Valued

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Who has the right to decide someone’s value?

I believe the answer to that question is their “creator” or “maker.”

This very thought got me thinking about the problems in our society today. Do you know that right now the number of abortions this year is well over 22,000,000 and climbing every minute?

At the same time an unborn infant screams, there are birthday celebrations and baby showers with parents beaming with pride and love. How can both exist in one world? In one country? What is the true value of a child?

No one really knows. But we do know that they are worth more than we can imagine, that we are worth so much that God would send His Son to die for us. That Jesus would storm the gates of Hell for us, that the Holy Spirit would be with us always, remaining our companion even when we grieve Him.

God made us all by hand, each one of us is a masterpiece reflecting His heart. And yet, we destroy so many of His works of art. We can block it out, cover our ears and close our eyes. God cannot. He hears and sees everything we do under the sun, and He hears each cry, each plea for life. And yet He still loves us.

The problem is that our society is trying to erase God, and become “gods” themselves. If you’re a god, you can then be considered the “creator” of the life that is growing in your womb. And if you are the creator then it is your right to destroy your creation. It’s yours, after all, you decide the value of what you create.

The truth would be harder to swallow. That when we take a life it isn’t our right to take it. That the baby growing inside you isn’t being crafted by your hands but by the hands of Almighty God. Just because I am a woman and can be used as God’s vessel to bring life into the world, doesn’t mean that I can choose to end that life. We surrender to God’s will, not He to ours. I hold no power apart from Him, He created me with the ability to bear children, therefore He created in essence, the very idea of children.

And so the world values what it wishes, discards what it wishes, blind by its inability to understand that nothing is original to us. Everything we have “made” was first perceived by God, and would not be possible for us if it wasn’t for what God has already created, such as our hands, our eyes, and our minds.

The importance of value is that it is important. God may not have told us the exact value of a rose or a sparrow, but He has made it very clear that we are valued above all these. That we are the center of His heart, and that everything else He created for us. That we might reign with Him, as His sons and daughters.

Abortion isn’t the only way we devalue life. We do this through race, religion, wealth, beauty, gender, talent, and sexuality. It isn’t a new thing to look down upon a person, in fact, it is birthed from selfish pride. A sin that everyone has faced, even if they didn’t let it reside in their hearts so deeply.

That is why the idea of “surrender” seems distasteful. And yet in Christianity, surrender takes on a different meaning than what society has defined it as. To society, surrender means to give up, to wave a white flag and be captured unwillingly by a stronger enemy. It is seen as a sign of weakness, in war movies, the main character would rather die fighting than ever surrender. In Christianity, it is a sign of trust, love, reverence, and worship. It is likened to what Jesus did when he became a servant, kneeling at the feet of his disciples and washing them. It was a display of honor.

I’m not trying to shame those who have sinned, but in order for true repentance to take place, sin must first be recognized. A conviction of the heart must take place. Jesus died for every sin, no matter how awful the sin may be. There is grace, forgiveness, and love. No one is immune to sin, and the agenda of this world is to influence good hearts, to deceive blameless minds into doing the unthinkable.

I am merely pained, as I type this. I find myself just as guilty at turning away from the souls crying out for a savior. How can I laugh, watch TV, go about my day-to-day in a country that is murdering millions of innocent babies? We watch documentaries about the Holocaust and are sickened by what we see. We ask, how could the Germans let this happen in their own backyards? And look at us! We let the destruction of entire generations happen. I’m tired of only hearing, “all lives matter,” without the explanation of why. It’s sad but it’s true that people need to be reminded of why.

If God mattered to us then automatically all lives would matter to us. God transforms hearts and minds to reflect His. We can’t look in a mirror and expect to change, we have always needed to look to God. The truth is people were made to worship, and if we don’t worship God we will worship something else, in this case, ourselves. People uphold humanity as if it is a growing, changing thing. Like we can outgrow our need for a God or morality. When the reality is that, although we may develop in some ways, we still remain humans, fallible, imperfect, and bound to make the same mistakes we have made countless times before.

And so, when you go back out into the world remember this. The boss that may have ticked you off, the lady who pulled out in front of you at an intersection, the kid throwing a tantrum in the grocery store, the baby with a dirty diaper….are all priceless. Their value is set, by God Himself. Your value is set, no one can take away your value, your worth. You were paid for in full by Jesus Christ.

All lives matter, all lives are valuable, all lives were created by God.

 

 

 

 

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It Takes Three

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God has never felt alone. Maybe there were moments, such as when Jesus called out, “why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46), that He suddenly felt ignored and cut off, but He never lingered there. It was a purely human thing to feel alone when the truth is He was never alone.

God has never felt the feeling of two either. Even as Jesus, when it was just Him and one disciple talking together while the others were away, Jesus was aware of three presences. His friend, the Holy Spirit, and God the Father.

Three, the Trinity, is what God has called complete. Longer than we could ever imagine, for eternity, God has had completeness in Himself. It is no wonder that He would want our marriages to mirror this same relationship.

My husband and I have always placed God at the center. He is first, the one we come to for advice, guidance, and love. In Him, we are complete, not in each other. I love Aaron with all my heart, He is my companion, and our marriage bond makes us one, however, He cannot complete me. And what a weight that would be on his shoulders to fulfill such a role!

Adam began with Eve a part of him, and though God felt he should have Eve at his side, Adam first only knew God. And I bet, it was enough for Adam. Just as it was enough for God before He created us. We do not see Adam asking for a helper, only God feeling that it would be good if Adam had one. Why is that?

It all goes back to why God created us and the angels. If He is complete in Himself, why create other beings at all?

I’ve known my husband for a long time, God even longer. I’ve experienced God’s love and have felt loved by Aaron. The wonder of love is that it grows and multiplies. And often longs to pour out. We long to both receive and give love. In other words, love longs to be shared. And that is why God has given us the ability to bear children.

Gods love is so great within the Trinity,  that He longed to share it with children of His own. And so we were created in order for Him to share His love. Marriage mirrors this in that after a while a happily married couple longs to share their love by growing their family. A child in itself is the result of love. He/she is a person made up of two individuals that came together as one. And likewise, we were made by God in His image, the image of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as an expression of His great never-ending love.

And so I claim that it takes three to make a marriage work. It takes three to reflect Christ and His love for the church. I once saw an image that demonstrated this beautifully. There was a bride and a groom with hands locked together, and God was in the middle, with His hand on top of theirs, holding them together, cementing their bond and adding to it with His own.

Through God we see each other more clearly, we love more honestly and fully. In Him, I see not just a man when I look at my husband, but a son created by God, in His image, loved perfectly and whole-heartedly. This helps me to look past his flaws and mistakes, to honor him and his authority as my husband because in doing so I honor God.

“For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

– Matthew 18:20

Small Town, Big Dreams

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Things are beginning to change in my small town. Hope is being stirred up and I believe that God is about to do something big.

But these things take time. After so many years of broken dreams, it takes time for people to believe and hope again. However, God is moving quickly, businesses are opening up, people are rallying together to rebuild and clean up our town.

It takes big dreams. Big leaps of faith.

Sometimes it’s hard to dream, and so much easier to doubt, to stop hoping and wishing because it hurts when doors close. After a while, we start believing those doors will never open. We stop knocking. Letting go of the doorknob with a sigh…

Growing up in this small town has molded me. I remember dreaming big as a child, I wanted to be everything, to do everything, and go everywhere in this life. As I grew those passions narrowed, some extinguished altogether. Others flickered dimly, clinging to hope.

For a while, I felt hopeless, trapped. Even now, I sometimes feel trapped by society. I have looked back on my life and thought, “what have I done, really?”

God looked back with me…and saw something else. I’ve fulfilled dreams I never knew I had. I may not have been a zookeeper or a famous singer, but I have had the privilege to worship God himself almost every Sunday on stage since I was little.

I would rather sing to Him, than to a crowd.

I have had the honor to serve others and to help them accomplish their dreams. To spread hope in the name of Jesus. To pray and witness God move.

I realized my dream to be a wife, more particularly, to be a wife to Aaron. My husband and best friend. I couldn’t have dreamed up a better match, or companion in this life. Who shares my faith and walks beside me down this ever-winding path towards God.

Now, I dream of being a mother. I dream of seeing their dreams come true.

Yes, some doors in my life have closed, some dreams have slipped past, and some have seemed too big to dream for. But that isn’t the end of my story, and though I may have stopped knocking, I will continue to look over my shoulder at those closed doors, always hoping that they will open, if only a crack.

Meanwhile, there are dreams that I am living, doors that are opening, and just as my small town is moving forward, so am I.

To you, I say this, the greatest dream there is…would not be half as so, without Jesus. Dream with him, take a leap of faith..and watch what happens next.

 

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

-Jeremiah 29:11

 

 

Can I Get a Witness?

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“You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “and my servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me.”

-Isaiah 43:10

In biblical times, witnesses held a vital role in proving one’s validity. Afterall, how can one man stick up for himself and his actions objectively and prove himself innocent without witnesses to verify his story and character? There truly is strength in numbers, the more people involved, the more accurately one can discover what really happened. As well as the harder it is to cover up the truth. That is the wonder of the Bible itself, it is a book of witnesses, and we can believe in its truth because every witness’s stories line up. They do not contradict each other but support one another.

We see through their personalities what stood out to them most in each event, and yet the core of the story remains unchanged. Jesus did walk among them, performing miracles, raising the dead, and casting out demons. Not even the Pharisees can deny what their eyes have seen, though they try to deny that each miracle came from God’s Son, they cannot describe how a blind man can now see, or how a lame man can now walk.

The fact is, we wouldn’t have the Bible if it wasn’t for witnesses. People had to witness God to know Him, had to witness miracles to believe in them. There is much that God still wants us to witness today if we would be willing to simply look. How can we be God’s witnesses if we haven’t witnessed anything? Testimonies are vital to proving the goodness and grace of God. If God’s will is good, then we must show this, prove this, and stand firm as witnesses of that goodness. It has never been a sin to long for visible proof, however, it is a sin to close your eyes from the truth that is displayed around you, even as you read this. What you seek you will find. We should never stay at doubting, and we should never close our minds to God and how He wants to work in your life.

“A truthful witness saves lives, but one who breathes out lies is deceitful.” (Proverbs 14:25)

If you believe God is in a box, you won’t look for Him outside that box. Every miracle that contradicts what you believe about God and how He works will be discarded. In limiting your view of God, you will limit your sight and witness very little. It is like looking at the world through the wrong end of a pair of binoculars.

Though there is power in believing without seeing, we cannot expect the lost world to take this route. God sent His Holy Spirit to display His goodness in miraculous works and wonders, and Jesus himself declared that we would do greater things than he did while on the earth. What did he do? He taught large crowds and then displayed the truth he taught in miraculous signs and healings.

It is time we become witnesses of God again, be a witness to a miraculous sign, and don’t hold the testimony in, speak it out! Share it at your church, with your friends at work, and to your family who know more than most whether you are telling the truth or not. They won’t be able to deny the joy and wonder on your face, they won’t be able to explain your excitement and passion.

Testimonies spark hope, satan has had his hands over the eyes of many people. He has gained control of the media and has turned our heads away from the good things that are happening towards the ugly, awful suffering brought about by his evil servants. It is his worst fear that we would witness something from God and not be able to deny it. That we would get a glimpse of God’s heart and will for mankind and that in that glimpse we would be forever changed.

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” -Acts 1:8

Go out into the world and witness!

 

 

The Crown

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“If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.”

-James 1:5-7

Excerpt from my Journal with God, Aug. 11, 2016:

You have faith in what you cannot see-but not in who I am. Doubt is often disguised by fear. Fear is not of God. You must stop bowing to it when you have authority over it. It’s time to pick up your crown and wear it with dignity.

To make a crown one must use fire and effort. Craftmanship and patience. The crown maker must believe in the outcome, envision it clearly and make it so. Life is the same way, in this world grey hair is the crown you wear- symbolizing a long life of wisdom and success. While your hair greys, in heaven your crown is perfected.

What crown will you wear? What does it say about your life? Is it adorned in many jewels? How much work was put into it?

What you do in this life effects more than you realize in the unseen world. Are you one who lets darkness reign or do you cause demons to tremble and flee? It’s time to rule over your kingdom-your domain. To exercise your authority so that one day you will receive the crown of eternal life and wear it proudly in all its splendor because the time you spent here on earth was not wasted, but used justly for the Glory of God.

It is not enough to be called a queen-one must become one, trusting in her God-fighting the good fight, and growing the kingdom of God.

[End of excerpt]

Reading through my journal or conversations with God always sets me on my feet again, and refocuses my mind. I just went to walk across the room when I saw a glint on the ground, it was a small compass. I have no idea where it came from (probably ask Aaron later) but it got me thinking. That is what my journal is, a compass. When I talk to God and record our conversation, no matter what life throws at me I can come back to these precious words of love and guidance that remind me of who I am, whose I am, and what I need to do. I can reset my direction back to the heart of my Father.

So what is the significance of a crown? As I reread this excerpt I thought about how very opposite our world is compared to heaven. We live in a democracy here in America, which can often affect how we view God’s kingdom. In heaven, there is no democracy but kings and queens placed in authority, with God as the head. There are righteous judgments and holy submission. And there are crowns, whether true or symbolic crowns that represent the level of glory and honor given to those who gave much in this life.

These crowns will never fade, nor will what they symbolize. It is a ruling that will never pass on because time will be a figment of a long forgotten past in a world that was but a vague imitation of what God has in store for us. Crowns will never again be worn by those who don’t deserve their burden. Those who use the title of king or queen to carry out their evil desires. Any kingdom we have ever experienced in this world is also but a vague inaccurate imitation. A heavenly concept taken and twisted by sin.

Someday we will all be a part of a true kingdom, the greatest kingdom, God’s kingdom! Until that day we must live aware of who we are, that we are kings and queens on the battlefield, fighting from victory and acceptance, not for it. Because the battle is already won, we have only to carry it out to completion. Take the final swing of our swords, give the final battle cry, plant the crest of our heavenly kingdom firmly in the ground once governed by darkness, and make every demon flee, in terror of our might.

So what is the significance of a crown? To me, it represents honor, glory, sacrifice, and the completion of who we are. You were made holy, you were made to reign with God, what sin stole from you, He will restore back to you. And on that day, it will be a glorious celebration, one that will mark the beginning of eternity in God’s presence. Knowing who we are and who He is and never ever turning back.

Like A Child

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“He called a little child to him and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

-Matthew 18:2

I’ve always loved the zoo. From the moment I could walk I have been captivated by God’s creatures. Going to the zoo so often has made me accustomed to their appearances. My husband grew up differently, he only vaguely remembers going to the zoo when he was very young and so one day we both went to the zoo together. I thought he would be impressed, after all, the last time he went he was too young to truly appreciate God’s creatures. I was wrong.

He looked at the elephants and giraffes and said, “they are much smaller than I remember.” The wonder had left him, and reality had set in. As a child, the world was a lot bigger, the days much longer, and the animals much larger and incredible. I looked at the large elephants chewing on hay and wondered, “did they ever become smaller to me?”

At home, we have a very large Alaskan Malamute, I remember the first time I saw her at the shelter, she was so big and fluffy…and intimidating. But I fell in love with her and now three years later I still appreciate her beauty, but I no longer feel she is that big, or that she is intimidating, at least to me. I know she is big and that her bark can be scary to those who don’t know her, but I have grown used to her. 

How is this example different to the first? With our dog, familiarity with her changed how we saw her. My husband at the zoo was not familiar with the animals like I was, he just remembered things from a childlike perspective and that expectation came up short once he saw them as an adult. It’s like when we were little we believed our parents were superheroes, nothing could stop them and they were strong enough to protect us from anything, including the scary monsters under our beds. Now, we still respect them, but we know they are just humans, and that we all battle monsters and can easily fail.

In both these examples, the wonder wore off as time passed. Our perceptions changed and that change made what we saw less exciting and “big.”

How does this relate to how we view God?

As a child, I knew God was powerful, He was like a superhero to me. He was big, but not vast, not multi-faceted. I didn’t understand the depth of His love, I couldn’t fathom His goodness or righteousness. As I have grown, God has only become bigger and better. Though I draw closer to Him and become more familiar with Him, there is just so much to Him that instead of figuring Him out, I find that I have more and more questions, more and more wonder at Who He is, instead of What He is.

It is good to think and see like an adult, but we must not forget that we are to be like children in our faith and trust. The truth is, as a child we naively trust people, we view the world as a safe place. Evil acts of violence and suffering are, or should I say “should,” be beyond a child’s ability to comprehend. They are full of the need to be guided and taught and corrected. They simply believe the best and hope for the best, and they know that God is real without a doubt in their minds.

I love children for this, this ability I find difficult to re-capture. It goes back to my previous post, how can I go back to being naive, how can I go back to not knowing or understanding things the way I do now? God does not desire for us to try and be naive, that is denial. And denial hurts both the world and us in the end. Denial grips the church and the nation, it re-directs blame and causes numbness in our hearts. Hearts that were made to carry the love of God to others. We simply can’t go back in that way, and God shows us that He is bigger than what we know.

The more we know, the more mature we are equals the more we see God’s hand at work, the more ways He can demonstrate His awesome power and love. A veil is lifted from our eyes and we can choose denial at what we see, or we can look around and see God in everything while before we saw Him work only in our own lives. Our God is very active, He isn’t sleeping, and He just wants us to trust Him.

“Be like a child in this way,” Jesus said, honoring your parents, trusting and hoping, joyful and free. We are to honor God for He is our Father, we are to trust and hope in Him and His goodness, and we are to live joyfully in praise, free from the weight of sin. 

 

 

 

The Burden of Knowing

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“For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief.”

-Ecclesiastes 1:18

I remember the first time I heard about Human Trafficking, it was quite a shock to know such hideous crimes were taking place right in my hometown. Innocent women and children, seemingly ignored by society, taken away while we hid behind our picket fences and tv screens. I remember feeling the weight of the problem on my shoulders, a shame at having let something so big occur, as if I could stop it.

I vowed to fight the injustice, to make everyone else aware so that they too would feel it’s weight and take action. As time went on I started a group at our church and researched Human Trafficking statistics in America, and in the rest of the world. I bought the documentary, Nefarious: Merchant of Souls and played that to my group. It’s one thing to list the facts, it’s another thing to show real footage of the crime, to put faces to the numbers.

I was impassionated for a few years…as time went on I began to feel that I couldn’t do anything, I felt pulled and torn by other things that needed fixing in this world. And at the end of it all, life took my attention and passion away. But deep inside I still feel the pull because no matter how hard we try to forget, we can’t go back to not knowing.

Knowledge means responsibility. Once we know something, we make a decision right then and there about what to do with that information. Do we store it away in the deep corners of the mind? Do we discard it as useless? Do we meditate on it, and take action? We decide these things the moment we see someone in need. And what we do with the knowledge may mean everything to someone.

“Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.” (Hebrews 13:2-3)

We are to remember those in prison as if we were together with them! Do you know how many brothers and sisters in Christ are suffering at this moment for Jesus? Every month 160 Christians are put in prison, and 255 are even killed! (opendoorsusa.org) I can’t go back to not knowing that…every month.

So what are we to do with our ever increasing knowledge? In such a world where the internet and media advances have connected us all so much, what can God expect us to do about all the many needs and problems?

First, we pray.

Can we pray for every single thing? probably not, unless we truly take 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 to heart;

Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

It says we must also rejoice and give thanks. I take these verses to mean we are to be constantly aware of God, not necessarily talking His ear off. But talking when something comes to your heart as if He were standing beside you. It’s like being with your spouse or a close friend, you don’t have to talk to be close to one another, and when you do talk it’s a two-way conversation from the heart.

That’s the key to praying, don’t feel pressured to pray for every single person or problem as if your one prayer may be the key to saving them, granted our prayers are powerful, but as Romans 8:28 says;

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose.”

There have been times when I forgot to pray and realized that God had still worked in that person’s life. God works through us, but remember, He isn’t limited in resources to work through.

The next thing we are to do is give.

Ask God what you are to give in time, money, or resources. A tithe isn’t “giving”, it is what we are all called to give to God, giving is what we do when our heart is stirred, it can be a set amount of money a month like a tithe, or it can be a one-time donation. And although tithing is only done through money, when we give it can be whatever we want. We can give food or time, or the very shirts off our backs. We can give talents, and kind words, and we can give knowledge, like the gospel. We all give differently, based on what stirs our hearts and what we are called to give.

If every Christian gave what they were called to give, a seemingly small sacrifice, then the world would be changed. Imagine it! a world full of 2.2 billion Christians, all of which are giving and helping and praying, all are doing what they were called to do. I know this would be world-changing, and that the reputation of Christianity itself would change.

The world and its problems wouldn’t seem so overwhelming if we knew that we didn’t have to fight them alone. There are many Christian organizations at work in this world, they do the brunt of the work, they are on the frontlines fighting the good fight. But even they aren’t called to do this alone, every Christian is a frontline Christian. Satan is battling us all, anyone who carries the title of Christian he is out to destroy, we don’t avoid him by doing nothing…by doing nothing, he has already won against you.

There is a reason the bible talks about us wearing the full armor of God, we need it! We don’t wield a teddy bear in this image, but a sword! I believe that many Christians have become numb to the world, they see only what’s in front of them, they tell themselves that because the bible says that the world will get worse, why bother fighting the inevitable?

We fight because it is our call and commision to dispel darkness and bring the world under the authority of God’s kingdom. Jesus said that the poor would always be among us (Matthew 26:11), however, that didn’t stop him from helping the poor anyway. What we do here matters, lives are at stake, and all of heaven is watching us. It is a privilege to give today…in heaven, we will no longer be able to give because everyone will have all they need. Now is the only chance we get to sacrifice, it’s time we rise up and do exactly that. For what is money, or the very man-made treasures we own in the face of eternity with God? The things you cherish today you won’t take with you, it will be swept away with the rest of creation at the end, and from the ashes, God will create something even greater. You will never long for those things again after you enter through heaven’s gates, but you may just feel the weight of regret…imagining all the times you could have given, prayed, helped, healed, said, done…for the sake of those who are most precious to God.

Solomon had it right, he was the wisest man and he knew the weight of knowledge. It brought him pain and sorrow to truly know. And yet he never once asked for God to take away his understanding. He was offered wealth and he chose wisdom over wealth, God gave him both in abundance. Soloman had made the right decision, notice how the right decisions are rarely ever the easy ones.

The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this. 11 So God said to him, “Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, 12 I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be. 13 Moreover, I will give you what you have not asked for—both wealth and honor—so that in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings. 14 And if you walk in obedience to me and keep my decrees and commands as David your father did, I will give you a long life.” (1 Kings 3:10-13)

Do your part, play your role…we are only on the stage of life for so long. Live your life fully, so that when the time comes and the curtains begin to close, you can smile and bow in the wake of heaven’s applause, having fully done all that was asked of you with excellence and honor.