Friday, October 21, 2016


Dr. Jim Garlow is pastor of Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego.
He is also co-founder of The Jefferson Gathering, a weekly worship service for members of Congress at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.
By Dr. Jim Garlow, Skyline Church, San Diego

I have been asked "the question" so many times regarding Trump or Hillary. By way of background, I have followed every national convention—Republican and Democrat—from the time I was age 9, and have attended most of the GOP Conventions from 1984 to the present. I have watched the news virtually every day from the age of 8. I have never seen anything like what we are observing.

In spite of the unprecedented nature of this election cycle, I will attempt to respond to "the question." I am not demanding that anyone else share my view. But I was asked. Here is my best attempt to answer as I am able to see things at this time:

1.  The Democratic and Republican party platforms are as different as night and day, in my opinion, as far apart as evil vs. good. The 51-page Democratic platform is the most leftist ever. (I don't care for the "right vs. left" nomenclature. I am far more concerned with "right vs. wrong.") The Democratic platform contains many points which are anti-biblical. (Time does not permit me here to identify what is meant by "anti-biblical," which is covered in my new book Well Versed: Biblical Answers to Today's Tough Issues.) It is thoroughly socialistic (a socialist is a communist without a gun). The 54-page GOP platform is one of the strongest GOP platforms ever. A biblically alert person could be comfortable with almost all of it. Party platforms are a big issue to me. Although some "blow off" party platforms, I do not. Nor do many people up and down the ballot who are running for office. This is a serious and very important item. I have a hard copy of both platforms in front of me now. Most people have never checked out what the party platforms say. They should. If a person is not drawn to the "top-of-the-ballot" candidate, they ought to at least consider voting for the candidate attached to the best party platform.

2.  Analogy #1: Both candidates are flawed. We all know that. But permit me an analogy: As a pastor, I would rather deal with a church attendee who is blatant and brash in his sinning than one who is devious, lying, cunning and deceptive. Both are problematic, but one is easier to deal with than the other. If I were a pastor bringing correction to a parishioner, I would prefer dealing with a "Trump-type" any day over a "Hillary-type." The chances of making progress with the "Trump-type" is many times greater than the "Hillary-type."

3.  Analogy #2: When my (late) wife's remarkable and much loved oncologist said, "Don't take Carol to that alternative (non FDA approved) treatment." I asked, "Why not?" He said, "The unknown." I said, "Doctor, your 'known' is much worse than the alternative treatment's 'unknown.'" (I took her to that alternative treatment. One year later that same oncologist went to the alternative treatment doctor to see how it was that Carol had improved so much. While this alternative treatment did not ultimately save her life, it likely stretched two to three years of life to six years of life—by the admission of another one of her brilliant young oncologists who later said, "Without any medical training or scientific fact, you have put together a protocol of treatment that has moved her into the top fraction of 1 percent of survival rates of all patients with Carol's particular cancer). Application of the analogy: Hillary's "known" is considerably worse—many times over—than Trump's "unknown."

4.  Trump has lots of sins in his past (actually, we all do), and—in the present—says things he should not say. I make no attempt to defend any of the things he has said. There is no need to rehearse the wrong things he has said. We know what they are. He should not have thought or said them. But there is no need to rehash them here. So we won't. But let's turn to the other candidate. Although America has had some scandal-ridden candidates in its history, we have never seen any one major party candidate more constantly scandalous as Hillary (along with her husband). She seems to exceed all previous boundaries for wrongdoing. The scandals just don't stop. In the same way we did not take time to list all of Trump's misstatements, neither will we here rehash the seemingly continuous string of horrific scandals of the Clintons.

5.  Trump is slowly being surrounded by increasingly good people. From time to time, I receive encouraging calls regarding this. Can these good people impact Trump? We will see. In contrast, I see no reason for any encouragement regarding the people who surround Hillary.

6.  Trump is right on approximately 75 percent of the issues. I wish it was 100 percent. It is not. I am in hopes that those beginning to surround him can help him connect the dots on more issues. Hillary is wrong on 100 percent of the issues.

7.  This next issue might be one of the most important, but I suspect few will understand its significance. Trump opposes globalism. Hillary thrives on it. Globalism is far more than "geographical" or "eliminating national borders and boundaries." It is spiritual, that is, demonic at its core. Few—very few—understand this. This is quite likely one of the main reasons why Trump is hated. Do your homework on this one. Think "principalities and powers." Serious. Extremely serious.

8.  Not voting is not a viable option, contrary to what the "purists" claim. It is not my intention to begin a war of the issue. I know that some radically disagree with this. My view? They have the right to be wrong.

9.  Voting for a third party candidate is—regardless of what is said—a complete "throw-away." No third party candidate will be elected, or even come remotely close to being elected. And yes, that matters to me. And for the record, the Libertarian ticket—Johnson and Weld—is nearly as bad on many issues as Hillary. When I listen to them, I am stunned people of their ability have ever made it to elective office.

10.  Trump has moved pro-life. Hillary is pro-baby killing, and prides herself on that, and honors the organization—Planned Parenthood—that actually traffics human parts from dead babies whom they have killed. This is below anything we have seen since Nazi Germany. The gall of Hillary! The Clintons have evaded justice for decades and likely will continue to. But they will someday stand before the Great White Throne. They will have to give account of their support of the ripping babies to shreds in the womb. For the record, those who vote for those who support the genocide of pre-borns will also have to give an account.

11.  Trump wants to defend the nation (which is the purpose of government). Hillary has a horrific track record as Secretary of State, and due to hundreds of millions of dollars given to her and her husband's foundation, she is beholden to those who want us dead.

12.  Hillary claims "everything is fine" in America. This defies every single fact, but facts have never been an interest of Hillary's. Trump understands that it is 11:59 p.m. on the "cultural clock." America is near the end—morally, economically, militarily and, sadly, spiritually. There are very clear identifiable indicators—measurable ones—that America is no longer the world's leading power. That day is over. Hillary will hasten the final destruction. Trump could either slow that down—or possibly, with God's help—reverse it.  Maybe.

13.  Trump will address the massive government spending. Hillary will expand it above the existing unsustainable debt the U.S. currently is carrying (almost $20 trillion plus unfunded liabilities to Social Security, etc).

14.  Trump will expose—and I pray, bring down—"the systemic evil" (crony, deceitful, misuse of capitalism) that reigns among many high-dollar lobbyists. Hillary thrives because of them.

15.  Trump will stop the massive overreach of government. Hillary will extend it.

16.  Freedoms come in "threes." Political freedom, economic freedom and religious liberty coexist together. Take one away and the other two will eventually disappear. One cannot exist without the other two. The genius of America is that it had all three, until recently. Trump fully grasps the loss of religious liberty. I have heard him speak on it in person on several occasions. He knows that economic and political freedoms are evaporating. He will reverse that. Hillary will decimate all three.

17.  Every rational person knows the Supreme Court appointments are paramount. Trump has listed 11 superb potential nominees. Hillary's appointments would snuff out the tiny vestige of the three freedoms that are left (mentioned in the statement above).

18.  I make no excuse for wrongdoing or wrongful, hurtful words from either candidate. Candidly, I want King Jesus. He rules in my heart. And yours too, I suspect. And I want him to rule here—now. But that day is not fully manifested—yet. In the meantime, we prayerfully, carefully navigate this challenging election season, with great concern that above all, we honor our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in every arena of our lives, including the voting booth. That is my hope. It is yours as well.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Displaced Pastors

Through the years we all have heard a lot about displaced people. It may be refugees displaced because of war. Or it can be the homeless displaced by the ravages of a hurricane such as Katrina. I was surprised recently when the word began to be applied to Pastors that are no longer at their church. In fact there are ministries that are available to help displaced (exited, fired or laid off) Pastors cope with all the issues and emotional baggage of being let go. There is not only help for the Pastor but also his wife and family who are affected too.

PIR Ministries is one such organization They exist to offer hope to ‘at-risk’ and exited pastors. They say this: "Studies indicate that 1,500 - 2,000 pastors are displaced from their church each month. Unlike being laid off or fired from most other positions, the exited pastor doesn't have the church to fall back on for support. The church is the source of the disappointment, anger and pain that can plague the ex-pastor and his family. PIR Ministries (Pastor in Residence) exists to address this tough issue. PIR Ministries partners with God and the church to provide a proven process that can restore hope to at-risk and exited pastors." For more additional information go to Pastor Support Network

The word displaced in its verb form (used with object)means:
1. to compel (a person or persons) to leave home, country, etc.
2. to move or put out of the usual or proper place.
3. to take the place of; replace; supplant:
4. to remove from a position, office, or dignity.

One often hears the stories of Pastors that have been displaced from their churches. Sometimes it may be the Pastors fault for sexuality immorality. But other times it can be because of the Pastor wearing a 'tee shirt' to preach in and the older folks of the church are offended and give him the boot! It may be a forced early retirement led by the leaders of the church. Or, the Pastor takes a sabbatical and when he returns is informed that his services are no longer needed and the interim Pastor and leadership are carrying on without him. These are recent actual occurrences that I personally know about.

The key issue in most cases that I mentioned is the leadership (laity) assuming control over the future direction of the Pastor and church. Some how they feel it is their church and are embolden to control all that goes on. They forget that they were chosen by the very man that put them in a leadership role. They also forget that the Pastor was called of God, equipped for ministry at personal expense, empowered by the Holy Spirit and gave himself and his family to the work of the ministry.

Jesus said that He would build His church and the gates of Hell would not prevail against it (Mt 16.18). That is true enough but what we don't count on is the strife that is perpetrated on a local congregation when leaders rise up in a power struggle to bring division into the unsuspecting congregation. They only find out about it after the damage and hurt has been done. Some pastors leave quietly and discreetly and the Elders are not held accountable for their actions while others try to battle it out. Sadly enough what the apostle Paul wrote to the Elders at Ephesus (Eph 20:29-30) about attacks coming against the church from without and from within becomes the case in point. A church can stand together united against the attacks from without, but it is thrown in to unexpected turmoil by the attacks from within. When the leaders begin to run the church strictly on business principles they soon ruin it!

In light of this, a Pastor should be careful about laying hands on lay leadership and evaluate the degree of authority that the church constitution or bylaws allow these leaders to operate in. In order to head off the inward fighting for control and ensuing destruction, a Pastor needs to take preventative measures. We will address this in a continuing post on this subject.

I would like to hear your story or ones that you have firsthand knowledge of. Please write me at

Also check out Liberty Fellowship. I am Executive Director of this great organization that fosters care, accountability, and continued teaching for Pastors. No Pastor should be alone in the ministry! We are better together!

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Time to Renew This Blog--

Well, it certainly has been awhile since I posted here. I got caught up in social media and left this blog behind. My regrets!

A lot has occurred in my life.

I was diagnosed with Prostate Cancer last year and had surgery in Dec, 2014. The good news is I am cancer free.

I retired from the church where I Pastored for 25 years on April 1, 2015.

I  became full time Executive Director of Liberty Fellowship this year.

I am learning to adjust to retirement. The saying goes, 'The thing about retirement is that you never get a day off!' Boy, how true!

And the good news is my wife, Debi, still loves me!

With all that said, I am renewing my efforts to help Pastors and local churches. I will be posting my own thoughts, articles that I feel are helpful to pastors, and other information.

These are critical times for pastors and churches. There is a great decline in church attendance universally (and contrary to some, it is not always the pastors fault! more on that subject later). There is the secularization of our society and it's influence on the church and congregations. Rather than the church influencing our culture, our culture is rapidly influencing us and making inroads in to the hearts and minds of our people. Some prominent Men of God and churches are acquiescing to the judicial mandates, radical environment and moral collapse of our society by changing their theological moorings.

These are things we will discuss. I hope you will join me here. Take care and God bless you!

 Checkout my FaceBook for for myself and follow link to Liberty Fellowship

Follow me on Twitter @go4crown and @kerrliberty

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Which side of the fence? 

If you ever wondered which side of the fence you sit on, this is a great test! 

If a Republican doesn't like guns, he doesn't buy one.
If a Democrat doesn't like guns, he wants all guns outlawed.

If a Republican is a vegetarian, he doesn't eat meat.
If a Democrat is a vegetarian, he wants all meat products banned for everyone.

If a Republican is homosexual, he quietly leads his life.
If a Democrat is homosexual, he demands legislated respect.

If a Republican is down-and-out, he thinks about how to better his situation.
A Democrat wonders who is going to take care of him.

If a Republican doesn't like a talk show host, he switches channels..
Democrats demand that those they don't like be shut down.

If a Republican is a non-believer, he doesn't go to church.
A Democrat non-believer wants any mention of God and religion silenced.

If a Republican decides he needs health care, he goes about shopping for it, or may choose a job that provides it.
A Democrat demands that the rest of us pay for his.

If a Republican reads this, he'll forward it so his friends can have a good laugh.
A Democrat will delete it because he's "offended".

Jeff Foxworthy

Friday, September 28, 2012

Be Merry!

Hattie covered her mouth, but the giggle escaped anyway. Boney Hughes lay under her kitchen sink, his upper body concealed by the cupboard. His legs sprawled over her linoleum flooring.

Boney scooted out from under the sink and peered up at her. ‘You think me rappin’ my old knuckles on these leaky pipes is funny?’

Unable to stifle her amusement, Hattie nodded. ‘You look like a . . .’ She fanned herself, trying to regain her composure while he stood. ‘Like a fish out of water.’

Boney’s winter-white eyebrows arched. ‘A big old river catfish?’

Giggling, she studied him from his wiry beard to his worn boots. ‘A smaller fish perhaps, but surely one with a big heart.’”
The proprietor of Miss Hattie’s boardinghouse and Mr. Boney understand the gift of a merry heart.
A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones. Proverbs 17:22 KJV

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

All About God!

Ps 100: 2,4 Serve the Lord with gladness! Come before His presence with singing!Enter into His gates with thanksgiving and a thank offering and into His courts with praise! Be thankful and say so to Him, bless and affectionately praise His name!

Happy moment, praise God.

Difficult moments, seek God.

Quite moments, worship God.

Painful moments, trust God.

Every moment, thank God.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Laura's Testimony

Child wayward? Don't accept guilt that's not yours! God knows how/when to ‘close the deal’ with your child. Don't worry-Pray!

I know this is long for a blog- but I felt Laura's testimony that she gave at Vine Fellowship on 11/27/11 needed to be shared in it's entirety!

God 'closed the deal' with Laura!

My name is Laura. Many of y’all know me, I've been going to this church for most of my life. Even though I'm not quite sure where to start, this is my story. And like all stories, mine starts at the beginning. It is somewhat of a long story, but bear with me. I really think it's worth listening to.

I was the victim of abuse around age ten. For years I buried those memories deep down in my mind and repressed any thought of it. I became so confused about what happened, the details became so blurry that I eventually had myself convinced that I must have made it up. At that point though, my family had already found out. I was thirteen years old. The cat was out of the bag and I had no idea where that cat even came from. Unsure of what to do, I sat through years of therapy and counseling, listening but not listening. I would tell the doctors I was fine, that the abuse had no affect on me, because I couldn't pin down what had happened. To this day, I can't know for sure what exactly it was. But it did happen. And it did affect me. It's something that with God, and my counselours, and family, I'll have to keep working on, so I can get closure.

I was put on and taken off of medications, taken to therapist after therapist. I'd began cutting myself because I was so emotionally shut down inside, pain was the only sensation strong enough to make me feel awake, like I wasn't just sleepwalking. It as wrong. And it was stupid. I regret it. But at the time I didn't know what else to do. The counseling wasn't working so I was put into an outpatient treatment program. While I was there my family found out the truth. Once they found out about the abuse and the cutting, I fell into such a suicidal depression that I had to be hospitalized. After that I spent a few weeks in outpatient therapy, then continued to try meds and be seen by councilors. None of it helped.

This was probably the second darkest time of my life. I was seeing counselors, I was attending church and bible studies, making decent grades. I had lots of friends and a busy social life. I did art and played piano. On the outside I probably looked like an exceptional young lady. But I wasn't, During this time I fell into drug abuse. I would overdose on any prescriptions, over the counter medicine, or street drug I could find. I felt so broken and empty inside. So completely hollowed out. That I was taking anything I could get my hands on and holding on for dear life. For a while I began eating way too much and gained a lot of weight. And when I saw what I had done I became disguested wih myself. The pendulum swung the other way and I began starving myself, denying myself any food, drinking more energy drinks and coffee than any body should be able to handle, working out till the point of passing out. When I did eat I would take one look at myself and immediately go to the bathroom, to force myself to vomit.

I was still going to church, I was still going to school. But by now I was so desperate, so spiritually exhausted, that I felt completely dead inside. I started trying to find value in myself through relationships with men. I would compromise myself if he would just flatter me, tell me I was beautiful, feed me what I wanted to hear. Even though I never believed them, I feel like I fed myself off of the attention, grasping at yet another empty promise of the world to feel whole again.

We serve an amazing God. It's only by his grace and love that I am not dead, six feet underground. I'm not working a corner, I'm not strung out on drugs, riddled with diseases or living on the streets. Through everything I've been through and everything I've done our God has refused to let me go. He blessed me with the perfect people in my life to surround me and lift me up. When I was at my lowest points, when I had nothing left, God gave me those people to show me Jesus's love. To be that voice in my ear saying the pain would one day go away. To hold onto me while getting me to hold on just a little bit longer.

Then came the darkest point in my entire, young life. About three months after my seventeenth birthday, I found out I was pregnant. The father was an older guy who had been in and out of my life for years. He cared about me, but our relationship was very sick. We both used it as a crutch. I was young and scared, I didn't know what to do. After we finally told my parents, I immedately started trying to find a way to get an abortion. I spent nights online finding laws that would let me get around parental consent laws. I had meetings with lawyers set up through a foundation that was specifically set up to give underage girls a way to get abortions behind their parent's backs. I know now this wasn't the answer, Abortion is wrong. There is nothing our God can't redeem you from. His love for you and his love for that baby will cover all of your faults.

But maybe you've already had an abortion. If you did you need to know, there is no condemnation on you. Not from this church, not from me, not from God. He loves you. He loves that child that he's holding in heaven right now. He understands, and he forgives you. All he's waiting for is for you to turn to him and ask him to restore you. He'll do it! All you have to do is whisper that you wanna come home and our God will move heaven and earth to pick you up and bring you home. All you have to do is ask. There is a perfect love that will cover all flaws, all mistakes. It's waiting for you.

My parents fought me hard about the abortion. I became so angry that I lashed out at them when all they were trying to do was love me, and fight for my life and the life of their first grandchild. The father of the baby fought at first but eventually resolved himself to what would happen. And even with all these people fighing me, I was stubborn and hardheaded, and made the appointment. Me and the father snook out of our houses that Saturday morning. We took a taxi to the clinic in Fort Worth. As we got out, there were protestors. People screaming and holding signs of condemnation and rage, that we were terrible people, that we were going to hell. I'll never forget that moment of despair. I was so angry, so helpless, so broken down. I didn't feel like I had any other choice. I wanted to scream at them and swear and tell them that I knew it was wrong but what choice did I have! I'm only seventeen and I've been through so much and I can't be a single mom! But I hunched down behind the father, avoided their glares, and managed to make it inside.

The small, dark waiting room was packed with other women, some with their partners, some with a friend. There was a tension, a darkness in there that I won't forget. It would be occasionally broken by nervous laughter or someone trying to encourage another girl, but the atmosphere was heavy. I sat with quin and shakily worked through the paperwork and talked wit the receptionist, then I waited.

It seemed like forever before they finally called my name. My heart dropped through my stomach. The woman calling me was the doctor who I'd seen before for the sonogram. She'd hiddn the screen and coached me on what to tell the lawyers and the judge so they'd let me get the abortion. She was rough and impersonal, and she never actually gave me the counseling that I was supposed to tell them I'd recieved. She took me to the room and set up another sonogram, and I asked her what was wrong, why I was the only one called back. She stared at the sonogram, took measurements, then had her supervisor come and do the same thing. They both were staring at the screen for a while, confused. I felt sick and begged them to tell me what was going on.

It turns out, that the measurements said my baby was too big. He was bigger than the measurements they had on record from last time said he should be. He should have only been about fourteen weeks, but the measurements were reading sixteen and a half weeks. Remember that number. At this point, the clinic could no longer legally perform the abortion and I was stunned. I heard the doctor in the other room mumble about the funding they were probably losing over some faulty equipment.

When me and my mom went back to my regular doctor a weak or so later, I made sure to look at the sonogram and ask about the measurements. That day, a week or so after the last sonogram, the measuremeants said the baby was right at sixteen weeks old.

This is when I began to get that deer-in-the-headlights feeling. I could feel the ground shifting and crumbling under me and deep down I began to understand that there was a God, and he was way bigger than me. He loved me. He wasn't going to let me destroy myself. He wasn't going to let me destroy the life that he'd placed inside of me. He loved us both so desperately that he was going to do whatever it took to save us both from myself. I began to feel like one of those supervillains at the end of a scooby doo episode, with my evil schemes undone over and over again, and all I could do was angrily shake my fist while I was being dragged away.

The pregnancy was long and hard. I'd finally hit the point of surrender, but hadn't reached the point of restoration. I was so ashamed that I hid it from anybody I possibly could. I anguished over the thought of people finding out that I was pregnant because I'd worked so hard at keeping up somewhat of a good front for so many years. In my mind, my entire world was gonna come crashing down. I no longer cared about school, about friends, about family. I was going to be responsible and take care of the baby, but I didn't feel like I loved him. I was angry a him for destroying the semblance of a life that I had. I would never hurt him, but I resented him deeply.

By the grace of God I was able to graduate high school on time. Me and miranda, my best friend, gradutated together. She'd been there for me through everything, the good and the bad, and was a huge part of finally making me understand I should keep the baby. And on august the 19th I gave birth to a beautiful, healthy baby boy, Jesse Dwayne Irons. My whole family, and the father, and Miranda, and my friend nick were all at the hospial that night (mostly in the waiting room, of course) waiting with me and encouraging me. When he was born it meant everything to have them there to celebrate with me. I felt surrounded by love and for the first time in so many dark years, I began to feel a glimmer of hope.
his is where my story starts to turn around. This is where, strangely enough, my story stops being about me. This is the point where my story becomes about you. You need to know that we serve an amazing God. His love for us is more than we will ever be able to grasp. It's so perfect, and so boundless, that each and every one of us is his chosen one, his personal favorite. Listen to that, because this isn't something you can take lightly. You are GOD'S PERSONAL FAVORITE. You are beautifully and wonderfully made. Fearfully fashoned after his own form and placed center stage in a marvelous creation as all of heaven watches you with baited breath to see what you'll do. All of creation is captivated, with rapt attention as God longs for you, persues and chases you. They're waiting to see when you'll turn to him. They're totally captured in the ultimate romance between the perfect God, and the single object of his boundless grace and affection. You. There's only one question. When's it gonna happen? When are you, the chosen one, going to let your creator rush to you and hold you close to him and lavish his love on you like he's been waiting to do your entire life. When's it gonna happen? And when are you going to help his other chosen ones do the same?

I am a beautiful creation of the Lord Jesus Christ. He has given me an amazing life to live surrounded by some of the most incredible people alive that he loves just as much as he loves me. I am not broken. I am not defeated. I feel like a pheonix rising out of the ashes. With my God behind me no one can be against me. No weapons formed against me will prosper. Our God is great and good. God knows the plans he has for you. Plans to prosper you, not to harm you. Plans to give you a hope and a future, And it's going to be beyond your wildest dreams.

I'm going to do great things with my life. Next year I'm gonna start studying graphic design at the Art Institute in Dallas. For my 18th birthday, I want to get some sleeve tattoos on my left arm where the scars are from the self abuse. Not to cover them out of shame, but to change them. To take something ugly that was meant to destroy me and make it into something beautiful that will be used for the glory of God. Eventually me and my bestfriend would love to open a tatoo parlor. I wanna specialize in tatoos for people who have suffered from self injury and turn it into a ministry, to let them know that it doesn't matter how ugly the scars from the past are. Our God has a hope for you, and a future for you, and it is going to be beautiful beyond your imagination.

So I want you guys to watch me. Not because I'm awesome or because I want the attention. But becase I am a true cinderalla story, a true example of the marvelous works of the wonderful God we serve. Some of you may not have the best view. You may not see me as clearly as the friends that have been there for me, that have had to physically hold me up on nights where I was too high and drunk to walk and could barely speak. Maybe you won't see me as clearly as my family who's been there on the long nights where I've been awake, depserate and broken, where they held onto me while I was shaking so bad I felt like I would break apart. You may not get to see as much of me as they do, but watch anyway. Because We serve a powerful God, we are his favorites, and he's going to use us for marvelous, marvelous things. It's going to be a beautiful life, and I can't. wait. to see.

Originally, this was where my testimony ended. I felt revived and blessed and happy, full of joy for the first time in forever. I was so hopeful for where I was headed and what I would be able to do with my life. I'd begun to see that my life wasn't really about me, but about reaching out to others. I turned eighteen, and got the pheonix tattoo that I wanted. The monday before my 18th birthday, I was hanging out in Arlington with my friends Tobi and JJ, playing with the stray dog we found at the park. While me and Tobi were walking around I got a call from my friend Chelsea asking if I'd been on facebook lately. When I said no, she responded with, "I'm so sorry to tell you this, but your friend Dana died in a car accident." This was the beginning of a huge downward spiral for me. It took hours for the news to sink in. At first I didn't really know what to think, I was in shock. But once it really hit I was devastated.

Me and Dana didn't hang out much after I moved but we used to live on the sae block. We had all the same friends and ran into each other all the time. Me and her dealt with a lot of the same problems in our past, and struggled with most of the same issues. She was always trying to reach out to me and make sure I was ok. She was one of the main people telling me that I should keep my son instead of getting an abortion, and promised to be there for me every step of the way. She was a big part of my decision to keep him, and she continued to keep in touch. We'd run into her the week before at iHop where she worked. It just didn't seem real that she was gone.

Once everything really sunk in I started to fall back into depression. I kept thinking, me and her messed up in all the same ways, did most of the same things. Howcome I kept getting more chances and she didn't? Why is it that she's gone and I'm still here? It didn't seem fair. I couldn't stop questioning why I was still alive and such a beautiful, sweet girl was gone. Seeing all her grieving family and friends at the funeral only made it seem more senseless and tragic than ever. I remember being at JJ's the day it happened, and we were sitting in the garage when her mom came home. They lived across the street. We could hear her mother crying all the way inside his house. It was heartwrenching. It seemed like nothing would be the same in that neighborhood again.

That friday was my birthday. I celebrated with close friends and my family. The next morning I went with Joe and his friend Austin to the funerals. The first was for the twins, Stephen and Michael Eckel, who'd passed away. Then we went to Dana's. My brother flew in from the military base in Arizona. It was a really sad day. Overall, with Danielle, Michael, Stephen, and the most recent death, Christian, we lost four amazing young people in that car accident.

I eventually stopped thinking about it. But it never lasted. Every time I saw her picture or a wall post on facebook all the same thoughts came back. Why her? Why was it that she got taken, and I was always given one more chance. Over and over. I couldn't make it make sense to me. We basically lived parallell lives, dealing with almost every same issue and problem and person. But right as I was getting my life straight and finding new hope in my life, hers was taken away.

Then something else happened, something that shook me up more than anything in my short eighteen years. A few weeks ago I was raped by a guy I used to know. He just showed up at my house while nobody was home. Afterwards I didn't know what to do. I spent the next few nights away from home, completely beside myself, not knowing what to do. It was a long time before I could even spend much time at my own house. I still can't be there long without shaking or crying or freaking out in one way or another. I have these horrible nightmares literally every time I go to sleep. I haven't had a good night's sleep and haven't felt safe since it happened. It's gotten so bad that I considered moving out, it didn't matter where, I just wanted out of that house.

So honestly. I'm not doing so good right now. But Pastor David and my dad have been reminding me that I need to stay strong. I recently got a tattoo on my collarbone that says Stay Strong, and it's a constant reminder that I can't give up now. The things that happened almost stopped me from getting up here and speaking to you guys. It didn't seem worth it anymore. Then I was reminded by people close to me that if I let the devil take this away from me, I'm letting him win. I spent most of my life in the dark, hiding everything. It's about time I start being honest and I start telling my story. Everyone has their own story, their own struggles. If my story can help even one person, then it's worth it. I've been in some pretty dark places in my life and if I can help even one person not have to go there, or help them know that there really is a way out, I'll be happy. We really do serve an amazing God, and he's pulled me through more than my share of mistakes. There's nothing that He can't bring you out of, and you'll never run far enough away that he isn't right behind you, waiting to bring you home. You just have to reach out for help.

I remember a quote a teacher of mine had on his wall, about how, you can't solve your problems with the same mindset that you created them in. It takes another perspective, a new look at things. It may even take someone else for you to lean on. But whether you do it alone or with help, it can't happen without God.

I guess I've said all of this, to say that there's no hole God won't pull you out of, and no dark period of your life that won't pass. If you sit and wallow in your own despair and tell yourself you can't do it, you're just prolonging your own misery. Don't be the one that's gonna sit there, not help yourself, not ask for help, and possibly drag others down. Reach out for someone, and for God. That's what our ministry team is here for. That's what this entire church is here for. It doesn't matter where you are or what kind of trash you're currently surrounded by. There's hope, there's a way out. You just have to look.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

To Succeed - Overcome Fear!

“God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 2 Tim 1.7

The poet wrote: ‘There was a very cautious man who never laughed or played; he never risked, he never tried, he never sang or prayed. And when one day he passed away, his insurance was denied; for since he never really lived, they claimed he never died!

If you never really try and overcome the fear of trying/failure; you will never have really lived!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A Woman's Simple Request!

Ouch men, can you relate to that!!!!

Friday, October 07, 2011

Shake It Off and Keep Going On!

Not original with me but worth repeating and living! Author unknown to me.

One day a farmer's donkey fell down into a well. The animal cried piteously for ...hours as the farmer tried to figure out what to do. Finally, he decided the animal was old, and the well needed to be covered up anyway; it just wasn't worth it to retrieve the donkey.

He invited all his neighbors to come over and help him. They all grabbed a shovel and began to shovel dirt into the well. At first, the donkey realized what was happening and cried horribly. Then, to everyone's amazement he quieted down.

A few shovel loads later, the farmer finally looked down the well. He was astonished at what he saw. With each shovel of dirt that hit his back, the donkey was doing something amazing. He would shake it off and take a step up.

As the farmer's neighbors continued to shovel dirt on top of the animal, he would shake it off and take a step up. Pretty soon, everyone was amazed as the donkey stepped up over the edge of the well and happily trotted off!

Life is going to shovel dirt on you, all kinds of dirt. The trick to getting out of the well is to shake it off and take a step up. Each of our troubles is a steppingstone. We can get out of the deepest wells just by not stopping, never giving up! Shake it off and take a step up.

Remember the five simple rules to be happy:

1. Free your heart from hatred - Forgive.

2. Free your mind from worries - Most never happens.

3. Live simply and appreciate what you have.

4. Give more.

5. Expect less from people but more from God.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Simply Amazing!!!

Rhema Marvanne, 8 years old!


Can't see video of Rhema, click here.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Self-Portrait Mania

Have you noticed the trend to take self portraits, no matter how unflattering they represent the shutterbug?  You see them posted everywhere! Well it is easy to do, it is so simple that even monkeys can do it!

To capture the perfect wildlife image, you usually have to be in exactly the right place at precisely the right time.

But in this instance, David Slater wasn’t there at all and he still got a result.

Visiting a national park in North Sulawesi, Indonesia, award-winning photographer Mr Slater left his camera unattended for a while.

It soon attracted the attention of an inquisitive female from a local group of crested black macaque monkeys, known for their intelligence and dexterity.

Fascinated by her reflection in the lens, she then somehow managed to start the camera. The upshot: A splendid self-portrait.

Yes, that's how easy it is to be a photographer!!!

Friday, September 09, 2011

Planting Now to Reap Later!

A successful business man was growing old and knew it was time to choose a successor to take over the business.

Instead of choosing one of his Directors or his children, he decided to do something different. He called all the young executives in his company together.

He said, "It is time for me to step down and choose the next CEO. I have decided to choose one of you. "The young executives were Shocked, but the boss continued. "I am going to give each one of you a SEED today - one very special SEED. I want you to plant the seed, water it, and come back here one year from today with what you have grown from the seed I have given you. I will then judge the plants that you bring, and the one I choose will be the next CEO."

One man, named Jim, was there that day and he, like the others, received a seed. He went home and excitedly, told his wife the story. She helped him get a pot, soil and compost and he planted the seed. Every day, he would water it and watch to see if it had grown. After about three weeks, some of the other executives began to talk about their seeds and the plants that were beginning to grow.

Jim kept checking his seed, but nothing ever grew.

Three weeks, four weeks, five weeks went by, still nothing.

By now, others were talking about their plants, but Jim didn't have a plant and he felt like a failure.

Six months went by -- still nothing in Jim's pot. He just knew he had killed his seed. Everyone else had trees and tall plants, but he had nothing. Jim didn't say anything to his colleagues, however, he just kept watering and fertilizing the soil - He so wanted the seed to grow.

A year finally went by and all the young executives of the company brought their plants to the CEO for inspection.

Jim told his wife that he wasn't going to take an empty pot. But she asked him to be honest about what happened. Jim felt sick to his stomach, it was going to be the most embarrassing moment of his life, but he knew his wife was right. He took his empty pot to the board room. When Jim arrived, he was amazed at the variety of plants grown by the other executives. They were beautiful -- in all shapes and sizes.. Jim put his empty pot on the floor and many of his colleagues laughed, a few felt sorry for him!

When the CEO arrived, he surveyed the room and greeted his young executives.

Jim just tried to hide in the back. "My, what great plants, trees and flowers you have grown," said the CEO. "Today one of you will be appointed the next CEO!"

All of a sudden, the CEO spotted Jim at the back of the room with his empty pot. He ordered the Financial Director to bring him to the front. Jim was terrified. He thought, "The CEO knows I'm a failure! Maybe he will have me fired!"

When Jim got to the front, the CEO asked him what had happened to his seed - Jim told him the story.

The CEO asked everyone to sit down except Jim. He looked at Jim, and then announced to the young executives, "Behold your next Chief Executive Officer!

His name is Jim!" Jim couldn't believe it. Jim couldn't even grow his seed.

"How could he be the new CEO?" the others said.

Then the CEO said, "One year ago today, I gave everyone in this room a seed. I told you to take the seed, plant it, water it, and bring it back to me today. But I gave you all boiled seeds; they were dead - it was not possible for them to grow.

All of you, except Jim, have brought me trees and plants and flowers. When you found that the seed would not grow, you substituted another seed for the one I gave you. Jim was the only one with the courage and honesty to bring me a pot with my seed in it. Therefore, he is the one who will be the new Chief Executive Officer!"

* If you plant honesty, you will reap trust

* If you plant goodness, you will reap friends

* If you plant humility, you will reap greatness

* If you plant perseverance, you will reap contentment

* If you plant consideration, you will reap perspective

* If you plant hard work, you will reap success

* If you plant forgiveness, you will reap reconciliation

So, be careful what you plant now; it will determine what you will reap later.