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Jesus, i pray that You would write Your message upon our hearts that we might speak life, hope, destiny and purpose into these young people
i pray that You would open their eyes to the reality of Your love and greatness, that they would find their greatest satisfaction in You. i pray that they would know who they are in You, what their giftings are and what You have called them to do and be. that they would be secure in purpose and confident in serving, empowered by the Holy Spirit.
i pray that we would have lots of fun and that you would build community amongst us, that we would create lifelong friendships and be open with one another, able to challenge honestly, encourage lavishly and walk through life together.
i pray we would learn well, that we would love Your Word and love Your presence. teach us new ways to communicate with You, to connect with You, to communicate with each other and to follow hard after Your ways and Kingdom.
“Instead of hiding from the world or being overwhelmed by the evil of it, we need to strengthen our spiritual cores and trust in the power of the spirit at work in us.”
~ Christine Caine
"God guarantees that His Word will not return void. He doesn’t guarantee that the return will be immediate. Keep sowing." – Steven Furtick
i posted the above quote on our housegoup fb wall the other day.
funnily i then got this email: from public life trust aka some spam
Claire, how are you growing? Plan ahead to make sure everything flourishes Just like your garden, in life it pays to plan ahead so that everything comes to fruition.
the email is about life insurance or trusts or something like that – i wasn’t overly interested but that first line had caught my eye. it lined up with what our awesome mums group leader had shared this morning (though i wasn’t there, we were talking about it later) from 2 corinthians 9:8
And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.
isn’t that cool.
God is so good. He is so gracious. Abounding in love and mercy.
and He makes all grace abound to us, at all times, in all seasons, no matter what.
we’ve got to keep sowing.
we’ve got to keep planting.
we’ve got to keep watering.
we’ve got to keep walking forward.
"in the future you will walk out in the fruit of your faithfulness" kim walker smith
there are times when sowing is hard. when ministry is hard. when life is hard. when you’re pressed on all sides.
in those times we so need to know the love and grace and peace of God.
we need His comfort and hope.
we need to know that He is at work, always, and will make ALL grace abound to you, so that in ALL things, at ALL times, you will have ALL you need so you can abound in every good work. He is able to accomplish His Word. He is able to accomplish His promises. He is able to accomplish His call.
so, how are you growing?
all week i’ve been reading things that encourage me to run WITH God. 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 jumped out at me as i read my bible last night.
1 Corinthians 9:24-27
You know that many runners enter a race, and only one of them wins the prize. So run to win! Athletes work hard to win a crown that cannot last, but we do it for a crown that will last forever. I don’t run without a goal. And I don’t box by beating my fists in the air. I keep my body under control and make it my slave, CEV
Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, NKJV
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last for ever.Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave NIV
you’ve all been to the stadium and seen the athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win. All good athletes train hard. They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You’re after one that’s gold eternally. I don’t know about you, but I’m running hard for the finish line. I’m giving it everything I’ve got. No sloppy living for me! I’m staying alert and in top condition. MSG
You know that only one person gets a crown for being in a race even if many people run. You must run so you will win the crown. Everyone who runs in a race does many things so his body will be strong. He does it to get a crown that will soon be worth nothing, but we work for a crown that will last forever. In the same way, I run straight for the place at the end of the race. I fight to win. I do not beat the air.I keep working over my body. I make it obey me. NLT
we are in a race : life and following can be described as a race – it has a set course and a set finish line
we run for a prize : though we are saved by grace and cannot repay our salvation or earn anything, God does promise rewards for those who serve well and obey
run to win : we must make a choice to run the right race the right way, fixing our eyes on the finish line and running with purpose
our prize is priceless : we don’t run for a trophy but for eternal rewards
run with direction : direction determines destination – we must run to the finish line that GOD has set, not an imaginary finish line
disciplined to win : runners make choices that increase their opportunity to win, they exercise and eat right, likewise we need to make choices that set us up for success
purposed to win : we don’t run aimlessly but we run with purpose and passion, knowing that winning and finishing is really the only thing that matters. we are not distracted by by other things around us but have purpose.
Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but [only] one receives the prize? So run [your race] that you may lay hold [of the prize] and make it yours.Now every athlete who goes into training conducts himself temperately and restricts himself in all things. They do it to win a wreath that will soon wither, but we [do it to receive a crown of eternal blessedness] that cannot wither.Therefore I do not run uncertainly (without definite aim). I do not box like one beating the air and striking without an adversary. But [like a boxer] I buffet my body [handle it roughly, discipline it by hardships] and subdue it, AMP
**** love love love YOU’RE ALREADY AMAZING by Holley Gerth… the chapter on “what’s your emotional style” so clicked with me… i dont know whether it was a fashion/shopping thing or the fact that as a mums group (and the women from our young adults housegroup) we’ve been going through UNGLUED by lysa terkeurst so i’m more hyper aware of ways to articulate emotionals and emotional transformations… nothing says it better than an extreme makeover!
we all have an emotional style… a one of a kind, complex way of showing our hearts to the world. imagine i pick you and a friend up and take you to your favourite shop. as you walk through the door i say “surprise! i’m sending you on a shopping spree. you both get to pick an outfit. there’s only one rule – it has to reflect you.” while you and your friend might have a lot in common, you’re most likely to get something entirely different. maybe you’re a “jeans a t-shirt” kind of girl while she heads right over to the pumps and pearls. even if you choose something similar you’ll probably pick out a different colour or size. what if i took you to another store, but this time it was filled with emotional expressions instead of clothes? the same thing would probably happen. your friend might feel totally comfortable in bold yellow joy while you feel more at home in the laid back blue of peace. there would be all kinds of reasons why you made your choices, ranging from where you grew up and what you were taught in church, to how your brain is wired. God, the ultimate designer, has custom created an emotional wardrobe for you. and its beautiful. ~ Holley Gerth // You’re Already Amazing page 60
each one of us thinks our normal is THE normal. our way of life, responses, and yes, emotions make sense to us. but ultimately, our reality has to be tested against God’s ways of doing things. ~ Holley Gerth // You’re Already Amazing page 65
it may be just that once made sense no longer works now. its time for a new emotional fitting! you may have responses in your emotional closet you “outgrew” years ago. ~ Holley Gerth // You’re Already Amazing page 67
its one of the great mysteries of womanhood that we all have moments when we stand in our closet, look at our clothes, and still think “i’ve got nothing to wear”. and i’ve got a confession: its bee one of those weeks for me emotionally. when that happens, its time for an emotional style check. ~ Holley Gerth // You’re Already Amazing page 70
Thankfully God’s promises give us something better to wear. ~ Holley Gerth // You’re Already Amazing page 72
what’s one emotional style you’ve learned from your upbringing that you want to keep?
what’s one you’ve outgrown and need to replace with God’s way of doing things instead?
***** notes from my preach this morning @ The River
The word of the Lord came to Jonah ‘Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.’ But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord.
Then the Lord sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up. All the sailors were afraid and each cried out to his own god. And they threw the cargo into the sea to lighten the ship.
But Jonah had gone below deck, where he lay down and fell into a deep sleep. The captain went to him and said, ‘How can you sleep? Get up and call on your god! Maybe he will take notice of us so that we will not perish.’
Then the sailors said to each other, ‘Come, let us cast lots to find out who is responsible for this calamity.’ They cast lots and the lot fell on Jonah. So they asked him, ‘Tell us, who is responsible for making all this trouble for us? What kind of work do you do? Where do you come from? What is your country? From what people are you?’
He answered, ‘I am a Hebrew and I worship the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.’
This terrified them and they asked, ‘What have you done?’ (They knew he was running away from the Lord, because he had already told them so.)
The sea was getting rougher and rougher. So they asked him, ‘What should we do to you to make the sea calm down for us?’
‘Pick me up and throw me into the sea,’ he replied, ‘and it will become calm. I know that it is my fault that this great storm has come upon you.’
Instead, the men did their best to row back to land. But they could not, for the sea grew even wilder than before. Then they cried out to the Lord, ‘Please, Lord, do not let us die for taking this man’s life. Do not hold us accountable for killing an innocent man, for you, Lord, have done as you pleased.’ Then they took Jonah and threw him overboard, and the raging sea grew calm. At this the men greatly feared the Lord, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows to him.
Now the Lord provided a huge fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.
Running From God
First lets all get on the same page here, we are all JONAH. We’ve shared his thoughts and we’ve made similar decisions. We’ve run from God, we’ve gotten angry at Him and we’ve chosen our own way.
He’s said one thing and we’ve done the opposite.
He’s said go and we’ve said no.
He’s said stop and we’ve put our fingers in our ears.
He has set the standard and we’ve compromised lower.
Let me tell you one thing I’ve learned, in my brief life, I may not understand WHY God is saying something, but He is God and I am not. His go has all of His eternal wisdom and insight behind it. His no has all of His eternal wisdom and insight behind it. God sees the big picture.
We may not have hopped on a boat to tarnish… but we all have our different escape routes…
But the good news is though Jonah ran from God, God never left Jonah
In a good way you can never escape the presence of God.
He loves you too greatly. His love never fails, it never gives up, it never runs out on me. Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ.
If you are saved, if you believe in Jesus Christ as your Saviour, He will never let you go. You may run for the hills and rebel and live in complete opposite to His ways, but He is your Father. He doesn’t unadopt His kids.
Now there is a lot of conjecture about whether it was it a fish or a whale that swallowed Jonah ? To me it doesn’t matter as it was in the right place at the right time. God provides a way where there seems none.
The whale was God’s rescue mission to save Jonah… Imagine the slush and the filth and the acid and the dead fish! The whale is like the worst worst worst case scenario you could be in. Now we know the end of the story, we know Jonah gets spat out and lands back on the beach… but Jonah has no idea of this. Any moment could be his last breath.
God has personal holiness programme. Our happiness is on His agenda too, God does want you to experience joy and peace and hope and life – but in within the boundaries He, our loving Father sets. He is at work shaping us to make us more like Jesus. Because He knows that is good for us, our best life. But we, even as Christians, forgiven, given a new life, transformed have this part within us that runs after things that will never satisfy, that are hurtful, that will only end in brokenness and heartbreak. And that includes trying harder. You know, everyone has their own distinctive running style. I saw a photo of my brother, who had done really well in a half marathon and I was “oh my goodness! He runs just like dad”! They have this arm thing they do that means I could spot dad from the finish line a couple of hundred metres away. We all run our own way. For some of us running from God involves getting into wild living, drugs, alcohol, partying, or into wrong relationships, serial dating, or into climbing the corporate ladder or blatant disobedience. Anything to fill the void. But sometimes running includes looking like a good church person on the outside but there is something not connected on the inside. I read this great quote last night:
“Why do people persist in their self-destructive behaviour, ignoring the blatant fact that what they’ve been doing for many years hasn’t solved their problems? They think that they need to do it even more fervently or frequently, as if they were doing the right thing but simply had to try even harder.”
Instead of running FROM God we need to RUN to God.
From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God. He said: ‘In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me. From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help, When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, Lord, and my prayer rose to you.” Jonah 2
So how do we stop running?
1. STOP: Like Jonah we’ve got to stop – and acknowledge that we’re running. We’ve got to put our hand up and get real. This is an open invitation. You might be 3 steps out the door, 3 miles down the road, 3 days in the belly of a whale. But the invitation is there. Our God is compassionate and merciful.
Let me tell you, you are never too far away from God. Jonah was in the belly of a whale. He had run as far as you could away from the will of God. He was a prophet – his job was to hear from God and he stuck his fingers in his ears and rebelled.
2. IDENTIFY: Jonah was identified by lot as the cause of the massive storm. And then he gave answer to the sailors questions. What kind of work do you do? Where do you come from? What is your country? From what people are you?’ They asked. Jonah answered, ‘I am a Hebrew and I worship the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.’ This terrified them and they asked, ‘What have you done?’ (They knew he was running away from the Lord, because he had already told them so.) Just as Jonah identified what the problem was, we identify the running behaviour and contributing factors. Identify what it is standing in the way of your obedience. Then kill it.
Is there rebellion in our life? Disobedience? Are we living more into the shadows than in the light? Are we skipping church? Are we avoiding certain people? Ie caller id
But again more importantly, identify what God says about you – you’re His beloved child, He has a plan and a purpose for you, His mercies never fail, nothing can separate us from His love.
3. CHANGE: We’ve got to change that behaviour, repent, make a lifestyle change, make relational changes, do whatever needs to be done to get back on the right road. The sailors asked Jonah what they should do. Now, most of us will not have such a drastic response such as “toss me in the sea” but we may have to make some radical changes to realign ourselves with the purposes and will of God.
And let me tell you, its worth it. Its worth it to walk with God, it’s worth it to follow His ways, its worth it to be in relationship with Him. Somewhere along the way we’ve dumbed God down to an lifestyle optional extra – full cream, extra sugar and Jesus please. But wow, we can have relationship with God! Jesus died on the cross to set us free from guilt and open the door to supernatural reality and connection with the amazing creator of the universe! That’s like winning every jackpot of every lotto in every country every day of the week plus infinity plus one.
From what I have learned in life if I put anything up on a scale vs God – God wins every time.
Who knows what we might be missing by running from what could very well be God’s means of steering us towards the most magnificent outcome of our lives. Priscilla Shirer
When GOD Ran
In Luke 15 Jesus tells the story of a man who has two sons. The younger son asks his father to give him his portion of the family estate as an early inheritance. Once received, the son promptly sets off on a long journey to a distant land and begins to waste his fortune on wild living. When the money runs out, a severe famine hits the country and the son finds himself in dire circumstances. He takes a job feeding pigs. He is so destitute that he even longs to eat the food assigned to the pigs.
The young man finally comes to his senses, remembering his father. In humility, he recognizes his foolishness, decides to return to his father and ask for forgiveness and mercy. The father who had been watching and waiting, receives his son back with open arms of compassion. He is overjoyed by the return of his lost son! Immediately the father turns to his servants and asks them to prepare a giant feast in celebration.
So the younger son goes off, parties it up, looses it all. So he decides, at his lowest, the whale belly moment so to speak, that he will return home. He stops running and identifies what the problem is and makes a change to put things right with his father.
He leaves the pig pen and begins the journey home. One step at a time. Bracing himself for whatever he would receive when he got home. He left in style, he arrives, in sty.
But watch what happens when he comes in sight. His Father is there, watching from afar. He is keeping a lookout for his son. He hasn’t given up. While the son was a long way off, his father saw him coming. And he ran.
Now we think, that’s nice. The father ran.
But put it in a cultural context here. Middle Eastern men didn’t run. Especially middle aged Middle Eastern men. Ever. It was undignified. Unacceptable. But this father ran.
It says so much about the love the father felt for his son. Extravagant lavish love, so much so that he ran, he forgot about his social standing and social rules and expressed with his whole self how glad he was his son was home.
He saw his son, was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms round him and kissed him. He bear hugs him. Everything he does speaks love.
Remember, the son left in style, but arrived back weary, dirty. He is malnourished. Probably ill looking. Smelling of pigs. Smelling of sweat. He hasn’t probably washed in at least a week, and I’m being generous. He would have slept on the ground. No morning hygiene routine. No toothpaste! He has walked from wherever to here. His feet would reek and you might not even be able to tell what colour his skin is by the ground in layers of dirt.
Yet his father looks beyond that and sees his son and cant get close enough to him. He kisses the dirt. He kisses the stinky son.
Oh and then the son remembers his speech. The one that he has rehearsed in his head with every step closer to home.
Father, I’ve messed up, I’m no longer worthy to be your son…” midspeech his dad stops him.
Worthy? Worthy? Stop right there!
We have 2 kids, Caleb aged 11 and Evangeline aged 7. They’re great kids. But there is never a time we’d disown them. As soon as they were “there” inside me, they were mine and I was their mum. We share blood and dna that can never be extracted. Sure we’d like them to be good kids and grow into great adults and live a life pleasing to God and us but the reality is, they’re our kids. They’re McLean’s whether they like it or not.
Ephesians 2:8-9 says “for by grace you have been saved through faith and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”
Being a child of God is not based on our performance but upon what Jesus did on the cross.
My worthiness isn’t based on anything I can earn or do. I have nothing to boast about apart from the grace and mercy of God, demonstrated in Jesus upon the cross, that while I was still rebellious and running away, Jesus died for me to rescue me.
We are all that son. We are all like Jonah. We have run away from God. We have ignored Him and rebelled against Him. But the invitation of God is to come home. And there He is, watching from afar, filled with compassion, ready to run.
For me that moment happened 20 years go. On Wednesday I celebrated 20 years as a Christian.
I grew up in what could be called a semi religious home. my mum took us to the catholic church. i made my first communion and confirmation. my dad stayed at home and cooked amazing roast lunches. i DID really want to know God though and there are several experiences that i know have shaped my faith, expression and relationship with God from childhood but church was boring and irrelevant. In saying that I follow the new pope on twitter and he says some awesome stuff about Jesus!
In early teens though I decided that God must not be real, as He didn’t seem to be “there” – so I figured I would live my life without the “hassle” of thinking about Him and “His laws” (very catholic way of thinking) and so did that. i chose to live my own life my own way.
Our family moved quite a bit and when I was 15 we moved from Gore (the 5th place I’d lived already)… where I went from a 300 student co-ed school to Blenheim, where I had to go to a 1000+ all girls school! Talk about freak out! It was major culture shock! one of my new friends then casually asked me during classics class if i would like to go to youth group with her. I went along with her one night for one reason and one reason only. There were boys there! Great reason for going to youth group eh lol!
Anyway on that first night someone PRAYED and I KNEW God was REAL and I knew I wanted to know Him. i had seen people pray my whole life when i went to church with mum – and this was like it was real, and that he was really talking to a real God, that i could know, not far away, but near and personal, and not grumpy and angry, but loving and filled with grace.
so i went along to easter camp and i think for the first time heard clearly about who Jesus is and why he died on the cross and that you could have peace with God, peace on the inside.
i went forward when they asked if anyone would like to give their lives to God and had what can only be called a supernatural experience. i felt God. i felt a warmth and a heat that couldnt be explained by the room i was in. i felt happy and peace. i felt loved. i knew that i had crossed a line, that 10 minutes before i was not a christian but then all of a sudden i was.
God loves you. Just as He ran towards me, He runs towards you.
Running WITH God: Perspective
Jonah ran because had a different perspective from God. When God called Jonah to preach to Ninevah Jonah disagreed with God’s perspective.
A bit of background: NINEVEH was the famous capital of ancient Assyria in seventh century BC, a economic and trade hub for the Assyrian empire. Its ruins can be found in modern day iraq. It was also famous in the ancient world because it was a centre for the worship of Ishtar (Astarte) the fertility goddess. The Assyrians brought many scientific, philosophical and practical advances to humanity including many inventions that we take for granted today. Everyday most of us lock our doors when we leave the house, locks and keys were invented in Assyria. They also invented a system that kept time and ascribed 360 degrees to a circle. They are given credit for inventing paved roads, the first postal system, the first use of iron, the first libraries, the first plumbing, flush toilets and aqueducts.
Jonah saw Nineveh as a barbaric terrorist state – the Assyrians were their worst enemy – but God looked at Nineveh and marked them for repentance and salvation.
Just as in Hosea 1 it says about the people of Israel – In the place where it was said to them, “You are not my people”, they will be called “children of the living God”. Hosea 1:10
In a way Jonah looked at Nineveh and said THEY ARE NOT MY PEOPLE. That’s not my calling! They are not my target demographic! I don’t relate to them! I have nothing in common with them! I am not going to THEM!
No darkness is too dark for God to shine His light in.
God calls things differently than you call them because He sees things differently than you see them.
Are you seeing your situation the way God does?
What is God’s perspective on your past? Do you see yourself the same way?
What does God say about your workplace? You are positioned there to be salt and light
When you’re screaming hopeless can you hear the heartbeat of God declaring hope?
What is God saying about your family? What strategy has He given you to repair your marriage?
Who or what is your Ninevah?
Will you let your perspective line up with Gods… and then what will you do about that?
Recalibrating . . . My eyes to His vision, my ears to His speaking, my heart to His heart’s beating.
So what do you do when God calls you and everything within you screams RUN in the opposite direction?
1. STOP. I saw a funny picture the other day on facebook, and I’m not sure if its true or not, in my vast experience of facing off against wild bears in the wild, but it was of a guy playing dead on the ground when a big brown bear is sniffing around him. Like I said, no experience bear hunting, so I googled. And yes. If faced with a bear in the wild, apart from all the obvious things like STAY AWAY, you should lie facedown, to protect all your vital parts and protecting your neck with your hands laced behind the neck. Apparently the bear will think you’re not fresh and walk away. There you go, you learned something. But, segway here, when faced with the freak out moments from God we should stop.
Stop and breathe.
Stop and remember who God is. Big. Powerful. Creative.
Stop and remember who we are. Called by God. Children of God. Anointed by God. Appointed by God.
Stop and remember His promises and that He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.
2. IDENTIFY. Indentify what it is that is freaking you out. Fight the fear and respond with faith.
“Instead of hiding from the world or being overwhelmed by the evil of it, we need to strengthen our spiritual cores and trust in the power of the spirit at work in us.” Christine Caine
My dad is a runner. He would run marathons all the time. He would take every Wednesday afternoon off, and run. For fun. He explained to me what the phrase hitting the wall meant after one run. You get to a certain milage and then boom. You feel like you’re going to puke. Or die. Or both. Your legs hurt. Your arms hurt. Your neck hurts. You want to give up. At that moment you could choose to pull out of the race… or keep going. You know you just have to push through a little bit more and then boom, second wind. I asked him what would get him through the wall? His reply was very insightful. “I did what I knew I could do. Run. One step at a time. And I knew the end wasn’t far away.” He identified what he could do and what the purpose of each step was.
You are in a race. I sometimes have jillian Michaels, from the biggest loser, as my life coach on my shoulder. “unless you faint, puke or die, then keep going!”
I love what lois said last week Don’t tell God how big your storm is, tell the storm how big your God is. My God is the one who said “peace” and the storm stopped. My God is the one who made the wind and the water in the first place! When David faced off against Goliath he couldn’t believe that no one had stood up to this measly teeny tiny giant up till then. David said in 1 Samuel 17:45 “You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel” Identify God’s perspective. Change. Change the behaviour from flight to fight. Step out in faith. Step out of the boat. Pick up your slingshot. Face towards Nineveh. If God has called you to slay giants He will make you a giant killer. Trust God. Trust God. Trust God. Brennan Manning says “Define yourself radically as one beloved by God.” Let this be your identity. Let this inspire you to run with God. God’s perspective of you is that you are His child. That means you carry the mission of a child of God and the authority of a child of God. Greater is HE in you than he that is in the world.
3. CHANGE. Here are 3 questions we can ask ourselves – questions to propel us into change and action.
#1 – What is the next step we need to take in order to stay in step with the vision the Lord has given us?
#2 – Are there any obvious problems that we are trying to deny that simply need to be dealt with? (There are some things you cannot “pray away!”)
#3 – What if you truly began to believe and live like you were created, positioned, empowered called by God to?
Wherever you are today, God loves you. He has a plan and a purpose for your life. He invites you to run with Him. He invites us to stop running and to say Yes to Him.