Purposeful Faith

Category - Contentment

Finding true contentment

Stand Strong During Trials

During Trials

I have very good intentions to meet daily with God. As much as I can, I carve out morning time to spend with him. Most mornings, I put him first when I wake up. Although not lately.

This burdens me. Jesus is seed for my life. I either grow life, or…I don’t.

Many of us find seeds thrown down, but as shown in Matthew 13, one of these 4 things happens:

1. The birds eat them after they were thrown on the path.

The enemy comes and gets you caught in discouragement, despair or doubt. He steals clarity regarding this word and replaces it with confusion. Nothing takes root.

2. They fall on shallow soil with rock underneath. Plants spring up quickly, then die in the sun because they don’t go deep.

Your heart is not prepared to embrace it and the insecurity and worry underneath prevents it from growing. Trials become issues that cut off the life God wants to grow. Nothing takes deep root, so you fall over when heavy winds come.

3. Thorns choke out the tender growth.
Distractions of the world (phone notifications, schedules, agendas, television, worries and worldly pursuits) crowd out the faith, hope and love God desires to grow within you.

4. They grow deep into fertile soil.

Deep within you, roots grow. They reach not just the surface level of your being, but the inner heart-places of your being. They change you from the inside out with true and lasting transformation.

To let God in you, into the deep, is to have your life deeply changed.

What can you do to cultivate fertile ground? How can you prepare your heart to receive the best of God?

Here are a couple ideas and resources…

1. Seek God with humility: Be prepared to have him point out areas in your life He wants to change.

2. Get a good daily devotional. For example, I am a contributor to the 365-day (in)Courage devotional called, “A Moment to Breathe.” It is a great way to start your day from the place of the heart. Learn more.

3. Look for God. Take notice of themes and of moves of God in your life. He may be calling you to something or re-teaching you something he really wants you to grasp.

4. Yield to His ways. Rather than pushing forward with what seems right (see: #3), go with what God says is right and let him teach you through your discomfort along the way.

Fertile hearts get deep roots that keep standing during the worst of storms. The high winds and trials of life can’t knock them over.

About “A Moment to Breathe”

With 365 readings, from 80 writers (including myself) each day begins with a passage of Scripture, tells a story of everyday faith, and encourages you to take a moment to breathe with a simple but fun way to complete your day. So kick off your shoes and join us for a relaxing but special time, where friends come together and share the real stuff of everyday faith.

Learn more about A Moment to Breathe.

Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.

God Loves You!

God, I can’t even trust myself sometimes, how can you trust me?

I see:
my faults
my forgetfulness
my ability to be deceived in the smallest way
my pride that so often fools me.

“God, do you really love me? How much?”

Do you love me when I forget you? Do you love me when I yell at my kids? Do you love me when I go the wrong way? Accidentally hurt you? God, do you really love me?

As if God answered my very prayers back, these questions came to mind…

Kelly, how could you have experienced so much freedom (release of fear, anxiety, worry), aside from my love?
(What freedom has God brought you within the space of his love?)

Kelly, how could I call you and not want you?
(In what ways has God called you to things, only He could?)

Kelly, how could I not love you after sending my son to suffer and die for you, as He did?
(In what ways does Jesus suffering cast new light on God’s love for you?)

Kelly, how could I abandon myself in you?
(How would God abandon his own Spirit within you? Sounds impossible.)

God loves me. He loves you.

Even when life breaks down…or people do…
Even when fears tumult all around…or uncertainties do…
Even when answers to questions do not abound…and problems still exist…

Still. Even then, His love still works.  It pursues. It remains. It saves. It quiets rambunctious hearts. It sings over us. It moves on our behalf.

“The LORD your God is in your midst…
a mighty one who will save
he will rejoice over you with gladness…
he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing (Zephaniah 3:17).”

What we have…the lengths, heights and depths of His love, cannot be stolen, removed or relinquished.

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life…nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Ro. 8:37-39).”

 

You, as a daughter, are in God’s love.
You are secure.

 

Kelly’s new book, Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears has been called “A must read,” “Breathtakingly honest” and a “Great Toolbox to Overcome Fear.” Read it today.

Discover how to flee from fear and fly in faith through 4 Days to Fearless Challenge.

Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.

Giving Thanks Even When It Hurts

Post by: Micah Maddox

It was a Thanksgiving I’ll never forget. We gathered around a beautiful table and grasped hands for prayer. As I lifted my head and glanced across the table, I locked eyes with my dad, who had just been diagnosed with head and neck cancer. The incision on his neck was still healing and the extensive surgery to his mouth was so extreme it was hard for him to form words.

I tried to hold back the tears, but the sight of suffering was too much. I let the tears flow. We all did. No longer was Thanksgiving about the delicious turkey or pumpkin pie. Dad couldn’t eat any of it.

This Thanksgiving Day was different. It was a day to truly grasp hold of the people around the table and be grateful for their presence. We didn’t rave about the food or brag on the cook. We focused on each other this time.

We learned so many difficult lessons that year. We learned to live beyond the normal routines and traditions, and find joy in just being together.

We learned patience and strength as we watched dad struggle to speak and learn to eat again. We learned life is brief and you truly never know when you will sit around the table for the last time. We learned life is worth fighting for, even when it feels like the end is near. We learned to take our time and sit around the table for more than just the food.

Thanksgiving is always a time to remember and be grateful. But it’s taken on a new meaning for us. It’s still about gathering and gratefulness, but it’s more about who is seated around the table.

The seating arrangement changes from year to year, but I’m looking forward to glancing across the table at a cancer-free dad this year. And when I look at him this time, I will thank God for all we’ve been through because it bonds us, binds us, and brings us back to the table, stronger.

We might shed a tear or two, but what I’m looking forward to most is being together.

Who will you share Thanksgiving with this year? Let’s grasp hands and promise to be thankful for those seated at our table, for we never know when it’s our last chance to love, listen, and lean on each other.

Thriving through the hard times isn’t something that comes easy to any of us, but Micah has discovered the key to living a life full of God’s power when our circumstances make us feel power-less. You can find out more about Micah’s new book Anchored In: Experience a Power-Full Life in a Problem-Filled World at micahmaddox.com.

BIO: Micah Maddox is a women’s conference speaker, Bible teacher, writer, blogger, and author of Anchored In: Experience a Power-Full Life in a Problem-Filled World. She is passionate about helping women find purpose, peace, and calm in our chaotic world. As a pastor’s wife and mother of three, she contributes her time to her local church – including serving as a women’s ministry leader.

 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/micahmaddoxencouragement/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mrsmicah/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/mrsMicahmaddox/

https://www.amazon.com/dp/1501848674/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_ep_dp_.JN.yb52FVPZT

What if I’m not saved, loved, chosen?

not saved,

Thoughts raced in my head, leaving me rattled.

What if God doesn’t forgive me for all the mistakes I made? What if I only believe I’m freed?

What if I am not good enough for him, when all’s said and done?

What if He doesn’t want me, when he comes back. . . and, I’m the last woman standing as he turns away from me. . . what if?”

Has your mind ever calculated the what ifs of faith? The “What ifs of Faith” say I may not be in God’s love. I might be left behind. I might unlovable. I might never have been included in his saving faith.

Many things can trouble us and make us wonder about our relationship with him. Words of another, your past, your sense of not being good enough, your endless faults, or internal criticism that shouts in your mind, your fears. . .

What, in the rare silence and contemplation of your heart, do you hear?

As I took a walk today, questions stirred. I noted the dark rain clouds, the heaviness of the world and the shifting movement of a life passing me by.

One day Jesus will return. One day he will come for me. It may not be far away. 

I walked, wanting Jesus, needing Him – his truth, his faithfulness.

God, will you show me your glory?

No sooner did I pray that I saw it: a rainbow. A promise so clear, as God’s faithfulness peaked through the heaviness of the dark and despairing clouds covering our pain-ridden world.

God is here.
His promises are true.
Faithful He will be.
What He says will come, will come.
He is who He says He is.
He will come in glory.

And I? I’ll be cloaked in his grace. Covered by it. Dancing in it. Freed by it. Owned by it. Released from every burden that wants to convict or distance me from his love. Jesus did not come to judge the world, but to save it. And I am saved, not by my own actions, but by Him. Released. Taken care of entirely.

What freedom!

Freedom exists behind every dark cloud. Freedom is Jesus. His grace waits to bust you out of the heaviness, regrets or bitterness clenching hold of your spirit. It’s all Jesus.

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.” Eph 2:8-9

Yes and amen.

Prayer:

Jesus, we proclaim you as the Promise Keeper, the Lord, the King of Kings over everything. We declare you to be our Lord. We confess our sins to you today. We turn away from them. We want you above all else, and nothing apart from you. We give you our life, our heart, our song and hopes. We ask, in your complete goodness to have your way in our life.  Thank you that you cleanse us, restore us and renew us right now. We are living testimonies of your goodness. Your grace and peace frees us. We overflow with contentment and joy. We receive all this, and your full inheritance and give it room to live in our lives. We praise you. In Jesus’ Name. Amen

Kelly’s new book, Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears has been called “A must read,” “Breathtakingly honest” and a “Great Toolbox to Overcome Fear.” Read it today.

Discover how to flee from fear and fly in faith through 4 Days to Fearless Challenge.

Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.

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Compassion for You

compassionate

Have you ever felt all alone? Like no one understands what you are going through?

I know the feeling. I know what it is to keep things inside because admitting them is hard. I know what it is to feel embarrassment about what’s happening in your mind. I know the hurt that wells up when you’ve tried 100 times to express your heart, but it always gets rejected. I know what it is to feel embarrassed. To keep things in. To stuff problems away. . .

What are you keeping to yourself? How do you feel stuck in your own world? Hungry for someone to deeply understand you?

Yesterday, I read a story I’d read a million and one times in the bible. It was the story where Jesus multiplied seven loaves and a few small fish to feed four thousand. But this time, I saw things, like never before…

1. Jesus said, “they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse on the way (Mt. 15:32).”

I noticed: Jesus cares for the hungry. He DOES NOT want us to collapse.

What are you hungry for? What makes you feel like you might collapse?

2. Jesus, as He surveyed the predicament said, I feel sorry for these people. (Mt. 15:32 KJV)” Or, in another translation, he said, “I have compassion for these people (Mt. 14:32 NIV)”

I noticed: Jesus has compassion for hungry people. He feels for their situation. While Jesus could have let these people go home hungry, He, as the bread of life, was true to character — He fed his children. He was moved by compassion.

Likewise, Jesus cares and has compassion for our struggles.

Where do you need to know that God deeply feels for your situation?

3. “The disciples replied, “Where would we get enough food here in the wilderness for such a huge crowd?”

I noticed: The disciples saw the wilderness nature of where they were — the lack, the nothingness and the impossibility of finding sustenance in this place. Jesus saw things differently. He saw the potential of his abundant provision. Jesus can do all things, at all times, with an all-out rescue, at any moment.

Where do you need to know God can create something out of your wilderness?

Did you know? The people “ate as much as they wanted.” They didn’t leave at first sight of no food. They stuck around.

What might it look like for you to stick around Jesus to see what he could do in your life? What would it look like for you to draw near to a compassionate and loving Jesus, who wants to help you? May you know, you are in the hands of a God, who loves you and sees you and all your inner needs.

“The LORD is compassionate and gracious (Ps. 103:8).”

 

Kelly’s new book, Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears has been called “A must read,” “Breathtakingly honest” and a “Great Toolbox to Overcome Fear.” Read it today.

Discover how to flee from fear and fly in faith through 4 Days to Fearless Challenge.

Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.

Give yourself a break

a break

Are you as hard on yourself as I am?

So, last night I met with a bunch of women. With one of them . . .let’s just say I was a little overzealous to connect. My mouth got ahead of my mind and I blurted out some totally weird comment. Later, when saying good-bye, I uttered an I-don’t-know-what-to-say-so-I’ll-complain comment.

“Oh, I’ve got to head-out. I’ve got to wake up at 5:30 AM to be with my kids.”

I rolled my eyes.

Why? I have no idea why. I have no idea why I just released a complainy comment in my awkward absence of words. But, I did. It came out of nowhere. Ever done that?

Well, these little mishaps didn’t end at that get-together. I got in the car and felt all guilty about me. I questioned what kind of Christian I am. I wondered why I can’t do things right. I kept wondering if the women thought less of me or if I seemed odd.

Do you ever question yourself? Constantly?

Jesus doesn’t do this to us. This is not his voice. He doesn’t tail us like we do. He doesn’t chase us at our heels saying, “Why did you do that? You really messed up this time. You really don’t know how to be like me, do you?”

Jesus doesn’t do this. We do.

What if we were to give ourselves a break? Like Paul does when he addresses the early believers and says, “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

What if we were to say to ourselves, in the heat of our self-hating moments, “Grace and peace to me, right now, from God my Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

And then, we let it in. What hooks might come out of our skin? What new places might our heart move to? What truth may we begin to swim in because we give our mind free reign to consider something other than self-condemnation?

It’s okay to be hungry for grace. Horribly. Desperately. Ravagely hungry for it.

Jesus knew we needed it. It’s why he died on the cross. Because we’ll never be perfect. We’ll never be spot-on. We’ll never be without fault.

We need him and we need grace. What if you gave yourself a break today and received his peace and grace so much that it set your mind free to receive Him?

 

Kelly’s new book, Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears has been called “A must read,” “Breathtakingly honest” and a “Great Toolbox to Overcome Fear.” Read it today.

Discover how to flee from fear and fly in faith through 4 Days to Fearless Challenge.

Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.

 

Getting What You Need, First.

Me first.

Me first.

Me first.

I’d never walk up to you and say it, but underneath my smiling and warm veneer, my heart often says…

Me first. I’m not sure I can trust you enough to give to you.

Me first. I want to make sure I am provided for.

Me first. I need to get my words understood before I understand yours.

Me first. I must hold my money tightly to make sure there is enough.

Me first. It is better to keep distance from you, so you don’t irritate me.

Me first. I need to be seen/recognized/loved first, before you are.

Me first. If you serve me, then I can serve you with peace about doing so. 

Me first. If I feel good about me, then I can feel good about you.

Me. Me. Me.

My mouth would never say it, but overwhelmingly and often, my heart does. This is a massive problem.

“People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” 1 Sam. 16:7

What is your heart speaking that your mouth would never admit?

Where are you putting yourself first instead of last?

“So the last will be first, and the first will be last.” Mt. 20:16

Where are you making it about your interests, not theirs?

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.” Phil. 2:3

Where do you figure because others act this way, you can too?

“When they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding.” 2 Cor. 10:12

Often, we think it’s in going first, getting first, and securing our place first that our life becomes full. What a lie. The enemy was the first liar. He put himself first, before God, and now suffers the consequences: eternity-long discontentment. Me-first mentalities never bring ultimate fulfillment. They may abate an insecurity for a moment, but to the detriment of overflowing soul-contentment.

Contentment is only found when our heart is content in God. And joy is found only God’s way, not via our hyper-dense, over-packed mega-highway to self-glory, achievement and fulfillment. On this road, we only get stuck. In miles and miles of congestion that leaves us breathing in choke-inducing fumes, not peace.

What me-first mentality might God be calling you to surrender today?

 

Kelly’s new book, Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears has been called “A must read,” “Breathtakingly honest” and a “Great Toolbox to Overcome Fear.” Read it today.

Discover how to flee from fear and fly in faith through 4 Days to Fearless Challenge.

Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.

5 Ways Waiting is a Blessing

I drive up to a stop sign and hate that the car in front of me lingers an extra ten seconds. I go to grab some food at Chipotle and find myself annoyed at the gap in the line being caused by that texter. I go to the grocery store and size up the length of the lines to get out quickly.

I hate waiting.

What are you waiting for? A marriage to finally work its way to peace? A time when you can finally quit your job and work toward your dream? A child who will come back home and change his or her ways? A prayer that you so desperately want answered? A future that you no longer need to worry about? A solution to the problem that you just can’t piece together?

Waiting can feel like agony. It can also feel like injustice. Or torture. Or frustration because you don’t know why your good God isn’t pulling through.

May I tell you something? He is pulling through.

Waiting is not about destroying hope, but renewing you.

“How?” you say.

The 5 Ways Waiting is a Blessing

  1. Waiting addresses your heart-issues.
    What you can’t see through times of abundance becomes the red hot potato in your hands during waiting. Here, you can see the burning anger, irritation, bitterness or frustration at God and others. Waiting points a finger to the places God is ready to bring restoration through a heart of confession.
  2. Waiting creates a deeper dependence on God.
    When I really need my husband’s help to hang a picture or to get something done, I hang near him. I want him to see me and be reminded of what it is I asked him to do. We do the same with God. We hang closer to Him when we really need him.
  3. Waiting reworks our vision.
    I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wanted a lesser gift from God. Years ago, I thought it was a silver convertible that was going to be my joy. I prayed for it, desired it and got it. That day was glorious. A couple of months later, it was just another car on the road. I realized I longed for a lesser gift, when what I really wanted was joy. In a wait our vision often adjusts, and rather than asking for a lesser thing, what comes to light is our need for a greater thing.
  4. Waiting sends us out in ministry.
    You are not alone in your wait. Thousands of other women and men sit in the same shoes with the same hope, deferred. Waiting helps us to get our eyes off of our demands and to see the dejection of others. As we reach out to them, see the needs and address them, the weight we placed on ourselves lightens. The desire to help and love them increases. Peace swoops in like a dover of hope.
  5. Waiting prepares your heart today for the abundance coming tomorrow.
    It’s in the waiting that God does his preparing for the gifts, goodness and greatness he will bring tomorrow. As we wait, impurities fall, so we’re ready to walk into His best with purity. Waiting prepares us to become holy vessels.

 

Kelly’s new book, Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears has been called “A must read,” “Breathtakingly honest” and a “Great Toolbox to Overcome Fear.” Read it today.

Discover how to flee from fear and fly in faith through 4 Days to Fearless Challenge.

Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.

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When You’re Out of God & Need a Miracle

need a miracle

Things in life far from work out perfectly.

I was driving to a conference the other day. With a quarter tank, I had my mind on a gas station, but I didn’t feel tremendous urgency as I drove. Pulling onto a new highway I’d never driven, I realized 20 miles in…I was headed for trouble. Left or right, five miles and five miles, there was not a single exit. Miles grew on miles and little by little, my heart beat with the anxiety of I-am-not-going-to-make it. There was no turning back.

I was deep into the trenches of my problem. Maybe you are today too…

In the pitch dark surroundings of the early morning, I imagined myself stalling onto the shoulder. One that there wasn’t much of. Would my car be stuck, partially out onto this dark highway? I imagined myself confronting a stranger on the side of the road as a random car pulled over.

Maybe your life appears dark today, too. Maybe your imaginings are starting to get out of control.

All I had was God. All I had was him and prayer. A hope and a desire that he, the one who says he is King of the Impossible, could do the impossible. The little gauge to my gas was now below the empty line. I prayed. But when I prayed, I decided to 100% believe God was going to pull through for me.

He was:

  1. Going to pull a gas station exit out of nowhere.
  2. Going to supernaturally fill my tank with gas.
  3. Going to do some other wild thing that would make all of this good.

“If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” Mt. 21:22

I don’t believe this bible verse is dead. It is our deadness – our fleshness, that does.

I believed. I believed in the pitch darkness, no matter how doubt was screaming at me. I didn’t listen. I told it to shut up.

And, I kept believing…until I saw a sign: a service exit was coming in three miles.

I pulled in. God restored the gas. He also restored my mind’s belief that there is no impossible scenario for God. God runs on full, no matter how empty we feel. He sees where we need to head. By believing, we open the spiritual doors to our place of victory.

Believe. Don’t let doubt scream at you any longer. I don’t care how many years you’ve been suffering, how far off your husband is, what you’ve done, or what kind of mess it looks like around you. Let the spiritual truth of God give you supernatural gas to carry you through. He will. Oh yes, he will.

Let me say it again: God will give you the gas you need. He will provide.

Today is your day of belief. Take it. I am believing with you.

Prayer: God, thank you that you can do exceedingly, abundantly, more than we can ask or imagine. We praise you for this. You are not only good, but you are glorious, glory-filled and gracious. Thank you that right here, right now, we can start believing, trusting and abiding in you. You will answer. We will wait on you, in faith. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

Kelly’s new book, Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears has been called “A must read,” “Breathtakingly honest” and a “Great Toolbox to Overcome Fear.” Read it today.

Discover how to flee from fear and fly in faith through 4 Days to Fearless Challenge.

Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.

Do you Feel Ordinary?

Guest Post by: Suzie Eller

For a long time, I believed I was ordinary.

And I still do, except for the fact that Jesus lives in me. Which means that His presence spills out over every part of my life. Everything that I am. Everything that I do.

Really, Suzie? 

I know. Faith has been diminished – even by believers – to something we do, or don’t do. We’ve forgotten that faith is life changing. That we have been given power from on high, for the purpose of loving a broken world.

When I look in the mirror, I see a middle-aged woman (if I live to 114) with a smattering of freckles and hazel eyes. I see a mom. A wife. A wrinkle that has crept under my nose, just like my mom’s.

Jesus sees a warrior. Anointed. Called. Equipped.

There’s no such thing as an ordinary life if Jesus is at the center.

In Luke 9, Jesus calls together a group of ordinary men. He speaks over them, telling them that they’ll walk in power and authority as they follow Him.

But Suzie, that’s the disciples. That’s not me.

I don’t know about you, but I’m a disciple too. As the early disciples walked with Jesus, their circle grew. They shared the Gospel. They mentored. They believed. They lived their faith. Other ordinary men and women joined in – all of them disciples.

Just like me. Just like you.

We are modern-day disciples and there’s an invitation as we follow Jesus. Every single day. We are invited to move beyond loving our faith – all the good things that come with it – to live our faith.

What happens when we listen for His invitation in the everyday, ordinary aspects of our life?

We overcome hard things, with His help. We forgive our enemies, even when everything within us wants to punish them for a life time (or at least for a day or two). We acknowledge when we are the difficult ones, and seek His forgiveness. We believe in the face of the impossible. We reach for Heaven’s wisdom when ours is in short supply. We fill ourselves with the power of His word and presence, instead of all the other things that don’t come close to that gift.

We dare to believe that we are anointed, simply because Jesus offers it.

We aren’t perfect.
We don’t have all the answers.
We won’t fix the world, though Jesus will help us influence a portion of it.

We still look in the mirror, and see those same old features staring back at us. I’ll still be holding on to my middle-aged status, even though it means I’ll have to live to 114.

Yet what is on the inside becomes just as visible.

We live as disciples, following Jesus in our ordinary lives, making a dent a broken world with His love. Becoming more like Him as we walk with Him. And that’s an extraordinary life, because He’s at the center of it all.

About Suzie Eller

Suzanne Eller (Suzie) has served Proverbs 31 Ministries for 10 years. She’s an author, international speaker and Bible teacher, top 100 Christian women’s blogger, and popular media guest. She loves nothing more than watching God work in the heart of a woman. Learn more about her new Come With Me Devotional: A Yearlong Adventure in Walking with Jesus .

Suzie has a free gift for you: “13 Prayers for Come With Me”, a free PDF to encourage you to accept the invitation to follow Jesus wherever He goes. Click here to subscribe and receive the PDF in your inbox.