What’s a Lizard Doing in a King’s Palace?

wstlnd-green-gecko-351Years ago, I remember my Pastor speaking about Proverbs 30:28, which states, The lizard you may grasp with the hands,
 yet it is in kings’ palaces.’ I thought at the time, “What an obscure verse to base a sermon on!” But as he shared the meaning behind the biblical passage, I understood and was encouraged. But I would’ve never guessed how that message would again resurface in a fun and profound way soon after that service!

I was preparing to leave for my trip to Israel when I was sitting in church listening to this ‘lizard in the palace’ message. The basis of it, was that you never know where God may place you. He might just position you, (as small and seemingly insignificant as you think you are) in the King’s Palace. I immediately thought of Esther. I wondered if, as a young Jewish girl, she ever imagined herself as ‘Queen Esther.’ But there she was, chosen amongst all those beautiful ladies, to be Queen of the mighty Persian Empire! Now, that’s being placed in a position of influence!

Fast-forward two weeks from the sermon; I am touring a miniature model of Jerusalem,

2templ_modelright outside the actual city of Jerusalem. It was a beautifully intricate piece of art, depicting what the Temple would’ve looked like at the time right before it’s destruction in 70 A.D. We could walk all around the temple. We could locate where the Holy of Holies would’ve stood, where the Gentile Court would’ve been, and the covered Portico where all the Israelites walked around, hustling and bustling with their families and friends. I guess the portico would’ve been like our church lobby today- full of activity, people and exuberant conversation.

And then, I spotted an interesting site- the place where the presiding King resided during His stay in Jerusalem.  Just as I was taking a quick photo of the King’s quarters, a small gecko runs into the picture! (Oh, how I wish I could locate that photo once again! If I do, I will add it here!) It was an amazing moment. Instantly, I thought of that sermon I had heard two weeks prior. Was this a prophetic sign to me? I don’t know, but it tickled me. It also gave me confidence to know that if that happened to be my journey and I suddenly found myself in a place of great influence, I could trust that God would be with me and that He put me there for a purpose!

I don’t believe things happen by chance, but sometimes we don’t see these opportunities coming. Just as Esther was put in a royalty position at that important time of history, I believe He can choose to do that with any of us at any time. But there’s always a choice to trust God and be courageous…or not.

Esther’s relative, Mordecai, says to Esther, ‘For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?’ (Esther 4:14)

Esther had to make a choice. Thankfully, Esther sought the Lord’s wisdom and guidance through prayer and fasting before taking action. The result was that her patient, courageous and God-led plan influenced King Xerxes to save the Jewish community living in Persia (which were her relatives and herself, as well) from annihilation! I might add, it also led to the vengeance of their enemies (Haman the Agagate and company).

We are not to think of ourselves as bigger or smaller than we really are. Instead, we are to trust in our God who is bigger than any challenge we may face.  May God be truly glorified in and through our lives!

The Lord is looking to-and-fro for Esthers of the world who will be courageous and trusting wherever He may place them. The great news is, He will never leave us or abandon us when He calls us to stand for Him!

Lucy

photo-1As soon as I sit down in my recliner, I don’t have to finish counting to ten before I hear the pitter patter of our sweet dog’s little paws come bounding into the room and onto my lap. Once she hears the chair click and sees my feet slip into my slippers, she is there! She’s attentive and ready to settle in as soon as I am.

Our dog, Lucy, knows my voice. She gives me eye contact. She loves to please. She never holds a grudge or asks, “Why don’t you give me more attention?” She’s just thankful every time I enter the room.

Lucy knows that ‘all is good’ when she’s next to Mom. She completely trusts me. And if sheIMG_0494 disobeys or recognizes that she has displeased me in any way, her tail disappears between her legs and all she wants to do is make things right with me. She doesn’t argue or rebel. She just humbles herself.

She’s the most loving dog; however, she does have an issue with barking. As soon as the doorbell rings, she flies into a tizzy. Her reaction time to my “No barking!” command is getting quicker, but there’s still work to be done.

The spiritual parallels here are stunning to me. However, they aren’t a perfect illustration, by any means. First of all, the depth of my love and compassion for Lucy isn’t even close to  the Father’s love for me. Honestly, as cuddly as it is to have Lucy next to me, I don’t always accept her request. Sometimes, I just don’t want to make room for her on my lap. (But I do marvel at how she will persistently wiggle her way in to the smallest spot between the armrest and my computer, which is usually dominating my lap space!) How thankful I am that God NEVER rejects my request to be in His Presence and that He always makes ample room for me right by His side! Also, I wish I had the acutely attentive photo-2ears to listen and obey God’s every word and trust Him like Lucy trusts me.

Keep doing your sanctifying work in me, Lord. I pray I will keep my eyes fixed on you, my ears open to your voice and my heart yielded to your holy and loving instruction.

‘Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.’ (Psalm 51:9-11)

‘Apply your heart to instruction and your ears to words of knowledge.’ (Proverbs 23:12)

‘Now, you women, hear the word of the Lord; open your ears to the words of his mouth.’ (Jeremiah 9:20)

Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times.” Then Jesus said, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.” (Mark 4:8-9)

Lucy, celebrating her 7th birthday on Cinco de Mayo!

Lucy, celebrating her 7th birthday on Cinco de Mayo!

 

My Favorite Nickname

photo-3I’ve had many nicknames over my lifetime. My maiden name is McCrady, so I’ve been referred to as Lisa Mac, Little Mac, (my brother was Big Mac!), and McCrazy Legs (something to do with my sloppy gymnastics, I’m sure!). But my favorite, and most endearing nickname, that only my husband is allowed to call me, is (his) ‘rib.’ (Hey, maybe I should be called ‘McRib!’ Now, that’s funny!)

‘Rib’ might sound like a very strange nickname, but if you are familiar with the Genesis two chapter story of how and why God created a woman for Adam, it makes perfect sense!

Genesis 2:19-24:

‘The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals. But for Adam no suitable helper was found. So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called ‘woman,’
for she was taken out of man.” That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.’

The marriage union between one man and one woman was created by God, not man. And while our culture may attempt to redefine its definition, God’s Word will not change what God has already established at the time of Creation.

I love this quote by Matthew Henry, a Christian writer in the early 1700’s:

‘Eve was not taken out of Adam’s head to top him, neither out of his feet to be trampled on by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected by him, and near his heart to be loved by him.’

God knew what he was doing when he put a man and woman together. The two sexes compliment each other and marriage is a beautiful picture of Christ and His Bride, the Church. Earthly  marriage is never perfect, and at times, it can be the hardest thing to make work! But this relationship is a context in which we learn and live out the virtues of love, forgiveness and the fruit of the Spirit.

I Corinthians 13:4-7

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.’

Galatians 5:22:

‘But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.’

I am thankful I have a life partner to take on challenges together. Often, my husband and I pick each other up and ‘watch each other’s back’ when we need a defender or helper. Here’s a simple and whimsical case in point…

Each and every Monday morning, I hear the garbage trucks zoom by and yell in full panic (still in my pj’s, I might add), “Shoot, I forgot to put the trash cans out again!” Then Mike calmly gives me the “I got it” smile.

Yes, in this household, two heads are better than one- especially when someone is married to a scatter-brain like me!

Ecclesiasties 4:9:

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.”

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If I Were the Devil

Video

The late, great Paul Harvey gave an eerily prophetic message in 1965 about the spiritual battle being waged in our nation.

‘Finally, let the Lord make you strong. Depend on his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor. Then you can stand firm against the devil’s evil plans. Our fight is not against human beings. It is against the rulers, the authorities and the powers of this dark world. It is against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly world.

So put on all of God’s armor. Evil days will come. But you will be able to stand up to anything. And after you have done everything you can, you will still be standing.

So stand firm. Put the belt of truth around your waist. Put the armor of godliness on your chest. Wear on your feet what will prepare you to tell the good news of peace. Also, pick up the shield of faith. With it you can put out all of the flaming arrows of the evil one. Put on the helmet of salvation. And take the sword of the Holy Spirit. The sword is God’s word.

At all times, pray by the power of the Spirit. Pray all kinds of prayers. Be watchful, so that you can pray. Always keep on praying for all of God’s people.’ (Ephesians 6:10-18)
(New International Reader’s Version)

Staying On Course

This week, my husband reached an important milestone. He passed his pilot’s test! So in honor of my “Top Gun’s’ great achievement, I would like to share these thoughts with you…

images-8A pilot knows he/she cannot allow being off the exact heading (or desired direction or course). The plane will automatically drift and will eventually end up several miles off course in just minutes if careful attention is not paid to the aircraft instruments. The pilot could peak out the window for visual cues down on Earth but it can look deceptive from 5,000 feet up. It’s best to check the airplane instruments to get an accurate measure of where the plane is and where it is headed.

Some other dangers a pilot might run into are stormy weather, mechanical problems or unexpected air traffic. But a skilled pilot is trained to handle all these scenarios beforehand if he ever finds himself in trouble. And a wise pilot knows that if there is any sign of a coming storm, the best plan of action is to avoid it if possible.  Also, learning to communicate with the air traffic controllers below is crucial!

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If we go through life without reading God’s Word consistently or fail to stay in constant communication with Him, and just react to circumstances in life by what we see, we will eventually drift off course more than we think we will! Even small errors will grow into bigger ones later if not corrected right away. God’s Word guides our flight of life. He sets the course and equips us for safe travels.

God will always provide us a way out of trouble if we call on Him! He is faithful to answer our distress calls. But as the saying goes, ‘God wants to be our first responder not our last resort.’ We need to learn life’s training manual thoroughly. No, we can’t always be prepared for every single circumstance in life that comes our way, but we can prepare ourselves ahead of time for turbulent times. And we can trust our faithful Life Instructor, His Manual, His instruments and His Voice to bring us through any difficulty until we land safely!

‘All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness…’ (2 Timothy 3:16)

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.’  (1 Corinthians 10:13)

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
 and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.’  (Proverbs 3:5-6)

‘Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.’   (Psalm 119:105)

Coffee Mugs

Coffee Mugs

Selecting a coffee mug is a morning ritual of mine. It kind of sets the tone for the rest of the day. Every mug I own has a sentimental meaning to me. My Husker mug reminds me of my own college years; and now, it also reminds me of my son, who just finished his freshmen year there. My Maryland Terps mug reminds me of my daughter and her future school. I have a Minnesota Wild hockey mug which reminds me of my northern roots. I have a couple scriptural mugs and others that I bought on trips to Hawaii and Mexico. So, whatever mood I’m in, I choose my mug accordingly. I know, it sounds a bit OCD!

This reminded me of our pastor’s recent sermon on the roles of the wife and mother in the home. The sermon was titled, “Happy Wife, Happy Life!” Pastor Jack Graham compared wives/moms to the thermostat of the home. She sets the temperature for everything and everyone who lives there. It’s a big responsibility, if you think about it. When I consider my roles as wife and mom, it makes me more intentional about how I start my day. Is my mind focused on the right things? Am I prepared to serve my family with my whole being? I know that if I start the day wrong, it really does affect everybody! So, if choosing the right coffee mug helps me get set correctly, than so be it!

Then the next thing I do is set up my devotional space. Bible. Check. Writing Journal and pen. Check. ‘Jesus Calling’ devotional. Check. Filled coffee mug. Check. It is now time to kick start my day with a little caffeine and a lot of God’s Word and Holy Spirit inspiration!

‘By doing this they will teach the younger women to love their husbands and children. They will teach them to be wise and pure, to take care of their homes, to be kind, and to be willing to serve their husbands. Then no one will be able to criticize the teaching God gave us.’ (Titus 2:4-5, ERV)

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,(2 Tim 3:16)

‘May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.’ (Psalm 19:14)

‘but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God. (1 Pet 3:4)

May God bless your day today!

(To listen to Pastor Jack Graham’s excellent message, ‘Happy Wife! Happy Life!,’ please go to http://www.prestonwood.org/plano/)

Jerusalem Day!

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Today is Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Day). Jerusalem Day is the 46th  anniversary of the liberation and unification of Jerusalem during the Six-Day War. Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, now and forever!!!

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In 2004, my husband and I had the privilege of marching in solidarity with the Jewish people in the Jerusalem Day parade (in Jerusalem). We started our parade walking down their ‘main street,’ Ben Jehudah Street. Shofars blowing, people cheering and clapping, dancers dancing and Israeli flags waving. What a proud and joyful experience to be a part of!

We spent two weeks in Israel with a Christian organization, Bridges For Peace. We were Scan 85there for an intensive training program; learning from Jewish, Christian and Arab experts, visiting historical and modern day sites and experiencing the traditions of the Israeli culture. Being in the homeland of our Jewish Messiah, Yeshua, and getting to know ‘his family,’ the Jewish people, was an unforgettable Scan 87experience for us. There are few places in this world that you can stand in the very place where Scripture was written! Our Jerusalem Day parade concluded at the Western Wall- the outer wall of where the Temple stood. Why is Jerusalem still significant today? Because Jesus the Messiah will one day return to Jerusalem to reign over the whole Earth! (For more information about this topic, please read Dr. David R. Reagan’s excellent article at http://lamblion.com/articles/articles_second1.php)

 “I am going to make Jerusalem a cup that sends all the surrounding peoples reeling. Judahwill be besieged as well as Jerusalem.  On that day, when all the nations of the earth are gathered against her, I will make Jerusalem an immovable rock for all the nations. All who try to move it will injure themselves.” (Zechariah 12:2-3)

In honor of Jerusalem Day, we ask that you join us in PRAYING for the peace of Jerusalem.

View this miraculous video of this day in 1967! Amazing footage of the liberation of Jerusalem 46 years ago today:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=__f3-j_2DN0

(Translation of the Hebrew audio)

“We are entering through Lion’s Gate”
“We are in the old city!”
“The Temple Mount is in our hands!”
“Blessed are You LORD our God who builds Jerusalem”
Sound of the shofar — ritual trumpet.

For more information about Jewish-Christian relationships and the biblical connections, please go to this blog: http://teachisrael.org/category/blog/

Rock of Remembrance

Today, May 7th, marks the 25th Anniversary of my father-in-law’s passing. I had the wonderful opportunity of meeting him just two weeks prior to his sudden departure from this life.  I take pause today, reflecting on my very brief, but special visit with Mike’s dad, Bob. It is a memory I will cherish in my heart all the days of my life.

photo-3It was late April and the best college men’s gymnastics teams from across the nation were gathered in Lincoln, Nebraska for the NCAA Championships. Mike’s parents came to town to watch their son and his Husker team contend for another title. See, their program had been a dynasty in the late 70’s/early 80’s, winning five national crowns in a row (’79-’84). But it took another four years to recapture their dominance once again. It was now 1988. I was a freshman and Mike was a (redshirt) junior. The guys had steadily increased up the rankings all season. They were primed for a victory. In previous years, Nebraska had been picked to win, but had come up short by the slightest margin- tenths of a point some years. They were hungry and more focused this time. They had the talent, as they did every year, but their determination to win on their own turf was stronger.

Well, long story short, they won in dramatic fashion. And following the competition was the traditional ‘after meet party’ where gymnasts from all the schools, coaches, judges, families and friends all gathered to have a fun night together. Mike was half of the ‘Dude J’s’ DJ team with his fellow teammate, Neil. Mike ran the music for the event while Neil was the front guy entertaining the crowd. They were the perfect match! While Mike was busy at the soundboard, I was socializing with his parents. I don’t know what came over me, but I spontaneously asked his dad if he wanted to dance with me! He responded, “I’m not much of a dancer, but okay.” So, I took him by the hand and pulled him out onto the dance floor. He was a good sport! I didn’t make him suffer out there too long, I promise. We enjoyed the rest of their visit then they headed back to Oklahoma.

Two weeks later, we were celebrating the graduation of his friend, Neil. We were playing volleyball at the host family’s home when we received the sad news about Mike’s dad. His mom had called and said Bob had died of a sudden heart attack. We were shell-shocked. It was decision time for us. Of course, Mike was going to head home immediately. But school was out and I had planned to drive home to Minnesota the next day- just in time for my birthday on May 10th. But I just felt it was the right thing to do to accompany Mike home. It would’ve been a long car ride by himself. So, we both packed our bags and hit the road.

Mike’s two sisters and his extended family had all gathered at his mom’s house. One of his sisters, who is just 15 months older than Mike, seemed to take it the worst. I felt a bit awkward there. I wanted to be an encouragement to Mike, but it was strange meeting his whole family for the first time under these circumstances. I tried to help serve but stay out of the way.

It was now the day before the funeral, which happened to be my birthday. I had just gotten ready for the day and was planning on going with his family to the church to finish some service arrangements. As I came downstairs, I found the house empty. I thought they had all left without me! But then I turned my head and glanced out the window into the backyard. There they all were. Gathered around a table with a beautiful cake and a wrapped present. In an instant acapella chorus, they began singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to me! I was deeply touched by their thoughtfulness- especially at this sensitive time. As I later discovered, his sisters planned the whole thing. What an amazing example to me to see how God can work through pain and turn a sober moment into a celebration! I do believe that with the sorrow they felt in their hearts, a peace was also there. Bob knew the Lord and they could celebrate his life with joy, knowing that they would once again be reunited with him in heaven one day. He had only 51 years on this Earth, but his life with Christ and the impact he made on others’ lives for the sake of Christ will be celebrated for all eternity! May God be glorified above all!

1259384992mo97koIt is a biblical custom to place a ‘rock of remembrance’ on the grave of a loved one. Today, I place a rock on Bob’s grave in my heart. I look forward to the day we will see him again at our Heavenly home. Maybe he’s been practicing his dance steps and will ask me to twirl around the dance floor with him!

Thank you, Lord, for giving me that precious opportunity to meet Bob and to see the love of Jesus that filled that family’s home. Thank you, that in the midst of our pain, you comfort us and give us hope and peace.

‘Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.’ (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

Holy Bootcamp, Robin!

I believe every blogger probably begins with a burning in their soul to share with the world something that is precious to them. What compels our souls to speak out? So much so, that we know if we don’t, the rocks will shout out? Well, I know what it is for me….

In 20-plus years of knowing my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, I have stood upon tall mountaintops and have crawled through dark valleys. But in the past five or so years of my walk, complacency began taking a toll on me. I believe God put me through a month-long spiritual bootcamp recently to get me back into proper shape. He needed to 11017670-young-woman-hiking-at-the-forestbring me to a deeper trust in Him so I could battle through any future life terrain with more strength, endurance and dependence on Him.  This ‘bootcamp’ period had followed a long and painful season of trials and emotional fallout. And what preceded that time, was a season of loneliness. I spiraled downward. My marriage was struggling, as well as my relationships with my kids, neighbors and others. I was just discouraged and angry all the time. I was plain lost. I think I actually forgot where I was going. But it didn’t happen all at once. See, once Satan got my eyes off Jesus, my Hiking Guide,  just long enough, I started experiencing spiritual vertigo. I couldn’t make sense of direction anymore. My new comfort was hiding my head under my backpack, hoping I could just sit there for awhile…..

Reality set in regarding how off course I really was. It was time to get face to face with the depth of my lostness. And how could I deal with this, while at the same time, I was seeing the fearful holiness of God peaking out behind that mountain? It was almost too much to © Copyright 2012 CorbisCorporationbear. I wanted to run. But where would I go? I wanted Jesus. But I didn’t know if I could trust that He’d still be there to lead me. I was the one who left Him.  I know what you’re thinking…. “Why did you doubt God’s character? He’s forgiving. Why wouldn’t He accept you back this time?” Believe me, I asked myself those questions many times! I had told thousands of people over the years of God’s amazing grace through Jesus Christ. Would He not extend it to me once again, as well? But my hang-up was not really with God. It was with me. I felt hypocritical and I had to trust that His love for me was still more than my own depravity. I didn’t doubt my eternal salvation in Him, but could I really ever get back to where I was before I got lost?

This is where the character of God blows me away. See, I do think God needed me to go to the edge of that mountain just to get a peak at my lostness on that big mountain. Not so I would fall, but to see things the way He saw them. I do know, as scary as it was, God was gripping me tight. And I promise you, I was clinging to Him with all my might! I hated what I saw in my inner being. I hated how I stopped trusting His leadership in my life and willingly turned and went my own way. But all I could do at this point was trust that greater was He that was in me than the sin that so easily entangled me! He knew my heart. He knew my sin, whether in thought or deed. He knew my desperation to get right with Him again. I just had to trust Him.

God knows how I struggle! I am not under any delusion about the ‘potential’ of my sinful nature. God keeps me in check every day about that. No, He doesn’t throw it in my face. It’s just that now I better understand the depth of His Amazing Grace and how absolutely necessary it is for me to never lose sight of my Heavenly Guide!

One more important step I needed to take was to put down my burdensome backpack that was filled with expectations, bitterness, trials and disappointment. Jesus said in Matthew 11:28-30, ‘Come to me, all of you who are tired and are carrying heavy loads. I will give you rest. Become my servants and learn from me. I am gentle and free of pride. You will find rest for your souls.  Serving me is easy, and my load is light.’ The Apostle Paul says in Ephesians 4:31,  ‘Get rid of all hard feelings, anger and rage. Stop all fighting and lying. Put away every form of hatred. 32 Be kind and tender to one another. Forgive each other, just as God forgave you because of what Christ has done.’

I will end by saying that God did not bring me back to that place I was before my trials set in. No, He launched me up that mountain to a better place than I could ever imagine! God proved that no matter how big my downfall seems to be, He is always BIGGER!!! ‘You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done…’ (Genesis 50:20)

I am so incredibly thankful that He loved me enough to forgive me and refresh me with a bottle of Living Water at that point of spiritual dehydration. So it’s time to climb some more…but in His strength and power, not mine!

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‘ I can do all this through him who gives me strength.’ (Philippians 4:13)

‘Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.’ (Ephesians 3:20-21)