Author Archives: Pastor Tommy

About Pastor Tommy

Pastor Tommy is the senior pastor of Cross Community Church (PCA) in Deerfield Beach, FL. Rev. Tommy Boland is his official title. Pastor Tommy often seems too formal. Most everyone calls him "Coach".

When Work Is Worship

God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.” {Genesis 1:28}

If you found out today that a long-lost relative had passed away and left you ten million dollars, would you go to work tomorrow? Most people, including most Christians, would answer that question with an emphatic, “No way!” Why? Because a great many people see work as no more than a means to an end, and that “end” is the end of each week when they can say “Thank God it’s Friday!” As the 1980’s song goes, “Everybody’s working for the weekend” . . . including most Christians.

This was not always the case. The early Christians saw their work as an act of worship to God. No matter what the work was, they knew if they were doing it to the best of their God-given ability for the glory of God and the good of others, their work was worship. They understood that work work was a gift from God to Adam and Eve in the beginning. “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it” (Genesis 2:15) before Adam’s terrible act of treachery in Eden. Work was not a result of man’s fall into sin in the Garden of Eden; work is in no way part of the curse. Work was the primary way that mankind, as image-bearers of God, were to reflect His image in this world.

Nancy Pearcey explained it this way in her book Total Truth:

In Genesis, God gives what we might call the first job description: “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it.” The first phrase, “Be fruitful and multiply” means to develop the social world: build families, churches, schools, cities, governments, laws. The second phrase, “Subdue the earth,” means to harness the natural world: plant crops, build bridges, design computers, compose music. This passage is sometimes called the Cultural Mandate because it tells us that our original purpose was to create cultures, build civilizations – nothing less.

Our God is a working God who created everything and continues His work by sustaining everything (Hebrews 1:3). As His image-bearers, we are called to live out the Cultural Mandate in every possible sphere of life. Every kind of job matters to God when we are doing it to expand the cause of His kingdom. Cleaning a house, cultivating a garden, practicing law, digging a ditch, driving an Uber, building a home, baking bread, waiting on tables, stocking store shelves, and on and on — all work is worship when it is performed for the glory of God.

The problem today is that the church has lost sight of this biblical truth and has instead bought in to the notion of the so-called “sacred/secular split.” Those who labor under this misconception believe that all the jobs I mentioned in the previous paragraph belong in the category of “secular,” while only those jobs inside the church or parachurch organizations are “sacred” and truly doing the work of God. This is simply not true!

Your work matters to God — no matter what that work is — when you perform it to the best of your ability for His glory. If we understand the Cultural Mandate rightly, we will see that the fundamental hallmark of authentic Christianity is to perform any and every job for the glory of God and the expansion of His kingdom. That is when our work is worship.

Jesus came into this world and spent much of His life as a carpenter; Paul was a tentmaker. Only when we understand our work — all work — as worship will we begin to influence and impact our culture for the glory of God and the expansion of His Kingdom as we bear His image to everyone who sees our witness in our work.

So let me ask you . . . How do you see your work? Work is a wonderful way to worship!

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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Pledging Allegiance

This Sunday is the Fourth of July, a time for food, fellowship, and fireworks. But it is a time for so much more for the Christian. July Fourth is a day for us to reflect on and remember that the United States is a nation that was founded, rooted, and established on Christian principles. Regardless of what you hear politicians, the liberal media, or history revisionists saying today, our great nation was founded on Christian principles and the freedom to worship the God who is: the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Don’t take my word for it; read the words of our founding fathers. 

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. The Declaration of Independence.

Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. George Washington

It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded not by religionists but by Christians, not on religion but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Patrick Henry

To the kindly influence of Christianity we owe that degree of civil freedom, and political and social happiness which mankind now enjoys. In proportion as the genuine effects of Christianity are diminished in any nation, . . . in the same proportion will the people of that nation recede from the blessings of genuine freedom, and approximate the miseries of complete despotism. Jedidiah Morse

Our founding fathers not only pledged allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, they pledged allegiance to their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. In this they echoed the inspired and infallible words of the apostle Paul:

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God who loves me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)

The founders’ ultimate allegiance was to the Almighty. They were devoted to Him. They were dedicated to Him.  They were committed to Him. Their entire existence was rooted in their right relationship with their Redeemer. And that, beloved, is to be the confession of the lives of all those Christians who pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and every other Christian around the world, regardless of what nation they pledge allegiance to. 

On the day that we in the United States of America commemorate the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, which proclaimed our independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain on July 4, 1776, let us reaffirm our own declaration of dependence upon our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and His sovereign rule in our lives. Jesus is to be our first priority in both life and death.  He is to be our safety in the storm. He is to be our peace in times of trouble. He is to be our portion in times of need. He is to be our All in all.     

There is no greater declaration for the Christian to make and honor than the one made to the King of kings and the Lord of lords. When we declare ourselves to be His, we acknowledge that we are no longer our own. We have been bought at a price no man can measure. The very Son of God was nailed to a dirty tree, crucified between two criminals, and took on the wrath and judgment of God the Father to pay the penalty for every one of our sins — past, present, and still to come. We are His and no other’s, and He will tolerate no rival for our affections. 

So as you enjoy your Fourth of July celebration with family and friends on Sunday, I hope you’ll take time out to give thanks to the One who purchased your independence from sin, Satan, and death. Jesus Christ has brought you out of darkness into His marvelous light to remain with Him forever and ever, world without end.     

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race.  NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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Casting Christians

Cast all your cares on him because he cares for you.  (1 Peter 5:7)

You might read today’s verse and think, “That’s a whole lot easier said than done!” I couldn’t agree with you more; I have a tendency to clutch my cares rather than cast them onto my Lord. If you are anything like me, let me share what I have learned through my study of the Scriptures and painful, personal experience — lessons that have helped me grow as a “casting Christian.”

It’s important to note that Peter was not suggesting that we pretend our cares don’t exist. Peter was writing to brothers and sisters in the Lord who had every reason to be clutching their cares. They were Jewish Christians who had been driven out of Jerusalem and scattered throughout Asia Minor during the great persecution of Christians that had been launched by the tyrannical Roman emperor Nero. Christians were being beaten, arrested, tortured, and executed for their faith in Jesus. There was no pretending that cares did not exist.

Peter opened his epistle by acknowledging that his readers “have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials,” and then explained that “These [trials and suffering] have come so that your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed” (1 Peter 1:7). Peter then urged his family of faith to refuse to carry their burdens alone. His inspired instruction was clear: Take your cares – all of your cares – and cast them onto Christ. Why? Because Jesus Christ cares deeply for His bride and His cross makes that abundantly clear.

Peter didn’t simply say, “Just throw away your cares,” because that is impossible to do. That would be like saying, “Just forget about it.” Who can do that? No, the instruction is clear; we are to intentionally give our cares over to the care of the One who can and will not only carry them, but comfort us at the same time.

So let me ask you directly: Are you like me? Have you been clutching any cares lately? What is making you anxious, worried, or fearful right now? The inspired psalmist also instructed you and me to be casting Christians: “Cast your burden upon the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous to be shaken” (Psalm 55:22 NASB). To know that Jesus can carry your cares is one thing, but to know that Jesus wants to carry your cares because He cares for you is another thing altogether!

What one change do you need to make in your life right now in order to begin living as a casting Christian? Do you remember when the disciples were in a boat with Jesus on the Sea of Galilee and an intense storm suddenly blew in while Jesus was asleep on a cushion? The terrified disciples woke the Lord, crying, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” (Mark 4:39). Did Jesus care? He not only cared enough to still the storm on the water, but He went on to still the storm of sin in their hearts when He took their place on the cross . . . and He cared enough to take your place and mine too. Let that truth set you free to be a casting Christian, one who knows and trusts that Jesus cares for you.

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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The Ministry of the Mop

If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it. (Genesis 4:7)

There are two important aspects to any military conquest: the battle itself and “mopping up” after the battle. Once the battle has been fought and won, the victorious force must mop up — that is, methodically root out any lingering pockets of resistance.

What is true in battle is also true in the life of the believer. I call it the ministry of the mop. You see, Jesus has won the battle through His sinless life, sacrificial death, and supernatural resurrection. He has defeated sin, Satan, and our final enemy: death. Someone was once asked how to explain the book of the Revelation, and his response was, “We won!”

That’s true! But as Steve Brown of Key Life Network is fond of saying, “The dragon has been slain, but his tail still swishes.” Until we are received into glory, we all must “mop up” and deal with lingering pockets of resistance that come against us. Sin no longer reigns in the life of the believer, but it undoubtedly still remains, which is why we all must be committed to the ministry of the mop. If we do not pay close attention to those areas of lingering resistance to the rule and reign of our Lord in our lives, we will never be all God has called us to be and we will never fully experience the joy of our salvation.

Here are just a few examples of lingering pockets of potential resistance:

  • Money and possessions
  • Family and relationships
  • Pride and self-centeredness
  • Gossip and slander

The list, of course, could fill a thick book. Even after we are saved, we are still very much sinners in need of a Savior. Paul made that clear in the seventh chapter of Romans. “What I do is not the good I want to do,” the apostle frankly admitted; “no, the evil I do not want to do — this I keep on doing” (Romans 7:19). If a man as godly as Paul admitted to fighting such an uphill battle against sin, you and I must be totally committed to mopping up any areas of lingering resistance in our own lives.

One final point: God has promised to give you everything you need to fight the good fight of faith until complete victory is achieved, which will not happen until you are called home or Jesus returns. Until then, keep the mop close at hand! It is a ministry we all must be engaged in on a daily basis.

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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Best of Times . . . Worst of Times

Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. (John 8:32)

The title of today’s word of encouragement is taken from Charles Dickens’ classic 1859 novel, A Tale of Two Cities. Dickens was comparing and contrasting life in London with life in Paris during the French Revolution. He began his tale by establishing the idea that no matter how good it is in this life, it simply cannot be matched with all the bad that goes with it. Conflict is all around us and within us: good and evil, light and darkness, wisdom and folly, love and hatred.

I think this accurately describes the cultural moment confronting the church today, but also all of our individual lives on this side of glory. Looking back over our lives, we can all recall times we would describe as both best and worst, yet our Lord has used all of it for His glory and our good.

While the number of professing Christians is increasing around the world (although not in United States), the general understanding of biblical Christianity is diminishing. Far too many in the modern church know very little of the Bible and even less of the weight of God’s glory. They sit under teaching from theologically barren pulpits that proclaim a false prosperity gospel that mutes the biblical message of suffering, while at the same time trumpeting the man-centered message that you can have your best life now. So numbers are up in the church, but knowledge is down. It is the best of times and the worst of times.

What is the best way forward? We must remember that there is Truth, and His name is Jesus Christ. Jesus is in control of all things at all times and in the lives of all people. He is working everything out according to His perfect plan and purpose for the expansion of His kingdom. When Jesus promised that we will have trouble in this world, He was essentially promising that we will experience both the best of times and the worst of times in this life, but He also promised that we will never experience either alone.

Paul knew this truth by way of personal experience.

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret to being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. (Philippians 4:12)

Paul experienced the best of times and the worst of times throughout his ministry of service to Jesus.  And Paul gave us Philippians 4:13, which is the key that unlocks the door to living out our own Tale of Two Cities: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Regardless of the times we are currently experiencing — whether good or bad, high or low, best or worst — when we have the Truth with us, in us, and working through us, we have all we need to do all the things God has called us to do.

There is nothing new under the sun, and therefore those who live in every age can echo Dickens and say “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness.” This is an apt description of life in a fallen, broken world for every generation. But if you keep Jesus on the throne of your life, it will always be a “spring of hope” for you, even if you find yourself in “the winter of despair.” And that’s because He has the best plan for all things . . . including you!

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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Restore Your Roar

God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. (2 Timothy 1:7)

Young Timothy was Paul’s spiritual son, and he was facing mounting opposition against his service to our Lord. Much of that opposition had arisen because Timothy was young in the faith. In today’s passage, we see Paul providing Timothy with eternal encouragement that can be summed up in a single statement: Restore your roar!

Notice the three characteristics that Paul set forth in encouraging his protege to lead the church well: power, love, and self-discipline. Let’s take a brief look at each one of these vital characteristics, gifts that are available for every Christian to appropriate because of the presence of the Holy Spirit who dwells within us.

Power – God is omnipotent, and thus we have unlimited power at our disposal to be used for the expansion of His Kingdom. We must never forget that the same power that raised Jesus from death to life dwells within each child of God (Romans 8:11), and that power within us is infinitely and eternally greater than any power that can come against us.

Love – God is love, and we have been commanded to display His love to everyone, even those who stand in opposition to us (Matthew 5:44). We are to love because He first loved us, and the presence of the Holy Spirit empowers us to love even the unlovable. Love is to flow through us because there is an unconditional love that flows to us from our Fountainhead that can never run dry.

Self-discipline – The inspired writer of Hebrews acknowledged that “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful.” He continued, “Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12:11). To be sure, denying oneself and practicing self-discipline can be painful, but it does produce what is necessary for us to fulfill our calling.

As you look at your life right now, how would you rate yourself in these areas of power, love, and self-discipline? In which area are you the strongest? Where are you weakest? Know this: He who began this good work in you has promised to complete it. God is not finished with you yet! Let Him have His way with you, and you will see yourself growing daily in the power, love, and self-discipline that is yours because you are His.

Christian, the Lion from the tribe of Judah has promised to restore your roar!

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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Does God Care About What We Want?

My God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.  (Philippians 4:19)

We find ourselves dissatisfied with our lot in life when we mix up our understanding of needs and wants. Today’s verse assures us that God has promised to meet our every need, but not our every want. If God cares for the birds of the air and the flowers of the field — and He most certainly does — then He surely cares for you and will fulfill His promise to meet your needs . . . not just daily, but moment by moment. The only time your needs will not be met on this side of the grave will be when you have completed your ministry of service to Him and breathe your last. But then you will be present with Him in glory, where there will be will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain (Revelation 21:4).

But does this mean that God has no concern for our wants? Does he care nothing about satisfying them in our lives? Nothing could be further from the truth! One of the most memorable passages of Scripture is Psalm 37:4, which assures us, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” When we are delighting in the Lord, the Lord delights to give us our desires, because our desires are in line with His desires for us. God delights in blessing His people with good things, and we are to receive them with joy and thanksgiving, knowing that we have been blessed so that we can be a blessing to others.

If you have children, you can think about this from a parent’s perspective. Don’t you want to give your children the very best life has to offer? Of course you do! You love your kids and want the best for them. The same is true for God. He loves all of His children and delights in giving them the desires of their hearts.

The deepest biblical understanding of what it means to “delight in the Lord” is to make our Lord our greatest delight. When we do, we can be assured that our Lord will delight in not only meeting our needs, but in granting us the deepest desires of our heart.

I am often asked, “How do I know if I am truly delighting in the Lord?” The answer is surprisingly simple: Look at how you spend your time. If all you are using out of the 168 hours you have been given each week is one hour in the presence of your Lord on Sunday morning, it is painfully obvious that there is precious little “delight” for you . . . only desultory duty. But if you are spending time each day on your knees and in His Word, then your desires will begin to conform to His desires for you, and you will be ready to receive all that God has purposed and planned for your life.

When we truly believe that God is our greatest good, both needs and wants are ours .

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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It Sounds Too Good To Be True!

Already you are clean because of the Word that I have spoken to you.  (John 15:3)

To be sure, the old adage, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is” is sage advice, but it isn’t always true, especially when the “sound” is coming from the Bible. The devil wants us to view the Scriptures with suspicion, cynicism, and doubt. His first attack against mankind in the Garden of Eden was to cause Adam and Eve to question the truth and goodness of God’s Word. To be sure, there is much we find in the Word of God that sounds too good to be true, but it is true; His Word is truth (John 17:17). When we receive God’s truth by faith, we can respond to it in faith and begin living the life God has called and equipped us to live.

Today’s verse — the promise of being clean in the sight of God — surely sounds too good to be true, because we are all painfully aware that we are not always clean in thought, word, deed, or desire. But because we are clothed in the righteousness of Christ, we are clean in the eyes of God. He regards us as possessing the perfect righteousness of His beloved Son, because He has credited (the theological word is imputed) Christ’s righteousness to all who believe the Gospel.

Let me share just two more of these “too good to be true” promises with you today:

The Promise of Pardon

There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1)

At the top of the list of those things that sound too good to be true is the promise of pardon. Because of what God in Christ has done for us on the cross, our guilt and shame have been completely and eternally taken away. All of our sins — past, present, and those still to come — have been nailed to the cross, and regardless of what we do, we are secure in our salvation because God, the righteous judge of all the universe, has declared us “Not guilty.” What we must always keep in view is the fact that God does not love us because we are good; He loves us because we are His, and dying on a cross to make us His makes that truth abundantly and gloriously clear.  

The Promise of Presence

God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)

The writer of Hebrews was quoting from the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy. I’m sure you believe that every Word from God is important, but when God repeats Himself, we should pay extra attention to what He has said. Once again, His promise sounds too good to be true! But consider this for a moment: God has promised us His presence today, tomorrow, and forever. We will never be left alone, no matter what we do. Jesus promised to send His Holy Spirit to every believer when He ascended to heaven. Our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit — literally, dwelling places for the Spirit of God — so we have God’s presence with us 24/7, 365 days a year. And when we breathe our last, we will be ushered into His eternal presence.

The Promise of Pardon and The Promise of Presence really do sound too good to be true, but they are true for all those who, by grace through faith, have trusted in Christ alone for salvation. You can sum up these words of eternal encouragement by simply saying, We are always forgiven and We are never forsaken! We are eternally clean in the sight of God. Let these “too good to be true” truths set you free to be all God is calling you to be.

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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Refreshment Required

I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.  (Jeremiah 31:25)

Are you feeling in need of refreshment lately? If you are anything like me, I’ll bet you are! And how glorious and gratifying it is to know that we do not need to put up a false front, feel guilty, or feign strength when we come before the God who has promised to bring refreshment to the weary. Indeed, Scripture encourages us to “approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

I say it here often, but I truly believe that you and I cannot be reminded often enough that our God has promised to meet us in our deepest place of need — not just daily, but moment by moment. In today’s passage from Jeremiah, the need is refreshment. Perhaps you have been experiencing a season of difficulties at work or challenges at home. Maybe you have been disciplined by your loving Father in heaven for having wandered from the path He has set before you. Possibly you are dealing with some kind of loss in your life. Take heart! God has promised to refresh your weary soul.

Take a moment drink in this message of comfort that God gave to Jeremiah. This promise does not apply to those who are working in their own strength. Those who are self-reliant and self-sufficient know nothing of the promise of refreshment from God. Only those who have nothing left in and of themselves, who have reached the end of the proverbial rope and find themselves at rock bottom, know the refreshment of God. Like Paul, they exult that “When I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10).

If anyone might have been tempted to work in his own strength, it was the apostle Paul. He was at the head of his class when it came to education and abilities. But when he was called by God, Paul was confronted with the painful truth that he could do nothing apart from Christ. He also came to understand the powerful truth, apart from Christ, there could be no refreshment. When we read about the intense persecution Paul suffered for the sake of the Gospel, we can be assured that he experienced physical, emotional, mental, and even spiritual exhaustion. But he knew the fountain from Whom all blessings flow . . . and one of those blessings is refreshment.

Our journey of faith is a long and winding road, dotted with many jarring potholes and plenty of unexpected twists and turns; refreshment is required along the way if we are going to finish our race. Regardless of where this finds you, look to Jesus. Receive His refreshment, which will renew your mind, recalibrate your heart, and realign your will to live the life God has called you to live.

Refreshment is required. Have you received it today?   

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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Beloved Thornbushes

I will block her path with thornbushes. (Hosea 2:6)

In spite of her unfaithfulness to God, God remained faithful to Israel, and He used thornbushes for Israel’s good and His glory. Instead of abandoning Israel, as she had turned her back on God over and over and over again, He blocked her path with beloved thornbushes to keep His chosen people from diving any deeper into their sinful and willful rebellion against God by seeking after lesser lovers.

How blessed we are to know that when we love Jesus less than we should, He loves us just the same! Jesus pursues sinful rebels on the run away from Him with an unrelenting, unconditional love that will stop at nothing to bring us to our spiritual senses. When we chase after smaller gods, He comes after us and rescues our hearts from the broken cisterns, idols, and illusions that have captured our attention. Our God is a jealous God; He will tolerate no rival for our affections, so He sends beloved thornbushes to block our path into sin and protect us from ourselves.

Notice how the passage from Hosea closes:

I will wall her in so that she cannot find her way. She will chase after her lovers but not catch them; she will look for them but not find them. Then she will say, “I will go back to my husband as at first, for then I was better off than now.” (Hosea 2:6-7)

God loves us so much that He continues to pursue us and bring us back into a right relationship with Him. Oh, how we all long for the day when we will never have to say, “I will go back to my husband as at first,” for we shall never again leave His side. But until that day, always keep in view how much you are loved by God and how He protects you from your selfish and sinful ways. Let us rejoice in knowing that the God of the universe has a special love for us, a love that endures forever and ever, even when we chase after the mirages that lure us into being less than He has called us to be.

Where in your life has God saved you from yourself by putting beloved thornbushes in your path as you were losing your way? Lesser gods and smaller loves will never satisfy, so rejoice in whatever beloved thornbushes God uses to keep you from finding satisfaction in anything smaller than Jesus.

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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