Mission and Vision

Simple Church Success exists to equip, inspire, and support those who want to know Jesus better and are hungry for simple participatory gatherings of two or more people.

We partner with Luke 10 International Ministries toward being a engaged network of visionaries, trail-blazers, church-planters, supporters, and inquirers who are learning to BE the church in simple Holy Spirit led, Christ-centered, Biblical ways.

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From the PORCH


I posted  about Forgiveness on February 29, 2016, on the PORCH, (a public Google Plus Community that I moderate and that you can join).

Here’s my post:

“The Lord encouraged me toward forgiveness this morning. They (Father,  Lord Jesus, and Holy Spirit) smiled and tenderly said to my struggling heart, “Forgive, forgive, forgive. We do that all the time…it’s in our blood!” (and I added) “… the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7) And, “…be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” (Ephesians 4:32)

I laughed with joy when the Lord said, “forgiveness…is in our blood!”

But, how quickly can we harden our hearts in unforgiveness and the like? And I remember Jesus’ shock at how quickly his disciples hardened their hearts right after they had helped him feed the 5000. And he asked, “Why are you arguing about having no bread? Don’t you know or understand even yet? Are your hearts too hard to take it in?” (Mark 8:17)

Do we realize that like them, our hearts can get hard, cold and unforgiving right after a great spiritual victory? That it’s “crouching at the door?” (Genesis 4:7)

Having and keeping a tender heart is a daily battle and opportunity.

Regarding the daily battle—“That is why the Holy Spirit says, “Today when you hear his voice, don’t harden your hearts as my people did in the wilderness when they rebelled.” (Hebrews 3:7–8)

Regarding the daily opportunity—The Lord warns, “Be careful then…Make sure that your own hearts are not evil and unbelieving, turning you away from the living God. You must encourage each other every day, while it is still “Today,” so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God.” (Hebrews 3:12–13)

I used to read the “encourage each other every day, while it is still ‘Today’” part and be puzzled. Church was a place I attended once or twice a week but certainly not daily.

I was puzzled about the daily meetings in the early church too.  “They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity—” (Acts 2:46, NLT) I reasoned that the daily meetings were realistic back then when everyone lived so much closer together, but not practical today.

I was sad and frustrated, because even the church meetings and bible study groups I did attend didn’t lend themselves to inter-actively encouraging “one another.” There were teachings and studies and information but not much mutual encouragement. Some in church even stressed that religion was private and no one else’s business.

Thankfully, the Lord has a work-around. The Bible says, “our spirits are being renewed every day.” (2 Corinthians 4:16) “Being renewed” is a passive verb here. It means that God is doing the renewing for us even if we can’t figure out our daily encouraging of one another.

There is a simple, wonderful way to do our daily encouraging of one another. It’s called “Church of Two.” Read about it here!

“Giv’m heaven!”—John Parker

John Parker serves with Connections Simple Church of Chowchilla meeting 10 AM Sundays at Carty Center, 609 W. Robertson Blvd. Learn more at: www.simplechurchsuccess.com or contact John at (209) 564-7201.

This article first posted in The Chowchilla News Pastor’s Commentary by John Parker for Tuesday, March 3, 2016  under the title: The DAILY SHOW

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Which one is the workaholic and which one is her sister?

Here’s the story:

“As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”” (Luke 10:38–42, TNIV)

Martha is the one who gets verbally arrested by Jesus for her anxious activities. Maybe Martha was watching too much Martha Stewart.

My guess is that both women were trained to be performance-based, get-things-done, non-stop, hostess-with-the-mostest women. In other words, domestic workaholics, with Martha still active, and Mary in recovery.

Mary came from the same world and upbringing as Martha but she is calm. Is this simply because of a quiet personality temperament?

Definitely not. Jesus makes that clear when he says to Martha, “Mary has chosen.”

Mary’s quietness and ability to sit at Jesus’ feet while her sister makes a spectacle over her non-helpfulness does not stem a placid personality. No, Mary is the same sister who, later, shockingly breaks open a jar of expensive spikenard and, in the midst of scathing criticism, anoints Jesus. She is no passive pushover.

Rather than from a natural tendency, Mary’s ability to be calmly assertive comes out pain and suffering. After all she is Martha’s sister. The current episode is probably not the first time Martha has capped on Mary.

Although, it may be the first time Martha’s dominating, shaming, controlling techniques didn’t work. She certainly thought they would or she wouldn’t have put everything on the line in front of Jesus. Martha was used to getting her way.

Mary and Martha represent our own inner battle between the flesh and the spirit, the natural and the spiritual, as well as, the old and new kingdoms.

Jesus says, ““No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Mammon (earthly stuff).” (Luke 16:13)

James writes about our Martha-ness, “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight.” (James 4:1–4)

Paul teaches, “The mind controlled by the sinful nature is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace.” (Romans 8:6)

We can relate to both Martha and Mary. Jesus makes it clear that Mary is the example for Martha, and, for us too.

Why? Because Jesus says, “Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Now, the choice is ours.

“Giv’m heaven!”—John Parker

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Donate button correct now to Get a tax deduction for charitable giving in 2015 Opps and sorry.

(Oops! The donate button was messed up and is correct now.)

You can get 2015 tax deduction* for charitable giving, plus,
Partner with my ministry work for small group relational outreach too!

Either or both approaches would be grand!

Click to donate online: 
Or, give by check to:  Connections Ministries
And mail to:  Connections,  PO Box 3246,  Merced, CA 95344

Happy New Year,
John Parker

*Connections Ministries is has a 501c3 exempt status for your taxes.




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Today! Starring…

Star-of-BethlehemMerry Christmas! From John Parker

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We, like sheep…

Sheep_escape_cattle_gridThe Lord is my shepherd. That means I’m one of his sheep.

Being a sheep and having a shepherd may not be exciting for those of us who want to take charge, get things done, be self-directed, self-made and self-actualized.

Sheep need tending. If you want to run your own life and  be independent then being one of God’s sheep may not be your first choice.

Apparently none of us starts out doing very well as one of God’s sheep. The Bible says, “All we like sheep have gone astray. We have turned, each one of us, to our own way.” (Isaiah 53:6) The good news for those who no longer want to turn astray is that God provides a shepherd who saves straying sheep.

Surprisingly God’s shepherd first became as a sheep just like us.  Born in a manger God’s lamb was named is Jehovah is Salvation (Jesus) and God with Us (Emmanuel).  When he was about 30 years old John the Baptist introduced him publicly as the “Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29)

Immediately people began to seek and follow him. They understood the Jesus’ Lamb of God nickname.

From the time of Israel’s exodus from Egypt (circa 1440 BC) God had instituted the Passover where a year old, unblemished, male lamb was sacrificed by each household so that the angel of death would pass over their home. The blood of the sacrificial lamb was sprinkled on the doorposts to protect the family.

Jesus, the Lamb of God, added more by introducing himself as the Good Shepherd. Here are some comforting truths he brings to his sheep:

“The one who enters by the gate of the sheepfold is the shepherd of the sheep and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.

“When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. They will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.

“All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them…Whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep…I know my sheep and my sheep know me—just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.” (excerpts from John 10:1-16)

Religions and other success systems tend to make lists for themselves and others to see if we are “naughty or nice.”

Jesus simply says, Straying sheep I love you. I give you my life. Come to me. I’m calling. Listen, trust and follow me. I will save you completely.

“Giv’m heaven!”—John Parker

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Crazy Cruelty Getting Closer!

san_bernardino_Victims_2015How safe do you feel after the San Bernardino shooting? Crazy is getting closer! Authorities are more baffled than ever!

What should we do? How do we defend and provide safety for our loved ones?

There is a way. It is simple and free.

In these last days the Bible insists everything is going to be shaken. The Lord promises, “’Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.’ The words ‘once more’ indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain.

“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our ‘God is a consuming fire.’” (Hebrews 12:26–29)

The Lord calls us into a relationship with himself. “This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: ‘In return and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength.’ But,” Isaiah says, “you would have none of it.” (Isaiah 30:15)

Did you catch that? “You would have none of it.”

Yikes! It’s saying that even though the Lord promised to save and give strength the people refused to turn to him, rest in him, and trust in him.

Instead, they continued to use their own methods of saving and protecting themselves.  They leased horses and chariots.

They said, “No! We will flee upon horses!”

And God said, “Therefore you shall flee away.”

They said, “We will ride upon swift steeds!”

And God said, “Okay, therefore your pursuers shall be swift. A thousand of you shall flee at the threat of one (bad guy)…” (Isaiah 30:16-17)

Now you probably aren’t thinking of renting horses to get away from the bad guys. But what have you talked about? Food storage? Guns? Gold? Silver? Heading for the hills?

Jesus messes with us sometimes, like when he says, “If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.” (Luke 9:24)

Back in the day some believers opted out of the self-protection “Rent-a-Horse” program. Instead, they declared, “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. The horse and chariot “

trusters” are brought to their knees and fall. But, we rise up and stand firm.” (Psalm 20:7–8)

That “wild and crazy” Jesus is a bird-watcher and a flower gazer. Even in the middle of plots against his life and under the iron tyranny of the pagan Roman government, he advises, “Consider the birds,” and, “Ponder the flowers.” Crazy!

And, when the end times come Jesus says, “There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, the heavenly bodies will be shaken…and when these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” (Luke 21:25–28)

Where do you look after you’ve watched the news?

Jesus strongly suggests, “Look up! Your redemption is on it’s way!”

“Giv’m heaven!”—John Parker

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PressuresStriving is a must in the old-world. Striving to become, to arrive, and to achieve we measure, calendarize, push, and plan.

Striving gives us a sense of accomplishment, at least until we “run out of gas.” This is the way that seems right to us. We lean on our own understanding. Rushing and striving is the practical and popular and prudent way to “get ahead.”

Sure, sure, Jesus says don’t be concerned about what you are going to eat, drink, and wear. But hey, come on, that was before cars and electricity and cool cellular stuff and the internet.

And, oh yes, Jesus says, look at the lilies and the birds. But again, flowers and birds don’t have credit card payments, let alone houses and lands, insurance, and cable. Let’s get real.

Our big concern needs to be about having enough, surviving, getting by, making ends meet, keeping our heads above water, providing for our children’s dance lessons, college, retirement (our and theirs!) and not embarrassing our loved ones. That’s normal!

That’s how everyone thinks. Even Jesus realized that! (Matthew 6)

And praying “give us this day our daily bread” is a good declaration, but if a person won’t work neither shall he eat so we’d better roll up our sleeves, lay a foundation, get on with “earning” a living and carving out a niche for ourselves in this world. Just do it.

Earthy wisdom agrees. “Practically everything that goes on in the world—wanting our own way, wanting everything for ourselves, wanting to appear important” (1 John 2:16) is a compelling reason for striving and achieving.

In fear we listen to, and with hopeful bravado we echo, the ancient, ambitious, antichrist voice that says, “I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne; I will sit enthroned; I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.” (Isaiah 14:12–14)  Our name be hallowed; our will be done; our kingdom come! In fear we work, strive, worry, toss and turn like the restless sea hoping to become, to arrive, and to succeed—somewhere, anywhere!

Now read Psalm 46:10 in the following four Bible versions:

“Be still, and know that I am God.” (English Standard Version)

“Step out of the traffic! Take a long, loving look at me, your High God, above everything.” (The Message)

“Be still and confess that I am God!” (New American Bible)

“Cease striving and know that I am God.” (New American Standard Bible)

“Be still” is translated from the Hebrew word: RPH and sounds like raw-faw.  Other English words that can be used in place of “Be still” are: be feeble, fail, weaken, fall down, cease, let drop, sink down, relax, withdraw, slack off, forsake, abandon, be quiet, be idle, and even be disheartened.

So let’s live it up! We can now fall apart, slack off, sink down, relax and consider the lilies, and the birds, and actually trust God.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5–6)

“Giv’m heaven!”—John Parker

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Prescriptions for Healing

thumb_green_medical_rx_symbolIf you, or a loved one, are struggling emotionally, relationally, or financially—or if you are physically sick—you consider these prescriptions from the Bible book of James for healing. Let’s read the whole passage then we’ll reflect on some of the key thoughts within it.

James writes, “Is anyone among you suffering? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make them well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” (James 5:13–16)

Here are some of the keys thoughts taken in the order they appear.

“Is anyone among you suffering?”  Suffering here has to do with experiencing evil, afflictions, and hardships especially in ways that affect our emotions, inner peace and well-being. Far from being ashamed or apologetic for sufferings, Paul grew to rejoice in them saying, “When I am weak I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:10)

“Let them pray.” The old poem states, “Loneliness is the voice of Jesus saying, ‘My child come unto me.’” Prayer is having a conversation with God. The Lord coaxes us to sharing with him, by promising, “Draw near to me and I will draw near to you” (James 4:8)

“Is anyone happy?” It’s easy to stray when all is well. It is healthy to focus our happiness toward praise and thanksgiving.

“Let them sing songs of praise.”  This doesn’t mean that you have to know a song from the hymnbook. We can make up the words and sing a little ditty of delight. For sure some form of praise-song is recommended.

“Is anyone among you sick?” Sick means to be “without strength, powerless; to lack strength, be infirm, weak, or feeble.” Sick covers all sorts of weaknesses of body, soul, or spirit.

“Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord.”  I think this is one of the least used yet most powerful health prescriptions in the whole world. Why? Maybe the forces of evil try keep us from it.

“The elders.” Who are the elders. One view has them as church officials. Another view considers them respected fellow-believers. Either way, the command is to call them and I often wonder why we don’t.

“Anoint.” We are not told where to anoint with oil. Perhaps on the forehead because it is the mind’s place or our crown. We may also anoint on the area of suffering if appropriate.

“Oil.” Some would say the oil must be blessed. Others are okay using oil straight out of the pantry. Missionary C.T. Studd was in the middle of Africa when he got deathly ill. He asked his assistant to anoint him with the kerosene lamp oil since that’s all they had. He was soon healed.

Following is Part 2 of 2 columns:

Last week’s column ended with comments about using oil to anoint the sick and weak. Here are thoughts on the phrases and words from the rest of the passage.

“In the name of the Lord.” The anointing of oil is to be administered in the name of the Lord. While most New Testament passages read, “in the name of the Lord Jesus.” James uses just the “name of the Lord” twice: here and regarding the “prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.” (James 5:10)

James appreciated the Jewishness of Christianity. Perhaps he wanted to emphasize healing in the Hebrew name of the Lord—“Yahweh Raphah”— meaning “The Lord your Healer.” (Exodus 15:26)

“And the prayer offered in faith will make them well; the Lord will raise them up.”  Faith is exalted, embedded, and exercised in the actions of anointing and prayer. Nothing fancy—no special effects needed—just faith. Obeying this prescriptive scripture gets the job done.

“If they have sinned, they will be forgiven.” Forgiveness may be automatic based on the anointers’ prayer or it may involve active confession on the part the anointee (recipient). To cover both bases, I usually ask the anointee if they can think of any thing that may have brought on the infirmity, especially any unforgiveness, for there is often a connection of forgiveness to healing. The Bible says, “The Lord…forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases.” (Psalm 103:3)

“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” The anointers and the anointee both have and opportunity for confession here. Thank God for the anointer who finds ways to confess their own weaknesses with the anointee who is confessing to them. This lets the anointee know that the anointer is not magical, special, or superior, but simply a human who believes, just like they do.

“And pray for each other” when we anoint it is fine to ask the one we are praying for to pray for us too.  Again, this keeps the “playing field” level.  There are no greater or lesser, more righteous or unrighteous, people in the kingdom of God—“for there is no difference…” (Romans 3:22)

“The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” Our righteousness is in “the name of the Lord.” We have none of our own. We claim healing through his might name: Yahweh-Raphah!

“Let’s Giv’m heaven!”—John Parker

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Interrupting? Jesus didn’t…verbally.

interrupting“We interrupt this broadcast to bring you a special bulletin!”

“Stop interrupting me! You always do that! Let me finish my thought!”

“Well, get to the point! We don’t have all day! I know what you’re going to say anyway.”

“I don’t mean to interrupt, but…”

Sound familiar?

Interruptions! They happen all the time. Some are helpful and some are not.

Interrupting seems common in close relationships. Sometimes it’s even endearing that we can finish each other’s sentences—while the other person is trying to finish it too.

A mother and her adult daughter asked for a pastoral meeting with me regarding some financial and health challenges they were having. At some point I asked the daughter to share her thoughts.  She was cheerful and articulate, but if she slowed down during her responses her equally cheerful, yet anxious, mother would interrupt and answer for her.

This happened repeatedly. The daughter wouldn’t stop her mother nor was she irritated with her mother for taking over.  Also, the daughter never interrupted the mother.

They declared themselves best friends.  But I left wondering if their closeness and tolerance of the interruptions was contributing to their life challenges.

Why did the mother feel the need to interrupt? And, why do we interrupt?

Some possibilities are: anxiety, arrogance, helpfulness, time, training, culture, and necessity.

Anxiety says, “If I don’t interrupt, this conversation may wander, ramble, or get boring and we’ll never get out of here.”

Arrogance says, “I know what you are trying to say. Plus, I can say it faster and better.”

Helpfulness says, “I can save you from the pain and struggle of finishing your own thoughts so I’ll speak over you and for you.”

Time shouts, “If we don’t interrupt we’ll be here all day. We got a lot to do! Let’s get them to the point.”

Training teaches, “It’s my job as a parent, teacher, or leader to direct this conversation and bring it under control.”

Culture claims, “We’ve always interrupted. That’s just how our family, friends, people are. We know what we’re saying and we are doing just fine. Stop interrupting our familiar, time-honored ways.”

Necessity asserts, “Interrupting saves lives. When someone is being hostile or harsh sometimes it is important to stop them by interrupting. Interrupt by saying their name (Frank! Frank! Frank!…) or title (Sir! Sir! Sir!) over and over until they say “What!?” That will give you a few seconds to make your next life-saving move.”

Finally, Jesus wasn’t a verbal interrupter. I can’t think of a time when he did so. On the other hand he is very effective at interrupting our lives to call us to a better healthier ways.

C.S. Lewis writes, “The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one’s ‘own,’ or ‘real’ life. The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one’s real life — the life God is sending one day by day.” ― The Collected Works of C.S. Lewis.

We interrupt lives full of interruptions to bring you, Jesus! “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” (John 3:17)

“Giv’m heaven!”—John Parker

P.S. I found this online, “Oh, I’m sorry. Did the middle of my sentence interrupt the beginning of yours!”  LOL!


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Are you groaning today? That’s a great sign! Happy Labor Day!

groaning chicks in nestWe Groan because We’ve Grown!

“We groan!” Paul says we do. It is living proof of our growing new life!

Since we are no longer living in illusions and delusions, we are groaning over where we are and longing for a better state. We groan because of what is growing inside of us—new life, adoption as sons and daughters, and eager longing for the setting free of our bodies. (see the Three Groanings of Romans 8:19-26ff)

So we do groan but we groan in hope, knowing that the suffering of now is nothing compared to the glory that shall follow. “In this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling” (2 Corinthians 5:2-5).

So, this unhappiness, this misery, this travail, this discomfort, these labor pains are normal! We are not failures because of them. We part of something much bigger that is coming soon, and the “Holy Something” growing in us can hardly wait!

Meanwhile, Paul declares that we are on assignment and the our “groaning” lives are important down here on earth.  He writes,

“I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.

“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me.

“Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.

“Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me.” (Philippians 1:20–26)

So our assignment down here is not for our comfort, or self-esteem, or sense of success—that is so old school—it is to be useful to and through The Holy Heavenly Family, The Holy Church of Three (The Holy CO3), by living with them now and listening and watching for our ministry to others which they preveniently arrange in advance. (Ephesians 2:10)

I teach this to older adults in “rest homes” who feel forsaken and useless. I talk with them about their assignment and that their usefulness is not always or easily understood or measurable (it never is of course!)

In Jesus Name, I break off the evil spirit of death off of them and call upon them the Holy Spirit’s life that powerfully says, “I will not die but live, and will proclaim what the Lord has done.” (Psalm 118:17) And it works! They get their hope back…at least for a while…then we do it again!

Let’s deny the lying spirits the pleasure of darkening our day!

Let’s go wild and proclaim—“Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes, for false witnesses (false spirits—not flesh and blood, ours or others. Eph. 6:10-12) rise up against me, spouting malicious accusations. I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” (Psalm 27:12–14, TNIV)

Let’s proclaim: “Today is the day! Now is the time! We will not die, but live!”

A useful bonus:

“Mary has chosen the more useful* thing”

“My God will supply all of your usefulness*.”

“My yoke is useful*…”

*Useful =  Stroings5532. χρεία chreía

 Just hit Reply and Share your thoughts with me. Thanks, John Parker

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