose, you may be on your own when it comes to book covers, proofreading, editing, and formatting. Remember that in self-publishing, you are driving the editorial boat, and that can be a good or a bad thing.

Are you a graphic artist? If so, you could possibly create a great cover. Are you skilled at line editing, proofreading, and punctuation? Have you had valid input from others on your content or story structure, voice, and point of view? If you’ve answered yes to all these questions, then self-publishing could be a good fit.

If not, would you be willing to pay out of your own pocket, and probably upfront, for the services of reputable editors and graphic artists? That’s what it would take to make self-publishing the best choice for you.

3. Consider your motive. Most of us are at least somewhat impatient. I know I am. If your motivation is to get a book out fast at all costs, self-publishing can do that for you…but that doesn’t mean it’s a good reason to choose that route.

If speed is the only motivator, you’re likely to be disappointed in the outcome. Working fast without a quality goal could lead to missed typos, story holes, and funky formatting. A short turnaround and a quality product is completely possible, but it takes the right team, working hard together to bring it about.

Is fear of rejection your motive? No one likes rejection, but if you want to be a writer, you’ll most likely have to experience it. But avoiding rejection by going the self-publishing route is not the answer.

With fear as the sole motivator, you’re more likely to allow–either through ignorance or oversight–a less than quality product in the end. Fear can certainly lead you to investigate self-publishing, but it shouldn’t be the sole decision-maker.

So there you have it, three critical points to consider if you’re considering taking the reins. With the right audience, right attention to detail help, and right motive, self-publishing could be the best route for you.

(Photo courtesy of BillLongshaw/FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

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Calling all kudos!celebration - Morguefile

Okay, friends, it’s time for us to celebrate YOU and celebrate EACH OTHER! After all, that’s the goal of The Christian Writer’s Den–to encourage and instruct writers.

In order to do that, I need to hear from you! It doesn’t matter how small it may seem to you or how recently it’s been, every step forward is a step that leads to the next one.

So I want to know what you’ve been up to. Have you had something exciting happen recently in your writing or speaking life? Maybe you’ve had an article published, signed a book contract, released a new book, got an agent, or started a new blog. If so, we want to hear from you. Everybody’s welcome to share.

It’s really simple, but I do ask that you contact me with the info in this format and order ONLY:

**Your name
**Your state in two-letter abbreviation
**Link to your website or blog
**Your good news
**Link to your good news, if online (online bookstore, online article, etc)

I can’t wait for us to celebrate with you!

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mogo7000 logoWho Worked on Their MoGo7000 in June?

If you wrote at least 7000 new words on a book project in June, you can receive an entry in the drawing for the 2015 MoGo7000 $100 cash prize! It’s open to everyone who qualifies.

To report your June results, please leave a comment below with your total new words written on a book project in June. (Please do not send your totals by email or through the Contact page. Totals must be left as a comment here by next Sunday). 

If you missed out on last year’s money-winning writing challenge, don’t worry, the 2015 Challenge continues! Here are the MoGo7000 Challenge rules. All you have to do is write at least 7000 NEW words on a book project in any month and you’ll receive an entry into the end-of-the-year drawing for $100.

Each month that you qualify with 7000 new words, your name goes in the “hat” for the drawing. Reach the goal one month and you’ll have one entry. Just starting out? Don’t worry! Meet it the next 6 months and you’ll have 6 entries!

So what are you waiting for? Get started now and you could have and extra $100 next year. And it doesn’t cost you a cent. :-)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Laurie Coombs book cover

And finally, who won Laurie Coombs’ book, Letters From My Father’s Murderer?

According to Random.org, the winner is…

Sandy Quandt!

Congratulations, Sandy! To receive your free book, simply contact me with your snail mail address and Laurie will get your book right out to you!

And for those who didn’t win, here’s a direct Amazon link to Laurie Coombs’ Letters From My Father’s Murderer: A Journey of Forgiveness.

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Thanks for Tweeting…Sharing is sweet!

3 Points to Consider re: Self-Publishing, Call-Outs & Who Won Laurie’s Book? #pubtips #amwriting @VondaSkelton http://bit.ly/1ThfSsC (Click to Tweet)

Well that does it for another 1st Tuesday. I can’t wait to see your successes, so be sure to get your kudos and MoGo7000 information to me through the proper channels.

I pray God’s blessing on the work of your hands and your hearts,

Vonda

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Parting Words From The WORD…The Words of Jesus: Live Brave, Love Big

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

For many of us, this is a difficult season. In relationships, in the culture, in our families, in our churches, our schools, and throughout the world, we’re experiencing conflict, hardships, frustration, shock, despair, and heartbreak.

We’re told we should think this way or act that way or feel some other way. But regardless of what we think, act, or feel, one thing remains constant: The Truth is always true.

As I searched for Scripture to comfort and strengthen me, I realized many of Jesus’ words, spoken to His disciples as He sent them out in Matthew 10, are fitting words for us as His disciples today.

(NOTE: Studies have shown that Christians are notorious for not reading long passages of Scripture printed in text. Once we start reading, we recognize the passage and think we already know it. PLEASE read this passage slowly, take it in, and then apply the verses to your life and our world today. I pray it will bring you the comfort, strength, and insight it gave me.)

Do you see yourself in these words from Jesus?

“Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. So be as shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves. But beware! For you will be handed over to the courts and will be flogged with whips in the synagogues. You will stand trial before governors and kings because you are my followers. But this will be your opportunity to tell the rulers and other unbelievers about me. When you are arrested, don’t worry about how to respond or what to say. God will give you the right words at the right time. For it is not you who will be speaking—it will be the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.

“A brother will betray his brother to death, a father will betray his own child, and children will rebel against their parents and cause them to be killed. And all nations will hate you because you are my followers. But everyone who endures to the end will be saved. When you are persecuted in one town, flee to the next. I tell you the truth, the Son of Man will return before you have reached all the towns of Israel.

“Students are not greater than their teacher, and slaves are not greater than their master. Students are to be like their teacher, and slaves are to be like their master. And since I, the master of the household, have been called the prince of demons, the members of my household will be called by even worse names!

“But don’t be afraid of those who threaten you. For the time is coming when everything that is covered will be revealed, and all that is secret will be made known to all. What I tell you now in the darkness, shout abroad when daybreak comes. What I whisper in your ear, shout from the housetops for all to hear!

“Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

“Everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But everyone who denies me here on earth, I will also deny before my Father in heaven.

“Don’t imagine that I came to bring peace to the earth! I came not to bring peace, but a sword.

‘I have come to set a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. 
Your enemies will be right in your own household!’

“If you love your father or mother more than you love me, you are not worthy of being mine; or if you love your son or daughter more than me, you are not worthy of being mine. If you refuse to take up your cross and follow me, you are not worthy of being mine. If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it.” Matthew 10:16-28 and 32-39

How does that sound when compared to the events of our world, relationships, and family today? It certainly reminds me that regardless of how things look, God is still in control.

I think His words for us today would be: “Live brave. Love big. I told you it would be this way.”

Vonda

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