Category Archives: International

Discovering A New Era

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I realized that my life was about to change while sitting on the floor in a room in Sydney Australia. In my hand I held my phone; Which ten seconds earlier was being used to communicate with a pastor on the other side of the world in San Jose California. The conversation? A need for a worship pastor. I told him that my wife and I would pray about moving forward because moving forward basically meant picking up our life in Sydney and relocating to one of the most expensive places in the world when it comes to living, all the while having no means by which to do so… I knew it would HAVE to be a move of God getting us there because we had no plane tickets home. We had no transportation, no immediate plan, and in about thirty seconds, I would have no job. I put the phone down and we prayed a simple prayer that went something like this… “Lord, the last thing we want to do is ask you to, yet again, prove plan for us before we make a move, but on this one… we’re going to need a sign. Please let us know what to do… Amen”. I put the phone down on the bed and ten seconds later, before I could finish my next sentence, it rang. It was my employment agent, “Garrett, they like you at your assignment, they like the work you do; But the fact of the matter is, they just simply don’t have the cash flow to keep you on board, I’m sorry. Thank you for your service but at this time you wont be able to continue.” I said “thank you” and hung up the phone. I’d like to tell you readers that I was calm and collected, and that I recognized this incident for what it was… but I wasn’t, and I didn’t. Thoughts began to rush through my head. “I sacrificed so much for those guys! I woke up at 4 am everyday, and took the bus to get down there for months! I killed myself there everyday and they re-pay me by dumping me out on the street?! Did God really bring us all the way down here to abandon us like this?!”

Sound familiar? Perhaps from a particular part of Exodus?

Some times we miss God’s still-small voice, and some times we miss God’s loud and obvious voice. For me, this one was the later. As my wife reminded me that this is EXACTLY what we had just asked for about 2 minutes earlier, my blood ran cold. I looked down at the floor, and I felt a peace come over me. I began to realize that this was no accident. This was the living God, the creator of our universe reaching down to us in all his splendor and majesty, for just a moment … providing us with a map in which to lead us though the desert. The rest of the story is simple. God provided. He brought us into a season of promise. Specifics aside, Through giving us some extra work, He provided the money for plane tickets home, he gave us a timely exit out of Australia, and even allowed us the chance to take a trip to Texas to see my family and pick up the rest of our things that we left there before our trip around the world. We now are privileged to be a part of a church here in California, called “The Journey” (The perfect church for us by the way! That fact in itself is reason to be ecstatic!) We are officially back in our home state, just as God promised we would be all those years ago when we left. What began as an impossible situation, culminated in a return to my original home, The Silicon Valley, which, for us, completed one circumnavigation of the entire globe (from California to California; a dream we also had hoped to accomplish.

How many of these moments have we missed I wonder? How many times have we allowed our freak-outs to blind us to the hand of God working in our daily lives? I learned something really important that day in Sydney. I learned first-hand that sometimes God closes each and every door to get the attention of his self-centered people. God knows the desires of your heart. He knows what our true passions are. I think sometimes we are too excited about the things we THINK we want, and not enough about the things HE wants for us. Today you may find yourself in a situation that seems hopeless. You may be reading this, expecting me to write some truth that will encourage you. But the REAL truth is that nothing I can say will satisfy your desire for peace. Only God, in His time, can do that. What I DO know is that In the meantime, He’s asking you to trust Him. He asks us to be faithful with what we have, and to be obedient to the calling in which He’s arranged for us. Stay the course. Be courageous enough to trust Him, and I promise you that in time, He’ll show you His plan.

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Growth Spurts

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Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17

Our time in Sydney reminds me of this verse as it’s sadly now coming to a close. Despite our viewing this time as a perfect gift, let me assure you, it has not felt perfect. But I can say, looking back at it now, that God has made all things work together for good. We had been here for about 2 seconds when we realized how difficult this part of our journey would be. Many times we were at a loss for what to do getting into less than comfortable situations. Many times we felt the absence of Gods voice. But for every one of those times we felt lost and alone, there was one more situation in which He came through for us. We can testify that His promises are true even when his voice is quiet. His power is perfect even when our weakness takes hold of us. And even though we fail consistently, His love for us never has.

Our time here was an emotional and spiritual roller coaster that never seemed to end. Beginning with the initial persuasion of finding out that I would be executing a plan that was vastly different from the one I had intended, and ending with beginning our search for a ministry to become a part of back home. I originally had come to understand that God called us here to ready us for our coming time in ministry, and that ended up being true. But the way he did it was a huge surprise. I began to ask Him, “God, what do you want for me? Show me what you want me to do, show me what I should do, and I’ll do it”. Slowly I began to hear from Him. On one particular occasion I felt Him draw me to the thought that I had spent lots of time working on becoming a better Worship Pastor. I then heard his still small voice say that I had been focusing on the “worship” part, and had often missed, the “pastor” part. It became clear that He had brought me and my wife half way around the world to Sydney Australia, taken us away from familiar ministry, from family, and from the comfort of familiar culture to prepare our hearts for the “Pastors” part of “worship pastors”. If you knew the name of the particular church we serve with, you would assume as I did that during our time here our hearts focus would be on the “worship” part, and that God would be preparing us to lead a team musically and spiritually. Upon my first opportunity to serve, I realized quite the contrary. I was put on the New Christians / New People team. Something I realized that I had never actually officially focused on before. It occurred to me that although this is an area I felt comfortable in, it’s was also an area in which I needed growth, and by God’s grace, I can say that I have grown immensely. As a result of taking those first steps with a grateful heart, I’ve been given a spirit of boldness, the likes of which I’ve never known.

2 Timothy 1:7 says: “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” This is NOT just a pastoral idea, this is a CHRISTIAN idea. God’s desire for us when we do whatever we do, is to be empowered by the Holy Spirit in a way that personifies His strength, not ours. Pressing into this thought I began to discover that being bold is partly about having courage, and partly about taking the first step, but ultimately it’s about fully trusting that it’s by His power that all things are made possible. I served in a number of different areas during the weekends and studied the word and read books profusely during the week, something I’ve wanted to do for ages but never had time for. In the time we were here, I’ve been able to read 35 books, which has deeply expanded my basic understanding of God’s nature and what our role on earth is meant to be as disciples of Christ.

I’ve learned a lot about people, and what it means to care for them during this time. One of the things I’ve heard said a number of times but never really fully grasped was the importance of just listening. One pastor put it this way, “There are three rules to remember when building relationships, 1. Listen 2. Listen and 3. Listen”. It amazes me how different a conversations can be when you choose to focus on just listening. It would surprise you to know how many people who come to you with an issue, are only looking to be listened to. Think about it. One of our human characteristics is the desire to be noticed, to be wanted, to be held as great in the eye of the public or adoring fans. Why do you think it is that so many people have an internal desire to be celebrities? It’s because at the core of who we are, is a desire to be significant to someone, to be recognized, and to generally be important. As most of God’s human ideas placed in us can become distorted, his design is often used incorrectly here. God put this desire in us to aid us in caring for each other. When you sit down with a friend, or and person in need, it’s ok to make it all about them, it’s ok to give them your full attention, in fact, it’s that very desire to be special that helps us open up to people who can help us, if only for a brief moment. This desire is brought full circle when we understand that our significance is ultimately in him. When the world says “You don’t matter”, He says “you are His children”. (Galatians 3:26) When the world says “There’s nothing special about you”, He says, “You are my workmanship”. (Ephesians 2:10) When the world says “You failed” He says You are MORE than a conqueror” (Romans 8:37) And when the world says “No one loves you” He says “Nothing can separate you from my love” (Romans 8:38-39).

Gods design in our longing for significance is being used in a way that glorify’s Him when we cherish our time with others, and that’s the name of the game. Granted there will always be people who genuinely need advice, and to them it should always be given with a biblical perspective, but there are many cases when a person just needs to be heard, to be listened to, to be cared for. They may need it for a number of reasons but in the end, if you attempt to fix a problem that does not need to be fixed, you could end up just causing more damage. Just dwelling with a person in the right circumstance in the presence of God can bring significant healing. In the end its God who heals not us, but we are meant to be used to administer His healing touch here on earth in this way, and a listening ear can be a much greater help than our opinion could ever be.

Listening to an angry person won’t always cool them down but there is something to be said about what happens to a persons anger when they discover that you are really attempting to understand them. I’ve found that by confronting anger with an open ear rather than a quick defense, has an extremely profound effect on them. They can see that you are open. They can tell that you care about their issue and more importantly that you care about THEM. “Harsh words stir up anger, but a gentle answer turns away wrath”. (Proverbs 15:1) How many arguments have been fought needlessly simply because neither of the individuals were able to remain calm? Isn’t this what we as Christians have been called to? Isn’t this what Jesus did when his accusers put him on trial? I’m not talking about being passive, I mean we need to say what NEEDS to be said; I’m talking about making a REAL effort to show someone you care by just being there. There’s a difference between listening for the sake of hearing, and listening for the sake of understanding. It’s possible to hear someone, without actually truly hearing their heart.

Waiting for the Holy Spirits guidance requires silence sometimes. At the end of listening there will most likely be an opening to speak the word of God into someone’s life and this requires being connected to the source of all wisdom. It will require diligent prayer, and soft hearted sensitivity to speak Gods heart into a persons life correctly but It’s helpful for everyone, and it glorifies God.

Our time here has taught me many other things but this was a big one. I won’t bore you with every detail but the bottom line is that God did work on my heart. This time has given me a chance to invest in myself, and prepare for a time of fully allowing myself to invest in others. The Bible says, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.” I think this captures what God was saying to me during this season of inward change. It captures the idea that if your heart is to be a pastor you must first be a servant, and takes it a step further by saying that servant-hood honors God in a way that’s pleasing to him, making it worship. Yes worship is a lifestyle but it’s also personified in our actions. Worship leaders, what do you do with your time? Are you investing in the lives of the people around you or are you just leading songs? Our calling is to serve. So serve well, not only by doing what you do with excellence, but serve well by LOVING the people you come in contact with every day. That’s what real ministry is meant to be about.

Australia has been extremely good to us. We saw God move in powerful ways though us and in the lives of our friends and family. He made a way, when it seemed as if there was no way. As our roller coaster life here is beginning to level out a bit and as our season comes to a close I’ll be describing our journey in more detail. We are beginning to seek out the right ministry for us to become a part of in the States. I can say that we are beginning to feel a change in the air which is exciting to say the least. We’ll be wrapping things up here and taking another step of faith in the weeks to come. God has been arranging some amazing things already and I can honestly say that we are excited beyond belief about the months ahead of us. That’s all for now, but If you are interested in following our journey please check back soon and join us as we discover ministry together. Be Blessed!    

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Re-Orientation + (Italy, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, and England)

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Good morning everyone! Hope your day, or night (depending on which part of the world you live in) is going well. I decided that it was about time for an update, now that life has finally begun to calm down slightly. I know that I’ve been absent for quite some time due to the fact that I’ve been in transportation mode for almost 3 months but for those of you who are willing to accept excuses, writing was much more difficult than I expected. But now I plan to be back with more content more frequently while I attempt to make up for lost time. I was going to expand a little bit on the Europe tour with a few more posts but I have decided against it. I realized that I was kind of falling away from the real purpose of this blog which was to describe my transition from the secular work world, into life in full time ministry. Things that don’t match up with that idea can prove entertaining sometimes, but I really can’t say I’m doing what I set out to do if miss the point all together. So, I’m getting back on track starting now. However, this particular blog entry will finish off what I’ve started in the area of travel but will also re-orient readers once again with the topic in which I am meant to be writing on. I’ll touch on the end of the tour, to close this chapter before moving on.

If I’m not mistaken, I last left off on the coast of Italy, just about a third of the way into our trip. We hit Rome and the Vatican City and spent three days strolling the cobblestones of an ancient civilization. We endeavored to see the entire city. We gazed up at the masterpiece of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling and contemplated if there was anything more brilliant in existence made by man. The guy spent four years with a crooked neck, paint dripping on his face, day in and day out, refusing to look at the figures from the floor until the work was finished. You can literally see the brilliance unfold from one end to end to the other as he continuously attempted to out-do himself from painting to painting. With one side dull-colored and simplistic in nature, and the other vibrant, rich, deep, indefinite, and masterfully crafted in every way.  It’s clear that this was a journey far more epic than could ever be understood by anyone other than the master painter himself. We will never know the extent of the true drudgery when it comes to this labor of love but we can at least catch a glimpse by looking up at it. God’s gift of life, story of human kind, sacrifice of his only son, and His plan for the end displayed in this stroke of genius is brilliant enough to bring its viewers to tears. You aren’t allowed to take pictures but Ill never forget the experience as long as I live. The Highlight of Vatican city was of course the chapel but I must note that seeing the pope speak was a trip of its own. We moved on to Rome itself. It was busy, beautiful and altogether fascinating.

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After tossing our coins into the Trevi Fountain, ensuring our return, we took the train to Pisa to see the leaning tower, then to Florence to experience the magic, and then to Venice to hit up some old fashion adventure. We found all of those things and so much more I’m happy to say. Pisa is a small town in an old world. Florence is much more romantic than Paris and doesn’t get nearly enough credit. Venice has narrow, comfortably busy, Purely Italian streets with ten million ally-ways, water ways, and bridges, all of which seem to lead nowhere.

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If you would like to find out more about these places my advice is to save up money and go there. It’s the only way to really experience them. No account of mine or anyone else’s for that matter could really do this these places any justice. Tuscany was just as beautiful as anyone has ever described. We took the train through most of this stunning countryside but managed to stop and smell the proverbial pasta along the way. We spent Pre-Christmas traveling through Austria, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and took a ferry from Stockholm Finland. We saw my pal Niko (in Turku) who has been my good friend and mentor since 2007, which was amazing as always and very much needed.

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Scandinavia is a wonderful place with Long hot summer days and Short dark winter days, where everyone has a sauna in their bathroom. The people of Scandinavia are perfectly pleasant, love coffee and good beer in equal measure, and often smile everywhere they go. They aren’t all happy but for the most part, they welcomed us with all the warmth, kindness and generosity of a pleasant summer day. With consideration that this is the middle of winter it was rather nice to be in such good company if I do say so myself. Adrie received flowers from a random man simply for being beautiful. 

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When it was time, we made our way back to Austria. We got back on the boats and trains and made it back just in time for Christmas Eve with the family. We went to the local Christmas Eve service and sang “Stille Nacht” (Silent night in its original language, German) just miles away from where it was written and performed for the first time on Christmas eve in 1818.

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Christmas in Austria was absolutely incredible. Uncle Heinz chopped down a tree that he grew himself and decorated it with candles, sparklers and all the traditional trinkets. We spent a few days drinking coffee, eating homemade cookies, and hanging out with each other till the wee hours. We went on a cross country skiing expedition which proved much more difficult than I expected but was non-the-less absolutely wonderful. The white sky lit our way along the path through the open white fields and sparkle dusted pines of the Austrian country side. The cold air filled our lungs and carried us across the big spaces, and through the frosty woods.

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As we turned the page in this chapter we took the last train on our tickets to Vienna to catch the plane to London. We couldn’t help but feel a change in the air. We had finished our tour and were on the verge of another epic adventure. We were about to join up with Pastor Dave Reidy to help out on the Vertical Love 2014 Tour. The goal was to take an expression of worship to the nations, to minister individuals who have a hunger for becoming better leaders through worship and teaching, and to point the way to the cross. We spent three weeks traveling through England and the Netherlands on the team. God did so many amazing things for so many people on the tour. We met too many incredible people to list, but the friendships we built during this time will undoubtedly last a lifetime.

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The days and nights blended together in utter oblivion, which is to be expected when taking on a challenge of this nature. Looking back it feels more like a month long day in which we sometimes slept. God showed us the vast number of different ways that his people all over the world enter into his presence; One method no more correct than the other, but all different and beautiful in their own way. We observed so many different cultures and people that we discovered that even with the amount of places we’ve seen, we havn’t even begun to scratch the surface of diversity when it comes to this. In fact I’m beginning to think that, it may never be possible to experience every one of them; but, the idea to remember is that God has a plan for each person and created each of us to express our worship in ways that only our own hearts can understand. Its not about what it looks like on the outside, its about what your heart is on the inside. What became of our journey is grateful hearts. Grateful for the experience, grateful for His loving kindness, grateful for the opportunity to gain wisdom and strength, and grateful for the faith to be able to count on His provision. We were reminded that He is, was, and will always be faithful to his children.

After the tour, we began gearing up for the next season in our lives in Sydney Australia, which is why I have re-oriented this blog. In the last few months we sold our car, and most of what we own, and have endeavored to begin a new life in Australia before returning to the states to continue our ministry. What started as a documentation of my experience as an artist, has become a look into the heart of a desperate soul. Over the course of a year, I have become an entirely new person. Once I stood on the foundation of my own ideals, plans and self-satisfaction. Now I find myself immersed in the vastness of the unknown. Once I had my own plans. Now I lay them all down in order to find God’s plans. Once I felt that I didn’t need faith, because somewhere inside I though that I could ultimately take care of myself. Now faith is the very breath I take from day to day. I realized that as humans we just simply cant be who Jesus call us to be on our own. Its His power that makes it possible. But it doesn’t make it easy. The questions mount and the uncertainties have become clear, but one thing is for sure, my soul is well, knowing that no amount of uncertainty could take me away from his provision. We don’t know what’s about to happen, but what we do know is that He is in control. And that’s enough for me. I hope that you will stay with me though this experience. The Idea is that once we settle down, we will attempt to become a part of ministry life here and give God full control of our hands, sharing our experiences though this blog. What-ever that means we aren’t entirely sure, but we do know that we have the peace that passes all understanding, and that when you give your heart to the potters hand, he will know exactly what to do. I’m looking forward to taking my first steps in this direction and writing down my thoughts so that you can be a part of them. In any situation it’s always nice to be able to share thoughts and experiences with people who care, and I for one am glad that for me, those people are you. Until next time, I hope that you are blessed, and that you find joy in Him wherever you are. That’s all for now! Don’t forget to stop by and read up from time to time as I continue to discover ministry.

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Phases

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Well, I’m excited to say that preparations for the tour and move to Sydney are going very well. The 2014 season has divided itself into 3 phases. The first of which, is The Leading Edge International Tour in Europe we were invited to travel with and serve whithin. This phase, which Adrie has been endearingly been calling our “Amazing Race”, has been forming steadily. The tour dates have changed around some, and still require some work but there are opportunities that appear to be arising with promise, and we are working towards them with expectation for a move of the Spirit. Before the craziness begins we are stoked beyond belief to say that we will be able to spend Christmas in Austria! Sometimes I still can’t believe that this is happening but that’s just the kind of God I serve.

We bought or tickets and paid them off recently which officially secures our time with family in northern part of the country. Before flying to London for the start of the tour, we are arranging to meet up with some old dear friends who live in Basel Switzerland, who graciously are allowing us to stay with them. Aside from being excited out of my skin by getting to see them again, I’m also ecstatic because being in Austria and Switzerland puts us in close proximity to Paris, Venice and Rome. (Holding my breath) With our Eurail tickets we are thinking we might be able to see those amazing cities as well. Some details are yet to be determined but we aren’t worried because once you get into Europe, traveling from country to country is much like traveling from state to state in the U.S. The more prepared you are the further you can go. We fully expect that with a little bit of elbow grease we can make some of our fondest dreams become realized. Adrie and I have been dreaming of seeing these places for many years so the idea of being able to do this now makes our hearts race and palms sweat to say the least. And thinking about where we came from when we first got married makes it that much sweeter. Those of you who know us know that when we started our lives together, all we had was a dream and a prayer. In other words we literally had nothing. Hahah, But looking back, I wouldn’t have it any other way. We REALLY had to trust God. If there’s anyone wondering how we made it, I’ll tell you right now, We trusted God and we tithed. Tithing is the only financial endeavor that has never failed us. God says to test him in tithes and “see that he will not open the floodgates of heaven”. Let me tell you freinds, it works. But that’s the end of that rabbit trail for now, you can discover that truth for yourself if you haven’t already. We kick off tour at Kinsington Temple, one of Europe’s largest churches, yet another testimony that God knows how to hook it up. The tour will last until January 26th which will bring us to Vienna for our flight to Sydney which begins Phase two.

Our tickets are paid off and our Australian visas have been approved. Which means We have clearance to work and live in the land down under. If you haven’t been reading in the past, our reason for moving to Sydney is that I have a chance to help out in some of the most effective ministries in the world today. After a year of prayer and focus, it became clear that now is the time to go. This of course means that we will not only have to move there, but we will have to find a way to sustain ourselves. As usual the Lord has provided. My amazing brother who lives in Sydney, who moved there with me the first time in 2007 and decided to stay, is hooking me up with a job at the restaurant he manages for some part time income so I can focus on ministry and help support our stay. Not exactly what I imagined myself doing at 26 years of age but I’m not above it, and the bottom line is that this is what I am called to do. Furthermore I am extremely grateful. The fact that God allowed me the resources and family to provide me with the prospect of income before even getting into Australia is simply amazing to me. He is so faithful. During this time I’ll have an opportunity to learn from the best of the best in ministry and be able to support us as well over a period of 4-7 months until we come home to the United States. Its funny how God brings to light the things you thought were fully illuminated. The Bible says that He uses to foolish things of this world to confound the wise. (1 Corrinthians 1:27) Now I’m not saying I’m anywhere close to wise, but what I can say is that for as many times as I have thought I had a “plan”, God has made it happen another way just as may times. I’m starting to figure out that is exactly the way he designed it to work.

Phase three is coming home. What happens then? Well, to add to the list of means, by which God’s faithfulness has proven true, I have recently been recommended for licensed ministerial credentials with the Assemblies of God, allowing me to apply to churches looking for a worship pastor. And that’s exactly what I plan to do. I feel the need to stop and mention that for most people, life has its challenges. For me, one of these challenges was getting my credentials. They aren’t needed to be a pastor, but in my line of work they are highly regarded. This is the most confusing part of ministry to me. I realize that the people who are given an opportunity to serve their community and speak into the lives of its people need to be carefully chosen, but I have had an exceptionally difficult time discerning the differences between the business parts of church work, and the parts where God fully takes the reins. Its an extremely fine line. I had to work hard to prove my character which is confusing because in my experience character should prove itself. Unfortunately there are a lot of people who care more about themselves then the people they supposedly pastor, and this is one good way to find them out. So I am fully submitted to the prospect which is why it feels good to say that after 5 years of volunteer ministry and study, I am finally a licensed pastor. It just so happens that I am without a church. Hahaha, but that is in His hands for now. Its here where the fine line in which He takes the reins is found. There is a clear need to find the right church for us in summer 2014, but until then there is some time for preparation and prayer for the season in which I will finally be able to do what I’m called to do full time. And I know that since He is in full control, everything is already taken care of, the battle is already won, and the enemy has already been defeated.

In other news I just sold our car, which is bittersweet to say the least. If you could drive a car overseas this would be the car that I would drive. It’s a wonderful machine and never gave us any trouble. We saw the United States with this car. I drove it to work everyday for 4 years and blasted a painfully high amount of music out of the speakers. It was surprisingly difficult to see it go. The longer I think about it, the deeper I go into an emotional spiral. Maybe it’s because of what this car stood for… Or maybe its because selling something as important as our car makes the trip seem officially real. Knowing there is no turning back. It’s frightening but necessary for a trip like this. Or maybe its because this car and I took care of each other. Or maybe its because I’m just overly sentimental but either way, its been interesting emotionally. At the end of the day its just a “thing”. And all “things” are part of a world that will eventually have no worth, and cannot be taken with you to eternity. For now, its a means by which God has provided for us and it’s becoming increasingly clear to me that his hand is all over this.

In the next few weeks we will be Saying “see you later” to our friends and family in San Antonio, making a pit stop in Carlsbad California to drop off whats left of our earthly belongings and setting out on the adventure of a lifetime. Never in our wildest dreams did we ever think we would be doing something this insane, but here we are, and I’m happy to say that we are thrilled to death about it.

Sorry this post has been mostly informational but I expect as things start getting difficult, and challenges start to arise, there will be more road blocks and difficulties to work through. You can entertain yourself with my anguish then lol. But for now it appears that we are running on all cylinders, and fully in the grace and provision of the one who spoke the stars into existence. Don’t forget that it’s our weakness as humans that makes His power evident, and to remind me of that when I start to whine. Where ever you are right now, whether in the valley or on the mountain top, (I have visited both) His promise to never leave or forsake us is true.

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