Apologetics Paper

For my high school apologetics class, I was assigned an essay presenting the strongest arguments about why to believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, sacrifice for man, risen Savior, and coming King. Despising the word essay, which brings to mind boredom and dryness, I decided to make it a bit more interesting. I am pleased to present my “essay” to you now.

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Dear Reader,

I am addressing this essay to a fictional person who I named Austin. I have a cousin named Austin whom I don’t know as well as I wish I did. I know his younger brothers pretty well, but have only visited Austin a few times. He is my age, and I got the impression on those few visits that he is a sensitive, caring, deeply-thinking person who perhaps wonders about life, as most people our age do. He is aspiring to go into law enforcement, and I am very proud to dedicate this paper to my cousin. The Austin I am writing to in the essay is a lot like my cousin, and I hope it makes it a bit less dry to read it in this form than most essays are written in. So with no further ado…

August 31, 2016

Dear Austin,

How are you? I have been enjoying the long-distance discussions we’re having about the Bible and especially Jesus Christ. I wanted to let you know that I am continuing to pray for you.

Sometimes I try to put myself in another’s shoes – his worldview and way of looking at new things – and wonder what he thinks when he hears about Jesus Christ. If I wasn’t raised in a home that reads the Bible daily, goes to church weekly, and tries to honor God in all things, how would I view things?

Would Jesus Christ seem a strange but wise teacher who perhaps was simply a fable in someone’s book that people now believe is history? After all, a lot of people used to actually think the earth was flat, but now they know that was just a fable. Did Jesus Christ really live in a place of “space and time” as Francis Schaeffer says in his book The God Who is There? Was He a normal man who was raised by a family who loved Him, and then He suddenly got a notion that He was actually the Son of God –The God of the Jews – and lived a delusional lie for His adult life?

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Jesus claims to be the Son of God. If He was a good teacher, as you say you believe, that claim of divinity must by definition be true, because if it was false, He would be a liar, and thus not a “good” anything! He would have led many astray by telling them many lies about Himself.  Jesus Christ truly believed He was the Son of God. He knew that without any doubt. But many people have claimed to be a president or a great person from history (even Jesus Himself) and been found out to be delusional loonies. What’s the difference?

Gary R. Collins PhD says in Lee Strobel’s book The Case for Christ, that people who have psychological difficulties can claim to be someone other than who they really are. But psychologists look deeper than what they say. “They’ll look at a person’s emotions, because disturbed individuals frequently show inappropriate depression, or they might be vehemently angry, or perhaps they’re plagued with anxiety. But look at Jesus: he never demonstrated inappropriate emotions. For instance, he cried at the death of his friend Lazarus – that’s natural for an emotionally healthy individual.” Dr. Collins went on to say that Jesus “was obviously in contact with reality. He wasn’t paranoid although he rightfully understood that there were some very real dangers around him. … All in all, I just don’t see signs that Jesus was suffering from any known mental illness. He was much healthier than anyone I know – including me!”

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So if a professor of psychology who has a doctorate in his area of expertise says that after studying Jesus he has found no problems with Him, that makes a good case that Jesus really was Who He said He was. So if He said He was the Son of God, how can anyone say that He was just a good teacher and nothing more? That’s not possible. He either is the Son of God, or He is a deceiver.

Austin, what do you believe? Do you believe Jesus was the Son of God who died for you to take the punishment for your sins so that you can join Him in Heaven? Do you believe He literally came to life after three days of being quite dead from innumerable lacerations from a harsh beating with whips that had sharp pieces of bone and metal in them, that may literally have shredded His back enough to see His ribs, and then being mercilessly crucified and thrust through with a spear?

You asked me last time we wrote about the evidence that Jesus truly died and didn’t just swoon or something. I read a fascinating book that touched on that topic!

Medical Doctor Alexander Metherell has studied the accounts of Jesus’ death in detail. He says in The Case for Christ, “Because of the terrible effects of this beating, there’s no question that Jesus was already in serious to critical condition even before the nails were driven through his hands and feet.” When they did take the critically wounded Jesus to the cross, He was most likely in hypovolemic shock, meaning He had lost so much blood, that His heart was racing and He was unable to carry His cross because of the weakness and pain He was in. When they drove the nails into His wrist, it crushed the median nerve that caused a pain so horrible that they had to invent a new word – excruciating- which means “out of the cross.”

But the pain wasn’t what killed Him. He died by slow asphyxiation. When He needed to take a breath, He had to push up with His feet in order to exhale. The position of His body was in a constant inhale otherwise.  He had to continue pushing like this in order to breathe, but in His weary state, He reached the point of absolute exhaustion in a shorter amount of time than others had, and eventually succumbed to cardiac arrest and He also had pleural effusion, which caused the water to come out of the spear wound along with the blood.

Austin, if you have any more doubts about whether Jesus really died, I would encourage you to get your hands on a copy of The Case for Christ and read chapter 11, titled The Medical Evidence.  The whole book is fascinating, but I know that with your studies you may not have the time to read it all. Don’t worry, it’s less than 14 pages in length, and it’s a fairly easy read. It’s gruesome, but since it really happened, it’s important to know.

For a shorter book on the same topic as The Case for Christ, Josh McDowell wrote a 128 page book called More than a Carpenter. It covers a lot of ground! It would answer a lot of your questions. The chapter on “What about science?” was really quite good. Lots of people say you can’t prove Jesus was Who He said He was scientifically, so it isn’t logical to believe in Him. But you can’t even scientifically prove that you were at your morning class or ate lunch today! You can’t repeat those events in a controlled situation, which is how they scientifically prove things.

To answer your question about why Jesus had to be a sacrifice for us, I will have to lead you back to the creation account. I know that you believe in theistic evolution, but just humor me awhile and say that God really did create Adam and Eve as the first intelligent humans who were made in His image and were without sin. He placed them in a beautiful garden and gave them the job of working in it and having dominion over the animals. He also told them they weren’t allowed to eat from the one tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

You see, God didn’t make two little robots that were programmed to be loyal to Him. He made personal beings that could choose to love Him. Wouldn’t it be weird if your girlfriend was just automatically programed to love you and you didn’t have to earn her love with flowers or notes, or kind words? (Don’t try that on Courtney! She would NOT like that! And I wouldn’t want to get into trouble! :))

Anyway, God made Adam and Eve so they could choose, and they did. The problem was that they chose not to love God but instead to rebel against Him. They ate the fruit and God had to punish them. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 3:23. Do you see now, that because of our sin, God couldn’t let us live forever in a beautiful garden with no consequences for the action that brought horrible sin into His perfect world? Think of how many things we’ve made go wrong through our sins? It’s sad. How would you like it if your uncle never had to pay for how he treated that girl a few months back? That was awful, and he had to pay for it. Did you know that your feelings of justice actually were given to you by God? His character is still in you, even though it’s warped and not at all perfect anymore because of sin.

God still loves us though, as you know from John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” He still wants to have a relationship with us, but now that sin is in the way, He had to make a way to make the relationship whole again. We blew it and just turned away like a spoiled teenager just spitting in his dad’s face and leaving. Well, our Father came and ran after us, turned us around, and said “I still love you. Come back – I forgive you and want you to live with me. All you have to do is come back to me and live by the rules I put down to protect you and help everyone to get along together. ” Okay, so that wasn’t a very good illustration, but you get the point. The Father actively still loves us.

But you also know God’s justice. He is a holy, perfect God, who can’t tolerate sin. He is a Judge Who must see the sinner make it right. Just look at the first five books of the Bible, the Torah. But since His ultimate punishment is death, He had to make a way for our eternal soul to be reunited after death. He had this plan before we even sinned! Can you imagine, Austin? That’s amazing; to purpose that your only son would die for your little creations that purposefully rebelled against you.

When Jesus died, He took the punishment that we deserved. But that wasn’t the end of it of course. He also rose from the dead. Can you imagine being one of the disciples and seeing your teacher – the one you spent three years following and learning from – being beaten mercilessly, hung on a ruthless instrument of torture from His wrists and feet, and struggling for breath… only to die. To die, and, naked and lifelessly limp, be taken down in the premature darkness of God’s wrath, and put in the tomb of a kind and brave man. A borrowed tomb for the King of kings.

How sad it would be to watch! But when the women who were with Him so long went back to the tomb and found a great shining angel sitting on the enormous stone that had sealed and closed their Rabbi’s body in His death chamber, they were not expecting the joy that would be theirs when they saw Jesus, whom the Most High had raised from the dead. Would you expect your friend Jimmy to come back after being gone these three years? Of course not! But Jesus was no ordinary man.

When He arose, God restored Him to an almost whole body again. He had the scars of the cross, but He was restored to being able to walk, talk, and eat with His friends. A crowd of 500 people saw Him all at once, and when the apostle Paul wrote the creed in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.”

As Paul admits himself, many witnesses were still alive to call him out as a liar. But no one did that. The enemies of Christianity couldn’t deny that Jesus’ body was missing from the tomb, and they couldn’t argue with dozens of people reporting that they had seen the risen Savior with their own eyes – multiple times!

Isn’t it wonderful how God told us all about this plan in the Scriptures? Many others have written books to prove from a human standpoint that Jesus is Who He said He was, and they are so helpful. But really, all they have to do is look at the Bible, take it as the Truth it is, and they’ll be on their way to understanding if they trust God to show them.

Have you done that, Austin? I hope so. I want nothing more than to see you in Heaven someday. You know we’re not given the knowledge of when we’ll die, or when Jesus will come back to take us to be with Him. Since He was obviously telling the truth about everything He talked about, that means He will be coming back on the clouds just as He went up to Heaven.

Are you ready for that, Austin? Please be sure – your eternal life depends on it.

Respectfully yours,

Naomi Blum

3 Day Quotes Tag, Day 2b

Here is day two of the blog post idea my sister Faith had! Yeah, yeah, I know I already did it, but I read this verse, and it struck me again and reminded me of all the other times I’ve loved it. So here’s installment #2! 🙂

 

Please Note: I don’t know what version this is, so feel free to look it up in your own Bible.

3 Day Quotes Tag, Day 1

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My siser Faith “tagged” me in a quote sharing post idea. I hope it’s okay to only do the first two of the rules, because I honestly don’t know of any bloggers besides her. So here goes! Thank you, Faith, for nominating me! I like this idea.

The Rules

  • Thank the person who nominated you
  • Nominate 3 new bloggers everyday
  • Post a new quote everyday for 3 consecutive days

 

Here is one of my favorite quotes that I try to live by, because it is so biblical.

John Wesley's quotes, famous and not much - QuotationOf . COM

Blog Tour

TSR Release Banner FB and Blog

Today, my sister Faith joins us to share a guest post on the spiritual themes of her new book, The Solid Rock. This is my favorite so far because there is a new level of spiritual depth in it, and it really deals with a lot of good issues in a way that is biblical, and also keeps your interest. That’s the beauty of fiction with a purpose!

About the Book

3D The Solid RockJoshua woke with a quiet groan. As his senses woke up one at a time, he cracked his eyelids open. Sure enough, there was a silhouetted form standing at the foot of the bed. From the smell, the person was either from the brothel down the street or had recently left one.

He forced himself to breathe evenly and reached for the knife in his thigh holster. With as tough and evil a voice as he could imitate, he spoke, “State your intentions.”

Pinkerton detective, Joshua Brookings, is sent on a job that seems simple on the surface. His fellow detective has been kidnapped and his boss, William Pinkerton senses foul play. Joshua is sent to investigate Edward’s case in hopes of finding the kidnapped detective and helping solve the case that has taken over ten years to investigate.

Arriving in Cheyenne, Joshua finds much more than a simple kidnapping. Yet again, he must go undercover, something he made his boss promise never to make him do again. The only Christian in the outlaw group, Joshua falters in his faith in God’s providence. Will he stand on the solid Rock or drown in the sinking sand?

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You can also preorder a paperback copy here for $14.00 plus shipping.

ExcerptQuotable #2

Joshua jerked awake. His heart raced, his palms were sweaty, and he struggled to get a full breath in and out. He glanced across the dying embers at Ross. At least he hadn’t woken up.

He slipped out of his bedroll and stoked the fire before walking away from the camp. He had to find a way for these dreams to go away. They kept getting worse the closer they got to Denver and he hadn’t even been undercover that long yet.

Every night it was the same thing. Every night it lasted a little longer. It would start with a group of men in a cabin. They always started out with some jokes and a little reminiscing about family and then quickly transferred into stories of evil and debauchery. It had taken him a month to get rid of the dreams—which were based on real events—the last time.

Now he was undercover again, this time with the mastermind of even more evil plots than the last time.

“God, how can I get rid of the dreams this time?” he whispered. “Praying out loud or reading the Bible won’t work.”

He heaved a sigh and sneaked back into camp. Please, no more dreams tonight.

Guest Post

That excerpt really sets up my topic well. In The Solid Rock, Joshua struggles to keep his spiritual feet firmly planted on God. Naomi has asked that I share a little bit about the spiritual elements of my book.

When darkness veils His lovely face,/I rest on His unchanging grace;

Before the book opens, Joshua had just finished a difficult undercover job for the Pinkerton agency. He had infiltrated an outlaw group and had to hear things no person should ever hear, but it was especially hard on him since he was a strong Christian. Or so he thought. His faith was severely tested those two weeks. In The Solid Rock, he goes through an even longer period of what some would call spiritual darkness or depression when he truly felt like darkness had veiled God’s face. Through that time, he didn’t always rest on God’s unchanging grace, or lean on Christ.

In ev’ry high and stormy gale/My anchor holds within the veil.

Even though Joshua didn’t always rest on the Solid Rock, God was still his anchor. God still gave him everything he needed when he needed it. Joshua learned, like so many of us need to learn, that God will be our anchor through the tough times.

On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand–

When I wrote the rough draft of this book in July, I didn’t realize what an impact it would have on me a few months later when I edited it. I don’t remember what was going on at the time as I edited the book, but I do know that Joshua’s struggles were similar to mine and I was fighting God in the same way he was. Then when Joshua stopped fighting God, I realized what I needed to do as well. Christ is the only Rock on which to stand. He is truly the only One who can keep you safe in the storms life throws at you.

All other ground is sinking sand, All other ground is sinking sand.

All of those trials, burdens, self-help programs, distractions, media, social media, etc. All of them are sinking sand. They cannot hold you up, build you up, or keep you steady in the way God can. The world is sinking sand, but Christ is our solid Rock on which we can stand. And at the end of time, we can truly sing with Edward Mote, the writer of the hymn, The Solid Rock:

When He shall come with trumpet sound,
O may I then in Him be found,
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne.


On Christ the solid Rock, I stand–
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.

Author Interview

What is your testimony (in brief form)?
I prayed with Mom when I was four and since then I have learned more about God and He has drawn me ever closer to Him. It’s been a slow, gradual learning and growing process and I am far from perfect, but I truly believe He saved me by His grace.

Why do you write Christian Historical Fiction?
I write Christian fiction because I think it is the best way a Christian author can be a witness to the world. I write Historical Fiction because I have always loved to read that genre.

Do you like Hymns? Why?
YES!! I love hymns because they have such rich theology, beautiful words, beautiful melodies, and are fun to play, sing, and generally worship God through.

What is your favorite book/novella of what you’ve written?
That’s not a fair question! For a published book, I would have to say The Solid Rock. If it can be one that isn’t published yet, I would say Blessed Assurance which is a novella that, Lord willing, will be published in August.

What is your favorite instrument to play, and where and when do you play it most?
I play both piano and flute, but I prefer playing piano because there is so much more you can do on it. I play piano mostly at home, but I also play at church a lot.

Giveaway

TSR Release Giveaway Meme

Faith is giving away a full set of paperback books! Fill out this form to earn entries to the giveaway. Each entry gives you one point, plus there are opportunities for bonus entries.

AMF AvailabilityIf you haven’t read any of my books and would like to try one for free, I am working on getting A Mighty Fortress available for free on all formats. It is currently free on Barnes and Noble, iBooks, and Kobo. If you also wouldn’t mind helping me get it free on Amazon, I would appreciate that. To help, all you have to do is grab 1, 2, or 3 of the links where it is free and go to AMF’s Amazon page, click on “tell us about a lower price” and submit a link or three. Thank you!

Facebook Party

TSR Release Party Banner FB

To celebrate her release, Faith is holding a Facebook party on March 31st from 2-4 Central time. You can join her and 3 other authors here. There will be fun, games, giveaways, excerpts, and more. Some of the giveaways will stay open through Friday evening, April 1st. Fun fact: the other three authors are all homeschool moms.

About the Author

Author Picture 2015-2016 croppedFaith Blum started writing at an early age. She started even before she could read! She even thought she could write better than Dr. Seuss. Now that she’s grown up a little more, she knows she will probably never reach the success of Dr. Seuss, but that doesn’t stop her from trying.

When she isn’t writing, Faith enjoys doing many right-brained activities such as reading, crafting, writing, playing piano, and playing games with her family. One of her dreams is to visit Castle City, Montana someday to see the ghost town she chose for her characters to live in. She currently lives on a hobby farm with her family in Wisconsin.

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Faith-Blum/e/B00GSPBHW6
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HymnsoftheWest
Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/Faith_Blum
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/FaithBlumAuthor
Website: http://www.FaithBlum.com
Blog: http://www.FaithBlum.wordpress.com

Tour Schedule

March 26
Writings, Ramblings, and Reflections-Tour Introduction
Writing Dreams-Excerpt and Spotlight
God’s Peculiar Treasure Rae-Spotlight
Tee Garner-Excerpt, Spotlight, Interview

March 28
George’s Shorts-Spotlight, Review, Interview
Karan Eleni-Excerpt, Spotlight, Review
BlondeRJ-Excerpt
Rebekah Lyn Books-Excerpt
Zerina Blossom’s Books-Excerpt, Spotlight
Life is a Four-Letter Word-Spotlight

March 29
In the Bookcase-Excerpt, Review
Ruth’s Real Life-Excerpt
Kelsey’s Notebook-Review, Interview
Shire Reviews-Review
With a Joyful Noise-Excerpt, Spotlight
Melanie D. Snitker, Author-Excerpt, Spotlight
Wildflower Acres-Spotlight

March 30
Clean Indie Reads-Spotlight
Jaye L. Knight-Excerpt, Spotlight
Stories by Firefly-Excerpt, Spotlight, Interview
Chess Desalls-Excerpt
Kendra’s Thoughts-Excerpt, Interview
Frances Hoelsma-Excerpt, Spotlight

March 31
Prairie Dust Trail-Review
David Todd-Interview
The Overactive Imagination-Excerpt
Reading in June-Excerpt, Spotlight
Rachel Rossano’s Words-Excerpt, Spotlight
Trust and Obey-Guest Post, Spotlight

April 1
Writings, Ramblings, and Reflections-Tour Wrap-up, giveaway announcement

Mexico

March 18, 2016

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Mountain in Mexico

I apologize for the confusion this post may have caused those of you who signed up for my email. I accidentally published it before it was ready, so I “un-published” it and got it ready again. So here it is – again!

In my Bible Study Fellowship this week, the opening hymn was Praise to the Lord the Almighty. As I sang it, I realized that it outlined my trip to Mexico perfectly and in almost exact chronological order so that I could use it in sharing my testimony of what the Lord has done in my life recently.

(For those of you who don’t know, I recently went on a mission trip to Mexico for ten days.)

“Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of Creation!”
When we arrived at the leader’s house on Friday morning, it was suggested that the group from my church (we joined others from different churches and groups) pray before starting. We primarily praised God for us all being able to go, how we were able to come despite adverse circumstances, and for all He would do in and through us.
Our leader has always put an emphasis on the Lord being the Almighty Creator, and he was planning on teaching a VBS (vacation Bible school) all about the Creator in Mexico.

“…O my soul praise Him, for He is thy health and salvation!”
We all began the bus trip with prayer for our travels – prayers for safety and for health as we traveled for thirty hours to a foreign country. We had many thoughts about our health, and the salvation of souls in Mexico and beyond.

“All ye who hear, now to His temple draw near; join me in glad adoration.”
On Sunday morning we made sure to wake up in time to go to a Mexican church service at 10:30 A.M. We ‘drew near to God’s temple’ in Juarez, Mexico, and were hosted by gracious Christians who chose songs that were familiar to us Americanos, so that we could join them in glad adoration of our God and Creator. We joined with our brothers and sisters in the most meaningful, life-changing praise of God I have ever experienced before in my life! It was amazing and wonderful.

“Praise to the Lord, who o’er all things so wondrously reigning bears thee on eagle’s wings, e’er in His keeping maintaining.”
As we, the very different-from-the-Mexicans, Americans walked through the city market in the afternoon, we were approached by two ladies from the newspaper who asked to take a picture of some of us for the morning news. Later we found out that this made our visit slightly less low-profile than usual. We walked through a rather dangerous street and were shown a poster/display for a young girl who was kidnapped from her Christian family. Our guide told us that five girls are kidnapped each week in Mexico.

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Please remember to pray for girls like Esmeralda

God protected us all that day and through the whole week as we served Him. He maintained us and bore us up on eagle’s wings.

“God’s care enfolds all whose true good He upholds. Hast thou not known His sustaining?”
I experienced this in a very personal way on Sunday night just after I went to bed. I laid down in the top bunk, and immediately, with no warning, I felt like I was going to be sick. I quietly rushed to the bathroom, where I stopped, no longer sick, but now overcome by a wave of emotion. I couldn’t stop crying and thinking of my family, and stayed in there for about ten minutes, crying out to God for comfort. And He did! He gave me the strength, calm and distractions to not be lonely all the rest of the week.

“Praise to the Lord, who doth prosper thy work and defend thee;”
The Lord surely prospered our work! We got many things done even on just the first day. He protected us from all the hidden dangers – car accidents, unfriendly people, major illness, etc.

“Surely His goodness and mercy here daily attend thee.”
He also gave us mercy in that no one got any kind of injury beyond a few slivers, or two, cuts, or a big bruise (on yours truly :)). His goodness overwhelms me.

“Ponder anew what the Almighty can do, who with His love doth befriend thee.”
One of the girls wore a shirt that said “God’s Work, Our Hands.” So true. God worked through the wonderful Christians in Mexico to show me personally His love. They were so friendly and accepting, and my new American friends were so concerned for my (and other’s) health/dietary needs, that I felt God’s love enfold me like a hug, sometimes literally through the people around me. He crossed over language barriers and knit our spirits together with the love of Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord.

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“Praise to the Lord, who doth nourish thy life and restore thee, fitting thee well for the tasks that are ever before thee.”
Again, so many times He works through our hands. The kitchen crew nourished us with food for each breakfast and lunch and then the Mexican ladies took over to prepare us spectacular meals each night. The English speaking people provided us with sweet fellowship and conversation, especially the Mexican Pastor and the hard working grounds keeper. God gave us restoration through sleep each night, fitting us for the next day of hard work.

“Then to thy need, God as a mother doth speed, spreading the wings of grace o’er thee.”
This happened with a few of the others on the trip. A young man became ill for a night and morning and God through His grace revealed pride in his heart. A young woman got a few headaches and was given grace to rest, and received many kind words from those who took her place.
He does comfort thee in thy need!

“Praise to the Lord! O, let all that is in me adore Him! All that hath life and breath, come now with praises before Him!”
My heart is overflowing with praise for my Lord and Creator! Won’t you join me in praising Him?

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“Let the amen sound from His people again; gladly forever adore Him.”
We closed our bus trip on the way home in prayer and praise for a safe, wondrous journey. It was life-changing for many, if not all. May we all, forever, adore Him!

Note: Thank you to all who supported me financially and with prayers. I truly appreciate your part in this trip, and I couldn’t have done it without you. I thank God for you. You had a part in this, and I do not take it for granted. God bless you.

*I didn’t share any names or locations to protect the privacy of any who may desire it.