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More than conquerors

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When you think of the word ‘Conqueror’, what do you envision?

  • Overcomer?
  • Warrior?
  • Winner?

While the dictionary definition looks like this, when I think of the word ‘Conqueror’, I think of a battle that has been fought and won.

Battles are fought every day of our lives. Some are won and some are lost. Let’s face it, we do not always feel like a Conqueror, do we? That is just the unfortunate reality of living in a fallen world

From a spiritual perspective, things can appear to be not much different in that we are in a constant state of battle, winning some and coming up short in others.

There is one huge difference however, and that is that when we look at things from an eternal point of view, we win.

Simply stated, we win.

The Apostle Paul knew a few things about conquering. In his amazing letter to the Christians at Rome, Paul talks about things that were a very real threat to those believers.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?   Romans 8:35

Those early Christians suffered horribly under Roman authority, especially Nero. Persecution, death, starvation, and torture were things every Christian back then had to come to grips with. On the surface, from a fleshly point of view, one might expect that any of these things could, if possible, separate the believer from his Lord.

Paul, however, answered his own question by declaring that he knew of nothing that could separate a child of God from their Heavenly Father. Nothing!

Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.   Romans 8:37-39

This matters to us today because the intensity of the battle is increasing at a rapid pace. Christians are facing severe trials of their faith today, many of whom are being put to death daily. Consider that every month, on average:

  • 345 Christians are killed for faith-related reasons
  • 105 Churches and Christian buildings are burned or attacked
  • 219 Christians are detained without trial, arrested, sentenced and imprisoned

Here in the U.S. Christians are facing a different kind of orchestrated attack. Instead of blatant persecution and killings, we Christians in America are being worn down gradually. Our resistance to sin is being eroded, gradually worn down by the forces of evil and spiritual wickedness that sit in high places. (Ephesians 6:12)

Make no mistake beloved, the enemy is very, very real. His methods in America, while vastly different (up till now), are no less effective in their efforts to quench the Spirit of God, and to destroy the testimony of Jesus in this nation.

Our hope lies in the truth of God’s word that declares that we are more than conquerors, and that there is NOTHING that can separate us from the love of God. It is imperative that we grasp this and burn it into our hearts.

May I remind you that this world is not our home. This is merely a dress rehearsal for the life which is to come. As hard as it is not to become attached to our favorite things or causes, simply stated we are just passing through. There’s something far more grand than this earth that will be our eternal home one day.

Much like the Patriarch Abraham who looked for a city whose builder and maker was God(Hebrews 11:10), we have a promise of a home far beyond anything our eyes can imagine. A city reserved for those who are ‘More than Conquerors’.

I don’t know exactly what’s coming next. I cannot state for certain what Christians in America will be called upon to endure for His glory. Paul mentioned “things present or things to come”, so we know that something is coming, yet whatever it is, it cannot pull you from the arms of Jesus.

What I can state with 100% certainty is that God will give us the grace to conquer it all through Him.

That you would take comfort in these words is my prayer,

Ron

Real heroes of the faith are still among us: part 1

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The New Testament book of Hebrews contains a record of what many call “heroes of the faith”. In fact, chapter 11 of Hebrews is commonly referred to as the faith chapter because it lists what some call the “faith hall of fame”.

As you read through this chapter, one is struck by the presence of some very familiar names. Abraham, Moses, David, Samson, and Gideon to name just a few. Readers who are familiar with the Old Testament can no doubt recall some of the events associated with these well known men of God.

Yet there are references to other,unnamed heroes of the faith that are recorded here as well. While the writer of Hebrews doesn’t mention them by name, he does list some of their “qualifications” for enshrinement into the “faith hall of fame”.

Women received their dead raised to life again. Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented— of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth.  Hebrews 11:35-38

Though lesser known than the Old Testament patriarchs or kings, these “others” were nonetheless uniquely qualified to take their place alongside their more famous predecessors.

These were men and women who refused to bow the knee, but instead held fast to their faith in God and believed that a better day was coming. Put to the severest of tests, these faithful soldiers endured unimaginable persecution because they counted their lives as nothing that they might win the ultimate prize.

Our minds today simply won’t permit us to comprehend the untold sufferings described in the verses noted above. Being stoned to death is itself a terrifying method of execution, but can you imagine what it was like for someone to be sawn in two?

Church history reveals that tens of thousands of Christians were persecuted by some of the most vile,heinous, and satanically inspired means imaginable in an effort to eradicate the true Church. Yet somehow, the sustaining grace of God kept alive a remnant, for which you and I owe an enormous debt of gratitude.

In our present culture however, I am often surprised at the apparent unwillingness of many in the church to “earnestly contend for the faith that was once delivered to the saints” (Jude v3). Indeed, there seems to be an attitude of spiritual entitlement among us that would be totally unrecognizable to the early church.

No doubt this is due in part to the prevalence of the gospel of “easy believism” and “health and wealth” that is pandered about today. It should be noted as well that neither of these false gospels would have ever been taught in the early church.

In fact, I’ll go on record and say that such teachings are part of what Paul described as “another gospel”, one that he said anyone preaching it is accursed (Galatians 1:8). That is for another day however.

 

In part 2 of this series, I will introduce you to some modern day heroes of the faith. Their identities may not be well known among believers today, yet their stories are no less inspiring than those found in the book of Hebrews.

Until then!

Ron

If this world is not our home…

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Then why on earth are we Christians so consumed with creating our own version of heaven on earth?

I mean where do we draw the line between being salt and light to this world, and wanting to supposedly claim dominion over the earth in Jesus name?

I don’t want to take control of this earth, neither is it a mandate from Jesus that we do so. There are many false teachings floating about today, particularly those coming from the NAR (New Apostolic Reformation) camp that say Christians are to rule the earth NOW.

I won’t bore you with the gory details, but a quick search over at 828 ministries will provide ample evidence of their four primary mandates,with Dominionism being the primary one. This false belief states that Christians must conquer the world in order to facilitate the second coming of Jesus Christ.

Nothing could be further from the truth! Time after time the scripture makes it crystal clear that we just passing through here. This world is not our home. Even the great patriarch Abraham was told by God to look for a city whose builder and maker was God. In addition, Jesus tells us we are not to lay up treasures on this earth.

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.   Matt.6:19-21

Scripture is clear, John the Revelator saw a new heaven and a new earth coming down from God out of heaven, for the former earth was passed away. Does that sound like we should be wasting our time trying to gain control of an earth that is one day going to be destroyed?

I believe in living life to the fullest. Enjoy all that God has given us while we are here. Live the abundant life Jesus talked about in John chapter 10. Go for it in Jesus name! Yet never forget that we are but strangers and Pilgrims here on this earth.

These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.   Hebrews 11:13

One day, one glorious day, we will inherit a new earth. One that will never be corrupted by sin. A place where we will live without sickness, without ever experiencing lack or want of any thing. Jesus is even now preparing such a place for you and I!

In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.   John 14:2

Rest in the promise that God has a better place for us, a place where we will live with Christ for all eternity. No matter your plight here on earth, when we step into that new home that has been prepared for us all will be forgotten here below.

Thank God, this world is not my home. This is but a place of preparation, a dress rehearsal for that which is to come!

Be blessed, in Jesus name

Ron

 

 

 

 

The Great Adventure

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I’m looking for adventure.

I’m not looking to book passage on a cruise ship or a train. I’m not dreaming of going on safari. Mount Kilimanjaro isn’t calling me. And I’m sure not interested in a trek to the South Pole!

No, I’m looking for an adventure of the God kind.

Adventure 1

wordsoverpixels.com

You know the kind of adventure I’m talking about, don’t you? The kind where you know that God is calling you out and away from the stale,ordinary day to day existence we all succumb to. Real adventure.

The kind of adventure where you have no idea what the end goal is, and even less insight on how to get there. You just “know that you know”that God is calling you to MORE.

Like He did with Abraham, telling him to leave all he knew to start on a journey to who knows where(Genesis 12).

The kind of adventure guided only by the Word and the Presence of God.

Scared yet?

Or an adventure like Noah. Build an ark? Sure thing Lord. But what’s an ark, and what is this “rain” you speak of? Noah’s adventure was one of a kind, in fact we’re still talking about it today!

I’m looking for a faith adventure. One that requires me to walk by faith, and not by sight. An adventure over uncharted waters, across hills and valleys, my compass fixed on God.

walk by faith

Davidcrank.com

I’m looking for an adventure that goes far beyond Church, one that is immersed in a living relationship with the living God.

I’m looking for that Abundant Life kind of adventure.

The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly“.   NKJV   emphasis mine

I don’t know when, how, or any other of the countless details that make up this great adventure. What I do know is I’m putting myself out there and saying to the Lord that I’m all in.

Lead me Lord,and I’ll follow.

Who else is up for a great adventure of the God kind?

Be blessed,

Ron

 

 

 

The fear of the unknown vs. your familiar past

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I’ve been thinking about an event recorded early on in the book of Genesis, one that took place thousands of years ago, yet still has implications for us today.

The story of Sodom and Gomorrah is one that most people are familiar with, or have at least heard something about. It’s a story of both destruction and deliverance, one where the central theme is God’s willingness to forgo righteous judgment if only a few God fearing people can be found.

As the story goes, the search for righteous citizens is futile, thus God orders the complete destruction of the cities by raining down fire and brimstone. Not a pretty thought, to be sure. The only escapees are Abraham and his wife, his nephew Lot and his wife, and their two daughters.

As they are running for their lives, the angels who delivered them warned them not to look back. Unfortunately for Lot’s wife, she could not resist the temptation to do just that. Here is the high price she paid for her disobedience:

“But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.”   Genesis 19:26

This story is now thousands of years old, yet the central truths of it still ring true today. God is still a righteous, loving, and forgiving God. And man is still prone to looking in the rear view mirror instead of looking ahead.

Lot’s wife looked back because she wanted to see what was happening to her former home. She felt an emotional attachment to the city, so much so that she disregarded the clear warning of the angels who had been sent to rescue her.

Aren’t all of us guilty to some degree of doing the same thing? Instead of forgetting those things which are behind and pressing toward the mark (Philippians 3:14)….we are drawn back to familiar territory. We gravitate toward the known and comfortable, and resist the unknown in front of us.

The familiar is a powerful force in our lives, and I dare say all of us enjoy the comfort we receive from being surrounded by the familiar things we have accumulated.

The flip side of this however is that the familiar can also become a huge burden that wears us down as we endeavor to journey onward with Christ.

This burden is always present to remind us that we don’t really need to press on into uncharted territory, not when we can stay here in the relative calm waters of familiarity. Besides, there is a certain element of fear when dealing with the unknown, and we all know how we feel about that!

In spit of these things, there is a very real danger in allowing the familiar to rock us to sleep. If we choose to permit this, we risk missing the greatest adventure we could ever partake of!

This Great Adventure is going to be the primary emphasis of “A Front Row View of the Church” in 2018. I will be sharing from the word of God how that the words of Jesus in John 10:10 “…... I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly, are the key to unlocking this Great Adventure.

I am excited about what God has in store, and trust you will be encouraged to put yourself out there, where The Great Adventure beckons!

Ron

 

 

 

A Measure of Faith

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By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.

By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise;

10 for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.   Heb 11:8-10

Abraham was a doer of the Word,not just a hearer of the Word. He set out on a journey not knowing where or how it would end,but secure in the knowledge that Jehovah would guide his every footstep.

Abraham fully embraced his calling and acted upon it as though nothing else mattered.A man like that has sold out to a higher purpose,his new mission that of a divine mandate far beyond the scope of this present world.

While Abraham sojourned in a strange land he never took his eyes off the prize. Surrounded by strange people,customs,and religions as he walked this new land of promise,he was not to be deterred in finding that city whose builder and maker is God.

Abraham’s heart had been set ablaze with an all consuming passion to obey a calling not of this world.Funny thing about a man’s calling;it will engulf him to the end of his days should he choose to accept it and follow it.Little else will matter to him except for the assignment he has been given.He will sacrifice his health,his wealth,opportunities,and to an extent even his loved ones,all is secondary to the call. In short,he is consumed by it.

It will also consume him to the end of his days should he decide to reject it, or even worse, only partially embrace it.This calling is always at the forefront of his mind.It permeates his being in a way not easily understood by those around him.His thoughts are never completely on his work,his social status,even his family.Every thing he does or doesn’t do is weighed against the calling he has received.

In short,unless he fully embraces his calling he is like a double minded man, tossed to and fro on the waves of the tempest that ever churns within him.Doubt clouds his vision. Compromise is the norm.His life one of restless hesitation.Perpetually weighed on the scales of indecision.

Lord,grant unto me a sliver of the measure of faith that Abraham displayed.

 

 

Tell Me The Truth

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I cannot tolerate anyone lying to me.

People who lie simply cannot be trusted because they are practicing deception at my expense.If you tell me something I am going to take you at your word and if I find that you have lied to me,well,good luck in earning back my trust in you.

Lots of people lie,and they tell all kinds of lies:

  • Big lies.truth
  • Little lies.
  • White lies.
  • Any kind of lie.

To some people lying is so natural that it seems they don’t even realizing they are lying.The truth escapes them and is foreign to them.They are in bondage to the enemy for indeed they are his children.Perhaps you know people like this?

As for me, I want to know truth.

I want to know God’s truth.I want to know God’s truth because it is powerful and above reproach.Even as men twist the scriptures for their own selfish,personal gain God’s truth remains.It cannot be changed.

It is because that God’s word is unchangeable and true that it has stood the test of time.While for thousands of years false prophets have tried to usurp His truth and change it into whatever convenient lie is required to dupe yet another generation,God’s truth is still setting free those held captive by Satan.

Jesus said that it was truth that would set us free.

John 8:32;  And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

That my friends,is a very powerful statement.Lets look at the context of the scripture where Jesus said that.

31 Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

33 They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can You say, ‘You will be made free’?”

34 Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. 35 And a slave does not abide in the house forever,but a son abides forever. 36 Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.    John 8:31-36   NKJV

If Jesus said that the truth would make us free then what will we be free from?

The trappings of Tradition…Religion…Guilt…Sin?

The Jews to whom Jesus was speaking were obviously very religious,maintaining they were Abraham’s descendants.Because of their position they were blind to the real bondage they were in.It cannot be argued that they were free except in their own minds, and that because of the lineage to Abraham that they held so closely to.

Funny what we will say and do when our religious traditions are threatened,isn’t it?

The world is full of different religions,and all of them claim heritage to someone or something that they believe makes them better than,or holier then,all others.Not a day goes by that we aren’t bombarded with news accounts of one atrocity after another done in the name of religion.Or how often do we hear of another type of religious atrocity when we read accounts of wolves in sheep’s clothing, fleecing the flock to fill their pockets while their “sheep”wander about without a true shepherd.

Yet the fact is that unless they know the truth that Jesus spoke of,they remain in bondage to Satan to this day.This is the lie of the ages that has been sown in the hearts of men for thousands of years.The lie that says it doesn’t matter which god you serve,they’re all the same.After all,there is “good” in every religion(or church if you will).

No,Jesus made it as clear as he could.If we are to be freed from our sins,freed from our past mistakes,freed from bondage of religion and tradition…only the Son can make us that kind of free.

And that my friends, is the TRUTH.

 

What’s Important,or Not?

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What’s important to you? I mean, what’s really important to you?

  • Family?
  • Job?
  • House?
  • Car?

Sometimes it seems as though what’s important to us doesn’t turn out to be so important after all.Think about it:have you ever worked and saved,sacrificed and gave,until you felt there just wasn’t much left to give as you were climbing the ladder to the next position?

Only to finally get there and after just a little while wonder what the attraction was?

I know people like that. People who could see the “prize” from a distance and set their heart to attain it no matter the cost,only to realize once they had it that it wasn’t what they thought it would be after all.

I’m a good example of this.I love acoustic guitars. Especially Martin guitars. I’ve had an affection for them for going on 40 years. A few years ago I finally acquired the guitar of my dreams-only to trade it away for the next greatest thing-that soon got traded for another-and still another.

It’s kind of like no matter what we have we want something else. No matter the job we have we are not satisfied and long to do something different.Same with cars,boats,houses,whatever.

Sometimes we forget the admonition of scripture that teaches us to be content in whatever state we find ourselves in.Our human nature does that to us at times,doesn’t it?

In the Genesis account of Abram and Lot,there came a day when the land could no longer support both of their families and all the livestock that went with them. They came to a place where a decision had to be made regarding their futures.

Read along with me and lets see what happened in Genesis 13:5-13

5 Lot also, who went with Abram, had flocks and herds and tents.

6 Now the land was not able to support them, that they might dwell together, for their possessions were so great that they could not dwell together.

7 And there was strife between the herdsmen of Abram’s livestock and the herdsmen of Lot’s livestock. The Canaanites and the Perizzites then dwelt in the land.

8 So Abram said to Lot, “Please let there be no strife between you and me, and between my herdsmen and your herdsmen; for we are brethren.

Is not the whole land before you? Please separate from me. If you take the left, then I will go to the right; or, if you go to the right, then I will go to the left.”

10 And Lot lifted his eyes and saw all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere (before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah) like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt as you go toward Zoar.

11 Then Lot chose for himself all the plain of Jordan, and Lot journeyed east. And they separated from each other.

12 Abram dwelt in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelt in the cities of the plain and pitched his tent even as far as Sodom.

13 But the men of Sodom were exceedingly wicked and sinful against the Lord.

Lot did exactly what most of us would have done when he looked and saw the green grass and water in abundance:he took what looked to be the best selection.Don’t we do that sometimes?After all,the grass is always greener,right?

If you will take the time to continue reading this and into the next chapter you will see that the land where Lot settled was not at all what it first appeared to be.

Looks can be deceiving,can’t they?

Contrast that with Abram who took the “leftovers” and instead settled in the land of Canaan.Because he was following the Lord and not his own desires,he received an incredible blessing from the Lord,whereas Lot inherited more trouble than he knew what to do with.

Beloved,we are living in uncertain times,times that can be perilous and frightening.What used to be is often no longer.What once made us comfortable is gone forever and we are left to wonder what happened.

We live in a broken world.A world broken by sin and disobedience.A world seemingly spiraling out of control and headed towards the abyss.

A world in which the only truth that remains is found in God’s word.Only God’s word has stood the test of time.Every prophecy that was supposed to be fulfilled,has been.

Every prophecy yet to be fulfilled will be and we can rest assured that nothing can change the course that God has chartered.

What’s important,what we cannot take our eyes off of is this:Jesus is a sure Foundation.A very present Help in the time of trouble.He is the Rock in a weary land.My Defender.My Shield.

Things are usually never as good as they first appear to be,which is why we are so often disappointed with them once we have them.

Not so with the Lord.He’s as good today as when I first met Him nearly 40 years ago!

Be blessed,

Ron

When God Has Another Plan

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I’ve spent my entire adult life either making new plans or working to bring existing plans to fruition. Everything from creating business plans at work to helping my wife plan our annual family vacation,planning is something I’ve always been involved in.Depending on who you ask,I’ve been more successful in some areas than others and I’m sure you can all relate to that.

Yet when it comes to serving God,our best laid plans are often reduced to shreds.All of our planning,strategies,and hard work can be brought to naught when we feel the Lord leading us in a new direction.If you’ve ever been in this place then you know that when you feel the Holy Spirit begin to tug at you to go a different direction, it can be a very hard thing to do.After all, whoever said that obedience is easy?

Abraham was a man who came to a place where he had to make a decision about which way to go with his life. Read with me the Genesis account of this story(emphasis mine).

Genesis 13:1-18 (NKJV)
1 Then Abram went up from Egypt, he and his wife and all that he had, and Lot with him, to the South.
2 Abram was very rich in livestock, in silver, and in gold.
3 And he went on his journey from the South as far as Bethel, to the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Ai,
4 to the place of the altar which he had made there at first. And there Abram called on the name of the Lord.
5 Lot also, who went with Abram, had flocks and herds and tents.
6 Now the land was not able to support them, that they might dwell together, for their possessions were so great that they could not dwell together.
7 And there was strife between the herdsmen of Abram’s livestock and the herdsmen of Lot’s livestock. The Canaanites and the Perizzites then dwelt in the land.
8 So Abram said to Lot, “Please let there be no strife between you and me, and between my herdsmen and your herdsmen; for we are brethren.
9 Is not the whole land before you? Please separate from me. If you take the left, then I will go to the right; or, if you go to the right, then I will go to the left.”
10 And Lot lifted his eyes and saw all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere (before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah) like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt as you go toward Zoar.
11 Then Lot chose for himself all the plain of Jordan, and Lot journeyed east. And they separated from each other.
12 Abram dwelt in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelt in the cities of the plain and pitched his tent even as far as Sodom.
13 But the men of Sodom were exceedingly wicked and sinful against the Lord.
14 And the Lord said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him: “Lift your eyes now and look from the place where you are— northward, southward, eastward, and westward;
15 for all the land which you see I give to you and your descendants forever.
16 And I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth; so that if a man could number the dust of the earth, then your descendants also could be numbered.
17 Arise, walk in the land through its length and its width, for I give it to you.”
18 Then Abram moved his tent, and went and dwelt by the terebinth trees of Mamre, which are in Hebron, and built an altar there to the Lord.

Abraham gave Lot the 1st choice of the land before them, and like most of us Lot chose the best of the best. Who could fault him for that? Again, wouldn’t we do the same?

Yet God had another plan for His servant Abraham.While Lot was busy with moving toward the green grass and wells of water in Jordan,it would be easy to say that Abraham got the short end of the stick. But God had something much better than wells and fields in store for Abraham.Instead of real estate,He gave Abraham a covenant, or a promise.A promise that his seed would be as the dust of the earth for multitude.A promise of blessing.

Sometimes God’s plan calls for there to be a separation,or parting of the ways.We can trust Him to have our bests interests at heart if we will choose to follow His plans and not ours.Leaving our comfort zone is never easy but leave we must if we are to continue to grow in Him.

I find myself in this exact same position at this time in my life.The Lord has uprooted our family and we have begun a new journey,a journey that we are taking by faith for we do not know what is beyond the next bend in the road.All we know is that we feel His call to step out and obey.A journey that is both frightening and exciting at the same time.I pray that this is not a selfish request, but we desire your prayers.

Be blessed,

Ron