What Hurricanes Teach Us About Sin

 For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now.  Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. Romans 8:22-23

If you read the title and thought this would be an article on how hurricanes serve as a judgment against America for immorality and ungodliness, then you will be greatly disappointed. What these hurricanes, and the devestation they bring, do is remind us of an absolute truth… this world is broken. I mean the physical earth itself is dying, just like us. The world we live in is groaning, as the Bible says, in need of divine repair. Natural disasters are a sign of its brokenness. Devastating natural events are a painful reminder to us that this all started millennium ago. When sin entered the world it effected creation just as much as it did humanity. Natural disasters are not God’s “lightning bolts,” hurled down upon us but rather a symptom of the Fall, effecting both the righteous and the wicked.

By “Fall,” I refer to the disobedience and subsequent dismissal of Adam and Eve from the garden. It was not just Adam and Eve who were affected but the very ground they once tilled for food with ease would now fight back. Weeds, insects, drought and many other obstacles would become the new reality because of sin.

What has happened in last few weeks in Texas and Florida is devastating. One bright spot to all of this has been how so many people in our country are rallying to help. Rallying around those hurting is humanity at its best. The loss of life has been tragic and the destruction of infrastructure is on a massive scale. I hope the church is one of the leaders in responding and showing love  to those hurting. How can we proclaim to care if we don’t help those in need when tragedy strikes?

This is a time for Christian leaders to step up and be a voice of hope and direction.  I pray not one pastor gets on TV or writes a blog or article and personalizes this to some kind of divine act of judgment against a certain person or group. What we do need to hear is these events are a sign of a creation in pain from sin. They can happen at anytime and anywhere as a reminder that sin effects everyone and doesn’t pass over anyone.  It should remind us of the redemption to come; that one day Jesus will return to not only redeem us but creation itself. Like us, our world is broken by sin.

Sure we should work hard to do our part to be good stewards as the keepers of this earth but brokenness runs too deep for us to fix by our own efforts. Our world needs divine intervention…. our world needs divine healing… our world needs the hand of Jesus, the same as us.

So let us pray for those affected by these recent hurricanes. Let us all also give out money and time to help them. Let us remember that tragedies like this exist because our world is broken and needs redemption by the grace and goodness of Jesus.

Five Christian Sayings You Need to Think About Before Using


I like Christian sayings. I like them when they maintain their meaning and don’t become cliche or just empty words. Here are five such phrases to consider:

1) I am praying for you- when we tell someone we will pray for them, we should definitely make sure that we actually pray for them! In fact, we should pray for them right then and there if we can. I don’t want to stand before God one day and He ask me why I kept telling people I would go to Him on their behalf and never did!

2) I don’t feel led– is it possible that this more times than not ends up being an excuse for what we really mean: Idon’t want to. We should be very careful to use God as our excuse not to serve. There might be times He directs us away from a specific role but be sure it is the Lord leading you.

3) I said the sinner’s prayer- in case you were not aware, there is not a specific prayer in the Bible for salvation. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pray and ask God to save you. We need to make sure it comes from the heart and is in our own words, confessing our sin and crying out to God. When I became a Christian, I didn’t have any script to pray. In fact, I wasn’t sure what to pray! I just cried out, “Jesus.” I am confident God saved me in that moment.

4) I’m forgiven, not perfect– of course this is true but when it is used as an excuse to justify your wrong actions, it is hypocrisy.  If you have to use this phrase then be careful you are not using it to justify your actions.

5) God is in control- again, no doubt that He is in control but when we use this only when things are overwhelming and believe we are in control the rest of the time then there is an issue. Also, God is in control should not be an excuse for you not to do what is right or what you are called to do. Or when we use this when we are in agreement with God but would never utter this phrase when God is calling us to do something we don’t like, then it is hypocrisy.

Top 10 Reasons Life Is A Disaster Without Jesus

Life without Christ is disastrous. Check your soul and you will see it is true. We all know this deep down that there is something more for us beyond ourselves and his world.

Here are ten reasons living without Jesus doesn’t work:

1. You need to be perfect to meet God’s standard and you can’t even get close by your own efforts.

We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.      Isaiah 64:6

2. You waste your whole life pursuing stuff and people that never brings you real joy and peace.

For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?  Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?   Mark 8:36-37

3. You are trying to find purpose in life without ever connecting with the only one who can give you real purpose. (It is like playing chess without the king on the board.)

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.   Romans 12:1-2

4. Being religious in order to clean up is about as beneficial as putting perfume and nice clothes on a corpse and calling it full of life.

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.  Matthew 23:27-28



5. Your enemy is stronger than you and can beat you down every time without divine intervention.

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8

6. You were made to bring glory to God and you are trying to give it to someone or something else and it’s making you miserable inside.

Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth- everyone who is called by my name  whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.” Isaiah 43:6-7

7. You place all your emphasis on living it up for the 70 years or so on earth and give no emphasis or preparation for the eternity you will have left after this life.

Set your mind on things above and not on earthly things.  Colossians 3:2

… yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. James 4:14

8. You are blind, unaware, ignorant and deceived and you think you can figure out your meaning on this earth on your own.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.   John 15:5

9. You will face a terrible judgment by the most powerful judge of all time who has overwhelming proof against you and can give the most devastating punishment and you are willing to take a chance that it will all go in your favor without any real reason to believe so except that you want it to be ok.

For the wages of sin is death… Romans 6:23

Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.  Revelation 20:14-15

10. You think you are pretty good compared to most of the world when your wickedness just looks different than yours.

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.  Romans 3:23

Truth is only found in Jesus and only when we have Jesus do we really know what it is to live.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.  John 10:10

WHAT IS THE MEANING OF MY LIFE?

Psalm 42:2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?

What are we here on this earth for? What is the meaning of my life? Every generation since the beginning of creation has asked that question in one way or another. What is my purpose? Am I part of something bigger than what I see? This question is natural because it is programmed in us by our Creator. He created us with a purpose, and, unless we figure out that purpose, we will be devoid of joy and peace in our lives.

Every person on earth tries to find their purpose in some way. Most spend their whole lives filling that answer with things that rust and destroy. New home, new cars, new putters, new clothes, new jobs, new kids, new spouse… and on and on. A never-ending pursuit of something more to bring a sense of purpose and meaning to life. Yet, one thing seems blatantly obvious when you have eyes to see it; nothing really satisfies. It all leaves you wanting more. It promises so much more than it can fulfill. The feelings of satisfaction with these things never last.

The problem is within your soul. Your soul has God-size expectations. After all, it was God who breathed the soul into us (Genesis 1:26-27). It refuses to be satisfied with anything less than God Himself.

What can truly satisfy the soul? That is the question we should be asking and on a journey to answer. The answer is found in only one place — with the God who made us. It’s not enough to serve a god. We can find “gods” in many forms. They are created in the mind of man and will only bring bondage as they can only bring deception and lack any power. Religion doesn’t make us happy. Only relationship with our Creator can do that.

I am talking about the God of the Bible. The One who created you to find purpose in something greater than yourself. The One who created you to glorify His name and find purpose in His kingdom. The One who created you to put others first and find joy in living sacrificially.

The greatest irony of humanity is that, the more we fill our lives with stuff to make us happy, the more dissatisfied we get where it matters most — in our souls. Take celebrities as the example here. Fame and fortune don’t cut it. A lot of rich and famous people are miserable. It’s the wrong diet for what our soul needs. The soul lives for something more pure, more relational, more redemptive. You can only find that in God.

In a word, we are left dissatisfied. We have chased the breeze never to catch it. We have been deceived by the devil to believe we could find happiness in things that never fully deliver.

Here is where I found true satisfaction for my soul:

* Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” (John 6:35)

* For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things. (Psalm 107:9)

When will you realize that Jesus is better than anything this world has to offer? When will you stop exhausting yourself chasing after happiness when it is only a prayer away?

Ashley Judd Represents What’s Wrong with our Culture

If you haven’t seen the crazy rant by Ashley Judd, I recommend not bothering. It was uncomfortable and sad to watch. It was shocking and purposeless. It had no value for any real cause.

Many will judge what Ashley Judd said but reality is she represents the current climate of our American culture. There is an increasing boldness and brashness to our culture’s justifications of shocking and immoral actions. The pattern is quite traceable. It starts out subtle. Decades ago, media started putting more and more sexual innuendos in their shows and commercials. Magazines start showing more and more skin in publications not called Playboy or some other adult entertainment. The line keeps getting pushed further and further. The line keeps getting blurred more and more. Our moral senses become further desensitized.  Sin gets bolder and more shocking. Homosexuality goes from taboo to the norm, a culture demanding that it be readily acceptable, all in the name of progress. Feminism becomes an excuse to be rude and crude. Rated PG today used to be rated R  years ago. It is like drowning slowly not realizing you are sinking until too late.

The attitude in our culture that is prevalent is one of tolerance. “Do whatever feels good and don’t you dare question me because it is my right,” is what Ashley Judd and millions more proclaim in this time. All the while our culture loses its moral decency and slips slowly down a slippery slope of debauchery and filth.

What will be the end result? Eventually the culture will break down under the force of its own immorality. The church will be ridiculed and God will be shunned. The people will be turned over to the gods of their making and it’s own demise will become inevitable. Those who love sin will loathe statements like this, will revile it as preachy and paranoid. They will rave against it as judgmental and close minded. Yet, anyone who takes a moment to look can see the instability of what we have witnessed in Ashley Judd’s rant. There is no hope in that message. There is only ignorance: “I am my own master and I will say and do what I want and no one has a right to tell me otherwise.” That is the message of the day and it will lead our culture to what it wishes: a godless, immoral, chaotic heap that will come crashing down.
Those who love Christ must take notice and stand firmer than ever before. No compromise must be our stance; yet not allowing our moral stand to result in isolation but rather, reaching out to the Ashley Judd’s and offering them a better way, a way of hope and purpose. We can’t join in and we can’t isolate. We must see the devastation of the moment and fight to rescue those caught up in it. We must be a voice in the darkness. We can’t be scared of it or run from it. We must engage it with light and hope.

There will be many more shocking moments like Ashley Judd’s to come. Be prepared, prayed up, and ready to engage this culture with the only hope it has, Jesus Christ.

Christian Response to Orlando Massacre


For God so love the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16

Infected saints, we live in a world polluted by hatred and evil. Again, we are confronted with senseless tragedy by radical individuals for no other purpose than to instill fear and reveal the depth of their hate. Many have died. Families are devastated. Orlando is in pain. All of us are affected and hurt for them. It doesn’t matter the lifestyle or beliefs of the victims here. They didn’t deserve this. No one does. We are not called to be judge nor executioner. Yet, so often, flawed individuals do heinous acts in the name of their god. Tragic…. Senseless…. A divine opportunity for the church.

I am a Christian. I hold to the morals as set out for me in God’s Word. I do not create them or have the right to pick and choose the ones I like. He sets the standard I follow. My calling, my passion, my life ― none of these are dedicated to getting others to follow those same morals. I am not dedicating my life’s work to getting people to act better. What would be the point? So they can live “cleaner” lives and still be dead on the inside? That is not my hope. That is not the goal of the church ― to reform the world to act better. We are to preach a different message than dead legalism.

I am an evangelist to both the world and the church. To the world, I preach love and grace. They need to know I care. That my agenda is pure. That I have their best intentions at heart. To the church, I preach the same message but not as ones who are to receive, but rather to give, love and grace. To the church, I say: “Quit ignoring. Quit staying in a bubble, loving those like you and not engaging the hurting all around you. It is not enough to just not hate. Not hating does not mean you care. That is not the Gospel!”

Love is active and messy. We need to reach out. We all should be looking for opportunity to show love and care to the LGBT community around us. This means engaging in dialogue and showing love by listening and praying and serving them. It doesn’t mean we have to agree with their lifestyle. It also doesn’t mean calling it out through hateful rhetoric either.

Too often, the church’s response is to retreat and not engage. Christ doesn’t want us to stand aside and watch. It is not enough to say we don’t hate. If we don’t engage, doesn’t that send the message that we don’t care? It’s tough work. It’s messy. Some will judge us for caring and call us compromisers. That’s okay. They did the same to Jesus.

This recent tragedy is horrible; yet, it is an opportunity for the church to show care. To give love. To be the Gospel lived out. It starts with words but does not end there. It’s time to step out and love, in action, those who are not like us or who do not believe like us. Jesus would be right in the middle of this, loving them and offering eternal hope. We should do the same!

10 Signs You Might Be A Lukewarm Christian

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 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other!  So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.  Revelation 3:15-16

Inspired by Francis Chan’s book, Crazy Love, I set out to write my own top 10 list of indicators you might be living a lukewarm Christianity. Be warned toes will hurt if you read. Be honest with yourself. Read above and see the Lord’s warning for living lukewarm. And remember if you are not guilty of one or two of these it doesn’t make you hot for the Lord.

  1. You think mostly about how to be comfortable and happy on this earth with little thought of Heaven and eternal life.

  2. You give God the leftovers rather than the first fruits of yourself.

  3. You seek God but usually only if you are in a bind.

  4. You don’t share you faith with the lost but you have really good excuses why this is.

  5. You say you believe in God but if we were to record your Monday-Saturday it would reveal that you live as if God doesn’t even exist.

  6. You spend more on your cell phone bill than you give to God.

  7. Someone outside of who you see on Sundays asks you what you love most and Jesus doesn’t get mentioned.

  8. You would rather your kids be happy and popular rather than holy and devoted to God.

  9. You are quick to volunteer at your kids school or sporting event but make excuses why you cannot volunteer at church.

  10. You know you practice sin but justify by saying “doesn’t everyone?”

When One Hurts, We Rally

picture taken by Josh Amyx.

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Philippians 2:4

Good friends of mine lost their house in a fire this week. They lost everything but pot holders, a signed basketball, and a few pictures salvaged. Fortunately, their lives were spared. And of course that is really what matters. Nevertheless,  I am hurting for them and the loss of not only their valuables but those things that cannot be replaced… pictures and awards and certificates that are precious to us as families.

Their loss ignited an outpouring. Our church rallied. The amount of prayers and support would inspire the greatest doubter that people can really care. It was inspiring to see. It reminded me of an absolute truth… We need each other.  You really do need your church. You might think you don’t but I assure you God never intended you to go it alone. We don’t need the church only to receive but for us to give as well.

We need each other. The body of Christ was meant to be a group of people that do life together. That love each other and rally around its members when they are hurting. The body is not always perfect in this. There are times where people slip through the cracks and feel neglected. Sometimes it is because they Attend the church but are not connected to the church. There is a difference. God intended the church body to be a close, connected community that loves each other.

We need each other. We were never meant to do this life alone. We need those outside of our immediate family to love us. So often when something happens it effects our family and those outside of it are the ones who can comfort us and love on us in our greatest time of need. It shows us how much God loves us when church people rally to show us support. It is supernatural. It is God’s will for His body.

We need each other. We need each other to share our burdens with; to celebrate our joyous moments; to grow together in the Lord; to raise our kids together; to serve with one another. To come together as a community that we can be real with. It is an authentic community. I am accepted and loved just as I accept and love others in return.

We need each other. When life throws us a curveball, we need others to help hold us up; to help us find perspective; to hold us while we grieve; to help us pick up the pieces and move forward. God wants His body to take care of each other. Christ would have us reach the world with the gospel but if the church doesn’t care for its own, how will our message be received?

The church is not the church if it doesn’t care for its own in the name of Jesus.

Dax

Divine Appointments Happen Everyday

18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  Matthew 28:18-20

When I worked at the bank, every day brought a divine appointment. What do I mean by divine appointment? Glad you asked. It is an opportunity to share the gospel with someone who has crossed your path. Might be a stranger or a coworker or a family member. Regardless, it is someone that you encounter where opportunity arises to share your faith.

For me, I helped people with their finances. That afforded me many counseling sessions as people looked to build homes or manage their money. Personal stuff always came up. Daily I was set up for a great opportunity to share Christ. Problem is… I rarely took it. I would hear people share their struggles or fears, creating a great launching pad for me to share the gospel. I would discuss with them concerns over their marriage and children. Fears about investments and retirement.  I always offered advice but never mentioned Jesus. A little bit of advice is one thing but Jesus takes it to a whole new level.

I always wanted to share Jesus. I had it in mind but I always talked myself out of it. They are not here to be preached at… this is a bank not a church… they will feel awkward… I will feel awkward! I rarely went through the  door God opened for me.

I would hint at things like church or the Bible or prayer. I saw this as seed planting but honestly it was just me being scared to speak the gospel. They were sharing with me their hurts and pains. I had the answer for that! I just needed to share it. Whether they received it or not was not my mission. I was to share Jesus with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15). I was not to be ashamed of the gospel because it was the only thing that had the power to save them (Romans 1:16).  

Then I had a client die. She had bought a motorcycle and I did the financing for her. She had told me she was struggling with some things and wanted to ride to spend more time away with her husband. I listened and offered some quick wisdom but no Jesus. On her first trip on her bike she lost control and hit s guard rail. She passed on the scene. To this day it haunts me that I didn’t seize the opportunity to share Christ with her. I pray she knew Him.

The issue is getting started. Where do we begin? Here are some good conversation starters to sharing the gospel with those you encounter during the week:

  • What is your view of God and His role in your life?
  • Have you ever thought that God wants to help you deal with that issue?
  • How specifically can I pray for you?
  • May I tell you how God helps me with my issues?

Once you have started the conversation you what to share with them the gospel. Sharing the gospel means leading them to an understanding of sin, Christ’s sacrifice, and their need for Him. The Bible needs to be shared here to lead them to Christ. Here is a suggested plan:

  • Romans 3:23– all of us sin. Sin means missing the mark. We don’t meet the standard God demands for us to be acceptable. His standard is perfection. None of us are perfect.
  • Romans 6:23– Sin has a consequence. It is eternal death. Because of our sin we fail to meet God’s standard and therefore we will be found unworthy. You are not right with God on your own merit.
  • Romans 5:8– While we were unworthy, Jesus did something for us that we couldn’t do for ourself. He took on our penalty and died in our place. Because of  his sacrifice, we can have forgiveness of sins (John 3:16).
  • Romans 10:9-10,13– How do you receive the benefits of all Jesus has done and get right with God? You have to believe. You respond with faith, believing that your sins are covered by Jesus. You submit your life to Him and your sins are no longer held over you.
  • Galatians 2:20; 2 Corinthians 5:17– You are now a new creation. You have been transformed by the gospel. You need to now live by faith and trust in Christ.

We are given divine appointments every day to share the faith. Don’t pass on them hoping someone else will share. God wants you to share your faith with them.

Dax

 

Last Week of Jesus- Thursday

 

 

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36 Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.”37 He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled.38 Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”40 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter.41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”42 He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”43 When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy.44 So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.    Matthew 26:36-44

It is Thursday night. In less than 24 hours Jesus will be dead. Could you imagine the emotional turmoil of knowing tomorrow would be your last? Jesus was humans and he was struggling with knowing what was to come.  So he led his disciples to go and pray. His favorite spot was the Garden of Gethsemane. He and the disciples had just finished the Last Supper for the Passover. Jesus had watched as Judas left the table to go and betray Him. He passed the cup to Peter, knowing that Peter would deny him three times tomorrow. One last intimate meal with his twelve, knowing they would all scatter from Him in His hour of greatest suffering.  Jesus needed perspective so He went to the garden to find peace, guidance, and comfort from His Father.

How Jesus dealt with his impending suffering and death epitomizes how we should deal with our own pain and tragedy. We can learn how to deal with our own times of trials and pain from Jesus here in three specific ways.

Jesus brought Friends With Him

In His most difficult hours, anticipating His own death, Jesus drew his friends close to him. During these difficult times, we need people to walk with us. So many times we isolate form others when facing tough times. Be vulnerable with them. You are hurting. Ask them to bear it with you. People who care about you will do that. Jesus never shut them out. Even though they were often confused and probably frustrating to him, He included them until the end. He needed them.

Don’t Write Friends Off If They Fail To Meet Your Expectations and Disappoint You

Jesus asked His disciples to pray with Him. It had been a rough and tiring week. They were emotionally and physically spent. While praying, the disciples fell asleep. Jesus was disappointed to say the least. Wouldn’t you be? You are going to die and your closest friends fall asleep on you when their supposed to be praying for you! But what I want you to notice is that Jesus did not write them off. He continued to let them in and share His burden even after they disappointed Him. He needed them and He did not let their mistake destroy the bond. We need friends to be with us when we are hurting but we need to remember they have their own lives to live and their own struggles to face. They may fail to meet our expectations perfectly in our time of need. Show them grace. You need them. Let them be there for you even in their imperfections and quirks.

Jesus was Persistent In Praying

Jesus found a special place to pray. He found His prayer closest. No coined prayers offered here. Jesus prayed his guts out. His intimacy with the Father was on full display. Jesus prayed all night and did not stop until he had peace and His answer. Notice Jesus didn’t get what he asked for. He wanted to be saved from the torture, the pain… He wanted to be released from impending death. Yet, His Father said no. His Father’s will was for Jesus to die for humanity. The very ones to kill Jesus was who He would be dying for.  Jesus submitted fully and came to peace with what his father desired. We give up to quickly in our prayers. We pray a quick prayer and walk away already anticipating no clear answer. Why? We need to pray with determination. We need to cry out to God and not stop until we hear from him. God will answer if we seek Him until he does. If we need to pray all night then so be it. God will answer.

What a gut wrenching night this was for Jesus and his disciples. To know that tomorrow you die. Jesus could have stopped it. He had the power to do so. Yet, he submitted to His Father and died for us. He went through all of this suffering for me and for you. When we suffer, He is with us. He understands our pain and agony. He has experienced it. We are never alone. He walks with us all the way into eternity.