What Makes Christianity Different?

I recently attended my daughter’s graduation baccalaureate service. Students from varying religions addressed the audience to express why their faith was important to them. I found their answers quite intriguing.

“I was born a Jew.”

“My faith, Hinduism, is the oldest religion and therefore, must be true.”

“It is how I have been raised by my family.”

“My religion provides a moral compass. In other words, it is how I know the difference between bad and good.”

 Finally, a young man talked about Christianity. It varied from all the other religions because of one singular reason: JESUS. All of the other faiths spoke of their efforts to reach up to God. Only Christianity spoke of God’s effort to reach down to mankind. All of the other faiths discussed their efforts to appease their god by being a good person. Only Christianity spoke of a personal relationship with God because God chose to set His affection on us, despite our continual bad behavior. Our relationship with God is not hinged on a list of “do’s and don’ts”, but rather on admitting that we need a savior. We can never be good enough on our own merits. All of the other beliefs had much to say about their God, but only Christianity focused on Jesus and the resurrection.

Unbelievers may have a general sense of who God is…they may recognize that creation came into existence somehow or by someone…they may even acknowledge there is a God. Remember, even the demons believed in God. Listen to James 2:19 (NIV), “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that–and shudder.” However, they do not have Jesus. And since they do not have Jesus, their prayers are like flare guns being shot aimlessly into the dark.

As believers, we are promised a mediator, whose name is Jesus. On our own merit, we are not better than an unbeliever. We are not smarter. We didn’t come to the conclusion that God exists on our own. No…we all are sinners according to Romans 3:23. We all deserve to die (Rom 6:23). We all are broken. And God is a holy God and cannot bear to be in the presence of sin. It is only because of Jesus that we have an advantage. It is only because of the work that Jesus did on our behalf on the cross. It is only because God has chosen us. Without Jesus, we are nothing.

1 Timothy 2:5, “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”

Because of what has been afforded to us, it only makes sense that we would want to know God.

“Knowing about God is crucially important for the living of our lives. As it would be cruel to an Amazonian tribesmen to fly him to London, put him down without explanation in Trafalgar Square and leave him, as one who knew nothing of English or England, to fend for himself, so we are cruel to ourselves if we try to live in this world without knowing about the God whose world it is and who runs it. The world becomes a strange, mad, painful place, and life in it a disappointing and unpleasant business, for those who do not know about God. Disregard the study of God, and you sentence yourself to stumble and blunder through life blindfold, as it were, with no sense of direction, and no understanding of what surrounds you. This way you can waste your life and lose your soul.” J.I. Packer, author of Knowing God

We pray so that we can know God more. Prayer, in its fullest sense, is our pursuit to know God. It is an ongoing, continual conversation with Him that begins in His Word and pours out into the fabric of our daily lives. Into our struggles. Our celebrations. Our encounters with the glory of God.

Have you forgotten about the privilege of knowing God? Are you overly focused on being good enough? To measure up? Remind yourself today that God’s grace is sufficient for you. He is most after relationship.

Sue Allen

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Faith and Obedience Must go Hand in Hand

We pray because prayer changes us.

I grew up in a home where we practiced prayer. I can recall visiting my grandparents and reciting this prayer, “Come Lord Jesus, be our Guest. And let this food to us be blessed. Amen.” It was what we did. It was our family ritual. We said grace before our meals and before our bedtime.

However, I believe there is much more to prayer than what is sandwiched between “Dear God” and “Amen.” Over the years I have discovered that prayer is much more than making a list of demands to get what I want. It is much more than a therapy session. It is much more than asking God to perform, and then feeling disappointed when He doesn’t answer. I’ve learned over the years that there is more to prayer.

Prayer is not to get what I want out of God, prayer is to get what God wants inside of me.

Broadly speaking, prayer is “asking God to be glorified in the midst of our needs.” In the midst of our sin. In the midst of our difficult circumstances. In the midst of our good things; the things we are thankful for.

Prayer is opening up our lives to complete, utter dependence on an invisible God, acknowledging who He is and what He has done.

It is not limited to Sundays or a certain day of the week. It is not restricted to a schedule or timeline. It is not exclusive for pastors or elders. It is not limited to a memorized list of words.

Prayer is an act of surrendering our lives to God and being present to do His will. Anywhere. Any time. I’ve heard prayer described as “spoken faith.” It takes faith to pray. Otherwise, we are simply saying words blindly in the dark. We become no different than those who hopefully wish things will go their way. Without faith, we are no different than those who believe in the stars or good luck charms or genies in a bottle. Faith is what makes our prayers different from the prayers of other religions or do-gooders.  According to Mark 11:22, we have faith in God. God is the focal point of prayer. We pray so our will WILL align with God, our Heavenly Father. Faith is an essential ingredient. Hebrews 11:1 says, “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see” (NLT).

It is faith that propels our prayers.

Our faith grows as we begin to experience God. When we hear God speak, our faith takes root. Romans 10:17 reminds us, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” But it doesn’t stop here…there is more to it than simply hearing the Word of God. There is a required response on our part. We must obey. Obedience is “faith in action.”

Hebrews 11:8 says, “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.” What did Abraham do by faith? He obeyed. And we too must obey. We pray. We listen. We obey.

Why is prayer so necessary? Because the act of surrendering to God does not come easily or readily. Our flesh fights the will of God. We do not want to admit that we are broken, messy, needy people. There is a war raging inside of us bellowing loudly, “I’m good. I can figure life out on my own. I don’t need God.”

But it is through prayer that God is reproducing His heart in us. It is through prayer that we come to a deeper, richer understanding of who God is. It is through prayer we realize that our dependence is on God and God alone.

We pray because prayer changes us.

Sue Allen

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How to Make Others Better

others

“Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.” Philippians 2:3

We speak a lot about leadership. Being strong leaders, focused leaders, and growing as a leader.

But how do we make others better when we aren’t leading? Do we lead from behind?

During the Second Great Awakening in America, Charles Finney was in the forefront among the great evangelists. God was using him to change the culture of the church. He began what we call modern day evangelism.

Many people know him.

However, few know the name, Daniel Nash.

Daniel Nash was born in 1775 at an unknown place in the USA. No one knows what happened in his life before he was 40.

What we do know about him is at the age of 40 he became the pastor of a Presbyterian church in upper New York State. During his first year there, around 70 people were saved in something of a mini-revival.

But he withdrew after being voted out of the church. The rejection from those he loved wounded him deeply. Also, as a result of a serious eye infection, he spent several weeks in a dark room where he could not read or write.

The broken preacher began to pray earnestly, and so began one of the greatest prayer evangelism ministries ever.

Nash, at the age of 48, dedicated his life to prayer. Long before Finney would arrive in a town, Nash would be there in an empty cellar or boarding house room praying for the power of God to enter the city.

Finney told this story: “When I got to town to start a revival, a lady contacted me who ran a boarding house.”

The lady said, “Brother Finney, do you know a Father Nash? He and two other men have been at my boarding house for the last three days, but they haven’t eaten a bite of food.”

She continued,“I opened the door and peeped in at them because I could hear them groaning, and I saw them down on their faces. They have been this way for three days, lying prostrate on the floor and groaning. I thought something awful must have happened to them. I was afraid to go in and I didn’t know what to do. Would you please come see about them?”

“No, it isn’t necessary,” Finney replied. “They just have a spirit of travail in prayer.”

Finney knew that God sent Nash to help make him a better preacher. Finney said this about Nash, “He concentrated entirely on praying for people who were so hard that they could not be reached in any other way.”

Nash is a mighty example of how God changed a man’s circumstance to make someone else better. We don’t talk about that much, but how many of us have had people who have strengthened our faith?

Being fired as a pastor isn’t what preachers aspire to. It is even viewed as negative on our resume. But God has a way of taking our worse tragedy and changing it to a mighty triumph.

Within four months of Nash’s death, Finney left evangelism for the pastorate. The great prayer warrior of his crusades was gone.

If you want to see the grave of Daniel Nash, you have to drive to upper New York, almost to the Canadian border. There, in a neglected cemetery along a dirt road, you will find a tombstone that says it all:

DANIEL NASH
Laborer with Finney
MIGHTY IN PRAYER

Pastor Rodney

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The Children of God

As children of God it is our duty to listen to His guidance. We should pray without ceasing, be silent and listen for an answer. He will work through us if we allow it to happen.

28 And now, little children, abide in Him,

that when He appears, we may have confidence

and not be ashamed before Him at His coming.

 29 If you know that He is righteous, you know

that everyone who practices righteousness is born of Him.

Through His death on the cross we are all forgiven, for all of our sins. We are now righteous, clean, and can come to the Father. This is a gift we are all given. We just have to open our hearts and minds and yes to this wonderful gift of salvation.

3 Behold what manner of love the Father

has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!

Therefore the world does not know us, because it did

not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God;

and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be,

but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him,

 for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who

has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. 

1 John 2:28-3:10

 

When God created Adam and Eve He wanted all of the people of earth to be His children. With their sin Adam and Eve’s eyes were opened to right and wrong. They had the freedom of choice. Since they disobeyed God and ate from the tree of knowledge they had to leave the Garden of Eden. They had to work hard for everything that they needed.

So, now all of the people that have been born after them have been given free choice. Sometimes we listen for directions from God and make good choices, and there are times we just do what we want. At those times we have to pay the consequences if we make a bad choice.

As children of God it is our duty to listen to His guidance. We should pray without ceasing, and be silent and listen for an answer. He will work through us if we allow it to happen.

There are different types of prayers  for different situations, below are just a few suggestions.

  • Prayers to say for guidance: While driving, ask which direction to go. I once avoided a possible accident, because I listened and went a different direction.
  •  Praying for the sick: I once prayed and anointed a little girl with oil. The doctors were having trouble diagnosing what was wrong. I could feel the love, warmth, and peace of God as I prayed. A few days later she was out of the hospital and healed through God’s love.
  • Praying for your enemies: Years ago I prayed for my ex-sister-in-law to be happy. She was bitter over the divorce and wouldn’t let us see our niece. Once she was at peace we were able to see our niece and things went well.
  • Praying for our children: When I wake up and when I go to bed I pray for our daughters, their husbands, and our grandchildren by name.
  • Praying for others: Anytime someone’s name comes to mind I pray for them. God knows what is going on and what they need.

 

This is a partial list of prayers you can pray. Please leave a comment on our Facebook page of other prayers you pray.

Jann Martin

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Why Is Confession Important?

Why Is Confession Important?

Elijah was human, just like us. He ate food. He worked. He bathed. He did chores. He had responsibilities, and emotional highs and lows. He sinned. He wasn’t perfect. He was made of skin and bones, having a nature like us. Yet, he was a man who sought after God.

“Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.” James 5:17-18

The reason James mentions the name of Elijah is not so we can elevate Elijah to some supreme, super hip, ultra status. Elijah is mentioned to remind us that he was human too. And he prayed fervently. And God heard and answered his prayers.

How would you describe you current prayer life? Any chance the word fervent comes to mind?

Mr. Webster defines the word fervent as “having or displaying a passionate intensity.” In other words, it is something that I am serious about. It is something that in my heartest of hearts, I deeply desire.

That is much easier said than done.

I may want to be a girl who prays fervent prayers,

But there is a wrestling match going on in my head.

Even though I want my focus to be on Jesus, there are thoughts racing through my mind. Chores to be done. Errands to run. Kids to be fed and hurried out the door. And anxious thoughts twirling all about. If I’m going to be a girl who is serious about prayer, then I need to be radically changed.

What if we start here…admitting that we need God’s help? Telling God that we are desperate for Him.

In Jesus’ very first sermon, he reminds us, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3). It is actually a blessing to be dependent on God. When we change our perspective and see God as our source, we suddenly realize the necessity of prayer. When we see that we are nothing without Him, our eyes are opened to our great need.

We all fall short. We all sin. Unbelief comes knocking at our door. At its core, every sin reveals something that we do not wholeheartedly believe about God. And despite our shortcomings, we serve a gracious God with a bold promise. “Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed” (James 5:16a).

Confess your sins.

Pray for one another.

You will be healed.

We are ordinary people who serve an extraordinary God. May He be the focal point of our prayers. May we see confession as a priority in order to get over our ultra ego…and to realign our focus on God. More often than not, the problem is not that we think too little of ourselves, the problem is that we think too much.

“The thing we would remember from meeting a truly gospel-humble person is how much they seemed to be totally interested in us. Because the essence of gospel-humility is not thinking more of myself or thinking less of myself, it is thinking of myself less.”
― Timothy J. KellerThe Freedom of Self Forgetfulness

Confession is a necessity because it helps us see our great need for God. Without needs in our lives, we would become self-sufficient, ignoring our need for a Savior. God has provided needs in our lives as entry points into our lives. Go ahead…admit that you need help.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

How has confession been good for you? What sin has it revealed? How has it drawn you closer to God?

Sue Allen

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How to Overcome a Mediocre Prayer Life

How to Overcome a Mediocre Prayer Life

As believers, it is easy for us to fall into the trap of mediocrity. To think of prayer as a spiritual discipline “I have to do.” Prayer can become monotonous, routine, boring, crusty, and old. It can become a chore. And when we find ourselves in this stuck place, we must renew our perspective on prayer.

Prayer is a privilege, not a tedious task or mind-numbing inconvenience. We have the honor of being called into a relationship with God Himself, made available to us by the tremendous sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. We have the joy of getting to know God personally. As we read His Word, we have the opportunity to respond. When He speaks, we can experience Him more.

In its simplest form, prayer is a conversation with God. We must remember that God was the initiator of this conversation. It is God who spoke the world into existence (Gen. 1:3). It is God who chose you before the world began (Eph. 1:4). It is God who gave us His son, Jesus (Jn. 3:16). And it is God who causes us to be born again (1 Peter 1:3).

“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to eternal glory in Christ, will himself RESTORE, CONFIRM, STRENGTHEN, AND ESTABLISH YOU.” 1 Peter 5:10

This is a direct and personal promise of God and it is about time for some of us to believe it! We serve a God who bestows unceasing grace upon our lives. He covers our lives with unmerited favor through people and circumstances. He blesses us with daily bread. In good times and bad. In sickness and health. Till death do us part.

God is our Creator, Sustainer, Provider, Rescuer, Eternal Father, Author, and Finisher of our Faith, and much, much more. He is worthy of our praise. He is worthy of honor. It is God who has first called us into relationship, and it is this same God who wants to hear from you. Let that sink in for a minute. Yes…God wants to hear from you!

Prayer starts with the revelation of adoption. Before the foundation of the world, God determined to set you apart and call you His own. Ephesians 1:5 says, “He [God] predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will.” It is life changing to understand the privilege we have been afforded. We are able to call the One who holds the sun and the moon and the stars and the planets in orbit…we are able to call Him “Daddy.” We are able to crawl up into his lap and just be ourselves.

The veil has been torn. We have access to our heavenly Father.

The benefits of being a child of God are unimaginable. You are a child of God! As part of the family, He has given you access. You no longer are treated like the rest of the world. Instead of being viewed as a sinner, your slate has been wiped clean. Because of the work of Jesus on the cross, you have a secure future and eternal hope. No longer do we need to walk in the ways of this world, but rather we can “walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called” (Eph. 4:1).

It is amazing grace that has saved us. We once were lost and now we’re found. We’re blind, but now we see. God, who is righteous and holy, desires to have a relationship with wretched sinners like you and me. When we have a proper view of who God is and who we really are—we become overwhelmed by our standing.

He is your Daddy.

You are a child of God.

“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.” 1 John 3:1

In this verse, John commands us to “See” the kind of love the Father has given us. We are being called into a deep, rich, never-ending, unfathomable kind of relationship, and to experience Him for ourselves. Allow God’s amazing grace to resonate within you. Ask God to open your eyes to let you see.

Sue Allen

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Heads or Tails

Heads or Tails

When you flip a coin and call heads or tails, one is just as good as the other depending on which one you called. In life, however, we want to be heads, not tails. We all like to think of ourselves as successful, but let’s face it, there are times when we think we landed on tails one too many times. So, what is the key to flipping that coin and landing on heads?

First of all we need to define success the right way, God’s way. Ephesians 2:10 tells us that we were created to do good works that God prepared in advance for us to do. If we keep our eyes on what we are we were created to do, we won’t have much time for comparing ourselves to others. Success God’s way is using the gifts that he has given us to do kingdom work. Even if our job is in the secular world, there is still kingdom work to be done.

After we have found our place, we can then apply several basic biblical principles to our work that will point us to success.

  • Always keep God first. “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33)
  • Don’t be lazy. “Lazy hands make for poverty, but diligent hands bring wealth.” (Proverbs 10:4)
  • Be honest. “The Lord detests dishonest scales, but accurate weights find favor with him.” (Proverbs 11:1)
  • Listen to good advice. “The way of fools seems right to them,but the wise listen to advice.” (Proverbs 12:15)
  • Use your money to honor God. “Honor the LORD with your wealth and with the best part of everything you produce.” (Proverbs 3:9)
  • Learn to balance work and rest. “In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat for he grants sleep to those he loves.” (Psalm 127:2)

One final important step to being successful is prayer. God cares about every aspect of our lives. He wants us to given him our jobs and tasks. He wants to bless us with success his way, but sometimes he is waiting for us to ask. I want to leave you with some scripture prayers to pray over your work.”

“Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory.” (1 Chronicals 4:10)

“May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us yes, establish the work of our hands.” (Psalm 90:17)

“The Lord will make you the head, not the tail. If you pay attention to the commands of the Lord your God that I give you this day and carefully follow them, you will always be at the top, never at the bottom.” (Deuteronomy 28:13-14)

Sue Potts

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3 Areas of Repentance We All Need

Repentance

“Let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel. I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s family, have committed against you.” Nehemiah 1:6

When Nehemiah got the news that the walls of Jerusalem were torn down his heart broke. His people and his nation were in disarray. Despair drove him to prayer.

Ever been there?

Nehemiah repented for sin which WE committed. He took responsibility for himself, his family, and his people. He says he is praying day and night, he’s earnestly pleading with God to forgive our sin. He lists the three areas all of us should confess as sin before God.

1)Public Repentanceconfess the sins of the children of Israel. He says, “we have sinned against you.”  Father forgive us in America we have forgotten you—we have pushed you out and made idols of money, power, and fame. We worship, worship. We worship us.

2)Personal Repentance—Father “I have sinned.” Personal repentance. What have we placed before Jesus in our lives? Besides work and family, what takes up most of our time? Is that thing an idol? Are we truly repenting of the things that are sin and yet we do anyway?

Someone once said, “Repentance is being sorry enough not to do it again.”

3)Patriarchal Repentance— “both I and my father’s house have sinned.” This is a must. Some people believe their parents to be more right than God.

Here’s a caution: just because our mom or dad said it, doesn’t mean it’s Biblical.

It’s also important here to say we must confess the sins of our family. There is a thing called Generational sins. Exodus 20:5 states, “visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me.”

We pass down traits as parents to children and we pass down sins.

Certain habits that are sinful. You look at a man with a temper and you watch how his children turn out. Abuse—runs in families. Watch a gossiping person, or a judgmental person, in the church, I guarantee it they learned it at home.

We must repent in all three areas before we will have revival. If we won’t repent, who will?

Let’s Pray

Pastor Rodney

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Do We Have a Burdened Heart for Prayer?

burdened heart

Look again at what Nehemiah did when he heard the news about his nation.

“When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.” Nehemiah 1:4

When is the last time you wept in prayer?

You began to pray for a brother or sister in Christ or a lost loved one, or the lost in general, and wept while praying? Do you have passion in your prayer?

Is our hearts so in tune with God that other’s burdens become your burdens?

The Bible says, “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:1-2

A missionary and his family were forced to camp outside on a hill. They were carrying money and they were fearful that thieves might rob them. After spending time in prayer, they finally fell asleep.

Several months later, a man that had been injured was taken to the mission hospital. He asked the missionary if on that special night they had soldiers guarding them. The man said to him, “We intended to rob you, but we were afraid of the twenty-seven soldiers.”

When the missionary returned to his homeland, he shared this story with his home church. One of the members asked the date of that night and then responded, “We had a prayer meeting that night, and I took roll. There was exactly twenty-seven of us present.”

Oh, brothers and sisters when God’s people have a burdened heart God does miracles.

Who do you have a burdened heart for today? A loved one? Church family? Our Nation?

Let’s pray.

Pastor Rodney

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Will You Join Me in Prayer?

pray

“When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.” Nehemiah 1:4

Webster’s dictionary defines prevailing as having superior force or influence. When we think of prayer as believers, as children of God do you describe your prayer life as having superior force or influence with God?

I believe one thing that will mark a person who has influence with men and influence with God is this: that person will be one who walks with a greatness of prayer.

If we studied the great revivals or the turning point in a man’s life where that believer gave themselves completely to Jesus it is stamped with an event of significant, sustained prayer.

No great awakening in America ever started without God’s people crying out to God. No saint ever became mighty for God w/o first crying out to God for the forgiveness of sins.

Pastor Mark Bubeck a prayer warrior said greatness of prayer can be defined in 2 measurements:

1)Measured by what it does in the life of the one praying.

2)Measured by the visible moving of God in human affairs.

Of all the great prayers in the Bible, Nehemiah’s prayer is one of obvious greatness. Great prayer is ALWAYS A PRAYER FROM THE HEART! Usually, we never learn to pray until it is Desperate prayer. This prayer, in my opinion, is the outline of great prevailing prayer.

Here in our text, we have a remnant of Jewish people who had returned to Jerusalem. They were in captivity and had been let go. In 536 BC Zerubbabel returned with 50,000 Jews and in 20 years had rebuilt the temple. In 457 BC there was a small revival under Ezra. Now it’s 445 BC and the people and city are in ruins.

God was looking for someone who would be obedient and unite His people. God didn’t choose a king, a preacher, or even someone called into full-time ministry. God chose Nehemiah, the cup-bearer of the king of Persia.

God is looking for one person with a heart for His people. That’s what we need today. Someone to pray.

Our nation is divided and we can blame whatever political party we choose. But healing our land won’t come from Washington. It must come from God’s people crying out to Him for each other.

Will you join me in prayer?

Keep Looking Up!

Pastor Rodney

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