Prayer for release

Lord, I’m afraid to give this to you, but I want you to have it anyway.

Cupped and open hands 2

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. (Psalm 139:23)

Published in: on March 24, 2013 at 10:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

Day 24: “Sponsor” a Senior in a Nursing Home

I don’t know of any program where you can choose to sponsor a senior in a nursing home–that is, receive a picture of him/her, write letters, send money for critical needs items and gifts, and go on a mission trip to visit.

I am not aware of any program where you can do that, but, as a believer, you can do that anyway, through the power of Christ in you.

Visiting seniors in nursing homes is one of the most convenient, inexpensive, and desperately needed ministries you can do.  Unless you live in a rural area, there is probably a nursing home within 30 minutes of where you live.  In that nursing home are dozens of people who need far more care and love than they are receiving.

This is not because of a failure on the part of our government to provide quality nursing home care; if we had the best care for seniors in the world, it would not be adequate at the institutional level.  That would be something like saying if we had the best day cares in the world, children wouldn’t need their parents or other adults, in their lives.

Seniors need contact with humans other than those being paid to serve them.  Regardless of whether they are receiving quality care or poor care, they need an outside friend to talk to them.  Even if you don’t have a dime to your name, you will be like Santa and fill their wishlist just by visiting them.  Nearly all seniors in nursing homes want a visitor.  And for many seniors, this will never happen unless you go.

The biggest gift most seniors want you to give them is the gift of time.  They want you to talk to them, touch their hand, give them a hug.  They want to see, hear, and feel the presence of someone who cares enough to visit them even inside the often lonely lockdown world of a nursing home.

There are two ways to help in the mission field of nursing homes:

  • Be a part of or host an activity (i.e., worship music, juggling act, painting nails)
  • Speak to a manager or coordinator at a local nursing home and ask for the name of a lonely senior who you could visit regularly (i.e., once a week or month), “sponsoring” that senior with Christ’s love and attention

Note: I’ll just use the term “nursing home”, but you can also visit assisted living homes, where seniors are usually more alert/capable and the facility is usually brighter.  Or you can visit daycare facilities for seniors, where families drop them off to spend time socializing or to relieve the burden of care.  These seniors require more care and often have disabilities.  All seniors need someone to love them–even and maybe especially those who live in less-desirable nursing homes or who have severe disabilities/dementia.

Be a part of or host an activity

You don’t have to be an expert in anything to host an activity at the nursing home.  It doesn’t matter much if you fumble when you play the piano or miss a few notes when you sing.  You can be pretty much terrible at whatever you do so long as you greet the seniors and ask them a little bit about their lives.  🙂  (But be prepared for honest comments from one or two.)

I think seniors especially like:

  • Pieces of paper to take back to their room to remind them of the moment (i.e., a printed copy of a song, a flier from a juggling show, or a bookmark after a game of Bingo).
  • Small gifts (make sure you have approval of what you bring with nursing home staff first) like Hershey’s kisses, yarn bookmarks, cute simple crafts made into animals (like pom poms with jiggly eyes), and photographs
  • Time to spend one-on-one in a greeting or after a performance

If it sounds too intimidating to put on a show for seniors, you can join the residents for a meal or play a game of Bingo with them.  Or, simply bring a pet (with permission) and you will be a wildly popular hero (well, your pet will be, but they will like you as the ‘carrier’ of the pet).  Anything soft they can pet delights them so much, like a dog, cat, rabbit, or guinea pig.  Of course don’t bring an animal that bites, scratches, doesn’t do well with strangers, isn’t up to date on shots, or has a mean nature.  (Good-natured, fat, old lapdogs are just about perfect.  But don’t expect your dog to want to come back home with you.  Ever.)

Remember to bring the light of Christ into the nursing home with you.  Ask seniors if they have any prayer requests before or after a performance, and pray for them . . or read a Scripture verse to them or share a story from your life about how Christ has shared His love with you.  Never hide your shine!  🙂

Sponsor a Senior

For a deep connection with a senior, spend time visiting him/her every week, two weeks, or month.  (If you’re able to visit less frequently, consider sending a card or postcard every week, even if all it has is a sentence about how much you care or something going on in your life.)

Some seniors are easy to talk to.  They are friendly and love sharing about their lives.  Other seniors are in a lot of pain, or are dealing with a life of regrets, and they are cranky, sarcastic, or more closed.  Still other seniors are struggling with dementia, and they are often confused and may forget who you are from week to week, and may not be able to hold intelligible conversation.  Which type of senior do you think needs to be sponsored?

The correct answer is, all of them.  Whether a senior is loving or abrasive or bewildered, (s)he is made in the image of God and needs your love and support.  Even if someone seems to not remember you from week to week, or tells you the same stories over and over, I believe the soul can soak in what the mind cannot.  Even people who are completely paralyzed or in their last stages of life living immobile on a bed can sense God’s love.  I know it.  His Presence permeates not just our minds and hearts but our souls as well.

So . . what can you do when sponsoring a senior?

Really, if you do nothing besides talk to and listen to them, most seniors will love you more than you can imagine.  In fact, you may have to tell them when you come in at what time you’ll be leaving, because they will likely be very disappointed when you leave, and may be a bit frightened if you leave with little warning.

Of course, you can do more than talk to and listen to them.  But that in and of itself will be what most seniors deeply desire.  We are sociable beings.  God didn’t create Adam to live on the planet by himself.  We long to be loved by others.

It’s a good idea at the end of your visits to tell the senior you are coming back.  They are often in a lot of distress about whether or not you will return.  If you know what day you’re coming back, tell them–and please, try to stick to it.  Your visit means the world to them.  At the end of a visit, you will also want to reassure the senior that you had a good time and that you really like talking to him/her.  I think many seniors are afraid they will lose you as a friend, or that you’ll be offended by something and never come back.

It’s a thoughtful idea to give a senior your cell phone number, once you have a relationship with him/her.  You may be his/her only point of contact outside the nursing home for help or simply a comforting call.

If you want to give a little extra sponsorship, here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Send post-cards or cards in between visits.  You don’t have to write much in them; they will be treasured.
  • Buy warm, fuzzy socks or gloves.  (Beware of slippers, which have poor traction, even with anti-slip dots on the bottom.  Slippers have to have serious grips to be considered.)
  • For some seniors, basic necessities are not being provided by the meager amount of allowance they have each month.  Many people don’t realize that seniors in nursing homes have very little income provided by the government to pay for things like having their hair washed, new underwear and socks, pajamas, or new clothes.
  • If you have a senior who likes to write, you can buy a journal, post-it notes pens, mechanical pencils, or a dry erase board.
  • A watch (easy read digital may be needed)
  • A large-print Bible
  • For seniors who read, books
  • A pancake breakfast, baked goodie, ice cream in a bowl, or easily digested snacks (make sure you check about any dietary restrictions first with staff).  Be careful not to give things that could be choking hazards like M ‘n’ M’s, nuts, or popcorn.  If you wouldn’t give it to a two-year-old, you probably shouldn’t give it to a senior.  Be aware that seniors with dementia may eat everything at once, so one Little Debbie snack would be better than a whole package.
  • Drink packets that dissolve in water  (Again, check about dietary restrictions first with staff)
  • A blanket or throw
  • If you have a pet, and you get permission, definitely bring it.
  • If you have a child or children, bring them.  You might want to bring one child first, and make sure your kids know (and agree to) be calmer and quieter than usual.  🙂
  • Bring any kind of craft you make.
  • Bring a basket or bowl with decorations inside.  This is a great idea I saw recently in the room of a senior I visit!  Her niece had brought her a porcelain basket with wrapped candy inside.  (Again, make sure you have permission and watch out for candy that can be easily choked on.)  You can fill a basket with fake flower petals, potpourri, or even crayons.  (For a patient with dementia or who rooms with someone who has dementia, you can just bring an empty basket or one with tissue paper.)
  • Bring craft items like yarn, a plastic loom, crayons, construction paper, big beads, child-safe scissors, sticker or coloring books, etc. for a senior who likes to do crafts.
  • Bring Word Search books or big dominoes
  • Bring a framed picture of something happy and personally meaningful to your senior.  It could be a picture of your family, a colorful array of flowers, a fishing dock, a puppy, etc.
  • Bring a stuffed animal or Beanie Baby.  The majority of seniors I know in nursing homes LOVE LOVE LOVE dogs.  You can just about not go wrong with dogs.  😉
  • Bring a clock to sit on the mantle (but make sure it’s not heavy so it wouldn’t hurt someone if it fell).
  • Bring a no-flame candle like a Scentsy candle.
  • Bring decorations that cling to the window or have suction cups that stick to the window.
  • Bring seasonal and holiday items.  Many seniors love celebrating holidays and seasons, and they feel more secure if they know what time of year it is.
  • Bring something a child made like a card or art project.
  • Bring a calendar, especially a calendar with photographs of your family.

Remember though, most seniors will be deeply content just to have your presence.

Nursing homes can be overwhelming to walk into.  They often stink and there are many troubling sights.  There are seniors wandering the halls, a few trying to get out of the building, a few babbling things that don’t make sense.  There are seniors near death and you may even see a young person in the nursing home because of severe mental or physical issues.  Nursing homes feel depressing.

But Jesus is not depressing.  And He can go with you wherever you go.  When you visit a senior in a nursing home, you may be their only point of contact for meeting Christ Jesus all month long.

All seniors, whether in great facilities or poor facilities, whether able or disabled, whether friendly or harsh, whether clear-minded or confused, and with whatever their beliefs are, need someone to visit them from the outside.

Jesus did not command us to go to people when it’s convenient, or when they’re likable, or when they’re in a clean room.  As Christians, we have to step up and act like Christ and reach the unreached–even if it means doing something far out of our comfort zone.  Remember that the visit that’s far out of your comfort zone may be the most comforting thing that has happened to a senior in years.

“I was sick, and you cared for me.”

(King Jesus on Judgment Day to the believers, quoted in Matthew 25:36)

Saeed’s forgiveness

When we don’t forgive, we drink the poison ourselves and then wait for the other person to die. And we take the knife that has hurt us and we stab ourselves with it again! And this is the will of the evil one who wants to destroy us.

But when we forgive, we pour out the poison of the enemy and of the devil and we don’t let the poison stay in us and we don’t let the poison make us into poisonous snakes!  So that we don’t become like the person we despised and who persecuted and tortured us.

–Pastor Saeed Abedeni, writing a letter on scraps of newspaper to his wife after beatings and torture and weeks in solitary confinement in Evin Prison, one of the worst prisons in Iran

Sign the petition.  But don’t stop there.

Start praying.

Love letter

You, my wife, on the other side of the world, alone with the kids. Alone and worried. My family here in Iran, being interrogated, tired and under so much pressure.

With the loud voice of the prison guard, our visitation had ended and they put covers over our eyes and we returned to the dark room void of any natural sunlight.

I started praying for my family. My dear Naghmeh. You are the love of my life. I am always in love with you.

–Pastor Saeed Abedeni, writing a letter on scraps of newspaper to his wife after beatings and torture and weeks in solitary confinement in Evin Prison, one of the worst prisons in Iran

Sign the petition.  But don’t stop there.

Start praying.

Day 23: “Free the Captives”

You will free the captives from prison, releasing those who sit in dark dungeons. (prophecy about Jesus, Isaiah 42:7b, NLT)

When you think of this verse, who comes to mind, the guilty or the innocent?

If you’re like me, the innocent come to mind.  I picture a prisoner of war, a victim taken hostage, a good citizen locked inside a cell.

Actually, I doubt that is what God had in mind here.

The Bible is clear.  Although any of us can be treated unjustly and be innocent in regards to a particular crime, all of us have sold ourselves into the bondage of sin and none of us are innocent in nature.

We have stigmas about certain kinds of crimes that lead to prison time here on earth, but the truth is, all crimes lead to prison in eternity.  We are likely to judge a rapist or murderer guilty to rot in prison, but we usually don’t think about how our sins that are very grave to God will one day be judged, too.  It won’t only be rapists and murderers who go to Hell.  It will be liars, adulterers, gossipers, hypocrites, cowards–anyone who places anything above (of greater importance) than the living GOD.

Those kind of words cause me to shift uncomfortably in my shoes.  I have a clean criminal record, and I’ve never even gotten a speeding ticket.  But does that mean I’m clean in God’s eyes?

How many lies have I told in my life?  Honestly, at least hundreds of thousands.  As Ray Comfort points out in his ministry, what do you call someone who tells lies?  A liarAnd where, according to God, do liars go?

I don’t get to have a party on judgment day because I’ve never murdered anybody.  That isn’t how it works.  Not every sin has the same severity of consequence, in this life or before God, but every sin is just as damning.

It would be like this.  Suppose I go to a professor, and ask, “What grade do I have to have to pass this class?” and my professor says, “100%.”

When I take a test, I get a 99%.  Am I going to pass the class?

Am I?  No.  Why not?  Because I didn’t get 100%.  It would be better to get 99% than 23%, but, either way, I did not pass the test.

Of course, none of us are remotely close to getting 99%.  From the way the Bible describes us, and the way I know I am, I think we’d all fall under 1%.  In the sense that God is fair in how He judges each crime, it is better to sin less.  But in the sense that even one sin damns us to Hell, it is completely irrelevant for me to spend my time judging those who I feel are greater sinners than me, seeing as how I am going to the same place as they are if I have to rely on my rap sheet.

A lot of people get mad that God won’t accept their, well, what they would probably call 95% or maybe C+.  But that’s all wrong.  That’s based on an idea about this life that’s faulty.  These people see it like this: I got an 89% in college biology, but I’m doing just fine in life without the 11% of information I didn’t know.  And, I had a professor who was nice to me and inflated my 89% to an A.

Okay, that’s great for me with biology.  But what if I’m your brain surgeon?  I walk in with my white coat and say, “Now don’t worry about a thing.  I know 89% of what I’m supposed to do when I operate on your brain.”

HUH?  You’d probably shove me out of the way to get out the door and maybe run screaming from the hospital.  Knowing 89% of how to operate on a brain is not enough to perform brain surgery–not on my brain!

What we do in this life has eternal consequence, because we are eternal beings, made in the image of God.  What we do to other humans–who are also made in the image of God–has forever consequence.  In what we do, we set a chain of events in motion that we cannot stop by any amount of effort.  Look at the chain of events Adam and Eve set in motion when they sinned against God.  Look at all the evil they birthed into the world because of that first single sin.

And we are no different.  When we violate each other by sinning against each other, no matter how small, we commit a crime of immeasurable proportions.

Discovering this truth has to be the most terrifying thing that can happen in this life.  But discovering it in this life can keep you from discovering it in eternity.  The only way any of us have a clean rap sheet, the only way any of us don’t tremble into pieces when we see our sin, the only way any of us have a hope on the day of Justice, is if Jesus Christ served our sentence for us.

If we have called on Jesus to love us and forgive us, if we trust Him to have served our sentence and wiped away our criminal record in His suffering on the cross, then we don’t have to be afraid of the Judge anymore.  He becomes our Father, our King, our beloved God who we get to love and, better yet, who loves us, for all eternity.

For us who believe in Jesus and have experienced the freedom of an open cell door, an erased rap sheet . . we have the knowledge possible to have the humility that is honest about us.  We know who we are.  And we know we’re not any more worthy to walk free on the streets than the worst criminal in prison.  We’re just as eternally guilty as them without Jesus Christ.  And that is how we can have compassion on the worst people in the world.

That segways into our mission for the day: Chuck Colson’s prison ministry.  It took a long time to get to this one, but I want us to be in the right framework before we think about this mission because we’re prone to forget the knowledge of our sin and the humility of receiving salvation that’s totally on Christ’s shoulders when we look at the knowledge of the sin of someone else, say, a convict.

Like David Berkowitz[1,2].  David is known for his insane serial killings but since 1987, he has been known for something else, too: his conversion.

A prisoner shared his faith with him, day after day.  One day, when reading Psalm 34:6, he gave his life to Jesus Christ.

This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him and saved him out of all his troubles. (Psalm 34:6)

Since then, David has shared his testimony with Christians worldwide.  (A group of Christians have a website for him, since he cannot access the computer.)  He has written his testimony in Son of Hope: The Prison Journals of David Berkowitz (2006) and a video testimony in Son of Hope (1998).  He does not get any money from his book or video.  Furthermore, when a lawyer put some of his letters and photographs in a book without his permission, he sued with the condition that he would drop charges if the lawyer donated the proceeds to the victims’ families.

Every time David has been up for parole (in New York it is mandatory every two years), and he has had the opportunity to testify for himself because of his good behavior, he has asked to not be released from prison.  At one time, he said, “In all honesty, I believe that I deserve to be in prison for the rest of my life. I have, with God’s help, long ago come to terms with my situation and I have accepted my punishment.”

The lost world can pick and choose who to help and forgive, but as believers, we cannot.  Christ Jesus has forgiven us of everything, and we cannot turn around and refuse to share His saving grace or forgiveness with anyone.

God sent a fellow prisoner to David Berkowitz to bring him to the foot of the cross.  I don’t know how that prisoner became a believer, but he gave David a Gideon Bible, so he had been ministered to by a believer outside the prison walls at some point, either indirectly (if the Bible was given to him by another prisoner) or directly.

Chuck Colson’s Prison Ministry is a mission to reach prisoners, directly (through outside missionaries) and indirectly (through prisoners who become believers through the work of missionaries).

Share the love of Jesus Christ with prisoners through

You will free the captives from prison, releasing those who sit in dark dungeons. (Prophesy about Jesus, Isaiah 42:7b)

If you are a believer, Jesus has freed you from the captivity of prison.  He has released you from sitting in a dark dungeon.

Please share that freedom and release with other prisoners.

“I was in prison, and you visited me.” (King Jesus Christ, quoted in Matthew 25:36, NLT)

Mission Credibility: Prison Fellowship Ministries (Chuck Colson’s Prison Ministry) is a member of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA), is an approved Better Business Bureau charity, and is a member of Guidestar.  It is also an approved charity of the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC #11272).  Prison Fellowship® is a 501(c)(3) organization, gifts to which may be deductible as charitable contributions for federal income tax purposes.

[1] David Berkowitz, Wikipedia,, accessed 3/23/2013, with its credited sources, was used for the information about his life

[2] David Berkowitz’s testimony was used regarding his conversion

For more information about David’s conversion, visit

See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.

Day 22: Show extravagant love

In Sandra Boynton’s book Consider Love, “love extravagant” is pictured by an elephant who has uprooted an apple tree to present to his girlfriend as a bouquet.

Extravagant love capsizes distraction.

It’s hard to pay attention to your own fears, faults, and problems when extravagant love comes your way.

Extravagant love captivates us.  We must either mock it or downplay it or be changed by it, but we cannot pretend it is not there.

Extravagant love is the love that sculpts dust and breathes life into it.  It’s the love that splits a sea open to save slaves.  It’s the love that closes lions’ mouths and opens the mouths of those who have no voice.  It’s the love that keeps stones as stones in a time of personal starvation but multiplies loaf after loaf when a crowd is hungry after missing a few meals.  It’s the love that starts a dead heart beating and raises a dead sinner to a breathing holiness.

It’s the love that carries the earth around the sun . . tilts sky light to reveal rainbows . . holds the earth and does not let it move into the night . . handpicks a star for a birth announcement.  Love that will one day come in a cloud from Heaven to the delight of all who have believed and followed.

If we have believed in Jesus and follow Him, the next question is, how do we react to extravagant love?

We know we can’t repay God, but there is something we can do for God: give extravagant love to others.

We show we believe in Christ when we give away extravagant love.

Today’s mission is a little different than ones I’ve done.  It’s the extravagant love mission.  It’s the tunnel that missions should go through.

A friend I had as a teenager knew how to give extravagant love.  One time her church asked for money for missions and she felt called to give.  She didn’t have much or any money in her pockets, so she put a ring she was wearing in the offering plate.

Another friend took the time to talk to me every morning on my way to work when I was trapped in a slump of panic and fear.

Extravagant love isn’t money.  It’s giving.  It could result in giving money, but that’s not what extravagant love is.  Extravagant love is giving something unexpected.  Extravagant love is over-the-top, personally costly, and always in our case (as sinners) undeserved.

Because it is these things, the giver of extravagant love could be accused of lunacy for giving it, by onlookers and even the recipient.  So extravagant love is risky.  Extravagant love can mean joy and closeness, but it can also mean humiliation and suffering.  But extravagant love takes that risk.

It’s the love that goes to a graveyard to rescue an escaped criminal who cuts himself with stones and has a legion of demons inside him.

If I was with somebody, and I said, “Where do you want to go tonight?  Bowling?  Ice skating?  Just out for a drive?”

And they said, “No, I want to go save an escaped criminal who cuts himself with stones and has a legion of demons inside him”, I’d be looking for the fastest way to say goodbye.

But God didn’t.  Because God’s love is extravagant.

This month, this week, this day, this hour, pray for God to bring people to you who you can give a taste of extravagant love.  Give it in the Name of Jesus Christ, the most extravagant giver of all.

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. (1 John 3:16, NIV)

Day 21: Visit a Dying Friend

The heart of today’s mission is a difficult one . . and one I never would have really thought about until my father was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

But first, from a point of humility, I have never been faithful to visit sick or terminally ill friends.  It is probably one of the hardest ministries to do, at least for me, and I would guess for others, too, by the scarcity of friends who regularly stopped by my father’s house when he was dying.

One of the biggest regrets I have in life is not visiting a friend I had in college as he was dying of a rare muscular disease.  It wasn’t that I actively chose not to see him.  It was that I simply never fought to.  I think you have to fight to see someone whose dying.  You have to put to death something inside yourself that is very strong that demands that you stay around the living.  It is a very deep part of my sin nature.  It clings to me and its fingers promise life if I will but stay away from the dead.

Sin has brought into this world death, and with death, fear.  We are afraid to die.  If we know Jesus, we no longer have to be afraid to die, because we are a part of His forever family and He will bring us safely from the physical realm in which we live now to the spiritual realm where He dwells.

But can I confess something to you?  I am still at times afraid of dying.  And I don’t want to be around dying people, who remind me that death is real.

Yet one of the things that most drove me away from Christianity (or at least that I used as an excuse) was the number of friends my father had made, even mentored, who visited maybe once, maybe on the day he died, maybe not at all.  When I thought about it, I bubbled wrath from the inside out, nearly foaming at the mouth with rage, for far too long after his death.

But the reality is, I have been that very person.  I failed to see my friend James even once when he was dying.  I never saw him in the hospital.  I never told him how marvelous I really thought he was.

A few days before he died, he wrote me an email.  I remember that he said “heart weak”.

Somehow I thought that if I stayed away, I wouldn’t have to hurt.  I wouldn’t have to live in a world where people die and, most importantly to me then, I wouldn’t get a disease and die.

But now that I am a Christian, I see the real.  The real is, there is hurt everywhere.  If you love anyone, you risk losing them.  It doesn’t have to be to a terminal illness.  People die every day without any warning.

I’m not sure you can love without risking.  I know that God certainly doesn’t.  If He did, He would have given up on us when we chose sin over Him in the Garden of Eden.

Families dealing with a terminally ill grandparent, parent, or child don’t want you to disappear from the face of the earth in their time of need.  Instead, we long for help.  We might not be able to tell you what kind of help we want–the idea of even thinking about what kind of help would be useful can be overwhelming to a burdened and/or fatigued brain.  But that doesn’t mean we don’t want help.  It means you might have to guess what help we need and give it.

Branded on my mind is a friend of my father’s who visited him every single week.  He came and talked to him, listened to him, sat with him.  The friend who came had been a coworker with my father a few years before, but lost most contact so far as I knew once he took a new job.  I still don’t know how he found out that my dad was sick.  All I know is, he showed up one week, and he didn’t stop showing up until my father died.  Every week, there was Dan, at our front door, ready to be there for my dad.

It wasn’t any easy thing Dan had to do.  My father couldn’t talk intelligibly for several weeks before his death, but he thought he could.  He had a scary slur to his voice, and he looked ghastly because he’d lost so much weight.  It wasn’t easy to listen to him talk, or to try to understand what he was saying, or pretend you did.  Communication went into a black hole with my father and, though he tried to gesture to explain, often it was hopeless to know what he was saying.  On top of this, for several months before his death, he had an onset of serious dementia, and he was unrecognizable to who he had been.  He had the mind of a child most of the time.  And on top of this, when he drank his meals he would choke and sneeze the liquid meal replacement fluid across the table and sometimes beyond.  It was a heart-breaking thing to watch.

I have no idea how lonely it must have been for my father.  Just like I wasn’t there for James, I wasn’t there for my father, either.  It was so hard for me to connect, and I didn’t have the love of God in me.  I was swallowed whole by fear and escapism.

But Dan was there.  He came every week; talked to my father, listened to him, sat with him.

It’s a lot easier, at least for me, to give money to people who help those in need rather than to help those in need myself.  That absolutely does not mean it’s not important to give.  Paul taught that we can participate in the mission work of other believers by our giving.

But giving is not all God’s expecting of you if you know Him.  Jesus did not give His money to us and then go back into Heaven.  He personally lived among us, and He died for us.  It was His blood, His sweat, and His tears at Calvary.

Visiting a dying friend is a hard ministry.  But it’s one I want to have in my life.  Jesus didn’t reject me when I cost Him everything He had.  Why do I think I can reject a friend or family member in need when visiting them costs me a bit of what I have?

We don’t want to visit people who are dying because it causes us–I think it forces us–to reflect on our fragility and mortality.  No one wants to believe they could be the cancer patient who’s vomiting and vomiting from chemotherapy.  No one wants to believe they could be the old man who’s forget his name and how to button his pants.  No one wants to believe they could be the twenty-year-old staggering from a muscular disease.

But we all could be.  And whether we visit or not doesn’t change that reality.  What does change is our status in Heaven.  On earth, you can be famous for shooting a basketball, making it on the Forbes list, or starring in a movie.  But in Heaven, people will be famous for how many times they visited Jesus.

The one who the angels ask for autographs will be the one who visited their Jesus.

“Whoa!  You got to see Jesus how many times in the hospital?” they’ll say.

Or, “Aren’t you the one who went to see Jesus every week when He was in that nursing home?”

Or, “I know you!  You’re the one who brought Jesus flowers.”

Or, “Hey!  Aren’t you the Christian who went to see Jesus in that cancer center when no one else did?”

But that won’t be anything like when your friend starts coming towards you, bringing Jesus Himself to meet you.

Visit a dying friend.

“I was sick, and you visited Me”

(Jesus, quoted in Matthew 25:36b, NASB)

“Holding out for a Hero”

I used to think Bonnie Tyler had it just about exactly right.

In fact, for my first anything-like-serious boyfriend, I played this song for him,

Where have all the good men gone
And where are all the gods?
Where’s the street-wise Hercules
To fight the rising odds?
Isn’t there a white knight upon a fiery steed? . .

I need a hero
I’m holding out for a hero ’til the end of the night
He’s gotta be strong
And he’s gotta be fast
And he’s gotta be fresh from the fight . .
He’s gotta be sure
And it’s gotta be soon
And he’s gotta be larger than life . .

Somewhere just beyond my reach
There’s someone reaching back for me
Racing on the thunder . .
It’s gonna take a superman to sweep me off my feet

Up where the mountains meet the heavens above
Out where the lightning splits the sea
I would swear that there’s someone somewhere
Watching me

Through the wind and the chill and the rain
And the storm and the flood
I can feel his approach . .

There is something about this song that nearly every girl would react to.  Whether in scorn or applause, we do seem to hold to the idea Bonnie captured in her song, even if only until our dreams are shattered or twisted.

We need a hero.  We want a man who can come through for us, who gives everything he has to find us, who pursues us to the highest tower or the darkest dungeon, who rescues us from the shame and fear and even boredom of our lives, who rides off with us in the sunset.

Now just about every girl I know has figured out they haven’t found that man.

They might be married, they might be divorced, they might be single, they might be widowed, or they might be living with someone, but whoever they are, wherever they are, unless they are in the delusional first dip of falling-in-love, they know they have not found that man.

What happens after that is a sorry story.  It’s called a lonely life, and it’s the fate of every woman holding out for the hero she cannot find.

Every girl I know has had it at some point: the dream of walking down the aisle with the man of her dreams who will protect her, care for her, sacrifice for her, and most of all be totally and utterly devoted to her from everlasting to everlasting.

Do you see a problem here?

Really, there’s two, and both are explained in Genesis 3:16b,

“Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” (God, Genesis 3:16b, NIV)

The two problems

  • We want to find a god of a man.
  • We want to be a goddess of a woman.

We are looking for a lover who can be our god.  Look back at Bonnie Tyler’s song.  Do you see what her first words are?

Where have all the good men gone
And where are all the gods?

How interesting.  Where are all the gods?  Where are all the gods?

It seems to me that many of us girls fall in love, sleep with someone, do terribly degrading things with our bodies, and/or marry because we are looking for our god.  Where is our god?  The question is all around us.  Where is our god? 

In America, there is a popular answer to that question: nowhere.  Although many women every day still believe the reality that they have found their god–and many of them do wretchedly humiliating things in their worship of this god–probably even more women realize on that day that they have not found their god . .and resent that they are not being treated as the goddess they had in mind.

And we’ve switched to the second part of what we really want as girls, to be a goddess.

Did Eve desire Adam because she wanted him to be her god or because she wanted to be the goddess over him, or both?  I don’t know.  But I do know that, ever since Eve misguided her husband into eating sin, and her husband figuratively threw her to the dogs during his talk with God afterwards, the relationships between men and women has been a ricocheting teeter-totter of women who treat men like gods and women who treat themselves like goddesses.

We see the one clearly in women who tolerate or even encourage abuse from their husbands/lovers.  Why would any woman ever want to marry a man who beats her?  Only because she thinks of him as her god.  She wants a god to worship.  She wants a god to worship, and she wants it so much that she’s willing to give up her dignity, rights, and even well-being to stay with him.

We see the other clearly in women who thrive as regal divas with men who kiss their feet, or women who tirade as vicious slave-drivers with men who kowtow at their feet.  Why would any woman ever want to capture a husband for herself through her looks or by manipulation or force?  Only because she thinks of herself as a goddess.  She wants to be a goddess that he worships.  She wants to be a goddess that he worships, and she she wants it so much that she’s willing to give up her compassion, gentleness, and even womanhood to keep her self-proclaimed identity.

Now, it was fairly easy to write about these two stereotypes–until I start thinking about myself.  Sure, we can think of the most extreme examples of women we know who have made gods of men or turned themselves into goddesses.  But . . what about us?  What about me?  Have I ever done that?

Guilty, on both accounts.  Surely.  I have held out for that hero, for both reasons.  I have treated men like gods and I have exalted myself as a goddess.  It is so easy for me to teeter-totter to one of the two; it’s so natural.  That’s because I am Eve’s daughter.  I’ve got the same sin nature that she put on when she accepted lies as truth.

Even though I still fall into my old habits of either making gods out of men or a goddess out of myself . . something has changed for me now.  I am no longer holding out for a hero.

I’ve found mine.

No, I didn’t find a god.  I found God.

The truth is, girls, there is no man on earth who will ever meet your M.O. of what you want most.  No man can ever give you what you seek, because what you seek is a from everlasting to everlasting GOD, and there is only one God, and He does not share His Godhood with men.

However . .

One Person of God did become Man.  He “became flesh and dwelt among us” (from John 1:14, ESV).  He came not to make men gods or women goddesses, but to save us from the sin that has resulted from us wanting these things.

Eve wanted to be like God, and found that, in the process of trying to become Him (which is how Satan fell, and the same way he incited Eve to sin), she became like Satan.  In the very act of trying to become a goddess, she became a sataness–not what she had planned.  Even as she cut herself off from God, she cut herself off from Adam–from his respect for her, his love for her, and his loyalty to her.  She didn’t realize what she was doing.

If things had stayed right there, it would have been unbearably grim for us girls.  We would have had no one–no God and no man to love us.  Eve didn’t realize that Adam couldn’t love her without borrowing from the love of God and that, when he cut himself off from the love of God by his sin, he cut himself off from his love for her, too.

But, thank God, He did not leave the story there.  Eve didn’t die without her husband, or without God.  God reconciled her to her husband by promising that a Deliverer would come from her offspring.  The only way that promise could have been brought about was if Adam slept with Eve.  Did you ever realize that God chose Jesus to come to earth in the one, exact way that would only be fulfilled if Adam took Eve back as his lover, even after she had misguided him?  What an incredible, astonishing, delightful grace from God!

Had Jesus come down as a full-grown Man from the clouds of Heaven–which He could have certainly done–or had He simply appeared one day walking the earth–which He could have certainly done, too–Eve would have never had the opportunity to be reconciled to Adam.

Although we, like Bonnie Tyler in her song, often think of the reconciliation of ourselves to a man as our deepest longing . . it really isn’t.

Even though God graciously gave Eve back Adam to love her, Adam was still a mess.  Adam still got crabby, still disappointed her sometimes, still left his dirty dishes in the sink for her to wash (well . . or something like that).

But even if Adam had been perfect, even if Eve had been perfect, it wouldn’t have been possible without the perfection of God.  Just like a lake can’t exist without water, in the same way love, loyalty, truth, joy, and delight (all the things that make up perfection) can’t exist without God.  Eve still needed a hero.  She still needed God back in her life.

And that was what God’s promise to her was all about.  The Deliverer would be her Hero.  A baby from her own body would one day be the great-great-great-great . . grandfather of Mary, Jesus Christ’s mother.  In a sense, the Deliverer would come from Eve.  Do you see the miraculous grace and awe-shocking beauty of Christ Jesus?  He chose to redeem Eve by coming through the womb of one of her daughters.  Miraculous.  Awe-stunning.  Grace!  Beauty!

This is the kind of thing I want to hear songs about, not about searching for men who will never be my god or about representing myself as a false goddess.  I just want to be a daughter of Jesus.  I don’t care about goddesses or gods.  Those ideas are old trash, and they should have gotten thrown-away in the wastebin of Eden after they brought Eve to the raw nakedness, aghast exposure, crushing humiliation, and horrific loneliness of sin.

I do want to say something that’s a side note, but a very important side note.

You don’t have to feel like you are giving up your little-girl dreams of romance by giving up your fantasies of finding a god to marry.  First of all, God is the source of love, and there is more than enough love to quench the longing in your heart for a god.  He is the God.  It’s the difference between trying to catch the drips of water from a broken-down faucet (looking for God in man) and white-river rafting at Niagra Falls.

God’s love is way bigger, way better, and way deeper.

Because men are made in God’s image, even in their fallen state they are able to drip love; but remember that they get those drops from the waterfall of God’s love.  He’s the source, and knowing Him really is enough.  (So there’s no misunderstanding, women are also made in the image of God, but that wasn’t part of the point I was making so I said men were.)

Giving up your idea of finding a god or becoming a goddess doesn’t mean that romance with a man is less in a Christian’s life.  Actually, romance is more.  As a Christian, I learned that I needed to shrink my idea of romance to a man-sized expectation, not a god-sized expectation.  The amazing thing about that is, when I was single and had no one, it made dating not so important, smaller . . but when I found the man I fell in love with, it made my romantic life bigger.  Way bigger.  This is because when we exalt God as God and dethrone other gods in our life, God fills us with His love.

I wouldn’t want to be single for the rest of my life, and I really never did want to be single.  But if I go to the grave having never married, my life will only be less fulfilled if I allow a man to take the place of God in my life.  Whatever God has for my life, that becomes deeper and bigger and sweeter because it’s grown in God’s garden.  He’s grown my romance for Ben deeper and bigger and sweeter because Ben is the man I’m in love with–not the god.

But if I didn’t have Ben, God would grow other loves in my life deeper and bigger and sweeter.  That doesn’t mean there’s not a grief when we’re single.  God’s plan in Eden was for every man to have a woman and every woman to have a man.  When Eve chose to become her own goddess, she never realized she was giving some of her daughters a life without an Adam of their own.

What a relief it is to know that God has worked in spite of our downfall.  And as Christians in a fallen world, we have the freedom to choose to stay single or to be married to Christians.  And what a relief to know that if we lose the man we love–through unfaithfulness or abandonment or betrayal or divorce or death or whatever may be the case–we haven’t lost our Hero.  God is still here.

So, girls, here’s my final thought.  Hold out for a hero, yes, but hold out for the real One.

“And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” (God, talking to the serpent/Satan, Genesis 3:15, NIV)

The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you. (Romans 16:20, NIV)

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.

God has now revealed to us his mysterious plan regarding Christ, a plan to fulfill his own good pleasure. And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ—everything in heaven and on earth. Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan. (Ephesians 1:3-11, NLT)

For He [GOD] rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:13-14, NASB)

Day 20: Not too far gone . . yet

I admit it: sometimes I look at the state of our nation and I feel as though it’s nearly hopeless.  Sometimes I feel like it’s Christians, 1 . . Christian-Haters, 460.  Even among “Christians”, there is a disheartening lack of focus, motivation, and even interest.  It’s as if we’ve fallen asleep and we don’t know how to wake up.

Part of the problem is that many “Christians” don’t care much what they believe, or understand it.  They simply have a vague idea that God is good, and they’d like to be on His side.  They have no transfer of this to their daily life, other than what morality they personally prefer.  If they want to gossip about a friend, watch a God-hating movie, cheat on their taxes, lord over their family, download a movie illegally, use foul language, spend their money on luxuries, watch television instead of reaching out to the hurting world, tell small lies, practice immoral sexual behavior, or engage in unholy fantasies, they’ll do it.  The connection between obeying whatever God says and being a Christian is lost.  It’s like it doesn’t even matter anymore.  I know this because I have been this kind of alleged “Christian.”  I was dead or nearly dead to what God wanted for my life.

Part of the problem is that even real Christians, who really do know Jesus, often live in such a long-distance relationship with Him that they can scarcely ever hear Him.  They act mostly as anybody else acts.  They aren’t kinder to their children, more loving to their spouse, more thoughtful to their friends, or more caring to stranger.  They rarely open God’s Word, or satisfy themselves with 5-minute devotions that might have a verse or two of Scripture thrown in, and they think about the upcoming week instead of the sermon while they’re at church.  It’s easy, so easy to backslide, especially when things are pretty good on the outside.  We live in one of the wealthiest countries in the world, and entertainment showers down on us and parades past us and even digs holes for us to fall in at nearly every angle.

Here in America, we are in desperate, horrid straits.  If it weren’t for the revelation of God in my life, I would have never seen it.  I was like many so-called “Christians” who lived with the moral commands from Scripture I wanted and without the ones I didn’t want (or didn’t even know were there because I rarely even read Scripture).

Even real Christians are often afraid to expose ourselves to God.  We are afraid of change–afraid we’ll have to do something bold like witness to a neighbor, stop badmouthing our coworkers, sell our sports car, reconcile with our children, or spend less time watching football games and more time in real war, the war of Christ vs. Satan.

I’ve heard that, as Christians, we already know God won, and that is exactly right.  We do already know that God has won the war.  The prophecy in Revelation reveals Jesus as the King, Victor, and Redeemer of all who believed in Him–and Judge of all who didn’t.

But that doesn’t mean we give up daily battles!!

If I knew the outcome of a war, and I was marching out, I wouldn’t want to stop fighting and lose the battle because I knew my side would win the war!  On the contrary, I’d have even more strength and bravery to fight!

This is exactly what happened to Joshua, Gideon, David, and others in the Old Testament.  They fought bolder because God revealed to them that they would win.

I have to wonder what is going on when we sit back in our Lazy-Boy of spirituality, fully content that we are saved, to recline and watch idly as other Christians around the world go to war for the sake of Jesus and fight for the freedom of our brothers and sisters of Adam’s race who have been captured and tortured by Satan and don’t even know they’re behind enemy lines.

Recliners and wars don’t match.  I don’t remember any scene in The Lord of the Rings where anyone sat in a recliner.

“Is that Mount Doom over there?” Frodo asks.

And Sam answers, “Why, yes, Mr. Frodo.  But look at this lovely chair Gollum made for us last night while you were asleep.  Wouldn’t you like to sit in it for a bit?  I think it’s safe.  The orcs are still pretty far away over there on that hill.”

In fact, I don’t remember any scene in any war movie where the characters asked for a time-out and sat down in a recliner to have a little nap.

We are at war, Christians.  We are at war.  Not with the people of this world, no matter how evil they might be, but with Satan and his army of demons!

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:12, NIV)

This is not something we are to take “passively”, as Tedashii says in his song Make War.

If we are not engaged in the rescue mission–then what are we doing?  How can we call ourselves Christians if we won’t follow the Christ of Christianity into war against Satan?  How?  That would be no different than if we called ourselves soldiers in the Union Army–and never went to battle in the Civil War!

Today’s mission in focus is those who make war against the enemy of this world.  Our pastors, teachers, missionaries, and apologists are out on the battle lines, and their swords are drawn.  They fight for Jesus Christ, and we should not abandon them to fight alone.  As Christians, we must raise up our swords of God’s Spirit, and we must go to war to destroy every deceitful philosophy that holds our brothers and sisters as prey to Satan’s attacks.

How can we enlist in the war?  If you know Jesus Christ–if you believe in Him as the Son of God and receive His atoning sacrifice as the payment for your wickedness–you are enlisted.  Now is the time to fight.  Here are a few suggestions for how we can go out on the battlefield instead of waiting in a recliner on the sidelines.

  • Join a small group at your church.  If you’ve already been a part of a small group, pray and ask God if He wants you to start one for unbelievers or to encourage Christians.
  • When your church has a need for a position to be filled, pray for how God would have you answer or that He would raise up someone to fill that position.
  • When mission opportunities arise from your church (like chances to give to world missions, help out at a homeless shelter, fund a school book fair, go on a mission trip, invite a friend to church, buy presents for foster children, or send out cards to visitors), pray for how God would have you answer.
  • Take initiative to support missionaries and mission projects.  Ask God to show you what He wants you to be a part of and what He wants you to donate to.
  • Study apologetics and read books from trustworthy Christian authors.  Ask God for wisdom so that you can help bring the lost to His Kingdom.
  • Most of all, read God’s Word every day.  God promises that in Jesus “are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” (from Colossians 2:3)

Apologetics resources:

Answers in Genesis, AiG

Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, RZIM

It’s time to make war–not against people, and certainly not a physical war.  It’s time to make spiritual war against Satan and his lies.

Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.

Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere. (Ephesians 6:10b-18, NLT)

Published in: on March 20, 2013 at 8:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Day 19: A home for the homeless

Who do you think of when you think of “a homeless man”?

Do you think of a man with a scruffy face, mangled hair, and a trash bag over one shoulder?  Or an old man wearing a Veteran’s cap and pushing a shopping cart?  Or a man with a flannel shirt on and a rogue dog at his side?  Or maybe a charlatan, a huckster, a con artist panhandling for money and driving home every night in his nice car?

Whatever our image of homeless men, we need to add one more to the list.


Surprising as it is–and as unflattering as it was to His credentials–Jesus was homeless.  We’d probably be embarrassed to write that on the Son of God’s resume, but Jesus didn’t hide it.  In fact, His disciples came to receive this fact about Him without embarrassment.  Two followers, Matthew and Luke, inspired by God, even wrote this fact down and generations of Christians have read it ever since.  It is the antithesis to the idea that Jesus came to bring wealth.

Now, wait a minute.  Does this mean that homelessness is holy?  No more than being a carpenter.  Jesus was both.  You can be homeless for bad reasons.  You can be a charlatan, or a drug addict, or an alcoholic, or just not want to work.  But it also means that homelessness is not a fault.  Jesus was homeless.  He chose to give up the inestimable wealth of Heaven to come to earth to be born in a feeding trough, raised in a poor family, taught in the trade of carpentry, preach for three years traveling miles and miles on dusty roads, and die on a cross in the death of utter shame.

We need to be careful about making judgments on people based on where they are at rather than the nature of their character.  Isaiah tells us that the crowds who saw Jesus on the cross presumed He was punished for His own sin.  Isaiah goes on to reveal that He was actually punished for ours.

It’s easy to think that everyone who is homeless in America is homeless by choice.  But the truth is, if we don’t know them, we don’t know why they’re homeless.  We might be judging in the way that Jesus revealed the Pharisees judge: by the way things outwardly look–rather than by the heart of the person.

With that said, even if someone is homeless by their own fault . . how does that stop me from helping them?  If I only got the help I deserved in my life . . whoa.  I’d be a goner.  It is, in fact, the times that I most mess up that I am in the most need of help!  To deny someone help because they got themselves into a mess might make sense from a worldly standpoint, but it’s outrageously hypocritical and, even more importantly, it’s against what God reveals in His Word about grace and mercy.  We are all the servant in the parable who has the opportunity to be forgiven of millions of dollars of debt.  And we all have the potential to turn right around and choke a fellow human being because they owe us a few cents.

We are called to help.  You cannot be a Christian and not be called to help.  You may not realize you are called to help, but you are definitely called to help.  The world is a mission field and if you are a Jesus-follower, God wants to send you out.  His heart and His compassion are for everyone, and we don’t have the right to “pick and choose” who we want in His Kingdom[1].

Now there are two kinds of help:

  • wise help
  • ineffectual help

Wise help seeks to bring a person the aid they need, and, if relevant, the opportunity for the change they need to make to find freedom from depending on aid.  That said, I find no reason to deny someone wise help, even if again and again they mess up.  I myself am a testament that it might take millions of times of grace before a change takes place.  Although not everyone will choose to receive grace, even if offered zillions of times, we are not God, and we don’t get to try to decide whose time “is up.”  Only God does that.

The homeless need wise help.  There are homeless men and women who are homeless because of poor choices.  They may have gone through terrible life circumstances and given up on trying.  They may have been raised in generational poverty and believe they can never break the cycle.  They may be unable to control a craving for alcohol or drugs, and they’ve driven themselves into poverty.  Even in the worst-case scenarios for why someone is homeless, they are not hopeless.  Sin may have gotten them there, but grace can get them out.

Wise help gives men and women emergency shelter, meals, and clothing; offers referral services for counseling, medical, housing, vocational opportunities, and educational classes; and shares the eternal shelter that can only be found in Jesus Christ.

Homelessness is not the greatest problem a person can have.  Not having a home in Heaven is the greatest problem a person can have.  As Christians, we should never forget to share the eternal home as we help provide temporary homes for those in need.

The local shelter in my area, Victory Mission, doesn’t receive any government funding because they are committed to sharing Jesus Christ with those they help.  They are supported totally by churches, organizations, and individuals.  Victory Mission has a number of ministries, like family ministries to help with emergency assistance and refer out for long-term assistance; a homeless shelter with life skill classes, nutritious meals, medical care, and Bible studies; a trade school; and a special program for foster children to receive emergency items when they are removed from homes.  Victory Mission also gives access to their financial records, including their audit.

Homeless shelters will be different in every area based on the needs of the homeless and the resources donated.  Visit the homeless shelter in your area to learn more about how you can help.  Would you share the love of Jesus with the homeless in honor of our Savior who was once homeless Himself?

As they were walking along, someone said to Jesus, “I will follow you wherever you go.”

But Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay his head.” (Luke 9:57-58, NLT)


[1] From the Casting Crowns song If We Are the Body